Third time lucky?

I actually got really nervous today about my third hCG test and not just because they’re running out of places in my arms to take blood from. Lurking in my not so deep conscious is the never ending fear of this all going bad again. Even though my first two hCG tests have been more than ok, I just can’t let myself think it’s all ok. 

Well all the worry was for nothing. Today’s test result came in at 1305. So I’ve gone from 176 on Friday (14DPO) to 500 on Monday (17DPO) to 1305 today (19DPO). If this was someone else’s blog I would be telling them to chill out because everything is good. 

So yeah, note to self EVERYTHING IS OK!! 

In case anyone is interested, I knew something was happening on the hormone front because even with steroids keeping me perky I’ve been so bloody tired the past two days. And my boobs are getting increasingly sore – and a little bigger (hubby is delighted). Also my skin is kind of washed out like I’m hungover so don’t know where all this “pregnancy glow” BS originates because I don’t see any glowing yet (although clear skin so yay!). 

Good news today. Please keep growing little embryo!!! 

Everything is fine, right?!!

You know the worrying never actually stops, does it? I am feeling pretty confident this time around, but the spectres of the failed pregnancies of yore are really tenaciously digging their nails into my puny little mind. 

Even after the strong blood test results on Friday I still started to get edgy yesterday, so I did another home pregnancy test to see if the line was darker (it was). Then today I went to have another blood test and the hCG results came back at 500, which is well within a normal range. Somehow though I still have the lingering frustration that I wish it was higher. I wish it was heading towards the 1000 mark right now, which is not impossible but might have been a bit unrealistic.  

The thousands of online articles I have read on this subject say the rate of increase of hCG is often related to the chances of a full term delivery. So while I’m still definitely in the acceptable range, I long to be in the exceptional range!! I’m not settling well for mediocrity right now.

I have even put my results into this super-fab HCG calculator – http://www.babymed.com/tools/hcg-calculator (get on it, ladies!) and it tells me that my hCG levels are tracking above average! It is very hard to trust anything right now as I know that even though my data is technically good (see below), it doesn’t mean it will stay that way. Does anyone have any data on their hCG levels that will make me feel better about mine?

 

#paranoid

My IVF doctor (the one that is literally desperate for me to have a full term pregnancy so that I will leave him the hell alone) gave this feedback: “It’s only been 3 days since the last one so it seems ok for now. Let’s keep doing them every 2-3 days to see how they go”.

Which means I am going to do another round of hCG testing on Wednesday. While I am not enjoying being stabbed every few days I think I am finding the testing mentally helpful (though it might not seem it here).

I also had my progesterone tested today so I’m waiting for those results too.

Apart from regularly freaking out and googling everything every time I get 5 minutes to myself (standard), I had a pretty restful weekend. I must say I felt pretty average on Saturday – a bit dizzy and fuzzy headed. I also did my second round of intralipids on Saturday afternoon and they took more than 3 hours – it was so incredibly boring! Not helped by the fact that while I was at the clinic strapped up to the IV hubby was off having a beer with friends (he told them I was having my nails done – ha, I wish!)

Another fun part of this weekend was that I had the most epic outbreak of insomnia yet. I’ve been a bit plagued by insomnia recently, waking up around early every day, but this is probably thanks to the steroids. However, this weekend on both mornings not only was I awake, but I was unbearably so and just had to get out of bed before sunrise. It’s like jetlag without the nice holiday destination.  

Yesterday afternoon I had an afternoon nap and then I slept really well last night so maybe the jet lag insomnia is tempered for a bit. I haven’t really noticed any other steroids-related side effects but the messing up my sleeping is definitely, definitely not my imagination!! However, if it means we get a baby out of this then I am TOTALLY FINE with my jet lag insomnia.

Apart from the aforementioned jet lag insomnia, I also have tender, slightly bigger bbs and I think my husband would tell you I’ve been a bit cranky. Otherwise, no other symptoms yet. I have got some mild bloating, but that’s most likely down to our best friend, progesterone pessaries.

I’m trying to stay positive, but my heart is so fragile. Part of me knows I have to not relax into this and consider it a done deal because it will make any potential loss so much worse, but at the same time I know I have to stay optimistic. Arrgghhh!

The small things count

Today I don’t have any news but I want to do a shout out to my lovely husband. This IVF stuff is hard and miscarriages are even harder, but this guy has stuck through it all with me and has been my strength. He probably knows more about female hormones and how they work than he ever wanted to know about. But he’s amazing and I love him. 

