My CCRM IVF Journey

Our successful journey through IVF #2 at one of the world's top fertility clinics

Archive for the ‘Daring to Hope’ Category

Riding on Their Coattails (Pgs mentioned)

Posted by auntiem10 on November 23, 2010

I’m guessing that many visitors who happen upon this blog are here because they are considering CCRM and wondering if it’s “worth it.” After all, an IVF cycle at CCRM can be quite a burden–it’s quite expensive compared to many clinics, and you have to travel several times to Denver and stay for an extended period of time while stimming. Definitely not an easy investment on a financial, logistical, or emotional level. It makes sense that you would want to read about others’ success before making such a huge decision.

I am still seven weeks, six days away from our FET, so I can’t provide much reassurance to you (yet!!!). But today, I thought I would highlight the recent success of some of my friends in blogland, in the hopes that you’ll feel more excited (and possibly reassured?!) after reading their stories. I am riding on their coattails while waiting for our transfer, my excitement increasing with each BFP, and I hope their stories give you hope as well.

My friend Cassie is in her second trimester after trying and trying again, and finding success in a donor IVF cycle at CCRM.

My friend mylifechronicles recently saw two heartbeats after a successful transfer of two CCS normal embryos (a 3AB and 5BB). Crossing my fingers that things continue to go well!

My friend Maggie is also celebrating two heartbeats after a successful transfer of two CCS normal embryos (a 5AA and 5BB).

My friend Lindsay is ALSO celebrating two heartbeats after a successful transfer of two CCS normal embryos (her normals were graded 5BA, 4BB, and 3BB–not exactly sure which were transferred). Can you believe all of the twins?!

My friend Susie is nearing her due date with boy/girl twins–two CCS normal embryos, graded 3AA and 5AA. Her success story occurred right around the time we were deep in planning/saving mode for our CCRM cycle, and her story gave me so much hope.

My friend Pie braved the yucky Depot Lupron side effects before her successful elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET) of a CCS normal 4BB blast.

My friend Lisa is awaiting her first ultrasound this Friday after nicely rising HCG levels after her elective single embryo transfer of a CCS normal 5AA blast using DE. She’s currently experiencing spotting, so I hope she doesn’t mind me adding her to this list. (If so, let me know.)

And finally, I’m hoping that running_girl will be our next success story. Her first beta is Saturday after transferring 6AA and 5AB CCS normal blasts last week. Fingers crossed for a nice, high HCG level!

There are several others–forum buddies and people who have emailed me directly instead of commenting–who are also celebrating success. From my perspective, it was without a doubt “worth it” for us, and my hope is that these success stories will give you hope that it could be “worth it” for you, too.

Posted in Daring to Hope | 9 Comments »

Twelve Weeks Away

Posted by auntiem10 on October 29, 2010

Yesterday I e-mailed our nurse at CCRM and inquired about whether there is any way to speed up our FET timeline slightly, by taking less BCPs or something. I know, I am crazy, but even moving it up by a week would make a huge difference for me psychologically. Why do I need to take 19 BCPs AND inject more lupron for suppression when I’ll just be coming out of two months of menopause thanks to Depot Lupron? I’m guessing she will roll her eyes when she reads my message, but I had to ask. But as it stands today, our FET is exactly 12 weeks away, and I start BCPs exactly six weeks from today (on my birthday!). Twelve Fridays from now, we should be in Denver, preparing to see our little embryos for the first time.

We are actually feeling hope and optimism, which is very new for us. We are glass-half-full kind of people, but not when it comes to this battle. We’ve recently instituted middle-of-the-week date night, because we both agree that we should soak up date nights together before our world is rocked by diapers and bedtimes. This is really the first time that we’ve acknowledged that an actual baby might result from this transfer. Wow, what a feeling.

Last weekend was a little rough for me emotionally. We attended a wedding with my DH’s family. Inevitably, there was plenty of discussion about my SIL’s pregnancy. The baby was kicking up a storm, and everyone was excited that they’ve chosen her name. Additionally, my BIL had felt her kick for the first time that day. The pastor that I previously mentioned in my cringeworthy post last month was also a wedding guest, and he congratulated my father-in-law on his impending granddaughter. My FIL thanked the pastor and gripped my shoulder and then gently said, “Now we’re just waiting for “Auntie Em” and “Auntie Em’s Hubby” to catch up.” My eyes uncontrollably welled up with tears, and I had to walk away. If only he knew how hard we are trying to catch up, and what we will have gone through when we (hopefully) do announce our own pregnancy next year. We will probably share some details about this process next year, but right now they have no clue that we’ve even been to Denver. The secretiveness is our choice, and we feel it’s the right one for us, but once in a while I wish they knew just how hard we’re working to win this war.

