Friday, December 7, 2012

I HATE MY BODY! (It apparently hates me too)

I went in for my “WTF” appointment last month and I asked to have some blood work done to make sure I didn’t have any blood clotting problems; well sure enough I have high homocysteine levels which can causes blood clots and puts me at high risk for recurring miscarriages, stroke and heart attacks…….nice to know that NOW right!? On the plus side it is treatable and they have started me on a medication called Folgard which is a combination of folic acid, B6 and B12, it will convert homocysteine in the body into chemicals that are more usable. My doctor said along with the Folgard I will take baby aspirin and heparin shots during my next IVF cycle and if pregnancy is achieved then I will continue taking them until I deliver. I am quite irritated because I feel like this is something I should have been tested for way before all of this and my doctor even said there is a good chance I would still be pregnant had we had known about it before and taken action sooner.*sigh* I feel like pulling my hair out…..oh wait it’s already falling out from the stupid thyroid meds!!!!! I am happy that we have some answers but at the same time I am even more scared then I was before. Right now we are taking another break and we will figure out what we are going to do as we move forward.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

3rd IVF Cycle

Josh and started our 3rd IVF cycle at the beginning of October and just like the last two cycles everything started off perfectly! I responded very well to my meds and on October 10th they were able to retrieve 31 eggs, because of how many eggs they were able to get I woke up in a TON of pain (the more eggs the more times you get stabbed with a needle) everyone was so great and my doctor was very happy with the outcome.

 Out of the 31 eggs 15 were mature and 10 fertilized which was great and we had 1 good blastocyst and one good morula (the stage before becoming a blastocyst) and there were a few that were still a little behind, we transferred 2 of them which was an amazing experience because at this clinic Josh was able to be in the room with me during the transfer and they had a huge TV where we watched them put our embryos in the catheter and then it switched over to the ultrasound and we got to watch them place them.  They called us the next day and told us that none of our embryos made it to freezing. Then 2 days after my transfer they ran some labs and my progesterone and estrogen levels were super high (this is good; you need high levels to be able to hold a pregnancy). Of course like any woman going through fertility treatments I was paying attention to every little change that was happing to my body knowing that it could very well be from the meds that I was taking, but I told Josh something is just different this time I can feel it.

 We went in on the 24th for my pregnancy test and was told that they would call us in a couple of hours………well 6 HOURS LATER (they were having a problem with their phones) we get the call saying that we are pregnant but my levels were only at 13 and normally they want to see them above 70 but she assured us that this sometimes happens and women go on to have perfectly healthy babies. Two days later we went in to have our second level check (they want to make sure the pregnancy hormone is doubling every 48 hours) and our nurse called and said that my levels had dropped to 11 but she said sense there wasn’t a significant drop they were still cautiously optimistic, she also said that my thyroid levels are elevated and they need to put me on meds for it right away and it being elevated was strictly fertility induced and can cause problems getting pregnant and staying pregnant. We were super scared but we were trying to be positive.
I had taken a at home pregnancy test after my first lab test because I had never seen a positive on one before, needless to say I was so happy that a second line showed up, and even the day after my levels dropped I took another test and this time the second line was even darker so I thought my levels must be going up if it’s getting darker. The morning of my next lab test I took another home test and there wasn’t even close to being a second line, I went in for my test and my nurse called and said my levels were at 0. Even though we knew it was coming, it still felt like a knife just went straight into our hearts, it made it all too real and now we were left to figure out what happened and what we are going to do next.

Today is especially hard because it was supposed to be my 6 week ultrasound where we would get to hear the baby’s heartbeat.  I cannot tell you all the different emotions that we are feeling; it makes me feel insane sometimes!  We thought this was it because everything preventing us from getting pregnant was taken care of but now my body decided to throw in another wrench and elevate my thyroid preventing me from staying pregnant. We meet with our doctor next week and we will see what she says, I refuse to move forward with any plans to do another IVF cycle until I have had every test possible to see what could have caused this.

We have been more open about using a gestational carrier but we are still not completely ready for it and probably won’t be for a couple of years, I still very much want to carry my own baby and feel that I have been cheated out of so much that most woman get to experience, I will never be able to get pregnant without IVF and that still hurts my heart and I don’t want to miss out on feeling my child grow inside me.

