Four Days of Pregnancy

Well, it’s not officially over, but we’re no longer hopeful.

My beta went from 7.3 on Thursday to 8.8 four days later on Monday. The nurse told me that they would advise me not to go off my medication before my repeat beat this Wednesday since it did still go up, but that it was up to me whether I want to continue or not.

I am very glad that I saw my therapist on Thursday after the initial beta result (and again today). She encouraged us to celebrate the fact that some implantation was happening/had happened. We spent Friday and the weekend mostly enjoying the idea that we could be parents in the spring. It is not to say that we had no moments of anxiety – well, I can speak for myself and say I had my moments of fear – but for the most part we just enjoyed that this might actually work after all.

I spent Thursday afternoon and Friday with the children in my day care imagining my baby in the place of the baby I hold every day and that baby in the role of the toddler who is learning to communicate and that toddler in the role of almost-preschooler.  I know that my repeated failure to conceive has been tough on my heart. I love the children I watch, but I knew last fall that it was getting harder for me to love my job. I felt like there was some layer of ice or candy shell broke off of my insides while I dreamed of my child being with all of these children. I was amazed at how just the idea of my own child made the love I feel for these little people grow what felt like 3 sizes bigger.

My wife and I were sitting out on our back porch working on various tasks while enjoying being close to each other. She looked at me and said, “I love this. You are just so happy. It lights you up!”

I think I am going to keep taking my medications until the next beta. I don’t hope for much, but I can’t bear thinking that this embryo might still have a chance and I didn’t give it every shot it could have.

I have been so indebted to my Ayurvedic practitioner this cycle. I have had treatments 2-3 times a week that have relaxed, encouraged, made me shake with laughter, and given me hope. She is going back to med school later this month and I am incredibly sad not to have her physical presence and encouragement in the coming cycles. (She called me multiple times the day of the first beta reading me encouraging research about low betas and FETs. And she called me Friday and Saturday just to check on how I was doing.) It was so helpful to my spirit to have her backing me up. I will absolutely follow the diet she proscribed again with the next two transfers. But I will deeply miss her presence and the relaxation of the shirodhara.

I have 3 embryos left. The plan is to transfer one then go to the last two if we need to. This cycle has left me feeling both hopeful that we did something right and that we can repeat it, and scared that we just hit some jackpot in getting an embryo that wanted to stay. And that I will only ever get to be pregnant for four days.

Be that as it may, I will be grateful that I enjoyed the promise of those four days. And I will be hopeful that I will get to be pregnant for a lot longer than four days in the very near future.

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A Little Bit Pregnant…

Didn’t someone say you can’t be “a little bit pregnant?” Well, they didn’t use any ART procedures, that’s for sure!!!

I am a little bit pregnant. My beta HcG test came back today at 7.3. 5 and up is “pregnant,” and the clinic said they like it to be over 25. I’m pretty sure I heard in my online IF group that over 50 is a good number. But I’ve been told this sometimes happens with frozen transfers. The theory is that frozen embryos take  little longer to implant and so don’t start pumping out HcG until later.

Ordinarily, I would go back in 2 days for a retest. But it’s Thursday and they don’t test on Saturday so I have to wait 4 days for – you guessed it – Monday!!

I know they ordinarily like one’s beta to double every 2-3 days, but even if it does double every two days we are still only looking at a beta of 28 or 29. I will bet you a double scoop from my favorite ice cream parlour that they will test me on Monday and still want me to come back Wednesday to check that my beta is still increasing on pace.

I knew I’d need to get a new beta in 2 days anyway – and that it would probably be after 4 days because of the weekend – but I don’t know why I didn’t imagine I could get an ambiguously low number. Nothing else has gone as predicted on this cycle!! But if I get a baby from this, it will make one hell of a story.

My Ayurvedic practitioner is very encouraging. She says that with my very Kaphic dosha, it is no wonder this embryo is setting up shop slowly. But what Kaphas start – even slowly – build momentum and is not easily swayed once started.

So we are hopeful that next week will bring more definitive news and that we will be welcoming a young Aries into the family. (Heaven help me. Two fire signs in my house!!)

Stay tuned!!

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So Far, So Good!

