Thursday, July 8, 2010

Multiples or Singleton?

Once upon a time we did In Vitro and transferred 3 embryos. Oh wait, I already told you that long drawn out story. Well, after we got pregnant, they told us that around 7 weeks we could find out how many embryos had actually implanted. We could be having triplets for all we knew. We moved out to New Jersey when I was just about 4 1/2 weeks along so I got online and found some random doctor under my insurance list to go to. I made the appointment for an ultrasound on the day I would be exactly 7 weeks. When I was about 6 weeks and 5 days, Trey decided he didn't want to wait the extra two days so I called our doctor to see if we could come in that day. I called over and over and every time got a machine saying they were closed. It was a Tuesday so I didn't really believe the machine. Being impatient as we are, we drove over to the doctor's office to call their bluff. They were, indeed, closed. Dangit.

So we drove back to our apartment and I got online to check the insurance list for more potential doctors. I called the first one but they said we couldn't come in until the next day because our insurance would have to be verified. Click. I called the next one and the receptionist said we could come in right away, no insurance needed, just pay upfront. You know if you can get in to see a doctor that day they probably aren't your best option, but we were too anxious to care.

We pulled up to the South Jersey Women's Center and went through the first set of doors. Weird, we had to be buzzed in through the next set. Oh well, the place smells gross and not at all doctor-like but I go up to the front window and pay for the ultrasound. The receptionist hands me a cup to pee in. "Is there a cabinet to put it in once I'm done?" "No, just walk it back out and give it to me, " she says. Gross. Lucky for me there's no one else in the waiting room. Nobody wants to see someone else holding a cup of fresh, warm pee. I do my thing, hand her the cup, and sit down, waiting to be called back.

As Trey and I are sitting in the waiting room, we're looking around and noticing this isn't a normal doctor's office. There are posters all over with Obama's face on them, promoting change. There are pro-abortion decals on the receptionist's window and "free to choose" stickers all over the place. Have I been sheltered living in Utah for 8 years? Is this a normal doctor's office?

The nurse calls my name and we both get up to walk back together. The nurse stops Trey and says, "Sorry sir, you're not allowed back here." Oh okay, maybe they'll come get him when they're ready? She takes me to another empty waiting room and I start texting Trey..."What is this crazy place? I am alone back here, go ask the receptionist if you can come back..."

Meanwhile, Trey has made conversation with a random man in the waiting room, asking him questions like, "So is that your wife back there? Are you guys finding out what you're having?" Normal questions potential dads might ask each other in a normal waiting room. He gets my text and goes up to the front desk.

He asks the lady, "Don't I get to be back there with my wife?"
"No sir, I'm sorry."
"But in the movies, the guy is standing next to his wife and they get to see their baby on the screen for the first time together, right? So why can't I go back"
"Sir, due to the nature of what we do here, we have to respect the privacy of the women back there and so that's why men are not allowed back."
Trey notices the decals on the window and sees a piece of paper taped to the wall which is in memory of some doctor who was murdered, who was still doing 3rd trimester abortions.
"Wait," Trey says, "Is this an abortion place?" loud enough for the 4-5 people in the waiting room to hear him.
"Yes sir."
Oh dear, Trey takes his seat.

I've now been called back to my room and am completely second guessing this whole thing. I have the darkest, sickest feeling in my gut. I don't remember a smile on any of the faces I'd seen. The doctor and nurse come in, completely expressionless. The doctor is rude; he can't understand why I wouldn't be using my IVF dr. for this ultrasound. Clearly sir, the insurance list didn't make a side note to tell me what this place really was. Can you just do the ultrasound and let me go? So he does the ultrasound. I have to ask him how many are in there and he just says, "One. You're about 6-7 weeks. Good luck." And out they both go. Wow, I think I dressed in 15 seconds and was out just as quickly as they were.

I walked out to Trey and held up one finger to him. We both smiled and got the H-E-double hockey sticks outta there.

