Monday, December 28, 2009

quick post and request for prayer

I just wanted to do a quick post to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  And also to ask for prayer.  We found out about three days before Christmas that my father-in-law was transfered to hospice care.  This has been a difficult year for both of our families between my uncle's passing, my father's health issues, a failed IVF, a miscarriage and now the impending passing of my father-in-law.  Please pray for his comfort.  I will not be posting for a bit as they live in a very rural area where we will be traveling to be with him.  Hugs to all, Mrs. Hammer.

 


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Self Preservation

I have been making efforts all week to plan for fun things that will be healing. One of them even happened today – a chair massage. Our office wellness committee has a women come in once a month who charges $1 a minute. $15 = 15 minutes of heaven. I didn’t even realize how tight my shoulders were until she attempted to loosen them. Holy sore but now I feel great.

I also got a seasonal flu shot yesterday. Not exactly fun but I had been putting it off with IVF and then the pregnancy. So it was about time. I don’t qualify yet for the swine vaccine but those will open up in the next few weeks for the general public. I figure if I get them now then I won’t have to worry later. Since my job entails clinics with pregnant women, children and babies everywhere it’s a must on many different levels.

Then I booked our January snowy cabin in the woods for JUST US. Won’t this be blissful sitting here…


Drinking some of this…



while the snow falls outside? Can’t wait. BUT it gets better! I have two gift certificates for a local spa that I have yet to use. So what would be better than the morning of our weekend getaway to spend it doing this…



and this…


and this…

I sure can’t think of anything.

On the m/c front, I had my blood drawn last Thursday which came back negative so now the m/c is complete. So I asked my nurse when I should expect my period and was surprised to hear it would be 4-6 weeks. I had no idea it would take that long but essentially it’s a full cycle once your HCG is gone. It’s likely that I won’t ovulate but some women do, like my cousin-in-law, but I’m thinking I might end up being one of those women. My ovaries are starting to get sore and (TMI) I’ve some very obvious CM going on down there. So we’ll see. I haven’t temped or used an OPK yet just cause I had no idea what to expect with a post m/c cycle but I might run out and get some OPKs.

Hammer and I were finally able to do the sperm DNA testing. That was eventful. We were ‘prepped’ and ready to go for collection last Thursday when it all fell through. We are working with a company who sends you the collection kit and then the day of the collection (which is only done on Tues/Wed/Thur) they are to ship you a perishable transport container filled with dry ice to pack the sample and send back. Both Hammer and I had taken the afternoon off of work because FEDEX priority was to arrive at noon with our ice. Well we were sitting around waiting and the package never arrived. When I called the company the women on the phone could see that I had called twice, spoke with a representative, and that the order had been entered but the person never officially submitted it. We ended up having to reschedule for the 15th so yesterday we took the afternoon off again but this time the package was on time and back on a plane by 5pm. We’ll have to wait 12 days for the results.

In the meantime I’m just focusing on the holidays. So that means peppermint bark, gingerbread cookies and wrapping presents – and counting down the days till our snowy cabin getaway!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Hits, They Keep On Coming

First, thank you all for your input, comments, and opinions on my Chicago situation. It was so affirming of what I was feeling. I wish I had IRL friends who were even half as supportive as all of you are so I just can’t thank you enough. Ok now to the meat of the last few days.

Thursday of last week, after a horrible night of sleeping I had typed up a huge email to Hammer rambling on about how I don't think we should go to Chicago with them, OR nor should they come on our snowy-cabin-in-the-woods-in-January-retreat that they invited themselves to (more about that later*). At first he was hesitant and asking if I was really sure but that it was in their court if they could afford it now that they were expecting.....errrrrttttttt (tires squealing). "No dear," I told him, "it’s still in our court to say we can't go if it's not healthy for us, mainly me at this time." He said we'd talk about it when I got home.

Later that evening, after I had made it back around 4pm, we were supposed to go over to our friends house (D [husband] and N [wife]). I contacted them and cancelled because I was just too exhausted to go anywhere. The next day I was chatting on the phone with my mom getting her opinion on the situation and she agreed that Chicago was a no-go. I popped on to the computer with her still on the phone so I could email her some Christmas ideas and saw an email from our friend D who has currently been out of work for 5 months, it was titled “Good News.” I told my mom to hang on a minute because I wanted to read this email from D (she knew he was out of work) hoping that this email was a job offer. Guess what it was actually about? Oh you did guess it didn’t you! Yes, they are indeed expecting their second child, 11 ½ weeks to be exact which for them meant they got pregnant almost three months after he lost his job. Well doesn’t that beat all! And according to the email they had wanted to tell us the other night but I cancelled on them. Could you imagine if we had gone? I don’t think I could have handled it and probably would have cried right in front of them. I mean seriously people, in my email to them cancelling I wrote, “I’m sorry to cancel but I seem to be struggling with insomnia due to the miscarriage. The dropping in hormones is causing me to have issues with falling or staying asleep so I was up over half the night last night. I’m so sorry to cancel but this continues to be a difficult process for me.” Now tell me, would your first thought be, “Oh the Hammers aren’t coming tonight because she is still struggling with her miscarriage. We should just email them that we’re pregnant.” I totally lost it on the phone but thank God it was with my mother who was such a comfort.

Later that evening when Hammer got home he asked if I had seen the email from D. I asked him how he felt about it. His response was jealousy and sadness. While he is very good friends with D this was a big blow to him. We had been struggling for a year and half with TTC when they had announced they were pregnant with their first child after just one try. Hammer said that after he got the email he immediately called up our other friends and told them that we would not be going to Chicago. He said that he didn’t want me to have to deal with being the one to tell them what with two back to back pregnancy announcements. I was so thankful for that. It has been a difficult week. I’m so wrought with emotions it’s ridiculous. That makes two couples where the husband is out of work and they are pregnant. In a sarcastic tone I told Hammer that I'd figured out how to get pregnant and that he needed to quit his job. He replied back, "No problem, I'll put in my notice on Monday."

The strange thing is that earlier that week I had been feeling hopeful and now it’s the complete opposite. I know I should be happy for them but I just feel more left behind than ever. I have been praying and praying for direction, for anything right now but all I’ve received is silence. And that has been the hardest part.

I will (hopefully) have my last blood test Thursday of this week and am praying that my results are <5 and that my period is not far behind it. Maybe if I could just move forward by getting my period and ending this cycle I will feel better, maybe. I’m trying desperately to keep my eyes on the Lord so that I’m not overwhelmed by all the emotions that come from friend's pregnancy announcements (frustration, jealously, anger, and sadness). I just don’t want to drown in them and get caught in a state of sadness instead of trying to be positive about the next few months, taking time to focus on my marriage, and remember that God still has a plan for us.

Hammer and I have planned a weekend getaway in January to hopefully spend a quiet, peaceful weekend alone together. IF is hard in so many ways and even though our marriage is strong we just feel that with everything that has gone on this year (my dad, 2 IVF’s, a miscarriage) that we need time to just appreciate one another. We happened to mention this to our Chicago-trip friends pre-pregnancy announcement (and yes we did mention this as a weekend alone) and the wife just jumped on it saying how we should get cabins together instead of going to Chicago and how fun that would be blah, blah, blah. I didn’t know how to get out of it but thankfully we don’t have to worry about it anymore. Unfortunately I think this all may have wrecked my relationship with her in that I don’t feel that I can confide in her about IF anymore but in some ways I think this is for the best.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Am I Being Selfish?

Ok, I have to ask your advice and opinion. Last night, after learning about my friend's miracle pregnancy, I spent some time in prayer before going to bed. I prayed to God, sharing my heart, struggles, fears and asking Him when it will finally be our turn. It was difficult because while I don't feel abandoned or forgotten I do feel tired, worn, and emotionally drained. I told Him that I'm not sure how much more of this I can take and prayed that the end will come soon. Actually I pleaded that the end would come soon as well as prayed for Him to give us direction.

This miscarriage has left us floundering a bit. We're not sure where we should be going or what direction on this journey is God's will for our lives. That's why a future IVF cycle is in the future because we are throwing it out there but just not sure when that may be. But we'd rather throw it out there and see if God gives us the nodd or not. It's the same thing with adoption, it's out there but we just don't know if that is where we are supposed to be headed yet. I just feel like a kid in the back seat asking God, "Are we there yet?" with no concept of where we are headed so the journey seems endless.

When I tried to fall asleep it was torture. I was wide awake and all I could think about was my friend and how I was no longer pregnant. We had been planning a New Years trip to Chicago this year and when we found out we were pregnant we laughed about how I would be the designated walker (since we won't have a car), how I might not make it to midnight etc. Yesterday I had called her because I had found a great deal on a hotel and wanted to know if they still wanted to go this year. Instead I was greated with her announcement, which is exciting for them, but now I'm in the inverse situation. Now if we go to Chicago she will be the designated walker, and she might not make it to midnight. And all I will be thinking about is that this should be me or us, how fun if it would have been the both of us. But it's not to be. And now I think I'm realizing that this situation may not be the best one for me to be in while I am still healing from our loss. This has brought up a lot of emotion about our miscarriage that I had yet to start feeling. I don't know if I was blocking it out or if I hadn't thought that far in advance until now.

