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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Sad and a Little Pissy

In my last post, I described the June 14th lining check as “something we had to get through.” I had no idea what a loaded statement that was…

During the ultrasound, the tech said my lining was measuring a little over 6 mm. I immediately turned to Brennen, my human Wikipedia on female reproduction. He gave me a “That’s ok” nod as the tech proceeded to measure my follicles. They needed to be small, and they were. A win! As I got dressed, Brennen was busy on his phone, looking up what my lining should be. I had never had a lining quite that thin. I usually measured around 9, so a thin lining wasn’t a potential problem on our radar that warranted any pre-requisite research. Before we walked out of the room, he said, “I think we’re OK. It’s still growing, and you haven’t even started progesterone.” So with that reassurance and my trend of problem-free uterine linings, I assumed we would get good news that afternoon. I sent a few thumbs-up selfie Snapchats to my friends and family and headed back to work.

Then around 4:00, I answered the phone, with pen and paper in hand for my transfer directions, and heard Nurse Memphis say, “So that lining isn’t really where we need it to be.” ARGH! “I had a feeling,” I admitted, although I had tried my best to ignore it all day. Doctor’s orders were to stay on the Estrace for one more week to see if the lining thickened and to come to Memphis for a lining check. The nurse told me, “Even if it’s still a little thin, it may be pretty enough to proceed.” So that was the plan – keep popping the estradiol pills in hope that I develop a fluffy, pretty lining. Transfer postponed.

For a week, I did just as Dr. Memphis directed. I also took some advice from my acupuncturist and started drinking Raspberry Leaf tea and eating iron-rich foods that would either thicken my lining or clog my arteries. Then Tuesday night, we made the trip to Memphis.

We were only at the clinic for about 20 minutes – just long enough for me to get my blood drawn for estradiol and progesterone checks and for a date with “Wanda.” I don’t think I have ever been so nervous about an ultrasound. We’re getting pretty good at knowing what the uterus looks like on the screen, so when it popped up, we both perked up and said, “There it is!” It was beautiful, according to the ultrasound tech. Three pretty layers and measuring at 8.75 mm – right where it needed to be. We drove back home on a high note.

Later that afternoon, my phone lit up with a call from Memphis. “You’re lining looked really good,” the nurse said. “Duh!” I proudly thought. Then came the but. My progesterone was high which indicated that I had ovulated. Transfer cancelled.

We all know someone who got pregnant while on birth control, right? Birth control loads your body up with estrogen early in your cycle, which is supposed to shut your ovaries down and keep you from ovulating. But even with all that estrogen in your system, in rare cases, an egg will spring forward from a follicle and send you into ovulation. Thus the story of a “birth control baby.” Estrace has the same task before a transfer. It’s estrogen, and it shuts my ovaries down. But there are those rare cases, and this month, I was one of them. I mean, seriously?! My ovaries have super powers that defy the odds and release an egg amidst an ass-ton of estrogen. But unfortunately the buck stops there. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this infertile situation in the first place.

So anyway, it’s back to the starting line for us. I’ll start my cycle in a week or two then proceed with birth control…again. Then comes the Estrace…again. This time around, Doc is putting me on Lupron injections that will (hopefully) keep me from ovulating.  But first, we wait.

Before I get into what this means for us emotionally, let me say that this is not an invitation to a pity party.  I promised myself that I would never write a blog post about what not to say to an infertile couple because 1) there are a gazillion articles about this subject out there already and 2) we’re never going to open up the conversation about infertility if we keep shutting it down with rules. But I will say this – sometimes the best thing someone can say is, “This sucks.” Just a recognition of how shitty the situation is goes a long way! My best friend is my best friend because when I share bad news, she sends me memes of cats saying curse words! And encourage us with reminders of how strong we are. Yes, that may sound a little self-absorbed, but if people are going to feel sorry for us, let encouragement grow from that pity, not sad puppy dog eyes and an empty sentiment about how everything happens for a reason.

