Tuesday, March 29, 2011

pain in the neck

Earlier this month, I started having major neck issues. Keep in mind, I have RA so I have crappy joints to begin with, so I always have aches and pains. But shortly after coming back from Arizona, I started having serious neck and shoulder pain. I was in pain and uncomfortable all the time, and it was hard to focus on anything unless I was laying down.

After about a week of the discomfort, and once I started experiencing weakness and tingling down my left arm, I finally went to see a doctor. I just went to a family medicine guy at the clinic, nothing special. He gave me some exercises and ordered x-rays. He mentioned that if the x-rays were okay, he might recommend an MRI.

I did the x-rays the same day, and the next day the nurse called saying everything was normal. I asked about the MRI, and the nurse said the doctor had noted to call back in a week if I was still experiencing pain.

I was put off. Not only was I struggling to deal with the pain, it was interefering with daily activity AND I was in the midst of IVF stims. I didn't want to risk going into my ER & ET without addressing the issue, especially because of my experience with cycling during an RA flare last summer. (Long story short, it didn't work possibly because of the flare.)

The next day, I called back and said I wanted to do the MRI now. I told the nurse there was no improvement and tried to express the urgency without having to detail my whole IVF/IF story. She talked to the doctor and an order was put in for MRI.

Now call me naive, but I guess I didn't know what an MRI was. I mean, I knew what it was, but didn't realize quite how small that tube is that they put you in. I went in for my MRI the following Wednesday, and promptly freaked out as soon as I was moved into the tube. I walked out, tail between my legs and in tears, without completing the MRI.

**Side bar: Part of why I got so emotional following the MRI attempt, aside from the hormones and urgency of beating the clock on my IVF retrival, was because Noah had an MRV (basically an MRI for the ventricals in the brain) about a year and a half ago. I remember thinking he had to be scared during the test. He wailed and reached for me. I stayed calm, but kept thinking "I'd be so claustraphobic, how must he feel?" SO flash forward to my experience, and I had a sudden wave of guilt for putting Noah in that position. I hate mother's guilt.

Anyways, after my freak-out, I talked to several friends and co-workers and all suggested an Open MRI. Again, naive. Didn't know there was such a thing, so I called the medical group, and they confirmed they didn't have one. So I googled, and found one near my office. I got an appt for that Friday. The day before my retrival.

I survived the open MRI, and was told I'd have results within 24 hours.

So the weekend came and went, and on Monday, the day before my transfer, I still hadn't heard anything. I called the doctor. They hadn't received the results. WHAT?! I called the MRI place, they called the doctor, the doctor called me...

Diagnosis is bulging discs between C5 & C6 and C6 & C7. I had previously self diagnosed (thanks Google) with a C5/C6 problem, because of the location of the pain, weakness, and tingling. I see the orthopedic doctor tomorrow, and I am hoping that all I need is some PT to resolve the issue, and that surgery isn't needed. Especially since I'm PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) with my triplet embryos. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

IVF again

So I'm pregnant. Hahahaha! Well, pregnant until proven otherwise. This is my mindset. It's going to help get me through the grueling 2WW. I remember that after my transfer with Noah, I would pound the mantra "This will work" into my own head everyday, and I truly believe that optimism and positivity helped that lone embryo to sick. But let me go back...

Last week it seemed like things were coming a long. There were a lot of follicles, and I hoped that would equal a lot of mature eggs. I got the call on Thursday that egg retrieval (ER) would be that Saturday the 19th at 9am. We went to the FCI River North office Saturday morning, and like riding a bike, I was calm about the process and the procedure, but what raced through my mind was "this is it". I knew that this could potentially be my last chance at having a baby of my own.

If you've never had to feel the ache of infertility, you are more fortunate than you know. There is something to be said about the natural desire to have ones own child. A child that is like me, looks like me, looks like Noah. I stared at the ceiling thinking about all the possibilities. What if there are no eggs? What if we get some to freeze? What if there's only a few? What if I don't get pregnant?

The ER went smoothly, as always. It's a pretty simple easy procedure. It's done under general anesthesia and takes no more than 15 minutes. They basically aspirate the eggs from the ovaries by inserting a needle vaginally, going through the vaginal wall and extracting the eggs directly from the follicles. It's really pretty incredible if you think about it.

During the retrival, they collected six eggs and drained a cyst. Not going to lie, I was disappointed. Six was not the number I'd hoped for.

The next day, I got a phone call with the fertilization report. Of the six eggs, only three were mature. They were all fertilized with ICSI (intracytoplasmic semen injection - basically they pick the best sperm and inject it directly into the egg), and all were growing well. They were growing, but again, I was disappointed. Three embryos meant this would be my final transfer. All I could was hope they all made it to transfer...

The next day, I got the call that we were scheduled for a day 3 embryo transfer (ET) the next day, Tuesday the 22nd. I asked how the embryos were growing, and she said they were all growing well.

Tuesday we went back to the FCI River North office, and blasted Chicago rush hour, we were a half hour late. Fortunately, they always tell you to be there an hour before your procedure is scheduled, so it wasn't a huge deal. And again, old hat. Been there, done that, but again, the nervous, staring at the ceiling thoughts came back.... I couldn't help but think about the possibilities.

