Monthly Archives: September 2014

FET News: TSH levels, Abdominal Pain and (back to discussing) Twins?

(I have to thank many of you dear readers for checking in with me, either in person or online, and letting me know that many of you are praying for us during this time. It has been a HUGE encouragement to me!)

But I have to be honest: It’s very tempting to just disappear from this blog space right now! A huge (insecure) part of me wants to take a blogging break and let anyone reading this know the results of our embryo transfer well after it’s happened. To tell you it was negative after I’ve grieved and healed a bit, or to tell you it was positive after I’ve heard a heartbeat and made it through the first trimester. But I made up my mind that I was not going to do that this time around (as I did when we went through IVF), because I didn’t want to be dictated by fear. And I’m not a very private person in general, so I can’t use that excuse either. ūüėČ So, here’s the latest in our upcoming frozen embryo transfer (FET):

1. Many of you have asked the difference between IVF and and FET. Essentially, IVF stimulates the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible (without over-stimming them). The eggs are then retrieved (usually under anesthesia) and fertilized and left to grow on their own in a lab over a period of usually 3-5 days. The best 1-3 embryos are then transferred back in (if there are any remaining they are frozen), and 2 weeks later a blood test reveals whether a baby (or babies) is on it’s way or not. An FET is much more relaxed and there is less monitoring overall. This is due to the fact that¬†the ovaries are left completely alone, since there is no need to retrieve more eggs when there are already embryos ready to go! FET involves injections of both progesterone and estrogen to get the uterine lining nice and thick before transferring the embryos in. There are also other injections to keep you from ovulating during the cycle (and while I’m at it, I might as well mention that steroids, antibiotics and baby aspirin are all usually part of the regiment¬†as well). So, there are still a lot of hormones and injections involved, but it’s overall much lower key (and no anesthesia!) than IVF. Moving on from this mini lecture…

2. As some¬†of you already know, I seemed to be cursed with ovarian cysts. Multiple kinds, including the kind that need surgery! Aside from having 3 surgeries to remove cysts, I’ve also had (now) three occasions in which I was certain I was experiencing a rupturing cyst. The first time the pain came on immediately and within 10 minutes I was in agonizing pain for around 2 hours. I didn’t go to the ER because a cyst had been confirmed by ultrasound the week prior, and I was pretty sure I knew what was happening at the time. The second time was not very long after Josh was born. My mom was over while my husband was at work, and the pain came on over a period of about an hour. I stood up after nursing Josh¬†and realized that I could not straighten all the way up or walk on the affected side. The pain escalated quickly at that point (and to be honest I think I was still pretty traumatized from my delivery with Josh and generally anxious about experiencing out-of-control pain again) so¬†my mom took me to the ER. Hours later, the pain subsided and by the time I finally got the ultrasound, no cyst was to be found (I figured because it had ruptured). Now, finally I bring you to last Sunday. It was a week before my period was due and I had cramping most of the day, which I thought was unusual as it seemed to early. I rested on the couch for a while and when I stood up, I felt the same intense pain on one side and thought “Uh oh.” I tried to walk around a little but the pain soared. But this time I had another plan. I told my husband, “Guess what? I’m NOT going to the ER this time.” Instead I took a Tylenol with codeine, loaded up on Ibuprofen, and placed a rice sock on my abdomen. Within 30 minutes I felt much better and even ate dinner. It was the best bursting-cyst experience to date. But to be honest I am discouraged as to why I have had 2 of these cysts burst in the past 6 months and don’t feel like it bodes well for the future if I don’t get pregnant again soon.

3. I got my pre-FET labs drawn. My TSH came back at 3. Not a horrible number for an adult by any measure, but my IVF doctor wants it under 2.5 (higher numbers are associated with both negative pregnancy results¬†as well as ¬†are miscarriages). So I get to have it rechecked next week (not sure it will change much in a week, but I am praying that it will!). If it’s over 2.5 then I get to start thyroid meds. I’m not sure if this will delay my FET cycle, but since my doctor is pretty careful, I’m willing to bet that he’ll delay it a month and recheck my TSH level again before proceeding with the cycle. The downside to this is that I believe this will have us finding out if we’re pregnant or not right around Christmas. However, I looked back and saw that I got pregnant with Josh when my TSH was 2.75 (so he must have accepted it being a little higher then, or he may have implemented new standards since then).

