Little Blessings.

You asked for it, so here it is!

I have been pretty quiet since my last post because I have been anxiously awaiting the call I received yesterday. As you may know, Jay and I have 10 frozen embryos in Denver right now. These 10 little frosty embabies were biopsied the day we left for home and sent for chromosome testing. We have been so nervous about the results due to Jay’s inversion (if you missed that, read about it here – Genetics.)

Now typically for my age range, which always falls in the “>35yrs” category in fertility talk, the percentage of embryos that come back labeled as EUPLOID, or normal, is roughly 70%. Here is a graph that may help you to visualize this. Sorry it is difficult to see, it was taken on a cell phone so forgive me…

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Remember.. Euploid = Normal and Aneuploid = Abnormal.

With that said, with Jay’s inversion of chromosome 9, it was estimated by the genetic counselor and our doctor that our rate of normal embryos would most likely be lower than average. My hope was to have 2 or 3 normal embryos as our best case scenario..

It was a long and agonizing 16 days but FINALLY, yesterday October 12th, I received the call. When I answered the phone, the nurse asked if it was a good time to talk about the results. I said yes but I was super nervous, which she replied with “oh I don’t think you should be nervous!”

So she told me that..

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We have SEVEN perfect little embryos waiting for us!

SEVEN, y’all!

And then she told us that we should probably celebrate tonight.. In which we did with some fabulous wine and cheesecake. Because, ya know, I just don’t think we have ever been so happy or had anything to celebrate on our infertility journey. And finally, we do! So we did!

Now I am all sure you are wondering what’s next? Well I’ll save that for another day since I’m not exactly sure yet. We of course would like to move along as quickly as we can but we have to take care of some other things along the way. For now, we have a phone consult with Dr Schoolcraft TONIGHT in order to discuss everything that has happened thus far and our next steps in this process.

Also, I would just like to take a minute and say that 4 years ago yesterday, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That was such a life changing moment. But I will tell you what, I have not let MS define me or slow me down. I am not my diagnosis whether it be MS, infertility, anxiety, or anything else that wants to rear it’s ugly head at me.

I am Amanda, and I am kicking ass at life!

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Until next time.. ❤

 

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Retrieval, fertilization, & blastocysts, Oh My!

Last Tuesday morning, September 20th, I woke up around 4am, unable to sleep and anxious for the what was to come that day. See, this is my fourth time having an IVF retrieval done, but a lot is riding on the results we get at this clinic. I was slated to arrive at the CCRM surgery center at 6:30am for a 7:30am procedure. I woke Jay up, took the dogs out and got ready.

I knitted the whole way to CCRM. Jay says I am going to be the old lady knitting while waiting for surgery, I didn’t disagree.

We arrive and head up the the waiting area until the nurse comes to get us. My nurse for the procedure is ironically my original IVF nurse. When we had our initial consult, she was the one to walk us through everything we needed to do. Shortly after that, I found out she moved to the surgery center to be more hands on, and I don’t blame her. I am the same way. Anyways, she remembered us and we discussed life since we last saw her. It is such an incredible feeling when people remember you at such a high profile clinic with a large patient population.

Next, I got changed into my homely hospital gown and surgical cap. I was offered socks but I had my own that I felt may possess some good luck.. it’s a thing in the infertility world to have good luck socks! I got hooked up to all the monitors and an IV was placed, with one try!

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I met the anesthesiologist, who was incredibly nice and made me feel very secure. She explained that although this procedure is done under general anesthesia, they don’t typically use any breathing tubes at CCRM, which has been my least favorite part in the past. Waking up with a sore throat is never fun.

I kept an eye on the clock. It was 7:28am when Dr Gustofson (the physician performing retrievals for that day) came in to discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure. He ended with a question he has to ask all patients, “Do you want to change your mind?”…..

OF COURSE NOT! No way I would put myself through everything I just did, just to change my mind. I am certain he has never heard ‘yes’ to that question before! He smiled and told me he would see me a while later. I never did end up seeing him later, but that is okay.

At 7:35am (and yes, I was getting anxious when the clock started ticking past 7:30am), the anesthesiologist came in and gave me some medication to relax me (fentanyl, maybe?) and rolled me into the surgical suite. The last thing I remember is the anesthesiologist pointing to a window on the other side of the room and telling me that this was where the lab is that my eggs would be passed off to. And then I was out…

I woke up to an itchy nose, like always. The best thing for this is chapstick! Easy application and makes the itching go away. I was still pretty loopy at this point but the embryologist came to talk to us.

The news she gave us had me in tears. THIRTY TWO eggs retrieved!

THIRTY TWO!

In my three retrievals in Jacksonville, I had a total of 22 retrieved. This was such a big improvement and way more that the 17 and 15 that Jay and I had predicted, respectively.

So that was it for the day. We wouldn’t get an update until the next day. So I got dressed and off to breakfast we went.

If you are ever in a city with a Snooze, do me a favor and please just go! You will not regret it..

We ordered the two plates on the left but our waitress gave us a free blueberry cheesecake pancake on her. It was as amazing as it sounds.

I kept it pretty low key the rest of the day. I actually was in quite a bit of pain which may have been partially attributed to OHSS or Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. Either way, I got through it without needing to be hospitalized, so I guess I did well in the end.

 

The next day, Wednesday the 21st, I woke up around 8:30am to my phone ringing. It was CCRM! I didn’t expect to hear an update so early, but I’m not complaining 🙂

We got good news at this point as well. Out of the 32 eggs retrieved, 20 of them were mature and able to have ICSI performed on them. ICSI is also known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This procedure is done when there are any male factor issues that may be contributing to infertility, such as low sperm count. During this procedure, one sperm cell is injected into each egg cell. This procedure is performed around 4 hours after retrieval.

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So as I was saying, the embryologist was able to perform ICSI on 20 eggs. Out of these, 17 of them fertilized normally and were beginning to grow into embryos! WOW was all I could think. That is an 85% fertilization rate which is stellar! We were thrilled but that was the easiest wait.

The next update would be how many of the fertilized eggs made it to the blastocyst stage by day 6 after retrieval. A blastocyst is defined as an embryo with differentiation of cells into two main parts: the inner cell mass that would eventually become the baby and the trophectoderm which would eventually become the placenta.

In our three prior IVF cycles, we have never seen a blastocyst. We always transferred embryos on day 3, when they are 4-8 cell structures. Whatever we had leftover after the transfer was watched but they never grew.

So we knew we had quite the wait ahead of us. We tried to stay extremely busy.

We went to the zoo…

 

The Hammonds Candy Factory…

Yes I wore my hat the ENTIRE time and embarrassed Jay. And my MIL did too 😉

We went Mini-Golfing, and I lost by 2 points (but Jay was keeping score so I’m not sure how accurate that is).

We went to a corn maze in Littleton, and discovered how much we like that area… hmm.

And I knitted. A lot. I actually finished a scarf in a week after quickly learning how to knit.

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FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity, I received a call from the embryologist just before noon on Monday morning, September 26th. I had prepared myself for the worst, we have never made blastocysts in the past so what made this different?

Needless to say, the supplements I took must have helped. We currently have TEN embryos that made it to this critical stage, were biopsied for chromosome testing, and were frozen with no complications. We have 10 frosty babies!

The embryologist told me the grading for them but I was too excited to write them all down. I do know that we have four day 5 embryos and six day 6 embryos. Once I speak with my nurse again, I will make sure to get the grades of each and every one of them!

 

Even though this is amazing news to us, we still have obstacles to cross in this journey. But for now I will cling on to the hope that at least one of these embryos is my future baby.

MY FUTURE BABY.

I just can’t help but smile when I type that.

We flew home yesterday. It felt weird leaving those 10 little pieces of Jay and I in Colorado. But, it won’t be for long.

Until my next post.. <3<3<3

 

Denver, CO.

J and I made our way to Denver on Wednesday. The flight was uneventful at most, which is probably a very good thing. And if you have never been to CO, you should probably try to.. It’s amazing out here.

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Now let me back up and give you an update of what has been going on. For the past three months, I have been preparing my body with a vitamin “cocktail” courtesy of CCRM. A large amount of pills in the morning, and a slightly less large amount of pills in the evening. The black pills you see are part of a study I am participating in at CCRM. It is to evaluate the effects that Acai Berry has on egg quality. Crossing my fingers for a great outcome!

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At the end of August, I began testing for ovulation using ovulation predictor tests. This measures the surge of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) that is released just before ovulation occurs each month. My positive test came back on August 24th. I’m still not used to seeing a test come back positive.. Even if it’s just telling me I’m about to ovulate. Ha.

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Ten days following that positive test, I starting my priming protocol to basically get my ovaries ready to start growing some follicles! I started applying an estrogen patch to my lower abdomen every other day. At 11 days past, I began an injection called cetrotide. The estrogen works to create an optimal environment for follicles to grow while the cetrotide acts to prevent premature follicular growth. My medication count is currently at 3 patches and 3 shots..

And this brings us to now! Yesterday was my first IVF appointment with CCRM. I had some blood work drawn and an ultrasound done. The lab work looked great and my ultrasound was quiet, just as it needed to be. I will admit that I was feeling a bit anxious about this appointment because many people have gone in to find that they have cysts on their ovaries, in turn having their cycles cancelled.

Being a nurse and trying to figure out all these appointments is tough. I took two weeks off and was able to schedule the trip out here, which means I do not have time for them to cancel my cycle! We are now past that so I won’t dwell..

Anyways, my nurse (whose name is ironically Flo 😂😂) called me yesterday afternoon and gave me the okay to begin my stimulation medication. I will be taking an injection of menopur in the morning and 12 hours later I will be taking an injection of Gonal-F. These medications stimulate follicular growth, hoping to increase quantity and quality. I will also be taking a steroid pill in the evening to prevent any inflammatory processes in the body that could impede the success of this cycle. These are my medications, needles, syringes, and whatever else I need to inject myself 😆

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Also, here is what my schedule looks like..

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This morning was my first stimulation injection. It’s nothing new to me but it’s been nearly two years since I’ve done this so I was slightly anxious. I’m really hoping we have better luck out here in beautiful CO than we did in FL.

I would like to take a moment to thank each and every one of you who reads this and prays for us, or sends us good vibes. It means the world to me. Since I have opened up about my own battle with infertility, I have had many others who are also struggling open up to me. We are all in different stages but we are all feeling that same emptiness. Please know, that you are not alone in this fight and we can get through it together.

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And on that note, until my next post ❤️

Here we go again..

It’s been quite some time since I last blogged. I kept telling myself I would but I just couldn’t find it in me to write about heartache after heartache. Now here I am, a new journey on the horizon, and I want to share it. Not just for my friends and family members who may be curious, but also for our future child someday. I want to show them this so they know just how much they were wanted and exactly what we would go through to have them. So here it goes…

After multiple failed ovulation induction cycles and three failed IVF cycles, we decided that it was time to move on from our current physician. This brought us to where we are now. In August 2015, we traveled to Denver, CO to visit the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine and start our journey with Dr William Schoolcraft. Dr Schoolcraft is extremely well known in the fertility world and founded CCRM in 1987. Since then, CCRM has become nationally recognized in clinical excellence and advanced research in reproductive medicine. Where the national success rates are in the 30-40% range, CCRM has achieved 80% success rates consistently in previous years.

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We attended the infamous One Day Workup appointment in which multiple procedures were performed, too much blood was taken, and tests were performed. Everything looked great creating a mystery case for Dr S. This is where the CCRM science comes in. Multiple things have been suggested as to why we were not achieving success at our local clinic. Dr S. would like to treat me for these and believes that this is the answer. I have faith in him that he is correct because these specific treatments have never been suggested to me before and seem to fit my diagnosis. As we get into all those treatments, I will elaborate on them through this blog.

While we were out in Colorado, we did some traveling around.

Here is my MIL and I at the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory in Boulder! IMG_4157.jpg

And we went to RMNP and stayed in Grand Lake, CO for a few nights!

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We got to visit Red Rocks.

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And a peak that overlooks the town of Golden, CO.DSC00985.jpgDSC00988.jpg

On the day we were to leave, my FIL pointed out a funnel cloud in the sky just outside of their neighborhood. It wasn’t until we looked up that we realized he was not joking! We drove towards to airport and were stopped due to more tornados and inclement weather. We decided then to change our flight to the next day.. which meant another night in this beautiful land!

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After we finally arrived home, we started completing all the testing and tying up the loose ends to get treatment started. This is when I was offered a new job in Women’s Health that I most certainly could not refuse, it’s my dream job! So treatment was put on hold due to that. In that time, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and transferred to the Labor & Delivery unit in my hospital! Now that I am done with school and finishing up orientation on my new unit, it was time to get back to business and start treatment.

In about 3 weeks, we will travel to Denver and undergo an egg retrieval. These eggs will have sperm injected into them in a procedure called ICSI, or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, in hopes that they fertilize. These embryos will then be grown to day 5 in which they will be genetically tested and frozen. After we receive that results, whether the embryos are normal or abnormal, we will then undergo the transfer in hopes to implant and achieve a pregnancy. Again, I will go into more detail once these procedures come up.

So for now, I want to end with this…

1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility. I am 1 in 8. But one day, I WILL be a mother. No matter the means of how I obtain my child, I will have him or her and they will be mine. I will love them like no one has ever or will ever love them. And I can’t wait until that day ❤

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March 5th 2014

The day of my last post.

Today is now August 26th 2014.

One Hundred and Seventy Four days in between.

Not much could happen in that time.. right?

Wrong!

So much has happened! Allow me to share…

In March, I volunteered AND participated in my very first MS Muck Ruckus! It was a ton of fun and I can not wait to participate next year!


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In April, My husband and I went through our first cycle of IVF. It was an emotionally and physically exhausting process that unfortunately ended in a chemical pregnancy. This happens when an embryo implants but stops growing, causing a positive test but is not a viable pregnancy.

