Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All Is Calm - All Is Bright

This year has been one of the most joyful and peaceful Christmas seasons in my adult life.

I have loved having my family close and it's been beyond amazing to have so much hope and happiness all around. Magic has been everywhere and it has felt really nice to just sit back and soak it all in this month. Truthfully, I can't bear the thought of it ending.

So it won't.

I had a really good conversation with Dr. H last Friday night when he called to tell me that he had to unexpectedly leave town due to the illness of his aging father. Unfortunately, he would not be able to perform our transfer but he was kind to call and we had a great conversation about what would happen from that point forward. He had just briefed his associate, my former Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), and although he would be on a plane when the report came out from the embryologist, he promised to get a briefing as soon as he landed on what took place. I very much recognize that this isn't what most people experience with their RE and I feel immensely blessed to be in such capable and professional hands.

On Saturday morning Mr. Thompson and I went in for our 3-day consult with his replacement Dr. B and the Embryologist, Dr. R. With 7 of the 16 fertilized eggs being "excellent" & "good" quality embryos and the rest being "fair" or "poor"...we had some important decisions to make.

Transfer at Day-3? Wait and see what made it to Day-5?

Last time we only came out with 2 Day-5 Blastocysts despite so many eggs... so this time we were understandably a little more conservative. We went back and forth because different doctors do different things and certainly have different opinions based upon different experience.

Dr. B had an opinion and would have waited until Day-5... but I kept asking what Dr. H would do.

If we went with a Day-3 transfer, Dr. B would have transferred 3 embryos... but I kept asking what Dr. H would do.

In the end we decided to transfer 2 embryos on Day-3 and freeze the remaining 5 good ones so we could have future options.

Future options???

Yeah, that was Mr. Thompson's decision and it nearly floored me when he said it in the doctor's office. You heard me right, Mr. Thompson wants future options.

After all, it's what Dr. H would do.

So we transferred two embryos - a 12 cell and an 8 cell. With a wink, Dr. R (Embyrologist) told us we were doing exactly the right thing (and oh by the way he said, Dr. H would NOT have transferred 3!).

The best part was that while we waited after the nurse prepped me for the transfer, Dr. R opened the door to the embryo lab in an obvious display of holiday spirit and walked us through all of our petri dishes and step-by-step of the assisted hatching of the chosen two. He put his microscope on a TV monitor for me, and from the lab (a few steps from the operating room and where I could see him) we watched the whole process on the big screen from his microscope. The Assisted Hatching was way cool and I can't tell you how many times the groovy Dr. R said, "Isn't this righteous?!" like a giddy five-year old on Christmas morning.

After he was done and while we were waiting for Dr. B to come in so Dr. R could suck them up into the catheter for transfer (which we also later saw as well), I asked Dr. R about his new incubators which Dr. H had told me about over the phone. That was when Dr. R did something that surprised us all by inviting Mr. Thompson to come check it out. The nurse's jaw dropped and she incredulously whispered, "I haven't even been allowed back there in that lab!". Mr. Thompson got a first hand look and saw the new gazillion-dollar incubators, which are some of the first of their kind in the US. They keep a pretty tight control on the lab so this was cool. (Don't worry Mr. Thompson was "suited up" and sterile.)

Our transfer ended up going without a hitch with Dr. B so now we wait...

In a perfect world this is what we are waiting for:

1 Day Past Transfer (DPT) - The embryo continues to grow and develop, turning from a 6-8 cell embryo into a morula (not sure how this works with ours because they were already a 12 and 8 cell...)
2DPT - The cells of the morula continue to divide, developing into a blastocyst
3DPT - The blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell
4DPT - The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus (Today!)
5DPT - The blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation
6DPT - Implantation continues
7DPT - Implantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop
8DPT - Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream
9DPT - Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted
10DPT - Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted
12DPT - Levels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy (January 3!)

Crazy, huh?!

As far as those future options, we froze the remaining 5 excellent/good quality embryos and let the remaining "fair" and "poor" continue in the lab to see what would happen. Dr. R called this morning with a report and we had another 3 "fair/poor" embryos change their mind and make it to a Day-6 Blastocyst, so those went into the freezer on Christmas as well.

Wow! 2 transferred and 8 frozen. Can you believe it?

All is calm. All is bright.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

P.S. You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

After almost 6 years of marriage and 7 years of working together/"hanging out"/dating, Mr. Thompson kinda-sorta wimped out on me.

The nurse has graciously given me my progesterone bum shots for the last few days but it was up to Mr. Thompson last night. As we say in the West, she "handed him the reins" (as in the reins to the horse).

But as I laid on the bed with my backside exposed...singing Christmas carols to take my mind off of the pain that was sure to come....Mr. Thompson finally announced that he just couldn't do it.

 Not with a needle that big.


With more than a little panic, he asked if I could call our elderly neighbor to do it. I said "no".

He asked if I could call my friend a few houses down. Since she is very pregnant and the last thing she needs is to be doing is jabbing big needles into my even bigger butt, I said "no".

So he asked if I could call one of my nurses from work. Since nobody at work is supposed to know about this (yeah right!) I said "no".

My friend that lives 30 minutes away? No.

My sister who lives over an hour in the other direction?  No. (her exact words were "hell no" after I at least asked...)

And so he finally took the reins and did it... but like Ralphie in the Christmas Story, I think he cried the whole time he was beating me up.

