Sunday, September 30, 2007

Philanthropic Searches

Several times I've wanted to post about certain nonprofits that have either appealed to us, or that we have supported at one time or another. For instance, we have talked about supporting Shaohannah's Hope - which provides support to families wishing to adopt from overseas. This particular business was founded by popular Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and provides adoption grants to families.

Now that we are looking more seriously at adoption, we've found even more resources for families. In Washington State there is Antioch Adoption, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Christian families adopt with absolutely no fee. They are also hoping to get churches involved in every state so that they can expand across the nation. I also ran across the ABBA Fund which provides interest-free loans to help families adopt. This group also encourages churches to start their own ABBA Fund to help members in their congregation adopt. It looks like the down side to this is that if you use this interest-free loan you can't apply for the $10K federal tax credit allowed when adopting.

I don't feel like any of these fit perfectly with what we need at this time, but it is inspiring to see so many entities helping families grow. And I hope that as Thomas and I move forward in life, we will be able to support other families expand and grow.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Finding the Silver Lining

Too often I have to try and remind myself to be more positive and more optimistic. I feel like I don't recognize the blessings in my life and I try to correct my behavior. I've been trying to keep a steady list as a way to help me recognize our blessings. I can't count the number of times someone has asked me if I see the glass half full or half empty ... and I never knew how to answer. So, I've been making a list of things to be thankful about our recent events.

1. I will be able to exercise for the next year
2. I can try to lose weight
3. I'm less worried about wanting to be a stay at home mom in the immediate future and missing more work
4. I don't have to get any more shots or weird medicines for the year
5. I won't have to make regular visits to the doctor
6. I can eat sushi
7. I can drink coffee and wine
8. We won't be spending thousands of dollars
9. I will have more time to quilt
10. We can move towards adoption, and I will still be able to lose weight and eat sushi

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I guess you are wondering

Well, I thought about making everyone wait for a while for the news. I even thought about waiting until the end of the first trimester, but I just figured that would be mean ... since there is no news. We are once again not pregnant. How are we doing you may be asking yourself. We are OK. I think I took the news a little worse than my dear husband, but I am definitely dealing and planning.

We won't be moving forward with any fertility treatment for a while. We just don't have the money. I honestly feel like something isn't right with me. The doctor chalks it up to bad embryos, but I just can't see that all four were bad. So, I've checked out a few other docs and there are some that check for immune issues. Basically, something in your body could say "this is a foreign object" and it would prevent the baby from attaching. AND that is a very real possibility with endometriosis. I called one of the best of these docs. They have about 6 locations across the nation, the closest to us is NY City. So before we go any further, I want to make sure we have this checked. Plus they can do a DNA test on sperm and make sure there are no problems there. The immune test runs about $2K; I forgot to ask about the other. Plus, the doctor consultation and the plane trip, hotel, etc. If I do have an immune issue, it can possible be treated, but that will run around $3-8K. In addition to the transfer cost. So basically, its getting very expensive to move forward at all. To start a whole new cycle with this clinic would be anywhere from $23K to $32K, depending on medicine needed.

So we are stopping with fertility treatments for now. It is a big relief. I need a break from the heartache and the pain and the needles. And we will pick it up at some other point. I am not able to give up on the idea of never having biological children - I'm definitely not able to do that at this point. And we also just don't have the money to continue. So it has to wait. We need to pay off the $15K we have spent to get us this far ... which sadly ... is really nowhere. We haven't decided when we will start again, and we will wait until we think it is the right time. I'm guessing it will be years. Some states require insurance to cover IVF, and we may decided to move to such a state when we leave Florida.

So in the meantime, we would love to adopt. But that also costs quite a bit. We've been leaning toward domestic adoptions, but they run around $15K. I think one of the places here in town may do for it $7,500, I need to call them. But that is still much more than we have, so that is probably going to either have to wait for a miracle or for some time to pass so we can save and pay off debt. (And for anyone wondering, international adoptions are even more expensive) I'm just hoping a miracle happens and we find a wonderful child that we are able to adopt for no fee or a very small fee.

And that is where we are.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The waiting continues

I know some of you are wondering what is happening at the Croom household this week. Well, there were a few rough patches for me this week. I had a meltdown on Wednesday ... and a smaller one on Thursday. Today, I'm doing better.
The bottom line is that the waiting period has got to be the hardest part of infertility treatment ... well, it might run a close second to the cost. It probably wouldn't be nearly as hard if it wasn't so pricey. But the bottom line is that if it doesn't work, we can't keep going back to try again. We have one more FET after this, and that will be it for a long while. And we will only be getting older.

