Holiday Craft Exchange – Part II – Receiving

With impeccable timing, my holiday craft arrived yesterday evening!
J and M over at Adventures of Two Moms sent us an adorable doggy stocking, and a knitted kitchen dish cloth!

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We have been so busy this season, that we completely forgot to put up the dog stockings, and this was a perfect addition to our mantel. (Clementine and Juno were very pleased with this- more presents please!).

The dish cloth was shaped into an angel, which is super symbolic, given our year.

They also hand wrote us a full-page letter, which was very thoughtfully written, full of encouragement and support. With the letter, they also included a beautiful birth announcement, for their baby boy.

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Thank you so much to J and M, for their super thoughtful gifts!

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F$%K Presents! We’re Buying Ourselves IVF for Christmas!

A little over a year ago, DW and I embarked on our very first IVF. It was a special IVF, as it was a reciprocal IVF, and we were amazed by how science could allow my wife to carry embryos with my biological genes in a pregnancy. If you’ve followed our journey since last year, you know that for unexplained reasons, she miscarried twice. She had all of the immune testing that I had, with the exception of the natural killer Th1/Th2 cytokine ratio. All of her results were normal. Later, in September, I miscarried a blighted ovum. It has been heartbreaking for both of us, but hers seems to be a silent one, as we have moved our primary reproductive efforts to me. I try to honour her role and contribution to our journey, but realize that it is nearly impossible to fully do this because she is in essence “being benched” for the time being. She deserves so much more than that, but due to her age, our financials, and the unexplained nature of her infertility, this is the best that we can do for now. I know however, that my wife will be an amazing mother to our babies, and I am so lucky to have her as my partner. All you non-gestational parents out there, share your awesomeness with us.

For days now, I’ve been waiting to hear from our fertility clinic about our next steps, and finally, we have a plan!

We will be doing another round of IVF.

I bombarded our RE with some questions, relayed by email through his nurses. Of course, his answers were super vague and generally unhelpful, but provided some reassurance.

I have copied and pasted them below:

1. Why do you think that none of the seven day-five blastocysts were
successful?

It can be either embryo— genetics vs
random bad collection—– or it could be recipient issues.

2. What is your opinion on how my body responded to the stimulation cycle?

The response was good

3. Any changes he would make to the stimulation cycle this upcoming round,
and why?

Nothing different.

4. Would he recommend that we do PGD/S testing for chromosomal issues or
aneuploidy?

He wouldn’t recommend either.

5. Does the clinic do PGS on day 3 or day 5?

We do pgs on both day 3 and
day 5 embryos. We can do PGS testing on either day 3 or day 5 embryos.

6. If we do PGS, does that mean that we cannot do a fresh transfer (and all
have to be frozen for FET)?

If bx is done on day 5 embryos then those embryos are frozen. This is what is preferred. We are able to do a day 3 bx and then proceed with a fresh cycle and transfer would happen on day 5.

So what I gather from this is that he does not think that there is an issue with our embryo quality (pathology testing of embryo in September 2014 miscarriage was of a chromosomally normal female), and even though we are willing to shell out the dough for PGD/PGS, he doesn’t think that we need it. In fact, because he doesn’t recommend it, the clinic’s plan for me is not to to PGS. I have mixed feelings about it, as embryo quality is one of the major factors that affect IVF success.

Now, some of you may be surprised that we are sticking with the same clinic, but after a lot of thought and consideration, we decided that it was in our best interest to continue with them for several reasons:

– continuity of care- they know what worked/didn’t work for us last time.
– familiar with their system- I know who to call when I need whatever, and have realized that if I need to talk to the nurse asap, I just need to flood the nurses voicemail line with messages.
– the RE is open-minded enough to treat me aggressively for the immune issues, which if we started at a new clinic, would want to put me through the ringer before being satisfied that I need all of the intralipids/steroids/blood thinners.
– proximity- the clinic has 5 locations, 2 which are within 15-20 minutes of our home and work places.
– we got a good lot of quality blastocysts the last IVF. Carrying was the issue.

There is one uncertainty that I feel we just need to live with, and that is the quality of the clinic’s embryology lab. On one hand- we got 7 good day-five blastocysts in the end, but on the other hand, none of them worked out for us. The fact that we got 7 blasts makes me think that their lab is good enough to support their development to day 5, but with none of them working, it leaves me to wonder if it’s them (lab), or us (uteri). Anyway, it’s something we kind of have to roll with, and I will never get an answer to that question, so I should just move on with my life.