I was really hoping that this would have been the end of our infertility journey so we could move on with our lives and finally be able to have a child together. But I have to suck it up get ready for more tests and start saving for our 4th IVF cycle, if you don’t see me on facebook for a while it’s probably because I ended up having to be committed ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The cause of my infertility

I have had a lot of people ask me about the cause of my infertility so I thought I would explain everything on my blog.  If things gross you out easily or if you don’t want to know the details of my messed up reproductive system then please don’t read this. Also just so this doesn’t come off wrong, I don’t mind AT ALL talking about my infertility this has been my life for 3 years now and I love helping people understand what it’s like to go through all of this because most people have no idea. 
Each month our ovaries produce hormones that cause the endometrial cells in the uterus to thicken. Our bodies remove extra endometrial cells from the uterus when you get your period, but if these cells implant and grow outside of the uterus then endometriosis occurs. 
How do endometrial cells get on the outside of the uterus?
 I have been told from a few doctors that it gets there from something called retrograde menstruation, this happens when the endometrial cells shed when you get your period and travel backwards through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis. After this happens the tissue implants (most commonly on the ovaries) and will continue to grow when you get your next period and sometimes the tissue will even bleed a little. Endometriosis typically implants on the ovaries, bowel, rectum and bladder but it can also grow in other areas of the body as well.  
There are 4 stages of endometriosis and unfortunately I am in the 4th stage which is the most severe. I have endometriosis on my ovary, pelvic wall and bowel; I would also get endometriomas (chocolate cysts) which are ovarian cysts that are filled with menstrual blood. 
I have had a few women say that they think they might have endometriosis but the only way to tell is to go to a doctor. If you have a doctor who says that you have or don’t have it just by doing a pelvic exam or just by your list of symptoms then you need to get a second opinion because there is no telling for sure if you have it or what stage you’re in without having exploratory surgery, in which if you DO have it they can remove some of your adhesions.
 I have always had painful periods which are one of the symptoms of endometriosis but when I was around 21yrs old the cramps I had were so bad that I would pass out from the pain. I went to my doctor and they did a pelvic exam and ultrasound and they said everything was fine, but about 10 months later I started having abdominal pain all of the time, so when I went to a different doctor they discovered that I had large ovarian cysts, after I had surgery to remove the cysts they told me that I had severe endometriosis. The point is that even if you have a normal pap and ultrasound they really don’t know what is going on unless they go and look. Listen to your body, if you have severe cramps during your period or a couple of weeks after your period (during ovulation), pain going to the bathroom during your period, lower back or thigh pain and last but not least pain during sex, these can all be symptoms of endometriosis.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
This is hard for me to share because some of the symptoms are VERY embarrassing!!!
 PCOS is caused by a hormone imbalance. Women with PCOS usually have irregular periods, anovulation (no ovulation); some women may have multiple cysts inside of the ovary, acne, hair thinning, facial hair growth, insulin resistance and weight gain.
I started with symptoms of PCOS around the same time I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I first  noticed that I had some facial hair but thought “well since I am Italian I knew this day was coming,” but then my hair started to thin out and I started getting acne on my back. I didn’t get anything checked until Josh and I started trying to have a baby and that’s when they discovered that I wasn’t ovulating every month and that I also had multiple cysts on my ovaries. They ran a hormone panel and saw that my hormones were not at the level that they should be and that was why everything was so out of whack, because when one hormone changes it triggers another, which changes another.  Naturally, ovaries make a small amount of androgen (male sex hormones) but when you have PCOS the ovaries start to make a little more androgens which can cause facial hair growth, acne and can causes ovulation to stop which is clearly important when you are trying to get pregnant. 
My fertility doctor in NY said that my PCOS case was unusual (go figure) because although my hormone levels were lacking in some areas, some of the other hormone levels were high compared to most women with PCOS.  The hormones that I am lacking affect my egg production so they have found that I am closer to menopause then I should be at my age.

A hydrosalpinx in fluid that is in the fallopian tube which makes it close to impossible for an egg and sperm to meet.  The fluid is also toxic so in my case I only had one fallopian tube and it was filled with the fluid, when we did our IVF cycles the fluid leaked into my uterus and made it hard for the embryos to survive. A hydrosalpinx can be drained but it will come back so the only treatment is to have the tube either tied or removed. 

