Archives for posts with tag: reciprocal IVF

No of course the drama will never end, we’re going to be moms! This first trimester has been full of urgent issues though, and they’re not going away yet!

Saturday was a great pregnancy day, which I will also write a post about… Until the nighttime. We went to see The Hobbit, which was incredible, so much better than the other Hobbit movies that it was more like a Lord of the Rings movie! Before it started I ran to pee (which I still do every thirty minutes) and when I wiped, there was bright red blood. Again? Oh, please, after this amazing day and being 13 weeks already, please don’t go away little girl, please stay.

Back in here theater I told J what was happening. We decided to stay, since we’ve been through this before, but moved our seats from the middle of the theater to some of the empty handicap seats in the bottom row so I could keep going to the bathroom to check on things. I was worried, but I kind of knew it was okay because it had happened three times before. It wasn’t very much, and the two other times I went to check on it, it was only a little bit of blood, not as much as previous bleeds.

The fun continued when we arrived home. It was pouring rain and we were wet, which may have had something to do with the electric shock I gave myself. I plugged my phone in and texted my mom about the blood, but my phone charger cord is frayed and I felt a small zap in my fingers, followed by a shock sensation in my left abdomen. I’ve never electrocuted myself before. Since it was too late to call anyone we started googling. It turns out pregnant women do electrocute themselves at home enough to have many forum discussions. Most women were okay, but I also found one study in which women who gave themselves large shocks that went from their hand, through their uterus, to their feet lost their fetuses or had serious birth defects.

We were still worried about it in the morning so I called the nurse emergency line, who advised me to go to urgent care.

Mind you, I just had an ultrasound on Friday. I feel like I’m at the doctor all the time! I don’t have another appointment until February, and I was honestly relieved to be done with them for awhile, but there I was, back in a waiting room.

The Sunday afternoon urgent care doctor had no ultrasound machine or Doppler on hand, but they called an Ob-Gyn down from the emergency room, machine in tow! She was so very nice and spent a long time showing us our healthy little girl. As you can see from the ultrasound pic below, she’s in a very skeletal phase this week, growing all kinds of cheek, jaw and back bones! You can even see the tiny beads of her vertebrae. She also jumped up and down at one point, even though she’s face down! I have a workout video in which you place your hands on a step up box and jump your feel out and up behind you; she did a movement like that! So cute. The doctor said, “I’m not doing that, she’s doing that on her own!”

This is the second pic in a row that she’s face down, but the doctors said that she changes positions a few times a day until later on. She’s probably like me, flipping around in her sleep all the time!

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All was calm again until this morning, when more drama ensued. I had to go to our fertility clinic for a final (hopefully) progesterone check. I got up at 5:45, really nauseous and gagging. Morning sickness has been calm for the past couple of days, so I was disappointed at how crummy I felt. I threw up bile while getting ready. On the way to the clinic I ate some breakfast, but felt increasingly horrible and threw everything up when I arrived. When I got to work I was crying out of sheer desperation, and my coworkers were so amazing, urging me to go home and promising to contact my clients for me. I gagged the whole way home and threw up again when I got here.

I’ve taken two doses of Zofran today, more than I have before, and slept for two hours. I kept down a grilled cheese, soup and a muffin (yes, my 1st trimester diet).

I know that there will still be a lot of worry and discomfort for the duration of the pregnancy and far beyond, but I’m really ready to start enjoying things. I got a glimpse of it on Saturday morning (will post) and I truly feel that once this tri is over, things are going to change for the better! I can’t wait.

Sorry this is so long. By the way, I wrote a post called “Annoying Doctor” yesterday but it posted a few days back and I don’t think many readers saw it. I’m only bringing it up because I’m curious what you amazing, strong and well-opinioned women will think of it, if you have time to take a look!

I know a lot of you are in frustrating TTC cycles or early pregnancy, which is the hardest part I think, so I’m sending you all love and support. Stay strong.

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It’s been a looooong time since my last post, so I’m going to do lots of pregnancy updates, then write another post about our holidays.

My mother was in town for Christmas. She’s a midwife so it was super helpful to have her here, and she got to accompany us to two prenatal appointments – our first official prenatal check-up and our genetic consultation. We went for lots of walks and talked about all things baby!

