Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Where'd I go? What happened?

If you'd rather not read about pregnancy you may want to skip this post.


So I sort of dropped off the face of the planet in the run up to our Czech trip.  I was so busy with work - and that was awesome because I really didn't have time to stress over everything.  I worked and worked and worked and then one day I looked up and we were flying.

We had an absolutely incredible trip.  The kind of trip we've always dreamed of taking together.  Mr R is excited to go back!

The clinic we chose was absolutely incredible, and this was without doubt the best IVF cycle of all.  I mean there was at least one day when it was lunchtime before we realized we hadn't had an embryo update and followed up with the clinic.

For my own memory I wanted to keep our cycle stats somewhere - and I figure someone out there may find this interesting as well so here they are:

- 12 eggs retrieved
- All 12 mature
- All 12 fertilized
- 50% drop off after day 3 blamed on low sperm quality
- Transferred 2 day 5 blasts 1 expanding 5AA and 3AA
- Froze 3 day 6 blasts
- VERY faint positive on FRER on 8dp5dt

BETA #1 - 9dp5dt = 66, Progesterone: 8.6

37.25hrs doubling time

BETA #2 - 12dp5dt = 252.4, Progesterone 16.29

35.7hrs doubling time

BETA #3 - 14dp5dt = 641

Heart Rates

6w1d = 119bpm
8w4d = 179bpm

I had constant period-like cramping right through the TWW and after positive tests.  I was pretty spectacularly nauseous.  STARVING, but too nauseous to eat even though I found that eating quelled the nausea.

Which brings us to today... I am 11w4d and have graduated from my RE and all support medications.  No more progesterone, no more estrogen... Just me and the kid. :)  Nausea is mostly over.  Cramps are gone.  I am still pretty constantly bloated at the end of every day.  My regular stretchy pants no longer fit, but I am not big enough for maternity pants yet.  I am in that awkward middle ground too fat for regular pants, not bumpy enough for maternity pants.

I've had some mixed feelings around the DE part of this process.  Mostly just I guess delayed attachment... But as everyone has told me that goes away over time, and I can attest to that... I went for a scan on Monday and watching him/her bouncing around on that screen was possibly the most surreal thing I've ever experienced, but also it's the first time I felt that connection I've been hoping for and already I am feeling it get stronger every day. I think my problem is less to do with donor eggs, and more to do with infertility PTSD which I am now convinced is a real thing.  You don't want to get too involved, or too attached because you live with the constant fear that all of this is going to going away... you don't leave 10 years of fighting in the trenches of infertility without scars.

So that's it!  Things are going well.  We're expecting a miracle at last.  And we have 3 potential siblings on ice waiting for their turn.

What to do with this blog then?  I want to keep it up for posterity, for me to look back on one day and to maybe give hope to someone else out there who is wrestling with some of the same issues.  I don't think I will continue blogging here though, as I'd like to start something that I can share with family members all over the world who want to keep up with all things baby related.

Every story deserves a happy ending, so I will end this story here with the happiest possible ending there is.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Hello. Is there anybody in there?

This post could also have been titled "Where the hell is my period?"

I'll spare you the suspense... I'm not miraculously pregnant... but in my last post I mentioned how I finally had a pill approved by my Czech doc, and I was waiting for my period to start...  Well, I'm still waiting...

Actually, weirdly, I had all those classic early-pregnancy symptoms I've read about:

  • Strange mid-cycle spotting CHECK (only it wasn't bright pink, more brownish pink)
  • 2 Days of nipples on fire CHECK (definitely only nipples)
  • Tiredness CHECK
  • Weird twinges and cramps CHECK
  • Cervix high, tight and closed CHECK
  • 3 Days late for period CHECK

But according to an old WONDFO I found in the dark recesses of my cute "TTC bag" of 2010 I am not pregnant.

So what gives?

I am not testing again.  But I have an appointment to meet my new OB on Wednesday and I will wait to see what he says.

