Archive for July, 2009

On Friday, I received two pieces of mail from Ye Olde Fertility Clinic. The first was a statement detailing my deposit due for IVF#3 (they call it IVF#4, interestingly). I had already paid the deposit that morning, but they couldn’t have known that when I put it in the mail, so no biggie.

The second piece of mail was slightly more annoying (and that’s saying a lot – because any piece of paper that’s more annoying than a piece of paper asking for a large sum of money? Well, that’s pretty annoying, don’t you think?)

It was my embryo disposition report from IVF#1… which was in Jan/Feb of this year! So just a lovely little reminder that:

I had… 10 eggs retrieved.
I had… 9 eggs fertilized normally.
I had… 0 eggs fertilized abnormally (e.g., with more than 1 sperm)
I had… 1 eggs unfertilized and discarded.
I had… 1 embryos transferred. [with zero resulting pregnancies]
I requested… All remaining embryos to be cultured and that any that reached the potentially viable blastocyst stage be cryopreserved.

And…. (drumroll please)

As a final result of embryo culture… 0 embryos were cryopreserved this cycle.

Presumably, that last line was the whole reason they sent this copy to me – since I didn’t have a copy that actually said that before, and I’d merely been told over the phone what the final result was (and it took several days for me to be told that result, too, btw).

Thanks for the reminder. It really… um… helped give me closure?


I wonder how long it will be before I get the embryo disposition report from my May/June cycle and I’ll get to be happily reminded of that hell of a transfer day with the evil doctor when I look at the embryo disposition report and see several signatures that aren’t mine, but are, instead the witnesses who signed in my place. Fun times to look forward to. Hopefully by the time I receive that report, it will be irrelevant and I won’t care, because I’ll just be happily pregnant.


I almost said that with a straight face.

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 We went to a very special birthday party today – one of my best friends has five little monkeys (triplets and twins born 13 months apart), and today was their joint birthday party. I wish I had gotten many more pictures from today’s events, but we were so busy wrangling the kiddeos that I just couldn’t keep snapping photos.
What struck me so much was when my friends Cherie and Kelli, fellow triplet moms, saw my kids and exclaimed, “When did they shoot up so much??” and “When did they stop being babies and turn into toddlers??” Cherie even did a double take and said to me, “Wait, is she yours!?” when she saw me holding Ellie. It’s unbelievable how quickly time has flown, and how big and mature my tiny babies have become in so short a time.  I know it’s a beautiful thing to see, and I know this is what every parent wishes for their children – that they should grow and thrive and develop into little people, but it is still disconcerting to me as a mommy.   I worry sometimes that I am missing out on too many of the precious details in the lives of my children and that time is a thief stealing away those moments which I crave so much.
One of the great gifts that infertility gave to me was the certainty that every moment with my children is a gift – not a right – and I try to cherish each milestone, each day, each snapshot in time of parenting all four of my children to the greatest extent possible.  I know that some days I fall short of that, but it is what I strive for.  I would like to think that I would have taken just as much care to cherish each moment with my children even without the experience of infertility – and I know I would have adored my children, I know I would have loved every moment of parenthood – but I’m quite certain that my perspective is different as a result of infertility.  I don’t mean to suggest I love my children more, or that people who haven’t experienced infertility don’t appreciate their children – none of that could possibly be true.  Only that for me, I know that I find myself thinking about my gratitude for my children in a way (and with far more frequency) than I think I probably would have had I not had the experience that I had. 
But, time does pass, even though sometimes I would love to press the pause button and savor each moment just a little longer.  And my kids – all of them – are growing up before my very eyes.  Today was Jack, Evan, Will, Noelle, and Lilley’s birthday party – another year passing which means just two more months until my kids turn 6 and 2.  Holy smokes!  They just get cuter and cuter, though!   Take a look for yourself!
Julian at the Party
J-man at the party
   Sam at Redden B-day Party  
Sam with his beloved elephant


Ellie Pigtails 
Ellie – our little daredevil – standing on the slide



Abby at Redden Bday Party
A classic Abby pose – serious and sophisticated

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Protected: More Than Meets The Eye

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Last month, I picked up a pair of knock-off croc-type shoes for each of the triplets.  A pink pair for Ellie, an orange pair for Abby, and a blue pair for Sam.  The kids were delighted, but there was one problem.  Poor little Sam's shoes didn't fit him.  I had guessed his shoe size incorrectly and althought I'd gotten a full size bigger than the girls, it wasn't big enough. 

