Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Story 2013

Read the first part of the story here.


We got through the holidays and decided we were going to give this one more try. We were going to start over with the full IVF again. The injections, pills, patches, dr visits, acupuncture, egg retrieval, bed rest, everything.

Before we could get to that I started feeling some pain in January. My left ovary just HURT. I went to Dr H for my monitoring and found out I had an almost 5cm cyst on my ovary. It was huge, larger than a golf ball. I had to get on birth control to shrink it down for a month before we could continue with treatments. This was discouraging to me because it proved once again that my body just isn’t right. I have 18-25 cysts surrounding each ovary on any normal day, it’s ridiculous, my ovaries look like honeycombs in the ultrasounds. When we were trying to get pregnant in 2010 I had several issues with this and ended up having a cyst aspiration on several of them at one point. I have no idea why this one particular cyst got so large but it did. Once that was calmed down we started the treatments for attempt #3 at baby #2. I started ALL the medicines, which is a LOT, and went in for my regular by-weekly monitoring. Every visit took longer and longer to count the follicles (where the eggs are) because I reacted so quickly to the meds. Dr H minimized my dosages (this time one of the medications I was on was the minimal amount of Menopur, and in 2010 I was on quadruple doses of Menopur if that tells you anything) and he ended up cutting several days off the schedule because I reacted much more than expected. Each scan took forever and I timed the last one, it took 15 minutes to count the 33 mature follicles that I had, they were everywhere! The ultrasound tech said there were just layers of them everywhere she looked. THIRTY THREE. I was in PAIN. Every single bump in the road I felt. When I would sit down in a chair too quickly I could feel my ovaries. I could feel them when I was sitting.  It was miserable. But I knew the outcome and I knew it was all worth it. Three days before the embryo transfer I went in for the egg retrieval. For anyone who has ever had this, I feel for you. For those that only have a few eggs, I’ve heard it’s not that bad, just some cramping. Some people can even go back to work the next day. That is not my case.

Here we are bright and early waiting to go back to the pre-op room for the retrieval!

Almost time!  Still smiling at this point.

With 33 eggs retrieved I was in a ridiculous amount of pain afterwards and even more so since they also aspirated some of the other follicles because they weren’t mature enough. I woke up from the anesthesia and instantly had tears rolling down my face. They gave me some extra pain meds in the IV and then once we got home I took pain meds for about two days (I also got the cervical stitch in while I was on anesthesia so luckily I didn’t have to deal with that separately). I lay on the couch soon after we got home and tears just kept coming but I wasn’t crying, I was just in a LOT of pain and couldn’t stop the tears. I remember looking at Austin and saying “I can NEVER do this again. Ever.” In all of the times we’ve gone through these infertility struggles I’ve never said that, it was just that bad. I had finally reached my limit. So, we anxiously awaited the news of the fertilization. Dr H called the next day and said that 12 of the embryos had fertilized! We were so happy because we knew, this is it. We showed up on March 4th ready to go for the embryo transfer. We were doing something new with the transfer this time and using embryo glue (we were also planning on using it for the December transfer but that never happened). The embryo glue increases your odds of the embryos surviving because they stay put in your uterus. Dr H walked in after I was prepped for the transfer to talk about which embryos we would transfer. It didn’t look great. The quality of the embryos was good and there was 0% fragmentation around the embryos which was fantastic but they just weren’t growing quite as quickly as he would like. We transferred a 4 and 5 cell embryo, for a three day transfer they prefer the cells to be more like 8-9 cells. But we went ahead with the transfer and I went home for bed rest.

My bed rest dinner buddies. 

This girl is so silly and it was so hard to stay in bed while she ran around the house.

