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Monday, September 29, 2014

A Different kind of 2WW

A 2WW is the 2 weeks of waiting between the day of ovulation and the day of expected period. It can also be the 2 weeks between the egg retrieval day and pregnancy test day. In the trying to conceive world, these 2 weeks can be torture-especially when trying to conceive for multiple years. All you want is to be able to finally see those two pink lines on a pregnancy test or to hear from your doctor that you are finally expecting your miracle.

I'm in a different kind of 2WW right now. I started my period yesterday which means I get to start my birth control tomorrow for our Egg Donor IVF cycle. I won't know anything more about our treatment plan until my sister starts her period, which is exactly 2 weeks away-hence the 2WW! While there is not as much riding on this 2WW and no pregnancy test to be taken at the end of it, I am a bit nervous to see how this cycle is going to go once my sister starts her period and is expected to start hormone injections and has blood work and ultrasounds every 2-3 days. I don't really know how to feel right now. I am not overly confident that this will work for us like I have been in the past about other pregnancies and fertility treatments. I am not overly scared that this will fail for us either. I think I just have a more realistic sense that this might work or it might not work.

I know what I have control over and what I do not. I have control over myself. I have control over being compliant with my own medications and advocating for medication changes when I feel it's necessary. I have control over what I eat and drink. I have control over what I do to help make the embryo transfer successful. I don't have control over my sister remembering to take her pre-natal vitamins and injections every day. I don't have control over when the egg retrieval will be. I don't have control over how many eggs my sisters ovaries will stimulate or how many eggs the doctor will get for us or how many eggs will be mature enough for fertilization. I don't have control over my husband remembering to take his vitamins before he goes to bed, mostly because I'm not home when he goes to bed or I would be hounding him with reminders. I don't have control over rather or not my husband drinks on bowling league nights since I'm at work and not with him. I don't have control over how many eggs will get fertilized with my husband's sperm or how good of quality the sperm will be. I do have control over rather or not we do ICSI-which reminds me I need to tell the clinic we WILL do ICSI to be on the safe side. I don't have any control over how well the embryos will grow or how many will make it to day 5 and will either be able to be transferred or frozen. And I don't have any control over rather or not I end up pregnant after all this. All I can do is try the things that I have learned help increase the success of implantation-acupuncture, aspirin, lovenox, prednisone, Intralipids,and eat plenty pineapple core...all of which we did not do last time around. Any other suggestions on what to do would be much appreciated. In this situation where I have little control, the more I feel like I have some control the better.

Speaking of control-there are a lot of opinions on what my sister is doing for us by donating her eggs to us. There are people who have tried and are trying to talk her out of it because they think it is "wrong" or "weird." All I really have to say is that if this is not God's plan for us-it won't work for us. If it does work for us, then obviously God has allowed it to work and it's not "wrong" or "weird," its beautiful. This is not an ideal situation for any of us. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would carry a baby who was not made directly from my own DNA. Never in a million years would my husband have thought that he could be creating a baby with another woman just so I could have the chance to carry that child inside me and he could have a chance at having a biological child. Never in a million years would my sister have thought she would have to do something so intimate as donating her eggs for any of her siblings. All three of us have struggled with the uncomfortable feelings surrounding our decision and have thought about the implications on our personal lives, our marriage/relationships, and our children's lives. We have talked to each other openly about how we feel, and understanding how the other person feels has helped us all to think differently and become more considerate of each other. This decision impacts the three of us and our children more than it impacts anyone else, and the three of us are content with our decision to see where this adventure could take us. So those of you who think, believe, and feel differently...I will just pray for you that God opens up your eyes to see this as a beautiful gift of love and sacrifice and not as a sick and twisted way of having children. As long as the three of us always respect each others roles involved in the process and in raising our children-we won't have any problems with one another. We would all appreciate a drama free cycle and drama free life if this does work out for us. I personally believe the world would be a better place and couples would not feel as lonely with their infertility struggles if more people had a sibling like Alex and I have. If you have the ability to donate eggs or sperm to a sibling going through infertility-why not? It's the single most greatest act of kindness and love that you could do.

If you are supportive of us, stay tuned for more updates as we make our way through this first 2WW!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Toast to The Journey!

