IVF Diary Vol II: 26-28 Jan 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Progesterone in Oil 1ml Intra-muscular injection, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.  I am taking baby steps in learning how to inject the progesterone myself.  Last night I held the needle and hovered it above my skin but cried, well sobbed… and begged Chris to do it.  I realised that I had never actually watched this huge needle go in before because I have always been lying down on the bed face down.  So the first step was watching it break the skin.  He checked for blood, then I took over from Chris and injected the oil so I know what it feels like and I took the needle out.  There are definitely some challenges with injecting yourself and reaching round at the right angle – fortunately I am pretty flexible (thanks yoga!).  We will do the same again whilst I build my confidence up! baby steps….!!

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil

What are my symptoms?  My recovery from the Egg Retrieval surgery has been incredible!  Compared with last time when I was practically crippled with pain and constipation I am in a way better place.  The runny/dribbly/itchy nose and continuous sneezing has started to wear off.  I treated the symptoms with nose saline spray (with aloe) and antihistamines.   I was only constipated for about 1.5 days, and for someone who poos 3-5 times a day this wasn’t insignificant! But again, it was no where near as bad as last time when it was 3 days.  I don’t sleep well when taking the progesterone injections or the estrogen patches, I’m not sure which is the culprit.  I suspect it’s the progesterone because I remember being like that when I was only taking the progesterone suppositories for the IUIs.  I woke up very early this morning with some sharp tummy pains, the kind you get from being very hungry.  OK enough whinging, really, I am in a good place!

How do I feel today? I guess technically we are in the 2 Week Wait. I’m getting nervous that I am too positive now!!! Although last night I had a dream that I had to knit my embryos, and I dropped the last stitch, which meant I dropped an embryo on the floor and I had everyone looking for it!!! Don’t pscyho-analyse me too hard ;-p I went back to work on Wednesday and people were surprised to see me in good health because I had originally booked the whole week off as sick leave based on my experience last time.  But it wasn’t needed!

Any results?  Out of the 14 eggs that were retrieved, 11 of them were mature.  Out of the 11 mature eggs all 11 fertilised successfully!  This means an automatic go to Day 5 Transfer space!!!  Our clinic doesn’t provide updates on the embryo progress unless things are going badly.  We haven’t heard from the clinic and today is Day 3, so we are assuming things are all good.  Our next update on how many made it to blastocyst will be on Saturday morning when we go in for our Transfer!  It’s really strange because I know so many other clinics offer daily updates, but I’ve come to the conclusion that ignorance is bliss.

What’s next? Day 5 transfer is scheduled for 7AM this Saturday :-s who needs a lie-in when you can make a baby the good old test tube way!

Weight. Aghhhhh. I can’t even….

Waist. Seriously bloated and look pregnant.

Boobs. Getting bigger by the day – someone is happy about this! Not my bra, that’s for sure ;-p

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 The sun has been hiding.  I think that the whole sun thing has no bearing on my fertility considering the amount of sun I got in August last year when we went through IVF the first time!

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

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My Mountains Monday Memoirs: Healing Holidays Days 10 to 16

Well after starting NaBloMoPo15 yesterday with a mantra to write more meaningful and deeper posts I have lost my way already!  But it is Monday….so I will finish off My Mountains Monday Memoirs post from last week.  You won’t find anything deep in this post – just a recount of my healing holiday part 2 😉

(If you missed part 1, you can read about our first 9 days here)

Day 10.  Albuquerque (NM).  We thought we would be in Albuquerque as the worlds biggest hot air balloon festival would be going on because we found it difficult to find a campsite for that night.  But in reality we arrived about 2 hours too late.  The festival was over.  Booooo. Anyway, we headed off to the Petroglyph National Park (A petroglyph is a rock carved drawing) for a mini adventure.  We took a hike and viewed some incredible old rock carvings.  We tried to imagine what people were expressing when they carved them into the rock hundreds of years ago.  Here is one that looks like a stork carrying a baby – although it is actually a frog…but apparently the whole image may represent thankfulness for fertility or water.  Because, you know, these things are so similar (!??!! the sign told us this, I didn’t just make it up!).

The stork and the baby story originates from Europe so we know that this is meant to be a frog!

The stork and the baby story originates from Europe so we know that this is probably actually a frog!

We decided not to head into Albuquerque city centre but rather spend more time getting outdoors instead – at the petrified forest.

Day 11.  Petrified Forest, AZ.  We took a spectacular hike into the wilderness – i.e. there was no path.  You had to ask the park ranger for the ‘special’ instructions to do this hike.  So armed with the ‘map’, instructions and a compass (my iPhone because we forgot to bring ours!) we headed out into the wilderness to look for a giant petrified log that crossed a wash (a temporary river when it rains).

A 'wash' in the petrified forest wilderness

A ‘wash’ in the petrified forest wilderness – no paths to follow here!

I felt in my element here.  I was sooo happy.  No one else around.  No sounds of vehicles, very little wildlife except for lizards and ravens.

A lizard on a piece of petrified wood

A lizard on a piece of petrified wood

The petrified logs were incredible.  I had never seen anything like it.

