Monday, July 2, 2012

Guess What?!?!?!

Bob and I are having a baby!!!! 

After quite a journey, we can now officially say we are going to be parents.  Typing and saying those words is so surreal.  For as much as I have tried to be positive and optimistic from the beginning, there were days where it was hard to believe  it would happen, but we are!

So, I'm about 10 weeks along.  Still in the first trimester.  I don't have an official due date yet, but according to all the online calculators I've used, it's January 29. 

I feel great.  I am lucky to say I haven't had any morning sickness or bad symptoms yet.  I am tired and hungry all the time.  Actually, the lack of symptoms has made me a little paranoid, because it makes it hard to believe it's real!  Bob tries to laugh it off and remind me how lucky I am to feel good.  I even talked to our fertility doctor about it.  He told me it's great, but it's completely normal to be as worried as I am. 

I know some people are curious about what it took to get us to this point, so I have written a few posts to explain the process, which started a little over 2 months ago.  I have them linked below.  Read them if you're interested.  Either way, the outcome is the same - theres a BABY in MY belly!!!!!!

IVF Process - April 11, 2012

IVF Process - April 19, 2012

IVF Process - April 26, 2012

IVF Process - May 7, 2012

IVF Process - May 23 - June 27, 2012

We can't thank you enough for your love and support!!!

I can't say enough how lucky we are to have the friends and family that we do.  I can't say enough how lucky I am that I married Bob.  I've mentioned before that this blog is honestly for me more than anything.  I write so I can understand and I write so I can remember.  I also write because I hope someone else will stumble on this and it will help them.  We were lucky to have people placed in our life since our diagnosis that have been or are in similar situations as us. 

IVF Process - May 23, 2012 - June 27, 2012

Well, so much has happened in a little over 2 weeks - ending in a POSITIVE pregnancy test.

May 8 - We went in for our egg retrieval. They were able to successfully retrieve 10 eggs. After the retrieval, I went home and we just relaxed (I slept) off and on for the rest of the day. I was able to go back to work the following day.

May 9 - We received a phone call letting us know that 7 of the 10 eggs were successfully fertilized. 1 of the eggs was too immature, so they didn't try to fertilize it, and 2 of them didn't take. They were really happy with that number. They also confirmed that I would be doing the transfer on May 13 - Mother's Day.

May 13 - We went in for the embryo transfer really early in the morning. We talked with the doctor early on and decided that we would place 2 embryos. This obviously means that I would have a greater chance of having twins, if both of them attached to my uterus, but it also increased the chances that I would get pregnant with at least 1 baby. The strongest embryos were numbers 3 and 7, so in they went. We also got a little ultrasound picture to take home with us.

May 14- I was on bed rest for the day. Bob spent a lot of time taking care of me and balanced his day with his busy Monday paperwork.

The next 9 days were never-ending. All we wanted was to know the results. We were on pins and needles. I was supposed to start following all the "rules" of being pregnant. Also, I had to start a new round of shots. These shots are a little less pleasant. Longer needle, and injected into the muscles of my booty. They cause knots and bruising, and stiff muscles. Also during this time, the nurse, Erin, called to check on me. (I'm sure it's part of what they do - but she is seriously amazing!) Unfortunately, she also told us that they were unable to freeze any of the extra embryos. They weren't strong enough to survive the freezing process, and even if they had survived that, they wouldn't have survived the thawing. This was devastating news, for two reasons - first, we were counting on them to be able to use if this round didn't work we wouldn't have to go through the whole process again. Second, we have always hoped to have a family with more than one child, and had agreed that we would give every frozen embryo a chance. Now if we want to continue to grow our family, we will have to start at the beginning.