Well, I’ve done it!!! I have been eating gluten-free since before July 4! (Ok, I did have one day that I ate a piece of cornmeal crust pizza that also had flour in it. It was my favorite and I bought it JUST before I made the GF decision. But that is now far enough in the past that I don’t think I will be tempted again…)

I joined my family for a birthday celebration for my grandmother at a restaurant. I figured I would do my best to pick something safe from gluten and also following my Ayurvedic guidelines. I was delighted to ask the waitress about a dish on the menu only to have her offer me a menu that highlights all of their GF items on their summer menu!! And the thing I was going to order was on it. Sea bass and risotto with vegetables. Yum!! It was great except that the serving of veggies was barely 1/4 of a cup if I’d mushed it all together.  I even managed to forego the cake (or any dessert). That was probably made easier by the 3 chai spice macaroons that I bought on my way out of town and munched on while on the way to dinner. (They were supposed to be for the way home, but somebody has no self-restraint!! <cough, cough=””>)

And I’ve done so much better than I expected on my Ayurvedic diet. I am eating so many fresh veggies and juicy fruits, herbal teas, and either wakame or dulse (both seaweeds) every day. And my one whole fat (organic) dairy daily. I even lost a pound or two since my last weigh-in. Yipee!

My Ayurvedic practitioner says I am doing well and my pulses are good. And she said they were “different” at my visit last night. She said she can’t remember what the “pregnant pulse” feels like, but she felt something different. She also thinks that because I am doing so well – I am so steady, as she put it – that I won’t get any early symptoms.

We will see. I’ve been feeling a different feeling than I think I have felt before. (Funny how after a break from cycles, I don’t remember whether I felt anything like what I am feeling now.) I have heard others – most if not all of whom have gone on to be pregnant – describe feeling pre-AF type cramping. I wouldn’t call what I am feeling today cramping, but I would say I am feeling something.

My mom is supposed to get home from Africa tomorrow. I think it took her two days to get from here to there because of cancelled flights and mechanical problems, but I hope she gets home on time. I haven’t talked to her since sometime around July 4th and I can’t wait to just hear her voice!!

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Posted in food, infertility, medication protocols

Playing with Progesterone

The big question this cycle was how we were going to administer progesterone. We’ve done cycles with only Crinone (up until this spring),  cycles with Crinone once a day and Progesterone in Oil (PIO) once a day, and cycles with only PIO.

Last cycle we were doing PIO  alone for the first time – either 1mL of 50mg/mL twice a day or  1mL of 100mg/mL once a day. Um, who wants to stick and inch and a half long needle into their butt twice a day??!? Not this girl!!!

I had to call around for 100mg/mL PIO, but finally got some. The shots went alright, but by the end of last cycle (early June), I had so many horrible lumps in my butt. I tried heating before and after. I tried doing them earlier in the evening so I was still cooking dinner and walking around instead of “sitting on my butt” or just going to bed. The last lumps lasted so long, that I was calling my clinic a week after my beta asking if it was normal for them to still be hard and red. The answer was yes. I was also told that some people get more sensitive to the shots over time. And that it can take 4 to 6 weeks for things to heal afterward.

I figured the extra time “between cycles” while doing the endometrial biopsy would be good for giving time for everything to heal. If doing shots for about two weeks apart with only two weeks in between had aggravated my body, going from June 9th to July 17th with no (PIO) shots seemed like an adequate rest.

There are two doctors in our clinic and they are at opposite ends of the progesterone spectrum. One likes PIO and has started recommending it to all the clients this year. The other had his wife use Crinone when they did IVF for their daughter at a time when everyone was still doing PIO. How does a girl decide then??

Well, I’d rather a needle to the butt than all that goop in very personal places (and the irritation that can result), but I’d rather all that goop than having rocks in my butt. So we started with PIO. Once a day, thank you.

It only took 4 days of shots to realize that my body was not liking the 100mg/mL progesterone shots. I asked my dear wife who is the giver of the progesterone shots if she would be willing to go to the twice a day option for a few days and see if that was any better. She was game and we started with twice daily shots.

Now, if anyone had told me that injecting twice as much fluid and giving two shots a day into the same butt cheek was going to be less painful than the one shot a day, I would have been very skeptical. But that is what we have found. It seems like the early, more concentrated shots and the lumps they gave me have almost worked their way out now. I am hopful they will be gone by Monday. Instead, I have mildly sore spots from the twice daily injections that leave us plenty of room to work around them. Who knew??

I told my doctor about my experiment (the doc who is the PIO fan) and asked if there was any reason why the one should cause such stress on my body while the other is not. He was kind of rushed, but said he had no idea why that would be the case.

I hope that my body continues to play well with the PIO regimen we have going, but I am relieved to know that if the knots come back we can fall back on the Crinone.

 

 

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Petaluma & Illuminata Are In the House (aka Transfer Day)

Petaluma & Illuminata Are In the House (aka Transfer Day)

Transfer Day was this morning. I let my wife name the embryos because all I could think of was food. Peaches. Peaches & Cream. Cherries. Mango. Carrots. Green Bean. Nectarine? At least you can tell I have been eating well!!

