Sad but still Thankful

It was not the kind of phone call anyone would want.

Last night right before bedtime, I turned to Bob and asked, “What if our egg doesn’t fertilize?”  It crossed my mind not only once yesterday that there was a possibility for the worst case scenario.  We talked a bit about it.  The conclusion is that we did give our best for this cycle.  If the egg didn’t fertilize, we still have a lot to be thankful for as we have five embryos in the freezer.  But of course it would sting but I did mentally prepare myself for that possibility.  I prayed for my heart to accept anything that would come our way and fell asleep.

I knew that the phone call would come at any time.  The clinic usually calls between 3 and 6pm on a regular work day.  However, we got our first fertilization report with them on a Sunday at around 10am.  On a holiday I would expect the phone call to be earlier.  I got up from a very good night sleep.  I made breakfast, cleaned the shower stall, and started sorting all of the mail from the last couple of weeks while having Christian contemporary music on.  At the moment when my kitchen counter was filled with bills, statements, and letters that I was sorting, the phone rang.  It said “UCSF Reproductive Health”.  My heart skipped a bit.  I quickly walked away from the music and headed to the stairs.  I pressed the answer button and sat down on the steps.  This cheerful voice said Happy Thanksgiving to me and asked me how I was doing.  After the pleasantry, she said, “Unfortunately I don’t have better news to share.  The one egg that you have didn’t fertilize.  I am sorry.  So there will be no transfer.  Please contact your care team next week in regards to the next step.”

I said my goodbye and just sat on the stairs.  I was just in shock and felt stunned.  Bob came right next to me.  He asked if I was okay.  I just couldn’t speak for the first few moments after the phone call.  I wanted to cry but I had no tears.  This was such a familiar feeling.  I remember how I felt during our second cycle when Dr. E told us that the one and only embryo that fertilized didn’t grow further.  I felt that big lump in my throat that I couldn’t get rid of.  This was the same feeling.  Bob asked me to come down from the stairs and gave me a big tight hug.  I needed that hug.  I needed that extra strength from my husband.  I numbly went back to my original task and felt that I couldn’t stop to think for a moment because I might burst into tears.  I robotically continued my sorting but my mind wandered.  I started second-guessing myself for this cycle.  And then I scolded myself for second-guessing our steps.  I asked Bob if we shouldn’t have proceeded with this cycle.  He answered, “This is a very difficult question to answer.”  It was a wonky cycle.  Bob had not only once told me that we could just wait if this wasn’t going to be a good cycle.  My wonderful husband did not talk further.  He didn’t say I told you so.  We just reiterated our gratitude that this was not our first cycle with UCSF and that we have five frozen embryos.  I think Bob just wishes that next time I would listen to him more when he wants to be conservative with a cycle.  I am also surprised to hear that he’s okay with us not limiting ourselves to one more cycle.  He thinks that if I feel that I could use another cycle after the next one, we can totally do that.

We have experienced all sorts of outcome for our IVF cycles.  We had some eggs fertilized but not others.  We had some eggs lasting until day five but not others.  We had some embryos that lasted only until day three and arrested.  We also had good outcomes the last two cycle.  We just had never had one egg only and now that egg didn’t fertilize.  I guess the second-guessing part comes from the cost of the cycle, feeling hurt that I am gambling our money away.  However, no one could have ever possibly known the outcome.  We would’ve never known if we didn’t try.  Dr. No Nonsense always says that we expect zero, one, or two embryos for each of these min-IVF cycles.  We happened to have exceedingly good results with three and two embryos.  So this outcome is within our expectations.  Still, it stings.

I thank God for allowing me to be calm.  Don’t get me wrong. It hurts and I am sad.  I may even cry later if I feel I need it.  But at this moment, I am thankful that God is helping me through this difficult day with love from friends, love from my husband, and the reminder that we are fortunate to still have the funds to try again.  I am also thankful that the phone call was received on Thanksgiving day and not a typical work day so I don’t have to deal with work after bad news.  And like what Maddie said to me, that the ovaries were working overtime last cycle so we can enjoy having those extra bonus embryos in the freezer.  It is a nice perspective and it eases the sting a bit.

Sorry I don’t have better news. This is the nature of fertility treatment, right?  Good news and bad news.  We have to accept it all and move on.  Happy thanksgiving to you all, and thank you so much for your support.

Giving Thanks for One Egg

The title says it all.  We have one egg!

Mr. Bob was very good today.  He got up early and got ready early so we got to the clinic on time.  I was told to check in at the front desk on the 7th floor for an ultrasound first.  Then the staff would send me up to the 8th floor waiting room to wait for someone to get me inside for the retrieval.  I made sure I asked the front desk lady if I had to check in again so that the 8th floor staff knew we were there.  She said that the nurse would let me know what to do after the scan.  Okay I would take your word for it.  I was quickly called back for the scan, which found two follicles still there; one 24mm and one 19mm.  What a relief that I hadn’t ovulated yet!  The nurse told me to just go right upstairs to the 8th floor.  We went up and sat at the waiting area from 8:15 (our scheduled arrival time) to 8:40.  The sign said just to wait and someone would come get you.  However, no one came out.  The door was tightly closed:

photo 1


It must have been the Val.ium because I was feeling very slow.  Like it was time to take a nap.  It was quite a weird feeling.

