does it ever end?

well, just when i thought my {in}fertility journey was over, it’s not.  i overlooked one detail… what in the world are we to do with our extra frozen embryos?  our current election if both hubby and i were to die, is to donate these puppies to medical research.  i’m a little embarrassed to admit that.  when we had to make this election pre-brian, i think the thought of someone else {and possibly not a heterosexual married couple} having our biological children was appalling.  i reasoned with myself that “someone else had to donate their embryos to medical research for us to get to this point,” which may or may not be true.  the whole process of IVF is medical research in and of itself.  anywho, that’s neither here nor there now.  what matters is that {somehow, miraculously} God has been tugging on my heartstrings.  those little embabies may hold a viable life.  life.  if they are transferred, they may become a bouncing, giggly, living, breathing human being.  just like my blonde haired, blue eyed, sweet little boys.

two things in particular have been impactful to me about what to do with these embryos recently:

1. a friend and fellow IVF warrior mama and i had a conversation about our frozen embryos.  i think she plans to transfer all of hers.  but when i stated that our current election is to donate them to medical research, which i’m not so certain about, she brought up adoption.  she said her husband reminded her that we are all God’s children when they had this conversation.  that is truth.  “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.”

2.  i read an article about “the leftover {frozen} embryo crisis.”  i’m not sure how i stumbled upon this article, but one section grabbed my attention:

overall, however, the anti-abortion movement has largely stayed away from this issue. one rarely sees protests outside IVF clinics, or laws limiting the number of eggs that can be fertilized. most reproductive advocates believe this is because of the bad optics. these embryos are for family-building, for creating life; the narratives fueling the anti-abortion movement claiming carelessness and disdain for life don’t work here.

crap, whether or not the article intended this, it made me contemplate whether or not my current election is along the lines of abortion.  and now that i’ve really thought about our election, i feel that it is.  i’m pro-life, and i firmly believe we have to protect those that cannot protect themselves.  so how can i basically throw away my embryos by donating them to medical research?

as you can imagine {or maybe you can’t}, this has caused quite a stir in my emotions and prayer life.  i’m convicted, to use the traditional baptist word for God pulling on my heartstrings.  and i have a whole host of other feelings.  while i am beyond grateful for IVF, i can’t help but ponder maybe this is not what God intended.  not that IVF surprises Him, but maybe this is something i shouldn’t have pursued in the first place.  and of course i wouldn’t change it for the world, because through IVF we conceived brian.  and then there’s our successful pregnancy post-brian, which did not come from our pool of frozen embryos.  maybe i shouldn’t have attempted pregnancy in any other manner other than with our frozen embryos in effort to honor them and the life they represent.  but again, i wouldn’t change austin for the world {and having sex to conceive him was refreshing}.

i’ve been going to Biblical counseling since last fall.  it is helping me cope with my crazy {in}fertility journey and to snap out of my postpartum funk.  i brought up our conundrum about these embabies recently and my counselor was reassuring that God is indeed tugging on my heartstrings.  she has experienced IVF in her family through her daughter, and she had to defend IVF as a medical treatment for a disease {you know, infertility} for seminary.  her defense argument was simple: we treat every other disease from diabetes to cancer in order to preserve life, so why wouldn’t we treat infertility to create life?  okay, so this helps me feel a bit better about choosing IVF.  but now what?  what do i do with these embryos?  my counselor also told me that her daughter put a long-term plan in place for her embryos prior to her first transfer {we did too, just not a well thought out plan}.  if for some reason her daughter is not able to carry the embryos, they will be put up for adoption through a Christian organization called snowflake.

i’m not able to destroy the embryos or donate them to research.  i’m also not able to give them to a family member or friend in need for several reasons.  so, i’ve researched snowflake, and i’m becoming more open to adoption.  but here’s the rub, i want to make sure that we are 100% certain we only want two children before we pursue that.  hubby is, but i’m not so sure.  and not only am i not so sure now, but i’m not so sure i’ll ever be so sure.  it’s hard to imagine giving up our biological children to be raised by another family.  i would only entertain it for a heterosexual, married, Christian couple who would adopt all of our embryos as a group.  that’s the best case scenario, and even then, there are no guarantees.  and in my mind, if only one of our remaining embryos is healthy/results in a live birth, the child should be with our family and it’s biological siblings.  and this was our exact statistics between brian and austin.  we used 4 embryos and one resulted in a successful pregnancy and birth.  we have no clue if the other 3 were normal or abnormal, but this inclines me to pursue PGS for our remaining 4 embryos.  and this is where i’m stuck.  is PGS playing God?  if all 4 remaining embryos are healthy, i would say they need to go as a group to another couple.  even if 3 are healthy.  but after that it gets tricky.  and realistically, it’s impossible to plan as almost any outcome is possible.  hubby says we just need to decide the number of kids we want and go from there, and for him that number is two.  so there’s no need to PGS prior to donation in his mind.  i say we created these embryos and have a responsibility to deal with them in the manner God wants us to.  i’m not quite sure what that is yet, but i do know it would involve honoring potential life.  thankfully, hubby is supportive and understanding of my logic.

see, mind boggling, head spinning thoughts here.  something i wasn’t prepared for with IVF.  i never forced myself to think beyond a first successful pregnancy.  while undergoing stimulation, i did ask God to give us the number of embryos we were supposed to have, and i’m confident that He did.  the one truth that has brought me reassurance and peace throughout this process is remembering that God is omniscient and none of these events are surprising to Him.  He already knows how this will unfold.  i’m praying He guides us about PGS/going from there or putting them up for adoption without PGS.

