"But if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea', and it would obey you." -Luke 17:6

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is It Over Yet??

Oh. My. Goodness. This has been the longest week ev-errr! I cannot begin to describe how drained (both mentally and physically) I feel after going back to work this week and being on call...and it's not over yet! I have two more nights on call (including tonight), more patients to see tomorrow, two "regular" days of work, and then I'm off on Wednesday for the fourth! PTL! "I think I can, I think I can..." lol Even though this week has been cray-cray, I do actually have some exciting news: I have our schedule for the FET! But, honestly, my brain doesn't have the capacity right this minute to go into details. Sorry, guys! I will hopefully get a chance to sit down and focus on filling you all in sometime in the next few days...until then, keep those prayers coming, please! Pray hard for strength, patience, compassion (for my patients and my husband's sake, lol), and last but not least, SLEEP! Thanks, y'all!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy...

So today was a sad day...I had to say farewell to a very good friend of mine.  Someone who I helped to mentor when she first graduated from nursing school, who I've gotten to know so well over the last few years, and who has touched my heart and really showed me how to be faithful through life's trials.

This person was a newlywed, fresh out of college, and had so much to look forward to in life when she found out she had cancer.  At the same time (while being prepped for surgery for the biopsy), she found out she was pregnant with her first baby.  Although she was shocked at both life-altering findings, and wondered how she could be so sick when she was so healthy, I never heard her complain or question God.  After being diagnosed with lymphoma, a doctor recommended she abort the baby so she could start chemotherapy.  She refused and sought out another doctor's opinion.  Luckily, she found a doctor who was willing to monitor her condition while she was pregnant, and nine months later, she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl...her little miracle.

Two years later, after going through two rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, and one grueling round of radiation, her cancer is currently in remission.  God has faithfully brought her through this trial, and because of her trust in Him, He has blessed her by giving her the opportunity to be a fantastic mommy to that same, sweet little girl others wanted her to abort to save her own life.

Her faith has gotten so much stronger over the years, and she continues to thank God for how He is healing her body and how He has used her through this diagnosis.  She is honestly someone I look up to, and someone I use an example of how to fully trust in the Lord.  

I am so sad to see her moving with her sweet family to Savannah, but I know God is going to keep using her for His glory no matter where she is.  Because of her strength and faithfulness during a time when giving up seemed like the easier thing to do, He will continue to shower her with blessings.  The Lord has big, big plans for her, and I can't wait to see what they are!

I'll miss you, Niki, but I'll never forget how you have encouraged me to stay faithful and showed me how to walk with God through the trials.  Thank you for blessing me in such an amazing way!  I love you, sweet pea! :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Accomplishments

I am just like my mother in a lot of ways (I mean this in the best way possible, Mama!), and one of our common traits is that we like to make lists.  Lots of lists.  My mom always have two or three running lists going at one time, all on one small legal pad.  They're stuck all over my house, too...on the cork board, in my purse, in my work bag...but it keeps me organized!  It also makes me feel quite accomplished at the end of the day when everything is crossed off these lists---it's like getting a gold star for the day! And every one loves getting a gold star! lol

So, with this being my first day back to work, of course there was a To Do list in place.  Here it is:

Wake up by 7am. (this is quite the accomplishment, if you ask me!)

Do daily devotional and ask God for guidance, protection, peace, and to use me for His purpose.

Return to work and try to remember what to do.

Go grocery shopping.

Attempt to get back into my Jillian Michaels workout. (ouch)

Repeatedly thank God that even though I have to go back to work, I am blessed beyond belief to have a job to go to, am healthy enough to go back to this job, and have a house and a husband to come home to.

Annnnnnnd....done.  (Gold star for me! Woohoo!)  Now time to eat dinner, pray I don't get any calls from work tonight, and pass out on the couch.  Night, y'all! :)

(P.S. Sorry this wasn't a very exciting post...excitement continues to dwindle throughout the day along with my energy, lol  Hopefully there will be more entertaining/thoughtful stuff to post later this week!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

No News Is Good News

Well, nothing new here to report...and that's a good thing, if you ask me!  Still getting a little stronger every day, and still not looking forward to going back to work next week (I don't think that's ever going to change! lol).

I am looking very forward to having dinner out with our besties tonight---it is been waaaay too long! The only dark cloud looming over the evening is...will I be able to fit into my pants again??? I've mainly been living in sweat pants and drawstring shorts for the past month, so this is going to be interesting!  I am ashamed to say this, but I did have to resort to using a hair tie through the button hole and around the button of my shorts last weekend when I made an appearance at a family pool party...not cute at all, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!  But, even if the good ole hair tie has to go out to eat with us, we're going to have a great time!

Now that I'll be going back to work, I won't be blogging every day, but I'll try to keep you all in the loop about what's coming up next!  I don't have to see Dr T again until we have our consultation for the FET, which should be some time in late July or early August.  Until then, I'm going to stick to my goal of getting as healthy as possible and staying faithful that God is going to see us through this long journey!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do I Haaaaave To???