At this point I am just praying that it's not a cyst or a fibroid or something else that will cause us to have to reschedule our Czech cycle.

I have never had a cyst (that I was aware of) and I've read enough IF blogs to know they're pretty common and they often cause IVF cycles to be cancelled or delayed. So I guess it's my turn... We'll see.

The thing that pisses me off about this is that I have just sort of made peace with the whole genetic link thing.  I was finally excited and hopeful about our DE IVF prospects.  We were riding high on the planning and preparation for our trip to Prague - although admittedly more than just a little stressed about the logistics of it all.

So why now?  Why does my b*tch of a uterus choose now to play with my mind?

Friday, August 5, 2016

BCP is Approved!

Not sure if he's saying they're just "okay" or if he's saying they are "good" but Dr M has approved the Kurvelo BCPs and so I am now officially all set!  We sit and wait for CD1 expected on Aug 13th and then I start BCPs for 30 days.

Deposit paid.
Flights are booked.
Accommodation is booked.
Medication is ready.

I can't shake the feeling that I am missing some crucial step!

My big fear is that we will get there and go to pay and my card will have some kind of fraud alert which causes it to decline payment.  Or (as the clinic has already warned us) there may be some kind of daily transaction limit that will cause it to decline. I guess the next steps should be more practical things...

- Bank card
- Phone roaming
- Ummm...

What am I forgetting?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

It's Really Happening!

(I promise the last post will be the only "Czech" themed post title!)

In my last post I said we were going to wait until the meds made it in the mail before we started our cycle, but it turns out that is completely unnecessary.  One of the few upsides of my short TWW is that I didn't have to take the Progesterone or Estrogen for very long and it turns out that I have a ton of the stuff all still in my medicine cabinet. They of course don't have expiration dates listed on the bottles, but I was able to tell the issue dates based on which pharmacy we used for each cycle and checked with Dr. M who said they're good to use.  This means, we won't need to wait for meds to ship!

I received our tentative dates from our clinic rep yesterday:

ER 9/29
ET 10/4

We would like to be there the day before ER so we have time to settle in, and we decided to add a few extra days on the end just in case ER is pushed back a day or 2.

Flights are booked and they cost a pretty penny - certainly more than we budgeted for, but that's because Mr R isn't super keen on flying into Istanbul and hanging around in the airport for 12 hours given all that's going on there right now.  So instead we're going through Germany which is almost double the price. We leave Texas 7/27 and we leave Prague on 10/7.

This will cramp our style a little as far as spending money and accommodation, but luckily we found an awesome little studio apartment a little outside of the city center, but close enough to get there in under 5 minutes, while still just a short trip away from the clinic.  On AirBnB it looks really bright and clean and homey and we're planning on trying to save a bit of spending money by taking care of most of our meals at home (there's a grocery store right next to the apartment).  The apartment is costing us less than $300 for our whole stay which is better than the hotel prices we were seeing - even our rep was impressed that we found this great little place.

So that's flights and accommodation paid for and added to the calendar, in pen.  We're actually doing this people!!  This will be my first time flying with my USA passport, and it's actually a weird feeling.  When flying with my original passport we couldn't go anywhere without first applying for a visa, and having chest x-rays and blood tests and providing bank statements and letters from employers, etc before we could even book a flight.  This makes me uneasy though.  I feel like they'll have some extra thing I need to do that I haven't taken care of.  (My sweet Texas in laws wanted to know if we needed shots and malaria pills before we go. haha  Trying to explain that Prague is not in the Amazon jungle, or the Congo. We're going to Europe!)

The downside of the length of our stay is that with his new job, Mr R isn't due paid vacation until June 2017 but his boss has been forewarned about our plans from his very first day and has always said, "That's family man.  You go take care of your family." So when Mr R gave him dates this morning and he replied the same way we felt a bit of relief, until we realized that this means 2 weeks without pay.  Two weeks of medical insurance and child support payments that will come out of pocket, in addition to the monthly bills which will be due during that time.  So the plan for now is to seriously pull some overtime and really kick into saving overdrive over the next 6 weeks so that we are able to try and get ahead of our bills before we leave.

