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Monday, December 29, 2014

Facing my Fears

On February 27th, 2008 I went to the emergency room after not feeling Riley kicking me for the past 2-3 days.  I honestly thought I would go in, have an ultrasound, and would be told she was fine and would get sent on my way so I could go to school and take a test I needed to take that day.  The ER sent me to the Maternity Unit because I was 24 weeks pregnant and after 20 weeks the ER does not handle pregnancy complications.  So I went to the Maternity Unit and the nurse used the doppler first to try to find Riley's heartbeat.  She picked up a heartbeat, but she was sure it was mine.  She wanted to do an ultrasound next, but I knew what was going to happen so I made her wait until Alex could get to the hospital to be with me.  I didn't want to be alone when they told me our daughter's heart had stopped beating.

From that moment on, ultrasounds have terrified me.  I've never had to be alone during either of the times I've been told our babies hearts have stopped beating or the time I was told they could not see a baby in the sac.  I've never had to be alone during the birth of our daughter or my two D&C's.  I was only ever alone when I miscarried my second baby while going to the bathroom at church...and that was the most lonely feeling in the world. I am so fortunate to have my husband, who has been there throughout all of this with me. Who has held my hand and cried with me after each time the doctors have said "there is no heartbeat," "you have two choices-miscarry naturally or a D&C," "we should be able to see the baby by now." My biggest fear is hearing those words while I am all alone with no hand to hold and no one to cry with. 

So today was a big task for the both of us.  Today I went to my ultrasound alone because Alex had to work and wasn't able to get off for my appointment.  Today I had to gain courage from a place where I was afraid.  I had to face my fears today.

As I waited on my doctor to come in to the room, I sat with my lucky rainbow socks on my feet and paper drape over my bottom half, and I prayed that the Lord would continue to bless us and show us his faithfulness and would continue to protect both me and the baby growing in me. 

And the Lord answered my prayers.  Our baby is growing beautifully.  Still measuring on the small side at 7 weeks 2 days, three days behind still....but has grown as expected from last week. The great news from today is that Baby Monnier's heart rate was 156 beats per minute! Thank you Jesus:) Here is a picture of our growing Baby M:

I will post the heartbeat video to our personal page again:!/alexandlindsaysbabyquest

I sent Alex, my mom, and my sister (our egg donor) an update as soon as the doctor left the room.  My husband said his heart was probably beating faster than the baby's as he waited for the update.  He also told me he hates not being able to be at these type of appointments with me.  I know today he faced one of his fears too....sending me to the ultrasound alone because he worries about me having to drive myself if I were to get the heartbreaking news we've heard so many times before. 

My doctor said we could continue weekly ultrasounds.  But she also told me these are just to "make me feel better."  And since Alex wouldn't be able to come next week either if I had another ultrasound next week, I asked if we could make the next one 2 weeks from today.  So January 12th will be the next time we get to see our baby again. 

Everything else continues as is.  Daily Lovenox injections, 2 Progesterone injections in the morning, Prednisone twice a day, Intralipid Infusions every other week, and all my daily dose of vitamins, Metformin, and Synthroid.  The only thing that will change is starting January 3rd I will start titrating off of the Estrace (estrogen pills) and a week later won't be taking them at all.  I will most likely be released from my fertility doctor after the next ultrasound and finally get to meet with my regular OB on January 20th.  I will be glad to get rid of these 2 hour drives and will be happy to transition to regular prenatal care, although my OB will be treating me like a high risk patient due to my other medical issues. 

As we make our way out of 2014 and into 2015, I am hopeful that our Rainbow Baby is on his or her way into our arms.  2014 has been a stressful year to say that least with 2 IVF cycles and $40,000+ spent on trying to get pregnant with a healthy baby that has as better chance at survival than the babies we have conceived naturally.  2014 has also brought me new friendships that I would have never made had we not been on this specific journey to parenthood, and has brought me back to church where I have regained my faith in God and trust in the promises he made for our lives.  So with every bad experience comes something positive too.  However....I am looking forward to the blessings that 2015 has in the works for us!

For everyone struggling to believe that 2015 will be their year, I understand. However, with the faith of a mustard seed...nothing is impossible!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Miracle on Frankfort Street

 I said last week that I hoped the next week would be uneventful and I wouldn't have any updates to give until our next ultrasound which was scheduled for today. was a very nice and uneventful week! I have had no more bleeding or miscarriage scares so far, so I have been able to relax a bit more as I patiently waited for today's ultrasound.  Baby Monnier finally gave mommy a break.

And today we were able to hear a heartbeat! Baby Monnier's heart is currently beating at 111 beats per minute:) He or She (I say he, my mother-in-law says she) is measuring a bit small right now at 6 weeks 3 days even though today I am 6 weeks 6 days pregnant.  Here is a picture of our little Christmas Miracle, the miracle on Frankfort Street this year!

Here is another view, with the heart rate shown at the bottom:
For a sneak peak video of Baby Monnier's Heart Beat, come visit our personal Facebook Page:
I can't figure out how to convert the video so that it will upload properly to the blog. Sorry!!
Today we can say we have crossed another hurdle in this pregnancy.  We got to hear the heart beat.  We are doing better than two of our previous pregnancies so far (our second was a natural miscarriage at 7ish weeks prior to having any ultrasound and our fourth was a blighted ovum meaning we never got to see or hear a baby even during the 8th week of our pregnancy).  So I will take this as a win today.  I am still cautiously optimistic due to the growth being 3 days behind today.  But I am hoping our little miracle baby will have a growth spurt soon and will catch up to what he or she should be by our next ultrasound on Monday. 
Our fertility doctor said she normally discharges her patients to their regular OB once a heart beat is detected, but she will continue to monitor me closely until at least 10 weeks before she releases me due to my history of recurrent loss.  I feel like we are in real good hands between all the doctors we have working with us during this pregnancy.  Our next hurdle is to make it into the second trimester.  It's been 7 years since I have experienced the second trimester.  Other than our first daughter who I carried until 24 weeks before her heart stopped beating, the closest that I have come to the second trimester was baby # 3 whose heart stopped beating at 10 weeks 6 days...that was the last heartbeat we have heard until today, and that was 2 years ago. Please continue to pray for Baby Monnier's health and growth as we make our way through the first trimester!  
Pregnancy symptom wise, I've just had an increased need for sleep.  I'm tired...all the time! This is my normal pregnancy symptom that I've experienced with all 5 pregnancies. I've had slight nausea but nothing that eating or sniffing some peppermint essential oil doesn't cure:)  I've had to delete myself from one of the pregnancy Facebooks groups I was in because it seemed like constant complaining about pregnancy symptoms. Yes, pregnancy causes many uncomfortable symptoms but with those symptoms comes a huge blessing that should never be complained about.  I've been kinda (okay maybe really) moody towards my Husband this week and it is probably due to my hormones, but I won't ever use that as an excuse or complain that that's why I'm moody.  You take the good with the bad and be grateful for what you have because so many people struggle to become pregnancy and maintain being pregnant. My stomach is bruised from Lovenox shots and my hips are bruised from Progesterone shots-but every shot and ever bruise is worth it. 
We hope that all who are reading and following our journey to parenthood will have a very Merry Christmas enjoyed with family and friends!
God Bless,
The Monniers (Alex, Lindsay, Baby M, and our Angels in Heaven-Riley Grace, Braylen Jeremiah, Logan Kale, & Audrey Rayne). 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another False Alarm

Have I mentioned that being pregnant after losing a baby, or four, is rough on the emotions?  It's like I'm riding this roller coaster that is fun and exciting one day and the next I feel like I am plummeting to my death with no lap bar on me to keep me inside the ride.  My body keeps giving me these false alarms and I feel like I may have a heart attack before this pregnancy is over if things keep up this way. 