One of the nurses that I saw multiple times on the 7th floor came out from the elevator and said “Hi Isabelle!”  I don’t know if it’s good that the nurses know you by name.  She went in for a few minutes and came out.  I spoke up and told her that we hadn’t been called back and it had been 25 minutes delayed already.  She went inside and checked for me.  Good thing I spoke up.  Somehow 7th floor did not communicate with 8th floor so the nurses on the 8th floor didn’t know that I was there.

We walked in.  It was the same nurse that helped us the last two times!  I was so happy to see her.  I knew the drill, changed into my gown, and walked out with my Batman socks on.

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The nurse exclaimed and said, “I love your socks!”  We also showed Bob’s matching Batman shirt to her:

photo 4

Since I was the first retrieval, the nurse saved me the best seat in the house, the one by the window where the warm sunlight enveloped that whole area.  She put the IV in and I just waited.  Then I had to go to the bathroom with my IV insert on.  The bathroom was occupied so I waited outside while holding the IV fluid bag.  In my horror, I was watching my blood flowing out of my arm and down the IV line.  The nurse came to my rescue as I didn’t know that the IV fluid bag had to go above my heart.  At least it meant that my heart was pumping well!

Dr. No Nonsense entered the clinic and I was officially ready to go into the procedure room.  I am sure the Val.ium was making me happy because I apparently was talking nonstop and no-filtered according to Bob.  I was talking about how we should inform Dr. NN of the outdated “educational material” in the sample collection room for the male partners.  That was exactly what I did while lying on the procedure room table.  I told Dr. No Nonsense that Dr. Dry Humor suggested to me that I should really discuss with him about the magazines in the sample collection room because Dr. NN is the lab director.  This was the best time to say it because I was under the influence of Val.ium so what I said wouldn’t count. 😀  Dr. NN said that it should be pretty updated.  HA.  He told me to ask my husband afterwards.

As usual, Dr. NN put in the speculum and cleaned the area down there.  Then he removed the speculum and informed me that the needle would go in.  When it went in, the nurse asked me how I was doing.  I was fine, and she was amazed that I didn’t even blink when the needle poked through.  I was asked to describe the pain level from one to ten to which I responded “one”.  She rubbed my hands and praised me for doing well with the pain.  The embryologist announced that we got one.  Dr. NN tried to get the second one but seemed like there was nothing.  He then said that since my pain tolerance was so good, he would poke the needle through one more time.  He really wanted to scrape it one more time to make sure that he got it all out.  I really appreciated that.  He warned me that it would go a little deeper so it might hurt a little more.  Now that pain level shot up from one to three.  It was a very strange feeling of something deep being stirred inside your organ.  But it was totally tolerable.  The embryologist still said “one”.  One egg it is.  I am thankful that Dr. NN tried though.  He called me a trooper and told me that maybe because this cycle had delayed so much that the second follicle just petered out.  Interestingly, I didn’t bleed at all this time.  The last two times I bled for quite some time.  This time Dr. NN must have done a great job, or maybe my follicles were in a different location.

Amazingly, I was not disappointed at all.  I am very thankful for one egg as this is a natural cycle and we expected one egg.  I was a little bit worried about Bob’s reaction though.  I remember how he was calculating how much each egg cost after the last two cycles.  This appeared to be the most expensive egg ever.  But I was worried for nothing.  My husband is amazing.  He walked in after he gave his sample, smiled, and asked how I was doing.  I raised one finger and he was smiling genuinely and said “Good!”  He did not mention anything about the cost.  He was just saying that this would be what we expect: one egg for a natural cycle.  Exactly my thought.  So I sat there sipping my ginger ale and eating my saltine crackers while Bob made good use of UCSF’s free wifi and downloaded a bunch of things for work.  He also got his share of graham crackers and apple juice.  I was well taken care of as I sat there bathing in the warmth of the sun with two heating pads on me.  Bob said, How about five more minutes after my download is done??  HA.  Gotta love this man.  He also said that the material in the sample collection room was from 2011 instead of 2008 like last time, although it was a different room.  Haha.

When we said our good-byes, my nurse said she hoped that she would see me only two more times: one more retrieval and just one transfer!  I hope so too.  🙂

We walked out and back to my work where we had parked the car.  This is one of the perks of working so close to the clinic.  Otherwise we would have to pay for parking at the garage since street parking was only for two hours.  We were there way beyond two hours.  Bob and I drove to the same restaurant that we went to after the last retrieval.  While walking to the restaurant, a little four-year-old boy looked up at Bob and said very  happily, “Hi Batman!!”  It was so cute!  That totally made our day!

We ordered the same things as last time:

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Ha that looks so familiar and it hit the right spot.  We headed home.  I had to take a nap as a headache started to develop.

You may think that I would be disappointed.  But I am not.  So I thank the Lord for that because my emotions could go the other way.  It reminds me of my friend Anna who had one follicle for her IUI that resulted in her baby.  I know going in that we might get zero, one, or two embryos.  So anything is possible.  I am very grateful that we have five embryos saved up.  We’ll get a phone call tomorrow.  Gotta love a clinic that doesn’t close on Thanksgiving day.  (Not the Irvine clinic that we considered cycling with; they close on Thanksgiving day.)

