Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Phew ...

So ... my sister met with the new oncologist. And she LOVED her. Which is just so great ... because she has decided to go with her. AND this new oncologist said she sees no reason at all why my sister can't do a fresh cycle before starting her cancer treatments! SO YEAH!!!!! We are definitely proceeding with a fresh cycle!!! I'm so excited, scared, nervous and anxious!

I honestly never thought I'd be going through another IVF cycle, much less ever possibly being pregnant again. And those a two very possible possibilities. And the best part?? Making my sister's dreams come true...

I know the absolute desire, the NEED, to become a parent. If I can help her with this ... well, it would just be AMAZING!

Alright ... gotta start thinking in pregnancy mode ... Gotta start curbing my caffeine, and drink more water. Oh man ... exciting times ahead!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's been a while ...

I'm sorry. It's been a while and I haven't had much to say. But things are ramping up, and I'm excited.

My sister had her lumpectomy. Twice. I wrote about the first time, and the lymph nodes were clean, and that was wonderful news. But her margins didn't come back as clear as her surgeon wanted. So they went back in again. And all the cells they took out were clean! YEAH! So surgery done! Move on to the next adventure.

She met with her oncologist last Friday. The oncologist told her that she would be radiation for 6 weeks, and she would have to take Tamoxifen for 5 years. Ok, all expected stuff. We already knew this. The doctor then said she was sending her cancer cells off to California to be tested, it's called the Oncotype test. It tests the rate of reoccurence of the cancer. If it comes back low, NO CHEMO!!!! If it comes back medium or high, she is giving my sister of the option of doing chemo, or not. Her choice. But she told my sister that if she opted to do the chemo, it would be a very low dose, and she wouldn't even lose her hair. Yes, that was one of her biggest worries. So my sister said she will probably do the chemo if it comes back medium or high to be safe.

The not so good news is that oncologist will not release her to go through a cycle of IVF prior to starting her cancer treatment. She is concerned because my sister's breast cancer was estrogen driven, and doesn't know what effect all the drugs they use during IVF will have on her. My sister told her doctor that she still wanted to do it, and the doctor said she would give her 6 weeks to do it, but no more.

So it's an issue. Our fertility clinic will not even let her cycle without the release from her doctor. So she talked to her nurse at the clinic and they referred her to an oncologist that they work with a lot in our area. My sister has an appt to see her on Monday for a second opinion.

All that being said, we are starting our process. My sister has 4 embryos on ice from a previous cycle, so worst case, I will do a FET for her. So I have some sort of saline something or other tomorrow to check my uterus. I'm really excited to get this ball rolling. I got pregnant on my first IVF cycle when me and my DH were trying. I keep hoping that I will get that lucky twice, but this time, it won't be for me.

So here's my schedule:

Tomorrow, saline test to check the uterus.
10/7 - Pre-screen with the shrink
10/14 - Pre-screen with the medical doc
10/21 - "All - Day" at the Fertility clinic with my sis, her husband and my husband. Lots of blood work and all our tests...

I'm excited. I'm anxious. I SO want to make this happen for her ...


Saturday, August 30, 2008

So ... what do we think of all this election stuff??

First a quick update. My sister is recovering well. She's back to work and has some pain where they took the lymph nodes, but she's doing better. She meets with her surgeon next Wednesday, and as long as she gets the all clear, she will be moving on to her oncologist. He needs to give her a letter that clears her to do the IVF cycle, so that's what we are waiting for!

I have gotten all my paperwork into the RE, so the next step for me is to have two phone screenings, one with the doctor, and one with the therapist. Then they plan an "all day" where me, my husband, my sister and her husband spend the whole day at the clinic, having tests done, meeting with doctors etc. The only thing is, this costs about $2500 (out of pocket) and the RE doesn't want to do it until my sister gets the all clear. No need to incur costs when there could be reasons that stop this from happening. So we'll see how it goes.

Ok, so now, what do we all think about McCain's pick. I must admit, I was in the middle. I am economically a Republican, but very much socially a Democrat. So I wasn't sure which way to go in this election. But then McCain picked Palin, and I offically am in Obama's camp. For me, I can't support anyone who is a Conservative Christian. It's just completely off the table for me. I am terrified in general of politicians using their political power to push their dogma. No no no! Can't have it.

Plus, she's like SUPER anti-choice. And, as someone mentioned on another blog I read, if they overturn Roe v Wade, guess who they will come after next? Yup, all us infertile and our reproductive sciences. They already have issues with IVF ... I imagine if abortion wasn't their big problem anymore, they might turn to that.