Petrified wood in a valley

Petrified wood in a valley

It is very tempting to just pick up a piece of petrified wood and put it in your pocket, but of course that is illegal so we didn’t!

The different colours are caused by different minerals the wood absorbed a few million years ago

The different colours are caused by different minerals the wood absorbed a few million years ago

There was so much wood lying around, especially from the giant logs I could really imagine what the forest would once have looked millions of years ago when the dinosaurs roamed.  Now just a desert.  Apparently this is the most ‘driven’ through National Park in the US.  If you ever head this way, don’t just drive through it….get out and see it!  There are many natural surprises that lay hidden throughout the park.

Day 12.  Grand Canyon, South Rim, AZ.  This time around we had planned to arrive in the Grand Canyon in style by taking the Grand Canyon train!  Although, this did mean we only had 3 hours actually at the Canyon.  We managed just 3 miles of hiking, the canyon was cruelly teasing us.  BUT! this time we got to see the canyon in its finest.  Not a cloud in sight.  Once we escaped the crowds I was a happy bunny.

rt_grand_canyon_l

For the return trip on the train we bought luxury parlour class tickets – it was fantastic!  A bit of a treat to ourselves because quite honestly it is a bit of a frivolity.  Our tickets gave us full roaming of the train, including the back porch of the train.  It was very cool being able to stand outside as the train was clickety-clacking along through the national park with the sunsetting.  By the way, at no point do you get to see the canyon from the train (the pictures on the website are totally misleading), but it was still a wonderful journey.  Our train was ‘robbed’ on the way back by cowboys – quite an amusing little bit of entertainment.

A wild west train robbery in action

A wild west train robbery in action – apparently a pretty casual affair.

To end the day we went back to our campsite to finish off with a little bit of relaxing Jacuzzi action.  Spoilt rotten.

Day 13.  Lake Mead and Hoover Dam (NV & AZ).  Mostly a day for driving, but at the end of the day we ended up at the Hoover dam.  Wow, I learned a lot about this dam!  We took the ‘full works’ tour of the dam and got to go inside the actual concrete dam itself.  An incredible piece of engineering.  I can understand why it is one of the seven engineering wonders of the world.

Hoover Dam - One of the 7 engineering wonders of the world

Hoover Dam – One of the 7 engineering wonders of the world

We ended up at Lake mead RV park with an amazing lakeside view.  Sadly this was our last night in Trippy 😦

Lake Mead Camping

Lake Mead Camping

Day 14 & 15.  Las Vegas baby! (NV).  We handed Trippy back first thing in the morning and took a taxi to our hotel, the SLS.  I had some Hilton points to use that I have collected over the last year so this was definitely a treat of a hotel.  By the way, it was sooooo good to be in a real bed!!!

We gambled a little on the slot machines and learned how to play ultimate poker (where you play poker against the dealer only).  We didn’t win big.  But Chris did win 2 half dollar coins with 2 flushes, which we will keep and not be spending!!  Half dollar coins are not commonly used any more, but it is possible to get half dollar coins to collect.  Unfortunately, neither of them were the Kennedy half dollar coins that are worth something.  But hey, it’s a novelty!

Our total sum winnings in Vegas...2 half dollar coins

Our total sum winnings in Vegas…2 half dollar coins

We decided to be a bit different and went to the mob museum…you could even buy a beer to take around the exhibits with you!  This was followed by a seafood buffet at the Freemont Casino.  It was totally over-the-top with Vegas cheese, but we decided to go cheap rather than fancy because we thought it would be a waste of money spending money on a buffet when we are not big eaters.  Chris was surprised at how much food I actually did pack away!  We were both ill with funny tummies almost immediately afterwards, not because of food poisoning, just from the sheer amount we ate!  We are clearly not well trained in buffet eating.

We treated ourselves to a dinner and show package.  We chose to see ‘Absinthe’ at Caesars Palace – a variety show in a small intimate circus tent (there were only 10 rows of people!).  It was comedy mixed with erotica, show dance girls and circus acts.  There was something for everyone!  It was excellent entertainment– not for the faint hearted or the straight laced!  There was absolutely no political correctness here!

All in all, Vegas was highly entertaining, but I don’t think I could spend more than 2 nights there.

Day 16.  Time to fly home.  Reflecting upon our epic adventure, it made me realise that there is definitely a whole lot of America we have yet to see and experience.  But most importantly, I came home refreshed and ready for whatever life wants to throw at me back in the real ‘non-vacay’ world.

rt_plane

Bye Bye Grand Canyon! ’til we meet again…

IVF round 2 – December/January 2016

We met for our follow-up appointment with our doctor yesterday.  There were no surprises.  Which is a good thing!  So the plan of attack is a fresh round of IVF…get a couple more embryos frozen:

  1. Schedule a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG – if you would like a refresher what this procedure entails, check out my post from last time here) – I will do this as soon as I start my period (who knows when that will be!!!).  It is very unlikely that my fallopian tubes will be blocked, but she wants to be sure.  Fair enough.  However, I am NOT looking forward to this test.  Last time I was completely naive to the potential pain ahead for this particular procedure, now that I know exactly how much it can hurt I’m a wee bit nervous!
  2. Plan to start Birth Control Pills to regulate my cycle in December with an egg retrieval date for early January 16.  There is a period of 3 weeks that the embryology lab is closed over the Christmas period.  Seriously – how unlucky am I?? Last time my cycle was delayed because the embryology lab was being refurbished.  Oh well – I guess everyone needs a holiday.