Last night I can’t home to the most hilarious and touching gift. In our bedroom were 3 giant balloons spelling out 176! 


It was so incredibly thoughtful, funny and cute. I laughed so much and so hard that I was doubled over – tears streaming down my face and snorting with laughter!!!

We are not clear yet by any means but the fact he wanted to celebrate this small victory in the sweetest way really touched me!! It’s funny how it takes such tough times to make you stronger. 

Also, the balloon shop people were very confused by why he wanted 176 in balloons!! Not your usual order!!

Show me the numbers!

My blood test was this morning and I went in feeling good after yesterday’s positive home test and all your wonderful comments to me over the past 24 hours. 

But you don’t care about that. You want to know my numbers!!

The magic number is 176!!

This is entirely normal for 14 days past ovulation and 9dp5dt. It is also the highest number I’ve had for the beta test. Pregnancy one was 120, pregnancy 2 was 80 (ugh). 

Please let this one be my baby!!

🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

Hellooo potatoes!

Potatoes. Probably not your usual early pregnancy symptom for most people, but for me yesterday’s sudden and intense desire for potatoes was a very welcome sign! 

In my first pregnancy I could not get enough of potatoes in all forms so this was good news for me. I was starving in general yesterday and this is also very strange for me so I knew something was up. 

In my previous pregnancies I have known before test day that I was pregnant by the way my body was (mis)behaving and so I was pretty confident something was going on as of yesterday. 
I know some people enjoy the surprise reveal of the blood test results but the one time I held out for them I nearly had a nervous breakdown on test day. Now I make sure I do a home pregnancy test beforehand so I have a general idea of what to expect. 

So of course I tested this morning!! And the result was a faint but visible line showing a positive!! 🎉🎉🎉

As I have shown twice before with my miscarriages, while this is good news, it is far from a solid win for us. The next step is the blood test to make sure my numbers are viable. If they are (fingers crossed) then we have to make sure it sticks. 

But for now, we are happy!! 🍀

The Phantom of the Uterus

….. is there.

Inside my mind!

One for the fans of show tunes there!

The Phantom of the Uterus is in full session right now at 6dp5dt. I have symptoms galore and I’m not sure which are my imagination, which are the result of the medications, and which might (might) represent a potential BFP. I am sharing these “symptoms” here merely as a record of my observations and of course if I get a BFN at the end of this week you can all laugh at me for my vivid imagination.

Boobs

Yesterday I was quite confident my boobs were bigger. Husband came home yesterday (yay!) and was required to do a full visual and feeling test to assess their growth or lack of (he gets all the good jobs!!). He confirmed that he too believes them to be bigger – and was incredulous that I was doubting it. This morning I woke up and they feel even bigger and more sore which I’m delighted about. This is probably the best bit of all of this for the husband as my usually micro-sized boobs grow to be quite a lovely size and shape. Of course they usually get really sore at a certain point and then he can’t touch them so he has to enjoy them while he can! Haha!

Fatigue/sleep

I have felt a tiny bit more tired than normal, but nothing like previously when I had BFPs. This could be for several reasons, one of which being there is no BFP (not the option I’m going for), but most likely is because I am taking 16mg of Prednisolone and from all reports that gives you a lot more pep in your step than you might otherwise have. I did go to bed a little earlier than normal last night at 10:30pm, but I was then WIDE AWAKE and ready to party at 5am this morning, which is great except there was no one who wanted to party at that hour with me. I also needed a 5am toilet visit which has previously been a sign of BFP, but maybe this is just because I went to bed a little earlier than usual. Hmmm….

Bloating/cramps

I am very bloated (eeewww) and I seem to be having low level cramps on and off almost constantly. I think I’m a tiny bit more hungry than usual too, but I’m not sure if that’s just because I’m back in the office this week and being in an office usually makes me crave the munchies. 

Husband is convinced the transfer has worked and is expecting a BFP. I am afraid he is a little over confident but don’t want to ruin his buzz as he is in charge of positivity in our partnership. But I bought a double-pack pregnancy test yesterday so that we can test before the blood test on Friday. I know some people like the element of surprise, but for me I like to have a sense of what to expect in advance of the ominous call with the blood test results.  No testing before Thursday though. 

Please, please let this little one stick!

Gimme some cheese!

Today is 4dp5dt and I am floating about in that special kind of mental hell solely reserved for the 2WW. I have no idea if this has worked and it’s driving me crazy!