11 Weeks

Our first prenatal appointment was long, but just reviewed a lot of stuff we already know about health, nutrition, and the baby’s development. That ultrasound was awesome – the baby was floating up and down and waved a hand at us twice! Here’s our 11-week ultrasound pic from 12/23/14:

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Genetic Testing

On 12/26/14 we had our genetic test. My mom, J and I met with a counselor who asked the genetic history of J and the sperm donor. As J is an orphan and doesn’t have any known bio relatives, and our sperm donor is squeaky clean, it was very fast! The counselor drew a family tree that consisted of two branches, then said he was done. We brought our donor’s medical and genetic profile from Fairfax Cryobank, which he flipped through, but the donor has no medical issues and no remarkable family medical history. The counselor did a great job of explaining everything to us and outlining each available test. We had the non-invasive Verify blood test done, which is a cell-free fetal DNA test where they analyze pieces of the baby’s DNA from my bloodstream. It’s amazing to me that they can find out so much from my own bloodstream! We are still waiting for the results, which will notify us of any risk of Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18. It will also tell us the sex of the baby.

Boy or Girl?

A side note on little boys and girls – I desperately want a healthy baby and will immediately be excited and embrace either sex or anything in between. I have a strong desire for a girl however, and we’re inviting our little one to be a little girl. I’ve always been a girl’s girl, I love everything female, both friends and lovers. I have two sisters, and I went to my mom’s alma mater women’s college. I was brought up to be a feminist. I love make-up and dresses and baking with my sis and girl talks. I know I’d have a great mother-daughter bond, but if we welcome a boy, I’m going to learn a whole lot and love that, too!

12 Weeks – Finally!

I didn’t have another appointment scheduled until next Friday, but yesterday I was having a tough time feeling like I could still miscarry. Every day I struggle with this, wondering if the baby is still okay. I called our nurse and she got me in at the end of the day for a reassuring ultrasound, which J
also showed up for!

Yesterday, 1/2/15, we finally reached 12 weeks!

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Morning Sickness

I’ve continued to struggle with awful morning sickness. The week before Christmas I threw up a few nights in a row. I’ve continued to wake up around 3am most nights feeling like there’s poison coursing through my veins. My cure is half an almond butter and jam sandwich and a cup of almond milk, which usually settles my stomach until the morning. I can’t eat Thai food, or anything very rich. I finally got a prescription for Zofran, which helps a lot, but some nights I still throw up. On Tuesday night I threw up dinner, then woke up in the morning and threw up bile on New Years Eve and went to work feeling totally dejected! I do feel grateful for the sickness at times; it’s a way for our baby to communicate to me that everything is okay.

Little Baby Belly

I’m not a big fan of belly pics, especially after struggling with weight gain for the past few years, but I’ve had some requests so I’ll do one once a month!

Generally people don’t start showing until 12-16 weeks, but I’m definitely already there! Due to the subchorionic hematoma, I haven’t been able to exercise very much. Add a lot of Christmas eating and morning sickness carbs and you get a bloated and quickly growing belly, which I’m trying to embrace!

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I’m finally able to work out again! I went for a run on New Year’s Day, huffing and puffing but loving every second. I’ve done a few workout videos with light weights too, and tonight I’m headed to a restorative yoga class and sound bath, which incorporates chanting and vibrational gongs! In a week I’ll be in the second trimester, and I can’t wait!

Quick update because I’m exhausted! Hcg level was 245 today, with a doubling time of 42.5 hours. Although my numbers are actually higher this pregnancy, during the first pregnancy our doubling time was only 28 hours, which means it actually doubled faster last time. When I realized that, I started to freak out again, so I just keep reminding myself that the numbers are higher. The first time my Hcg was 63 at 7dp5dt, and this time it was 112 which is almost twice as high!

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So many factors can affect Hcg – how quickly the embryo implanted, whether it’s still implanting, how the body is responding. I was kind of hoping for crazy Hcg levels in hopes of twins, but it seems like a singleton. Who knows! I know, I know, we didn’t want twins, I especially don’t want to carry them, but at the same time, how amazing would it be!

In other news, J gave me her great aunt’s wedding set for me to wear while my engagement ring is being made. Her parents drive the ring all the way from Minnesota this week! Of course, they were on their way here anyway but still… J had to stay in San Diego overnight after a business meeting to meet her parents, get the ring and drive it back up to LA. She was extremely close to her great aunt growing up and when her aunt passed away she left J the ring set. The stone is actually a cubic zirconia because her uncle had he real diamond remove for safekeeping when her aunt went into a nursing home. Unfortunately, her family doesn’t know where the diamond is. We’re going to see if a jewelry shop can un-fuse the band from the engagement ring, and I can wear it while I’m pregnant as it’s slightly too big for me! Perfect!