Thanks everyone for reading!  I am happy that we finally get to this point and put this cycle behind us.  I am thankful for this one precious egg.  I hope that Kevin will decide to join us this time.  Onto the final cycle with my own eggs!

Happy Staycation

Since I have a lot of vacation time, I am taking this whole Thanksgiving week off.  I feel that I am busier than when I go to work. It’s a good kind of busy though.  Let me tell you what I did.

Yesterday was a fun day.  It started out with my scan early in the morning.  We again got there late (wink wink Mr. Bob) for our 8:15 appointment.  And the nurse didn’t call me in until after 9.  I wasn’t very nervous about the delay because I was off from work, although poor Bob actually had to start heading back to work.   I was expecting the usual nurse practitioner but in walked Dr. No Nonsense to the exam room.  I was so surprised because out of the ten plus times that we had done monitoring ultrasound, I had not seen Dr. No Nonsense.  It was good to see him, although he didn’t do the ultrasound himself.  The nurse measured my lining which was 7.7mm.  Hmm… a bit thinner than two days ago.  And it wasn’t trilaminar.  On the right side, she measured the smaller follicles first.  The 13mmer had become 14mm.  The bigger follicle was now at 18mm.  Dr. NN said in a very cheerful voice, “Let’s trigger tonight and get that one egg!”  I am sure he’s saying one egg to cover his behind.  I know we’re all secretly hoping for two eggs.   He also said, “See you at retrieval”.  Wow, I get my own RE to do my retrieval this time?  Maybe this is a lucky cycle.  So I stayed behind to wait for one of the nurses to go over trigger instruction with me while Bob left to go to work.  It’s interesting how every single time I am presented with the pre-anesthesia questionnaire even though I have already told them multiple times that I won’t be using anesthesia.  Every time I have to explain to a new nurse why I don’t need to fill it out.  I was instructed that I’d get a phone call between three and six for the exact time of retrieval.  I confirmed that it is indeed going to be Dr. NN who will do my retrieval.  I inquired about Ganir.elix since I was worried that I’d ovulate prematurely.  The nurse explained that with this protocol they don’t usually do Ganir.elix even though I had used them in the last two cycles.  Since this cycle I wasn’t using any drugs at all, I wouldn’t be using my Ganir.elix.  She said she’d confirm with Dr. NN.

After that, I walked into Starbu.cks to get a nice hot drink for myself.  The sun was shining outside and I was feeling good about being on vacation.  I ordered myself a chestnut and praline latte, which was actually quite tasty.  I was excited because I was going to head over to the other side of the bay for an important date.  What’s better than spending the first day of your staycation with the one and only lovely Jane Allen?  Her office is five minutes away from my chiropractor.  So I suggested having lunch with her before my appointment.  Jane looked wonderful.  Our Japanese meal was excellent.  The conversation was great.  The lunch hour went by very quickly.  Thanks so much for meeting with me and for treating!

My chiropractic visit was as good as usual.  My 78-year-old practitioner asked about our fertility treatment and then expressed his dissatisfaction about his six children because none of them have any kids.  I guess it is tough to be have no grandchildren when you have so many kids yourself.

After the chiro visit, I drove locally to visit with my friend who just had triplets.  Remember the one who got pregnant with triplets after having multiple early losses?  I walked into her house and she was nursing one of the triplets in the living room.  I chatted with her there while she nursed.  Then we went into the family room where the other two babies were sleeping on the couch.  She has to hire full-time help because there is no way for her to take care of all three babies while her husband goes to work.  Since it was 45 minutes before the babies’ meal time, my friend and I had the time to chat for a little bit.  She is exhausted.  She gets at most three hours of sleep.  Her husband has to get up early in the morning to leave at around 6am for work, but he doesn’t sleep well either.  She nurses all of the babies and supplements them with formula.  Imagine nursing three babies multiple times a day, plus pumping as well.  I don’t know when she finds time to do anything else.  I was holding the one who just nursed for about thirty minutes.  He is the singleton.  That’s why he’s the biggest and healthiest one.  The twins are a bit smaller.  One of the twins is barely six pounds.  Considering that he was only 1.5 pounds when he was born at 29 weeks, I would say six pounds is pretty good.  My friend also told me about the C-section, how the first two babies cried loudly but the third one was taken away from her to be rushed to the NICU without crying, how she needed two blood transfusions, and how she needed emergency surgeries due to her bowel displacement and hernia.  We also discussed about having multiples and the whole issue regarding selective reduction.  I didn’t know that but selective reduction wouldn’t be done until 16-week gestation and it would only be done to the identical twins because they were more high risk.  My friend decided to keep all the babies.  Although it is beyond hectic right now, she does not regret her decision.  She kept on saying, It’s so worth it.  Then our conversation got interrupted because the other two babies started waking up and crying.  So everybody was busy changing diapers, feeding the babies, and making more formula.  I can only imagine if she doesn’t have help.  After this visit and having a glimpse of the crazy life of a mom with three babies, I really just want one healthy singleton pregnancy and one child at a time.

It was wonderful to be holding a little baby for thirty minutes though.  🙂 He smelled so good!

