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Crazy

“But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough / I just knew too much.”

Tomorrow morning is the blood draw for the pregnancy test, and by the afternoon my life could change forever. There is a strange feeling when you’ve reached this point in your infertility process; it’s this constant up and down. You KNOW when you get pregnant, you KNOW there is life inside of you, you KNOW it could work, you KNOW there are no guarantees.

Every day after you literally watch someone put that embryo inside your uterus, you wake up thinking “I could be pregnant, this could be it,” and you allow yourself that moment of dreaming. You think about that baby’s name, the outfits you’ll buy, what you’ll look like pregnant, how your body will change, what kind of life you and your spouse will have once that bundle of joy is here. Then BOOM, you’re scolding yourself for thinking positively because you’re not supposed to, everybody says not to, because it could go horribly wrong. This could be a chemical pregnancy, a false negative, anything and everything except an actual pregnancy.

At the same time, you’re impatient, so you take a ton of home pregnancy tests. They come out positive, for the first time ever, after three years of whispering “please, please, please” over peed-on stick after peed-on stick. You look at it in every angle of light, take pictures in different rooms with lights on and off, applying filter after filter. Then it hits you and you sit on that toilet and you SOB, out of happiness for once, daring to believe this could be it. You’ve never been this far before and it’s happened! You wake up your sleeping husband and try to explain, you want to thrust these disgusting sticks at him and scream “I KNEW IT!!! IT’S HAPPENED!” But you can’t. You can’t dare to hope, even as you watch that second line, that you’ve never seen before, get darker and darker:

My home pregnancy tests taken between Saturday, January 7th and Wednesday, January 12th.

This is infertility. Something that should bring nothing but pure happiness to a couple, something that you’ve seen in hundreds of TV shows and movies, when the soon-to-be mother shows her spouse her gross peed-on stick and the spouse gets THAT LOOK of surprise, and gives her THAT LOOK of pure wonder, and they hug and kiss and the music makes you want to cry… That’s what is taken from you with infertility. I may NEVER have that moment, even with 3 positive pee sticks. Infertility is feeling cheated.

So very early tomorrow morning I’ll drag myself back to the clinic and give yet another vial of blood. I’ll joke around with my nurse and tell her to keep her fingers crossed. I’ll drive to work blaring whatever song will make me perk up or cry or both. I’ll plaster a smile on my face and pretend to be fine in front of my 88 students that don’t have a clue what their teacher is going through. I’ll accept the hugs from my wonderful coworkers who follow this blog and my Facebook. I might run off to cry in the bathroom a few times. I’ll see my husband, who is also my coworker, and hope my face can answer his questions until we have the time to process together. I’ll watch the call come through on the caller ID, and let it go to voicemail because I’ll inevitably be teaching. Then I’ll listen to a message that’s going to either change my life or crush it once again. Even though we got much closer his time. Because this is infertility.

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What’s up with these blog post titles?

We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is Crazy by Gnarls Barkley:

Hallelujah

“There’s a blaze of light In every word…”

Just a quick post to wish everyone very happy holidays! Today is Christmas Eve and the first night of Chanukah, and we are missing our family.

Haven’t posted in 2 months because it’s been a glorious couple of months doing exactly what my body needed to do – relax! I was very lucky in that my egg retrieval resulted in 10 frozen embryos but my body needed to calm down quite a bit before we could transfer one back to me. October through December was filled with the normalcies of every day life and lacked medications and injections.

Two weeks or so ago I began estradiol tablets, upping the dosage as time went on. I’m now at two tablets every morning, noon, and night. My blood work showed that my estrogen spiked from 86 to 220 really quickly and I had a moment of panic when my nurse noted that it was a bit early to see that number, but I stabilized and am back on track.

Our timeline shifted a bit from what I mentioned in our last post. The frozen embryo transfer (FET) will be on January 2nd. Until then, we’re staying close by the clinic, and flying solo tonight and for Christmas Day. On Monday our dads and stepmoms as well as Peter’s sister and my uncle will join us for dinner. Then Peter’s mom and brother will visit for a couple of days for New Year’s.

