Monday, November 22, 2010

IVF Dilemma

Had trouble sleeping last night.  I woke up tossing and turning in the middle of the night, and it took me an hour or so to fall back asleep.

It might have to do with the fact that I started reading a book last night called Everything Conceivable, about assisted reproductive technology (ART), how it is changing the reproductive landscape, how it's challenging our concept of family and biological ties, and the moral and ethical implications associated with ART.

For those of you just catching up, due to our (so-far) diagnosis of male factor infertility, it's looking like we may need to go directly to IVF with ICSI.  This has not been confirmed by our RE, but based on my reading on the subject, that's my guess.

Anyway, I skipped over a few chapters, and jumped over to the one about male infertility, and was shocked by what I read.  Because ICSI (where they directly shoot a sperm into the egg to fertilize it) is so new -- it was developed in the early 1990s -- it's largely untested.  There's a chance that the men being fathered by these infertile men getting pregnant via IVF with ICSI, will themselves be infertile.  The sperm that are being harvested from these infertile men may contain faulty genetic code.  Mother Nature has made it hard to impossible for infertile men to impregnate their partners for a reason -- namely, she does not want them to pass along this bad genetic code to future generations.  By using reproductive techniques to force Mother Nature's hand, humans are in essence tinkering with her good order.

I gotta admit -- that one hurt to hear.  It seems that the book is implying that when Mother Nature kicks you in the nuts, you should grit your teeth and take it, or else we run the risk of perpetuating infertility until the entire world is infertile in 10,000 years, according to the author's estimation.

That was the first thing that bothered me, and made me think.  Infertility has been a tough one to swallow.  The thought of passing that along to my potential children is even tougher to swallow.  I wouldn't wish infertility on my worst enemy, let alone my own hard-won child or children.

The second thing about the book that made me think was the fact that there are so many moral and ethical complications that arise from IVF.  What do you do with left-over embryos once you and your partner have created the family you wanted from IVF?  Do you freeze them?  Do you toss them?  Do you go back for more IVF until you use up all of your embryos and potentially end up with 7 children and a wad of debt?  Do you put them up for adoption?  If you put them up for adoption, could you live with the fact that a stranger may one day be raising your biological child, and the biological sibling of your children?  What if you and/or your partner dies, where do they go?  What if you do genetic testing and find that one may be carrying a defect (and I underscore "may" because it's not definite)?  Do you destroy that embryo, or do you give it a chance and let God decide what happens?

The alternative is that IVF will fail, and you will end up using up all of your frozen embryos in your pursuit of a successful pregnancy.  But that alternative stinks too.

This is what kept me tossing and turning all night.

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.  All I know is that I really want a child, a biological child.  But I'm scared that in my pursuit of one, I will neglect the principles that I stand for in order to get there.  I wish the bible had some clearer guidance on IVF.

A lot of you guys are either doing IVF or considering it.  What are your thoughts on the subject?  What are your plans?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Don't Want To Read Too Much Into It

Went out for dinner Friday night with my husband.  This is what our fortune cookies said:

"Difficulty at the beginning usually means ease at the end."

"A thrilling time is in store for you."

I don't believe in fortune telling or astrology, but my husband and I still got a kick out of these.

Tomorrow or Tuesday (probably Tuesday), we hear the results of my husband's second semen analysis.  Not holding out too much hope that this S/A will be very different from the first S/A, but still anxious to hear the outcome.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Because You Can't Be All Doom and Gloom... I just had to share this funny story.

Our RE told us to use OPKs this month to confirm I'm ovulating, and to call the first day I get a positive test.  Well, the kits I had instructs you to go without peeing for a minimum of 4 hours before testing...which if you think about it, is a freaking long time!

So I didn't go all afternoon, and when I came home, I raced upstairs to take my test.

It's negative, which is kind of weird since my boobs started getting sore yesterday, which is very early for me prior to ovulation.  (It's normal for my breasts to get sore around the time I ovulate.)  Guess I'll just keep testing.  (And no, I'm not pregnant because my temp is low, and I had my period last cycle.)

Anyway, there you go!  A little infertility humor to get us through our days!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

S/A - Not So Good

We got the results back from my husband's S/A.  It's not good.

