September 30, 2009

Last update...

Well, I think it should be the last update until our (hopefully great) news on the 9th!

We were waiting for the final call from the embryologist today to let us know if/how many embryos we were going to have to freeze. They said that they watch them into day 6 just to make sure they are able to see if any are high enough quality by that point.

We have 3 that were able to be frozen!! 3 snowflake babies!! She said there were 2 level BCC (just like the two they implanted), and 1 CCB. So we are every excited, because this will mean an easier/shorter/less expensive cycle in the future when we are ready to have another child! Praise Jesus!!

I'm enjoying my bedrest so far...it is pretty nice to have a couple days where I'm 'required' to stay in bed or on the couch! Not sure how fun it would be long term, but for the next few days, I'm just considering it a treat!! Especially because I have this little snuggle-bug curled up right next to me!!!

I think Betsy really is on bedrest every day when we're not here!!!

Thanks for your continued prayers!!

September 29, 2009

Transfer Day!!!

We made it to embryo transfer day, and it all went SO well!!! We were so excited about today, as you'll see in these pictures, and are so thankful that we have had this opportunity!!


Here is Justin waiting for everything to get going...

And me...just a bit excited!
Then it was time for Justin to get dressed... the shoe covers just about didn't fit!! He is 6'7", so most things that are made for 'average' sized men don't usually fit him!


What a cutie!!

The embryologist came to talk to us about our embryos and the procedure, and she gave us the picture of the two they were going to transfer. She said they looked really good. She pointed out that they, especially the one on the right, were starting to be egg shaped, and that shows that they are getting ready to hatch out of the egg. Before this process, I had no idea that our human eggs have to "hatch", but they do! The cells have to hatch out of the outer shell so they can implant into the uterine lining. So ours on right on track!! (Don't quote me on all the medical facts as a I state them...I'm not in the medical field, so this is my understanding based on what they tell me and the research I've done!)


Here they are!!! They both have the same rating, ExBL(BCC). This stands for Expanded blastocyst, and the letters are the rating of the three different parts: the inner ball of cells (becomes the baby), outer cells (becomes the placenta), and the cavity space between them. The scale runs from A being the best to F being the worst. She said these were very good embryos. We have a few more they are still watching tonight and tomorrow, and they will let us know if we have any that are high enough quality to freeze tomorrow. To freeze, they have to be an Expanded Blastocyst CCC or higher. So we'll see!



We were super excited, and had to take (we are praying and hoping!!!) our first family picture!!!

We so appreciate everyone's prayers as we travel this journey. I can't tell you how many wonderful emails, texts, comments, and words of encouragement we've gotten, and we are so thankful! We are believing that this will be our time to get pregnant and become parents. Thank you for believing with us! We have to wait 10 more days...October 9th is our pregnancy test, and between now and then, I'm planning on laying low, thinking pregnant thoughts =), and trusting God for our future!!!!

September 27, 2009

Day 3 Embryo Update...

We got our day 3 update on our embryos right after church this morning, and things are looking great! As of today, there are 8 excellent, 10 good, 1 poor, and 5 very poor. This is amazing news because it means that 18 of the 24 that fertilized were in the top two categories!!! We asked the embryologist if these were normal numbers, and she said that they were very good! We will have a lot to work with! So thank you, Jesus!!!

They will not check on them again until Tuesday, when we come in for the transfer. Our transfer is scheduled for Tuesday at 1pm, and we have to arrive an hour early. Can't wait!!!

Thanks for your continued prayers!

September 25, 2009

The Number...

Guess how many eggs fertilized???? 24!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The embryologist just called to tell us, and said that this is very good for this point. I thought I'd include a few pictures today so you can understand what is actually going on right now. This picture is what the egg looks like the morning after fertilization--what they should be looking like now. If you look closely, you see two cells in the middle-this is the sign that they fertilized.
This next picture is a high quality 8-celled embryo--what we would see on Day 3 (Sunday). They will call us again on Sunday to let us know how many embryos we have that have continued to divide normally. They have a rating/grading scale that they use to determine which embryos won't continue to divide normally, just like what happens naturally inside a woman's body.
This picture is what you see on Day 5--the day they transfer embryos back into the uterus. It is called the blastocyst stage, and you can see a group of cells in the middle--which develops into the baby, and some around the outside--which develop into the placenta.

