Inducing Labor

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I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about how people (me) and things change over time, whether good or bad.  Around this time last year, I was angry and bitter after a failed IVF cycle.  I had SO many feelings.  I cried, I was frustrated, I wanted to be alone, and I distanced myself from the Lord.  The feelings of my heart floated around like endless ripples in the water.  The thoughts in my mind crashed like waves on the shore.  I was in no position to help anyone because I was the one that needed help.  I needed to change my attitude then in order to accept the change I embrace now.  Now, a year later, my life has undergone an irreversible change…being a parent.

Inducing Labor

As the days drew near to our babies’ delivery, I knew the plan was to induce labor.  The doctor wanted me to make it to 39 weeks, if baby didn’t come before then.  With twice/week appointments and NSTs plans seemed to change frequently.  Everything depended on my doctor appointments and exams.  In the meantime, I decided to read up about inducing labor to prepare me for that process.  At 38 weeks, I was dilated to 3 cm and my doctor was hopeful for my scheduled induction.  My uterus was “ripening” well so my doctor recommended pitocin to induce labor.  A week earlier he recommended pitocin and a vaginal tablet.  Sorry, can’t recall the name of that medication right now.  The tablet is inserted vaginally and used to help the uterus soften to prepare for delivery.  But, since my uterus was “ripening” I didn’t need the tablet.  Lucky me.

Week 39 arrived – my scheduled induction.  My husband and I had a leisure morning, ate lunch at Zippy’s, and then headed to Queens with all our stuff.  When I say stuff, I mean baby’s car seat & 1 bag – full of clothes for both of us, clothes to dress the baby upon discharge, snacks, toothbrushes/paste, and whatever else we felt was necessary.  I had been warned to eat a good lunch because I wouldn’t be eating anything until after the baby came out.  (I would’ve been fine except being induced took WAY more time and energy than I ever expected.)

Anyways, so once we got there, we got our room, got hooked up to baby monitors, IV, and pitocin…the inducing started.  My husband and I pretty much just cruised in the delivery room until it was time to sleep.  We watched TV, looked at our phones, texted family members with updates, and stared at each other.  Lol.  Actually, it’s REALLY hard to do anything in the hospital.  A nurse or 2 would come in every hour to check the monitors, medications, ask questions, do a vaginal exam, etc.  My doctor came in the evening (and was in consultation with the nurses and doctor on shift) to check on me.  He reminded me that inducing labor is a really slow process.

About 14 hours into the process (3am) I decided to have an epidural.  I was really hesitant about having an epidural because then I would be bed bound and reliant on a catheter to use the bathroom.  I asked the nurses and residents about the specific process.  I was SO tired but I couldn’t sleep because I was uncomfortable.  It’s funny because every time there’s a new shift a new nurse would come in and ask me what my level of pain was.  For me it was low (2-3) because of the excess fluid made it almost impossible to feel any contractions.  You’d think that since I didn’t feel any contractions, I didn’t need an epidural.  But, I agreed to have an epidural.  Apparently Queen’s was really busy that night and I had to wait about 15 minutes.  It wasn’t long to wait.  I suppose if I was farther along in the process, 15 minutes would feel much longer.  Lol.

The anesthesiologist came in and explained the process of an epidural and what to expect afterwards – possible side effects.  At 3am my husband was already sleeping but was awoken by the bright lights that needed to be on.  The anesthesiologist talked me through every thing, step by step.  She was really good, I hardly felt anything.  To me, if I can barely feel the needle – you’re good.  I’ve had blood drawn that’s hurt more than getting an epidural, honestly.  The anesthesiologist also explained the button…an additional boost of medication that should only be pushed as needed.  Once you push the button, you’d have to wait at least 10 minutes before pushing it again, if you needed to.  Well, you could keep pressing the button but it wouldn’t release any medicine.

The epidural was nice!  I was definitely able to feel comfortable and get minimal rest.  I didn’t feel the contractions before I got it and sure didn’t feel them after either.  Lol.  After that things were pretty mellow until the morning.  Mellow as far as progress for the baby.  The nurses and residents continuously come in and check on you…but at least at night they use the low light so you can a little rest, or none if it bothers you.  Lol.

In the morning, around 7am, now 18 hours into my scheduled inducing, my doctor came to check on me.  He, along with a couple of nurses, pricked my water bag so it would slowly drip out.  He made a few holes using a very thin needle.  I happily didn’t feel anything because of the epidural.  My doctor noted progress – I was dilated to 6 cm.  This was great news to me because I thought we were nearing the birth of our baby.  Technically I was in active labor but couldn’t feel it.

In the early evening my doctor came to see me again and I was still dilated to 6 cm.  I had so much fluid and the baby was still now dropping so the doctor decided to let out a little flow of fluid to help guide the baby down and help me dilate more.  He made a few more pokes to let more fluid drain out.  The nurses changed the padding under me as needed.

Evening went fine, well maybe fine isn’t the right word for it.  I was hungry, tired, and confined to the bed.  We watched TV, talked and cruised in the room.  We got a visit from my sister-in-law and 2 nieces, who brought dinner (for my husband of course).  My sweet husband ate outside the room so I wouldn’t have to smell any of it.  We chatted and then they went to visit someone on another floor.

Everything was pretty calm…until about 1 in the morning.  (I had been at the hospital for 36 hours now.)  My husband was sleeping on a fold up bed near me.  I started to shake and shiver as if I was cold.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t.  After 10-15 minutes, I decided to call the nurse.  Unfortunately, the remote had fallen to the left of the bed and it was hanging down that side.  I tried to reach for it a couple times and almost got it.  I felt the shaking getting stronger and out of control.  I called my husband a few times but he didn’t hear me.  I reached one more time for the remote and got it.  Oh, I forgot to mention that besides having the IV on my right hand, the epidural tube came up my right shoulder, I had an oxygen mask on, a blood pressure cuff on my left arm, AND I couldn’t feel from the waist down.  The blood pressure cuff went off every 20-30 minutes.  SO, reaching for the remote to call the nurse was much more difficult than it sounds.  Lol.