So creepy. Glad I'm still pregnant.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Vitro Part 3

After our first attempt at in vitro had failed, we decided we didn't want to waste any time before trying again. Every year, we move away for the summer for Trey's job so we really only had 2-3 months before we'd be leaving again. We spoke with the nurse and got things underway to be in the April grouping for the next round of IVF.

I felt extremely nervous from the beginning. I second guessed my gut feelings and intuition. With the first IVF cycle, I felt good throughout the whole thing. I felt like I was pregnant. My own intuition had failed me. This second time around, I wanted to really know if it was the right thing to do so we wouldn't be throwing away so much money again. I had more negative feelings this time, but I know it was coming from a more pessimistic version of myself, the bitter side of me that didn't think we would ever get pregnant. If it was up to me, we probably would've waited a while to try again. I felt like we were spending so much money and my stupid body was just going to fail me again. I relied completely on Trey to make this decision and without hesitation, he said the money didn't matter and we would try again and it would work.

As much as I didn't love the shots before, I was actually anxious to start them and get things going. I documented so much of the first IVF with pictures and whatnot, but the second time I did nothing. I didn't want to jinx it or have memories of it not working. My biggest fear this time around was actually a new shot I'd have to be taking everyday in my upper butt and the needle was much bigger than my usual half inchers. This would be a thicker, longer needle and if I did get pregnant, I'd have to continue it for 9 weeks into my pregnancy. Yikes.

Things were much better from the beginning and to make this story shorter, I'm going to jump ahead. When the retrieval was all said and done, we went in for the embryo transfer. This time, our doctor's lab was complete so we only had to drive 10 minutes instead of all the way to Boise. They brought us back and showed us what we had to work with...4 healthy embryos this time! Though there was a risk of multiples, I felt good about implanting 3 and nobody was going to change my mind about that. So they put in 3 and we froze the 4th and went home to rest for a few days.

Luckily for me, my mom was in town and made it so I never had to move a muscle. She cooked for us and cleaned when she got bored. It was wonderful. But she also had to wait out the 10 days with us. I hate that wait. By the first night, I had cramps already. Of course, I cried. This was a bad sign last time around and I was sure it was menstrual cramps this time too. Trey calmed me down and tried to help me stay positive. Every day I tried to notice symptoms, but it was so hard because I was on so many different drugs that had so many side effects, I didn't have a clue what was going on with my body. If I ever felt any bit of hope, I never told Trey because I didn't want him to get his hopes up. Around day 6, I remember sitting on my bed at night and telling Trey that I didn't think it had worked, I didn't think I was pregnant. I still, to this day, don't know if he was just faking it for my sake or if he really believed it, but he told me that night that he thought I was pregnant and I needed to stay positive. I didn't believe him so I dropped the conversation.

The next few days I was more exhausted than I had ever felt in my life. I took naps during the day and was in bed by 10:00...not my style at all. My mom and Trey would give each other suspicious looks as if they knew I was pregnant and I would just roll my eyes. Blame it on the drugs, don't get your hopes up, I'd tell myself. On day 8, I went in for a blood test and then had to return again on day 10 for another. I went in by myself both times and on the 10th day, the nurses were very giddy with me. They asked how I was feeling and asked if I'd taken a pregnancy test yet. I told them no way, I did that last time and it had backfired. I wasn't about to do it again. After nurse Brenda took my blood, she kept asking me all these questions. So I finally said, "Do you know something?" and she said smiling, "Maybe..." I said, "Does that mean the first test was positive?" She smiled and told me that yes it was. I said, "So unless something crazy happens, this second test will be positive too?" And again, she told me yes. I couldn't believe it. I drove to my sister's right after and didn't tell anyone. I was skeptical and wanted to hear the official phone call later that day before revealing anything. I did, however, call Trey and let him know. He was with the contractor working on one of our rental properties, so that guy was officially the first one to find out we were pregnant. How special!

