Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Are we doing the right thing?

The risks seem higher this time.

We've already dumped an disgusting amount of money into the IF money pit.  Worse yet, we've spent 5 1/2 years of our lives.

I keep wondering if we are doing the right thing.

This decision to move to donor egg isn't sitting perfectly with me yet.  I'm scared that we're going to look back at this decision and see more money and more time wasted.  It still doesn't seem real that this  could actually work.

It's such a strange thing, especially since we've never faced such promising odds for a baby, ever.  Not even close.  An 80% chance of bringing home a live baby seems amazing.  Almost impossible to believe.

My fears:

  • I'm scared that we're not going to have the emotional strength to navigate through more of these waters if this doesn't work. 
  • I'm scared that we should be pouring our energy into traditional adoption. 

Pursuing both traditional adoption and egg donation concurrently does not seem doable, but I wonder if we should push ourselves to do it anyways.

I'm also scared that I'm selling myself short on this "openness" thing.  My post yesterday really made me reflect.  I think that it is a best case scenario that we were lucky to have.  Our next experience might not be that positive.  But I can't help but think that we have an obligation to provide the most information possible to our children.   I think I would want it if I was born from an egg donor.  D still doesn't seem to care either way.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Genetic Family

D and I adopted embryos a couple of years ago.  We did this twice.  The first time, we adopted two embryos.  One survived the thaw and was transferred, but did not result in a pregnancy.  The second time, we adopted six.  That time, we navigated a much more open relationship at the request of the donors.

As we got to know them, we learned that their fertility journey was far from easy.  After several years of surgeries, miscarriages and IVFs, they managed to build their family through adoption and surrogacy. Afterwards, they surprisingly found themselves in the position of having embryos that needed a loving home.  

They were much more comfortable with the idea of openness, after having experiences with an open adoption with one of their children.  We weren't as comfortable, so we navigated and negotiated cautiously. 

We spent time working out what our relationship was going to be.  We talked about parenting, and contact, and relationships with siblings.   We found ourselves moving from referring to them as the genetic donors of our embryos to their genetic family.   We opened our hearts, and our lives and hoped that we were doing the right thing. 

When I became pregnant with twins as a result of the last embryo transfer, they shared our excitement and joy.   When I found out I was miscarrying, they wept with us.   Afterwards, we stayed in touch.   We even visited them a couple of months after our miscarriage while on vacation near their home.  

When I think of the special and unique relationships in my life, theirs is definitely one of my most cherished.   Not only did they give us the greatest gift that anyone could have given us with their six beautiful embryos, but they gently offered us a hand and a hug to help us through the rest of our journey. 

They are the ones that made me really realize that taking the risk for openness is worth it.  That support along this journey is vitally important.   She has called me after hearing our bad news and cried with me, when I'm sure everyone else was scared to call, fearing they didn't know what to say. 

I'm crying right now as write this and I think of them.  They are some of the most beautiful, strong, generous, kind hearted people I've ever met.  I'm so tremendously glad that our paths have crossed. 

Recently, they did something else that really warmed my heart.  It was so beautifully sweet.  So thoughtful.  So kind. 

They participated in Resolve's Walk of Hope.  They did so to remember their own infertility journey and to support others in their journey.  They wore custom made t-shirts outlining key parts of their journey.  Her shirt said, "I'm infertile", and his saying "I'm a loving and supportive husband".   In a picture I saw, she was wearing it with her head held high with her children by her side.  I can't imagine how emotional it must have been for them to have participated in that walk after having been through so much and now be on the other side. 

With our permission, they each also wore a pin in our honour.  It was a picture of me and D from when we visited them last spring.   

I guess sometimes there are blessings in all of this infertile mess.   

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Advanced maternal age

Well folks, today is the day.   I'm another year older.

I'm starting to get used to each birthday arriving with more wrinkles on my face and more grey hairs to dye.

The this one means that unless by some miracle I become pregnant within the next three months (which there is a slim chance because the donor egg preparation takes 3-4 months),  I will get the pleasure of now being in the advanced maternal age category.

Oh and yes, I know with donor egg, a lot of things are different and age is less significant.   But it's a little it's a little fertility milestone I wish I didn't know about.