There is a potential chance we could start Birth Control Pills in November, and do a retrieval before Christmas, but I think it will be close to my 3 month period of ‘no baby making’ because of the methotrexate shot I had affecting fetus development.  I have been researching this, and I would be willing to go ahead a week or two earlier because doctors are overly cautious with this 3 month time stamp.  As long as I keep taking my folic acid I should have no problems.  However, this is something to be discussed once we have a better idea of a) when my period is likely to be and b) assuming my HSG test is all clear!!!

There will be no change to my protocol, perhaps a slight increase in some of the medication dosages to mature more of my eggs.  As a reminder from our first round we had 9 eggs retrieved, 6 of these eggs were mature, 4 of these eggs were successfully fertilised by ICSI, 2 good 8 cell embryos were transferred on day 3, and 1 of the 2 embryos made it to Day 5 blastocyst and was frozen.  Our doctor mentioned that she would consider waiting to Day 5 for the transfer this time around, especially as our frozen one is Day 5 – she wants them to be the same.  We like this plan!

This gives me some time to concentrate on work for a little while, get my body healthy and start growing some strong eggs!  What is amazing is what the horrrorscopes says for me next week…

horoscopes

I was already planning on going back on my sugar free, healthy diet next week! Freaky! Sooooo….which old friend should I Skype on Sunday next week and wants to reveal a long-held secret to me??!!!?!

I always say it’s never over ’til the fat lady sings….predicting a successful pregnancy outcome

fat_lady_singing

I always say it’s never over ’til the fat lady sings.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t see that fat lady getting ready to get on stage…I can also hear her warming up, running through a few scales too.

So, my suspicions were pretty much confirmed about why I didn’t get my results yesterday.  My results were not good.  And let me point out here that these are not my words, but the words of my nurse.

My hCG levels last Weds were 49 –  just a bit lower about where they should be, but were not overly worrisome…

My results from Tues this week, however, were 126.  They went up!!!! But those of you who are familiar with hCG levels and where they should be by now will know this is not a great number.  hCG levels should double every 2 to 3 days.  What does this mean?  Well my doctor wants me to keep taking my progesterone and estrogen, just in case – there is always a small chance this pregnancy is still viable!! But I have to go in for another beta test on Friday to double check that this pregnancy is, in fact, over.

I can safely say I am no longer feeling cautiously optimistic….I am feeling pessimistic as hell and sad.  If you would like to hold onto hope for us, I gratefully take your strength and thank you for helping to hold us up, but quite frankly when the nurse tells you it is not good, it’s not good.  I understand she is preparing us for the worst.

BUT!!!!! I decided to do a bit of research on what all this really means, what are MY chances?  You know I had to do it, as one of my colleagues told me today – GTS!  (Google That S#*% !!!).  OK, I’m going to get a bit technical here….hang in there if you have in interest in hCG levels (the beautiful pregnancy hormone!!)….


I found a very useful study* that looked at the predictive values of hCG levels for a viable pregnancy 13 days after a 3 day Embryo Transfer (I took my first beta test 14 days after my 3 day Embryo transfer).  My result of 49, according to their model, gives me the following chances of outcome: 45% successful singleton pregnancy, 31% miscarriage, 13% bio-chemical pregnancy, 9% ectopic pregnancy, 3% successful multiples pregnancy.  Well I am glad they didn’t tell me what my hCG levels were last week!

According to these researchers’ analysis, they decided that the cut-off level for predicting a viable pregnancy was an hCG level is 76 IU/I (80% sensitivity)….although this is considerably higher than some other researchers have reported (for example other studies have found the cut off at a similar sensitivity to be: 42 mIU/ml (Qasim et al., 1996); 55 IU/l (Bjercke et al., 1999); and 50 IU/l (Sugantha et al., 2000)).

Wow guys, 76 seems to be a whole lot higher than the others….so do they have credibility in their research?  Well from what I can ‘statistically understand’ and in understanding their research design, it looks solid; their sample size is excellent, some of the best I have seen in articles about artificial reproductive technologies….but I am not a medical professional, so I am totally relying on my knowledge of stats and may be there is something ‘medically awry’ that I cannot see.

If I use any of these models, and consider my hCG level of 49 from last week, these researchers would have told me my chances of a viable pregnancy were always going to be low.

However, there was one interesting point that came out from this study that caught my eye:

In subjects with unexplained infertility, ICSI may result in lower than expected HCG levels (Gold et al., 2000)….The explanation for this was not clear.  Although the early embryo cleavage is delayed in ICSI-derived embryos and the fragmentation of embryos is increased the implantation potential is comparable with IVF-derived embryos.

