Pre-Lupron Scan

And so it begins again. Welcome to 2015! I have a super long end-of-year review post in my drafts, but 2014 was such a sad year for us that I’ve decided not to post it.

In short, 2014 was the year of:
– IVF#1
– 4 embryo transfers (2 DW, 2 me)
– 3 miscarriages (5 weeks, 5 weeks, 7 weeks)
– indescribable work stress + clinical depression and anxiety = leave from work
– revealed immune issues (NK cytokines)

But we’ve resurfaced, a bit jaded but still hopeful, and with 2015 we welcome IVF#2.

Today is CD18 of my pre-IVF cycle, and I went for my pre-Lupron blood work and ultrasound this morning. I’m supposed to start Lupron on CD21, so I am guessing that this scan is to make sure that there are no cysts, and that I have ovulated by now…. Which according to my BBT, I have not.

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(I am a lazy BBT-taker)

At my appointment, I explored the different options with the nurse. Since I was not put on BCPs at the beginning of this cycle (I believe they can be over suppressing, but make predicting AF so much easier), I was allowed to cycle through naturally, and I usually ovulate on or after CD21, with a 10 day luteal phase after that. Now, if I truly have not ovulated, then I should be starting Provera at the same time as the Lupron, but if I have indeed ovulated, then I should just proceed with the Lupron alone.

The head nurse was supposed to check my blood work from earlier today and let me know if it suggests that I have already ovulated (higher progesterone levels), but I haven’t heard from her yet. She also doesn’t work weekends, so I worry that I won’t hear from her at all before Monday, which is when I am supposed to start the Lupron. Overall, it’s not a big deal because I can always start the Provera Monday night if needed, but I would just like to know ahead of time so that I can fill and pick up the prescription.

I have already spent an inordinate amount of time consulting with Dr. Google over this, and the risk of going on the Lupron without having ovulated is growing ovarian cysts, which can secrete estrogen and mess up the hormones that they are trying to tightly control in the first place. I am also prone to having ovarian cysts.

Anyways, I guess we wait. But yeah, things are starting again, and I’m excited for my Lupron start on Monday!

Otherwise, we have been keeping busy with fun and happy things. My mother came to visit from Vancouver, which was surprisingly very lovely. Having a nice big Christmas dinner with my mom and DW’s family was great too. Everyone gets along so well. Now that everyone has dispersed, my days seem a bit lonelier.

One of our life-long bucket list goals is to hike the entire length of the Bruce Trail, which is a 900 kilometre long path along the Niagara escarpment extending from Niagara to Tobermory, Ontario.

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(Photo from: http://www.torontohiking.com/tohi/what-is-the-bruce-trail.html)

DW completed some of the Niagara section on her own during her teenage years, some of the Hamilton and Burlington sections during her rock climbing days, and we’ve completed four portions of the trail with the dogs since we met, two of which happened during this winter break.

Here are some photos from the Bruce:

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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!

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.

Happiness Cycle Day 16: In-Laws

I know that not everybody feels this way about theirs, but I have been blessed with awesome in-laws. Spending time with them is close to effortless, and they have a certain “neediness” that I enjoy and wish my own mother had: a need for regular phone calls, visits, making time for each other. Being raised by either my grandparents or by my mother who was overwhelmed with unprocessed heartbreak and abandonment, it is nice having my two very stable in-laws in my life.

Yesterday, my in-laws came to visit (they live about 2.5 hours away by car), and I took my MIL to the One of A Kind Show, while my FIL relaxed at our house with the dogs. We saw lots of amazing work, some of which was well beyond our personal budgets, but we did manage to get some Christmas presents done. We also got to sample many yummy decadences such as chocolates, and my favourite- a cranberry pudding with butter sauce (which was gluten free!). A lady walking next to us recommended it, claiming that “once you have this cranberry pudding, you won’t need sex anymore”. Such a bold claim, we definitely turned around and checked it out. It was delicious, but my orgasms are better. Speaking of which, with transfer happening in t-minus 4 days, I better get all that I can now.

After the show, we came home and I made us all a nice dinner. The four of us polished off 5 beers and three full bottles of red wine. A family that drinks together (and doesn’t get into fights), stays together right?

We made them coffee, Cinnabon waffles, and eggs this morning. And they just left for a visit with some friends in wine country.

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My MIL is an avid quilter, and made us an ornament for our tree (we still haven’t hung our ornaments yet), and a Santa (not for our tree).

They also offered to pay for our FET, as a Christmas present, but we couldn’t accept. It was such a nice gesture, but they’re retired, and it’s a couple thousand dollars, not including all of the intralipid infusions this time. Plus, I feel like we need to own this ourselves, though I hope that little spark feels this very clear welcome from grandma and grandpa.