4. Since my doctor didn’t specify if taking thyroid meds would delay my FET cycle, at this point I’m supposed to call on day 2 of my period and start birth control on that day to start the FET cycle (which usually takes about a month). Usually I dread my period coming and arm myself with ibuprofen, but this time I’m wishing it would just start already!

5. My husband and I took some time out to pray and talk through whether to transfer 1 or 2 embryos. I also did a ton of research on twin pregnancies. I am not under any delusion that a subsequent pregnancy (whether a singleton or twins) for me will be easy and pain-free (although I am ever hopeful!) — after all I was told that all my pain would be gone when I got pregnant, (and that was clearly not the case), and then I was told the next pregnancy would a piece of cake… I find that if I don’t have expectations about such things then I am far less disappointed when my expectations aren’t met. So what I discovered is that, irregardless of adhesions and scar tissue, carrying twins is very, very hard. That was no surprise to me, as carrying just one baby seemed pretty hard at the time! But what I really wanted to know were the statistics of how many twins delivered early (before 36 weeks). My doctor told me that if I’m compliant (i.e. I take it easy when I’m told to) the chances of delivering twins after 36 weeks is pretty good, around 65%. So, before praying and researching, I felt very strongly that we should only transfer 1. However, my husband thought that transferring 2 might be a better idea. We prayed and discussed and I researched. Oddly, over time I became more and more¬†comfortable with the idea of twins. (Although I get the idea that being pregnant with twins is anything but comfortable.) But for now the plan is to transfer 2 of our embryo babies! We’re still continuing to pray about it, and I think the Lord is revealing to me the times when I am tempted to make decisions or base thoughts out of fear.¬†At this point I can honestly say I am moving toward transferring 2 not out of fear of not getting pregnant (because the statistics for getting pregnant are lower when only 1 is transferred) but because twins seems like it would be an amazing double blessing, and I so would love to be a mama to several children.

So there you have it. Cyst, TSH, period, 2 embryos. But really, this is a time of huge struggle for me. I am not in any kind of denial thinking that just because I got pregnant with Josh, I’ll get pregnant again. Believe me, I have read several blogs documenting a¬†successful pregnancy with twins, only to endure several subsequent embryo transfers with no babies to show for it. It’s hugely disheartening, and you may just say “Stick with the positive stories for now!” But that is not real life, and I want to learn to lean on and praise God through any storm He sends us under. After all, my life is not about infertility but about learning to be a servant of God! So even though I’m dying to buy some new maternity clothes (seriously; it’s weird) and to hear a heartbeat on a doppler I’m looking to Christ who is my Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3) and knowing that hope comes from Him!¬†(And not from a positive pregnancy test.)

Thanks again for praying with us during this time! It is invaluable to me!

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We Made it to 6 Months!

Josh turned 6 months old last week!

Life with an infant has gone from being incredibly hard (the first 6 weeks– COLIC!) to seeing some glimpses of hope for better sleep in the future (3-4 months) to now daily routines and schedules. Life finally feels like there is some cadence to it. Feeding times, naps, and night time have smoothed out tremendously in the last few weeks. I don’t know if this has to do with introducing solids (which happened at 5 months) or switching over to formula (which happened just prior to 6 months) or if it’s just that he’s 6 months now, and this is what babies do at 6 months. Whatever, the reason, I’m really enjoying these days (and especially the better sleep)!

Josh gets a bottle usually at 8 am, 12 pm, 4 pm and right before bedtime–usually around 6:30-7 pm. He also gets a bottle in the middle of the night, which is anywhere from 1-4:30 am. I would try to cut that one out but he’s taking usually 5 oz, which tells me he’s hungry! I give him solids 3x/day, oatmeal (mixed with frozen breast milk), a veggie/meat combo for lunch, and a fruit/veggie combo at dinner. I space out his meals so that he’s getting solids in between his bottles. Lately I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect bib because the soft plastic ones I bought at Babies R Us just weren’t doing the job (I figure that if I have to change his outfit after he eats, the bib is failing us!). I ordered some silicone ones from Amazon; hopefully they’ll come soon and we can try them out.