Which is why as a consultation prize I got a Christmas Story Leg Lamp night light.



Sure beats a lollipop, right?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

I love Sundays.

I was able to take a long winter's nap this afternoon which felt blissfully good.  Especially considering everything that my body is going through right now. 

We ask a lot of our bodies during IVF and it certianly takes it's toll.  Kim over at the A.R.T. of Making Babies recently summed it up perfectly from a reproductive point of view..."shutdown, turn on…grow my eggs, all of them really fast. But stop, don’t grow too big, or ovulate for that matter, just get big and ripe and hangout until I tell you so. Ok, I am sending someone in to take you away from your natural environment and put you in a dish, get along with the sperm, now ya hear? Ok you're going back in, get ready, I am going to slide you down this tube. Now take all of these hormones to ensure you have a nice cushy uterine lining and also make sure you can support a pregnancy, in case the embryos decide to implant. Not to mention these drugs which will thin your blood, these will prevent clotting, oh and these will shut your immune system down, so you don’t attack the embryos."

So I guess it is no wonder that I'm feeling a little uncomfortable today.  Yesterday's ultrasound/blood draw went well...but they said "one more day". Today's ultrasound/blood draw went better...but they said "one more day".

And so I guess we are waiting one more day.  Hurry up.  And wait. 

I'll go back in the morning and hopefully things will go well so I'll do the "trigger" shot tomorrow night that will tell my ovaries "go!" for retrieval on Wednesday. 

Speaking of ovaries...they are huge and UNCOMFORTABLE!  I'll spare you the medical mumbo-jumbo but today they stopped counting at 30 follicles (eggs) on my right ovary.  Most of the follicles (eggs) are measuring between 15mm-17mm and ideally they want them to be 18mm-20mm so things look great when you consider that most are of the same size right now (not too big - not too small - and growing at the same pace).  I hate this high number though because it's all about quality...not quantity!

Sigh.

To make us all feel a little better I'm going to share another bit of favorite holiday merriness...


Eggnog. 

While you are sitting next to that Christmas tree relaxing (after an hour of yoga in the dark - go Jess!) and pondering the greatness of all things holiday/hope related...sip some delicious eggnog.  To make it extra-good, here is my special recipe:
  1. Make a trip to Pier 1 Imports and buy a really great mug.  I started this tradition 16 years ago with special friends in NYC.  On the most difficult of days in Brooklyn and Queens when everyone's problems became our own (such is the life of work in the inner-city)...my friends and I would swing by Pier 1 to lift our spirits with a great new mug.  (Thanks Noelle for the one pictured above!) 
  2. Come home and turn on all muted lighting (tree, tin star, Sentsy candles, gas fireplace, Christmas Story Leg Lamp, etc.)
  3. Retore your Santa candles (pictured above) to their rightful place (more on that later...)
  4. Dock your iPhone to Pandora's Christmas Traditions
  5. Pour yourself a glass of eggnog (I go 1/2 egg nog, 1/2 milk)
  6. Add what you will.  (For me, I prefer a little vanilla and nutmeg. Yum!)
  7. Sit down, put your feet up and think about all that great snow that is piling up outside...
 
Cheers.
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So Let It Be Said, So Let It Be Written

Dear New Phlebotomist-girl: 

You should have listened to me when I told you the the left arm, center vein is the only one that will work.  You can't feel it - but it's there.  Deep.  But don't feel bad - I'm used to blown veins by now.  I've just never had six at one time...
Sincerly,  Me


Beyond the minor battle wounds, I'm happy to report that everything else checked out at today's 4th monitoring (blood draw/ultrasound)  appointment.  Estrodial is 548 today so eggs are on track.  25 follicles counted on the left and 11 on the right (the goal is at least two - so yeah, you do the math).  The biggest follicle is measuring 13.85mm and the majority are around 10-11mm, which is good because everything is at a similar growth stage (that means more mature eggs at the same time hopefully).  I'll start the antagonist shot tonight which will mean 3 daily shots beginning tonight.

(For those of you new to the IVF process... you take "Stimulation" shots for approximately the first seven days to grow follicles (eggs) at a rapid pace....and then add an "Anatagonist" shot so the eggs can mature without premature ovulation.)

Mr. Thompson is out of town this week and I have to be honest, although I miss him... I think I may be a little more gentle at giving shots as I don't wind up like I'm throwing a baseball before the needle strike.  Once I get over the fear of actually pushing the needle into my own belly, I surprisingly do pretty well.  (but shhhh don't tell because this is my way of including Mr. Thompson in the process, which he loves).  The progesterone shots in the bum are an entirely different matter however.  Not looking forward to those which will start next week.


*****


On the merrier side of things...

I seriously do have a fetish with beautiful hand-blown glass ornaments.  Love. Them. All.

But I am very specific in my selection.

 There are however, six exceptions currently on our tree...

