Quick Updates

Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on November 19, 2010 1:38 pm

I am in pain. I mean pure, utter pain. My muscles feel like they are being ripped from my crotch all the way up to my chest. Being someone who has never really had a bad case of cramps (or even a quasi-bad case) makes it worse. These cramps have been horrible and I don't know whether to attribute them to the Egg Retrieval this past Tuesday or the progesterone shots we started to take since that day, or a nasty combination of the two. John bought me a heating pad but I was told by Debbie of PRC not to use it as we don't want to be messing around with my body temperature.

Definitely a side effect of the progesterone injections: Hot flashes. I am sitting here at work and I am sweating. I'm taking the stacks of paperwork that have accumulated in my absence earlier this week and fanning myself with them. Am I in for a ride. (Side note: Yes, we have been doing the progesterone injections nightly at 9:00 p.m. on the dot. We are not posting a video as I don't really want to parade my butt on YouTube. The liquid itself is like a thick oil and it does take longer than the previous hormones to inject into me. It does help to ice the area prior to the injection though. I am told that once we mix the Estrogen into that, it gets even thicker and we have to use a bigger needle. Oh boy.)

Perhaps the biggest news for today: I got a call from PRC today and they told me that our embryo transfer is now scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday the 20th at 9:00 a.m. (instead of Sunday). I am allowed to eat prior to the procedure and I was relieved when they asked if I wanted them to administer Valium (to which I answered an enthusiastic YES). This means that bed rest starts tomorrow afternoon.

As always, thank you for all your prayers and please continue them for us, especially with the embryo transfer tomorrow. You may expect lots of blog entries next week as I will have nothing to do but be in bed all day.

As my sister-in-law told me, it sounds like a great idea but knowing me, I will be going stir crazy. Thanksgiving week is going to be one loooooooong week.



Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on November 17, 2010 12:36pm

Yes, the apple (or in this case, the 11 apples) does not fall far from the tree.  John's and my future "children" really are Type A's (or as John says, Type A+'s).
Yesterday, at my egg retrieval, Dr. Abdallah got the magic 11 eggs. Late this morning, I received a phone call from "Hank", an embryologist from PRC who reported that at first, 8 of the 11 eggs were fertilized. While this is already awesome news, they performed Intercytoplasmic Sperm Injection (known as ICSI) on the remaining eggs, where they physically inject the sperm into the center of the egg:

So the news just got greater:
11 out of the 11 eggs are fertilized!!!!
Hank also noted that it was even more fantastic because sometimes when sperm have been "locked in" post-vasectomy and especially after so much time, their motility is compromised. Well, not Mr. Bench's sperm! Those guys were motile and active and perfect!
Now all we have to wait for is the PGD this Friday to determine which of the embryos (so exciting to finally be able to use that term right now!) are girls so we can get them graded prior to the transfer, which will happen this Saturday or Sunday.
It's happening, everyone!! Please continue your prayers with us -- God is going to grant us our greatest wish!! 

Eggs Retrieved!!

Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 16, 2010 10:48pm

I am sitting on the couch with a makeshift heating pad on my abdomen, courtesy of my husband. We have quite a few heating pads in the house, none of which we can find or have the energy or will to search for. John's solution: he microwaved a damp kitchen towel, put it in a Ziploc bag, and wrapped it in another (dry) towel. Makeshift or not, it has been doing a good job at placating some of the pain I have been in today.
In a TV show or movie (think: The Hangover), this is where the camera would pan out into the horizon and the words would appear, "Fourteen hours earlier . . ."
We woke up this morning at about 5:30 a.m. to get ready for our 6:30 a.m. appointment. Ok, John woke up at 5:30 and I bargained my way to getting up at 5:50 (one of the perks of now having short hair). We left a little after 6:00 a.m. and got to PRC in Irvine at exactly 6:30 a.m. We were surprised to find a few other people in the lobby and even more surprised to see the sign up sheet showing some of the appointments as early as 5:30 a.m. I swear, this process has been God's way of teaching me patience because we waited in the lobby without having even been acknowledged until right past 7:00 a.m. when John finally knocked on the door and notified the nurses that we had, in fact, signed in at 6:30 a.m. and had been anxiously waiting all that time. One of the nurses from John's appointment yesterday came out a few moments later with (another surprise) paperwork for me to fill out. I'm not gonna lie: this kind of annoyed me as I wondered how much more information about me they needed since I had submitted this long ago and oh, I don't know, they have looked inside my cavity several times already.
But I digress. They finally got me in the prep area a little after 7:35 a.m. and did not waste time having me change into my glamorous hospital gown, rubber-soled socks, and blue hair cap. They gave me a hospital bed to lie in and hooked me up to breathing and heart monitoring machines, and few moments after John was allowed into the prep area, the anesthesiologist came. They had some problems trying to find a vein that would work, as I had been poked and prodded so many times last week that both of my forearms are sore and bruised like a heroin addict. They eventually found one that they could use, right on the back of my hand. The anesthesiologist injected the spot with lidocane to numb it from the burn of the regular anesthesia going in. Ironically, the lidocane burned pretty bad going in, and a few moments later he inserted the needle for the IV drip and anesthesia. A few more moments later, John gave me a kiss as the anesthesiologist and two nurses led me into the operating room (and it was FREEEEZING!). The anesthesiologist notified me that he was starting to administer the medicine. I remember responding, telling him that yes, I was starting to feel heavy, and at that moment I was GONE.
I woke up later with an oxygen mask on my face and pain in my pelvis. It took me a moment of two to realize where I was and what had just transpired. I was in and out of consciousness, remembering a moment when a nurse came to remove the oxygen mask and later when they told me they would get John to come in. Most importantly, I remember asking one of the nurses how it went and she told me that it went beautifully and that 11 eggs were harvested (the average is 10). I joked a little bit with them that without even being fertilized, my "kids" are already like me -- overachievers. Later on, Dr. Abdallah came in and happily confirmed the news that indeed, there were 11 eggs, and that he already told my husband who was waiting in the waiting area. 
Throughout all these moments broken apart, the one thing that stayed constant was the cramps on my front side and pain in my butt (like being constipated). 
As I had done during both hysteroscopies, as soon as I was coming to, I fought hard for consciousness and alertness as I know that I want to really sleep, and being at home and in our bed is the only place I can really do so. After a few minutes, I was told I could get dressed and was directed to the restroom where they had carefully laid out my clothes on the supply racks. I remember stumbling a little bit while getting dressed, due to a combination of the drugs wearing off and the cramps and pain I was experiencing. We were given the last set of instructions for today such as no heavy lifting, stay in bed, and to stay on a high protein diet these next few days. They told us they would be calling us tomorrow (Wednesday) to let us know how many out of the 11 eggs were fertilized.
After getting dressed, they put me on a wheelchair and wheeled me out to the car. We went home, and John went to my work to pick up my check, then deposited it, and then picked up my "high protein" breakfast choice -- steak and eggs. I ate, but was completely cold and shivering (an effect of the anesthesia wearing off, I'm told) and was sent back to bed after we ate. I slept from that point (about 10 a.m.) until 1 p.m. when I woke up completely DRENCHED in sweat. 
The rest of the afternoon, I had tried to no avail to poop. I feel completely so constipated that everything hurts. This is amplified by the cramps I am feeling as well. I am told this is normal, but oh boy is it unbearable. I took a couple of laxatives at about 4 p.m. and to this moment, 10:42 p.m., no results. 
On the hormone front, we have started the first of our progesterone shots today. As we learned towards the end of Menopur and for the hCG shot last Sunday, it really does help to ice the area right before the injection. Despite using a larger (and potentially more painful) needle than that of Lupron / Gonal-F / Menopur and this shot being intramuscular instead of subcutaneous like the previous shots, I actually do not feel the shot at all. Funny enough, this liquid is much thicker than the others as well and thankfully, at least so far, no pain. 
Although I am in pain, I have plenty of thoughts to keep me distracted. I am excited and anxious and nervous for the results tomorrow. Thank goodness I got a note from one of the nurses to stay home tomorrow as well, so I can just rest and await the results.
As a recap, the egg transfer day is (at least for now) scheduled for this Sunday. We will find out the final appointment details in the next few days. After that, I will take the first of the two pregnancy tests on Monday the 29th (the Monday right after Thanksgiving) and then the second test will be on Wednesday, December 1st, and that is when they will confirm if there is a pregnancy or not.
I feel it . . . I feel that the magic is happening now. As I type this, microscopic little sperm are fertilizing (hopefully all) 11 eggs and LIFE IS BEING MADE!! God is creating little miracles right this second! Please continue to pray for us and with us.

