“Home Inspection” aka Hysteroscopy

This past Tuesday I underwent a procedure called a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscopy is a way for the doctor to look inside of your uterus, and provides a better “picture” than an ultrasound. A small viewing tool called a hysteroscope guided into the uterus through the cervix and is used to check the uterine lining and to look for and remove growths such as fibroids and polyps. It can also be used to diagnose abnormal bleeding. For me, the procedure was done to check for anything abnormal that could be keeping me from getting pregnant, or keeping the embryo from implanting into my uterus. It is like a “home inspection” for the little embryo waiting for us at the end of the month!

The night before the procedure I had to take Cytotec. Cytotec comes in pill form (three pills to be exact) and is inserted into my you-know-what to help “soften” the cervix prior to the surgery. I have to say it was pretty strange to do this, and they caused some pretty severe cramps that evening. But anything for future baby, am I right? The procedure itself was pretty painless and performed under anesthesia. I have had a bit of spotting since then and some cramping, but nothing to write home about.

Of course the doctor came back to tell me how things had gone while I was using the restroom, fortunately my mother was there. He said that “everything looks good and we are good to go”. So I take that as I passed my home inspection and our closing date is scheduled for the end of the month when we have our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)! Now all baby needs to do is continue growing and nestle in when the time comes.

  
I have started injections (Lovenox) as well as low dose Aspirin, Estrace 3xs daily and an estrogen patch this week. After about 10 days of that I will begin the dreaded Progesterone in Oil (PIO) shots again. I bought a weekly pill organizer (no, I am not a senior citizen) with both AM & PM compartments to help keep me organized. The protocol with this FET is very different from my fresh transfer back in October. Knowing we are doing something different provides added comfort and hope. I look forward to sticking myself with needles again, as it means we are one step closer to getting that baby of ours.

Estrogen patch!
 
I will continue with my weekly acupuncture appointments and am going to attempt a much healthier diet (the holidays sent me downhill fast) with a focus on eggs, avocado, and nuts/seeds. I am hoping to get in a serving per day of each of these items. Other than that, I will try to avoid fried foods and sweets. There is no time like the New Year to try that out I’d say!

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Thankfully waiting….

While trying so very hard to conceive, it is easy to get caught up in all of the pain, loss and hurt we have been put through. Between the ultrasounds, blood work and injections, the 3am Google searches, and the constant envy, I find that I often overlook all of the wonderful things I have in my life and that this journey has brought me.

There is more to life than babies (as hard as that may seem to believe!), and I am lucky to be blessed with many other gifts that have made my life, and this past year especially, fulfilling. So, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I would like to take some time to reflect on what I am thankful for:

  1. My husband Nick – Nick has been my rock throughout this entire process. He manages to make me smile and laugh every day and he never forgets to tell me what a strong and beautiful woman I am (even amidst full on temper tantrum). He appeases my every superstition and fertility trick an he assures me that all will be right in the world if we just continue to think positive. He is my everything and I am so thankful that he makes up the other half of my whole.
  2. My parents and in-laws – Their positivity is a force to be reckoned with and their support has been astounding. They have gone above and beyond their parental duties. As much as I know this process pains them too, they manage to wear a smile day in and day out and to help me through my darkest hours when I think nothing in the world will ever go my way. They make me want to be a parent even more with every day that they show me their love, and they help me to believe that I can do ANYTHING.
  3. My puppies –  The two furballs of cuteness make my everyday a blessing in so many ways. Their unconditional love and devotion melts my heart. They seem to know exactly what to do to cheer me up and their constant companionship keeps me sane. They have made me parents in a less traditional manner and I love them as though they were human babies. Together with my husband they have taught me the meaning of family.
  4. My friends & family – I could not do this with out their support! They put up with my constant complaining and crazy TTC methods, they understand and forgive me for saying things in the heat of the moment that I certainly don’t mean, and they continue to pray for us. They take me out when I need to let loose, stay in with me when I’m feeling extra emotional, and send me positive thoughts on a daily basis. Through all of the ups and downs they treat me the same as they did before my diagnosis. Which is just what I need to keep me grounded.
  5. That my close friends have not had to experience infertility to the extent that we have. I am thankful that they remain naive to the process and unscarred by the pain. I would not wish this upon anyone.
  6. Those who are going through this journey. On the flip side, I am thankful for the women I have met (and those who I already knew who have reached out) that are going through IVF and similar situations. They can relate to my emotions and help to provide a sense of normalcy in my life. These strong, courageous women are a blessing in my life and I cannot wait to watch all of them become the mothers they were meant to be.
  7. My beautiful home that provides a cozy (and exquisitely decorated, I might add) setting for spending time with family and friends, laughing until I cry and even crying until I can manage again. I always feel safe here.
  8. The doctors and nurses at IVF Michigan –  they are helping me to realize a dream. They are always reassuring and eager to answer my texts and calls at all hours of the day. I feel as though my future is in the best hands possible and I am thankful for the knowledge and skill that they bring to the table. Science is amazing and these experts know what they are doing. I trust them.
  9. My job –  I am lucky to have a job that I love that allows me to work flexible hours and offers another support system in my life. They are so understanding and are rooting for our success as much as anyone else.
  10. My health & the health of those around me. I may be suffering from infertility but my general health is fantastic (minus the anxiety, of course), as is that of most of my close family and friends. I am blessed to have my parents and both sets of grandparent still in my life, and Nick to have both of his parents as well. We have a bright and healthy future. A healthy life is a gift we often take for granted.
  11. My faith in God. I do not pride myself on being the most religious person on the planet, but throughout my journey I have found myself becoming closer to God. I am slowly building a relationship with Him and I know He has a plan for me and my family. I have faith that my life will turn out exactly as he planned it.