My kids don't talk, with the exception of a very few  words, but they sure do communicate.  The girls absolutely knew that they had something Sammy didn't have, especially Abby.  Abby would put on her little orange "crocs" and wave her little feet in front of Sam giggling.  Ellie was equally delighted with her own little pink beauties.  But poor Sam was despondent.  He would pick up his blue shoes, and bring them to me, crying wistfully, holding out his bare little naked toes, asking for goodness to be restored in the world.  But, alas, they did not fit.

Fortunately, just two days later, I had to take the triplets in for hearing tests at the hospital, so I had the morning off anyway.  Afterward, the nanny and I went to the store and I ran in to exchange the little shoes for slightly bigger little shoes and I put them on Sam's little feet in the car and he was ecstatic!  He shook his little feet and touched them and showed them off and giggled and laughed all the way from the store to the restaurant where we grabbed lunch before I headed back to work. 

And all was right in the world again. 

It doesn't stop there, though.  Our three little Imeldas are so shoe-obsessed and were so delighted by their new brightly colored shoes that they wouldn't take those little shoes off for several weeks.  They wore them day and night, literally, and if we took them off to do something drastic like change their clothes or give them baths, the temper tantrums were phenomenal.  It was delightful.

But lest you believe that it is just the brightly colored, rather unnatural looking (and feeling) croc-like shoe things that my children are obsessed with, here is evidence that, in fact, it is purely a generalized shoe obsession…  in fact, their preference is for Mom or Dad's shoes – and J's shoes are a close second choice.  They are frequently found stomping (or stumbling) around in our shoes, and the first thing that they do when we walk in the door at the end of the day is race over and start pulling at our shoes desperately trying to get them off our feet. (Interestingly, they are also nearly always offended to find me in my stocking feet and will race over with my shoes and push them onto my feet!)  Enjoy:

IMG_3924   IMG_3930   IMG_3943 IMG_3952

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I would like to say that I met with SuperDoc today and he said, “Well, it’s obvious that the problem is X, and therefore, we simply have to do Y, and voila! You will be cured and you’ll have a baby in 9 months.”

I would like to say that I met with SuperDoc today and he said, “I absolutely know that this next cycle is going to work for you.”

I would like to say that I met with SuperDoc today and he said, “You are the most straightforward patient I’ve ever treated – clearly textbook diagnosis X. I know just what to do next.”

I would like to say that I met with SuperDoc today and he said, “I know this has been a long and frustrating road, but with this new protocol, I believe you have an 80% chance at achieving a successful pregnancy.”

I would even like to say that I met with SuperDoc today and he said, “If you look at all the things you have going for you in Column A and all the things you have working against you in Column B – Column A clearly outweighs Column B.”

I would like to say a lot of things, but none of those things would be true. So what really did transpire? Well, honestly, it’s a bit late now, and I’ve got a fair bit of pain medicine in me right now, so I’m not sure I’ll do it justice, but I’ll do my best.

First, I noted that he had a lovely new desk for his office. I told him I’m clearly paying him too much, and that we simply must cut that out. I brought him fudge, for which he thanked me, and I said, “well, we’ll see – I’m not sure you deserve it.” He agreed. “I don’t deserve it – I’m not at all happy about what we’ve failed to achieve for you.” I told him to stop being so hard on himself – after all, that’s my job, and it’s fun for me. He wouldn’t want to take away my fun, would he?