So what symptoms or “ghost symptoms” do I have?

Since Friday I have had a very, very sore back but the reality of that now seems to be that I actually do have a sore back.  I’ve got a reoccurring thing with my back which is not serious, but I think that’s what’s happening now, rather than implantation pain.  However, occasionally today I have felt some feelings that might be a little like period pain, but I am afraid I am imagining it.  Also, as my back is so sore I feel that any other pain would be almost unnoticeable in comparison.  After my last transfer, it was day 4 when I got very noticeable implantation pain so I am a bit worried that I haven’t been feeling the same things as last time. Maybe that’s a good thing though as we all know how last time turned out. 😦

Overall today I feel a bit lousy.  Nothing really serious, but that kind of weird feeling you get before you come down with a cold.  Your throat is a bit scratchy, you’ve got a bit of a headache, maybe you’re a bit hot and then a bit cold. However, I am also feeling freaking miserable and I’ve been home alone now for 4 days (husband is abroad with work – great timing) and I think I’m losing my mind.  Can losing your mind give you a headache? (I’m sure the answer is yes, by the way)

I am a bit tired today, but not sleepy.  I am wondering if this down to our nice friends the steroids? Normally progesterone makes me super snoozy, but this time round I’ve barely noticed its impact. I can’t say I have insomnia either (one of the reported side effects of steroids) though I will confess to waking quite early the past few days.  Both times when I was pregnant I also found I would wake up very early, but again, I don’t want to read anything much into this. I’m also really into eating cheese today and I don’t each much cheese generally.

Finally, I’ve got a couple of small, blind pimples that have popped up in the past 24 hours and I think my boobs are microscopically bigger, but I can’t be sure.  All of these (ghost) symptoms could mean nothing or something.  Arrgggggh!

This weekend has been such a downer in general with my husband away and I’ve felt so incredibly lonely. One of the drawbacks of living away from your own country is that in times like this when you just want a good friend to come over and watch movies with you there is no one to turn to – not to mention someone help you do the grocery shopping (helloooo lifting!!).  My best friend back home has been sending me encouraging text messages of support but she is really my only support beyond my (currently absent) husband.  I might have underestimated how hard it was to go through the 2WW without him here…

And just to stab me in heart a tiny bit more, someone I know well and who knows my IVF situation (I will not describe them in any more detail for fear of identification) very kindly called me last night to ask how I was doing.  We had a nice chat, she asked me what I was doing today and when I said my schedule was pretty open she invited me to lunch with her and some others. I accepted the invitation and she said she would call me in the morning to arrange the details.

The morning came.  No phone call.  Of course I could have called her, but as the invitation came from her it seemed a bit pathetic for me to go chasing after her to check she still wanted me to come. At about midday I see on Facebook that she’s posted selfies at lunch – that’s the lunch she had invited me to go to but didn’t tell me where it was or when. Might have been nice to hold off on the selfies don’t you think?!

It wasn’t so much the lunch itself, but rather the rejection that struck me right in the core of my heart. So I went grocery shopping at lunchtime instead and bought cheese.  I think I might actually be looking forward to going to work tomorrow as a distraction!

 

 

Breaking records (and backs too)

Today I am 2dp5dt, otherwise known as two days since my embryo transfer, and I have the most intense back pain!  I do remember with my previous two successful transfers that I experienced the kind of back pain associated with period pain.  I even noted it here after my last transfer, but I’m not sure if this is the same or not.  I think I might just have a really, really sore back.  But in the interests of thinking positively, let’s try and hope that my suffering is all down to some super-intense implantation. The strange thing is that after the previous two transfers, the back pain was at about 4dp5dt, so perhaps I really do just have a sore back.

The past day and a half have been so incredibly boring. I know the 2WW is not massively fun at any time, but my husband took off for a business trip early yesterday and I’m working from home so as to encourage myself to stay relaxed and I AM SO BORED! Apart from a trip to the pharmacy yesterday, I have not interacted with any other humans (email and text messages do not count).  I went to bed at 10pm last night, not because I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake longer, but that I was so bored I couldn’t be bothered to stay awake anymore.

This morning I was up bright and early (thanks to my early night!) and realised shortly after getting up that I was in a lot of pain.  I took a gently walk for 45 minutes or so and even that didn’t make me feel better.  So I did a bunch of yoga/back stretches and that didn’t help. It’s really weird! In a normal situation I would now be knocking back ibuprofen, but of course I am not today. I’m happy to keep the back pain if it equals implantation, otherwise it can really go away now thanks.

