Stark White

Not my favorite color.

It doesn’t really matter how we have hoped for the best and expected the worst.  When the worst comes, the result still stings.  

I sort of miscalculated when 13 days past IUI was.  I thought that it was going to be tomorrow, Friday.  Then I realized that it was going to be today, Thursday.  I was going to do a home pregnant test on Thursday. The result would dictate the direction of a blood pregnancy test on Friday.  Well, 13 DPIUI is today.  I was supposed to test yesterday.  I chickened out.  I would rather not know.  So this morning I woke up and got a high temperature.  I wanted to be around my hubby when I test so I did it this morning.  I pulled out an internet cheapie, dipped it in the urine, and waited for the one pink line to show up.  One pink line remained for the whole duration I was staring at the pee stick.  My heart did not even skip a beat.  It was just like the handful of times I have tested in the last two years.  One.  Pink.  Line.  I cleaned up, left the pee stick on the sink, and walked downstairs.  Bob looked up from making breakfast.  I just said, “Nothing.”  He came and gave me a big hug.  I wasn’t feeling sad.  It was as if nothing was out of the ordinary.  I carried on like usual, thinking to myself that I was doing quite well with my emotions.  I wrote to Dr. E asking if I should stop the progesterone and aspirin, and to confirm that I indeed wouldn’t need to do a blood test.

I left to go to work.  I usually pray for the length of time that I drive in to work.  I usually pray for other people as well as for me and Bob.  Today the prayer was for me and many questions in my head.  When are we going to get our baby?  How do we keep the faith and hope that it will one day happen to us?  What do we do to depend on You, Lord, for our strength?  How do I get through the day knowing that we have failed another cycle?  Questions questions questions.  I am also asking God about my friend who I shared about previously who was pregnant with twins.  At another ultrasound it was discovered that she had three heartbeats.  A couple of days ago, she lost two of the babies.  (If you know me in real life and know who I am talking about, please respect this friend and not to tell anyone about it or ask me or her any questions about it.  Thank you.)  One embryo was totally reabsorbed and could not be found on the ultrasound.  The other embryo measured at 9 week 4 days.  She went from two, to three, to now one.  I have been so so sad about this news and for her.  I do not understand why she has to be given two heartbeats, then three heartbeats, then down to one again.  I am full of questions today.  I doubt that I will get any clear answers.  

I wasn’t sad when I saw the one pink line.  I started to get sad when I cried out to the Lord in the car.  I teared up on my way to work and continued to talk to Him.  Although I was sad, I was still at peace and calm.  Isn’t that a weird combination?  I was sad for me and Bob. I was also sad for my friend who now tries so hard to fathom what has happened and how in the world she is going to hold onto that one baby inside her after losing two.  There are just so many unknowns.  

A little tear was good for my soul.  Allowing myself to be a little sad helps me recover from the disappointment of this cycle.  I am doing well again.  So here we are friends.  Stark white strikes again.  And what can we do?  We just press on and hope that the stark white will turn into a beautiful pink one day.  

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Almost Two Years Later… and 9 DPIUI

Here we are more than half way through our two week wait.  I have to say that I’m doing great emotionally.

My temperature has been up, which is not unexpected since we’re just 9 days past IUI.  Plus I have been supplementing with one Endometrin capsule per day so I would expect that to have some effect on my basal body temperature.  I’m not even sure why I am taking my BBT.  What is the point if progesterone supplement will keep it high?  I don’t really know.  I just find myself sticking the thermometer in my mouth at 5:30am daily.

Emotionally, I have been feeling quite normal.  I am not anxious about the outcome since 1) we don’t have control over what is going on and 2) I don’t really expect the IUI to work.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am still not-so-secretly hoping that this is our lucky cycle.  At the same time, the odds are definitely not on our side, despite my husband’s surprisingly abundant swimmers.  We really need my egg to be good.  If my eggs have not been good in the last two years including our IVF cycles, why would I expect anything differently for this cycle?  But there IS still hope because in God nothing is impossible.

