Answers please! When Can We Start Our Next IVF Cycle?

Just a few days ago I went in for some blood work in search of  some answers on where I am at in my cycle. I am currently on CD 36, which means my last period was 36 days ago.  Yikes!  Let me remind you, we had a failed FET in March, with a initial beta of zero – so we thought moving on to another fresh round of IVF wouldn’t take too long.

We are so anxious and excited to begin this IVF cycle, but can’t even think about it or do any further testing until my period comes.  I definitely thought I be on birth control pills (part of my IVF protocol) right now and getting close to my stimulation phase of my cycle.  Unfortunately, we are a few weeks behind in our plan.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a phone call from one of the nurses giving me the good news that my period is in sight or maybe they can induce it with Provera.   The answer I don’t want to hear is you’ll just have to keep waiting.  In a dream world they’ll call and say your PREGNANT!  Okay, so I know the chances of that happening are slim to none, but you never know.  Last week  I thought I felt that AF was in the near future, but here we are and nothing, nada, zilch!!!

Stay tuned, let’s hope we are on our way to IVF #2!

Fertility Forums

Fertility forums can be a great way to interact with others when you are struggling with infertility. With that said, they can also cause stress. I admit, I have a terrible addiction to fertility forums. I don’t know what it is, but I am drawn to reading about everyone else, while at the same time struggling with my own fertility issues.

I originally joined a forum in order to seek support and found it! All to often I have found that those who haven’t struggled with infertiliy truly don’t get it. That isn’t to say they aren’t supportive, but I don’t think they fully understand the heartache that goes along with it. The women and men on the fertiliy forums have first hand experiences of what I have gone through and am currently going through.

It wouldn’t be uncommon to find me reading for hours on a forum. Reading all kinds of things, both good and bad. Reading about women who are upset that they have to take Clomid-seriously?!?!? I’d love for Clomid to be my quick fix. I read about women who are nervous about doing an IUI-again, seriously?!?! Once again, totally jealous, I’d trade an IUI for IVF any day. Then I read about women who can do IVF and don’t have to pay a dime for it, why you ask-INSURANCE. Our insurance doesn’t cover anything, so lucky us (not), we are paying out of pocket. So I’ve found that I begin to get frustruated at all of these women who have it “better off” than I do.

I am quickly humbled as I read about women who aren’t able to use their own eggs or sperm for IVF – I feel fortunate because we can. I read about women who have egg retrievals and no eggs are to be found – I haven’t had that problem. I read about women who haven’t carried a baby for 9 months – I have and will be eternally grateful.

So, there’s good, there’s bad and there’s worse. We are all on these forums to give each other support. That’s what I am there to do-share my story in hopes that I can help someone else who is struggling. I am not there to see who has it worse off. I am not there to count the successes from other women, while counting my defeats. I am there because we all need support from each other, as infertility shouldn’t be dealt with alone.

Show Me The Money – Fertility Treatment Cost

One of the biggest stressors that couples face while battling infertility is, “How am I going to pay for this?” We are one of the unfortunate couples that don’t have an ounce of insurance coverage for infertility, which makes this process even more frustrating. Yes, you could go completely broke paying for treatments!! Good-bye vacations, good-bye big house, hello baby!

So now we are trying to figure out which route we are going to take. We can pay the doctor a flat fee, which will cover IVF with ICSI and pay for the meds from a local pharmacy separately. For some, this is the only option you have if you are seeking treatment without insurance coverage. Our doctor works with a program though which gives us two more choices. The first one being a refund plan, known as a shared risk program, where you pay a heck of a lot of money up front (not including $4,000-5,000 worth of meds). You are given up to 3 fresh IVF cycles and 3 frozen transfers. You are guaranteed a refund of 70% if you don’t bring home a baby from the hospital. In essence, if it works the first time you have “overpaid”…but have you really overpaid if you have a baby, I think not?!?!

With their other plan (still a lot of money, but not quite as much as the shared-risk plan) you are given two fresh cycles and two frozen cycles, but no refund.

Lot’s to consider!

Single Embryo Transfer & Our Second FET!!!

