Wednesday, December 29, 2010

T-Minus One and Counting...

In less than 24 hours, I'll be on vacation.

Oh my. That sounds absolutely wonderful, doesn't it? Okay, okay. Sorry to gloat. Skip this if you don't wanna know...

We start with a few days down south in Florida. We'll be staying in an area that we've visited so frequently since I was 8 years old, it feels almost like 'coming home' when we go there. We're looking forward to it.

We'll fly down with my parents tomorrow, the 30th (please God Petite won't get sick all over me and all our seatmates like she did last August when we flew back to Ottawa from the east coast!) and my sister and her husband will meet up with us on the 31st. That same afternoon, the ladies are getting pedicures while the men tend to Petite. We'll celebrate the new year with a meal at one of our favorite restaurants (fairly early to avoid the rush and accommodate Petite of course). Drinks at our hotel for midnight will definitely be in order! Or on the beach... a stone's throw from our hotel room. Good heavens, it's sounding better and better all the time!

January 1 sees us spending the day looking for bargains at the outlet stores in Ellenton, Florida. I'm looking forward to that too; I want to find a dress for Petite to wear to my cousin's wedding coming up in June 2011 out west. Oh, and a bathing suit for her too. And a pair of sandals for me. That oughta do it. *nod nod*

On January 2nd, we all embark on a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise (Carnival) with stops in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Isla Roatan, Honduras; Belize, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. My mother will celebrate her 69th birthday while we're aboard! YAY!

We're cruising with another family who are great friends of ours, and their children and grandchildren too. All in all, we're numbering 15 on board in both parties. This should be fun!

Although, I'll be honest. Some parts of it, I'm sort of dreading. Like the policy that because Petite isn't toilet trained (she wears swim diapers), she cannot go in any of the pools on board, even the kiddy pool. Ugh. She won't like that at all; she loves the water. Or the fact that while we have a harness for her so she won't run and slide off the end of the deck or something, she absolutely refuses to wear the thing without a total meltdown. Or the fact that we've reserved cribs for her in the hotel and at sea, but what on earth will we do if she climbs out of them? Dear Lord, please let this go well. I want us all to enjoy this vacation; we all want and need that.

Money is tight for us with Hubby in school; this trip is a gift from my parents, as decided by them last year before Christmas, when Petite was... well, really tiny! I've been looking forward to it since, but our house is so crazy, it's only in the last week or so that I can really get my hopes up. I'm grateful beyond belief that they're doing this for all of us. What an amazing gift. A few of their friends commented on how generous they are to us, to do this for us. Mom's reply is usually along the lines of, "Well, maybe if you didn't buy your kids junk or electronics and toys for Christmas, you could do that too." She's right too. Skip the iPad... I'd rather a 7-day vacation! REALLY!

Christmas with Petite was a lot of fun. She loved opening the gifts (with help from her Daddy). Nana and Poppy (my parents) loved watching her too. She got all sorts of beautiful clothing -- dresses, sleepers, socks, fleece outfits -- and lots of toys, like the Fisher Price Animal Farm, an easel to draw and colour, Weebles in her stocking, a 'remote' for the car/house (I think I'll attach that to the stroller for the trip), a French version of Leapfrog's Cook and Play Potsy, and the French version of the Laugh and Learn Musical Chair. And BOOKS! Oh so many books! And nothing that she already had! Bonus! Oh I'm so happy she loves reading!

She's learning by leaps and bounds. Ŧhe other day, all Nana had to do was say, "Do you want some breakfast?" and Petite pushed her high chair out through the kitchen doorway and over by the dining room! No joke! This morning, she uncovered the candy dish and Nana taught her that candy is "Yucky"... which she obediently repeated and put the candy down in the dish again, shaking the sugar from her fingers. (Hubby caught this on video; it's so cute!) It's been a lot of fun having her around the house, and for me, having a few days at home to enjoy her. What a fantastic opportunity. I miss that so much. God I wish I could be a stay-at-home-mom. *sigh*

I don't know how often I'll have the opportunity to post while away. I hope to, but no guarantees; after all, this is supposed to be a vacation, right? I'm playing my days entirely by ear; we don't even have any excursions booked yet! Probably for the best, given Petite's age and need for naps. At least we have a few other adults to help us out in that department.

