Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas (a little late) and Happy New Year!

Last night, we got home from a wonderful week with family.  Since Grandaddy passed away this year, we did not have our traditional Christmas obligations.  As sad as it was to be "deviating" from our usual Christmas routine, it was nice to have something to look forward to.  This year, we decided to spend Christmas on the beach!  We booked a 3 bedroom condo on Cinnamon Beach in Palm Coast, Florida.  Adam, Mom, Dad, Leslee, Joey, Job, Adeline, Trey, and I all checked in on Friday night and enjoyed a week full of playing, eating great food, a few drinks, and wonderful times together!  The beach was beautiful and our condo had beautiful views of the sunset (facing the lake) every evening.

The week also afforded Adam and I the opportunity to visit some of our closest friends and some new friends, who happen to live in Jacksonville.  We spent 2 days visiting with everyone in Jacksonville and loved every minute of these times together!  Though we enjoy Tennessee, most of our friends are still in Jacksonville (except for a few) the visits were wonderfully refreshing for us!  We also visited Grandmother in Moultrie on the way home, and we visited Grandaddy's grave site.  Obviously, it was sad...but well worth the "detour."

We are now glad to be home.  Adam will stay up tonight, eat pickled herring, and toast to a glass of sparkling wine.  For me, I'll be barely awake, will eat the tiniest bite of herring possible to still "count," and avoid the alcohol because I'm on call!  (Maybe a sip at most...)  Tomorrow, we'll eat greens and black-eyed peas (for money and good luck) with Mom and Dad.

For me, New Years is not anything special.  This is probably because I've been on call for 7 of the last 9 of them!  Guess that takes away the "celebrating!"  I guess for many though, New Years symbolizes fresh starts and hope.  I don't have much in the way of resolutions, as this year has taught me that most of what I desire can't be given or earned.  Frankly, this year has taught me two is that really, there are many things that none of us can control in life.  The second lesson that 2011 has taught me is that sometimes, we really can only handle one day at a time and have to often get by on a day-to-day basis.  I've certainly had these reality checks this year! 

2011 has been full of losses for us.  Grandaddy's death was by far the greatest loss for our entire family.  Our infertility and realizing that a "natural" pregnancy was impossible for us has been the second loss.  Between the two, it's been hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.  2012 is predicted by many (including Adam) to be a "better" year.  While it's hard for me to believe it, I sure hope the "many" are right!  For me 2012 is another year...just another calendar date to get used to writing.  I'd love for it to be the year we have our first child...but time will tell on this matter.

For those who love New Years, Happy New Year!  For those of us, like me, who just see a change in numbers tomorrow, best wishes that 2012 surprises us with its good fortunes!  God bless you all in 2012!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'd Give Us a "D!"

Jenny Wren...this is for you!

Most of you know me...and you know that I NEVER fail!  Until this year, I have rarely failed anything (maybe one test here and there...but NOT a normal occurrence).  2011 has totally changed that!  This year, I've failed several things...though none were within my control.  If compliance guarenteed an "A," I would have made all "A+'s!"
Today, we went to Nashville for our last appointment of the year.  As the ultrasound tech measured our lining, I noticed that the numbers were NOT 7mm.  She sincerely made every possible effort to find a 7mm lining, but it simply wasn't there. The best thickness she could find was 6.6mm (goal was 8mm). Obviously, I was REALLY worried and bordering on upset...though knew that until the blood work returned that there would be no "plan."  Anita decided that since we were not sure which way things were going to go, she would just send me home with the Progesterone in Olive Oil bottle...rather than just giving me the injection. I could tell that she was a bit worried as well, though she was definitely trying to find a way for us to still be ready in February! (I could see her "calculating" dates in her head...)  As usual, she promised to call me as soon as she talked to Dr. V...who couldn't make a decision without the results of the labs.
At 4:12pm, Anita called me.  She was quite bubbly and told me that both of us were worried about nothing!  Though he didn't communicate it with the two of us (or anyone else), he never planned to get our lining to 8mm.  Because of my clotting issues, being obese, and the fact that this was a trial run, he intentionally kept the estrogen doses and levels low.  His goal was to see endometrial growth and elevating blood estradiol levels...not full maturation.  He was actually pleased with the cycle and feels very confident that we will easily hit 8-9mm on the "real" cycle!  So, after a nail-biting day...we are relieved!
Overall, I'd say we "Passed" the mock cycle...but with a "D" grade.  At this point, I'll take it!
Tonight is officially my last "stick" of the year!!!  Injecting olive oil into my hip weirds me out a little (and causes a nice pink goose-egg), but I am VERY happy that we are done!  February, here we come!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Last Days as a 2011 Human Pin Cushion!!!

Wish he was smiling!

Since Wednesday is my last day to go to Nashville (hopefully until 2012), I figured I'd begin to "celebrate" the fact that I'm about to have a break from injections and blood draws!  From this moment, I am hoping I'm down to just 4 more "sticks!" (1 blood draw, 2 Delestrogen injections, and 1 Progesterone injection)  Assuming things look good, I believe that I'll be done until 2012!
(Well...I still need a flu shot, but I'm not counting it!)
One day last week (while reading a whiney post on Facebook about pregnancy), I decided to total up all of the "sticks" that I've had this year.  Overall, here's the (minimum) breakdown:
49 Lupron
44 Lovenox
18 Repronex (often at maximum doses of 6 amps)
2 HCGs
26 Progesterone In Oil (sometimes with Delestrogen)
15 Delestrogen (not counting PIO)
3 Demerol/Phenergan Combos
1 Toradol
35 Blood Draws (Countless tubes)

TOTAL:  193 (+19 "Sticks" Under Anesthesia for Egg Retrieval)

Needless to say, I've paid a HUGE price in hopes of getting pregnant at some point!  I can't even count the number of ultrasounds and other procedures I've had this year, but trust me...more than most women have throughout all of their reproductive years! 
For many of my infertile friends, these numbers are nothing!  Several of you have endured MANY more!  For my fertile friends, this is just another example of how truly blessed you are!  To be honest, we still have many more to go before we get pregnant...and will have 2-3 per day during our entire pregnancy when/if it happens!  Perhaps our greatest prize is the fact that we also get weekly ultrasoundsfor the first 14 or so weeks of pregnancy (one advantage, I guess)!
Today, our Nashville visit went well.  Our bloodwork looked really good and my endometrial lining is 7.1mm with some "layering." By Wednesday, we need it to be 8mm (though 9mm would be better) and with a true triple layer.  In theory, this should be easily accomplished.  IF we "pass" (though keep our history of failure in mind), we are officially cleared to cycle in February and could even be pregnant by March.  I can't tell you how wonderful this would be!
Have a great week everyone! (And for those who asked...I deleted the "gross" pictures from my phone...Maybe next time...)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tis the Season...

At the Helen, GA Gazebo after breakfast at Hoffer's Bakery!

Anna Ruby Falls this morning!
This weekend, Mom, Dad, Adam and I went to see the Colquitt County Packers play in the Georgia High School State Quarter-Finals.  While the Packers lost, we still had a great trip down and enjoyed the game.  After the game ended, we headed up the road for a weekend in Helen, GA.
Helen is a little German-themed alpine village with nice little shops, a beautiful river, and relatively good food.  We attended the Helen Christmas parade and festival, which was quaint...but still nice.  We enjoyed a nice German dinner at the Troll Tavern and watched the Georgia Bulldogs play LSU...  Let's just say that UGA did NOT play well the second half and the game got a bit long!  All 4 of us finished the game.  Mom and Dad headed back to our hotel for bed.  Adam and I went back to our room and watched the Hangover...which always seems to be on TV when we are travelling (and yes, we always watch it)!

Now...for the update on life in general.  We are two appointments away from completing our mock cycle.  I have been on estrogen injections for a bit over a week the hip (or as most people say, butt).  We had a bit of excitement last week when Adam hit an artery and made a BIG mess in our kitchen!  Needless to say, he freaked out and I just held some pressure until things calmed down.  In the end, we survived and all was well!  (Our nurse LOVED the photos of the "event!")  As for the cycle itself, things are going very well.  My body has responded very nicely to the drugs and the labs/ultrasounds are all looking great! 

