Steadfast Faith

October 4, 2016

We received the lab results this afternoon.  We picked up the envelope after work and opened it up together at home.  It was negative.  We shared our thoughts and tears with one another and then I spent some time in prayer while Don went to pick up dinner. Continue reading “Steadfast Faith”

Predetermined Praise

October 4, 2016

During this period of uncertainty and waiting, I have been seeking the Lord.  Early on in the IVF cycle, I vowed to myself not to become consumed with possible pregnancy symptoms, taking home pregnancy tests or looking up symptoms online.  Instead, I have been reading my bible, praying, journaling and spending time in praise and worship daily.  I have felt a shift in my focus and perspective.  I do not feel anxious or in unbearable suspense as to what the blood test result will be.  I have pre-determined a heart of praise regardless of the outcome.  I opened my bible this morning to read, and opened right up to the first chapter of Job.  I decided to start right where I opened up to and quickly came across the following verses in the first chapter.  It picks up when Job learns that his oxen, donkeys, servants, sheep, camels, as well as his sons and daughters, have all been killed.  And this is Job’s response: Continue reading “Predetermined Praise”

The Waiting Room of God’s Sovereignty

September 27, 2016

The first few days of waiting really weren’t that bad.  I made a vow to myself before the embryo transfer that I would not analyze and google symptoms or take a home pregnancy test on my own.  I don’t believe that focusing on the uncertainty is healthy, and it serves no purpose.  Because of the drugs I am on (progesterone and estrogen), my body is already mimicking some pregnancy symptoms.  Plus, I’ve been on so many different drugs throughout this IVF cycle, that my body could react in very different ways during the third and forth week of my cycle than I am accustomed to.  It is very possible to get a false negative or a false positive on a home pregnancy with the various drugs I am on and have been on.

So instead, I have been focusing extra on prayer, reading God’s word, praise and worship and journaling.  I want to be prepared for whatever result we receive, positive or negative, and be strong in my faith.  I also need to keep a Kingdom perspective so that I am in the right frame of mind to not become stressed out.

I haven’t shared our IVF journey with very many people, but I did share it with my Bible Study Fellowship Group.  More on that in a post coming soon.

 

Little Embryos

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Today was transfer day! To recap, out of the 8 eggs retrieved, 7 fertilized normally and have been growing for 5 days.  Today, 2 of the 7 looked very good and were ready for what’s referred to as a day 5 embryo transfer.  I was instructed to drink two pints of water and arrive at the office by 2:00 for a 2:30 transfer.  The appointment prior to ours was running behind because the patient hadn’t drank enough water.  While the patient was in recovery, our doctors met with us to go over questions, Dr. Beshay and the embryologist.  The embryologist stated that the other 5 embryos weren’t doing well and didn’t think they would be able to freeze them.  He said he would give them one more day and call me with an update the following day.  However, both doctors were very optimistic about the two embryos that looked very good.

I asked what grade the embryos were, but the doctors didn’t want to get that specific.  They said they really don’t discuss it with patients and it’s really not that telling of how the embryo is going to respond to the transfer.  They said both embryos looked great.  Dr. Beshay referred to one of the embryos as a “textbook image”.

I learned the clusters of cells referred to as embryos are not technically embryos until around week 5.  Up until that point, it is a zygote, then a blastocyst, but I will be referring to them as embryos since that is common terminology.  There is an outer protective shell that surrounds the blastocyst that the embryo hatches from right before it starts its implantation journey.  One of our embryos was starting to hatch.

By the time we were ready to begin the transfer, I was very uncomfortable due to my full bladder and the delay, but that was the worst of it as the procedure itself was painless.   Don was able to come into the procedure room, and we saw both of the embryos projected on the screen.  They were loaded into a catheter which is the method to transfer them.  They procedure was very quick and went very well without any hiccups.  The nurse noted that my bladder was extremely full, and that it was still filling!  After the transfer, I was inverted for about 10 minutes.  There isn’t any science behind inverting patients, but Dr. Beshay prefers this method.  After the 10 minute wait, I was finally able to empty my bladder.

