Was pregnant? Am pregnant? I’m sort of in this strange kind-of pregnant / kind-of not pregnant limbo at the moment. I recently posted about our first cycle of IVF and at that point, I knew I was pregnant but what I did not know was that we were losing our pregnancy at the same time.
I started spotting about a week ago (5dp5dt). I was concerned of course as I thought the worst. After speaking with my nurse and doing a little bit of googling I the concluded that it may actually be a good sign. You see, implantation occurs anywhere from 1-6 days after an embryo transfer so I just assumed little Poppy implanted late and I carried on with my week. By 8dp5dt the spotting had not stopped so I decided to take a cheap dollar store test and to my surprise, there was a faint second line. I couldn’t believe it.. I stared at this faint little line for what felt like hours. I decided to go to Shoppers later that day and by a FRER (first response early response) as they tend to pick up the HCG levels sooner too. I then took that test on Thursday night, tucked it in my night stand and went about my evening. I wasn’t going to tell Shawn about it because it was too soon. Even if I saw the faint line on the FRER, it was too soon but then there it was, a noticeable line. I had to tell him. I was so excited. I had never been pregnant before. WE had never been pregnant before. I told him on the couch and showed him the test. He was cautiously excited as he is with everything on this journey and I understood his position. It was early days. Not 24 hours later my excitement started to turn in to more worry. I started bleeding heavier on Friday night. By Saturday I had a full flow consistent with my period. I didn’t know what to think, was I still pregnant? Were we losing our little Poppy seed? I had no idea what to do. I went to Shoppers again and purchased a Clearblue digital test. Never in my life had I ever made it to a point where I needed to confirm my pregnancy (mostly because we had never been pregnant). I purchased the digital test and immediately headed to the closest mall bathroom and pee’d on it. I put it back in the box, in the bag and in to my purse and left the mall. I sat in my car for what felt like an eternity before I went back in to my purse, pulled out the bag, the box and eventually the test. I saw a big bright word on the screen that I had never seen in my life: Pregnant. I FREAKED out and then immediately noticed something off with the test. This particular digital test not only tells you that you’re pregnant, it dates it as well. While I know these things aren’t 100% accurate, it showed I was 1-2 weeks when in all reality by that Saturday I would have technically been 4 weeks and 1 day. The test should have read 3+. At that moment I pretty much knew that Poppy was leaving us. I carried on with my weekend filled with family and friends and stopped testing at that point. I decided I would just hold on to the last few days I had of being pregnant while fearing the worst but hoping for the best.
Yesterday we had my beta test to confirm if I was pregnant or not. Turns out, I am.. or, was? The beta measures the levels of HCG in your blood and anything over a 5 is considered a pregnancy. They like to see your numbers over 50 on your first beta and sadly, mine was only at a 7.5. After the doctors review (and based on the fact that I had a full flow bleed since Saturday), I was advised to stop my progesterone and to come for monitoring until my levels go back to zero.
So here I am, waiting for my levels to go back to zero. Waiting to lose the rest of this pregnancy. I would be lying if I said my heart wasn’t breaking every time I thought about it but I am also trying so very hard to look at the bright side of this all. That for the first time in our lives, we were pregnant. It might have only been for a few days but I will hold on to that until I am given the chance to be pregnant again. We need to take another break again to let my body get back to normal but we will carry our with our one last frosty and prepare for our frozen embryo transfer in the fall. Things may be quiet between now and our FET but I want to thank you all again for your love and support through what is yet another bump on our LongRoadToBaby.
As I sit here 9dp5dt (or, 9 days past 5 day transfer) I have a lot to reflect on from the past 4 weeks.
