Day 3 Embryo Update

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We got our day 3 embryo update today, and all 16 little Pipplets are still growing! I just can’t believe it. Our lil guys and girls should be between 4 and 8 cells today. Shockingly, they are all between 8 and 12 cells. They are really ahead of the game. Way to make Mama proud! The embryologist also assigns a grade to each embryo on day 3. 4 is the best grade and 1 is the worst. All of our embryos received grades between 2 and 4. Wow! God has been so good to us ONCE AGAIN! I just can’t say it enough.

To add to the good news, I have somehow escaped the nasty monster that is OHSS (hooray!) so my transfer is officially scheduled for Friday at 8a.m. It feels like the past year has been a lesson in Murphy’s law regarding my treatments. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But now that we have finally reached the last frontier in fertility treatments, things seem to be lining up just perfectly. I feel confident that this is our time!

We will not get any more updates until I arrive for my transfer on Friday. At that time, they will tell us how many embryos are still growing and what their grades are. We are going to choose the best 2 embryos and transfer them into my uterus at that time. It’s crazy to think that by this time Friday I could be 3 weeks pregnant (possibly even with twins!).

My doctor is putting me on 48 hours of strict bed rest after the transfer and I will only be allowed to get up to use the potty. With that being said, I am running around like an absolute maniac trying to get everything done before Friday. Thank you for the prayers! Please keep them coming! Have a wonderful rest of the week! 🙂

Fertilization report

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God has been so good to us once again! I woke up this morning with incredibly sore ovaries and pretty strong cramps, but the pain is definitely manageable. Whatever the anesthesiologist put in my IV yesterday to cure my headache and nausea has kept it away indefinitely. She is an angel!

I am now taking daily progesterone shots in the muscle to plump up my uterus and prepare ideal living conditions for the babies we will (hopefully) be transferring on Friday. These are the first shots I’m not allowed to give myself. I had to place a lot of trust in my husband this morning while he jabbed me in my backside with a giant needle I couldn’t even see. Shockingly, it didn’t really hurt at all. The progesterone is in oil form though, so the nurse said that by tomorrow I will feel like I got punched in the booty. He has to massage the cheek for a minute after he gives the shot to spread out the oil. It’s quite romantic. Although we have known each other for 12 years, our relationship has soared to new heights of comfortability during this process.

After the shot, we anxiously awaited the call with with the fertilization report. The doctor told us he felt confident that we would not do any better than 50% fertilization because of all of my conditions. The phone rang and I took a deep breath and told Matt to mute the Sportsman’s channel. I’m pretty tired of hearing people whisper to each other in deer stands anyway.

The nurse was on the other end of the phone. First she wanted to go through all of my symptoms and chit chat. I tried to be polite, but I was dying inside. Then she hit me with it.

They harvested 22 eggs yesterday. My doctor said he believed between 13 and 15 were mature. As it turns out, the embryologist confirmed that NINETEEN were mature!!!! AMAZING!

Then she hit me with the miracle of the century. SIXTEEN of those nineteen eggs fertilized and turned into embryos. That is 84%, ladies and gentlemen (I don’t think too many of those ready this blog :)). SIXTEEN little Pipplets (Thanks to Ali Solino for coining that term) are growing in the lab right now.

I just can’t believe it. I am overwhelmed, emotional, grateful, etc. I am trying to allow myself to feel all of these emotions. I’m so cautious to get excited, because I know we still have a long way to go. It is inevitable that many of these embryos will stop growing before Friday. The doctor says he thinks we will be lucky if 30% of these little guys and gals survive until transfer day. That would leave us with 4 embryos if we’re lucky, but our little babies have already defied statistics once and they’re only 1 day old.

Because I believe that life begins at conception, I’m rejoicing in the fact that we have 16 little babies growing. This is farther than we have EVER gotten before, and that’s certainly something to smile about. They will not call us with another update until Wednesday morning. I have to find a way to occupy my mind until then. I know it’s all in God’s hands now, and I trust that it will play out according to His will. We’ve put in the work and the hard part is over with. Now I just keep repeating a phrase I took away from 19 years of Catholic school: “Let go and let God.”

