Until Next Time…

I’ve been crafting this blog post for a couple weeks, going back and forth between “I just don’t want to write this post” to “Ok, I’ve got to write this post.” A part of me wanted to put off dredging up my emotions.  But considering I haven’t cried yet, there’s also a part of me that wanted to get this post published so I could find some closure…and maybe finally cry. I’ve somehow developed the ability to hold back tears until I have enough time for a long bath and a bottle of wine.  I have one of those things handy tonight (the wine), so with this post and my lowered inhibitions, maybe I’ll let it all out later.  So here goes….

While my body was being forced into an induced state of menopause to give my endometrium a break, Brennen and I took a trip to see New York City at Christmas.  Since we got married, this trip had been on our to-do list, but with infertility taking over 3 years of our marriage, we found it difficult to schedule.  This December was the perfect time! No doctor’s appointments. No medicine to transport.  Just Brennen, me, and my hot flashes. Plus, we needed the trip to help us find the Christmas spirit that was so much harder to come by this year.

And to top it off, just two days after we got home, Mississippi had a huge snow storm that our puppy Nelson absolutely adored!

Cavapoo in the snow

Fast forward to 2018 and my baseline appointment on January 3rd that showed my ovaries and endometrium in a Lupron coma.  Shots for Transfer #4 began January 5th! Before we knew it, 2 weeks had passed, and there I was in stirrups staring at my lining on a 44-inch TV screen. The first measurement came in at 7.8! WHAT?! Sure, it wasn’t quite the 8 we needed for transfer, but it was 2.8mm thicker than the last time we had a go at this. Even if we didn’t transfer, just knowing my lining was getting back to its old self was a win.

To our surprise, Nurse Memphis called that afternoon with a tentative transfer date.  My lining had the three layers it needed and would continue to thicken until transfer, so the following Friday I took my 170th shot – Progesterone in the rear.

Transfer #4 went so smoothly. My lining had thickened to 8.2, and we transferred a 5BA embryo. After the thaw that morning, the embryo had continued to developed, started hatching, and improved from a grade 4 to a grade 5.  This little embryo was on the move! When I told my friend the news she said, “So basically a Breanne embryo.” Ha!  I then proceeded to tell her about the other embryo that had been frozen with it and how it was pretty sluggish after the thaw.  It wasn’t dead, but didn’t really show signs of activity either.  So basically a Brennen embryo.

Luckily, that embryo survived and was refrozen.

We were optimistic. Dr. Memphis was too.  “Finally!” I thought, “This is our year.”

FET #4

Despite my positivity, as I was lying with my knees in the air for 30 minutes post transfer, I turned to Brennen and said, “I dread next Thursday.” It was our test date.

I couldn’t wait until Thursday though. Five days after the transfer, I peed on a stick.  I know, I know. It was too early.  I did it in secret and hid the test on a shelf in my closet.  There was a faint positive!  How I went to sleep that night without telling Brennen, I’ll never know. The next morning, I tried to sneak to the bathroom for another test with that concentrated morning urine you hear about, but I was busted.  Brennen rolled his eyes when he saw me emerge from the bathroom and said, “You’re testing aren’t you?”  I ended up taking about 3 tests that morning, all faint positives.  Brennen did a cute little fist pump. We were so excited to be seeing these results this early.

But just to be safe and to make sure we weren’t seeing things, Brennen came up with the bright idea to pee on a stick as a control.  Our own little bathroom science experiment. I never thought I would see my husband holding his own pregnancy test that he had just whizzed on.  Brennen’s test was negative (whew!), and when compared to the tests I had taken that morning, mine all had pink lines!

Sunday afternoon, faint positive.

Monday, faint positive.

Tuesday, faint positive.

Wednesday, faint positive.

Sound familiar?

It should have been getting darker, but if anything, it was lighter by Wednesday night.  “Not again,” we both thought.  Here we were at that space between – am I pregnant or am I not?

Thursday was my hCG test….5.  Transfer #4 didn’t work.

Then came the call from the clinic.  I stopped all medications that evening and waited on my WTF call with Dr. Memphis.

The next day, the clinic’s number popped up on my phone.  I took a deep breath and answered. Dr. Memphis began by going over our statistics with me – 10 eggs retrieved in Jackson, 10 fertilized, unsuccessful day 5 fresh embryo transfer, 9 embryos arrested, 41 eggs retrieved in Memphis, 26 fertilized, 1 miscarriage, 1 unsuccessful transfer, 1 biochiemical pregnancy. To quote Dr. Memphis, “This is not good.” No kidding, right?

We still haven’t found the problem as to why I can’t get pregnant (or stay pregnant, rather), so it’s hard to find a solution when you don’t know what you’re setting out to solve.  Can we make viable embryos? Can I carry a child? We still don’t know which one it is or if it’s both.

God, I hope it’s not both.

