HopingForBaby.com’s Beginnings

HopingForBaby.com’s Beginnings

I started my blog HopingForBaby.com in March 2018, almost two years into our infertility struggles. At the beginning, my blog was anonymous, like many infertility bloggers tend to start out. I just wanted a place to freely write what was on my mind and to help me cope. I love to write and I’ve always found writing to be cathartic. In my day-to-day life more of my friends and family were opening up about their infertility and miscarriages. I began to feel less alone and felt more support in “real life.”

After a little while I built up the courage to post a picture of myself in my blog. It brings a smile to my face when I see more and more infertility bloggers step out of the shadows and actually post pictures of themselves. It is such a simple act that helps to break down the silence surrounding infertility as well as the stigma. Posting a picture is a way to say, “This is who I am and this is my story.” This allows other people dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss to know they are not alone. Before I actually started this blog I was incredibly inspired by infertility bloggers who not only wrote their story but also took to YouTube and created podcasts. 

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So how did I choose the name of my website and my motto? The title of my website is pretty self-explanatory, “Hoping For Baby” is about the dream many of us share to have a child. I also chose this title because I wanted it to be flexible enough to allow for a future where I could write about a biological baby and/or an adopted baby. I don’t know what my future holds, and I may truly be unable to have a biological child. In that case, I would probably shift gears with my blog and write more about adoption or fostering. But for now, I am focusing my efforts on trying to have a biological child, hence all of my posts are related to this right now. 

The motto “Overcome Infertility & Create a Family” also has a double meaning. I chose “Creating a Family” as a flexible phrasing to allow for the many possible ways one can create a family. Whether it’s biologically from both parents, an egg donor, embryo donation, fostering, or adoption, etc. There are so many different ways to create a family. As far as “Overcome Infertility” most people may assume this to be literal, they may think of the steps to get them to their end goal of a biological child. 

But life isn’t always that simple, and sometimes people decide to stop pursuing a biological child. In this case, the idea of “Overcoming Infertility” takes on a new meaning. It can mean overcoming all of the emotional, physical, relationship, and financial struggles that come with infertility. You can overcome infertility by letting go of the pain and focusing on what is really important to you. One person may decide overcoming infertility means they can now move on to the idea of adoption, while another may decide that they would like to live child-free. For most of us with infertility, there is no straight path to parenthood, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

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And on a final note, I chose to incorporate a ducky in my logo for a special reason. I started a little habit a few years ago, whenever one of my friends had a baby shower I would get them a rubber ducky to include with their other baby shower gifts I bought for them. I was doing it for everyone to where I told myself, “Don’t forget the rubber ducky!” In my mind the rubber ducky became synonymous with the celebration of new life. Plus it’s just so darn cute!

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Question of the Day:

Do you have your own infertility blog? Feel free to share a link to your blog. Who are some of your favorite infertility bloggers that inspire you and why?

Comment Below.

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MTHFR Gene Mutation Test Results

MTHFR Gene Mutation Test Results

Today’s post will make more sense if you read my last one. So rather than recap everything again that lead up to these results you can go ahead and read that one by clicking here. I may have called the clinic three times to ask about my results over this last week. No one seemed to have a time frame for me of when to expect the results and they said, “This test takes a little longer.” 

 

Finally my doctor called when I was in a Wendy’s drive through with my Mom who was driving, I was visiting her that day. I had my phone up to my one ear, and my finger in the other ear trying to block out all the unusually happy workers inside who were all laughing hysterically about something for what seemed like five minutes straight while I was on the phone trying to hear what he was saying.

 

“You tested positive for the MTHFR gene mutation,” he said. He went on to explain some details that I wasn’t able to grasp in the moment, probably due to a combination of not hearing him and not actually processing all the info. I had to call him back later to actually write down what he was trying to explain to me. He said I have the “MTHFR gene mutation C677T heterozygous single version.” He thinks that some of my miscarriages may have been caused by this gene mutation. Essentially, when you have a MTHFR gene mutation your body cannot process folate well, which is an incredibly important vitamin that helps the baby grow properly. 

 

I had very conflicting emotions with this news, mostly a combination of anger and relief. I was so angry that none of the doctors had realized this earlier, and that one doctor mistakenly told me that I was negative for this gene mutation when she really meant to say I was negative for Factor Five. So I went on to tell my next doctor and several other medical teams I was working with that I did not have MTHFR, going off what she had told me. Sadly, none of these doctors thoroughly looked into my file. Had they done so I may not have had to deal with 2.5 years of five miscarriages and paying for IVF. 

 

I’ve heard stories of women who’ve suffered through many miscarriages before their doctor tested them for MTHFR gene mutation. When they discovered they had it, they were put on the proper medication and vitamins and boom…they have a healthy baby in their arms. I pray it will be that simple for me as well, but I also have Low Ovarian Reserve so it probably won’t be that easy. On the other spectrum of my emotions, I am feeling so much relief knowing that a huge missing puzzle piece has finally been found. But to be honest it is going to take a while to get over my anger. I think in time I will get over it, but right now it is pretty difficult.