Sorry if I sound pissy. But heck, I am pissy. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m beaten down. We both are. Yesterday was the closest I’ve felt to giving up. I know we won’t give up, but that hope we had after a successful retrieval and a positive test (even though it resulted in a miscarriage) fades a little more with each cancelled transfer. We’ll get better, though. We’ll cope and push through. We just have to let this sadness run its course. One of the most inspirational quotes I’ve found during my IVF Pinterest-ing didn’t tell me about trusting God’s timing, having hope, finding strength, or believing in miracles. It simply told me it’s ok to be sad.Own the Sadness

So that’s what I’m going to do right now…be sad and own the hell out of it.

(And yeah, I’ll probably be a little pissy too.)

It’s Been a While

It’s been a while…

My last post was about two months ago, right after we found out our embryo transfer was canceled due to my elevated prolactin level. So what did we do? Well, I turned 30, and we went to the beach! We needed that getaway. It was like hitting the reset button for us. My mom was worried that I was running away from emotions. “Breanne, don’t think it won’t still be here when you get back,” she warned. “It” I guess was infertility, disappointment, an impending breakdown, something. And on the way to the beach after we hit a deer on the interstate and drove over a nail (2 different instances), I have to admit that I was thinking, “Ugh she was right! This trip isn’t going to help anything,” because let’s face it, moms are right 99.9% of the time. But this time, she was wrong (sorry, Mama). That trip was just what we needed!

We got back home on Mother’s Day, which was surprisingly easier than last year. Scratch that – it was less hard. Last year on Mother’s Day I ended up deleting the Facebook app from my phone and bummed around my parents’ house all day. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to church and sit in the congregation as all the mothers stood up proudly so their kids could present them with Mother’s Day happies they made in Sunday School. We had just started coming to terms with our infertility and were on the brink of the first round of IVF. That day was pretty dark. And you’d think that a year later, still with no baby, would have been harder, but like I said, it was surprisingly “less hard.” This year, we had more hope. We had a great retrieval. I was pregnant for a few short weeks this past winter. We have good looking embryos in the freezer. And we had a suntan. There was a lot to be thankful for, and if there is one thing this process has brought me, it’s a change in perspective.

The week after Mother’s Day, Aunt Flo arrived, which triggered another prolactin test. Since the canceled transfer, I had been taking Cabergoline twice a week so that my pituitary gland would chill out and stop secreting an unnecessary-at-the-moment breast milk hormone. We let out a HUGE sigh of relief when the results came back at 4, 8, gosh I can’t even remember exactly what it was….but it was low enough that we got the go-ahead for Transfer #3 (again)!

More good news came our way when Nurse Memphis instructed me to stay on the birth control (for down regulation) for only 9 days. 9 days! In my past transfer plans, I was on birth control for 3 or so weeks, so we had already planned that the transfer would probably be in July. But nope, our tentative transfer date is JUNE 19!!!!

Last week, I went to my OB for my baseline ultrasound with my favorite ultrasound tech. Everything looked good, so I’m now taking Estrace (estradiol) and am still on schedule for that June 19th transfer. Next up is an appointment Wednesday to make sure my lining is thick and my estradiol is where it should be. After those results get faxed to Memphis, I’ll get the call with the official transfer date and instructions on progesterone injections. Whoa, that’s next week! As I type it I get a little flutter in my chest that takes my breath away for second. And that’s significant because it hasn’t completely hit me that this transfer is around the corner; it’s happening slowly.

After the canceled transfer, I was miraculously able to push infertility to the back of my mind. Ok, maybe not all the way back there, but far enough that it wasn’t a subject that consumed my life. For a month, there was no shot regimen. No schedule taped to the fridge. No doctor’s appoints. No ultrasounds. No surgeries, thank God. There was just one pill every Sunday and Wednesday. I was enjoying having a piece of my life back that didn’t involve me worrying about growing follicles, a thickening lining, or implanting embryos. And I wasn’t even nervous about my high prolactin. I had been on the medicine before and responded well. We figured that would be the case again. Even once I got my schedule for the transfer mid-May – birth control for 9 days, baseline on 5/31, lining on 6/14, transfer 6/19 – it still didn’t feel…real? I’m not so sure that’s the right word. It’s always real. But I just haven’t readied myself to welcome back all the feelings that come with an upcoming transfer, and I don’t want to go back to the place I was two months ago. This is me totally trying to take control of my emotional well-being. Before the canceled transfer, I was sick with worry. The elevated prolactin proved my body wasn’t ready. The heartburn waking me up in the middle of the night to vomit proved my mind wasn’t ready either. But lately, I’ve felt like a completely different person. That’s why I haven’t blogged. Every time I tried, I thought of something else I should be doing instead, for fear that I would drudge up the worry and stress and probably get some heartburn out of it too. Now, as I write this with the tentative transfer a little over a week away, I still can’t see far enough ahead to picture June 19th. I’m just not there.

