Friday, May 30, 2008

Egg Retrieval

I'm still feeling a bit loopy (apparently pain meds/anesthesia and I don't get along) but the egg retrieval was a success! The Doctor collected 16 eggs, 2 were immature, one had a broken shell (yes, that's exactly how the nurse described it) so we had 13 to start. 12 were successfully fertilized through ICSI (inter cytoplasmic sperm injection) and we now have 12 embryos growing.

I was very much out of it for the procedure, so I didn't get to watch on the ultrasound. Bummer. Tim says it looked like the needle piercing a dark, fluid filled area that then shrunk as the fluid was aspirated into the test tube. I had anesthesia of a sort by an IV connected to a filled syringe. I also took a Valium that morning (looovely stuff, makes me very relaxed and sleepy). Once I'd confirmed my stats to the Embryologist, they gave me the real stuff. The procedure did hurt, so I remember the doctor telling me to breathe a couple of times. Tim says he asked me if this hurt more or the tattoo, and when I replied, "definitely this!" the nurse ran over to give me more meds. I vaguely remember being transferred to a hospital bed and the next thing I knew, Tim and I were in the recovery room. Apparently he'd done his part just fine and we'd been there for about 45 minutes. They wheeled me out to the car and we went home.

No idea what time we got home, I passed out in bed wearing my clothes and slept until about 4:45. I had some difficulty trying to decipher the instructions for medications I was supposed to take so called the on-call number for the doctor. I'm pretty sure I gave them the wrong phone number to call back, mixing up my two cell numbers. Anyway, finally figured it out. Tim gave me the Progesterone in Oil shot in the butt and I went to bed (this time in my PJs). Except for taking Tylenol a few times last night, I didn't get up until 7:30 this morning. I've also slept on and off most of today.

The Embryo transfer will be tomorrow at 8:30 am. After that I need to spend the whole day lying down. I'm allowed to get up to go to the bathroom, but nothing else. Sunday I'm allowed up, but no lifting, and really nothing else. Monday, back to work and normal schedule. It will be almost 2 weeks after the retrieval before we know for sure if it all worked . . . so keep praying for us like crazy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Community Garden

I've used time this weekend to plant our plot in the PCHUM (Portage Chapel Hill UMC) community garden. When we first started thinking about creating a community garden in the area where an old house had been torn down, I wasn't sure we'd actually be able to pull it off. Now with most plots planted and green things poking up all over, it's pretty thrilling!

I did most of this the easy way and bought plants. So far, I spent about $45 on all that I put into the garden. This includes 4 Roma tomato bushes (to make sauce) and 3 other tomatoes. I also have 5 different pepper plants. Lots of herbs ( two types of basil, tarragon, rosemary), green beans (bush type), 2 kinds of radishes, 2 kinds of carrots and green onions. The plot is only about 10x18 feet and the soil is very sandy with lots of rocks. Our plot is where the old house stood, so I'll have to work to get the soil up to snuff. It doesn't get as much direct sun as I'd like, but it's better than my shady back yard. I'm going to be looking into Organic fertilizers and soil modification, as I'd like to grow this garden as organically as possible.

We spread aged horse manure over the entire garden before plowing -- compliments of my friend Jana. That stuff is so good, it could be rich soil on it's own. I'll have to get more from her for areas around the house. We also have some leaf compost that I'll haul over to the church plot and use for composing around the plants. That'll cut down on weeds and add nutrients over time.

I'm planting a bit more at the house too. We have room for one hill of Cantaloupe in the back yard (Tim's request) and I'm doing a few herbs in pots here too. I still have much work to do on the front flower bed (currently in transition) and we're going to make a raised bed next to the lower deck in the back. That one hasn't even been started. It may take all summer -- then I can plant perennials bought on the cheap at the end of season sales.

I've started a spread sheet with all the garden info (and hopefully the perennial info for home) to keep track of what plants and seeds do well. It's my more modern version of keeping a garden journal. Not as pretty, but since it's faster, I might actually take the time to put the info in!

Friday, May 23, 2008

$4/gallon for gas? So What

Here's my new mode of transportation. It gets 75 miles to the gallon and it's really fun to ride!
I've been putting about 40 miles a day on my truck just going back and forth to work and going home for lunch to let Henry out of his den so the gas costs were rising fast. The scooter will pay for itself in one and a half summers but that figure was for $3.50/gal so it may pay for itself sooner.
Another interesting thing is since the time we bought the scooter in April, the price has gone up 20% on them. Demand is increasing so, as Sarah pointed out, if we have to sell it next year because my teaching job is past scooterability distance, we might be able to sell it for the same price we bought it for even being "broken in".
I have 600 miles on it and have had one older lady pull out in front of me where I had to slam on the brakes and lock up the rear wheel.
The scooter will go up to 50 mph so no highway driving but it works great to keep up with traffic around town.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Henry makes a new friend

Henry has finally made friends with our back yard neighbors, Marty and Mrs. Marty (don't actually know her name). He used to bark at them a lot, so we gave them treats and introduced them to H over the back fence. They had a Golden that died early this winter, so they are doggie people and miss having a dog around.

