Saturday, December 24, 2016

Finally Pregnant For Christmas...

I know a lot of us who have dealt with infertility have had difficulty with holidays. Because holidays are such special times often spent surrounded by family, you can't help but be aware of how badly you want to share these moments and holiday traditions with a little one. We started trying for a baby in 2014, so we have had a quite a few holidays where we told ourselves that this was "the last one before we had a baby to celebrate with". When you are a whole year later in TTC (or even two years, as we experienced), and yet to be pregnant or holding a baby in your arms, remembering that last years Christmas was supposed to be "the last one without a baby or pregnancy" can really sting.

I have always loved the holiday season. We always cook so much food for Thanksgiving and start making things days before. We have some traditions that I enjoy so much! We pick up our fresh turkey from a local farm, brine it at my parent's house. My husband and I cook homemade cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, creamed onions, mashed winter squash (grown in our garden!), and homemade bread or rolls. My mom cooks the rest of the meal, and we bring everything we've made over to their house. The next day, we all drive together as a family to a local Christmas tree farm. We all walk around through what seems like millions of trees to pick "the perfect tree". My husband and I put up two full sized live trees and it always makes the house feel so festive and warm! We decorate a gingerbread house which we keep on display... just so many fun things we do each year. For Christmas, we celebrate on Christmas Eve and eat some traditional Swedish foods. So many wonderful memories!

Last year at Thanksgiving, I was recovering from my first early miscarriage after our third IUI. After getting pregnant, I suddenly was very ill with intense nausea and severe vomiting. After being diagnosed with HG this pregnancy, we suspect it may have been HG because sometimes it starts very early. I was in the hospital twice with that "illness", and I started to miscarry. We had been planning to tell our family on Thanksgiving day that we were finally pregnant! But instead, things turned out very different than we had hoped. The cycle following the miscarriage was long and strange. We met with our RE and decided to do more IUIs. But my cycle dragged on. In the end it was 36 days, which wasn't really that long. But it gave me a new appreciation for how frustrating it must be for those with longer cycles. AF finally arrived, on Christmas day of course. Last year during the holiday season, there was always some constant reminder that I still wasn't pregnant yet. Along with new doubts introduced to our minds about why we had an early miscarriage.

Thinking back to where we were last year, when contrasting with this year... things are so different now. We really are expecting a baby! So much has happened in the past year, almost all things I didn't expect. I never thought we'd need IVF. I never thought we'd suffer a second early miscarriage. I certainly never thought I'd be diagnosed with HG. I also never thought pregnancy would be so hard. But as I've come to realize, very little ever goes the way you expect it to. And that's okay.

To those of you out there who are still trying, who's hearts might be aching this holiday season... please do not give up. While we were trying, I would have given anything to be pregnant. But now that I finally, really truly am pregnant, I would not change anything that brought me here to this moment. Even though it was a difficult and painful journey. Everything we went through led to this baby, who I feel wiggling and hiccuping at this very moment as I type. You will get there too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NT Scan, Anatomy Scan, & Fetal Heart Echo Ultrasounds

Throughout this pregnancy, I had 6 ultrasounds already by 22 weeks! After IVF, I had my first ultrasound at 7 weeks, then another at 9 weeks. I had another ultrasound when I was in the hospital for fluids for HG, at 11 weeks. I was in pretty bad shape, so they wanted to be sure our little one was alright! The following week I had my NT scan at 12 weeks 3 days. Next was the anatomy scan at 18 weeks 2 days! They had recommended we do a fetal echo to check our little one's heart, because some studies have shown a slight elevation in heart defects in IVF pregnancies. We had that one done at 22 weeks 3 days.

It's absolutely crazy to see how much he's grown! We have photos from each ultrasound, except for the one when I was in the hospital. I was so ill that all we were focused on was making sure he was alive. I never even thought to ask for a photo and they didn't offer. But we still have lots of pictures!

We also were lucky enough to see our little boy on the 3D ultrasound at our anatomy scan! It was amazing seeing him move around and getting to see some of the details of his face.

As you can probably guess, everything went very well at all of our ultrasounds. They had no problem getting all the views the needed at all of them. Although it does seem like our little one doesn't really enjoy the ultrasounds that much. He seems to try to "get away" from it. I felt really bad he had to go through the fetal heart echo, because it took 1.5 hours! I'm not sure if they usually take that long, but we also had a med student there learning, so I have a feeling it was a bit longer due to that. 

I've been a bit behind in updating this blog and I apologize! For any of you wondering, at the time of writing this, I'm officially in the third trimester at 28 weeks. I can't believe how fast all of this is going by now. I do have some more updates to share, such as how the nursery is coming along, our birth plan (and why we might have to change things), as well as some unexpected news I got recently. Hopefully I'll have those updates soon!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Gender Reveal!

We decided it would be so much fun to do a gender reveal for our family! I know gender reveals are a bit controversial in some circles and people feel that they are unnecessary and/or silly. But we honestly didn't care :) This may be the only child we ever have, so we really hoped to be able to surprise our family with the reveal. I know they thought it was a lot of fun! And just a reminder, we did the gender reveal about a month ago, but just now I'm having time to do this update.

While I was feeling really sick, I tried to amuse myself by pinning fun gender reveal ideas. We waited to have the gender reveal until I had started to feel a bit better and was able to eat some actual food. My husband and I had fun making all the desserts for the party and it was the first time I'd made any food or even assisted with any food prep in months! So it was kind of a big deal to me, like I was passing a milestone where I might be through the worst.

We had all of our family members do the photo booth displaying their guess! Lots of fun :)

It's a BOY!! 

And here is a quick video:

We are SO excited to be welcoming a new little boy into our family! When we had our NT scan, they had asked us if they were able to get a good enough look, would we like a guess on the sex? And we said, of course! We were also doing the Harmony test, so we would be getting confirmation soon. Throughout the scan, our little guy was doing his best to hide his crotch area. But right at the end, he moved enough where she was able to give us a guess that it was 80% chance of a boy, using the nub theory. We found out about a week later that she was correct and I had a little boy cooking away! We truly had no preference for boy or girl, so finding out was just so exciting for us! 

For any of you interested, we got a lot of the items for the reveal on amazon. Here's links to a few:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pregnancy Update: 19 Weeks & HG

Well it's certainly been awhile since I gave an update! I haven't updated since 9 weeks! I'll get caught up on what has been happening since then :) I will most likely split it into a few posts, just to make it easier.

The main reason I had not been updating was due to very severe vomiting! I plan to write more about this at a later time, but I suffered from severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, also commonly called HG. You may remember that Kate Middleton suffered from it during both her pregnancies, and it was in the news. I remember learning about it during her first pregnancy and thinking how awful it must be! I was happy to learn though, that it's relatively rare. I never, ever expected to suffer from it myself.

