IVF update

We completed our first IVF cycle (minus the transfer)! For those are interested, here’s an update on how it went.

 

Stims

I was looking forward to the stimming process, with all the sciency needles and vials. And it was fun for awhile, until my follicles (eggs) started growing. Then it started to get old and very uncomfortable. But I responded so well! For our IUI’s, I usually had very little response at the first ultrasound. But for my first IVF ultrasound, I already had a great number of follicles growing with an E2 (estrogen level) of 937! And then things just ballooned. Two days later, I had 27 follicles. Then 39. I triggered with 39 follicles and an E2 of 4540.

One of the reasons they pushed the number of follicles was due to my left ovary, which they were concerned they might not be able to reach for retrieval. For most of the stimming process, it was hidden underneath my uterus. So they wanted to make sure my right had a good amount of mature follicles, and it did. Each mature follicle is about the size of a grape. I had 25 in my right, 14 in my left. So each ovary was like a large bunch of grapes, and I was seriously bloated to the size of a very pregnant woman. Don’t believe me? Here you go.

Rebecca at 5 months of pregnancy? Nope, just the night before retrieval. I was in so.much.pain.

 

I realized that estrogen is what causes the nausea in early pregnancy. By Day 8 of stims, I felt as gross and nauseous as I had felt during the first trimester with Abbie. I worked in the office that day and was so exhausted, bloated and in pain (I swear I could feel my ovaries stretching out). Thankfully, my dear friend Susan, who just went through a (succesful!) IVF cycle herself brought us dinner that night. It was just one of many of the kind and supportive things she did to care for me during this cycle; I’m so thankful for her!

I triggered on Sunday night. They did a lupron trigger with no hcg, to ward away hyperstimulation of my ovaries. It seemed to work well, because though the first few days post retrieval were verrrrry painful (but oh thank you, Vicodin!), I’m feeling almost back to normal now. Still bloated, but much better than before.

Retrieval

We got there bright and early on Tuesday morning at 7 am. I was a ball of nerves. What if the lupron trigger didn’t work and they couldn’t get any of the eggs? What if all my eggs were bad? What if they couldn’t get the left ovary? The nurse was so kind and cheery, and she led us to the operating area, an area I’ve never been in all my years at Midwest Fertility! I dressed in the gown and they put in my IV. Thankfully Tom was able to be with me during this, since he is always able to calm me and make me laugh when I am anxious.

 

Dressed and ready to go!

My handsome cheerleader

Then they took me back and put me to sleep. Unfortunately, the anesthesia didn’t seem to work as well as it should have. I supposedly frantically scratched my nose during the whole thing and then started kicking my legs! When I woke up, I told the nurse I had dreamed that they kept telling me to stop moving, and she told me that was not a dream. The doctor said while he was getting the eggs from my left ovary (which was accessible!), he had to wait for me to settle down after each one. He laughed when I told him that Tom often tells me to “sleep like a human” in the middle of the night. Thankfully they were able to move past it and get 29 eggs!

We got 29 eggs!


Fertilization/Embryo update

The next day, the lab called at 9 am to tell me that of the 29 eggs, 25 were mature and 14 fertilized with ICSI. That number honestly worried me. I knew that from 29, the number would dwindled down significantly, but I expected more like 20 to fertilize. The embryologist told us that about 30% of our embryos would make it to day 5, so I wanted to start with as many as possible. But my hope was that, since fertilization is our main fertility problem, a healthy number of those that fertilized would make good embryos. There’s so much you learn during an IVF cycle that you don’t learn during IUI’s. And though my tests have always been good, I’ve felt sure that I contributed to our fertility problem as well over the years. So the wait from Wednesday to Sunday was not the easiest, to say the least. I really wanted enough embryos to have a peace of mind about our future family. We did this with kid #3 in mind as well as kid #2. And of course, just as I would be okay with just having Abbie because she is perfection, I would be okay with only two kids. But I want my options. Infertility doesn’t give you many options, and I was so hoping IVF would give us some! That feels greedy, but it is what it is.

Thankfully, the lab called yesterday to let me know that they biopsied and froze 5 perfect embryos! They were all of equal quality, given a grade of 6BB. I asked what was the highest, and she said 6AA but they rarely give that out, so 6BB is pretty much the highest they give. They were still watching 6 more embryos, and I heard today that one of those was also biopsied and frozen, also 6BB. So we have 6 beautiful, frozen embabies! This is a great number! And by next week, we should know which of those are chromosomally normal.

PGS is an optional test that we are paying for ourselves, but it will hopefully save us from the agony that our miscarriage was back in February of 2014. If I never have to go through that hell again, it will be worth the $4k it cost to get there. And as far as costs go, I feel so lucky. The medication was completely free with my insurance. And I’ve almost met my insurance deductible, so the cycle will be mostly covered. Obviously it would be nice if we could just get pregnant for free, but we are very lucky to be working our way through infertility treatments a second time without any debt.

