Friday, August 30, 2013

Where pet sitters and infertility intersect

First off, today is my birthday. YAY! I took the day off to enjoy all-about-me-on-my-birthday time, but I ended up filling my day planned for chores and other things that I needed to get done. Ugh. Why did I do that to myself? Somehow I'll make sure to find some time for a pedicure somewhere in the mix. :)

The first thing on today's agenda was to interview a pet sitter. With Nadia's diabetes requiring pretty much around-the-clock supervision and care, it's been very overwhelming. We've recognized that we need to hire someone to help us out in the event we can't be home to feed, test, or give her shots. It's been hard to find one that can do what we need. In fact, I interviewed a pet sitter a few weeks ago who had been a vet tech for 10 years. But later that day her agency emailed me saying they weren't a good fit for us. We were just too much work. Fair enough, but back to the drawing board.

I decided to get serious about it and signed up for a subscription to SitterCity (great site, by the way) and really dig in and find someone who could meet our needs.

I found a woman who recently started her own pet sitting business and was willing to do everything we needed and more. I set up her meet-and-greet this morning at 7:45am so I could demo shots and tests. As I was showing her the cat's insulin syringes in the laundry room, I realized my FET medication box was sitting out on the counter. I quickly explained that I had medical issues and clarified that she should be careful to not use any of my syringes or medications on the cat. I'm sure Nadia doesn't need her ovaries suppressed. She's spayed lol.

Toward the end of the visit, I explained that we will need to have her come on the morning of September 12th, which is the day we are travelling to San Antonio for our transfer. I decided to just let her know at that point that I'm going through fertility treatments. I figured, why not? I try to be an advocate for infertility and embryo adoption when a situation presents itself. And this one did.

Shockingly, she said "I kind of thought that when I saw your box of medication." Ha! I found out she used to work at my previous clinic as the billing person before leaving to start her own pet sitting business. In fact, she worked there during my IVF cycle and had even ordered all of my IVF medication! And on top of all of that, she was actually a gestational carrier for another infertile couple and carried twins. This pet sitter SO gets where we are in life without an explanation needed. Even though her job as a pet sitter has nothing to do with infertility, it feels good to find a real life connection with someone who "gets it" without having to explain.

Anyway, she's hired. Not because she "gets" infertility, but because I'm confident she will do a good job. I'm relieved to have a pet sitter lined up like you wouldn't believe.

And in other fantastical birthday news, Nadia isn't limping anymore! It's unbelievable considering how badly injured she was on Tuesday. My vet called me this morning to tell me that he had a consult with the orthopedic surgeon yesterday and the two of them decided her injury was not as serious as first thought and it will NOT require $2000 surgery! He recommended a week to a month of cage rest. Nadia is doing great. Our wallet is doing great. We have a pet sitter lined up. I am so happy I could scream! My birthday is off to a fantastic start!

I'll leave you with a picture of a birthday gift that came in the mail for me yesterday from my dear friend and fellow EA blogger, Jess.

It is a bracelet that says "expect miracles." I am trying to do just that! It seems a miracle happened with my cat's injury... hopefully there are some more in store for us. What a sweet and perfect gift.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pet infirmary ward

Yesterday was another crazy day around here. It started with waking up early to take my dad's dog, Gus, to the vet for a planned surgery because Gus had a split toenail and broken tooth. My dad is blind and can't drive so I offered to do this for him before work.  Poor Gus. Check out how pathetic he looked when he was released. No, that's not a tornado siren - it's a french pointer who feels like crap!

Out of nowhere much later in the day, our diabetic cat Nadia jumped off of a bar-stool and began walking with a horrible limp. I called the vet and they said to bring her right in. They did x-rays and determined she has either a torn ligament or torn meniscus in her knee. And there are really only two recommendations: $1500-$2000 orthopedic surgery, or physical therapy (unknown cost.) Normally he'd prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, but unfortunately she can't take that due to her diabetes. This kind of injury is very painful for a cat, which breaks my heart. He sent her home with some basic pain medication and told us to limit her movement. He will be contacting us today or tomorrow to let us know the details from his consult with the orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist. If surgery is the right option, I imagine it's going to need to be ASAP. I took Friday off of work for my birthday, but it might be spent with her in surgery. The expensive fun never stops around here. Not quite the birthday I had hoped for.

We've set up a very large dog crate in the living room to limit her movement and to allow her to be near us. She's not thrilled about it, but without her being able to put weight on her leg, there's no other option. I pray she heals up and physical therapy is all that is needed. This poor kitty is seemingly falling apart between this and her recent diagnosis of diabetes. Overwhelming is really the best word to describe it, especially when we are right in the middle of our cycle. Sometimes I even forget I'm cycling, but thankfully my phone reminds me when I need to take my medications!

Here is our other cat, Chloe, visiting Nadia in the "infirmary ward." Visiting hours are 8am to 10pm daily.

After all of this ordeal, I got home and our dog ,Oscar, woke up from a nap and started having idiopathic tremors. His head was shaking quickly from side to side, and is looks like a seizure. He started getting these occasionally a few years ago, but luckily he hasn't had one in a very long time. It scared me out to see this happen to him on top of everything else with nadia! Luckily, it stopped after a few minutes and he's been fine ever since. I took him to the vet a long time ago when I first him do this, but she said not to worry about them. I guess it's typical in "bully" breeds (and we think he's part English Bull Terrier, like the Target dog.) We rescued him when he was about a year old and he had already been severely beaten and abused, his skull broken from blunt force trauma, teeth knocked out, completely blind in one eye, covered in ticks, and starved. I'm actually surprised he doesn't have more health issues than he does. Poor guy! You can see how his right eye is blown out and cloudy. It's always been that way.

So there's an update from the pet infirmary ward! Not really cycle related, but it's front-and-center in my life right now so I figured I'd write about it.

