Overwhelmed…what would you do?


In spite of the wonderful news that MH and I do not have to contend with alloimmune issues (thank you to everyone who offered me advice and a shoulder to lean on, if we were facing those issues), I’m overwhelmed.

My dad is a physician and is licensed in the U.K. though doesn’t practice only in the U.K. – my parents live in Europe, if you didn’t know (I grew up in the States).  My mom encouraged me to share the test results from Dr. Sher with him and after a lot of wavering I decided to do so.  Granted, he is NOT a fertility specialist but I trust my dad and his knowledge and he has access to A LOT of medical resources including my uncle who is a very well-known and respected OB/GYN in Europe (he delivers celebrities babies…people whose names if I posted them you would recognize but I won’t to maintain my anonymity and respect his privacy) that said, my uncle is just a OB/GYN and NOT a fertility specialist.

On a side note, I’ve tried to keep my dad out of the whole medical piece of our journey because I like to maintain a normal father/daughter relationship with him and not go down the path of the doctor dad and daughter – we’ve done it before and it isn’t fun.  He gets all technical and medical and is less supportive of my feelings and more distant doctor…

Anyway, my dad reviewed our test results and doesn’t see anything wrong with them.  Yes, I have elevated natural killer cells but he says that most people do as that is what helps fight illnesses like cancer – so you want to have them in your body….He believes that the treatments that Dr. Sher is recommending (along with IVF) are not clinically proven and have more potential harm to me and a potential fetus from the side effects than are worth the risk.  He sent me this article that helped explain his rationale: http://www.hfea.gov.uk/fertility-treatment-options-reproductive-immunology.html

Dad said that his recommendation is to go to the fertility specialist who has the highest success rates and not the one with the innovative treatments.  Dr. Sher’s treatments are still in a clinical trial phase (though there don’t appear to be any formal clinical trials that he could find) and have no proven positive outcome (primarily just anecdotal).  He says we should try IVF a few times before going to Dr. Sher – and by then, if we’re still not pregnant, we can do more research on intralipid treatments, etc.

As you might imagine, after reading this article and speaking with my dad, both MH and I are much more hesitant to move forward with Dr. Sher (thinking of him as more of a last resort).  I scheduled a consult with Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland for next week.  My mom who has been visiting friends and family around the U.S. for the past month is arriving early next week for a visit with us.  She and I might take a little road trip together to Portland (along with Winston, who MH and I pick up on Saturday!!!!).

I’m also going to give the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine a call (probably today) and see if I can schedule a phone consult with them as soon as possible.

So, I know several of you have gone to SIRM and have had positive experiences as well as good outcomes using Dr. Sher’s methods of treating NKCs.  I respect your experiences and I am definitely not taking his recommendations off of the table.  However, I’m leaning more to saving his recommendations for a last resort.  I think I want to try IVF but try it in either Portland or with CCRM.  The success rate for ORM in Portland for my age range is 50%.  The success rate for CCRM in Denver for my age range is 59%.  Both of those stats are pretty compelling.

To be fair, SIRM-LV, does not report their numbers to SART but they do to the CDC (as required by law).  Their numbers are much lower – I think 27% for my age range.  Granted Dr. Sher may accept more challenging cases…something to consider.  Dr. Sher gave me a 50-60% success rate within two IVF cycles.

I’ve taken all of the Seattle centers completely off the table – the success rates while good are not as high for my age range.  The only reason why we’d choose one in Seattle is for convenience and I think at this point we’re going for making our dream come true instead of convenience.

Oh, did I mention that we need to tell SIRM by Monday at the latest?  They said that they’ll allow me to wait until my period shows up (I said probably by Monday) and that they’ll squeeze me in – which could or could not be true – as the deadline is actually tomorrow to make a decision and put down my deposit.

That’s a lot – clearly I’m processing.  Sorry for the novel!  For those of you who have been there before me, what would you do?  Would you skip straight to what I’m considering our “last resort” – Dr. Sher with the risks that are mentioned in the article and by my dad?  Or, would you try plain old-fashioned IVF at a fertility center with great results?

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Today is CD27.  Historically, I would get my period today.  Tomorrow, CD28, at the latest.  Because my body was so wacky this cycle (no positive OPK, no temp rise followed by broken thermometer), I don’t 100% sure know when or even if I ovulated though I think I did on CD 16 or 17, late for me, I don’t know when to expect my period.

What do you think – will by cycle be longer because I may have ovulated a little later than usual?  I don’t feel my body yet getting ready for it except for my usual extreme moodiness compounded by the stress of trying to make a decision about where to do IVF.  When should I expect it?  I don’t have a HPT at home, so there’s clearly no early testing for me!

