Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Peeps Contest Finalists 2010

The Post picks are in! You can view the winner and 37 finalists online.

This should give you an idea of the kind of competition I was up against:

The winner works for a company that designs virtual-reality goggles, and he relied on his experience with 3-D computer modeling to create the basic structure. "I built the house using a computer first, and figured out what kind of pieces I needed to cut out of wood," he says. "Then I just bought plywood, drew the pieces on it and cut them out."

I'm happy to note that of the 1,100 entrants, I did at least get a mention in the article that will be published this Sunday:

"Dozens of dioramas showcased Shaun White's Olympic conquests, while other tiny scenes took their competitive cues from curling and hockey. A slew of dioramas captured the nonathletic exploits of Tiger Woods and Gilbert Arenas. And there was plenty of localized fodder, as well: The Salahis, the record snowfall and the departure of Tai Shan all warranted the Peeps treatment."

There are lots of great entries (some that must have taken 100 hours to complete!).

So which is your favorite?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Excitement in the Air

Tess is getting very excited for the surprise visitor coming to our house!

No, it's not the Easter Bunny. It's a whole lot better than some creepy bunny! Her Dipsy is coming! Or "Dippies" as Tess says.

Every plane we've heard for the past week is Dippies' plane. Tess thinks she spots Dippies driving in cars down the street.

Tess has been carrying around her toy airplane all day because she knows Dippies is coming tomorrow.

On the "big airplane."

From "I-dough."

The big plane goes "zoom."

We'll get Dippies at the airport.

Dippies is going to PLAY with Tess.

We can't wait!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise

Pregancy test #2 today and things are looking good. My HCG level was at 270 mIU/ml on Fri, and they wanted it to double by today.

Today's reading: 800 mIU/ml.

One more test on Wednesday and one more ultrasound.

And then finally back to my regular obgyn as a normal pregnant patient.

Almost there. And then it can begin.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I show up 10 minutes late for church this morning, and Ryan informs me that I was just released from the Relief Society Presidency. Sure, Ryan. Except he says he's not kidding. Sure, Ryan. No, really, he's not. The whole Presidency was released.


"Brother Gray was going to talk to you before church about it, but you weren't here."

But I talked to Brother Gray just yesterday afternoon and he mentioned nothing about it.

Turns out our President & her husband were called on a church service mission, so she was released. The former First Counselor was called as the new President.

News to me. I guess that's what I get for being late to church.

But don't worry, it doesn't mean what you think.

Friday, March 26, 2010


IVF Pregnancy Due Date and Fetal Development Calculator

November 2010


Congratulations, you should be 4 weeks, 3 days, pregnant!

First beta:
March 24, 2010
Singleton Due Date: November 30, 2010
Twins By Ave Gestation: November 08, 2010
Triplets By Ave Gestation: October 12, 2010
Quads By Ave Gestation: October 05, 2010

Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise (PUPO)

March 10, 2010
Embryo Formation
March 16, 2010
Implantation Start
March 20, 2010
Implantation Complete

Trimester Stages

by Development
by Gestation
by Conception
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 18, 2010
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 28, 2010
Begin 2nd Trimester
June 06, 2010
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 31, 2010
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 29, 2010
Begin 3rd Trimester
September 03, 2010

Typical Prenatal Testing Periods




May 04, 2010

May 18, 2010

Nuchal Transluceny

May 11, 2010

May 31, 2010


June 15, 2010

June 29, 2010

Gestational Diabetes

August 10, 2010

September 07, 2010

Approximate Stages of Embryo/Fetal Development

Embryo Development

Cardiac Contraction Begins
April 01, 2010

Limb Buds Forming
April 05, 2010

End Embryo Stage
April 20, 2010

Fetal Development

U/S Heartbeat Detected
April 13, 2010

Brainwaves Begin
April 26, 2010

Essential Structures Complete
May 04, 2010

Movement Begins
June 01, 2010

Fetus May Suck Thumb
July 27, 2010

Maternal Sounds Recognized
August 10, 2010

The News

We got good news from the clinic today, so Ryan gave the go ahead for a home pregnancy test.
I finally get to see a positive one!