I did slip up a bit a few weeks ago, when my BIL innocently tried to thrust ultrasound pictures of their daughter in my face. This was right after we returned from Denver, and they had attended the gender reveal ultrasound while we were gone and wanted to share the detailed pictures of our new niece. When he tried to hand me the pictures, I abruptly excused myself and announced that I had to use the restroom. I just couldn’t look at those pictures right at that moment, but I’m sure it was so obvious. I stood in the bathroom for a minute, flushed the stool, regained control, and rejoined the family. But I feel terrible for not handling this better because they are so nice and deserve every ounce of happiness. Ugh. I’m trying, that’s all I can say. I cried all the way home, again. My poor hubby.

The day after the wedding, I met my MIL and non-pregnant-SIL at a restaurant for lunch and baby shower planning session #1. I’m choosing to participate in the planning because I simply don’t want to ostracize myself from the family or cause anyone to resent me. I sometimes feel on the bubble of the family anyway, since I was the last member to join and my DH doesn’t want to visit his parents as often as his siblings do. My coping strategy for the shower is actually to be absolutely as involved as possible, which sounds kind of ironic. The way this strategy plays out in my head, I will simply be too busy dealing with the details to dwell on my own infertility. I volunteered for SO many duties–penning the invitations, preparing all kinds of food, making the diaper cake, etc. I think being as busy as possible during the actual event will make it easier for me to handle. And hopefully, the effort I’ll be putting into this shower will help me to seem supportive, despite the few public displays of pain that I’ve shown since their announcement.

Tonight we are going to dinner with the family again, and tomorrow I’m heading to my hometown to visit friends and then the hubby and I are attending two Halloween parties in the evening. Sunday we’ll be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. Last year at this time, I felt like we were so very far away from achieving our goal. And this year, I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is 12 weeks away. We’re over the hump, and that is a good feeling.

Posted in Daring to Hope, FET, Struggles | 5 Comments »

The Next Two-Week Waits

Posted by auntiem10 on October 12, 2010

It’s been a few days since my last post… I think I’m kind of coming down from the “high” that came with traveling to Denver, stimming, retrieving all those eggs, and then waiting for the day 6 report. I still can’t quite believe that we ended up with such good results! Although we were very much hoping for at least five blasts to biopsy, we never dreamed that they would receive such high grading. Not bad for two people who were told 18 months ago locally that we should move on to a DE cycle! : ) There’s no doubt in my mind that the expertise of CCRM’s lab, as well as a carefully chosen protocol selected by Dr. Surrey, played a huge part in our success up to this point.

So now, we’re in two different two-week waits, the most significant of which is for the report that will indicate if any of our six blasts are chromosomally normal. A technique called “polymerase chain reaction” (PCR) is used by CCRM’s lab to determine how many copies of each chromosome is found for the embryo. This technique has been perfected by CCRM’s lab personnel during the past several years, but has only recently become their primary method for testing embryos. A “normal” embryo has two copies of each chromosome–one inherited from the mother, and one inherited from the father. When an embryo has more or less than two copies of a certain chromosome, then a miscarriage or serious illness may occur. If you choose to have your embryos undergo CCS testing, then CCRM only transfers chromosomally normal embryos, or embryos for which testing showed “no result” (meaning the testing was inconclusive but also did not indicate chromosomal abnormalities). If an embryo is reported as “no result,” the patient can have it retested or choose for or against transferring it. This information was all explained to us during our genetic consult.

Recently, the wait from the Day 6 report until the “normals” report had only been taking about two weeks. However, the embryologist let me know that the results may take a little longer currently because of the demand for this technology. I’m still counting down the days as if it’s a two-week wait, because once we hit the two-week mark, the news may arrive at any time. Eleven days to go!

I’m honestly much calmer with this wait than I was with our day 6 report. Perhaps I’ll become more nervous as the days pass, but psychologically, I felt the day 6 report was the biggest hurdle we would face during this process. I knew my body was capable of making lots of eggs, but I wasn’t sure we could make blasts, especially any of good quality. It is definitely possible that all six of our blasts could be chromosomally abnormal, but I finally feel the teeniest bit optimistic. And that feels pretty good!

