First ever injection and my HERO

FSH is 18.  No change.  Estradiol is 30.  According to Dr. E, these are great levels.  We got the green light to do our first injection.  I was kind of nervous to do the mixing.   I didn’t do a good job at the doctor’s office and have been nervous about it since.  We reviewed the Menopur video and went ahead with it.  Someone at the pharmacy was very smart: they placed the bag of alcohol wipes and the gauze pads inside the sharps container.  We couldn’t remove the lid to take out the bag!  The lid was so so tight and the bag was too big to be taken out of the little opening of the sharps container.  Somehow Bob squeezed a few gauze pads out at a time and eventually removed everything.  That was a stupid thing we had to do even before we started mixing.

My husband did all the mixing.  It was great team work.  I removed all the needles and the caps of the vials.  He did all the syringe work.  He mixed all four vials of Menopur and one vial of the human growth hormone without spilling a single drop.  And he did get every single drop from the vials:

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See the empty containers?  YAY!  He’s my HERO!  The first injection wouldn’t have been successful without him.  Although the poor guy had to turn his head away from me when I did the injections. 

As for the injections themselves?  The human growth hormone was fine.  The Menopur actually burned a bit when it went in.  Now it doesn’t burn anymore.  My negative thought process kicks in… What if nothing grows????  I have to shake these thoughts from entering into my mind.  First night is a success!

Cycle Day Two

It has been a great weekend so far.  Bob and I went to the city on Friday night to enjoy a comedy show by one of favorite comedians.  The night started out wonderful as we scored a street parking spot after looking around for only 20 minutes.  This was huge especially in an area known for difficulty finding parking spaces.  We saved ourselves $20!  I literally laughed the whole hour and a half I was there.  There were many racial jokes and cussing but it was still very funny.  It was a wonderful date night despite me knowing that my basal body temperature had dropped big time that morning and AF’s arrival was imminent. 

As predicted, AF arrived on Saturday morning.  I immediately emailed Dr. E and got the instruction to get my CD2 bloodwork done on Sunday.  Bob and I went to I.kea to pick up many household organizing type things.  There were SOOO many pregnant women, babies, and little kids at I.kea.  We purchased curtains for the living room, food containers for grains and legumes, spice jars for the many Indian spices that I use, and drawer mats to line the shelves of our newly remodeled kitchen.  Since we finished with remodeling six months ago, we still hadn’t done a lot of the final touches for the house.  So this is a big step for us to try to organize the house the best way we can.  We also ordered some red metal counter stools online that are due to arrive tomorrow!  Can’t wait til we can sit at the kitchen counter to have our breakfast!

Today, I went bright and early to the hospital lab for my bloodwork.  I got asked by the receptionist and later the phlebotomist about my last name.  Yes I am Chinese.  Yes this is my husband’s last name.  No he is not Thai or Indonesian.  No no kids yet.  Yes I hope our mixed baby will be very cute.  Can I get my blood drawn and get out of here already??? (No I didn’t say this out loud.) 

After church, most of today was spent on chores and organizing the house.  All the different types of lentils and grains have been stored in the containers we purchased.  The spices have been separated into the spice jars.  Bob lined all the shelves and drawers in the kitchen.  Bone marrow soup is being simmered on the stove….. Hmmm… Where is Dr. E’s email? 

If I don’t hear from Dr. E today, do I start my stims or not?? Hmm…. Still waiting…

Other things to update:

  • Bob and I are doing well.  We agree that there are communication issues we need to work on and we will make an appointment with a counselor.  We just don’t know if we should look for any counselor or a Christian counselor in particular. 
  • Both supporting legs of the bed have completely come off.  One of the things we did today was to support the bed by putting a bunch of my graduate school notes (in many heavy-duty binders) and textbooks under the bed frames.  Who would have known that my graduate school education would be so useful in times of needs like this?  (Since Bob adamantly refused to sacrifice HIS graduate school textbooks.)
  • One visit with the chiropractor has eased my shoulder pain by quite a bit.  Will have to go back next Monday for another visit.  By the way, he suggested adjusting my lower back to enhance fertility by increasing energy and blood flow to the pelvic area.  I was like, bring it on!  Anything that helps, right?
  • Doing some calculation…. If we get to egg retrieval and have anything to transfer this cycle, it’ll be right around my birthday…  How about that for a happy birthday?