Wishing everyone all the best in 2017! Enjoy our holiday card and please send us good vibes for our embryo transfer on the 2nd.

card

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah by Peter:

I Need Never Get Old

“Taking our time, Ah just standing in the rain…”

It’s been a great few weeks of rest since the last post! Let’s catch up.

The end of September was filled with shots…not the fun kind. Husband became quite the pro at injecting me with “stims” which resulted in an insane amount of really big eggs. It also caused me to bloat up like a balloon and walk around clutching my abdomen because I felt that I was carrying around 36 golf balls. I wore yoga pants to work the last few days of September and the couch and I were pretty inseparable. Luckily the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, fell in the first week of October so I didn’t have to work those 2 days, but I still ended up out of work for a week and a half total.

On October 5th I went under anesthesia for the egg retrieval. My tshirt and lucky socks from my Sock Buddy, Lu, made quite the impression at the clinic. I’d never been in this part of the clinic before and it was interesting. There’s a nurses station in the middle of a large room and beds lining the walls separated by curtains. I think total there were 6-8 beds in there. Each had a chair next to them for the partner and the beds all had women with gowns and socks on. They gave us sticky socks so we wouldn’t slip and fall, but I was adamant about wearing my lucky Lu socks so I put the stick socks on over them.

The women get undressed and into hospital gowns then get comfy in bed. They pumped us full of fluids (I think?) while we waited for our turns. Peter got to hang with me the whole time, which was comforting as I got nervous at this point. Getting undressed in the bathroom was a giant pain in the ass because I was so swollen and bloated that bending down was difficult. I went to yank off my pants and hit my head on the bathroom sink – not a great way to start. But I got a hold of myself and eventually they walked me with my IV of fluids to the operating room.

That room is enough to freak anyone out. It was small but straight out of a Grey’s Anatomy episode with the overhead lights and medical equipment. I don’t remember a lot but I remember thinking it was packed in there. The nurse that led me in got me settled on the table and into the stirrups. There was a door open leading to another room and there were 2-3 nurses in that doorway. I have no idea what was in the other room. There was also an anesthesiologist behind me, a nice guy who had introduced himself earlier in the waiting area. I think I was talking a mile a minute, trying to not be a nervous weirdo. I remember saying “oh, by the way, I’m not flipping off any of you guys, these socks match my ‘Fuck Infertility’ t-shirt, but they made me take that off.” Everyone laughed and said I was pretty awesome. I heard an Aerosmith song on whatever sound system they had going in there, which made me happy for a moment, and the anesthesiologist told me to sing while he put the mask on. Then it was lights out and I don’t remember a thing, including what song it was.

Next thing I knew, I felt like I was in a car, but I’m told that’s because they rolled me out on a bed from that room back to Peter in the waiting room. I’m also told I was crying and talking about my friend Louie, who died when we were 18. I have a bad track record with anesthesia, it’s never a good time. Luckily it didn’t take long to wear off and eventually we got back in the car and headed home, where I proceeded to live on the couch for several days. I got up only to eat, pee (frequently), and go to my bed. I left the house once to go to the movies to see Deepwater Horizon and another time to walk around a local reservoir with the dog. Yoga pants, or no pants, were the theme of the week, depending on how bloated I was. Gatorade, protein bars, and soup were my main diet. It took a few days to feel like a normal person again. Porter our pup was a great nurse.

While recovering, we went on yet another roller coaster ride of emotions. I always think I’ve hit the worst of it, and I always say, “this time was the worst,” but this really took the cake. You might recall the number 36 from earlier in this post, that was the number of eggs they got from me. I admit we were feeling pretty cocky, we’d never heard of that many being retrieved. The nurses were all congratulatory, the women I connect with on an infertility Facebook group were amazed. The doctor personally called me the next day, and it is never a good sign when you hear his voice on the other end. He told me that not a single one of the eggs fertilized when placed in a dish with sperm and left overnight. This means that not only do I have PCOS, which causes me to not ovulate properly and makes it hard to get pregnant due to timing, but something is up with either my eggs or Peter’s sperm – and the doctor has no way of knowing what it is. It could be my eggs are to tough to penetrate or there are proteins on the sperm, but there aren’t any tests that can be done to determine. I lost it, ended up hugging the dog on the floor calling husband, mom, and my only best friend not working at that moment. Was only able to reach my mom before Peter called back and had 2 really good sobfests over the phone with both of them.