November 15, 2011

Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 15, 2010 9:11pm

John's TESE procedure, the Testicular Sperm Extraction (I try not to say it so much because I don't want to feel like I'm announcing John's business) was today and I am happy to report that it was a success. Without going into too much detail, our fantastic (and very renowned in the fertility world, I found out)  urologist, Dr. Jacob Rajfer, got what he needed (and then some).

I decided to go home at 11 a.m., earlier than the 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. that I planned to leave, as John's appointment was at 1:30. I was over it, and I didn't want to expose myself to her any longer than I really had to. Thank goodness for understanding bosses. No explanation or sharing needed -- they just knew that it was an IVF day.
So we arrived at PRC and at first, we went upstairs with Debbie, the other clinical coordinator / nurse who I had dealt with in June's absence a month or so ago. She gave us our new calendar, this time for the Luteal Phase of IVF. Evidently, luteal phase means the time right before the follicles get released. Here it is:

This is one of the last calendars we will be receiving for this IVF cycle. It outlines the medication I will be taking in the next 2 1/2 weeks, including the estrogen and progesterone injections as well as the (*gulp*) vaginal suppositories of progesterone, which I will be taking throughout the entire first trimester of the pregnancy, should success occur.
Per the schedule, after the egg retrieval tomorrow morning, I will be having the embryo transfer on Sunday. At first, we anticipated doing so on Friday, but evidently, because we are choosing to do PGD for Gender Selection, they would do the transfer on Day 5 (Sunday) instead of Day 3 (Friday) after retrieval. This means that I will be on complete bed rest from Thanksgiving Monday through Wednesday, and then will be on moderate bed rest on Thanksgiving Day and yes, on Black Friday. That following Monday, the 29th, is the first pregnancy test, and it will be confirmed on December 1st. They will continue to closely monitor me, and will do the first ultrasound about 4 weeks after that day, so about the beginning of 2011.
Before all that, we just have tomorrow's procedure, the Egg Retrieval. We will be bringing some of our medication with us, so I will be preparing them tonight because we need to be at PRC at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. Thank goodness this procedure will be done in the Irvine office instead of the Torrance office (where I had had the hysteroscopies done in September and October).
Especially this week, we are asking you all to join us in collective prayer. This week is the critical week with all the big procedures and we need all the help that we can get! 
And as always, thank you for your support in following the blog as well as all your messages. Thank you again and lots of love from us.

Updates in List Form

Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 14, 2010 1:01am

Just a few updates and items to update our readers:
  • Our updated calendar . . . I tried my best to list each drug / hormone I have to take daily. 

  • A gadget they've been using for my ultrasound. Needless to say, it has made for an interesting week: 

  • On Friday, we received my instructions from PRC regarding my schedule this week. My blood test showed 1196 for my E2 levels (more than double that of Wednesday's appointment levels) and my endometrium lining at 13 mm. The doctor also measured 3 mature (over 16mm) follicles in my left ovary and 1 in my right (it was 21 mm!). Today (Sunday) I will be taking the hCG injection (more on that in the next bullet). John will be having his Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) procedure on Monday afternoon. [Please say prayers that it goes smoothly and successfully for him on that day.] On Tuesday morning, I will be checking in to PRC for the Egg Retrieval day. With a 48-72 hour period that they will need before the Embryo Transfer, we are anticipating the Transfer day to be either this upcoming Friday or Saturday. Here are the instructions:

  • We had quite the panic Friday night going into this Saturday morning. Since the hCG injection day was coming and was back into discussion at PRC,  I started doing a mental inventory of all our pills and medications received and I just knew that the hCG was not included in the meds we received. The hCG trigger injection is one of the most critical parts of the IVF medical protocol. After the eggs / follicles have been stimulated to grow and develop (with the help of FSH like Gonal F and Menopur), the hCG trigger is the final medication given before egg retrieval. The hCG injection triggers the maturation of the eggs and prepares them for retrieval.  Timing of this shot if vital. If it's given too early, the eggs will not have matured enough. If given too late, the eggs may be "too old" and won't fertilize properly. The ultrasounds and blood tests I had all this past week are meant to time this trigger shot just right. Usually, the hCG injection is given when four or more follicles have grown to be 18-20 mm in size and my estradiol levels are greater than 2000 ph/ML. (With my E2 levels at 1196 as of yesterday and with it doubling every two days, it would be safe to assume that I will be past 2000 ph/ML by Sunday night). Anyway, we had to do a series of phone calls to PRC, directly to Dr. Salem, and finally, to Peninsula Pharmacy, a pharmacy in San Pedro that PRC had to call and order an emergency vial set of HCG from. Both John and I breathed collective sighs of relief when we drove the 1 hour to San Pedro Saturday afternoon to pick up the hCG. I am scheduled to get this shot tonight, Sunday night, at exactly 9:30 p.m. This allows for perfect timing for the retrieval of the eggs early Tuesday.

