Friday, March 24, 2017

Bring on the iron!

Hey, guys! How are you?? Great! How am I?

Oh you know, just hanging out in an oncology center for 4 hours! getting an iron infusion to knowck out this anemia.

IV arm is super cold!

I am currently being monitored for allergic reaction after receiving a test dose of the iron. There is a 1 in 100 chance that I could go into anaphylactic shock from the treatment, but only 1 in 1 million chance of that reaction being fatal. Odds not too shabby!

I'm here today after seeing the hematologist yesterday. She prescribed this treatment to give me an iron boost. She feels like just this one infusion should do the trick. In the meantime, my OB will monitor my blood count during the pregnancy; if the transfer is unsuccessful, my hematologist will do the monitoring. I'm hoping the see my OB all the time for the rest of the year!

After I have been monitored for an hour following the test dose, the full 2 hour dose will be administered. It's a long day here but thankfully I'm wearing yoga pants, laptop in tow, and a servant husband who loves me enough to fetch me a Starbucks breakfast. I'll spend my time here blogging, catching up on emails, and parenting my kiddos from the chair...if the IV Benadryl doesn't take me out first. Soooo sleepy...

I'm off to request a heated blanket, and wait warmly on my husband to deliver the goods!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"He'll cancel the cycle!"

You want to know how to strike fear in the hearts of your surrogate and parents? Say "cancel the cycle." 😨 Seriously. That's all it takes. And those words gave me a very stressful past week. Here's what happened...

During a routine blood test for this cycle, results showed my red blood cell count to be lower than optimal. Sounds scary, but just means that I have anemia (literally "lack of blood"). With a low red blood cell count, the body's cells do not receive a sufficient amount of oxygen leading to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, cold hands & feet, etc.

I was diagnosed with this condition as a teenager and had to take iron supplements in my first (and possibly my second - I can't even remember. Hello! It was 17 years ago!) pregnancy. Shortly after, I changed my diet to include more meats and veggies and viola - no anemia! I have spent the last 10+ years anemia free. However, it seems it has temporarily returned thanks to the heavy bleeding I experienced in my cycles last year due to the polyps. The blood loss caused my iron levels to drop and they haven't been rebuilt yet.

I was not concerned about this as I know that anemia is not a pregnancy disqualifier and that it can be managed during a pregnancy. However, my PCP felt differently (I was sent to her to review the labs and begin management for the anemia), and she sent a letter to my fertility doctor stating that in was in her professional opinion that I be "seen by a hematologist for treatment before being cleared to proceed as a surrogate." WHAT!? I was already mid-cycle and preparing for transfer in less than 2 weeks! My head almost exploded! Of course, the fertility clinic called to let me know that the doctor would very likely cancel the cycle if I couldn't get clearance or a second opinion prior to transfer. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

So, I began making phone calls: first to my PCP's office - the doc wouldn't budge there. I then called my OB's office to see if she would look at the labs and offer her opinion. I spent most of the week back and forth with them, but my OB did agree to oversee the management and treatment of my anemia while I underwent a pregnancy. She did not see it necessary to avoid pregnancy (read: cancel the cycle) while treating the anemia. She felt that it was indeed caused by my recent heavy cycles. She did agree that I need to see the hematologist for treatment and to possibly begin iron infusions, but that a clearance was unnecessary.

The fertility doctor agreed with her assessment of the situation, however he did want me to complete a hemoccult kit to rule out any gastrointestinal bleeding. (Anemia can be caused by blood loss, so he wanted to be sure that my cycles were the MOST likely cause.) The text came back negative, as we suspected it would.

With my clinic feeling better about continuing the cycle, we proceeded to the lining check.
AND IT WENT PERFECTLY!! The doctor himself performed the exam, and said my lining was "very thick" at a 15.6-17mm and trilayered. Now, we plan to receive those embryos!

I begin the big progesterone hip shots today, and will begin another round of doxycyline tomorrow. Transfer appointment is set for Monday, March 27th at 11:30a. Despite the stress of the past week (thinking our cycle could possibly get cancelled and jumping through hoops to make sure it didn't!), the situation did end on a very positive note, obviously! On to transfer we go!!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ovaries off, estrogen on!