So now we wait to see how many of our 6 embryos have the right genetic components. And after that, we start prepping for a transfer! This will either be in August or September. I feel way more terrified about this than the retrieval. I knew I could make a lot of eggs from our cancelled IUIs when I made too many eggs, and I guess I should feel good about achieving pregnancy since I’ve been pregnant twice. But I still feel like my uterus is deficient and will reject the embryo. I will be doing everything I can to make the embryo stick!

So, in summary, here is the crazy math that is IVF:

39 follicles
29 eggs retrieved
25 mature eggs
14 fertilized eggs
6 frozen blastocysts

It’s crazy to go have to start with such high numbers to end up with 6, but I am very happy with these 6! May the Lord bless and keep these embabies until they are able to be brought to life 🙂

Life Lately

It has been a loooong time since I have blogged! Life has just been too crazy for it. It’s still crazy, but it has slowed down to the point where I think I might have some time to update this thing. So here we go!

Work

I have been working toooo much! My current jobs:

  • Full time day job– I still do this from home (with the exception of every other Friday), and I still enjoy it. I always have plenty to do, so it keeps me pretty busy all day.
  • Online teaching job #1-I’ve been doing this one for years, so I have it down and can keep up with it fairly efficiently. But what really wore me out last semester was…
  • Online teaching job #2– I was asked to teach an online Chemistry course, and I never turn down teaching Chemistry courses, so I said yes even though I had no time for it. While job #1 has everything created for me, this job involved me creating the entire course from scratch. Thankfully I’ve taught Chemistry enough that I had most of the materials created, but I still had to get them all formatted into online class sessions and create videos for them. So there was a lot of time spent on this last semester after the baby went to bed. Every minute of every day was accounted for, and I had a LOT of breakdowns. The nice thing is that now that the class is created, it’s much easier to manage. So I’m teaching it again this summer, but it’s almost as easy as job #1 is to manage.

Abbie

My baby is now a toddler! She is hilarious and wonderful. And so.very.busy. The girl just doesn’t stop. And she wants all the things that are off limits. Dog food, cords, toilet water, trash, phones, remote controls, lamps, dirt, credit cards, knives… ALL THE THINGS. So childproofing has been a bit of a nightmare. We kind of have a system now, but she definitely keeps us on our toes.

Who me?

Who me?

My latest obsession is carrying her on my back in all sorts of fun-and-expensive wraps, and it’s an effective hobby for this toddler. She is so chill on my back; she loves hanging out there while I do things around the house. And you can do so much with a baby on your back! I thought front carrying was helpful, but on my back is a new level of awesomeness. Once Tom realized how much I get done with her on my back, he told me I could buy as many wraps as I want. Thankfully I’m too frugal to go crazy, but I’ve definitely been adding to the pile.

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I was surprised to discover that this torso carry is my favorite! No tugging on the shoulders, and she is super secure back there.

Her brain is always working; you can see the wheels turning as she contemplates the next thing she is going to do. And when she’s working on something, she breathes heavily and loudly as it is obviously SUPER important she get the job done. She’s talking, though most of it is still unintelligible babbles. She doesn’t have enough words to carry on conversations, but she really wants to converse, so she makes up all sorts of nonsense. She especially loves making sing-song yodeling type noises. Her sweet voice fills my heart with joy every day!

It’s hard to remember the days when she didn’t move everywhere. While I miss the baby stage, she’s definitely much happier being able to move around and do things. And it’s so much fun watching her learn and grow and experience the world!

Hi big dog! Let me examine your teeth!

“Hi big dog! Let me examine your teeth!”

 

Busy baby off to the pool!

Busy baby off to the pool!

 

Emptying laundry baskets is one of her favorite tasks.

She loves emptying laundry baskets and spreading the clothes alllllll around.

Future Baby #2

As much as I hoped we would be magically fertile after Abbie, time has reminded us that we are not. We went back to see our fertility doctor (with Abbie, who destroyed the office and astounded him with her busyness), and he recommended that we take advantage of my AMAZING new insurance and apply for IVF coverage.

Busy toddler with the doctor that helped bring her to us!

Busy toddler with the doctor that helped bring her to us!

That was two months ago, and we decided to go forward with the testing for IVF while I began weaning Abbie. I really didn’t think it would be covered, but I appreciated the time to keep nursing her (I am not too happy about weaning and wish I was fertile enough to not have to). As with all things insurance, the process was slow until it wasn’t. After a month and a half of testing, we got approval right away! So this means that we can do IVF at a DRAMATICALLY reduced cost. We got pregnant with Abbie via an IUI, but it took a year of treatment  and 7 IUI’s for that to happen. So IVF would be more efficient, plus there is the benefit of extra embryos. I’m not sure yet if I want a third baby, but if I do, the clock is ticking for me. So the idea of freezing embryos made with my eggs at age 34 (almost 35) is appealing.

So, all that to say that we will be starting IVF… next week! The plan is to PGS test the embryos and do a frozen transfer, so we won’t actually be doing a transfer until September. Insurance won’t cover PGS, but since we are paying so little for the cycle and we have had a miscarriage, the doctor strongly recommended we do it for the peace of mind.