She is a very sweet person and very supportive but she is not a 'true' infertile and does not understand the pain, emotional toll, and the level of sensitivity that the pregnancy topic requires around an infertile. What I mean by that is that they hadn't even tried yet to get pregnant before. This was a total fluke where her meds just didn't arrive on time and low-and-behold she ovulated and got pregnant. All they knew is that it might be a problem but they had yet to suffer through months of failed trying, negative pregnancy tests, multiple doctors appointments, the side effect of fertility drugs and the never-ending longing for the allusive baby. So here I am on the phone with her rattling on about how she is now pregnant, and can she eat soft cheeses, and what about lunch meat, and all her symptoms, and how she can't drink in Chicago but I can drink for her now and on and on and on. She never stopped to think that maybe this hurt because she was excited. I can't blame her but I think a real infertile would have known to wear some kid gloves in that conversation. So I'm not sure that I even want to be there with them when I'm mourning the loss of our pregnancy while she prattles on about hers. I just don't think that is a healthy situation to put myself in. But then I think, am I being selfish? Am I spoiling all the fun because she has what I want? What do you think?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Playing Catch Up

Well there is a lot to update on since my last post. For ease I'll put it in bullet points:

  • I had blood work to check my HCG levels the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. My RN called the next day to say that they went from 5,000+ down to 600 which is awesome.
  • Hammer and I spent Thanksgiving with his family this year. It was a nice time but honestly his mom is a very plain cook and I really, really missed my family's cooking. I think I'll have to make my family's traditional stuffing just to get my fix. She also has an obsession with the giblets and puts them in everything, egh. I'm sorry but I know what the liver does and it's not something I want to ingest.
  • The miscarriage bleeding lasted till Black Fr.iday which I was surprised but really happy about. I'm really hoping that I get my period soon so that I can get my body reset.
  • As some of you know on Sunday my email got hacked through my facebook account but all appears to be well now. Except that some blogger named Dewayne left a weird message on my Hijacked post. Dewayne are you my hacker? Just wondering.
  • I had to travel out of town on Monday for a Federal audit of which I was given a one month warning (surprise!) And then got a bigger surprise...I started bleeding again. I had to run back to my hotel to grab some feminine products which I brought but just didn't take some in my purse.
  • I also had to find a lab to get my blood drawn while I was out of town. Fortunately there was one right across from my hotel. Unfortunately it took FOREVER to get it done as the lady was so slow and the computer kept rejecting my information.
  • I got my results today and was really hoping that it would be zero and that the bleeding was my period but it was only 54. I say "only" but 54 is actually pretty good. I will need to get my blood drawn, hopefully, one more time to confirm that it's down below 5 which for them is = to zero. So the bleeding was probably not my period and it's gone as of today. I'll still need to be on the look out for it and this time I'm carrying 'supplies' at all times until it does.
  • I'm really, secretly, hoping that I my body resets because I'd love to start trying naturally as soon as possible. I actually have some hope that maybe, just maybe the thyroid is the missing piece. I hate to get my hopes up but they are and I'm just going to go with it. I know I said my ute needs a rest but I really just feel that my tummy, my butt and my who-ha need to stop being poked and prodded by needles and probes.
  • Finally, I have an IRL friend who is 32 and recently married for a little over a year. She has known that she has PCOS since she was about 18 years old. We have been talking about IF because she and her husband are going to start trying soon and she knows that it will be an uphill battle for them. She has been trying to eat healthier and loose some weight to prepare her body. But things are on hold until her husband can pass his nursing boards and get a job. Just a few weeks ago she and I were talking and she filled me in that her BCP were late so she could not start her new pack and had been off of them for two weeks. Now she has not been off BCP for about 8 years because it helps her body stay healthy due to her PCOS. She was describing ovulation symptoms which she thought were pregnancy symptoms but being the 'TTC expert' I told her that it was ovulation. She and her husband decided to just go for it because she had been told she would never ovulate on her own and if she was they wanted to take advantage of it and just see what happens. Well I think you all know where this is going, right? Yep she just called me moments ago and told me that she is pregnant. It's so bittersweet having just miscarried and shared the pain of that process with her. And then to suddenly hear that they are pregnant after just one random try. Although I am so happy for them because I really would never want anyone to have to experience IVF, it just hurts a bit. I wonder why they received this miracle so quickly when we have been praying for so long, we thought that maybe this last pregnancy was our chance only to have it taken away. I don't think I'll ever really understand why we have been given this trial or why we continue to be left behind by friends and fellow infertiles in the elusive chase for a baby. I wonder at what point will this journey end? At what point will God say, "Alright, it's finally time" and give us the blessing of a child. Oh what I would give to have insight into God's plan for our family! So my fellow IF's (and yes I even mean those of you who are now pregnant and or mommies) will you help us out? Hammer, my family and I are praying for our own miracle to finally come. We are specifically praying that God would allow us to get pregnant before we have to do our final IVF. I know that so many of you wonderful ladies have already been praying for us which I cherish so much already as you are all in my prayers as well. That's why I wanted to fill you in on our specific prayer if you'd like to pray along with us.

IVF #2 Summary

I wanted to post the timeline of our second IVF cycle to close it out so here it is:


  • August 4 - meet with Dr. F to talk about what happend and getting cycle #2 underway. Great news for IVF #2

  • August 12 - progesterone check Results = 1.3 on drugs to start period.

  • August 29 - AF finally makes her appearance!

  • August 31st - lab for day 3 FSH = 8 (still suppressed by Lupron); start BCP

  • August 31 - September 19 - Take BCP

  • September 13 - Oct 2nd - start Lupron 10 units

  • September 14 - TSH draw results = 2.93 (cut off is 2.5); start synthroid 25 mcg/d

  • September 14 - October 7th - begin acupuncture

  • September 30th - baseline ultrasound and baseline E2

  • October 3rd - October 12th - start Bravelle (4 vials/d) and Luveris (dosage 1 vial/d); drop Lupron 5 units

  • October 7th - follie check ultrasound #1 and E2 check R: 12mm, 10mm x2, 9m, and 8mm; L:12mm, 11.5mm, 9mm, and 8mm; E2: 195; Lining 7mm.

  • October 9th - follie check ultrasound #2 and E2 check. R: 16.5mm, 16mm, 15mm, 14mm; L: 15mm, 14mm, 12mm, 10mm; E2: 759; Lining 10mm.

  • October 10th - follie check ultrasound #3 and E2 check. R: 19mm, 16mm x3; L: 17mm, 16mm, 12mm; E2: 1,077.

  • October 11th - Trigger HCG shot 10pm

  • October 13th - egg retrival, 7 beautiful embies fertilized!

  • October 16th - embryo transfer of 2-8 cell embryos (grade 1 and 2)

  • October 20 - progesterone 129

  • October 27th - 11dp3dt (14dpo) beta test results = 24

  • October 29th - 13dp3dt (16dpo) beta #2 test results = 30

  • November 2nd - 17dp3dt (20dpo) beta #3 test results = 107

  • November 4th - 19dp3dt (22dpo) beta #4 test results = 292

  • November 9th - 24dp3dt (27dpo) beta #5 test results = 1,358

  • November 12th - 5w 2d u/s shows no signs of a gestational sac

  • November 16th - 6w6d beta #6 test results = 5,000

  • November 17th - 7w u/s shows gestational sac measuring at 5w

  • November 20th - induce miscarriage with Cytotec

  • November 24th - beta#7 test results 600

  • December 1st - beta #8 test results 54

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hijacked

Well for those of you who are in my yahoo contacts list or who popped into my google account you may have seen/received an email from me that I had "come down here to London, England" over the holiday weekend.

Well, surprise, I didn't. I was eating turkey with my in-laws in the good ole USA. Hopefully this didn't cause any undue concern. Seriously though, I just shelled out big $$ for two failed IVF cycles, saving for our third and final and possibly adoption. Where am I going to find money to "come down here to London, England?" Amateurs.

My dad called me at about 8am EST to let me know and I discovered I was locked out of yahoo, facebook and apparently they hacked into my google account as well...nice. I actually ran around the internets changing my passwords/emails and did change my Google but didn't check my blog because, who would post that dumb letter to a blog? I guess those idiots would.

And if you are reading, dear idiots, the reply you got back was from my dad calling your bluff. Seriously, I would never sign an email to my dad "Kind regards." And considering that in the US it's the biggest holiday weekend of the year, NOBODY would hop on a plane to go bashing around London (by themselves) instead of eating Turkey with family. Check your US holidays before hacking emails, m-kay?

Thanks for the comment Hilliary as it alerted me to the post so that I could delete it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vicoden and I, we is not friends

So Friday night was m-day, or our medicated miscarriage day. As the week ticked down I began to get more emotional about it. I started to become symptomatic again. I could feel the twinges in my uterus as the little empty sac continued to grow in the presence of the ever increasing HCG. What can I say, I make a good placenta. Now all we need is to put a baby in there. I never second guessed our decision even though I prayed every day that if there really was a baby in there that God would lay it on our hearts to not go through with it. Instead the only thing that brought me to tears was my fear that this could be the most pregnant I would ever be, ever, and it would end on Friday. And that thought alone made me want to hold off a bit longer. But I knew holding off would only put off the inevitable and I knew in my heart that there was no baby. On Friday I talked with my RN (who was out sick the day of my last u/s) and she gave me more details on what to expect and the up coming weeks of blood draws to make sure the HCG continued to go down. She recommended that I not take it over night as she worried I would not sleep well. I decided to go to my yoga class at lunch thinking that would be a good thing to do to keep me relaxed considering the night ahead. Except that during some of our moves I had to lay on my stomach, which made my boobies hurt, which made me think about every thing and I found myself crying big aligator tears while in child's pose.

