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Riding the wave

3 Oct

I had my second hcg test yesterday morning.  When I hadn’t heard from them by 4 PM I began to worry that maybe there was something like maybe it was lower, or hadn’t quite doubled.  But they reported good news,  my hcg actually did more than double it jumped from 505 to 1232.

I feel like a surfer who just caught a wave.  How long til the crash?  Or maybe this time will I ride it to the end?  Noone knows.  The one thing I do know is that this rush of good things happening is often very short so I am trying to just live for the moment, grateful for this gift for as long as it lasts.

Since we did chromosomal testing we actually already know the gender. It’s bizarre to know this so early, but we know that if this is the one it’s going to be a little girl.  We ended up with 3 male and 3 female embryos so we could have gone either way, but since we were implanting only one we had to make a choice.  Go little girl, you can do it!

And speaking of family building we have some new additions.  We’ve adopted kittens!  This summer we were kitten foster parent volunteers  and were able to foster ten kittens, a group of 3, then 4, and now 3 again.  From this last batch we are adopting two (or three if we can’t part with the third).  It’s been a wonderful distraction and a lot of fun.  This last group was only 3 weeks old when we picked them up and each was under 1 lb.! 

 

 

 

Here is what they look like today at 9 weeks old.

 

For now these are my babies.  :  )

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Lucky Number Seven

30 Sep

We got good news today!  I tested positive yet again.  This time I skipped the POAS and just went straight to the blood test which showed my hcg has a strong start with a count of 508.   What a welcome phone call that was!   I am trying to contain myself.  I know the odds were against us as we only implanted one, so I am counting myself very very lucky.

We still have a long climb ahead of us, but for now I am just that our little “perfectly chromosomally normal” embryo is happily growing along.  I can’t believe it made it all the way to implantation after all the poking and freezing and thawing it’s been through.  So grateful, so hopeful.  This time little one, I believe in you.  :  )

What’s new

24 Sep

After our last heartbreaking loss, a long break from blogging and a lot of  confusion and soul searching about next steps we are back to trying again.  In August we went ahead with another IVF cycle.   Since we transferred and lost the only two that had tested chromosomally “normal”  back in May we had to start all over again.  We tried a few different things this time hoping for something better.  The two big changes were a new test and a new diet.

For this new cycle we requested chromosomal testing on Day 5/6.  In our first IVF cycle in April we tested on Day 3 (per our Dr.’s recommendation) and since then multiple sources have advised that that type of testing is not reliable.  Even though our IVF Dr. has a lot of confidence in Day 3 testing, he seems to be pretty alone.  The theory is that there just aren’t enough cells on Day 3 to get enough information.  In comparison, on Day 5 there are hundreds of cells and more evidence that the tests are consistant and reliable.  In any case, just surviving to Day 5 is a test of embryo health in itself.  So we agreed to to move ahead for another cycle with the same IVF Dr. but this time with Day 5 testing, which meant that we had to do a frozen transfer instead of fresh stretching the whole process out over multiple months and upping the number of steps, expenses, etc.  The lesson I learned, don’t bother with Day 3 testing.

The second twist we added was a change in my diet.  I gave up gluten, dairy and coffee and followed a pretty strict PCOS diet for the time leading up to the egg retrieval.  Despite all the things I’ve done on this journey, this was by far one of the most intensive.  Since I had a real goal with a deadline I was able to manage it, but it was still very challenging.  In addition to my own natural temptations for all things bready/cakey and creamy it was challenging.   My IVF Dr. recommended “cutting down” on dairy and carbs because of my diagnosis of polycystic ovaries, but it was really my idea to go cold turkey like that.  It was one of the few things I had heard might help so I figured it was about time to try something since I was feeling desperate for any action I could take to up our chances.  Since egg quality and embryo quality are the likely suspects with women of my age it felt actually empowering to do something active and take control of my diet.

