my Self

My photo
Fort St John, BC, Canada
My husband, David, and I had been trying to have a baby since November of 2007. After 'letting things happen', we got the amazing news that we were pregnant in June of 2008. Sadly, that pregnancy ended at 9 weeks with a natural miscarriage. After two more chemical pregnancies, we turned to fertility treatments in 2009. That decision was a disaster, with lousy medical care and poor monitoring. In December of 2009, we made the huge decision to move onto IVF. Things fell into place like magic and we began treatment on January 15, 2010. After a blighted ovum in March, we did a successful FET in June, only to endure another blighted ovum in July. We kept up and underwent another IVF in September/October of 2010 with the arrival of our son, Brogan in July of 2011! After our lovely success (finally) we decided to undertake yet another IVF treatment and hope for a sibling for our little red headed boy. Well... so far it's worked. Our story continues below!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

15 for 15!

Our embryos are now two days old.  We got the call this  morning and found out that all fifteen of them are dividing and growing!  We were thrilled and so was the nurse.  They are all four cells (they hope for at least two) exept for two stragglers which are three celled.  The nurse said those ones were just a little slower but still looking good. 

We didn't have any 'excellent' embryos but we didn't have any 'poor' either.  They were all considered 'average' to 'very good'. 

This picture is what most of our embryos look like today.

David went back this afternoon after we criss crossed all over the city looking for Dim Sum.  My gosh you'd think that there are enough english speaking people in the city that they would have english on the menus!  We had to leave two restaurants becuase we couldn't read the menus and didn't feel like spending our meal time trying to figure out Chinese or being figured out!  We finally found an amazing place that had amazing food and we enjoyed one of our favorite out of town traditions. 

It was pretty difficult to leave the airport.  I've spent a lot of time alone here, undergoing a lot of emotional stress and worry, and having my big, protective husband around for a week was beyond relief.  It's a wee bit harder now, in fact, because I don't have any appointments or needles or places to be.  I just wait for that one phone call in the morning.  I have Monday and Tuesday to do nothing and then the transfer on Wednesday. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Right On The Money

Well I said I wanted 20 eggs and we got 22.  I thought at least 15 should fertlize and that's what we got.  I'm gonna say I want at least 11 of them to get to Day Five - think I can manifest that one? 

I am thrilled with the 15 being fertilized.  All 22 were mature so I had a bit of a talk with David about his 'boys' not pulling through, and he said he would have a serious talk with them as to why they left seven of my 'girls' hanging. 

What they consider a normal fertilization can be seen in the photo to the left.  There are two little circles in the egg and those represent both the male and female nucleus.  Having only one nuclei means too much genetic or too little genetic material and the egg has been abnormally fertilized.

All 15 of our eggs had normal fertilization.  Somewhere in a warm lab there are 15 petri dishes with mine and David's DNA.  Freak-y. 

What we're hoping for tomorrow is that those 15 embryos will begin dividing and turn into two or four cell embryos.  Four is better than two.  So again, we wait and wait and distract ourselves until the all important phone call.

Egg Retrieval

On Friday morning we went to the clinic for the egg retrieval.  We arrived a bit early, which was a good thing as they took an extra 15 minutes trying to get a good vein for my IV.  I changed into a hospital gown, and a great nurse came in to explain things to us and start the IV.  She got the vein on the first poke, but there was a bit of a 'leak' and I bled all over the white leather chair I was sitting in.  I felt terrible at the mess, and so did the nurse! 

Then the embryoligist came in, a really warm, personable woman who took more time to explain what she would be doing with our eggs when they were retrieved, and more about the incubation process, then one of the clinic doctors, Dr. Seetham, came in and again went through things with us. 

David went his way at that point, and I went into the operating room.  The doctor asked what kind of music I preferred and after putting some tunes on, he began to prepare for the procedure.  The table had stirrups, which was kind of strange because it reminded me of a birthing bed.  When they strapped my legs in, I kind of figured things might be a 'teeny' bit more intense than I was expecting.   

The drugs they gave me induced a 'heavy' feeling, but I never really got the buzz they had made me anticipate.  I felt a good pinch when the needle first went in, and the first ovary - the left, was extremely uncomfortable, but not exactly painful.  There were a lot of eggs and things took longer than anticipated.  I suspect that's why the second side hurt so much... the drugs had started to wear off.  When we moved over to the rigtht side, the poke through the vaginal wall was more than a pinch.  I felt it, and it hurt. 

