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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Follow your Intuition, Always


A woman knows by intuition, or instinct, what is best for herself.
-Marilyn Monroe

Since January 2013 I have had an overwhelming gut feeling that my doctors are wrong. That my babies did not die because they had Down Syndrome. That something else was the cause to their death. That my own body was a baby killer. That I have an un-diagnosed disease that is to blame. That there HAS TO BE another explanation.

I gave my doctors the benefit of the doubt. All my blood work came back normal. Except my TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) was on the high side of normal and my progesterone was on the low side of normal-both things we can correct with some Synthroid and Progesterone supplements. There really was not other explanation-it was the translocated chromosome that continued to cause our babies to have genetic problems and subsequently die before ever being given the opportunity to be born. So we tried to do something about that..we were tired of getting pregnant with babies that were just going to die and cause us continued emotional pain. We followed our doctors recommendations, against all moral values, and attempted IVF with pre-implantation genetic testing. And that failed to even get us pregnant.

What options are we left with? My eggs suck, apparently. They carry genetic disorders. Some that are absolutely deadly-monosomy 13, monosomy 21, and trisomy 13, and some that are "usually" deadly-Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). Not only do they carry these genetic disorders, but we found out during my IVF that I create many immature eggs that aren't suitable for fertilization. We don't want to waste any more time or money on my eggs-so the solution? Let's use my sisters. She's young and fertile and doesn't carry the translocation and has a healthy child-all great signs that this could be our ticket to having a family.

Yet my inner voice says, that's just a start. That's not my only issue. That could get me pregnant with a beautifully healthy baby, but is my body going to nourish and be able to carry that baby to live birth? Every doctor that I've spoken to tells me yes. But something tells me no. Something tells me this storm is never going to end unless I seek the answers to this voice inside me.


So I did just that. I learned about Dr. Braverman in New York from a fellow recurrent loss mom in one of my online support groups. I did my research on him-he specializes in recurrent pregnancy loss and recurrent failed infertility treatments. He finds answers for women that other doctors don't. We had our testing done in May and we finally got our results yesterday. Every review I read about him was correct-our appointment started an hour and a half late. And he was dressed like a bum with holes in his jeans and a regular Joe off the street shirt. But I am so very glad to have had his testing completed and to have gotten a second opinion from him because now I know my intuition was absolutely correct.

Here are Dr. Braverman's opinions:

#1-My fasting insulin level is too high. Interesting. Kettering Reproductive and Ohio Reproductive had no problem with my level being 17.3 in January before we began our IVF cycle. Yet I found out from a friend who was also going to Kettering Reproductive for IUI treatments that they told her they wanted her insulin level to be below 10. So why wouldn't they want mine before 10 too? That doesn't make any sense. I asked my new doctor about this just 2 weeks ago and he didn't seem concerned either. He did retest me though and my level came back this time at 20. 7. While this is within normal range...this is the very high end of normal, and just like my TSH was at the very high end of normal-this needs to be treated and needs to come down before we attempt another pregnancy. According to Dr. Braverman-he believes I have polycystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS) due to my high Insulin level and the large amount of follicles in my ovaries. He explained that the high insulin levels would cause my ovaries to produce lots of eggs, but lots of very bad quality eggs. He said women with high insulin levels are at risk of hyperstimulation during IVF cycles. Having high Insulin levels and PCOS causes miscarriages too.

The interesting part is two-fold. I've had concerns that maybe, just maybe I have PCOS. It's been a fleeting thought though. One that crossed my mind for a quick second and then I said nah...I can get pregnant too easily and no doctor ever mentioned any cysts on my ovaries or have ever mentioned this as a possibility. But I have a few symptoms-30 lb weight gain in 2 years...but that's just depression and stress and not working out I tell myself. My cycle has been weird the past 2 years...it was ALWAYS every 28 days but since July 2012 it's varied anywhere between 25-38 days and I didn't really have an explanation for this other than-but it's not affecting me from ovulating or getting pregnant. Then my insulin level coming back high normal-and doctors being concerned about this for other women but not me was just strange.

