I’m PUPO!

As of this morning, I’m officially PUPO-Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. You really can’t make this stuff up. I’m tempted to design a line of fertility treatment inspired t-shirts emblazoned with all of the crazy terminology and acronyms you learn along the way.

Today was a GREAT day. We didn’t think Matt was going to be able to make it because he was out of town working. By some crazy miracle, he made it back in town and popped into my room with moments to spare. Doesn’t he look cute in scrubs?

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Daddy all scrubbed up and ready to go!

We waited around for a little while until the embryologist gave a final report. 8 of our embryos made it to the blastocyst stage.  We spoke with our doctor and confirmed our decision to implant the 2 best blastocysts this morning and freeze the remaining 6 for later attempts. Then he handed us our first picture of our sweet little babies, and I just about lost it.

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Babies’ First Picture!

They are the most beautiful little babies I’ve ever seen! I immediately pulled a sheet protector out of my purse to put the picture in before it got damaged. Everyone got a pretty good laugh out of that. Then it was time for the transfer. Everything went well. It was incredible to watch the embryos going into my uterus on the screen. Definitely a moment Matt and I will never forget. We even got our first ultrasound picture of the embryos inside of my uterus! That one went straight into the sheet protector too!

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The embryos are the little white area under the pointer!

Some time within the next couple of hours the embryos should hatch out of their shells and (HOPEFULLY) implant in my uterus. I am on strict bed rest for the next 48 hours while these 2 little babies do their thing. I’m already giving them pep talks and telling them to make themselves at home. They better listen to their Mama! On June 15th, I’ll get a blood test that will tell us whether they have decided to stick around.

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With any luck, we can repeat this picture in 37 weeks with 2 little bundles of joy in our arms. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers! All of your love and support has touched my heart in ways you can’t even imagine. Please continue to pray that our embryos will implant and develop into healthy babies! Have a great weekend, y’all! 🙂

A Week of Lasts

Tomorrow morning at 8a.m. two of our beautiful little embryos will be transferred into my uterus. If those lil guys get in there, hunker down and make themselves at home, I will be 3 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow. Insanity! Then, of course, there’s a chance that they won’t and I won’t become pregnant at all. Either way, I won’t know how it plays out until my blood test in 12 days. With that being said, I have to act as though I’m pregnant as soon as the embryos are transferred in the morning.

That got me thinking. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the last time I would do some of my favorite things for a while. I know I might only be giving up these things for 12 days if I get a negative on June 14th; however, there’s a 50-75% chance I won’t be doing these things again until late February after I give birth. Some of you will think I’m crazy. I’m sure many of you already do anyway. And you’re right, I am. Some of you will think this is overly optimistic. Those of you who are superstitious might even think it’s back luck. I choose positivity. I believe a large part of the outcome is based on the outlook. So, I choose to believe that this WILL work, that I WILL be 3 weeks pregnant tomorrow and that I won’t be indulging in any of these things ’til late February. So, here is my week of lasts:

  • Monday I didn’t celebrate any “lasts” because I was still recovering from the retrieval surgery the day before.
  • Tuesday, I celebrated my last alcoholic beverage. My favorite drink of all is white sangria from the Mexican restaurant by our house, so I knew that had to be my last drink. I could only have 1 because I’m on antibiotics and steroids to prevent my body from rejecting the embryos. That was a little tough, but it sure was delicious!
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My last alcoholic beverage

  • Wednesday, I got my hair highlighted for the last time. My doctor doesn’t allow you to color your hair during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so I had to make sure to get this one in! Thanks to Keri Wisler for fitting me in very last minute.
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My last highlight

  • Tuesday night I remembered that my second favorite alcoholic beverage is Sweet Riesling, so I had another “last drink.” Whoopsie! I am a New Orleans girl, after all.
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My other last alcoholic beverage

  • This morning was the toughest “last” of all…my LAST cup of espresso. If you know me well, you know that I basically can’t be addressed in the morning until I’ve had a cup of espresso. Coffee is my addiction. I had my first cup of Starbucks when I was 16, and I haven’t started a morning without espresso since. Back in 2009, I decided to give up coffee for Lent. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Starbucks by my house went out of business that year on Good Friday. My husband had to get an espresso machine for our house just so we could save some money. It’s that bad. I savored every drop this morning, and I know this is the thing I will miss the most!!
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My last espresso 😦

Now I know what some of you are thinking. It’s OK to have an occasional glass of wine and a daily cup of coffee when you’re pregnant. Some people highlight their hair in the first trimester too. Well, if I am lucky enough to get a positive test on June 14th, I am going to be one of those stick-in-the-mud pregnant women who plays it safe at every turn. I know, I know. I shouldn’t drive myself crazy, lots of people are going to think that’s annoying, it’s impossible to prevent some things and I can’t live in a hole. After all we have been through, though,  I will be the most fiercely protective Mama Hen you’ve ever seen. My greatest desire is for Matt and I to hold our child in our arms, and I won’t let anything get in our way. Please try to understand.

As always, thank you for the prayers and the love. There are no adequate words to express my gratitude to each and every one of you. Please continue to pray that the transfer will go well.

Can y’all think of any more “lasts” I need to squeeze in before morning comes? 🙂

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!

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.