Hurry up and wait…

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If it’s one thing I’ve learned along this journey…the theme of IVF is hurry up and wait.
As an IVF patient you are constantly waiting for the next lab draw, next injection, next appointment, next phone call, next result.   I believe this is God’s way of laughing at me when I asked for patience through this process.  Speaking of waiting, we’ve made you wait close to two weeks for an update, so we figured it was about time.patient.jpg

Let’s pick up where we left off…

In my last post, The IVF Roller Coaster, I talked about our Egg Retrieval, Embryo Fertilization Reports and our Embryo Transfer.  We also found out we had 2 embies remaining and are now our frosties.

Hubby and I decided to do something different for this cycle’s post-transfer “hurry up and wait”.  Thanks to my amazing sister, we were able to take a long weekend and go to her lake house to get our mind off of things. It was nice.  It was just Hubby and I and the amazing weather.

That Saturday, I noticed some abdominal cramping and tinges of pain here and there. Dr. Google said this was normal.  I also had what most would consider early pregnancy symptoms such as sore ta-ta’s, fatigue, etc.  However, as I have learned before, this is the cruel joke played by progesterone injections.  Progesterone mimics early pregnancy symptoms whether you are or not. Sunday, I woke up with extreme low back pain all day as if I had slept wrong.  I chalked it up to sleeping in a different bed and went about my day.  I also had a feeling of stretching in my lower abdomen, something I hadn’t experienced with my last transfer.

Monday came around and at that point I was 5DP5DT (IVF lingo for “5 days post 5-day transfer). I had already made up my mind that although it was early, I was going to test.  I didn’t want to be blindsided at work with the news and after hearing previous IVFers had started to get squinters (faint test lines) I wanted to at least try.

a52e33e9e69001858508cf60facb6475.jpgHubby had gotten up earlier that morning and headed down to the dock to do some fishing.  I woke up shortly after and being determined, I grabbed the stick in the pink foil wrapper and made my way to the bathroom.  Still a little groggy, I followed the directions and set it aside for the longest 3 minute wait of my life.  I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath and picked up the stick.  At a quick glance and the light reflecting just right, I peered at one pink line and a white area.  I felt my heart sink.  Okay, it’s still early. Don’t worry, maybe tomorrow.  I sat it back down on the counter and began to put my contacts in. I started brushing my teeth and mid-brush I glanced down at the test again.

HOLY CRAP!  (Actually, it sounded more like “howy cap” with my mouth full of toothpaste.) There it was. The faintest of pink lines next to a dark line.  I put on some decent clothes and run down to the dock. I don’t even think I put shoes on.

“Morning babe!” says Hubby.

“HI!  I have to something to show you!” I pull out the HPT (Home Pregnancy Test) “It’s faint but it’s there!!”

“Yep, it sure is!” he said. “I figured that’s why you came down here so fast!

We grinned at each other and joked about me carrying around a stick of pee in my pocket!

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Is this real life?

I wasn’t convinced the line wasn’t leftover trigger shot.  The trigger we used this time was an hCG trigger which is the same hormone secreted and picked up on tests.  It can take 10-14 days for it to completely get out of your system, causing a false positive.  Monday was day 12.

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1 Test, 2 Test, Pink Test, Blue Test!

To say I became obsessed with testing would be an understatement.  I tested again that night, Tuesday morning, Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, etc. Sometimes I would use different brands.  Each test seemed to show a darker line than the last.  I started gaining hope this indeed was not the remnants of my trigger but actually the real deal!

The night before our first official “Beta”, I decided to test with a digital test.  HPTs are a qualitative test. As long as you meet the minimum level of hCG (usually a level higher than 25), it will show positive.  Sometimes if it’s a darker line or it shows up quicker, it could mean there is more hCG in your system or it could just be a difference in the dye.  Digitals are notorious for not being as sensitive and needing a higher hCG level to show positive.  In my mind, 25 was the minimum to be considered a viable pregnancy.  If the digital was positive it meant my levels were higher than 25.  After 3 minutes, that even came back positive!

