Thursday, July 31, 2008

Roger's Take...

Thought I would throw a quick comment or two up since I am halfway (more like 25%) involved in this whole ordeal. Yes, I missed out on Abby's first shot yesterday cause I was at the I decided to stay home this morning and help her out. I don't know if it's the side-effects of the drugs, or just nerves, but something has happened to my wife. She was up before me, gave herself a shot, and even made a Egg Sandwich for breakfast. (Keep in mind this is the same lady I usually kiss on my way to work -- as she's still in bed.)

She amazes me each day...

(Also, please notice we added Adalyn Grace's blog to our list -- Sorry about that Adalyn)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Injection -- Easy Peasy!

So it's not nearly as bad as I thought it might be, although I did have to lay on the bathroom floor for just a quick minute after I was done due to a little light-headedness. I think it was just the mental stress and the anxiety build-up, though. I even managed to administer the injection by myself while Roger was at the gym. As I was laying in bed this morning half asleep, I kept having dreams of giving myself the first shot, so I figured it might be best to just get up and get it over with for real. So, anyway, I think the scariest injection is over with now and it will just get easier from here on out.

I also started the Dexamethasone, which is a low-dose steroid, this morning too. It's just a tiny little white pill that I will take daily for the next month or so. Actually, I'm not sure yet how long I take it. This is supposed to decrease inflammation and reduce the inflammatory response of my body to the embryos once they are placed in my uterus later this month. Apparently there can be side effects to Dexamethasone that include insomnia and increase in appetite. I'm hoping to ignore my hunger pains and avoid gaining 30 pounds this month!

Friday, July 25, 2008

In the Beginning....

After much encouragement (harassment) from Roger, I have finally decided to sit down and attempt to chronicle our IVF journey. Let me preface this by saying this blog is intended for our friends and family who are concerned/interested/curious/cheering us on in this complicated process, but, of course, we all know we are sharing our story with the whole world via the Internet. We thought this might be a more efficient way of keeping everyone up-to-date rather than retelling details to different people over and over again and things getting lost in translation. I realize this may seem to some like such a personal experience to be sharing with absolutely everyone, but as our close friends and parents have probably figured out by now, talking and sharing has actually proven to be a very therapeutic way for us to deal with our infertility. But that's just us. Different things work for different people, and I understand why some choose to keep this topic a private matter. And since this is a personal topic of conversation, you may learn very personal things about us, so I make no apologies if I offend anyone. There is no such thing as TMI (too much information) on this blog. I think we all know where babies come from.

A little history as to how we got here:

April 2006 -- went off the pill and actively started trying to get pregnant

January 2007 -- Roger's first test -- found out he has normal swimmers

April 2007 -- Abby's first diagnostic test -- HSG (dye test of the fallopian tubes) -- came back normal

July 2007 -- first IUI (intrauterine insemination) with the use of Clomid -- no luck at all

August 2007 -- second IUI -- second verse, same as the first

November 2007 -- Abby's second diagnostic test -- laparoscopic surgery with a diagnosis of mild endometriosis (grade 2) -- our "assumed" culprit, although women with endometriosis manage to get pregnant all the time.

After my laparoscopic surgery we decided we were done trying. Because if there's anyone out there reading this who has ever had the lovely experience of having to "try" to get pregnant, you know it takes all the joy out of Mudville. It's really only fun for a couple of months until you start feeling like something is wrong and you're convinced there just has to be a reason why you're not pregnant yet. Although, I will add this caveat: I firmly believe in women's intuition and just plain ol' gut feelings. So, needless to say, a year and half of timed sex was enough and we were ready for a break. We decided to take 2008 off as far as baby-making stuff went. Throughout this time we had discussions about what we would do if we were unable to conceive naturally, and at the beginning of 2008 we came to the conclusion (or so we thought) that we would rather adopt than do IVF.

Fast forward to May of 2008 when my Type A personality takes over and cannot leave the current topic of conversation alone. At least I made it almost halfway through the year before I started obsessing again. I took a trip to Barnes & Noble and purchased five books on adoption to prepare ourselves for the next steps we would take in becoming parents. After making it through one book I had a "moment" and realized I was not ready to give up on having a biological child. I guess I was sort of feeling like by adopting we were taking the high road. Instead of forcing something to happen that should happen naturally, we would be accepting our destiny and doing the "right" thing. At the ripe old age of 27 (okay -- practically 28), I have to admit: I am not ready to adopt. There may come a day when we are ready and the realization that adoption is and has always been our fate will be as obvious as the sun in the sky, but for now we still have a long road to walk to get there.

