Tag Archives: bicornuate uterus

Infertility: Round 2

Last time we were dealing with infertility there were a lot of unknowns and a lot of tests to get to the bottom of them.  This time around we have a pretty clear picture of what’s going on, but it doesn’t make the situation any less bleak or frustrating. 

In case you are just tuning in, here’s the Cliffs Notes version of what I’m workin with;

1. Stage 3 of 4 Endometriosis (which I just learned may be less after having River, hooray for small victories!)

2.  A heart-shaped uterus (I’ve had the septum resected twice as these suckers (with a capital F) grow back!)

3.  An “advanced age” for pregnancy, I was 34 the first time around, now I’m 37

4.  I have only 1 Fallopian tube due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy last year

5.  A traveling husband who is gone about 60-70% of the time

6.  A hormonal imbalance causing hot flashes and night sweats that my doctor is trying to figure out

Here’s what I have actually GOING for me;

1.  My ovaries are in good condition and I have a pretty good reserve for my “advanced age”

2.  A super patient and wonderful husband who’s on board with whatever it takes 

Since a year of “trying” has passed, to no avail, I’m back with a fertility specialist.  This time a new one since we moved out of state.  So far I really like her.  

My first appointment was Monday where we did blood work and an ultrasound.  She said my ovaries looked great, this month I had at least 7 eggs on the right and 6 on the left “wake up” which is right where it should be I guess.  She saw what could be a polyp or blood clot in my uterus and possibly some fluid in my remaining tube.  I still don’t have the results of the blood work.  

This morning I’m going in for another HSG test.  I’d have to say these are one of the most unpleasant things I’ve been through.  Last time I had to go through it several times because I had a couple doctors retire in the middle of my treatment and the new docs always wanted fresh info, that meant putting me through things time and again.  

On the plus side, HSGs could possibly boost your fertility for a few months.  Unfortunately my husband is also touring heavily at this time, damn it. 

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Is IVF more boy-friendly?

We did genetic testing along with our IVF treatment, so we were able to see the sex of all of our embryos.  We didn’t WANT to know before transferring because we wanted it to be a surprise and we made that clear to our doctor.  He forgot.

We had 11 eggs that fertilized, but only 5 made it the 5 days after insemination to the testing day.  We found this out the morning of our embryo transfer, 6 days after egg retrieval/insemination, but it came with some bittersweet news.  First of all, our dumb dumb Dodo doctor came in that morning and exclaimed that he had some “great news.”  Out of 11 eggs, we were left with 2 healthy embryos.  Both male.  2.  We were super excited because we both wanted a boy, but there was also that twinge of sadness from finding out much earlier than (and not how) we wanted what the sex of our baby would be, and also knowing that we didn’t even have the option of having a girl from this round of IVF.

Even more concerning was that 3 of the 5 embryos were abnormal, and ALL FIVE were male.  We had no female embryos that made it to testing.  Which of course raises the complex question; What the fuck?

I actually don’t think we got much information at all about the genetic testing.  I’m not even sure if we got a physical report about their findings, we were just told that day that 3 of the 5 were “abnormal.”  I don’t know if they even know more than that or not.  I’d be interested in hearing from any of you fellow IVFers who also did testing if you ever got any more information than just normal/abnormal.  It seems sort of vague to me.  Could “abnormal” be anything ranging from minor to severe?  Who knows?  But it does make the prospect of trying on our own that much more daunting.

It would seem something is going on with our female embryos.  So while I was thrilled with the outcome of the IVF and ACTUALLY BEING PREGNANT!!  I was also quietly mourning the possibility that we had just been handed yet another obstacle and told yet another thing my body cannot do; make a female baby.

I’ve since read that IVF can be tough on female embryos, which are more fragile.  Especially with genetic testing, having to last outside the womb for 5 days is not an easy task (I can relate).  But this seems to only account for a very small margin, about 1-2% in favor of male embryos.

BUT, there’s another factor that I think is terribly overlooked when it comes to male favorability in IVF.  There are are many different protocols and techniques to IVF.  Over the several years of researching it and actually going through it myself I’ve spoken with many other women who have also gone through it.  None of us had the same exact experience.  One technique which can differ is the use of ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) vs the dish method.

In the dish method an egg is introduced to a petri dish of sperm, the same way it would be inside the womb, so nature can take it’s course.  In ICSI, under direct microscopic vision, an embryologist chooses a single sperm and injects it into the egg.  ICSI is typically used for male infertility, when there are few sperm or the quality of them is low.  Our IVF clinic uses ICSI across the board, we did not get a choice in whether or not to use it.  I believe this is because of the genetic testing.

