Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas, Dammit!

I'm beginning to really resent the holidays.  They are starting to become soul-sucking.  I'm trying to fake myself into being into them.  I've decorated, I've bought a few presents that are here and remain unwrapped.  It's just not fun to do something with so much pent up resentment.

I wasn't thankful on Thanksgiving, and I'm not merry.  I'm angry and sad.

I met with Dr. Donesky last week as I'm still having problems.  After reviewing my labwork and symptoms, he just told me this is the beginning of the end of my ovaries.  I'm officially in menopause.  I've known this, yet hearing it just made me sad.  Sad enough to be weepy, unhappy and throw pity-parties for myself.

I just have a hard time accepting the fact that someone can accuse me of looking like I'm 16 one day, and then finding out I'm in menopause the next.  I guess the age thing will catch up in a hurry now.  I've had the insomnia for a while, I have hot flashes, night sweats...I'm a childless hag.

I'm exhausted from trying to pretend like everything is okay when nothing is okay with this situation. As if I'm suppose to be grateful that I "still have options."  Options that cost around 30,000 dollars and aren't guaranteed.  I am completely ungrateful for infertility right now.

I feel like I'm just wallowing in life.  This is not where I thought I would be at all...I thought I would be finished having children by now.  Enjoying the life of a young, completed family.  I certainly didn't think I'd still be undergoing fertility treatments and that they would not be successful.  I'm fed up, but I can't let myself give up.

Everyone in my age bracket is prepping for their Christmas with their children, and I'm trying to figure out what to get my dog this year, again.  I'm just so over celebrating the birth of an immaculately conceived baby, when I can not even get pregnant using donor eggs.  The more I think about it the more I hate Christmas.  I just want it to be over, so I can stop faking it.

I used to love Christmas...now it's just another reminder of everything I don't have.  All I want for Christmas is a healthy child of my own.  Nobody seems to be able to help us accomplish that.

Peace, Love, and Bah-humbug,

Mary Katherine  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rebuilding

I think I'm finding myself again.  It's been pretty awful at times, but it's also been normal at other times.  People want you to just be fixed, but that is a little much to ask, so I just expect myself to function, and that seems to be working.  I end up enjoying most of my days without having the pressure of having to be "happy."  It's too much to expect everyone to be happy all the time, especially when recuperating from a failed cycle and, lest we forget, still facing childlessness while the rest of the world populates.



I think I'm out of despair, and in the "angrily accepting" stage of grief.  I've had a couple of "Have you thought about adopting?" and "How many children do you have?" and the ever famous "My brother's friend's cousin's sister-in-law went through 'all that' and she finally adopted and 4 months later she was pregnant with perfect identical twins which she gave birth to at home with a midwife, flowers, and unicorns,"  (I may have embellished that last one a bit..) in the last couple of weeks.


Someone asked me the other day if I'd ever tried Clomid...after I'd talked about having IVF.  Don't piss on me and tell me it's raining!  Why did you let me waste my breath if you think Clomid is the cure-all for infertility???? 



I also love loathe any sentence that starts with "Have you thought about..."  All I do is think, and ask, and pray, and hope and plead for guidance. Honestly, you telling me about how your kin-folk "quit trying" and got pregnant doesn't inspire hope, it quite honestly inspires more emotional pain and despair. Because it is physiologically impossible for me to conceive my own child.  No...don't say, "but miracles happen." Hell, how anyone conceives is a miracle! Miracles happen for people who are not quite as infertile as maybe they were thought to be, but it's just not going to happen for me, because I am barren. So barren that I am officially being treated for menopause.  As in my ovaries have said 'nope, no mas, we are taking early retirement'.  Help me retain my acceptance, and don't make me feel like I've given up too soon.

Especially when giving up is the total opposite of what we are doing.  We've got some obstacles to face before we can try again, and we want to give ourselves enough time to build back up our emotional stamina. Not to mention, we don't want to ruin anymore holidays with another memory of loss.

So I guess the theme of this blog is we're ok, and for now that's enough.  We can live a life without joy. We can enjoy things, people, places and moments.  We can make do with what we have, but we can't expect to experience joy...and that's ok.  Not everyone has a perfect life, and not everyone who makes decision A will get outcome B.  No matter how much they want it.  BJ and I continue to weigh each decision we make and choose a path that will give us the closure we need, regardless of the outcome.



Peace, Love, and Kubler-Ross,
Mary Katherine

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Unwritten

Well, days continue to pass, and it looks like life is continuing to happen whether I rejoin the living or not.  I'm not totally ready to rejoin and commit to life as we know it.  I evert my gaze anytime I see a stroller.  I ignore babies.  I hide in bathrooms and cry.  Occasionally,  I let the pain overwhelm me as it comes crushing down on my chest. I refuse to go out in public. I hide in oversize clothes as if they'll protect me from the barrage of "What did you expect?" and "Why don't you just adopt?". 

Other times I pretend I'm strong. The whole "fake it till you make it." Although, you'd know I'm faking because I'm not brave enough to try to wear contacts just yet.  That's always the dead giveaway.  

There are tons of books about infertility and how if you "hang in there" you'll get your happy ending. What they don't tell you is how to gracefully navigate through the infinite disappointment to find hope again.  They tell you to hold on to hope.  We do, then we lose our grasp and cling to whatever far off possibility we can find, only to find ourselves in the exact same situation...just that much further from hope and that much closer to despair. 

Sometimes I wish infertility was a terminal disease just so I know it would end. I have no plans for a life without children and as long as there is a chance, I cannot accept giving up.  I wish someone would tell me that I had to have a hysterectomy, and I just wish I knew how the story was going to end.  To the point that I don't even care how if I just knew this pain would be finite.  Where there are answers, there is peace.  Any answer...

Instead, we have to endure this pain, once again.  We have to fight our way back passed the existing mode and back into "living" mode.  Pretend we are ok with life the way it is in a world where 93% of people do not have the slightest clue.  Devise yet another plan, put ourselves at risk for a chance of our greatest joy or another round of absolute heartbreak and devastation.  

Right now we are just pursuing healing.  Trying to restore our strength so we can fake it through another day, week, month, year or years until we can have a family of our own.  Honestly, that's all it is.  Faking it in a world where precious few understand how difficult it is to not be able to do the one thing you were biologically designed for and your heart desired so much.

Peace, Love, and Pretend,
MK

Friday, October 3, 2014

Well...




That's over.

I am not pregnant.  Even after using a healthy embryo.  Even after having more side effects from the hormones than I ever have had.  I wish I could understand why, how, and what happened, but we don't and won't ever know for certain.  There was only a 50% chance as with every other frozen embryo transfer performed with a day 5 blast.  However I seem to on the losing side of these statistics no matter what we do.

I have an appointment with Donesky on Thursday.  We have another embryo.  We have options, still, but none of that takes away the disappointment or the pain in the immediate moments.

We keep "pulling out all the stops", and none of it seems to really matter.  I don't know why.  I hate not knowing.  I hate being told "there is no reason you aren't conceiving" when here I am inconceivably not pregnant.

Well, let the healing begin...

Peace, Love, and Onwards and Upwards.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

FET

Well, it went great overall.

BJ and I arrived in Chattanooga at about 10:45.  We tried to shop at Hamilton Place Mall, but we never noticed how perfumey (I made up a word...I know) stores were.  It's not just Abercrombie...so we finally went to Spencer's because it did not smell like anything.  I ended up playing with that "Magic Sand" for 15 minutes...It's pretty calming...98% sand 2% polymer minimal residue...If you are a worrier like me...then it's good stuff...Plus it comes in pink...(Christmas is coming, afterall so *hint,hint*, BJ).

