Dumplin’: 32 Weeks, and Mochi: 6 Weeks 3 Days

Holy smokes friends, I haven’t posted in ages. I’m sorry. Life got really busy and crazy and is gonna continue that way until Dumplin’s here, and then it’ll get busier and crazier.

I’m absolutely wiped from my day today. We’re back at work officially tomorrow, but I’ve been in to do some prep and helped with registering our students today. I spent all day on my feet, and lemme tell ya, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to keep this up very long. I do multiple flights of stairs each day, and just walking around from wing to wing has my feet screaming and swelling. I felt lots of practice contractions while standing for hours, and Dumplin’s kicks are more like elbow and knee scrapes because he’s running out of space in there. 

Speaking of which, I’m feeling awfully huge these days. Someone asked me at work if I was carrying twins! Others think I must be due soon. My dad told me that I looked much farther along than I am, and told me not to eat so much. 

My feet are super swollen and achy, my crotch feels like it’s been breaking in a new bicycle seat, and I’m waddling because my pelvis feels like it’s gonna split open. My chiropractor friend/colleague is coming over tonight to fix me up.

Sleep has sucked particularly badly too- somehow, I’m one of the minority of pregnant women who gets true third trimester insomnia. Like- I can’t seem to buy a good night’s sleep. I’ve tried everything- meditations, hypnosis, visualizations, no screen time, having some magnesium, good sleep hygiene…. And nothing. Now, this insomnia is different than my usual anxiety insomnia. This current insomnia allowed me to fall asleep, but the problem is that I can’t seem to maintain a deep sleep. My sleep feels shallow and like I’m fully aware of everything going on around me. It’s not restorative. It’s not quite deep enough. I’m getting up and out of bed well before my alarm, because I’m just not sleeping. And as a result, I’m super friggin’ wiped during the day, and need a nap at around 2:30-3pm, because I truly cannot carry on with my days like this. I am so so sooooo tired. And it’s been like this since 31 weeks.

In contrast, DW has been sleeping like a log everyday. She normally never sleeps in past 7:30am, but has been needing wake up calls at 9:30-10am because the first trimester exhaustion has her storing sleep. She has also been napping, so at around 2:30pm-3pm the house is vulnerable to intruders. We both stare at each other, eyes bloodshot and droopy, and wonder, “How the fuck are we gonna survive going back to work at the end of this week?”. Honestly!

In big news, DW had her 6w3d ultrasound today, and Mochi is definitely in there, with a crown rump length of 51mm, and a flickering HR of 121 bpm! And it’s just one Mochi. An HCG-producing  Mochi that is making DW sick already. Her pregnancy sickness is pretty bad- it keeps her in bed throughout the afternoon. We’ve gone to Costco and bought a huge box of Goldfish crackers for her to stash in the car and at work. I also made some quick oatmeal-based muffins, which are a lot healthier than conventional muffins, and provide her with a quick breakfast on school days. 

[Omg. I’ve fallen asleep twice since trying to write this post. So tired.]

I apologize if I haven’t been commenting as much lately. I’m seriously drained and can barely handle responding to text messages. I am trying to keep up with all of your posts though, whether or not I’m commenting. 

I will however, try to post at least every other week, to update you on how Dumplin’ and Mochi are doing. 

Now I’m gonna leave you with some fun pictures:

 Definitely bigger than 2 weeks ago: 
Fun at the cottage last week:

   
    
 

8w4d and the Blood Monster

Hola folks! This is just a little quickie to update you on how Dumplin’ is doing.

This past week has been a blur of gluten-free pancakes and naps. On the weekend, we drove out of town to meet up with friends that we hadn’t seen in a loooong time. Some we hadn’t seen in a couple of months, but others in about a decade! It was basically a big lesbian reunion of hockey players! 

We first hit a pub for food and drinks, and then hit up the local gay bar, which has changed names several times in the last ten years, but still looks the same as what DW remembers. The resident DJ, DJ Dallas, is still kickin’ and spinnin’, just like she did twenty years ago. The dance floor was never empty, and was very well populated by awesome 50 year olds wearing polo shirts and khakis. If you’ve ever been to a gay or lesbian club, you’ll know that the atmosphere is a lot more fun and much less pretentious, especially in smaller towns (which is where we were). We were open about our pregnancy, and found out that one of DW’s roommates from her twenties (who was there) had done several IUI’s and two IVF’s as a solomama, and had no success. Infertility is so much more common than we think, and it so sad that we still seem to struggle alone. We’ve been much more open about our miscarriages this year, partially because it started to affect our lives in an undeniable way, but also because infertility awareness is so important. 