Then came the pokes to the ovary on the rigtht side.  The follicles were big and there were lots of them.  I realized, watching the ultrasound screen, that the needle had to go through the ovary to get to the follicles on the backside.  By this time, I could see each time the needle poked through the follicle, and dreaded the pain that came with it.  At the end of it all, I was actually moaning with each movement of the needle.  

Keep in mind, the needle was inserted over 20 times into my ovaries.   My raw and swollen, tender ovaries that were heavy with ready-to-pop, angry, red follicles (see pic at bottom of the blog!).  By the end of it all, I was near tears, but still insisting that the doctor keep going and get all that he could.  The entire process took about 10 to 15 minutes. 

The coolest part of it all was that the nurses kept taking vials of fluid over to the embryologist and came back with ongoing reports as to how many eggs they had. 

So I'm strapped into stirrups, with a doctor 'down there' doing his thing, I'm moaning in pain, and every few moments a nurse comes in and cheerfully announces, "We got three more!, Up to ten now!"   I had to laugh.. it was kind of like hearing 'It's a boy! or It's a girl!'  And at the end, I really didn't care how many freakin' eggs they had, I was just ready to it to stop.

I do remember muttering at one point that "David is having a MUCH better time." and everyone laughing.  Glad I can be of some relief to all in the room!

Then I was back in recovery and feeling a lot, lot better.  The swollen follicles removed, the invading blade of steel no longer invading my body, and seeing David again made things a lot more pleasant.  They gave us the total number of eggs retrieved... 22!  We were really happy.  I kept saying throughout that I wanted at least 20. 

Today (Saturday) we'll find out how many eggs were mature and fertilized.  I'm nervous about it, but so far things have gone well so I'm starting to be more optimistic then I wanted to be.  We'll see what happens.  The clinic said they get an average 70% fertilization rate, which means we should get about 15 fertilized eggs.  I will most likely be very anxious when that phone rings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Almost There!

So... We had our ultrasound yesterday and the doctor was still really happy with the results.  Yay!  He did want to do one more day of stims (yuck on more pokes), so we left with more drugs and determined to just be patient. 

David got into town on Tuesday and it was so awesome to see him at last.  We came back to the hotel and I made a pretty good veggie/chicken stirfry which we devoured before falling into a troubled sleep.  It's hard to be calm when so much is happening.  I kept waking up every couple of hours, not wanting to miss our next 7:30 a.m. morning appointment.

My veins are really tough to get, and there seems to be just one spot on one arm that will give up any of the red stuff at the best of times.  So the last six or so blood draws have been from that one place.  Let me tell you, it's bruised and raw.  Hopefully it gets to heal a bit before the next poke.

One more shot - the HCG shot tonight at 9 p.m.  I'm also on antibiotics for five days just to make sure there's no rogue infection

So anyhow, we went for the ultrasound and bloodwork again this morning.  I feel so pampered with the doctors actually doing something and making sure that I am monitored.  I never even had one blood draw the entire time I was on injectables with Dr. You Know Who in Fort St John.  Sigh.  Let it go, Sonya, let it go. 

Focus.... back to the ultrasound.  We have a TON of follicles that were all around 17mm.  Perfect!  The doctor never even bothered to count all of them.  He just said to trigger tonight and be back on Friday morning for the egg retrieval. 

So if you're curious as to what happens with the egg retrieval.. here's a picture that might help.  Those angry, swollen round things?  Those are the follicles.  They contain fluid and the all important egg.  The needle pierces the follicles and removes everything inside. 

Yes, that's a needle, and yes, it is inserted through the vaginal wall.  Yes, I will be sedated!  After all the retrieval process is completed, each egg is put into a petri dish, the sperm added, and then nature takes it's course.  Ha Ha  Like nature is part of this process.  (just kidding... no offense to the Mother Nature!).

So then the eggs will be incubated and watched carefully.  We get a call on Saturday, and every day, to tell us how the embies are doing and if we do a three or five day transfer.  So I'll officially be pregnant on either Monday or Wednesday.   If I get my period in two weeks, I'll no longer be pregnant, but until that happens (or please, does NOT happen), I'm considered pregnant.  Knocked up in a most un-traditional way.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just a Quickie

The appointment today went great.  I sure miss David... I call him on the drive to the clinic, tell him what's going on (again) and share my feelings with him, promise to call when I'm all done.  There are lots of couples in the waiting room and it makes me kind of lonely. 

We had difficulty getting blood again, the nurse seemed nervous about continually poking me.  I kept reassuring her because I was determined she was going to get a vein.  After about 10 minutes we finally found one.  It was worth the wait because my estrogen has shot up to a much more reasonable 1945.