For those of you who have been following, this was our very first IVF cycle after 3 failed attempts at IUI. Early in my cycle I felt really good. It was a lot more meds to handle but it seemed my body was adjusting well. I had my first scan on CD7 (cycle day 7) and of the 27 follicles we saw at my CD3 scan, 9 were maturing nicely. What does that mean? Well, typically they like to see follicles over 1.0 cm as a starting point but around the time of egg retrieval they want the follicles to be around 1.8-2.0 cm. It was around this time I started noticing some slight bloating and the Menopur headaches had fully kicked back in. You see, the average woman only has one follicle per month and I already had 9. By CD10 we had 3 more follicles maturing (to make an even 12) and the nurses let me know that it looked like we would be having our egg retrieval by the end of the week. We continued with the meds and I went back for another scan on CD11. Progress was still good but later that day I started becoming increasingly more uncomfortable. I noticed quite a bit of bloating on the right side and shortly after lunch I owned my first pair of maternity dress pants. I am not joking. I was in a meeting and could barely breathe in my pants (that I had just worn the week before perfectly fine). It was then I knew I was getting close and that I would continue to be uncountable for the next 2-4 days when they got the darn eggs out of me. On CD12, I officially started working from home as the discomfort was starting to be too much. That morning I also had another scan where we discovered 9 new follicles over 1.0 cm in my right ovary! That explained a lot. We knew at that point that those follicles likely wouldn’t mature in time for retrieval but they were there. It was also at that time that my trigger protocol was changed (the trigger shot is the last shot you take in advance of your egg retrieval). Originally I was to take a HCG trigger but with these late invaders I was now at risk for something called OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome). I went on a strict Gatorade and salt diet to try to prevent full-blown OHSS. They also decided to give me a trigger shot called Lupron. While Lupron is effective at preventing OHSS, my nurse also informed me that there was the potential that we would not be able to have our fresh transfer. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t know until after my egg retrieval if we would be doing a fresh or frozen transfer. I obviously did not want to put off our transfer for another cycle or two but I also wanted my body to be in the best place it could be to receive our little embaby.
Fast forward to egg retrieval day. I was now feeling like the size of a house and moving around very uncomfortably. We left the house at 5:10 a.m. for our 5:45 a.m. pre-op appointment. I was exhausted but also ready for these eggs to get out. Shawn was there right up until the wheeled me away for my retrieval. They don’t allow partners in the operating room for egg retrieval, only for the embryo transfer later in the cycle. I was given a couple of doses of the good stuff in my IV and the next 20 minutes I went in and out of remembering things. I was consciously sedated meaning I wasn’t fully out but I couldn’t feel anything. I do recall feeling exactly two pokes though. Not bad considering the doctor must have gone in to at least 12 follicles. I also remember hearing numbers.. 1-2-3-4. It was the embryologist counting how many eggs she was getting from the tubes. It was a fairly short procedure (about 20 minutes) and after I was taken back to recovery where I had a very nice nap. We still didn’t know if we would. Be able to have a fresh transfer or not but I did know that if the nurse administered my HCG trigger, that likely meant we were good to go. We were also told at that time that we had 8 mature eggs retrieved and they were off to get fertilized. Oh ya, while I was having my follicles drained, Shawn was dropping off his sample in another room so our eggs could be ICSI’d right away. We got home where I immediately went back to sleep. Shawn then spent most of the day bringing me Gatorade and anything else I could stomach (mostly plain potato chips). I went in and out of sleep for the rest of the day and was fully recovered 2 days later. On the Saturday afternoon we found out that out of our 8 mature eggs, 4 fertilized and that we would find our more on Monday. I went back to work that Monday and was able to wear proper pants once again. That afternoon we found out that our 4 embryos were still dividing nicely and we would have our final report on Wednesday morning – the day of our fresh transfer.
Transfer day was much easier than retrieval day. It was basically like an IUI but with a full bladder. Ok, I will admit the full bladder was super uncomfortable especially since I over drank the water that day. Our embryologist met with us before my transfer to give us a breakdown of where our embryos were at. The good news, of the 4 we had on day 3, we had one fresh 4AA blast to transfer that day. The bad news, one of our embryos arrested (meaning it didn’t make it to day 5) and the other two were questionable. I was quite upset. Not that I wasn’t thankful for the perfect little embaby that was being transferred back inside me that day, but because at that exact moment I had no backup plan if our little seed didn’t grow. I knew we still had one day to see if our other two embryos would make it to blast so I decided to stay calm and wait. I think the scariest thought for me was if our little embaby didn’t stick, I’d have to go through the stim + retrieval stage all over again which was particularly difficult for me.