Speaking of the timeline, it has almost been two years since we started trying to conceive.  I still remember our wedding night in April 2011 how we naively used protection thinking that we would wait until at least April 2012 to start trying.  Little did we know that a major surgery was on the horizon which pushed TTC to start early in January 2012.  Fast forward to the current time.  As we’re approaching January 2014, I am amazed at how my mentality and the condition of my heart have changed.  A year and a half ago, I got the news from my OB/GYN that my FSH and AMH pointed to diminished ovarian reserve and how IVF would be the right thing to do.  I came home crying to Bob and thinking to myself that I would prove him wrong.  We started to embark on the journey of alternative medicine and Chinese herbs.  About a year ago, we finally admitted that natural conception would most likely not be our means of getting pregnant.  We anxiously began to research on various IVF clinics in the area and began to attend IVF seminars.  At that time, I was grieving the loss of getting pregnant naturally, battling the jealousy and bitterness that I felt, and trying very hard to understand every single aspect of my diagnosis and the best course of treatment for us.  I did not have peace.  I was anxious and lost.  Diminished ovarian reserve is a killer diagnosis.  It sounds so so grim and so hopeless even with advance treatment such as IVF with ICSI.  I was so afraid of being one of those poor responders that I read about online.  I read so many blogs and forum posts and find so few success stories.  I felt so sorry for myself that my abysmal antral follicle count would mean not having any embryos to freeze in the end.  I was also jealous of people who have many follicles and many embryos, despite the fact that they also suffer from this beast of infertility.

Despite our fear and continued grief, we moved full force with IVF #1, which resulted in a roller coaster ride and a frozen embryo.  Second IVF with four eggs but nothing to transfer.  Third IVF that resulted in only one follicle which leads us to our current situation: post IUI and waiting for the verdict in a few days.  I think normally one would be discouraged by the seemingly frequent failures on our part to even make an embryo to transfer, let alone getting pregnant with the embryos.  I was blissfully ignorant during our first cycle about the chances of having fertilized eggs.  I thought that we would have at least two if not three embryos to transfer on day three.  I was a nervous wreck during our second IVF hoping to have one more embryo than the previous time.  Unfortunately our embryos didn’t grow beyond day three.  Ever since then I have been praying for total submission and trust that the Lord has a plan and a purpose for us and for all that we have experienced.  I have been praying for peace of God that transcends all understanding and for God to guard my heart and my minds in Christ Jesus (from Philippians 4:7).

I can tell that the peace that I have experienced in the last month has been amazing.  I not only feel peace about our situation regardless of the outcome, this peace also spills over to other areas of my life.  I have been celebrating friends’ pregnancies and feel truly happy for them.  An online friend of mine who had been trying for over two years did her second IVF, transferred three blastocysts, and just confirmed that she has two beans inside her.  I normally would feel sorry for myself that someone who is my age could get so many blastocysts out of one cycle while I struggled to hold onto one embryo.  Somehow, I am very very happy for her and do not have an ounce of jealousy in my heart.  I have been praying daily for another lady in my Bible study group who is my age and about 20 weeks pregnant.  I also do not have any jealous or bitterness towards her.  I can even tolerate online chats with my infertile pregnant friend without getting too annoyed or offended.  I realized that when I am weak and can’t achieve something such as peace and calm on my own, God is THE source of strength and comfort.  He has been showing me His power and might in transforming my heart.  Really, I cannot do it on my own and I am glad that God chooses to answer my prayers so quickly.

I somehow know that we are going to try for a baby for a long time.  Twenty-four months (and more than 24 cycles) is a very long time to try to get pregnant.  As we approach our second anniversary of TTC, I hope and pray that I will continue to keep this peace as I believe that God definitely has a good plan for us.  I also pray that my husband will experience this peace as well.  Poor guy.  He has not been in a good place emotionally in regards to others’ birth news, pregnancy news, and even IVF news (number of embryos, follicles, etc).  Whenever I tell him about so-and-so’s journey or show him newborn baby pictures, he has an adverse reaction to it.  I do not judge him as I used to have the same response.  I just hope that God’s peace will also come to him so we can both go through this journey together in peace that comes from the One high above.

I am not saying that I will not ever feel sad or jealous again.  I may even cry my eyes out this coming week if we find out that our IUI is a bust.  A normal dose of negative emotions is healthy.  But I so welcome this change in my heart knowing that God is compassionate about our sufferings and will give us the strength to persevere.

Oh and for this IUI?  I am still undecided about testing.  I most likely will test Thursday night to determine if we should get a blood test done on Friday.  I’ve got to find out when/if to stop the progesterone, right?

250 Million Angry Birds

Compared to IVF, IUI to me was the most anti-climatic thing ever.  

