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 2: Dinner

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DW and I love good food, but dining out can be kind of tricky with my Celiac issues. Generally, we stick to asian restaurants (less gluten dishes), vegetarian/vegan/raw restaurants (because they tend to be more gluten-conscious), or dedicated gluten-free places. Mostly though, we cook at home. We keep it fun and fresh by making special trips to farmers markets or organic butchers with a meal in mind. I also bake a lot, as trying new gluten-free recipes is a hobby of mine, and I must say, my homemade baked goods are better than anything that I’ve tried in a store. Recently, I’ve been on a cornbread kick.

We both like all types of cultural food too, which I’m grateful for. We have friends who are strictly into “North American” food, and it is difficult to coordinate dinners out anywhere other than at a pub or chain restaurant. There’s this awesome Caribbean restaurant in a super shady part of town and I’m craving their chicken curry with rice and beans right now. We love Indian food, but have to watch out for gluten contamination. I have yet to find an Indian place in Toronto that I can trust to have gluten-free dishes. Damn, I’m craving Chana masala right now.

The last time we went out for dinner was our date night. It was about 12 days ago, and we’re due for another dinner out soon- maybe Valentine’s Day? We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day with gifts and special whooing, but it’s kind of fun going out for dinner and seeing all sorts of awkwardness as people in various stages of relationships try to romance each other.

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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: Day 1 Fertilization Report

So remember my post about fertilizing our eggs via conventional IVF vs. ICSI? Well last year, we had 19 mature eggs, and opted for 1/3 IVF and 2/3 ICSI. Last year we had 14 fertilize.

Today I got a call that out of our 21 eggs collected, 13 were mature, and all 13 fertilized via ICSI.

Now I’m a little upset that only 13 of the 21 were mature. I was hoping for more. However, I am so glad that I posted my dilemma about IVF vs. ICSI, and that with your support and sharing of experiences, DW and I decided to go all ICSI.

I am also glad that I spoke to the embryologist yesterday, and asked her how they select when eggs get IVF’d and which ones get ICSI’d. Apparently, they can only do ICSI on mature eggs, but immature eggs can be fertilized via IVF. So if you choose to do a “split” of ICSI and IVF, they choose the mature ones first for the numbers you’ve designated for ICSI, and the remaining (including immature eggs) are used for IVF. So if you choose to do a split, you may have a greater yield of fertilization because they can utilize those immature eggs, which are still capable of fertilizing. However, if you choose to do all ICSI, you can’t use those immature eggs at all.

OHSS update:

Weight: same as yesterday
Circumference at umbilicus: same as yesterday

I have been in progressively more pain as time passes since the retrieval. I have been popping extra strength Tylenol every four hours, which works, but wears off after about three hours. I woke up in the middle of the night with searing abdominal pain (meds wore off), and had to pee, which hurt like hell. I have been asked by the clinic to track my liquid intake and output, which has been very difficult for me. We have a measuring cup in the bathroom for that, and I always forget at the time I start to pee. Plus, the perfectionist part of me hates not having a very accurate system for measuring liquid from things like vegetables. I also dislike how I’m measuring my intake in millilitres, and my output in cups. I know it’s a simple conversion, but it still bugs me.

Things that hurt: walking (a bit), rolling over in bed, changing position, twisting, putting on pants, putting on socks.

Things that really hurt: coughing, sneezing, peeing, pooping.

So far, it just feels like my ovaries are inflamed from having holes poked in them. However, thankfully, my belly isn’t more distended than on retrieval day. From what I remember though, the OHSS didn’t really show until a couple of days after the retrieval.

Anyways, more salty snacks and soup for me!

IVF#2: CD2: Baseline Ultrasound and Bloodwork

So the clinic called me yesterday and pushed my baseline appointment to today, cycle day 2.

Here are today’s stats:
Endometrial lining: 5mm
Antral follicles: 5 on R, 6 on L (funny how it is different than two days ago- technician variability!)

I start stims tonight!
Stay on 10 units of Lupron in the morning, and start 225 units of Gonal-F tonight!

I go in again on Sunday (stim day 4) to see how things are responding (blood work and ultrasound).

Still Waiting for AF

So I’m 5 days post Provera cessation, and there is no sign of AF are mixed signs that have been driving me nuts for days now. Normally, I have a bleed 3 days after stopping any progesterone, but this time, the time that timing really counts, nada. Perhaps all my talk of diarrhea scared her away. Maybe me pointing my finger at her and blaming her for the cramps made her self-conscious. Either way, I am super PMSy (which, is actually quite rare), my boobs hurt, my back is sore despite being recently sedentary (couch potato is the name of my new IVF workout plan), and I have no patience for this anymore!