So since our Hamilton Place Mall trip lasted only 45 minutes...and 2 stores, we decided to go furniture shopping because 3 years later I've never found a dining room set I was willing to put in my house.  So that got us through lunch and we ended up in the parking lot of the fertility center 8 minutes early.  We waited for about 10 minutes past when my labs were supposed to be drawn, and because I am Mary Katherine Roberts, I told BJ...they are going to parade out of there and tell us they are sorry but none of our embryos survived the thaw.

Lets review...The Fertility Center almost exclusively does frozen embryo transfers now.  The success rates with frozen embryos have been higher than fresh.  They thaw embryos all.the.time.  So I was just making myself crazy for no reason.  Instead, out comes Susan, our embryologist sent from Heaven, with a huge smile on her face saying that our embryo has already been thawed and had started to continue to develop.  So because I have enough hormones in my system to keep an elephant pregnant, it was really hard to hold it together. They drew my progesterone and then it was time for my massage. The Fertility Center's masseuse, Rachel, is the most amazing woman. By the time I got to her, and of course, I was being escorted by Susan because she was explaining what she looked for and how so far Baby Roberts met all of that criteria, I started crying.  Not sad tears, but I just won Miss America tears, because none of this ever goes well for us.

Anyway, Rachel remembered me from 3 years ago, and she wanted to do a hot rock massage to try to get the soreness out of my hips from my 2x a day progesterone shots. I have never done a hot rock massage, they're nice.  Rachel asked if she could pray with me, she did.  And much to my heart she prayed for strength for BJ and I no matter what the future had in store for us.  I thought it was a very Episcopalian of her, so I appreciated it.

It wasn't long before they were ready for us in the pre-op area.  Jan the IVF coordinator gave me my discharge instructions.  Lay low for 72 hours and Susan came back and consulted with us once again.
She gave us a picture of Baby Roberts:

Baby is at 1:00...Just for perspective, here is a blastocyst compared to the eye of a needle...

(www.eikonika.net)
So she told us she hatched the zona pellucida with a laser after she took this photo to give Baby Roberts every possible chance.  

We went back for the transfer, and with minimal struggle Dr. Donesky got the catheter where he wanted it, and the transfer was completed.  He told us he was very pleased with the quality of the embryo.  I rested for 20 minutes...during which Susan came back and gave us a worry stone with the word 'Hope' on it.  She told me she really liked this one because of the burgundy in it, and it has been in her office for a long time, but she wanted to give it to me.  She  laid it on my tummy. 



I'm sure they go out of their way to make all of us frequent fliers feel special, but they do a good job of really making it seem genuine, even if it's not really special treatment.  Plus talking to her, really made the time fly by so I could pee!!!  (They do an abdominal US for this procedure so you have to fill your bladder...and hold it for however long it takes plus 20 minutes.)

So since then I've been a couch potato as instructed.  I've had some twinges, occasional sharper sensations, but I'm very aware that I have a uterus.  I have no clue what this means.  I know with my chemical pregnancy I had some sharp cramps, but I don't even remember what day they were on. I remember I had already given up at that point and was an emotional basket-case.  This time, I'm feeling optimistic. I know my mother had piercing implantation cramps when she had my brother...That was back in the day when they killed rabbits to see if you were pregnant...but it was so early they could not be for sure whether she was indeed pregnant.  I'm choosing to believe this is just implantation stuff until proven otherwise.

Peace, Love and Hopefully Implanting!
MK  




Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I'm Just So...

A.N.G.R.Y.

I'm so incredibly frustrated, sad, embittered and angry right now.  I know it's anxiety, lack of sleep, and hormone-fueled, but it feels awful, nevertheless. The worse part is that there is no one to be angry at or frustrated with because it's just aimed at life in general.

I'm angry that no one seems to understand why I'm angry.  I'm angry that I'm having this meltdown the night before my embryo transfer. I'm angry that there is a TV series "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" but there isn't a show "I Didn't Know I'd Be Infertile."  I'm angry that we have to go through all of this, and it very possibly (as BJ and I well know) won't work.  I'm angry at people who say "Well, it's not going to be worse than the other times it didn't work."

Every attempt is the worst one yet, because every attempt requires us to pool together all the resources we have including hope.  We drain our hope every month we try thinking this will be it. Else we wouldn't try. And when it doesn't work, we are literally hopeless until we can try again.  It's exhausting and I don't want to be hopeless anymore.

I'm angry that I've become so good at failing.  If you could only imagine failing at something so simple. Imagine it taking 5 years to pass your driving test and never understanding why you failed in the first place.  Imagine consecutively failing a prerequisite for getting into your dream job for years on end as you watch everyone else ace it.  Imagine no one really caring.

I don't know how I feel about tomorrow. I was positive yesterday, negative the day before, and just angry today.  I'm really scared the embryo(s) will not survive the thaw, and it will all be for naught. I'm hoping this is just the pre-transfer jitters.

Peace, Love, And Tomorrow will be better,
MK 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Progesterone Shot #3


This is going to be a long 2 weeks...

Peace, love, and at least it's my blood, 

Mary Katherine

Friday, September 19, 2014

Progesterone Shot #1

One could reasonably assume that having a nursing degree would mean that this would go easily. But alas, it went rather terribly. After knicking my ass twice, I realized that doing it while staring at myself in the mirror was not going to work for me. I tried propping my booty up on the counter to use the mirror. I learned that I must have enough self-preservation to not stick a 1.5" needle in myself...well, at least not while looking myself in the eye...err...ass...

Yes, I want children, yes I'd do anything for them, but I just had a mental block on jabbing myself tonight. I called in BJ for moral support. I talked him into rubbing my feet for me while I jabbed myself.



And after a couple of 1,2,1,2,1,2,3s and a fit of laughter, I managed to break through my dermis. Unfortunately, it was slowly, so as I sit here I can feel the soreness creep in. I could almost hear the needle tearing through the tissue, YUCK!  

BJ was brave and stayed with me the whole time. He did have to lay down afterwards because not being the one to get a shot is extremely difficult for him, but I love him so much! 

Fortunately with me, I know another nurse or two, so I have some resources. So I put a cute little kit together to take to work

So anyway, only 28 more shots to go!

Peace, Love, and IM shots,
MK

Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's Go Time!

Well, we got the official green light after today's scan. I'm awaiting my email for the exact timing, but I start my progesterone shots tomorrow evening.  They will be twice a day instead of once a day like with a fresh IVF cycle.  I'm sure my hips are going to look amazing by the end of this...

It's finally the time...so why am I feeling so sad?  I know this is the part where we let go.  We can't control the outcome. Thinking about not conceiving...or as I call it, killing this baby, is just devastating.  I'm scared that this baby won't survive the thawing process, although the chances are extremely low because of how healthy we went in.

I'm scared to be optimistic, and I'm scared to not be, which has just left me in a kind of numb haze. I'm sure, especially with all the hormones, this will change daily, or hourly...sorry BJ.

It's just so easy to take your meds at the right time, show up for appointments, and adjust.  But the act of conceiving a child, the thought of it actually working after it has failed over 50 times, success just seems so foreign.  I know people are going to tell me, "It's all about attitude." But if it really was, I would have gotten pregnant over 4 years ago.  There are factors in play, that I just have to accept that I will never have control over.



I think what I really dread...not the transfer, but Oct. 4th when it is time to test.  I can't stand the thought of being in that fertility clinic one more time for a negative result.  But I'll do it, because this is the one thing I want most in the world.

Peace, Love, and Courage,
Mary Katherine



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Funday

One of the reasons I like my fertility clinic as much as I do is because they never let a little thing like a weekend prevent you from trying to have a baby.  That being said...

I have 2 quiet ovaries and my lining is up to 11.27 mm.  Ten is the goal, so YAY!!!!

(Not Dr. Donesky, I'm afraid...)

Now I have to prove I can hold onto it for a few days.  So they gave me another dose of Delestrogen in the arse.  It was only half the dose I had on Wednesday and I'll continue on just my estrogen patches and baby aspirin until Thursday...Thursday will hopefully be the day that I FINALLY get going with progesterone, too. Progesterone is what makes the lining stick, where estrogen builds it.

