Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 1 of Stims and Day 1 of Asha's return home

This morning around 8am I gave myself my first injection of IVF #2. This sub-q drug cocktail included 150IU Meno.pur and 300IU of Brav.elle. Tomorrow morning I'll do the same dose, but on Monday I drop the Brav.elle to 150IU. Right now I'm only doing morning doses, but if this cycle is anything like the last I'll probably eventually add an evending dose to the mix. I go for my first follicle tracking scan on Monday morning. I'm also on Doxy, Dexa.methasone, baby aspirin, and prenatals. K seems to be doing well on estrogen and the lowered dose of lupron. She goes on Thursday for her lining check.

I want to thank all of you for your kindness and understanding regarding my furbaby, Asha's, condition. We've known since last April that she has a progressive, terminal illness, but I guess we just got comfortable with her stable state and put everything else in the back of our minds. Even if I had spent the last year worrying and agonizing over when this day would come I still wouldn't be prepared for the end. As I mentioned in my last post Asha is my special kitty. She truly helped to get me through some of my darkest days and nights. There were plenty of days when I would just sit on my couch and cry after J went back to work following Myle's death and Asha would be right there to comfort me. Last night I sat on the couch and cried my eyes out thinking of Asha alone in a kennel at the vet's office. I had visions of her dying alone without me there to hold and comfort her. I told J that no matter what they said she would be coming home with us today and she did.

I went to the vet as soon as I could this morning and we discussed the seriousness of her condition and the options that were before us. We had the choice to bring her home and continue to treat her as we've been doing knowing that she'd slowly (or rapidly) decline, we could leave her there to continue to receive IV fluid treatments knowing that her blood levels likely wouldn't improve, or we could bring her home to continue the IV fluid treatments to let her enjoy the remainder of her days with us there to give her love. Additionally, we were given the option to pursue a kidney transplant and were given a referral to UW-Madison Vet Hospital. We obviously chose to bring Asha home and are scheduled to have a consult with Dr. McAnulty sometime next week to discuss whether or not Asha is a candidate for kidney transplant. (Please do not judge me for considering spending thousands on a kidney transplant to save my cat's life. I have enough people IRL who will do that.)

If you saw Asha today you'd probably never guess that she's terminally ill because she looks alert and is quite active, but her kidney blood levels tell a different story as does her lack of appetite. The appetite is currently my big challenge. I give her an anabolic steroid every other day to stimulate her appetite. Today I presented her with shredded chicken, canned tuna, deli turkey, and scrambled eggs. She licked the water off the canned tuna and licked/nibbled on the scrambled eggs. I honestly think she's too busy exploring the house to want to eat right now. She did eat two cat treats when I held her at the vet, so I'm hoping she eats more later today.

It hurts me so to know that I can't do any more than we're already doing to help her. They left the IV line in her leg and we are now to give her 2 IV treatments of fluids (150cc) each day--one in the am and one in the pm. I also have to flush her line with heparin each time I do this. We will continue this treatment until we speak to the vet at UW to determine if she's a candidate for a kidney transplant. I came home and visited their website and it seems as though she's an ideal candidate, but have to admit that I'm scared about putting her through that whole process too. I'm hoping that after talking with the surgeon we'll have a better sense of what to do. If Asha was an elderly cat, we wouldn't even consider the transplant. But she's relatively young at only 9 and could live several more years with a new kidney. This seems worth the financial and emotional costs to us because we know that Asha's unconditional love is worth every penny and every bit of stress it might cause us. So now we just wait until Monday to see what the hospital has to say and we love and appreciate every single minute Asha is here with us!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sick little kitty

My little tabby cat, Asha, is very sick and in the hospital. She's been battling chronic renal failure (CRF) since her diagnosis in early April '08, but has been doing exceptionally well with sub-q fluid treatments, herbal supplements, and steroids. The last few days I noticed her behaviors were different as were her eating habits and the big clue was the ammonia smell to her breath, which is a tell-tale sign that her creatinine levels are elevated. I took her to the vet today and as I suspected her kidney levels (BUN and creatinine) were off the charts, so the vet recommended admitting her to the hospital for IV fluids to flush her system. The vet informed me that if her kidney levels improve even slightly that is a sign that we'll get them back to a manageable level, but if they don't improve this means that she's in end-stage renal failure. I can't bare to think about the latter.
Asha is particularly fond of me. I like to think it's because I rescued her from homelessness. Asha wandered into my life in '99 when I was going to grad school at UGA. One night while I was taking the trash out I saw a tiny tabby cat hanging around the garbage can and being the cat lover I am I called her over. She immediately came to me and rubbed up against my legs while purring louder than you'd expect such a little cat to be able to do. It was instant love and at that moment she became my little princess and ten years later Asha still has ahold of my heart.