My confirmation phone call with the nurse informed me that the retrieval would be on Wednesday at 9am, and the trigger shot should be done at 11pm, 34 hours before retrieval.  And yes.  No Ganir.elix.  Let’s hope that I won’t ovulate on my own……

Today was a great second day of my staycation.  I met up with my high school best friend for coffee.  He came to visit from Chicago.  We sat at a coffee place in downtown for almost two hours, chatting about everything.  I told him all the details about mini-IVF and the ups and downs of all the cycles.  He actually understood what I was talking about.  Then we talked about his life, his work, and his one and only daughter.  I know that he and his wife have been trying for number two for the last couple of years.  He’s not worried though.  He and his wife haven’t really discussed the next steps, i.e. whether to go see a doctor or not.  I feel like because he already has a child, he is not as anxious as I am to get pregnant.  It was just very nice to get together with a long time friend.  After we said good-bye, I walked to the entrance of Bob’s building and sent him a text.  He was very pleasantly surprised to find me downstairs.  I had never been to his office so I wanted to see.  It was so nice to see his work place, meet his coworkers, and watch him do his twice-daily burpees before I left.

I love being in downtown because of the stores and all the shopping I can do.  I had ordered a v-neck cashmere cardigan from this store that would arrive in the mail today.  I wanted to go the physical store to try on a crew-neck one just to see.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a promotion on those sweaters and got a $10 off.  When I got home, I also found the box of sweater that had arrived.  I will look like a Christmas tree as the sweaters are red and green.  When I went to pick up my Val.ium for tomorrow, I went next door to shop for shoes.  Bob had promised to buy me a pair of long boots for Christmas.  And I found a pair!  I remember having a $20 off coupon at home.  So I placed the boots on hold and went back after dinner with Bob to buy them with the $20 off.   Now my big box of boots is sitting on the living room floor where a Christmas tree will stand.  I said to Bob, “We got a Christmas present before we have a Christmas tree!” to which Bob responded, “You bought a Christmas present before Thanksgiving!”

That’s very true.  Happy staycation, happy Thanksgiving, and happy early Christmas!

Oh and happy retrieval tomorrow!

There is Life!

In my ovaries, that is.

I had no expectation for the monitoring scan on Friday.  I hadn’t felt much of any cervical fluids until maybe Thursday night or Friday morning.  I didn’t know what I was going to see at the appointment.  I did have a fleeting fear that my ovaries would be asleep forever and nothing would grow for the rest of my life.  That’s really silly, I know.  But that was a fear that I had for a couple of days.

Imagine my surprise when the nurse practitioner found two follicles on the right ovary.  There was a 14mm and a small 8mm.  Remember this is my natural cycle as the Clo.mid failed to help grow any follicles.  So the follicles come totally from my body, not the meds.  I was surprised that two were visible.  Remember the last cycle we had an 18mm, and 12mm, and a 10mm.  So it seems like if we wait a little bit, the 8mm may actually grow bigger.  The NP reassured me that these weren’t cysts.  She could see some cervical fluid and the thickening lining meant that my estrogen was building up. The NP told me to make an appointment at the front desk for an ultrasound in two days.  She would talk to Dr. No Nonsense and give me a call regarding any instructions for additional medication.

I was out at the front desk making an appointment when the NP came back out and told me that Dr. NN did not want me to take anything.  Just return on Sunday for the scan and if the big follicle is up to 18mm or so, we’d trigger on Sunday night and retrieve on Tuesday.

I was so surprise that there was life in my ovaries!  I totally thought that the wait for the next step would be very long.  I am so grateful for the Lord to show me His power on my body even though I had very little trust.  Before the appointment, I wouldn’t never have imagined that we’d be talking about trigger and retrieval at the appointment!  I was utterly amazed at the turn of the event.

While I was making the appointment, Dr. NN walked into the front desk area.  He waved at me with a smile and pointed at his throat to indicate that he was sick and couldn’t talk.  So I continued with my conversation with the front desk lady when he walked by me and patted on my shoulder twice.  I don’t know.  From the high five to patting on my shoulder.  Dr. NN is more warm than he shows on his face.

Bob was so happy that something was growing!  And it’s okay if we only get one egg and hopefully one embryo.  But we also had hope that the smaller follicle would catch up.

Fast forward to today.  We went in at noon for an ultrasound.  The waiting room was filled with patients.  It did not even seem like a weekend clinic.  After 20 minutes, we got called in.  A real RE did the scan today.  The lining was 8mm and the follicles were immediately visible on the screen.  The bigger one measures 16mm today.  The smaller one measures 13mm!!!  Wow this tiny thing is showing its game and joining the party!  It’s no longer tiny.  I was very surprised that it grew 5mm in two days.  So the lesson is, don’t ever look down on these follicles.  They sometimes surprise you in the biggest way.

I mean, there is a chance that the smaller follicle doesn’t contain an egg.  But there is also a chance that it does.  And we may get two eggs after all without any meds.  Now that’d be the best case scenario for this cycle, which I didn’t dream of having two days ago!  We were told to return tomorrow for one more scan.  Most likely we’ll trigger tomorrow night and have a retrieval on Wednesday.

