Thursday, July 24, 2014

IVF Blessings

Stage 1 of IVF is complete and we couldn't be more thrilled to have it behind us!  It's hard to believe that for the last 12+ months we knew we'd have to go the IVF route so that was often the bulk of our conversations and now the main portion of it is finished.  What a relief!  I am so happy we chose to do a cycle before our trip to Europe.  It is so comforting having a clearer picture of our future and I know I will be able to relax and have a more enjoyable trip now that our cycle is in the past.

All the details of our cycle are in the "IVF Journal" tab so I'm not going to share many of them here but I will recap this crazy ride we've been on the last 6ish weeks.  After regulating my body with birth control for a few weeks I started my first shot--Lupron.  Lupron keeps your body from releasing your eggs so they can collect as many as possible during the retrieval.  I was super anal about giving myself the Lupron right on time otherwise I'd have these visions of all of my eggs flying out of my body.  Haha.  Overall, the Lupron wasn't a big deal at all.  The needle was tiny and I didn't feel too many side effects from it.  Physically I handled the Lupron just fine but man was it rough on my emotions!  Poor Logan hadn't seen me that hormonal in a long time and he was such a champ with it all.

After taking the Lupron for two weeks, I added two more shots--Gonal F and Menopur.  Both of these meds stimulate your body and help the eggs get ready for retrieval.  Gonal F was simple and Menopur stung a little but overall wasn't a big deal at all.  Each of the three shots individually were just fine but it got old giving myself three shots every night pretty quick.  The bruises on my stomach are almost all gone though so that's happy!  The first five or so days of giving myself three shots weren't too bad but by the time my egg retrieval came around I was feeling pretty uncomfortable.  My doctor warned us that I would probably stimulate quickly and that I was also at risk for hyperstimulation so I wasn't too surprised when it happened but that didn't make it any easier to handle.  For about ten days after my retrieval it was a roller coaster of feeling sore and nauseous but I'm pretty sure I've turned a corner for good and feel myself again!

Now for the exciting news: Logan and I were incredibly blessed throughout this cycle.  We have had such positive results and know that all of the prayers that were said on our behalf made a huge difference.  26 eggs were retrieved, 14 of those eggs were mature, 13 of them fertilized and 8 made it to the ideal blastocyst stage where they could be biopsied for testing and then frozen.  We were so thrilled when we got the call telling us that 8 of our embryos would be tested because we knew we had a good chance of having a few healthy embryos frozen for future transfers.  There is a 25% chance of recurrence with SCID so we expected at least 2 to be affected which would leave us with 6 and then we figured a couple more would have some other genetic condition that they were testing for.  4-5 healthy embryos is what I hoped for and would have made us happier than we can describe.  

I should have known better than to set such concrete numbers in my mind because that often leads to disappointment when it really shouldn't.  Yesterday the clinic called and told us that of the 8 embryos, 3 are recommended for transfer because they are SCID free and chromosomally normal.  I was shocked that 5 of our 8 embryos weren't viable and would have to be discarded.  Initially I was pretty discouraged that less than half of our embryos could be used.  2 of the 8 have SCID (exactly 25%) and 3 others have missing or extra chromosomes which would have lead to a different genetic condition or would have stopped the pregnancy from taking altogether.  After allowing the information to sink in I started to realize the endless number of blessings that came from this cycle despite not getting as many embryos as I hoped.  We have 3 embryos that will hopefully turn in to 3 healthy babies!  I know perfectly well that 3 is better than 2 or 1 or 0 so if those are my options then I will absolutely take 3.  I know many people that have done multiple cycles and never gotten any embryos or the embryos they did get weren't great quality.  Our 3 embryos are all grade B2 which is really good (B1 is the highest grade).  It is such a blessing that our doctor encouraged us to pay for the extra testing (PGS) otherwise we would have saved those 3 embryos with missing or extra chromosomes and either had unsuccessful transfers or other genetic conditions to deal with.

Because we did genetic testing, the lab and clinic know the gender of all of our embryos and asked us if we wanted to know what they were.  I'm so glad they asked before just telling us because we definitely didn't want to know.  Many people I talk to are surprised we don't want to know but it just doesn't feel right knowing to me.  I feel like we know as much as we need to as far as the SCID goes so I don't want to know any more than that.  If we changed our mind they can tell us at any time but I like the idea of finding out just like everyone else during an ultra sound a few months into the pregnancy.

