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!

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Bonus Eggs!

Egg retrieval today.  Since we only did one less than a month ago, things were very familiar, except that I was asked to do a “quick ultrasound” when the nurse called to give me trigger instructions.

On cycle day 12, which was on Friday, we went back for a monitoring appointment.  The follicles were measured as follows: 18mm, 12mm, 10mm, and the small one that wasn’t even measured.  We went ahead with signing all the consents as if we were going to proceed with the trigger that night and retrieval this morning.  The nurses still had to confirm with Dr. No Nonsense if he indeed wanted to trigger that night.  I emailed Dr. No Nonsense’s personal nurse ahead of time about the Val.ium but hadn’t heard back from her.  So I asked this nurse who signed consent forms with us if I could have her call it in for me.  She was very good.  When I checked on the pharmacy website later that day, it was already available.  But see, you really have to remember things and ask for things yourself.

When another nurse called at 4:30, she instructed me to arrive at 7:30am on Sunday for 8:15am retrieval.  Trigger was to be at 10:15 pm.. which was a bit odd.  So instead of a 36 hour trigger, it was a 34 hour trigger.  I wonder why but I would just do it.  The doctor also wanted me to do a quick scan before we head over to the procedure floor.  A quick scan? I had never done a scan right before any retrievals.  Of course I asked for an explanation.   Apparently they wanted to make sure I hadn’t ovulated already.  What?  What about Ganirelix?  I asked about that.  She had to call me back after confirming with my nurses that indeed I would be doing Ganirelix.  I felt a little bit better.  I would NOT want to ovulate before the retrieval.  Ever since I was told about the extra scan, I had been checking my cervix to make sure that it was still high and soft.  Man… It was a bit stressful to know that the professionals thought that there might be a possibility of premature ovulation…  One has to trust….

That night, we pre-celebrated with a Japanese dinner.  We hadn’t had Japanese in a while.  Our engagement anniversary is a great excuse to eat some sushi.

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When I got ready the night before, I picked out these owl socks that Bob bought me for Christmas:

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Owl is my second favorite animal.  I love these socks and was happy that I could wear them.  Since I am not wearing super hero socks or outfit, I enlisted the help from my secret FB group friends.  One of them even had her whole family wear super hero outfits to church.  I am so so touched!  Bob wants to buy a super hero t-shirt for the next round to join in the fun.

I have been quite at peace with this cycle.  My thought process is… we’ll get what we can get.  Bob was very good this morning and got me there 15 minutes before the scheduled time.  I had been fasting so I only took a little sip of water before taking the Val.ium.  When we arrived, the receptionist initially couldn’t find my name.  And when she found it, she didn’t have it down that they wanted to do a quick scan before we went up to the procedure room.  We did a scan anyways.  It was a real RE who did it.  In fact the RE who would later perform my retrieval.  Dr. Dry Humor came in and I asked him why we needed to do a scan.  He said that with my kind of protocol there would be a possibility that I had already ovulated prematurely.  They would do a scan just for precaution.  Although he said that he didn’t understand why I needed one since I wouldn’t be doing anesthesia so they could see my ovaries in the procedure room before they poked me with a needle.  I was thinking, well, it’d be better to discover earlier on when I was fully clothed than after I was all prepped for the procedure.  We were all relieved that there were still follicles on both left and right ovaries.

I like doing egg retrievals on the weekend.  The clinic appeared so peaceful.  It was the same nurses who helped me.  I changed into my gown and sat at my designated seat.  The difference today from a month ago was it was cold in the room.  BRRRRRRRR.  I needed not one but two warm blankets.  The Val.ium started to take an effect quite quickly and I felt heavy all over.  I sat there waiting and watching people go in and out of the procedure room.