Well, will let you all know if Dr. E emails me today and whether or not Bob spills any Menopur on the table during mixing.  🙂

Stress-free? Who am I kidding?

As much as I want to keep myself stress-free, it seems like I am under a lot of stress and my body is reacting to it.  My left shoulder has been bothering me, especially after driving 30  minutes to work or sitting at my desk working on the computer for about 20 minutes.  The pain sometimes extends to the joint of my left thumb.  Needless to say, I am not a fun person to be around these two days because of the pain.  Called insurance at lunch and confirmed that we have coverage for chiropractic services.  Just pay a copayment for any in network providers and we’re good to go for 30 visits per calendar year.  Got an appointment scheduled with this guy who has wonderful Yelp reviews.  I am hoping to be pain-free by Thursday.

Remember I said that I am not a fun person to be around?  Well, Bob and I got into a huge fight last night.  I thought that we have had a good system down and we really hadn’t gotten into a fight in a long time.  Everything was fine when he got home.  One phone call with his mother changed everything.  I don’t think I have ever talked about my in-laws.  Well, let’s just say that I am far from being the ideal daughter-in-law that they had ever dreamed of.  In fact, they were so upset about our upcoming wedding that his father called Bob the day before the wedding and yelled at him for a long time.  Nobody from his family, including his parents or any other close cousins, attended our wedding.  And his father stopped talking to him for many months after that.  The main reason: I am not Indian and I am older.  Since I wasn’t handpicked and arranged by his parents, it is as if Bob didn’t have a wife.  They would tell people that Bob has decided not to be married when someone asks them about Bob’s life.  After we went to visit them in India last year, things did get a little better. But his mother has this way of torturing him when they talk on the phone or Skype.  He basically gets yelled at for ruining their lives almost EVERY SINGLE TIME they talk.  Last night was no exception.  Bob got off the phone and was in a totally annoyed and unhappy mood.  So instead of being the wise one and walking away from it, I fell into the trap of reacting to his reaction to his mother.  One thing led to another.  And we were yelling at each other.  I don’t know if it’s the stress of IVF, infertility, his family situation, or his job situation.  Must be a combination of all of them.  I just feel so helpless when we fight.  I am also very frustrated that we are allowing his mother’s destructive ways to get to our relationship.  Other than this one stressor, Bob has also been a bit anxious about looking for a new job.  However, we can’t move on from this job until we’re done using the fertility insurance.  The lifetime maximum coverage will be finished in July when our cycle starts.  He’ll then be free to move around and look for another job.  But to him, it feels like that EVERYTHING we do revolves around fertility and IVF.  It feels like it, but it is not true.  However, no matter what I tell him, it doesn’t matter.  It is how he feels.  And he’s sticking with it.  We do enjoy life.  IVF is a big part but it’s not everything that we do.  I do see a pattern of our communication that is recurring and I feel that we can use some help in that area.  So during my insurance coverage phone call, I also found out that we are covered for counseling for unlimited visits with just a copayment.  Bob and I will talk about it and see if that’s something we want to pursue.  I hope it will help.  I don’t think it’ll hurt.

How do you deal with stress, especially when it’s related to infertility and fertility treatment?  Have you ever done counseling and how did it work out for you?

Rekka’s death sentence and a friend’s surprise BFP

Today is 8 days past ovulation.  Will head over to Dr. E on this fine Saturday morning to check on my ovaries to see if the cyst is still there or there are any new cysts popping up.  Hopefully naming the cyst Rekka (derived from Hebrew “raik” which means “empty”, named by my brilliant secret Facebook friend M) will give it a death sentence so we could move on with our cycle in a week!  We’ll find out the fate of Rekka in about an hour.  I’m feeling a little more ready right now than when we were supposed to start the cycle last month.