I finally called for the nurse.  When she came in, I told her how I felt and she told me to try and relax.  She asked if I wanted some medicine for nausea.  I agreed to take it – via IV.  But before she could give it to me, I threw up on myself and the gown I had on.  My husband awoke to me throwing up and helped the nurse clean me up.  I got a new gown and a warm blanket, literally.  When the nurse left to get the nausea medication, I asked my husband to give me a blessing.  I didn’t know what was going on with me.  I was shaking and shaking.  I couldn’t stop myself.  My husband gave me a blessing before the nurse came in with my nausea medicine.  My regular nurse for the evening came in and checked my temperature.  The thermometer read that I was fine but the nurse didn’t believe it and quickly obtained another thermometer, which showed I had a fever.  I took deep breaths to help calm me but that didn’t always help.  I got the nausea medicine and my shivering slowed down.

It was 2:15am…My contractions plateaued and I was over it.  I wanted the baby out.  I still had a fever and shakes (intermittently).  The nurse called my doctor and a c-section was in the works.

Next post: Cesarean Delivery


More to Come

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Hi everyone!  I know it’s been a while since I posted anything.  I’ve been busy, just like the rest of you.  I can’t believe that by the end of the week, it’ll be February!

In November when we received the news of our pregnancy, we were ecstatic and overwhelmed.  We decided to keep quiet until we designated an appropriate time.  Well, the following day, I told my mom.  She was the only person, other than my husband & I, that knew.  I asked her not to say anything…and she didn’t.  I know my mom, she’s a trustworthy person.  She’s always been like that.  I wasn’t at all worried that she would tell anyone.  I LOVE my mom, she’s the best! 🙂

When I told my husband, he teased me for at least a few days.  It didn’t bother me, we just laughed about it.  Thinking back, that was one of the best decisions I made in this pregnancy process.  My mom would check on me and I would ask her different things.  It was great.

Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t have her tell my dad or why we didn’t share the news sooner.  When you wait for something for what feels like forever, wouldn’t you want to tell everyone??  For us, no.  We were more concerned about the chances of miscarriage than who to tell.  So, we kept quiet.

Keeping quite was very easy.  Since I posted about doing IVF in January or February, I knew people wouldn’t be asking questions because they knew we were taking a break.  Plus, the holidays were upon us, being with family was the priority.  My husband & I don’t prefer being the life of a party, we’re not gonna get up on stage and make an announcement.  That’s just not us.  Lol.

Well, as if finding out we were pregnant wasn’t surprising enough, about a week later, I was offered a job.  I was just leaving the Public Library with a couple of pregnancy books when my phone rang.  I was very surprised, not that I would be offered a position, but that it had only been a couple weeks since my interview.  I thought it would take longer.  After accepting the position, I immediately called my husband.  I remember telling him, “More blessings for us.”  He agreed.  I was still in the library parking lot.  My mind and heart were racing.  I felt extremely grateful and very blessed.  When I got home, I cried because I felt so blessed.  I prayed and thanked the Lord.  I wrote in my journal and called my mom to let her know.

It didn’t take long before things started to settle in.

Next post: Yikes!


Thanksgiving

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A few days after our fast, I received a call for an interview.  I agreed to an interview and accepted the date and time available.  As the day drew near, I was definitely more nervous.  I had at least 2 weeks to prepare for this interview and hoped everything would go well.  I soon realized that the day of my interview was the day I could be expecting my menses.  Oh dear!  I hoped that if I did get my period, it would come after my interview and I would be home, ready for it.  I also hoped that it wouldn’t come and that we would be pregnant.  Either way, I’d be ok and prepared for whatever we would face.

Upon returning home from my interview, I soon forgot about my period and decided to put up the Christmas tree.  I know, it was the week of Thanksgiving, probably the earliest I ever put a tree up!  I’m sure it was just a distraction.  Lol.  As I put up the tree, I was particular about the ornaments I chose.  I didn’t go with the usual ones.  I felt that this Christmas we would focus on hope and faith.  I did my best to express these thoughts in the ornaments I put on the tree.  Here are a few of the ornaments.

hope


hope shines bright

 

heaven and nature

 

bird

I thought these ornaments were perfect!  Looking at each of them reminded me to keep focused on the miracle we prayed for.  They helped me keep calm and do my best not to worry about the “what ifs.”  I knew that whether or not my menses arrived, was out of my control.  But it didn’t mean I should lose hope either.

A few days went by and still no period.  I tried not to fret over it because I knew it was very possible that I could get my period late.  Thanksgiving came, we made it through Black Friday, and I began to wonder.  It was a great weekend by the way.  I asked my husband if he thought I should take a pregnancy test.  He said I should wait 2 weeks after I expected my period.  I thought that was ridiculous.  I explained that with IVF we knew 10 days after the transfer, which was only a couple days after a missed period.  I didn’t think we needed to wait 2 weeks.  We talked about it and then decided I would take a pregnancy test.

Having gone through IUIs and IVF, I never needed a home pregnancy test.  Not to mention, they’re quite expensive at the store for a 2-3 pack.  Hence, I didn’t have a pregnancy test to use and I didn’t want to purchase any either.  Hmm…that presented a little dilemma.  Well, not really.  We decided that I would just call the doctor and request it.  In fact, I would have my thyroid checked at the same time.  I called my doctor and he agreed to both tests.  Yeah!  Plus, I knew that paying for a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office would be cheaper than buying one at the store.  So clever!  Lol.

The next day I went in for my 2 tests.  A few hours later, I had results.  Here is a journal entry from that day…

“I don’t know where to start but today I went in for blood work and a urine test – for my thyroid and HCG test.  When I came home from errands I got an email with my results.  The results showed that I’m pregnant(emphasis added).  I don’t know what to think!  I’m excited & scared.  But mostly grateful.  With all that Samuel & I have been through the past 6½ years trying to have a baby, this is truly a miracle.  I know there is no medical explanation for why I’m pregnant.  It’s unbelievable.  I just gave a prayer of thanksgiving & gratitude to the Lord.”

