Archive | May, 2015

symptoms?

31 May

Last night I had a dream that I was with my nephew Aly, who is 20 months old, and his nose was running. Every time I would wipe it, it would run more. It was this thick, green snot and it was utterly disgusting. And I was pregnant in my dream. So, the snot made me very nauseous and when I would wipe his nose, I would projectile vomit at the same time. So, his nose would run, I would wipe it, I would puke, and it just went round and round.

Also, last night before I went to bed I had a strong craving for brownies. I NEVER crave chocolate. I don’t even like chocolate that much. Luckily, I had a box mix of brownies so I whipped it together and after it came out of the oven, I proceeded to eat half the pan. Don’t judge me.

All my symptoms sure do make it seem like I am pregnant and I feel like I am pregnant, but at the same time I am hoping it is not all in my head.

I should know very soon though.

I continue to be amazed and overwhelmed at the amount of support and prayer we are receiving. I am blessed by each one of you who reaches out to me with encouragement and caring words. Thank you for following our journey.

I’ll write soon.

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the two week wait

29 May

Well, I didn’t really know what to anticipate in this waiting period. My thought was that it probably wouldn’t seem like a big deal. I mean I have been waiting for years, what’s another couple weeks, right?

And initially, that was true. Well, it’s still true for the most part. But, last week was definitely easier than this week. My transfer was on a Monday and we flew to Seattle on Thursday to meet our 7 week old niece and spend time with her mom, Arturo’s sister, and his brother who flew in from Nebraska as well. We were there for almost 5 days and we kept so busy that I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on the results of my upcoming blood test. It was a great trip. Our niece is such a good baby and we fell in love with her right away.

Seeing Arturo with a baby always tugs at my heart strings. He is so good with babies and loves them so much. It makes me want to give him a baby of his own even that much more. The look in his eyes, the look of pure contentment. It makes me love him so much more than I already do.

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I started to have some new symptoms while we were there. I had a strong metallic taste in my mouth one day, but it went away the next day. I started peeing pretty frequently. I especially notice it at night. I have been waking up 3 or 4 times a night to go. My breasts are very sore. Since we got home, I have also noticed some nausea, but no vomiting. Also, I have had a runny nose. I woke up yesterday and the first thing on my mind was that I had to have hummus. I didn’t have any in the house, so I drove to the store to get some. One of those things where I knew I could not live without it.

The problem is that I don’t know how many of these symptoms are actual pregnancy symptoms and how many of them are side effects of the injections I am still doing. I am trying not to obsess over them, but it is getting harder every day.

Normally , I would be expecting the worst. I wouldn’t want to get my hopes up for fear of being crushed. However, I am not feeling that way at all. I am feeling very hopeful and mostly very calm. I am not planning to take a home pregnancy test and I am actually not even feeling tempted to do so.

My biggest complaint is these shots. My butt is so sore and it gets worse every day. I am mostly looking forward to them telling me I am far enough along in my pregnancy that I can quit them.

My friend Crystal saw another double rainbow earlier this week and I am having a really hard time believing that all these double rainbow sightings could be coincidence. I believe they are so much more than that. I believe God wants me to know that He is going to keep His promises to me. I believe I am pregnant and I am not going to let myself doubt that belief. I believe in a God who can do miracles and that IVF is definitely one of those miracles.

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So, overall I think the wait is going pretty good for me. Just a couple more days until my blood test. I can make it, right?

transfer

20 May

My transfer went very well. It was an amazing experience actually.

My friend Crystal came with me. What a blessing that was for her to take the day off to be with me.

We had lunch beforehand. I had planned to buy her lunch for coming with me. When we went to pay, the restaurant’s card reader wasn’t working correctly. She tried to run the card a couple times and then said, “Don’t worry about it. I comped your meal. Enjoy.” I was so surprised and really grateful. It could only be the start to an amazing day, right?

I decided that I have the world’s largest bladder. I had two glasses of water before we left my house, three glasses of fluid with lunch, two water bottles when we got to the clinic, and I still didn’t have to pee yet. I drank one more big glass of water and hoped that would do the trick. They want your bladder uncomfortably full for the transfer because it will press down the uterus into the position that is best for a straight shot in for baby.

Dr.  Magarelli came in before they took me back to the procedure room to tell me that my embryo had a 100% thaw rate, meaning all the cells made it through the thaw! So exciting! He also mentioned again that this embryo could split and become twins and for that reason and because we would not consider selective reduction , he agreed we were making the best decision to only transfer one at a time.