An online friend of mine just got her surprise BFP a week ago!  She’s a couple of years younger than I am but has my kind of FSH, AMH, and AFC.  She has been told by all the doctors that she consulted with, that it’s nearly impossible for her to get pregnant naturally.  All of her IUIs were BFNs.  She even had one cycle the previous month banking one embryo for future transfer.  She had never gotten a BFP in her life.  She went out of the country on vacation, came back, and got the biggest surprise of her life!  I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t feel a little sorry for myself for two seconds when I found out about her pregnancy.  You know, the same ol’ why not me, why her kind of thing.  But after those two seconds, I began to feel a lot of joy for her and plenty of hope for myself!  This is someone very similar to me.  If it could happen to her, it could happen to me!  I just have to put my trust in the Lord that it could be accomplished, if I let Him do his work and follow His plans.  Hey JA, if you’re reading this, just know that I am VERY happy for you and I’m praying for a strong heartbeat in a few weeks and super sticky baby dust for this super sticky bean! 

For those who are stopping by for ICLW, thanks for visiting!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Extra things infertiles do that fertile people haven’t even heard of

Time is crawling in my two-week wait.  My basal body temperature is rising very slowly.  I am not holding my breath for getting my miracle pre-IVF BFP.  I believe CD 1 will be another ten days.  Will see Dr. E either this weekend or next Monday depending on her schedule.  In the meantime, I carry on as usual, meaning, going to my appointments, taking my supplements, drinking my ugly-green-algae-looking-but-quite-tasty wheat grass plus orange juice, and making my fertility-enhancing bone marrow soup.  This gets me thinking that many of us infertiles are so willing to try anything that can maybe remotely help us make a baby.  I start to think about what extra things I have done to make sure that I get the best chance of having an offspring.  (The definition of the word extra: anything more than “just relax”, lying in bed, relying on nature to take its course and letting sperm and egg miraculously meet each other to create an embryo that will again miraculously stick to the uterine wall and grow for the next nine months into a live human being.)  Here is the list:

  • Taking basal body temperature (BBT) daily at 5:25am, since August 2011
  • Using ovulation prediction stick/kit (OPK) to predict the surge of LH (I invested in a ton of internet cheapies (IC)) right before ovulation, since August 2011
  • PreSeed, used the proper way with the insert and all, on and off through 2012.  Currently used as lubricant only.
  • Lying in bed for ten minutes after BD, since January 2012, the official TTC month.
  • Missionary position before O, since January 2012.
  • Prenatal Vitamin and folic acid prescribed by my OB/GYN, since August 2011
  • Acupuncture with acupuncturist #1, once a week from January to June 2012, along with herbs that she prescribed in powder form.  Didn’t love her and didn’t go back after Bob’s insurance changed.
  • Maya abdominal massage,  mainly to help ease the scar tissue problem after my abdominal myomectomy (surgery to remove uterine fibroids; basically like a C-section but instead of a baby coming out, a bunch of meat-ball like fibroids were the product of said surgery).  Done once a month from February until June 2012.  Loved everything about it, but not the price tag.
  • Self-care massages taught by Maya abdominal massage practitioner.  Done daily after my period and before confirmed ovulation.  Stopped after June 2012 due to laziness.  Recently picked up again.
  • Supplements suggested by Maya massage practitioner: Vitex in tincture, daily; Vitalzym to help get rid of scar tissue, 3 pills 3x daily; Royal jelly, 1 tiny spoonful in the am.  All stopped after six months.
  • Castor oil pack, suggested by Maya massage practitioner, once a day after AF before O.  Soaked oil in cloth, applied to abdominal area, and placed a heating pad over it.  Sat for about 45 minutes.  Supposed to help with reducing inflammation and scar tissue.  Stopped after one year.  Restarted recently because of the cyst.
  • Prometrium 100mg, twice a day, from May 2012 to August 2012.  Progesterone came back at 9.9 7DPO.  OB/GYN prescribed Prometrium to help increase the level.  Was dizzy after taking it orally.  Switched to taking it as a vaginal suppository from 3DPO to 13DPO.  Stopped after feeling defeated for BFNs.  Plus too much trouble to have to lie down for 15 minutes after insertion.  And didn’t like to POAS and see stark white.
  • Traditional Chinese doctor.  Started consulting with Dr. L, a Chinese doctor from China who was raved by a Yelper because of his help with her and her other friends’ successful pregnancies.  He suggested brewing raw Chinese herbs and moxibustion.
  • Daily cup of stinky and dark-colored Chinese herbs.  Had to soak the herbs for 45 minutes, brew it for 30 minutes, and drink the whole thing.  Repeat the next day.
    Sometimes had to brew it again and mix the two batches together and separate them again into two cups.  Don’t ask me why he wanted me to do that.
  • Moxibustion, an alternative to acupuncture, which is to use a moxa to warm certain acupuncture points on the body to achieve balance.  Done CD1 to CD5 in preparation for the upcoming O.  $150 each time.  3 months of that.  Very pricey.  No pregnancy.  Then switched to whole body moxibustion, done at various time in the cycle, about 2 to 3 times each cycle, to help further balance my body because I was “so weak” (according to Dr. L).  Felt like we dumped too much money into it.  Quit in January 2013.
  • Bob also seeing the same Chinese doctor weekly since August 2012.  Me having to make two batches of Chinese herbs daily.  So tired.  Bob stopped in January 2013.  He was feeling defeated as SA came back even worse than before.
  • Bob taking the following supplements: Men’s daily vitamin, Zinc, Vitamin C, L-Carnitine, L-Arginine, CoQ10, since June 2012
  • Making a morning drink with various Chinese herbs suggested by Chinese doctor to warm my body.  From August 2012 to January 2013.
  • Acupuncturist #2: Dr. K.  Love her.  Been seeing her since March 2013.  Weekly session since then.
  • Bob started to see Dr. K’s associate, another acupuncturist, since April 2013.
  • Powdered herbs prescribed by Dr. K, two different kinds: one for follicular phase (right before O) and one for luteal phase (right after O).  2x/day.  From March 2013 til now.
  • Circle and Bloom natural cycle relaxation and guided imagery recording, done nightly since March 2013 til now.
  • Bone marrow soup suggested by Dr. K, made weekly since March 2013.  Need to shop for bone marrow at a local butcher every other week.  This is to help tonify my Kidney yang and Blood.  Whatever that means.  One bowl a day.
  • CoQ 10 600mg suggested by Dr. M, one of the REs that we consulted.  Stopped because new supplement contains CoQ 10.  From March to May 2013.
  • A completely new set of supplements suggested by Dr. E, my current RE: Total Fertility (therefore not taking my usual Rainbow Light prenatal vitamin and CoQ 10 anymore) 2 pills 3xday, DHEA 25 mg 3xday, Resvoxitrol 1xday, Melatonin 3mg/day (it knocked me out so reduced to 2mg/day)  From May 2013 til now.
  • Wheat grass powder by Amazing Grass, mixed with orange juice.  Since March 2013.  One glass a day.
  • Maya adominal massage revisited: original practitioner on leave.  Found a new one that I like.  Little did I know that she was already 3 months pregnant when I first went to her last month.  Have done it twice so far.
  • Eating organic, unprocessed food whenever possible.
  • I keep thinking that I am missing something.

So my current daily routine looks like this: 1 cup of Chinese herbs, wheatgrass with OJ, 2 pills of Total Fertility and 1 pill of DHEA in the morning.  Two pills of Total Fertility and 1 pill of DHEA in the afternoon.  Bone marrow soup when I get home.  Two pills of Total Fertility, 1 pill of DHEA, and one pill of Resvoxitrol after dinner.  Listen to Circle and Bloom before bedtime.  And 2 pills of Melatonin right before bed.

If it’s after AF before O, add castor oil pack at night and self care massage before bedtime.

Wow!  Kudos for reading this far along!  Isn’t it crazy what we do to try to make a baby?

Broken bed leg, clean teeth, and yummy food

Got my positive OPK on Thursday.  It was a sign to DTD one more time before the golden egg went away.  Bob suggested trying a new position just for fun.  I just went with the flow.  In the middle of all the excitement, our king bed made a loud sound underneath the bed frame and we found ourselves moved at least half a foot to the right side with the bed.  Something clearly broke.  We had to stop our act and investigate.  Bob went down on the floor and checked.  One of the supporting legs under the king bed got shifted and was dangerously crooked.  And worst of all, my dearest hubby discovered the scale that I had been hiding for about one week now since he sometimes obsesses about his weight.  He didn’t think that I would hide it in the most obvious place in the house!  So, with a bed leg broken, scale re-discovered, and the bed making some eerily squeaky noises, we couldn’t finish our BD session.  And we set a new rule: no more experimenting new positions right before O!  (We finished the next morning sacrificing our fitness bootcamp time.  It was well worth it. )