I am currently on day 8 day 9 of my current cycle, on no meds, and on day 21 I start taking Lupron again. As you know from above, the plan is to do the long Lupron protocol again. Last time, they started me on a 200IU dose of Gonal-F, went up to 250IU for a few days, and then back down. In total, I stimmed for 14 days, which is on the long end of normal, but I think the Lupron over suppressed me a bit, and 200IU is quite low of a dose of stims.

Last year, the pain of the egg retrieval had me swearing that I would never do IVF again… And here we are, a year later, seemingly in the same place we were last year. We aren’t- we are more desperate, more jaded, but hopefully also little wiser (immune issues). While we are doing the same protocol again (the results were good), I won’t be on BCP’s at the beginning of this one (unlike last IVF- anyone with experience doing IVF without BCP? Please share your experience in the comments below), and we will be fully armed with the intralipids/prednisone/fragmin/aspirin that we weren’t last year.

So yeah, F$&K presents! We are buying ourselves IVF for Christmas!

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Infertility as a Prison

Okay, so I’m back. I spent some time the entire time sulking about our last blastocyst not sticking around, about our grand IVF failing, about being two years older, 3 miscarriages wiser, and thirty plus grand poorer.

Infertility as a Prison
The only way I can describe how I feel is by comparing it to being in prison (which, is quite a silly analogy because I’ve never been to prison, and I’m sure that my assumptions will piss a whole whack of people off). I feel like we are stuck in IF (infertility) prison- friends and family visit once in a while, sharing details of their normal daily lives, which feels foreign to me because my life has been all about IF prison and getting out of it. Visitors try to express their sympathies for me, but it just comes off as pity, which makes me sort of angry, but I’ll take anything because I feel so alone. They tell me stories of how so-and-so’s SIL got out of IF prison once she stopped stressing about it, and how IF prison can’t be that bad- you’re off work and get to work out and go to yoga classes in the slammer. Friends are either scared to tell you that they were granted Furlough, because no one gets Furlough, and really, they will be super stressed the entire time that they are out of IF prison, scared that they will be sent back there early, a miscarriage. You develop friendships with other IF prisoners, a real sisterhood, sharing your dreams of getting out, oooohing and awwing at sistahs-who-got-out’s baby bumps, which you are genuinely happy about, but it still stings a bit because you’re still stuck in IF prison, without any chance at parol in the near future. That is, until you start a new IUI or IVF, and you start planning your appeal/speech at your parol hearing, when new hope is restored that you will finally get out of this shithole, especially with your good behaviour. And you believe it. You believe that the cocktail of drugs, infusions, herbs, acupuncture, energy healing, and exorbitantly expensive amounts of CoQ10 will do the trick. You try and try, getting more desperate each time, and if you’re like us, and have been at it for a long time, all of the IF rookies you started with have gotten out and are enjoying their lives with their babies, and you feel particularly slighted by fate. When will it be your turn? Rest assured, will get out of IF prison, with or without a baby, if it doesn’t break your spirit first. In the meantime, we watch longingly from the sad side of the fence.

Don’t worry, I managed to pick myself up off the floor, and there is a plan in place, which I will share with y’all after the massive leg day I do in the IF prison yard today.

Holiday Craft Exchange – Part I – Giving

(Feature picture from: http://www.ipscene.co.uk/art-crafts/)

Allison at Two Moms organized a craft exchange this holiday season. The idea was to make something crafty for another blogger (and their family) who has been assigned to you. You also receive a surprise holiday crafty gift from your secret blogger person, who is assigned in the same way as a Secret Santa is done. We’re all encouraged to familiarize ourselves with the blogger’s blog that we’ve been assigned, and send off our crafts so that they arrive before Christmas.

My assigned recipient was Allison herself, who I have been following since before we even started TTC-ing. Her and her partner Jen have two littles, who they have sweetly nicknamed the “Bean” and “Sprout”, and they are such beautiful kids. I knew that I wanted to make something for each member of the family, and brainstormed for weeks before I finally came up with a plan.

Unfortunately, I lacked the foresight to take photos of my finished products, so I had to borrow photos from her blog: http://2momstobe.blogspot.ca/2014/12/crafty-goodness.html?m=1

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These two ornaments I made from yarn and hockey tape! The hockey tape (which I have tons of at home because I couldn’t play this year) was used to create the overall shape of Allison and Jen’s first initial, which was then wrapped in the yarn and fixed into its final cursive letter shape. I was inspired by the cursive “d” necklace that I have from Tiffany and Co.

