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!

 

Advertisements

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

Results are in (edition 2)

It was blood test number 2 for me today. I have been a bit of a nightmare since Thursday when I found out my HCG was at 80 and started worrying that maybe my embryo wasn’t growing as fast as it was meant to.

To say I’ve been paranoid might be understating it.

Hubby has been convinced all weekend that the results would be good (as were plenty of you lovely bloggers too), but me less so.  This is heavily rooted in fear, not in fact.

So what were the results then? I did the blood test on the way to work today and usually the doctor calls me around 1pm to tell me the results.  By about 11am I was edgy and unable to concentrate at work.  By 1pm I was (almost) put off my lunch with nerves. By 2.50pm I was calling the receptionist to ask where my results were. I might have told her I had a meeting at 3pm (mainly true) and that I wouldn’t be able to speak to the doctor if he didn’t call me before 3pm (not actually true).

At 2.59pm he called me (seriously, I checked my call records) and told me my HCG is now a proud 511.

I am actually pregnant.

 

It was such a relief.  While I didn’t really feel euphoria I felt like a cloud has lifted.  Of course there are many more hurdles and concerning times to get through but I feel good now.  I feel like maybe this one is meant to be.

 

The tyranny of waiting

Sometimes IVF just seems like some kind of evil test of patience. You are constantly waiting for something new to give you peace of mind, and yet rarely is this even possible.

So here I am with a positive blood test and a bunch of (faintly) positive HPTs and yet I’m still worried about whether there is an embryo growing inside of me. Hubby is vastly more positive than I am – perhaps he is able to see more changes in me than I can see in myself. He reassures me daily (who am I kidding, about 100 x a day) that everything is going fine and this one will stick.  He also likes to inspect and then tell me my boobs are growing, which is probably the biggest advantage of all of this for him.

Tomorrow is blood test number two and I think I’m actually more nervous for this one than I was for the first one. I love those of you who have shared your stories of having HCG levels less than my first reading of 80 – this gives me great confidence.  And anyway, the last pregnancy that ended in miscarriage got past this point perfectly well so there is no reason to think I have a specific issue at this stage of pregnancy (or at all, but who knows).

The previous embryo did have a higher HCG at this point, but also when they transferred it  into me it had already started to hatch out of its shell.  The one I have now was still in its shell when it was transferred so maybe it’s a bit slower to progress than its mate.

What I’m hoping for tomorrow is some kind of brilliant HCG score that shows normal progress and no greater need to worry than is standard this early in pregnancy. I’ve had practically no pregnancy symptoms so far apart from slightly larger boobs, increased thirst and minor fatigue. I so wish I had written down my symptoms last time so that I could compare notes on when I started to feel differently. I remember at some point I got extremely tired but maybe it was further along than I am now and I’m just being impatient for “real” symptoms to kick in.

Last time I had no morning sickness which worried me hugely. I’ve read in a number of places that morning sickness is a positive sign (though it might not feel like it). I also take after my mother in all things gynaecological and she was gruesomely sick with her pregnancies so this was also a warning sign to me when I felt fine.  Weird as this sounds, I am looking for the morning sickness as some kind of reflection that everything is going okay. I must be the only woman in the world wanting this!

A tiny bit crazy

I have undoubtedly gone a tiny bit crazy the past two days since receiving my positive blood test from the doctor. I have not had the “normal” reaction to a positive pregnancy test because I am just not confident that it’s going to stick this time.

My second test is Monday and it cannot come fast enough for me; I am even wishing away the weekend! Every few minutes I find myself searching for more symptoms to see if I am more pregnant. My theory is that if my HCG level is growing, my symptoms should increase too. I must have checked my boobs about 100 times in the past 48 hours to try and assess if they are larger and/or more tender. My decision this morning is that they are definitely larger and more sore and this thrills me.

Hubby and I agreed that we would do another POAS test this morning to see if the line had gotten darker, so I went off and bought another double pack of home pregnancy tests. I rotate which pharmacy I got to for the tests each time so that none of the pharmacy people realise I am testing so many times!  Haha! This also means I seem to get different brands of test each time which is annoying.

