Saturday, December 01, 2007

An IVF Update: Shots Galore And So Much More

All of THIS just to have an IVF baby? Yep, that's right!

Since I last updated you on our decision to start the IVF/ICSI cycle to try to have a baby, the process is now well underway with tons of shots, doctor visits, tests, blood work, and one big fat loan to tell you about. More about all of that in just a moment.

Special thanks to everyone who has responded to our "Beads Of Hope" fundraiser that will help us defray the costs of our medical expenses during this procedure. The total cost is going to come to about $18,000 for one cycle and thankfully we were approved for a Capital One fertility loan for most of that money. We'll be paying it back over the next five years, so every little bit of money we can raise through these homemade beads Christine creates will help us pay for what could be the miracle we've been praying for regarding having a child.

Not everyone is happy about our "Beads Of Hope" campaign, though. One of my readers expressed her sincere disgust for my decision to use my blog for what she describes as "panhandling." Here's what she wrote in an e-mail to me:

"I may turn out to be in a small minority -- I think your panhandling through your web site is truly inappropriate. For the low-carb planet, you have been a valuable resource. By selling your wife's beaded creations to pay your medical bills, your have gone beyond boundaries of propriety."

While I respect and appreciate the opinions of those who disagree with our fundraiser, it was my decision to do this and I don't regret it one bit. I have had readers suggest that I put a PayPal link on my blog so they can pay me for the work I do here at my blog. I have refused because to me that would be in poor taste. But by offering something in return for those funds like the bead jewelry, it is in my estimation a natural trade-off of funds for merchandise. No problem in my eyes.

Nevertheless, we are not discouraged by those who disagree with the fundraiser. Nobody is being forced to participate in it and yet you still get the same quality low-carb content you always have absolutely FREE every single day at my blog. I provide it willingly because it is the cry of my heart to help others find the success that I have since 2004. That commitment will NEVER change.

Okay, so let's talk about the IVF cycle that began the day after Thanksgiving. My wife Christine is a real trooper and I have the utmost respect for her and anyone willing to put themselves through all these shots and drugs just to have a baby. What a sacrifice of pain and anguish she has put up with to try to make this work and I love her more than ever for being willing to do this for us. THANK YOU AND I LOVE YOU, HONEY!

Here's the rundown of all the shots and drugs she has had to take on a daily basis for the past week:

Lupron 20 units (injected in the belly with a subcutaneous needle)
Gonal-F 150 (injected in the belly with a subcutaneous needle)
Doxycycline 100mg (taken orally)
Baby Aspirin (taken orally)

Lupron 20 units (injected in the belly with a subcutaneous needle)
Menopur 150 (injected in the belly with a subcutaneous needle)
Doxycycline 100mg (taken orally)

I have faithfully prepared each of these shots for Christine and she has dutifully injected them herself for over a week now alternating back and forth between one side of her belly button and the other. The purpose of these shots is to stimulate the follicles on her ovaries to help them grow to around 18mm for ideal egg-making.

She had a baseline visit on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and then a follow-up on Wednesday and Friday this week. A vaginal ultrasound was done to determine whether the follicles are growing like they are supposed to and the good news is they are. As of Friday, many of the follicles have reach 12-13mm in size and are well on the way to being ready for egg retrieval on this coming Wednesday or Thursday morning.

In fact, the follicles on her ovaries right now are so big that Christine says it feels like she has "a watermelon in my abdomen." My response back to her was that it is "preparing you for when you have babies inside of you real soon." She smiled and said "yeah, I know." It's getting closer and closer!

We are scheduled to go to the reproductive endocrinologist on Sunday morning bright and early for one last ultrasound to make sure Christine is ready and it looks like she will be. They have seen about 10 follicles grow which is excellent news because each one has the potential to make an egg we can use for the IVF/ICSI procedure. The more eggs we have, the better odds that several viable embryos will be ready for the transfer back inside Christine.

And the shots will continue this week for Christine and they get a little worse. While all of these needles she has had so far have been subcutaneous, meaning just below the skin, many of the next ones will be intramuscular (around 1 1/2 inches long) which will require us to seek assistance from a nurse friend of ours from church to help with. I'm absolutely terrified of needles personally or I'd try to stick Christine myself. My hands would probably shake too much, though.

The main shot will be the hCG IM that is administered 36 hours before the retrieval of the eggs. That means it will be either 8:00pm Monday night or Tuesday night depending on what the doctor says after the visit on Sunday morning. The egg and sperm retrieval will take place on Wednesday morning or Thursday morning where the doctors will conduct the actual procedure of placing the motile sperm in the middle of each egg to see if they will fertilize. This takes 3-5 days to happen.

Then the real "fun" begins for Christine when she begins taking DAILY shots of Progesterone 50mg/mL with an intramuscular needle in the morning, a 0.1mg dot patch of Virelle in the morning, Medrol 16mg in the evening, along with the Doxycycline and baby aspirin.

The torture for her body just doesn't stop, does it?

But all of this is preparing Christine for the transfer back of the viable embryos that survive after a few days. If there are only a couple still around after three days, then the transfer will happen on Saturday or Sunday morning. Otherwise, if the embryos continue to do well and look good through five days, then the transfer will go as planned on Monday or Tuesday morning a week from now.