The other two-week wait I’m going through currently is the wait for my lovely AF. I was told that I could expect her about two weeks after the egg retrieval. Once she does show up, I will have my first of two Depot Lupron injections at my local RE’s office. The second injection will be scheduled for 30 days after the first. This medicine will put my body into menopause for 60 days (read: hot flashes), and in the process it will work its magic on my uterine lining so that I will have the sticky proteins needed for implantation. Lack of these proteins (beta 3 integrins) is sometimes associated with moderate to severe endometriosis. So even though I didn’t have the endometrial biopsy to test for the sticky proteins due to a mix-up, Dr. Surrey decided to take a “better safe than sorry” approach because of my history and encouraged us to do the Depot Lupron treatment anyway. I don’t have insurance coverage for this medication, and it is expensive–$754.99 per injection. Yuck! But if it works, it will be worth it a million times over!

No AF yet, but that’s okay. I’m perfectly content to be free of injections, bleeding, and hormonal side effects for the time being! : )

Posted in Chromosome Testing (CCS), Daring to Hope, Depot Lupron, IVF Take Two | 2 Comments »

Touching a Statue

Posted by auntiem10 on September 27, 2010

This spring, the hubby and I went on a little weekend trip to St Louis, Missouri. We had tickets to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight regional games, but when our team shockingly lost in the first round, we decided we were too heartbroken to watch the surviving teams play. So instead, we filled our days with a visit to the arboretum… science museum… Union Station, and other sites. On the last day, we visited the St Louis Art Museum. And there, we saw a 1400-year-old Fertility Statue:

Cute, isn’t it?! (Haha.)

The security around that place was tight. Guards roamed all around, acting as eagleyes and chastising people who stood too close to the art. Despite our undeniable role in life as rule-followers, my hubby MADE me touch this statue, thinking its powers would spread to me. You had to be there, but it was hilarious. He stood watch until the nearest guard had her back turned, and he pumped his arm up and down to give me the all-clear signal. I tip-toed over to the statue and laid my hand on it. We giggled later and talked about how we are such rebels! Ha.

I wonder if this 1400-year-old statue served as a good-luck charm for many a woman back in the day. Will its powers still exist over ten centuries later? We shall see in early 2011! : )

Posted in About Me, Daring to Hope | 4 Comments »

Optimism

Posted by auntiem10 on June 8, 2010

I’m not sure why, but today I’m feeling so gosh darn optimistic about our upcoming cycle! I may be a fool and way too naive, but I can’t help it. For the first time since being labeled an “infertile,” I truly feel like we’re getting the best care. I never 100% trusted my RE at my former clinic, and it turns out that I had good reason not to trust her.

Edited to Add: I fully realize that there is a chance that our cycle may not be successful, but I think I will find comfort in knowing that we are going to the best. And I apologize if the first paragraph of this blog entry is insensitive to anyone out there who has not found success via CCRM.

Part of my positive attitude is probably the result of telling my boss yesterday about our upcoming cycle. He is actually the only person, besides us (and you of course!) who knows of our plans. The hubby is waiting until next month to clue in his boss, and we aren’t planning to tell friends/family until our cycle is completely over (which I’ll talk about in a future post). My job is very project-based, and projects due in late August are already being assigned to members of my team. I wanted him to know so that he can schedule around me during the month of October. My boss and his wife went through IVF and now have a 2-year-old son, so he knows all about the emotional, physical, and financial burden placed on those enduring infertility treatments. He learned about CCRM through a neighbor who (successfully) cycled there, and yesterday he referred to it as “the Mayo Clinic of infertility.” It felt really great to hear him say that, and he was 100% supportive of the fact that I’ll be missing up to two weeks of work this fall. I am lucky to have a supervisor who totally empathizes with our struggles.

Today marks one week of really tracking what I’m eating, and so far I have lost 4.8 lbs since last Tuesday! I feel great already, honestly. I’ve totally eliminated coffee from my diet at this point, reduced my soda intake to one/day, have been eating a more vegetable-based diet, and have been walking briskly at least 30 minutes/day. I’ve been drinking at least 80 oz of water/day, and I haven’t drank a drop of wine or booze in over a week. We’ve been focusing on eating more homemade foods (like making homemade pizza and BBQ sauce) instead of buying processed foods. This saves money and helps us to know exactly what is in the food we are eating. We also tried our first grass-fed steak and organic produce. I’m really excited about our new healthy lifestyle and am trying to approach it like it’s just another part of our IVF protocol.