Even though my numbers have not multiplied nicely….in the back of my mind I am holding onto this slither of hope….holding on that we are the ones in that 5% extreme quantile who defy the norm, and it is because we are unexplained and our embryo was ‘ICSI-ed‘ that my hCG numbers are much lower.

Until Friday…………. :-s

*Pokkeus, P., Hiilesmaa, V. & Tiitinen, A. (2002) Serum HCG 12 days after embryo transfer in predicting pregnancy outcome. Human Reproduction 17(7):1901-1905. Available at: http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/17/7/1901.full

How to get the most out of your doctor

It took me about 24hrs after it was confirmed that I am pregnant to realise I do not know how to be pregnant.  This might seem very weird considering we have been talking about this moment for more than two years now.  Once we started trying to conceive I just of buried my head in the sand.  I didn’t want to jinx our chances by buying a book about it, and I started to avoid all pregnancy related websites and apps after 6 months of failing to succeed in our quest to make a baby.  I know the basics, like smoking is a big no-no, drugs are dangerous, avoid raw meat and reduce caffeine, but really, that is the limits of my knowledge.  So yesterday we went to the book store and bought two books on pregnancy.  One was the standard text book “Great expectations: Your all in one resource for pregnancy”, and the second was “Expecting Better”, beautifully demonstrated in this picture by Sushi:

Sushi, my book keeper

Sushi, my book keeper

This second book interested me because I have always wondered whether Japanese women stop eating sushi, or French women stop eating brie when they are pregnant.  Really?  I don’t think so.  I hope that this book will enlighten me to what the conventional wisdom really means.  But when I started reading the first chapter I didn’t need to go much further with it to be completely satisfied with my purchase.  Why?  Well the author, Emily Oster, is not so different from me, she was not happy with what her doctor was telling her.  I realised that my experience with my fertility clinic’s doctors and the feeling I had that there was a poor lack of communication.  All of this was because I was not asking the right questions.  I didn’t know I needed to ask them.  And this is silly because all along I had the key questions in the back of my mind…I use them everyday at work!!!

In my job I help leaders make decisions every day…I do this by presenting the evidence, the facts – for and against a decision – I do some analysis on the data that supports the decision, I try to be unbiased and objective in my analysis, and then I present a recommendation to the leader on the best course of action.  The leader doesn’t always go with my recommendation, but I have presented them with the facts and figures to make their own mind up.  Sometimes I feel a bit hurt, but then I remember, I am not the one taking the risk.  So when it comes to our healthcare and doctors, WE are the decision makers.  We need to be presented with the arguments for and against, and be told what the supporting evidence is.  WE are unique in many different ways and the decisions we make will be unique, blanket guidelines are not always appropriate for everyone.

I think a good example of this is when we were told we should do ‘ICSI’ because of our unexplained infertility.  We didn’t ask the questions:  What are the pros of ICSI?  What are the cons of ICSI?  What are the improved success rates with people like us? (i.e. what’s the supporting evidence/data?)   We were not armed to make a decision, we just went with what the doctor said, and in the back of my mind I felt like I had not been given a chance to make a decision.  I did actually do a lot of this research myself, but it would have been better if my doctor would have told me – after all I am not the medical professional, I just have the fortunate ability to interpret statistics from studies and experiments.  So although I was finally happy with the decision to do ICSI after my research, something inside me was niggling about our doctor’s communication.

Another example is when it came to our embryo transfer.  We were told that it is the standard practice at the clinic to transfer 2 embryos on day 3, unless there were over 6 fertilised embryos then maybe we would be a candidate for waiting to Day 5 to transfer 2 blastocysts.  We did not ask the questions: what are the pros of us waiting to Day 5? What are the cons of us waiting to Day 5?  What are our personal chance of success with 4 fertilised embryos compared to if we had had 6? (i.e. what’s the supporting evidence/data?).  Again, I did a lot of this research myself.

I could go on with other opportunities throughout our infertility treatment where I could have asked these three simple questions that would have revealed the knowledge I needed to feel like I was in control of making a decision.  We rely on doctors to make the decisions for us…and most of the time I am happy with that fact, but there were times that I felt like we should hold that responsibility for a decision.  When it comes to my pregnancy I want to be able to ask these questions to my doctors and nurses so I can take the responsibility for making some of the big decisions such as prenatal testing or birthing plans.

Emily Oster suggests reading the book “Our medical mind: How to decide what is right for you” by Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband.  I think I might try it, and I’ll let you know how it goes.  Has anyone read this one?

In the meantime my friends, next time you are in a consult with your doctor, remember these three simple questions to help you make the best decision, for you, and get the most out of your doctor….

  • What are the pros (for me)?
  • What are the cons (for me)?
  • What is the evidence/what are the chances (for me in particular)?

IVF DIARY VOL I: 15-17 Aug 2015

IVF_Diary_Vol1cMedication(s) administered and dosage(s).  Progesterone 1ml, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.

Medical procedures undertaken. Nothing!!!

How do I feel today? I am 11 days past my 3 day transfer.  I am very close to ‘prove’ time…I am feeling sadly indifferent about being ‘PUPO – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise’.

