Monthly Archives: February 2015

Give a little

To all our gorgeous friends and family who contributed to our Give-A-Little fund (you know who you are),

Thank you so much for contributing to our treatment in San Diego. As many of you know we were a bit hesitant about the whole Give-A-Little thing, knowing that you all have your own things to pay for and deal with, but we truly are so grateful to you for helping us out. The money raised covered the cost of our donor, which is just amazing! We’re so lucky to have such fantastic friends and family who care so much about us. Fingers crossed for a happy outcome!

Thank you so much once again. We love you all.

xx

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A short post on silly worrying (written 6th February 2015)

OK, so now I’m being paranoid. Yep that good old friend Worry again. And I know it’s stupid to stress about silly things but sometimes you just can’t help yourself right?!? It’s all because I lifted a silly suitcase.

I’m under strict instructions not to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds, or approx. 9kgs, at least until my pregnancy test, and up until now I’ve been good. Then I lifted my near empty suitcase up onto the airport shuttle, a suitcase which later turned out to be 11.7kgs, and now, especially with a little cramping after the lift, I’m worried. I know it’s ridiculous and that the extra 2.7kgs (hopefully) won’t make a difference, but what if we get a negative result – will I feel guilty because I lifted that damn suitcase? Let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not touching anything even remotely heavy from now on.


¡Adiós San Diego! (written 5th February 2015)

Let the two week wait crazies begin! I’m trying not to think about it, to only to think positive thoughts, sending loving vibes to our little embies (hopefully) nestling deep inside me, but with a fair bit of cramping from yesterdays transfer, it’s hard not too contemplate what’s going on within my body. I’m not desperately seeking signs, over-analysing every little twinge or symptom my body experiences, it’s waaaaay too early for that, but I’m sure I won’t be far off.   It’s going to be a looooong two weeks.

Today’s our last day in San Diego and by lunchtime tomorrow we’ll be well on our way back to Los Angeles. I’m not looking forward to heading back, not back to LA and not back home to New Zealand. I’m loving San Diego, it suits me, and I’m loving the break from all stress that awaits me back home. I’m wishing we’d taken another week off and had a bit more of a holiday now that all the nerve-wracking IVF stuff is done and dusted, but the plan was (and still is) to try and save my leave in case we (I) need to come back here for another cycle soon.

Aside from the sunny warm winter here and chilled out atmosphere, I’m really going to miss hanging out with my friend L and her gorgeous wee cherub. L and I met through Twitter (neither of us can really remember how), becoming Facebook and email friends not long after, and finally getting to meet in person last week. It feels like I’ve known L forever, although in reality it can’t be any more than a couple of years as I’ve only been on Twitter that long. She’s one of those amazing people who could entertain you for hours, knows just what to say when (usually when you need it most), and is always there no matter what shit she’s dealing with herself. Thank you L for being such a great friend, for showing us around this beautiful city, letting us hang with your gorgeous family, and for just being you. You rock!

Despite not wanting to leave San Diego there are some parts of going home I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to seeing my fluffy wee fur-babies and having some snurgly munchkin cuddles – although I know at least one of them will be grumpy with me for being away so long and will make me earn back her affection. I can’t wait to see my friends and family, and sleep in my own bed. And on the plus side it’s still summer so I’ll hopefully be going back to sunshine and warmth.

So heading home’s not all bad, and I guess the stress of returning to work will help distract me throughout the two week wait. I’m going to miss San Diego but I’ll be back, hopefully on holiday with my own little cherubs in tow.


Day 6 – part two (written 4th February 2015)

It’s time. We head to the clinic early in the hope of meeting the donor coordinator before transfer. We didn’t get to meet her on our last visit and it feels wrong leaving the States without saying “hello” as she was part of the reason with chose to go with San Diego Fertility Center. I’m excited as we travel the 20 minutes to the clinic, nervous about whether this is finally our golden ticket but excited all the same.

No luck on meeting the coordinator before treatment, she’s in their afternoon meeting but hopefully we’ll get to meet her afterwards. After a short wait in the waiting room we’re ushered through to our treatment room. Here we go!

I strip off my bottom half and climb up onto the bed, swathing myself in blankets to keep warm and maintain some kind of modesty. Then there’s more paperwork to complete – I’ll never get over how much additional paper work there is in the States! – and we’re ready to go. Two of my friends back home have given me ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ stones, good luck charms, and I clutch them tightly as the procedure begins, praying that this is the one that works!

The actual transfer process is much the same as it is back home. As mentioned previously I don’t need a full bladder (joy!) but other than that it’s pretty similar. The added technology is different though. The ultrasound images are clearer and there’s a little screen up on the wall that links through to the embryologists so that I can see our little embryos and exactly what the embryologists are doing with them. It’s awesome!

A bit of internal manoeuvring to get my body parts in the right place, in with dildocam to check it all (it looks good and apparently my uterus looks perfect), then in goes the first catheter. This ones a bit more rigid and will be used to guide the softer, embryo-containing catheters, to the correct place. Now the exciting part. In with our babies. The doc guides the softer catheters in and dildocam’s back for another visit to make sure everything’s all in the right spot. Then BAM! We see a spot of white on the monitor as our embies go in. The soft catheters come out and go back to the lab to make sure no embie was left behind and the doc removes everything else, confident that the procedure was a success. It was.