It was hard enough on my own, but in social situations, travelling, going out to eat, etc. it became something I had to address.  At first I was really shy about what I was doing, but people got curious and it just made it easier to be up front.  I just said I was giving up dairy and gluten for “fertility-reasons” and that was pretty much all I had to say.  One thing I learned- people love talking about foods they are avoiding and why.  And for the first time friends and family could actually “help” me on this journey by making suggestions for gluten-free, dairy-free alternatives.  So much of this journey I am on my own, so whenever someone voluntarily prepared or offered gluten-free/dairy-free foods (esp. desserts) I was so touched.

So what happened?  At the time of our retrieval we were able to collect 16 eggs, a higher number than our first cycle.  Of these 11 made it to Day 5 for testing.  An astonishing 50% came back as chromosomally normal!  He warned us in advance that we should expect only 30% at the most and I was prepping myself for an even lower number.  So in the end we had a higher number of embryos retrieved, with higher quality (more making it to Day 5) and a whopping 50% normal rate which is statistically way above what you would expect from someone of my age.   With such high numbers we didn’t get any clarification about why we are having so many losses, but it did at least help give us confidence that something is working right and we can put the thoughts of an egg donor to rest for now.  Since the only big change in the protocol from last time to this time is my gluten-free/dairy-free diet, my Dr. is crediting this with upping our numbers and quality and as a result I am (sadly) still on the diet.  Perhaps it was just a coincidence, perhaps it made a difference, who knows…

With 6 embryos banked,  our Dr. recommended that our best chances were still with a surrogate.  However, given that there were more than 2 banked he thought it was reasonable to give my body one last shot at baby making.  So that is where we are.  We transfered a single embryo last Thursday.  Per his recommendation, we didn’t want to waste more than one of our supposedly perfect embryos on my iffy uterus.  It made it out of the thaw ok (something I was worried about) and is hopefully making magic in my nether regions as we speak.  Our first beta is this Sunday and I am praying for some good news.

This second cycle was a lot less dramatic than the first.  I got over my bitterness giving up natural conception, something I thought we had going for us.  And I knew what to expect with the injections and procedures.  Instead of wallowing in “poor  me” I felt like I had matured to just take it and move ahead.  After considering egg donors and surrogates, “conventional” IVF seemed so normal and gave me hope that maybe there was still hope to carry my own genetic baby.  At this moment, both doors are still open and I have been able to delay that decision.  Surrogacy is still out there as an option, (a very complicated and expensive option), but I couldn’t go there without at least giving this one last shot.

On holiday

12 Jun

Thank you for everyone who has been following along.  I admit that my attempt to have a baby story has gone on way longer than I ever could imagine!  I SO appreciate your comments and posts and it means so much to me that you took the time to stop by.  This can be a lonely journey, but it feels a lot less lonely with your company and support.

To help recover from everything and treat ourselves a little Mr. Star and I are taking some time off and going to Maui for a week.  We leave tomorrow morning and I can’t wait!  We are celebrating 9 years together.  Although this is sadly not a baby-moon too, the one positive is that I don’t have a pregnancy (aka impending miscarriage) to stress about, which does make it a more relaxing trip.  Nothing is off limits.  Swimming, hot tubbing, wine, exotic foods (sushi and cheeses),  sex and water sports – all part of a good vacation are back on the menu.

When we get back it will be back to all this stuff again, We are scheduled to meet with two surrogacy agencies after we return.  We found two candidates we actually like!  If you have any surrogacy stories or know of any surrogacy blogs that I should check out, please let me know!  We are still new at this and finding our way around.

I also want to update my blog page.  My husband warned me to use a different image saying that it was bad luck.  He said that since there were 6 starfish, which meant we would have 6 miscarriages (we had only had 3-4 at the time).  Wouldn’t you know it, it came true!  Stay tuned for something new.

Modern Family: Baby on Board

24 May

Last night Modern Family took a big leap that won me over.  When I saw the episode title “Baby on Board” I thought, oh no, this is going to be another one of those sitcoms that makes having a baby look so easy.  The previous episodes hinted that Cam and Mitch were expecting a second baby, but completely glossed over the how part.  I figured they could gloss over this as they had that TV magic that causes babies to appear at the perfect time whenever the plot needs to introduce one.  The same magic that misleads impressionable naive viewers like myself  (pre 2008) into thinking that we too will be able to have a baby easily when we want.