Time has flown by this weekend – it was quite an epic weekend.  First of all it kicked off with a games night with friends – we played Risk – I didn’t win 😦  But it was still fun (Did I mention I hate losing??)!!! Saturday day time we took a trip to the ‘not so Dismal’ Dismal Swamp.  The conditions were glorious.

Dismal_Swamp_AUG

Dismal Swamp – How did it get it’s name???!!!

Saturday evening we went to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Kooza.  I AM SO LUCKY!!!  You may recall that I originally booked front row tickets for my Mum as a Birthday present for the 6th August – which ended up being the same day as my 3 Day Embryo Transfer.  Because I was on doctors orders for 24 hour bed rest I was unable to go 😦  But then an amazing act of mother nature cancelled this show because of a lightening storm.  Thank you mother nature!!!  So we re-booked our tickets for this Saturday….and it was AMAZING!!!!  Any other circus will never be the same again….these people are just so talented – the story, choreography and music FABULOUS!

Cirque Du Soleil

Chris doesn’t like ‘Selfies’ (It’s not a selfie, but a groupie!!!)

But the amazing weekend didn’t end there!  Sunday we headed to Back Bay Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park for a bike ride where we saw mother nature in her awesomeness again.  Afterwards we had a dinner sunset picnic on the beach, followed by a hunt for bioluminescent Plankton.  The plankton was lighting up the dark skies of Sandbridge beach’s ocean water in an amazing luminous green colour.  As you walked on the wet sand the ground lit up with luminous green beneath you (A bit like in Avatar!!)  I wish I could show you some pictures, but there would be no justice in the photo, you just had to see it with your own eyes to appreciate what an amazing phenomena this is!

I also completed my 4 week online course on Data Visualisation…it kept me a little distracted, but honestly it was a mistake to sign up for it with everything going on over the last 4 weeks.  If it had started 3 weeks later it would have been good to keep me distracted in the 2 week wait rather than working when I was struggling to recover from the egg retrieval!!

We bumped into a friend at the supermarket on Sunday who has previously sent us a private message of encouragement after our facebook announcement of our Embryo Transfer.  I nearly burst into tears as she gave me a big hug and wished me lots of sticky vibes.  So lovely.

As you can see I spent a lot of time having fun this weekend, but I was not distracted from the fact that I was sad at times for absolutely no reason at all, I cried over the smallest things, and I argued with Chris over the smallest things.  DAMN DRUGS messing with my emotions!!!

What are my symptoms? The sharp pains have subsided over the last few days, which makes me think waaay too much that this IVF hasn’t worked.  Apart from the growing boobs and the emotional schizophrenic Dani, I have no other symptoms.

How does Chris feel today?  Chris has put up with a lot of my random outbursts of tears and overly aggressive and defensive approach to every day occurrences.  He has been worried about me, of course.  He is very hopeful and talks to huck and huck, telling them to bury deep and grow strong.  He helps keep me mostly sane about all this.

Any results? No.

What’s next?  Test time!  I will do a home pregnancy test at some point before my blood test on Wednesday.  I know they are not wholly reliable after IVF but I want to have some kind of expectation before hearing the results over the phone.

Weight. NSTR

Waist.  Still not quite back to my normal waist size 😐

Boobs. NSTR.

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 The sun has just not stopped shining this weekend…if sunlight is as important as they say they are for egg development then my eggs are getting BAKED!!!

150817_IVF1_Stats

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF DIARY VOL I: 11-14 Aug 2015

IVF_Diary_Vol1b.pngMedication(s) administered and dosage(s).  Progesterone 1ml, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.

We hit a blood vessel with the progesterone needle!!! Well mum did the check once the needle was in, drew back a little bit and she saw blood, she coped with it calmly and I told her it was OK we just change the needle and try the other side of my buttock.  I explained to her it was just one of those things that happens occasionally and that is why we check.  She was so worried she hurt me.  Poor mum.  She did well not to pass out because I think I would have done if I saw that!! It didn’t actually hurt, but I did get some tingling, numbing sensations running down my leg!!!  Then it bruised a little but afterwards, but no different to any of the other injections.

I think I have finally sussed out the Estrogen patches (vivelle dots – which by the way are nothing like a ‘dot’).  Sticking them oblong ways round and peeling them off from outwards to inwards towards the belly button is the easiest and least painful way to pull them off…I’ve tried every way round!!!  I still haven’t quite found a good way to remove the sticky residue.

2 patches - change every two days

2 patches – change every two days

Medical procedures undertaken. Nothing!!! But I returned to work yesterday to find lots of emails – from my medical insurance company notifying me of all the claims that had been submitted by the fertility clinic for all the medical procedures over the last IVF cycle!!! Every single ultrasound, blood test etc has an individual claim number…this is going to be a pain to track as soon as the bills start arriving through the door – time for a spreadsheet!!!

