Category Archives: Trying to Conceive

Achievement Unlocked: Pregnant

This post has been a long time coming but with everything that’s been going on, R’s health issues, death in the family, Thanksgiving, etc. it’s not been high on the priority list. I spent the whole of November getting the house in order for Thanksgiving which included dinner for 21 people and absolutely 0 time on my desktop. In short, life has been insane.

As many of you know, R and I have been actively going through fertility treatments, specifically IVF to try to conceive. We both have our own share of issues but it was mainly MFI1 due to low sperm count, testosterone issues, and mild retrograde ejaculation. Basically, it means we CAN get pregnant but it would be immensely difficult for us to do so.

2014 was the year all of this was discovered as we finally had insurance that covered treatment and it took us the whole of the year to truly process the information. I had always suspected something must be wrong, nearly 10 years together without a single pregnancy is kind of indicative of that, but it wasn’t until I stopped menstruating for 3 months, with every test popping up negative when we decided it was time to find out for sure. All I can say for those in similar situations, teetering on indecision and fear, the sooner you know, the better. Time is of the essence and contrary to what they would like you to believe, there really isn’t enough of it.

We took a break in 2014 after discovering our issues and didn’t resume treatment until the beginning of this year. We went through a fresh cycle2 at the end of March which resulted in a chemical pregnancy3 and then R ended up back in the hospital for pericarditis which left very little time to process or deal with the loss, though on some level I understood that these things happen, and nature did what it was meant to, terminate a pregnancy that would not be viable.

Despite all that, we decided to jump right into our next cycle under the premise that if necessary, we would stop the cycle since all of our embryos are frozen and there was no obligation to continue since they did not have me on stims4. It wasn’t something we shared with anyone. We kept it to ourselves because we didn’t know what would happen, whether this round would be successful, and honestly the stress of so many people wanting to know everything but not necessarily willing to understand the process was too much for both of us. As much as I wanted to be open and honest about our journey, and while I tried to some extent, I wasn’t successfully in continuing and I learned that I’m perfectly okay with that.

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  1. male factory infertility related
  2. Embryos implanted after retrieval without freezing.
  3. A very early miscarriage that happened at a point that a missed period and biochemical tests, such as a HCG blood test or a home pregnancy test (checking HCG in urine), were the only evidence that you were pregnant.
  4. Hormone therapy.

And the Results Are…

I did a pretty good job of avoiding pregnancy tests prior to our first beta. In fact I was fairly calm this entire cycle and unlike what I expected, my anxiety remained very low. I’m not sure why but I suppose subconsciously I knew there wasn’t much else I could do. Either it worked or it didn’t.

Funnily enough the Sunday prior to the week we were to go in for our first beta my PC started to act up. It stopped booting and R was out so I couldn’t have him look at it. As a result, I got bored and decided to pee on a stick. At this point I was 5dp5dt but a very, very, very faint line appeared. In fact, I didn’t believe what I was seeing. I messaged Angela on FB and asked her if I was seeing things. She responded by saying she did see the line and for a few seconds I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to hope, it was still too soon but after that day, I started peeing on sticks two times a day and each time it came up positive, deep down, despite the fact I tried very hard to keep realistic expectations, I had hope.

The day our first beta test arrived, I was still pretty calm. All of my pregnancy tests were still coming up as positive but this was the day when I’d get a realistic idea of whether the pregnancy would be viable and the waiting was torture. I went into work that day which was a stupid move on my part1 and I get the call around 1:00pm from my doctor who confirmed I was in fact pregnant, but my beta HCG was at a 32 when ideally they’d have loved to see it at 40-50. Despite his reassurance that the first number generally didn’t mean anything and what they were ultimately looking for was the number to double every other day, I still ended up trying to fight back tears. The pessimist in me immediately jumped to worse case scenario and I realized going into work on beta day was a bad idea.

There were many individuals in my support groups who tried to further reassure me by sharing their success stories with lower betas or betas around the same level as mine but I couldn’t allow myself to hope anymore; the one constant I can always be sure of is Murphy’s Law so I started to build my defensives for the news I was sure we would get. Meanwhile R held on to the hope that everything would be okay.

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  1. Lesson learned

Egg Transfer Day

March 24, 2015 marked the day of our egg transfer. I was still bloated, though not nearly as bad and I felt better than I had since the egg retrieval, though I was still walking slowly and wearing loose fitting pants.

We arrived at the clinic an hour prior to the appointment as instructed. I immediately started drinking water because my Doctor needed my bladder to be somewhat full due to the weird angle of my cervix. He hoped that if I had a full bladder it would push against my cervix and straighten it out to make transferring the embryo easier.

About an hour prior to the procedure, they instructed me to take the prescribed Valium and then had me change into the hospital gown, booties and shower cap. R was instructed to put a gown over his clothes and to wear a shower cap as he’d be there with me for the procedure.

After my bladder was comfortably full and my vitals were recorded, my doctor and the embryologist came in to discuss the quality of our embryos, how the remaining embryos were progressing and the number we should put back. She also provided us with a picture of the embryo that they would be transferring which by all counts, according to the experts was a beautiful blast.

Hikari Originally we were dead set on putting back 2 embryos but the look of concern on our doctor’s face made us change our mind. Both he and the embryologist expressed concern about further overstimulating my ovaries if we put back two, given that I was still recovering from the egg retrieval and still had some serious bloating. The bloating had gone down but I still looked like I was pregnant. R and I agreed to just do the one and the doctor and embryologist left to prepare. Meanwhile, the nurse came in and directed us to the room were the transfer would take place.

