Fuel for IVF

Many have asked what sort of food I have been eating while preparing for IVF. Keeping my intake simple, I have stuck to the following:

  • Vegetables4dc81320651e4.image.jpg
  • Protein
  • Grain
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Olive oil

Here are the specific foods that have been suggested:

  • During the menstruation period:
    • Increased iron: meat, fish, leafy greens (chard, kale, collard greens, spinach)
    • Bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, kiwi, citrus
  • During the follicle growth period:
    • Broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, pork, fish, olive oil, avocado, eggs, berries
  • During the Ovulation period:
    • Leafy greens (chard, kale, collard greens, spinach), eggs, meat, fish
  • During the luteal period: (warm foods)
    • Carrots, pineapple, cantaloupe, sweet potato, bananas

I have a cocktail of vitamins as recommended from the fertility clinic. There were more recommendations but they either had traces of caffeine in them or were sleep aids, both which I choose to stay away from.

  • Myo-Inositol- 2000
  • CoQ10- 800
  • L’Arginine- 2000
  • DHA- 1000
  • Vitamin E- 400
  • Vitamin C- 500
  • Vitamin D- 3000
  • Vitamin B- 500
  • Pre-Natal/Folate- 400
  • NAC- 1000

*I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. Please consult yours before taking these supplements.

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Peace in the Wait

This is not easy. I have turned a corner and I feel as though I’m heading into a cave. I know I have been MIA.

We made the decision to move forward with IVF at Shady Grove in Maryland just about 6 weeks ago. We contemplated jumping right into the cycle as soon as we made the decision, but my chest grew tight with the thought of trying to squeezing it into our already full schedule and reworking some things seemed a little rushed.

Calm.jpgNo, we will wait the extra month and some change before we begin the process. That seems like the best idea and the calmest and serene and yet the waiting has not been easy. I have tried to keep my mind occupied with other things and use this waiting period as an exercise in trusting God, focusing on the here and now, and practicing the belief that what is in front of me is exactly what I’m supposed to be spending my time on, not the future.

I have plenty of projects to keep my body busy, but it’s my heart that I cannot control. The longing to know the outcome.

For the most part, though, I have been pretty surrendered to the process. Open handed to the fact that we don’t have all the answers at this point and we might not in the future. My body feels calm and my mind is relaxed.

Onto the Next Chapter…

We have found ourselves to be on the same page.

Thank you, God, we are able to discuss our options and see that we have landed feet-first on the answer.

I would have liked to have come to this decision many months ago, but I now see we needed to gather as much information as possible and let ourselves truly sit in prayer and quiet with this decision.

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We will move forward with Dr. O’Brien at Shady Grove Fertility in Maryland.

My heart is calm and there is a smile on my face.

I feel a sense of relief and excitement as I know we are making the best decision at this moment with the information that is being presented.

With Hubby experiencing the same calming feeling, we began looking at the calendar to see when it makes sense to start this next step.

I’ll be honest, I want to get this thing going right now.

…No time to waste.

The issue is that I’m needing to focus on what in on my plate right now and when I get quiet with myself I know that starting the protocol right now would be too much.

I want my body to be in the best condition to truly relax and provide the best quality of eggs. Not to mention to prepare me with the overabundance of medications that are about to be pumped into my body.

This isn’t something that can be ‘fit in’ to the rest of an already busy schedule.

We both decide it’s best to wait the 2 months necessary to when our work and social schedules are calmer and we are able to give this first step our best shot.

Painful as it is to hurry up and wait, I trust that we are being wise with the decision we have made.

I am giddy.

We begin to look at flights… Just looking.

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Ok not just looking.

We end up booking what we think will be our target dates.

(Thank you Southwest miles for your no-penalty refund policy).

Eek, we are really doing this.

I can’t get too excited though, there is still a lot of time between now and then and a lot that needs to happen.

To do list:

  • Blood work for infectious/communicable diseases (check and safe!)
  • Mandatory consult with PGS Genetic testing lab (scheduled)
  • Watch an hour of short videos with questions in order to sign consent forms (great Friday night date, check)
  • Outline additional expenses to have a detailed idea of what to expect (check)
  • Check in with our nurse regarding all the random questions (see below)
  • Continue a healthy workout and eating routine (check)
  • Show up to my life as it is and wait (uh…working on it)

As someone who is prone to ‘do’ all the time, I can handle the action items well.

