Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plan B

As Dr. Beltsos suggested, we met with Mindy Berkson of Lotus Blossom Consulting to discuss our "plan B" in case our next cycle was not successful. We traveled to Chicago to meet with Mindy at her office. It was evident to us that Mindy was very experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to helping couples in our situation. She has a vast range of resources to help with all parts of the process. While we were very impressed with Mindy's presentation, it was also a very overwhelming experience. Neither Greg, nor I had any idea of the cost of surrogacy. I will never forget our meeting with Mindy that day and our ride down in the elevator. I left feeling like it was a lot of money, but if this is what we needed to do, then we would do it. Greg did not agree with me at this point which brought a lot of emotions out during the car ride home.

I think that I cried the entire ride home because of our disagreement in terms of whether surrogacy would be our "plan B". I felt like we would be doomed if this next cycle didn't work. I was really sad and scared. The end of December was definitely an ultimate low for me in terms of our fertility journey. It probably didn't help that I ended up with Strep throat on top of everything. I felt so defeated and began to question whether we were really meant to be parents at all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maggie



My niece, Maggie, is a true blessing in my life. After receiving the first no from an IVF cycle in April of 2010, I made sure to always have my niece with me on the day of my pregnancy test results. She helped me to stay strong when I received the devastating news time after time. I love her so much and can't imagine life without her in it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Post Transfer Consult

I was scheduled to have a post transfer consult with Dr. Beltsos tomorrow, but instead received a phone call from her tonight. It was so nice to hear from her and be able to discuss the next treatment plan. Dr. Beltsos always starts these conversations by asking how I am doing. It is nice to be working with a doctor that I have known for so long. She has become more than just a doctor, but someone who truly cares and offers support in any way that she can. During our phone call, we planned for a fresh IVF cycle to start right away. She wanted me to have some additional bloodwork done to rule out any circulation problems that might be preventing implantation. We also planned to transfer three embryos versus the usual two. Finally, we discussed preparing for gestational surrogacy if necessary. She referred us to an Infertility Consultant named Mindy Berkson of Lotus Blossom Consulting.

Throughout these fertility treatments, Greg and I have been lucky to have wonderful insurance, as well as a doctor that is keeping our coverage in mind when planning for future treatments. My insurance covers four fresh IVF cycles. Frozen transfers do not count as one of the four. This upcoming cycle in January would be our third fresh cycle. Gestational Surrogacy is something that has come up many times throughout our fertility journey due to the condition of my uterus. If this third cycle was not successful, we would be saving our last cycle to be used with a gestational surrogate.

I felt very optimistic after my phone conversation with Dr. Beltsos. I was confident that we were doing everything possible to ensure success for our next cycle. I also felt good that we were beginning to explore surrogacy as a "plan B".

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pregnancy Test

Today was our pregnancy test to find out if the frozen transfer worked. I went to the FCI Glenview office this morning to have my blood drawn. Then I spent the rest of the day waiting for the phone call in which I would hear if we were pregnant. It was a hard day for me. I really had no feeling one way or the other as to whether or not I was pregnant. I just wanted the phone call to come so that we would know. I slept the day away while waiting for the call. Finally, around 5:00 we heard from the office. I made Greg answer the phone because I was too nervous and didn't want to experience hearing another no. Unfortunately, another no is what we received. We were heartbroken and devastated. I had undergone two more surgeries and transferred a beautiful embryo and we still had no baby.

I am so thankful to have such a supportive husband on these days, as well as family and friends. Greg held me and let me cry. I was able to speak with a few friends and finally decided to pick up my niece, Maggie, from daycare and have her spend the night with us. Seeing her beautiful smiling face always helps me to forget about my pain on these emotionally draining days. I am so blessed to have all of these special people in my life to help me overcome the sadness.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Frozen Embryo Transfer

Throughout the end of November and beginning of December, I began taking estrogen and progesterone to prepare my uterine lining for the transfer of our frozen embryo. Dr. Beltsos was using my natural cycle, in addition to the estrogen and progesterone for additional support. I was also receiving weekly acupuncture treatments at Pulling Down the Moon. After about 2 weeks worth of ultrasounds to monitor my cycle and track the thickness of the uterine lining, we were ready to transfer the embryo on December 9th. Greg and I traveled to the  FCI River North IVF center for the transfer. Everything went very smoothly. My lining looked great. The embryo thawed nicely and was perfect. We were so optimistic that this would be the one. The pregnancy test was scheduled for December 20. Now it was time to wait and pray.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Post Surgery Consult with Dr. Beltsos

Today Greg and I met with Dr. Beltsos to discuss the outcome of my two recent myomectomies and plan for a Frozen Embryo Transfer. We brought my mom and Greg's mom along. It is always nice to have extra sets of ears. My mom had met Dr. Beltsos several times, but I wanted Greg's mom to also meet the doctor that I had been working with for the past five years. Dr. Beltsos was very excited about the results of the surgery, but reminded us that there is always only a certain percentage of success for any of these procedures. We planned to transfer our one frozen embryo in conjunction with my next cycle. Everyone felt very hopeful that this frozen transfer after removing all of the fibroids would bring us our baby.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Surgery #2 Post IVF