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Today’s procedure was actually on time.  The operating room was very cold.  They put two blankets on me and I was still cold.  Dr. Dry Humor was not as mellow as Dr. Turkey but was still very gentle with everything.  My thighs were high up and quite exposed.  Because my behind was so cold, my legs were shaking a bit.  I was definitely not nervous.  I was just cold.  I tried my best to hold still for the doctor.  He did not have to release any urine like last time.  He cleaned my cervix quickly and proceeded to start with the right ovary with the needle to get the big follicle.  One of the nurses came by and held my hand throughout the whole procedure.  Dr. Dry Humor got that big one quickly and passed the needle through the plexiglass to the embryologist on the other side.  After a couple of moments, they declared that there was an egg.  Very relieved.  The needle only felt like it poked me instead of a sharp pain.  Totally tolerable.  Then Dr. Dry Humor attempted the left side.  I felt the needle going in and he maneuvered it a little.  We got two follicles there.  After a few moments, it was announced that we got two eggs there!

We had a total of three eggs?!?!!  I was expecting one.  And we got some bonus ones!!  I was very pleased and surprised!

Apparently my right ovary has some very prominent veins.  Dr. Dry Humor said it was almost impossible to avoid nicking them.  He had to go in and stop the bleeding, which took longer than the retrieval itself.  HA.  After a few minutes, the bleeding decreased to 20% and then 10%.  When I got up from the table, I could see my blood all over the pad that was under my gown.  Gross…

Throughout the process, I was joking with them about a bunch of things.  Bob did semi-complain that the “educational material” while giving his semen sample was a bit outdated and boring.  Dr. Dry Humor said… Dr. No Nonsense is actually responsible for the material.  😀  He urged me to bring that issue to Dr. No Nonsense and see if he would go improve the quality.  I was like…Noooooooo.

The nurse already prepared a heating pad on my seat when I sat down.  It felt soooo good.  She then placed another heating pad on my tummy.  They really took very good care of me.  I was given hot water and was just told to lie there and rest.  I asked to bring Bob back.  When he walked in, I asked him to guess how many we got.  He said.. I don’t know.. two???  I said nope, Three!!!  He was very pleased.  And guess what he said?  He was very happy that we paid $2000 per egg instead of $6000 for one egg.  I gotta laugh at his mentality.  It’s as if we got a bargain or a deal… which we did!

I rested for a little bit and felt a lot better.  I got up to change and the back of my gown was full of blood.  I think the bleeding has stopped now.  Bob and I went to a mexican breakfast place and I got my comfort food there, beef soup with rice and tortilla and some plantain:

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It definitely hit the right spot.

I am very surprised and pleased with three eggs.  Praise the Lord for this miracle!  I am well aware of the possibility that some of them may not fertilize.  We may end up with one embryo.  We may have two.  OR we may have three!  We’ll find out if they fertilize tomorrow.  Every egg gives us more chances for our take home baby.  I hope to bring Ivan, Jenny, and Kevin into the family.

Three eggs!  Way more than what we had anticipated!  God is so good!

One Follicle Wonder?

This is the latest: we are moving forward with the cycle.

Bob and I had a few discussions about the next steps.  I had been a little confused about what to do following our RE’s question to us: To proceed or to cancel.  Frankly I never thought that we would cancel because of having just one follicle.  I knew that there was a high possibility of having only one follicle and I was okay with that.  Bob actually wanted to be a little conservative and was leaning towards waiting because we can always wait for next month.  To me, to move forward is trusting the Lord.  To him, waiting with patience is also trusting the Lord.  After that talk, we continued praying for wisdom.  We decided to ask my RE and follow his recommendation.  We would proceed if he recommends proceeding.  We would cancel if he thinks that waiting for the next cycle is better.  We agreed to leave the decision to the doctor.

Dr. No Nonsense called me after my CD 10 scan, which yielded the following results: 14mm on the right and 9mm, 7mm, and 6mm on the left.  I really appreciate him calling me personally both days because it is a lot easier to talk to the doctor himself than to wait for the answer through a nurse.  I was frank with him.  I told him that I would’ve never thought of canceling the cycle had he not asked me that question.  After that question I was confused about the decision.  His idea is that the previous cycle that yielded four mature eggs was exceptional, that we should not expect each cycle to go as well.  As he has always said, each cycle with minimal stimulation, we expect zero embryo, one embryo, or two embryos.  Having one egg is well within our expectation.  I told him that Bob and I decided to do what he tells us to do.  The doctor and I discussed what our goal is.  If we still want to try with my own eggs and grab every chance that we have, then he would recommend proceeding with the cycle.  I was to use 150IU of Meno.pur and use one Ganirelix that night to see if we could boost the 9mm.  I was relieved when Bob reacted to my news with enthusiasm.  He said that God answered our prayers and allowed us to make a decision through the doctor.  We both feel at peace with the decision.

