Countdown to FET: 8 Days to Go ~ Reminiscing

We are getting closer to the transfer date everyday.  I cannot believe it is only 8 days away!  I am actually feeling very well on the drugs and feeling optimistic about this transfer.  

This time around things haven't gone perfectly but if this transfer works this will be a walk in the park compared what we went through to have our first son.  I think this transfer will work because I truly believe Dr. Braverman is the reason I was able to carry my son to term.  I have gotten pregnant with every FET we have done where we used ICSI so I expect that I will have a positive beta and I also expect that with Dr. Braveran's treatment I will then go on to carry to term again.  That will be two times in a row. 

I thought tonight I would share a little bit about our first and only frozen embryo transfer that worked.

Reproductive immunology is the medicine Dr. Braverman practices.  Before working with Dr. Braverman, our doctor at our last fertility clinic told us that he did not "believe" in reproductive immunology.  He belittled it and dismissed it. Then after two miscarriages, of genetically normal tested embryos, our doctor said "maybe" I am in the two percent that could benefit from reproductive immunology.  This was frustrating because this was very different that what we were originally told.  So we asked if he would work with Dr. Braverman.  He SAID yes.  But, then he never called us back.  This was after we spent around $35,000 there and had two miscarriages with him.  So, we decided to take the last genetically tested embryo we had left and transfer it to Dr. Braverman.

What we were able to do is totally fascinating to me.  We picked up a nitrogen tank from Dr. Braverman's lab and took it to our old clinic.  The embryologist put the last embryo on ice, as terrible thoughts went through my head about what they could be doing to my one last embryo (obviously they took good care of the embryo because it resulted in an amazing baby boy) but I worried, I did.  Then we drove my son as just a blastocyst (a few cells, maybe 100) about 10 NYC streets and a few avenues to Dr. Braverman's lab where we left it until we were ready to do his transfer a couple months later.

That's my baby!  Just a frozen blast taking it's first ride through Manhattan.

That's my baby!  Just a frozen blast taking it's first ride through Manhattan.

I was so filled with hope AND so much uncertainty.  I really felt this was our last chance because after two miscarriages and so many hurdles we were financially and emotionally drained.  Also, the drugs from Dr. Braverman's protocol were just totally brutal and I couldn't imagine trying again.  

But, what Dr. Braverman did for us worked.  And we are forever grateful.  And I am still upset at how many of the other doctors dismissed this treatment and allowed us to miscarry.  But, we are the lucky ones.  

Many women who could be helped by Dr. Braverman continue to be discouraged by doctors who are not up to date on the research in this field and continue to dismiss something that could help their patients.  So, these women who do not leave these outdated reproductive endocrinologists continue to have miscarriages and sometimes are never are able to carry the biological child they so want to have.  They turn to donor eggs, surrogacy, adoption or don't have children at all.  I hope they all have found happiness one way or another.  But, part of why I am writing this blog is to get the word out that there is a doctor who treats recurrent miscarriages and reproductive immune issues and there is hope for women who are going through this struggle.  

There is legitimate science behind this treatment and Dr. Braverman has great success with some of the hardest cases doing what he does.  Of course, he is not the right doctor for everyone.  But, it's so important for the women he may be able to help to learn that he is there and what he does works.

Now, of course we never know 100% what really happened and what caused my success. There is always a level of uncertainty - really with everything in life.  I am sure reproductive endocrinologists at, what their PR agencies claim are, top fertility centers are going to argue that I just got lucky.  Or as my old doctor said - well sometimes people just get pregnant. But, if this second transfer works and I am 2 for 2 with Dr. Braverman, and 0 for 2 with them I think that will say a lot.

I also know many others who have had multiple miscarriages, many more than I have had, who had success with Dr. Braverman.  Many on the first try. I actually am compiling a list of success stories from people I have met in person and online - so keep a look out for that if you are interested.  One story is from  a women who had 20 miscarriages prior to going to Dr. Braverman and first try with him she had success.  She is now pregnant with her second!

 

 

Countdown to FET: 10 Days to Go and My Lining is "Perfect"

So, I left my house in CT at 7 am this morning and arrived to my appointment at 945!  That was a long traffic filled trip to Manhattan and I was 45 minutes late.  The office was great about it and got me in very quickly.  The most amazing thing about the appointment was that Dr. Vidali said that my lining was perfect!  And what's even better is that I don't have to go back in Monday to monitor the lining. Yay!

And, I cannot believe I only have 10 days left until my transfer.  Feeling super optimistic and Counting down the days!

 

Prednisone: A Love & Hate Story

I just started prednisone.  I have a love/hate relationship with this drug.  I feel confident that the high dose of prednisone is what helped me hold on to the pregnancy with my son.  It also helps with symptoms of inflammation that I generally am plagued with.  So on prednisone, I have more energy, better digestion and less aches and pains. It also is said to keep pregnancy nausea at bay and my nausea during my pregnancy with my son was mild. All amazing things.  The best side effect of the drug is the successful pregnancy - of course!  So what's not to like?!

Last pregnancy, the negative side effects of prednisone for me included:

  • irritability (my husband complains he has a pregnant wife - ON STEROIDS)
  • excess facial hair (nothing a full face wax didn't fix!)
  • insomnia
  • excruciating knee pain (I have a rare side effect to prednisone.  After about two and a half months on 40 mgs of prednisone, I wake up with excruciating knee pain.  My knees cramp up and I cannot walk. The pain level is 10/10 and comes in waves.  After this happens, my dose has to be lowered to 20 mgs.)
  • non-stop hunger
  • Weight gain
  • MOON FACE: This is the worst.  There is no room for vanity on this journey!  That's for sure.  See picture below.
The left is me on 40 mgs of prednisone in early pregnancy with my son.  The right is a recent photo.

