Some Random Tidbits

Well I’m 7w6d (based on LMP), or 7w2d (based on my last ultrasound), and I’ve got a couple of things to update you on. I’m considering doing those weekly Bumpdate posts, but I’m kind of nervous, and am not sure which dating to use at this point. Suggestions?

Midwife Appointment:

I was so happy that DW was able to meet the midwife with me. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had applied to 6 midwifery clinics in my region, and all were either full or wouldn’t accept me because I’m out of their catchment area. I was really bummed about this, but then, I received a call from the midwifery clinic that is the furthest away from me, offering me a spot. They were going out on a limb accepting me because I don’t live near their catchment area at all (compared to 3 other clinics where I’m on the border). Something feels serendipitous about this, and I feel like I will have a really good experience with them. 

Things that I wasn’t thrilled with:

– all of the pregnant women in their waiting room looked grumpy and unfriendly. Not a single one smiled the entire 20 minutes we sat waiting to be seen.

– my midwife was 20 minutes late for our appointment. Granted, she was with another patient, but my family doctor and endocrinologist are ON TIME or have a maximum wait of 10 minutes. I timed this because most appointments will be during the work day, and if I have to drive across 3 cities to get there, I need to factor in how this will work with work. 

Things that I really like so far:

– our midwife used to be an OB-GYN in India. She practiced for 20 years before moving to Canada and trained to be a midwife. She has been a midwife for 10 years. This means she has a lot is experience, even beyond the scope of midwifery care. 

– our midwife is a good listener. I felt comfortable interrupting her to ask questions. She paused many times to offer me opportunities to digest information and to ask more questions. She explained things well, using a slow but comfortable pace. 

– Our midwife was very clear about informed choice, and that her job is to lay all of the options out on the table, but that the choice is ours. There would be no bullying me into choosing one way over another. With both DW and I being highly intelligent, with backgrounds in science and medicine, this appealed to us. I’m also incredibly picky, and am a stick in the mud when I don’t get my way.

– I have two midwives: at any given time, there is always one that is on call, and the other is in the office available for appointments. I will meet the other one next week. 

– at our birth, the midwife from my pairing that is on call, plus another midwife from another pairing will be attending. There will always be TWO midwives present: one for me, and one to take care of Dumplin’ (I LOVE THIS). 

– despite being outside of their catchment area, both of my midwives in my pairing live close to us, and are willing to still do home visits after Dumplin’ is born.

Last Intralipids:

Well I had my last intralipid infusion today. Being all paranoid that this infusion wouldn’t have enough lasting power to get me into the “safe zone”, I asked one of the nurses if she could ask the head nurse if they’d let me do one more infusion in a couple of weeks. The nurse said that once the placenta is established (8-12 weeks), I shouldn’t need it anymore, but everything I’ve read about NK cells is that they are active (ie. A threat) until 16 weeks. We’ll see what they say. Those of you who have been pregnant on intralipids- at how many weeks did they do your last infusion?

Diclectin:

Diclectin successfully turned me into a bed-ridden zombie with a hangover. The drowsiness was so bad, that I dialled back my dose from 2 at night + 2 during the day, to just 1 + 1. It’s still managing to prevent me from puking, but I feel less like a waste of space, and can actually interact with my wife.

Pregnancy Acne:

I have honestly maybe had 1 pimple in 12 months. But this past week, 6 nasty pimples erupted on my face. They are the small red ones with deep white pus coming to the surface. I am gross and have been expressing them, but the pockets are so deep that a few have gotten worse or won’t drain completely. My face is an absolute mess, and I am embarrassed to go out in public. I’ve been dabbing them with tea tree oil, hoping that they will just go away. You know that alleged “pregnancy glow”? Well apparently my version is just extra oily pizza face. Ladies- those of you who experienced this, does it go away? Or do I need to go into hiding like a celebrity who’s recovering from several major plastic surgery jobs?

Baby or Carb Bump:

Is 8 weeks too early to be sporting a mini baby bump with a singleton? Or am I carrying an anterior-facing carb monster from the 8 meals of pancakes with maple syrup that I’ve eaten this week? PS- DW has been bringing me pancakes in bed these days, which has helped tremendously with my morning sickness. She is amazing. So is pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Hmmm… I think that’s all I’ve got for now. 

5 Weeks and Still Bleeding

I apologize if you’re getting tired of this, but after one blood-free day yesterday, I’m bleeding again. Full-on bright red.

I’m also super tired, and have really achy low back pain. I am averaging one nap a day, and took two naps yesterday. 