I'm almost 100% back to my old self!  PTL!  Although I am still tired and my ovaries are still slightly swollen, I am exercising a little every day, cooking dinner, and tidying up here and there.  Then today I managed to do something I haven't done in over three and a half weeks...drive!  I know, scary, right?  Thankfully, no one was harmed during my outing, and I managed to get a few errands done.  Score!  (One of those errands was a definite must: seeing my friend's brand-new little nine pound chunky monkey, Camille.  Definitely worth the trip! ;) )

I think there is only one last big hurdle I need to clear, and this one is a biggun...I have to go back to work next Monday.  Ugh.  Not saying I don't love what I do, because I love being a nurse, and I love the people I work with.  I am just not looking forward to...well, I'll be honest, working! lol It actually stresses me out quite a bit thinking about it, even though I still have a full four days off!  I broke out my whiney voice last night and asked my husband, "Do I haaaaaaave to go back to work??" His answer, of course, was a big fat "YES". Bummer.

Prayers are definitely needed that my first week back will go smoothly, I will remember what I'm supposed to do, and the paperwork won't weigh me down!  I have faith, though, that the same God who has helped me over all the other hurdles in my life will help me over this one!  I just have to remember to "look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always." (Psalm 105:4)  Not to mention, the way I look at it, the sooner I go back to work, the sooner September comes...and we all knows what happens in September!  Yaaaaay! :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Making Some Progress, People!

I'm proud to say that the last few days I've taken some baby steps (hey--it's better than nothing!) towards recovery.  God is definitely healing me, just one day and one baby step at a time!

Saturday night, I slept in my bed (all night) for the first time in three weeks.  Needless to say, my husband was happy to have me back beside him, even though I was sweating all night and I'm a pillow-hog.  Last night I put the big, fluffy chair back where it belongs (not directly in front of the TV, although that was nice), and put away the side table that housed my books, drinks, and pharmacy of pills.  Then today, I was able to walk on the elliptical (not winning any awards, just keeping moving) for 15 minutes, do some light yoga for 15 minutes, and swim for 15 minutes (to cool down--much needed)!  I mean, how a-maz-ing is that?!

Now, I'm not gonna lie...I'm already paying for my earlier burst of energy.  I am completely zapped, and my ovaries have let me know that they did NOT appreciate the exercise and that I'd better give them a little longer to heal before I try to start doing ab exercises.  Lesson learned, Mrs. Ovaries!  But it feels great knowing that I can get up and move around better, especially since I start back to work in only seven days!  Ugh, why did I have to remind myself of that?? lol

My plan is to get myself back into tip-top shape (can you say "back into" when technically you weren't in it to begin with?? Ehh, what the heck) for the frozen transfer in September.  I want my body to be as ready as my heart and mind already are to carry that little embryo and grow him/her (or them...whatever God gives us!) into a healthy, happy baby!  That means I have to start exercising again (which I did pretty regularly before, but I can improve on), continue to eat healthy, and NO caffeine or sodas (which I haven't had since I started injections in May--whoop whoop!).  I have to make sure this house is ready for the tiny guests God may be sending our way in just a few months!  Eek--I'm getting all excited just thinking about it!

Okay, time for a little rest.  All this talk about exercise and baby steps is making me even more tired! lol I'll check in with you guys tomorrow.  Please keep those prayers coming!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

I am one happy, blessed "little girl", because today I get to spend Father's Day with my amazing Dad!  And even though I haven't felt like doing a whole lot this weekend, and even though I can't take him out to eat because I'm still feeling a tad bit poorly and can't fit into any of my pants (ugh), he doesn't seem to mind.  He is perfectly content to just eat take-out, sit on the couch, and watch reruns of my favorite sitcoms on TBS all day.  He has gotten up early (and by early I mean 6:30am) every morning to feed my fat cat, Tucker, so my husband and I can sleep in.  He is the definition of what a father should be: kind, understanding, protective, and a godly Christian man.  I'm so lucky to call him "Daddy", and I love him dearly! :)

Along with mine and my husband's dads, there is another father that I like to honor on this day: our Heavenly Father!  Without Him, we would not exist.  Without the faith and trust that I have in Him, I could not have gotten through these last few months (or the last 27 years, for that matter!).  And without His sacrifice of sending His one and only Son to die for our sins, we would not have the joy of salvation and the knowledge that we will spend eternity with Him.  Thank you, Lord, for loving me and for showering me with love, mercy, grace, and peace every single day!

As I pray today, I give thanks for all that I have just mentioned.  But I also pray, with all my heart, that God will allow my husband to enjoy next year's Father's Day as a father himself.  (A successful September transfer would mean an early June baby! Eek!)  I can't wait to see him holding his child for the first time and feeling all the love that a father feels.  I know he will be an awesome dad...not only because his parents did a wonderful job in raising him to be the incredible man he is today, but also because I believe God blesses Christian men with an innate ability to be excellent fathers, and to teach their children to seek God in their own lives as they grow up.  I know this is all up to God's plan for us, but it sure doesn't hurt to pray for it! ;)

Happy Father's Day to all your fathers out there, whoever and wherever you are!  I pray you all display the Heavenly Father's love in your own lives day after day, and that you continue to grow daily into the father God has called you to be.  May He bless you all!