Now...for  Public Service Announcement:
Estrogen injections and Alcohol do NOT mix!!!
 I have now "tested" this theory twice...once with 2 glasses of sangria and this weekend with 2 German beers.  I have concluded that the type of alcohol doesn't's all bad!  I got terribly nauseated both times and had bad headaches.  Needless to say, I think my drinking days (even small amounts) are coming to a screeching halt!  I'm fine today, but last night was not my idea of fun.  Lesson learned!

Adam and I at the falls!
Mom and Dad at the Gazebo!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

For those who have followed the blog for several years, you know that I’ve traditionally written a Thanksgiving post. In some ways, it is a tribute to the year and in others…a tribute to those who mean the most to me. 2011 has been a tough year for the Sawinski household. Our year began with an infertility diagnosis and was quickly followed by Granddaddy’s wreck and later passing. I still miss my Granddaddy tremendously and not a day passes that I don’t think of him (and usually tear up). Obviously, there is no baby in our home this year…but there is hope for next year!

After some reflection, here are the things (and people) I am most thankful for:

1. My faith in God. The fact that I have somehow managed to maintain my faith this year and have learned to truly surrender my goals to meet his, is an accomplishment for me. Since we made the decision to change our plan/protocol for having a baby, God has granted us a peace that we haven’t felt since June 2010. For that, I am thankful!

2. My husband. Infertility destroys thousands of marriages each year and places unimaginable challenges on a couple. Not only have Adam and I survived, but we are conquering this process together. We have learned to communicate our feelings openly, to mourn our losses with each other, to lean on each other when we both feel guilty for the insufficiencies of our bodies, and most of all…to love each other so deeply that if we never have a child, we will still be super blessed that God brought us together! Adam is my soul mate…and for that, I am thankful!

3. My family. Losing Granddaddy this year was the biggest loss I have ever faced. His death was the devastating to everyone in my family, and we are still grieving the loss of such an amazing Dad, Granddaddy, husband, professional, and friend. In Granddaddy’s loss though, I have learned that our family REALLY loves each other. Mom, Dad, Leslee, and Trey are my life outside of Adam. They support me in my marriage, my medical practice, my personal life (including our infertility decisions), and my faith. For my family, I am thankful!

4. My friends. At many times this year, I have felt so isolated from my friends. Many have gotten pregnant and had babies, all while Adam and I are still in the “trying stages.” Many have had their children with minimal or no effort, so they simply have not been able to identify with our problems. Sometimes, I’m sure our friends avoided us just because they didn’t know what to say…which I have finally come to understand. However, there is a small group of people who have sent texts, facebook/blog messages, forum posts (esp. my DE II Ladies), telephone calls, and prayers. YOU are the friends who have sustained us in this process! And for my one best friend who made EVERY dinner during my bed rest, gave me many injections when Adam needed help or was in class, came to my house at midnight the night Granddaddy died to help me pack and to take Fonzie, laid on my bed with me rotating ice packs while I sobbed with the massive hip pain from the injection reaction, and sat by me on the couch for hours after the two IVF cycles failed and Adam and I were grieving in such different ways. I’ve never needed a special friend like I have this year, and you have truly been a gift from God. For my best friend and all of my friends, I am truly thankful!

5. For our pets. Adam and I lost Lilly (my iguana) this year, and Mom and Dad lost Maggie (their poodle). Both were over 15 years old! Fonzie is 13 years old this year, but he continues to be my bed rest buddy and keeps me warm at night. Our pets have brought so much joy to our lives, and for that…I am truly thankful!

6. My home and my country. While our government is in a state of disarray, I am still thankful to be an American and to live in a wonderful home in a safe community. For both, I am thankful!

7. Our infertility. Thanks to our infertility, I am a better wife, patient, and physician. I’ve learned to pray more, trust more, lean on Adam more, and to become more sensitive to the issues that others face. There are so many things I’ve learned NOT to say as a result of this process…not to mention those things you shouldn’t tell your doc or his office manager (haha)! In the end, this challenge has made me REALLY value my God, my marriage, and my life. It has also made me realize how very badly I want to be a mother and it has challenged me to endure more emotionally and physically that I ever have before…and that I thought I ever could! For our infertility (despite its hardships), I am thankful!

I sincerely try to make Thanksgiving a day of reflection on all of the things I am grateful for. I live a blessed life with so much to look forward to in the future.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, God Bless You!

PS We were cleared to start our mock cycle on Friday! I am way too excited about getting to take shots again, but this is a step in a positive direction (for a change)!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Camping, New Toys, and a Lifestyle Change

Last weekend, Adam and I had planned to make our second annual trip to Cloudland Canyon to camp.  Just as we were finishing loading the car, I had the thought that maybe I should call and verify that there were indeed sites left.  I'm glad I did, because there were none for Saturday night!  So, we quickly got online and called Mammoth Cave National Park.  I had been interested in camping there for awhile, so it made sense to call.  The nice lady on the phone told us that there would be plenty of availability and to head on up!  So, we drove the 2 hour and 15 minute beautiful drive to the park.  We enjoyed the fall colors and nice conversation on the drive.  Once we got to the park, we chose a camping site (after 3 trips around the loop) and had our camp set up within an hour.  Because we were concerned about cave tours selling out on a Saturday, we drove up to the Visitors Center.  We found out that a tour was leaving in 10 minutes that was not always offered...the Stargazer Lantern Tour. It mimics the historical tours of the 1800s and uses only lantern light through the cavern.  We decided to go on this tour and had a great time!  We got back to the campground around 8:30pm and cooked dinner and dessert.  On Saturday, we relaxed around the campsite, read, talked, and decided what we wanted to do.  We ultimately decided to take another tour, the Frozen Niagra Tour that afternoon.  Once we finished this tour, we had dinner out and returned to the campsite for some s'mores and chocolate/butterscotch/marshmallow-stuffed campfire bannanas.  On Sunday morning, we got up and broke camp.  We had a nice breakfast at Cracker Barrell and took our time coming home.

Overall, it was a beautiful weekend.  Adam and I really enjoyed being together without offices, computers, TVs, and most of all...injections!  Because my knees killed me on the tour stairs, I realized it was time to get healthy and shed some weight.  So, with that realization....I have started eating healthy and exercising!  So far, I've lost 4 pounds in 5 it seems to be working! 

Our new toy is an XBOX Kinect!  We got it last night and danced ourselves to death!  I'm really glad we have such a wonderuful marriage and that we can enjoy ourselves in activities like this!  (Seeing Adam dancing in his underwear is enertaining enough!)  I forsee a "sports" game in our maybe even today!

As for our infertility future, we do have plans now that have been officially "set."  Within the next 2 weeks, I'll hopefully start our trial-run in preparation for a costly and exciting cycle in late January/early February.  Assuming my bloodwork and ultrasound look good, we'll be back on injections daily for about 2 weeks.  Once things look "good," we'll come off of them and will basically be placed back on birth control pills to "sync" my cycle.  If nothing changes (which with our could), then we are looking at an embryo transfer in February.  As bad as bedrest was back in July, I can't wait to do it it means that there's a chance that we could become pregnant!  So, as has been the case for well over a year now, we wait. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Another Road Block...

This is the story of our lives! After lots of thought, Adam and I have decided to do more infertility treatments...and we are NOT travelling across the country to do them! Long-story-short...our odds of success out of town really were not likely to be that different. Knowing this (via second opinions), I just couldn't see spending many thousands of dollars to sit in a hotel room for 8-12 days per attempt getting shots and not being able to "do" anything except for think about what I was losing in practice revenue here in Shelbyville.