Trying to fix the bed, we had to remove the very heavy king mattress and the two smaller box springs underneath.  Even after we tried to screw it back on, the leg was still loose.  We were hopeful that once we put weight back on it, the leg would be more stable.

fixing bed leg

Oh well….. We don’t know why, but after much effort and 30 minutes, we put the box springs and mattress back on, the leg was still crooked!!!

still crooked

We tried to use a Swiffer handle to push it back in place.  Didn’t work.  Hmmm….. All the effort and we still have a crooked leg!  Have to be very careful when we move in bed….

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Did my teeth cleaning yesterday at my dentist.  I have known this guy for about 20 years now.  Good news is, no cavity, my gums are all healthy, and the back molar that I thought I fractured eating lentils a few months ago (yup, chewed on something hard eating lentils!?!?) appears to be alive and well.  I opted not to do the X-ray since I am in my two week wait.  Of course, Mr. Dentist asked, “So, how’s that baby making thing going?” We had a few discussions before about pursuing acupuncture treatments for TTC and the possibility of IVF.  I told him that we were about to begin IVF but the plan got delayed by a cyst.  He nodded with approval and said, yup, it’s a good thing to pursue IVF.  It was a good day for me so I didn’t mind discussing IVF with him.  Some days are better than others.  Going to the dentist serves as some sort of milestones of how long it has been since we started TTC and fail.  Every six months is a reminder of what we still haven’t accomplished.  As I was scheduling an appointment for December 14th this year, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of state I would be in: pregnant for five months already?  pregnant for three?  Failed two IVFs already?  Have been banking some embryos for future transfers?  I know… live one day at a time.  But still, I can imagine and wonder, right?

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After my dental appointment, Bob and I walked around downtown and went to the Apple Store and Windows Store.  We were lusting over a new MacBook Air.  My computer has been a few years old and I don’t carry it around to our usual hangout at a coffee shop because it is so chunky and heavy.  The 13 inch MacBook Air looks yummy and light.  Even if some of the Windows 8 systems look nice and sophisticated, I think I am still going to go with the MacBook Air.  We had a lovely dinner sitting by the window looking out downtown.

My dinner was Dungeness crab and shrimp brioche and French onion soup:

dungeness crab brioche    french onion soup

To finish off a nice dinner, we had my favorite: white chocolate bread pudding with raspberry sauce:

bread pudding

That was quite a nice meal!

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Today is 3 DPO.  I will contact Dr. E next week to discuss about the date for our ultrasound.  Fingers crossed that the cyst is gone!

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I am thankful for:

  • finding humor in the whole TTC and infertility journey, with my very quirky and fun husband, even with a broken bed leg
  • the yummy dinner that we had last night
  • walking away from my dentist’s office without cavities!

Tough decision between conventional IVF and mini/natural IVF

It took me and Bob quite some time to accept the fact that natural pregnancy might not be the easiest thing for us and we should move on with something more aggressive.  We started TTC back in January 2012 and by November 2012 we started talking about attending IVF seminars.  At that time, we only had a very vague idea of what IVF actually was.  So we attended four IVF seminars at four clinics in our area in three months.  We also did two phone consultations and one in-person consultations with three reputable REs in our area.  All the doctors agreed that the chances of natural conception for us are low and IVF is the way to go.  All the doctors wanted to pump me with high dosage of drugs to get the best response out of me.  At that point, I only knew that my FSH was borderline high and my AMH was abysmal.  One of the doctors who runs a famous local clinic and is known to be aggressive wanted to do the following: do one egg retrieval, freeze those eggs, do another egg retrieval, thaw the first batch of eggs, fertilize all the eggs with ICSI, test all the embryos with comprehensive chromosomal screening (CCS), pick out the normal ones, freeze them, and do a delayed frozen embryo transfer in a subsequent month.  This all sounds very good.  Do you know how much this whole thing is going to cost?  Something close to $30,000 or even more because of all the freezing and thawing, extra testing, and all the drugs.  I wanted to shout to the financial adviser lady on the phone: “Are you kidding me? Who can afford this kind of treatment for one cycle??!?”  But I just politely asked my questions, hung up, and felt a little defeated.

