Sunday, January 31, 2010

We Still Have A Shot

Friday, 1-29-10 (Day 31) 1dp6dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Four pounds down, a lot more to go. But I'm starting to wonder if this change in diet is actually working, or if I'm just finally loosing some water weight from the retrieval.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Last one.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Despite the pain, I hope I have to continue these for a very long time.

1dp6dt: Today, at one day past my six day transfer, the blastocysts should be hatching out of their shells.

As a sort of disclaimer, I should mention that the above information is actually used to describe what happens one day past a five day transfer instead of a six day transfer, but I'm still using this description because technically, my embryos reached the expanded blast stage a day later than normal, so there a little behind anyway.

Unlike last cycle I spent today at home, on the couch, doing absolutely nothing. I felt lazy and a bit spastic do to a lack of movement, but I'm taking advantage of the second half of my forty-eight hour rest to ensure I give these little ones all the time they need to settle into their new home.

The plan is to resume life as normal starting tomorrow, and trust that I've done all I can to rest my body in preparation of this pregnancy.


How weird is that? I keep forgetting that unless God has decided to take these little ones home to be with Him already, I really am pregnant.

Although I trust Him and His will for my life, I can't help but selfishly pray that He let's me keep them.

Saturday, 1-30-10 (Day 32) 2dp6dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): According to this Mayo Clinic diet, I should be dropping about half a pound every day, but I'm not budging.

Oh well, I'm pregnant, so it doesn't really matter anyway.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): I'm starting to enjoy my nighttime injections now that we're settling into a sort of routine. Every night I prepare my injection, shower and get comfortable, receive my injection, then relax on the couch with my heating pad for about an hour with my husband while watching mindless TV.

The whole process is actually pretty enjoyable.

Progesterone (50mg suppositories): :::sigh:::

I was supposed to start these awful, nasty, messy suppositories last night, but I completely forgot. So when I realized my mistake early this afternoon, I ran to the bedroom, inserted the oily, rocket shaped suppository, propped up my legs and read for about an hour.

But as soon as I stood up to jump in the shower, gravity pretty much pushed out everything I had worked so hard to put in, so I'm not sure how successful this endeavour really was.

2dp6dt: At two days past my six day transfer, the blastocysts should be attaching to a site on my uterine lining.

Sunday, 1-31-10 (Day 33) 3dp6dt

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Since the diet itself doesn't seem to be working, I took our precious embryos for their first brisk walk today. It felt so nice to get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine that's finally made it's debut after weeks of rain, rain, and more rain.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Tonight's injection was followed by a heating pad, a glass of diet root beer and the girls of Wisteria Lane.

Progesterone (50mg suppositories): Last cycle, I experienced some spotting that was linked to these suppositories, but it didn't begin until almost a week into taking them.

Yesterday, I experienced a small amount of light pink spotting, and today, I woke up to a few streaks of bright red blood.

I would love to panic, I really would, but I'm not going to.

Instead I wrote my nurse an email explaining our predicament, and I'll do my best to stay away from the message boards and google about this matter until I hear her take on it all. I'll also try not to worry that the brisk walking I did this afternoon very well may have interrupted the implanting process that my time chart tells me should be happened today.

The reality is that this same spotting happened last cycle, and even though I didn't believe it was the suppositories at the time, as soon as I received my negative beta and stopped taking them, the spotting stopped. So this time I have to trust that it's just the suppositories, nothing else.

And that my body is simply a freak of nature.

3dp6dt: At three days past my six day transfer, implantation should begin as the blastocysts begin to bury into my lining.

I feel like a plastic yo-yo, all wound up one second, and then released the next. My drama induced over analytical self is telling me to be realistic and keep my hopes low, because the embryos that we transferred were slow-growing, low-graded, and a day late.

But then there's a still sensible yet optimistic side of my heart that just can't forget the happenings of the past few days, and the reality is that weather this cycle results in a pregnancy or not, a miracle has already taken place.

When the clinic called with our day three embryo reports, I was sure this would end up being another canceled cycle all over again. I started to put away my paperwork, plan my schedule around no longer having to leave town for a transfer, and start thinking about the next cycle and what I'd do differently.

I even refused a PIO shot.

But despite my sullen attitude, God chose to grow two of our precious embryos and bring them to an expanded blast state even when it seemed impossible. He hand picked these two miracles, molding and shaping them into exactly what He wanted them to be, making a six day transfer possible even when it shouldn't have been, and that's a kind of hope I choose to hold on too.

These two miraculous embryos that I pray are still thriving inside of me were given the lowest grade possible, but after what God has done for us this past week, what does it really matter? How dare I limit God in saying that they probably won't stick around, or that they have any less of a chance of survival then two perfect grade one embryos would have?

So I'm trusting God and trying my best to keep a healthy balance, knowing that He can make a pregnancy out of this, but keeping in mind that He still may not choose to do so.

But He can.

"Lord, I don't know where all this is going,
or how it all works out,
lead me to peace that is past understanding,
a peace beyond all doubt."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Transfer Day {Part II}

Thursday, 1-28-10 (Day 30)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Starbucks and I are good again, because I finally found something I can have that doesn't make me feel guilty one little bit.

A sugar free, caffeine free passion fruit ice tea.

Now only if they could make it organic.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Last one.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Second to last one.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Tonight, I gladly excepted this injection, so much so that I almost opted to get shot twice just to make up for the skipped shot last Tuesday.

Egg Transfer: After packing our bags and heading down to my in-laws late last night to be closer to the clinic for this mornings possible transfer, the sheer panic and fear of loosing our remaining embryos resulting in a canceled cycle began to slowly diminish.

God, I trust you.

The more I contemplated yesterdays events, complete with the surprising news of three struggling life's still growing in a petri dish, the more I began to find peace in remembering that God is in control.

I knew this all along, but I finally began to really trust it.

And as we woke up early to make the hour long drive to Sacramento, I still felt a slight pang anxiety every time I caught a glance at my phone, mentally willing it not to ring and bring us news that none of our babies made it through the night and our transfer was off.

God, I trust you.

As we arrived at the clinic and opened the doors, a rush of peace came over me. And then as we sat down in the waiting room and waited to hear our fate, Dr. Greene himself came out to greet us and assure us that we still had two beautiful expanded blasts ready to transfer; they would have called first thing this morning, but they didn't want me to see them on the caller ID, think the worst and fall into cardiac arrest, so they decided to wait until we arrived.

I love that they know me so well.

We were then taken into his office and shown the pictures of our precious little ones, and reassured that although they were graded at a three, that doesn't mean they are hopeless. It just means they wouldn't be freezable, because only the highest grades are frozen as they are the most capable of surviving the stressful freeze and thaw process, but they were still miraculous.

Slow growing and fragmented, but miraculous fighters nonetheless.

And as we watched the Dr. and his team place our babies inside of my uterus on the fuzzy black screen, the past few days flashed through my head, playing like an old black and white film that only I could see.

I watched the follicles dance on the ultrasound screen, and felt the disappointment of an unchanged response, followed by the pride of being told we should expect around fifteen good eggs. Then I was in the recovering room, upset and crazed by a low number of the five thought-to-be-mature-follicles, followed by the gratitude of finding that in fact nine had been mature. And then I was at my desk at work, receiving the call that eight had fertilized, but the majority of our embryos were low celled, low grade, and not showing appreciable change even after day four, followed by the sense of hope that came with knowing on day five that we may still have a chance at transfer.

God, I trust you.