My Mayan abdominal massage session and the two Meno.pur vials didn’t really help with the growth for the smaller follicles.  Today’s CD 11 scan showed that the big one has grown to 17mm.  It must have really loved the drugs as its size jumped 3mm.  The smaller ones are still small: 10mm, 8mm, and 6mm.  Looks like we’re really going to work with one follicle.  The nurse’s phone call at the end of the day only instructed me to return tomorrow for another scan.  Nothing was mentioned about more Meno.pur and Ganirelix.  I was confused and demanded an explanation.

I am really thankful for this clinic.  Although I see many different people and talk to many different people each cycle, I feel that they all know what they are doing and what they are talking about.  Even when I couldn’t talk to the doctor (he himself told me yesterday that he would be on a plane and wouldn’t be able to call me), the nurses still gave me a satisfactory answer.  Basically Dr. No Nonsense does not feel that the extra Meno.pur will help with the growth so there is no need to add more tonight.  It doesn’t seem like I’d ovulate on my own any time soon so there is no need for the Ganirelix.  This is the least amount of injections I have done since the first IVF cycle.

We are returning for yet another scan tomorrow.  If the 17mm grows to 18 or 19mm, I am sure that I will be instructed to trigger tomorrow night and retrieval should be on Sunday.  At least it’s not on Saturday this time like how I’ve been praying.

I was feeling a little emotionally fragile today.  There is a blogger who had her retrieval on the same day as our first egg retrieval in July of 2013.  She got pregnant and we didn’t.  Her news does not always act as a trigger for me and I’ve enjoyed reading her blog posts.  However, today learning that her daughter is already six months old made it a little bit harder to not feel a little sorry for myself.  Luckily I remember what my therapist taught me about negative emotions: Name it, own it, and move on.  I let myself feel the way I was feeling.  Then I decided to focus my energy on something else.  The negative emotions went away after a while.

This journey is so hard sometimes.  I really have to learn to trust the process, trust the doctor, and trust the Lord for His plans.  Not easy but I am trying.  I’d imagine that next time I write it’ll be after the retrieval.  Hoping for one very good egg.  And we’ll celebrate ahead of time by having sushi tomorrow to also celebrate getting engaged on 10/10/10 four years ago.

May Just Be One

Today is cycle day 8, which means we had our first scan after five days of Cl.omid.  The results: 12mm on the right, 7mm, 7mm, 7mm on the left.  Lining was 6mm.

Compared to last cycle, the progression looked similar as we had a 14mm, 11mm, 9mm, and 9mm.  So I thought we were all good to go with four measurable follicles that we could work with.  I was a bit nervous going in and I was glad that there were four, although the left ones are a bit small.

Dr. No Nonsense called me personally.  His prognosis for this cycle is not as optimistic as I had hoped.  First thing he said was that we had only one follicle.  I questioned that and asked about the three on the left.  His idea is that this cycle is different from the last one.  The three on the left are quite small.  They may or may not catch up. And it does not help right now to give them a boost because they are too small to work with.

He asked, “Are you going to proceed with the cycle or do you want to cancel?”

I honestly can’t answer that question.

The current plan is to wait for the next scan which will happen in two days.  We will take a look at the follicles and see if the smaller ones decide to pick up the pace.  I know that Dr. No Nonsense knows a lot more about these cycles than I do.  So if he thinks that those three little ones are too small to catch up, he’s probably right.  But I have to think that God knows everything that the doctor doesn’t know.  If it’s in God’s will for these little ones to catch up, then they will catch up.

Nevertheless, I was feeling quite disappointed when I got the news.  I thought that we were good to go just like last time.

I remember what my therapist told me.  To get over negative emotions, change what I do.  I got up, walked outside to the warm sun, and got an iced coffee from Sta.rbucks.  On my way there, I prayed for peace and wisdom for the next step.  And I prayed for God to allow those three follicles to grow if that’s His will.