Count - 6 million (normal is >20 million)
Motility - 6% (normal is >50%)
Morphology - 3% (normal is >14%)

I guess I was right.  I'm sad I am though.

I'm doing much better than anticipated because I've mentally prepared myself for the worst.  He's not doing very well right now because he hasn't.

Our blood work came back normal, as in no STDs.  However, we're still waiting on results from genetic testing.  I also still need to do my Day 3 blood work to test FSH levels, plus the HSG.  That will be early December.  Before then, my husband is going back in on Friday to do another S/A in case these results were a random fluke.  I'm not holding my breath.

I don't want to jump the gun without knowing where I stand, but I'm wondering if we're not a good candidate for IUI based on my husband's S/A.  We may need to skip the line to IVF.


On a positive note -- and I'm trying to be as positive as possible given the dismal forecast -- there ARE viable sperm.

Please pray for us right now. I think it's safe to say that we are officially infertile.  Woo.  Pray for strength and trust in the Lord's sovereign plan for our lives.  Also, please pray for a miracle, that maybe this sperm sample was a random bad lot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

S/A and Consultation with Chinese Doctor

I feel like I should qualify the outburst in my last post.  I was feeling particularly down that day (obviously).  I couldn't figure out why that might be.  Then it occurred to me that the doctor's visit and testing has been stressing me out more than I realized.  I guess I had to get it out.

So these past few days have been event-filled.  On Sunday, my mom took me to an acupuncturist/herbalist for a consultation.  This doctor is a friend of hers, and did this as a favor.  She looked at my recent BBT charts, and said that barring any major issues (low/no sperm count or blocked tubes), it looks like the issue is a hormonal one on my part.  Because my cycles tend to be long, with a long build-up to ovulation (typically 3 weeks instead of 2 from CD 1 until day of ovulation), it's my estrogen levels that are the problem.

She recommended that I try taking a Chinese medicine that typically treats women with menstrual or fertility issues.  It's a good general medication until I can find someone who can prescribe specific herbs for my situation.  It's called Baifeng Wan.  My grandmother said back in her day, many women in China/Taiwan would take Baifeng Wan if they were having problems getting pregnant, and they were able to get pregnant this way.  My mom has taken it before for menstrual pain (she never had fertility problems).  The acupuncturist takes it now for general women's health.  I'm thinking of making a trip to my local Chinatown to pick some up.  It's supposedly about $60 for a month's supply, which if you ask me, beats the cost of IVF/IUI/acupuncture.

Interestingly enough, my mom and the acupuncturist said that the best thing to do was to take Chinese herbal medications to treat the issue.  Acupuncture is good to do with the herbal therapy, but it's slow working.  Basically, it's the meds that are gonna get you knocked up fast.

I am so, so hopeful that this might be what I need.  I am of Chinese heritage, so I do believe that there is something to TCM.  My husband is Caucasian, and he's a major skeptic.  It's been a major clashing point for us in this whole TTC journey.  We've basically adopted a don't ask don't tell policy regarding my investigation and pursuit of TCM treatment.

Yesterday, my husband went in for his S/A (semen analysis).  I'm hoping we'll hear the results tomorrow.  He produced his sample at the clinic.  I asked him not to use the magazines unless he was in dire straits. :)  He confirmed that he didn't...haha.  I think he's very nervous about the results.  I hope that for his sake and mine, the results will be normal.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feeling Sad Today

Sometimes I get eaten up by jealousy towards other women who seem to get pregnant so easily.  It tears me up inside.  I feel such a deep sense of failure and loss at not being able to achieve what some people achieve so easily.  It makes it hard for me to be around my friends, my good friends, who are pregnant or have children.  Next to them, I feel like a huge failure.  I feel empty and lost.

My whole life, I've pictured children and a family as my ultimate goal.  But what if I'm never able to have children?  I am not ready to wander the wilderness of infertility.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First RE Appointment Wrap-Up

Today was my first RE consultation, and it went pretty well!  I left the office feeling hopeful.  The doctor was a bit of a quick-talker, but he instilled a lot of confidence in both my husband and me that we are young, healthy and should really have no issues.  Part of me wants desperately to believe him, but the other part wonders if that's the case, then why aren't we pregnant yet?