Which means this little girl gets to be a big sister.

My heart might burst with joy.

The pregnancy is still in the very early stages. I have to go back Monday and Wednesday for follow-up pregnancy tests to make sure things are progressing properly.

For those in our ward, please refrain from spreading the news this early on. I've had a lot of help, so it's not really a secret we've been trying for this. But I won't be announcing it in Relief Society Good News Minute, if you know what I mean.

Thanks to all for your prayers and support. We are truly blessed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Magic 8-Ball Says...

When Ryan came home from work, he let me know his position on the home pregnancy test pretty clearly.

"You can do what you want, but please keep in mind two considerations:
  1. I don't think you should do it.
  2. If you do it, please don't post the results on the blog."
He stood by his position, even after a long conversation about whether he would want to know if there was another human being growing inside his body.

Apparently he would wait. And it's true--he would. He's never even tempted to open birthday presents early.

Later last night, Ry asked me where I would go to get a pregnancy test.

"The drug store."

"Well, don't you need to get going?"


"What??!! Miriam, do you mean to tell me you ALREADY BOUGHT ONE??!!"

"No, for heaven's sake! I'm not going to do it. You were pretty clear about your position, and you're probably right."

He was genuinely surprised. Geez, am I really that headstrong?

So sorry, Meredith. No sparkle. I'm still as clueless as I was yesterday. Tonight I may be going out to buy a Magic-8 Ball.

Nana & Papa called this morning and offered to take us out to lunch at the mall so I could get my mind off it. We had lunch at Nordstrom's, and Tess met the Easter Bunny, went on a train ride around the mall, and played at the play place. The most entertaining part of the day may have been when Wendy was demonstrating for us her "grandma hobble" when a man with a cane walked up from behind. I don't think he saw her, but she sure straightened up quickly!

Exhortation for the night: Do you know where your goats are?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Losing Patience

OK, this wait is KILLING me. How in the heck can it still only be WEDNESDAY?

I'm considering doing a home pregnancy test, but I'm trying to decide if it will make the wait better or worse.

Here's the scoop on a HPT at this point:

"Performing a pregnancy test within 7 days after the egg collection procedure can result in a false-positive result because of residual HCG after the shot is given to trigger the final maturation of the eggs."

I'm past this point, so I'm not likely to get a false positive.

"In addition, the urine pregnancy test may be spuriously negative if performed less than 14 days after the embryo transfer."

I could get a false negative.

So, if it comes up positive, it's probably accurate. If it's negative, the bloodwork could still show a positive result.

I've never seen a positive pregnancy test.

Tomorrow morning would be the best time to test. Or I could just be patient.

What would you do?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I could fast forward the week to Friday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Do You ZOO Too?

Tess blowing her trunk.
We think she may have been an elephant in a previous life.

Zebras and tigers both have stripes. They are the "same."

Tess was very quick to point out the white monkey on the sign.
Just in case we weren't sure which one we were seeing.

Who's the real monkey in this photo?

Conversing with the burrowing owls. "Whooo-whooo!"

A face only a mother (or Tess) could love.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Little Bit Pregnant

One more week of waiting to go. I've been awaiting March 26th as the next milestone in our journey, but yesterday it occurred to me there is nothing magic about that date. Implantation occurs 1-3 days after a Day 5 transfer. It suddenly dawned on me that right now I'm either pregnant or I'm not.

I shared my thoughts with Ryan. "Well, um... isn't that kind of how it always is? Aren't you always either pregnant or not pregnant?" True. It's not like there's any other option. No such thing as being a little bit pregnant. Every woman is either pregnant or she's not.

But the difference is that for me, I'm always not pregnant. When we're not in the depths of an IVF cycle, I never even wonder if I might be pregnant. I don't think about birth control and I bought my last at-home pregnancy test a long time ago. Because I'm not. Ever. Pregnant.

But right now, as I write this, I'm not necessarily not pregnant. Both options are current possibilities. And if my pregnancy test is positive next Friday, that means I'm pregnant right now.