Today, my gift to myself is that I'm going to be extra nice to myself.  Yummy eats, and little treats is what it will be about!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Talking with the elephant and tree therapy

Source :insureblog.blogspot.com

I'm trying to shake my feeling of annoyance at my sister for her lack of support.  I'm trying to be grateful for what I have and not upset about what I do not.

Easier said than done. For some reason these feelings are proving to be sticky.  "Is this a real problem, or is it just me being silly?" is what I've been asking myself.

I've been trying to think of reasons why this is still bothering me.  It could be D has been stressed and grumpy, and it's rubbing off on me.  It could also be because I am now on cycle day 30 and PMSing.  I dunno.   Those are definitely contributing factors.

I feel like it annoys me because it's not like she doesn't know about it.  It's a big huge part of my life.  She knows it's tough.  She knows that talking helps (she's a social worker for crying out loud!), and still there is silence.  No reaching out.  No, "how are you doing with all of this?".   There's no talking about this huge IF elephant in the room.  I don't always want to go into a big conversation about it, but every couple of months, or after something big happens (like ending our OE journey), I feel like it warrants some love.

I suppose, I'm also comparing this silence in contrast to some other more generous experiences. I know it's not a good thing to do...

This summer, we had friends that visited us from out of town.  They aren't our closest friends, but are people that we keep in touch with and see a couple of times a year.  They are fertile-mertles, and have  two children born within a year and a half of each other.  She also had a miscarriage in between, which was very difficult for them emotionally.

When they came to visit this summer, she asked about how our fertility stuff was going and I told her.  I shared our excitement leading up to our last cycle, and then a few weeks later, our heavy disappointment. After hearing about this news, the next time they visited, they brought us a beautiful flowering tree and a home made card with a lovely verse in it about friendship and their support for us.

It was truly one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for us in this journey.

I've learned it takes a really special person to see another person's pain and not get scared away by it.  Empathy and understanding are special gifts.  I think that most people refine this skill with practice in watching and experiencing things in their own lives.

This doesn't come naturally for me. I think because it wasn't something that was practiced in our home growing up much.  I know that I've gotten better.  Partly because I've learned from D.  Being empathetic is one of his greatest personality traits.  I've also learned first hand what it's like to go through something painful. Grief and I have gotten to know each other up close and personal.   I know what it's like to crave understanding and a listening ear.  It's exactly what I'm craving right now from my sister.

I no longer believe everything happens for a reason.  But, I do continue to believe that good can come from bad.  The good is that IF has shed light on friendships that can be distanced, and those that are to be nurtured and cherished.  It's help me be more present in someone else's pain with them, and to know that by 'going into it' with them that I don't need to be scared.  Just being there, asking about the elephant in the room, and carefully listening is all that needs to be done.

The red tree in the background is also something I'm thankful for.  Our friends gave us money to purchase a special tree in memory of my late Grandfather in lieu of flowers.   I'm hoping to get a plaque that says "In memory of a life well lived".     Both trees will remind me of two important chapters in our life and some of the beautiful thoughtful people that have been there along the way.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Craptastic eggs

D is in the financial industry and he came across a company that did not meet financial expectations regarding a new process/drug that helps women with wretchedly bad eggs.   He sent me the link, and said he wasn't trying to sway me back but he thought I would be interested in it. 

Normally, when finding something like this I would be excited to read it.  I would chew every last bit of it up.  I would do more research, searching the internet for hints of if this could be our magic bullet. Then, I would spit it out at D a few hours later.   

This time?  Nothin'.  I didn't even read past a few paragraphs on the main page.  I didn't have an emotional reaction of any sort to it.  

This is so not like me.  

And, it's a huge relief.  To me it's a huge sign that I'm really done with my craptastic eggs.   

(Here's the link in case you would like more information besides my amazing description of it: http://www.ovascience.com/technology/)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Working through another checklist and sisters

We're working our way through another checklist in an effort to get cleared by CCRM to choose a donor.

Part of me is annoyed that a lot of the testing we've had once, twice or eight million times before.  Oh, and paid the bills that many times too.   I'm hoping some of the things they've asked us to do is because our new donor nurse has overlooked some of the tests in our file.  But really, I feel like I'm done with having tests in general.  I'm sure all of you IFers feel the same way.