As we discussed on another site I frequent, Pro-life is not a proper term. Who isn't pro-life? The opposite of pro-life is anti-life ... and really, who is that? If I was anti-life, I would be running around killing everyone, or I would have killed myself if I was anti-life. It doesn't make sense. What pro-lifers really are are anti-choice. They do not want a pregnant woman to make the choice of what she does with her body, And I just can't get behind that. So, I will always be pro-choice. And I can't get behind this McCain/Palin ticket.

I think it's easy to be against abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE. Congratulations. You have been given a choice, and you have chosen not to have an abortion. I, on the other hand, would prefer that my choices are left up to me, and not up to a governement made up of men. Thank you.

So what about you all? Any feelings about this election? Truth is, I'm never going to be happy with either candidate. Is anyone? Does anyone REALLY believe these promises that these politicians make?

On my twin website, people were moved to tears by Obama, and were SO excited about him. Really? Do you REALLY think anything he said will happen? I guess I'm just horribly cynical, but I just don't see how it can happen. It's not like one man or woman can get into office and really make a difference. There is that pesky thing called Congress.

Oh well, how I look at it is like this. If we are going to have new supreme court justices places in the next 4-8 years, I don't want some conservative douche bag that makes his decisions based on his religion deciding things for the entire country.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Woo Hoo!

I'm sorry I've been a slacker. There hasn't been much to say, and I've been kind of staying away from the computer. I read everyone else's blogs, but I just don't feel like posting.

But we have some good news!! My sister had her lumpectomy today, and they tested her lymph nodes, and the cancer has not spread! I am so happy I cried with relief when my mom called me. It was just worrying us so much, and her luck as been SO shitty, that I just was so worried it wouldn't turn out to be good. So this is good.

She still has to go through radiation. And maybe chemo, depending on the size of the cancer, but just knowing it didn't spread is such a relief.

On the surrogacy front, I finally got all my paperwork in order. My OB was supposed to pull all my OB, L&D and C-section reports together for me. I faxed in the request like two weeks ago. I finally called them this week to see what was up, since I hadn't heard from them, and they didn't have my request. So annoying! So I did what I had to. I lied. I told them that I have a doctors appt on Wednesday, and I NEED these records. Thankfully it lit a fire under their butts, and they faxed all my stuff over to my RE right on the spot. So I'm going to drop off all the paperwork I had to fill out tomorrow. I'm so anxious to get this how on the road.

That being said, I'm getting slightly stressed. I'm already putting a lot of pressure on myself. I want this to work SO BAD. I want to give my sister something to keep her going while she battles through this stupid cancer. I want to be pregnant, and be able to give her this amazing gift, this beacon of light to help her get through this. I'm going to feel like crap if it doesn't work. And I KNOW how often it doesn't work! I think maybe I was just spoiled, because my first IVF worked. Two in, 8 months later, two out. I want that again, but not for me. For her. So my DH keeps telling me to please realize that I can't MAKE it happen. We can only do the best we can, follow the procedures, and hope for the best.

I know he's right. But I know that I'm still going to be feeling the pressure. And I want to add, this a pressure I alone am putting on myself. My sister has said to me that she knows this whole thing is a crap shoot, and there are no guarantees. But damn, I want to give her one.


Monday, August 11, 2008

The results are in...

My sister got the results of her BRAC Analysis. She does NOT have any mutations ... which means she is NOT pre-disposed to getting breast cancer again. Woo hoo. A silver lining in this big crappy mess.

So, she has made her decision. She is going to have the lumpectomy, followed by radiation and some pill that she needs to take for 5 years. Depending on the size of the cancer when they remove it, she will probably have to do chemo. They will also test the lymph nodes will she is in surgery to see if it has spread there. Her surgery is scheduled for Aug 19th. One week from tomorrow. I'm anxious for it to be here, and over with.

We have been doing a TON of surrogacy research. After a lot of going back and forth, it seems that my insurance WILL cover my maternity care. The exclusion listed in my insurance coverage means that my insurance will not allow me to use the 10,000K they give me for fertility for surrogacy purposes, which is why the exclusion was listed under the "Reproduction" area. There were no exclusions under maternity, so we are good to go with that. I am waiting for my OB and Labor and Delivery records from my OBGYN to give to our clinic, so we can get the process started. I'm anxious, nervous, scared, and all I want to do is be able to help my sister with this.

What else is going on? I'm fucking tired. I've been fighting this weird bug where I've been nauseous, super tired, with pounding headaches. Yeah, sounds kinda like pregnancy right? No chance. The sickness started the day after my period ended. I just wish it would go the heck away.