I could go on and on about all of the things I am thankful for, but my fingers are getting tired of typing. As I sit here and review the list I just compiled I realize just how lucky I am. This list is proof that if a child is not in our future that we CAN and WILL find happiness and purpose in all of the beautiful blessings that already surround us.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!

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Friday Feelings…..Empty

Today is Friday and I am feeling empty. Just a few days ago I was hopefully optimistic that I had two beautiful babies on board. Now I know there is nothing. I started my period today which just seems to scream “failure”. I picture a big red “F” on my IVF midterm paper. I was still clinging to that tiny shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, the test results were wrong, or I was a late implanter. Nope, just myself and my empty womb.

I haven’t had to take an injection or a pill for three days and I find myself missing the process. Had I been pregnant the PIO shots would have continued for another 8 weeks. I wish I still had that daily pain. Any pain would be better than the pain of this emptiness.

My family and friends have been amazing. I don’t think I could have gotten through this without their love and support. Each day seems to get a little better (wine helps too), but I think it will hurt for a long time. I try to stay busy to keep my mind off of it and I am trying to be as proactive about the next cycle as possible.

I will begin my birth control pills again this weekend, and we will see the doctor on November 4th. We are leaning toward another fresh cycle because I don’t think I could handle the hopes of a frozen transfer and then our little ice baby not making it through the thaw. I am praying that a fresh cycle will bring us a higher quantity and quality. I need some fighting eggs!

While we wait for our next appointment and schedule, I am going to do what I can to improve the quality of my eggs. I am already taking prenatal vitamins, vitamin b complex and CoQ10. I am going to try to work fertility friendly foods into my diet as well. Nuts, seeds, eggs, avocados, leafy greens, etc. I have also decided to give acupuncture a go! My first appointment is next Tuesday and I am really looking forward to it. I figure if it doesn’t help my fertility it should at least help me relax, right?

I hope once Aunt Flo exits the building I can stop this pity party and start thinking positive for our next try. We can do this!

IVF Cycle 1 = BFN

The 2WW is officially over for us. We had our beta yesterday and it came back negative. And just like that we are not pregnant. Two months of hope, needles, procedures and a heck of a lot of money all down the drain. I will admit, I didn’t have a positive feeling going into my blood draw yesterday. I had spent the majority of the past 9 days wishing, hoping and praying for symptoms but I had none. No implantation cramping or bleeding, no nausea, and my boobs felts just fine. I had a headache one day and was exhausted but I chalked that up to the progesterone shots. I just didn’t feel pregnant and in my gut I felt that it did not work. I’ll call it “not yet a mothers intuition”. But that didn’t make the news hurt any less.

Our nurse called me with the results late in the afternoon (talk about an agonizing wait). They were looking for HCG levels of at least 100. Mine were at 2. No babies for us. We were devastated. How could this not work for us? Everything seemed to have gone so well. I guess our eggs could have been a higher quality, but I’ve come across women on forums with much lower quality eggs and they still stuck! The one thing I had worried about, my lining, was beautiful! So what happened to make my two embryos not stick?? I am hoping we will find out more answers at our follow-up appointment on November 4th. I have a lot of questions to ask and will hopefully get some answers.

