Stay the course.

So, we had a bit of an up-and-down week.

Outside of the baby making process, we spent two days last week babysitting two of our three nieces (my sister has two girls: one who is two-years-old, the other 8 months), and my wife’s brother and his wife have a little girl who is 18 months). My sister and her husband are fortunate to have jobs that enable them to be home a lot of the time to care for their girls (they work opposite schedules) but every so often they have a day or two that is “uncovered” and they can generally get a family member to take the shift. My wife and I have a ton of time left to take off since this year was so busy, so we agreed to come down for two days to watch them.

First of all: I have a ton of respect for stay-at-home parents. It was literally 9am, and I turned around and it was 4:30pm, my sister was on her way home, and I was trying to convince the two-year-old to keep her clothes on and throw something together for dinner before my sister made it home for the night.

Don’t get me wrong: every woman (and man) in my family is a working parent, and I 1000% believe they are warriors for working so hard, having to leave their kiddos in someone else’s care, and do everything they can to provide a good life for their kids, but staying at home all day isn’t just watching soap operas and enjoying treats while you lay on the couch. It’s hard work.

Anyway, it was so wonderful to spend time with them because they live about two hours from us, and we really got to have some candid conversations about how we want to raise our kids (how to discipline, whether or not to sleep train, what to feed them, etc.). You don’t think of all of the nuances involved in raising a child (or how much the child’s personality can quickly change your plans), but seeing our siblings do it (the good and the bad) is giving us a good foundation. Its also helping my wife learn how to change diapers 🙂

On Saturday, my sister traveled closer to us to spend the weekend at my mom’s for my niece’s birthday. We went to a winter light show with the girls, and it was a blast seeing my niece tear into her birthday gifts. Last year, she was still so little, and now – at two – she has a ton of personality, so she really seemed to enjoy it all.

I got her a doctor set that was based on the television show Doc McStuffins (my niece doesn’t watch it yet, but is already beginning to show interest in role play, and I figured she’d love the little case that all of the pieces fit into, as she loves purses). It came with an adorable doll in a little ladybug outfit, and the doll happened to be black. My niece liked the doll (but was far more interested in the doctor kit), but my mom saw it and asked why we couldn’t find a nice blonde doll that looked like my niece, and my sister and I gently explained to her that my niece already has plenty of blonde dolls already [and could honestly probably stand to have a dump truck or tool kit or two in her toybox], and my sister went on to say how she wanted to begin to expose my niece to the beauty of black skin  in an effort to help my niece to be more respectful and appreciative of everyone from a young age.

My sister and I never had dolls that weren’t blonde haired and blue eyed. We lived in a homogeneous neighborhood, went to a homogeneous elementary school, and didn’t learn about other cultures until we moved in high school. Our minds were further pried open in college, and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I want my kids’ experiences to be different. I want them to know about the evil in this world and want to do better. I want them to see color, appreciate it, and love people. period.  I want them to taste food from many cultures, experience art made by people of all backgrounds, and learn from everyone they meet. I want them to be better than I was as a child.

No pressure, right?

I mean, I’m kind of kidding – there really is no pressure. We just want to do things from an early age to expose our kids to many different people and things in an effort to cultivate appreciation and respect.

Anyway – we wrapped up the weekend baking cookies with our third niece (which was the cutest thing ever) so it was a pretty perfect week.

On Saturday, we put in an impromptu bid on a home that is one block from a home we missed out on earlier this summer in our dream neighborhood. It was a little small, and needed some work, but it was right within our price range and in the most ideal location we could dream up.

We went through about 3 hours worth of work reviewing the contract to place an offer, only to find out on Sunday that our offer was rejected because the seller didn’t like that we needed to first sell our home in order to buy.

I mean, I guess there are lots of first time homebuyers out there, but the home wasn’t really being sold at a first-time-homebuyer-kind-of price. We’re not bitter. I promise.

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ANYWAY – I got that news during a morning during which I had some spotting that was making me a little nervous. Between the spotting, and the bad news about the house, I was in a pretty terrible mood, and laid down to take a nap. When I woke up and went to the bathroom, I noticed about a tablespoon of blood in the toilet when I stood up and called my wife in. Her face looked so incredibly defeated, and I started to cry. I called my doctor’s office, and they weren’t very concerned, but I thought that amount of blood in the toilet was above-and-beyond normal spotting, and began plotting next steps and preparing my heart for the worst news.