We are planning to change to a VERY different protocol next year, which requires a "trial run" of sorts. Since we already knew this was likely in our future, we were excited to start the trial today...even knowing that it involved daily hip injections of estrogen in castor oil! So, Adam and I made our super early pilgrimage to Nashville this morning for bloodwork, an ultrasound, and a talk with our doc. We had a couple of small cysts still hanging out on the left ovary (from the IVF/IUI cycle), but everything else looked good. Our doc explained his opinion of our last cycle and gave me a thorough explanation of why he made his decisions...somewhat defensively. (He knew I wasn't very happy with the last round...thanks to the office manager and nurse!) I was very satisfied with his explanations and told him that had this been explained to me 2 weeks ago...lots of issues could have been avoided! But, we left on good terms and great spirits...and he was more relaxed as well! Heck...if I hated him or really didn't trust him...I would NOT have been sitting in his office this morning!

I went to the office and worked most of the day. Around 3, the boulder blocked the road! Anita called to inform us that my estrogen level was 353 (which was down from the 1353 it was last Thursday). Unfortunately, it had to be less than 60 for us to start the trial-run. And just to refresh your memory...this is the same stupid number that was too low and caused us to not get to do our IVF cycle this month.'s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears...too low...too high...etc. The plan now is to start birth control pills (don't EVEN get me started on the irony of this) and complete a month of them. After that, we can have another set of bloodwork and another ultrasound in hopes of starting the trial again during the week of Thanksgiving.

So...there's your update! I'm not crushed. I'm actually very calm and can't help but find some humor in this! Heck...we can fail now before even starting! Plus, since the "real" cycle can't happen until next year anyway...we have a little time!

BTW If we ever get a baby (or more)...YES...I probably will be a neurotic nut! After this, how could I not be???

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Failure...

Kind of wish this is how it really worked sometimes!
I guess there's not much to say other than that we attempted another IVF cycle and it "officially" failed today. Technically, we never even made it to the egg retrieval this round and were more-or-less forced to "settle" for an IUI (intrauterine insemination). It was that or nothing... In the was nothing either way.
This cycle was physically and emotionally much harder for me. It started off so nicely, but when it went REALLY went south! The good news is that I have been so upset since October 4 (the day the cycle was cancelled) that the "official" failure today was nothing more than a formality.
If there's anything I learned from this cycle, it's that I CAN handle quite a bit more than I thought I could! I've also learned that we have exhausted the capabilities of our region and IF we are truly serious about having genetic children, then we are going to have to travel (and I'm talking more than to Nashville)! We are looking into two world-famous clinics in the western US and have one phone consultation scheduled for next Friday. If we have a good feeling, we will be travelling sometime likely early next year. If not, we'll look into other options.
We've had lots of support this round from our families and close friends, and for that...I am grateful. I'm not sure what our future holds...but I'm just praying there's a baby in it somewhere. Otherwise, I'll ultimately just have to accept the fact that it's not meant for us and be thrilled to have an amazing husband and loving family to share my life with!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Tiny Ray of Hope...

Today has been full of ups and downs. I woke up after a restless night at 5 am to get ready to head back to Nashville with Adam. After some tears in the shower and some on the road up, we made it to Nashville around 7:30am. Adam had to produce his specimen and then we were faced with about 80 minutes to kill. Because today was retrieval day, there were several women with their Moms and friends (likely egg donors) and several couples. It was kind of hard to watch them come and go, knowing that we were supposed to be in that group. Once Adam finished, we went over to Starbucks for breakfast. We "people-watched" for a bit, then it was back to the office by 9:20am for our 9:30 am time. I knew the retrievals were still going, based on waiting room I could tell that we would be waiting this time. (The one time we've ever waited more than 15 minutes was this one...which stunk.)

At about 10:15am, they finally took us back. After some vitals and consents, I was undressed and ready to go. Dr. V brought in the sperm analysis report and showed it to Adam. We were SHOCKED! The last spun sperm (after the lifeless ones were removed) count for Adam was 760,000 (normal is 60-100 million). This time, Adam's spun count was 6.64 million!!! That's WAYYYY more than he has ever had! And, anything over 5 million gives IUI a chance of success! The procedure went quickly and easily. Dr. V offered for Adam to "do the honors," but Adam politely refused. When I asked him why later, he said, "If it fails, I don't want to feel like I was the one who caused it." I certainly wouldn't have felt that way, but I could see his point. Once the procedure was done, I sat up thinking it was time to dress and head out. I was immediately guided back down by Dr. V and told I had to lay flat for 20 minutes. It was boring, to say the least! During the wait, we were given our next set of instructions for meds (more shots...yeah)and I responded to some texts. After the 20 minute timer went off, I dressed and we headed to the car to head home. Adam insisted that I lay back with my feet up, so as to enable his "swimmers" to get to their destination! He was over-the-moon about his "high" the point where I'm pretty sure there will soon be a framed copy placed somewhere within his "man-cave/office!"

I know better than to celebrate, but I at least don't feel like today was a total waste of time, gas, and especially my mental sanity. While our prayers never had anything to do with sperm counts and real possibilities, God knew what we really needed. And to those of you who have prayed for us.... THANK YOU! Your prayers were answered for us today! And really, today is all that matters right now.

We are truly blessed with wonderful families and friends! Thank you all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If It Wasn't For Bad Luck...

I guess the old saying, "If it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all," holds true to us again... Everything in this cycle seemed perfect, until Monday. On Monday, our labs took a big dive. While we hoped it was a "pharmacological" response to a decrease in the meds, I KNEW it was more. On Tuesday, our (ok...MY fears) were validated. Despite a HUGE dose of stimulation medications, our numbers barely rose and our follicles didn't grow. So, we were basically told that the odds of success were slim with IVF and that our cycle was being cancelled. Because we did have a few decent follicles, they offered us IUI (intrauterine insemination) as a "salvage" procedure.

Tomorrow morning, we will head to Nashville for the IUI. The odds of success are slim to none, but's this or nothing. Since I had already planned to be off, I am going to take the day tomorrow to relax and give this the best shot possible (all 1% of it).
Once this fails, we are going to take a break until next year... I can't speak for Adam, but I NEED a break. For the next 2 weeks, we'll continue with 3 injections per day (2 Lovenox and 1 Progesterone/Estrogen combo)...which means more bruising for me. I figure it's like a torture sentence...but know that IF a miracle occured and we did get pregnant, we'd lose the pregnancy without it.

So...once again...with very heavy hearts, it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe not ever...guess we'll just see what the future holds.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We Are Back!

Nice pic, not sure about Adam's "lazy" eye!
Adam on the trail...

Starting off...

"Real men..."

This weekend, I decided I needed to get out of town! I was not on call and Dr. M gratiously agreed to round on my one patient for me. I knew that I wasn't really comfortable being several miles back in the woods with no cell phone reception while on aspirin and this was our last hike for at least a few weeks (hopefully for much longer)!
Mom, Dad, and Trey left Thursday for Pigeon Forge; while Adam and I left after work on Friday. On Saturday morning, we had a great breakfast at the Apple Barn together. Trey, Adam, and I then headed up to Cosby, TN to Cosby Cove, a portion of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. We really didn't have time to make our "usual" 5-7 mile hike secondary to the shorter days, so we chose a 4.4 mile hike to Hen Wallow Falls.
The ascent was a nice climb...for 2.1 miles. The last 0.1 mile was straight down a rocky, rooty, and VERY slick path! The falls were flowing very nicely and were quite beautiful! We enjoyed them for about 15 minutes then made our way back to the parking area. It was an absolutely perfect day for a hike and I am SOOOOO glad we went!
BTW...I got stung AGAIN by a yellow jacket on the trail! For those who have followed the blog for a long time, you may remember that this happened a couple of years ago. I ended up with a whelp that covered my entire flank! This round, it was on my left leg. For now, it's about 4"x2" in size. I suspect that it'll "grow" to about twice that within the next 2 days...if history repeats itself. Gotta LOVE sensitive skin with delayed-type hypersensitivity!
I'm now back home. My meds are all set for the week (injections that can be "pre-drawn" are ready and pills are in the organizer). I feel rested, calm, and just ready to get the process started tomorrow. Overall, the weekend was a perfect getaway for Adam and I to spend time with Trey and my parents...AND to relax! Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Monday It Is!