Shawn and I were able to watch the whole transfer together which was pretty neat. He named our embaby Poppy as it’s basically the size of poppy seed. Now we are just in a period of waiting. The day after our transfer we also found out that one of the two remaining embryos made it to freeze so we have one additional embaby in case this one doesn’t work (or for Poppy’s future sibling).
Overall this process has been the most physically, mentally and emotionally draining thing I think I have ever been though but with a strong husband and an excellent support system, we have made it through and we are hopefully one step closer on our Long road to baby.
A couple of weeks of weeks back I listened to this awesome Huffpost podcast called IVFML and while I wasn’t sure if I’d actually make it to this stage, I sure am glad I gave it a listen. So far my IVF experience hasn’t been much different from my IUI cycles as I already had exposure to injectable medication. The difference has mainly been the dosage of my meds, the number of injections I’m doing daily and the associated side effects.
I have been on a Menopur 150 + Puregon 150 since Monday. For IUI I was only on Menopur 75 so I’m on about 4 times the dose of meds I was for my IUI cycles. I am starting to bloat which is pretty uncomfortable and I look pregnant. BAGGY SHIRTS FOR LIFE. I also have an uncontrollable appetite. Maybe not uncontrollable but I am eating more frequently and while I’m trying to keep it healthy, I find it easy to snack on junk sometimes though which probably isn’t best.
I know I explained the IUI process a couple of posts ago so I thought I’d break down the IVF process because most of this was news to me too!
Our IVF cycle in its entirety looks something like this:
- Superovulation – basically Saturday was CD1. On CD3 I went for my baseline scan at the Procrea clinic in Maple where I later go the go ahead to start my injections. These injections will help me to mass produces some eggies to increase the chance of later producing a viable embryo
- Ultrasound and blood monitoring – I am now on CD7 and just had my first follicle scan this morning. I have 9 mature follicles which is a great number so here’s to hoping they keep on growing. I anticipate I’ll add a third injection to the roster tonight (Orgulatran) which effectively stops me from ovulating too soon.
- Egg retrieval – I imagine that I will stay on stims for another 4-6 days and eventually will take a HCG (trigger) shot to force me to ovulate. 36 hours after the trigger, I will have my egg retrieval. I have been told I will be consciously sedated for this procedure which means I won’t feel a thing but I’ll be awake. Weird. The doctor will use an internal ultrasound wand (I often refer to her as Wanda) with a needle on the end and will suck out each egg from each follicle individually.
- Sample production – Shawn will be there the day of my egg retrieval and will provide the swimmers so after my egg retrieval, they can get working on fertilization
- Fertilization using ICSI – we are using an insemination technique referred to as ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection). Sounds fancy, huh? This is used usually with there is a male factor infertility issue. In our case, Shawn’s motility is low due to a rare testicular disease he was diagnosed with a few months back called testicular microlithiasis. An individual sperm will be selected and injected directly in to each viable egg. CRAZY. We then wait one day and will get a call about how many eggs fertilized.
- Embryo watch – I don’t think it’s actually called this but the embryologist will keep an eye on these little guys for 3-5 days until we are ready to transfer one back in on day 5 (which is the blastocyst stage).
- Embryo transfer – once they pick the winning embryo, I’ll go back in for a transfer which is pretty simple from what I’ve been told. Not much different from my IUI where they will use a catheter to deposit our little embaby in to my uterus. If there are additional embryo’s the will be frozen for transfer at a later date if needed.