We have 8 follicles on the left side:
11.5 / 11.5 / 11 / 10.5 / 9.5 / 9 / 8.5 and a few stragglers

We have 5 follicles on the right side:
15 / 14 / 10.5 / 10.5 / 8 and a few stragglers

The lining is a great 9.4

We are geared for triggering on Tuesday night.  The doctor gave me one day's grace to come over and be with my sister, so no monitoring until Tuesday morning!  Tuesday will be a BIG day... monitoring, David gets into town, and then the trigger shot!  I'm a little sad that he won't be here for the egg transfer, but that's life.  I'm just grateful all is turning out well so far. 

The doctor hopes to get around 13 - 15 eggs and the clinic has an 80% fertilization rate on average, so that means we'll get about 10 - 12 fertilized eggs. 

Very tired after a long day's travel, but happy to be at my sister's house and that things are going smoothly.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Needles

It has to be noted.  This is what I am doing every night.  These are the vials of drugs that I'm pumping into my body, causing my ovaries into hyper-overdrive and hopefully producing the egg that we might one day be madly in love with. 

Four vials of Bravelle, mixed with two vials of Menopur in 1 cc of Saline...

The cool thing between the needle and the bottle is called a Q-Cap... makes mixing the drugs a lot easier..  First you fill the needle with 1 cc of saline...

Then you reconstitute the powdered medication in the bottles by injecting the saline into each bottle, and swirling it around until it's completely clear, then draw up the saline mixture again using the Q-Cap and continue until all of the vials are mixed into the saline.

After removing the Q-Cap you replace it with the needle, and boom.  Several hundreds of dollars' worth of drugs in this tiny needle.  I would make a really lousy druggie.

Guilt and her Best Friend, Doubt.

Maybe it's the hormones.  Maybe it's just a dose of reality.  What the holy fuck am I doing?  My life is so wonderful, with so much love and adventure and more stability than I ever dreamt possible.  And yet, I am spending all this time and money, searching for more.  This time away from my business could be spent keeping things together (although the girls are doing amazing and it's good for them in many ways) but I feel so helpless and selfish. 

And the money.  Gawd.  My doctor doubled my meds so of course it's double the price.  About $350 a day.  Granted this money will be paid back to us, but still.  It seems like such a waste on a 'maybe' pregnancy.  I mean, what if it all works and then I just miscarry again?  Is it fair to create life so it can die?  Isn't that the most selfish thing you can possibly think of?  Well if you also pay excessive amounts of money to do it, that's the most selfish, right?

This money could go towards education, for my kids, or to help Mase and Jay with their new home, or to get Jerry into more schooling, or help him start his business, or towards our home, or retirement.  No it's all going into drugs and expenses.

And what if I fail?  What if all this produces nothing but emptiness.

Okay I admit that watching "A Baby Story" on TLC is most likely one of the more brain dead things I've done.  I mean, they never show the dads who are sobbing because their wives are bleeding out another miscarriage, or a woman who is watching the entire world give birth while she sits crying in a hotel room, feeling foolish and useless.  Everyone on that show gets a baby.  Maybe I should call them to follow my story and we'll get a child, it's much better for ratings all the way around.

So they tried once to get blood this morning, but had issues finding a vein, and the doctor was much more interested in an ultrasound.  We went from 8 leading follicles to 14 that were all somewhere between 7.5 and 12.  So I guess that's good.  But I have to go back for monitoring on Saturday morning.  That really messes up my visit to the Island, where my sis is having chemo and I want to be there more than anything.

Gah.  I'm a mess.  Doubled up on my meds now so hopefully we get great news on Saturday.  I'm really not even going to dream about an actual pregnancy.  It's just not worth it right now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 19th & 20th - "I-R-Turtle"

Hey friendly faces... thanks for stopping by once again to curiously check out my progress on the surreal journey to maybe-baby-land.  

I'm in the hotel room.  It's a friendly little hotel room.  Clean, plenty of space, in a quiet area with a comfy bed and charming (okay teeny) little kitchen area that I've been somewhat successfully cooking in.  The people running the place are very friendly and patient with me checking in and checking out to try and spend time with my sis.  I'll be heading over to see her on the Island first thing again Friday morning.

So Monday morning I went in for a pretty routine bloodwork test and found out my E2 (estrodiol) was a nice 560.  The rest of the day was pretty boring and I mainly rested in between bouts of exploring the city, which really was trying to find my way to do a simple errand and lead to a three hour drive trying to get back.  Tuesday was pretty much more of the same, although I must say I am getting better at becoming un-lost.