Once again, the doctor's office took forever to call us with the results. Trey ended up calling them and asked Brenda if they had any news for us. She told him to hold on and came back a few minutes later. I have the whole conversation recorded because this time, I knew it was going to be good news. When she got back on the phone, she said, "Well...I have really good news for you. Yes, yes you are. It is definitely positive." On the recording, you then hear Trey screaming and laughing really loud. She went on to tell us some numbers and how great everything looked because those numbers were so high. We thanked her and hung up the phone. I think I remember Trey high-fiving me, kissing me, and hugging me. I can't believe I didn't cry at this point. But I sure did once we started making the phone calls. I called my mom first, who was over at my sister Jenna's house. I guess Jenna had a bunch of her in-laws over so when I told my mom the news, everyone over there started crying too. Called Ashley...cried again. And on and on with all the phone calls.

The road was long and definitely hard, but we are so happy now and closer as a couple than we ever would have been had we gotten pregnant right away. Trey has been the rock in our marriage by always staying positive and never once making me feel like I was to blame for the infertility. It was hard on both of us, but he was able to see the bigger picture and knew that we would get pregnant someday. I love him and I am sure glad he was right.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In Vitro Part 2

I was scheduled to start my shots December 31st. I remember that day because my baby sister gave birth to her son that afternoon. This time around, I was cleared to begin. Have you ever had a needle in your hand and been told to stab yourself in the stomach with it? How bout 4 times a day? That was a little nerve racking for me. Some women have their husbands do it but I didn't want to have to plan my 4 shots a day around Trey's schedule. After a few days of shots in the stomach, I had to switch to my thighs because my stomach was so sore. After my thighs got sore, I'd switch back to my stomach. It was only 2 weeks though, I knew I could handle it. Here's what I was working with...

After about a week and a half had gone by, we had an appointment for an ultrasound to see how the drugs had affected my ovaries. The drugs were follicle stimulating hormones, designed to produce as many eggs as they could muster up for that one cycle. With a normal woman on a normal cycle without drugs, you'd produce one a month. This is the appointment where you get excited because you get to see how many eggs you'll get to work with.

The nurse was the one who did my ultrasound, but after about 3 minutes with us she left the room. Probably not a good sign, I thought. She came back and told us that she had called the doctor to come over and check for himself because she wasn't seeing much activity in there. Our doctor showed up about 10 minutes later and confirmed that we only had one egg to do this upcoming in vitro with. He explained how slim the odds were with just one...not only does that one egg have a 60% chance of fertilizing but then it's got just a 50% chance of surviving the 3 day development and then after that a 33% chance of implanting and getting pregnant. Or in other words, it would take a major miracle for this to work. Trey and I were praying for that miracle and did not want to give up on that one little egg so we decided to continue forward.

For the actual egg retrieval and embryo transfer, we had to travel to Boise because our doctor's lab was not complete in Utah. Day 1 was the egg retrieval, where they put me out for half an hour, removed the egg and sent us on our way to wait it out for 24 hours to see if the egg fertilized. We tried to stay busy while we waited so we wouldn't stress and drive ourselves crazy. That, however, is hard to do in Boise, ID. The following day, we waited all morning for a call and never got one. We continued to wait until 3:00 when we just got too impatient and Trey decided to call them. They didn't answer so we actually drove over to the doctor's office to find out for ourselves. I made Trey go in to get the news because I didn't want to get bad news in front of anyone. I waited in the car for about 10 minutes and then looked up as Trey came running out of the office shooting his arms up and down in the air. It had worked! That one egg made it through the 60% and fertilized. Now we just had 2 more days to kill, waiting to see if it could survive and be a good embryo.

Two days of boredom later, we went back to the doctor for the embryo transfer. They hadn't told us if our embryo made it and I was so nervous. A nurse came out to the waiting room and gave me a Valium to take. That was my answer...they wouldn't give me this drug unless we were going through with the transfer. They brought us back and showed us a picture of our embryo that was the best it could have been. All these miracles were happening right before us and I could not believe that this was really going on. Luckily for us, my parents drove down from Washington the night before to hang out with us so they got to be in the room during the transfer. We all joked that not many grandparents are in the room when their grandchildren are conceived.