  • Finally, on a very sweet note, this was spotted on John's nightstand last night. I've known for a while he's had this (I was with him when he purchased it) but actually noticing again tonight brought a smile to my face and some optimism to my spirit:

    I am anticipating a video post of the hCG shot tonight. Until then, thank you for your continued reading, support, and prayers. 

    Counting Down the Days

    Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 11, 2010 8:39pm

    Today is Thursday, a day in between two of doctors appointments. I have gone to PRC on Monday and Wednesday for blood tests (to check my E2 levels) and ultrasounds (to monitor the thickness of my endometrial lining and the development of the follicles which will eventually turn into eggs in my ovaries). As of yesterday's appointment, I have 7 follicles in each ovary, but I'm not sure on how many are the size that the doctors want them to be already.
    Honestly, this is one of the times when I'm actually thankful that I am such a neurotic control freak. During these past few appointments, no one has really explained to us the who's and why's and how's of each test and who is administering it. It has only been through a process of internet research and meticulously going through all our paperwork that John and I have been able to fill in the blanks.
    Hence, here's what we found (including some things we already knew):
    Currently, we are using two FSH products (follicle stimulating hormone) to stimulate development of multiple eggs: Gonal-F and Menopur. The ovaries are stimulated with injectable FSH medications for about 7-12 days until multiple mature size follicles have developed (Today, Thursday the 11th is our 7th day). Estradiol (E2) hormone blood levels are monitored via blood test and are usually 60 ph/ml (don't ask me to translate that -- I don't know) at baseline (before hormones are injected) and rise significantly as the multiple follicles develop. On Monday's blood test, my E2 level was 244 and as of yesterday it was 596. You don't have to be a doctor to see that they are rising significantly and I am curious to see what they will be like tomorrow because tomorrow's appointment will determine how much longer I will need to be taking the Gonal-F and Menopur and essentially, when we will be doing the egg retrieval next week and when the transfer will be. Also, as far as I know I have at least one follicle that is 16 mm as of yesterday, and ideally, there would be several around that size (13-20 mm). I know there is more, but I was able to sneak a picture of only one: 
    Towards the center right of the picture, you can see the doctor labeled one of the follicles and evidently, this one is 16 cm, which I assume is one of the follicles getting ready for maturity for next week's extraction.
    The goal of having my body produce several follicles (as opposed to only one per month) is to produce several good "candidates" to be transferred. The more follicles, the better the chances. Even though we are only going to be eventually transferring two fertilized eggs in me (no Octomom here), we want as many "options" to choose from. Obviously, the more the healthy and quality eggs, the better our chances for a successful IVF cycle.
    Thus far, we have at least a few things going for us: (1.) We are both healthy. This means there is no defect in either one of our reproductive systems that would cause us to be infertile. The reason we have not conceived is because of John's vasectomy 10 years ago. And no, reversal is not an option because not only are the chances of pregnancy low after a reversal, but they decrease to a percentage of about slim to none for success rate of pregnancy after 8 years. (2.) My body has been responding well to the medications and hormones. (3.) Probably the biggest factor: my age. Being under 35 years old poses significant advantages for women who want to conceive. I found this chart on the website I've been using for my research (the link to it is at the very bottom of this post):
    This chart is from a different fertility specialist's website, but I gather that the statistics are fairly similar across the board.
    63.5% is a good percentage of success and pregnancy, although it is not the most comforting either. If one were to go just by numbers, it's a little unsettling. A leftover 37.5% is still a big chance of failure.
    This is where faith comes in. I think that 37.5% is given success to us by sheer faith. John and I have been praying ever-so-fervently, not only for happy, healthy, and normal twin girls, but also for the patience and strength to go through this process of IVF as well as pregnancy and parenthood. We have been doing a novena to St. Anne, who is the patron saint of motherhood, grandmothers, and fertility. St. Anne was the mother of The Holy Mother. For those who are not Catholic, we do not "worship" anyone but God. We do not "worship" the Holy Mother, St. Anne, or any other saint; rather, we praise them and ask them to intercede and help us pray to Jesus, to God. Prayers still go directly to the same one God, but just with the help of someone up there -- kinda like someone putting in a good word for you. Our novena to ask St. Anne for help praying is the same as you, my wonderful readers, are hopefully helping us pray to God to grant us our intentions as well. That being said, both John and I thank you ALL for continuing to read the blog and for giving us both support and for your collective prayers in helping us achieve our special intention. We firmly believe that outside of faith, we would be nowhere.
    After my appointment tomorrow, we will find out if we have another checkup on Saturday and when we will be doing the "big" procedures of our IVF cycle next week -- egg & sperm retrieval and the transfer day. Please continue your prayers with us and for us. Will be posting again hopefully this weekend. 

