A Transfer & Some Waiting.

15 June 2013

On Friday morning, I had two beautiful 5 day old blastocysts transferred into my body. All along I was praying that we would make it to this day...and it finally happened. The transfer procedure was very quick. We looked at our two little ones under a microscope and watched them via ultrasound machine as they were placed back inside me for the next nine months (we hope). Before I knew it, I was in my bed resting for the remainder of the day. They gave us a picture of the little blasts to go home with, and I can't stop ogling it. The beauty of that cluster of cells was enough to knock me off my feet. There is something so incredible about this process.

Now we wait, we pray, we laugh, and we love. We have been through a lot to get to this point, but the show isn't over yet. Hopefully, it has just begun.

Thank you to everyone who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers. We are very grateful for all of your support and love!



Lucky 13.

10 June 2013

I wanted to pop on here and provide a little update for anyone who is following along.

21 eggs retrieved.
15 mature.
13 fertilized.

I am taking it easy while recovering from my egg retrieval. The retrieval went pretty well, aside from the horrible nausea upon waking up from the anesthesia and some aches and pains. The lab called this morning and told me that of the 21 eggs that were retrieved, 15 were mature, and 13 of the mature eggs fertilized normally.

We are very, very cautiously optimistic. Let me explain.

For a normal woman going through IVF, these appear to be great numbers. HOWEVER, retrieving eggs and getting them to fertilize doesn't appear to be our issue (judging from IVF#1). Our issue is getting these little embryos to survive to their day 5 transfer and beyond. So crunch time really sets in for us after fertilization (a.k.a. in the next few days).

We were also slightly disappointed because our last IVF looked like this on day 1 post-retrieval:

23 eggs retrieved.
15 mature.
15 fertilized.

I was preparing myself for the fact that we would not be able to live up to a 100% fertilization rate like with IVF #1. However, when you actually hear the embryologist telling you that you have less embryos to work with this time around than your last IVF (which failed) you tend to get nervous. Last time, we lost all of our embies except the two that we transferred (which didn't take). So naturally all kinds of questions and thoughts are swirling around in my head. For the most part, it is just too early to tell if this cycle is any different from the last one. But, I am scared.

Prayers and good thoughts welcomed for our (hopefully) lucky 13.



Eye of the Tiger

7 June 2013

Well, folks, we are approaching one of the most crucial stages of any IVF cycle: the egg retrieval. This Sunday, I will faithfully don a sexy hairnet and flattering hospital gown. I will be under light anesthesia while my doctor carefully goes in and extracts my eggs. Then, they will (hopefully) fertilize and grow healthy and strong in preparation for the egg transfer sometime next week.

For IVF1, I remember being nervous, excited, and giddy. I remember affectionately patting my slightly swollen belly and talking to my little eggs. Awwww, such a heart warming scene. This time around, there have been no heart warming scenes. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. But this cycle has taken so much more out of me. Walking into our doctor's office lobby, I look like an IVF cautionary tale. That scary, exhausted woman with ruffled hair and glazed over eyes that makes you want to run out of the office? That's me. I am bloated, crampy, nauseous, and still dizzy. But, I am hanging in. Hanging on. Clawing my way to the finish line. We are throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this IVF cycle. Any random vial or syringe of fertility medication my doctor has happened to stumble upon in his office has been injected in my belly; my pudge, as I have been lovingly calling it. This time around, I can't even lightly pat my belly, because my belly fucking hurts.

I am living in yoga pants. I have had way more sex this week with my doctor's ultrasound wand than I have had with my husband in longer than I would like to admit. But, when it comes down to it, if this is what gets me to my future baby then this is what gets me to my future baby. I have resigned myself to this fact.

It is "eye of the tiger" time. Let's do this shit.