I light up with things to physically do as it makes me feel like I have control over if this will work and it makes me feel like I am contributing, which I am. What I need to recognize though is that my doing is not going to better my chances of having a good retrieval (full of great eggs) or that I will be able to control the outcome.

All I can do is what is in front of me (which is only about 1%) and let God do the rest (the other 99%).

Random questions we asked our nurse:

  1. Q: What medications are needed for the FET?
    A: Estrace (pill, 3x/day), Progesterone oil (shots)
  2. Q: Do we need to come in for a mock embryo transfer?
    A: Nope, they can pass the catheter at the time of the retrieval to make sure everything is open and ready for FET.
  3. Q: What types of office visits will we need to do prior to the IVF egg retrieval?
    A: One baseline appointment (ultrasound, estrogen, HCG, progesterone), a couple check in appointments (ultrasound, estrogen).
  4. Q: What are your thoughts/recommendations for acupuncture?
    A: It seems to help calm anxiety and there is a possibility of doing it at the clinic wellness center.
  5. Q: What foods and supplements should I be taking?
    A: Pre-Natal (400mg folic acid), Myo-Inositol (2000mg)
  6. Q: What outdoor activities can I do (i.e. skiing, working out)?
    A: Stay away from any high-impact workouts
    (so if I go slow, can I still ski?)
  7. Q: If we get a positive pregnancy test, what do we next?
    A: Pregnancy test through blood work, day 13 after FET, day 15 after FET and day 17 after FET to make sure hormone levels are going up.
  8. Q: How long after a live birth does SG recommend waiting to do a 2nd round for baby #2 (yes, I’m totally hopeful and future-tripping)?
    A: I would have to be done with breastfeeding prior to starting the next cycle.
  9. Q: How consistent do I need to be with the timing each day with the injections and do I need to consider the time change for when we travel to Maryland for the days prior to the retrieval?
    A: It would be good to be consistent with the time of injections and consider the time change, although doing the injections an hour or two off isn’t the worst.

Pause within the Journey

The quiet brings peace.

Like a fine wine, I gave myself permission to let this information breath.

Give this decision some space in my mind.

When I quiet my mind and body, I can hear that small voice.

It is clear that going abroad is not sitting well with me. Doing IVF stateside is my truth.

Hubby is clear that doing IVF here in Colorado is not an option. That is his truth.

Shady Grove in Maryland is our only option for IVF.

If we do not agree with this, then we will have to agree to disagree and move onto adoption.


We have a phone consult with Dr. O’Brien at Shady Grove Fertility in Maryland. We had heard of this clinic at the 4th of July party we attended in July and kept is as an option for a few reasons, they:

  • have high success rates (higher than CCRM & Conceptions in many categories).
  • offer a shared risk program where we could pay a flat rate and receive up to 6 embryo transfers, if we do not have a live birth then we are refunded 100% of our medical costs (not including medicine). Other clinics offer a shared risk, but they only return 60-80%.
  • are in a Mandate state. There are 15 states that are “Mandate states” which cover infertility treatments. This helps keep the out-of-pocket costs low.

The conversation was a breath of fresh air.

Her review of my labs and all that we have already done up until this point helped me relax into what her recommendations were for how she would proceed.

She impressed me.

She confirmed that although I do NOT have PCOS, I have many symptoms that would lead people to believe that I do.

She is not going to diagnose me as the goal is to get pregnant, not figure out my issues.

I understand this and I would agree that although it would be great to ‘fix’ me, I just want to become pregnant and have a healthy baby.

Interestingly enough, Dr. O’Brien and Dr. G. completed their Fellowship together. Small world!

Her approach to ‘pull out all the stops’ with me is also calming.

We aren’t here to mess around.

The phone consult ended with her giving follow-up action steps and before the end of the day, my inbox was full of information from her nurse.


I return to my peaceful place.

It’s not the time to make any decisions.

We have 3 months before we would need to take any action- at CCRM or at Shady Grove… or adoption.

I give this back to you God.


When I close my eyes and quiet my mind, I hear God say, ‘trust me, you don’t need to do IVF, you will have your own children.’Still-Small-Voice.jpg

What does this mean?

Can I trust this?

I’m scared to write this as I don’t want to commit myself to anything certain.

I don’t want to do IVF if, in the end, we won’t get pregnant and God knows this already and is trying to tell me.

I also don’t know how much I trust this voice.

As I look back over my life, I know the voice is there but have I always trusted it?

Have there been times when I’ve trusted that voice and made a decision based off of it, and then regretted it?

