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.

Finally- Some Answers

I need to take a breath before I post this. I am an intense ball of “need to google everything” right now, but I also wanted to put this out there for all you super smart fertility people.

So, I got a phone call today from our RE’s head nurse. We got my natural killer Th1/Th2 results, and they are abnormally high. I am very TH1 dominant. In a normal person, TH1 and TH2 should be balanced, as each is responsible for protecting the body against different pathogens. I will write a more informative post about this another day. Right now, I’m just trying to process this new important piece of information.

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They want me to start intralipids next week on cycle day 13. I’m supposed to bring a pillow and a blanket because it involves having me hooked up to an IV for 2 hours. It will cost us $750, but I am willing to do just about anything for this to work.

I am worried about my prognosis for a successful live birth, even with the intralipids. Since I know so little about this, I’m going to spend the evening researching the fuck out of it. My plans were to set up the Christmas tree, but that can wait.

I know a couple of you are also on intralipids. Can you tell me what it feels like, what success you’ve been told will happen with it, and also anything else you think can help me wrap my head around it.

So far, all I know is that being TH1 dominant is related to a slew of autoimmune issues, and explains the Celiac Disease that I have. I also know that stress shifts the dominance even more so in favour of TH1. While stress as a cause of miscarriage is kind of a weak claim, I think that my extreme stress at work during the beginning of the school year certainly could have worsened my TH1 dominance. Next week, I will meet with my family doctor, and get an extension on my medical leave. There is no way that I’m going back to work when I’ve got an embryo transfer happening in two weeks.

Anyways, I’m gonna go google like it’s going out of style, and will post again sometime tomorrow.

Happy Humpday!

Liebster Award!

Thank you to TwoMommasInTheWorks for the nomination! Pops and Oli, you have been a pleasure to follow! This is my first nomination, and it sure feels good.

So here is how it works:

1. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.

2. Answer the questions designated by the blogger who nominated you.

3. List 11 random facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 3-5 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.

5. Make up a set of questions for the nominated bloggers to answer.

The Questions:

1. What state do you live in?

I live in Ontario, Canada.

2. If you weren’t pregnant or in the TTC process, what would be number one on your bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list. I kind of treat it as a “To Do List”. If I wasn’t trying to be host to a parasite, I would have enjoyed spending my summer either: chasing turtles in the blue ocean around Maui, walking the public markets in Thailand, or getting diarrhea in China.

3. Is your family supportive of your plan into parenthood?

My mother and sister know, but father doesn’t yet. My wife’s immediate family all know. Everyone has been very supportive so far.

4. What are three things that make you want to follow someone else’s’ blog?

Humour, relevance, and regular posts.

5. How many kids do you ideally want and what genders? Twins?

Oh gosh, I want a whole litter. Other than my parents only having two, everyone else in my extended family all had 4 kids. My grandparents on both sides had 5 and 6. It feels a bit lonely right now because I live so far away from my family, and I’m so used to having tons of cousins around.

Gender is not important to me. Children of both genders have annoyed me. lol.

Twins would be awesome (but my nipples would hurt like hell).

6. Are you planning ahead to have the same donor for other kids or one step at a time?

It was slim pickin’s for us when we were buying sperm. And I approached the situation much like one does when organic chicken broth goes on sale at Costco- I bought it alll…… But really, all meant that we ended up buying 4 viles of Cherokee (our nickname for one donor), and 2 viles of Braun (the nickname for our other donor). So far, we’ve used up 3 Cherokee and 1 Braun for IUI’s and 1 Cherokee for the IVF. 1 vile of Braun remains. If we don’t two babies out of our last two potential FETs, then we will probably use up the last Braun. Sorry for making this into a math problem.

7. Does your partner read your blog?

Yes, she does. But since she doesn’t have WordPress on her iPhone, she just kind of checks it out whenever. Sometimes this means that she misses many posts in a row, and then finally finds out that I wrote a post about her masturbating me. lol. Ooopps!