Thanks to everyone who has joined the secret Facebook group. We are already up to 28 members! It's very active, and we've already seen our first BFP! If you are interested in joining, just email me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Private Facebook Group

I recently started an Embryo Adoption/Donation Facebook support group. This is for any woman on any step of the embryo adoption/donation journey.

Joining will require you to be added to my friend's list using your real Facebook profile. Due to the comfort level of all existing members, we will only accept members to join if they are using their real Facebook profile. The group status is set to "secret" which means it is 100% private so your other FB friends will not know you are a part of it or see you are posting to it. Being a member of this group will not "out" you to your other FB friends.

If you want to be added and you are a regular blog reader/commenter, please just send me an email with a link to your profile and I will add you to my friend's list and then to the group.

If you want to be added and you are a lurker but have never commented before, I will also gladly add you but please include an introduction for yourself in your email to me letting me know who you are and where you are in the embryo adoption/donation journey. email - wishingonasnowflake at gmail dot com.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I'd like you to meet my boyfriend, Kevin.

Kevin and I recently read a fantastic book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book is a perfect guide for ensuring that your spouse feels loved and I can't recommend it enough to a couple going through infertility. In fact, I'd recommend it to any couple, even those who may not be going through something so difficult. But many times during the enormous trials of infertility, making sure your spouse feels loved isn't always at the top of the priority list, even though it should be. And it can be very easy to do if you know how to make your efforts of love most impacting.

The basic idea behind this book is that all of us have a primary love language that we've spoken and understood pretty much our whole lives. Our love language is the way in which we understand and show love to one another. Nearly everyone falls into one of these five: Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch. And believe it or not, most couples come to a marriage very much in love, yet they do not speak the same love language. It's like one spouse speaking German when the other speaks Chinese. For example, a husband may think that showering his wife with gifts is the best way of showing love to her. But his wife may feel like she is lacking love from him because he never helps her with the dishes or does any vacuuming. If her husband would just do that, she would feel loved. And the unfortunate part about this situation is that the husband does love his wife with all of his heart - he just doesn't understand that the best way to show his wife love is in a way she understands, through acts of service to her. He only shows it in a way he knows, and he thinks that being thoughtful in the gifts he buys her is the right way to go.

This book explains what each of the five different love languages are, and how anyone can easily learn their spouse's love language and unlock the key to showing them love in the language they best understand.  When you do this, it fills up their "love tank." And when both spouses love tanks are full, everything else becomes easier and improved in life. Arguing tends to decrease, and each spouse starts to reach their full potential. After reading this book, you can take a free online questionnaire to figure out which language you are. Based on my results, I learned that my primary love language is: Words of affirmation.

What this means is that I like to hear Kevin tell me why he loves me. I love for him to tell me that he thinks I'm great, wonderful, beautiful and how proud he is that he is my husband. I like him to tell me why he thinks that my latest photographs are great, or that the dinner I cooked tastes amazing. He has always done a lot of nice things for me, but we realized after reading this book that when he does these nice things to show me love, the missing piece of the puzzle is for him to tell me that he did it for me and explain why he did those nice things. With just that added piece, I will feel most loved. It's such a simple change, but it has made me feel like a million bucks!

Interestingly, Kevin's primary love language is: Physical Touch. He feels most loved when I hold his hand, give him a massage, sit next to him to snuggle, etc. It's been interesting learning this about him because most of our marriage, I've been showering him with words to tell him that I love him, because that's the language I understand best and I feel most loved in. When in reality, he understands I love him best through physical touch. Who knew?! Such an amazing and wonderful thing to unlock and understand.

I can't say enough good things about this book and how much this has bumped our marriage to a really fantastic level. Infertility and loss sucks the wind right out of a marriage. We've always loved one another and never doubted we were going to stick it out through good times and in bad, through sickness and in health. But I am happy that we've found such an amazing tool to help us feel the most support and the most love through these hardest points in life. And infertility has been the hardest road we've traveled thus far.

We both feel like we are dating again. I even joked yesterday that I am going to start referring to him as my boyfriend. My heart flutters when I think about him. I can't wait to be around him, and I want to do anything to make him happy. He is such an amazing man.

My boyfriend and I decided to go on a date yesterday to some caves near our house. It was a great choice on a hot Texas summer day, because even though it was a humid and steamy 95 degrees outside, the underground caves were at a cool 72. I'll leave you with a few pictures from our exploration! Can you spot the three bats?

Has anyone else read the Five Love Languages? If so, what did you learn about yourself and your spouse? How about any other books that you recommend for a couple going through infertility? Let me know what you've discovered and how it's helped you!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Buckle up! We are cleared for take-off!

Great news! I had my baseline appointment today. Everything looks great to move forward in building my lining up! I'm aiming for a tempurpedic mattress kind of lining for these snowflakes. Today my lining measured at 4mm, and my E2 was <6. That means we are cleared and ready for take-off! Tomorrow I start estradiol and cut my Lupron dose in half to a welcomed 10u. FINALLY. I need a relief from these headaches and decrease in Lupron and addition of estradiol will certainly help.

To be honest, I was a little nervous going into this appointment since my period still hadn't shown up yet. So far I've just had obnoxious spotting and lots of cramps. Although I did have some unusual and more severe spotting about a week or so ago. Now I wonder if that was enough to shed my lining after all. Whatever happened, I guess I'm good to go.

Aside from the outcome being great, the appointment itself had some issues.

These issues started as I was driving into the appointment itself. I got an email from my nurse saying "Did you make an appointment for the ultrasound today?!? The Austin nurses say they don't have you on the books."

