A Baker’s Dozen

I got the call this morning from the embryologist with such good news. Thirteen fertilized eggs! After all those ultrasounds and counting of follicles and measuring the size of them (with such great disparity 7mm-28mm), in the end, I have more than a dozen that fertilized! Thirteen to be exact.

I have no doubt that’s all the good, healthy eating (warm foods), acupuncture, healthy living and positive mindset, prayers from ya’ll and…well, those injection drugs helped a bit, too, I’m sure. 😉

We won’t know how many of those 13 will make it until Monday (day 5), the day of my embryo transfer. Usually about half make it. So, in the end, we expect to have about 6 or 7. And even if we have less than that, we still have plenty to choose from. I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Caitlin, the IVF coordinator that is an angel sent me this email this afternoon.

Hi Regina,

I saw the report from today.  It looks fantastic!!  Congrats!!

Caitlin

It’s the personal touch that makes all the difference, eh? I just love that.

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Retrieval Surgery Day

Dreamy Dreams
I had a good night’s sleep. I dreamt that Gina and I renewed our vows and got married again. It was our dear friend Jill Wooldridge that married us. I also remember my computer chord plugging in to us somehow… (giving us power perhaps?). The dream left me in such an elated mood and I can only surmise that my subconscious is interpreting this experience of having a baby to a whole new level of commitment. I like it.

Morning Prep
I didn’t leave myself a whole lot of time to get ready because I had to skip breakfast and didn’t want to be hanging around the house hungry. I dressed in sweat pants and my comfiest shirt. I sat in meditation and prayer for a bit. I talked to the baby energy, the egg energy and the called the sperm to awaken.  I grabbed our chickens’ eggs for Dr. H, mac lip stuff, ipod and promptly forgot all the papers we were to sign as well as my Essential Rumi poems book. C’est la vie.

As we drove to the surgery site I listened to The Quebe Sisters, music that makes me heart sing. Then, coming down the Fremont Bridge, I spotted a rainbow! Auspicious for sure.

Retrieval Rainbow

When we got to the parking structure there was no parking on the main floors and I thought it was ironic (or something ) that the first time in years, we ended up having to go down, down, down into the deepest part of the basement. It was dark and damp. Sort of like where my doc was about to go inside of of me, eh?

Awesome Surgery Team
These women are incredible! They were informative, easy, compassionate, gentle and just so open. We asked all the questions we needed. They gave us lots of time together. And we even got lucky enough to chat with Allison, the embryologist (whom we hear is one of the best in the country! AND who also happens to be a friend of Jill’s – the one who I dreamt married us). She was lovely and funny and again, answered questions. She loves her work, they all do, and it really shows. The anesthesiologist was beautiful, too. She just prepped me perfectly.

Last but not least, Dr. H came in to say hi and I couldn’t help but notice he was positively glowing! Later I said to Gina, that it’s obvious that his real love, passion and heart is here, in the science and surgery of his work. He also is considered to be a stellar retriever (we’ve been told by more than one professional, including  Allison the embryologist) and transfer-er. He has higher numbers than anyone in Oregon and some of the highest in the country. To say we were with a phenomenally skilled team would be an understatement.

Here, meet our team.

Judy, lead nurse.

Allison, the embryologist extraordinairre

Dr. H, all smiles.

On the wall, there… just to the left of me in the pic above, you can see a picture frame filled with photos of fertilized eggs and the babies that came from them. It was so inspiring to walk right into. Here it is, full frontal below.

Embryos and Babies

Surgery
I was able to walk in the surgery room on my own, just carried my IV. The moment I laid down the ceiling was spinning. The nurses got my legs in stirrups, schooched my butt all the way down to the end of the table and asked me where I’d like to go. Africa, I said! They started chatting about Africa when, I said, “I’m just gonna close my eyes for a minute.”

The next thing I knew I was back in the room where I started. What? “Is it over?” Yep. It was. So fast! Seemed like just one minute. In reality it was about 25 minutes. Just enough time for sweet Gina to get a coffee and bagel and make it back and be with me.