I am so thankful to be in this position to have hope again that we’ll make some embryos this time.  These past two weeks my patience has really been tested.  And my trust for the Lord has been tested too.  My head knowledge is that I know that the Lord has a plan. But sometimes I let my fear take over.  At this rate, we may retrieve on Wednesday.  If the next cycle progresses normally (meaning no cysts and no delay), we still won’t be able to do a fresh retrieval and transfer before December 21 (when the clinic closes for lab clean up and the move across town).  I can’t help but think that this is the Lord’s way of telling me to take a break from all the meds and start fresh all over again in the New Year’s.  And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  After pumping myself with hormones for three straight months, it may be time to rest for real.

I really hope that this cycle will result in two more embryos so we can name them Kevin and Lucy.  🙂

Random Thoughts During a Stalled Cycle

After such great momentum for two months, it feels so funny (as in strange, not funny haha) that my cycle has come to a screeching halt.  What cycle day is it today?  I lose track.  I only know that we should have completed our egg retrieval eight days ago.  I should have started estrogen priming by popping an Estrace daily starting today.

I should know this by now.  There is no should have in the land of infertility and in vitro fertilization.  You can’t possibly predict what will happen tomorrow.  You can’t plan ahead and block off your work schedule because you know that a certain day is going to be your retrieval and a certain other day is going to be your transfer.  You just don’t know.

This would drive anyone who are self-proclaimed control freaks crazy.  Imagine you mark your calendar with possible ER and possible ET.  When those days come, you go to work as usual because the acronyms did not happen.

How anti-climatic.

I feel like nothing much is growing inside my ovaries.  I don’t have x-ray vision so there is no definitive way of knowing.  However, I do know a thing or two about the correlation between estrogen and the amount of cervical fluid showing up.  I know it’s TMI, but it has been as dry as a desert down in my lady bits.  I think that’s a pretty good indicator of what is NOT happening in my ovaries, which is a bit discouraging to me.  I have not been using my ovulation prediction kits.  What’s the point?  Five days ago my ovaries looked very quiet.  I can’t imagine follicle growing and estrogen rising and my LH surging any time soon.  I wonder if these thoughts of distrust of my ovaries actually make my ovaries go dormant.  I guess if my mind has such power to sway my ovaries to a certain direction, I would’ve gotten pregnant a long time ago.  Silly thoughts.

I have bumped into my pregnant coworker many times in the last few months.  I usually sit away from her in the lunch room.  Tomorrow is a birthday celebration of November birthdays including the pregnant coworker’s.  I guess I will be sitting in the same room with her.  I haven’t really talked to her but my Dear Colleague found out that this coworker is not going to have a girl so she won’t name her baby the exact name that I will name my boy.  Phew.  I have been okay with seeing her around.  However, being in a stalled cycle makes it harder to be around a big baby bump.

The world around me continues to procreate.  I continue to be stuck in my cycle.  While I’m in this inactive state, my resolve to move onto something more attainable has become stronger.  I don’t know when we can move away from this stalled cycle.  What I do know is that my quest to have a baby using my own eggs will end in two more retrievals regardless of the outcome.  This thought brings sadness and grief but strangely also comfort as closure to a chapter of our journey is near.  After eight IVF attempts and seven retrievals, I can say that I have done enough to attempt to make a baby with my own eggs.  At least this is the definition of “enough” in my book.  I find myself continue to research and think about donor eggs and donor embryos.  The more I think about it, the more I feel that having a baby to call my own is a lot more important than the genetic link.  I am not saying that the sense of loss is not there.  But my desires to carry and give birth to a baby are a lot stronger than that.

I usually have a plan for my posts.  However, I didn’t know what I was going to write when I started typing this post.  It’s a strange night and I felt like writing something.  Thanks for reading and sharing my random thoughts about my journey.  Maybe we’ll get a more definitive answer about this cycle at my ultrasound scan on Friday.


Mystery Cycle

Friday was cycle day 17.  We had our fourth scan for this cycle. The three follicles that were visible on cycle day 8 and cycle day 12 were no longer there.  Instead, the nurse practitioner saw two antral follicles on the right side and not much on the left side.  We discussed about whether my FSH for this cycle was too high, hence my body did not get the signal that my ovaries needed to take action.  And the lining was not thick at all, which means that I will not have breakthrough bleeding any time soon.  Basically, my body has not gotten the message that, hey let’s grow a follicle.  It’s still waiting for that cue.

I wasn’t surprised at all, nor was I upset.  I expected this to be the outcome.  Anything can happen at this point.  My body may eventually get the message that we need to start growing a follicle, or my body just wants to shed the lining and start all over.  My NP and I discussed about the need to test my FSH.  I used to test my FSH level every single cycle when I was with Dr. E.  Ever since we switched to UCSF, the protocol doesn’t include testing of any of the hormones.  So I will have to pay extra out of pocket if we test the FSH level.  The NP would discuss with Dr. No Nonsense about the findings of my scan and let me know around lunch time.

It was so nice that Bob was there with me.  About half way through the scan, he extended his hand so I could hold it for the rest of my scan.  I love the silent support that he gave me during that time.

