Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ultrasound Anticipation

It is still 10 days away, but I am actually beginning to believe this is a viable pregnancy.  My symptoms went away for a day or so last week, and I completely freaked out.  My cousin, who went through 5 years of fertility treatments and NEVER got pregnant, was in town, and I told her how worried I was.  She agreed that she would be the same way if she had ever gotten pregnant, but in my case she was pretty sure that all was fine.  For whatever reason, possibly because I want to so badly, I choose to believe her.  She's more like a sister to me, and from that moment forward I felt better.  Better, actually meaning, that I feel physically worse.  Symptoms have returned and ramped up with a vengeance.  Happy to report still no real signs of morning sickness.  We have officially reached 6 weeks,  and I am told that if it's coming it should show any time.  Cramping, constipation, and being completely exhausted most of the time has become standard.  In fact I am struggling to write this blog entry before I fall asleep yet again! 

Anyway, tomorrow is June 1.  I am just excited for it to be June 'cause when our u/s was scheduled for JUNE two weeks ago, it felt like forever.  It's still 10 days away, but somehow being in June makes it all better.  June is also an important month because it marks the 2 year anniversary of closing on our beautiful home, and it is my grandmother's birthday.   It seems only right to mention the birthday of the wonderful woman who helped make this miracle a reality by funding Project Baby Sunshine.  Happy Birthday, Grams!  I had two great-grandmothers when I was born, but our children will only have one.  One day I will tell them all you did to bring them to life.  Saying thank you seems so trivial, but I suppose it's a start.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am a lunatic

I really hope that after a few weeks I stop worrying so much and can enjoy this pregnancy a little bit.  This last week I went to see my PCP to have my thyroid checked as Mary Shomon suggests in her book.  My TSH was already up to a 7, presumably from my little embies sucking the hormone out of me.  As of February I was holding strong at 2.6, so this discovery was very alarming.  She immediately increased my dosage to .150 per day.  I hope it's enough.  I called my OB/GYN the next day to ask about my blood pressure medication and the new Synthroid dose.  The nurse I spoke with said that my doc was OK with everything I was taking and looked forward to seeing me when I was released from the RE.  I thought for sure she would want to see me early since I am high risk.  Guess not.  So now all I can do is wait 15 days until our ultrasound and pray that there will be one or two healthy heartbeats.  I've got nothing to go on but some cramps, sore boobs and a lot of faith.  Oh, and I have allowed myself to pee on two sticks since our beta last Monday.  Both positive, of course.  I need to go buy some more....

Monday, May 18, 2009

Holy Moly! Big Fat Positive!

Let me begin by saying, yes, I am late in blogging about this.  But I think after 18 months of infertility it is still a little difficult for me to believe that I am actually pregnant.  I also felt like this post was super important and shouldn't be jumped in to until I had the proper time and energy to do it justice.  However, if I waited until I could find the words to describe the last week of my life I would never get there.  It's been a crazy ride.

Mother's Day was 4 days after our transfer.  I knew it was too early to test, and I restrained myself.  Monday after work I started spotting, not much, but enough to freak me out and be convinced that Aunt Flo was headed to town.  After the spotting incident I asked Pierce to give me my PIO shot, so I could go to sleep and not think about it anymore.  The next morning I tested, and it was negative.  I cried for several hours.  I begged God to not let this happen and questioned where we would get the money to go it again.  I was a mess.

We went out to lunch, and I went in to work for a meeting later in the day.  Meanwhile, the day before's spotting had not progressed.  I began to feel a bit of optimism creeping back in.  I decided I wouldn't test on Wednesday but would on Thursday.  If the blood was implantation, I wanted to give the little one enough time to burrow in and start producing lots of HCG.  Thursday morning, STILL NEGATIVE.  But it's worse than negative because there is this crazy evaporation line that COULD be a second line if you look at it sideways while standing on the vanity with the stick up against the light.  Seriously!  I left for work and asked Pierce to please go get some other kind of test 'cause the Dollar Tree was about to push me over the edge.

I held my pee for 4 hours on Thursday night so that I could take the Clear Blue Easy tests, one plus/minus, one digital.  Unbelievably, they both came up positive immediately! 

I laughed and cried and screamed.  I have never seen this before.  I felt like someone was playing a trick on me.  I didn't sleep at all that night.

