Last weekend we moved out of our condo into our new 4br house. After closing on Friday morning there was the big push to be completely out of the condo by Sunday. I rarely sat down since the packing and cleaning seemed endless and as a result my feet swelled up and I lost sight of my ankles by Sunday night. I also had to keep moving as when I would sit, I would literally get stuck in position I was so stiff. Damn I feel old and out of shape. I tried not to lift heavy things and to stay really hydrated as things had to get done. It was crunch time. I haven’t unpacked a thing and don’t plan to until this weekend as I expended every last bit of energy. Making it through the work day is all I can do at this point.
The moving process helped keep my mind off of waiting for the non invasive prenatal cell free DNA testing (NIPT) results to come back. I was starting to regret doing it and thinking I had somehow signed myself up for an amniocentesis if the results came back with high risk or some such. Just another thing to drive myself crazy over. Since something was wrong with my reproductive capabilities, obviously something will be wrong with the pregnancy. It’s amazing the freak outs and anxiety that I experience. I’m not like this in any other area of my life. I’ve also become somewhat superstitious ~ It’s like I can’t have so many things going this fantastic in my life, when will the other shoe drop?
The call with the NIPT results came yesterday, DNA is normal and….
I had a feeling it was a girl as I had a couple of dreams that featured a girl baby but I didn’t place much stock in it. BG and I are super stoked. He asked if we could tell people now and shit officially got real. Other people’s excitement is definitely contagious and I walked around with a smile all day. Although if my SIL keeps texting me about the “little princess”, I might just vomit.
I am really, really trying to hold onto the excitement and good feelings as I will be doing the NT scan next Friday. A week and a half of wondering is a piece of cake, right? ~ better than the length of the next wait after which will probably be a month.
I recently read this q&a from the Ask Polly column and I found myself thinking about the two and a half years leading up to now. At first I wasn’t overly offended by ttclurker’s question because there have been points in this process I have felt crazy, obsessive, and pathetic. I’m grateful my compulsive behavior can only be seen by my husband and my search history and that I only broke down twice (while drunk) ~ once with an acquaintance, once with my best friend.
Could I really blame this outsider who is riding the peripheral for her job and has no personal connection or experience? Well, maybe just a smidgen. That’s why the response from the columnist is just brilliant and spot on since all I could do was shake my fist and curse.
As the columnist points out you have to have a dog in the fight, so to speak, to have any true understanding. In my case I learned I had trouble conceiving, then that I was infertile, and then that I had diminished ovarian reserve. Compared to some my struggle has been short but for me in that short time, I fell down the rabbit hole at times and immersed myself in everything I could read or watch about infertility. I remember at first when I had only been tracking my cycles for about six months that reading people’s personal experiences did in fact scare me and I wondered if I would be able to handle IVF if it went that route, or what my limits would be. Sometimes reading medical journals was worse. Were these cautionary tales or inspiration? For me, the longer I found myself struggling to conceive the more inspiration and encouragement I felt and that’s why the infertility community is and has been so essential.
I fell into this strange head-space where fear of miscarriage immobilized my thoughts. Then I would feel guilty for even thinking about it and shouldn’t I be feeling so lucky and blessed? IVF with a fresh transfer worked the first time around. I now worried it had been too easy…sure not as easy as just having sex with my husband, but a straightforward process nonetheless. I felt bad that I’ve been upset that I gained weight during stims and am now starting out pregnancy 10 pounds heavier. I’m not as unhappy about the weight gain anymore since it seems it happens to a lot of other women and it’s just silly to be upset about it when really who cares.
My progress so far:
5 week ultrasound ~ Sac is visualized and located in the uterus. While this comforts me that the pregnancy is not ectopic afterwards I’m concerned the yolk sac wasn’t seen when the HCG levels were high enough. Spend the rest of the week convinced I’m going to see an empty gestational sac at the next appointment.
6 week ultrasound ~ It takes the doctor a few seconds (where time freezes as you wait, holding your breath) and then there’s the little blob with the flickering heartbeat. I think I went into a little bit of shock. I thought I would cry when I saw it, heck I’ve cried for other people’s first ultrasound, but I was just wooden. With absolutely no pregnancy symptoms I had really convinced myself that it might be a blighted ovum. When I got up from the exam table BG hugged me long and hard while I shook with relief. I measured exactly 6 weeks and if you haven’t got my pattern down yet ~ I started to feel concerned. I thought I was more like 6+3 using date of fertilization and that my gestational sac looked a little wonky. Cue neurotic googling and comparing of 6 week pregnancy stats.