WHAT?! YES! At 9:30am!! And I was only 5 minutes away from the clinic at that point! I made sure to make this appointment the day I got my calendar. And believe it or not, this actually happened once before when they scheduled me at the San Antonio location instead of Austin for my last cycle. But in this instance, there was no record of my appointment at all. I don't get how that can even happen. Grr.

Despite that, when I got there, the nurse greeted me and was incredibly sweet. She was enthusiastic and  even told me I looked awesome and had noticed I had lost weight (27 pounds now!)

When we were preparing for the ultrasound, she said "How exciting! Today's your baseline! If all looks good, tomorrow you can start the gonadotropins." Oops. I reminded her this was a frozen cycle. She apologized for he mistake and said it was written into my chart. No biggie.

She checked my lining and then she moved on to check my ovaries for cysts. She checked the left ovary, and she said "Wow, you weren't kidding about your ovaries not working!" Sad reminder that my ovaries are just for decoration. I guess she could only count two follicles. Thankfully, no cysts on my left ovary. And she couldn't find the right ovary.

Well, at least this has a happy ending and I'm on my merry way. Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pain from a surprising source

During my own journey through embryo adoption, I've had the pleasure of getting to know several amazing women who have either gone down this path with success, or are currently moving along in the early stages of it. For those of us who have decided upon the path of finding a donor ourselves, there has been one common surprising source of pain: A promising relationship built with a potential donor, only to slowly and painfully realize that the donor has dropped off the face of the planet.

You may be thinking, "How can that happen? These people understand IF and the pain it causes because they've suffered from IF themselves. Wouldn't they know better?" You would think, right? But it seems to happen all of the time. When Kevin and I first started our embryo search in 2012 on Miracles Waiting, we found ourselves contacting a few donors. Some weren't going to work out which was apparent from the get-go. But no matter what you're looking for, when you're in the process seeking embryos you're putting a lot of hope and faith that the answer to your prayers is going to be at the end of your search. You have likely already been down a path full of immense failure and disappointment, and are now embarking on a new (and somewhat scary) path which finally holds promise for you once again.

When a donor reaches out to you as a hopeful recipient, your heart leaps at just the sight of their email. You read every word intently and you let yourself slowly start to just wonder if this could be "it". You exchange emails back and forth, you learn you have things in common, you talk about the paths each of you have taken to get to where you are today. It starts to feel "right."

Then the most impacting thing of all happens: You receive photos of their beautiful children. I can't begin to tell you how meaningful these photos become to the recipient. They become ingredients for daydreams and become burned into the recipients mind. You fall in love. You let yourself believe this could finally be the beginning of an answer to your prayers. You finally have facial features, hair colors, and eyes to put with the dreams you've had all this time. Things seem to be going so well as you build this new relationship and you hit "send" on the most recent email back to them.

You watch your inbox waiting for their reply. But days pass, no response.

You wait and you tell yourself "Oh, they must just be busy."

Several more days pass, no response.

You decide to email again, slowly starting to feel a pit form in your stomach. You start to see your imagined babies faces start to fade away. You decide to email them again and ask them nicely if you can answer any other questions for them, and you wish them a wonderful week hoping it will spur them to respond.

No response.

The donor is gone. They have disappeared. Your heart hurts immensely. You have to break the news to your spouse and watch him feel the deep pain you've already started to feel inside. You start to wonder "What did I do? What did I say? What is wrong with us?" You start to question everything. And unlike infertility itself which is blind to who it decides to inflict pain upon, this kind of pain feels like a direct attack to your character. Or it feels that your potential to be a parent has been evaluated and rejected. You were vulnerable to this potential donor and all you can think is that they didn't like anything that they saw in you.

This happened to us twice during our search in 2012. This also happened to one of my friends who had a donor contact her through her blog. And it recently happened to another friend of mine about a week ago which is what prompted me to write about this now. This appears to happen all of the time and it's very hard to go through.

You would think that a donor would be more aware of the emotional place that a recipient couple is at when they open this kind of sensitive dialog with them. After all, they've been through infertility themselves. So you would think that they would surely understand how hurtful it would be to completely drop away with no response, no explanation. My best guess is that they have changed their mind about wishing to donate, or no longer believe it is a match - for whatever reason. But instead of being open and honest about it, they slip away leaving the recipient to wonder, hope, wonder some more, and then hurt like crazy.

I can tell you first hand that if you are a donor who is in the early stages of conversation with a recipient couple and you have changed your mind, the kindest thing you can do for them is to be honest. If it no longer looks like a match, please be straightforward and tell them so. Please do not leave them hanging. It's a pain that I know you don't want to inflict on another person intentionally. I hope you will consider this advice as you move forward.

We are blessed to have two donor families who stuck it out and kept on going which brought us to the place we are today. I am so grateful that God led us to them. It was meant to be them all along - this I know for certain.

I hope this post helps anyone reading who might be on the other side of the embryo adoption table. Or anyone who has had a potential donor disappear - you're not alone.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Will I finally get to meet my RE?

As I've mentioned before, I'm actually under the care of two REs from my clinic. Dr A (the man RE) is the one I see locally in Austin for routine ultrasounds and my SIS, etc. And Dr B (the woman RE) is the Third Party Reproduction RE that oversees all of my care remotely.

I love Dr A, but I absolutely adore Dr B. She has been incredible throughout this entire process, going above and beyond the call of duty on many occasions. She has made me feel like a partner instead of a patient who should follow her orders blindly. She called me from her personal cell on a Friday evening during her her drive home from work to make sure I got test results that I had been anxious for. She knew it would be worried the whole weekend if she didn't. She called me "just because" to check in on me during my beta-hell miscarriage. She ran a list of Reproductive Immunology testing I brought to her just because I requested it. Even when she wasn't sure what the tests were, she said she'd research them to find out. And she did. She worked with other specialists when some results came back abnormal. When I talk to her on the phone, I feel like I'm talking to a girlfriend who I could easily go grab coffee with and enjoy spending time with. But in addition to all of this, she's an incredibly talented and smart doctor. She has even thanked me for "allowing" her to be a part of our embryo adoption journey. Can you believe that? My RE is thinking that she is the lucky one. Donor embryo cycles aren't something she normally does because they don't have an in-house donor embryo program. So I can't help but feel special to her. And even if I'm not actually special to her, she's sure made me feel that way with how she treats me and talks to me. I could go on and on. But the crazy part is that I have never met her in person!

