IVF #1: Ultrasound #1, Kind Of Scary

I had my first ultrasound early this morning. My doctor actually did end up doing the scan, which was nice. The pregnancy is  definitely in the uterus. We saw a gestational sac and a yolk sac, which is all you can really see at this point. So that’s all good news.

But. And yes, there is a but, ugh. My doctor said the embryo had implanted “off to the left.” Ok, I was thinking this is no big deal. I mean, I’m sure an embryo doesn’t know that it needs to implant dead center, right? Then she went on to say that this meant that she’d “have to watch it” to see how it grows. When I asked her why, she said something about how the uterine wall is thinner there and, depending on how the embryo grows, there’s a chance the pregnancy could break through the uterus. Yeah, that’s not a terrifying image or anything. She didn’t seem too concerned about it, honestly. She said “in most cases, it’s fine.”

I, on the other hand, can’t stop thinking about it. Has anyone ever heard of this? I’m trying not to get too worked up, but I am scared.

I Will Love You

Dear Embryo,

In your first hours of life, as your cells divided in silent mystery, I thought of you. I wondered if you were ok. After all, it’s not often that babies are away from their mothers in that moment of creation. Except for the other embryos around you, you were all alone, in a strange dish, in a strange lab, in an entirely new world. Yet on you went, growing like you didn’t have a single care.

I want to tell you that I think this makes you very brave.

Now that you’re finally here with me, I wonder if you will stay. From that deep place of knowing that goes beyond all anxiety and uncertainty, I believe that you will. But there are no guarantees. All we ever have, with anyone, is this minute. And this minute you are here with me, and I am here with you.

So I will love you. I will shout it from the rooftops, even if two seconds later I fall off the roof. Because that’s just it. To love someone or something without being guaranteed a certain future is brave. It’s maybe the bravest thing a person can do. And I want to be brave for you, just like you were brave for me.

Love,
Mom

IVF #1: Beta Number 3

First of all, thank you so much for all of your comments and well wishes on my last post. You guys really know how to make a girl feel loved. And guess what? I love you right back!

Today’s beta was 2760. The nurse said that was great, but of course I had to look the number up on a beta calculator after the call. Can’t leave well enough alone, obviously. I found out that the doubling time was 47 hours, which means that things have slowed down from my last doubling time of 36 hours. I’m guessing this is fine, as it’s still within the normal range, but I do wonder if it’s normal for it to slow down. Does anyone know?

I have an ultrasound scheduled on Monday. The nurse said they are just looking for a “speck” in my uterus to confirm that the pregnancy is in the right place. My doctor won’t be doing the scan, which I’m pretty bummed about (it also won’t be the Ovarian Overlord, though, phew), but I’m going to request that she does the rest of them from there on out. I’d rather wait a few extra days between scans if that means she will be there to do them.

The anxiety has been creeping in today, big time. I think the first few days I was riding the high of hearing such good news, but now that things are starting to settle I feel uneasy. I’m a little nervous about Monday’s ultrasound, but I’m even more nervous about the one that will be after that if all goes well on Monday — the ultrasound at around six weeks, the one where we may or may or may not see baby’s heartbeat. I feel sick just thinking about it. As many of you unfortunately know, it’s terrifying to be pregnant after a loss.

Mainly, what’s freaking me out is this: I’ve just realized that I am wholeheartedly invested. After letting the news digest that I am finally pregnant, I’ve quickly become attached to this baby. My baby. And to lose everything now…well again, the thought makes me sick to my stomach.

But I am just borrowing trouble at this point. Right now, everything is ok. Everything is ok! And that is what I need to keep telling myself.

One day at a time, you guys. I can do this.

IVF #1: The Results

Um, so. It worked?

IT F*CKING WORKED! I am in complete shock. I really, really can’t believe it.

I am pregnant.

I have to confess that I found this out on Saturday. I felt like such a slinker for not telling you guys right away, but I refrained for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to get a second hCG blood test (also known as a beta) to see if my numbers were rising properly. I felt like I couldn’t share anything unless I had at least a sense of what direction things were going in. The other reason is that this blog is not anonymous, so we had to tell our parents before spilling the beans to, like, everyone. This makes me really nervous, by the way — the fact that that so many of my real-life family and friends will know I’m pregnant after reading this. It’s so early. But I set out to be open about the process from the very beginning and I’m not going to stop now. Plus, I’ve shared all the bad news, so now I might as well share the good, too, right? So my sweet, real-life friends, please keep this quiet for now. Please? We probably won’t officially announce anything until at least 14 weeks. At least.

