The next thing to try

Tomorrow we meet with a counselor, actually a PhD psychologist, to learn all about the emotional aspects of building our family with donor sperm.

My therapist, who specializes in baby loss, infertility and parenthood after, reminded me last summer during the IVF to consider donor sperm as a possible back-up, so I wasn’t pinning all my hopes on the IVF. I didn’t want to do it, I did pin all of my hopes on the IVF working, and I was devastated when it didn’t. The massive amount of pain from the extra blood that had hemorrhaged into my abdomen didn’t help.

I have been trying to come to terms with this idea since then. I didn’t want to give up on having a child that was genetically related to my husband (The Dad). There is so much about him that I admire and treasure and hope he passes on to our kids, and I wasn’t willing to let that go. I would have been much more able to give up on passing on my DNA to our kids. That’s mostly because of what my mom has always called “defective brain genes”, the hereditary Persistent Depressive Disorder I get from her.

The Dad was much more willing to move towards donated sperm. He is very logical and patient. He knows that he will be the dad, he knows how incredibly influential environment is for people, and he knows that experiencing, and especially watching me experience a fifth miscarriage would be extremely painful for him.

Last fall we met with my therapist’s clinic partner to talk about being ok with it. She had her children through egg donation and help us through a lot of the conversation. But I still wasn’t convinced. It just seemed like giving up on full genetic siblings for the children we had lost, which seemed like a betrayal.

What finally did it for me was something an OBGYN said to me. I only saw her because I needed urgent appointments and couldn’t get one with my regular one. I had some crazy pelvic pain, (which is being successfully treated as related to the crazy upper left quadrant abdominal pain I’d been having) and some strange bleeding from cycle day 23 to 28 last cycle (which appears to have been weird and undiagnosable, but nothing to worry about).

So I saw this doctor, and she said, “You’re 33 and you want to have 2 kids, it’s time to start trying something different.” I told her my issue with it, and she said it didn’t have to be the end of the line for trying to conceive with The Dad’s sperm. If we had one with a donor, and tried again naturally after, a loss would probably be less traumatic. It would no longer be all of my children. I wouldn’t be a generally-unacknowledged mother. I know I wouldn’t have as hard of a time pulling myself out from under when the most important person in the world needed me.

Technically one of my brothers is a half-brother and one is originally a half-brother, but adopted as a full brother, and they’re my brothers. I never mention the half-brother part, except on those rare instances that I’m explaining why I just mentioned my brother’s dad. There’s no reason it should be any different for my children.

We have already decided that this will not be a secret. If we do successfully have a child this way, we want him or her to know their history without shame. There are medical reasons he or she should know about it. Finding out later in life is often traumatic, and we don’t want that.

Our children are ours, they are loved, and we want them to know that.

P.S. This OBGYN, who I’m 90% sure I’m switching to, said something else that has made a difference. I said I wasn’t sure my antidepressants were doing enough because I was still so sad. She said that I had been going through a lot of stuff that just sucked, and it was reasonable to be sad about that. I liked that. Not the fact that it’s true, but the validation.

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I’m back!

Tomorrow it will be a year since we lost Greg. It’s been more than four and a half years since we started on this journey to parenthood. We still have no living children.

In June I had two weeks of abdominal pains, and decided that the answer was to go down to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where they have the country’s best GI department. I made an appointment for mid-July, but the pain stopped by the end of June, so I cancelled and moved forward with the IVF plan we had made.

My last post was our IVF egg maturation and retrieval schedule. I started Lupron on time, my first shot I forgot the pinch and fast jab instructions and bruised really badly. I can still see it. I was completely exhausted and pretty pissy for all three weeks of injections. After an insane number of transvaginal ultrasounds, (seriously, one day I had to have 2, because the first nurse couldn’t find my left ovary) I had my egg retrieval on July 24th. We got 8 eggs, 7 mature.

