Aside

Bye Bye Baby: An early miscarriage and two failed transfers

Heaven

In hopes to not bore my viewers I will give an accelerated version of the next events.

I left off with the day I got a positive HPT (home pregnancy test). It was 6 days after my embryo transfer and I was stoked. Unfortunately the next morning I woke up to heavy bleeding. Not enough to fill or even touch a pad, but bright red bleeding when I urinated and wiped. I was devastated. 8AM couldn’t come quickly enough for me to contact the doctor’s office to figure out what was possibly going on. In my pessimistic mind, I felt it was the beginning of the end. I knew I was losing the life that attempted to form inside of me, nonetheless I tried my best to hold onto hope. My RE moved my beta up to that day and the results came back positive but quite low, a 10.6, meaning I was barely pregnant. Over the next week I’d repeat that blood work 4 times to see if the numbers were rising. Surprisingly, they did. Each result showed an appropriate increase in my hcg level, but they remained on the low side. During that time, Google was my best friend and worse enemy. I remember tirelessly searching for low beta success stories, and each time I read one, I felt a little more hopeful. I constantly prayed over my little bean, asking God to sustain that life and my pregnancy.

Fast forward to two weeks later, I was scheduled for my first ultrasound. One bright side to IVF is that you get lots of monitoring early on during your treatment. We went for the first ultrasound and the tech had a hard time locating the sac and fetal pole, which by that time (roughly 7 weeks gestation) they would’ve been present. She finally found them but her expression told me everything I needed to know. During the exam that followed, the RE advises me I am at risk for a “threatened abortion”, or miscarriage in laymen terms. That news was quite discouraging, as the bleeding issue had resolved and my blood tests continued to increase. I was instructed to return in a week for a repeat ultrasound. That was probably one of the most stressful and nerve wrecking weeks of my life!

Finally, the day for the repeat ultrasound arrived. My husband was unable to attend the visit with me due to prior obligations. I remember praying the entire 45 minute drive to the Medical Center, asking God to work one of those great miracles He is known for. To turn the situation around and for there to be improvement and a heartbeat. I’d had another bleeding episode a few days after my initial ultrasound which was heavier and longer than the first, which had me feeling like I’d for sure lost the baby, but I remained strong in my faith, even when my flesh was weak and wanted me to believe otherwise. In the ultrasound room, I remember laying there anxiously while the tech inserted the probe, moving it from side to side trying to locate the sac. She removed it without saying much, so I asked her “were you able to find anything?” She stated that she wasn’t able to view anything on the scan, and that Dr. Kovanci would further discuss the results with me. As I walked to the exam room, I knew it was over and I could almost literally feel my heart break into a million pieces.

A few minutes later, the doctor, along with a fellow and a nurse entered the room, which was strange because he normally conducted his consults alone. His tone was somber and in a voice barely above a whisper, he told me “Today there is nothing in your uterus. I’m sorry Mrs. Bradley but you have suffered a miscarriage.” I instantly went numb, and although I had an eery feeling all along that this would be the end result, to get actual confirmation of that was quite overwhelming. I tried to hold my emotions in as he explained that the loss was presumably due to chromosomal abnormalities, which is the number one reason for early miscarriages, but the tears began to flow and I wept uncontrollably. The nurse and fellow did their best to comfort me, but it was to no avail. He went on to say that he was confident one of our remaining frozen embryos would eventually get me pregnant, and briefly touched on the FET process. Most of what he said went in one ear and out the other.

It’s hard to explain how I felt that day as I left the office knowing the little acorn I had already grown to love was gone. I felt as if God played a cruel joke on me. After all we had been through to conceive this child, now he or she was gone. I was angry, hurt, sad, confused, and the list goes on. Although I was only a little over 9 weeks along, I’d already started growing attached to the life forming inside of me. This happened about a week or so before Christmas so it really put a black cloud over my holiday as well. With time, the pain has eased but there are still moments where it gets the best of me. Attending baby showers is hard and with every FB or IG pregnancy announcement I feel joy for the expecting couple but sadness for my husband and I, as they are constant reminds of what could’ve and should’ve been. I’ve noticed lately I’ve been really emotional as my would be due date (July 20th) approaches as well.

I promise I had every intention of discussing my FETs in addition to the miscarriage, but just typing about the miscarriage has me emotionally drained. I will be back sooner than later to chronicle our frozen embryo transfer experiences 

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The sàga continues….