 The year of love.  This ornament was given to me by my mother as a wedding gift and is the only non-glass ornament we have. (2007)


 The year of healing.  Mia was born 2 days before Colton and I just haven't had the heart to switch a tiny glass pony for our glass Chocolate Lab. When everything was so dark - Mia made it all bright again.  (2008)

 
 The year of the bagpipes.  This is the year I finally started lessons - a lifelong dream.  (2009)

 The year of the soldier.  My little brother joined the United States Marine Corp and my entire family made memories in California when we attended his boot camp graduation - parents and all eight children. I love my family but I'm especially fond (and extreamly proud) of Little Brother.  (2010) 

 The year of eternity.  Mr. Thompson and I went to our holy temple and became sealed together for time and all eternity.  It was a wonderful time to recommit to our vows and commitments.  (2011)

The year of doing what you love and loving what you do.  This is the year that I made a career change back into Emergency Services, and Mr. Thompson gave up his sleep as firecalls started coming in all night.  I'm so glad that he supports me in everything that I do and love... both personally and professionally.  (2012)


I looked for a test tube ornament for this year but couldn't find one.  If we are really lucky - maybe I'll have a good reason to find one by next Christmas 2013.

Cheers.

I Am Like A Star Shining Brightly...

It's 3am and I'm sitting here by the tree listening to Celtic Women. (side note: in my next life, I'm going to be a River Dancer.)

Mr. Thompson is out of town this week with work which is probably why I can't sleep.  I get used to him leaning his fully body weight on me at night, which really bothers me...until he isn't there doing it.  Funny how that works.

So here I sit.  Pondering.

Out loud.

IVF Update:  At our Suppression Check last Tuesday (Dec 4th) my uterus lining was too thick (7mm) so Dr. H prescribed a progesterone shot (two actually) to get my cycle started and (hopefully) clear things out.  My lining should have been less than 5 mm at that point, so we opted to delay things a few days while they tried to get this thing kicked off right keeping a fresh cycle option open.    The nurses tag teamed me (both taking a side so there was just one giant poke) and boy-oh-boy do those intramuscular progesterone butt shots hurt!  Soooo not looking forward to the day when Mr. Thompson is on the end of that big stick again.

Dr. H really didn't care it it worked or not because he is still not totally convinced that I'll have a fresh transfer based upon my history with OHSS (hyper-stimulation).  If you recall, it was really bad last year and almost landed me in the hospital with a pretty serious condition (and reminds me that I still didn't buy the extra insurance. Duh!).  So his goal of this cycle is good eggs and to keep me away from hyper-stimulation in the process - a difficult task considering how bad my PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) still is...but my goal is most definitely a fresh transfer so I needed my uterus to play nice.

Thankfully the shots did the trick and all is well.

I started stimulation injections on Friday, Dec 7th and at my 3rd blood draw/ultrasound yesterday everything is charting on course.  Dr. H has really invested a lot of time into fine-tuning my daily injection cocktail and I have to confess - I love that man.  I'm his only "in-process" patient right now (because he opted to do me independently from the "batch") which means that I could single-handedly screw up his Christmas (for that I am infinitely grateful!).  He is really invested into making this work and has gone above and beyond, multiple times over.  I think that I am his most challenging patient and luckily for me, he's Japanese and loves a good challenge!  Seriously, I'm grateful for such an amazing doctor who is one of the nation's best.

My estrodial blood draws have gone well to this point measuring 24 (1st), 92 (2nd), 259 (3rd) so things are good with the eggs...but I do have 22 follicles on the left and 18 on the right.  No es bueno for hyper-stimulation so we are watching it closely.

As of today, our expected retrieval is next Tuesday, Dec 18th...with a transfer on Sunday, Dec 23rd... and a (positive!) pregnancy test on Friday, Jan 4th.

Fingers (toes and everything else) crossed.

****

Since my obvious goal is to be a bright, shiny Christmas Star...today's bit of holiday goodness comes to you compliments of my favorite shop in Old Town San Diego.  It is the most delightful little tin shop, owned an operated by an old Spanish lady who is the most exquisite craftsman.  The benefit of Little Brother being stationed at Camp Pendleton is that that I get to visit and buy beautiful tin stars... (and if I could figure out how to incorporate tin cactus into my home decor, I'd have a house full of those too).
 Cheers.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In The Quiet Of Time

"Mary kept all of these things and pondered them in her heart." - Luke 2:19

I love that scripture.

Out of all the verses in all of the books, this one is a favorite.  It is a sentence that has always spoken to me in a simple - yet powerful - way.

After all that Mary was presented with in finding out that she, a virgin, would bear the Christ child... what did she do?  She "kept all of these things and pondered them in her heart."

I think that my reaction would have been to question the angel in greater detail, shout the news from a rooftop (or blog), or curl up in a fetal position and cry.

Obviously, I have a lot to learn from Mary.


I think about that every morning at about 5:30am when I wake up and sneak downstairs, turning on soft Christmas music so I can sit next to my tree for an hour or so as dawn arrives.  Pondering.

I think about it again every evening, as I come home and jab a few needles into my abdomen, recovering with a cuddle on the couch as Mr. Thompson and I watch dusk fall.  Pondering.


And what do I ponder?

Probably a few of the same things that Mary thought about in her own quiet, peaceful moments.  Namely, the goodness of my life, God's great love for me and what has to be a very specific plan for my journey - no matter the IVF outcome.

Different - yet same.

My quiet, peaceful moments have come as I've hung stockings...

and garland...


and treasured hand-blown glass ornaments... (still working on some of the windows)


Everywhere.

It's come as I've baked cookies and visited neighbors.  As I've made dinner dates and scheduled Santa visits. 

Instead of lamenting on fear, disappointment or sadness like holiday's past,..this year I am more fully committing to the enjoyment of every sight, sound, smell, taste and touch during this - the most wonderful time of the year. 

After all, even an inch of space taken up by fear, sadness or worry, is an inch of space where faith, happiness and peace can not reside.  I've been pondering that.