Friday night I started having some spotting again, accompanied by cramps all night. I totally freaked out, and contacted the fertility clinic, hoping that I could get in for an ultrasound to check that everything was still okay. They booked me in for today, and I got my favourite ultrasound tech, who angles the screen so that I can watch as she scans me. None of the other techs do this, so up until today, I had actually never gotten to see Dumplin at all. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, but I managed to sneak this super blurry one from the intraabdominal scan (which is much less detailed than the transvaginal).

 

My favourite part was when she was doing the transvaginal scan, and she zoomed in on little Dumplin’, and I could see her little heart flickering away. In that moment I was so in love, and wished DW could’ve been there to share in that moment. 

So all is well. Dumplin’ caught up in growth and is measuring 8w4d (a day ahead now, compared to a week ago when she was 4 days behind). Her heart rate is 184bpm.

There was also a teardrop shaped bleed beside her sac, which they think is a subchorionic hemorrhage. This is likely the source of the spotting. I’m hoping the Blood Monster goes away, or shrinks, because seeing red in my underwear is freaking me out! Luckily the spotting stopped, and now that I know the cause, I can freak out a bit less the next time I see it. 

Otherwise, not much else to report. I’m just trying to stay sane, and am willing time to pass quicker so that the second trimester arrives soon. Being paranoid of miscarrying is no way to live, but every day I am getting closer to feeling like Dumplin’ is gonna stay. 

Cent Cinquante Neuf

All-day pregnancy sickness has kicked me in the ass this week. I’m basically doing the bare minimum in terms of daily tasks (feed self, feed dogs, bathroom tasks), and then trying to sleep away the nausea in between. When I am awake, I feel like I’ve got the worst hangover of my life- nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms. My food aversions are terrible too- all foods are grossing me out. I had a bottle of Diclectin (Diclegis) leftover from last pregnancy, and finally decided that it was time to take it. I started it last night, and so far, it hasn’t kicked in yet (heard it can take several days to work) and makes me feel super groggy. I’ve never responded well to Unisom or Benedryl as a sleep aid- it keeps me drowsy but unable to sleep, contrary to what many other people experience (Diclectin as a wonderful sleep aid). 

This morning I dry heaved several times because I didn’t get my oatmeal in my tummy fast enough. However, I was able to finish an entire lunch and had a snack this afternoon. That’s progress!

So today was my viability ultrasound. 

And I have good news….

We have a heartbeat!

Dumplin’ is measuring 6 weeks 6 days (a little short of the 7 weeks 3 days that is based on my IVF dates), and has a heartbeat of 159!

There was also another empty sac measuring 0.6cmx0.4cmx0.3cm that could either be a subchorionic hemorrhage or a second gestational sac. Judging by the shape of it (sphere-like vs. crescent-like), RIP Dumplin’s Vanishing Twin.

So I’m not sure if we’ve graduated from the fertility clinic, but given the congratulations!, random loot bag they gave me, plus the requisition for my OB or midwife to sign off on (for me to do a 12 week screening ultrasound there), I’m guessing we did!



Loot bag (with a post-it note that says ” For OB patients only”)

What was inside the loot bag.

So yeah! They want me to start tapering off my prednisone in two weeks, but after consulting with some other RPL friends as well as investigating other protocols for NK cytokine activity, I’ve decided to go rogue and start tapering at 15 weeks instead. 

The progesterones and Fragmin they want me to stop abruptly at 12 weeks.

The aspirin I continue until 32 weeks. 

The synthroid I will continue as per my endocrinologist’s recommendations.

This week I will have my last intralipid infusion as well.

We are very happy to have viability. Given our losses, it’s difficult to be as bright-eyed and bushy tailed about it, as we know anything can happen. But we are taking it day by day, and are grateful that this little soul chose us.

And of course, we celebrated with some awesome authentic Chinese food for lunch! 



Tomorrow, we meet with our midwives for the first time! 

Thank you everyone for keeping us in your thoughts. Please continue to, as the next five weeks will be difficult as well. 