If all should go well, I'll be ready for a transfer the week after this one.  Then the terrible part.  In fact I got pretty sad thinking about it.  I mean this part...we had options, time, and different methods for controlling the ongoings of my uterus...but no amount of drugs can force an embryo to implant.  It's just the sad reality.

I keep reminding myself I've never done it with healthy embryos...I'm so tired of losing at this game. I'm so tired of being infertile.  I just want to make it past the first beta HCG test to the 2nd one and "pass" that one as well. I want to see and hear a heartbeat.  I want to watch my tummy grow for a good reason. I want to feel a baby kick. I want to have to worry about stretch marks. I want to read, sing, and play music for the baby in my belly. I want morning sickness so bad, you could not understand. I want my husband to see me pregnant with his child. I want to be too uncomfortable to sleep. I want my husband to fall in love with this child before it's born.  I want him to fall in love with me again.  I just want to move on with my life...instead of feeling like I'm stuck in my mid-20s.

The only thing we know for sure, is that I definitely cannot have a baby, if I don't keep pressing on...

Peace, Love, and Pressing On,
MK


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is this a little something?



I think something is happening...good or bad remains to be seen tomorrow, I guess.  I noticed the last couple of days that feeling of irritation or inflammation in my lower abdomen is back.  I really haven't had it since I went off birth control.  So I guess I have enough estrogen in my system now to wake my endometriosis back up...*sigh* It's always something. On a positive note my ovaries were quiet.  Maybe all my estrogen from the last 2 weeks was telling them to, "back the Hell off." So at least I'm not trying to ovulate which could throw us off.

I've been off all my medications for about 6 weeks now. I was thinking I was cured of my IC for the first couple of weeks, but alas, I'm getting up to pee anywhere between 2-5 times at night. Honestly, its not really any worse than it was before I knew I had the problem, so I can't complain too much, and I wake up and my FitBit is already registering 200-300 steps, so...BONUS!

All this in mind, I'm really hoping that my lining looks better tomorrow.  I'm really ready to get going on this.  To think, originally next Friday I should have found out if the transfer worked.  Now I'm just going to be changing my estrogen patches one more time.  I've waited YEARS to become pregnant, so a little more time should not be too much to ask. It just seems like someone is jerking the carrot stick away as soon as it's within reaching distance.


I keep reminding myself of this. It's easy to forget, but a couple of weeks is not near as bad as 4.5 years we've waited. I'll keep taking my vitamins and appreciating the fact that I have this opportunity. I feel confident that I am in good hands medically.  It's just a matter of letting my body get to where it needs to be.  Which expecting it to behave normally is kind of irrational considering the fact that it's the reason we've had to pursue fertility treatments in the first place.

Well, here's hoping that conditions have improved so we can move forward!

Peace, Love, and Estrogen patches, pills and shots; OH MY!

Mary Katherine

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Well, Damn!

[insert string of cursewords here]

So, I was anxious for this appointment, and kinda-sort of prepared for it to not be perfect, but I wasn't ready for my lining to be thinner.  So our NP talked about putting me on different forms of estrogen. After conferring with Dr. Donesky they decided to try the Delestrogen shot. I got it in the office, and I will go back Sunday to see if this has made any difference.

A little later in the day my NP messaged me to tell me my estrogen actually went up to 147, and my progesterone has stayed low enough that this cycle is definitely still a go...just behind schedule.

So the  short of it...our embryo transfer obviously wasn't today, won't be next week, but might be two weeks from now.  In pregnancy terms...I'll be 5 weeks pregnant, but not know if I'm really pregnant until what would be 7 weeks for a normal person.  I'm going to be about 3 weeks behind... We were kind of joking about that in the fertility clinic...If I conceive, I'll be term @ 41 weeks instead of 38 weeks of pregnancy. It's like an elephant pregnancy.

So I guess I'll know more Sunday...I have to get my first refill ever from our fertility pharmacy on my estrogen patches. I'd hoped it would be under happier circumstances...

Peace, Love, & Not Ready to Quit,



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Well, Bummer

No embryo transfer for me next week...dammit.  It's difficult because you get excited, but alas, my body is just doing what it seems to be best at...being difficult.

It's not really a big deal, it's just that my body is being slow to respond to the estrogen.  I've been wearing four 0.1 mg estrogen patches at a time since Monday, but my lining is about 5 days behind what they were expecting.  I had thin linings before I started fertility treatments.  In fact, it was one of the many "this may be the culprit" to figuring out what was keeping me from achieving a pregnancy. So this is not completely shocking, but it's hard not to be disappointed, or scared that this is the start of failure.

Of course they want to follow me more closely now, and of course I can't come when they want me to because of work. Ugh...It's super frustrating.  It's one thing I really resent about being infertile.  I mean a meeting, a work schedule change, a business trip can make the difference in being able to try to have a baby and a whole month's worth of medication being blown.



So other than trying to not be super-bummed and having no idea what's next, I'm fine, I guess.  Well, I mean I'm infertile fine, which is really to say that I'm devastated but so used to being devastated that it is practically my default setting.


On the upside, I'm not having many symptoms from the estrogen, but then again, maybe that's the problem???  In fact, let me check [logging into my portal to check labs]. Ah, yes...my estrogen only went up from 45 to 59...When I was doing a stim cycle it would be 2,500 plus...so, while I don't need for it to be that high...probably closer to 200 would be ideal.  Actually, 40s-50s are what my levels should be during menstruation. So at this moment, with 4 estrogen patches on, I'm practically at the lower end required for bone health...how phenomenal...


I've tried...really tried, to not go supplement/diet crazy this go around, and I can't handle it anymore.  I feel like I'm poisoning my child already.  So as I read about estrogen levels like a nutter, all I'm finding is how bad starches are on estrogen levels. So here I go, probably, all ape-shit, throwing all the food out of my house that might have anything related to rice, corn, flour, starch, potatoes, sugar and what have you out of the house...

Poor BJ...

Peace, Love, and Trying to Focus on the End-Game,
MK


Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Respite

My mother came and swept me away to the lake for the last three days...All I had to do was chill and perform my rehabilitative exercises.  I've come back rested, a lot more healed, and able to walk a lot better sans crutches.  HAPPY DAY!

On the fertility side...I've finished my z-pack, sticking to my baby-aspirin regimen, and also up to 3 estrogen patches. I stay on 3 for the next set of three days and will bump up to 4 next Monday.  So far, I really don't feel too differently.  If anything, a little happier.  Honestly, I think my ovaries are kaput on estrogen production.  So it's been a nice change of pace to feel like a younger woman again.  No hot flashes, no bleeding at random times, and actually having a libido again...Yeah...I just confessed that...Getting old ladies, is not fun.  So enjoy your ovaries while they're still functioning.

Honestly, though, this is easier than a ovarian stimulation cycle.  No stress, no every other day appointments, and no worrying about the quality of my embryos.  I already know!  It won't be until I start the progesterone that my craziness will come in.  Unfortunately, progesterone is the hormone that gives you all your pre-menstrual AND early pregnancy symptoms.  In other words mega-confusion...So we shall see how I handle that...and two huge IM injections in my ass everyday...

So, tomorrow, I have more rehab, an appointment with my regular GYN, and then next Thursday I'll have my lining check to make sure I have a fluffy, happy place for a tiny human to live for the next 9.5 months.  Hopefully, I can talk Dr. B into drawing my estrogen level tomorrow, just for a sneak peak to see how things are going...

BJ and I are actually kind of excited about this cycle.  Honestly, I could stay guarded and negative that this will not work, either, but it would not change the amount of devastation I would face when we got our negative results.  So why make myself worried and miserable now?  I'm hopeful, I'm excited, and I'm scared as any newly, about to be pregnant, person might be.  BJ and I joke that we aren't ready for children.