I felt really calm and really excited for the transfer. When they took me back to the procedure room, I did get a little nervous at first. They put the ultrasound wand on my belly to check if my bladder was full and they couldn’t figure out how to use the machine lol. They had the PA, one Doctor, and one nurse trying to figure it out. I’m like… Seriously? This is not giving me much confidence in you guys right now. But, eventually they figured it out and I calmed down.

I actually got a little teary during the whole thing because I was just feeling so happy and overwhelmed by the miracle of what was happening.

One of the Doctors and the PA got me all prepped and then in came Dr. Magarelli for the transfer. He is very cheery and so positive, definitely made it a very good atmosphere for a procedure as important as this was.

He said he was going to be transferring one beautiful Queen embryo into me.

Crystal and I watched on the screen as they put baby into my womb. I love the way Crystal described it. My bladder was on top and it was sort of arched. Then underneath that, all of a sudden, there came this bright light on the screen. It was baby. And she said it looked like a star underneath a rainbow. Such a beautiful way to describe it.

When the procedure was done, all the people in the room yelled together, “Get pregnant Amanda!” It was pretty cool.

Right after that, Dr.  Magarelli handed me a picture of the embryo they had transferred and said,  “Here’s Lucia!” I told him I had already nicknamed that embryo Gertrude. Everyone laughed. I thought it was interesting that he and I both gave the same embryo a female name. Maybe it will be a girl?

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They had me lay still on the table for about 15 minutes and then they let me get up to relieve my bladder and dress to go home.

They told me to “chill” for 24 hours, not strict bedrest, but just take it easy. No cooking, no cleaning. And I decided not to work last night. I maybe could have, but this is a $10,000 baby and I figured baby is more important than my 8 hour shift.

So, now I am at the beginning of the two week wait. We are going on vacation this week so that should help keep my mind off it for a few days. I mostly just want to stay as positive as I can.

Praying that baby is implanting and we will have a positive pregnancy test soon! I am believing I am pregnant until they tell me I’m not!

tomorrow!!

17 May

Annie has been singing I  my head all day… “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow! You’re only a day away!”

Tomorrow is transfer day! I am excited to say the least!

It is weird that I haven’t been to the Dr. since Wednesday. When the PA called me Wednesday afternoon with all my instructions for the injections and scheduled the time for transfer, I asked her if she was sure she didn’t need me to come back for blood work at all before then. She said I didn’t need to. It made me a little nervous. What if my hormone levels drop before then? She said they won’t.

So, on Wednesday, I started progesterone injections. They have to be given in my backside and much as I try, I just can’t reach. So, I have Arturo giving them. The first day it hurt pretty bad. The second day was a little better. But, then, I got smart and iced my backside before the shot. So, Friday’s shot was awesome. I felt the needle prick the skin, but just slightly and no burning! We did that again yesterday too. Works like a charm!

I will continue giving progesterone injections daily and estradiol injections 2 times/week until about six weeks pregnant.

Arturo has to work tomorrow so my very good friend is going with me for transfer. I have to be there at 12:15 and transfer will happen around 1:00. They said to come with my bladder half full and bring a water bottle. They will have me drink water until my bladder is full and then they will do the transfer.

I am feeling so hopeful and very calm. I believe that no matter what happens, God is taking care of us and I don’t need to be anxious.

The hard part is going to be the two week wait. I am praying that it goes fast!

facing new feelings

13 May

This past weekend was Mother’s Day. I am happy to say that this is the first Mother’s Day since the loss of Angel that I haven’t been consumed by grief, but it is also confusing for me.

May has been such a hard month for me the past couple of years. In 2012, I celebrated Mother’s Day, pregnant and blissfully unaware that our baby was sick. A few weeks later, on May 21st, I had a dream that our baby was dead. On May 22nd, I went to an ultrasound and was told that there was a problem, but they were unsure what it was. On the 23rd, I met with a specialist who advised me that our baby would not live outside the womb and that he maybe wouldn’t survive to birth at all.

In May of 2013, I did not want to think or feel anything. I buried myself in work. I tried to stay at work as much and as often as I could. I worked almost 7 days a week, 14-16 hour days. This avoidance was okay, until my work slowed down and I was all of a sudden hit with emotions that I had been pushing to the side for a whole month. It was really overwhelming.

In May of 2014, I was unemployed. We had just moved to Colorado and while I was starting a job soon, I could not use that as a place of hiding. It was the exact opposite as the previous year. I had to face my emotions and I felt really desperate and afraid and like all my hope was gone.