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I haven’t met my WP friends in person, but I feel so close to this community of amazing women right now. I don’t even want to share my test results because I feel like if everyone can’t have a BFP or a full-term pregnancy, I don’t want to share mine. I’m going to power through though, because I know you all are used to all kinds of fertility blog posts and have felt happy or at least respectfully envious when your own news was so heartbreaking. After my miscarriage I had to unfollow a lot of blogs, and who knows if that’ll happen again. For now, I can honestly say that I’ve been excited to share my news here all day, because I love this community.

Anyway… Beta is 112. The merciful nurse called me at 12:30 instead of waiting until the end of the day. I was literally shaking when the phone rang, and my stomach had been hurting from anxiety. I was eating lunch with a coworker who knew the call I was waiting for and rushed to check on me and then hug me! I called J right away. We’re so excited!

The nurse said that my “numbers look excellent.” 112 is almost twice as high as my first beta on the same day last cycle. The first thing I asked was whether it could be a sign of twins but she said it’s too early to tell.

I guess this means that I’m four weeks. She didn’t spell it out for me or give me a due date and I forgot to ask, but I don’t care, I just want this pregnancy to last!

I’m so grateful and so happy. I feel different about this pregnancy than I did the first one in June. I’m now settled into a job I was totally stressed about taking. I love the work and the environment. I have more income. I also feel good about J and I being engaged. Last time we were committed to each other and starting a family, but we had no plans to get married. We’re closer, more settled and in a really loving and positive place right now. I’m open and hopeful!

This weekend I’m hoping to do some wedding planning and blog about it…

Is there a tiny Korean-Italian nugget inside me? I tried to wait until my Beta or at least the day before (which is today). But we had 2 tests leftover from when J had to confirm her trigger shot with the clinic and my conception friend was testing yesterday morning so of course I did too. Read on.

4DP5DT: Saturday we spent the whole day shopping at an outdoor mall to update my professional wardrobe for my new job, and add to J’s architecture meeting garb. I felt so many implantation cramps that I was very optimistic. I’m certain that I know exactly where that embie burried into my uterus: very low on the right side. I felt tiny sharp pains, cramping and a pulling sensation for three days. Anyway, I went into several baby stores but chickened out. Finally J found this, bless her heart I know she was just humoring me!:

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5DP5DT: Yesterday I woke up and took a test right away. It was 5DP5DT, too early, but I got this:

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The day was fraught with mixed anxiety and excitement. I sent the pic to my mom and sis who both saw the very faint second line. J said she saw the line but it was too early and she wasn’t going to add to my crazy-making. I bought brand-name pregnancy tests and decided to try again.

6DP5DT: This morning I tested again and got this (enhanced with black-and-white filter):

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What do you think out there in blog land?

I googled “very faint line on pregnancy test” and the concensus is that a very faint line means positive. My mother’s a midwife and she agrees. However, I’m very familiar with the risks of getting excited. Even if my Beta tests positive, I’m going to be ready for anything until the next few days, weeks and then months are over. But it’s the Year of the Horse and J’s my good luck charm so here’s hoping!

Side note: Last night we went to see Uh Huh Her! Diehard lesbian culture fans out there, you know who I mean. I remember watching the movie All Over Me my first year of college and how adorable Leisha Hailey was. Then I got into The Murmers and listened to “Genius” on repeat for a year. Of course I’ve seen every episode of The L Word once or twice. Because the concert was in West Hollywood, the mecca of L Word-type actresses, Katherine Moennig (the coveted Shane) was in the audience last night! Also I ordered my first non-alcoholic beer ever (I have to have a bottle in my hand at a concert) and it was actually pretty good!

The transfer was pretty serene, probably due to getting a lovely massage right before, and the Valium my IVF coordinator gave me. Here’s the play-by-play:

I was shaky and nervous when we arrived at the clinic. Since I forgot my water bottle at home I bought a nice bottle of Evian in the office building cafe. Only the best for my “baby”! Our doctor called us into her office and reviewed our embryos. It was pretty heart-wrenching to see the list of each embryo and how they did. The embryos at the top had survived and their development was coded, but a line down the page where the other fertilized eggs had been just said “disposed.” It was weird. Or doctor explained the development of each embryo. We had two in really good condition, not “As” but “Bs” she called prime. They are going to continue watching four more and we will possibly have 2-4 to freeze. When I first found out there were only two good ones I freaked out a little inside. Our doctor explained why she recommended two embryos based on J’s eggs and the development of the embryos; if they weren’t well-developed she may have recommended three, or if we were younger, one, but as it was we followed her rec and transferred two. Our clinic has a 48% success rate in our age category. If we transferred only one, the chances of pregnancy drops to 18%. However, with two, the chance of twins is 20%. Neither of us wants twins but our doctor explained that it is never her intention to give anyone twins, her intention is one healthy baby, but that having to go through another cycle can be very difficult emotionally.