Over the weekend I woke up Friday night and Saturday night with some severe cramping in the middle of the night.  Both nights it was only during the first bathroom break and never again during my other middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks. It was strange but didn't think much of it.  Saturday night my brain must have been on severe overload.  I remember having the strangest dreams.  One dream particularly stood out because it was about our baby.  During this dream my husband and I were at our fertility clinic and the nurse was telling us that they retrieved 83 eggs from my sister but only 3 of them fertilized.  I started questioning my husband and the nurses why we did another egg retrieval with my sister and was told that our baby had no heartbeat when we had our ultrasound so I had to have a D&C and then we transferred the three frozen embryos we had and none of them implanted so my husband had to force my sister into donating her eggs to us again and now she is no longer talking to us.  I started screaming and yelling at my husband and the nurse in my dream, about how I couldn't remember any of that happening, and how my husband knew that I never wanted to try to carry a baby ever again if we lost this one, and how we should have tried to use a surrogate for the three frozen embryos we had left, and how I never wanted to do any more fertility treatments and wanted to adopt if the surrogate didn't work out, and how he ruined my relationship with my sister.  The dream ended when my husband told the nurse to cancel the cycle and forget about the three newly fertilized eggs we had in the lab.  The dream was bizarre, but what I got out of the whole thing was that we lost this baby that I'm carrying now, and it scared me because I've had dreams in the past about having miscarriages and even dreamt we found out our baby had Down Syndrome when I was 6 weeks pregnant and those dreams always ended up becoming our reality.  Do I have a 6th sense? I'm not sure. But it's pretty strange that I knew our baby had Down Syndrome before ever knowing I had the translocated chromosome and before genetic testing came back on our baby that he did have Down Syndrome.  And it's pretty strange that I've had dreams about miscarrying our babies and they die inside me around the same time of my dreams or shortly after.  So yeah....I was worried I was going to cause our baby to die inside me before our next ultrasound because I had a dream about miscarrying again.  But then again, I also had dreams after that about being in a motorcycle gang and having a massive shoot out between my gang and another gang, and after that I had a dream about taking my niece dress shopping for her school dance.  It was a very weird night inside my head. 

Sunday morning I went to church and felt some peace come over me...that it was just a silly dream and everything is going to be fine this time.  I took my last pregnancy test when I got home from church just to make sure the weeks estimator said 3+ weeks (since it still said 2-3 weeks on Thursday) and it did, which really made me jump for joy.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning our bathroom and putting up our new Christmas tree.  Throughout the evening I had some more cramping but it quickly came and went.  So no big deal.

Monday morning at 4:30am I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom after I could feel myself bleeding.  It was dripping out of me. Bright red blood that was flowing like the start of a menstrual cycle.  As I was wiping the blood kept coming out and I sat alone in the bathroom saying "Oh my God, Please no. Please no."  I was terrified that I was losing our baby.  I was terrified that the dream I had the night before did this.  I was terrified that I caused this to happen because I dyed my hair Saturday afternoon and was using strong cleaning supplies to clean our bathroom on Sunday. When I went back to the bedroom my husband woke up and asked me what was wrong.  I told him and for the first time he looked worried too. I immediately emailed the nurses at our fertility clinic and asked if they would call me as soon as they came in to the office and asked if the doctor would let me get my HCG checked that morning to see what was going on.  After sending the email I text my mom who thankfully works third shift and she finally convinced me to go back to sleep.  Before falling asleep I began profusely praying to God that he would stop the bleeding and allow us to keep this baby and would help me protect this baby and guide us as we raise this baby.  I fell asleep with my legs crossed, hoping that would keep the blood in or make it stop or something.  When I got back up at 7:30am to get my Progesterone injections from my husband, the bleeding had decreased and was starting to turn from red to brown-that was a good sign.  I went back to sleep and woke up at 9:30am to a voicemail from our fertility nurse asking me to be at the office by 10:30am for an emergency ultrasound.  There was no way I was going to be able to make a 2 hour drive into an hour drive.  I called her and I suggested that I have a physician in the ER that I work at do the ultrasound for me that day instead and she insisted that I didn't do that and scheduled me for an ultrasound with my doctor today at 9am.  After getting off the phone with her I went to the bathroom and the bleeding had completely stopped! PRAISE YOU LORD!!!

The remaining of the day yesterday I was still anxious, but hopeful that everything was going to be okay after all.  The bleeding stopped...and that's the good thing.  But why is the bleeding getting more red and heavier each time I seem to be "spotting"? That was a question I was hoping I could get answered today.  And I'm glad we decided not to have anyone at my job do the ultrasound because, to be honest, I wouldn't have wanted people that I work with putting a big probe up my vagina. That's a bit too personal for me!

Thankfully the dream and the bleeding were just false alarms.  We got to see our baby snuggled into my uterus again.  This time with a tiny flickering heartbeat!! We couldn't hear the heartbeat yet, but it was definitely reassuring to know the baby is doing just fine in there.  The other small sac that the doctor saw on Friday is no longer there.  It's possible that's what was causing my cramping and body trying to rid of it.  Or, the nurse said the baby could still be burrowing itself deeper into my uterine lining causing some capillaries to burst and my uterus to bleed.  I apologized for being a hypochondriac and the nurse reassured me that I have every reason in the world to be as anxious as I am and that I am not being a nuisance to her! It's also been recommended that I stop taking Aspirin for the time being to see if that helps keep the bleeding to a minimum.

Tomorrow I will be 6 weeks pregnant!! We will continue to celebrate each week as another milestone in this pregnancy and continue to embrace our emotions on a day by day basis. I bought some "Anxiety Free" essential oil today and hope this is something that will calm me down quickly when my mind starts racing negative thoughts and images.   Our next ultrasound got moved from next Monday to next Tuesday.  We should be able to hear the heart beating at that ultrasound.  It will be the most magical Christmas gift we could ever receive, and all thanks to my sister!

Hopefully this next week will be uneventful and I won't have any updates until our next ultrasound a week from today.  For all those who like to follow my blog but miss some of my updates because their newsfeed doesn't always show them, you can subscribe to my blog by going to the home page and submitting your email address in the email bar at the top of the page.  You'll get an email every time I submit a new post.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of your who are riding this crazy emotional roller coaster of pregnancy after loss and/or infertility too!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Baby Monnier in the Making

Well, today was the day we found out if there would be 1 or 2 Baby Monnier's in the making.  I had my first ultrasound with my fertility doctor at 5 weeks 2 days. And of course I wore my rainbow socks.  Here is what we saw:

We have one Baby Monnier in the making.  Today we saw the gestational sac with the yolk sac inside it and possibly the fetal pole.  It feels good to finally see what has been going on inside my uterus.  I hope Baby Monnier is making him/herself comfortable in there and will continue to grow into the healthy, happy baby we've been waiting for. 

There was possibly a second sac that the doctor said she would keep an eye on.  It was pretty small though and honestly, I don't think it will become anything.  I do think that maybe it was the second baby we had transferred but that it stopped growing over the weekend.  I think maybe that could explain why I've just had this terrible feeling that something started to go wrong and maybe why my hormones stopped progressing as fast.  But maybe not.  I over-analyze everything.  But I also have very very strong intuition about these things too and always seem to know something is wrong before the doctor has to tell me something is wrong.  I actually hope that this is what was causing that feeling and hope our one little one will impress us with a strong heartbeat at our next ultrasound. 

