Life as we know it..

You know how life just gets in the way sometimes? Or sometimes you just don’t have it in you to put everything you feel into a blog post so you keep putting it off? I guess that is what you can say happened to me over the last several months…

Lots of stuff has happened since then. Melissa and I got married on October 17th, 2016 – and we are happy newlyweds! It doesn’t really feel like anything has changed though, and when people ask me – “how does it feel to be married?” – I just laugh and say no different than our normal every day life was before!


(For those of you who do not follow me on any other social media platform) We did have our Frozen Embryo Transfer in September and we transferred one frosty blastocyst embryo – and surprise! It actually worked! I am currently 13 weeks and 3 days pregnant. We used Progesterone in Oil with our FET protocol and I think that played a significant role in helping us conceive – we always say that it is the “cream of the crop” when it comes to Progesterone support. It was rough doing those injections every single day for weeks on end, but definitely worth it! I highly recommend using a heating pad and massaging the area very well if you are embarking on this endeavor in the future. At some points I thought I might develop cellulitis because the area got inflamed from doing injections so often, but we got through it. I think I am still a little numb in the area we were doing the shots, we only stopped them about two weeks ago, so I imagine it will take time to regain full feeling in that area (gluteal region).

I have been having a terrible time with morning sickness that started around 7-8 weeks (right when Melissa and I got married – I remember being sick all morning/day). I have been having a lot of trouble keeping up with the hunger that this pregnancy has produced due to my food aversions. Its like my brain doesn’t want me to eat but my baby and stomach sure do, it is a battle that I have lost more than I have won. This past Monday, I had to go to the hospital because I was throwing up all day and night. I threw up 8 times in 24 hours (most of them being lumped together) and I couldn’t keep anything down. I was vomiting bile/stomach acid and it was horrible. I was so behind on fluids so I knew that I needed to go to the hospital for mine and the baby’s sake. They gave me fluids, ran some labs, and gave me Reglan through my I.V. – but the Reglan wasn’t really helping as I threw up again in the hospital – so they ended up giving me Zofran. That morning was just terrible. I felt like crawling out of my skin, I was so hungry, I couldn’t eat, it was just a horrible feeling. Luckily they discharged me and I had an OB/GYN appointment that afternoon. They discharged me with Reglan to take 4 times daily as needed for Nausea and it has helped keep things under control since then. I have also been using Diclegis in conjunction with the Reglan. I have been trying so hard to keep up with the hunger by eating small meals, crackers, etc. They ultimately diagnosed me with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which I had an inclination would be the case. I have heard of people who suffer from that and let me tell you, it is so hard to handle! I have been constantly sick for the last 7 weeks and I feel like it is turning me into another person. I haven’t been leaving my house that much, in fact, I do as little as possible (especially due to the cold).  I have no patience, my skin is horrible, my hair falls out constantly, heartburn is a bitch, fatigue of course is there, too! Gangs all here! I have lost 15 lbs in the last 7 weeks because my eating habits have changed drastically due to my food aversions. I just feel like a mess. I am hoping so badly that this will get better soon. I have had some better days since I went to the hospital, so maybe there is a chance that things will start looking up. Last time I thought that was the case, well, I went to the hospital with HG….so there’s that.  I am so fortunate that Melissa is as patient with me as she is. She has been very supportive and has helped me with cooking, cleaning, WELL everything! I have been having a hard time cooking for myself, so she does it most of the time. She really does take care of me, I am one lucky gal.

My OB/GYN gave us an order to have the genetic blood test performed to see what we are having before our 20 week ultrasound. I haven’t had the test done yet, but I plan to early next week. It will take about 10 business days to get the results back. We are excited to find out what we are having. It will make decisions and planning so much easier.

I figured I would write an update because I needed to vent and I want to be able to document things throughout our pregnancy. Sorry if my post is just a nonstop rant and bitchiness. Bare with me!

XO

Ashley

 

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Defeated. (Old Post from August)

I know that the title sounds a little harsh, but that is the perfect word to describe how I have been feeling lately.

I have no sense of accomplishment. Not in my home life, work life, or medically with our TTC journey.

I had a really rough day today. As soon as I arrived to work, my anxiety really hit.

