6dp5dt

6 days post 5 day transfer.

Number of pregnancy tests taken: 2.  Results both times: Negative.  We took the first 2dp5dt (that’s right – 2 days – pathetic I know, but Ryan talked me into it) and the second 5dp5dt.  What do the negatives mean?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe I am pregnant but just not far along enough yet for the test to detect the HCG.

But maybe I’m not pregnant at all.  Ryan and I both came out of the transfer feeling optimistic and agreeing that our guts were telling us YES this is going to WORK.  But slowly we both are changing our minds.  The biggest indication that I may not be pregnant is that I’m feeling great.  The moderate OHSS symptoms disappeared in a day or two, and my body feels totally back to normal.  If I were experiencing very early pregnancy, shouldn’t I be feeling kind of crappy?

I have had mild, sporadic cramping, which is consistent with how I normally feel a week before I start my period.  My boobs have also been really sore, but that might be the progesterone and estrogen I’m taking.  No spotting or bleeding.  A little emotional, but then again I’m taking hormones and possibly premenstrual.

Today is Monday, I need to make it to Thursday for the blood draw.

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Transfer

Today we transferred a “beautiful” 5 day blast.  There are 6 others that will be frozen, possibly a couple more depending on how they look tomorrow.

In a nutshell, the last few days have been uncomfortable.

I expected the recovery from the retrieval to be quick; I went to work the day after, but was in so much pain by noon that I came home on my lunch break and laid on the couch.  Couldn’t eat or drink, just waited for the throbbing in my head and ovaries and the distended stomach to subside.  The cramping eventually went away, but not the feeling of fullness or bloating.  I can’t take a deep breath or eat a big meal; there simply is no room in my torso.

Today the doctor confirmed my ailments and said I am borderline overstimulated.  He gave us the option of freezing the embryos and coming back later for a transfer after my body recovered.  If we did a fresh transfer and it lead to pregnancy, I was at risk of my symptoms getting worse before they get better.

Well after confirming that a fetus would not be harmed by my over stimulation, I said let’s TRANSFER! I am here, I am anxious, let’s do this!!

So we did – hooray!  I am told to eat a “high protein and Gatorade diet” which is as odd as it sounds.  Salt, meat, Gatorade and not much else will help drain the fluids in my body.  I am told to avoid fruits and vegetables and dairy, which is torture for me and also counterintuitive to a healthy pregnancy diet, but it’s only until my symptoms improve. My blood test date is 8/17.

The final interesting piece of news today was when we spoke with the embryologist about Ryan’s sperm.  Ryan produced a fresh sample the day of the retrieval with a count of 2.5M – better than his frozen sample back in May that he dieted months to prepare for.  The lab saw no bent necks, no cause for concern, and did not have to use the frozen sample at all.  The embryologist had no idea whatsoever what could have been going on 2 years ago when our IVF cycle was canceled.  The embryologist laughed and said “clearly you fertilize just fine!”  They told us again what healthy looking embryos we have – and a lot!

Today I feel so blessed.  I thank God,  I praise Him for science and for His timing and for healthy embryos.  We have a successful cycle behind us – and now we wait!

 

Egg Retrieval

We did the retrieval yesterday  – CD 12.  Are you ready for this?  They got 29 eggs, 26 mature.  They call me a “high responder.” Today I will hear how many fertilized.

Of course my body performing well was expected.  As far as we know, no issues there.  Ryan produced a fresh sample and the miraculous news was the Doctor told us “the sample looked good, you probably won’t need the frozen back up.”  WHAT?! Ryan worked so hard to get that beautiful sample frozen, and in the last few months he has not been careful AT ALL about diet or lifestyle habits.  We’ll see.

It was quick; we arrived at the clinic at 7:30 a.m., left by 10:00 a.m. and went home to watch movies and pet our cats.  All day I had pain, but not terrible – similar to period cramps but not quite.

It feels so good to have the bulk of the work behind us, and everything now is in God’s hands – as well as the embryologist’s. I’ve felt bloated and stuffed full of eggs since I started doing injections, and still feel like I did 2,000 transverse abdominal sit ups.  I am looking forward to being able to resume exercise and feel better, and I’m alllmost there.  I am taking next week off work (I ended up telling my boss I am having “minor surgery,” but gave no specifics) and am SO looking forward to a break, a transfer, and low stress.  I told my boss I’d be “on call” this week for blood work and consultations, and fortunately he was out of town for part of the time so didn’t realize how much I was gone.   Again, I’m glad to have the burden of coordinating time off behind me as well.

We did it.  We did an IVF cycle.