So, do I feel pregnant? Very much so. But that's because I'm on killer doses of estrogen and progesterone, which mimic all the symptoms of pregnancy. Weight gain, sore breasts, fatigue, moodiness--you name it.

But besides all those symptoms, I've had this strange sensation in my lower right abdomen for several days. The best description I can offer is that it's kind of a tugging, pinching, twitching pinpoint prick. Too small to be called a cramp (though I've had those too). But it's a definite, very localized sensation.

I looked it up online and lots of women claim that's the feeling of implantation. It does kind of feel like something is burrowing. Others say it's just the hormones at work.

I've never seen a positive pregnancy test. You know--where you pee on a stick and see two pink lines. I've had lots of one-line pregnancy tests. I meant to do one after I found out I was pregnant with Tess, just so I could I finally see two pink lines. But once I knew I was pregnant, pink lines weren't that interesting anymore.

An at-home pregnancy test wouldn't do me a lot of good right now, because I have so many hormones coursing through my body, it wouldn't give an accurate result. That means I'll just have to wait until March 26th.

Even though, right now, I am either pregnant or not.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Few of Tess' Least Favorite Things

You already know how Tess feels about these:

Butterflies are a lingering fear. We've been talking about going to the zoo. Tess will tell me all the animals she wants to see and then say: "Butterflies--later."

Well, I have two more items to add to Tess' growing list of irrational fears: flowers and sunshine.

Butterflies, flowers and sunshine are terrifying enough to elicit screams and cries of "I hurt you!" (Which in Tess-speak means, "It's going to hurt me." It's as if the butterfly is directly threatening her, "I'm going to hurt you!!!")

This is a child who loves ghosts, monsters, witches, and skeletons. Funny ones, at least. I was cautious about having her watch Monsters, Inc., but it's one of her favorite shows. "Funny scary monsters."

Flowers--not so funny. We've had a lot of cut flowers in the house lately because I'm anxious for spring. When my first set of tulips started to die off, Tess freaked out. Tulip petals fall off one by one. From her reaction, you would've thought somebody's limbs were falling off. Death screams--she wouldn't even go in the general vicinity of the flowers for fear a petal would fall off and "hurt you!"

Now she's figured out that even fresh flowers will eventually pose a terrifying threat, so she's not so keen on them either. Wendy gave me these beautiful flowers after my procedure, and Tess has been telling me to throw them in the "crashcan" (i.e., "trashcan") from the time I brought them home. A slight browning of the white petals is enough to put her over the edge.

Sunshine--also not funny. We've finally had some beautiful, sunny days, much to Tess' chagrin. She throws a fit every time we venture out into bright light. She buries her head in my legs, covers her face with her arms--anything to block out those cheerful, sunny rays.

"Da light, I hurt you! I hurt you!" I've tried sunglasses and hats, which are a couple more of her least favorite things. It's going to be a long summer.

We are making a little progress though. After being terrified at the sight of her ladybug Halloween costume, Tess has decided that ladybugs are "nice." Because they are "teeny, tiny" (said in a very high voice), have "spots," and "crawl on finger." Sound logic.

Other things that Tess REALLY likes:

"Nummy ife-cream-cone! Cold! Brrr! Sweet! Mine! I do it."

Lunch with Dad in "C.D."

(Though we did stroll the streets of D.C. with Tess' sweater hood
hiding her face from that blasted sun.)

P.S.--This cracked me up. Tess pointed out a large handicap symbol on the side of a van. "Look, Mommy! Change a stinky diaper!"

When your diaper starts looking like that, you know it's time for a change.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roller Coaster

Just got word about the cryo: We have 4 blasts on ice.

We totally weren't expecting that.

Maybe one--but 4?!

I don't know why our transfer doctor thought we might not have any embryos to freeze. Part of the difficulty is that we have a different doctor for every procedure, so it's hard to weigh one doctor's opinion against another.

Up, down, up, down, up, down....

I didn't think to ask about the grading of the embryos, but they had to meet a certain quality standard to qualify for cryopreservation.