The embryologist (who I think has an amazing job, by the way) came in and discussed our embryos. She told us they were all 8-cell (which is ideal for a day 3 ET) and looked great. For the embryologist to tell us they looked great meant a huge deal to me. She knows what she's talking about, and while maybe she says that to everyone (I doubt it), it was what I needed to hear.

Dr. Uhler did my ET this time. It's a really incredible thing to see, but even cooler was that now FCI lets you see your embryos before transfer! The embryologist put the petri dish until the microscope and there were my embryos on the computer screen. Oh how I wish I had a picture of that image! It's so surreal! That was Noah once upon a time. That was all of us really, and while an 8-cell embryo does not to me equal human child, it represents the start of something incredible. I think that was the icing on the cake. That's the picture in my mind that I'm holding onto, hoping for the best outcome.

We transferred all three beauties, and later, Ben and I discussed the possibility of twins or triplets. Or sextuplets if they all were to split, god help us. But really, we'll handle whatever we get, just as long as it means bringing home a baby.

So cross your fingers and toes, and hold your breathe! Here goes nothing!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

onozona (Noah speak for Arizona)

Finally a non-Noah/IVF centered blog entry!!!!! Let's talk about vacation, baby!

About two weeks ago, we went on our almost-annual Arizona trip. It was so lovely to be back. It always feels like a 2nd home. Everything is so familiar. I think I determined that we've only missed two years (the year we went to Acapulco for spring break and the year we got married) since we started going in ... 1999!

Every year we stay with our dear friends Amanda and Robert. Amanda is one of my dearest friends. I most often refer to her as my college roommate, though we never actually "roomed" together. We shared an apartment for a year, but besides that she was my (band) sorority big sister and best friend at ISU. We helped each other through some difficult times and had some AMAZING times too. So needless to say, every opportunity to spend time together is welcomed.

Anyways, Noah had the time of his life. Amanda's daughter Laine is about 3.5mo younger than Noah, and they were *in love* with each other. They had so much fun playing together and chasing each other around. The best was when they would kiss. Ah, young love! Noah would lean in and Laine would grab his cheeks to pull him in. So sweet! And Amanda's step-son Isaac who is 11 (i think?) was so good with Noah. Noah would go to Isaac and ask "backsetball?" and Isaac would shoot baskets while Noah watched and chased the ball. There was a lot of silliness and wrestling with those two.

One morning, we went out to breakfast and then hit the local farmers market. The kids really enjoyed the going on the horse drawn wagon and Noah especially liked the petting zoo and dancing to the woman playing guitar.

We went to the first two Cubs spring training games of the year. Spring training is always a treat, as we are huge baseball fans, and Noah is becoming very interested in the sport too. The first game we sat in the outfield lawn, which was actually great for Noah, because he had room to move. Fortunately all the people sitting near us were kind and tolerant, because I can't tell you how many got nailed with Noah's pitches... The Cubs lost both games and the weather was on the chilly side (for AZ), but we didn't care. It was just nice to be enjoying some spring baseball.

We also went to Marley Farms petting zoo, which was literally around the corner from Amanda & Roberts' house. It was a fun, cheap way to spend the day. Noah had free reign and we basically just followed him around as he wandered through the barn, past the goats, back through the barn.... you get the point. We probably spent and hour and a half there, petting and feeding the animals, including a huge camel and the first zonkey (zebra/donkey hybrid) I've ever seen.

We went to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. Noah and I went when we went to AZ without Ben in December 2009, and I told Ben I wanted to go back because Noah liked it so much back then. I don't think Ben realized how cool it actually was until he saw it for himself. Between the train ride, the model trains, the pullman cars, the catosel (or mairty go round), the park, and ice cream, I think both the boys had a great day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


the ivf process is complicated. it's exhausting. it's stressful. it pulls you in different directions. i've generally been okay, but my poor tummy is so bruised, my emotions are all over with the damn hormones, and the frequent doctors appointments are time consuming.

we're getting close to retrieval. i'm trying not to think too much about it. i'm trying to stay positive and hopeful. really at this point, what else can i do? i've stopping drinking caffeine and alcohol, i'm doing acupuncture, i'm trying to stay peaceful but focused.

while i was in the office this morning for the routine of bloodwork and ultrasound to monitor my hormone levels and how my eggs are growing, i had a strange experience. i was in the waiting room with several other women waiting for bloodwork, and a women walked in pushing a stroller.

now this is hard to truly understand if you've never experienced infertility. i remember before i had noah, the bitterness i had toward those women. they had the audacity to bring their child to the fertility clinic!? it was the same feeling i would get anytime i'd see a pregnant woman or new baby. sort of a weight in the bottom of your stomach. a heavy ache. a pain that is hard to explain without experiencing it for yourself.

well when that woman walked in the waiting room today, i didn't quite feel that ache, but it felt weird and awkward. you see, i am still so cognizant of how women might look at me with a small child. how they might be bitter toward me or jealous of my luck to be able to have a child.

my world has been shaken this past year, and i truly have a better appreciation for my noah, and all the children in my life. i think those who've walked with me this past year have felt a change in perspective too, and while i think i was feeling anguish for the other women in that room, i was also still feeling it for stacy. i think of how she would feel if she were one of the people in that room, and it reminds me to never take my baby or my good fortune for granted.