From there, we wait two weeks while continuing to take the hormone shots to see if the embryos continue to develop inside Christine's womb and on or about December 24th we will know whether or not she is pregnant. It's rather ironic all of this anticipation builds up to that particular date because either way it will be a gift from God.

If He chooses to bless us with a child or children, then what an awesome Christmas present that would be. But if not, we will at least have that "peace of mind" I blogged about previously. We're ready for whatever His will is for us in this.

Obviously, we would love to have your prayers as we continue down this journey to have a baby and what an adventurous ride it has been so far. We really are lucky people to have so many amazing human beings show us the love and dignity that literally hundreds of you have done over the past couple of months. Our gratitude and appreciation for your support cannot be any greater than it is right now. So THANK YOU for showering us with your encouraging words during this time.

The next time I update you will be after the transfer of the embryo expected in about 8-10 days. This next week is crucial in the entire IVF/ICSI process, so pray for us, the doctors and nurses, and those tiny little zygotes that will be formed. One or more of those could be a baby Moore nine months from now. Here's hoping! :)

Here are some more e-mails we have received about our IVF journey:

Please, before you pay so much money for IVF, let me alert you to NaPro Technology. Their success rate is much higher than IVF and much less expensive. They are a Catholic institution, but don't let that put you off, they accept all patients!

Check out their web site:

Pope Paul VI Institute
6901 Mercy Road
Omaha, Nebraska 68106

God bless!
Hi Jimmy,

Just wondering have you thought about doing IVF in Ireland? An IVF cycle here costs about 3000 euro ($4394) for each IVF cycle. Including return flights and accommodations it would be cheaper to do it here.

I know it seems like a wild idea but I hate to think of you and Christine would have to shelling out so much money. According to this article, it's seen as unethical to make money from infertility treatment and I think that's the way it should be.
Dear Jimmy and Christine,

You and your wife will be in my prayers for sure for the next couple of months. I have a great burden for those wanting a child and have not been able to conceive. There are times I wonder why God gave me 14 children and the next couple none. But may you and your wife be pleasantly surprised by what God has in store for you in the near future. As you and your wife have been givers to so many, He will reward you beyond all that you can ask or think.

Blessings to you both,

Michigan Mommy of Many
Dear Jimmy,

I recently read your blog about your struggle with infertility. My husband and I used ICSI/IVF in 2004 and our twin daughters are now 3 years old.

My book, Tiny Toes: A Couple’s Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression was just released. I'd be happy to send you a complimentary copy. Maybe reading about our journey will help you with yours. You can visit my web site to learn more about the book.

Best luck to you and Christine. It's an exciting, emotional and trying time all at once!

Best regards,

Kelly Damron

We received Kelly's book in the mail this week and I'll be reading and reviewing it soon. I appreciate her generosity in sending me a copy of her new book which looks to be an OUTSTANDING resource for anyone going through this IVF process.

And finally, let me give a big shout out to the "Debt Daddy" blog for helping me promote our "Beads Of Hope" fundraiser. Here's what he wrote:

Speaking of kids and fathers, I came across this guy a while back and wanted to pass his name along to you. Jimmy Moore has been blogging for quite some time - one of his most read blogs is "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" (which is just the kind of kitchy title that makes Debt Daddy giggle). Anyway, he and his wife have been trying to have children for quite some time, but have had no luck, and are now turning to IVF (IVF = in vitro fertilization, for anyone who doesn't know what the heck I'm babbling about).

IVF can get pretty expensive, but have no fear! Believe it or not, Capital One now offers an "infertility loan" to finance the long (hopefully successful) road of making a baby with doctors present. So, whether or not their attempt to procreate is successful, they will still be paying back this loan with interest. Fortunately, Jimmy's wife has a sideline business that they're hoping will help to supplement some of the expenses and get this loan paid down.

If you're still looking for Holiday gifts for people on your list, you might want to check out this link - Jimmy's wife Christine makes some very pretty beaded jewelry, and purchasing some of her handiwork would not only make a lovely gift to whomever you're giving it to, but to the people you bought it from as well.

WOW, now that was too cool! I don't know who you are Debt Daddy, but God bless you buddy! You are an honorable guy and we appreciate your selfless support for us as we go down this road. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

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Blogger Oh.2.B.Fit said...

WOW!!! I'm soooo excited for the two of you :) You're both in my thoughts and prayers Jimmy.
Much peace and love to you both <3

12/02/2007 2:02 PM  
Blogger NJB said...

I enjoy visiting your site, it's very helpfull(turned me onto Gary Taubs' book - MEGA THANKS!)
So 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.

Best regards from New Jersey

12/02/2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger NJB said...

I enjoy visiting your site, it's very helpful (turned me onto Gary Taubs' book - MEGA THANKS!)
So 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.

Best regards from New Jersey

12/02/2007 6:15 PM  
Blogger Scale Mistress said...

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.

12/02/2007 11:41 PM  
Blogger Emma B. said...

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".

12/03/2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

The progesterone shots are the worst part of it -- I found that icing the area, and warming the progesterone in my hand, helped.

Progesterone suppositories are an option you may want to ask the doctor about - the data available suggests it's as effective as the injected progesterone and is completely pain-free since it's not injected!

12/04/2007 11:41 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Thanks Regina! We were given that option by the RE, but Christine chose the shots instead. She's tired of having stuff put "up there." Plus, it's more expensive and requires 3 applications a day. Thanks for the info!

12/04/2007 12:41 PM  

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