So far, everything is going well. My beta on Saturday, which was nine days past five-day transfer, was 240. Today’s beta was 960. For anyone who doesn’t know, they like to see the beta numbers double every 48 hours. My numbers had a doubling time of 36 hours, so we are good so far. I have one more blood test on Friday. Eek. This waiting in 1 – 3 day increments to find out how things are going is so dramatic.

I meant to post an update during the two week wait, but I was so convinced this cycle was out that I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t think I could handle getting “false hope” from you guys, only to have the test be negative anyway. I have very specific PMS symptoms. They start on the same day of my cycle and progress in the exact same way each time. I didn’t have these symptoms the other two times I’ve been pregnant. But this time, my PMS symptoms showed up on the exact day they usually do and progressed in the exact same way. I was wholeheartedly convinced this round didn’t work. I mean, I was 100% certain. I even had Tim convinced. I didn’t even test at home before the blood test because I only wanted to get the bad news once. This made for an amusing chat with the nurse. Here’s how the conversation went down on Saturday:

Nurse: Tanya?

Me: Yeah (said in a monotone, put-me-out-of-my-misery voice).

N: It’s positive!

M: SHUT UP!

N: It’s true.

M: SHUT UP!

N: Yes, it’s true!

M: OH MY GOD! I was certain it was negative! I feel like I’m dreaming right now!

N: Well, you better pinch yourself because it’s real.

Thank you so much to everyone for all of your thoughts and prayers throughout this process. I could feel them. I really could. Please keep them coming, as we aren’t out of the woods yet, not even close. I don’t think I could have made it through IVF without your support. Ok, I might have made it, but it would have been sincerely crappy without you there pulling for me.

And to all of you amazing bloggers who are still waiting and still trying, please know that I think about you all of the time. I tell stories about you to my husband. I think of you as my friends, even though I’ve never met you in real life. I am hoping for you with everything I’ve got. I want to give a special shout out to myrainbowdream and g2the4thpower who are still awaiting the results of their recent IVFs, as well as to Mother-Blogger, who just found out she is pregnant through IVF after seven years of trying!

So here I sit. Pregnant. I have a long, long, looooooong way to go. But today I am pregnant.

And today is awesome.

IVF #1: T Is For Transfer Day (And Thanksgiving!)

Here we are, in all our smocked glory.
Here we are, in all our smocked glory, ready to transfer the crap out of some embryos.

Transfer day! We arrived at our clinic this morning at 9 am. I was calm and centered. I felt confident that we would have at least one embryo — hopefully a blastocyst — to transfer. After my last post, I think I just needed to give myself a few hours to feel sad and adjust my expectations before moving forward. So I did that. And then I felt much better.

For those who might not know, a blastocyst is an embryo in a later stage of development, the final stage before implantation. Doctors consider it ideal to transfer embryos at this stage (I think because by then they can distinguish the quality more accurately), although tons of pregnancies have resulted from embryos transferred earlier.

After we arrived at the clinic, I immediately went to acupuncture, which was lovely. I reclined in the dark on a table and talked to my embryos (in my head, of course). I told them how excited I was to meet them and how they were going to love their sister and how they had a whole slew of people rooting for them.

After that, Tim and I went back and changed into our gowns to await the doctor and the embryologist. Thankfully, the doctor this time was not the Ovarian Overlord from my retrieval. I had never met this one before, but he was great — full of jokes and smiles. I liked him immediately. Then the embryologist came in to tell us the fate of our little dudes.

As soon as he saw her, the doctor said, “Hey, how many are we transferring?”

And she said, “Well, now isn’t that the question.”

Hmmmmm….what could that mean?!

Basically, the deal was that there was one top-quality blastocyst totally ready to go. She went through why it looked great, but I don’t remember much except that it was already hatching. Hatching is good, although I’m still not sure why. So woo to that!

Then she said there were two morulas. A morula is an embryo in the developmental stage before it becomes a blastocyst. She said we could transfer the blastocyst and one morula, but she’d recommend transferring just the blastocyst and letting the morulas grow another night.  Because I ovulated 5 days ago, my uterus is ready to accept a 5-day-old embryo, whereas a morula is developmentally only 4 days old. So she thought the morulas would actually have a better chance at surviving outside of my body right now. Does that make sense? I think it makes sense to me, but I’m having trouble explaining it without sounding like a dweeb. She suggested letting the morulas grow one more night and then if they looked good tomorrow, she’d freeze them. She said she guessed the one better-looking morula would probably make it to freeze, but maybe not the other one.

As soon as she explained the situation, I blurted out, “Let’s just transfer the blastocyst!” Tim wasn’t sure, though, so they left us to chat it out for a few minutes. In the end, we decided to give our two morulas the best chance to survive and transfer the one blastocyst. Plus, Tim was freaking out about twins last night, so we took this as a sign that one was the way to go.