And I know many of you are wondering, just like us, did it work. If it was based on how many prayers there has been for the birth of these children, we would definitely be having twins next year. We probably have 50-100 people praying for us. But more than that matters, I've already learned that the path I want to take is not always the one God has planned for me.

Of if you want to go on my dreams for the week, then I'm probably pregnant. Every night this week, I dreamed I either had a child, or was pregnant. It switched back and forth each night between girl and boy. One night, I dreamed we had fair skinned, red haired, blue-eyed daughter.

But so far, I don't feel pregnant at all. I've heard you aren't really suppose to feel anything this early, so I'm trying not to let it bother me. I was hoping I would have some type of intuition about this - I don't. I have nothing. I have no idea. NOTHING. And I am scared to death to find out. Wednesday I had a breakdown, not because I thought I wasn't pregnant, but the idea of getting a negative this time was just more than I could handle. I needed to know that if it didn't work, we had a plan.

So we came up with a plan. We talked about all sorts of options .... and we have more praying and thinking to do about this plan B. But it probably involves adoption; which really shouldn't be a shock to anyone. We have already decided we want to adopt regardless of having a biological child. We believe it is part of the life God has planned for us. And I'm starting to think, he doesn't want us distracted from that plan.

Does anyone have any good vibes that this worked for us?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our babies at transfer

We had some other good news that I didn't directly mention earlier.
The transfer was of two embryos - that were a little bit more advanced than the two that were transfered back in January. I think this means we have possibly higher quality embryos with a better chance of success. Or that is at least what I want to think.

We decided early on that we wanted to wait the 5-days before transfer for the embryos to make it to the blaystocyst stage. It means the best quality embryos with the best chance.

There are approximately 4 stages of a blastocyst - 1 is the least advanced, and 4 the most. This website has some great photos. Basically, when you get to stage 4, the next expansion should be hatching and implantation. We had a stage 3 and a stage 4 transferred this time; last time they were both stage 2. The doctor didn't give me any further breakdown in quality. They can be graded based on quality. But as I have mentioned before, our clinic does not do this.

We also weren't able to get a photo like we had wanted. But above is a photo from the internet of a stage 4 blastocyst.

The 2 week wait

The commonly referred to 2 week wait (2ww) is well underway. I actually have a shorter wait since the embryos were already 6-days old when transfered.

There is a lot of good news. I am not anxious. I am definitely looking forward to some positive news. But I'm not unsettled, not worried, not stressed. I am really at peace. Which I can only thank God for. Don't get me wrong, if the news comes back negative, I am sure I will be upset. But that isn't something I can even imagine at this moment.

More good news. The drugs don't seem to be effecting me the same way this time. Maybe because its a cryocycle rather than a complete IVF cycle. I'm not sure. I wanted to know what type of symptoms I was having last time, if I felt anything, etc. So I looked back at this nice handy blog and discovered that the progesterone was making me hungry and cranky, and giving me insomnia. That is definitely not happening. I am not extra hungry this time around, I am sleeping really well. In fact, every time I play the meditation music I drift off to sleep, regardless of how many hours I've already slept that day.

I do have a few symptoms, and I decided I wanted to post them because if I needed to look back, I would want to know what they are. There are two things that are different since the transfer - 1) I am more bloated and my stomach feels tighter possibly or different in some way; and 2) I've had ever slight pains, not really cramps, but like I might start spotting, but I haven't. So I'm hoping that's the babies implanting. If not, then I have no idea what it is. I remember vividly having some cramping last time ... and I know that is not really a good thing. So I am trying to keep that far at bay. The acupuncture really helps with that part - one needle specifically equates to no cramps for me. My next appointment is Tuesday morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Transfer Today

The transfer today went really well. I'm holed up in a hotel room resting; Thomas has gone out in search of dinner. We are very happy with how everything went.

The nurse called me at 7:30 this morning, I had just crawled out of bed after laying there for two hours wide awake. She asked if we could come in at 11am this morning! So I said, sure, we can make it in 3 hours. And yelled up at Thomas to let him know it was going to be sooner than we thought.
A few minutes later the nurse called back to let us know that 2 embryos were defrosted, and they both survived.

Everything went smooth. The embryologist said that the embyros had already expanded (grown) since between the defrost and the transfer time. So that is great news. They sound healthy and full of energy ... which is what we need. They are at the stage where they need to break through their shell and implant.