And if I dig a little deeper, maybe the reason for the mental block is that there is still one more obstacle to get through. One more checkpoint. And that’s my appointment Wednesday. In the past, these appointments were just something we had to get through to get to the transfer. Now that we’ve had a transfer ripped away from us so easily, these appointments are SOMETHING WE HAVE TO GET THROUGH to get to the transfer. See the difference? Maybe not. It barely makes sense to me…if at all. So as June 19th approaches, just pray that I stay cool and collected once it finally hits me. And when it does, I’m sure it will hit like a needle in the butt cheek…literally.

Canceled

My phone rang yesterday around 2:00.  It was Memphis.  “That’s odd,” I thought as I answered.  The next few seconds were fuzzy.  I can’t remember exactly what the nurse said.  The only word that I processed was the one I scribbled down on the Post-it note I grabbed off my desk – “CANCELED.”

After a pause, I woke up from my brief fog, asked the questions I needed answered, and jotted down much better notes.  In a nutshell, my prolactin level is too high to proceed with the transfer.  We’ve known since we first started fertility treatments that I have an elevated prolactin level, but we don’t know why.  I even had an MRI back in 2015 to see if I had a pituitary gland tumor, which I didn’t. Thank goodness.  So now, I’ve stopped taking the Estradiol since this transfer cycle is over and am on Cabergoline (again) to lower my prolactin.   In a month, I’ll have another blood test done to see if it has dropped.  In the meantime, my doctor will let me begin birth control for down regulation (again) once I start my cycle.  The timing should work out to where my repeated prolactin test will take place just before my baseline ultrasound (three days after stopping birth control).  If the level is high…another cancellation.  But if it’s back to normal, I can proceed with the Estradiol (again) and then onward to the transfer.

After all that sunk in, how did we feel? Well, pretty freaking annoyed.  This isn’t fair. Never has been. Never will be.  And what next? I mean, really, what the hell? It feels like a stale story line on Grey’s Anatomy, sans plane crashes.  But after letting out a few choice phrases and grunts of frustration, I tried to find the silver lining (because let’s be honest, I need those silver linings to get through this).  If something is wrong, I don’t want to move forward; so I’m thankful my doctor is being cautious with my elevated levels.  We can’t risk a precious embryo if my body isn’t ready.  And after I thought about it, I realized my mind wasn’t ready either.  I have been so unbelievably nervous about this transfer. After all, it’s our third, and the third time seems like so many more times than the second.  I’ve woken up sick in the middle of the night twice this week; Brennen chalked it up to nerves.  I’ve had heartburn out of this world! And for the most part, I’ve been…blah, for lack of a better term.  Tuesday night, Brennen wanted to shake me out of my slump.  Literally, he told me he wanted to shake me! I had also been dreading the pregnancy test, which would have been the weekend of Mother’s Day.  I don’t think I even need to explain my reasoning behind that one.  So I guess if I’m looking for that silver lining and trying to convince myself this postponement is for the best, once I get past the frustration, there is a little relief.  An extra month (and hopefully that’s all) gives me some time to get my mind and my body right.

For the next few weeks, we’ll take a break from the blog and all things infertility, except the daily pre-natal and the twice-a-week Cabergoline.  We’ll plant our crops for the year in our suburban garden, finally get those Christmas decorations back in the attic, and celebrate my 30th birthday (maybe at the beach hint, hint).  Until then, please pray for a happy mind, a happy body, and a much lower prolactin. See you on the other side of 30!

