Embryo Transfer #6: Welcome Home Mochi

Two days ago, on a beautiful Friday morning, DW and I headed to the fertility clinic for her single blastocyst transfer. She’s been on a long list of meds for this cycle, in the hopes that it will combat whatever has been causing her recurrent miscarriages, and maximize little Mochi’s chances of a successful implantation and growth:

Since day 15 of her cycle, she’s been on: 

– 4mg Estrace 

– 3 x 100mg Endometrin (suppositories), 300mg Prometrium (orally)

– 20 mg prednisone

– 5000IU Fragmin injections

– 25 mcg + 6.25 mcg Synthroid

– 1800 mg Omega 3 Fish Oils (3:2 of EPA:DHA)

– 400IU vitamin E

– 300 mg vitamin B6

– 4000IU vitamin D

– 100mg zinc

– Pregvit Folic 5 multivitamin

The clinic was running really late that day, as they seemed to have the RE (who is an OB) booked with OB-GYN patients in addition to his regular fertility patients. DW’s transfer didn’t happen until about 1.5 hours after she was scheduled. But as usual, the transfer went smoothly, with no pain or discomfort at all (she has a very friendly cervix, as opposed to my angry s-shaped cervix). 

 Little Mochi in DW’s uterus:  
Now, in case you’re not familiar with the deliciousness that are Mochi, they are a Japanese dessert made of an outer sweet glutinous rice layer, and then usually a flavoured filling. DW loves Mochi, particularly the Taro flavour.

Many flavours of Mochi:   
(Above image from:  http://blog.wagashi-net.de/category/wagashi-sweets/mochi-wagashi/)

After our transfer, we headed to one of our favourite Korean restaurants for lunch. For the past couple of days, we’ve been chilling at home, trying to get DW not to do chores or yard work. It’s hard for her, since she’s such a busy body! 

Tonight, we’re heading to the cottage for a week of lakeside relaxation. See ya when we get back on Friday! 

Fingers, toes, and your dog’s pads crossed for good news in a week! Please keep us and Little Mochi in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you friends!

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Now That’s a Big Dumplin’! And DW’s Transfer Date!

  
(Photo from: http://www.boozyburbs.com/2012/10/18/brand-new-mandu-factory-northvale-nj/)

Today we went downtown for our 28 week biophysical profile ultrasound at Mt. Sinai. I’m only 27 weeks 5 days, but close enough. Not everyone has this ultrasound, but after our scary NT scare at 12 weeks (thank goodness everything turned out okay), we get all sorts of fun precautionary appointments. Seriously though, we love the extra opportunities to see Dumplin’, and what he’s up to in there. The reassurance that all is good is also very nice. And like I’ve mentioned before, the peeps over at Mt. Sinai are da bomb and might be getting an Edible Arrangement from us. 

The ultrasound itself was actually really short in duration. Previous ultrasounds at 14 weeks and 18 weeks were about 45 minutes, we saw lots of stuff, and were given a pretty good commentary by the ultrasound tech. Today however, it was 8 minutes, and the guy doing it barely said two words. I guess he’s not a morning person? 

Pro Tip: Bring a hand mirror to your ultrasound appointments- so you can watch and see baby as they’re doing the scan! This is what we’ve been doing.

We got to see Dumplin’s positioning- he is already head down, right by my cervix, which is 3.4 cm right now. His face is looking at the left side of my back, and his legs are tucked near my far right ribs. Which is exactly the position that I predicted! When I feel movement, it’s usually strong kicks near my right ribs, and punches near the bottom of my left belly. Sometimes I feel both at the same time. I also rarely feel what feels like bubbles or popcorn popping near my cervix. I’m guessing that that might be hiccups?

Anyway the specialist said that at this point, there’s less space so Dumplin’ is unlikely to change position. So I’m really happy that he’s already setting himself up in a good birth position.

Functionally, he scored an 8/8 on his Biophysical tests- amniotic fluid, fetal movement, fetal tone, fetal breathing. Mommies are very happy about this!

The blood pressure in his umbilical artery is perfect, and my placental integrity is a grade 1 (best).

Size-wise, little Dumplin’ ain’t so little. His head is measuring 30 weeks, his legs are measuring 29 weeks, and overall, he’s measuring 1 week and 1 day ahead. He weighs 1260 grams = 2lbs 13oz, which puts him at the 80th percentile for his gestational age. 

I’m sorry if I’m boasting too much. We’re just so relieved that all is good with our little man. Ultrasounds have been kind of traumatic for us after all of the fertility treatments, sad miscarriages, and horrific NT scans. To have a “perfectly normal” scan is something to be celebrated!

So yeah, that’s one big Dumplin’!