- THEN WE WAIT
It’s actually quite crazy how quickly this is all creeping up yet I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED. My little sci-fi babe should be nestled up inside me in the next TWO WEEKS. Whatttttttttt?!
For now, I’m trying to get rest, practice yoga and meditation as often as I can and relax.
We’ll see how good I do at sitting still the next little while. I’m not tuned that way.
Thanks for keeping me sane through this all! I don’t know what I’d do without all of you (I swear I could say this a million times and mean it every single time).
Yesterday we found out our third and final IUI had failed. To be honest, I knew Tuesday. Monday night I started to spot which, in some cases, can mean implantation or could just be good old Aunt Flow rolling in to town. I feel as if I know my body and I knew what was going down. Tuesday morning I woke up with stronger symptoms and pretty much knew we were out. To confirm, I took a test that morning just so I could start to prepare myself. The thing is, you can’t prepare yourself for the feelings that overcome you when things don’t go your way.
I never thought that our first IUI would be our answer. I knew conceiving was something we were going to have to spend a little more time fighting for. I also did not think that IUI wouldn’t work for us entirely. I remember thinking to myself that this was just the extra little push we needed to conceive, and then it failed all 3 times.
The past few days have been filled with every emotion possible. I had my blood test yesterday to confirm that we, in fact, were not pregnant. Then I had my IVF appointment 2 hours later. We will start in the next 3 days or so.
IVF is a far more invasive process. One I will definitely get in to in more detail one day soon as I also have a lot to learn. I’m trying to take comfort in knowing that there is a higher success rate with IVF and that we are getting closer to our sweet babe every day.
We could have never imagined this would be our path but it is and we will continue down it until we reach where we are going.
The dreaded sentence. The sentence that people just throw out there without actually thinking about how it affects the infertile person you’re saying it to. Contrary to popular belief, I am actually a very relaxed person. I may seem busy to most people at times but there are few moments where I’m truly overwhelmed.
Last month we took a cycle break and booked a very last-minute trip to Portugal. I cannot tell you the number of people who made comments like “well maybe now you’ll get pregnant” or, “watch, once you’re relaxed and on vacation it will just happen”.
Well, it won’t and it didn’t.
I decided to use last months cycle as an example and hopefully bring more awareness to infertility. Infertility is a reproductive disease and I don’t know many diseases that can be cured with sunshine and a couple of sleep-ins. I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from Crohn’s disease as well. It’s funny how no one thought to tell me my chronic illness would be cured on my trip. Because that’s not a thing.
I was the most relaxed I’ve been in weeks on our trip. I completely disconnected from work and (most of) the outside world. We went on spontaneous adventures, took in all the sights, ate all the food, got all the sleep I could have wished for and just took it easy. I also ovulated. My fertile window just happened to fall right in the middle of our trip. When I was relaxed. And on vacation. I didn’t even know it until I was walking down the street in Lisbon and started having pains. I checked my app and sure enough it was that time.
We did all the things that we needed to do to conceive while on our trip (not even knowing I was going to ovulate) and surprise, still not pregnant! Well, not surprise to us. We know that what we are dealing with can’t be cured on a beach on the other side of the world. We know that assisted fertility is our only chance of becoming parents.
It has occurred to me recently that while I am fully fluent in all things infertility, the majority of you aren’t (and trust me, that is SO ok….). As we are approaching IUI #3, I thought I would take a moment and actually explain what a full IUI cycle looks like for us.
As some of you may know, every cycle starts with a period making the first day of my period cycle day 1 or, CD1. On or around CD3, I go for a baseline ultrasound and blood work. I have a full bladder ultrasound as well as a transvaginal ultrasound. These ultrasounds take place at a clinic about 5 minutes from our house on a first come first served basis between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. I have arrived at the ultrasound clinic as early as 6:20 a.m. so when those doors open at 7:00 a.m. I am somewhere in the top 3 in line to get in and out. After the ultrasounds are done, I then head to Procrea (our fertility clinic) for my CD3 blood work. From there, we wait for the nurses instructions but it usually includes me starting my injectable medications that night.
