IUI #1

And Now We Wait

Labs showed that my LH was not surging yet, so I was instructed by the RE to trigger at 10pm Friday night and arrive at 10 am Sunday morning for the IUI. Friday evening K and I went out to see a Halloween double feature of Hocus Pocus and Beetlejuice at a local historic theatre. Outside there were handlers from a wild bird sanctuary who had some type of vulture, an owl and a raven. They were SO COOL! I wanted to hold one so bad but we were late. K hurried us in (she’s definitely better at managing time than I am) and we found our friends.

At 10 pm, just after intermission I snuck off to the bathroom and did my trigger shot. Now, I know that for many women going through this process the shots are a very traumatic thing but I used to take Copaxone for MS. It was a daily shot and it HURT. I’m not talking about the tiny sting of the needle going in I’m talking swelling, redness, pain, heat, itching… it was like getting stung by a bee every night. Every. single. night. For over 2 years until the medication no longer worked for me and I switched to something else– an oral med. So to me these trigger shots are a piece of cake. Aside from the needle going in and the slight pinch from that they don’t hurt or cause any reaction. It’s truly a revelation every time I take one that not all shots are as awful as Copaxone.

Anywho, Sunday I started getting the stirrings of baseball gonads (that feeling where your abdomen swells and your insides feel like they blew up like a balloon from the trigger shot) on the way to the clinic, so I think that means the timing was good. The actual IUI was pretty easy and on par with a pap smear, though I felt that the placement of the speculum was slightly more uncomfortable and the tube they pass through the cervix was slightly reminiscent of the HSG. Luckily the whole thing lasted maybe 5 minutes and it was over.

Now we wait.

I’ve got some wonderful friends sending all the woo, manifestations, thoughts, prayers, intentions, etc. my way.ย With any luck this will be the one. ๐Ÿ™‚

IUI #1

Go Time

Ok, so I know I promised an update when the labs came back… I am just seeing them today for the first time. UGH! I have no clue what took so long. Anywho, here they are:

AMH: 1.41

LH: 6

FSH 7.5

Estradiol: 38.3

My AMH has dropped from 2.66 to 1.41 since February, but it’s still a good number for my age, better than average, and indicates that I have good ovarian reserve. Whew! The RE also said that the AMH number will fluctuate and since we are still over 1 she is not concerned with the number.

I also had my ultrasound to check my follicles and I have 2 mature follicles and one smaller one. Given that, I am scheduled for IUI this Sunday at 10am. Unless the labs they drew today show that my LH is surging, in which case I will have the IUI TOMORROW!!!

I’m excited. And K, who is notoriously anxious and scared over big things actually gave me a hug and squealed with excitement. For her, that’s a big deal. Big decisions take her a long time to get comfortable with. I’m so glad she’s here with me for this right now. I’ve been a little bit nervous that we were pushing forward for something that I wanted and she didn’t. Even though we talk about it and she tells me she wants a baby too sometimes I feel unsure because she is scared. It just felt good to see her excited too. Alright, well that’s the update– tomorrow or Sunday is the day. Hopefully it works!

 

 

Assisted Reproduction Technology · Multiple Sclerosis

CD 3 and a Kinda Sorta Decision

It’s a new cycle. K and I have analyzed and wracked our brains. We have crunched numbers and played out infinite hypothetical situations. We are stumped. If money was no issue then we would go with IVF all the way. So today I will go get my usual CD 1-3 ultrasound and the RE will be redrawing my labs to see if anything has changed that might point us in one direction over another. As a benefit these labs can be inputted into some sort of statistical analysis app that will give me some probabilities of conception from IVF based off of my personal stats.

If everything continues to look good on paper then K and I will move forward with one round of IUI. I don’t know what will happen after that. After spending this time trying in vain to predict and plan the future we have resigned ourselves to focusing only on the immediate steps in front of us. At this point those steps are:

1) ultrasound

2) labs

3) preparation for IUI

We have narrowed our donor down to 2 excellent options and we will make a final decision here in the next couple of days. Did I mention that K and I excel at taking our sweet time deliberating on decisions?! For better or worse we do not make quick decisions! Our A1 form has been provided to the doctor in order to ship the sperm and all other paperwork for the sperm bank has been completed. There has been some progress and a small decision made. We are content with that (mostly) for now.

