Yesterday we went in for our 11-week checkup and learned that our baby had died. The heart stopped beating. Mine too I think.
Not too much to report, other than that the nausea and headaches been constant and unforgiving. And the DREAMS! I feel so exhausted every morning when I wake up, because the whole night has been fraught with complicated narratives and long-forgotten memories. Vivid images from summer camp, lyrics from songs I haven’t heard in fifteen years–it’s like my childhood is unfolding again before my eyes.
I had my first prenatal visit with an NP on Monday. I had a little wriggling hope that she might try to Doppler me, but it was just an hour of questions: Do I smoke? Am I depressed? Have I had a flu shot?
Then she plopped a 200-page booklet on pregnancy and child-rearing on my lap, and I began to feel a little overwhelmed as I flipped through it. There are so many things to consider! In-rooming, breastfeeding, natural delivery, etc. etc. I feel like anything beyond the first trimester still feels a little unreal.
We have our nuchal translucency scan and 12-week ultrasound scheduled for June 3. My wife and I were at first a little unsure whether we wanted to do any screening at all, but my parents had a daughter with spina bifida before I was born, and as the weeks go by I feel a little more nervous and want to be prepared for anything.
Other than that, I feel crappy most of the time, exhausted and sick, but with this underpinning of excruciating joy. It’s a bizarre feeling. I tear up at everything in the world, which I just now realized is SO beautiful.
Also, my belly has started to poke out down low, over my uterus, though I’ve actually lost 6 pounds. My wife made me a little nest in her office so I could take a nap on the floor during my lunch break today. Life is good.
I was so nervous before our scan today–but all went well. Our little frog measured right on target at 7w3d, and so we graduated from our infertility clinic and are headed out into the big wide world of OB-land.
I wasn’t expecting the heartbeat to look so much like–well, a heart? A human heart beating?–and I was so moved I couldn’t say anything as we watched it on the screen. Just holy, silent tears. I felt the swell of overwhelming love that I feel for my dog (which, to be fair, is the extent of my experience with maternal love so far), and the whole sensation was so pleasurable that I was bummed when the tech pulled out the wand and pronounced us “graduated.” I could have watched for hours.
I called our new OB office as soon as we got home, and got an appointment with a nurse practitioner on the books for May 11. We don’t get to see the actual OB (and get another scan) until 12 weeks, which feels SO far away.
On the symptoms front, I am full-fledged nauseated. All day every day, and all night, too. It started Friday afternoon and hasn’t let up. I get very confused, because historically when I am nauseated, it is because I am sick, and thus the rules are:
1. Pay attention to how you feel!
2. Get rest!
3. Don’t eat anything or you’ll throw up!
But the rules of pregnancy nausea are different, as I’m figuring out. They are:
1. Ignore it; it’s not going away for a long time!
2. Keep working and suck it up!
3. EAT SOMETHING NOW OR YOU’LL THROW UP!
I have so many food aversions it’s hard to find things I can stomach, but I’m learning that grazing on crackers and apples all day long helps keep everything down. Also I only want red meat, which is odd for me as a mostly-vegetarian. Very counterintuitive. I’m having a lot of trouble sleeping at night because I’m too nauseated to lie on my side or back; I have to sit up, and between the positioning and the nonstop vivid dreams, I’m pretty cranky and tired all the time.
My acupuncturist gave me acupressure bracelets, and I’ve been sipping peppermint tea and ginger ale. Also thinking about that little beating frog heart helps a lot. Any other tips for dealing with the nausea? (which, I want to add, is TOTALLY WORTH IT?)
Not much to report.
I’m not sure if the 12+ months of failed cycles instilled in me a sense of futility about childbearing, or if this is the way all women feel, but this pregnancy still does not feel “real” to me. I find myself expecting things to go wrong, to find out that parenthood is still out of my reach.
But then there are random moments where I feel really optimistic. We’re having a baby! In December! For sure!