So, in case I don't get another opportunity, I'd like to take the time to wish you and yours a wonderful New Year. May it be filled with joy and love, peace and prosperity. And oh God, may all our dreams come true in 2011. Wouldn't that be something special?

Much love as we all close out 2010. Onward and upward for the new year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Tad Scattered

Petite's had her first haircut. And it went relatively well. She didn't get upset or cry. She was quite good in fact. Except of course that she's rather squirmy and wanted to get down to play with the various toys in the shop. I tried to keep her entertained and snapped a bunch of photos as the stylist was working with her. It turned out pretty well. I must try to upload a photo when I remember it.

Good news yesterday; at 18 wks 6 days, my sister had an ultrasound. They're going to have a boy! As one of my friends said, "One of each for your parents to love!" We're thrilled for my sis and her husband. I get to be an aunt to a sweet little baby boy! YAY!

The countdown to Christmas has begun. I've still got a litlte shopping to handle, though not much now. I have wrapping to do too. And groceries. And Petite needs to get her picture taken with Santa. And then after all the Christmas insanity is done, I have to get out the suitcases and try to pack for vacation. Somewhere in there, I have to get bloodwork done. And take the van for servicing. And remember to keep up with the choir practices, and appearances at church services. Oh my.

I need about 30 hours in a day in order to get all this stuff done.

And oh please, if I could sleep soundly for about 7 hours of those 30? Now THAT would be novel. *falls over, from lack of sleep and really low iron stores*

I'm hoping your holiday stresses are few and your joy is plentiful. Peace and goodwill to all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Post-Appointment Details

Sorry I haven't posted; it's been a little crazy at our house this week, what with the lack of sleep on Petite's behalf, trying to get my Christmas cards out the door (God I'm slackin; I usually have those done by the first weekend in December!), cleaning in preparation for my parents' arrival tomorrow afternoon for the holidays, shopping, other appointments, etc. Anyway, here's the scoop on how things went in Montreal.

We first saw Dr. Tan's fellow -- a lovely woman -- who took down many of our details and went over our latest round of bloodwork and testing. She expressed concern about the thickness of my endometrium on CD4 (just over 10... far too high really), and concern about the cyst, and concern about the heavy bleeding I've been experiencing.

She indicated that a functional cyst, even if removed, will return in most cases. Thus if birth control pills won't get rid of it, and if it doesn't disappear between now and our IVF cycle, they'll aspirate like they did before.

She was worried about the endometrium. As she told us, women who have PCOS are usually prone to developing hyperplasia (the growth rate of endometrial cells is quite rapid) and if left unchecked or treated, it CAN develop into something serious (aka cancer). However, if checked and treated, all it may need is medication to control it. And if it isn't hyperplasia, it wouldn't need anything at all of course. To be certain, she recommended an endometrial biopsy, so she booked that for the same day, right after our appointment with Dr. Tan.