I should have my labs back in a couple of days and if my AMH has dropped significantly or there are other signs that I would not be a good candidate for IUI then we will have to revise our strategy.

I also had an appointment with my neurologist yesterday and discussed TTC with him. It turns out that he actually wrote a book chapter on IVF and MS so I feel like I am in competent hands in regards to developing a safe protocol if I do need IVF. He also said some amazing things: “I am not worried about you being off medications TTC.” and best of all: “Your MRI has been essentially stable since 2014 so you don’t need an MRI this year, do it next year (2019).” Folks, I have had to get MRI’s every year for the last 6 years, sometimes more than one, and often with many different studies. It is not uncommon to spend 1.5 hoursย or more in the MRI tube. I am thrilled that I am stable enough to put it off for a year. ๐Ÿ˜€

I’ll update once I have my labs back and let y’all know if our plan has changed.

Birdie

I Raise You by a Birdie

Nothing is happening on the IVF vs. IUI vs. Invocell front so please enjoy this shameless montage of pictures of Birdie, aka the Precious.

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The first thing you need to know about Birdie is she’s cute. I’m not biased either. ๐Ÿ˜›

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And she’s got blue steel for days. Just look at that face: pensive, contemplative. It’s perfection in canine form.

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She has also inspired art. This fine piece was created by our very first Airbnb guest. It’s titled: Birdie With The Pearl Earring

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When she is not busy acting as a muse, she has also inspired crafts such as this mid century dog bed, complete with custom sewn sheets and 2″ memory foam topped mattress. Nothing but the best (I totally didn’t spend 2 weeks building this bed, not me)

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Birdie pretty much looks adorable no matter what she is doing.

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Never one to do things halfheartedly, she really knows how to kick the cuteness up a notch by cuddling adorably with other creatures. Like this cat.

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And this one.

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I’m really laying it on thick here, aren’t I?

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Birdie is adventurous. She also loves squirrels.

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And ducks. I like beer. Anywho…

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I hope you enjoyed the montage of this incredibly adorable beast we call Birdie. After you have had some time to recover from the cuteness overload K and I will have a decision about which method of ART we will pursue.

 

 

Assisted Reproduction Technology

IVF vs. Invocell vs. IUI

I am feeling slightly out of my mind with the thought of moving forward with IVF. We definitely don’t have that kind of money. Neither of us have talked to our parents about this whole babymaking (or is that gabymaking…) thing we are doing over here. Even if we did neither of us want to trouble our parents to ask for help financially with this. In light of that we will be pursuing IVF by financing the procedure. I truly, truly hate the thought of that, as we are still working through many years of student loan debt. I *just* paid off my car. And it looks like we will be financing IVF for roughly the same cost per month. Sigh. It’s just so damn expensive!

In light of that and at the RE’s encouragement we have been researching whether to do IUI or Invocell. I feel like there are drawbacks and benefits to each but at the end of the day they are both a gamble. With IUI, our odds of conception for each attempt are somewhere between 14% and 30% likelihood of conceiving after 4 procedures. These percentages came from my RE and from a research study on women in the over 35 age bracket. My RE thinks I’ve got a pretty good shot at conceiving with IUI because my AMH was 2.66 which is great for my age. Personally, I don’t like our chances with IUI at all. Four IUI’s would run us about $12,000 over the course of 3-4 months and at the end of that I have a 30% chance of being pregnant. $12K for a 30% chance seems like an awful lot of money. BUT on the off chance it worked the first or second try that would *almost* be affordable without any financing. Which would be SO NICE to not go into debt just trying to make a baby. Ah, tempting to entertain that nice, rosy thought. But these rusty raisins I have for ovaries are a little too geriatric to be hanging that kind of hope on them functioning just right, methinks.

Invocell is interesting. I hadn’t heard of it before the appointment with my RE. Basically, if you aren’t familiar, I would do a minimal stimulation protocol followed by an egg retrieval procedure. It would be pretty similar to what I would do for regular IVF except there is less monitoring prior to the retrieval and the meds would be different. Following the retrieval, a small capsule would be filled with my eggs and the donor sperm. This small plastic capsule would be inserted into me like a tampon and held in place for 5 days with a diaphragm. Basically, I incubate my own embryos. Following that, the device is removed and an embryo or two is transferred into my uterus. The cost is about half of an IVF procedure which is nice. One of the reasons for the reduced cost is that there are no fees from the embryologist since I do the incubating part. Another reason is a lighter med schedule is used with less monitoring prior to the retrieval.