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In other news, DW’s started her daily regime of 27 pills (13 different drugs/vitamins) + 1 injection, and FRIDAY IS TRANSFER DAY!!! We are nervous and excited about it, and I’ve been giving her “spa” treatments everyday- massages and acupuncture on alternating days. We are begging the universe for some good vibes.

Pregnancy update to follow in a few days… 

Embryo Transfer #6: Frustrations

So DW is on cycle day 9 today of her FET cycle. So far, she’s had blood work and ultrasounds done during her previous cycle, and during this treatment cycle on day 3, and her next will be on day 12 (Friday). We have been with this clinic since 2012, and it really hasn’t been feasible for us to change clinics because of all the monitoring that needs to be done before work. This clinic has 4 locations, which makes them fairly convenient for us, since we work in two different cities. However, our relationship with them isn’t without significant frustration…. 

I’ve had time to cool off about it, so I will just casually list off the ridiculousness and incompetences that we’ve had to deal with:

1. Nonsense: When DW went in for her monitoring last cycle, they kept insisting that I had to come in to update my bloodwork since she hadn’t been active for almost a year. I suspect that this must be protocol for heterosexual couples, but we’re a same-sex couple, and my blood work has nothing to do with DW’s FET or the status of our embryos. Plus, the nurses know who I am (I mean, 3 years, 4IUI’s, 2IVF’s, 5 transfers, and 50 grand later, they better know who we are!), so logically, why do they need my blood? We argued with them for a while, and all they said was that they needed updated bloodwork because the embryos came from me (still doesn’t make sense!). Anyways, we just keep ignoring their requests because I ain’t getting poked to satisfy their stupidity and inability to critically think.

2. Inconsistencies: So on her last cycle and during this cycle, DW had elevated prolactin on her both of her day 3 blood draws. They told her that anything over 30 (don’t remember the units) was elevated and then made her repeat her prolactin bloodwork the next day while fasting (in fact her day 3s were also done fasting coincidentally), and her repeat levels were normal (29) for her monitoring cycle and 39 for her treatment cycle. They then said that the normal range was 40 or less, and that her prolactin values were fine. WTF? How did the normal range change from 30 to 40? This nurse has made major mistakes in the past and I’ve argued incessantly with her but it just makes her even more unwilling to check her facts. Also, I know that high prolactin can affect implantation, and have read that other RE’s consider normal as 25 or less, and ladies with anything higher are put on bromocriptine or Dostinex to bring it down before transfer. Sadly, there’s nothing we can do about this because this nurse is not very open to other opinions and the RE is very uninvolved in checking levels it seems. 

3. Incompetences: so my endocrinologist (who is awesome, and I trust very much) says that TSH should be less than 2 preconception, and when I was trying to get pregnant, she vigilantly had my blood TSH, T3 and T4 levels checked monthly to keep me under 2. Last cycle, DW’s TSH was 3.8, and the damn fertility clinic seemed to think this was fine. I argued with them about it, and apparently my RE seems to believe that a TSH under 4 is acceptable. I’m so upset about this because for our 4IUI’s with me, my TSH was around 3.9 and my endocrinologist (looking back at old bloodwork print offs that I demanded from the fertility clinic) thought it was unacceptably high. I’m frustrated that the fertility clinic doesn’t seem to prioritize optimal hormonal levels, but instead is just happy with us trying under suboptimal conditions, wasting sperm, wasting embryos, wasting time and money. I feel so strongly about this that after her day 3 bloodwork last cycle, we “unofficially” started DW on 25mcg of Synthroid from my stash. In one month, that brought her TSH down from 3.8 to 2.8, so we added another 12.5mcg daily = 27.5 mcg daily to hopefully bring it down a touch more. Frustratingly, the fertility clinic only checks her TSH once in a cycle, so we have to just keep our fingers crossed that her levels are hovering around 2 or less. I’m also a big stressed because I’m still taking Synthroid and my stash of pills isn’t large enough to be supplying both of us until my next refill is eligible. But my priority is giving her body enough thyroid hormone to support a pregnancy. It just sucks to have to be so clandestine about it. We’re also doing the same thing with her and prednisone. 

I know I’m a bit over analytical about all of this baby-making, but DW has suffered 2 miscarriages of 4 of our best day 5 blastocysts. Despite their “investigations” the clinic has not been able to identify any reason for her losses. They have demonstrated inconsistencies, incompetencies, and don’t seem to critically think about our unique circumstances, but rather treat everyone with the same “cookie cutter” approach. Changing clinics at this point is pointless, since most clinics around here function very similarly (what’s the incentive in improving when you’ve got a 3-6 month wait list of patients?). So basically, our approach is to just go ahead with the transfer, hoping that by lowering her TSH her prolactin might balance out too, and that the autoimmune meds help deal with the unexplained RPL. As I mentioned before, this is DW’s last go at it. She took a year off after her last loss to be ready to face this juncture again. We hope that it works, because I can’t even imagine the heartbreak if it doesn’t. 

