Eggs Out, Embryos In, IVF Waiting Game Begins
Christine had two embryos implanted inside of her today
Since I last updated you on our IVF/ICSI process one week ago, so much has happened that was both unexpected and critical in this process that Christine and I have embarked upon to have a baby. THANK YOU to everyone who has been praying for us and supporting our efforts over these past few weeks as we've gone through this emotional and physical challenge. Knowing that so many people are thinking about us and rooting us on in this whirlwind journey has been very comforting.
Last week as she began taking the follicle stimulation shots, Christine's ovaries got bigger and bigger as those follicles, which hold the eggs, grew as well. Virtually going to the doctor for a vaginal ultrasound every single day to make sure they were growing properly, it led to the big day of retrieval on Thursday morning.
The long shots began for Christine this week when she had the hCG shot with an intramuscular needle on Tuesday night preparing for the egg retrieval and then the Progesterone hormone shots began on Friday morning. We had a friend from our church who has experience giving shots administer the hCG shot and she did awesome. But then on my first attempt to duplicate that same motion, I made Christine jump through the roof! EEEEK!
I already cringe just at the sight of a needle, but it makes it worse when you know you're causing pain to someone you love. Instead of trying to jab her, I decided the slow and steady approach would be best. And other than that initial pinch of the needle going in, Christine said it's not so bad. The hormone has to be in an oil-based form which makes it that much more difficult to get it inside of her. And she's got about two more weeks worth of this, too. I'm in such awe that she's willing to put herself through this just to have our baby. WOW!
We were anxiously awaiting how many eggs Christine produced and were very pleased when our reproductive endocrinologist said we had eight eggs after her surgery on Thursday morning. Christine was a little upset by this in the moments after the surgery, especially when she heard the 20-something woman on the other side of the curtain tell her husband that she got 27 eggs! Sheez, rub it in, why don't ya?! :)
But I assured Christine that eight is a good total number and we'll just see what happens from here. Well, out of those eight total eggs, six of them were viable for doing the ICSI process of placing the sperm in the center to see if they will fertilize. Because of my low quality sperm count, this was the only way we would even have a chance at making a baby together. And we were hopeful for the best!
On Friday, Christine got a call from the doctor midday while I was at the gym working out and he gave us the somewhat grim news--out of the six embryos, four didn't fertilize and were rendered useless while two of them fertilized. Because there were so few embryos that survived, the doctor moved up the transfer of the embryos inside of Christine to this morning (it was supposed to be Sunday morning at the earliest for a 3-day transfer and Tuesday at the latest for a 5-day transfer). But the thinking is Christine's womb is the best place for the embryos to continue to grow if they are going to. And so that's where they are right now.
In fact, that picture at the top of this blog post is of our two little ones that we hope will be growing inside of Christine real soon. The top one you'll notice has not split yet which makes it a Grade 4 embryo and less likely statistically to become a baby, but the bottom one has already split which makes it a Grade 2 embryo and fairly likely it will do what it has to do to grow and make Christine pregnant.
At this point, it is the waiting game. All of these shots, drugs, doctor visits, poking, prodding, and the like has led up to this moment--and we've got 12 days to think about it. Of course, we're already prepared if things don't work out like we hope. But we're staying positive knowing that God is in control and can make it happen in His will for our lives. He knows we want kids, but we're leaving it in His hands now and trusting in what will happen.
Although the money we are spending to do this has been a bit harrowing, we know the financial sacrifice will be worth it either way because of the peace of mind we will have. And ever since we announced our "Beads Of Hope" fundraiser recently, the response has been incredible. In fact, Christine wanted me to share with you a necklace, watch and earring set she made for a reader named Deborah.
Check it out:
Speaking of the bead jewelry, one of my readers suggested Christine make something we hadn't thought of. Here's what she wrote in an e-mail:
I ready Jimmy's blog about your beading business, and I wanted you to know I'm wishing you success in the business and sending prayers for your IVF journey. I was looking at the samples of your work, and I think what I'm looking at are the watch bands, the pieces with a "hooking" clasp on both ends: I wanted to tell you those make fantastic Medic Alert bracelets. I've bought them in Cracker Barrel and Hallmark stores, and hooked the ends onto my Diabetes medallion. They turn a sterile-looking metal item into a fashion statement. All the best to you and Jimmy!
WOW, what a GREAT idea! So now you have that option for Christine to make as well to add to any orders you place with us. THANK YOU to this reader who made such an excellent suggestion.
She's so thrilled to take something she loves like bead jewelry-making and be able to bring in some extra income to help us pay for this. We will be continuing this fundraiser well beyond Christmas, so feel free to place an order anytime by sending an e-mail to Christine at email@example.com. Let her know your name, mailing address, what you would like to order, the color scheme of the jewelry, the sizes, and the quantities of each piece. Special thanks to everyone who has placed an order already, sent us beading materials, and even mailed donations to us because you care about us and want to help us as we continue on with this IVF cycle.
Christine preparing for the embryo transfer
That pretty little lady right there is my hero. She has literally put herself through so much over this past month and I can never tell her how much I love her for her selflessness through this entire process. We've become closer through this journey which is probably rare compared to the norm. But I think we've prepared ourselves for whatever happens so our marriage will remain rock solid whether she gets pregnant or not. The thoughts and prayers of those who love us has helped.