I have to go into NY for work tomorrow and I am so not into it. I worked from home today, and I wish I could do that again tomorrow. My mind is just so NOT into work. I spend time on my crazy twin website (yes, that post is coming!!) and on the surrogacy website. Which means I'm doing a whole lot of nothing else. I suck. I'm so unmotivated.

Ok. I'm going to drown in my tiredness and finish watching "The Two Coreys". Yes, I LOVED Corey Haim when I was younger, and this show is like the worlds craziest train wreck. I LOVE it! haha ...


Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm feeling down

So I'm kinda bummed today. I found a surrogate website, and just spent some time reading it, looking around, trying to gather info. And I came across someone who mentioned that some insurance companies have exclusions for surrogacy. So I pulled up my insurance info on their website, and sure enough, surrogacy is excluded. So, I called up my insurance company to find out info, to see if everything was excluded about it. Because some people were saying that it might be excluded from being on, or from using one ...

Everything is excluded. So if I was to be a surrogate for my sister, I couldn't use my insurance for my maternity coverage. So I think we would have to purchase the insurance to cover this, and who knows how much that would be! We paid out of pocket for our IVF, but my company just added IF benefits, 10K lifetime. Not great, but it's something. DH and I talked about it, and we were willing to use it for this surrogacy, but now I'm not sure if I can do that either.

I hate this. I'm so angry. It's not like my sister has $50,000 lying around to pay for me to go through this, and then to pay for my medical benefits. I'm so ANGRY. I'm so mad that this stupid cancer is going to make it impossible to have a biological child. She might have to freeze her embies, and wait 5 years to have her own child ... and who even knows if it will happen then.

I know that she can adopt, and I think adoption is a wonderful way to build your family, but I'm still mad. I'm mad that I am here and willing to carry for her, and god damn money is the one thing standing in our way. How much is this poor girl going to have to go through??

My sister had Lasik eye surgery ... she was in the 1% or some ridiculously small percentage that develops something call Keratoconus, which basically is a weakened cornea. My DH's father actually had this, and he had to have cornea transplants in both eyes. So, her vision has gotten so screwed up, but she can't wear contacts to fix it, and she can't wear glasses to fix it. So, she can't drive at night anymore and she doesn't do things like go the movies or go to the theater because her vision is not good. She is in the process of working with a lawyer to sue her doctor because she should never have been a candidate for Lasik, and the doctor didn't do the due diligence testing to discover this. So great, she can't see.

Then she is going through IVF, with loss after loss after loss. Now the cancer. Do you see why I'm angry? I just want ONE thing to fall on the right side of the coin for her. My heart breaks every single day when she comes to my house and hugs my kids, loves on them, covers them with kisses and just lets them how much she loves them. She would be an AMAZING mom. And I'm beyond pissed that her journey is this hard.

This might be a good segway into my "I am an atheist and please don't tell me that God has a plan" post.

Until then,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baby Mama

So, I'm kind of excited at the thought of being a surrogate for my sister. We were talking about it the other day, and all I kept saying was "So, I get to have 9 months (give or take) of people all excited because I'm pregnant. You KNOW how everyone loves a pregnant woman! And then to top it off I'm sure I'll get extra attention when I mention that I'm not carrying my babies, but my sisters! because she is going through cancer treatments. Then I get paid time off of work before the baby/babies are born. Then I get 8 weeks paid time off after they are born, with NO NEWBORN BABY! And a big fat bottle of percocet! Can one girl be so lucky? DH asked me where he could sign up!

As for my sister, she met with the people at Sloan-Kettering in NYC this week, and really liked the oncologist. So I think she will be going with them. Right now, she is really waiting for the results of the BRACAnalysis. The BRACAnalysis test detects mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations in these genes have been determined to predispose individuals to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. So I am thinking if they find the mutations, it may push her towards doing the single or double mastectomy. If it is not found, she may just do the lumpectomy and radiation. But it seems like regardless of these choices she makes, she will have to go through chemo. Which I think for all of us is the scariest part.

Once she makes her decision, we (her DH and her, me and my DH) will meet with our RE and discuss what we are going to do, how we get synced up, and what my part in all this is. I don't know anything about surrogacy, so I have no idea how much of the protocal I need to do. I know I'll have to do the PIO shots, but besides that, I don't know if they stim me. Anyone know anything about surrogacy?