Coming up to May this year, I have felt a range of emotions. I am obviously excited for what the future holds for us as parents. We have been very proactive in moving forward with our dreams of being parents and are feeling optimistic that God is going to provide a baby or child in our home soon.

But, as I realized that my embryo transfer would be happening this month, in May of all months, I started to feel something I wasn’t prepared for. The closer I get to realizing my dream of being pregnant, I start to have this feeling that by having another baby, I am betraying Angel in some kind of way. I have no idea how to explain it and I know that it doesn’t make any sense. But, I have been feeling it. Maybe I wouldn’t have this feeling if it wasn’t happening now, in May.

Because for the past couple of years, May has been about everything I have lost; my pain, my sorrow, my anger, my fear. And, now it could be about something else. It could hold promise and new life and joy and peace. And, if I allow myself to feel good things, am I abandoning the feelings that losing Angel has filled me with? It’s as though I am struggling against letting myself feel joy and hope for a future.

I know it’s not logical for me to feel this way. I know that no one expects me to stay in mourning for my son for the rest of my life, and to be devastated every year for the whole month of May. I guess I have expected it of myself.

I also wasn’t as prepared as I thought I would be for the possibility of another child. This brings up another whole range of emotions that I am going to have to process through very soon.

On the 9th, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, Arturo and I worked outside preparing our garden for plants. The weather was pretty horrible. It rained and hailed for much of the day. We went into the house when the rain came down too hard. When the sun started to come out in the afternoon, Arturo pointed out the front window and there was a double rainbow in the sky. I’m sure you understand how that filled me with hope. I mean seriously, not one rainbow, but two!

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Thank you Lord for the reminder that You will keep Your promises to me. And also, the rainbow reminded me that even if this next phase of our lives is scary, and I’m sure it will be, He is going to walk through it with me. I just need to keep trusting Him and looking to Him no matter what happens.

On Mother’s Day, the weather was much nicer and we planted the garden. I thought about that garden some since then. Planting a garden takes hope and trust. I do not know what will happen with it. Will I get the crop I desire? How long will it take? Will the whole garden die? Do I even know how to take care of a garden? Not really. But, I’m going to do my best and wait expectantly.

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My trial transfer went very well on the 8th. My ultrasound shows that my uterus lining is at the thickness it needs to be for transfer. I went home from the Doctor that day very pleased and went to sleep. I woke up to a voicemail message from the nurse saying that the Doctor wanted me to come back in on Monday the 11th for another appointment. She didn’t say why. I wasn’t scheduled to go in again until the 13th (so today). I am proud to say that I didn’t spend the whole weekend worrying. I also didn’t assume the worst. Actually, my first thought was that my labs must have been so good they were going to move my transfer up a couple of days.

Well, Monday morning came and I was wrong. My estrogen levels were not going up like they wanted them to and that was why they had me come in for more labs. Again, they confirmed that my uterus lining looks great and said that I would receive a call later that day if they wanted me to do an extra Estraidol injection.

I went home and went to sleep and again woke up from a voicemail message from the nurse stating that they did want me to do an extra injection because my levels were not going up yet and that they wanted me to come back again on Tuesday for more labs.

I immediately prayed and released this to God. I felt such a peace in doing that. And, I knew that if my levels did not go up like they wanted them to, that just meant that God had a different plan for a different month for transfer that would be even better.

On Tuesday, after my labs, and after my sleep, I had a voicemail from the nurse saying that my Estrogen levels are finally going up to where they want them to be. Praise God. So, I should be back on track for my Monday transfer. I will probably know more after today’s appointment and lab results, but I am not worried. God is in control and He knows what is best.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

april showers bring may flowers

8 May

April has 30 days, but this year, it felt like 300 days. Now that I knew we had 3 embryos waiting for transfer, I just wanted May to be here! But, yet again, I found myself waiting. Of course, April wasn’t nearly as busy a month for us, so I had a lot more time to obsess and think about the upcoming transfer. We did have our last adoption training in April, but it was only 4 hours, so that didn’t take up very much time.

I started my period on April 4th and started birth control again on cycle day 3. Then, I spent the next week or so waiting for more information from the Doctor’s office. I was having a very hard time believing that we were so close to the result that we desired, a healthy baby that we could bring home from the hospital. I have been so disappointed for so long, it seems pointless to get my hopes up for something that never comes. That might sound terrible, but it’s my human nature, and it’s the truth.

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On April 10th, I got two important things from my Dr.’s office.

