Journey to Baby #2

Two and a half years ago I decided to start a blog about our struggle with infertility. Our name, Meet the Hopefuls came from my infertile play on the movie title Meet the Parents. At the time, we were still working toward receiving an official diagnosis. We were completely naive in our understanding of fertility treatments. We thought a simple pill or better timing would allow us go home and get pregnant the good, old fashioned way. Initially, we told no one about what we were facing. In fact, if you’d have told me two years ago that one day I’d be more openly blogging about our struggles with infertility, I wouldn’t have believed you. Or I’d have thought sometime in the future I was going to completely lose my marbles. Nevertheless, I sit here with a stomach full of butterflies as I type our first non-anonymous blog post about our current steps in our building family journey. In moments where I lack courage, Chris says, “get your butterflies to fly in formation!” Bear with me as I harness these fluttery little suckers…

For our first two cycles of IVF we hid in a shroud of anonymity. Very few people even knew we were infertile. Even fewer knew we were pursuing fertility treatment. Even fewer knew about this blog and those who did were people we would’ve openly shared our feelings with anyway. Writing with anonymity felt safe and comfortable. We never censored ourselves. When people in real life made painful comments, we openly wrote about and processed our feelings in the blog. When we were scared, we our fears poured out of our fingertips and onto the keyboard. When we were devastated, we journaled our sorrows. When we got pregnant with Mason, we hesitantly shared our success. We shared all these emotions without a filter because so few people we knew personally were reading our raw emotions as they transpired.

This time things are a little different. For starters, having Mason changed us in a big way. He helped us heal from some of the heartache infertility put us through, and validated our experiences. Having Mason also made us less shy about talking about infertility. We’ve Β grown so much by opening up about our personal challenges. Now, our family and friends know about our struggle. Most people are hugely supportive of us. After coming out of the infertility closet, we’ve learned how truly “not alone” we were all along. A surprising number of people in our lives have shared their stories of struggle, loss, and infertility with us too. They’ve told us how thankful they are for our transparency. We hope we’re making the topic of infertility less taboo by our willingness to talk about our experiences. On the other hand, some people in our lives seem to be scratching their head as to why we would share something so deeply personal. Everyone is different, and I hope on some level even our critics can respect our decision and pure motives in helping other people who, like we once did, feel lost, hopeless, alone.

While we’ve come a long way since our initial diagnosis, recently we’ve found many of those old infertile feelings and emotions coming back into play. It all started when we decided to start trying for baby #2. To state the obvious, in our case that doesn’t mean bow-chicka-wow-wow. It means email the nurse coordinator and ask her what the first steps are in starting another frozen embryo transfer. I know, super romantic. Shortly after reaching out to the clinic to get the ball rolling, it hit me. Even after having a baby, we are still just as infertile as ever. That’s right about the time I started noticing the pregnant women–they’re everywhere. We are involved in activities with other parents and babies and children. We’re in a sea of fertile people. Mason gives us the appearance that we fit right in, but at the core we never will.

Our journey to baby #2 quickly brought me back to our old stomping ground; the fertility clinic. My nurse scheduled me for a mandatory hysteroscopy, mock embryo transfer, and cultures, prior to starting our next cycle. The procedures went well. The HSC revealed that there are no polyps or fibroids; my uterus looks good after an emergency cesarean childbirth with Mason. The mock transfer gave my RE the information he needs to place our embryo in the best spot possible. Going under anesthesia this time felt different. When I was told to bring my advanced directive, my heart sank as I thought about my miracle son. Even if the chances of problems are slim, I felt guilty for putting myself in harm’s way when I have a child. Yet, if I want to give my child a sibling, it’s the only way.

Prepping for our third FET coming fall 2017!

Being in the clinic again made the memories come flooding back. I vividly remember sitting and waiting for our first appointment–we were interviewing a new clinic after a failed cycle at the clinic from hell. We were so apprehensive, guarded, and afraid. Yet, we moved forward because that’s the only choice you have with infertility. I remember going in for our egg retrieval with a full bladder, as directed, and how badly I had to use the bathroom! The nurse finally caved and let me pee–just a little bit–so I wouldn’t wet the waiting room chairs. I remember Chris getting in his hospital gown for his second MESA/TESE procedure, and the phone call that followed telling us there were millions of sperm that time around. I remember waiting for blood draws and beta tests and ultrasounds. I remember the agonizing wait to see the doctor the day the nurses suspected I’d had a miscarriage, and what a horrible sense of loss and emptiness we’d felt, only to yo-yo back to security when we found out Mason was okay. I found out my symptoms were due to a disease called adenomyosis I didn’t know I’d had all along. I remember the day we were discharged from the fertility clinic, and how exciting and scary it was to be released to a regular OBGYN’s care.

