The End of our IVF Journey

As I lay here wide awake with insomnia, which seems to be a nightly occurrence this week, I felt compelled to write my last blog on the end of our IVF journey.

How am I feeling? To be honest, right now I am going in and out of complete sadness and then feeling positive. It ebbs and flows big time. So much of me is grieving and in complete shock that it didn’t work and accepting that we will be a 1-child family, but then another part of me honestly feels relief that it is all over.

Please- I love all my friends and family and all the support right now but all I want to hear right now is “I’m sorry.” Please don’t say any of the following to me (sorry I feel like a bitch for saying this but had to):

-“It may happen naturally still!” Stop, please don’t say this to me. While I know this is a remote possibility, I don’t want to have hope anymore and want to close this chapter in my mind. Not only that, my doctor said with IVF you fast forward a year’s worth of babymaking. I only produced 7 eggs, and obviously they were all bad. Plus look at the 2 1/2 years we have been trying overall and it hasn’t happened. The likelihood of it happening is minute, and again I’m ready to close this chapter of hoping for a second child so while I know you mean well, I don’t want to hear this and don’t want to hope anymore so I can shut the door on this.

-“You can adopt!” We don’t want to adopt, particularly Devin is very set on not adopting.

-“Now that you and Devin will finally relax and stop trying to control it, you will get pregnant!” See above (and F you for saying that lol). And I’m pretty sure our high stress jobs did not scientifically create genetic abnormalities in our embryos.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. I have been consumed the past 2 years with this cloud of secondary infertility hanging over me. 2016 was consumed with trying naturally, and 2017 was consumed with appointments at the fertility doctor.

Going into 2018, I know that I can now move on from all this secondary infertility bullshit and that I have God’s answer. There’s a reason why he doesn’t want us to have another child and a bigger purpose for us which we cannot see now, but I know in time we will.

In 2018, I can move on and focus on all that is good and wonderful in my life. My family, my friends, my wonderful hubby and son, my great career, and other fun.

After I got the news, I decided to distract myself and I’m starting to plan some girls trips in 2018 and Devin and I are planning a trip to Portugal in May for a wedding. I no longer wonder or have to worry about what if I’ll be pregnant and not able to plan things. How exciting!

I’m finally going to give away all the baby gear that we were saving from Alexander. I’m first going to let a friend or two get first dibs on what they want, and whatever remains is going to go to a battered women’s shelter/a Mom in need. We have so much baby stuff and it will make my heart happy to finally give it away.

I want to do some other good works in 2018 too. Maybe join a nonprofit board and/or get involved with a charity for kids. Perhaps both volunteering and monetary contributions.

I think I may get back into running too. I haven’t run consistently the past 2 years because of hard exercise being well known to work against fertility. So maybe I’ll start doing some races again next year? It’s also nice to not worry about caffeine intake, as that was something I have been watching too for fertility purposes. Bring on all the wine and coffee!!!

In summary, while this is the end, it’s also the beginning. When one door closes, another door opens. I’m looking forward to opening the door to 2018.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year. Love you all and thanks again for all your support.

Why I’m Grateful for My Career (especially during IVF); 2 Month Low-Carb Update

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Why I’m Grateful for Work: If you have been keeping up with my Facebook page, you know that we have been receiving nearly daily updates on our 7 embryos since our egg retrieval last week and are now down to 2 surviving embryos, which we are waiting on genetic testing for another week now to see if they are genetically normal.

While I did not feel well when I was on the injections and right after the egg retrieval, I am still grateful I kept working. Each day I have had to wait until 4:30 PM for the call from the doctor to find out which embryos have survived. Thank god for work to keep me busy or I don’t know what I would do with myself during that time all day long to be distracted.  Each time when the doctor has called he has had a tone of voice like the Grim Reeper, almost like the tone of voice when you have found out someone has died to tell me how many embryos were lost that day. Fun. Don’t get me wrong- having a 3 year old keeps me busy too at night and on weekends, but he is at school during the day.

To be frank, I have been feeling a little down since our last update last night that only 2 embryos remain. While I know it only takes one, with odds of 50% of embryos having genetic abnormalities, if I apply those odds we are looking at only one remaining embryo next week. We could fare better or worse, but I’m just applying the black and white/scientific odds/averages.