At it's worst, I was in fear for my baby's life, as well as my own. There were times I couldn't walk or even stand up unassisted. I lost over 20 pounds and a very significant percentage of my overall body weight. The entire thing was terrifying. My spine and ribs were extremely prominent. I felt as though I were both starving to death, and dying of dehydration. Worst of all, I felt like I was starving our baby. I did everything I could to get down my prenatals, but eventually I was told to stop, as my midwife felt that they were doing more harm than good.

My skin was so dry. My mouth was so dry. My eyes were so dry. I couldn't keep down fluids at all. I threw up countless times per day. Up to 15 or more times. It was always extremely violent and it felt like my body was trying to rid itself of poison. I couldn't help but feel like there was something very wrong with my body's reasoning. I need water to survive! My baby needs me to drink! But my body just didn't care. My entire existence revolved around constantly slowly taking small sips of ice cold water through a straw. Chewing ice chips. Just praying some of it would be absorbed. At one point, my throat began to bleed.

I didn't realize how bad off I was. I was in denial that I could have HG. After all... isn't it so rare?! I think I would have been much better off had I accepted it sooner, that this wasn't just normal morning sickness. But I was so scared. I felt that somehow admitting that's what I really was suffering from would make it worse. I've heard that some HG pregnancies never improve until delivery. I had never been more scared in my life. I felt like I could possibly lose the pregnancy over this... our sweet little baby we worked so hard to get.

When I finally began hallucinating, I knew I was bad enough that I needed to go to the hospital. I could not even walk in on my own and I needed a wheel chair. They told me I had waited too long to come in, and that in the future, I needed to come in much sooner. I won't go into detail, but I was given lots of fluids and other things (maybe vitamins?) that I cannot remember. But we got to see our little one on the ultrasound! He was moving and wiggling so much. He looked so alive. His heartbeat was perfect. His growth was perfect. Despite everything, he was okay! Somehow, he was unaffected by all of this. It seemed like a miracle.

The next few weeks were spent trying out additional combinations of anti vomiting medications, different dosages, etc. Until we found something that finally seemed to work and lessened my vomiting. The longer I was on the medication, at the right dosage, I slowly got better. I was keeping down a few glasses of water a day! I still felt so thirsty, so hungry. But I knew I was getting better.

Suffering from HG has been the most difficult and most terrifying thing I have ever done. I have never felt worse, both emotionally and physically. I cannot fully describe how low I got emotionally. There were lots of ugly feelings. Lots of crying (but few tears, since I was so dehydrated). Thankfully, my mind seems to have developed some sort of defense mechanism, and I feel as though the last few months are blurry in my memory. I've heard the same from other people, that our mind tries to protect us from the memories.

I've since learned that HG is often not taken seriously and is very under diagnosed. I was told over and over again by well meaning people, that I just had regular morning sickness. That I was making it worse by "thinking about it". That I wasn't getting enough fresh air. Not eating enough crackers. Or ginger. Or whatever worked for their normal morning sickness. It feels so isolating because no one truly understands what you are going through. People don't know about HG.

But here I sit, at almost 20 weeks. I am still on the medications. But I am not vomiting. I am eating more foods each week. I have gained back all the weight that I lost! I am getting fluids! I am one of the lucky ones that has been able to control their symptoms with medications. Within the next few weeks, I will try reducing my meds, to see if they are still necessary. I am terrified to try. For some with HG, the symptoms do resolve at some point. I'm praying that I am one of those cases. But if I cannot manage without the medication, I have been assured it is safe for me to remain on it.

I am so thankful to be feeling better! I appreciate every sip of water and every bite of food! But the best thing has been feeling our little one move :) I began feeling the first movements around 16 weeks, and they became more and more noticeable. I have lots of updates to share, and more will be coming!

Poke Count (This is the final count! We stopped PIO around 11 weeks!)
Arms: 13     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 8   Butt: 66

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

9 Weeks + Ultrasound!

I was so happy to hit 9 weeks! Last week was just awful with that stomach flu... this week on the other hand was wonderful in comparison. Plus, we got to see the little one again!

Symptom wise, I've been very emotional. I don't typically cry often, but I feel like I've cried more during this pregnancy than I have in the last few years combined. I'm still having quite strong food aversions which is making eating and food prep difficult. Honestly, most foods are pretty gross to me right now! I'm still feeling the nausea here and there, but the unisom & B6 is really helping for the morning sickness. I have been able to gain a few pounds back after being so sick, but I'm still not back up to my regular weight. Hoping I get there soon!

Our ultrasound went very well! The baby was moving around a lot :) Our little one was measuring perfectly at exactly 9 weeks with a CRL of 2.26cm!! I can't believe how quickly they are growing! More than doubled in size since our last ultrasound. The heart rate was 194! Our RE said it's normally probably a bit lower than that, but the little one was moving around quite a bit, so their heart rate rises accordingly. I love knowing that they are already so full of energy!

The ultrasound also looked so much more like a real baby! We even got to see the little legs at one point. Here's a video from our two ultrasounds:

My RE said I could stop my PIO shots cold turkey that night at 9 weeks... but I was uncomfortable with that. So he said we can step down and wean off of it. Which sounds much better to me :)

After this second ultrasound, I've been officially released from my RE's office!! Definitely a bitter sweet moment. I'm so happy to be at the point where I can be released... but I've never had such good medical providers before. I wish they could take care of me during my whole pregnancy!! They truly were the kindest nurses and doctors I've ever met.

Poke Count
Arms: 13     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 8   Butt: 56

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

8 Weeks

This week was... interesting. After struggling with the morning sickness last week and losing a bit of weight, the unisom + B6 was a miracle for me! But early on this week, I suddenly started feeling sick. Really sick! You can tell I'm not feeling well in my weekly photo as well.

It all started the day I was going for my blood work that my midwife had ordered. I just felt so off. I woke up with the chills and shivering. In hindsight, that should have been my first clue that something was wrong. But I didn't think anything of it at the time. By the end of the day, I couldn't keep anything down. I felt so sick! I thought it must be morning sickness.

I kept feeling worse & worse. I kept wondering if I had developed that severe form of morning sickness. But my husband was really suspicious once he heard me mention the chills. I kept feeling burning hot and then was overcome by horrible chills. He was right to be suspicious... I had a stomach flu!

This totally terrified me. I called both my midwife office and my RE. I was told to just make sure to control the fever and prevent dehydration. Not to worry about food or prenatals right now. I had to take tylenol for the fever. Ugh. I felt SO awful for the entire week. The worst of it lasted about 48 hours, but I really was sick for a whole week.

I'm sure some of you have experienced being really sick, where it almost pushes you to the edge of your sanity. That is what this felt like!

Towards the end of the week, when I was able to think a little more clearly... I started to really worry about our baby. Had the fever done something to them? I decided to try my home fetal heart monitor that I had gotten recently, but hadn't been able to find the heartbeat yet. Well, I'm happy to report... we found the heartbeat at home!! It was music to our ears and proof that our little one was doing well despite how ill I was.