I called the clinic, because the bleeding started up again, and my low back pain is kind of unusual, and they had me come in for another beta HCG. 

To recap on my HCG levels:

4w1d (10dp5dt): 229

4w3d: 643

4w4d: 897

5w (today): 3363

So my HCG levels are steadily climbing, which is very reassuring. But what do you make of all of this bleeding?!?

Well they’re a little concerned now, with the addition of low back pain to the mix, and want me to come in on Monday for an ultrasound (5w3d) to rule out an ectopic. I know a couple of ladies following my blog have had ectopic pregnancies, and I would love if you weighed in on this.

I am comforted by my high HCG levels, as I know ectopic pregnancies usually have lower levels. I also haven’t had any cramps or abdominal pain. I don’t have a fever. Mostly it’s just the bleeding and my achy back. My back pain feels the same as when I’m waiting for my period- sore, dull, and achy. 

Today I also found out that one of the receptionists at my fertility clinic is 16 weeks pregnant, and that my endocrinologist is 17 weeks pregnant. It was kind of a hard blow to see how easy it is for other people to get pregnant, and also awkward to take all of that information in, especially as they both seemed so apologetic in their announcements to me. I don’t blame them, I’m genuinely happy for them, with a touch of jealousy. 

Other than that, I’m doing okay. Next week I have a clear and open schedule, so I will definitely need some distractions. Any ideas? 

4w5d: Still Bleeding

I think I’ve exhausted all of the forums online that come up when you google “red bleeding but high HCG”. 

Thank you everyone for your support during all of this. I am grateful for each and every one of your comments. 

I’m still bleeding, but it has slowed down a bit. Instead of changing pads every hour, I’m changing pads 4 times a day. The colour changes- it goes from red, to red/orange, to brown, and then back to red and cycles through again.

From everything I’ve read, the bleeding could either be from:

– a subchorionic bleed (too early for that though- the gestational sac hasn’t really even formed yet)

– cervical irritation (probably not, as I’ve been on Endometrin twice before, with no symptoms like this. Plus, I’m only putting the tablet in half way to avoid injury to my cervix.)

– a polyp or some cervical abnormality (I’ve had enough people in my vagina [for fertility reasons, ahem] to know that I do not have any polyps)

– implantation bleeding (too late for that to be red right now)

And the most likely scenario:

– miscarriage of one embryo (as my HCG continued to increase yesterday from 643 on Monday to 897 on Tuesday, but the doubling rate has decreased by exactly half)

It’s interesting to read the gamut of information on bleeding during pregnancy- most official pregnancy websites claim that 20% of normal pregnancies experience bleeding, yet a lot of advice websites say if you have bleeding not spotting, to see your doctor ASAP or go to the emergency room. 

I’m also thinking that the bleeding might be worse because I’m on the blood thinners- 81mg ASA, 5000IU Fragmin, and about 1500mg omega 3’s. 

My approach to all of this is that I’ll just keep monitoring my bleeding, and if I get super freaked out, I’ll ask for another beta. Then the big reveal in 12 days at my 6w3d ultrasound, where we get to see what’s going on.

In terms of symptoms, I still have none besides being tired enough in the afternoons for a nap. Even the hot flashes have stopped. Those of you who got nausea- when did that start?

4 Weeks 4 Days: Bleeding *Updated*

So I’m hooked up to an IV of intralipids right now, typing on my iPhone with my left hand. The cannula is in my right hand and the expensive mayonnaise is cold as in enters my veins.

Last night my spotting turned into a gush of blood, then stopped overnight. In the morning, I saw some red/brown spotting again, took the dog for a hike in the woods, and then noticed that I had soaked a pad with bright red blood when I got home. I changed my pad, drove to the clinic for my intralipid infusion, and noticed that in the 30 minutes it took to drive there, I soaked a second pad with bright red blood.

I told them about my bleeding, and they took some blood to check my HCG levels again. We should find out the results either later today or tomorrow.

I’m totally freaked out now, as I’m having full on bleeding now, but I’m trying to take things in stride.

Why can’t I just have a drama-free pregnancy??? Universe, why can’t you just cut me a fucking break???

*Update*

So my beta HCG came back at 897. Yesterday it was 643. That’s a doubling time of 60 hours. The doubling time just ONE DAY ago was 32 hours.

My guess is that I may have miscarried a twin, hence the doubled doubling time. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of days. My file has been flagged for the RE to review, but I doubt that there’s anything he can do right now.