And then I was back in the room, laying on the sterile table once again with my husband by my side, watching conception take place on a gritty screen and being told that as of right now, we're pregnant with two flashing white spheres.

The most beautiful flashing white blurs I've ever seen, ever.

And so begins the week long wait to see what God has in store for us. By this time next Friday, we'll know if He has chosen us to carry two of His littlest angels and raise them here on this earth, or if He's decided to take them back to His Heavenly home to join our other embryos that were just too beautiful for this earth.

God, I trust you.

"Sometimes when we're waiting for God to speak, He's waiting for us to listen."
-Martha Bolton

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Embryo Growth Report {Part III}

Sunday, 1-24-10 (Day 26)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Operation get skinny is in full affect as of today.

Well, not get skinny, since I'd really rather get fat with child, but you know what I mean.

My husband and I started a quick fad diet today called the mayo clinic diet that consists of only twelve days of eating a combination of meat, vegetables, salads and grapefruit juice. I'm in no way a fan of quick fad diets, especially shady ones like this that seem to good to be true and involve no fruit, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

If done properly, the diet claims to give me the exact jump start I need by enabling me to loose approximately ten pounds in twelve days.

We'll see.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Still just a big, expensive, nausiating white pill.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Other than the obnoxious consitipation that I've never experienced in previous cycles, this pill has done an amazing job of making me feel better after the retrieval.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): The heating pad is my best friend.

Monday, 1-25-10 (Day 27)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Check.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Check.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Check.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Check.

Embryo Report (Day 3): I'm sorry for the above lack of whitty remarks on all of my pills and PIO injection, but I'm just not feeling up to trying to be funny today. I'm having a hard enough time just sitting here at work, trying to hold it together, pushing back the tears that are threatening to spill out at any minute.

Just a few minutes ago I recieved the call that out of the nine mature embryos, eight of them did in fact fertilize, and that's great news. But what's not so great is the grades and amount of cells that each of them hold. As of today, we have:

(1) 6-celled grade 3
(1) 5-celled grade 2
(1) 5-celled grade 3
(1) 4-celled grade 2
(3) 4-celled grade 3
(1) 2-celled grade 1

Keeping in mind that a grade of three is the worst grade possible, we realize that more than half of our embryos probably won't make it. And with at least 8-cells being ideal by day three, our highest graded embryo is only at 2-cells, which suggests that it may have arrested and is no longer growing.

Even though the embryologist doesn't like to disturb the embryos unless absolutely necessary, the lab will make a special exception for us since we live several hours away and check on them all tomorrow, letting us know if we have any quality embryos left for the transfer on Wednesday.

Our hope is that our 5-celled and 4-celled grade two embryos make it to the blast stage and don't lessen in quality while doing so. And if our little 2-celled grade one embryo would start to grow, that would be greatly appreciated.

I know God has a plan. I know with Him, all things are possible. I know I should remain optimistic and hopefull for a miracle, and greatful that I even have embryos growing at this point. I know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.

But sometimes I just don't understand.

Tuesday, 1-26-10 (Day 28)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): After yesterday's not so good news of our slow growing embryo report, I threatened several times to kill our diet by making a delectable Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake with matching frosting, with full intentions of consuming the entire thing myself.

But I held strong and decided not to give in; at least not until drastic measures like the possibility of finding out our cycle is canceled come into play.

Because if that's the case, all bets-and diets-are off.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Skipped it.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Took it.

But only because it helps me to heal, and has nothing to do with the transfer process.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): It's hard to take these massive injections when you're not sure if you still need them or not.

So I skipped it.

My husband tried his best to talk me into it, but there was no way I was letting him stick me with this long, thick needle tonight. And after he saw my face-and knew I was serious-he put away the PIO and left the matter alone.

Embryo report (Day 4): Sadly, today's news is hardly better than yesterdays. Currently, the embryos we have in culture have made what our embryologist has called "no appreciable change", which basically means they just aren't growing, although they haven't yet arrested.

Alas, we are scheduled for a six day transfer on Thursday, in hopes that one extra day in culture will give the embryos we have the time they need to reach the coveted blast stage.

And if they don't, our cycle will be canceled.


Wednesday, 1-27-10 (Day 29)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Now on day four of our new diet and down a surprising four pounds, my theory that this little blue pill is the devil is proving to be wrong.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Just a few more left.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): Easy.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): For the first time ever, it took three attempts to make this shot happen, mostly due to the fact that I tried to be a tough girl and ditch the ice pack before the injection.

That won't be happening again.

Embryo Report (Day 5): Oh ye of little faith...

God must have spent the past few days looking down on me from up in Heaven, slowly shaking His head back and forth in disappointment, mumbling this famous biblical line while watching me struggle, loose faith, and almost give up.

Yet somehow, despite my lack of faith, He didn't give up on me.

After waiting on pins and needles all day, we received the call that three of our precious embryos were still growing, with two of them at the blast stage and one of them still fighting to grow but stuck at the stage just before becoming a blast.

They are all a grade three, but I don't care.

As long as our three remarkable, slow growing fighters hold on and make it through the night, pushing as hard as they can to become expanded blasts in the next twelve hours, our six day transfer is set for 9am tomorrow.

So with a humbling sense of amazement at God's faithfulness, mixed with a renewed faith and hope for what tomorrow may bring, I'll continue to pray for the development of our remaining embryo blessings.

And wonder why I ever doubted miracles in the first place.

"When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fertilization Report {Part III}

Saturday, 1-23-10 (Day 25)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill):I know we've established that this pill probably isn't the sole reason for my infertility weight gain, but since we are down at my in-laws house I took advantage of the scale in one of their guest bathrooms.

The digital number I saw flash on the screen knocked the air out of me.

I'm aware that I'm fresh out of a surgery that left my insides swollen and full of fluid, but what I saw on that scale was beyond water weight. I've officially gone ten pounds beyond my I-will-never-weigh-that-much-again-weight, and although I knew I was feeling a little heavier than normal, I had no idea the extent to which I'd, well, blossomed.

Not good.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Still making me nauseous, but obviously not enough to affect my appetite.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): As I examined the label today, I saw a tiny yellow sticker in the upper right hand corner warning that this medication may cause drowsiness. I have been feeling extra drained lately, so I'm going to start taking it at night with my second Ciprofloxacin instead of in the morning with my Dexamethasone and hope that my energy picks back up.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): This time, I made sure my husband switched to the smaller needle before shooting.

So much better.

Fertilization Report: For some reason I wasn't as anxious as I remember being last cycle, waiting for the call to let us know how many of our eggs had fertilized and now become embryos. And since our retrieval wasn't until later in the afternoon yesterday, I thought it would be safe to jump in the shower this morning, unconcerned about missing a call I wasn't expecting until after twelve.

I enjoyed a long, hot shower and tried to relax my throbbing, swollen ovaries with steam and organic bath products. And when I was done, I took my time with my usual lotion and hair product routine, wanting to look good for the long awaited phone call about my babies. And then, as I stepped out of the bathroom and over to the bed to get dressed, I glanced at my cell phone sitting on the dresser and caught sight of the missed call from SIRM.

And my heart stopped beating.

My fingers felt thick and clumsy as I typed in my pass code to listen to the voicemail, and it took three times to get it right. As soon as I hear the nurse's voice on the line, I immediately analyzed her tone in anticipation of what was to come.

Nurse: Good morning Tabitha, I was just calling with your fertilization report...

Me: Oh, I'm going to throw up.

Nurse: I don't normally like to leave this news in a voicemail, but...

Me: That doesn't sound good, here we go.