My anxiety is something that I haven’t really brought up in any of my previous posts. I guess it didn’t seem relevant until right now. The way my anxiety “works” is usually by manifesting itself from my subconscious. The reason that I say this, is because I did not feel anxious when I got up this morning, or even on the drive into work. I was going about my day as normal and then BAM, I feel like I have an elephant sitting on my freaking chest. I am under a lot of stress at work and I know that this is contributing to how I feel. I am also pretty bummed about how our first cycle turned out and honestly, I don’t know if I have mentally processed it yet (it turned out to be a big fat biochemical). It kind of got shoved to the back burner because I didn’t have “time” to process it, nor have I really wanted to. Things on the home front have been alright as of late, but with the stress of work, I haven’t had much time to do “normal” things like clean, cook, do laundry. I pretty much eat on the run all of the time because I am too tired to cook and so is Melissa. She works two jobs and is gone all day long so we get home around the same (late) time.

Today was the first time, in a long time, that I felt like I needed to take a Klonopin and that is why I feel defeated. I have been holding my own with my Lexapro for a few months and all was going well. I had discontinued my Buspar (with the approval from my physician) and she advised to only take the Klonopin when needed which is the norm and let me tell you, it doesn’t happen often that I have had to take it. I would say that over the last 9 months, I have only had to take Klonopin a handful of times – and even that is a stretch. I guess if I look at it that way, it doesn’t seem so bad. I just don’t want to take steps backwards, I want to move forward. Is this necessarily moving backwards though? Or am I just being too hard on myself. It is probably the ladder, but currently it doesn’t feel that way…

Sometimes life just makes you feel hopeless…

xo

Ashley

 

 

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Here’s to Hoping

Its been about three months since I have written. A lot has happened in that time, I just had to keep the whole “TTC” thing in the back of my mind. A part of me didn’t want to confront what was going to or NOT going to happen in the months to come after my last post..

Fast forward to July and we are in our first and hopefully LAST IVF cycle. We chose our sperm donor from Cryos International for a surprisingly lower price than California Cryobank and with Cryos International, you get free photos and background information which is awesome! Here is the breakdown of my IVF cycle:

  • Monday July 11th, 2016 – Baseline/STIM START:
    • E2 level 58.0, P4 level 0.18, Lining 5.9mm
      • Follistim 175iu at nighttime
  • Tuesday July 12th, 2016
    • No Monitoring
      • Follistim 175iu at nighttime
  • Wednesday July 13th, 2016
    • No Monitoring
      • Follistim 175iu at nighttime
  • Thursday July 14th, 2016
    • No Monitoring
      • Follistim 175iu at nighttime
  • Friday July 15th, 2016 – Monitoring
    • E2 level 261.2, P4 level 0.19, Lining 9.9mm
    • Left Ovary Follicles: 16mm, 10mm, 8 to 9 < 10mm
    • Right Ovary Follicles: 11mm, 11mm, 8 to 9 <10mm
      • Follistim 175iu, START Ganirelix 250mcg at nighttime
  • Saturday July 16th, 2016
    • No Monitoring
      • Follistim 175iu, Ganirelix 250mcg at nighttime
  • Sunday July 17th, 2016
    • No Monitoring
      • Follistim 175iu, Ganirelix 250mcg at nighttime
  • Monday July 18th, 2016 – Monitoring
    • E2 level 583.3, P4 level 0.27, Lining 12.6mm
    • Left  Ovary Follicles: 20mm, 10mm, 8 to 9 < 10mm
    • Right Ovary Follicles: 15mm, 12mm, 11mm, 10mm, 8 to 9 <10mm
      • INCREASE Follistim 250iu, Ganirelix 250mcg at nighttime
  • Tuesday July 19th, 2016
    • No Monitoring
      • Follistim 250iu, Ganirelix 250mcg at nighttime
  • Wednesday July 20th, 2016 – Monitoring
    • E2 level 1159.0, P4 level 0.75, Lining 13.2mm
    • Left Ovary Follicles: 26mm, 10mm, 8 to 9 < 10mm
    • Right Ovary Follicles: 20mm, 17mm, 17mm, 13mm, 13mm, 13mm, 11mm, 8 to 9 < 10mm
      • Follistim 250iu, Ganirelix 250mcg, HCG TRIGGER 10,000 units (LAST NIGHT OF INJECTIONS! WOO!)
  • Thursday July 21st, 2016
    • START Z-Pak, will take this daily for 5 days (antibiotic to prevent infection occurring after retrieval procedure)
  • Friday July 22nd, 2016 – Egg Retrieval Day – 8 Eggs retrieved
    • START Medrol, will take this daily for 5 days (steroid to prevent your body from attacking embryo which is technically a foreign object to the uterus) and CONTINUE Z-Pak
  • Saturday July 23rd, 2016 – Received Fertilization Results
    • 7 of 8 Eggs retrieved fertilized with our Donor Sperm – will have Day 5 Embryo Transfer on Wednesday July 27th, 2016
      • START Crinone Gel, will administer one suppository daily until pregnancy test (progesterone support), START Vivelle Dot (estrogen support), CONTINUE Medrol and Z-Pak until finished with 5 day course of treatment
  • Wednesday July 27th, 2016 – Embryo Transfer Day!
    • TWO Day 5 Embryos transferred – “E Blast Grade 3-4”
  • Thursday July 28th, 2016 – Received news that three Day 5 Embryos made it to freeze!
  • Friday August 5th, 2016 – Beta HCG Scheduled (9 days post Day 5 embryo transfer)

