Hanging in there

I’ll be seven weeks tomorrow. I’ve been spotting for a week and a half. It’s pretty light and I’m not cramping. I’m starting to feel like I’m driving my doctor’s office crazy with the constant emails and questions. 

At first, they were assuring me that spotting is normal and to just keep my blood pressure down and do a modified bedrest. I bugged them again today, and they said to stay on complete bedrest until the spotting stops. They are also switching me from lozenges to progesterone in oil injections daily. I’ll keep doing the Endometrin suppositories, but now only twice a day. Of course, I’ll continue the Estrogen injections every three days. I’m a little bummed that they’re changing my medication, because I just got it refilled and I spent over $700 on stuff I won’t be using now. However, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep our baby safe. There’s no price on that. 

My next ultrasound is a week from today. I am literally counting the days. It cannot get here fast enough. Not knowing if he’s okay is pretty darn hard. I’m just going to assume he is doing great in order to keep myself sane. 

A Little Scare

I haven’t really felt any symptoms of pregnancy since Friday. This is weird because I’d been consistently nauseated prior to Saturday. On Sunday, I was using the restroom and noticed a pinkish tinge on the toilet paper after going potty. Of course, I freaked out and called Chris in to have a look (I’m aware of how weird this is, don’t worry). 

For the next couple of hours, I probably went to the bathroom 10 times to check and make sure everything was okay. It never got super dark, but was noticibly there for most of the afternoon. I emailed our clinic and asked them if there was anything I could do. Since it was Sunday, obviously no one responded. 

Then I started googling my symptoms. Let’s just be clear–this is NEVER a good idea. I texted my sister-in-law, Andrea, and my friend Krystal looking for reassurance, but I’d already started to spin out. My mind can seriously be my worst enemy. I’ve been working on my anxiety for the past couple of years, but I’m realizing I’m still a serious worry wart. When I get a bad idea planted in my mind it sits there spinning on repeat at all hours of the day. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking the worst. I woke Chris up at about 3 AM to talk about it, that’s how anxious I had gotten.

Chris reorganized his whole day today (Monday) so that we could go into the clinic and figure things out. My ultrasound was originally scheduled for Tuesday, so we figured moving it up a day for peace of mind was probably a good idea. 

It turned out to be the best thing possible that we went in today. For starters, Casper is alive and kicking. Praise the Lord! We got to see his heartbeat for a few seconds on the screen, which was miraculous beyond words. Our doctor is super conservative, and didn’t want the ultrasound in there for too long, since it’s still so early. It was such a joy to see him for even just a few seconds.  

Casper is the size of an orange seed!

 
Doc said I have a little bit of fluid in my uterus, but it’s not a major concern. However, he said any hint of blood is the body’s way of telling us we need to chill out and take it easy. He said the next two weeks are critical for Casper’s development, and we need my body to be as relaxed and low stress as possible. So, he ordered that I take a two week leave from work.

At first, this really freaked me out. I’ve never talked about my profession on my blog, but I’m a teacher and I seriously love my job. I’m super attached to my students, and the idea of being away from them for two weeks was a little more than I could handle at first. I called my boss and explained that I was dealing with a physical challenge, and I’d need to be away. She was absolutely great about it. I spent the afternoon getting together my sub plans for the next week, and reminding myself my students will be just fine without me for a bit. 

So here’s to two weeks of rest, relaxation, and a full-term, healthy pregnancy. 

IVF #2: Beta #2

We spoke with our clinic yesterday, and they informed us that my hCG levels are rising appropriately! Yay!!! On Friday my hCG was at 7,008. That was a huge relief to hear! It means little Casper appears to be growing at a healthy, normal rate. They also said that my progesterone and estrogen levels are within normal range, so I should continue taking my medication as prescribed. 

The progesterone has made me feel so incredibly backed up. My stomach isn’t the happiest right now. All day I’ve been drinking lots of water and eating high fiber foods in an effort to counteract what’s going on. Hopefully it’ll ease up soon. 