IVF Part Deux

4 June 2013

Here are some details about IVF Part Deux.
  • We just finished Day 8 of the stimulation injections in preparation for the egg retrieval which is coming up probably at the end of this week! 
  • This cycle has been a lot tougher for me physically. The second Lupron Depot shot really did a number on me, and I have been off balance, dizzy, and fatigued for days upon days. It makes sense. The Lupron sucked almost all the estrogen out of my body (my estrogen level was less than 20 when we started this cycle), and now estrogen is pumping back into my body at warp speed. This IVF protocol is intense and aggressive, and my poor body is so confused. 
  • I almost fainted at my doctor's office due to the above bullet point. That was kinda embarrassing. 
  • My belly looks like someone with a tiny fist punched me and caused bruises on both sides of my belly button. I have to do more shots than I did for IVF #1, and I am worried we are going to run out of room on my stomach. 
  • In other Lupron news, my hot flashes and night sweats are gone. I no longer feel so angry and troll-like. I imagine that normally it might take longer for the Lupron side effects to go away, but since I am amped up on fertility meds, maybe some of my side effects are disappearing at a faster rate? 
  • This cycle is going to be considerably more expensive than IVF #1. This time around I was under-suppressed due to the Lupron, so I am taking more drugs to get my follicles going. The under-suppression makes me nervous, but my doctor doesn't seem to be too worried. 
  • Menopur shots burn like a mofo. After numerous painful experiences, L and I have found that injecting the liquid very, VERY slowly helps a ton. 
  • Last cycle, I was obsessed and paranoid about doing everything the "right" way. I listened to an IVF meditation CD. I did fertility yoga. I saw my acupuncturist. It was a picture perfect cycle...until it wasn't. This time around, I am not doing any of that mostly because I have been so freaking dizzy. Also, I have done so much preparation for this cycle as it is, so I am just trying to chill out and let my body do its thing. I believe in my body. I am so proud of my body. I know that it is working its absolute hardest. 
  • My brave husband, L, gives me my shots every night just like with IVF #1. But, this time, we are having fun with it, and we play Daft Punk and Pharrell's "Get Lucky" during the injections to cut the tension in the air. Playing music in the background really seems to help. Please oh please say we get lucky this round!!

Lastly, L and I are taking this time to just love one another and thank our lucky stars that we have such amazing families and so much support in our lives. This is a very special time for us, and we are taking it all in. 


Life on Lupron Depot: Weeks Seven and Eight

29 May 2013

Previous Lupron Depot Cracked Out Adventure Posts
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The final two weeks of Lupron Depot treatment have been more of the same. I have had moments of feeling better where I think I have turned a corner, but then I go right back to feeling crappy. The good news is that on Monday we found out there will be no more Lupron shots! IVF Part Deux is starting. More on that to come...

Week Seven: I continued to have hot flashes, night sweats, exhaustion, and anxiety. I found that taking a beta blocker and/or a low dose of klonopin (as approved by my doctor) actually helped with the hot flashes. I have to believe there is some sort of connection between anxiety and hot flashes, because whenever I felt anxious, the hot flashes felt like they were ten times worse. I rarely experienced a hot flash that was not accompanied by anxiety in some form or another.

Week Eight: The home stretch! I was actually excited for Week Eight, because I was hoping that perhaps a switch would turn off and I would be relieved of any and all side effects. Ha! I wish. Week Eight came with the same challenges, and some new challenges as well. I noticed one evening that I felt kinda drunk (minus any of the fun parts including booze). I had some loss of balance and my head felt heavy. I chalked it up to klonopin side effects and went to bed. The next morning, I felt the same. I also had/have brain fog. I can't remember much of anything, and I often cannot find the words to express what I am trying to say. Ummm, what the FUCK?! Brain fog has been one of the scariest side effects to date. Because I apparently enjoy torturing myself, L and I watched the movie, Side Effects. It's a creepy movie made even creepier if you are on all sorts of medications while watching it.

I am now in my ninth week of Lupron, and my head still feels heavy, I have zero energy, and I have vertigo. My doctor believes that it is due to low estrogen. He thinks that it will dissipate when I start my meds for IVF. Gosh, I hope so.