One concern with IVF is extra embryos. Of course I worry about too few embryos, but since I do respond well to the drugs and all my test results are great, we could end up with some extras once we have built our family. So after a lot of thought, both Tom and I have come around to the idea of embryo adoption. And since making that decision, it has been really fun to think that we could be a part of someone else’s fertility journey at the end of all this!

So, please keep us in prayer as we embark on this new adventure. For all to go smoothly and for me to endure it without too many breakdowns. I am quite excited for my meds to arrive– all sorts of sciencey fun is coming my way! IUI shots were fun, but this is a whole new ballgame! Of course, I’m sure trying to grab needles and vials will be right up there with stealing knives from the dishwasher in Abbie’s book 🙂

Abbiegirl update

My baby is (almost) nine ten months old!

I don't really know how to take these photos anymore. She won't leave the sticker alone!

Can I eat the sticker now, please?

 

We were traveling over the nine month mark, and this was all I could get!

We were traveling over the nine month mark, and this was all I could get!

She is completely and utterly delightful. I sit with her while she is belly laughing with glee, and I can feel all the difficult parts of this first year disappearing. During the rough days, it was hard for me to hear parents talk about their easy babies, the ones that slept through the night early on or never cried or were always happy. And yet, I can see myself reminiscing about Abbie in the upcoming years, and I know all I will talk about is what a happy and easy and delightful baby she was. I guess that’s all part of the design of babies, and the reason why people have multiple children!

Since my last update, she has started crawling! She is moving everywhere. I was so nervous about this, with the working from home and all, but it has been such a great development for her. She loves moving around, and sleep is so much better now that she can really wear herself out! My office is one part office and nine parts playroom, and she is pretty content to roam free in there with her toys.

I've got places to go, toys to see.

I’ve got places to go, toys to see.

I’m finally realizing why baby led weaning is awesome. She is locked in one place for thirty minutes, and she loves every minute of it. More foods are actually getting eaten, and we have worked out a system with the mess.

This is delicious!

This is delicious!

 

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They miss nothing.

She sleeps through the night 50% of the time. I’m actually surprised by this, because we were down to one night feed and I have done nothing to eliminate that. But one night she slept straight through, and then she did it again. And then I stopped being able to count on one hand how many times she had done it. Sometimes she needs her early morning feed, sometimes she doesn’t. And I’m ok with either one, because how many more nights will I have to hold and nurse my sweet sleepy girl? I will take every single one I get.

While sleep has been a struggle from day one, there is one strange area she has excelled at. I’m a little embarrassed to tell people about it, because I really didn’t intend for this to be her claim to fame. But here you go:

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See where I am?

*warning: poop talk below*

Abbiegirl poops in the potty. Only in the potty. I haven’t changed a poopy diaper in two months! Every day, I put her on her potty seat and she grins and giggle and kicks her legs and grabs at the toilet paper, then she gets serious and does her poopy time. I can’t even with this one. Some of you may be wondering HOW and WHY and ARE YOU CRAZY and here’s all I’ve got:

  1. I have had dogs as children for 10 years. They are similar in emotional intelligence to Abbie right now. And every day I let them out and they do their business. It’s just the way it goes.
  2. I had dear friends who tried infant potty training with their first child. And it worked ok, but they eventually gave up on it because babies pee a lot. And while I knew I would never do this, I always thought that it might be reasonable to learn the poop cues when the baby gets more regular and put them on the potty then.
  3. Sleep has been a big deal for us. A BIG DEAL. So when I heard my friends complain about potty training, I couldn’t bear the thought of doing something this hard again. So I figured we should start now.
  4. Abbie went from three blowouts a day to pooping once a week. And I became obsessed with her poop cues. So one day when I knew it was time, I put her on the potty and she went. And I just kept doing that. And as she ate more solids, I put her on every day, and she started going every day. And that’s how we started pooping on the potty like a big girl.

I have no idea if I will do this with another child if we have one, but it has worked for her. And man, does it make diapers easy!

Her other specialty is traveling! We took a roadtrip to Texas with her AND the dogs, and it was a little crazy, but she was a PRO. I was so proud of my sweet girl! And it made me realize that all the work we did on sleeping paid off, whether or not she sleeps through the night. No matter where we were, she happily went down for naps and nightime. She even slept well in the car, which I was most nervous about.

We really lucked out with the timing of the trip, since she is in such a happy phase of life and has not been teething in what seems like ages. (I’d be totally fine if she just kept these two bottom teeth and never cut any others… life without teething is grand!)


  
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I could write about her forever, but that’s the reason I don’t actually publish these things and just keep working on them whenever I get a spare moment which is RARE, so I will stop here. But she is wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

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Remember those days when I was aching all the time? When the nursery was empty and taunted me every time I walked by it? When I was stabbing my belly with shots and staring at negative pregnancy tests and wondering if we would ever get to this place, this place of our dreams? I remember them so well. But now I am here, with a daughter more perfect than my wildest dreams. And oh, how happy we are!

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