So for now, it seems like the turmoil in my life has come to a pleasant halt.  For now, all I have to do is swallow a couple of pills, stick on a few patches and be merry.


Peace, Love, and be Merry,
Mary Katherine

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cramps, broken knees, coughs and fevers, OH MY!


Oh yes...all of the above.  I'm at that breaking point where I would cry if it would help, but it just hurts my throat and ears worse.  I can't sit still without having menstrual cramps, and I can't move because of my knee.  But who really cares because this is  temporary and tomorrow I start estrogen priming!

I had my baseline today.  My uterus looked fine, but my ovaries were all follicular-like with about 10 follicles on each... They are supposed to be quiet.  They may stay where they are, or I may need to get any cysts that form drained, but for now they are acceptable.  They will have nothing to do with this pregnancy, if I achieve it...that is kind of weird. I will depend on estrogen patches and oral and injectable progesterone until *gulp* the placenta takes over and my obstetrician decides I do not need them anymore.  

I started on my baby aspirin yesterday because of my knee surgery, but tomorrow I'll add Minivelle estrogen patches, and a z-pack to my repertoire.  The priming stage should last about 2 weeks, and I will titrate to 4 patches over the next 2 weeks.  It's been a long time since I've had that much estrogen, so I'm not really sure what to expect. 

The last 5.5 days of my estrogen priming will include 2 IM shots of progesterone a day.  Luckily for me, I know a lot of nurses that are really good at giving shots.  And I'm sure some of them will jump at the task of shooting me in the ass. :)

I'm scared and stoked at the same time.  I have moments where I feel like this is hopeless, and I might as well be known as the Knoxville Embryo Killer, but then I also have moments where I feel like this is actually it, and we might become parents after all!  I've felt like this before...I was so excited for our first IVF cycle because I thought fertilization was our major hurdle.  It was a soul-crushing experience to go through the failure of that not once, but twice.  

I told my mom I was scared of killing this baby, and she reminded me that I was giving this baby a chance.  That's all this is...a chance.  

Peace, Love, and It's Time...
Mary Katherine


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Biopsy, surgery, Go time!



So after a discussion with Dr. D, we decided that even if I couldn't do the transfer this month, I would just be out a little endometrial tissue.  So we did it.  Only took 4 tries this time to thread the catheter. OUCH!

I had also scheduled surgery for Wednesday...hoping for a meniscus repair, but alas...no.  My meniscus was shredded. So, Dr. H had to cut it out.  I was super-bummed because I thought I would be out too much to do my transfer, because the turn-around is pretty quick, but not quick enough for me to not drain the remaining time off I had.

I know it seems silly, but when you've been trying 4.5 years to get pregnant and you get this close only to have a stupid knee injury potentially derail your chance at parenthood, it's hard.  I mean how long do we have to wait?  I guess you can't really know until you've been there, but it's like having the rug pulled out from under you, again, and for something stupid.

I love my husband, I really do, but my heart beats for this family we are supposed to be. I've given up a lot and had to adapt this dream to my reality.  It's quite possible that this will not work, and I will have to adapt more, but for now the thought of carrying a pregnancy gives me a reason to get out of bed and go to work.  Much like your dream car, dream house, dream partner, my family dream, which my husband is a very significant part of, keeps me going when everything else is crumbling around me. For someone with infertility, waking up every morning to an emptiness you, alone, are incapable of filling is a grueling task.

So on day 2 post-op, I'm going to go to work tomorrow after rehab and salvage as many hours for this week as I can.  I still have a couple weeks I can work the desk, which should be perfect for my recovery, and still have days off if I need them to do my transfer.  I'm super lucky to have a manager that has let me do this.  

As general anesthesia tends to do, my period started. It's not enough to just have surgical pain, I have to have full-on endometriosis cramps which some-how seem to be able to trump muscle relaxers, narcotics, and phenergan coma.  I swear, my next surgery will be a hysterectomy!

On the upside, I'll possibly be starting my estrogen patches as early as Saturday!  Crazy!  This is happening.  I could actually be moving forward. Of course we have to make sure my ovaries are behaving and aren't going to throw anything off. So tomorrow I have my baseline ultrasound and lab work.

The nice thing about frozen embryo transfers, is there is quite a bit more wiggle room.  The babies are fine.  They are just chillin' out, so we have time to adjust.  Dr. D can drain my cysts if that becomes an issue, we can prime more or less with the estrogen, and because my ovaries are feral, I would predict more.

I just can't believe we've made it this far, in spite of my knee hiccup.  Oh, my knee hiccup was pretty nasty as I'm missing quite a bit of my meniscus now...supposedly no running/squatting/high impact activity...looks like I need a gym with an indoor pool and water aerobics.  That is, honestly, quite a blow for me.  The alternative is wearing the rest of my meniscus out and being the first of my peers to have a knee replacement...honestly, I'm not old enough for water aerobics!

Peace, Love, and Phenergan is my friend,
MK




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Biopsy 2...POSTPONED!!!


Yeah...So apparently I hate endometrial biopsies so much, I will indeed tear my meniscus to get out of it.  Oh, well crap...I don't "officially" know that...the medical center I work at just happens to allow me to look at my lab/imaging results, so I did.  According to the radiologist, I have a torn hamstring, a calf-muscle strain, something about my patellar tendon, and a bucket-handle tear of my meniscus that is displaced in the joint, hence my inability to straighten my leg...So that buys my ticket to the OR.  On the upside, my ACL graft is intact!!! NO RECON FOR ME!!!

So anyway, I was all half-naked, self-medicated, and covered in the opaque tissue paper blanket that was all I had left of my dignity when I told my nurse practitioner, "I don't know what to do."

She is amazing. We had a long discussion on our options. Anesthesia while I'm doing the first part, estrogen priming, is not a problem.  According to one of my expert maternal-fetal medicine acquaintances, I just need to tell the anesthesiologist because all the estrogen could cause me to potentially have a hypotensive episode, and I'll have a little bit bigger chance of developing a blood clot. [Cue "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"!]

They were fine with me potentially doing rehabilitation while pregnant, but they have nixed CrossFit...like foreseeably for a while, as in the duration of my pregnancy...Like shut the front door, WHAT? *Sigh* I guess I was fooling myself into thinking as soon as I got pregnant it would be a "normal" pregnancy, but that is not really the case.  For one thing, I am gently reminded, that this embryo is not genetically mine.  So while in a normal pregnancy, a lady's immune system recognizes that, "Yo, at least some of this is my own genetic material."  I will not inherently have that layer of protection, and I don't want to be doing something that could potentially complicate the level of hormones in my system.  Dr. D does not want me participating any activity where I have to tighten my abdominal muscles for more than a few brief seconds...their example was, "It's fine to lean over and lift a bag of groceries." I know...My husband, who keeps me on an extremely long leash, and I decided some things are just not worth the risk.  So as much as I wanted my pregnancy story to include WODs, it's just not gonna happen for me. It's looking more like water aerobics for the elderly and walking with the Emma Grace. But considering where I come from, what I've been through up to this point, the limits to what I'd do for a chance to carry a pregnancy are few and far between.  So as much as I've loved CrossFit, it's just going to have to be placed on the back burner.

So anyway, after all this half-naked but biopsy free discussion, we decided to wait until after I had my follow up with Dr. H (ortho) and potentially had a surgical date before we moved forward.

So tomorrow we move forward one way or the other.  I'm too nervous to be excited at this point. I'm afraid I'm going to kill my baby.  BJ on the other hand said he's ready...which is better than a personal serenade from Jason Mraz.  SERIOUSLY! BJ is the most comforting thing ever.  It's why he's my lobster.  He's my strength when I'm running out, and he's my confidence when I have none.  That's an amazing thing to have.