We are both happy.  Ryan tells me he’s excited.  He used to stress and hate that sample room so much, but lately he’s resigned himself to it and started to see nothing but humor in the situation.  For this reason he was a giggly mess while sitting with me in recovery, recounting his experience, and the nurses told us that was a good sign.  “So many couples come in here stressed and worried.”  We’ve definitely been that couple before, and will be again, but yesterday we were lighthearted.

Will those sperm have bent necks, and will they fertilize?  The doctors say it should be successful.  We will hear about it today.

UPDATE: Of the 26 mature, 19 were fertilized.  They say this is above average.  Holy Cow! Ryan’s sperm came through! We will hear more on Monday regarding how many made it to day 5.  Transfer day set for Tuesday.

Stim Day/ CD 11: Trigger Shot and a good hormonal cry

The estradiol is increasing, which they say is good, but at a peculiarly slow rate compared to the wild growth of my follicles.  Dr. still ok’d me for the trigger shot last night, CD 10, and I left the office with specific instructions and times on when to take my last injections of menopur, follistim, ganirelix and the HCG and Lupron triggers.

I told the case manager “I think I’m out of ganirelix,” but she insisted I wasn’t.  They ship in packs of 5, and it was my 5th day, so she was certain I had some.  So I happily went to work and when I came home in the evening for my shots I looked in my gigantic bag ‘o drugs and guess what, no ganirelix.  The case manager counted wrong, and it was day 6, not 5, and I had used up all my injections.  I wasn’t sure how critical ganirelix was, but I do know that it prevents ovulation, so was I supposed to still trigger if I was at risk of ovulating?

In the next hour I proceeded to call the after-hours messaging line no less than 15 times and got disconnected every single time.  I had a small meltdown.  Ok, a proper meltdown.  Cried, texted angry texts to Ryan, cursed the case manager and envisioned all $18K lost and a cycle canceled.

I finally got through on the answering line at 8 pm, 2.5 hours after I was supposed to do the injection.  They called the doctor but couldn’t get through.  I was supposed to take the trigger at 8:30, and waited until 8:45 and called one last time to see if I could get the doctor before injecting $1K worth of drugs in me and effectively ringing a bell that can’t be un-rung.  No response.

So I triggered at 8:45.

The doctor called me back at 9 pm, sounding slightly annoyed, and said “you don’t need ganirelix.  I wouldn’t have included that in your protocol anyway.  Go for blood work in the morning and you should be fine.”

Seriously?  Is the medication protocol that cavalier? Whatever.  I expended enough anger prior to this call to still be irritated, so I went to sleep, got up at 5 do drive an hour, over the fog embanked Golden Gate and into San Francisco for blood work.  Egg retrieval scheduled for tomorrow, CD 12, unless I get a call today regarding something in my lab….

In all honesty, the tears, the tantrum, the release of emotion last night felt pretty darn good.

Stim Day/ Cycle Day 9 and My Bod

“You have a good body.” Ryan texts me. Where is this going, husband of 5 years…? “It does what it’s told.” Ah. Truth, brother.

My estradiol took a big leap today – what a sigh of relief. Back for bloodwork/ US tomorrow, and tomorrow night will most likely be the trigger.

I am knee deep in unchartered territory with my body.  Between injections, follicle counts, anesthesia, surgery, embryo transfers and (hopefully!!) pregnancy, this vessel of muscle and bones needs to give the performance of a lifetime, and it’s rising to the occasion. That estradiol scare was out of character, and I’m glad to see things back on track. Well done, bod.

While I have a healthy, body, I do not have a thin body, and for that reason I haven’t always had such warm sentiments towards my self image.  I am active and a relatively healthy eater, and hailed from a home where both nature and nurture produced two skinny, small-boned and long-limbed, sisters, but my body just likes being a little larger. In High School, fully grown at 5’7.5″ I was a size 12 and 175 lbs. Sure, there have been times when I dropped some major weight. Like Freshmen year of college when I was on a seizure medicine that caused me to lose all interest in food (as well as people, school, work, and staying awake in general). I switched medications and gained the weight back.  Later, this Rx was pulled from the shelves.

There were diets where I would practically starve myself to get down to – gasp – a size 8!! I even kept it off for a couple years, but my social life and sanity paid dearly since my entire existence revolved around weighing and measuring and calorie counting. It wasn’t worth it. Just recently I’ve finally understood what “the body is a temple” truly means.  Our bodies are astounding mechanisms, full of scientifically wondrous faculties and created in the likeness of Christ.  I want to go forth in life trusting it’s remarkable capabilities to signal fullness, hunger and cravings, and not screw up my metabolism with man-made numerical targets.