How do I feel today? I am 8 days past my 3 day transfer and honestly – I am not feeling positive anymore.  A few nights ago I woke up with horrific pain in my abdominal region.  I can’t pinpoint where it was exactly.  I cried as I curled up and thought I was going to have to take myself to hospital (I was in a hotel with my mum at the time), but after 15 minutes the pain subdued.  The next day I felt the residual pain, which I can only describe it to be like what you might experience after you have cramp in your leg after the cramp goes away, but the muscles ache from the cramp and is on tenterhooks for cramping again if you move too fast.  I have not experienced any more of this type of pain since.  I wondered if it was implantation cramping, but it was so painful, could it really be that?

The day after this night of pain I was due to do some guest lecturing at an offsite location near DC…let’s just say my office messed up and I was unable to access the site I was visiting because someone decided to handover their work and something fell through the gap.  Cue RAGING DANI…..8 hrs of driving and a night in a hotel wasted because someone didn’t properly do their handover when they were leaving.  So I called my boss, told him the situation and asked for the rest of the afternoon off – he pointed out that I needn’t have asked – he was actually more worried when I left a message for him to call me back that there was something more serious wrong (i.e. with my health!).  So I went shopping with my mum.  I will save the details of this for another post dedicated to shopping, but this is when I really started to feel more negative about everything and I have not been able to shake it off since.

What are my symptoms? I I have had lots of mini sharp pains and some dull aches like I have experienced in two of my previous IUI cycles.  My boobs are growing fast with much sensitivity!  I ache, like having a period time type ache all over my body.  The injections are not so bad, but they kind of rule your life a little bit.  It know it will be worth it if I do end up successfully carrying huckleberry and huckleberina to term, so it’s something to just live with.  (By the way, this is for Chris mostly, and anyone who has missed my previous blog post – we will NOT be naming these poor babies huckleberry or huckleberina, they are just affectionate names whilst they are inside me 🙂 )

How does Chris feel today?  Chris had a weird dream last night about using blown up balloons as a rope to do some climbing – he used about 30 balloons, then they burst.  I thought it might have been some kind of dream about how he felt about IVF, that we had put all this effort into getting so far, climbing up the mountain and it was all for nothing – a blow out.  He said I was being silly, and perhaps I am, but I dream a lot so I always try to think about why I dream certain things.

Any results? No.

What’s next?  Enjoy the rest of the time my mum is visiting – we have quite a fun packed weekend planned!

Weight. Fortunately my weight loss was only temporary, I am getting away from the danger zone of being underweight.  I have enjoyed plenty of eating out over the last few days of my trip to DC!!!

Waist.  Slowly the bloat is disappearing, but not quite back to my normal waist size.

Boobs. Woah they have grown massive!  Chris can look, but not touch – they are way too sensitive :-p I’m going to have to change the scale on my chart at this rate!!!

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 Sooooo much lovely sun.  What an amazing summer we have had compared to the Augusts of the previous two years.

150814_IVF1_Stats

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF DIARY VOL I: 05-06 Aug 2015

IVF_Diary_Vol1b.pngMedication(s) administered and dosage(s).  Progesterone 1ml, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2, colace x1

Medical procedures undertaken. We woke up nice and early for our 7AM appointment.  As we parked up our doctor also parked up, so there was this awkward moment of where I was walking very slowly (still constipated and sore from the egg retrieval) and she clearly had somewhere to be!  Of course Chris had lots of questions for her as he collared her on her way into work about me and my recovery.  Anyway, so we were called upstairs to the IVF surgery room and I was ushered to the same cubicle I was in on Monday.  The nurses immediately noticed I was waddling and I told them about my constipation and bloating.  They were very sympathetic and gave me advice on taking extra colace, prunes, prune juice and apricots to get things moving.  They did not want me straining myself to poo!!!  One nurse said that she sees so many patients like me and doesn’t understand what causes it.  The doctor said it was the progesterone, but I was constipated before I took the progesterone!  After I got changed into my gown and deli hat, I walked back to my cubicle and our doctor was looking over our chart, she said we had 2 beautiful strong embryos, but 2 not so strong that needed to be left in culture for longer to see if they survive to blastocysts on Day 5 for cryopreservation.  And then off she went….there was no discussion.  So I guess we are doing our transfer today then.  I turned to Chris and said is that OK?? And he shook his head in a manner that was like sure why not.

The nurse took my vitals and I started to sip my bottle of water; she warned me not to drink too much because I wouldn’t be able to pee until an hour after the transfer :-s  I drank 3/4s of a bottle of water and that was plenty…in fact probably a little bit too much. Chris got changed into his ‘egg packing factory suit’ – he looked awesome!  He was going to come into the surgical room with me! Brucie bonus!  He was well trained by the nurse on when to take photos of the embryos and where he would sit for the procedure.

IVF1_Chris

Twit-twoo!!!!

IVF1_Both_of_Us

As we were waiting, I overheard the lady in the cubicle next to me begin to cry.  She was going in for her egg retrieval and had just had her Intra-venous drip inserted.  The nurse asked her what was making her sad (I like this nurse, she clearly has much experience with these kind of situations).  The lady said she was afraid of going to sleep.  As the nurse explained the process and how it was just like taking a strong sleeping pill, all I wanted to do was pull back the curtain and giver her the biggest hug ever and tell her it’s OK, it is no where near as bad as general anesthetic and you are going to be just fine – I know it’s scary but it’s going to be easy and won’t hurt.  But of course this is a big no-no, talking to other patients.

