Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quantitative Beta HCG #2 Results!

Sorry I did not update until now, we spent a romantic and wonderful weekend in Charleston, SC. We'd planned this a while ago, and the timing seemed really good considering that whether we got a positive or negative beta, we'd have lots to talk about as a couple.

Anyway, I'd post pics, but we've been home all of 10 minutes and I've only just checked my email. So, later!

However, my news is good!!! My 1st number was 56 and they look for it to double in 48 hours. My 2nd number 48 hours later was 153! Nearly triple, with a doubling time of 33.1 hours. This is good! It indicates definitely a good, healthy pregnancy. With that number, there is still a chance of twins also. I am to get an ultrasound at about 7 weeks (10/16), so we'll definitely know then.

The news again was just a grace of God. I have given this pregnancy to the Lord to take where He wants and want to keep a grateful, open hand. We are thankful for this blessing that I know we don't deserve.

More later - but for now I've got things calling my name!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quantitative Beta HCG Results

Dearest Friends & Family,

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." Romans 11:33-26

Although many of you have already been told through the phone, I wanted the chance to write an official notice.

It's so hard to realize that after 26 months we have finally achieved what we have so prayed and longed for. Honestly, my feelings upon this realization are, "I don't deserve this." Because I simply don't. To have our (& your) prayers answered finally in the way we have hoped - this is a grace of God that is joyful to receive. Sunday, as we drove down to the game, we were both pretty discouraged at not having received any hint of a positive test. I was discouraged, thinking this IVF cycle would turn out like all our other attempts (natural or medical). I wasn't surprised in my heart, and I was already readying myself to be a "Multiple IVF'er." I know plenty of ladies who have gone through multiple IVFs. I thought how fortunate those ladies are who achieve pregnancy on their 1st IVF. At that point, I just didn't think I would be a part of that group. And I had the thought that I didn't really feel like I deserved all this trouble to achieve something that comes so easy to most of the population. I didn't feel like I deserved God's further pruning and I don't feel like I deserve his grace via answered prayer.

And yet, He has chosen, for now, to give us our so longed for pregnancy! Yes!!! Monday I had the faintest hint of a positive pregnancy test (Tuesday and Wednesday also). Finally, at my quantitative beta HCG blood draw today, it was confirmed with a level of 56.4!

We are SO HAPPY. I am grateful beyond words at God's answered prayer!!! I have a hard time believeing this is happening to me. That its real. I don't think I really every saw myself being here.

I do get another HCG blood test on Friday, as this level should double approx every 48 hours. If it does, I get an early ultrasound at 6-8 weeks. It it did not, that would indicate a problem, such as an ectopic pregnancy. The chances of this are higher with IVF, so we still covet your prayers!

I feel with all the heartbreak there's been with recent situations I can't disclose, this is God's way of giving some glimmers of sweet hope for answered prayer.

"His mission is to make us trophies of his grace. Never consider it a sign of God’s favor when you regularly find yourself feasting on perennial abundance, soaking up constant fun and sun, and cruising along those carefree boulevards where pain and suffering are perfect strangers. Godliness does not blossom on playgrounds; it flourishes in war zones. If we don’t get worked over and melted down by adversity now and then, it doesn’t mean God is blessing us; it more likely means he is disowning us (Hebrews 12:5-10)."

For now, I am 4 weeks, 1 day Pregnant! Due date is June 3, 2008. Rejoice with us you who have labored long in prayer with us!!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Panthers vs Falcons @ Atlanta!!!

Yesterday we had tickets to see the Panthers play the Falcons in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. We haven't been to a game since we lived in Charlotte in '05 so we were both VERY excited.

The game started at 4, so we arrived in Atlanta at 1 for a special brunch at the
Pleasant Peasant. The restaurant itself was small and the setting full of whimsey and ambiance. Exposed brick wall, poured tin ceilings, large mirrors, booth-type tables looked like they'd been made of old mahogany benches with pillows to recline on... Lovely. We enjoyed a quiet, unhurried, and delicious brunch - so much fun!!! Then we found parking and walked a mile to the Georgia Dome (1st time for us both in an indoor NFL arena).

We had seats on the 30yd line, 18th row up, right behind the Panthers bench. IT WAS AWESOME!!! I took pictures, and most of them I'm hardly zooming up. It was incredible being SO CLOSE! When Delhomme got hurt, I saw him wince and hobble off the line! We watched Kasay practice kick for the field goals/extra points. So cool!

So now we're back to our work-week, but so refreshed from our wonderful weekend together. We tried to go bow hunting for deer on Friday and got soaked 1 hr into it!!! So much fun - I just love being caught in rainstorms!!!!