Now Henry hangs out in the back corner waiting for them to come out and give him a treat. If he senses any movement in their backyard, he's out the door like a shot and begging for food. I caught him this morning barking at Marty to get his attention. It's better than him barking because he thinks they shouldn't be in the yard, but not too much different!

In other news -- the Kirk homestead will soon have new deck furniture! We spent some $ at Sears today and got a table with 6 chairs and umbrella for the deck off the patio and a bistro set in the same design for the deck off the screen porch. Check the link for pictures of what we bought.

Tim took 2 trips to bring all the big boxes home. Next, we have to put it all together. We'll do that early next week as Tim is busy preparing a spot in the yard for our new shed. We'll need somewhere to store all that deck furniture over the winter . . . Actually we're accumulating enought kayaks, bikes, snow blowers, grills, etc. that we needed the storage space. Not exactly sure who we'll have do the building -- it won't be us for sure -- or when we'll get started on it.

Tomorrow after church we'll be busy preparing for the Youth Small Group that we've been leading. Tomorrow I teach them how to make a Chocolate Brownie Puddle Torte. It will be the dessert for the dinner they'll make to honor the graduating seniors. It's been a lot of fun so far, and everyone is excited to make and eat dessert!

More IVF

So I have about 30+ eggs on each ovary, but they are still small -- about 6 mm. 30 eggs is a bit too many, but Julie (nurse) said that they'll manage the meds so that not all of them grow. She didn't seem concerned that they hadn't grown anymore b/c I'd only had 2 days of medication. My follicles on Clomid only went to 8-9mm and I don't know how large the follicles were before any of the meds. They need to get much larger 18-20 mm (I think).

No more Menopur, but I'll keep the Lupron and Follistim. Back to the office on Monday for more blood work and another ultrasound. This time they should have grown some more, so keep your fingers crossed!

I've been reading quite a few fertility blogs and have noticed a few things about how others are seeing the assisted reproduction therapy (ART) journey. Most seem quite obsessed with their "numbers." Hormone levels, sperm count, sperm morphology, blood test results and lot of other measures. We've been told all those things, but haven't been tracking them too closely. Others have all kinds of ways of tracking where they are in a cycle, what hasn't worked and how long they've been TTC (trying to conceive). This obsession worries me. First, I wonder why I'm not quite as obsessed. Normally, I would think I'm the type that would be like this, but I'm not. Second, am I supposed to be obsessed like that? If I'm not, does it mean I'm not as invested and not as likely to get the outcome we want? Frankly, I find the tracking every move, mood and blood test to be very tiring. I had 3 blood tests last week. I'd have to do an Excel spread sheet to keep it all straight, and then I wouldn't know what the numbers actually meant.

My biggest worry is that the follicles are not going to respond to the meds, not grow at all due to some other strange issue. And, if I had only been more demanding of my doctor or compulsive with the data, that this could have been avoided. Oh well, I'm not really up for monitoring all the data. That's what we're paying Michigan Reproductive to do after all!

I've had some crazy headaches the last few days. Today I actually felt like I was going to be sick (as in throw up). I couldn't stand it when Tim took a curve with the car in the parking lot. What a wimp. I'm beginning to see how debilitating migraines can be.

Other side effects: my stomach has little needle tracks in it and a couple of spectacular bruises. Apparently my needle technique could stand some improvement. Up to now, the shots have not been as difficult as I thought they might be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weekend Update (last weekend!)

Some Pictures from last weekend: First all the girls (Katie, Mom and me) went to the spa. (See results of pedicures above.) Ahhhhh, relaxation. Second, we helped Katie pick up her new car! If you can't tell from the picture, the car is the new Mini Clubman. We all had an excellent time. Tim enjoyed spending his economic stimulus check (new PS3 and Grand Theft Auto 4) and thought Katie's car was pretty sweet.
We also got to hang out with our friends Jen & John and baby Anna. It was great just hanging out, eating take-out and drinking good beer. We sure wish we lived closer to them because they are such good fun. Plus, Anna is too cute and very entertaining.