It's funny, because so many people have said to me what an amazing sister I must be, and I just don't feel that way. I feel like it's nothing. It's my body for 9 months, to give my sister a lifetime of happiness. She would do it for me in a heartbeat. I just don't feel like I'm doing anything special. It's my sister. She's my best friend, and all I want is for her to be healthy and happy.

That being said, I'm going for my first ever mammogram tomorrow, and I'm kinda freaked. I've never had one, and with everything going on, I'm certainly a bit scared. But I've always been one to say, if there is something to be found, find it sooner. I don't want to not know, because then it's just going to get worse.

I'll keep you all updated.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Breathe In, Breathe Out

So, I guess I might as well start by getting the stuff about my sister off my chest. It's long, so bear with me.

My DH and I discovered we were going to have trouble having a baby in the fall of 2006. We saw an RE, had all the testing done, and then I had to have emergency surgery for an ulcer, and that kind of put everything on hold. In January 2007, I got a new job and we went under my new insurance. Neither my job, nor my DH's job covered an IF treatments. So we found a great place that offered Shared Risk Programs. And it was also once of the best, if not THE best, RE in New Jersey. So we made an appt.

I ended up sharing my issues with my sister. DH and I had decided not to tell anyone, we just didn't want the pressure of everyone in our families knowing. My sister ALWAYS has said that she does not want kids. She loved living near NYC, going out all the time, traveling, and she just didn't want to give up that lifestyle.

Well, when I told her about our issues, she shared that her and her husband had also been trying for almost a year, and she wanted to know which doctor I was using, because she was going to call them also.

I was a little upset. I'm just being honest here. I didn't feel great about knowing that we would be going through infertility together. I was scared to death of her getting pregnant, at the same time that I didn't get pregnant. It just seemed too close. I wished that I hadn't told her.

So fast forward. August 2007 we both start to cycle. I was on a short protocol, so on Day 3, I immediately started stims. My sis on the other hand was on a longer protocol where she did a month of BCP first. So mid August, I'm getting my retrieval, and she is still doing BCP.

I lied to my family though. I told them I was on the same protocol as my sister, so when I was trasferring two blasts in, my family thought I was on BCPs planning for everything to happen the next month.

Well, it ended with me getting pregnant with the twins. Yeah. Not such a happy ending for my sister. She ended up with OHSS, 44 eggs, and a stay in the hospital because of all the fluid she retained. The doctors did a "freeze all" on her embies, and only 1 was able to be frozen.

She did a frozen cycle with her single totsicle in December, and got a BFP. Her betas did not double correctly. It was a royal pain in the ass, because her HCG kept going up. They saw a sac, and a fetal pole, but never a heartbeat. I think it was around 8 weeks that she ended up having a D&C.

My sister is great, and was super supportive throughout my whole pregnancy, although I'm sure it wasn't easy. She planned my entire shower, and did just an amazing job. So when I gave birth in April, she was over all the time. So I knew something was kind of odd when they were about 2 weeks old and I didn't hear from her for like a week. She ended up calling me and telling me she did another fresh cycle, this time there were 38 eggs, and she got OHSS again. She had to go have a needle put into her uterus to drain all the fluid. She was out of work for almost 2 weeks, and was at the RE for hours everyday hooked up to an IV. They did another freeze all, but earlier, so there were like 13 frozen.

My sister did a few FETs, and one time she had another positive, only to have non-doubling betas and another D&C. The other time, it was just negative.

Finally she decided it was time to do another fresh cycle. She discussed with her RE, and he said he think he came up with a protocol that would stop her from overstimulating. By this time, she was 36. Our RE requires a yearly mammogram for anyone older than 35 who is going through treatment.

She went for her mammogram, and the doctor called her that night to say that there was something concerning on the film, and he wanted her to see a breast specialist. She went to see him a few days later, and he said he was 90% sure it was nothing, but they needed to go in and biopsy an area where there was something. She had the biopsy done, and about a week later got a call that it was non-cancerous, and to come in for a follow up meeting a week later.

At that follow up, the doctor said he saw something ELSE concerning, so he wanted to go in and get more tissue, but this time they would knock her out. She got the results while on vacation on July 3rd. The cells were cancerous.

My sis went with my mom and her husband a week later to meet with the doctor/breast surgeon. He gave her three options:

1. A lumpectomy where they take out the breast tissue where the cancer is, and tissue from the surrounding area. She would need to follow this up with radiation treatment, and there is a pill she would have to take for 5 years.

2. A mastectomy where they would completely remove the infected breast, and reconstructive surgery for an implant. She wouldn't need any follow up radiation or chemo.