Hammer and I decided to split the difference so I started the cytotec at 6:30pm last night. I shoved 3 little white pills up my who-ha and downed a vicoden. I was prescribed 1-2 vicoden every 4-6 hours but thought I'd start with one since I'm really sensitive to drugs. I knew that it would take about 2 hours before the cramping would begin so I thought I'd get on top of my pain by taking the vicoden early. I just did not anticipate how painful it would be. At about 8:30-9:00 pm I lay there with Hammer on the couch trying to watch a movie to take my mind off of the pain. By about 9:30-10:00 I was death gripping the couch, tears streaming down my face. My RN was right, I would not have been able to sleep through this. I took a second vicoden around 9:30 pm as the one was just not doing anything. Around 10:30-11:00pm I figured the first one was out of my system and I would be safe to take a third since the pain continued to increase. Oh what a mistake. Somehow I had managed to fall asleep on the couch while Hammer played video games. As the night wore on I continued to sleep on the couch and Hammer did not want to wake me so he fell asleep on the other loveseat so I would not be alone and thank God he did. I had apparently become dehydrated which intensified the dizziness effect of the vicoden. So when I tried to get up to use the restroom around 2:00 am I started to black out, could not stand up on my own and was dry heaving. I have never felt so awful and helpless in my life. Hammer had immediately woke up to help me. I barely made it into the bathroom and Hammer had to even support me so that I would not fall of the toilet seat. This was not my finest hour. I actually almost told Hammer to call an ambulance because it was so intense. Finally I seemed get my bearings and he helped me into bed, put a damp cloth on my head, a heating pad on my tummy and held my hand until I fell asleep.

By morning I felt much better and the heating pad has been wonderful. I've been using it all day, drinking plenty of fluids and have only needed one vicoden at a time to keep the cramping in control. My RE had said that if I didn't pass a lot of tissue to take the other three Cytotec. Since was not sure if I had I ended up taking the last three around 4:30 pm today but did not have a repeat of last night's cramping. So I assume that everything that needed to pass has done so. Now we will just be doing blood draws every week until my levels are down below 5. From there I should have my period and my body should finally reset its self. Sadly this could be a month long ordeal of just getting my HCG down but it's not like we're going to jump into another round of fertility treatments anytime soon. The Hammers need a bit of a break. Actually Mrs. Hammer's ute needs a break.

Yet I know in my heart that God has not abandoned us even though we have had to go through this trial. The peace that I had on Monday remains and I know that this is not the end of the road for us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peace

On Monday I went in for my 6th HCG blood draw after stopping the PIO last Thursday. At that point I could have sworn that my levels were going down because my symptoms, aside from sore boobies, were gone. I went in yesterday at 2pm for a follow up u/s and was shocked to hear that my levels are now 5,000+, holy pete! I actually laughed, which I apologized for, but as I told him I just don’t know how to respond anymore to these levels that keep rising. My RE was finally able to see a very small gestational sac on the monitor exactly where it was supposed to be. Unfortunately it was empty and he measured it at 1 ½ to 2 weeks behind. There was no yolk sac, no fetal pole, just a small black circle.

I was already emotionally prepared as I was going to be for whatever would come as I had been praying all the way into my appointment. As we talked about options for helping the little sac to pass, since I’m not going to do it on my own anytime soon, I felt at peace. I know it’s weird. I trust that we are making a good decision about ending the pregnancy because my doctor went over everything several times, telling us again and again I don’t want to push you. Even before I left he stopped me and checked everything again just to be sure. I had been reading the Misdiagnosed Miscarriage website for stories or any sign of hope just in case but all it did was reassure me more that this was a good decision. That in and of its self is a good thing.

This Friday I will take a few pills of Cytotec vaginally at bed time, pop a few Vicoden, and hopefully go through the worst of it during the night when I’m asleep. I’d rather do it now than during Thanksgiving weekend because the week following Turkey day I have to be out of town and do not want to be far from my clinic just in case.

We also talked about options for the future. Hammer was not able to be there with me yesterday and I wish he was because I didn’t know that this would be our post-IVF follow up talk as well. Either way I think I asked everything that he and I had discussed asking our RE anyway. Our RE is willing to coordinate getting a sperm DNA fragmentation test done. That way we’ll know if Hammer needs to go on specific vitamin regime for a few months to help beef up his boys. And if we did another cycle there he suggested the micro dose flair protocol + 5 vials of Bravelle + 1 Luveris. His hope is to get enough eggs to get us to a 5 day transfer because we were pretty close this time. Hammer and I need to discuss this more because we had also tossed around traveling to an out of state clinic. Where we live, our clinic is the only one in the city so if we have to travel we’d rather just go to the best, regardless of the distance. Of course that involves getting Hammer on a plane which would not be an easy task either. And of course money becomes another issue. While our clinic's cost is half of what other people I know have paid it's still a big chunk out of our savings and traveling does not make it any cheaper. Another new development is with my prescription insurance which used to let me go wherever I wanted but as of 2010 will be forcing me to go to one specific pharmacy if I need more than a 30 day supply. I guess the question is what defines a 30 day supply by my insurance, I’m almost afraid to ask.

But then we could change our minds completely and head down the adoption path. We have a lot to pray over but first we need to get through this hurdle of saying goodbye to our little sac.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thank You for All of Your Prayers

I really struggled over what to title this post but I think it's fitting to just thank all of you who have lifted us up in your thoughts and prayers these past few weeks. I wish I could tell you that our miracle journey continued with a wonderful ultrasound experience but it was not to be this time.

Our RE was unable to find anything in my uterus. He warned us that he would not be doing any commentary in the beginning so not to worry us. But as I lay there and saw that nothing but black and white fuzziness show up on the screen I knew the outcome. Strangely he also could not find any signs of an ectopic pregnancy either. We did see two very, very small black dots in my uterus which may have been extremely underdeveloped gestational sacs that could have been the source of my elevated HCG but there was no way to really know.

I suppose we have the best outcome of the worst scenario of there being no baby. They are going to stop my PIO and just do HCG checks and another V-u/s to recheck to see that it is resolving on it's own.

Again, thank you all for your support. It's meant so much to us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Still Holding our Breath

Well we have our results from our 5th beta test…

1,358

That’s a doubling time of 85% every two days (>60% is normal) and it moves us up from borderline low to normal low. We needed it to double in 48-72 hours and we made the 72 hour mark. Holy Pete. I can’t believe we’ve made it this far. We still have not yet let ourselves feel excited or hopeful yet because there is still so much that can go wrong. We have our first ultrasound this Thursday at 2pm. If all is well we should see a yolk sac and a fetal pole. I just have to remember to breathe.

P.S. I did know that it was going to be increasing because I broke my own rule. Since I was going to have to wait from Thursday till Monday for more blood work I bought a 3 pack of FRER. Yes the good kind! I took a test on Friday and it was as dark as the control line. Then I waited until Sunday to test again and it was darker than the control line. This morning I took my last test and it was the same as Sundays. Actually at this point I’m not sure more HCG would make a difference since DARK pink is about as high as it will go. My boobies still hurt, I’m exhausted, I’ve had a few waves of nausea and certain smells are bothering me. Oh and twinges and twitches down in my lady parts. I’ve read that these are all good signs. We shall see…

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I can barely find words for this…

My HCG is now at 292.

It tripled in 48 hours.

I was prepared to hear her say that it was dropping. I was prepared to hear her say I was miscarrying. I was not prepared for this, for any of it. And I can’t yet allow myself to feel any hope either. I’m still being told it’s not viable. And yet I keep praying to God that if it is not viable that He would end this for us and He hasn’t. I feel stretched between what biologically is next to impossible and my God who is the definition of possible. When I called Hammer I could do nothing but cry because I just don’t know what to do anymore.

I will go in for more blood work on Monday and then will have an ultrasound on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

P.S. I know what my blog title says but I’m just too scared to go there yet…

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trash Picking

Yes you read that right, trash picking. It’s what Hammer and I did last night. After our phone call earlier that day which went something like this:

VOICEMAIL FROM MRS. HAMMER

“Hi G, this is Mrs. Hammer. I was just calling about my beta on Monday and wondered if I could stop taking the progesterone yet. I took a HPT on Saturday that came up negative so we're assuming that it's over. Also for a follow up appointment we’d be available Wednesday through Friday of next week. Thanks. Bye.”

CALL FROM RE'S RN LATER THAT DAY

RN: Hi Mrs. Hammer, it’s G.

ME: Hi G.

RN: We actually need you to keep taking the progesterone because your HCG went up to 107 on Monday.

ME: 1.7, right.

RN: No, 107.

ME: 1.7

RN: No, 107.

ME: What?