It at least takes some of the pressure off this cycle. And it means we never have to do a full IVF cycle again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

IVF Irony #368: No Children Allowed

Shady Grove has a policy of not allowing children in its offices. Even if they conceived the child.

I know they mean well--they're just trying to be sensitive to those without children. But there's a definite irony afoot: the one thing anyone in that office would give anything (e.g., $10,000 + your sanity) for is a child, but heaven forbid one walk through the waiting room door.

Come on--she's living proof that it can work!

So, with one IVF success story behind us and IVF appointments every three days, I've had a lot of help over the past couple months. We have a really great ward, filled with so many good and helpful people. Sometimes I wish I had one really good, best friend. I don't really have that here (I guess that's what Ry's for), but I do have lots of supportive friends who help out in any way I need.

I am thankful for the many helpful hands that have taken care of Tess during my many, many appointments, including Pati Stanford (my ever faithful VT), Sharon Pomeroy, Camille Meservy, Kathleen James, Natalie Christensen, Janelle Esposito, Lisa Haney and Stephanie Demartin.

And of course a BIG thank you to Wendy & Keith who have put in their time as well!

I've had offers of help from many more, and I'll likely have to add to this list because the appointments are not over yet.

Pregnancy test March 26th at 8:30 am.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Blast From the Future (Wendy titled this post.)

Well, it's a done deal. We are proud to announce the transfer of Baby Blast Higginbotham.

This is an actual photo of our blastocyst! I was really surprised when they gave me the picture--they didn't do that with Tess. Yes, I know it's weird. But amazing.
I told you he/she/it would be cuter than those other embryos.

Waiting a couple extra days did the trick, and they were able to determine the best embryo from the lot. The doctor said the best embryo we had is a "1BA" embryo, and there was another close behind it. He said the remaining embryos were slower to develop.

I really don't understand the grading system they use, and they don't do much to educate you about it. Not a lot of info online either. Best I can tell, Grade 1 embryo is the highest, and refers generally to the size and expansion of the embryo. The first letter (A,B, or C) refers to the quality of the inner cell mass (the part of the blastocyst that is going to be the baby) and the second letter (A, B, or C) refers to the quality of the trophectoderm (the part of the blastocyst that is going to be the placenta). Thus, the very highest quality embryo is a 1AA.

The doctor said our embryo looked very good and supported transferring only the one. The remaining embryos will continue to be grown out for a few more days and if any are of high enough quality, they will be frozen for possible future use. The doctor didn't sound really hopeful that any would remain for freezing, but it's hard to tell at this point.

Our appointment yesterday was at 1:oo and we were finished by 1:15. Not at all painful, except they make you drink inordinate amounts of water for the ultrasound. I was ready to cry just so I could release some water. Then they take the ultrasound probe and push down where? Right on your bladder. "Just a little pressure." Oy. At one point the doctor commented, "You have a really full bladder." Really? I had no idea.

I'm on bedrest for 24 hours, so Ry's home watching Tessie today. I'm supposed to take it easy until my pregnancy test on March 26th. No exercise--doctor's orders! Darn.

A few pictures of another cute embryo. We're sure glad she took. Let's hope Baby Blast follows in her footsteps!

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Les" and "Bess"?

Just got to talk to my doctor, who provided some helpful information. She said the reason we are pushed to Day 5 is because we have so many beautiful embryos! We have currently have 5 "Grade 1" embryos--the highest ranking on Shady Grove's system.

In the past couple years, Shady Grove has made great strides in Elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET), which simply means growing embryos to blastocyst stage so only one embryo has to be transferred. This great reduces the risk of triplets and twins.

Shady Grove did an eSET study in 2008 with surprising results: transferring 2 blastocysts does NOT increase the chance of pregnancy--it actually slightly reduces the chance of pregnancy. However, transferring 2 greatly increases the chance of twins.

IVF Using Own Eggs

IVF Using Donor Eggs

# of Blastocyst

Blast eSET

2 Blast ET

Blast eSET

2 Blast ET

# of Transfers





% Preg/ET





% Multiples





% Multiples





"By electing to transfer one blastocyst instead of two in patients with good prognosis, our data demonstrates that twin pregnancy, with its greater risk to mother and infants, can be nearly eliminated without compromising pregnancy success rates."