So that brings us to yesterday – we had our pregnancy test which was originally scheduled for Monday August 8th, 2016 (12 days post Day 5 embryo transfer) due to the weekend falling on 10 days post transfer. Usually with Day 5 embryos, we can perform a blood pregnancy test called a “beta HCG” to determine if the transfer worked.

I have been testing positive on home urine pregnancy tests since 5 to 6 days after the embryo transfer but there is always a question of the trigger still being in your system because it can take awhile to leave your system after your trigger (ovulation) injection. And since it is HCG, it can give you a false positive reading on a pregnancy test. So on days 7 and 8 after the transfer, I drew my blood and dipped the serum and they came up positive for pregnancy. We decided to check my blood level by doing a Beta HCG yesterday instead of Monday. My level is 30.7 – which is a positive but it could be on the lower side for a few reasons. It is still somewhat early and there is such a thing as “late implantation”, I could have a “slow starter”, or it could be the dreaded “biochemical” pregnancy meaning that the number could possibly creep up slowly and drop or just drop all together. Your body basically miscarries due to the embryo not being viable for pregnancy. I had that happen with our first IUI cycle, and I am so scared that it is happening again! I will have my Beta HCG level re-checked on Monday to see if it will rise. Hopefully it will and I pray that it is over 100 because then I would feel a lot better about the rise. The thing with IVF is that there are always obstacles to overcome. A lot of people who aren’t familiar with the process do not realize that even though someone achieves pregnancy with IVF, doesn’t mean it will be a viable pregnancy that results in a birth. Patients have biochemical pregnancies or they go on to be about 6-8 weeks and still miscarry. One week they come in with a viable fetus with a strong heartbeat and the next week the baby could have passed away and the mom had no idea until she comes to see us. I have seen women go through cycle after cycle to achieve pregnancy due to loss from a positive IVF cycle just to return to start over. It breaks my heart and I am so scared that I am going to be one of those “statistics”….thus we take it one step at a time but it eats at you every step of the way. You constantly wonder is this baby going to make it? Is this really it? I wish I could feel excited but there is a bigger part of me that is terrified of the bitter reality that could occur. I am bracing myself for the bad and really (secretly) hoping for the good. I know that our time will come, the journey is just exhausting and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Luckily I have a great support system and my co-workers are just as amazing. This process was a lot easier for me as this is what I do for a living. I am so grateful to have experienced what my patients go through so I can truly relate and offer my advice from a patient perspective. Now if only I could get out of my own head for awhile and let whatever happens, happen. Knowing that we have three frosties on ice as backup makes this a little easier because I am convinced that we will get at least one baby out of this IVF cycle. If this cycle does fail and it is a biochemical, we will move forward with an FET in September. A wise woman once told me that if you have a plan B, you more than likely will not need it….I will hang onto that..

xo

Ashley

 

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IUI #2 (BFN)

It has been about two weeks since I have posted. I had a rough week after our biochemical pregnancy. I tried not to let it get to me but it was harder than anticipated. Didn’t help that I also stopped my Lexapro, inadvertently, due to moving and working so much. I forgot to pick up my prescription and the days just got away from me. Aunt Flo came knocking on my door rather quickly and that was that.