At my age (37), the official recommendation is to transfer two, but the embryologist seemed to think that since this one was such nice quality, we’d still have a good chance at success.

Without further ado, here it is, our one “beautiful” (embryologist’s word, not mine) blastocyst:

TTEmbryo
Purty, purty.

The actual transfer part was quick and awesome. We saw our embryo for few seconds on a giant flatscreen TV, getting ready for its big moment. The mood in the room was festive. Everyone was making jokes about the embryo “looking for real estate” and being “ready to move in.” Tim and I were pretty much bursting with excitement. I felt good, guys. Really good. A couple minutes later we watched on the ultrasound screen as the catheter went into my uterus and then the embryo burst out of it. So cool!

Now we are back home and I am chilling with my favorite little lady. Can I just tell you how excited I am for two days of bed rest? The luxury! Plus, I somehow scored this reprieve on Thanksgiving, which means I don’t have to cook or clean or set a single thing. BOOM!

TLBedrest
Me and my girl.

Thanksgiving. On this day of gratitude, I have an abundance of food to eat, a husband to love, a daughter I adore and a fragile, new life inside of me. I truly have so much to be thankful for.

IVF #1: Day 3 Report & Trying To Stay Positive

Ok, so all five embryos are still alive. That’s good.

The two that looked “perfect” yesterday still look good today (although the embryologist definitely did not call them perfect again today).

The other three do not look so hot for various reasons. One is fragmented, one the embryologist said she “doesn’t like the morphology” (whatever that means) and one is just a slow poke—it’s only 4 cells when she’d like to see at least 6 or 8.

She thinks the two good ones will make it to day 5 and the other three might not make it or won’t be good enough to freeze. She says she’s been wrong before, but that’s her best guess based on experience.

I went through lots of emotions during that one phone call. Hooray, they’re still growing! Boo, none to freeze! And finally, holy sh*t, what if NONE make it to day 5 or are good enough quality to transfer? What then?

That sobering thought is what I’m left with right now. I know that’s a huge What If, but the thought is still really freaking me out.

This whole process is one giant mind f*ck, and right now I just feel sad. I know I should be happy that we still have two good-looking embryos—and I am—but the uncertainty is winning out. Hopefully those two can stay strong. Please stay strong, little dudes!

If anyone has some good juju laying around that they could pass my way, I could really use it. Because right now my stores are depleted.

IVF #1: Fertilization Report

Alrighty, the numbers are in. Out of 10 eggs collected:

Two were immature.

Two fertilized abnormally (like, two sperm jammed in one egg or something like that).

Six fertilized normally.

So out of the mature eggs that they collected, 75% of them fertilized normally. I really don’t think I can complain about that. Do I wish there were more? Sure. But I am very happy we still have six in the running.

The embryologist said that so far the six all look good. She said tomorrow she’ll be looking to see if they’ve cleaved, and she wants to see them either two cells or four cells. Once she sees the state of them in the morning, they’ll make the decision on whether to go for a day three or day five transfer. I’m really, really hoping we can do a day five transfer, as I’ve heard the results are better that way.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling low since the egg retrieval yesterday. I do think a huge part of it is a letdown after a giant buildup. Before, at least I was doing something. I was injecting myself. I was getting acupuncture. I was eating healthy.  But now? There’s not a thing I can do. It’s completely out of my hands. I just have to remind myself to keep surrendering.

I’ve been stress eating to compensate for my lack of control and it’s been awesome. I ate a cupcake and cookie from favorite gluten free bakery yesterday, I housed a bag of BBQ chips and today I went to the movies and ate a giant tub of popcorn. I didn’t have much of an appetite during stims, but I think it’s back now, yay!

So now, I wait. Oh, and just for fun, while I’m waiting, I’m going to get another root canal (I wish that were a joke, but it’s not), If you have thoughts or prayers to spare, please pass some along to my six little embryos. I really appreciate everyone’s support so far — way, way more than I could ever adequately express.

I hope my embryos are fighters. I hope they’re strong. And I hope they know that I already love them.

IVF #1: Egg Retrieval

This morning started off nice and early. I woke up at 3 a.m., two hours before my alarm was set to go off. I was way too excited to go back to sleep, so I checked my email and was surprised to see a “Thinking about you tomorrow!” note from my doctor. I heart her.

The actual procedure was uneventful. We got there around 6:45 and they got me settled in pretty quickly. The doctor stopped by to see if I had any questions. Naturally, it was the dreaded doc from last Monday’s ultrasound. Womp-womp.