So, transfer 1, chance of pregnancy is 61%. Transfer 2, chance of pregnancy is 59%.

Transfer 1, chance of twins is 2%. Transfer 2, chance of twins is 43%.

Assuming the embryos still look good on Sunday, my doctor recommends transferring only 1 embryo. Whew!

I haven't done a poll for a while, so I'll pose the question to you: transfer 1 or transfer 2?

Not that we'll really listen to what you have to say. That is, unless you can come up with some really cute twin names.

I'm thinking "Wes" and "Jess."


A little more waiting. Transfer now pushed back to Sunday--Day 5. This means a blastocyst transfer:

"A blastocyst is an embryo which has developed to the point of having 2 different cell components and a fluid cavity. Human embryos, in culture in an IVF lab, or developing naturally in the female body, usually reach the blastocyst stage by day 5 after fertilization. Blastocyst transfer can give high pregnancy success rates with low risk of multiples."

I'm praying for a Grade AAA super-blast so they'll only have to implant one!

(Feel free to add that to your prayers.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To implant or not to implant: that is the question

As of today's report all 9 of the embryos are still off and running. Unbelievable!

So does this mean I get a clear answer as to the next step? Of course not--don't be ridiculous!

My nurse said I'm scheduled to come in tomorrow (day 3) for transfer at 4:15 pm--the last slot of the day. She said when they give you the last slot, it typically means the doctor wants to wait a little longer to see how the embryos are going to develop. My nurse said they will call again tomorrow morning, and there's a good chance it will be postponed until Sunday (day 5).

So I'm scheduled to get pregnant tomorrow, but it may or may not happen.

She gave me some info on the embryos at this point. At day 2, it's ideal for an embryo to have divided into 4 cells of similar size and have no fragmentation. (Exactly what all this means, I can't tell you).

OK, I can't tell you what it means, but I can look it up: "Fragmentation, also called blebbing, is a process where portions of the embryo's cells have broken off and are now separate from the nucleated portion of the cell. It is preferable to have little or no fragmentation. However, fragmentation in human embryos is quite common and many beautiful babies have resulted from implantation of embryos with fragments."

4-cell embryo at Day 2

So here's the Day 2 rundown on the Higginbotham Embryos:
  • 3 embryos are at the 4-cell stage with no fragmentation (the best candidates)
  • 1 embryo is at 4-cell stage, with some unevenness in the cells
  • 1 embryo is at the 3-cell stage
  • 1 embryo is at the 3-cell stage with fragmentation
  • 2 are at the 2-cell stage
  • 1 is at the 2-cell stage with a tiny bit of fragmentation
My best understanding is that they are leaning towards the embryos in the first category. It's best to implant sooner rather than later, but I think they want to make sure they have the strongest candidates.

Now the big question: How many embryos to implant? I get to discuss that with the doctor tomorrow morning. 2 embryos at day 5 = fairly good chance of twins. Not the ideal outcome.

I'm getting a little nervous.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And Then There Were...9!

News today from the clinic:
  • Of the 13 eggs retrieved yesterday, 9 were mature
  • All 9 of the mature eggs fertilized
  • All 9 are still viable & growing as of this point
Absolutely amazing! Last time at this point we had 3 embryos.

This is not one of our embryos. Ours are undoubtedly much cuter.

Picture of IVF embryo - this is a fertilized human egg (also called oocyte).
This is seen the morning after an IVF egg retrieval when we check the eggs for signs of fertilization.
Male and female genetic material (DNA) are contained in the 2 pronuclei seen in the center of the photo

We'll get another update tomorrow, and they'll tell us whether we transfer on day 3 (Friday) or day 5 (Sunday). If we have a good number still growing, we may be going in on Sunday.

And I was supposed to talk in Sacrament Meeting this Sunday. Good thing I postponed it!