RN: Yeah, right now it’s probably not a viable pregnancy and there is no way we can tell yet if it’s ectopic or a blighted ovum. We need you to go in for more blood work tomorrow and based upon that test we’ll decide what to do from there. Now you mentioned a pregnancy test that came up negative?

ME: Uh, yeah, um, well I took one on Saturday. It was one of those cheap internet ones that they say to toss after 10 minutes as the results would be inaccurate. So when it was still negative at 10 minutes we pitched it and assumed that it was over.

RN: Well those really aren’t reliable.

ME: Clearly.

RN: Let’s just stick to the blood tests from here on out.

So when I got home I did what any normal women hopped up on synthetic progesterone and unstoppable HCG would do; I went trash picking. You know what? That dumb test had a faint second line. And I know I had the right one because my first two positive tests from last Thursday and Friday were brand FRER and all I had left were a couple of the internet cheap-os to use on Saturday. All the other ones’ from earlier in the cycle were internet cheap-os and all were negative except for the one with the faint positive line.

This morning I peed on the last internet cheap-o HPT just to see what would happen now that I knew I had an HCG over 100…BARELY FREAKING POSITIVE AGAIN! It took 15 minutes to see the second line start to form. What gives? These are supposed to be sensitive to 20 HCG so how come it took WELL over the time limit to get a positive this morning?

Well I have learned one thing; early-pregnancy-tests.com is only for the fertile. They need to have a warning sign:

WARNING: Infertile women stay away! Our tests do not work correctly for you and will severely toy with your emotions. We will give you false positives which will impact your concept of self worth and only lead to more infertile feelings.

I promise from here on out I will shell out the big bucks and only pee on FRER. Of course I’ve been burned this cycle so I’m just going to stick with blood tests until we know more. As far as what I’m feeling…numb. Numb would be the word of choice. I’ve already cried and mourned our cycle so I have no more tears to shed. I can’t feel happy because there could be no baby in there and I can’t feel sad because there could be a baby in there. So I’m in some sort of weird limbo that is void of emotion.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am so confused right now…

I don't get this. Why is this happening to us? Today I got the call from our RN regarding our third beta. It came back at 107.

Yes, 107.

That is horrible doubling time. I was told that it's not viable at this point. In fact it's probably ectopic or a blighted ovum. I have to go in for more blood work tomorrow. I just don't get this. My last test on Saturday was negative(well it was also an internet cheap-o which I've always had the worst luck with before.) And my Friday test was fainter than the Thursday test. We both assumed that my beta was going DOWN not UP. I don't even feeeeeeel pregnant at this point. I am so confused.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Psalm 57:1

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. My soul will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Psalm 28:7

All my symptoms are gone. The ET is 100% negative. I am cramping. I know that our baby is gone.

"The Lord is my strength and my sheild; my heart trusts in him and I am helped..."

Friday, October 30, 2009

It was nice while it lasted….

The last few days were filled with calling our family and close friends who knew about our IVF cycle to let them know and ask for prayer. I started to feel increasingly queasy and my boobies grew sorer. Those numbers just had to be doubling.

This morning I took another HPT, praying that the line would be darker. Sadly it was lighter. I crawled back into bed and told Hammer. I knew what lay ahead. I prayed knowing that this was out of my hands and in much more capable hands than my own. No matter what I trust my God.

My RN called this morning and said that my beta had only gone up to 30 in 48hrs which was not a good sign. They will have me do another beta on Monday, since it did go up, unless I start my period over the weekend. I called Hammer to let him know and then my mom. I'm blessed to have a very supportive manager who cried and hugged me when I told her the news. It has made it more bearable to still be at work today.

One thing I haven't mentioned is that the right side of my abdomen has been a bit tender and irritated. It leave me with a bad feeling that he might have been in the wrong place. If he was, it's a blessing that this may be resolving on its own. I also thought it may be just my stimmed ovaries getting all worked up and it may be that as well.

I appreciate all the prayers and comments that you have left for me. They have continued to be an encouragement knowing that so many people were praying for us. You are all amazingly wonderful women.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keeping Hope Alive

I'm now taking stock of everything. I've been extremely tired the last few days and very emotional - 1 check for prego. Last night I had more energy - 1 check for no longer prego. And then I stop myself and pray, "Jesus, thank you for even this small piece of hope. Thank you for letting me be pregnant for just one more day. I trust you and your plan for us."

This morning I woke up at 4 am feeling rested - 1 check for no longer prego and then poked my boobies, ouch - 1 check for prego. I decided to POAS to see if maybe just maybe I could see a line and YES, it was there! It came up very obvious - 1 BIG check for prego. I showed Hammer when he got up (actually I woke him up at 5am I couldn't wait any longer). Now I just have to make it a few more hours. At work I'm yawning alot but not overly tired - 1 check for no longer prego. Then I suddenly feel like I'm going to be sick - 1 check for prego. I'm starting to drive myself crazy. I saw a very nice positive HPT this morning, this is ridiculous. Time to pray again.

I will get my blood drawn this afternoon at 4pm - same time as my 1st beta. That way my body will have all the time it need to get those numbers up there and do some doubling.

At least tonight will be a distraction as it's trick or treating in our neighborhood. We have my brother and some friends coming over. Oh please, please, please Lord, if it's your will, let it double!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Results Are In...

The plan was to let my cell phone go to voicemail when the RN called today. That way Hammer and I could listen to the message together. If the news were bad, I could cry and have him next to me as support. If the message was good, then we could share in the joy together.

What I didn't plan for was a persistent RN who not only called my cell phone first to leave a message but then proceeded to call my work phone. Without thinking I picked up the phone only to have my stomach drop into my shoes when I heard her voice on the other end. NOooooo, what am I going to do! Not here, not now. But I couldn't stop her from talking and telling me the results.

And I have to tell you I really heard nothing past, "...and I'm happy to tell you you're pregnant..blah, blah blah,

your beta was low though, only 24...blah, blah, blah,

...although I've had plenty of women have low betas and go on to have perfectly healthy pregnancies.

I'm pregnant! I'm Pregnant! I'M PREGNANT! (I cannot believe I'm typing this...holy pete!)

But we are not out of the woods yet. Its definitely a case of late implantation. Tomorrow I go for beta #2 and hopefully it's doubled. There is a risk of an ectopic pregnancy with low number just because the embie could have implanted late because it floated around and found it's way up into one of my tubes. She also said it could be 'on it's way down' but seeing that I've been testing every day except for beta day and never saw a line show up (and my sticks are sensitive starting at 20). So if you could all say a prayer for this little Hammer baby, that he's in the right place and growing strong I would be soooo, sooooo grateful. You have already been so supportive, I cannot thank you all enough for your encouragement!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

9dp3dt - Deja vu

Just like last cycle I have started cramping again today at 9dp3dt (or 12dpo). It began yesterday with very light cramping on and off but today it's been worse. I'm mean like AF is COMING SOON bad. Like I wish I could take a pain killer but I can't and the cramping is making me feel nauseated. I have continued to test each morning and continue to receive a negative result. I know that some people will have late implantation but with this being similar to last cycle it's likely just my body's response to elevated progesterone levels. I'm trying to hold out hope that it's just a fluke and my internet cheapies stink at picking up HCG. I did have trouble reading a line when I tested to see if my trigger shot was working pre-egg retrival. But with the extreme cramping going on right now I'm having trouble believing that my embies have been able to survive. *sigh*

Friday, October 23, 2009

Me vs Wo.opie Go.ldburg

Last night I was exhausted. It was pathetic really. At 8:30pm Hammer gave me my nightly PIO injection. By 8:45pm I was asleep on the couch. By 9:00pm I drug myself upstairs and fell back asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

That’s when my weird dream occurred. I normally don’t dream or if I do I normally don’t remember them. In my dream I was lying on the couch with a bunch of people. Who.opie Go.ldburg was there, because, why not. With the way we were all laying Who.opie had her arm over top of my stomach. She turned to me and said, “So how far along are you?” I looked at her and said, “What? I’m not pregnant.” And she replied, “You could have fooled me with all that kicking going on in there.”

And then I woke up.

Now it could have been due to the fact that my progesterone, as of Tuesday, was 129 and probably climbing with each additional day of PIO. It also could be that (TMI warning) I’m so constipated I look 3-4 mo pregnant already. I’m convinced everyone at my office will think that I am because it’s so very, very bad. Even with Kah.si Go Lea.n (which I call Kah.si Go NOW!), extra beans in my burrito last night, and so much water I feel like I am floating, nothing is helping the bloat. So either Who.opie is right or she was just referring to my poop baby.

Today I’m 7dp3dt and this morning my early HPT was still negative.

