FET #2 : Suppression Check

Today I had my CD3 suppression check for my next FET.  I have been feeling depressed all day. My appointment was 30 minutes late and I arrived 15 minutes early, so I spent 45 minutes sulking in the waiting room. Then I burst into tears when my doctor came into the ultrasound room. I told her the truth — that I don’t think the transfer is going to work this time, but I’m doing it anyway. I was hoping that she would reassure me and say something about how she really thinks it will work this second time and that I shouldn’t worry too much. Instead, she told me that I could cancel the cycle at any time and that I should consider waiting a couple of months if I’m not filling up to the task emotionally. I get what she’s saying, but the waiting in between cycles feels even harder than the cycles themselves, because time is passing and nothing is happening. I’m still planning to go through with the cycle, even if I feel really hopeless.

Something that has made me nervous is how light my period has been since going off birth control and especially since my first IVF cycle in the fall. I get my period for like 1 day and then spotting for 2 days now. To me, this is a sign of how terrible my uterine lining is. I used to have such robust 5-day periods. Why couldn’t I have the barely-there periods in my early twenties and the robust periods now?? I read online that long-term birth control use permanently thins your lining, which made me feel even worse, as if it’s too late for me lining-wise. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve succumbed to an IVF old wive’s tale and started drinking pomegranate juice every night in hopes that it will magically increase my lining. Also, red raspberry leaf tea, vitamin E and vitamin B-complex! I don’t think any of these things will actually work, but it makes me feel like I’m doing *something* to help my lining. (And no, my doctor has not said there is anything wrong with my lining…I just feel like it’s not good enough…)

My nurse called this evening to let me know that my estradiol level was 20, which she said was “nice and low.” Of course I googled CD3 estradiol levels and found that 20 was below average…like post-menopausal low, which scared me. But I don’t think my clinic would have me start the cycle if they were worried that my estrogen was too low. I would be less worried about this if my period wasn’t so freakishly light. Oh, wow I really wish I wasn’t slowly driving myself crazy this cycle. I guess I just don’t trust anything about the process now.

2nd Beta : 12dp5dt

Spoiler : My second beta was a 3, so it’s definitely a chemical pregnancy.

Yesterday my nurse wrote an email to C & I to let us know what the possible outcomes are when one’s first beta is a 6.

A (most common) : Second beta level drops below 5 which is considered negative range.  Then I would stop progesterone suppositories and get my period within a week.

B : Second beta level is higher. Then I would have to stay on progesterone and keep going in for monitoring. Most likely outcome is that HCG would eventually drop and the pregnancy would resolve itself on its own. In very rare cases this could be do to an ectopic pregnancy, meaning that the embryo implanted in my fallopian tube, which might require medicine to end the pregnancy.

C (very rare) : Second beta level is higher and the pregnancy turns out okay, which the clinic has seen a couple of times.

I also googled what the chances of such a low number turning into a successful pregnancy would be and couldn’t really find any evidence of it working. Usually when I google the chances about something happening in the IVF process, I find stories of both success and failure. But not with a beta as low as 6. I was really fearing that the number would go up a little and I would have to drag out this process and have a miscarriage later. I was already wondering how soon I could do another FET and coming to terms with another $5,000 in expenses *sigh*. I was actually really pleased with how resilient I’ve become in this process. I came home in a rather good mood and feeling exceptionally loving towards my husband.

Then after dinner, I started not feeling great physically. For me, the progesterone suppositories have been kind of rough. For one, they’ve made me constipated, which is why I thought my stomach was hurting. Also, I always got pretty bad heartburn on birth control, and now I know it’s from the progesterone, because my heartburn has been starting up again. Usually my triggers are coffee, alcohol and spicy food, but I had neither of those yesterday. Still I went to bed with a stomach ache. I woke up at 3:00am and my stomach ache and heartburn felt worse. Then I ran into the bathroom to throw up. Throwing up didn’t make my stomach feel much better and I tossed and turned until it was time to get up for my 8:00am beta appointment.

