Fear, Panic, and Relief

My luteal phase was a totally of sixteen days.  Honestly it was a bit of a torture.  In a cycle where you know that the chance of a pregnancy is zero, a 16-day luteal phase is inhumanely long.  On the 15th day after retrieval, I felt that my muscles were very tense.  It didn’t matter how I tried to relax, I was tense.  My basal body temperature was below cover line which indicated the imminent arrival of AF.  However, there was no sign of blood.  The early morning of the 16th day after retrieval, I woke up extra early and started having fears.  I started to think: what if my period doesn’t come?  What if my period takes forever to come?  What if because of its late arrival that there isn’t enough time to do a retrieval and transfer in December before the clinic closes on December 21st?  As I lay there, my mind was going crazy, making wild guesses of what might happen if my period delayed coming.  Then I thought of what I have been learning at my bible study.  This year we have been studying the life of Moses and how God miraculously led the Israelites out of Egypt by parting the Red Sea for them.  The Israelites quickly forgot God’s power and deliverance and grumbled and complained about the lack of water and the lack of food.  Am I not like the Israelites?  God has been faithful and been showing us His power and might by giving us the last two cycles that were like miracles to me.  We JUST finished with a cycle that ended up with two good embryos on day two.  How could I forget so quickly that God always provides, always has a plan, and is sovereign?  With that thought, I prayed for my trust in Him.  I got up and went to bootcamp.  Still no signs of blood.  I was talking to Bob in the car about how I should put my trust in the Lord and learn NOT to be like the Israelites.  Once I stepped into the house after the work out, I felt something warm and knew that AF had indeed arrived.  What a shame for not trusting the Lord for being in control of every single detail of my life.

Where did the panic come from?  Well, after I reported cycle day one to my clinic, a letter from the billing department was emailed to me.  It included the fee schedule for this cycle, which was quoted over $1000 higher than what we had been paying.  When I got it, I was immediately panicking.  I was very upset that there was a rate hike.  I  quickly sent Bob a message to let him know and he started panicking and getting upset.  I mean… we can afford the extra $1000.  But everything is tight.  We have been trying so hard to save up money for donor egg cycles so every single dollar counts.  We have already paid out a lot of money to make this baby.  Any extra amount would just stir a huge emotional reaction from us.  I emailed the billing coordinator and asked for an explanation.  Then I read the letter and the itemized fee schedule in more details.  It actually stated that it was for a fresh mini-IVF cycle with ICSI, embryo thaw, and transfer.  But we are NOT doing a transfer this month.  I realized that there was miscommunication between my nurse and the billing coordinator.  Bob was very relieved that we didn’t have to pay that extra $1000.   Indeed when I went in for my baseline appointment today, I paid the original amount that was the same as the previous two cycles.  I was happy that I caught the error.

However, we were happy too soon.  Tonight I got another email from the patient coordinator saying that the fees that I have been paying for the last two cycles and this cycle have been misquoted by the billing coordinator.  She erroneously quoted an amount that was $563 less than what we were supposed to pay.  In other words, we owe the clinic $563 for each cycle, which comes to a total of $1689.  The patient coordinator said that the amount she gave me in August was the right one.  The subsequent amount that I was asked to pay was wrong.  How would I know?  Every time I went in, I just paid whatever amount that I was asked for.  I would have no idea that it wasn’t the right amount.  It’s just wrong that we’re paying for the mistake that they made.  No wonder so many online reviews trash the billing department at this clinic.  Imagine those people who can only save up just enough money for these cycles and all of a sudden are asked to pay up extra because of the mistakes of the clinic.  But out panic shows that we still don’t put our 100% trust in the Lord that He will provide and that ultimately everything will be fine.  Like I said, money matter stirs up a lot of raw emotions.

Anyhow, to end on a happy note, my scan went very well.  This was the first time that Bob couldn’t come to a scan with me ever since we switched clinic.  I am very grateful that he has been able to come, so I was okay with him staying at work.  I like it that it was the nurse practitioner that has been doing all of my monitoring scans.  Very relieved to see NO cysts anywhere on my ovaries.  The antral follicle count has been the same for this cycle as the last two cycles: one on the right and three on the left.  I saw Dr. No Nonsense in the hallway.  I told him about the scan and he gave me a high five.  Never high-fived an RE before.  I started 100mg of Cl.omid tonight.  The 7th IVF cycle begins.  Let’s see if the follicles will do their magic.