Me – 1
Who.opie - 0

***On a serious note:
Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement. They have been so great to read. I have moments of peace and moments where I feel overwhelmed by feelings from our past cycle. It’s been great to have your comments to go back and read for encouragement. Yesterday was difficult because we learned our 2 6 cell –grade 2 embies were never able to become blastocycts and therefore discarded. Since Hammer and I have never had the chance to do a 5dt or have any of our embies make it to freeze we have been wondering if any of our little ones have the genetic potential to make it to implantation. It would help explain why last cycle our 8 cell grade 1 and 6 cell grade 2 didn’t implant or possibly why our 2-8 cells embies may not been sticking this time around. While this cycle is still not over yet it does leave us thinking that if we do a third IVF cycle we may look into CCRM where they do a bunch of genetic screening not only of Hammer and I but they can also screen our embies. This is certainly something that we will have to pray about but right now we are still just praying for this cycle. I know it’s still early. At least with this cycle I don’t have that feeling like they are no longer there as I did the time before but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier. Tuesday still feels a lifetime away.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

6 days and counting till beta (5dp3dt or 8dpo)

I have been testing to keep track of whether my trigger shot is out of my system. As of this morning I finally got a negative test. Of course, I did get a negative test which then freaked me out. It would have been easier if the test just kept being positive. Why did I think this would be a good idea? It made sense in my head when I planned it all out except that I wasn’t loaded up on hormones at the time.

Yesterday I looked back on my ‘symptoms’ from last cycle to see if there were any similarities. (Yes I know a lot is the trigger and progesterone) In cycle one I had cramping on days 3-5dp3dt which went away after that. I’m not sure I could blame that on progesterone since it went away and let’s not forget that cycle one failed. I’ve had the cramping again with this cycle and it started at the same time (3dp3dt) and is continuing today. It’s hard not to read into anything. Just like last time the cramping was so bad last night I felt nauseous. It’s hard to know what is going on and since I’ve never been pregnant I don’t really know what to expect either.

My other symptoms have started to go away likely because of the decreasing trigger shot. I’m trying not to freak myself out and think I’m repeating last cycle all over again. It’s too early just yet. But how do I turn off my brain for the next 6 days?

I went online and consulted Dr. Google. He doesn’t help much and may only be making it worse. That and it’s a total distraction at work. Most women who had cramping ended up with a BFP but that was not the case last time for me and I worry maybe it’s my body rejecting my embies. What if my womb is just inhospitable? Ahhh, I wish I was at home right now so I could pull out my bible, curl up under a blanket and just seek out comfort in the Lord until next Tuesday.

Anyone else have a 3dt and has any insight? Or just any insight to put my poor brain to rest?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Once Upon a Time was thoughtful enough to give me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks sweetie! And take good care of those two precious little beans :) I'm so excited for you to find out the genders!

Here are the rules:

1-Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2-Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3-Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4-Name 7 things about yourself that people may not know.
5-Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6-Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7-Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.

Alright, seven things you might not know about me.

1. Daises are my favorite flower
2. I have recently learned how to care for house plants, that or Hammer secretly waters them for me when I forget so I only THINK I'm no longer killing them. This is highly possible.
3. My favorite accessory to wear is a cardigan. I'm never without one. Ever.
4. I drive a stick shift and love it. I've been driving a stick since I bought my first car. Actually when I bought my first car I had no idea how to drive it but when I heard they were cheaper I figured I'd learn. After a rough four days I finally figured it out and have been hooked ever since.
5. I could eat pizza for every meal. I don't but I could. It has my two favorite foods: bread and cheese, mmmmmm.
6. Last year I started using cloth grocery bags which are great. I walk away with only 3-4 cloth bags instead of 15 plastic ones. They stay upright in my car and I can load and unload our groceries faster than before. Why didn't I do this sooner? My next purchase will be reusable produce bags.
7. We recently started composting this fall and are looking forward to next spring when we can use it in our garden and flower beds.

And the nominees are:

http://loveliestdays.blogspot.com/

http://twasbriligandtheslithytoves.blogspot.com/

http://eyeheartinternet.wordpress.com/

http://bambinoclark.blogspot.com/

http://bouncingbuckeyebaby.blogspot.com/

http://shannonlea-baby.blogspot.com/

http://ivfinfertility.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spreading the Love - Blog Award




I was so blessed to be given this award by two amazing women: Brittney at Mommy-in-waiting and Waiting.

Brittney's story touches my heart so much as she was given very frightening IF news but after only one IVF cycle and only one viable embryo to transfer, God has blessed them with their BFP. Her faith in this process has been amazing and she will have such a testimony of love to share with their little one some day.

Waiting has recently started out on her IF journey but with great faith that God is with her through this process. And He IS! Please pray for her as she starts the road toward a possible PCOS diagnosis. I have confidence that God will make her a mommy some day!

The rules for this award are simple. I LOVE YOU = 8 letters which gives you 8 rules:)

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award and write a little bit about why you love them.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Nominate no more than 17 people who you love or you think could use some love.
5. Write one word (you can only use a word once) about what you love about their blog.
6. You cannot nominate someone who has already been nominated - the love has to spread to all.
7. Post links to the 17 blogs you nominate.
8. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they’ve been nominated.

http://mattandbaileyking.blogspot.com/ - steadfast

http://babymakingoneohone.blogspot.com/ - resilient

http://makingmemom.blogspot.com/ - inspirational

http://unconventionaljourney.blogspot.com/ - encouraging

http://worshipandwait.blogspot.com/ - joyful

http://tslajeunesse.blogspot.com/ - hopeful

http://osuraj.blogspot.com/ - supportive

http://baby-blessings.blogspot.com/ - comforting

More awards to come!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Transfer Tales

I was up bright and early for our transfer, which wasn't until 10:50 am but seriously, who can sleep?!?! I was on pins and needles wanting to hear how our little ones were doing. At 9:50 am I started chugging down my required 24oz of water for the ultrasound guided transfer. This was new for us as last time they didn't use ultrasound but our RE wanted it this time and I did too, he just beat me to requesting it. We got there really early so that meant waiting for almost 30 minutes before being called back. At 10 minutes to our appointment, as I am beginning to really feel my bladder, a couple walks out of the exam room area, stops at the water cooler and proceeds to send me into complete torture. Ugh the sound of water is NOT what I needed to hear.

Finally we were called back and were happy to see our RE was doing this procedure as well (I've had him for the whole cycle which has been great!) He gave us our embie report and it was wonderful. For our day 3 transfer we have (expect 6-8 cells, grade 1 [best]- grade 5):

1 - 8 cell, grade 1
1 - 8 cell, grade 2
2 - 6 cell, grade 2
1 - 5 cell, grade 2

Our other two were still at 2 cell and 4 cell so basically they arrested. We decided to transfer the two 8 celled embies and see if the other three would make it to freeze. They felt good about the two 6 cells and will watch the 5 cell to see if it was just off by a few hours on dividing.

They took us back into our room, I requested one with an attached bathroom, with promises that I would stay away from the porcelain throne for a few more minutes. As we prepped for the transfer, Hammer kept making me laugh and I warned him that if he kept it up we might offend our RE with a little shower (if you know what I mean). That set everyone in the room laughing which didn't help my situation at all. Neither did the cold ultrasound gel on my abdomen. Thankfully my bladder was more than full so we could start the procedure right away. They actually have both of the REs on IVF procedure rotation do the transfer (one to transfer and one to hold the ultrasound wand) why I don't know but we got a neat play by play from the other RE who showed us everything that was going on. When it was over he and our RE went on and on about how it went perfectly and we could not have been more happy.

I was then instructed to lay for 15 minutes before getting up to relieve my bladder. Our IVF nurse coordinator stopped in to see how we were doing. She also told me that my last TSH, after a month of synthroid and an E2 over 1,500+, was 1.8. We were so happy to hear that it was below 2.5 which should also help with implantation. Once we were alone we prayed over my belly and our two little embies safe inside. After our time we headed out to the acupuncturist to cover our little seeds for, hopefully, their long stay.

Hammer now has me in bed rest jail. He is so fussy if I get up to pee too frequently but it's cute and I know that it's because he is concerned. Tomorrow my family is coming over to bring me a birthday dinner since I'll still be on bed rest. I'm going to take advantage of Sunday as well to rest and let those little guys snuggle in.

(I'm going to post some awards next now that we are in the 2ww!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Spawkerwing Pineapple

So after work I went to my alternate acupuncturist for my pre-transfer treatment. And she is the epitome of classic Chinese acupuncture. It was awesome. As she was putting in all of the needles (one even in the top of my head!) she told me that this is like 'planting.' "Planting, really, " I say. Then she proceeded to explain,"Yes, today we are digging the hole. Tomorrow they will put the seed in the hole and you will come right back here for us to cover the seed." I loved the analogy and while I lay there I prayed and visualized the planting that would take place the next day. She then told me that I needed to go to bed early which kind of ruins the whole it's my birthday and I have the day off tomorrow but I'll do anything anyone tells me if it will help us get pregnant.

Afterward it was time for dinner and I had requested to go to a Jap.anese Stea.k House. I love them and hadn't been in a long time. On our way over I remembered that we needed to buy a pineapple as the core has bromelain in it which is good for implantation. I've read that if you eat it during the first few days of the transfer it can be helpful. We have such weird conversations with our spouses thanks to infertility, don't we. Anyway back to dinner. We have several stea.k houses in our area to choose from but I thought it would be fun to go to a new one. When we got there and were looking over the menu we noticed that several tables were celebrating birthdays. They would come out with a drum and dessert that had a sparkler in it. Hammer made sure that our waitress knew it was my birthday. At the end of a delicious dinner I heard drumming coming out of the kitchen and knew it was for me. As they approached the table I realized that the dessert was actually a quarter of a fresh pineapple! We had to laugh but no one else at our table knew what was so funny.

