Tag Archives: male factor infertility

My IVF Tips

 

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Before I even get started here let me give my big, huge DISCLAIMER: I have no medical background in infertility and by no means am I any kind of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Guru. I am quite simply a girl who went through IVF, researched a little, and decided to take a few steps, which may or may not have made my first IVF cycle a success! Many of the tips here have no or limited scientific correlation to a pregnancy subsequent to IVF.  My train of thought, though, was if it wasn’t harmful and had led to a pregnancy for some, than why not give it a shot 💉🎯.

  1. No MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) 

The only restriction I was given from my infertility Doctor was to avoid MSG.  I figured that just meant no Chinese food, which was no biggie for me, but for my husband, would be comparable to going to the electric chair.  Seriously, though, MSG is in a lot more than you’d think.  So once I began the meds, I read every label and made every waitress swear on the Bible that there was no MSG in whatever I was consuming.  Literally, I’d look at a Tic-Tac label just to make sure.  MSG wasn’t going to mess with me.

2.  AAA (Abstaining from Aspertame & Alcohol)

Now this was a little trickier for me than the whole MSG thing and was not something I was told to do.  But AAA is my own little acronym for what I decided to do the month of my cycle and obviously the next 9 months plus!

We all know that Aspertame is not healthy for us, but like anything we shouldn’t have its so damn good.  Not having Splenda in my coffee actually made me give up my cup of joe during my cycle, pregnancy, and the majority of my year nursing.  Let’s just say I’m making up for it now.  Basically, I live off coffee and goldfish these days.

And if you think that was hard, imagine the alcohol part.  I’m not a huge drinker per say.  As one of my BFF’s mom once put it, more of a social drinker and “I’m very social!” 😝  To be quite frank, champagne and I became very well acquainted, especially during my infertility struggles.  Another pregnancy announcement…pop a bottle!  Baby shower…drink the champagne punch bowl dry!  My mantra was is kind of like “Save water, drink champagne. ” 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼  

I just felt like cleaning out my system and not having the alcohol mix with the meds was the best choice for me.  To be honest the alcohol part was easier than the coffee.

3.  Leave the Avocado, Take the Prosecco                                                                            

I decided to do a little research when it came to the point of moving forward with IVF.  Afterall I was about to inject myself with hormones and wanted to know what impact it was going to have on my body.  I must confess, I use the word research in the loosest sense.  By research, I mean mostly googling.  And good ‘ole Pinterest was flooded with this study (Link 👉🏻http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2168494/Avocado-diet-triples-chance-success-couples-undergoing-IVF.html).  That’s all I needed to read to gather my Big Y coins and shell them out on that bag of avocados.  By the way do you like my play on the Godfather’s “Leave the gun, take the cannoli”?! Nothing like a little mafia humor to keep you going.  Speaking of humor…

4.  Laughter Post-Transfer

I also researched a study that indicated that laughing immediately after transfer increased success rates.  The theory as discussed here 👉🏻 http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/31/youre-kidding-medical-clown-increases-pregnancy-rates-with-ivf/ is basically that the more relaxed a woman is at the point of transfer, the more likely the embryos will implant.

Maybe the age-old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” is true afterall.  Regardless, I told my husband to gear up and put together a little comedy skit once our little embies were transferred.  Turns out, joke was on me.  All he had to do was tell the nurse I had him inject me with the progesterone, without changing the needle, and we were all on the floor laughing at her reaction.

5.  Acupuncture

I think acupuncture is one of those things you love or hate.  I, admittedly, was skeptical in the beginning, especially because it wasn’t like I was going to treat an ailment or quit smoking.  What I mean by that was, in the midst, I couldn’t tell if it was working or not.  When people ask me my thoughts on acupuncture, my response is always it may or may not have helped, but at least it was about an hour of relaxation each appointment.  That probably helped in and of itself.

If you’re in my neck of the woods, I’d highly recommend Craig at Kos Chiropractic in North Branford, Connectiut.  The chiropractor, Jackie, was also fabulous and uber intuitive which had me intrigued to say the least.  She’d recommend a certain colored panty to bring out my chakras and was very knowledgable about infertility and the IVF process.  They both seemed experienced and were beyond supportive.  At one point, Jackie told me to remember the number 4.  I nearly almost fell out of the car door when I received our embryology report that said 4 out of the 6 mature eggs fertilized.  How’s that for being on point?