Hearing the heartbeat at home also calmed my nerves prior to our next ultrasound! Which was scheduled for exactly 9 weeks...

Poke Count
Arms: 14     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 7   Butt: 49

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

7 Weeks Pregnant + First Ultrasound!!

Week 7 was definitely a turning point in this pregnancy! On exactly 7 weeks, I officially "got sick" for the first time. Which on one hand is a good sign, because it shows my hormones are high.. but getting sick is no fun! Unfortunately, it happened right as we were heading out the door to our first ultrasound. But none of that mattered because... we saw the heartbeat!

The ultrasound went perfectly! Baby measured 6 weeks, 6 days (so one day behind) which is just fine. The heart beat was 147-148!! For those of you interested, the CRL was 0.91cm. Baby is the size of a small raspberry! After our appointment, we were met in the hall by a bunch of the nurses who were all congratulating us. I had to hold back tears! I had one more quick blood draw for my thyroid, since it had been a while since it had been checked. The result came back the next day and it was perfect!

As for symptoms, I definitely had some tummy bloating this week. The morning sickness continued, as did the food aversions. Still feeling super tired and emotional!

A few days after my RE appointment, we had our first midwife appointment at the birth center! It's a free standing birth center, with a very homey vibe to it. There are a few midwives in the practice and you end up working with all of them. I was sick a couple of times that morning before my appointment and was feeling incredibly nauseous on the ride there as well as in the waiting room. The midwife was great! I had brought a bunch of test results with us (such as all the carrier screening I had done, all 30 pages of it) as well as our ultrasound photos. Since I did IVF and my due date was already established and the fact that I've been monitored so closely over the last year, there wasn't a whole lot we needed to do at this appointment. It was mainly a nice meet and greet. She did feel my uterus to make sure it was expanding properly (it was) and checked my cervix (which looked how it should). I was sent on my way with a few labs that needed to be repeated (infectious diseases, etc).

I unfortunately already started to lose a few pounds due to the morning sickness. My midwife suggested I try taking the unisom + B6 combo (which is incredibly safe) to help control it. I tried it the night of the appointment and did so much better the next day!

Poke Count
Arms: 13     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 7   Butt: 42

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

6 Weeks Pregnant

6 weeks pregnant already?! This week was the week of food aversions. Really strong food aversions. Nearly everything has disgusted me!

I spent a lot of time eating tater tots. Until suddenly, they were revolting as well. Midway through a salad, literally in the middle of chewing, it suddenly became totally disgusting to me. I've also begun gagging while eating or being around strong smells. Definitely pregnancy symptoms!

The later half of this week was spent nervously awaiting our first ultrasound. To be honest, it was constantly in the back of my mind. On one hand, I couldn't wait. On the other, I was dreading it. What if it was bad news?!

As a result of the worrying, I wasn't sleeping well. Which I think is pretty understandable! On top of the pregnancy fatigue, it definitely made me extra tired.

Last weeks tiny bump has gotten bigger! I'm still not sure if it's noticeable to anyone else, but I certainly can tell it's there! At this point I'm loving any evidence or signs that this is really, truly happening.

Poke Count
Arms: 12     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 6   Butt: 35

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5 Weeks Pregnant!

Already through week 5! To me, making it to 6 weeks is a big milestone. I'm not quite sure why.. but I made it! Week 5 was a little stressful. I'm still definitely feeling pregnant, which I'm hoping is a good sign as we wait for the first ultrasound, which will be a week from today.

The first half of this week was especially stressful, as I was waiting to do my final hcg beta, which  was a full seven days after my last blood draw. I found waiting for the results to be agonizing! Especially because the phone call didn't come on time. Normally my clinic is really good about calling you promptly with any results or instructions. So when my call didn't come.. I expected the worst! The actual reason for the late call was due to a patient who had an emergency and it had nothing to do with my results. Thankfully, my beta came back good at just under 2000. The doubling time had started to slow a bit since my last blood test a week prior, but that is normal once the levels get above 1000.

As for my symptoms, the first half of the week was really more of the same of week 4. But as the week went on, my sense of smell has reached an all time high of sensitivity! I thought I smelled everything last week.. but I really can smell everything now. Especially if it's an unpleasant smell!

I was also surprised to look in the mirror and notice the absolute tiniest of bumps! This didn't appear until a few days ago, so towards the later end of week 5. I've heard that being on the PIO shots can make a bump appear a little earlier. It's definitely not something you can notice through my clothes, and I'm sure most people wouldn't notice a thing. But when putting all my bare belly photos from the last 3 weeks all in a row, it's really obvious to me! I personally can't wait to have a big bump, so the earlier it wants to show, the better.

I've again had some on & off nausea. Mainly in a "am I hungry or nauseous" sort of way. I am definitely finding a lot of foods unappealing though. It's a little annoying to be incredibly hungry, but be disgusted by all your go to foods! I really just want to make sure I'm getting enough nutrients, because a lot of the things I really seem to want to eat are not the healthiest options. As someone who is normally a very healthy eater, it's a little disconcerting!

At 5 weeks 4 days, fatigue hit me like a freight train. I've been tired since the beginning, but this is a whole new level! Overall, the fatigue has been the most noticeable symptom this week, just because it's been so strong.

Now that I've made it to week 6, I'm a big step closer to our first pregnancy ultrasound when I will be exactly 7 weeks!

Poke Count
Arms: 12     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 6   Butt: 28

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

4 Weeks Pregnant!

At the time of writing this, I'm actually already 5 weeks! I figured I'd do a little summary of how I have been feeling throughout the last week, as it might be nice for me and my husband to look back on in the future.

At 4 weeks, our little one is the size of a poppy seed! Lots of things are going on development wise, including the forming of the neural tube. It seems like so much happens in early pregnancy and it's such a complex process.

As of the day of my first beta (which was 14 dpo or 9DP5DT), I was 4 weeks! I started feeling pregnancy symptoms actually in my 3rd week, which was surprising to me. One of my first symptoms, which continued all through the 4th week, was intense hunger. Waking up feeling extremely hungry, needing to eat every two hours, having two dinners, etc. I also would feel sick if I didn't eat, but would also feel queasy about an hour after eating a large meal. Increased thirst and urination as well!

I had a lot of pulling, cramping, poking, and basically other strange feelings all around my lower belly. I've heard that this is from the uterus rapidly expanding and growing for the pregnancy. My boobs have been really sore, both to the touch and just even laying down. They've also definitely gotten a little bit bigger and seem a bit swollen.

I have a bit of a belly.. but I'm pretty sure it's all just bloat ;) I know a lot of people seem to be bloated early on after IVF.

Strangely, I had my first craving too! Sweet pickles (like the kind on a hamburger) and relish. I couldn't think of any way to really eat relish (since I don't normally eat it!), so I ended up mixing up homemade tartar sauce with tons of relish in it. I ate it with some fish. But to be honest, all I really wanted was the little bits of relish in there and I even ate it by the spoonful. Gross, but funny too!

