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

 

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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!

our story.

I suppose it is time. 

Time to tell my our story of infertility.

You may want to sit down, this could be a while….. 😉

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After a year of marriage, filled with ups, downs, and all arounds.. we decided that we would love to start a family. Sure, we had fur babies but we wanted an extension of ourselves. A little being.. a little of me, a little of him. 

“That won’t be to hard!”… or so we thought…

 

Fast forward nine months later.. No baby.

And to the doctor we go. 

We started at the naval hospital. The doctor was rude. She questioned my desire and doubted my ability to parent a child.

So I asked for a referral. And she gave it to me.. seeing as how it had already been nine months with no success. 

 

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So we decide to give it six more months.. No baby.

Our appointment with the fertility specialist was scheduled for the monday after my 21st birthday. Perfect. I’ll have my fun and then I’ll prepare to be a mom!

 

The appointment went well. It was decided that I have Endometriosis. For those who don’t know what this disease is… Allow me to share.

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Basically.. lesions. All over the place. Uterus. Fallopian tubes. Ovaries. Just everywhere. And it is PAINFUL. 

So to fix this wonderful endometriosis, I had what is called a laparoscopy & hysteroscopy. It was an awful surgery that took much longer than it should have and ended with me ALMOST dying. Scary stuff but I am ALIVE! And they believe that they were able to eliminate all of the lesions!

So after healing from the beast of a surgery I had, I underwent what is called a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG for short). For this procedure, a dye is inserted into the uterus through the cervix (big words, I know) and a real time X-ray visualizes the flow into the uterus, through the fallopian tubes, and into the ovaries. Basically, they want to know if there is any blockage that an egg could not pass. 

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So no blockages for me! Very good news.

I then had a slew of tests that required a donation of a good amount of blood.. all of which came back normal. And of course.. my husband had some tests of his own.

Everything looked good and it was time to begin treatment!

 

Our first treatment was called “Ovulation Induction”. Basically.. I take a few pills. My follicles (with eggs inside) grow (inside the ovary). I have an ultrasound. I take an injection. And we get down to business. 

A few months of this goes on and still we have nothing. 

So we move on to something called “Mini Stim”. This treatment is just the same but with HEFTIER drugs. 

A few months of this.. still nothing.

We meet with the doctor, who does not understand why this has not worked for us, and he explains that we may benefit from IUI (Intrauterine Insemination.. think turkey baster) or IVF (Invito Fertilization.. think test tube).

At this point.. nobody but us knows about our situation. It is tearing us apart inside and we need to talk to someone. So we call that wonderful MIL of mine and lay it all out. Of course, she had already suspected it but we now have confirmed it. I’m not sure if it was embarrassment or what.. but we felt as if we could’t tell anyone. But now we had a support system and we felt a little better.

 

At this point, my husband was scheduled for a 7 month deployment. We felt as if it was a sign to take a break. And take a break was exactly what we did. Then I was accepted into nursing school and we extended our break just a little more.

But then we couldn’t handle it anymore. We made an appointment in June of this year and the doctor had suggested a NEW treatment called “Mega Stim”. Sound familiar? It is indeed the same treatment we had tried before but with even HEFTIER drugs than the heftier drugs. I’m not sure we are convinced. 

 

We have decided that IVF will be our next option. But of course, our insurance does not cover this treatment since it is considered “elective” and “not essential”.

So we will have to wait. Until we have the money to undergo this procedure and MAYBE.. just maybe finally fill that empty hole in our hearts. Hopefully it will be sooner versus later but until then, we keep trying 🙂 With no expectations. 

And we hold on to hope..

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So that is our story. If you have questions about ANYTHING pertaining to infertility or our story, I will answer. It helps for me to talk about it. And now the whole WORLD knows that we are a part of the 7.3 MILLION people who suffer from this heartbreaking disease. And.. it is okay to talk about it. 🙂

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(On our 5th anniversary. Happy as ever ❤ )

Thank you for reading.