I feel so much better now.  I am still slightly disappointed, which I think is normal.

I am sure if we only had one follicle and one embryo last cycle, I would’ve proceeded with it without being disappointed.  All along our goal has been to have one good egg and one good embryo.  This perspective changed after a very successful cycle last time.  Once you have tasted success, it’s hard to settle for mediocrity.  However, is one follicle really mediocre?  I have to ask myself that question.  What is my goal here?  Do I aim at one good egg and one good embryo or as many eggs/embryos as possible?  If I believe that God has already planned a perfect number of eggs and a perfect number of embryos for us, I have to act on that confidence and faith rather than wavering.

I will discuss with Bob tonight about the next steps and figure out what we’re comfortable with.  I am so happy with Bob as my life partner.  He’s not disappointed.  He’s my rock when I need comfort the most.  He reacted in such an encouraging way that I am so grateful having him by my side with these decision making moments.

May the will of the Lord be done.

A New Cycle, And Conversations

Phew!  No need to name any cysts this cycle.  There was none!

Antral follicle count: three on the left, one or two on the right.  We got the clear to start Cl.omid tonight!  I am quite pleased with the AFC since it gives us a chance to have a few follicles again.  I know how great our last cycle was.  Of course I would love to replicate it.  However, I know that these things are not a guarantee.  I have been praying for a perfect number of follicles, a perfect number of eggs, and a perfect number of embryos.  I am going to wait patiently for these numbers.  Next ultrasound to check on the follicles will be Monday, October 6th.  IVF #6, banking cycle #2.  Here we come!

*****

I love my dad.  We have had a very good relationship since I was  a little girl.  He has many qualities that I would love to have myself.  My dad was born in China as the 4th child of a huge family.  He did not have a chance to have a formal education.  He started working at age six tending cattle.   At one point he also begged for money on the street.  He moved to Hong Kong with most of his family from China at age 11 and started working then.  When he was a teenager, he started to attend night classes while working a few jobs a day.  Despite not having a formal education, my father is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met.  He is also caring, patient, has a very open mind, and is a great problem solver.  We don’t have to talk much but every time we talk, I can pour my heart out and tell him anything I want to.  When we first experienced fertility problems, my dad was one of the first people that we told about considering IVF.  He is a trustworthy man who can really keep a secret.  When told not to tell my mom, he really kept everything to himself and never said a word about our treatment.  Although at one time, I got mad at him because he advised me to let nature take its course and not to force things.  I told him that he wouldn’t understand because he and mom never experienced any issues when they conceived my older brother and me in their 20s.  After that, my dad never said anything that would offend me about this process.  He supports us quietly.

Last week I chatted with him about our cycle.  I bragged to him about the savings for doing the egg retrieval without anesthesia.  I went on to tell him about all the mini cycles we intend to do for the next couple of months and how much each costs.  He listened to me quietly.  Then he asked, “How are you guys doing financially?  You must have to cut down on your expenses because of these cycles?”  I told him not to worry about it.  We have saved up money for these cycles.   We are also actively saving up for donor egg cycles.  Ever since Bob found a new job, saving up money is getting easier.

I love what my dad said next.  He said, “While you’re trying to save up for the baby, make sure that you guys set aside some money to enjoy life and each other.”  I was very touched by what he said.  He does not want us to pour every single penny we have into having a baby.  He wants us to live life.

I don’t know if you remember a fight Bob and I had a few months ago.  He wanted to put every single penny into our IVF fund.  He felt that we were not on the same page and was disappointed that I didn’t have the same intensity he had for saving up for IVF.  Even my therapist told me to tell him that it’s okay to spend some money to live life and not to focus everything (money or time) on the cycles.  When my conversation with my dad ended, I went down to the living room and sat next to Bob who was watching TV.  I told him I talked with dad.  And he had some advice for us.   Bob really respects my father.  So he paid full attention.  He listened to what I had to say and he seemed to take my dad’s words seriously.  I am grateful that my dad made such an advice and my husband is receptive to it.  Living life is important too, right?  My dad is wise.

