27 August, 2016

8 Weeks 3 Days

In five days, I will graduate from my fertility clinic.
I have mixed feelings about that.
I loved my clinic. They have been a picture of support and knowledge. The staff know me well and we have easy conversations whenever I go in for a visit. It will be a bittersweet visit on Thursday. I cannot wait to see my little one's heartbeat again and be engaged enough to ask a myriad of questions instead of being dumbstruck at hearing the noise coming from inside myself. Sadly, my regular endocrinologist will be out of town for our last visit, but as a consolation, I will get to see my favorite nurse.
This past week was my first week of school. I thankfully rarely feel queasy, but instead experience continual aversions to all foods except fruit. Fruit always sounds good. I miraculously seldom felt complete exhaustion until Thursday evening came around. By 7:00, I was in the middle of an accidental, solid thirty minute nap. Upon waking, I quickly went to bed. This year, the students have more energy than in previous years, but I will have a fun time with the kids.
I received my first refill of heparin this afternoon. I was slightly worried because we placed the order on Wednesday and ran out this morning. The pharmacist did not have the drug restocked and called around to other pharmacies for us. After while, he realized he did have some heparin, it was just in individual dose containers as opposed to vials that have four doses in them. We also briefly chatted about needles and he threw in a handful of insulin needles free of charge for us to try out to see if I like them any better. Husband asked what the cost of the heparin would be without insurance coverage. $200 a month. Not that this child isn't worth it, but I am glad we do not have to spend $2000 on heparin for the pregnancy.
After the pain, grief, and hassle of getting to this point in my pregnancy, I would gladly take a dozen shots a day, but taking two is irritating (literally and figuratively). On the day I had back to school night, I showed off my bruised stomach to my two coworkers. (One of them did not believe that it was bad enough to make me stop wearing pants. I only wear knit skirts these days.) Let me just tell you that they both were shocked by how black and blue I am. Some weeks are worse than others. I think husband and I are improving our shot techniques, but I am sure the injection sites will always show some color and be tender to the touch.
I will go to my (new) regular OB on the 7th, but it is just for bloodwork and paperwork. (I was tempted to tell the nice older lady on the phone that I have done just about every type of blood work possible for a pregnancy and couldn't I just transfer the information over?) I get to meet the actual OB on the 13th, so I will have an appointment a week for the next three weeks.

17 August, 2016

And the Results are In

Let's backtrack slightly. The week after I had my first blood draw, I went in for the second blood draw. I was not as nervous for that blood draw. Because my first hcg level was so high, I was not concerned with a chemical pregnancy, but a woman can miscarry extremely easily during the first few weeks of being pregnant. The second hcg level came back at 13,268. That meant that my numbers were doubling approximately every 36 hours. Doctors like to see doubling happening at every 48 hours (or faster). They scheduled my ultrasound, told me to keep taking the drugs, and sent me on my way.
Today I had an appointment that I was more terrified for than any other appointment. I went in to hopefully see the heartbeat of my healthy offspring. This was a monumental appointment for a major reason.
Reason: I've never seen a live baby on an ultrasound.
The anticipation for today brought me feelings of fear and excitement. I know that blood tests of all types can be incorrect. The first time I was pregnant, my hcg levels were over 150,000 when I started to miscarry. That was not a fun experience.
I had meetings all morning until the appointment. One of my coworkers was extremely kind and carried my heavy boxes for me. I fidgeted madly until the hour I could sneak away from the meeting to rush out to my car.
During the drive to the clinic, I was literally shaking and almost started to cry. In the back of my mind, I was imagining the worst news possible. I wanted to live in the  ignorant optimism of pretending I was pregnant instead of receiving bad news.
After waiting for what seemed like four hours, I was finally taken back and got ready for the ultrasound.
One of the adorable ultrasound technicians came in and got straight to the point. (I am sure she knew I did not want anything else. Show me my baby! I don't want to do smalltalk.) She put the wand in the proper location and we saw a gray blur! We saw our alien baby. The baby is still technically an embryo and I know it is tiny (probably around 1/4 inch), but it was the most beautiful blur I have ever seen. I was excited to see my baby, but I was even more excited for what came next.
"Hold your breath and let's listen to that heartbeat."
That was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. (It was a day filled with several "most beautiful" moments.) The baby's heart is beating at 137 beats per minute. From what I have read, the chance of miscarriage goes down to approximately 5-7% if you hear the heartbeat at seven weeks. I have never heard the heartbeat of my offspring before. (The technician asked if we wanted a baby that has red, curly hair. I thought that was a great idea.)
What's the plan now? I will go in in two more weeks for my final appointment. They will give me my fat folder of medical information and I will go to a regular old ob the next week. I felt great relief as soon as we scheduled our final appointment at the fertility clinic (for this pregnancy). I cannot believe that I will be done with them on September 1. It's a miracle. If husband and I did not have the help of science, we probably would never be able to conceive a viable baby. Don't you just love science?

I love that the technician labeled the baby. I really hope some women go in expecting to see a miniature baby shape.

The Results

This post was originally written on Friday July 29, one day after I did my beta blood test.