But while we still don’t know what the problem is, the next few steps that we’ve decided to take will bring us closer to answers.  By “answers” I don’t mean finding out what’s wrong and then fixing it.  I mean finding out if my body is even capable of this. Sure, I like having a plan and am ready to move forward, but at the same time I know that moving forward means I may be getting closer to hearing something I don’t want to hear, something that could change the trajectory of this infertility journey of ours. That’s a big pill to swallow.  And maybe that’s why I haven’t cried yet…I’ve been too overwhelmed to.

The closest I came to crying was the Sunday after we found out the transfer was unsuccessful.  As Brennen kissed me goodnight, I gave him permission to walk away from us if I couldn’t give him the family he wanted.  As a woman, I feel like my body is broken.  As a wife, I feel like I’ve failed my husband. He lovingly scolded me for even having those thoughts and assured me I was more than enough for him.  And as I rolled over to go to sleep (not that I slept well that night), I told him he may need to tell me that every single day.

So here we are now, trying to get back on an upswing after the most upsetting news of our lives thus far.  Without going into too much detail about what’s ahead, let’s just say we’re about to go even deeper into the world of assisted reproductive technology. So, with things getting as real as they are, we’ve decided to shut down the blog for the time being.  We have enjoyed this blog so much over the past year and a half.  It was our therapy as we coped with the trials of infertility. I loved being able to share our journey to raise awareness and to connect with so many wonderful women who share in this struggle. It was exactly what we needed when we needed it.  But now, three failed transfers later, we’re in a much different place. A place where we’re tired of writing about our failures and road blocks over and over again. A place where we have more to process than we ever have before.  A place where we still need people’s prayers but, if I could be so frank, not their opinions. A place where we’re realizing that we may soon have a lot of important, difficult decisions to make. For those reasons, we’re deciding to step out of the spotlight so to speak, and process what’s happening in a more private manner.

I’m still open to sharing parts of our story with anyone who needs to hear it, so if you’ve stumbled across this blog or have been following it for months and now find yourself in our shoes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  And to our amazing, supportive friends and family, you can still ask us how we’re doing and check up on us.  We don’t want to shut down the conversation; we just don’t want to publish it.

And since writing has been the best coping mechanism for me, I’m still going to journal the old-fashioned way with pen and paper.  That way I can still document all that is yet to come. It’s cheaper than my current coping mechanism which has been retail therapy.  And who knows – maybe one day my son or daughter will get to read about the journey that led us to him or her.

Thank you for reading our story.  Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for the encouragement.  And now, thank you for letting us have this moment of closure.

Until next time,

Breanne

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When the Going Gets Tough

Today I took my first Lupron Depot injection.  A few months ago when we were trying to prevent me from ovulating, I took small doses of Lupron every day subcutaneously.  Today’s shot was the big sister – a 30-day supply of Lupron in one hip shot.  The idea behind this new protocol is to cut off my body’s estrogen supply since estrogen feeds the endometrium.  We’re hoping that by giving the endometrium both inside and outside (that’s the endometriosis) of my uterus a break, then it will respond much better when we gear up for another transfer in 2018.  Lupron’s job is to tell my pituitary gland to stop releasing luetinizing hormone (LH), which triggers ovulation and the release of estrogen.  So what does no estrogen mean? You guessed it! An induced menopausal state for the next 2 months. Thank God a cold front is moving through.

IMG-3516

I have to admit that at first I was hesitant to start the Lupron protocol right away.  After our last failed transfer then the biopsy, I wanted a break from everything.  Our doctor gave me the option of taking as much time off as I needed, but we decided to move forward with this new protocol beginning in November since it only meant 2 shots for the rest of the year.  Still, a part of me was worried that I had let my impatience get in my way and had committed to this plan prematurely.  Sure it didn’t mean I had to take daily injections or pills, but I was still doing something infertility related.  “Does this really constitute a break?” I thought.

Then this weekend I realized…there is no such thing as a break.  Infertility, it’s just what we do! Seriously though, why did I even think that after 3 years of trying to get pregnant, I could just put that desire to be a mom on the back burner for 2 months?   Physically, yeah, we’re taking a break, but emotionally…I’m not sure we’ll ever get one.  In fact, despite the odds being stacked against us for so long, I still had a little bit of hope this past month that maybe we would be one of those stories people told about their friends who tried for years to get pregnant and did “IVF and everything” and then it just happened unexpectedly.   But Aunt Flo’s arrival this weekend shot that to hell. So no, there is no break, because every month is a reminder of what we are…childless.  And honestly, the closest I can get to a “break” right now is to shut down my ovaries for two months.  So with all that weighing heavily on my mind, I had a meltdown Monday night.

I was tired from traveling 5 hours for work that day.  Other than that, the evening was off to a good start.  Brennen harvested his first broccoli plant, so we were having fun documenting his suburban gardening milestone.  Then, we came inside to watch DWTS (Brennen, don’t kill me).  I was reaching across the coffee table to get my computer when the weight of my right arm knocked one of the loose boards out of place and I fell through the middle of it.  It’s ok to laugh! I did too, at first.  Then I realized my arm hurt pretty bad and that Brennen was still laughing.  I was embarrassed. I can’t remember the last time I felt like that in front of him.  With tears in my eyes like a 5 year old I said, “Stop laughing at me.”  And like always, once I started crying, it was hard to stop.  Forget the embarrassing fall. I wasn’t crying about that anymore. My tears turned into those of anger. I’m tired of constantly failing.  What gives? Why us? How much longer? And with every question, I cried harder.