Bob switched jobs last June.  His old job’s insurance was wonderful with everything else except for zero coverage for infertility.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that his new job offers a lifetime maximum of $10,000 of fertility insurance as well as  a lifetime maximum fertility drug coverage of $5,000.  This coverage should pay for most of one cycle if we go with an in network provider.  So we prefer to find a doctor who is in network so we can minimize the out-of-pocket cost.

I found Dr. E.  She has a TV presence in my area as she sometimes would appear on a local news program to talk about infertility treatments.  I have seen her talk on TV multiple times in the past.  Not in a million years did I think that I would in the future sit face-to-face with her discussing the best course of treatment for my situation.  After all the other phone and in person consultations with other doctors, I tried to schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. E.  Unfortunately, she would have to take her board exam in the month of April and could not see us until May!  And it was in March when I called.  I really wanted to go see her because of all the wonderful things that I had heard about her.  So we scheduled the appointment and patiently waited for May.

While we were waiting for Dr. E, I discovered an online forum that is dedicated solely for women with high FSH.  From there, I learned that for women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), conventional IVF may not be the best course of action for them because they may not respond well to high dosage of fertility drugs.  With even the highest dosage, some women have only a few follicles.  The terms mini IVF and natural IVF repeatedly came up on this forum.  There are a few clinics around the country that not only accept patients with high FSH but also offer natural and mini IVF that aims at using very low dosage of drugs to stimulate a couple of follicles with the goal of preserving egg quality.  One of the clinics happens to be in my state but a 7-hour-drive away.  It happened to offer its monthly seminar in April.  I wanted to check out what the RE there had to say about treating women with high FSH.  Since we had to wait for Dr. E’s appointment in May, I thought we might as well go check out this clinic.  I was pleasantly surprised that Bob was all game when I made the suggested.  So one fine Friday after work, the two of us went on our mini road trip to the other side of the state.

What we learned was quite fascinating.  Dr. Y believes that high dosage of fertility drugs for DOR ladies would fry the eggs.  Even if the drugs help create multiple follicles, the egg quality may not be good.  His clinic opened in 2010 and appears to have pretty good results for my condition and my age group.  Many of the ladies on the forum travel out of town to this clinic.  They do egg retrievals, try to grow the embryos to blast, and bank them by freezing them.  They will then transfer the embryos back at a later time.  Many women on this forum have gone through the conventional IVF route but often had very poor responses and were forced to cancel their cycle or had crappy embryos that didn’t result in a BFP.  At the time of the seminar, we got a 10-minute in person consultation with Dr. Y.  He learned of my FSH, AMH, and antral follicle count and said, if I were his daughter or his sister, he would urge me to do natural or mini-IVF.  He said that many of his patients treat his place as the last resort.  I could go try conventional IVF first and if it doesn’t work, come back to his practice.  Another thing is, Dr. Y’s practice offers a 3-cycle package for about $10,000.  This is so much more affordable than conventional IVF that would cost more than $10,000 for each cycle.  Everything sounds good but I wonder about logistics of traveling, out of town monitoring, and taking time off work.  Most importantly, I wonder about my response to fertility drugs.  What if I happen to be one of those lucky few who responds favorably to high dosage of drugs and could create many follicles?  Do I learn from the experience of so many women with DOR who had already gone the conventional IVF route and failed?  Or do I try my luck?

Dr. E shared her view with us during our consultation in May.  She thinks that there is no such thing as high dosage of drugs frying the eggs.  She thinks that the more follicles the better.  Given the state of my ovaries (having about six resting follicles), we shouldn’t wait and should begin IVF as soon as possible.  She will put me on 300IU of Menopur plus human growth hormone.  Dr. E is in network, I have been very impressed with how available she and her clinic staff are to questions, and she appears to know her stuff.  We finally decided to go with her for our first round of conventional IVF.  My plan B is to see how my old ovaries are going to respond to the drugs, and go from there.

We have made our choice.  If you were me, which way would you have chosen?  Local RE with high dosage of fertility drugs and conventional IVF, or out of town clinic with low/no fertility drugs and mini/natural IVF?