Of labs and monkeys

Hello!  I’m labmonkey, an infertile microbiologist with a penchant for puns, a love of graphs, and a more-then-mild obsession with a silly team sport.  After a sojourn in Hilly Quirky City in the US, I’ve returned to my Home and Native Land to try my hand at professing.  This space is a lab book first and foremost, to keep track of what I’ve attempted in our experiments in infertility, but also a spot for random anecdotes and musings I have on being a scientist, a woman in science, a type A personality in a collaborative work space, and a fiancee/sister/daughter/friend.

After three early losses, and diagnoses of PCOS and anti-phospholipid syndrome (a clotting disorder), we were still struggling against the odds. With four embryos on ice, and a suddenly returned natural cycle, hope remained, justified by a progressing pregnancy from our first FET with one frozen embryo in April 2016. We welcomed our son on New Years Day 2017.

Our ttc timeline:

August 2012 – no more birth control!  Still tta, but wanting to get my cycle rebooted.

August 2012 – February 2013 – 3 ovulations, all at cycle day 82-92.

January 2013 – general ultrasound tech does not see cysts (and yet 1 year later there are lots?)

March 2013 – commence ttc!

March 2013-October 2013 – annovulatory ‘cycles’ ended with progesterone.

August 2013 – cd 72 bloodwork shows textbook PCOS levels and a crazy high AMH (40 where normal is 2-7).

October 2013-February 2014 – work with an OB/GYN, 4 unmonitored clomid cycles (50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 150 mg, all cd 5-9).  Successful in stimulating ovulation on cd 22-24.

February 2014 – start working with a fertility clinic.  Find out in rapid succession I (a) have PCOS cysts as well as hormone levels, (b) am a CF carrier (but Pea is not!), (c) am not rubella or chicken-pox immune.

March 2014 – incubation period for rubella vaccine, no ttc allowed.  No ovulation in absence of medication.

April 2014 – First femara cycle with IUI.  Cyst on day 2 (22 mm), gone by cd 12 ultrasound.  5 mg cd 3-7, one follicle at 22 mm on cd 20, trigger with ovidrel 250, ovulate cd 20, iui on cd 21.

May 2014 – Second femara cycle, unmonitored, timed intercourse.  5 mg cd 3-7, ovulation on cd 14 (like a normal person!!).

June 2014 – third femara cycle, 5 mg cd 2-6, three follicles (23 mm (L), 19 mm (R), 18 mm (R)), trigger cd 13, IUI cd 14, ovulation cd 13/14

July 2014 – fourth femara cycle, 5 mg cd 3-7.  Cyst on day 2 (29 mm).  Follicles on cd12 – 25 mm (R), 18 mm (R), 16 mm(R).  Trigger cd 12, IUI and ovulation day 14.  BFP 13 dpo!  Betas: 14 dpo = 30, 17 dpo = 71, 19 dpo = 79, 21 dpo = 80, 24 dpo = 46.  Chemical, ended 5w2d.

August-October 2014 – my body does strange things (including ovulating on cd 6 once) in response to post-pregnancy hormones or my usual oddness.

October 2014 – fifth femara cycle, 5 mg cd 3-7 (maybe 2-7?). Follicle at 24 mm on R ovary on cd 12, trigger evening cd 12, IUI cd 14 – BFN.

November 2014 – sixth femara cycle, 5 mg cd 3-7. Follicle at 25 mm on L ovary on cd 11 with LH surge, IUI cd 12 – BFN

December 2014 – seventh femara cycle, 5 mg cd 3-7, TI. – BFN

January 2015 – eighth femara cycle, 7.5 mg cd 3-7, two follicles: 27 mm (L), 25 mm (R) on cd 12, triggered cd 12, TI.  BFN.

March 2015 – IVF#1. Stims with Gonal F and Menopur, HcG trigger. 26 eggs retrieved, 19 fertilized (IVF/ICSI split). Poor embryo quality – high fragmentation. Day 3 transfer of one 7 cell and one 9 cell embryos. One 3bb blastocyst frozen on day 6. BFN

April 2015 – start treatments for egg quality in prep for potential 2nd IVF in fall. 300 mg CoQ10, Ovaboost, Metformin. Begin eating more protein (aiming for 25% of daily caloric value).

June 2015 – FET with our one blast – BFP 12dp5dt, beta = 12. 15dp5dt beta = 2. Chemical pregnancy #2.

August 2015 – IVF#2, stims with FSH, lupron agonist protocol, HcG trigger. Improved embryo quality. Day 3 transfer of two 8 cell, high quality embryos. 4 blastocysts frozen (day 5 3bb, day 6 5bb, 5bb, 4bb)
13dp3dt – BFP, beta #1 = 91. 16dp3dt beta = 140. 18dp3dt beta = 148. 20dp3dt beta = 150. 23dp3dt beta = 118. 25dp3dt = 120. 26dp3dt beta = 110. 27dp3dt beta = 106, manual uterine aspiration. 28dp3dt (6w3d) beta = 29. Chemical (stubborn) pregnancy #3.

September/October 2015 – Re-start metformin. Continue high protein/moderate carb diet, with additional no dairy restriction. A natural ovulation, on cycle day 39.

November/December 2015 – Metformin, no dairy other than greek yogurt. Natural ovulation on day 41.

January 2016 – back to the pill to better time a FET in early spring.

April 2016 – FET #1 from IVF #2. Down-regulation with birth control pills and lupron. Estrogen and progesterone support to mimic a cycle.  A single day 5 5bb hatching embryo transferred into a uterus with healthy lining.
BFP on a HPT 10dp5dt, line darker than the control.
Beta #1: 14dp5dt, 1625.
Beta #2: 16dp5dt, 4507 (doubling time = 33 hours).
Early ultrasound at 7w1d – healthy embryo measuring 7w3d, heart rate 155.
Ultrasound at 11w6d – healthy, bopping fetus with nuchal fold measurement of 1.4 mm, and heart rate of 158.
Ultrasound at 19w3d – healthy fetus, all parts accounted for, 50th percentile size, heart rate of 150, low-lying placenta
Ultrasound at 29w3d to check placental position and growth – healthy fetus, 70th percentile growth, placenta no longer low lying

January 1, 2017 – Spud is born! 8 lbs 5 oz, 20 inches long.

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