Fetal cells for the win!

I know there isn’t really a way to prepare for disastrous news, and that regardless of how much I try to brace myself for not finding a heartbeat during Monday’s ultrasound, it will still suck major balls (if that is, in fact, the case). Nonetheless, I’m trying to think of a few things that may help me cope. There’s the obvious: Wine, hot tubs and saunas, a vacation, more wine, no more chalky Endometrin stuffed up my lady bits, etc. I’m also reminding myself of all the millions of women in this world who’ve suffered miscarriages, recovered and gone on to have healthy babies while not totally losing their sanity in the process.

On top of all this, I’m re-listening to a Radiolab podcast I discovered a little while ago. In very basic scientific terms, the hosts talk about studies on fetal cells. Skipping to the good part: They’ve discovered that women who become pregnant, whether they end up delivering a healthy child or miscarrying, retain cells leftover from the embryo/fetus in their bodies — forever. AND, these fetal cells might just help the women fight diseases like cancer later in life. What’s crazy is that, even if you’re only pregnant for a very short period of time, those cells will continue to kick around in your system until you die.

I find this incredibly reassuring — at this point, even if I lose this pregnancy, a tiny bit of Mr. Embryo will forever be staying with me. It’s rather poetic, don’t you think?

P.S. It’s kind of fascinating that the comment thread on Radiolab’s page is full of men bashing this episode for bringing emotion into the scientific process and women praising the hosts for giving them a new perspective on their previous miscarriages. Says one woman: “Discovering I still carry the fetal cells of the precious little boy I lost earlier this year — I can’t begin to express how incredibly happy it made me to hear this. Good or bad, I’m just so glad to know I still have something of him left behind!” And another: “I just want to tell you how profoundly this piece moved me. I was pregnant once, in my 20’s, but lost the pregnancy in the 6th month. I never managed to have another child. Knowing that some of the cells of that baby are still alive in me? That’s the most comforting thing I’ve ever heard.”

Your thoughts?

Srsly need to get a grip!

I am not a crazy person. I am a level-headed Taurus who tends to remain calm and focused in emergencies. I’m not moody or irrational. But holy shitballs is this run-up to the first ultrasound turning me into a LUNATIC! This is what went down yesterday:

6 p.m. – Out of nowhere, while finishing up an assignment for work (at my home office), panic that I’m not pregnant anymore and decide to pee on a stick, even though I know that it would be positive regardless of whether Mr. Embryo was dead or not, thanks to the lingering HCG in my system. Stick is, of course, very positive.

6:05 p.m. – Laughing at my silly self, I go to the bathroom, toss out the stick, and go pee. When I wipe, I see a tiny bit of bright red on the toilet paper. World starts crumbling around me. I lie down on the bathroom floor.

6:15 p.m. – Yes, I’ve been lying on the floor for 10 full minutes. Weirdly, I feel the need to pee again. Does this mean I have a bladder infection? Does this mean I’m having a miscarriage? (Obviously needing to go pee isn’t linked to miscarriages, but I was convinced, of course). So I go pee again, and wipe again, and see blood again.

6:18 p.m. – Cue total hysterics. Full-out bawling, heaving sobs, hyperventilation, shaking, the works. Run to the bedroom and continue wailing and crying “WHYYYY?” over and over again like I’m Anne Hathaway in an even more melodramatic version of Les Mis. This lasts for at least 20 minutes, then I go into a zombie-like “dead state”. I’m supposed to get groceries and do laundry, but instead I order a really disgusting spelt-crust pizza (you know what? I’m fucking done with you, spelt) and lie on the couch in my bathrobe all night, making sure to feel EXTRA sorry for myself and my dead baby.

11 p.m. – Decide to get ready for bed. I need to go pee again, and this time I opt for a new technique, very gently and strategically dabbing the toilet paper around my front bum vicinity so as to confirm where the blood is coming from. No blood. I move a little further back. There’s the blood again. I stand up and (sorry, TMI alert) investigate my innards with my finger, and the only stuff that comes out is leftover Endometrin. Suddenly, it occurs to me that my morning poops have been a bit more strained than usual, so could it be coming from much further back?? I grab a hand mirror, pull a Paul Rudd in This is 40 (skip to 1:30), and sure enough, that was the damn source of it.

Guys, I very nearly wept with joy at the sight of my own anal bleeding. THIS IS A PROBLEM. Seriously, I need to get a grip. This is not me. I am so not like this. But clearly, two years of infertility-related anxiety have left me a lot more fragile than I’ve realized.

