What made it work? IVF prep, God’s grace, and a fabulous RE!

For some time I have felt the need to write about some of the different things that I did leading up to my IVF cycle that could have helped it work.  One will never know what exactly did the trick.  Mostly, I just give all the credit to God and figure it just FINALLY was the right time for us.  Nonetheless, the further out I am getting from our cycle, the more I seem to forget.  I never thought I would say that as we lived it for so long – the shots, the oral medications, the vaginal suppositories, but I am.

So, let’s get to it…

One of the first things I did upon discovering that I might have endometriosis earlier this April, was to get on what I am calling a anti-negative immune system regimen.  There are some negative immune things going on in endo, I sought to counter these effects with:

DHEA 20mg.  I took a very low dose.  DHEA had many positive effects apart from increasing the better parts of my immune system and decreasing some of the unwelcome parts.   (I could go into so much more detail about DHEA and get all scientific, but don’t want to lose you, so we’ll stick with my better/unwelcome parts analogy. ) Apparently it also helps with egg quality.  (Somehow, according to our RE, all our embryos turned out “perfect”, so I’m thinking this really helped.)  Was my RE really on board?  Not really, but they let me stay on it. There are a lot of clinics around the country utilizing DHEA as part of their IVF protocols.  In my humble opinion, I think we will begin to see more of it.

DHA.  Found in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, I took some additional DHA on the side.  Also, to help out my immune system and improve my egg quaility.

Vitamin D – 2000IU.  I increased my Vitamin D intake as it also appears to modulate the immune system.

Melatonin 3mg every night to help improve egg quality.

…I figured if endo was preventing my embryos from implanting or attacking them prior to even reaching my uterus, well, it was time for me to take the offensive position and get it UNDER control. I will never really know how my immune system was really functioning as I did not undergo testing.  Nonetheless, I felt these changes were very important and there was enough literature out there to support them. On a side note, as much as I loved my RE, he isn’t really into the whole immune system side of things and only begins to delve into these things in women with recurrent miscarriages. He kinda laughed at me when I brought it up early in our treatment, but I carried on anyway.

Next, I ordered a book.  IVF Success Program.

This book was GREAT!  Definitely overwhelming and there is NO way you can incorporate everything into your life.  But it provides all the research on everything from diet to exercise to medications to acupuncture to little changes that can make all the difference in having a successful IVF cycle.  A few changes I made as a result of reading it were that I started going to acupuncture again.  I went once a week and then on the day of my transfer, I had acupuncture before and after.   I tried to incorporate more pH basic foods into my diet including cucumbers, red peppers, kale, etc…while decreasing pH acidic foods such as red meat in hopes to encourage more positive changes in my immune system and overall fertility.  She also recommends drinking mint tea everyday…so mint tea I did.  I am not going to get into all the research here.  Too much to talk about, but I really liked the book.  She also goes over the whole process from starts to finish, the different medications you are on and all of the tests you will endure.  There is a yoga book included, as well as a menu planner, and a journal to track your experience.  She also talks about the research behind the eating of pineapple core for 5 days post transfer….

Thus, that is what I did.  Pineapple core post transfer for 5 days!  Just the core.  The bromine helps with implantation.

I had NO caffeine whatsoever, no alcohol, and apart from a few luna bars each week, did not consume any soy products.

I was on bed rest for 2 days post transfer and was not allowed to exercise or have sex until we had our positive beta.  Our RE wanted my body in REST mode.  Walking was okay as long as it wasn’t too strenuous and I kept my heart rate under 140bpm.

These are the main things I did to improve our chances of success.  I really believe they helped as our embryo quality was “perfect” on all of our embryos according to our RE and embryologist. Also, I felt really good throughout our cycle and think the acupuncture and diet changes really helped with that.  Yet more than anything, I prayed…a LOT and left the whole cycle in God’s hands.  I realized pretty early on that worrying would get me NOWHERE.  I had no control except to take my medications and eat as best as possible, the rest was up to my body and God.  I knew that if He willed it to happen that it was going to happen.  I just had to keep the faith, keep the trust!  Of course, I got anxious from time to time and fretted and worried and googled, but as quickly as I would see my mind spiral out of control and count us out for this cycle, I would try to take captive these thoughts and replace them with ones of faith and belief.  Mind over matter.  I was NOT going to let my worries get the best of me.

Of course, I realize that my RE deserves a great deal of credit too!  Oregon Reproductive has an AWESOME protocol and amazing doctors and I feel SO blessed to have received care under them!

Post transfer, I was on Endometrin 3x daily, Estrace 2x daily, and Aspirin.  I am still on the Endometrin and Aspirin and only finally got off the estrogen last week.  I am hoping that starting next week I will get to begin my wean from Endometrin.  I still take my 2000IU of Vitamin D and prenatal with DHA, but stopped all other medications.

Anyway, much credit to Dr. Hesla and his colleagues.

Hopefully, I didn’t leave too much else out. If so, I will add it in later.  I have really enjoyed other bloggers post of things they have done to improve their success so thought it important to contribute my own!  All the best to all of you!  I am praying for so many of you and am so thankful for this community!

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Ultrasound # 1 at 6 weeks 6 days!!!!!

Our ultrasound couldn’t have gone any better.  Our baby…yep, just one…is growing beautifully and perfectly measuring right on schedule!  It was a HUGE relief.  We are so excited and it made it all so much more real!!!  We have been curious leading up to this ultrasound if we would be having 1 or 2.  When I initially received my first beta result a few weeks ago and it was 98, our RE told us at that time it would probably be just 1, but then when my beta quadrupled in 2 days, we thought maybe they had both made it.  I was really rooting for both of them…but having found out the news today, honestly, I felt a HUGE sense of relief wash over me.  Twins would have been fun, but there also would have been a lot more risk involved to both them and me.  A single pregnancy is the best for baby and mom and I really am so thankful that though we put in 2 what was meant for us was one.  There is a small part of me that wonders about that other embryo…was it a chromosomal thing, did it just not find a good spot on my uterus, did my body just only allow one…who will ever know and I won’t dwell on it, but I am just so thankful to have 1 healthy, strong growing baby!  Thank you, God!!!  This is the greatest gift I could ever possibly dream of!

And…I get to officially graduate to my regular OB!  Yeah!  We are SOOO excited to have appointments closer to home and no more paying out of pocket for everything!  It’s the small things, right? : ) But, of course, we would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Thanks for all your support!  It means the world to me!

Ultrasound, ultrasound…what will you show?

Tomorrow I will be 7 weeks pregnant.  Today, in about 45 minutes, I will leave for my ultrasound appointment.  I have been anxiously anticipating this day for the past 3.5 weeks upon discovering that we were pregnant.  Since then I have had a few symptoms including frequent urination, sore breasts, acne (YUCK!), and one bout of nausea where I actually threw up.  Other than that and being tired there has been little to report and often my emotions play with me and I wonder if I could really be pregnant.  Luckily, according to the “What to Expect” book, I have learned that these are very normal feelings.

It is just so hard after all we have been through to get to this point, plus the overwhelming awareness of so many tragedies in our IF community and joy-filled pregnancy announcements quickly turning sour.  At moments I project these stories onto my own and assume the worst for myself.  I quickly try to shake myself from these thoughts.  I guess it is just hard to accept that my story is my story and it will be different than every other story.  The best thing I can do for myself is to keep the faith and stay positive.

It just always comes back to that for me.  Hope, Faith, TRUST!

Will keep you posted!

Thank you for all of your support!!!!