We need all your prayers and good thoughts, so keep them coming!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Egg-cellent Day (Ryan titled this post)

Egg retrieval went very well this morning. We dropped off Tess with Nana & Papa about 7:30 am and we were at the Rockville, MD office by 8:45. I was in the operating room at exactly 10:15 am. I did well with the IV sedation--was out like a light in a jiffy and I don't remember a thing.

The doctor retrieved 13 eggs, which is very good for me. Last time they were only able to retrieve 8 eggs. I'm not sure about the maturity and quality of them all, but we'll see how things go.

Right now our cells are cozied up in the petri nursery, hopefully undergoing the initial stages of embryonic cell division. We get a call tomorrow afternoon to let us know how many have fertilized. Ryan was kidding that we should go visit them in the nursery. "Awww, isn't he/she/it so cute? He/she/it has your nucleus!"

The doctor will make a decision on Thursday about whether to transfer them on day 3 or day 5. This depends on how easy it is to tell which are strongest embryos to implant. If there are lots that are doing well, they let them grow in vitro a couple more days to see if they can identify the strongest contenders. If it's clear on day 3 which are the strongest, then they go ahead and transfer on day 3.

My guess is that we'll have a day 3 transfer, which is what they did last time. That puts us back for transfer on Friday.

I'm feeling a little tired & sore, but otherwise I'm doing pretty well. I'm seriously thankful that the hardest part is over. Now it's just a waiting game.

I'm curious to see what the future has in store.

Monday, March 8, 2010


is in the air!

We can almost taste it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Going There

When I was driving home from my appointment this morning, I asked Heavenly Father how much longer this was going take. I got the distinct feeling that He has been asking me the same question.

I've done a good job of holding it together during this process. I have not had the same feelings of fear and desperation that I experienced last time around. I've told myself that's because they weren't there. We have Tess. I'm a mom. Ryan's a dad. We're a family. That makes a world of difference.

So there's no need to fall apart over it. It's a medical procedure. Not even a really serious medical procedure. Not chemo or a kidney transplant or heart surgery. Get it done. If it works, great. If not, then well, OK.

During our Relief Society lesson today, we were talking about the Creation and how we had to come to earth to gain experience and progress to be like our Father in Heaven. Here's the question I raised: "We know that in premortal life we reached the maximum point of our progression, so we had to come to earth to progress further. What is it about mortal trials that helps us become like Heavenly Father? I mean really. We all have different ones, but what's so great about these earthly trials? We all have different trials: Losing a job. Miscarriage. Financial strain. Divorce. Car breaks down. What do any of things have to do with progression--becoming like Heavenly Father?"

It's something I've thought about--not lately, though. I've made a pretty concerted effort to numb it all out and avoid thinking about it. Because I know the answer. I learned it last time around, and I had to go to a pretty dark and excruciating place before I learned it. I've done all I can to avoid revisiting it.

But the answer and truth of the matter is that progression comes through trials only when you reach that really dark place and realize you just can't do it on your own. It's bigger than you, and no matter how capable you are or how hard to try, you just can't do it without help. And Christ and His atonement is the only help encompassing enough to pull you through it. You have to have enough faith to turn it over to Him.

If there's anything infertility and IVF will teach you, it's that you have no control. Numbers of eggs, size of follicles, hormone levels, uterine lining--I have no control. I have to hand it over to Him. Is there more to our family than just us 3? I don't know. I have no control--I have to hand it over to Him. If it is just us 3--are we enough? I have to hand it over to Him.

OK, I've gone there. I'm crying and sick and my head is pounding and I know I don't have it all together and I can't do it on my own. I'm handing it over.

The phone just rang. We trigger tonight for retrieval on Tuesday morning at 10:15.

Ripe For the Plucking

Back from my appointment this morning. I'm a little tired of analyzing it all. The big follicles grew a lot, the smaller follicles grew a little. The biggest ones are now at 23 and 22.5. Ginormous.

Hopefully we'll trigger today. Because I'm out of meds. And I'm uncomfortable. Overripe.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ready, Aim...Wait.

Just got the call. Doctor wants to push the smaller follicles. One more day of meds. Appointment again tomorrow morning. Then we'll see.