Well, there you have it. If you know someone who suffers from infertility talk to them and try to understand their condition, it’s not an easy fix like a lot of people think it is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That was easy!

I am not going to lie I went into the hospital last Friday scared to DEATH! Good things usually don't happen to me during surgery and I wake up with bad news, so I was prepared for the worst. Little did I know that it would be my easiest surgery and it only took Dr. W 30 minutes to get in there with a clear path and cut my fallopian tube and get out. When I woke up I had more pain from the cath then my incisions which made me think that they put the Essure in but I was wrong!

Josh said when he saw Dr. W come out he thought "oh crap they couldn't do ANYTHING." But I guess she had a big smile on her face and said everything went perfect and she is positive about our next IVF cycle. Hearing this news even Josh had tears in his eyes (he never cries) but with how CRAZY this journey has been everything seems to finally be falling into place.
This is day 5 after my surgery and it feels like nothing was even done. To make things even better Dr. W made her incisions in my belly button and an existing scar, my belly already looks like Frankenstein but I was not happy knowing I would have a few more!

We will plan our next IVF after our BBQ fundraiser but I haven't decided if I am going to share when exactly we will do our cycle because of the stress of it all but I always share the results. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayer we love you all!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I thought it would be cool for me to share these. For a while they were hard for me to look at because all I could think of was what could have been. I know most of you don't know what you are looking at so I will explain a little. The first picture is our embryos from day 3, one was 8 cells and the other was I believe 4 or 6 cell (I can't remember). The next picture was from our second IVF attempt, these were day 5 blastocyst and these usually have 70-100 cells. Pretty crazy huh? It's weird to know this is how we all start off.

These are our day 3 embryos from our first IVF attempt. The 2 with the marks next to them are the ones that we tranferd

These are our day 5 blastocysts.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Change In Plans

Josh and I have done some research and have talked to some adoption agencies and it turns out adoption is WAY more expensive then we ever expected. For now we are putting adoption on the back burner and we will continue to see a fertility doctor and try to get pregnant.

I met with my new fertility doctor last week and she seems very nice. She believes that the reason why we are not getting pregnant is because of the fluid in my fallopian tube because it is toxic to embryos, making implantation very hard to achieve and it increases my chance of miscarriage. The only way to treat this is to close the tube or to remove the tube. Now surgery is not ideal because how much scar tissue I have and how bad my endometriosis is BUT it's our best option, once this surgery is done it will double our chances of getting pregnant with IVF because my uterus is fine and I am young. I am having a hard time with this because this will make it final that Josh and I will NEVER get pregnant on our own, even though we have a very slim chance of that happening now we still have that small percentage so to have my only tube closed is a big deal. I have decided to go ahead with the surgery because I have faith that our next IVF will work without that fluid compromising it. My doctor seems very positive, she knows my fears about having surgery but she has assured me that if she gets in there and there is too much damage she will back out and then place a device called Essure, they will go in vaginally and place the Essure in the fallopian tube which will pretty much plug it up so that the fluid will not leak into the uterus making it a safe place for a baby to grow.

IVF in Michigan is not cheap, it is a lot more expensive here than in New York. My new doctor does a multi cycle plan where you pay a certain amount (a little more than 1 IVF cycle) and you will have 3 fresh cycles and 3 frozen cycles, (fresh cycles means that they go in and retrieve the eggs, frozen means if you have embryos from your fresh cycle to freeze they will thaw them and then place them in the uterus) this will give us technically 6 chances (if we have embryos to freeze) at IVF.

This is obviously more than we can afford but because of my age it is the perfect time for us to continue with IVF (the older you get the slimmer your chances of conception are). My parents decided to host a BBQ in August for friends and family to help raise money for this treatment.

I appreciate all of the support that Josh and I get, this is very hard for the both of us but we have faith that 3 times a charm. Thanks again everyone!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Feeling Discouraged

I am feeling so very overwhelmed, adoption cost so much more than we thought. I feel like every time we finally find the strength to move forward we get set back even further then before. I have so many emotions running through me it's not even funny, I feel angry that we even have to go through this and that I have to "pay" to have a child, I feel sad that it's coming up on 3 years since we started trying and we have nothing to show for it, and I feel jealous of people with kids. I just feel like Josh and I will never have a child together and that hurts me more than anything. Okay I am done with my rant.