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Hi, I’m Jackie and I’m a POAS-aholic…

Beta Time!

My first beta was Thursday, September 8th. Sidenote: ironically this day was the the one year anniversary of the start of this blog! How fitting?! I wanted to be there early in hopes I would get the number back early.  I’m pretty sure I was one of the first people who arrived when the lab opened.  I was there for all of 2 minutes, told they would call me shortly and I was on my merry way.  Again, trying to avoid receiving the call at work I decided to grab breakfast at McDonald’s and eat in the parking lot.  Hurry up and wait. After all, they called with my beta result from my 1st cycle within an hour.  An hour passed and I decided I couldn’t wait much longer and decided to go to work.  I get to work and another hour passes.  I’m about to bang my head on my desk at this point.

Riiiiiing. My heart jumps. I grab my phone and walk out to the parking garage.  It’s the nurse who has been doing my scans.  “Hey Jackie, do you have a minute? I have some good news for you!”

Finally. My first beta at 8dp5dt is 68!  Our office actually tests earlier than most.  This day is equivalent to two weeks after “ovulation” or in my case retrieval and fertilization.  They also tested my progesterone levels.  Progesterone levels can be a great indicator of miscarriage if low or a sustainable pregnancy if over 25.  My progesterone came back at 106.29.  I was caught off guard by such a high number.  Although good, you typically don’t see progesterone this high until the second trimester.  My doctor reassured me it’s nothing to worry about and we would rather have it high than low because that could indicate a miscarriage.

They typically do beta tests every 48 hours since betas are supposed to double every 48-72 hours as a rule of thumb. In my case, my first beta was on a Thursday which meant I would have to wait until Monday for my next test because they are closed on Saturdays!  Hurry up and wait, again.  Let me tell you, your mind can do a lot of over-thinking in 4 days and Dr. Google and I are no longer on speaking terms.

Monday rolls around and I decide since it’s my day off, I’ll go in a little later since I could be waiting for results awhile.  I was more nervous about this appointment because if my “68” doesn’t double and decreases, it could indicate a chemical pregnancy.  Another 2 minute visit and quick needle stick, I’m out the door.  Hurry up and wait…but not as long. This time my results came back in 50 minutes!  Our coordinator called with more great news! My levels were at 313!  Which means they were doubling at a rate of 44 hours! My next appointment was scheduled for today!  At that moment, I could start to feel like I could breathe a small sigh of relief.

Today, I went in early because I had to be at work.  I don’t even think this time it took 2 minutes before I was out.  I was at work by 9am.  Hurry up and wait…AGAIN. By about 10:30am, I was getting antsy and had started to fear the worst.  At 11am, I received the call.  My level needed to be at least 626.  It came back at 861!! We now have a doubling time of 33 hours!  They are very impressed with  my numbers!

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Now what?

Based on my doubling betas, at this point I’m actually considered pregnant.   I’m completely overwhelmed at the thought.  Four years of infertility struggles, tens-of-thousands of dollars spent, millions of tears cried and we finally may have something to show for it.  I’m cautiously optimistic.  I’m trying very hard to not put the cart before the horse because I realize, we aren’t done yet. In my mind, we are unofficially official.

Just because doubling betas are good, it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet.  Next Thursday afternoon, we go in for our first ultrasound.  They will be looking to make sure everything is where it should be and not ectopic or a molar pregnancy, measure the gestational sack, see the embryo and possibly even see a heartbeat.  We will also find out if we have one or two little peanuts in there (yep, it’s definitely a possibility).  There is a lot riding on this ultrasound.

Although I want to celebrate, part of me is terrified about the next couple of weeks.  These next few weeks are crucial and things can change quickly.  I am also consistently reminded of our loss that occurred four years ago and I pray that we make it safely past the 8 week mark.