After the transfer, I had to take it easy for a few days so we drove back to Utah immediately. We then had the long wait of 10 days to find out if we were pregnant or not. I had read all about pregnancy symptoms, trying to know my body before those 10 days, which was probably a mistake looking back. Every time I felt anything different, I would think, oh man this is it, I've got to be pregnant. Trey and I both felt that so many miracles had happened to get us this far that it just wouldn't make sense if we weren't pregnant. On day 8, I decided to take a pregnancy test to confirm my feelings. It came out negative and I was devastated, but still had hope since it was a little early. We went to church a few hours later and I remember this moment so vividly. We were singing a hymn and in the song the line read, "For courage to accept Thy will..." After that I broke down. I had just had my own confirmation that I was not pregnant. I knew it. We left church soon after because I could not stop crying and did not want others to see me like that.

Two days later, we waited around all morning for the phone call to tell us whether or not we were pregnant. Even though I didn't think I was, I still had a tiny ounce of hope that I was wrong. All of our friends and family knew we were getting the news this day so they were also anxious to hear. After 1:30pm, we got impatient and Trey called in to get the results. They told him they would call between 2-3. So we waited a little while longer and then my phone rang. I handed it to Trey to answer. I didn't want to be the one to get the bad news. Trey answered and the woman explained she was calling from the doctor's office to give us our results. I remember her saying "Unfortunately, your blood tests were negative. I'm sorry." Trey held it together to talk to her a bit, but I was already sobbing next to him and as soon as he hung up, he joined me.

We cried together for maybe 30 minutes and then decided we should probably let our friends and family know. I think we both sent out mass text messages because neither one of us felt like talking about it. That was a very hard day for both of us. We were back to square one and didn't understand why it was so hard for us when so many others got pregnant so easily. We spent the afternoon together, crying off and on and then went to Taco Bell for some comfort food. I remember holding back tears while I sat and ate. I also remember seeing the word "fart" etched in pencil on the table we were eating at. And that put a smile on my face and I knew we were going to be okay. Look close in the pink stripe and you'll see it too.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3.

Monday, July 5, 2010

In Vitro Part 1

I must admit, I am a very impatient person. After 3 months of trying to get pregnant, I called up my doctor to see if he thought something was wrong or had any suggestions. We tried every trick in the book and were still unsuccessful. We started doing some testing after 5 months and everything came back normal. We tried artificial insemination. We tried fertility drugs. Still nothing. "Keep trying. Sometimes it just takes some people longer than others." I heard this statement all the time. "It will happen when it's supposed to happen." That one, too.

After Trey and I spent about 18 months trying to get pregnant on our own, I finally went to see a doctor I'd been referred to. I had two separate blood tests throughout the month and after the results came back, they scheduled me to come in again. I could tell as soon as the doctor walked in that something wasn't right. She sat down right next to me and showed me some of my results, which I didn't fully understand. When I asked her to explain, she basically told me that I might be 25 on the outside, but my ovaries were like a 45-50yr old woman's who is nearing menopause. Awesome. Then she said, "The only chance you have of getting pregnant is through in vitro." I took the news bravely and drove home to where my mom, sister and friend were waiting. I walked through the door and they asked me how it went. I said, "Not good," and instantly, the tears started to fall. I guess it took the drive home from the doctor for things to really sink wasn't going to be as I'd always planned. Is it ever? I really had no idea what in vitro (IVF) entailed, but if it could get me pregnant, I was up for it.

The doctor referred me to a fertility specialist, who I made an appointment with immediately. Without doing any testing, he scheduled us for the next cycle of IVF. Two months of preparation went by and the day I was supposed to start my shots came. I went in to get an ultrasound to make sure everything was good to go first, which they should have done from the beginning. They found two large cysts on my ovaries. In other words, in vitro cancelled. I held my composure until I got in the car, but started crying as soon as I shut my door. Why do I always go to these appointments alone?? I drove home completely discouraged. I had already calculated my due date based off this IVF working and now it wasn't even going to happen.

