Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good, Bad & Ugly

GOOD: Beta #3 came back over 4,300 which means it continues to more-than-double every 48 hours. The clinic is very pleased, so they don't need any more bloodwork. Our first ultrasound will be late next week.


BAD: I have had three asthma attacks in eight days requiring my rescue inhaler. My midwife told me about 30% of pregnant women with asthma will see an increase in attacks. Once again, I am the "lucky" one.


UGLY: Lots of spotting this morning... all brown/beige. No cramping. I called the clinic and the nurse assured me that this was quite normal and as long as it stayed brown and there were no cramps, I should try not to worry. Easier said than done. It seems to have cleared up. Here's hoping it stays that way.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Results Are In (or Holy Shit! I'm Actually Pregnant!)

There you have it!

12dpD3t - BETA#1 (106)
14dpD3t - BETA#2 (272) YAY!!!!!! More than double in 48 hours. I'm finally starting to think this might just be OK. Definite improvement over my only other BFP ever, at any rate.

That first beta saw the fastest blood results ever at one hour and ten minutes from draw to call. The blood processing lady was actually standing at the door while the tech drew my blood and whisked it away for immediate processing. One hour and ten minutes later and my RE called personally. He gave us a due date at the end of July and told me to stay on all my meds and go for my second beta in 48 hours. The really funny thing was that the nurse called three hours later to give me my numbers. She had no idea my RE had snapped up my results and called me personally.

I will admit to being somewhat in shock. And still half convinced that it will all go wrong somewhere. But RIGHT NOW... I am pregnant.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

PSA: Stopping vs Quitting

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT an announcement of the outcome of our cycle (beta results in a few days). It is simply a subject that has been weighing on my mind in recent weeks.

Apparently, it has to be said. Stopping is not the same as Quitting.

It is a subtle difference, but an important one. Quitting implies action ceased due to frustration or fear of failure. Stopping implies action ceased due to desire, an educated decision or strength of conviction.

I knew going into this DEIVF cycle that it would be our last, no matter the outcome. Our hearts and our wallets are exhausted. This was part of our decision making process going into the cycle... do we have the reserves to get through even this one more? We decided that we did, but that it had to be the final attempt. Half way through the cycle, I had the realization that indeed, I do not have the heart to do this ever again. In the card we wrote to include with our gift for our egg donor, I thanked her for giving us the opportunity to find peace no matter the outcome. And that is just the thing. This cycle represents our limit. We can move into our future knowing that we did everything we could. We will not look back and regret stopping here. Of course, a negative result or another loss will be heartbreaking without question. But we can find peace.

In this community, those few of us who resolve our infertility journey by choosing to move on child free are often rather frightening to those still in the trenches. They see only "giving up" without the release of a future that was chosen. They offer support in the form they themselves still need: encouragement to keep trying, keep looking for answers, get another opinion. It is well intentioned, but misplaced support.

What we really need, when we reach this point, is for the community to wish us peace with our choice. We need respect for the strength it has taken to make that choice. We need to not be ignored, just because our situation makes people uncomfortable. We also need to remember that resolving this journey without a child does not invalidate the years of struggle and the experiences we have had. We can be a resource to those still struggling. We can be an inspiration to those who are questioning their reserves.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making PIO My Bitch

I am happy to report that the PIO shots continue to go smoothly and (very nearly) painlessly. They hurt about as much as the old GonalF injections, which is to say, not much to speak of. I can honestly say I'd take the PIO shot instead of a flu shot any day! I also tend to bruise if you look at me too hard, but my backside remains unmarked.

Since this is notably unusual, I thought I would share our technique as best I can. Keep in mind, neither of us is a medical professional and your doctor may have different instructions for you. Below are the instructions our doctor gave us.

1. Warm the PIO to body temperature by tucking the vial into my bra for about 30 minutes pre-shot.
2. Swab the top of the vial and then the injection site with alcohol.
3. Using the larger needle, pull out the syringe plunger to 1cc (my dose) and insert into the vial.
4. Push plunger in completely and then draw the dose into the syringe, taking care to eliminate any bubbles.
5. Switch to the smaller (injecting) needle and push the plunger carefully until a bead of oil appears at the end of the needle.
6. I bend over the back of a chair, resting my ribcage on the chair back and my elbows on the table, putting all my weight on my left leg for a right-side injection (or my right leg for a left-side injection).
7. Prof uses one hand to pinch up the flesh in the target area and the other hand to work the syringe.
8. Needle goes in all the way, and quickly.
9. Prof maintains the "pinch" with one hand and shifts his grip on the syringe to be more stable/steady.
10. Pull back on the plunger. If blood appears in the syringe, pull the needle out and reinsert in a different spot. If the plunger resists and there is no blood, proceed with the injection (maintaining the "pinch" at all times).
11. When the full dose has been injected, remove the needle and apply pressure with a sterile gauze pad.
12. Massage gently, stroking outward from the injection site to disperse the oil.
13. Apply a band-aid (just in case). The band-aid also helps me remember which side was done last.