And I'm determined to take my space back.

I have every reason to hope.  So why spend it being distracted by the unnecessary chatter of life? Especially when that unnecessary chatter distracts me or drags me down.

Not.  Gonna.  Do.  It.

Not this Christmas.  Not with this freshly cleared uterus.

This month, I've traded in Face.book for person-to-person contact.  No contest in which one is more meaningful.  I had an actual conversation with a neighbor over cookies; I sent a gift card to help an old high school buddy who is adopting a cancer family this Christmas in memory of his sister who passed away to cancer last month, including a note that told him how much his friendship has meant over 22 years and how proud I am of him; I rang up a friend I haven't spoken to in 15 years but who I instant message with a "love and miss you" every week or so.  I love FB but I realize that quite possibly I've exchanged quality for quantity - meaningful for quick.  And oh yeah - I waste a lot of time making that trade-off.

This month, instead of blogging - I've been journaling.  Under the tree. With an actual pen and paper...uncensored and authentic.  At minimum, it's been more gratitude-inducing.  At maximum, I feel my Aunt Retty smiling.  She became a kindred spirit when I stumbled upon her old journal entry that was written 100 years ago.  As I read about her infant loss, it helped heal me of my own.  Someday - I hope that I can do that for someone that I don't know, yet love.  Chances are, that won't happen through anything I write on Viva la Vida. 

This month, instead of television - Mr. Thompson and I snuggle.  A lot.  Like newleyweds.  And I must say...as a result, I've accomplished in 8 days what I couldn't do in 6 years.  I've finally taught him to love the Greats - Bing, Frank, Andy, Nat.  And even... Kenny Rogers (who in fairness had a good Christmas album in the 80's).  For Mr. Thompson who has had a great allergy to Christmas and all things Christmas related (thank you bad childhood)... you have no idea what has been accomplished.

There was no fight as we put up the Christmas tree this year.  He willingly (dare I say, with excitement) got us in the car, paid the money for a tree (not nary a peep about "waste") and even threw in fresh garland, and a door wreath for good measure when Lil' A and I batted our eyes.  When we got home he didn't forget that it was on top of the SUV and then yell at us after that great scraping sound of wrecked tree and garage door.  He didn't even throw his chain saw on the ground when it wouldn't start.  Instead, he took said chainsaw over to the neighbor's house to help with their stump removal because for the first time ever, it started on. the. first. try. 

Clark Grizwald has arrived. (for which and Lil' A gave me two thumbs up behind his back.)

These are the things that I'm pondering this year.

I have every reason to hope, celebrate, sing and praise... and I'm throwing myself into it fully. Without distraction.  I don't know where that leaves this blog because I'll be honest, it feels kind of nice to just let it all "be".

To keep all of these things and ponder them in my heart.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Post Script

Having a baby shouldn't be this hard.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

S.O.S. (Save Our Ship)

Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.

Just found out that my medications are $949.67.  Payment due immediately. 

In 2011 the same meds, using the same insurance, were $198.00.

Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.
Not going to panic.  Not going to cry.

Totally going to panic.  Totally going to cry.  (What was that about keeping calm and carrying on?)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Que Sera, Sera

The irony of this day is killing me.

For the last week I've been psychologically preparing myself for a canceled IVF cycle.  Keeping things positive with alternate plans, I decided to go home for an extended Thanksgiving weekend, spend time with my family, and unplug with the mindset that whatever will be...will be.

(queue Doris Day's Que Sera, Sera)

A push back is not ideal but over the last month all the signs have pointed in that direction so I've become 100% fine with that as I've worked on alternate plans.  I've been relaxed and conditioning myself to the probability that this cycle will most likely get cancelled and we'll have to wait at least another few months for my body to recover more.  

No problem.

I packed my bags to NYC, absolutely prepared that I would be traveling tomorrow to complete my 3 week management rotation for HUR Sandy.  I told associates in Washington DC that I would let them know my confirmed availability this afternoon and I've gone about my business.

I guess that I should have clarified that timeline a little more because as I pulled into my doctor's office at 9:00am, I got a text from one of my staff wishing me luck in NYC.

Huh?

I scrambled for my email and sure enough, there was a communication with my deployment information.  It gave me 24 hours to arrive at either LaGuardia or JFK. 

Apparently "I'll have my availability confirmed by this afternoon" translated into a "yes" at 11:00am eastern standard time.  I scrambled in the parking lot, quickly calling to put things on hold for a few hours and then headed in for my telling ultrasound.  I was prepared and resolved for a delay.

And as luck would have it... the ultrasound was beautiful.

Perfect.

Lining is right where it needs to be.  Ovaries are quiet.  PCOS is under control.  Uterus showed a little residual blood but not much and Dr. H feels confident that it will all flush out when they stop the birth control this Friday in preparation for our suppression check next Tuesday. 

Stimulation injections will start that night if suppression is confirmed.

So there you have it folks.  We are back on track for a non-NYC Baby New Year.  We did discuss an escape route in case things don't go well in the next week, so if all else fails...

I still have jury duty!

I think that the best part of all of this is that I'm learning to react better to the things for which I have no control.  I've stayed happy, hopeful and most importantly relaxed throughout the emotions of it all which is a huge step forward for me.  Almost six years of infertility, infant loss, and IVF feels like a never-ending emotional roller coaster,  but I can honestly say that I'm working hard to keep calm (and carry on).  No matter how this all turns out, my life is good.