I had an appointment the next morning to have my blood drawn and HCG levels tested, and asked the nurse to please take pity and call me early with the results: good or bad. She rang around noon and left me a voicemail since I was in a meeting, and started out with, “I do have your results back, and trying to give you a call as soon as I can. Everything looks great, your HCG went up to 7600″… I almost fell out of my chair and couldn’t even listen to the rest of the message right away. We’d anticipated that based on a rate of doubling every two days since my last appointment, it should have been right around 3000, so 7600 blew our expectations out of the water. The following day, we had our first ultrasound and the ultrasonagrapher advised us that we could expect to see a gestational sack, but that it would likely be too early to see anything else. We were stunned to see the gestational sack clearly situated in the center of my uterus, and a tiny yolk sack inside as well. She told us that she saw more than she was hoping to and that it looked “perfect”. We have an appointment a week from now to *hopefully* see the first heartbeat. Fingers crossed for continued good news.

She said that the blood could have been due to the embryo burrowing, and that sometimes they hit blood vessels and she advised that in those cases – the blood has to go somewhere, and it typically drains out.

Later that night, our doctor called us and congratulated us again, and told us how eager he was to see us at our next appointment (we haven’t seen him in FOREVER since he bounces between offices and we usually have appointments with the nurses). I was really happy that he called.

So…things are well, but we’re still too early to be celebrating. Our plan is to tell our families on Christmas (which will be 7 weeks and 1 day….early, but we would just love that support, and can’t wait to tell people).

Still no symptoms aside from exhaustion which kicked in this week. I’ve been peeing a lot, but that’s been pretty consistent since I started the Progesterone shots.

Speaking of, I also had my first progesterone-in-ethyl-oleate shot last night and it went surprisingly well. I don’t seem to have had any reaction and am hopeful that it will work as well as the sesame oil. Fingers crossed.

Hope everyone else is experiencing good news and enjoying the holiday season. I know that this can be a rough time of year for some: if that’s you, hang in there (and hugs!). If you’re a holiday nut like me, enjoy 🙂

 

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Progesterone In Oil Shortage

I was fortunate to start this cycle with 2.5 bottles of PIO from our last cycle, and I am slowly making my way down to one bottle so I decided to call in a refill to a nearby-ish fertility pharmacy.

Me: “Hi, I’d like to refill my prescription of progesterone in oil.”

Pharmacy tech lady: “Name and birthdate?” (…after filling her in…) “Okay, hold on one minute.”

Random pharmacy man: “Hello, um…there has been a nationwide shortage of progesterone for several weeks now. There is a long backlist. Would you like me to add you to it?”

Me: (now panicking) “How long has this been going On? When will it be in? WHAT DO I DO?!?”

Pharmacy man: “Its been going on for several weeks now. Every week they say they are getting more in, and so far…nothing.”

I subsequently launched into full panic mode and told both the pharmacy and the clinic that I was appalled that neither thought to advice their patients who rely on the medication after having invested thousands of dollars and their hopes and dreams into one of these cycle, and my clinic launched into crisis control and called the pharmacy to find out if they could make a substitute blend of progesterone in ethyl oleate, as I then found out that just the progesterone in sesame oil was affected.  (The clinic said they were told that it is manufactured in Puerto Rico – you know – the small hurricane ravaged island that is part of the USA that our president refuses to acknowledge is as devestated as it is and has denied all kind of aid to – yeah, that one. I swear I didn’t need another reason to dislike him.) My doctor said he could eventually swap me to suppositories, but he doesn’t like to do that until a few weeks later when things feel more certain and confident.

The pharmacy then called me back to let me know that the progesterone in ethyl oleate would be ready today. He also said that 99% of insurance companies Don’t cover the ethyl oleate blend….but our does. Go figure.

We will totally take what we can get, though. The only thing that makes me nervous is that I have read about a slot of women having reactions to the ethyl oleate and that it may not be fully supported across the medical community. I do trust my doctor, but have concerns as well.

Has anyone ever used the progesterone in ethyl oleate? Good? Bad? How about olive or cottonseed oil? I plan to inquire about those next if I react to the EO.