One more week until our first ultrasound. I already know I’m going to bawl my eyes out, no matter what happens. A heartbeat or no heartbeat–either one is going to make me a basket case.
I can’t believe it’s only been two weeks since we got our second beta. Symptoms have definitely kicked in, but overall they haven’t been unbearable. The worst so far is the exhaustion and the constipation. I get waves of nausea randomly, but no throwing up yet. I either don’t have an appetite at all, or I am ravenously hungry for one specific thing, and as soon as I finish eating it I never want to have it again. Also I feel that any emotion, good or bad, can be expressed with tears, and I have this weird red rash on my face/neck. There’s definitely no bump or bloating yet; if anything, I’ve lost a few pounds because I don’t eat much. Random cramping here and there that feels different every time.
I didn’t expect so many symptoms so early on, and I’m a little dismayed at how much I’ve had to rely on my wife to take care of dinner, walk the dog, etc. so I can rest. She’s glad to do it, and unbelievably supportive and nurturing, but I feel guilty about being so tired all the time.
We haven’t told our families yet. My mom has a history of miscarriages, and I have a blood-clotting disorder that increases my own risk, so we want to make sure there’s a heartbeat before getting anyone’s hopes up. I already know I’m going to cry for that phone call, too.
Oh–and how cool that Fertility Friend turns into a pregnancy tracker app when you get pregnant! I love opening it every morning to see how big baby is and read tips from new moms.
One more week!
My RE called this morning…beta #2 is 443! That’s just slightly more than doubled in 48 hours.
Now comes the hard part: waiting for three weeks until the first ultrasound. No more blood draws or appointments until then. I feel a bit like I’m on a raft that’s been pushed out to sea. I really wish there was a way to measure my beta at home, just for reassurance. (Is there??)
My RE was so happy to tell me the good news that she called me herself today: My beta is 202!
To which I said: WHEW.
I had a sinking feeling last week, at 5dp5dt, that this cycle hadn’t worked. After about 6 weeks of side effects from the meds, I woke up feeling pretty normal. So I took a test, and it was negative. My wife and I were crushed. She took the dog for a walk while I started cooking dinner. And I don’t know what happened, but by the time she returned I was convinced the test had been wrong. I was POSITIVE I was pregnant, and I told her so. She was skeptical.
So we tested again the next day with a Dollar Tree cheapie and got a faint positive. And again the next day. Still she was skeptical. Until 8dp5dt, when I woke up to this big fat beauty:
And as awesome as it feels, now the real fears are setting in. Ectopic, chemical, miscarriage are all words that are bouncing around in my head (and unfortunately cluttering my Google search history).
But I’m trying to stay positive. Because OMG we’re pregnant!
On Friday, the morning of my embryo transfer, I threw my neck out. This has never happened to me before, but as I tipped my head up to hug my wife (who was standing, as I was sitting), my neck just stuck that way. I’ve been in pain since, and can’t really move much.
My RE prescribed valium for the transfer, and that might have helped a little, but not much. Also? I know valium is supposed to help relax your uterus, but what is the sense in drugging me up and then asking me to make important decisions about how many embryos to transfer? The doctor was showing us a chart with statistics and pictures of our blasts right before the procedure, but I really felt so tired and focused on my full bladder that I didn’t care.
In the end, we transferred one, and we have five more frozen. The actual transfer itself took three minutes, and it would have been awe-inspiring to watch the little guy get deposited in real-time on the ultrasound screen, but the valium glazed me over with a sense of real apathy about everything. Kind of a bummer. There was classical music playing overhead, and my wife was stroking my hand as we watched the glowing spot in my uterus, and I kept thinking, “I should be having more feelings about this.”
Then I came home and slept most of the day. Today the valium has worn off, thankfully, but I don’t really feel any different than before the transfer. Slight cramping, but the progesterone has been causing that anyway. Elizabeth and I have a pretty strong feeling–and we have always had this feeling–that the first cycle is not going to work. That’s why we bought the multiple-try package. So next weekend when we test we’ll have a delightful surprise if it’s BFP, but (I hope) no real shock if it’s not.