The Final Countdown (hopefully)

About two weeks ago, we finally went on that much anticipated Orlando trip that we’ve been talking about.  It was a blast!  And I’d like to give a shout out to my husband for making me book the trip.  Back in November before our transfer, my family decided to spend Spring Break in Disney World, so we had a lot to think about.  My list of what if’s went something like, “Just in case it works and I get pregnant, what if I’m sick and don’t feel like going.  My mom was extremely sick when she was pregnant.  What if it’s too risky? What if something happens and we’re away from our doctor? Or what if it doesn’t work, and we would be able to transfer again but we’d be in Disney and we’d have to push it back even further.  Or what if…”  Brennen stopped me.  He reminded me that we can’t let infertility control our lives any more than it already has.  He convinced me to book and play it by ear from there…something I’m not so great at.  He’s rarely right, but this was one of his finer moments. Thanks, Brennen, for being the voice of reason.  Planning that trip, booking dining reservations, reserving FastPasses, and even mapping out all the rest stops on I-10 (ok maybe I went too far) was my saving grace in pushing forward after the miscarriage and surgery.

So after months of counting down to Disney World, we started a new countdown just as our trip was wrapping up.  On our last night in Orlando, my cycle showed up, and that got the ball rolling for TRANSFER #3!

The following Monday, I called the clinic to report my cycle, and within a couple hours, Nurse Memphis called with those magic words, “Mrs. Hancock, I have your tentative transfer schedule ready.” Boy, do I love a schedule!  Just ask any of those 9 folks that went to Orlando with me.  Here’s what the next few weeks look like:

March 19 – Start birth control (done)

April 8 – Stop birth control

April 12 – Baseline ultrasound and blood work; start Estradiol pills

April 26 – Another ultrasound (fingers crossed for a fluffy uterine lining) and more blood work; start PIO injections

May 1 – Tentative Transfer Date!

And 10 days after transfer, the pregnancy test. Now, the transfer date is tentative since it depends on the state of my hormones and uterus at the April 26th ultrasound; but hopefully we’re looking at May 1st or a couple days after. Two other things I want to throw into that schedule:

May 6 – My 30th Birthday

May 14 – Mother’s Day

Yeah, so there’s that….

Right now on the schedule, I have 2 more weeks of birth control, so things are kind of slow. I just take two prenatal vitamins and a birth control pill each day. Last night, I was feeling a bit moody, and as I downed my day’s birth control, Brennen said, “You’ve done a good job keeping up with your pills so far.”  He sounded surprised and a little too condescending, or at least I thought so. I gave him that go-to-hell look he loves and responded with something along the lines of “Thank you for your approval.” And then I threatened to make him start taking prenatal vitamins and all the placebo pills from my old birth control packs.  I’m not sure what that would have accomplished, but it sounded like a good rant at the time. Brennen just laughed, knowing he succeeded at pushing my buttons!

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks. Pray that my hips are ready for those upcoming injections.  Pray that my uterus does her thing and gets ready to host Baby H for 9 months.  And pray that this spring, we get the best news yet!

Musings from a Netflix Binge

A lot of people have been asking for an update since last week’s post.  We love how everyone is on board for our journey and rooting so tirelessly for Baby H!  But I gotta be honest – this is a tough post to write.  Usually when I say that it’s because I’m pouring my heart out in a post that is so emotionally draining.  But this time, it’s difficult to write because I’m in an emotional conundrum.

Since the transfer, I’ve been catching up on Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.  And by catching up, I mean watching it from the very beginning…again!  Last night, I was watching the episode where dark and twisty Meredith Grey goes in for an ultrasound. For those of you not familiar with the show, Meredith had a miscarriage due to a “hostile uterus” and had pretty much given up hope of ever carrying a child.  Now, there she was at her first ultrasound where she saw a precious little heartbeat. The doctor and her husband McDreamy  both look at the monitor with smiles, but what does Meredith do? She turns her head away.  I had never noticed that she did that in all my years of watching and re-watching Grey’s.  But this time I noticed; and in that very moment, I had never felt so connected with dark and twisty Meredith Grey.  I rewound and called Brennen in to watch.  His response, “Whoa, Breezer! That’s like you right now.  Shonda nailed it.”  Little did I know that Brennen Hancock knew 1) who Shonda Rhimes was, and 2) that she created Grey’s Anatomy. This guy!  But yeah, he’s right – that’s exactly how I feel right now.