“We got 18 eggs! That’s really great! We have some young 21 year old donors come in and not get that many!” Needless to say, I was thrilled about this. Still though, what will really matter is how many are viable and we are prepared that perhaps only half of those will be. Tomorrow morning we’ll get a call to tell us how many fertilized. Of course, we are looking forward to learning that information.

Post Surgery
I rested and recouped for about an hour there. I was definitely in more pain that I anticipated. I was pretty dizzy, groggy and tired. And I felt no less “full” like I thought I might. In fact, they told me that the follicles fill back up with fluid quickly, plus I’ll be swollen. I’m drinking cinnamon  tea to help drain the fluid.

By 12:30 we headed home. Gina got me all settled in bed then went to go pick up the pain med prescription, electrolytes and food for us. She also brought me flowers. I can’t tell you how happy this little gesture made me. Just so, so sweet. I rested in silence for a bit then spoke to my mom briefly.

Flowers from my Love.

The rest of the day has been spent resting.  I’ve been great about staying off email and phone and such. I’m still hurting more than I expected (perhaps because there we so many follicles that they were likely very swollen and then poked and drained). Strange, my ovaries and lower abdomen hurt more (pretty intensely actually) when I need to pee or when I eat. It’s like there’s not enough room for all those things down there with the swollen ovaries. So, I’m eating in bits and peeing often. But let’s not get crazy on bravery, those good pain killers and tylenol help. A lot.

Next Steps
Tomorrow I go to a pretty full day of work. I hope I’ll feel okay but my work is not physically strenuous and I am deeply fed by it.

We’ll get a call between 9-10 on the number of fertilized eggs. Then, I’ll start a new round of medications (all oral, no shots) and then rest up, take care of a few things I couldn’t the past few weeks nor will be able to after the transfer (i.e. coloring my hair, last teeth whitening, some heavier yard work).

Last but not least….

A Special Note on My Wife
Gina has been extraordinary. In the truest sense of the word. I’m a little shy that it might sound all cheesy or braggy or something, but the truth is, I feel so happy and lucky that I found her and get her. I think that fight we had a few weeks ago was really productive and necessary. We worked some good stuff out and I feel more in love with her than ever. Apparently she feels the same.

All along the way today she’s met needs before I had to ask. And when she wasn’t sure, she asked… even little things, like what way I felt most comfortable driving home (road was bumpy I was in pain). She’s held my hands, breathed with me, prayed with me and loved me up like no other. She’s made each meal, asked how I feel and thanked me and honored me for going through this for us. Pretty groovy, right?

And it’s made such a difference in my whole experience (and healing). Even though I’m not feeling so hot, I feel so full and happy in my heart I could burst. Today we looked at each other with love and a kiss and a hug and I thought to myself, “This is why we’ve been called to wait so long, we needed to get here. Here to this place of super love. This child wants this.” People have been kind enough to say over the years that we are going to be really great parents and I had small moments of taking that in. Today, for the first time, I have really believed that not just in a moment but for good.

So, come on baby!

Thank You
I’m no fool. I know my heart is not only bursting because of how Gina is loving me. I know my heart is bursting because of ALL your prayers. I feel them. I really do. I feel so different. So held. I feel light. I feel loved. And I feel calm, without worry, about those little embryos growing for I know they are in your prayers to.

I feel totally vulnerable receiving this much love and prayer. Yet again, another opportunity to let go, surrender and receive. What Danielle (my reader-friend) said way back in November and right from the start. So, I’ll do my work and just keep receiving.

And so, I thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
xoxo

*Note: Below are just a few more pics from the day…enjoy.

Eggs for Dr. H and Allison

 

On our way there...

On our way, rainbow was right there behind me.

Before surgery...I've never been so happy before a surgery!

Recovering.

 

Post surgery. The least flattering photo ever. BUT, it so clearly captures all the joy and emotion I felt, I couldn't not share it with you.

 

On our slow walk out, we saw the little "deposit room" that the male partners use. Note the little door they pass their sperm juice through.

