March 18, 2014

Eclipse

Today I had my beta test, the blood test to officially test how much HCG is in my system.  My beta was 320, which tells us a little bit but not much.  Basically, the next step is another blood test 48 hours after the first one to see how well the numbers are progressing.  Supposedly, as long as your numbers are doubling every 36-48 hours (or 2-3 days depending on the source), your pregnancy is proceeding "normally."  If the numbers don't improve along those doubling standards, the scores could be an indication of possible issues. So, I am pregnant.  The score is normal for where I am at, though the normal range is so vast, who knows. These numbers can sometimes start to give you an inkling as to whether you have a singleton or twins pregnancy, but again the range is so vast and the overlap so much, that who knows.  My statistics obsessed better half computed that once we were pregnant, the chance of twins was around 40%, so odds are there is one.  

My morning commute to confirm the pregnancy was peaceful.  It's refreshing to go to their office for a positive reason.  I pretty much already knew the outcome and figured the number would be normal, so I wasn't too stressed.  Now the wait and sees start again.  I realize that I continue to feel incredibly numb and detached.  I don't feel happy.  I don't feel safe.  I grabbed some ginger ale at the grocery store on the way home just in case I start to feel nauseated, but even as I grabbed it, I wondered would this ginger ale be mocking me from the fridge in a week or two when things possibly go south. The congratulations phone call from the nurse felt flat.  Telling our family members who knew the test was today felt a little painful.  The need to couch the reveal in terms of "but it's so early" and "who knows where this will go" sort of negates the happy news feeling.  We've made those calls twice before, and then we had to call again to say never mind, forget it.

Early pregnancy after miscarriage feels joyless.  I am really working to be gentle on myself and just let myself feel whatever it is I feel without judging myself as an ingrate.  I know I am lucky to have made it over the getting pregnant hurdle.  It was exactly two years ago in March 2012 that we got pregnant last time. And it was exactly two years before that in March 2010 the first time we got pregnant.  Both of those ended in April miscarriages.  Our 2012 loss is what I think is really holding down my joy.  We had these same blood tests then--the numbers doubled and all looked good.  The first ultrasound was normal.  The second ultrasound was normal, including a healthy heartbeat.  The odds of losing the pregnancy after that were in the single digits, but it happened just weeks later.  I know this past experience colors my testing now.  So what if the blood test is normal every time?  So what if we see the fetal pole and heartbeat?  There are no guarantees.  I know life itself offers no guarantees.  Maybe I just want the ignorance of four years ago back again.  Yes, I knew it was ridiculously early.  But somehow I thought it wouldn't happen to me.  I had a sort of ignorance to the very real precariousness of things reproductively related.  I still believed in "signs" and "good feelings."  I was such a different person then than I am today.

I guess I am just waiting, trying to take each of the next steps in the process day by day.  Each little victory, even if not accompanied tears of joy, gets us one step closer to the end game.  It's hard knowing that the genetic code of the embryo inside me is either solid or is not.  Right now already. Nothing I can do.  It just needs time to grow and play out either way, and I have to be patient and let it happen on its own terms.  My emotional numbness is helping me to be able to inch along in a somewhat sane state.  I have my therapy, my acupuncture, and my online support group.  A good friend passed along the first three seasons of Downtown Abbey, so I can finally see what all the buzz is about, but I am saving those for a rock bottom day, whenever it arrives.  

I keep wondering to myself when my numb shell will crack open, allowing happiness to envelop me. I suspect it will happen once I can get past where I was in my last pregnancy, but maybe just getting past the month of April will help me relax.  We made it to 10 weeks last time, so close but a million miles away from our aim.  I keep thinking about the dreaded day at the real OB/GYN's office after graduating from the RE.  I have revisited the details of discovering the stopped heartbeat in my mind over and over during the last week, willing a new memory to form in anticipation of a second chance to get it right this time. It will take another long six weeks to get to that new possible memory and an opportunity to eclipse past failures.  My mantra has been: you are in the best possible place today that you could be in, and there is every reason to believe things can continue smoothly.  Looking back at my thoughts, I know they seem incredibly negative, but I just can't help it.  The desired baby is closer than it has been in years, so close that I fear losing the progress we've made.  I end most of my internal dialogues with the same thought: please just let this work this time.