Dr A did my transfer last time, but this time Dr B insisted that my nurse schedule my transfer for a day that she could be there. And even though my RE's office is opening up a lab in Austin which would allow us to avoid the drive to San Antonio on transfer day, it means enough to me to see Dr B that we are planning to go to San Antonio anyway. I REALLY want to meet her after all of this time! Dr B cracked me up when I told her because she said "Whew, I'm glad. I was going to be jealous if the other RE got to do it!" See what I mean about making me feel special?

To show my appreciation for her kindness and extra effort on this rocky journey, I bought her a white sapphire necklace and a card. I also got a matching one for my embryologist who went so far above and beyond to get these snowflakes here. These all match the ones I bought for Vicky and Libby when they donated their embryos to us. And I finally got one for myself as well. I'm pretty sappy because it makes me feel loads of joy to think that all of these special women who have had a hand in this have matching snowflake necklaces.

But here's a monkey wrench: I found out yesterday that Dr B is going on maternity leave very soon! And here I had no idea she was even pregnant. I found out because a friend of mine tried to make an appointment with her yesterday and the office staff said she wasn't accepting new patients because she was going out on leave soon. Of course I am happy for her, but now there's a side of me that is a little nervous I won't get to meet her after all. We will see! What is meant to be will be.

As for me moving along in my cycle, I have been spotting a bit so I think AF is just around the corner (I hope.) I have another acupuncture appointment this afternoon and maybe she can help jump start AF and help me with sleeping a little better if that is something within her power. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just truckin' along

I'm still doing my 20u of Lupron every day, and I took my last birth control pill last night. HALLELUJAH. Thursday is my first ultrasound. And I hope my lining sheds prior to that appointment, or we will have a delay similar to what happened last time. Please send me your AF vibes! My body needs to cooperate!

Kevin and I are finally having a nice, relaxing weekend! It's been a while since that has happened due to all of the craziness around here. We went for sushi last night in the hopes that it would be my last sushi hurrah for you know, nine months or so? :)

We are going to to see a movie this afternoon - Elysium. I hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Will I become an acupuncture believer?

Based on some promising research results for DOR patients, I decided to try acupuncture for my fresh IVF cycle attempt in 2012.

I went through two acupuncturists for that cycle. My first acupuncturist was a young woman who I found through a Yelp deal, and was in the side of a shady strip mall in my small town. Her philosophy for IVF support was to balance my body as a whole and the fertility aspects would fall into place naturally. Sounded reasonable on paper, I guess. This turned out with me holding onto vials of bizarre substances while she smacked my back with a plastic stick, and then of course poked me with acupuncture needles. She would "read my body" by having me hold my arm over my head and then having me drop it. And from that, my body would tell her what I needed. Sometimes my body would apparently tell her I needed to avoid dairy for 24 hours. Sometimes I needed to only eat free range chicken. Sometimes I had a magnesium deficiency, all manifested through the dropping of an arm. I went with the flow with her for a while because I had no reference point since she was my first ever acupuncturist. I was left to assume that this was normal treatment in preparation for IVF. The final signal that she was not a the right acupuncturist for me was when she announced to me that she had learned she was pregnant herself, and she wasn't sure if she was going to keep her baby because it was likely from a one night stand. I ran as fast as I could. Clearly she didn't understand infertility, or tact.

I quickly did my research for another acupuncturist and ended up with one who specialized in women's issues and seemed to understand infertility and IVF very well. But the one thing that bothered me was that this new acupuncturist would make chastising comments about how she wished I had come to her sooner before getting to the IVF stage because she could have fixed my DOR.

That's quite a monumental claim, lady. Insert giant eye-roll.

I really didn't like the idea of her making claims like this and giving me mental conflict and questioning my choices. And especially since we were already knee-deep into an IVF cycle. Was she implying that she wanted us to turn back? And furthermore, that IVF cycle turned out to be a disaster. I followed the advice of my RE and my acupuncturist to the letter and my ovaries failed to respond whatsoever to the maximum amount of stims on an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink protocol. Acupuncture definitely didn't help me that cycle, but who knows if I was even help-able, really. The whole entire process left me skeptical of acupuncture in general.

Due to my skepticism, I didn't do acupuncture for my DEmbryo FET in February 2013 based on my less-than-stellar experiences the first time. And without acupuncture, I got pregnant. But sadly, miscarried. You know the story. But my RE surprised me at the consult following my miscarriage and insisted that I do acupuncture this time. I balked a little, but she told me it was important that I do. I trust my RE immensely. So reluctantly, I agreed.

I emailed a few different acupuncture clinics near my work because that's where these appointments would likely need to happen. In my emails I explained I needed FET support acupuncture, trying to weed out the weirdos like the first acupuncturist I got. Surprisingly, most claimed they knew what to do in very few words, but that wasn't enough for me. Until one woman responded indicating that I'd come in once a week leading up to the transfer, twice on the actual day of transfer, and twice waiting for my beta results. Finally! Someone who knew what she was talking about! And not only that, said she loves giving discounts to her fertility clients, she got awesome yelp reviews, is within walking distance of my work, and was extremely flexible on scheduling the day of transfer appointments.