I never had a great feeling about it just because the excitement that had been there for my other two transfers wasn’t there. I don’t know if Dr H was just tired because I was 7am on a Monday or if he just didn’t want to get my hopes up but I never had a good feeling about it, something was different. A few days later Dr H called to tell me the news that all but two of my embryos didn’t survive. Out of the 33 eggs that were retrieved and the 12 that were fertilized from that, we only had TWO frozen. This made the waiting time even more stressful. So, we waited the usual time and on March 15th I went in at 8am for the blood draw. At 2:30pm as I was walking out of my office building because I just couldn’t sit there anymore, Dr H called with the news I was dreading. I was not pregnant. Again. I could barely breathe, I remember having to gasp for air just to make it to my car. He talked so quickly, I could tell he was upset calling with this news and I just wanted to get off the phone so I wouldn’t completely lose it while listening to him try to explain the unexplainable. He wanted Austin and me to come and talk with him when we were ready about our next step and to explain the report. I was devastated. Since I never had a good feeling about this transfer so I should have been more prepared but there really is no way to prepare yourself for that kind of heartbreak. Even if you think bad news is coming you can never be fully prepared for the feelings that go along with it. Not only were we not pregnant but we barely had anything left and given our history of embryos not surviving I knew our odds were not good.

This is a good point to say what amazing family and friends I have. The ones who knew what was going on day to day are there right along with me when it comes to the disappointment and heartbreak. When I call or text the news to them I can tell how much they care. Whether they send flowers or just say how sorry they are in a text it all means a lot. It really is times like these that show you who your friends are and I have some great ones.

We took a few weeks off after the bad news and then revisited Dr H for the follow up. Basically it came down to the poor quality eggs from my severe PCOS. He talked about possibly using an egg donor if we moved forward with another full IVF cycle but I completely dismissed that talk at the time. I couldn’t even think that this wasn’t going to happen for us with our own DNA. We knew we have two frozen embryos left and we’re going to pray as much as we can that they survive the thaw because that will be our last chance.

The reason this is most likely our last chance is something I haven’t mentioned yet that is probably our biggest difference from 2010 when we went through this for Hannah and now is my insurance. It doesn’t exist this time around for fertility coverage. Every single dime spent on the treatments has come out of our pockets. I don’t have copays because insurance doesn’t matter; I pay the full price for every blood test, every follicle scan, and every procedure. Things you normally don’t think about, like the cost of the anesthesiologist I now think about because I know exactly what he charges for his services since I paid him. I now know how much it costs to get your blood drawn because I pay that every time. I won’t go into the exact cost but let me just say, it's probably more than you would guess and it’s worth every single penny if it works. Until you don’t have the money anymore, then it all changes. And we don’t have it anymore. Therefore this next chance is the big one and most likely the last one. Unless we win the lottery we probably will never do this again. I’ve looked tirelessly into fertility grants and clinical trials and nothing has worked out. This is one reason that infertility awareness is so important. In my case, I have a disease, it is painful and it doesn’t go away. It’s something that I think surfaced when I was about 16 and was masked with medication (which is the best way to treat it) until we were ready to have a baby. When we went back to Dr H for the first time after Hannah was born I was told I didn’t have insurance covered. Say what?!?! I said I have to because I still work for the same company, same insurance plan, nothing has changed, etc. Yeah….not the case. After going through this with my company’s benefits people and the insurance company over and over I finally got an answer. I was “cured”. Well, that's news to me but my insurance company said I was cured! Hallelujah, why didn’t anyone tell me this?! They said they covered the “initial diagnosis” and as soon as I gave birth to Hannah I was “cured”. If this is being cured then I definitely don’t want to know what isn’t. Believe me, I fought it and finally had to give up because it wasn’t going to change. So, that’s that and unfortunately now we pay for everything ourselves. We still hadn’t fully recovered from the financial strain getting pregnant with Hannah cost us and we were now starting over with a much larger price to pay. But it is what it is and you do what you have to do to make your dreams come true.

So, in the conversation with Dr H he mentioned a few things. He mentioned the egg donor possibility in the future would be our best bet if this didn’t work out and he also mentioned Hannah. He told me how once she is older I will need to watch out for the signs of her getting PCOS. I have it so badly that she easily could have inherited it. It broke my heart to think she may be facing the same struggles I have. But that’s in the future and there is nothing we can do about that now, I can’t deal with the guilt of it because it’s out of my control, I just never thought that I could pass this on to my daughter. I can only pray that she never has to go through any of this in her life.

