The Transfer

We had our embryo transfer this past Friday.  The transfer portion of this whole experience is WAY easier than the retrieval, let me tell ya.

For the transfer, we were brought in for intake, where the nurses had prepared a report card of sorts from our retrieval.  Of the eggs that were retrieved, 19 were deemed healthy enough to try ICSI.  12 had successfully fertilized and as of Friday, 12 were still considered viable embryos.  We were over the moon.

Then we were brought into the transfer room where we met with the embryologist.  She told us not to celebrate yet; the eggs weren’t quite ready to freeze yet.  She wanted to watch them for one more day as she was concerned about where they were in their growth stage.  This left me feeling a little dejected, but Lee remained hopeful.  After all, how could we have produced so many embryos just to have them not end up being viable?

After careful deliberation, Lee and I had chosen to transfer two embryos.  Best case scenario:  Twins!  Warmly welcomed second scenario:  One healthy baby!  Worst case scenario:  No baby.

The transfer itself was quick and painless.  Our doctor wished us luck, but told us to keep our guard up.  Even with everything going as well as it has for us so far, that still doesn’t guarantee a positive.  I tried not to think too much about the additional embryos whose fate was still undecided, but was still holding out hope that in the event that this pregnancy doesn’t take, we’ll have frozen embryos to try again.

Well, I just heard from our doctor’s office.  Unfortunately, none of the other embryos made it that additional day.  This is our one chance.

The silver lining?  They chose the two best embryos to transfer, so we remain hopeful that at least one of them will have the ability to result in a positive pregnancy.  We’ll know for sure on September 29th.

Please keep us in your thoughts.  I have a feeling the next 11 days are going to crawl by.

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After the Retrieval

For those of you waiting who are waiting with bated breath to find out how many viable embryos we have:  I don’t have an update.  Sorry.

What I DO have is a transfer date.  It’s this Friday.

On Monday, I received an update from one of the MCRH nurses.  While she didn’t tell me how many growing embryos we had, she did tell me that we qualified for a day 5 transfer.

This is incredibly good news.  But before I get into how that happened, let me explain a little more about what happens post-retrieval.

Once the eggs have been retrieved, they meet the sperm.  Our doctor uses a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) in which the sperm is injected directly into the egg.  Once that has been done, the eggs are incubated for a period of 16-20 hours.  It’s after this incubation period when the embryologist will determine how many of the eggs have undergone normal fertilization.

If few eggs have started the fertilization process, the embryologist will opt to do a day 3 transfer, the idea being that a woman’s uterus is a better incubator than the one they have at the lab.  If quite a few eggs have started the fertilization process, the embryologist will schedule a day 5 transfer.  This allows the embryologist to monitor the embryos more closely, and allows for selection of the best quality embryos; the ones they think will culminate in a successful pregnancy and live birth.

Day 5 transfers also have a higher success rate than day 3 transfers, thereby increasing our chances for the positive we’ve been waiting for.

The fact that we had enough eggs start the fertilization process to qualify for a day 5 transfer is fantastic news.  It also lends to the idea that we might have extra embryos left over after transfer, so if, for some reason, this round of IVF doesn’t work, we’ll have options for trying to get pregnant again.  Or, if this round of IVF is successful, we’ll have the opportunity to give this baby a brother or sister in the future!

Rest assured, once I know how many embryos we have, you’ll all be the first to know.  Until then, we’ve definitely got a lot to be hopeful for.

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The Retrieval

Yesterday was our retrieval day.  All the work we had done, all the shots, all the pills; finally, we were going to see if it had paid off.

On Friday night, at exactly 9:30 p.m. we took our HCG shot, quickly followed by what’s called the Lupron trigger shot.  The HCG induces ovulation, while the Lupron trigger, prevents ovarian hyperstimulation – a problem that often affects women with PCOS when undergoing ovarian stimulation.  Then, we waited.

Saturday was uneventful.  There were no shots to take, which was a nice respite after about a week and a half of 2-4 shots per day.  Mostly, I was tired and sore.  I could start feel my ovaries getting ready for ovulation.

Sunday morning, I had to be up by 6:30 to drink 16 ounces of water before the procedure.  By this time, my ovaries were so sore and I couldn’t stand up straight.  Our 8:30 appointment couldn’t come soon enough.