This was close to 10 ‘o clock in the morning.  I called my husband and let him know the results.  He was just as surprised and grateful as me.

I shed tears of joy that day, so grateful the Lord answered our prayers, blessing us with this miracle.

Little did I know there would be more to come.

Next post: More to Come


Something Different

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I hope you’ve enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a great New Year! 🙂

It’s nearing the start of a New Year, a time I’ve had to wait for in order to move forward with another IVF cycle.  What will the New Year bring?  I don’t know, is it important for me to know?  No, it’s important for me to have faith in Jesus Christ.

In November, after seeing Dr. Frattarelli – the OB/GYN, I knew something had to change.  Despite having to anticipate my January menses and experience IVF again, I honestly didn’t want to do IVF again.  Of course, with the 5 embryos that we have, I figured that was our only option.  However, I didn’t want that option.  I wanted us to become pregnant without assistance from technology.

I came up with an idea and proposed it to my husband.  He agreed so we went forward with our plan.  The plan was fairly simple…we would fast and pray for a baby, a miracle.  Realistically, the plan was not that easy to execute.  Just as a reminder, I saw Dr. F (ob/gyn) on Nov. 1, which was a Thursday.  Fast Sunday at church is the first Sunday of the month, which means that our plan was formed and solidified in 3 days.  On November 4th, Fast Sunday, we needed to move forward with our plan.  We fasted and prayed for a miracle.

A miracle wasn’t the only thing we fasted about.  We also fasted about a job – for me.  I hadn’t heard back from a place I applied.  I was hoping that during the month, sometime, I would be called for an interview.  We would see.

Interestingly enough, that Sunday in church many people bore testimony of miracles and faith through personal experiences.  This continued through the rest of church and for a few Sundays afterwards.  It made me wonder if miracles still happen.  I knew the answer to my wondering, yes, miracles still happen.  I didn’t know if my faith was strong enough to believe the Lord would grant unto us, a miracle.  Around this same time, my husband and I were concluding our reading of the Book of Mormon.  It was very intriguing to me that in Ether and Moroni (the last 2 books in the Book of Mormon) there are a lot of references to miracles.  Here are some of the scriptures:

Ether 12:12 states: “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.”

Moroni 7: 29, 33, 37 explains, “And because he hath done this, my brethren, have miracles ceased?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.”

These are not the only references to miracles in the Book of Mormon, just the ones that stood out to me at the time.  I did read more to ponder about and listened to friends share experiences.

I knew that although our plan was fairly simple, it would require a lot from us.  For me, I think faith was a critical element to our fasting and praying.  Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ requires work.  I can’t just sit around and say I have faith.  Faith expresses trust and love, it requires humility and expands our understanding.

I knew the Lord would hear our prayers.  I didn’t know whether He would bless us with a miracle.  I trusted Him and knew that whatever was right, would happen.  I have learned that I don’t just tell the Lord what I want, I share my desires and wait upon the Lord.  I know the Lord knows what is best for me.

Next post:  Thanksgiving


Our Results

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It’s been 3 weeks now, since I got the results of our FET.  I guess it’s about time to share it.

I drove in to town for blood work on the morning of Sept. 20.  I was already home when my IVF coordinator called  me.  It was less than 2 hours after my blood work.  When my phone rang, I took a deep breath and answered it.  Once I heard my IVF coordinator’s voice asking me how I was doing, I knew what the results were…negative.  She confirmed that as we talked a little longer.  She explained that the results were not what they wanted and I asked her what that meant.  I felt the answer was pretty vague.  I wanted a straight forward answer – positive or negative.  She then explained that the test came back negative.  I went silent.  We scheduled a follow up meeting with Dr. F and then she offered support.  I assured her that I would be ok.  Immediately after our conversation ended, I took a deep breath and called my husband.

When I gave him the news, I knew from his response, that he was just as frustrated and hurt as I was.  I felt bad giving him such junk news while he was at work…and it was only a little after 10 in the morning.  We hung up and then I tried really hard to think about what just happened, without tearing up.  Ya, that didn’t happen.

It only took a few seconds before tears began to stream down my face.  I didn’t know what to think.  I thought about the risk and wondered if we had made the wrong decision.  Nope, we didn’t.  Just because taking that risk didn’t result in pregnancy didn’t make it a wrong choice.  Well, that’s what I think.

I thought, what now?  I was so hopeful that the FET would be successful.  I knew what other options we had, I just didn’t want to do them.  Then I wondered whether I should continue to try to become pregnant.  I truly felt like giving up that desire simply because the process is draining – financially, physically, and emotionally.  I say “I” because my husband didn’t share those same feelings.  To tell you the truth, I was done.  I didn’t want to do this anymore.  It hurt.  My heart ached for relief and tears continued to flow down my cheeks.  I kept telling myself I would be ok but I didn’t feel ok.  I wasn’t ok and I didn’t know what it would take for me to be ok.  My tears subsided and tried to do things around the house, aka cleaning.  Just FYI, dishes is not a good one to do.  But I did them and found it difficult to wipe my eyes because obviously my hands were busy.  While I was doing that my sister-in-law called.  I programmed my ringtones so I knew she was calling, in fact hearing her ringtone caused me to start crying again.  I couldn’t answer the phone, I just couldn’t.  Not only were my hands soaked in dishes, my mind, heart, and mouth were not working collaboratively.  I wasn’t trying to avoid my sister-in-law, I just knew I was in no position to talk.  I again felt bad, for the second time that day, and decided I needed to leave the house.  I left a little while later to take a drive and to get some shopkicks.  (Shopkicks is an app that gives you points for walking into stores as well as scanning items.  You can redeem your kicks for gift cards.)