Because Justin and I both believe that life begins at conception, any high quality embryos we have more than the two they will transfer back in, we are planning to freeze for later use/future children. You're not guaranteed to get "snowflake babies" (frozen embryos), but we are hoping that we might have some. It makes future IVF processes so much easier, shorter, and even less expensive. So we'll see!!
I'm feeling somewhat better today...still a bit sore. It is a strange feeling. I'm not quite sure if I have more of a bloated feeling with pain, or more tightness pain with a little bit of bloating thrown in. If I breathe in too deeply or try to do a belly laugh, it hurts. Strange feelings. The nurse told us that the first few days are the ones that usually are the hardest, but if you stay super hydrated, you should be okay and have the best chance of not getting hyperstimulated. So yesterday Justin bought me ten 32oz bottles of gatorade, and I am already on #6! So I think all will be fine!
We start the progesterone shots on Sunday, the same day we get our next report on our embryos. So stay tuned!
What a great birthday I had yesterday...fun presents, sweet cards, calls, emails, and facebook messages, yummy food, great family, and best of all 24 possibilities of future children!! (But you will never see me having anywhere near that many children!!) Thanks everyone for making it so special, and all your prayers for us!

September 24, 2009

Success!!!

I just got home after our retrieval and it went so well!! The doctor was able to retrieve 31 eggs!!! WOW! He told Justin, before I had really come to, that he thought about 10 of those were not mature, so we still have at least 20ish possible eggs! They said we will be getting a call before one tomorrow to let us know how many have fertilized, so we're excited!!

I'm a little sore, so I'm planning on just laying low today. But I'm looking forward to a small little birthday celebration with Justin and my parents tonight. Thanks for your prayers!!!

We begin our progesterone shots on Sunday (the long needles), but after some great suggestions from some of you, as well as a pep talk with tips from the nurse, I'm ready for them!! Hey--anything that will help sustain a pregnancy is fine by me!!

PS...I was going to post a picture of me after the retrieval, but after getting up at 5:45am not putting any makeup on, I decided that I didn't really want post that lovely picture. Ick. =)

September 23, 2009

Tomorrow!

Our egg retrieval is at 8am tomorrow!! We have to be there at 7, and they say to expect to be there at least 3 hours. We are so excited, and are praying for successful retrieval of enough eggs, and that fertilization will take place!! Can't wait to share details with you tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for your prayers!!

September 22, 2009

Ready to go!!

My appointment this morning went really well...my follicles did some good growing over the last few days!! We had 30 that were measurable, and another 30 that were smaller ones!! Wow! There were so many that it took her about 15 minutes to count and measure them all!!! Sound like so many, but they will only put back two embryos.

My lining was at a 9.1, which was a little bit less than on Sunday. But this is still in the range they want it to be, and she said that it is probably a little lower just because they brought my shot dose down. So all is well there!

Here are the sizes of the measurable follicles/eggs...

Left ovary--from 14.5mm all the way to a 23.5mm!!

Right ovary--from 14mm to a 19.5!

So we have a lot of great contenders for retrieval, which will be on Thursday at 7am!!! I'm so excited that we are ready to go!! Thanks for your prayers, and I'll report back on Thursday afternoon how it all went!

September 20, 2009

Another love note...

If you haven't read our IVF update from earlier today, don't forget to scroll down after you finish this post. I don't usually post twice in one day, but I just couldn't resist sharing!!! I got another love note in the lawn today. This is my second one from my sweet hubby (if you missed the first one, click here). What a lucky lady I am to have a man who loves me so much, he is willing to mess up the lawn for months, just to make me smile!!


video

(Don't forget to mute the music at the bottom of the page.)



And notice that it is not only pictures, but a video clip as well ...we got a video camera a few weeks ago for a heck of a deal! My father-in-law works at a media store, and they were able to make us an unbelievable deal--a $600 camera that we got for only $175!! Isn't that amazing?!! We always said we wanted to have a video camera for when we have a baby, so I guess we're ready now!! =)

I love you so much, my Justin. I can't imagine living even a moment without you by my side. Thank you for being there for me--and writing me love notes in our lawn!!!

Sunday IVF Update...

It was another great appointment today!!! Praise Jesus!!

It seems like we are in the final stretch of IVF...we have one more appointment on Tuesday morning, and if all is like they anticipate, we will be having the retrieval of the eggs on Thursday. Which, crazy enough, happens to be my 28th birthday!! Wow--what a great birthday present to be at that important step on that day!!

Today's stats...

Lining--11.1!!!! The ideal lining measurement for sustaining a pregnancy is 11-12, so I'm right there!!