Afterwards, I sat on the couch and stared at the TV with that all-too-familiar heaviness.  Today, I’m better. Still down, but better. Sadness hits me suddenly like that. And like I’ve said so many times before, when it does, I recognize it but then say goodbye to it.  Unfortunately, lately it’s getting harder to say goodbye. But I’m trying…little by little.  Things are tough right now on the infertile front, especially with the holidays approaching, but we’ll make it through. If being upset at Aunt Flo’s arrival means anything, it’s that we still have hope. And today marks the first day of a new plan and a new hope.

Hey, you know what they say! When the going gets tough, the tough get menopausal!

Hanging on a “However”

Last week I had an endometrial biopsy and, y’all, that hurt. I didn’t read up on them beforehand.  I knew I wasn’t being put under or given any pain medicine for the procedure so I didn’t expect it to be much of anything.  Then, surprise!

Based on my recent experience, an endometrial biopsy involves inserting a skinny stick-like instrument through the cervix into the uterus and jabbing around a few times to collect pieces of the endometrium (aka lining). Man, when the uterus realizes some foreign object is just hacking away in there, she retaliates. I had sharp pains that made me almost jump off the table.  I kept looking at Brennen and asking with my eyes, “Is it over yet?”  He shook his head no, and the doctor asked me if I was up for it one more time.  Then again.  Finally, it was over…or so I thought.

IMG-3428I sat up, and we began talking about what this test would tell us and then how we would proceed from there.  I didn’t catch much of Doc’s plan because, after a couple minutes, the only thing I could hear was a voice in my head saying, “Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up.” I got light headed, hot, sweaty, and finally interrupted the conversation with, “I need a trash can.”  The next thirty minutes were a bit blurry, but I know they consisted of vomiting, extreme cramping that radiated through my legs and back, and trips back and forth from my room to the bathroom, barefoot with my pants unzipped.  I hurt so bad that I didn’t even care.

Brennen went to the car to get some leggings for me to change into.  The skinny jeans I wore to the clinic that morning were not going to work for the trip home!  After he helped me change, I laid there on the bed squeezing his hand. Every 5 seconds he would ask, “Are you ok?” and then follow up with, “I’m going to ask you every 5 seconds.” He wasn’t kidding.  (Note from Brennen: I thought she was going to pass out.)

Finally, my uterus calmed down, and we could leave.  Doc gave me something for nausea since we had a 3-hour drive home, and I spent the rest of the evening lounging in bed and binge watching Gossip Girl (again).

One week and one season of Gossip Girl later, the results were in! My doctor called me at 8:30 am Wednesday morning, and of course, I missed it. In fact, I didn’t even notice the missed call until an hour or so later. I was so mad! Then, I saw where he had left a 3-minute voicemail.  My hands were shaking as I hit play. I listened and jotted down notes.  I was excited and relieved to hear that the Beta 3 integrin was present in my endometrium which means my lining is receptive to an embryo. This is a big win for us! He then went on to say my lining was “out of phase” and tested positive for BCL6.  I figured that wasn’t good. The 3-minute mark quickly approached, and the last thing I heard was, “You’re lining is receptive to an embryo, however…” And it cut off.  That was it. I was left hanging on a “however.”

I immediately called the clinic back and left a voicemail.  That “however” stayed with me all day long.  What does this mean for us? Is there a treatment? What’s next? Is this the end? Should I make sure my sister is still on board to be a surrogate? Has it come to that?  My production at work was spotty to say the least.  I couldn’t get “out of phase” and “BCL6” off my mind.  I did a little Googling but stopped myself.  With what little information I had, Googling was only going to make things worse.  Finally, Nurse Memphis called me back that afternoon with a protocol.  Sweet relief! And today, I talked to my doctor.  It’s difficult for me to put into words what the results mean, what we know now, and what we’ll do next because my brain is still processing all the information…and it’s a lot.

So in a very large nutshell…

The good news – My lining seems to be receptive to an embryo.

The not so good news – My lining was “out of phase” meaning it wasn’t where it should be in my cycle.  My biopsy was on day 21, but my lining was already beginning to break down for a period. Day 21 is right around the time an embryo is implanting, while my lining is breaking down, that’s not a good at all.

More not so good news that we sort of already knew – I tested positive for BCL6, which is a marker for endometriosis. Duh, I have endometriosis. But this test showed us that my endometrium is inflamed, and the likely culprit is, of course, the endo.