10. What made you fall in love with your partner?

It was love at first sight… in a nasty musky hockey change room. She was running her mouth about something that I wasn’t listening to because I was staring at her abs…. and biceps…. and deltoids

Not only that, she has a sharp wit, is extremely handy (I’m a bit of a princess at times), and super thoughtful.

11. What do you typically do Sunday mornings?

Sleep in, sip an americano in bed (care of my lovely wife), make a kick-ass brunch, and go on a romantic hike with my wife and our dogs.

 

Random Facts:

1. Our little dog, Clementine (chihuahua-pug mix) aggressively humps a microfleece blanket at least 7 times after every meal. Right in our front bay window. For everyone to see. Especially the preschool group that walks daily along the sidewalk in front of our house.

2. Our big dog, Juno (husky-lab-retriever mix) has killed over 40 animals, ranging from birds, to medium sized mammals, to baby deer. She is extremely protective, and unstoppable.

3. My wife is more Chinese than I am (not literally). She is 4 inches shorter than me, has pin straight black hair (mine is wavy/curly), is proficient using chopsticks with both hands, and has actually been to China. She tops this off by sporting a rice-picker hat every year at Pride.

4. My wife used to be a competitive powerlifter.

5. We both used to play varsity field hockey for our undergraduate universities.

6. We have 6 university degrees between the two of us, and just finished paying off the student loans that they incurred in 2012.

7. I grew up playing in a family band (like the Partridge Family). We performed on a cruise ship once.

8. DW was part of the Young Astronauts Club, and witnessed the Challenger tragedy in grade 3 (1986). She remembers pointing at the TV screen, yelling “They’re all DEAD! They’re all DEAD!!!”, and was subsequently ushered out of the room by the teacher.

9. I have abnormally long limbs. I stand at 5’7”, but my wingspan measures 5’11 (they’re supposed to be the same). In medical school clinicians used me as an example of “Marfan Syndrome”. I don’t actually have Marfan Syndrome. Marfan Syndrome is actually really sad.

10. I’m really bad at foreplay. I kind of like to just get it on. DW has to remind me of these four five syllables: “fore-play-cuddle-after”. It’s so bad that it’s kind of a joke now.

11. I have dreadlocks. They are self-maintaining, clean, and beautiful. They also smell amazing- like scalp and Aveda.

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(The little dog demonstrating the proper “cuddle after” technique)

 

Nominations:

1. The Gayby Project http://lyonsferocious.wordpress.com/

Hilarious, honest, and super awesome. These girls are doing their first FET today!

2. Not Sisters http://notsisters.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/6249/

Also hilarious, very entertaining, and apparently look alike. They recently miscarried, and are navigating these waters with a wee little one already.

3. Religion: Optional https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/47035424/

Their little girl Punky, should have her own Tumblr. She is friggin’ adorable. Rachael, Kim, and Punky are a sweet family that I really enjoy following. Rachel’s posts are so honest and heartfelt. Sometimes, they are a little ray of sunshine in my day.

Questions for Them:

1. Describe your most embarrassing moment.

2. Team Jacob or Team Edward? Explain.

3. What is a recurring inside joke between you and your partner?

4. What is a baby name that you absolutely cannot stand?

5. What would you do if you won $20,000 dollars (that cannot be put towards baby-making or paying off debts).

6. What are 3 qualities that you love about your partner?

7. Teenage celebrity crush?

8. What is a guaranteed way to get you out of a bad mood?

9. What is your favourite comfort food?

10. Team or individual sports?

11. Describe yourself.

I Feel Broken

Normally, I’d google a keyword related to the theme of my post, but today I don’t think I can even find a visual to convey how truly broken, destroyed, or despaired I feel. Nothing new has happened. I just think that the reality of the past 15 months has finally hit me. Like the denial has worn off. I’m probably in a bit of a mood as well, I suspect.