I went to Pearl Ridge – Macy’s, American Eagle, Best Buy, Waikele – Old Navy, and Fabric Mart.  Needless to say, I got a lot of kicks!  Lol.  I spent a lot of time at Fabric Mart looking for material for a couple of projects.  A friend of mine, after seeing my reupholstered chairs, gave me her outdoor patio set.  I searched for material for that but didn’t find what I was looking for.  I did, however, find material for a skirt I’d been wanting to make.  While I was at Fabric Mart, my sister-in-law called again and my mom.  I talked with both of them.  By then I still felt hurt and sorrow, but I was ok to talk.  My mom & I talked for over an hour.  I walked around the fabric store with headphones in one ear.  At times I held back tears so other customers wouldn’t see.  My mom was trying to encourage me and help me.  I know it was hard – for her and me.  The pain and grief I felt was stronger than any words of encouragement, understanding, and love.  My mom tried really hard to help me.  After we talked I felt a little better.  I ate a little something at Waikele Jamba Juice and then sat outside on the bench, thinking…what now?  I stayed out for at least 4 hours before returning home.  I quickly realized that this was not like a pill I could swallow to remove the anguish I felt.  It would take much more than I was willing to give.  I canceled dinner plans for that evening and decided to stay home.

The pain I felt ran deep.  I felt so alone and knew there weren’t a lot of people that could relate to what I was going through.  Not that there aren’t people that understand, I just don’t know a lot of them.  I wasn’t looking for sympathy, I was seeking relief.  By the end of the day, my tears dried up and anger penetrated through everything.  This wasn’t going to be good.

I was SO angry, I went into an extreme mode.  I’m not sure how else to describe it.  Maybe more like defiant.  I had reached my breaking point through this entire process and I wasn’t having it anymore.  Most of my frustration was centered around the fact that I wasn’t pregnant.  It was unbelievable to me.  I just shook my head in disgust.  I remember telling my husband, “I’m done.”  I felt like we never get a break and decided to take my own break.  I was so hurt and angry I didn’t want to pray or read my scriptures.  So I didn’t.  I wanted to take a break from being faithful every time.  I didn’t even want to go to church.  I didn’t want to be around people.  I felt as though the Lord had forsaken me.  I know, that sounds bad but it’s the truth.  This was a huge thing for me, especially because I’m not like that at all.  That’s how appalled and mad I was.  I just didn’t care.  This attitude of mine lasted about 4-5 days.

As much as I didn’t want to do things, I still did.  I still went to church and spent time with friends even though I didn’t feel like it.  But I knew I wasn’t over it yet.  One night I went to a surprise birthday party for a friend.  I was asked about how the FET went and results.  I told my friend it didn’t work and she apologized.  I told her she didn’t have to be sorry.  When I got home that night I mentioned it to my husband.  I told him, “It’s like I’m numb.  I’m so mad I don’t have any feelings.”  Which was true.  I knew exactly what I was doing.  I acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but it was.  Apparently I had a good facade.  Lol.

A little over a week after we got the results, I was praying and reading my scriptures again but sporadically, whenever I wanted to.  There was also the General Relief Society Broadcast, which is an annual church broadcast for women 18 and older.  In its entirety, it’s about 1.5 – 2 hours long.  There’s usually a lunchoen and activity connected with the broadcast.  I didn’t want to go but I did want to watch the broadcast.  Instead, I went to watch 2 of nephews soccer games and my oldest nephew’s baseball game.  I sat down to watch it a couple days later.

I remember, it was a Monday morning and my husband had already left for work – it was his birthday!  I put the broadcast on.  There were 4 speakers.  They were ALL great!  The 3rd speaker was Sister Linda S. Reeves.  As she spoke and shared experiences, I just cried.  She explained some of the feelings she had as she endured a couple of trials.  I knew exactly what she was talking about and felt the need to cease my anger.  I needed to stop this “adult tantrum” I was having.  Following the broadcast, I went into the bedroom and prayed earnestly to the Lord to calm my trouble heart.  I didn’t like being angry but I felt I was justified in my frustrations at the time.  It was hindering my growth.  I included my husband in my prayer too.  I knew that this took a toll on him as well.  This is a “we” thing, not a “me” thing.  Our pain was the same but our methods for dealing with it were different.  I knew my husband needed comfort too.  I received the peace I desired, which allowed me to start to move forward – little steps at at time.

As the weeks have gone by, I’ve noticed a change.  When I first got the news that I wasn’t pregnant, I wondered how I would get over it.  Now, 3 weeks later, I know I don’t need to get over it.  I just need to move forward.  To me, when I hear about “getting over” stuff, it represents the need to forget about it and never look back.  Maybe in certain situations, that’s true, but for in this circumstance, no.  I don’t need to get over it.  It’s a part of who I am, an experience I will never forget.  Something I know, will strengthen me.

You’re welcome to watch or read the talk by Linda S. Reeves here! (It’s good!) 🙂

Next post:  Now What?


Our FET

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After 5 days of taking all those medications, the day of the transfer arrived…September 10th.

My FET was scheduled for 10:30am.  I had to be there a 1/2 hour before, so we weren’t in a rush.  My husband & I leisurely woke up and got ready.  I had been instructed to do take the Crinone gel in the morning and to have a full bladder.  When we were ready, my husband gave me a blessing, and then we left.

Unfortunately, we locked ourselves out of the house.  My husband didn’t take his keys.  I left my keys in my church bag the day before and forgot to take it out.  He closed the door before I could reach for my keys.  Oops!  Lol.  I couldn’t believe it but it happened.  There wasn’t much we could do, except worry about it later.  I wasn’t going to be worried about that, we had an appointment.  While my husband drove, I called my mom.  She had keys to our place.  So we arranged a time to meet afterwards.  I estimated that we would be done around 11:30 – 12pm.  The plan was for me to call my mom when we left, that way, we would get there around the same time.

