First of all, the trip went really smoothly! We didn’t have any problems, whatsoever. I don’t know why I was worried about my car or anything else. It was a looooong drive though, and I’m still exhausted. It was completely and totally worth it!!!
I wish we had more time to sight-see and take more photos, but we were tired and focusing more on the business at hand. This is what we saw as we entered Chicago on the expressway. The huge building you see there on the left, is the tallest building in the United States (The Willis Tower, formerly The Sears Tower). Crappy cell phone camera LOL.
My friend, Lara from Twoweekwait, recommended an ahhhmazing pizza place! We had authentic, Chicago-style, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s. I’ve never had anything like it! We had to eat it with a knife and fork! It was delicious! I want more!!
We stayed in a hotel about 2 miles from Dr. Kwak-Kim’s office. I didn’t even have to wait – they brought me right in and we got down to business. They already had my paperwork and records. First, I had 22 vials of blood drawn – yikes! The lady drawing my blood was really good though. She distracted me and made pleasant conversation the whole time. I didn’t even realize she was taking that much blood until she was done, and I saw all the vials beside me! Blood draws don’t bother me at all, but that’s enough to make anyone a little woozy!
Next, they brought me into an ultrasound room with a skilled technician. Their ultrasound machine is like nothing I’ve ever seen before though. It’s super high-tech. I was told to drink at least 32 oz of water before the appointment, and I wasn’t sure why….until the technician did an external ultrasound – on my actual belly! The full bladder pushed my uterus up into view. The tech explained to me that they can visualize the structure of the uterus from the outside, sometimes seeing things that they would miss with the internal (vaginal) ultrasound. I laid back and watched the whole thing on a big screen on the wall across from me.
Then the tech had me empty my bladder to do the vaginal ultrasound. I swear, the whole ultrasound process took about an hour! She took so many measurements and pictures, explained things to me, looked at every nook & cranny, and printed everything off. This machine could also measure blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, which was really neat to see. The screen was so clear, and I could hear the sound of my blood flow. I was uncomfortable, having to be “wanded” for that long, however it was so cool that I didn’t mind.
She saw that I have 5 follicles – on a natural cycle!! Holy crap! It’s some kind of “kick-back affect” from taking fertility drugs last cycle. She saw EWCM and said my lining was thick and “fuzzy” (good). The 2 bigger follicles on my left don’t seem to have a lot of blood flow around them, so it’s unclear if I will ovulate or not. I do have good blood flow to my ovaries and tubes, but I have VERY poor blood flow to my uterus. It also looks like my Endometriosis is back already (surgery was almost 5-6 months ago). My left ovary seems to be fused to my uterus, but of course they can’t say for sure. This could potentially be a problem. It might be better if I ovulate from my right side – it would function better. So that kinda sucks.
Next, I went in another exam room and spoke about my history with the Nurse Practitioner – both health history and infertility history. It is kind of difficult to explain all the treatment cycles, testing, diagnoses, and different doctors I’ve met with. I believe we got it all covered though. She performed a breast exam, too. This whole visit was extremely thorough – more thorough than I would expect.
Finally, I met Dr. Kwak-Kim. She is an older, small asian woman with a very friendly demeanor. I liked her right away. I can tell she’s extremely intelligent, as well as very caring and patient. She didn’t sugar-coat things, but she didn’t make me feel hopeless. In fact, she had some positive things to say. I really appreciate that she took the time to explain everything to me in great detail. She even drew pictures and wrote it out, so that I could fully understand it.
Dr. K’s opinion on my “poor egg quality”/high FSH/low AMH: My FSH is not even that high. I should have never been diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure – at least not yet. Low AMH is not that serious, especially considering the fact that I still ovulate and have been able to conceive many times. Most of her patients have low AMH. She said if she told everyone with low AMH to use an egg donor, there would be no babies. 🙂
Dr. K’s opinion on my NK Cells: Not that big of a deal. Simply treat with Prednisone, IV intralipids, and Lovenox.
Dr. K’s opinion on the DQ Alpha + HLA match (This was the deal-breaker of me achieving pregnancy, per Dr. Sher who recommended surrogacy): There is not enough evidence to show that I cannot carry a baby. She should know because she did much of the research about this subject. There is evidence to show that there’s an increased risk of miscarriage, but it’s NOT the be-all, end-all. In her research, she tested the “products of conception” from many miscarriages and found an increased number of DQ Alpha and HLA matches, however it does not occur in all cases.
Dr. K’s opinion on my many chemical pregnancies: It does appear that I am achieving pregnancy. If my egg quality was so poor, the egg wouldn’t fertilize so often. Some chemical pregnancies could have been a poor egg or chromosome issue, but only a small percent. It looks like I have maintained some level of fertility, even with my many issues – this is a good thing. The pregnancy loss is most likely an immune response – my body is destroying the embryo shortly after implantation. Another HUGE factor is the lack of blood supply to my uterus!! I never knew of that problem before, since we don’t have ultrasound machines like that. These issues are fixable though! The drugs I mentioned above, for NK Cells, would treat the immune response. Lovenox would improve my circulation to my uterus – and I would need to start it at the beginning of my cycle. I’ve argued with my doctors for awhile about NOT waiting to start the Lovenox until the pregnancy is confirmed, because that is obviously TOO LATE! I also need to do other things to increase circulation to my uterus, naturally.
To sum it up, there’s a chance I can have a baby with MY egg, my husband’s sperm, in MY uterus! There may still be some trial and error & miscarriages/chemicals, but there is hope. Even if it’s a little bit, it’s there. She said with everything she sees right now – all my previous testing, etc – that there’s no reason to think we cannot achieve pregnancy. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s possible. She is looking at the ENTIRE picture – not just immune stuff and not just my low egg reserve. Most of my doctors seem to focus in on one of those issues. She is checking EVERYTHING. We still have to go over the results of the testing she did, just to make sure there’s not something ELSE seriously wrong. I have a follow up phone consult on 5/24/12 to get those results and come up with a treatment plan. I feel optimistic! 😀
EEK! I could write even more, but that’s a novel already LOL. I gotta get to work now. 🙂