Anyway, reflecting back onto transfer day, at some point after the transfer our doctor was chatting to the embryologist who mentioned we still have 15 embryos in the freezer (we had one left over from our first EC and we got 15 fertilised, top quality embryos in round 2). At first he didn’t react to the number of embryos, but then it sunk in.  His face was priceless!!  My husband asked him if that was a record or something and he confirmed that indeed it is!  So even though we are useless at making babies, apparently we make kick-ass embryos.  Yay us!

 

Cold feet and warm thoughts

One of the outcomes of IVF treatment that has really floored me is how it changes your perception of yourself. The process is so all-encompassing that it’s almost inevitable that you end up focused solely on the goal of making a baby at the expense of most other things. 

What I’ve learned the hard way – and you really do have to look for the rainbows during the storms – is that there is more to me than my (in)fertility. I have more than once lost sight of my own strengths and value I bring to the world. I’m not claiming to be anything special, but we all have something unique that we contribute that is more than just based on our uteruses. 

Most recently I’ve started to feel sexy again. To be able to look at my body and think yep, that’s not bad! I know that in a few weeks I’m going to be all dosed up on evil, bloating progesterone again (ugh) so for this short period I’m enjoying my sexy. 

The bad side of all this relative freedom is that I’m starting to get cold feet about going ahead with the next transfer. Of course I will still do it but I’m more edgy about it than ever before. 

After 2 missed miscarriages within 5 months of each other and the associated grief, there is a part of me that thinks maybe I’m better off not putting myself through all this again. My husband is more positive about our prospects than me (he always is) but he doesn’t have to be poked, prodded and medicated. 

The reality is that I’m enjoying being and feeling normal. Sure I’d be delighted to have a baby but I’m so terrified of it going badly again I’m asking myself am I doing the right thing?! 

I think I am doing the right thing – there are 15 embryos in the freezer with my DNA in them – but the fear is real!!  I don’t want all that I am to be swalllowed up in the whole ocean of fertility with its infinite depths and dangerous dark patches. Part of me thinks why not just stop this nonsense and just enjoy my life even if that’s without children. 

Am I alone with this thought?!

Reflections on the 2ww

As there is not much to update on my progress today (more bloating, bigger boobs), I thought I would instead reflect upon the steps that I took during the two week wait (2ww) after my embryo transfer. I also wanted to touch on fresh versus frozen (FET) embryo transfer as I’ve seen some comments about these here and there.

My first embryo transfer was done last September and it was a fresh transfer. I went ahead with this against my doctor’s advice, who said usually he gets better results with frozen transfers.  I thought having to wait out one more cycle before I could do my first transfer was just too long to wait and so I nagged him and, voila, fresh cycle transfer.

He had warned me that because my hormone levels were quite high from the stimulation that sometimes it is better to wait for a FET.  I did not listen. I wish I had.  Long story short, the fresh transfer was not successful and I feel like I wasted one of my highest ranking embryos (they rate them in a way that I can only imagine must be like they do diamonds).

Then I had my first FET in early November, it was successful and then at nearly 9 weeks (the week before Christmas) they found there was no heartbeat. So then I had a D&C and drank a lot of wine over the next few weeks.  Then I had to wait out a few cycles so that my lining was all comfy and nice for a baby to live in, and here we are.

My latest FET was done on Tuesday 5 April, so I guess that is day 0. In the lead up to the transfer day I did ease back on exercise, stopping gym workouts the week previously and just doing some yoga and easy runs in the days before.  I also did a couple of sessions of acupuncture for the first time in my life.  I can’t say that I was a natural with the acupuncture but I wanted to make sure that all bases were covered this time.  And I’d had a really stressful March with a huge international work trip I’d been organising so I needed to chill out massively to get myself all ready to accept the embryo.

On transfer day I had one acupuncture session in the morning at 11am before the transfer at 1.30pm, and another straight afterwards. The transfer itself was fairly straightforward, I stayed laying down for about 20 minutes, and then I drove myself off to the acupuncture place which was about 10 minutes drive away.

After that, it was straight home to the sofa for the afternoon. I had taken the day off work and the remainder of the week too so I didn’t do much but play on my laptop and watch some TV.

The plan was meant to be that my husband would take care of the dinners and tidying for the first couple of days after transfer, but hey that didn’t work out exactly as planned.  Instead on the evening of the transfer we had a big row, there were tears and I cooked dinner, eating it about 10.30pm. I believe this is what the books tell you not to do!