    November 5, 2010

    Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 5, 2010 7:43am

    My apologies for the poor sound quality -- I don't know what happened with the upload. May be best to put on your headphones to be able to hear it better. Again, sorry!
    First off, I just want to note that there are two different blog posts here today with two different videos. For some reason, YouTube only allows 10 minutes per video so I had to upload two separate files from the same night. Please excuse the editing.
    Yesterday was a bright and sunny day in the Bench household. It wasn't only because both John and I only had to work until 11 a.m. and 12 noon, respectively, but also because we are moving right along with our in-vitro process as planned.
    The entire day, I was so antsy at work, and being there for only 3 hours, it sure seemed like 10. Noon came and I burst excitedly through the door, called John, and was excited to find out that he was already home. Upon getting home, my wonderful husband was already getting all of our meds ready, putting ice packs and organizing them into the cooler that one of our fancy schmancy pharmacies provided us. We soon headed off to PRC for our appointment.
    We didn't wait long in the lobby when one of the nurses who I hadn't met before led us through a door on the first floor of the building and told me that they needed to take some blood. They need to take this test to check the estradiol level in my blood. Estradiol (pronounced es-truh-dial) is a type of estrogen naturally produced by the ovaries and is secreted in the follicles that grow in the ovaries. The amount of estradiol in a woman's blood changes from day to day as her monthly menstruation cycle progresses. A blood test is used to measure the estradiol or E2 level. The resulit gives fertility doctors a baseline to track how well my body will be responding to the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) injections such has Menopur and Gonal-F, which I was scheduled to start yesterday. After that, John and I waited in an ultrasound room so Dr. Salem could give me a vaginal ultrasound to check for any other cysts or abnormallities in my uterus. When all was done, the nurse told me that they would call me later on in the day to let me know if my E2 level was good and I was clear to begin the Menopur and Gonal-F that evening.
    We then went upstairs into an office next to June's where the nurse went over the next set of hormones I would be taking. I will continue to take Lupron, but from that point, only 5 units daily instead of the 10 units I had been doing thus far. She explained the new daily protocol as follows:
    • 5 cc's of Lupron every morning
    • 1 Medrol (pill) and 1 baby aspirin with breakfast or lunch.
    • 1 prenatal pill
    • 150 cc's of Gonal-F in the evening, sometime between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    • 1 powder container of Menopur mixed with 100 cc's of sodium chloride (see video) in the evening, sometime between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    See videos attached.
    Afterwards, John and I stopped by Target to get some organizer containers for all our syringes and meds, then by Kaiser to obtain the last of the test results that PRC (and the State) require(s) for anyone doing IVF (they needed us to do blood tests for HIV/HTLV 2, Hepatitis, and Chlamydia/Gonorrhea). After some finagling by John, we got the test results from Dr. Martinez's nurse, and we were on our way. I faxed the test results to June immediately after getting home and the best part was getting the rest of the day to run around and just get to hang out with John. I am so lucky to have him.
    So far I have already seen and experienced side effects from all the medication. Since late last week, I noticed that I got regular headaches (usually in the afternoon) and muscle pains. The bruising from the Lupron shots has not been as bad as before. I've gotten some pretty funny bruises from them but aside from the small marks left by the needle, there hasn't been too bad of bruising in these last few days. I've also been pretty emotional lately -- and I don't mean like in the unstable 16-year-old kind of way -- I mean like crying at the drop of a hat at intensely stupid things. I had been reading these discussion boards with women talking about crying at things like the wrong kind of sandwich, and remember thinking how dumb they were, and how I was not going to be like them (largely because I do NOT like crying), and here I am, crying because John's car overheated on the 14 Freeway (while, by the way, I was at work all the way in Orange County), or because we were short on stamps at work for me to send out budget packets. It was ridiculous. Luckily, having read those bulletins, it was only a matter of time before I stepped back and took a breath to recompose myself. I've also been doing these breathing exercises that John's aunt told me about and they have actually really helped.
    What's been difficult to deal with are the headaches and muscle pains. I don't think they are caused by lack of sleep because another thing I've noticed is just complete tiredness all the time, so both John and I have made it a point to go to bed very early every night. The headaches are pretty regular and honestly hurt so bad that they feel debilitating. Of course, this makes me want to cry because of so much self-pity, and the crying (or the holding back of tears) causes the headache to worsen. It's an absolutely vicious cycle.
    I have asked John to start doing a nightly novena with me. I want us to start praying together regularly and religiously every evening as we have a very big common goal and request of God. I want to know that we are covering all our bases in preparation for our child/ren -- physical, financial, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Whether you believe in God or not, I think that one cannot and should not challenge anyone else's faith because it is simply that: faith. There is no tangible proof -- a picture, a place -- of God or his existence, but we pray because faith is hope. We hope and believe that whoever it is listening to us, whether it is God or simply the universe, that they will know what we want, help us find a way to achieve it, or at the very least, keep us hopeful and positive, even just enough to keep us sane enough to get through the next step. My faith tells me that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, that creating this/these life/lives is worth believing in and it's a part of my faith that I hang on to with all my strength. Sometimes, all we have to do is to swallow that pill of pride and simply just ASK.
    "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you." John 15:7
    "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