 

I sat at Mom’s dinner table and talked about the news with her. She was the one that had mentioned to me several months back my Aunt has the MTHFR gene mutation. This perked my ears up because I remember hearing that acronym as part of the fertility tests I thought I took early on. I explained to Mom, “Had you not told me that, I would not have double checked that I actually got tested for it.” Mom got kind of teary eyed and said something to the effect of, “I didn’t even realize that was something related to fertility.” In other words, Mom had no clue the wheels she had set in motion for me. But I’m glad that she did. I’m also glad that my Aunt spoke up about her medical issues that were caused by the MTHFR gene mutation. Those conversations led me to my diagnosis that could help with my fertility, and ultimately help me to have much greater odds of having a baby.

 

I am brand new to this diagnosis so I have much to learn about it. I’ll probably do informational posts on it in the future. One thing I mentioned to my Mom is that I learned the MTHFR gene mutation has been correlated to some cases of cancer. So my diagnosis has sparked her curiosity into whether she may have the MTHFR gene mutation as well. She has beat cancer twice already and is the strongest woman I know. She said she would look into testing. It’s kind of surreal to finally have a concrete answer as to why I have recurrent miscarriages, and even more so surreal there may be a simple solution of medicine to help me. My OBGYN referred me to a geneticist that I should be seeing soon. Maybe next year we will finally have our little one.

 

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A Doctor’s Mistake & Possible MTHFR Gene Mutation

A Doctor’s Mistake & Possible MTHFR Gene Mutation

So I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting still for my MTHFR gene mutation test results. Technically, I’ve been waiting about 2.5 years and just didn’t realize it. “How is that possible,” you may ask. Let me take you back to the beginning. Doctors typically look at the more common explanations for recurrent pregnancy loss with the basics; thyroid, progesterone, Rh factor, Factor V Leiden, and MTHFR to name a few. These basic tests help determine the correct treatment, and ideally prevent unnecessary heartache from miscarriage after miscarriage. If all of these tests are negative then further more in-depth testing can be done.

 

I vividly remember sitting in my first RE’s (Reproductive Endocrinologist) office years ago and hearing her explain my results to me. One by one she read my results while reading a paper from my file on her lap, “Thyroid is good. Progesterone is fine. Rh factor is positive, so that’s not an issue at all. No Factor Five and no MTHFR.” No MTHFR. No MTHFR. That’s what sticks out in my mind all these years later. I can still see her smiling at me optimistically, which I’m sure she wouldn’t be doing the same thing now had she seen everything I’ve been through over these years. But she retired shortly after I began my treatment with her. She was a nice lady, but in hindsight she seemed a little flaky and unfocused. But back then I attributed her forgetfulness of the details of my medical history to what I’m assuming was a high number of patients she was juggling. 

 

Flash forward 2.5 years later to now. That first RE retired, my second RE retired this year, and my info was passed along to an OBGYN office in the same building. I called my insurance company and learned there isn’t a single RE left in the state that is in-network any longer. So I’m shit out of luck as far as getting a specialist who is properly trained in cases such as myself. What does this leave me with? In the new clinic I did what most of us do, ask a lot of questions in hopes they will be able to give us breadcrumbs to the solution. It felt like pulling teeth with this one though. She seemed mildly irritated with each question I asked. What she didn’t realize is that she was sitting in an interview for a position that can mean life or death. Not to be melodramatic, but that’s truly the reality of what I’m dealing with, the life of my future child. 

 

I had high hopes for this young representative of this OBGYN office who my newly retired Reproductive Endocrinologist highly recommended. But my final question I posed to this fresh-faced doctor was what truly sealed her fate. It was basically a set up, I’ll admit, but I had to ask it to truly learn what I was working with. I asked her, “What do you recommend I do to improve my egg quality?” Mind you, I have recently done a massive amount of research on this subject this last year, from reputable medical journals and some of the most well-renowned books published on the subject, including the book “It Starts with the Egg.” I’ve already put into practice some of the medical advice on the subject. 

 

“Well” she starts, “We are born with a certain number of eggs. We can’t change that. And sometimes miscarriages just happen. There’s nothing you can do about it.” I could tell she says this quite often. Her face was completely blank and her eyes seemed distant like she was trying to figure out what she wanted to order for lunch. Her words may have been consoling to someone who might be experiencing their first miscarriage, in fact I know I’ve heard this before from another doctor I stopped seeing years ago. When I get a gut feeling that a doctor isn’t doing everything they possibly can, I usually move on to the next one, as anyone should. 

 

So what exactly was it about her response that pissed me off. Well she didn’t answer the question I actually asked her, for one. I asked about egg quality, not egg quantity. I know there’s absolutely no way you can increase the number of eggs you have. But I do know that there are studies on how to improve egg quality on the eggs that you have remaining, which can increase the odds of a live-birth. The problem with her answer to me is that she was either one of two things, 1) Not paying attention to my question, or 2) Uneducated on the correct response. To her credit, she contributed one solid lead for me to follow, with a different doctor of course. That lead was that she had looked through my entire file of many documents and found no MTHFR results. 