MicroblogMondays: Precious Friendship

Microblog_Mondays

A blog friend and I have read plenty of each other’s blog posts but we had never met each other in person.  She happened to be in the Bay Area all the way from Asia this past week.  We sat at a cafe and chatted for almost 2 1/2 hours non-stop.  It felt like we had been friends forever.

This is someone whose fertility journey is eerily similar to mine.  This is someone who has the crappy diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve, with high FSH, low AMH, and low AFC.  This is someone who has done a few IVF cycles and had only one precious transfer, which heartbreakingly also did not result in a take home baby.  This is someone who has researched egg donation with asian/Chinese donor like I have.  This is someone who has consulted with and considered some of the same clinics that I have.  The more I learned about her, the more I felt like I was looking in a mirror.  We had similar thoughts regarding parents, friends who are fertile, friends who are infertile but got pregnant quickly with their first/second IUI or first/second IVF, sharing about our struggles in the work place, repeated IVF failures, etc. etc. etc.

It was a breath of fresh air to be sharing with someone who knows what you’re going through and exactly how you are feeling.  No explanation of terminology was required.  No ART education needed to be had.  We knew what RBA, CCRM, SDFC, PFC all stood for.  We just talked and talked and talked and we knew that we understood each other.  It’s not an everyday occurrence to meet somebody who knows how it feels to have a crappy diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve.  I am sorry that we’re in the same situation, but so glad to have found each other.

This is the lovely thing about blogging.  It can draw complete strangers together because of our common experiences.

What a precious friendship that has been formed between two people who live thousands of miles away but are living parallel lives.  Thank you so much for sharing a lot of laughter and a lovely morning with me, Weylin.  I thoroughly enjoyed our time together as well as meeting your husband.  I really hope to be able to come see you in Singapore one day.  Hopefully by then our babies will meet and have a playdate.

MicroblogMondays: Hopefully A Tiny Glimpse into the Future

Microblog_Mondays

Picked up my friend’s 10-month-old baby from her hair appointment and drove him to my house.  This was the first time in a long time I had a baby in my car.  At least ever since we started trying for a baby.  Although I couldn’t see his face while driving (because he was facing the back), his presence was very prominent.  He began to wiggle and shake the toys that were placed on him before we started the car.  He babbled happily with dadada.  I imitated his dada and he imitated my bababa. Although he couldn’t see me, he heard my voice and knew I was there.  His imitation made this speech language pathologist’s heart sing.  I reached my hand back and touched the top of his head and stroked his hair.  I have to admit that the car was a lot more fun with a baby inside.  At home, I placed him on the kitchen floor while I made rice.  He was more interested in me than in the toys.  When he couldn’t see me, he yelled out loud and smiled big time when he saw my face.  When I sat close to him, he abandoned all the toys and leaned forward to hold onto me.  I really couldn’t do anything else until Bob rushed home.  Yes.  He rushed home.  This is one of his favorite babies.  He left work early and ran home.  I joked that he only rushes home when there is football or baby.  That night he got both.  Here are two pictures of him.  One shows how hilarious he looked doing downward facing dog:

photo 2 (2) photo 1 (2)

The energy was very different when there was a baby around the house.  The liveliness was so palpable.  The focus was always on that little person.  It was like a glimpse into the future when we have our little one at home.

The house felt eerily empty when the little guy was gone.  The next day, on my way to work, the emptiness was almost unbearable in the car.  I so wish that I could reach back and touch my baby’s hair.  I so wish that I could converse with him/her with babbling sounds.  I so wish that I could do that every single day.  Those fifteen minutes of his presence in my car surprisingly made a huge impact on me the few days after babysitting.  That brief occurrence had such a long lasting effect that was so unexpected.  The yearning is so hard to shake.

One day… one day I hope I have the privilege to take care of our own little one…

Two Months Before Pregnancy?