The next big date for us is Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 8:00am. That's the day we go back to the doctor for a blood pregnancy test. In the meantime, Christine will have a regimen of Progesterone with a long needle daily, a Medrol pill and two Doxycycline daily through December 12th, a Vivelle dot patch every other day, and a baby aspirin daily. We'll see if all these efforts work to produce a pregnancy just before Christmas. What an incredible present for 2007, eh? :D
For now, Christine is resting. She's got her beads out arranging them in order by shape and color ready to make some jewelry for presents and anyone who orders in our "Beads Of Hope" fundraiser while watching the Sci-Fi and Discovery Channel. She's been ordered to take it easy today and tomorrow, so that's what she's gonna do. I'm waiting on her hand and foot right now and taking care of whatever she needs (yes, I even made a pizza for her to eat--YIKES!).
Pray for us, wish us well, and hopefully my next IVF update will be a great big celebration that we're pregnant with at least one child. It'll be here sooner than we think, but the waiting is gonna be the hardest part of this entire process, especially for Christine who naturally likes to worry anyway (is that a girl thing or what?). Anyways, that's where we are for now.
If you missed the Newsweek article this week entitled "How Diet Affects Fertility," then be sure to check it out and then read Regina Wilshire's stern response to it. There's a whole lotta misinformation going on out there about how diet impacts your ability to have a child. It's interesting reading nonetheless.
Here's a little bit from my e-mail box over the past week:
Jimmy and Christine, I just wanted to lend my support and prayers to you during your IVF experience. God Bless you both and give you the desires of your heart.
Hey, Jimmy --
I saw the post about the IVF process on your blog. I realize we don't know each other well, but if you don't mind, I'd like to pass along something that worked for us after nearly two years of trying.
A little background: we had friends who'd tried everything while going to specialists in LA. When they moved to New York, their new specialist told them (this was after $20,000 of treatments in LA), "You know, sometimes the woman is just a little too acidic for the little swimmers. Before we try anything expensive, I want you try mixing a teaspoon baking soda in a cup of water and douche with it about a half hour before you have sex." (Hope I'm not being too graphic here.)
So they did. Bingo, conception. So we tried it. Bingo, conception. Worked in bringing our second daughter in the world, too. We told another couple we knew who were having problems and ... yes, Bingo.
Anyway, I know how trying over and over can get frustrating -- I have a whole bit about in my standup routine -- so I thought I'd pass it along. You never know.
Best of luck.
I am praying so hard for both of you right now!!!!!
My friend went through this TWICE! Yes, TWICE. 10K+ each time. No, they are not rich either, but, the loans they took out, the perks they did without to have 2 of the most precious children was to them...priceless.
I have known them for years. In fact, for her 4th attempt (first 3 attempts failed) I went with her. I sat and massaged her head and sang Paul Anka's "Having A (my) Baby" using words that matched her and her husbands life. And she has a beautiful baby boy from that!!
Anyway, it is about you two, not anyone else. Right now you need all the positive energy and focus and that is what you got from, I am sure many more people that count and also, I believe from the man that matters most.
Having a baby--What a lovely way of saying how much love each other,
Having a baby--What a lovely way of saying your thinking of the other--you can see its face a glowin'--we can see in your eyes you're happy to know it!
Keep it up, this is the most important thing in your whole life, and if I could I would pay for it ALL for ya. But, my prayers seem to carry some weight so you got those coming full force!
I'm not trying to be trite, but can I suggest that you both have your Vitamin D blood levels checked? If they are not around 40ng/ml that might be contributing to the problem.
Jimmy & Christine-
Good luck on the meds. I remember it well. And I'm sure with the proper guidance, Jimmy, you could do the shots for Christine.
The Progesterone shots are definitely no fun so tell your lovely wife to massage the area right after so the solution doesn't cause welts.
You'll get through it. Don't worry.
Best of luck with your IVF cycle. The Progesterone shots are the worst part of it -- I found that icing the area, and warming the progesterone in my hand, helped.
To the poster who suggested NaPro Technology, please don't spout off when you don't know what you're talking about. Their "technology" is just tracking your natural fertility signs and using ovulation predictor kits. This can be helpful for couples with relatively simple fertility issues, but does nothing at all for tubal infertility, complete failure to ovulate, or male factor infertility (which is Jimmy's diagnosis).
It'd be nice if there were a simpler, cheaper fix than IVF, but for many fertility problems, that just isn't the case. If you aren't thoroughly familiar with the underlying medical issues behind infertility, please let the couple be guided by their doctors, rather than offering useless "advice."
The "My Weight Loss For Life" blog wrote the following in a post this week:
Jimmy Moore has a great low-carb site. He's also detailing the progress of his and his wife's IVF treatments, so if you're interested in either, this is a great site to check out. If you like it, check out the link to buy his wife's handmade jewelry. They're raising money to pay for a $18,000 IVF bill.
As someone who finally became a father at age 45 and now has two adorable girls, I wish you all the luck in the world on the embryo transfer. Fatherhood is work, but it's also a joy. (The work is part of the joy, believe it or not. I think men thrive on having a purpose.)
12-10-07 UPDATE: Because so many people have requested a way to make a donation towards our IVF expenses, you'll now notice a "DONATE" button at the top of the right side of the blog. Participation is completely voluntary and we sincerely appreciate all of the kind gestures of generosity that have come our way during this process. We are still taking orders for Christine's homemade bead jewelry, too, so let us know if you'd like to have her make you something. She LOVES them beads! :)