I have such bad feelings about this ultrasound on March 4, and while distraction is very much welcome and definitely helps, it is clearly not enough. My subconscious is reeling, and I’m not sure what to do.

Advice?

P.S. If you do a Google Image search for “crazy”, this is what comes up:

huh

Yep. A man in a vagina costume (with soft-focus borders). And the URL link refers to it as a “crazy costume for a crazy party”. No kidding.

Just don’t think about whether there might be something dead or alive within you!

The week and a bit before my March 4 ultrasound is absolutely killing me. I have much, much empathy for those coping with ye ol’ 2-week-wait, but there is a special breed of torment in the build-up to Ultrasound Numero Uno, ie. the ultrasound that reveals whether you have dead human remains festering within you or an actual living being with a heartbeat and spinal cord. Yeah, no biggie — don’t even think about it.

As if. I can’t stop thinking about it. And at the same time, I’m so paralyzed with fear that I’m unable to act on my constant thinking about it, so instead I’m just sitting here in a panic, not looking into OBs, not researching what I should or shouldn’t be eating/drinking, not learning about what changes may be going on with my body — basically not acknowledging this pregnancy at all just in case I jinx it. Of course, I made the one mistake of Google Imaging what my lazy embryo should look like if it is, in fact, alive and well. And it turns out to be this weird blob that’s something between a tadpole and a misshapen kidney. That’s sort of creeping me out, to be honest.

On top of all this, I still have zero symptoms, which is worrying. OK, that’s not entirely true — I’ve been having some lower-back pain, but while that normally might console me, I’ve read about women who get lower-back pain right before they miscarry, so NEVERMIND FEELING BETTER ABOUT THAT. I guess I just have to try harder to distract myself, and hopefully the weekend will be busy enough to help me accomplish this. I’ve got a facial booked, some hang times with a friend, a brunch date, a late-lunch date, and an Oscar party. Then it’s another seven days and seven nights of mental anguish…

On another note, check out this fun toy company I found, called I Heart Guts! They make plush uteruses and ovaries! A perfect gift for the RE in your life, or perhaps that friend who still doesn’t understand what fallopian tubes have to do with getting pregnant.

ovary

This is the “ova achiever”… cuteness!

Fertility meds giveaway!

I think I’m maybe somewhere around 5.5 weeks “pregnant” right now (sorry, I still can’t really believe this might be for real, and I continue to feel very glass-half-empty about it, so for now I’m putting that word in scare quotes). Anyway, regardless of whether or not this works out, I’m fairly confident in saying we won’t have to do another fresh round of IVF, what with 14 blastocysts chillin’ like a villain in the freezer. So with that in mind, I’m going to offer up the leftover meds I have, if any of you are preparing for IVF and would like them (for free). Unfortunately, I really don’t have that much, and I’m out of the expensive stuff like Gonal-f, but I figure I may as well pass this stuff on anyway:

– Estrace. 2 mg pills, 17 of them.
– Luveris. Two unopened boxes of 75 IU/1ml doses, with separate vials of water and accompanying syringes.
– I also have another whole lot of needles and syringes of varying sizes that would work for progesterone shots, Lupron injections — basically anything intramuscular or subcutaneous. I’ll send these with a bunch of alcohol swabs, too. Just promise you won’t use these to inject yourself with lethal substances, please.

Leave a comment below if you’re interested in anything! Hopefully I don’t get in trouble with Canada Post… but if I do, I’ll just start crying. No one can get mad at a crying pregnant lady who’s just trying to help other crying ladies get pregnant themselves, right?

Still pregnant, but with a lazy-ass embryo that is taking its sweet fucking time to grow

lazy

Honestly? HONESTLY?! As y’all know, I was hoping today would be the day when I’d get a straightforward, crystal-clear answer after my third beta draw — either a very low number that said, “It’s over, this isn’t happening, purchase and consume that bottle of wine immediately and rejoice in not having to shove “effervescent vaginal tablets” (aka Endometrin) up your vajizza three times a day,” or a high number that would put me totally at ease and say, “I was just messing with ya, silly! Here I am, doubling perfectly at 48 hours, so start buying maternity pants and thinking about boy names you don’t hate… can Clover be a boy name?” Instead, I got pretty much the same doubling time as before, going from 445 on Friday to 1,672 on Tuesday (I’m actually so incompetent at math, I have no idea what that doubling time is, but it should have been 1,780).