We got up bright and early on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving that we were supposed to sleep in.  We drove 50 minutes and arrived at my RE’s clinic.  I have been used to going over to the IVF Center for both egg retrievals so it was a brand new thing for us to do a procedure at my RE’s clinic.  Bob was asked to go inside to give his sample.  I said a little prayer that everything would go well in there.  He came out with a weird look on his face and his right hand holding his left armpit.  I guess he was told to hold onto the sample and he didn’t want it to get cold.  So he tucked it in his shirt under his left arm.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  He was to hold that container for another 20 minutes until Dr. E’s assistant was ready to take over.  So he sat there holding onto his own armpit while these women walked in and out of the clinic.  I offered to hold it for him but got rejected.  Fortunately football was on TV so he was distracted from the awkward position of hiding something under his armpit.  He said that the collection part of fine.  It was just that he entered into this little room with a sink but no helpful “education material” to help with his collection.  There was a TV and DVD player but again no “educational DVD” to come to his aide.  Oh well, kudos to him for managing to finish strong.  

I was basically useless from 8:30 until 9:30, the time that we were called to go into the room.  I sat there and watched all these couples come in and out of the clinic.  I could basically tell who was there for IUI and who was there for a monitoring ultrasound.  Finally at 9:30, we were asked to go into one of the exam rooms.  I did the usual shedding of my clothes from my waist down.  We joked a little until Dr. E entered with a syringe, A.K.A. turkey baster.  So there was no signing of paperwork, no anesthesiologist chatting with you about the risks and what not of the procedure, no changing into a gown and a surgical hat.  I just lay down, spread my legs, and let Dr. E insert the speculum.  She then asked Bob if he wanted to do the honor and push the syringe in.  I think she probably caught him off guard.  He almost had to ask for a repeat of the question.  Then he said, no thank you.  So she did it herself and the sperms went in.  Then we were done.  Nothing exciting or special about the process.  I don’t know why I was expecting something more magical or spectacular than what had happened.  But that was it.  Just pushing the sperms inside me.  That’s all.

Right before Dr. E did the procedure, she nonchalantly mentioned that his sperm count was 250 million and the quality was good as well.  I had no reference as to what is good for IUI so we just said okay that sounds good.  After the procedure, I updated my Face.book friends about the procedure and was confused on the count, if she meant 250 million pre-wash or post-wash.  One of my friends said she would guess it was pre-wash because 250 million seemed high.  To confirm, I wrote Dr. E an email and she responded with:

250 post
Pre slightly higher
Motility 85%

According to all of my friends, 250 million post wash is very high.  So I guess we have very strong swimmers, 250 million of them trying to get to my egg once it’s released.  My husband has been feeling great all day long about his swimmers.  He has been imagining 250 million Angry Birds jumping up and down, waiting for the egg to come.  I will let him gloat for another day or two.  I am surprised by the number.  We always thought that we had a slight male factor as well.  I guess he performed well on the day that matters the most.  His semen analysis has shown better and better results each time.  His morphology has increased from the usual 5%, to 8% during the first IVF, to 13% during the second IVF.  I am still surprised at the high count post-wash.

Now we just need to have that one good egg to match all the sperms.

My temperature has jumped this morning already.  Thankfully we did the IUI yesterday and not today.  My RE gives me the option of doing a beta 13 dpiui.  I could also POAS if I want to.  I am in the no testing camp. But I am going to start progesterone tonight.  So I need to find a way to know if I should stop progesterone.  Our insurance is changing starting tomorrow so a beta test will not be fully covered by the new insurance.  Do I really want to pay money for something that most likely will not give us a positive result?  I don’t really know.  I am sure I still have time to contemplate.

I really want to be hopeful.  I will let Bob do all the hoping while he gloats in his glory of 250 million Angry Birds for another day or two.  

 

IUI #1 Final Scan and Show and Tell

So nice to have today, the day before Thanksgiving, off. The ultrasound appointment gave me an excuse to stay home from work. In the last two days, Bob and I had the repeated conversation of whether converting to IUI was a wise choice. We didn’t have to decide on injecting the Cetrotide until last night. If we continued on with IVF, the Cetrotide was necessary to hold off ovulation. It is not needed for an IUI. Right before the Menopur injection, we again asked each other if we were sure about the IUI. The answer was positive. Why did I seem to be uncertain about it? Well, I was most sure about the decision. Then I came across someone’s post on a forum that I frequent. This girl, who is my age, almost cancelled her cycle this time because she only had one follicle growing. Her RE told her to continue on because she might get two. Right before retrieval, a third one popped up. At the retrieval, they were hoping to get three eggs and they actually retrieved six eggs! Out of the six, five were mature and fertilized. One early blastocyst and one compacting morula remained on day five. She got pregnant after transferring those two. I am not saying that this will happen to me. But these freak things do happen. You hear about all these people with follicles that were hiding and they got pregnant from a cycle that they almost cancelled. I was secretly/not so secretly wondering if we would have another follicle showing on the scan today. The result? One nice 18mm follicle on the right ovary. There were two tiny follicles on the left side that probably won’t do anything. My lining is nice and thickening, at 9.5mm. So IUI it is. We’ll do the trigger shot tomorrow at 8pm, probably right after Thanksgiving dinner. IUI is scheduled for Black Friday morning. When Dr. E asked what time we would like to go in for the IUI, Bob joked that we should get there at 4am since it’s Black Friday. He’s such a troublemaker. Always trying to create trouble. 🙂