SuperDoc is definitely frustrated. He acknowleged that I’m a “challenge” and said he knows that I don’t want to be the “interesting” patient. Oh please. Who wants to be the “boring” patient, anyway? If I were boring I wouldn’t get to spend so much quality time with such a wonderful person like him! Um… He talked through all of my cycles (including my response to stims in my IUI cycles) and he put the items in my favor into one column, and the items against me in another column:

Good Bad
Age Average to low response to stims (luteal phase lupron protocol)
(some good) Mixed embryo quality (majority poor)
successful triplet pregnancy 5 failed IUIs; 3 failed initiated IVFcycles

He said if he were only looking at the response that I’ve had to the initiated IVF cycles that I’ve had this year (in other words – most of the second column), and he didn’t know my history (in other words, most of the first column) – he’d probably be talking to me about egg and embryo quality issues. But the fact that I have had a successful pregnancy before, and the fact that I’m (relatively) young-ish does change things a bit for him. But on the other hand (there were many “other hands” in today’s consult), he said that there’s still the question of why did it take so many IUI cycles to conceive the triplets in the first place? And why triplets after so long and so little success? (There were, by the way, a lot of unanswered, rhetorical questions asked in today’s consult)

When we were cancelling IVF#2, Take 2 I had asked SuperDoc about considering an Antagonist Protocol (Ganirelix). He said then that he felt that Ganirelix would give me a lower quality cohort of embryos, and that he didn’t think there would be an advantage to changing the protocol at that time. At the time, he said he wasn’t opposed to trying an antagonist protocol if he was forced to – but that it would be a last resort.

Today, he talked through some of my history and my options for moving forward. It seems clear that I no longer respond like a woman with polcystic ovaries, which, he says, is extremely unusual – apparently this doesn’t normally just “get better”. Still, all signs point to me maybe not really having PCOS right now. He does still want me to stay on metformin, on the off-chance that it’s doing me some good – but he said he doubts that it is. It can’t hurt, though. In IVF#1, they treated me like someone with classic PCOS (lots of Lupron, low stims) – I didn’t stim particularly well, but I did have a reasonable outcome with the retrieval. Fertilization was fine, embryo quality was terrible, I had one good quality blastocyst, nothing to freeze. IVF#2, Take 1 was canceled before I got to Stims. IVF#2, Take 2, they treated me with less Lupron, more stims but still pretty conservative – and had to cancel for under-response. Clearly, I wasn’t behaving like a PCOS patient. IVF#2, Take 3 I was treated like a typical average-to-low responder, very low Lupron dose, moderately high stim dose. Good retrieval numbers, reasonably good fertilization, great Day 2 embryology report compared to IVF#1, everything went to hell on Day 3.

He said that there are a very small number of women (about 5%) who simply make crappy (my word) embryos with Lupron, for whatever reason. So he could consider doing a “Lupron Stop” protocol where they just stop the Lupron on Day 1 of stims (no suppression after that), but he doesn’t want to go there, because he thinks the Lupron could be partially responsible for my crappy embryos. (He’s not discounting the likelihood that I simply make crappy embryos – three beautiful babies snoozing in their cribs notwithstanding).

He would, instead, like to move to an antagonist protocol. Shocking! Compared to the 5% of women who make crappy embryos with Lupron, about 20% of women make crappy embryos with Ganirelix. He said that with Ganirelix, you run the risk of a certain amount of unevenness in the cohort, which is something he’s particularly concerned about with me, given my propensity to have lead follicles in my cohort -but he’s hoping that without any Lupron on board at all, we’ll see a different trend than we’ve been seeing. He believes that we have a 30% chance of seeing a lower quality cohort with the Ganirelix and a 50% chance of seeing a better quality cohort. I believe we have a 100% chance that this is all a crapshoot no matter what.