It’s My Birthday, I Can Panic If I Want To (updated)

Today I turn 31 years old. Today I got a call that I will have a 3 day transfer tomorrow. Today no one has yet told me how my embryos are doing just that I am to come in for the transfer. Do they not know what that does to a girl hopped up on a ton of hormones? Or that it’s my birthday and of all things I should get a report on how they are doing, today of all days?

Of course doing a 3 day transfer instead of a 5 day transfer puts me into a state of panic that almost all of them arrested overnight and were back down to just a few. Then I go into flash backs of our last cycle which was a big FAIL. I have nothing to base this on though. And there is nothing I can do about any of it either. Which is why type A me went into panic mode.

To top things off my acupuncturist is out of town so I had to call around to a couple of places to see if someone could get me in at last notice. Nobody was calling me back = more panic. But finally I got someone who was willing. I will have a treatment today and then post transfer tomorrow because that was the best she could do. I’ll take it.

God bless my mom who, when I called her with the news (after I called Hammer of course), started singing Blessed Assurance to me over the phone. I needed someone to talk me back down into reality. Now if I could put her in a little box on my desk at work to keep me focused on the fact that God is in control then I would be set.

***Update***
As is my typical style I panic way too early than is necessary. Maybe that is why God keeps teaching me lessons on trust. Right after I posted I got a call from the lab. Their grading scale is the following:

Day 2 should show 2-4 calls and they grade on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the best.

We have:

1 – 4 cell grade 2
1 – 3 cell grade 2
3 – 2 cell grade 2
1 – 2 cell grade 4
1 – 4 cell grade 4

So basically 5 of the 7 are looking good. They will keep an eye on the last two that are grade 4 but they are not “looking good” right now per their words. I’m just so glad to hear that they are all growing well. I hope that at least one of them wants to stick around for a while.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lucky Number…

Seven. That’s the number that fertilized. Out of nine eggs collected, eight were mature and seven fertilized. This is amazing news as we only had three out of six fertilize last time BUT of those three they all were beautiful – let’s hope that trend continues this cycle. We are still waiting to see how they continue to divide so hopefully more good updates to come. They will determine if they will do a three or five day transfer hopefully tomorrow. Since I was a three day transfer last time they will wait a bit longer to make their decision. But didn’t anyone note that last time the embies were good, just not plentiful? Hence the three day transfer. Oh well. I will continue to wait on pins and needles.

I wish I could say I was doing as well. I’m still very sore from yesterday and I am continuing to bleed. I was reading Dr. Google that it may take 24-48 hrs to stop but that it should continually get better over that time period. I went back to work but ended up leaving early this morning as I’m just not feeling right yet. Last time the bleeding stopped the same day of the retrieval and I was back to work as if nothing had happened the next day. Not so much this time.

Oh well, now I can rest up. Call for my transfer acupuncture appointment and pray like crazy for my little embies to keep growing!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Early Bird

Well there was no sleeping in for me today. I had to get up at the crack of dawn so that I could get to my last follie check #4 and blood work. Fortunately I went to bed early so I had no trouble getting up and was very early for my blood work. That was intentional after this past week's issues. Actually I was so early the office hadn't brought over my lab orders yet and I had to go back out in the waiting room, go figure. I even had the same lab tech draw my blood again today. She totally didn't remember me and actually appeared to be in a better mood as well. She did a better job too, no bruises today.

My RE was on weekend call which I was happy about because that means he's been following all of my follie checks and giving his order preferences for my cycle. This time I have six leading follicles which will be ready for retrieval on Tuesday. SOOooooo much better than the four I had on day 11 last time (2 of which were an absolute miracle). Here are the stats on my lead follies:

R: 19, 16, 16, 16, (and a few smaller ones)
L: 17, 16, 12 (and one smaller one)
E2: 1,077

I asked about my TSH and my RE decided to just have them tag that on to my E2 blood work I did this morning. So today and tomorrow morning I will continue my meds as usual. I will trigger on Sunday at 10pm, try to make Monday go by fast, and then go in on Tuesday morning for our retrieval. I want this weekend to hurry by because I'm really starting to feel uncomfortable now and have finally broken out the stretchy pants. Plus I don't think I'll really feel better until I get these eggies out of me and we know what we are dealing with as far as numbers and embies.

On another note, our internet is fixed and I've enjoyed catching up on your blogs. I'm not sure what is wrong with blogger but it hasn't been letting me comment on any blogs today. And I've had trouble with that on a few other of the blogs I follow earlier this week. So don't feel unloved out there!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Down one but still on track

Today was my second follie check. I’m slowly but surely moving along. Apparently I went down by one follie. My tiniest one on the right got intimidated and crawled back inside my ovary. Oh well. Eight is still good. Not only is it still better than last time but they are still all around the same size which is completely opposite from IVF#1 where I had two ginormous follies and a 4 tiny ones. My stats at day 7 of stims are:

R: 16.5, 16, 15, 14
L: 15, 14, 12, 10

Lining at 10mm

E2: 759

I am going to go in for one more follie u/s on Saturday and will most likely have my retrieval on Tuesday of next week.

It was absolute drama getting in to my appointment today though. IF I thought Thursday’s long wait for the lab was bad today was MUCH worse. I even went in 10 minutes earlier than my appointment was scheduled for and still had to wait 40 minutes total to get gat back there and get my blood drawn. They were calling patients out of order, taking their sweet ole time with everything. It was like they were in slow motion never mind the fact that their waiting room was at standing room only. I was 20 minutes late for my u/s at my RE’s office next to the lab. This lab is a separate company that my clinic contracts with so they have no control over these issues. What really got me riled up was that the lab lady called two of us back. I had all my stuff ready but the other lady was missing some paper work. The lab tech began to work on getting her paper work and left me sitting there in the blood draw chair while she did this. Now I ordinarily don’t speak up about these things but I also don’t ordinarily have such elevated levels of estrogen coursing through my veins. I ask if she wouldn’t mind just doing me first since I didn’t think I should be made to wait while she got someone else’s paper work in order. I was told that my RE expected a delay and she would get to me when she was ready. Interestingly is that after my u/s the IVF nurse met with me and immediately asked what all had happened at the lab. So I filled her in on all the details which she was shocked about how the RE’s patients were not being treated per their contract to keep the appointments moving. Apparently they don’t expect delays as the lab alluded to earlier.

So this weekend will be filled with follie check #3 (and blood work, yuch), college football, dinner with friends on Sunday, Monday off for a holiday, Monday evening girls night out at a spa, and Tuesday off for retrieval. I’m excited that I get to do dinner and the mini spa day since our retrieval is now Tuesday. I was playing a lot by ear until I had some definitive dates. The spa evening is for breast cancer awareness and a local spa is doing mini manicures for $10 and all proceeds go to breast cancer research. That I get to pamper myself a bit which is fun!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Belly Full of Average

I had my first follie check this morning. Honestly I was really worried about a repeat from last time. I wasn’t really feeling too much going on and was concerned after my suppression check that Lefty had just up and died on me already. I asked Hammer to come with me in case it was bad news, which he was very willing to do (and I made him be my note taker.) I was almost late for my u/s because the lab was so far behind and I even showed up 10 minutes early and they give you 15 minutes ‘flex’ time in between lab and u/s. I had my insurance card out and ready before I was even called back. And when she turned around to give me my card back I had my right arm all ready for her to stick me – she was not going to make me late! I must have made her flustered because she missed my vein and had to adjust it while the needle was still in my arm, OUCH! But I didn’t have time to pass out so I kept my head together and focused my mind off of the pain.

Hammer was waiting at the RE’s office for me when I got there. Ironically, the RE’s office was 15 minutes behind probably because of the lab. Oh well. My RE was actually the one to do the follie check this time. Before we got started we did a little chant of, “Let’s be average!” Cheesy, I know but in some ways it’s kinda fun. And yes, our RE did the chant with us. He started out on the right ovary where I had several little follicles starting to grow…in fact I had five (one more than last time).

12mm, 10mm x2, 9m, and 8mm

They were bigger than last time as well. Then he swiveled over to Lefty. I saw two big follicles and my heart fell a little, it was the same as last time…but wait, what was that? Did I see another two follicles? Sure enough Lefty had FOUR.

12mm, 11.5mm, 9mm, and 8mm

That makes 9 follicles (three more than last time) that will hopefully continue to grow and mature in the next few days. My lining was at 7mm and my E2 was 195 so I got the glorious designation of average by my RE. Instead of going for another 5 days on the stims (like I did last time) before a second u/s check I get to wait only 2 days. Wow, I almost feel normal.

I did ask for another TSH test but since I’m moving along faster than anticipated, for me, it won’t really be beneficial yet so they are going to have me go on another day. My concern with that is TSH increases with rising estrogen, which is going to skyrocket as my follicles keep growing. And I want to make sure that we do absolutely everything we can this time as it may be our final IVF cycle. (I know we’ve only done two but it’s pricey and the next time I plop down a chunk of change I want a guaranteed baby i.e. adoption)

I might have trouble updating or keeping up with blogs because Hammer accidentally cut our internet cable last Sunday while working out in the yard. In his defense they only buried the cable 2 inches underground and in a flower bed. So don’t feel ignored!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Left vs. Right

Well I am officially suppressed and got the green light to start my stims on Saturday. The only kicker is that my left ovary appears that it will not respond well, again. Apparently it’s confused and thinks it’s a forty year old ovary. Is it possible to have one ovary in premature ovarian failure while the other one is normal? If not then I’m a medical miracle of the suckiest kind. I’m really trying not to let this get me down but I find myself holding my breath every time the thought flashes through my mind. I’ve already asked Hammer to come to my follie check u/s appointments in case we get bad news again.