The plan to tame my uncooperative endometrium is to suppress my system with Lupron instead of birth control.  Birth control is estrogen, and estrogen feeds the endometriosis. Lupron, on the other hand, cuts off the body’s estrogen supply and puts me in an induced menopausal state. Now I’ve been on Lupron before, but it was a small dose in a subcutaneous injection. This Lupron shot will be a 30-day dose administered intramuscularly.  The first shot will be in November. The second in December. And as planned, we’ll start preparing for a frozen embryo transfer in January. This works out because it gives us the rest of the year to chill. Well, I hope I can chill considering the hot flashes that are coming my way!

So…there’s that. We have some answers thanks to this biopsy and can find some ironic comfort in knowing what we know now, even if it’s not all good news.  At least we have a plan though. Silver linings, right?  Still, I can’t help but think that we have an answer to a question that wasn’t really a question until recently.  That question – why won’t my lining thicken? Then again, maybe endometriosis has been our problem all along, and it’s starting to show its teeth even more so now with these lining problems.  Who knows! I try to stay positive and feel like we’re moving forward (more on that later), but overall, my mind just feels like…I don’t know…a bunch of scribbly lines.  I’m still processing and trying to straighten things out.  I just hope that this new protocol works because, even though I now know what the rest of that voicemail was going to say, I still feel like I’m hanging on that “however.”  That’s what this process has been for us all along.

Your cycles are normal.
You are young.
You are healthy.
Your husband doesn’t have male infertility factors.
Your hormone levels look good.
Your tubes aren’t blocked.
Your prolactin is under control now.
You respond well to ovarian stimulation.
You had an excellent retrieval.
You have multiple embryos frozen.
You did have implantation of an embryo.
You are capable of a thick lining.

However….you still aren’t a mom.

Hopefully, we can let go of that “however” in 2018.

endometriosis

Well $h!+

Let me start out by saying that the 2-week wait to see if my lining was thick enough for transfer was worse than the 10-day wait for a pregnancy test.  In fact, it’s second only to the wait for the call that tells us how many embryos made it to blastocyst stage for freezing.  I wouldn’t have said that a year ago when my uterine lining wasn’t an issue.  Through 3 IUI’s and 2 transfers, I had always measured around 9mm.  But recently, my reproductive system has had a new hurdle to get through – my lining.

After my baseline appointment on September 20th, I made a list of everything I could possibly do to thicken my lining and planned it out over the next 14 days.  Aside from the Estrace pills my doctor had prescribed, I was going to take a natural approach as well.  Every day I drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice and red raspberry leaf tea.  On top of my pre-natal vitamin, I added DHA, which gave me an extra boost of Vitamin E for blood flow.  I threw in some L-Argenine in the last week before the scan.  I made a point to get up and move and stretch at work since my job is pretty sedentary.  I gave myself fertility massages almost every night and used an essential oil mixture as my massage oil.  I also meditated before bed using a program specifically designed for frozen embryo transfer preparations.  It would say things like, “Picture your uterus as having open arms, stretched out to welcome new life” or something like that.  I rolled my eyes about it at first, but it absolutely helped me relax.  Brennen even meditated with me but was sure to watch enough football to prevent growing a uterus.  The night before the checkup, he said, “Well if it’s not thick enough, it sure isn’t from a lack of trying.” After two weeks of all things uterine, I gave him an “Amen.”

Fast forward to Thursday morning as I nervously braced myself for the ultrasound.  My uterus popped up on the TV screen, and the nurse practitioner said those dreaded words, “It’s not quite thick enough.”  She then proceeded to click around for a measurement….5.33.  WTF?! That’s the thinnest it has ever been.  In frustration I said, “What the heck? It was thicker than that when I was on birth control.” And it was! At my baseline ultrasound 2 weeks ago (before Aunt Flo) it was measuring over 6.

We use a local fertility clinic for outside monitoring, so we usually don’t ask questions during our visits.  They just measure and send info to our clinic.  But in desperation, Brennen let out a huge sigh and asked, “I mean, what in the world is going on?”  The nurse practioner, unfamiliar with our case, didn’t really have any specific answers for us but said they see this sometimes – an uncooperative uterus – and that my body may need another way to take in estrogen.  Obviously this little blue Estrace pill is not doing the trick. She printed a picture of my uterus for me. (Note to self: buy darts).

thinlining

So what does this mean?  Transfer cancelled.  We knew going into that appointment that it would be cancelled with any measurement less than 8. We had accepted that.  And I think that if it would have been 7 or 7.5, we would have told ourselves, “Good try. We’re getting there.”  But man, at 5.33, you can’t find anything to be positive about.  Brennen held it together as we left the clinic; he was on the verge of tears.  Me, you couldn’t see disappointment on my face, but my body felt weak and sluggish, as if I could feel the sadness all the way to my bones.  I took the rest of the day off work.

Nurse Memphis called that afternoon to talk to me about the next steps.  Next week, Brennen and I will head to Memphis so I can have a biopsy done on my endometrium.  All I get is a Valium, so that should be fun, right? While we’re there, we’ll make a game plan for 2018, but as for 2017, we’re done.  Last year, I found out I was pregnant on Thanksgiving Day and miscarried on Christmas.  We’ve done the infertility-over-the-holidays thing and don’t want to do it again.  This holiday season, we’ll regroup and give IVF a backseat.  For three years, we’ve tried to get pregnant, and for three months, I just don’t want to try.  We’re not giving up, we’re just coming up for air.