I had my first appointment with her yesterday, and this time did feel different! She was very caring, very motherly, very sweet. She was not judgmental of the fact I hadn't come to her sooner. She seemed normal and I didn't feel was trying to sell me magic potion or make me believe in hocus-pocus. She asked curious questions about our embryo adoption, and our situation. She seemed delighted that we were following this path. It thrilled me to be able to share our story with her. I love talking about embryo adoption, and whenever an opportunity presents itself to be an advocate for it, I am.

The session itself was extremely relaxing, and for the first time ever I did feel something different. I can't explain it but my mind just drifted away. She warned me about a needle she was going to poke on the arch of my foot (ouch) and praised me for being such a tough cookie when it was inserted. But she said I will feel relief from the hot flashes from that particular acupuncture point. Who knows it it actually worked or not, but I did not have any hot flashes last night after my appointment.

I had a bit of a headache that started about an hour after leaving, but that could just be the Lupron taking hold.

Whether this helps or not, I may never know. But I just want to know I did everything I could for success. I can't leave behind any "what if I had done _______?" No regrets. I can tell you that I am doing everything and then some! Full steam ahead!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Embryo adoption on CNN!

Kevin sent me a link to an story about embryo adoption that was featured on the main page of CNN today!

Click here to watch.

I'm really glad that this fairly unknown topic is getting some positive publicity. I have the following three gripes, but other than the following, I'm excited that it was put out there!

1) They mention that the children are not biologically the mother's, but I disagree. These babies are built of her body, her flesh, her nutrients. They may not be genetically related to her, they certainly are biologically. Bio=life. She is giving them life.

2) While they transferred two embryos and ended up with three children due to one splitting, this is incredibly rare. Choosing to highlight this aspect of the story adds to the notion that fertility treatments always lead to situations involving surprise multiples. I wish they'd highlight embryo adoption without focusing on the fact that this couple ended up with triplets, but oh well.

3) They say they "implant" instead of "transfer". This is a pet peeve of mine (and many others in the IF community) because we can only transfer embryos into the uterus. We hope and pray that they actually implant.

I hope this subject gets more attention in the future!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Struggles with my dad

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. It was kind of a hectic day with my dad. I'll talk about that later.

As far as our embryo selection goes, we told our embryologist we would let her select which two to transfer on the big day based on quality. She told us that all five of our embryos were excellent quality, so from a quality standpoint, there is no difference. The only thing that sets them apart is how they are frozen. Two from Libby's batch are frozen to a single straw, whereas the rest are all frozen as singles to straws. Because of this, she recommends we thaw and transfer the two-in-a-straw of Libby's and we can thaw the rest as singles next time. I let both Libby and Vicky know this because I think it's important for them to be aware of such an important decision. We love that final little day 6 snowflake from Vicky's batch with all of our hearts, but it looks like it will be waiting in the wings for this go-round. Vicky was incredibly supportive and understanding, as I knew she would be.

I have already knocked out two Lupron injections and even though the hot flashes have set in, I do feel good otherwise. It's funny how the smell of the alcohol swabs bring back so many emotions and feelings. Kind of a sensory overload at each shot!

This weekend has been really crazy, again. Seems like they all are lately! As you may know, my dad lives up the street from us. He has some serious health challenges. He is blind, bipolar, and severely diabetic. His blindness is a genetic disease with no cure, his bipolar disorder is for the most part, managed with medication. But his diabetes is incredibly out of control. He is in a large amount of denial about his diabetes, probably due to impulsivity from the bipolar disorder. He does not check his blood sugar at all, and anyone who tries to help him or encourage him ends up being his enemy. My whole family has tried encouraging him to take steps to better monitor and manage his diabetes, yet despite this, he refuses to make any changes. The more we try to help, the more he rebels. It's been tragic to watch because I know this will end up killing him one day. I think most of us have resolved to trying to show him as much love as we can while we watch him destroy himself slowly. I know it killed my mom to watch helplessly and she'd cry about it constantly.

Now that he is in Texas, he has been seeing the same primary care doctor that Kevin sees. I am not privy to what happens at his appointments, but we trust his doctor completely. My dad recently had some blood work done, including his A1C, and while I don't know the actual results, the doctor recognized how out of control his diabetes is and ordered a home care nurse for him. They are quickly seeing that his lifestyle is going to kill him if he doesn't get a handle on it.

It has been wonderful that this doctor is giving him this advice without the involvement of any of his family members. My dad realizes he can't make us the enemy this time because we aren't involved with it this time. I think he is finally starting to recognize that the diabetes it the enemy. It's the first time I've ever seen him take any medical advice about his health to heart. It's an answer to my prayers. The nurse started visiting him this weekend, and based on what she saw, she gave him an increase to his insulin and ordered him a talking blood glucose monitor. Shockingly, he has cooperated with most of it. But I was pretty alarmed to hear that the nurse suggested he be admitted to the hospital on Friday night due to extremely high blood glucose levels, and of course, he refused to go. But she stayed with him all night and gave him insulin until his levels came down to a reasonable place again.

My dad and I had lunch yesterday, and we had a good conversation about it. For the first time ever I felt like he was listening and acknowledging that he needs to help himself. I let him know that I am so happy to hear that he's trying to take control away from his diabetes. I told him how proud I am of him! I have insulin resistance myself, and while I am not diabetic, I also have to recognize my limitations in my diet if I want to remain nondiabetic. I also test my blood glucose from time to time. We talked about good food choices, and all of the yummy things he can eat and get excited about. I invited him over for dinner tonight, which is always a diabetic friendly menu due to the way we eat in our house due to my insulin resistance.

So now you're caught up on my struggles with my dad and his diabetes. I pray he is going to make some good choices and his diabetes gets under control. If he doesn't, the reality is that one day I will go over there and find him not breathing. Or he may die an awful death from diabetic ketoacidosis. Or worst still, suffer amputated limbs or other terrible complications before a miserable death. I'm trying to be as prepared for this as I can. But for now, I'm going to hang onto the hope that this time just might be different.