The good news is-we can treat this issue very easily. Dr. Braverman wants me on Metformin to lower my insulin level before and during pregnancy. Easy peasy-just a pill every day. I can do that. He is checking my Anti-mullerian hormone again to see if I do have PCOS or just the metabolism of someone who would have PCOS. I should hear something soon on that.

#2-I have resistant blood flow to my uterus. Wow. I have NEVER had a color flow doppler ultrasound completed before Dr. Braverman did one. He said the blood flow in my ovaries is great...uterus, not so great. Since it is not so great, when I'm pregnant, the babies are not getting an adequate supply of blood from me. This will kill them. Without blood, they cannot survive. Why is my blood not flowing well to my uterus? We don't know. Dr. Braverman suspects endometriosis. He recommends that I have a laproscopy to confirm or deny this suspicion. He also found scaring in my pelvic muscle and he is not sure why that is there because I've never had abdominal surgeries and my D&C's should not have caused scaring into my muscles.

So how do we increase this blood flow? I've already been taking Asprin and that isn't helping. I will be on Lovenox since I have a risk of blood clotting with having Homocystinuria and that will thin my blood out. But this isn't enough. I've done both those medications during my previous two pregnancies too. There are other injections Dr. Braverman would put me on-he just isn't sure which one yet. I will be talking to my OBGYN about getting a laproscopy scheduled now. I brought it up to her back in May and she didn't think it was necessary and didn't think I had any signs of Endometriosis. But I'm going to push the issue now. Why not? We've already met our deductible and everything I do now within the Kettering Health Network is paid at 100% so now is the time to get it done. If I have it, and we clean it out, it could help my blood flow and improve my progesterone level so its a win-win. Yea, it's surgery and I will be off work a day or two-but I'm not messing around this time. If Dr. Braverman thinks its necessary-then I'm doing it.

#3-I have too many T-regulatory cells. Essentially, this means my body naturally feels like it has to constantly fight off infections and invaders. This is only heightened when I am pregnant. These cells believe babies are an outside invader that needs to be rid of. Basically, as I suspected-my body is attacking and killing our babies. With every pregnancy, the t-regulatory cells become more activated and increase in number. According to Dr. Braverman-this will cause earlier losses with each pregnancy. This makes complete sense. Especially within the past year 2 years. With Logan, I miscarried at between 9 & 11 weeks. With Audrey, I miscarried between 4 & 6 weeks. With our IVF embie, it never had a chance to implant.

If we don't treat this issue-there is a VERY high chance I will miscarry again. The treatment is not cheap and requires a couple different injections-some that have to be given by home care nurses. I will do whatever it takes to get my body to the point of accepting a baby as a blessing and allowing me to grow our baby to birth.

#4-I have genes that predispose me to several autoimmune diseases. The most likely disease that I could have is Celiac Disease. The treatment is simple. Or so it seems. I will be attempting a gluten free diet. Hopefully by decreasing or eliminating gluten, I will feel better overall and will not have as many joint pains or abdominal bloating. Hopefully it will also allow my body to stop attacking itself. Recently I started suspecting that maybe I had Celiac Disease-I don't really know why but it's been on my mind. We don't know that I HAVE it-we just know I have a gene that can cause it. And I know if I have a gene that can cause it-somehow I will get it. It never fails.

The biggest thing that really sucks is that I already can't eat much protein. I eat a lot of carbs and a lot of food that has gluten. Which, by the way, I think is what has caused the high insulin level and possible PCOS. The diet for PCOS is low carb, high protein. So I feel like I'm screwed all around. What can I eat? When my diet gets restricted like this I end up giving up and eating whatever I feel like honestly. I haven't been complying very well with my low protein diet or my medication for my Homocystinuria lately because I just get so sick of eating the same things and drinking nasty tasting food supplements. Ugh...I have GOT TO get back on track with all this. I have to do it for our rainbow baby. I will start kicking it in gear on Monday, after my friend's wedding. After all, I can't give up drinking beer before her wedding, right?!?

