ivf

Heartbeat, love, and nausea at 7w3d

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.

7w3d

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?)

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Post-transfer weekend

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 and BLOAT

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!

The Final Countdown

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.

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Stims day 6 – and now I get it

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…

Lupron, day 10

So far, so good. I had my baseline ultrasound this morning and my ovaries were fairly quiet. No one seems to know if I’m going to have a period or not. When I asked the nurse, she just shrugged and said, “Some people do, some don’t.” I’m due, but other than sore breasts I don’t really feel like it’s coming.

After plunking down another stack of cash to freeze future embryos and signing paperwork about what we want to do with those embryos if we die or divorce, I got the go-ahead to start stims tomorrow.

It’s crazy to me how unreachable IVF seemed a couple of months ago, and now here we are in the middle of it. I’ve got a ring of dots around my belly button where my wife sleepily gives my shot every morning. Our savings account is pretty much drained. And I feel a little more hopeful than I have before.

Back from hiding, and a Lupron question

Apparently it’s been 5 months since I updated this blog. I think I just got tired of announcing our TTC failures, and while I’ve been following everyone else’s journey I just haven’t had the heart to update.

But anyway, life has led us to the inevitable outcome I’d wanted so badly to avoid: IVF.

I start Lupron on Saturday; stims (Menopur and Follistim) ten days after that. And I’m quite nervous. The boxes of meds are piled up on the table, and every time I walk past them I have a little ripple of anxiety. My main concerns are side effects, both long-term and immediate. And most specifically, am I going to lose my shit? I’m under a lot of stress at work right now, and while I think I manage it better than most, I don’t have a lot of time or space in my life for massive mood swings or depression.

Any advice?

Oh yeah, and thanks for your blogs. I don’t comment much because I struggle with typing on my phone, but your stories have really kept me going during this whole maddening process.

Beta = negative

I had my beta two days ago, and the nurse’s voice when she called back was oozing with pity. That’s officially 6 failed IUI cycles for me–ME, the under-35, healthy, clear-tubed, high ovarian reserve, acupuncture-getting woman with the stellar donor who has had no problems knocking other women up.

Some things in life just do not come easily.

Today is 16dpo and I’m still waiting for my period to arrive. Elizabeth and I met with our doctor this morning to talk about IVF options, and we were treated quite differently than we ever have before. This time our doctor personally came out to the waiting room to fetch us, shook our hands, complimented my haircut, and after our discussion gave us her number to call anytime. I guess if you are willing to write a check for $18k you get treated like it. That’s kind of nice.

Anyway, we decided we’re going with one final IUI in November with a new donor and trying Femara instead of Clomid, since my lining has been so thin. Then it’s on to IVF. Our doctor spent some time drawing a nice thick uterus and ovaries on a scratch piece of paper, explaining the whole timeline and what we can expect. Our clinic has a good program that includes 6 fresh transfers and 6 FETs–if you don’t take a live baby home from the hospital after that, you get all your money back. Our doctor said they have a 90% success rate with this program. My heart leaped a bit when she wrote that number at the top of the uterus drawing.

So here’s hoping.