Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Monster is Back

Today sucks. The crappy additude that comes with BCP is back. My temper is short, my energy is low, and I have to fight the urge to smack nearly everyone who is unfortunate enough to be in my presence. I really wish I could seclude myself away in a dark room with nothing but my pj's, a comfy couch, a fuzzy blanket, my iPad, and sappy movies. Stupid birth control. I've been thinking a lot about adoption lately. I hate what I'm putting my body through and I worry that this will never work. I'm so disappointed and discouraged by my body and our results so far, and at this point I'm ready to throw in the towel. Hell, I've been ready to throw in the towel for months now, I'm just too stubborn to quit and I don't want to disappoint my husband. I really wish it was easier to adopt. So many people say "just adopt" or "start the adoption process and you'll probably get pregnant" or "don't worry, you can always adopt". These people have no idea what the F they're talking about. Adoption is a very long, very expensive, very involved process! You have to find and pick an agency (there are LOTS), apply (some have application fees), be accepted, go to meetings and classes, have a home study, make a profile, wait (usually for months) to be matched with a birth mother or to have a birth mother pick your profile over many others, meet the birth mother, hope the mother isn't smoking/drinking/doing drugs, prepare for baby (sometimes with only a few weeks until the baby is due), hope the birth mother doesn't change her mind, wait for the baby to be born, hope there are no issues, wait 48hrs after the birth before the mother can sign adoption papers, hope the birth mother doesn't decide to keep the baby, hope the father doesn't dispute the adoption, get the baby, go to court to finalize the adoption, hope the father doesn't dispute the adoption, and THEN you have a baby. A domestic infant adoption usually costs between $20-$40k. Most these days are open adoptions and the birth mother gets to pick the adoptive family. She also has the right to change her mind and pick a different family... At any time. I have heard of families preparing for babies, only to be told they weren't getting one. On the flip side, I have a client who was told they weren't selected, then, a few months later, got a call informing them the mother had changed her mind and they needed to come pick their baby up within two hours. They had nothing for a baby! Open adoptions also include some level of contact with the birth mother. The level of contact is decided by the birth mother and can range from as little as pictures every once in a while, to as extreme as regular visitation, especially if the mother has other kids. Then there's always the worry that "daddy" will one day show up and try to claim his parental rights. It's rare and there's usually not much he can do at that point, but it can happen, it usually requires court to settle, and there is a chance the adoption can be over-turned. International adoption usually doesn't come with the birth parent issues, but there are many other factors that complicate getting a child from another country. Required trips (sometimes weeks at a time), long waiting periods, expensive visas, tons and tons of paperwork, and usually the baby is nearly a year old by the time you get to take it home and you have no idea what conditions it lived with for the first months of its life. So, again... I wish it was easier to adopt. I want so badly to be a mother! I don't care anymore if the child is biologically mine, I just want children. It doesn't even have to be a baby... I'll take a toddler! I don't want to go through this any more. I just want to hold a child in my arms and know that I'm responsible for him/her. I just want to be called mommy. Ugh... Sorry for the depressing post. Please, God, grant me strength.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Second Chances