While most prefer to wait to share their news, we decided to share this with you now for two reasons.  One, because many of you have been following our journey and for the most part, already know the timeline of when everything is happening.  Even if we waited until our second trimester to make an announcement, most of you would have already figured it out by our silence.  Reason two being almost the same as number one. We have been so thankful for everyone’s support and uplifting thoughts and prayers.  At this point, we can use all the support we can get.  God forbid if the unfavorable does happen, knowing the support system we already have will make a huge difference in how we may handle something of that nature.

So here we are.  I’m 5 weeks pregnant.  I already have morning/all day sickness, can smell foul scents for what seems like miles away, my abdomen feels like I’ve done 1,000 crunches and sleeping through the night without having to use the restroom is a thing of the past…and I love it.  It’s a constant reminder that things are changing and what we’ve hoped and prayed for is in the works!  I’ve prayed louder and harder more in the last two months than I have I think in my entire life.  God is good and He will provide!

I plan to update frequently as we continue along this journey.  If all goes well at my 6 week ultrasound, we will go back for an 8 week ultrasound and hopefully will get to hear a heartbeat!  Again, Hubby and I both sincerely thank you for your unwavering support, prayers, and positive messages you have sent us these last few weeks.  We will be forever grateful!

Until next time,

J

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The IVF Roller Coaster

 

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We made it!  We are in the Two Week Wait window!  Technically, we have been in the TWW since our egg retrieval. Man, has this been a roller coaster of emotions!  I forget how basically after we trigger how quickly everything progresses and sort of lost track of time.   So let’s catch up!

Trigger Time and Tornadoes

So we triggered on the 24th at 9:45pm.  That night was absolute insanity.  Hubby and I are a part of Worship Team at church and Wednesday nights are our rehearsals. During rehearsal, we could hear rain falling hard and what even sounded like hail at times.  As we finished, we ended with prayer which is the norm.  Right as we began to pray, everyone’s phones began sounding and we realize we were in the middle of a tornado warning.  We collected our things, (the guys gathered their precious instruments) and we made our way to the basement.  After a few minutes and a break in the rain we all decided to try to get home.  According to the news, rotation had been spotted to the east of where we were about the time we had started to pray but it had passed now.  Hubby and I get home and turned on the news and were informed there was another round of storms that had just produced 90mph west of us headed in our direction.  They tracked it and announced the approximate time it would hit our town…9:45pm.  OF COURSE! There was no way we were going to be late on this trigger. (It has to be precise so there are eggs to retrieve at the right time.) I had a lunch bag to put my medications in and a flashlight and told Hubby it doesn’t matter what’s going on at 9:45pm, we’re doing this.  Lucky for us, the storm had weakened by the time it hit us and we were able to trigger without being in the basement!

Thursday was nice because we didn’t have to do any injections! It was a nice break!

Retrieval Day

Friday was Egg Retrieval Day! I hardly slept at all I was so nervous.  We had to be at the hospital at 7am to be admitted.  We got there, checked in and they walked us back to the all-too-familiar Reproductive Center where they perform the retrievals, transfers, etc.

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Hubby and I before I went in to surgery

We were greeted by two of the nicest nurses I have possibly ever had.  They walked me to my room gave me a “fashionable” gown to wear and bright yellow socks.  We went through my med history and they got an IV started.  Surprisingly, even after not eating for almost 12 hours, the nurse was able to get my IV on the first stick and I didn’t even bleed all over like I did last time.  I spoke with the anesthesiologist and signed all of the necessary forms.  When it was time, I said goodbye to Hubby and they rolled me in to the OR.  They got everything prepped, started me on oxygen and began to give me drugs to make me groggy.  All sounds around me intensified and it felt like I was in a tube. I remember telling the nurses how trippy it was.  I also told the anesthesia nurse how I didn’t like being strapped down last time and she said she would wait until I was out before tightening any of the restraints.