*****

My first serious job out of college was a research assistant at a university clinic.   I became very close friends with a few of the girls there at work.  We’ve been friends for the last 18 years.  They celebrated most of my birthdays in my 20s and early 30s.  They are like sisters to me.  In our mid-30s, the relationships started to drift apart for a little.  We no longer work with each other.  One of them, who was usually the one organizing get togethers, moved to another state.  Another one married her long-term boyfriend who cheated on her during their dating years.  This kind of put a strain on her relationship with us.  Nonetheless, I still consider them very good friends although I don’t see them as much anymore.

Both these friends were very fertile.  Chloe conceived her first the second month trying.  Then she conceived number two the first month she was off the pill.  Leanne, the one with the husband that we don’t really like, also got pregnant within the first couple of months.  When Bob and I first started trying, both of them dismissed my concerns of my fertility difficulty and laughed at me for charting and doing OPKs.  According to them, I shouldn’t be doing all these things.  Just have sex, relax, and it will happen.

Well, guess what?  Fast forward to two years nine months later, a baby has not happened.  They don’t make these insensitive remarks anymore.  Instead, they both feel sorry that I have such difficulty having a baby.  I don’t update them with all the details.  I just tell them all the big things, such as the transfer, the miscarriage, and just in general that we’re pursuing mini-IVF.

Chloe’s done with building her family as she has two kids.  Leanne’s husband is nine years older then she is and has a teenage daughter from his first marriage.  Leanne has always wanted number two but her husband often said no because he felt that he was old.  So I have never been worried about her announcing her pregnancy to me because I knew that she wouldn’t try unless he is on the same page.

This weekend Bob and I went to visit Leanne’s new house.  She moved from a two bedroom condo to a single family home by the coast.  I was surprised when we arrived.  It was practically a mansion.  It has a few huge rooms with a huge master bedroom and front and backyard.  It’s much much bigger than what they had before.  While we were all standing in the master bedroom admiring the vastness of it, Leanne broke the news to me that they are trying for number two.  I was very shocked as I never expected that her husband would’ve said yes to it.  Well apparently he didn’t want to try because of the small size of the previous home.  Now that this house is so much bigger, he feels that there is room for an extra baby.

I don’t yet know how I feel about it.  I never thought that I would even have to decide how to feel about it.  It had been quite safe with both of these friends in terms of pregnancy news as they were done by the time I started trying.

It’s such a mixed bag of emotions.  I love Leanne dearly and don’t want her to have to go through any sort of trouble with number two.  She is after all 38 years old and is five years older than when she had her first.  It could take a little longer for her this time.  However, I don’t want her to have an instant pregnancy either.  At least try for a few months?  I am conflicted.  I still have to process my feelings.

I know that her pregnancy will be none of my business because it’s not about me.  But I do secretly hope that I will get pregnant first so that at least I don’t have to endure another close friend’s pregnancy announcement while I am still waiting for my turn for my first baby.  Does that make sense?

The human mind is so messed up sometimes.

Moving Right Along, Hopefully

I realized I haven’t quite written about my five-minute post embryo cryopreservation phone consult with Dr. No Nonsense last Friday.

So as usual, he was late.  He was supposed to call me at 3pm but didn’t do so until after 3:15.  He of course apologized and I was like, Oh it’s okay, it’s kind of expected.  He was like, Ohhh don’t say that.  HA.

I don’t quite remember all the details.  Basically, he was pleased with the outcome of the last cycle as we did get three day-two embryos to freeze.  Bob was not able to join but wanted me to ask what made the difference this past cycle.  Was it the Cl.omid?  Was it the Estrace?  Doctor believes that Cl.omid does not fry the eggs like the other injectibles may.  And somehow it worked.  He said it was hard to know if it was Cl.omid, Estrace, or the combination of the two.  What I was the most concerned about was whether or not we could cycle again.  And Doctor said YES as long as there is no cysts.  Please please please no cysts.  I just want to be able to cycle over and over again to bank some more embryos.  Doctor likes the protocol and will not change a thing about it.  So Estrace started last Friday.  It has been a week now.

