Wednesday, September 10, 2014

IVF Update: Off to the Races

We promised updates, so updates you'll get. Welcome to baby makin' world for the next 3 weeks ;-)

We met with our doctor yesterday to finalize the plan. We knew big topic of discussion and the decision to be made would be if we were doing a fresh transfer (take the eggs, fertilize them, and put them back 5 days later) or if we would freeze them all and do a frozen embryo transfer after 9 weeks of meds. I was anxious. Our clinic does almost ALL frozen cycles now and has great success with them. But in my heart of hearts, I feel my body does best with a fresh cycle. I was nervous the doctor wouldn't agree and that we would be forced to do a frozen - something that takes more time and isn't in my heart what I feel is best. He started the conversation, "what do I need to say to convince you not to do a fresh?" I gulped. I explained my position - even conceded that frozen transfers at his clinic have higher success rates. But I told him I just felt for me, based on our past successes and failures, a fresh was what my body needed. The conversation went on for a long while. But in the end, he said, "you know, this isn't actually a terrible plan. It's not the craziest thing you've brought me." Ha! I love our doctor. He will give you his opinion, but usually lets it fall back onto the patient. He also knows that Ronnie and I are informed, rational (well Ronnie is) people. So he allows us to help make decisions. In the end it was decided that we would do a fresh transfer as long as I am not showing any serious warning signs of severe OHSS being possible. OHSS is really the only (scary) side effect of IVF where you are so overstimulated that your ovaries leak fluids into your abdomen and chest cavity. The fluids settle all over in your body. It's uncomfortable and can (in really rare cases) lead to hospitalization and in even rarer cases death. I have had mild-moderate OHSS with each retrieval. It's not ideal, but there are worst things. I am not really worried about OHSS, but he, of course, needs to be. So as long as I am looking good, we are a go for a fresh transfer.

What does that mean? It means this could be a short process!!! YIPPEE!

I started meds around lunchtime yesterday. We had to wait for Aunt Flo to visit, she showed up, and we were off to the races. We started our first dose of Human Growth Hormone (no, I'm not 'roiding up for a body building competition! Ha!). We will stay on HGH for a first several days of the cycle. On cycle day 3, I start my two stim medications to grow tons of eggs - 4 amps of HMG in the morning and 4 amps of FSH in the evening. When my biggest follicle reaches 12mm, we will start Antigon (to keep me from ovulating on my own). Somewhere between cycle day 9 and 13, we will trigger with HCG to make me ovulate, and 36 hours later, they will take all my eggs.

The day before my egg retrieval, Ronnie will go in for a sperm aspiration...OUCH. We have frozen sperm left, but they feel fresh is always better, and my loving, dear, willing husband is happy to go in and have them take a fresh sample.

They will combine our baby batter the day they take my eggs and 5 days later we will put 2 back.

Because we have had 2 miscarriages at this point, in addition to being on progesterone post retrieval through 8-10 weeks (like most women are with IVF), I will also be on Heparin and low dose prednisone, in the hopes to preventing another miscarriage.

So there you have it. The full scoop up to this point. Our first scan will be Monday to see how my eggs are developing. We will keep you posted.

Prayer Requests
- Thank God for a perfect appointment with our doctor and a good ultrasound to make sure I was ready to start meds.
- Ask that my body responds well to the meds - making healthy, high-quality eggs, that will make healthy, high-quality embryos.
- Ask that God provides exactly the number of embryos that He wants our family to have.

We cannot thank everyone enough for the support we have received after yesterday's blog. We are so thankful for this community and the love and support you show our family. God is always good and He will provide!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

IVF Prayer Requests

We haven't blogged about our journey to grow our family in awhile, so it's about time. As I said in our last post regarding our most recent miscarriage, we would keep you up to date, and well, I have slacked a little because there wasn't much going on to report. But now I write and with prayer requests!