6.  Pineapple Core 

This is a pretty common tip.  Having the core of a pineapple supposedly can enhance implantation because of a particular enzyme found specifically in the core.  For me, we cut the pineapple into fifths horizontally and I ate the pineapple and core starting on the day of transfer and four subsequent days.  I love pineapple (especially with Citron vodka 🙊) so it was fine for me.  A pineapple is a traditional symbol of “welcome” so just think of it as a way to welcome the embryos into your uterus. 🍍

7.  R & R

I’m not one to slow down, but when it came to this, I knew I needed rest and relaxation.  My egg retrieval was on a Thursday, so I decided to take Friday off.  We ended up doing a day 3 transfer on Sunday.  While I intended on taking that Monday and Tuesday off, I felt a cold coming on.  I decided to take an extra day that Wednesday.    I spent most of those days on the couch and took full advantage of being waited on.  Even when I went back to work, I tried to not go a million miles per hour like I usually did.  I worked with kids with special needs, many of whom had behavioral problems.  Therefore I was extra cautious as if I were pregnant.  Well I guess I was PUPO (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise) and luckily the otherwise never happened and I was just…pregnant!

8.  Stay Positive

I know it’s cliche and easy for someone whom IVF worked for the first time, but there’s a power in positivity.  I stayed positive because it was all I could do.  Eleven eggs were retrieved and of those, six were mature enough to fertilize.  As I mentioned before, four of the six fertilized.  At Day 3, there were still four embryos but only three were quality enough to transfer. We transferred all 3, so literally we were at the end of the road with nothing left to freeze.  At that point it was in God’s hands.

In our case, staying positive meant two things:  no googling and no testing before Beta.  Not being able to google meant less symptom spotting, less negative thoughts.  Avoiding taking a pregnancy test before Beta also was key for us.  I wasn’t testing too early and defeated not seeing the second line.

We remained as we had throughout our whole journey, cautiously optimistic.

9.  Pray

This probably should have gone a little higher on the list, but I’ll admit throughout my journey there were many times I was mad at God.  What did I do to You to deserve this?  In the end,  though, all we have is faith.  As I sat there waiting for my husband while he was in surgery, all I had left to do was pray. After our transfer, all there was left to do was pray and, just like positivity, there’s a power in prayer.

Whatever higher power you believe in will give you strength and help you endure the process.  If you’re ever in doubt that there is a God (or whomever you pray to), you’re faith will certainly be restored when you finally welcome your little bundle.  Because pregnancy and new life are nothing short of miracles from above.

I thank God everyday for our baby and this blessed life.  One day when Mikie asks and I have to explain the “special” way he was born, I will be certain to emphasize that God was key in bringing him to us .  Afterall, Michael is “he who is like the Lord”.

10.  Seek Support

There is nothing more reassuring when going through IVF than having someone who has been there.  Whether it be a friend or complete stranger, find that one person who can share their story and guide you along the way.

If you’re approaching or currently undergoing an IVF cycle and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.  Even if you just need a positive word, contact me.  I’m available via email at onprayersandneedles@gmail.com or on Instagram and Facebook you can private messgage me @onprayersandneedles.

Positive Vibes & Baby Dust ✌🏼️👶🏼✨


 

 

 

 

 

A Mini “Ode to My Husband”

 

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{Photo Credit: Maler Photography}

I am so humbled by all of the gracious and thoughtful comments, texts, and overall support I’ve received since the launch of the blog. Yet, by now, I hope it’s as evident to you as it is to me that the real hero in all of this is my husband. I’m so blessed to be married to someone who would put his own feelings aside so that I could do something I promised myself I would do. Not only was he the one who endured the most physically during our infertility journey, but he was my rock. So many of you have reached out and commended my strength as a woman, but the truth of the matter is my strength came from him. Infertility can test even the strongest marriages {Look for a future post titled Make or Break Your Bank & Love Tank} but his positivity, his perseverance, his selflessness were unwavering.

By now, you’ve also probably realized that I’m a talker, on the cusp of being an over-sharer. So you can only imagine how difficult it was for me to have to keep this all to myself. However, my husband wasn’t ready to share our diagnosis, and understandably so. Had we not finally gotten our biological child, he may never have wanted to share. It’s taken upwards of three years for this full disclosure of what we actually went through. So many of you have reached out and said had you known then, you would’ve offered your support. We know and appreciate that, but at the point of diagnosis, and sometime thereafter, not even our families really knew what was going on.