As for his overall recommendation – he said this is really about my personal stamina – and what I think I can handle. He said that he thinks he knows me well enough by now to know the answer to that, but that it’s really up to me. We talked around the insurance issues a bit and I told him that I have one covered cycle left in my insurance and that after that my husband’s insurance covers us, but only at The Hatchery. Interestingly – the Hatchery is merging with Ye Olde Fertility Clinic in the next few months, and this may seriously impact whether we’d be able to pursue additional cycles after this one. It was actually quite comforting to know that we may not be as limited in options as we thought after this cycle. I thought about it for a few minutes and told him that my husband and I were both committed to wanting another baby. But that most likely what we would do is do this next cycle and then take some time to re-group and consider the insurance implications of continuing on with another couple cycles under his insurance. Even with the merger – which would mean taking away the logistical nightmare of forcing me up to a city an hour away in the wrong direction at all the wrong times – my husband’s insurance still isn’t as good as mine, and the upfront cost is still significantly greater th
an mine, so that’s still a lot to swallow. But … I do like knowing that we’re not at the end of the road come August if we don’t choose to be.

SuperDoc said pretty clearly that “this cycle is going to be very telling – we’re going to learn a lot from it…. of course, hopefully you’ll simply be pregnant at the end of it.” It wasn’t lost on me that the pregnancy possibility wasn’t the immediate thought, and was more of an… afterthought. Just as it wasn’t lost on me that SuperDoc’s recommendation to move to an antagonist protocol – once his “last resort” – was now his next step.

I asked about whether I should be considering a 2 embryo transfer on Day 3 – rather than continuing to dig my heals in about the Day 5 blast eSET transfer. He said that we need to look at what the embryo quality is with the antagonist protocol – if there is an improvement in embryo quality, he would still encourage me to transfer one embryo (Day 3, Day 5 – we’ll see when we get there). But if we’re still looking at the same embryo quality issues – then it’s a matter of talking through the statistics and making an informed choice when the time comes. With embryos of the quality I’ve been looking at on Day 3 these last couple cycles? He’d have put me at 5-10% odds of having a twin pregnancy – odds I can live with. If we were looking at transferring 2 high grade blastocysts, the twin odds would be closer to 50% – odds I could not live with.

And so… Friday I’ll be getting my progesterone drawn to see if I’ve ovulated on my own (my period was 14 days ago- if I am, we’ll wait for my period to come. If I’m not, I’ll start progesterone for five days. When I get my period, I’ll start birth control pills for 21 days – go in for BW and U/S, and start stims 3 days later.

He’s starting me at 375 units of Follistim, 75 units of Luveris. Once I start the Ganirelix, this is going to mean 5 shots per day. Awesome.

He doesn’t sound super optimistic, and I’m not either. He and I are both realistic about the fact that nothing with me has gone quite the way we’ve expected. He’s been doing this a long time and has never quite been able to predict what’s going to happen with me, and that … is frustrating, and a little worrisome. I’m beginning to realize that I’m … not the boring PCOS patient I always figured I was.

We did, by the way, talk briefly about the shabbos incident with Dr. Hate. I may write more about it later, but the long and the short of it is that SuperDoc handled it appropriately, and with the care and sensitivity that I needed. He assured me that he would do everything he could to be the doctor who was present for all of my procedures no matter when they are, but that if he can’t be there for whatever reason, he will ensure that whomever is on call will be well-versed ahead of time in what needs to be done to accomodate the religious restrictions that I have on Saturdays, should it come up again. I assured him that I don’t expect him to be at all of my procedures – it’s a big practice, and I know how the practice works – different doctors are on call for procedures on different days, and I know that.

“After all you’ve been through, the least you can expect is that I’ll be there for your procedures. I will always do my best to be there for you,” was SuperDoc’s reply.

Take that all you ridiculous competing clinics out there with your radio commercials calling Ye Olde Fertility Clinic a “revolving door of doctors” – implying that my clinic is impersonal, without contact from individual doctors. Take that!

And this, my friends, is why I love SuperDoc. Why I love my clinic. Why I sing their praises. Why I’m willing to put myself on television and in print media for them. Why I refer patients to them consistently and frequently.

Because they care.

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I had my consult with SuperDoc today; I will write about it more later, but just wanted to say that it happened, I survived, neither of us is super-optimistic, but we have a plan. Plans are good.

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