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Yesterday was day three gluten-free:

Breakfast: same boring breakfast – I need new breakfast ideas

Lunch: corn and peas heated up, chicken breast, potato chips (I finished the bag so no more chips for me!)

Dinner: pasta (GF brand that was surprisingly very tasty but needed to be cooked longer) with home-made sauce made by me; salad

Snacks: popcorn, peaches

 

Today’s day four gluten-free menu will be something like:

Breakfast: same old, same old – definitely need new breakfast ideas!

Lunch: don’t know – I’ll probably run over to Whole Foods, which is around the corner from our apartment and VERY dangerous 🙂

Dinner: roasted chicken breasts with sauteed spinach and garlic and corn

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Update: Dr. Sher Test Alloimmune Test Call Tomorrow


I’ll get the news on whether or not the alloimmune testing comes back with a match or not tomorrow.  I pray that there is not a match and that I have the “normal” autoimmune issues.  I’m terrified that there is a match but hope that there isn’t.

My call with Dr. Sher is scheduled for 1:30pm with a three hour window.  Please think positive thoughts for us.

I’ll update you all either once I process if it’s bad news or as soon as possible.

Thanks!

Day One Gluten-Free: A Food Diary


How exciting!  I’m going gluten-free for 14 days and we’ll see what happens.  I decided that I’d do a food diary to help track what I’m eating and to make sure that I’m not eating things that I should be avoiding.  This is my meal schedule for the day:

Day One

Breakfast: two rice cakes with peanut butter and honey, yogurt

Lunch: chicken breast cut up on top of butter lettuce with chopped celery, halved cherry tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese (not sure that’s Gluten-free but oh well), balsamic dressing and a handful of salt and vinegar chips (gf, of course).

Dinner: curried whole chicken legs with carrots, rice and lime

Snack: popcorn, sliced apple with peanut butter

I emailed Dr. Sher this morning to submit my medical release form (I want to see the results of my autoimmune tests myself).  I was told that the results from the alloimmune testing are in and once they confirm they have everything they need to give me the results that there’s a chance that I could get my consult with Dr. Sher done tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!  One stop closer to making a decision!  Of course, I’m hoping that I get a BFP this weekend but of course I know that the chances are slim.  So, do I go ahead and move forward now?  What if I get a positive?  Would they give back our deposit or is it lost $$?  So confusing.

Advice on Preparing for IVF


So, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that we will do IVF.  I was reassured by Lindsey that even if I have an alloimmune issue that I can still be treated…so, I’m pretty sure that unless something really tragic is revealed with our Dr. Sher follow-up call next Friday that we are moving to IVF.

That said, I want to be sure I’m best prepared for IVF.  Are there things that I should be doing or not doing?  Did you add vitamins/supplements to your usual?

I’m anxious and need to control something and preparing my body and mind for this is my way of taking control.

I’m going to attempt to go gluten-free starting on Monday, so this weekend is my big binge on wheat and pasta weekend!  I found a great local store that puts signs on the items that are gluten-free so I’m going to shop there for the next two weeks.  MH and I also chatted and I told him it bothered me that he was so against me trying the gluten-free thing.  He admitted that he’s totally all for it as long as he doesn’t have to do it too 🙂  I assured him that I would not deprive him of his gluten!

Any advice on preparing mentally/physically for IVF that you have to share is greatly appreciated!

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On another note, we decided to call our new puppy Winston!  I’m counting down the days to his arrival – 8.  If only getting a baby was as easy as getting a puppy!

Happy weekend, you all!

Duh! I figured it out…


So the reason why my temperature wasn’t rising was my thermometer!  It’s broken!  It is more than a year old and having been used almost daily for that entire time, I’m not surprised it pooped out on me.  I think that I did ovulate – whew – on Sunday.  The OPK that I took was its darkest but wasn’t quite as dark as the control line, so maybe I caught the rise on its way down.  The next day it was lighter, so I’m pretty sure I just misread the test.  I’ll get a new thermometer but I won’t start to use it until my next cycle.  I did however ovulate on the later side for my body but that’s ok.  We were able to get good BD time in and who knows, maybe we get lucky!

I guess that means I’m officially back in the TWW.  Without my thermometer, I can’t temp and will hopefully relax a little during this time.  I also should have known that I ovulated as I’ve been waking up every morning at 5:45am and can’t go back to sleep.  That is a typical experience for me in the LP.  Does that happen to you?

In other news, we are almost ready to announce our new puppy’s name.  We have one name picked out but MH wants to wait until tonight to make it final.  I can’t wait to share.  His new name is really cute and perfect for him as a puppy and as a mature dog.

Getting Crafty!