It’s still super early, but I haven’t developed any symptoms of OHSS yet. Let’s hope this continues. If all goes well, I could be pregnant by Friday. WOW!!!! Let’s let that sink in for a little bit.

Once again, I want to humbly thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. Your prayers have uplifted me along this journey, and it’s obvious that God is listening. Keep them coming! We are really in the home stretch now.

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NOTE: THIS IS NOT A PICTURE OF OUR EMBRYO. We will get pictures of our embryos Friday. However, this is a picture of what our embryos look like this morning. The slightly smaller inner circle would be the 23 chromosomes I contributed to the embryo, and the slightly larger inner circle would be the 23 chromosomes Matt contributed to the embryo. Within the next 3 hours, the 2 circles will come together and join chromosomes, forming one nucleus of 46 chromosomes. It will look like this:

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By 2p.m., each embryo will already have his or her own DNA. How amazing is that? I actually cried when I looked at this picture this morning. I’d like to blame it on the hormones, but I’m just THAT happy to know our babies have made it to this stage. I’ll update y’all on Wednesday when I know more. Until then, I’m off to fill up on Gatorade and V8.

Grow little Pipplets, grow!

Mama Hen Laid Her Eggs

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This is going to be a super quick update. This Mama Hen just laid all of her eggs. I’m fresh out of egg retrieval surgery. The doctor retrieved 22 eggs, 13-15 of which he believes are mature. He was also able to drain my 30mm cyst while he was in there, so that was an added bonus!

He is is still very concerned about me developing OHSS, so he has instructed me to take an antihistamine called Chlor-Trimeton. I also have to drink 4 8oz. glasses of V8 every day and lots of Gatorade.

The embryologist will call us tomorrow morning to let us know how many eggs fertilized. Praying for good news there!

They are going to monitor my symptoms daily and decide on Thursday whether I can transfer the embryos back in on Friday or if I have to wait a month for my body to get healthy. Praying for good news there also!

I plan to spend the rest of the day resting. The anesthesiologist put some magical potion in my IV to cure my 9 day long migraine and curb my nausea. Best of all, I got a steady dose of Propofol (AKA Michael Jackson sleeping medicine), which still has me groggy.

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This is my hubby wheeling me out to go home. May the embryos be ever in our favor! 🙂

It’s Trigger Time!

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I went to the doctor again this morning. I pretty much live there now. If they would just let me post up in the corner on a cot it would be a whole lot easier.

Everything looks great today. Lots of mature follicles! Also of note, my uterine lining was 10mm thick. It has never been 10mm in my life. When I first started going to the fertility specialist, he told me that my uterine lining was so thin that I would not be able to sustain a pregnancy even if I miraculously got pregnant on my own. It was 4mm back in those days. They assign a grade to your lining at each ultrasound. It always bothered me that I got terrible grades. I felt like I was getting a bad report card on something I had no control over. It was just one more blow to remind me that my body was quite literally failing me every step of the way. Well, not anymore. Today this girl got an A. I wonder if Wendy’s still gives out frosties for good report cards. Anyone know?

Because of all of this great news, I can stop taking the injections (Alllllllelluia!!!) and take the trigger shot tonight at 7:30p.m. The trigger shot causes your body to ovulate exactly 36 hours after it is given. Just in case you’re as terrible at math as I am, that means ovulation will occur at 7:30 Sunday morning when the doctor will put me under anesthesia and go in to surgically remove the eggs.

My estrogen level was 2478 today, which is in an OK range. They still believe I have at least a 35% chance of developing OHSS after retrieval though, which would prevent transfer. When they aspirate the follicles to remove the eggs, the sacs will fill up with all the fluid in my body. For this reason, they want me to drink strictly Gatorade and V8 and eat anything and everything salty from this point forward. The salt will soak up some of the fluid in my body and prevent it from entering the sacs.

It has been a difficult road, but I actually can’t believe we’re already here. By this time Sunday we will have little embryos growing in a lab. That’s pretty crazy to wrap my head around. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your prayers. We couldn’t have gotten this far without each and every one of you. Please keep them coming and have a wonderful weekend!

I love a good sign!

If you haven’t read my post from this morning, read that first or this won’t make sense.