Follicles/Eggs-- The right ovary took the lead over the last few days. It had 12 measurable follicles between 13-16mm, with another 10 or so around 11mm. The left also grew, but it didn't have as many in the lead. I had 5 follicles that were between 13.5-15.5mm, and then another 11 or so 12mm or smaller. When the doctor came in to give us our next step, he explained that this was looking VERY good. They like to see groupings of follicles around the same size, which means they will all mature about the same time. He said both ovaries had good groupings, and that they should be just the right size by Tuesday to move on to the next step.

So if all looks good on Tuesday, I will stop the fertility stimulation shots that day, and do a shot called ovidrel that prepares the eggs for ovulation...kind of like the final step in the maturation process. They time this all carefully, so they can go in and retrieve them before my body ovualtes them on its own. The retrieval will be in the afternoon, I think, on Thursday, and then we will transfer 2 embryos back in the next Tuesday!!!

Again, a great appointment with great news, and just a few more days of stimulation...yeah!! Thank you for all your prayers, wonderful comments of encouragement, and great tips. It is so nice to have a support squad that is behind us in this process!! I just can hardly wait to give you all GREAT news on October 8th!!!

September 18, 2009

IVF update...

I just got back from my dr. appointment/sonogram, and all is looking really good so far!!

For those of you familiar with the IUI/IVF process, these numbers and terms will make sense to you, but for the rest of you, I'll try to explain so it is understandable! =)

My lining right now (after 4 days of shots) is at a 7.37mm. The tech said right now in the cycle they'd at least like to see a 5, so we are well ahead of that. This is great news, because in the last 3 IUI cycles I did, my lining never got much over a 7, and I think that is why they didn't work. A lining, as far as I know, should be around 11-12mm thick for it to be a good place for an embryo to implant into.

I have over 40 follicles right now that they are watching/counting. This is A LOT (they want about 10-15 good follicles/eggs at retrieval time), but that is okay, because not all of them will get to the mature size that they need to be at for retrieval (18mm or bigger is considered mature in this process). Right now, my right ovary has 11 measuring at least 11mm, and 18 at 8.5mm. My left ovary has two 13mm, a 12.5mm, two 11.5mm, an 11mm, and fourteen that are 9mm or less. So...so far so good!! Because I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) I naturally have a lot of follicles that could produce eggs, so they watch me VERY carefully. Like I said on the last post...I don't want to be an Octo-mom, and my dr. doesn't want me to be either!!

So the plan is 2 more days of shots, at a slightly lower dose, and I go back in on Sunday morning for another sonogram. The nurse said we will probably be ready for retrieval by the 22 or 23!!! I was thinking it would be later, so this is very exciting!!! Whatever date we do the retrieval, five days after that is when they will put two embryos back in, and then 9 days after that we will find out that it worked and we are pregnant!!! That is what I'm praying for. It seems unreal that possible in 19 days, we could be officially pregnant!!

So all is going great here in our house...well except maybe for my tummy. It is so bruised from all the shots I'm giving myself!! But it is SO worth it all!!

TGIF--Have a great weekend, and check back on Sunday for the good news from that appointment!

September 14, 2009

Another step in IVF...

Here is the spread of drugs that came a few weeks ago for this process. It isn't even all! I actually ordered one more drug today that only lasts 30 days so you have to order it close to when you need it. These are the big needles that Justin will have to do for me---yikes! But I'm not going to worry about those until the time comes! =)Today starts our next part of our IVF journey. For the last 2 weeks or so, I have been doing daily shots of Lupron (the medicine that makes me not ovulate too early). Little needles...no problem! Today I start Gonal-f shots. These are also little needles, and this medicine makes the follicles that contain the eggs start to grow. I have done these before with our prior cycles, but the dosage is upped for IVF. The goal is to create 10-15 eggs, so we have good chances for this cycle bringing us a baby.
Don't worry...I'm not planning on being the next Octomom =) ...my dr will only implant 2 embryos back into me when the time comes. So there is a chance for twins, but not much more than that!

I'm really looking forward to getting this part of the process going. It finally feels like we are on our way! I will go in on Friday for my first sonogram, to see how the follicles are growing so far. Please pray that there will be no side effects from the medicine over the next few weeks, and that we will not have too many follicles grow. There is always the risk of too many, which could lead to something called hyperstimulation, which I definitely don't want! Thanks for your continued prayers, and I will keep you updated!