So many times throughout this Egg Donor IVF process I've worried that the wheels on the bus that has kept us moving forward were going to some how go flat or fall off. I can't believe we started this process back in May and its almost October now. There have been times along the way that I thought my sister would unscrew the wheels to the bus herself and would run as fast as she could away before I could tackle her to ask for the wheels back. In other words, I didn't know if this was REALLY going to happen for us or not.

But today....my sister completed her LAST screening appointment before we can truly begin our Egg Donor Cycle! She met with the fertility doctor to complete a physical, and I think a family medical history questionnaire-I'm not sure about that part, and some more blood work. And then we met with the IVF nurse coordinator to go over a rough schedule for our cycle. Holy crap-$h!+ just got Real! We are Finally, Finally, Finally...did I say Finally? Done with all the preapproval, precycle testing and paperwork!! And the Angels sang Hallelujah!!!

What do we do now? We wait. We wait for Aunt Flo to pay me a visit so I can start my birth control pills. I expect her to knock on my door next weekend and I will gladly invite her in for a few days. Then we wait some more for Aunt Flo to travel on down to my sisters house...which should occur around October 12th, and then my sister can restart her birth control three days later. We will both be started on Lupron injections to keep our ovaries quiet sometime in October. I have no clue when I will start my Lupron, but my sister should start hers around the last weekend in October. We don't have any more appointments with the fertility doctors until the end of October. That's when my sister has to go back, repeat the physical and blood work she had done today and learn how to give herself injections.

I know she is terrified about the injections. I think everybody is until they do a few of them. Then they realize they aren't terrible, especially if it's only for a short time. Every appointment that she has taken the time our of her busy schedule to accommodate for us and for our cycle, I've given her small gifts to show her how much we appreciate what she is doing for us. I hope that is making this process a little easier for her. Today she got two new scarfs to dress up her outfits with. Her next appointment she will get an extra special gift to let her know she is the best sister a girl could ask for:)

Stay tuned as the wheels on the bus keep turning and moving us forward! For right now, let's make a toast to the journey so far-May the days ahead be brighter and full of sunlight, and may the dark clouds that have been hovering over us the past two years be casted away with an arising Rainbow!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

There's Hope in Front of Me

Two day's ago I wrote about how my faith is what gets me through the storms I've been through within the past six years. I had one person comment on Facebook that she's glad that faith "always works out" for me but felt the need to tell me she is an Atheist. My response was that faith doesn't always work everything out for me, because if it did I would not be doing fertility treatments and would not have lost even one baby let alone four. I also simply told her everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. She then felt she should respond by saying "exactly, that's why I don't post anything in this group about Atheism."

I don't know why I always feel like I need to explain myself to people. I shouldn't. But I do. I don't like upsetting anyone honestly, and don't want people to think I'm a know it all or preaching to them. So I want to make it clear that what I write, what I share-it has nothing to do what what I want people to believe and it certainly is not to preach to them. Our experiences in life shape us into the person we are. We get our beliefs from our up-bringing from our parents/family and then we change our beliefs along the way as we grow into adults and experience different situations in life. People who are Christians, or who are spiritual in any way, are not people who have perfect lives where nothing bad has ever happened to them. And they are also not people who have never questioned God's intentions or abilities. I question them...all the time. I am far from the person who goes to church every weekend. I've been angry with God. Sometimes I wanted to believe there was no such thing as a God. Sometimes I've felt like my daughter is just dead in the ground and I would never see her again because there really is no Heaven. These moments of anger and questioning though, for some reason, they don't last long for me and I am always brought back to a position where I can see life for what it has been and what possibilities are in my future. This is my own personal experience, not yours, so I don't expect you to feel the same way as I do.

For those of you that commented with things like "I needed this tonight," I am happy you felt a connection with what I wrote. If any of my posts inspire or help just one person, I feel like I'm doing what I was called to do with this blog.

OK-so now that that's out of the way....I can write about my appointment with my "NEW" Doctor today. I met with Dr. Thie who is the physician that partners with my fertility clinic and who was willing to take over my care and work with Dr. Braverman in New York to ensure that I could get the immunological treatment that Dr. Braverman is recommending. The appointment went rather well I think. We went over my history with recurrent pregnancy loss and failed IVF w/PGD. We discussed the upcoming Egg Donor cycle and how we would manage all of my medical issues that we are aware of at this point.