First, I got an e-mail with my May calendar, detailing when my appointments would be and when I would be doing injections of Estraidol and Progesterone. I was to go in for my baseline ultrasound and labs on May 4th and then pending those results, I would start Estraidol injections the same day. (Everything was good at that appointment, so I started the injections this past Monday.) I will do injections of that medication 2 times per week. I go in on May 8th for my trial transfer (so today) and more labs. They explained to me that they will basically be creating a road map for when the Dr. does the actual transfer on the 18th of May. It shouldn’t be painful at all. Next week, I go back to the Dr. on the 13th for more labs and ultrasound and then pending those results, I will start injections of Progesterone and do that medication daily. And, that’s it for the medications. Much simpler this time for the transfer than for the actual IVF process.

Second, and probably the most exciting piece of mail I have ever gotten, was a report from the embryologist with pictures of our embryos!! I instantly felt a bond to them. They are my babies!! I had been praying for them and for my uterus daily, but having pictures to look at while I pray made it seem so much more real. And, it took all the science out of it for me. It is such a miracle that God has given Doctors this knowledge to be able to create life in this way, but sometimes it seems so removed from the spiritual. Seeing those pictures reminded me of the miracle and that they are not “embryos.” They are babies. They are human life.

Our babies’ first pictures.

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When I text a picture of them to my dad, he responded with, “I pray for these unborn daily.” Have I mentioned how blessed we are with praying parents? I know I have. But, I don’t say it enough.

The rest of the month of April, I just waited. And in that waiting, I began to be very convicted about my attitude. I mentioned above that I have not wanted to face anymore disappointment and that I have been afraid to get my hopes up. I realized that God does NOT want me to live in defeat. I was reminded of something that Arturo said to me all the way back when I was pregnant with Angel and struggling to feel hopeful then as well.

He said that it is like running a race. He said that if you decide you are going to run a race and you train for that race expecting to lose, then you will. But, if you expect to win, then the victory will be so sweet. While, if you lose, at least you know you gave it your best and you have no reason to be disappointed in yourself.

Also, this month, in three different ways, I have had it confirmed to me that God just wants me to trust Him. No matter what happens, He wants me to have joy. And that joy should not come from outward circumstances. The joy of the Lord should be inside me and I should be able to draw on that no matter what difficulties life may bring. I needed to change my perspective.

This past weekend, our Pastor (Charlie Jones) began a new sermon series titled, “Promises in the Desert.” He spoke about the Israelites and their attitude in the desert. The thing he said in that message that convicted me the most, hit me square between the eyes, was this.

What if the season in your life that you hate the most, detest the most, is the place that God has you in order to take you to the Promised Land? What if it produces the crop in you that you so desperately need?

When we’re in the desert, complaining can seem normal. But, what does our complaining say about how we feel about God? Does it say we trust Him? Pastor Charlie said it is as though we reject the Lord with our complaining. He said God had the Israelites in the desert for 40 years because He wanted to root out their critical nature before they went into the Promised Land.

We don’t get to choose our desert experiences, but we DO get to choose how we respond to them. I want to respond with faith and trust and not with complaining and cynicism. I want to be filled with joy in the desert and know that in all things God is working in my life.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I am claiming these truths over my life, over my marriage, over my unborn babies lives, and over the lives of any children that God would bring into our home through foster care and adoption.  I praise Him not only for what He has done and for what He will do, but simply for who He is.

ivf diaries – egg retrieval

5 May

I left off in the story just days before my egg retrieval. I want to start by saying that after going through this procedure, I have the highest respect for women who donate eggs. To volunteer yourself to go through this pain to help others have babies, is very humbling for me. I do not know if I would put myself in a similar situation to help others. I hope that I would, but it has definitely had me thinking about my servant heart and if I am doing enough.

My last day of injections was March 22, 2015. Then, I had one day that was injection free. Woohoo! Freedom! On the 22nd, I did all my regular medications, the 10 units of Lupron, 75 units of Bravelle, and 150 units of Menopur. I also did the HCG shot, or “trigger shot”. This had to be done at a very specific time of 10:30 pm. I was working at that time so I had to be very careful to not miss the time that they told me to do the shot. HCG is a drug that stimulates the final maturation of the eggs. If it is given too early, few, if any eggs will be mature. If it is given too late, the eggs may be too mature. It should be given 34-36 hours before the egg retrieval.

On the 23rd, I had to go in one last time for labs. Also, on that day, they let me return the two unopened boxes of Menopur and issued me a refund of $805.00. That was a huge blessing!

Labs were pretty funny that day. Well, now, it is funny. That day, not so much.