Really, really good.

Blessed in fact.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Laugh Now, Cry Later

One week.  I have exactly one week for my uterus to decide to play nice and turn the corner.

Needless to say, fingers are crossed since they started me on a high dose antibiotic last Saturday because the test results, of course, came back positive for post-op infection.

Grrrrreat.

But don't fret little poppets.  I'm making sure that all is in order for my HUR Sandy 3-week disaster management rotation if everything goes south.  My bags are packed.  I'm ready to go. 

New York is still calling.

That is of course, so long as I can get out of jury duty.  As luck would have it, notice came today that I'm on-call for jury duty the first week of December.

For the love of Wally!  I swear that my life could be a sitcom.

Seriously.  It could.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Back To Life, Back To Reality


I'm an idealist.  A sunshine, butterflies and glass-always-full of lemonade, kind of idealist.

My best friend however is a realist.  She probably doesn't remember this but about 20 years ago (in our 30+ year friendship) we had a discussion about how she always expects the worst and gets pleasantly surprised...while I expect the best and often-times get disappointed. 

Pretty funny because we are both happy, fun, loads of laughter kind of personalities.  But (and yes, I know it's not grammatically correct to start a sentence with "but")...how we get there is sometimes different.


She is a realist and I'm an idealist.  Yin-Yang.

As a realist, my Yin has taught me many things throughout the years without even realizing it.  For example, she has taught me to better prepare myself.  

Once upon a time, I thought that I was 150% in love with a boy.  It was of
course going to last forever because he was a prince. When I got slapped by reality, I was D E V A S T A T E D.  Instead of seeing the very clear 
writing on the wall, I was dreaming about rainbows and castles.  Luckily 
for me, my Yin was more grounded and saw the train wreck coming so I 
had a soft place to fall.
  
Two years ago, it didn't even enter my mind that our last IVF wouldn't work.  Not really.  And as I was bawling my eyes out over that HUGE
disappointment, my Yin was again waiting patiently with tissue providing the comfort I desperately needed. (I still have the perfect card, which said
the perfect things in the drawer next to my bed.)


My life has been full of those examples.


So as I lay here at 4:00am with a heating pad on my stomach...I've been thinking about what Mendy would do.

I've been preparing myself with a little reality.

Because I'm "me", I'm going to proceed with the sunshine theory that IVF will start in two weeks as planned and we'll have a positive result on New
Year's Day.  It will be a magical time during a magical season.  I can't
wait.

But by shear virtue of the fact that I'm currently cuddling with a rather
warm electrical devise...I will acknowledge that it may not happen
according to that timeline or plan.  They did lab work yesterday to check 
for an infection.  Most people have light cramping and spotting for 1-2 
weeks following a Hysteroscopy...it's been 3 weeks and I'm just picking 
up steam.  Da#% uterus.


Dr. H said we'll do an ultrasound on Nov 26th to figure it out.  

But (and yes, I still know it's not grammatically correct to start a sentence with "but").. what I do know is that I'm not going to be devastated if our cycle does get pushed back.  Rainbows are nice but I won't be blindsided by IVF disappointment.  Again.


Because my Yin has taught me well.

IF...the ultrasound doesn't go according to plan, I'll be on a flight to NYC the next day, November 27th.  Dr. H agreed to give me my doctor's note if he has to pull the rip cord.

We'll reschedule IVF after the new year and I'm okay with that because more time is what my body so obviously may need.  We are blessed with good jobs and we'll come up with more money.

It will still be a magical time during a magical season.  The second best thing to making babies...is helping needy people in NYC during the holidays.

And that, my dear friends, is the power of reality.  You get to make alternate arrangements.  

- Posted from my iPad

Friday, November 16, 2012

A-okay

God is good.

2 1/2 weeks ago I dropped a volunteer off at the airport so she could deploy to NYC for Hurricane Sandy. I drove her car to my house so it wouldn't get broken into or vandalized at work. That was the last time I touched it...and the last time that I saw the keys.

So tonight, I looked high. I looked low.

I tore my house apart.

Inch by inch.

I spent an hour trying (unsuccessfully) to break into the car with a wire coat-hanger to get the second set of keys which are inside. (who does that?!)

Finally, I walked back into the house and knelt down for prayer. When I was done, I stood back up and knew exactly where those keys were.

(In the strangest place possible!)

No coincidence. God is good.

Which is another reason why I know that things are going to be okay with this IVF cycle. Come rain or shine, everything is going to be just fine...


- Posted from my iPad

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On Being Beautiful

Just one of the many, many, many reasons why I love my Mr. Thompson...




Isn't it sorta-kinda awesome that I still get butterflies when he calls me "beautiful"?!

Because seven-years later, I still do.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Up, Down and All Around

It's a good thing that I like roller coasters!  Because I'm on another one.

As you know, our original IVF stimulation start date was scheduled for November 17th (with a December 23rd pregnancy-result blood draw).  My heart got set on that Christmas miracle...

Until I was told last week that I would need to wait at least two months to start our IVF cycle.

This was due to the extensive "scraping" that Dr. H had to do on my uterus during surgery a few weeks ago.  Not expected and not ideal.  Thus, he expected some prolonged inflammation and really didn't feel like I'd be ready for an IVF cycle until January.

Today that changed. 

Again.  (For which I am extremely grateful.)