PSA - Never reuse needles and always dispose of them in an approved sharps container.

In discussing this with Prof, we've decided that confidence on the part of the person wielding the needle goes a long way to minimizing pain.* Don't hesitate! Get the needle all the way in quickly, in one stroke, then keep the syringe steady (no wiggling). While injecting, push the plunger in slowly and evenly. Prof takes nearly 10 seconds the push through the 1cc dose.

*If the person doing the injecting needs some practice to build their confidence, an orange makes a good target (just use water in the syringe). This will provide an opportunity to work on quick insertion and maintaining a steady hand while managing the syringe one-handed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

And Then There Were None (UPDATED)

The clinic called on Day6 to let us know that none of the remaining six embryos made it to blastocyst. As such they are not viable and will be discarded. I knew the quality wasn't great, but it was a severe shock to realize they are all gone. I spent the day crying on and off. I know they transferred the two best on Day3, but I now have serious doubts about their chances.

Prof said that as disappointing and worrying as it is, at least this is a clear end. If this cycle works, it works. If it doesn't, we are done. We don't even have to worry about whether or not to do an FET. He is right on that score, but that doesn't make it hurt any less today.

UPDATED: For the record, there is not really a concern with the donor's egg quality. She was a proven donor with a highly successful previous record. We do not have any idea what went wrong.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Transfer (and Correction)

Transfer went smoothly - two eight-cell embryos! You gotta love those high-res ultrasound machines - and seeing the little white bubble left behind when they pulled back the catheter. I was instructed to take two days of couch-rest (no cooking/cleaning or other exertion) and we got a little picture to take home.

It turns out, since we had fewer than 10 viable eggs they used ICSI on all of them. All eight that fertilized were still growing at the time of transfer, though the embryologist did say some of them were growing slowly and wouldn't be expected to make it to freeze (he didn't say how many). He will call us later this week to let us know the final stats.

We have also started the PIO shots and I am happy to report that so far, it does not hurt one bit. Prof has lots of IM injection experience from the days when he helped care for his Dad, so I'm guessing that helps. Dare I hope this will continue to be the case?

So now, we wait. Of course my RE is one of those who like a little extra time before beta, so it will be nearly Thanksgiving before we have any real results. We are still debating the wisdom of POAS (I am pro and Prof is con). I am remarkably calm for now and very much aware that if this going to work, it will work and there's not much else I can do. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just the Facts (UPDATED)

After a certain amount of drama resulting from storm-related issues, our donor took her trigger shot and our retrieval is done!* My original medication calendar has been revised so many times that they had to write me a new one from scratch. It has been... a roller coaster of a week, but for the moment there is hope.

Prof went by himself to drop off the swim team (a first in our ART adventures). Afterwards, he said the crowd in the waiting room was particularly bizarre. So bizarre that he thought perhaps someone slipped some LSD in his coffee.

The nurse called a few hours post-retrieval to let us know that we got eleven eggs. They will do ICSI on half and let the rest fertilize naturally (or as naturally as possible when floating in a petri dish). Don't ask me how they "half" an odd number of eggs...

Welcome to my sci-fi life.

Nine of the eleven eggs were mature.
Eight fertilized.
We are scheduled for a Day3 transfer.

*You wouldn't believe the amount of tension and relief deceptively encapsulated in that single sentence. Really, I should get some kind of award for understatement there.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I'm so scared that this will be another one of those cycles, where just enough goes RIGHT before it all goes wrong... leaving us feeling like we really should dig just a little deeper and give it another shot. Funny. It only rarely occurs to me that things might only go right, and then that little voice says, "Yeah, sure. I've got a bridge you might be interested in as well."

This time last year, I was processing the fact that my ovaries were out of the game. We spent nearly three months debating the decision between walking away and getting on with a childfree future versus one last hurrah with donor eggs. Ultimately, the whole point of moving to donor eggs was to reach a place where we wouldn't feel like we should have done something more.

I'm afraid of the cycle failing, but being left feeling like there's more we could try.