The left is me on 40 mgs of prednisone in early pregnancy with my son.  The right is a recent photo.

 

There is nothing hot about prednisone.  But, having a baby is pretty awesome, so here we go again!

New Target Transfer Date

So it is getting closer!  It's getting very exciting!  I started taking a lot of new drugs yesterday, Saturday.  Also, in other exciting news my husband gave me a shot of estrogen in the rear,  and I started prednisone and lovenox.  So, it was a three  shot day (estrogen, lovenox (it burns) and lupron).

The new transfer date is January 22, 2018.  

Below is what yourduedate.com said when I entered my transfer date along with my responses:

  • Conception will likely take place around january 17, 2018.
    • Wrong conception took place in October in a lab...
  • Take a pregnancy test on february 03, 2018 to confirm.
    • I will be taking a million pregnancy tests WAY before then.
  • The baby will be born during autumn.
    • COOL
  • You are in the first trimester.
    • ALREADY!  And the baby is on ice in Manhattan right now!
  • The first trimester began on january 03, 2018.
    • I am 5 days pregnant!!  And the baby is on ice in Manhattan right now!
  • The second trimester (weeks 13-27) begins on april 04, 2018.
    • Can't wait for April and that lemon size fetus to be in my uterus!
  • The third trimester (weeks 28-40) begins on july 18, 2018.
    • BABY MOON!
  • Your safe range to give birth: september 19, 2018 to october 24, 2018 (full term)
    • Fun fact: This baby boy could be born on his mommy's (10/17) or daddy's (9/25) birthday

 

 

Hysteroscopy: All Clear

 Dr. Braverman really is turning over every rock to make sure this transfer works.  Yesterday, I had a hysterscopy to look into a fibroid that was found during my last ultrasound.

I haven't had one of these before.  And I hope I never have to have one again.  The procedure consists of the normal uncomfotableness of a Pap smear with the added bonus of fluid and a camera going into your uterus.  The fluid causes an intense cramping, imagine a crampy day from your period and then turn the volume up to 10.  It was intense pain but the procedure was over in no time.  Dr. Braverman and the nurse were friendly and helped me get through the non fun experience.

Luckily, everything looked good and we are ready to move forward.  I am still waiting for an updated calendar.  So, I won't know the new target transfer date until I get that.  I am super excited to start the process and get this all over with.

I am now on hold with my drugs and only taking metformin, baby aspirin and lupron.  The lupron was fine at first but over time the side effects have gotten worse.  Some days I have bad headaches and get very dehydrated.  So the sooner I get my calendar and get moving the better!

I just have to keep my eye on the prize.

FET Interrupted

So, on Wednesday, I thought I was going to another easy, no biggie monitoring appointment.  But, we hit a small bump in the road in the form of a fibroid.  

Dr. Braverman noticed a small fibroid (a non-cancerous growth) at the base of my uterus. Often, these growths are totally benign and can often cause no symptoms. But, my cycle is postponed until Dr. Braverman can do a hysteroscopy and make sure 1) the fibroid is not blocking the entrance of the uterus and they can get the catheter through and complete the embryo transfer (aka put the embryo in my uterus) and 2) make sure there are no other fibroids in the uterus.

I have scheduled the hysteroscopy for Wednesday January 3rd and will not be starting estrogen and prednisone on Saturday as planned.  Hopefully, if everything checks out, we will just be pushing the cycle back about 5 days.  If not, well, we will have to cross that bridge when we get there....

So, pray for my uterus!  And hopefully we will be back on track next week.

IVF DETOX, DIET AND EXERCISE

I've written a little about my diet and detox on earlier web posts.  But, I wanted to go into more detail and show the results of my diet and detox.  Not only physically do I look healthier, I feel so much better. We can absolutely heal ourselves through food - there is no doubt.  And, I am always learning more about the perfect diet for my body.

In just 3 weeks I went from a bloated 155 lbs to a slim 139 lbs; I am 5'7.

I didn't take a photo three weeks after the first photo was taken (I wish I had!!) so you will have to take my word for it with regard to timing.  But, I was able to flatten my stomach and lost this weight in just about three weeks AND I have been able to maintain it.  The first photo is from September 10th and the second one is from today December 19th (today I weighed in at 138; last week I was down to 136).

What's remarkable about this detox, diet and exercise program is that I am able to lose that stubborn belly fat that I cannot lose otherwise.  This is so important because that stubborn belly fat is a sign that there is a hormonal imbalance and correcting this is imperative when we are talking about fertility AND health in general.

Now that I flattened my belly - I am praying this transfer works and we are able to fill it up again with a new baby!

Now that I flattened my belly - I am praying this transfer works and we are able to fill it up again with a new baby!

I challenge anyone to do what I am suggesting for three weeks.  Your life will absolutely change for the better.  It's not easy.  And, it is expensive.  I was motivated because I really want to expand my family.  I will easily be able to keep eating healthy and exercising because of the results.  It is getting just too obvious that the standard American diet is slowly killing me and decreasing my quality of life. I want to be healthy and feel good so I am committed to health and continuing to learn more about health so that I can live my best life.