At this point, my husband is not reading any of the posts. He’s amazingly supportive and trusts my judgement in what I write, but he isn’t ready to go back to that dark place, especially since we’re in the midst of enjoying our little boy. Honestly, it’s been very hard for me to get back to this place myself and even harder to imagine going back there again someday to try for another.

So, Mike, if you ever do read this, this is my ode to you…

“To My Husband,

Just as our wedding song so eloquently states, “You’re my Inspiration”. Thank you for supporting me in this endeavor and allowing me to expose our struggles. Then and always, you’ve been my best friend, my soulmate, my better half. If more guys in this world were half the man you are, the world would be a better place. I couldn’t have imagined having traveled this path with anyone else and I know it shaped you into the daddy you are today. I’m so lucky to call you my husband and even luckier to call you the father of our child.”

Love, Morgan

And to the girl laying in bed reading this…

“To My Fellow Fertility Friend,

My husband let me share our experience so that I could reach you and give you some faith. I know you’re sobbing quietly so that your other half can’t hear you at the other end of the bed. I know as you’re laying there unable to fall asleep, you’re wondering if you’ll ever be kept up by the cries of a newborn baby, rather than from the despair of infertility. I’m here to tell you, somehow, someway you’ll get there. I want to give you a success story to hang onto when you’re ready to give up. I want to reassure you that in the end, all of the countless doctor appointments, blood work, needles, and prayers will be worth it. I want you to contact me so I can support you in any way possible and pay forward all that I’ve been blessed with.”

Baby Dust, Morgan

Our D-Day

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It was finally Monday, what I refer to as our D-Day~October 14, 2012. Yes, it is a day that will live in infamy for us. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to get the results, but I had no inclination of what was to come. I figured, if anything, there’d be a simple fix and we’d be on our way to parenthood. I vividly remember giving my principal a heads up, as we walked into a staff meeting, that I was expecting an important call and may need to step out. I sat clenching my cell phone in my hand for what seemed to be an eternity, but made it all the way down the stairwell and just outside my car when the phone finally rang.

I don’t even remember a “Hello-how are you?” All I can remember hearing is “Are you somewhere you can talk?” This can’t be good, I thought to myself. Nothing good ever comes out of “Are you somewhere you can talk?” My OB preceded with, “We’ve gotten your husband’s results back and he has something called Azoospermia.” What? “Zero Sperm.” The next few minutes of conversation were basically just a blur. She asked some questions, like “Do you know if he ever had a hernia? Undescended testicle?” She attempted to reassure with some information about another patient with a similar diagnosis. I was barely hearing what she was saying. There were all these terms I was frantically writing down: ICSI, natural vasectomy, IVF.  I just kept thinking to myself, I know nothing of this, but zero sperm can only equate to zero chance of having a biological child. Not low sperm, not immotile sperm, no sperm. I even mustered up enough courage to ask a couple questions like, “Was there anything he did that caused this?” {I knew that was going to be the first question he asked me when I told him.} She replied, “Absolutely not.” I then asked about next steps, and she discussed my options of choosing our local hospital fertility department or opting for private. She said to discuss with my husband and call her in a few days when we had decided.  When we went to hang up, she said “Stay positive, but also be realistic…there’s a lot of factors involved-time, money, putting your body through a lot and there’s other options.”

“Ok, I will,” I muttered trying to mask the tears, but she knew what was happening on the other end.  Even now, writing this, I have that same lump in the back of my throat. I have that same empty pit in my stomach that I had as a I pulled out of my work parking lot that day, fighting back tears, as they streamed down my face. In that two-mile car ride, everything about myself and a baby subsided and my only concern became my husband. My poor husband. How was I supposed to tell him this? How was I supposed to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault? How was I supposed to hide my own sadness and disappointment to ensure he didn’t feel like I was upset at him? I didn’t know how in that moment, but I did know it couldn’t be now. We were heading to a wake in less than an hour and I couldn’t let him see that I had been crying because then he’d know. So instead of going in my house, I ran into my sister-in-law’s who lives across the street. She’s more than my sister-in-law and neighbor-she’s my sister, my best friend {I’m lucky enough to say both of my sister-in-laws are.}. I just collapsed to the hallway floor, her holding me in her arms. She could barely understand what I was saying as I tried to explain it through the shortness of breath that only the deepest of sobbing can ensue. She just listened. She tried to tell me it would be alright, but I could see it in her face-she didn’t know if it would be. I knew I had to get it together before the wake, so after some time she helped me to my feet and I high-tailed it into our shower before my husband could see my face.