When we got to the room my bladder wasn’t quite full so they had me drink more water and checked my bladder on the ultrasound to see if it was getting full. Around the time the Valium started kicking in, a magic cubbyhole door in the wall opened and our embryologist stuck her head through and introduced herself! It felt surreal, her showing us the lab through the cubbyhole, the incubators, and handing us a picture of our embryos. Then our doctor, who is a fabulous female fertility queen, came in. I felt the catheter go through my cervix – tiny ouch – but J was holding my hand and I was happy and relaxed from the valium so it wasn’t too bad. We watched on the screen as the catheter released the embryos. J took a video of it, which was our doctor’s idea, but I can’t get the video to save into this post. The embryos looked like a tiny shooting star falling into place! As soon as it was over I started crying. I was so happy and couldn’t believe it was happening. J said later that she almost cried too but kept it together so we could hear the aftercare instructions.

I stay on estrogen twice daily and progesterone suppositories three times daily. I learned from my WordPress friends in London that they’re called “pressaries” there and I like that much better! No exercise for 48 hours. I’m a little crampy but can’t use ibuprofen or even a heating pad – the doctor says my body knows what temperature to keep the embryos 🙂

Our embryos!

Our embryos!

The biggest surprise today was that my BETA is in ONE WEEK!! WWWHHHATT?! I thought it was a two week wait! Our coordinator explained that since we transferred a 5-day blastocyst, my first blood pregnancy test will be next Tuesday June 10th, then the second June 12th, and if I am pregnant, the final one June 19th. I’ve been preparing for the long haul and I’m flabbergasted that we have a test in only a week!

J and I took a long nap this afternoon, then made a yummy dinner and watched a comedy movie. Supposedly laughing is good for post-transfer? It worked, we laughed! I also ate my pineapple and core, and the other four pieces are waiting in the fridge to eat each day to keep my uterus sticky.

I'll do whatever it takes! Plus this fair trade pineapple is amazing.

I’ll do whatever it takes! Plus this fair trade pineapple is amazing.

I cannot believe J’s biological embryos are in my uterus right now. How did this happen?! It’s amazing. I’m hoping for the best outcome possible but I know that all kinds of things happen during IVF and I’m prepared for the emotional roller coaster to continue. On the other hand, I feel calm and open. Back to work tomorrow to act as if nothing is happening! Good thing I have a busy day…

Quick medical update, then hopefully tomorrow I’ll have time to write a post about our weekend adventures.

J’s follicles are blooming. Yesterday her estrogen was almost 2,000 and she had 18 follicles on one ovary and 14 on the other. We finally saw our doctor yesterday who we hadn’t seen since starting stimulation. She told us that unfortunately J is at risk for OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) because she’s responding so well to the meds, but hopefully that won’t happen. For now we’re keeping the same doses – 150 Follistim (down from 225 three days ago), 1 menopur, 5 Lupron. Here’s an ultrasound of J’s follicles:

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J told me she could “feel something happening” in her abdomen. I find this fascinating. What does it feel like? Does it hurt? She said it felt like thirty cotton balls saturated in liquid had invaded her uterus, that she felt “full” but it didn’t hurt. Interesting. Her stomach is covered in blue bruises and small red needle marks. I feel awful every night when she has to inject again so I’ve been cleaning the house and making comfort food.

This week we have to be at the clinic Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, then J’s retrieval next week. I can’t work out or sleep as much because the schedule is crazy and requires me to travel 1/2 hour to the clinic downtown, then an hour back to the west side for work. Work is super busy for both of us and in the meantime I’m in the hiring process for my new job. I not complaining, it’s exciting, but I’ve had my moments of feeling overwhelmed.

The monitoring during egg retrieval keeps track of J’a follicle growth, number of follicles, and estradiol level. Last week her estradiol was 37. Her current level is 380! She has 16 follicles on one ovary today and 14 on the other. One of them was already large and is now 13 mm. Monday the US tech was concerned that with one big follicle the others would stop growing and we’d have to wait a cycle, but today she said the others are growing too, so we’re still in the game.

J had to have the clinic bloodwork, then another blood draw for some tests we had forgotten to get, and tonight is about to get three more needles in the stomach 😦 The kitties and I are being very nice to her!

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Finding a donor was the most daunting part of TTC so far. Since my partner is Korean and we’re using her eggs, we focused on finding an Italian-American donor who may have some of my characteristics. The first hurdle was choosing a sperm bank, which was a huge decision in itself. The websites, prices and selections are all really different. We ended up buying memberships to both Fairfax Cryo and California Cryo so we could get a better idea of which Italian donors fit what we wanted.