May 23 - Bob and I both took the day off work. (We had tried our best to maintain our normal work and life routine all along, but definitely agreed that we wanted to spend this whole day together) We had to get up and out the door in enough time to be in Ann Arbor by 10:30 for a blood test. Most of my blood test and monitoring appointments had been local, but on Wednesdays, the local appointment times do not allow the blood to get to the lab soon enough to get the results on the same day. We could have tested locally, but didn't want to wait a whole extra day for the results. Testing in Michigan was stressful because most people have a hard time finding my veins. It took the nurse 3 tries over a 30 minute period with 2 different kinds of needles before she was able to successfully draw. The lab driver ended up waiting on me before he could go to the lab. We were told they would give us a call with the results sometime between 3 and 4, so we went home to wait.

My phone rang around 3:45. Bob and I had been lying in bed pretending to watch TV. We expected the call to come from the Michigan office, so I felt very at ease right away when I saw the local office number on the phone. The conversation went like this.

Nurse - "Hi, how are you?"
Me on speaker phone - "I'm not sure tell me."
Nurse - "Well, I think you're going to be pretty good. Your test was positive!!!!"
Me - a lot of things I don't remember including asking if she was serious and thanking her a million times

We set up my next appointment and hung up the phone. I was shaking, Bob was crying and we were both speechless. I can honestly say without hesitation it has been the best moment of my life so far. Words will never be able to describe how I felt.

So then we wanted to go tell our family. (I'm writing down this process and the reactions so I never can skip this paragraph if you're not interested...) We decided to go in geographic order. First stop was Amy’s. Turns out she and my sister had been texting each other all day to see if they had heard anything. Amy and Erin were both home, and her response was priceless. Jumping up and down, tears, hugs, shaking...followed by the most genuine text message after we left. The boys weren't home, but we didn't want them to know yet because it was so early. Meghan jumped up and down with us, but she didn't know why she was so excited. On our way to the next stop, we called my brother. He was at work. I reminded him about how when I told him we were getting engaged he confused me mentioning that there would be baby at the wedding (Caden!) he thought I meant we were pregnant then. But we weren't and now we're pregnant for real!!! He screamed and was so excited, all while at work. Next stop was the Kimball parents. By this time I was bursting at the seams to tell my mom and dad and I felt like Bob was driving way under the speed limit. Mom K was at the door when we pulled in the driveway - tons of excitement and hugs. As soon as we realized Dad K wasn't there we were out the door because I felt like we couldn't tell people fast enough. We went to his bus garage, but he wasn't there. He also didn't answer his phone. Laura was at work in Michigan so we called her. She answered the phone and said "Is it baby Wednesday?!?!?!!" We were on the way to surprise my very pregnant sister at work. I kept calling her assistant and she wasn't answering, but I wanted to see if Jen was there anyway. She wasn't. Next I called my dad’s assistant. He wasn't there either. DIDN'T ANYONE KNOW WE HAD A HUGE SURPRISE FOR THEM?!?!?! My sister and Bob's dad called back while we were driving to my parents’ house. We told Bob's dad it was a secret and he said "Well I'm alone in the garage so I can do what I want...I'M GONNA BE A GRANDPA AGAIN!!!" By this time I'm in my parents driveway and my sister is trying to help me figure out where my mom is. Turns out we missed her by 5 minutes and she's running to the store before going to childbirth class with my sister. I'm talking to my dad while standing in his driveway lying to him telling him we haven't heard yet but I will come over in a little bit and wait at his house for the call and he should head home soon. So now we go ambush my the grocery store parking lot. Priceless. Apparently, she and my dad had been on the phone analyzing every word and tone of my conversation with him trying to figure out what was going on. So then we go back to my parents and pretend to have a normal conversation with my dad.  Finally, after about 15 seconds of faking normal, Bob told him we knew but we wanted to tell him in person and I will never forget the look on my dads face.  That night we called the rest of our wedding party, who had been up to date on the whole IVF process, then went and got ice cream. 

Getting to tell people we’re having a baby was so much fun. 