We arrived 1/2 hr before and sat in the waiting area.  A few minutes later we were called by my IVF coordinator.  We followed her to her office where she reviewed instructions for the ET.  I disregarded some of the instructions because they were related to pregnancy and would worry about that later.  I didn’t want to assume, neither did I want to feel overwhelmed by possibility.  The instructions were pretty straight forward and to me, quite obvious:

No swimming – for 1 week
Drink lots of fluids – In addition to water, juice and sports drinks
Use stool softener – as needed for constipation
Eat balanced meals
No strenuous activities

You got it, right?  In addition to all the instructions, I still had to take medications…until my IVF coordinator instructed me to stop.  I was taking the Crinone gel, Estrace, aspirin, & PNV.

The instructions also included 2 dates – Sept. 20th & 22nd.  On these dates I was scheduled for blood work only – to see if I was pregnant or not.

After meeting with my IVF coordinator we again sat in the waiting area.  I was called for my blood work and then we went to meet with Dr. F.  He explained the risk for multiple births and we asked questions.  We signed a couple of documents verifying our embryos.  I wanted to cry.  I had been so worried about the embryos.  When as I signed the documents I realized that my prayers had been answered and I felt relieved.  In a previous appointment, I asked Dr. F what the procedure is for thawing the embryos.  He explained that they are taken out one at a time.  If they are not growing, they are discarded and another embryo is taken out.  Knowing that we have 7, I didn’t know how many would be used to get 2 strong embryos.  I hope that makes sense.  As I signed the document, I understood that only 2 of our 7 embryos were thawed for this procedure.  I felt comforted and grateful.

Dr. F showed us 2 pictures of our 2 embryos.  It was SO cool!  The picture on the left were of the frozen embryos and the picture on the right was of the thawed embryos.  It seemed like they were magnified like a million times larger.  The images were huge, especially when you know they’re the size of an ink dot.  I was so intrigued by the pictures.  I thought it was amazing because it was personal.  They were OUR embryos, not the ones you see in a text book.  As I viewed the side-by-side pictures, they looked only slightly different to me.  Dr. F explained that before transferring them they would look somewhere in between both pictures.

After our meeting was done, we followed my IVF coordinator to the OR area.  It’s the same place I had my egg retrieval.  I was in the exact same room too.  We put our hair caps and booties on.  I removed my clothing from the waist down, wrapped myself with the large sheet that was provided.  I opened the curtain and we followed my IVF coordinator into the OR.  My husband sat on a stool (with wheels) and I laid on the bed.  I lifted my legs up to rest on these pole things and then scooted my bottom all the way to the edge of the table.  The poles are like ob/gyn stirrups for back of the knee.  I verified my name and birthday that were on the screen and then my IVF coordinator informed Dr. F that I was ready.

We waited for a while because there was something that Dr. F. needed to take care of.  I think we waited about 15-20 minutes, that’s my guess.  I wasn’t watching the clock.  When he arrived, he talked us through the procedure while getting started.  He put the speculum in and I think, a catheter.  I’m not exactly sure about the catheter.  He told the lady in the Lab that he was ready.  We looked at the screen and saw the 2 embryos.  Dr. F was right, the embryos looked somewhere in between the 2 pictures we saw, except this was LIVE.  We saw them super close and then the view zoomed back until they were tiny.  The catheter came in and sucked up the embryos.  The lady in the Lab brought the catheter to the adjacent door and gave it to Dr. F.  The door has a a little window that can be opened or closed.  It’s quite convenient actually.  Dr. F. took it and sat back down.  It took him a few minutes to insert the catheter.

Once the catheter was in, Dr. F had us turn our eyes to the ultrasound.  He told us that we would see a white line in the uterus and then the embryos would be released.  The embryos were released deep into the uterus, much like where they would be if it were a natural conception.  We saw the white line and that was it.  The embryos were SO tiny, I knew we wouldn’t see them.  That was it!  The catheter and speculum were removed.  Dr. F shook our hands and told us that there was nothing more we could do – let nature take its course.

I switched beds and got rolled to my room.  I laid there for 30 minutes.  Before we left, I emptied my bladder and put my clothes on.  My mom met us at home and we were able to get in.  Lol.  She made chili for us so we ate and then rested for the rest of the day.  It was so nice.

Now it was time to wait…

Next post:  The Next 10 Days

(Not sure if I’m going to post the picture of the embryos.  I have 1 of the 2 pictures we saw.  Thinking about it.)


Our Decisions…

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Do you ever wonder what will become of the decisions you make?  I do, that’s why I find it necessary to contemplate, pray, and wait for an answer.  And when you get an answer, trust it!

In my last post I went over all the costs and time that would be associated with IVF.  Well, when it came to deciding whether to do ICSI or not, it was a tough one.  I understood the repercussions of choosing ICSI or not.  Of course, I wanted the best possible chances, but we needed to make the best decision for US.

We decided to do the regular IVF cycle, which did NOT include ICSI.  So, we paid the $3,000 and waited a month until our IVF cycle was scheduled to begin.  We felt confident about our decision and were determined to stick to it.  In the meantime I was still taking the birth control pills.

The other decision we needed to make was about freezing our embryos.  Although we were not sure how many eggs would be retrieved or fertilized, we decided that we would freeze whatever we had left.  This would cost $1,500 but not until embryo transfer day…we had a couple of weeks to pay for it.

It seemed like some of the hardest decisions were made and I was looking forward to the next steps.

During the month, I was reminded by my IVF coordinator that the doctor had recommended ICSI.  I was also reminded that my success rate would be low, meaning less eggs would be fertilized, because I chose not to do ICSI.  At first I felt bad, but then I thought, no, we made the right decision.  I wasn’t about to back down or change my decision, especially when I knew in my mind and in my heart we were right.  Plus, we’re the ones paying for it.  It was around that time that I realized, this is a business too.  It made me wonder whether ICSI was recommended to every couple.  I don’t know the answer to that, but I DO know that we were not going to change our decision…no matter the consequences.  We would live with it.