One of the nurses tried to draw my blood and missed and then she got really flustered. She didn’t want to try again, so she had a different nurse come try, who also missed. Then, the two of them stood over me tirelessly trying to decide where to poke me, when finally the lab lady came along and got me on her first poke.

This was not too comforting knowing that the very next day, those same nurses were going to be the ones to try and start an IV on me. It left me with some anxiety to say the least.

Arturo and I had to be at the clinic at 8:00 am on the morning of March 24th. Arturo had to give a sample and then my procedure was scheduled for 9:30 am.

From my journal on 3/29/15.

A lot has happened…

I had my retrieval on the 24th. First of all, starting the IV, always a very hard thing with me. I really hate that. The first nurse took a look at my veins and refused to try. She went and got another nurse who right away said she didn’t think she would be able to get it started…but tried anyway. She missed of course and then she went and got the anesthesiologist. He missed the first 3 times he tried, but did eventually get one started on the inside of my left wrist. Yuck. They put me in an arm board and I said a prayer that it wouldn’t blow.

I was completely under for the procedure, don’t remember a thing. So, that is good. I love it when anesthesia does what it is supposed to do.  Also, my IV held for the entire time, so that is great!

When I came to, I was in excruciating pain in my abdomen and I had Angel on my mind. I was crying and telling them that I wished Angel was here but that he was looking over us and that everything was going to be OK. I don’t know if I was dreaming about him while I was under? Or did I have a vision?

They told me right away that they had retrieved 13 eggs. That number was disappointing to me. They had made it seem like from my ultrasounds leading up to the procedure, they would be able to retrieve at least 20. The nurse said that they had wanted to retrieve more, but they were having to push very hard on my abdomen and so they quit. That kind of upset me. If I was going through this, I wished they would have gotten all the eggs that were there.

But, that was why they said my pain was so bad, because of all the pushing they had to do. It took them awhile to get my pain under control. They gave me a shot of Zofran for nausea and Toradol for pain. They had me drink some juice and eat some crackers. Once they were sure I was going to keep it down, they let me take a pain pill and go home.

I slept most of the afternoon and I didn’t work that night. I had planned to work the next night, but the nurse advised that I shouldn’t, so I took that night off too.  Arturo brought me comfort food, macaroni and cheese from Noodles and Company.

The PA called me the day after the retrieval and said that one of my eggs was too mature, so they were able to use 12. Of those 12, only 6 fertilized. She was pretty negative in her telling of it. She said that is a pretty big drop and they didn’t expect that. It had me pretty upset and worried that we weren’t going to have good results and then even more upset that they hadn’t worked harder to retrieve more eggs. We can’t do this again. We just don’t have the money.

So, after talking about it with Arturo, praying, and doing some reading on the internet, it seemed like 6 was a pretty good/average number and I shouldn’t be worried.

The PA called me back today and she was much more encouraging. She started the conversation with, “I have some great news.” She said 3 of our embryos made it to blastocyst stage and they would be freezing them. She explained that each blastocyst could potentially be twins, and so we would probably only want to transfer 1 and save 2. She said when I get my period in April, I will start birth control again, and then injections after that in May. My transfer will happen in the middle of May.

I prayed that God would give us at least 3, and He did. Praise Jesus!

My abdomen is still very sore and uncomfortable. I am hoping it eases up soon. I have been using the heating pad almost non-stop. I took more pain pills after this procedure than I did when I was recovering from my C-section. I hate taking pain pills, but I have definitely needed them.

The egg retrieval is performed through vaginal ultrasound. They insert a needle into the ovaries and extract the fluid and eggs from each follicle.

If you are wondering why we did not do a “fresh” transfer it is because my Dr. has done research and studied research that has proven that the results of the transfer working are higher in a frozen embryo transfer than in a fresh transfer. According to his research the odds of ongoing pregnancy, after heart beat is detected, were 30% higher in frozen transfer versus fresh. Also, odds of miscarriage were 17% lower in frozen embryo transfer versus fresh transfer. I like those odds. And I trust his research, so we will do what he says.

I know I mentioned that I was upset about them not getting more eggs. But, I’m not anymore. I do really trust everyone on Dr. Magarelli’s staff and I know that they are going to do everything they can to help us have a baby.

So, that is where we are. April was a month of waiting. We are used to waiting. But, I have learned a lot in this past month about how I should be waiting as opposed to how I have been waiting. I’ll explain what I mean in my next post.

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If you are praying for us, pray for our 3 embryos and pray for my body to receive the transfer.

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