The doctor immediately began a procedure called a Rescue ICSI, which is when the sperm is injected directly into the eggs, rather than what was originally tired – putting them both into a dish to let them do their thing. A nurse called the following day (now October 7th), so I breathed a little easier immediately because it wasn’t the doctor on the other end. Nothing personal, doc! 25 eggs survived after the failed fertilization of the original 36. The Rescue ICSI was performed on them and 19 fertilized! Each day the number of fertilized eggs goes down because some stop progressing so they called back twice more throughout the week. Those 19 held on a bit more but eventually became 10 fertilized eggs ready for freezing. 10 is still a fantastic number, so we are very lucky.

Now it’s back to the waiting game, something we’re very accustomed to. This time I’m thankful for it because I very nearly hyperstimulated from the medications and my body needs a serious rest. Normally the doctor would transfer one or more fresh fertilized eggs (now embryos) back to me, but the hyperstimulation risk was too high. They froze all my eggs to wait until my body calms down.

I went back to work for the first time since September 30th on October 13th and life has been getting back to normal. I’m finally sleeping better, got to see some friends that were visiting from Detroit, attended my cousin’s wedding back in NY, ran off to Maine for a one night mini-vacation with hubby and the dog, and we held our annual Halloween party. It has been so nice to not take any medication, or be injected with anything, or be tied to the clinic so I can’t leave town or make any fun plans.

Finally, the moment you’ve been reading for…the timeline update:

Yesterday I went back to the clinic to go over the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) procedure with the doctor. I signed some forms and he explained that only one egg would be transferred because he doesn’t want me to get pregnant with multiples. I was excited at the timeline he gave, which was end of November or early December. Then he realized that my uterus evaluation (whatever THAT is) expires soon, a sign of how long we’ve been trying to get pregnant. I need this done as soon as possible but, as is this entire process, it all depends on my cycle. The evaluation will happen in mid November and now my FET should happen in late December. If my cycle occurs when we think it will, it looks like I’ll be spending Christmas morning in the clinic for a blood draw and vaginal ultrasound. Then New Year’s Eve will be transfer day. I’ll be starting 2017 as PUPO – pregnant until proven otherwise! This means I’ll walk out of that clinic with an embryo in me, technically pregnant, but it will take 2 weeks to see if it grows or fails.

I feel badly about our holiday plans of family time being at risk, but the outcome will hopefully be great. Until then, I’ll be resting up and enjoying myself.

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is:

OK, It’s Alright With Me

“Some people are scared to see What’s happening frequently But I would never shy from a fight.”

Just got a phone call from our doctor! He’s never called us before because the nursing team is fantastic but he wanted to update us this time because of the risk of hyperstimulation.

We’ve had a lot of people tell us they’re following our blog and my Facebook posts and some are new to our journey so here’s a quick recap. For more details, check out the past posts.

  • We’ve been trying to get pregnant for 3 years.
  • After a year of trying we sought help from Dr. Glatstein of IVF New England and he is the one who diagnosed me with PCOS.
  • We had 2 failed rounds of Clomid (a horrible drug) and Ovidrel (trigger shot) with intercourse.
  • Most recently we had a failed round of Clomid and IUI (insemination).
  • After the IUI it was clear that it’s time for IVF.

The day we found out the IUI failed it was right into action. I went on the birth control pill for 11 days. Now here we are, in the middle of the IVF process.

We have been on the first step, which is follicular stimulation (stims) and monitoring, for just over a week now. This consists of injections at home and going to the clinic nearly every day or every other day for bloodwork and vaginal ultrasounds.

