Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Crossing my Fingers and Dreaming of Normal

I've had versions of this same nightmare a lot over the last 3 or 4 years.  I'm pregnant and so happy, but with these tiny twinges of doubt.  I'm in labor and I get to the hospital to have my baby as my doubt grows and grows.  Right when I suddenly remember that I was never actually pregnant, the doctor tells me, "you aren't pregnant!"  There isn't actually a baby at all.  And then I wake up.

I had no idea how real that fear would feel when I actually became pregnant.  I still have to have my pregnancy tests sitting out on my bathroom counter to believe that it really happened and I'm actually scared to take another one in case it were to come out negative, but that's only half of it.  The other half is the fear of getting to my ultrasound next week and there just being nothing there - an empty uterus or a uterus with a non-viable hanger-on.  I wish I could say this is a crazy person nightmare and a totally unfounded fear, but we all know that it's not.  Being enmeshed in a community with so much loss - being a person who has defied all statistics thus far and had bad luck after bad luck - having seen friends and family members go through bad things in early pregnancy, it is really hard to just believe that this will all be good and normal and boring for me.  That nightmare feels so real and so so close.

My mantra has been, "Women get pregnant and have babies all the time.  Women get pregnant and make it through an entire pregnancy and have healthy babies all the time.  Women who took years to get pregnant make it through an entire pregnancy and have healthy babies all the time."

I'm sure all pregnant women go through this.  I can't imagine how you couldn't feel some serious fear over something so important.  I'm also pretty sure pregnant women who have not suffered Infertility or loss don't go through it the same way that those of us who have, do.

So, I find balance between being SO excited (and overjoyed and full of hope and full of plans) and this other stuff that is less fun.  I imagine it isn't going to go away quickly.  I have an ultrasound.  That'll be some reassurance, if it is good.  Another ultrasound 2 weeks later = more reassurance.  Passing the first trimester = huge.  Passing the point where a baby is likely viable if born, that's another.   I just hope I get to each of these.  I hope as each passes, I lose more fear and hang on to more of the good stuff!

ANYHOW.  I've been doing some thinking about what to do with this blog, and I think I've decided.  I have no interest in this becoming a pregnancy blog, or a mommy blog (barf-o-rama at that term), or even just a place I share baby stuff once I have a baby.  It's a blog about the trying to create a baby.  I don't want to turn it into something else.

So, that said, I will keep using it for a minute.  Definitely through these first two ultrasounds.  That still feels very much like a part of my Infertility journey.  Maybe through the first trimester, but that depends on what is going on and what kind of stuff I am feeling like posting.  Definitely if I experience a loss of this pregnancy.  Definitely if I decide to try again someday.  I am basically thinking about what I have wanted to read on other people's blogs when they got to this point, and what I no longer wanted to see.  I want this blog to remain a safe space for women who are experiencing Infertility. I hope that I am able to give some hope.  Those who want to follow my continuing journey elsewhere, when it moves from here, can follow me elsewhere!

So, where?  Funny you should ask!

If all goes well and you want to see pictures of baby bumps (and eventually babies) and everything that goes along with that, I'll just move you on over to the currently empty Harbinger of Birth blog I set up ages ago.  I archived for myself and deleted all the old posts that were on there (there were less than 10).  It was too painful to see the words of a 2009 and 2010 early hopeful trying version of myself.  Blank slate, now.  I'll definitely let you know here when I'm moving there for good.

And today...today I am 5 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  I am feeling symptoms that I hope are an indication of an actual healthy pregnancy (and not side effects from the progesterone I still have to inject every night, or wishful thinking, or anything else).  I am tired....very very very tired.  I am always tired in a way that feels like I'm coming down with a cold or am hungover or something.  My boobs are sore.  So so sore.  As I described to a friend, there are times where I feel like a light breeze hurts as if someone had tit punched me.  I am slightly nauseous sometimes.  Especially when I first eat at the beginning of the day.  Nothing major, nothing I would call "morning sickness" but perhaps a hint of what's to come.  I have mild cramps often.  Some days they are just there all day.  Some days they come and go.  Some days I just have more of a "full" feeling in my uterus.  Like I ate a huge meal and my stomach is overstuffed, except it's not my stomach.  This isn't dissimilar to how my ovaries felt, actually, when they were full of eggs before the egg retrievals.  I get strange pains sometimes - on both sides of my abdomen, down my legs occasionally, even deep inside my butt cheek.  Nothing sharp or horrible, just like things are already sort of growing or stretching or moving a bit.   According to Dr. Google all of this either means everything is great OR me and this embryo are both dying.  Ha.  Dr. Google is a bitch.  Honestly, though, it just seems like everything I feel is just a normal thing to feel and nothing I feel is a normal thing to feel.  It's amazing how different it is for everyone.

Crossing my fingers and dreaming of normal.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Yep!  Still pregnant!  Second Beta results in today and it went up to a whopping 665!!!  I am 4 weeks and 3 days preggers (which = two weeks and 3 days from conception) with a tiny McKellar embryo.  Estimated due date, September 1, 2014.