Prayers for our trip to Memphis!

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

It took two weeks, but I finally cried. I knew I would eventually break. I just didn’t know it would be a banana that broke me.

Brennen and I had been house sitting for his parents while they were vacationing over the past couple weeks.  On our third or so night of the stay, I was struggling to adjust to living out of a suitcase. Even though I was only 20 minutes from my house and in one I knew well, it still wasn’t mine. And it wasn’t my bed, so I was having trouble sleeping.  Wednesday night, after trying to fall asleep for almost two hours, it was midnight, and I was hungry. This happens to me a lot late at night because I eat an early dinner (Brennen would like to add, “like an old person”).  I got up and headed for the kitchen with a craving for fruit, especially a banana.  No fruit anywhere and no snack to suit my midnight craving.  This wasn’t my house. It wasn’t my bed. There were no bananas.  So right there in the middle of the pantry, I lost it – ugly crying all over the place.  I texted Brennen, “Crying.”   In no time, he opened the pantry and found me sobbing and complaining about how there were no bananas and nothing was going right for me.

You see, earlier that day I went to my Ob’s clinic for some blood work.  Now, I hardly ever feel alone in this process thanks to our network of support and the many amazing women I’ve met who share in this struggle, BUT if there is one place I do feel alone, it’s in the freaking waiting room of the Ob’s office surrounded by pregnancy and motherhood.  When I’m there, I’m different.  Limited. Cursed.  And with those feelings bubbling beneath the surface, the banana…or lack thereof, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  And although the cry stirred up my emotions of failure, impatience, self-pity, and heartache, it felt good to finally have that release. So I welcomed the sadness, and cried until I was too tired to cry anymore.

One week later, and on a much happier note, preparations for Transfer #4 are underway. Since my last post, I talked to my doctor about the protocol this time around.  When I told him I was a difficult case, he said, “It’s not you. It’s your uterus.” Ha! For my last transfer, my lining was less than desirable, measuring at 7mm.  This whole thin-uterine-lining thing is a new issue for me.  But because it was healthy and triple-layered, we decided to move forward with the transfer.  After all, women get pregnant with 7mm linings all the time.  Well, not me, so we’re not going to take that chance again.  Transfer #4 will not happen until I have a uterine lining measuring at least 8mm.

So from now until October 5th, my main job is to do what I can to thicken that uterine lining – Estrace, pomegranate juice, red raspberry leaf tea, self-fertility massages, exercise, acupuncture, meditation, iron-rich foods, etc.  Brennen’s job…well, he’s just gotta keep the bananas stocked. Fingers crossed for October 5th!

Blank Space

It was 8 days after the transfer, and I still hadn’t tested. I was pretty proud of myself. I hadn’t even been tempted by the three pregnancy tests my mom left sitting on the dresser before she left my house. During the waiting period, I had been busy with sorority recruitment (I’m an advisor for a local chapter) and catching up at work. Surprisingly, I had been able to keep my mind pretty well occupied with things other than the test. Plus, I didn’t mind putting it off. As much excitement and hope as I had about seeing a positive, the fear of seeing a negative was far greater. So honestly, I didn’t feel the need to rush it. I was focused. I was determined. I was not going to test early.

Then came the rainy drive home Wednesday evening. Suddenly, the unknown bothered me more than that fear of a negative. It was Day 9, and I couldn’t hold out anymore. I needed to test. I called Brennen who said, “And you promise you haven’t already tested?” He was hoping I had secretly tested and already knew like last time. He hates waiting on pink lines. I walked through the front door and headed straight to the bathroom. I did my thing then put the test on the counter, walked out, and closed the door behind me. Brennen started the timer…5 minutes to go.

Over the past few days leading up to the test, people often asked me how I felt. Boy was that a loaded question! Physically, I was cramping off and on and tiring easily. My hips were starting to get pretty sore from the daily IM injections. Mentally, I could feel myself becoming drained as I purposefully kept my mind busy with life outside of IVF. Emotionally, I was positive about this transfer. I told myself from the beginning, “Positive Vibes Only,” and I had stuck with it. And if I had to guess whether or not I was pregnant…let’s just say I was more optimistic than I had ever been. But on that ride home Wednesday something changed….and I knew I wasn’t.

Brennen’s timer went off, and we both took deep breaths as we opened the bathroom door. There it was on the bathroom counter – a pregnancy test with one dark pink line. Beside that line…nothing, a blank space. It’s funny how in that moment, something so small can fill an entire room. It was all I could see – that blank space. Negative.

Brennen braced himself on the bathroom counter and hung his head. I didn’t know what to say to him, but I thought to myself, “Is this ever going to work?” The next few seconds were a blur until Brennen raised up and hugged me. I could feel his heart pounding against my chest. His face was warm, and I could tell he was on the verge of tears. After that, there’s just more blurriness as we processed another negative.