September 11, 2009

I Remember...

September 11, 2001...




It seems like it all just happened yesterday...


I can remember each and every detail...




Where I was when I first heard...


The reality of what was happening...


That we were being attacked...



How the tears flowed unchecked...

The pain I felt for all of the families...

Watching the coverage over and over.




But most of all, I remember the unity we had as a country.




How our president guided us with a strength that could only have come from God.





I pray that our country will remember...

That we will be the UNITED States again soon.


God Bless America...





I remember.


September 8, 2009

Triathlon #2!!

Yesterday we spent the morning watching Justin complete his second triathlon. Let me just tell you...my husband is amazing! Along with all the other people who also do triathlons. I just can't imagine ever being able to do one of them...I mean swimming 300 meters, biking 15 miles, and then topping it off with a 3.1 mile run...YIKES!!

But my husband, along with our friend Harry, did a great job--even with the super heat and humidity! We were all exhausted just standing there watching in the heat! This triathlon was called the Blackland Triathlon, and there were so many people in it! It started at 8:45, but because there were so many people, Justin didn't even get to jump into the pool to start until 9:45! Once he started, he did a great job, and finished in 1 hour and 47 minutes...wow. I'm so proud of my hubby, and am so excited that he has found this new sport that he absolutely loves! He is so much healthier because of it, and to date, has lost 45 pounds since he started training last November.

Here are some pictures from the day...
Justin waiting to set up his transition area

During their waiting time to start the swim
Pool action Still going

Finally done with the pool!

The cheering squad (Gene, Kathy, me, Katie (Harry's wife), my mom, and my dad--taking the pic)Finishing up the bike part
Harry during the run
Harry's final turn
A proud Katie and a tired Harry!
Justin in mid run...last leg
The final turn--almost in
Flying in--my silly husband!
Success!! Finished!!
Mom-in-law helping him cool off a bit =)
The tired guys, happy to be done!
Great job, Justin and Harry! You guys are amazing!!!

September 4, 2009

I love to cook!!

I just love to cook...cookies, dinners, anything really! Now when I'm working full time, I don't tend to cook all that much, but right now, since I'm at home still, I have been cooking up a storm!! I have actually cooked dinner just about every weeknight for the last 3 weeks or so! Pretty impressive...compared to my "when I'm working" stats...which is maybe 1-2 nights a week, if Justin is lucky!

So last night, I decided to invite my parents over for dinner. We have eaten at their house so much this summer...the pool just draws us there...so I decided it was time to return the favor. So I was a busy bee, cooking most of the day, and was pretty proud of all the 'from scratch' things I made. Now of course, I wouldn't remember to take any pictures of it all until we were over halfway done, and by then the food wasn't looking pretty enough to take pictures of anymore...oh well! But I'll give you links, and maybe even steal a few pics off those websites so you at least get the idea!

Here is what I made...


Beer Butt Chicken...sounds classy, I know, but boy is it yummy!! You cook the chicken on a grill, over a can of beer, for about 1 1/2 hours, and it turns out so moist and yummy! You have to try it!!!


Creamed Corn...and I am not even really that much of a corn person! My father-in-law brought us 10 cups of frozen sweet corn this summer, and I figured it was time to use some of it. Yum--and everyone, including me, loved it!!


We also had couscous, pasta salad (good old Pasta-Roni out of a box----we like the ranch and bacon one--you have to tryit!),and a yummy fruit salad from my mom.

And then for the grand finale...


1-2-3-4 Cake from my friend Audra's blog, with Blueberry sauce ...oh I think this was my favorite of the night. When I served this, it actually looked like it was a dessert coming from a restaurant...not typical from me!! Audra--I stole the picture off your blog--my cake looked similar, just imagine blueberry sauce with whip cream instead!



All in all, it was all so yummy, and I'm sure I'm at least 5 pounds heavier today because of it!! =)

I love all the variety of recipes you can find online...if it were up to me, I would cook something different every time I cook! Some of my favorite sites are E-Mealz (you have got to try this out...super cheap for tons of recipes!!), Pioneer Woman (I can't wait for her cookbook to come out!!!), Google, some blogs of people who post things they cook, and even an email recipe "club" that my friend Jenny started. Maybe someday I'll even do a recipe blog, complete with step by step pictures, but for now, I'll just blab about my yummy creations from last night! =)
Just thought I'd share my delicious night!!! And tonight, I'm making homemade chicken potstickers--yummy! What are some of your favorite meals to cook???