About 7 that night, the pain had gotten so bad that anytime I moved I had to scream and cry and hyperventilate a little. My husband took me in to the ER. Hooray! Another transvaginal ultrasound! At least this one I had IV dilaudid first. They found that my right ovary had been hemorrhaging, and was 8 x 10 cm (normal is 2 x 3.5 cm). They put in a large bore IV in case I needed a transfusion, but it took two tries. I stayed overnight and they checked my hemoglobin every three hours. Normal is between 12 and 15 g/100mL. My usual level is 14.5. It bottomed out at 9.3. I was sent home when it started going back up, meaning that the bleeding had stopped. Actually they wanted to discharge me when the falling numbers slowed, but I refused to leave until it went up.

We had gone to the hospital connected to my RE’s office so they could call him and get his input. He didn’t even return the calls and pages until Friday morning. He actually did show up for a few seconds. He emphasized that I had had a little bleeding and it was causing a little pain. I made an appointment to go to the office Saturday morning to have some more blood checks. It took the lab tech there four tries to get blood, bringing my count of needle pokes for Thursday-Saturday to 14.

Four eggs fertilized. On day five, scheduled biopsy day, one had stopped growing and the other three hadn’t grown fast enough. On day 6, the last chance for biopsy, none of the embryos had enough cells to be eligible for biopsy.

The whole thing had failed before we even got any answers.

There was no hope anymore. It was all over.

So, it was another ER trip, this time for suicidal ideation. I couldn’t bear another stint inpatient, so I agreed to partial hospitalization, a three week, six hour a day, five day a week, intense therapy program. It helped.

That’s enough update for now.

We have a schedule!

We had our consent signing yesterday with the IVF clinic. So many initials and signatures! We had already made decisions on what happens to extra frozen embryos in all the possible scenarios, so it went pretty fast.

The important and and exciting part though was the schedule and protocol. Aetna, our insurance company, has been taking a month to approve pre-authorizations for infertility medications, so we are delayed another month.

I start birth control again on the 15th of June.

Lupron injections start on July 2nd.

Last day of birth control pills July 7th.

Baseline ultrasound July 11th.

Follistim and Menopur start July 14th (my dad’s birthday)

Egg Retrieval sometime around July 25th.

Biopsy 5-6 days after.

PGD results about a week after that.

At least 6 weeks from Egg Retrieval to Frozen Embryo Transfer, if there are any good ones. That’s September 5th-ish. Except they don’t do them the week of Labor Day, so the earliest opportunity is September 8th. Pregnancy tests likely would be 14 and 16 days later.

So, September 24th is the absolute earliest we would know if it worked. There are many earlier steps at which we would know it didn’t work.

I so hope it works.

On the IVF Front

I had my sonohysterogram yesterday. First Nurse Vicky weighed me, and cheered with me that I had officially lost 6 pounds.

The doctor arrived a little later and started with thoroughly explaining the procedure. He’s so wonderful with things like that. I already knew, but knowing that I knew the right thing made me more at ease. We began with a transvaginal ultrasound. I’m totally used to those by now.

My right ovary was a little further from the probe and where the egg retrieving needle with be than he would have liked, but it didn’t seem stuck, so he said that was fine. It also has one small cyst, but that’s not worrisome. The left ovary is much more well behaved.

The scapula and the cervix cleaning were unpleasant, but over soon. Then, quick as a whip, he did the practice Embryo Transfer, to measure where the embryo goes, so we can all be sure it’s tucked safe and sound in my uterus.

The actual filling a balloon with saline inside my uterus was very strange, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Vicky and the doctor were both great. They explained everything on the screen, warned of every fluid increase or decrease and almost made me feel as if something totally different from what was actually happening was happening. My uterus has no abnormalities, which was the expected result, but it’s so good to know that there’s a good home for the embryo once we find the good one.

Twenty minutes after the doctor walked in, I was dressed and on my way back to work. Easy Peasy.

Next week we have the consent singing and stim planning.

Phone meeting with PGD people

They wanted to make sure we knew some things. The RE had already told us that they couldn’t distinguish between a balanced translocation like The Dad has and just normal chromosomes.