Time for pie.

Trigger Happy

Good news from my appointment this morning: I think we're finally ready!

My doctor kept me on the meds for a couple more days with the hope that a few more of the smaller follicles would catch up in size.

Mature follicles are 16-20 mm in size. I now have 6 follicles about that size, and 4 smaller ones. That's still on the on the low end for an ideal IVF cycle, but that's pretty good for me. Last time around they harvested 8 eggs. I had another 300 unit Gonal-f shot before my appointment, so I may still have a little more growth.

So just how big is a 20 mm egg? In my mind, I've been thinking that we're dealing with pretty tiny cells. I was surprised when I whipped out my tape measure! A 20 mm egg is about the size of my fingertip. That's no small potatoes!

Cram a number of them together and it's no wonder I can't zip my jeans. Well, I know it also has something to do with all the crap I've been eating lately. All rules have been completely thrown out the window. Right now in my house I have Hershey's kisses, ice cream, chocolate chips and a blueberry pie. Seriously. It's been bad. Really bad.

I'll start eating healthy again once I find out I'm pregnant, because this junk isn't good for me or a baby. Or once I find out I'm not pregnant, and I can really work on losing weight. Does this make any sense at all? No. Am I eating for comfort because I'm stressed? Yes. Am I gaining tons of weight? Yes. Is this a healthy coping mechanism? No. Do I care? No. Nope. Not at all. I just want it over with.

And we're almost there! I'll get a confirmation call this afternoon once they run my bloodwork, but they're anticipating that my "trigger" shot will be tonight, with retrieval on Monday! ONE last shot!

But boy, is it a doozy of shot! This shot "triggers" the eggs into final maturation and has to be timed exactly 36 hours before retrieval. It is an intramuscular shot in the hip, which means the needle is a beast:

I get a little queasy when I look at it. Wish Ryan luck.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Serenity Now

I'm now scheduled for shots through day 11. Standard protocol is 8 days.
I'm running out of room in my sharps disposal container.

I really don't want to waste another minute of my life recounting the stupid minutiae that has characterized the past two days. I've already wasted WAY too much time and energy doing jobs that I'm paying my insurance company and doctor to do. It's an incredibly boring story. But since it's all part of the process, I'll try and do a quick recounting.

OK--so I'm on a hugely high dose of meds, so that means I need more medication. I raise that issue with my nurse (which is something SHE should have done), and she says, "No problem, you have refills on your meds. Just order them from the pharmacy."

Aetna requires me to use their "Specialty Pharmacy," which is a home delivery system. They specialize in providing over-night delivery of injectable drugs for infertility, cancer patients, etc.

OK--so I call the pharmacy Monday afternoon to reorder my meds. They say the order will be processed on Tues. and delivered on Wed. Someone has to be home to sign for the delivery on Wed. Sounds good--I'll need my meds on Wed.

So I spend all day Wed. at home waiting for the UPS truck. By 2:00 pm, still no meds. There's still time for it to come, but I just have that feeling....

So I call the pharmacy. "Oh yes, that order has not been processed yet. We can't process it without authorization from your doctor's office. We have called and left them several messages, but we haven't heard back. We can't process the order without that authorization."

"And why the &*%$! didn't anyone tell me that you still needed authorization? I've sitting at home all day waiting for an order that hasn't even been processed yet? And I need meds--TODAY!"

"Usually it's not a big deal and doctors respond very quickly to these requests. We called and left several messages with your REALLY OUT OF DATE cell phone number that you DID NOT give us as your primary number. Because you NEVER give your cell phone as your primary number. And we have your HOME PHONE as a secondary number, but we didn't bother trying that number, even though that's the number we've used to contact you in the past." (OK--that's not exactly how the conversation went, but I'm getting sick of this.)

So, I call the doctor's office.

Nurse: "Oh, we gave them that authorization in January when we started the cycle, so it's not my fault, even though I didn't know I had to send an authorization every time I up your meds. That's not unusual protocol, but I've never heard of that before so it's not my fault, even though you're paying my office for our expertise in coordinating infertility benefits. We faxed in the authorization today, so you should be good to go. Come into the office today and I'll give you sample meds to hold you over until your meds get here.

