Trigger & retrieval / CCS genetic counseling/ gemstones and tin soldiers

Dr. S. has given the go-ahead for me to trigger tonight!

Or, I should say, in the wee hours of the morning. A nurse is coming to my hotel at 2:30 a.m. to inject me with HCG.

Then at 3:30 a.m., I will be injecting myself with .8 ml of Lupron. I did not expect the Lupron, but it turns out Dr. S. sometimes uses it in an effort to get the smaller follicles to produce mature eggs. Right now I’ve got a bell curve of 9 egg follicles that range from 8.5 mm to 24 mm, with about 7 eggs somewhere close-ish to the ideal range of 18 – 20 mm. So the idea is to push the smaller ones (8.5, 10.4, 14.5, 14.2, 15) up in size, while not losing the larger ones (20, 20.3, 21.3, 24).

I just did my very last shot of Follistim—which, I realize, will be my last self-administered shot of this IVF cycle. It came none too soon, as it became really, really difficult to puncture myself today. I’d look down at the needle pointing at my skin, tell myself, Come on, girl, you’ve done this a million times, you can do it again, but my hands would start sweating and it’d take five minutes or more of self-talk for me to dart the needle into the skin.

I am swollen as a beach ball down there—here’s a picture from yesterday and my belly has grown more since then! I really did not expect all this swelling and aching.

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And here is my schedule for tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday:

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We went to genetic counseling today for CCS (comprehensive chromosomal screening) and it was fascinating! I was intrigued I almost forgot they were describing something that has turned my life upside down. I never really understood how an egg becomes chromosomally abnormal. What happens has to do with meiosis. Here’s the deal: I was born with all the eggs I’m ever going to have. When I was younger, if a sperm came knocking on my egg’s door, my egg’s 46 chromosomes would divide down to 23 (and expel the other 23) in order to match up with the sperm’s 23 chromosomes. (The process of going from 46 to 23 is meiosis.) But as I’ve aged, the “glue” that holds the chromosomes in my eggs together has gotten stickier, and it has become more difficult for my eggs to undergo perfect meiosis. So sometimes when my egg gets together with a sperm and partners with that sperm’s 23 chromosomes, the resultant embryo might have an extra chromosome in one of the pairings (ie. trisomy) because my egg couldn’t quite let go of one bit of chromosomal material (it stuck). Or perhaps a  bit of chromosomal will be missing altogether. The reason Down’s Syndrome is compatible with life is because that particular chromosome pair (or triplet, in the case of Down’s) is quite small and doesn’t contain a lot of information. When there are problems with the other, larger chromosomal pairings, you end up with abnormalities that are not compatible with life.

During CCS, the embryologist looks at all 23 pairs of chromosomes and they look for perfect pairings–no extras, none missing. Those that pass that test are euploid and can be transferred back into me. (It is 95% accurate, and they still recommend amniocentesis later.)

During a trial, 28 women who had experienced recurrent pregnancy loss were treated with IVF with CCS, and 27 out of 28 of those women achieved successful pregnancies.

750 healthy babies are in this world due to IVF with CCS to date.

Wow. That made me feel a little more confident!

Another good thing: My lining is over 10 mm. I mean, that stuff is thick! It’s usually about 8 mm, which is also good, but 10 is extra-good. So I believe something positive is happening in my body. I’m not doing a fresh transfer, so I will shed that lining, but it’s good to know what my good body is up to.

I’ll leave you with the three gemstones I’ve been using the most since I came to Colorado.

Carnelian (red) is on the left, and it is for fertility. I put it on my left ovary to get those smaller follicles growing.

Quartz (blue) is on the right, and it is for calming and soothing. I put it on my right ovary to calm those larger follicles down a bit.

Aventurine (green) is in the middle, and it is for good luck. I place it over my uterus and let it talk to the other two.

Behind them all are my Western Medicine Tin Soldiers—vials of diluent and medicine.

So much of this journey has been a dialogue between Western and Eastern treatments. Between science and spirituality. And so–I love this picture:

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3 Comments

  1. ADM

     /  January 16, 2013

    I always feel horribly bloated just from FSH/femara and IUI procedures that have produced anywhere from 2 to 4 mature follicles with a handful of smaller ones. MY left ovary is always more active and it would sometimes ache so much I couldn’t lie on that side at all for about 10 days. It would always take about 5 days or so post ovulation to settle down. So I cannot even imagine how uncomfortable you must be. I’m sorry the needles are so hard for you, but glad you’re at least done with them for now. But I’m hoping you’ll have reason to stick yourself everyday with the Lovenox in the very near future! I have never been bothered by needles, so that was a small blessing as I went through treatment. I do bruise like crazy, however, (always have) and so my belly did look pretty awful by the time I had been sticking myself for 7 or 8 weeks. Anyway, sounds like all is going well for you thus far. Can’t wait to hear great news about your retrieval. What is your timeline after that? I’ll be hanging out over here in CO with fingers crossed for you. And thanks for the statistical information. It does provide hope to people like me, though I’m still all but certain we just can’t afford the route you’re taking. We are still seriously considering IVF with my partners eggs though, and we’re debating about moving to the Schoolcraft clinic as their success rates are so much higher than our current clinic’s. Even though my partner is much younger and likely has better odds, we still feel like we should go where we have the best hope of a successful cycle, perhaps with embryos to spare for FET if need be. It’s helpful to hear that the clinic has been very kind to you as I’ve heard that they can be very “industrial” due to their size. It’ll be rough to switch from our small clinic who knows us so very well and treats us with such personal attention and kindness.

    By the way, you’ve inspired me to create a little meditation corner in my house. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and I’m going to get started on it next week. I’m also going to return to my Bikram yoga studio. I’d stopped during my last pregnancy cycle as the heat is supposed to be bad for both fertility and pregnancy, but I so miss both the physical benefits and the mental/emotional escape it provides. I’m hoping that both of those things will help me clear my head a bit as it’s been a rough go. I may also try seeing my therapist again. I don’t handle therapy well and the “side effects” are often worse than the effects of what I’m using therapy to address, but I’m feeling awful enough that I’m even willing to give that yet another shot. Sorry to turn my comment into a big “me-fest.” :(

    Reply
    • Wow—that is amazing that I’ve inspired the meditation corner for you, how awesome is that. Just passing on the tools that have been given to me. Yoga is the best magic medicine there is, in my experience, and I’m glad you’re going back there. I’d never heard that the heat was bad for fertility, just for pregnancy, but in any case, maybe you can do more restorative yoga poses if you’re concerned about that? I completely know what you mean about therapy side effects–ha! Yes. There have been times when I’ve left therapy thinking, Why did I just pay $30 to get sadder? But of course the cumulative effect is so positive and helpful. Yeah, the money and CCRM is no joke! We wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for DH’s parents. It was a scary decision for us because they gifted us money that they might have otherwise given us to put a down payment on a house—so looks like we’ll be renting into our fifties! (: But of course I don’t care if we have to live in a tent in the woods if they result of this is a child, or children. You asked about timeline–so the day after tomorrow, we find out how many fertilized. Then how many make it to blastocysts on Day 5 or 6. Then 3 weeks later, how many euploid embryos there are to transfer. So far we’ve come, so far to go!

      Reply
    • P.S.
      I want to say more about your feeling awful…You know, when I was at my very lowest, I went on an extreme low-dose of Prozac for a few months. I believe the positive effects on my mental health were actually good for my fertility! Not that you need that, but just wanted to put that out there, in case you’d ever contemplated it. I’m so sorry you’re feeling stuck and sad—big hug to you.

      Reply

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