Final thoughts: It has been a rough couple of months. I really think doctors who prescribe Lupron Depot should talk with their patients about the mental and emotional side effects that can occur while taking Lupron. Sure, anyone can read about the side effects online, but it is different when your doctor is the one telling you and hopefully supporting you through this. It really helped to hear directly from my doctor that I wasn't going crazy. These side effects were within the norm and I should try not to worry as much as possible. He fully supported me taking anti-anxiety medication and encouraged me to be kind to myself. It was refreshing that my concerns were not brushed aside nor was I ever told "it couldn't be the medication" (like I have been told many times in the past).

Where we go from here: We now know that my endometriosis responded to the Lupron and it appears to be in better shape then before. I don't want to say too much at this point, because we are moving onto IVF, and we won't know if this has truly been the "answer" we are looking for until we get through IVF Part Deux.

Thank you to everyone who supported me through the Lupron haze! (This includes the collection of loved ones who actually came in contact with me over the past nine weeks. I love you.)

If you have any questions or comments about my Lupron experiences, please feel free to comment, email me, or I am also on Twitter.


Recent Happenings & Sara Bareilles' Brave Enough Tour

21 May 2013

I wanted to share some random fun stuff with you guys, because despite the ups and downs of infertility and all that bullshit, there is still a lot of life to live, right?!

A couple of weeks ago, L and I took a trip down south and celebrated my birthday a bit early. We haven't been able to go on vacation like we would like to for a long time so we covet any time we can go more than like five miles away from home.

{Taken on our hotel balcony.}
Here is a photo of my sugary mint chocolate chip ice cream cake (courtesy of L). Brought me right back to my childhood. Yes, it's from Baskin Robbins. Is there any other way to do a sugary ice cream cake?


Instagram friends may have seen that we were at the Sara Bareilles concert last week at the El Rey Theater. We have seen Sara B. before (I wrote a post back in 2010). Her music really speaks to me, and her latest Brave Enough show blew my mind. She is touring alone. It is literally just her, her piano, her guitar, and the stage. If you ever get a chance to see her live, GO.



The El Rey holds less than 1,000 people. It was standing room only and felt so intimate. There are maybe a handful of (living) artists that I would stand for hours for in a room full of body heat and strangers. And when I say body heat...I am mostly talking about my own, because half the time I was mid-Lupron hotflash. Fuuuuun.

Sara B., you were worth it.




Big Picture (or lack thereof)

14 May 2013

I pulled this from my personal stash of blog posts that isn't supposed to see the light of day. It's all about feelings. All the feelings. I was compelled to share it for anyone else going through fertility treatments/infertility/etc. Dealing with fertility issues can make you kinda crazy. It can also make you think about things that people without fertility issues may never have to worry nor concern themselves over. 

And that's okay. 

It's okay if your mind goes to places you never thought it would go. It doesn't make you a bad person or a Debbie Downer. It makes you someone who has been dealt a crappy hand and is doing the best they possibly can. Or maybe infertility has made you an eternal optimist and you don't go to the dark corners. I have never met anyone like that, but there's a first time for everything. If I have learned anything over the past number of years, it is that everyone faces challenges differently. And with infertility, the second you think you're doing okay, you've got this infertility thing under control, the shit flies up and hits you smack in the face.    


---

I don't see the big picture anymore. I can't see the big picture anymore. My life is a series of small, deliberate steps. I find it almost impossible to imagine my flat, empty stomach as ever being a swollen, pregnant belly. I don't allow myself to think in those terms. I just can't.

Infertility has taken away my ability to envision where I will be in one, two, or ten years. My life is about what is happening right now. Getting through each step in the hopes that something bigger and better is at the end of this road; while simultaneously living with the mind numbing, paralyzing fear that there may be nothing at the end of this road.

It feels like the ocean's waves. Pulling me back and spewing me forward as I crash on the sand, only to be pulled back right before I can fully catch my breath again. I feel out of control, nauseous, scared...wondering if it will ever stop. But, I just keep churning and churning and churning.