I sent an email saying I was taking a sick day from work, which I almost never do. C was sound asleep, so even though I felt like crap, I went to the appointment by myself. I didn’t cry to the phlebotomist this time. I even paid off a surprise $1500.00 bill we had on the transfer cycle. Then I got in the car and started crying on the way home. C surprised me and said he was going to take a sick day and stay home with me, so we’ve been laying in bed all day. We’ve never taken a sick day together. My stomach ache and heartburn have dulled some, but I still was unable to get any sleep.

Then my nurse called with the info about the beta. She said it went down to 3, so I could stop progesterone and go straight into another cycle if I wanted to. I asked her if I should change to a medicated cycle or do anything else, but she said they recommended just doing the same thing again, and that hopefully the embryo was just abnormal, despite PGS-testing. She said if the next cycle doesn’t work (oh boy), that they would consider doing a different protocol. That doesn’t make me feel great, but I’m learning to just roll with things in IVF land.

I cannot wait to have the progesterone leave my system. I’ve only been on it for 2 weeks, and I don’t know how I’ll be able to deal with it for 10 weeks of pregnancy if I ever get pregnant! It’s Shabbat tonight, and I was planning to drink wine, but because of the heartburn I’m skipping it. I am, however, looking forward to a nice, hot bubble bath!

Beta : 10dp5dt

Playing on repeat in my head now: The 1991 Lenny Kravitz hit song, “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over.”

Yesterday, I decided to buy a Clear Blue digital pregnancy test, so that this morning I could get some non-negotiable answer on a test. I slept horribly again. When I got up, I first tried a FRER and it was lighter than yesterday – practically non-existent. Then, I did the digital test. After a few minutes, it boldly announced that I am “not pregnant.” I was pretty miserable going into my beta. I cried to the phlebotomist at my clinic and told her about how horrible I felt. She was very sweet and hugged me before I left.

I decided that I wouldn’t listen to the voicemail with the test results until I got home. I figured they were bad results since no one called until 3:30. I was going to wait for C to get home to listen with me, but I was too anxious. Good news from my nurse always starts with an enthusiastic, “I’ve got good news for you!” Bad news is always vague. My nurse solemnly asked me to call her back to go over the results. Then she was busy when I called back, so I paced around my house until she called back.

My beta result was a 6. Ugh. Apparently anything over a 5 is considered a positive at my clinic, but my nurse made it clear that this was not good news. She said that the “vast majority “of beta results this low will just end in a chemical pregnancy. When I asked if there was any chance of it getting better, she basically said no. Still, I was told to stay on the progesterone suppositories and go back on Friday morning for another blood draw. So now I’m just in a sad limbo, waiting for my embryo dissolve or whatever, instead of calling it quits and starting over.

It looks like I’ll probably be busting out the lego set this weekend.

And a bath. I’d really, really like to take a bath.

9dp5dt

I am losing my mind!

So after my negative tests on Sunday, I told C to hide the pregnancy tests from me until this morning. I figured I just needed a day off from testing. We went to visit our friends (a couple with a young son). The wife friend was so sweet and told me not to worry too much about a negative test this early. She has not done IVF, but it took her a long time to get pregnant (including a miscarriage) and she did not have her son until she was 38. She validated my obsession with testing and offered to send me home with a bunch of her cheap test strips so I could test with abandon. I decided to stick with my original plan and declined to take any.

Last night I started getting pretty bad cramps, which feel like menstrual cramps. This is the time I would be getting menstrual cramps in a normal cycle. Then I went to sleep around 10 and woke up at 11 sweating. It is the same cool temperature in the bedroom that it is every night. Normally I run cold and sleep in long thermal pajamas, but I had to change into just a t-shirt and underwear, because I was so hot. Of course, knowing I was going to test, I woke up wide awake at 3:30. I was still so hot and my cramps were hurting, but I was trying to hold my pee to make it concentrated for the test. Around 4:30, I gave up and went into the bathroom to test. I got a very faint positive, but I looked at the ones from 2 days ago and the one today is definitely more noticeable. I woke C up to make him look at it before the 10 minute mark. He was not too happy about being woken up, nor was he impressed with the line. I laid in bed for a while than got up to look at the tests again. I know you aren’t supposed to look past 10 minutes, but I could really tell that today’s was darker than the two tests from Sunday.