Once I started my period, it was time to decide what our next move was going to be. Financially it was a little pressing because of the whole buying another vial of sperm issue. One of the factors that went into our decision making process was whether or not my Beta HCG dropped back down to zero. It had to drop back down in order for me to be approved for another IUI cycle right away. We had five days to figure out our budget and decide what we could afford in terms of the cost of sperm. The reason that I say that we had five days is because my clinic starts Letrozole on CD5-10, so if I miss that window of time after my period starts, we are S.O.L! We decided to use a different sperm bank closer to home so that we could cut out the cost of shipping. We purchased a vial of sperm from Midwest Sperm Bank in Downer’s Grove. May I add that they were lovely to deal with? Made the whole process pretty simple and they even let one of my co-workers who lives closer to their facility pick up the shipper and bring it back for me!

We were able to start the Letrozole and do the good ole’ monitoring and IUI, here is the timeline:

  • Baseline 3/25/2016:
    • E2: 24.8
    • P4: 0.38
    • BhCG: 0.4 (Close enough!)
  • Take Letrozole 5mg once daily from 3/25/2016 – 3/29/2016
  • Monitoring 4/1/2016:
    • E2: 67.8
    • p4: 0.51
    • LH: 9.2
    • Follicles: 11mm (x2), 18mm
  • Monitoring 4/4/2016:
    • E2: 101.4
    • P4: 1.23
    • LH 49.7
    • Follicles: 24mm
  • Ovidrel Trigger 4/4/2016
  • IUI performed 4/5/2016
  • Sperm was good quality – 24 Million!
  • Progesterone level check 4/11/2016
    • P4: 13.60 – Start Crinone Gel
  • BhCG: 4/22/2016 – Negative 😦

The craziest thing happened to us on the way to our second IUI. We were en-route to the doctor’s office to have the IUI performed. I get a call from the clinic telling me that they just received a call from my insurance company, unprovoked, informing them that they approved our IVF cycle. My jaw almost hit the floor because we were already rolling up our sleeves to throw them dukes up and put up a fight to get it approved if this IUI failed. It is technically our third “failed” IUI due to the first one being cancelled for poor response. We could have opted out of the IUI that day but we figured, why not try? It could have been “the one” that worked, but unfortunately it wasn’t. We are now gearing up to do IVF in May. Welcome to the big leagues! We are nervous, excited, and scared! It makes that fact that this is what I do for a living – a little easier on us. It is just so surreal to now be a patient instead of being the one to instruct a patient on what they are supposed to do. We are hoping that we will get that much closer to baby Ruther being conceived. We are optimistic about starting IVF because we are hoping that our chance for success will increase significantly.

Speaking of work and infertility, #NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week) started on 4/24/2016 and will last until 4/30/2016. I was thinking of posting a few topics and/or answering a few questions that any of you may have regarding treatment with IUI or IVF/FET. If you have any questions, feel free to post them!

I hope you are all having a great day and baby dust to all you momma’s out there trying to conceive!

XO

Ashley

 

 

 

 

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Sad 

There are so many different emotions that I feel on a daily basis. Sad, depressed, confused, worried – those are just to name a few.

Sad about what happened.

Depressed that we have to keep going through this.

Confused about where we should get our next vial of sperm from or should we re-think the known donor option?

Worried about when we can start our next cycle. 

There are so many variables when it comes to “TTC” (trying to conceive) and I think that is what puts us all on edge. You don’t know exactly when everything is going to happen. Some of it depends on when your body is ready and the rest depends on when your bank account is ready. If we had a steady flow of sperm, like most heterosexual couples, this wouldn’t be as stressful. Yes, I know that sounds funny and no it isn’t something that you eat everyday. The biggest cost for us is the sperm. I know that a lot of couples have to pay out of pocket for their cycles too, so almost everyone has a burden with infertility and finances. Oh and if you are over there thinking – “if you can’t afford sperm, how can you afford a child?” – you can go eff off. I would like to know if you are spending a lump some of $1000 dollars on your kid at once every single month. I highly doubt many of you are…. 