I am one of those people who consider my pets to be members of our family. Both of my cats give us unconditional love and we give them love in return. I don't want this to sound strange or to give you the impression that I think my cats can replace a child because I don't, but they do give us a live, being to care for and nurture. After Myles's died Asha was there to console me. She would sit on my lap constantly during the long days and nights that followed. Whenenver I needed someone she was there purring like a little motor. Every night she sits with me on the couch as I read, comment, and blog. So, as I sit here tonight typing this I can't help but notice how sad and lonely it is not having my little Asha here on my lap purring and rubbing her cute little face on my hand begging me to pet her.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baseline Ultrasound

This morning I had my baseline ultrasound where they measured my antral follicle count (AFC), or resting follicles, and did a bunch of bloodwork. My clinic doesn't usually call with the results of the baseline bloodwork, so I don't have that information yet. However, I did call them to find out and should know tomorrow. My lining was 4.4mm and my AFC was 15, which is a good number for my age (32), but I expected it to be a bit higher. I know I shouldn't complain because Dr. Google tells me that 15-26 is "normal (good) antral count" for women under 35 and that I "should have an excellent response to ovarian stimulation." Additionally Dr. Google tells me that with an antral follicle count of 15 I am a "very low risk for IVF cycle cancellation", yet I do have "some risk for ovarian overstimulation". One study of at fertility clinic in Chicago found that the highest pregnancy rates among women less than 35 years of age in the AFC of 15-26:


Of course I came home to immediately compare the baseline AFC for IVF #2 to IVF #1, but was disappointed to see that 2 years ago my clinic just noted that my ovaries were "quiet" and didn't count the resting follicles. I'm guessing it was fairly similar and I'm not going to worry about it. I start stims on Saturday and go for my 1st follicle tracking scan on 6/3. K started estrogen yesterday and goes for her lining check on 6/4. Things are really underway now ... strap on your belts and hold on for a good ride! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The kindness of IF strangers turned friends

I just want to say that I hope my previous post didn't offend anyone. My dear friend, S, gave me some enlightening perspective on why not everyone visits the cemetary as often as I do and it makes complete sense. As S reminded me I go to Myles's grave to grieve a loss that is still fresh and raw whereas many others go to a grave of their long lost loved ones once in awhile simpley to pay tribute. I feel terrible for being annoyed and for saying this becaue I think I may have given the impression that going once a year isn't enough or doesn't show true love or sadness over a loss. I didn't mean that and am grateful that S helped me understand. Please accept my apologies if I may have offended you.

I have been meaning to give a shout out to my dear IF blogger friend, Cortney, for an amazing and kind thing she did for me. Cortney noticed me mention the high out-of-pocket costs we incurr for Endo.metrin and offered to send me a bunch of extra that she had. Cortney isn't cycling at the moment, but has some embabies waiting for her in the freezer when she's ready. Since she's currently in limbo and her insurance covers the meds, she was happy to give it to someone who needed it. I was so touched and appreciative of her offer. I immediately messaged her to say that I (I mean K) would love the meds, so she packaged them up and sent them my way.

When I got home from work on Friday I saw a large box on my front steps, which I immediately opened to find the Endo.metrin and a number of other goodies! There was a long, heartfelt hand-written letter from Cortney explaining all of the other gifts in the package. She thoughtfully included a box of brownie mix for me to make for K after the ET, four frisbees to give to K's boys, a ceramic frog to put on Myles's grave (shown in previous post), and four boxes of Endo.metrin plus a few loose suppositories (this much would cost me over $1000). Cortney said that she wanted to "send a little hope and love" with her gift, so she included two heart-shaped stones that say "love" and "hope". I feel so fortunate to be so loved and am very full of hope for this cycle. Not too long ago Cortney donated some of her stimming meds to another girl who ended up getting a bfp, so we're hoping that the rest of her meds are just as lucky! I am so moved and amazed by Cortney's kindness. I met Cortney on a message board and now consider her to be my friend. Thank you for being so darn amazing Cortney. Please pop over to her blog to tell her just how wonderful she is!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I know that Memorial Day is the official day that we celebrate and remember all the brave men and women who died serving our country, but for most it's also become a day when we remember and celebrate our loved ones who we've lost. The cemetaries are filled with beautiful, vibrant colored flowers (both fresh and fake) and the traffic in and out of the cemetary is constant. I go to the cemetary to visit Myles's grave almost daily and I usually sit at his grave with the peace and comfort of singing birds and wind chimes playing a tune in the blowing breeze. I occassionally see a visitor or two to a nearby grave, but for the most party I'm alone while I sit and remember. Today I am surrounded by people passing through the cemetary to pay tribute to their long lost relatives. I have to admit that I find myself slightly annoyed as I watch the constant flow of vehicles stream in and out. I'm irked because I wonder why people rely on a national holiday to remember their loved ones, but then I have to remind myself that people grieve and remember differently. Just because they don't go to the cemetary daily doesn't mean that they don't miss those they've lost and just because they aren't there doesn't mean they aren't remembering. I know that when I'm not there at Myles's grave I'm still loving, missing, and remembering my son. A huge thanks to all of my friends and family who are remembering Myles with us today and every day!

