My Infertility Journey Continued:

Lovely Lovenox Bruising

Hi friends! Monster is napping so I gotta move fast before he wakes up again.

Also, I forgot to mention in my previous post what my transfer protocol was. My first two were the basic FET protocol. I took estrogen 3x a day, prenatal, vitamin D3 and progesterone suppositories starting 5 days before transfer, prednisone starting 5 days before transfer & doxycycline five days before transfer. The next few FET’s I added baby aspirin to the protocol and 5mg prednisone from the start of my cycle.

Okay, We have now entered the year that none of us want to remember. The year was 2020. My year started off with an HSG while awake and without drugs because I drove myself to the appointment. This procedure is not comfortable for someone with a retroverted uterus and a cervix that has a 90 degree bend. To give you a little perspective, these biopsies and scopes should take no more than 10 min. For me, finding their way into my labyrinth of a uterus takes them about 45 min. Picture sitting with your legs up in stirrups and a speculum in your vajay while your doctor is wiggling a little catheter around trying to get inside. 🤦‍♀️ My own personal hell. Anyway, that scope came out clear and everything looked good to go. A few weeks later I had my OB checkup and they felt something in my right breast. Given my mom’s history and the fact that I was turning 35 they told me to make an appointment for a baseline mammogram. Just the thought of that gave me anxiety so I pushed it off until June. We are now in February and I had scheduled my thyroid biopsy because the ultrasound showed a few cysts and they wanted to make sure it wasn’t cancer before I started IVF again. You guys. I mean looking back how was this real life?! I’m not gonna lie my pain tolerance is pretty high and procedures don’t really scare me, but the thought of a needle in my neck creeped me the F out. Turns out it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated and my thyroid nodules were clear. Woohoo!! In March I had my colonoscopy scheduled. I get one done around every three years to make sure my Crohn’s is still in remission and of course to check for cancer. People with IBD (irritable bowel disease) have a higher risk of colon cancer so we are screened frequently. That procedure was a NIGHTMARE. I typically am put under general anesthesia for this, but for some reason they had me down as twilight. Well that does NOT work for me. I woke up in the middle of the procedure staring at a screen of my colon, crying in pain and asking for more sedation. They weren’t giving me any and I later found out that it was because my blood pressure was too low so my doctor didn’t want to risk anything. Add that to my list of traumatic experiences. The good news was my colonoscopy came back clear- no signs of recurring Crohn’s or cancer. Moving right along. We are now in Covid quarantine and I cannot proceed with my transfer because the clinics were closed.

May rolls around and I want to get started. My RI says it’s not a good idea because I will be taking high dose prednisone (which lowers your immune system) and I’m already on immunosuppressants for my Crohn’s, but I tell her I want to proceed anyway. My RE agreed to follow her protocol – probably because he was all out of ideas himself. 🙄 So in May I geared up for an FET. I started taking my meds and also I was on prednisone and Lovenox (blood thinner injections) two weeks prior to get my body where it needed to be before I started. I was driving an hour away to get labs drawn at my RI and also going to my RE for monitoring. Unfortunately, baseline appointment we also did an HSN because my RE wanted to confirm uterus was clear and he saw polyps- OF COURSE. This meant that I needed to cancel this FET and schedule another polyp removal before I could proceed. So about a week later I go in for my polyp removal surgery. He removes it and everything looks good to go. Now we wait for my period to begin so I can start my FET prep all over again. Meanwhile, I was still taking Prednisone and Lovenox the entire time. We have now entered June! My baseline appointment at my RE looked good and I started my my estrogen that day. A week later at my second monitor something looked funky on the ultrasound and he believes there are more polyps. WHAT?! Did you not just remove them two weeks ago? How in the world could there be more? I had to cancel my transfer again. Unbelievable!! This same week I had my baseline mammogram scheduled. The tech assured me that it’s very common to get a callback for extra imaging when your breast tissue is dense, so don’t be alarmed. Sure enough, I had the pleasure of a call back because they saw an 11mm cyst. The earliest appointment was for the following week. That week was like TWW on steroids. I kept telling myself that it was just a cyst and not breast cancer. I made the mistake of looking it up online and reading all possible outcomes. Needless to say, I wasnt sleeping well. In fact I woke up one morning around 5am with severe pressure in my chest. It felt like there was a ton of bricks just lying on top of me. So I sat in bed wondering if I was having a heart attack or acid reflux. Don’t laugh, but my husband dropped me off at the Northwestern Emergency department… I walked in and said ” Based off my online research of symptoms, I’m either having a heart attack or I have acid reflux.” After a bunch of tests, it turns out that I am at a VERY low risk of heart issues, and it was just bad acid reflux or perhaps a panic attack in my sleep. Either way, since I have blood clotting disorders I didn’t want to risk anything and I’m glad I went in despite how embarrassing that was. At least I got to laugh with the nurses about it. Fast forward to the next week. I have an ultrasound of my right breast and it turned out to be a fluid filled cyst. THANK GOD! Two days later I went in for my polyp removal surgery #2. “Another day another hospital gown ” was my motto that year – or for six years if we’re being honest.