Friday, June 15, 2012

More Praiseworthy News!

Just a quick update on my appointment this morning...

My estradiol level is now completely normal!!  It is less than 25, which is perfect!  God is so amazing and is healing my body a little more every day!  Can I get an "amen"?! :)

Dr T didn't do an u/s this morning, but he came to talk to me while I was getting my blood drawn and make sure I was feeling better.  He said the soreness, exhaustion, and hot flashes (my fav!) I am feeling are completely normal, and hopefully will resolve by next week.  My ovaries and body were under so much stress, he said, that it is just taking longer to heal.  But he was very happy with the progress I've made since that exam on Saturday morning when I was so sick.  Happy doctor = happy patient! 

Dr T also wanted to reassure me again that our embryos all look perfect, and that he foresees nothing but good things happening when we transfer in September.  Although this does make me smile just thinking about about how our perfect little babies are waiting patiently to meet their mommy (eek!), I am trying to remember that this is still God's plan, not ours.  I am putting ALL my faith and trust in His plan, knowing that He will bless us when He sees fit.  It may not be September like we are hoping it will be, but whenever it is, it will exactly the right time.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another Good Day

Another day gone by, another day spent in my big fluffy chair watching TLC...but I continue to get a little better every day!  As of this morning, I've shed another pound of fluid and now I'm left with a moderate sized kangaroo pouch instead of a ginormous balloon belly.  Yay!

My one goal today was to empty the dishwasher so my wonderful husband wouldn't have to when he got home from work.  Although I was successful in completing my goal, now I'm pooped and hurting a bit.  Getting back into the swing of things after two weeks of bed rest is going to be no joke; I don't know how those poor pregnant women do it after being on bed rest for ten plus weeks and then having to take care of a baby!  I must just be a wimp. lol

So tomorrow is my appointment with Dr T to draw my estradiol level again and possibly do another u/s to see if there is still fluid in my abdomen and how large my ovaries are.  My sweet MIL is going to accompany me for this trip, since she and my husband don't feel entirely safe allowing me to drive (thank you, GG!).  I'm actually looking forward to this appointment; I'm praying for good news and to feel even better in the morning so I can fully recover before I return to work on the 25th...it's just around the corner!

I get to look forward to something else tomorrow, too...my Dad is coming to see me this weekend!  Woohoo!  It's been waaaay too long since I've seen my parents (they live out of state), and it's been hard on them both not being here since I've been dealing with this yucky OHSS.  Unfortunately, my Mom has to work (booooo for jobs and responsibilities! lol), so my Dad is making the five hour trip solo to spend some time with his baby girl!  I'm so incredibly blessed!  

I'll keep you all posted on the results of my appointment.  As always, I ask you prayer warriors to keep praying!  Please pray for God to finish healing my body and to prepare me to receive those little embryos in September.  At the same time, please praise Him for all He has done for my husband and I. "Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders!" (1 Chronicles 16:9)  If it wasn't for our loving, faithful Father and our steadfast faith in Him, none of this IVF journey would have been possible!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Breaking News

This just in...I'm gonna make it, folks!  Another blessing from the good Lord! :)

Yesterday, I could tell my stomach was a little less bloated in the lower part, and I was able to breathe better, especially when walking around and after I ate.  My weight was still going down...only 0.2 lbs, but at least I stopped gaining!  I had a rough night sleeping because I was still quite uncomfortable and waking up in a sweat (I don't know what that's all about...maybe hot flashes from the hormone changes??).  But I could tell things were headed in the right direction!

Then this morning, after another restless night, I got up to use the bathroom and weigh myself (my morning routine now), and I noticed my stomach is considerably smaller!  Jumping on the scale confirmed that I'd lost 2 lbs overnight--PTL!  I really don't know why, but I'm still in a lot of pain...it's more of an achy feeling than anything, and it is under my ribs, around my still swollen ovaries, and goes through to my back.  But I'll take the pain over the bloating, shortness of breath, nauseous feeling I've been struggling with the last week!

I'm just so happy that things are normalizing again, I don't know what to do with myself!  Of course, although I want to get up (because I CAN!) and do some of the things I've missed doing the last two weeks I've been on bed rest (tidying up around the house, chasing our fat cat around the house, actually doing my hair instead of letting it dry in a ponytail), I know that I need to continue to take it easy.  If I do too much today, I'm going to pay for it tomorrow!  I also want to be cleared by Dr T to be able to do more strenuous activities, because although the bloating is better, my estradiol could still be very high and my ovaries still very swollen (I can still feel them) and at risk of twisting.  The last thing I need is a twisted ovary that leads to emergency surgery!  I'll just take things slow until I see him again on Friday and get the okay to resume a normal life again!

