Our precious boys...

Our precious boys...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

FROZEN EMBRYO TRANSFER

As you may have read from my previous blog post, I was feeling overwhelmed and decided to step back a bit from my blog in January. It is hard to believe that my last blog post was over 3 months ago! But now it is time for an update. And I will tell you more of the reason I wanted to be a little more stress free...

We've had a lot going on between day to day life, volunteering, working, etc., but the biggest thing is that we have been trying to grow our family. :) In May of 2012, when the twins were about 20 months old, we started trying for another baby. But after over 6 months of no success, we felt it was time to go back to the Mayo Clinic to start the IVF (In-Vitro) process again. Although this time it would be a FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) since we had 8 frozen embryos in storage.

Those four months (Nov 2012 - Feb 2013) were full of questions and decisions, sadness and disappointments, but also happiness, faith and hope. It was interesting to right in the infertility world again. I stepped back into that uncertainty and sadness. And just like that, I was immediately pumped full of hormones and medications again. All I could think was, "Here we go again!" Although many feelings came rushing back, it was definitely different this time. As apprehensive as I was to go through this process again and not knowing if we would become pregnant, I was able to focus on my two little miracles that I do have. Because this time I knew that technically, I could get pregnant, and I am able to have children. Whereas, the first time, we had no idea if I would ever be able to bear a child.

Here is photo proof of my many medications and needles...(Luprolide, Estradiol, Progesterone Suppositories, Progesterone Capsules, and Necon)

Some fertility medications have to come from Specialty Pharmacies. My Luprolide kits were shipped all the way from Texas!



Collection of my used needles...



This was the most expensive medication for this round. I will spare you from the details of the cost, but I took a photo of it next to the quarter so you can see how tiny of an amount it is. And the bottle only comes half full of medication! (You can see the line about half way up the bottle. That was the full amount.)



So, after four months including 6 trips to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for appointments (with RE's (Reproductive Endocrinologists), nurses, and ultrasound techs), 33 vaginal suppositories, 3 blood draws, 2 vaginal ultrasounds, giving myself 31 shots, and taking 177 pills, - on February 14, (Valentine's Day) we did a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) at the Department of Reproductive Endocrinology and they transferred one strong, healthy embryo into my uterus.

Here we are relaxing after I had some valium before our transfer...hoping and praying for a baby to grow, grow, grow!



And here I am waiting in the hospital room to be wheeled down to the Operating Room!



This photo was while we were waiting in Pre-Op. As you can clearly see, it was a super romantic Valentine's Day for us! We really know how to dress fancy for such a special occasion. :)



All ready to go! Let's make a baby already!



My handsome husband in his fancy scrubs.



We got in trouble from a nurse after taking this photo because apparently cameras aren't allowed in pre-op. Oops! We probably wouldn't have been busted, but we were laughing so loud taking these pics, I think they knew what we were up too. Or I guess it was probably the flash that gave it away! Some people just don't know how to have fun. Don't they know this was like our foreplay? :)(Sorry, I know, too much information...ha!)

The transfer went well except for my bladder issue. You need a full bladder for the procedure, but apparently, my bladder was TOO full. You aren't able to urinate after being admitted into the hospital. And your procedure isn't right away as there is a lot of waiting even before you get to pre-op to wait again. Keep in mind I hadn't peed in about 4 hours.Oh my! Therefore, the entire procedure was quite painful. The pressure on my bladder was almost too much to bear. I was able to hold it for the transfer, but then had to use a bed pan, right there while laying down in the operating room immediately after the doctors were finished. (This is because you have to lay flat on bedrest for one hour after the transfer. So I wasn't able to get up to use the bathroom.) Ughh...I felt so stupid. But I have never felt such relief after urinating before. (again...too much information...sorry!)

I'm glad I made it through, but was disappointed that it wasn't the sweet and touching "watch the embryo on the ultrasound screen being inserted into my uterus" special moment. Instead I was gripping Nick's hand so hard and trying to take deep breaths while focusing on not peeing right there all over the doctor. Through my gritted teeth, I asked the resident doctor, "Are you sure I'm not peeing, because I feel like I'm peeing right now." I truly was so sure I was letting it all out right there. What a weird feeling. But He said no and although he then reassured me that it has happened to him before, I certainly didn't want to be the one to pee on him again. I glanced at the monitor, but honestly didn't even see the embryo pop out of the catheter! It was definitely different than our first IVF, as I vividly remember seeing the two little embryos pop out and float around! So special...so incredible to witness. This time I wasn't even sure they had put an embryo in me. Oh well, it was done and I could finally pee. I was happy.

One other funny moment was that when the embryologist entered, my main doctor said, "And here are your embryos." I said, "EMBRYOS!?!?" And he replied, "Oh, I mean embryo." We joked that yes, it better just be one! (We had decided to transfer only one embryo. More details are a few paragraphs down.)