This morning (20th) I went in for my second ultrasound to find out how many follicles we were growing.  I was nervous!  The doctor was extremely happy with my results...
Rt. Ovary - 4 follicles between 7.3 and 12 mm and 'more than ten'  smaller follicles
Lft.  Ovary - 4 follicles between 8.9 and 10.9 mm and 'more than ten' smaller follicles
Lining - 6.7 mm

That means we have 8 dominant follicles and more than twenty following up!  The doctor said it was 'excellent' progress and is keeping me on the same dose of meds, adding one more to the cocktail to prevent me from early ovulation.

Retrieval of the eggs is still scheduled for early next week, Tuesday or Wednesday, which is just PERFECT as David arrives on Monday. 

I came back to the room and called David, who was astonished at hearing I was growing 30 eggs.  You're not my wife, he said, you're a turtle.  Will you dig a hole in the sand and lay the eggs?  Do we need to keep you away from the beach?  LOL  I love that he still makes me giggle through all this.

 I am starting to feel the physical effects of the follicles.  A woman's ovaries are about the size of small plums.  Now I have at least four follicles measuring around 1cm on each ovary, along with 10+ smaller (I'm guessing .5mm or so) follicles.  So it's like having 15 large peas on a small plum.  Do you just love, love, love my food references?  Okay.. veggies and fruit are not usually good combinations, lets go with 15 small blueberries on a small plum.  Really, stop grinning and imagine that.  Now imagine those 15 small blueberries being 15 large blueberries.  A follicle is considered mature when it's 1.8cm big.   So what we're dealing with is a seriously pimpled, swollen, tender ovary times two.  Somehow bringing all my favorite snug jeans seems like a really stupid idea now.  Me thinks I will browse the malls for some more forgiving lower half clothing choices.

Update ***  Seems my E2 was not rising as quickly as he expected.  So I got my Bravelle dose upped to 225 IU and another ultrasound and blood draw tomorrow morning.  I'm kind of excited to see how the follies are doing, but a little nervous about the issue of low E2.  It's super early so hopefully we can bring things in line soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 15th - 18th Adventures in IVFLand

I’m writing this while sitting in a tiny rental car. There seems to be free public wireless available, but so far the little icon shows a dancing yellow ‘trying to connect’ dot instead of actually being online.

So anyhow, I’m in this tiny rental car, on a huge loading dock leading up to the ferry terminal in Nanimo. It’s dark. It’s raining. I feel deliciously alone. I’m in a warm, safe cocoon with excellent music resonating all around. Songs of the seventies, the good ones… and a mixture of newer stuff... All musical delights which I can freely sing along with because there is no panel of judges to hear my wondrously off key voice. I mean, who can really sing “Rocket Man” and hit those high notes properly?

My dining choices are just as delicate. An illegal hit of heavily sugared Red Bull and equally heavily salted, crunchy kernels of shelled sunflower seeds. Dinner of the Gods and fat women everywhere.

*contented sigh*
Okay, so some catching up, avid reader, curious by-passer, disapproving relative, or true friend… some catching up.

The (Almost Non-Flight) Flight

Let’s start with the flight to Vancouver. I booked my flight, oh, about three weeks before departure. I checked my ticket and time about ten times before the flight was due. I checked in online, I printed my boarding pass. I had a 7:30 a.m. appointment the next morning, to start off what could be one of the biggest events of my life. We paid for our spot at the poker table, I had to be there to play the hand. You get my drift?

So anyhow, poker analogies aside, I worked my proverbial ass off all day to finish up everything I possibly could, rushed out of the store to retrieve my luggage and hurried over to the youngest of my litter’s worksite so he could drive me to the airport. That says something, doesn’t it? You might want to consider yourself a little too old to be squeezing out offspring when you have offspring old enough to have a worksite and credit card. Just a thought.

We arrived at the airport, and I excitedly draw up to the check in counter, weigh my ridiculously heavy suitcase and present required items of identification. So far, so good. Then the woman at the (AIR CANADA) unnamed airline counter says, “I’m really glad you checked in, you almost didn’t make it.”

I looked with panic at my ticket, then the clock on the wall. “Doesn’t my flight start boarding in 40 minutes?” I asked, horrified that I might have gotten my time mixed up.

“Oh,” she replied, “you’re here in lots of time, it’s just that you are the last passenger we’re letting on the flight. We’ve overbooked by seven people. If you hadn’t checked in, you might not have made it.”

I was just floored. I asked for clarification, “You mean, there are people on this flight who paid and are expecting to fly out of here and they won’t be permitted to board?”

“Yes, it’s policy, every airline does it,” she confirmed.

