Tag Archives: ttc community

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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Ketchup

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I took a little break from blogging for the last couple weeks.  Today I am 3dp6dt!  Here are my updates!

Retrieval:

I don’t know why I was so worried about this.  Actually, I take that back.  I know EXACTLY why I worried.  The thought of a foot-long needle going through my vagina, THAT was worrisome.  I was hoping I would be out cold, but my nurse explained to me that I would be under “conscious sedation” which was explained to me as “you won’t be able to move or speak and you won’t remember a thing.”  Uhhhhhh.  Nuh.  That does not sound right.  Everyone assured me it would be fine.  Going into the procedure, I was really trying to be brave, but I am a pansy.  The Dr. came in and asked me if I had any questions and I said “Uh, yes.  I’m concerned about this ‘conscious sedation’ stuff.  I’ve heard I won’t be able to move or speak, but I’ve heard nothing about not feeling it, and all I can think of is that Metallica video.”  He laughed.  I was glad he got the reference.  He assured me I would be “out” and wouldn’t feel a thing.

Long story short, he was right.  Next thing I knew, I was waking up.  Had a little bit of mild cramping, but totally livable.  I slept the whole rest of the day.

The Dr told me when I woke up that he retrieved 11 eggs.  I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with this number.  I’m embarrassed to say that because I know so many women who get less, but I’ve also seen women get numbers in the 20s and 30s.  And I just thought that because my ovaries were great and functioning normally and had nothing to do with our infertility, I would be in those high numbers.

Then the next morning my nurse called to tell me that out of the 11 eggs, only 6 had fertilized.  We still had 5 days to make it until the PDG testing, and I knew that with each day as well as with the testing, those numbers were pretty surely going to continue to go down.  They also told me that we wouldn’t have any more updates on the embryos until the day of our transfer, which seems kind of torturous.  Seems like a pretty shitty day to be getting bad news, if there is any.  I tried my best to keep my mind off of it, but who was I kidding?

Transfer Day!:

This day was pretty bittersweet.  I had my acupuncturist, who I love, there working with me.  She covered me in warm sheets and put a heating lamp on my feet and did her thing turning me into Hellraiser with her tiny needles.  She then massaged me and even stuck a few needles in my husband to relax him, too.  It was a great way to start off the day.  Then the Dr. came in.  I should mention that in one of our appointments with him last week, I told him very specifically that we did NOT want to know the gender of the embryos, we at least wanted that surprise.  He totally understood and he said he would put it in our notes to make sure no one “spills the beans.”  Imagine my dismay when the first thing he says when we walks in the room transfer day is “Well, I have some great news!  You have 2 healthy boy embryos!”  My heart fucking stopped.  Did he seriously just say that?  I looked at my husband who I could instantly tell was pissed as well and I just tried to smooth the situation.  I said, “It’s ok, it’s ok.  A boy!”  But my husband said to the doctor, “wait, so you are telling us the sex now?  We said we didn’t want that.”  The doctor looked embarrassed and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  But there was nothing that could be done about it now and I just had to focus on being happy and ok with it.

I do believe everything happens for a reason, though.  Since the boy cats were already out of the bag, I took a look at our PDG testing results.  Very interesting.  Only 5 embryos were tested so I guess 1 of the 6 didn’t make it to day five for testing.  But here’s the thing that struck me.  All 5 were male.  Half of my eggs didn’t fertilize, statistically that would about the amount of female sperm used to inseminate them.

It scares me that we may never be able to have a girl.  I am totally grateful for these 2 healthy boys, but having a girl at some point is also important to me.  I don’t even know if this is something we can test for, because I don’t know what it is.  I’m wondering if there is something genetic going on here that we don’t know about.  I don’t even know what questions to ask or who to ask them to.  I feel lost and I certainly don’t want to turn to Google and drive myself insane.

It was kind of a shame that there was kind of a dark cloud over such a happy day, but sometimes that is life.  We chose to implant 1 embryo and freeze the other.  It was a surreal experience.  I got to watch this little guy enter my body through the ultrasound.  He was in a little rice shaped vehicle that they use to transport them I guess.  A little rice rocket, if you will.  That made me super emotional.  I had been trying to hold in tears of sadness from the moment the dr came in with his “great news” but the second I saw that little spec enter my body, tears of joy came pouring out of me.

