Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Infertility Update: September 2016

Hi everyone! I know, I know... Long time, no blog. When I wrote my last post back in June, I had all intentions of writing a few other posts this summer, but time just got away from me! This summer was lots of fun, but busy! Two of my favorite ladies got married this summer: my best friend from high school, and my cousin. I got to be Matron of Honor in both weddings. Did I tell you that the weddings were two weeks apart? So I spent a chunk of my summer doing a whole lot of brides-maiding. Everyone knows that I love planning parties, meals, favors, etc. so while this kept me super busy, it was also really fun for me.

In addition to bridesmaiding, I finished up a summer class, we were guests at a couple of other weddings, took a long weekend trip to Hilton Head Island, and did a little boating with family and friends. So all in all, Lee and I have been busy, but we've had a really great summer together. I'm feeling extra thankful for all of the time we've gotten to spend with our friends and family. I do still have plans for a few other advice-focused blog posts, but I'll put those on the back burner for now, so I can update you all with what's going on.

Throughout this summer, we continued tracking my cycles using a method of Natural Family Planning, called the Creighton Model. I won't go into detail with that process, but if you want to read more about it, check out my blog post from earlier this summer. We gave this method a fair try, and although we learned a lot from it, we have not yet gotten pregnant using it. Our NFP doctor, who has now also become our family doctor suggested that we move forward. He offered to refer us to a more specialized NFP doctor in St. Louis, but we opted to go back to our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), aka our fertility doctor.

So, we made an appointment and met with our RE. He thought we needed to start with some testing, just to make sure nothing has changed since we last saw him. The tests we decided on were blood work to test hormone levels, vitamin levels, and a test for Celiac Disease. My doctor actually does not think I have Celiac Disease at all, but I really wanted this test done, so he obliged. A lot of people are now finding out that they are gluten intolerant, and I know a large majority of gluten allergies are still undiagnosed. I wanted to do some blood work to see if it is a possibility. Apparently blood work is just the beginning with that kind of testing, but it can be a good initial indicator. In addition to blood work, our doctor recommended an ultrasound and a biopsy.

So we got all of that scheduled, and actually I've done all of that testing at this point, but I'll save that whole experience for another post when I can tell you about the testing and the results all at once.

As long as the testing comes back okay, our RE recommends that we proceed with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Last year we did 6 IUIs with a plethora of medication, and none of them resulted in pregnancy. He really didn't think another IUI would be beneficial, and we agree.  So our plan is once we get the test results back, as long as everything appears to be ok to move forward, we could start an IVF cycle as early as with the start of my next menstrual cycle.

This has been a whirlwind for me. The day we had the appointment with our RE to tell him we were ready to try fertility treatments again, I pulled up to the office, and I just cried... In June of 2015 when we completed our 6th IUI, I never dreamed that 15 months later we would be coming back to this doctor with the same circumstances.

For those of you who have been following our blog for a while now, you already know that I have really struggled with whether or not IVF was the right choice for us. We had initially planned to do it last October once we got back from Mexico, but we just didn't feel called to take that step yet... and truthfully, I really wasn't 100% confident when we met with our fertility doctor again at the end of August.

For about a week after the appointment, I cried pretty much every day.... Is this the right choice for us? Are we sure we want to make this type of investment? Should we be seeking an adoption instead? Is this what God wants for us? Is this something that can bring God glory? So many thoughts running through my mind. So many decisions to make, too.

There are a lot of decisions to be made when agreeing to IVF, and depending on the outcome, we could be bound to IVF in the future as well. IVF is basically where I will take several different types of medication to prompt my ovaries to develop several mature eggs, then I will be put asleep and the doctor will retrieve those eggs. Me eggs will be combined with Lee's sperm in a lab, and will grow for a handful of days to become embryos. Then the embryos will be transferred back to my uterus in hopes of implanting and me becoming pregnant.

So if we have, for example, 5 embryos from our next cycle, we could choose to transfer 1 or 2 of them back into my uterus, and the remaining embryos would be frozen for future use. Obviously, if we only have 1 or 2 embryos that survive the 5ish day growth period, then we may not have any to use for future cycles... it all depends how things go with this first round, but even if we somehow get a miracle and are able to conceive on our own in the future, or decide to adopt and are blessed with a child that way, we still have these frozen embryos to use... so there are a lot of scenarios for us to think about and decide on.

With so many decisions on my mind, I was really struggling. In addition to all of the decisions for Lee and I to make, I was also stressing already about the medication. Last year when we did our IUIs, I really had a hard time. Infertility is tough on its own. Add in a ton of hormones, and it can be a hot mess. I just remember feeling so down and defeated after each failed IUI, and super stressed, anxious, and impatient at times, from the medication. I began to think of all of that and wonder if I'm ready for that emotional roller coaster again, and am I willing to accept the results if we try IVF and it fails.  I prayed about it a lot. When the time came for me to go in for my testing, that was a rough day physically, but I left feeling good about the talk I'd had with my doctor, and felt confident and excited to move forward. While the thought of the added hormones can be daunting, having an action plan, and working more aggressively towards achieving a pregnancy is exciting. So for now, we wait on test results and my next cycle to decide when and how we proceed, but the plan for now is to move forward with IVF.

If you want to pray for us, we would love for you to pray for guidance and for peace. Thanks to everyone who is still keeping up with reading my blog, especially during the down times when I don't have much news to share. I'll be sure to update you all in October with our test results, and tentative plan for moving forward.