The more sure I got that I wasn't pregnant, the more determined I became to find our next option.
I found a new clinic, with great success rates, close to home, and much cheaper than my current clinic close to home. They even offer a package with 3 fresh and 3 frozen cycles, for the price of 2 fresh and 2 frozen and if you don't take home a baby, they refund 70% of the package price. My problem is, though, that I have way too many unanswered questions. Was my last cycle a lab problem? Is there a problem with my eggs? Is it an issue with me and Patrick together? If its a lab issue, I could very well get pregnant on the first cycle and we would have paid more than double for 1 cycle.
My solution? I found a clinic that does a shared egg cycle for only $3000, flat. It could be my little experiment! It would change the lab, give my eggs a shot with Patrick's sperm, and give them a shot with the recipients' sperm, thus testing all theories. If it worked, GREAT! Our additional cost would be minimal. If not, at least we would know where our problem is and if we need to spring for the package, or if we could do cycle by cycle.
I went in 11dp2dt for my beta. My HPT that morning had been negative so I was prepared for the worst. I called Patrick from work to tell him about my plan for our next steps and he said that sounded like a great idea. As we were going over the plan, my phone beeped for call-waiting. The caller ID said it was my clinic.
I told Patrick I would call him back and switched calls, expecting my nurse to be on the other line. Instead, it was the embryologist. He said that he wasn't going to beat around the bush, and that he was extremely sorry, but my beta came back negative. He told me that he had talked to my doctor, and that they both feel like they had dropped the ball with me and that they should have, and can, do much better with me. (At this point I was thinking that he was just trying to convince me to come back to them) Then he told me that he they were offering me a free cycle.
I was speechless. My jaw literally dropped and I stood there for a moment with my mouth hanging open, blinking at space and looking like someone had punched me.
He went on to tell me that the company that had sponsored the study was willing to sponsor another cycle for me, the clinic was willing to waiver their remaining fees, that he had spoken to the anesthesiologist, who had agreed to donate his services for ER, and that they were trying to get all my medicines donated as well, giving me a 100% free cycle! If they can't get all my meds, I'd have to buy anything they couldn't get, but that would be my only expense.
This is truly a gift from God!
My doctor assured me that they were going to stim me much slower this time, as he thinks my sky-rocketing E2 played a big part in my egg quality and they're really going to try to not have me over-stim this time so that I hopefully make it to transfer. I have an appointment with him on Monday to go over last cycle and the upcoming one, and I have a list of questions ready for him. For now I'm back on BCP... yuck!... and I'll cycle again in July. The lab is closed the first two weeks in July, and at first I was upset about the delay, but now I'm thankful for it. We have a lot going on right now and I think the break will be good for me, mentally and physically.
Lately I've felt much more at peace with everything that's happened. Patrick and I have plenty to keep us busy and I think that's helped keep me from dwelling. We are going to Chicago for a week the last weekend in June and I'm really looking forward to the trip! I'll be starting Lupron while up there so that I can start stims immediately after the lab re-opens. Luckily, its just Lupron and not anything that needs to be refrigerated or taken intramuscularly.
We're also buying a house! Right now, closing is set for July 20, but things are progressing quicker than we thought, so we're hoping to close sooner. We plan on doing some remodeling before we move in (we both refuse to live through another remodel) and we hope to move in by August 1. As it stands right now, I'm expecting ER to be the last week of July, and (hopefully) have ET the first week in August, so we're definitely going to be hiring movers this time around. If all goes to plan, I'll have a week at home... the new home!... to unpack and get settled, but how often do things go as planned?!
Good things are happening and I'm excited about the road ahead. For the past few years I've felt like everything in my life was going wrong, and at times I've felt so hopeless. I've come to realize that things were going wrong because I was trying to force them to be right. I tried to take things out of God's hands and put them in my own. Now that I've given control back to God, things are going right without my help. We're being given a second chance, with the house and the IVF. My first cycle may not have gone as I'd hoped, but I know its all for the best in the end. All I can do is put my faith in God and go with the flow.

Thank you, God, for everything You give us.