I’ve been loving my acupuncture and find that I sleep well afterwards for about two days post treatment and then begin suffering the effects of low-to-no estrogen. Thank goodness I have a treatment tonight! Maybe there is something she can do to boost my left ovary into compliance. I am sooo thankful that I am doing acupuncture because it’s supposed to help people with poor response to the stims. Hammer was bucking it due to the expense but after I told him about lefty he’s changed his mind completely.

I also just found out from my clinic that I can take my Bravelle and Luvaris in the same syringe. What a relief because that takes me down from four shots a day to three. My tummy pooch is very happy about this!

And on a final good note, my huge project I’ve been working on at work launched yesterday. It had its issues but I knew that there would be problems. Those problems were out of my control and in the hands of our IT guys who slacked on their responsibility. But life has a way of reaping what you sow and they are taking the heat. I think it will be much better for our cycle now that this hurdle is over with, that and it wasn’t helping with my lack of sleep issue. I slept like a baby last night.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gearing Up

This Wednesday is my suppression check blood work and ultrasound. I'm so excited to get this all started. I can't believe I will only be on 10 units of Lupron for five more days (technically 4). I started getting hot flashes this weekend so I know for sure I am suppressed. And if it was anything like last time I should be WELL below the cut off of 80. I'm starting to get the Lupron fatigue and it's hard not to want to kick back some caffeine to get through the work day but I'm holding strong. And believe me, when you don't sleep well on Lupron AND it makes you tired it's really, really hard. But I don't get the raging aggression or the headaches so I'm counting myself lucky.

I really feel like this cycle has flown by which was helped by a much needed vacation and keeping busy on the weekends. This past weekend I have dubbed as 'Sports Mania.' My parents gave us their tickets to the college football game since they are out of town and we are dog-watching for them. We decided to make a day of it and tailgated with some friends starting around 11 am and then walked to the stadium. It rained the whole time but we had ponchos to stay dry. It was so much fun. We sat next to a young man who was really into the game so we didn't feel so bad getting all fired up along with him. (Typically my parents seats are with all the old staunchy professors who think they are watching golf and not football) And to make it even better the guy thought Hammer and I were fresh out of college and newly weds - it made my day. After spending 7 hours in the rain, screaming and cheering (BTW - I'm a total football nut) and watching my Alma mater goose egg their opponent (yeah!), we were sufficiently soggy and cold and ready for bed.

Then Sunday evening Hammer had won hockey tickets in his companies box. It was a pre-season match but free none the less. So I donned more layers to go see our local NHL team. My brother was captain of his high school hockey team so I'm very familiar with the sport as well. I wish I could say it was wins all weekend but we lost 2-4. Oh well. It was good times except that I didn't wear nearly enough layers. I'm a bit worried that I'll end up with the sniffles after being wet and cold, then more cold. But it was still worth it.

This week continues to be busy with a chiropractor appointment, more acupuncture (love it!), suppression check day, and the launching of my huge I-worked-on-it-for-a-year-and-a-half-and-it's-finally-going-out-live project. I think this week is going to fly by and Saturday starts Operation Hammer Babies Take Two first day of Stims!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Holy Toledo!

***Updated: link corrected***

Have you heard about the IVF cycle gone awry recently? The incident happened just a few hours away from where I live but I guess the clinic that they go to is in another state than where the family lives. But just to clarify it is NOT our clinic. But certainly this is not some thing one wants to think of before starting IVF#2.

I heard about it on our local news and guess what? Dr. Evil Women RE was on the TV being interviewed and reporting that our clinic never has had an issue and the reporter was IN OUR LAB covering the story. Of course all I was thinking about was I could not believe Dr. Evil spoke so much or seemed so sad about the situation. She barely said one word to me and tried to run out of the room before explaining what was on the ultrasound. Such a faker.

Regardless of Dr. Evil RE, I really do feel bad for this family. But I am glad to hear that they decided to carry the baby and give him to his parents. Who knows why these things happen but they really are giving that family a gift in a very strange way. Maybe that other family would never have been able to carry their son any other way. Hopefully their surrogate, she cannot try to carry any more of their snow babies, will give them a gift as well. And imagine what a connection she will have with her surrogate after having gone through this. All I know is that I'd be asking that clinic for a full FET refund and discount on the future surrogate's transfer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Delayed Return

Sorry for the additional days off the blogosphere but life has been crazy. Both of our computers were in the shop which made posting impossible. Our home computer is back but we basically had to erase everything on it and are slowly loading our things back onto it. Fortunately we were able to get off all our important things first.

We had a great time on vacation in South Carolina. It was so nice to visit my brother-in-law's family, sleep in all day, and just lie around on the beach. I have pictures but we are still working on loading all of our digital camera software.

Going on vacation really made the time on BCP go super fast. And because it was so crazy when I went back to work, this week went by even faster. I started my 10u of Lupron on Sunday Sept 13th. My RE agreed to do a TSH so I had to wait until Monday the 14th because we didn't return home until late on Sunday. I think that worked out well because your TSH levels increase with higher levels of estrogen. So having been on the BCP for 2 weeks I was able to get my body back to it's 'normal' levels after the lingering estrogen lowering effects of the lupron from the last IVF cycle. My lab result was 2.93 and I have been over my clinic's cut off level of 2.5 on more than one occasion. But now they finally decided to treat me. (Maybe because our last IVF cycle failed?) So Friday I started on synthroid and I'm very happy about this. I think I'll have to be persistent about getting another TSH check mid stims and then 7 days post retrieval when estrogen levels sky rocket. I refuse to get as far as we did last time only to have my TSH levels effect implantation. It's the one thing that's never been addressed even though I've asked about it several times. So my hope is that this cycle we can do absolutely everything possible to make it a success.

I started acupuncture this week as well. My protocol is to go twice a week for three weeks so that the last week is at the beginning of starting the stims. Then I go on the day of transfer right before and immediately after. She does electro-acupuncture in the beginning so each needle is hooked up to a low electric current that is supposed to increase blood flow and super simulate my ovaries so that they respond well to the stims. After last cycle where I almost didn't make enough follicles I am really hoping that adding this in as well as more Bravelle and Luvaris will have a much better outcome.

I take my last two BCP this weekend so this coming week will just be lupron (10u), synthroid and waiting for AF to arrive. The good news is that I really didn't get nauseated as much on the BCP this time as compared to last so it's been a much better experience. I'm feeling much more positive about stimming this cycle but am also trying to be realistic with the number of follicles to expect.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Arrangements

Well all my med deliveries have been arranged. They split up my order between two companies to get the best prices. I could not believe just how affordable this round is compared to the last one. I just hope that it's more successful :)

I will be getting my TSH rechecked prior to starting the Lupron so I am happy about that too.

I have to say that I'm feeling a bit nervous to get my hopes up but I feel like this time I am doing everything that I can for this to end positively.

As of tomorrow I will be MIA till the 14th. I think this pack of BCP will go much faster than the last; beaches tend to do that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Catching Up

I'm out again on another business trip today. Yes this has been one crazy week. But I will be taking Friday off and will be MIA till the week of September 14th. So you won't be hearing from me for a bit as I will be on a BEACH! While our Flor.ida vaca in October was scuttled by my chief I was still determined to get to a beach this year. And since my BIL lives 10 min from the Atlantic coast we are crashing at their house for a cheap vaca. What I am hoping for is that hurricane Eri.ka will steer away from my get-away.

Operation Hammer Babies take two is officially underway. I have put my calendar up on the side of my blog. I have added in acupuncture this time around. I LOVE acupuncture and wish I would have done it last time. But, no looking back, this is our fresh start. And because I want to be as healthy as possible for a successful cycle I am requesting to do another TSH. Mine have consistently been over 2 (about 2.3-3.8) and studies have shown that TSH should really be under 2. I have asked my RE in the past to treat me just so that we are addressing every possibility since higher TSH addresses implantation. My 'plan' is that I get my TSH tested as close to the day where I start my Lupron as possible. Since that day will be while we are on vacation I have located a lab near where we will be (Yes I am apparently on a lab tour!) I want to get my body as close to normal as possible since low E2 will drop TSH and falsify results. By getting my body back on track with the BCP I can get my TSH more close to it's normal values. I know it's crazy but I just want to be as healthy as I can. And if I don't get anywhere with my RE I'm going to go to just a regular doc who I heard is willing to treat TSH over 2. I hate to do this but I'm on IVF #2 and at this price I want to make sure all variables have been considered.

And I learned something fun...We may be transferring on my birthday. I'm trying not to get my hopes up but it would be a great birthday present!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Without a Hitch

Thank you for all your well wishes and prayers for my busy Monday. Wouldn't you know there was a Quest labs 10 minutes from where I stayed on this business trip. I did a test run from where I stayed to the lab and then to to conference center the night before. It helped so much. It could not have gone more smoothly and in the end I was right on time for the conference.

