Egg Retrieval!!!!!

I forgot to mention in the last post, during the injections I had to go into the Dr’s office every other morning at 6:30 to be monitored. They checked to see how I responded to the medications. I started them all June 23rd and by the middle of the next week there was some concern that I could “do better” meaning my follicle production wasn’t as bountiful as it had been in the past. The thing with my PCOS is that it’s hit or miss. When Dr. Dhesi asked me if I wanted to cancel this cycle and start again next month I said no. Sad to say, a major concern for me was that I had already injected about $1500 worth of medicine that wasn’t paid for by insurance. I took a leap of faith and hoped that my body was just slow to respond. We continued and by Friday 6/30 I had 17 follicles that were bigger than 10mm. We were good to schedule the retrieval for July 5th! It was perfect because I had already requested the 5th to the 10th off for Maria and Matt’s Wedding!

On the 4th we went in for the pre-op info, blood work and my trigger injection! We left the office, got Donut Friend and went to our old neighbors 4th of July Breakfast. Then we did a Trader Joe’s run to make sure the house was stocked for the next few days and made sure the house was comfy and clean. Then went to Sara Bond’s 4th of July BBQ. We had to leave before the fireworks to make sure I got a good night’s rest, I imagined my follicles growing just a bit more if I got some good sleep! But it was great catching up with friends and relaxing before the big day!!

Also! Wouldn’t you know, as soon as all the IVF stuff was falling into place, we got a call from our social worker. She needed us to come to her office in Glendora on the 5th, so being the mainiacs we are, Nick and I thought “no problem”, I’ll go under around 7:30am, then after surgery we’ll get something to eat and go to the DCFS office. Or if I feel terrible we’ll cancel. That’s called concurrent planning folks!!

So sure enough we got to the Dr’s office around 6:30am. They took us took us to the OR waiting area and I changed into a hospital gown, booties and a hair cap thing. I emptied my bladder but then the gave me an IV to keep me hydrated so i had to go one more time before the surgery. Once I was in the actual OR they put me in the leg stirrups and I looked to check out the the little window to the embryologist lab. After Dr. Dhesi skillfully guides a loooooooooong needs through my vaginal wall and abdominal cavity into my plump ovaries, she’ll suck out the ripe eggs and pass them through the window for the embryologist to fertilize with Nick’s sperm. And then we’d have some Test Shoob Babies!

Before I knew it, the anesthesiologist had hooked me up to the propofol and it was lights out! I woke up with a post-it on my gown that said 15! That’s the number of eggs that were successfully retrieved! I felt so well rested, like I had slept all night. All the nurses were so incredible and sweet. After monitoring me and helping me to pee one more time, they said we could leave. We asked if we could go do normal stuff, they said yes, but I couldn’t drive and I shouldn’t make any major decisions bc of the anesthesia (hah!!) So we ran home and I changed into normal clothes (out of my sweats) since I wanted to make a good impression with our social worker. We had some time to get a bite so we went to Lavender and Honey and got coffee (I could have coffee!!!) and avocado toast (the possibility that we’ll need to save for 15 college educations hadn’t sunk in yet!). Soon after that we were on our way to Glendora, we shouldn’t have been surprised when our lady was late. We asked the receptionist to call her when it was past a reasonable amount of time. They had no idea who she was and I ended up calling the # I had for her. She said she’s was almost there, I guess this wasn’t her normal office. Anyway she finally showed up, rushed us off to a room and frantically thumbed through the pages of our file checking things off. She said we’re “mostly done” and that she’d come to do the final home inspection July 19th. We were OK with that, all we needed was a trip to IKEA for the items we had been waiting to get until we had an inspection date. We were almost done painting the crib Nick’s mom gave us!

On 7/6 we got our first update about the embryos! 12 were doing ok! One was was being watched and 1 didn’t survive.

7/10 we were told we had 4 blastocysts that were biopsied and they were watching the remaining 4 embryos to biopsy hopefully the next day.