For those who like math/care - they want to see a doubling time of appx 48 hours (or less) of these HCG numbers.  My doubling time was 33.51 hours!  You can find all kinds of calculators on the Internet to help you figure out doubling time.  I used a couple and they each had different averages listed.  This one shows 48-72 hours, which I am well faster than!  This one shows 31-72 hours: a range that I am in.  Barely.  In all cases these are averages, and in any case a faster doubling time is not a problem.

Now my HCG level makes me fall squarely between the average for single pregnancies and for twin pregnancies.  On Monday I was just barely above the single pregnancy average.

The thing about these numbers, though, is that everyone is so different, and they don't really mean anything other than it appears to be a healthily progressing pregnancy thus far!  Which is great news, and the only available news, so I'm just gonna go with it!

So, what's next?

An Ultrasound on 1/8 - just under two weeks from now.  That is the ultrasound where they make sure the embryo is where it should be (my uterus, not my fallopian tube).  They may see a heartbeat then, but they may not.  At that point I get my "pregnancy instructions" if things look good.  I'll let you know what that means when I know!

Then, an ultrasound 2 weeks after that on 1/22 where they will be able to see if it is growing normally and has a heartbeat.  At that point, I think, I move on to a regular doctor if everything looks good.  Still early.  Things could still go horribly wrong.  But still...


So, that's where we are now.  And this is what I feel like inside. (Even though I'm not really making that face. I mean other than for the picture, of course.)

I got to work at 8:12am this morning and haven't been able to eat all day, so haven't taken a lunch break. This means I am about to go home.  Celebration dinner tonight!

Monday, December 23, 2013

My New Favorite Number


As in the number of my HCG levels according to my Beta result today!!!!!

Sorry to keep you all waiting, but I didn't want to post this before I heard back from Olga, the nurse, about my blood results.

I can't really focus enough to tell you everything, but I had two positive home tests yesterday and have been in a daze ever since.    Today it was confirmed that my numbers are, "exactly where we want it to be".

This chart gives a sense.  We are on day 15.  I go back on Thursday for blood test 2 and we hope to see the number having doubled by then.  An ultrasound probably about a week or so after that.

I really really really deeply and truly did not believe I would ever be pregnant.  There's a lot that can still go wrong.  There's a lot before this pregnancy becomes a baby.  Regardless, though, this is a game changer.  Today I am absolutely verifiably no doubt about it actually pregnant.  For the first time ever!  I even have the horrible amazing heartburn to prove it.  I love you heartburn!  I am trying to focus on the positive, and to not be scared of all the things that can go wrong.  If they do, I will survive.  I want to embrace the good for a minute of this horrific process!

(I won't post a picture of my pee sticks, cause ewww pee, but they are pretty beautiful!)

These shoes are so much happier than the last several times I've posted them!

OK.  I'm at work, and I have 39 minutes until Ian picks me up, and I'm crying again.  I need to go think about something else, as if that's possible for a minute.  OMG I have no idea how to actually be pregnant!

(edited to add:  I will continue to post here, but I'm not going to post news on my regular FB page until I feel more secure (after 1st trimester likely) as there are hundreds more people reading that than this.  Feel free to comment anywhere ova-related, but try to keep it off my normal page, if you don't mind!  xxoo everyone.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

7dp3dt Check In

I don't have a lot to report.  I'm feeling pretty distracted.  Compared to some past cycles, I keep sort of just not thinking about the fact that there are embryos in there.  Life is pretty busy, so I'm sure that's part of why.  Busy time of year and stuff.

So far all my blood draws have been fine, so the G-CSF is not causing my white blood cell count to go too high.  That's good.  Next blood draw is Friday morning.  YAY BIRTHDAY BLOOD DRAW!  After three in one week, though, the week between the last and the next is feeling pretty blissful!  

If any of the embryos are still alive, they would have solidly implanted by now.  So, at this point it's sort of a done deal.  Either I am or I am not.  Either I will or will not.

The back shots suck as much as always.  I don't always cry, but I always want to.   The belly shots are sort of just fine.  I got some great advice and can easily get the sticky patch residue off my belly now with makeup remover.  Duh!  Should've thought of that one myself.


Here are the embryos.  Blobby little guys.  The doctor said they were quite pleased with the thaw and that "none of them had freezer burn".  HaHaHa?  I'm pretty sure that was a joke, but hard to tell sometimes with docs I don't know.

This next picture is here cause it makes me laugh.  For some reason the Valium had a much stronger effect on me than usual on transfer day.  A day later I found this picture on my phone and was like, "huh?  what's this?"  Ian informed me, with shock that I didn't remember, that I had taken it just before changing into my surgical garb in the changing room.  I don't remember what he said the reason was, but I think something about how tired/high I felt.  Well, yeah.  I look it!

OK.  Cool.  So you are updated.  Laters.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The State of the Sharon

I haven't talked much about this upcoming FET.  Been sort of distracted and, I don't know, unable to really think about it.  I just feel so much better when I think about adoption, but I know some of that is a defense mechanism against more hurt.  Not like there won't be some hurt with adoption, too, but it is, at least, unfamiliar hurt!  