Well, just got back from a rainy wet drive to Nashville. Today was the day that we went in to be sure that we are "suppressed." In layman's terms, to see if we were in chemical menopause yet... While I don't know the results of the bloodwork, I can tell you that the ultrasound definitely says that we are! My ovaries were tiny today...which is a good thing (relatively speaking)!
Anita and I met (she says her quickest "calendar talk" in a long time) to review the calendar. I got my blood drawn, Dr. V did a quick ultrasound, and I was on my way. I guess you could say that we are now "regulars" because EVERY person in that office knows me by name!
We are heading to the Smokeys this weekend to relax, maybe hike (weather permitting), and to get ready for this next phase... For sure, we will be on 11-12 pills per day and 4 injections per day. We'll head back next Wednesday to see how things are progressing....
For those who have the time or can take it, please send prayers and warm thoughts our way! This is a BIG deal for us (though sometimes I think mainly me) and we'd LOVE for it to maybe work. Our odds are low for success (less than 15%), but this is our last round before having to move to some major protocol changes...
Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why Two When You Can Have Four???

There never seems to be a dull moment in our lives! Yesterday, while slaving away in our wound care clinic, I got a call from CRH in Nashville. I guess Anita missed me, because she called to ask me if I had talked to Dr. Vasquez. I said, " Should I be worried?" She went on to tell me that the studies from my blood-letting last month had come back...finally. When the panel was drawn, it was to look for antibodies and other lab anomalies that would increase the risk of spontaneous placental clotting..which is a HUGE factor in miscarriages and complications of some pregnancies. It also could explain why, despite being relatively "pretty," Scrappy A and Scrappy B didn't "stick." (If you don't know who these are/were, I guess you'll be reading the previous blog posts!) The panel tested for 23 things. Being my typical overachieving self, I didn't test with one high (which is a bad thing) value...I got 8 "highs."
So, I'll be you are wondering what this means. Well, it means that had we not done this, we could have gone through multiple IVF cycles only to miscarry. I am VERY thankful our doc tested early, as this could save us lots of heartbreak (which I'd argue we've had plenty this year).
The good news is that this problem is "easily" fixed... All we need is Lovenox, a prescription blood-thinner. And we only need it until we fail the cycle OR until we go into labor. Yep...this is a LONG commitment! I was, however, very thankful to get the call today from the pharmacy. The girl initially told me that we qualified for free shipping, to which my first thought was heck yeah...because you are about to tell me that it costs half of my mortgage every month! But, she went on to say that the drug (with our insurance who approved it immediately) was only going to cost $7/month... AMAZING! (If you think medication costs are high...try buying infertility medications!)
Now, if you are wondering about the title of the goes. Instead of 2 shots per day (plus an almost daily blood draw in Nashville), we now get to take 4 (and we STILL get that almost daily drive to Nashville to take my blood)! I'm trying to mentally prepare myself to me a human pin cusion...and it's NOT easy! The meds arrive Friday and I'm imagining that we will be "stimming" by next Monday. 2 more days before the sticking (well...we are already on 1 shot a day...but I'm talking about the 4 deal), ultrasounds, drives to Nashville, and afternoon phone calls begin. Wish us luck!!! Again, why 2 when you can have 4???

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sometimes it's the little things...

In the eyes of many, this is a trivial post. But, for is a BIG deal! On our last cycle, I gave myself Lupron injections daily without much fanfare. Unfortunately, this cycle has been very different. On Monday morning, I did my usual routine and grabbed the syringe out of the refrigerator. I stared at it for several seconds (maybe even a full minute) and just couldn't bring myself to do it. I guess you could say that my anxiety got the best of me! Adam came along and I handed him the syringe and said, "just do it please." He reluctantly gave me the shot and has done so all week.

This morning, I got up with the goal of making waffles and bacon for breakfast. I knew I needed to take the Lupron, but Adam was still in bed. I hated to wake him up, so I took the syringe out of the fridge. I prepped my skin, paused several seconds, and managed eventually to give myself the injection! Amazingly, it didn't even hurt or sting...which is what it usually does!

I'm thrilled with myself and hope this will be day 1 of many days to come of giving myself the Lupron. I feel a greater sense of accomplishment over this than I probably did graduating from college. Heck... In the scheme of things, college was WAY easier than this infertility stuff!

Today is already a great day...and it's just getting started. I'm heading to work now to round, finish up charts, and prepare a credentialling application. (Sounds fun doesn't it???) But, I feel quite accomplished in my morning. Sometimes it really is the little things...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

And Another Journey Begins...

For Adam and I, tomorrow begins another IVF cycle. This morning (while he's still asleep), I was doing some spiritual reading and trying to educate myself a little more about God, his will, and our place in life. I often use my quiet Sunday mornings for this, and find that it sets the tone for a nice week...sometimes more than attending church.

Because Adam is Catholic (though certainly not "practicing"), I really wanted to educate myself more on the Catholic stance of IVF. I knew the Catholic church was "against it"... but I wanted to know why and what scripture they used to support their stance. So...thus my study today.
Needless to say, there is not a concise answer. be a brief as possible, there are two major issues/points that were published in the Catholic doctrines in 1987.

1. The Catholic church believes that babies should be created through relations between a man and a woman...period.
2. The Catholic church believes that souls are created at the time of fertilization, thus embryos have souls. Therefore, discarding embryos is considered abortion and thawing embryos that don't survive is in essence, the same.

Wow... Obviously this opens a HUGE can of worms! Rather than go on and on about my issues with this doctrine, I wondered where in the Bible these issues were addressed. As you might expect (since there wasn't anything even close to IVF in those days), they are not!

But here's one verse I did find...
Psalm 113:9 He gives the baren woman a home, making her a joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!

While looking a little bit further, I found this...written by someone named Carol. It pretty much sums up my readings and thoughts this morning. For those who haven't crossed these bridges, it will enlighten you. For those who have, hopefully it was inspire you!

I am a religious person and my faith in what God means when he gives people certain challenges has kept me going through this ordeal. What do I think God meant when he gave me infertility? I think he meant for my husband and I to grow closer, love deeper. I think God meant for us to find the fortitude within ourselves to get up everytime infertility knocks us down. I think God meant for our medical community to discover medicines, invent medical equipment, create procedures and protocols. I think God meant for us to find a cure for infertility. No. God never meant for me to not have children. That's not my destiny, that's just a fork in the road I'm on.
I've been placed on the road less traveled and like it or not, I'm a better person for it. Clearly, God meant for me to overcome my devastation, guilt and sorrow in order to develop more compassion, deeper courage, and greater inner strength on this journey to resolution and I haven't let him down. Frankly, if the truth be known, I think God meant for me to build a thirst for a child so strong and so deep that when that baby is finally placed in my arms it will be the longest, coolest, and most refreshing drink I've ever known.

Happy Sunday everyone!!! God Bless You!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

5th Anniversary Trip to the Big Easy

Because we were both on call for our "real" anniversary, Adam and I booked our annual anniversary trip for one week later. On Thursday night, we flew from Nashville to New Orleans. Since we worked all day, we went to the hotel and got in bed fairly early (think midnight). Friday morning, we got up and walked to the mile to Cafe du Monde for a late breakfast of beignets and iced/frozen coffee.

We then walked through several neighborhoods. After resting for a bit at the hotel (and cooling off), we headed to Deanies for a late lunch/early dinner. Adam had their famous heads-on barbecue shrimp and I had crawfish 4 ways (fried tails, au gratin, eatouffet, and dressing balls). We also head coconut bread pudding for dessert. Interestingly enough, they serve red potatoes instead on bread...which was different. Because I LOVE raw oysters, we also had a half dozen for our appetizer. After dinner, we spent a couple of hours in a bar having a few drinks and then went on a New Orleans ghost tour afterwards. We enjoyed the tour and took loads of cool pictures...orbs and even 2 ectoplasms! After that, we were totally exhausted and went back to the hotel for bed.

