Hi all and HAPPY FRIDAY! This was my first full workweek in a while, due to daily doctors appointments and retrieval, so I am seriously ready for the weekend! And let me tell you, it’s a wild and crazy Friday night here in Carlsbad, except just the opposite! Long read ahead, so depending on when you are reading this, grab your cup of coffee or cocktail/glass of wine!
Last night, I had a minor panic attack due to a crucial typo from the clinic. I emailed the financial rep at RPMG many days ago regarding some info, and she finally wrote me back late last night. It stated “5 Day 5 embryo,” and “1 Day 6 embryo.” That is 6. We have 7. I freaked, and had every random and awful scenario run through my worrying mind. I was not totally calmed until this morning, when I got official word – there ARE in fact 7 embryos, not 6!
Overall it has been nice week – I enjoyed not having the stress of daily appointments, injections, and embryo updates! The weather and sunsets have been gorgeous. The Cards won the NL Central!!!! Reese came to work with me Tues-Fri. I got my back straightened out at the chiropractor. My car had a gravitational pull toward Starbucks a few times this week…come Monday, I am finished. All in all…great!
Chris has had a hectic few weeks, and is headed to Newport for another bachelor party this weekend. Don’t feel sorry for me being solo two weekends in a row though. I am set to have an incredible spa day tomorrow at Omni La Costa, thanks to Chris and some of my girlfriends back home!! Massage, facial, lunch, along with total relaxation and bliss await! I haven’t been to this beautiful resort in almost two years, just before our wedding. I cannot wait!
In the last few months, I have been asked many questions, and I thought it would be worthwhile to share on the blog. Some people choose not to ask questions for a variety of reasons. While others ask a lot of questions, which I totally welcome! 99.9% are awesome questions, while one below you will see is not a favorite amongst the infertility community. For those interested, I thought the below Q & A would possibly help. For me, it seems almost nothing is TOO personal these days. So if you have a question, please ask!!! As always, I will do my best to explain in layman’s terms.
What is your diagnosis? Based on lab work, ultrasound, HSG (hysterosalpingogram), health history, and a couple other factors, I have been diagnosed with:
- Low Ovarian Reserve – AKA egg supply. My AMH level is VERY low at 0.56 as of January. This would be normal for someone MUCH older than 32. This level will continue to drop as time goes on.
- Completely blocked left fallopian tube – It was unsuccessfully attempted to be unblocked during the awful HSG in February.
- Probable Endometriosis
What does the IVF process entail? Do you really want to know?!?! Prior to being in the midst of it, I had NO clue. If you keep up with my blog, you know IVF is INTENSE and confusing. I try to explain in the most simplistic way possible, as I know how overwhelming it can be. This is the absolute easiest, most brief explanation…which in a way took me back to Family Life Class in 5th Grade at Mary Queen of Peace….
- We grow my eggs with A LOT of medication. (Stimulation)
- The eggs are taken from my body. (Egg Retrieval Surgery)
- The eggs are fertilized with Chris’ sperm. (Sperm injected into egg called ICSI)
- Once fertilized successfully, they are considered embryos.
- Embryos grow and develop over 5 or 6 days, and are then frozen once they reach blastocyst stage.
- They will stay frozen until transferred back to my uterus. (Frozen Embryo Transfer, FET)
- Add in crazy emotions, constant heartache, physical pain, nonstop appointments, dozens injections, tons of medication, hormonal imbalances, unimaginable financial obligations, countless sacrifices, constant stress, fear, worry, and so much more!!! BUT ALLLLLLLL COMPLETELY WORTH IT!
- Pregnancy. Birth. Mom! YEAH YEAH YEAH!!
- The end.
Are you staying with Dr. F or RPMG? We have officially decided to follow Dr. F to San Diego Fertility Center. Not only are we excited to be continuing our care with her, but talk about convenience! NO exaggeration, the clinic is ONE mile from my office. This will save Chris and I tremendous commute time! There is a normal parking lot versus paid parking in a huge garage. RPMG is on Scripps Hospital campus, and it can be totally chaotic, taking 15 minutes from driving in to actually walking in the office. SDFC is also in the same building as my acupuncturist! They are building an amazing, brand new office next door to their current one, to be complete in January. We have felt very welcomed thus far, and are anxious to get going!
What are the next steps? My period should arrive any day now! Of course, it is taking its darn time. Once it begins, we are back to action and repeating everything we went through with cycle #1!! We will see Dr. F on Day 3 of my period for an ultrasound and blood work to determine if my body is ready to begin with cycle #2. We hope – 1. My ovaries are no longer enlarged, 2. No cysts present, and 3. All follicles to have collapsed and be back to a tiny size.
If all looks great, I will begin birth control and testosterone gel right away, for approximately 21 days. Once I stop the birth control and gel, I start testosterone patches for 5 days. I will then have another appointment for ultrasound and blood work to be sure I have not ovulated and to see if all follicles small and in sync with each other. If all checks out well, I would begin stimulation medication that day, with a tentative retrieval 12 days later. I am ready!!