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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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Unshakably Happy

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So, I’m a Nichiren Buddhist, which is probably the best thing I have going for myself currently.  It’s really helping me not lose hope through this rough patch.  I’m sure people of all kinds of faith will understand that.  The organization SGI (Soka Gakkai International) is structured very much around the members and each individual experience.  We are encouraged to share our struggles and our triumphs with one another, strengthening each other’s faith and practice.  Nichiren Buddhism is not one for blind faith, really.  It’s more about challenging the practice, and learning from our results and the results of others.  THIS is how we grow our faith, by constantly seeing proof, and getting a better understanding of how and why it works.

Every month, each group has a discussion meeting.  There will be a specific topic that the group will delve into together, we will share our favorite quotes pertaining to the topic, read related articles, and share our thoughts and feelings on it.  But the real kind of meat and potatoes to these discussion meetings are the shared experiences by members.  Typically one member who has recently received an inspiring benefit, or has just made an exciting cause in their life working towards a major goal, will be asked to tell their story.  The human aspect of encouraging one another is massive.

I’ve been asked to speak at our meeting today.  I was asked months ago, and was really hoping to have something inspirational to talk about by now.  I was hoping my story would have turned around and I could talk about how I was coming out on the other side.  But that’s just not the case.

Our struggles are what shape us into better human beings.  And the goal of Buddhism is to be unshakably happy.  That means that your circumstances do not determine your happiness.  Circumstances will always change and shift, and if our happiness was dependent on them, that would mean our happiness would waver as well.  To be whole and complete and to find inner peace and happiness NO MATTER WHAT is what being a Buddha is all about.  The cool thing is that we are all Buddhas.  Whatever you believe in or whatever religion you practice, the key to your happiness is within you.  It’s YOURS.  You have the power to make great changes in your life, and the greatest thing you can do is have courage, and to make the determination to be unshakably happy no matter what challenges come your way.

I know I talk a lot in my blog about not giving in to the sadness that surrounds IVF.  It’s not that I’m suppressing my feelings, it’s that I am making the determination to focus on being happy instead.  It’s not easy, but it benefits me immensely.  When I feel sad, I allow myself to, but I try not to feed into it.  I respect my emotions, but I also realize that being happy is my choice.

Human suffering is something that every person on the planet shares.  People with small problems and people with big problems all experience suffering.  I’ve found that the people with only the seemingly small problems actually suffer just as much as the people with large problems.  Of course the people with large problems would love to trade with those that have small, superficial ones.  And that just proves that our situations are subjective.  If a person going through the loss of a child got to trade with someone whose biggest problem was worrying about making rent that month, they would feel light and free and HAPPY.  But that person who only lives in the realm of not knowing if they will make rent, suffers.  They are sad and consumed with worry and it most likely will effect other areas of their life.

I hope that makes sense.  And I also hope it does not come across as though I am making light of what any of us are going through.  I’m so happy to have found women to share stories with and a community of support.  I hope that we can also encourage one another to find real happiness through these challenging times.

I don’t have a happy conclusion to share at my meeting today, but I have the enlightened determination to face this challenge head on and win.  Let’s all be champions for ourselves.

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Questions for You IVF Pros! <3

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So the nurse sent me my tentative protocol and I’m having a hard time making heads or tails of it.  I’m wondering if some of you fine ladies might take a look at it for me and help me figure it out?  Does everything look pretty typical?  I was supposed to be traveling to visit my husband who’s gone for a month and a half but I’m assuming that will be a no go.  Were any of you able to travel during the process?  I would be back before my first blood draw and u/s.  

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Last Night

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to post about this.  I try as hard as I can not to throw a pity party for myself and mainly focus on finding humor in this situation, with a little side order of being pissed.  That’s typically the recipe I need for survival.  But last night I just broke and could not for the life of me get it together.

I don’t know if it’s the BCP finally kicking in or what.  I mentioned before that the last time I took them they made me insane in the membrane.  But I was more just not myself, not an emotional wreck.  So who knows, maybe I really did hit some sort of breaking point.  I’m feeling a little better today, and I knew I would.  Things are always colored differently by the light of day.  That’s why I didn’t write this last night.  But I was like a moment away from feathering all my hair and swooping it across my forehead, putting on massive amounts of eyeliner, turning on some hair touching band with a whiny dude singer, and writing my lament a’la Lydia Deets.