I called my mom. She said a bad word. Brennen texted his parents. Then, we sat in the living room and got mad. I mean, it’s really not fair. It’s just not. And it sucks so bad. There are too many pieces of shit in the world with children. People who don’t want children have them. Why can’t we? Why is this so hard for us? What did we do wrong? It’s not fair. Period. And I know bad things happen to good people all the time. I know we still have so much to be thankful for. I know our situation could be so much worse than what it is. I know children aren’t rewards. But knowing all that doesn’t matter in those first moments after staring at what seems like the 100th negative pregnancy test in 3 years. Because in those moments, all you can think about is how this may never happen. You may never be parents. You may never have a child. That becomes your reality. And that’s what makes you so mad you could scream.

Deep breaths…

We have since chilled out a little. Still, we’re more mad than we are sad. In fact, I’ve yet to cry. In this journey, if I cried about every bad thing that happened, well, I’d be crying a lot. Instead, I’ve given myself somewhat of an emotional threshold. Things build up, and at some point, I break. Until I do, I push forward. And that’s what we’re doing now – pushing forward. Our perseverance has surprised us!

So now we’re waiting on what I like to call our WTF appointment with Memphis to see if we can find an answer for why this transfer didn’t work or, if like I suspect, it’s unexplainable and simply just didn’t work. From there, we’ll put together a plan for moving forward to transfer #4. As I type that, I can’t believe we’re at #4. I mean, at some point the odds have to be in our favor, right?

Finally, for those of you who have been following this journey from the beginning or since we started blogging a year ago, you may be running out of things to say to us in difficult times. That’s ok! We don’t expect you to find the right sentiments and words of encouragement, and it’s ok to admit you don’t know what to say. But I will ask that you please refrain from any phrase that has the word “time” in it. I can’t really explain why, but something like “Give it time” or “It’s in God’s timing” sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me right now.  A simple “This sucks” will do. Even a “Hang in there” or a “We’ll keep praying” is good. You can even throw an angry face emoji our way and we’ll totally get it! Or you don’t have to say anything. Just keep praying. Pray that in this struggle, we find strength, peace, and understanding.

And because I can’t find a way to close out this post, I’ll leave it here with a “This sucks!”

Welcome Home Embryo #3

After several attempts at Transfer #3, we finally welcomed this little embryo into its new home!

Embryo Number 3.JPG

But first, let’s rewind to last week. In my last post – the one where I called my uterus a choice word – I vented about the disappointing 7mm lining I had after three weeks of Estrace. So, the folks in Memphis decided that I should come to the clinic for an ultrasound so they could get a good look at the lining. Even if it wasn’t thick enough (ideally, you want an 8 or higher), it may still have a those “pretty” triple layers they’re looking for.

I anxiously arrived at the clinic at 7:30 and settled myself into the now-all-too-familiar ultrasound exam table. And there it was! A beautiful, healthy triple layer lining! But then wouldn’t you know it – the dang thing didn’t thicken a bit. Not one bit! Still a 7.

I got dressed and headed back to the waiting room.  My mom had made the trip with me since Brennen was in Boston for work.  When I walked through the door, she immediately perked up and stared at me, waiting for any clue as to how the ultrasound went.  It may sound mean, but I found a bit of playful satisfaction in making her wait until we were in the hallway before I gave any indication of how it went.  “Didn’t grow at all,” I said. Then she added a much needed four letter word to the situation!

We hung around Memphis for a bit just in case we needed to go back to the clinic.  I had accepted that the transfer would be A) postponed once again or B) canceled altogether.  In fact, I had resolved that I wouldn’t stand for another postponement.  I was tired of being strung along, and I wanted a break.  I settled into the mindset of receiving bad news later that afternoon and tried to take my mind off the disappointment with some retail therapy. Memphis is good for that.

Then, at 1:30, as we’re finally heading home, my phone rings. It’s Nurse Memphis.  I braced myself for bad news, especially when she started talking about my trim lining.  Then the words,”But since it has that beautiful triple layer and looks healthy, we’d like to proceed with your transfer on August 22nd.” My mouth dropped and all I could say was “Awesome.” I passed the phone to my mom in the passenger seat and she scribbled down all the directions for medications – progesterone, Lupron, estrace, prednisone, doxycycline, and pre-natals. Shocked! That’s the best way to describe my mood at that point. Oh, and freaking relieved!

I called Brennen just before his plane took off.  Shocked and relieved pretty much sums up his reaction too.  I had never been so excited about starting IM hip injections in my whole life! Bring on the progesterone, baby!

Fast forward to yesterday, the day we left for Memphis.  We, along with several neighbors, woke up to find that our cars had been broken into.  What the heck, right? Luckily, I’m the idiot who left my car unlocked, so there were no broken windows. They passed over a camera flash in my console, tennis rackets in the trunk, and some Ray Ban sunglasses; the only thing missing was a checkbook.  We opened the bank up at 9am to close our account and all that jazz.