Whats next? I need to email Dr. Braverman with the contact info for my fertility doctor here in Ohio. They need to talk about my test results and my doctor here in Ohio needs to agree with the treatment plan Dr. Braverman puts together. My doctor in Ohio has to be the one who orders all the medication for me. I need to call my OBGYN and get a laproscopy scheduled. Dr. Braverman has ordered a DNA fragmentation test on my husbands semen which he's going to complete next week. Although our fertility clinic thinks 3% normal sperm morphology is okay, Dr. Braverman is not in agreement with that. He wants to make sure there isn't a lot of fragmentation in the sperm because fragmentation can lead to genetic problems and poor embryo development. My husband may be getting prescribed Clomid to increase his morphology depending on the results of this test. And he is actually willing to take it if he needs to. He finally understands he has a very important part in creating a child for us and we need to do everything we can to make sure we get healthy babies.

Alright-enough of my results. Want to know how our trip to New York went? Here's the down low-China Town is crazy with street vendors EVERYWHERE. It was a little scary the first time we walked down the street. We figured out quickly the other side of the street had way fewer street vendors so we walked on that side the rest of the time. Little Italy has a very cool feel. The streets are blocked off so you can walk in the middle of the streets and there is restaurant after restaurant. Not impressed with the food from De Gennerro though. However, the gelato-A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I got the salt and carmel flavor and it was to die for:) The Statue of Liberty is pretty neat to see in person, but it looks the same as it does on television. Ellis Island had way too much history that it got boring after awhile. It is very interesting though how our ancestors came to America. The 9-11 memorial is pretty. We only saw the fountain at ground zero and didn't go into the memorial museum. Central Park is huge but you really don't need to rent bikes to see it all. We spent more time walking our bikes then riding them because you can't ride them on the walk-ways to see the monuments or features throughout the park. The Metropolitan Art Museum was a snoozer for me, except the African art section with all the Mayan costumes and totem poles. Times Square is crazy. The amount of people walking around on a Monday evening was unreal. It was packed like sardines. The stores are the same as the ones in the malls around here-H&M, American Eagle, Aeropostale. Except the prices were surprisingly cheap. Alcohol is overpriced everywhere you go throughout New York. A 6 pk of beer at the convenience store next to our hotel was $17. The food was okay-not great. The best thing we had was crab and spinach dip at Langen's Irish Pub in the Times Square area. We got dessert at Cake Boss Cafe which was the longest wait ever but totally worth the delicious carrot cake and strawberry shortcake we got. The subway system is confusing at first, but as long as you carry that subway map with you at all times and aren't afraid to ask people for help-you'll figure it out pretty quickly. The train station was byfar the most challenging. They have dozens of tracks your train could be on and don't post your track number until 5-10 minutes before departure so its a mad rush to get to the train before it leaves. There is construction on every street it seems throughout the city. My absolute favorite thing about New York was the street performers. Those people know how to hustle to get some money, but they are entertaining. OH, and The Stand in Gramercy Park was a cool place to spend and evening between their delicious Moscoto and funny comedians. Would I go back to New York? Honestly, probably not. It was a neat experience but we prefer the mountains or the beach.

Overall moral of today's post: 







Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When You Love a Child that Has Not been Created Yet


I read an article the other week on Still Standing Magazine about the grief of a mother who has lost their child years ago. The article talked about grieving mothers having good days and bad days, happy memories and unbearable gut wrenching memories, moments of hope and moments of intense fear-no matter how long along the mother's child died. It talked about the stereotype, that if the mother is having a good day others may believe she is over the loss of her child, or if she is having a bad day that she should be over it "by now." It talked about the emotional triggers that come from left field unexpectedly and uninvitingly. Everything this article spoke about, I not only agree with but have lived through myself.

When you lose a baby your world is never the same;it has a hole in it that can never be filled. But when you lose multiple babies, your world is shattered into a million pieces and you are left figuring out how the pieces are supposed to fit back together-yet they never will.