My morning sickness seems to be coming and going. I read an article today that said morning sickness symptoms include lightheadedness, and exhaustion. I’ve definitely been feeling those. I’ve only thrown up about three times since finding out that we were pregnant, but I feel nauseated at least once a day. It may sound weird, but that’s an incredibly comforting symptom to feel. I actually feel more at ease when I’m nauseous and throwing up than I do when I feel totally fine!

We get to see baby Casper via ultrasound on Tuesday. I will only be five weeks and six days at that point, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up that we’ll see much. It’s still really exciting to think that in a couple of days we will be able to see our baby’s growth and progress!

Worry During Early Pregnancy: The Struggle is Real

During the course of our two IVF treatments, I always thought once we got that BFP my fears would subside, and I’d be able to relax a little more. I imagined myself relishing in the good news, and feeling more at ease than ever. Oh, how I wish this were true. 

I’m five weeks pregnant today, and feel like I’ve turned into a full-time hypochondriac. I’m over analyzing every symptom, and even wondering if it’s been too long between symptoms. Like why don’t I feel morning sickness today when I felt it two days ago? And how come I still feel that cramping in my uterus? Do I feel sick enough? Tired enough? Pregnant enough? It’s driving me crazy(ier). 

I’m already so attached to the idea of baby Casper. I’ve been thinking about him nonstop since we got confirmation that I was pregnant. Even the fact that we know he’s a boy makes it more real. I’ve pictured myself rocking, swaddling, and cuddling my son. I’ve thought about all the things he and Chris are going to do together. I’ve looked at baby pictures of my husband and wondered if Casper will look like him. I have his nursery completely planned out. I’ve thought about him playing with his cousins, and seeing them become best buddies. If I suddenly found out that was all going to be taken away, I don’t know how I could recover. 

The fact is, after a positive pregnancy result, us IVFers have so much riding on the line. I keep thinking about how if, heaven forbid, I have a miscarriage, it’s not like I can just “start trying” and get pregnant again on my own. This process is time consuming, and emotionally, physically, and financially draining. And we’d have to start from scratch with another FET. Ugh. The thought of it makes me sick to my stomach (or is that the nausea again)?

In order to allay the fear, and ease the anxiety, I’ve been working hard to combat it. For starters, I’ve pinned about 1,001 different affirmations for pregnancy on one of my secret Pinterest boards. Some of my favorites come from this website. Additionally, I downloaded an album on iTunes by Bree Taylor Molyneaux, and have been listening to a track on repeat called “Affirmations for Early Pregnancy.” It does seem to be helping, and sinking in a bit. I’m also working on making a vision/dream board for my pregnancy. It’s a total work in progress, but the goal is for me to think positively about my pregnancy, and visualize what a healthy, happy pregnancy would be for me. 

When all else fails, I just remind myself of the facts. My baby is chromosomally normal. I’m healthy. I have the ability to carry this baby to term. 

I keep hoping that confirmation of hCG levels rising, which we should have on Friday, will help to further diminish my fears. I’m probably going to be so nervous on Friday until we get that phone call. 

Come on, Casper. We believe in you, and we love you. πŸ’™

IVF #2: Beta #1 Results

I’ve been peeing on sticks for the past few days like it’s my job. Today we finally got to hear it from the pros…

We are pregnant!

Somebody please pinch me! I cannot believe it. 

Our beta came back at 573. They’ll test me again in exactly a week to see if the numbers are doubling every 48 hours like they should. 

In the movie Casper, Casper goes into the Lazarus to bring himself back to life, but the villains steal the special solution and he turns out looking kind of like a fried egg. Well, to me, that’s what our embaby looked like on the day of transfer. So, that’s what we’ll call our little sticky bean on the blog, “Casper.” 

Casper and Baby Hopeful

He sure is cute. We can’t wait to meet him in nine months. πŸ’™

IVF #2: 5dpt Update

It’s only been five days since transfer, but it feels like it’s been so much longer! The two-week-wait is taking its jolly, sweet time. 