I love the characters Cam and Mitch and I did want their dream to come true, but it seemed totally unrealistic for them to be having such an easy time adopting, twice!  The first baby arrived with almost no explanation as to what they went through.  I figured it was just my bitter infertile side coming out, so I chose to let the episode unfold rather than give in to my cynicism that gets in the way of me enjoying baby/birth-related TV episodes.  Resigned to see yet another couple have a happy ending, even if it seems unrealistic, I found myself totally surprised when the episode took a turn.  As Cam and Mitch were waiting as the birth mother gave birth, out of nowhere the grandmother appears and tells them in Spanish that the adoption is off and she is going to take care of the baby instead, rather than give it to strangers.  What?  Is this the cute and fuzzy sitcom I’ve come to know?  How could they build up the arrival of the new baby and then leave Cam and Mitch empty handed like that?  How could they build this perfect picture and then tear it down?  I was sad for the characters, but I found myself cheering inside.  Seeing mainstream TV characters crying in despair about how hard having a child is and how this just keeps happening to them was incredible.  I felt for that moment that they were speaking for me and for a moment validating and normalizing my everyday crazy talk.  At the same time it disproved the misperception/lie that adopting is an easy plan B as implied by the common phrase non-IFers like to give ” why don’t you just adopt?”.  Maybe after seeing this episode one less person will give that terrible unwelcome advice.

As they were describing their agony I felt for that that brief moment like the mainstream world acknowledged and recognized the grief and frustration of what setbacks to family building feel like.   Adoption loss, pregnancy loss, infertility- those of us experiencing these things can all relate to being angry, sad, frustrated, stressed out and beat up by this exhausting and demanding process that seems to take everything we have.  Ultimately I want to give kudos to the writers for forgoing the easy crowd pleasing baby arrival and keeping it real.  You guys get it.

Funny Friday- Check out these TITS!

13 Jan


“TITS” is a popular chain clothing store in Uruguay.  How funny is that?  We saw several during our trip.

Tales from my High School Reunion

30 Nov

So last Saturday was my 20th high school reunion back in Boston and after MUCH debate on whether or not to go I took the leap.  The tipping point was that Mr. Star actually said that he wanted to go.  In his words “I want to meet all these losers you went to school with” (smirk).   I warned him that I wouldn’t know anyone and it would be totally lame, but figured I’d go since I missed the last two and happened to be in the area for Thanksgiving.  To my complete surprise it was actually a blast.  My worries were completely unfounded.  I felt genuinely happy to see folks and they seemed to be happy to see me.   20 years later it was hard to remember and recognize anyone, never mind worry about social awkwardness and competitiveness.  I didn’t expect the familiar feelings and warmth that filled me.  People I thought I’d hate to see because of whatever grudges from years ago, I actually was thrilled to see and magically could only think of our positive memories.  It helped that we were all well supplied with drinks and it seemed like people had already gone way past the inhibition state by the time I arrived.

What I learned was that just walking in the door I sent the message to my classmates that were there that they mattered enough for me to show up.  I had no idea how grateful people (some I barely remembered) would be to see me.  When we did get to talking I felt an instant level of acceptance and understanding that was completely surprising.

When they did ask about children I didn’t break or fall apart as I’d feared.  I’d seen their Facebook profile pics choc full of kids.  Since it was SO loud in that room I had to yell it like this -“NO KIDS, HOW ABOUT YOU?!”  I got a surprised look back and it seemed like people were eager to change the subject afterwards.  I am sure we were the only couple there that didn’t have at least one.  By age 38, that is kind of what people expect.  Many of my classmates had 3 or more.  One of my classmates told me she had 5 boys!  At the time I was genuinely happy for them, but you know how that stuff feels as it marinates in your brain for a day.  It stings.  I wanted to answer differently and they wanted to hear that I too had kids and that we had that in common.  It was just weird.  But we didn’t have time to dwell since we were mingling among so many people.

Now that a few days have past I look back and feel really proud, like I climbed a mountain.  Despite all my insecurities I lived through my 20th high school reunion and even enjoyed it.   Hopefully I’ll have some better news about new family members by our 25th.  ;  )