This is a 3 week plan:

Detox:

Pills:

Metagenics Advaclear: 6 every day for 3 weeks. Two in the morning with the shake, two with lunch, two with dinner

BUY ME

A Shake every morning for three weeks made with the following:

A large glass of water with:

  • Thorne Mediclear Plus - 2 scoops

        BUY ME

 

    • designs for health Paleo Fiber - 1 Tablespoon

     

    BUY ME

    • designs for health Paleo Greens - 1 Tablespoon

      BUY ME

    IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT THIS DETOX: 

    • I did this under the supervision of my acupuncturist, Angela Le
    • This is of course not medical advice because I am not a doctor.  I am simply letting you know what I tried and what worked for me, one person.  But, please run everything by a holistic practitioner that you trust or don't but you do so at your own risk. 
    • You cannot do the detox while you are taking fertility (or any) medications so if you start your protocol before 3 weeks just stop the detox but do as many days as you can. Understand, that if you are taking medications they may not work because the detox will be flushing them out.
    • You should also stop your other supplements during the detox. 
    • You also do not want to do this detox while pregnant as it may be harmful to a growing fetus for various reasons.  I was told that the fetus may absorb what your body is getting rid of and that some of the vitamins in the supplements are in such a high dose they may be harmful to a growing fetus.  
    • It tastes pretty gross - but - you can do it!!

    Diet:

    For starters:

    • NO GLUTEN! NO DAIRY! NO ALCOHOL! NO COFFEE! NO REFINED SUGAR! 
    • About 80% Vegan
    • All organic 
    • If animal products are eaten be sure to take care and purchase only organic (or as good as organic) products that have eaten what they are supposed to eat.  (ie no soy feed, grass fed cows, etc)
    • No packaged processed foods

    SAKARA LIFE meal plan:

    CLICK HERE FOR $50 OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER

    • Sakara Life is a meal delivery service.  I did the Sakara Life meal delivery service for most of the three weeks.  They deliver organic plant based vegan and gluten-free meals with no refined sugar.  They are fairly expensive but what they deliver is so valuable.  And it really takes the guess work out of the diet.

    DAILY HARVEST

    • Sakara Life does not deliver on the weekends so I supplemented with another one of my favorite gluten-free, vegan and organic delivery services.  Daily Harvest, sells cups that arrive frozen and are kept in the freezer.  I love their oats, smoothies and soups.  I would start my day with a smoothie and an over easy egg (I was not 100% vegan for this diet).  Then for lunch I would have oats; or, if I was very hungry, oats and a smoothie.  For dinner, I would have a soup that I would make with organic pasture raised bone broth (again not 100% vegan) over rice or quinoa.

    • To mix with the shakes, I use Malk brand Maple Almond Milk or Unsweetened Cashew (which I prefer if it's available at my Whole Foods), Harmless Harvest Coconut Water, Bonafide Provisions Bone Broth or Thai Taste Coconut Milk.

    • USE TRYTHREEFREE for three free smoothies with your first order.

     

    • Here is a sample weekend day:

      • Breakfast: Egg (be sure to only eat pastured organic eggs - ideally from a local farm) over easy cooked with no oil or oil with a high burning point like coconut oil and and apple and greens smoothie mixed with Harmless Harvest Coconut Water.

      • Lunch: Pumpkin & Chai Overnight Oats with MALK nut milk

      • Dinner: Cauliflower & Leek Stew with Bonafide Provisions Chicken Bone Broth over Organic Californian Jasmine Rice

      • Snacks: Smoothies, berries, almonds

    • Here are my favorite Daily Harvest Cups

      • Soups

        • Tips
          • or the soups: I don't fill the cup to the top with liquid and I like to boil down the soup so there is not too much liquid
        • My Favorites:
          • Coconut & Carrot Soup with Thai Taste Coconut Milk over Organic Californian Jasmine Rice
          • Cauliflower Leek Stew with Bonafide Provisions Chicken Bone Broth over Organic Californian Jasmine Rice
          • Miso & Mushroo Soup with Bonafide Provisions Beef Bone Broth over Organic Californian Jasmine Rice
          • Tumeric & Lemongrass Detox Broth with Bonafide Provisions Beef Bone Broth and organic quinoa
      • Oats
        • Tips
          • I also don't fill the oats to the top and I cook them down to a thicker consistency
          • They go great with Malk Nut Milk or Thai Taste Coconut Milk
        • My Favorites:
          • Pumpkin & Spice
          • Dragonfruit
      • Smoothies
        • Tips
          • Sometimes these need a little more liquid to easily blend
          • Also it helps to let them sit for a little bit so that they are easier to blend and not too cold for your digestive system
          • If you are concerned for eastern medicine reasons about eating cold food let the smoothie sit for 20 minutes and blend with a piece of fresh organic ginger
        • My Favorites
          • Carrot & Chia with MALK Nut Milk (especially for wintertime)
          • Apple Detox with Harmless Harvest Coconut Water
          • Watermelon & Cucumber with Harmless Harvest Coconut Water
          • Pineapple Matcha with Harmless Harvest Coconut Water (tastes like a pina colada!)

     

    Exercise:

    Exercise is last here but it is super important that you get moving as often as possible.  I aimed for 7 days a week.  During this three week period, I was getting about 5 workouts in a week.  I was doing these great half hour workouts, my friend Rachel, a beachbody coach, introduced me to called 21 day fix.  It's only $99 for the year to download unlimited workouts.  I absolutely recommend the download.  You can find her page HERE .  Go to the second offer on the page for unlimited downloads for $99.

    To maintain, I have only been doing the workouts about 3 - 4 times a week but still aim for everyday.

     

     

    Big Update! Target Transfer Date Known!

    So, about two weeks ago, I had a ton of blood drawn by Monique at Dr. Braverman's office which she sent to Reprosource for my immune panel.  The results just came back this week and Sandra, my nurse, was able to make up my calendar.