On Saturday, we went back for more beignets at Cafe du Monde. They were wonderful....again! We then went to the French Market for a bit. After some looking (not buying), we took a private 1.5 hour carriage tour around the French Quarter and out to the cemetery. It was really interesting! We got back and were a tad hungry, so decided to have a "small" lunch of a muffaletta sandwich and crawfish cakes....with a cannoli for dessert at Franks. We finished up at Franks and shopped a bit. We then went to the hotel to rest for about an hour. After resting for a bit, we headed out again to the Royal Oyster House. I ate a dozen raw oysters and crab with corn soup while Adam had an alligator Po-Boy. Both were outstanding! We then went to the Vampire Tour and called it a night!

On Sunday, we had our anniversary brunch at Brennans. It was the best breakfast/brunch I've ever eaten and was a really special dining experience! We dined for about 2 hours and went back to the hotel to change clothes and pack. We then checked out and took the trolley to the Garden District. We walked around there for a bit and then caught our cab to the airport. We had an uneventful trip home and got in bed around 11 Sunday night.

It's been a tough few months for us and this trip was a welcome escape for Adam and I. Adam never ceases to amaze me with his thoughtfulness and demonstrated this on Saturday in the cemetery. During our tour, we were told that people visit the tomb of Mary Leveau in order to make requests or to help "kick" some bad habit. For those who don't know, Mary brought Catholicism to the slaves in New Orleans and is highly respected in the town. For stopping something, people place "Xs" on her tomb. For requests/thank you for prayers answered, they place "Os" or lay a token/gift at the tomb. I listened to the guide who told us this, but didn't really think much of it. When we got there, I noticed that Adam had something in his hands. He bent down and placed 3 quarters at the base of her tomb and turned to smile at me. I teared up a bit and realized EXACTLY what the quarters were for...the 3 embryos that we will be placing during our next round of IVF in late September/early October. And yes....we ARE going to try again. Our chances of IVF success are low, but we really wanted to give ourselves a couple more chances to make a baby (or two). Guess we'll just see how round 2 goes!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Anniversary!!!

My last dance with Grandaddy...

The wedding party.

Our favorite wedding photograph.

Tomorrow is a special day for Adam and I, as it's our 5th Aniversary! Since August 5, 2006 we have lived in 4 cities, moved 3 times, and weathered several losses. Every year has presented some sort of unique challenge, with this one icing the cake (so-to-speak).

Many of you who follow this blog were part of our weding day and we are so very thankful that you chose to spend it with us! We look back on that day as one of the best days of our lives and are so very thankful that God brought us to one another on April 12, 2003.

When I look back on the challenges of this year, I realize more and more that marriages are made stronger during the tough times. Between losing Grandaddy and realizing that having a baby the old-fashion way wasn't possible for us, it's been a sad year. But, we have weathered (and are still weathering) the storms together. For that, I am super grateful!

Thank you all for your friendship, support, messages, prayers, and love for us! I can't wait to see what God has in store for us this next year!

And Adam, thank you for being everything a wife could ask for in a husband! Our song says it all...."God Blessed the Broken Road that Led Me Straight to You."

Love you very much!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not much to say...

For those who knew we were going back to Nashville today, we went. We were given some news that wasn't at all what we had hoped to hear...frankly that no happily married stable couple would ever want to hear. From this point forward, Adam and I have some big decisions to make that are very personal. I don't know when we will update the blog again, as I don't know what decisions we will make or how (or when) the ones we do make will happen. Thank you to those who have followed our blog and supported us these past few months with prayers, calls, texts, and emails. We appreciate them very much!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Today was our official beta-HCG test to determine whether our cycle worked or not. Adam and I home-tested several times this week and all were negative, so I had a bad feeling. Frankly, I never felt "great" that things worked anyway. (I felt like things went as well as they could, but didn't have a good feeling about the success of the cycle.)

In short, we are NOT pregnant...the IVF cycle failed. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, Adam and I will head to Nashville to hear from Dr. Vasquez why he thinks the cycle failed, what could be changed for the next cycle, and whether or not another cycle is in our best interest. From there, Adam and I will decide what's best for us and our families. Frankly, we will likely go through the process again, but will wait a couple of months.

On a positive note, my red, swollen, hot hips (from the injections) will now get a chance to heal and I can begin to feel more like myself...and less "hormonal." I'm looking forward to being a wife again who doesn't require 9 extra pills and a nightly shot!

Thank you for all of your calls, texts, and emails today. We appreciate them all! Our only request is that you please hold your questions for now. The questions being asked are ones that we don't know the answers to yet...and may not for several weeks. Again, thanks!

And by-the-way...BFN means "Big Fat Negative!" It and it's counterpart BFP (the happy acryonym) are common IVF lingo. Amazing what you learn from this process...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jinxed myself.... More meds!

Well, I posted too soon about getting back down to relatively "normal" meds! Anita called today and my hormone levels have dropped quite a bit, despite increasing the doses on Tuesday night. Tonight, we increase the estrogen in our injection, continue our progesterone tabs, AND start 4 capsules of Progesterone per day! We found out back in March that I had a Luteal Phase Deficiency, which is a insufficiency of progesterone during the luteal phase of our cycle. (Progesterone builds a lining that makes the embryo "stick.") So, Iguess this isn't much of a surprise... much for the 1 day "pill" break!

Bedrest has Ended!!!

As most of you know, I've been on super strict bedrest since Sunday. My head couldn't be above 45 degrees and I could get out of bed ONLY to use the restroom (NOT brush teeth, wash face, etc.) and wash my hands. I had planned to be on the computer working quite a bit, but just couldn't do it! I couldn't type at that angle (or see the screen well for that matter) and got frustrated everytime I tried to do the smallest computer-related tasks! Frankly, I felt kind of "washed out" as well and just didn't have much energy.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday went relatively well. Adam took GREAT care of me, Mom came to visit and brought Sonic (my favorite), and Ms. Lokey cooked 3 meals... I watched some TV, slept, and read. Yesterday, however, things changed. My back was super sore and I just couldn't get comfortable. My hormone dosage also doubled on Tuesday night, which didn't help matters. (I melted down and cried because Adam wouldn't buy me a chilli dog for lunch...and I haven't eaten a stupid chilli dog in over a year!) By this morning, I was definitely done!

I woke up a bit before 5 (after a very restless night of being unable to get comfortable) and hopped in the shower. I thought it was going to be wonderful...but it wasn't. I have become so sensitive to smells that the smell of my hair conditioner literally made me nauseated...and I just couldn't seem to shake it. My face cream smelled bad, my garage stank, etc... So, I got clean and headed out for the drive to Nashville. Ms. Lokey offered to ride up with me for company and I the 2.5 hours in the car gets old by yourself. We arrived on time and I had my blood drawn. Today is just a check on estradiol and progesterone pregnancy test yet as it's too early. Anita told me that I was off bedrest, but that I should kind of relax today. Frankly, I feel kind of washed out, so I didn't argue.

We stopped at Cracker Barrell on the way home as well as the office to visit with Mom and Dad. Now, I'm home and going to rest a bit.

One thing I didn't count on at the start of this process is the amount of medication! I'm now just back to my BP meds, vitamins, (off antibiotics and steroids) and nightly injections of progesterone and estrogen. Today marks one full month of at least one shot every day ( one day off). In some ways, sore hips and bruises are becoming part of normal life!

Overall, I am certainly praying this process is successful and worth it! And while I'm kind of sore and tired today, I am VERY thankful to be off of bedrest!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Happy Ending, to this Phase at Least!!!

Hopeful future Sawinskis... Scrappy A and Scrappy B (Named by Leslee)

Well, we sat on pins and needles yesterday dreading the possibility of a phone call that would end this cycle...but, thankfully it never came! I couldn't sleep all night because I just had this fear that we would get up there today, only to be told that there was nothing good enough to transfer. We headed to Nashville around 6:45 am and arrived at 8:05 am. During our trip, the rain had stopped and there was a hint of sunshine behind the clouds. We went into the office and waited until we were called back.

Around 8:30 am, we were called to the back. I, once again, had the opportunity to change into a buttless gown and booties. I placed my clothes in "my" locker and went to sit in the all-to-familiar recliner. There, we signed consents for the transfer. I also was given another intramuscular injection of Demerol/Phenergan and had more blood drawn. The nurse had to look for areas that had "less" bruising, as I've become one big bruise as of late!

