ALL the updates

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Holy moly you guys, do I have ALL the updates for you. First of all, I started an infertility instagram account and that is the best place to go if you want really current updates on what is going on with me and my infertility treatments.

So basically I started my micro-dose lupron IVF cycle at the end of January. I did 0.2 ml of a diluted lupron dose morning and night and then added in 225 IU menopur in the morning and 225 IU gonal F in the evenings. I did this for 11.5 days. The highest my estrogen got was 62. After 11.5 days of stims we should almost be ready to trigger, so my estrogen should have been closer to 1,000 and it was friggin SIXTY TWO. So disappointing.

The numbers I shared on Instagram: 11.5 days. 50 injections. $3,000. And a cancelled cycle. 

But I knew this was what I needed to move onto donor eggs and truly leave my own eggs behind, and I was grateful for the closure.

Anyways, as you all may remember from last summer, 12 days after I stopped taking my stims in my first IUI cycle my estrogen jumped to over 900 and I got my first natural period in 10 months.

So I asked my doctor if I could continue to be monitored. They told me to go for a blood test on Wednesday (one week after my last injection).

I went on Wednesday and found out today (Thursday afternoon) that my estrogen has jumped up to 462. Huge increase in a week! Especially since after 11 days it only went from 19 to 60…. My LH was also 7.6 which is a NORMAL range – also good news because with my condition I tend to have elevated LH levels and it being at 7.6 means I haven’t ovulated yet.

The nurse wants me to come to Kelowna so they can do a scan and check on my follicles. So I am flying to Kelowna tomorrow night (Friday), spending the night in Vancouver and arriving in Kelowna at 8:15am on Saturday morning. I have a 9:30am ultrasound to check on my follicles.

I did take an ovulation test tonight (the expensive kind! the below box of 10 tests cost me $80) and unfortunately it showed up as “low”, which was a bit disappointing. But I will take two more ovulation tests tomorrow and we will see what the scan shows on Saturday… Also, even though it showed up as “low” I have had egg white cervical mucus and very sore nipples – signs of ovulation for me, so fingers crossed it’s on it’s way!!

Hopefully it shows some follicles growing! And if they are fully mature we are going to trigger ovulation, fly my husband down and do an IUI. I’m not super excited about doing an IUI as I know the success rate is much, much lower. But it’s worth a shot, right?!

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So that’s where I’m at. So much craziness. So much money spent. So so so much money. But, I know if it works it will all be worth it. And if it doesn’t work, well we have 30 more years to work and pay off any debts we accumulate trying. I don’t think I will ever regret trying my very hardest to have a baby with my own eggs.

That’s my update! Kind of crazy. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that the scan on Saturday goes well and we see some follicles. I will post more updates on instagram for sure, and hopefully on here soon. Stay tuned!

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First IVF Cycle…and go!

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Hi Everyone,

Long time no chat. I wanted to drop in quickly and let you all know that with my first injection of Lupron tonight we have officially started our first IVF cycle.

How did we get here so suddenly?

Well when I spoke with my doctor in November 2016 we were planning on shooting for a February IVF cycle and I had just gone back on HRT to manage my night sweats, hot flashes and irritability – all symptoms of POF. I started taking Prometrium instead of Provera (a different kind of progesterone) because the provera made me bloat so badly. I also learned that I need to take estrogen DAILY and then take prometrium 10 days of the month. So I started the HRT and November, no cycle, December no cycle, January no cycle. Clearly the HRT was only bringing on cycles before because I was (mistakenly) going off the estrogen.

We were going to go off the estrace on February 10 to force a cycle because as soon as my estrogen levels drop I would bleed automatically, but then 3 days ago I suddenly got a bleed. And it was heavy, and strong. It was also 15 days after my last dose of prometrium so it’s possible I even ovulated. The doctor said there was no point in delaying and she recommended I start my medications now.

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40 or 50 frantic emails with the IVF coordinator / nurse and a big box of medications were Fed Ex’d up to me today. I did my first dose of Lupron tonight and will be getting up at midnight to do another, then tomorrow I will be on the regular 6am and 6pm timetable. I am doing a Micro-dose Lupron protocol that includes lupron, gonal F and menopur.

Already between the meds and the clinics monitoring fee this has cost us over $5,000. If we make it to egg retrieval (which don’t get me wrong, I’d be thrilled about) that would be another $5,000. All this to say, that this is kind of our ‘one shot’ at IVF. I don’t want to continue throwing money and hopes & dreams at it if it doesn’t work. This is my ‘closure’ IVF. I knew that I had to give it one last good solid try with my OE (own eggs) before moving onto donor egg IVF.