    The calendar of the medicine I will be taking is below, if you are interested in the details.  But, the highlights of the calendar are 1) starting December 30th, I start taking a truck load of drugs 2) starting the 1st of January, I start on 40 mgs of prednisone (my very least favorite drug - bc the side effects are awful - but my very favorite drugs because that's the one I think really does the trick and helps me carry to term) and 3) My TARGET TRANSFER date is January 15th!!

    So everyone!  That means on January 15th, I will be what we in the fertility world call PUPO ~ pregnant until proven otherwise.  Also, funny thing, I will be considered almost 3 weeks pregnant already.  You are pregnant for 40 weeks starting from your last period - so for the first two weeks of pregnancy no one is technically pregnant.  Implantation happens usually during the third week of pregnancy.  By the time I have my beta drawn (likely January 23rd) I will be 4 weeks pregnant (HOPEFULLY!!).

    MY FET CALENDAR

    December 2017

    December 4th - 19th

            Meds: Contraceptives-Birth control pill daily

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin (started Dec 16th)

    December 20th

            Meds: Contraceptives-Birth control pill daily

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

    December 21 - 29      

             Meds: Contraceptives-Birth control pill daily

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

    December 30: (it gets real!)

            Meds: Delestrogen- 0.4cc in PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    December 31

            Meds: Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 2018

    January 1

            Meds: Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 2

             Meds: Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

             Letrozole-Letrazole 2.5mg 2 tabs at bedtime

    January 3

            Meds: Delestrogen- 0.4cc in PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

             Letrozole-Letrazole 2.5mg 2 tabs at bedtime

    January 4

            Meds: Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

             Letrozole-Letrazole 2.5mg 2 tabs at bedtime

    January 5

            Meds: Rx Scripts-blood and sono

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

             Letrozole-Letrazole 2.5mg 2 tabs at bedtime

    January 6

            Meds: Delestrogen- 0.4cc in PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

             Letrozole-Letrazole 2.5mg 2 tabs at bedtime

    January 7

            Meds: Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 8

             Meds: Rx Scripts-blood and sono

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

             Rx Scripts-Intralipids this week

    January 9

            Meds: Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Lupron- 5 units in AM

            Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 10

            Meds: Delestrogen- 0.4cc in PM

             Prog IM-progesterone in oil 1cc pm

             Doxy-cycline 100mg AM & PM

             Clindamycin-Clindamyacin vag suppos 1 in PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

            Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 11

            Meds: Prog IM-Progesterone in Oil 2cc PM

             Doxy-cycline 100mg AM & PM

             Clindamycin-Clindamyacin vag suppos 1 in PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 12

            Meds: Prog IM-Progesterone in Oil 2cc PM

             Doxy-cycline 100mg AM & PM

             Clindamycin-Clindamyacin vag suppos 1 in PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 13

            Meds: Prog IM-Progesterone in Oil 2cc PM

             Delestrogen- 0.4cc in PM

             Doxy-cycline 100mg AM & PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 14

             Meds: Prog IM-Progesterone in Oil 2cc PM

             Doxy-cycline 100mg AM & PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 1000 mg at night

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

    January 15

    Meds: Prog IM-Progesterone in Oil 2cc PM

             Rx Scripts-TARGET TRANSFER DATE

             Doxy-cycline 100mg AM & PM

             Prednisone- 20mg AM and 20mg PM

             Metformin HCL-Metformin 500mg 3x's per day

             Low dose aspirin-81mg Baby Asprin

             Lovenox- 40mg in AM

     

     

     

     

    Pre-FET Birth Control Side Effect - Nausea

    Hello there!

    It's been a little while since I updated between the Thanksgiving holiday and not great side effects from adding birth control to my new list of drugs, I just hadn't been up to blogging.  Also, not much has been happening with my cycle.  Below is the quick and pukey update from the last week..

    Last week, I started birth control pills.  I was taking 750 mg of metformin at night and Tuesday I started the pill in the morning.  The brand was Kelnon and I started getting nauseous a few hours after taking the pill each day to the point I couldn't stomach much food.  It was suggested by my nurse and some other people I talk to online to switch to taking the pill at night to help with the nausea.  That meant I ended up taking two of the pills in the same day, one in the morning and one at night.  I had to do that because I did not want to risk "breaking through." 

    Well, the nausea after I did this was so bad.  I was couch ridden for the whole day and could hardly eat at all..  I am so lucky my husband was around.  

    I had to change brands of birth control.  I switched to Janel and so far it has been so much better.  I've only had mild nausea.  So, that's positive..

    FET - it begins

    Dr. Braverman called me two nights ago.  His team looked over my file and have decided to add Metformin to my protocol.  I take my first pill tonight.

    If you know me well, you know that I do not like to take pharmaceutical drugs at all.  I believe we can so often heal ourselves through lifestyle changes like food and exercise.  It's been a few years since my last IVF and my knowledge about health and how to stay healthy (as opposed to treat illness) has changed.  If I were younger and had this knowledge, I would definitely give myself some time (not too much time though!) to try to have a baby naturally.  But, I don't feel like I have that time.  And, I know Dr. Braverman was my miracle doctor last time.  He is the reason I have my son.  So for our second child we are going with what we know works.

    But, I am not happy about introducing a new drug.  Still, I have chosen to trust Dr. Braverman and his team. He says there is no downside to adding it to my protocol and they have seen so much success with his patients who have endometriosis using it. So all I can do is lift my glass of water pop my pill and say bottoms up.

    I hope everyone has an amazing Turkey Day tomorrow!

    Update:  I do fairly well on 500 mg of Metformin.  But, every time I tried to go to 1500 mgs, I got a really bad headache and could not sleep.  I also felt a little anxious.  I stopped and started the higher dose a couple of times but every time, I had similar side effects.  So, right now I am on 1000 mgs instead of 1500 as I fare well at 1000 mgs.  