Nurse: From what Dirk saw this morning, it looks like we have nine m2's...

Me: Wait, what does that mean? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Nurse: And three M1's...

Me: (Freaking out)

Nurse: With five GV's and one abnormal one...

Me: What is a GV? And why is one retarded?

Nurse: And out of the nine mature eggs...

Me: Nine mature? Not twelve, but better than five...and how many fertilized? HOW MANY FERTILIZED?!?

Nurse: Seven have fertilized normally

Me: Okay, seven is good.

Nurse: And the other two are still being watched for fertilization, they just may need a little more time in culture.

Me: Wait, maybe NINE?!?

Nurse: So we have a potential fertilization rate of 100%, which we are very pleased with...

I erased the voicemail and breathed a sigh of relief before realized I was pacing around the room naked after dropping my towel during the climax of the call, so I quickly got dressed and headed to the computer to activate a google search on M2's, M1's, and GV's.

It turns out that M2's are indeed fully mature eggs that have reached the meiotic competence stage (which we have nine of), M1's are not quite mature enough to fertilize (we have three) and GV's are at the germinal vesicle stage and are immature (five), and I later found out that our one abnormal egg had actually split, so it was useless.

So out of eighteen eggs, half were mature, and that beats our previous rates in our past two cycles (thirteen retrieved with three mature for the first cycle, and twenty-two retrieved with seven mature for our second cycle). And while our fertilization rates have always been impressive (two out of three for the first cycle, and six out of seven for the second cycle), the possibility of 100% fertilization is absolute perfection.

And I'm feeling really good.

Thank you all so much for your prayers. I feel the peace and calm they have smothered me in, and I see them being answered in the results attained thus far. We still have a long ways to go, and our patience will once again be tested as our clinic won't disturb the embryos again until day three, so we will continue to hope and pray for some rockstar, high grade, multiple celled embryos to emerge for Monday's update.

Until then, we're praising God for our seven-possibly nine-miracle embryos growing in culture.

And thinking (+) positive.

“For myself, I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else”
-Winston Churchill

Friday, January 22, 2010

Retrieval Day {Part III}

Friday, 1-22-10 (Day 24)

Ciprofloxin (500mg tablet, twice daily): Since I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight due to today's retrieval, my nurse coordinator allowed me skip my Dexamethasone. So besides the introduction of the E2 lowering Dostinex, this was my only pill of the day.

Clindamyacin (150mg suppository): Good thing this was the last one, because documenting these vaginal suppositories seems almost inappropriate.

Dostinex (.5mg, oral pill): I really don't mind adding another pill into the mix when it holds the capability of deflating bloat like this one does.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): I was trying to figure out why this injection was more painful than I remember it being, when my husband removed the shot and vocalized that he forgot to switch from the massive 22 1/2 gage needle that's included on the 3mL syringe to the smaller, less evasive 18 gage one before injecting.

Yeah, that would explain why.

Egg Retrieval: Since this was my third time going through the retrieval process, nothing was new. I was extremely comfortable and not in the least bit anxious, because I knew what to expect and I was thrilled at the thought of receiving an amazing number from the doctor as soon as the anesthesia wore off.

I was wheeled into the operating room welcoming the nice long nap I was about to take, scooting myself down the table and raising my wrist for the doctor without even being asked to do so. I smiled as I felt the cool rush of the anesthesia and the urge to cough that always follows as I start to drift off into a state of bliss, excited to get this party stated. And then I woke up quickly-as usual-alert and asking how many eggs were retrieved and how many were mature.

The nurse or the doctor-I don't remember which one because I was still a little loopy-smiled and congratulated me on my eighteen retrieved eggs with five thought to be mature, and seven still being watched.

I can't remember who told me, but the numbers bore into my brain and they still haven't left.

I remember thinking to myself that they must have mixed me up with someone else. I even passed a sharp glance over to the bed on the left to be sure I was the only one in the room to receive this news, because it just couldn't be right, it wasn't meant for me to hear. Because last I heard the doctor was thrilled with my response, beyond elated with my thirty-something follicles. I asked him how many he expected to retrieve, and he responded with a number between twenty-five and thirty, with around fifteen expected to be mature.

Fifteen, not five.

How did we retrieve less follicles and end up with even less mature eggs than last cycle?

I'm not going to lie; I was pretty upset. Disappointed, angry, saddened and confused don't even begin to describe the horrendous mix of emotions that ran hot through my body, burning and boiling inside of me. I wanted to strangle the news deliverer, tell them there must be a mistake and wipe that perky grin off their face.

I don't remember who it was, but I remember them smiling, and I wanted them to stop.

I was not the best patient after that. I got snappy with the new strange and slow nurse when she started to go over the instructions for the next few days with me, because I've heard them all before. I even waited until she left the room and started removing my IV, ready to escape that cold, sterile room, still holding a grudge from earlier when she did a horrible job of inserting it in the first place. It's a good thing she came back before I could finish removing the tape, or I probably would have made a mess of myself. I ignored her hand as she tried to help me to the restroom, because I was steady enough on my own. And after I got dressed, I rolled my eyes when she made me wait for the wheelchair.

And as she turned around, I walked myself out.

I feel completely horrified and embarrassed that I'm documenting myself being a less than desirable patient, and I'm not proud of how I was acting or how I took the news of my less than stellar meatball count. Now that a few hours have passed and I've calmed myself down, I realize that I should still be praising God through this storm and thankful for the blessing of my five precious eggs. God is still in control, and how I responded today did nothing short of exude a childish behavior and severe lack of faith.

I reacted like a spoiled brat, and in my disappointment I limited God.

There is still a part of me that wants to call up the doctor right now and discuss the matter, inquiring about the false hope I was given. Ask him why in the world he led me to believe we were expecting around fifteen mature eggs when he only managed to retrieve about five, and if he were to smile and tell me that it only takes one I would throat punch him. I want to know what happened to the thirty two follicles we were staring at on the screen last Wednesday, and why my otherwise noted healthy body happens to be a freak of nature when it comes to all things IVF.

I want to know if this is my fault because I messed up the trigger shot.

But then there's another part of me that refuses to give up hope. A piece of my heart that feels a deep and unconditional love for my five precious meatball eggs, and the other seven that just may reach maturity and fertilize after all, despite my bipolar negativity and uncharacteristic rudeness to all medical professionals involved. A part of me that knows despite today's setback, the doctor and his medical staff are doing all they can to impregnate my otherwise sterile womb; and for that I should be grateful.

Maybe this is just a test, one that will force me to relinquish control and pass all unnecessary worry on to my God that created the universe in less than a week. Because if He can part the Red Sea, heal the blind, and turn water into wine, He's certainly capable of blessing us with twelve mature, fertilized eggs by tomorrow. And although I'm still slightly irritated with this afternoons results, I'm still very calm; because I know this much to be true.

With God, all things are possible.

"What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise."
-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, January 21, 2010

When Shooting, Less Is More

Monday, 1-18-10 (Day 20)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Have I successfully conveyed how happy I am to not have a working scale in the house right now?

I'm just saying.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I'm starting to wonder if it's truly pregnancy brain I'm experiencing, or if I'm just over exhausted from the events leading up to this point. In attempt to keep this cycle a secret, I'm doing my best to keep all appointments and previous engagements as to avoid sparking any curiosity, and so far it's working.

But it's starting to ware me out, and beginning today we'll add in several hours of traveling a day and no doubt numerous false explanations as to why I'm not at work or able to meet someone for a quick get together at the last minute or a trip to the gym.

And so begins the excitement of Follicle checks, E2's, traveling chronicles and little white lies.