We arrived about ten minutes late as we should’ve left home at least five minutes earlier.  Parking was challenging and took another five minutes.  We checked in and just sat there for a long time while all the ladies in the waiting room got called in one by one.  I was getting a little impatient of the wait.  I was supposed to be seen at 8:15.  We checked in at 8:25.  I was still sitting there at 8:50.  My 9am client  was supposed to be waiting for me at work three blocks away from the clinic.  Good thing I knew that my 9am client’s mom would be okay with me being a little late, but it was still tough for me to sit there and wait.  I called my work and let them know that I would run a little late.  It was at that moment when I saw a lady walk in the clinic.  She was Chinese with long black hair.  I saw her face and I recognized her.  There was a lady that I met on an online forum who also cycles at UCSF.  We emailed each other several times and we almost met up once.  Her gmail messages included her little picture so I kind of knew what she looked like.  I quickly looked her up online on my phone and showed her picture to Bob. Bob wasn’t really sure if it was her.  So I watched her every move trying to figure out if this was really her.  It seemed like she had bumped into someone at the clinic unexpectedly and was excitedly catching up.  Then she checked in and sat down.  At 8:55, I walked to the counter and asked the check-in lady if my scan would be coming up soon since I had to be at work in five minutes.  The check-in lady consulted with the nurse and told me that I’d be seen in five minutes.  I walked past the Chinese lady and gathered up enough courage to go up to her and asked if she was so and so.  And she was!  I am so glad that I had enough guts to go up to a complete stranger and say Hi.  The worst that could happen would be that it wasn’t her.  No biggie.  But it was so much fun that it was her!  We quickly exchanged notes on where we were in our cycles and what she was doing there.  It was so nice to bump into her.  That was when she got called in (even before I did!).  Later I found that there was a chart mix-up as the nurses didn’t get my chart after I was checked in, so they didn’t know that I was sitting there waiting.  Had they seen me at a normal time, I would never have bumped into this online friend.  What a nice coincidence!

Anyhow, I was twenty minutes late for my first client of the day.  But it was okay.  When I got back to my office after my first therapy session, I saw that I had a missed call.  It was my nurse who called to let me know that Dr. No Nonsense wanted to schedule a scan for me next Friday.  I emailed her back and confirmed the time as well as to ask her about my conversation with the NP about checking my FSH.  My nurse responded saying that Dr. NN didn’t want me to do the FSH.  Just come in for a scan.  At lunch time, the NP called me as promised and repeated what Dr. NN said.  This time she explained in more details.  Basically my FSH is most likely high at this point so we’re just waiting for my body to rebound.  There is no need to check my FSH.  Hopefully somehow my body will get the message that it’s about time to grow a follicle and pop an egg.  The NP said that women with high FSH sometimes do not respond to Cl.omid but somehow would grow a couple of follicles on their in the later part of the cycle.  She said she just saw a patient like that earlier on that day.  I was thinking, hey she was talking about my online friend who I had bumped into!  She was trying to do an IUI after taking Cl.omid but it took a really long time for her to grow those follicles.  Now she was at 17mm and 9mm and was waiting for the instruction to trigger.  I hope that my ovaries do the same thing as hers and grow some juicy follicles.

I’m not going to lie.  The wait is tough at times.  I remember right before this cycle started, my fear was that we would have a cyst or AF would delay which would further delay my plan to retrieve in November and do a fresh transfer cycle in December.  I dismissed my fear at that time calling myself silly for worrying about something that had not even happened.  The good thing is, although it is sometimes difficult to wait, I am not depressed, down, or upset.  I am feeling at peace most of the time.  I carry on with my life daily without feeling anxious that things aren’t going my way.  This is truly a blessing to not to be constantly anxious or nervous.  This blessing can only come from God.  So I am thankful for that.  I sometimes think about my plan of transferring in December and I can’t help but think that it’s probably not going to happen.  That will  mark the end of the third year of our TTC years.  And when the transfer actually happens, it’ll most likely be some time in January or February, which marks one year since our last transfer.  When I think about that, sometimes the thoughts are depressing.  Then I have to remind myself of my motto: “Take it one day at a time” and not go too far ahead of myself.  Hopefully my body will solve this mystery very soon.

Productive Phone Consult

After my post yesterday, my very proactive nurse called and scheduled a phone consult with my RE for today.  I am very appreciative of her.  The time she suggested fit right into my very busy schedule today, during the one hour down time I had.  I responded to her saying that the time would work as long as Dr. No Nonsense calls me on time.  Her response was, “Thanks for being flexible and taking the consult on such short notice.”  Oh I’ll take being able to talk to the doctor himself any day.

The phone call was good.  Dr. No Nonsense called this cycle a “failed Clo.mid cycle”, meaning follicles did not result from the effect of Cl.omid.  It doesn’t mean that I will or won’t ovulate on my own this cycle.  It may be a natural cycle when my ovulation is later than usual.  Or it may be a cycle where I won’t ovulate.  We won’t know until we do a scan and monitor.  As long as Bob and I are okay with having just one follicle and the possibility of one egg and one embryo or no egg and no embryo, Dr. NN is okay with that too.  We discussed the next steps.  He invited me to return tomorrow for an ultrasound scan to check on the follies.  Depending on the state of my ovaries, he may say to return on a weekly basis until we see activities.  He may even prescribe Letro.zole to me just to help push things forward.  Bob and I are scheduled for an appointment tomorrow at 8:15am.

We discussed the cause of the lack of growth this cycle.  He said that it’s very hard to predict the state of my ovaries at this point.  It could have been the Estrace.  It could have been the Cl.omid.  It could have been an off cycle for my ovaries.  There is no way of knowing.  So we just take whatever information we can get and move on with the cycle.