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This third gift is actually a pocket, which is meant to keep “little treasures”. I know they have a cat, so the little artisan cat button that I have been keeping for the past ten years was perfect. The button was a treasure that I bought at Granville Island in Vancouver, and while I had no plans for it, thought it was so cute and have kept it in my button bag for this long.

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This last craft is a stuffed animal owl that Allison’s kids have already named “Eggnog”, which I think is just the perfect name for him. His green body was knit from a beautiful Japanese wool that I bought back in the Christmas of 2006, while I had a short layover in Taiwan. That was the Christmas that my dog died due to an accident at the kennel he was staying at while I was away. I was so devastated by his death that I couldn’t bring myself to knit anything with that yarn.

I had a lot of fun making things for our craft exchange, and highly recommend joining next year if you’re interested.

The past week has been really tough for me, coming to terms with the fact that our last embryo didn’t stick, and that the whole IVF was therefore a bust. But 2015 is just around the corner, and I’m just waiting to hear back from our clinic what our next steps are. DW and I have already decided to proceed with another round of IVF, and it’s just a matter of when the meds start, and when we can move forward.

FET#4: 10DP5DT or 15DPO: Results

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I thought that some nice pictures of the dogs might ease you all into bad news.

We just got the call from the clinic.

BFN.

We are devastated, but not surprised. I guess the Dollarama pregnancy tests were more correct than that stupid Clearblue Easy Plus.

I’m supposed to stop all my meds, aside from my thyroxine, and AF should arrive within 2-5 days.

I feel like I need a vacation. Take me away from this cold, terrible place.

Never did I ever think that we would blow through all seven blastocysts and be worse off than before we started. Some believe that there is a lesson in each failed IVF cycle. What have we learned?

– DW can’t hold a pregnancy past the first week
– I can’t hold a pregnancy to heartbeat viability

The reasons for DW’s failed attempts are unknown, and my diagnosis is weak at best.

Where do we go from here?

FET#4: 8DP5DT or 13DPO

We got some snow overnight, and the roads were not plowed early enough for the morning rush hour.

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Our bedroom window.

I got up early because the 30% increase in Levothyroxine makes me jittery in the morning, and tried out one of those MediCare Dollarama Pregnancy tests.

BFN.

Now, I haven’t really posted much about symptoms because well, I haven’t really had any- aside from a permanent dizzy and brain fog feeling ever since 2DP5DT. I also had some minor cramping 1-2DP5DT. The only other time that I’ve experienced the brain fog and dizziness is during last pregnancy. Since I’ve been on these meds 5 days prior to the transfer, and didn’t feel the dizziness or brain fog then, I’m pretty sure that they are a sign of pregnancy for me.

Secretly, I also tested on 7DP5DT (yesterday) using my last Clearblue Easy Plus and got a faint positive.

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Do you see it?

But after the BFN today, I’m confused, and feeling absolutely devastated. I’ve been laying in bed all day, feeling hopeless and depressed.

Do we have implantation failure? How have NONE of our 7 day 5 blastocysts worked in either of us?

Should we switch clinics? Or will it just be more of the same bullshit no matter where we go?

Our beta is on Saturday, and I feel guilty for not feeling hopeful.

I should’ve listened to my wife and never have bought those cheap dollar store tests.

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Happiness Cycle Day 28: Doppelgängers

I took the dogs to the park this morning, and on our way back to the car a man was following us, making bird noises and freaking me out.

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Juno’s found football.

I walked faster, and once at the car, Juno obediently got in the back seat, gently placing her football on the middle seat. Clem wouldn’t get in because of some unspoken ownership and boundary rules between her, Juno, and that football, that prevented her from entering on that side, so I had to bring her around the car so she could get in on the other side. (Dog drama!)

Once we were at the other rear door, I saw Clem on the other side of the road, being followed by a car. I totally freaked out and yelled her name, and was startled when she pounced my left knee, as she was actually right beside me. I did a double take, and the dog on the other side of the street wasn’t Clem at all, but rather, a doppelgänger! The car that followed behind him was his owner, the gentleman who was making bird calls at us earlier.

The man parked his car and came over to talk to me. He explained that while I walked in front of him, he thought that his dogs had decided to follow me. He found it entertaining that his dog was playing football fetch with someone else. When his dogs reappeared from the bushes, he realized that they weren’t his dogs I was walking, they were mine! He was confused because they look so alike!

His dogs: Mavi and Effra

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My dogs: Clementine and Juno

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The resemblance is uncanny!