I am really just focusing on taking it one step at a time right now. Focusing on mixing my medications properly, taking my injections and just making it through the days. I will go for my first blood test on February 1 and will report back then on how things are coming along. I also splurged and bought the Circle & Bloom IVF Meditation program as I really am a strong believer in the mind/body connection. I’ll be doing my first session before bed tonight.

Please keep us in your thoughts / prayers etc. Thank you!

Goodbye 2016

I know it’s only December 20, but I leave tonight on vacation for the next 10 days so I doubt I will post again before the new year. I am wishing 2016 goodbye and good riddance. The last two years have been incredibly difficult and I am not sad at all to say goodbye to 2016. I entered both 2015 and 2016 thinking I would be pregnant / have a baby by the end of the year. I am not entering 2017 with the same optimism.

2015 started off on such a high note. After four long years of my husband going to university he was done and working full-time at a job he enjoyed. I also loved my job at the time. I went off birth control in January of 2015 after 10 years on it. In April of 2015 we went to Maui on vacation and officially started “trying”. Life was perfect.

A week after returning home from Maui my husband was suddenly and unexpectedly laid off from his job. The next four months were some of the most difficult on our marriage. Unemployment and lay-offs are not an easy thing to get through. During the same time I was having some serious health issues – no cycle, hot flashes, night sweats. My husband went back to work at the end of August 2015 and in November 2015 I was officially diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure and referred to a fertility clinic.

My husband spent the next four months working his butt off after work and on weekends to get a supervisor ticket, which was supposed to ensure his job security, only to be laid off again the first day back to work in January after the Christmas holidays.

At the end of January 2016 we had our first appointment at the fertility clinic and I sobbed through the entire thing as I was told my only real chance of being pregnant would be donor egg IVF.

In February we both began applying for jobs in our hometown, where we had the opportunity to make much more money than in our current city. On March 1 I was offered a fantastic job opportunity. I spent the next two days making the most difficult and excruciating decision of my adult life – to leave a job I loved, a city I loved, friends I loved like family, and my mom – to move back to our hometown (where granted we still had lots of family and friends at least) and pursue a new career opportunity that would allow me to make more money and have better extended health benefits. The number one deciding factor? Infertility and the fact that we won’t get to just ‘make a baby’ we will have to shell out thousands upon thousands of dollars to have a baby one day. That made saying no to a huge pay increase (about 40%) impossible.

Three weeks later I started my new job and spent the entire month of April traveling back and forth. At the end of April we emptied out our townhouse we’d lived in for 5 years – selling and giving away most of our things – into a 15-foot u haul and drove 1,000 km across the province to start a new life. We arrived in our new city on a Friday and I went to work full-time in the office on Monday and my husband started a new temporary contract job on the Monday as well.

We lived with my grandmother for all of May and June 2016.

At the end of June my husband started a new job at the same company I was working for and worked 12+ hour days. Many days he was gone for 13 – 14 hours. We also moved into our own place at the end of June.

In July I flew down for an appointment at my fertility clinic and started my first set of fertility treatments hoping to do an IUI. In August I did another cycle. Both cycles of treatment were canceled due to low estrogen levels. AKA: my body was not reacting to the stims.

In October I had a devastating phone call with what I hoped would be my new fertility clinic in Vancouver. That one knocked me on my ass. I felt depressed and down for days.

Towards the end of October my husband started yet another new job, still with the same company but one that would require him to work long shifts. He worked 21 days straight of 12 hour days and then would have 7 days off. In the New Year it’s changing to 14 days on and 7 days off, alternating day shift and night shift. It’s been tough to adjust to.

And that pretty much brings us up to now – December 2016. I’ve also gained 18 pounds in the last two years through all of this shit.

Some great things happened as well of course. We did some traveling within the country and province that was really great. We had lots of great times with family and friends. Many things happened in our lives to be grateful for.

But overall, the last two years have been so hard, so tiring and, frankly, so devastating.

So, in two days we are off to Kauai, Hawaii for one week. Where I hope to just relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with my husband. I will also be entering 2017 with a very different outlook. I refuse to allow my life to revolve around trying to get pregnant and I’m determined to keep living my life despite this diagnosis. We have some exciting travel coming up in 2017, we are hoping to buy another house (we still own the one we have in our old city) and even though my outlook is a little harder and more rough-around-the-edges after the last two years of heartache, I am hoping to get back to living one day at a time and fostering a feeling of gratefulness and hope about my life. Something that I used to do very well, and something that I’ve lost.