Okay! Round 2 – Here We Go!

I am just finishing my first pack of birth control pills in order to regulate my cycle for our upcoming FET in March. About 10 days about I had a “sono-mock” done by one of our fertility doctors. This procedure involves a mock transfer as well as filling the uterine cavity with fluid and viewing it with ultrasound to make sure that everything looks good. Both procedures went smoothly and things are moving right along. After I finish this pack of pills, I will continue into a second pack and then begin Estrace in order to help build my uttering lining. The past two days were a little rough, I experienced a migraine each day, from which I believe is from the pills that I am on. The first migraine wasn’t too bad, but yesterday’s was an entirely different story-that one was a whopper! (So far so good day-keep your fingers crossed!)

I also began acupuncture again from the same gal who treated me before. At this point, I am just going once a week and then once we are about a month out from the transfer I will begin going twice a week. It gets tricky trying to work out all of these appointments with a one-year old around. I enjoy relaxing once I am there.

This is getting very exciting, but along with the excitement does come nerves and a bit of anxiety. We will be doing a single embryo transfer because that is all we have left-and we are sure hoping it brings a beautiful little addition to our family in late November.

Breastfeeding Troubles

Kate Sleeping After Nursing

I knew I wanted to breastfeed Kate and began doing so shortly after her birth. After a bit of help from the postpartum nurses, we were a great team and both mommy and baby were successful! Although it did take quite a bit of getting used to, I really enjoyed our moments together when I was nursing. It truly is an amazing bond!

With that said, the tenderness, leaking, engorgement, and back pain did cause a little frustration. I was impressed at how fast the baby weight came off as well, and I do attribute it to nursing. When Kate was around 2 months old, she began fussing a bit at the breast and I became a little worried. She would nurse, but not nearly as long as she should have and sometimes I wouldn’t even have a letdown. I knew she wasn’t getting enough to eat. I became more and more concerned and started reading everything that I could about nursing. I thought maybe it was something “with me” and she wasn’t getting enough milk, or maybe it was coming too slow or too fast?!

It wasn’t long before, I had a lactation consultant come to the house to offer breastfeeding advice and support. She weighed Kate and even watched her nurse. Maybe it was possibly a latch issue? When the consultant left, she concluded it was the dairy in my diet that was causing Kate to nurse for a few minutes and then pull off, cry and push away. I can’t tell you how frustrating this was, being a new mommy and I couldn’t feed my baby! She told me to cut the dairy out of my diet and things would improve.

I immediately cut the dairy out and was anxiously waiting for things to get better. I was told it could take a few weeks. Things did not get better so in the meantime we were at the pediatrician 3 times and were finally referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. (Keep in mind the pediatrician really didn’t think it was a food issue, but he was perplexed, as was everyone else that I shared my struggles with.) The GI specialist agreed that it was a food tolerance and more specifically a protein intolerance in ALL dairy foods and possibly even soy.

So I continued to cut out the dairy and I really watched the amount of soy I ate. Things would get better for awhile and then she’d become so incredibly fussy so we’d end up back at square one. During all of this, I was pumping throughout the day and trying to nurse here and there. I didn’t want to lose my breast milk, because I was so committed to nursing. After about 3 more months of pumping and sporadically nursing I had to call it quits because we didn’t see consistent improvement with Kate. I had such a hard time quitting as I felt I was a failure. The specialist said that it could be too many things causing the problems: dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts just to name a few.

There was no way I could eliminate all of this from my diet, especially because we still didn’t know exactly what item(s) were the culprit! So in the end, we put Kate on a very specialized formula called Elecare and that did the trick. After having her on this formula for about a week, she was an entirely different baby!

Moral to the story: you can’t plan everything and although I would have liked to nurse her for a year I learned I needed to “Go with the flow!” We now have a very happy and healthy baby that is almost 9 months old and is gradually working in wheat, soy and dairy. The GI believes she has outgrown the intolerance.

Hopefully others who experience this will see our post and be able to check into any food tolerances earlier than later. It was a pretty easy fix with the special formula (Elecare) once we got the problem pinpointed.