Next thing I knew, I woke up back in the room we started in.  My left side hurt considerably more than I remember from my last egg retrieval and I was still groggy.  They gave me some meds and I asked for Hubby.  post4He came in and told me we got 21 eggs! That was great news, however, I was more concerned about telling him about a dream I just had involving our favorite restaurant, Ryan Gosling and Hubby’s profession.  Lucky for me, Hubby caught it on video.  If you want a good laugh, check it out here! After a few more doses of pain meds, Hubby took me home and I went to sleep.  I had way more nausea this go around and was quite uncomfortable.  Little did I know, I hadn’t even”seen” uncomfortable yet.

Day 1 Embryo Report

I went back to work that Saturday. Since my job is 99% sitting, I figured I would be doing the equivalent at home, I might as well save a sick day.  I did pretty well I would say, just a little sore.  I received a call shortly after arriving to work with our Day 1 Embryologist Report.  Out of 21 eggs only 11 were mature.  This means there were 10 eggs that just didn’t grow quick enough and we weren’t able to use.   My clinic uses a process called ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) which is where they inject a single sperm into the egg instead of just putting them in the general location and letting them “seek it out”.

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21 quickly became 6

We found out of the 11, only 6 were fertilized using ICSI.  They also explained my egg quality wasn’t that great (no surprise) and they were unsure if they were would continue to grow.  At first I was disappointed to learn out of 21 eggs we only had 6 to work with.  I was worried they wouldn’t progress and we would be left with nothing, not even to transfer.  We would have to wait until Monday, Day 3, for our next report.

That night, Hubby played in a band with some of our friends at an annual block party.  I tried sitting for most of it but between eating too much, no pain meds and the bloating really beginning, by the end I was feeling extra crummy.

Sunday and Monday were the worst for me.  See, your body has worked so hard to not ovulate early, create these follicles and then create these eggs.  Then, all of a sudden the eggs are gone and your body is like “WTH?” It tries to fill those follicles back up but it’s just fluid.  Well, I had 21 holes to fill and boy, did I feel it.  When you were a kid, (or adult, no judgement), did you ever push out your stomach like a basketball as a joke?  That’s what it was like but involuntary and constant.  No relief for multiple days. It was awful.  Luckily, I finally felt some alleviation by Tuesday evening, just before our transfer!  I forgot how bad post-retrieval felt!

Day 3 Embryo Report

I received a call Monday around 9am.  I started to panic because they normally call between 7:30am and 8:30am.  I had started to convince myself there weren’t any that made it this far and they were going to call to tell me we wouldn’t be able to transfer.  I must have prayed for the full 30 minutes from 8:30am to 9am and then I received the call.  All 6 were still growing and at appropriate stages for Day 3.  There were a couple that were lagging behind a little and we had some minor fragmentation in the 2 advanced embryos, but they were growing! We wouldn’t receive another report until we went in for the transfer.

Transfer Day

Hubby had to have a last minute Lithotripsy on Tuesday to break up a large kidney stone.  Yeah, in the midst of us doing all of our IVF treatments, he’s been dealing with passing 5 kidney stones this month! Great fun at our house!

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My waiting room posse and my trusty water bottle

Since he had to have this procedure done, he was unable to drive for 24 hours.  Luckily, one of our best friends agreed to drive us both to my transfer.  Thanks Nikky!  At 8:30am, I was instructed to take a Valium and drink water.

Don’t worry, I learned my lesson and didn’t even drink 32oz this time. We were to arrive at the clinic at 9am, about the same time my Valium kicked in.  Just like last time, I woke up at 7am and I basically stared at my phone with the fear they would call and tell me the embryos didn’t make it.  When we got there, I felt a sense of relief knowing I hadn’t received such a call.

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My pair of lucky socks from last year’s World Series!

After waiting in the lobby for a few minutes, we were escorted into a dimly-lit room with calming music playing.  We waited for the Embryologist to come in and give us the news.  She came in and handed us the picture of 2 embryos and said we had one BB blastocyst and one early BB blast. I was ecstatic!  Last time we only had fair quality early blast that couldn’t really even be graded.  BB is about the second best grade you can get on embies!  We told her we were wanting to transfer two this time.  Long story short, as quick as 1, 2, 3…they were transferred! It was so neat for Hubby and I to watch these two tiny dots taking their place on the ultrasound screen.