In May, I graduated with my AS in nursing! Not to mention with high honors.. a 3.79 GPA 🙂

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And I could not have done it without my amazing husband, who I celebrated SIX crazy years of marriage with on May 19th ❤

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Also in May, We attended a beautiful wedding in SC!

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And then went on an awesome cruise to Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel!

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In June, I celebrated my 25th birthday! Nothing too exciting about turning 1/4 century old 😉

I also passed the NCLEX!

We then underwent our second round of IVF. Unfortunately, this was not a success either. But we will keep our chins up and pray that one day some little miracle will call us mommy & daddy.

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In July, I began my first job as a registered nurse! It has been such a wonderful experience so far and I can not wait to learn more and more each and every day!

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We also started our PALEO journey during the month of July. It has proven to be a success with my husband loosing almost 25lbs and myself down 20lbs. This has been one of the best changes we have made to our daily lifestyle and we will definitely continue!

In August, I started my journey to further my education as a student at the University of Central Florida! Here, I will obtain my BS in Nursing which will allow me better career opportunities and allow me to become a nurse practitioner 🙂

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GO KNIGHTS!

Lastly, and most recently, my AMAZING husband bought me a brand spankin’ new car! With my hard work and dedication during the nursing program and finding a job almost immediately, he says that I deserved this! My little 2008 Toyota Yaris S was swapped in for a GORGEOUS ruby red 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE! She has black interior, a touch screen, and a sunroof! Not to mention the AWESOME gas mileage 🙂

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So as you can see, the last five-ish months have been pretty busy for me. It’s been such a roller coaster of emotions.

I plan to blog more often (for real this time), Hopefully at least one post a week.

But for now, I leave you with a picture that my mother in law recently took on a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It makes me realize that there is a bigger picture in this crazy life of mine and whether or not I see it, it is there. God works in mysterious ways and it will all make sense later ❤

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Enjoy!

November.

Well now that it’s over, I suppose I can share.

October 1st began a new round of fertility treatments for my husband & I. Oral meds and injections consisted of my last 30 days. But sadly, with all the hope in the world, it still failed. And I have come to the conclusion that something is seriously wrong. We did everything right this time and yet it still did not work. 

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And this is pretty much how I feel. I feel as though it is going to cost A LOT of money no matter how we eventually have a family. IVF = around $5-6k per round. Adoption = Let’s not even begin. Looks like I will need to take out a second mortgage to get what I want.

My next vent… Why do idiots reproduce? I have seen to much ignorance lately and wonder how & why they have children. I mean seriously, either wait until you grow out of this phase or please do not create little ones to pass your stupidity onto.

Another vent… Stop complaining on facebook. I don’t care if your pregnancy sucks. Or your baby is crying and keeping you up all night. Or if you don’t have enough money for everything you need. Guess what? I WISH I had those problems. Please realize how blessed you are with properly functioning reproductive organs. 

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I know I wrote a post on my bitterness a few weeks ago. And yes, I am working on it. BUT! Please forgive me as I have been dealing with this issue for almost 5 years now and I am pretty fed up with it. I have seen (too many to count) pregnancy announcements and I really wish it was my turn. 

I have a loving husband. I have a job (and almost a new career). I have a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood. The next step is a family and we just can’t seem to reach that. 

 

Had to get this out but it is now time to study for my first pediatrics exam tomorrow. Oh and maybe some sleep. We’ll see. 

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Just 4 exams, 4 more clinicals, and 6 weeks stand in front of me and my month long vacation from school. Feeling burnt out and this will be a wonderful (well needed) break before I begin my final term of nursing school in January. Not sure if I should be excited or nervous…  

 

For now.. ❤

bittersweet.

Today I realized that I am a very bitter person. 

Bitter about some things I have not been able to experience in life yet. Bitter about some things that I DO have to experience on a daily basis.

But as I sit here (trying) to finish up some homework, not able to sleep yet again, I can’t help but dwell on the fact that everything in my life is the way it should be. And it is perfect. Sure, It might not be how I expected my life to be, but I am so blessed.

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The man in this picture made me realize tonight how blessed I am. We have been through a lot (maybe too much for our age) together and guess where he is after all of it?

Right. Next. To. Me.

He supports me in everything that I do.

When I told him that I was quitting my job last year to pursue my dream in nursing, he supported me. 

When I was diagnosed with MS, he told me he wasn’t going anywhere. 

Every time I end up in the hospital, this man is right there by my side.

He loves me unconditionally, even when we argue (and of course we do.. we are only human. And married.)

 

So as of today, I am going to try being less bitter about life. 

That is all for now…

 

Except one thing…

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ONLY 78 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!