Peace, Love, and Meniscus for the win (cuz endometrial biopsies suck),
MK


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Biopsy/Torture Session 1

Ok, so it was not as awful as I remembered...

It did take 3 attempts to make it into my uterus...but whatevs...It ended fast...Oh, and I did load up on all the drugs they gave me for my knee...I mean...being in stirrups with a knee injury is not fun...as if it's ever fun...but somehow I've found away to make it even less fun!!!

So I'm still in a bit of a conundrum...As soon as I finished my steroid pack, my knee blew up to the size it was after I tore my ACL...bugger.  I have no idea what I've done, but my ortho's nurse is guessing meniscus. I'm thinking that it's probably going to be surgical...On top of that my meds came today for my transfer...It's a holy mess.  Clearly I don't want to have surgery after my transfer, but I can't walk with my knee stuck at a 20 degree bend, either, and therefore cannot work as a nurse. I'm ready to stop taking birth control and start sticking Estrogen patches all over my body according to Dr. Donesky, but I have no idea if Dr. Holt can squeeze me in, in the next 2 weeks.

Gah...Why?!  Why do I complicate everything????

Sometimes you just gotta role with the knee injuries, I guess...What can you do?

I have to get ready for biopsy numero dos...which means my knee is suddenly hurting again, and I must take that pain pill...oh darn...

Peace, Love, and Crutches suck!
MK

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Well, here's a wrench




Well...this could slightly complicate the embryo transfer.  I was trying to move on, forget about the nagging pelvic pain from last Thursday's little aggravation, and enjoy my happy place...being on the lake.  At first I was like, 'don't wakeboard, your lower tummy is too sore'...but then I couldn't stand being on our new boat and not trying, plus the pain lessened with movement...so I rode for a good little while.  It was my third ride, and I hit the wake wrong, tipped the toe-side of my board in too far and was falling face-plant style...I tried to turn to avoid landing on my abdomen in case my ovaries exploded and my foot stayed in the bindings....Unfortunately, my wakeboard flipped in one direction, and I in the other with my foot still strapped in. I heard and felt a nice pop...

What-evs, I'm a two-timer on the ACL recon front, so I was like, "no big deal", I'll be able to walk and can get it fixed maybe in the middle of my "maternity leave" if we are so lucky.  However, when I wanted to get back in the boat, my knee wouldn't straighten... if fact that's my extension in that picture...I couldn't get it in the immobilizer @ ED visit one on Friday evening.  ED visit number 2 on Saturday morning because I was up all night with spasming and feeling like my lower leg was falling off at whatever angle I put it in...I called to ask if there was a weekend ortho clinic anywhere in Knoxville, and they said..."You're gonna have to come back to the Emergency Department." I've never been to the ED twice for the same problem...So embarrassing...anyway, after 2 doses of Dilaudid, zofran, and an IV muscle relaxant they got it "straight enough" to barely fit in the immobilizer. My knee is probably 3 inches from the back of the immobilizer.  I went home on more pain meds, muscle relaxers, and steroids.  I slept in the immobilizer but my knee was cramping up more and more and now I'm stuck at 20 degrees again...

So I was supposed to work this weekend...It's hard to be a nurse with 2 hands...much less no hands because of the crutches...oh, and it hurts quite a bit, so I'm wasting my time-off away, and I'll need days sooner rather than later for an embryo transfer.  This is just, well, typical "Shull" luck for me.  I have enough time off to make it through 2 shifts and then I'm tapped out.  I can't go back to work until I'm cleared by an ortho. That sounds well and good, but I don't hear too many people getting in to see an ortho the day they call.  I'm feeling pretty screwed...I mean I can probably get my short-term disability, but I doubt they will let me have that for an embryo transfer...and I'm in a little deep to stop now...

This just bites...on the upside I have pain killers for my endometrial biopsy!

Peace, Love, and Gimps,
Mary Katherine



Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's Tricky, Tricky, Tricky!


So yeah...back at it with painted toes...

I just thought I was a big wuss, when it came to "painless" procedures involving catheters being inserted through my cervix, but as I nearly lurched off the table, Dr. D explained that I had a very mobile uterus, and a very narrow and stiff cervix which "is a difficult combination." So when I say it feels like they are sticking a sharpened pencil up my cervix, I'm sorta justified...maybe...

Long story-short it's done. I have no fibroids! So the inside of my uterus is "baby friendly". Our next step is to rough it up so more lining accumulates. I will have not one, but 2/dos/a couple/a pair, double endometrial biopsies done in the next two weeks consecutively. Yes 2, and I'm hating my life thinking about it right now... 

Just thinking about having sex and getting pregnant...you have no idea how nice you have it! This is....well less fun than sex...by a lot... It's frustrating because the cramping doesn't just last "thirty minutes". It's off and on for the rest of the day and my cervix hurts for the next couple. Who feels their cervix? Apparently me...

Oh, and my narrow cervix has bought me another procedure. Because they can't use a tenaculum (sharp spiky forcep looking thing to hold a cervix in place) for an embryo transfer because it will cause cramping, I get to have stitch placed in my cervix a few days before the transfer so Dr. D can use that to stabilize my cervix. He can't do it the day of because it may cause...you guessed it, cramping.

I'm clearly a little bitter...but I'm very fortunate to have this guy to pamper me and be by my side every step of the way!
 
Well, here's hoping the next two weeks fly by, and I don't kick Dr. D! 

Peace, love, and one biopsy at a time...
MK


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two weeks of torture to commence...



No we aren't waiting for pregnancy test results...we are just waiting to go through all the testing in which they determine if my uterus is healthy enough to carry a pregnancy.  It's about as much fun as it sounds.  This Thursday, they are going to blow my uterus up like a balloon with saline, and next Thursday they are going to pinch off a piece of my endometrium to make it extra tacky for my embryo.

I'm not near as excited/motivated/anxious as I thought I would be.  I'm just resigned and scared.  Not of the testing...they never find anything wrong with me...Just not sure I'm woman enough to brave another failure/negative result.

UGH...I hate infertility...I hate everything that goes with it and, I really hate all this lead up before the biggest let-down of my life.

...

But what if it's not a let down?  Dare I dream?

Peace, Love, and Someone Needs A Nap...
MK

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vacation Blues

For most people, I would imagine packing for the beach does not seem such an arduous chore. I should be happy and grateful I get to go on vacation, and I enjoy it when I get there, but the packing...

Summer of 2010 and 2011, BJ and I were always like, 'this will be our last vacation without a baby!!!' My heart would swell, and I could not wait to struggle figuring out how to put a Pack & Play a stroller and the other 1/3 of Babies R' Us in our car on top of our stuff.  And every following year, I'd be disappointed. I'm so ready to share my love of the sun, water and sand with the next generation.  I'm ready to start new family traditions.

Yet once again, we head to the beach as a 2-person family unit.  No car seats, Pack & Plays, strollers, iddy bitty bathing suits, car tantrums, just...BJ and I.

The Pollyanna in me wants to scream this is it, this is your last summer vacation with no children, but the realist in me is very much aware that nothing is guaranteed to us. That makes me sad. We can only hope, which is what we always do, but I've learned that hope can be a real mean bitch if you try to give her deadlines.

I have no idea how this will turn out.  I know that right now we have 2 "excellent" quality embryos frozen and waiting.  I know that being frozen is not living, but it's not being dead, either.  I know that I'm currently growing pretty miserable everyday with my endometriosis, even with birth control pills, and that scares me.  What kind of environment can I possibly provide that would not harm them if I can't make it through the grocery store without ditching my cart and running to the bathroom?  All these things swirl in my head.

For this one week however, the only thing I'm going to swirl is a glass...and the Atlantic can swirl around my toes.

I have no clue what the tide will bring for us, but it will continue to ebb and flow and will be here waiting for us next year no matter how many failures, successes, or challenges we face in the coming weeks.  Perhaps, it's just a matter of  focusing on the consistencies I do have.