Once we got to Dr. Corfman’s office and got situated, they gave me some valium to calm my nerves.  I didn’t feel particularly nervous beforehand, but I cared much less after the valium.  Between my doctor and the nurses, they explained the procedure at length.  An ultrasound probe with a needle attached would go into each one of my ovaries to remove the fluid and any of the eggs that were floating around.  Dr. Corfman explained, that while each one of those follicles would contain an egg, only about 80% of the eggs on average would actually detach from the follicle wall.  He told us not to be surprised if we didn’t get the exact same number of eggs as we had follicles, but assured us that based on the number of follicles I had produced, he was confident that we would get some good ones.  He also assured us that we would know how many eggs were retrieved before we left the office for the day.  With that, Dr. Corfman promised Lee that he would take good care of me and we left to get started.

Once I was in the procedure room, the Fentanyl started flowing.  Dr. Corfman explained that they walk a fine line with administering painkillers with this procedure.  Naturally, they want you to have painkillers so that the retrieval isn’t too terribly ucomfortable, but the administration of the drugs can hurt the eggs.  They administer the painkiller right at the start of the procedure and will administer more as needed, but then it becomes a bit of a race against the clock before the drugs make their way to the baby maker.

I brought my phone into the procedure room with my “Chill the Fuck Out’ playlist ready to go.  The nurses laughed at the name, loved how family & friends had helped me to build it and asked for a copy.  They said anything on the playlist would be better than the terrible old country music that Dr. Corfman normally listened to.

When the procedure was over, Dr. Corfman brought me back in the exam room where Lee was waiting.  He had good news; the average number of eggs normally retrieved is 7-10.  My retrieval produced 25. Twenty-fucking-five!

We’re not out of the woods yet.  We won’t find out until sometime today how many are viable.  Given my age, on average 40-60% of my eggs are considered abnormal.  (Add that to the list of injustices in the difference between men and women)  Our transfer date is entirely dependent upon the number of viable embryos that we have.  It will be sometime either Wednesday or Friday this week.

Thanks to everyone that offered well wishes to Lee and I this weekend.  It means so much!  We truly felt the positivity surrounding us.  If you don’t mind keeping it up for just a little bit longer, we’d appreciate it.   We’re halfway there, but the rest of the way is straight uphill.  We’ll keep you posted as we know more!051a19d614fcc275750619005673277faefae1

 

 

 

 

 

Week 2

We had our 5th and final ultrasound this morning.

We had 16 follicles measuring at  15 or more, 9 follicles measuring between 10 and 15, and another 14 follicles measuring at less than 10, for a grand total of 39 follicles. Follicles generally need to be between 15 to 20 mm in diameter to be considered mature enough for retrieval.  My body has responded incredibly well to the stimulation and maturation drugs and there is a correlation between IVF success rates and the number of eggs retrieved, so we’re hopeful that these are all good signs.

Even with all the good news, there’s still a part of me that wonders when the other shoe is going to drop.

If my body is so primed and ready to make a baby, why hasn’t it happened yet?  Every month we tracked ovulation, every failed IUI attempt; why did we come up empty-handed each and every time?

My biggest fear going into this weekend is that they’ll retrieve my eggs and each and every one of them will be worthless.  And then what?  What’s our next course of action?

I know I need to be positive, and believe it or not I am.  I’m over the moon about our ultrasound this morning.  I am so excited that this is all finally happening.  Months of preparation and hard work are hopefully about to pay off.  But there’s a part of me that knows I also need to be prepared.  It might not work.  And if for some reason it doesn’t, I’m going to be more equipped to deal with it if at least some part of my psyche prepares for a negative result.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking an HCG shot to trigger ovulation.  Our egg retrieval will be on Sunday.  If you find yourself with a little bit of downtime this weekend, please send some good juju our way.  We’ll take all the positive vibes we can get.

 

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Week One

I have become a human pincushion.

I had my first ultrasound last Tuesday.  Everything looked great and we were given the go ahead to start medications.  I had my first injection at 6:30 Wednesday morning.  150 units of Follistim, twice a day until Friday morning, when we had our next ultrasound.

Second ultrasound looked good.  They counted 38 follicles.  Our medication outline changed at that point.  I would still be taking the follicle stimulation drugs in the a.m., but would now be taking a follicle maturation drug as well as an ovulation suppressant in the pm.

