Thursday, March 31, 2016

IVF 4: Baseline

My baseline appointment was on Tuesday and everything looked good to start, so I begin stims on Friday. My medication order came in and I'm all set to start again. The bloating I had last week is almost entirely gone - I didn't need antibiotics or anything else. I think stopping to eat crap and adding water and exercise may have helped with that. So now I'm feeling nice and unbloated... just in time to start a cycle again.

I'm worried about this cycle. I worry before every cycle, but this one seems different. It's possible that it's worrying me to have a cycle so close to Pesach. I've started menus and lists, and we've figured out our Seder plans. It doesn't mean that prep is done, but rather that I realize how much still needs to be done and recovering from an egg retrieval just days prior is overwhelming to think about.

I'm also worried about last cycle's count. We ended up with one embryo from a whole cycle but we never got it tested so we don't know if it's transferable. I'm worried about the results from this one might not be better. I really want this to work already. I'm ready to move on. I want to make it to the next steps.

When we started 2016, I was sure we'd be welcoming home our baby by December. It was just a given - of course it will work, it's a third cycle! Why haven't I learned yet? It's not a given. Nothing is a given and there's no guarantee any part of it will work. It's not even that the transfers aren't sticking anymore, it's that we haven't gotten anything to transfer yet, regardless of how much money we've sunk into this so far.

It's hard to get sucked into the what if's and the should-haves... it should have worked and I should be expecting by now. In fact, had the first transfer stuck, I'd be coming up on my due date in May. How crazy is that? I realized what a different year I've had than the one I expected when we transferred in the fall.
One thing I did learn, aside from managing my expectations, is that each cycle is unpredictable. I don't know what this cycle will bring. I'm hoping the recovery will be simple and that I'll be able to enjoy Pesach. I'm hoping it will be successful and we'll get several transferable embryos out of it. I'm hoping it will lead to a successful transfer this summer. I hope it's the last cycle for all the right reasons. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March Updates

Purim was so fun! It was on a Thursday and we had half-day at work so I took off those few hours and spent the time making the meal. I used a new recipe for roast and it came out delicious. The weather was gorgeous, unlike last year when it snowed on Purim. I was lucky to have off Friday to recover and clean up.

Basement project is on its way to completion! The contractor finished on time as promised and we started moving all the books downstairs. Now we have to wash the floors, buy a rug, and move the sofa. I hope to have it complete by the weekend. I love the new look so far.

I was feeling bloated and I was getting a sharp pang in my pelvis every so often so it made me worry that something was wrong. The bloating from the last egg retrieval was getting better with time until it stopped improving, and with this impending cycle coming up I didn't want to take any chances. So I scheduled a visit at the clinic for a scan just in case. I went in on Wednesday and the scan was fine. They gave me a lab slip to get a urinalysis which I took care of same day. I hadn't heard back results yet by Saturday, which makes me assume everything is fine. I emailed the nurse to confirm just in case and am waiting to hear back.

I got much better about eating habits and I'll admit that while it sucks to not eat anything whenever, I do feel a lot better. Darn healthy eating and its logical conclusion. I've been sticking mainly to vegetables, proteins, occasional fruit, and rare grains, like a modified South Beach diet. I've also been drinking my tank of water (75 oz) daily which keeps me from grazing all day.

Yesterday, on a rainy Monday morning after being home for an extra long weekend, my car wouldn't start. Such a great way to start the week! I got roadside assistance to give me a jump and took it to the mechanic, then took an Uber to work from there. Uber is so sketchy but I feel like I need to get on board 2016 and embrace it. It was ok - didn't get murdered so I think it was a success.

I am supposed to go in for my baseline appointment this morning to start IVF 4. That's probably why I was up at 5:45 AM without an alarm. Those appointments make me nervous, even though I've done dozens by now.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St Patty

No news to report but it's been so busy that I feel like I have a lot of complaining to catch up on.