Please keep us in your prayers over the next few days. The pregnancy test is in 11 days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Here's the Plan

Tonight was the start of a big tomorrow. Here is the plan.

Tomorrow morning around 8am we leave for Jacksonville, Florida. We have lunch, then go to see the acupuncturist at 12 noon. Sometime in the morning we will get a phone call about a time for our transfer. We will go to the transfer. If we can make it to the 3:30 acupuncture appointment then we will do that. Then it is over to the hotel for 2 days. We are staying at the Radison because they have sleep number beds.

Tonight we have packing, I had yoga, and Thomas took the Mercy and Forge over to our friend's kennel.

I have saved quite a bit of meditative and classical music to my ipod, so my hope is that the doctors will let me listen to it during the transfer and in the recovery room. I'm guessing that during the transfer will not be possible since I will be in a "sterile" room. And Thomas got me a great early birthday present - a bose soundsystem for my ipod with a traveling case. So it will be going with us, so that my ears don't start aching from having earphones in all day.

I have to go pack now. The only thing I am worried about forgetting is my medicine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Two Good Things

Two good things happened today.

First, I got two appointments scheduled for Thursday. I had called an acupuncture lady in Jacksonville yesterday (down the street from the hospital) and was hoping she would be able to see me on Thursday. The data shows that you need treatment immediately before and after the transfer. If you can manage that, success rates nearly double. She called back today and HAD AVAILABLE TIMES FOR ME TO SEE HER TWICE ON THURSDAY! So I have an appointment at noon and at 3:30. Now, I really have no idea what time my transfer will be, but she said it is usually around 1 or 2. So here's to hoping. She can't see me later than 3:30 because she heads home to take care of her children. She has loads of personal experience with women going through treatment at this center - and she said she usually see success. She has a pretty high opinion of the center. However, she also said they aren't great at tailoring to specific needs. (I think that is what I find so frustrating)

Second, our foster counselor got moving finally. For about the third week now we have been waiting for our home study/fostering information to be typed up. That's all. It just had to be typed. I was promised we would have it Friday 2 weeks ago ... as of yesterday I hadn't heard anything. So I called and told her that we would be out of town later this week if she was hoping to get it to us soon ... and was told by our counselor that she hasn't done it but would have it completed on Friday of this week. She made up lots of excuses, or reasons as she called them -- these included "I had other home studies, I had an all-day conference." And I held my tongue and didn't say anything nasty because I couldn't figure out what good it would do. Then I called her boss and left a message simply stating to please call me. He hasn't called back , but Today, our counselor called back and said that she would have it to us tomorrow. SO THAT is really good news also. I was so tired of her dragging her butt. So we will hopefully receive it, sign it, and return it before we leave town.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another day

Today has been pretty good. I've been trying to stay relaxed, and I would say its working. I'm generally very happy today and in good spirits. I have two days at work until the next "big day" and I have so much to do that it should go by quickly. I think the wait between Thursday and the pregnancy test will be much worse ... but maybe the good mood will stick around through the end of it.

Today, I also called another IVF clinic, with the intention of finding out if frozen embryos could be transported to another clinic. AND THEY CAN BE! So, when we do this again, it will probably be after I find a clinic that I like a little better. I thought about going ahead and canceling this cycle and waiting another month or two ... and then I remembered I already shelled out the nonrefundable $2K. So, that won't be happening.

The home life is a little slower, I have spent many hours quilting and sewing. My sewing machine needs to be serviced. I think I will probably try to take it to the store on Wednesday ...

The shots I have been getting haven't been all that great. They aren't really well liked by those who have to go through these treatments. Thomas was determined that the needle was not the right one the first day - he thought it was way too long. Unfortunately, he wasn't right ... I get to have a 1.5 inch needle shoved in the top of my hip/butt every morning. The POI (progesterone in oil) is so viscous that it takes several minutes just to fill the syringe up with the oil. But my dear hubby has done a fantastic job, the nurse actually gave me a worse bruise than he has.

And the estrogen patches have left little sticky marks all over my belly. Every other day, when I get to change them, I scrub and scrub, but they just don't come off. Anyone have any ideas???, the only thing I was able to think of was to rub my belly with Goo be Gone, but that just doesn't sound healthy.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Today was a lot more stressful than I hoped for. I really didn't have a very good reaction to the doctor's office - just sitting in the lobby made me nervous, and it didn't help that they had this jazzy elevator music playing. It was not the least bit calming. I think they should redo their lobby, play peaceful music, lower the lights -- I tried to find a suggestion card, but couldn't - I guess they aren't looking for suggestions.