Our next ultrasound will be December 22nd.  Please pray that our Christmas Miracle has a heartbeat! I won't have any more blood tests to check my hormone levels before then, unless I freak out next week and ask them to check my levels to make sure things are still progressing.  I'm hoping now that I have seen that we have a very healthy looking sac and can see there is something in there developing that I can try to keep my anxiety to a minimum.  It's easier said than done.  I told the nurse today my Cortisol levels are probably through the roof...and of course my blood pressure was higher than normal today before she took me in for the ultrasound.  I have a few Christmas Parties this weekend and next weekend to keep my mind busy, or at least I hope they will!

Thank you for the continued prayers as we make our way through the first trimester.  This is only the beginning and we have many more hurdles to get through.  We sure hope our Rainbow Baby will be here by August 2015!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pregnancy After Loss

Yesterday I shared this article by the Huffington Post on how pregnancy after a miscarriage is different on my personal Facebook timeline.  I think anyone who has lost a baby during pregnancy can attest to how different being pregnant after loss is.  It is a time full of fears and mistrust in your body.  It is a time when you want to rejoice but your afraid to get to excited or too hopeful.  It is when you struggle between having both positive and negative thoughts about what is going to happen to your baby.  You can read the article here:

I don't expect people who have had perfect pregnancies or even troubled pregnancies but without loss to comprehend the state of mind of a mother who is pregnant after loss. They couldn't comprehend it.  In there world-everything worked out just the way it was supposed to.  Those of us who have experienced the death of our children-we don't live in that world and we never will to be quite honest. I personally have never experienced anything good come out of any of my pregnancies.  I personally have experienced the stillbirth of our daughter and three first trimester miscarriages after that.  With every loss the situation was different. It never happened the same way so I personally can never predict when I can let my guard down. And that sucks. It really really sucks. 

I feel like my emotions have been everywhere.  I want to be happy.  Last week I was ecstatic.  My HCG rose from 136 on Wednesday to 389 on Friday...almost tripling when it only needed to double.  I had no real worries over the weekend, even with some cramping that I had on Saturday.  I assumed it was still my body dealing with the stomach bug, which I fully believe now is the reason I vomited on Wednesday morning last week.  Monday was still a good day...I took a generic pregnancy test in the morning, one that I used last week and could barely see a second line, and was thrilled to see the test line a bright blue color that was far brighter than the control line.  Then Tuesday I decided to take a Clear Blue Digital Weeks Estimator test and since then I've been worried and feeling like something isn't going the way it should.  According to some information on the Internet, the weeks estimator should read 3+ when HCG is 2,000 or higher.  If my HCG continued to rise the way it was last week, it would have been over 2,000 yesterday.  So I took the test, hoping to see 3+ weeks but it still read 2-3 weeks.  I was a little bummed...but still thought okay...if my level is doubling then it would only be around 1600 and that's still good.  But when I got home from work last night and went to the bathroom and saw some red blood, I got worried. Really worried.  It wasn't a lot of blood, but it was red, and I know red blood is not good to have.  So to try to relax my mind I went to the couch and watched The Voice results show and the Pretty Little Liars Christmas special.  When that was over I took another weeks estimator test to make sure it didn't say 1-2 weeks which would have indicated my levels were dropping and I was going to miscarry.  It didn't. It still said 2-3 weeks. So with that I got ready for bed, put my rainbow socks on, and did some more research on those silly weeks estimator tests. 

Why did I put my rainbow socks on?  Well because they have brought us good luck so far.  I wore them to my sister's egg retrieval, to our embryo transfer, and both of my blood draws to have my HCG checked.  I thought if I wore them to bed and to my blood draw today that they would bring us good luck with our HCG results today.  Sounds silly...but I guess I'm kinda superstitious. Plus they are really comfy to wear. 

My research on the weeks estimators gave me a little more comfort too.  People were saying that their test was showing 2-3 weeks but their blood HCG came back over 4,000.  So that made me feel better. And with that I fell asleep praying our HCG today would be at least 3,000 and that I would not have any more red blood in the morning.  When I woke up this morning I had no more red blood! It turned brown (gross, I know)...but brown is okay. That just means it's old blood and a little spotting is okay in early pregnancy too. Shewww!

As far as my HCG today, the nurse called about 3 hours ago to tell me it came back at 2035.  The number was disappointing to me to be honest.  That means since Friday, the level has not quite doubled every day and that makes me super scared that we could miscarry.  The nurse said it was still an appropriate level for being 5 weeks pregnant, and with my progesterone at 51.6 today they were confident that things were okay right now.  A few minutes later the nurse called me back to reassure me that my level is perfectly normal today and that she realized she did not tell me that it really just needs to double every 2 days based upon the initial level, which was 136, so today as long as my level was at least 1642 they would have considered it to be normal.  She got me teary eyed when I told her thank you for calling me back and telling me that because I'm really struggling right now to trust in my body and she responded by saying "I know it's hard when all it's done is fail you."  She gets it.  She definitely gets it.  And that makes me feel better to have such a supportive nurse who doesn't look at me as being annoying because I worry too much. 

Friday at 9:30am is my first ultrasound.  I will be going at it alone because my husband has to work and I have to go to work right afterwards.  This initial ultrasound is just to make sure the sac is in the uterus and not my tubes and to count how many sacs there are.  The one thing I am confident about is that the sac will be in my uterus.  I have no doubt about that at all.  I fully believe there will be just one sac and that we are not pregnant with twins.  I am okay with that though.  I need to see my body succeed at carrying one baby before I can be confident that my body will be able to carry twins.  But if there are twins...I will be happy with that too and will know how truly blessed we are this Christmas. 

Praying everyone who is pregnant after losing a baby will find their inner strength and peace to be able to trust in their bodies to bring them their healthy rainbow baby.  I am going to recite this affirmation over and over until I feel the peace that I need. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beta on the Rise

I'm going to keep today's post short and sweet. At least I think I am. 

I woke up today and took another pregnancy test even though I knew I was going to be getting my blood drawn a couple hours later.  I took a digital one because I wanted to see if the weeks estimator would change from 1-2 weeks (past ovulation) meaning I was 3-4 weeks pregnant, to 2-3 weeks (past ovulation) meaning I was 4-5 weeks pregnant based on the level of HCG the stick could detect in my stream of urine.  It was so comforting to see this test result:

This afternoon I got a call from our fertility center's nurse with my Beta HCG and Progesterone results.  The results were fantastic and made me ecstatic! A normal rise is HCG would mean that the numbers would double every 48-72 hours.  Ideally...every 48 hours.  So today I was expecting my HCG to be around 272.  Instead, my HCG nearly tripled in 48 hours! It came back at 389!! This makes me over the moon with happiness!

Looking back to my last pregnancy, my HCG struggled to double in the beginning.  I'm not sure if during the entire 8 weeks that I was considered pregnant if it ever actually doubled.  It wasn't until the 6th week of my pregnancy that my HCG reached 330.  I'm only 4 weeks and 2 days today it my level has already surpassed that number and my level nearly tripled! These are very good signs of a healthy baby growing inside of me already.  Of course there is always this little voice in our heads that say don't get too excited too fast.  Even people with healthy rising HCG numbers have miscarriages.  Even babies that survive the first trimester have organ abnormalities.  Even completely healthy full term babies can die during birth.  I hate that we think this way....but we are naive anymore.  We know too much about what can go wrong.  We've seen it happen to ourselves and to our friends and even complete strangers.  But despite what we know can go wrong....I will continue to try to focus on everything that can go right from this point forward! We are really on a good start for this pregnancy and that's what is important in this very moment. 