The month seemed to trot along slowly until about 2 weeks before my baseline ultrasound.  My IVF coordinator called and requested that my husband do a semen analysis, which would cost $95.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still an important part in the journey.  I guess the 1 year old semen analysis was not sufficient or current enough.  Well, my husband did the semen analysis and two days later, the embryologist called me.  She reviewed the results of the semen analysis with me over the phone and I recorded as much information as I could.  Everything was good, until she mentioned “morphology,” referring to the shape of the sperm.  She said that for IVF they would like it to be 14%.  My husband’s was at 11%.  She continued to explain that it was normal and that I should not be alarmed or worried.  After our conversation ended, I quickly went into research mode.  I found that the shape of the sperm was unrelated to fertilization or that eggs were still fertilized with less than 11% morphology.  As I read more, I learned that for IVF there is a higher expectation for sperm.  That sounds funny.  Lol.  I also learned that there are a variety of semen analysis tests and different criteria for those tests.  I’m not exactly sure about what test was used for my husband’s semen analysis.  I’ll admit, I was still a little worried that I may get a call and be recommended again, to do ICSI.

Well, my IVF coordinator called giving me instructions to pick up the rest of my medications.  We briefly discussed the semen analysis and she asked if the doctor called me.  I told her he did not, so she informed me that the doctor recommended ICSI.  At this point I was quite annoyed.  I listened to what she said, but our decision was made and like I said, that decision was not going to change.  I was getting tired of hearing the same thing over and over again.  It’s almost like a guilt trip, except it wasn’t working on me…instead, it was annoying me.  The purpose of her call was about the medication, which I picked up the next day.  Here is a picture of the medications I picked up!

I know, it’s crazy!  I wasn’t expecting to take all of that out of the pharmacy…good thing I brought reusable bags!  In my next post I’ll go over all the medications, their purposes, and how much their worth…leading up to my baseline ultrasound!

Ooh, I’ve added a picture….what do you think it is? (Sorry if you think it’s disgusting.)

Next post:  ALL the medications


The Calendar, Timing, and Costs of IVF

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One of these posts, I’m going to catch up…it’s just not going to be this one!  I have SO many thoughts right now, I’m not quite sure where to begin.  I think I’ll start off with this…

I’m going to apologize beforehand, if anyone is offended by what I’m about to say.  I don’t intent to offend anyone.

One of the original purposes for starting this blog was to inform and help others.  I’m not trying, at all, to sugar coat the IVF process.  This is not something I’ve dreamed of doing, nor is it a result of something I’ve done wrong.  I get asked a lot of questions pertaining to the “hows and whys” I’m not pregnant.  People assume many things.  I’ve had some say that I’ve put my career ahead of my decision to have a baby/child/family.  I’ve had others wonder why I haven’t had a baby after being married for more than 7 years.  Yet others assume that it’s easy for everyone to conceive just by having intercourse.  If it were that simple, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Everyone’s experiences are very personal and individual.  I recognize that to some degree, if you haven’t experienced IVF, you will probably never fully understand what some women have to go through to become pregnant.  It’s difficult to explain how personal this is.  Even though IVF is a process, there is a tremendous amount of emotion, physical pain, and unexpected events that accompany it.  I hope that as I describe the steps and experiences I’ve had, that you will gain an understanding.  I don’t think I can really explain everything.  I’ll do my best.

The Calendar

Like I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of dates to remember.  Since I already wrote about the birth control, I think I’ll bypass that this time.  My calendar contains at least 2 weeks of intense activity, meaning appointments, ultrasounds, blood work, and injections.  Of course, all of this activity is tentative and subject to change, depending on how the uterus and ovaries look.  So, you have to keep your schedule open during that time.  My calendar included specific dates for my egg retrieval and embryo transfer, which I will discuss in more detail in upcoming posts. Oh ya, I forgot to mention another important date.  The calendar gives an exact date for when I will be starting the shots.  One month prior to starting the shots (while I take the birth control), my IVF copayment is due.

The Timing

IVF requires frequent monitoring, which is why timing is so critical.  Although I followed my calendar, I understood that I could be asked to come in for another appointment, the next day.  I could have an appointment anywhere between 1-3 days or more, in other words, flexibility is a requirement! 🙂

Costs of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Oh my, take a guess!  How much do you think IVF costs with or without insurance?  I’ve mentioned a range in previous posts.  Since this is our first time doing IVF, insurance will cover a majority of the costs.  Phew!  That’s definitely a good thing!

We had over a month to review the costs and make a decision about IVF before paying our portion.  There are a few options available to couples doing IVF.  For me, the copayment would either be $3,000 or $4,500 plus some additional fees that, if we consented, would be paid at a later time.  The options include the following:

1.  With or without ICSI.  ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.  Choosing to do ICSI ultimately means that after the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, each egg will be individually fertilized with a single sperm.  When I first heard of this procedure, I was amazed!  It’s very precise and pretty much guarantees that each egg retrieved will be fertilized, thus slightly increasing your success rate.

Choosing “without ICSI” means that the eggs and sperm are on their own.  They are placed together and then responsible for fertilization.  I’m not sure if you can still consider that “natural” but it kind of is.  It’s just not happening in your body.

The cost: Without ICSI = $3,000     With ICSI = $4,500

Without insurance, IVF would cost around $18,000-20,000.  That’s right!  Thinking things through is a MUST!  You want the best chances you can get with the least amount of variables or factors.

2.  Cryopreservation of the Embryos.  This is one of the additional fees to be paid at a later date.  Agreeing and paying for this means we would be freezing our embryos, which will cost $1,500.  There is also a fee for storing the embryos.  After the first year, keeping the embryos frozen will amount to $600/year, which equals $50 per month.

3.  Frozen Embryo Transfer Cycle.  If per chance we decide to freeze our embryos we have the option of doing a frozen embryo transfer cycle.  Say the IVF cycle did not result in pregnancy and we’d like another chance.  We can use the frozen embryos and have them transfered into the uterus rather than complete the entire IVF cycle again.  Or, say that the IVF cycle was successful and we wanted to increase posterity.  This same option would be available to us.  The cost of this cycle is $4,000.