I read the perfect verse yesterday that sums up this whole process we've been through so far, as well as motherhood:  "A woman giving birth has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child has been born into the world." (John 16:21)  God has given us the strength to be able to endure these tough times, and I know He is going to reward us with our precious gift soon enough.  When all is said and done, when I am holding our sweet baby (or babies) in my arms, this entire journey is going to be well worth the pain, the heartache, and the wait.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Final Count

I was anxiously awaiting Dr T's call all day to tell us the final results on our growing embryos...and, of course, the nurse didn't call until 3:30pm!  But it's ok, because the news more than made up for the wait!

As of today, we officially have ten "perfect" embies frozen and waiting for us to come take them home in September!  That's ten precious miracles; ten possibilities of making of dreams of becoming parents a reality.  TEN!  That is above and beyond anything we could prayed for...but we'll take it! lol

Now, we will still only transfer two embryos come September and save the rest.  I definitely don't want to be the next biggest "medical marvel" by giving birth to decuplets!  (Yes, that's the technical term for ten babies at once...and yes, I googled it. lol)  So we'll take things slow, transfer two, and pray for God's perfect will to be done once again!  I can't wait to see what happens!

As far as my health goes, I am still on bed rest, and still bloated like a bull frog, all the way up to my ribs. But I'm no worse, so that's a blessing in itself!  I got new orders from Dr T: start a baby aspirin (81mg) a day to protect me from blood clots (since my estrogen is still so high and I'm not active), keep taking Femara 2.5mg today and then every other day for three doses (my estradiol level is still almost 3800...yikes), and come back in for blood work and an exam on Friday at 8am.  And, like always, if I have any changes for the worse, I need to call him immediately.  Can do, boss man!

Everyone has been so sweet in sending messages, texts, calls, etc.  I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart---I don't know what I'd do without you all!  Please keep those prayers up, because God is doing amazing things, but He's just getting started! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Embryo Update

Why hello again!  Think it's time for a little update, don't you?  Let me see...where to start...

How about I tell you about the mexican aliens?  Yes, you read that right.  And no, it's not the pain meds talking!  I am convinced that at any moment, my skin is going to rip open and a group of mexican aliens will come bounding out of my bloated stomach, complete with sombreros, singing "La Cucaracha" and playing a tiny mexican guitar.  They are practicing their routine in their as we speak.  No lie!

Ok, as kooky as that sounds, it's a pretty good description of how I am feeling right now!  The bloating is worse, I've gained three pounds since yesterday (all fluid), and I can't stand up straight without having sharp pains in my stomach/back.  It's horrible.  But it's gotta start getting better soon, right?  I've got to keep looking at the positive!  Which brings me to my next tidbit of info to share...

Dr T called me today to check on me and to give us the latest progress report on our amazing little embryos!  This really made my day, because I've been thinking about how they're doing, how many will make it to the FET, are they homesick and missing their mommy already...lol.  But really, I have been thinking about them a lot and praying that God will protect these tiny miracles (and I know He will!) and that no matter how many make it through this process, they will grow to be healthy, happy, bouncing babies some day soon!

Alright, I know it's driving you nuts to know how many there are now, so let me get to it...there are a total of eleven embryos that have made it to day 5!  Woohoo!!!  Out of these, four are "beautiful...just great!" (per Dr T), and will be frozen today.  The other seven will continue to be cultured until tomorrow and then frozen if they survive.  They will call back tomorrow with the final number---I'm so excited!!

I am just amazed at the blessings God continues to bestow upon us.  All I can do is praise His name and pray that we use these blessings and our journey (even the bumps along the way) to glorify Him in every way!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Another Bump in the Road

Well, the time has come...the time to sit down and write the post that I was praying and hoping I wouldn't have to write.  Let me start out by saying that every single thing that happens in this world happens for a reason, a reason deemed necessary by our Lord and Savior, a reason that we cannot argue with but just learn to accept as another "bump in the road".  When we learn to accept this, it makes seeking and following God's will so much easier!

(Deep Sigh) We had to cancel this cycle.  There will be no transfer tomorrow, nor will there be one for a few months.  After my pain, bloating, and nausea worsened last night, I started to seriously question whether or not putting these embryos back inside me and allowing them to grow was what my body (as well as their teeny-tiny cells) really needed at this point.  Honestly, what kind of mother would I be if I put my unborn babies into an extremely stressful environment to begin with?

So I talked to my husband, through tears (which have been coming more frequently---probably in unison with the pain), telling him that I couldn't imagine going through with the transfer knowing things were going to get worse if I did, indeed, get pregnant.  He agreed, and said it's my health that has to come first, and that the embryos would be there when my body is ready for them.  He's 100% right.  (I really love him, by the way.  Just sayin'.)  We decided he would take me in the see Dr T first thing in the morning to get his opinion and make sure I didn't need further treatment to help with the OHSS.

I had an extremely long, painful night...I couldn't get comfortable, was sick to my stomach and hurting constantly, and was developing some mild shortness of breath.  Umm, can we say "scary"??  Luckily, I have THE most awesome husband in the world, and he slept on the couch next to me (I have adopted the big fluffy chair in the living room as my permanent residence) to make sure I didn't need anything throughout the night.  And when I woke up at 4am because I was nauseous and in pain, he woke up, too, and took care of me.  I mean, really, he is a-maz-ing.