So far my protocol has involved 3 injections: Menopur, Orgalutran and Ovidrel (I will explain each as they come up). From CD3 usually until about CD13 I take a daily injection of 75 units of Menopur. I think I’ve explained before that Menopur “contains follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone activity. These hormones stimulate healthy ovaries to make eggs”. In other words, Menopur helps my follicles grow. Around CD6 I will have another ultrasound to see how my follicles are developing. For example during our first IUI cycle I only had one follicle on each side and only one actually grew large enough that we triggered (at about 1.7 cm). During our second cycle I had 3 follicles but, again, only one made it to 2 cm and we triggered. Our doctor will not let you trigger if you have 3 or more mature follicles due to risk of multiples and I’m okay with that. So around CD10 or 11 I start another injection called Orgalutran. Basically that stops me from being able to ovulate on my own (since I actually do ovulate on my own). They do not want me to ovulate until I have at least one mature follicle (being anywhere from 1.7 to 2 cm). So from that point until I trigger, I am taking two injections each night (Menopur+Orgalutran). From around CD11 on I never know how often I’ll be monitored as it all depends on my follicle(s) growth. Once I reach the point that my follicle is ready and it’s go time, I stop the Menopur and Orgalutran and take my final injection – Ovidrel. Once I have taken that injection, I will ovulate within 36 hours and that is when we schedule my insemination. So far, Shawn has not had to provide a sample on insemination day as we have been working with the sperm we froze before our Thailand adventure. That is about to change. FINALLY after 6 long months, Shawn is deemed Zika free (not that he had it in the first place but that is how long a male has to wait after returning from a Zika country). This month we will use a fresh sample for the first time.
After the insemination, life carries on like normal. The next morning after the procedure I start taking progesterone twice a day and that’s a whole other can of worms that I can get in to if you have questions but it’s probably my least favourite part of all of the steps of this. I think I’ve mastered it now and while I can’t control the side effects, it’s seemingly more pleasant than when I first started.
We then wait about 12 days after the IUI to have our pregnancy test and so far, both have been negative. This will be our last IUI before IVF and if we get to that stage, it will be a whole new protocol with many more steps and a completely different injection list. So for now, this is what we go through on a monthly basis to bring us that much closer to our babe. It’s exhausting (emotionally and physically) but there isn’t a single thing about the process I would change except maybe getting a positive on our next pregnancy test.
I couldn’t have possibly imagined just how much of a toll this journey really was going to take on me. I thought I could just whiz through month after month hoping for the same result and when it didn’t happen, we would just carry on. There was no way I could have prepared myself for just how much it would hurt. I know people have been through more than we have and kept on going but after 2 failed IUI’s I (we) needed a break.
We decided after our last negative we would take a trip. Take some time away to recharge and decide how we would move forward. You try and find an affordable option on one weeks notice to somewhere that doesn’t have Zika. It was tough but we landed ourselves in Lisbon, Portugal. It was exactly what we needed. We explored and enjoyed all the city had to offer. We did day trips and saw some pretty incredible sites. We slept late and ate what we wanted and just enjoyed each other. I didn’t cry. I didn’t stress. I didn’t even really think about anything to do with baby. I just enjoyed the time I was given to be alone with my husband again. I didn’t think after Thailand we would have a trip like that for a while but we are in a situation right now that we can’t control. What we can control is the moments we have to just be us because, afterall, it’s only ever been just us two. We know that will change one day and will welcome it with big open arms but also recognize we will always need time just for us.
We are now back and starting IUI round 3 in a little under two weeks. I have mixed emotions as I do each cycle but will continue to move forward being cautiously optimistic. All we can do it take it cycle by cycle and if more failure means other life experiences, I think we will get through this just fine.