Then, after work, we met at home to load the car and hit the road.  We walk into an 82-degree house. Yep, the AC went out!  Stress level max! Luckily, we were able to get a tech to come out after hours to repair it, and my father-in-law was gracious enough to sit in our sauna of a house waiting on the technician so we could get on the road.

FINALLY we make it to Memphis, and the hotel upgrades us to a suite – a much needed stroke of good luck!  We binged on a little more Friday Night Lights and tried to get some sleep, anxiously awaiting the transfer the next morning.

We arrived at the clinic at 9am for my progesterone test – the results came back just where they needed to be. A win! As we were waiting to be called back for the transfer, I checked my phone. It was blowing up with well-wishes and words of encouragement, and I had to keep myself from breaking down right there in the surgery center.  I can never ever thank you all enough for those thoughts and prayers.  They are always felt, but they were especially felt today.

Then, it was “T” time!  I had been chugging water all morning because they want you to have a full bladder for the transfer.  Apparently, when the bladder is full, it’s easier to guide the catheter through the uterus, and sonongrams read through fluid.  We learn something new about this every day!  So there I am with a bursting bladder just moments before they retrieve us from the pre-op room, and what does Brennen do? He pees…with the door open…in the bathroom right behind my chair. (His mother will be horrified!)

IVF Husband

Just as I was wrapping up my “You asshole” eyeroll, Doctor Memphis came in with the picture we had been dying to see – our little embryo.  Much to our surprise, it had improved after the thaw from a 4AB to a 4AA.  We were over the moon!  He/she is a beauty!  The doctor left, and before the nurse could come back to retrieve us, I looked at Brennen and said, “I want this so bad, but I’m scared to want it this much.” “I know babe.”

The transfer went as smoothly as it could have gone, despite the full bladder.  I did cramp a little more than in the past when the catheter went in, but luckily I had Brennen’s hand to squeeze until it was numb! He says his injury is keeping him from doing this post-transfer blog.

After thirty minutes, I peed! Yippee! And we were on our way.  The rest of the afternoon was spent sleeping off my valium. Now, here I am, restless and waiting on Brennen to come back to the hotel with take-out! This prednisone keeps me hungry!

Over the next few days, I’ll be on modified bedrest.  We’ll head back home tomorrow, where my mother-in-law will have me some buttermilk chicken waiting.  Then, my mom is coming up to stay with me Thursday while Brennen goes back to work, and I can’t wait for some gluten-free chicken spaghetti from her!  With this embryo in tow, I am no doubt being spoiled!

After bedrest, I’ll return to work and my usual routine but continuing to take it easy.  My doctor told me no exercise or running.  He obviously doesn’t know me that well because I don’t do either of those things.  The 10-day wait will no doubt seem like a lifetime.  I keep telling myself I’m not going to test early. I told myself that last time too. And the time before.  I tested both times.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers over those 10 days.  Pray for peace, patience, and that this little embryo sticks like glue!

Embryo #3

6th Anniversary

Earlier in the week, Breanne asked me if I was going to write an anniversary post for the blog like I did last year. Without thinking, I blurted out “Is this gonna be an annual thing?”  I could feel her eyes burning a hole through me.  “Well I hope not…”  Of course we don’t want to still be blogging about infertility in a year! As Forrest Gump once said, “I’m not a smart man.”

not a smart man

As dumb as my comment was, it did get us talking about our 6 years of marriage.  We have been trying to conceive a child now for half of our marriage.  Half!  And we’ve been going through fertility treatments for a third of it.  Infertility is no longer something we just have to deal with or get through – it’s now a part of who we are, both individually and as a couple.  I never thought I would have given my wife over 100 shots during our first few years of marriage!  And she never thought her husband would know as much or more about the female reproductive system as she does.  Taken out of the context of infertility, that would be pretty damn creepy.

Looking back, this is not where we expected to be at our 6th anniversary and in our 30’s.  But in spite of all the pain and sadness that infertility has caused us, it’s made our marriage stronger.  After our first couple years of marriage, we thought the next step in the maturity of our relationship would be the connection we formed over being parents.  But in reality, it happened unexpectedly when we couldn’t become parents.  We’ve seen each other at our most vulnerable, we’ve talked each other out of giving up, and we’ve comforted each other after leaving yet another disappointing doctor’s appointment. We have learned to rely on each other to get through these difficult times.  And when the unexpected happens, as if often does these days, we’re each other’s constant.

So this weekend, to celebrate our anniversary, we decided to try and hit refresh and enjoy what we have in each other.  We deserved a day or two to set aside the dreams of what we want our family to be, to enjoy the family we already are – the one we became 6 years ago today.  At dinner last night, I brought up something about the transfer and Breezer burned another hole in me with that look. “Nope, we’re not talking about that,” she said.  So I shut up, because we’ve already established the fact that I say stupid things, and after dinner we came home and continued our weekend binge of Friday Night Lights.  It got us fired up for football season, but more importantly helped us clear our minds.  So as we approach this week with a doctor’s appointment to find out if we can transfer this month, I’ll just leave you with the wisdom of Coach Eric Taylor (who I’m pretty sure Bre has a crush on…because she told me), “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!”  And a little advice just for me for next year’s anniversary – “Stay away from dumb, gentlemen.”