As I mentioned before, a positive pregnancy test doesn’t mean we’re in the clear – not for a normal pregnancy and definitely not for an IVF pregnancy.  I had to go in every other day to have my hormone levels tested, and in order for it to be considered a good pregnancy, they had to approximately double every time.  I passed every time!!  Once they passed a certain point, I was in the clear for that.

We also had ultrasounds on a regular basis.  At our 6 week ultrasound, the doctor was able to see the heartbeat.  It was way too small for us to see, but he assured us it was there.  He also confirmed that it was just one baby.  The same happened at our 7 week ultrasound.  We didn’t have to go in at 8 weeks.  At 9 weeks, our baby was the size of a prune.  When he enlarged the image on the screen, were able to see the baby for the first time.  Not only could we see the baby, we could see its tiny heart beating.  It was seriously the most amazing thing I have ever seen. 

At the end of our 9 week appointment, our doctor said I needed to come back 1 more time, at 11 weeks, and then we would start seeing a regular OB.  Unfortunately, our doctor would be on vacation for the 11 week visit.  I would be seeing his partner, in Ann Arbor, who I had seen once before and thought was great, too. 

This led me to a very emotional goodbye with our local office.  He asked me to please come back when we had the baby and send pictures and he told us he couldn’t wait to help us grow our family more in a couple of years.  We thanked him a million times and hugged him.  I’m getting choked up thinking about it.  This man changed our life and was so caring while doing it.  I cannot say enough of his office and the work he does.  Saying bye to my nurse was just as hard.  I asked her if they could just by my OB the whole time because they are like my safety net.  Apparently, they don’t do that.  I’m sure I will have a great experience with our OB, but I will miss this office so much.  It was a horrible time for us, an emotional and scary journey, and they made it all okay.

IVF Process - May 7, 2012

Well, we successfully made it through shots!  The days actually passed by pretty quickly.  Bob was home off and on, and when he wasn't home, Amy was able to give me the shot, so I never had to give myself any!  After a few days on the original dosage, the doctor bumped up one of the meds.  I had bloodwork and ultrasounds done every other day to monitor my hormone levelsand my follicle growth.  And they definitely grew!  Each ovary hasabout 10 follicles on it, and they grew at a steady pace, which is exactly what the goal was.  I won't lie and tell you that I have been butterflies and rainbows the past few weeks.  The hormones are pretty intense, and sometimes the reality of all of this is a lot to handle.  But I'm lucky to have Bob,and we are lucky to have amazing support.

On Friday we got a phone call that they wanted us to come to Ann Arbor for a Saturday appointment because everything was growing so well. Because it was a Saturday, it wasn't our normal doctor or nurse, but their partners.  They were still awesome.  The ultrasound showed about 20 follicles and they were all about 18mm.  This means that we were about 3 days ahead of schedule.  The doctor printed out the ultrasound picture and handed it to me and said "hopefully this is your first baby picture!"

We go in tomorrow morning (Tuesday) for the egg retrieval.  The goal,obviously, is to remove all the follicles (eggs).  The catch is that the 10 on my right ovary are really easy to get to, but the 10 on my left ovary are positioned behind my uterus.  They will try to remove all of the follicles, and are confident that because I will be under anesthesia they should be able to, but it is possible that we may lose a couple.

So, tomorrow the eggs come out and are fertilized.  Wednesday they will call us and let us know the final number of fertilized embryos. Just because we have 20 eggs, doesn't mean that they will all successfully fertilize. They will be monitored for 3 to 5 days and then they will put 2 back in. Any others that were successfully fertilized will be frozen and saved for us to use later. We will know 2 weeks from tomorrow if the procedure was successfulor not.  I will have to continue on some shots and hormone medicine as they continue to monitor whether or not I am pregnant.  And, as I have mentioned before, we will be finding out very early on, so even if the test ispositive, they will have to monitor me very closely to make sure thateverything is okay. 