Additionally, we are waiting on the results of the genetic testing on our seven embryos.
Why are you doing back-to-back IVF cycles, especially if you have 7 embryos? All along, we have been committed – mentally, physically, and financially – to two IVF cycles back-to-back. This is for a number of reasons.
Since my egg supply is extremely low for someone my age, it is important we retrieve the eggs now at the age of 32, versus attempting an IVF cycle again in a few years if needed.
To be realistic, not all seven of our embryos from cycle #1 will come back genetically normal. We want to “bank,” as they say in the IVF world, as many embryos as possible due to my diagnosis and the fact we want multiple children. If our desire was to have just one child, one cycle may be enough.
Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but my dream growing up was always to have five children. Outrageous and slightly unrealistic, I know! Thank you Auntie, Redmonds, and Nana! I would NOW welcome as many as we are meant to have. Chris would be great with two or three. We will get back to you in a few years!
We have asked Dr. F how many frozen, healthy embryos would be ideal for our future family based on her knowledge. She has continued to say, “Let’s just through the first cycle and see what is realistic.”
My personal goal is 6 to 8 healthy frozen embryos between the two cycles. This does not mean we will be parents of 6 to 8 children. With IVF, there is still the chance of miscarriage, ectopic, and so on.
I want US to have the perfect amount for OUR future family to be created.
Down the road, if we have additional frozen embryos and our family is complete, there will be difficult decisions we will have to face. When the time is right, I will share this personal, sensitive, and possibly controversial information.
What is the Genetic testing and why are you doing it? Pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) is the official term, and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is the actual test being performed on the biopsied cells of our seven embryos. Often times this is recommended for “older” women or those who have experienced miscarriages. Additional testing can also be recommended to those with a family history of genetic disease.
We were encouraged to do this due to my miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, as well as for peace of mind in the future when creating and completing our family. We can be confident in knowing we have genetically healthy embryos, more likely to implant and result in pregnancy and birth.
As you can imagine, this additional testing is extremely expensive. In the grand scheme of things, we felt it was 100% worth it to pay additional in the hopes of avoiding potential heartache. Typically an abnormal embryo transferred to my body would not survive in utero, resulting in a miscarriage. I want to be clear; we are NOT doing this because we would not welcome a child with an abnormal genetic make up.
The biopsied cells from each of our embryos traveled from CA to NJ on Monday. Once they are reviewed, a report will be given to our clinic with the results and/or findings. At this time, the amount of chromosomes as well as gender will be known. I will get a phone call around October 8th. This absolutely blows my mind!
Do you get to pick the gender? This topic can be somewhat sensitive and controversial in the IVF world, as there are people choosing IVF and PGS testing, strictly to pick the gender of their baby. This is called gender selection. Ridiculous. However, I am also aware some women are physically only able to carry one sex or the other successfully. In that instance, this is a totally different story.
We would have the option if we desired, but have decided we will NOT be picking the gender of the embryo to be transferred back to me. We will have the embryologist and doctor choose the embryo they believe is best. I am not sure yet, but we may ask to know the individual count of male and female embryos.
As you can imagine, there is NO surprise element to this IVF journey! I take that back, there are MANY surprises, not always positive though. I feel like this is rare nowadays, but prior to IVF, Chris and I agreed we do NOT want to find out the sex while pregnant and have it be a surprise come birth. Call us crazy, but this is/was OUR decision!
What would happened if you just relaxed? Or went on a vacation? Or just didn’t think about it? Or stopped trying? Have you tried using ovulation kits? Are you sure you are doing it at the right times? Etc. My advice – Please do not say any of these or anything similar to any person, muchness someone dealing with infertility. I am a tough cookie most of the time, so feel I can handle nonsense such as this, but someone struggling internally, may not. Of course we, and likely all others in our shoes, have explored ANY AND ALL options prior to committing to the IVF process. Thank you, end of story!
How many will embryos will you transfer and when will this happen? We are months away from having to make an official decision on this. When the time comes, we will have our doctor make a recommendation. Dr. F has conveyed to us, she prefers to transfer one embryo at a time. There are many clinics, patients, and circumstances where more than one embryo is transferred. If everything goes perfectly, which we know is never the case, we are looking at early 2016. We may choose to keep the transfer date and number of embryos transferred private. To be determined.
Have you considered adoption? I have gotten this question a couple times, and I must say, I am SO blessed to have many people VERY, very close to me in life who have adopted children or are adopted themselves. Even as a young child, I always thought adoption to be absolutely incredible, and admired those who have chosen this path. I am entirely open to welcoming a non-biological child into our lives! This is something Chris and I have yet to discuss, as we are taking the whole journey to parenthood one tiny, little step at a time.
Hope this made as much sense as possible! If not, PLEASE let me know!
We continue feel the love and support from so many! Sally and Dennis, dear friends of my parents, had candles lit for us at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France, as well as The Grotto at The University of Notre Dame. We are beyond fortunate to have the Kanes in our life, and we SO appreciate you and your always kind gestures and prayers!!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Xo
Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best. – Robert Tew