3. A bi-mastectomy where they would remove both breasts, and reconstructive surgery for both. Again, no chemo or radiation.

Another thing they do is immediately during surgery (regardless of which one she has) they take a sample of your lymph nodes, and send them to the lab to see if they are infected. If they are, they take out a bunch of them, and then she will have to do chemo either way.

Also, she was told that if she had any kind of treatment (chemo/radiation) she would have to put of TTC for 5 years. Which would put her at 42. This is when my mom said my sister really lost it. She just started crying and couldn't stop, saying "Im never going to be a mom". To tell you that this broke my heart would be a complete understatement.

So this was the surgeon who told her this. We have a history of breast cancer in my family, my maternal grandmother died of it. So my sister was sent to a genetic counselor for testing to see if she carries the gene that predisposes her to breast cancer. If she does, that may push her more towards the mastectomy, versus the lumpectomy.

Ugh. So then she met with the oncologist. And she dittoed most of what the surgeon said, except she told my sister that she probably would be going through chemo regardless. My sister's cancer currently measures at something like .9 mm, and the doctor said if it's 1 mm or greater, she would have to go through chemo. So now she feels like she will be going through chemo regardless, and it completely and utterly overwhelmed.

My heart is just breaking. Right now she is in fact gathering mode. She has met with many surgeons, oncologists, and plastic surgeons. She is actually meeting with doctors at Sloan-Kettering in NYC today. She is going to hear the results of her genetic testing on Aug 5th at her doctors appt. Depending on the results, I will probably have to go get tested as well. I'm also going to get my first ever mammogram on Monday.

So, in the midst of all this, she met with her RE. He said he has dealt with other patients where this has happened in the past. Depending on the type of treatment, it may not have to be 5 years, could be closer to 3. But he said either way, they will do a fresh cycle and freeze after she has her surgery, but before she starts her treatment.

This is where I come in. My sister hasn't had the greatest luck with her frozen cycles. So I offered to be a surrogate. I offered for her to go through the cycle, and instead of freezing all, transfer the best into me.

So, that's the deal. I'm excited to do any little bit for her that I can. My DH is amazing, and 100% on board. He knows that things might get hectic in our house should it work, he would have to do a bit more with our kids, especially the bigger I get. But we are both willing to make any sacrifice we can for my sister and her husband.

Now we basically just have to wait for her to make her decision about treatment, and go from there.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading. It's so much to take in, and this is such a good place for me to talk about it, and get feedback, but not have every Tom, Dick and Harry that read the twins site read about it.

It's going to be a long journey. And if I already feel this drained, I can only imagine how she must feel.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Welcome and Intro

Hi guys. Welcome to my new digs. I have another blog that is mainly for discussion of my twins, but it's very public (read: all my family and friends know about it) so I decided that I needed a place that is just for me. I need a place where I can talk about those same family and friends WITHOUT them knowing. And a place I can talk about issues that might offend them, or things they might not know about me, and I would prefer to keep it that way.

So about me. I conceived my twins via IVF and ICSI. They are, far and away, the light of my life. I've been married to the love of my life (here known as DH) for 5 years (in December). We've known each other since we met our freshman year in college, 17 years ago. He is my best friend and I am the luckiest girl in the world to be married to him.

I work full time as a computer programmer for a great company, and I really like what I do. But I do have a lot of work issues that I would love to vent about on here. So, stay tuned.

I am absolutely addicted to television. I watch a ridiculous amount of tv. Like seriously, out of control. You name a reality tv show, and I watch it. You name a non-reality tv show, and I watch that too. It's crazy. I have no idea how we fit this stuff in. But we do. I also love movies, but we don't get out nearly as much as we used to. DH and I are dying to go see the new Batman movie. We are hoping to get there this week sometime.

I have so much to talk about here, I don't even know how to get started. I want to talk about religion, or my lack there of. I'm an atheist, and it's had some repercussions with my family (I was raised Catholic). I want to talk about my thoughts on going through IVF again, and wanting another kid. I want to talk about my job, and how some of the changes occurring are stressing me, and making me re-evaluate staying there. I want to talk about a twin website I frequent, that I am a member of, and all the horrible people on there. I want to talk about politics, who I'm voting for, why I can't decide, why I am against Universal Healthcare, and why I'm for gay marriage. And lastly, I want to talk about my sister, my best friend. She is going through something that I can't even fathom right now. She is 36. She's been trying to have a baby for like 3 years. She has gone through IVF many times. She was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

See why I need a non-baby blog?

Thanks for coming along for the ride.