Last weekend was great! On Friday, we drove with our pooches to our favorite park (near our old house) and briskly walked around it. Then we came home and enjoyed a yummy dinner and started watching the HBO miniseries The Pacific (which is great if you enjoy WWII history!). Saturday I drove to my hometown, had one of my high school best friends cut my hair, and then had lunch with my college best friend. It was great to see both of them. My college friend has a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old twins (with whom she got pregnant basically the first month of TTC), but she is so amazingly supportive of our IF struggles. She asks a lot of questions about the procedures and always makes sure to let me know that she is praying hard for us. I just ❤ her. Sunday my hubby went fishing with his buddy, and I cleaned, gardened, and relaxed. In the evening, we made an out-of-this-world BBQ chicken pizza together. Cooking together is really one of our favorite things, and it was so much fun. It was truly a great weekend!

Today is Cycle Day 33 and there is still no sign of AF. I’m starting to feel those familiar rumblings in my reproductive region, though, so I’m sure she is preparing to rear her ugly head. In just four months, I’ll be waiting for AF so that I can get the show on the road! Sometimes the wait seems neverending, but other days (like today), time seems like it’s flying. I think it helps that the wait is during the summertime, when we usually stay pretty busy. It will be here before I know it!

Posted in About Me, Daring to Hope | 4 Comments »

Recovering from Anxiety

Posted by auntiem10 on May 2, 2010

Sooo… last night I think I had a little bit of an anxiety attack! : ) My husband doesn’t really talk a lot about our upcoming cycle, except for things like logistics or tests. So I was surprised last night when he told me that he has been picturing us as a family of three. He’s very practical, and I wasn’t sure that he even allowed himself to think that far ahead. It melts my heart to hear him talk about us expanding our family because he will be the sweetest, most loving dad. But at the same time, my heart breaks because the situation is out of my control. I know that my infertility hurts him, and I hate that. He never blames me, but I know the pain is there.

I am a very glass-half-full type of person, but the stakes are so high this time around that a small part of me is worried like crazy. I am guessing all CCRMers feel the same way, considering the expense and time involved in the process. It’s been nearly a month since we were at CCRM for our one-day work-up, and I guess the unbelievable hope and magic we felt in Denver has faded a bit. I really think our chances are better at CCRM than anywhere else in the country, but they are not a magic bullet. Reading about others’ experiences has made this fact all too real for me.

Today, I’m back in control of my emotions. I’m going to try to keep my blog entry freak-outs to a minimum, but I’m guessing that last night’s post won’t be the only one during this process! : )

Posted in Daring to Hope | 3 Comments »

HOPE

Posted by auntiem10 on April 20, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

When my husband K and I left CCRM on the day of our One Day Work-Up (ODWU), we both agreed that really, for the first time since waging our battle with infertility, we felt HOPE.

Forget the fancy clinic, the state-of-the-art equipment, the success rates, the additional testing, the famous fountain in the lobby, or the doctors’ expertise. For us, the greatest difference between going to CCRM and cycling at our previous local clinic is that little four-letter word. Hope.

We both feel like our previous local clinic basically set us up for failure from the get-go. They told us I would respond poorly to stimulating meds; they were wrong. They suggested we move on to donor eggs; CCRM suggested our issues are not that alarming. They doubted I can produce any chromosomally normal eggs; CCRM did not even suggest CCS testing. They burdened us with the opinion that our chemical pregnancy was our fault; CCRM thinks a better protocol/more careful monitoring/a better lab will make all the difference for us.

Until we traveled to Denver, I hadn’t fully realized what an amazing burden we have carried on our shoulders since that terrible beta day last year. We felt like freaks because we were young and had such poor results. For the better part of 2009, I felt burned… bitter and jealous… my feet thrown out from under me… completely deflated… in despair and grieving… struggling under water… trying to escape self-blame. It has been, by far, the most painful internal struggle of my life.

So to walk out of CCRM 13 days ago, feeling euphoric and hopeful for the first time, was incredible. For the first time in a year, we allowed ourselves to imagine getting our very own BFP and seeing that baby’s heartbeat on an ultrasound screen. And for the first time in a long time, we truly felt lighter than air. And it wasn’t just the altitude!

Posted in Daring to Hope | 3 Comments »