The one thing we do know is that we aren’t ready to give up. It takes a lot of women multiple cycles to get pregnant, and I am willing to keep trying until I get my take home baby. I hope to start right away, as I am already so enveloped in the process it would be difficult to get used to normalcy and then have to jump right back in.

This next cycle I plan to do whatever it takes to make this baby stick. I am going to consult the ever-so-trusty Google (which is always advised again but makes me feel proactive) in search of ways to improve egg quality and IVF success rates. I have read about the avocado diet, which sounds delicious. Eating pineapple to support implantation (it can’t hurt!). I am going to work in more fruits and vegetables into my diet and take every vitamin under the sun. More importantly, I am going to try to stay positive during the 2WW.

To every woman who has gone through this process and gotten that BFN, I feel for you. But we can’t give up. It is our God-given right to be mothers and if anything, this journey just makes us stronger.

“So Hard” – Dixie Chicks

Below is a song written by the Dixie Chicks discussing struggles with infertility. Two of the Dixie Chicks, Emily Robinson & Martie Maguire discuss the meaning behind the song here. The lyrics are below. This really hit home today!

“So Hard”

Back when we started
We didn’t know how hard it was
Living on nothing
But what the wind would bring to us
Now we’ve got something
I can imagine fighting for
So why is fighting all that we’re good at anymore

And sometimes I don’t have the energy
To prove everybody wrong
And I try my best to be strong
But you know it’s so hard
It’s so hard

It’s so hard when it doesn’t come easy
It’s so hard when it doesn’t come fast
It’s so hard when it doesn’t come easy
It’s so hard

It felt like a given
Something a woman’s born to do
A natural ambition
To see a reflection of me and you

And I’d feel so guilty
If that was a gift I couldn’t give
And could you be happy
If life wasn’t how we pictured it

And sometimes I just want to wait it out
To prove everybody wrong
And I need your help to move on
Cause you know it’s so hard
It’s so hard

It’s so hard when it doesn’t come easy
It’s so hard when it doesn’t come fast
It’s so hard when it doesn’t come easy
So hard

I can live for the moment
When all these clouds open up for me to see
And show me a vision
Of you and me swimming peacefully

Last night you told me
That you can’t remember
How to feel free

It’s so hard when it doesn’t come easy
It’s so hard when it doesn’t come fast
It’s so hard when it doesn’t come easy, easy

It’s so hard

Thing 1 & Thing 2

We are officially PUPO (Pregnant until Proven Otherwise)!!! I am beyond excited, as this is the closest I have EVER come to real pregnancy. It all seems so surreal!

Sunday morning we went up to the clinic for my embryo transfer (ET). Nick couldn’t make it so the next best person came with me, my mom. It had to be one of the coolest experiences of my life. My mom was allowed back in the operating room with us, where they pulled up my two strongest embabies on a large screened TV so that we could see them.

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Mom & me!

My doctor then inserted the catheter up through my cervix into my uterus (no pain this time, so the cervical dilatation did its job!) and found the best spot to deposit my babies. Once the optimal spot was found, the embryologist sucked up the embryos one at a time (still on screen) and brought them to my RE who then inserted them into another catheter that was woven through the first catheter. We were able to see the catheter on the ultrasound and then BAM, both embryos were transferred right into the top of my uterus where I hope and pray that they will make a home. My mom cried a bit, and I almost did. I have since cried a few times.

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I have to say that science is pretty darn cool! I now have two little embryos hanging out in my womb. I call them Thing 1 and Thing 2, and I have been talking to them daily. We were given a picture of both babies as well as the ultrasound to take home and they are currently hanging on my fridge. It makes me feel like I am really pregnant, having an ultrasound on my fridge like most normal woman TTC.

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Thing 1 & Thing 2!

Upon arriving back home on Sunday bedrest was prescribed, as well as Monday. I relaxed for two days straight and it was amazing. Monday I started taking (orally) 2mg of Estradiol twice per day, along with my daily morning progesterone injections. I went into my clinic this morning for a blood draw and was told that if I do not hear back from them that everything looks normal!