March 15, 2014

Desperation

In case every other two week wait hadn't convinced me thoroughly, waiting to find out if I am pregnant after my IVF treatment b****slapped me completely.  I was doing okay for about three days, and by okay I mean obsessively thinking about what the embryos were doing in my uterus and whether they had hatched and were starting to try to attach.  On day four, Monday, I had what can only be described as an obsessive day of thoughts.  I tried to read and watch TV, but I was so distracted by the constant stream of my thoughts that I couldn't even focus for long.  Did it work?  What is happening?  What if it doesn't work?  I can't take anymore of this. Please let this work.  Do I feel symptoms?  On and on and on.  From the trigger shot and the progesterone and estrogen I was taking since they retrieved the eggs, I already had sore boobs and uterine cramping (kind of like period cramps).  I had no choice but to render these symptoms unreliable since I had them almost before they put the embryos back in.  I realized the constant stream of intelligence for the first weeks of the IVF process--follicle growth, estrogen levels, daily embryo updates--were long gone.  All we had was radio silence and still over a week to wait for my blood test at the clinic.  I had bought a three pack of HPT because I decided I couldn't wait that long.  My plan was to wait until Saturday, or 10dp5dt (10 days after by 5 day transfer).  By then I was confident the result would be indicative.  However, by Monday evening, I had worried my husband so much with my obsessive thoughts and comments, that he actually said, "why not take a test tomorrow, even knowing the result will be meaningless."  This comment was a shock since he is totally against the insanity of the HPT obsession.  The fact he was going along with an illogical act shows the depth of his love!

So I took a test on Tuesday morning, 6dp5dt.  I told myself the result was meaningless.  If it was positive, it still might be the HCG trigger leaving my system.  If it was negative, it was still early enough that even an implantation would not give a positive.  Why take it?  I can only say, and it may not make sense to those not in this position, that I took it just to have anything to do and just to have any type of data to parse rather than radio silence.  I take the test, and it is negative.  After I take it, I realize that I wished it were positive (even though I said either was ok).  I wasn't panicked, but the thought of "oh no" popped into my head for a few secs.  I am ok.  I say, "well now we know the trigger is cleared, so if we get a positive in a day or two or three, we will have this as reassurance."  Then my husband calls from the bathroom that he thinks he sees a barely there line.  "You mean a squinter," I say.  "WTH is that?" he responds, like any sane person not reading infertility blogs and message boards 24/7.  

So we had a squinter.  I posted the pic for my cycle buddies, who all confirmed seeing a faint line.  Most of them relay to me that they honestly believe the positive test is NOT from the trigger, that it is the beginning of a real positive test.  I start to feel like maybe this worked.  I spend about FOUR HOURS googling 6dp5dt squinter and reading various blogs, some squinters resulting in babies and pregnancies, some in miscarriages or no pregnancies.  I feel better about this obsessive reading as opposed to my obsessive thinking the day before and not knowing, so I am glad I took the test.

The next morning I wake up early and have a fear attack.  This shit just got real.  I am petrified of taking a follow up test.  I can't bear the thought of now seeing a negative.  I feel so emotionally fragile that the thought of seeing the negative torments me.  I run and pee without testing just to give myself more time to think that "yes, I might be pregnant."  I can't deal with anything else.  My husband is disappointed and doesn't understand why I did that.  Later, after my therapy appointment and getting home, I agree I can handle the result either way, and take the test.  It is positive with a darker, more solid line.  So, it appears this actually worked.  

You might expect us to cry, hug each other, laugh, cheer, or something dramatic, but with prior miscarriages, all we can do is feel what we call "cautious optimism."  We've been here before twice to no avail, so we know all too well how early it is and how this could amount to a chemical or another problem.  It is so very early. 

Still, in our 50 step process, we have gotten over a few more hurdles, putting us around step 38, I'd say.  It's huge just to get here, whether we can feel joy over it or not.  I feel relieved and positive.  We took another test two days later, and there were still two lines.  We are at about 4 weeks as of today, and I don't really feel pregnant.  I wish I felt exhausted or nauseated or something, but I know logically that the lack of symptoms does not mean anything.  I am doing well with not overly stressing.  My fatalistic side speaks in my ear, telling me there is little I can control.  Our biggest obstacle is a genetic error, and there is either one or there is not, and it will play out as it is destined to play out.  What can I do but hope we are finally on the right side of the odds this time?