At 8am I waddled my way into Dr T's office, who took one look at my belly (which has definitely grown in size and has a nice grapefruit-size lump on the left side---one of my precious ovaries) and my vaginal u/s and knew right away where this was headed.  He said it is definitely OHSS, and showed my husband and I the fluid that has built up in my abdomen.  Both of my ovaries are huge (and filled with large, fluid-containing follies), and my left ovary has gotten so large that it has been pushed up and out of my pelvic cavity (which is why the part we can see looks like a hernia).  I complained about the shortness of breath and nausea, and after listening to my lungs (which he said sounded good), he said that is likely due to the fluid and body parts that have been pushed up against my diaphragm that makes it difficult to breathe and gives me that "full" feeling.  Then he recommended what we already knew he would (but still needed some reassurance that it was the right thing to do): cancel the transfer and freeze all of the embryos.  Of course, we agreed.

Dr T went on to say he is very confident that FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) will work for us, and even said "You have lots of good little embryos to freeze, so you'll be able to have lots of babies in the next few years", which of course, made me smile.  He also told us that FET has just as high of success rates as a fresh cycle (which is what we're doing now).  The plan would be to let my body heal over the next several weeks, and then I would join the next IVF cycle which starts in August.  Luckily, FET doesn't involve nearly as many medications (although there still are injections and pills), and since there is no "ovary stimulation" being done, there is less stress being put on the body and little to no risk of the dreaded OHSS.  Sounds like a good plan to me!

So, what do we do now?  Well, I had blood work drawn, which will be resulted Monday morning and will tell Dr T how my electrolytes and estrogen level looks.  They will also let us know then how many embryos were able to be frozen (they have to make it to tomorrow, which is day 5, officially making them "blastocytes")...exciting!  He is having me take Femara (2.5mg pill) tonight and tomorrow night to help lower the estradiol level, which will then help my ovaries to shrink in size (hopefully).  I can stop the antibiotic (PTL!  That thing is horrendous!) and the progesterone shots (even though the hubs was doing a fab job of giving them).  Hopefully, once my estrogen levels go down, my body will signal that it's time to start another cycle and it will start on it's own...but since my body has a mind of it's own, I may have to start pills to make my cycle come again.

Dr T gave me some pain and nausea medicine (thank God!) to help me rest and let my body heal.  I am supposed to keep him updated on my progress and let him know if anything gets worse.  If things did become worse (praying not!), then I may have to be hospitalized to be more closely monitored and to receive further treatment (IV fluids, IV protein, heart monitoring, possibly draining of fluid from the belly).  Dr T said "things may get worse before they get better" (gee, thanks, doc! lol), but that he is hoping to see me back to normal in two-three weeks.  In the meantime, I am supposed to stay on bed rest, keep drinking LOTS of fluids (Gatorade and Smart Water for the electrolytes, which will help to pull the fluid from my stomach back into my blood vessels where it belongs), eat small/frequent meals, and monitor my urine output to make sure my kidneys are okay.  Things will get better, but we have to take them one day at a time!

Now, I said it in the beginning of this post, and I'll say it again: Everything happens for a reason.  God knew when He sent us down this path that we would come to this bump in the road, and that (with His help) we would get over it and then continue on this journey.  No one can say exactly why these bumps occur, but it's really not our place to ask why.  When we start to question the Lord, that means we are not being 100% faithful and trusting...as Max Lucado says, "No one can pray and worry at the same time."  Very true!

As I end this post, as well as this long day, I feel completely at peace with how things are unfolding.  While things didn't quite go according to the routine "IVF Timeline", they are going exactly as my Master has planned them!  I can't say I'm not sad that we won't be able to transfer our precious little embies tomorrow (it's been a long road to get this far, after all), but that's the beauty of being God's child.  I turn my sadness over to Him, lay my sorrow at His feet, and He replaces it with joy and hope in knowing that bigger things are to come!

Thank you all again for all of the prayers, love, and support...please continue to pray for healing for my body, God's perfect will to be done, and for Him to keep using us throughout this process!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 3

No worries, folks...I'm still here, still on bed rest, and still planning on having the transfer Sunday morning!  I'm just trying to get better ASAP so I can safely receive our little embies!

So, it's now been three days since the egg retrieval.  The last few days have been pretty rough, to be honest.  I'm nauseous, peeing every two hours (due to the increased amount of fluids I have to drink to stay hydrated), my stomach is still extremely puffy and very sore, and I'm not sleeping well at all (probably due to the frequent potty breaks and having to lay on my back).  I actually called the nurse, Denice, today to make sure I was not being a baby and that it is normal to feel this crappy.  She said that because of the large number of follies that I had, they definitely expected me to be under the weather for several days, but that if things worsen I can come in to have Dr T see me tomorrow morning. She made me feel better that what I am feeling is normal, although it sure doesn't take the yucky feeling away! 

