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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!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Belly Bruises and The Baseline

We (my sister and I) are two weeks in on the Lupron injections. My sister's stomach is covered in faded bruises from the injections because she's so skinny and has hardly any fat on her stomach to shield herself from the needle prick. She calls them "battle wounds." It's a fitting name I think, because she's fighting this battle of recurrent miscarriage and stillbirth with us by giving us her eggs that should be free of chromosome abnormalities, until my eggs which have been the main cause of our recurrent heartbreak with pregnancy loss. I feel bad, because I have plenty of belly fat and the Lupron doesn't give me any problems other than it's sometimes hard to get the needle to poke through the skin because the needle is so dull. However, I'm on day three of Lovenox and this medication is by far the worst medication to inject. I was on it with my two pregnancies in 2013 just for a few weeks before I miscarried and had the same reaction then too. I hate Lovenox. It immediately bruises my skin as soon as I place the needle to my belly. And these are deep and blue and are so hard for me to poke through the skin, worst than the Lupron. I've started taking them before becoming pregnant this time because it should help with implantation and making sure there are no blood clots forming in my uterus before our embryo transfer according to Dr. Braverman, our reproductive immunologist specialist. I know the shots are for my own protection and my babies protection so I will deal with the bruising as long as I have to, but I still hate it!

Besides our belly's looking like a battle ground, my sister had her baseline ultrasound today! That means we are only 12 days away from our egg retrieval!! WHOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOO!!! The nurse said my sister's ovaries were nice and quiet and they are guesstimating she has about 7-9 follicles in each ovary right now. So I guess we are looking at a possible 14-18 follicles at this point in the game. I say "at this point in the game" because I know very well we will not get 14-18 eggs at the egg retrieval because not all 14-18 follicles will respond to the medication she will be starting on Sunday. It does make me nervous just from past experience of having 30 follicles at my baseline ultrasound and only being able to retrieve 12 eggs because I only had 12 out of 30 follicles that stimulated to maturity. It makes me even more nervous to know that even when follicles are fully mature, the eggs inside the follicles may not be or may be poor quality and they cannot be I know, realistically, we may be working with a smaller number than what we had to work with during our first IVF when we used my own eggs....but I am REALLY trying to stay focused on the fact that my sister does not have the chromosome issue that I have so even if we have a smaller number of eggs....they could absolutely be better quality than my own. Think positive, right?

So now that the baseline ultrasound is out of the way, the true test begins. My sister starts the medication to stimulate her ovaries on Sunday. And let me tell you, I know she is not thrilled about this part. She will be on Follistem and Menopur and has to mix the two together which does seems kinda difficult even for me. I've already warned her about the emotional rollercoaster she is about to jump on to, and if you are her friend, family member, coworker, child's father, or ex-boyfriend...this is your warning too! The 10 days between the start of the medication to the egg retrieval will be NOT the time to bring up something you know dang well will upset her. If you do, enter the conversation at your own risk! I am hoping that I can keep her spirits up and keep her motivated by the gifts I've gotten her. She gets to open one gift every night after taking her Lupron in the morning and Follistem/Menopur combination in the evening. And tomorrow kicks off the 11 days of gift giving with a special girls day that I've had planned for a week and a half now:) She is definitely deserving of what I have planned for tomorrow!

Other than these updates, I started Estrace on Wednesday to start plumping up my uterine lining. I will increase my dose every 4-5 days and won't actually know if my lining looks good until the day of my sister's egg retrieval. After the retrieval I will have an ultrasound to check things out on my end and make sure my uterus is ready to grow a baby in there. I also started Prednisone to start suppressing my immune system. I'm taking 10mg twice a day and I really haven't noticed any side effects like I thought I excessive hunger, no excessive moodiness-that I didn't already have;) We'll see how it goes the longer I'm on it. Today is also my 5th day without having any caffeine! Last week Dr. Pepper started tasting "off" to me so it was really an extra motivation to just cut out the caffeine now and not wait until we transfer our little embie or wait until I find out if I'm pregnant or not. The first three days were rough....I thought I was going to kill someone-everything was annoying me. But day 4 was much better and the withdrawal headaches are gone now:) #doinitforbabymonnier!

Over the next week I am sure I will update much more as we learn how my sister's ovaries are responding to the medication. We are now at 12 days and counting...and I can't believe it! Hoping these next 12 days go my smoothly and as fast as possible....we are so ready to see what the next journey is going to be!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

19 Days and Counting

19 days....say what?! In 19 days we will have my sisters egg retrieval. We will know how many eggs we have to work with. We will officially be waiting and hoping to be able to have at least one or two embryos to transfer. We will finally be able to call these growing embryos, ours.

I have a calendar at home on my refrigerator with every important "next step." And everyday I cross off another day from our fertility cycle. I cannot believe that after 8 months of talking about this potential egg donor cycle that we really only have 19 days left before the egg retrieval! I've been on birth control for 5 weeks and Lupron now for 1 week. Today is my last birth control pill and I am happy to say "bye-bye birth control!" My sister's last day of birth control is tomorrow and tomorrow will also be the completion of her first week on Lupron. Step one of our cycle, shutting down our ovaries, is just about complete!

This coming week we will start step two. On Monday my husband starts his 14 days of antibiotic. On Wednesday I start taking Estrace which is used to plump up my uterine lining, Prednisone which is used to suppress my immune system so it can't attack a growing baby, and Lovenox which is used to prevent blood clots in my uterus and everywhere else throughout my body. On Friday I finish my antibiotic regimen, and my sister has her baseline ultrasound and blood work to make sure her ovaries are nice and quiet and full of follicles that are ready to be stimulated. If all looks great for her on Friday, she starts her stimulation meds next Sunday. Both me and my sister will continue to take Lupron for the remainder of the 19 days that we have left of our cycle....for me to make sure my ovaries remain quiet, and for her to make sure her ovaries don't get a sneaky egg who tries to escape before the egg retrieval.

So...we may not have 19 kids and counting (nor would we want to, but seriously...
how did they get so lucky?!), but we do have 19 days and counting and for that, we are still blessed!