Tag Archives: embryos

IVF #2…. Say What?

Well, here’s a post I never expected to write.

We’re going through IVF again!

(As a recap – to anyone new to this blog, we went through IVF back in 2013 and have 2 beautiful children now.)

I think the year of 2013 was such an incredibly painful year for me physically that IVF has left a few scars on me. I really wasn’t interested in going through it again! I had surgery just prior to IVF (for endometriosis) and then as anyone who’s been through IVF knows that the meds for IVF/ pregnancy are a bit on the brutal side (7 weeks of IM progesterone injections, anyone?), and then I had a horribly painful pregnancy with adhesions ripping apart as baby grew. So, whenever the thought of doing IVF crossed my mind I immediately thought: No thank you!

But then I prayed about it. I love our children so much and I’m so grateful to be a mother. And before long the idea of IVF didn’t sound as terrible anymore. Not only that, we now had an option for insurance to over almost all of the cost, including meds! I broached the subject with hubby, and I can’t remember if he immediately (or eventually) said “no,” but either way, the answer was the same. I actually wasn’t too grieved about it at the time. But I did (sneakily) continue to pray about it. And over time, my husband brought it up again and put the whole idea back on the table! My extremely intelligent, introverted, noise-hating husband said he would love to have more children! My mind was blown.

We moved forward from there and (together) kept praying about it. I kept waiting for the door to close on the whole idea, and if I’m honest I’m still a little mentally there. I just can’t believe we’ve made it this far! I thought the door was closing when my initial labs came back really terrible back in November. My day 2 FSH was 24.7, and my AMH was 0.2. I shook my head when I saw the results – there aren’t many IVF clinics that will even take you as a patient if your FSH was over 15, and mine was way higher! I kept praying. And I did a lot of research. At the end of the day, even if we only had a 1% chance, I still wanted to try. Insurance would be paying for it… and I’m 35 with extremely low ovarian reserve (thanks to too many surgeries on my ovaries) — in other words, this was really our last chance before I hit premature ovarian failure (that’s a code term for ‘early menopause’).

I went to my first IVF appt and I couldn’t believe that my IVF dr even agreed to see my given my lab results. But he did an ultrasound and my AFC (antral follicle count) wasn’t dismal at all – I think I had 12 follicles or so? He agreed to let us give IVF a try! Then he had me repeat my day 2 labs and they came back waaaay better – my FSH was 9.7! I couldn’t believe it!

And so here we are. I’m on day 3 of stim meds, 300 IU of Follistim and 150 IU Menopur. (Same dosage as last time around.) At my last ultrasound there were 12/13 follicles, which boggles my mind. I honestly though that when my FSH levels came in at 24.7 that I would be lucky to have 3 or 4 follicles.

In the meantime I’m happy to have my 2 little distractions and thankful to the Lord for this unexpected opportunity to go through IVF again! Last time I was an emotional wreck (couldn’t even bring myself to blog about it) but this time I am trusting God that His plan for the future is BEST, whether my cycle gets cancelled, or I don’t get pregnant, or I end up getting an BFP. I’ll be pretty bummed if it doesn’t work out… but I know that God is good and that His plans are for the best.

I will try to keep you updated on how it goes. Thanks so much for your prayers for us!

“He only is my Rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6

 

 

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Filed under Infertility, IVF

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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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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Filed under Baby, Endometriosis, Infertility, IVF, Pregnancy