7/11 – only 2 of the 4 made it to biopsy so we had 6 total!!!

The biopsied cells were sent off to Progenesis and about a week later we got the results that 3 were normal.

So to recap:

15 mature oocytes retrieved, all were injected (ICSI) with Nick’s sperm

12 fertilized

6 embryos biopsied / 3 were normal

So we have 3 that were frozen @ blastocysts stage that are PGS normal blastocysts

When Progenesis looks at the chromosomes to check for any abnormalities they also let us know the sex of the blastocysts!! We ended up with 1 boy and 2 girls!

After our crazy week we headed out to the Lake Arrowhead area and had a super fun weekend celebrating Maria and Matt’s wedding! It was really beautiful and awesome and since the kids we’re “away at camp” I was able to fully enjoy all the festivities, although I still had to dance carefully so I didn’t twist my enlarged ovaries. Maria was also so sweet to give me and Nick the bridal suite to sleep in. She knew what a wild ride the week had been for us! They had a cabin already but I still couldn’t get over the fancy room they gave us! <33

Our next step in the IVF process was to get my uterine lining to be as thick and nourishing as it could be for our little “Blasts” to land on and burrow into when we do the transfer. As soon as my cycle started I began estrogen pills, 2 oral and one vaginal every day.

We continued to prepare for the landing of a foster baby too… the baby room was all set! But on the day of our home visit the social worker called at the time of our appointment to cancel. She said I could just send her pictures?? I snapped photos of all the stuff we did: the furnished baby room with crib, dresser/changing table, we had a high chair, lil potty, car seat, playpen, tons of bottles and baby clothes (when you get a baby from DCFS they are usually removed from an unsafe situation quickly and have very few if any of their own belongings) Thanks to friends, family, craigslist and my employees discount we were all stocked up. Down to the safety latches on everything, locking medicine cabinet, lowered water heater temperature and kitchen knives on a magnetic strip well out of reach of a little one.

I went in for my next ultrasound and my lining was thin. It stayed that way unfortunately and even with a last stitch effort to add more estrogen via patches, we had to wait until the following month to see if my lining would get thicker for the transfer. I decided to use my time wisely and get more healthy. I started acupuncture because a lot of people say it helps with fertility. I felt it couldn’t hurt so I went in for a total of 4 sessions. I was advised by the practitioner to eat eggs. I told her I don’t do that, that I’d been vegan for 3 ½ years. She explained to me that eating cholesterol was beneficial in helping to get the hormones I was taking into my body and work better, so I decided that I would eat eggs for a short amount of time to improve the success of the IVF. I looked on craigslist for people in my neighborhood with pet chickens who sold eggs and I found Barbara. She is a mom to 2 cute kids, 6-7 chickens, a rooster and 2 sweet dogs! When I went to pick up the eggs she asked me if I wanted to meet the chickens, at the risk of being SOOOO Portlandia, I said yes. They were very well cared for and seemed happy. I gave Barbara $4 for 4 very pretty eggs. Later when telling my dear friend Chevery Robert Dickens that I didn’t think I could say I was a vegan anymore, he replied “Sometimes you have to take a life to make a life” :/

When I went in for my check up, it was working!! The hikes, the eggs, the castor oil packs on my fupa, the acupuncture, the estrogen pills/patches and all the good vibes I’ve been getting from everyone since we started Test Shoob Babies were all helping. Nick and I were so excited to hear my lining was thick enough to proceed.

I started Progesterone shots. They are intramuscular injections that go in my buttox and they are quite literally a pain in my ass. Especially trying to do them myself at work. I am not very limber and they bleed a lot. But hey this is it. I have to stick to what needs to be done and hopefully get the result we want.