So now the torment of the 2WW really kicks in. What am I going to do to keep my mind off of things? I am only 2dp5dt (2 days post 5 day transfer) and I am already symptom watching (I have none, is that normal??). I am counting on my husband, family, and friends to keep me occupied, but not to pry into how I am feeling too often.

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Once we receive the results of our pregnancy test, Nick and I will decide in private how we will proceed with sharing the news. We ask that our friends and family at home please respect our privacy and know that we will tell them, no matter what the results, when we are ready. Everyone keeps saying that they are confident this will work, but I am so nervous that it won’t. But right now I am going to try to kick back and live as though I AM pregnant. So bring on the food and laziness!!

9 little embabies jumping on the bed…

We had our egg retrieval this past Tuesday and it looks like everything went EGGcellent (see what I did there?)!! 13 eggs were retrieved, 11 were mature and 9 fertilized. I am beyond happy with that number! Now we are just hoping several make it to my day 5 transfer and freeze. My clinic does not receive daily updates on embryos and operate on a “no news is good news” policy. So we won’t know anything else until Sunday (hopefully).

It’s crazy to thing I have 9 potential babies hanging out in Petri dishes up in Michigan. I hope they are well taken care of. And I can’t wait for a chance to meet some of them!

The actual retrieval was pretty uneventful. We were in and out within an hour and a half. Nick made his contributions with no problem (so proud of him) and was sure to send me a SnapChat of the nudey magazines and pornos available! I expected to have a few days of spotting after the procedure, like I had with the cervical dilatation, but I had nothing. Praise the Lord I didn’t have to wear a pad!

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I was warned that cramping could be severe and that all of the meds could cause constipation (I am irregular as it is, so I was trying to be proactive), so I took the recommended Colace the day before and then right after the procedure. Bad idea. I spent several hours on the toilet with the worst cramps of my life. I’m guessing it was a combination of the stool softener and my swollen ovaries, which was not a pleasant combination. For future IVFers, I suggest you wait a day or so after ER to see if you actually get constipated before taking any of those death pills.

I’m feeling much better today, besides the fact that my butt is eternally sore. Those PIO shots are no joke! The actual injection doesn’t hurt at all, but afterward it feels like I have a Charlie horse in each cheek that never goes away. I never thought I would be so happy to have a desk job! I assume I will eventually get used to the pain…..right?

Morganization at its best!

It’s like Christmas came early this year! Check out this huge box full of meds that was delivered this past week and tell me that doesn’t fill you with anxiety. I dare you!

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Over the weekend, to help ease my anxiety and to prepare myself for the upcoming weeks, I organized all of my meds so that when it comes time to begin my injections (Wednesday, eek!) I will know exactly what I need to take on a given day. This was recommended to me by a friend who had recently gone through the IVF process, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is beginning their IVF journey.

There are an unlimited amount of ways someone could organize their meds, and after scouring Pinterest for hours, I ended up combining what I thought were the best ideas into my process. Below is an outline of how I organized my meds, please feel free to give it a try yourself!image9image10

What you need:

  • IVF Calendar (your RE will most likely give you a calendar outlining the first several weeks of your cycle, which should include the dates, times and what meds you should take on any given day).
  • Plastic bin with lid
  • Gallon-sized Ziplocs
  • Quart-sized Ziplocs
  • Labels (whatever kind you prefer, I chose neon colors)
  • Permanent marker/pen
  • Cotton balls
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Band-Aids (I found the small squared ones that are the perfect size for a needle prick)
  • Meds (I am using a combo of Menopur and Bravelle, along with a diluent ((I have no idea how to spell that) of sodium chloride)
  • Syringes
  • Needles

The first thing I did was label all of the gallon bags with the date, for example, I start my injects on 9/23 so my first bag was labeled September 23 and I went through to the end of my calendar (retrieval week). Next I labeled the quart-sized bags with the time of day (AM or PM) and the amount of each medication (Menopur – 2 vials, Bravelle – 2 vials).

I filled the quart bags with the vials of medication, along with one vial of the diluent, and closed them. Some of these bags included a syringe of Ganirelix. I put each of these bags into their corresponding date bag. Along with the bags of meds, I also dropped into the gallon-sized bags one syringe, one injection needle, a few cotton balls, two alcohol swabs and a Band-Aid. I followed the same process for every day on my calendar.