Generally speaking, I buy things and don’t make them – except food because I love to cook.  I’m not very crafty or handy though I’m fairly artistic.  I’ve been considering a fertility bracelet for sometime now as I’ve read that they have helped women get pregnant.  Of course, I realize that it could be coincidental that someone started wearing a fertility bracelet, gets lucky and falls pregnant that month or two after starting to wear it.

But, I’ve wanted one so when I drove past a bead store not too far from our new home last week, the idea of making my own bracelet instead of buying one popped into my little noggin.  So, today, in the middle of a rainstorm (irrelevant but I’m still getting used the Seattle rain), I stopped into the bead store.  One of the women showed me how long approximately I would want my bracelet to be and showed me where the stones I was looking for were located and set me free.  I chose Rose Quartz, Moonstone and another stone that I can’t remember the name – all of which are known to help with fertility and conception.  I also chose a small stork charm for the bracelet.

Once I selected and arranged my bracelet, she helped me make it by giving my “string” and some clasps.  I strung it the way I wanted it to look and she put it together for me.  While I realize that it looks totally amateur, I’m really proud of myself for getting creative, taking an hour and a half away from the grind, and making something with my own two hands.  AND, the best part was that it was less than $30.  I realize that I could have purchased one for about $15 online but I loved the fact that I made it myself.

My uterus may not be functioning on all cylinders but my hands still are and I’m going to use them 🙂

Here’s my design (that’s an upside down stork by the way) and I plan to wear it until I give birth to my first child and hopefully another one after him/her!  (Please don’t judge my hands – it is so true that hands give away age before anything else…urgh!).

In other news, I still have yet to ovulate.  Granted, I didn’t take an OPK today because I used the last one in my house.  But, my temp was still down this morning and my CM has completely dried up.  So, I need to accept the fact that I’m either going to O really late (on CD 18 today) or not at all OR that my thermometer has broken and I need a new one.  Realistically, I need to come to terms that it is time for us to move onto IVF.  I’m going to need to mentally start to prepare for it.  I’m terrified but excited at the same time, if that’s possible.

Thank you everyone for your encouragement and ideas for starting to go gluten-free.  It’s time.  I have another question: how do you go gluten-free if the rest of your household aka husband didn’t?  Is it possible?  Or do I need to force MH into doing it with me too?

Catching Up On Life


As of yesterday, we’ve been in Seattle for one week.  The past two weeks have been incredibly busy with moving and getting settled.  I tried to focus on those parts of my life rather than on fertility/infertility.  It helped all aspects of my life.  Nearly all of our boxes are unpacked, I caught up on client work that was barely managed while I was on the road and I’ve gotten to know our new city just a little bit more.  I can drive to our grocery store without getting lost 🙂

On the TTC front, there has been little progress.  MH and I have processed the news that I have highly elevated natural killer cells.  We were able to get our blood work done on the road to determine if I there are solely autoimmune issues or if there are more challenging (scary) alloimmune issues.  Right now, we are scheduled to get those results by phone on October 21.  I have to admit I’m scared sh*tless that those results will come back with really bad news.  I’m almost prepared for the worst news.  I try not to focus on it and instead focus on things that I have control of like finding a new acupuncturist, which I did!

I’m also doing a lot of research to see if there are any doctors in Seattle who believe in and treat autoimmune disorders.  If I can find someone here than I don’t have to travel to Las Vegas for treatment, which is costly, more stressful and would mean that MH and I would have to be apart for a significant period of time, which we both dislike.

If you know of a doctor or two who DO treat autoimmune disorders in Seattle, please contact me as soon as possible!

Yesterday, I had acupuncture from a new person.  She was quite lovely.  I think she’ll be fine.  My acupuncturist in San Francisco was amazing and so I think it will be hard to find someone who I like as much as she.  But, I think this woman will be great.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, my body is gearing up to ovulate.  I’ve forgotten to take OPKs this month so I’ll see if I remember to take one today.  I guess my heart isn’t quite into it since mentally I feel like even if I do conceive that my body will automatically attack it.  I need to start thinking positively.  Immediately.  My negative thoughts aren’t helpful right now.  It just upsets me to think that at the end of this cycle, my period will more than likely show up yet again.

Another goal of mine is to join an infertility support group.  Through Resolve, I was able to find one near here but not one directly in Seattle.  There is an option of starting a peer support group – Resolve supports you through the entire process.  I’m going to look into it.  That way I can kill two birds with one stone – find a support system as well as potentially make new friends 🙂

Even though we should be saving up for an IVF cycle in December – as that will most likely happen as the next step – I went on a shopping binge under the guise of buying things we “need” for our new apartment – a new coffee pot for MH (he broke his as he unpacked it), a SodaStream, which makes carbonated drinks – I’ll use it solely to make sparkling water, new decorations for our 2nd bathroom, etc.  Definitely some of these items we don’t need but it just gave me such pleasure to shop after months and months of NOT shopping.  I’m keeping it all, darn it!  It was the most therapeutic $300 that I’ve spent in a long time!