Although we will do whatever we need to do for the very best possible outcome...I'll confess that we were stressing about the additional $2,500 that we would have to pay if a retrieval were to be scheduled after December 31st.  I've met my insurance deductible for 2012 so I've been praying every single night that my body will heal enough to let this happen before the beginning of the new year. 

Those prayers must have been heard. 

Dr. H reviewed everything again today and I got a surprise call from one of his nurses who gave me the news that with some modifications, I've been put on his schedule for December 4th.  This is unique because doctors at my clinic start cycles in "batches" (meaning a group of women start at the same time).  Instead of starting me with a "batch" (scheduled to begin December 27th or January 19th) or making me wait it out another two months on birth control... he'll instead start me on my own cycle with some medication manipulations to build my uterine lining back up faster.

So here we have it.  Our new roadmap:































Yes, you read that right.  Pregnancy test on January 1st.  Happy New Year!

Excited, hopeful, optimistic...and slightly terrified.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Better To Smell You With, My Dear

Oh man.  Where to start?  It's been a busy week...

First things first, I love my friends.  They bless my life each and every day.   It's only a friend who would show up with dinner because they know that I need help despite my pride in being able to ask for it.  It's only a friend who would make me an appointment for a massage because...well...just because.  It's only a friend who would totally get the fact that a comment would bug me not because of what was said, but because of how it was said.

Here is a little secret about Me... and since we are going to be blunt, I'll just say it:  I don't like anonymous comments.

Here's why...

When I moved to NYC in 1996 I figured out very quickly why I fit in so well.  It's because what you see is what you get.  New Yorkers get stereotyped as rude but, to me, they are not.  Quite the opposite in fact.  They are honest, sometimes brutally so, but it will always be straight to your face and up front.   That is a love language I understand.

Example:  A few months ago Mr. Thompson and Me took a trip back "home".   Just one hour after landing from our flight we were walking down the sidewalk in Brooklyn towards my friend's restaurant...when an old Jewish man stopped me dead in the street with a loud, "Hey girlie, are you Jewish?!  Because you have a really big nose!  Only a Jew could have a nose like that...!

Music to my ears!

We then proceeded to argue about my nationality which he wouldn't, under any circumstances, believe.  Not offensive to me in the least although Mr. Thompson was appalled as we stood there arguing in the street (remember, Mr. Thompson is originally from Texas and this is not the way of the south).  It was classic New York and oh-so refreshing.  In the end, I wanted to kiss that old man.  He instantly made me love him - just like I love that city -  because (gasp, shock, awe) he didn't say anything I didn't already know!  He just stated the obvious which I can appreciate.  Trust me, I KNOW that I have a big nose!  I've known it my whole friggin' life, even before Michelle.McDonald called me "Gonzo" in 10th grade after I stole her boyfriend.  I know it...I hate it... and no it's not because I'm Jewish (which I'm not by the way).  I'll always love a person who will say it straight and keep it real.

So back to Anonymous.

The words didn't bother me - the anonymity did.    Only in an eye-roll kind of way though because really, I try to keep life in perspective. If nobody is dying or suffering then I'm never going to lose sleep over it.  Never.  Ever.

Intentions are pure and I appreciate that.  Anonymous's comments were probably right on, who's to say, but my reaction was the same reaction that any (and all)  anonymous posts get.  I text my friend who will laugh at these things with me (good therapy, right?!) because I know that she dislikes anonymity too.

She can't help it - we met in New York.

So thanks Because Nice Matters for loving me and writing such a nice guest post.  In addition to being a true friend, you are the best blogger out there and you always come to my rescue when I get busy.  

Not with work, but with just being Me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Guest Post - Because I Have Something To Say

My friend, my dearest friend J, is busy trying to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and even busier taking care of herself.
She texted me today and asked if I had read the comments left on her most recent blog post.

I hadn't, but when I did I asked her if I could write her next blog post.

I'm not going to post the comment and if you go back and read it, all I'm going to ask is that you don't say anything negative about the commenter - because in her own way I'm sure she meant well.

But I want to say something to that anonymous commenter:

One of J's best friends lives in Brooklyn, NYC and has a pizza place in Coney Island.  If you're familiar with Coney Island, you'll know that the city borders the ocean.  It's a beautiful place, and it's a place that both J and I call home.


J's friend called this week to let her know that his pizza place was destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Destroyed.

New York is home to J and the people there are her family, and she loves them just as much as she loves her own flesh and blood.

In her last post, J mentioned how frustrated she was at being unable to get medical clearance to fly to NYC - it's a frustration I understand.
Anonymous, I hope you meant well, but when you suggested that J needs to reevaluate her priorities (my words, not yours) and that maybe it is time for her to choose having a baby over her job, I knew that you didn't really know my friend.

Her job isn't just a job.
It's her life.
It's in her blood.

When the people of New York City are suffering, J is suffering.
J has that much love and compassion for everyone she helps, but it's more when it comes to New York.
It's so much more - it's personal - and unless you've given what J has given to the people of NYC, you can't possibly understand.

And to suggest that J isn't taking care of herself - well, you are wrong.
If J wasn't taking care of herself, if having a baby weren't her priority, I can guarantee you that nothing would have kept her from getting on that plane - not something as simple as medical clearance.