I look at what my husband and I have been through-the death of our stillborn daughter and burying out first child, a miscarriage at 7 weeks, a miscarriage at 11 weeks that resulted in a D&C, and a miscarriage at 5 weeks discovered at 8 weeks that resulted in 4 more weeks of my body trying to release the baby that ended in a second D&C. I consider the fact that I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease that caused the lenses in my eyes to detach and resulted in 5 major eye surgeries in one year and forced me to change my diet since protein was silently killing my body. I recognize the measures we have taken to try to have a baby after we learned the culprit of our babies deaths was my very own DNA since two of my chromosomes are attached and have caused our babies to have an extra chromosome-an IVF with PGD cycle and now an egg donor IVF cycle. I live everyday with the reminder of amount of financial debt we are drowning in, living off credit cards and merely making it paycheck to paycheck still paying on procedures we had done last year. We have survived all of this, some days I don't know how, but most days I think rather well.

I have my moments though. Moments of gut wrenching memories. Moments of feeling hopeless. Moments of questioning every step we take. Moments of wanting to throw in the towel. Moments of intense fear that I can't shake. Last night I had a moment, and today I had another moment.

Last night I was watching The Foster's which has become one of my favorite television series of all time. I was sitting on the couch in my shorts and bra with my hair drenched in hair dye waiting on the dye to process so I could rinse it out. I knew based on the previews of last nights episode something was going to happen to Lena's baby, I just didn't know what. I knew it was going to be a hard episode for me to watch. I just didn't expect that I would be hyperventilating with huge crocodile tears streaming down my face. I didn't expect to feel the rawness of the pain that I felt 6 years ago when we were told Riley had died inside me and I would have to deliver her at only 24 weeks into my pregnancy. I didn't expect to feel such deep heartache when Lena's own mother walked into the hospital room and wrapped her arms around Lena or to remember what it felt like to have my mother, father, and sisters rush to the hospital after they learned that Riley had died and embrace me with their hugs once they got there. I didn't expect to feel like I was the one on the television show losing my baby. I didn't expect to be overwhelmed with fear that anything could happen that could kill my future baby too.

Maybe for the first time last night I realized I love a child that hasn't even been created yet and won't even be created by me.

Only couples who have been through fertility treatments would understand what that feels like. It's not like when other couples make the decision to start trying to conceive a baby-I've been there too...even after losing 2 babies I can't say that when we were trying for our third or even fourth baby that I loved them before they were ever created. I loved them from the moment that I knew they were there, and I will now love them for the rest of my life on Earth and in Heaven. But never before the positive pregnancy test did I have a love for my children. Maybe that's because I didn't have a timeline in my head of when they were going to be created or come into existence...when it happens, it happens. When we had our first IVF with pre-implantation genetic testing cycle...I can say that I definitely envisioned the cycle working for us and at times felt am immense hope that our forever rainbow baby was going to come as a result of our cycle. I saw myself delivering a healthy screaming baby and my sister in the delivery room with me just as I was with her when she delivered my niece. Once we had our egg retrieval it felt like those dreams started fading with every day that passed. I tried my hardest not to remain attached to our little embies because I didn't want to feel the sting when my face fell flat on the pavement from tripping over my dreams. But I still felt it when the one embie we transferred evaporated into my body and didn't continue to develop into our beautiful rainbow baby.

When we decided our next step along this crazy emotional journey was going to be an egg donor IVF cycle, I was very apprehensive. Could I really love a child that I didn't create? Could I bond with a child that I'm carrying even though I know that this child isn't biologically mine? Will I be resentful towards a child that came to exist because my own children died? How would I handle it if this child grew up and got angry at me and told me I wasn't his or her "real" mother? Is it going to be awkward raising a child that has an aunt as its biological mother? There are times when I thought I couldn't do it, that I couldn't create room in my heart for any child that I didn't create. I prayed on it though, and I began reading a blog by another Baby Quest Foundation grant recipient who has been in these shoes I'm wearing. She's had a failed IVF cycle using her own eggs, then they tried an egg donor IVF cycle using her sisters eggs. When that cycle also failed to work for them, they decided to adopt a frozen embryo that neither her or her husband created with their own genetics. Reading Maya's blog helped me to accept that we very well may be having a baby that was not created from my genetic material but grown inside my womb. It helped to realize that I could love a baby that is created from my husband's and sister's combined DNA. It helped me to be at peace with our decision to try an egg donor cycle.