My partner left this choice up to me since she’ll already be biologically related, so I summoned my mother to help. I gave my mom the login info and a second later she sent a text that just said, “This is weird.” Yes, that’s why I need help!! She eventually got over the weirdness and gave me feedback on my favorites. “Sperm dating” mostly focused on a trifecta of important factors – baby pics sorta similar to mine, current career, and personality. Then there were more fun things to confuse me – staff impressions, celebrity look-alikes, donor audio comments, family relationships, medical history. We noticed that California Cryo had a lot of donors in the entertainment industry like dancers and actors, which was kind of funny. Not really what we were looking for, so we moved to Fairfax. Fairfax website isn’t as user-friendly but their selection is great.

A few Saturdays ago I made J breakfast and put all our donor options on the dining room table. It was like a final decision breakfast. Over pancakes we read and listened wrote pros and cons. What finally tipped our decision was hearing the donor talk about his great-grandfather being a “straight off the boat Italian.” My grandfather was the same, and this donor was adorable as a little boy, pre-med with plans to become a pediatric oncologist, and described as being really sweet and respectful. There was another we really liked but he didn’t have any vials available. On Monday morning I called Fairfax and ordered the pre-med guy, and once it was done I tried not to look back. As my mom said, all the donors are excellent candidates, so it’s a crap shoot. You have no idea what their genes, mixed with J’s genes, will be like, and every embryo from that combination would produce a totally different child so there’s just no way to know.

Our swimmers arrived at the clinic yesterday! It feels surreal.

My & J's baby pic

My & J’s baby pic

Our donor

Our donor

Yesterday was a great day. I woke up feeling like something exciting was happening, like Christmas, but it was just J’s first day of stimulation meds! J’s work schedule lately has been insane – apparently when an architect has a deadline, self-care goes out the window, which is so different from my field as a therapist! It was a rough week. We took our Lupron early or late every night and I started to worry about stress and J’s egg production. We fixed that yesterday, spending a great day nesting together. J read some articles on stress and IVF. We’re going to try to relax a little more this week, and Friday was our last night of having a couple of drinks. Our doctor’s guidelines are four or less alcoholic drinks a week. We were going to stop drinking altogether, but with the stress last week, I thought it was possibly better to have a beer to relax Friday night than no drink at all. We have completely stopped drinking during the week and had 1-2 glasses of wine or beer a night for the past month. What does everyone out there in blogland think about having a drink or two on weekends while TTC? What did you do?

Last night we went to The Getty Center. It was amazing! Twilight overlooking Los Angeles, a sweet little picnic in the garden, then some museum time (we saw Jackson Pollock’s Mural). I started to get nervous about J’s first night of stimulation around 8pm and we headed home. We had to watch several videos on freedommedteach.com to remind ourselves how to work the Follistim pen and mix the Menopur. That stuff is complicated – powder, water, mixing needles, a “pen” that’s actually a mean little needle that clicks menacingly as you dial up the medication. We have an area of our spare bedroom set up for IVF – a surface I clean every few days with antibacterial spray, our sharps container, all our meds, and um, a teddy bear I sometimes hold while J gives me the Lupron shot. Yeah, I’m a baby but I can’t be a baby anymore after what J went through last night! We set everything up and followed the videos slowly while J injected three needles. She was so brave! I just sat there feeling really impressed and acting as nurse. She already has a few small bruises on her stomach but she’s super tolerant so I know she’ll be okay. Babe, you are amazing!

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It’s like a medical lab in here!

I had a gift ready for J that I put in our medical area yesterday morning so she’d have that to look forward to all day instead of needles. After stimming I gave it to her – it was heart-shaped Lavender shortbread, honey vanilla lip balm, a Harmony candle and some herbal throat drops she likes since the air here is so dry lately. I also spent hours making her an organic strawberry rhubarb pie which we ate during our picnic – see below! I hope these gifts helped ease the pain a little.

I know it’s going to be hard to face three needles every night for 8-10days, but I’m also really excited. Nervous too. I’m scared that I won’t get pregnant, that I’ll waste J’s money, or that I’ll get a BFP and then miscarry. I’ve been talking to my sister about this lately as she is a tiny bit older and wiser than me, and she reminds me that you can’t prepare for such things, they just happen and there’s no way to know, but the fear is still there. Other times I let myself imagine everything will work out and then I’m like holy shit, what if I get pregnant?! Yikes what do we do then?! I guess only time will tell…

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Strawberry rhubarb pie was yummy and came out really well. Owen the Owl sent us good luck and baby dust!