Mr R is still very keen to have some insurance cover for our trip.  In all my years backpacking in Europe I never had insurance, but I can see that it's the smart thing to do.  When I booked our tickets there was an optional insurance upgrade offered and I added it to the order.  Unfortunately for some reason there was an error with the order, and I had to call support and have them manually push it through, but they were not able to do anything about the insurance and recommended that I call Allianz directly.

Here's a tip to anyone reading this who may be planning a similar trip... when calling a travel insurance company, and they ask you the purpose of your trip do NOT say IVF, or in fact mention "medical" at all, unless you know for a fact that this is not an exemption in your state.

The agent asked sweetly, "Where are you going sweetie (ugh)? Prague? Wow!  What are your plans? IVF? Uh-huh.  What state did you say you were in? Texas? Okay give me one second to pull this up..."  Nothing sounded wrong, I patiently waited.

"Sweetie are you there?  Uh-huh, okay I'm sorry honey but we cannot extend you cover for this trip.  In Texas we have exemptions for any medical or fertility travel".

And that was that.

She didn't even know my name!  (Yes, I know I can call back and this time say I am going for a sightseeing trip, and I've thought about doing that, but it feels like I'd be tempting fate.  What if we really do need to use it and we're excluded because they find out what we were doing there? We're still thinking about what to do here.)

Another thing I didn't factor in is care of our animals.  We have 3 dogs, 3 cats, 4 goats, and 6 chickens and they're a lot of work.  Too many animals to board (even in Texas goat boarding is not a "thing") so we need to find a niece/nephew/cousin/uncle who might be willing to stay in our home while we're gone.   We're thinking about selling the goats though - they are a LOT of work to ask someone to handle, even just for 10 days.

Today's little drama was the one thing I thought I had handled.  (Despite the forewarning of Aramis in her Czech experience). My rep simply advised me to get single-phase contraception pills (the kind where all the pills are the same color and you don't take any placebos) but didn't mention Noresthiserone, so I figured that they had learned about issues getting that specific pill in the US and Canada and were prescribing something different.  I've seen these before back at home.  My mom said "Oh, the mini-pill.  I took those on my honeymoon".  The rep even gave me some Czech brand names for compsrison.  This would be a piece of cake - or so I thought.

My Old RE said, "No way. You're not our patient.  We will not prescribe anything for you."

My OB has been stripped of his license, and I only meet the new one on the 17th, but need to start these on the 13th. That won't work.

My GP's nurse said she didn't think it would be a problem, but I'd need an updated pap first.  They squeezed me in for an appointment this morning and I arrived armed with all my IVF records showing my last pap in 2014.  No pap needed.  Yay!  But there was still an issue...

My (older) GP has never heard of this pill.  He doesn't know what single-phase even means.  He looked up the Czech brand names and came in declaring that those brands weren't available in the USA - no shit!  Just as I was about to walk out in defeat I remembered that my old RE clinic used to put me on Kurvelo BCPs, but advised me to skip the placebos and go straight into the new pack on day 22.  I asked for a Kurvelo script and came home to email my clinic rep to see if these will work.  I am waiting to hear back on that after she speaks with Dr M.  Hopefully I will have an email waiting for me in the morning. *fingers crossed!*

So that brings us up to date!  I am still spinning more from excitement and fear than anything at this point.  In 54 days we will be boarding our flight to Prague and it all still feels unreal!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Czech it Out!

I can hardly believe I am typing these words....

I just paid the deposit.  We're heading to Prague this September for DE IVF.

We finally saved up enough to make it happen - after several big financial hits slowed our progress.  Well truthfully it wasn't just the financial side, I needed to take some time to mourn the whole genetic thing, and open my heart to the donor option.  But we're here at last.