Peace, Love, and Saltwater,
MK

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Baby Pictures!

Well, as expected, our third little guy arrested.  I'm sad but okay with that.  I'm over-joyed with the quality of the two we do have.  As my dad put it, for this cycle our gross was poor but our net was outstanding.  To put it in perspective, another lady going through a freeze-all cycle had 11 eggs, and only had 2 to freeze.  So in the end, she had about a 10th return.  This is really encouraging about the quality of eggs that we did get.

As the title promises, here are our snow babies (this seems to be the trending term for embryos that have been frozen, and I can't think of anything better so, fine...)




I know, you're like but, where is the baby? Well, they're there.  Starting with the excellent blast on the left, you can see the outer rim, that's the zona pellucida, or the egg shell that's not hatched but it's definitely thinned out. We didn't want it to progress too much further as that would mean it would be ready to look for a home in my uterus, and currently my wacko ovaries are not enabling that option, so good thing it's frozen.  Just inside the zona pellucida is the trophectoderm which will become the placenta. Yup, that already happened.  It's not functioning, and it won't function fully, God-willing, until the end of the first trimester, but its building blocks are already there.  Still on the left, between 11 o'clock and 12 o'clock, you have what is in medical jargon called an "Inner Cell Mass". I like to call it the baby, because that is what it is going to develop to be. Yup, you too, were just a wee "Inner Cell Mass". I love my inner cell masses/babies.  The space in the middle is the blastocele or cavity. Same on the right except  BABY is @ 7:00.  Baby looks bigger because this is a full blast and not an expanded blast which is still very much appropriate and high quality just isn't stretched out as much as the one on the left.  Not to mention, this is a 2D representation of a 3D object so not all the cells are going to be in focus on any given plane and she chose the plane where the most expansion could be seen.  So both babies are in excellent condition, both pre-placentas are ready to go, it's just a matter of thawing, hatching, and implanting...which is what no one can ever guarantee...if only...

My embryologist was very pleased for us.  She's excited and thinks we have 2 excellent chances with these embryos.  They look so much better than the one we had 2.5 years ago.  It's hard to imagine how hopeful we were knowing what we know now, but I'm very encouraged.  I'm aware that it's only two, but I remember that I had a chemical pregnancy with a sluggish, low quality blast, and that does bode well for us.  I can't say I'm a hostile environment...BJ might argue...

As sad as I am that two arrested, I'm also pleased that all four behaved normally.  Every woman is born with a fixed amount of eggs and every month she loses 50 or so.  People panic around IVF because it "wastes eggs" when actually it rescues many of those 50.  We do not naturally have enough hormones to support 20-30 eggs as well we shouldn't because a "healthy" triplet pregnancy could practically kill us without modern obstetrics.  Much less a litter...Anywho, of those 20-30 "rescued with IVF support", even in young 20-somethings, there are "bad" eggs with chromosomal abnormalities.  This is why the lady with 11 eggs probably only had 2 to freeze.  They were probably "aneuploid" eggs as opposed to normal, or euploid, eggs.  Aneuploid eggs tend to arrest and quit developing.  That doesn't mean it's not sad, or any less disappointing, but it's better than the unknowing and struggling that my embryos from my biological eggs did.  It's at least, peaceful and understandable.

OMG, I have totally nerded out...I'm so proud of them, I had too, ...OK so what I really wanted to say is that the baby on the left is going to grow up to be a reproductive endocrinologist, and the baby on the right is going to become an attorney/senator who will be acclaimed for helping improve insurance coverage for fertility treatments.  Or they will both be living with me until they are 45, and honestly, since we'll be old, as long as they help out, that's just fine, too!

Oh, and I guess I should credit all this learning to Dr. D, and Susan, our embryologist!

Peace, Love, and Babies that look like pancakes,
MK

Friday, June 27, 2014

2

So far we have 2 "excellent quality" frozen embryos. One arrested yesterday (died) one is a day behind and gets another day to catch up. 

We have a chance or two. Or one chance at twins.  The point is...we actually have a fighting chance.

I'm shocked. I'm dazed. I'm not really sure just what to do with myself. 

The return of two frozen on four eggs is amazing. The disappointment that it's not more is very grounding. But it is what it is and we've never gotten this far. I've never had an embryo of such high quality to work with, and I did get pregnant very briefly with one of poor quality. This tips the odds slightly in our favor.

Peace, Love and Wow!

MK

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wow, Wow, Wow, Alright!

Day 3

This was the day that we pretty much always knew we were fighting the tide when it was my eggs. With my biological eggs our embryologist would start her reports with, "Well...that was her stalling via email.  Then she would tell us they were behind and fragmented.

Today however, we learned that three of ours were on schedule with one being at 6 cells and already compacting, 2 at 8 cells and already compacting.  The 4th at 4 cells, a little behind the others, but since they were fertilized in the evening and she looked in the morning it was still in the "not to be given up on zone".

Compacting to BJ and I is the opposite of fragmenting.  It's the most beautiful word we've heard to ever describe our embryos.  I'm just over the moon.

It's not Friday yet, so we can't rest on our laurels just yet.  I will be more relieved when we get the word that we actually have them in the freezer.  I must say many times I have been overcome with likes on Facebook, messages, comments, and texts.  It fills my heart to know this many people are rooting for our little embies and for us.  So thank you for that so much!


Peace, Love, and Grow babies, grow!

Mary Katherine





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Oh the anxiety...

Today we are not supposed to get a report, and so far we haven't...so that is good, right????!!!

It's so funny, the high of yesterday's "They fertilized normally," gave way to this morning's anxiety. Which is unfortunate because I had to do my biometric profile for my insurance.  It took a while, but some deep breaths and envisioning my toes in the sand with a margarita in hand enabled me to get my resting heart rate down from 136 to 107.  Yes...I workout regularly, normally I'm in the 70s, on good days in the 60s, but in the middle of fertility treatments I probably stay between 110-140.

I told you my heart breaks...

But anywho, it's only because I don't know what's going on.  I'm scared for tomorrow, and it's hard to stay in this scary moment of not knowing.  The nurse practitioner at my internist's today asked about when we were planning to do the our transfer, and I tearfully told her September.  She gave me instructions to stop taking my Topomax in August which is exciting if this works, but sad if it does not.

Just keep breathing, MK.



So we shall see where we are tomorrow.  That's all we can do.  Just keep swimming, or stand-up paddle-boarding, or snuggling with cats.  Which is funny...because as I cuddled with my cats who are mostly jerks...like today, I had to pull a huge piece of plastic rubber cement glue strip off of a mailer or something out of Lucifer's mouth (absolutely no clue where he found it) that he was trying to eat...I look at them and I think, 'No one gave a damn about you when you were just an embryo, and you made it,'  So maybe, just maybe things are going the way they normally do.  Even if it means my children will eat glue like their fuzzy brother...

So I have to give myself a pat on the back.  I functioned today.  I worked out at the gym. I cleaned. I called my mom every 2 hours...ok so the last part probably not so indicative of high-functioning, but despite my racing heartbeat...I'm functioning. So maybe I have gotten a little stronger in the last 2 years.



Peace, Love, & Functioning,
Mary Katherine

Gratuitous picture of Lucifer post op from his first of 2 surgeries to remove foreign bodies from his stomach...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Don't tell me...

Don't tell me I don't know the heartache of motherhood.

Don't tell me I have no clue how much you worry over your children.

Don't tell me I don't understand what it's like to have children, because you don't understand what it's like to know you have children from the absolute moment you have a single egg and a single sperm to worry over.

This weekend was the worst roller coaster of treatments we've been on so far.  As veterans on this path we thought we were prepared.  What we got came out of nowhere.  Our team of physicians and embryologists went above and beyond for us.

And what we got was 4 eggs.