Once again, the nurse was all, “Girl, you are so good! Relax!” and reiterated my instructions for the ultrasound on March 4th, which involves having a tech finding out whether or not it has a heartbeat — but NOT TELLING US, and instead making us wait an hour or so until our doctor can fit us into his schedule to reveal the results. Like, seriously, we’re paying how much for this and you’re making us wait for an hour to find out whether this thing is even alive?! Now I will know how those girls feel at that cocktail party before the rose ceremony on The Bachelor — ie. “Get this shit OVER WITH”.

Aaaanyway, I suppose this is what infertility is all about, right? It clearly doesn’t turn into schmetterlings and regenbogens (butterflies and rainbows, my two favourite German words) as soon as you see two lines on an HPT. It simply means that you go from coping with one variety of incessant worrying and assuming the worst to another variety of incessant worrying and assuming the worst. And I have a sense that this will continue even when there’s a live baby in my arms. Sigh.

And it all comes screeching to a halt…

I knew this would happen. I finally crossed the first hurdle of the infertility challenge and now I’ve fallen flat on my face at the second hurdle. Why do I feel like I’ll have to clamber over 50 more hurdles of heartbreak and stress before there’s an actual baby in my arms? In case you’re totally confused: I went in for my second beta today and it was 445. My first beta was 244. That’s a doubling time of 55 hours, when it’s supposed to be 48 hours — and to be honest, most of the bloggers I read who go on to have healthy pregnancies start off with doubling times of, like, 38 or maybe 42 hours, which makes this even worse.

The nurse on the phone asked if I was spotting, which means she clearly has her doubts about this too, I think. But then she went on to say it’s “fine” and that my doctor feels it’s “fine” and I should just keep doing whatever I’m doing until my first ultrasound on March 4. At that point, it’ll be 7 or so weeks, and they’ll need to see a heartbeat.

Honestly, I can’t deal with this. I called back and begged to get one last beta, and the nurse only relented because I was so frantic. The earliest they can fit me in is Tuesday. At that point, it should be 1,800. If it’s any lower, I’m assuming this is a done deal.

Great start to the long weekend.

It might just be an awesome Valentine’s Day…

Last night, I dreamed that I took a pregnancy test and I was pretty sure it was positive, but it was like this old-school thermometer with the mercury thingy and I had to tilt it at a funny angle to read the lines, and the second line kept disappearing on me (yeah, I get it, subconscious — way to be subtle). This morning, I peed on an actual home pregnancy test (not a thermometer), then took the stick back into bed with me, and lay there staring at the ceiling, wondering how I’d tell everyone that it was negative, if I should cancel my plans to visit a museum tonight just in case I broke down weeping, then convinced myself that it was better negative anyway because my body should really recover from all the medication and the hyper-stimulation before trying to grow a fetus. And wine! Totally wine.

Then I held my breath and looked. And I saw this:

peestick

And then I was all:


GIFSoup

And then I started crying, and thanking a god I don’t believe in, and I may have actually kissed the damn pee stick, which in hindsight is pretty fucking gross, but at that moment I really just wanted to call the people who make First Response Early Result HPTs and thank them profusely for giving me a second line (I’m still convinced they’re the ones behind this, not myself or my fertility doctors). It’s a bit faint, but at 9dp5dt, I’ll take it.

I had an appointment at the clinic this morning, too, to check up on my OHSS, which is still kicking around but at a “mild” level. I begged to do a blood test because waiting until Monday would kill me, and the nurse relented. My beta was 244.

I’m pretty sure that 9dp5dt is the equivalent of 14 dpo, in which case I think that number should be fine (it’s at least an improvement on the 11 that showed up with my ectopic). I’ll of course be going in Friday to make sure it’s doubling.

Until then: Still not letting Lady Hope in the door, but in good spirits nonetheless. Oh, and this is what Weeps had to say about it:

licking

On hold…

I’ve decided to wait until Wednesday before I pee on a stick, which means twiddling my thumbs until then. This feels a LOT like when I’m on hold with Air Canada or Bell (my phone provider) and I start to put on my crazy pants as the minutes tick by and I get increasingly agitated. Except now I’m stuck in this state for, like, 48 hours and it’s not a pretty picture. To give you an idea, first play this music:

And then imagine me doing this:

While I clutch handfuls of pee sticks and weep.

Fun times over here. Stay tuned!