I have been needling some choice acupuncture points the past two days as well.

Every time I use the toilet, I’m inspecting the toilet paper for any trace of red or pink tinge.

The only thing that I can conclude is that despite the Provera, my body must have insisted on ovulating sometime during the middle of last week, and that remnant corpus luteum is what is keeping my progesterone naturally high. My BBT experienced a mild dip a few days ago, but went back up, and has stayed high. Argh.

So I’m frustrated. I need this IVF stim cycle to start to feel like I’m moving forward… Forward towards a hopeful outcome. I am sick of how consistently depressed and anxious I feel. I know part of this is the Lupron, but the primary source is the more than two years spent living with our lives frozen on pause. It’s the multiple miscarriages, the false hope, the awkward social exchanges. It’s the over forty thousand that went down the drain, only to end up back here again. I’m tired of waiting. I feel like I can’t handle much more of this, and right now, I feel like a barren wasteland, full of hurt and pain, where embryos come to die.

AF, wheeeerrrrre arrrrre yooooooooou!?!?!!!!!!!!

Instagram

I’ve recently joined Instagram (yeah, I’m a bit behind the times).

So follow me if you want: @mamaetmaman

My profile is public right now, but I plan on making it private by the end of the week, so that I can post more personal pictures.

I took my first selfie, which was interesting. I like all of the neat filters. I won’t post it here, but once my Instagram goes private, I will post it there.

Struggling, and My History Part I

Since the D&C on Thursday, my pregnancy hormones have plummeted. My body feels it, and so does my mind.

Physical Changes:
– boobs have shrunk down, and are less tender
– hair and skin is feeling oilier
– appetite is back in full force comfort eating
– falling asleep at bedtime is challenging
– cluster headaches stabbing through my right eye

Emotional Changes:
– less happy
– less content
– find myself stuck in destructive moments of dwelling jealousy, deep depression
– severe anxiety stemming from work-related triggers that in unable to shake

I’ve been baking and cooking up a storm, feeling guilty for not going into work these days while DW, who is also grieving, does. She is taking her final principal qualification course, which has her pulling 15 hour days at least once a week. She is doing this for us. Meanwhile, I’m making her gourmet lunches and snacks. Recently, I made chicken souvlaki from scratch, taking the care to give the chicken a nice long marinade. It was delicious. This weekend, she put in a request for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which of course I made gluten-free.

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This morning I baked up these Brazilian Cheese Balls:

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I haven’t been sleeping well over the past two nights. I can’t seem to fall asleep, with anxious worries about work, and some recent drama involving my undiagnosed bipolar personality disordered father.

Work has been carbon copying me on the comings and goings of my students, which are all pretty troubled youth. They also notified me that they are dumping almost a dozen students with a timetable conflict into my second semester credit recovery class, which is not an appropriate use of the period, and makes my life a living hell for second semester. They are always dancing the line of violating my contract, but unfortunately, approaching them about this will accomplish nothing except undeservingly getting me deeper into their bad books. My medically necessary leave of absence has already done a shit load of damage in this respect, which makes me anxious too because we (DW and I) have decided that I NEED to get out of this school, and accomplishing that requires a positive recommendation from the principal who has shamelessly made me his scapegoat. Each and every email that I get from work triggers a full-body-sick-to-my-stomach feeling of dread, and I get these emails on a daily basis during the work week. I am on a fucking medical leave people! Leave me the fuck alone. Technically, I am not expected to be checking or responding to their emails, but it all comes into my iPhone automatically. So yesterday, I took a positive step in detoxifying my life and REMOVED my work email from my iPhone. I will still have to check it on my computer once every two weeks or so, but it will be when I choose and not disrupting my life at their convenience.

Now my father is a very complicated problem. He disowned me back in July (for the second time) when I told him that we were trying to have a baby, and then just yesterday sent me a nasty mean-spirited email that haunted me all last night. I have not “come out” about him before, and I feel that I should do that soon.

[TRIGGER warning- do not read on if descriptions of physical violence is triggering for you.]

My father has done a lot of bad things, mostly to me, but also to my mother and sister. He was in his last year of dental school when he got my mother pregnant, and has always blamed my existence for “ruining his life” (his words, which I have heard so many times). Being a nice Christian couple, my parents got married when my mom was three months pregnant, and they were both 25. She moved in with his family (it’s a Chinese thing), and the “perfect family” image that his family portrayed so perfectly started to crumble. Almost every single one of my father’s siblings has an undiagnosed mental illness that is so very destructive to the people around them. Only one of them has been diagnosed, and she is treated so badly by everyone else. After all, they are all medical doctors (I’m not kidding, almost every single one), and have too much pride to come to terms with their issues.