With Bumble and Bee safe on board I get covered in more blankets and allowed to rest for 30 minutes to relax. The image of our embies safe in their uterine home remains frozen on the ultrasound monitor so Hubby and I (and Bumble and Bee) take our first family photo. I feel elated, relieved, and only mildly worried about what the next two weeks will bring.

Thirty minutes later and we’re free to go. We get taken through our discharge paperwork (yep, more paperwork) of what to do and what not to do over the next wee while, given a printout of our Bumble & Bee ultrasound image, and we’re off. We do get to meet the donor coordinator on our way out. She’s lovely and happy for us but I get a bit tongue-tied (it’s a far too emotional day) so it’s a mildly awkward meeting. Whoops.

And that’s it. For now we’re a family of four. I only hope that it stays that way.

 

 


Day 6 – part one (written 4th February 2015)

Transfer day! Eeeeee! I’ve slept surprisingly well (maybe it’s those herbs the acupuncturist gave me the other day) and wake up at a normal hour not buzzing with stress. Amazing. The lab have told us they’ll have the PGS report to us before 9:30am and it’s somewhat of a relief knowing I’ve just over an hour to wait tops.

In reality it’s only 45 minutes as the report shows up just before nine o’clock. We’re both excited but on edge as we open the email to view the findings from our embryo testing, and learn the fate of our remaining embryos. I’ve been warned to expect a 25% drop-off from PGS as usually around quarter of embryos are found to be abnormal, and that’s just what we have. Our PGS results are below:

  • 1 x Hatching Blastocyst: Fair/Fair (no result, this embryo will be re-biopsied and frozen today)
  • 4 x Hatched Blastocyst: Good/Good (normal, 2 of which are recommended for transfer today, the remainder will be frozen)
  • 1 x Hatching Blastocyst: Good/Good (normal, recommended for freezing today)
  • 1 x Hatched Blastocyst: Good/Fair (normal, recommended for freezing today)
  • 1 x Hatched Blastocyst: Fair/Fair (normal, recommended for freezing today)

Then, on top of those tested above, we have the remaining embryos which have not been pre-implantation genetically screened but could be today if we chose:

  • 1 Hatched Blastocyst Good/Good (eligible for biopsy and/or freezing today)
  • 1 Hatching Blastocyst Good/Good (eligible for biopsy and/or freezing today)
  • 2 Hatching Blastocysts Fair/Fair (eligible for biopsy and/or freezing today)

And these ones, which aren’t up to scratch, don’t meet freezing criteria, and will be discarded today:

  • 4 Early Blastocysts: Poor
  • 2 Compacting
  • 4 Multi-cells

Now the extra decision-making comes. We can have the other four eligible embryos tested for chromosomal normality if we want to but the lab needs to know by 11am – just two hours after we receive the results email. It’s a hard decision. Testing costs a fair bit of money (US$250 per embryo) but will we regret not testing them?

After we transfer two today, we’ll have three remaining good/good embryos that have tested normal and 2 (possibly 3) lesser quality ones, is that enough? It’s at this moment I desperately want a crystal ball. If this cycle works then yes, it’s plenty, but if it doesn’t and we have to come back for another shot then maybe it would be better to have more that have passed testing up our sleeve. Even if this does work we’d like to have a decent shot at a sibling sometime in the future.

It’s a hard call to make. The perfectionist in me wants to test all four as that would be ‘neater’, and we’d know the normality of all the frozen embryos. However, the realist in me knows this is excessive. Hubby’s gut feeling was initially not to test any more, but 30 minutes later he’s not so sure. With both of us coming from extremes we decide to comprise and get the remaining two good/good quality embies tested, leaving the two fair/fair to be frozen unexamined. I promptly email the lab before we can agonise over it any further.

And now we wait. Four and a half hours to embryo-transfer. I’m super excited. It’s our wedding anniversary back home (because of the time difference it’s not our anniversary date here until tomorrow, but as we got married back in NZ I’ll take the NZ date as fact) which seems to me an auspicious date for our babies to be transferred into their uterine home. I agonise over what to wear for a while, I mean what does one wear when meeting their babies for the first time? I want to be comfy but I can’t have our babies thinking I’m a complete slob; I want them to stick around! I finally opt for my favourite underwear, some comfy ¾ trousers and a green singlet purchased on one of our fantastic New York holidays. I’m ready.

It seems so weird to me that the team at the lab know the sex of our potential children but we don’t. There’s a tiny part of me that wants to yell “tell me, just tell me!” but luckily most of me doesn’t want to know, that wants a surprise sometime in the future. Hubs and I had always said we want to find out the sex of our children before they’re born but this feels just a little too early to me. In fact, after four years of trying to get pregnant, I’m not even sure I want to find out further down the track. There really aren’t enough surprises in life as an adult so maybe it’s better to wait until the birth and allow myself that “SURPRISE!” feeling. Who knows how I’ll feel about it all in the future, let’s just get pregnant first eh!