5w3d: Early Ultrasound & Still Bleeding

Happy Monday everyone.

Yessum, I am still bleedin’. I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern with it though- it starts around 2pm daily, as a red bleed, then through the rest of the day it starts to taper into brown spotting. Sometimes, I get the red bleed again in the evening, which then tapers to brown. This is happening daily, and I’m so sick of it.

A lot is on my mind lately, as my anxiety has ramped up a bit. I’ve had a couple of nightmares in the past week- 3 that have felt so real and terrifying. Twice, DW has woken me up because I was sobbing in my sleep or yelling. I like that she wakes me up and makes the nightmares stop. She holds me for a while afterwards too, which is super soothing. I’m not ready to talk about the things making me anxious right now, as it is crippling me just thinking about it, but rest assured it’s not baby-related. 

So far this pregnancy, I have felt generally normal, with only a little bit of breast tenderness. The bleeding persists, and I occasionally get twinges or a dull pressure in my belly. I am absolutely exhausted every day after lunch, and have been napping. The napping doesn’t seem to ruin my night time sleep though, and I’m going to bed earlier and earlier. Right now my appetite is enormous, and I’ve been eating 4 large balanced meals a day. 

I had my early ultrasound today, just looking at placement of the embryo(s), not viability. It was a struggle getting my bladder full enough, and then subsequently empty enough, for the two types of ultrasound. The technician was nice, and was good with answering my questions. This is what she found:

– ONE single gestational sac with yolk sac in my uterus (too early to see fetal pole or heartbeat)

– Fallopian tubes are clear

– No evidence of a subchorionic hematoma

They have no idea what is causing the bleeding. My latest blood progesterone was 50, and they want it over 18, so we’re good in that respect too. 

They cancelled my ultrasound for next week, and rescheduled it for 7w3d (two weeks from now) to check viability.

It is going to be a long two weeks! In the meantime, I am trying to decide on whether I’d rather have a midwife or a OBGYN take over my care after I’m discharged from the RE clinic. Any tips?

IVF#2: After 7 Days of Stims

So I’m at that point of bloatedness now where it hurts to pee and poop. My ovaries are each packing in 10 follicles that are on average, a centimetre in diameter each. In the morning, the bloat isn’t so bad, but by the night time, I feel like someone has pumped my belly full of air, creating a very high-pressure system. It hurts to twist or turn too quickly, and rolling over in bed has to be done very carefully. It takes me forever to empty my bladder, because bearing down feels like I’m squishing my ovaries. Pooping, well, you can imagine how difficult pooping is too.

I had monitoring again today, and have a lead follicle at 14mm, so I start coming in daily now for blood work and ultrasound. I hope things progress fast, because my cervix is getting very sensitive to the poking around, I’m running out of veins, and just had to buy another 900IU of Gonal-f and vial of Lupron. These drugs aren’t cheap!

Plus, stimming for 14 days last time nearly killed me- both the wait, but also the amount of monitoring and the OHSS. 36 follicles was just crazy!

So here are today’s stats:

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Those follicles are growing, and more importantly, they are growing all within the same range of sizes. I hope all 20 make it to a good diameter so that they’re all mature. Last time, even though I had 36 follicles, only 19 were mature enough.

What I’m really enjoying right now is comparing my stats from this IVF to those from last year: after 13 days of stims, and after 14 days of stims.

Judging from how things progressed last year, I predict that I’ll be triggering on Tuesday, and retrieving on Thursday. That seems so far away, and a long time feeling so bloated, so of course I’d be thrilled if things progressed quicker this time around.

Another update tomorrow!

Investigation into the Case of the Missing AF

Well folks, it has been quite the day!
DW and I both seem to have some kind of mild flu. I never get the flu. And this year, I actually got the flu shot!! Wtf? The last time I can remember having it was sometime in 2005, and it was complete with bedsheet-soaking fever and chills, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. It lasted about 3 days, and cost me about 7lbs of my already emaciated frame. Luckily, I am no longer this skinny, and this round has not come close to being that bad. For me, it’s still a mild fever and chills, body aches, and my favourite: the runs. Seriously, I tore into a new package of toilet paper recently, and stocked the bathroom with two extra rolls. Just in case.

Now, feeling like shit would be a whole lot nicer if I knew where the fuck AF has been hiding out. Yes, it has come to this. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, or like your significant other nagging you about why it’s necessary to keep 13 bottles of supplements on the kitchen counter permanently, but I am seriously frustrated.