The past 15 months…..

has changed me

I no longer enter a room filled with optimism or a smile on my face.

I no longer enjoy each day like it’s filled with new opportunity.

I am weary of conversations with people because they always seem to ask when DW and I are gonna have children… And I hate lying, and I really really wish I could just tell everyone what we are going through because the burden of it is overwhelming me. I wish I could get some sympathy (different from pity) because I feel like I’m filling with sadness that is weighing me down and I need someone to carry my pack for a while so that I can heal.

I am no longer vibrant and interesting to talk to. I’ve had many moments lately where I contribute nothing to conversations, which is very unlike me. I used to be described as charming and very personable. It makes me wonder if maybe all of those really awkward people I’ve met in social gatherings were going through something painful like this.

I’ve got this baby snatcher vibe going on. No joke. I won’t elaborate, as I might creep out some of my mama blogger friends on here. But basically, my baby envy has increased significantly. I’m cradling and rocking my little dog like a baby, holding her body close to mine, hearts close together. I’m tearing up just thinking of how badly I yearn to hold my own baby, and how it’s taking too long.

DW is upset with me for being upset. She is going through her own grieving and blaming process. Blaming herself and her body for the two miscarriages, and grieving the fact that it is time to move on to using my body for the last 3 embryos. (Remember that the only reason we were doing IVF was for her to carry my embryos). She feels that she has more of a right to be upset because “[I] still get to try”, and she doesn’t. In a way, I do agree with her point of view, but I see us as a team who has failed. I feel like the odds have been against us. I feel like the game has been rigged and the rules haven’t been fair, and sometimes I wonder what the hell is the point in playing anymore.

Now I know there are many others who have been at this for longer, and I hope I am not coming across as entitled or whiney. I admire you for your continued perseverance and optimism, and for supporting us along the way (even if you occasionally roll your eyes), but my struggle is real. It penetrates into the depths of my core, to the point where I haven’t been able to enjoy life as it exists right now.

Baby making has broken me.

Taking Time to Pause

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I have trouble sleeping. I always have. As early as I can remember, I have struggled with shutting down my mind for slumber. I am a worrier.

But ever since we decided that we wanted to have a child, my sleep got a bit better. I added daydreaming to my sleep routine. Right after resting my head on my pillow, settling into my final sleep posture, I would gently guide my mind to imagine our lives a year ahead, then 3 years ahead, sometimes then 5 years ahead.

I wandered through scenes of us hiking while wearing babies on our chests, the dogs licking baby food off our babies faces, DW’s parents wandering through Disney holding little hands, and DW looking ravishing at the age of 45, a few more wrinkles, wearing a smart vice-principal bob haircut.

I remember taking deep breaths of milky baby smell, rubbing my face along the soft wisps of our baby’s light brown hair, feeling the warmth radiating from our baby’s squishable body, and kissing soft almond-shaped eyes. My heart still sinks when I conjure “memories” of our baby’s coos and cries.

I launched into daydream like a swimmer kicks off the wall of a pool to get started. It led me to a peaceful space, to where I wanted my life to be. It helped me to realize what I wanted my happiness could look like. It became a dreamland that I couldn’t wait to return to. It made sleep a destination that my mind would allow me to reach.

For the first time in my life, I slept.

After this recent unsuccessful IUI however, something changed.

I have been trying my daydreaming routine right before bed, but I can’t see our baby’s faces. I can’t remember how they smell, how it feels to be skin-to-skin, the void that I would feel when they are off at school. My body has no memory of them. It feels forced, like making up lies about something that has happened to you.

Part of me feels like they have vanished simply because they never existed to begin with. Another part of me is worried that their memory has been erased because they will never happen. Like my mind is trying to protect me from the anguish that I will never recover from.

Either way, I am so deeply upset. We are neither moving forward nor able to rewind. If we were, perhaps I could remember what my childrens’ faces looked like again.