Fertilization in a petri dish, just like in natural insemination, requires interaction between the sperm and cumulus cells that surround the egg.  There is a need to remove these cumulus cells in order to perform preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), and therefor it is left far less capable of being fertilized spontaneously.  Hence the need for further intervention (ICSI).

ICSI does have a higher pregnancy success rate, but you are also eliminating natural selection to some degree.  Eggs have ways of determining the best sperm and keeping those that have defects from passing through.  In ICSI, you have an embryologist basically eyeballing sperm and hand selecting one, and forcing it into the egg.  I believe they look for things like size and swimming strength, which could be why there is a higher occurrence of males?  Just a thought.

I’m totally fascinated by the science that brought us our baby, and I’m so grateful for it’s existence!  I could happily read about IVF all day, if I wasn’t busy chasing around the product of it in the form of my 10 month old who is faster on all 4s than I am on my 2s.  I would like to know the reason we had all male embryos, but it’s more due to my curiosity and thirst for knowledge when it comes to this stuff than anything else.  It would also be nice to know that the cause is not an indication of something unhealthy that I may be passing down to my son.  I would LOVE to have a daughter some day, but am perfectly happy being a #boymom forever.

 

 

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Squinty Eyes, Another U/S and More Blood Work

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My father-in-law put together this picture of my husband and me when we were both little.  At least there’s no question what our child will look like, it just would have been nice if someone had mentioned previous to our wedding that we were siblings. As far as having eyes goes, this kid doesn’t stand a chance.  My money is on it looking a lot like Bunsen from the Muppets minus the glasses.

I had my 5 day u/s and blood work today.  It’s so hard to know what I was looking at, and the nurse didn’t say much.  I seemed to have about 4 follicles total that were 14 or 15, and about 4 more that were 10-12, at least of what they measured. I have no idea if this is on track or not.  I had to reorder 2 more days worth of Menopur, and it looks as though my retrieval date may be this Friday.  Of course the husband is leaving to play a couple festivals in the UK on Wednesday and will be gone for about 5 days.  But luckily it looks like he will most likely be here for the transfer date which is more important anyway.  He can make it up to me by waiting on me hand and foot and being my own personal In N Out delivery boy.

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What’s in the Box???!

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It’s HERE!!!  A little unnerving that the box could double as a quaint condominium for my 2 dumb dogs.  Unpacking it now.  My home is becoming Needle Nation, I’ll need to hang a new flag.

Also, I decided to make an Instagram account for all the IVF stuff.  Follow it, I’ll be happy to share every detail that could possibly help or support anyone out there!  @bb.bux

Also please feel free to follow my regular account too (@KateOrDie) for regular updates on both my one-eyed, and toothless dogs, pictured above!  What more could you want?

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Time Out

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I can’t even go into all the set backs we had due to the changes in healthcare in the past couple years because I’m one step closer to the edge, and I’m about to break.  But just to sum it up for you, between my diagnosis of the uterine septum and possible endometriosis (which turned out to be stage 3) and my actual treatment, it took a YEAR.  A whole mother-loving year.  And in that year, I had 5, count them, F.I.V.E.!. doctors retire on me.  (Not that I blame them, I would have retired as well)  So we were just lost in the shuffle every step of the way.  There were tests I had to take multiple times because my results were lost, or by the time they got them back to us, they were old news and they wanted current info on what was going on with me.  I had to have an HSG TWICE because of this same reason, and those are miserable.

So, needless to say, I’m getting rather effing antsy!  Also with 35 just around the corner for me, time is of the essence.  So I pretty much had a melt down the other day when the nurse informed me that the Dr. was insisting I get my Rubella vaccination and that you can’t start treatment for 3 whole months after!

We had been over this in his office in our last meeting.  He told me that my blood work showed that my Rubella levels were “a little low” and that we should “think” about getting a booster.  He also told me the risks on BOTH SIDES of the issue.  It sounded to me like it was my prerogative.  I am a believer in vaccinations, but I knew that I did still have some of the vaccine in me, and it seemed like something I could do after the baby was born.  Also, the fact that there were a couple risks on the side of getting the booster as well, pushed me in the direction of waiting.  I’m never around children and would make sure I wasn’t in this time, limit my traveling, and be super careful.  The fact is, the vaccine is in my body still, and had I not started this process of ttc I never would have known it was a little low.  I felt like it could wait 11 more months.