Friends and family are encouraging me to be more positive and I truly appreciate the encouragement, but I like knowing my odds. If I were gambling, I would want to know the black and white odds. IVF is a complete gamble and we knew this all along. So I like to prepare myself for what news we may get next week. We knew the odds of 50% of embryos surviving to day 5, and that statistic was correct. In fact, unfortunately we actually fared slightly worse than the average, since only 2 out of 7 made it. If I had no idea about those odds and that we were likely going to lose at least half, I think I would be feeling worse right now. I knew what the odds were going in so that was helpful to me, so sorry if I seem like I’m being a pessimist. I would rather be realistic.

A quick funny story that other working moms will relate to- a good friend of mine who does not yet have kids encouraged me to binge watch TV last night to be distracted from the news I received yesterday. I was thinking, does Peppa Pig and Mickey Mouse count? LOL when you have a 3 year old and you work, there is no time to even watch a single TV show unless you miss out on sleep, and I choose sleep! Bless her sweet heart, she has no idea how time intensive being a parent is. She will find out soon enough.

And don’t worry, I am definitely getting myself out of this funk today.  And I know it only would take one embryo to achieve our dreams of a second child. I’m grateful for work which is bringing me to NYC tomorrow for a conference which will be celebrating and honoring fabulous women in the insurance industry that have been nominated. I’ve been going to this conference every year since about 2012 and I love that there is a conference dedicated to honoring women in my industry. I have read up on many of these women and many of them are Moms too, so I think they are amazing to have made it as far as they have in their careers and also juggled motherhood. Ashley Judd will be the keynote speaker on Friday too. And of course, who doesn’t love NYC.

Even better icing on the cake, Devin and Alexander will also be coming out on Friday after my conference ends so we can spend the weekend in NYC and see Christmas in NYC together as a family. I’m so excited for Alexander to experience NYC and even better Christmas in NYC- he is going to LOVE the huge tree at Rockefeller Center! I’m so grateful for a career that I love, and for it being a wonderful distraction while I go through the ups and downs of IVF. 

2 Month Low-Carb Update: It’s been just over 2 months since I began eating low carb high fat very strictly. As I had mentioned in my prior blogs, my doctor highly recommended low carb for his IVF patients.

I have no idea if eating this way helped my egg quality, especially since we went from 7 embryos down to 2, but I hope that it did help the 2 that survived. Over these last few months I have been diligent about eating high protein/non-processed foods, I cut out Diet Coke and most other artificial sweeteners, I cut back on wine intake, and I have not been doing any strenuous exercise as recommended by my doctor. Sometimes I wonder though, when I see crack-addicts and overly obese people getting pregnant- does it really matter how you eat and if you are healthy or not? I think in the end the big man upstairs just decides when it’s time for a woman to have a baby. It’s all a crapshoot. Bleh. But at least I can feel like I did what I could to help the process.

Just this week (and it’s only Wednesday), I have had 5 people/friends unprovoked tell me how skinny I am looking, and they also said particularly said it shows in my face. I’m sure between the low carb eating regimen and overall stress from IVF has been quite the efficient diet combo. The odd part is that the injections actually made me gain a few lbs for a short term, but I am now back to where I was before starting the injections, maybe about a pound or two less.  All in all since I started eating low carb hardcore in October, I have lost 8 lbs.

Just last week, I decided to add potatoes and beans back into my diet on occassion, as they are high fiber foods that come from nature that I really enjoy and I do not want to lose any more weight. I have never been a big fan of fruit, but if the mood strikes I will start to eat fruit too. Now to continue to treat low carb as a lifestyle habit long-term, especially with the holidays being here and lots of carb-alicious goodies around!

3 days Post-Egg Retrieval/Embryo Update

 

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Embryo Update: Those of you that have been following my Mama in Chief Facebook page know that we retrieved 7 eggs from me on Wednesday, all of which fertilized and turned into embryos. Today is day 3 for the embryos, and I received a call from my doctor this afternoon. We have 4-5 embryos left. 2 he said definitely will not make it, 4 look perfect, and 1 of them is a little slower in development but looking pretty good. The key now is to see which ones survive until day 5 (Monday).

This is a crucial time- between today and Monday, as on average 50% of embryos stop developing between days 3-5 as the embryos stop working off the mother’s genetics and have to start working off their own genetics. We could end up being outside of the norm and fare better or worse, but we will hopefully likely end up with 2-3 embryos based upon this 50% likelihood. Those that make it to Monday will be frozen and biopsied. The biopsies will go off to a lab where they will test for genetic abnormalities, and we will also find out the gender of the embryo(s). We will receive the results of the genetic testing sometime Christmas week.