if you’ve stuck with me this long, props to you.  this blog is a safe place for me to get messy thoughts out and to try to being organization to the chaos, and hopefully a place someone else living through {in}fertility can find some solidarity.


an {un}official last post

this will be my last post… at least for a while.  i started this blog during a time when i needed it most.  i found hope, strength, and encouragement from so many of you.  it was fun to see many of us get pregnant and have babies within a few months of each other.  some of us have gone on to get pregnant again {whether planned or unplanned}, some have decided they are content with the baby or babies they gained from that long awaited successful cycle.  unfortunately for me, i’m sort of stuck where i was before.  even though i’m a mommy to brian, i have a longing to feel another baby stretching my belly, to hold another fresh little bundle, to smell that new baby smell.  and i want a sibling for brian {because life is easier when you have someone to discuss just how crazy your parents are with}.  but here i am, stuck being {in}fertile, only this time, our go-to treatment {FET} doesn’t seem to be working.  my womb is empty once again, and my heart has a hole that is longing to be filled.  i wanted to share one last update {or lack thereof} and provide some closing thoughts, mostly because i need closure.  stick with me if you can.

after brian, we had 7 frozen embryos left. i never really tracked my cycle, but imagined it would be much the same.  coupled with hubby’s awful sperm statistics, it just seemed easier to go back on birth control and try to get pregnant through a FET.  well, things are seldom what they seem.  our transfers post brian have been everything but successful and easy.  brian was our only AA embryo.  we had one AB, and 6 BBs.  when transferring our AA led to brian, i always imagined God set apart the AA and AB as our two children.  i imagined the AB would be successful, so naturally i was shocked and upset when the AB didn’t even survive the thaw.  we transferred a BB back in may, which led to a negative pregnancy test and an awful skin reaction called dermatographia for me.  after 2 weeks of pure hell crawling in my own skin, the dermatographia slowly improved over the next two months but never went away.  we waited the month of june out, but hubby and i agreed it was probably time to start the process up again in july.  of course my RE has never seen the skin reaction, the allergist told me it is what it is and the only treatment is an antihistamine which i already take daily, but my dermatologist offered a little more in at least trying to determine the cause.  he said the skin reaction is usually caused by a meciation, in my case he felt the antibiotic we used for the FET protocol, and that it usually takes a month to go away.  desperate for answers, i wasted a ton of money at my old acupuncturist who promised quick results with one or two treatments.  finally after 8, i accepted that his treatments were not making a difference for me.  i did seek the second opinion of another acupuncturist and traditional chinese medicine doctor.  her treatment plan seems more promising and easier on the budget, so i decided to stick with her.  she cleared us to try again and said we could fix the underlying cause of the dermatographia after another baby.  so, we were back at in july with another transfer scheduled for early august.  i wish this transfer had a happy ending, but it doesn’t.  we transferred one BB, which implanted, but is currently ending in a chemical pregnancy.  and, the dermatographia is worsening, despite changing the antibiotic in the protocol.  to say i’m frustrated would be an understatement.  i have so many emotions – resentment, anger, feelings of abandonment, sorrow, the list goes on.  while we still have 4 embryos left, i don’t feel that my body is in a state to accept them.  knowing nothing about the health of these embryos, it’s hard to keep putting them back in my uterus since we do know my body is upset, as evidenced by the dermatographia.  i’d like to say we will try again one day, but time will tell.

as for the emotional aspect – call it whatever you want, chemical pregnancy or not, there was a tiny baby in me, that i now choose to believe is in Heaven with the first baby we lost through ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.  i really felt like God was opening doors this last cycle, so it is hard for me to see the door close and to lose another baby.  i desperately do not want this to be my last experience and memory with pregnancy.  it’s hard to end on such a sour note.  i’ve had a hard time managing my grief this go around too.  how do i let myself grieve while experiencing so much joy from brian?  the two are separate but intertwined.  i see my bouncing little boy, with his full head of blonde hair and big blue eyes, but have this extreme sense of loss and sorrow.  i know time will bring healing, it did the first time.  but brian also brought healing to my first loss, and i pray that there is another baby to bring healing to the second loss.  in the meantime, feeling the twinges of my body trying to accommodate this life, but knowing there really isn’t life is hard.  hubby and i have framed every picture we received of our embryos on transfer day.  it sits on our nightstand, but like the last, this one will also be taken down and filed in my huge medical organizer.  i’m sure one day i will have the strength to look at the two embryos that never came to be again.

another reason i started this blog was to share my faith through this journey.  i have friends who are Christian, who also experience trials, and who also keep the faith.  i also have friends that can’t accept God and Jesus because of the injustices they experience and witness in the world.  how do you explain loosing a baby?  or when a child is born with a debilitating disease?  or when anyone gets a cancer diagnosis?  or when a loved one’s life is cut short because there should always be more time?  or when entire cities of people are harmed by natural disaster?  i hate when people try to bring comfort by saying “everything happens for a reason.”  i don’t think this is always true.  i don’t think there is a reason innocent babies have to suffer.  i don’t think there is a reason i have had two miscarriages {or at least i don’t know the reason yet}.  often times, there is no explanation.  stuff happens.  life happens.  life is not perfect, for any of us.  but i choose to believe in our Creator.  i choose to have faith and hope.  i choose to believe that one day, my aches and pains will be made better, that one day i will meet the two babies i never got to hold on this earth.  i also believe that God works all things together for the good.  the Bible tells me this, and it’s easier on the heart than to think there is no God or a God that doesn’t care.  while i hope and pray for healing on this side of Heaven, i look forward to complete restoration and perfection on the other side.

to all those waiting on babies or something else in life, don’t give up hope.  don’t lose faith.  the journey is tough, but there will one day be healing.