So we lived with my grandparents, and I would say that they raised me until the age of 8, when my mother finally left my father. Contrary to what many people think of children suffering from the fracturing of the family unit, I was very relieved that she was finally leaving him. I had witnessed him physically assault her regularly, and once even thought that he had killed her when he pushed her through a glass shower door, knocking her unconscious. At 8 years old, I was aware that he was a very bad person and that we would be better off on our own.

When I was 2 years old, my father had an affair with my mother’s 19 year old sister. He flaunted it in her face, and even got her pregnant. He forced her to have the pregnancy aborted, and when my mother’s parents found out my aunt was pregnant, she got shipped off to Asia. My mother was too ashamed to tell them it was her husband who had gotten her sister pregnant. That aunt has always been weird with me.

The rest of his affairs were carried out in an equally flaunting manner. He would have sex in his office with his assistants, show me photos of his latest girlfriends, and leave evidence of his escapades all over his condo. I hated visiting him. His visits would consist of taking us swimming, then making us clean his condo (disgusting- think of all of the paraphernalia lying around).

He was never loving, kind, or dependable like I saw all of my friends’ fathers to be. When other kids wished for toys when they blew out their birthday candles, I always wished that my dad would just die. Or I would fantasize about having a different dad. Dreaming of smiles on my mom’s face, laughter, and living a life without fear.

I was so fearful. All the time. Because when we lived with my grandparents, I had their protection. My father still answered to his father, and my grandfather loved me. But when we moved out, he would come over and terrorize us. He would pull into our cul-de-sac in his Porsche and then enter the house in a bad mood. He’d then pick a fight over nothing with me or my mom, and then beat me or my mom. It was a sick beating too. Not just a punch or a slap, but a Muay Thai kick to my 8 year old quad, knocking me to the ground and then dragging me by my hair across the tiled foyer and then slamming my head against a wall. The worst part for me wasn’t the pain, but the fact that my mother would take my sister and leave me there alone with him. It was me or her. She’d rather save herself. Sometimes, I would hear his car rolling into the neighbourhood, call my mom for help, and she wouldn’t come save me because she herself was too scared to confront the monster that she married. Once, I tried to call the police, but he ripped the phone out of the wall, and I got the worst beating of my life, for “betraying him”. He always apologized after beating me up, saying that it was for my own good, and that god had anointed him, and that he was doing what god wanted him to do, because I was not honouring him.

The emotional abuse was worse than the physical abuse. It’s damage had staying power. He basically convinced me that I was worthless, a mistake, and that there were evil spirits in me. I was just a kid. I tried to cope by writing poetry secretly in a diary that I kept. My sister found my diary and showed it to him. For that, I was locked in my bedroom for 48 hours and had 4 “Christian pastors” exorcising me, until I finally gave them what they wanted… Me to admit that I was full of evil spirits, and to talk in tongues as a sign that the Holy Spirit had come in flush out the demons. I was 11, and then subsequently tried to kill myself soon afterward.

While I felt some fleeting moments of sympathy for my mother, I also felt incredibly angry at her. When her romantic relationship with my father was really bad, she would disappear- drive up to Whistler for a week, or fly to Asia for a month, leaving us with my grandparents, who were so loving and kind (thank goodness for them). But as a small child, all you really want is your mom, and I felt abandoned. When she finally stepped up and bought her own house, I thought it would be a new beginning for us, but she gave him a key to come and go as he liked. He had his own condo by then, but would stay at our house whenever he wanted, making it never safe for me. I walked on eggshells my entire life until the age of 17.

I survived high school primarily because I played every possible sport, joined jazz band, the acting troupe, and an Eco club that took me on weekend trips. I made it so that I never had to be at home. Money was tight because my mom was essentially raising us on her measly income, penny pinching because money only came from him when we “deserved it”, and in his mind, we never did. I ended up getting a job at the library, and saved everything so that I could leave the house after I graduated high school.

I busted my balls and graduated as valedictorian of my class, with a 97% average. I was offered full tuition scholarships to each university that I applied to, and in the end chose the one that also covered my room and board in residence. I was finally free.
It was difficult, as I used up my savings that first year, and worked two part-time teaching assistant jobs for the university for the duration of my degree. I actually really enjoyed the teaching portion of the job, but it was so time consuming that my grades dropped significantly during years 2 to 4, because I was trying to make ends meet. I didn’t qualify for student assistance because even though I got very little money from my family, my father’s income was too high.
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Wow, this post did not turn out at all how I had initially intended. But I guess I needed to put this out into the world so that it can be lifted a little off of my shoulders.