Watching last night's episode of The Foster's brought my love to life for this baby that has not been created yet. I started fearing all the possible things that could go wrong once I'm carrying that baby. I'm not oblivious to the fact that babies die even when they have all 46 normal chromosomes. They die because organs fail to develop properly. They die because of blood clots. They die because of infections. They die because of cord accidents. They die from pre-term labor. They even die for no reason at all. There are hundreds or reasons babies die before they are ever born, and it scares the shit out of me to be completely honest. I LOVE this baby that will be created in November and I want to give birth to this baby in July. I want to rock this baby to sleep and sing this baby lullaby's. I want to change dirty diapers and wake up a million times a night to breast feed. I want take naps on the couch on Sundays as a family with my husband, our cat, and our baby. I want to take walks on summer afternoons while I'm on maternity leave. I want to have a home filled with baby items and I want to decorate a nursery. I want to take family pictures. I want my husband to be Santa Claus every Christmas until our child figures out the secret. I want my life to revolve around my family and less around my job. I want to teach my baby how to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and talk. I want our Saturday nights to consist of Disney Movies. I want this baby just as much as I wanted all the ones that were created before him or her.

After all the fear that came upon me last night, today almost took away the complete possibility of this child even being created...and I lost it. The nurse at the fertility clinic informed me the psychologist me, my husband, and my sister met with last week could not "recommend" my sister to be an egg donor. What?!? You mean to tell me a psychologist gets to decide the fate of our future? According to the nurse the psychologist thought my sister was "pleasant and appropriate." But that stupid 600 question test that my sister had to take before she got to talk to the psychologist apparently thought my sister was not being 100% honest with her answers since they asked the same questions a million different ways and she answered the questions differently each time. Ok...so what? This is my sister we are talking about...I think I know her better than some test that was confusing and annoying to her. Don't we have the right to waive the results? Apparently we don't, but the fertility doctor does. For 2.5 hours I sat at work fearing that the doctor might not waive the results...that our journey to have a child would be over or that we would have to figure out what our next step would be even though we aren't ready to look at any other options right now. I locked myself in the bathroom and let out some disgusting sounding crys and had to gasp for my breath a couple times. I felt myself getting angry again-"why God is this always happening...why are our plans always falling apart...why can't we have a child...why do we have to do through this pain?" Then the phone rang as I'm sitting on the toilet locked inside the stall texting my friend asking for prayers. It was the nurse. She called to say Dr. Hofmann waived the psychological test results and will allow us to keep my sister as a donor because he knows how daunting the test is and how tricky the test can be. The nurse said, "ultimately Dr. Hofmann wants you and your husband kissing baby cheeks." I lost it again. That's all I want too.

So hear we are. Still moving forward with this egg donor cycle-thank you Lord. My husband's semen analysis came back drastically improved from taking his vitamins. We wouldn't even need to do ICSI let alone IMSI if we didn't want to spend the extra $1500. But, we are going to spend the extra money because I want to do everything we can to make sure we get as many fertilized eggs as possible and to prevent freak of nature things from happening like two sperms fertilizing the same egg (yes, it's happened before). We leave for New York on Saturday and meeting with Dr. Braverman on Tuesday morning to go over our immunological testing results. I am praying these results are going to give us continued peace and that nothing too severe was discovered from the testing that could prevent me from ever carrying a baby to term.

Please pray for safe travels as we brave the NY traffic and pray for our continued peace along this journey to parenthood.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Creating Life is Amazing, Any Way You Do It

I got home from work last night at 12:30am. After four hours of sleep my alarm clock began ringing telling me it was time to wake up for a very long day of appointments and then working my eight hour shift in the hospital. My sister had to drop off her very grumpy 4-year old at daycare at 6:30am to join us for the morning spent in Cincinnati. We could have no coffee, or in my case-sugary beverages like a capachino or mocha-and we could have no food before any of our appointments. We had to be fasting for one of our blood tests. At almost 7:00pm, I don't know how I am going to make it another 5 hours before I get to lay my head down on my pillow!