 

Posted in Believing, Chickens, Drugs and Medications, Eggs and Embryos, Firsts, Praying, Surgeries and Proceedures, What the ? | Leave a comment

Eve of Retrieval Surgery

Feeling Full
Today is the day before the surgery.

I feel so full. Full of goddess energy as my friend John says. Full of eggs, I say. My estrogen is likely over 4000 today but I am already feeling better not having had the Menpur shot this morning. I feel like I’m coming down off the hormones but that my ovaries are growing, rising. My lower abdomen is now full and uncomfortable all the time. It’s very uncomfortable to walk and at times painful (sitting down and getting up). That follicle that was 28mm two days ago must be well over 32 today… I can’t even imagine. Dr. H told me, “Now you know how your chickens feel!” Ha. That was funny. But, I’ll add, they aren’t carrying around 20 off these things!

Goddess Power
While I’m really ready to get the eggs out of me … I must confess there is something I really love about them in me, too. Something I love about having this many ripe eggs all ready to go, right here in my own body. Twenty possible little lives in there. Twenty tiny bits of beginning creation. It feels powerful. I feel powerful. I can imagine tomorrow after the surgery feeling some loss or sadness. I know that must sound weird, but they are my eggs. I have grown them and I think maybe I feel slightly attached to them! Still though, physically, I am looking forward to feeling better (and walking upright… by evening, I’m so full in my ovaries, I’m walking sort of hunched over).

Day to Day Magic
I saw clients much of today and tried to stay busy. It’s very odd having all this be so prevalent in my life and yet most people not knowing. They ask how I am and I just be vague. Weird for me. I wonder if they know something is up?

In the somatic hands-on work I do with my clients I feel my energy surging through my hands and into their bodies. I feel like a faucet has been turned on in my energy and in my work. And they can feel it, too. When I rest my hands on their hands, feet or bellies… they report immediate tingling sensations. All of them. No joke. I get it. I can feel it too. My intuition is increased as well. I wonder if this is what it will feel like to be working with clients whilst preggers. If so, maybe I should charge more. 🙂

Pre-Surgery Jitters
It’s almost 10pm. I plan to watch my favorite TV show Parenthood (how ironic) then climb into bed. I have my ipod with Krishna Das all ready. Gina has a list of the people she’s going to text tomorrow about surgery and we are prepping the bed and food and meds for when we get home tomorrow. I also have half a dozen eggs from our chickens out and ready. They are laying so infrequently these days but I’ve been saving up to give to Dr. H tomorrow.

I’m a tiny bit nervous about surgery… “going under” is never a ton of fun (or risk-free) but I think it’s safe to say that my overall excitement and gratitude outweighs it all. I figure I’ll have plenty of time to get nervous tomorrow morning and by the time I get really nervous I’ll have happy drugs knocking me out. For now, I hope I can sleep well.

Prayers
If you pray, please pray. If you light candles, would love that, too. If you simply only have time to think good thoughts and send good wishes, I’d be so grateful. It ALL matters and helps.

I pray for an ease filled, healthy surgery. I pray for the highest level of skill and presence and attentiveness of the surgery team (particularly Dr. H). I pray that we are all surrounded and held in spirit of the archangels; protected and divinely guided. I pray that we have plenty of viable, healthy eggs to be fertilized. I pray that the beginning of our baby will be found tomorrow, will be handled with care and fertilized by it’s right sperm, kept warm and safe to grow. I pray for Gina to be calm and steady and for me to rest and heal well the remainder of the day. I pray that all of you know and feel my love and gratitude.

I pray.

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Here we go!!!

It’s been a very exciting day! We are just about done with meds and all set for surgery on Wednesday to retrieve my pretty little eggs.

I met with Dr. H this morning to do final vaginal ultrasound (for now) and blood work (for now). I brought him a card that I wrote in my mind this morning at 5am. Later when I wrote it and then read it, it made me cry. Which isn’t saying a whole lot but then I read it to Gina and it made her cry too, so I think I did what I intended it to do: give this man my utmost gratitude for using his great mind and skill and heart in helping us become pregnant.

Card for Dr. H ~ Full of love and gratitude.

Final Stats
So, here are the final stats on my follicles and blood work.