7 week ultrasound ~ After the last ultrasound the doctor told us to come in one last time to check progression and then I would be released to an OB. I wasn’t too nervous and in more of a like whatever will be will be mood. I measured exactly 7 weeks, heart rate was in range but there was this lump bulging into the gestational sac. The doctor took a while to study it, wondering aloud whether it was a split off/twin. It obviously had no heartbeat but he was kinda like well hmmm… lets keep an eye on this and come back again next week. No graduation for you. BG and I both did our own respective googling when we got to work and came back with the same results. I googled something like “misshapen gestational sac with lump” and BG googled “bulge in gestational sac”. Basically what we came up with is that it is called a chorionic bump. The little info we could find (small sample sets in the research) gave us an 83% chance of live birth since a heartbeat had been visualized. See I’m getting better — I put the stat in positive terms rather than as 17% fetal demise. However as the week went on I became paranoid over the fact that the RE didn’t give me a pic of the ultrasound this time ~ they had even given me a pic of just the sac. Was this a sign he thought the pregnancy wasn’t going to last? Are any of the symptoms I kinda feel only in my head? Did the smell of some cooking food and grease really turn my stomach or do I just want it to? Breasts are not sore but maybe feeling a little bit fuller? Am I less constipated and experiencing less heartburn? Am I really tired or just lazy?
8 week ultrasound ~ Just had it done this morning. All seems well. Fetus looks good, heart rate nice and high, visualized the the amniotic membrane. There is still some wonkiness to the sac but the lump didn’t get any bigger, can only be seen at a certain angle and may even disappear by my next ultrasound with the OB. Woohoo, graduate to the OB. My RE seems unconcerned so I will remain unconcerned (at least about the the chorionic bump and at least for the next little while). I am genuinely happy and hopeful today. OB/midwife appointment is not for two weeks and I’m sure it will seem like forever.
The phlebotomist greeted me and says, “Big day for you today.” I say yeah and smile and then she asked “Did you cheat?” Laughing sheepishly I nodded.
“Aha, that’s why you’re all smiles.”
Indeed and I got to keep my smile when the afternoon call came in that the 9dp5dt beta is 174. I’ll take it. Back again Thursday to see if it doubles.
I told my best friend and sister right after since they’ve been following along with the protocol, appointments, etc. They both want to know if I have any symptoms and I’m like um no, not really? I have some lower back ache that is pretty constant and a tight feeling in my lower abdomen and I think it started with the progesterone. It seems mad early to me to have any symptoms anyway but what do I know? I’ve never been pregnant before.
So the morning of 6dp5dt I tested. The night before I tossed and turned talking myself in and out of it. If negative then I could chalk it up to being too early but then would have to obsessively test until beta hoping for a positive. I convinced myself it’s better to be forewarned of a negative than hear it over the phone ~ but then shouldn’t I wait until the morning of the beta at 9dp5dt? The interwebs and google images show people testing from 5 days post and popping positive and while I wanted to persuade myself that it is just crazy and be patient, I couldn’t help myself.
As I’ve heard other ladies and bloggers say, when you’ve seen so many negative tests even a squinter is glaringly obvious to you. I stared at it amazed, turning it this way and that thinking wow, could it really be? After finding it hard to capture in a pic, I started to feel a little doubt and I certainly didn’t want to show it to BG in case he didn’t see what I saw. That was also when I realized I was going to have to wait a whole day to see if the line was still there and if would get any darker.
The next morning when I first looked at the result I thought oh no, it’s still quite faint ~ is this a bad sign, a chemical, or still too early? Crap, will have to test tomorrow to see again! Cue looking at google images and comparing other peoples lines, ugh.
With my head hanging low, I brought the two sticks to BG and admitted I’m a cheater. I wanted to see if he could see the lines and if he thought one was darker.
BG says he sees the second lines on both tests and the one on the left or 7dp5dt is definitely darker. I explain that any second line, even the super faint is a positive. BG: “Didn’t you say the beta level and whether it doubles is when you’ll know?” Yes, but oh look a positive! Arg, he doesn’t get it because he hasn’t stared at or felt the disappointment of the completely stark white space next to that dark pink test line, time after time.