Follistim (150units, subQ injection): By now, I should be feeling more than the slight comparison of my ovaries to small water balloons, but I don't. When I walk, I can feel a sort of swishing pressure, as if the tiny water balloons were sloshing inside of me, but it's not necessarily painful, just slightly uncomfortable, so I refuse to complain.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): I really hope that the addition of this drug a day earlier will show vast improvements in egg quality, and in just a few short days until we'll find out for sure.

Ciprofloxin (500mg tablet, twice daily): After receiving my instructions to begin this antibiotic in the evening, I couldn't find it. I dug through my bag of extra needles, my purse, my car, my closet, and made a frantic phone call to my mother who assured me that it was only an antibiotic so it wasn't a big deal if I didn't start it tonight.

But I didn't want to pay another $60 for a new prescription, so I kept digging.

Finally, after a few hours and a trip up to my work, I found them sitting in a tote next to my desk, keeping company with my church clerk binder, my iPod, and a granola bar.

I was too excited about finding them to contemplate the how's and why's.

E2 & U/S: Because my husband needs to work right now and I'm the one with the ovaries, today my mother and I made the three hour drive south to Sacramento to open up my crock pot and watched intently as the Dr. counted out twenty-three beautiful follicles, a number far higher than we were expecting at this point.

Yet somehow I was still disappointed.

This cycle has been amazing so far. I've felt more peace and hope and joy then any previous cycle of any previous fertility treatment. But the moment the doctor started measuring all of those sporadic follicles ranging from 10 to 20mm in size, I could feel my heart drop.

Because my dose of Follistim was cut in half; yet somehow my rockstar ovaries ignored that fact and produced the same amount and the same size follicles as it had in the past. And while that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, it wasn't the change I was hoping for, and I was instantly terrified of the past repeating itself.

Because the past sucks.

But while I was feeling sorry for myself on the hard table contemplating what this meant, the doctor was busy commending me on responding better to half the dose of medicine and marveling that less-in my case-is indeed more. He confirmed that we need to come back in tomorrow to see the growth progress, because he's determined to push us a little farther this time so we can achieve our goals of more mature embryos.

He then looked up and read my slight disappointment, and I could see his facial features change from excitement to curiosity. I informed him that I understand that producing that many follicles on such a ridiculously low dose of stims was indeed wonderful, but I was expecting less follicles closer in size at this point.

Even as the words came out I knew I was being dramatic, and I assumed the stress of traveling and failed expectations had me all wound up and crazy in the head. But nonetheless, I was in need of reassurance that this was a good thing and that's exactly what I was given. And when I asked him if there was anything I could do to improve my lining, he looked at me like I was insane, so I reminded him that for my last cycle I was sitting at a cushioned 15mm, and seeing that 13.3 on the screen today was a little disheartening.

He just laughed and told me to stop bragging, so I left it at that.

Tuesday 1-19-10 (Day 21)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): As of today, I'm still hot chocolate free, and I plan on continuing that pattern throughout the remainder of this cycle.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Easy.

Follistim (150units, subQ injection): For whatever reason, I'm feeling amazing today. I expected the water balloon feeling to expand and become more and more uncomfortable, but that just isn't that case.

I literally feel like I could go jogging right now.

But I won't.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): Another perfect measured draw and injection, so Luveris and I are still good.

Ciprofloxin (500mg tablet, twice daily): I don't remember this from my previous cycles, but this horse pill is sort of making me nauseous. I'm going to try taking it a little later in the day from now on to see if it helps; maybe one around lunch, and another at dinner.

E2 & U/S: I'm not sure what caused the 360 in my attitude, but after seeing the multiple follicles growing on the screen today coupled with the excitement in the doctors voice, I was transferred back to my old positive self. Maybe it was the doctors amazement at my stellar response to half the meds that was so contagious, the findings that my E2 levels were right on track despite the large amount of follicles, or the sight of my mother standing behind my head trying to count out the follicles that she thought were the "good ones" and loosing count, but it finally sank in how wonderfully this cycle is progressing.

My body was made for this.

Most girls are thrilled to obtain more than five or six follicles from each ovary, and here I am complaining because I received an overachiever response on a low dose of medicine of sporadic follicles numbering over two dozen, and I was ashamed of that disappointment. So what if I don't have twenty follicles that are all maturing at the same exact rate and size?

I have to remember the God that created the universe is in control of my body and it's response to all of this medication and stimulation; He's working behind the scenes to make sure every follicle is growing just as it should, and that's the ultimate reassurance for me.

Even as an overachiever.

Wednesday, 1-20-10 (Day 22)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Well, that didn't last long.

On my drive home from Sacramento, I somehow ended up with a hot chocolate in my hand. But if it counts for anything, I didn't finish all of it, and I'm justifying it by saying it was necessary to keep me awake.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I didn't know it at the time, but this was my last shot. I'm praying that this cycle brings us our pregnancy and maybe even some frozen embryos for future siblings, so although it was nice while it lasted, hopefully I'll never use Lupron again as long as I live.

Ciprofloxin (500mg tablet, twice daily): Note to self: taking this ginormous pill with food makes a big difference.

Clindamyacin (150mg suppository): And so begins the awkward intra-vaginal inserts.

E2 & U/S: As I lay there with the flimsy pink crepe paper napkin blanket over my exposed girl parts and watched the screen full of too many tiny black holes to keep up with, my heart swelled up with pride and excitement. All of the traveling exhaustion, excuses as to why I wasn't at work and pain from the IVF process was pushed aside as I stared in wonder at the fuzzy black screen and it's contents.

After another long trip down to Sacramento, today's ultrasound showed even greater improvement in growth patterns and the addition of even more follicles, I was given the instructions to stop all shots and trigger tomorrow morning at 1:30am. Knowing how much I wanted to avoid our previous cycles mistakes of under mature eggs but knowing we'd already responded better and given ourselves an extra day, the doctor seemed prepared for an argument that I just didn't have the strength to give him.

Dr: You'd be pretty hard pressed to get me to stim you for one more day, but if you want to push we'll talk.

Me: It's Ok, I trust you. You're the Doctor; I just grow the eggs.

Dr: And you do an amazing job of that.

Me: Thank you.

Thursday, 1-21-10 (Day 23)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Check.

Ciprofloxin (500mg tablet, twice daily): I've officially switched over from a shooting fanatic to a pill popper. So until I begin my PIO shots on Friday, my cocktail of shots has been replaced with a rainbow of pills.

Clindamyacin (150mg suppository): These little rocket shaped suppositories are never fun, but I'll do whatever it takes at this point.

Ovidrel Trigger (1/2mL, subQ injection): Having to wake up at 1:30am to administer a trigger shot is never a good thing; especially when you are absolutely exhausted from a week of traveling in and out of town every single day.

Instead of the usuall HCG intramuscular injection that you have to mix before administering, a lovely donator gave me this much easier Ovidrel prefilled syringe for a less painful subQ injection. I was thrilled with the ease at which I would be able to wake up, open the syringe, push out the air, inject in my pouch and drift back to sleep.

Except it didn't happen that way.

When my alarm went off at 1:28am, I forced myself out of bed and to the cooler I had next to it that held some ice packs and the prefilled injection. I carefully peeled back the plastic casing, removed the syringe, and attempted to pull back before pushing the air bubbles out just to make sure. I'm not sure exactly what happened because I was exhausted and it was an ungodly hour, but I somehow managed to loose liquid out of the syringe and panicked as I watched it drip down my arm.