“for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” {Jeremiah 29:11}

those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. he who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him {Psalm 126:5-6}

and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose {Romans 8:28}

taking a break

last cycle was not kind to me.  at all.  i think this can be attributed to emotional stress and lots and lots of drugs.  i am a different person since giving birth to brian – mainly, i have hypothyroidism, requiring the daily use of synthroid.  then i pumped low dose aspirin, birth control, lupron, estrogen patches, progesterone inserts, progesterone shots, medrol, and doxycycline… and a vallium on transfer day.  oh, and i almost forgot, my daily antihistamine for seasonal allergies, xyzal.  that is a lot of stuff.  but that’s not all my body was asked to process.  i was extremely stressed out {like to the point my shoulders and neck were in a big knot}, so my body had to process it’s own stress hormones too.  10 days after the transfer, i noticed my skin turned red when anything bumped it too hard.  this just escalated as the days passed to the point where any light scratch or even me resting one leg on the other too long results in a bright red spot that takes over an hour to disappear and is usually accompanied by itching.

i was hopeful this would disappear once i started my period and my hormones got back to baseline… no luck.  i asked my RE about it when i went in for my CD3 screening over the weekend.  he said to follow up with my allergist or dermatologist.  by memorial day, i was so desperate that i went to urgent care.  the diagnosis confirmed my google research… dermatographism.  cause unknown.  only treatment… antihistamines… which i take daily.  insert grumpy face here.  i called the allergist this morning, and there is nothing more they can do for me.  my dermatologist says they can help the itch and that’s it… more to come from them today.

i did see my acupuncturist yesterday as i am willing to try ANYTHING to help me at this point.  he said i have toxic heat, which is where the liver gets overburdened with too much stuff {like medications or natural hormones}, your body draws heat away from internal organs, and it manifests itself on the skin whenever it is touched.  logical.  he said he could get rid of it with one treatment, which was last night.  maybe it’s a smidge better, but not much.  i plan to stick with his protocol of treatment and herbs, coupled with lots of prayer in hopes that this horrendous presentation leaves me soon.  oh, and i am a bridesmaid in a wedding this weekend… i am going to look like a red streaked and splotchy freak.

anyway, i think my body was overloaded and is trying to tell me to hit the pause button.  i want my body to be as healthy as possible to receive another baby, both physically, mentally, and spiritually.  i am taking the minimum/usual prescription drugs right now.  i am seeking acupuncture treatments.  the stress is still very much a struggle.  i am guilty of overthinking and getting wrapped up in the “what-ifs” of the future… this is very much a constant struggle for me, but i am trying to pause and pray through those moments.  i have a follow up with my RE next week.  i will discuss my concerns with him and see if we can alter the protocol at all to try to avoid something like this in the future. 

God, please bring me peace and comfort.  please work through the physicians and therapists i have trusted for my care.  please help me to remember that worrying about tomorrow won’t benefit me today, and that your plan is perfect.  thank You for Your sovereignty, which You have shown me so many times throughout my life.  please heal me of this dermatographia, and if it is Your will, please allow us to have another happy, healthy baby.

not pregnant

the title says it all, but i documented how i felt along the way, mostly because i wish i had done this with brian to have a comparison.  some days i felt totally normal, and other days i swore i was pregnant. 

2 days after my transfer, i thought i felt implantation cramping, otherwise felt normal.

3 days after the transfer, i felt dizzy, saw dark brown/nearly black streaks exiting with leftover crinone, and could feel my heart beat in my uterus {sounds weird, but i could feel that with brian early on}.  but something strange happened.  my entire abdomen cramped up when getting up from laying down (this also happened  on transfer day at the fertility clinic and once on day 2).  WTH body?   WTH?  probably it’s way of making sure my embryo didn’t implant.  

tested 4 days after the transfer in the morning, definitely negative – mostly did this because with brian i thought the first two + tests were evap lines, so i wanted a clean control {and for the record i no longer believe in evap lines}.  no longer feel my heart beat in my uterus, and felt normal.

5 days after my transfer the lightheadedness returned, HPT still negative. 

6 days later, negative.  feel normal, but my emotions are fragile today.  i know not every cycle will work, that’s why we started “early.”  but i have this overwhelming fear that we will slowly deplete our frozen embryos with no success, and then i’m back to square one and need to do another egg retrieval. and will my insurance company let me?  or will we have to waste time with IUIs again?  and maybe my thyroid levels are off and that’s not helping?  this process is complex.  the human body is complex.  

7 days later, still negative.  still lightheaded.  had acupuncture, and chuck thinks i could be pregnant.  every time i give up, i get another wave of false hope.  definitely emotional torture.  and i’m starting to question chuck’s credibility. 