Polyps were removed, period came a week later and I was on my way to FINALLY start my FET not-so -lucky #7 prep. My prep typically takes around three weeks before transfer date. I was going to my RI and my RE every week. I looked like a swollen buffalo from all the prednisone I had been taking. Transfer day approaches, I pop a valium and the transfer went pretty smoothly, but after I just had a gut feeling it didn’t work. Btw, when you have a gut feeling it’s 100% accurate every time! At least for me it is. That TWW was brutal af. I had so many symptoms that felt as though I was pregnant. I actually believe the embryos started to implant, but stopped. I of course am an early tester because who can honestly wait?! The anxiety of waiting is torture. That’s one of the worst parts of IVF, in my opinion. All. the. waiting. Waiting for your next appointment, waiting for your results, waiting to POAS, waiting for your beta, then waiting for your second beta, then waiting for your ultrasound. It takes a major toll on your mental health to be in a constant state of waiting. Try that for six years and let me know how that works out for you! 😂 I should also mention that I had made the decision to move forward with surrogacy if this transfer was a fail or another miscarriage. This was my stopping point and I was completely content with it because I knew I had tried everything possible before moving forward. I can look back and honestly say I did enough. I think that’s important when pursuing surrogacy (or adoption) because if you’re not mentally ready or can’t accept that you will not be pregnant, your surrogacy journey will not be a pleasant experience for you. Acceptance is a topic I cannot wait to go into because it’s one of my favorite limbs of yoga called “Aparigraha” which translates to ‘non-attachment.’ In order to reach a state of non- attachment we must accept what is. Well, not that you’re surprised by now, but this transfer did not work and to be honest I felt a sense of relief. I was done. I was done living in doctor’s offices, done getting diagnostic testing, done with procedures, done with shots, done with meds and 20 supplements. DONE. It felt so good. Like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I also made the decision to switch fertility clinics since I had done one-too-many transfers without success. Pro tip- leave your clinic after three failed transfers. So much goes into this process and every little detail matters, from your protocol to the clinics labs and embryologists. That was one thing I regret, not switching clinics sooner and not doing my research on success rates prior to choosing a clinic. You live and you learn. In August I spent the month making appointments with two different clinics and also with potential surrogacy agencies. I settled on a well-known clinic in Chicago called “Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago” with very high success rates who happened to also work with the surrogacy Agency (Pink & Blue) that I went with.

Remember how I mentioned I’m really into signs? Well, before I had my phone consult with Jesse, the coordinator and owner of Pink & Blue, I asked God to give me a super clear sign that this was the right agency and that I was on the right path. So when Jesse calls me on a random Thursday at 11am, she starts to talk and then says “hold on, I cant hear you the church bells are ringing.” I mean?!? Was that not the clearest sign you can receive? This is what I mean, friends. The signs are there, you just need to ask for them and be open to receive them. Okay, enough about signs- for now. Fast forward to September. I started my fourth and final egg retrieval. Pretty interesting that my first and my last egg retrievals were both in September. That’s what I like to call full circle. Another sign? Perhaps. The process for an egg retrieval meant for surrogacy is a little different because there are FDA requirements since you’re considered a Donor and the surrogate will be receiving your “donor” embryos. This requires a full physical, infectious disease labs, genetic testing and PGT testing your embryos. I was put on birth control for about three weeks (birth control makes me crazy) and then I started my IVF stims. I was on Follistim and low dose HCG. This was different that my other three protocols and it turns out my embryos were better graded because of this small switch. For those who like the stats, I had 10 eggs retrieved, only 6 were mature, 5 fertilized and all 5 made it to freeze. We tested those five and two came back as normal. Believe it or not my ‘lower’ graded embryos were the normal ones. I had a 4CA (who became Mr. Alexi) and a 6BB. Oh, another quick note on signs. Instead of praying for what I wanted to happen, this time I asked God to simply give us exactly what we needed even if that meant zero embryos. He delivered. He gave us one boy and one girl. Though after all these sleepless nights, crying and screaming- I’m not so sure how I feel about having a second kid lol. Anyway, that cycle was pretty rough. I suffered from insane cramps that would wake me up in the middle of the night, every night, for 12 days. I also had way more monitor appointments at this clinic. Literally every other day for 12 days. Once that was over, we had to wait a few weeks for our PGT results and once we got those results in November, I filled out my application at Pink & Blue. In December we officially signed the contract and paid the fee. We were off on our surrogacy journey!

Okay, I gotta stop here because my monster is waking up any minute and you know how that goes! Thanks for listening to part two! Be back soon ❤️

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