Bitter Disappointments

Its been a long time since I've updated. I'm going to break my update down into two post so its not too long. So much has happened and emotionally I've been thrown from one end of the spectrum to the other.
So, my FET cycle was progressing perfectly and I had very high hopes of success. The embryologist had decided to thaw and fertilize my 11 frozen eggs to give me the best chance and my transfer date was moved up from May 31 to May 29. I had my last US/BW on Wednesday, May 23 and everything was looking great so I was to start progesterone that night. That evening, right before my shot, the embryologist called to tell me that he had thawed my eggs and that 6 had been ICSI'd.
Wait. Six? What the H happened to the other FIVE?! (That's what I wanted to ask... instead I asked...)
"Only six?"
Embryologist: "Oh. Yes, well, we couldn't find one", WHAT?!... "and unfortunately four did not survive the thaw."
I was upset. I was under the impression that vitrification had around a 90% or better thaw survival rate, and I only got a 60% survival rate? I asked him why he thought we lost so many, and why we had only had a 50% fertilization rate with the ICSI during the first cycle. He gave me a vague, indirect, almost deflective answer about natural selection and how, with the new improvements in fertility treatments, we are breeding more and more infertile people.
Now, I may be a hairdresser, and I may not have a college degree, but I'm not stupid and his answer sounded like a brush off to me.
Still, I comforted myself with the thinking that hopefully the four eggs that didn't survive the thaw were the weak ones that wouldn't have fertilized anyways and that hopefully the six that made it will all fertilize. That was not the case, though.
The next day the embryologist called back to tell me that only ONE had actually fertilized. ONE! Out of six, only one. He told me that they had already started thawing my embryos, which were frozen in 3 straws of 2, and that they had decided to do a day 3 transfer instead of a day 5. He told me he would call me within two hours with further details. An hour later he called back to tell me that the first straw they thawed, neither embryo survived, and the second straw, both survived, but the decision had been made to transfer the next day, on day 2.
So the next day Patrick and I got up crazy early and hit the road. We were both angry. At this point we both felt like there had been a problem with the lab. So far, out of 18 ICSI'd eggs, we had only gotten 7 embryos... a 39% fertilization rate. Out of 15, well, we'll say 14 since they lost one, thawed eggs and embryos, we lost 6 total in the thaw, giving us a 57% thaw rate. Given that both ICSI and vitrification are suppose to have success rate in the 90% range, our only answer was that the lab had done something wrong.... or that there was something very wrong with us.
Halfway there, we decided that it didn't matter. We were transferring three embryos and that meant we had a good chance of getting pregnant. Our goal is to have a baby, and it doesn't matter what happened along the way as long as we get there.
At the clinic we were in good spirits. Patrick had to put on one of those paper jumpsuits and it was WAAAAY too small! He ripped open the seams that the armpits and crotch immediately, and the seam at the butt was so strained I was surprised it held. Not to mention it the legs only reached to his calves and the arms to mid-forearm. We took pictures... it was hilarious!
Pretty soon the embryologist came in, holding what I have been so anxiously waiting for since this started- the pictures of our embryos. Except, he didn't look very happy... and there was only one picture.
Embryologist-"I'm sorry, but I'm really not happy with the results we've been getting from your embryos."
My heart sank.
Embryologist-"Neither one of the embryos we thawed yesterday divided overnight. The egg we fertilized on Wednesday night is only two cells and we were really hoping for four cells today, but it is alive and we feel good about transferring it."
I was dumbfounded. I sat there, smiling and nodding because if I dropped my smile I knew I would break down. He must have thought I was crazy.
He told us he would normally have given us a 40% chance of success with one day 2 embryo, but since it was behind and we had lost so many, he was not even going to guess that high... in fact, he didn't even give us a number.
Patrick hadn't gotten that we were only down to one, and was still optimistic about transferring three, and I had to tell him that there was only one because the others had died. After that, I could tell he was very upset.
The transfer was easy. No pain, no discomfort. Honestly, I think I was numb from the news. I was just trying to keep it together. I was on the verge of tears the entire time but I couldn't name the emotion that was causing them.
After the transfer, they brought us the vial the embryos had been frozen in, and the petri-dish my little "JellyTot" had grown in. That was special. Then we went home, both upset.
The next few days are vague. I know I cried randomly and fairly often. Then I decided to be hopeful. JellyTot had survived when ALL my other embryos had died before reaching this stage. That had to mean he/she was strong. I was optimistic for a while, enjoying the fact that I had a potential life inside me. Patrick even rubbed my belly and told JellyTot to grow while we were in bed at night.
I held off on testing for nearly the whole time. At 9dp2dt (nine days past two day transfer) I broke down and tested. It was negative and I was surprisingly at peace with it. I'd had a feeling all along that this wasn't going to work. I'd just KNOWN that it wasn't our time. Sure, I still did hope that it was just a late implanter and that the test would be positive the next day, or the next, or that my beta would surprise me, but my logical side told me that it was time to come up with Plan B.
Yes, I do still have 2 day1 embryos in the freezer, but given everything that had happened, chances were good that they wouldn't even make it to transfer. Despite my reluctance to do so, I knew I'd have to go through another fresh IVF cycle.
As my tests over the next couple days kept coming up negative, instead of Googling "day 2 transfer success stories", I began researching other options.

To Be Continued....

Please, God, grant me strength to do what needs to be done, and serenity to get through it.