8 days later, still negative.  this is awful, but i’m going to remove the framed picture of our embryo from my nightstand.

day 9, negative.  and i’m done wasting HPTs.  blood test is on day 11.  i had it moved up a day so i had time to cancel my next shipment of PIO.  i think i’m depressed.  i mean, i poured myself into this process for 6 weeks to just lose two embryos.  i never imagined that i would be this upset.  after having brian, i felt so complete… i thought i would be ok if he were to be our only little.  but my heart is aching again.  and i’m bitter.  i’m tired of going to the doctor to try to get pregnant.   i’m tired of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on these efforts.  i cry at least once a day, usually two or three times.  i’m seriously a wreck.  

day 10… didn’t even test.  i honestly couldn’t face another negative.  i know the answer is negative, so no point rubbing it in my face unnecessarily.  emotionally, i’m doing a bit better today.  i had a long walk with a dear friend who is also embarking on the FET journey after years of {in}fertility, and it was good to just spend some time with someone who gets it.  in processing, i’ve come up with quite a long list of questions for dr. w.  mostly related to things that were different this cycle than with brian:

  1. were my thyroid levels good prior to the transfer?  
  2. could PCOS be at play here?  should i take metformin again?  what have my estrogen and FSH levels been at CD3?  
  3. could the mucus ball in my uterus at the start of the cycle impacted this?
  4. what about the crazy abdominal cramps i had right after the transfer?  have you heard of this before?  is this my body’s way of trying to prevent implantation?
  5. should we consider transferring more than one embryo in the future?  

i’m sure my questions won’t be well received… they never are.  i think my RE’s office wishes patients would play dumb and not think with their own brains.  i’ll probably ask nurse mary or whoever calls tomorrow to help me schedule a debrief appointment.  i don’t give a damn if they don’t like my questions… they will be answered, and if i must, i will take my business elsewhere.

day 11, negative.  no surprise here, but the phone call still crushed me.  mostly because nurse mary {still not my fave} acted like we will have to take a break between cycles.  say what?!  she is checking on this with dr. w, hopefully she actually does her job and gets back to me about this soon.

i probably will not recap FET take 3 unless there is new and different information to share.  best of luck to all those waiting on babies.

IVF recap – FET attempt #2

call me crazy, but brian is approaching one (will be one by the time i actually post this), and i feel the need to get the show on the road for number 2.  i’ve seen so many friends who battled infertility with their first to go on and wage war again for another baby, and i would rather have a bit of a buffer and not feel crunched.  hubby agrees, so we are proceeding with caution.

i’m writing this in real time, but will post later… sometime after the transfer.  i’m just not a post as i go kind of girl… maybe i’m slightly superstitious {which is totally ridiculous}.

hormone evening out: BCPs

it’s funny, details from my first transfer that i swore i would never forget, i’ve forgotten… like exactly how long i took birth control and lupron shots, how many progesterone shots prior to the transfer, etc.  good thing i {sort of} documented that here.  i don’t have an official day count of how long i have been taking BCPs, because i’ve been taking them since november in preparation for this.  i recently called my RE’s office to say i was ready to start the FET process again and they drafted up a protocol that seems like a good timeline.  during this time, we also signed consents for the transfer, coincidentally on brian’s birthday. 

trial transfer and sonohysterogram

apparently my bladder was too full again {sorry dr. w, took me 45 minutes to get to your office thanks to traffic and the morning hot tea moves quickly}.  dr. w explained that these tests were necessary again because after having a baby the uterus changes size and shape, and theoretically the measurements for embryo placement may be different. i also had some “retained products of conception” after delivering brian requiring a d&c, so dr. w wanted to make sure my uterus was clear.  i’m happy to report that all went well.  interestingly enough, this test was scheduled for brian’s original due date.  dates don’t line up often in my life, but this is just weird. 


i started lupron on trial transfer day {again, weird with the dates since this was my due date with brian}.  i actually did not want to give myself the shot even though it was a tiny baby one.  crazy how i would do almost anything to get pregnant the first time.  shots didn’t phase me in the slightest, but today it did.  it went well enough though.  lupron will continue until progesterone starts.  i don’t remember this happening for FET #1, but i started spotting on lupron and the last day of BCPs… the only thing i can think of is that i took BCPs one day longer than i normally would in a cycle.  guess we’ll see how my hormones look in a few days.  also, my boobs hurt the last few days of lupron only, before starting patches.  i don’t remember this happening last time {at least i didn’t document it}.  lupron is supposed to suppress, so who knows. 

also, seems these little shots are giving me little headaches most evenings.  all for a good cause, i suppose.

last BCP

after starting lupron, i only took BCPs for 5 more days.  i spotted on the last day (see above).  my period/withdrawal bleeding started two days after the last BCP, which is similar timing to FET number one.

cycle day 3 screening (somehow this is technically CD 1, i guess because it’s my patch start date)

my appointment went well today.  i had to bring brian with me, which is always awkward at an {in}fertility clinic.  hopefully the other patients who have yet to have a baby view it as a success story, instead of judging me for rubbing a child in their faces.  there were two other ladies who had kiddos with them, so that helped.  back to the appointment, i met one of the newer doctors today (two of the familiar faces from my IUI, egg retrieval, and first FET days have since retired).  this lady was very friendly, but either her techniques weren’t as great or i couldn’t relax because my bladder was full having no chance to pee bringing brian with me and brian was fussing during the ultrasound because he wasn’t a fan of the lights getting turned off.  either way, the ultrasound wasn’t comfortable, but my insides looked good.  nurse mary {still not my fave, and apparently she is the nurse manager now… gasp!  i could think of so many other better candidates for that position just from my limited interaction with other nurses} called later in the day to say my blood work was good too, so i start estrogen patches this evening and decrease my lupron dose.

estrogen patches

first patch was uneventful.  it gets traded out this evening for another single patch.  then i will work my way up to four patches by changing them out and adding one every other day.  