I feel good after talking with Dr. Thie. She was very nice and seemed to understand how important it is to us to make sure we have done everything possible to make this cycle work for us. She has yet to consult with Dr. Braverman but will be doing so within the next week. She was okay with ordering the medication that I informed her that he told me he wanted me on, but she will check with him regarding the dosing and how often blood work will need to be ordered. Her nurse checked with the hospital where they have sent people for IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) therapy to see if they would be able to do the Intralipid infusions that I would be on. They said they have not done those infusions before but believe they would be able to order the supplies and do the infusions for me, which would be more convenient than driving an hour and half out of my way to another part of the state where I thought I would need to go for them. So we will see how that all gets worked out. My first infusion would be in November, two weeks before our embryo transfer.

Dr. Thie does not think I need the laparoscopy completed or does not think it would increase our chances any more of getting pregnant/carrying a baby to term. I am okay with proceeding without it for now. We will re-visit this issue if our first transfer does not result in being pregnant. She does think I have all the signs of PCOS. But did explain that its really a hard thing to diagnosis. She is basing her diagnosis on my Insulin levels, my weight gain, my acne, hair growth (I get to pluck hairs around my belly button, its lovely), and the amount of follicles she saw today on my ultrasound. I had 20 follicles just in my left ovary. I don't think they could tell on my right because I had just ovulated a few days ago so there was a corpus lutium cyst taking up most of that ovary. I find it all very interesting to be honest. All my pain, which I've always thought was ovulation pain, is on my left side. But every time I have an ultrasound after ovulation or while pregnant-I've ovulated from the right side. And then back in March when I attempted to see what a naturalist had to say about my issues and she looked into my eyes (she's also an iridologist, she told me my left ovary was inflamed. And then during my egg retrieval my left ovary was so incredibly painful, since I was unmedicated, that I started yelling that it hurt and the doctor had to stop the retrieval. So there is something up with that left ovary-PCOS or Endometriosis....but something is up. OH well-as far as I'm aware-since we are doing donor eggs, my ovaries won't affect my pregnancy, so I'm not going to let myself worry much about that piece for now.

Other than that-she ordered some blood work to check a few more things out. She told me to decrease my Metformin back to 1000 mg from 1500mg because, well, I have had some not so pleasant side effects that have kept me on the toilet every 10-20 minutes throughout the night several times now. That's not healthy. And it interferes with my sleep. And my husbands. Hopefully going back down to the lower dose will help that issue. I will continue everything else that I currently take. Oh, and I will be starting out on Progesterone injections but will test my level after taking it for 7 days and will supplement with suppositories if the injections aren't getting my level up.

Next week, or the week after, whenever I start my period, I will start my birth control regimen. Then I will wait for my sister to start her next period around October 12th and we will be full force into our Egg Donor cycle! I am sooo ready to get started and see where this is going to take us in our journey to parenthood. After today's appointment with Dr. Thie, I feel like there's hope in front of me. I feel like there is no reason right now to believe this isn't going to work for us. I know the reality is that it might not-but we will cross that bridge if we come to it. I believe we are taking control this time and doing what we can to make this successful on our end, so we just need my sister's ovaries to cooperate and produce healthy, mature eggs for us.

Because I love this song and it came into my life when I needed it the most, I will share it with you. Every last word is perfect for what we have been through. No matter how bad it gets, there is always hope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KIhYZQ_ovw


Monday, September 15, 2014

Carried by Faith

Yesterday I was sitting in church. I hadn't been in a few Sunday's because life has just been busy between work, my car accident, and the golf outing...and sometimes I just want to sleep in with my husband for once. I found myself doing something I don't normally do yesterday. I love Christian rock worship music, but when it comes to worshiping in public, I tend to me more reserved. In my car I will belt the tune out and cry out of sadness, anger, or even happiness. But in church, I just tap my feet and hands to the beat of the song and sometimes sway a little back and forth. Yesterday though, I felt my arms rising as I closed my eyes and worshipped God with all of my body.

It hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. But in a freeing kinda way. Not a weighted down kinda way. For the past 7 years of my life, since I got pregnant with Riley in September 2007 as a senior in college and was terrified about my future, I have been carried by faith. Through the scary, through the joy, through the heartbreak, through the uncertainty, through the anger, through the challenges....faith has carried me the entire time.