We get the same two questions pretty often so I will do my best to answer them here for anyone that's curious.  1) When are you going to do a transfer?  I can honestly say we don't have a date yet.  We didn't want to plan anything too definitive until we knew whether or not we have any healthy embryos.  Now that the cycle is behind us and we know that we have some healthy embryos ready and waiting, we can start discussing a transfer.  We want to go to Europe and not worry about any of that and just enjoy our trip and then we'll probably start thinking about it.  Each of these steps we've taken with IVF have been a huge hurdle in the healing process and obviously having a baby is going to be the biggest one yet.  We are going to take our time with all of it and not rush each other and when it feels right we will move ahead. 2) Since you'll be transferring multiple embryos, does that mean you'll have twins?  Let me clarify something: We will NOT be transferring multiple embryos.  Our doctor strongly encourages SET (Single Embryo Transfer) because fortunately we have strong embryos.  Obviously a transfer is not guaranteed and there's a possibility it doesn't work but we will only ever transfer one embryo at a time.  So, to answer that question, we still have a possibility of having twins just like anyone else because the embryo we implant could divide but we will not be transferring multiple embryos.  As fun as twins would be, we wouldn't choose to take on that task!

 Looking back, the cycle went way faster than I thought it would and overall was much easier than I expected.  The shots went really smooth so that was a pleasant surprise and I felt much more patient than I anticipated so that was a huge blessing as well.  I knew it would be important to have Logan's support during all of this but I had no idea how helpless I would have been without him!  We took turns giving me the shots, he was by my side every time I threw up, he hugged me when my emotions got the best of me and he has taken such good care of me during my recovery.  This cycle was absolutely just as much about Logan as it has been about me and I'm so grateful we've been able to experience it together.  Thanks, babe, for all you've done an continue to do for me and our little family!

Many, many thanks for all of the prayers and support we received during this crazy ride!  Logan and I couldn't do it without each of you cheering us on.  We know many couples that have chosen the same IVF route as us with not nearly as much success so we are completely aware of how blessed and fortunate we are to have had these positive results.  Thank you for traveling this journey with us!

Ps...I just realized this is a LONG post without any pictures!  For some odd reason I didn't take a single picture during all of this.  One of my friends videoed my first shot which I will try to post but other than that I don't have anything to show.  Fortunately I kept good written notes of everything that happened!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth of July

What a fun holiday!  I love all holidays but the 4th always seems to be one of many peoples' favorites, including mine!  My oldest brother's birthday is on the 4th but unfortunately he lives in Minnesota so we weren't able to celebrate with him.  I hope you had a happy birthday, Paul!  We miss you and can't wait to see you in a couple weeks!  Like a lot of you, our day was busy from the moment we woke up bright and early for the parade to the minute we went to bed after fireworks sometime around midnight but it was all so much fun and definitely worth it!

I have to admit, this holiday was one of the toughest for me since Eli passed away.  I know Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays are bigger deals than the 4th of July but most of you know that I loved dressing Eli in new outfits and the fourth is the perfect opportunity to do just that.  Last year when he was still in the hospital I bought him the most adorable outfit (shoes included!) online hoping he'd be home or at least able to wear it but unfortunately that didn't work out.  I saw some of the cutest little outfits I could have put him in this year so it was definitely a tear jerker for me but I made it through and all is well :) I was able to see pictures of some pretty stinkin cute kids in their outfits so luckily I got my fill!

Logan and I woke up early so we could make it to the Murray parade with his family.  Moving out of Murray has made me appreciate the parade so much more because I hear so many people that live in other cities talk about how they don't have a parade or how small theirs is.  We were happy to go back!

After the parade we went out to breakfast with Logan's family and it was delicious!  Following breakfast (which really happened closer to lunch time) we visited our little man at the cemetery and put flags near his headstone.  I love visiting Eli any time but holidays are extra special.  After visiting the cemetery we went to see How To Train Your Dragon 2 with Logan's family.  I wasn't a huge fan of the first one but I thought the second one was great!  I would love to have that one in our collection at some point.

After the movie we met up with my family at the home of some of our dearest friends for a BBQ and swimming in their pool.  Later that night we all went over to the fireworks in Holladay and they were actually quite impressive!  The song choices were a little odd but the fireworks were really long so we loved it.  For some reason I didn't take a single picture but we had a blast.  There's something so great about spending quality time with friends you've known since the day you were born.  We had such a good time and are so grateful to the Neff family for being so wonderful to us.  We sure love you guys!  

Late Friday night my brother's wife Staci went into labor just a couple days past 36 weeks.  Around 10:00am on Saturday morning they did a C-Section and their little Liam Blake was born happy and healthy at 6lb 2oz and 18in long!  He is doing so well and we couldn't be more grateful and excited to welcome a new member to our family!

Lily loves Liam already and is going to be a great big sister!

This little guy's name is pretty special.   My brother Blake served his mission in Ireland and most of you probably know that Liam is Irish for William, which is my dad's name, so it has always been one of Blake's and Staci's favorites.  Congrats to you both!  We are so happy for you and love that little man to pieces already!