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I am starting to get into the holiday spirit. I am participating in the ornament exchange that is put together by Teresa. I have been searching and looking and finally found these ornaments that I fell in love with. I picked out one for my partner Jennifer. I am super super super excited about it! I bought one for her and one for myself. I went over the limit by $1. Hopefully nobody is going to yell at me because of that. I will show mine once I have shipped Jennifer’s.

Finally, remember the family photo shoot that we did a few weeks ago? We finally got our photos back! I am so grateful that we have a cool photographer who takes wonderful photos. I am in the process of finding a good Christmas card to order. The following are a few photos of us. (Well, I am not quite ready to out myself on my semi-anonymous blog so we just have to be headless or show our backs for now.)

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Too bad I can’t show you my makeup! The girl at the Mac counter did a great job. I am super happy with the photos. I wanted trees and water. And we got trees and water. Enjoy!

IVF #3 –> IUI #1

Remember what I said my biggest fear was?  That we don’t have any follicles?  Well, this is not too far from that.  My biggest fear has come true.  Today was IVF #3 scan #2.  Dr. E found one lonely follicle on my right ovary and nothing on my left.  The decision that we had to make was:

1) Going forward with the cycle and trying to retrieve that one follicle/egg, hoping for the best

2) Converting to an IUI and continuing with the meds

or

3) Doing it the old fashioned way with timed intercourse.

Too bad Bob wasn’t with me this time.  I headed out to speak with Dr. E’s finance person.  Since we still have some insurance coverage, as long as we complete the IUI before December 1st, the whole procedure will be fully covered.  We gave the big fat check to the clinic for the IVF on Saturday.  The clinic had not cashed our check yet.  I could get the check back right then and there and wait for another cycle to decide if we would want to proceed with a fresh cycle or frozen embryo transfer.

I headed out to the car and talked with Bob on the phone about it.  If we decide to NOT go through with the cycle and convert to IUI, does it mean that we do not have enough faith that God could turn that lonely follicle into a great juicy mature egg, that could turn into a good quality blastocyst?  If we decide to go through with the fresh cycle with one lonely embryo, does it mean that we are a fool, throwing tens of thousands of dollar into a seemingly bad cycle?  So many questions.  No one can answer for us.  We can only go with our gut feeling.  We talked for about ten minutes on the phone and decided to get the check back and convert this cycle to an IUI.  Just about two months ago, I had four follicles on each side.  I could have a repeat a month or two down the road.  No one can tell us.  My biggest concern with moving on is, what if that follicle does not have an egg?  What if the egg is not mature?  Anyhow, I walked back into the clinic, waited for the finance person, and was given the check back.

I still go back to see Dr. E on Wednesday for another monitoring ultrasound.  I saw Dr. E in the waiting room and asked her if she still wanted to see me.  She said she would prefer to see me on Wednesday just to make sure.  If I’d prefer, I could do OPK without an ultrasound.  However, my OPK is usually a few days earlier than the rise in my temperature so I don’t want to risk it.  I have already taken that day off.  I might as well go.

So that’s the update.  Not the best news ever.  But I am feeling amazingly okay about it.  No crying.  I am at peace with it.  This cycle I have been praying for peace regardless of the outcome of the cycle.  So here is the peace that I am experiencing.  We look forward to the IUI.  If this cycle doesn’t work, we will check the antral follicles again next month.  If it looks like I have a few, I may do a fresh cycle in December.  If not, we may decide to just transfer Clay back and see if he/she would stick.  If that doesn’t work, we’ll move onto plan E, which is to start trying to bank embryos at the Southern California clinic.  Maybe traveling is really in my future.

In an IVF cycle, anything can happen, especially for a woman with diminished ovarian reserve.  One just has to press on and keep the hope and the faith alive.