When we decided to buy the 6-cycle package–which costs about the same as 3 cycles–but were a little nervous about the price tag, my wife sealed the deal by putting it like this: “If we buy this package and get pregnant on the first try, we’ll say, ‘crap’ because of the wasted money. But if we don’t buy this package and the first cycle fails, we’ll be more like FUUUUUUCK.” I liked that reasoning.
I think I’ll test next Friday, at 7dp5dt.
Egg retrieval went well–they got 20 eggs, 17 of which were mature and 14 of which fertilized. Statistically only 30-50% of those 14 embryos will make it to Friday (transfer day), but I’m hoping we have some left to freeze.
(I cried a little bit before they put me under, because I felt nervous and vulnerable and didn’t want to leave my wife in the waiting room. The anesthetist was very kind and brought in a super warm blanket to cover me up until I felt comfortable. Looking back, I think I might have had a “luxury” IVF experience, with lots of coddling from everyone, LOTS of drugs, and a fancy private bathroom with candles lit, where I emptied out my bladder and the last of my tears before the procedure.)
I’m also hoping, in general, that I’ll be in good enough shape for a Friday transfer. I currently look like I’m 4 months pregnant with this insane bloating. I haven’t felt very good since retrieval, but I’m keeping up with the 80g protein/day they recommended (!!) and lots of water. My doctor gave me Cabergoline to help with hyperstimulation symptoms, but between that, the progesterone, the antibiotic, and the Fentanyl, I don’t think I’ll ever go to the bathroom again. I’m feeling pretty miserable and even stayed home from work today.
I don’t think I have OHSS–or if I do, it’s mild–but I am a little surprised at how shitty I feel. It’s hard to walk upright, and my belly is tender to the touch. Acupuncture today was rough. I’m usually more resilient than this, and for some reason I had thought that retrieval would be a breeze. But–onward!
I had my last ultrasound before retrieval today–14 fully mature follicles, plus about 20 small ones. The nurse said that they often find more when they’re “poking around in there,” and the way she plunged her finger in the air as she said it made me quite happy I’ll be asleep for the whole thing.
So, trigger tonight and retrieval Sunday morning! My E2 was 2279 yesterday, which is pretty good, but she warned me that I need to be eating more protein to avoid hyperstimulation. That one is a little trickier because I don’t eat meat often and have had zero appetite during stims anyway. But I thought this sounded like a good excuse to go to Whole Foods and buy one of those ridiculously expensive grilled salmon filets they have in the deli. I’ve also been chugging Gatorade and Ensure during stims, and I think it’s helped so far.
My biggest fear is that once my eggs are out, the doctor will see they’re poor quality, or immature, or none of them will fertilize. There are so many ways this could go wrong–the success rates for IVF are really not as high as I used to think. But then my wife reminds me that’s why we bought this super expensive IVF package, which gives us 6 cycles to try and make a baby. If it doesn’t work, we get all of our money back. But I’m hoping this cycle at LEAST gives us some frozen embryos, because doing a fresh cycle with all the meds again sounds miserable. My belly is super sore.
Today is my 6th day of stims and things feel like they have shifted. I am definitely bloated, and my belly is so sore and bruised it’s hard to find a good spot for the (3!) shots we have to do every day. I feel okay in the mornings, but as the day progresses the pain in my ovaries gets stronger. Yesterday I was in an all-day meditation retreat and had to wear my wife’s pajama pants because I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting all day in my jeans. By the end of the day I was lowering myself into chairs slowly like I was 9 months pregnant.
But these are good signs! My estrogen level more than quadrupled from Thursday to Saturday, which was a huge relief, since it was a slow go at first. I start going in for daily ultrasounds tomorrow until we trigger on probably Thursday or so. So it looks like retrieval will happen next weekend! I can’t wait to get these eggs out of me and scrambled up.
Hoping my IVF buddies out there are doing well…