And to make matters worse, being a prefilled syringe it had no measurable markings on it. Sure, the syringe is printed with the information that it holds 0.5 mL, but I had no way of looking at the syringe and telling how much I had lost for sure. So in a flurry of frustration, I took a picture of what I had left with my cell phone and then injected as quickly as possible, followed speed dial phone call to the clinic's answering service to see how much damage I'd done.

As soon as the nurse answered, she took down my name and number, asked what my problem was and-to my utter and complete horror-promptly transferred me to Dr. Greene himself at what was now almost 2:00am. I will never be able to convey the embarrassment that I felt at waking up the Dr. in the middle of the night, but he sounded perky nonetheless. And after frantically explaining my situation, he simply stated that I should be fine, because some patients are triggered with only half the amount anyway.

That kept me sane for the next few minutes, but since I'm an over analyzer coupled with ever present OCD, I had to do some research of my own. After a few moments of Google pictures of prefilled Ovidrel syringes did no good, I was forced to compromise with an experiment. To ease my mind, I pulled out a 1mL syringe and filled it halfway with water. Then I pushed that water out into the smallest plastic container I could find, and then sucked it back into the empty Ovidrel syringe, leaving 1/2mL of liquid inside the syringe.

As I sat there at 2:30am at my kitchen table, comparing what exactly 1/2mL of Ovidrel in the syringe should look like with the picture on my cell phone of what I had actually injected myself with, I realized I may have lost more than half of the trigger shot.

But I tried to remind myself of our motto this cycle, less just happens to be more because my body is a freak of nature. Hopefully that same theory applies to the trigger shot, because I'm not going to be able to find another trigger shot at 2:30am.

I just have to trust that the Dr. is right, and that God is still in control. I'll try to look back at these past few days and find the will to laugh at the mishaps rather then dwell on what they may mean for the future, and by tomorrow, we'll see the results of a slow cooked cycle involving a super low dose of meds and triggering with slightly less than half of the final maturation hormone.

I'll make an effort to go to bed early tonight, catch up on my sleep, and prepare myself for tomorrow's retrieval; allowing the worries of today to drown in the midst of hope for the future.

Because only half a trigger shot is perfectly fine when less is more anyway.

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book."
-Irish Proverb

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shots and Shenanigans

Thursday, 1-14-10 (Day 16)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Three days in a row, seriously?

Starbucks and I are not okay. Not only are they taking all of my money and making me fat, but they are messing with my head. All I can think about is creamy carmel hot chocolate with sweet whip cream and decatant chocolate drizzle.


Lupron (5units, subQ injection): There's a new issue plaguing me now, one that started just a few days ago. I tried to brush off, but it just keeps coming floating back up to the surface and I can't help but wonder if it's related to this tiny little bee sting shot.

Pregnancy brain.

It's getting me into all sorts of shenanigans. I locked my keys in the car, drove past the freeway exit on my way to work, and even left my cell phone at home two days in a row. I've always been slightly clumsy despite the fact that my name means graceful gazelle, but forgetful? Not so much. I'm the queen of organization and thoroughness, so this new and awkward state of mind is starting to drive me bananas.

Maybe I'm overreacting, this could all just be a side effect of the high fructose corn syrup and hot chocolate overload.

Follistim (150 units, subQ injection): My husband, the master of the Follistim pen was granted permission to leave last night to work on a side job down south, so I was on my own tonight.

I was a little worried at first, but as soon as I held that bulky blue pen in my hands and turned the dial, it just felt right. No stinging, no burning, and no uncomfortable tugging feeling.

Don't tell him I said so, but I'm way better at it.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): All I had to do was put on a fresh needle, tap out the bubble, push up the syringe and use the left over injection from last night.

I could get used to this.

Friday, 1-15-10 (Day 17)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I've stopped the madness, and refused to grant my stomach's request for Starbucks. It was difficult, but that's to be expected I suppose.

The first step is always recognizing the problem.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I can't believe I'm actually documenting this, but I locked my keys in the car again today.

It was late, I was tired, and Target was closed, so I just had to run to Walmart to complete my living room decor at the last minute by picking up a few more mirrors. I stepped out of the car, manually hit the lock button and slammed the door shut. And then-just as I walked through the ginormous electronic sliding glass doors-I realized what I had done; although I couldn't figure out why I'd done it.

Luckily my little brother likes to stay up late and play video games, so he was able to run over to my duplex, pick up my extra set of keys, and drive them back into town to his ridiculously forgetful sister who was stranded at Walmart at 11:00pm.

He's going to be an amazing uncle.

Follistim (150units, subQ injection): It's amazing to me how simple this injection is when it's self administered.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): Another perfect mix, draw and shot. I even had the exact amount needed left over for tomorrows injections. I'm just so pleased with how well this cycle is going, it's almost too good to be true.

I almost miss the drama of it all.


Saturday, 1-16-10 (Day 18)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): One more day free of the bonds of Starbucks.

And one more day of staring at my yoga mat in the corner of the room.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): My bruise is finally starting to deteriorate. It's almost weird to look down and see flesh colored skin instead of a rainbow.

Follistim (150 units, subQ injection): I know I keep talking about how carefree this cycle has been, how little I've been stressing and how blessed I feel to be a part of this. But today I amazed even myself when I returned home from a long day of shopping in town and realized that it was almost 10pm and I had forgotten to take my shots.

Completely forgotten.

I'm in the middle of my third IVF attempt, so of course I'm used to the meds, I know how my body is going to react, and I can handle pretty much anything that comes my way. But to be so unstressed and unconcerned with a cycle that I completely forgot to take my stimulation and quality control meds until it was almost too late?

Now that's impressive.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): Is it weird that I'm almost disappointed at the lack of problems I've ran into so far with this drug? The absence of strange shooting places and crazy traveling stories? Is it odd that I feel slightly boring in the face of my almost perfect cycle?

I'm pretty sure it is.

Sunday, 1-17-10 (Day 19)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm finally starting to feel the fullness of the drugs kicking in, now that my tiny little meatballs are growing; so it's time to stop worrying about a lack of yoga and brisk walking, and concentrate more on eating right.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): The pregnancy brain has worsened.

After church this afternoon, a group of us decided to head to Red Robin for lunch. When it was over and we were all headed back home, I walked with a set of friends out to their car since they parked beside me. After saying our goodbyes, I got in the passenger seat, started the engine, and waited patiently for my husband to join me.

And then I saw him pull up next to me.

In his truck.

I had completely forgotten that due to the fact that I'd left my cell phone home again, we had taken two separate vehicles to lunch. And it's a good thing he pulled up next to me, or I would have sat there in the rain, with the car running, for a very long time.

Follistim (150units, subQ injection): Even though my husband is back home with me, I found an excuse to give myself the Follistim injection again tonight.

I sort of feel bad about it, since he's been labeled as the Follistim mater and all. It really is his only major contribution to the process-besides the sperm, of course-and I think it helps him to feel needed and more useful.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): I'm feeling really good about the addition of this drug a day earlier this cycle; and I'm praying that it really helps to boost the quality of my little meatballs.

Just a few more days, and we'll know for sure.

Tomorrow I wake up bright and early and leave town with my mother to check out what we have cooking inside my crock pot ovaries. We'll find out if the change in protocol has improved our sporadic egg sizes or dramatized them. We'll speak with the doctor and spend the next few days deciding trigger times, retrieval schedules and transfer dates.

And I can't believe it's already time.

But I am so ready.

