Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trigger Shot, the Egg Retrieval, and the Coming Weeks

Andy & I are having a rough week mentally and emotionally as this part of the journey is coming to end. I am outlining the hurdles that still need to be jumped in this post and the odds are working against us. I hope that we will be one of those “against all odds” success stories, but I am also trying to mentally prepare myself for the next couple of weeks. We knew these risks going into it and it has been a huge challenge physically, mentally, and financially but all dreams and risks have sacrifices to be made. If we wanted to be a pop star duo, we would be making those same types of sacrifices, but WE WANT TO BE PARENTS.

We want to thank everyone for their continuing support, especially our team of cheerleaders at our place of work, which we are lucky enough to share and have the most amazing friends and a true family there. To everyone who has called, sent texts, and Facebook messages – every one of them has kept us going just a little bit more each time. A shout out to my #IF #IVF community on Twitter, where I am @JustBeeCuzzzz among an amazing group of ladies (and men) that truly understand. Whatever happens, we know we are loved and we will still need you… well, forever.

SO, here we go…

2/26: Last night at 10:30pm I took my last shot in this round of IVF. It’s called a Trigger Shot, and the Egg Retrieval surgery is scheduled for approximately 36 hours after. 

2/27: This morning I will have a blood scan just to check my levels. NO MORE SHOTS!

2/28: Andy & I will be reporting to our fertility clinic’s (FSMG) surgery center - San Diego Center for Reproductive Surgery (SDCRS) at 8:30am for a 9:30am surgery. The only thing I need to bring is socks, and I am going to wear the pink cat & heart socks my mom just sent me for Valentine’s Day a couple weeks ago for good luck. Well, I also need to bring Andy for his essential contribution, a photo ID and $460 cash/check for the anesthesiologist.

Then 5-6 of the most stressful days of our life (so far at least) begin. We have already been through these days once, which netted a single blastocyst (currently frozen, waiting for some embryo siblings to join it). At each of these stages, a % will drop off and not move to the next phase. I am not being pessimistic – this is just a fact and part of the process, but heartbreaking.
  • Day 0 - Friday 2/28, a while after the Egg Retrieval: I can expect a call at the end of Day 0 to let us know how many of the retrieved eggs were mature enough to move to the ICSI stage. ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (a single sperm is injected directly into the egg).
  • Day 1 - Saturday 3/1: A call to tell us how many fertilized.
  • Day 2 – Sunday 3/2: Cell division happening, but no update call. If cells aren’t dividing, the embryo is non-viable.
  • Day 3 – Monday 3/3: a call to tell us the progress on cell division (hoping for 8 cells per embryo) and how many we have left.
  • Day 4 – Tuesday 3/4: Cell division happening, but no update call.
  • Day 5 – Wednesday 3/5: Hoping for blastocyst(s)! Sometimes they need another day to develop to Day 6. At this point, an embryo biopsy will be performed (which we have on the blast from Round 1). The embryo(s) from Round 2 that made it to Day 5/6 will be cryopreserved (frozen) and the biopsy samples will be sent for Preimplantation Genetic Screening.

“PGS testing is done as part of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. The purpose of PGS is to raise your chance of becoming pregnant and lower the chance for miscarriage after embryo transfer.
PGS tests for the number of chromosomes in one or a few cells from each embryo of an IVF cycle. Embryos with the normal number of chromosomes (46) have a better chance of implanting and creating a healthy pregnancy. After PGS testing, these embryos can be selected for transfer to the mother’s uterus.”

We will be receiving those results around 3/13 or 3/14. At my age and egg quality, there is a high chance of chromosomal abnormalities so we opted for this phase to decrease the chances of (another) miscarriage. 
There is a chance that all embryos will come back as not viable, which is the worst case scenario, so we are hoping for at least one to be okay to transfer in another month or two.

I will try to keep everyone updated on the Day 0-5 or 6 because I think you all deserve it for following along, but it might be depending on the results and how I feel about them.

xo, P

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I am going to have a Stimulating Valentine’s Day weekend!

And not in the fun way you might think…

As a recap, I have been on a contraceptive pill for a month & a half to control/suppress my cycle, and testosterone gel (blech) for 15 days, which is used in preparation for this next phase – Androgen hormones are used to improve response to stimulation medications. My last night of those two items was Monday night – YAY, and now I have been wearing an Androderm patch every day this week (more testosterone to prep for the stimulants), which will end on Friday – Happy Valentine’s Day to me!  I had my baseline ultrasound appointment yesterday to make sure everything has been working as planned and there is no "follicular activity" happening before we want it to. It went well, and it's really happening - I start my "Stims" this Saturday night 2/15.

The Stimulants are a combination of three injections I need to give myself every night for about 2 weeks. Two are hormones used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs in a cycle, and one is a growth hormone used to improve response to the other two stimulants. On day 6ish, I start adding in a fourth morning shot to prevent early ovulation. For me, it is not stressful giving myself the actual injections – it's mixing them up correctly and in the right dosage. They aren't all wrapped up in a bow and ready to go; most need to be refrigerated, and I need to add supplied water and mix with powder, and make sure the right amount is in the syringe. I go in every other day for blood tests and then they will call me later in the afternoon to let me know if I need to adjust the dosage for that night. I will also be having frequent ultrasounds to track the progress of the follicles developing.

This is a different and more intense protocol than my first round in November, and we are really hoping it works – the bottom line is we need more eggs this time around, and the Egg Retrieval should be around the end of February/beginning of March. I will have frequent update posts until then… stay tuned!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I forgot to make a birthday wish!

My 38th birthday was Monday, February 3rd 2014. I get very fixated on dates, and I love birthdays. Through college my girls and I called them our Hanukkah birthdays since they would last at least 8 days. If that’s still the rule, then mine is still going as I write this! My birthday falls on or around Super Bowl (I am in Marketing - do I need to call it “The Big Game” in my blog too?) so that always makes for a good party. For the past couple of years, we have gone to Andy’s uncle & aunt’s house and they make my birthday so special. I know a house full of babies makes a lot of Infertiles uncomfortable, but for me it makes me laugh and feel loved – and these babies’ moms are my biggest supporters and I hope to add to the crew of cousins soon. And if not, I will continue to love them and have fun with them. 

At halftime, we were called into the kitchen for my cake - coconut, and it was SO good – thanks Aunt Helen! All the kids were so excited, my mom was there too, and everyone gathered around for the candles and song. I was just feeling so loved that I didn’t make a wish when I blew out the candles! I didn’t even think anything of it until the next day when someone mentioned that they hoped my birthday wish would come true. 

When it comes down to it, my past 3 birthday wishes have been the same – to give someone else a birthday. I haven’t thought of it in quite that way until now and it hasn’t come true yet so I guess birthday candle wishes aren’t that important if you are happy in the moment. Thank you to my family and friends for making my birthday so special and always being there for me.