"Oh, and come in for an appointment tomorrow morning that you don't need to come in for. The doctor will look at you like you're crazy and say, 'What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here until Fri."

I call the pharmacy again. "It can take up to 24 hours for our system to show that the authorization has been sent. But don't worry. As long as it was sent today, we can process the order Thurs. for delivery on Fri. We can give you a confirmation call once we receive the authorization."

Fast forward really slowly to Thurs. about noon. Still no confirmation call from the pharmacy. So another call to the pharmacy.

"We don't have any record of your order WHATSOEVER!"

20 minutes later: "Oops, sorry, we put that order under your husband's name. That's why I asked if you have another name."


Ok, so they found the order, but they STILL DON'T HAVE THE AUTHORIZATION.

"We never received the fax that your doctor's office supposedly sent yesterday. We can't process your order without the proper authorization. It is the patient's responsibility, not ours, to obtain doctor's authorization."

Call to the doctor's office: "What the *#()*@! is going on?"

Call back from the nurse: "This is NOT our fault. This is the pharmacy's fault. We have confirmation of our fax from yesterday. We've been on the phone with them for the past 1 1/2 hours; we refaxed the authorization and have confirmation that someone there has received it. They should call you with confirmation that your order has been processed. But don't stress it. Stress really isn't good when you're trying to conceive. Relax--we can get you sample meds if needed. Oh, and you need to come in Sat. for your next appointment."

Me: "Are you sure about that because I wasn't supposed to come in for an appointment this morning."

Nurse: "What do you mean? You come in on day 8 and every day after that. That's what it said in the chart. I'm just following doctor's orders."

Hang up.

Nurse calls back in 10 minutes.

"I'm really sorry about how abrupt I was with you on the phone. I've been really stressed about this insurance situation and I took it out on you. This shouldn't be a stressful time for you. I checked your chart and I was wrong. You weren't supposed to come in today. That was my fault. What else have I done to make this a miserable experience for you?"

Long story long--meds are supposed to be coming today. But it's 10:00 and still no delivery. Am I paranoid, or should I call?

I think I see the UPS truck now.

IVF Irony # I've lost count: Did you catch the brand name of that needle in the sharps container? "Ultra Comfort."

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I want to scream and smash something.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Better News!

My appointment this morning confirmed that the follicles are growing now at a good rate. I say "confirmed" because I didn't need an ultrasound to tell me that I'm carrying around a few bowling balls in my ovaries. It's a weird feeling.

I have one follicle at 16 and one at 14, so I'm getting close to where I need to be.

I'll get my dosing instructions this afternoon when the bloodwork comes back.

Then another appointment tomorrow.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

If that news isn't enough to brighten your day, here's some archival video that should put a smile on your face.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What We Learned On Our Museum Trip

Today we went with some friends to this butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum in D.C. I'm always surprised what I learn on a good museum trip. Today was no exception!

Here's a sampling of what we learned today:
  • A great option for daytime trips to D.C. is to park at the Pentagon City mall. It's a short trip on Metro into the city, and you can shop a little afterward for free parking validation.
  • Taking the Metro takes longer, but it will be the highlight of the trip. Especially if the "choo-choo train" goes in a tunnel and on a bridge over water.

  • If you forget to hold on tight while taking a picture on the Metro, you're likely to end up in a stranger's lap, looking like an embarrassed tourist.
  • Elevators in D.C. are hard to come by. The ones that exist are not meant for 5 moms, 5 strollers and 7 kids.
  • Taking a stroller on a mile-high escalator is easier than it looks.
  • Many stone-faced, serious-looking District folk become softies when they encounter a toddler-stroller parade.
  • Tess is deathly afraid of butterflies.

  • Tess isn't the only one who finds flying butterflies a bit disconcerting.

  • It's easier to be brave with a good friend nearby. At least for a little while.

So, we didn't learn a whole lot about butterflies, but the trip was definitely educational. And a fun adventure!