I got the results back and while they were 'normal' (FSH = 8) they still showed that I am still suppressed by that darn Lupron. Either way I started the BCP Monday evening.

I have more to post but our computer died and I stole Hammer's lap top just to post this. More later!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Found; Now onto the Next Hurdle

Alright, AF finally showed up with a vengeance today. She must have been upset about my hassling her on her lateness. Oh well. In the end I was really praying she would stay away until Sunday. I now have to do my day 3 FSH on Monday but I won't be in town on Monday. Instead I will be 3 hours away in another city hosting a mini conference. I googled locations for the lab that will take my insurance in the city I will be at. They have a lab that is about 15 minutes away from my 'work location.' This lab opens at 7:30 am which is when I'm supposed to arrive at the conference location but then it closes at 4pm which is 30minutes before my conference day ends. I'm not sure how I'm going to make this work. Maybe I will just show up late and blame it on not knowing the area. What to do, what to do...

Now I know that I can technically wait until day 4 (Tuesday) to do the blood draw but I'd rather not drag this out any longer than needed. (Plus I have an accupunture appt that day and can't make it to the lab in my town anyway.) I think when I drive up on Sunday I'll make it a point to test drive to my two destinations so that I A) won't get lost and B) will know the area when I'm gunning it across town to the conference location.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Would Like to File a Missing Persons Report Please.

My Aunt is missing. I was expecting her to arrive early this week but it's now Wednesday and she is no where to be found. She's normally very punctual which is what is alarming me most. I even took precautions and sent her some prometrium to ensure that she would get her safely and on time. Here is a picture of her below to help in the search.


Her name is Flow, I refer to her by Aunt Flow but she also responds to Dirty Hag or Wicked Witch of the South.




While you are at it could you also be on the look out for my mind? I seemed to have misplaced it some where and I would really like it back. Apparently the side effects of prometrium for me are forgetfulness and lack of focus. This comes at an inopportune time for me. Right now my job requires me to be very detailed and focused and I am not. Not only that but I can barely remember what day of the week it is. And if some one tells me, don't be surprised if I forget within 30 minutes. I have literally been driving to a friends house and forgot where I was going. I had to drive back home because Hammer didn't answer his phone to tell me what I was supposed to be doing. That is not normal people. I have triple booked our weekends and had to reschedule things, left the dog outside for almost an hour in the heat before I realized it, and the list goes on. Actually I can't remember the other things I've done to even tell you. It's hilarious that with all the drugs I've been on the two that bother me the most are this prometrium and the birth control pills. Which I would love to start here, any day now.



But in good news my last Bravelle angel (thank you again jvwaiting!) sent me a blessing of the remaining vials of stims that I needed for IVF#2. Once I finally get my period I'll be able to get my day 3 FSH drawn and the rest of my drugs ordered. I tried to see if they would order them earlier but no go. It wasn't a waste of a call. Apparently the lab never told the clinic that Hammer's backup deposit was on ice. Our clinic requires couples to have back up 'boys' in case something were to happen like stage fright or hospitalization. I'm glad we got that cleared up at least. Now all we have to do is wait for Aunt Flow to make her final curtain call.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekend Update

Lots to update on today!
Wednesday I got a note from jvwaiting that she had some additional Bravelle and after a few emails we’ve arranged for her to send me her extras. That means that ALL of our Bravelle is now taken care of for this cycle. Now we only have to pay for the HCG and the added LH med (which I don’t know the name of yet). Our cost for meds would have doubled this cycle but God has provided!!! I can only just shake my head in amazement at how God continues to provide for us. This weekend I was talking with an IRL buddy who has PCOS/infertility about how God has just given us a huge green light for this cycle and that taking care of our increased meds cost is just one of the many blessings. Thank you jvwaiting, you are now one of my Bravelle angels!

***

Friday I got my progesterone results back to see if I ovulated. They were 1.3, yeah, not ovulating. But that’s OK because it meant I got a prescription to get my period on time. If we hadn’t spoken up at our appointment then we would have been waiting around for a while before AF would have shown up. And just to be able to say it, “I was right.” I knew I wasn’t going to ovulate this cycle, I was too suppressed by the Lupron and had those crazy hot flashes (which are now gone, thank God!) So I’m popping my pills knowing that they will guarantee a timely start to our next cycle.

***

Later that day on Friday – well to preface this is a sad story – Hammer took me out for dinner and movie. This is a splurge that we rarely have allowed our selves to have these past two years because we have had to save so much for all these treatments. We were eating outside on the restaurant’s patio. A couple sat down at the table across from us and the woman was very visibly pregnant. Honestly ladies, I was totally cool with seeing her. I just tell myself I don’t know her story and if they’ve struggled to get prego etc. But I was not prepared for her to order a BEER. She looked 24-28 weeks along. They were talking about plans for the baby while she drank her BEER. It was then that it got to me, I just wanted to cry. I know that in some countries women are told that some wine or beer is ok. But when you’ve waited so long for your own miracle and have to sit and watch someone potentially put their unborn baby at risk, it was just too much for me. I was so glad we were paying the bill when that happened, I would have had to change seats or just leave.

***

Today I got the call just minutes ago from our clinic’s finance department. And guess what? Another miracle!!! Apparently my insurance was not supposed to cover ANY of our IVF treatment. But they are covering our u/s!!!! That’s over a $1,000 savings!!!! I could NOT believe it. I could just cry, right now, at work, on my lunch break, in my cube. That meant that I had a CREDIT at our clinic, a CREDIT. I got to plunk down $2,000 less than we expected. God has just left me speechless. There are no words left that fully encompass how good He is.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adoption Meeting Update and Other Things

We went to our first local RESOLVE meeting last Thursday which was a ‘special’ session where they had a speaker from a local adoption agency. Hammer and I were excited to get an opportunity to hear about adoption without having to pay for an initial consultation at an agency. The speaker was a social worker who specialized in international adoption but she did give information on domestic as well. I had always been open to any type of adoption but have yielded to what Hammer’s feelings were on the subject. Having been a ‘surprise’ son to a his mom and dad who had adopted two other children nine years prior, I feel that he had more insight into the subject. He wants to have a similar situation to how he grew up and said that it was hard enough explaining why his older brother was a towering 6’4” brown eyed red head while he and his parents are short, blue eyed and blond. I really did not care what type of adoption we would do as long as it would make us parents. But after hearing about international adoption, all the fees, paperwork, multiple extended visits, and ridiculous requirements, I was completely turned off. I mean, seriously China, why do you have a BMI requirement and a ‘facial feature’ requirement? What on earth does the way my cheek bones sit have anything to do with being a good parent? While Hammer and I would not be held back by our BMI/facial features it just rubbed me the wrong way that they would base parenting on superficial things. And while I started to think that maybe there was some ancient Chinese belief related to body/facial features it still wasn’t working for me. There will be no Asian babies in my future. We also learned that the international adoption wait time was 4-5 years!!!! And that in total, it would cost us $45,000. Holy Pete!

So it was pretty clear to us that if we had to walk down the adoption road it would be domestic. But that’s the type of information we wanted to hear to be able to make a decision that was right for us. In our state the wait time for domestic is no longer than two years. And the price is much more reasonable, around $20,000. The laws in our state for adoptive parents are really good so the likelihood of ever being a Hallmark Special Movie titled, “Give Me Back My Baby,” is rarely if ever going to happen. There is always the risk of a mom changing her mind but the two big agencies in our area have safeties in place so that you don’t loose out on your money if it falls through. While we still are going to give IVF another try here shortly, it was comforting to know our options.

We also got to meet a few other couples in the same boat as us. One of them was my Bravelle angel who not only gave me her extra vials but her extra syringes as well. We are both in the same place as far as suffering a failed IVF cycle this past month. Although, unlike us, they are blessed to have several snow babies and are gearing up to do a FET here shortly. I’m not jealous; God gave her snow babies so she would have extra meds for me and so God could continue to show us his provision. Seriously, to have to do a second IVF cycle and have Hammer get an unexpected bonus plus have two complete strangers give me a total of 28 vials of Bravelle for $300 is provision!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

I have been blessed to receive several “One Lovely Blog” awards this past week. Thank you to all who nominated me: Melissa at What? IF?!, Sumer at Our Journey for Baby Lajeunesse and BB at Baby To Be, If you, my dear readers, have not met Melissa or Sumer yet they are gearing up to start their first IVF cycles, please send them prayers and positive wishes. And if you have not met BB either pop over to her blog and congratulate her on her first BFP post IVF cycle!!!!!



On to the award!




Rules:
Accept the award; post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his/her blog link. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

1. Jvwaiting at Worship While I’m Waiting
2. JB at Of Cabbages and Kings
3. Simple at Unconventional Journey
4. Sassy at Eye Heart Internet
5. Bailey at A Journey to Forever
6. Infertility Rocks
7. Amy at Chapters
8. Waiting at Waiting
9. Brittney at Mommy In Waiting
10. Jones at Loveliest Days
11. Kerri at Our Journey
12. Katie at Once Upon A Time
13. Amber at Waiting On A Miracle In God’s Timing
14. Megan atBottoms Off and On The Table
15. The Baby Chaser at The Baby Chase