Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Last day of birth control pills

I have been counting down this day for weeks! Thinking back to when I started this pill on May 10th the 30th seemed so far away and in fact it was. I felt like every day was a week. It's funny because before starting BCP days went by with the snap of a finger. Now I am sitting here with my last birth control pill. I am so happy to stop taking this pill! I will not miss the nausea, vomiting twice, or the moody feeling I had while on this pill!

This week has been going by so fast!! We have so much going on in the next couple of weeks I am ready to get the show on the road. We are both so excited and nervous at the same time. We are so blessed to be where we are. We thank God each and every day because without him we would never be where we are today.

This Saturday is our 8 year anniversary! 8 years of being together! Wow does time sure fly by. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am content right where I am at with the best wife I could ever ask for.

Until next time!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IVF 101

This is borrowed from another bloggers page "Deuces Wild & an Ace in the Hole", but I thought it was a very good overview, so I borrowed some of it! 

This post is meant to serve one main purpose: to help family and friends who never been through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to better understand the process. It is complicated, and if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

There are five main phases of the IVF process. The process is completed during the same amount of time it takes to complete a normal one-month menstrual cycle.

1. Start of Birth Control Pills (minus placebo)
2. Ovarian Stimulation
3. Egg Retrieval
4. Fertilization
5. Embryo Culture
6. Embryo Transfer

Birth Control Pills
Some doctors like to have a controlled cycle (with Birth Control Pills) before they do the actual IVF cycle. And most IVF cycles begin with 10-20 days of BCP as well. Does not mess the cycle or interrupt the ovarian reserve.

Ovarian Stimulation
During ovarian stimulation the ovaries are stimulated using powerful fertility drugs with the goal of having as many eggs as possible mature. Having as many eggs as possible mature is necessary because some may not fertilize at all while others will fail to develop normally after they are fertilized.

The ovarian stimulation drug I will be taking is called Bravelle and Menopur.

During ovarian stimulation my ovaries will be closely monitored by frequent ultrasounds, estrogen, prolactin, and progesterone levels will closely monitored by frequent blood work. When any of the follicles get close to measuring on the “mature” range (usually above 14 mm) I will start taking another medication called Ganerillex. Ganerillex with keep my body from ovulating on it’s own, prior to the egg retrieval (which would be VERY bad and would cancel the IVF cycle!). On average I take the Ganerillex for about 3-4 days prior to the egg retrieval.

There is a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) which can occur during ovarian stimulation. I am at a higher risk for developing this condition because I am young and most likely stimulate well to meds. The ultrasounds will also allow my doctor to watch for OHSS developing during ovarian stimulation.

The stimulation drugs have all kinds of lovely side effects (pages in fact). However, I’ll just have to take what comes, knowing the side effects will only be temporary. Again, we will be praying against negative side effects! I think the worst side effect will be the moodiness! 

Egg Retrieval
As the eggs mature I will have one last injection: Lupron injection. Now most use an HCG injection like I used during all four IUI cycles to induce ovulation. The purpose of an hCG injection during IVF is to mature the eggs even further before they are retrieved (instead of ovulated). HCG though can cause OHSS so my doctor is taking precaution and using Lupron instead which does the exact same thing!

The egg retrieval procedure is performed in the surgical unit.The procedure takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

Eggs are retrieved by a transvaginal ultrasound-guided aspiration procedure. Basically, during the procedure an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to identify mature follicles. Then, a fine needle is guided through the vaginal wall and into the follicle where the egg is aspirated (retrieved) through the needle.

Ouch?!?! Don’t worry. I will be fully sedated throughout the whole procedure although I have to admit, I would love to witness the whole thing. It does tend to be pretty painful for a couple of days afterwards too, but I should be medicated appropriately and it shouldn’t be too big of a deal=). I will meet my new friend Valium, LOL!

There are many variables that influence the number of eggs that will be retrieved from any one woman.