I do have to say, this is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  I knew when we started out that it would be physically demanding, but I wasn't expecting to feel this bad this long!  All I can do is take care of myself, remember why we took this path, and pray for God's divine healing and never-failing guidance.  "And this is our confidence, that if we pray according to His will, He will hear us and give us what we ask for, because our desires are in agreement with His thoughts for us." (1 John 5:14-15)  Keep praying, y'all!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fertilization Report

Ok, sorry for the delay in posting the fertilization report of our little eggies...I am just so incredibly overwhelmed with how amazing God is, and how He is blessing us each and every day, that I had to let it all sink in first.

I got the call from the nurse this afternoon that out of 26 eggs, 23 were mature, and 14 were successfully fertilized (with ICSI, or injection of the sperm into the eggs) and are now our embryos!  They are sitting in their incubator, growing and dividing into something beautiful...something that can only be described as a MIRACLE.  As of right now, we are planning to come in Sunday at 8am for the egg transfer, where we will get to see pictures of our 5-day old "embies" (embryo babies), along with grades/qualities of each.  Then Dr T will pick the best two (if they're high quality, three if they're lower quality) and those will be what we transfer.  I am beyond excited for this next step, and I am 100% certain that God will take care of us and our precious little embryos.

Of course, being realistic, there is a chance that a pregnancy is not in God's will for us right now, and something could happen during these next 4 days, such as our embies could stop developing (or "arresting" in IVF terms).  Chances are high that all 14 will not make it to day 5, but once again, we're not being greedy here!  Two or three healthy, high quality embryos is all we need to have a successful transfer, and that's enough for us!  Whatever God choses to leave us with on that day is absolutely perfect.  

There's also a chance my mild hyperstimulation could continue to worsen and the transfer could be cancelled if Dr T feels I am not healthy enough to receive the embryos.  Initially, before the retrieval, I had a nice bloated stomach and was very aware of my ovaries...it was hard to sit up straight, get off the couch, and I felt very "full" (and generally uncomfortable).  After the procedure, I was in mild pain (thanks to the Fentanyl) and had a lot less bloating.  Today, however, I look about 6 months pregnant (I feel it, too!) and am VERY sore, both in my ovaries and where my husband gave me that progesterone shot last night (OUCH).  There is a huge knot (possibly my swollen left ovary??) on the left side of my lower abdomen that is very tender to the touch, and my stomach is so bloated it's hard to eat or drink anything.  It's honestly quite painful, and a little scary, because I am so nervous about the OHSS worsening and things being put on hold.  But when the nurse called, she said it's quite common to be extremely bloated, nauseous, and sore.  She said as long as I am still urinating okay, am not having severe pain, and my stomach is "soft" and not hard and distended (which would mean it's probably fluid and not air), then I should be fine.  It should get better over the next few days, hopefully in time for our big day!  I just keep repeating this to myself:  there's nothing my God cannot do!

So, while we wait, I am going to focus on the positive...on the 14 microscopic blessings that God has given us!  They will be checked on once or twice before Sunday (Dr T thinks the less you mess with them, the better they grow), and if things are still dividing well, we will soon be taking the next step towards our dream of being parents.  As I write this, I am moved to tears (again...I'm a little hormonal right now) at God's mercy and grace.  He never ceases to amaze me!  

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again because it is SO true:  God.  Is.  Good. (ALL the time!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our Egg Retrieval

We did it!  Everything went smoothly and now I back at home parked in front of the TV in my big, fluffy chair.  Although I should be sleeping off the rest of the anesthesia, I couldn't wait to fill you all in on our big day!  (So forgive me if some words are misspelled or don't make sense...it's the drugs :) )

Here are some details about this morning's adventure:

We arrived at 7am and they were ready and waiting for me in the pre-op area.  I put on my super sexy hospital gown and Beth and Kim (both of whom I adore) started my IV.  The anesthesiologist came in and we played a quick game of 20 Questions, which I obviously answered correctly, because he then left and came back with the goods (Versed).  I said goodbye to my hubby, and they wheeled me off to the OR.  I think the meds were already kicking in before we got there, because I believe I said, "Here we go! Leggo my eggos!" during the ride.  Classic.  lol

Once I got into the room, I don't remember much.  They asked me to scoot over to the OR table and put my legs into the stirrups.  I remember one more detail after that, but I'll spare you guys the details of that.  I received my Fentanyl and Propofol and I was in la-la land...for all of 15 minutes.

I woke up when they wheeled me back into the recovery area.  My husband was there and I immediately asked him to take my picture with his phone...I don't know why, I suppose I thought I looked like a total fashionista or something.  I would post the pic, but I look like a drunk, so I'll keep that incriminating evidence to myself. ;)  I honestly thought this was all happening before the procedure, and I asked when they were going to take me back.  I then proceeded to tell my hubs (three times) exactly what I remember.  (That just goes to show you how good those meds are!)  He told me that Dr T came to see him right after the procedure and that he seemed very pleased--I think this sobered me up a little, because then I started to get a little nervous, shaky, and ready for the results!