I’m not excited.  There, I said it.  I don’t mean to sound like a horrible person; but no, I’m just not excited.  But at the same time, I’m not sad or moping around.  Am I optimistic? Not exactly.  Am I pessimistic? Well, no not that either.  I’m just…here…in that space between…waiting and taking this process one step at a time. As Brennen says, I’m “emotionally guarded.” After all, I have low, slow rising hCG levels.  Still, babies are born all the time that had these kinds of levels, but we know it’s not the norm. And of course, I am hopeful that this pregnancy works out and gives us our Baby H, but at the same time, I can’t quite let myself become attached in case it doesn’t.  Not just yet.  And I think that’s what Meredith was thinking – stay guarded.

Over the past couple weeks we have seen my hCG go from 17 to 19 to 28 to 56.  Then, Friday, we saw our biggest increase in 48 hours – 136.  But what followed was a less astounding increase to 396 in 4 days, not 2.  Basically, my hCG isn’t telling the full story anymore; it’s time for an ultrasound to see what’s going on.  So Wednesday, we’ll make the trek up I-55 to Memphis.  I’m not sure what we’ll see or learn while we’re there, and honestly I try not to think about it; it’s part of this whole emotionally guarded thing.  Right now, it’s easier to just accept those things I can’t control and go with the flow. So now, we wait til Wednesday! Luckily, I have Christmas parties, shopping, and gift wrapping to help pass the time. Oh, and of course Grey’s Anatomy!

We Set a Date and Took a Shot

I HAVE A THICK UTERINE LINING, and I want to shout it from the roof tops!  My monitoring appointment yesterday confirmed a lining of approximately 9mm, which means my body, more specifically my uterus, is ready to take on an embryo.  And with that news, we were able to set a date for our frozen embryo transfer.  Drum roll please…Tuesday, November 15th!

But first, progesterone.

For the past two weeks, I have been on an estrogen regimen – 6mg of Estrace daily – to keep me from ovulating and to support the growth of my lining.  Good job, Estrace.  I forgive you for the mood swings and heart burn.  I’ll continue to take Estrace through the transfer, but to ensure that my lining doesn’t get too thick I have to add my little friend PIO (progesterone in oil) to the mix.  PIO is an intramuscular injection, which means big needle in the hip.  And our first injection was tonight. In fact, as I write this, I’m sitting in the car with my right cheek pressed firmly against my heated seat on our way to a steak dinner.

This is the first time in this entire process, including Round 1, that I was shaking from nervousness.  I knew too well what was ahead.  When Brennen walked through the door, I tried to mask my nerves and bravely said, “Ok, I’m ready. Progesterone, now.” It didn’t help when he started mumbling, “Oh my gosh we’re really doing this.”  Then, I hear the voice of a stranger in my house.  A lady on YouTube was giving Brennen instructions on how to give a PIO injection.  Her voice…not so comforting at the time.

As Brennen reached for the Sharpie to temporarily tattoo my backside with injection targets, he said “Now, where exactly do I inject?” Brennen called my uncle (a nurse) for advice.  I heard the words “6 inches from the top of the butt crack…” and saw Brennen go for the tape measure.  This just kept getting better.  He drew the first circle, put an X through it, and drew another.  Finally, we were ready, and gave and took that progesterone like total champs.  When the needle was out, Brennen asked me how it was.  Tears filled my eyes.  They weren’t sad tears.  They weren’t happy tears.  They were just tears…because here we are…5 days from transfer…and wanting this to work so badly.