Let me put this into perspective for you.

This is what the Long Lupron Protocol for IVF is supposed to look like:
Day 21 Precycle: start Lupron and stay on it until near the end of IVF stims
Day 28 Precycle: get period –> this becomes Day 1 of Treatment Cycle
Day 3 Treatment Cycle: start stims (Gonal-F for me), lower Lupron dose
Day 13-15: HCG trigger
Day 15-17: egg retrieval

This is what it looks like so far for me:
Day 21 Precycle: start Lupron (and Provera because not yet ovulated)
Day 28: no period
Day 29: still no period
Day 30: still no period
Day 31: still no period
Day 32: still no period
Day 33: still no period
Day 34: still no period
Day 35: still no period
Day 36 (today): STILL NO PERIOD!!!

Notice how in an ideal cycle, you’re on the high dose Lupron for 7 days before your period, but I‘ve been on Lupron for over 15 days now. Lupron causes weight gain, headaches, and major irritability. So yeah. I’m kind of losing my mind.

Early this morning, I went to the fertility clinic for bloodwork, a full bladder pelvic ultrasound, and a transvaginal ultrasound to figure out what the hell is going on. This appointment went well.

The ultrasounds revealed that:
– my endometrial lining is 8.4mm thick
– I have no cysts (hallelujah! I was so worried about this)
– I have 14 antral follicles (6 on the R, 8 on the L) just chillin’, waiting to be stimmed

Last year, during our baseline for IVF#1, I had 16 antral follicles, so time does seem to be showing an influence here. I was reading a research paper on antral follicle numbers, and apparently they are grouped into three ranges: less than 3 (poor ovarian reserve) , less than 6 (average ovarian reserve), greater than 9 (high ovarian reserve). So with 14, I’m still looking really good.

I still had to wait for the bloodwork results, which would be available this afternoon.

By the early afternoon, I got a call from the head nurse.
Apparently, my blood results were in, and they were abnormal:
Estrogen 360 (way too high, should be less than 250)
Progesterone close to zero
She wanted me to keep on the 10 units of Lupron for another week, and then we would recheck my levels.

I thought this was really weird. It didn’t make sense because I was definitely feeling my classic progesterone signs- sore breasts, back ache, dairy cravings. So before she could hang up, I asked more questions, really nit-picking about the values, which required her to go back to her computer and consult my bloodwork results.

There was a pause. An extended silence.

And then she spoke.

She had planned my next steps based on the WRONG results!! Those results were from my pre-Lupron scan, not today!! My results from today had not yet be logged, so more waiting…

I took the dogs shopping, as Clementine needed a new winter coat. Then I took the dogs to the conservation lands for a hike. The paths were all iced over, and I was glad to have my grippy strap-ons (for my boots). When we got back to the car, I noticed that I had a voicemail from the fertility nurse (no missed call- she sent it straight to voicemail):

My levels for today were actually:
Estrogen 74 (nice and low- they want it to be less than 250 to be cleared to start)
Progesterone 1.71 (nice and low- period should be here soon)
My period looks to be due any day now, with my progesterone being so low, so they want me to just call when my period shows up, and then I guess I go in again for my baseline (I actually hope I don’t have to, since everything looks good today).

I found this online, and really liked how it presents estrogen and progesterone levels throughout a typical cycle:

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Also, my BBT temp went down a bit today:

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So all signs- blood, temperature, and ultrasound- point to AF coming soon. But I’m checking every chance I get, and soon can’t seem to come soon enough.

Some Answers

I took it easy today. I made some gluten-free butter tarts:

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Had my blood drawn at two different labs (one for HCG for RE, other for thyroid for endocrinologist).

I actually ate some food today, and had a 20 minute nap. I cried on three separate occasions when I thought about returning to work. I have this sense of impending doom that is consuming me. After talking it through with DW, it’s become clear that I am not fit to work for physical and emotional reasons. I think I need to go on a medical leave from my job temporarily.

Some good news though, my HCG has increased since August 22nd. It was 1800, and is now 39435. That’s a doubling time of 75 hours, which is good for that range.

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The RE moved up my ultrasound from Thursday to tomorrow. He also wants me off work for a week, after which time we reassess.

So that’s the plan for now.

Thanks everyone for your support.