People ask me how I have stayed so strong. How I have any hope in the future. How I have managed to make it through the loss of four babies. I've never really known the answer to be honest. But now I do.

My faith is so much stronger than I have ever let myself believe. I've always been more spiritual than the rest of my family, but I don't think I accepted God into my life until I lost Riley on March 1, 2008. The support group I attended had somewhat of a religious component to it. It introduced me the music that I love to listen to no matter the mood I'm in, no matter the situation going on in my life. It is soothing to my ears, my heart, and my soul. I've been listening to it ever since. And just about every song that I hear, I can apply it to my life in some way and it gives meaning to all this crap we've been trenching our way through.

At times I've felt like God is never there for me, especially when I need him. But I realize now he has been with me the entire time. He's been there to pick me up when I'm down, has pulled me from the water when I'm drowning, has been my feet when I felt I couldn't take one more step, has given me shelter when the storm is raging, and has been the voice inside me that says Keep Going, Don't Quit Now.

Along this journey to becoming parents, I don't know what the ultimate plan is for us. Every time when it seems like one option is turning into a dead end, something happens that makes it seem like we are still moving in the right direction. After we lost Logan in January 2013, we thought we would try IVF with PGD. When we didn't get chosen for the Baby Quest Foundation grant in May 2013, we thought we would try to get pregnant again on our own. When we got pregnant again in August 2013 we thought that was the answer to our prayers. When we miscarried in October 2013 for the 4th time, and we re-applied for the Baby Quest Foundation grant...we told ourselves if we weren't selected then IVF was not meant to be and we would adopt. When we got selected for the grant in November 2013, we thought once again it was the answer to our prayers....we were still going to be able to have a biological child. When our IVF cycle went smooth the entire time, we thought it was a sure thing-that we would get a biological child out of the embryos we were about to create, and then the doctors became concerned about my estrogen rising too quickly and possibly having ovarian hyperstimulation....but I didn't and we went on as scheduled. Once we had the egg retrieval and everyday got a phone call with decreasing numbers, I thought it wasn't going to work for us and we were supposed to adopt instead. When one out of four embryos came back with an incomplete genetic result and the other three had confirmed genetic issues, I was sceptical but thought God just didn't want to spoil the gender surprise so early. When our pregnancy test came back negative, I was crushed and thought about adoption again. But within a few days me and my sister talked and she offered us her eggs....which was close enough to having a biological child. When there were doubts of my sister going through with the egg donation, I thought this isn't what we are supposed to be doing. Then we talked and she was completely on board...so I had hope again that this would be it. But then there was a chance she wasn't going to be approved....and once again I thought, this isn't meant to be. Then she got approved. Then I was told my doctor wouldn't do the immunological co-management with the doctor in New York, and I felt stuck, but within a week heard from the clinic that another doctor was willing to take over my case so we could get the immunological treatment.

So here we are. Everything that I thought was going to stop us from going forth with this egg donor cycle has been resolved. Yet I'm not 100% sure this is the path God choose for our life, and I won't know until we are at the end of the cycle and have used up every viable embryo that gets created out of this cycle or until we have a baby in our arms 9 months after the cycle is over. It's either going to work for us, or it won't. It's that simple I guess. And all I can do is let my faith carry me through this wave of hope and fear and wait to see where the wave lets me land. If it works, I will be over the moon. If it doesn't work, I will be devastated again. But either way-my faith will continue to carry me to the child that was created just for us. I have faith that there will be a child at the end of all this. Someway, Somehow.

I will leave you with this song that has become a favorite of mine. Enjoy!



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Contracts, Contracts, Contracts. That's pretty much all this past week consisted of.

On Tuesday my sister, my husband, and myself met with our attorney to sign our Egg Donor contract.  It was a requirement from our clinic, not something we felt we needed to do to protect any of us from each other.  Once that was signed, our attorney notarized and faxed a letter for our fertility clinic to let them know we had completed this requirement.  One more step down in the books!