    PGS Results

    ONE.

    Out of the three, only one embryo tested genetically normal.

    It's a BOY!

    FullSizeRender(1).jpg

    We did not get to choose the gender.  It has been chosen for us.  We may have been dreaming of a girl to complete our family but we know what a blessing any child is.  Now it's time to start dreaming of having two boys, brothers, lifelong friends. I am very excited to hopefully have another beautiful healthy baby boy to add to our family and I am feeling optimistic Dr. Braverman will be able to help us carry to term again.

    Embryo Watch 2017: Day 6 Update

    My power was out last night (no this house didn't come w a generator - but now we know we really do need one #cityfolkgonecountry) so I haven't been quick to update the blog - and I am waiting for some more information - but I just saw someone had asked for an update.  

    So, drumroll, please...

    IMG_4491.JPG

    I heard from the nurse last night that I had 2 blasts on day 5 that were biopsied and the other 2 would be biopsied today. 

    I asked for some more details today, like, were the other two actually biopsied today?  But, I am still waiting to hear.

    I will let you know more when I know!

    Xo, 

    Natalie

    Embryo Watch 2017: Day 3 Progress

    Quick update: 

    I received and email from my nurse tracking the growth of my embryos.   

    3 Grade As

    1 Grade B

    I am happy with the progress.

    If there are 3 or more blasts, we will do genetic testing on the embryos.  I will feel most comfortable moving forward with a genetically normal embryo.  So, I am praying I have one.

    I will post soon weighing the pros and cons of genetic testing.   

     

    XO,

    Natalie

     

    How We Did It for #1: Fertility Timeline and Braverman Protocol

    Here, I am sharing my fertility timeline and successful Braverman Protocol used to have my son.  My very own Braverman Baby.

    Braverman.jpg

     

    I am often sharing this information with people online and now I can just send everyone here.  Hopefully, now that it's here, it will help many more..

    Crazy story.  There was one person online with whom I shared my protocol.  Working with her doctor, who prescribed it for her, she was finally able to have a successful pregnancy.  Then, her friend did the same thing and also had a successful pregnancy - twins.  She credited me with the 3 births and it really made my day.  Her daughter was born October 16th and my birthday is October 17.  The world really can be magical sometimes.

    I do, however, believe it is in people's best interest to go to Dr. Braverman over using their own doctor in this way.  Dr. Braverman and his team are the experts and they are going to be able to give people the right protocol for them. But, I am still full of pride that I was able to help this woman and her friend.

    I think this timeline shows that Braverman immune treatment was what I needed to have a successful pregnancy.

    Also, I left out a lot of the negative things that happened at NYU.  I wrote them an 11 page complaint and am not sure if I will get into some of it on the blog ever.  But, I strongly do not recommend that fertility clinic because of my experience.

     

    Fertility Time Line

    • December, 2010         Start trying to have a baby
    • August, 2011                Ovulation kits
    • December, 2011           Acupuncture
    • February,  2012.          Met with Dr. Zhang at New Hope
    • February, 2012            IUI #1 no medication
    • February, 2012            Met with Mukherjee at RMA
    • February, 2012            Hormone Tests FSH was 28.5
      • Dr. Mukherjee tells us how horrible Dr.Zhang is.  We believed this at the time, but in hindsight, I would say Zhang is a better doctor than Mukherjee.
      • Dr. Mukherjee says that the immune system has absolutely nothing to to with having a healthy pregnancy
    • April, 2012                  IUI - #2 - 2 eggs on 150 units of gonal-f
    • May, 2012                   IUI - #3 2 eggs on 250 units of gonal-f
    • June, 2012                 We leave RMA for NYU
    • June, 2012                  Met with Dr. Licciardi at NYU - I requested to be sent for a laparoscopy
    • July, 2012                   Surgery 
      • Stage II endometriosis removed – with Dr. Martin Robbins in Maine. 
      • Great experience generally but I am now upset that he also took out my appendix during my laparoscopy. 
        • He did explain that he may do this and I did have some pain on my right side. 
          • But the right side pain never went away and I wish I did not lose part of my body.
    • July, 2012                   Met with Dr. Batzofin
      • Had some minor immune testing done. 
      • Realized I was A1298c Homozygous. 
      • He recommended IVF directly so we left to go to Scher and return to NYU because we weren't ready to do IVF.
    • February, 2013            Met with Dr. Scher
    • February, 2013            IUI #4 clomid w/ Scher immune treatment at NYU
    • March, 2013                 IUI #5 clomid w/Scher immune treatent at NYU
    • May, 2013                    IVF #1
      • Estrogen (Vivelle Dot) Prime with Ganerelix Cycle; 150 units menopur, 450 units Gonal F.  10 mgs prednisone starting from Cycle Day 5.
      • 5 eggs retrieved  
      • complete fertilization failure
      • Rescue ICSI performed 24 hours after procedure
      • 2 blasts transferred
      • BFN
    • June, 2013                  Start Acupuncture w/ Angela Le
    • July, 2013                    IVF #2  
      • Same Drugs as Number IVF#1
      • 12 eggs retrieved
      • 9 embryos became blasts 
      • We transferred the 2 best looking blasts
      • We froze the remaining 7 frozen. 
      • Ended in a miscarriage. 
      • Testing showed a genetically normal female. 
        • they did not do a maternal contamination study but the doctor was certain it was a genetically normal girl.
      • Scher autoimmune treatment. 
      • D&C performed at 7 weeks.
    • Fall 2013                      7 remaining embryos thawed and PGS tested
      • 2/7 normal 1 boy, 1 girl
    • November, 2013          Frozen embryo transfer of PGS normal female embryo at NYU. 
      • No autoimmune treatment.
      • I called it the "NYU special" because they insisted immune treatment was rubbish.
      • Positive beta but pregnancy never progressed.  
      • They hardly saw anything on the ultrasound.
      • Technically a chemical pregnancy/early miscarraige. So "less" pregnant than with Scher's immune treatment.  
        • I say "less pregnant" to make a point that my with first pregnancy I used some immune treatment and it lasted longer. 
    • Winter 2013                My NYU doctor changes his stance on immune issues.
      • My NYU doctor now says I might be one of the 2% who need immune treatment.  When I started with him, he said he didn’t believe in that treatment and that it didn’t work. 
        • When I asked about it having worked for people I know – he said - sometimes people just get pregnant.  
      • After 2 miscarriages with him our doctor said he would be happy to work with Dr. Braverman; but when the time came for him to speak with Dr. Braverman.  
      • He never called us back.
      • So, after many unreturned phone calls and wasting weeks waiting, we moved our last embryo in a nitrogen tank Dr. Braverman’s lab.
    • February 2014             Moved Embryo in nitrogen tank to Dr. Braverman’s lab
    • April 12, 2014               Frozen embryo transfer.  Autoimmune treatment by Dr. Braverman
      • Braverman is THE EXPERT IN REPRODCUTIVE IMMUNOLOGY. 
        • Pregnant!  Everything is going perfectly.
    • August 2014                 Bleeding
      • 3 nights of gushing fresh blood at 18 weeks.
      • Cervix still long and closed and baby is fine.
      • Doctors are taking bleeding seriously but concern is low.
      • Bed rest for a week and lovenox dose lowered and no more baby aspirin.
      • Bleeding stopped - thank goodness
    • January 7, 2015           Our beautiful son is born! 