The weather keeps yo-yoing between beautiful and miserable. That in addition to the clocks changing has really messed with my mood. I was very blah the first few days of this week when it was rainy and gloomy, and I was grumpy because I lost an hour off my weekend. I spent some time decluttering my kitchen which meant the the cabinets were clear but the countertops were a disaster with everything from the cabinets. It took a few days to clear out and sort the donations from the trash, and during those few days the house was a disaster. Having a clean house makes me happy, so when the house is messy I get crabby.

Along with foul mood swings I've also completely given up on eating healthy. I chalked it up to "birthday celebrating" but in reality I was just being lazy and didn't care. Cookies, take-out, snacks, pizza... whatever. Not eating out of control, but definitely not as careful about watching my weight or caring about calories. Of course all that sugar that I'm not used to is probably not helping the mood swings. I was feeling bloated and icky so I kind of reeled it in and started cooking dinner at home again. It will probably take weeks to undo the damage #sorrynotsorry.

I finished the show I was binge watching and now the only one I have to watch is the one we're watching together. I have way more time so it's annoying that I have to wait for him to watch it. It's also annoying that between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Youtube I still can't find something to watch. In truth it's probably that I just don't want to start anything new but I might have to.

The clinic was being annoying about payment. They said that the copay was due on "day 10 of BC pills" without a date. It's as though they need to make sure I pay up front before they schedule the IVF cycle. In the last three cycles I just made my payment on the day I came in for my baseline. Why is it different now? I asked if I need to make a special trip to make a payment and the manager said that, "The payment is due on the 10th day but if you need additional time to take care of this payment, baseline is fine." As though they're doing me a favor. Thanks. You're getting all my money anyway before doing anything, so does it really matter? Sometimes I feel like they just like reminding me who's in charge.

Purim is next week - hooray! I have prepared nothing and purchased zero groceries. Wednesday is a fast day that I'm not looking forward to, but then I get off work for Thurs/Fri.

Work is getting so busy. It's great because it's been a great distraction. I don't have time to think about everything coming up with cycle 4. I missed a meeting on 2/26 because I had an egg retrieval that day. Depending on how things progress this next time, there's a very real chance I might miss part 2 of that important meeting due to treatment. If that happens I feel like I may have no choice but to tell my supervisor what's going on. I really hope it doesn't happen -- if I tell them I'd rather do it by choice not because I feel forced. We'll take it one day at a time and see what happens.

Goals for next week:
- Declutter closets
- Make cookies and roast on Sunday for Purim
- Place medication order
- Plan out lunches and dinners to avoid take-out

 


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Home Decor: Phase 1

We started work on the basement last week! I'm so excited that we're finally moving forward with this project. The overall plan, as outlined here, starts with Phase 1 which includes knocking down a wall in the basement and adding a wall of bookcases.

The original plan included bringing down the old furniture from the living room to the basement and buying a new sectional as a replacement. Now I find out that a friend is getting rid of a new-ish sectional and is willing to sell it for a very reasonable price. It's a rounded sectional instead of one with a 90 degree angle which I was planning to get. The rounded sectional is tan and the one I wanted was cream/white. We would save a lot by settling for the pre-owned sofa and we can always just sell it on craigslist or something if we decide later that we prefer the new sofa in white.

So now the question is whether to just put the sectional downstairs in the new basement, or do the original plan of moving the living furniture downstairs and putting the sectional in the living room. I can add a few recliners or overstuffed chairs from overstock to make up the seating difference.

The work is supposed to be done by end of March. I've already planned out my decluttering schedule and will be starting with my kitchen tomorrow.

Friday, March 11, 2016

IVF 4

Our last cycle, IVF 3, resulted in only one embryo surviving to biopsy day. We had two options: the first option was to send the biopsy for testing and finding out if that one embryo was healthy to transfer. The chances of that are 25%. The second option was to do another cycle/retrieval/wait and batch other embryos, if any, that survive to biopsy.

For multiple reasons, we chose option 2. The first reason is that while we're optimistic and are hopeful for the best, we are also realistic. A 25% chance is not high. It would be a waste of $2500 to send only one embryo when it's the same fee for up to 8. (If I'm relying on a miracle, I'd rather save that for transfer day to have the little embryo stick!) Let's say we paid the $2500 and it came back that we beat the odds and it was a healthy embryo, there's a chance it wouldn't survive the thaw once we got to transfer day. Beside that, there's only 40% chance it would stick as a pregnancy. I know that's getting ahead of myself... let's first see if there are any embryos to transfer, right?