Here we go, though.  I've been on meds for awhile now, and yesterday had my lining check appointment with the transfer scheduled for next Wednesday.  We'll be transferring 4(!) 3-day embryos.  My lining looks good and my ovaries are as quiet as they should be, so all is well.

This is my schedule for the next weeks.  

It is insane looking to me.  In addition to all the same old same old, since adding in the G-CSF (Neupogen) I have that additional medication on this chart (that is a belly shot).  I also have very frequent blood draws (CBC w/differential) because of that shot.  These are to test my white blood cell count to make sure I don't over-react to the G-CSF in a dangerous way (in which case I'd just stop taking it).  I am the third of three current patients on this protocol at the clinic and people seem sort of excited about it, so that's kind of cool. One is in her two week wait, and the other will have her transfer earlier next week, I think.  The one patient they had before on this protocol did not get pregnant.  I feel happy to contribute to statistics and knowledge, whether it works on me or not.  

On the plus side, only a couple more days of nightmare insomnia inducing Lupron.  On the negative side, I get to have my first giant progesterone shot in my back in the middle of Ian's work holiday party on Saturday night.  My very good husband has secured us a private room in which to take care of that, since it's not as simple as a belly shot and will involve the lifting of my dress.  I usually only do that after a few shots of tequila, but I'm not drinking right now, so ya know...

The day I find out if the transfer was a success will be December 23rd (two days earlier than they usually make us wait, because of Christmas).  This is 3 days after my birthday and the day after my big annual latke party. I will probably test at home on the 22nd, which is the day I should be able to tell, so I can drink some ManPagnes (my best ever creation of Manischwitz wine and champagne - pronounced ManPain) at my latke party if I want to!  I will drink a glass of wine at my birthday dinner.  Sorry, embryos, but it's true!

Dr. Tran had wanted to do my transfer even though it isn't his week doing procedures, since it is my last one (and we like him and I think he likes us), but unfortunately he has his arm in a sling and won't be able to do it. That's a bit of a bummer.

I'm trying really hard to not think of this as what it actually is - my last shot, likely in my entire life, at having a biological child.  I, instead, seem to be viewing it as sort of the end of my torture.  There's good and bad to that.  I mean, it's good that I've reached a limit and am comfortable with it.  It's good that I've moved from hope and despair cycles into a readiness to move on.  On the other hand, it's not-so-good that every step of this cycle feels like hell to me.  The shots, the appointments, the blood draws, the planning...all of it.  I just hate every minute of it.  It feels so tiring and useless and I am so so so over it.  I'm so done.  Also, I can deny or not think about it as much as I want, but the truth is the truth and what it is is what it is, and I'm afraid of that hitting me intensely later.

I don't think the staff at UCSF really get that I'm done.  The nurse yesterday seemed surprised that I proclaimed this my last cycle when I will still have 3 embryos left frozen after this.  I guess I'm an outlier.  Nothing new there.

Yet, there is still this tiny bit of hope peeking through, as I enter this part of the cycle.  Cursed hope!

My beaten-up midsection would like to provide for you another State of the Union Report in captioned photos.
Circles where Ian will stab me nightly for at least 2+ weeks in my fleshy back bits.

Four estrogen patches and the sticky remnants and small cuts from countless that came before.  Nothing gets them off that doesn't also remove layers of my skin.  At least I have only had one bleeder with my Lupron shots, weeks ago, so no bruising!  

Anyhow, I've  been doing some Health Month over the last 2 months or so, and will continue through December, in order to just feel like I'm doing everything I can to feel good and create a welcoming body for an embryo/zygote/fetus/baby etc.  I just want to, when this is done, feel like I did what I could.  And I'd also like, when it is over, either outcome, to be in a better place to move forward than I've been for awhile re: my body.  So, to that end, I've mostly given up coffee and alcohol with a limit to one of each per week, and I don't always have the 1 coffee.  I always have the one boozeahol!  I've also limited my meat intake quite a bit.  I've started running again and am training for my first ever 5k.  I started piano lessons.   I haven't lost a single pound.  

I've gained 20 over the course of the past 2 years of these treatments.  I can't blame them entirely, but the combination of hormones, depression, lack of control over my body and what I can put in it, the fear of changing my eating in ways that might impact success rates, the amount of just sick or out of it that I feel, the inability to exercise through certain points of each cycle etc have all certainly contributed.   I just want to feel healthy and right in my skin again.  It's not the pounds that bother me as much as the general blah feeling and the sense that these pounds are essentially "pregnancy weight" for a pregnancy that hasn't existed.  It is not super pleasant to live in a body that is a constant reminder of what I want and what I do not get to have.

Anyhow, I also went to my regular doctor and got a new prescription for my anti-depressants and my migraine medicine and discussed birth control options.  The migraine meds and anti-depressants have been filled and are sitting on my bathroom sink, so I have them right away if this cycle fails.  The birth control will be called in for me when I email my doctor.  It feels good to be that secure about what I'm doing.  I look at those pills and feel amazing about being able to take back control of my body after this.  Obviously, if I get pregnant, I won't take them.  That will be the best possible outcome!  If I don't, though, I'm ready to move onward with my life.