I’ve been praying all day for a sign that we are making the right decision. I’ve been asking God, “Please let me know whether we should limit the number of eggs we fertilize or listen to the doctor’s advice for our best outcome.”

I just finally got around to checking my daily e-mail from Joel Osteen a few minutes ago. I almost fell down when I read today’s prayer.

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It actually says, “take off the limits and embrace the dreams You’ve placed in my heart.” It is almost telling me word for word not to limit the number of eggs we fertilize and to do what will be in the best interest of the dreams God has placed in my heart.

I can’t say I’ve ever gotten a clearer sign in my life. 🙏

Plot Twist

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OK, good news first. I had 40, count them 40, follicles show up on ultrasound today. Many of them are already mature, so egg retrieval surgery is scheduled for this Sunday. Phew!! I am so miserable. I have spent the entire day dry heaving, and every time I take a step my ovaries bounce up and down like beach balls. I’m also on day 7 of the migraine from hell, which is worsening by the moment. I am in a state of discomfort I can’t even explain. I told my doctor to GET THESE OUT OF ME. He just laughed and told me he will take them out on Sunday.

Now for the bad news. Based on the fact that I now have 40 eggs, the doctor diagnosed me with PCOS this morning. In case you are keeping track, I now have Stage IV Endometriosis, a history of OHSS, escalated hormone levels, a hostile environment and PCOS. Based on the combination of all of these elements, my doctor firmly believes the quality of many of my eggs will be very poor.

Things are starting to make a little more sense now. Poor egg quality may be the reason I didn’t get pregnant with my last IUI when I had 9 eggs. That being said, he thinks my odds of success are now slim to none if I limit fertilization.

If you’ve been reading since the beginning, you know that my husband and I are not comfortable having any embryos left over because we believe life begins at conception. For this reason, we were only going to allow him to fertilize 3 eggs. Originally, he said we were looking at a 2 out of 3 fertilization rate, which would leave us with 2 fertilized eggs. Of those 2 eggs, he said statistically 50% would grow into usable embryos. Worst case scenario, this would leave us with 1 embryo to implant. Best case scenario, we would be thrilled with triplets.

That has been our plan all along. But once again, when we make a plan God laughs. Armed with the knowledge of this new diagnosis, my doctor is convinced that if we limit fertilization we will end up with NOTHING. We simply can’t bear the thought of going through all of this and wiping out our savings and not even ending up with 1 embryo to attempt pregnancy with.

He feels that if we allow him to fertilize all 24 mature eggs, we will be lucky to end up with 3 to 4 embryos at most. This would be perfect. It will probably take 3 to 4 embryos to eventually end up with our ideal family, as not all embryos turn into successful pregnancies.

On the flip side, there’s always the possibility that things will go better than expected and we will still have embryos left over after our family is complete. We were originally uncomfortable with donation but have changed our minds. After going through this process, we truly feel that any couple who wants a baby as much as we do deserves a chance to have one. If God blesses us with more embryos than we need, He must have plans for those embryos.

So we have decided to go big or go home. I know some of you might have mixed feelings about our decision. It might seem like we are abandoning the beliefs I pledged to stay so true to at the beginning of all of this. I have struggled with it myself. I honestly feel, though, that we aren’t abandoning our beliefs. No embryos will be destroyed or left frozen indefinitely. The only thing that changes is that if we are lucky enough, we will be able to bless a childless couple with a chance to fulfill their dream.

We do have one stipulation. We would send leftover embryos to another state across the country to be donated. For those of you who aren’t from New Orleans, let me start out by saying it is the smallest big city in the world. No one ever leaves, everyone is interconnected and there are MAX 2 degrees of separation from any stranger you meet on the street. If we donate the embryos at our local clinic, we worry that our kids could end up in the same high school class as their biological brothers or sisters, or even worse, date them! I also don’t want to run the risk of going to Target and seeing a baby that looks just like mine and constantly wondering. So it’s best if we send them out of state. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a crazy person who over thinks every situation and plays out all the scenarios in my head. Pray for Matt 🙂