 

Interesting, no MTHFR results. Could this just be an oversight on her part? I hoped this was the case. One of my Aunts recently told me she has the MTHFR gene mutation and she was telling other family members to get tested for it. Because of this, I decided I should double check that I truly am negative for the MTHFR gene mutation. If you haven’t already googled what the MTHFR gene mutation is, it’s essentially a mistake that occurs in how people process folate which can lead to a variety of complications, recurrent miscarriage being one of them. The doctor’s parting words were, “You don’t need to get tested for MTHFR. Just make sure you take a prenatal with folate.” Let me disect this response as well, firstly if I did have MTHFR, it’s recommended that you take methylated folate during pregnancy, which is often not found in your basic prenatal. And why the hell would I not want to get tested for MTHFR if I have a family history of it and I’ve had five miscarriages? Why would I not want to find that out? At that point I thanked her for her time and we both left the room quickly. I’m assuming for her it was because her stomach was rumbling and she needed lunch, and for me I left quickly because I knew I wasn’t going to waste another minute with someone who seemed disinterested in helping me. I later read in my infertility groups that many other women have the same experience of a doctor being dismissive of their request to test for MTHFR and that some patients really have to push doctors to get this test done.

 

I called back a few days later and asked the receptionist to patch me through to a nurse. “Can you see if I have been tested for MTHFR at all?” I wanted to know for absolute certain that I had not been tested for MTHFR, because I was questioning how thoroughly the doctor read through my file. The nurse on the phone scoured through my medical history, I know this because I could hear her turning the many pages of my file. Finally after about five minutes she said, “Well I see here you were tested for something similar to MTHFR, Factor Five. But nothing at all on MTHFR.” She even reviewed my genetic test called a Horizon panel, which tests for 274 different genetic carrier diseases that both my husband and I took years ago. The MTHFR test wasn’t in that one either. She asked if I wanted to come in to get tested for it and I agreed, but later decided not to show up, remembering the shitty experience I had with that doctor. I thanked the nurse for her time she put into carefully poring over my file. I decided to use this bread crumb of information to move ahead, but not with them.

 

Instead of feeling obligated to continue care with that provider just because my previous Reproductive Endocrinologist recommended them, I decided to call up my OBGYN I used for my past surgeries after I lost my pregnancies. He previously recommended I ask most of my questions to a specialist, a Reproductive Endocrinologist, because he didn’t have all the information I was asking about. But now that I have zero RE’s that are in-network, I decided to go back to his office to at least test me for MTHFR. So I stopped by, did a quick blood draw, and now I’m waiting for the results. I’ve been waiting about five days now and I called several times. They said it takes a bit longer to get that specific test back. 

 

If I have MTHFR I can get set up on a treatment plan. If I don’t, at least I can finally rule that out. I feel I have a right to be angry, I was told I was tested for it but I really wasn’t. My second RE even asked me, “Have you been tested for MTHFR?” as she was looking through all my documents. I told her I was tested and found to be negative, because I was going off what my first RE told me. My second RE stopped searching through my file after just a few pages and took my word for it, she should have looked more deeply into it. Admittedly, my file is quite intimidating. It’s about as thick as a 500-page novel. Maybe that’s why she decided to stop short. There were a series of oversights along the way, and that is what bothers me. 

 

I believe this is not just a personal issue either. I feel that if this can happen to me, it is also happening to some of you as well. What would I have done differently if I were to do it over again? I would have examined my own copy of my file yearly, looking for any gaps in testing. But in the beginning you trust your doctor, you trust the process, and you believe you are doing everything you can. But doctors make mistakes, sometimes major mistakes. Sometimes you can’t take their word on something and you need to see it in writing in your hands. I wish I would have asked to have a copy of the test results and actually see the words MTHFR Gene Mutation on the paper. But that paper doesn’t exist because neither did the test. 

 

Throughout this whole process I’m learning to do my own research and take initiative. Because if you just go with the flow of whatever the doctor says you may end up so far away from your solution. Speak up and ask for the testing you need. If your gut tells you, “They don’t know what they are doing” listen to that instinct and find someone who at the very least listens to you. Because if they truly listen and still cannot help you at least they can hopefully point you in the direction of where to go instead.

 

I will let you all know as soon as I get the results from my MTHFR test. For now, I’m considering seeing the highly recommended RE that is not in-network with my insurance. Perhaps she has some advice that can actually help me achieve my dream of having a baby. I told myself I would pay off my debt first before I go down and do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in Seattle. I still have a good chunk of debt left to pay that feels like it’s turning into a Whack-a-Mole game, pay off one bill only to have another equal or more expensive one appear in my mail. I’ll get there eventually. 

 

I’m still exhausting every single possibility of trying to have a biological child. So for all of my family and friends saying, “Why don’t you just adopt?” or “Why don’t you just foster?” I humbly say to you, in time I will, but I don’t want to split my energy in different directions right now. I want to focus on one thing at a time. Some acquaintances I meet ask why I don’t have kids yet. I don’t feel obligated to give them my medical history so instead I give them the canned response of “We’re trying.” The more brazen acquaintances then jokingly say, “You don’t have much time left. You better get on that.” It’s at this point I imagine myself as Mike Tyson punching the shit out of them repeatedly in their smug face, and maybe biting a piece of their ear off for good measure. I’m joking, sort of. But unfortunately they have a point. I’m 33 and I don’t have much time left, which is compounded even more so by the fact that I have Low Ovarian Reserve. So right now this is my focus and I’m doing everything I can.

 

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Choosing Happiness Despite Circumstances

Choosing Happiness Despite Circumstances

In one of my infertility groups I read a post from a woman who struggled with multiple miscarriages and failed IVF rounds. She sounded exactly like how I feel, occasionally sad and confused about what will happen next. She asked a very profound question: “How do I get my happiness back?” So many women in the group seem to relate happiness with the end result of a baby. But she asked this question relating it to what she herself can actually do, regardless of whether she continues or discontinues her fertility treatment. A new daily goal of mine is to continually work on creating happiness for myself and from within myself. You are setting yourself up for disappointment if you rely on external events to bring you happiness. In other words, it is still possible to be happy and content even if you cannot create a family right now.