At this point, I was a pro and was able to hop up onto the operating table and put my legs in the stirrups without issue. The egg transfer itself wasn’t too bad. The most difficult part of it, was having the doctor’s assistant pressing very hard on my stomach with the ultrasound tool. Not only was it uncomfortable because I was still bloated but I also had a semi-full to full bladder so every time she pressed down, I was forced to clench to ensure I didn’t accidentally pee on my doctor.

Admittedly, the transfer was more difficult than anticipated due to my cervix angle but my RE was able to place the embryo and then sent us home with instructions to stay home and not do anything too strenuous. Overall, the transfer was a piece of cake, especially in comparison to the egg retrieval. Still, we don’t want to repeat it because repeating means we weren’t successful but I guess time will tell.

Egg Retrieval: I Survived…. I Think

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Let me start off by saying that everyone’s egg retrieval experience is different. A lot of it, based off what I have been told has to do with 1. the amount of eggs retrieved, 2. your pelvis size, and 3. your pain tolerance.

My personal experience was:

1. 26 eggs. 1

2. I’m a tiny person so you can sort of imagine how things went. Ow, ow, ow!

3. I’d like to think I have pretty high pain tolerance but what do I know. I might think I do but could be completely wrong. I will say that usually if it does hurt, I don’t speak up and kind of just take it. So that could be high tolerance or stupidity. I’ll let you decide.

My egg retrieval was scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2015 and admittedly, I did a fair bit of research because the whole 24-48 hours line just didn’t jive with me, and afterwards I felt like I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I wasn’t anxious2 which tends to be the standard3 and I went in thinking I knew what I was getting myself into and I had this in the bag.

Boy was I wrong. OH SO WRONG.

Though in fairness, I also didn’t expect that they’d pull 26 eggs out of me so I was ill prepared.

The procedure itself wasn’t bad and started by leading me into an exam room. I was asked to me change into a hospital gown, booties, and shower cap. After I was dressed and ready to go, the nurse came in and attempted to set up an IV on my hand which she thought she’d nailed BUT since I have small veins, when she started the IV drip it caused the vein to blow4 and she had to move it up to my forearm.

A few minutes later my RE came in to check in and see if I had any questions and just to see how we were doing. Once he left the anesthesiologist joined us, went over some basic questions and then the nurse came in to retrieve me, had me empty my bladder and then took me into the operation room5.

I climbed up into the gurney6 and they had me put my calves into stirrups, different from what I’m accustomed to, as these particular stirrups encased both my calves and didn’t just involve me putting my feet up. Shortly after, the anesthesiologist started the drip to knock me out and that was it.

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  1. Yes, you read that right.
  2. Surprisingly.
  3. Understandably.
  4. OW!
  5. I guess that still applies.
  6. I’m not sure what they call it, lol.

Cautiously Optimistic

We official started treatment on February 26th in which I was injecting 10 units of Lupron for 10 days. I didn’t initially have any side effects for the first few days until I was hit by a headache that resulted in my curling up into a fetal position and crying until I passed out. I can say that was not in the least fun and I have made a point to take Tylenol several hours before symptoms would start as it seemed that despite the fact my injections were are night, I would suffer side effects mid-afternoon, excluding waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat1. Eventually, I accumulated and my side effects were rare or not as painful.

March 8 marked the start of stimulations and the lowering of my dosage for Lupron to 5 units. All I can say is ouch. The insertion of the needle is not painful, not in the least. I think to some extent I’ve gotten used to it BUT the medication BURNS. I cannot even describe the pain, it’s something you’d have to experience to understand. Thankfully, Angela has gone through all of this before and informed me that it’s not the needle or the syringe, which is what I thought the issue was initially, but the medication and is often referred to in the IVF community as “stim burn”. Least to say, I have 6 days left and I cannot wait for it to be over.

Yesterday, I went in for my first blood draw to see how I was doing with the stimulations. I received a message from my practice mid-afternoon yesterday, lowering my issue dosage of Folllistim from 175 to 100, so I could only conclude that I was in fact responding better than expected. My hypothesis was confirmed today after an ultrasound with my doctor who stated my estrogen levels were 600 when they ideally want them around 200. I think this may explain the irrational hatred I had earlier this week after receiving an e-mail from my non-manager2.

The ultrasound also revealed several developing follicles, several around 9mm-11mm and a few hovering around 12mm-13mm which is high, given that generally they wait for eggs to be around 16mm. In addition, my endometrium is already at 7.8mm which is generally where they want the lining to be prior to transfer and I’m only 4 days into my stims. My doctor said everything looks very good and I have another blood draw tomorrow and then a follow up ultrasound and blood draw on Sunday. My doctor also informed me that he wouldn’t be surprised if egg retrieval happened a day earlier than the estimated date.

It’s a little surreal at how fast everything is progressing. I’m still trying to remain realistic and not be too optimistic because as I like to say “shit happens.” I’ve managed to stick to no caffeine or alcohol, though I do very much miss having my iced tea, but I know it’s something that has to be done and I am hoping my efforts aren’t in vain.

Overall, we are in a pretty good mindset. Unlike what R expected I haven’t had any emotional outbursts and I’ve been pretty even-tempered through it all, though the nurse he works with assures him that will change. We are not overly hopeful and are tempering our optimism until we can confirm successful conception. I guess time will tell.

  1. Yay, hot flashes!
  2. I refer to her as a non-manager because she is barely communicative.