They probably don't want my suggestions anyway. I would have to add to it that the doctor is rude, inconsiderate, and totally obnoxious ... and that he needs to work on his empathy and people skills.

I asked him about checking the embryo quality - he said what I expected, every embryo that makes it this far we consider grade 1. But while he said this, he did something I didn't really expect ... and that was, he turned and responded to Thomas. Completely did not look at me. What he really had was a look on his face that said "Please talk some sense into this woman." I didn't know if Thomas would have really noticed, but I mentioned it when we left. He did notice - in fact, he said while the doctor was looking at him, he kept trying to glance at me hoping the doctor would get the message. .... SO ... They don't bother to actually look, they assume. Other clinics seem to grade these, look for problems, something. So I asked if I could get a photo of them. That is also a fairly common practice. So he said he might be able to do this. I'll probably have to remind them the day of my transfer.

And I also asked if maybe I would be a candidate for assisted hatching. He said that would be hard to do because they don't really do assisted hatching on 5-day-old embryos. I have no idea why. Clinics can check the thickness of the embryo shell and see if it is too thick to hatch on its own - but I guess that would require them to look at the embryo. And I checked some scientific studies, it can definitely be done.

So, overall, the doctor's appointment was much too stressful, and aggravating. They did check my hormones and the lining of my uterus. We have the all clear to proceed with transfer on Thursday.

I came home, laid down, slept, and I am attempting to destress.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another Day

Today, was another day in this whole process. In effort to remain calm, relaxed, etc., I attended a yoga class last night. It was a nice 1.5 hours long and was actually very relaxing. I wasn't to sure what to think of it while I was there, but when I left I noticed how much more restful and relaxed I felt. Next week I will probably try to make it to another one ... and I may go buy a DVD to do at home until then. I did wake up just a tad sore this morning, but it wasn't bad.
We head out in the morning about 5:45 - it shouldn't be a big deal. We have to turn in a notarized form to say they have the ability to defrost our little ones. The husband's signature is required to be notarized .... however, Thomas forgot to do it. So we will probably be running around Jacksonville tomorrow to find a notary so we can take it over to the doctor's office before we leave town. Hopefully it won't be too hectic.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Day 10 - Some info on the odds

I attended my second acupuncture appointment today -- if you missed the entry on that earlier you should know that is shown to result in increased success and also fewer miscarriages. I loved my first appointment, and today was no different. The lady I have been going to was first a massage therapist - so I think that just adds to the pleasure. So, with my attempts to increase success, today seems like the perfect day to talk about the "odds" for success.

In the last blog entry I mentioned just briefly that the odds were not in our favor. Obviously, it does work sometime or the doctor's wouldn't bother. Back in February, our fertility doc gave us about a 50% chance for one of our two FETs to work. (We should have two FETS with two embryos each - assuming they all survive the defrost)
The best information anyone can get on "success rates" is from the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services - they record success rates for all centers in the nation. In 2005, our center performed 143 frozen (nondonor) embryo transfers, resulting in 32% of these having a child born. I looked at several other center's stats and to tell you the truth - these are pretty good odds. Most of the clinics have done less than 50 frozen transfers a year, some less than 10 - and many have lower success rates. So overall, I'm pretty happy with the numbers we have going for us.

Our clinic also has a slightly higher success rate (about 37%) for women one age group above me - the 35-37 age group. I'm not sure why this is ... but I'm wondering if it might have to do with an increase in the use of assisted hatching. Assisted hatching is when the embryologist uses either chemicals or a sharp needle, or both, to either put a hole in the shell of the embryo or thin out the shell. This basically is shown to increase the chances of the embryo attaching if the embryo is not of the highest quality --- which means its often performed on older women. It costs extra - but often times means the difference of success or not success. (I didn't want to say failure)

I will be asking the doctor about assisted hatching when we go in on Friday. Probably along with a million other questions he will not want to answer. Until Friday, its just work and school for the both of us.

The hormones I'm on aren't really bothering me very much. I'm more crampy than normal, pretty much all the time. And sometimes I have difficulty eating - almost like I'm too full to eat - but I'm not full. But it comes and goes ... and actually much improved after my appointment today.

That's it. I will try to post one more time before Friday.