These are all HARD decisions to make.  I’m grateful we had a sufficient time to review all of these options.  The first difficult decision, for me, in the IVF process, was whether to do ICSI or not.  The $1,500 additional charge was difficult.  Paying for it wasn’t the problem, not that we’re swimming in money!  I thought about this decision for a LONG time!  My husband and I had many discussions about it…still no definite answer.  We weighed the pros and cons, pondered, and prayed.  What was really going through my mind was this…is it necessary?  I didn’t feel comfortable paying for ICSI because I felt that it was for men with low sperm count.  From what I knew, there weren’t any issues with my husband’s sperm through semen analysis.  Then there were the “what ifs” that popped up in my head.  Like, what if only a few eggs are fertilized?  We were encouraged to do ICSI but in the end, it was up to us.  It took weeks for us to solidify our decision.

The second decision we contemplated was whether to freeze the remaining embryos or not.  My husband read a lot of articles that say that many couples become pregnant naturally after IVF.  We have NO idea if that would be the case for us.  How would we know?  We just speculated.  Regardless of that, we had to discuss and decide.  We didn’t need an answer yet but the time would approach quickly.

Decisions, decisions…

Next post: Our decisions


Carrying On…

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I have to apologize for not writing anything for you to read!!  I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and Etsy!! 🙂  I still have lots to catch you up on!

Ok!  In my last post I talked about the hope and possibilities with 4 eggs.  When that was not successful, don’t get me wrong, I was definitely disappointed.  As I think about it now, I am so thankful for that experience AND that the Lord didn’t answer my prayers in the way I desired.  So many times I hear people blame God when things go wrong in their life or when they are not given what they desire.  In my experience, I know the Lord knows and loves me because none of the 4 eggs resulted in pregnancy.  You may think I sound crazy because the goal was and is to become pregnant, but I know that there is NO way I would be able to handle that…physically and mentally.  As earnest and sincere as my prayers were, they did not override the Lord’s knowledge and understanding of what I need.  I’m not going to lie, it took time to come to that understanding.  For me it was an important lesson to learn.  I feel extremely blessed that I didn’t have to choose embryos to abort.

Ooh, I don’t think I explained the HCG injection in the last post.  I told you about it but not the purpose of it!  The HCG injection is given to make you ovulate.  Ok, now back to the journey!

After feeling devastated that none of the eggs were successful, I went in for my day 3 scan.  By this time it was August 2011.  The doctor started me on the injections again…I was happy.  Happy for another opportunity to try to become pregnant, not happy about the actual injections.  Lol.  When I went in for my next scan, after doing the injections for about 5 days, I was puzzled when the doctor told me to stop the injections and wait for the next cycle.  I was like, what?  I believe the lining of my uterus had grown too thick in a short amount of time, which was not good.  So, we stopped the injections for that cycle and waited for the next cycle.  Of course, I was bummed.  I also thought about the timing of my approval and how much time I had remaining on my referral.  We were half way through my 6 month approval.  I wondered if I would get another chance to do the shots before the 6 months was over.

Since we waited out the cycle, I went back to the doctor in September 2011 for my day 3 scan.  I was hopeful about the opportunity but unsure what the doctor would say.  When I heard “provera” again, my heart sank.  I knew why…it was the lining of my uterus and the endometriosis.  In my head I knew that would set us back at least another month.  Ugh.  I wasn’t looking forward to it but what was I gonna do, complain?  Complaining or getting mad wasn’t going to change the facts of the scan.  Who would I complain to, my body?  Would I get angry at my uterus?  That would be just be lame and absurd!  Lol!  So, I took the same amount of provera as the first time, for 10 days and I got my menses in October.

October 2011 was the next time I went in for a day 3 scan.  I periodically got blood work done at the office and this was one of those times.  I soon found out that my thyroid needed attention.  I took a deep breath and sighed.  I really felt like things weren’t going very well.  So, we took a little pause from the shots to address my thyroid.  In the meantime, I was nearing the expiration date of my approval.  My husband and I thought we might be able to have one more chance with the injections before we ran out of time.  Well, that didn’t happen.

I was curious about what would happen when November came.  I made some calls to my OB/GYN’s nurse and talked with the PA and doctor.  They all agreed that it would be ok to continue and an extension would filed.  I would then have to wait for another approval letter which would indicate how much more time we would have.  I don’t think there was ever a doubt or question that I wouldn’t be approved.  I didn’t know for how long.  Also during this time, I felt we didn’t have much success or opportunity with the injections because of the endometriosis, thyroid and other stuff.  We had done 1 cycle of injections in a 5 month period.  That didn’t seem like very good odds to me.  I was ready to move on to IVF.

My husband and I met with the PA and we discussed our options.  We decided to do one more cycle of the injections and if that was not successful, we would pursue IVF.  I received a letter in November 2011 that we were approved for one more cycle and we had until May 2012 to complete this one cycle.  We opted for the next cycle to do the injections, if the uterus and lining looked good.

Next post: Our Last Cycle


Clomid with IUI

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I forgot to mention that prior to starting any clomid cycle, my husband and I attended a workshop offered by the Pacific In Vitro Fertilization Institute.  It was FREE!  Basically one of doctors provided handouts in a lecture type setting using a powerpoint program.  The workshop was held at Kapi’olani Medical Center.  It was an hour presentation and then a brief Q&A.  Parking was also validated but I think we paid $1-2.  I believe it is by reservation only.  We went on our own, meaning we were not referred to the workshop.

Check out the website and click on the seminar tab located on the left column.  You must reserve a seat in the dates available online.  They also have ads in the Midweek.  I remember reserving 2 seats for us and receiving a call to confirm our attendance.  It was very well organized and there were probably about 10 couples there.  I hate to say this but we looked so much younger than the couples that attended.

Anyways!  The workshop was only about In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  It was very specific and informative!  So informative, it freaked me out!  After attending the presentation I knew I was not going to do that (IVF).  In fact, I was relieved that I wasn’t at that point in the process.  For me it seemed very invasive.  I simply just wasn’t ready for that type of treatment.  Hence I was open to doing the clomid cycles.