Friday morning was our beta draw.  Pierce got the phone call around 3:00.  Beta was 196!  The average beta at 14dpo is 100.  He called me at work to give me the news.  All of sudden it was real: We are pregnant!!!!  Our second beta was drawn today and came back at 784.  That's quadruple Friday's number, and all it needed to be was double.  They are very happy with these numbers, so there won't be a third beta.  In fact I won't be going to the RE's office again until June 10 for our scheduled sonogram.   I will be seven weeks along at that point, and we will be able to see the heartbeat(s).  We did transfer two beautiful blasts, so now we have to wonder just how many little heartbeats there will be.  If you have a hunch or an educated guess based on these random beta numbers, please take my poll to the left.  I think I may go batty between now and June 10.  I can't honestly remember the last time I didn't go to the doctor for three weeks.  I will probably keep peeing on sticks to reassure myself.

Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful miracle!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here they are!!

For anyone who isn't channeling their inner science geek or isn't a regular reader of Dr. Liccardi's blog or doesn't spend hours a week scanning pictures of embryos on countless IVF clinic websites, these are nearly perfect blastocysts, our nearly perfect blastocysts.  They are 5 day-old babies-to-be that have been carefully cultivated and grown in a lab to 100 beautiful cells each.  The embryologist graded the one on the lower left an "A" and quickly added that they almost never give out A's. She said the one on the right is almost as perfect, but they gave it a B+.  Pierce thinks he sees a penis in the one on the right.  I told him that he was probably right since that one wasn't as good as the other!  

Just a few fun facts about blasts:

Day 5 is the preferred day for embryo transfer because at this stage it is clear which embryos are the best.  10-20% of normal fertilized embryos from day 1 will make good quality blastocysts.  We had 7 fertilize normally and 3 blasts on day 5, so our % is 43.  Pretty darn good!

On day 5 it is easy to distinguish between the inner cell mass, which becomes the baby and the trophoblast, the other cells that become the placenta.  

I have spent many hours looking at them already.  I cried when the embryologist handed the picture to me.  All that fear of having rotten eggs was gone in an instant with her comment, "Lots of 30 year-old women would kill to make embryos as good as these," a la Meryl Streep in The Devils Wears Prada.  She then went on to explain that about 30% of every woman's eggs are bad, and sometimes it's really hard to find good ones, regardless of age.  She also confessed that she too had been through IVF, and she was at least 5 years younger than me.  All of this made me feel a little less like a freak and a little more humbled by the three little miracles that had been living in lab dishes labeled with my social.

Emotional stuff aside, the procedure was very "wham bam".  I put on my fancy hospital gown and was given Valium by All Business Nurse.  I began chugging water about 45 minutes before the scheduled procedure as I needed to have a full bladder.  Anyone who knows me knows that I drink water all of the time and, consequently, pee just as often.  The catch here was that I had to hold it for a least 45 minutes until procedure time, throughout the quick procedure that involved a speculum, a catheter and some definite pressure down there, and then for another hour in recovery.  Torture, I say!  Pierce got to help wheel me in to the OR and hold my hand throughout.  He also got a fancy outfit, and I took this pic shortly before they wheeled me in, 40 minutes late (remember, bladder still full!)

We left the hospital about 3 hours after we arrived, and again I was wheeled out to the curb since I had had Valium.  I laugh because I am not sure that it really did anything for me.  We drove home with strict orders for 48 hours of bed rest and a release stating that it was not possible for me to laugh, cry, sneeze, pee or poop my embryos out.  I guess they knew what laying around for 48 hours would do to me.  

But I made it through.  I received a phone call from the embryologist on Thursday to let me know that our 3rd early blast had done well over night and made it to freeze.  For those of you who were keeping track, I said we had 3 blasts on day 5, but only 2 came home with us.  The other is frozen for our future use or possibly to be donated if the Lord blesses us with twins. I returned to work yesterday, and I feel fine other than the soreness from my PIO shots.  My beta is Friday, and I am still trying to decide if and when I will POAS.  I am sure I will because I will need the forewarning.  I had sort of thought about doing it today, but I think it's really too soon.  There would definitely be some kind of magic to finding out on Mother's Day, but I wouldn't be able to handle the opposite.  Today is a tough day for those of us who haven't been able to cross over to the other side.  I'd rather find out on a day that means nothing and turn it into our own special day.  Hmmmm...well this coming Wednesday is the one year anniversary of our first consultation with the RE.  Hopefully, he has knocked this one up just under the wire.