I don’t have tons to report other than (gasp) gas. It’s not lady-like, but I’m feeling pretty gassy, and have been ever since the first day after transfer. Every now and then, I’ll catch a wave of nausea, but I feel like it’s all stemming from my overly active digestive system. 

I had pain in the right side of my uterus yesterday, and the day before. Although, I had that in my failed IVF cycle too. I have seen zero signs of implantation bleeding, but for once, I’d really like to see just a tinge of blood! 

Last night I had a dream that I took a home pregnancy test and it was negative. I woke up feeling pretty bummed about that. Hopefully that’s just my fears coming through in my dreams, and it doesn’t mean anything. 

My close friends have been really sweet and checking in on me frequently. My good buddy brought me fonuts at work (they are delicious baked donuts, not fried. You’ve gotta try them) and a sweet card. I’m lucky to have such loving friends. 

Thanks, K! This was the perfect message for me. πŸ’—


  

I went to therapy this week because I was feeling pretty blue. We talked about how difficult it is to go through this process again. The most frustrating part for me is the utter lack of control we have over the outcome. Chris and I are hard workers, and if we had any ability to influence the cycle, you bet we’d be doing whatever we could. It’s hard to feel so powerless. 

We are doing our best to stay positive, and when we start to doubt, or feel down, we just remind ourselves of the facts: our embryo is healthy, and good quality. My uterus looks great. Our transfer went beautifully. We have reasons to be hopeful, and we should keep our heads held high. 

Beta is next Friday, October 2nd. We’ll post the results here once we’ve had time together process the news. Thanks for all the good thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes we’ve received from you all. We feel such a strong support from this community. We’re sending all our warmth and love right back at all of you.  

 

IVF #2: FET Day!

Chris and I slept poorly last night thinking about our frozen embryo transfer today. We wake up bleary-eyed at the indecent five o’clock hour (good practice for kids right?) and make our way to the reproductive center. Traffic is near gridlock, so we come skidding into the parking lot about five minutes late. We sign in at 7:50, and wait for them to call us back for our 8:30 transfer.

Ok, so I know we are a little late, but they are running much later than us. Normally, I wouldn’t mind so much. However, with an embryo transfer, they require you to come with a full bladder. I’m starting to think my bladder is weak sauce because at about 8:45 (still no call back) I start thinking I’m going to piss myself in the swanky lobby chairs. Chris starts to see that panicked look in my eyes, and says he’s going to go find a nurse. They tell me it’ll be at least another 30 minutes, so they ask me to “partly” empty my bladder. I probably looked at the nurse with that same sideways expression my dogs give me when they hear a high-pitched noise. So she explains I should start to pee, count to ten, and shut it down. After that, I feel much better, and we go back to the swanky chairs to wait some more.

A nurse calls us back, asks us to sign the waivers, and then tells me I should undress from the waist-down and get under a sheet on the hospital bed. They provided me with some sexy rubber-grip hospital socks, but I brought some of my own.

 

My hopeful socks!

 
The nurse walks in and tells me she’s going to look at my bladder. She squirts the clear ultrasound goo on my lower stomach region, and begins pressing like hell with the ultrasound into my oh-still-very-full bladder. She tells me how perfect the fullness is (uh, yeah lady, I can feel that it’s full). Meanwhile, our doctor walks in, greets us, tilts the hospital bed so my feet are in the air, goes to the end of the bed and flips my sheet back. I know they are used to seeing the goods, but I was so bashful lying there with my cookie hanging out. He proceeds to spread my legs, grab a speculum, and do the regular gyno routine, and then insert the catheter through my cervix.

The nurse called the embryologist, and she loaded our chosen embryo into a syringe. We decided to go with our top rated male. The moments while we waited for her to come in were probably the most awkward since no one in the room really had a job to do, and I was lying there feeling pretty exposed. Soon enough our embryologist came in, and the injected our little boy through the catheter and into my uterus.

Not the clearest pic, but here is our embaby in his new home.