    My Successful Braverman Immune Protocol

    • 2.5 mg Letrozole at bedtime for 5 days starting 12 days before 5 day transfer
      • this is for endometriosis and implantation
    • Lovenox 40mg 2X a day starting about 15 days before 5 day transfer 
    • Baby Aspirin - one a day
    • 40mg of prednisone
      • I started prednisone at end of Jan 2014 and my transfer wasn't until 4/12/14.
        • I had to take it for 2 weeks an then wait 2 weeks for the blood test to come back to make sure it was working and then wait for my period to come.
        • At some point before transfer I had to drop to 20 mg because of terrible knee pain from the prednisone.
        • But, at some point he put me back on 40 mg for my pregnancy.
        • I also had the knee pain at 9 weeks pregnant so Dr. Braverman dropped me to 20 mg then.
        • He would have preferred me to stay on 40mg but he had to balance my health with the baby's
        • I was weaned off the prednisone completely by 17 weeks pregnant. 
    • BCP then Lupron after period to suppress cycle.
    • Intralipids every other week starting about 2 weeks before transfer.
    • 4 cc Delestrogen 2 times (Tues evening and Friday evening) a week injected in bum from 15 days before transfer until 12 weeks pregnant (although he let me stop at 10 weeks)
    • 2 ml progesterone injected nightly in the bum nightly starting 5 days before 5 day transfer through 10 weeks pregnant.
    • Estrogen and progesterone (E2 V2 with P4 2/100) suppositories - not sure when I started or stopped these but I think I started the day of transfer and stopped at 10 weeks pregnant.
    • He also had me take some doxycycline before the transfer but cannot remember exact days and some sort of antibiotic vaginal suppository as well before transfer.

     

    Embryo Watch 2017: Day 1

    Four eggs fertilized.  I didn't get the email until just recently letting me know that 4 of the 5 eggs fertilized.

    As I was waiting to hear today's results, I started really feeling bummed I did not take prednisone during this retrieval cycle.  During my other IVFs I did take 10 mg of prednisone starting at cycle day 5. I think I was taking it last time to prepare for my transfer but wonder if it also helped the results of the retrieval.  Since inflammation is what is affecting my infertility it makes sense to me that some prednisone may help during the retrieval stage as well. 

    I didn't remember and confirm that I had been on prednisone for my last IVfs until the day before the retrieval so it was too late to start.  Just another thing that went wrong because my brain really does not work well on these meds. 

    Since this is my worst retrieval yet, I am worried that the lack of prednisone will affect my egg quality.  And/or it may have been what caused this cycle to not result in as many eggs as others.  Although, I am about 4 years older.

    Interestingly, my right ovary did perform quite well this cycle.  I think that is support that the lack of prednisone did not affect the cycle and that there was just some fluke with the left side. 

    I am trying to stay positive and focus on the fact that I was super healthy this cycle.  My diet was on point.  My stomach wasn't bloated at all and I showed no signs of inflammation.  I was feeling physically quite good considering all the drugs I was taking.  So, hopefully, that will help with the quality of these four eggs that are left.

    All I can do now is wait and pray.

    Grow embies! Grow!

    Just another note:  it is super surreal and exciting to think that the any future children I may have could be sitting in a lab on W 54th St in Manhattan right now.  Very cool stuff.  #IVFISAWESOME

      

    Retrieval Day!

    Today was my retrieval!  And I am in great spirits. 

    I hardly feel bad at all from the procedure.  Although, I tend to do very well with surgeries and procedures.  I was up like a champ the day after my c-section to the point my doula said that she thought that my body does not send intense pain signals to my brain.  So ya, I may have some super powers, getting pregnant easily is just not one of them.