“Westjet doesn’t.” I countered, in defiance of my favorite company/airline of all time. “I’ve shown up ten minutes before takeoff and they would run with me to the aircraft… And… I paid for this flight, I have a really, really, really important medical appointment in Vancouver tomorrow morning. I would have been on this flight tonight, no matter what.”

“You wouldn’t have been on the flight if I said you wouldn’t be on the flight,” she retorted in that ‘don’t fuck with me, I’m an official person with power’ voice. “I’ll be telling seven people they won’t be on this flight – I hate that part of my job.”

Feeling sorry for my ill fated travel counterparts, but very thankful that I’d made it through the castors of injustice without harm, I just shook my head and went on to board the flight. Uneventful for the most part, just stormy and windy and dark, but upon touching down in Vancouver, I groaned loudly… I realized I’d left my precious baby binder on the couch in my Fort St John living room. Car confirmations, directions, signed medical releases, meds calendar (that one was a biggie – will explain soon), phone numbers… EVERYTHING to do with this journey was documented in beautiful pages and bound on plastic protective sleeves and in that freaking binder.

In Vancouver At Last

That was my first real feeling of despair. My first dawning realization of how alone I really was… how real that tiny knot of fear and doubt in my stomach really was… my first questioning of what I was doing and if it was right. Fighting panic and exhaustion and a dragging fear that that blue binder was not the only thing I’d left behind, I hurried through baggage and managed to get my car. I couldn’t find our GPS from the house when I left so I rented one at a staggering price of $210 (will be returning it, I bought another for a fraction of the rental cost) and found my little car, who was waiting patiently and bravely in the underground garage.

For ten minutes I struggled with the GPS. It had last been rented to someone who spoke German, and so of course, the instructions to change from German to English were, in German. This did nothing to ease my distrust of my decision that this was a good idea. Finally I managed to decipher the tiny computer and off we wandered.

The highways were very crowded. It was pouring rain and exceptionally dark. I have a stigmatism which makes night driving difficult. It makes night driving in rain downright dangerous. All the lights are like explosions that create a kaleidoscope of vivid, moving colors that completely obliterate any trace of highway, lines, and most signs. Yay. Happy, happy times. To top it off, the freaking GPS was on ‘simulation mode’ and kept telling me to turn in 2.1 kilometers… for nearly fifteen minutes.

I reached the hotel, not near tears, but nearing the near tears stage. I was utterly exhausted, totally worried about the shop back home, strained from the travel and visionary issues and freaked out to the point of panic at the amount of money we’d laid on the line. I don’t even know how to f*cking play poker, I thought to myself, miserably.

The room wasn’t too bad. I’d passed what looked like a haven of stress-related eating delicacies, a somewhat authentic looking and reputable pizza joint and hastily called to place my order of comfort food. A cheesy, saucy contraption, wrapped in a classy cardboard box  might even be waiting on the table when I opened the door, I fantasized.... No such luck, but it wasn’t far behind.

After finding the essentials (remote, light switches, internet connection) I settled in, somewhat comforted by the hot cheese of the (also illegal) pizza. Called David. Reported on the highlights. Fell into a troubled sleep.

The Clinic
The morning drive was less busy, just as dark, even more wet. Downpour is not quite the word. I found the clinic without issue, but the two minutes it took to figure out the parking meter and get inside left me looking like I’d just stepped out of the shower. I proceeded directly to the bathroom where I used paper towels to dry my hair. I was still not feeling the love for this adventure, ya know?

The waiting room was really, really quiet, even though there were a lot of people in it. Mental note to suggest a radio, some music, dividing walls, something to ease the discomfort in that waiting room! Anyhow, the staff were great. I got my blood drawn with minimal discomfort, was told to go pee, and then await my ultrasound. It was like being in a herd of cows. A bunch of women waiting to get blood drawn, then to gain access to the bathroom to empty bladders, then to get prodded by the vet, I mean, Reproductive Endocrinologist, to check our prospective breedability.

The only really interesting moment was when the doctor said my lining was a little too thick and requested a pregnancy test. I’ve peed on so many of those strips and failed to produce a line that I really wasn’t concerned, of course, it was negative. I just hadn’t had AF yet.

On My Way To The Island & Some Instructions From The Nurse

I hurried into my little silver car and headed for the ferry terminal. My sister lives on the Island and I wanted to spend a few days with her since I didn’t have to be back until Monday night. During my drive through the city, that I am not familiar with, that had rush hour downtown traffic, that I was relying on a GPS to guide me through, the clinic called. I pulled over to the side of the road and got the stats. Everything was fine. E2 was at 85 (very good, the nurse said), and we were good to go.