Only 4 from the possibly 60 follicles they saw.  They worked their tails off to get them. They suctioned and flushed each one, they suctioned all the fluid free in her abdomen, but all they could get was 4.

So our embryologist thought they looked mature.  We were happy with that, because it was so much better than 0.  There was the tinge of disappointment because less numbers give us less chances, BUT, as of that moment we had 4 chances, 4 better chances than we've ever had.

So we got home around 11:00am exhausted and scared and anxious to know what was happening to our eggs and sperm.  So I decided to visit our friends we've been neglecting.

BJ and I were having a wonderful time with our very thoughtful friends. We were wrapping our visit up when our embryologist called. I just looked at BJ when the ID appeared on my cell phone.  I could not think of any good scenario in which our embryologist would be calling the evening after she had fertilized our eggs.

She began by saying the eggs were mature.

'We already knew that,' raced in my head.

She continued, "They responded well, to being fertilized. That is 2 obstacles down!"

I think I just said,  "OK."  I was really just too confused to understand what was going on.  Did she lie to us earlier? What happened?  I texted her an apology for sounding short, I was just so startled and... confounded I guess would be the word because all the sudden we were 8 hours behind what I thought we were...

By text message she said she knew she had startled me, but she wanted to call because it was more personal.  Apparently, when she finished washing the eggs off, they were "on the cusp of maturity", but they were not totally mature. I would have died if I had known that at the time, so I'm almost glad I didn't know.  They responded well to being incubated.  They acted pissed off when she performed ICSI (injected sperm into them) which is how healthy eggs should be.  Resistant to being entered by sperm.  (Again we ask ourselves, how does anyone get pregnant?) I didn't ask, but the way she explained it to me makes me wonder if my biological eggs were slutty and just all like, "Come on in."...whores....

OK so that's fine and dandy.  I can inject things into things and that' s not necessarily going to mean magic is happening.  Our embryologist said she did her fertility dance, prayed, sent juju and good vibes over these four.  She reiterated how special we were, how much she wanted this to work, and reminded us that these were 4 good eggs.

Which brings us to today.  They fertilized normally.  They are on track.  ALL 4 ARE DOING FINE!  The anxiety and tension are down.  We can't be too picky.  We are miles ahead of where we were.  We are cried out from the weekend.  But we are still moving forward.

I love these 4 little zygotes more than anything.  I'm in love.  I pray, I send good vibes, I send juju, I beg, I hope and I smile because I officially have 4 embryos.

The next hurdle has always been the beginning of our downfall.  Day 3.  Ours were beginning to fragment, arrest, and slow in growth.  We will continue to hold our vigil, celebrate the life we have, and continue on...maybe with more glittery headbands than usual...

Peace, Love, and Growth,

Mary Katherine






Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bad Dress Rehearsal = Great Show

...or so we hope.

I'm disappointed to tell you today did not go as planned. 

It was a rough morning to say the least. I was happily chatting with the recovery nurse when 15 minutes later we heard what sounded like Dr. Byrd (Donesky's partner) finishing up and was impressed that it happened so fast. Dr. Bird came back, shook my hand and sighed.

My pulse increased. I just wasn't expecting anything to go wrong today. I couldn't imagine what could have happened to super donor, but here it goes...

"Well, she has a ton of follicles, about 20-30 on each side and we drained 10 on the right side, and got no eggs.  We stopped and flushed the tubing, because occasionally they get caught up and a bunch come out at once, but none came through the catheter."

Warm, wetness falling down both cheeks, my chest  begins to hurt, but I take a deep breath.  Dr Byrd continued.

"We've had this happen one time before in 6 years to another egg donor.  A proven egg donor [one that has created successful embryos that lead to a live birth previously] triggered with Lupron, we went in for the retrieval but the eggs had not detached from the follicle.  So, we gave her an HCG trigger, brought her back in 24 hours and were able to get eggs from her.  This went on to become a successful donation procedure as well."

My heart ached for my donor.  She's been such a trooper, and to have to repeat this process 24 hours later.  I knew she would ask how many eggs they got.  I absolutely hate this.  My head is reeling.

Susan, our embryologist, came out and was just horrified for us.  She took me to her office so I didn't have to be there when Dr. Byrd re-explained the situation to BJ.

Our egg donor was still asleep.  I was still reeling.  This is just crazy.  This isn't something that is even google searchable.  So it wasn't on my radar to worry about, and I was totally unprepared.

From Susan's office I heard our donor crying, and I lost it.  I caused this innocent person who has given up so much for us anguish.  I just felt so guilty and sad and overwhelmed.

Someone said, "You guys have sure been through it."  We have.  It's not simple stuff, that gives us clear-cut answers.  It's always stuff from left field.  People get on to me for worrying so much, but here you go.  I rest my case.

So like I said, I have super donor.  We cried it out for a little bit, she agreed to go again, all the while asking what she did wrong, which was absolutely nothing!!!!! This is just a total fluke.  She's like .0001% well, maybe .0002% now that don't respond to a Lupron trigger which they've started using and she should definitely have because of the sheer number of follicles she has.  She will undergo the procedure again tomorrow.

All and all it has been a rough day.  It was a huge slap in the face that no matter how we try bring children into this world, it's not going to be easy.  We can't take anything for granted. Today I was reminded how easy it is to fall back into that funk.  It's like I could feel that shadow of despair turn my blue eyes gray, leech the gold out my locks, and dull my sparkle.

This was what I had been dreading.  The chest pain.  I'm sure it's actually just a low-grade chronic anxiety attack that I always have when we get bad news, but I like to describe it as the feeling of my heart breaking.  I'm so angry.  I could punch the ground, I could scream how this is not fair, but I'm a big girl, and it's not over quite yet.

I feel so selfish asking for prayers because so many people are in much more dire straits than we are.  I pray that my egg donor is comfortable, not too sore, not nauseous, and will find peace no matter the outcome tomorrow.  We appreciate all the good vibes, thoughts, and love from our family and friends.

I've set my alarm for 4:30 once again.  We'll hit the road to be in Chatt-town bright and early, again. This time with my mother for some extra love and support on the way.  One way or another, we'll get through this.  We'll get through this. Just breath, step forward, and smile...

Peace, Love, And It Ain't Over Until It's Over,
Mary Katherine

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Owe Em Jee!!!!

Our donor triggered!!! (FINALLY!!!!) That means her follicles are at the size that they expect the eggs to be mature at on Saturday, so she took medicine to release the eggs from the wall of the follicles so they could be sucked out. It's all very technical. She had a ridiculous amount of follicles and is currently in the running for having the most eggs, according to the Nurse practitioner, but I don't want to let my guard down too much, but as she said we may be going from "Infertile to Duggars---phhhsh".

So Saturday, @ 8:00 am she will undergo the retrieval process and BJ will undertake the sample process, and I will be a nervous mother. My children, will be conceived on Saturday. Yes, I know...they're just embryos to you, but to me, it's all I've ever had, known, been able to have, and God knows I'd given my life to meet any of them outside a Petri dish. Once we were just an embryo.   It's funny because I'm fairly liberal on the when does life start debate, but for my personal children, the only life they've been able to achieve is as tiny stem cells. 

But they were my tiny stem cells, and I yearned for them with a mother's heart and weeped for them as a mother who's lost. It's funny how I thought I'd never be able to love a child from an egg donor when the subject was first broached. I've loved these eggs since I saw the first follicle count. 

Since I really have no idea what a freeze all cycle entails, I decided if we got this far I could email the embryologist and just ask what to look for, when she would freeze, and what our goals should be. I am so hopeful it scares me. I should be more scared of bad fertilization rates and egg quality, but I'm excited. I can't help myself.

Hope is a funny thing. It enables you to overcome fear whether the cause is gallant or futile. But without hope, you'll never know. So where does this hope lead us now? To bliss or despair? 