 

I wrote the following response to the woman’s post about her question of how to find happiness through all of this: 

 

Sometimes taking a break from planning fertility things, even if it’s just for a month or two can bring much needed peace. I’ve experienced a lot of loss and disappointment as well: 5 miscarriages and 1 failed IVF round. So many of us are right there, feeling exactly like you are. I feel the same way too. Your honesty with your post helped me to feel less alone. Take the time to take care of yourself and do the things you enjoy, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music, journaling, talking with friends, etc. I need to do the same as well. Even in our uncertain times we can make choices to build ourselves up, even if we have to drag ourselves out of bed to enjoy the world outside. For me, doing the opposite of how I feel sometimes helps. If I want to binge watch TV or oversleep beyond what is normal, I try to force myself to go for a drive or be out in nature. The other day I was depressed and only wanted to zone out in front of the TV but I instead went out for a hike. I saw for the first time in my life a mountain sheep very close. Had I not forced myself to get outside I would have missed out on that amazing experience. For me that was a taste of what I could be missing out on if I continue to sit inside and be depressed. I hope you can push yourself too to find what helps you heal.”

 

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A rare find, mountain sheep watches us as we hike.

 

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Fertility Wars: Return of the Cyst

Fertility Wars: Return of the Cyst

November 1st is the last day for the Thanksgiving contest. Winner will be announced soon after.

 

So if you are a Star Wars fan you might appreciate the title of my blog today. As I stared at my ultrasound today it was obvious that my cyst had grown to epic proportions. It loomed large on the screen. A big black ball of “f**k my life.” Same crap, different day. I’d really like to learn more about the science behind these little bastards because being told there’s nothing I can do about it doesn’t sit well with me. This means I will need to change my flights around and my hotel, right during peak season for Thanksgiving. Fabulous.

 

As you may remember, I had a cyst I dealt with before. Although I’ve been told cysts are normal, I can’t help but wonder if in the future these little guys might morph into cancer. I really need to learn more about them. On a somewhat related note, I was watching a show on Netflix called “Haunted” where people give real life accounts of paranormal experiences. Kurtis and I have been watching lots of scary shows lately for Halloween. In the show this woman was convinced that she was abducted by aliens. During her several dozen abductions she believed the aliens were doing medical tests on her. She was convinced her cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis were caused by the aliens. Cue major eye roll and guffaw here. Lady, you may not realize it, but there are so many women out there with the same issues. Surely not all of us with reproductive issues are having our vajeens experimented on by little green men. But then again maybe that’s what they want us to believe. Bum bum buuuuum!

 

The other day we had an unexpected knock at our front door. It was the weekend and I was being lazy around the house. I went to the back bedroom to put on a bra (hey, it’s the weekend!) and Kurtis asked through the door who it was.

 

“Planned Parenthood” I thought I heard a woman’s voice say.

“We don’t have any kids” Kurtis said.

 

By that time I came out from the bedroom he was laughing a little.

 

“Who was it?” I asked.

“Planned Parenthood” he laughed.
“Really? What did they want?”

“I don’t know, but I told them we didn’t have any kids.”

 

We both saw the comedic irony of the situation and started laughing to the point where we were having full on belly laughs with tears. It’s so damn funny that these people are knocking on our door when we’ve been doing everything short of kidnapping to have a baby. God has a messed up sense of humor sometimes. I was laughing hard also because Kurtis’ response didn’t entirely make sense. I asked him what the woman said to him and he said, “nothing, she just walked away.” I’m sure they’ve dealt with way more awkward situations than that. She was probably walking away thinking, “Why the hell are those people laughing so hard in there? They sound like lunatics. Probably drugs. I should walk faster.” Drugs indeed, fertility drugs that is.

 

I had another big laughing fit a few weeks ago over cheesecake. Yes, cheesecake. Let me preface this story with the fact that my body seems to be incredibly sensitive to my progesterone-only pills and my mood swings are all over the map. Everything from wanting to cry for no apparent reason, to laughing just a little too long over silly things that aren’t really that funny.

 

I decided to try out this local pie shop for the first time. I picked up a miniature cheesecake and good Lord, it was the most divine and magical cheesecake of my life. I was in love! The following week I decided to get it again on my Friday as a reward for my busy week. I went there but they were closed. Then I went the next day, closed again. And again a third day, still closed. You’d think by this point I would have checked their hours. Come to find out their hours are pretty limited. The fourth day I finally was able to walk through the doors and I gushed about how sublime their cheesecake was and how I was ready to buy more. “Oh, I’m sorry we ran out yesterday.” I settled for a pumpkin pie instead and told myself that I would soon be back for the cheesecake again.