She has long teased me that we will have a child named Petaluma. Hmph. Not so sure on that one. So, I figured what the heck. They can get new names when they are born. I forgot that Illuminata was her other outrageous suggestion!! So Petaluma & Illuminata they are!

So everything went well. I got an awesomely ass-kickingly relaxing and wonderful 2-hour (!!!!) post-transfer shirodhara/acupuncture treatment. It went like this… Pulses looked GREAT! Needles went in. Friend with 6-month-old baby is outside in the common waiting room, so baby & mom come in to say hi. There is a capella jam session happening between practitioner and mama over my table. Baby is kicking, and verbalizing and just being a happy baby and I am laughing so hard there is no sound. Only tears of rediculous joy. C’mon, embryos. This is what we’re offerering over here!!

Farewell to mom & baby, and we get down with some Ravi Shankar and the shirodhara. I. am. spoiled. rotten. Super relaxing and thorough treatment goes down. Did I mention it was 2 hours by the time I walked out?

Nice lunch with my wife. Visited some puppies. Read in the grass and sun in my backyard. Farm pickup. Check. Stop at friend’s house to get eggs from the best-loved chickens in the world. Check. Talk to fertility yoga buddy while we both play yoga hookey. Check. Make some garlic scape pesto and basil pesto? Yup. Did that too. And my shots.

Time to put the Lumas to bed now!

Good night!

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Prescriptions and PT

So I’m finally getting really and truly back in the swing of things. Nothing like a progesterone in oil (PIO) shot to make you KNOW you are trying to get pregnant!! I’m glad this is the one shot that I get to pass off to my wife. A subcutaneous shot is one thing, but I hope I don’t have to find out if I can jab myself in the rear with 1.5″ of needle.

Along with PIO and all my other goodies, I realized this morning that my prescriptions are all. over. the. place. Literally. I was managing to fill everything at a brick and mortar near me or from one very good mail order pharmacy (Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, you have a funny name, but I love you nevertheless!!!).  Ok, so every now and again, I’d use Medco aka Express Scripts, but mostly because I’d had to get my IVF drugs there and so things just got sent to them unless I remembered to send them somewhere else.  Can I just say they are anything but “express scripts?”

After my last cycle, I now have medications that have been filled at 5 pharmacies! I am trying to round up everything, figure out where each one is from, and find a chance to call each of them – while watching 3 children for 9 hours and then running off to appointments. And, yes, I do have to make a call to stupid Express Scripts because they are one of two places that have a rx for the estrogen patches that I will have to pay for out-of-pocket this next time. When they filled them in June (without calling me to verify ANYTHING including payment) it said they will be covered again by insurance in late August. A pain, but let me say again how grateful I am for what insurance does cover!!!!

I also have to call about PT for my back. Another reason I was quiet here in early July was that I had a few days of low back ache that spiraled into full-blown pain requiring muscle relaxers. That from me is pretty remarkable seeing that the only medications I do take are these for the IF. My dad was able to cover for me on July 8 so I could go to Urgent Care and helped me on July 9 when I was still not able to get up or down very easily. And again on July 10 when I could finally see my own doctor. I am just these last few days finally feeling like the clamp in my hips has released, but I know I need to get in and be seen. I had an even worse problem in April. And there is one thing I do NOT want, and that is to be carrying a baby in my body and be in that kind of pain where I am unable to work. So, even though I am feeling better, I know I need to bite the bullet and schedule something.

I can’t wait for my transfer next week. It still feels so unreal. I don’t know if it is the loooonnnngg wait between transfers this time or just the fatigue of doing this again and again. C’mon, my little embryos. Just a few more days of sleeping in the deep freeze and we will get to meet!

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Catching Up (a.k.a. Here I Am!!)

It has been a crazy busy week.

Ayurvedic Support

My friend M has come home for the summer. She went to India several summers ago and trained with an Ayurvedic doctor for several intensive weeks and is now in med school during the academic year. She is one of the first people I consulted with when I made my appointment with the RE two years ago – back when all I thought I needed was a little sperm.

She has worked with a number of women who were told that they would “never” get pregnant with their own eggs. Some of them were told that even IVF would never work for them. My understanding is that she has helped many (if not all of them) get pregnant doing natural cycles. These ladies all had a “sperm donor” at home and I don’t. I have 5 embryos in the freezer and all of the medications associated with that, but M is working with me to see if we can’t conjure that certain special “something” that has been missing in our previous attempts.