    A Funny Conversation

    Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 2, 2010 3:15pm

    A funny conversation between me and my younger brother via text message . . . I swear this kid is the funniest person I know. 

    Me: How you doing?
    Ryan: Pretty good. Just got out of PE. What about you?
    Me: Hangin in. I had a bad dream last night. It was super weird about you and it scared me so I wanted to check on you.
    Ryan: Haha what happened?
    Me: I don't wanna talk about it. I didn't even tell John. I just wanted to see if you're doing ok.
    Me: It's waaaaay too upsetting to me to talk about. Plus it's just too weird to understand
    Ryan: I'm invulnerable.
    Me: Invulnerable?? Yea right.
    Ryan: Nothing hurts or even TOUCHES me. I'm like Morgan Freeman

    The Steps We Take

    Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 1, 2010 2:02pm

    They say it takes about a week to see effects of hormone drugs and other fertility medication.   I was beginning to think that I was a lucky exception to the rule, but as my luck would have it, I definitely was not.

    Today is one week into Lupron and I am starting to get an idea of the bleak side effects. Besides mild night sweats, the most noticeable effects have been irritability compounded worse with extreme fatigue.   It was scary to catch myself so many times this weekend, getting completely irritated (sadly, at John) for the most minute reasons. A few times, I snapped at him for reasons that now, a mere one to two days later, don't even remember or worse, am embarrassed to recall. I have been pretty keen to catch myself doing so, but I feel that it was always a moment or two too late -- I had already snapped at him or scoffed or given him a nasty look. This poor man just keeps turning the other cheek, and I fear that there will soon come a point where he will just get completely exasperated with me and walk out on me during one of my hormone-induced moments. Honey, if you're reading this, I'm sorry, and I promise I am trying to be good and will try better to do so.

    What seems to be more affecting and remarkable is my total lethargy. Though our weekend was half spent in relaxation as a family gathering on Saturday got (thankfully) cancelled, I am back to work on a gorgeous and sunny Monday feeling nothing else but the urge -- no, the NEED -- to fling myself back into bed and spend the rest of the week in it. I feel purely and completely drained of all energy. Yesterday, while we were waiting for John's sister, Melissa to arrive with her husband and children for Halloween, I found myself so completely tired and lazy that I felt sick. John succeeded in getting me to get up and run to the store with him, which helped wake me up a little bit, but my entire body felt so heavy and useless. Today, I am typing this at work as I struggle to keep my eyes open and my already-big head up. If both our receptionist and another assistant in our already small staff had not called in sick today, I would have not had any qualms to leave and just take two or three days off and just SLEEP.