I'm feeling a few extra positive vibes about the whole things because tomorrowis my dad's birthday and 5 days later, when they will most likely be transferring them back, is Mother's Day. 

I can't believe how fast this process has gone over the past few weeks, but I am sure the next 14 days will seem really slow.

IVF Process - April 26, 2012

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  The tagline they are using this year is "Don't Ignore..."  I think it's a great concept and am doing what I can to show my support for awareness, education, and the other 7.3 million people in the US that are also dealing with infertility. 
I think it's fitting that I started my shots during NIAW.  Also, the same week that a couple who has publicly be dealing with their fertility struggle (Giuliana and Bill) announced that they are pregnant.  AND the same week that a friend of a friend is going in for her embryo transfer.  (prayers for them, please!)

Bob has been out of town at a conference for work this week.  I know it's been hard on him not being here and feeling like he's not helping me, but we agreed in the beginning that we would choose what he needed to schedule his travel around, and this week it was okay for him to be gone.  Amy went with me to my appointment on Monday.  I had a baseline ultrasound and bloodwork so they could track what was going on when we started.  The nurse also sat down and went over how to mix the shots, when to take them, what to expect, etc.  Amy took awesome notes and asked questions to make sure we were all set to start.

I think I mentioned before that we ordered our meds from overseas to save a huge amount of money...well one package arrived, but the other hasn't yet.  This means that, every day until the package comes, we will have to go to the pharmacy at the hospital to get the supply we need for the shot that night. Thanks to my momma for being on standby to pick up whatever I need from the pharmacy.

My first shot was last night, and Amy was ready to help me with it.  She patiently mixed everything and showed me how to do it while I stood next to her, almost frozen.  She told me she could feel my tension.  The shot itself isn't bad, it burns for about 3 seconds and then it's over.  Mixing the shot, in my opinion, is the worst part.  One vial with liquid and 3 other vials with meds and you have to put one into the other, let it dissolve, pull it out, put it in the next one, and so on until they are all mixed together.  We want to make sure we get every drop of the hormonal goodness that is in the vials and that nothing gets contaminated in the process, because that could cause infection.  The original goal was for her to show me how to give myself the shots, but after last night, I'm feeling like she will be showing Bob and either Amy or Bob will be giving me the shots every night.  I'm sure this is something I could do on my own if I needed to, but since I have Amy, Bob and my mom on standby, I think I'm going to avoid that stress for myself.  Once again, we are so lucky to have the support around us that we do. 

On Monday I will start going to the doctor every other day to watch the follicles (hopefully) grow.  On May 7, we should find out when they are going to retrieve the eggs.  Sooo in the meantime, fingers crossed for growing follicles!

IVF Process - April 19, 2012

It's been about a week since the last post.  Nothing has changed very drastically, but I do want to give you an update. 

The week or so between our appointment last week where I got my first shot and my surgery this week was pretty uneventful.  I say that in the most literal way possible.  I assume it was a results of the hormone changes the shot is putting my body through, but all I did all weekend was sleep or lay and rest.  Bob did an awesome job taking care of me.  I'm sure if I had things I needed to accomplish, I would have been able to get them done, but since nothing major was happening, I laid pretty low and let myself rest.  I did get up for a few hours on Saturday to meet some friends for dinner, but then came home and went right to bed.  Sunday I went to my nephews soccer games then we met my parents for dinner.  And then, back to bed.  Monday was a pretty long day at work.  A handful of my coworkers know what's going on, but for the most part, I found myself dodging questions about why I would be taking two days off in the middle of the week...oh well.

I didn't sleep well Monday night because I was nervous about Tuesday.  I had to take medicine to prep on Monday night, and the nurse warned me that it typically causes extreme pain.  Well, when it didn't cause pain, I started worrying that maybe that meant I hadn't followed the instructions right and the medicine wasn't doing what it needed to do.  The worry went away pretty quick after I took my pain killer prescriptions, though.