Start meds tomorrow. That would be, start meds on the SIXTEENTH. Oh, remember back in early January when I got my first calendar? It said FIFTEENTH for starting meds. That’s one-five, not one-six. This little change in days didn’t seem to penetrate through my stretched-taut, sleep deprived, on the verge of being on the verge of tears, multitasking brain.

I proceeded to the ferry terminal. Somewhere on the drive, I found a good music station, the sun began to shine, and my hopes and spirits began to shift from a gloomy and ominous grey to a somewhat lighter shade of yellow with a few pink tinges of hope drifting through the veil. I started to relax, to enjoy the trip, to talk to passengers, and watch people. By the time I got to my sister’s place, I was in good spirits, could handle the car (no more turning on the wipers when I was looking for the turn signals), and was happy to be with family.

The Extreme Screw Up

We visited, had dinner, and I went and took my first round of meds. Yeah. You heard that right. I TOOK MY FIRST ROUND OF MEDS. It wasn’t until later that I realized…. It was not the one-six day of the month, it was the one-five day of the month. I took my first round a whole day early. Gawd-damn, sum-bitch, as my father used to say.  Had I brought my precious blue binder, I would have seen that I'd replaced my old schedule (the one that I'd memorized every detail of) with a new one that I'd gotten in the mail a day before I left.  Stating to start on the SIXTEENTH.

Called the clinic the next morning, where I was told that my partner was going to have to be more aware of the schedule… and had to admit to them that it was me, all me. Everything was fine, they said, they would just have to move the entire thing up one day early. Cool, except that we were trying to stretch it out so David could be there to inseminate my eggs without putting his extremely important career on the line. Oops. Again… Gawd-damn, sum-bitch.

David took the news in stride and we are still hoping everything will work out easily. I spent a couple of days with my sister, who, poor girl, is fighting a mighty battle with cancer and had just undergone a rough chemo treatment. I was able to help her through a rough night and day, including a four hour trip to emergency to monitor an alarming fever. We had some great talks, a few tears and a few laughs. I am sorry to cut our visit short by a day. I am going to try to be back on the island for the weekend, to help her through the next round.

And that brings me, dear reader, to where I am now. Page four on Microsoft Word (no internet, will cut and paste this later), now on the main passenger deck of the ferry, sharing my space with a whole lot of strangers, snippets of conversation floating through the air instead of my music, bright government issued light sources instead of the soft glow of my screen and the rain streaks on the windshield. More rainy, nighttime driving through a foreign city ahead of me, but I am feeling good. Hopeful, grateful, excited…. And happy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting Ready!

I'm waivering.  Between holding onto my determination to be 'realistic' and just letting myself believe the best possible outcome just might be my reality.  I'm really wondering if my holding back emotionally can have a negative effect on the outcome.  My little voice, the one way down deep inside is really hopeful. 

Sometimes in the middle of the day I'll let my mind wander to what it would be like.  I can imagine the dense heaviness of having a baby growing inside me.  The wonderment of the rolling sensation when the baby begins to move, and the waterfall of emotion that comes throughout the entire journey.  That waterfall never stops; I know, I have two full grown sons and I still fall in love with them every day.

Today I watched my tall, handsome 21 year old son fix the industrial embroidery machine in my shop.  He explained everything to me as he went along, he was careful with the tools and parts, and when he finished, I had a small list of replacement parts that he wanted on hand, and a machine that ran like silk.  Then he kissed his beautiful girlfriend (who is a manager at my shop), grinned that grin of his, and strolled out of the store.

Now we talk about babies a lot on these blogs, but that experience was about my child.  A full grown young man who is still my child.  And it was an amazing, wonderful experience that I am grateful for on many levels (not just having my machine fixed!).  So here's a picture of my oldest 'baby'... I have another just as handsome younger baby around as well - I'll feature him in the future.

I actually had a few things happen today.  I found out I get baseline on the 15th, then start stims on the 16th.  Here's the nice part, I don't have to go back for my next ultrasound and bloodwork until the 19th.  That means I can go over to Vancouver Island after my baseline to spend a few days with my sister.  It will make my time away from home a lot less lonely.  Oh, and since the insurance covers our hotel room, I can afford to get a car!  Yay for that!  I also discovered my drugs are only going to cost around $2K... normally they are nearly twice that.... I guess they figure I'm going to respond well (which I will!)

I've also booked myself for a few sessions of acupuncture.  The clinic I'm going to supports it, and I really do believe there are true benefits.  Here's the website if you want to check out some of the studies they've done. 

I haven't really started packing yet although I keep meaning to.  I'm not taking that much to be honest.  My favorite jeans and tee shirts and such.  I'm not even taking shampoo and shaving cream - just going to pick up new stuff and only pack it one way. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

While Waiting...

