March 29, 2009

Micro-Array Results are In

It's good news. News with significant ramifications, though, which I'm still trying to process.

Out of the 21 embryos that were biopsied, 15 tested normal. So just under a 75% normal rate. We're in shock.

However, those 15 embryos combined with the 4 "no results" from last cycle, means that we have 19 embryos to deal with. And since it was never our goal to have 19 children - or 57, if you consider that each one of them theoretically has the potential to divide into identical triplets – that also comes with the aforementioned significant ramifications.

I'm just trying to let this news sink in, and let all the different emotions that are swirling around in my brain, settle down. They include, in no particular order:

Disbelief, as in are these results really true? What if the lab made a mistake? If they didn't, why did this cycle turn out so well, when last cycle we didn't have any confirmed normals? I think the only way to determine that for sure would be to thaw all of them, rebiopsy them, and then send the "no results" batch to the micro-array lab and the "normals" batch to the CGH lab, and see if they come back with similar or different results. But I'm not keen on thawing and refreezing them, so I doubt we'll do that.

Hope, which out of self-preservation my mind and heart have tried to squash (although never succeeding completely) over the course of this nightmare, especially the last couple of years. Now it's back, as much as my inner self will allow it to be. It's not a jumping-for-joy, shouting-from-the-rooftops kind of hope, more of just a small, quiet thing that is being allowed to sit tentatively in the corner of my heart for now, acknowledged but not a guarantee of anything.

Fear, because as much as everyone will think "wow, they've got it made now!" and as much as the staff at the clinic are shrieking in excitement, we've been on the wrong side of tiny, tiny odds too many times to count. It could happen again, folks. When you've lost six babies, the core of your soul eventually comes to accept that which most people are blissfully ignorant of their entire lives – nothing, NOTHING, in this world is ever guaranteed. Not even when there are 15 supposedly chromosomally normal embryos with your name on them.

Sad, because odds are that at least a couple of the babies we've lost were chromosomally normal. In May, it will be five years since we lost the first one. Half a decade. I wonder what they would have been like, think about the milestones they would have been reaching. I still ache for each one of them, every day.

Guilt, because odds are that at least a couple of the babies we've lost were chromosomally normal, which means it's my body's fault that we lost them. When I see another IFer post something like that, my instinctive reaction is "No, it's not your fault, there are just some things beyond anyone's control." And I believe that 100 percent. Yet the guilt is still there, underneath it all.

Fear, because what if we put one back and it works, and then a couple years later we put one back and it works, and then we have 13 remaining chromosomally normal embryos, and four other "no results"? I might, might be able to talk R into one more at that point (and who knows if I'd even want to?), but I definitely couldn't talk him into 17 more. Not that I would want 17 myself! And then would come the painful process of letting go of them and finding other families for them. And after you've worked so hard, endured so much, for so long, how do you live knowing that pieces of you, the two of you together, are out there walking around, without you to take care of them?

Overwhelmed, because if we transfer 4 or 5 or 8 of them to me and none of them work, we're going to have to attempt the gestational surrogacy process. And that's a whole new, huge, overwhelming task that I can't even begin to contemplate tackling. Not to mention, it will involve R or me (or both of us) having to get a new job that has surrogacy coverage, because we definitely don't have the financial resources available for that on our own.

Fear, because if we have to use all 15 embryos to reach our goal of two or three children, that means there's a whole lot of heartbreak, be it negative HPTs or miscarriages, that will have occurred along the way.

Fatigue, because this means there are now 15 chromosomally normal embryos between us and the end of the treatment road. I realize that's a great dilemma to have, and don't get me wrong - I'm incredibly grateful to have this dilemma rather than the alternative. But still, it's been a long 6 years, we don't know how many more we're facing, and right now I'm a heck of a lot older, fatter and more tired than I was when we began this process.

In a lot of ways, this 75% normal rate is the best outcome we could hope for, and I know that. But regardless of what the end of this road turns out to look like, this outcome is also a guarantee that there will continue to be tremendous pain along the journey to that end.

March 01, 2009

Freezing But Having Fun

I know I've been quiet lately. Everything is fine, I'm just trying to get into a rhythm. And now we're on vacation, so I don't have much Internet access.

So far, I'm not terribly great at juggling school and work. (I started working on my master's degree online two days before I headed to Colorado for our January cycle.) And I decided to ease into it by starting with just one class for this first semester, so I can't imagine what all the rest of the semesters will be like with two classes each! I keep saying I'm going to get ahead, but right now I'm still turning in all my assignments the day before or the day they're due...

Nothing new on the IF front at this point. This Wednesday, it will be three weeks since the embryo cells were sent off for micro-array, so I imagine it will be at least a few more weeks before we get the results. But between school, work and vacation, the time is flying by.

On a much more fun note, R and I decided after the November cycle that we needed a vacation. 2008 was a tough year, with R's company kicking off the year with a major layoff, miscarriage #6, all his dad's heart problems, R winding up needing a defibrillator, and it taking six friggin' months and a couple of false starts for us to get to the point of being able to do the November cycle.

We started our vacation by flying out late on Friday night. On Saturday, we met up with my best friend and went to a place called Jillian's (I imagine it's like a Dave & Buster's, although I've never been to D&B.) Jillian's has an arcade, pool tables, a bowling alley and food. We played air hockey, skeet ball, basketball hoops and some other games. I also spotted a Chocolate Cafe nearby, which is totally my kind of place, so I dragged my friend and R there and bought $26 worth of chocolate. (Not all for me, I swear!)

Then we said goodbye to BFF and drove a couple of hours to see another close friend of ours. Her oldest daughter, now 17, was the flower girl in our wedding, and I consider her and her younger sister to be my nieces.

They had gift cards to an even more yummy chocolate place, and my friend (without knowing about the chocolate I'd bought earlier in the day - even I'm not that much of a chocolate whore!) suggested going there and stocking up. We wound up going there before dinner, just to make sure we got there before they closed. We spent $57 on chocolate - yikes! But it was for 6 people, so I suppose it's not quite so bad if you look at it that way.

We went to dinner, went back to her house and dug into some of the chocolate, and then I stayed up until about 1 a.m. helping my older niece paint her bedroom royal purple on three walls and black zebra stripes on the fourth, white wall. It sounds extreme, but it worked, especially once she started putting the room back together. It was great to see all of them.

Then we drove a few more hours to meet some other friends of ours, and tomorrow the four of us are getting up and driving five hours to the Traverse City, Michigan area, where it's supposed to be about 20 degrees. (Keep in mind, back home it was 85 degrees this weekend!) This is cold unlike any we've ever experienced! :-)

But we've rented a great place that has a fireplace and a 6-person hot tub, so we'll find ways to keep warm. We're going to go snowmobiling, play board games, just relax and have fun. Something we don't do nearly enough!