Going Back 9 Months – Our Delivery Story in Short

Kate Delivery

It’s been way too long since I last posted. Baby Katherine is already here and is just shy of 9 months. Who ever knew that 9 months could go so fast? Let’s rewind to last December when our little princess arrived.

We went to the hospital for an induction on a Thursday, thinking that I would deliver by that evening. The induction began early that morning and I was hooked up to Pitocin and even had an epidural by 7 a.m. (The epidural was due to a low platelet count, not pain at that point.) The next three days were spent in Labor and Delivery….drugs, interventions, pushing, contractions….you name it!!! Finally on Saturday morning, we had a C-Section (my bones were too narrow to deliver her naturally!) It was quite the ordeal getting her into this beautiful world (induction + 3 epidurals + 3 days later = spinal and c-section and one tired mommy!)

I remember the moment that I first held her and I thought to myself mine, she’s actually mine! It’s an amazing feeling holding your baby for the very first time. Even more amazing is the fact that not too long ago we even wondered if we’d be able to have children. The once microscopic tiny frozen embryo was now a beautiful, dark haired baby. I am reminded everyday that miracles do indeed happen.

So now at 9 months we are enjoying life as a family of 3 and couldn’t be happier! I am so looking forward to keeping you updated in all the pleasures that life holds with a baby as well as the joys of celebrating a successful Frozen Embryo Transfer.

Baby Gender Selection

Baby Sex Selection
Baby Sex Selection

Yes, we are living in a day and age where couples are able to select the sex of their baby prior to pregnancy. Whether or not you believe in this practice, it is being done. Some couples desire to have a child of a particular sex in order to prevent certain medical illness, while others simply want to even out their families. Without using sex selection techniques you have about a 50% of conceiving a male child and a 50% chance of conceiving a female child. Sex selection methods are done to increase the odds in favor of having either a male or female child. Sex selection is a very controversial procedure, and as you can imagine many ethical and moral concerns come with it.

Sex selection is also commonly referred to as gender selection. Dependent on the method that you choose, you may only be increasing your chances of a particular sex by a small percentage or it can be as much as 99.9 % accurate.

Gender or Sex Selection Methods

The Gradient Method of sex selection is the least expensive of sex selection technologies. With that said, it also yields the poorest success rates of all three methods. Sperm from the father is placed in a fast spinning machine called a centrifuge. The goal is to have the X and Y-chromosomes separate. X chromosomes weigh more and the hope is that they will be identifiable through this separation process. Sperm then from whichever sex is desired is selected and used for IUI. This procedure on average will cost a couple $600.00 not including the cost and fees associated with IUI.

Flow Cytometry is another sperm sorting technique. Fluorescent dye is used to identify the X chromosomes. The dye will stick genetic material of the sperm. It is thought that the sperm with the chromosomes X will have more dye because they are made of more genetic material. The X and Y sperm are then separated with the use of a laser machine. Desired sperm is then used for IUI or IVF. Success rates with flow cytometry are much greater, about a 60-70% chance of conceiving a child of the desired sex.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is one of the most successful techniques for sex selection. The process is complex and it involves the creation of embryos. Once the eggs have been fertilized and embryos have been created, the embryos will be analyzed for cell structure and DNA. The embryo is given time to divide and after about 3-4 days one cell is removed from each embryo. This one cell will be able to give information of the genetic makeup (gender) of the embryo. The desired embryos are then used for the embryo transfer for IVF. PGD yields about 99% accuracy for achieving the desired gender. PGD is much more expensive, it ranges from $2,000 and $4,000 plus the costs related to the IVF procedures.

25 Weeks Pregnant Today!

Our First Little Girl, Kate At 24 Weeks
Our First Little Girl, Kate At 24 Weeks

I am just at 25 weeks and can’t believe it! In the beginning, the pregnancy seemed to be going by very slow and now it seems like the weeks are passing by in the blink of an eye. I had a doctor’s appointment and an ultrasound last week and everything looks great. I always get excited to see the doctor. The appointments don’t consist of much other than a urine sample, weight and blood pressure, but just the mere fact that I am there as a pregnant patient makes it exciting in itself. As I have mentioned before, I really love my doctor and she always puts a smile on my face. I had to get a test done for CMV because I found out that a child in my school in a carrier. As I understand it, CMV can cause some pregnancy complications, including birth defects, but practicing good hygiene habits should help keep me healthy…. needless to say, hand sanitizer is my best friend.