Smith, Colbert, Delhomme warming up!
John Fox walking around mid-game

Kasay practicing
Delhomme hurt


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

IVF #1 - Freeze Report & Thoughts

By way of a little update, I'm HOME (got home Monday)! I was never so glad to see a place. :) It's so nice to be back in my home with my husband, as much as I loved being with our dear friends in San Antonio. Even though I was there two whole weeks, they never made me feel like they were tired of my presence! I have been blessed to have those friendships to have friends to go through a time like that. A true blessing.

As far as our news.... one of our precious little embryos kept growing the 5 days to blastocyst stage and is now cryopreserved (I'd wrongly stated previously that blast stage was reached at 3 days!). Blastocyst stage is marked by two cell types present (and too many cells to count): the types that form the placenta, and the types that form the fetus. At blastocyst stage, the embryo is almost ready to attach to the uterine wall (implantation) - it needs only to "hatch" from it's shell (called the zona pellucida) and then successfuly attach. Blastocysts typically maintain or raise the pregnancy rate over 3-day embryos. So, we currently have one waiting for us to use.

I really won't have much to say by way of update for another 5 days or so, until the HCG beta test on Wednesday. I have been trying to spend my time and energy on resting, reflecting, praying, and spending purposeful time in the Word in the interim. Honestly, as big a deal as IVF is, I am not going crazy waiting. I'm not anxious. I'm not wondering about every little symptom. What is has been destined by the hand of God. I cannot change that, so best I submit my heart to Him now when I don't know so that when it's revealed what He's done, I am already trusting.

I have this great quote from a book I completed on my SAT trip, Polishing God's Monuments. Excellent.

"Christian common sense should also remind us that divine revelation is always a far more reliable barometer of reality than our personal perceptions. Don’t always be awash in how things seem; anchor your faith on how divine revelation says they are. With that adjustment, one can trust his goodness even when God may not seem to be good; one can trust he is acting in character even when he may not seem to be measuring up to his own revealed profile; one can trust his power even when it seems he is weak; one can trust his faithfulness even when it seems he is not being faithful.
Is that bind faith? No, not at all. It is humble faith. But doesn’t that seem like gullibility? No, it is patience – with a biblical memory.
That was Job. Did the faith of a poor tormented soul ever look as misplaced as his stubborn faith? He was frustrated out of his mind and bewildered to the bone, yes, but in the end unyielding, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him!” (Job 13:15). Then, finally- after forever it must have seemed – the Lord intervened and vindicated Job’s trust, restoring his fortunes greater than before. What a historical monument for any confused by the inscrutable ways of God."

Friday, September 14, 2007

IVF #1 - Transfer

Well, as you all knew, on Wednesday (24 hours after Retrieval), we received a call from WH stating of the 17 eggs they got, 13 were mature (this is common to have immature ones in the group). Of those 13, 7 fertilized. Our next report was this morning.

When we went in for the Transfer this morning, we were told one extra embryo fertilized late, so we had 8 now. However, none of them were perfect quality (meaning, no fragmentation in the cells). No one agrees upon a grading scale/method, but WH uses A-D, A being no fragmentation, B minor fragmentation, etc. D's rarely make it I think, because they're severely fragmented. Anyway, all of ours were B's.

They also look for them to be 7-8 cells on Day 3 (Transfer Day). We didn't have any with that many, but we had a 6-cell, 3 5-cells, 2 4-cells, and 2 3-cells. The 3-cells they do not expect to keep growing. Whatever is still growing on Sunday will be frozen. It may be all, may be none, we don't know. We were offered a chance to transfer 3 (highly unusual considering my age!), but considering that we had no perfect embryos I guess they thought it worth offering. We chose to only transfer the 6-cell and a 5-cell, simply because we did not think we could honestly pray for a triplet pregnancy/babies.

I'm a little discouraged, given my age and our "unexplained" status, that we didn't get anything better. But the Lord has been in control and it remains that way.

Thank you so much for all your love and prayers. No matter what, I get a blood test on 9/26 to determine the outcome of all this. So until then just pray for the survival of these two embryos inside me. Jonathan flys home tomorrow, I fly home Monday. I'm resting a lot until then. :)

I've only done two of the Progersterone in Oil shots. I have to do this 2 weeks if not pregnant, 7 weeks if pregnant. The first was a breeze (this IM shot is agreed upon by the IVF community as the WORST)... the 2nd, I think I hit my sciatic nerve, because I woke up at 4 in intense pain and could not sleep after an hour w/o Tylenol! So I've got to get better at that.

If you want to see actual pictures of what I'm talking about with cells and fragmentation, just click the pages below.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

IVF #1 - Fertilization Report

WH called today & gave us our report.... Of the 17 eggs they retrieved, 13 were mature. That means 4 were not mature/large enough to have eggs in them (this is quite normal). Of those 13 mature, 7 fertilized - over half! We're (again) grateful to have gotten to this point.