Next up, we saw Dr. Tan. First we went over our results from our first (and only to date) IVF. He was pleased, of course. Then we talked about my LH and FSH (both quite good). We talked about the cyst. We talked about the heavy bleeding and endometrial lining. He recommended that I continue with the Provera that my Ottawa-based RE prescribed as that can help thin out a thick lining and may help the cyst issue. Next, he wondered about my HbA1c. That's a test that measures glucose levels over a period of weeks/months. While my fasting glucose is fine, he wants to check the long-term stuff to ensure I'm not diabetic or borderline. I doubt that I am and I'm not worried. So I'll get that bloodwork done in the next week or two. After that, Dr. Tan looked at my last results with the menopur. Back in the fall of 2008, I was taking 225 IUs. He said that given my age and the previous results, he'd recommend bumping it to 300 IUs for the next IVF. He said that they would follow the same protocol, doing ICSI and assisted hatching and graciously, he's going to allow me a general anaesthetic as well, which is something they usually don't do and of course, isn't normal for their Quebec patients who receive federal funding for IVF. Like I said to the fellow, I'm paying for this out of pocket. If I want general for the retrieval, I'll get it or I guess I'll go somewhere else. Dr. Tan was happy to let me have a general if needed. I think it'd be better for everyone if we do it that way! Though, I might try to push through and just have the twilight stuff. We'll see as time goes on. We aren't doing this tomorrow, after all. Through the appointment, I was comfortable referring to various blood tests, and other medical terminology of course. He stopped and looked at me, "Are you a nurse?" I laughed. "No, but I've been dealing with infertility for a very long time. I know what I'm talking about, and now I'm an advocate for infertiles and for obtaining funding for Canadians." He was pleased by this as he still can't understand why one province or two might give preferential treatment based on residency. It's discriminatory and as he said, it's time to change that.

So after the details were decided, we moved out of the consultation room and after a short wait, we popped over to an exam room to do the endometrial biopsy. (NOTE: Gentlemen, you might like to skip this paragraph.) For those who haven't had the pleasure (I jest of course!) of an endometrial biopsy, the procedure is fairly simple. Assume the, now familiar, position. And lady, dear mother of all that is holy, when I tell you that you'll need a long speculum, get a long speculum, willya? Don't make me suffer through a few attempts with a less-than adequate device that just friggin' WON'T reach my cervix, m'kay? When you get the right length, then we can proceed. *waits patiently* Got it? Good. Let's get on with this, shall we? Then with the speculum inserted, she took a long (more than a foot and half I'd estimate) straw-like, flexible, thin catheter-type thing, inserted it past the cervix, into the uterus and with a few pokes and pinches, withdrew endometrial lining (deep red in colour) and pushed the material out of the straw into a specimen jar with fluid inside. She did this entire procedure twice, pulling bits of lining from a few areas inside the uterus, deposited it into the jar, closed the cover, and shook the jar to mix thoroughly. And off to the lab it went: results will be expected in 2 weeks to 2 months. And she prescribed an antibiotic (doxycycline) to ward off infection that might occur post-procedure.

Next up, we got an appointment for hubby with the urologist who did his PESA a few years ago. Dr. Chan went over hubby's results from last time, examined him quickly and proclaimed that he'd use the same procedure, extracting sperm samples from two sites on Hubby's left testicle), and he expects the same results. Just in case, we still have a vial of donor sperm on ice at the hospital. We could use it if needed, but Dr. Chan and Dr. Tan expect we won't need it. And right on the spot, hubby and the doctor signed the consent forms. All done! Whew!

That was it for the bulk of the appointment. We now wait for the biopsy results. When they come back, we are to call Dr. Tan directly and he'll set up the next steps for us. He was quite happy to be able to do that for us and he expects good things from our next IVF as well. I'm glad he's optimistic. Truth be told, I'm optimistic too, but God, I'm so afraid to be! This whole 'trying again' thing has me sorta tied up in knots. I'm terrified of failure after such a good result the first time. And we don't have the money to fund more than one try this time either. So I have to temper my hopeful thoughts a little and realize that we may not get this lucky second time around. One step at a time, right?

On Tuesday, after we'd arrived back in Ottawa, I called my RE here to get the requisition for the bloodwork (HbA1c) and to check on the prescription for Provera and when I need to take it (CD 12-25). They were happy to know about the biopsy as well. I'll make sure they get results too.

There you go. Now we wait, I get my bloodwork done and fill my Provera prescription. And with luck, we can get the ball rolling in a few months.

In the meantime, oh God, if anyone has ideas about how to get a toddler to stay asleep in her bed overnight, let me know?! We're EXHAUSTED! Hubby is doing final exams this week so he'll get a bit of a break after this. But right now, we're stumbling through our days. The other morning, I fell asleep at a stoplight on my way to work! The car behind me honked and I came to my senses. I need more than the few hours of sleep I'm getting. Gotta fix this.