But now, the WEEK we were supposed to start the IVF process, I find out that it is mandated by the Dr. and he won’t let me start unless I get the vaccine, well, 3 months after actually.  I don’t mind him being cautious, he is a doctor and that is his job.  I’m also not going to argue with him when he tells me what is best for me and my baby.  He is the EXPERT.  I am not, I don’t care how much I sit in front of Google.  I was still having a very massive woe is me moment after receiving that news.

 

Anyway, so after all this, I got some pretty good news today.  My doctor said that it’s actually only a 30 day period from the time of vaccination and actually getting pregnant that is unsafe.  But I can start the treatment within those 30 days, so I’m good to go!  I have an appointment this afternoon for my MMR and then I don’t have to worry about it anymore!  It’s kind of the best outcome because I would have been a little worried about it even if the doctor had allowed me to sign a waver or something and start treatment without it.  And now we can proceed on schedule!  For now.  We’ll see what this TTC wants to throw at me next.  Sometimes I feel like this infertility odyssey is a huge game of dodgeball.  *WHAM* You’re out.  Go sit in the corner until your next period.

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My D&C and Septum Resection Experience

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I want to share the experience of these because there were a couple things I went through that I would liked to have known about ahead of time. Hopefully this info can help someone who needs it.

I had my first Laparoscopy, D&C and Septum resection for my bicornuate uterus in June of 2013. That procedure pretty much went off without a hitch. Of course I was terrified in the days leading up to it because I am a frightened diaper baby. I was a little sore after but slept all the way through to the next day when I felt much better. The doctor put a balloon filled with saline in my uterus to hold the walls of it apart until they healed so they wouldn’t grow together, which is pretty standard I believe. That wasn’t a problem either. Sometimes I swear I could feel it sloshing around in there, but I think that was just my imagination.

Getting the balloon out wasn’t a huge deal, but I hated it. Anytime a speculum comes out, I’m instantly in tears. I don’t know if I’m just super sensitive down there or what, but that is seriously torture. After all the things I’ve beed through medically in my life, and it’s a lot, I can’t believe how excruciating that is for me. It just feels wrong, wrong, wrong, so I tense up, and those muscles are strong! I must be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of kegel muscles. Anyway, once the speculum was in, the balloon was out almost instantly and it was over. I felt none of that.

My doctor had warned me that there was a slight chance some of the uterine septum could grow back, and for me it did. So I had another resection in September of 2013. Again, the doctor put in a ballon, and again I felt just sore but groggy immediately after. I started to get really antsy after I woke up and I asked if it was ok if I went home. They gave me some more pain meds and released me to my husband.

As we started to drive home, I became increasingly more uncomfortable. We only live about 15 minutes from the surgery center, and by the time we got home, I was in more pain than I have ever felt in my life! I laid down on the floor of our bedroom in the fetal position and groaned and cried until that turned into screams. The pain just kept getting worse and worse. My husband left immediately to go fill the pain prescription for me, and I swear he was back in 30 seconds. At this point I was on the toilet, I couldn’t even tell where exactly the pain was coming from, but my subconscious was telling me I needed to push it out. So, I tried to poop. Pushing would relieve the tiniest bit of pain for a second, and then it came back, much much worse! I took the pain pill, it did nothing. I can’t even explain to you what this felt like.

At this point my husband is almost in tears, he has no idea what to do for me. He called the surgery center and told them what was happening and they were clueless. They told him to bring me back in, which he relayed to me right there while still on the phone. I think my response was something dignified like “There’s no FUCKING WAY!” as my head spun all the way around. They called in a much stronger dose of pain meds for me, and again my husband flew there and back in no time delivering them to me. These also did absolutely nothing.

It had only been about 2 hours since I left the surgery center, but it felt like 5 days. I think there’s something about not knowing why the hell you’re in pain that makes it a million times worse. I think if the nurse would have even said, “Oh, ok, that’s just her uterus falling out.” I would have felt a little better. But instead she said something much worse, “I’m sorry, we won’t know what’s wrong with her unless you bring her back in.”

My poor husband. He has no training in handling wild animals, nor did he study the art of exorcism. He was completely unprepared for dealing with me. Getting me down the stairs and into the car was like a scene from Jurassic Park where they try to corral the raptors back into the cage. Putting a seatbelt on me was not happening. At that point I was kind of hoping we would go careening off a large cliff in a fiery death. I rode pretty much on my back with both feet pressed firmly against the windshield doing lamaze the whole way.