I woke up from surgery today to learn that the less invasive procedure was the right course of action. I was so relieved. I also found out that things went beautifully. I had no trouble with fluid absorption. Dr. Topel was able to remove the remaining fibroids and stop the surgery when he was finished. I contacted Dr. Beltsos right away when I got home from the hospital and was able to get an appointment for Friday of this week to discuss plans for a frozen transfer of our one embryo. I am so excited to talk to her. I am also excited to get back to school sooner than I thought. I will be taking the rest of the week off and going back on Monday, which is a lot sooner than I had originally planned. Things seem to be headed in the right direction. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day before Surgery

Tomorrow will be my second myomectomy with Dr. Topel. I am on a clear liquid diet all day. Dr. Topel thinks that he will need to perform an open abdominal procedure to remove the rest of the fibroids. I am a little scared of the recovery after such a big procedure. I will be taking two weeks off of school to recover. While I was home today on the clear liquid diet, Dr. Beltsos called to check in and wish me luck with the procedure. Shortly after her phone call I heard from Dr. Topel, who had some changes in his plans for the surgery. He was rethinking the need to go in abdominally. He said that he would go in hysteroscopically first to see what things looked like since the first surgery and only open me up if necessary. I am anxious to get the surgery over with and hoping that the less invasive procedure will be the right course of action.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yoga for Fertility

Tonight I went to a yoga for fertility class at Pulling Down the Moon. It was such a great experience. There were 5 of us, all at various stages in the fertility journey. The class started with introductions and sharing the story of our journey. We then learned the moon salutation and other yoga poses that are beneficial for fertility. I signed up for a six-week yoga for fertility class and purchased the PDtM yoga dvd. I found yoga to be really relaxing and helpful in terms of calming my mind as I go through this emotionally draining journey. I am excited to be learning about all of these holistic treatments and eager to focus on trying them as I wait to have my second surgery with Dr. Topel.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pulling Down the Moon

Fertility Centers of Illinois (FCI) has a special relationship with a a place called Pulling Down the Moon(PDtM). PDtM offers holistic treatments for fertility that can be used in their own or in conjunction with Western Medicine. There are several locations throughout the Chicagoland area. Some of the services offered are yoga for fertility, acupuncture, nutrition and massage. The founders of PDtM also authored a book called Fully Fertile. I had been noticing fliers for PDtM when I would be at FCI and finally decided to attend one of their workshops. Today, my sister-in-law, Meghan, and I went to a Fully Fertile Book Group at the Arlington Heights location. It was led by Beth Heller one of the authors and founders of PDtM. It was such a nice experience to meet Beth and to talk with other women also experiencing infertility. The Fully Fertile book is excellent. I highly recommend it.  I knew instantly that this was a place I wanted to start visiting throughout my fertility treatments for additional physical and emotional support. You can learn more about Pulling Down the Moon at www.pullingdownthemoon.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Surgery #1 post IVF

Dr. Topel performed a hysteroscopic myomectomy on the morning of August 31. It went well. He was able to remove many of the fibroids, but due to my fluid absorption needed to stop before removing all of them. This was similar to what happened when Dr. Beltsos performed the surgery a year ago. We met with Dr. Topel this afternoon to discuss the plans for the next surgery. He showed us some pictures of a "normal" uterus compared to mine before and after surgery. It was evident that he had removed a lot of the fibroids, but there were still more that needed to come out before trying to conceive again. We discussed plans for a second surgery and the possibility of it being an open abdominal procedure in an effort to avoid the fluid absorption problem. We would touch base with Dr. Topel after a normal cycle to start scheduling the necessary appointments prior to the second surgery. When you are going through infertility, it seems like the entire time is filled with waiting...waiting for the next appointment, waiting for the next cycle, waiting to find out the next plan of treatment, waiting to talk to the doctor, and here we were again faced with more waiting. We are anxiously awaiting this next surgery so that we can try an Embryo Transfer with our one frozen embryo.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer 2010

The process of seeing a new surgeon and getting surgery scheduled turned out to be a lot longer than I expected. I was hoping to have gotten the surgery done during the summer months, but had no such luck. With the new surgeon, it seemed like I had to make an appointment for each little part of the process. It started with an initial consult. The next appointment was for a pelvic exam. The next appointment was for the Saline Ultrasound, which is a special ultrasound that allows the doctor to see all of the fibroids and map out the location and size of each one. This was followed by another consult to determine what type of surgery would be needed. The doctor suggested doing the surgery in 2 phases, due to the number of fibroids present. he would be going in hysteroscopically, as it was done in the past. I had to schedule a pre-surgery physical and finally by the middle of August I had the first surgery scheduled for August 31st.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Post IVF Consult