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing, always watching for distractions and shenanigans along the way.”
-Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Birthday Shots

Tuesday, 1-12-10 (Day 14)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill):No brisk walking and still no attempt at yoga today; it's my birthday and I'd rather eat amazing food, go shopping, and see a movie.

Maybe have a Starbucks.

It's OK though, because one of my amazing blogger friends suggested the brilliant idea of enjoying a grande hot chocolate with a pump of carmel or gingerbread instead of a frappachino. You know, just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth, but without the guilt of poisonous caffeine.

The result of this new endeavor was simply amazing. I'm pretty sure that in just one night, I've conquered my frappachino cravings for good. It's really a remarkable feet too, because not only is a hot chocolate just as satisfying as a frappachino, but it's also less expensive, so my Starbucks gift card will last longer and my eggs will have a shot at developing free of mutilation by caffeine.

I know I just turned twenty-seven, but I feel smarter already.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Every morning that I wake up and start my day off with a little blue steroid pill and a tiny bee sting injection, I'm reminded that I'm not normal. But instead of feeling sad, I feel blessed. How amazing is it that I get to experience a process this medically intricate? That I get to watch and see what my body is capable of doing both inside and out? That I can admire a process that usually happens inside a women's body under a microscope, and take home pictures of cells dividing, growing and thriving?

Every injection, every bruise, every twinge of pain; it's all so amazing to me. And when I wake up in the morning and see that shot and pill sitting on my nightstand, I feel so blessed to be a part of this process, a part of a plan that God has for my life that's only just beginning. And when I see the bruise on my stomach that just won't go away, I can't help but admire it despite it's vulgarity.

Because my mom used to always tell me, as I sat backwards gripping the porcelain lid of the toilet while she ripped the brush through my tangled hair, that it's painful to be beautiful. This wisdom was passed on to her from my grandmother, and I plan on passing this truth down-Lord willing-to my own daughter someday.

And pregnancy is a beautiful thing. A painful thing to achieve in my experience so far, but a beautiful thing nonetheless, and I want it.

So I will endure the pain.

Follistim (150 units, subQ injection): I don't consume alcoholic beverages-mostly for a mixture of religious and personal reasons, coupled with the fact that I'm clumsy and obnoxious enough on my own without being intoxicated, thank you-but I know that on birthdays, it's normal for even the non-drinkers to let loose and consume a few shots. So in the spirit of all things festive for my twenty-seventh birthday, I gave in and went straight for the hard stuff.


That's right, there's nothing like kicking off your birthday by shooting up, turning on your ovary crockpot to simmer and slow cook some little meatballs.

This may just be the best birthday ever.

Wednesday, 1-13-10 (Day 15)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): The whole hot chocolate switch over operation was brilliant, but I'm not sure how productive it will be if I continue to enjoy one every singe day. It seems as though my obsessive compulsive disorder isn't my only flaw, I've also been blessed with an addictive behavior of sorts.

They're no longer in danger of caffeine mutilation, but my poor little meatballs are trying to slow cook and I'm probably drowning them in high fructose corn syrup as we speak.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): No new bruises, dull needles, or shooting troubles, but last weeks monster is still imprinted on my flesh, changing color and shape every day.

It's fascinating, really.

Follistim (150units, subQ injection): For my first two cycles I was given a low dose of 300units of Follistim for the first two days, then dropped to 225units for the remainder of stims. I was never really affected by the drug; I never felt uncomfortable, bloated, or unable to resume my light and sporadic exercise sessions. I was almost oblivious to the two dozen little eggs that were growing inside of me, and I'm sure this time will be no different.

And now that we've started off by cutting that already low dose in half, I'm pretty much out of excuses when it comes to signs, symptoms, and sympathy for administering this stuff. I'm just praying it does it's job and my girlie parts use this stimulation drug to plump up some slow cooked eggs for us to view during next week's appointment.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): Also new to the protocol this cycle is the addition of Luveris a day earlier than normal. Since Luveris serves the purpose of improving the quality of the eggs being produced, I'm more than happy to comply, even if it means receiving an extra shot that has given me so much trouble in the past.

The first cycle of Luveris left me in tears on a hotel floor, followed a trip to the hospital and then a late night house call to my sleep deprived doctor. The second cycle had me practically hyperventilating, scared from the previous cycles mistakes and frustrated by the lack of precision that comes with drawing out such a small amount from such a tiny little vial with such a large needle.

This cycle, however, I was determined to conquer my fear of Luveris and become more courageous in the face of the one drug I've never been capable of defeating. I laid out my directions, set out the appropriate needles, and attacked the tiny vials with a fierceness I never knew I had; a determination that can only result from two previous cycles of trial and error.

And even though the directional email my nurse wrote assured me that it's perfectly normal to have less than the recommended 1/2 ml left in the syringe for the next days injection, I somehow managed to do it, and do it right. I drew, I shot, I conquered; and I am no longer afraid of Luveris.

Gratitude, hot chocolate and a surprisingly successful Luveris injection.

This just keeps getting better and better.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
-Nelson Mandela

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shots & Crock Pots

Saturday, 1-9-10 (Day 11)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): No walking, no yoga. But I did clean the house like a mad woman, so I still got my groove on.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Since lowering my dose last week I haven't had any more sleeping troubles, so Lupron and I are good.

My dramatic E2 blood draw bruise was spotted today, and I was left ungracefully flailing and stuttering as I tried to answer my grandmas question about the colorful bruise nestled in the crook of my left arm.

I couldn't come up with anything creative or quick witted, so I just resorted to the truth and awkwardly explained that I'd had some blood work done. She seemed satisfied with that answer and left it at that, but I was pretty disappointed at how quickly I was caught off guard.

I could have said that I donated blood; it would have made sense, it would have sort of been true, and it wouldn't have been awkward.

If I'm going to survive this dramatic secret cycle, I'll have to be quicker next time.

Sunday, 1-10-10 (Day 12)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): :::sigh:::

I just love to eat.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): My needle must have been dull today, because I stabbed myself but was unable to actually puncture the skin past the first layer of flesh. After a few grunts and pushes, I had to withdraw and resort to another location, leaving some blood and a freshly developed bruise behind.

You'd think I'd have this down by now, but no.

Monday, 1-11-10 (Day 13)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): After dogging a very close encounter with a craving for a frappachino, I resumed my twenty minutes of brisk walking today, even though it was horribly overcast and freezing cold outside. I was the only one present on a usually busy trail, but it was still nice to get out and be active.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): This morning, I enjoyed my last one-shot-a-day routine; because starting tomorrow, we're doubling up and adding in a new, personalized stimming routine.

Given my perfect blood work, flawless test results, and outstanding health, the results we've been getting from the eggs grown in my rockstar ovaries these past two cycles just aren't good enough, darn it. I should easily be obtaining a large amount of eggs with the majority of them being mature, and they should fertilize and divide like crazy. Instead, we're retrieving a decent amount of eggs with only a minority of them being mature.

Which is precisely why-starting tomorrow-Doctor Greene's new protocol is attempting to turn my insides into a crock pot, slow cooking our eggs by using an even lower dose of stims for a longer period of time, with intended results somewhere along the lines of producing a much larger amount of more mature eggs.

I'm really hoping this is our solution, because Lord knows I haven't been doing what I should to increase our odds on my end. Sure, I've stayed away from nail polish and continued to use my own organic cleaning products. But I've also highlighted my crown, used in-organic shampoo for a week, and even consumed a few frappachinos along the way.