I've been eating better.  I've been taking my vitamins.  I've been drinking way more water than ever.  I've switched mainly to whole grain bread versus white.  I've been successfully avoiding Pepsi, my only true addiction.  I've even stopped my 2x a week beer and clam habit.  And today I actually took the day off work and went skiing. 

I have gained weight since starting the meds.  Nearly 20 lbs in a year, and there's just no reason for me to make things worse with unhealthy eating habits.  And my store is in a mall, so our lunchtime choices are Panago Pizza, New York Fries, Tim Horton's Donuts, Chinese take-out and Orange Julius.  Notice there are no pita pits or subways nearby.  Gag.  So I've been getting up earlier, cooking soups and stews and chili from scratch, and taking sandwiches and soups from home. 

The hardest thing to break is my long term Pepsi habit. I've been addicted to one (sometimes two, never three) Pepsi a day for the past twenty years.  Gross... when I think of all the sugar that adds up to, how many chemicals going through my body.  So with that vice, I've had to be creative.  I've had to buy sugar and caffine free diet Pepsi, which I loathe, and know isn't good for me at all, and when I *must* have the carbonated, sharp sensation, I grab one of the substitutes.  But I've only had about one every other day or so, and I think I actually had one Pepsi since the beginning of the year; even my kids are surprised! 

David is working about three hours away, and there just happens to be a ski hill exactly halfway between us, so this morning we both set out and met for a day on the slopes with my niece, her kids, my son and his girlfriend.  We had a really nice day, although we are both needing to get more exercise, or perhaps get younger?  LOL  Actually we kept up quite nicely.  It was really sad to say goodbye, I won't see David again until we meet up in Vancouver at the end of the month.

And... so... as you can see, there was nothing in this blog about babies.  Oops.  Now there is!  LOL  I guess it was just a break to spend the day not thinking about the upcoming IVF!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Paying for Baby with Visa (Might as well get the travel rewards...)

Isn't that just kind of 'wrong' in a strange freaky kind of way?  Yes, I paid for the IVF today with our Visa so we could collect travel points.  I think it's the ultimate anology of 'when life hands you lemons, make lemonaid'. 

So the costs to date: 
$530 flight to Vancouver for Ultrasound & Initial Apointment
$127 room in GP to catch early flight
$60 fuel to go to GP and back
$90 cab fare to clinic and back to airport
$500 downpayment on cycle
$21 birth control pills
$5800 payment for cycle
$300 fuel for David to go to Edmonton Clinic
$140 room in Edmonton for David
$500 for my flight there and back...

That's $8014 so far.  Yikes.  For a chance.  Sigh.

The hotel rooms are covered by our insurance, and 20% of the drugs, which will be about $3000, so we'll only have to pay $600 of that, but I have decided to get a car as a result of the room being paid for, so that will be about $700, and David will have to fly down at the end of my cycle... so that's a final $250 to add to it all...

So that's about $10,614.

I just won't be able to really justify doing this again.  I will pray like the devil for a pregnancy and/or at least 8 frozen embryos!

Sorry to bore you with the details about money, but I know a lot of people want to know what it costs, I know I sure did when we started that.  Oh yeah, and throw in some acupuncture (covered by our insurance), but it's another $100 or so out of pocket! 

Oh!  Some more interesting news...  I found out that I am going to be able to apply for maternity leave if/when I actually do get pregnant.  Sometimes I get freaked out that I am so hopeful, then I get angry that I am so damaged that I won't allow myself that small luxury without slamming my own face into the pavement as a gentle reminder of what getting your hopes up means.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Fun Stuff

Our super fertile family has this little thing where every four years or so, there are three or four babies born.  They are usually in groups of four.  Four cousins, four grandkids, four new births about every four years.  We even identify those born by their litter mates.  For instance, my oldest son, Mason, was born in the same year as Dustin, Melissa and Luke.  

As the family grew (apart) I haven't been keeping track as closely, and have to admit, the births have been more sporatic lately, with little girls and boys popping up every couple of years in pairs rather than groups.

It seems that things are picking up in the baby-making area though, I have two nephew's wives and a niece who are currently expecting (all new announcements!) and another niece who is trying (and is super fertile - just a matter of a couple cycles I'm sure).   This is strangly exciting for me.  Upon hearing the news of each budding belly I examined my own feelings, waiting for the onslaught of jealousy, self pity or even resentment.  I am delighted to say, however, that I am simply thrilled for each and every tidbit of gossipy information regarding these new members-to-be of our family tree. 