Think Positive

My first appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist, bka RE, was in March 2013. By that time I had completed the basic fertility workup but still didn’t have many answers besides the fact that my cycles were anovulatory, basically meaning that I didn’t ovulate on my own. I met with Dr. Craig Witz at HFI and he reviewed my medical records then went over the different treatment options available. He threw out success rate percentages for IUI and IVF, but my mind was set on IVF from the beginning, as I felt that IUI was a waste of time and money (I’m now rethinking that notion). After the consult he ordered an extensive blood panel that included over 25 vials of blood being tested for everything from genetic disorders to blood clotting issues to STDs. My results were posted a week later and revealed that my AMH, anti-mullerian hormone, was very low for my age. AMH is a newer test that is now more commonly used than the CD3 FSH and is supposed to correlate to a woman’s ovarian reserve. The higher the number, the more eggs present, the higher the chance of a positive outcome. Unfortunately based on my AMH, which was 0.54 when first tested, there was indication that my ovarian reserve was very low, which went hand in hand with the issue of my anovulatory cycles. It was recommended that we proceed quickly to IVF. Although I loved the consult with Dr. Witz, my insurance benefits only allowed fertility treatments with select doctors within our hospital network, so I transferred care to Dr. Ertug Kovanci at TCH-PFW. We met with him for the first time in June, completed additional pre-IVF testing and orientation including medication training over the next month, and was all set to start our first cycle in August. I placed the order for my meds late July, which totalled over $10,000! Thankfully, my insurance has an allotment of $20k for fertilitydrugs and treatment, so my out-of-pocket expense was only a copay, but it was astonishing to see just how costly this process was going to be. I vividly remember the day my meds were delivered. They came in a huge container, and as I pulled each individual box of medicine out, I wept, having a hard time dealing with the fact that my desire to become a mother resulted on the outcome of these medications working in a favorable manner. Unfortunately, AF decided to take a vacation and she’d been MIA since May, so I was given Provera to induce my period in order to proceed with my cycle. I went for my first baseline on August 13th, and I remember feeling so many emotions at once. Unfortunately, we were unable to proceed with that cycle due to 2 cysts that were present during my baseline scan. I was told to call in with CD1 of my next period as the cysts should resolve on their own and we would go from there. That wouldn’t be until two months later, due to a delayed menstrual cycle that would have to be once again induced with Provera.

October 22, 2013 I went for another baseline scan, hoping and praying that the cysts had in fact dissolved and that we would be given the green light to proceed. That evening I received the go ahead from my IVF coordinator and I prepared my first round of self-administered injectables, which included 8 vials of stimulating medications to send my ovaries into overdrive and produce multiple follicles. For the next 9 days, I gave myself these shots every evening. Beginning on day 5, I went in for a scan to check progress, and repeated that scan along with blood work every two days until I had a good number of follicles over 15mm. We then proceeded to the next step of the infamous trigger shot, or HCG hormone that would signal for those growing follicles to prepare the eggs for release and egg retrieval, which would occur 72 hrs later. November 2nd we headed to the Medical Center for the retrieval procedure. DH had to produce a fresh semen sample that would be used to fertilize the eggs that were retrieved, which ended up being 15 in total. The next day we received our fertilization report, which stated there were 10 mature eggs, 9 of which fertilized. Our embryo transfer was scheduled for 5 days after retrieval, on which there were 5 embryos still growing and dividing properly. I had my heart set on transferring 2 embryos, but DH and Dr. Kovanci convinced me to transfer 1, as it was of top quality and 2 may result in multiples (twins, triplets, or quads). After the transfer, I was on bed rest for 2 days and took it easy for the following week or so. I was scheduled for a beta, or blood pregnancy test, on Novemer 15th, but by day 6 I started to become overwhelmed with anxiety and decided to take a First Response test at home. I can’t explain the joy I felt when I saw those two beautiful pink lines appear. Unfortunately that joy would be short-lived….

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Strength, Courage, and Wisdom

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When I look back over the past 2, nearly 3 years, I see that these three things, along with the ever present help of God, have sustained me. Strength. Courage. Wisdom. I never knew how strong I was until I faced what I believe to be the hardest battle of my young life.

Our journey started in July 2012. We’d been married close to a year and decide it was time to “actively” start trying to expand our family. I say actively because prior to that, we had not been trying but hadn’t been preventing either. If I’m honest with myself, I’d felt for a while that something may be wrong with me. Over the course of our then 4 year relationship, there hadn’t been any pregnancy scares, no late periods, nothing. So I consulted with my OBGYN that July, and expressed our desire to start a family soon. She advised me to purchase an OPK (ovulation predictor kit) and track if / when during my cycle I received a positive test for the following 3 months. I was to begin testing on CD (cycle day) 10 and continue until 2 lines appeared on the test strip. Imagine my surprise when month after month, AF would make her monthly visit and I had yet to see two lines on a strip!

So I returned to her in November and we discussed the results, or lack thereof. We then discussed the next steps, which would include an outpatient test known as a HSG (hysterosalpingogram) and a 3 month monitored trial of Clomid. I scheduled the HSG at a local hospital for mid November. Basically the HSG is a procedure performed by a radiologist that involves inflating a balloon into the uterus and then running a dye to check for flow and / or blockages throughout the uterus and Fallopian tubes. It was quick but somewhat painful, especially the following day. The radiologist stated both tubes were open and there were no significant abnormalities to be noted.

Beginning in December I started Clomid. Initially at a 50mg dosage on CD 3-7 and went for blood work on CD 21 to check if I’d ovulated. Sadly I had not, so the dosage was increased to 100mg in January and the process was repeated. The bloodwork that month did not show any signs of ovulation either, so the dosage was increased once again, now to 150mg. And there we finally got good news, that I had in fact ovulated at that dosage! It was also in February 2012 that I scheduled my first appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist, better known as a fertility doctor or RE. The appointment was set for March 20. In the meantime we did one last round of Clomid in March, also at a 150mg dosage but surprisingly to all of us, my OBGYN included, this time around I did not ovulate. At that point she felt as if she’d exhausted all of her options as an OBGYN and wished me luck on my journey with the RE. Back then, I had no clue what a journey it would indeed be……