I did get a call today from the doctor’s office because I needed to reschedule some of my appointments and I found out that she is gone the week that I am due…major bummer!!! There are three doctors in the practice and I have met two, so I look forward to meeting the third. You never know who will be on call when I deliver.

At my ultrasound everything looked perfect! She was hiding her face through most of it, so we didn’t get a lot of facial pictures. The ultrasound technician also mentioned how active she was. (Yes, I know!!!) They guessed her weight at about 1.8 pounds, which puts her at the 56th percentile. I’ll be anxious to see how much she weighs at birth.

This past weekend Mike and I headed to Babies “R” Us to begin our registry. Doing it on the weekend was not smart as the store was crowded with babies, pregnant women, and clueless dads. We did enjoy ourselves though and Mike had fun scanning all of the merchandise. We weren’t able to complete the entire registry, but we’ve got a great start. I need to do a little more research on some things and get some advice from my friends that are experienced moms before we add any more to the registry. As I told Mike, “It’s a work in progress!”

We are also in the beginning stages of starting the nursery. It has been cleaned out (thanks to Mike) and decisions are being finalized with bedding selections. We were able to order the crib and dresser a week ago and will have to decide on a rocker in the near future (I am waiting on fabric samples from the bedding to match up with fabric for the rocker.) I am envisioning a beautiful pink and white nursery when it’s all complete.

All in all, I am feeling great and loving life. I am able to keep up my energy at work and have continued with water aerobics about 3 times a week. I am falling asleep without effort and night and am frequently awakened by kicking and hand movements throughout the night. I couldn’t be happier and I am anxious to see what the next few weeks bring.

22 Weeks Pregnant & Feeling Great!

Wendi at 22 Weeks!
Wendi at 22 Weeks!

I am 22 weeks and feeling better than ever. My belly is expanding and I am feeling our little girl move all around…such an amazing feeling! I had to head back to work this week, as school starts in a few days. I will miss my usual summer days of water aerobics; instead I will have to opt for the evening classes. I will definitely miss the bright summer mornings working out in the Arizona sun.

I didn’t tell my coworkers that I was pregnant, so arriving back at school this week was exciting in itself. I bought a t-shirt that said “Tickled Pick” to announce the wonderful news that we were expecting. Many friends and coworkers said that I wasn’t showing much, but not being able to fit into my old clothes is a sure sign that I am indeed pregnant and growing. I feel like I am walking around school glowing and am really happy when I am congratulated. (If everyone really knew what a feat it was to get pregnant in the first place!!!) I am anxious to see how some of the parents of my students will react, as parents are sometimes weary of having a “pregnant” teacher. They are concerned about the amount of time I will be away from the classroom. So needless to say, I am working on finding the perfect fit for a substitute teacher while I am on my maternity leave. That’s awhile off, so I thought I’d post something fun…I thought of “22” things I am enjoying at 22 weeks pregnant.

  1. Actually beginning to look like I am pregnant.
  2. Slowly fitting into my maternity clothes.
  3. Feeling so happy!
  4. Feeling the baby move.
  5. Seeing the baby move.
  6. Having Mike feel the baby move.
  7. Picking out our babies name, “Katherine”.
  8. Not having to keep my pregnancy a secret anymore at work.
  9. Buying the cutest little girl outfits.
  10. Trying to find her the perfect bedding.
  11. Picking out her nursery furniture.
  12. A hearty appetite.
  13. Energetic!
  14. Gathering advice from friends and family.
  15. Spending quality time with my husband.
  16. Thinking about all of the possibilities for middle names.
  17. Beginning to prepare the nursery.
  18. My ever-growing belly!
  19. Getting ready to register.
  20. Enjoying cat naps while I can still take them.
  21. My new body pillow.
  22. Thinking PINK, PINK, PINK!