Saturday, May 31, 2014


OK body, I'm ready to start the FET now. On Thursday, I got the little loan squared away, I've picked up my birth control, there's a good dose of prenatals coursing through my system, and the embryos are waiting patiently for a transfer. I'm a little less patient (probably because I'm not frozen). Let's do this!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Road Trip with the Froyos!

Today we moved our frozen embryos from our old clinic to our new clinic in preparation for our FET in the next cycle!

Cory caught a cold while we were in Chicago which had him down for the count for a couple of days, and he ended up giving it to me. I started feeling it on Sunday night, so I took NyQuil for two nights in a row and boy did I have some weird dreams. Last night I feel like I spent the entire night in weird reproductive endocrinologist waiting rooms dealing with red tape and the kind of complications that only dreams have. It was like anxiety dreams in stereo, thanks to the drugs. So I was happy to wake up this morning and realize it wasn't going to be nearly as difficult as I'd been thinking all night.

As soon as the clinic opened, I called to confirm our pickup of the embryos. They sounded like I'd caught them a little off guard (in fact, they told me they hadn't heard from me but I'd emailed them last Friday!) but they said they'd be ready for us at 10:30. So I let our new clinic know to expect us, and we started up north.

We signed our waiver in front of the embryologist (yay for not having to find a notary beforehand!) and she had us wait in a consultation room for ten minutes while she filled up the tank. I'd had visions of us transporting a tank, and thought about the photos we could take with it, but the embryologist brought it out in a tall cardboard box. Oh well.

When we got down to the car, we took a few photos with the box'o'froyos.

Proud "Parents"

People kept walking by and looking at us strangely. I wonder what they were thinking. I doubt it was "oh, their future children (if all goes well) are in that box! How cute!"

All Buckled In

We buckled them in, padded them from behind with a jacket or two, braced them in the front with a backpack, and on the side with the umbrella. We didn't want them falling over - not only would it have leaked liquid nitrogen in the car but any tiny fluctuation of temperature could spell disaster. So even after all that, Cory kept his hand on the box the entire drive to ORM. (Aww.)

Safe & Sound

At ORM, we let the receptionist know we'd arrived and then sat down in the waiting room until someone in scrubs came out of the back towards us. "Are those for me?" she asked, and then looked up at us and added "oh, my name is Breeanne." Heh. We said goodbye to the little ones and she took them in the back, and after about five minutes she came back with the empty tank and said "OK, they're safe and sound now!"

And that was it! After a quick lunch in the neighborhood (I actually used to live only about seven blocks from the clinic, about 12 years ago, and miss that area sometimes - it's nice to have an excuse to visit) we took the tank back to OHSU and then headed for home. It was probably one of the strangest and coolest things I've done in a long time!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Planting the Pomegranate Tree

Yesterday at the farmer's market I ended up purchasing several potted plants in addition to the vegetables I went for - four pots of heather, a star jasmine, and a Rouge Vif D'Etampes pumpkin. I hadn't planned on doing much gardening this weekend but a friend had given me some tomatoes so I would have been digging in the dirt a little anyway.

So this morning after a breakfast of sourdough & stout toast with vegemite and butter and honey, I set out to plant what I'd purchased yesterday. I tore up the strip of front yard that originally held blue fescue and lots of weeds, and put the heather in. I transplanted my hen and chicks into a bigger pot (those things have way longer roots than I thought they would!), pulled my dead-from-the-deep-freeze apricot and jasmine and planted the new jasmine, planted the pumpkin, and then mowed the lawn.

While I did my three-plus hours of gardening, I started thinking again about planting hops in containers on the patio. I've been thinking about it for awhile and if I wanted them to grow I realized I'd better do them right now or I'd be too late. So off to Home Depot I went for some giant planters and 8' stakes and sisal and potting soil, and then to Garland Nursery for the hops.

I got four varieties: Willamette, Cascade, Nugget and Mt. Hood. Not sure what grows best around here but a variety sounded like a good idea. I have a few home brewer friends, so they'll be able to take advantage of the cones (as long as everything grows like it should). I wandered around the nursery for a few minutes looking for a pomegranate tree as well. I'd seen one there a few years ago so I knew they carried them sometimes, and I've been wanting a pomegranate for quite a while - they obviously mean a lot to me. But I didn't see one, so I got in line - and found one in a display next to the cashier. I didn't even look at the price, I just grabbed it and made it mine. For $35. Ouch.

After another three hours, I rigged up my hop trellis system, planted the tomatoes, and put the pomegranate in its new pot.

The Back Yard
It doesn't look like much but it took all day!

Patio Containers
The hen and chicks, jasmine, and dwarf pomegranate

It even has a little green fruit on it already!

Now if it would stay dry for awhile, I'm ready to put the fire pit and patio furniture out. Alas, it's supposed to rain tomorrow. Of course.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Counsyl Results, Chicago, and the Road Trip

I was supposed to get a phone call this Tuesday from Counsyl about the test I took for genetic diseases, but the counselor asked if she could move my appointment up to tonight. It was a super quick call - Counsyl screens for 101 genetic diseases, and they found that I am not a carrier for any of them. She reminded me that they test for the most common mutations, not the lesser-known ones, so it's not a 100% accurate test, but that's OK. I wasn't worried at all, I don't have any known issues in my family so it would have been surprising to me if they did find anything. Still, it's nice to know!