I've also been feeling pretty tired, which I know is normal. There's a lot going on inside of me! A few nights I was in bed by 8:30, or fell asleep unintentionally before I meant to go to bed.

The hardest thing to deal with has been my emotions. I'm very nervous and almost afraid to be happy about this pregnancy. I just can't help but think how much we had to do to get here and knowing there is always a chance of miscarriage is just really getting to me. I've actually been taking pregnancy tests each day still! Even though they don't tell me anything, other than, yep you're still pregnant.. I feel like I can't stop!

I'm hoping as time goes on, my worries will lessen. Our first ultrasound, with my RE, is exactly 2 weeks from today! And my first midwife appointment is later that same week. Until then, staying as optimistic as possible!!

Poke Count
Arms: 11     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 6   Butt: 21

Monday, June 20, 2016

BFP After IVF!!

First of all I want to apologize for taking forever to get this post up here! I truly have been in disbelief and this hasn't really sunken in for me just yet.

On the morning of 5DP5DT aka 10dpo, I woke up not intending to take a test at all. But that morning, I got a sudden, intense nosebleed. I remembered a friend of mine telling me about her nosebleeds in early pregnancy... so once it stopped bleeding, I figured, why not?! I've never gotten a positive test this early anyway. And I can check my trigger again to make sure it's even lighter than last time.

But when I did the test and watched the dye flow by... I swore I could see an extremely faint line forming.. already! Naturally, I couldn't back out at this point. So I watched. And watched. As a line developed right before my very eyes! In complete disbelief, I dipped two other tests. Then a third. All were positive, including a digital that read 1-2 weeks!

Above is the very first test that I took. Stunned was pretty much the only way to describe how I felt. I've never gotten a positive at 10DPO, and never got a positive digital right away either. 

The rest of that day was pretty much a blur. I remember getting my husband's present together, so I could surprise him. I had just given him an early birthday present a few days prior, so I was pretending I had another for him. He had absolutely NO idea. I had just talked to him about not testing, so he had zero expectations. I even managed to film his reaction without him knowing!

It was a Friday... which mean 4 whole days until my beta! We decided to not tell any family members until we had the beta back. Those few days went by slowly. The day of my beta, waiting for my results went by even slower.

But my nurse called and said "Congratulations!" and that everything looked "perfect!". My HCG was 160! My progesterone was excellent as well.

The following day, we went over to my parents house, to drop off a few things. My mom had already been getting suspicious about when my blood test would be, so I knew we couldn't keep it from her for any longer. Right before we were pretending to leave, I said that my husband had found a really cool coin and asked if I could show my mom. I handed it to her.. It was a penny with a baby food stamped through it. At first she said, wow! Why would they put a baby foot on here though? And then it clicked and she knew!

Next we got my brother, who was due home from work any minute. We had a little box, that had a little "bun" inside of it, and the inside of the box was stamped with "Bun in the Oven". We placed the box in the oven and when he came inside, my mom told him there was something wrong inside the oven and could he take a quick peek? Obviously, he wasn't expecting to find the little box in there!

For my husband's sister, unfortunately she isn't local. But we ended up texting her a cute photo of me that said "4 Weeks, Baby is the Size of a Poppy Seed". As soon as we texted her, she immediately knew, even before we had sent the photo!

Since father's day was coming up, we decided to swear the whole family to secrecy and break the news to the dad's on father's day! I had purchased cards that said "Only the best fathers..." on the front, and "Get promoted to grandfathers!" inside! We had them sit next to each other and open them at the same time. They simply thought they were opening father's day cards, and were totally surprised!

As for our next steps... we have one more beta a week after our last one (which will be 23 DPO or 18DP5DT). We are already scheduled for our first ultrasound with my RE at the beginning of July (I will be exactly 7 weeks), and I have my first midwife appointment later that same week.

I have to admit, I've been feeling very nervous and worried that everything is going okay! I'm so terrified this will be taken from me. I know some people probably think that's silly, but I feel like we've had to go through so much to get here. 23 Cycles TTC, 7 IUIs, 2 IVF attempts, and 2 previous early losses. I feel like I've dealt really well with all of this so far, but I can't bare the thought of something going wrong now!

But we are trying to stay positive and enjoy every moment. I am actually, really, truly pregnant right now!!

Poke Count
Arms: 11     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 6   Butt: 20

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

IVF: Embryo Transfer!

We had to wait until 3 days after retrieval to confirm our transfer day and time. We were originally scheduled for a day 5 transfer, but things can always change as the embryos are growing! So the morning of day 3, I was nervously waiting for a phone call. They check the embryos only once a day, so they don't keep disturbing them. That morning was going to be the day 3 check... and if things weren't looking as good as they hoped, they'd call us in for a day 3 transfer that day.

As soon as I answered the phone and the nurse started speaking, I knew we were still on for a 5 day transfer! There weren't any other updates on our embryos, just that things were going well. Just to remind you, we had 9 eggs retrieved, 8 were mature, and 6 fertilized with ICSI. Our transfer was set for two days later on day 5, which was a Sunday, at 11:30am. We were to arrive at 11!

We spent the day before our embryo transfer relaxing and having fun. My family has a lake house, so we spent the day there swimming, kayaking, and spending time with our family. An absolutely perfect day!

The next morning was the day of our transfer. I could hardly believe it! I kept my phone with me all morning, just in case I got a phone call informing us all our embryos arrested or something horrible. But no phone call came! My husband make me a wonderful breakfast and I got ready to go. Before I knew it.. it was time to leave.

When we got there, we were called in right away. I only had to get undressed from the waist down, but still had to put on a gown and one of those blue fluffy hairnets. Then I just had to wait for the doctor to come in and speak with us! The way our clinic does it, is that each doctor in the practice has a specific day of the week that they perform procedures. I wasn't sure who did Sunday procedures though. It ended up being one of the doctors we hadn't met yet, but I'd heard good things about.

First things first, he went over our embryos with us. 9 eggs retrieved, 8 mature, 6 fertilized with ICSI. We knew all that. Of the 6 embryos, 2 of them stopped growing earlier on (not sure which day), but the other 4 made it to day 5. We had one beautiful blastocyst, and the other three were still morulas. We were definitely hoping for more blasts.. but we will take whatever we can get at this point!!

We originally were aiming for a single embryo transfer, but had said we would be willing to do two as well. Obviously, we'd be transferring the blast ;) but the embryologist suggested we put in one of the morulas too. They have pretty strict freezing guidelines, and even though they culture them for 6 days, they couldn't guarantee any of the morulas would meet the criteria for freezing the next day. So they felt that it was worth it to transfer one of them (as long as we were okay with it). And we definitely were okay with it!

They explained that they like to seem them as blastocysts on day 5, but that sometimes they grow slower. Apparently plenty of morulas transferred on day 5 go on to be a healthy pregnancy, and that it only increases our chances. That was fine with us! Our blastocyst was good quality too!