After much Internet researching and a suggestion from my OB/GYN, I found the Sher Institute whose Web site address happens to be Pretty straightforward, don't you think? After one trip to St. Louis in June to do blood tests on both of us and another procedure on me (a hysteroscopy which came back normal), we feel we finally have the real answer as to why we are so reproductively challenged (or I should say "I" since Roger is the perfect picture of health). Apparently I have an immune disorder which in essence means this: My body (NK cells) is attacking early stage embryos and destroying them off as if they were cancer cells. So efficiently, in fact, that I have never even had a late period. I would love to be able to explain this medical phenomenon more thoroughly, but quite frankly it is too technical and complicated for me to do so accurately. If you want more information, I would suggest you Google NK cells (natural killer cells) and hopefully find an explanation that way. In the midst of researching NK cells I also learned this: 30% (I think I read that number somewhere; regardless, a large percentage) of women who are diagnosed with endometriosis also have an immune problem. Apparently endometriosis can be a sign/indication of an immune problem. Thanks to modern day medicine there is a very specific blood test you can have done to detect elevated NK cells, but you cannot go to your local doctor or clinic to have it done; I think it has to be done through a fertility specialist and then shipped to one of a very few labs in the country. The lab the Sher Institute uses is Millenova Laboratories out of Chicago. This blood test is relatively expensive (although in the whole scheme of IVF a drop in the bucket) but very worth it. So, after two years of being told by a bazillion well-meaning people that I'm young and healthy and anatomically normal and I will someday get pregnant when I quit worrying about it, we now have a different story. Luckily there is a treatment for this condition that I will explain later on. So, after all those years of being on birth control, the joke is on me. I've had it built in all along.

Let me get on my soap box for just one minute since this is my blog, after all. There are very strong and well-known recommendations out there for women my age to try to get pregnant naturally for at least a year before pursuing any type of testing, but I feel differently. If you're willing to spend the money and want the peace of mind, contact a fertility clinic to just get some basic tests done. You can get testing done through a fertility specialist without doing any treatments. As good as my OB/GYN may be, she did not explain that to me AT ALL. After two failed IUIs I asked if there were any more tests (i.e., bloodwork) I could have done and she told me that since my period is/was completely normal and regular, there would be no reason to have any other tests done since that's what they would be testing for. And that the only thing left to do would be a laparoscopic surgery to check for endometriosis. I beg to differ.

ANYWAY, here we are, July 25, 2008. I have been on birth control for almost three weeks now to keep my ovaries "asleep" until they will be manipulated with fertility drugs to do certain things as my doctor dictates. Today I received a very large refrigerated box via FedEx full of more drugs and needles than I can really wrap my mind around at this point. Next Wednesday, which happens to be one day after my birthday, I will give myself my first injection of Lupron, something I will do every day for approximately 20 days, and our first IVF cycle will have officially started. Happy Birthday to me! Needless to say, Roger and I are very, very excited and hopeful that this process will result in our child/children! At this point I have a hard time comprehending that, but I'm getting there. I have been called a pessimist in my day, but I prefer to call myself a realist. It's just who I am. ButI do have all the confidence in the world in our doctor and the Sher Institute, and I'm more than happy to hand our infertility situation over to them and let them work their magic.

Right now I'm still recovering from sticker shock. In the past week we have written checks to pay for the fertility medications and the cycle fee which insurance does not cover at all, of course. So as of right now we are paid up. IF our first try at IVF fails, we of course will fork over more drug money for the next cycle, whenever we choose to pursue that. We were well aware of what this was going to cost us, but it is still painful to hand the money over. Let me just say that I feel incredibly blessed Roger and I are even able to consider doing IVF. I'll just leave it at that. No need to be negative.

So there it is in a nutshell. I promise future postings will be shorter, but I felt the need to give as much background info as possible so we are all on the same page. I will do my best to blog in a timely fashion and give pertinent updates as things start to happen. Our egg retrieval is scheduled for the week of August 18th with the embryo transfer three to six days after that. That probably means nothing to anyone right now, but I'll explain later.

Roger and I would greatly appreciate everyone's prayers as we journey through IVF as we all know this is up to God no matter how much medical intervention we have access to.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008