As for when they will transfer an embryo to me, my doctor had been flip-flopping between January and February, but today he told me he wants to do it in February. He wants to give more time for my body to recuperate and for us to get the results of the genetic testing back before prepping me for an embryo transfer.

How I’m feeling physically: I was under anesthesia for the egg retrieval, and had to take Valium before hand and took some Tylenol with codeine afterward, so when I got home on Wednesday I slept for 3 hours- it was a mixture of exhaustion and the anesthesia/medications that put me into a serious nap coma. I have definitely been feeling sore in the lower abdomen and in my lady parts. They stuck a big probe up there to get my eggs out, and I could definitely feel it after the procedure was overwith. I still have been sleeping more than usual, but I’m glad to be no longer taking the pain meds and no longer feeling sore! My doctor said that with the two weeks of injections and the egg retrieval, you are basically forcing your body to produce a years’ worth of eggs squeezed into two weeks so its no wonder it takes a toll on the body.

How I’m feeling emotionally: I’m not going to lie, while I’m feeling optimistic, this is a roller coaster process. I’m anxious and nervous to see how many embryos survive to Monday. And then the results of the genetic testing. And then when February comes, will an embryo stick and will I get pregnant? There are so many unknowns in this process which comes along with a huge emotional and financial investment, but I knew this early on. I just have to be patient and know that what is meant to be, will be. Prayers still appreciated.

 

Day 7 of IVF Update

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I thought this e-card was hysterical. My mood perfectly described! By the way, I’m really glad I did this blog as I’m so grateful that so many of my friends and family want status updates, and this gives me a central place to update everyone at the same time. I really appreciate everyone’s support and caring.

Day 7 and I am feeling better on some days than others. My body is seemingly going through a mix of lightheadedness, exhaustion, bloating, emotional, headaches, nausea, and just generally not feeling like myself from the medications. All of these symptoms come and go at different times. There are about 4-5 bruises and soreness on each of my thighs right now where the injections go- I’m glad it is not bathingsuit season!

Being at work this week was really tough. Our receptionist when I walked in on Tuesday said, “OMG, are you OK? You don’t look good.” My boss even ended a meeting on Tuesday and asked everyone to leave and shut the door so he could ask me if I was OK. I guess it was written all over my face how terrible I was feeling. Probably in the way I was dressed too. Normally I make sure to make myself presentable at work but Tuesday morning I felt so bloated that there was no way I was putting real pants on (reminded me of when I was pregnant with Alexander, toward the end- pants were not happening!). So I went to work in leggings and a flannel top. I guess all in all I did not look like the normal usually put-together Heather. And my head was spinning!

Today I start a new and 3rd daily injection. While my other two injections are intended to make my eggs/follicles grow, this one is to make sure my body does not release any eggs prior to the egg retrieval.  It is interesting, each day based upon my bloodwork my doctor calls and updates me with a new updated prescription regimen for that day. I feel like I should be living at my doctor’s office right now, as I have been there nearly every day this week!

Some good news to share though:

-My doctor says my body is responding very well to the medication. On Tuesday apparently my bloodwork showed a number so high that it was similar to that of what he would see for an egg donor. So he dropped my medication dosage down so as to not overstimulate and brought me in for a last minute appointment Wednesday morning just to make sure I was OK. We were shocked to see I was reacting so well because when we tested my egg reserve level a few months ago, it came back showing I had a low egg reserve. However, the doctor says that the only true way to test egg reserve level is to stimulate (go through IVF). So perhaps my egg reserve level is better than we thought, I hope?! Still early to tell but a good sign nonetheless.

-Based upon what he is seeing right now, my doctor predicts we will retrieve between 6-9 eggs next week (my egg retrieval date will be either Wednesday or Thursday next week. I will know which day it will be for sure after my appointment on Monday). That’s a pretty good number and fingers crossed that happens. Even if we retrieve that many, we will likely not end up with that may embryos. It all depends which ones survive past day 5 after the embryos are created, and also we will have to make sure that they are genetically normal. Based upon that number, hopefully I will have anywhere between 2-5 embryos after this is all said and done realistically. Could be better or worse, but this is an estimate based upon my research. But, I won’t count my eggs until they are fertilized, so we will see!

-The last piece of good news: my doctor said we could possibly transfer an embryo in January now instead of February. This is all assuming I have a normal and healthy embryo to transfer. If no normal embryos, I would be gearing up for another egg retrieval- not 100% sure I would  want to do that right away, so I hope that we don’t have to end up crossing that bridge.

Fingers crossed. I am so glad this stage will be over next week. Thanks again to all my friends and family that keep checking on me! xoxo