I asked whether he still recommends transferring next month even if we don’t have embryos this month.  He suggested making decisions on a scan to scan basis so we don’t go ahead of ourselves.  I like that.  So we won’t look too far ahead.  And I am determined not to let the uncertainty of the timeline affect my emotions negatively.

One thing that I am pleased about is that Dr. NN seems to have softened up on his stance on using Clo.mid.  I have always been a bit leery of using Cl.omid during a fresh and transfer cycle due to the possibility of thinning the lining.  Dr. NN had been adamant about using Cl.omid I guess because of my good response the last two cycles.  When I asked him one more time, he said that we can use Fema.ra during our transfer cycle which is more favorable for my lining.  I am so glad he said that.

I also asked about PIO as I have never used it.  He said it doesn’t matter what form of progesterone I use for a fresh cycle but he’d recommend using PIO for a frozen embryo transfer.  I didn’t ask him why.  I just jotted it down.

Since I had him on the phone, I asked a few more questions that had been on my mind.  Yes we’ll do assisted hatching for our transfer cycle (meaning extra $300 for the cycle).  No he does not suggest doing herbs to thicken the lining during a fresh cycle but he’s okay with using herbs during a FET.  And yes I should continue with all of my supplements including DHEA until I’m pregnant.

It was a productive phone call.  I did my homework and asked my questions.  I am so happy to get some answers and a plan.  We’ll see what happens at the scan tomorrow.


The Most Idle Cycle

Can you believe it? I still don’t know what’s going on this cycle.

Ever since the last scan on Sunday, I had not heard from my clinic.  I am not too concerned because my follicles were tiny so I don’t think I will ovulate any time soon. I waited patiently both Sunday and Monday.  I finally emailed my nurse yesterday but her auto reply said that she was out of the office.  I didn’t feel the immediate need to contact the nurse team line as this was not an urgent matter.  This morning I called my own nurse’s direct line and left a message.  I received an email from her just now:

“What a disappointment this cycle…  Dr. No Nonsense has not been in touch and we do have you in mind.  He is back officially tomorrow and you are one of my patients that we will be discussing about next steps.  Hang in a little longer.”

I did an OPK yesterday and got a faint line.  I don’t think I am in imminent danger of ovulating.  I can still wait a couple more days before another scan, if that’s what the clinic decides to do.

The funny thing is, I am feeling fine.  I am not overly anxious about the future. I know my own timeline: I wanted to make a couple more embryos this month and next month, and transfer before the clinic closes on December 21.  But I’d be stupid if I didn’t learn a thing or two about fertility treatments.  Unpredictability is the name of the game.  Waiting is another name of the game.  Last two cycles are like miracles.  Things went well and we got embryos.  I can’t possibly expect every single cycle to be the same.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

So on that note, I am doing okay.  At times frustrated.  But most of the time, I am just going with the flow.  The truth is, what can you do?  Nothing.  You can’t force the follicles to grow.  You can’t force your period to come.  You wait.  Although my mind must be churning subconsciously as I have been waking up three to four times a night for three nights already, needing to use the bathroom, or overly thirsty and needing a drink of water, or just plain sweaty.  Don’t know what’s up with that.

The good news is, I have confidence that God knows what’s going on.  God knows the answers.  God has the plan.  I put  my trust in Him and He’s been giving me peace.

Life goes on.

MicroblogMondays: Tender Moment


After our disappointing scan on Wednesday, Bob and I were cuddling in bed at night chatting about the day.  I made it through the day without crying about the lack of follicle growth.  I closed my eyes when Bob said:

“Imagine in the future when we go to Hong Kong and your dad takes away our baby to show off to relatives and refuses to return the baby to us.”

I immediately had a vivid image in my head: my dad holding our baby who has a head full of black wavy hair, proudly showing baby off to friends with a big smile on his face.

My heart all of a sudden hurt a little.  It ached for this image that felt so far from reality.  I kept my eyes closed.  Suddenly tears started coming down.  Bob’s forehead was tenderly resting on mine.  When he noticed that I was crying, he thought he had said something wrong.  I reassured him that he didn’t say anything wrong.  It was just the right time to shed some tears at that tender moment.  Of the hope that this could become a reality when we push forward.  Of the fear that it would never become a reality.

Bob just held me in his arms and both of us were silent.  As I was feeling his warmth, I felt fortunate that he’s always here for me bearing the weight of the unknown with me and braving through these storms in our fertility journey.

Despite a disappointing cycle, I am still a very lucky woman to have a man who stands by me during the most difficult times.


Yesterday’s scan on cycle day twelve showed very little follicle growth.  I might have been over-suppressed by the estrogen I took before the cycle started.  Three cycles of Clo.mid might have messed up my hormones.  I didn’t cry and didn’t feel overly disappointed.  I kind of expected this outcome.  Jane is right.  These are her wise words: “There are still so many positives; in just 2 cycles, you got 5 embies that were  further and rated better than before.”  It IS such a positive thing.  Imagine not having those embryos.  I don’t know the outcome of this cycle.  But I know that I’ll get through it just like any other disappointing moments in this journey.  We’ll get through it.