Update from Oregon


We are more than half way to our new home in Seattle.  Our road trip has been a lot of fun so far with nearly perfect weather.  Though I hear the sound of rain drops this morning.  It’s OK.  We’re getting really excited to get to Seattle and tomorrow we’ll be there!

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I haven’t had much time to read blogs or post (clearly) but thought I’d give a quick update.  I was able to get our testing lined up for tomorrow morning.  The person I’ve been working with at the lab has been incredible.  I explained how I wanted this testing done as quickly as possible and she arranged for a mobile phlebotomist to meet us in our hotel to take our blood tomorrow morning.  Amazing!

I’m definitely leaning towards putting our $2,000 deposit down for the December 5 IVF cycle in Las Vegas.  MH is still getting there but I think he’s right behind me and will be on board very shortly.  He would be more on board if he knew that I would have company in Vegas…so I’m trying to recruit a friend to come out and spend a few days with me.  We’ll see.  Anyone else doing IVF with Dr. Sher in December?  If so, let’s be buddies and hang out when our husbands are back home!

Without knowing what the results of these follow-up tests will be, I’m a little anxious to commit to the IVF.  But, I’m eager and wanting to move forward.  We’re more than ready to have a baby and if doing IVF will make it happen, we’ll spend the money – only if the odds are in our favor though.

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My pregnant sister-in-law has been sending me updates about her pregnancy.  I know that she is excited but it is too hard for me to read them.  I sent her an email asking her not to…I probably shouldn’t have but I just can’t deal with it.  This is my email (which was hard to write because I didn’t want to make her mad but I wanted her to understand:

Dear A,

I truly am thrilled that you and Tim are having a baby. I look forward to celebrating the birth of your new baby girl when the time comes.  I hope that a miracle will happen so that we can talk about pregnancy together sooner rather than later.

I hope that you understand that now is a difficult time for me to hear updates about your pregnancy – though I hope and wish for an uneventful and healthy one for you!

Love,
M

She wrote back and said she appreciated my honesty.  What more can I ask for, right?!

Hope you all are doing well!

December 5


Dr. Sher called me and luckily MH was home with me (packing) and could listen in to hear the results of my testing.  I have tested positive for activated Natural Killer Cells.  Which means that I could have either an autoimmune issue or an alloimmune issue.  Further testing is needed to determine which is the underlying cause.  I’m hopeful that it is an autoimmune issue and not an alloimmune issue as an autoimmune issue is more common and easier to treat.

He then went on to recommend that while both are treatable that because the treatments are harsh on the body that it is easiest and best (this is where I want a second opinion) to combine treatment with IVF.  My personal preference is to get the treatments and try naturally but I need to know if this is 1) possible and 2) worth it both financially and physically.  If the treatments are ridiculously expensive and if I’m trying naturally we may have to try for months than I’m all for going for IVF and getting it over in one or two shots.

That’s what Dr. Sher claims would get it done.  One or two cycles of IVF treatment combined with intralipid and steroid treatments.  If it is an autoimmune issue, he gives me an 80% chance of success with IVF.

While I need to do more research on Natural Killer Cells, treatments, autoimmune versus alloimmune, I have tentatively signed up for the December IVF cycle in Las Vegas starting on December 5.

So, I took our results as both positive positive (we have a reason for why I’m not getting pregnant and for our loss[s]) and positive negative (there is a need for more testing and while Dr. Sher originally said that IVF wasn’t needed on my first call with him, he now recommends it because of my border line DOR and to minimize my intake of steroids and the intralipid infusions).

I think that summarizes it.  (But, the movers arrive in 2 hours so I’m a little preoccupied). If something isn’t clear or you want further detail, let me know if the comments and I’ll try to reply over the next couple of days as we road trip to our new home in Seattle!

If you know more about ANY of this, please share with me!!  I could use your historical knowledge.

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Oh, and my waking temp dropped to 97.8 this morning.  The b.itch is going to show up later today.  But, I expected it.  😦

It just means I can enjoy a glass of wine or two over dinner tonight with friends!

Results are in…


So the results are in for my autoimmune tests…I will get them tomorrow over a phone call with Dr. Sher tomorrow afternoon. I’m actually kind of anxious about hearing the news but I have to remember that an answer can lead to knowledge and a plan.

Good news is that MH will be home with me so he can be on the call too.

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I’m trying WordPress on my iPhone so I can keep blogging on the road next week. I still can’t believe that the movers arrive in two days. Yikes! Let’s hope this app works for me!