Josh seems to be growing like a weed lately and just yesterday I noticed that he seemed to be taking up the entire changing table! When did that happen? He’s growing out of most of his 3-6 month clothes and his 6 month sleepers are getting tight. 9 month sleepers, I discovered, are still too big and he just lies in his crib (instead of sleeping) and chews on them since they’re so big. I need to get some 6-9 month sleepers soon.

He’s loving mainly his Jumparoo and walker right now. I’m really wanting to build a swing set in the back yard and put up one of those infant swings. We don’t have any swing-worthy trees in our smallish backyard, so last night I talked with hubby about building the swing set. We went outside and brainstormed for a while — we’ll have to remove a deck that we have (that is pretty much not doing anything other than threatening to rot) and clear out some rocks, but other than that I don’t think it’ll be too difficult to do (which is easy for me to say since it’ll be my husband doing most of it).

Josh’s other favorite thing to do is to read. He LOVES books! All kinds. I probably read to him about 20 books a day. I also have him lay on a blanket and play with a few toys while I read to him from an old chapter book written in the 1920’s called Milly-Molly-Mandy that my sister loaned me. I wasn’t sure if he’d like it but he looks at the pictures and listens quietly while I read a few chapters a day. What a kid. I was telling my mother in law that he’s definitely his father’s child — when I was young I could barely sit still for anything and just wanted to be outside running around and playing. My husband loved to be indoors reading whatever books he could get his hands on.

The best part of this 6 months stage is the better sleep. We put Josh down around 7 pm and usually don’t hear a peep out of him until the early/later morning. He rarely cries when I put him down, also. I’ve gotten more sleep in the last 2 weeks than I think I have in probably the first 3 months.

There are some things we are working on. We had a disastrous trip to the mountains¬†a few weeks ago because Mr. Josh refused to sleep in his new port a crib. It was so bad that we just ended up packing up and coming home at 4 am! (Mainly due to me– I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before and hadn’t slept AT ALL that night = one wreck of a mama). So now I’m making him take naps in it. So far, so good. Soon I’ll be putting him in it at bedtime and I’ll alternate it with his crib for sleep at night. Maybe I’ll put the port a crib in different rooms of the house too so that he can really get used to being in different places during various¬†times of the day.

He had his vaccines last Friday and I was so nervous¬†that we were in for a horrible time after (like what happened after his 4 month vaccines–screaming for 2 hours no matter what we did, and WITH Tylenol on board). But when I asked the nurse giving the shots if there was a Rotovirus vaccine included, she said that he was all done with those. I had really felt that his discomfort before seemed to be gut-related, so I felt some hope at the time that he would do better this time. Surprisingly, he cried less than he ever had previously with vaccines, and was happy as a clam after. I panicked once at home and gave him Ibuprofen (which he can have now that he’s 6 months) even though he seemed fine — if you had been here after his 4 month vaccines you would understand! But there was no screaming for hours later on in the evening, and in fact he looked happier than ever. Hooray! He slept great that night also.

As far as growth percentages go, nothing’s really changed! 85% for head, 50% for height, and 15% for weight. As you can see below he really hated being on the cold scale when he got weighed at the Pediatrician’s office.

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And here are a few more pictures. Please excuse the pacifiers. The kid drools about ten gallons a day, and having his pacifier in cuts down on the amount of bib and outfit changes I have to make due to sopping wet, drool-soaked clothes! Hope you enjoy the upcoming weekend!

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Date Night & Pondering Life With Twins

I could hardly sleep two nights ago because, A) We were to meet with our IVF doctor yesterday (I guess I was excited/scared/nervous), and because B) my husband and I had a date night planned for the evening that day as well. By 5 am I gave up on sleeping, got up and showered, and headed to the grocery store. 6 am is an usual time for shopping, but man is it the way to go! I just about had the entire store to myself. But onto more interesting things…

Josh, my husband and I made the trip yesterday morning the infertility clinic. I admit I had mixed emotions about bringing Josh with us– after all, there’s nothing harder than sitting in those waiting room chairs while you’re hoping and praying for a positive pregnancy test, and having babies around you. (I’ll never forget waiting for an appointment in my Ob/Gyn’s office one time because I had a cyst and needed surgery, only to look around and discover that I was the only person in the room who wasn’t pregnant. It feels like salt in a wound!) In any case, I didn’t really have a baby sitter, and I knew the clinic nurses would want to see Josh. (Not to mention our IVF doctor.)