 

I was re-telling this story to my husband and for some reason I found the set up to the story and the ultimate let down to be incredibly hilarious. I’m laughing each time I say, “So I went back again…” I was laughing so hard I had to lean on the counter to keep myself upright. Kurtis’ expression was that of “what the hell is so funny?” Maybe what struck me as hilarious is that this damn cheesecake is symbolic of what I can’t get from life. First world problems, right? But do you see my logic? The cheesecake could represent anything that I want really badly but cannot have (i.e., a biological baby). Now you get it? Still doesn’t make sense? That’s okay, it makes sense to me. Perhaps there is even greater symbolism that can be gleaned from the fact that when I returned later I ordered a pumpkin cheesecake, because again, they had no regular cheesecake. Maybe the pumpkin cheesecake represents our future child using an egg donor, hence the pumpkin in the mix. My quirky little cheesecake story might only be funny to me, but I think the real lesson learned here is that I really want that f**king cheesecake. So the quest for cheesecake continues.

 

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The Big Picture

The Big Picture

Many parents will tell you they sacrificed so much for their children. Many women going through IVF will tell you they have already sacrificed greatly for the hope of having children. Sometimes I feel those of us who struggle with infertility issues are already mothers-in-the-making. We know what it takes to give up our time with our partners to put in extra hours at work, working weekends when we could be spending time with them. The time away from visiting with our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Time away from social gatherings where we connect with friends. Often we develop a one-track mind and it becomes all about making the possibility of a child a reality. What will it take? What will we give up? It all comes down to time and money.

 

But one thing I’ve learned through this process is that I don’t view this the same way most people do who do not struggle with infertility. Yes, the sacrifices are great, but what I’ve already gained is so much greater. Loss and struggle are some of the best teachers in life. I’ve developed a fierce commitment to my goal and I’ve grown in many ways. When I was feeling lost and confused I learned the value of intense research for solutions. When I was feeling disconnected from everyone and couldn’t bear to talk about my pregnancy losses, I learned to opened up and realized many of my friends, family, and a massive online community went through the exact same things I had. Being able to not only relate to others but put all of our research together, weigh the options, and together help each other out with the end goal in mind of “how can I best help this woman fulfill her dream of having a baby?” Sometimes it’s as simple as suggesting a certain test be looked into their doctor hasn’t tried yet, or a financial option they hadn’t even considered. Rallying together as a group and helping each other achieve our dream of motherhood has brought me such a feeling of connectedness that I never in my life experienced.

 

I’ve learned to speak candidly with my husband about how I feel, and to truly listen to what he is feeling too. Learning to compromise together, whereas when left to my own devices I would have steamrolled ahead with my own big plans. Being able to stop and consider his needs when planning for our future has been incredibly important. I told him how I made the decision to take on some temporary debt in order to have a shot at having a child. That temporary debt could have gone towards paying off the condo and moving into a bigger house. We’ve always talked about paying off the condo early and getting a nicer house, so it was a big deal to postpone this for a bit. I knew this would be a huge sacrifice but I also knew that if we wanted the opportunity to have our own child I needed to do IVF now. My timeline for fertility is significantly less than the average woman, but I have many years to plan for moving into a house. Shifting timelines for everything was a sacrifice, but that’s all it comes down to, simply shifting timelines. We compromised and agreed that we would focus on knocking out my medical debt these next few months before our FET (frozen embryo transfer). Being able to get past our emotions, talk about it, and come up with the best solution together has helped us both become more mature as a couple.

 

I’ve also learned to endure incredibly devastating losses. My first pregnancy loss was the worst for me emotionally. I was in bed for two weeks and was incredibly depressed. But after a total of four losses I’ve learned to be more resilient. I now have many people I can turn to for support and have developed a concrete treatment plan. I now have answers as to why some of the losses happened and a hopeful solution too. Now it’s just a matter of doing the treatment plan of IVF with PGS, the one step I have left for our first round is traveling back down for our FET.

 

I’ve come a long way over these past 2.5 years of infertility. I’ve learned one of the best ways of dealing with my situation is to focus both on what I need to do today as part of my treatment plan, while also looking at the big picture. The big picture for me includes doing a visualization. In that visualization I pull away from the current moment and look at my life and these struggles far  into the future. Being able to see myself in the future, and ask myself did I do everything I can and are there no regrets? There is a sense of comfort I get from looking at the big picture. Where does that comfort come from? I know that I am doing everything I possibly can in order to make my dreams come true. And who wouldn’t be proud of that?

 

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1 Day After Egg Retrieval: Major Money Saving Epiphany

1 Day After Egg Retrieval: Major Money Saving Epiphany

(Entry written prior to posted date).

Who knew one of the annoying side effects post-retrieval would contribute to an epiphany that would change the course of events for me. I believe I’ve hit my ultimate record for the number of times I had to pee in a single night, it was in the range of twenty times. It was as if all the retained water weight during my stimulation shots was now leaving my body. But good God, that was just friggin’ excessive! I got zero sleep last night.

 

But the good news is that while I was awake all night I was doing my usual perusing of infertility forums online. I stumbled on a weirdly worded response to a question someone posed about how to save money on IVF treatment. The response was something to the effect of “do two IVFs in a row. That’s how I did it. Saved a lot.” What the hell did that mean? Two IVFs?

 

Then it hit me. Although this response was thoroughly confusing to me at first, it started to register with me. I asked myself, “What if they meant they did two egg retrievals before they did their first FET (frozen embryo transfer)?” Could that be what they meant? Then I remembered the phone conversation I had with my two-cycle discount program, she said, “The program ends when you have a ‘take-home’ baby.” So that meant if I gave birth with this first cycle the program ended.