Below you can see the two embryos we transferred. One blastocyst (on right) and one morula (on left)!

The embryo transfer itself is super quick! Once they had me in the OR, they put the ultrasound on my belly. For embryo transfer, you need to have a moderately full bladder. This helps them to visualize the uterus better to ensure proper placement of the embryos. It is so incredibly important that the ET is done correctly! I tried really hard to have my bladder the exact right amount of full for the transfer... and I did! They told me that very rarely do they get to see such a "perfect bladder" at transfer. Apparently it was pretty good, because they continued to talk about it the entire time I was there and said I would win the perfect bladder award. Something to brag about, haha!

For the actual transfer, they put in the speculuum, clean the cervix a bit, and then you're good to go! I was happy to hear that the catheter they used for ET is even smaller than the one used for IUIs. I literally could not even feel it! The RE did a trial transfer first, and then it was time for the real thing. Before I knew it, the embryos were transferred!! Then I was off to my recovery room.

After the transfer, they wheel your bed back into your room, where you stay for about 30 minutes. I was initially really confused, because a nurse popped in and said which kind of chocolate bar would you like? And started listing off flavors. Apparently they give all of the women big chocolate bars after their transfers! It was absolutely delicious too!

Once the 30 minutes was up, I was allowed to get changed and go to the bathroom to empty my (now very full) bladder. Then time to go home! It seemed crazy that something as complex as an embryo transfer can be so quick. Now the waiting begins....

Poke Count
Arms: 9     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 6   Butt: 7

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IVF: Fertilization Report

Yesterday was my egg retrieval! We had 9 eggs collected, which was excellent! But we had to wait until today, more than 24 hours later, to get our fertilization report.

After the egg retrieval yesterday, I didn't even think too much about how many might (or might not) fertilize. I really tried to do my best to spend the day resting and relaxing. This morning I tried to take it easy as well, but was able to get a few things done around the house. I want to make sure I don't over do it and I want my body to be very receptive to accepting an embryo for our transfer.

ICSI was part of our plan, due to low morphology. Most couples at our clinic do ICSI as well, even if it's just elective. So a single sperm is chosen and injected right into the mature egg! Usually there is about an 80% fertilization rate using ICSI.

Our clinic checks the eggs the day after fertilization and then lets us know how things look. I knew to expect the call today after 1pm. As time went on, I got more & more nervous! But thankfully, I didn't have any reason to be. Out of the 9 eggs retrieved, 8 were mature. Of those 8 mature eggs, 6 of them fertilized!! We have 6 embryos growing in the lab right now!

They told me they were very happy with that number! Usually, they want at least 50% of the eggs retrieved to be mature (90% of ours were mature), and of the mature eggs, they want at least 50% to fertilize (we had 75% fertilize). So they said we're ahead of the game! Definitely good to hear.

We are still scheduled for a 5 day transfer on Sunday. We get our next update on Friday to confirm the time of our embryo transfer. We are hoping and praying that our little embabies continue to grow!!

After I got the call, I called my husband to let him know things looked good! I didn't give him the details, other than that things were good and they were happy with how many we had. I left this cute little bowl with quail eggs (we raise quail) on the table, to let him know how many we had!

He thought it was such a cute way to tell him :)

I know that it's unlikely that all of our embryos will make it to day 5, but we would be ecstatic if they did. In reality though, all we need is one good one!

Poke Count
Arms: 9     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 5   Butt: 1

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

IVF: My Egg Retrieval Story!

I couldn't believe today was actually the day! I woke up multiple times in the early morning, checking the clock, worried I would over sleep. Even though that was pretty unlikely, since I wasn't due at the center until 9:15 AM. But still, I kept worrying I'd miss my appointment!

Once both my husband and I were awake, we spent awhile just laying in bed cuddling. It was such a relaxing, comforting morning. I felt surrounded by love! I had already laid out a comfortable outfit the night before. I chose a loose fitting long skirt and a t shirt. It was much too warm for sweat pants and none of my shorts would have felt comfortable on my belly. I didn't have too much to do to get ready. I took a shower and used some fragrance free soap. No makeup was allowed for egg retrieval or anything at all scented. So I simply straightened by hair and put on my glasses (no contacts allowed either), and I was all ready to go! No eating or drinking since midnight, so I couldn't have any breakfast. I was really thirsty!

We got to the center 10 minutes early and got checked in. I soon had to leave my husband in the waiting room as I went back to get changed and prepped. I was able to take my phone with me though, so I was texting him from my hospital bed! I found out that the doctor scheduled to do retrievals that day was on vacation, and it just so happened that my doctor was filling in! That made me incredibly happy because he is the most gentle doctor I've ever met.

After they brought me to my private room, I went over our plans with one of the IVF nurses, such as our plans for ICSI, how many to transfer, and our freezing preferences. We also went over everything I needed to know for the anesthesia. After I got changed and emptied my bladder and the nurse drew a circle on each butt cheek for my PIO shots. Then they wrapped me in a pre-warmed blanket. I waited for about 20 minutes for the current retrieval taking place to be over, so the anesthesiologist could come in and start my IV.

It's a bit funny actually. Even though I've had so much bloodwork and so many shots throughout this process, IVs really gross me out. Believe it or not, it was the only thing I was truly dreading. Which does seem silly, because I've had IVs in the past and I've never ever had a problem. Other than that they gross me out. The anesthesiologist was incredibly warm and friendly. First, he numbed my vein with an injection, which I didn't even feel. Right as he was about to start the IV, my RE came into the room and was able to distract me. Before I knew it, the IV was in!

Once it was all set, they gave me some antibiotics through the IV. The anesthesiologist observed me for a few minutes then left me to rest. That's when things went downhill a bit. I started to get nervous... about the IV of all things. Then started to feel "funny". Then dizzy. So I called them back into the room. It turned out I was having a vasovagal reaction, which apparently is a common thing. They immediately reclined the table to lower my head, started fanning me, put a cool pack behind my neck, and my doctor rushed in to hold my hand. In just a couple of minutes, I felt totally fine! Apparently I was white as a ghost, but then my cheeks started to pink back up again. Crisis averted!

After they were sure I was fine and my vitals were back to normal, they wheeled my bed into the procedure room! They normally have you walk, but after my near fainting spell, they wanted to be cautious. Before I knew it, I was set up in the procedure room for monitoring. The ceiling had a nice decal on it that said "breathe". Everyone was really nice and calming. I had an oxygen mask put on and the medication was given to me through the IV. The anesthesiologist distracted me by talking about my families lake house and boat. That's the last thing I remember. I was totally out after that!!