– I showed 20 follicles today! Yowza! BUT…
– About 10 of those were too big or too small to assume they’ll be “viable” (one was at 28 mm, no wonder it’s uncomfortable to walk at this point!)
– About 10 look like they are “just right” and will likely be fertilized. Yah!
– My estrogen is over 3000 today- and I feel it. Seriously. It’s like having way too many drugs in my body and everything is just, too much.
– He said that my follicles are “much farther apart in size than what’s average”. You have to get that Dr. H rarely uses words like “much farther” followed by “average”- he’s just not a dramatic kind of guy…nor does he like to alarm us overly estrogenated women. But, for me, I had eggs that were 7mm to 28 mm, and he likes the follicles to all be right around 18mm at this stage. Again, I never was one to confirm so I guess my follicles are not either.
– Suffice to say, he still is “very pleased” and when I asked him if we’ll lose the largest follicles and he told me that’s likely, “but,” he reminded me, “there is nothing to worry about.” So, I will not worry. He’s happy. I’ll be happy. All part of my game called surrender. While my health and my body are mine, I am also learning to give way to the expert who really knows how to get a girl knocked up. And so it goes.

My follicles on Day 7- The large one on top is 20mm in this pic. One day later, it measured 28mm.

Final Instructions
In the end, he prescribed one more does of Menpur (which Caitlin gave to me in the office- I had been instructed to bring it with me) and tonight at 10pm, one last dose of Follistim. At 11pm, we’ll do the long-awaited “Trigger shot”. Instructions read “EXACTLY AT 11pm!!!”

The timing of the retrieval surgery is totally dependent on this trigger shot. It will be exactly 35 hours later (Wednesday morning). If it’s even an hour too late, we risk losing it all. Why? Because once the HCG (trigger shot) is injected my body will begin to surge (toward ovulation). When that happens, certain chemicals are released in the follicles and the structure of the eggs begins to change. If it/they change too much before harvested, it’s too late. When they say they have this down to a science, they really aren’t kidding. *Note: the HCG that we’ll inject is actually the pregnancy hormone from pregnant women’s urine. Trip out.

Here is a video of the Follistim and the last Lupron. The Follistim is a “pen” that we crank to the right amount. Once Gina is in my skin, she pushes the top down with her thumb then waits 5 seconds to let all the meds release into my body. Note the lovely crunching sound that you hear when the needle penetrates my belly.

Trigger Shot

Trigger shot with baby alter in the background.

Next Steps
Well, thank goodness no doc appointments and no shots tomorrow! Not even acupuncture. Yah!

I have pre-op instructions now and a slew of papers to sign (Gina took an hour to read over them thoroughly).

Tomorrow after midnight no eating or drinking. Show up Wednesday morning at 9:15. Surgery at 10am. Takes about 45 minutes. By noon, the eggs begin to be fertilized.

I’ll take the whole day off Wednesday. We’ll get a call later once we are home letting us know how many follicles they got.

We’ll get one more call (and they are clear on that) before we do the embryo transfer. That call will be on Thursday when they’ll tell us how many eggs they have fertilized. From there… we pray. At least I know I will.

Five days later, on a Monday (one week from today), we’ll do the embryo transfer. I’ll take the whole week off and be on bed rest for half of it (Dr. H’s orders). We’ll start on some painful progesterone shots and 10 days later take a blood test to tell us if we are pregnant. And, Bob’s your uncle.

I Am.
One last thought… this weekend I saw the film, I Am. I recommend you see it. It’s THAT kind of film. It really got me thinking about the energy that I am holding and creating right now, and how that energy is going into these follicles/eggs and how these eggs are the beginning of our child’s life. The begining of our child’s life!!!

And so, it’s not just the pregnancy that I want to bring good juju to but the time is, not surprisingly, now. The time is now to be happy, present, calm, content- to bring good juju. The time is now to believe and to know, unequivocally and without a doubt that we are all connected and all one and that all is well. The time is now to just BE love, sit back and let it all unfold.

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Hormonal Torpor

The last few days have been intense- to say the least.