Friday morning at 10 we'll go in for the transfer of the two best looking embryos. We're praying that all of them keep growing strong. Not all usually do, but all that are still growing by Sunday (5 day old embryos, at the blastocyst stage) will be frozen.

We continue to ask for you prayers for these embryos to grow strong and well... all of them, if the Lord wills! Thank you for all your calls, emails, love and support. Update on Friday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

IVF #1 - Retrieval!

Retrieval was this morning at 10:15. Showed up at 7:30 & did some prep. I was totallly awake for it, remember everything (which I liked)! Mildly painful, right now I'm pretty comfortable resting at home with Jonathan (with Dunkin Donuts he got me!). They got 17 eggs!!!!! We are so blessed and happy at the news, and I'm especially delighted to feel so good. THANK YOU for all your prayers, they have been answered and have meant so much to both of us!

We'll receive a fertilization report tomorrow. More update then.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

IVF #1 - 9 Days of Meds - Ultrasound #4

Went in this morning for my blood work and ultrasound and got good news!

Lining: 10.6
Left: 18.3, 18.0, 17.9, 17.4, 17.1, 17.0, 16.5, 16.4, 16.1, 15.6, 15.2, 12.3, 12.0 (13 total)
Right: 20.6, 19.0, 18.8, 18.6, 15.0, 13.2, 12.0 (7 total)

Because there's one over 20mm, we are ready for the HCG trigger shot tonight & retrieval is scheduled for 10:15 Tuesday morning! My Estradiol level was over 4000 (lots of growing eggs in there)!!!

Jonathan flew out Saturday and gets to be here until Saturday. It is such an emotional and physical strength for me to have him here.

So Tueday is Big Day #1. As you remember us that morning, please pray for what'll go on. I should get a report the next day on how many fertilized. This could be a very good number or a very bad number - we do not know.... So just be aware the news is extremely uncertain at this point since we're "unexplained." You are all very appreciated and loved.

Friday, September 07, 2007

IVF #1 - 6 Days of Meds - Ultrasound #3

My newest update contains info from yesterday's appt. Today I start a new med, Gani.rilex. I'd go into what it does, but it's too technical to matter. I get seen again Sunday, and Jonathan comes in tomorrow. We were finally able to get him cleared to miss a week's worth of training (if needed). That was a huge relief. So, now:

Thursday Scan, Day 7 on meds (scans before 7th dose)
Left: 5 at 10mm, 3 at 11mm, 2 at 12mm, 4 less than 10mm (14 total)
Right: 2 at 12mm, 1 at 11mm, 1 at 10mm, few less than 10mm (4+ total)
Lining: 12.1

Perhaps when we go in Sunday that'll be trigger day. If it isn't, I'll come in Monday & every day until the time, I think. Retrieval is 36 hours after trigger, I think.

Yesterday was a tough day emotionally and physically. The waiting and being without Jonathan has been tough. In addition to that, I've had a dear friend go through a terrible loss and I've felt it greatly. And another situation came up today that was devastating. I've never had so much hit in a week. I have been crying all day and personally grieving so many things. I don't know what God is doing, but I feel numb at it all right now.

Not to end on that note, I'm enjoying time with my old San Antonio friends. Tubing trip tomorrow and coffee w/my old LG leader's wife Tues. Those will be great for catch-up. I'll update after my Sun appt - Jonathan & I get to go to our old church! We're so glad!

Thank you ALL for checking in often, for your comments, prayers, and encouragement! They are a Lifesaver to my heart.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

IVF Update #1

So, after a wonderful weekend with the Freas family in GA, I got back to San Antonio Monday night!

I'd flown from GA to TX on Wed for a Thurs appt, and planned on flying back Thurs afternoon after the appt, & returning Mon night to TX for the Tuesday morn next appt. Then I'd stay here 2 weeks or whatever it takes for stims, ER, ET, and any further follow-up. 2 trips aren't as cost-effective, but I'm already going to be apart from my husband a long time as it is, and we'd planned on having the Freas for Labor Day Weekend! We agreed this schedule was worth the cost/hassle. And if something forced me to stay in TX longer, I'd stay because of course IVF comes first. That was our mindset.