The next thing I remember, I was waking up back in my room and the nurse was asking me how I was feeling. I was wrapped up in a blanket, with a heating pad on my lower belly. They give everyone some mild pain relief through the IV after the procedure. I had absolutely zero pain thankfully and no cramping or even spotting. I know I asked the nurse at least twice how many eggs were retrieved. I felt groggy for the first 20 minutes or so, and I was apparently quite "chatty" with the nurses! I don't remember any of that of course. My husband was brought in shortly after I woke up, who got me my phone from my locker. I relaxed for about 20 more minutes, and then my IV was removed and I was allowed to get dressed. I was in my room for about 45 minutes total after the retrieval.

We ended up having 9 eggs retrieved!! Which is such a wonderful number to hear. For some reason, the number my husband and I really were hoping for was at least 6. So getting 9 is way more than we were hoping for! I'm not sure exactly how many of them are mature but I will find out when I get the fertilization report tomorrow.

They will use ICSI to fertilize our eggs. ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which is basically a fancy way of saying a single sperm is injected directly into each egg. They will only perform ICSI on mature eggs (immature eggs cannot be fertilized anyway), so we aren't sure how many of the eggs were mature yet. We will find this out when we get the fertilization report!

Once I got home, I relaxed for the rest of the day. I did take a single tylenol just in case, but I don't believe I needed it. I had zero cramping, zero bleeding, zero bloating. Mainly I've just felt extra tired, mostly from all of the stress. I spent the day laying in bed, with our furbabies. My husband was so sweet.. he picked me a bouquet of flowers that you can see above!

Now we just wait! The rest of this process is really just waiting. Waiting to hear how many fertilized, waiting for the embryo transfer, waiting for the pregnancy test... lots of waiting! I will update when we hear from the center, hopefully with good news!

Poke Count
Arms: 9     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 5

Sunday, May 29, 2016

IVF: Trigger Time!!

Today would have been stim day 9, but instead of shots of Gonal F & Menopur, I'll be doing my trigger shot! In my last update, I had written that we were hoping to trigger tomorrow. Based on the sizes of my follicles at my last ultrasound, they had estimated Monday would be trigger day, but had me come in today for another ultrasound check. It's a good thing they did!

My follicles exploded since my last ultrasound! Just take a look at the above picture. Last time, most of them were in the 11-14mm range. but now they are much larger! I was pretty uncomfortable during the ultrasound. Normally they don't bother me, but today there was a lot of pressure. They measured 8 big ones on my right ovary. I'm not sure how many they did not measure this time. On my left side (still next to that big blood vessel), there were two bigger follicles, but still on the smaller side. They will probably grow enough from the trigger to possibly contain mature eggs, but I'm still not sure if they will be able to retrieve any from that side. My lining was 9.9 mm. Hopefully it's nice and cozy in there for my future embaby!

Here's a few more shots from my ultrasound:

After the ultrasound, one of the doctors needed to review my scans to give the okay to trigger. Once that was done, we had our trigger appointment! Basically where we got all of the information we needed for our trigger, retrieval and transfer. I was given instructions for both the full strength and half strength trigger (10,000 units vs 5,000 units), because my E2 was getting a bit on the high side. So depending how my labs come back today, they will make a recommendation on which to use. I'll update this post once I find out! Update: My E2 wasn't too high, so I was able to do the full 10,000 unit trigger. My E2 on the day of trigger ended up being 2933 and my progesterone was still low at 0.7, meaning that we don't have to do a freeze all cycle! I was instructed to do the trigger shot subcutaneously at precisely 11:00 PM Sunday night, for a 10:00 AM retrieval on Tuesday morning!

I have a lot of meds left over, because they had to keep lowering my dosages. So I am planning on holding onto them in case we need to do another cycle. But if this works out, I'm hoping to be able to gift my meds to someone else who needs them.

As of right now, we are scheduled to do a 5 day transfer.. and I'm really hoping we are able to!! If we do a 3 day transfer, it will most likely be transferring 2. That would be on June 3rd. If we do the 5 day transfer as scheduled, that would be on June 5th. Our beta test is scheduled for 14 days past retrieval, which is on June 14th. Right before Father's Day! I'm hoping we get some really wonderful news and are able to celebrate Father's Day, thinking of our future little one!

Poke Count
Arms: 7     Belly: 38     Ultrasounds: 4

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stim Days 7 & 8: How Many Follicles?

On stim day 7 of my IVF cycle, I went in for another follicle count ultrasound! At my last check, on stim day 5, I had 4 measurable follicles plus other smaller ones. I was told that the micro dose lupron flare protocol that I am on tends to move a bit slower than the antagonist protocol, so at that point they were happy with my progress.

By stim day 7, it was time for another check! First I did my blood work, and then headed up for the ultrasound. I was a little nervous. Once I was in the exam room, one of my favorite doctors came in. It was really nice to have her do my scan! The first thing she checked was my lining, which was 8.6 mm. So my lining is already thick enough and is ready to go. My uterus had the 3 stripe pattern that they look for. So all looked good there.

Then it was time to check the follicles. The right ovary was first. As soon as she moved the wand over, you could see a bunch of follicles! Immediate relief from my anxiety! She measured 7 total on that side, ranging from 10-15 mm, with most of them being in the 12-14 range. We were so happy to see them growing evenly! There were also two follicles that looked smaller that were not measured. The doctor said they might still grow and continue to catch up.

Left ovary was next. It was pretty apparent that there wasn't nearly as much going on over there! She measured two follicles, both around 8 mm. There were also two follicles that were smaller and not measured. One of the things I noticed when she was doing my ultrasound, was that she had to put the wand in a kind of strange position to see the ovary on the screen. Now I've had a lot of these ultrasounds, and this has never happened before. But apparently, the left ovary has decided to shift into a funny spot. Which happens to be next to an absolutely huge blood vessel. If it stays in its current position, they are going to have to be extremely cautious attempting to retrieve the eggs from that side. If the eggs on that side don't grow too much, they may not even attempt to retrieve them. But if they appear to have a possibility of containing a mature egg, they will do all they can to retrieve them as long as it's safe to do so.

Based on my follicle sizes and the way they expect things to progress, they currently are expecting me to trigger on Monday with retrieval on Wednesday! Obviously that could change, depending how things look at my next ultrasound.We left the appointment so happy! It really seems like this protocol is working better for my body. We ran into my IVF nurse in the hall, who wanted to hear how things went. I showed her my follicle print out, and she was so happy for us!

Once my labwork came back, I was really interested to hear my E2. In my last update (on stim day 6), my E2 was 1142. By the next day, it was 1653. So originally I was supposed to skip a day of blood work, but because it was still rising quickly they wanted me to come in for another blood draw the next day. Arms are definitely getting a little sore. But they decided to keep my dosage the same for that night, with the possibility of decreasing the Gonal F the next day.

So this morning (stim day 8), I headed off for my blood draw. I got the call this afternoon that my E2 had risen to 2327, which is still rising quickly. The nurse wanted me to review the OHSS symptoms and take steps to prevent it (increase salt, keep drinking fluids, etc). The E2 will continue to rise, so we want to be careful it doesn't rise too fast. So they lowered my Gonal F more than expected, down to 300iu. They kept my Menopur the same (one vial), and kept my microdose lupron the same.