After the forms were signed, Dr. Vasquez came in to talk to us. He was not nearly as worried about our egg quality as Anita had implied. He stated that it was "fine" and that he "saw no issues with it." We discussed what options we had and the pros/cons of each. We had a total of 3 embryos. Two were Grade B (He said they almost never gave A's.) and there was one Grade C, which was fragmented. He offerred placing one, two, or all three. After more discussion, Adam and I chose to go with the two Grade B embryos (one with 8 cells and one with 10). The Grade C will likely arrest tonight, so can't be frozen. Overall, we KNEW that triplets would not be safe for us in light of my blood pressure issues and the fact that we both work! In the end, we went with our original plan, which was to place 2!

After all forms were signed and my drugs (which also included Valium) were in, I was escorted to the OR. Adam was allowed to "dress" as well and go with me this time, which was comforting. During the wait, we also talked to the embryologist who assurred us that our eggs were ok and that if this failed, we were NOT hopeless in the future. We waited for a bit more and then I got to sit with my knees in stirrups for several minutes...almost an hour! I drifted in and out...half awake. Dr. Vasquez, the embryologist (via a side door), a tech, and his nurse all came in. The speculum was placed and we got started. After lots of "embryo-safe" prepping was done, he began to position things. Adam describes his placement as a "roller coaster." Apparently, my anatomy is VERY hard with two sharp twists in order to make it into the uterine cavity. Even with two cervical sutures, he had a tough time. I was defnitely thankful for the drugs, as I'm pretty sure that the process would have been REALLY painful otherwise. Even with drugs, it was uncomfortable (and frankly painful) at times. Once ready though, the embryos were verified as ours and passed through the embryology "door." Shooting them in was definitely something that I felt! It was actually painful, but such a relieving and happy moment as well! He then removed the cervical sutures, which caused a fair amount of bleeding. I had to sit with some packing for about 20 minutes to ensure that everything stopped. Dr. Vasquez then came back in, removed things, and was pleased. I laid on the bed for another 15 or so minutes, then was transferred to recovery via stretcher. After another 15 or so minutes, I was allowed to dress (while laying with my head just barely elevated) and to use the restroom. I was then rolled out to the car and rested in the back seat on the way home.

I've laid around all afternoon and cannot get out of bed except to use the restroom. Actually, I can't even raise my head above 45 degrees! We called Dr. Vasquez (as instructed) this afternoon, who reported that our labs are good. Now, we continue our plethora of meds and nightly shots...while being glued to the bed!

Overall, I can't start to express how thankful I am that things went so well today! Friday's news was devastating, as I was afraid that we would be told that there was no hope for us having a child who was biologically ours. Satuday was torture and today was just wonderful! The pain was nothing compared to the happiness we have knowing that we DO have a chance and that this may just work! Whether the ending is happy or not, today was a perfect as it could be and for that, I am super grateful. Our (and many of your) prayers were answered today! Perhaps, someone else had a little influence as least I'd like to think so!

Thank you to all who called, emailed, and messaged us this weekend. I read every one of them and appreciate all of your prayers and support. And Jordan, thanks for the "eye candy" package!

Friday, June 24, 2011


Out of 19 eggs retrieved yesterday, 17 were mature. All 17 were treated with ICSI (sperm injected into egg) and of those, only 9 fertilized. Overall, our egg quality was poor...which was not expected. (Our bloodwork indicated good quality eggs on every draw. However under the microscope, our eggs were dark in color and irregular...) Lots of normal, healthy babies have been born from poor quality eggs, but it's not a good sign.

For now, we wait until tomorrow to hear if the embryos cleaved appropriately. If they did well, we will not be called and will be going to Nashville on Sunday at 8:15 am for an embryo transfer. We have been encouraged to consider placing more than 2 embryos in light of the egg quality, but will be able to make better decisions depending on how the embryos look on Sunday.

If we are called tomorrow, all embryos essentially died and the cycle is a failure. Frankly, with poor egg quality...I'm not sure additional cycles would be in our best interest as they are likely to fail as well.

Our fingers are crossed that the phone doesn't ring tomorrow, but we are prepared either way. It's going to be a long weekend for sure...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

19 Eggs!!!

Well, I'm up and doing great. The egg retrieval went really well thig morning and overall, 19 eggs were retrieved! We won't know how many fertilized (which means they were injected with a sperm and have divided) until tomorrow morning, but I'm hopeful that most will!

For those who want details (otherwise, that's the end of the post):

We got to CRH at 7:15 am (early as usual to avoid traffic) and went into the office around 7:40 am. There was one man who came into the waiting room from the back, so we assume he was waiting on his partner's egg retrieval. We waited until 8:10 am and were beginning to get a little anxious. (The trigger shot we took on Tuesday was at 8:45 pm, and egg retrieval should be done 36 hours later...if too late, you can ovulate and lose eggs.) They took me back at 8:15 am to the OR area. I had to provide a urine specimen for a pregnancy test (still find this a bit ironic) and get changed into the infamous open-backed gown, blue cap, and booties. I then went to a recliner where I signed some consent forms and received my ID bracelet. I was asked to consent to a cervial stitch. I wasn't even sure as to what it was or was for, but not wanting to delay...signed the form anyway! Very shortly after, I walked into the OR and got onto the bed. It looked more like a modified exam table than an OR bed, which makes sense for what they are doing. 2 CRNAs (one was a student) and the anesthesiologist came in a spoke to me. They put in an IV (and drew some blood....shocking, I know) and within minutes, I was out! I vaguely remember moving onto the strecther and hearing something like "18 eggs." I woke up about 10 minutes later in recovery doing well. I got dressed and was wheeled out to the car. Adam asked Anita about the eggs and was told that there were 19. my stupor, I was close!

Overall, it was a positive and easy experience! Now, we wait to see how many fertilized!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moving to the next stage...

Today was a good trip to Nashville! Adam and I got to CRH around 7:30am and headed on in. I made the obligatory first stop at the lab and had my 4th blood draw in my left arm in a row (the right was still too bruised to stick). We then headed to the exam room for our ultrasound. Dr. Vasquez and Anita came in (Yes, I'm spoiled by my doc actually doing the ultrasounds...not usually the case.) and got started. I had over 18 follicles that were "mature." All were big and healthy today!

After some counting, measurements, and a brief pause, Dr. Vasquez basically said that there was no way we could wait until Friday for our egg retrieval. I was just too far along and waiting could cost us a lot of good eggs. I knew he was "building" his case because I had firmly told him on Saturday that I could NOT have the retrieval on Thursday because I had patients scheduled! After the way I've felt today....I would have been fine with tomorrow! So, I told him that I was "cool" with moving the retrieval up and we were good to go.

Anita called this afternoon and told us that my E2 level was 2800. "Normal" for retrievals is 500-1500... Over 3000-4000 can lead to some severe hypsertimulation syndromes. So, I'm at the upper end of success without falling into the high risk range!

Our "trigger" shot (which is a wholloping dose of pregnancy hormone which will make a pregnancy test positive btw) is tonight at exactly 8:45 pm. Tomorrow, I get a break from all injections!!!!!!!! (After 1-2 a day plus tons of blood draws, this is a TREAT!) On Thursday, we have to be in Nashville at 8 am ready and in the OR by 8:45 am. I'm a little scared and nervous, but also excited that we are entering another phase of this process!

On a happy note, our embryo transfer will be on Sunday, the day of our Dampier family reunion. I guess someone upstairs might have had a little hand in that...

Monday, June 20, 2011

More trips...

Well, I kind of wish I could just start sleeping overnight in Nashville since I seem to be living there practically every morning! I went to Nashville last Wednesday (E2 469), Friday (E2 900+) , Saturday (E2 1000+), Sunday (E2 1600+) and today( E2 2011). And yes, I've had blood drawn EVERY visit (see lab values for those interested)...

