Friday, September 23, 2016

It's been five, long years now

It's been years since I've posted. I stopped being hopeful. Stopped wanting to share our journey. But, for better or worse, here's what's happened in my absence.

We miscarried Leo at 8.5 weeks in November 2013. We had no embryos left. No backup plan. I went into a terrible depression.

In November of 2015 we tried IVF again at Premier Fertility in High Point, NC. We were "successful" having one embryo transferred and two frozen. I had a chemical pregnancy shortly after our fresh transfer.

Cut to June 2016: we attempted twice to do an FET. We were sandbagged as the clinic was closing on us and didn't inform us until well after we started the second attempt at the FET. Our first attempt was cancelled due to my elevated TSH. Being concerned about this during our second FET attempt, I wanted to come in on CD 14 for my ultrasound but was told the doctor was not in. It was bullshit. They were closing and their hours were abbreviated. They were willing to put my embryos at risk, not transfer them into a well-timed uterus, but just to get it over with so they wouldn't have to owe us any money.

Long story short, we ended up moving our embryos to NCCRM in Cary, NC. It was incredibly traumatic. I'm the only person I know who's ever personally moved her embryos to another clinic. I don't think anyone understands how difficult that was. They were in a container in my back seat for an hour and a half. JP was on a business trip. I was alone.

But we made it there and now the embryos are (hopefully) healthy and waiting for us at NCCRM. I have no idea what we're going to do next. Maybe we'll do an FET, maybe we'll do a fresh cycle to get more embryos.

If I was honest, I'd say I have little to no hope for this embryos. They've been through too much. I think that's why I want to do (our third) IVF. Some people understand this, others don't. I've stopped attempting to appease others' curiosity by explaining my reasoning.

And that's where we are.

Friday, March 6, 2015

There is No Place in Church for the Infertile Woman

There is no place in church for the infertile woman

She sits in the service, quiet, joyful, sorrowful.
She hangs her head during the moments of praise of which she finds it hard to participate.
A cloud of shame surrounds her when a new child is dedicated to the Lord,
For she has no child to dedicate. Her role in church is unfulfilled.

She’s a mother to no one and a wife to a childless husband.
Her place in church is one of an empty space, a listless wanderer, a rootless spirit, floating between two worlds: those with children and those without.

Who is she? She does not know. She wants to belong to a place, a group, a tribe of women who hold the hands of their children, who wrap their arms around the tiny bodies of their babies whose hearts beat close to theirs.

But she cannot hold her children. Her children reside in heaven. Each of their souls, taken away before they reached the earth. They live quietly in the heavens above us, far out of reach of their mother’s arms. They are not hers, yet they are, yet they’re not. They belong to God, as all of God’s children do, but these are children whose faces have never been seen or celebrated or known by their parents.

So she sits in the midst of a crowd of people who rejoice in God’s love and mercy, however, at times she feels beyond His love and mercy. Who is this God who could take a child from the arms of a loving mother who prayed and yearned and pleaded for? What God would strip a mother of a love that throbs within in her heart, pulsing through her veins, flowing to the fingers of the hands of the arms that remain empty?

Still she arrives on a Sunday morning with her smile widely available for others to see; but inside, her smile drips like a poison into her empty bosom, daring her to allow the church to see the writhing, wretched, seething, ugly beast who resides within her.

There is no place in church for the infertile woman.

There are no celebrations for her mourning. There are no moments of prayer to commemorate another failure, another year lost, another piece of her heart ripped away as she loses the hope of becoming a mother.

The coos of the babies in service are like thorny vines that creep through the floor. They writhe their way to beneath her chair, slowly slithering up the legs, wrapping their spiny arms around her body, gripping her tightly with their noose. No one sees her suffocating under the weight of these vines. They ever so silently take her breath away, piercing her skin, bleeding her life onto the floor of the church.

Her pain is invisible. Untouched. Unmentioned. Misunderstood. Ignored. Restrained. Rejected. Patronized.

There is no place in church for the infertile woman.

Who should she be? A childless mother? A wife? A woman? A lie?

She hangs her head as the people pray, but she does so, not out of worship, but out of shame; for she knows not where she belongs. She only knows that there is no place in church for an infertile woman.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Oh, hello again.

I'm sure you're wondering..  What the heck happened in Czech Republic?? Did you die?!?!  Well not quite. It was incredibly emotional tho. So I'm gonna try to sum it up for you in one neat little post. Here goes:

After our final scan we saw that we had 19 follicles. We were absolutely thrilled. Besides being bloated and uncomfortable, I didn't have many side effects from the Gonal F. I was just relieved that we'd have a good number of eggs. The doctor had told us that we'd most likely get 4 or 5 which meant we'd have some to freeze. Perfect.