Day 5 (written 3rd February 2015)

Today’s a better day. You know how you just have those down days where you know it’s completely irrational that you’re feeling down (I mean we’ve got some fabulous embryos for goodness sake!) but you just can’t help but feel a bit doom & gloom. I think for me it’s because we’ve tried so many different things over the last four years, have had so many failures, and it’s largely been my body’s fault. It’s sometimes hard to believe that, even with great embies, my body will actually behave and nourish those embies into viability.

But that was yesterday. Today I wake up determined to beat the blues. We decide to head north to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. I absolutely LOVE tigers and, following the acupuncturist’s advice to find something that brings me real joy, the Safari Park Tiger Trail seems just the ticket. It’s fantastic, not just the tigers but the entire park. We spend a good four hours wandering around the beautifully laid out plains and exploring all the various areas the park has to offer. Of course the tigers are my favourite and a fair bit of time is spent in that area (don’t even ask how many photos I took!). I’m happy again.

We’re enjoying our time so much we completely forget about checking emails for the lab update. About halfway through our visit it suddenly dawns on me – our update! A quick check shows it’s sitting there waiting for us. And the news is still good!

By this stage (day 5) they’re expecting to see the embryos developing into blastocysts and they start to grade them on where they sit on the blastocyst scale. Firstly they evaluate their expansion (Early blastocyst, Expanding, Expanded, Fully expanded, or Hatching blastocyst). Next they give them grades for both the inner cell mass (which will form the foetal tissue) and the outer cell mass (which will form the placenta). These are marked as Good (G), Fair (F), or Poor (P).

Our top twelve embryos (the ones that will be biopsied for Pre-implantation Genetic Screening) are classified as:

  • 1 x Hatching blastocyst (1 x G/G)
  • 9 x Expanding blastocysts (5 x G/G, 4 x G/F, 1 x F/F)
  • 2 x Early blastocysts (1 x G/G, 1 x G/F)

Our remaining 14 embryos are:

  • 4 x Early blastocysts (potential for biopsy and/or freezing tomorrow)
  • 2 x Morula (potential for biopsy and/or freezing tomorrow)
  • 4 x Compacting (potential for biopsy and/or freezing tomorrow)
  • 4 x Multicells (probably won’t make blastocysts)

We’ve only paid for 12 to be tested so once we get the biopsy results tomorrow we’ll need to make a very quick call on whether we’re happy with what we have or whether we pay to get more tested. Even if we don’t get the remainder tested we’ll still be able to freeze any that are of acceptable cryopreservation quality.

At the bottom of the email is the timing and details for our embryo transfer tomorrow. We’re locked and loaded. Some last minute decisions to be made on which embies are going back in but by this time tomorrow I’ll be pregnant until proven otherwise (PUPO) and the two week wait will begin!


Day 4 (written 2nd February 2015)

It’s day four. A day when we should be seeing our embies compacting and forming morula (a compact ball of 8-16 cells). After the morula stage our embies will hopefully form into blastocysts which is what we want them to be for both testing and transfer into me.   Our wee Bumbles are doing well and we current have:

  • 2 x early blastocyst
  • 4 x morula
  • 12 x compacting
  • 6 x 8 cell
  • 2 x 6 cell

It’s great news. Our two 6-cell embies probably won’t make it but at least some of the 8-cell embryos will hopefully progress through to later stages.

Me on the other hand, today I’m not doing so well, and I don’t even know why. I had a great sleep but, after a few days of feeling positive, am all a bit doom and gloom again today. I’m not quite at the “this isn’t going to work” stage but I’m not as sure as was over the weekend that it will. I need to snap out of it.

I did manage to have some acupuncture today though which made the physical me feel better even if I couldn’t get a handle on the mental me. This acupuncturist was recommended (and booked) by a lovely friend, and was totally different to the acupuncture I get at home. My acupuncturist at home is much harsher, for want of a better word, using stronger needles and more manipulation, a very traditional Chinese style. Today’s session was much softer – more Japanese in style as my US acupuncturist said – and more relaxing.

I normally come out of acupuncture feeling physically good (although I have to admit it’s often painful and I don’t feel better until a few hours after the session) but somewhat drained. The intense needles and manipulation can hurt sometimes and it takes a lot out of you, but you do end up feeling better for it. Today’s session was almost the opposite. Softer needles, no manipulation, and I exited the appointment feeling almost dreamy. Totally relaxed, body feeling great, with a euphoric buzz. It was fantastic. Physically better without the pain or endurance factor. I only wish this acupuncturist could come back to New Zealand with me.

Unfortunately the acupuncture didn’t do anything to regenerate the “this is totally going to work” vibe. My body is dehydrated of electrolytes, there are issues with my ‘heart blood’ and my yin is down – not a good thing when this is supposedly what opens your uterus to embrace an embryo – and this news gets me down. I’m told to get some electrolytes into me, try a herbal supplement to help calm the mind, and to do some fun silly things that bring me true joy and open my heart up to get everything flowing again.

I’m trying my hardest but I just can’t seem to make that happen today. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a brighter me.


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