So I am following her diet closely. It’s actually got so much food that I’m eating all of the specific things noted, but occasionally skipping some veggies or one of my two afternoon proteins because I just can’t eat any more. Lots of seaweed and Vata-pacifying foods. Juicy fruits, mango, avocado, oatmeal (g-f), muesli (g-f), yogurt, almonds. Herbal infusions and some Ayruvedic herbs.  I even went to brunch at the Brewster Inn on Sunday with 4 wonderful women and managed to mostly follow the diet despite the absolutely gorgeous breads, pastries, and scones covering the first table. And the waffles. Do you KNOW how much I love WAFFLES! I didn’t eat any… I did have some sweets, but I stuck to the other rule. NO ICE CREAM until after my positive beta. One day at a time. I can do this. 🙂

I am also doing shirodhara treatments with M. This consists of warmed oil (I believe it also has herbs infused in it depending on what your needs/goals are) being dripped over one’s forehead and caught  in a container afterward. It sounds kind of strange, but it is incredibly relaxing. And it comes with a head rub from a sweet friend/gifted healer at the end. Even if it wouldn’t make me pregnant, it is totally worth it. I had one treatment maybe two years ago. My treatment last week was so relaxing, but the one I had Monday night was transformative. I experienced the spaces in my own skull in a way I never have before. It was as though I were inside my own brain looking around. That’s the best I can describe it…

Medication

I have been doing the estrogen patches this cycle. I have to say, this has been mentally transformative. I didn’t mind taking the estrogen pills three times a day, but it did get tricky. I am not the greatest at routines – to say the least – but I managed ok. But, if I forgot to take my morning pill before the first child arrived, I’d have to tweak the afternoon time. If someone wasn’t resting at nap-time, I might forget the afternoon pill, especially if I’d already taken the morning one late. But I’d almost always get it in. The bedtime one was pretty safe. Except for the night that I was running late and had someone coming early or the weekend night where I stayed up late or when I just plain forgot. So, sticking a bunch of patches (I fondly call them “stickers”) on my belly once every three days takes almost no mental energy. It was a bummer that it took an extra week to get to my lining check, but I’d already given up trying to control anything this cycle. It made it so much easier to follow the protocol though. I just fill my daily pill holder every week and on the days I would change my stickers, I just put a little note in – “2 dots.” Three days later it said, “3 dots.” Three more days, “4 dots.” Repeat “4 dots” twice more, and – Voila! – it’s Lining Check Eve.

I’m going with the PIO again this cycle, but I checked to make sure that I can change out to Crinone bid if I get the kind of reactions I got last time. I was advised to do the shot in the mornings so that I am up and walking around afterward. We are NOT morning people, so I will have to see if my DW is up for a change in routine.

Lining Check – At Last!!!

So, I finally made it my lining check. YES!!! (And my intralipid infusion.)

I don’t know if it is all the wonderfully nourishing food I am eating or the estrogen patches or the extra time before the check, but it went amazingly well. My lining rocked in at 11mm! It has typically been measured at or just below 9 – which I’ve been told is great – but I guess things are in good shape for this cycle.

My infusion went pretty well. My only complaint is that my IV was super touchy so I had to keep my arm down by my side instead of finishing this post as I’d hoped. I was forced to read. Oh, sad, sad day. 😉 I am supposed to drink 80 oz. of water today to help my liver and kidneys metabolize the intralipids. And I will be skating tonight in the hot, hot Vault. It is going over 90° today with a heat advisory that ends… right when class does. Hmmmm. I’ve only gotten about 20 oz. in so far. Better start drinking!

And I do want to say how grateful I am for the intralipids. They are sooooo much less expensive than the IVIg. And a lower risk of side effects (not that I’ve experienced any from either so far)! I feel very, very blessed to have them again.

Transfer Day, At Last!!

I could’ve scheduled to transfer Monday and was hoping to, but as this cycle has shown me again and again, I have no control over this happening when I think it will. Monday was full up of FETs, so I am scheduled for Tuesday. My Ayurvedic practitioner was hoping the transfer would be on Tuesday following the full moon on Monday night. Let’s hope this is as auspicious as she thinks it is!

So, here we go… We are officially on the track. I know when the transfer will happen and when to expect my beta. This makes me a happy person. C’mon, my little embryos. I hope you will be the one(s) that will stick around.

Names?

My last embryos were the first I named. One was the funniest looking clump of cells I’d seen. Very different from all the others I’ve seen in my own transfers and in others’ pictures, so Pickles & Ice Cream were their names for the rest of that tww. I don’t know what will catch my fancy this time, but if you have any suggestions to throw in the pot, feel free!

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