The other day, Hubby was doing Petite's bedtime routine with her, and he said, "Go give Mama a kiss," and she did. She walked right over to me, threw her arms around my neck, snuggled in close and then backed off my shoulder a bit, tilted her head up and brought her lips in to give me a sweet, little open-mouthed kiss. I almost cried. Seriously.

A milestone: I've booked Petite's "first haircut" for this coming Saturday, December 18. Two years to the day that we got our BFP. And my angel is about to have her hair trimmed. I can't really put it off any longer; I won't have my daughter going on vacation with a mullet! LOL

Love to all in Blogland. Still reading your blogs, but I find it harder to comment lately. Again, the "need more time" thing is coming into play. But I am reading! Promise.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

T minus 13 hours... *gulp*

Thirteen hours from now, I'll be sitting in our specialist's office in Montréal...

... scared sh*tless.

I have no idea how this appointment is going to play out, but I am nervous tonight as I contemplate the various scenarios.

I just hope I don't walk out of there like I did our first appointment with the staff at McGill. I remember sniffling in the parking lot, bawling my eyes out by the time I sat down in the car and totally breaking down on our way back home. I was terrified.

At that time, we had already done so much and gone through so many tests, tears, grief and pain over the previous six years, I didn't know if I could pull myself together to get the "rest" of the tests done for the folks in MTL.

But I managed. We did it.

And look where it got us.

Please God, let tomorrow go well. I would love to make our little girl a big sister at the end of all this.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Funding IVF in Ontario; The Time is Now

It was with pleasure that I read Loribeth's post the other day. She discussed Canada's Governor General, Mr. David Johnston, in her post "Hey, the GG has a clue!" and referenced an article that recently appeared in the Star. In his first official visit to Queen's Park, our GG urged Ontario to act on adoption and infertility, "imploring MPPs to make it easier for women to get pregnant and for families to adopt children."

In 2008, Dalton McGuinty's Liberals asked Mr. Johnston to head up the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption. For those who may not know, I was one of the hundreds of people interviewed by the panel. I told my story, in detail. At the time, I was about 10 weeks pregnant after our only IVF cycle at McGill in Montreal. And yes, I told them that the reason I chose to go to Montreal and not the Ottawa Fertility Centre, was, at that time, mainly financial.

The panel's report is Raising Expectations, and among its recommendations are the following:

  • Create a provincial adoption agency.
  • Develop tools to manage the adoption system.
  • Provide adequate funding that supports the realities of adoption.

Assisted Reproduction

  • All Ontarians should know how to protect their fertility. (discusses education, counselling, fertility testing and monitoring)
  • Assisted reproduction services should be safe and meet the highest, evidence-based standards. (discusses accreditation, multiple births, safety, timeliness)
  • Ontario cannot afford not to fund assisted reproduction (discusses what should be funded, including fertility medication and counselling)
  • Ontarians who could benefit should have access to assisted reproduction services. (discusses work life, geographic access, legal and social barriers, fertility preservation, and HIV discordant couples)

And it recommends that there is a need to raise awareness about family building options in Ontario.

(Read the executive summary. // Read the full report [index]).

As the head of that Expert Panel, it is David Johnston's signature on the documentation submitted to the Ontario Health Minister, Deb Matthews, for further review... and hopefully, action. However, as of yet, we've seen none.

In the 15 months since that report was submitted, there's been very little in the media, in the way of discussion, and certainly, there's been even less action. As Loribeth said, David Johnston's discussion at Queen's Park "is a welcome reminder and endorsement from a high-profile Canadian."

A few months ago, in the Ottawa Citizen, there was an article entitled "High Cost of IVF stalls funding in Ontario." It cited Ontario's Health Minister, Deb Matthews, in that article as the person making that statement. In response, I wrote to Minister Matthews. Yet again, I told my story. I reminded her that without the finances behind us, I would be in the position of never having a child and never being able to carry on my family's name. Never giving my parents a grandchild to love and hold and dote upon. And I urged her to move forward with the recommendations.