Coach-Taylor-eric-taylor-30564566-400-267

My Uterus Can Be a Real B****

Well…today was my lining check. I had been so nervous about this date with “Wanda,” especially after last month’s cancellation.  As the ultrasound tech began doing her thing, I took a deep breath and stared at the monitor so hard, as if I could somehow make the image of a thick uterine lining magically appear with my mind.  Then, there it was.  I saw the three layers and said, “Hey Brennen, it’s a pretty a lining!” The tech laughed and joked that she could probably turn the tools over to us at this point. We’re vets. Then, she dragged the pointer across the screen to get the measurements.  “How thick is it?” I nervously asked.  “About 7.” UGH!

We left our appointment so freakin’ frustrated.  As I was driving back to work, I called Brennen (even though I had just seen him 2 minutes ago), and for the first time in this whole process I said, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.” I wanted to give up. At that moment, I felt like this would never work.  The anger continued to swell up inside me and came out in phrases like, “This isn’t going to happen,” and “Forget it! I’m done.”  In the past when we met a hurdle, we were able to push through it with positivity, but this afternoon I was like, screw positivity.  I didn’t want to be positive. I didn’t feel like pushing through.  I just wanted to throw my hands up.  What the heck, uterus? I had to quickly get off the phone with Brennen before I broke down in tears.  I honestly don’t remember if he ever even said anything on the other end of the line. He just let me have my moment of justified frustration.

bitchy uterus

The day dragged on.  My frustration eventually subsided…somewhat, and I was on pins and needles waiting to hear from Memphis.  I knew the lining measurement wasn’t where it needed to be, so I was ready to hear the word “postponed” and move on.  Memphis finally called at 3:09.  I didn’t want to hear the nurse say it so I went ahead and offered up a “So that lining wasn’t so great, huh?” She agreed. And guess what…transfer postponed.

I’ll continue to take Estrace three times a day for another week, along with Lupron, which should keep me from ovulating. SHOULD! Then, next Wednesday, I’ll be in Memphis for blood work and another lining check.  Unfortunately Brennen can’t make it to this appointment because he has a business trip to Boston.  But my mom has offered to go with me (thanks, Mom!), which means we’ll probably be making a stop at Ikea and the Pottery Barn Outlet before heading back to Mississippi.

So now we’re looking at a transfer on August 21st, a week from our original date.  But hey, a postponement is better than a cancellation, right? Okay, so maybe I’ve accepted some positivity since my morning rant…but that doesn’t mean I’m not still pissed at my uterus!

Third Time’s a Charm

Third time’s a charm, right? Well if there is any truth to that, we’re going into this transfer with a double dose of luck – our 3rd try at a 3rd transfer.

On July 6th, exactly one year from the day we found out our first transfer from Round 1 was unsuccessful, we got the call from Memphis with a tentative transfer date – August 14th, the day after our 6th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated our new schedule with a wine tasting at the local farmers’ market that night.  After sulking for the past few weeks, we felt the beginnings of an upswing.  No matter how many times we get knocked down and how far we fall, the hope that a transfer brings somehow erases that pain. At first, I thought it was the Pinot. But no, it was hope.

The protocol for this transfer is a little different thanks to my superpower ovaries.  Our second attempt at Transfer #3 was canceled last month when my ovaries defied the odds, and I ovulated despite my estrogen overload. To make sure that doesn’t happen again, my doctor put me on Lupron, a subcutaneous injection that shuts down my body’s release of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). Basically, like my late-night Google search revealed, Lupron puts you in an “induced state of menopause.” Lights out, ovaries!

I’m currently on day 13 of Lupron injections. At first, I couldn’t tell if I was getting menopausal hot flashes or was just plain hot from living in Mississippi in July. Well, that mystery was put to rest a couple nights ago when I woke up with heat radiating from the inside out.  My body felt like an oven! I reached over and poked Brennen, “It’s hot. I’m hot. Are you hot?” “Ugh, no,” he grumpily responded as he pulled the covers tightly under his chin. Hot flash confirmed!

Lupron has also given me a nagging headache for the past week. Other than that, I’m good! The irritability side effect hasn’t been that bad.  Brennen may say otherwise, even thought he’s only had to hide from me once.  I will say, he had it comin’ though.  After two martinis, he gave me my Lupron shot, and with his inhibitions lowered proclaimed, “You know, Breezer, you’ve taken like 115 shots, but I’ve GIVEN 115 shots. That’s crazy!” I’m just going to leave that right there and move on…

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My baseline appointment was this past Wednesday, and since everything looked good, I was able to decrease my Lupron dosage and start taking Estrace.  Hopefully that will take the edge off! And I’m sure it will help if Brennen doesn’t make any more stupid comments.  After two weeks of Estrace, I’ll go for another ultrasound on August 9th.  That’s the big one where they’ll check my lining! So far, we’re still on track for an August 14th transfer, and here’s to hoping it stays that way!