Well the day of the retrieval came and I was pretty scared. DH was incredibly supportive and just the sweetest. They brought me up to the recovery room filled with 4 empty beds that I'd have all to myself. It looked more like little motel room than a hospital which I liked.

The procedure itself was a little unnerving. I followed a nurse into the surgery room and hopped up on the bed. Then came the part where they pulled up my nightie shirt and I felt very exposed. Soon I was all covered with a sheet and the anesthesiologist came over to insert the needle. She didn't speak a lick of English, in fact, no one in the operating room did (except my doctor but he was preoccupied), which was the unnerving part. She put the needle in with no English warning and in less than 5 seconds I was out like a light.

I woke up pretty woozy and my cute husband recorded the hilarious things I said to him as I lay in the recovery room. At one point I told him, "I hope we got so many eggs. I tried so hard." He said it brought tears to his eyes to hear me say that. Of course, we all know that we have no control over how many eggs we produce. Our bodies have the final say.

And my body sure did - They got 9 eggs. Three were abnormal. Three were immature and out of the three that were left, only two fertilized. They emailed us this info the next morning. We were devastated.

Here we thought we'd have a few left over for an FET if needed. But now we weren't even sure if we'd have any to transfer. We spent the next 4 hours in tears, praying and pleading with God to let those two little embryos grow enough to meet us. We also made the decision to move the transfer from a 5 day to a 3 day.

Now let me tell you all something. My doctor didn't suggest moving it to a 3 day. I am the one who suggested it. I honestly can't say if our little embies would have made it to 5 days or not, but I know that there's a significant chance that they wouldn't have. If I hadn't have done my research and been confident in the facts that I knew, I wouldn't have asked to move the transfer date. But I am so incredibly glad that I did.  So I'm saying that to tell you - You MUST MUST MUST be your own advocate. When it comes to infertility specifically, don't just assume your doctor or nurse or whoever is looking out for your very best interest, you have to look out for you. Do the leg work, research till your eyes fall out, ask around, read blogs, listen to other's stories and find out the facts. It is imperative!

Okay, off my soapbox. Back to the story.

I'll skip over the next two days as they were filled with anxiety and worry. We ended up having both embryos to transfer on day 3. Hallelujah! This was an answer to prayer if I've ever seen one. We had a perfect 8 cell with no fragmentation and a perfect (albeit a little slow) 5 cell with no fragmentation.

The transfer went perfectly - They didn't use an ultrasound but I felt literally nothing during the transfer (and that's a good thing). And they sent me off.

We spent the next few days taking it easy. Eating lots of protein, chips, bread, fruit, and other various Czech things.  We took a train to Prague a few days later and walked around the city exploring a little. A few days later we flew back to the States and I was very glad to get home and sleep in my own bed, but as soon as I was, the anxiety set in. I knew it didn't work. There was no way. I cried and worried and cried some more. How could those two poor lonely embryos have implanted??? No way.

Well we decided to test the Wednesday before my beta just to get it over with. I had already started researching IVF clinics in our are as I knew we wouldn't travel again. I was preparing myself to move on. Maybe the negative result wouldn't sting as much if I already had a plan in mind.

I woke up at 4am that morning and we both went in the bathroom. Pulled out a cheapie test and did the dead. We left the bathroom and laid back down in bed. We prayed. For 10 minutes straight, we prayed for peace and strength and hope. We thanked God for the opportunity to hold those little embryos in my uterus for as long as I had. I thanked God that for a few brief moments in our lives we were parents - for however brief that was.

Then we walked back into the bathroom and knew it was time. DH uncovered the test and there it was...

The two lines that had evaded us for 35 cycles. We were pregnant!!! WE WERE PREGNANT!!! We held each other and cried and thanked God for the miracle of life He had given us.

So here we are. I had two beta's done - 144 @ 13dp3dpt and 967 @ 16dp3dt and the numbers looked good. We go in for our first ultrasound on 10/25. We feel good about it. Hopeful. But you can't be too confident with these things..  I'm just happy that I can finally say that I've been pregnant. Obviously we want to meet the(se) little one(s) in 9 months - I want nothing more - but now I know that my body is capable of carrying a child and that is life changing.

And now we wait. And pray. And hope. And pray. We pray that God will allow our baby(s) to grow and grow and be healthy. We pray that our appointments would be little slivers of joy. We pray that we can finally put the heartbreak of infertility behind us. But mostly we pray to thank God for His goodness and faithfulness to us.

So we pray.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dobry Den!


It's been a while. Sorry about that. The past few weeks have been crazy, but you don't want to hear about that. If you've been following my story, you know that we're in the Czech Republic.. like.. right now. And we are! It's amazing. No, it's not paradise, but it's beautiful here. The people are nice enough the the weather is great, although a tad bit chilly (tho you won't hear any complaints from me).