I'm cautious because I know my feeling of elation just might be part of my own creeping sense of hope, but screw being cautious... I am enjoying feeling joy and interest in these pregnancy announcements, and intend on milking this for all it's worth. 

It will be strange, however, to be a second generation mother, pregnant at 38 with all these women who are anywhere from 12 to 15 years younger than me.  hehe  I wouldn't trade places for a moment!  I'll take my super stable, boring, experienced life and throw a newborn into it any day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

David Leaves.... More Tests Tomorrow... Insurance Update

As most of you know, David works out of town most of the time.  His job as an environmental consultant with the pipelines means that he travels all over Western Canada.  What that's meant for us in the TTC realm is that we've had to make a lot of trips and juggle timing and flights to try to get together when the time is right.  Sometimes we make it, sometimes we just get the benefits of trying.

Anyhow, he has been home since December 19th, and left today.  That's the longest I've seen him since last June.  Wow.  Never realized that until I said it.  He had to leave a day early because he has to do another SA - this time in the RE lab in Edmonton (satelite clinic).  So he had to drive the six hours to Edmonton, do the tests tomorrow and then drive back to High Prairie, AB where he's working. 

We're hoping to get together for a ski trip halfway between home and work next Sunday, and then won't see each other until we meet up for the egg retrieval at the end of the month.  It will seem like forever.  Even when you're used to missing someone, it doesn't make it easier.

Oh and the insurance stuff... sounds like we made a great move on the extended health.  I'm not 100% sure yet, but it seems that not only will our fertility drugs be covered (80% anyhow) but that our medical travel expenses will also be covered.  That means airfair, hotel... which means I might be able to afford a car when I'm down there.  It means we might save as much as $3000 in travel expenses, not to mention the $3000+ in drugs.

As things are happening quickly, my need to document and record becomes more frenzied.  I love to blog, but not when it's all just filled with dashed hopes and nothingness.  At least we have some hope.  I fully realize it might not work.  I know we might test and it might be negative.  But we're have tried.  We'll have done all we could have done.  And that's enough. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's Happening Very Quickly!

It's only 12 days until I leave for Vancouver!  It seems like time is rushing forward.  Frankly, now that the real prospect of motherhood is upon me, I am terrified.  I've become very used to 'wanting' a baby and I know my chances are very good now at actually 'having' a baby. 

I've filled up my life with non-baby activities and getting used to being baby-less.  I'm nervous about everything.  Nervous about doing something wrong if I do get pregnant and causing another miscarriage.  Nervous about having a hard pregnancy.  Nervous about finding a good doctor if I am pregnant with multiples.  Nervous about the birth.  Nervous about it not working.

I am not a person who is used to feeling fear..... most of the time I am confident and excited about this journey's turn, but sometimes little feelings of terror creep up my spine and I am left motionless and wide eyed. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

Weighed. Measured.

Yesterday we got the final go ahead on our IVF schedule.  My numbers from the tests are great, ovaries are perfect size and uterus is great shape with a smooth interior.  The doctor was very happy to say that we had ten antral follicles on the left ovary and twelve on the right.  Dr. Havelock said that he looked for ten as a good indicator and was very pleased with the twelve on my dominant ovary. 

So they called us on the 31st and gave us our drug protocal... and schedule.  We officially start the process on January 15th with a 7:30 a.m. baseline ultrasound and bloodtest.  Then I start my drugs that day with two injections daily.

Here's our schedule: 
January 8th - Pay remainder of cost
January 14th - Fly to Vancouver, BC
January 15th - Baseline blood & ultrasound - start meds:  150 IU Bravelle - 75 IU Menopur
January 17th - Blood test & Ultrasound
January 19th - Blood test & Ultrasound
January 21st - Blood test & Ultrasound
January 23rd - Blood test & Ultrasound
January 25th - Blood test & Ultrasound
January 27th - 30th - Egg Retrieval
January 31st - February 4th - Egg Transfer

My CD3 FSH was a level of 7:  FSH is a blood test. It is the hormone that drives your antral follicles to grow. As a follicle grows (up to 16-24mm in size), it is helping to mature the egg inside. You need FSH to grow your eggs.  If you have a good ovarian reserve, your body doesn’t need to make very much FSH to start the process of egg maturation. A number less than 10 IU/L is good; less than 8 is ideal. Greater than 12 is a worry.

My AFC on left ovary was 10 / right ovary was 12:    Antral Follicle Count (AFC) The AFC is an ultrasound test. The ideal AFC is 10-15 over the two ovaries. If your AFC is <10, your ovarian reserve (on that cycle) is low. AFC is as good as, and usually better than, FSH levels when predicting ovarian reserve.