by the third day of patches (still only one patch), i have noticeable cervical mucus and my ovaries hurt.  i remember the cervical mucus from last time, not so much ovary pain.  i’m moving up to 2 patches tonight.  my next ultrasound and labs are scheduled for next week (scratch this – i ended up going sooner, see below), hopefully my ovaries will be quiet and my lining will be pretty. 

i’m up to four patches now.  holy mucus.

been at four for a few days, and i had my first emotional breakdown.  i’m sure the hormones don’t help my cause, but for the record this process still sucks.  relying on a doctor to conceive a baby for you sucks.  relying on estrogen patches and progesterone shots to stay pregnant sucks.  having to order said medications from the speciality pharmacy because my insurance plan makes me sucks.  crying helps me accept.  this is my journey.  everyone has something because life is imperfect.  instead of constantly striving for perfection, i need to say thanks for what i have and how far i’ve come.  for me, and probably for most, this is a never ending process.  also, my appetite is out of control and i’ve gained a couple of pounds quickly… i’m assuming this is from the patches?  i’ll blame it on them for now.

i’ve been at four patches for more than a week and all of the sudden i have red spots that will not fade when i change them out.  what the heck?  hopefully this is just a fluke or i will run out of real estate soon. 

mid-cycle check (CD 7)

had an impromptu visit with my RE this morning after 3-4 days of ovary soreness.  my doctor asked me why i was concerned… “because you have cervical mucus?”  while i wanted to reply with “i’m not that stupid,” i instead told him about how my ovaries have felt tender.  i was just supposed to have an ultrasound, but the ultrasound revealed several smallish follicles and fluid in my uterus, so my RE ordered blood work too.  there is no dominant follicle, so ovaries are not an issue, so now we will have to see if the fluid disappears.  i wonder if this is what’s causing my discomfort.  anyway, i’m told this happens sometimes and progesterone usually dries it up.  i’m kind of worried about this cycle now and am hesitant to transfer our next best embryo because i don’t have a whole lot of confidence in my uterus.

second mid-cycle check (CD 12)

well, no more fluid!  i honestly think the fluid was a giant ball of mucus because something that looked like a mucus plug and that was streaked with blood fell out of me over the weekend/CD 9.  anyway, back to my appointment this morning… i had the triple stripe, as pointed out by the doctor on duty and according to nurse mary, everything looks perfect.  i know all too well that just because things look good doesn’t mean you will actually get pregnant.  we have a fair amount of frozen embryos still, but next in line is our only AB embryo… the rest are BB.  i’m nervous to use our AB, but i’m praying that the right embryo will make it to my uterus.

day minus 5 (new medicine day)

i traded lupron for four new medicines:

  1. doxycycline 2x a day: uneventful.  just had to rearrange my prenatal time.
  2. crinone 2x a day: the real fun hasn’t even begun… give this puppy a few more days to work up some good funk.
  3. progesterone in ethyl oleate: first shot was just fine, however my butt muscle was sore the next day.
  4. medrol: loathed this one last time and still do.  i’m currently listening to my husband snore as i “rest” in hopes that sleep will come soon.

day minus 3

just not feeling good about this cycle.  i feel crampy every now and then… who knows.  got a wart on my finger frozen at my primary care doctor this morning, seriously worried that will interfere with the FET.  he started talking about how the freezy stuff triggers an immune response, pretty sure i do not need any immune responses.  still praying that all works out according to God’s plan, which i know it will.

update on crinone… this stuff is still gross.  i think it seriously irritates all of my lady parts and just makes them hurt.  i had the option of skipping crinone this time, but hubby and i decided it was best to keep the same protocol that worked with brian, even though my RE doesn’t use crinone as much anymore.  to think, i could’ve avoided this.  if this cycle is not a success, i may consider ditching crinone for future cycles.

oh, and PIO… how you are a pain in my {back}side, literally.  i forgot how sore i got from these shots the first time… natures way of tricking me in to doing this again.  while they suck, when i think about the fact that i only had to use them for ~9 weeks with brian, i know it’s worth it.  it’s such a short span of time relative to the rest of pregnancy {and life}.  i hope i’m lucky enough to get another babe on take 2 so i don’t have to have cycle after cycle of PIO.  

either i’m adjusting to the medrol, it’s being kinder to me, or i’m so exhausted that my body gave in, but sleep finally came easier (although i did wake up to pee in the middle of the night, which is unusual).

day minus 2

blood work only today.  the past two draws, it felt like the technician was trying to rip the vein out of my arm. anyway, nurse mary called to say everything looks “perfect.”  i don’t love that word, but whatever you say nurse mary… i will be there at 10 am for a 10:30 am transfer in two days. 

day minus 1

i’m nervous and excited.  over thinking everything.  and finding comfort in some of my favorite Bible verses today.  in less than 24 hours, i will be at my RE’s office for FET take 2!

transfer day

after an awful night of sleep, here we are.  prayers said, consents signed, valium taken, hospital gown on.  just found out our AB embryo didn’t survive the thaw, so now we’re down to 6 BBs, well 5 after the one that will be transferred today.   i’m disappointed and sad, but God is in control.  this process is so emotional, but i hope will be worth it. 

the transfer itself went well, although apparently my bladder was not full enough {i will likely never get this right}.  we got to see our embryo up on a big monitor before the transfer and watch it make its way to my uterus on another monitor.  then i rested for 30 minutes after {and maybe cried a little}.  the nurse had my doctor stop by after she saw me crying.  he probably thinks i’m nuts, but this process is just draining and full of the unexpected, and sometimes you just need to cry those emotions out.

i had acupuncture after my transfer, which is always relaxing.  now i’m just taking it easy at home – i plan to watch a little gilmore girls, search for some more house decorations, maybe nap. 

to keep the tradition alive, here is a picture of me and the hubs all suited up for the transfer {love the “artwork” in the background, ha}:

12 day wait

generally, i’m not a patient person.  infertility has helped me work on this a little, but there’s still room for improvement.  it’s only the first day of 12, but i don’t have a great feeling about this cycle.  with brian, i had so much peace.  it’s not coming easy this time.  i’m over analyzing every twinge and cramp, or lack thereof.  i haven’t decided if i will test before my beta.  i don’t want to drive myself crazy, but i want to be prepared if the results aren’t what i hoped for… so maybe i’ll test a couple of days before. 