In other news, my progesterone took a dip from 36.6 last week to 28 today.  It is still within the range they like to see it at so they are not worried about it.  I continue to get two shots of Progesterone every morning, one in each hip.  My hips are nice and bruised but it is all worth it.  And I have not puked my guts out since Wednesday morning.  So far I'm keeping the little bit of food that I am eating down and it's only creating some nausea for the time being.  My doctor immediately called me in a prescription for Zofran when she heard I was vomiting the other day.  I refused to pick it up from the pharmacy for several reasons.  1.) Zofran has been found to be linked to Congenital Heart Defects and I'll be damned if I will take something that could harm our child(ren).  And 2.) I'm not going to take something at the first sign of morning sickness...if that's even what that was. For all I know I could have a virus because I heard on the news that it doesn't matter if you got the flu vaccine this year or not because it does not protect from all the new strains of the flu that are floating around...and I work in a hospital around sick people daily.  Even if this is morning sickness...I'll deal with it.  I've never had it before...and for once I want to experience an actually normal pregnancy! And apparently morning sickness is a normal part of I'll manage. Right now I'm managing by working on my third pack of saltine crackers in the past three days.  It's about the only think that tastes decent, but that's okay. 

My next HCG and Progesterone check will not be until Wednesday since things are progressing beautifully right now.  So I won't have any more updates on the baby front until then.  Tuesday I get my forth intralipid infusion and next week I will also get my updated immunological blood work completed to make sure my body is not going into an autoimmune attack mode this time around.

Other than me and the growing baby or babies inside of me doing well so far, I have felt sorrowful for my friends who have not had any good news over the past month.  I would like to ask my prayer warrior to say a special prayer for my friends Emily and Mandie who both have had multiple failed IUI's and recently developed ovarian cysts due to medications they had to take for their last IUI cycles, forcing them to take this month off and now causing them to consider doing IVF.  I would also like to ask for prayers for my friends Stephanie and Amber who both transferred two beautifully healthy day 5 blastocyst embryos right before me and whose HCG levels came back extremely low but present, yet never started rising properly so they are now considered to be miscarrying which is just heartbreaking to me to see my friends going through this.  And prayers please for my friend who we will call "R" who has recently had her second miscarriage from her second pregnancy.  I wish no one had to go through these types of heartache and financial burdens that failed infertility treatments and pregnancy loss causes...and especially wish my friends did not have to endure these trials of life.  It makes me feel slightly guilty for being happy for myself because I have been on the other end of the stick and know how hard it is to be happy for friends and family when your hurting inside for yourself.  I pray that we all find peace, happiness, and success along this long, winding journey to become parents. 

So much for short and sweet.  I'm a wordy person and my thoughts ramble out of my head when I start typing...but thanks for reading and praying as always! Have a blessed weekend:)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I've been laying low since our embryo transfer 8 days ago.  I haven't written any updates because I've been trying not to over analyze everything.  How is that possible though?!? It's all I've been thinking about. Wondering if this worked for us or not.  Thinking about what could be happening or not happening inside my uterus.  I wish that I could just stick my head down there and peak inside my uterus to see what's going on! It has felt like nothings been going on.  I've been feeling pretty normal overall.  I didn't let that freak me out though because during our last cycle I was having just about every pregnancy symptom except morning sickness and I ended up not pregnant.  So this time I told myself it will be what it's supposed to be and had a good feeling that at least one of our embryos was going to stick around for us.

Today is a very special day for us for two reasons.  Today is the 15th anniversary of my father-in-laws death.  He has been gone half of my husbands life.  I never had the opportunity to meet him but I've heard so many good things about the man he was,  I know it has been hard for my husband to go through life without his father being there for his high school and college graduations, to give him relationship advise, to watch football games together, and to have him missing on the day of our wedding.  Today his dad showed us he is rooting for us too! Today we were blessed with a positive pregnancy test!!!

I will let you all in on a secret.  I've known since Monday morning that we were pregnant:)  I started taking tests every morning after my husband would leave for work and then would throw them away in our outside trash cans so I could surprise him today by taking a test this morning and waking him up by telling him we are pregnant.  My first test on Monday was a Dollar Store brand test and the line was incredibly faint so I broke out a Clear Blue Digital and broke out with a fist pump when it said the words "Pregnant!" Then I started spotting a few hours later and it kinda freaked me out, although I know it can be completely normal.  I've just never spotted before and I expected implantation spotting to occur last week.  The spotting stopped though and on Tuesday the lines on the pregnancy test were a little darker which was comforting.  And although my plan was to surprise my husband by waking him up to a positive test today, he was woken up instead to me running to the bathroom at 5am and vomiting my guts out in our bathroom sink for 10 minutes! His response?  "I hope this is morning sickness."  Holy cow,,,,morning sickness? I've been pregnant 4 times and I've never had morning sickness!! After he went back to bed I peed on a stick, took it too him, and said "I think it's safe to say it's morning sickness."

This morning was super rough.  I struggled to even find the energy to get in my car and drive to the lab to get my blood work done.  I had been up all night long just not feeling well and having trouble sleeping because of how nauseous I was.  And even though I felt better after ralphing up everything I had eaten the day before, I still couldn't get myself to fall back to sleep.  At 7:15am I was back at it again vomiting pure liquid because I had nothing else left to vomit.  I felt weak and my body was freezing and bones were felt like the flu to be honest.  Is that what morning sickness feels like?? This is completely new to me! I'm taking it as a good sign though and hoping for once we have a normal pregnancy:)

After back home from getting my blood drawn today, I've been napping on the couch with a heating pad and eating saltine crackers.  We got the call around 3:45 with our beta HCG results.  The nurse was very pleased to inform us that my HCG was 136 today at 8 days past 6 day embryo transfer! She said they expect the range to be between 50-100 by today so we are doing well so far.  We are definitely pregnant!  And this is definitely a healthier number than we started with during our last pregnancy which was over a year ago and ended in a blighted ovum/miscarriage. So we are super happy!

My next blood test will be on Friday.  We will recheck my HCG to make sure it is rising correctly and will also check my progesterone.  By the way....I did get my progesterone checked last Wednesday, the day after our transfer, and my level was 36.6 which was higher than it needed to be and instilled some confidence in me that this really was going to work.  If my level looks good on Friday they will schedule me for our initial ultrasound which is to check if there's one or two gestational sacs and to make sure they are in my uterus and not my tubes.  The ultrasound where we get to hear the heartbeat(s) will be around Christmas time:)

It's been almost two years since the last time we heard a heartbeat on an ultrasound.  It seems like it's been forever ago.  We know that getting to see the heartbeat(s) is the next hurdle along this journey.  We've conquered 1/4th of the tasks we set to conquer....we got pregnant.  Now we have the first, second, and third trimester to get through! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we know all too well that anything can happen.  I'm going to work on keeping myself positive and telling myself this time is going to be different! We certainly appreciate everyone who is following our journey to parenthood and everyone who has reached out to me to ask for an update today!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bake at 325 Degrees

Today was a good day! Today we got up at 5:00am to get ready to meet our babies for the first time.  Today we had our embryo transfer.  Today...our babies came home with us! 

We are excited to announce that we were able to transfer two little turkeys into momma's oven today:)  Our first turkey is a beautifully hatching blastocyst who is a perfect grade 1 embryo.  Our second turkey is just starting the hatching process and is a nearly perfect grade 1.5 blastocyst.  We are so happy to be able to bake our turkey's on our own now....and just in time for Thanksgiving! 

The transfer itself was not as smooth as any of us would have liked it to be.  I was told to drink 36oz of water on our way to the office so my bladder would be full which helps them visualize the uterus better on the abdominal ultrasound.  At first my bladder was too full and that's all they could see on the screen so I had to empty it a little bit.  When we rechecked it they still it was still too full and they couldn't get a good view of my uterus so back to the bathroom I went to empty it some more.  By the way,,,,it's really hard to force yourself to stop peeing when you know there's more in there! The next time they checked me was when the doctor got there and had my legs in stirrups and was getting ready to transfer our two little babies from the catheter into my uterus. That time I was told my bladder wasn't full enough. They struggled the entire time to find my uterus which was a bit unsettling. However, they were sure when we were done that they babies were no longer inside the catheter and were inside their new home right in the middle of my stubborn uterus.  We sure hope so! 