Yesterday was agony. As the day progressed, I became less and less sure. I was unsure about the pregnancy tests I had taken. I was becoming positive that I had a chemical pregnancy. Basically, I felt definitively that I was not pregnant. IVF round 1 was a failure.
The time was around 2:00. I pulled out my trusty laminator to 5th grade-proof some supplies for this upcoming school year. Husband grabbed the overflowing trash bag in the kitchen and headed outside. In the back of my mind, I began to wonder why he was gone for so long. It takes all of thirty seconds to take the trash out and he had been gone for over a minute. I ignored the back of my mind's thoughts and continued with the lamination.
As husband came through the front door, I heard him talking on the phone. Immediately my suspicions were aroused. Especially when he said something to the effect of, "That's very good news!"
The traitor! He had called the clinic! At random intervals throughout the morning, he encouraged me to call, but as I had never gotten through to a nurse immediately, I continually declined.
He finished the call and told me the news. The test came back positive! The entire time I was hoping for a good, strong number. I wanted the number to be over 100. I was definitely successful. The number came back at 526!
The rest of the day,  I was in slight shock. My coordinator eventually called and gave me heparin instructions.
I am still in disbelief.
Is it really happening? Finally? After so many tries and miscarriages?
I can breathe a bit easier. I can smile more. I can slightly grimace with the heparin injections. (Two down, approximately 360 to go.)
I will go in next week for another blood draw to make sure everything is progressing the way we want it to.

This is it!

On Pregnancy Tests

Written July 27, the evening prior to my beta blood test.

I have taken a number of home pregnancy tests in my day. The ironic thing is that more of those have turned up positive rather than negative. A great majority of these tests revolve around checking my hcg levels as opposed to seeing if I am pregnant. The first miscarriage took nearly 7 weeks for the levels to drop to a point where I was not considered pregnant anymore. Before this month, I had only taken three pregnancy tests that were a bonafide positive.
On Saturday, I was hanging out on vacation at my aunt's house when I decided that I wanted to test on my own. I stopped at the local Target with baby brother and sister in tow (no questions asked from them) to buy my four pregnancy tests. That night, I dreamed that I was teaching, but the only thing on my mind was taking a pregnancy test.
Sunday morning, I tried to be nonchalant as I rushed into the bathroom next door to the bedroom for the test. Truth be told, I wanted it to be negative. Not because I do not want to be pregnant. (You do not spend the money we have spent only to wish eternal infertility.) I wanted it to be negative because I had recently injected myself with hcg to trigger ovulation. After that trigger, I was asked to take a pregnancy test to ensure the drugs had worked. Those drugs can stay in one's system for a varying amount of time. I only took half a dose which, upon research, would have probably only stayed in my system for approximately five days. But you never know. If I had the money and the patience, I would have tested the drug out and then continued testing until the wished for positive.
On the first day I tested, I was 6dp5dt (six days past a five day transfer). It was also thirteen days after the shot I gave myself. I started to get excited, but remained cautious. I mentioned my dilemma to my roommate (baby sister) and showed husband upon arriving home again.
What to do other than test the next three days until the day before my official beta blood test?
Monday? Positive.
Tuesday? Also positive.
This morning? Wednesday? Fast positive.
I only hope that tomorrow I will go in for the beta test and they will give me a nice, strong number. Even if they give me great numbers for the beta and the other blood tests, I will not believe I am pregnant until I see the first ultrasound.
Even though I have been pregnant three time prior, I have never seen my baby alive on an ultrasound. It's a little heartbreaking.
We are acting as though I am pregnant. We painted this afternoon and I wore a mask to protect against the fumes. I have been eating more eggs for lean proteins. I am an expert at this point in a pregnancy. I am also an expert at miscarrying soon. If I receive a positive phone call tomorrow, I will probably start on heparin. Twice a day. Two shots a day. Every day of the pregnancy. But guess what? I am excited for it. I am excited to (probably) feel queasy again. I am excited for all the aches and pains of pregnancy. Because I have had to work and wait for them for so long.
Here's to a strong number tomorrow.

06 August, 2016

The Best Way to Deal with Emotions

Today is not the day. I will discuss the results of IVF #1 in just under two weeks. Today I am going to talk about emotions.
A dear friend from college reached out to me to say that she had been through some similar nasty infertility stuff and we decided we needed to get together. (It had almost been a year since I had seen her, so it was about time anyway.) We met at a local drink shop and got caught up on each other's lives and naturally transitioned into the trial of infertility. Of all the ironic circumstances, she just so happens to go to the same clinic I attend and we even see the same doctor.
It was wonderful to be able to be so extremely real with someone in a conversation about all the terrible emotions and thoughts I have had since starting this process to someone who 100% understands and can relate to what I have been through. I have loved my support system of husband and a few close relatives (including an amazing aunt who went through this process years ago), but being able to talk to someone going through this currently was amazing.
We discussed the horrors of baby showers, the dread of a baby announcement, and the sheer sorrow that arrives each month when it just did not work out again. She gets it. It sounds terrible to say that I cry when I see baby announcements (hence my absence from social media sites the last year) or that I avoid gatherings of new mothers. You could never quite understand unless you have been through the mess. I am definitely not upset at the friends that have babies. The tears are for myself because it is a continual reminder that I do not have that.
After having the wonderful conversation with her, we made plans to see each other soon. She had a procedure two days after we met. She texted me after a successful injection and I thought about her at the time of the procedure. I am crossing my fingers that we can still see each other once the school year starts (let's face it: I do not have much of a social life when mid-August hits). Even if we do not meet up quite as often, it will be nice to have the support and to be a support.