I can’t remember.


Taking some time away from all of this and just sitting quietly for the next few months will be a good approach.

If there is any way for us to do it earlier, then I will take action, knowing that God is with me.

 

Disconnected

We have become information gatherers.

Clicking through websites, reading reviews, talking with friends and friends of friends, scrolling through Reddit posts, praying, journaling, and just waiting.

Side note: Through our visits with different doctors, I was diagnosed with PCOS (again). I’m over the idea of diagnosis. At this point, I don’t really care, as long as we can get pregnant.

I am tired.

I know this is a big decision and it would be so much easier if someone would make it for me. It doesn’t work that way.

I am an adult and adults make decisions and learn to live with the outcomes.

I just don’t want to make a decision because I don’t want to be wrong and I certainly don’t want to regret the path we decide to take… wondering, what if…

As I mentioned, we have done our research, from Colorado-based clinics to North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Barbados, Mexico, Canada, Israel, and the Czech Republic.

There is no shortage of IVF clinics around the world.

The question is which one is going to be our best option for becoming pregnant and carrying a baby full-term?

We have learned that the percentage of success with a fresh transfer is much lower and therefore it would be recommended to do a frozen transfer… meaning at least 2 cycles and 2 separate visits to whichever clinic we decide upon.

The lingo has become second nature to me so let me share the process:

  • Since I don’t have a period to even begin this process, that is where they will begin.
  • I will start birth control to get my body onto a cycle. I will take medication for 21 days and then go off to create a bleed. Day 1.
  • Starting on Day 2 or 3, I will begin follicle stimulating medications (these are shots) on a daily basis for upwards of 10 days.
  • Doctors will monitor the medication through bloodwork and ultrasounds, measuring the size of the follicles. The goal is to get as many follicles growing as possible.
  • Around day 10-12 of my cycle, I will give myself an HCG trigger shot to force ovulation.
  • 36 hours after the shot they will put me under (with anesthesia) and surgically remove the eggs from my body. They do this by sticking each follicle-cyst with a needle that drains the liquid carrying the egg into the doctor’s care.
  • From here they will use Hubby’s sample and fertilize all the viable eggs.
  • Watching the eggs for 5-6 days to see which are growing healthy cells they can insert an egg back in me. This is a Fresh transfer.
  • The remaining eggs (now called blastocysts) are tested for proper chromosomes.
  • The healthy blastocysts are frozen to be used another time.
  • When we were ready, doctor’s would then recreate a cycle through medication and by suppressing ovulation would then transfer one of our eggs back into me. This is called a Frozen transfer.

There is a higher success rate for Frozen transfers based on a variety of factors.

  • The blastocysts used are chromosomally healthy
  • The body is clear of the medications used for stimulation

All this makes me wonder if I’m trying too hard to make something happen that clearly is not in the cards for me.

Meaning, this whole process is supposed to happen naturally. Instead, IVF is the process by which doctors take over the whole conception process and MAKE it all happen. (Although they don’t make the baby stay in… meaning there is still a whole lot of God in all of this process of the baby attaching and growing healthy to full-term).

Since my body doesn’t do it naturally then maybe I need to simply accept that my body is not created to do this whole getting pregnant thing on its own and to let it be.

I am wrestling with this.

I know God created women to carry babies and even commanded that we be fruitful and multiply. God, we are trying! WHY don’t you help us fulfill this?

I know that my body has not ‘worked’ normally for years:

  • So is it MY WILL trying to have my own baby?

OR

  • It is for me to be grateful that modern science has closed the gap for those of us whose bodies don’t work as they are supposed to?

When I sit with this, I am torn. I just want God to bless us with children.

But I want so badly to have a family and to have my own babies. When I sit quietly, I know God is with me and that He is pleased with either decision (IVF or adoption).

So what is the next step?


We sit on opposite sides of the street, disconnected. With all the research on which clinic we would go with, Hubby and I are split.Image result for disconnected

Currently, I feel comfortable with the two Colorado-based clinics (CCRM and Conceptions). Hubby feels comfortable with a clinic abroad.

I don’t like being disconnected. It’s much easier when we are on the same team and the same page moving forward. So does this mean we are at a wash? Needing to agree to disagree on how to move forward with IVF?

Possibly.

What this means then is that I am going to have to move on from IVF and begin looking into adoption.

Am I ready to move on from IVF?

No

But if Hubby and I aren’t able to be on the same page, I might have to.