On Thursday I purchased my new vehicle, a 2013 Hyundai Elantra.  We got the finalization from our insurance company on Friday that my car was in fact totaled, as if we didn't know.  But we were told I needed to have the rental car returned to Enterprise on Thursday and would need to have my new car purchased by then.  Well with our golf outing on Saturday and dealerships being closed on Sunday and then closed again on Monday for Labor Day...this didn't give me a whole lot of time to explore vehicle options considering I work every day from 2pm-10:30pm and have to leave town at 1pm to get to work on time.  Anyways, it basically came down to a 2013 Kia Optimum Hybrid or the 2013 Hyundai Elantra.  I'm not going to lie....it was a tough decision and I hate car shopping by myself because I hate the pressure that car salesmen and their managers put on me.  The Hyundai won because I saw the most benefit out of it.  While both vehicles had much fewer miles on them than my previous vehicle and both vehicles got better gas mileage than my previous vehicle....and both were newer vehicles whereas mine was a 2012,  it was the price difference that hooked me on the Hyundai.  We are trying to put ourselves in a better financial situation, so considering the loan amount on the Hyundai was smaller than the loan I had to take out to buy my previous car out of my lease, it was the best option. Plus I don't have to worry about a battery dying on me and needing to be replaced for $10,000.

I know I might get some flack for this thought, but whatever.  In a way-this accident is giving us over $2,000 in cash back that we are going to be able to use for our fertility cycle.  We will be getting the sales tax back on the purchase of this new vehicle AND we will be getting money back from an extended warranty that I purchased for my previous vehicle.  I don't believe in the phrase "everything happens for a reason."  I just can't see the reason why we've lost 4 innocent and precious babies over the past 6 years and why we are in a situation where we have to turn to fertility treatments or adoption to have our living children in our arms.  But I do believe this accident happened because of my own stupidity and was not only a wake up call to myself to be a safer driver but it is answering some of our financial struggles too.  We will end up paying the cost in our insurance premiums rising in the long run, but for right now I will choose to see the positive.  Everyone in the accident is still alive, I got a nicer but cheaper vehicle, and we will get money back that will help pay for this upcoming fertility cycle.

On Friday, my husband and I had one of my husband's co-workers notarize another form our fertility clinic had sent to us and wanted signed before we could proceed.  It was an Egg Donor acknowledgement form stating our doctor was approving my sister to be our egg donor despite the results and recommendations of the psychological testing.  I honestly think that testing was a waste of money and time.  If our donor was not known to us, maybe we would have been a little more picky....but since it's my sister-we are well aware of her strengths and weaknesses, her personality and behaviors, so on and so forth.  My sister is very different than me, but she is also very much like me in so many ways,  And I believe that genetics is not the only thing that shapes someone into who they are....it has a lot to do with parenting too.  So I'm sure our child will be a perfect combination of all of us despite not having my exact genetics.  Anyways.....once that was signed, I put it in the mail to be sent back to our fertility clinic.  Once again, one more step completed.

So, what's next?  I'm a bit disappointed to say we won't be able to officially start the egg donor cycle with my sister's upcoming period next week.  Part of the delay has to do with my last period starting on cycle day 40 putting me 11 days behind my sister when we were starting a day apart from one another. So we need to see what day I start my period this month. The other pieces that are delaying us has to do with figuring out the immunological piece.  I am very happy to say my case was discussed with the other doctor at the fertility clinic that I talked about a few posts back.  Dr. Thie is agreeable to consulting with Dr. Braverman in New York and will be the one prescribing the immunological treatment.  I meet with Dr. Thie for the first time on September 17th and she will have hopefully already talked with Dr. Braverman so we can finalize my treatment plan at my appointment with her.  Dr. Braverman is still wanting me to get the laparoscopy completed before the egg donor cycle begins so I will be calling my OBGYN on Monday to schedule that surgery for as soon as possible.  Lastly, my sister will be meeting with Dr. Hofmann, my original fertility doctor at the clinic, on September 23rd to complete her FDA screening.  It's basically a complete physical with blood work.  Dr. Hofmann will continue to manage my sister's half of the cycle while Dr. Thie will manage my half.

Hopefully by the time my sister starts her period in October, we will have everything done and can get this show on the road.  That would put her egg retrieval the week before Thanksgiving and my embryo transfer just a few days before Thanksgiving.  Fingers crossed that we will have a healthy turkey on board before turkey day!