I don’t know what to think… I feel like I will be walking on eggshells until we see what’s going on in there (13 days).

This sucks.

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.

Day 5- Ideal Birthday

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It’s a weird thing you know, the word “ideal” seems like such a grand concept to me, something so much bigger than I can even conceive of. Yet, when I think about what my ideal birthday would be, it seems so limiting. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s difficult to satisfy all of the different aspects of who I am. So for this post, I will keep it simple.

As a kid growing up in a really messed up broken home, I can only remember having been thrown one birthday party where my friends were invited. There was a piñata, and cake.

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My friends all had lavish birthday parties, with themes, lots of games, and awesome goodie bags. I was always super jealous that they seemed to be so well loved.

In my twenties, I made sure to plan birthday parties for myself. Often they were themed ones- retro sports, mustache, drag, etc. Kind of like a Halloween party in March (my birthday month). They were tons of fun, and the focus wasn’t so much on me as it was just to get together and have fun. You see, I’m actually kind of introverted. Having people sing me “Happy Birthday” actually makes me feel super uncomfortable. I can feel the stares of anticipation, piercing through me. It makes me want to hide under a table until it’s over. It’s weird though, because while I’m an introvert, I still love socializing and going to parties. I just don’t like a lot of attention on me. I LOVE throwing parties and planning surprises for other people though.

When I met DW, who is a super duper introvert, birthdays changed again. Her birthday is two and a half weeks before mine, so it makes it difficult to do our birthdays separately. Sometimes I think we should just find the midpoint between our birthdays and just celebrate then. Last year, her family came up to visit the week after her birthday, and made it a birthday visit. They brought gifts and we had cake. I thought that it would’ve been a joint birthday thing, but I think they forgot that my birthday was the next week, so it never got celebrated. I didn’t say anything, but I was really sad about it. Coming from a family where I never got celebrated for my birthday, and never got birthday or Christmas gifts, I think I’ll always be a little sensitive about those things.

For the past couple of years, my birthday has fallen on March break, so DW and I have treated ourselves to all-inclusive trips to sun destinations. I have been super happy with this. Last year, we booked at a resort that we love and upgraded to their suite with a private pool. That was THE BEST! I think that going away to a sunny destination is my idea of a perfect birthday. However, if it turns out that I am pregnant (best birthday present ever), I don’t think we will be travelling for March break. The risk of food and water borne illness is too great, and the amount of insecticide and pesticides that are used to keep those places clear of bugs is scary.

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So, we may have to dream up other birthday plans.

Maybe a lesbian games night at our house?

Maybe a nice dinner out with friends?

What has been your favourite birthday to date?

FET#4: Protocol

There are a lot of meds involved in our FET this round, and I thought that I’d like to document it, both for myself, but also to help anyone else who is also going through this. The days refer to cycle day, and non-medical supplementation is in brackets (Chinese Medicine herbs).

Days 3-16: Estrace 6mg daily

Days 3+: ASA 81mg daily

Day 13: Intralipids

Day 17+:
7:30am: Prednisone 10mg, Estrace 2mg, Pink PregVit, 100mg Endometrin, (1000IU Vitamin D, Yuan Support Formula- 4 tablets)
3:30pm: Endometrin 100mg, (Yuan Support Formula)
Dinner time: ASA 81mg, Blue PregVit Folic 5
11:30pm: 5000IU Fragmin, 2mg Estrace, 300mg Prometrium, 100mg Endometrin, levothyroxine 25mcg, (omega 3 fish oils, Yuan Support Formula)

Day 21: Frozen Embryo Transfer

Day 31: HCG beta test

Day 33: Repeat HCG beta test

Sometime after Day 33: Intralipids

Tips:

– Set time alarms on your phone so that you take your meds at the proper times.

– But a pill schedule case like this to organize yourself:

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– inject the Fragmin super slowly

– protect your underpants from leaky Endometrin using long and wide, but super thin panty liners. Better yet- make your own cloth ones, they are so much more comfortable

– clean your lady parts after Endometrin messes, or else it seems to burn down there

I just started the huge combo of meds today, and let me tell you, the Fragmin burns like a B$&@H! I was perfectly fine with the Lupron, Follistim, and Ovidrel injects during my stimulation phase, but this needle would not break the skin without significant force, and while I plunged very very slowly, the medication itself causes a strong burning sensation. I had DW hold my fat roll for me because I needed two hands to steadily depress the plunger, and it felt like she was pinching me as tightly as she could with fingernails (she wasn’t- that’s just what the Fragmin felt like going in). Anyway, I will find a way to make it work, as it needs to be done daily, but right now it is a not-so-distant unpleasant memory. Some advice: have someone else inject it for you, inject the drug very slowly, stop and catch your breath after the burning feeling, inject some more, and so on.