5 days out now.  on day 3, i swore i was pregnant.  now i’m about 70% sure i’m not and the HPTs agree so far.  i know there’s still time, but my vote is not pregnant.  if anyone has success stories where you were still pregnant with negative HPTs 5dp5dt, i’m all ears.  i keep wondering where i went wrong.  with brian, so many people were praying… maybe i needed more prayer warriors.  then i realized 88% of the population just has sex without telling the whole world and asking for prayer, and they get pregnant.  wouldn’t that be nice.

anyway, here’s to baby g #2, whenever you come along!  

    happy transferversary

    one year ago today, my life changed forever.  while we had to wait several days to see if the transfer was successful, july 24th was the day i became pregnant with the baby i was unable to conceive on my own.  he had to start his life in a petri dish {or something other than my womb}, but i’m so thankful he did.  a year ago i knew nothing more about this baby other than it was our only AA embryo, embryo number 19.  it’s amazing to hold his little body, to kiss his cheeks, to be the recepient of his smiles and laughs, and to watch him grow before my eyes.  my little man and i have been on quite the journey already, and i look forward to the journey ahead.  God is good.

    postpartum appointment

    i had a post in draft discussing my postpartum recovery experience so far.  it was detailed and, as usual, a little sarcastic.  then i went to my OB yesterday {exactly 6 weeks after delivery} for my postpartum appointment, and i have something a little more pressing to write about.

    the appointment was a hot mess.  after waiting for 45 minutes {even though i was supposed to be the first appointment after lunch}, my doctor finally graced me with his presence.  i needed a repeat pap due to having abnormal pap smears while pregnant {apparently not all that uncommon}, but as he began his exam he handed the nurse something that was large and in a sterile wrapper.  i instantly knew that was not needed for the pap and just about the time i started to focus on the instrument, he says “amber, there is something coming out of your cervix here.  it is either placenta or a clot.  and if it’s placenta, we need to know about it to make sure you don’t have a condition called placenta percreta.”  i said gross and didn’t think too much about it as he dug a little bit of the mass out and then performed the pap – both tests to be sent to the lab.  he didn’t talk too much more about the mystery mass other than mentioning surgery might be required.  after that, i moved to asking him the 1,000 questions i had been saving for 6 weeks, which he answered.  the appointment felt a bit rushed as he was late from the OR and had a backlog of patients, so there was no further talk about the possible placenta issue, whether my reproductive system is healed, and birth control.  did i mention that my appointment was a hot mess?

    mother-in-law was watching brian as he napped, and i needed to get home to pump, so i was very focused on getting out without thinking too much further about the placenta issue or the fact that we barely covered anything other than my 1,000 questions during the appointment.  i honestly thought surgery would be something like a d&c – would stink, but very manageable.

    several hours later, i finally googled placenta percreta, and i was not prepared to find what i did.  essentially this is where the placenta attaches itself too firmly to the uterus.  in my case, even though {most of} the placenta was delivered, there could be a portion that is leftover and embedded in my uterus.  treatment looks pretty grim, as surgery is not usually successful at removing the leftover placenta due to the risk of bleeding to death, and a hysterectomy is often needed.  i should’ve known something was up when i had an excessively large clot {oversized golf ball} 5-6 days after delivery.  here’s the thing, the clot wasn’t all clot looking… part of it seemed to be grainy, dried up tissue.  while i’m not gushing blood, bleeding hasn’t ceased for me either.  and the last couple of weeks, when things should be mostly healed, i get weird uterus cramps and a sensation like something is stuck inside me/moving down my vaginal canal every once in a while {although i never see anything large coming out}.

    here is where i have to assume the worst.  if it is a clot, wouldn’t it simply detach itself and come free?  i’m a fairly active person – take walks or use the elliptical almost every day.  i go up and down stairs probably 100 times a day at home {i should really count this one day}.  i would think all of that activity should jiggle a clot right out.

    i am now an emotional wreck.  my cervix feels like something is jammed in it – probably more of whatever the OB pulled out yesterday.  or maybe the sensation is more in my vaginal canal.  anyway, it will be about a week before the results are back {and next monday is a holiday, so maybe longer}.  because the first couple of weeks of brian’s life were so challenging for me, hubby and i joked on multiple occasions that brian may be our only child.  now that there is a risk that i may need to have a hysterectomy, i wish i would’ve never been so extreme with joking.  deep down, i know that i’d like to have at least one more child for brian to have a sibling and immediate family other than mom and dad.  not to mention, a hysterectomy at the age of 26 doesn’t sound ideal.  but at the same time, i’m thankful for brian’s life and know that my health and safety is extremely important too.