While I’m glad I didn’t do that, I was reminded last night about how reading other women’s stories made me feel less crazy and less alone.  I guess, according to every person that has ever tried to console me while I was crying, you’re supposed to remember how other people have it worse than you do.  That never worked for me, it only makes me sadder.  The only time anything like that ever works for me is when I am feeling sorry for myself when my husband is on tour, and I make myself remember families out there whose loved ones are in the military, putting themselves in harms way, and then I usually feel so stupid I just laugh at myself.  The most danger my husband is ever in is getting accidentally clipped by the tiny, sweaty elbow of some overzealous teenage stage diver.

But, no, thinking about how other people are sadder/worse off than I am does not tend to make me feel appreciation for what I have.  I feel even further down the hole, like sadness is insurmountable.  I can’t save those people, I can’t even save myself.  The world is a terrible place.

What set me off yesterday was the nurse at my appointment for my MMR vaccine.  No, she wasn’t a bitch.  I fucking WISH.  She was totally warm and sweet, and that is my kryptonite.  When I’m sad or upset, I can be pretty tough.  And when people are terrible to me, I can hold it together and defend myself and be strong, I have no problem with that.  But the second someone shows me real kindness, I turn into one of those tiny push button toys of a horse or giraffe that collapse when you press the bottom.  I crumble.

Of course one of the first things out of her mouth before giving me the shot was, “Any chance you are pregnant?”  I pressed my lips together, and even though I smiled politely as I said “no” it was like she was somehow able to see through it.  She didn’t say anything but smiled back warmly.  “Do you plan on being pregnant any time soon?”  Now I can feel the sensation of water pressure building up behind my face, but I was still holding it together, at least I thought so.  “No.”  Then she said the most terrible thing she could have said to me in that moment.  “Are you ok?”

She said it so sweetly, in the warmest voice, and there was nothing I could do about it at that point.  I cried.  Like ugly face cried.  Then she really went above an beyond, asking me questions and not taking “I’m ok” for an answer.  It took a little bit to get anything out of me because I didn’t want to burden her with it, or make her feel like she needed to continue to be sweet to me.  Like she would feel trapped and be sorry she asked if she really knew what was up.  But she was really wonderful, and talked to me for a good amount of time and offered to let me sit in the room with her until I felt better.

I never really recuperated from that yesterday.  As I was going about my day, I would look down at the band aid on my arm and it would all come back to me.  I even did my very best to focus on whatever I could that was shallow.  I turned on my go-to antidote for all things feelings, Bravo TV.  But none of my familiar beloved sociopathic housewives were available to hang out.  It didn’t matter, there was some show on about money grubbing realtors in Miami and I thought “perfect.”  Halfway through the episode, the sort of deadpan Jewish American Princess with the personality of a dial tone took her dog in for a teeth cleaning and it fucking DIED.  I lost it.  Why Bravo, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME!?

I turned off the TV, pulled it together, and tried to focus on something else.  I have been asked to speak at a meeting of the Buddhist organization I belong to this Sunday.  I wanted to work on what I was going to say. I was really hoping I would have something inspirational to share at this point, and I just don’t.  At that point balloons and confetti dropped from the ceiling and Lionel Richie played over the speakers, this pity party was in full swing.

I guess I try to fight it too much.  I don’t WANT to be sad about this.  And I know I shouldn’t be, things could be much, much worse.  But am I going to be am mom??  I seriously need to know.  Cool I have my health, and a great husband, and lots to be happy about.  But is it ok for me to actually admit I might trade every bit of that for a baby?  I mean, that’s kind of messed up, right? There’s something to feeling sad when you know you shouldn’t be.  It would be one thing if something horrendous had happened to me.  Then I could cry and grieve and let it all out.  I almost feel like I’m not allowed to be sad right now, but I am, so it’s really messing with me.  I don’t want to burden my husband, family or friends with it.  Everyone has their own stuff going on.  And honestly there’s really nothing they can say or do about it anyway.  So I cried.  Hard.  Like violently vomiting up sobs.  And my body oscillated  through numbness and then stabbing pain, and then numbness again, over and over.  But I think I just needed that.  I feel better today, I do.  I think I may have exorcised the demons, at least for right now.

 

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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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