 

It was the middle of the night and I posted a question in some of the Facebook IVF groups I’m on, asking whether anyone was doing my specific discount program and if they did two egg retrievals in a row before their first transfer. Some of the first women who responded to me said that I could not do it. They even went so far as to tell me, “It’s in your contract if you actually read it. It’s bolded and everything.” But I was looking right at my copy of my contract and nowhere in it did it say anything like this. The contract echoed the same thing the woman with the discount program told me over the phone, “program ends with ‘take-home’ baby.” But several hours later I checked if anyone else had responded. Now there were more answers, and about half of them were saying that it is actually possible to do two egg retrievals back to back with that program.

 

First thing that morning I called both my discount program and my clinic to pose this question. The answer would change the trajectory of everything. “Yes, it’s possible.” From what I gather, it depends on the clinic or possibly your diagnosis. Some clinics seem not to allow women back-to-back egg retrievals for the discounted price while others do. So what are the benefits of me deciding to do two egg retrievals back to back as opposed to jumping right into a FET?

 

  • Doing the second cycle would definitely be included in the cost if I did back-to-back retrievals. If I did the FET right after the first retrieval and had a live birth my contract would end, which would make me lose out on an entire IVF cycle I had pre-paid for. In other words, I will be saving thousands of dollars if I do back-to-back cycles with my discount program.
  • My AMH/Ovarian reserve is very low and time is of the essence. The sooner I can do several egg retrievals the better.
  • Increasing the odds of giving potential children from this first cycle their siblings from a second cycle.
  • Take advantage of my flexible work schedule (on-call work) I have now and go ahead and do these egg retrievals. Most other jobs would not be as flexible.
  • I’ve met my out-of-pocket maximum for the year so any ultrasounds ($600 each), blood draws, and consultations with my local doctor would be covered entirely.
  • The only thing I’d have to pay for is the IVF medicine, plane tickets, and hotel to travel out of state for my IVF cycle again.

 

All I can say is I am over the moon I had this timely epiphany. For some reason this idea didn’t occur to me. Maybe it was the fact I was up all night and thinking non-stop about my next steps. I had my plans practically set to return the following month to do the FET. I could have missed out on a second IVF cycle had I not considered this more. But this epiphany changed my timeline for everything. Now I am starting to make plans for when I will come back for the second retrieval for this year.

 

Today was a beautiful day out. Mom and I went to the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. What an amazing day! It was so nice to get out. I was surprised I was doing so well the day after surgery. We did lots of walking around and spent a good part of the day just hanging out up in the Space Needle. I loved seeing the rotating glass-bottom floor. Pretty cool stuff.

 

 

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So the day overall was great. But I had a crying meltdown moment later on at the end of the night. Mom got a message from a relative asking if the doctors were optimistic about me having a baby. Mom mentioned their question to me. This seemingly benign question threw me into a fit of tears. The combination of my out-of-whack hormones post-surgery coupled with the reality that my odds of success are very low just made a blubbering mess. Poor mom didn’t know what the hell was wrong and I couldn’t articulate it quick enough because in the moment I didn’t know why I was crying. It was a pure emotional response.

 

Then Mom started crying. So there we were both crying, frustrated, and I’m still trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. I hear mom crying in the bathroom, blowing her nose. She seemed upset that she couldn’t console me.

 

Then she comes out and says half angry and half crying, “That stupid maid!”

“What?” I said, still sniffling but starting to calm down.

“The toilet paper! She didn’t give us any! I can’t believe this!”

Then I start to laugh hysterically. The way she said it was so comical to me.

 

This was either the second or third day in a row that the maid didn’t give us toilet paper. The one day we did manage to get more toilet paper we asked the front desk guy and apparently the wimp of a man couldn’t manage to get more than one roll from her. “She wouldn’t give me two rolls” he sheepishly said to me. So this toilet paper Nazi of a maid now has my mom crying even more. Mom heard me laughing and then started laughing too. We managed to scrape together some leftover restaurant tissues from our takeout meals and some tissues she had in her purse to get us through the night. No way in hell we were stepping outside our hotel room door because that part of town turns into a scene from Mad Max with all the anarchy that happens when the sun sets.

 

After we stopped crying and laughing I explained to her how I thought I started crying because of the hormones and the fact that my situation has never been considered optimistic. I think once I explained it to her it made more sense my reaction. I think there is a big difference between being optimistic versus staying positive. I am staying positive, which is a choice. But I would not say I’m optimistic because the reality is my ovarian reserve is incredibly low and it would be a miracle if I had a single biological baby in my life.

 

So today I had a whole range of emotions. Thank you crazy hormones. But I am thankful to have learned two things: 1) I can save a lot of money by doing two back-to-back egg retrievals, 2) If you hide the toilet paper in your room the maid will think you are out and give you more. Solving life problems from big to little. I feel pretty accomplished today. I will end this post with a happy note of my results from this egg retrieval thus far:

5 eggs retrieved

4 fertilized

1 embryo survived and will go through PGS testing.

 

Yahooooo! So incredibly happy to have this bit of hope to move forward with. Praying that this little embryo does not have the same chromosomal issue that causes me to have recurrent miscarriages. Hoping and praying this little one will make it past the testing.

 

 

 

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Day 10 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Trigger Shot Day!

Day 10 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Trigger Shot Day!