I had my Beta HCG checked again last Monday and it dropped down to 5.7. I got my full flow period and man was it brutal this month, thank god it only lasted 3 days. 

I spoke with the girls at my center (clinicians and NP) to see if they recommend waiting a month inbetween cycles after a failed/biochemical pregnancy and they said no. As long as my Beta HCG drops to <0.1 by tomorrow, I could technically start another cycle. I say tomorrow because that would be the day that I would have to start Letrozole again. I will have my Beta HCG drawn again and if it’s at the right number we have to make a decision. I don’t want to lose a cycle because of sperm. We could always start to stimulate and if we can’t get sperm, we would just cancel the cycle. 

Ugh, I just don’t know what to do…

-A

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Go Fund Me

We created a Go Fund Me page a few months back but we were really on the fence about sharing it or not. It is never easy to ask for help, especially when you are asking for help for something that will be expensive – such as a child. So we sat on it for a while. We knew we had one vial of sperm waiting on ice for us and hey! It could have worked the first time so we didn’t want to ask for donations if we didn’t need it. Well, if you have been following my blog, you already know that our first IUI failed. Here we are in need of another vial of sperm and it will cost upward of $800-$1000 for one more. If you are feeling extra charitable, please consider us! If not, no harm no foul. I know that everyone has hardships and we don’t expect everyone to donate. I know that I have put forth some good karma and I’m only hoping that it will come back to us full circle. 

http://www.gofundme.com/twovsmakeab

#anylittlebithelps

-A. 

 

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Then it happened..

Our worst fear in this journey to date has happened today. 

My Beta HCG numbers are dropping

3/11/2016 (#1): 12.9

3/12/2016: 19.3

3/14/2016: 46.2

3/16/2016: 93.2

3/18/2016: 22.9

We wanted my number to double again today, not decrease. Now I am going to wait for my body to slowly drop this number down to zero (miscarry) and my period will be presenting itself shortly after. 

How do I feel? Devastated. 

Am I crying? Yes.

Am I angry at myself for investing feelings into this so early? You bet your ass I am. 

We put so much faith into that BFP (big fat positive) when it presents itself that your whole world changes with possibilities that very moment. You ponder those baby names you have thought about for years. You secretly start planning a nursery Pinterest board or non chalantly peruse through the baby section at your local Target or Wal-Mart. This just seems so unfair. I know that this is probably devine intervention but it will never feel fair.

I will pick myself up again and we will keep trying. I’m sure I will feel defeated again in the future and I am not looking forward to that. I can’t help but say to myself – “I told you so…” and that my friends is the worst part. We are our own worst critics. 

With a heavy heart..

– A. 


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Beta HCG 

Disclaimer: I knew that going into this journey, that I would have to share the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the progress and results of our treatment cycles. 

With that being said..

Today I had my Beta HCG for our first completed IUI cycle. The level resulted at 12.9, which is positive. Yes, we are pregnant. However, I must tell you that we have to take that information with a grain of salt, or two. The number, although it is positive, is kind of low for our first Beta HCG. Anything greater than 5.0 is considered a positive pregnancy test. You’re probably wondering, well Ashley, what number would you be happy with? I don’t have an exact answer for you but maybe around 100.0? Higher numbers doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be a viable pregnancy but it is off to a good start. I worry that this could possibly be what we call a “chemical pregnancy” but we won’t know until Monday when the level is checked again. If you would like to know more about what a chemical pregnancy is, click here.

I will try to remain positive, and so will Melissa – it’s easier for her to be positive than it is for me ☺️. This journey definitely isn’t for the faint hearted and I have cried more than I could have imagined possible over the last two weeks than I have in months.

We would like to say thank you so much for everyone’s continued support through this journey and your prayers, hopeful wishes, etc. will always be welcomed. Right now I am going to try and bask in the fact that I AM currently PREGNANT and hope that it stays that way! We hope to see our numbers rise and will have our beta HCG checked again on Monday. We will keep everyone in the loop!

xo

Ashley & Melissa

❤️🙌🏼👶🏻🍼

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$1200 in My Uterus

That’s correct, and yes you read that right! I had my first every IUI (Intra-uterine Insemination) today!