While talking to Dr H we also decided to have another hysteroscopy because it had been six months since the last one and some of the scar tissue or polyps could be back and we really needed everything to be perfect for the two remaining embryos. Two days later on April 17th I was back in the operating room knocked out for the procedure. When I woke up Austin told me that Dr H said I had some thick tissue that was removed and would be biopsied but other than that, it went well. I was under longer than expected because of that but everything was looking good and I felt fine. About a week later I returned to Dr H’s office to get the results, and honestly I wasn’t expecting to hear anything new. Wrong again. Dr H was even surprised by the biopsy report this time. The pathologist wrote “Worrisome simple hyperplasia. Needs to be monitored closely”. Hyper what?? Worrisome? Well, I personally don’t like the word “worrisome” on a medical report! Dr H explained that it was from high levels of estrogen that made the endometrial wall of the uterine lining thick and there are two kinds, simple and complex. Simple hyperplasia is something that needs to be monitored and treated but if I show up with complex hyperplasia then I will have to stop all fertility treatments and fix that before continuing because complex hyperplasia can cause uterine cancer. ARE YOU SERIOUS!?! So many thoughts were running through my head while I was listening to Dr H in his office but one of the main ones was laughter. I really just wanted to laugh. Of course I have hyperplasia! I mean, why wouldn’t I?! It’s ridiculous. Dr H said that pregnancy will actually be the best thing to treat it temporarily but after I deliver my next baby I will need to come back to him for another biopsy and treat it. I made a decision right then and there what was going to happen once my next baby is born and after talking to Austin and him agreeing with me, we now have a plan. I am a BIG believer in “everything happens for a reason”. I think God gives you challenges for a specific reason and even when it seems impossible to see the reason at the time, there is one. When I told Tracy about the hyperplasia she said that maybe I got PCOS to save me from having cancer. Maybe that’s true or maybe not, we’ll never really know. But I’ve decided that this hyperplasia nonsense isn’t going to slow me down and I’m not going to live with it so God willing I get to have another baby, it will be my last.

So, that brings us to today. We are currently at attempt #4 for baby #2. With the FET we will be doing the embryo glue as well as assisted hatching this time which hopefully will increase the odds of the embryos surviving and growing. All we can do is pray that the embryos will survive the thaw and will continue to grow in my uterus and we will have a healthy baby in the next year.

This has most definitely gone in a different direction than we initially thought when we started this journey again last year. I never in a million years thought that this wouldn’t work. When we finally got pregnant with Hannah we knew that she was a miracle. Now with the information we have, it’s proof that she is truly even more of a miracle than we ever thought before. People will say to me “well thank God you have Hannah”. Yes, we do thank God we have Hannah but that doesn’t make this any easier. In some ways I think it makes it harder. Sometimes I look at her with her cousins or see how much she loves other people's babies and it breaks my heart to think she may not get that. She may be an only child which is something I never imagined. I can’t imagine my life without my sister and that’s all I want for her, I want her to have a little partner in crime and a best friend at all times. I want her to know the bond that siblings have with each other and I want her to have someone to complain about Mom and Dad to and they will totally understand. I just pray that happens.

So, that is our story. It’s not over and hopefully a new chapter is just beginning. There are parts that I left out just for privacy reasons but if anyone has any questions for me please send me an email and I will answer anything.


Chani said...

Oh Kelly, you have me in tears. Miracles do happen, and nothing is impossible. I'm so sad you've had to go through SO much. That's just unfair in so many ways. I'll be praying for your health and of course, the little embryos, and that a beautiful baby is your blessing after all you have been through. All my love, sweet girl.

Ivy said...

Sweet Townsend Family, I'm so glad you shared your story. I'm so very sorry you are going through this. I will be joining you in prayer that this cycle brings you a healthy baby sibling for precious Hannah.

etphonehome21 said...

Tears are streaming down my face. We have been praying for you and Cindy has given us updates, but I had no idea everything you and Austin have been through. You are both SO strong. LOVE Y'ALL!

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story so openly. I think of you often and pray that you are able to grow your family just as you want. I have a good feeling about this FET!! Hang in there girl!

Anu Jesse said...

Kelly, I am praying for you. I hovered over to your blog from from Kelly's Korner. Hannah is such a sweet pretty child. God bless your entire family and the sweet miracle baby.