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Once all of the bags were complete, I put them into the plastic bin in chronological order. Now, every day I will just grab the first bag in the box and I will know exactly what I need to take! Also, this can be adjusted if I need to add or remove any medications as well. I feel so prepared now and it is a lot less overwhelming than looking at a giant cardboard box filled with medications and chaos.

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Morgan + Organization = Morganization

Mission Dilation = Success!

Yesterday I had my cervical dilation surgery and I have to say it went pretty well. The absolute worst part was not being able to have anything to eat or drink at all after midnight the evening before. And my procedure wasn’t until 12:15pm! The not eating was ok, but I was so thirsty! It’s amazing how much you crave water when you aren’t allowed to have it.

Anyway, my mother-in-law and I arrived at the clinic (my RE sees patients in his Toledo office but any procedures that require an OR must be done at their Bloomfield Hills, Michigan location) and it was so beautiful and clean! We were both very impressed with the facility. They were very quick getting me back to a “private” (a small room divided by curtains) room and changed into a lovely backless gown, has and slippers. The nurse hooked me up to an IV, gave me some antibiotics and antacids and I just sat around for a while.

When it was finally my turn a nurse came to assist me with walking my IV pole (not sure of the technical name for it) to the restroom so that I could “empty my bladder” before the procedure. This isn’t as easy as it sounds when you have an IV and pole attached to one hand and you are trying to hold up the gown in another. Needless to say I dropped the bottom of my gown into the pee water. Oops. I didn’t tell anyone though!!

After the quick restroom break the nurse walked me into the operating room, which was set up similarly to an OBGYN patient room, just with a lot more lighting and equipment. I sat down in the chair and put my feet into the stirrups like the expert I am, and then they started securing down my legs and feet, and talking my arms under blankets. I felt like I was in a mental hospital for a minute. Then the anesthesiologist put oxygen in my nose and asked me to take 4 deep breaths….I remember taking 2 and then BAM I woke up back in my private room to my RE telling me what a champ I was. The dilation was a success even though I had a very “tough” cervix. I was a little loopy from the anesthesia and Vicodin but was able to head out about a half an hour later.

All in all the procedure was pretty easy. I had some bleeding and pretty severe cramps throughout the afternoon/evening, but the pain killers worked wonders on that. Today I am back at work, still a little crampy with waves of nausea and some spotting, but I feel good. It is nice to cross another obstacle off my list. Monday it’s back to the RE’s office for my baseline ultrasound and blood work and then we really get this party started!

I also received all of my injections in the mail this week, so look forward to a riveting post on medicine organization. I can’t wait to categorize those bad boys by day!

Mock transfer mocking me!

This past Friday I went to the RE for a (what I thought was) routine mock transfer and sonohysterography. This procedure is meant to identify any potential issues with the cervix, uterus and/or ovaries. They look for things like polyps, fibroids, scar tissue, etc. Basically they insert a catheter through the cervix and into the uterus and fill the uterus with saline so they can use an ultrasound to take pictures inside of the uterine cavity. It is also called a “mock transfer” because they use the same catheter that they will use during my transfer to transfer the embryos into my uterus, so it is important that the catheter can get to my uterus for that very reason.  Any issues that might be identified during this visit will need to be addressed prior to the start of the IVF cycle.

I went into my visit feeling confident that my uterus would be a beautiful place for a baby to make a home! However, not even ten seconds into the procedure, right as my doctor was “threading” the catheter into my cervix, I knew something was wrong. “Your cervix is very small”, I heard him say. To which I responded “Well I’m a small girl!” Apparently this wasn’t a laughing matter. As it turns out, as a result of my cervical laser surgery over a decade ago to treat precancerous cells, I have scar tissue on my cervix which has made the passage way very small. So small that the RE couldn’t even get the catheter into my cervix. They were able to inject the saline and finish the procedure, but it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced!

The results indicated that my uterus was indeed “beautiful”, but that my ovaries were also small. To treat this I will have to take an extra dose of the fertility drug Menopur when I begin my injections. Treating the small cervix isn’t as easy. This coming Thursday I have to have cervical dilation surgery ($$$). According to my research and a very graphic YouTube video, the RE will put me under anesthesia and insert metal rods of varying sizes into my cervix until it has expanded to the appropriate size. How fun does that sound??? As much as I am not looking forward to this, it is a minor setback and I am just glad that we found this sooner rather than later. It also has me wondering if this is another reason we have been unsuccessful at conceiving. It is crazy just how much needs to go right to have a baby….