My nurse never sent me an email to schedule a post-embryo cryopreservation consult with my RE, like she did last time.  So I emailed her and asked for one.  She responded saying that one was not necessary because we’d do another cycle with the same protocol and Dr. No Nonsense would be gone most of the rest of October and most of November.  If I wanted to chat with him I’d have to wait until November or even December.

What???  So I wrote her back asking her to ask Dr. No Nonsense a few questions about my next cycle: same protocol? Estrogen priming? Cycle again without a break? And most importantly, I would still like to schedule a phone consultation with him to discuss the plans for transfer.

She responded a couple of hours later answering all of my questions.  Yes I can cycle again next month with the same protocol including estrogen priming.  To my pleasant surprise, she said that my RE would call me that evening between 5 and 7pm.

I was very happy to be able to talk with him.  That was the day when we found out that we now have frozen two 4-celled grade 1 embryos from this cycle.  It would be great to discuss with him about how great and unexpected this cycle had turned.  I was also grateful that I didn’t have to wait for a month before being able to just talk to him on the phone for five minutes.

I deliberately chose a route where I could quickly stop the car and talk to Dr. No Nonsense.  He called at 6pm from what I assume is his cell phone.  Now I have his cell phone number but I don’t dare calling.  Anyways, the first ring of the phone didn’t connect us.  I stopped the car right at the tail end of Ocean Beach and waited for him to call again.  Luckily we got connected the second time.

I was so touched by Dr. No Nonsense’s excitement about the outcome of the cycle.  He sounded so pleased with our two 4-celled grade 1 embryos.  We talked a little bit about it.  Then we went onto the very important questions: When to transfer and how many embryos to transfer.

He asked me the number of embryos we wanted to transfer.  I bounced the ball back to his court and asked him for his recommendation.  His answer shocked me.  He said, “Let’s put them all back in!”  I was like, “What? All five of them?!?!”

He asked me how old I was.  I told him again.  Then he said, “We’ll transfer four in December.  If we get one embryo for that fresh cycle, then we’ll thaw three embryos and put back four.  If we get two embryos, then we’ll thaw two and transfer four.  If we don’t get any embryos, then we won’t transfer.”

I was still a bit shocked at the number four.  I know that my embryos are day two embryos… but four sounds like a lot.

He said that for my age, they usually recommend transferring three to four.  At my age, the chances of the embryos being abnormal are quite high.  So he would like to increase my chances and help me get pregnancy as quickly as possible.  So we’ll thaw the best looking embryos in December.

Wow… we have a plan.  Next month, barring any cysts, we’ll start Cl.omid again.  We’ll continue freezing any embryos that we may have.  Then in December, we’ll stim to get any eggs to make embryos and transfer them with some thawed ones.

Dr. No Nonsense actually said that I could try to cycle even with a cyst.  The cyst may or may not grow with Cl.omid.

I am a little concerned about Cl.omid thinning my lining.  He asked me what the lining was at the last scan.  I said 8mm.  He thought that was perfect.  Don’t we want something higher than 9?  So he asked, “Do you want to make embryos?”  I said, Of course.  Then he said, We’ll use Cl.omid again.

I still have to digest transferring four embryos.  They are day two embryos so I understand why it may be a good idea.  My dear friend who lost two of her triplets asked me this very frank question:

“I am debating whether to even ask so I apologize if it comes across too personal, but have you given thought to selective reduction and how you would handle that?  I don’t even need an answer, but it is something you should at least give some thought to it have a general idea of where you think you would stand.”

I think that this is a very fair question.  There is a slim possibility that I could be pregnant with multiples.  But I also know that we’d be lucky if any of our embryos is chromosomally normal.  I know where I stand with selective reduction.  My goal is to strive for a healthy singleton pregnancy.  But if God has another plan, that’d be His choice.

So friends, here is THE plan.  I was notified by my nurse that the lab will be closed on December 21 and will not reopen until mid to end of January 2015.  I would really LOVE to do a transfer in December before the lab closes.