We got in the car with my in-laws and it took every iota of my being to not break-down. I tried to carry on the small talk, but even that just seemed too much. I blankly stared out the car window, my mind racing a thousand miles per second, biting my bottom lip as to not let the tears fall out. We waited in line, gave our condolences and I tried to put it in perspective. After all, nothing is worse than death, right? That’s when the guilt first started. It could always be worse. But could it? I’d rather die than imagine myself childless, but was that selfish of me? The gamete of emotions that swept through my head that day were actually the same ones that I felt throughout different phases of our infertility journey. {Look for a future post titled, 50 Shades of Infertiilty, for more on this topic.}

Then, as we returned home, it was time.  “Turn off the TV,”  I said.  Another line that means it’s serious.  He knew in that instant that something was terribly wrong.  I’ll never forget his worried little baby face, his eyes filling up.  I explained it just the way the OB told me-it’s not his fault, it’s nothing he did.  I encouraged him to be positive, each of us folding in one another’s arms and he just repeatedly kept apologizing.  But I didn’t want him to feel the need to apologize.  I love him and I’d marry him all over again, even if I knew there was a great chance that we’d never be able to have our own biological baby.

Our own biological baby-I hope this phrase that I keep using doesn’t offend anyone.  I’ve gone back and erased it half a dozen times.  But the truth is, if I’m going to be honest and raw here, then it must be said…I wanted our biological child: 50% him, 50% me.  We had been together since we were 16 and 18 years old.  We have had our children named since high school.  We have had all those discussions: parochial vs. private, spanking vs. time out.  We had even discussed what attributes we’d want our son or daughter to have from each of us: his selflessness, my drive, his eyes, my metabolism.  I mean we thought we had it all figured out.  But in the realm of infertility, maybe even outside of it, there is some unspoken guilt in desiring your own biological child.  Had we then, and if we ever, adopt, would I love that child just the same?  Of course.  I’m quite certain of it.  Yet, I felt a shame in yearning for our own biological child and in some ways still do.

The only way I could move forward from our D-Day and all the days that followed was having a plan and knowing our next step.  Having a next step of contacting a fertility doctor and setting up an appointment is what gave me maybe three hours of sleep that night.  Which, in turn, caused me to wake up fifteen minutes late, unable to get contacts in my swollen eyes.  I thought to myself, should I go to work?  How will I get through the day?  The year?  My life-if  we can’t have a baby?  What do other women do when they get this kind of news?  As I sat in the bathroom, and caught the ovulation prediction kit sticks out of the corner of my eye, I began sobbing. I just wanted to go back to sleep and wake up having had this all as a bad dream.

Instead, I came to my senses, called my boss and explained that I needed the day off and may need more in the future as I was having issues getting pregnant.  She offered encouraging words and inspired me to crawl out of bed.  My focus was on the next step.  In order to get there though, I needed to know everything there was to know about Azoospermia and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)~or as Google defines it, a fancy way of saying inject sperm into egg!  But I needed more than the internet and studies that I didn’t understand or came out with confounding findings.

I decided to go to the closest Barnes & Noble and after pacing back and forth aimlessly, I finally gained the strength to ask an associate, “Do you have any books on infertility?”  She directed me quickly (but why would there be any books on male factor infertility?!), ran a search and handed me a list of books with that look of sympathy-if you’re new to this world of infertility, you’ll soon become very familiar with that look.   I got back in the car and thought I might as well go to Toys “R” Us to pick up a few gifts for my niece’s birthday. Huuugggggeeee mistake-consider yourself forewarned.  When I saw the “Parking for Expectant Moms” sign I lost it.  Would I ever be expecting?  Could I ever park there?  What would a childless life be like?  I foolishly went in and of course perused the baby section (after all, I had been doing that for months).  Finally, I sat back in the car, looked at myself in the mirror, and wiped the blotches of smudged mascara from beneath my eyes.   I refocused myself.  I called another Barnes and Noble with the same results.  I decided to make the trek out to a small bookstore on the shoreline-still no luck.

Then, other than a close friend’s house, I went to the only other place I knew to get some sort of solace-my parish.  I sat in the pew, kneeling and sobbing all alone in a cold, barren church.  My sniffles seemed to echo and while no answers came to me, I was at least able to go home and resume the motions of life~dinner, dishes, laundry, a little TV, and of course some google searching.  In that moment, I thought to myself how will I be able to go on?  Yet, unbeknownst to me,  my journey was still another 500 plus days ahead.