I wasn’t really nervous until I actually got to the OR and then I just started to feel awkward. It was freezing. I had to put my feet in the largest stirrups known to man. The whole time the nurse and the anesthesiologist were getting me ready, the doctor was standing near the wall, facing me with his arms crossed like some sort of overlord. It was kind of creepy. It’s all good, though, as I was probably only in there for five minutes before I passed the hell out.

I woke up sitting in a recliner in the recovery area. One of the nurses told me I was done and I immediately asked, “Was I talking?” That is my greatest fear with anesthesia. The last time I went under, about a year ago, a nurse told me I woke up chatting and was going on for about 15 minutes before I was aware of it. She never told me what I said in those 15 minutes, but it still makes me nervous thinking about it. Anyway, the nurses today said I wasn’t jabbering when I woke up, but who knows if that’s true!

They retrieved 10 eggs. I know this is a decent number, but I have to admit I was still a little bummed that out of 16 follicles they only got 10. I don’t know if it was the anesthesia wearing off, the let-down after the huge build-up to retrieval or the fact that I’d been up since 3 a.m., but I started crying as soon as I left the surgery center. I’m really nervous about fertilization, as we are doing traditional IVF and not ICSI. For those who don’t know, ICSI is a technique where they inject an individual sperm into each egg to aid fertilization. In traditional IVF, they basically throw the sperm and the eggs in a petri dish and let them go to town. The nurse today told me that there is typically a 50% fertilization rate. And then I’ve heard that, after fertilization, roughly half the embryos make it to day 5. So if all of those numbers are true, we’re looking at roughly 2.5 embryos remaining (if everything goes smoothly, of course). I know all it takes is one, but I would love the luxury of ending up with one or two to freeze. I guess we’ll see what happens. Unfortunately, my crystal ball is broken at the moment. I’m just praying that those 10 eggs are mature and of good quality!

I think that’s the worst part about this whole process — the unknown. Will the embryos fertilize? Who knows! Will they continue to grow? Who knows! Will they implant and lead to a successful pregnancy? Well, ain’t that the biggest unknown of all.

All in all, the morning went smoothly. For some reason, I still have yet to attempt a nap, so I think I’ll do that now. I’ll be sure to update with the fertilization report tomorrow!

 

IVF #1: Trigger Time!

Woop-woop! It’s trigger time, y’all! The “trigger shot,” typically administered 36 hours before egg retrieval, ensures that ovulation is perfectly timed.

I gave myself that shot tonight at 7:30. Which means…we are almost ready to go!

Holy crap. I’m so excited,

Egg retrieval is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post. All of your stories and words of support made me feel so much better. And guess what? You were right! At my ultrasound this morning I had 16 follicles! No idea how many will be mature as some of them were only around 12mm, but wow! You can all say “I told you so” now. And I shall hereafter listen to everything you say without question, oh Wise Ones.

With that, I’m heading off to dreamland. ‘Til Saturday, my friends!

IVF #1: Peace Be With Me

Just a quick update to let you all know that things are going smoothly. I went to my ultrasound yesterday and the doctor said that “everything looks lovely.” I had a good number of follicles growing, and the mysterious cyst/larger follicle had only grown about a millimeter. Last night, I took the same dose of my meds as usual, but tonight I’ll be upping my Menopur dose and adding in Ganirelix. Real-life peeps: Ganirelix is used to ensure that I don’t ovulate before the egg retrieval. Aren’t the med names so futuristic? I can barely spell them. In fact, I probably did spell at least one incorrectly.

My abdomen is starting to bruise from the injections so that makes for some slightly uncomfortable pants-wearing. I’ve switched to leggings for the foreseeable future. I’m still having mild headaches, but the moodiness has subsided for now. A weird thing I didn’t expect is that I think the drugs are messing with my appetite—as in, I don’t really have one right now. I’m not complaining, I just assumed my appetite would be raging since weight gain during IVF seems universal. But I guess that weight gain is probably more due to fluid retention and carrying around, like, twenty monster follicles in your ovaries rather than inhaling a bunch of food.

At brunch this morning a friend asked me if I was feeling positive about the outcome of this cycle. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question. I’m not feeling negative per se, but I certainly don’t have a crazy gut feeling that this cycle will work. I’m more or less just trying to get through each injection, each ultrasound and each phone call from the nurse without getting too far ahead of myself. On the one hand, there’s no reason why it couldn’t work. On the other hand, it’s near impossible for me to actually imagine getting a positive pregnancy test since it’s been so long since I’ve seen one.

Should I be more positive? Maybe. But I’m trying to be gentle with myself and just feel how I feel.

I set an intention at the beginning of this process that I was going to let go and surrender, and shockingly I have more or less done that. That’s not to say there haven’t been minor setbacks, but so far, so good. If I can keep this up through the end of the cycle I will be thrilled.

I feel calm. I am at peace. For now, that is enough.