We hope to be able to bake these TWO turkeys for the next 9 months! It's amazing that we will know in 8 days from now if we are still pregnant.  It seems so unreal still.  Tomorrow I will get my Progesterone checked just to make sure it's at the level it should be and if it's not we will have to supplement the injections with suppositories.  Thankfully the fertility center gave me a ton of free samples just in case I need to start using them tomorrow.  That made me feel better so I don't have to worry about getting a last minute prescription filled tomorrow evening, the night before Thanksgiving.  

As for our other 6 babies, three are now in the storage freezer at our fertility center.  Those three are grade 2 blastocysts.  The other three are going to be monitored until tomorrow to see if they improve enough to be frozen.  They have not stopped growing, so that's a good sign. They are fighters just like us! It would be amazing if they were able to improve would be a true miracle.  We feel blessed either way though.  Having really good quality blastocysts today is such a huge improvement from our last IVF cycle...and we owe it all to my sister for donating her young and healthy eggs to us! 

The rest of the day I will be taking it easy on my couch.  Alex will be celebrating tonight at bowling league...LOL.  And the next two days we get to celebrate that we are "PUPO" (Pregnant until Proven otherwise) with our families during our Thanksgiving feasts! I hope our babies area ready for some yummy food!! 

Hoping and praying everyone reading this has a reason to feel thankful and blessed this Thanksgiving season.  We certainly are blessed with all the support and amazing team of prayer warriors! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Preheating the Oven

I want to start today's post by thanking my God.  Six days ago when we had my sister's egg retrieval we were ecstatic with the number of eggs that were collected.  The very next day we were told only half of those eggs were mature and only a third fertilized.  I was feeling down.  I was worried.  I was scared that we had just put my sister through the most invasive procedure she has ever been through and it may not have been worth it.  It may not have been worth the $19,000 we just spent.  It may not work out for us in the end.  I was feeling all those emotions not because I was not grateful for the 23 eggs my sister donated and the 8 eggs that fertilized.  I was feeling those emotions because all we've known so far on our journey is loss, death, devastation, heartache, pain, debt, uncertainty.  I was feeling those emotions because unfortunately I realize that infertility treatments only occasionally work....most of the time they don't, according to statistics and what I've learned through online support groups.  I was feeling those emotions because unfortunately I knew that there would be some of those 8 fertilized eggs that would not grow the way they should based on my personal experience during our first IVF cycle and the experience of other people that I knew from my support groups.  I was feeling those emotions because unfortunately I know everything can look great one day and the next things take a terrible turn for the worse.  I was feeling those emotions because unfortunately I know that even a perfect looking embryo does not always implant.  I was feeling those emotions because I know nothing in this life is a guarantee....just like I unfortunately know there is no "safe zone" during pregnancy....babies die for no reason at all and even in the last weeks of pregnancy.  My experience and the experiences I have witnessed absolutely shape how my mind thinks and sometimes it gets the best of me, and sometimes it makes me appreciate what we have that much more.  

After my post on Thursday about our fertilization report, I was reminded that although these 8 babies were created in a lab and were going to grow outside of me for several days, God knows each and every one of them.  He knew their genders the day the egg and sperm snuggled in together.  He knew their fate and he knew which ones would be destined to be our babies.  That gave me comfort.  That calmed my anxiety.  That made me excited to get our embryo development report....and it made me even more excited to learn that 7 of the 8 were doing great.  That gave me the confidence that I needed again.  That gave me the hope that I needed again.  And it made me realize "it's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it" just like the sign said that my sister was holding in our egg retrieval day picture. 

Fast forward two more days.  We got our day five embryo development report today.  Today our babies should be at the stage of a Morula or Blastocyst.  They are graded again on a scale of 1-4 where 1 is the best quality and 4 is the worst.  This is what we have today: 

One baby is an expanding blastocyst and graded a 1.5 

Three babies are early stage blastocyst and graded a 2

One baby is a late stage Morula and graded a 2 

Two babies are "blast-like" and graded a 3 

One baby is 7 cells and graded a 3 

So what does all this mean?  Well the Expanding Blastocyst is nearly perfect.  The early stage Blastocyst and late stage Morula are graded a 2 currently because the lab said they don't know yet how the cells will continue to compact so they take a point off until they see how they do.  Its still good that they are at the Morula and Blastocyst stage and a grade 2 is still good also.  The two babies that are "blast-like" means that they look like a blastocyst, but they do not have the intercell mass which is what creates the baby so they are graded a three since the quality does not appear promising. And the baby that is only 7 cells today....well that one's a little fighter because two days ago it was 4 cells and they thought then it would stop growing.  7 cells today is not good though, and this one definitely won't be able to come home with us.  

At this point we are looking at 5 good quality embryos unless a miracle happens overnight and the two "blast-like" ones suddenly have an intercell mass.  The lab says they aren't hopeful that will happen, but it HAS happened.  So I ask that you continue to pray for our 5 very hopeful babies and even the 2 others that have less of a chance of making it until tomorrow.  

Tomorrow we go in for our embryo transfer. At 8:30am one or two of these babies will be getting placed inside momma's oven! We are super happy about that.  Over the last couple of weeks we've been "preheating" this oven in preparation for this day.  I've been on birth control and Lupron to suppress my ovaries so I don't ovulate.  I've been on Estrace to build my uterine (oven) lining.  I've been on Prednisone and Medrol to make sure my body doesn't look at the baby as an unwanted invader.  I've gotten two intralipid infusions for that same reason.  I've been on Lovenox injections to thin my blood and prevent blood clots throughout my body, including my uterus.  I've been on Progesterone injections in my hips/back/upper butt....whatever the area is called, so my uterine blood vessels are strong and ready for implantation to occur and so my body can develop a placenta once the baby does implant itself.  I've been getting acupuncture on a weekly basis since October to increase my chances of implantation into a healthy uterus.  I had my last appointment before the transfer today, and my next appointment is on Wednesday.  I've been taking a crap ton of vitamins to help with blood flow issues and to help control my Homocystiene levels.  I was prayed over in church back in August when I first started going back and I was prayed over again yesterday for my body to grow this/these babies into the people they are meant to be.  Tomorrow we start baking inside the oven:) 

I will update tomorrow afternoon once we are home and after I get my third intralipid infusion.  I can't type with an IV shoved in my hand:/ We will know tomorrow how many we have in the oven and how many we have in the freezer! My goal for this cycle was to end up with 5-6 good quality embryos, even when we started out with 23 eggs, so we can transfer two and freeze the others.  It looks like we may very well meet that goal:) My ultimate goal is to get one or two living babies out of this cycle....and I really believe we will.  

Thank you for the continued prayers and amazing support! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Feeling Egg-Cited!

We can take a big breath and breathe a sigh of relief today! We got our embryo development report today and it certainly has taken a load of stress off my chest. Here is what we are working with as of today.

I'll start by explaining that today our babies should be between 6-8 cells. They are graded on a scale of 1-4 based on the amount of fragmentation there is. The more fragmentation, the worse the quality and more likely to have genetic issues. So 1 is the best quality and 4 is the worst.

We have 3 babies who are at 8 cells today with a grade of 1.5

We have 1 baby who is at 6 cells today with a grade of 1.5

We have 2 babies who are at 9 cells today with a grade of 2

We have 1 baby who is at 7 cells today with a grade of 2

We have 1 baby who is at 4 cells today with a grade of 3

Our last baby, the one with 4 cells and grade 4 will likely stop developing today. This leaves us with 7 nearly perfect babies! We are certainly feeling happy with these results today and know all your prayers are working:) We believe our golden egg is among these 7.

