Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Progress Report

I had my first blood draw and ultrasound today. Mr. Hammer and I were both prepared, pen in hand, to write down all the details. In walks a RE I rarely work with. He is very nice but not as detailed as we have been used to. So I have no idea what is going on in there other than that there are 6 follicles on the left side and only 2 on the right. Why righty is so bare at this time is unknown to us especially since she had the larger amount of antral follicles. He kept saying that we can recruit more even though Mr. Hammer kept repeating back that what we see at the first ultrasound is what we get. Then the RE switches to how they were at least all the same size so hopefully they keep growing at the same rate. I hope so too because that was our issue with the microdose lupron cycle.

I know that I do have an issue with one ovary being more dominate than the other. And it changes each cycle, so one time lefty is the good one and the next righty is the good one. I guess it’s lefty’s turn this time. At least all 6 of the antral follicles we saw in her have come out to play. I’m not going to hold my breath that righty will pop out the other five in time to catch up because we couldn’t even see the ‘buds’ of developing follicles and I have a history but you never know, right? I wonder too if righty might not be as healthy as we think because she had the endometrioma spot on her. So I do hope that maybe having lefty hold the majority will be a good sign if it’s the healthier ovary.

What I am going to do is take this lack of details as a sign that I don’t need to worry about those things and just focus on praying for the follicles that I have. It is a bit more peaceful in some ways knowing that no matter what happens we are going forward with the retrieval and that this really is the last cycle. I thought I would be more emotional but I think that will come later depending on the outcome. I really feel like right now I am just taking things as they come and since I can’t change anything or fret over what we’ll do next cycle it’s rolling off my shoulders a bit easier than before.  If this had been any of the earlier cycles I don't think I would have been as calm with Mr. Laid-Back RE but today I'm just not going to get worked up over it.  I have follicles (period).

So my prayer over the next few days is for my eight follicles to be healthy and that all of them are mature of retrieval.

Today at lunch I went down to the fitness center at my office. They have an open area away from the treadmills and weights where there is a TV. I plugged in my yoga podcast and pulled some privacy screens out so that I had my own little make-shift yoga studio. It was so nice and peaceful to do yoga. I meditated on all my follicles growing evenly and my right ovary producing more follicles and I prayed over my current follicles that they would be healthy and praised God that he has already picked out the follicles that will be transferred and with His blessing will be our little one. It was such a nice lunch break; I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

I also have been loving the Gonal-F pen! It’s like all these blogs I’ve read with women on Gonal or Follistim have talked about the stims being relatively easy. Well I can tell you that Bravelle is a pain. Each vial has to be mixed separately and it’s such a process because you have to use the drug immediately after mixing so nothing can be done ahead of time. It would take me forever in the morning to administer my meds. Now I just dial, pull, stick and click. I feel like I’ve joined this elite IVF drug club and it’s wonderful. I have no idea if using this drug will be any better but even if it’s not this is SO worth it. And even better, my copay was the same!

Friday, September 17, 2010

‘E’ is for Exhausted

‘E’ is also for Estrogen, which I have little to none of right now and is cause of the aforementioned exhaustion. Who knew just how important estrogen was on your energy levels until you take a drug that tells your body to stop making it. Do I remember being this tired on the long lupron protocol? The other problem is that lack of estrogen also affects your memory so…I can’t remember! It’s just too funny. Thank God for acupuncture appointments because A) I get a 30 min nap twice a week and B) the treatments help me sleep a bit better for about a day or two. 

The other thing 'E' is for is *Eurp* which is the sound the body makes when it’s about to *ahem* …lose its lunch. Now on IVF#3 I do remember feeling that way very, very clearly but it was due to the dexamethazone with both Hammer and I were on. We could not wait until we were finished. Between the two of us, I think we ate 1 ½ boxes of saltine crackers in a week to try and keep the nausea at bay. So all I have to do is remember how bad I felt last cycle and this nausea is totally manageable. 

So I have my suppression check next Tuesday and from all the symptoms above I think I’m going to be suppressed. Plus let’s recall that with my last three IVF’s I had E2’s all under 15 (yes I said 15 not 51, I get REALLY suppressed) I think they want you anywhere between 25-75 but I lost the argument with the RE about pulling back on the lupron a bit. Whatever; just give me my stims on the 25th so I can get this E2 back up and start getting some decent sleep. I know that the only timing difference between the microdose lupron protocol of IVF#3 and long lupron is the extra week between stopping the BCP and starting the stims but when you are this tired it feels like an eternity. It’s like the key to feeling rested lies in a vial in my fridge but I can’t use it for a whole 2 weeks. Basically my fridge is taunting me every time I open it, “Ha Ha I have your Gonal and you can’t have it.”

It might also be because we are just both ready for this cycle to be over with and the outcome known. So I guess ‘E’ is also for Expectations. It’s hard to be really excited about this cycle. Can God still let us get pregnant this time? Absolutely! If we didn’t believe it we wouldn’t be doing another cycle. But it’s so different going into a fourth cycle versus a first cycle. And I also think its different going into this cycle after a miscarriage. I don’t have the first time giddiness, I don’t have the desire to buy baby items ‘just in case,’ there is a cautiousness that I haven’t had before. I was talking with an IRL friend who is also going on five years of TTC with a history of miscarriage and we were literally planning what was going to happen after our cycles AND THEY HADN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET! How horribly wrong of us. It’s like saying to God, “Yes God I know you gave us the green light on this cycle but instead of spending my time praying and believing that you could make this cycle work I’m going to plan for what comes next.” I totally know it’s a survival method to protect myself from disappointment and to give myself hope for a future if it ends badly, or worse, in another miscarriage. I’m so glad I caught myself doing it and was able to stop and remind myself that by planning ahead I’m not praying for the eggs that I will be growing that COULD be our baby. I think I needed that wake up call. I know I’m not going to be giddy with excitement like the first time, I know I’m looking at this from a more realistic perspective, but I also know that God is bigger than my fears and doubts. He’s asked us to take this step with Him one more time so in faith we are doing it. I think I just need to 'mentally' move forward one step at a time, focus on what is going on right now and be in prayer about it. And then when we accomplish that step, we’ll move on to the next. So suppression accomplished? Check. Next step, follicles (which start with ‘F.’)*

*Hey my last two blog titles are in alphabetical order (D= Vitamin D, E= Exhaustion) so why not, ‘F’ is for Follicle? Too bad I skipped over A, B, & C. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting my ‘D’ on

I don’t know how many of you have heard of the recent study strongly correlating Vitamin D levels with increase success rates in IVF. This article was published in Fertility and Sterility just this month. To summarize, they had 84 women undergoing IVF participate. Of those women they saw a 6% increase in clinical pregnancy for every ng/mL increase in serum Vitamin D levels regardless of age, race, weight or number of embryos transferred.

Experts are saying that serum levels between 50-70 ng/mL are more optimal and this is higher than standard "normal" levels. So now I’m self medicating. I’m taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D for 1 week and then dropping it down to 2,000 through beta #1 pending a successful cycle where it will continue.

*I've fixed the link
**I found 2,000 IU pills at my local grocery store
***I haven't had the chance to talk to my RE yet about it since I just found out on Friday but I figure it won't hurt and with my background as an RD I feel comfortable self prescribing. Seeing that they've given 4,000 IU to pregnant women I'm not too concerned.