We had our 3rd ultrasound on Sunday.  Of the 38 follicles they measured about 13 that were growing at the same pace.  We were told to continue the Follistim in the morning as well as the Menopur and Ganirelix in the evening.

Ultrasound #4 was this morning.  We’re now at about 19 growing follicles, with another 5 that could potentially mature enough by the time we trigger ovulation.  I’ll still be doing a follicle stimulation shot in the morning, but I’m now adding an ovulation suppressant shot each a.m. as well.  So, I’m up to 4 shots per day, and will be until we have our next ultrasound Thursday morning.

The shots aren’t so bad.  I’m bruising a little and you can see the needle marks for each shot, but it could be so much worse.  My arms are a different story, however.

At the start of each ultrasound, they have to take a blood sample so they can check my estrogen levels.  My veins are small, hard to locate, and I bruise like a peach, so needless to say, the track marks on my arms look pretty sexy.

Our egg retrieval will be scheduled some time between September 10th & 12th.  I’m assuming we’ll know when on Thursday.  Until then, we’ll keep our heads down, focusing on doing what has been outlined for us in the hopes that we get our desired outcome.

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Stuff Mom Never Told You

I was sitting at work today, trying to find a new podcast that I could inevitably ignore while working on payroll, and I came across a podcast called Stuff Mom Never Told You.

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An off-shoot of How Stuff Works,  Stuff Mom Never Told You examines feminism and gender roles, as well topics impacting women’s health and careers. Looking through the episodes, I could tell right away that I was going to love this podcast.  With episodes like, “The mysteries of Nancy Drew” (I loved Nancy Drew as a kid, BTW) and “Is there a gender wage gap?”, I was immediately intrigued.  Then, I happened to stumble upon an episode from August of 2010 – “What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?”  I dropped what I was doing to give it a listen.

This episode was wonderfully enlightening.  The hosts do a great job of researching the topic that they’re discussing.  I learned so much from this episode and I didn’t know that was possible.  I thought I knew all there was to know about PCOS already.

I’ve listened to 6 episodes so far today and I can’t wait to listen to more.  Most of the episodes range from 15 minutes to an hour; perfect for the commute to and from work.

If you haven’t listened to this podcast before, I suggest you give it a listen.  And if you want to learn more about PCOS, I’ve copied the link to the PCOS episode below.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Lake Life

This week, I had the great fortune to spend 5 days “up north” (the Minnesotan colloquialism for vacation) with my husband and his family.  Lee’s immediate family as well as some of his extended have had an annual lake week tradition for the better part of 3 decades.  The week and the resort have changed a few times over the years as have some of the faces in attendance, but there’s still a pretty amazing turn out each year.  It’s probably the thing Lee looks forward to most; a week at the lake with his nearest and dearest.

The resort is located in Ottertail, Minnesota, about 3 hours northwest of our home in the Twin Cities.

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The area is filled with resorts and stunning lake homes.  Time seems to slow down in Ottertail, which is exactly what I needed this week.  Though I had planned to write this blog post while I was up there, I found myself apprehensive to even open my computer.  I knew that if I opened my computer, I would probably feel the need to check my work email.  There would be some email that would inevitably put me in a terrible mood and send me down a rabbit hole I would have a hard time climbing back out of.  As such, I didn’t check my work email until I arrived back at the office Thursday morning.  After all, I was on vacation.  Work could wait.

We were able to bring our dog, Omar on this vacation as well, as this resort allows dogs during the offseason.  Omar spent most of his time begging for food, (from us and other families at the resort) and napping in the sun.  All in all, I think it’s safe to say that he enjoyed himself.

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This year was a little bit different than years past, because Lee and I are abstaining from alcohol.  It wasn’t too bad, but I do have to say, the minute we finished unpacking, our first instinct was to make a cocktail.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  Instead of a cocktail, we opted for sparkling water and iced tea.  Don’t tell us we don’t know how to party.

Another thing that was different this year was our bedtime.  It’s amazing how much earlier you go to bed each night when you’re not up playing drinking games.  Early to bed meant early to rise and being an early riser,  I was able to watch the sun come up.  Absolutely breathtaking.

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The majority of our days were spent sitting lakeside, playing cards, bags, doing crosswords and listening to music.  Not a bad way to spend 5 days.  We’d venture in to town from time to time, but I found myself happiest and most at peace sitting on the water.  It made me so thankful for the beauty of my state.  Sometimes, I think  we get too busy with day to day monotony to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.  I was thankful to have time to do that this week.

It’s also crazy to think that by the time lake week comes around next year, we might have a newborn baby to bring with us.  As we drove home on Wednesday night, Lee and I talked about all the changes having a baby would bring to lake week.  For starters, we’ll probably have to give up our bedroom in the party cabin and get a cabin of our own.  We’ll also need two cars; we have a hard enough time fitting all of our stuff into one now!  Yes, many things will change over the course of the next year if we get our positive, but we welcome these changes with open arms.  And we know that if we’re lucky enough to have a baby to bring to the lake next year, between Lee’s parents, sisters, aunts, uncles & cousins, this baby will feel more love than anyone could possible imagine.

3 Years Down….

and forever to go.  Yes, today marks three years being married to my one and only.  I look at how far we’ve come in the time we’ve been together, but especially in the last 6 months or so.  At the risk of sounding like every other pukey couple, I can honestly say, without hesitation, that I love my husband more today than the day I married him.

This year hasn’t been the easiest for us as a couple.  But, I think that we’ve come out of it stronger and more united than ever before.  We’re a team.  And whatever we’re faced with, we’ll be facing it together.

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Now, this next part of the post is for my husband.  You’re more than welcome to read it, but fair warning:  It will be sappy and may induce dry heaves.

 

 

Lee,

Your ability to love and always see the best in me, never ceases to amaze me.  I’m not always an easy person to deal with.  I’m mouthy, easily annoyed and stubborn as hell.  Yet, you always know how to center me and bring me back down to earth.  And you’re not afraid to challenge me, which as weird as it sounds, may be one of my favorite things about you.

I’m a better person for having met you, but I’m an even better person for having married you.  You are helping me to become the best version of myself, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

We’ve had some amazing highs over the last few years as well as some unfortunate setbacks, but at the end of the day, there’s no one else I’d rather be on this journey with.  No one I’d rather start a family with.  I love you with my entire heart, soul and being.

Thank you for choosing me to be your wife.  I look forward to spending the rest of my life proving it was the best decision you’ve ever made.

Love you Always & Forever,

Katherine

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Chill the Fuck Out: A Quick Update

Thanks so very much to all of you that provided songs for my relaxation playlist.  You have no idea how much they mean to me!

I found out this past weekend that I am able to provide my own music for the egg retrieval and transfer.  This playlist will be playing in the background.  It’s so incredibly heart-warming to know that a piece of each of you will be there with me as we go through these procedures.  But, like, not in a creepy way.  In a super sweet, relaxing way.

I feel like I can’t say thank you enough.  I am so overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support we are receiving on a daily basis.  I don’t know what I did to hit the amazing friends and family lottery, but rest assured, I will never take it for granted.

A Sigh of Relief

Today was a good day.  After a week and a half of playing the intermediary between my doctor’s office and the specialty pharmacy I’m required to use for our medications, I was finally able to connect them.  Our prescriptions have been processed and are being delivered Friday.

We were anticipating spending at least a couple thousand dollars to get all of the necessary medications.  The nurses even warned us about the potential costs.  The Ganirelix for instance, is a medication that a lot of plans don’t cover.  Each shot costs $100.  Our prescription called for 9.  And that was just one of the items prescribed!  We had 10 others to cost out in addition.  Naturally, because I’m me, I chose to do some research.  I added up the average price of each drug and came up with about $4000 in total.  That’s what I went into this experience expecting, so I was ready when I received the damage from my pharmacy.

Except there is no damage.  I found out today that all but one of our prescriptions is being covered.  And, since I’ve hit my out-of-pocket maximum for the year, those 10 covered prescriptions are costing us a co-pay of $0.  The total Lee and I will be spending on fertility drugs?  A whopping $455.50.

I went from being almost defeated after our injection class last Wednesday to on top of the world today.  It’s like I hit some sort of IVF medication lottery!

I  have to thank you all for the kind words, prayers and positive vibes that you’ve sent our way.  It’s days like today when I know they are working.  I feel so incredibly fortunate that we have such wonderful family and friends in our corner.  Your belief in me, in us, is making it a lot easier for me to believe in me too.

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