I actually got a letter back from Ms. Matthews last week. In it, she thanked me kindly for contacting her. She congratulated me on the birth of Petite. But the majority of her letter focused on the fact that much study and review still needs to be done.

You know something? The studies have been done. Governments at various levels have already put a ton of money into ensuring that studies were done, and done correctly, and that due consideration was given to their recommendations. Those recommendations have now been put forth and let me be clear: they are unanimous.



There's always going to be a desire to do 'more studies' and 'more reflection'. That's the nature of the beast with such a complex decision. However, while the recommendations of the Expert Panel languish on some bureaucrat's desk, people like me are desperately searching for ways to fund their family-building methods, or frantically trying to find their way around the adoption-go-round.

It's long past time that our government helped us. It's long past time to change the fact that residents of other provinces get preferential treatment and access to help not afforded to the province that I choose to live in. (Make no mistake, it is a choice that can be revoked.)

This year, Quebec saw the light and now funds up to three cycles of IVF treatments. I hear that the increase in clients at McGill is exponential. I expect to be met with a sea of faces when I go back next week to talk to our doctor about trying to have a second child. In addition to Quebec's decision, Manitoba took action as well. That province stepped up, offering maximum amount for those undergoing treatments.

So do I need to move to another province to get treatment? Do people in one or two provinces merit assistance and none of the rest of us do? Right across the river from where I live is Gatineau. It's in Quebec. Do I need to move less than five kilometres in order to have my next IVF funded? Believe me, Gatineau is very close to my home. I can, literally, see the province of Quebec from my doorstep. I've seriously considered making that move.

In 2009 (on the day Petite was born in fact, August 27, 2009), Premier Dalton McGuinty said that he believes the Ontario government should be in the baby-making business. Understandably, he indicated that there must be consideration for assistance, and that maybe the government would first have to move on low-cost recommendations or phase in changes over time. At that time, NDP Leader, Andrea Horwatch urged the government to implement the Expert Panel's recommendations, reminding us that "Infertility is often an embarrassing and painful issue for thousands of women, while adoption is costly and takes years to go through the process. We need bold action from the McGuinty government to help these women and families across Ontario become parents."

And then, a couple of days ago, the whole issue was brought to the forefront again. A federal Liberal candidate, Mr. David Bertschi, knocked on my door. When he did, Hubby answered. Hubby said, "I have no questions, but I'm sure my wife has something to ask you." I picked up Petite, carried her to the front door, and said to him, "Do you see this little girl?" He nodded and smiled at her (seriously, she's so cute, how could he not?). I stated, "She is the direct result of six years of infertility treatments, more than $30,000 and one IVF cycle that gave us a miracle. While I was pregnant, I was part of the Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption. The recommendations have been presented to the government. It's time to act. And I really don't think I should have to take out a second mortgage to do it." We chatted for a few moments, and I gave him the address to this blog.

Let's hope Mr. Bertschi sees this blog. Let's hope he sees and maybe gets to meet some of you, my sisters and brothers in infertility, who fight alongside me day after day, year after year, hoping that things will change. We want change for us, yes. That's true. But also for the many that come behind us.

All I can say is I'm glad I'm not waiting around for any government to help me. If I wait for someone in Queen's Park to make a move on this, I'll be well over the age limit by the time they get around to me. And if that's the way that governments assist their constituents, we certainly have a long way to go.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Two Years Ago Today

On December 2, 2008, I wrote a post fairly late in the evening to update everyone.

That was the day of my retrieval for our one and only IVF cycle that produced Petite.

I have no idea where two whole years have gone; it seems quite a blur to me. On that day, six mature eggs were retrieved, all fertilized by ICSI and a few days later, three were transferred back.

One of those three is our little miracle. And I smile today in memory of where we were two years ago and how very lucky we are to have come this far.

Blessings to each and every one of us during this Christmas season. And much love to my fellow bloggers.