The other reason we decided to do another cycle was so that we could possibly bank a few embryos for future cycles. We're aware that fertility declines with age and while I'm not yet at the "AMA" threshold of 35, I'm just a few years shy of it. When I started this process I was knocking on 31 and thought I had all the time in the world, certain that it would work the first time.

As with all the cycles, they start by putting me on birth control pills first and I'm in the start of that stage now. The transition from no meds at all to BC always gives me nausea. My body physically reacts to the change of hormones and I get the mental connection with it that another cycle is looming. As sucky as the egg retrieval process is, I love the part right after of having to be on no meds at all and just letting my body get rid of as much of the crap as possible. No shots, no meds, no side effects.

I'll be on the pills for the next few weeks and then start stims all over again. I'm waiting for the official calendar from my nurse to see when the estimated retrieval will be. From my calculations it will be the week before Pesach which works out great schedule-wise. I'd rather not be in the clinic over the holiday. It would also be nice to have the week to recoup before the holiday itself. I'm running out of fake illnesses to tell my boss so I'll have to wait and see when the retrieval falls out on and figure out how to take two days to recover. I have the sick time accrued, that's not the problem; it's that everyone wants to know what's the matter and how they can help. It's a nice environment but in this particular situation I sometimes wish I had the sterile work environment my husband works in where you submit your sick time online and no one asks any questions.

I'm not sure how I feel about doing this again. On one hand I'm a pro - I know what to expect, I know how things work, I've done it before and it's no big deal. I'll take the shots, I'll juggle traffic to and from the clinic, I'll silently bloat and carry around my grapefruit-sized ovaries. On the other hand, my brain is just like, "Uggggghhhhh, I don't wanna do this agaaaain! I want to move on to the next step already!!!"

It took a long time for me to get my head back in the game after landing from our short vacation. You'd think it was just a two hour flight and only a few days! But the transition back to work when the weather is this beautiful was so hard. I just wanted to play outside but apparently I had adult things to get to. It's been a long week and I'm excited for Shabbat.

The weather turned warm overnight and suddenly there are babies everywhere. All the mamas that had their babies bundled up in the winter, staying home and keeping them away from everyone's germs, are out and about enjoying the weather. There are less layers and coats so it seems like there are baby bumps everywhere. I don't know if they're doing it intentionally or if it's just a reflex and I'm noticing it, but they are constantly rubbing their bumps. I don't hold anything against them. I have my challenges, I'm sure they have theirs. I wish nothing but health and happiness to these people and their babies.

As for us, I know we can't move on to the next step without this one, so... here we go yet again. Shabbat shalom!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chicago!

This year's birthday trip was to Chicago, IL.  Neither of us had been there and it fit all the requirements for our trip: close enough to travel to, enough attractions to keep us busy, and no zika virus!

It was a jam-packed trip and even though we have very different vacation styles we both had a great time. When I go somewhere new, I like packing everything as much as possible. My husband thinks that vacation is for relaxing and taking it easy.  What? No, we didn't fly here to sleep.  Party time!

We were able to get a lot done even though it was only a few days. We lucked out with the weather. It was pre-spring and the weather was beautiful the entire time. In a nutshell, we visited the Bean in Millennium Park, did the Architectural Boat Tour, walked up and down the Magnificent Mile, visited the Navy Pier (and the stained glass museum section) even though most of it was closed while they were getting ready to open for the season, saw an improv show at Second City, went to the top of the Hancock center to get a 360-degree view of the city, and walked along Lake Michigan on a beautiful day. We also visited Skokie a few times since that's where the kosher restaurants are.

When we checked in and told them we were there to celebrate a birthday, the hotel upgraded us to a river view room and gave us complimentary drinks at the bar. We also met a TSA agent whose birthday was also on the 8th!

City skyline from Navy Pier


View of the city from our room



 Deep dish pizza





Second City stage


The best part was that it was not only a physical change of scenery, but it was also a mental break. I like my job and I like my schedule, but getting a break from the routine of regular life was really nice. It was great to walk around in the beautiful weather and see new things.   