If you have any experience with prolactin or TSH levels, I’d love to hear from you. 

As usual, your support is invaluable to us. 

IVF#2: 10DP5DT: Beta HCG

Just a quickie right now to fill y’all in. We drove to the clinic in a near snowstorm this morning, but we had the awesomeness of each other’s company, and good tunes. I fell asleep in the car on the way home, and have been on the edge of a nap ever since.

Finally, a few minutes ago, we got the call. I know that in this process there are many permutations of “the call”- “the call” to let you know you’ve been cleared to start a cycle, to tell you it’s time to trigger, to tell you when you will be egg collecting or embryo transferring, to tell you how many embryos survived to day ____. But today’s call is the one that has had me glued to my phone. Good thing we don’t live in the 80’s or at a time without call waiting.

So here we are, 10 days post embryo transfer, and my beta HCG level is….

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Thank you for your continued support, especially those of you who are also waiting for “the call” that brings good news- at whatever stage you are at. I know how hard it can be. These are exciting yet scary times for us, as you can probably imagine. But right now, in this moment, I am PREGNANT.

IVF#2: Halfway Through the Ten Day Wait (5DP5DT)

Well, it’s been 5 days since our blastocyst transfer, and really, I don’t have much to report symptom-wise.

I haven’t had any cramps or dizziness like last BFP. I’m not out of breath, or overly tired. I’m peeing my usual 1-2x per night. I am eating like normal again, and there are no signs of OHSS.

All I have noticed is that I’m having trouble regulating my temperature. I’m either freezing cold, or hot like a furnace. Sometimes, my torso feels a couple of degrees hotter than my feet, which can’t seem to get and stay warm.

That’s it.

Being 5DP5DT, I am getting worried. By 7DP5DT, countdowntopregnancy.com says that you are more likely than not to get a true positive if you POAS.

After my retrieval, I only suffered mild OHSS (or not at all). I felt back to normal pretty much the day before my transfer, and better each day since then. I am really grateful that I did not get OHSS despite my high estrogen levels and 30-something growing follicles. In fact, I am shocked. Part of it I’m sure is thanks to the Dostinex that they put me on, and I also believe that my high sodium and high protein diet for a few days before and after retrieval helped too. I have been secretly hoping for some OHSS to reappear, as a way of tipping me off that we may be getting a BFP, but so far, I feel fine.

This TWW started off really low stress, and I’ve been lucky enough to have my wife at home this weekend for three days (Family Day Holiday in Ontario, Canada). I finally got back to hiking in the snow with her and the dogs on Saturday (Valentine’s Day), and have been trying to keep fun music on in the background at home because it keeps my mood light. I am happy to report that I have busted into fabulously fun, but totally embarrassing dance parties daily in our living room. Juno the dog watches me and barks when my dance moves get a little too funky. I also devoured Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, which I have found to be her most twisted book of her three best sellers. I really enjoyed it though, and am on some female author murder mystery kick right now.

My anxiety has stayed relatively low since the transfer, until today. Somehow, being at this halfway point, an obsession with POAS has set in. I have been googling and Instagram searching days by #DP5DT, and I’m driving myself mad. I didn’t mention this last month, but in January, my anxiety seemed to peak again, and I decided that I couldn’t cope without some pharmaceutical intervention. I was super close to starting the Cipralex that had been calling my name since I filled the prescription, but wanted to wait until I felt safe and pregnant. A work friend reached out to me last month, complaining about how terrible of a time she is having at our school (she was also transferred there at the same time as me), and how she basically feels bullied by everyone except one or two other teachers. Hearing her share her unhappy experiences triggered some of my PTSD from September, where I had visions of crying in the staff washroom between teaching classes, wiping blood off the toilet seat as I was miscarrying, inserting my Endometrin suppositories so deep that my cervix ached because I was so desperate for the bleeding to stop. I remember talking to my vice principal about how a student physically threatened me, only to have him wave it off as “his bark is bigger than his bite”. I felt unsafe in that school, and unfortunately, I don’t feel any better about returning right now than I did when I miscarried. My leave is up at the end of this month, and I’m terrified to go back there. As of today, I’m back to having daytime anxiety fixations about it, and because I don’t want to start the Cipralex yet, I have really no way to cope. I have an appointment with my therapist this Wednesday, and plan to see my family doctor either this week or next week, because I can feel the anxiety ramping up again. When it comes, I feel debilitated. I do illogical things, like peel the skin and cuticles off of my fingers, layer by layer, until they bleed. I become absentminded, and unable to multitask. My fixations start during the day, as daydreams, and as they get worse, they consume more and more of my day until they start to prevent me from sleeping. Once I stop sleeping, I stop eating. I dwell deeper and deeper until I am unable to even maintain a conversation with my wife because I’m consumed by my anxiety. I’m not there yet, but my anxiety at the stage where it is starting to take up more real estate, and I am scared.