Here are some pictures of Myles's grave. I've added a few items since I took the first couple of photos, but you can see them individually pictured at the bottom.

The flower arrangement I made for Myles.

A hanging pot of flowers from Grandma Kristi & Grandpa Joe.
A space shuttle from my dear friends, M & J, and their late son, Charley.

A Brew Crew ball from special Auntie D and Uncle J.

A cute ceramic frog from my blogger friend, Cortney.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Your Thoughts?

I apologize for my absence in the blogosphere. I've been dealing with some drama on a message board that has made me quite upset. I won't get into the details here because that will just fuel the fire, but suffice it to say that stepping out on a limb to help protect the feelings of "friends" has made my life a soap opera over the last week! I've decided to try to ignore the drama as much as I can (short of the borderline insults one girl flung at my love for Myles) and continue on with my life, but there's one thing that I can't stop thinking about. One of the girls who was creating the drama told me that my blog is "sad" and she said that I've chosen to focus on the negative that has resulted from his death. She went on to say that I chose to not have faith and hope in my future. I don't feel like this is an accurate description of me at all. Yes, I am sad and I am bitter about Myles's death, but overall I'm still hopeful about my future. Sometimes I wonder if I'm naively hopeful about my future. So, I wanted to ask all of you who regularly read my blog if you get the overall sense that I'm a pessimist and that I lack hope. Please be honest. I like to think that I'm brutally honest, but that I'm also someone with a natural inclination to be hopeful. What do you think?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring has finally sprung

Today I finally felt like it was safe to plant my flowers. We get frost pretty late in May here in WI, but it sounds like last night might have been the last frost of the spring. Today was an absolutely beautiful sunny day with temps in the mid to upper 60's, so literally the perfect day to garden. Here's a look at some of what I accomplished today ...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lupron shot #1

K took her 1st lupron shot today, so it seems as though the cycle has officially started now! It's crazy that K is taking meds before me, but soon enough I'll be joining her. Next week I start Dexa.methasone, but what I'm anxious to start are my stims. May 30 can't get here soon enough!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Congrats to K!

We all need to give a shout out to K and send her huge congrats! On Friday night K graduated from the Surgical Technologist program at the local technical college. The past year K's been dedicated to her schooling and it paid off. On Saturday night we went out to K's favorite Japanese steakhouse to celebrate with her! We had a great time! Below is a picture of K and I at the Japanese restaurant. K looks super cute and I look like I have a very fat face, which I'll blame on the fact that J was taking the photo sitting down. I gave K a beautiful hanging basket of flowers and also brought K's favorite cupcakes from the local bakery--banana split and red velvet and as usual they were fabulous! We ate good food, drank some fruity alcoholic beverages, and enjoyed each other's company. K you are a strong, dedicated woman who never ceases to amaze me! I am so proud of you for all that you accomplish and as you know I am forever grateful for your willingness to help us make our dreams come true! You are a true rockstar!
I was finally able to give K her t-shirt for the upcoming ET. I meant to take her photo with the t-shirt, but didn't want to make a big deal of the shirt on her special day. Saturday was all about K and I didn't want it to seem even the slightest bit about me. However, I think the t-shirt shows just one more way that K is so darn amazing! K held it up and showed it to everyone and they seemed to think it was pretty cute. I can't wait to see K wearing hers on the day of ET. I'll wear my matching shirt as well and I'll be sure to take a photo, but for now here's a picture of the t-shirts I've been talking about. I'm sure you can figure out that K's is on the left and mine is on the right. :)

I feel the love

I feel so loved by all of you and by those close to me in my life. Thank you so much for all of your kind words yesterday. It was a tough day for me with a ton of tears, but I made it through and am happy that I don't have to deal with that day again for another 365 days!