I repeat words like "hope" and phrases like "maybe one day" as if they are my religion. Because, really, they are all I have. Our lives hang on "if". IF I get pregnant this cycle, MAYBE ONE DAY we'll finally need that second bedroom. For the past four years, we have selected cars based on whether the backseat can fit a car seat or not. If we purchase this "family friendly" car, maybe one day it will hold our dream come true.

I avoid the deep thoughts, because, if I go there, I fear it could be never-ending. The pain, the what if's, the constant churning. I start to get a headache, and then that familiar lump of anxiety forms in my throat. My chest feels tight, and I can't breathe.

And that's why I don't see the big picture anymore.


Life on Lupron Depot: Weeks Three through Six

10 May 2013

Here are more Lupron updates for anyone that may be following along on this lovely, cracked out adventure.

Previous Lupron Depot Cracked Out Adventure Posts
---

At the four week mark (end of shot #1), I had an appointment with my doctor to determine my Lupron progress, if any. I walked into the office with a whole speech in my head about why I was apprehensive of shot #2. Once my doctor got in the room, I spoke up about my concerns and told him about my sudden nosedive from a fairly normal, stable person to an anxious troll who needed to go hyperventilate in the corner on a regular basis.  He told me it was fairly normal to feel this way on Lupron. Huh? He said it so casually like, "Eh, mental breakdown? No biggie." This bothered me because he never mentioned major psychological changes or an increase in anxiety as side effects prior to starting the Lupron. I was told I would have some hot flashes and feel moody. But, I was experiencing a lot more than a few sweaty hormonal moments.

After discussing it further, we came to the conclusion that while Lupron can increase anxiety levels, I was feeling off the charts anxious most likely because I already had an existing anxiety problem. He told me I could go back on Paxil for awhile if it would help. Also, at my request, he gave me the name of a psychologist who specializes in infertility. After we talked, I felt a decent amount of relief that what I was experiencing wasn't too far outside the norm of what Lupron does to you.

Then came time for the ultrasound.

From the looks of it, the Lupron helped in terms of quieting the endo down. Thank goodness! So basically with shot #1, the endo got a little drowsy. However, my doctor wanted the endo to be in full-on napping mode. He could still see some endo activity, so he ordered shot #2.

I had about three seconds to make a decision. I could stay an anxious troll for the next four weeks and put the endo to sleep; or put an end to this Lupron madness, but risk an endo flare that could compromise IVF 2.0. I decided to bend over and take shot #2 like a good girl. (That last sentence just sounds wrong.)

Weeks Three and Four: I wrote this note on my phone, "Week 3, Day 4 - throbbing headache, bad sleep, sluggish, anxious" I think that short note sums up my third week on Lupron. My last Lupron update also speaks to exactly how I felt during this time. I was paralyzed for two weeks. My anxiety made me so exhausted, but my brain wouldn't stop spinning. Between the insomnia and the night sweats, I wasn't getting much sleep. I could barely manage my routine schedule of work, home, eat, sleep, repeat. I lost my appetite (likely due to anxiety) and lost about five to eight pounds. Everything I read said I would gain weight. I am not saying this in a bragging way. I didn't look nor feel healthy. To sum it up, weeks three and four were bad. Very bad.

Weeks Five and Six: Week five was the week following shot #2. Strangely, I felt better during week five. My anxiety went away! Such a relief. My hot flashes and night sweats remained about the same, but as long as my anxiety was under control, I was fine. I also got my appetite back. L and I even went out of town. That was huge given that I had spent the last two weekends basically in bed due to exhaustion and mind altering anxiety. Week six ushered in anxiety (again). Shit. I guess my time to feel normal was short lived. The hot flashes and night sweats increased ten fold. I have been waking up at least a few times a night burning up. I have to lay on the floor with my pillow in front of an open bedroom window to get some relief. Week six is on its way out, and I continue to feel exhausted, anxious, and a little crampy.

Medication: I am taking a low dose of klonopin when I need it. This was approved by my doctor.