In any case, armed with a new pack of tests yesterday after work I decided to do a fresh test.  This was not a good idea. All the experts say to POAS first thing in the morning, but I was not waiting for that.  And the result was still a positive test but the line was so weak you almost have to squint at it to see it.  This made me panic more that my HCG level is not going up.  But of course urine tests are far from foolproof with the HCG showing up weaker in urine than blood.

I have done another test this morning though (of course, because now I’m addicted to doing them) and the line is a lot stronger than yesterday evening’s and I think the strongest line I have seen so far (still not bold though, dammit!).  See for yourself here.

FullSizeRender

My period is due today so I guess if everything goes to plan the line should get darker from now.  Please make this one stick!

Last night we went out with some family members for dinner and I was in the awkward situation of wondering how I was going to dodge the wine-drinking issue. This is relatively easy if you don’t drink wine regularly, but as I am well-known for liking a glass of wine to suddenly decline is a bold signal that SOMETHING IS UP. And of course, my family-in-law are all Mediterranean and so they are OBSESSED with babies and cannot fathom why I have not yet produced an heir (or multiple heirs) at the ancient age of 37.

Hubby and I had an excellent plan that if any wine found its way to my glass that he would just drink it.  Great idea.  Except that he wasn’t sitting next to me at dinner.  Hmmmm.  So when the wine was ordered it didn’t make it into my glass by some wonderful twist of fate so I filled my glass with water so it was thus impossible. But no success.  Soon it was spied that there was no wine so a big hullabaloo ensured to make sure I got some wine. I first claimed I preferred white wine (the wine ordered was red) so – against my pleas – hubby’s aunty ordered me a glass of white wine that turned up in front of me and then she stared at me waiting to drink it.

SUPER AWKWARD!

Of course I did not drink it (I’m paranoid enough at the moment – I won’t even drink water out of the tap, much less alcohol FFS!) so then there were multiple eyebrows raised. Then, to top it off, the other aunty (who is the sweetest woman alive and means no one harm) then muttered something about me not having any children and that she is praying for me.  Great.

It was at that point that I thought I wanted the world to swallow me up.

So while no one said anything in particular about my non-wine drinking, for sure it was clocked.  Ugh.  Why can nothing be private?!

 

The results are in!

The blood test result is a positive, which was not such a surprise after yesterday’s exciting POAS exercise.  So this means I am officially pregnant! Yay!

But strangely I’m not as euphoric as yesterday or as much as you would expect for someone who has just learned she is pregnant, and also that IVF has succeeded.

Why?

I am just so scared.

Last time when I got a positive test back I was so shocked and thrilled and all the things you’re meant to be. I cracked on through the first few weeks and didn’t even think of “the other options”, but then there was the miscarriage.

Even though the two pregnancies are TOTALLY NOT RELATED and there’s NO REASON for me to think this one is going to end the same way, I am so scared it will.

My HCG level today was at 80 which is well within the standard category, but I remember last time I was more than 100 at this point. Even though the doctor told me more than once that 80 is a good number, I still have to go back in on Monday for another test to make sure it has multiplied many times over in the intervening days.  So the waiting and the wondering doesn’t stop here!

I have to keep telling myself that if this was a normal/non-IVF pregnancy I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant by now as my period is not due for another couple of days. So I wouldn’t even have done a POAS test until later this weekend.  And if everything goes as it should then my HCG level should be much higher by then.

Hubby has been very comforting and has been telling me to stop being so nutso and just enjoy the moment. We’ve agreed that we will do another POAS test on Saturday in the hope that the line will be darker, thus signifying higher HCG levels.

I’ve done a lot of online searching this afternoon and there’s various examples showing a reading of 80 to be perfectly fine as long as the reading goes up a lot over the next few days. Somewhere I read also said that sometimes male babies show a lower reading at the start and then catch up later. I’ve no idea if that is true, but it’s an interesting theory.

So for now it’s more of the same – resting, trying not to stress (ha!) and eating well.

Please let this baby be a keeper.