Today, at 33, I’m not sure what I weigh, but it’s probably right around where I was in high school.  This body, this meat suit I wear, simply runs big. But IVF does not care if I am skinny – only that I am in good health. And in 33 years this body has never needed surgery or had a major injury. It’s strong, it’s sturdy, it never gets sick.  Even my brain, born with faulty neurons and prone to seizures, has healed itself over time. Yes, I still wince at the sight of myself in a bathing suit. But there are times when I see beautiful definition and muscle tone.  Thanks to the likes of the Kardashians and Niki Minaj, my butt and thighs might even be considered a good thing these days.  At the gym, I may be one of the larger women in the mirror, but I can outperform them all, and that feels incredible.  Yes, I am privileged (dare I say even thankful?) to experience my days on Earth in this 175-lb instrument, because look what it can do!

IVF is not for the faint of heart.  Fortunately, I’m enduring this journey in my #1 vessel of choice.  I trust this one I have, I’ve taken care of it, and I know it intimately. This body may never have great sex appeal or look good naked, it may always struggle to be “normal” according to the damned BMI index, but it is nonetheless extraordinary.

We got this, bod.  I have faith in you.  Injections, medications, anesthesia, stress?  We can do this in our sleep.

Cycle/ Stim Days 7&8 – and Slow Rising Estradiol

Saturday (CD 6) I woke up at 4:45 am to get to the  blood lab by 7:30 and make my ultrasound appointment. The Doctor was again pleased with my quick progress and told me to overnight my Lupron since I’d be most likely doing a trigger shot Monday, retrieval Wednesday. Whooo hooo!

But then I got a call in the afternoon- my blood work came back and the Doctor thought the lab made a mistake since it was so low, the asked me to have my blood drawn again the next morning just to be safe. So up again at the crack of dawn to drive to San Francisco (fortunately I didn’t have to go all the way to the clinic) for blood work. Results are back and it’s still low. Rising, but not as quickly as expected.

So all I can do is google what this means and freak myself out. The nurse called to tell me to come back in AGAIN tomorrow (Monday) and see where I am. Another early morning, 5 hours round trip, bridge toll, gas, you get it. I asked the nurse as much as I could. Why does this mean? Should I be concerned? She told me no, to keep taking my regular dosages and ask the Doctor when I see him tomorrow.

And I pray for the Lord to walk with me through this.

 

Stim Day 5/ Cycle Day 5

 

Today, Thursday, I went in for my 5 day blood work/ ultrasound appointment, and the Doctor says “you are progressing very quickly!” I think 12-13 follicles on one side, 9-10 on the other.  I am instructed to continue the Menopur and Follistim at the same dosages, and to also start Ganirelix tonight.  In two days (Saturday) I will back for another appointment, and Doctor says trigger shot likely for Tues/ Wed of next week.  That means a retrieval next Thurs/ Fri – this is happening fast, and I am very glad about that.

The injections have been ok. Ryan did them at first but I mustered up enough guts to do it myself and it’s really not difficult – very tiny needles.  I have been feeling fine aside from a headache that won’t go away.  Typically, I’d treat it with Advil and caffeine, but not during IVF stim week.  So I muster through, and if this is as bad as the side effects get, it’s not bad at all. I am glad it’s my Friday, though, since thinking and productivity at work have been difficult with a pounding headache and so much else on my mind.

What will the outcome be…? I wonder.  I’m well aware our dreams could die in the petri dish in one week.  After all, we did have a doctor tell us she didn’t think Ryan’s sperm would fertilize.  There might be zero embryos – this is my worst fear. I feel a little like I’m going to be tried for a murder I didn’t commit.  The jury might let me off, and everything will be fine, or I will be convicted to life in prison.  In the blink of an eye, my whole life will be confined to a trajectory I never wanted or could have envisioned.

I realize that sounds a little dramatic, since I know there are worst things than not having children. But I am not at a point where I can say lightly “I give it all to God! Let His will be done!”  I wish I could, but I can’t.  I am still too invested in the hope of having a family, and certainly invested financially and physically in pulling off a good cycle.  To get zero embryos out of the deal would devastate anyone.  Ryan and I will not do a second IVF cycle; we have agreed on only one.

While I struggle with resigning my fate of motherhood to God’s will, I can at least say with confidence that I have complete faith God will deliver me. If this next week brings the worst and everything I have prayed would not happen, I will grieve and mourn and it will be maybe the hardest trial I’ll endure in my lifetime.  But God will still deliver me.  He will eventually bring healing.  I will eventually move on.  It won’t be easy and it won’t be overnight, but if that’s the path God has cut for me in life, I know He will walk it with me.

Enough of the fear. We did have a doctor tell us ICSI may not work, but we also had another doctor and a renowned urologist tell us it should work just fine.  We’ve got a lovely semen sample on ice, and every reason to believe my eggs are top notch.  I find in my gut I am expecting to get good embryos.  We will know one way or another very soon.