It has taken months of reviewing donors trying to find the perfect match, (see above note about mourning the genetic thing) I was just not ready to let go yet.  Turns out there aren't very many 6ft tall curly red-heads with blood type O just walking around Prague. We actually were matched with an ideal fit last year, but I couldn't pull the trigger... This time we're ready, mentally and financially!

Today, our almost exactly ideal donor walked into the clinic to register and my coordinator snapped her up for me.  It's weird looking at stats on a piece of paper and knowing that this person whom you know so precious little about, is going to give you this incredible gift.

Here's what I know about her:

She's 33, red hair, blue eyes and fair skin.  She is O+.  Her hair is wavy, but I think the clinic kinda crossed the rules a wee bit when they told me that she has curly hair in her immediate family.  She is shorter than ideal - I preferred over 5'7 because I am so tall, and the donor is 5'6" but as I said, I have let go of the idea of finding an exact twin match and I am happy with a mild resemblance so the older family folks don't get too suspicious. And then for hobbies she is a baker, who enjoys dancing, theater, biking and music and (this part too) "spending time with her daughter".  I don't think they're supposed to say if the donor has children or not.

It makes me feel good that she's not super young and that she already had a child when she made the decision to donate.  I feel like she is in a good position to know what she's doing here and not making a decision she will later regret -- also, did you know that the donors in Czech republic are not paid?  They receive no compensation outside of their expenses for participating.  Which of course makes her even more of an angel!

We're still torn over the tell/don't tell thing.  I am strongly in the "Tell" camp, while hubs is in the "don't tell" camp and he's not budging.  We've decided to reevaluate things when our potential progeny are older and decide then if it's something that would enhance their lives, or cause them distress.  (Secretly I've compiled a list of baby books on donor IVF describing the wonderful stranger who gave mommy a precious gift).  Ideally I'd like to introduce this concept very early on but we're totally going to play it by ear.

As far as family, we're not telling anyone until we decide what to do with our potential child.  Two people outside of hubs and I know.  1)  My best friend, 2) my fertility coach.  We're going to keep it that way for now.

So now we've paid the deposit, I guess I had better get moving, shake some of this pity weight, get back on the pre-natals and gluten-free, dairy-free, fun free diet.  I'm also going to be including some fertility yoga because I need to combat some of the stress I am dealing with at work and I will feel better having a limber, peaceful body ready to receive.

We're tentatively looking at second half of September, first half of October as that is the ideal time for the hubs to get time away from work. Unfortunately until our medication arrives from Prague there's no scheduling an exact date.  My local RE has made it clear that he isn't keen on actively participating in this, though I did get them to agree to a CD 10 lining check.  My local OB has been stripped of his license following several lawsuits and I am only meeting my new OB in two weeks, so I don't want to wait to see if she will prescribe me the meds required.  We're going to throw caution to the wind and have them shipped to us and pray to all that is holy that they don't get stuck in customs somewhere!  They're pills not shots, but you never know.

So now for the next hurdle... keeping a positive frame of mind, without being too positive.  70% success rate is a hell of a lot better than the less than 5% I had previously, but there's still a 30% chance that something will go wrong.

Oh, I should add that, since we're not getting any younger, we're going to go for broke and transfer 2 embryos if we have them.  How does that affect the odds I wonder?  Surely that improves them somewhat.  I'd like to think that with 70% odds for one, that two would be at least 80% and that (in my brain) is practically 100%.  Still.... There's a long road ahead of me... And no exact transfer date in sight.  I had best slow my roll.... [ETA: I have no idea where I got 70% success rate from... I've spoken with a number of clinics over the last year, and it must have come in there somewhere, but my chosen clinic lists 63% success rate on their site.  Still, 63% is HUGE]

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hope for Those of Us with DOR?

My sister sent me this link today. Am I wrong to be SUPER excited? It's probably going to be forever until it's ready to roll out, huh? There would be no shortage of women willing to sign up for a trial though.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Time to Quit?

When your 21 year old nephew has a baby, and you still don't, is it time to call it and move on?

Sad. Sad day for one member of this family...