Growing up for us on Mother’s Day always meant KFC buckets, DQ ice cream cake and fun family parties. That was usually because it was always overshadowed by my birthday (sorry Mom). With Mother’s Day approaching this weekend, there is no way I could have possibly anticipated how much harder this day would be for me. You see it’s not that I’m not happy for all of the deserving Mother’s being celebrated around me (including my own), it’s just that I long to be one.
When we knew that fertility treatments would be starting at the beginning of this year it seemed reasonable to me that by halfway through 2017 I would finally be pregnant. This is not the case. After two failed rounds of IUI, the journey is becoming increasingly harder and each month brings its own set of emotions.
While I’m absolutely thrilled for my Mom tribe, especially those celebrating their very first Mother’s Day, it is yet again a reminder that I haven’t joined the club. On the other side of that, I must also thank all of our Mom friends who allow us to be such an active part of their children’s lives. Without that, I’m sure we would feel a lot more lost.
I will put on a happy face this Sunday and spend the day with my own Mom doing the things that make us happy but deep down inside my heart will break just a little bit more. I will see Mother’s and their children around me and while it will be tough, I will stay strong. I will get through it just like any other day because, as I’ve said a million times, I WILL be a Mom. Just not this year.
My advice to my infertility sisters who will inevitably struggle on this day is to embrace it. Don’t feel bad for feeling all the feels. It’s all a part of the process and without it, we wouldn’t be able to move forward and carry on. Celebrate the day any way you would like to even if it’s not at all. But please know, you are not alone.
Or so they say. It is with a heavy heart that I sit here and write that, once again, I am not pregnant. Words you would think would get easier and easier to say, mostly due to repetition, but don’t. I tested early on Wednesday (which was way too early) because I already had a gut feeling what our result would be. Today’s beta was simply just a confirmation of what I already knew. The thing about it is I still held on to hope until the very last minute. Until I walked out of a two hour audit committee meeting and looked at my phone to see there was no missed call. No missed call and an unread email from Procrea.
I think the hardest part about this round is that we are now at an indefinite standstill. Shawn needs to see a specialist due to some other complications and we will regroup with our fertility doctor about next steps once we hear back from him.
For now, we wait. I think I had a lot of expectations when starting fertility. I knew it wasn’t going to be the answer right away but I certainly couldn’t have anticipated how much the disappointment would affect me since I still have yet to see a positive. My heart hurts. Like really hurts. It’s as if someone has punched me right in the stomach yet there is no one even standing next to me. I just feel completely broken inside and there is not much anyone can say or do to make this better (although we truly do appreciate the outpouring of support we have received).
Just know that I will pick myself back up. We will carry on and never give up until we have our sweet little babe. But today is not that day. Today we mourn another cycle gone and another negative result. Another bump in our Long road to baby.
I’m sorry, where did the last 6 days ago? Recap – I went in for my CD13 scan on Friday and triggered at 10:00 p.m. Friday night. IUI #2 was promptly at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning and wow did I feel good about it. I was already in a fairly pleasant mood when I woke up. Mostly because I was cramping which meant the Ovidrel was working. We walked over to the clinic around 9:45 a.m. and I walked through the door to see two of my favourite nurses standing there (bonus!). I then explained the cramping in my left side to which the nurse let me know I was likely ovulating and that it was a good sign it was on the left as that’s where my big juicy follicle was this month (I triggered at 2 cm this time). They brought in the washed swimmers and guess what? Shawn’s numbers doubled from last month! I was impressed seeing as it’s the same frozen stuff as the last time but this must have been a winning vial (also, good sign). All signs pointed to a way better experience than the first time. I left laughing and smiling and overall in a much better headspace.
I am now 2 days past IUI (or, 2dpiui in infertility talk) and feeling pretty great. I started the progesterone again yesterday morning and have that nailed down to an art. I am tired and cranky but I’ll blame my job for that one at the moment (kidding.. kind of ). May 5th is the big Beta day and hopefully I will have better news to report than last month. Of course if you see the martini on Instagram again, you know the deal.
Much love and hugs to everyone who has kept us going through this second round. It means the world.