I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I thought I would get a confirmation this morning that I wasn’t pregnant, since I seem to be having PMS symptoms. I’m so confused! Why can’t pregnancy tests be easier to navigate? Tomorrow is my beta and I’m very nervous. Yesterday I felt pretty doubtful, but now I feel cautiously optimistic.

7dp5dt

I’ve tried to be “chill” while waiting to go in for my pregnancy test, but the closer I’ve gotten to the test the more anxious I’ve become. Yesterday I got some HPTs – I made sure to get the brand-name FRER type that says it can detect HGC up to 6 days before a missed period .  I fell asleep early last night and I woke up at 2:30am wide awake. I decided to try one of the tests. It was negative. I cried a little and of course I couldn’t go to sleep for 2 hours. I googled “7dp5dt” and saw lots of pictures of positive pregnancy tests. I know there are also people who tested negatively this early but tested positively later, but I just don’t feel very hopeful now. When I woke up, I paced around and thought, maybe my pee just wasn’t concentrated enough. So, I tried again just now. My pee was much more concentrated, but the test was negative again.

I feel pretty bummed. I don’t think that it’s likely I’m pregnant. I’ll try again tomorrow of course, but I don’t know. I’d like to hold out for 2 days before testing again, but that feels really hard. We’re going to visit some friends of ours today who have a 2 year-old son. I was hoping to feel more upbeat going into this visit, but now I just feel kind of numb.

Transfer Day

Today was my first embryo transfer! Everything went as well as it could. I didn’t have to hold my pee for 4 hours or anything like I’ve read about online. I just drank several cups of water an hour before the transfer and took some valium. It was a little uncomfortable with a full bladder, but I didn’t mind at all, because I was so excited to get that embryo inside of me. C didn’t really care about being in the room during the transfer, but I told him I thought he should so he did come in and he ended up thinking it was pretty cool.

The first woman who came in did an external ultrasound to make sure my bladder was perfectly full. Then the embryologist came in and gave us a photo of our embryo. This part probably would have been more exciting if I hadn’t already seen a bunch of these photos on other people’s blogs. The embryologist also told us that the embryo thawed perfectly, which was a relief. She also told us that we have 7 embryos in storage, because in addition to the 5 other normal embryos there were 2 embryos where the PGD testing was inconclusive. I didn’t know that we were keeping those, but sure, why not? Hopefully they don’t get any mixed up! My doctor came in to do the transfer. I asked her about whether my lining was really okay and she said it was perfect and thick. I expressed my worry that 8mm was at the lower end of what is acceptable and she said it doesn’t make a difference in the chances of success as long as it’s at least 8mm. I don’t know if this is true, but it definitely made me feel better! Then they popped the embryo into my uterus and it was over.

I give the transfer an A+, because I checked in at 10:30 and left at 11:00 — it was so quick! The staff at my clinic is so great, they seem so competent and caring. They also made me feel like I’m special and my transfer was important to them, even though it’s a big clinic and I’m one of many, many patients. Maybe the valium hasn’t worn off yet, but I don’t feel anxious at all about waiting the 10 days until my first beta test. In my mind, the embryo is safe in my uterus and it will want to stay there.

FET: CD17 / Gender Selection

I went in for my ultrasound today and I still hadn’t ovulated, so my transfer is set for Sunday @ 11am.  I start progesterone suppositories on Friday. I’m not doing anything special that for the transfer that I’ve read about online – no acupuncture, no pineapple core. I’ve accepted that I’m not in control over the results.

I expressed concern about the embryo thawing properly. My nurse said that 98% of the embryos thaw without any trouble, but they monitor the one they are thawing and if it looks bad they will thaw another one, so the transfer won’t be canceled for that reason. I know we have extra, but I hope we don’t lose one that way.