All kidding aside, please pray for us in the home stretch of this journey. My estrogen level continues to rise and the doctor is still concerned about the possibility of OHSS. He said he will not decide until 4 days after retrieval if we will be able to transfer the embryos back into me on the 5th day or freeze them until my body gets back to normal. There are so many balls up in the air and I’m just hoping we can keep them all up long enough and make the right decisions. Luckily, I know God is guiding us every step of the way, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

And Then There Were 32

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Yep, you read that right. The ultrasound this morning revealed that 10 additional follicles have developed since yesterday. This mama hen is now growing 32 eggs in her big ole belly. Almost 3 dozen.  I’m still trying to let that one sink in. For those who are interested, the updated follicle sizes are as follows:

Right Ovary: 15, 14, 13, 13, 11, 11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7

Left Ovary: 13, 12, 12, 11, 11, 11, 10, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7

I think it’s safe to say things are moving along quite nicely. Blood work revealed that my luteinizing hormone (LH) has started to surge, which means my body is trying to ovulate. We don’t want that to happen until the doctor is ready to go in for retrieval, so I am adding in another injection tonight called Ganirelix, which will prevent ovulation.

The blood work also revealed that my estrogen level is rising very quickly. It was 38 last Thursday, 761 yesterday and 1095 today. This is a little bit concerning. If it keeps rising this quickly, we are going to be entertaining the possibility of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I have already dealt with OHSS once before, so I am worried I will develop it again.

If my estrogen rises to 4,000 my doctor will not be able to transfer the embryos back into me right away. He will have to freeze the embryos and wait for my levels to come down then do a frozen embryo transfer cycle. While it wouldn’t be the end of the world, it would be pretty devastating after all of this. That being said, if my estrogen peaks in the 3000s, it wouldn’t be dangerous to proceed but would be INCREDIBLY uncomfortable for several weeks. The doctor said he would leave it up to me at that point whether I could endure the discomfort or would prefer to freeze the embryos and wait a few months. If that is the case, I will absolutely, without a doubt, power through. I am willing to do just about anything to make this a reality as long as it doesn’t pose any harm to me or my future children.

Hopefully I just gave you all of those scenarios for no reason and we can keep my estrogen level below 3,000. Only time will tell. The nurse said we are still in an OK range and it isn’t time to worry yet. I guess I’ll have to work on that.

My mind was going in a million different directions this morning playing out every possible scenario. Then I opened up my e-mail. A few months back I signed up for e-mails from Joel Osteen. Sometimes the daily message is so fitting that I just can’t believe it. Today it said, “There is no obstacle that can stop you. There is no disadvantage that can hold you back! You’re in the palm of God’s hand, and He has equipped and empowered you for everything. When God is on your side, He sets the right people in your path. In fact, He’s already released favor into your future. He’s planning for you to come into new seasons of increase. He has a plan for victory. Let that sink into your heart today. Begin to expect His favor. Expect him to work in your life. Focus on the fact that God has equipped you. He has anointed you. Your best days are still out in front of you! If God is for you, no one case rise against you! Meditate on this promise so you can walk in the favor and victory God has in store for you!”

Wow! Is that on point or what? That was exactly what I needed to hear today. God has equipped me with 32 eggs, the ability to explore this option and a brilliant doctor to lead the way. He has empowered me with everything I need and no obstacle can get in my way. Not even a scary estrogen level. I need to expect His favor so I can walk in the victory He has in store for me.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed, called, texted, messaged, or reached out in some way throughout this journey. If you’re praying for us, please pray that this estrogen level stays below 3,000. When you go through hard times, one of the single most comforting things in the world is the knowledge that people are praying for you. People are taking a moment out of their busy day to focus their energy and their prayers on you. That’s huge! There’s no way I could ever accurately convey my gratitude to each of you.

I return to the doctor tomorrow morning for another ultrasound and more blood work. They will retrieve the eggs as soon as the lead follicle gets between 18 and 20mm. It is currently at 15. It looks like retrieval will probably occur Sunday or Monday. I’ll keep y’all posted. Now back to growing these eggs… 🙂

Mama Hen

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This is what I look like 5 months pregnant. Oh wait, no. I meant to say this is what I look like after 5 days of injections. I woke up this morning and I was HUGE. I mean HUGE. None of my clothes fit properly. I was feeling pretty gross and bad about myself on the way to my doctor’s appointment until JT came on the radio and told me I was bringing sexy back. Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty much the biggest Justin Timberlake fan in the world. Any time he comes on the radio I know it’s going to be a good day.