In the long run, it will lead us to the future that we will adjust to, no matter how different it is from the one I envisioned with BJ 8.5 years ago. It will lead us to growth, strength, some will say character building as if my character could get much bigger, lol, and eventually acceptance.  

Peace, love, and hoping for a shot at this parenthood thing,
MK



Monday, June 16, 2014

Not Crazy, Just Petrified

Honestly, I'd repressed how scary infertility treatments were.  I remember the expense, but apparently the angst, fear, and anxiety were all repressed.  I can cry now if you look at me.  Or it could be that I officially have female hormones in my body again...I don't know.

I'm so consumed with fear right now.  I'm honest-to-God scared for my future children's lives.  I'd forgotten what that was like.  It's crazy.  Everything is fine.  I intellectually understand that, but at the same time, none of this is fine.  IF it was fine, I would have conceived a child 4 years ago the old fashioned way and currently would be about to have my second baby.  But life isn't always about little girl dreams and fairy tails.

Again, we just won't know until we know that everything works and we have healthy embryos until we have healthy embryos.  I can't make the process go any faster, and I can't know the outcome any sooner.  I do remember how awful and helpless this feels, and I can't say I truly know how to cope with it any better.  The hermit in me wants to bob up and down in the middle of a lake for 2 weeks until this is said and done. If I can't do that, I want to hide under my blankets in my favorite pair of pjs and fuzzy socks and cry. I realize this doesn't change the outcome, one way or the other, but it's just where I feel safe. Hidden away from people who don't understand how hard the next couple of weeks are and just shrug "well, what did you really expect to happen?" if this doesn't work. 

Well, I'll tell ya. For once, I hope to not be a statistical outlier. I hope my egg donor is perfectly healthy and that her eggs are perfectly primed at retrieval. I hope BJ has a healthy supply of swimmers that day. I hope we don't see any fragmentation. I hope we see a normal growth/development rate.

I just hope we see average for once. I hope we see statistical norms. I hope for the not special, not different, not unique. Just...ok. Looking at things like that, we aren't really asking a whole lot.

Peace, Love, and Desparately Seeking Average,
MK

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bitten by the Late Night Crazies

I need my friends, clearly. And my job...two days without working has given me too much time to think so the doubt monster is creeping in. 

Ugh. Given my history, it's a reasonable fear. Given the new circumstances, I'm just being crazy. So I've spent the last hour and a half with the quack, Dr. Google, and he/she has only confirmed that I'm batty. 

I hate not knowing all the answers but the truth is we just won't know until we know after our donor's retrieval that her eggs are mature and, the piece I've always missed, of good quality. 

We're becoming so hopeful that we are letting our guard down and talking about budgets and affording this child like it may actually happen. I catch myself imagining Emma Grace with a toddler to get in trouble with, finding "caveman" drawings on our walls, and actually getting to parent a child. When in reality, we have 39 more weeks worth of hurdles to make it through. Even me with crap ovaries did well the first week, although my donor's labs are better...much, much better! Believe, MK, believe!

It's exhausting anticipating every possible outcome. I'm just so afraid of disappointment. I'm afraid for our donor, I'm afraid for my parents and in-laws, and I'm afraid for BJ and me. 

I guess this is where we just pray for the strength to get through whatever outcome is headed in our direction. 

Peace, Love, and Not Going Batshit,
Mary Katherine

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Silver Lining

Maybe this is how it was supposed to happen the whole time.  I don't know. But I think Dr. Donesky, Dr. Bullen, and I can move myself out of the unknown infertility category once and for all.

I whined about my gross problems previously. Dr. D suggested I take the placebo pills in my birth control pack to see what happens, and I was not supposed to start my Estrace (estradiol) until Monday. I got to go a whole day with no hormones, and I just started having hot flashes.  Basically all this means is that my ovaries are in early retirement.  Good for them...

I do have to take Estrace now and for however long until we are ready to try a transfer if we get some good embryos.  Staying on estradiol while you are young enough to still have working parts can have some nasty consequences, but that's currently not the plan, and again, I'm already a high risk for nastiness because of my infertility. So it's a double edged sword.  I just know now that it's not if I get a hysterectomy it's more like when...and I probably ought to reconsider the whole 4 years apart thing...but we'll see.

But the good news is, I'm doing everything right.  This gives me a working diagnosis of primary ovarian insufficiency.  Only about 5% of women with this are able to achieve pregnancy and we have it on good authority that I'm not one of those :).

BUT with egg donation, 90% are able to achieve pregnancy in three attempts.  That's pretty fantastic in medical statistics.  So it's a relief to me that I finally have some closure, and we know we are doing the right thing.  We have made the right decisions and headed down a known and proven successful pathway for my diagnosis.

On that note my donor is doing great.  More follicles keep coming and catching up. We are at Duggar numbers and counting, baby.  She is growing a little slow, but she was really suppressed so my Dr. was not surprised. She may need to stimulate a couple days more than 10 but that's fine.  She's tolerating everything so well!

Peace, Love, and Estradiol,

MK

Friday, June 6, 2014

There she goes!

Well, she passed.

Our donor's labs are glorious.  Her numbers put me to shame.  I guess that's why I'm barren... Anyway, I continue to pray that she is safe, comfortable and can one day know the massive amount of gratitude and thankfulness we owe her but that there is no measurable way to reimburse her for embarking on this crazy journey.   

It's hard for me to accept all this, "It's working."  I'm so ready for the shoe to drop.  I mean it always drops for us, eventually, but I live my life braced for it.  Which is maybe slightly better than living in despair...but only slightly.  

So today the fertility clinic is wanting to know where I am in my cycle so they can go ahead and start planning ahead for our upcoming FET (frozen embryo transfer)...which is weird because if it were me stimulating they'd be all like...let's just see how injecting yourself goes tomorrow.  Let's see if the band-aid stays on...let's see if you have an ovary left...on that note...

So they seem all positive and planny-aheady and want to know when my periods are so they can tentatively pencil me in for a saline-infused-sonogram (SIS).  Anytime anything depends on my body doing something regularly, I get anxious and panicky...because my ovaries are anything but dependable.  I'd put more money on a politician being honest than my ovaries...I digress...

What makes matters worse, is that this should be simple because I've been on birth control pills...When my Depo Provera shot ran out, my period came back with the wrath of the woman scorned complete with the usual nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and sit down before you pass out even if it's while your walking down the hallway...It's cool...it's what cool people with endometriosis do when they see the black curtains closing across their field of vision.  

So on that note, Dr. D had me skip the inactive pills and just take the blue pills straight through...Ideally, no more periods...Hooray! Except now if I'm not having breakthrough bleeding, I'm having heavier bleeding at least every other week.  And yes I did wait until the Sunday after my period to start taking my pills, but alas...constant muckery.  I will say the cramping is tolerable and the nausea gone. 

Leading back to panic at having to answer when my period is because it should be never but it's almost always, and something along the lines of telling Dr D's medical assistant... "I'm ashamed to admit I don't know how to answer your question even though I work in women's health given that I'm not supposed to be having any bleeding at all, and I feel like I'm bleeding more than I'm not, and I have 4 more blue pills on this pack so I guess it's Day 17 today unless you count when I started bleeding this week, then it's Day 4, but if you count when I started bleeding the first time on this pack it's like Day 13. Did that help? I'm sorry."

So now, I have to start taking the placebos...dammit...and I have a new prescription, Estrace. So I'm sure my mood will be super lovely since estrogen and I are total frenemies.  Poor BJ...maybe he can join a support group.  So super-fun times to be had taking my menopause/transgender pills! YAY!

I could speculate at what's happening to my ovaries, but none of it really matters or changes the outcome of what we are doing.  Only confirms that we made a good decision to give up on my ovaries and eggs. I could get all torn up about it, but it's too little too late, and frankly, not surprising.  No matter what happens down the road, I would do anything for the chance to have a child to call my own.  

Peace, Love, and Bring it, Bitch,
MK