So, the plan is to continue PIO until I take a pregnancy test; further instructions will follow depending on the results.  I’ll also take an antibiotic and a steroid, Prednisone, for a few days for transfer prep.  The antibiotic is to help ward off any infections from the procedure, and the Prednisone is administered to address any inflammation that may result from implantation.  Aside from medicine, our hotel is booked, and our bags will be packed by the end of the weekend.  I’ll have to be on bed rest for a couple days following the transfer, so I’ve opted to just stay in Memphis.  My mom will be babysitting me so that Brennen can get back to work.  And that means for those few days we’re in Memphis, she’ll be the one injecting me with PIO. That should be interesting…

Well, that’s about it for now!  My tears have dried up. My butt is starting to feel better. And I have a steak dinner waiting on me. We like to celebrate.  Let the countdown to November 15th begin!

 

Thanks, Sis

Our frozen embryo transfer (FET) is tentatively scheduled for November 14th! The original plan was to wait another month, but our patience is in very short supply these days. The first step was to get on birth control, again. The irony continues. Then, next week I’ll begin taking Estrace if my lining looks “nice and thin” as the nurse put it. After two weeks of Estrace, if my lining has thickened and is ready for an embryo, we will proceed with the transfer 5 to 6 days later, the week of November 14th.

Since I’m just popping one pill per night, it’s been pretty slow on the fertility front. No shots. No crazy hormones. We’ve been using this time to catch up on the non-IVF side of life.  We went to the state fair. I visited one of my best friends and her new baby boy. Brennen traveled to Baton Rouge for a horrific Southern Miss loss to LSU. And I spent a couple days at my parents’ house helping my sister Caitlin transfer old home movies onto DVD’s. Watching those videos reminded me of how annoyingly corny and bossy I was as a child and made me sort of nervous about reproducing! After watching one scene in particular where I stole the video camera and in my nasal country voice narrated the story of Johnny Appleseed played by my dad who was in the front yard poisoning fire ants (not spreading apple seeds), Caitlin warned Brennen with a text, “CANCEL THE TRANSFER!” Then, there’s her favorite – the time I gave a news report from the living room coffee table and warned viewers of “sexual cartoons” and “slight tornadoes” sweeping our nation.

She picks on me a lot, and we have more than our fair share of differences. But she loves me. How do I know? Well, I’m an over-the-top planner when it comes to vacations. It drives Caitlin crazy and usually leads to the bulk of our arguments on family trips, even as twentysomethings.  But this past week we really started hashing out the plans for our upcoming trip to Disney World and Harry Potter World, and she let me be over-the-top…with no complaints. She even told me to create a Google Doc and share it with the family so we could plan our schedule, outfits, Fast Passes, dinners, etc. I didn’t know what to say except, “Really? Me?” And I’m pretty sure I heard a Hallelujah chorus in the background. Although she may not admit it, she knows I need distractions right now, and I think she’s helping me find them…on purpose.

As a thank you, I promised to start reading the Harry Potter books when I’m on bed rest after the transfer and have them finished by the trip. I don’t know much about HP (also something that drives her crazy), but I do know that when my little sister finally becomes Auntie Cait, she’ll have my kid equipped with their very own wand in no time!

Stim Day 1

Right after college, I started studying for the dreaded CPA exam.  I spent hours every day for months cramming for the first of four sections. I kept note cards with me everywhere I went.  If I wasn’t sleeping or eating, I was probably studying.  Finally, test day came, and (if I remember correctly) in 3 sets of 90 questions, it was over.  I left the test center, sat in my car, and cried like a baby.  I couldn’t believe that I had just taken the first part of the freakin’ CPA exam, a test I had thought about since I declared my major Freshman year.  Boy was I relieved to have that first test behind me! But I was scared that I might not have even passed it.  I was already anxious about the month or so I would have to wait until my score came in.  Then I realized that even if I did pass, I still had 3 more sections left. And who knew if I would pass all those the first time! There was still so much ahead, and all I could do in that moment was let it all out and cry.

That’s kind of how I felt today, Stim Day 1.  I just needed to cry.  I figured a breakdown was on the way considering that every time Brennen and I talked about injections this past week, I teared up.  I’m convinced that if it weren’t for college football and some chores I had to do around the house, I would have cried a lot sooner.  But it wasn’t until I was in my closet, alone, picking out a Southern Miss shirt to wear for tonight’s game, that all my emotions hit me at once.  I texted Brennen from my closet, “I need you to come here.” And I just let it all out.