I feel fortunate that a handful of my amazing friends and family remembered that I am a mother and called me, sent cards and emails, and a couple sent gifts. My mom gave me a beautiful hanging basket of flowers. My dear friend, D, left me a beautiful plant and wonderful mother's day card on my front steps yesterday. I have to say that D has been my biggest supporter through all of my IF struggles. D is always there for me! She remembers the tough days, she spends countless hours listening to me complain and cry, she supports me and cheers me on even while going through her own difficulties, and D always acknowledges Myles's days. Unfortunately D is one of us--she's battled IF for way to any years to count and at the current moment she and her dh are choosing to live child-free. D is one of the most caring, compassionate, understanding, loving people I've ever met. She is really a natural "mother" and it saddens me that she has not been blessed with a child. This is why I will never understand IF--it is so unfair! D you are an amazing, strong woman and I feel so fortunate to call you my friend! Thank you for being you!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I am a Mommy

I am Myles's Mommy. He may not be here today, but he was here 15 months ago. I love my son today just as much as the day he was born. Myles may not seem real to many, but he was very real to me. Myles had 10 tiny toes and 10 tiny fingers. He had my big eyes and his Daddy's round nose. Myles was a preemie, but that doesn't make him any less our baby. Preemies are just tiny babies born too soon. I gave birth to Myles. I have the scar to show for it. I nourished Myles with my breast milk. I changed his diapers and comforted him when he was upset. I would've died to save my son, but despite my best efforts I just couldn't save him. I love Myles and my heart aches for him.

Today I may not get recognition as a mother and I may not be celebrated by my child, but I know I am Myles's Mommy and I know in my heart he loves me. Today I will remember the days I spent with Myles and I will remember how it felt to touch his soft skin and hold his tiny, warm body next to mine. Today I will quietly celebrate my motherhood in solitude.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Babyloss Mammas Are Survivors

"My Mom is a Survivor"
By Kaye Des'Ormeaux
(Dedicated to mothers who have lost a child
and have somehow survived.)
My Mom is a survivor, or so I've heard it said.
But I can hear her crying at night when all others are in bed.
I watch her lay awake at night and go to hold her hand.
She doesn't know I'm with her to help her understand.
But like the sands on the beach that never wash away...
I watch over my surviving mom, who thinks of me each day.
She wears a smile for others...a smile of disguise!
But through Heaven's door I see tears flowing from her eyes.
My mom tries to cope with death to keep my memory alive.
But anyone who knows her knows it is her way to survive.
As I watch over my surviving mom through Heaven's open door...
I try to tell her that angels protect me forevermore.
I know that doesn't help her... or ease the burden she bears.
So if you get a chance, go visit her...and show her that you care.
For no matter what she matter what she feels.
My surviving mom has a broken heart that time won't ever heal.

I'm thinking of all of you who've loved and lost your babies. This weekend will be tough for all of us, but know that we are strong. We walk through life with a broken heart with only a memory of our babies to keep us going. We love our babies just as much as our friends and family who are fortunate to have their children with them here on Earth. Despite the "great sadness" that surrounds us we manage to forge ahead. It's not easy most days, yet we dig deep and find the smallest shred of inner strength to keep on going. We are survivors!

For me my memories of Myles keep me going. I remember what an amazing little "soldier" he was and what a courageous battle he waged. I remind myself that I promised Myles that I would emulate his strength and that I would continue my fight. I fought for Myles and am grateful for all that I went through to have him. I know in my heart that my continued fight and all the pain that comes with it is not in vain. I am determined to beat infertility once again and despite all the devastation we've faced I'm still optimistic (yep, that's me the eternal optimist) that one day with K's help I will win this war. I am a survivor and I will triumph!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Special Delivery X 2

No, not that extra special kind of delivery that we all dream of, but the package that arrived is getting us one step closer to that! The Fed.Ex guy delivered my meds today at work and you would not believe the ridiculously large boxes the meds came in! I had a student go to the office to get the packages and of course my nosey students wanted to know what was in the boxes. I told them it was lab supplies because I didn't want to get into it. My students do know that I have infertility issues and that Myles was an IVF baby, but I don't intend to tell them that I'm cycling in June. I will have to miss a couple of my 1st period classes for monitoring, but I'll just tell them that I was at the doctor. I'm lucky that I have prep 2nd period and I supervise a study hall 3rd period because I'll miss those too on the days when I travel to my clinic for monitoring. The clinic is about a 65 minute drive one-way when the traffic is good and because of my all-inclusive shared-risk plan I have to have the monitoring done at the clinic.