I was instructed not to lift anything more than 10 pounds and not to let the cats walk on my abdomen or pounce off of it.  We were also informed that I cannot do any exercise except gently walking, and intercourse is not permitted.  These restrictions are in place until at least the 6 week sonogram, God willing, and then the doctor will modify the restrictions based on the 6 week exam.  The doctor said to take it easy and emphasized the importance of keeping emotional stress at bay.

Tomorrow I will start new medications which are progesterone in oil (intramuscular injections) and Estrace (oral pill -estrogen).  I will also start the low dose aspirin back up.  These medications will continue through to the end of the first trimester, God willing.  Otherwise, I would stop upon receiving a negative result (blood test).

Update:  I received a call September 21 from the embryologist, and he stated the remaining 5 embryos were not dividing normally and would not survive.

 

Day 1 of Development

Friday, September 16, 2016

The embryologist called me at 8:24 this morning.  He said that 7 out of the 8 eggs fertilized!  He said that the eighth one didn’t divide properly and didn’t make it.  7 out of 8 is excellent (that’s around 87%)!  We were told that 60% fertilize on average.  We were hoping for 4-5.  The embryologist will check on them again Sunday which is day 3 (of development).  We except that about half will make it to Sunday as that is pretty typical.  Once he sees how the embryos are doing on Sunday, he will call us and let us know what time the transfer will be.  He said it will be Tuesday which is a day 5 transfer.  It will most likely be in the afternoon.  I will not need to be under anesthesia.

Yesterday, I started two new oral medications.  I am taking Doxycycline (100 mg) and Methylprednisolone (16 mg).  This is to help control the bacteria for implantation.  I am also taking a super dose of probiotics daily that the doctor approved.  Tonight we will introduce 2 more medications and I will resume the low dose aspirin.  I was instructed to not take it the day before transfer.  The new medications that I start tonight are Estrace (2 mg) orally and Progesterone in oil (1 mL) via intramuscular injection (in the backside).  The nurse stressed the importance of taking the medications consistently at the same time every night.  We must not vary by more than an hour.  We decided that 9:30 is the best time since we will home from all our activities by that time.  It will limit us from going out in the evenings, but we don’t mind since we don’t go out much anyway.  Upon a successful transfer and implantation, I will continue Progesterone, Estrace and low dose aspirin through the first trimester of the pregnancy.

I will be going in for another acupuncture appointment tomorrow and again Monday.

 

Egg Retrieval Day

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Today is egg retrieval day! We were instructed not to wear any fragrance of any kind whether it be in deodorant or body wash, etc.  I use scented fabric softener so we decided to wash the clothes we would wear the night prior with our crystal balls.  Crystal balls are all natural and fragrance free and last for a few years.  I picked up some unscented multi-purpose soap at whole foods that can be used on the body, face and hair (all of my shampoos are very fragrant, and I wanted to be as sterile as possible for the procedure).  I washed my hair with the unscented soap and did not condition or put any lotion or make up on.  Don used the same soap, and we were on our way by 7:00 am to report in at 7:20.

Upon arrival, they reviewed the procedure.  It is a minor outpatient surgery called follicular aspiration to remove eggs from the womb using a thin needle and gentle suction device and performed under anesthesia.  We met the embryologist, the anesthesiologist and Dr. Beshay came to talk to us before the procedure.  They took me in promptly at 8:00, and I was finished by 9:00.  I had to stay in the recovery room for about an hour, and we were free to leave at 10:00.  We learned that they were able to get 8 eggs which is excellent since that is about double what the doctor was hoping for!