Our embryo is a handsome little guy by IVF standards. He’s rated a 6AA on the Gardner Blastocyst Grading Scale, which I was really pleased to learn is the best rating an embryo can receive. The 6 means he’s a hatched blastocyst. The first “A” means his inner cells are tightly packed (this part becomes the fetus), and the second “A” means his TE cells are plentiful and form a cohesive layer (this part becomes the placenta). This is light years better than our only blastocyst in our first failed IVF cycle. We are thrilled.

Baby Hopeful’s first picture–you can see clearly that he’s hatched from his shell. πŸ™‚

I feel like a drug addict, but we added ANOTHER pill today. In addition to my estrogen shots and progesterone lozenges and suppositories, now I’m taking methylprednisone. This is supposed to help prevent my body from rejecting the embryo so it can attach.

All in all, good news to report today. Our doctor said my endometrium looked great, the transfer was flawless, and we have a perfect embryo. He said it’s all up to my body at this point. So come on, body, let’s get pregnant!

 

IVF #2: Progesterone is not my friend

 

Putrid grape-flavored lozenge

 
I’m just going to start off by saying, “YUCK.”

Today I had to ingest my first progesterone lozenges and they are beyond nasty. You know the grape-flavored medicine that everyone hates? This is so much more disgusting than that. For starters it’s a lozenge, so it lasts for what feels like an e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y. I have to take them underneath my tongue, and hold them there until they are completely dissolved. No joke, the dissolving process takes about 15 minutes. As it dissolves, the lozenge makes your mouth feel simultaneously numb and waxy. The first one I took this morning almost made me puke. I think partly that’s because I did it on an empty stomach. I don’t really have a choice, though. I have to take them about eight hours apart because I’m doing it three times a day. So this means bright and early when I wake up, midday, and before bed. Even after transfer, I get to do this until my 10th week of pregnancy. I’m already sick of it. Honestly though, I will do anything to become a mom. So if it means ingesting repulsive grape-flavored medicine, I’ll do it 100 years if necessary. If given the choice, I would much rather do progesterone in oil. I’m already doing estrogen in oil, so what’s another shot?!

Last cycle with a different doctor, I did Crinone suppositories for my progesterone and they were icky! TMI Alert: if you haven’t experienced the joy of  Crinone, let me just tell you what you’re missing. They contain a bio adhesive that makes them literally get stuck in your vag for as long as possible. I used to pass gigantic clots of glue every day. My husband didn’t even want to touch me while I was taking the stuff. And I don’t blame him! To call them gross is quite an understatement.  

 

Endometrin tablet and applicator

 
This time I’m taking Endometrin three times a day. I’ve only taken two doses, but so far I like them a lot more than the Crinone. The only downside I’ve noticed so far, is that they’re making me feel a little bit irritated down there. They are a pill instead of a gel, and you insert them with an applicator. They dissolve up there, and then they kind of slowly leak out throughout the day. Pantiliners are a must-have on this stuff. 

So far I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting headaches right after my dosages of the lozenges and the Endometrin. I feel little bit detached from my body after I take them for about an hour or two. I hope this is something I can adjust to, or that will eventually start to go away on its own, because it’s a distraction in the middle of my day. The headaches are not debilitating, so I’ll be able to manage for awhile. What’s 11ish weeks when you get a lifetime with your kid, right!? πŸ‘ΆπŸΌ

IVF #2: Decision Day

  
Even through transfer is still a week away, today we had to give our embryo transfer decision to our clinic. According the the results of our PGS, we have four healthy embryos: three boys, and a girl. We’ve been going back and forth on our decision for transfer, but after a lengthy discussion with our RE, we’ve finally made up our minds. 

Chris asked our RE about transferring twins. Our RE told us a story about some friends of his who needed IVF in order to conceive a child. Naturally, they turned to their buddy, our doctor, for help. They ended up transferring two embryos, and both stuck. The twins were born early, as most are. Unfortunately, one of the twins had cerebral palsy as a result of their prematurity. Dr. W said each week their families get together for sporting events, and each week he is reminded of why it is best to transfer only one embryo. It was a pretty powerful story for Chris and me to hear, and ultimately led us to the decision to transfer only one embryo. 