After about 30 minutes of waiting I was taken into the surgery room on the trolley (very lazy!!!) and I scooted onto the table.  I put my knees in stirrups this time and I was fully bare and exposed to the world.  Unpleasant.  Chris was sat behind me so he could hold my hand.

The surgery room

The surgery room

The doctor knocked on the embryology lab door to give the go-ahead to get the embryos prepared.  We watched on a TV screen to check that the embryos had our name on the petri-dish and then we saw our two embryos for about 5 seconds!

Our two little 8 cell embryos - AKA HuckleBERRY and HuckleBERINA (because they look like raspberries)

Our two little 8 cell embryos – AKA HuckleBERRY and HuckleBERINA (because they look like raspberries)

They did look pretty good!  They looked nice in shape and symmetry, the doctor was very complimentary about them.  Then two embryologists came into the surgery room, read my wrist band and asked me my name – this is performed by two people so absolutely no mistakes are ever made getting the wrong embryo in the wrong patient!!! The embryologists went away to prepare our embryos.  After this moment, the doctor checked my abdomen, both physically and using an ultrasound (not a transvaginal ultrasound for a change woohoo!!!) except my bladder was full, I was constipated and still sore from the egg retrieval –  I winced the whole way through.  Everything seemed good and he inserted the speculum  and washed out my uterus.  The nurse came and told me that from what she could see on the screen, my ovaries were super enlarged still and I have a mild case Ovarian Hyper stimulation syndrome that will go away soon, I just need to keep up my fluid intake.  Then the doctor knocked again on the embryo lab’s door.  This time the embryologist came in with a soft flexible catheter with the two embryos ready and loaded to be inserted into my uterus.  Using the ultrasound as a guide he inserted the catheter and we ‘watched’ the embryos be ‘puffed’ in by air into my uterus.  I say ‘watched’…I could barely see the screen from the angle I was at.  But I nodded my head not wanting to disappoint him that I missed it.  Before the speculum was removed the catheter was given back to the embryologist just to check under a microscope that the embryos were not still in the catheter.  A few moments later the speculum was removed which was a huge relief, it wasn’t painful, rather very uncomfortable I wanted to pee right there on the table.  I was scooted back onto the trolley and wheeled back to my cubicle where we were told not to go anywhere for 1hr…not even the toilet!!! Eeeek!!

We read a bit and then played a game of crib whilst we waited.   I won!  If I hadn’t have won, I am not sure Chris would have survived the rest of the day.  That made time fly by and then it was time to go!!! We were given a couple of souvenirs…the petri dish our embryos grew in and a little card with the results of our egg retrieval.  Chris took the deli hat too – I think he likes it a bit too much.

IVF1_souvenirs_blank

Souvenirs!!! Petri dish our embryos grew in, report card and a deli hat. Stash!!!!

How do I feel today? I had a terrible night’s sleep dreaming that we would turn up to the clinic with just 1 weak embryo to transfer 😦  But now we have done the transfer I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I feel like I can get on with life right now and enjoy this summer!

What are my symptoms? I woke up with similar pains from the egg retrieval, tender, hard bloated stomach (very hard) and constipated.  I was waddling.  When we got home I sent Chris out to get prune juice, prunes and apricots.  The prune juice worked it’s wonders about an hour or so later.  The nurse told me not to strain, so when it was time to go to the toilet I tried my hardest to just let it all come out, but seriously, once it did all come out, it was the BEST feeling.  I am no longer waddling in pain and my stomach is not so hard anymore.  So I think most of my problem with pain was constipation.  I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Diarrhea variant) so I am currently sat here with a gurgling tummy, and I am soooo pleased I am back to normal! (Fingers crossed anyway!!)

How does Chris feel today?  Feels good.  He looks forward to this 2 week wait being over. (He is a man of many words :-))

Any results? Two 8 cell embryos transferred and safely inside me – huckleberry and huckleberina because they look like raspberries and Chris always talks about calling his son Huckleberry.  So let’s just say this is a compromise!!  2 other embryos are growing in culture hopefully over the next couple of days, fingers crossed they survive and can be frozen. I’m  Pregnant until proven otherwise.

What’s next?  Enjoy the two week wait.  My mum is visiting so she has been brilliant so far putting up with everything tht is going on, so I’m hoping to take some time off to enjoy some local sights and sounds.  The pregnancy test will be the day my mum flies out in 13 days.

Weight. OK so I think I have actually lost weight, if you account for all the fluid I have taken on and my waist size.  This isn’t surprising considering I have reduced my intake of food because it won’t physically go in!!

Waist.  Still bloated, but hopefully it will improve tonight now I have relieved myself!!!

Boobs. Starting to feel tender from all the hormones!

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 Fat chance!  It’s miserable out. Plus I’m on bed rest so I’m pleased about this fact!