His main concern was not actually with my husband, as I had suspected, but with me and the fact that my cycles are long (~35 days), which makes it hard to guess when I'm ovulating.

The plan is to do diagnostic testing and then re-group.  Today, both my husband and me did some bloodwork.  I also had a vaginal ultrasound to check out my uterus and ovaries -- everything looked great, according to the doc, and you could see some follicles as well -- he counted 8-10 of them per ovary.  Lining looked good too.

Next step is for hubby to get a semen analysis, which is scheduled for Monday.  Then I have to get an HSG test (the dreaded dye test...UGH).  Today, being Day 10 of my cycle, was the last day that I could get the test done during this cycle.  Since it was only decided today that I should get the test, it was too late to schedule an appointment, so it's looking like it will happen during my next cycle, at the beginning of December.  I'm fine with that.  I've heard so much about this test, and how painful it is that I'm not looking forward to it.  I'm hoping that I'll get pregnant this cycle, and be able to skip this step altogether.  On the flip side, I'm trying to look at the positive side of this test.  I've heard that sometimes the HSG can actually clear up minor mucus blockages, or at least clear out the passageways, and that some women get pregnant right after this test.  Hey -- whatever works!

When I told the doc that I have been charting, he told me to stop doing that.  It can be hit or miss, and it's just onerous.  I'm glad he said that because I'd basically come to the same conclusion a couple of months ago, and that I needed to stop in order to preserve my sanity during this whole process.  He actually recommended that we just use OPKs, and on the first day that we get a positive test, BD that day and two days after that.  Sounds like a plan to me.  We'll see if it works.

During our visit, the doctor also mentioned that if nothing is majorly wrong, and we wanted to kick start conception, then I could go on Clomid, get a trigger shot to ovulate and either we just kick it ol'school style or they could do IUI.  He said that their success rate is 89% of healthy couples become pregnant within 3 cycles.  That sounds like an usually high success rate.  I don't know.  I guess we have to determine whether or not we're both healthy first.

Anyway, overall, it was a good visit, and I'm feeling more optimistic.  Still hoping that we'll get our BFP, and that I can just be done with this whole business.  Call me pessimistic, but I just have a sinking feeling deep down that we won't get off that scott free.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tomorrow's RE Appointment is Almost Here!

The big RE appointment is tomorrow morning!  Very excited.  I'm also nervous.  The appointment is at 8am, and then I go into work.  I simply told my co-workers that I would be a little late coming in.  I am hoping that the appointment is not too upsetting.  I don't want to be a wreck going into work.

Hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

D-Day Is Near

Our first appointment with the RE is this Wednesday morning.  We're putting together all of the paperwork with our medical history.  The plan is to fax it all over to him on Monday morning, so that he can read through it, and be prepared for our consultation.  Over the past few days, the hubby and I have had to some uncomfortable conversations with our parents about their reproductive history, and the family's reproductive history.  AWK-WARD.

As we were doing all of this, my husband casually mentions that during college, his doctors had discovered a cyst on one of his testicles.  You couldn't have mentioned this a little sooner?  Which just goes to support my theory that maybe it's not me, it's you.  He said that at the time, he asked if the cyst would affect his future fertility, and they told him not to worry about it.  However, these things change over time, so you never know.  I think he's a bit worried about it now, and plans to make an appointment with a urologist.  I am trying not to make him feel any worse than he may already feel, but I can't help feeling a little miffed that this didn't come up a little sooner.

So this all definitely puts a kink in the calmness I've been experiencing these past couple of months (save for a few rough patches).  However, I hope that this will pass soon enough.  Just needed to vent a little bit, which is what this blog is all about, right?

Switching gears to a lighter note, I'm expecting to ovulate right before Thanksgiving this month.  We're planning to spend the holidays with my in-laws.  My sister-in-law and her husband will probably be there at some point as well.  So we're trying to subtly figure out what people's schedules are like, and when we want to go down there because we know we'll have to be BD'ing at some point that week.  Don't want the hubby to get performance anxiety knowing his parents and sister are lurking around in the house.  Tee hee.

Honestly?  (Going back to the upcoming RE appointment.)  I'm really nervous about.  I haven't admitted it to myself until now.  He could be the bearer of some major news, and I'm scared.  If you have a spare moment, could you say a prayer for me?