    Of course, none of this is being alleviated by my lack of caffeine. Since our last appointment at PRC, where June told me to start avoiding caffeine, I have not had any coffee in my system. I have had literally a sip or two from a Coke that John may be having, but other than that, I have not had a single tall-soy-triple-shot-white-mocha or pumpkin spice latte . . . and not even a miserable cup of coffee from work. Technically I am actually allowed to have caffeine in small amounts, but while my "need" for it is present, it is just that: a "need" in airquotes. I don't NEED it like we NEED children, and it is part of the sacrifice that we make in order to make that happen.   I guess that's what it's supposed to be. It's a realization of the things we do for love and for the sake of making children . . .

    Quite frankly, while I can't deny that it is a difficult process and that the day-to-day dealings can be frustrating and emotional to say the least, it is easy to remember why we are in this process and be thankful for being able to do so. I am thankful that John and I are both healthy, and that we KNOW the reason we are not conceiving, and it's NOT because something is wrong with either one of us. I know that it's not some reproductive defect, but actually just a choice that he once made, and more importantly, something that CAN be worked around and overcome. I am thankful that we were able to have the financial means to even consider this process, let alone actually do it. Money is tight for everyone these days, and not everyone would be able to do what we are doing, and I am thankful that God chose us to carry on this task. I am thankful also for such a supportive husband -- not only does he put up with me in the most irritating and confusing of moments, but he is ready and eager to bring children into this world 100%. W I have faith that because God allowed us both to be physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally ready to have babies, I know that He will bring them to us.

    Aside from the side effects of my meds, I am actually feeling good. We have made so many lifestyle changes in the past few months in preparation for our child/ren. It started with cleaning out closet -- as sort of a way to "announce" to the universe that we are making room in our lives and in our home for a baby. Then we proceeded with no more alcohol (though we don't really drink anyway), more fruits and vegetables (and compensating for any lack of it with those V8 Fusion drinks), taking vitamins (I started taking pre-natals two months ago, and John started taking multivitamins about 3 months ago), completely cutting out all fake sugars / artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, aspertame, saccharin, etc.) and using only natural sugars, and eating more organic foods, including leaner meats and more whole grains. We have also started going to bed much earlier (we go to bed at about 8:30 - 9:00 p.m. now). I have also been actively working on improving my posture, as I know I will be carrying lots more weight, I want my body to be stronger in doing so. We have been going to church more regularly as well, because strong minds and bodies are nothing without strong faith. We are more careful about our choices, both in food and in life in general, and so far it has paid off. I know that in pregnancy, everyone has their opinion on what you can and cannot eat; our philosophy has been eating natural and healthier foods, keeping in mind that we are still preparing to get pregnant. Granted, we still have our share of the occasional calorie splurge or a rare glass of wine, but we are happy and proud that we have avoided them for the most part, and that we will be introducing the little life/lives we make to the most natural of environments.

    Overall, when I finally get through all my thoughts in the process of writing a blog post, I realize that though there are many difficult steps in the process, I need to be more thankful that the goal is not just close, but also definitely within reach.

    October 27, 2010

    Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Oct 27, 2010 7:33am

    This video and posting is a day late due to some uploading issues, but here ya go!
    Finally started Lupron!
    John woke me up at 6:00 a.m. yesterday, Monday the 25th, so he could administer the shot. We had a discrepancy on how much he was supposed to give me – as we were told I had to get 10 units of it, John was not sure whether the top of the bevel on the syringe was supposed to reach the actual 10 or whether the bottom of the bevel was the baseline.
    Upon checking with June, she verified that the correct dosage had the top of the bevel touching the 10 mark, so I was instructed to take another 5 units when I got home last night, as I only got 5 units in the morning
    When I got home, I administered the 5 units to myself and was so surprised at how easy it was! There was a little pinch, but the shot was over and done with before I knew it. Today, I administered the full 10 units on myself and was fine. I have noticed each time, however, that I got a little red around the puncture spot for a while, as if I had a bug bite, and it was a little sore, but nothing more significant than that to report.
    So far, it is only Day 2, and I have not noticed any significant side effects, except for extreme fatigue, but I am attributing that to our exhausting weekend of entertaining for my tapas birthday party on Saturday night, my surprise from John on Sunday morning (he had someone come to the house and give me a massage – AMAZING), and having my mother-in-law and her two girlfriends stay until late Sunday afternoon. I also have not been able to drink coffee, as I was advised by June to avoid caffeine, as it interferes with the estrogen levels that we are trying to regulate in my body. John and I have been so exhausted that we went to bed at 8:45 p.m. last night and slept all the way to 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. today, respectively, and plan to do the same tonight.
    There is a feeling that I am fighting to catch my breath this past week. With all the getting ready for the party, entertaining until late Sunday, and now preparing for John’s sister and her family to join us for Halloween, I feel a little daunted, as if I have bitten off more than I can chew. Normally I am always up to entertain, and I have had fun doing so, but now I feel like everything is catching up with me and I am just plain tired. I am equally tired as I am excited to spend time with everyone.
    John and I plan on going to bed early every night this week so that we can catch up on precious sleep and rest before the next few weeks of get-togethers, holidays, and of course, in-vitro appointments and fertility drugs.
    As always, as my incredible husband says, “Eye on the prize . . . “