The Ledge!

Chicago was great! We had a lot of delicious but very unhealthy food, we walked a lot and took the train everywhere that was too far to walk (like from our hotel to downtown, which took about 40 minutes on the blue line), we took an architecture cruise on the river, saw the Bean, and went to the top of the Sears (Willis) Tower, 103 floors up.

Ledges at Willis Tower

I hadn't been up to the top of the tower since probably 2001, so this trip was the first time I'd been since they put in The Ledge, a 4-foot-deep glass box that you can stand in and be "outside" of the building. It was a tiny bit vertigo-inducing with the first step but after that it was really neat. We spent two seconds taking photos and then ducked back inside so that the long line of people waiting wouldn't have to wait long.

On the Glass

Look at the tiny cars way down there!

It was pretty fun to wander around and look at things and get lost in the maze of transfer stations on the subway and eat and be tourists for awhile. Cory took a million photos on his fancy camera but I haven't seen them yet; these are just the ones I grabbed with my phone.

We have a tentative embryo road trip for Tuesday morning. OHSU seems to be OK with us coming in any time before 12:30, or at least that's how I read the email, so I need to check with ORM and give them a heads-up that we'll come. I also put in the order for my birth control, and now I just have a few waivers to sign and some blood tests to do (and some financial stuff to look at) and then we should be set to go for the FET.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Embryo Inventory

After four days and three phone calls, I finally got a hold of OHSU's embryology department. They still have our embryos, and they are ready to hand them off to ORM for a $100 release fee. We're shooting for the embie road trip on the 27th - yep, we're going to pick them up at OHSU, drive across town, and drop them off at ORM. It's going to be fun and also weird. If we end up with babies from this FET I'll be able to tell them that I held them before they were even implanted, and they had their first road trip before I was pregnant with them.

We're almost packed and ready to hit the road for Chicago! How exciting. I stepped on the scale this morning and thought "crap, time to look a little more closely at what I'm eating" but shoved that thought aside immediately because deep dish pizza. If you've been to Chicago, leave me a quick comment and let me know where we should go while we're there! We're visiting Lou Malnati's for sure, and maybe Portillo's (I think that's what it's called), and yesterday I got tickets to the architecture cruise, which I'm excited about. We're also going to be visiting a couple of universities because we like to see what their rec departments look like (the rec departments are members of the association we work for). Even with all that we don't have a super jam-packed schedule so hopefully we can spend several hours just wandering around and seeing things. And the weather is going to be perfect too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Preparation

It's almost surreal, this FET. I know it's going to happen, and I'm taking active steps towards making it happen, but I don't really feel like it's happening.

My blood test results came back quickly; ORM left me a message while we were eating lunch right after our consultation. Thyroid was 1.21 (below 2.5 is good) and Vitamin D was 38.07 (also good).

The financial counselor emailed me with an estimate for the procedure ($2913 plus medications), along with a financial agreement and credit card authorization for me to sign and return.

The embryologist called with instructions on how to move the blastocysts from OHSU to ORM and followed up with an email containing a waiver for me to sign and return.

I have lab orders for blood tests for Cory and me, and also a prescription for birth control, in my IVF bag. I need to get moving on those.

The last teensy thing that's standing in the way, now, is a return phone call from OHSU about my "inventory." I remember making the decision a couple of years ago to let them go, that I didn't want them anymore. But the part I can't quite remember is whether I actually signed for their release. I'm pretty sure they're still in storage because I needed a notary-signed document to send to OHSU in order to do pretty much anything with the embryos, and I never did go in search of one. At the same time, I didn't get charged by OHSU for storage fees. So I'm waiting for a call back from the embryologist at OHSU to see what the status is, and whether I'll be charged storage fees upon release (if they are still there). They haven't called in over 24 hours so I'll be calling back to ask for an update tomorrow morning. It shouldn't take two days to find out how many blastocysts I have. I assume they have a database and don't have to stand in their freezer looking for a label with "MEGAN" on it.

And then normal life keeps moving forward. I have to pack for Chicago. I have to check on the kennel and make sure they're expecting Linus. I have work to do. Work that seems way more real than an FET.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Consultation Day!

Phew, we made it to consultation day! I was happy to have been as busy as I was the past few weeks, because it sure made the time go by quickly. And the little pangs of nervousness and butterflies I felt over the weekend were very few and short-lived because my group performed at a renaissance faire over the weekend, so the two days leading up to today were full of six performances and all the other stuff that goes with it, and I didn't have time to dwell.

And then suddenly it was consultation day!

The Appointment

Our appointment was rescheduled over the weekend for a half hour later because my doctor had a surgery to do, and then we waited a little longer still, but that was OK. I felt super antsy in the waiting room and was trying to keep myself from bouncing all over the place.