    The retrieval otherwise also went very smoothly.  We arrived at the lab at 6 am this morning and we left around 8 am.  We filled out the paper work.  Then, my husband went to give his sperm sample.  I'll spare you the details.

    And, I changed into a hospital gown, hat and blue booties.  Next, the nice anesthesiologist entered and put something in my arm so that she could give me medication to keep me sedated during the procedure.  Then, we went into the procedure room. 

    I had a little anxiety about this.  I had a super bad experience at my last fertility clinic.  They had this metal contraption they put your legs into; so that your legs were in the air and spread.  And, they didn't cover you, in a room full of people.  It was insane.  It was part of my 11 page complaint to them.  It is my understanding that they are better about covering people now, which is nice for the patients after me.  But, it didn't help my anxiety going into this procedure.

    Thankfully, the room was way less scary than the room at my last fertility clinic and they gave me a paper blanket to cover up.  The anesthesiologist started me on some gas.  I breathed in ...and breathed out few times and I was out in no time.

    Soon, I was awake.  I had a conversation with whomever was in my room when I woke up but cannot remember the details.  I think it was the anesthesiologist and I think was talking about how they didn't properly cover me at my last fertility clinic....

    The nurse brought me some apple juice and a cookie.  It was total GMO filled terrible cookie and I was glad I brought myself a GMO free, gluten free fig bar that I ate instead.  The apple juice wasn't organic.  But, I decided to live dangerously and drink it anyway.  Seriously, though, I don't really understand why they would give women with immune issues such inflammatory junk food to eat.  But, the medical community rarely is focused on diet and seem to not understand that food can be healing if you make the right choices.  Anyway, in this day and age, you pretty much have to bring your own food everywhere or you are going to be eating something toxic.  Some people can handle it, but people, like me, with immune issues have to be careful about what we eat.

    Next, someone came to tell me how many eggs they retrieved.  5 eggs!  That's one more than we thought I would get last Friday from looking at the follicles.  I am now feeling optimistic we will have at least one good one.

    I also am just so happy to be done with almost all of the drugs for the retrieval.  I am done taking hormones for this part of the process.  Although, I did have to take a prophylactic 3 day dose of doxycycline, an antibiotic, to prevent infection from the procedure, which I was not happy about. After tomorrow, thankfully, I will even be done with that.   There will be many more drugs during this process and I am really not looking forward to the side effects but let's not worry too much about that for now.

    I am excited to feel myself again and get back to focusing on having amazing health.  I am going to start a 2 week detox and another 2 weeks of Sakara Life Monday.  I will also be super diligent about taking my probiotics for gut health after being on the antibiotics. I will be feeling super healthy and happy again soon!  And, it will be great to be in good health for the upcoming transfer.

    After the retrieval, the embryologist performed ICSI on our sperm and eggs.  ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where one sperm is injected into each egg.

    Tomorrow, we should hear about how many of the eggs fertilized.

    Then, in 5 days we will hear about the quality of the embryos.  And, we will decide at that time whether to do genetic testing on the embryos or not.

    On the fifth day we will freeze all the embryos. 

    I will continue on a super healthy anti-inflammatory diet and start immune medication to prepare for the embryo transfer!

    It's going to be a long process.  My guess is that the transfer will not be until January or February.  But, also that's very exciting because that means I could be pregnant in January or February - woah and woo hoo!!

     

     

    Cycle Day 12: Trigger Shot

    Today is cycle day 12.  Mood is bummer with a side of this sucks.  The ultrasound showed 5 eggs.  So one more than last week but still not what I was hoping for and probably not enough to bother with PGD.  I guess we'll see how it goes.

    Also, I am done with all but two of the injections that I have to give myself for this retreival cycle.  WOOT!  The retreival is scheduled for Wednesday.  So I will take my HCG trigger shots tonight and should be just about ready to ovulate Wednesday morning.  Still waiting to hear the exact details but this is what I have done in the past.

    This morning was rough, I realized that on my last two cycles I had been taking prednisone (10 mgs a day starting on cycle day 5) and this cycle I have not been taking prednisone.  I am concerned this may be why I am not responding as well as my last cycle.

    I do have prednisone and I haven't spoken to the nurse yet so I am not sure why I have it.  But, I was told at my appointment today that Braverman does not prescribe prednisone during retreival cycles. 

    This morning, however, before I heard back anything, I freaked out and took a 10 mg dose of prednisone so that could be contributing to my not great mood.  I am sure it's fine that I took it because I was on it for my last two IVFs with different doctors and they turned out fine.  But, probably not advisable to just start popping pills.  So nobody try this as home.

    I also almost forgot to take my Ganirelix shot this morning and had to turn back to take it - that cost me abut 15 minutes on my drive in.  Then, because I am just an overall hot mess, I am serious your brain doesn't work when you are taking all these hormones, I missed the exit to the Merrit Parkway and ended up taking the 95 into the city.  95 is way more annoying and full of traffic compared to the Merrit so that wasn't a great move on my part.  I was about a half an hour late and lucky that Dr. Vidali (the Doctor who does my scans in the city) was still there and very nice about it. 

    Anyway, 5 isn't AMAZING.  But, it can definitely get the job done.  It could be better but it could also be worse. I certainly am happy we are almost to retrieval day.  IVF is a miserable experience.

    Now it's time to wait and see and hope for the best.  I am still a stressed hot mess but doing my best to seem like a normal human being.  My acupuncture absolutely helped with my hot mess-ness so grateful for that.

    Chow for now,

    Natalie

    Infertility is Miserable: How to Dis Disenfranchise Your Grief

    If you clicked on this article because you are struggling with infertility, I am here to assure you that it's ok to be sad and pissed.  It's ok to have any miserable feeling you want because what you are going through is truly miserable.  Let yourself be sad, mad and even bitter if that's what is coming up for you.  It's ok.