New info to us, is that on average, people doing PGD for the same reasons as we are have 15-20% normal embryos. On average, people with normal chromosomes doing PGD have 45% normal embryos. 

Not terrific odds, but much lower chances of miscarriage. We are, of course, moving forward, but I’m less sure it’s going to work. We need 9 day 5 blastocysts (statistically) to get 1 normal one. I know that if we test just one it’s possible it will be good, but I’m scared.

I’ve had two acupuncture appointments, and I feel so much better, nausea, digestively. I haven’t needed nearly as many Zofran for the nausea, and there’s only pain if there’s a cat kneading my lower abdomen. He is an excellent acupuncturist. He asks a lot of questions, with follow-ups, he makes sure each needle is comfortable and that I don’t get too cold with my bare feet and bare belly during the relaxation time.

I also started allergy shots last Friday. I have never in my life had such a high level of nasal allergy symptoms. Usually I just have itchy eyelids that peel and get sick easily. But the last two days I have had the runniest nose and a crazy itchy throat, it’s terrible.

Additionally, there’s another health snag, which hopefully is nothing. I have to have a colonoscopy next Wednesday to investigate the bleeding I had last Thursday. There’s been no new blood, so I’m guessing it’s too late to figure out where it came from. So, low fiber Sunday and Monday, liquids only Tuesday and then a whole bunch of Miralax with Gatorade. I am not looking forward to it.  Also no iron containing supplements for 7 days prior. I assume going a week without the prenatal more than two months before my FET is fine.

Why can’t my body just work right? I mean celiac + some other unknown digestive issues, Depression (19 years now), allergies + colds, and not being able to hold on to babies, is a lot of things wrong at 32.

Moving forward

We have a bunch of things going on for getting me more healthy and moving forward with IVF and PGD.

First news is that the biopsies from the endoscopy showed that I have celiac disease, so I’ve started a gluten free diet. It’s been a little over two weeks. I haven’t noticed a difference except more cravings for stuff I can’t have. I’ve been nauseous most days, but no pain. But Zofran helps a lot.

All the results from the RE testing came back normal, except sperm morphology, which wasn’t very abnormal and the nurse said it was fine. So good news.

I also did the allergy testing and they found that I’m definitely allergic to cats and dogs, rabbits, dust, mites, and some pollens. So I’m starting allergy shots on Friday. The crazy allergy shot plan is to increase doses every week for four months (we’ll stop the increasing after the FET), then maintain levels for three years of every two weeks, then every three weeks for a year, and finally a year of every four weeks. I’ve told the RE and he says it’s fine.

I’m also starting up acupuncture again on Friday. It’s across the hall from the allergist. Hopefully I like them AND they take my insurance, since I’ve found one of each in Minnesota, but not both. They say they take my insurance, but their website list of insurance accepted doesn’t list mine. RE says that’s fine too. I call them a lot. They seem used to it.

I started the birth control cycle on Sunday. We have a consult with the PGD testing place on Monday. Then we have training for IVF on May 13th.

First Visit with the RE

The whole visit took almost 2 hours. A large portion of it was actually with the doctor, which I appreciated. He was great. He really explained everything.

We started with going over our history. He agrees that IVF with PGD is the way to go. He did an ultrasound and everything looked good, then a huge number of blood tests, 9 vials. They’ll call me when those come back. I like the nurses and the lab people and I’ve got a good feeling.

One of the tests is for von Willebrand’s disease. My heavy periods and all the bleeding I had after my wisdom teeth pulled are symptoms of it. If I have that he will want me to see a hematologist before we can start.

I’ve got an appointment with an allergist coming up and an endoscopy to see why I’m nauseous so often. He wants to wait to schedule anything until those are done.

He also told me that I need to lose some weight so that the egg stimulation meds work better. So I will work harder on that.

It looks like we’ll be able to do the cycle on birth control starting the end of April, then the stim and retrieval cycle in June and if we get good embryos, a frozen embryo transfer in July.

All in all, it was very good, and I’m very hopeful.