The scene at the hospital did not get much prettier. I was literally begging the nurses to help me, mixed in with a lot of screaming at them. Within seconds I was back in the surgery prep room wearing that piece of Kleenex they call a hospital gown. They gave me a shot of Demerol while a second nurse searched for one of my shitty veins to put an IV in my arm. “This is going to pinch a little,” the first nurse said sounding nervous but sweet. At this point everyone there was afraid of me. I turned to her as flames shot out of my eyes and my voice dropped 6 octaves, “GIVE ME FUCKING NINE OF THEM.”

The adorable, sweet and VERY soft spoken anesthesiologist came over to ask me a few questions, the poor man. He was very shortly joined by my doctor. They stepped aside to converse for a moment and I could tell they were still a little baffled. I decided I had to take matters into my own hands now and it was time to push again.

I stood up, grabbed my IV bag stand, and booked it for the bathroom with my gown flapping in the breeze. The nurses shouted after me to please wait for them, but I did not. My bare butt exposed to them, the doctors, and about 5 patients and their families I charged for the bathroom, sat on the toilet, door open wide for my adoring audience, and tried once more to poop.

This, of course, did nothing. The door remained open as nurses came flooding in. I sat hunched over, rocking, holding my face in my hands. Finally they got me back in the bed and wheeled me into the surgery room. The doctor put in a speculum, at this point not even that could phase me, and he pulled out the balloon. And just like that, it was over. The pain was completely gone.

And here I am doped up on more drugs than Courtney Love at the VMAs. I looked around the room at these people I had terrorized and felt awful for about 1 second until all the endorphins kicked in. Then I felt WONDERFUL.

Apparently, the second time around, the balloon had sent me into advanced labor! That on a freshly wounded uterus, with no build up and not knowing what was happening, it was terrible. At least it explains why my subconscious was telling me to push. I didn’t need to poop, my body was trying to birth a balloon!

Anyway, I say this not to scare anyone that’s going to have the procedure. My advice is that you stay there for as long as they will let you to make sure that your body is reacting ok to the balloon before you leave. And if this crazy pain starts for you, at least you can tell them right away it might be the balloon and it can hopefully save you from the hours of pain I went through. Literally the second the balloon came out, my pain dropped to zero, and it only takes a second.

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Here Goes Everything!

I can’t think of many things more personal than dealing with infertility.  Even when you try to be open with people about it, there are times it can be met with so little understanding you’re almost left feeling like you should be ashamed of even paying attention to this thing your body can’t do.  Like you’re greedy or something for not just focusing on what you DO have.  Unfortunately I’ve learned that, for some people, not understanding something has absolutely no correlation to how opinionated they are about it. Despite all that, I want to share our story as it happens.

The main reason for this is because I know I would not have made it this far if it weren’t for all of the awesome women who have shared their stories with me. Infertility is heartbreaking. And I guess when we put all our little broken pieces together, we can make something cool out of it, a sort of mosaic. There are so many feelings when dealing with infertility, I believe if you can’t have some sort of outlet, you’ll most certainly explode. I’d like to dig up unsolved mysteries of spontaneous combustion and see if I can’t find a link to infertility.

So before I go BOOM, I’ll share my story. Some of our history is in the About Us section. Our IVF cycle is still brand brand new, but it’s been about a 3 year trek to even arrive here. I started my BC pills on Friday night, so far I feel no difference, which is a good thing. The last time I was on birth control I was cah-ray-zay! And not in the fun way, either. I think I tend to be a pretty hormonal person on my own, puberty took roughly 8 or 9 minutes to completion for me. I went from long standing member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee to carting around my very own set of Dub Ds faster than you could spell Soleil Moon Frye. I’ll never forget the inopportune moment it happened, either. My mom had just bought me a plum colored t-shirt dress from the Gap that were all the rage in 1991. I tried it on and went bounding down the stairs to show it off to my family. As I hit the 3rd or 4th step my sister gasped, pointed and sang “KATIE’S GOT BOO-BIES!” I hated that song.

So I don’t know if the hormone thing really has anything to do with my reaction to birth control. All I know is that some of my less boobified and more tomboyish friends loved taking it. They were all Zen about it and felt great, the dumb bitches. It just made sense to me that it was like a scale, leveling them out, meanwhile sending me into overdrive, pressing heavily against the “Serial Killer Mode” switch in my brain. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.

I have no idea how women did it in the 70s. Weren’t they taking like a bajillion milligrams back then?? I guess that explains the adoration of shag carpeting, puke green and baby shit yellow that decade, women were out of their poor minds!

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