My ovaries are officially turned off for the remainder of this cycle. My ultrasound last week confirmed that the Lupron is doing its job: my ovaries are suppressed! The side effects have been minimal, thankfully. Only a few hot flashes and headaches to lament over and of course the always-occurring-with-Lupron night sweats. I was able to begin the Estradiol patches as planned on March 9. The re-introduction of the estrogen into my system has all but eliminated the side effects from Lupron, so I'm thankful for that.

This is my first experience with the Estradiol patches. I've read that some women do not get as thick with the transdermal patches, so hopefully I will respond similarly as to avoid lining up too thick as in the past! I began the patches on March 9, placing 2 on my lower abdomen. They are small and I don't really feel them much. They do leave quite a lot of sticky residue on my skin when I have to remove them. A quick rub with baby oil removes that! I will remove the patches every other day and replace with 2 new ones for about a week, then I will remove and add 3 new ones for about 5 days. The day before my lining check - March 20 - I will remove the 3 patches and add 4. I may be running out of room as I am continuing the Lupron injections in my belly as well!

Estradiol Patches!
I'm a bit nervous about the check in light of all the lining troubles I had with my last 2 failed cycles. However I am hopeful that this new estrogen delivery system - the patches - will yield better results. We will find out in a week! 

I have a lot to keep me busy while we wait. Flag football season began last week. My husband and I direct the league, so we have been very busy holding evaluations, organizing teams, and communicating with parents. He is a head coach for our youngest son's team. I am assist coaching alongside him this season. This is a new experience for me but one I am already having so much fun doing! 

I'll check in next week, friends, hopefully with a transfer date!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Shuttin 'em down!

Hi, friends! I'm back with a we-have-the-ball-rolling update!

IM (short for intended mother if I haven't posted that in a bit) received the results from the PGD testing recently. Of the 16 that went for testing, 5 passed the test and are considered healthy and viable. The geneticist graded all embryos as BB, which according to their grading system is one step below an A; these results are completely normal for IM's advanced maternal age and the doc is pleased. And so are we!

The fertility doc has suggested that we prepare for a single embryo transfer, as opposed to a double. He wants to mitigate the risk of multiples for my health as well as the health of the babies. I agree. On we march!

My medications arrived yesterday:

Typical Surro Loot!
These meds are pretty standard and mirror my previous protocols, with one exception. I will be receiving estrogen through a transdermal (through the skin) patch rather than through an oral tablet. Doc believes my body may respond better to this method so that we can avoid overstimulating the lining. I'm curious to see how the results from this protocol.

I began Lupron this morning with the familiar belly stick:

Shutting off the ovaries!
The Lupron shots are administered daily for 2 weeks for the purpose of preventing my ovaries from ovulating. Basically, we are turning off my ovaries, throwing me into a temporary menopausal state. This results in some pretty decent side effects for me: nausea, hot flashes, migraines (these almost kill me!), mild irritability (ha!), and increased sugar cravings. I'll have an ultrasound to confirm ovary suppression on March 7. If I am suppressed, I will begin the estrogen patches to prepare the uterine lining. Right now, we have a proposed transfer of March 27. That's about one month, you guys!! We're ready!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Contracts, Meds, Embies

Wow! It has been nearly a month since I updated! I wish I would have had stuff to update you on, but I have not up until now. I literally have just been waiting for something to happen! Well, something did happen while I was waiting: nearly my whole family got hit with the FLU! My husband brought the germs and apparently we all saw fit to take our share. 4 out of 5 us were taken out! It has been a long 2 weeks but we are finally all well enough to return to school and work. I don't evah want to deal with that nasty mess again! It was brutal!

But now, after all this patient waiting, we are finally able to feel like we are moving forward.

We have finalized contracts as of last week - so if you're following, that's nearly 4 weeks to complete the contract phase. And that's actually quicker than my past contracts!

The clinic had me begin birth control pills (boo!) last week as well in preparation for my medications to begin, which we hope will be in about a week and a half. Of course, this is dependent on when IM receives the PGD results. Her retrieval was about a week ago; she responded to the medications very well and we are waiting on results from 16 embryos! The clinic is very impressed with how well she did and how well the embryos grew, so we are very positive about our chances for success. We are hoping for PGD results in about a 7-10 days. Then, I will begin Lupron for ovary suppression and then on to estrogen to begin building the lining. We don't have a transfer date but I assume we will receive that when I actually begin medications.

It feels good to finally get things rolling with this surrogacy!

I should be checking in a bit more often providing no other illnesses attack our family. Talk to you soon, friends!