We also keep a stash of homemade organic tea tree and witch hazel wet naps by the toilet to help me “wipe up” any nasty Endometrin leakage (vaginal suppository). I am back to wearing large Cadillac-sized panty liners again too (so as to not ruin my underwear), so the wipes help to prevent some of the chaffing I experienced last pregnancy.

Happiness Cycle Day 14: Downtown

DW took the day off work today, as we had a day of medical appointments, in town and out of town. She has also been so busy and overworked so far this semester that she really needed a “mental health” day as well.

I must mention that I finally had a good sleep last night, after almost a week of terrible anxiety-induced insomnia.

This morning DW made me a decaf coffee (such a nice treat to be served coffee in the morning), we gave the dogs got some consolation pats on the head, and we were on our way.

Our first stop was the fertility clinic’s satellite clinic, which is in our city. I needed to have my blood work and ultrasound monitoring again. Things are on track, with my uterine lining measuring 9.4 today, up from 8.7 of two days ago. I also got a “present” from one of the receptionists, who wasn’t working today, but had mentioned last time I was in that “she’d give me a troll to put down my pants”. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but she meant Treasure Trolls, those dolls from the 80’s, for good luck. We joked about for a bit- especially the part about putting one down my pants. Anyway, today, the phlebotomist nurse gave me this on behalf of the receptionist:

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So thoughtful and sweet!

After that, we headed downtown, to see my family doctor. I was really nervous and stressed about this appointment, not knowing how to describe and explain the overwhelming emotions and feelings that I have been experiencing since the miscarriage. When we got there, my family doctor was super attentive, gave me room to talk, listened patiently and compassionately, and gave some good advice. I shared with her how depressed and anxious I have been feeling, how it has continued to affect my sleep and made me weary of socializing with friends who aren’t aware of our situation. She had me complete some forms: a depression questionnaire, an anxiety questionnaire, and a survey on the impact of my feelings on my activities of daily living. It was the first time that I had taken inventory of various aspects of my depression and anxiety, and how it has been affecting me beyond just my feelings and sense of hope for the future. This whole time I’ve been so consumed and obsessed with our miscarriage(s) and getting back to making babies that I completely lost sight of how I have been doing as a person. I mean, I knew that I was depressed, and I knew that I had an anxiety problem, but I had always placed them under the context of the miscarriage, and not really that they themselves are focal points that need to be addressed.

I have battled depression before, and had reached a nice homeostasis with Wellbutrin for years. When I first met DW, I had already been on it for many years, but like most people with mental health issues, because I felt better, I thought “why not, let’s try life anti-depressant free!”. That was a couple of years ago, and for the entire time, I have been fine. However, with the fertility challenges and heartbreak of three miscarriages, I think my dear friend depression has snuck back into my life, and has brought his asshole friend anxiety along as back-up.

I have mentioned my emotional struggles on my blog many times, but didn’t realize how bad it has gotten until I answered those questionnaires, and saw and felt the true concern in DW’s and my family doctor’s feedback on how I seem, and have been behaving. I guess this is sort of what an intervention feels like. I’ve been so caught up in my own head, and needed to hear what other people are observing. My depression and anxiety are a big concern right now, and my family doctor is concerned enough about it to suggest that I start some medications right away. She suggested Cipralex, which is an SSRI, and is effective for both depression and anxiety. I would love feedback from anyone who has taken it before. She says that it is safe before, during, and after pregnancy, even though Dr. Google claims otherwise. But I am convinced that you can search anything and find support for it in the form of a online support forum. This I have learned from the all-consuming world of TTC.

She wants me to double check with the RE that he Cipralex won’t interfere/interact with all of the other stuff that I will be on: estrace, prometrium/endometrin, aspirin, fragmin, prednisone, intralipids. I’ve emailed the RE’s nurse, so hopefully I will hear back soon.

I have mixed feelings about taking the Cipralex. On one hand I think that it would be better for me to just tough it out, that it’s normal to have feelings of sadness and despair, or constant worry, given what I’ve been through. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that my depression and anxiety levels are abnormally high, and the culmination of evidence is that that can negatively impact our potential pregnancy even more than the small risk of cardiovascular defects and autism that have been reported but not confirmed. I look at DW, and some of you who seem “recovered” from your miscarriages, and wonder why I’m still stuck in this destructive loop of depression and anxiety. I realize now that it’s because I am struggling with an extra layer of mental illness.