FertilizationShortly after egg retrieval, eggs are placed with motile sperm in a petri-dish (hence the name, in-vitro fertilization). And then, well, it’s quite simple. The number of eggs that successfully fertilize is completely up to God, since He is the creator of life.

Depending on the quality and quantity of the sperm sample a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be performed. During ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg, however, fertilization is still not a guarantee because, once again, fertilization is God’s business. God is the creator of life! Our RE automatically does ICSI on all frozen donor sperm IVF cycles, so we know ICSI will be used this cycle as well.

The day after the egg retrieval I will receive a report on how many eggs fertilized successfully. Fertilization is documented by the presence of two nuclei. One nucleus is from the sperm and one is from the egg.

Embryo Culture: A Three to Five Day Process

Day 1: After fertilization, the nuclei from the egg and sperm fuse and the cellular division process of the newly created embryo begins.

Day 2: The embryos are carefully monitored for growth and proper cell division. The embryos are growing from a two-cell embryo to a four-cell embryo.

Day 3: The embryos are in the six to eight-cell stage now. Depending on the number of embryos, day three may be the transfer day (will explain what “transfer” is below.) If three or more eight-cell embryos are present, a 5-day transfer is very possible. Five-day transfers allows for better embryo selection since some of the embryos will not progress beyond the eight-cell stage. The decision on whether to do a 3-day or 5-day transfer is largely dependent on the number of embryos present and their quality.

Day 4: Eight-cell embryos that continue to grow and develop will now be at the morula stage (15-32 cell embryo).

Day 5: The embryos who make it to day five, form a cavity called the blastocoel (which is why the embryo can now be called a blastocyst). 

Everyone going through IVF prays for embryos that are strong enough to make it to a 5-day transfer.

In summary, there are three critical development points that must occur if a 5-day transfer is to take place:
Four to eight-cell embryo stage
Morula to Blastocyst Stage

Embryos are “graded” using a numeric grading system with a Grade 1 embryo being the best and a Grade 4 embryo being the worst. It is important to know that the grade an embryo receives is no indication whatsoever about whether it will become a healthy or unhealthy baby. The grade is meant to only give doctors and their patients a means by which to measure the viability of any one embryo. In other words, a Grade 1 embryo has a much higher chance of actually implanting into the uterus and becoming a viable pregnancy whereas a Grade 4 embryo’s chance of becoming a viable pregnancy is not impossible, but very unlikely.

Obviously, we will be praying for many Grade 1 embryos that can make it to a 5-day transfer!

Embryo Transfer
During the embryo transfer, the doctor inserts a catheter through the cervix into the uterus and transfers one or more embryos. The embryo(s) is/are strategically transferred to the particular place an embryo would naturally implant in the uterus. If the embryo continues to develop in the uterus, it will hatch from the egg’s outer layer and implant into the uterine lining approximately six to ten days after the egg retrieval.

Depending on a woman’s age and the viability (grade) of her embryos, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends transferring one to three embryos. We plan on transferring two embryos!

Cryopreservation – What to do with any “left over” embryos

Any remaining embryos following the embryo transfer can be frozen for future use.
This is perhaps the most controversial aspect of the in-vitro fertilization process. 

If there are any “extras” and the first cycle of IVF fails, we will not have to go through any of the first four steps described in this post. A certain number of frozen embryos will be “unfrozen” and then transferred into my uterus at a third of the cost that this first, fresh IVF cycle.


Monday, May 21, 2012

One step closer

This afternoon we drove to our IVF clinic and paid them in full. We are officially paid off! Payment is due a week before STIMS are to be started but we paid early. We wanted to get it off our list.

It felt so good to hand over the check. This includes the IVF cycle only. Does not include our meds or the intralipid treatments I have to go through. This is something we have wanted for what seems forever. This brings up so many memories. Memories of when we first started our first IUI to the fourth try. We knew we were never going to give up on this journey no matter what it took. This is something we wanted. Something we carry close to our heart each and every day. We won't let anything stand in our way, we are one step closer. Together we will be brave and hold our hands together on this amazing journey. Our journey.