While waiting on bedrest, I joked and imagined how fun it was going to be to tell people that I got pregnant from a man who wasn't my husband on Valentine's Day, while a room full of other men and women AND my husband watched! :)

We prayed and prayed for our miracle. We were full of such hope and faith that our special little Valentine's embryo would survive and grow into a strong and healthy baby.

And so the 2 week wait began.

Soon after the transfer, we got the call that our second embryo didn't survive the thaw and that it would be unable to be refrozen for future use. For this transfer, we had decided to thaw two embryos and transfer the best one, with the hopes of refreezing the other embryo to keep for the future. We honestly were not ready to take the chance to have twins again. We wanted to try for a singleton. And obviously using two embryos would increase the chance for twins. We were pretty confident that if two embryos were put in, two babies would come out. Just as we had experienced the first time. So, thaw two, transfer the best one it was. The embryologist grew the second embryo out for a few more days, but unfortunately, it did not survive to the blastocyst stage. Therefore, they were unable to re-freeze it. This meant we now had 6 frozen embryos remaining. I was sad and cried after hearing that news. You really do grow attached to these little embryos that could be your future children! And now we had one less. One less chance for a baby than we had before.

Unfortunately, a few days before the transfer, the twins got colds. And of course, it was passed on to me. But mine turned into a horrible sinus infection that I had during the entire time while I was waiting to find out if I was pregnant. I had to pretend I was pregnant, even though we didn't know if I was. Therefore, I couldn't take any medication and had to suffer through it. I had never had a sinus infection before. And wow, the pain was unbearable. It felt as if every tooth in my mouth needed to be pulled. It ached and ached and there was nothing I could do. I did try taking Tylenol, but it didn't help at all. Most nights, it was difficult to sleep and I woke up often. One night the pain was so intense, I barely slept all night long. The pain finally subsided around 8am and I was able to fall asleep and stay sleeping for a few hours. Thankfully that was a Saturday, so Nick was home and able to watch the twins. For a little over those 2 weeks, I couldn’t smell or taste. And during most of that time, it hurt to even open my mouth or chew food. It is hard to describe, but the pain in my mouth was so horrible. I couldn't believe the timing of all of this as I am rarely ever sick. I worried that this would affect my body trying to become pregnant.

Needless to say, the “2 week wait” was hard. Hard because I was so sick and hard because I couldn't even enjoy food since it hurt so much to even open my mouth, yet alone chew. But even harder because I was given restrictions to not lift more than 25 pounds, which meant I couldn’t lift my twins. They quickly learned how to climb on the toilet themselves and to get up into their tall car seats without my help. You never realize how much you really do pick up your children on a daily basis, until you aren't able to. I missed holding them so dearly. There were many times they would stand at my feet holding their arms up for me to pick them up and hold them. They just didn’t understand why I wasn't able to lift them.

Although the wait was hard and time seemed to go by slowly, it actually passed by faster than I had imagined. It's hard to keep it off your mind when you are still taking estrogen and progesterone 3 times a day (at 7am, 3pm, and 10 pm for a total of 6 estradiol tablets and 3 vaginal suppositories). But being with the twins obviously occupied a lot of my time, so I think that helped tremendously.

In my mind and heart, I began preparing for our little baby that would arrive in November. I imagined what craziness Christmas would be this year with another baby in our arms. I thought about how much fun Eli and Will would have holding and feeding a little brother or sister. (I know this since they adore any babies they see and always want to touch, kiss, and help feed babies!)I even purchased shirts that said "big brother" for Eli and Will and thought about how and when we would announce our pregnancy to the world.

So finally, on the morning of February 25, I drove to Mayo to take a blood test to verify if there was a pregnancy. I hadn't and didn't want to take a home pregnancy test for the fear of a false negative or a false positive. Mayo recommends not doing that since all of the medications and hormones I was still on could affect a home pregnancy test and not give correct results. So, since Nick had to work all day and we obviously wanted to find out together, that evening, Nick and I listened to the message on labtalk from the Mayo Clinic Department of Reproductive Endocrinology and found out our worst fear....

Not pregnant.

At first I just starred at Nick. Then I looked away and said, "I knew it." At first, I felt like I didn't have any emotion.

Then suddenly it hit.

My heart felt broken.

My hope felt crushed.

I cried and cried.

And I cried some more.

And when I felt as if I couldn't have any tears left, I cried even more.

All the pain and frustrations came flooding back. Why? Why? Why didn't this work? I know I can get pregnant. These specialized doctors literally placed a perfect embryo into me in the perfect place at the perfect time under all the perfect conditions. Everything was perfect. But this little baby did not grow.

This proves that medicine can only go so far. That is where the true miracle comes in. God plays the biggest part. His goodness, His timing, His miracles. And that is how I know that all babies are truly miracles, no matter how they are conceived or who they are born to. No matter what.

But I will still question - Why can't I have another miracle?