Tomorrow morning I head back for another blood draw (ugh! lol), and another ultrasound. I'm hoping to have a better idea of when we are expected to trigger, after my appointment tomorrow!

Poke Count
Arms: 6     Belly: 36     Ultrasounds: 3

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stim Day 5 & 6: First Follicle Scan!

Yesterday was stim day 5 (and CD 7)! This cycle seems to by going by so quickly. My RE had me come in for my first follicle scan, which was after 4 nights of stims.

I did my bloodwork first and was only the 4th person in line. Once that was done, I went right upstairs for my ultrasound. As you might remember from last cycle, things really started going downhill after our first ultrasound, and the next day we cancelled our cycle and converted it to an IUI. So understandably, I was a little nervous prior to this ultrasound.

I got lucky and one of the main REs did my scan! Usually they have the younger fellowship doctors do them. The first thing they check is your lining. Mine was already at 8.16, which is excellent! Although I'm not surprised because I've never had any issues with my lining. Next, they checked the right ovary. I could immediately tell that the scan looked different than last cycle, which was a good thing! I saw quite a few follicles. The doctor measured the four of them that were above ten. There were two at 11mm and two at 13mm. As for the smaller ones, he believed he saw 3 under ten. Next they did the left ovary. I honestly didn't get a good look at this side, because I felt a lot of pressure when the probe was shifted. But none were above ten on that side, but he saw 3 clearly.

Overall, there were 4 follicles slightly above 10mm, and 6 under 10mm. Definitely better than where we were at last cycle!

But I still had to wait until the afternoon for my bloodwork results. I was happy to hear that my E2 came back at 749! Two days prior it was 234, so it more than doubled. Definitely rising quickly. So as a result, they lowered me down to 1 vial of menopur (I was previously on 2 vials). Because it was rising so fast and they had adjusted my dose, I had to go back for blood work again the next morning (which was today).

Today was stim day 6. This morning's bloodwork came back with my E2 at 1142! So still rising very quickly. That explains the headache I've had, which can be caused by hormones rising. My IVF nurse mentioned that they don't want me to go too quickly, so they are now lowering my Gonal F to 375iu (down from 450iu). With the way the numbers are looking, they feel pretty strongly that the smaller follicles are growing too! Which is exactly what we are hoping for.

I've been drinking ridiculous amounts of water, along with coconut water. And I am still thirsty! I am still feeling tired and have a dull headache. My tummy is still bloated and a little puffy. But I'm happy to say that after 28 shots, my tummy is not bruised or even sore! I can't even find where my previous injections were done. I do have a patch of irritated skin from a band aid I put on.. which I think is a little funny. 28 injections leave no mark, but one silly little band aid did? Thankfully I took it off as soon as I noticed it was bothering my skin.

I go back tomorrow morning for another blood draw and ultrasound. Hoping things look good in there and that those follicles are growing. I'm not sure when retrieval will be yet and we will know more once we see the sizes of the follicles. Keeping my fingers crossed all goes well tomorrow!

Poke Count
Arms: 4     Belly: 28     Ultrasounds: 2

Monday, May 23, 2016

IVF Cycle Day 1-5!

Today is already CD 5! So far, I've had 1 ultrasound, 2 blood draws, and 16 injections. Everything has been going very smoothly and all my injections have been painless.

The first two days of my cycle, I only used the microdose lupron twice a day. The purpose of the microdose lupron was to cause a FSH flare, to hopefully "wake up" all those follicles and take advantage of my body's ability to create it's own FSH. After those first two days, we added in the Gonal F (450iu) and Menopur (150iu), both injected in the evenings.

I was initially a tiny bit nervous about the Menopur injections, because I've heard countless times that it burns quite a bit. But I am so happy to report that my injections have been absolutely painless! My two tips are: 1) After mixing and drawing up the Menopur, let it sit for about 15 minutes so the powder can fully dissolve. 2) Inject it slowly. Don't be tempted to go quickly just to get it over with!

This morning was my first blood draw since my baseline. My doctor had asked me to come in early just to make sure I'm not responding too quickly, since I'm on the maximum dose of stims. Here's an updated copy of my stim plan:

As for side effects... I'm starting to feel tired. And just like last cycle, I'm very thirsty and have a good amount of EWCM. I've felt some twinges in the ovary area, but I know from experience that it's not a good indication of what's actually going on. My doctor had explained to me that abdominal cramps/pain/twinges are really difficult to interpret because of the way the nerves are in the pelvic region. I'll take his word for it! My lower tummy is also starting to get puffy and bloated, which I think is from all the shots. It happened last cycle too, but not until a bit later on in the cycle.

As for my blood work results.. everything looked good!! After 4 days of the microdose lupron and 2 nights of stims, my E2 rose from 45 at my baseline to 234 today! My doctor was very happy with that number and they told me everything looked perfect. My P4 and LH also came back perfect. So for now, everything is going really well! Last cycle, after 2 nights of stims my E2 went from 50 to 146. That's all I really have to compare it to. Based on that, it seems to be rising a bit faster than last time. So I hope that's a good sign!

I don't have any appointments tomorrow, but will go back the day after tomorrow for my first ultrasound since my baseline as well as another blood draw. Things started to go downhill after my first ultrasound last cycle, so we're hoping that appointment goes a bit better this time around!

Poke Count
Arms: 2     Belly: 16     Ultrasounds: 1

Thursday, May 19, 2016

CD 1: IVF Baseline + First Injections!

Today was CD 1 for me, which meant this was the first day of my IVF cycle! Since I was on birth control prior to starting this cycle, my baseline was planned ahead of time rather than needing to schedule it when AF arrived. So we started on CD 1 rather than CD 2 or 3.

First things first, I needed my blood drawn for E2, FSH, LH, P4, and HCG (can't be too careful!). My nurse usually calls me in the early afternoon with my results. One of the things I absolutely love about my IVF center is the phlebotomists. The are seriously amazing. I have always, always, always hated getting my blood drawn. It's always hurt me to have it drawn and I, without fail, get a nasty bruise that lasts 1-2 weeks. But at my IVF center... they are just SO good. They use the smaller needles and are serious experts at finding veins and making the process painless and quick. I never thought I'd see the day that I didn't dread bloodwork. And I never thought I could tolerate having bloodwork daily!

Next was the ultrasound. My lining was already down to 4mm, which is good. I was pretty nervous to see my ovaries, because last cycle it seemed like my antral follicle count was lower than normal. In hindsight, I wonder if that could have indicated that cycle was going to be an "off" cycle for me? I'm not sure. But my follicle count was great today! Back to what it normally is, which is 7-8 per ovary. So I had a huge sigh of relief when I heard that!