Because we did PGS testing, our clinic allows us to choose the gender of the embryo. I know this is controversial, but I did choose the gender of my embryo – let’s call it gender A. Of the 6 embryos, 2 are gender A & 4 are gender B. I don’t know why, but I’m scared to type the embryo gender “out loud.” I consider myself to be a very progressive person. I know it’s dumb to care about gender. I know that we’re going to try to raise our kids as genderless as possible. I’m fine with my kid choosing whatever gender (or no gender) they want to be, but I’ve always dreamed of having a gender A baby. Eventually, I want a gender B baby, as well, but I want a gender A baby first. When we did the the PGS/PGD testing on the first retrieval batch, only one embryo came back normal and it was gender B. I was relieved to have both genders in the second batch. It does feel like after all I’ve been through, it’s my right to choose! All of my friends that have given birth recently have gender B babies. My husband prefers a gender B baby, but I’ve been fantasizing about a gender A baby for so long, that he never tried to stop me from choosing. Anyways, if I have a miscarriage with the gender A embryo they are putting in, I don’t know if I’ll be brave enough to put the last gender A embryo in. I’d be too scared of losing both and letting go of the idea of ever having a gender A baby.

FET: CD16

This morning I went in for an ultrasound appointment with Dr.YM. My biggest follicle measured 19.6mm today so I was sent home with instructions to do the HCG trigger shot this afternoon. My lining was 8.21 – the same as yesterday – so that hasn’t improved at all. Later, the nurse called with my blood work. My estrogen looked good (341), but my LH was starting to surge (31.96), so I have to go in for another ultrasound tomorrow. This will determine whether my transfer will be on Saturday or Sunday. It feels kind of surreal to even be making it to this part of the process.  I met C at home at 3:00pm and he gave me the HCG injection. The amount of liquid was 1ml (I think that’s a lot?) and it wasn’t that pleasant going in.  I’m definitely feeling needle fatigue, and I am glad to be done with the shots and blood draws for now.

Tomorrow, my ultrasound is with my “regular” doctor, but I haven’t seen her since my baseline ultrasound. I like her, but I don’t like change and I’m almost disappointed that it’s not with Dr.YM, although he’s been working every day for the past 2 weeks it seems like and he deserves a day off.

Speaking of change…on Friday morning on the way to work, I rode my bike through glass and messed up my back tire. I’ve had the old tires for almost 3 years. They are white and make me feel cool. I went to the bike store near my work to get new tires, and they no longer make the same tire that fits my bike in white.  It was annoying timing as I was really looking forward to riding my bike to work a lot this week, because it’s actually dry all week in Seattle and I know I won’t ride for a while after the transfer. When I was driving home today, I got really overwhelmed and started to cry thinking about how I can’t have the same tires. I know it sounds stupid, but it felt pretty symbolic of how my life might change if I have a baby. It just seems so fitting that my tire got messed up one week before my transfer.

Obviously, I’d rather have a baby than white tires. So I bought some black ones. And it’s going to be okay.

FET: CD15

Finally — it’s 2017!

C & I had a dinner party last night for the last night of Hanukkah. It took my mind off IVF for a while, but we kicked everyone out at 11pm and fell asleep before the Space Needle fireworks started at midnight. We have a good view from our deck, but I was just too tired to stay up this year.

I had my CD15 appointment this morning. It was nice to get coffee and walk to the appointment alone in the quiet, empty streets. Dr.YM was very nice and clear about his intentions again today and I still trust him. My biggest follicle was 17mm and and my lining had increased a little to 8.21mm. Dr.YM had looked at my lining results during some previous ultrasounds and said that it had always been around 8mm, so he wasn’t too worried. He also said that I would likely be ready for a trigger tomorrow, pending my blood work. My nurse let me know that they needed to see my estrogen go up and my LH stay the same or they would have to cancel the cycle. Of course this made me pretty nervous waiting for the results of my blood tests.

While waiting for the results, C & I decided to make our annual New Years Day trek to the Lego store to get the new “adult” modular lego set.  (C & I are super nerds and have been buying at least one of these sets every year since 2010. One of these sets was our first purchase together, back when we had no money.) Sadly, we are out of dedicated shelf space and I’m not sure where it will go once we put it together. I decided before we went to the store that we aren’t going to put it together until I get bad news in this FET cycle. I know that’s really negative thinking, but at least if we have a setback, I can have something to look forward to.

Right before we got to the store, my nurse called.  She said she had good news – that my estrogen had gone up to 277 and my LH was stable at 12.79 – hooray! I have to go in for another appointment tomorrow morning and, if everything looks good, I will do the trigger shot tomorrow afternoon.

I really hope my theory about the odd years being the best years holds true for 2017, even if it’s just random luck.