So Thurs (Appt #1, Baseline Date!) I got to WH at 5:30, but found the lab no longer keeps the tickets outside! So I have to try to get my ultrasound number and then hope I don't get a bad nubmer at the lab (it's a huge hassle & lots of people lining up). :( Bleh. I didn't know which doc I'd get for ultrasound, but I got my fav, very wonderful for this particular day!!! Mostly because I had a cyst, big enough to be on the border of needing draining (from the supression meds I'd been on prior to IVF). The dr was so nice. He was doing the ultrasound, and started on the right, looked around a few seconds, and then mumbled a concerned, "Oh Sweetheart, what's this?" He told me the cyst was small enough I might be able to proceed, but when my blood levels came back that would tell whether or not I needed it drained. He said he would call. He usually gives the feeling that I can take all the time I need to ask questions, but he seemed hurried today. I understood, IVF there is busy.

Typically I'd have told him I was trying to fly out back to GA later that day, but I wasn't sure they exactly liked me not being driving-distance from the clinic - even though they didn't want to see me again until Tues morning. So I told him if it needed draining no problem. I had to stick around until 10 for the injections/meds class anyway, and figured he would call anytime. Apparently he had a meeting and wasn't even around to ask personally then (and my blood had been ready since 7 that morning!). I assumed his latency in calling must have meant things were ok. So I proceeded to get a ride to the airport to catch my 1:10 flight (my friend's dad had set aside his whole morning to take me when I was ready). I arrived there and sat at my gate. I did want to make it home on the original plan, but was not wanting to leave the city w/o his call. Sure enough, 12:30ish, he calls and tells me the cyst needs draining. I told him I'd be there ASAP. A catch: he wanted me to take valium/percoset for the procedure, as it can be painful. This would prohibit me from driving myself back to the airport. I told him I preferred no meds so I could drive myself... & he ok'ed it (His words: "If you want to Civil War Style it, you can.") I grabbed the quickest rental car I could get (cheaper than a taxi, I checked) and headed back to WH. I had called J & we prayed. I felt such peace about everything that was happening. Not worried about getting to GA that night, not scared about the procedure, not upset. Just peace. Even the gate agent kindly switched my flight to a later one.

I got to WH and was seen immediately. They were all a little amused at my desire for no meds, but got right down to business. My doc told me, "You know this room, I met you here." It was the same for my hysteroscopy last Oct. How on earth does a doctor remember when & where they met you? (See why I love him? I'm not a number and a chart, I'm a person.) The whole thing was over in about 30 minutes and was actually not very painful. (I was later commended for my behavior as better than women on meds!) And a bonus from getting the cyst aspiration: that procedure is the exact same as the IVF Retrieval. That's the only part I was nervous about on this whole IVF (everything else I've experienced before). Now, I've experienced that too, so nothing to be nervous about.

I got back to GA late that night with a 3+ hour delay, but I was home! We had the entire weekend to spend w/the Freas family & every day we lived it out to the max with fun, fun, fun!!! (Pics later)

This morn, Appt #2 was fast. Even though I arrived at 5:30a I was #2... by the time all the ladies arrived for scans, there were about 20; it was ridiculous! I'm so glad I went early, that would have been such a hassle waiting around. Was in & out in like 3 minutes & got an ok doc. I think he was impressed I didn't seem anxious/worried or have tons of questions (that'll come later!).

So, Tuesday's scan, after 4 days of meds (150iu Follistim in am, 15cc HCG in pm) revealed:
Left: 12 less than 10mm, largest 7.8
Right: 10.2, 12.1 and 4 (not sure I heard right on that?) less than 10mm,
Lining: 6.7

My left has always outgrown my right, but whatever. After my labs came back, they called & told me tomorrow take my Follistim down to 125iu. Guess my E2 is a bit high. No prob since they give me a pre-mixed "pen" for injecting any amount, rather than mixing my doses & such. My stomach is a bit sore around the injection sites, because I've done 2 on my right and 8 on my left - beacuse the 1st HCG on the right bruised badly! The soreness makes it hard to pinch the skin for the injection. :/

I scheduled my 1st IVF Acupuncture. I'll have 5 appts, the first will be 5-9 days pre-retrieval. Statistically, even though it can't be explained, Acupuncture increases pregnancy rates w/ IVF.

Overall, though, I realized upon pondering Thursday's events, I'm not sure I've ever had just one thing after another go so smoothly and so much peace surround my spirit when it's not the perfect way we hope. I don't think a lack of problems grows my faith as much as God's provision when problems arise. I know the Lord is answering prayer. I know I can be level-headed often, but last time this happened (in April, for a much less important procedure) I was so distraught! I felt kicked around and left bruised by it all, and mostly I felt alone. This was different. I KNOW it is because there are so many people praying for us and the Lord is showing me by exposing my needs He is meeting them in answered prayer for so many. That's a great thought.

I go in this Thurs & pray I can get some idea when Jonathan needs to be out here. I'd ask all you wonderful friends to PLEASE keep praying for the Lord's grace, providence, direction and peace every day. Pray for Jonathan & my hearts to walk through this with true faith in God's unchanging Character.