Friday, March 4, 2016

Work life

I've been debating whether or not to let my supervisor know I'm going through fertility treatment. Back when my husband and I were young and naïve thinking this will work the first or second cycle, it didn't seem necessary to let anyone at work know.

The first egg retrieval was on a Sunday so I only took off the Monday after. The second time, egg retrieval was on a Friday of a holiday weekend and we both had off work. It was only for IVF #3 that I had to take Friday off work for the first time. Monitoring appointments sometimes make me a little late, but nothing too obvious that I can't cover. My job is flexible enough that as long as I do my work and attend relevant meetings, no one is watching my hours too carefully. So it was never an issue.

I haven't said anything until now not because I think that it will be an issue. It's the opposite. I think they will be super supportive and incredibly accommodating, without question. I think I've decided to keep it to myself because it's a distinct separation of my life. At least this part of my life is unchanged. The routine, the schedule, the people - it's comfortable to know that my work life is still part of the "old" me, pre-treatment. It helped ground me when things got tough with medical treatment. Beside that, I don't want coworkers to think they can't talk about their kids or their family lives. I don't want them to look at me with pity or walk on eggshells

So why now? I'm not sure. We're contemplating a fourth IVF cycle and it feels like treatment has basically taken over my life. It's stressful to have to run out every time the clinic calls. It's annoying to cover up late mornings. It's difficult to have a straight face in meetings when I've just received bad news and all I want to do is cry. I don't want to seem like a flake for missing work, even if it's sporadic. It's hard to lie about a stomach virus to take a sick day for egg retrieval and then bounce back while in reality I feel I need to take it easy for a few days.

There are pros and cons to both sides. I'm still undecided.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Biopsy update

As of late afternoon yesterday, they were "still watching" 7 embryos. Yesterday's update came later than expected because they were waiting until today to biopsy the embryos, giving a few more a chance to grow.

We got the final result today and one embryo survived to Day 6 and was strong enough to biopsy. Saying I'm disappointed with that number is an overwhelming understatement. I knew we started out with less, but when we got Day 2 results that they still had 7 embryos, I was hoping for at least 3 or 4 to survive to biopsy day. Last time we sent 6 to get PGD tested - that's 6! Sure, none of them were good enough to transfer, but still!

I got the news at 1:56 PM today and had to immediately step into a 2:00 PM meeting. I'm getting better at not crying immediately after getting not great news from my clinic. Unfortunately this isn't the first time. I'm tired of not getting good news. I know I need to manage my expectations but this is so beyond, especially since we had nothing from IVF #2... so two failed cycles in a row? What is happening?


Here are the options now:

Option 1 - send off the Lone Embryo (LE) for PGD and pay the $2500 for testing. If a miracle happens and it's a healthy embryo, which is a 25% chance, then we transfer in April. There's a 90% chance it will survive the thaw and, if we get that far, there's a 40% chance it will stick. I don't need my MBA to know those aren't good odds. We would be relying on a lot of miracles to make this work... but on the other hand it only takes one, right?

Option 2 - do another fresh cycle in April and batch LE with new embryos, if any. PGD testing is the same price for up to 8 embryos so we would potentially save a testing fee. Issue with this is that it borders right around Pesach and the holiday prep is hard enough without trying to squeeze in an egg retrieval and recovery the week before. We're both ok with that, but it does complicate things. Neither my husband nor I want to wait until after Pesach to do another cycle, even if that means spending time in a hotel over the holiday. I'm glad we're on the same page about wanting to move things along.

If we go with Option 1, there's a 75% chance we'll get the results and it's not a healthy embryo so we can still do another fresh cycle but we'd be out $2500. If it is healthy and we do transfer it, there's a chance it won't stick and I don't know that I want to go into a third FET without anything in the freezer. I think I need that cushion to help with the mental game. If we go with Option 2 and there are no new embryos, then we've just wasted another cycle and two months. I'm obviously thinking worst case scenario but considering our track record, we kind of have to assume those.