We started injecting Follistim on September 23rd, this is a drug that helps you grow as many follicles as possible. It’s definitely worked, to say the least. After 5 days I was at 3 follicles with the lead follicle measuring at 9.7 mm, and my estrogen level was at 863. Just 2 days later (a Thursday), I found myself really bloated and feeling like I had golf balls rolling around in there. Sitting through a professional development meeting was incredibly difficult. Pants became unbearable and it was yoga pants there on out. I’ve been walking around holding my stomach and yelling at my husband whenever he makes me laugh. Then, in just 24 hours, my estrogen flew from 863 to 2100! We started Cetrotide, which prevents ovulation, that afternoon and then continued it every morning while still injecting Follistim every night, but smaller doses each time. Peter has become quite a pro at injections. I have become a lovely shade of purple on my arms, stomach and thighs. Today we find ourselves at 24 follicles with the lead follicle at 18 mm and the others at 13 and 14 mm. My estrogen level is at a whopping 3983!

A few days ago my nurse, Dan, warned me that hyperstimulation was possible and that the doctor would think about freezing all of the retrieved eggs and letting my body rest instead of transferring the fertilized eggs back to me. Immediately I was bummed because that meant waiting at least another month to get pregnant. After a lot of research and advice from friends who have gone through this, I realized that it is the best course of action. Hyperstimulation is no joke, and my PCOS puts me at even more of a risk.

Dr. Glatstein made his decision, and we believe that’s why he personally called today. Hyperstimulation can occur at estrogen levels over 2500 and I am way over that. We are entering step 2 – egg retrieval, which leads directly to step 3 – fertilization, but the transfer will not be a few days after. The eggs will be frozen on day 5 and then we will have Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) likely in November after my body has had a chance to calm WAY down. What’s good about this is that I won’t need a ton of injections like we’ve been doing. It’ll be a nice long break.

We’ll find out more after my bloodwork appointment on Tuesday, but right now it’s likely that Wednesday will be retrieval day! Here’s a look at what the lab looks like. I cannot wait to get some of this fluid out of me and not feel like a balloon filled with golf balls.

On a happy note: I’m also looking forward to wearing this shirt at retrieval and eventually on transfer day. Special thanks to Kati at pkvPrint.

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I’m also hoping to add a pair of lucky socks to transfer day once I get my care package from my Sock Buddy, Lu!

Lastly, here’s a shout out to the amazing nurses at IVF New England. Dan, my guru, who follows my case religiously and let’s me bitch to him about how much I hate Caremark. Annie, the best ultrasound tech ever, among many there. I love how you ladies decorate the exam rooms for every season and holiday! And a big hug to the blood draw ladies – you keep me smiling, even though blood draws at 6:30am are literally the worst thing ever.

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is:

Here’s 2 photos from when we saw the singer, Eric Hutchinson, in Boston, just a few months into our relationship!

 

Here It Goes Again

“Just when you think you’ve got a hold…”

The IUI failed. I didn’t have a big, dramatic response to the bad news this time, but it still hurt like hell. In Peter’s words, “this time, it really feels like infertility,” because this was an actual procedure and not just an injection of a trigger shot and sex. I have to note the amazing support we have had from everyone, especially on Facebook, before and after the IUI bad news. We truly appreciate it and are so happy to have such wonderful friends and family.

Now that we have 3 failed Clomid+trigger shot rounds, IVF will be completely covered. Or so they say, after last time I don’t trust Caremark at all.

I’m back on the birth control pill to give my hormones a rest. I end the pill on the 19th and then the IVF timeline begins. Hope you’re ready for a full report of the TONS of medications and injections and other crazy things I have to do.

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is:

The Waiting

“You take it on faith, you take it to the heart / The waiting is the hardest part”

The absolute worst part of this entire process is the waiting.

After the IVF fiasco we had to backtrack and do another round of Clomid (a drug that makes me CRAZY while making my follicles big) + trigger shot (Ovidrel – it makes you ovulate). This time, instead of going about it the old fashion way we’re going to try intrauterine insemination (IUI). If you want to know what exactly an IUI is, check out this youtube video that will make you feel like you’re back in a high school biology class.