I’m scared. Yes, I try not to think about it too much, but this may not work…

I’m sad. I don’t have a baby, and I want one.  I want to give birth to a tiny human that’s part me and part Brennen. I miss someone I’ve never met; it breaks my heart.

I’m angry.  I question the fairness of this situation sometimes.  I understand that children aren’t rewards, promises, or guarantees; but I have my days where I find myself asking, “Why do they get a baby, and we don’t?”

I’m anxious.  I’m the type of girl who reads what happens at the end of a movie so I can actually enjoy watching it. It drives Brennen and my sister Caitlin crazy.  As I was crying today, I told Brennen, “I just want to know how this ends.” I know that’s impossible and out of my control, but I still wonder.

But at the same time, I’m happy. As weird as it sounds, injection time is bonding time for Brennen and me. I love it!

I’m thankful.  We’re so blessed to be able to do another round of IVF.  And we couldn’t have made it through these past few months without the love and support of our dear friends and family.

I’m hopeful. With every injection, I think about how the creation of our future child is in the works.  Maybe not with this cycle, maybe not even through me, but every day and with every injection, we’re becoming closer to being parents.

There you have it – a glimpse into all the feelings that came pouring down my cheeks today.  So many emotions! But during tonight’s shot, I’m sure I’ll be able to hold it together.  Brennen, on the other hand…well, considering that Southern Miss is about to play their first conference game on the road after coming off an upset loss at home last week, he’ll probably be the one flooded with emotions tonight, not me.

Stim Day 1
75iu Menopur
275iu Follistim

 

Be Fruitful and Organize

In my last post, I talked about how there are so many pieces of this infertility puzzle that are out of our control. I don’t retrieve my own eggs.  Brennen and I will probably be taking an afternoon nap when our baby is conceived. We won’t oversee our embryos as they grow in the lab.  And when an embryo is transferred into my uterus, that will be the doctor’s job. There are lots of things out of our control, and while that idea brings me peace, I still have to feed my Type-A need of controlling something, anything.  That’s where medication organization becomes my therapy. I can’t control what these medicines do once they enter my body, but I can control how well they’re organized before they do!

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My thoughts exactly, babe.

For each day of stimming, we have two Ziploc sandwich bags – one for the morning and one for the evening. We used my new label maker to label each bag with the date and time of day.  In the mornings, Brennen will give me 75iu of Menopur, so in each AM bag, we have the following items:

  • Vial of saline
  • Vial of Menopur powder
  • 23 gauge needle to draw up the medicine
  • 27 1/2 gauge subcutaneous needle
  • Q-cap
  • Alcohol prep pads
  • Cotton ball
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AM bag

About halfway through stimming, we’ll start Ganirelix, which is in a prefilled syringe. When the time comes, we’ll add a syringe of Ganirelix to each of our AM bags.

As for our PM bags, they are a bit skimpy.  In the evening, I’ll take 275iu of Follistim, which is administered with a pen.  All we will have to do is change out the needles with each injection and the medicine cartridge every few days.  The cartridges have to stay refrigerated, so the crisper drawer in our refrigerator has been scrubbed and sanitized to house the Follistim and the Lupron trigger shot until needed. Our PM bags include:

  • 2 Follistim pen needles (We had enough to add 2 to each bag, which is good since we’ve been known to accidentally stab ourselves.)
  • Alcohol prep pads
  • Cotton ball

And that’s it! We’ve arranged the bags in date order in a piece of Tupperware which sits in what we call Hormone Headquarters, a small nook in the corner of our kitchen.  Each morning and evening, we’ll grab a bag and get to injecting.  This is easier than sifting through a large box of supplies daily.  Plus, when we go out of town, we grab the bags for the days we’ll be gone (plus a couple extra to be safe).

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Hormone Headquarters

So here we are. My baseline ultrasound is Wednesday morning.  That afternoon, Dr. Memphis will instruct us on when to begin injections.  My bags are packed – well, my Ziploc bags – so let’s get this show on the road!