I always said once we used through the frozen embryos we had, that would be it, we'd move on to something else. But our last two embryos didn't "stick" and the night we found that out, God presented an option to use two donated embryos. The door was open and so were our hearts, so we did the 9 weeks of medications, and did the transfer. Throughout that cycle I reverted back to my old thought process that if this one didn't work, I was done. I couldn't do it anymore. It was a lot on my body. It was a lot on our every sense, mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. We found out we were pregnant and within a week found out we had lost the pregnancy. It was hard. God revealed to us that we needed a bit of a break and that it was time to stop saying "we will do foster care once our family was complete." It became clear that we needed to follow His will in that area, even if it wasn't at a time we thought was "perfect", maybe especially because it wasn't a time that was our version of perfect. So we started the process to get licensed to foster, something that has always been on our hearts. We are currently in the throws of that process (currently taking the 10 weeks of required classes and almost have the house all ready for inspection).

...but we are also in the process of trying for another biological child. As we moved forward with the foster licensing, I just felt in my heart I wasn't ready to give up on carrying another child. I felt like us not trying again was me quitting because I was frustrated and tired, but not because that was what was right for our family. We met with our IVF doctor and he said something that hit me, "the easy part of my job is getting someone pregnant; the hard part is keeping a patient in the game long enough." He wasn't actually saying that getting me pregnant would be easy, but he was saying you have to play the odds sometimes. Sometimes it isn't easy, but if you stay in it long enough, you will get there. We have decided to go all the way back to the beginning. To take eggs and sperm and make more embryos. It seems a bit daunting, but we know in our hearts this is what is best for our family.

The last several cycles we have gone through "alone," in that, we haven't blogged them. We told a couple friends and a few family members, but we didn't want to burden others with the saga of it all, and honestly, we wanted to be able to surprise friends and family. But failed cycle after failed cycle, God began to reveal something to me. I have racked my brain reflecting on what was different with Mckenna verses our other cycles. I have tried to model that cycle when possible. But God kept putting it on my heart that the biggest difference, and maybe the only difference that matters, was prayer. With Mckenna, we blogged everything and everyone praying with us. The other cycles, our prayers went up alone. We believe whole-heartedly in the power of prayer, and so we will be blogging this cycle, and asking (read: begging) for you to join us in prayer.

We are doing two weeks of meds (which is the shortest protocol we've ever done..HUGE BLESSING!!!) before they go in and retrieve eggs. We start the meds cycle day one (men: cover your ears...that means whenever my period starts), which will be any day now. We meet with our doctor this morning to finalize the plan. Then it's showtime. We will post specific prayer requests over the next couple weeks, please join us in raising this process up...after all, doctors don't make babies, God makes babies!

Prayer Requests
- Today's appointment goes well, and we make the right decisions about the cycle
- My body responds well to the meds, and we get a lot of high quality eggs, sperm and embryos
- We are pregnant by the end of the year...sometimes you just gotta make the ask ;-)
- God blesses our family abundantly with lots and lots of babies through IVF and foster care!

Monday, September 8, 2014

We're alive...and tanner!

Believe it or not, Team Sharpe is alive and well. We went on a little family getaway, and well, we left the blog behind.

My parents, Uncle Brad, my brother and sister-in-law, Ronnie, Mckenna and I all went to Maui for a fun-filled family trip. I have to say, I think it was one of my favorite family trips of all time. It was full of quality time together, amazing sunsets, ocean views, and massive amounts of food.

Mornings included a run with amazing views, but lots of hills; time by the pool or at the beach; and some kind of adventure. Afternoons were spent napping; time by the pool or at the beach; and dinner together. We did some fun half day trips to a blow hole, zip lining, fishing, and paddle boarding.

The thing I like best about family vacations is that it gives us the opportunity to spend time with my family that is uninterrupted by real life. We all live in the same town and see each other every week, but a few hours here and there just isn't the same as living under the same roof for a week. I am so thankful for a family who actually enjoys time together and for the opportunity to reconnect on a different level a couple times a year.

My favorite things from this trip were time spent with Ronnie and Mckenna in the pool and on the beach, running in the mornings with my mom or dad, and snuggling with Mckenna in bed at night (something we don't do at home, but on vacation can explain away to keep it from becoming a habit). And most of all, my favorite memory above all others was sitting on the porch in the mornings, watching the dawn turn into day, listening to the ocean, and one by one having family members wake up and join Mckenna and I on the porch.

Here's a little photo recap!