Tuesday, we had to drive up to Rochester Hills, Michigan, to go to our Fertility Doctor's main office.  When we pulled in the parking lot, Bob got a huge cheesy smile on his face and said, "This is where I'm gonna knock you up, baby."  Only Bob.  So blunt, but exactly the laugh I needed at that moment.  Our presurgery nurse was awesome.  She was patient trying to find my hidden veins, told me exactly what to expect, tried to get to know us a little, and really made sure I was comfortable. 

The surgery lasted about 45 minutes or so.  They did end up finding and removing two polyps from my uterus.  (They were later sent to a lab for testing, and were cleared)  If they hadn't been detected, they most likely would have prevented an embryo from attaching.  And, by removing them, it's our understanding that it has refreshed the uterine lining so the embryos will have a better chance of attaching.  Everything else in the surgery went as planned.  Oh, except, the staff there doesn't know me well enough to know that I break out in hives/rash all the time, so when that happened while I was under, they gave me some benedryl...which caused me to want to sleep for basically 2 days. 

After the surgery, I was the last patient for the day, so we got to share some birthday cake with their staff - it was one of the nurses birthday.  Then, on the way out, Bob took me on a detour so he could show me the room where he...makes his contribution.  The nurse asked if we were looking for a bathroom and got a nice chuckle of her own when Bob told her "Nope, I just want her to see where I make my magic happen."  Again, only Bob.

I spent the day on Wednesday recovering at Amy's so that Bob could get some work done in Perrysburg.  It was nice laying around somewhere other than our house for awhile, and I enjoyed the girl time with her and Meghan.

We got our first shipment of shots in the mail today.  All the way from Great Britain.  Now we're waiting on the other shots to come from Canada and we will officially be ready to start.
This weekend I have my sisters baby shower!!!  I'm really looking forward to focusing on something else for awhile.  And really looking forward to celebrating the baby and my sister!  Can't wait for him (or her!) to be here in June.  (Update - my perfect nephew arrived on June 28.)

Monday is my baseline ultrasound and bloodwork and then I start my shots every day on Wednesday.

IVF Process - April 11, 2012

After approximately 16 months of…waiting…we have officially started the IVF process. 

To me, it seems like we waited forever and now we are in a huge hurry.  So, why the wait forever then hurry up? Well, as Bob put it on Sunday night when I was having a minor meltdown about how quick this is all happening…it’s not happening quick at all.  We have known this was going to happen since January 17, 2011.  We’ve also known since then that once we were ready to start, it happens at a predetermined pace, and once you decide to move forward, you have to be committed.  So, about 2 weeks ago, we realized that everything we needed to be in place before we could start was in place.

I called our Fertility Doctor and talked to the nurse about timing coming up.  It’s basically all based on where I am in my birth control (yes, I take birth control for this process, it seems backwards, but it happens).  Based on where I was, I needed to go in for a sonohysterogram and mock transfereither the following week (April 11) or not until May.  Since May seemed like FOREVER; we scheduled the appointment for April 11. Bob talked to his boss and was able to rearrange some things, so we were officially moving forward.

That quick recap brings us to April 11. The doctor told us he had three goals of the sonohysterogram/mocktransfer.
1.      Look for any abnormalities in my uterus that mayprevent IVF from working
2.      Look for any abnormalities in my cervix that mayprevent IVF from working
3.      Using water instead of embryos, do a practicetransfer to make sure it will work on the day I get implanted with our embryos

To say it was painful would be an understatement.  I’ll spare you the details, but I am thinking this is something I need to get used to for this process.  The reason it was painful was because  Ibasically failed goals 1 and 2.  My cervix is extremely small (Bob says Cervex and it makes me laugh), and he wasn’t able to get a great look at my uterus. He did do the mock transfer, but wasn’t confident that my cervix would allow for safe retrieval of the eggs and safe implantation of the embryos in the future and he wants to look at my uterus with a scope. 