After my ultrasound, we met with one of the IVF nurses to just go over everything. She was such a positive, bubbly person and said that she feels really strongly that this will work for us. Which is so nice to hear! She also gave me some interesting information about how people respond to IVF meds. She said that someone can do two IVF cycles, with exactly the same protocol, with no changes, and have drastically different results. So what I was told about there being times when you have an off cycle does seem to be true! And she said there are studies to back it up. But we'll have to see how I respond this time, to see if last time was just something weird, or if I really do have an issue somewhere.

Since everything looked great, I was cleared to start my injections! Once we got home, I got my first MicroDose Lupron injection ready. These injections truly are a breeze. The needles are just so tiny! I didn't even feel it go in at all. I will do these injections every 12 hours until trigger time.

So it's official... this IVF cycle has started! :)

Poke Count
Arms: 1     Belly: 2     Ultrasounds: 1

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

IVF Medication Cost For The MicroDose Lupron Flare Protocol

In my last post, I explained the new IVF protocol that we are going to try this cycle, which is the MicroDose Lupron Flare Protocol. Sometimes you'll hear it called the Micro Flare Protocol, or the MDL Protocol. This is a much more aggressive protocol that many couples have success with. But being more aggressive usually means more medications! And the cost reflects that.

For those of us that pay out of pocket for all or part of our treatment, cost is pretty important! It's also one of the things that, in my research, I had the hardest time finding information about. Obviously the cost varies depending on the pharmacy and medication prices do fluctuate, but I wanted to share our costs in case anyone out there finds it helpful.

I'll list my meds from most expensive to least expensive.

Gonal-F Redi-Ject Pen

For my protocol, I needed five 900iu pens. Each pen also has 75iu of overfill of medication, which you can use. The price for each pen was $714, for a grand total of $3,570. I got lucky and had one pen left over from last cycle (thanks to being able to use the overfill in the pens for my last dose!), so that cut my cost a little bit. Plus it was nice to not waste meds that I had previously purchased! My dosage will be 450iu each day.


My nurse ordered 24 75iu vials of Menopur, with me using 2 vials each day. So I will be using a total of 150iu of Menopur each day. The price per vial was $79.90, for a grand total of $1,917.60.

MicroDose Lupron

MicroDose Lupron is not the same as regular Lupron that is used in the Long Lupron Protocol. This medication is mixed up by your pharmacist, so it is diluted to the proper strength. The pharmacy I use mixes it in large batches, sends it out for testing to make sure the potency is exactly what they want, and then package it in individual vials. The cost for the entire vial was $125.

Pregnyl Trigger

It seems like most triggers, no matter what brand, are all around the same price. The total for the Pregnyl was $92.

Progesterone in Oil

This is the intramuscular progesterone, sometimes called PIO. My nurse ordered me 3 vials. I did not use these last cycle, so I didn't have to order anymore. The price per vial was $27.03, for a total of $81.08.

Syringes + Needles

For all the various needles and syringes I needed, the total was $36

Overall Medication Price: $5767.63

This is quite a bit more than last cycle with the antagonist protocol, but there are quite a bit more meds this time! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

MicroDose Lupron Flare Protocol for IVF #2

For IVF attempt #2, our RE has decided to put me on a much more aggressive protocol. To remind you, our first IVF cycle was converted to an IUI due to a poor response/lead group of follicles. This was totally unexpected! I've always had lots of follicles on my ovaries, a high AMH, and I am young. My RE was had said I had a higher risk of OHSS! But nothing is guaranteed in IVF, and you need to expect the unexpected.

Last cycle, my RE said that there might be something subtle and undetectable going on with me. And it might explain why our "mild" male factor has been giving us such a hard time conceiving - perhaps it's not really the male factor at all! Surely not what we wanted to hear. We got the impression that he's viewing it more as an "unexplained" infertility issue now, because my lab results simply do not match my response.

So we are going at this full throttle! A really aggressive approach, meant to maximize the number of follicles that develop and continue to recruit them as the cycle goes on. Last cycle I was on the antagonist protocol, and this cycle I will be on the MicroDose Lupron Flare Protocol (MDL). Here's a copy of my stim plan, and feel free to click on it to make it larger.

Here's how the protocol works. After my period arrived, I started birth control on CD 3. This is where I am currently in our cycle. I will be on the birth control for only 11 days, so I don't get over suppressed. After taking the last birth control pill, I will take no meds for 2 days. On the third day (which will actually be CD 1), I will have my baseline bloodwork and ultrasound, as well as start a light period that day. After my appointment, if I am given the all clear, I will start the microdose lupron that day. The microdose lupron is a diluted form of lupron and it's given in small doses, each 12 hours apart. I will use only 10 units for each dose, with two doses a day. When used in this way, the lupron actually has a stimulating effect and produces a "FSH flare". This takes advantage of your bodies own FSH production.

On CD 3, I start my Gonal F and Menopur. This cycle I will be taking 450iu of Gonal F and 150iu (two vials) of Menopur each day. That's a grand total of 4 shots a day! Two lupron shots, and then 1 of Gonal F and 1 of Menopur. On CD 6, I return for bloodwork to check my E2 and P4 levels. I will return again on CD 8 for bloodwork and an ultrasound to check my progress. My stim plan is blank after that point, because the rest depends on how I respond to the meds!

My medications arrived a couple of days ago... and we will be starting my injections next week! Hoping this cycle works a little better for me and trying to stay really positive about our chances.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Another Chemical Pregnancy?!

Well, this cycle has certainly been full of surprises. A quick reminder of how things have happened: I started our first IVF cycle on the antagonist protocol, ended up developing a lead group of follicles (a few pulled ahead and grew faster than the rest, the smaller ones shrank), and we decided to convert to an IUI. Definitely not what we, or our RE, had planned or hoped for.

The IUI itself went well. Nothing we haven't done before! This was our 7th IUI, ugh. I had 3-4 mature follicles by the time the IUI was done, my lining was over 10mm days before the IUI.. everything certainly looked good! My nurse did the IUI and it was painless.

I decided to test out my trigger, and wasn't going to test anymore after it was out. Or at least that's what I thought I would do! But the day after the trigger seemed "out" to me, I decided spur of the moment to take a test with SMU...

Seriously?! We just couldn't believe it. It was so unlikely to happen.. yet it did! We had a few days of happiness, planning on sharing the news with my family on Mother's Day, looking up when our due date would be... But unfortunately, it did not stick. Suddenly, my tests were drastically lighter. And then I started spotting.

AF is here now, and with a vengeance! And lots of cramps. This is definitely a disappointment. At first, we thought we had our miracle! But it quickly turned out, we didn't. Chemical pregnancies are so common... but that doesn't make them any easier. Especially when you have to try so hard and long to see those two lines.

But we are looking ahead to the future, with a positive mindset. I have my new IVF protocol, my meds ordered, and we will be getting started very soon! I will do another post about our new protocol and what is to come :) But for now, we're just thankful for the good things we have and all the happiness in our lives.