March 7, 2014

Over the Hump

I made it to the two week wait.  Our embryos kept growing, and come Day 5 (Wednesday morning), there were two AA blastocysts ready to be transferred--basically the best possible outcome of this entire process. Three other embryos were also graded as good (1 AA and 2 AB), and we elected to freeze those for possible future transfer.  There were two additional embryos they thought might make it to be frozen the next day, but they didn't end up progressing.  To summarize, 14 mature eggs were retrieved.  Ten fertilized.  Five made it to good blastocyst stage.  I consider these results stunningly good.  The cryopreservation was not covered, so that was $1750 out of pocket.  Luckily we felt three was a large enough number to pay that price.

The transfer was easy compared to the egg retrieval.  It all seemed to go smoothly.  There was so little pain! We saw a "flash" as the embies were ejected into the uterus.  We got a framed picture of the two they put in. Hubby and I keep joking that we are trying to get pregnant the "new fangled way" since the old fashioned way left us hanging.  

I've been feeling a lot of swirling emotions now that I've made it.  I feel very numb and weird overall. I do think the hormones I am taking to help with the embryo attaching and growing are making me incredibly tired.  I am sleeping all night and taking a nap each day and still feel groggy.  

The blood test with the clinic is not until March 18, so we have a long time to wonder what (if anything) is going on at a microscopic level in my uterus.  According to my blastocyst day by day chart, by today they should have busted out of their outer shells and started to attach.  When we started this cycle, we had about a 30% chance of getting a pregnancy (not a baby, but just a pregnancy).  Getting to where we are now, we calculate the odds are better than 50%, which is better than we've ever had.  The odds of twins as of today are about 20%.  I have been on the wrong side of the odds so many times, that I take them with a grain of salt.  I am so relieved that all of this went well.  It gives me some hope that even if this cycle doesn't connect, there are still chances.  Yet, with all my reading and experiences, I know that there are still so many things that can go wrong.  I keep thinking of this as a 50 step process, with step 50 being bringing home a healthy baby.  Maybe we are at step 30 or something.  Everyone who is following along with me in real life seems convinced that this will work.  I don't think they realize the harsh realities that abound.  There is a reason I have not gotten pregnant all this time.  The reason is unknown.  Maybe we've already circumvented the mystery issue; maybe it still has time to rear its ugly head and screw things up.  

All this being said, I still have an ember of hope deep within.  The odds fuel that little ember to warm up.  I am cautiously optimistic but hormonally imbalanced at the moment, so all I can do is be gentle on myself, control the things I can control, and try to make time move faster!

March 2, 2014

Eggspectations

Well, I survived the egg retrieval.  They got fourteen mature eggs, which is absolutely great.  I was hoping to get lucky and have ten, to be in double digits.  The fact that trying to get pregnant even involves anesthesia blows my mind, but here we are in IVF land!  The after effects are incredibly swollen ovaries (they fill back up with fluid, apparently) and bloating/constipation.  I am feeling better today (two days later). 

We got the call yesterday that ten fertilized.  Again--awesome.  Then we got the call for today's report that all ten are still growing.  Three are two cells big and seven are four cells big.  Because we have a good number, they are scheduling us for a day five transfer for Wednesday.  We will just keep watching these ten to see if any of them drop off and how they grow.  I am so relieved on so many levels.  I couldn't ask for a better report as of today, so I am grateful.  Also, with a major storm coming in tonight and overnight, I was stressing all day yesterday, wondering how we would get to the doctor's tomorrow for a day three embryo transfer.  Luckily, that worry can be released.

I don't really feel happy.  I just feel relieved.  I can't even believe it's going so well so far, and I am waiting for the rug to get pulled out, I guess.  There are so many ways things can go sideways even at this point that I am just cynical.  We've been on the wrong side of the stats every time in the past, but I know things look promising, and I am getting my hopes up a little.  It looks like we will have something to put in on Wednesday as of right now.  I just have to keep taking this day by day.