Let’s pray that cysts will not be found so we can cycle in November.  I am really ready to get pregnant in two months.  I am sure Bob feels the same way.  Only God will be able to have the power to make that happen.  We continue to choose to trust.  And we’ll continue to pray for the number four in terms of the number of embryos to transfer.  Bob and I would like to have complete peace with it before proceeding with the transfer.

Remembering Our Due Date

I never intended to look up my potential due date for our one and only pregnancy.  However, my friend did for us.  I forgot when exactly, but knew that it’d be in October some time.  Isn’t it October now?  The other day, Bob asked, “Wouldn’t our baby be due soon if the pregnancy had progressed?”  As I stared at the TV screen, my eyes felt a little warm and tears were brewing.  They didn’t come down though.  I can’t believe it’s time for our due date already.  Has it been so many months already?  I went back to the online chat conversation I had with my friend and found out the exact date.  The due date would have been October 29th.  Although it’s a little sad and my heart hurts a little, it’s also strangely comforting to know exactly what the due date would have been.  Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  It’s so fitting to honor this brief yet important pregnancy today.

Another dear friend of mine sent me a picture that says:

I remember the day, 

I remember your loss,

I remember your sadness,

I remember your baby.

Thinking of you.

I thanked her and mentioned that my due date would have been October 29th.

She wrote: “I know.  It’s in my calendar.”

I am so grateful for a friend who cares so much that she wrote it down and remembered.  It’s important to me that this pregnancy is not forgotten.

I will not forget.

Ivan and Jenny!!!

I am busy at work but I HAVE to update you guys.

Got our day two phone call at about 2:10pm.  Both of the embryos are now 4-celled grade 1.  They are both frozen!!!

Do you know how huge this is for us?  In my first four cycles, all of the embryos that made it to day two were all 2-celled grade 1.  I NEVER had any 4-celled embryos on day two.

At this new clinic, we managed to now have banked three 4-celled grade 1 out of five frozen embryos on day two!!!

Praise the Lord! This is truly a miracle, especially in a cycle where we thought we would only have one follicle and one mature egg.  The second egg that was from a 12mm follicle on trigger day managed to become mature and turned into a 4-celled grade 1 embryo!

So happy that we decided to move forward and didn’t cancel this cycle!

I am grinning from ear to ear.

Welcome to the family, Ivan and Jenny!

A Good Day

Today was a good day.

I took today off since I have a lot of personal time and vacation days.  I had lunch with my sister-in-law and my nephew and got one of my favorite sandwiches: beef briskets with slaw and russian dressing on toasted onion roll.  It felt so nice and relaxing with the warm sun on our backs while eating.  We walked around a bit.  I bought a pair of rainbow socks to add to my sock collection so I can have something fun to wear for my next retrieval.

I didn’t expect the fertilization report phone call to come earlier than 3pm.  I was surprised that the nurse actually called at 1:30pm.  Out of three eggs, two were mature, and both of them fertilized!  Cue sigh of relief!  I was anticipating one fertilized egg so I am thrilled to have two!  When I got the phone call, I was about to start the car and go to my massage appointment.  So I hung up, called Bob, and updated a bunch of my friends.

When I arrived at the spa, I parked on the street as usual.  I was about to put coins in the meter and saw that it was free parking for a federal holiday since the spa was on federal grounds.  Sweet!  No need to rush my appointment.

You know what’s even sweeter?  This was a complimentary massage.  About two months ago, I had a less than stellar massage from this one particular massage therapist that I hadn’t used before.  It was so NOT relaxing and at a few moments she was actually hurting me.  My mother gave me money to get a nice massage and I was a bit upset that her money was wasted.  This spa often sends out a survey for its services.  I was very honest and provided constructive feedback to them about my visit.  A week later, the spa manager emailed me to apologize for my disappointment, thanked me for my honesty, and offered to give me a complimentary deep tissue massage.

Today was the day!  I booked the lady with whom I had a very good prior experience.  She worked on all the problem areas and I didn’t have to tell her once to adjust the pressure.  It was very relaxing and healing.  All I had to pay was gratuity.  😀

photo (36)

Needless to say, I have had a wonderful Monday and am taking my infertile-no-longer-pregnant friend’s advice to relax.  😉  We’ll see if the embryos decide to become Ivan and Jenny.