The crazy-compulsive, organic-obsessed, scale stepping IVF-psyco that I was a few months ago slightly deteriorated when I realized I wasn't pregnant. I guess I figured that a few drops of caffeine aren't going to completely dissolve my eggs, and the evil paraben chemical that exists in just about every body product available won't destroy my uterus forever as long as it's used in moderation.

Yet I still panicked when I ran out of organic hand soap and had to use Dial.

I've tried telling myself that I just put on the team green front to grow me some fabulous eggs, but the truth is that I really do love organic products, and I want to continue to be a green freak, IVF or not. And with master discount stores like Ross and T.J.Maxx offering up crazy deals on organic cleaning and body products these days, why not?

So there you have it; my pre-stimulation confessions. I haven't been doing all I could have or should have for this cycle to end up as perfectly as it may have in my more organic, more neurotic past, but I think God can still make this work, because I'm counting on the fact that my own interpretation of perfection is perhaps overrated.

Maybe my new idea of perfection should just include crock pot ovaries, brisk walks and frappachinos.

That sounds perfect to me.

I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.
-Abraham Lincoln

Friday, January 8, 2010

Big Shot

Thursday, 1-7-10 (Day 9)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): My daily walk was cancelled today by the pouring rain and my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and grandma-in-law coming into town. However, I did rush around the kitchen for about an hour preparing homemade potato soup, salad, and garlic french bread, so I'm hoping that counts under the category of brisk walking.

But then I ate a whole lot of it; so it probably doesn't count after all.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I spoke too soon about my lack of bruising.

As I injected my self today, my skin quickly turned the color of a dark, menacing shadow. By the time I finished brushing my teeth, the dark spot had expanded and became a deep purple blue around the outside edges while remaining pink and fleshy in the center. And by the time I made it to work, the area was covered in raised goose bump style spots with an even deeper maroon surrounding it all.

How did I get from absolutely no bruising to the ugliest bruise ever in less than twenty-four hours? And who do you know besides me that would proudly describe it in excruciating detail?

It's actually kind of pretty to be honest, and I'm slightly disappointed I can't share it with everyone. I guess that's pretty good though, if the absolute worst part about this secret cycle so far is not being able to proudly display the self inflicted battle wounds.

E2: Today was my baseline E2 blood draw, and the first time ever that my family full of medical professionals wasn't able to assist me with some black market blood work care.

It's OK though, because my favorite faux hawked phlebotomist was present and pleasant to work with today; he even gave me an envelope to take home in case the lab messes up again and bills me like they usually do every singe time I go to the lab, no matter how many times I point out that the lab slip specifically says to bill my doctor in Sacramento.

I wanted to let him know that what I was really looking for was an amazing E2 number to start with, followed by a nice high beta number in in a few more weeks. But instead, I politely accepted the prepaid postage envelope and sat in the squeaky chair as his assistant quickly drew my blood. As the needle made it's exit and I held the cotton ball on the pressure point, I prayed that I wouldn't develop a bruise large enough for people to notice and ask about.

Because the bruising on my stomach is easy to hide, but a ginormous bruise in the crook of my arm? That's going to take some serious creativity, especially for a hot blooded girl who wears sleeveless shirts in the dead of winter and can't seem to talk with out using large, animated hand gestures to conclude her stories.

So I walked out almost as quickly as I walked in, with a freshly formed dark spot on one arm and a prepaid postage envelope in the other, and smiled as the drama of it all started to rise to the surface.

Let the little white lies begin.

Friday, 1-8-10 (Day 10)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): The rain was pouring down again today, so my brisk walk was cancelled once again. But this time I helped my almost sister-in-law set up for my almost-nephews birthday party until well after midnight, dancing and singing to Miranda Lambert, as I rolled Oreo cookie balls, salami-cream-cheese-peperchini appetizers, and stylish deviled eggs.

One for me, one for the tray.

Two for me, one for the tray.

I suppose It would be easier just to go the the gym, but this was way better.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Despite the ugly, menacing bruise on my right side, I was fearless in today's injection and everything went perfectly; so it looks like we've reverted back to the simplicity of a nice, smooth lupron injection once again.

E2: Results are in, and we've landed nicely at a cushioned 31.6.

This is very good news; last cycle I was at a a 33, and the cycle before that I was at a 67 a day later. I'm not sure of the exact number, but ideally they like to see the number below 50, so I'm satisfied, as is my nurse coordinator.

I can't believe how fast this happening; in just a few short days I'll no longer be shooting solo, my husband will help celebrate my twenty seventh birthday by resuming his duties and injecting stims, forcing my ageing ovaries to hopefully produce some high quality embryos before it's too late. But for now, everything is developing wonderfully; and despite my extra large dexamethasone pouch, bruised extremities and somewhat bipolar exercise habits, I'm at ease. I can say with full assurance that I'm happy, I'm excited, and I'm ready for whatever God has in store for us at the end of this cycle; whatever that may be.

But for the record, it feels like something big.

"Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight."
-Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shot of Hope

Monday, 1-4-10 (Day 6)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I did it.

I took the first step to recovery from my recent addiction today and purchased a very soothing leaf patterned yoga mat instead of a frappachino.

I can't drink it, but it sure looks good.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): My dose dropped down from 10units to 5units this morning, and I'm excited to hopefully rid myself of the sleep deprivation that's been haunting me for the last few nights.

Tuesday, 1-5-10 (Day 7)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I still haven't used the new yoga mat yet, but I have completed my second day in a row of at least twenty minutes of brisk walking.

It's amazing how wonderful I feel when warm blood is pumping through my body in the cold winter air. It really clears my head and gives me a chance to look around at the sights, sounds, and smells of everything that God's created, and to know that if He can make all of this in less than seven days, He can make me a baby easily; if it's in His will to do so.

It's truly breathtaking.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): It's been a whole week of these injections and I've experienced very minimal bleeding and absolutely no bruising so far. The few side effects I've been plagued with are no longer in sight, and I'm feeling good.

Really good.

Wednesday, 1-6-10 (Day 8)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): The yoga mat that's setting unused, rolled up in the corner of my living room floor isn't doing anything to defer my cravings.

They're getting worse.

Tonight, as I sat down on the couch and spread out my turkey and cheese Lunchable, 60 calorie pudding cup, bag of Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar Goldfish, celery sticks filled with cream cheese and my bottle of Minute Maid Blueberry Pomegranate juice, my husband asked me if I thought the little steroid pill was really causing my cravings, or if there was any possibility this was all just in my head.

I didn't know what to say, so I just shot him the dirtiest look I could manage without interrupting my feeding frenzy. He stayed pretty quite about it for the rest of the night, but I could still see him evaluating me out of the corner of his eye every once in a while; silently judging me and my untamed appetite as I indulged.

It didn't help that we were watching The Biggest Loser, either.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Everything is going so smoothly. I'm not stressed, worried, or obsessive about the process or it's ending result-possibly because I finally let God take control, or maybe because I know we purchased a two cycle plan so I still have a shot even if this time doesn't work-but either way, it's so very nice.

No restrictions, no scales, no worries.

Just hope.

“In all things it is better to hope than to despair”
-Johann Wolfgang

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Shots, Secrets & Symptoms

Saturday, 1-2-10 (Day 4)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm starting to feel those strangely familiar and completely unstoppable hunger cravings that sneak up on me when I least expect it. And in the way of confessions, I may as well come clean and admit that I gave in today and had a gingerbread frappachino, and it wasn't caffeine free.

Caffeine free frappachinos do exist; but they have a strange cream base that just doesn't taste right. And the bottom line is that I had full intentions of starting off the new year right by taking charge of the cravings this little blue pill drives me insane with, yet somehow I only managed to make it to the second day of the new year.