But onto the good stuff - we had our first ultrasound appointment on Thursday. I met Petra (one of the coordinators) and she was absolutely adorable. She was incredibly sweet and accommodating. She listened to each and every one of my concerns and answered all my questions. I didn't meet Dr. Vrana (who has been my doctor thus far) instead I met the other doctor, whose name slips my mind, and he was also very nice.

My ultrasound showed 15 follicles, which is awesome. The largest of which was 13 but mostly around 8 to 10. The doctor was pleased with my results and increased my Gonal F injections from 225 a day to 250 on Friday and 275 Saturday & Sunday. He also prescribed me Cetrotide which prevents the body from ovulating on its own.

My next appointment is tomorrow at 8:30. I'm looking forward to it. I really hope I responded well to the extra meds and my follicles will be much bigger. I'm also secretly hoping that I have even more sneaky little follicles pop up with the extra meds.  The doctor informed me that, even though I have 15 follicles, probably 10 of them will actually contain eggs, and then less than that will fertilize after the retrieval and 4 or 5 will make it to day 5.

This is just an average but pretty accurate. I'm hoping to the be exception and get more than what he assumes I will. Tomorrow he'll also let me know when my retrieval will be. He thinks it'll be on Thursday but we'll confirm this during our appointment.

I'm pretty ready to get this over with. The shots have been making my tummy so bloated. So if my pants aren't stretchy or just way too big, I'm not wearing them. But I realized yesterday that I haven't been eating much. I mean, we have to shop in foreign grocery stores so we don't have a ton of food in our apartment, but I just haven't been hungry. Being puffy really causes my stomach to think it's already full, so I keep skipping meals and not even realizing it. But today we're putting forth an effort to really eat more. I don't want my little follies to be malnourished!

And that's it for now. I've been super distracted so I haven't felt like blogging since we arrived, but I wanted to let you all know how I was doing. Our apartment is super bright and clean. I absolutely love it. The tram is right across the road so it's perfectly convenient and I LOVE public transportation so it's such a treat for me. Today we plan on doing some sight-seeing and touring the city. Altogether we've been taking it easy and really enjoying our time here. It's so nice to have my DH with me 24/7. :)

Hope you're all well! I'll check in after my next ultrasound!

Friday, September 6, 2013

74 Degrees

Let's talk about my thyroid... (try to contain your excitement ;) It was high - 3.62, to be exact. I had no idea it was that high. So, apparently there's different scales to measure your TSH level, and doctors will argue over what's high and what's not, but for the sake of getting pregnant, my clinic said they wanted it around 1.0.  Well obviously 3.62 is not 1, so I had some work to do. They put me on levothyroxine for about a month now and it's been great.

Oh, so the title of the blog.. right. While it's not 74 degrees out at the moment (don't I wish it was), that's the temperature in our apartment. "Okay, so what?" you might say. Before taking this medication, I liked for the temperature to never go over 72. And even that was pushing it. I'd bring it down to 71 or even lower depending on the day. What this meant was that I couldn't tolerate heat. This is one of the classic signs of hypothyroidism.

Let's explore this a little - My basal body temperature (if you're a fellow TTCer, you know you've taken yours every morning for at least a few months), would generally hover around 97.5 in my follicular phase (pre-ovulation) and then 98.1 in my luteal phase (post ovulation). Now that's an average, but I've seen my BBT get as low as 96.7. Yikes. And sometimes it'd get higher than 98.1 but it was usually just for a day or two after I O'd.

I thought for sure this meant that I had a luteal phase defect. I clearly wasn't producing enough progesterone to sustain high temps and therefore I was losing a potential pregnancy each month. But no doctor ever bothered to check my thyroid. And low BBTs are a classic sign of hypothyroidism.

That was until Reprogenesis checked it. And I'm so glad they did because having a high TSH (anything about a 1.5 to 2) can cause miscarriage. Now my BBT has been 98.5 or higher when I wake up. This means that I'm not a giant pool of sweat whenever it creeps above 72 in our apartment.  This makes me happy. And it also makes me feel reassured that these doctors just might know what they're doing. :)

So the moral of my story is, have your doctor check your thyroid! You could be hypo and not even realize it!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IVF Timeline

I've been purposely staying away from blogging for a little bit.  I've felt a little nuts lately with all the planning and preparations that go into doing IVF across the Atlantic. I had a tiff with my coordinator and ended up requesting a new one. That was a huge, unnecessary source of anxiety. Things are much better now, but I have always been one who can only focus on "the now" so needless to say, I couldn't cope.