Oh, and for those of you who don’t know, YES we are trying to have a baby.
The reason that my blog post is titled the way it is, is because the vial of sperm that we used today for the IUI essentially cost us $1200. We bought our vial from this sperm bank. I know the next question that you are probably wondering is “do all sperm banks charge that much?” and the answer is no. The cost per vial is dependent on the sperm bank that you choose to use. There are also separate charges that go into that number of $1200. When we signed up through the sperm bank we chose to use, we paid a fee of $145 for a 90 day subscription to view all of the donor profiles, childhood photos, etc. The vial of sperm itself cost us $740 and to ship it to us from California to Illinois, it cost another $200. So yeah, it is a little shy of $1200, but DAMN that is a pretty penny (especially if it doesn’t work). One vial of sperm is good for ONE IUI, they cannot re-freeze it to use again in the future. I have looked at other sperm banks but their selection wasn’t as wide as what the sperm bank we chose had. I also didn’t like that some sperm banks charge an amount per donor profile or photos. I paid $25 dollars to view an extended donor profile and $25 for photos of a donor at another sperm bank. You may also live close to a sperm bank and can pick up your vial(s). The one that I wanted wasn’t near me so I had to pay the shipping cost.

Here is the breakdown of this IUI cycle:

  • Monday 2/15/2015: Baseline – start Letrozole 5mg at bedtime.
    • E2 (Estrogen): 35.4
    • P4 (Progesterone): 0.25
    • ES (Uterine lining): 5.7mm
  • Tuesday 2/16/2016: Take Letrozole 5mg at bedtime
  • Wednesday 2/17/2016: Take Letrozole 5mg at bedtime
  • Thursday 2/18/2016: Take Letrozole 5mg at bedtime
  • Friday 2/19/2016: Take Letrozole 5mg at bedtime (last dose)
  • Saturday 2/20/2016: “Coast”
  • Sunday 2/21/2016: “Coast”
  • Monday 2/22/2016: Monitoring
    • E2 (Estrogen): 66.3
    • P4 (Progesterone): 0.44
    • LH (Luteinizing Hormone): 9.o
    • ES (Uterine Lining): 8.5mm
    • Follicles: 12mm, 13mm
  • Tuesday 2/23/2016: “Coast”
  • Wednesday 2/24/2016: Monitoring – Had to cancel due to weather (blizzard) – scheduled for Friday.
  • Thursday 2/25/2016: “Coast”
  • Friday 2/26/2016: Monitoring
    • E2 (Estrogen): 93.9
    • P4 (Progesterone): 1.46
    • LH (Luteinizing Hormone): 22.2 (SURGE)
    • ES (Uterine Lining): 13.4
    • Follicles: 20mm, 17mm, 14mm
    • Ovidrel Trigger Given: 2:00 PM
    • IUI Performed
  • Sperm Quality
    • PRE-Wash
      • Volume: 1.0ml
      • Motility: 63%
      • Concentration: 72 million per ml
      • Total Motile: 45.4 million
    • POST-Wash
      • Volume: 0.5ml
      • Motility: 93%
      • Concentration: 35 million per ml
      • Total Motile: 16.3 million (that is how many sperm are in my uterus right now!)

The next steps will be to check my progesterone level next Friday and the Friday after that will be my pregnancy test. I have a really good feeling about this. We are remaining positive and trying to survive our first “two week wait.” It is a very hard decision to be this “open” about our journey to try and conceive our first baby. We are going to share our tough, sad, exciting (hopefully), stressful, and trying times with all of you. We will be very hurt and devastated if this doesn’t work this time, but we will try and try again. We are ready to start this journey together and my eggs aren’t getting any younger! 😉

Send baby dust our way!

xoxo

Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Full Flow & Baseline – Oh My!

As suspected, she finally showed! Full flow today, I know how much you guys want to hear about my period, let’s be honest! 😂

I will go in for Baseline on Monday and if everything looks good, I will get the okay to start Letrozole for five days. 

Hoping we get a better response with this medication, we shall see!

xo

Ashley

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