Anonymous, J said this about your comment:

"It's the place I love - the people I love - and I'm sitting here purely by the irony that I had an ill-timed procedure.  I can be disappointed.   ... & they aren't wrong.  But they aren't right either.  It's not about a job vs baby.  Trust me - I'd have been on a flight Saturday if I was totally dumb and selfish."

Anonymous, my friend J wants a baby - probably more than you want her to have a baby - and I hope you know that she will continue to make that her top priority.

We all have passions, and J's just happens to be something she gets paid for.
That passion isn't going to go away because she wants a baby - not ever.
And between you and me, I think my friend is balancing both perfectly, and with the kind of grace I hope to someday have.








Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bad Day in Black Rock

WARNING:  BAD MOOD AHEAD.

Wah, wah, wah.  (this is the point that you imagine a flower wilting and a balloon deflating)

My last two phone calls have been from nurses.  Right now, neither one of them like me very much and to be honest, the feeling in this moment is quite mutual (even though said nurses are my two favorite people under normal circumstances).

But today, I'm mad.

Nurse #1 (from work) got word that I have a priority flight into New Jersey (because NYC is still closed) which she promptly put a stop to based upon Friday's procedure.  So much for flying under the radar and not telling anyone at work what was going on.  So much also for the theory that I have any sort of control over my staff when the cat does get out of the bag (thank you conscience).  In fairness, it is probably the smart thing to do as I need time to recover.  But still.

This is what I do... and I so very much HATE not being able to do what I do.  (Especially in New York.  It's personal).

Moral of the story:  no flight until I have a doctor's note releasing me.

So being the determined lass that my Scottish father raised me to be, I call Nurse #2 being 150% certain that I could sweet talk her into providing said doctor's note.

Yeah, right.

I started the conversation with how great I am feeling...not one darn issue (maybe a big fat lie)...and how I'm ready to resume exercise (maybe a bigger fat lie)...but after saying "that's nice" and "no", she let me know in no uncertain terms that I would not be getting a doctor's note.  "Matter of fact" she says...

IVF has been pushed back based upon that "little procedure you are feeling so great from". 

Yeah, you heard me right.

November 17th isn't going to be spent with sharp needles which consequently means that there will be no miracle baby news for Christmas.  Funny, how I got my little heart set on that...

Basically, Dr. H carved my pumpkin which was a lot worse than expected.  Originally, he thought that we would be able to stick with a Nov. 17th cycle date but Friday changed that. I guess I need a longer recovery time based upon what he had to do so that my body can rebuild the uterus lining.  Simply put he wants me to go through two cycles of birth control before we even consider IVF.

Do the math.

Two cycles =  two months. 

To add more great news into the situation, this means that I can kiss away the fact that I've already met my $2500 insurance deductible for the year (thank you wrist surgery).  I'm not even going to tell Mr. Thompson because he is going to FREAK COMPLETELY OUT when I inform him that in addition to the savings account that I just emptied for the portion that insurance won't cover...I've now got to come up with $2500 more so we can do this in 2013.

Damn uterus.

Pray for me.  I'm a person of hope. 


Monday, October 29, 2012

NewYork State of Mind




Surgery went well.

Even if it happened at a horrible time for a Red.Cross Emergency Services Director...

Now it's all about being able to heal fast enough to catch a flight out since my deployment papers to New York said I had to fly before noon last Saturday.

Needless to say, that didn't happen.

First things, first.



- Posted from my iPad

Friday, October 26, 2012

Moves Like Jagger

Thanks for the sweet birthday wishes.

You're right - hogwash on that infertility newsletter. 38 is not too old - not even close. (Three loud cheers for Pam! FET at 52 is beyond amazing. Just goes to show that our best years are still ahead of us if we take care of ourselves.)

Goodness, my own mother had my little brother (the Marine, who is still "for sale" by the way...) when she was 43. She was pregnant at my oldest brother's wedding which has provided some great family humor over the years, especially amongst siblings. Littlest brother is a retirement gift.

You know how else I know that I'm not too old?

My Ovarian Assessment Report (OAR) came in the mail this week.


It basically says that despite my age (which they categorized as "fair", guess they got the newsletter too) ... I am still a rock star.

Want an autograph?

(Now if I can just get through today's surgery...)



- Posted from my iPad

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Old Is Too Old?

The first email that I looked at today was from a fertility newsletter. The headline:

How Old Is Too Old To Have A Baby?

Today's my 38th birthday. The age referenced in the first sentence.

Thanks for that...

(oy vey!)


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Breaking Bad

Last week when the nurse gave me the list of things that I need to do, I was less than pleased.  Goodness me, the reality of all of this has slapped me in the face again. (and if you've done IVF, you know that this is the easy part!)

  1. Down payment - Check!  (otherwise known as the cleaning out of the bank accounts...)
  2. Ovarian Assessment Report (OAR) on Cycle Day 2-4  - Check! ...and truthfully not a big deal despite multiple sticks (two of which were in my hands, not a great place to draw blood!).
  3. GC/CT urine tests for both of us to ensure that we don't have Gonorrhoea or Chlamydia - Check!  ...and you should know that there have been more jokes going around the Thompson household on this one! I think we've taken this stupid test annually but whatever. We still don't have Gonorrhoea or Chlamydia.
  4. Birth control (pill) starting on Cycle Day 3 - Check!
  5. Metformin (pill) starting on Cycle Day 5 - Check!
  6. Semen Analysis with Kruger for Mr. Thompson - Pending and the chicken is not laughing too much about this one.  Then again, he never does.  The thought of going back into that "Chamber of Manly Death" so that he can humiliate himself even one more time, has him ready to run.  How funny that he doesn't yet realize that he'll eventually have to go back for collection too... :)
  7. Saline Sonogram (SSG) or Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) on Cycle Day 5-11 - Houston we have a problem...!