Immediately after getting off the phone with the clinic, I wanted to start cleaning our house and organizing things that have been driving me crazy for months. Nesting already?? I started with our laundry area and was standing on top of a kitchen chair to reach the shelves about the washer and dryer. My husband freaked out on me and took my chair away, and then I freaked out on him because he was trying to "help" me and I just wanted to do it myself. He then starts laughing at me and making fun of me and blaming the hormones. Could the Progesterone be working that quickly? Who knows...I'll let him believe that though! Sounds like a good excuse to me:)

We are now about to head off to pick up some Christmas decorations for our front porch. I actually feel like decorating this year. That's a big change for me. Normally I couldn't care less about decorating for holidays. But I'm feeling super hopeful that we are going to get our Christmas Miracle(s) so let the decorating and merriment begin!

For now we will continue to wait and hope. Our next update from the embryologist will be on Monday. By Monday about babies should be at the stage of a Morula, Blastocyst, or Hatching Blastocyst. Our transfer is still scheduled for 8:30am on Tuesday. Continue to pray for us and our babies! We hope all 7 survive until our next update on Monday!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What to expect...when waiting to be expecting??

I feel like yesterday was such a high for all of us-me, my husband, and my sister. It was so exciting to hear we were starting out with 23 eggs. We had such high hopes that a good majority of them were going to be mature enough for fertilization. We were starting out with almost half as many eggs as what we started out with during our first IVF cycle using my own eggs. Those starting numbers really do change how you feel the cycle is going to turn out in the end.

Realistically I knew a good chunk were going to be immature. But I thought today we would get a phone call saying we had somewhere between 12-15 fertilized eggs that have started divided into 2 cells. I thought that was a realistic number. After going through a failed cycle in March...I thought I knew what to realistically expect. So last night my husband and I cuddled up in bed and were excited about what today's news was going to bring to us.

This morning at 7:00am I woke up to prepare my first Progesterone injections. I prepared one for each side of my bum like the nurse told me too. While I was preparing the injections and my husband was in the shower I told him I had a really good dream last night and that the nurse emailed me a fertilization report saying there were 16 mature eggs and 15 of them fertilized. He responded "that would be awesome news to get today" and then made my bum bleed by giving me my Progesterone injections. I returned to bed and he left for work.

All morning long as I layed in bed trying to sleep I anxiously waited for the phone call from the nurse. Every time the phone rang I jumped up and was disappointed when it wasn't the fertility clinic. I fell back asleep finally and had another dream that put me in a funk. This time the the nurse told us that the majority of eggs we just a smidge too small to be considered mature so they were only able to fertilize 12 eggs. Ugh...15 to now 12. I know for many they would say 12...that's a great number! But I guess if you haven't gone through this process or haven't had a failed IVF you wouldn't understand why the high the number of fertilized eggs the better the success of the cycle will be.

Then I thought...12 is still good. I can deal with 12. It will be okay if they call and say we have 12 today. What I wasn't prepared for was the email stating out of the 23 eggs that they collected yesterday, only 11 were mature and only 8 fertilized. My stomach dropped. That's only 2 more fertilized eggs than we had when we did our last cycle.

The only way I know how to described this feeling is comparing it to a drug addict who is on a great high, and then the high starts wearing off and they become paranoid. That's where I'm at today. Paranoid. Afraid. Scared. Worried. Anxious. Or lets compare it to that ride at the amusement park where you are strapped in to a seat with your feat dangling and it gradually lifts the seats up a tall pole. The ride up is exciting, a little scary but exciting. Then when you least expect it the ride drops and your stomach is suddenly in your throat. I think it's called the Demon Drop or Power Tower at the amusement parks here in Ohio. It just feels like my stomach is sitting in my throat.

This whole IVF thing is the most un-natural experience I've ever had. I felt that way the first time too. I hate the waiting game. I hate knowing that we just created 8 babies who are sitting in an incubator in a lab and they are going to grow outside of me for the first 3-6 days of their development. I hate knowing that some are likely going to stop growing between now and our next update on Saturday. And some might stop growing between Saturday and our embryo transfer. When you are waiting to be expecting, it's like your sitting on pins and needles waiting for your next update and praying that all 8 lives you just created will survive.  You become a momma bear and want to protect your cubs but you can''s out of your control.

So I guess that's how I'm going to keep myself sane these next three days. Remind myself-it's out of my control. We've done all we can do. My sister has done amazing. She did her part. She can't control how many of her eggs that my husband's sperm fertilized. My husband did his part. He can't control how many of his sperm fertilized my sister's eggs either. It's in God's hands, and the embryologist's hands I guess. It's either going to work, or it won't. It will be what it's supposed to be. I just pray that this will work, and that it will be, and that it is supposed to be. Not just for the sake of me and my husband's emotions, but also for the sake of my sister. I don't want to feel like we failed her. I don't want her to feel that her efforts weren't good enough or that she went through all this for nothing. I want to give her a God Child, another niece or nephew, an amazing miracle that she helped us create.

Please say some extra special prayers for us and our 8 newly created embies. Please pray that they all continue to grow over the next few days and that we have two great ones we can transfer next week and even a few to freeze for our future. Please pray for our sanity and peace. Please pray that our golden egg child(ren) is in this bunch!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Happy Harvest

Today we had our donor egg retrieval...also called an egg harvest because the eggs are delicately (with a huge needle) sucked out of the ovaries to get every last one just like a farmer would plow his field of crop to get every last corn stalk, grain, bean, and whatever else farmers plant.

It has been a very long day! After minimal sleep (2-3 hours), my sister, my husband, and myself woke up around 4:15am to get ready for the most important day of our entire far. We were on the road by 4:55am to make the two hour drive to our fertility clinic. We made it to the clinic in record time, getting there almost 15 minutes earlier than we needed to be. At 6:45am we were greeted by a friendly nurse who took all of us back to the pre-op room to get my sister prepped for her surgery, the egg retrieval. Here's a few of our pictures as we all prepared to take the biggest step in our lives (obviously it was early):

I am so impressed with the staff at Bethesda Fertility Center who were involved in my sister's surgery. From the nurses who got her hooked up to her IV and got some of the medications started to the anesthesiologist who helped my sister get relaxed and fall asleep with his special "joy juice" as he called it to Dr. Hofmann who performed the retrieval.....everyone was so great and made the retrieval a huge success! It was such a different experience from my own egg retrieval back in March when we were going to a different fertility clinic. My retrieval was not under sedation, it was not done in a sterile room, it was not done by the doctor we had been working with our entire was an awful awful experience and I would have never put my sister through that so I am beyond pleased with the experience that we all had today!