Today the ultrasound tech was running late. I guess Anita felt bad and knew I had to get back to the office (which was wound care clinic today), so she grabbed Dr. Vasquez to do my ultrasound. It's kind of nice having the doc to do it as you get answers quickly! His "critique" was, "Things look great! Anita will call you this afternoon once the labs come in." (He's a man of few words...) I counted somewhere around 20 follicles again and all seemed to be around 12-20mm.

This afternoon, Anita called and guess what??? I get to go to Nashville AGAIN in the morning! (Plus, I get to have 5 amps of Repronex tonight...our highest dose ever!) Dr. Vasquez wants to repeat the ultrasound himself and make the final decision. Anita (who watched today's ultrasound) feels pretty sure that he's going to move the egg retrieval up a day. She even told me that I might want to "free up my Thursday." So, things are going very well...a little too well. Looks like we could go on Thursday which would make our embryo transfer on the day of the Dampier Family Reunion.

On a personal and sentimental note, to transfer what could very well be our future child/children on the day of our family reunion, would be really special to me. If it happens that way, I'd like to think my Grandaddy had a little something to do with it. He always made the reunion a high priority in his life. While I won't be there this year, I'm praying that Sunday becomes a day that in some little way, perpetuates our Dampier family. Wouldn't that be a special story to tell our children??? It's been over 3 months, but I miss him tremendously...every day (especially yesterday). Hopefully he's getting a nice view from above and is pleased with all of the things we, as his family, are doing!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Another trip...

Well, Mom and I went up to PathGroup Labs today (the actual lab and pathology place for central TN) for another blood draw. After two nights on only 3 amps of our medicine (instead of the 4 we were taking), my E2/Estradiol level was 1006 or 1060. So, we only went up by 100 or opposed to doubling!

Tonight, we go back to our 4 amps and guess what??? I get to go to Nashville AGAIN tomorrow AND Monday! Adam will ride with me tomorrow. Unfortunately, the only way to regulate the drugs is to look at ultrasound results and lab values. Looks like lots of blood draws and trips to Nashville this week.

Our goal is several follicles over 2cm (usually it's less for women, but because I am good...they are shooting for "better" eggs) and an E2/Estradiol level above 3000. At the pace I was going before we backed off, I'd have been ready by Tuesday. So, slowing down now...we are still looking at Friday. I'm definitely getting more excited... Even if things don't work the first time, I'm happy that we at least are able to give this such a good shot and that things are going very nicely so far. I talked to our doc today and he's happy with everything, so we are too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Looks like I'm on overachiever....again.

Growing follicles...Most of mine are over 1 cm now!

Today was another followup visit to Nashville. Our drive up was uneventful and we arrived about 20 minutes early. We were taken back a pinch early, but to different areas. Adam had to cryopreserve his sperm today ($300 extra dollars), so he went into the "man room," while I headed to the lab. I had my Estradiol level drawn then headed to the ultrasound room. My ultrasound showed significant growth in my 20 or so follicles today, which is good! I kind of knew that though because I can FEEL my ovaries (inside...not from my belly)! As best I can measure, they've grown from a normal size approximating a kumquat/olive to a kiwi/tangerine in 48 hours. Looks like I'll have grapefruits by next Friday!

This afternoon, we received our telephone call with future instructions. Turns out, my estrogen went from 469 to 906 in 48 hours. While we want it to rise, doubling is a bit excessive! They dropped my Repronex again to 225 units tonight and guess what??? I get to drive to Nashville AGAIN tomorrow...sigh. Basically, I'm driving up to a specialty lab to have another level drawn. Then sometime after 5, I have to call Dr. Vasquez for instructions on how to adjust my medications.

I'm WAYYYYY overachieving at this point, which is good (that my ovaries work) and bad (that they work way tooo good). Hopefully the labs will be ok tomorrow. As expected, I go back on Monday for another ultrasound and blood draw. Thankfully, I have good veins! Can't do anything the easy's in the Dampier genes!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great Day!

This is what my ovaries look like right now.....Today was overall, a great day! I got up at 5am to get showered and head to Nashville. The traffic was really light (now that school's out), and I arrived 40 minutes early. I sat in the lobby and read my Nook Color while I waited. I was called back relatively on time and started with my labwork. I'm constantly impressed by the women who work in the lab! They seem to never miss and cause almost no pain! (Which is a good thing, since it has to be drawn so often.) I then went back to the ultrasound room and had my first "stimulation" ultrasound. I watched it and saw several follicles, but couldn't keep up with the ultrasonographer's counts as she was so fast! After it was over, I headed back to the hospital where I did 4 cases (2 of which were fairly big) and just got home about 15 minutes ago.

While operating, Anita at CRH called to let us know that we had 20 follicles on ultrasound and my estrogen was 469. (On Friday, my estrogen was under 60 and was likely approaching 0 on Sunday.) For only 3 days of stim drugs, my response is practically perfect! So, I'll take my same dose tonight (4 amps Repronex) and tomorrow I'll decrease the dose to 3 amps. Will continue my same Lupron dose for now as well. So, still 2 shots per day until Friday! I go back Friday for more labs and another ultrasound. If things continue to go this well, our egg retriveal will be next Friday for sure (the 24th)!

Also, our vet called today. Fonzie's repeat hearworm test was negative!!! They will recheck him in one month and if negative again, he's good to go! I am soooooo very grateful for this news and will just hope for the best next month!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We did it!!!

Well, tonight I survived the first "stim" shot! I guess the hormones hit their all time low today (which is technically a desirable thing) as I could hardly get off the couch. Other than showering, going to the hospital to round for a few hours, and going to dinner, I've been parked on the couch all day! (NOT like me at all....)

Because I felt so washed out, I was eager to start the hormones today! We have to take the shot around the same time every night (within 1 hour), so we picked 7:30pm. Ms. Lokey came over to help and give Adam some moral support...and to be supportive to me as well. Adam has never given any type of injection before and has a huge issue with needles. So...this was a BIG deal to him!

Overall, I'd give him a B+....or maybe an A-. He did everything right, but was a pinch slow. Ms. Lokey helped him and talked him through the process step by step. I'm glad it's done (for tonight) and that each day will get easier and least from an injection standpoint.

I'm thrilled that the process has officially begun and just pray that we see some growing follicles on Wednesday! Thanks to everyone who has sent messages and left comments these past few weeks. I've read and deeply appreciated every one of them!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 10 Visit to CRH

Well, yesterday we went to the Center for Reproductive Health in Nashville (CRH) for our "suppression check" and "teaching" session. Since May 29, I have been taking Lupron injections daily. The goal of Lupron is to suppress the ovaries to prevent ovulation and hormone production. In layman's terms, it mimics menopause.'s been an interesting couple of weeks! Overall, I've done fine. I'm still not too fond of giving myself shots in the tummy, but I HAVE managed to do it on time every day! I have mild headaches from the drug and some facial flushing, but really nothing that dramatically impacted my day-to-day life.

We were taken back quickly by Anita (the IVF Nurse Cordinator). She organized each medication into separate bags with cute labels...practically idiot-proofing them! She them went through exactly what we were to do and allowed Adam to "practice" his injection skills. His practice round went well from the standpoint that he didn't pass out, but I'm a little nervous... He REALLY wants to give them and be a part of this process (he gets the "good" part), so I'm going to grit my teeth and bear it tomorrow night... I will have Ms. Lokey with us though, so that she can inject if Adam wimps out (or hits the floor)! We were given our schedule and then send down the hall for our ultrasound and labs.

The ultrasound looked great (thin lining and lots of follicles) and I assume the estrogen level was low. (Anita said that no afternoon phone call meant good news.) So, we are good to start the next phase. We have survived the suppression phase and are now starting the stimulation phase tomorrow.

For those who really want to know, here are details:
Today: Last dose of Lupron 10 unit suppression.
Tomorrow (Sunday) through Wednesday: Start Doxycycline twice a day (both of us). Decrease Lupron to 5 units per day. Start Repronex (hormones) via hip injection nightly. So, looks like 2 injections per day at least until Wednesday's appointment!