We had the embryo transfer scheduled for Sept 5th!!!! There was just one little thing…. When Nick and I spoke to Dr. Baker at our initial consultation she said they usually transfer 2 embryos, because it’s more successful. Even if you end up with just one embryo that sticks. But Nick and I had it in our heads that we’ll transfer 2 and obviously they’ll both survive and we’ll have adorable boy/girl twins! Later when I spoke with Dr. Dhesi about the transfer she said we should really just do one since we had the Preimplantation Genetic Screening and that we would have a really good chance of conceiving if we transfer just 1. But when I told her how much Nick and I wanted to transfer 2 she spoke with Dr. Baker again and they said it would be OK!!!

That was it. Everything was set. Next up we transfer 2 of the embryos back to me and hope they like it and want to stay!!!

Hit me with your best shot!

After our consultation and our carrier map results we did a final IUI since we didn’t have a Letter of Authorization for IVF treatment yet, just for the consultation. This time we didn’t have sex as many times as possible after the IUI like usual and I immediately felt bad about it. I committed my BFF’s Palm Springs Bachelorette party. I wanted to get on the road before traffic got bad so she and I headed out early afternoon. Before we left Nick and I gave it one more go. I should mention this round I was on Menopur injections which weren’t too bad. But on June 1st I got the negative test result. It was sad but sort of expected, by this time I had a list of things I determined I’d done wrong (not enough sleep, didn’t eat healthy, or cut out caffein, too stressed etc.)

Our plan now, was to wait for the letter and when we got back from the Alaska cruise we’d start. I promised myself I wouldn’t mess anything up. On June 4th I started my period and since we weren’t leaving for the cruise until the 7th I asked if we could begin birth control, that’s the first part of the IFV treatment. The Dr. agreed it would be OK to start after looking at my bloodwork and U/S. I think my body was exhausted. The first days on the cruise I got sick. It could have been something I picked up on the boat but I think I might have just been beat. I slept a lot since we had some days at sea and by the time we’re got to Ketchikan I was feeling better. I took my pills and enjoyed the crisp cool air and the fine mist that was constantly falling on us.The natural beauty of Alaska was exactly what we needed! On the 20th I was off the birth control and we met again with the fertility office staff to sign the HUGE stack of consent forms that we had read through on our drive back from SF. I also got the schedule drugs I’d be taking.

There was another test I needed to do before they could begin everything. They put a lot of saline in my uterus to check the surface of the lining and make sure it’s suitable for the IVF transfer. The Dr. who performed it was Dr. Dhesi. She was introduced to me by Dr. Baker and she ended up taking over our treatment. I really love Dr. Baker, but Dr. Dhesi was great and I have come to love her as much as Dr. Baker. She is very calm and smart and patient and just an all around sweet lady. The test went fine and we were good to continue.

On the 2nd day of my cycle I began injections. I had been watching videos online bc this was very intimidating. The biggest difference between this and the injections I had done already was that I had to mix the medicine myself. One of the videos I found very helpful was made by a couple who are doing IVF, they’re super cute and I still watch all their videos, but the thing that won me over is that Alex (the lady doing the injections in the video), is that she’s a nurse and she was very clear and calm and did her shots like a pro! So watch that, then you can compare and contrast what a hot mess I was when doing my first injections!