Work has been harassing me again as well. In the past seven days, the person in charge of leaves has called me three times and emailed me once. This is after talking to her already the first time. She didn’t have anything new to discuss the subsequent times, but rather has been very negative and pushy in her tone. DW says that if she calls me again, that we should complain to the union. The last thing you want to do when you have an employee suffering from a mental health challenge is harass them.

Anyway, after my doctor’s appointment we went out for lunch at our favourite Vietnamese place.

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Then grabbed some baked treats down the street at this great little bakery we found by accident one day the last time we were here. I got a gluten-free chèvre cheesecake, and DW got “the best butter tart ever”, as well as a pear almond tort-like thing that has a fancy French name that I don’t remember.

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We then went shopping at our favourite outdoor store: Mountain Equipment Co-op, where we caught up on some much needed shopping, and bought a couple of early Christmas presents (me mostly).

We also got a call from our primary nurse today. I am supposed to start my long list of meds on Saturday, in preparation for our embryo transfer on Wednesday morning!

I hope that time moves fast, as I’m anxious for our last embryo to come home, but I also feel like I need some time to process everything that has happened today. The good, and the bad new.

In Crisis

I have not slept for two nights. I have lost 3 lbs in 3 days. I can’t eat more than two half-portioned meals per day. I am 7 weeks pregnant.

This isn’t healthy.

So far, I’ve kept my spotting and bleeding of clots quiet from our RE. But today, I just felt sick about it all and emailed my primary nurse and told her what has been going on. Hopefully, I hear back from her tomorrow and maybe I can get an ultrasound to find out what’s going on.

Previously, I had been against taking a day off work (they highly discourage teachers taking sick days in my board- even though they are part of our compensation), because I’m a relatively new teacher (third year permanent), and it looks bad when you use them (even though we encounter hundreds of dirty teenager’s germs daily). Right now, my seat mate is sick with the flu, and I’m secretly angry at her for touching my stuff and coming to work at all!

Anyways, my new role is very physical. I have to travel two floors and across the length of the school to get from my first period class to my office and other two classes. Often, I am carrying 40lbs of textbooks and student binders, as well as other supplemental equipment from floor to floor. Today, I was carrying a stack of 40 magazines from the basement, up to the second floor, and felt a cramp in my abdomen. I stopped and waited until I saw two kids on washroom breaks and had them carry the rest to my classroom. I then had to go back an grab a class set of scissors, glue sticks, stack of cardboard poster boards, and a bin of markers. I had to make two more trips for that. In my classes, I am working with kids with significant developmental and intellectual challenges. Our kids are high school aged, but function at the reading and cognitive level of grades 1-6. They also have significant behavioural and maturity issues- so I am never sitting down at all in my classrooms. I am on my feet all day, dealing with students who are difficult to reason with and can often become violent in the classroom. Today, a student swore at me because I tried to help him brainstorm “other words” that he could use to express how he felt (rather than “fuck”).

It is physically, and emotionally taxing. I have been bleeding, and haven’t eaten or slept in two/three days. I am taking tomorrow off to re-group, but all I feel is the dread of having to go back there and managing my stress from my less-than-perfect pregnancy symptoms.

I am in crisis, and can’t seem to find a way out.

Ugh Heartburn

We’re at the cottage, so internet access is shoddy. But I have some bars on my iPhone so I thought I’d try to post.

Thank you for all of your comments, I will try to reply to you soon!

My symptoms have stayed the same, though I’ve had an significant amount of heartburn during the past two days. It’s so bad that last night I was popping TUMS like it was going out of style. All I’ve basically been eating is gluten-free bread, crackers, and rice in soup.

It is hell.

Also, I’ve been spotting faint traces of brown since the ultrasound. I’m thinking it’s because it may have irritated my cervix (remember I have a very angry cervix), or had dislodged some old blood that had accumulated at the bottom of my uterus. I’m not worried about it.

Anyway, we’ve been lazing around, watching old 80’s and 90’s videos, some on VHS. That’s the cottage selection! Plus most collections like all the 007 movies, Indiana Jones, Star Wars. Last night we watched a movie called “An Innocent Man”, made in the 80’s and starring a young Tom Selleck. We also made our way through some of Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Oh has film and television changed!

Other than that, we’ve been puzzlin’. Here’s a picture of DW working on a 1000-piece candy bar wrapper puzzle.

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