So yeah. Anyways…

I have decided to POAS on Thursday, which will be 8DP5DT, and happens to be DW’s birthday. This could be the best birthday present ever, or send us both off on a shitty tone for the rest of the day.

Anyways, please send me some hope and positivity. I can tell that I’m on the verge of sliding into an anxiety pit soon, with work and the uncertainty of whether I am pregnant or not. Thank you all for your support. I’m sorry to have to bring my anxiety back into the mix, but it’s a big part of my struggle right now.

IVF#2: Embryo Transfer

The sun was shining this morning as I woke up to my beautiful wife. Lazy mornings with her are my favourite. She is an early riser, but stays in bed and reads the news until I wake up.

The pace of the morning was very relaxed. It was a nice contrast to the stress and anxiety that I felt all day yesterday. DW came home last night after a long day at school, as she volunteers to open the workout gym for the kids for a couple of hours. She hadn’t even changed out of her work clothes before I was sitting on the carpet, bawling my eyes out.

The stress of two plus years of actively TTC, four failed IUIs, four failed embryo transfers, three miscarriages, and one last IVF which was proving to be less fruitful than the first IVF finally broke me. DW shared how she feels lost in all of it too. Together, sitting in the middle of the floor, dogs licking the tears off of our faces, we both admitted that we’ve reached our limits. Infertility has sucked too much happiness and enjoyment out of our lives.

After that session with my wife, I felt tremendously better. We decided that whatever happens to our embryos on day 5, happens, and that we will be okay. We will roll with it. DW also said though, that she has a good feeling about our transfer tomorrow.

Fast forward to today.

I started the morning with awesome dog cuddles.

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I wore a lavender dress with black tights and my Tretorn boots.

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I was way more relaxed for embryo transfer today than any other transfer, which was ironic because today’s was a fresh transfer and all of my other ones have been frozen ones. What I mean is, I just had my vagina stabbed multiple times just five days ago, laying on the same table! Whether it was the awesome songs playing on our drive to the clinic (Uptown Funk, Riptide), the sun shining outside, or the fact that we’ve been through so many transfers now that it has become like a routine, I felt super chill. I was chatty and joking around all the nurses, I didn’t cry when the phlebotomy nurse spent several minutes rooting around in my arms trying to find a vein, and I wasn’t rushing around or impatient.

The transfer itself went great too- I practiced some deep breathing during the insertion of the catheter, and took a moment to welcome the embryos into my body before they were transferred. There was no pain or cramping, unlike all of my other transfers.

We transferred these two beauties:

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Here they are in my uterus:

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Our beta isn’t until Feb 21st. I hope we get some good news. Now to keep my mind occupied until then…..

Thank you all for your continued support. Each and every single one of your likes and comments means a lot to us. I feel so much gratitude right now.

IVF#2: Embryo Development Day 4

Last year, this is where the major short listing happened, as we went from 11 embryos on day three to 8 embryos on day four.

Yesterday, I informed you that all fertilized embryos were still alive and kickin’. However, their grades weren’t all the same:
6 graded good
5 graded average
2 graded poor

I figured that we would probably have one or two less than last IVF make it to the day four compacted morula stage.

But I was wrong.

And I’m about to cry.

Of the 11 day three (good and average graded) embryos from yesterday….

FOUR were compacting.

How the hell did we go from 11 to 4?
Last year we went from 11 to 8!

I have made so many changes to try to produce better quality eggs (no evidence that my egg quality was a problem even) this time around, like:
– supplements
– minimal exercise
– more sleep
– Chinese herbs
– no coffee
– less sugar
– more fat

So WTF?????!

The embryologist said, “Hopefully, we will have 1 or 2 to transfer tomorrow.”

Last year we had SEVEN blastocysts.

She said that the remaining embryos are still alive, and could just be slow growers. Some could become day 6 blastocysts. There are a couple that have a lot of fragmentation, so they are unlikely to progress further even though they are still alive. She didn’t really seem to want to carry on talking to me, or giving me details like she had in previous phone calls.

I guess no one likes to be the bearer of bad news.

Please please please universe, help all four of my morulas keep growing and thriving so that they can come home where they belong. Send love to the embryos who have fallen behind so that they too, have a fighting chance.

Friends, please send me hope, peace, and positivity, as I can feel my anxiety spiralling out of control already. I don’t want to relive the hell that was IVF#1. This is my chance to restore hope in the things out of my control. Thank you.

PS- my OHSS has gotten a bit worse again. There’s no pain now, but my weight is up 2lbs, my circumference up 2cm, and I drank more than I peed out yesterday.