One of the things we checked off our list yesterday was our psych consult.  I think we passed it with flying colours, having gone through the embryo adoption process before.  I'm glad that is over with.  The psychologist was very nice.

The one lingering decision for us is around openness/contact with the donor.  D doesn't care if we have contact.  He things that we've been through enough and we just need to move on and not make every step we take perfect.   I feel the same way too, but potentially, I think this is too important to overlook.

I want this door to remain open for our (hopefully) one day child.  I personally don't have a desire to maintain a relationship with the donor, but I do want the option there for our child to reach out to her one day.  For whatever reason, to ask medical questions, or to help sort out some identity questions.  I think it's important.  I recognize that we may have a kid that doesn't care.  But we might also have one that does. Which is why I want the door left open for contact from us.

This part of CCRM's database I find underwhelming.  The nurses have access to whether donors have chosen to be "identity disclosed" as they put it.  But you have to specifically ask for that information with each donor.  To complicate things, right now their database of caucasian donors is surprisingly slim.  (While I would be open to parenting a non-caucasion child through adoption, I think it creates too many questions to be give birth to a child that is not caucasian when both D and I are.)

So I'm left pondering if an agency donor is a smarter choice for us, because there would be more options for openness.  As an added bonus, you can sometimes see a picture of the donor as an adult, which would be nice (but not necessary).   On the other hand, CCRM does have this really nice egg vitrification donor program, where you can get eggs that are already frozen.  That would takes a lot of stress out of things knowing that the eggs are already there, and we wouldn't find a donor that isn't fertile.  We don't want to push our luck with this anymore than we already are.  We see 'egg vit' donors as one less thing to worry about.   Decisions, decisions, decisions.

On a different note, I want to say that I really, genuinely appreciate your support here.  The support in my real world life has been not what I have needed lately.

This is a time where I really feel I need extra support.  These feel like a huge decisions.  And if I'm being real, I'm mourning.  The loss of my genetics is a big loss for me.  It's a loss that I didn't anticipate having to mourn twice in my life.  And you know what? I'm not sure it got much easier the second time around.  I just know what to expect this time.

My sisters in particular have let me down with their support.  I had a talk with D about it.  The one sister is busy starting a new job.  So I get it, she's busy.  But the other sister knows how this process has been so far.  She came to CO with me (which I appreciate tremendously), but afterwards it's been silence from her.  I texted her to let her know the outcome of our embryo testing and IVF.  She sent me a heart and said "that's me sending you my love".  She's a social worker/addictions councillor.  I feel really let down by this.  I move between feeling like I should just be grateful for what she's able to give, and pissed.   This is a huge deal for us.

I also know that if I reach out to her and/or tell her about how I feel about this, that any support she gives me afterwards will feel hollow.  So I keep my mouth shut.  But I find myself feeling resentful and I don't like that either.  What should I do?

So, I come to you, friends.  And for that I truly am grateful.  You are here listening patiently and lovingly. And offering your support and words of advice.  Thank you.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Don't know where to begin

I've thought about this space every single day since my last post.

So much has happened.  I'm going to try to condense it...  

We went to CCRM for IVF.  They were following 7-8 follicles for the egg retrieval.   I stimmed for 14 days.  I thought that I was going to stim for longer, but my estrogen basically flat lined for 2 days and Dr. Schoolcraft decided to do the trigger.  The largest follicle was 18mm.  The rest were in the mid teens.  

We were still hopeful to have a similar number of eggs as we had at our previous clinic (Recap: It was 14 months ago.  They were following 7-8 follicles then, and we ended up being surprised with 11, 6 x  day 5 embryos resulted.  We did not do CCS).    

This time we only ended up with 4 eggs at retrieval.  We had big heavy lumps in our throats that we tried to swallow.  

We crossed our fingers and toes and hoped that they would fertilize and our embabies would be ok. We reminded ourselves of what Dr. Schoolcraft said in the consult.  In our minds, we were only going for 1 normal embryo.  

2 eggs harvested were immature and they tried to mature them in the lab.  We were thankful for this as they would not have been able to do this at our previous clinic.  