4dp5dt: Not feeling it

Four days after transferring Blastocyst #15 (I’ve decided to count down rather than up), I have to say, I’m not feeling this. Sometimes, I’ll obsessively try to symptom-spot, like, “Omg I can smell those flowers from halfway across the room — I must be pregnant!” (reality: they’re pungent flowers); or “Omg I felt a twinge on the right side of my uterus — I must be pregnant!” (reality: I’m gassy); or “Omg I just started to feel a bit dizzy and nauseous — I must be pregnant!” (reality: it’s first thing in the morning and I ate some potentially stale cheese the night before). In all honesty, nothing is going on. Not even sore tatas, which I should be feeling with all this progesterone in my system. So I’m pretty convinced, deep down, that a BFN is in my near future.

I guess what I’m wondering is: What’s the earliest I should be testing if I want 100% confirmation? I know some ladies out there start peeing on sticks at 5 or 6 days post-transfer, but those second lines are always so faint, and I really don’t want to deal with “squinters”. Just want a yes or no answer, straight-up. Should I wait until 9 days?

And yet, if I wait til then, I have a feeling my Valentine’s Day is gonna look like this:


GIFSoup

“Unheard of”

The night before our embryo transfer was NOT fun. Every now and then, my stomach decides to clench up and spasm, to the point where I can’t eat anything and even the slightest movement is incredibly painful, and it lasts for days. Well, wouldn’tcha know, that’s precisely what happened on Sunday night. I didn’t get any sleep, I was paranoid it was OHSS rearing its ugly head, and I was afraid to take any meds in case they interacted with this Dostinex drug I was taking or screwed with my uterus. At 3 a.m., I said to myself, “I’m phoning the clinic as soon as they open and cancelling this transfer.” Seriously — I wasn’t even sure I could swallow a litre of water for the full-bladder ultrasound, let alone provide a calm, relaxed environment for a blastocyst.

Then, at 7:15 a.m., I decided I’d at least try to force down some water and go to the clinic, if only so they could tell me it was, indeed, OHSS, and reschedule a date for an FET. But when I arrived, everything just kind of ticked along merrily and the ultrasound showed my abdomen was fine and my bladder was full and, well, I couldn’t say no to that perfect little blastocyst waiting patiently in its test tube for me. On the down side, my clinic doesn’t give photos to take home and doesn’t really do that 4AA 5AB whatever grading system, so I have no idea what it looks like, but I trust that it’s just dandy and sticky (hubby asked our doctor how the embryologist chose which one to insert and he said, “Oh, we just pick the one with the happy face on it!” Har har). On the up side, we at least could watch the screen as it went into my uterus — a little spark, as my husband described it. Aww.

Then we got some news that made me thrilled enough to momentarily forget the searing pain in my stomach — we ended up with 15 blastocysts! With one inside me now, that’s 14 left as backup. My doc said this is “unheard of” and that, in all his years at a fertility clinic, he’s never seen anyone produce this many blastocysts, so the over-achiever in me was very satisfied that at least we did something right.

inconceivable

Now, I’m on bedrest for three days. Focusing on keeping my uterus very still while also finding a way to convince my bowels to continue moving, which just doesn’t seem to be happening of late. Why can’t my innards all work together toward a common goal?!

My mom actually dropped by yesterday to hang out in bed with me, which made the afternoon go faster. She’s a bit like a nonna in her compulsion to bring shitloads of food and flowers whenever she comes over, but because my mom’s also a doctor, she tends to walk in the door with arm-fulls of drug samples, too, if I’m even remotely ill. Needless to say, I was greeted at 11 a.m. by a torrent of random soft foods (including 24 eggs, multiple tubs of yogurt and a packet of sour keys — for you Americans, sour keys are this), a six-pack of yellow Gatorade, a bouquet of white roses, trashy magazines and fist-fulls of over-the-counter gas relief pills, many of which expired in 2001.

Hubby has also been very good about being my runner, bringing me tea and eating lunch with me in bed (we’re both self-employed). My doctor kept joking that I should refer to my husband as “slave” during this three-day period, but Imma be honest, that’s a little weird.

OK, I’m starting to ramble here. So let me sum up:

I’ve got a lot of support happening right now from both friends and family and loved ones, which is awesome and gives me the warm-fuzzies (or maybe that’s the sour keys and expired drugs talking). But on the other hand, I thought I’d be more excited right now. I don’t feel pregnant (or even PUPO), I don’t have high hopes, my stomach hurts, I have a headache, and trying to conduct actual work from bed really sucks. I’m incredibly grateful to be done, forever, with stimming myself and to have so many blastocysts on ice, but frankly, there really isn’t anything to get excited about until you see those two lines. Hmph.

violin