Will post any "new" news Wesnesday... I did learn about my week of bedrest yesterday, which was NOT what I had in mind! From Monday the 27th through Friday, July1, I can't shower or get out of bed for ANYTHING except for using the restroom! They are VERY strict about the bedrest protocols... I even have to eat in bed. Since I'm not lazy and I'm definitely not someone to stay in bed, that is going to be an interesting week for sure.... Hormonal, dirty with frizzy hair, and on out!

More to come on Wednesday... If things do work out and everything goes according to the schedule, we'll have our first pregnancy test on July 8. If they don't, we'll at least know what to expect!

Our Sad Days...RIP Lilly

Well, the Memorial Day weekend was wonderful. Unfortunately, the rest of the week was a doozy. I worked really hard and did several cases during those 4 days. On Thursday night, we noticed that Lilly just didn't look good. Her apetite had been poor for several weeks, despite feeding her all of her "favorite" foods. I knew that I might have to make a tough decision, but was going to take a "wait and see" approach over the weekend. Unfortunately, despite trying everything we could think of (including letting her bask outdoors), Lilly died on June 3, 2011. She was nearly 16 years old and I had had her in my care since March 12, 1996. We took her to the vets and had her creamated. She was with me almost half of my life, so it's definitely weird to wake up and not have to feed her and buy greens for her twice a week! Overall though, she had a great life and I'm glad to have had her in mine for so long! RIP Lilly

If that wasn't enough, we found out this Wednesday that Fonzie (our 13 year old chihuahua) has heartworms. At this point, 3 different vets are reviewing his tests to determine what the best course of treatment will be (if any). It's complicated because of his age and his history of a heart murmur before heartworms... Will just have to wait and see what the recommendations are next week. I'm pretty worried about him. Thankfully, he's his normal (slightly less active) self for now though!

Memorial Day Weekend (continued)....

Not my best look, but still a good pic!

On Sunday, Dad declined his invitation to hike again. Adam and I slept in and then headed out to Meigs Creek Falls. We thought it was an easy hike and we felt like we were "game" to do it. Unfortunately, Sunday was hotter and more humid that Saturday had been! We started our 3 mile hike which consisted of LOTS of elevation changes, sunshine, and creek crossings. Finally, we made it to the falls! We took some photos and headed down the trail. I had a craving for the Melting Pot, which I knew had recently opened in Gatlinburg. So, sweaty, hot, and wet, we had a nice dinner at Melting Pot!

On Monday, we had breakfast at Old Mill and headed home. Overall, it was a GREAT weekend outdoors in the Smokeys!

It's Back...Starting with Memorial Day Weekend

Well, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind for sure! I've had several emails and notes and figured the blog was the easiest way to tell "everyone" what was going on in our lives! This is going to be a long post......
On Memorial Day Weekend, Adam, Mom, Dad, and I went to Pigeon Forge. We arrived Friday night and got settled in our hotels after a shopping trip at Bass Pro Shop. On Saturday, we all had breakfast at Cracker Barrell. Dad, Adam, and I then went to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to hike to Rainbow Falls. Because we had to park quite a ways from the trailhead, we actually hiked 6.6 miles round trip with 1800 feet of elevation gain! It was a gorgeous day and we had a great time.

Dad and I on the trail at the "teaser" falls!

Adam and I at Rainbow Falls.

After we finished our hike, Mom and Dad met up with their friends and Adam and I went for dinner and Old Mill Icecream. We had a rough night (probably from being so sore), so slept in Sunday morning. (Actually, I got up at 7 to start my shots, but went back to bed....)

More to come in next post....had to break it up for photos.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Suspending the Blog for a Bit...

After quite a bit of thought, I've decided to suspend the blog for awhile. I'm not sure whether my decision will last a day or forever, but for now it seems to be for the best. Over the past 4 months (particularly the past 3 weeks), I have discovered what infertility REALLY means and feels like. For anyone who has been through it, God Bless You. (And I hope and pray that I never said anything insensitive to you!)

I have found this experience to be one of the loneliest times in my life. Adam has been my biggest supporter and best friend through the process (which isn't exactly a shocker), but unfortunately there haven't been too many others. Frankly, my best friend (who I really thought would be super-supportive during this time) seems to have withdrawn from me...which is pretty discouraging.

Not once in the past month has anyone asked how I felt in this process or how we were doing. Noone (outside of family) has called; or if they have called, our "fertility" issues were never mentioned. I suppose it's uncomfortable for folks and frankly something that most of my extended family, friends, and collegues can't really understand. Nor does anyone really want to hear about it...

Here are some things said by my patients, collegues, and random others that we don't want to hear....
1. Adopt a child and then you'll get pregnant.
2. Go on a good vacation and it'll happen... (Nope...did 9 days at Disney and 9 days in the Caribbean...didn't work!)
3. Relax and it'll happen. (Tried that too...doesn't fix our problem.)
4. I get pregnant just by looking at my husband/sharing soap/etc.
5. Complaints about your pregnancy or children...

We know our friends love us, but in this case it's from a distance. We start our shots on Sunday, assuming plans don't change. Unfortunately, because of cycle issues...they may. For those who do pray, please pray for us. For those who don't, please send up well wishes, positive vibes, or whatever it is that you do.

I'm so thankful for Adam and our famililes and would kill for friends who care. Unfortunately, I think we are on our own with this from here forward. I'll post again if it seems appropriate, otherwise consider the blog dead...again. Also, please don't comment or message me through Facebook as I'm not planning to spend any time there either over the next several weeks... Hearing pregnant people whine, mothers complain about their children, and others post about how special motherhood is just makes people like me want to vomit. I guess social media isn't always for the best... Til next time, if ever....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hilton Head Girls' Weekend Trip Report

Well, this weekend was our annual Girls' Weekend in Hilton Head. We've been doing this weekend almost every year (in some form) since 2006. It's a nice weekend for Mom, Leslee, and I to visit with our good friends. Over the last 2 years, many of my friends have "dropped out" for various reasons and this year was no exception. However, we always have 8 or 9 women and I must say that it makes for a nice sized group! Mom, Leslee, Ms. Elaine, and her daughter Alison and I are the "rocks" that can always be counted on. We always enjoy seeing each other, even if we were ever to be the only ones! The Schinco/Shaffers also come most years, but only for 1 night. This year, we added Carolyn nurse and best buddy here in Shelbyville. She fit in like a glove and I'm hoping she will be a "rock" for the future!

Over the weekend, we ate fabulous pizza and seafood. We walked on the beach,lounged by the pool ,and napped. And, we enjoyed several tropical libations! This year, we were blessed to be able to enjoy a 4 bedroom/3.5 bathroom home with a pool and hottub directly on the beach. It was fabulous (though a poor design if you wanted to live there)! The views were wonderful!

While there were no kayak misfortunes this year, we did have a few "incidents!" I managed to lock all 6 of us out of the house Friday morning (in our PJs). We were "stuck" on the 3rd floor balcony for about an hour! Then, Lauren arrived at the house on Saturday having forgot her swimsuit AND shoes! (She's 15....just didn't quite remember stupid shoes!) Miren arrived with a totally flat tire and managed to back into a live oak tree in the driveway! So....always something with our bunch!

Overall, the weekend was an opportunity for me to reflect on several things...

1. I have been really resentful of my friends who didn't come and have certainly questioned many of my friendships over the past several months. I also have learned that a few people (who are not the ones reading this) were NOT my friends, which was a hard reality.

2. However, I am really blessed by those who came! Mom, Leslee, Nana (Carolyn), Ms. Elaine, Alison, Miren, Khelsea, and Lauren ARE my friends who came and I couldn't have asked for a better bunch to spend the weekend with!

3. I realize that I have many friends who couldn't come....and they are still special to me! Life circumstances get in the way and priorities in life change. Therefore, whether they came or not, my friends are still my friends...period.

*******************************Most Important Revelation****************************

4. Overall, these weekends aren't about who didn't come or who dropped out. They are all about the ones of us who DO come and I wouldn't trade this year's group (or any of the past groups) for anything!

Thank you ladies who came this year! You made this year EXTRA special and because of that, I WILL find a way to do this again next year! I had a wonderful time and feel VERY refreshed, happy, thankful, and blessed to have enjoyed this with you and can't wait for next year!