I started the Clomid on August 10th and had 5 wonderful days of heightened emotions and hot flashes. Poor husband had to deal with the Clomonster, a nickname he gave me. I was also a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding and had a serious laughing fit causing me to turn VERY red and cry in the middle of the rehearsal…while the priest was talking…while I was sitting in the pews on the altar. I hate that drug so much.

After finishing the meds I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office most mornings for blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds. These measure how big my follicles are and the uterine lining.

We thought the IUI would happen around August 20th, but of course, the follicles weren’t big enough. Yesterday (8/23/16) I went in thinking the follicles were finally big enough, and one of them was…but the uterine lining isn’t thick enough yet. More waiting.

But, we’re thinking that after today’s blood tests and vaginal ultrasound showing good numbers on the follicle and uterine lining, we’ll be on track to do the trigger shot tonight and that the IUI procedure will take place tomorrow or Friday. The only other problem is that the first day of school for teachers is tomorrow and I am presenting at professional development on both days. While an IUI only requires me to lay down at the doctor’s office for 15 minutes afterwards, everyone recommends that I lay down all day back home. So one of these days I’m going to miss, but we aren’t sure which yet.

The waiting truly is the HARDEST part.

~*~*UPDATE*~*~

The moment I posted this the doctor called and we are a go for the IUI on Friday!!!

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is:

One More Night

“The stars are in sight but tonight I’m as lonesome as can be…”

This blog is called Esperando – it’s a Spanish word, the gerund of the verb esperar. Esperar, like many Spanish words, has more than one meaning. It’s actually quadruple entendre because it can mean “to wait,” “to expect,” “to trust,” and “to hope.” Perfect for a blog about a couple trusting in medicine and hoping against probabilities after waiting 3 years of expecting to, well, be expecting.

My family loves to talk about how my great-grandmother’s motto was “live in hope,” and my cousin Tim even has the Polish word for hope tattooed on his arm (it’s pretty awesome and I’m super jealous of it, you should check it out here.) But I’ve always been a cautious hoper because I hate getting my hopes up too high only to have them come crashing down around me. Which is what happened today.

Let’s set the scene. After three years of trying and striking out, which we have already talked about ad nauseam, this was THE WEEK! My IVF was to start NOW. I was at the doctor at 8:15am today, doubled over in pain because of a unrelated but horrific stomachache that has had me on the couch all day. I have either a bug, food poisoning or maybe even heat exhaustion, but if it’s one thing you can’t do is take a day off in a fertility cycle. Time is of the utmost essence. Peter ended up getting me there, since I was too sick to drive, and after a quick but very real fear of pooping on the nurse (TMI? Too bad.), I ended up with blood drawn and vaginal ultrasound completed without any issues. My nursing team called me and let me know everything looked great once the results came in and I was to start injections on Thursday at 7pm.

Caremark, the villain of this story, is a life-sucking criminal of a company. I expected this after last week when my nursing team contact, the amazing Dan, was audibly upset after dealing with them all day long on many phone calls. He has told me time and time again how awful they are, and now I was finding out firsthand. Last week he ordered me some syringes, some needle tips and pregnyl (one of many drugs). But Caremark wouldn’t cover these and I had to turn to a different company, called Apothecary By Design, and pay $97.46 out of pocket. In my mind, that’s a small price to pay for the baby of our dreams. So we ordered and it was delivered and that order is sitting in my kitchen. Great.

Today, despite knowing that Caremark is the devil, what was to be a routine order of more infertility medications became an all day ordeal. Caremark covers every drug I need with my copays adding up to $70…everything except the biggest piece of the IVF puzzle, the drug gonal f. Dan the Wonder Nurse had gonal f changed to follistim because that supposedly helps with insurance coverage. Nope. Caremark wouldn’t budge. So we turned back to Apothecary By Design, a company known for the cheapest infertility drugs. Dan put the order in and I finally got a nap in and relaxed a little back in my little bubble of nervous excitement.