Lastly, Nadia's blood glucose tanked last night into the 40s again last night. We were up into the wee hours of the morning testing and feeding. We are lowering her dose again, but it seems like diabetes has quite the influence on our lives right now.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The missing embryo has been accounted for

The fifth embryo has been accounted for. Apparently, it never existed to begin with. Libby called her lab yesterday and talked to a manager. He reviewed her paperwork and history and assured her there was never a fifth. This means that the woman she spoke with way back in May who told her the exciting and unexpected news of the fifth embryo was just flat out wrong. What an insane and irresponsible mistake to make. Chalk that up to one of many. I am so grateful these embryos are out of their incompetent hands.

Libby and I both feel relieved that there is not a lonely snowflake lost at her lab. And I'm very happy to know that ALL of her four remaining embryos are safe and sound at my lab. I know and trust the embryologist here and I have 100% confidence they will be taken care of to the highest standards. But of course, I can't help but feel a loss for the imagined fifth snowflake that we had planned and prepared for all this time.

That feeling of loss is far out-shadowed by the feeling of relief and gratitude for the four we received. I now have five incredibly high quality blasts waiting for me, including the day 6 blast from our first donor, Vicky. This is an unbelievable blessing for me as a woman who could have never in a million years have created five frozen embryos using my own body. My head is still spinning thinking about how many obstacles we had to overcome to get to this point. I can't believe what a fight it has all been. But it has all been worth it to feel the way I do today. My little frozen babies are here. I can't believe I start injections tomorrow. I can't believe we have another chance.

I can't believe we might actually be parents.

And the icing on the cake is that when I got home, I found that the insurance company approval letter had arrived in the mail. It was like the beautiful culmination of all of our hard work and fighting finally came to an end yesterday. This particular chapter of the fight is finally over.

The embryologist made a strong recommendation as to which two blasts to transfer on game day. I'll post about that tomorrow once both of our donors know the plan. I want them to know first.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

There is an embryo missing

First, the fantastically wonderful news: Four snowflakes made it to Texas.

Four are here, safe and sound. They have our name on them and are snuggled up in our lab in San Antonio. I am so happy about this. I am in love with them.

But you're probably wondering, what about the fifth?

Yes. There is one missing.

When we first got into contact with Libby, she thought she had four to donate and we were completely elated about getting four. Only when she called her clinic to get the ball rolling did they surprise her by telling her there was a fifth! We were so excited for the extra embryo! They even gave her grades: She allegedly had four 4BBs and one 5AA. They specifically said there were three frozen as singles to a straw and the fourth and fifth were frozen together in a straw. Four straws total.

Today my embryologist only got three straws, and the paperwork indicates there are two frozen as singles and one as a double. One is either physically missing, or it never existed to begin with. The more I think about this, I am starting to think that the person who originally told Libby that there was a fifth was wrong. It wouldn't be the first time that someone messed up over there, that's for sure.

But the other more terrifying option is... what if a single snowflake got left behind? I'm just sick to my stomach about the prospect of this.

I'm very confused in my emotions right now. I'm so over-the-moon happy that four of them are here but I'm sick to my stomach that one may be missing. Where is this little snowflake?

Please pray that we figure it out soon and if it legitimately exists, that we can get it here right away with no hiccups. If it doesn't exist, I think I will feel some amount of relief that one was not needlessly left behind.
Libby is going up the ladder at her clinic to get answers. We are both sick about the missing embie.

105 degree weather and Lupron don't mix

I should be getting a call from my embryologist today announcing my beloved snowflakes made it here and are safe and sound. I'll make sure to post a quick update once I get that call so you all will know as well.

In the meantime, let me tell you about my medication delivery yesterday.

I had to order my meds from two pharmacies due to my insurance only willing to cover the Lupron through one particular specialty pharmacy. I spent probably an hour and a half on the phone on Tuesday getting everything lined up with them for a Wednesday delivery since I knew I'd be working from home to accept everything. The order from the first pharmacy arrived yesterday morning around 9am, perfect and in good shape. I put it all in my pretty little cycling box, which is the same box I've used every cycle.

But I waited and I waited and waited for the second delivery which had the Lupron in it, and of course, this is the injection I need to start first. It finally arrived after 7pm.

The shipping box was burning hot. Which makes sense because it sat in the back of a dark brown UPS truck for the entire day and it was 105 degrees out in Austin. I quickly ripped the box open to check the Lupron itself, and the Lupron vial was burning hot too. I checked the temperature storage guidelines, and it was definitely far above that.


I frantically called the pharmacy and told them they needed to send another, only this time with cool packs and arrange it to arrive in the morning at my dad's house up the street. They quickly agreed, apologized, and set up the new delivery. I'm watching for it to arrive and then I can finally declare the medication portion of this cycle ready to go!

And speaking of Lupron, my nurse got back to me on the rationale for the increase this time. I guess it was an intentional thing they have done for everyone at my clinic due to some women ovulating through it on lower doses. I'm not concerned that I would do that, but I figured I'll just go with the flow and take the doubled amount. I'd hate to learn I had ovulated through it and then find my cycle was delayed or cancelled.

But heaven help me. I'm going to be pumped full of loads of Lupron during the hottest parts of a Texas summer. The hot flashes last time were insane on half the dose. I think our a/c might be turned on to 30 degrees all day long while I'm cycling!

I also woke up to bleeding this morning which is odd since I'm on birth control. I'm sure it's fine and it's only normal breakthrough bleeding, but I didn't have that last time.

Stay tuned for the snowflake shipping update!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bon voyage, little snowflakes!

Today is such a special day! It's the day five precious little snowflakes will be loaded into a tank, then boarded onto a plane, and will be headed to their new home in San Antonio, Texas.