    Lupron Lesson

    Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Oct 22, 2010 11:29am

    Lupron Lesson is done! John and I both got off work early yesterday (although I did go to work at 6:30 a.m. to make up the hours) and went to our appointment at 4:00 p.m.

    First off, my poor husband got into a fender bender on his way to work in the morning. Luckily, although his front bumper was badly damaged, he himself was fine. Even if the repairs will be an expense despite auto insurance, I am just thankful that he came out unscathed, though a little shaken. This poor man who had never in his life caused any accident, told me that he felt so dumb and careless, and had to be reminded several times that it was, indeed, an accident, and that it was not his fault. I think men, in general, tend to take things like this with the same stride.

    At any rate, I ended up driving us to PRC yesterday. We left a few minutes early, in the hopes of getting the appointment earlier. We brought all of our fertility drugs, syringes, and needles with us, so as to have June go over everything and we can get organized and familiar with the items.

    We signed in and didn’t wait long at all, as Mia, the receptionist, led us upstairs to the financial department office. We went over the financial contract and payment with Rosie, who I had spoken to a few days ago on the phone. We gave her our cash payment and yes, we carried a big envelope of $xxxxx in pure cash. It was funny to watch them Rosie and Mia count out stacks of bills as I thought they must have thought we were so weird for paying this way.

    Soon we went into June’s office to begin the lesson and consultation regarding all the drugs and hormones we received, as well as the planner/calendar and consent forms we received in the mail on Wednesday. John and I had reviewed the contracts and consent forms on Wednesday and the only thing we are not electing to do, at least as far as this IVF cycle is concerned, is cryopreservation, which involves PRC freezing the embryos we do not use this cycle for one year, in the event that we want to use them then to have another baby. It is a smaller cost, in comparison to all the other “extras” we added (i.e. PGD to choose the gender, etc.) but our mindset is that we want to put all the faith in this one cycle, in keeping the positive attitude that this ONE time will be successful. In the event that we do need the second cycle, we will go ahead and reconsider cryopreservation then. There was a lot of laughter as John and I joked around with June a lot, telling her that she must think we’re both crazy as we e-mail and call her almost daily. We are both thankful that she has been so patient, accommodating, and accessible to us.

    June went over our tentative calendar with us thoroughly but quickly, and going over the medication was fairly easy. June was quite impressed with us as we knew all about the medication and how to administer the shots, thanks to our tedious research and watching videos on YouTube. The needle I will be using first is the Lupron needle, which is tiny – only about ¾ of an inch long and only about as thick as a hair. Super tiny. I am still nervous to get the shots, as I am not a fan of needles, but I am hoping that it is as easy as all the YouTube videos we’ve watched. June also mentioned that at the end of this whole process, I will be an expert at taking shots . . . and I also kept on hearing John’s voice in my head, “Eye on the prize, babe.” June was also nice enough to go over each package of the needles and syringes and label them for us, and let us know when and where we will need them. After wrapping up the demonstration, she sent us home with some samples of prenatal vitamins as well as some applicators that I will need for my doses of vaginal supplements of progesterone later on (YES, you read it correctly. Boy, that will be a post that everyone will be looking forward to. Oy, vey.).

    Feeling relieved and energized that our appointment is done and that we are moving along, John and I went to Bristol Farms in Newport to do some shopping for the tapas party we are having this weekend to celebrate my birthday. Putting together a party, especially one with such a specific theme, has been a great distraction. It keeps our mind off the emotional stress of IVF, and it gets us together with our closest friends and family. We are both looking forward to this weekend’s party – although I am not so much looking forward to turning 27. Talk about late twenties . . .

    On Monday, we will be starting my first Lupron shot. I am hoping to document it via video and will be sure to post it quickly. Until then . . .