IVF, Stage 2

We're moving on to the second stage in the IVF. (Stage designations are my own). On Tuesday, I met with Julie, the RN in charge of our case. She looked at my ovaries and measured the lining of my uterus. After a blood pregnancy test, we were cleared to start stimulating the follicles.

Tonight I injected myself with three drugs. A lower dose of the Lupron (to keep my ovaries shielded from any hormones my body might make), Menopur (a mix of LH and FSH) and Follistim (FSH). I do the same amounts tomorrow night and then go in Friday morning for another ultrasound. This time we'll see if the meds are causing any changes to the follicles. Since they have been quite stubborn up to this point, I'm sending them positive thoughts about starting to grow. BUT, they need to all grow at the same rate. We need quite a few to harvest and they need to all be ready at the same time.

I'm glad to drop down on the Lupron dose. I didn't think I was feeling any side affects until about Sunday afternoon. Since then I've been tired, having trouble sleeping and my brain has been fuzzy at work. This isn't my stress insomnia, just more like I keep waking up and can tell I'm not sleeping very deeply. Some pretty good headaches, too, but difficult to tell it those are the drug or allergies. I'm also pretty emotional. I won't let the radio stop on a country stations because, invariably I find my self welling up at some tear-jerker of a song. I've been listening to CDs because even NPR is sometime too much -- I don't want to cry all the way to work!

After meeting with Julie, I had emotions that ranged all over the scale -- excitement to finally be moving on to this point, fear that it won't work, fear that it will and, of course, fear of needles. I'm still dreading the big ones that will have to go in my butt.

The only fly in the ointment is that we don't know exactly when we'll get to the egg retrieval stage, but it will be sometime right around Memorial Day weekend. The nurse said not to plan on going anywhere that weekend, which screws up plans to go to Ohio for the shower/picnic we're throwing for Josh and Allison. Bummer! I'm not counting it out yet, we'll have to see how it looks in the ultrasounds on Friday and next week.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Jucing -- the end

Day 3 update: It was good! Lots of energy and I felt great. No issues with digestive system and the fog from day 2 was gone. I wasn't even all that hungry. Actually, I was kinda tired of the juice. The novelty had worn off.

I ate brown rice cooked in broth and Activia yogurt for dinner that night (Wed. night) and then oat meal for breakfast. You have to ease back into solid food -- nothing that will make your tummy upset. All was good and it was great to eat real food again!

My oberservations about all this . . . I'm now much more intentional about eating. The juicing helped me pay attention to how my body felt when I was hungry. I also get full more easily. My stomach probably shrunk a bit, but I think it's more that I notice when I'm full. And, I lost three pounds during the week. However, I think that will go away as my digestive track fills up again. We certainly proved that everyone really is full of s**t!

Katie and I are going to buy a juicer together and every couple of months we'll take turns juicing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Juicing, Day 2

Grumpy, headache, fuzzy brain -- it's difficult to be articulate. Great team building activity and we're having lots of good conversations about intentional eating and awareness of how food affects our bodies. More than half-way through! AND pretty sure that I don't really want to do this again any time soon. :-)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Veggies are good for you, right?

The Kashi group is detoxing! After one work trip that involved a lot of toxifying, a couple of people I work with decided that we should give our bodies a rest. This has evolved into letting our digestive systems have a break from processing lots of rich or fibrous food. (And you know us Kashi folk, we do love our fiber!) So, a group of us at work has embarked on a 3 day juice detox.

Now, this isn't your standard orange juice or V8 splash. We are making our own juice using a juicer and focusing heavily on vegetables. My dinner included one stalk of broccoli, half a large cucumber, 4 organic carrots, organic baby spinach, and one organic orange for sweetness. This made a dark green concoction that I diluted with water to make about 3 cups. Yummy! Actually, it was pretty tasty. Take my advice, though, don't use raw eggplant. It makes things taste pretty bitter.

I'm actually doing quite well. I'd like to eat some real food, but I'm not hungry or calorie deprived. I've had at least 3 big glasses of veggie juice and one glass of a nice fruit blend for a snack. Caffeine and alcohol are out. I've been cutting back on the caffeine dramatically for the IVF, so that wasn't so bad. We are allowed green tea and I've had that hot and cold today. Since I've almost eliminated Diet Coke, I'm not craving that either.

It is early, though so I'll be sure to post on day 2 and 3. I think tomorrow morning is going to be very hard.

Friday, May 2, 2008

See Deer, WILL run....will run fast and far.....