Alright, getting back to Round 3 of Clomid with IUI.

So, hopefully I gave you a good general idea of what the process entails.  It’s not very different but it is more involved, for both you and your husband.  When my OPK was positive, I called and scheduled an IUI.  I really had to explain and convince the person over the phone that my OPK was positive.  I felt like that person didn’t believe me.  As soon as my IUI was scheduled, I was reminded of the specific timeline of the appointment, which I had already received in written form.

When you drop off the semen sample to the lab (prior to your appointment) it is “washed”.  Basically the semen is cleansed and put into a tube.  I’ll talk about this when I talk about some of the books I reviewed.

I arrived for my IUI and the appointment was about 30 minutes total.  I spent more time waiting than anything else.  The nurse took my weight and blood pressure then walked us to a room.  My husband & I waited for the OB/GYN to perform the IUI, at least five minutes.  When he came, he showed me the tube that contained the sperm and asked me to verify the information on it.  There’s a label that should contain your name and your husband’s name, birth dates, and other pertinent information.  You should NOT be looking at a tube that has someone else’s name on it…other wise, that’s a problem…for obvious reasons!  Lol!  I confirmed the information and he proceeded with the IUI.  The IUI was very similar to an HSG test.  The exam table is the regular one complete with stirrups, but it is lowered.  The OB/GYN put the speculum in and then the catheter.  The tube is then connected to the catheter and the sperm travels through the catheter to the cervix, where the sperm are released.  It didn’t hurt and was not in any way painful.   The IUI itself is only a few minutes long.  Like I said, waiting before and after the IUI is longer.

Anyways!  When all the sperm is in the cervix, the IUI is complete.  All the tools are removed (catheter and speculum) and you wait.  I was given a pillow to put behind my back and I was instructed to lie on my side at a 45 degree angle for 10 minutes.  A timer rang and I switched sides.  The purpose in doing this was to use gravity to help the sperm reach the egg.  After the second 10 minutes were done, we left.  After the IUI is done, you probably will not see or have the opportunity to talk with the OB/GYN.  For me, the IUI was conducted at a different office, and my regular OB/GYN was not located there and did not do the IUI.  So, if you have questions…ask them before or during the IUI.  Also, the OB/GYN will probably talk you through the procedure.  If they do not, ask them to tell you what’s going on as they do it.  It should not be a surprise to you and it’s important to be informed of what’s happening, especially with YOUR body. 🙂

Approximately 14 days/2 weeks after the IUI, expect your menses.  If no menses, take a pregnancy test.

By doing the IUI, I hoped my journey would take the pregnancy path.  Well, Round 3 of Clomid with IUI did not result in a positive pregnancy test.  Unfortunately, I got my menses.  It was so disheartening, disappointing, and stressful for me.  I was so over it.  I was ready to give up.  Nothing was working.  I wanted a referral.

Since it was Day 1 again, I scheduled and went in for a Day 3 exam.  I was still over it when I met with a fourth OB/GYN.  Ya, I met a different OB/GYN each time I was prescribed clomid.  (That was really frustrating.) Except this time, I was different.  I was determined to move to the next step.  As I explained the plan to the OB/GYN, I was informed that taking clomid with timed intercourse or IUI would be less effective the longer I did it.  So, logically, continuing with clomid didn’t seem the best way to move forward.  I don’t know why, but I decided to give it one more cycle.  Everything was all clear, and I got my 4th prescription of clomid.  I also decided my plan was changing.  I was not going to take clomid for 2 more cycles.  This was going to be my LAST prescription of clomid and if it didn’t work, I was getting a referral.  So, off I went with my clomid.  In my heart I knew it wasn’t going to work, but I did it anyways.

And I was right!  Round 4 of Clomid with IUI proved to be unsuccessful.  I also had a different OB/GYN perform the second IUI.  The process was the same…using the OPK, scheduling an IUI, doing the IUI, and then waiting.  Waiting is definitely a crazy time.  There were so many scenarios that ran through my mind…all the what ifs, good and bad.  For example, I thought if I did get pregnant, I could have a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.  I also thought about morning sickness, additional tests I would be asked to take, how it would affect my work.  The list goes on and on.  All of theses thoughts are very realistic and very pertinent, but not always helpful.  I think it can be detrimental at times because the thoughts don’t allow your body to relax.  It reminds me of that moment on a roller coaster right after you’re locked into the ride.  There’s no going back.  It’s nerve-racking.  You’re excited, yet unsure of what to expect.  To help ease my mind and body I constantly distracted myself by keeping busy with other things, unrelated to my thoughts.  See, if you have time to think, that’s what’s going to occupy your mind…well it did for me.  In order to limit my mind from going on a tangent, I mastered some of my talents, exercised, etc.  It was temporary but effective.  Prayer was also very effective.

From very early on in our efforts to have a baby, I quickly learned that I had little to no control over the outcome.  I thought I did, but I didn’t.  I constantly conducted (and still do) self-reflection.  The purpose of my self-reflection was to see how my thoughts, feelings, and actions were affecting my behavior and attitude toward this entire process.  I also find this to be helpful in other aspects of my life.  So, from there I tried REALLY hard to adjust my behavior and attitude to obtain a new perspective on my experience.  Simply changing my thoughts and actions did not (& do not) alone change my behavior.  I needed more strength than that.  I prayed everyday, many times throughout the day.  I needed to stay focused on the important things and not let my thoughts or other influences bombard me.  I recognized that I was getting impatient, frustrated, and ultimately stressed out.  I needed help to have faith in God.  So, praying alleviated my stresses and I received the peace and comfort I so desperately craved.

When my menses came and I knew I was not pregnant, I was much more overwhelmed than I portrayed.  I put up a front that I was ready for the next step.  In reality, moving forward in the process and getting a referral meant that I would have to accept what was really happening with my body.  I didn’t want to face what I knew was coming…IVF.  I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready…I didn’t want to be ready.  I wanted everything else to work so I didn’t have to experience IVF.

Next: Costs & Research