We had a consultation with our doctor, and he went over the statistics of me getting pregnant and the chances of having twins (if they transfer in two of the embryos), what the timeline looked liked, etc. We also reviewed the medications I’d be taking and injections with the nurse.

It was all pretty much old news. There were only two things that caught me off guard. Now I knew that the 4 embryos we had were of top notch quality. I hate to refer to human life that way (all human life is extraordinary!), but there is a grading system they use to decipher if there is cell fragmentation, how far progressed the embryos got prior to freezing, etc. All of our embryos are blastocysts (meaning they have survived for more than 5 days prior to freezing and have developed past the 8 or 10 cell stage to more like 100+ cells) and there is little or no fragmentation, earning them a score of an “A.” After I got pregnant with Josh, our doctor told us that when we did an embryo transfer, he would recommend that they transfer in 2, since they transferred in 2 before and I got pregnant with Josh and not twins. So all along, we had been thinking that 2 of our or embryos would be transferred. But then as we were sitting at the table in the consultation room, our doctor announced that he recommended 1 embryo, because he seemed to think that I had a really good chance of getting pregnant again. He asked about my work, and when I told him I worked very minimally, he said, “Well, you might do okay being pregnant with twins then.”¬†My husband and I just looked at each other. The thought of twins really freaks me out. Not to mention the fact that I would probably voluntarily put myself on some sort of modified bed rest at 24 weeks to help ensure that we wouldn’t have 24 weeks twins in the NICU. And how would that work with a toddler? I have no idea. But conversely, if we transfer 1 in and I get pregnant, then that means we would probably keep transferring in 1 at a time until all 4 embryo have had a chance to survive. Best case scenario (assuming I get pregnant each time), that would be 4 embryo transfers, 4 more pregnancies, and a lot of money we would have to come up with while probably living on one income.

Lastly, there’s possibility that I might not get pregnant at all, and all this dithering would be for nothing.

The hubs and I went out on our date last night (thanks to his mom for baby-sitting!) to a fun burger place and hashed around the different possibilities of 1 embryo vs. 2, etc. I was shocked to discover that he was leaning toward 2. But it probably has to do with the statistics our doctor gave us which mainly imply that the chances of twins are low. Here are the stats:

Probability of getting pregnant if 2 are transferred in: 65-70%

-Chances of twins: 30%

Probability of getting pregnant if 1 transferred in: 50%

Chances of identical twins: 1%

I was more imagining trying to nurse 2 babies, and as Josh hadn’t slept well for the past 3 nights, I was imaging not one, but THREE young children all crying during the night–for most nights. And pretty much never sleeping. I was imagining carrying around Josh in the ergo front pack while pushing a double stroller. Oh, and don’t forget the triple high chairs! But the most concerning part to me was trying to be a good parent to Josh while simultaneously trying to keep twins in utero. And I really have no idea how that would work.

But am I willing to sacrifice a lot to have a family? To take love and cherish how ever many children God gives us?

You bet I am.

In the end, we decided we simply needed to pray and hear from the Lord on the matter. It’s as simple as that. We may get 0, 1 or 2 babies. As I have learned again and again, HIS plans and HIS ways are best. Always. What feels like an insurmountable challenge of twins may not be. The dread of getting a negative pregnancy test result might not be as devastating as it seems if that time comes. I have to look back and remember that when my Ob/Gyn told me I had another endometrioma and that I needed another surgery, I was devastated– but that was what pushed us to pursue IVF. At the time I thought I would never have children, and he we are considering the possibility of a second pregnancy. If you had told me this 18 months ago, I would have never believed you.

So, thanks for keeping us in your prayers. We’ll be starting this process in just a couple of weeks! Crazy!

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Moving Forward

It’s taken me a while to muster up the courage to write this blog post. For a while I’ve been thinking that maybe I just wanted to have a more private life, and that I didn’t really want to broadcast on this blog the latest, the greatest, the saddest or¬†the baddest happening in my life. Maybe I should stop blogging altogether, I thought.

Looking back, I didn’t blog much (okay, actually not at all) before, during and after we went through IVF. At the time, I felt that I couldn’t. I was realized that this was mostly due to the crippling fear I had that it wouldn’t work.

But then the Lord gave us Josh. A blessing greater than I could have ever surmised.

Since I find¬†myself wanting to retreat from this blog again, you might have guessed why: We’re headed towards a frozen embryo transfer (FET) soon.