I have some time at work as Friday winds down in the last hour of the workday so I'll share the story behind this picture.
Last Saturday evening the weather warmed to the 50s from the 30s earlier in the week so I had a good reason to take Henry out for a run in our favorite location. It's a nature preserve that's open to the public and it's only about a 10 minute drive from the house. The front part of the area has mountain bike/hiking trails meandering through it and the back part has some less traveled trails. I keep Henry on the leash in the front part and once we get to the back section I let him off leash and boy does he enjoy running....and running....coming back to check on me....more running.....checking the swamp area for critters....checking back with me (I give him treats every time he comes back so he knows good things happen when he comes back) and oh, yeah, he runs some more.
The area is well wooded with hills and wetlands so wildlife is abundant but in the other 20 or so times we've taken Henry to run, the wildlife has seemed to keep far away (except for a woodchuck that was in the swamp...former woodchuck). This particular evening (note: first time taking Henry to the area at dusk, normally it is mid afternoon) we went through our normal routine of walking on the leash until we reached the back section. I let Henry off the leash and was keeping him within 10 feet of me with treats but after about 5 minutes of this I looked up in front of us and saw a couple of white tails bouncing through the woods, up the hill and away from us. Just as I was trying to persuade Henry back to me so I could leash him his ears perked up, the nose went in the air and he caught the scent of the deer. He took a quick glance at me and TOOK OFF RUNNING!!! Up the hill, through the woods and in two seconds I lost sight of him.
Heart dropping...stomach far will he run and how long before he comes back???
I followed his trail up to the top of the hill and started calling for him and whistling (his cue to come back to check on me). This time the cues didn't work.
20 minutes gone sign or sound of Henry.
I make the call to Sarah that our dog has gone chasing deer. She grabs our spotlight (I at least thought ahead and put some super reflective bands around Henry's neck that I usually wrap around my ankles when riding my bike) jumps in the car and heads over to help.
She calls when she gets to the woods and gets directions to my whereabouts. I told her my general location and to listen for my calls and whistles for Henry.
45 minutes have gone by (seemed like hours) and I'm on top of a hill at the intersection of two paths and I can look down the hill to see the usual path of our travels in case Henry decided to go back to where he knows to look for me.
Starting to loose my voice and whistling ability, I decide to climb a pine tree for a better look and hoping my voice will carry farther for Henry to hone in on where I am. I get about 10 feet off the ground and happen to look down one of the trails....
I see some movement that looks like a dog trotting!!
I holler HHHEEENNNRRRYYY!! I see the dog's head pick up at the call. Our Henry has returned!!!!
He must have been well worn out from chasing the deer that are much faster than him (hopefully he figured this out and won't chase them again, but not likely) because his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth and he just trotted the 1/4 mile back to me.
After I got him back on the leash I called Sarah and told her "I have our dog" and both of us sighed a big relief.
I didn't really worry about Henry not coming back, the question was will I have to stay the night in the woods waiting for him to come back.
I did hear some gunshots shortly after Henry took off running so I had a small fear that a drunken redneck with three teeth wearing a dirty flannel shirt over top of his BBQ rib stained wife beater tank top decided to shoot at Henry for chasing deer. Luckily my elaborate imagination was incorrect.

I'll still take Henry to the preserve, actually took him back the next day, but I WON'T go back at dusk when the deer are most active.
I did see deer on the next day but luckily Henry was still rather tired from his exploits the day before and was keeping close to me. I leashed him and walked the opposite way the deer was heading. For good measure, I picked up a big stick and started hitting it on the trees as we walked so the wildlife was well aware of our presence.
It's time to invest in a small cow bell for Henry to wear from his collar.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I think I'm addicted

Along with a whole group of friends from work, I took a half-day vacation on Wednesday and went to the Vera Bradley outlet sale in Fort Wayne, IN. We went a little bit crazy . . . I haven't always been a fan of VB stuff -- but somehow it has grown on me over the past few years. The stuff isn't cheap, so getting stuff at 30-40% off retail was too cool.
(Katie -- that's your wristlet on top in the pink and black and white)
I am embarrassed to show you the picture I took of everything I bought. It looks a bit excessive. Still, half of it is gifts for various people over the next year. (I guess that means the other half is for me . . . I am getting a little giddy thinking of all my new stuff!)
The sale is held in a coliseum and the entry is timed on your tickets. You only have 3 hours and it goes fast. The $10 ticket purchase price goes to the VB breast cancer research fund. The place was mobbed and much of the stock was wiped out. We went out to a great dinner afterward, where I shot up in the bathroom stall for Day 2 of Lupron. I think I still have a little bit of a shopping high.