When it was my turn, I was weighed and measured and told them the first day of my last period and whether I had any allergies to medications or latex. Then we were ushered into Dr. B's office for a chat.

It really ended up feeling like a very quick talk with the doctor. He had me give him an overview of our attempts to conceive, and noted the uterine fibroids that my last doctor had mentioned, and agreed with me that it was not the best idea to transfer all four of my remaining blastocysts and then selectively reduce, like the last doctor recommended. (He said I could have lost the entire pregnancy from attempting to reduce.) He said he recommended having the blastocysts sent to his clinic from OHSU, and they would transfer them at ORM.

That last bit completely surprised me. I distinctly remember asking ORM whether I could have blasts from another clinic transferred by ORM, and they said no, because they couldn't guarantee the quality of the procedure. So either I misheard back then or they changed their rules. I did tell Dr. B I'd heard it wasn't possible to do that, and he said "well, the embryologists don't like it because they can't guarantee the quality, but I don't think that's a reason not to try." My blastocysts are not rated very well (I think three of them are 3bb and he likes to see 5-day blasts at a 5a - it makes sense though, as the best ones were already used) but the doctor thinks we should take advantage of all the work and money and try the cheaper option of a Frozen Embryo Transfer first, and if it doesn't work we can move onto a fresh cycle of IVF.

He also gave us a quick overview of what he thinks the protocol should be. It's a 7-week protocol, with 2-4 weeks of birth control first, and then estrogen shots and progesterone-in-oil. They'll also do a mock transfer, a sonohysterogram, a doppler ultrasound and some blood tests. Most of those are things I've done before and am not worried about, but the sonohysterogram is kind of a mixed-bag as far as what other people have experienced and so that makes me a teensy bit nervous. They will fill my uterus with saline and then check for polyps or fibroids or any other weirdnesses. It should be pretty straightforward but we shall see. I'm definitely interested in a second opinion about those fibroids that the last doc found.

When we were finished with Dr. B, I had some blood drawn to check my thyroid and vitamin D levels (they called before we got home to tell me both were fine), and also to send some off to Counsyl for carrier screening. (If I do carry anything, then Cory will also be tested and that will help us determine if we should be concerned about our children having any genetic diseases.)

Next, we spoke with the head nurse who will be handling my protocol. She will be sending me a detailed schedule of the protocol soon, but in the meantime she gave us both some lab orders (we've already done all the blood tests she ordered but it was three years ago and their limit is two) and a prescription for birth control so I can be ready when the time comes.

And the time will come in early June. I'm thinking probably June 2 will be the first day of my next cycle, and then I'll call the clinic and we will get this show on the road.

My Initial Reaction

I thought I would be more excited. I'm not excited at all. I don't know if it's because I'm still trying to protect myself from disappointment, or because I don't trust that the blastocysts are going to be viable, or because I've been thinking that I was going straight into a fresh-cycle IVF for three years now and my plan has been turned on its head. I don't know what it is. I called Mom once I was home from work and she told me I don't have to be excited about it, which felt good to hear, but I still kind of feel like something's wrong with me if I can't be daydreaming about pregnancy and babies like I think I should be. Or overwhelmed with gratitude or restlessness or SOMETHING. I don't know, maybe I just need a little more time to let it sink in. Or maybe it won't sink in until I start estrogen injections again...

So now we hurry up and wait again. At least this time it'll only be about three weeks (one of which will be eaten up by our trip to Chicago - we fly out this weekend) and then the movement we make will be like a bullet train. Thank goodness for that.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Happy National Infertility Survival Day

I know that part of the reason National Infertility Survival Day came into existence was to help those who are struggling get through Mother's Day. Mother's day sucks when you're not a mother. I'm with you. But when I first read about it, it made me feel more like celebrating it meant that the best part of motherhood is Mother's Day and because I can't have it I'm just going to make up my own holiday instead, so there. Kind of like Single's Awareness Day on Valentine's Day. And I didn't think I wanted anything to do with it.

But this year I'm going to celebrate Survival Day. I'm going to take a few quiet moments to myself and honor myself, and Cory, for getting this far. We've gone through years of sadness and emptiness, but those same years we've also enjoyed happiness and fullness. Our marriage has never been stronger. I have never been stronger. And life gets in the way, other people's opinions get in the way, and sometimes I feel guilty or selfish or weak or broken. But tomorrow I will honor myself for being proud, and generous, and strong and whole, no matter what seat I'm sitting on in life's roller coaster. Tomorrow I will throw up my arms and trust myself, that the decisions I've made and the path I've forged so far are going in the right direction, no matter the destination.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Skin to Sperm

I just read an article on NPR and thought you might be interested too.

Researchers have made immature human sperm cells out of skin cells. Super interesting stuff! If they're proven to be able to produce children, I wonder how much more it would cost than IVF. Doesn't sound to be me to be an inexpensive venture by any means. Especially if you factor in possible litigation with sperm cells made without permission.

I love hearing that researchers are making headway in reproductive medicine, though, even if it's slow. I like that there's still glimmers of hope that someday infertility won't be a big deal.