Today I had my post IVF consult with Dr. Beltsos. My mom came with me because it was a busy time at work for Greg. Dr. Beltsos said that the cause of the two failed IVF cycles was mostly my uterine fibroids since everything else had looked good. She referred me to a surgeon in Skokie to have my fibroids removed before pursuing any more fertility treatments. I called him as soon as a I left Dr. Beltsos and was able to get in for an initial appointment next week. I am looking forward to getting in to this new doctor to get my fibroids removed and get back to the fertility treatments.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

IVF #2

We started our second fresh IVF cycle at the beginning of June. My medication protocol was pretty similar to the previous cycle with the exceptions of a few medications. It was a lot easier to schedule all of the monitoring appointments with the school year winding down. I had another good response to the stimulation. On June 16th, I went to the River North IVF Center for the egg retrieval. 13 eggs were retrieved. 10 of them fertilized and on June 21st, two blastocysts were transferred. For some reason, I was pretty negative during this "two week weight". I am not exactly sure why. I think that part of it was because I had been so excited during the first IVF attempt and hearing a "no" hurt so badly, that I thought if I didn't get my hopes up another "no" might not hurt as much. Unfortunately, this strategy did not work. On July 1st, we got another negative pregnancy test and it was just as horrible as the first one. I felt very discouraged. We would meet with Dr. Beltsos soon to discuss the negative outcome and the next plan for treatment.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Post IVF consult

Greg and I met with Dr. Beltsos shortly after our first IVF cycle to discuss the outcome and plan the next steps. At our consult, we decided that we would try IVF again. After learning how involved an IVF cycle is with monitoring appointments and medications, we decided that we would time this cycle with the start of my summer vacation so that things would be a little less hectic. Dr. Beltsos put me on a birth control pill for the month of May and our next IVF cycle would start at the end of May/beginning of June.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Injectables-March/April 2010

Typically when going through treatment for infertility, doctors have you try treatments in cycles of three. Because we wanted to become more aggressive in a faster timeframe, we moved right from the cycle with Clomid to a cycle with injectibles and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Injectables are medicines that are injected subcutaneously or intramuscularly. Their function is to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles. These medicines are ordered from special fertility pharmacies which deliver your medications right to your house. I was on a medicine called Gonal-f. During this cycle we were traveling to Texas for our cousin's wedding. Traveling with the medicine was easier than I expected and the hotel that we were staying at provided me with a Sharps container for disposal of the needles. When stimulating with this type of medication, proper ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring is necessary. One can typically expect to be visiting the doctor's office about every three days for ultrasound and bloodwork. It can be more frequent as the follicles get close to maturity. This type of monitoring allows the doctor to track the growth and number of follicles as well as hormone levels. The morning after we returned from our trip to Texas I was scheduled for monitoring. That afternoon I received a call from my nurse saying that my body responded too well to the medication and I had about ten follicles. We would either have to cancel this cycle (unless we wanted to end up on a reality tv show) or turn it into an In Vitro Fertilization(IVF) cycle. We decided to turn it into an IVF cycle. I continued the medication and monitoring for a few more days before I was instructed to give myself the shot of Ovidrel to induce ovulation. (At FCI, IVF cycles can be performed at the River North or Highland park IVF centers. Mine was scheduled to be at River North, which means that the doctor on the schedule for the day, would be the one doing my procedure). Exactly 36 hours later, a different doctor in the FCI practice performed an Egg Retrieval in which he retrieved 13 eggs. Of the 13 eggs, 12 were mature and 5 fertilized. 5 days after the retrieval, two beautiful embryos were transferred into my uterus. The pregnancy test was scheduled for today, the day after my birthday. I was so excited about what a great birthday present this would be. Not knowing any better, I answered the phone during my lunch hour when the doctor's office called with the results of the pregnancy test. The news was not good. Neither embryo implanted. I was absolutely devastated. I went into the office in my classroom and broke down into tears. I am lucky to work with a supportive group of co-workers. Several co-workers stepped in to cover my classroom so that I could leave for the rest of the day. Greg and I spent the night grieving together. We would meet with Dr. Beltsos on Monday to review the outcome of this cycle and determine the next plan.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Starting Fertility Treatments: February 2010

After several months of trying on our own to conceive with the help of Basal Body Temperature(BBT) charting and ovulation strips, we were unsuccessful. Since we knew we were battling against how long it would take the fibroids to start growing again, we decided to make an appointment with Dr. Beltsos to start some fertility treatments to help us along. Greg and I went through all of the initial fertility testing and everything looked great. We tried a cycle with Clomid and timed intercourse. Clomid is an oral medication that stimulates the ovaries to make multiple follicles. Through ultrasound monitoring, we knew that my ovaries had created three follicles. Once they were the appropriate size, I was instructed to give myself an injection of Ovidrel. Ovidrel is a medicine that makes you ovulate. We were then instructed to have timed intercourse on the day of and days following the Ovidrel injection. Then comes the dreaded "two week wait". Your mind can't stop wondering if it worked. Unfortunately, the cycle with Clomid did not work for us. We would now meet with Dr. Beltsos to discuss the next step.