I have invested a lot of time into trying to undo the damage that my father has caused. I devoted myself to intensive therapy with psychiatrists and psychologists for almost 6 years, and continue to reflect on my emotional well-being and interactions with others. It wasn’t until I was 24 years old that I really felt like I was having meaningful healthy relationships with other people. Prior to that, I was promiscuous, inconsiderate, self-centred, and self-hating. I am very happy and comfortable with who I am, and have felt very stable in my sense of self for almost 10 years now.

So when my dad says he’s “disowning” me, it really bears no weight because I’m not the same scared little girl that he used as his punching bag. But when he continues to send really mean and nasty emails to me, I need to stop forgiving him, and resist the urge to give him even a whispering voice in my life.

5 More Days… And Gluten-Free Crepes!

Today’s Uterine Lining: 9.5mm

BIG update: Our FET is scheduled for Sunday, August 3rd at 6:50 am! One day ahead of what I had anticipated. So instead of being 6 days until the transfer, we’ve got 5 days….

It’s with another doctor, which I’m neither thrilled nor disappointed about.

I reduce my Estrace to 2mg twice a day (down from three times a day), and start taking vaginal Endometrin three times a day, and oral Prometrium three capsules at bedtime. This is when the Calvin Kleins get really sloppy.

I have a massage booked for tonight, and tomorrow I’ve got an acupuncture appointment with a colleague that I used to teach with at the chiropractic college. I also have my last ball hockey game tomorrow night. At least I’m hoping it’s my last 🙂

DW and I made gluten-free crepes for dinner last night (we love having breakfast for dinner), and they were amazing!

The recipe for the crepes themselves are from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

They were so good that they made DW remember her Oma, Wilhelmina, who used to make crepes with butter and brown sugar.

So last night, we made gluten-free crepes à la Wilhelmina.

Steps:
1. Make crepes
2. While crepes are still hot, butter on one side
3. Sprinkle brown sugar over the buttered surface
4. Roll up
5. Enjoy!

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I Feel Broken

Normally, I’d google a keyword related to the theme of my post, but today I don’t think I can even find a visual to convey how truly broken, destroyed, or despaired I feel. Nothing new has happened. I just think that the reality of the past 15 months has finally hit me. Like the denial has worn off. I’m probably in a bit of a mood as well, I suspect.

The past 15 months…..

has changed me

I no longer enter a room filled with optimism or a smile on my face.

I no longer enjoy each day like it’s filled with new opportunity.

I am weary of conversations with people because they always seem to ask when DW and I are gonna have children… And I hate lying, and I really really wish I could just tell everyone what we are going through because the burden of it is overwhelming me. I wish I could get some sympathy (different from pity) because I feel like I’m filling with sadness that is weighing me down and I need someone to carry my pack for a while so that I can heal.

I am no longer vibrant and interesting to talk to. I’ve had many moments lately where I contribute nothing to conversations, which is very unlike me. I used to be described as charming and very personable. It makes me wonder if maybe all of those really awkward people I’ve met in social gatherings were going through something painful like this.

I’ve got this baby snatcher vibe going on. No joke. I won’t elaborate, as I might creep out some of my mama blogger friends on here. But basically, my baby envy has increased significantly. I’m cradling and rocking my little dog like a baby, holding her body close to mine, hearts close together. I’m tearing up just thinking of how badly I yearn to hold my own baby, and how it’s taking too long.

DW is upset with me for being upset. She is going through her own grieving and blaming process. Blaming herself and her body for the two miscarriages, and grieving the fact that it is time to move on to using my body for the last 3 embryos. (Remember that the only reason we were doing IVF was for her to carry my embryos). She feels that she has more of a right to be upset because “[I] still get to try”, and she doesn’t. In a way, I do agree with her point of view, but I see us as a team who has failed. I feel like the odds have been against us. I feel like the game has been rigged and the rules haven’t been fair, and sometimes I wonder what the hell is the point in playing anymore.

Now I know there are many others who have been at this for longer, and I hope I am not coming across as entitled or whiney. I admire you for your continued perseverance and optimism, and for supporting us along the way (even if you occasionally roll your eyes), but my struggle is real. It penetrates into the depths of my core, to the point where I haven’t been able to enjoy life as it exists right now.

Baby making has broken me.