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

I woke up today with a migraine and I’m almost positive it’s because of the shots. I double checked with my doctor’s office and they said I am fine to take a Tylenol. Basically I’m trying to follow all the nutritional and medical advice as if I were already pregnant, which is essentially the best recommendations they have for women going through IVF. In general, Tylenol is okay during pregnancy (but always check with your doctor about your specific treatment plan). So the Tylenol actually did help me. I only had a couple migraines during the IVF injections which is not too bad for me considering my migraine history, I was expecting more.

 

So with today’s ultrasound still only showing four mature eggs I chose to be content with this. I understand that in comparison to most other women, from what I’ve seen in the online forums, my numbers are pretty low. But at the same time I’ve been diagnosed with very low AMH levels, so it wasn’t really that surprising to me for them to see only four. Yes it would have been nice to waddle into the clinic, so full to the brim with little eggs ripe for the picking, as I’ve heard other women talk about their massive amounts of bloating and massive amounts of eggs retrieved. But I came into this realistic. I knew fully well that the majority of women do not have a successful first round of IVF. In a way I mentally prepared myself for another let down. For me, it’s much healthier for me to have the statistics in front of me so I know what I’m dealing with, rather than be devastated with the false belief of a guarantee. The one thing I told myself was if this fails, at least they have a good gauge of what they need to do to alter my medications for better results next time. The first time is kind of a crapshoot really, they don’t know how your body will react until they try out some medicine on you first. That’s the really unscientific way of looking at it, but it kind of helps me think of it that way in terms of being hopeful that they know what to do better next time.

 

We went to a hipster pizza place today, think hipster coffee shop but replace the coffee with pizza. The music, the decorations, the ingredients, whole place was just the right amount of hipster, not too much. On the walls hung beautiful and striking art. One piece of art really stuck out to me and I kept looking at it as we ate our pizza. Then our conversation turned to the other piece above it and then the other ones further behind me. You could tell it was the same artist but each picture was unique. The emotion behind each one was intense and beautiful. The one I absolutely loved was of a woman holding her child to her chest, surrounded by nothing but ocean waves, standing on a single pile of rocks. The rocks were the mother’s foundation to which she was able to stay above the water to hold her baby. I loved it, and I don’t even have kids yet. If this IVF process works I’d love to be able to order that beautiful piece of art and hang it in our house. I’d like to tell my child of the struggles I went through and to have them and how they were so loved, even before they were born. In my mind it would be the best souvenir story ever.

 

The pizza was one of the few indulgences while doing IVF. I will say I’ve never eaten salad as much in my entire life as I have right before and during IVF. Salad pretty much daily, sometimes even a couple times in a day. I try to be super healthy but I’m not perfect. I had one can of Coke during IVF, overall I did pretty darn good reducing my caffine to just that, especially considering I like to have caffeine almost daily when I am not TTC.

 

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Beautiful sunset with sailboat, on our ferry ride headed back to Seattle.

 

So Mom and I went on a really nice ferry ride today at my husband’s suggestion. When he was here before me to do his “thing” he also took a ferry ride to Bainbridge to check out the casino. He said the ferry ride was his favorite thing he did while he was in Seattle for his brief stay. Unfortunately he cannot take anymore time off and with my retrieval it had to be postponed due to my little cyst. So by the time my body was ready for IVF, all of his time off (2 weeks) was used up. But it was a great suggestion he had for us, we took the ferry to Bremerton instead. It was peaceful and relaxing when the set of young twin boys weren’t screaming and tearing past us. Thankfully the parents had enough sense to walk the boys to different parts of the boat to help them burn up their energy. So it was peaceful about 75% of the time. We came back right at sunset and had a beautiful fiery red sunset, which I later found out was an extra vibrant red hue due to wildfires in the distance. My pictures don’t do it justice for how blood red it really was. Just as we were coming back they lit up the big ferris wheel. It was very pretty to come back to the city during that time.

 

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Ferry funsies.

 

We did not get to do anything in Bremerton, but for a very good reason. We got right back on the boat back to Seattle because I had a very important appointment to keep. My trigger shot! Oh yeah! Tonight is the night. After weeks and weeks of postponing my IVF due to the cyst I finally made it to this point. The fertility clinic took a marker and circled the target just at my belt line on my upper butt. I asked if Mom if she could do the honors because it’s just a weird angle to do it myself and I wanted to make absolutely sure that the shot got into the right spot. I did a video recording of the trigger shot, as well as instructions for the trigger shot, Menopur, and Follistim injections. I will be editing these here soon and will post them for everyone to see what it’s really like to give yourself daily shots for a few weeks. Honestly, it’s not that bad. The length of the trigger shot needle looks intimidating but the fact that it’s so thin a needle made it to where it really wasn’t that bad. Not near as bad as you might imagine. So in exactly 36 hours from the trigger shot I have my egg retrieval surgery. I’m hoping that the four eggs they plan to retrieve are of good enough quality. First thing tomorrow morning I have to take a pregnancy test to see if it is positive. This will tell me if the HCG trigger shot worked or not, hopefully it will so I don’t have to re-do all of this. I just hope I don’t have anymore delays.

 

 

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Day 8 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): First Day at Seattle Clinic

Day 8 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): First Day at Seattle Clinic

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

The plan for the day was that as soon as my flight landed we were to immediately go to my fertility clinic for my blood test and ultrasound. Normally they do this first thing in the morning, but I was getting there several hours past their normal cutoff time, but they said it would be okay in my case. My mom came with me for the trip because my husband cannot take anymore time off work. So here we were, my mom and I, dragging all our luggage into the clinic. I think we both felt quite silly, everyone was looking at us. It didn’t help matters that I had to keep digging into my bag to check all of my medication levels because I just remembered they needed a full inventory of what remains. I didn’t want to guess with those numbers because if I was off I could end up paying a lot more money. I felt kind of silly rummaging through my suitcase, feeling like everyone in the waiting room was looking at me.

