Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#StartAsking


It's National Infertility Awareness Week.  One in eight couples struggle with infertility.
That's 7.6 million people.

I guarantee you know someone (and probably lots of someones) who struggles with infertility.  It's a silent epidemic that most choose to struggle with privately.  I've chosen to share my journey, not for sympathy and certainly not for pity, but to let those struggling privately know that they're not alone.

The theme this year for NIAW is Start Asking.  The goal is to encourage couples struggling to conceive to advocate for themselves in the doctor's office (something I'll be posting on later), for friends and family to start asking how they can support their infertile loved ones, for everyone to start asking our insurance companies and government officials why this financially devastating diagnosis of infertility isn't supported financially.

As I was reading blogs and Twitter posts and watching videos about NIAW, I couldn't help but think about where Michael and I have been this past year.  It has, hands down, been one of the most difficult years of my life.

This time last year we were just getting ready to discover Dr. Schoolcraft and his amazing team at CCRM.  We would soon be heading to Lone Tree, CO for the first of many visits.

This past year we experienced a lot of firsts:

My first time drawing up meds
My first experience with daily injections and the bruising that follows
My first 3am wakeup for a trigger shot
My first retrieval and the subsequent loss of embryos
My first transfer and seeing in person our beautiful babies as embryos waiting for my womb
We heard for the very first time the words "You're pregnant."  

We also felt for the first time the pain of losing our sweet babies.  The pain of that experience has dulled slightly, but I still cry and grieve their loss.  Our counselor said in passing last week something about "our girls", and my heart caught in my throat.  

Our girls.  

I can't think that sentence, I can't type that sentence, without tears streaming.

In this last year, Michael and I have grown closer.  We've had to really work on our marriage as this journey has challenged us spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  

These are burdens no one should have to bear alone.  That's why National Infertility Awareness Week is so important.  There are people you love who have never seen two pink lines, who have gone into stupid debt to conceive, who have lost babies and continue to grieve, who don't know what to do next.  You should know who those people are in  your life and love them.  Support them.  Be there to listen to them and not to judge them.  

This isn't a journey anyone should face alone.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Take 2

We have successfully completed our 2nd IVF retrieval.  Let me get the stats out of the way.

First Retrieval:
*Retrieved 8 eggs
*6 eggs were mature
*4 eggs fertilized
*3 embryos grew out to blastocyst
*2 embryos were chromosomally normal

Second Retrieval:
We participated in a study during this cycle and took acai berry pills for 3 months with the goal being to increase the number of eggs we were able to retrieve by about 30%.
*Retrieved 11 eggs
*7 eggs were mature at retrieval, 2 more eggs matured over night (BTW....I had no idea that was even a possibility)
*5 eggs fertilized

We are still waiting to know how many embryos grow out to blastocyst.  We are also going to do a third retrieval in the next couple of months and will send all of our blasts to the chromosomal testing at once, so we still have a lot of waiting to do.

So those are the stats.  The acai berries seemed to fulfill expectations and produced, at least to this point, 30% more eggs and almost 30% more embryos.  Apparently I should have done the math ahead of time, though, because we only have 1 more embryo at this point in the cycle than we did last time.....I was hoping for and expecting more.

Our goal is that after these two retrievals we will have a decent number (maybe 6?) of embryos that we can choose from for our transfer.

Thankfully, our trips to Colorado get to be more than ultrasounds, bloodwork and injections....although that is a lot of what goes on while we're there.  We have THE BEST IVF nurse anyone could possibly ask for.  She is beyond amazing.  She's real with me, helps me laugh through the hard times and puts up with my crazy.  That in and of itself qualifies her for some kind of medal of honor.  We were so thrilled to be able to catch up with Cindy, her hubby and their two dogs while we were in Colorado.  They introduced us to this awesome dog park inside of Chatfield State Park.  The dog park is 69 acres with two ponds and walking trails.  Bear was in doggy heaven!  And if I'm honest, Michael and I had just as much fun there as he did.  We actually went every day we were there!

Look at how much fun he had!
video

Bear spent his evenings sleeping.  Chatfield wore him out!

We found another trail close by and tried to get a family picture.  Bear wasn't super cooperative. We went to Chatfield after our 2 mile walk and let Bear do some more playing there.

Everyone was tired after getting up super early for our retrieval...

Side note....isn't this the cutest shirt?!  A friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday.  She, too, struggled with infertility.  If you can identify at least 4 of the 5 acronyms....you've probably walked the infertility path.  I wore it the day of my retrieval, and it was perfect!

And that was basically our trip.  When Bear wasn't sleeping, he had his head on our shoulders or in between us on the console.  He's such a sweet boy!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

An Update

Things have been pretty boring until recently on the fertility side of life, but incredibly nutso when it comes to everything else going on!  Here are a few of the highlights:

1.  We got a dog.  I introduced him to the blog world a while ago, but that boy has grown so quickly!  He's a Great Dane, so I shouldn't be surprised.  And he's freaking adorable.


2.  Work has been nuts!  I have the privilege of being part of what will hopefully be our school district's model elementary school, but with this transition comes a lot of work.  We will be 1:1 with devices, implementing a STEM curriculum, doing lots of remodeling in the building, experimenting with flexible seating within classrooms and experiencing a large amount of restaffing.  I've basically been working two jobs in one since January.

3.  Michael's business is getting closer and closer to being ready to take off!  That man has poured two years worth of blood, sweat and tears into that business, and we are beyond ready for it to be a go!  In the midst of everything else, I'm learning how to sew binding using an industrial sewing machine.  I thought I'd be better at it than I am, and I hate being the hold up for Michael to move forward with the business!

4.  Waiting to start our next IVF cycle has been so great, but the waiting was about to do me in.  We really needed some time off from everything after losing our pregnancy in December.  But, man, I'm ready to get moving again!  We actually just got back from Colorado, and I'll be sharing the latest IVF news soon.  In the mean time, isn't Bear so stinking adorable?!  He is such a great traveler and slept the entire way there and back!