Despite my pure exhaustion, we got a lot accomplished today and I am very happy we are a few steps closer to making some babies.

Our first appointment for the day was with the psychologist to knock our our psychological assessments. While Alex and I met with the psychologist to share where we have been and we are going on our journey, my poor sister had to take a nearly 600 question psychological evaluation. Why? Because apparently this is the federal government's way of ensuring a psychopath does not become an egg donor. I think about a fourth of the way through my sister wanted to shoot herself in the head to be honest! I knew this appointment was going to be annoying for her, so I wanted to show her our appreciation for taking the time out of her day she could have slept in or used to spend more time with her daughter. Before we went into the building I gave her a card with a heartfelt message and a gift certificate to local boutique store hoping she could treat herself to something cute on us. I got a voicemail a few hours ago from her thanking me for it...so I think it helped her to know we aren't taking advantage of her kindness and appreciate more than we can really express.

We knew we would be discussing with the psychologist our plans for raising our children that were created from my sisters eggs. As a social worker there are certain things that I am absolutely positive about from experience working with children in the foster care system and children who have been adopted at birth. I believe EVERY child wants to know where they came from-good, bad, or ugly. I believe in being honest about where children come from because they will find out on their own if their parents do not tell them and that could create a boat load of anger towards the parents they were not prepared to deal with. So long story short...Alex and I agree 100% that if we conceive and give birth to a baby that is created with my sisters eggs, our child(ren) will be told about their very special creation. They will be told that their Aunt Ashley loved us so much that she wanted to help us have a family. They will be told that I am their birth mother, and she is their biological mother, or mother by DNA. They will be told about their siblings in Heaven who were created before them. They will be told that their cousin Raegan is their most special cousin of all, because they are half-siblings. Do we know exactly how or when all of this information will come out? Not at all. Most likely in bits and pieces and whatever is appropriate for their developmental age. The really cool thing is that we found out today there are children's books that we could purchase to explain to our children the very special way they were created with so much love through egg donation. Aunt Ashley will be the coolest Aunt of all...I'm sure of that:)

Following our appointment with the psychologist, we took a hop-skip-and a jump over to the fertility clinic to meet with Dr. Hofmann and his staff. First up on the agenda-Alex's semen analysis. We won't know the results until Friday most likely. Hopefully those vitamins he's been taking has helped. Second item to tackle-signing consent forms that indicate our wishes for our embryos in several different scenarios. The scenarios included: death of one partner, death of both partners, divorce, termination of IVF treatment, and failure to pay embryo storage fees. Our options for each of these included donating the embryos to a specific person, donating the embryos to the clinic for anonymous embryo adoption, and destroying the embryos. These questions really showed us how much we truly value to creation of life, even before a heartbeat ever develops. In none of the scenarios did we choose to destroy the embryos. Why would we waste such a gift? Why would we not offer these tiny miracles to someone else who would love them just as much as we would love them? If we are fortunate enough to have an excessive amount of embryos that we do not need because either our family is complete or because we are both dead, I pray to God that we can provide another couple with the gift of life through our donated embies.

Once our consents were completed, we had our blood drawn (for the 164 thousandth time for me) and gave our urine sample to finish up our medical screening that is required before we start our IVF cycle. Then Alex left and he and Ashley headed back to Minster so he could go to work and she could pick up her daughter from daycare. I stayed and met with the embryologist and financial coordinator to finish up the morning appointments we had scheduled. The embryologist was absolutely AMAZING!! He spent a lot of time showing me videos of how he selects the good sperm from the semen sample and injecting them into the eggs. Then he showed me the latest and greatest technology called IMSI (Intra-cytoplasmic morphologically selected injection). Technology is absolutely amazing...seriously, a computer program that magnifies sperm by 800 and tells the embryologist which sperm are the very best to select based on the size of their heads, shape of their necks, and amount of tails? It was pretty fascinating to see this. This procedure reduces the miscarriage rate by improving the quality of sperm that are selected to fertilize the eggs. I don't know if we are going to have to do this procedure or not-but its good to know that if we need it, it's available at the clinic we have chosen to go to. He also showed me videos of how his lab does the pre-implantation genetic screening biopsies on blastocyst stage embryos and videos of embryos developing by cell division. I am stoked that this clinic and lab takes pictures of their patients embryos before they transfer them-one more thing we can use to show our babies how they were created!