Like I said, I was not to thrilled to be going through all of this stuff again.  And we haven't even gotten into the shots/real medication yet.  It feels like I just went to the hospital for the Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) so I felt like this was really medically and financially unnecessary.  Who likes blue dye shoved up their fallopian tubes?!  It wasn't pleasant the first two times so I begged the nurse to let #7 slide.

She wouldn't. 

So I went to another nurse. 

She wouldn't either. 

But they got together and offered me a Saline Sonogram in the office performed by Dr. H as an alternative.  No trip to the hospital?  No radiation?  No blue dye?  No valium?  Sign me up!  So that's what we did yesterday. 

(Side Note:  As I was draping my naked self on the sterile medical table, Mr. Thompson proudly declared from the comfortable Lazy Boy recliner in the corner that if he was a reproductive doctor, he wouldn't accept any ugly patients.  I could be wrong, but I think that he was referencing the beautiful blond that we saw in the waiting room.)

Dr. H started with an ultrasound.  As he was checking out my ovaries he declared that I am his worst PCOS case.  Most women have 6-8 ovarian follicles from which their body releases eggs...I have 41 on the left and 32 on the right.

Gr-r-reat!

Hyper stimulation is still a huge concern no matter what we do so we'll have to make some changes for this cycle.  More meds.  More shots.

Then we did the Saline Sonogram.   In medical terms this is what happened:

"The patient (me) lies on her back with her feet in stirrups (as on a gynecology examining table). A    speculum is placed in the *who-ha*, a large iodine swab is used for cleaning and a small catheter tube is then used to insert a saline solution into the uterus. A vaginal ultrasound probe is used to make images of the saline filling the endometrial cavity. An evaluation of the cul de sac (open abdominal space behind the uterus) is done with the vaginal ultrasound probe still in place. If either fallopian tube is open, some of the saline should be seen in this space.  The test may cause some minor discomfort, such as pelvic or lower abdominal cramping."

"Minor discomfort" my eye.  It hurt like hell!

The purpose was to ensure that all is well with my uterus.  And... umm... ahh... we learned very quickly that all is clearly not well with my uterus. 




Black = good.  White = bad.

And here you have it folks,  After 6 years of infertility and even pregnancy loss....we may finally have the reason as to why I am seeing Dr. H in the first place.

The most telling picture is the one on the lower left.  The green triangle (a little over sized) is the shape that this view should show of my uterus.  The picture should show a clear black triangle.

It obviously...doesn't.  Thanks to polyps.

In the words of Dr. H, the best embryo in the world wouldn't be able to implant with that crap. Which may or may not explain what happened with our two perfect embryos last year (yay for spending $15,000 on something that wasn't going to work in the first place!). 

In the words of Dr. H., the best baby in the world wouldn't be able to deal with that in his living conditions either. Although polyps generally cause miscarriage the first trimester if implantation does occur (miracle of all miracles!), it can get get worse because the polyps serve as a "punching bag" against the fetus/baby.  I don't know if it is related to the "incompetent cervix" that I was diagnosed with (cervix is the opening to the uterus) but it makes me want to weep for my Colton!  At 24 weeks we should have been beyond it but it may or may not have played a part in pushing him down on a cervix that couldn't stay closed and hold him in - we'll never know.

Why didn't we know this earlier?

Good question.  I bled a lot during my pregnancy and Dr. Q suspected polys or fibroid but he couldn't do anything about them because it was dangerous to the pregnancy.  He couldn't even look for them but we knew something (aka: polyps or fibroid) were causing a lot of bleeding and even (sorry for being gross) discharge.  I remember taking a urine sample and having a bunch of "debris" in it which scared the crap out of the nurse because she thought it was a miscarriage.  This always hapened at home so I wasn't scared until she was scared.

Thankfully things were always fine with the ultrasounds, despite the debris at home and the doctor's office, which was eventually chalked up as polyps or fibroids. (polyps grow into fibroids as they extend beyond the uterine wall).

Fast forward to infertility...I saw two other Reproductive Endocrinologists.  I've had two other Hypersapingograms.  All focused mainly on my fallopian tubes rather than the uterus.  (Don't ask me why since IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes).  When I switched to Dr. H (the best!) for our last IVF, he trusted the results from the other doctors, especially since the 2nd Hypersapingogram (HSG) had just been done prior to my switch.

Not his fault.

Either... A) the polyps where always there but missed during the HSGs... B) were smaller and harder to detect... C) have developed in the last year.  My experience with Colton almost 4/12 years ago leads me to believe in A, that they've always been there.  There was just too much bleeding and "debris" with Colton to believe otherwise.

So there you have it.

On Friday I will have another date with a anaesthesiologist and Dr. H will surgically remove it all.  If all goes well, I'll get my dark triangle back and the darn things will be non-cancerous like we think.  IVF is pushed back until the end of November (earliest) so that I can have an adequate recovery time but if I play my cards right, I could have IVF results a few days before Christmas.

Just in time for a Christmas Miracle.

(p.s.: no whammies. no whammies. no whammies.)

(p.s.s.: I'll never argue with another nurse again!)
 
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