So, I allowed myself to be sad and angry. I knew I didn't want to feel that for long, but I knew it was okay to feel that way for now. And so I cried and cried....a lot. I suddenly felt jealous of the many women I know who are pregnant. And more than anything I felt stupid for putting myself through all of this again, thinking we would easily become pregnant from this transfer. Before we had started the whole process, I told myself to not be over confident that this would work since our first IVF did work and we had our baby twins. I knew there was no guarantee it was work again right away. I didn't want to feel crushed if we weren't pregnant, so I tried to prepare myself for the fact that we may not be. But I don't think it helped, because I still felt utterly defeated.

Why do we have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars, spend so much time, and go through so many emotions with the hormones/medications I am on just for the CHANCE to get pregnant? Just for the CHANCE. But, there are no guarantees. It is a gamble. And I definitely felt the crush of that. And since we have no more insurance coverage for reproductive medicine, we pay for everything out of pocket. Literally thousands and thousands of dollars with nothing to show and no miracle growing inside of me.

The next day, my feelings turned from feeling so desperately sad for me to being so desperately sad for others. And I felt upset with myself for being so sad because I do have 2 little miracles, when so many couples out there may never even have their one miracle. So, I tried to focus on Elijah and Will. Even though we want more children, if we never do have more children, I could be thankful I was able to experience my twins. And I know that having twins is something so very extraordinary in itself. Something that the majority of people will never have the pleasure of experiencing. I am grateful for that.

But, it seems that when you want a baby, you want a baby. And the pain is still there, no matter if you already do have children or not. Yes, it is different, but the pain and want is still so vividly there.

I know that Nick and my infertility journey is so different than everyone else's. Many couple's infertility journeys are much much worse. They may have unexplained infertility and the doctors can't find anything to "fix." Many women have endometriosis or Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and may not ever be able to become pregnant. Or there are women who are able to become pregnant, but may have ectopic pregnancies or are unable to carry a baby to term. Some people aren't able to use their own sperm/eggs and need to use them from a donor. Many couples are unable to try any treatments because the cost is too high and nothing is covered by medical insurance. Why? Why? WHY?

Why can so many people...so much more deserving than I, not get pregnant?

It's not fair. I know life isn't fair. And it breaks my heart. My heart truly aches for these women and men. If you are struggling, waiting, and praying for your miracle, please know I pray for you each and every day. I honestly do.

And I will continue to think of and pray for you everyday for the rest of my life.

The days and weeks following finding out we weren't pregnant after the FET, were a mix of happy and sad. Some days have been harder than others, but there has always been hope in my days. I felt so sad for the little baby that could have been, but I was grateful for the 2 little miracles I do have. I am choosing to stay positive. I am choosing to keep moving forward. And I know that someday, somehow, we will hold another baby in our arms, if it is God's will.

So, even through the pain, the questions, the heartache, the suffering...I am choosing to have faith in God's plan and timing. I will trust in the perfect plan He has for our family. And I take comfort that He knows me, He feels what I am feeling right along with me, and He will never leave my side. I am not alone.

And no matter what your journey is, I pray you trust in His perfect plan for your life. I hope you take comfort that He knows you, He feels what you are feeling right along with you, and He will never leave your side. You are not alone.

There is a purpose, there is a reason.

And it will be worth the wait.

7 comments:

  1. Amy,

    I am so sorry that things didn't work out this time. That is just hard. We have never done IVF, so I don't know exactly what you're feeling, but I can understand how you loved that baby and how it all just stinks.

    But thanks for sharing your story and commenting on my blog. You are a wonderful example! I also know that God knows me and loves me and things will work out. I will be praying for you too! Love, Heather

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  2. Amy - glad to see you are back!!!! Wish you had better news :( a negative test is so hard to handle :(

    Hold your two miracle boys a little tighter and don't give up!

    Also...no need to feel bad about wanting a baby just because you already have two. What you are feeling is completely normal! I wish you and your family the best!!!

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  3. Sending you big hugs, Amy! I am so glad you wrote this; the raw, true emotions of sadness over not being pregnant. I can relate to so much of what you wrote. I know it's awful, but sharing lets so many others out there know that they are not alone.
    XOxo

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  4. Oh Amy! I'm so sorry you and Nick had to experience a negative test result. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea you were going through all of this right now. I will pray for you both.

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  5. The heart feels what the heart feels, my love. Rarely does it make sense. Cry those "self-centered" tears. They're not just for the possibility of this sweet baby lost, but also for the years of heartache getting to this point. And, yes, we've not had it nearly as difficult as many...but so much more difficult than most. Can't rate pain and suffering.

    I'm crying with you. I can't even express how much you've helped in the weeks and months since we lost Samuel. I wish there were some way to send the same amount of comfort and care and love to you.

    Sending love and light...

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  6. So worried I did not see my embryo this time either but the last time I saw the fluid clearly. I wonder if they even transferred my embryo this time. I will have to get an attorney to try to sue my clinic. Have you ever heard of anyone who did not see the fluid with the embryo inside still get pregnant.

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  7. Anyone wants to get more details about the Blastocyst Embryo Transfer now easily click on the given link and read our full post.

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