Thank you for all of the comments and well wishes.  They truly mean the world to me.
I will close with a pic of the candle we lit in church for our embryos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's Transfer Day!

In just a few hours my little embryos are coming home!  They should be full-grown, 100-cell blastocysts by now.  So grown up!  I can't wait to meet them.  I love them already!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The rollercoaster ride continues....

This morning I was just kinda hanging out in my pj's, waiting to take a shower just before our appointment for the transfer.  At about 9:00 I get a call from the lab. "Yes, is this Sunshine?  This is Holly from the ARTs lab.  I'm calling to let you know that Dr. B is recommending that we push to a 5 day transfer on Wednesday."  My mouth is wide open, but nothing is coming out.  "Why?" I finally find my voice. "Well," she explains, "right now you have 4 embryos that are excellent and 3 that are good.  It's impossible for us to tell which ones are the best.  If you come in today, we will have to be more aggressive, but if we wait until Wednesday we will know which two are the best blasts."  I know in the logical side of my brain that this is great news.  They are all excelling!  Our little embies are rockstars!  But of course my overly hormonal, hating surprises self was a total mess.  After countless messages to my boss about me not coming in, I had to call back and say, "Yes, please disregard.  Just kidding.  I'll be there just as soon as I shower.  I'll explain later!"  So Wednesday it is.  The other thing I loved about the phone call was Holly explaining that the only reason they assumed it would be a three day transfer is because of my age.  Apparently being old does not matter to my little embies.  Keep the prayers coming:  they are definitely working!!!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

OMG! This is all happening so fast!!!

OK, I am going to go backwards with updates, so I am sure I will lose you all by the end of this. Yesterday was our egg retrieval, and they got 11 eggs!  We went to the hospital at 7, and the retrieval was scheduled for 8:15.  Well Dr. B was 45 minutes late, but once he got there things went quickly.  The only pain involved in the process was getting my IV, and the nurses had me laughing so hard that even that wasn't too bad!  They rolled me into the ER and had me change to the table.  They turned down the lights so they could read the ultrasound screen, and then the drugs kicked in.  I was out for about a half an hour and woke up with a heating pad on my belly and a nurse offering up Vicodin.  At that point they told me that there were 11 eggs, but they were continuing to look for more.  This was also Pierce's cue to go make his contribution.  He said the room was beyond weird and filled with Playboys and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions.  I thought for sure there would be movies, but he said no.  Somehow he managed to make it work, and he rejoined me in recovery in no time.

After using the bathroom I was released and wheeled out to the curb.  We were home before 11. I tried to rest, but I was going nuts!  I took some Darvocet for pain and knocked myself out. This morning the phone could not ring soon enough.  I woke up at 5:30 and never fell back to sleep.  I was having a crazy dream that my baby sister, Jennifer, who died when she was 8 days old, was sending me text messages from the lab to let me know that she was watching over our eggs for us.  It was crazy but felt really real.  At 12 they finally decided to stop torturing us and called.  Here's the stats:  11 retrieved, 9 mature and ICSI'd, 7 fertilized normally but they are watching the other 2 to see if they are late bloomers.  Our transfer will likely be Monday.  They will call me tomorrow to confirm or push to 5 day.

Since I said I was going backwards, I will now give the follicle sizes at our last follie check (Wednesday) before triggering.  My lining was at 16.5, healthy as ever.  Right ovary had 9 measurable follicles at 15.5, 17.5, 16, 19.5, 20, 17, 14.5, 8, and 9.  Left ovary had 11 measurable follicles at 21, 14.5, 19.5, 16.5, 17.5, 10.5, and 5 less than or equal to 9.  We knew that anything 15 or higher had a good chance of producing a mature egg, so it was time to trigger.  In the middle of all of this, my boss's father passed away, so I have had no contact with her about any of this.  I had to suck it up and tell another supervisor so that someone would know where I was this weekend.  That was so incredibly stressful for me!

So I can't believe we have 7 growing embryos!  I really was scared that they would call me and tell me that none of them were viable.  That would certainly explain why we haven't been able to get pregnant, but that doesn't appear to be the problem.  I start PIO injections tomorrow, and I have 2 black circles on my butt so Pierce knows where to go.  I am encouraged that I already have a great lining.  I am beginning to believe that this actually could work!  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I still feel like I am hanging on a thread!