I am so excited my head is about to explode.

Please keep these embryos in your prayers. I just need them arrive safely and I pray there are no problems along the way. I will be thinking about them and worrying about them until my embryologist tells me they are here safe and sound tomorrow. I've been through this once before, and I'm sure everything will be okay. But moms worry, right?

I'm still in shock as to how quickly things picked up! I have been standing still for so long, and now I feel like I'm back in the race sprinting like a mad woman. I had no idea I'd be getting my calendar yesterday, let alone medications delivered today, and then starting injections Saturday. No complaints here! I'm very grateful and excited! My transfer is just over a month away.

I did notice that my calendar has twice as much Lupron indicated on it this time, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I have DOR and I was surpressed just fine on the amount before, so I asked my nurse to explain the increase to me. If there is no explanation and it was just something she pulled out of her hat, I'd rather do a similar protocol to last time since it worked (albeit a loss, obviously.) My RE also mentioned I will be taking baby aspirin after transfer, but I didn't see that on the calendar either. I'm waiting for the nurse to respond.

I also need to make an appointment for acupuncture since it's something my RE has suggested I do. I have been putting it off until I had a calendar because I'm not a big believer in it for FETs. I think there is some evidence that it can help poor responders for a fresh cycle, but it didn't in my case. Not only that, it was difficult and stressful to be taking time off of work work on top of all of my other RE appointments, and to fork out $85 bucks a session out of pocket. I'll do anything that might help, but I didn't find it to be a useful experience. I'll just suck it up and do it again. Id rather get a full body massage once a week because that's less stressful and more enjoyable lol. But I'm following my RE's orders!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And my transfer date is...

My transfer is scheduled for September 12th!

Here is my calendar:

All of my meds were ordered this morning and will be delivered tomorrow. I start Lupron injections on Saturday. 


My beta is scheduled for September 23rd, the day before Kevin's birthday. I am praying extra hard that it's great news and not a negative. That would be really devastating.

Estimated due date of hoped-for baby: May 31. May just might turn out to be a happy month for me after all. :)

Guesses on my transfer date

I think I may actually get my calendar today! My nurse just emailed me letting me know she's working on it right now. She told me to stay on my active birth control pills so I have a feeling I will go right onto Lupron since I've been in a holding pattern on birth control pills for so long. I'm completely speculating based on my last FET calendar, but I have a good feeling my transfer should be on or around September 9. That would give me an early June due date. I originally thought, and hoped even, that my transfer might be on my birthday (August 30) but it looks like that might be a bit too early. Oh well, it doesn't matter. It will be a wonderful birthday present knowing my transfer will be just around the corner and also knowing the embryos are already in Texas waiting for me. I have a feeling I'll be in great spirits just knowing that alone.

No matter what the date is, I'm dying to get it! I told my nurse that getting a calendar is like Christmas morning. I will post a copy of it once I get it. I can't wait, I seriously can't wait.

Two days left until these beloved snowflakes arrive in Texas. 

The empty shipping tank should be arriving at the donor lab sometime today. I find myself thinking about the tank, what it looks like, and where it's at, and what is happening to it at that exact moment. And get ready, blog readers, because I will be asking each and every one of you for all of the prayers you can muster up tomorrow as these little ones are loaded on a plane and headed for the great state of Texas. I will be worried about them en route, and pray that their guardian angels (and my mom) watch over them and keep them safe. What an exciting week!

I have also found myself constantly thinking about Libby and my immense gratitude for her selfless gift. It truly is life changing. I know there may be pieces of this process that may be difficult for her as she gives this piece of herself to someone else. But words can't adequately express how thankful I am that God led us to her. And it seems that each day that draws nearer to these beloved snowflakes' arrival, I feel my heart ready to explode. I am in love with all of these embryos and I can't wait to "meet" them. I can't wait to know they are finally here.

Great, I'm crying again. Only this time tears of gratitude and overwhelming anticipation. :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

An unusual find

Last night, I was making spaghetti sauce using Kevin's mom's famous recipe. It always tickles me to be able to use a special family recipe over one I find in a cookbook or online. I'm sentimental like that, I guess. It got me thinking about some of my mom's famous recipes that unfortunately she took with her to her grave, particularly her famous macaroni and cheese. My mom and I used to email back and forth all the time and I have email archived all the way from 2004! So on a whim, I decided to search my email to see if for some crazy reason she may have emailed the recipe to me somewhere along the way.

And.....unfortunately, I couldn't find it. 

But what I did find was a document my mom had emailed me in 2008 containing some other famous recipes my great grandma had passed down to her. She told me they were used for generations and were very, very old. How cool is that? Now, some of these I can't eat as written due to my gluten intolerance but I think it's awesome I found them just as well. And if I ever did want to make them, I could probably alter them to be gluten free one way or another.

The one that particularly excited me was the blackberry pie recipe. My mom used to talk about the fond memories she had spending summers at a lake house in Washington where she would water ski and help her grandma bake famous blackberry pies. I never even realized I had this recipe in my possession all this time. I also remember the sausage fondue recipe as something my grandma would fix every Christmas eve for us to eat on Christmas morning. I'm excited that now I'll have the opportunity for that tradition to live on with our future children. Here are a few recipes that I will share with you!

Blackberry Pie
2 crust 8” pie shell
½ - 1 c sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 c fresh berries
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Fix berries in pie shell and top with mixture of sugar cornstarch and salt.  Dot with butter.  Cover with top crust and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more.

Auntie Margaret’s Fudge
4 ½ c sugar
1 c milk
1 ½ c butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb Hershey Bars
1 jar marshmallow cream
1 c nuts
12 oz pkg chocolate chips

Combine sugar, milk and butter.  Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Add vanilla and pour over Hershey bars, marshmallows, nuts, and chocolate chips.  Stir until melted and pour into pan.  Refrigerate. 