The night I started my injections I had an early shift at work and then we went to go visit Nick’s cousin Frank who was at Cedars Sinai for a very serious procedure. Nick hadn’t seen Frank or his sister in such a long time so we wanted to pop in and show them some love. Frank was very hungry, hospital food wasn’t cutting it for him. He REALLY wanted PIZZA!!!!!!!! But he couldn’t have any bc there was too much of a risk if he ate solid foods. We made every attempt to change the subject but somehow it always came back to food :((( poor guy! Nick’s cousin Theresa decided we should give Frank and his wife Kathy some alone time so we went off and ate and caught up with her. She is a very sweet lady and she loves us based mostly on our Facebook relationship, lol but she is awesome and we totally adore her too!!! By the time we got home it was a later than I had anticipated and I was more tired than I had anticipated. I laid out the vials of medicine and the syringes. I had to withdraw 1ml of saline and inject it into one vial of menopur, mix it carefully then withdraw it from the vial and then inject it into another vial of menopur then change the needle and inject it in me. Then I had to mix saline with Gonal-F and withdraw 150 units. I didn’t have a system at this point and I wasn’t used to seeing what the medicine looked like in the vial vs. the syringe and right after I did the injections I had a SERIOUS freak out. SHEER PANIC. I looked at the Gonal-F vial and it looked so empty I was confused, and thought I took way too much!!!! Nick was trying to help me figure out what I did wrong but I got mad and closed the bathroom door so that I could have a minute to retrace what I had done and figure it out. THIS made him more upset and we both agreed that it was a horrible experience. I wasn’t truly put at ease until the next night when I did the Gonal-F and saw that I had more than enough left (1 vial got me 3-4 doses). Anyhoo. The next night went a lot smoother and the following night even better. Nick attempted to record the first session but it came to a screeching halt with my freak out.

It wasn’t til I had been doing the injections for a while that I was comfortable enough to have Nick record. I had done them at work in the Lactation Room which was a little weird, but nothing compares to sitting in the back seat of my little Suzuki with untinted windows in the dimly lit parking lot of King Hua Restaurant during the reception for our friend’s John and Maura’s wedding! I was certain someone would see and call the cops bc it looked like I was doing drugs!!!! And I was… with my dress pulled up to my chest exposing my bruised belly. So awkward.

Later that week we did the final shots, including the trigger shot!! Up next was the egg retrieval we had long awaited!

Testing the Genes


DNA by Micah Baldwin


One of the most fascinating parts of the IVF process is all of the genetic testing that we did. There are many types of genetic testing that couples can do, your doctor will recommend what one is right for you. For Nicole and I, we went with a Carrier Map test of our genes, as well as a pre-implantation genetic testing. In that test they actually remove a single cell from the embryo and have it tested before it’s implanted back into Nicole.

The Carrier Map test was super simple. We each had a bit of blood drawn and then our doctor sent it off to Recombine for genetic analysis. While at Recombine, our DNA was checked to see if we held and genes for hereditary diseases. The majority of hereditary diseases are recessive, meaning that both parents would need to be a carrier of the gene for it to be expressed in the child. Think of it like having red hair.

The genes our DNA was screened for were based off of our nationality and family history. In total I was screened for 289 diseases and Nicole was screened for 314. We were warned that with this amount of screening there is always something that they find. The important thing is that we do not have the same gene issue. If only one of us is a carrier there our child could be a carrier but not affected by the disease.

Our results! We were contacted be Recombine once our results were ready and set up a 7am conference call to go over everything. On the call a wonderful woman named Sheila gave us the results and told us all about what we were carriers for. In total were carriers for 6 diseases. However, the great news was that none of them overlapped so we didn’t need to worry about our future kids. Sheila also asked follow-up questions about our family history so that she could write up a report that went so far as to break down the percentage of passing anything down to our kids. All in all the results were great and our risk of passing anything down is very low. The specific things they found were:

Nick- carrier for; Biotinidase Deficiency, Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation, Glycogen Storage Disease: Type VII, and Hereditary Fructose Intolerance.

Nicole- carrier for; Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease, Gaucher Disease

It was awesome to hear what things we were carriers for and what they did. For the most part mine had to do with my body breaking down sugar. This is interesting because my dad hates fruit, but in reality it’s a personal preference and not actually affected by the genes, though I still think it’s funny. For Nicole, it was fun to learn that she may be an Ashkenazi Jew because she carries the Gaucher Disease gene. But she is more convinced that I just like saying the word Ashkenazi.

Because we are not carriers for the same diseases we did not need to have our embryos tested for a specific gene, but we still did pre-implantation genetic testing. They removed a single cell from the embryo and checked its genetic structure to make sure there was nothing awry. All in all the results were great. Stay tuned for future post about the results as well as chromosome testing and the sex of our embryos!