    i’m asking for prayer if you follow along.  i have several friends and prayer warriors already on the job, but the more prayers sent up, the better.  two passages come to mind – the first about the importance of others’ prayers and faith for you, and the second is the verse that carried me through IVF and pregnancy.  God is a mighty God, and i’m praying that if it’s His will, whatever my doctor discovered yesterday is non-issue or is treatable.

    some men came, bringing to Him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “son, your sins are forgiven.” now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,  “why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! who can forgive sins but God alone?” immediately Jesus knew in His spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and He said to them, “why are you thinking these things? which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘get up, take your mat and walk’? but I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” so He said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” he got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. this amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “we have never seen anything like this!” {Mark 2:3-12}

    ah, Lord God! behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. there is nothing too hard for You.{Jeremiah 32:17}

    a visit to the {in}fertility clinic

    i brought baby brian to dr. w’s office today for a quick visit.  and quick it was.  we chatted with nurse denise the most, spoke to dr. w for maybe three minutes, and nurse mary for even less time.  it was good to see them now that i’m on the other side, and they seemed to enjoy seeing the result of their work.  nurse mary and dr. w both immediately said that brian looks like hubby.  if several friends didn’t already mention this, i would think they were coached to say that to make IVF patients feel confident with IVF {i’m having a harder and harder time determining who brian looks like, although i did think hubby at first}.

    today provided a sense of closure for me.  last night i gathered up some leftover {but new} fertility medicine that i didn’t need so i could donate it to the practice {the staff uses medication like this to help patients whose insurance may not cover fertility drugs}.  i also threw away my old sharps container and almost empty vials of progesterone in oil and lupron.  then today, i walked in dr. w’s office as a parent instead of multi-year patient.  even if i need treatment to conceive a future child {if i can forget about how hard the first two weeks of brian’s life were and dare to embark again}, i will already be a mommy.  something about that reality just changes things.  beyond the mental closure, there was a physical sense of closure for me too.  the office was undergoing renovations when i was sent back to my OB last fall, and it looked totally different now.  it was not the place i was accustomed to.  if i do need treatment in the future, i’ll be walking into a “new” clinic with less reminders about all that went wrong {or not my way} in the years leading to brian.

    finally, i hoped to ask dr. w’s thoughts on birth control as i have my postpartum appointment with my OB next week and know birth control will come up, but i didn’t have the opportunity to do this is our three minute conversation.  i have two thoughts: 1) birth control just seems wrong after all i’ve been through to have brian, and 2) i’m not sure hormonal birth control is the right option since i have PCOS.  on one hand, it would help prevents cysts, but on the other, it may aid the mess that my hormones are with PCOS.  apparently there is a small window when my cycles will be normal after weaning, and i may want to capitalize on this to try to conceive naturally.  seems like i should not use hormonal birth control then.  anyway, i ended up sending dr. w an email with my question, so i hope he replies.

    that’s all for now.  i hope to blog about my postpartum recovery soon.

    i can’t even come up with a good title. oh, maybe ‘help!’

    here’s my disclaimer, this post is going to be a therapy session for me {if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that i can’t find a decent counselor to counsel}.  i almost decided not to post this, but recently got a little stirred up again {about another family thing – a different post for a different day}, so decided to.  feel free to skip or provide advice.

    thought 1: my family is insane, part 1 – communication

    sister-in-law had been pending delivery for about a month.  after 3 prior admittances, the 4th time was finally a charm, and my first nephew was born weighing in at 9 lbs, 1 oz a couple of weeks ago.  so happy for them, but watching my parents and extended family behave throughout this process has kind of upset me and the hubs.  each time labor began, my dad would start a group text to send updates {or lack thereof}.  one time my mom started emailing me too {parents are divorced so i hear everything twice}.  once it was the real deal, i received very graphic updates like “sister-in-law is 8 cm dilated and the doctor can feel the head with his finger.”  even after the baby arrived, i was informed of his circumcision.  oh, and did i mention the picture i received of my sister-in-law looking a sweaty mess during {what i presume to be} her first skin to skin time with the baby?  while my bro and his wife didn’t seem to mind this behavior, it has me a bit frustrated.  how much of my labor progress is going to be spammed out for all to hear?  and what kind of photos does my family plan on snapping to share?

    continuing on the communication front, news travels fast.  after our ultrasound with the high risk doctor where we learned that little boy is head down, i exchanged a few text messages with my paternal grandmother.  she inquired about the baby’s position, so i gave her an update.  that night while sister-in-law is in labor, i get a text from my mom that says “i know you are sleeping but your dad just told me that brian turned head down!! that’s awesome!!”  so looks like grandma told dad and dad told mom.  news certainly travels fast.  i don’t care that my parents know this information, it’s just frustrating that it doesn’t come from me and that it spreads in about 12 hours.

    thought 2: my family is insane, part 2 – the hospital

    so, turns out that at least my parents camped out in the waiting room over night as they waited for their first grandchild.  my dad lives 1.5 hours away, so maybe i can see his thought process.  but my mom lives 20 minutes from the hospital.  i guess she didn’t think she’d make it in time?  when i face timed with my brother that evening {14 hours after the baby’s birth and 24 hours from my sister-in-law’s admittance}, my mom was still at the hospital trying to look busy shuffling stuff around.  apparently she never left.

    thought 3: my brother is not smart

    when telling about your wife’s labor and delivery experience, these are things you do not say to your sister, who will deliver in less than a month:

    • “she is doing good, hurting a little because EVERYTHING TORE APART.  i didn’t even know what was what.  but she’s ok now.  sore.”  {i kid you not, a direct quote from a text he sent me, capitalization and all}
    • she pushed for 4 hours
    • “oh yeah and the epidural only numbed her belly and leg!  talk soon.”  {also a direct quote, and why did he use an exclamation point?  that’s not at all exciting.}

    thought 4: expectations

    so, i didn’t run down to the hospital to meet my nephew on his birthday.  not that i’m not excited, but i had several things going on that day.  i had to leave work {for the second time that week} for a long doctor appointment.  after that, i had to log on from home to finish up my workday only to find that everything was a hot mess and i needed to put in several more hours of work that evening.  after that, i wanted to do something for me, so i decided to exercise.  by that time, hubby came home and it was time for dinner.  then, was i really going to get myself ready and go back uptown to visit the baby at 8 pm {remember, i’m a tired pregnant person}?  i figured no, because they’ll be there tomorrow.  and they were likely more tired.  and, i texted my brother earlier that day and got no response, so i figured they were overwhelmed.  and {here’s the selfish thought}, do i really want to be in a place full of germs during cold and flu season if i don’t have to be?

    well, apparently my family had different expectations of me on my nephew’s birthday.  i started receiving text messages asking if i was busy and why i hadn’t gone to the hospital yet from my father.  he told me “you need to call tonight, your brother wants to share this with you.”  i’m  sorry, but i’m an adult with a life to manage.  i do not need to justify myself to my father or anyone for that matter {other than God}.

    clearly my family is “all in” on these type of events.  which is all good if that’s what the couple desires.  again, don’t think the brother and sister-in-law minded, but i worry that my family won’t understand that all of the attention isn’t necessarily what hubby and i desire.

    thought 5: if you’re sick, stay home

    so after my nephew arrived, we had a little get together at my grandmother’s house to celebrate my sister-in-law and the baby because her baby shower prior to the baby’s birth was cancelled after her first pre-term labor episode and because she got sick.  i guess not wanting to miss the fun, several family members showed up to the get together sick or with illness in their immediate family members at home {one of my aunts was late because one of her daughters got sick in the car on the way down and she had to take her back home}.  then these people proceeded to hold and snuggle the 10 day old infant {without washing hands}.  i pray my nephew is healthy.  all i can say is that this event didn’t fare well for me because i came down with a nasty cold 2 days later {part of the reason i’m behind on blogging}.  guess hubby and i will have to be selective on who comes around and holds bitty after he arrives.

    thought 6: how will our labor and delivery experience shake out?

    if you haven’t gathered from what i’ve shared above, hubby and i are not fans of extra attention.  while we appreciate the prayers and support from our family, we are also a bit private {i guess that’s the right word}.  we definitely can’t wait to introduce our son to our family, but we feel this doesn’t need to take place within an hour or two of giving birth.  we want skin to skin, bitty’s first meal, stitches and getting cleaned up for me to be just for our family of 3.  we don’t think my extended family needs group texts with my cervical progression, and i certainly don’t want any pictures of me remotely uncovered with the baby being taken by my parents and sent to others.

    again, we don’t know how our actual labor and delivery experience will unfold, but the current plan is to be induced in about a week at 39 weeks.  i feel we should share my expectations with my parents, hubby’s parents, and my local grandma prior to the onset of labor.  if bitty is still head down and things seem system go for induction after my OB appointment this week, i plan to send a group email {so it doesn’t look like i’m calling out any one individual} with the date of our induction and our expectation for visits.  hubby’s parents have already told us just to tell them when we’re ready and that they don’t feel the need to be present at every moment if that’s not our desire {why can’t my parents be this awesome?}.

    one thing i struggle with is the thought of something going wrong… what if that happens and i’ve just pushed my family away?  hubby and i have fought so hard for this baby, i definitely don’t want my wish for privacy to be a reason something goes wrong.  but i don’t think things work this way.  at least i pray they don’t.

    23 week ultrasound & fetal echocardiogram

    today we had a check in with the high risk doctor.  it was time for my next cervix check and fetal echocardiogram.  getting right down to business, our appointment went well.  and for that, i am so grateful.  thank you to anyone who said a prayer for us!

    my cervix was nice and long still {despite my near daily mini panic attacks from the ever changing flow of cervical mucus}.  bitty boy measured right on track at 23 weeks 2 days.  my repaired septate uterus seems to be stretching enough with the baby, although he is breech since i have more room horizontally than vertically.  there’s still time for him to turn, so we shall see.  the echocardiogram went well.  the ultrasound tech and doctor looked at several parts of the heart: the atrium, ventricles, veins, the flow of blood, and probably more {i’m not well versed in anatomy}.  we did ask the doctor about the potential arrhythmia.  he doesn’t doubt that we heard a skipped beat or two, as it is quite common.  he said they see a lot of patients for irregular fetal heartbeats, some so strange they have the pediatric cardiologist come listen, but the majority of the time everything is ok.  apparently as the baby’s heart continues to develop, it can just have an irregular rhythm.

    i loved the ultrasound tech today.  she was so sweet, very patient, and did a great job explaining everything she was looking at.  at the beginning of the appointment, she spent quite a bit of time to get us a good profile shot of our sweet boy.  she also gave us a 3D photo of his little face {hands down my favorite picture yet}.

    overall, we’re very relieved that everything went well today.  i can’t ask for anything more at the present moment.  we go back again in 4 weeks.

    below is our very first picture of our little boy in his petri dish on transfer day, followed by his sweet face at 23 weeks.  i am in awe of our Creator’s perfect design for His creation.