    There is something in psychology called disenfranchised grief.  Disenfranchised grief arises in any circumstance in which society denies our “need, right, role, or capacity to grieve” (Doka, 1989).  This happens with infertility.

    With regard to infertility and grief, the loss isn't recognized because it isn't a death and it's something many people do not speak about.  Those trudging through infertility understand this all to well.  When we mention our struggles we are all too often dismissed by (hopefully) well-intentioned people who, dismissive of our grief, say things like.  "Oh it will happen, just relax." Or, "oh I have a friend who struggled to get pregnant and - finally when they stopped trying they had a baby naturally!"  Suggesting if you too stopped trying, you would finally have your miracle.  

    Unfortunately, those of us who have real physical issues cannot get pregnant unless we try, try hard, and don't give up.  And, there are some women who are never able to have children. 

    For people who are truly infertile, this new reality, the embarrassing one where your body has failed you and your dreams are shattered month after month with the sight of literal blood seeping from your body is devastating.  It's a nightmare.  Our hopes fade as time passes.  Our hopes of having the family we not only have a biological imperative to desire but also we want because we just know it will be so wonderful, turn into fears of never having a child.  The pain from this experience is real.  Research has shown that infertile women's anxiety and depression equaled those of women with conditions such as cancer, HIV and chronic pain. The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology (Vol. 14, Suppl., 45-52). And when our pain is dismissed it makes this hard time even harder.

    This dismissiveness from society can deny our right to grieve.  And can make the grieving process much harder.  

    And when we miscarry or in some cases women have stillbirths, this all is just amplified exponentially.  Our hearts are so broken.  For me, I was hardly able to move.  But our angels have no funerals.  Our family and friends don't surround us. There are no rituals, no gatherings and no ceremonies to say goodbye and share our greif.  But we must somehow process that our child who we want so dearly has died inside of us and we have to endure that child physically leaving our body and us forever.  We also have to experience the disappointment of our partners.  The sadness in their eyes can crush your already broken heart.  There is no doubt grief and I experienced how confusing it is when our community does not recognize our loss and our struggle.  Something along my journey helped me with this.

    For me, there was a real turning point in my grieving journey that gave me an understanding of disenfranchised grief before I had ever heard the term.  A friend of mine was a true silver lining.  She had two failed IVFs and tried for a couple of years before having her children and completing her family. She was a support to me in my struggle to have children and I am so grateful.

    She explained to me how difficult her infertility journey was.  She explained that her infertility journey was even more difficult for her emotionally for her than when her dad, whom she loved dearly and was close to, died in her 20's.  This doesn't diminish how difficult her loss of her father was.  But, it is a testament to how difficult infertility can be.  She said that when her father died there was a funeral and support from so many people.  It was a finite event that she was able to grieve and move on from.  Her infertility journey, however, was a dark time that was riddled with uncertainty.  The emotional support is scarce and it dragged on for years.  Additionally, the financial drain is painful. So, it was much more difficult for her.

    When she told me this, she gave me permission to release what I was feeling.  And until she told me this I didn't even know what I was feeling.  It was intense sadness.  And sometimes bitterness towards others who were having babies so easily.  What she told me though was so powerful because it allowed me to express what I was feeling so I wouldn't get stuck in those emotions.

    I stopped feeling weird or guilty for my feelings and just owned them.  Because I was a queen warrior goddess battling through the depths of hell and I had to take care of myself.  Once I could recognize my feelings, I could start to heal myself or at least ease the pain.

    So, I surrounded myself with people who were capable of being empathetic towards what I was feeling and could show me support. And, some people are beautifully empathetic and supportive, I am so blessed to have experienced that and learned from them.  In some cases, I even paid people like my therapist and acupuncturist for that support. I also learned what I liked so I could cheer myself up. And, I took the time and made the financial investment to do these things. 

    Among many other things, during that time, I learned that I like to take photographs, eat fancy lunches (and photograph those fancy lunches), have a spa days, watch funny movies, spend time with supportive, kind empathetic people, watch sunsets, laugh and cuddle with my husband, and cook and eat healthy AND delicious food and so on... so I did those things because I needed to to survive.  And I didn't feel guilty because they were not "productive" enough.  And, what I learned is that I always want to be taking the time and making the investment to do these little things that I love that bring me joy.  I want to always be learning about myself and what makes me happy so I can have a more joyous life. 

    One of the things I learned about myself while I was struggling to have my first child was that I enjoyed was taking photos.  This is what happens when you take photography classes while struggling with recurrent pregnancy loss.

    One of the things I learned about myself while I was struggling to have my first child was that I enjoyed was taking photos.  This is what happens when you take photography classes while struggling with recurrent pregnancy loss.

    So, once again, this journey, helped me to be a better mother.  To be the best mother I can be, it is important that I "put my oxygen mask on first" so that I not only can be present, happy, patient and available for my son.  But also, so that I can show him an example of a joyous adult so he can grow up to be one too.

    And even though I did all this at the time.  It was still unbearably hard struggling to have a child.  And the only thing that made it not hard anymore was the birth of my son.  That was a heart-expanding, body-floating cheeks-sore-from-smiling kind of day. 

    So to the soon to be mothers struggling. If I could give you one tip, it is to let yourself be low and experience your negative emotions.  This IS a painful journey and the pain you are experiencing is totally understandable.  The battle to have a child is a miserable and dark time.  Take amazing care of yourself to recharge and put on that warrior gear.  Lots of love to all women and mothers no matter how your journey ends, I hope you'll find joy and peace.