I expected gonal f to cost me maybe $300, possibly even $500, because we’d heard how expensive it is. NOTHING could have prepared me for the price tag of $3,107.50. I had to have the Caremark agent repeat it three times. Hanging up the phone I lost it. I cried HARD and UGLY. Peter and I had a powwow and armed ourselves with questions. I called Wonder Nurse and went through them then called Caremark back.

Long story short, here’s the situation:

  • In October 2015 we weren’t quite ready for IVF. We realized that good-old-fashioned-baby-making wasn’t going to work for us, but we didn’t want to go full speed ahead. So we did this procedure of Clomid (a 5-day oral drug) and a “trigger shot” then 3 days of sexy-time. This failed.
  • In November 2015 we did the same thing – Clomid and trigger shot. It failed. It also kicked my ass emotionally, which you can read about in a past blog post here.
  • My insurance company assured us over and over that we are very lucky in that we don’t need to have any more failed Clomid-trigger rounds or even failed IUI (insemination) rounds in order to proceed to IVF. We are in the clear to start the procedure any time we want. So we got that ball rolling.
  • We were going to go forward with IVF in February but a trip to Costa Rica and the fear of the Zika virus postponed that to this week. YAY! It’s all happening!
  • Just kidding, the most important drug costs $3,107.50 and while we have that on a credit card, we’re not comfortable hanging a 30% chance of conceiving on our credit.
  • But are you SURE?! Is what I asked Caremark over and over again. They’re sure. What’s worse, this drug would only cost me THIRTY DOLLARS if…I had 3 failed Clomid-trigger shot rounds.

So if you followed all that, we took the shortcut, having been assured it was ok to do so, only to find out that the prescriptions have nothing to do with the insurance coverage of the procedure itself.

So where are we now? Back to Clomid-trigger shot round 3. This will likely occur at the end of August/beginning of September and after the horrific two week wait, bringing us to mid September, a bloodtest will let me know if I’m pregnant.

I’m heartbroken. I know that this isn’t the end. I understand that it’s just a hiccup along the way. I hope that the third round of Clomid-trigger shot will work and if it doesn’t then insurance will cover that gonal f drug. But I’m scared to hope, and losing hope is the one thing Peter and I insist cannot happen. This baby needs to be brought into a world of hope, I just don’t have any today.

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is:

Colorful

“I know I can be grey…”

A first attempt at “vlogging” (video-blogging). This is quite pathetic, and I fully blame Caremark for unnecessary stress, and birth control pills since I’m back on them for the first time in 2-3 years and I think they’re making me emotional.

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is brought to you by the song hubby is jamming out on in the background of my vlog (above). 

Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, will Be)

“Will I have rainbows, day after day?”

There’s the phone call! This morning I had bloodwork and they just called with the results. Here’s the deal:

  • I’m starting birth control pills tonight until July 25th. I’m pretty happy to go back on the pill. I started taking it when I was 14 years old and stopped 3 years ago. These 3 years have been ROUGH and I can’t wait to feel like a normal human being again, even if it’s just for a short while.
  • Then it’s injections central around here – starting around the 29th or 30th until the 2nd week of August when they do the egg retrieval. This is the part that freaks me out. My first ever in-home injection was on Halloween 2015 and I had to have my friend do it because I’m a WIMP. He’s a diabetic, so I figured he was best qualified of the 20 people there that night. Thanks, Zach. Also, my second in-home injection was late November 2015 and Peter had to chase me around the house in order to administer it. So yea, this will be a process.
  • The egg retrieval freaks me out too, just to be clear. Trying to not think about that yet though.
  • Just 3-5 days after the retrieval, once my eggs have been fertilized in the clinic, they’ll put them back and I’ll be PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise)!

That’s it for today, just wanted to give a quick update. It’s helpful to note that this a marathon and not a sprint, so there’s a lot of down time in this process. Also, there are lots of bumps that couples experience along the way including insurance issues, medications not arriving on time, test results not looking great, etc. So we really appreciate any good vibes you can send along the way!

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What’s up with these blog post titles?
We dig music in this household. So we figured we’d let you know the songs that are getting us through this process. Today’s is: