Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Change of Heart

 I feel like the post unsuccessful IVF cycle often feels like cleaning up after a war.  I seem to be having a tougher time recovering each time.  You spend weeks pumping your body full of drugs and then in one day you stop abruptly.  It shocks your system a bit.  I’ve had terrible insomnia and horrible mood swings and feel slightly crazy at the moment.

My doctor has decided to place me on a three month break.  During that time they are going to give me a high dose of Lupron.  One shot per month that will put me in a chemically induced state of menopause.  It is the best cure aside from a full hysterectomy to treat severe endometriosis.  We are going to talk more about our options at a meeting on the 28th.  When he called me this week he suspected that the embryos that they implanted ended up fizzling out around day five since that was what happened to the embryo that they were watching to potentially freeze.  Before the third cycle he did suggest that if it didn’t work that we should consider using an egg donor for our last and final round since the quality of my eggs has been continuously in question.  At first I was very open to this suggestion and so was my husband.  We even had friends who stepped forward and offered to donate.  I knew I would be more comfortable using someone I knew.  After more consideration however I’ve had a change of heart.

I believe that the best tool that can be used in making major decisions is The Bible.  Because my name is Sarah I’ve always felt very connected to Sarah in the Bible.  I read through Genesis 16 and although the situation is a bit different I found the thought of egg donation to be similar as the situation between Abraham, Haggar and Sarah, just with better technology.  Sarah always seemed to be a mature, wise and dignified woman but I didn’t like who she was during that time in her life and things didn’t turn out well when it appeared that she allowed her desperation for a child to cloud her wisdom.  I just feel that using an egg donor is possibly forcing something to happen that may not be meant to happen.

Going back to the Bible as a reference for decision making, James 1:27 states

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

There are a lot of verses in The Bible that refer to caring for orphans or the fatherless which leads me to believe that if we have the resources to do so (and we do) adoption would be the more Godly decision over egg donation.  Since we have one more round of IVF left we may just take a shot and try the last round using my faulty eggs just to see what will happen.  If it doesn’t work it will at least confirm that one door has been closed and I look forward to seeing what the new open door will bring.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Little baby oblong

I didn’t have the easiest day yesterday. I went in for my transfer. The worst part of the transfer by far is the fact that you have to do it with a full bladder and I’m not good at having a full bladder. You are supposed to drink your water an hour before the transfer so I finished my water at 2pm in preparation for a 3pm transfer. When I got to the office they drew blood, checked my blood pressure and recorded my weight….and then I waited. The Doctor (not the one who travels in TARDIS but that would be really cool wouldn’t it?) was coming from the Vineland office and he hit some bad traffic so he was running late. I was starting to get flushed, sweaty and pretty worried when at 3:20pm he still wasn’t there and I still needed to go through the briefing and then all of the transfer prep. When the doctor walked through the door seconds later, he apologized a lot and they let me empty out a little bit so I wasn’t so uncomfortable.

When we sat down with the doctor he said, “All I want for Christmas this year is a Miduski baby.” He then told us his plans to transfer 3 embryos instead of the usual 2. He said that given my history there is still a greater chance that I won’t be pregnant at all and he wasn’t worried about triplets or more. He then went over our results. I ended up with 7 eggs, they performed ICSI (injecting the sperm directly into the eggs) and we ended up with 4 embryos. He explained that in the past my embryos were loose, which means that the cells didn’t fill out to the edge/zona. Though nothing with infertility is absolutely positive the thought is that loose embryos have a lesser chance of surviving. This time around our embryos had filled out nicely. One was a 5, which is the best grade and the others were 4. Two looked hopeful, one hadn’t quite filled out to the edges and the other was our little oblong.
Above is the actual picture of the three embryos they were preparing to transfer. The top two look pretty good. They are nice and round and filled out to the edge. The bottom one if filled out to the edges but instead of being round it is oblong shaped. The doctor and the embryologist differed in their opinions a bit. The doctor thought that oblong embryos aren’t super great and have less of a chance of surviving. The embryologist thought that there wasn’t enough evidence that that is the case and thought that they could survive and implant just as well as any other embryo. The doctor joked and assured us that no matter the outcome our baby wouldn’t be born with a head like Stewie from Family Guy.
I laughed that there is actually a cartoon called The Oblongs and our little oblong embryo made me think of them. I must admit that I fell in love with our little underdog unusual embryo.

They had me walk to the same top security area where I had the retrieval and I changed into the same attire. My husband then changed into scrubs complete with cap, booties and a face mask. They want to be sure that nothing compromises the embryos. I then climbed up on the table and they prepped me a bit.

Due to my endometriosis and the adhesions that come with it my uterus has been pushed and pulled to the right side of my body instead of being in the center. My right ovary was still quite enlarged and was also pushing on my uterus obstructing the view. This was making getting a good picture of my uterus impossible. When completing the transfer you have to place the embryos in an exact spot at the top of the uterus but it was hard to see where the top was. The doctor decided that retro-filling my bladder may help to push my uterus into a better position. This involved inserting a catheter into my bladder and then pouring liquid through it so that my bladder could expand more and more. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it also wasn’t fun. There was then a lot of pushing on my tummy and jiggling of this and that desperately trying to get a good picture. At this point I wasn’t feeling a ton of pain but there was a lot of uncomfortable pressure. Then my cervix was being stubborn as usual and didn’t want to let the uterine catheter through. I was doing my best to relax so that my cervix would be more relaxed but being in an awkward position with all sorts of things already inserted and a bladder that felt like it was going to burst it was challenging. The catheter was finally able to be inserted and at this point I was feeling really uncomfortable. There was a lot more pushing and jiggling as the doctor and nurse did their best to find the catheter in my uterus as it was still difficult to get a clear picture. They were finally able to get things in place as best as they could and the doctor promised they were going to try to move quickly. The good thing about all of this extra time was that the embryologist was able to examine our fourth embryo and found that since looking at it the day before it had filled out nicely so she switched it out with the oblong one (I know that this was to give us the best possible chance but I have to admit that I was a little sad since I liked little oblong. They will let us know in a few days if it becomes freeze worthy. The embryos were finally transferred through the catheter. The catheter was given to the embryologist to give the all clear that all the embryos were inserted. After that the doctor used the bladder catheter to completely drain my bladder, which was actually the positive part of having had that inserted because after the transfer is complete you have to lay flat on your back for an hour and that is pretty unpleasant when your bladder is full. Feeling much more comfortable, I was transferred to a bed and wheeled to the recovery area where I chilled for an hour. My husband sat with me so we chatted and I admired how handsome he looked wearing scrubs. I was finally able to get up, change and then leave.

Our food tradition for the transfer has been chicken croquettes. So we stopped at Palace Diner (because they have yummy croquettes) and my husband ran in and got two dinners to go since I am not supposed to exert myself. I enjoyed my dinner and we spent the night watching Star Trek episodes. I was feeling pretty beat up and exhausted. I’m still sore and feeling beat up this morning and the same instructions apply today. I am supposed to laze about all day and not walk or exert myself. I have to continue the progesterone oil shots and I have two oral medications that must be taken three times a day. Now comes the worst part of the process, which is having to wait for weeks for the blood test to find out if the process worked. I do a lot of praying and try not to think too much so as not to drive myself crazy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pretty Dancing Lights

On Tuesday I went in for my egg retrieval. The office that I go to performs the egg retrievals there “in the back.” You have to walk through the main part of the office, then through a door down a hallway, through the lab and then into the procedure area. It makes you feel as though you are going to be a part of some super secret experiment. I went into the changing room. I guess it’s the little things but the hospital gowns were nice and new and they let you put on two; one facing front and one facing back. I also had to put booties on my feet and one of those shower cap things on my head. I was then escorted into the procedure room where the anesthesiologist put in my IV (he did an excellent job, I barely felt anything). They had me lay down on the table and prepped me a bit. Though I felt fairly relaxed the anesthesiologist gave me some relaxation medicine. It made me feel super happy and euphoric. I was staring up at the ceiling and the ceiling lights were half their regular color and half pink and they appeared to be dancing and moving all over the ceiling. It was fascinating. The anesthesiologist asked if the medicine was working and I said, “Yes, definitely.” The next thing I knew I was waking up. The nurse and the anesthesiologist were having a conversation about something or other and then they asked me if I was awake. My intention was just to think it but I ended up saying in a voice that sounded groggy and far away, “I don’t remember falling asleep.” The anesthesiologist said that sometimes people start to panic when they know they are about to go under so he just does it without announcing it. I still find the whole feeling of waking up without remembering going to sleep and being unaware of the passage of time very strange but also cool. The anesthesiologist and the nurse then helped me walk to the recovery area. I wasn’t sure I could walk because I felt numb and tingly but I made it into the bed just fine. I was feeling a little crampy but for the most part I was still under the influence of all the drugs so I wasn’t in a lot of pain. I laid there for…I’m not sure how long and I was glad when the nurse finally said I could leave because all I wanted to do was eat something and curl up on my sofa nest to sleep.
The nurse let me know that they retrieved 7 eggs. One of my ovaries only had one good egg and the other ovary held the other 6. I felt slightly disappointed that it wasn’t that great of a number but I am always reminded that it is the quality not the quantity that counts when it comes to eggs. Being our third time around, we have established some unintentional traditions involving food. After retrievals we stop at Panera (which is close to the office). Once we got home I settled into my nest on the sofa, ate and spent the day napping, drinking Gatorade and watching Law and Order SVU (since it was Tuesday it was on all day). I was feeling relatively pain free but I was nervous as time slipped away. During the past two retrievals I would feel fine until about 11pm and then horrible pain would set in. It would usually last for 48 hours before subsiding. I distinctly remember after the second retrieval promising myself that I would NEVER have another retrieval, but here I was again and I watched the clock and waited, and waited but the horrible pain never came. Yes I was crampy, bloated and sore, but it was manageable. I did burn out my heating pad and I had to run out on Thursday morning to buy a new one but it wasn’t a major catastrophe. In fact I was thankful that I could actually run out somewhere and that I wasn’t doubled over with terrible pain.
I did end up drinking a boat load of Gatorade. This time I was prepared and bought a case from Sam’s Club. I started drinking it the moment I got home. The idea is that it helps to flush the excess fluid that has built up in your expanded ovaries out of your system making you feel less bloated and crampy. I only like orange flavor so I’m thankful that we found a case of just orange. On Wednesday the embryologist (who has a fun accent) called and told me that out of the seven eggs four successfully fertilized. This time around they did a procedure called ICSI where they injected the sperm directly into the egg. My transfer was scheduled for Friday. I’ve had to take a bunch of different oral medications and on Wednesday we had to start the Progesterone oil shots. I say “we” because it is another butt shot that has to be given daily so my husband has to be involved. They do feel pinchy and after a while your butt gets sore but if they help then it is all worth it.