The hormones that are racing through my body are making me feel… I can hardly even describe. I feel like my energy and aura is supple, squishy, permeable and not quite able to naturally guard or fend off all the goods and evils of the world. To say that I feel heightened or sensitive is a gross understatement.

When a woman is going through a natural cycle (without drugs, just releasing one little egg in a month) her estrogen level gets about as high as 100. Today, mine came back at 2242. It’s like PMS on cryptonite.

My current symptoms emulate pregnancy (wherein estrogen gets this high). Here is what I feel at this point.

– Super sore boobies (this is a new development).
– Nausea all through out the day (particularly when I don’t eat)
– Heightened sense of smells (most make me feel sick).
– Crying. Yes. I cry all the time now. I mean, ALL the time. Learning to just roll with it.
– Things taste weird, particularly eggs. I can taste eggs in my mouth for an hour after I’ve had them.
– Very bruised belly. I am wearing soft cotton skirts with leggings every day for comfort. Irony is that I bought these soft skirts YEARS ago when I thought I was going to be pregnant. I thought they’d stretch with a growing belly.
– I feel my ovaries. No joke. Cramping in my lower abdomen. The follicles are growing so big now that I just feel them all the time. Especially if I move a certain way. It’s a TRIP.
– Intensely emotional; I feel so happy and in love with Gina. So connected with all that is good in the world (the Dalhi Lahma, MLK, Maya Angelou). And, when things are prickly anywhere (friends, the post office, you name it) I feel extra “ouchy” in my heart.
– Visual enhancement… not sure what that’s about but life is in technicolor. The grass is greener and the sky bluer.
– Night sweats. Sheets soaked. Yelch.
– Lower back pain.
– Insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep or back asleep.

In some ways, it feels like I am on the drug Ecstasy, which sort of makes sense given it’s a serotonin enhancer and isn’t that what estrogen is?

It’s Sunday night. We have three more days with my estrogen doubling each day. I can do this. I might burst by the end, but I can do it. I know I can.


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Trigger Happy

Follicle and Surgery Update
Normally one goes to the doc about every other day but because my follicles are all growing at such different rates, I’ve been having to go daily since Thursday. This means extra vaginal ultrasounds and blood draws for me.

Each day there is different news: Follicles growing more closely together. Oops, now the big one grew 6cm… yikes! Oh, wait, now they are closer again.

This past weekend we went in at the crack of dawn both Sat and Sun morning. Dr. H was not on call this weekend so it was Dr.M who has a VERY different personality which, in my current state of heightened emotions was both welcomed and cursed. Gina of course was neutral. Thank god. I just look to her to see how I should respond.

On Saturday he told us that my largest follicles were now larger than when they do the surgery but the smaller ones were too small to be of use. They have never in their history “triggered” (induce ovulation) for someone this early in the process. He wanted to get me to hold on until Monday… so, he WAY lowered the stimulating hormones and we came back in Sunday morning. He checked again and saw that the largest one did not grow even though it had grown 6cm the the last 48 hours and was now at 20cm (they like to harvest them around 18-20cm). And the smaller follicles had grown steadily… even up to 14cm (which is the smallest they will harvest them). But still, there are many follicles much smaller.

He says that the belief is that the eggs that grow fastest they believe may be the best in quality and the eggs that are small may be of lesser quality. Still, I had so many more mid-sized and smaller eggs (growing at a more normal rate) that maybe, it was my extra large eggs that have something less desirable about them. Truth is, there is no way to know. In the end, it was his call; quality over potential quantity.

My gut told me that waiting one more day was the thing to do. That if that one large follicle ended up being “too mature”, that would be okay, for we’d have a whole bunch more to work with. Anyway, he said there was only about 20% chance we’d lose that largest one to “over maturity”.

So, in the end, we sat in silence in the office. Me with goop on my yoni and a paper blanket across my lap. Gina sitting on tenor hooks in the chair. We breathed and watched as he looked over my chart and calculated. In the end, “Okay. I’m going to have you wait one more day. I think that is the best choice. I believe you’ll get way more eggs this way and I believe that there’s about a 20-25% chance we’ll lose that one large one.”