Dr. Beshay said that the 9th one ended up being very small and near the bowel and that it was too risky to try to retrieve without damaging my intestine.  He said it was small anyway and not worth it.  What the doctor thought was a 10th egg turned out to be a very small fibroid tumor (1.2 mm).  Fibroid tumors are benign growths that tend to grow as a result of high estrogen levels (result of the medicines I’ve been on).  The doctor said it was indenting the uterus somewhat and that while our chances for implantation occur after the transfer are still very good, the chances are a little lower with the fibroid indenting the uterus the way it is.  There are 3 other fibroids in my uterus, but they are small and not impacting anything.  The doctor said the fibroid that may lower our chances is at the top of the uterus, and embryos usually implant at the bottom of the uterus.  The worst that would happen is that if the embryo tried to implant on the fibroid, I would miscarry.  He said that if we transfer 2 embryos, the embryos will most likely will move away from each other and implant in two separate areas.  Then even if one were to implant on the fibroid, there is a good chance the other one will still be implanted elsewhere.  Dr. Beshay also said that 6 of the 9 eggs came from my left, tubeless side! So those eggs didn’t stand much of a chance at all without IVF!

We will find out tomorrow how many of the eggs fertilized.  The eggs are mixed with Don’s fresh specimen the day of the egg retrieval.  The embryologist will check on them after 24 hours and give us a call.

 

Almost Half Way

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

All of our sonogram checks have been at 7:30 or 7:45 in the morning.  The doctor’s office is only 10 minutes away from where I work so the frequent doctor visits haven’t impacted our jobs too much thankfully (it’s about 15 minutes away from where Don works).  Both of our employers know what’s going on and have been very supportive and flexible.  We are usually only at the doctor for about 15 minutes as they are always ready to see us upon our arrival.  This is a small practice and we love the personal attention they give.

We had another great check up today.   The lining is now at 11 mm! We are so thankful to God! The doctor said the follicles are ready (the measure around 17-20 mm).  He said they would call us later that day and let us know what time to do the “trigger shot” and that the egg retrieval would be Thursday, September 15.  The trigger shot is Novarel which is another injection.  It tells the body to ovulate and takes about 36 hours.  Once the doctor and his staff figured out their schedule for Thursday, they called to give us further instructions.  The trigger shot had to be taken exactly at 9:00 pm so that I would be ready for an 8:00 am retrieval on Thursday.

I had bible study (BSF) that night, and it was the first night with a new group after the summer break so I was determined to go (and it’s 40 minutes away).  I decided to go for the group portion which is the first hour and leave at 8:00 and miss the lecture portion in the second half.  I was home by 8:30 and started getting set up:  wash hands, disinfect table, gauze, alcohol swabs, band aid, medicine, syringe, mixing needle, injecting needle and sharps container.  Don is always very helpful to help me with everything.  I give myself my own subcutaneous injections on my belly. It’s just easier since I can control the pressure.  I also had another injection of that Monday night which was a ninth and extra day.

I have a second acupuncture appointment tomorrow.  Studies show that acupuncture the day before egg retrieval can increase success rates.  There is a lot of evidence to support better success rates with IVF and acupuncture together.  So as long as my doctor is okay with it (which he is at this point), then I will continue with it.

This is the revised calendar:

Almost Halfway pic

 

 

Two Weeks In

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Everything continues to go extremely well! I have not really had any side effects to any of the medications.  I am on low doses, but the response is that of a conventional IVF cycle.  We had another sonogram and estrogen check on Friday, September 9th and Sunday, September 11th (they make special exceptions to see IVF patients on the weekend due to how closely everything needs to be monitored).

To recap, last Wednesday, there were 7 follicles.  Friday, we found out there are 10 good follicles that the doctor thinks has the potential to grow large enough to be good candidates for fertilization.  The doctor said the uterine lining still needed to thicken up but didn’t seem too concerned (if isn’t thick enough, they won’t do the transfer that month).  I generally eat pretty healthy, but this made it very real to me.  I began to look online to find what foods nourish the uterus and help it thicken.  Spinach, red meat, chicken liver, yams were some of the foods on the list. I also read that circulation helps a lot and that circulation can be improved with acupuncture, heating pads and keeping the feet warm (so that the body doesn’t have to work to pump as much blood down to the feet which is far from the core).  The doctor said he was fine with me trying any of these methods.