I don't suppose Starbucks will grant my plea for a great tasting organic caffeine free frappachino, so I'll need to find a new outlet for frustration that doesn't come in the form of a high cost, high calorie, egg polluting drink.

Maybe I'll look into yoga.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): For my first IVF cycle back in July, I proudly displayed my army of pills and potions on the bathroom counter for all to see, waking up extra early to administer the injections and pop the pills. Then, for my second IVF cycle I turned it down a notch by still proudly displaying my colorful collection of drugs, but waking up just in time to inject the pre-filled syringes I'd prepared the night before out of pure laziness, usually still in a sleep induced coma while doing so.

And now, for my third attempt at IVF, I've resorted to hiding everything. Nothing lines the bathroom counter on display for all to see. Needles, vials, pills, suppositories and cartridges are all hidden in secret compartments with locations planned and laid out precisely so that no one sees them, but I still remember to take them.

It's really starting to sink in that this is a secret cycle.

Other than my parents and my wonderful blog readers, no one in real life knows what we're up to. Right now it's fairly easy to hide, especially since I'm only taking one pill and one injection in the early hours of the day, but in a week or so everything will change. I'll start stims injections that are taken in the early evening-often when we are out and about-and then the two-and-a-half hour trips to and from Sacramento will begin. I work at the family business, so taking time off work without a proper explanation will be completely doable but hard, and hiding the location of our destination will be even more difficult, especially since the trips will be fairly sporadic according to my intense follicle count and monitoring schedule.

But instead of feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the upcoming chain of events that will include secret, out of town doctor appointments, hidden injections and no doubt numerous white lies, I'm actually thriving from the future drama and pure excitement of it all.

Sneaking around just may be a fabulous addition to an otherwise redundant routine after all.

Sunday, 1-3-10 (Day 5)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): The plan is to keep only healthy, guilt free foods in the house so that when an attack comes in to play, I won't mess it up.

Starting tomorrow, of course.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): Lupron supposedly comes with a whole slew of side effects to make life difficult, from nightly hot flashes and sweats to hard core migraines, and even disrupted sleeping patterns coupled with fatigue. But my nurse coordinator swears I'm on a super low dose, and therefore shouldn't be affected by any of this madness.

Despite the warning that any symptoms I experience would most likely be in my head, I remember feeling slight exhausted almost constantly during my first IVF, and for my second cycle I had a few hot flashes and an occasional headache. But this time around I've hit a new little mountain of a symptom, where I find myself waking up all night long.

I don't like it.

Sleep and I have always been best buds; I've never had trouble falling asleep nor have I had any problems staying asleep. But lately I'll be dreaming away, holding a frappachino in one hand and juggling a baby in the other, but just as I get the baby settled and reach over to take a drink of that carmel poison, suddenly it's all over. I'm wide awake-with no baby and no frappachino-and I can't go back to sleep.

I really shouldn't be complaining though, any symptom I've ever experienced throughout this process has been nothing more than super mild and short lived, certainly nothing I haven't been able to climb over. And besides, starting tomorrow I'll no longer be on birth control pills and officially cut my Lupron dose in half, most likely ending the insanity of our first mountain range once and for all.

At least until it's time to climb the next one.

"That first peak is the best place to pause and look back, to learn the lessons from the first climb. And it is the best place to examine the terrain ahead, to change your plans and goals, to take a deep breath and begin climbing again."
-Michael Johnson

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Shot

Friday, 1-1-10 (Day 3)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): So far so good; the perfect way to start out 2010.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): Exactly six months ago today, I gave myself my first injection. I'm not saying it feels like yesterday; but it certainly doesn't feel like it was half a year ago, either.

I still remember everything. My mother came over the night before and helped me practice on a tangerine, while a few of our close friends looked on in wonder and fear. But not me; I was excited. Nervous of messing up my conversion of units and injecting the wrong amount, but still excited nonetheless.

After all, this was going to bring us our baby.

Other than the expectation of a perfect cycle and a pregnancy, we had no idea what the future held for us. But I can say with full certainty today that I never would have guessed I'd be sitting here, officially in 2010, holding another Lupron syringe instead of a grainy, black and white sonogram photo of our little one(s) growing inside of me.

In a way, I guess I'd say we've lost our innocence. We were slightly naive to expect our first IVF cycle to go perfectly and result in a pregnancy, but not crazy in our efforts, because in reality it does happen. People with far greater fertility handicaps get pregnant in the midst their first IVF attempt every day.

But not us.

So this morning, as I gave myself the first shot of the year, I couldn't help but notice the lack of excitement that I used to stick myself with. Every day was new, and was filled with first times for everything. My first injection, my first bruise, my first bleeder; and I was so very proud of each of them. I documented them with exact details, intending to help anyone else going through the same process by smugly showing them that IVF was not only doable, but easy and enjoyable at the same time.

Something that would be well worth the time, money, and effort in the end.

But I don't feel that same excitement anymore, because this process is no longer bright, shiny and new. It's full of unexpected twists and turns, disappointment, craziness, guilt, and loss. Loss of time, loss of money, loss of innocence.

Loss of embryos.

But I'm happy to report that although that initial excitement is somehow missing, it's been replaced with a new, pure, more vibrant kind of excitement. Although I know the process and the trials and tribulations that lay ahead, I also know so much more.

I know the secret to avoid bruising is to inject slow and steady, holding pressure to the site for a few seconds afterward. I know that if you don't want your PIO shots to feel like you've been hit by a semi the next day you have to set on a heating pad for at least a half hour. I know that Lupron burns, Luveris stings, Dexamethasone makes me eat and Follistim makes me feel full.

I know that I've taken more shots in the last six months that I've ever had in my entire twenty-six years, and it amazes me. I know that my husbands clumsy bear claw hands turn steady and smooth when it's time to inject Follistim, and it makes me smile. I know that my body is capable of doing and producing some really amazing things, and it give me hope.

I also know medical science isn't perfect but we've got a good shot, my parents really don't mind spending the money to help us even though it makes me feel guilty, and with God, all things are possible.

But sometimes it's still hard.

Especially since we also know that perfect cycles go wrong, some embryos don't grow, and not everyone gets pregnant. No matter how hard you pray, the answer may always be "no".

But that's not going to stop us from asking.

Because even after all of the drama that I try to make my life out to be, I'm nothing short of blessed; my life is so incredibly beautiful. I have the most supportive family and friends ever; we have no doubt they want this new life just as much as we do. We have good jobs that pay the bills, a great duplex that fits us just right, and even our worst days are filled with health, happiness, and hope.

So despite the past, I am still excited for what the future holds.

Today is a brand new beginning and I can feel it deep inside of me; something wonderful it going to happen. This may be my third IVF cycle, but it's my first cycle of a brand new year, and all bets are off. The past is in the past-right where it belongs-and I have a fresh opportunity to thank God for all He's given me, and to reflect on the past instead of live in it, focusing more on the endless possibilities He has in store for us in our future. And if infertility, IVF, and injections are the worst of what I have to go through to somehow bring honor and glory to God this year, then I'm a happy girl.

I often fall short and forget to look at all I've been blessed with, blinded by the hurricane of fear that surrounds this evasive medical procedure that we hope holds the answer to our dreams. But even when the sky is dark and the clouds are heavy above me, there's still one thing I know; a piece of information far more important than secrets to the success of IVF injections and organic well being.

There will be an end to this storm.

And If I look hard enough, I can already see the rainbow.

"When it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow."
-G.K. Chesterton