Makes 5 lbs of fudge.


Grandma's Sausage Fondue (Christmas breakfast casserole)
8 slices bread – cubed
2 c sharp cheese
1 ½  link sausage
6 eggs
2 ½ c milk
¾ tsp dry mustard
1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ c milk

Cook sausage and cut into small pieces.  Drain well.  Into a 13x9 inch greased pan spread the bread.  Layer sausage over cheese.  Beat eggs, 2 ½ cups milk and dry mustard.  Pour over above.  Put into refrigerator and let set overnight.  The next morning, mix soup and ½ cup milk; pour over above.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 ½ hour.

And as far as these snowflakes go, the shipping tank is leaving Texas today and heading for the donor lab. It will arrive tomorrow. T minus three days until these snowflakes arrive!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Ahhh....I feel like such a weight has been lifted! Friday's news was wonderful! My spirits are high once again, and I'm full of hope. In fact, I was out shopping yesterday and managed to stop by the baby section to browse for a children's book or two. That is saying a lot! I usually avoid the baby section like the plague. It's just too hard. Along our journey, I have started a kid's book collection. The memories of my mom reading books to me are some of my most cherished. Dreaming of the day I get to have our child's sleepy little body curled up on my lap as I read to him/her makes me the most happy.

I decided to pull out the books and lay them on the floor of our empty future nursery and take a picture. I have quite a collection already!

We have a big box full of baby items that has been tucked away since my miscarriage. Here are a few of my favorites: A white fuzzy bear outfit, complete with ears and a tail. And also a tiger onesie with tiger toes and a tiger face on the bum! Thanks for the photo bomb, Nadia.

And one of my personal favorites for obvious reasons - a snowflake onesie.

All in all, being able to go upstairs and pull these items out of their box was a good measurement of my current mental status. Because usually the thought of going up there and looking at all this stuff is too painful. But right now I have hope and I'm looking forward to the next steps. I'm allowing myself to daydream and it feels good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Victory. VICTORY!

My "me" day turned out the be the most fabulous "me" day I could have asked for and it's not even 1:30pm yet.

I went to get my hair done, and while waiting under the dryer my phone rang. It was from my work number. My heart sank thinking it was someone from work needing me to do something work related on my day off. I picked it up, and instead, it was my HR rep.

HR: Sorry for calling you on your day off. Did you hears the news?
Me: What news?
HR: The insurance company overturned their denial! It's approved now! You'll get a letter in the mail.
Me: (silence. speechless. Tears forming in my eyes)
Me: Oh my gosh. Thank you!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU!  You can call me at 2am in the morning with this kind of news! WOW!
HR: Have a wonderful weekend!

Oh, I will have a wonderful weekend.

I started texting Kevin, and a couple EA friends. And no more than an hour later as I was getting my hair cut I got a call from my clinic. I hated to be "that lady" who takes a call in the stylist chair, but I knew I had to take it. It might be good news...or it might be bad news. But I had to know right away so I answered.

Embryologist: Guess what?
Me: .....WHAT?!
Embryologist: They're shipping. We have a tank going there Monday. It will arrive Tuesday. They will ship on Wednesday and be here on Thursday.
Me: Oh. MY. GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, friends. These embryos will be here Thursday! And I don't have to pay out of pocket!

I suspected I might get good news on the embryos today, but had absolutely no idea the insurance situation would be resolved today too. I had completely given up on it. And I get both of this information within one hour of each other on a day I chose to have off for me. I feel like a million bucks right now.

I started crying in the chair, and my stylist (who I was seeing for the first time, mind you) asked me what it was all about. And I decided to tell her an abridged version of our story and how important that phone call was to me. I could tell she was sincerely touched and happy for us. She said she can't wait to see me again and hear news! She didn't say anything inconsiderate or rude, like sometimes I expect from strangers. And since I was there to cut my hair to donate a wig to underprivileged children, she said "See? You donate something to others, and you get something even better donated to you in return."

Boy was she right!!! Best. Hair. Appointment. Ever.

As for my actual hair, here are some before and after pics.


Bye, hair!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tomorrow will be "me" day

I've decided to take tomorrow, Friday, off of work and enjoy some "me" time.

I plan to go get a massage, have lunch with my Dad, help him with his finances (okay maybe that's not ME time, but I love the guy and he is blind and needs the help) and I will get my hair done somewhere in the mix.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't get my hair done that often because it's a hassle, it's expensive and takes a long time. Kevin is baffled how a man can go to the corner strip-mall haircut chain and get an $8 haircut with a coupon and be done in 20 minutes. Then I go get my hair done, and about three hours later I leave approximately $200 dollars poorer. He has a point. Oh well, that's life as a female, right?

My hair is crazy long right now. And the last time I had it cut was last October! Yikes. It's getting kind of annoying since it's almost to my waist, and I wear it up most of the time. So it's time for a cut, color, and full highlight. But most importantly, I don't want this cut to fall on the floor and end up in the trash.

About seven years ago, I learned about Locks of Love. I have since donated hair to this cause and it's one of the best feelings in the world to know you are helping a financially disadvantaged child in need. If you are not familiar with this wonderful charity, check it out!

I think I'm going to do it again tomorrow. I have lots of hair to spare. I find that whenever I'm feeling down in the dumps, focusing on the needs of others helps put my problems in perspective. If I were a child fighting disease and had no hair, what would my life be like? Or what if I was a parent of a child who was going through a medical struggle and could not afford a wig? My heart breaks. I am blessed in so many ways, I really am.

I hope I can get an appointment for tomorrow since it's the only planned day off.

I'm still praying for some good news from my embryologist today. It will make my "me" time even more wonderful if I know we have an embryo ship date!