While my sister was in surgery, my husband and I waited anxiously but confidently in the doctor's office lobby. Here's a few pictures of us passing the time:

While we were waiting on my sister's retrieval to be completed, Alex had read a news article about a semi-trailer accident that occurred that morning and had shut down the highway that we had to take to get to the fertility center. The highway reopened at 5:00am just after we had left our house today. At that moment I just felt like all the stars had aligned for us today and the retrieval was going to be better than we expected. For an extra bit of good luck I wore a piece of our past and a piece of our present on me (my origami owl over-the-heart necklace with two lockets-one with my angels' birthstones, angel wings, and an "in memory of" heart, and one with a cross, a "hope" charm, and a rainbow). I also wore the rainbow stripped socks that I bought just for our egg retrieval and embryo transfer, hoping they would give us the good luck that we need to conceive our Rainbow Baby. Here's my pretty socks:

Just after 8:00am Dr. Hofmann came to the lobby to get me and my husband and to give us the final count on my sister's eggs. He was able to retrieve TWENTY-THREE EGGS!!! 23!!!!!!!!! This is more than he expected to get, and definitely more than I expected he would get! A huge sense of relief and excitement and pride came over me in the moment. And then the nurse came out to say that my sister had already waken up from the anesthesia and was asking for us to come back. As we were walking out of the lobby to head down to the recovery room the nurse also said the first thing my sister said when she woke up was "I hope they are proud of me." Holy tear jerker moment! I busted in has NO IDEA how proud we are of her! Not just because they were able to get 23 eggs. I would be just as proud if they had gotten 10 eggs. But I am most proud of her for stepping up to this challenge, for being so selfless and offering to do this for us to help us create our family, for taking every last shot with commitment to this process, and for being such a huge inspiration to other people who have never had to experience infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss themselves. As I walked with my husband back to the recovery room to see my sister, I tried to contain the tears-I didn't want to make her cry. Once we got to see her I gave her a hug and kiss, and told her how many eggs they got from her (although the nurse had told her several times already lol...she kept asking and couldn't remember because of the sedation), and then I had to leave her with my husband so I could go to our other fertility doctor's office about 15 minutes away to have my uterine lining ultrasound to make sure my uterus is going to be ready to grow a baby. The good news kept lining needed to be at 7 millimeters and it was at 9 millimeters. After the ultrasound I met with the nurse to go over how to properly have my husband give me my Progesterone in Oil injections which start tomorrow morning...whoo-hooo for butt shots!! (just kidding...but #doingitforbabymonnier). Once I got back to the fertility clinic where my sister and husband were, they were ready to go. My husband gave his semen sample and got a "thumbs up" from the nurse....I guess that means it looked like a good sample?!? We got in the car and head to Bob Evans for breakfast because we were all starvin' marvin's!

Since getting home from the retrieval I have been spending time with my sister and niece. A huge shout out to our parents who took care of my sister's daughter last night and got her to and from preschool today. My niece has been ornery as ever today but only needed a few reminders not to jump all over her mommy. My sister is doing well physically, just a little crampy and some ovarian pressure which is normal after having a huge needle poking around in there.

Tomorrow we will get a call from the nurse with a fertilization report. They will let us know how many eggs out of the 23 were mature enough for fertilization and how many out of those actually fertilized. We are hoping for a number in the teens tomorrow. Then we won't get another update until Saturday when the embryologist will call us to let us know how our babies are growing in the lab. Right now the doctor is anticipating my embryo transfer to be at 8:30am on Tuesday morning next week, but this could be moved up to Monday depending on what the embryologist tells us Saturday. We plan to transfer two embryos if we can, and we would LOVE to have some other good ones we can freeze for the future. Right now we just need to be patient and pray that we continue to get good news as the week progresses. I will update tomorrow evening with the fertilization report:)

Thank you for all the amazing support and God bless all of you that are in the two week wait with us!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Countdown to Retrieval!

As I start typing today's post, I can say T-minus 39 hours until egg retrieval!!!!!

My sister's stimulation cycle has gone off without a hitch:) The last update I posted was on Friday. Her estrogen level was 625 and the doctor said she had 12-15 follicles measuring 11-13 millimeters. On Saturday my sister was feeling miserable. She had to work a double from 8am-Midnight and was feeling very bloated and moody from the hormones. In her words, she felt like she was "ready to burst." I promised her a case of Bud Light or whatever beer she wanted once this is all over, and that cheered her up of course!

Sunday morning started off with my husband cooking me and my sister breakfast before we got on the road at 8am to make the 2 hour drive to our fertility clinic to check out what was going on inside her ovaries again. He felt pretty bad for us after seeing the bruises all over my stomach from the Lovenox injections and hearing how miserable my sister felt Saturday. I think he thought it was the least he could do for us. After all...the only think he has had to do is take an antibiotic and some vitamins, and show up on Wednesday to give the lab his sperm. He's got the easy part. But it was nice of him to wake up at 7:00am on his one day off just to make us breakfast:)

The ultrasound Sunday went very well. Doctor said he is hoping to get close to 20 eggs now! Of course, he reminded me that not all 20 would be mature...but I knew that. Honestly, I was just hoping to get more than 12, more than what we started out with when we did our IVF cycle in March using my own eggs. So 20....or even more than 15....that was really awesome to hear! I got to see the ultrasound for myself and those follicles were definitely getting big in there which was great to see:) My sister's estrogen level rose from 625 on Friday to 1729 on Sunday so it almost tripled which would explain the sudden onset of feeling tired and nauseous and cranky my sister was going through over the weekend. She was a trooper though, and has held it together far better than I did when I was going through all the "hormone therapy" myself.

Last night my niece's father dropped her off at my house since I was babysitting her again and taking her to preschool today so my sister could go to her final ultrasound this morning. She was so ornery! Her giggles filled our house as she was jumping all over me and my husband and picking on us. At one point I was tickling her and she was jumping on my bed just laughing the cutest laugh ever that it made me realize how different our life would be with children and how I cannot wait for it to be different. I want our house filled with giggles and smiles. And what was even more adorable was when my niece was picking on my husband and he wrapped his arms around her and she stopped what she was doing and just layed up against him and watched the movie we had on TV (Shriek II). CUTEST.THING.EVER. He will make a great dad:) Once we got back to my sister's house my niece let me give her a bath and put on her pajamas and brush her hair and pick out her outfit for school the next day all without giving me any sash and tears like she did last Sunday. Then she fell asleep on the couch with me while watching Home Alone. Perfect ending to a perfect day!

Although today started out rough (my sister's drive to the fertility center took her almost three hours due to the snow and two accidents on the way there and on my way home after dropping my niece off at preschool my car slid as I was turning a corner and just BARELY missed the SUV coming down the road), we did get the stamp of approval from the doctor to continue as scheduled with the egg retrieval on Wednesday! They said they are still hoping to get close to 20 eggs. Most of her follicles are now 18-19 millimeters with a few smaller ones that are 16-18 millimeters. Her estrogen level today was 2033 which means she has stimulated beautifully and won't have to worry about the effects of over-stimulation! Tonight at 7:30pm my sister will take her trigger shot (this helps the follicles get ready to release the eggs) and one last shot of Follistem of 75 IU (the nurse said this is considered the "icing" to the end of the stimulation...just gives the follicles a little extra boost at the end). Then she is finally done with all her injections!! She made it!!! We need to celebrate!!!

Our next update will be on Wednesday evening once we get home from the egg retrieval and have a final count on the eggs they collected! We have to leave our house at 4:45am to have my sister in the pre-op room by 6:45am. Her retrieval will be at 7:30am. Then I have my ultrasound at 8:30am which checks my uterine lining to make sure it's ready to receive the embryo this weekend or early next week. And my husband gives his semen sample at 9:00am. By noon, the lab should be making some babies for us!!

Please say some extra prayers for us as we go into the egg retrieval! We hope this is going to bring us to our Rainbow Baby:) It is now T-minus 37 hours until egg retrieval!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Strong and Steady Growth

Today we received some wonderful, WONDERFUL news! Do I dare say that I am super hopeful that this is actually going to work for us?!?! This whole week, since Sunday evening, my sister has been taking injections to stimulate her ovaries so next week we can "suck out" her eggs and start making babies in those little petry dishes at the fertility clinic. She has been doing so great with the injections. It makes me so proud of her and it has completely relieved my anxiety about not being the one in control of how her ovaries stimulate. I've had to work on that alot...the control thing. It's no fun when you feel like you don't have any control of how something this important turns out. But I can definitely relax, and take a big deep breath, and let the happy tears roll today!