Two weeks later, I had another ultrasound by the fertility specialist's partner where he confirmed that I most likely had endometriosis at its worst stage and would need surgery to remove it. He made me feel better by letting me know that 60% of women who are trying for a baby get pregnant on their own after this surgery. Leave it to me to be the 40% that doesn't. We tried on our own for 7 months, though halfway through that time I was pretty positive the endometriosis was back already.

When the 7 months was up, we took a referral from my good friend, Shea and went to meet that doctor. What a difference between this guy and the other! If you ever need a fertility specialist referral, I can definitely tell you who to go to and who to stay away from. This time around, they scheduled me for an ultrasound right away and of course, found endometrial cysts on the ol' ovaries again. They weren't as large as the time that called for surgery so I was put on a very high dose of birth control to combat them. In a month, we would reevaluate and figure out when we could try another stab at IVF.

After the month was up, cysts were still present but much smaller so the doctor felt much better about that. He told me that the endometriosis had most likely depleted much of my egg supply so we might not get as many embryos as a normal couple but we would sure try our best for the most that we could get. In Vitro was scheduled for January 13, 2010 in Boise, ID.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Evidence I'm not in Utah anymore...

Whenever we move away for the summers, it's usually to a big city and near the hood (which I don't think exists in Utah). I was thinking this morning about all the many differences that we get to experience whenever we move.

You know you moved east of Utah when...

1. You're sitting in sacrament and you hear a cell phone ringing and the woman answers it and loudly tells her caller, "You know I'm in church. Don't call me when I'm in church." This has happened twice now.

2. You're waiting at a stoplight and if you don't already start moving before the light turns green you get honked at immediately. In Utah, everyone is a bad driver so the person behind you probably doesn't notice the light changed either because they are too busy texting.

3. You can eat at Panera Bread whenever you want. And I do. Chipotle Chicken Sandwich if you ever get the chance.

4. There are more than a handful of minorities. In fact, sometimes I'm the minority.

5. You accidentally schedule your first ultrasound at an abortion clinic. More details to come on this one.

6. You count down the days until you are back in Utah.

7. You're getting in your car in the middle of Brooklyn and some guy wants to know if you're really from Utah. He's never met anyone in his life from there. I think he's the one that needs to get out more, but somehow the Utahn becomes the alien.

8. Costco doesn't even offer the Polish Sausage Dog. You have to get a plain old hot dog, which is still delicious, but pales in comparison.

9. Squirt does not exist. Just lots of Mellow Yellow in its place.

10. Everyone has a dog. In Utah, everyone has kids.

Hello Teeny Embryos

After 3 years of trying, 1 surgery, 2 rounds of In Vitro and 16 weeks of daily shots and other fun drugs, we are FINALLY pregnant. It was definitely a long road to get here, but now that it's here all the rough stuff doesn't seem so was all worth it. And lucky enough for us, we'll probably have to do In Vitro each time we want to have another child so it's nice to know that it can be done. I'll probably do a post all on it's own to describe my experience with the In Vitro process. It really is a miracle how it all works.

Not many parents get to see their baby at this stage in it's life, but when you're lucky enough to be the proud parents of that little 8-celled blastocyst, it's the most beautiful thing in the world. This picture right here is just an example of what we have stuck on our fridge back in Utah. Isn't it cute?

We are so grateful for all the love and support we have received from family, friends and even complete strangers. I heard of so many people I didn't even know who were praying for us and who cried when they found out we were pregnant. I am amazed at how many people pretty much wanted this just as much as we did. Thank you everyone for being there for us when it was hard and for sharing in our excitement now.

We are 12 weeks along now and due January 14, 2011. So far I feel like I've been pretty lucky with the pregnancy symptoms. I like to think I deserve it after all the other stuff I've had to go through. However, with the glimpses I have seen of the sickness, I think I prefer the daily shots in the bum.