The creation of life is absolutely an amazing process. It is a beautiful symbol of love. No matter how you create your family, remember-any way you do it is beautifully amazing!

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Protocol that Works

My test cycle has officially come to an end...and I am so happy to say, IT WORKED! For the past two months my doctors have had me on the exact same medication that I will be on when we do our actually Egg Donor IVF cycle.

June 1st-June 19th: Birth control pills

June 11th-July 6th: Lupron injections

June 23rd-July 9th: Estrace pills (estrogen) with increasing dose every 4-5 days

Today I had my ultrasound to see how my uterus responded to this medication protocol. The goal was to get my uterine lining about 7 cm because in order for a baby to implant this is what the lining needs to be. Today my uterine lining measured 10 cm which is amazingly awesome! In my doctor's and nurse's words today, my uterus is "beautiful, retroverted or not." Of course with it being retroverted (tilted back like it always is), the resident didn't know where to find it but once it was found, it was all good:)

When we do our actual Egg Donor IVF cycle, I will have an ultrasound to check my lining just like I did today. The ultrasound will be on the day of my sister's egg retrieval, and if I respond the same way to the medication then as I did this time, the changes of an embryo implanting when we transfer on day 3 or 5 will be very high! This is very uplifting to hear.

The only concerns that I have about our Egg Donor IVF cycle not working is my Progesterone level and any other medical condition that may cause a miscarriage or stillbirth, like my Homocystinuria. But I am more than confident in the clinic that I am going to that we are going to get these issues figured out and will have a good treatment plan together before we start the IVF cycle. They listen to my concerns, which shows me right there they care and they are going to do everything they can to make this work. We find out the result of the testing that we had done with Dr. Braverman in New York at the end of this month and Dr. Hofmann at Bethesda Fertility Center where we are going for our treatment is more than willing to work with Dr. Braverman if there are any significant findings that we should treat to increase the potential for a successful pregnancy and happy, healthy baby. The nurse today told me they would be happy to check my progesterone level a few days after the embryo transfer to see if we need to increase my dose or supplement with another form of progesterone, which is very relieving so we aren't waiting until pregnancy test day to find out my progesterone is too low to maintain a baby. I am super pleased with my medical team and very confident that this is the right place for us!

Adding to why I love Bethesda Fertility Clinic so much, while I was sitting in the lobby waiting to be called back for my ultrasound, they had either K-Love or Air-1 radio on with christian rock music, my favorite music of all. It was very calming for me, and has always been my go-to music whenever I need to feel a calm or peace, or need to feel a sign that things are going to be okay. Dr. Hofmann walked out to the lobby to grab something for another patient and cheerfully greeted me and said as he was walking back into the office area, "I think I just saw angels, but I could be wrong." It was just me sitting in the lobby at that time...so either he was be super complimentary of me or my angel babies were there with me today! Either way, it was a peaceful beginning to my appointment today:)

So now I finish up my Estrace prescription, stop the injections, start the Provera, and in a few days will start my new menstrual cycle. I will be hormone free until October, which will be nice. Tomorrow I meet with an attorney to discuss the contract we need to have typed up and signed by me, my husband, and my sister so we should have all the legal stuff out of the way by the end of this month. And next week we go to Cincinnati to complete our psychological testing, my husband's sperm analysis, and will sign all the consents to get this party started! My sister's medical clearance testing should be the end of August, and after that...we are good to go! October will be here before we know it:)