Things started off a little rocky earlier this week. My sister was supposed to get her estrodial (estrogen) level checked on Tuesday morning at a local lab. I sent her to Lab Corp in a nearby town and when she got there they told her they could not do same day results. That was a problem. Our doctor needed to know what her estrodial level was so he could dose her medication accordingly. The nice lady at Lab Corp called around different labs in the area and found one that could do same day results, but our fertility clinic felt that as late in the morning that it was, they would not get the results until the following day which would mess up the medication dosing.  They really upset my sister (could have been the hormones) when they told her she had to drive 2 hours the next morning to the clinic to get the blood work done since she was unable to get it done locally that day.  While I was hooked up to an IV getting my second Intralipid Infusion sitting on my couch watching my DVR'ed episode of The Voice, I had my sister calling me in tears and the clinic calling me in frustration.  I played referee and called a lab 30 minutes from where we live to see if they could draw my sister's blood the next morning and get the clinic the results they needed the same day so my sister didn't have to drive two hours one way just for a five minute lab draw.  Thank goodness they were able to do it and all got smoothed over with my sister and the clinic.  They just kept her on the same dose of medication one more night and waited for her results to come back on Wednesday to determine if any changes were going to be made. 

On Wednesday afternoon I got the email from our fertility clinic nurse stating my sister's estrodial was 268 and she would continue to stay on the same dose of medication.  She also informed me, based on blood work only, my sister seemed to be the best responding donor of the week! That made me feel super hopeful about her ultrasound that she was scheduled to have this morning:)  It helped me relax and made me feel like we were going to get some great news today. And great news is exactly what we got!!

Our doctor was very pleased with what he saw going on inside my sister's ovaries.  And I was very pleased to recieve the email stating that she has 12-15 follicles all growing strong and steady! They are all around 11-13 mm today which is right on target:)  Her estrodial today was 625 and the nurse said she is still the leading donor of the week! No change in her medication dosing since they seem to have her on the right dose to stimulate evenly and not cause her estrodial level to rise to fast (overstimulate).  Doctor is pretty confident that the egg retrieval will still be on Wednesday morning! I definitely cried happy tears on my way to work today. 

On Sunday I get to finally go with my sister to an ultrasound and get to see all our potential eggies for myself! I'm super excited and hope I get a picture I can take home to save so when we are explaining our child's birth story to him or her, we can show exactly where half of him or her started my sister's ovaries! Only two more nights of stimulation injections, one trigger shot, and an egg retrieval until we officially have some growing babies!

As for my part of things, I continue to do weekly acupuncture which increases to twice next week (retrieval week) and the week after (transfer week).  I have gone from 1mg Estrace twice a day to 2mg Estrace twice a day to now 2mg Estrace three times a day and will find out on Wednesday after the retrieval at my own ultrasound how my uterine lining is looking (hopefully perfect!).  I am monitoring my fasting blood sugar twice a week because being on Prednisone can elevate blood sugar which we need to avoid so we can have a healthy pregnancy.  I have not had a drop of caffeine in almost two weeks...WHOO-HOO...super proud of myself! And I got my fasting insulin rechecked to make sure it has come down since being on Metformin, which it has....and also had my heparin level checked to see if I am on a therapeutic dose of Lovenox or if we need to increase my dose.  I did that test at the wrong time of day, so my level was low and I have to get it repeated on Monday. No biggie. 

Things are falling into place and I only pray that this lucky streak continues and God continues to Bless us with the child we've been working so hard to conceive and carry and bring into our lives.  I feel incredibly blessed already, to have such a wonderful sister walking this journey with us and trying her very best to help us achieve our goal of being parents.  I feel like this picture says it all....she's not just giving us eggs...she's give us a whole new hope. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paying it Forward

From the day that my sister offered me and my husband her eggs, I have felt indebted to her. How could we possibly repay her for such an amazing opportunity and possibly the most amazing gift we will ever receive throughout our lives? In the beginning of this new journey of attempting to conceive a child through donor eggs, I had to repeatedly remind my sister that it was not as easy as she thought. The doctor can't just suck out some eggs just like that. I've said it before and I will say it again, I really thought that the process would be too much for her and she would have backed out months ago. But here we are now....2 weeks into Lupron and day one of the stimulation medication! We are only 10 days away from the doctor being able to "suck them out" as my sister refers to it!

To show our appreciation of the time, energy, and dedication that this cycle has required from my sister, we have gotten her gifts along the way. We are "paying it forward" so to speak. My sister is a busy woman. She works full time, she is a single mother, and she has her own house to take care of. She's only 23 years old. In the midst of our cycle, she has applied to return to college and has been looking at houses to buy. Not many 23 year olds are like this one. Not many people can say that they have a sister who was willing to go to such extreme measures to help them have a child.

As we prepared for this week to begin, yesterday we had a little bit of a girls day. It started off with massages and ended with lunch. I knew my sister would enjoy a massage because she is always saying her back hurts and Thursday night while sitting up until 3am chatting about her personal relationship issues, even though she had to be on the road at 6:30am for her baseline ultrasound, she mentioned how much she needed a massage. She had no idea that I already had one scheduled for her! I thought it was just a small way to show her that she deserves to be pampered and a great way to get her relaxed for the week she had ahead of her.

Today was the first of eight stimulation injections. My sister worked a double today too, what a trooper. She's a dispatcher at a police station for those that don't know. Tonight I took my sister some dinner that my husband made, helped her figure out how to mix the two medications today (we aren't quite sure if we did it right...I emailed the nurse for confirmation so she doesn't mess up on day 2 if we weren't right), watched her give herself her shot which she said burned like hell, and then gave her another gift to once again say a simple "we are so grateful." Today she got a Coach clutch I scored at 50% off back in July:) Of course she loved it, and said "it feels like Christmas! I get Christmas in October, November, and December!"  Well, that's how we wanted it to feel because, if all goes well, we could be hearing our baby's heart beating a few days before Christmas and it's really the ONLY Christmas gift that I want this year.

As a little added gift, because my sister has worked doubles the past couple of Sunday's, I've been babysitting my niece on Sunday nights for her. Typically our parents watch my niece on Sunday nights and my sister has to pick up her daughter at 12:15am, get her home, and get back up to have her daughter at pre-school by 7:45am and herself at work at 8am on Mondays. Watching her daughter at her house at least cuts out the having to pick her daughter up from our parent's house and carrying her to the car especially with it getting cold outside and my niece getting heavier and heavier. Typically my niece does pretty well with me watching her but tonight she was not having it. After her bath, she changed her pajama's three times, refused to let me brush her hair, and shut herself in her closet while she sat in a basket full of her shoes crying big crocodile tears! She did not want me, she wanted her mommy. After a 15 minute phone call with her mom where she cried the whole time, she finally agreed to eat a bedtime snack with me and fell asleep in 5 minutes. She was clearly exhausted because she's been talking in her sleep while I've been typing this! Even when my niece is being difficult, it makes me want these nights so badly with children of my own. I can't wait to give baths and pick out pajamas and wipe away tears and eat bedtime snacks and tuck my children into bed!

Here's to hoping that dream comes true soon! Our next update will either be on Tuesday after my sister's blood work or Friday after her first ultrasound to see how many follicles have started to stimulate! Until then, she will continue to give herself 10 units of Lupron every morning and her stimulation injection in the evening (Follistim + Menopur).  She will continue to open one gift every day after both injections have been done for the day just to keep her motivated and knowing that we truly are thankful for her and what she is doing for us,  I will continue to take 10 units of Lupron every morning too along with my Lovenox injection, and starting tomorrow I double my dose of Estrace to keep working on plumping up my uterine lining to get ready for Baby Monnier to come on home to mommy! Stay tuned, and if you have someone as special in your life as I have in mine-remember to pay it forward!