Anyway, I digress. I went in for blood work and an ultrasound. Over the weekend I had horrible pain on the left side and couldn’t stop vomiting, so I was all but certain the cyst on the left side had ruptured. The ultrasound confirmed that it had. Good news! The cyst on the right side was still there, but it shrank 3mm. More good news!

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Then it was time for the big moment…the follicle count. It turns out that I have TWENTY TWO eggs growing in there. No wonder I am so swollen! For those who are interested, the follicle sizes are as follows:

Right Ovary: 12, 11, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 9, 9, 6

Left Ovary: 13, 12, 10, 10, 9, 9, 9, 9, 7, 6

It is absolutely amazing that I have this much growth on Day 5. God is so, so, so good! As of now, they are projecting my egg retrieval to occur some time before next Tuesday. It’s pretty crazy to think I have grown as many eggs in 5 days as the average woman grows in 2 years. It’s also crazy that a girl who doesn’t ovulate at all on her on own can pump out 22 follicles with a little help. Modern medicine is nothing short of amazing.

I go back to the doctor tomorrow morning to see how I’m progressing. Until then, I’ll just be over here growing eggs like a mama hen. Have a great night, y’all!

My nurse

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The past few days have been pretty difficult with all of the lovely side effects, but at least I have a cute nurse! I think he’s secretly enjoying this. I’ll write a full update after my ultrasound and blood work tomorrow. 😄

The Lucille Ball of Fertility Injections

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Last night was the big night…the night I had to give myself the first set of stimulation injections. It played out like an episode of I Love Lucy. Math and science were my worst subjects in school, so I am a little challenged when it comes to mixing up solutions and injecting them into myself.

I sat down with all of my supplies and 2 pages of typed instructions and tried my best to follow along. I worked with all the concentration of a high school senior taking a standardized test but just couldn’t seem to get it right. When I combined the two vials of Menopur, I was supposed to end up with 1mL. I drew the syringe back and only got 0.8mL. Then, when I combined the Menopur and Follistim, I was supposed to end up with 1.2mL but ended up with 1mL instead.

I was frantically reading the instructions and facetiming my husband to see where I went wrong. I was visiting my mom’s house during this entire ordeal. That’s when her dog decided it would be a good time to get busy with my small dog. He was wrestling her on the floor and she was howling like a wolf. Not to be outdone, my 70 pound Lab decided to flip her water bowl up in the air with her nose and covered the entire floor in about a gallon of water. I put down the shot supplies and went to fetch some paper towels to clean up the mess. As soon as I stood up, I slipped on the water and went flying across the kitchen on my booty.

All I could do was laugh at that point. I tried to draw up the shot again and still ended up a little short on the amount. I had no choice but to give myself the shot, but I continued to stress for about an hour. What if I did it wrong? What if this messes everything up? What if I have done everything right to get to this point only to jeopardize it all over 0.2mL of missing fluid? This is such a high stress process that you have this overwhelming burden of screwing it all up every step along the way.

Just then, Aimee from the Maybe Baby blog texted me to see how I was doing.  I had a little bit of a meltdown on her and she reassured me that it’s very common for Menopur to draw up a little short. Phew! She really saved the day! Aimee and I found each other through our blogs and recently exchanged numbers. We are on the same day of our IVF cycles and thought it would be neat to compare notes as we went along. Ironically she texted me at the exact moment I needed to talk to someone who understood what I was going through.

I have a great family. The problem is, they just can’t relate sometimes. Luckily, I have built a strong network of incredible women with similar journeys throughout this process. It’s absolutely crazy how immediately you can connect with a complete stranger because they are going through the same thing. God puts the right people in your life at the exact moment you need them, and that’s just one more thing to be thankful for! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. This is the only kind of cocktail I’ll be mixing up:

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Wish me better luck on my second attempt tonight! 🙂