On the way to pay we were listening to the radio to pass time. A thousand years played and it reminded us what we are reaching for. What we want. Its such a beautiful song and it fits anyone on the emotional roller coaster of trying to conceive. I am so glad I have an amazing wife to go through this with. She is there for me each and every day and I would never want anyone else to share my tears and joys with. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Calendar Organization!

(You can click picture to enlarge)

As we all know.....I love and have to be organized. As much as I can be, especially when it comes to IVF. Yesterday I got my hard copy of my calendar with a whole bunch of other document goodies and decided their calendar was not up to my standards...LOL! So there I was for two hours fiddling around with Excel and composing my calendar. Finally after two hours of getting everything together, our IVF calendar is complete!

The screen shot above does not include the other two sheets I have for pre-retrieval and post transfer! I feel very good about the calendar and now I just need to print it!

I have set up all of my meds on top of the dresser and soon my calendar will be hanging up on the wall so I can clearly keep track of each and every day! Counting down!! We only have 17 more days until we start stims! Bring it on!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Medication Arrival!

We got our meds!!! I have never been this excited, lol! They sent my meds overnight and the entire day it was a waiting game for them. Finally, FedEx drove up and delievered the most beautiful package yet! Yes all 10 lbs of meds! We opened the package and our eyes grew to the size of apples. We counted everything and refrigerated what needed to be refrigerated and made sure everything was organized. Everything was there! Phew, no problems on this end. 

So for the next couple of weeks our dresser is going to be my medicine cabinet filled with needles and medicine. Receiving our medications just made it that much more real that our IVF journey is fast approaching. So from here on out its relaxing, staying stress free and getting everything ready!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting our calendar...throwing up

Well today has been a weird day to say the least! I have been on birth control pills since last week and have been nauseated the entire time. To say the least I have been getting used to this feeling. However, this morning it got really worse. I got the urge to throw up and I did exactly that! I felt a whole lot better afterwards. I have never been on birth control before so I know these are the side effects especially the one I am on. Lets just say I have a plan of attack for when and if I do have morning sickness! LOL

On another note, we got a draft of our calendar! We will officially get our calendar tomorrow but this is what it is going to look like!

~birth control pills for a minimum of 21 days (started on 5/10 and the last one will be taken on 5/30.)
~Blood tests , teaching instructions and ultrasound appt at ZFC on 6/3
~start stimulation injections on 6/4
~back for blood tests and ultrasound at ZFC on 6/9 ** sperm must be deliverd by this date**
~monitoring appt's to be determined 6/10-12
~estimated egg retrieval 6/13-16 with IL infusion
~estimated embryo transfer 6/17-21

YAHOO!!! Wow, its really setting in and on Wednesday we get out lovely medications! We are super excited at this point we are just counting down the days!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Medication Order

Well, we did it! We ordered our medications!!

Yesterday, I got an email with my prescriptions and while we knew the cost of what the meds were going to cost us it really hit us full throttle yesterday afternoon. I think we had a minor heart attack, lol! We sat down and called 10 pharmacies and each one had their pros and cons but most importantly was the price. After much discussing we choose Freedom Fertility. We are pleased with our decision.

Here is what we ordered:
-2 0.25mg Cetrotide
-1 Lupron trigger 1mg
-20 Lovenox 40mg
-30 Dexamethasone 1mg
-2 progesterone in oil 50mg
-18 Menopur 75 IU
-36 Bravelle 75 IU

Total cost.....$3,143.21

This is after discounts! Phew we did it! Along with this order comes free shipping, all the syringes we will need, and other good stuff.