And then this morning the clear blue digital had me give an involuntary little fist pump Yes!
Unfortunately infertility and ivf have taken that positive home pregnancy test celebration from us as a couple but I’m still just pleased that I’ve gotten this far and I’m pregnant today. All in all so far I’m glad I tested early ~ I just didn’t anticipate the fear of a chemical pregnancy and that I have to test daily to keep confirming. I hope the beta #’s are affirming and don’t ride the maybe fence. Just have to wait and see.
After retrieval I did a lot of hoping and wishing for the 8 fertilized eggs to make it to blast, and since there is no communication from my clinic over the five days, no news is good news is their standard operating procedure. However, I was a bit on tenterhooks thinking what if they call me early? They didn’t so we arrived for our transfer appointment as scheduled.
Since it was Sunday we had the doctor on rotation for the team and she let us know we would be transferring a very good 4aa blastocyst… and then she was like you’ll see your husband in about 10 minutes, let’s go to the procedure room. I had thought that my husband came in with me and would get to see the embryo transfer ~ guess not. And what about the other 7 embryos? I asked her about this while we were walking back and she said she would ask the embryologist. Um, ok.
Filling my bladder, but not overfilling was relatively easy. The transfer was scheduled for noon and I emptied my bladder at 10:30 and then drank 32 – 36oz. over the course of an hour from 10:45 to 11:45. I overheard the lady in the room next to me tell the nurse she had to partially empty because she was about to burst.. I wasn’t really uncomfortable at all, just the beginning feeling of hey, I gotta pee and that’s good because they really press down hard with the ultrasound device on your stomach (or do I have too much extra chub?).
Seeing the embryo on the screen and then watching the ultrasound insertion was super cool and definitely the highlight of this process and I wish BG could’ve seen it too. They did give me a picture of it:
Day 5 Blastocyst, graded 4aa
When I showed BG and pointed out the inner cell mass, he said hmmm… it looks like a Kakuna! I cracked up because I thought the same thing. Too much Pokemon Go for us lately!
The doc told us she spoke with the embryologist and that the rest of the embryos were being cultured for another day and that a nurse would call the next day with the status for cryopreserve. Well no call yesterday which stressed me out and played tricks with my head but I knew I was going in this morning for a progesterone check and could ask then. Good news: We have 4 on ice! (one 4aa, two 4ab’s, and one 4bb)
One week until beta… and as every woman who has done this knows ~ during this time you enter a parallel universe where the days are long and the wait seems endless.
Retrieval was yesterday and overall an okay experience. There was lots of waiting and anticipation for me, especially for the iv. My arms are completely bruised up from the every other day blood draws and so I was nervous about were the iv would go. The anesthesiologist put it in the top of my hand and while I know others hate that spot, for me its an easier vein location to get and as I said my arms are just a mess.
Kissed BG goodbye and walked with a nurse to the room where they do the retrieval. There were a lot of people in the room! When signing my consent forms I noticed it said there may be trainees watching and so yeah, guess that was it. I hopped on the table, made small talk with some of the randoms, had the embryologist confirm my identity, then they were putting my legs in the split table stirrups and that’s the last thing I remember.
When I woke up from the anesthesia I had the most intense cramps I’ve ever felt and I just lay there with tears running down my face. Nurse came over and injected something into my iv that only lessened the pain slightly but I felt the cramping become less intense. BG was still at reception doing paperwork for his sample so I was feeling sorry for myself — thinking about how I didn’t expect this at all! — for about all of three minutes before he arrived. The cramping passed leaving my lower abdominal area feeling incredibly sore. We found out they retrieved 9 eggs and we left to go have breakfast. I’ve read that other ladies receive a stronger pain med but I only was told to take some tylenol. Spent the rest of the day stiff and sore and with a heating pad strapped on fanny pack style.
Stimming wasn’t bad for me at all so I guess something had to give. Feeling much better today with only a slight belly tinge.
And now for the good news: Just got the call and 8 eggs have fertilized! I’m cautiously optimistic especially about getting a better egg fertilization ratio than anticipated. The low AMH stats are intimidating (as in terrifying) that none may make it to blast. Right now I just want to hold onto this better than expected outcome and that day 5 transfer will happen on Sunday.