Ups and Downs

Highlight of last weekend was meeting Jennifer T and hanging out with her and Bob over a bowl of bread pudding.  She was in town for business so we agreed to meet Sunday evening.  It was SO MUCH FUN to see her in person and just talk.  I have been following her journey for quite some time and have been so excited for her ever since her cousin got pregnant with her baby.  To my surprise, Bob wanted to come meet her too.  So the three of us walked over to the diner right next to the hotel and just had dessert and chatted for next hour and a half about anything and everything.  Such a lovely and fun lady!  I am so lucky that I got to meet with two bloggers in the last month.  I just love this community so much.

Remember I talked about the clinic accidentally charging me less than what the billing department intended?  I read and reread the email and was really not sure if the coordinator was actually asking me to pay retroactively.  You can judge for yourself:

“The first 2 mini-stim embryo freeze cycles you were charged the incorrect amount of $XXX by [billing coordinator] giving you an added savings of $563 each cycle.  The correct charge of $XXX was in the letter she just sent.  I had emailed you a fee outline with the $XXX amount on 7/22/14.  Template attached.  Please let me know if you have additional questions or need further assistance.”

So to be safe and not waiting until my scan day to get a surprise, I enlisted my friend M’s help to draft an email about it:

“Thank you for your clarification of the charges.  As you know, we are solely funding this effort ourselves, and we receive no money from insurance or any other tax benefits.  As such, the clerical error made by your billing staff represents a significant burden.  We are willing to accept the rate change for the upcoming cycles, but I ask that you reconsider charging us retroactively for an error that was not our making.  I understand that we were informed by email of the proper rate, but I feel strongly that it is the responsibility of the clinic to provide correct information at the time of payment, not rely on the memory of the client.  Thank you for your attention in this matter.”

To that, the patient coordinator wrote back and said:

“We are not charging you retroactively  for the difference in cost on the first 2 cycles.  It was not mentioned in my email to you.”

Well bad news is, I made a fool out of myself.  Good news is, instead of paying an additional $1689 for three cycles, we are responsible for the extra $563 for the current cycle.  Like what M said, owing $500 is much better than owing over $1600.

Those are the good moments of the week.  How about the scan?  Well….

I don’t know what to think of it and how to feel about it.  Today is cycle day 8.  Our first scan after five days of Cl.omid shows that we may have three tiny follicles growing.  I was prepared for just one follicle.  I was not prepared for no dominant or bigger follicle.  The lining was good though: at 9.4mm.  The NP couldn’t tell if it was trilaminar because it’s tough to do a clear ultrasound with a big fibroid.  Imagine my surprise when I lay that and did not easily see a dark spot on my right ovary.  And some tiny dots on my left ovary.  The NP pushed on my ovaries and got a better measurement on both sides.  It appeared that we had a 6mm and 4mm on the left, and a 8mm on the right.  However, because of some fluid buildup on the right side, the 8mm might even be smaller.  I was disappointed.  Usually at this point in the game, I’ll have at least one follicle over 11 or 12mm.  I really don’t know if these follicles will continue to grow on their own.  I just honestly want one follicle and one egg.  So the NP told me to get my blood drawn to test my Estradiol, which was the first blood draw ever at this clinic because it is just not part of the protocol.  I continue to be disappointed.  And then my mind goes wild again.  So… what if I have to cancel this cycle?  Do we still do another cycle in December and transfer?  One of my friends suggested that maybe because the half life for Cl.omid is long, that the buildup from the last two cycles messes up my hormones for this cycle.  So does it mean that I should take a break from Cl.omid for a month?  Should I still transfer in December without a retrieval?  Should I transfer this month even if we have to cancel the retrieval?  So many questions.  No answers.

I don’t want to go ahead of myself.  This could be an off cycle.  My follicles could be slow-growing for some reason.  Or like what Bob said, that this may be God’s way of telling us to wait.  I have been exercising a lot of patience in this process.  I feel a little impatient today.  Why is there a new hurdle every single time?

I had a meeting with someone who is interested in having me help with a project which involves developing workshops to educate Chinese parents on language stimulation strategies at home.  The meeting was right after my scan and I was still recovering from the disappointment of the results.  This lady that I met with asked me if I had children.  I just smiled and shook my head.  She jokingly told me not to get pregnant until after the workshops are done.  I know it was a joke but at that moment, I just wanted to punch her on her face.  Especially this morning.

The nurse’s phone call instructed me to return on Saturday for a scan.  No meds.  Just as is until then.  Half an hour later, she called again and said that the doctors actually wanted me to return on Sunday for a scan.  Looks like they are giving my ovaries a lot of time to see if the follicles will grow. That will be four days from now.  I don’t know if the follicles will continue to grow, or my body will decide that this cycle will be anovulatory.

My friend S said that I am doing very well.  I was telling her that there is really nothing much I can do except for pushing on.  She said, “You could have a nervous breakdown.  Threaten divorce, affair… there are all kinds of things you COULD do.”

I guess she’s right.  It never occurred to me that I should/could do the above.  I am grateful that we had two amazing cycles and five embryos frozen.  I will try to focus on the positive.

So seems like it’s the nature of these cycles to have ups and downs.  Today, my Maya massage therapist whispered to the “girls” (the follicles) for them to grow well.  My friend S gave the follicles some big names: Zeus, Goliath, and Godzilla.  Hopefully the follicles will listen to Auntie S so that we can have some “ups” to look forward to in a few days.