We had another sonogram and estrogen check on Sunday, September 11.  There were still 10 good looking follicles.  The lining was thicker at 7.4 mm, but the doctor would like it to be a minimum of 8 mm.  I read online that 8-11 mm is healthy.  Sunday afternoon I went to Trader Joe’s and found chicken liver pate which ended up not being as bad as I anticipated.  I ate it on a toasted gluten free bagel, and Don tried it with me.  I also took an iron pill, continued to eat healthy and kept my body warm.  We also prayed a lot because we knew that ultimately this was up to God to take care of regardless how much I tried to control my uterine lining on my own.

I also started Cetrotide over the weekend which is an injection that prevents premature ovulation.  The doctor explained it like this:  there are lots of eggs growing, but the body doesn’t realize it’s numerous egg.  The body thinks it’s one giant super egg.  Because of this, the body may try to ovulate prematurely hence the Cetrotide.  Our next appointment is Tuesday.

I also was able to get in to the acupuncturist on Monday, September 12.

Here are some pictures of the chicken liver pate:

 

One Week In

Thursday, September 8, 2016

We started the IVF process last week with a baseline sonogram and an estrogen check blood draw.  If there had been a cyst or if the estrogen level wasn’t where it needed to be, we would have had to cancel the IVF for this cycle and try again two months (we’ll be traveling next month).  Thankfully, everything looked great, and we were given the go ahead to start the stimulation.

I started Clomid that night which is taken orally.  On the third day of stimulation, we also introduced Menopur which is a subcutaneous injection which means under the skin (on the abdomen).  The injections have been going really well.  It isn’t painful, and we got past the learning curve within a couple nights.  I have also been taking low dose aspirin (ASA) since the start of the stimulation cycle.  We went in for a sonogram check and estrogen blood draw yesterday (Wednesday), and everything looks great.  The estrogen level is right where the doctor wants it to be, and he counted 7 follicles which is great.  They will do the egg retrieval next week (most likely Wednesday), but it could vary by a day.  The doctor will collect all of the eggs, and from that point, it will be determined how many can be fertilized.

Preparing the Injection (click this link to see how to prepare the injection)

 

 

 

One Week In pic 3

Getting Ready

August 26, 2016

Don and I are meeting at the doctor’s office this afternoon to sign consent forms, receive the final calendar for next month and for injection training.  We have been getting ready by reading through everything, preparing more questions to ask and ordering the medications.  I have also been working out more to combat any side effects of weight gain for any of the medications and also so that I can be in the best health possible to conceive.  The first sonogram will be a baseline sonogram and will take place Thursday, September 1.  The day after that, I will begin Clomid which helps the eggs to grow.  Around the same time, Don will begin taking an antibiotic for 10 days (Doxycycline).   This Sunday, August 29th will be my last dose of the OCP (oral contraceptive pill).  I started it 8/12, and the main purpose is to suppress the follicles so they don’t grow.  Later in the cycle, I will take a different medication to help them all grow consistently so that they are all about the same size during retrieval.

I have had mixed emotions about the whole IVF process.  Both Don and I are very excited about this opportunity.  However, I have also been having a little bit of anxiety about the unknowns and uncertainty as well as nervous about following all the directions correctly and making sure I’m not missing any steps.  There have been a lot of other things going on besides the IVF, so in general, there has been a lot of anticipation.  It’s nothing very stressful, but just a lot going on at once.  I have been focusing on trying to get good rest, and Calms Forte has helped me a lot.  Staying on top of organizing all the information from the doctor’s office has helped a lot also.