150806_IVF1_Stats

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF DIARY VOL I: 04 Aug 2015

IVF_Diary_Vol1fMedication(s) administered and dosage(s). 

Doxycycline to reduce chance of infection after the egg retrieval.

Acetaminophen/Codeine #3 300/30mg 1 every 4-6hrs as needed for pain – although I took one this morning, I’m afraid this is not helping with my constipation and I don’t think it is helping with the pain, so I’m not taking anymore.

Colace, to help counter my constipation.

Vivelle Dot Patches x2 (Estrogen usually administered to menopausal women).  These are super easy – they stick to my abdomen…now that is something I can do myself!!! I love the fact that they say on the box “Do not use if you are pregnant”. HA!!!

Progesterone in oil – 1mg.  Oh my goodness, this is an intra-muscular injection with a 1.5″ needle. I lay down on the bed on my front.  Using a cool pack I iced my buttock cheek in the top right hand quadrant where Chris injected it.  I hardly felt the needle going in as a result of the ice numbness, but I felt like Chris was pushing really hard so I said he doesn’t need to put pressure on it when it’s in me!  He told me that there was hardly an imprint of the needle on my skin, he wasn’t pushing! I guess that is just how a needle feels going into the muscle!  Afterwards we massaged the area and then I applied a heat pad to the injection area.  Owwww I feel like someone has kicked me in the butt cheek!! It’s really isn’t so bad, but I am not the one adminstering it, so I can look away!!

Medical procedures undertaken. No procedures on me per se, but my mature eggs were “ICSI’d” yesterday afternoon and our fertilised eggs are being looked after by the embryologists so they develop into embryos.

What are my symptoms? I am massively bloated – my waist increased by 4cm and I put on 3lbs despite the fact that I hardly ate anything yesterday.  I am constipated, I poo usually 3 times a day and so far nothing.  I’ve taken some Colace which takes 12-36 hours to work – not soon enough.  My bowels and stomach also hurt whenever I pee and fart.  Farting releases a little bit of the pressure, but does not relieve me!  It hurts when I walk, the pain is not getting any better.  The nurse said I should call tomorrow if the pain continues to worsen or I put on anymore weight because I could be at risk from Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome.  They would need to do an ultrasound to check how my ovaries are doing.  I really really hope this starts to go away so I can go to work tomorrow plus I want to be better before my transfer.  In the meantime the nurse advised drinking liquids, not just water but juice, gator aid and soup.  Eat small portions….I am soooo hungry, but I can’t physically eat a whole meal right now!!

Day1

Day 1 – pronuclear stage: 1 cell with 2 dots in the middle.  This indicates a normally fertilized egg with each dot representing genetic materials from the mum and the dad.

Any results? This morning I received a phone call from the IVF nurse co-ordinator who gave me an update on egg/embryo status.  When I answered the phone she sounded so somber I thought she was going to tell me it had been a complete failure.  But here is what she told me.  Yesterday they retrieved 9 eggs, 6 were mature, this morning 4 had successfully fertilised, 2 had not, but they may be late developers and so they will call me if they do make it.  If they don’t call, they haven’t made it, and 4 will be the number.  (They didn’t call in the end 😦 ). I won’t get any more updates until I arrive on Thursday for my transfer procedure (3 days). I’m not sure I like the fact that we won’t receive any more updates, but at the same time, what can I do about it if I was told if they are progressing well?  Nothing, so I guess this way it stops us thinking too much about it.

How do I feel today? I am trying to stay positive, I won’t lie that I cried for a very brief while after I got off the phone from the nurse.    I was initially upset that less than 1 in 2 eggs made it through to fertilisation.  I couldn’t help but think how somehow this is my failure.  But I realise this is ridiculous, so I cried for only a minute.

How does Chris feel today? Poor Chris found the intra-muscular injection quite traumatic, I feel really bad.  But he did it!!!  I will let him tell you all about it in a separate post.  He is quite pragmatic about the number of fertilised eggs – 4 today seems like a good number to come away with.  However he feels confused, like me, about whether we should wait for a 5 day transfer.

What’s next?   I am not sure about the 3 versus 5 day transfer.  We do get to discuss things with the doctor on Thursday, but we haven’t talked about it since we started our IVF cycle.  I’ve read a lot about the fact that if an embryo doesn’t make it to blastocyst stage at 5 days then it is unlikely to have ever been a viable pregnancy anyway (I am not sure how they can really know that for sure).  So wouldn’t it be better to let them get to 5 days to see if they survive to blastocyst stage rather than having false hope with a day 3 transfer and waiting two weeks to see it fail;?  This seems like the worst kind of gambling!!!

Weight. I’ve gained 3lbs of whatever over night, it’s not food that’s for sure!!! I’ll keep an eye on it.

Waist.  My waist has bloated 4cm in the last 24hrs, which might not sound like much, but it sure is a significant gain for me over this time period!

Boobs. NSTR.

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 I’m not really allowed in the sun because I am taking doxycycline 😦 but I did sneak in a bit (wearing sun cream of course) this morning and had a slow waddle down to the beach.

150804_IVF1_Stats

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.