At one point, while spacing out at my meeting, I started a cycle of thoroughly disturbing thoughts: What if this isn't meant to happen for us? What if we're not meant to have kids? What if we're just going to be those people who are constantly doing IVF cycles and never get results? At what point does it become an obsession/addiction and how much stim can my ovaries even handle? How much money are we going to sink into this, and what if at the end we're still not successful? Does the clinic have any incentive to get us pregnant if they keep making money off of our failures? Eventually I had to snap back to the meeting and put those foul thoughts on a back burner. But I know these are crazy thoughts. Tonight I'm sad and worried but I'm not nearly ready to give up. Even though I know the positivity will come roaring back tomorrow, I can't pretend the failures aren't devastating.

I've heard a bunch of good news from others today. One friend got promoted. A coworker finally got a contractor for her home renovations. A fb friend got engaged. A young neighbor friend got into their first-choice college. I'm hoping that another blogger got good news from her beta test. Romney bashed Trump.

I'd like to believe there's good news for us, hopefully soon. For tonight, I'm wallowing in my feelings with cookies, tears, and trashy TV. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Party time

Another year, another birthday. Well, not yet - it's next week.

Growing up we didn't make a big deal of celebrating birthdays. Of course, there would always be a cake with candles at family dinner and a token gift. We didn't do the big bashes kids have today with 70 screaming children hopped up on sugar and running wild at laser tag or whatever.

When I got married I expected a similar celebration from my husband - thoughtful gift and a token celebration. Since thinking ahead and planning romantic anythings is completely out of his comfort zone, my birthday was disappointing the first few years of marriage. I get that I may be hard to shop for, but more than that is that my expectations were unrealistic to the personality type I married. 

Enter Brilliant Plan of 2015. We decided that since we never go anywhere or do anything, since our favorite activity is being lazy together at home binge watching TV, we should use birthdays to visit new places. The birthday person would plan their perfect trip and we would go together. 

Last year my birthday was on a Sunday and to save on cash we decided to make it into a day trip instead of an overnighter. It worked out so well. We went to Philadelphia and spent the day touring. Among other things we visited the Liberty Bell and were surprised at how small it was. I made sure to point out that we would never have known that if we didn't see it in person because it always looked so big in pictures! Wasn't it supposed to be bigger? Also, should we tell someone there's a crack in it?

We splurged on dinner at a fancy restaurant and headed home. It was only a 2 hr ride away and we always said we would visit but we hadn't been able to get our lazy butts out of the house any other day. Not only did we have a lovely time, but I also felt thoroughly celebrated on my birthday. 

This year is a little different. I wanted to go to Florida for my birthday. I miss the beach. It's such an easy trip and there are so many great restaurants. My husband hasn't been to Florida since I ran the Miami Half Marathon in 2012 so he was on board even thought it's not a new place. We made the plans in the fall and started looking forward to the trip. 

Since then, zika virus broke out. Even though I haven't heard much about it recently, there is no way I'm going through all this fertility treatment to try to have a healthy baby only to compromise it with getting the zika virus. So Florida was out. In fact, any place down south was out - I don't know where those crazy mosquitoes are breeding! Not risking it.

We also can't really visit the West coast because we only planned a few days off work and didn't want to spend most of them on an airplane. So we were limited to the upper right quadrant of the United States. After much searching online, considering the weather, debating locations, we picked a place and have it booked for next week! I'll post pictures and details when we get back. Happy almost birthday to me!

Where's my update?

If we weren't doing PGD, today would be transfer day. Since we are doing PGD, instead of transferring we're supposed to find out how many embryos survived to today and whether they are strong enough to biopsy.

I'm starting to feel like myself again post-op. The majority of the bloating has gone down and I'm not exhausted. Throughout the entire recovery I only had to take Tylenol once because I overdid it too soon on Sunday morning and really felt awful.

While it's been on both our minds, I noticed I didn't want to bring it up during the past few days. We're just waiting, so why harp on the what if's? As soon as I'd think that, he would say something like, "So when are we supposed to hear back from them?" I'm glad I'm not the only one obsessing about it <3.

I'm worried that since we haven't heard yet it's automatically bad news. I hope that's not the case.



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