After fertilization and maturation of the eggs, we ended up with 1 embryo (from a mature egg) and 1 embryo from an egg that they matured.   Sadly, the embryo from the immature egg arrested on day 5. 

We debated on what do do with the CCS testing.   The doctor had suggested previously that we consider embryo banking if we got less than 4 embryos to test. 

We felt that the result of the IVF was so poor that we didn't know if we wanted to even do it again.   We wanted to talk to Dr. S again but he was unavailable.   We didn't even know what to ask but felt really lost. 

We decided to test the embryo ($6800 - big ouchie).  We did so because we thought that if the embryo was normal it would change our thinking.   Dr. S ordered the arrested embryo to be tested as well.   However, there was not enough material to test. 

The embryo came back with results 2 weeks later.  It was abnormal.  The irregularity was on the 7th chromosome.  The nurse said that chromosomal errors are almost always (95%) due to the egg because of the way that an embryo forms.  (Coles notes: because the eggs are in the woman's body since birth, and the man's sperm is only been formed approximately 90 days prior to ejaculation they are different.  When an egg is fertilized one pair of the chromosomes are shed by the fertilized egg each from the sperm and egg.  The "glue" that holds the two pairs of chromosomes becomes stuck more easily in the egg and is prone to more irregularities.  This is because it has been in the woman's body since birth.  We didn't know this until the CCS class that week at CCRM.  Admittedly, I'm probably butchering their neat and tidy explanation.).  

We were/are very upset that we only got 1 because we feel that the sample size doesn't allow us to know if it indeed would be possible for us to make normal embryos.   

We were preparing for something bad to come as a result from this IVF.  We were imagining creating 6 or more embryos and getting them tested only to be told that they were all abnormal.    We were told by Dr. Schoolie that we'd have a baby or an answer.   Now we have neither.  Kind of. 

Cue a huge emotional response from me and D.  Exhausted.  Exasperated.  Frustrated.  Pissed off.   In shock.  Mad. 

We had a post consult with Dr. Schoolcraft.  We wanted to know what went wrong?  Was it a fluke?  Why was I triggered when I was?  Would a different protocol help?  Does he think we should even attempt IVF again?  Was it because I didn't take the DHEA or testosterone priming this time?  Should we have waited for a higher pre-antrical follicle count?

D reminds me of what we just did.  We just flew across the country,  spent a year doing the work up and waiting for my body to cooperate, and spent $40,000+.  What do we have to show for it?  A substantially poorer result than our local clinic.  And minimal new information. 

We were rational in the regroup, despite feeling otherwise.  Dr. Schoolcraft told us patiently that he doesn't know why this happened.  That it could have just been a bad month.   That my fertility could have declined that much since my last IVF 14 months ago, that my FSH was that bad.   That we could try another protocol but it was the difference between basically switching from "tylenol to aspirin".  He told me I was on the strongest protocol.   He said if we were to do one more IVF he would give us a 20% of taking home a live baby.  If we did donor egg it would be 80%. 

We have been on this portion of our journey since November 2012.  Now, almost a year later after all of the testing and setbacks of the past year, I just feel like I had a bad month.  That I should have taken the DHEA.   I feel ripped off.   

But somehow amidst this turmoil we have made the decision to move on.  To close this door.   It's not a door that's been wide open for us ever anyways.  Maybe there is enough information now to make a decision.    We're tired of chasing the small odds.  We want to be parents. 

We want to have more than one child (in our wildest dreams).  If we spend so long trying to get baby number 1, will that mean that we won't have the chance to have number 2? 

So, on to egg donor we go.   For me, excitedly, but also anxiously. 

It's a weird feeling.   We are now back into thinking about openness and clinics and whether this will work.  

For D it's different.  He doesn't think it will work.  He's tremendously negative about the chance of success.  He wants to move on to traditional adoption but is doing this for me.  I hate it when he says it  won't work.  It feels like a punch in my gut.  No, a punch in my uterus.   

This has to work, doesn't it?  I understand why he thinks this way.   We haven't been on the positive side of many (any?) fertility odds in the past five years.   But I'm not ready to give up seeing his face in my child, or having the experience of pregnancy.  

So, onwards we go.