Additional Notes: I imagine my uterus and ovaries in this epic battle with the Lupron. My body just wants to be active and grow endo all over the place, but the mighty Lupron is swooping in and shutting it all down. Running these images over and over in my head is not only mildly entertaining, but also helps me feel a little better when I want to just break down. I am also grateful that I will not be on Lupron during the summer months. It is already getting pretty warm here in L.A., and I honestly do not think I could handle 90 to 100 degree summer heat with hot flashes.

I have two more weeks with the Lupron Depot treatment, and then we will talk more about IVF 2.0.


32.

8 May 2013

So I got lost in the abyss of a Lupron-induced hallucination, and when I regained consciousness, I realized I was due for another birthday. Damn.

On Monday, I {quietly...shhhh} turned 32.


This video basically explains 32. 

For some unknown reason, I was really excited to turn 31. I wasn't a fan of 30, but 31...oh yeah...I was all about 31. I have no idea what my thirty second year has in store for me. I am kinda terrified while simultaneously feeling very excited.

It gets on my nerves when people try to tell others how to age. Whether we age gracefully or we act like blubbering babies at the arrival of yet another birthday, isn't it our right to act however the hell we want? As long as we aren't hurting anyone, who cares? I have found that I often have a wide range of emotions around my birthday. Sometimes I am happy, sometimes sad, sometimes grateful, sometimes depressed. I try not to get too down on myself when I feel anything less than elated about getting older.

We all know society is obsessed with youth and being young. Everything is so youth-driven. So, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that some of us are confused and scared at the thought of getting older and fading from society's focus. For me, it isn't so much about becoming obsolete, but the simple fact that if I am getting older, everyone else around me is getting older, too. It is difficult to think about my parents and my grandparents aging. I was just telling my mom the other day that, in my mind, my grandparents are in their 60's, and she and my dad are in their 40's. I think of my little brothers as just kids. I know we are all getting older (I'm not delusional) but I kinda wish I could freeze time and keep all my loved ones healthy, vibrant, and happy. An impossible task.

There is so much beauty that comes with aging. I know that much. I am grateful for every single year even if some are harder to appreciate than others. Life is absolutely what we make of it.

In other news, I got a packet in the mail about my ten year college reunion. As much as I loved my college years, I am not ready for that. I may never be ready for that.

This is 32, friends.



 {Photos taken on a recent trip in honor of said birthday.}

Tough.

26 April 2013

It has been a long, difficult week.

Personal updates...The Lupron Depot has kicked in full strength. It was semi-amusing to spend two full weeks wondering what a hot flash was. Well, now I know. But, the most debilitating part of this journey thus far has been the anxiety. My anxiety is worse than it has been in over a year. It is tough for me to get through most days without feeling like I am on the verge of falling apart. I am trying to avoid anxiety medication right now, so I am turning to natural remedies as much as possible. Meditation seems to be helping a bit. I am eating as well as I can, trying to drink more water, and exercising whenever possible. I keep reminding myself that this will not last forever. I am relying on faith to get me through the rough times. I have an appointment on Monday to find out if the Lupron is working at all. I am finding it tough to believe that the anxiety I am experiencing is normal. We'll see what the doctor says. If anyone can spare any positive thoughts, I would so welcome them right now.

Boston Montage via Wikipedia
In other news, I wanted to acknowledge the events that occurred in Boston. I know it has been awhile, but I haven't blogged since it all happened. My connection to Boston, while it probably seems trivial to some, is important to me. I went to undergrad in Western Massachusetts, and my friends and I were in Boston every chance we got. I love Boston. I miss it. I see it in my dreams. L and I have even talked about moving there (a far off dream). I am keeping the people of Boston and the victims of this senseless, disgusting attack close to my heart. The stories of bravery, strength, and compassion that have come to light remind me of why I will always love this city that took really good care of a young, aimless LA girl who was thousands of miles away from home. I am forever grateful for that.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy weekend. Be good to yourselves.



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