All of that sounds pretty great and the odds of conception are in fact near what you would expect to get from IVF. My major, major concern with this procedure is that there is a big possibility that after a minimal stimulation protocol I may not have any extra embryos to freeze… which means if it doesn’t work the first time I’ll be going through another retrieval and then IVF (because who wants to waste another 9 grand on something that didn’t work!). So if I do this and there are no embryos to freeze and it doesn’t work, I will have just threw away $9000 with nothing to show for it. Comparing that with IVF, if it didn’t work the first time and I had to come back for a second transfer my odds are much, much higher that I will have frozen embryos left from the retrieval. A transfer without a retrieval procedure is around $4000 so you can see that over time with multiple attempts the IVF would be cheaper. Now, if I knew Invocell would work the first time then that certainly would be my choice at half the price.

Another thing that concerns me is that this is a brand spankin’ new technology. UCSF is still doing clinical trials on it. So that means for $9K I basically get to be a guinea pig. I think, if the price tag was lower or there was more information about the efficacy and the likelihood of extra embryos I might feel more confident about making this gamble. As it stands I’m pretty nervous about putting all of my hopes and dreams on a new technology without a lot of real-world data behind it.

I think we are going to take a month or two off in order to figure out how to best proceed. I’m excited but I feel so absolutely out of my mind to even be considering something like IVF with that sort of price tag. It’s so. much. money.

Well, if any of you readers out there have used Invocell I’d love some insight. How did it go for you? Were there embryos left over to freeze? I would consider Invocell more if I knew there might be some embryos for another transfer later. Or how did you ultimately decide for or against IVF? What factors tipped the scales for you?

 

 

Fertility Center

Things are Looking up

No, I’m not pregnant. ๐Ÿ˜›

 

I might be if I’m super lucky. I am 8DPO so I will be testing in a couple of days but I’m not hopeful because the timing was off on my last attempt. Anywho, enough about that. It’s old news. And whatever happens, happens.

What I wanted to share is that K and I signed the consents to begin working with a cryobank. And we met with the RE to discuss IUI vs. IVF. We point-blank asked her what she recommended for us and she strongly recommended IUI first. Because of all the barriers to actually doing inseminations (polyp removal, scheduling issues, etc) we figured out that since the polyp was removed (attempts before that don’t count), there has really only been one well timed attempt. She felt like based on my numbers that I had a good chance for IUI to work for us. That’s good news.

She also told us about a new type of IVF called INVO cell. Has anyone heard of this? Basically, we would do a typical egg retrieval with minimal stimulation. The eggs would be collected and then placed into a small plastic container along with the sperm. This little capsule would then be placed inside me like a tampon (it’s much smaller) and I would “incubate” my own embryos. So Sci-fi! At the end of 5 days the embryos are removed from the capsule and one is transferred into me and the others are frozen. It’s significantly cheaper than IVF so that’s a plus. But it’s also a new procedure so that concerns me. She gave us a lot to think about so now we need some time to research and crunch numbers to make a decision.

We are excited to finally feel like we might get somewhere with this whole baby-making thing. And in a few days we *might* have some good news about this cycle (but don’t hold your breath).

:::shaking pom poms with gusto:::

Sperm Exposure

Here We Go Again

I had my ultrasound today and I have 3 or 4 follicles in there. Two are 17mm, one is 13 and there may be one more smaller one, I can’t remember. The doc wants me to trigger on Saturday but this poses a problem for us since I am unsure if we can ship overnight on the weekends. It’s being looked into now so we will see.

To be honest, this cycle just feels like going through the motions to me. I feel empty and a bit sad. I am having a hard time being happy for others and their progress and success, instead I feel sad for us. It feels like we are stuck in a holding pattern with no real progress. I have had so many thoughts of quitting recently. It’s just hard to go through all of this and have no end in sight.

I haven’t talked about it a lot on here, but the year leading up to and the year or two after being diagnosed with MS were straight up traumatic. It was never ending pills, shots, appointments and uncomfortable procedures. In some ways this journey is similar only at some point it will theoretically end and when it does it will be a happy ending. At least in theory.

 

Anywho, cheers for cycle #4.

::::Halfheartedly shakes a pom pom and lets out a lukewarm cheer::::