Doctor read over my notes and asked, “So we are going to do two cycles and then start transferring at the third cycle right?”  I told him that ideally not knowing how many embryos I would make each cycle, I was thinking doing three banking cycles and do a fresh cycle for the 4th one with thawing of some frozen embryos and transferring.  But I would also trust his opinion on this.  I asked him his thoughts.  He advised to evaluate one cycle at a time.  He reminded me that for each cycle, we expect zero, one, to two eggs.  I will keep that in mind.  I am still going to remain hopeful that the upcoming cycle will be similar to the one just now.  But it can also go the other direction.  We can be hopeful but we should also be realistic about things.

I received the huge quantity of meds that AC, one of my readers, so generously sent me.  I am so in awe of her kindness.  We are set for at least two cycles with enough Ganirelix to spare.  Thanks AC for your kind gesture and your kind words on the card.  🙂

The only medication that I was missing was the trigger shot.  Last cycle, I had to order from Fre.edom Pharmacy and was disappointed that they misquoted the price.  By the time I placed the order, the actual price was actually $20 more than what they quoted me.  So this cycle I decided to call around, find the cheapest price, and order from that pharmacy.  The one place that offered the cheapest price is on the east coast.  Preg.nyl was quoted to be $69.90 and Nov.arel was $80.  That would be $30 less than Fre.edom.   I also learned that anything under $100 would cost $10 for shipping.  So I asked my RE’s nurse to call in two orders of Preg.nyl for me so it’d only cost me $140 for the two doses with free shipping.

When I called to order, I was notified that the pharmacy ran out of Preg.nyl and would send me Nov.arel.  I was okay with that.  So extra $20 that is.  I made sure that I asked for two doses to be sent to me.  I made sure that it was free shipping over $100.  The lady on the phone said, Oh if you’re not in a rush, someone will call you tomorrow to place the order.  I was so puzzled about that suggestion.  I was on the phone right then and there.  Why didn’t she just process the order then?  So I said, I would prefer to do the order right now.  I noticed that she did not ask me for my email address so I had to request for the shipping information to be sent to me via email.  It was quite a process as I had to be on top of things and ask the right question.  I was told that I would receive the meds on Thursday.  It was Monday when I placed the order.

Fast forward to Tuesday.  I checked online if I was charged for the Nov.arel and found that instead of being charged for $160 for two orders, I was charged $90.  It looked like they had only sent me one dose and charged me the shipping cost.  If it was in the past, I would have been really mad.  But after going through this process for so long, I just thought, Okay I will receive the order and then call to reason with them.  But I can’t help but think that how incompetent it was for someone to mess up a simple order like that.

Well when Thursday rolled around and when I received the package, I felt that the incompetency reached a level of ridiculousness and I just had to laugh about it.  In a bin of many Fed.ex packages, I was looking for my name.  Instead of finding my own name, I found “Isabelle Thick” instead.  It was puzzling to me: Who is Isabelle Thick??? And it occurred to me that it was me.  Of course my last name is not Thick.  It’s a two-syllable name that begins with “T” and “H”.  I don’t know how they could mess it up so much that they dispensed to a person who did not exist.  On the box of the Nov.arel and my prescription, it also said “Isabelle Thick”.  Bob was like, What??? Thick?? Are they calling you fat or calling me fat??? Hahaha gotta love that boy.  He always cracks me up.  And yes, there was only one box of Nov.arel.  There were no needles included.

Well, things can be accomplished with a simple phone call and politeness.  I called the pharmacy and told them the mistakes that they made.  The lady kept on saying… Your name is not Isabelle Thick?  Of course lady.  I know what my name is.  After many many seconds, this guy came on the phone. I explained to him the problems.  He sounded like the person responsible for the pharmacy.  So he credited back the $10 shipping to me and would place the order for another Nov.arel without the shipping cost.  As for the needles, the guy said the doctor’s office did not order them.  Oh well, I have a bunch of needles so that should be fine.  And he promised to correct my name so I am not going to be associated with the word “thick” or “fat” or whatever.

AF should show any moment.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe on Sunday.  Please please please no cysts.  Please please.

I don’t know about you.  I am really ready for this next cycle.