After placing the order I looked at Sarah and we both smiled. We are very excited and fortunate to be able to be here at this point in our lives. We feel blessed!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Our very first video blog

We decided that we wanted to video record our entire journey from start to finish. We recorded our very first video and while we are novice at this please excuse our shaky filming, etc. Oh and this is intended for our kids to be, so when we refer to momma or mommy it's because these are meant for our kids :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

This is it! Can you believe it?!

This morning we had our Antra follicle count ultrasound. 11:45 to be exact. I wasn't sure what to expect really. My nerves were up the wall but at the same time I was overly excited. When we arrived at the facility we waited and within five minutes we were taken to the back and placed in room to wait for the doctor. I could feel my nerves in my throat, why was I so nervous?

The doctor finally came in and we both greeted him. We felt like a million bucks by this time. He asked me a couple questions and as soon as you know it I was laying on the table proped open and ready to go. He found my uterus and said "you have a great uterus". Those were words of gold then he went to my left ovary and said "there they are"! Indeed there were many little resting follicles take a nap before show time. 10 on the left ovary and bam 10-12 on the right. At this point we were in shock mode. We were blessed to have such great news. He asked us more questions and within an hour we were given our birth control pills and instructions. We couldn't even believe it. It felt as though we were walking on water. I now know what it means to be on cloud 9. That's exactly where I was.

On the way back to work we were all smiles and at one point we both looked at each other and said "do you realize what is happening?!" Tears streamed down my face. Tears of happiness and joy. Feeling so blessed to be where we are. This has been such an amazing journey and there is no regrets. This is just the beginning. the beginning of a beautiful start.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hmmm....So I have to tell you something....

Sarah and I have talked a lot about telling my close co-worker and boss about our IVF journey. When we started our IUI journey we thought to keep it private but since IVF is more aggressive on time, etc. we knew the best thing would be to tell them up front so they are more understanding when I call in that morning because of an appointment.....kinda like tomorrow! I started my period so this means we go to find out what protocol we are on and get a list of meds and doses!!

When I told my boss her response was AMAZING! She was soooo incredibly happy for both of us and she even said she would do my injections! How awesome is that! My boss was a labor and delivery nurse for 24 years before becoming a director so I know I trust her with administrating my injections! I feel like a weight was lifted off me!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Capturing every memory

This evening we bought something we have been meaning to buy for the past couple of months....

A camcorder! After two hours at Bestbuy we came out with a good HD camera! We are two happy campers! We always knew we wanted to document our entire process of IVF. We wanted to do it when we were starting our IUI process but kept putting it on the back burner. As we get closer to the date for our IVF we wanted to make sure we were ready to go! 

This week my period should be starting. I can already feel my cramps coming like clock work! I never have been so excited for my period to start, lol! As soon as my period starts we have to call and get an appointment for our Antrafollicule count. At this appointment we will find out what protocol we are on and from there we will be given our medication list. This is very exciting! We will then shop around for meds and make sure we get the best price for our medications. This is going to be a big step in our journey. 

Somewhere in the next couple of weeks we also have a lot of stuff to do before we start. Like organizing, painting, gardening, and more organizing!

Till next time <3

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Getting nervous about injections!

Okay so it hit me today that in about a month and a half we are going to be starting our IVF journey! Yesterday, we went to our fertility center and got more blood work done. It was great to see all the nurses and coordinators we are going to be working so closely with for the next couple of months! As I started pondering and smiling on the fact of our IVF journey it hit me like a ton of bricks the amount of injections I am going to have to do! Oh lord, please give me the strength to be okay and not have any problems with them. I am not nervous about the injections on my stomach or leg....the ones that are freaking me out a lot are the ones in my butt and arm! *nervous face*. Sarah and I have spent the last hour looking at videos on how to do injections the more I look at them the more nervous I get. I know all will be okay. I am not scared of needles per say but more scared of having to put them in myself or Sarah poking way to fast, lol.

We are getting SO excited we can't even contain it!!!! The next couple of weeks will be working on the house and fixing things and organizing so we don't have to worry once IVF comes around!

Bye for now!

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