Dr T came in after I was a little more alert and gave us the good news:  he was able to retrieve 26 eggs!  I mean, seriously, how good is our God???!  (And if you remember from Sunday's post, we expected to collect about 2/3 of the total number of follicles...which just happens to be right around 26! That's cray cray!)  I asked about the egg quality, and he said they would know more about this after they fertilized them all later today, and we can expect a call sometime tomorrow morning with the details of our embryos' progress.  Eek!  I can't wait!

So that's our egg retrieval in a nutshell!  Amazing, isn't it??  I truly appreciate everyone's thoughts, prayers, comments, and messages...please keep them up, because we're still in a very delicate part of this process!  I am going to try not to focus on what may happen in these next 3-5 days (before they transfer the embryos back inside me), but instead focus on how faithful and loving God is, and how He is blessing us with every step of this journey!   "Give thanks to God, for He is good; His love ensures forever." (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Monday, June 4, 2012

T-Minus 11 Hours!

It's almost time, folks!  In about eleven hours, I'll be getting my final u/s done (to make sure I didn't ovulate prematurely--please no!), my IV started, and getting ready to collect my precious eggos!  I am so excited I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight!

While I try to pass the time, I have enjoyed a delicious chicken taco salad (which I now realize is probably not the best choice for being put to sleep and being in stirrups...oops, sorry Dr T!) and am watching my TBS line-up.  I must say, not having to take any shots or meds tonight is quite nice!  I'd better enjoy my one shot-free night, because tomorrow night starts the dreaded Progesterone shots in the tush!  (I'll take these either up until I get a BFN on my test OR until the twelfth week of pregnancy.)

Well, guys, I'll check back with you all tomorrow afternoon, after all of the anesthesia has worn off, to let you know how many we collected.  Please be praying for safety, a steady hand for Dr T, a good number of healthy/mature eggs, and (most importantly) God's will to be done!  "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all those whose thoughts are fixed on You." (Isaiah 26:3)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Let's Do Some Math

How about if we do a little math...sound like fun?  Great!  Here we go!

22 + 18 = ?

Any takers?  No?  Ok, I'll give you the answer...it's 40 (yes, F-O-R-T-Y), and it's the number of eggs that are growing inside me as we speak!  Ahhhhh!  How amazing is that?!  It just goes to show that just when we think we have God's plan figured out, He puts another spin on it to make us go, "Whaaaat?!" I love that He keeps us guessing! ;)

As you can probably guess, this number came as a bit of a shock to my husband and I.  At my appointment this morning, I assumed the usual position, Dr T did the usual u/s, and spouted off the usual long stream of numbers...but this time, they were almost all within the 17-21mm range that we were hoping for (only a few 16mm's, which likely will catch up)!  I attempted to keep count this time, but got overwhelmed by all of the glorious measurements, so I had to stop and silently praise my God for what He was doing inside me!  It wasn't until we got into the car to go home that my husband said, "So did you keep count?"  I said, "No, I lost count on the right ovary again...did you?"  He replied, matter-of-factly, "Yep.  Twenty-two and eighteen."  My mouth dropped open and I managed to say, "Added together???! Like, as in FORTY eggs??!"  He just laughed and said yes.  This definitely confirms that NOTHING is impossible with God!

Here's another number: 4700.  This is what my estradiol level was today.  Not great, since Dr T was hoping the Femara had brought it down to an acceptable 2000-3000 range, but he said without taking the Femara, we probably would be looking at a number closer to 6000, which was definitely too high.  With forty eggs baking in my ovaries, 4700 is not too shabby!  I say this because each egg produces estradiol as they mature...usually roughly 200 pg/ml when fully mature. So technically my level could have been around 8000...yikes!

So, I'm sure you're wondering what in the world we are going to do with forty eggs.  Good question!  Chances are, we will not be left with too many leftovers, and if we are, they will be frozen for future use (or donation).  I know that seems odd, since we have forty potential contestants going into the game, but the end results (as with everything else dealing with IVF) is based on another numbers game.  Wanna play that one, too?

Let's say I have thirty-six mature follies ready to go on the morning of the egg retrieval (I'll use that number instead of forty because it easier to divide using my math equation).  Here's how the possible end results come about:

-Out of all 36 follies, only roughly 2/3 of these will actually contain mature eggs.  This makes 24 eggs.

-All 24 eggs undergo the fertilization process, but usually only 1/2 actually become fertilized.  Now we're down to 12.

-Out of these little guys, only about 1/2 are expected to survive the 5-day waiting game to see if they divide and become healthy little embryos.  We're at 6 now.

-We would only transfer 2 at a time (Dr T says, "Only put in what you're okay with getting out!" lol), but typically the implantation rate of embryos is only 50%.  So, possibly 1 embryo will implant, which equals 1 baby.  (This is a number I'm definitely okay with!)

-That leaves 4 possibly embryos to freeze and use at a later date.  Usually, about 1/2 survive the "defrosting", so we could be left with 2 embryos to either use for Baby #2 or to donate to another couple in need.