Also, if you want more regular updates from me you can follow my infertility instagram account: @itonlytakes1egg

Happy Holidays to you and yours. See you in 2017.

Checking in

Hi everyone,

It’s been over a month since my last post so I wanted to do an update and tell you where I’m at. I have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday with my old doctor. After the terrible experience with the clinic in Vancouver I decided to go back to my old clinic in Kelowna. They know me really well there now and they are willing to work with me to try IVF with my own eggs. I’m not planning on starting the cycle until January or February though as I want to spend a couple months getting my body in tip top condition with supplements, acupuncture, healthy eating etc.

I also just realized my appointment is November 15, which is the one year anniversary of my appointment with an OB/Gyn last year and when I was first given the diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure.

And then I’m going to try it once. And if it doesn’t work, I truly am going to walk away from it and start saving and planning for donor egg IVF. I’ve already started doing a ton of reading / research on donor egg IVF and starting to wrap my head around it more and more, and I’m actually feeling really good about it and OK with moving onto that step if my body still won’t respond to meds in the new year.

I know it’s cliche, but it really just does take time to become more accepting of something. When I first heard of donor eggs about a year ago now my first reaction was hell no. No, no, no. Since then as I’ve shared my journey with some family and friends the vast majority have been *so* incredibly supportive but some have been very insensitive. One said to me “but don’t you want to have your own baby” when I said donor eggs might be a path for us to take. Well, obviously! And I’d also rather not spend $15,000+ to have a baby, but we don’t all get what we want, do we?

I digress.

The other thing we did that I’m feeling really good about is booked a trip to Kauai, Hawaii for Christmas this year. We leave December 22 and come back on December 30 so we are there for 7 full days. We were originally going to go on a family vacation to Hawaii this year but some of our other family members bailed. Then we weren’t sure what we were going to do. In the end we decided we had the time booked off work and the money saved, we were going to go.

Also, Halloween was very difficult for me this year. I basically spent the evening curled up in bed with all the lights off ignoring the door bell feeling sad. I only went down to see my adorable nieces and nephew and little cousin when they came by. And I had such conflicted emotions with social media because I love my friends kids so much, and I loved seeing them all dressed up, but I also felt so so sad. I want that. I thought I’d have that by now. I won’t have it for awhile and it won’t be an easy road to get there.

Anyways, with that in mind and realizing the holidays are hard for me we decided to go away. Last Christmas the diagnosis was so fresh I didn’t totally realize how serious it was and I still believed I might be pregnant or have a baby by this Christmas. That is obviously not the case, and likely won’t be the case by Christmas 2017 as if we do donor eggs it won’t be until 2018 or 2019. So anyways, I just really do not want to be around for Christmas. If I have to deal with the sadness of not having my own family yet at least I can do it on the beach.

On top of that my husband and I have had A YEAR. We have dealt with the following over the last 12 months: job loss, both of us starting new jobs (he is on his third new job this year as he had a temporary contract, then a permanent job but then he switched to a different permanent job within the same company) and I started my first new job in 4 years, we also moved out of our townhouse we’d lived in for 5 years, sold half our stuff and then packed our life into a U-Haul and drove 600 miles / 1,000 km north to relocate back to our hometown, we lived with family for 2 months and then moved into our own place, in the summer a family member on my husband’s side passed away tragically as well.

On top of all that we dealt with infertility – our first actual appointment at the infertility clinic, attempting two cycles of IUI that ultimately failed and wrapping our heads more and more around the fact that we will not have anything even remotely close to the ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ way of conceiving. It’s been a huge grieving process.

I have probably shed more tears and felt more beaten down in 2016 than any other year in my life. Certainly in my adult life. I am actually getting emotional just writing this all out.

So, at the very least, I want to end the year on a good note and what better way to do that then going to Hawaii. The prospect of that trip is what keeps me going some days.

There is my long, and much overdue, update on what has been going on. I will likely check back in next week following my doctor’s appointment!

Thanks as always for reading and letting me be so open, raw and vulnerable about these crazy emotions and things we are going through. Writing is so therapeutic for me and I’m grateful for this space.

 

High FSH

So ever since I was diagnosed back in November 2015, I have known that I have a high FSH level. FSH stands for Follicle Stimulating Hormone and is a very, very important hormone level when it comes to fertility.

If the egg number is low, the body needs to work harder to get ovulation, so it increases the amount of FSH in an effort to push the ovaries. A high FSH means the egg number is reduced, sometimes to levels so low that pregnancy is not possible.