 

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Upside-down and lid popped off. My folic acid pills scattered everywhere inside my suitcase.

 

I felt super out of place and frazzled. I didn’t sleep the night before or on the plane. But I told myself something that made me feel better about the whole situation, “I am exactly where I need to be and I am not out of place at all. This is the exact time for me to be here and the exact place I need to be.” This really reassured me. S***, with the amount of money I paid to the clinic I most definitely deserve to be there! Mom was feeling a little out of place there too. I told her that I was happy she was with me and not to worry about what anyone was thinking. I guarantee they were more worried about their egg count or their husband’s sperm motility and morphology. Because us women who deal with infertility have a real knack for being a little self-obsessed about the status of our womb more than anything. Am I right? I think the only thing they could have thought looking at us is possibly jealousy because my stomach looked so bloated from the medication that I already looked pregnant. I’m a big girl as it is, throw fertility medication on top of that and I looked like the Ghostbusters’ Marshmallow Man, all blimped out. I was kind of self-conscious about making other people sad, who may have thought I was pregnant when I was just a bloated fatty. Part of me wanted to say, “Don’t be sad, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat.” I was imagining the conversations I would have with other patients in the waiting room who would mistakenly think I was pregnant, and how I would explain my gut to people.

 

“Let me guess, 7 months?” a thin girl would ask me in the waiting room.

“Oh, I wish! Thank you. It looks like it though huh? I’m super bloated.” I would say.

“Oh I’m sorry…”

“Oh don’t be sorry. It’s these damn fertility drugs. You’re tiny now, just you wait!”

“Really?” her eyes would bug out.

“Oh yeah, I was tiny just like you before I started this.” I’d laugh, knowing I was totally lying and making her believe she was going to gain 50 pounds in two weeks.

 

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My clinic, Seattle Reproductive Medicine (SRM).

 

Nope, I’m just a plus-sized girl who only gained six pounds in a short amount of time, which is pretty average from what I hear. I’ve heard that a 10-pound weight gain is  average. So they called me back and I left Mom out in the waiting room to guard our pile of luggage, since I knew it was a routine blood draw and ultrasound. The doctor saw on the ultrasound I have four mature eggs that would be good for fertilization. We are doing ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) so hopefully that will increase our odds of success. I’m kind of disappointed I don’t have more eggs, or at least closer to the average of 10 eggs they were expecting. But then again I am diagnosed with a very low AMH level, so I suppose it’s better than nothing. I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve learned that staying positive and being optimistic are different things. You can stay positive despite the bleak outlook. It’s more of a decision you make, whereas I tend to view optimism to be aligned with good outcomes. My odds are very slim of this working, but I’d at least like the chance to look back and say that I tried all I could.

 

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Day 7 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Leaving on a Jet Plane

Day 7 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Leaving on a Jet Plane

Written prior to posted date.

 

So I have a ticket for the 6am flight out to Seattle. Today is the big day! I’m not sure whether I’ll sleep or not. I’ve been really busy preparing to for my trip. Non-stop on my feet for most of the day. I’ve been cleaning the house, packing my bags, printing the documents I need, while taking out the puppy every time he whines. I finally sat down to relax just now.

 

“One of the women in the IVF forums I’m on suggested I should take the time to document this process so I can show it to my kid someday. I think that made me even more committed to this process.”

 

I might take a brief hiatus from writing for the week and do catch-up entries later, that way I can really focus on being in the moment. Plus I start school tomorrow, an online class, so between that and IVF appointments daily I may not have a lot of time to write. I think I will take down quick notes for the day and then elaborate on them when I get some spare time in the day. I’m enjoying documenting this process. One of the women in the IVF forums I’m on suggested I should take the time to document this process so I can show it to my kid someday. I think that made me even more committed to this process. For now I’m using this blog to help other women and vice versa, but it would be really amazing to sit down and show my children what the process was actually like for me.

 

I didn’t really sleep well last night. Kurtis left early to go fishing, so of course I couldn’t go back to sleep when he left at 4am. I tried really hard to stay awake but I needed a nap. I took another long nap today, three hours. I felt good afterwards but I probably could have slept even more. I packed all my fat clothes, because I am hella bloated. I’m hoping that once they take out my eggs for the retrieval I’ll deflate like a balloon. But that’s probably not what happens. One can dream. I have literally an entire carry-on bag full of medicine. I’m worried if I don’t bring all of it that when I show up they may extend my dates and say, “You brought it all right?”

 

“If I can get through TSA without having a hormonal cry session that would be nice.”

 

What is taking up most of the space in my carry-on is the bubble packaging to cushion the medicine. I have four different shots, including one that needs refrigerated. I’m kind of hoping I don’t deal with an idiot at TSA for two reasons; 1) Not being educated about fertility medicine and seriously questioning my bag of medicine, 2) Being called to the side for heavy duty hand inspection over my sore stomach from injections and or over my vag area where I am having little jabs of pain. Please just let me through easily. If I can get through TSA without having a hormonal cry session that would be nice.

 

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