See what I mean?  Forty seems like a lot to start with, but when you do the math using the odds given, the final number is juuuust right!

Although I say it's a game of chance and numbers, I honestly believe that it has everything to do with God's will for our lives.  He grew all forty of these follies, and He knows exactly how many will make it in the end, and how many, if any, will turn into our precious little miracle.  I'm turning my body, my trust, and my forty follies over to Him, and I'm so glad He's in control! :)

So tonight, at precisely 8:30pm, I will take my Ovidrel (250) shot, which should trigger ovulation. I am also taking another Femara (2.5mg pill) to help lower my estradiol levels.  Exactly 36 hours later, Tuesday morning, Dr T will do the egg retrieval.  We have to be at the office at 7am Tuesday, and the procedure should be done around 8:30am.

I am nervous, but at the same time, I am so excited to see what God has planned next!  1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." That's just what I intend to do, praise Him for the good and the bad, come what may!

Friday, June 1, 2012

An Emotional Day

Today was the first day since we decided to go ahead with IVF that I have broken down and cried.  I hate to admit it, but after my appointment this morning, I allowed doubt to get the better of me and asked my husband, "What if this doesn't work?  What if we have to cancel the whole cycle?"  After I asked this, and after shedding a few tears, I remembered that God doesn't always promise for things to be easy (that's why these trying times are called "trials"...duh, Jayme), but He does promise to see us through each trial, and to be with us every step of the way.

On the way home, I said this prayer:  "Lord, I don't know what You have in store for me.  I don't know if this will lead to a baby.  But I do know that You have put me here for a reason, and I am going to remain faithful and trust that You will see Your amazing plan through to the end.  Forgive me for doubting You, and forgive me wanting MY will over Yours.  Continue to use me and I will continue to give You all the glory.  Amen."  And wouldn't you know, I felt another wave of peace wash over me as soon as I was finished praying.  1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxieties upon Him, for He cares for you."  When we do this, when we lay all of our burdens at His feet, God takes our anxieties and replaces them with peace, hope, and joy...talk about a loving Father!

I probably should back up a little and tell you what happened at my appointment, huh?  Sorry 'bout that!

My wonderful "future baby daddy" went with my today since I am unable to comfortably sit in the driver's seat, and also because he wanted to be there to hear the progress of our future babies.  As soon as Dr T came in and started the u/s (which, in case I never mentioned it, is always a transvaginal...ouch), he started throwing out numbers.  Now, I'm used to hearing a lot of numbers, especially since this IVF cycle began.  But this time, instead of "multiple 10mm's" or "one 13mm", we hear "14, 15, 14, 15, 12, 13, 12, 14, 15, 16...." and this goes on and on.  Then he switched to the other side and I realized that was only from the RIGHT OVARY!  Yikes!  (Dr T then says "Write small, Denice"---the nurse, who was jotting down the measurements---which I thought was quite funny. )  As he moved to the left ovary, the numbers continued.  In the end, I believe he called out over 25 measurements (my husband said he lost count on the right ovary, lol).  That means that all my follicles are still growing!  Eek!

At first, I was ecstatic, because Dr T said he wants my follies to be at least 17mm (I was a little off when I said 18mm in a previous post--my bad), and so we're almost there!  But then things got a little more serious and he started talking about the chance of things worsening as all of the eggs hit maturity, and he mentioned possibly having to cancel the cycle if I do develop moderate-severe OHSS.  Of course, my heart sank.  I always knew it was a possibility (and maybe it was the hormones I've been injecting myself with making me more emotional), but it just hit me that this cycle could really end early with just a bunch of frozen eggs.  (He would remove the eggs, freeze them, and fertilize/transfer them after my levels all returned to normal, which would be in a whole different cycle.) I didn't say a whole lot after this and just nodded, until we got to the car and I had my mini breakdown.

My husband, of course, was very supportive.  He said Dr T has to make sure we are aware of all possible outcomes, but that it isn't a definite decision.  We would just have to wait for the estradiol levels to come back and see what he wanted to do from there.  (My hubby is always so calm, whereas I'm a total spaz sometimes...that's one of the reasons why I love him! :) ) So we went home, I talked to my awesome mom and MIL, and I waited for the call with my orders.

Well, my levels came back at 3889, more than double what it was on Wednesday!  Holy schnikies!  But the nurse didn't seem concerned, and said that Dr T was actually doubling my dose of Menopur (to two vials), keeping my Lupron the same, and adding Femara (2.5mg---a pill) to help lower my estradiol levels while still allowing the follies to mature. I will do this tonight and tomorrow night and then return to the office at 8am Sunday morning for another look.  Dr T said he should have a more definite decision based on Sunday's results.

So, now you're all caught up!  It's been an emotional day, to say the least.  Things aren't going exactly accordingly to schedule, but do they ever really??  I just have to put all of my goals and hopes for this cycle out of my head, focus on God's will instead, and take things day by day.  And through this all, I have to remember that God isn't finished with me yet...He's just beginning!