They say that you are supposed to test FSH levels on Cycle Day 3 (aka, the third day after you start having a menstrual cycle) for the most accurate results. I have only had the chance to do two Cycle Day 3 FSH tests in the last year during natural cycles – one in November 2015 and one in August 2016.

Both times my FSH was 34.

Anything over 10 is considered high.

What I’m now learning, is that it is very hard to find a fertility clinic who will proceed with IVF if your FSH is over 20! I did not realize this until I had that devastating doctors appointment last week.

What now?

I am simultaneously researching ways to bring my FSH level down – as some people have done it before with supplements, acupuncture, dietary changes and Chinese herbs – while also trying to find a clinic in Canada that will treat patients with high FSH levels. The one thing I have going for me despite my incredibly bad AMH and FSH numbers is my age. I am only 28. Very, very young to have these types of numbers. That’s why time is of the essence right now.

I did the whole acupuncture / Chinese herbs / supplements thing before and it did not bring my levels down. That said, in the last 6ish months I haven’t had some of the bad symptoms I had my first year with POF like hot flashes and night sweats. I also just had two natural cycles very close together. One in August and one in October. So I am hoping that’s a good sign and means something.

I am still feeling very down and upset. It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and while I had a wonderful weekend with family I also struggled to think about what I am thankful for. Last Thanksgiving I was sure I’d have a baby or be pregnant by now. I no longer feel the same way about next Thanksgiving.

I just started listening to The Art of Waiting on Audible. I have been meditating every morning and I am trying to focus on other things besides infertility. It’s tough though. It’s like this big black shadow or pit in your stomach that is always, always there.

Devastated

After waiting for over a month for my appointment with a new doctor – a doctor who is one of the best in the country when it came to IVF; a doctor who I knew helped my friend get pregnant even though she had low ovarian reserve – I ended the call feeling completely devastated because as soon as she heard how high my FSH is she wrote me off. She said no amount of drugs can make my body make an egg and when I told her about success stories I’d read about / heard about online she basically said they were hard to believe. She said if I get a cycle next month I could fly down to Vancouver and they would do an ultrasound and see if I have any follicles and then could go from there but that was basically the only next steps I was given from her perspective. She did say she’s going to a big conference soon and is going to talk to some other doctors in her field and see what they say, but ya, I was really hoping for some encouragement, ideas, plans for going forward and I got none of that from her at all.

I ended the call feeling so so devastated and upset. I just feel like giving up on this whole fertility thing. I spent all of September not thinking about it and focusing on living my life and it was so wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, every pregnancy announcement on Facebook – and I think there were 2 or 3 of them – felt like a knife stab to the gut, but with the exception of that it was a really great month not stressing about my stupid bodies inability to have a baby. This call today has kind of pushed me to the edge and I just really feel like giving up on all of this and focusing on other parts of my life that bring me joy for right now. This whole thing feels way too upsetting and frustrating and painful to continue dealing with.

An Update

Last week was my 28th birthday. On my 27th birthday, in September 2015, we had been trying to get pregnant since April – so 5 months. I didn’t have a POF diagnosis yet and I was just in the early stages of finding out what was going on with my body. I thought for sure it was just taking a bit longer than most people and I was certain I would at least be pregnant, if not have a baby, by my 28th birthday.

I’m no longer so certain about that for my 29th birthday, which is 360 days away. I am not even certain we will have a baby by my 30th birthday. I hope we do. But if we aren’t successful using my eggs I know it will take some time to come to terms with – and save money for – either donor eggs or adoption. Not to mention the onerous process / paperwork that is involved in those two options.

Anyways, I was a little blue on my 28th birthday last week but we went away camping and hiking for the weekend and ended up having a great weekend together.

This morning I chatted with the office manager at Genesis Fertility Clinic in Vancouver, BC and I have a phone appointment set up for the afternoon of Monday, September 26. We have to go through all of the annoying things that come with a new doctors office like getting more blood tests done. For example, they are going to retest my AMH. Anyways, once all that testing is done and I have the appointment on September 26 I will have more of an update on next steps moving forward. I plan to tell the doctor I want to do multiple egg retrievals back-to-back to try and get some high quality embryos frozen. I’ve been told if you do it this way they will push your body harder with the drugs to try and get more eggs. Then I can spend some time resting and recuperating and getting ready for the frozen egg transfer. If we are even successful in retrieving some eggs and then those eggs successfully become embryos that is. One step at a time.

It’s going to be expensive, and include multiple trips to Vancouver this fall. I’m a little apprehensive about the whole thing, but I know we have to try for me to truly come to terms and be at peace with the alternative options. So here we go! I will be back with an update after September 26.