We have been through a lot in that little clinic. It feels strange to be back. in some ways we feel like we beat infertility–we went on to have a successful pregnancy and healthy baby. At the same time, infertility still holds us captive. We haven’t experienced these feelings for a long time, but they’ve been silently in the background all along. I wonder what our future holds. We still have three frozen embryos–two boys and one girl. We just learned this week that our girl is our lowest quality at a 4BB. All along we planned to transfer her next. And when I found out her quality, all the sudden I found myself bracing for the emotional roller coaster ride. Regardless of our feelings in the matter, we’ll stay on this ride until we’re finished with our family building journey.

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: 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.

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.

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!

Staying Strong, Feeling Weak

It’s been eight days since our frozen embryo transfer. I want to know the outcome so badly. I have these eight home pregnancy tests staring me in the face, but I’m too apprehensive to use them. 

Tomorrow I have a huge event at work. I need to be on my A-game. I’m going to be talking to many people throughout the evening. This is tough for me, as I’m an introverted-extrovert (I swear it’s a real thing). Even though I can appear to be doing fine in a social situation, it’s draining for me. I’m sure you can guess, social functions are not my favorite. So I am very fearful that if we get bad news prior to this important day at work, I won’t be able to function well. Chris is super supportive of us waiting to test, and thinks it’s a very good idea. As much as I’m able to logically think through the decision to wait, it’s still eating at me. 

I’m ashamed to say, last night I was a total Debbie downer. I was feeling very negative, like our cycle probably didn’t work. I know we’ve been through a lot of stress, and it’s causing me to second-guess everything. In the back of my head, since I know our sperm is an issue, I’m afraid we’re going to have ongoing challenges. Chris, on the other hand, is feeling very positive. He thinks that this cycle worked. I really hope his gut feeling is right. 

My first beta was today. At our clinic, they send both betas to the lab at the same time. That means we won’t know any results until Friday. It’s only two more days. I know I can make it. I think I can, I think I can. πŸ™‚

  

Transfer

With only one frozen embryo, we were anxious going into yesterday’s FET (frozen embryo transfer). Our minds were racing as we headed downtown to our clinic. Chris was quiet; deep in thought. I fumbled with everything in the car as I tried to keep my mind occupied. I nervously checked the time on my phone every couple of minutes. We were told they’d thaw our little embaby about an hour prior to transfer. Would they call us if it didn’t thaw? As the clock ticked away, I started to feel more at ease as we closed in on our appointment time. Surely they would have called by now. Right? 

When we got inside the office, no one was at the front desk. My anxiety was through the roof. I needed someone to tell me my embryo was alright. Another couple joined us in the waiting room. There was such a stark contrast between us. They were laughing and having a cheerful, playful conversation. Chris and I were hanging onto each other and nervously tapping our feet in silence. Finally, the receptionist came in, lunch in hand, ear buds in ears, iPod playing. “Have you guys signed in?” she asked casually. 

She disappeared inside the office, and we were left alone (with the cheerful couple) for the longest ten minutes of my life. Finally, the door opened. “Heather,” the nurse called, “Come on back.”

She politely led us to a room and asked me if I’d like any Vallium to help me relax prior to the procedure. I assured her I would be fine. She asked me to undress from the waist down and wrap myself in a white bedsheet. The wait continued. It was now twenty minutes past my appointment time, and my bladder, which I was instructed to have kept “full” felt like it was about to burst. 

Finally, Dr. B came in the room. I glanced down at his hands, and saw him carrying this:

  
My heart soared! Our embryo had made it through the thaw. Dr. B said it had a 100% thaw success, meaning every little cell had survived the thaw process. Our little embie is a Grade II, fair quality. Dr. B said these have roughly the same rate of implantation as top quality embryos. 

Dr. B began to prepare me for transfer. He had one nurse pressing the ultrasound nice and hard into my very full bladder. Another nurse stood by and helped Dr. B as he got the catheter into place. They paged Dr. H, the embryologist, and asked him to load our embryo. He came in with our embryo in a syringe. I laughed as I noticed there were six people, including Chris and me, in the room as Dr. H injected the embryo into the catheter. I never thought so many people would be present when I attempted to get pregnant. 

We watched on the screen as our embryo was injected into it’s new home. After the process was complete, the team left me tilted pelvis upwards in the hospital bed for a while. Chris and I enjoyed the moment and sat there staring at the screen. We hope our embaby loves it’s new, warm environment enough to settle in for a little while. πŸ’—

  

FET Here We Come!

 Today we got the good news that our transfer is moving up a couple of days. My lining is already at 10mm, and so our doctor bumped up the date of our FET to eight days from now. 

I’m currently on estrogen pills 3x a day. This stuff is making me feel depressed as heck. Combined with all the crazy plot twists we’ve been through this cycle, I’m having to work extra hard to keep my chin up. 

I start Crinone on Thursday. From the reviews I’ve read I’m in for a real treat (yes, that was complete sarcasm). Hopefully it’ll be easier than I’m anticipating. Any tips from you veterans out there?

We saw one of Chris’s friends yesterday. He and his wife did IVF five times. On their last cycle they only had one embryo, and it stuck. They now have a beautiful nine-year-old daughter. Their story helped so much! It ain’t over till it’s over. Here’s to hoping we have one super-sticky embryo!