This cycle I'm starting off with 150U of Meno.pur in the AM and 300U of Bra.velle in the PM. In IVF #1 I did 15oU of Meno.pur in the AM and 150U of Bra.velle in the PM, so I guess my RE is acting more aggressively with this cycle. He's hoping to stim me 10 days this time instead of 13 days like last time. Other than this change the protocol is the same.

The other special delivery came on Monday night. Remember I mentioned ordering matching t-shirts for K and I to wear at the next ET. Well they arrived and they are super cute! I took a photo, but don't want to post it until I give K her t-shirt on Saturday night. We are going to look so darn cute when we go for the ET!

I'm still dreading Sunday, but J informed me that we are going to get drunk and skip work on Monday. I thought he was kidding, but he took the day off on Monday. So, I'm taking it off also. I'm sure it will be necessary as I'll have an emotional hangover from the anticipated crying I will do on Sunday. I'm going to see my mom tomorrow and she understands that I just need to stay in the house and not face the world that day. The only place I will go is to visit Myles's grave. Other than that I'll be in my house, so I don't have to see little kids, babies, and/or pregnant women. What will you be doing on Mother's Day to make it through the day?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May Day and Myles

I thought by distracting myself with activities I could forget about the significance of May 1--the day in 2008 when Myles was supposed to be born--but really all it did was delay the inevitable emotional meltdown. I had a girl's night in party with some of my friends from work on Friday night. We drank X-rated martinis and wine. We ate a variety of delectable appetizers and indulged in decadent chocolates. We chatted and had a nice time. It was a great distraction. By the time they left I was exhausted and fell asleep immediately, which was great because I didn't have time to think.

Yesterday I was busy with a variety of things, but when we went to K's for a bonfire I watched her two little boys play with her friends three little boys and I was hit with the reality that I'll never get to see Myles do any of those things I watched them do. The fact is that I'll never get to see Myles again. While sitting around the fire we were listening to K's I.pod on shuffle and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole came on. I was already thinking of Myles, but this song took me back to the day we buried him. We played this song while we released 26 rainbow-colored balloons at his burial service. I'm certain that J was thinking about it too and K even mentioned that she remembered this song at Myles's funeral. I tried to ignore it, so I wouldn't burst into tears in front of K's friends. After this song finished the next song that played was "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. As most of you know this is one of the songs that I put on Myles's tribute video. It's also one of the songs that played at his funeral. I was in total disbelief that as I was thinking of Myles and all that I'd be missing with him two songs that will forever be etched in my mind as Myles's songs played back to back on K's I.pod. K noticed it too and kept saying how strange it was.

Today the inevitable happened ... I had a total meltdown. I woke up to see the sun shining, but I didn't feel sunny inside at all. I felt completely knocked down and sad. Despite the fact that I would've liked to stay in bed all day I got up and ran some errands. On the way home I started crying and couldn't stop. I've been crying on and off all day long. I miss Myles so much that it physically hurts. I will spend the rest of my life with an aching heart. I may not cry every day anymore, but it doesn't mean that my heart doesn't hurt just as much as it did the day Myles died. It does and it will always hurt. I get the impression that some people think once I have another baby my heart will no longer be broken, but what they don't realize is that nothing is ever going to fill this giant hole in my heart. This is the wound that my son's death has left on me and it's a wound that I will bare for life.

Friday, May 1, 2009

IVF Calendar

We finally received our official calendar for the upcoming cycle. I am doing the antagonist protocol again. I am so excited! I called to order my meds and K ordered hers too. We are both very excited to get this cycle underway.

Here's the plan for IVF #2: (it doesn't feel right to call it IVF #5 since this is only my 2nd ER)

5/12: K starts lupron
5/27: My baseline u/s
5/30: I start stims (Men.pur & Brave.lle)
6/3: My 1st follicle tracking scan (u/s)
6/10: Estimated ER
6/15: Estimated ET to K
6/25: Beta #1
6/27: Beta #2

This cycle is going to be a little different being actively involved in the process, but I think it will make me feel more a part of things. It's not that I didn't feel like I was involved in the last cycle with K because I did, but I felt a lot of guilt that K was the one getting poked and prodded while I sat by watching. Since we're doing an ER this time, I'll get plenty of poking and prodding and will likley surpass K in that department. However, I still consider myself fortunate not to have to endure the horrid PIO. I'm already feeling bad for K's bum! Do you remember the photos of her welts and bruises from the last cycle? I know K's a trooper, but damn that looks like it hurts! The ball is rolling ....