Then came the gender decision. At this point, I’ve never successfully been pregnant. Although our infertility is male factor, my ability to carry a child is still uncertain, but of course we’re hoping for the best. Since we have three boy embryos, we feel like it’s a safer choice to transfer a boy. We want to preserve the health of our little girl, and make sure everything is in working order with my body before we try to transfer her. 

I told Chris if this cycle results in a negative pregnancy test, we’ll reopen the discussion of how many embryos to transfer next time. I’d likely push for two, if this were the case. Let’s hope it’s not, and everything goes smoothly. 

Next Monday, September 21st is our transfer. I’ll be on bed rest for two days, so I’ve ordered some great Netflix movies to keep me busy. I’m definitely going to do a home pregnancy test after about six days, because I can’t wait (obediently) until beta again this time around. Just thinking about the results makes my stomach flip. 

In about nine months, we hope to welcome a little boy into our family. πŸ’™

IVF #2: Prepping for Transfer (aka Shots in the Butt)

Chris is now a pseudo-nurse. Tonight will be his third time administering a shot of Delestrogen into the muscle of my upper buttocks. I knighted him as shot-giver since that’s a pretty tough area to inject on yourself. I was going to try it, because I’d way rather give myself my own injections, but the angle is a little tricky. 

The first time, it was a super smooth process. I didn’t even really feel it, and I was surprised when Chris told me it was over. The only downside is it bled quite a bit. I couldn’t get the injection site to stop bleeding for about 15-20 minutes. Finally, after lots of pressure, it quit. The second injection stung so badly–it felt like a hot poker into one of my nerves. The upside was there was no blood at all. Go figure. 

I’ve been incredibly emotional lately. I feel so sad and depressed. So many things have set it off. First, I found out Chris’s cousin is having a baby girl. She decided to announce the gender to everyone in the family except for us. She told Chris’s brother she didn’t tell us “for obvious reasons” (I’m guessing our infertility). Still, it sucked to find out the news from someone else in the family. Does she really think avoiding us is going to make it easier? We’re going to find out either way! I felt like an infertile outcast, not to mention hurt and excluded. Granted, I understand she’s in a lose-lose situation. It’s not easy to tell people news that you know is going to be tough for them. I don’t really know how to reconcile this, other than just chalking it up to the fact that people really don’t know how to act when you’re infertile. 

As I was driving to work this morning, I was passing a semi filled with hogs. Every time the semi driver would get on the brakes in traffic, the hogs would begin to squeal. This made me feel so emotional I wanted to just start bawling. I am definitely an animal lover, and I know this would’ve affected me even without the shots of estrogen in my system. However, I feel like the hormones made it a lot worse.

This weekend I went to another Resolve meeting. This one was only women, and it was interesting to hear the different perspectives of the women there. The girl next to me shared that the synthetic hormones make her incredibly depressed. I totally related and connected to that sentiment. Although the stim phase never seems to affect me, the shots of estrogen, which I’ve never had in the past, seem to be doing a number on me emotionally. I’m ready for this process to be over. 

I am beyond nervous about transfer. I am so terrified of getting another negative beta. I can’t even describe how traumatizing that would be. I am so afraid that this is going to destroy me emotionally if it doesn’t work out. The fear is almost paralyzing. It’s hard to be positive, because there’s so much riding on these results. I don’t know what to do. Every day I worry about the success or failure of our transfer. It’s a huge weight on my shoulders. 

After doing lots of research, and speaking with my OB/GYN, I am definitely leaning towards transferring two embryos, while Chris is leaning towards transferring one. We intend to talk to our RE in further detail next time we see him. Even though we aren’t on the same page with our desires for transfer, Chris and I are getting along well. We are definitely able to talk about it without any frustration or argument at this point.

Total random sidenote: I don’t know what to call this transfer. It’s technically our second frozen embryo transfer, but it’s also our second complete IVF cycle. So do we call it IVF #2: FET #1 or is it IVF #2: FET #2? 

Either way, I hope it’s our last!