But things are fine now. We sent our payment yesterday so now it's truly finalized. All of my medication is here and I've been on birth control and levothyroxine since 8/20 (CD3). It's now CD17 which means tomorrow I increase my birth control dosage from 1 to 2 a day - morning and night. Right now I have a little tenderness in my breasts but nothing crazy. I feel like this will be a little intense. Honestly, it shouldn't be anything compared to the "big drugs" so I'm trying not to make much of it. I also start taking prednisone around the same time, which is a steroid that will tell the body not to attack the embryo. Great stuff.

Just in case you're curious about our timeline, here's a breakdown for you:

8/20: Start Desogen (birth control)
8/20: Start Levothyroxine (thyroid medication)
9/05: Increase BCP to 1-0-1 (morning & night)
9/06: Start Prednisone & Folic Acid
9/08: Last BCP - continue other medication
9/12: Expected Period
9/14: (CD3) Start Gonal F
9/16: Leave for Czech Republic
9/17: Arrive in Prague & take bus to Brno
9/18: First U/S - do not take Gonal until after appointment for dosage adjustment
9/18: Possible start date of Cetrotide (a drug that suppresses ovulation)
9/23: Second U/S
9/26: Possible Egg Retrieval
10/01: Possible Egg Transfer

So as we all know, in the world of IF we can plan to our little hearts content, but sometimes the body does what it wants to, which means some of these dates are tentative. Who knows when the actual retrieval will be. I think they like to stim for about 10 days, so it shouldn't be too far off the timeline above. But I've always been a good responder, so I might be ready sooner. We'll see.

And just an update on the apartment - I know I said that we'd be staying at that super modern apartment in Brno, but we're back to staying at the Vienna Apartment. I'm pretty excited. Tomas (the owner) has been absolutely brilliant in his emails and super accommodating. I feel confident about staying at this place and it seems like it's in a good part of town that's close to plenty of stores and such.

Well that's it for now - we leave in less than two weeks. Holy. Crap. I still need to buy a new purse cuz mine's been falling apart and that's the last thing I need while running through an airport. So off I go to the store! Hope you're all doing well!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Most Unfortunate Place for an Infertile

Today's a big day. Today I took my first birth control pill. I can't believe the irony of how exciting that is. What's more, you should ask me where I got my birth control.

Planned Parenthood.

Oh yes.

I ordered BCP, Prednisone, Folic Acid, and Synthroid from my clinic in Czech. They shipped it over a month ago and, as of yesterday, it hadn't arrived. It's lost somewhere in post office land. This has plagued me with anxiety over the last few weeks. I've stalked our mail man on several occasions. I've gone to our post office several times to see if they have it. Nothing.

Extreme measures had to be taken. Where is an easy place to get birth control? Yep. So I went. Needless to say, it wasn't enjoyable.

I arrived at 12:15 and filled out my paperwork. 30 minutes later I asked to use their restroom so they let me back and handed me a cup. "What's this for?" I asked. "A pregnancy test." "Oh, well I don't need it, I just got my period today." "It's procedure, we have to test you."

I'd be lying if I said that didn't sting a little. What stung worse was when they gave me the results. "You're not pregnant, don't worry."

Oh, wow. Okay. For the first time in 35 cycles of trying, someone else said that to me aloud. Yes, I'm well aware that I'm not pregnant, that's why I'm here at your trashy little establishment!

The nurse came in and we went over my information. I told her why I needed the BCP and she understood. After she left the room I overheard her talking with the doctor and another girl. "So she's here for BCP for her IVF cycle."  "What's IVF?" (um, can you imagine asking this  now?)  "It's in vitro-fertilization (moron!)"  "Well why does she need BC for IVF?"   "To regulate her cycle."

I wanted to burst out of the room and tell that idiot asking all the questions to google once in a while!! I knew what IVF years ago, before I was married, before thinking of babies, before understanding infertility. Ugh, the ignorance!

But I didn't do that. I just sat in the room.. waiting.. humiliated.

I got my prescription and left as fast as I could. Cried in the car, naturally. We managed to convince an RE in the area to write me prescriptions for the rest of the medication I needed. I wish I had just asked him for the BC and saved myself another awful experience.

But here I am, my first day of BCP. I have my medication schedule for the next few weeks. I hope the end of this month goes by fast. I've been occupying myself with buying a few things for the trip. I need a new purse - the straps are falling apart, this is a great excuse. I'm also looking for leggings and some jeans shirts to wear once I start doing injections and become a human pincushion. I can't imagine feeling comfortable in jeans once that starts.

I'm trying to stay positive - I've started saying "when" we get pregnant instead of "if." I have no idea what effect this has, if any, but it can't hurt. I just wished I fully believed it. Maybe it'll be different once we're there. Once I'm pumped full of hormones and they start taking pictures of my ovaries. Maybe then I'll feel hopeful, positive, even confident.

So I wait. Just a little longer.