Whew. We all exhaled. Still, a 20% chance we’d have to trigger this after noon, he said. If my blood work came back showing that my body was starting to surge on it’s own (can happen when eggs get a certain size), we’d either have to start all over (because yes, it’s only a matter of HOURS before they can lose it all) or we’d have to trigger tonight. In the end, my blood work came back normal. We are solid. We are good.

We are to lower our dose of stimulating hormone yet again and hold off on the morning shot. I go in to see Dr. H yet again tomorrow (Monday) morning and we’ll look and see and go from there. For now, it’s VERY likely we’ll do the trigger shot Monday evening and we’ll be in surgery Wednesday morning, harvesting the eggs that hold one or more of our future children. Yes, I am crying again now. 🙂

P.S. Also, this weekend, Gina and I have been to two adoption classes. We figure just in case this doesn’t work out (and even if it does) we want to get moving on this process and we know (with out a doubt) we’ll foster or adopt as well as give birth. And since that process can take up to 2 years… off we go! Suffice to say, the classes were intense (especially in my drug induced condition) but they were informative and we are excited. More to come…

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Cheating

Every now and again I have the feeling like I’m cheating. Like IVF is the shortcut, easy way to get knocked up. Is that crazy? After ALL we’ve been through, I still feel like maybe I should suffer more? Work harder?

I feel like since it’s not natural or on my own or something… that this is the cheaters way and when I really get pregnant, I’ll feel bad for all those women who were like me just months and years ago- at the end of their rope- except they don’t have the gift of IVF like we do, and then I’ll feel guilty. Yeah, all kinds of fucked up, I know.

To boot, I started thinking that if I do IVF, then maybe I’m going to do all other kinds of not-so-natural things with my pregnancy and then maybe I’ll have a C-Section and then what if I can’t breast feed… because (in my mind) that’s what happens to cheaters. They just keeping going and going until there is nothing authentic and natural anymore- and nothing good comes to cheaters. Right? Man, my mind was on a bender.

I didn’t have these thoughts for long (like less than an hour total) before I called my dear friend Sonja. The first first time I conceived, Sonja did too. We were just weeks apart. I lost mine but she has a beautiful baby boy Lucas (emphasis on beautiful). For some reason (and with some people for me it’s like this) I’ve never had that bittersweet pang in my heart watching Sonja be pregnant, go through birth and have her dream; her baby. Nor do I feel it when I visit with, hold and love-up Lucas. It’s always just been pure sweet the whole way through (and I’ve felt the bitter, too, it’s not beneath me, that much I know). Sonja and I have been solid supports for each other the last two years.

So when Sonja answered the phone I was grateful. She was busy but so gracious I’d never have known it. In a matter of minutes she managed to juggle bids for her busted dryer, sooth her teething son and talk me off a ledge and back to somewhere sane. Incredible. In moments like these I realize I really do have TEAM of amazing people that are going through this with us; supporting us in ways that I’ll never forget and will share with our kids.

Two days later, Sonja sent me this email with this link:

Hello beautiful friend 🙂 This weekend I watched Pregnant in America
(netflix WI) and this little excerpt is for you. This will be you
soon, I feel it….birthing  naturally and realizing all the benefits
it brings. You will be an amazing mama. Love to you, Sonja xoxo

http://qik.ly/CYXHhG3svFVCQVTBwhW9avK

I no longer feel like I’m cheating. In fact, I feel pretty sick, sore and ready to stop taking shots and start getting on with getting pregnant.

I realize that being a mother and getting pregnant is natural and my birthright and my mother would remind me that I “deserve it” (and on some level I believe I do), I am keenly aware of how grateful I am for the opportunity we are getting to do it. The opportunity she (my mother) helped give us. Being a birth-mama is not just about deserving… it’s an honor and a privilege. It’s like nothing else, that much I know.

Still though, my  mind has moments that are not quite so clear. I’m super grateful for my team of people that support me daily. And that particular day, extra grateful for Sonja.

Happy Sonja and her sweet baby Lucas.

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