But I did eat some pineapple (core included) and some brazil nuts (I ate 5 brazil nuts a day throughout) – both of these seem to be urban myths but I wasn’t taking any chances. I also only drank and continue to drink bottled water, as someone else told me that you never know what’s in the public drinking water, including hormones. I only drank room temperature water, and the occasional rooibos herbal tea. No caffeine at all. This was brutal on me as I love a good cup of (proper) tea. You would think I miss the wine more, but actually it’s the tea I miss.

Wednesday (day 1 after transfer) I did practically nothing.  I lay on the sofa, did some washing, pretended to be doing fertility-enhancing yoga stretches, and pottered around the house. I also made dinner that night (hubby’s promises seemed to have evaporated into thin air). I had some discomfort in my belly since the transfer day but I wouldn’t necessarily call it cramping.

Thursday (day 2) I was going bananas at home, so I took myself off to the Mall for a couple of hours. Here I had a decaf coffee at a coffee shop that I know removes the caffeine using the  Swiss water process which does not add nasty chemicals to the coffee like other decaf processes do.  I also bought a pair of shoes. That definitely helped!

By Thursday I started to notice that I had low level cramps that were unspecific in their location – they seemed to be in my front and my back simultaneous.  They were irritating, not severe. On Thursday I did a bunch of light housework and I checked my work email because the not checking it was more stressful that checking it.

Friday (day 3) it was much of the same.  I did a tiny bit of work from home but mainly just pottered around the house and took myself for a gentle walk in the park for an hour or so. I did have cramps still and thought that a walk would help to loosen the back pain.

Saturday  (day 4) I was done with staying home.  I had full scale cramps, I felt weird, a bit dizzy and tired. Just not quite right. We went for lunch at a small town about 45 minutes drive away. I was starving! I was also really uncomfortable sitting at the table. In the afternoon I was super tired and had a nap on the sofa.  By then the cramps had intensified and later that night I wasn’t able to sleep for hours because the cramping was so annoying. If I had had this pain with my period I would have taken painkillers (obviously I didn’t, but rather I just complained a lot!) .  I believe this was the day that my embryo was implanting.

Sunday (day 5) I felt mainly fine other than feeling a bit fuzzy in the morning like I had a mild hangover.  I had no cramps. No real specific symptoms.  I can’t even remember what we did that day, which was how truly unremarkable it was.

Monday (day 6) I went back to work. I was starting to wonder at this point if something was up as on this day I grew a massive cystic acne spot.  Actually I still have the remains of the bastard as it won’t go away. Cystic acne for me is a sign of hormonal imbalances and it was one of the biggest positive indicators for me. I also started to get really thirsty from this day and I noticed the skin on my hands went really, really dry for no good reason.

Tuesday (day 7) I went to have my eyebrows waxed after work and had the most huge reaction ever to it.  It hurt like hell (very unusual) and so I searched online to find your skin is more sensitive when pregnant.  I was pretty sure at this point that the result was positive. My big spot on my face was also joined by 2 more spots on this day (smaller, but still mean).  I think it was around this point I noticed my boobs were microscopically bigger.

Wednesday (day 8) I was convinced by this stage I was pregnant and told hubby that if I wasn’t I was going to look really stupid for all the imaginary symptoms I’d been having. We went for a walk around the park together in the evening and bought a pregnancy test on the way home. That was the day we got a very faint line on the test and I was the most happy I have been this year!

Thursday (day 9) was blood test day! I was really chilled about this as I knew it was positive, but was hoping for a strong HCG number.  By this day my boobs were slightly larger, but not sore. The test was 80 and I wasn’t happy with it, but at least it proved I had not imagined my symptoms.

So would I do anything differently if I have to go through this again?  Not really, although I’d probably skip the fighting with the husband and have lower expectations that he would actually cook dinner.

Top tips:

  • Take some time off work around the transfer if you can
  • Luxuriate on the sofa for as long as you can stand it, but do move around a bit too to keep your circulation going
  • Eat well, regularly and freshly
  • Eat the pineapple and brazil nuts if you want to.  It doesn’t hurt.
  • Drink LOADS of water
  • Check how they make your coffee decaf or stick to naturally caffeine free drinks
  • Don’t get too caught up in worrying if you have fight with your other half (or whoever).  Mine was quite stressful and it didn’t seem to have any impact on anything