Afterwards, we went and walked around a shopping center and I bought some coloring books to help me relax.  We went to eat lunch at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants that is close to where we were and we don’t get to eat at very often.   When we were done, we went home, I ate some pineapple (including the core) and lounged the rest of the day.

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Here they are! Aren’t they cute?

Our clinic says to take it easy (no strenuous exercise) for one day but the 2nd is up to us.  I had heard that it is actually good to be somewhat active to create blood flow.  Yesterday, which was Day 2, I had a training class for work so I sat most of the day with occasional breaks so I was still pretty stationary for most of it.

Frozen

On my way to training on Thursday morning, I found myself talking/praying/praising God out loud for everything that we had experienced the day before and this entire cycle.  postShortly after I said “Amen”, my phone rang.  It was our Embryologist calling to tell us if any of the remaining embryos qualified to be frozen.  This was it.  This was one of our biggest goals, (aside from getting pregnant of course), of this entire cycle!  I remember saying “Here we go!” as I slid Answer Call across the screen.  Two made it!  She explained they weren’t the best quality but they are extremely picky about which ones are chosen to be preserved but they were just borderline over so they could be frozen!  She also said because of the quality if and when we decide to do a frozen embryo transfer, we may want to thaw and transfer both at the same time.  So right now, we have two sitting on ice! Brrrr.

Which brings us to today! I’m doing pretty well.  I’m wearing jeans again! Yay!  Never thought I would be this happy about pants!  In all honesty, I’m feeling more confident and positive about this time rather than our last cycle.  Hopefully, for good reason!  I finished some steroids and a Z-pack they had me on to help prep my body and I’m glad because I was having to get up every 2 hours to go to the bathroom at night. Here’s hoping the next time I go that frequently, will be because there’s a tiny human pushing on my bladder!

So, what now?

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Meanwhile, Lola is on Bulldog Incubation Duty

Our next appointment isn’t until September 8th when they will do a blood test, also known as a “beta” (Beta hCG).  This basically tells us if embryo(s) implanted.  If positive, I will go in at least two more times for the same test.  If the numbers are at least doubling, that means things are growing! After positive betas, they will schedule an ultrasound and look for a heartbeat.  If a heartbeat is found, it will be then I would be considered pregnant.  It’s important to be reminded that just because I have a positive beta, doesn’t mean we are out of the woods yet.

When we go in Thursday the 8th, we will receive the results shortly after.  This cycle I’m doing things a little differently.  I’m going to take a home pregnancy test  starting Sunday or Monday and continue to take them daily.  Sometimes it will be negative about 5 days after the transfer and then you may get a positive a few days later as your hCG levels rise.  Our clinic doesn’t recommend testing because sometimes it can be negative and you still have a positive blood test, (your hCG levels may not be high enough to detect), and some people get discouraged.  I didn’t test last time.  This time, if I were to wait until the blood test, I would be hit with the results at work, and while good or bad, I’m not sure my co-workers want to deal with that hot mess.  So, Hubby and I are going to the lake for the weekend to relax and get away. I’ll start testing while we are there so I can be prepared for Thursday.

With that said, I may or may not post results until later.  I appreciate everyone who has followed our journey and supported us but this is going to be, single-handedly, the toughest part of our cycle.  I ask that you don’t inquire what are results are and if I seem to go “silent” on social media next week, please respect that although it may be good news or it may be bad news, this is time for us to plan for whatever may be in our future.  When we are ready to share, we will.  I promise.

Until then, prayers and positive thoughts please for a favorable outcome.  Prayers for comfort and understanding if the outcome is less than favorable.  My faith hinges on knowing God is a providing God and everything is in His hands.

Until next time,

J