It seems a little soon,” you might say. And as Josh is a handful of¬†days¬†away from¬†turning 6 months old, you would be quite correct. It is early. We had hoped to wait longer, so that my body could have more time to recover and so that I could keep nursing Josh for at least a year. But things didn’t turn out as planned (when do they ever?). If you read my blog much, you might remember my post about never ending PMS symptoms. At the time I felt pregnant. For a month I had nausea, heartburn, fatigue, bloating, cramping, spotting… which finally resulted in my first postpartum period, 30 days later. I felt relieved, as it meant my month of PMS torture was finally over. But at the same time, my heart sank. I knew that it meant my (aggressive) endometriosis would be able rear it’s ugly head again, and conceivably soon. In the past, I’ve gotten endometriomas (chocolate cysts) in just two months. That’s right– in just two cycles I had been diagnosed with two endometriomas and scheduled¬†for surgery. And since I’ve had surgery three times, I’m not into waiting it out ¬†to see how it goes. I’ve got 4 other embryos to think about, and I don’t want to risk having to have a hysterectomy or having multiple surgeries that might impair their ability to implant and grow. Our IVF doctor, taking the aggressive nature of my endometriosis into consideration, thinks it’s a wise plan of action to do the FET soon.

The biggest downside to doing the embryo transfer soon is that I had to wean Josh. I found it quite an easy thing to talk about and a much harder thing to actually do. Now, before I go on, I must say¬†that nursing Josh has not been an easy feat. I didn’t write about it on this blog, but I dealt with Josh’s tongue-tie, multiple block ducts, never ending milk blisters, a mastitis scare (basically fever, chills and body aches that self resolved), low milk supply, and lots and lots of Josh crying with frustration while nursing. Often times, I would cry too. Despite all of the hardships that came along with nursing, I found it unbelievably hard to give up. I planned to make it as non-traumatic as possible–starting with one bottle a day with something like 3/4 breast milk and 1/4 formula, while slowly adjusting the ratio over time so that it was only formula, and slowly substituting nursing with bottle feedings over the course of a month. But¬†Josh would have none of it. By the third day of my “plan” (remember, my plans don’t work out very often) Josh was completely refusing the bottle, even if it was solely¬†breast milk. So, I had to force the issue and had to wait it out until he was thirsty enough to A) take the bottle, and B) take the formula all by itself. I felt awful during this process and cried buckets of tears. It was also a hit to my body to go from nursing 6-7 times a day to not at all. Talk about dropping prolactin levels! I prayed and asked God to not let Josh go 3 days or something horrible like refusing the bottle and without fluids. And to my great relief, he didn’t! He actually didn’t go any great length of time at all. I nursed him Friday night (his last time nursing) and when he woke up crying at 4 am, I gave him a bottle with formula and he took 2-3 oz. He sucked it down and sat happily in my lap while doing so. Now he is really cuddly and even cries sometimes if I don’t get the bottle in his mouth fast enough, taking anywhere from 4-5 oz at a time. So, although things didn’t go according to my plan, they still went remarkably well and sped up the process much faster than I could have imagined. And for all my attempts over the past 6 months to give Josh a bottle here and there, and to give him formula occasionally — well, let’s just say that it was pretty much pointless in the end.

I’m not sure when the embryo transfer will be (probably in the next month or two?) but I covet your prayers. I’m surrounded by fears again — such as: What if I don’t get pregnant? Or if I do get pregnant: What if I have another incredibly painful pregnancy, this time with a toddler to care for also? What if it’s twins and I deliver prematurely? What if it’s twins and one of them dies? And on and on the worries can build. But it’s just another opportunity to seek the Lord, to ask for another child, to rest and to not spin these worries out of control. I have to look around me and see all that He has done, and how greatly I have been blessed!

And now that I have gotten over my initial fear by letting people know about our plans to do an embryo transfer soon, I will do my best to keep you updated. The hardest part about this is not getting pregnant and then having someone ask you about it. But conversely, there is the great joy in also telling an inquiring person that it worked and that you’re pregnant! We just don’t know what the Lord has in store for us. Either way, I’m counting on Him to carry us through it.

Thanks for praying!

And why not end with some happy pictures of our little guy? (The first two taken by my talented friend Katherine while I was over at her house.)

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