We were told that I would now have to undergo a surgery next week to get the issues resolved and move forward. They said I should plan on coming back in the afternoon, as I was already scheduled, o do a lecture with the nurse about the entire process, paperwork, prescriptions and now to talk about the surgery.

The next 2.5 hours between appointments was stressful and unsettling.  IVF wasn’t off the table,but it wasn’t as simple as we hoped it would be. We were both confused aboutt he surgery and thought that if what he saw was bad, then IVF was no longer anoption.

We got back at 1:30 and ended up being with the nurse for about 2 hours.  She answered every single question.  She went over every single step.  She said to call any time another question arises and she said that if we have questions for the doctor, I should write them down and bring them with me to my next appointment.

So here’s what we learned.  The results of the sonohysterogram/mock transfer don’t mean that I’m not a good candidate for IVF anymore.  They don’t mean that our chances of a successful IVF round go down at all.  It's just that I need to have this surgery to ensure that I remain a good candidate and that our chances of success stay where they are now (which is pretty good).

This means that I have to go to the Doctor next week for a hysteroscopyand a cervical dilation.  This is a surgery that I will be under anesthesia for. And to be clear, this was no part of the original IVF plan we had, but it’s common that the plan changes.  The surgery will allow the Doctor to get a better look at my uterus and remove any polyps or interferences he sees.  As forthe cervical dilation – the way I think of it is when people gauge their ears (like Bob used to, by the way!) and they keep increasing the size of the hole,they’re going to do that with my cervix, but over the course of one surgery.  It will be painful – I will be under anesthesia and I will also be off work Tuesday and Wednesday.

After we made plans and got all the details of the meds and things I need to do to prepare for and recover from the surgery on Tuesday, we started talking about the IVF process itself. Here’s a quick outline of the next 6 weeks for us:

April 11 – sonohysterogram/mock transfer and the nurse gave me my firstshot, basically to give my body a clean slate
April 17 – hysteroscopy and cervical dilation
April 18 – recovery
April 23 – baseline ultrasound and blood work – meaning they will checkto see what my ovaries and hormone levels look like at the very beginning of my cycle so they know what to measure against once the medicine starts changing things.
April 25 – start shots – the good news here is that it’s only 1 shot aday, at night.  It’s common for people to have to do up to 4 or 5 shots a day, so I’m feeling pretty lucky about this.
Every other day from April 25 – May 9ish – I will be going in for ultrasounds and blood work to monitor the growth of the follicles (eggs).
Somewhere between May 9 and May 12 – Bob and I will both have an appointmentin the same day – mine will be to remove all the eggs that I produced (goal number here is above 5 at minimum, but above 10 would be better).  Bob will be in another room...making his...contribution.  They will tell us before we leave the office how many eggs were successfully retrieved.
5 days later – we will go back for the embryos to be implanted.
14 days after the retrieval – I will go back to the Doctor for a bloodtest to determine if I am pregnant or not. For multiple reasons, a blood test will be the only accurate way to know if I am pregnant. 
Even if the test is positive, we have to be cautiously optimistic. I will be monitored very frequently to ensure that my hormone levels continue to double.  I will stay in the care of the Fertility Doctor basically through the first trimester.  At that point, he will refer me back to my OB, where I will be treated like any other pregnancy.  If the IVF does not work, we would have a meeting with the Fertility Doctor to determine why he thinks it didn’t work,and what the best next steps are.

The nurse warned Bob about some fun things we can look forward to during all of this – forgetfulness, hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness, and discomfort in injection areas…  Funtimes.

If nothing else, the curveball we were thrown today just assures methat Bob is the person I want to face the good and the bad with.  When I was in pain during the test, the only part of me he could reach was my toes, but he held them the entire time to support me.  He knows how to talk things through with me.  And, when we get home, he goes into take charge/ schedule appointments/ ordering prescriptions/ updatingthe budget mode and lets me just relax. 
So it's official - here we go!