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(Wife giving me my injection)

 

In other news, we had our second beta test yesterday and my number increased as hoped to 341! I have my 3rd beta on Monday and an ultrasound shortly after as long as all continues to go well. I have begun having more regular cramping…similar to period cramps but very infrequent. No other symptoms.

Please keep the good vibes coming…we are not in the clear, yet!

Hugs and good wishes to all.

 

The results are in.

So I made it. I somehow made it the entire nine days since my transfer without going insane.

A work trip mid-week really helped to keep my mind occupied, but I still went to sleep and woke up fixated on whether or not our procedure worked.

As I mentioned in my last post: my symptoms have been…well, nonexistent. After our last transfer (when we miscarried an empty sack at 8 weeks) I felt light cramping (similar to period cramping except it was VERY light and not-very-painful), my boobs felt sore, and I was EXHAUSTED. All. The. Time.

This time, I’ve been tired (but that pretty much started the day I stopped drinking coffee about 3 days before the procedure), but not overly exhausted. No soreness. No cramps. I have felt a slight feeling of discomfort primarily on the left side of my lower abdomen (where I suspect my left ovary is) but am not sure why or what it means, or if it’s even related to the transfer.

So I was away for three days for the work trip, and the first day happened to be 5DPT (days past transfer) for me, which is when we got a faint positive the last time. I made a promise to my wife that I wouldn’t take a pregnancy test while I was away, but was so overwhelmed by the feeling that it didn’t work that I felt like the test would help to put my mind at ease one way or the other. I tested first thing in the morning (when I woke up at 5am) and climbed back in bed with the test. After my phone timer started buzzing, I reached over and turned on the bedside lamp, and looked at the test to see a single, lonely pink line. At that point, I began to feel pretty confident that it didn’t take. I had no symptoms, and I took the test around day 5 with not even a faint line. I just knew that was it.

After wallowing in sadness for the day – in between work meetings – I disclosed to my wife that I took the test and basked in her – seemingly undeserved – comfort, even though I broke my promise to not test while I was away. I then started to feel better and think about our next steps and we decided that we hoped to be able to transfer again as soon as possible and jump right back on the horse.

I woke up the next morning and decided to take one last test to confirm the results, and was surprised to see a faint pink line. I texted my wife a photo of the test with a message that said, “Um…maybe don’t count us out yet,” and got an immediate response of a surprised face emoji. We decided that we were excited, but very cautious. After all: we had a positive test the last time (4 to be precise) and ended up with a beta of approximately 20 (I can’t remember what it was exactly, now…its a few posts back if anyone wants to read it) and that led to our miscarriage. We decided that we wouldn’t get excited at all until we got a call with a solid beta number.

So today, we went in at 9:30 for my blood draw appointment – which ended up being pretty quick and painless other than a nasty bruise left where the needle went in.

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Afterward, we went to the mall for some shopping (which was literally the BEST as my wife hates shopping) and we picked up a few small Christmas gifts. As we were getting ready to leave the mall, I looked at my phone and noticed a missed call (with NO voicemail!) from the clinic, and we tried to call them back and remembered that they don’t take active calls over the weekend – they route them to an emergency call service. So we were left for another two hours panicking about our results, and kept going back and forth about whether the missed voicemail was good or bad.

Finally: we got a call from the nurse at the clinic who let us know that my HCG level was…..139!!!!

I immediately began tearing up and all I could think to say was “thank you”, to which she responded that the rest of my stats (progesterone and estrogen) also looked good and that I should continue my regimen of PIO shots, baby asprin, and estrogen pills. The nurse let us know that our regular nurse was in the office and was shouting “congratulations” in the background, and that the missed call was from the doctor himself who was calling to congratulate us. It was so incredibly overwhelming, and a place I never thought we’d get to (not even four days prior!).

You guys: we are pregnant. And my guarded heart knows that it isn’t time to celebrate yet: that we aren’t really out of the woods until we hear a heartbeat, then cross the 12 week threshold, then eventually hold a baby in our arms: and even then you aren’t ever fully certain how long you will have your baby. But we made it over hurdle number one. We made it with flying colors.

So on the way home, we stopped at one more store and picked up something small to celebrate this momentous day because we are living our dream right now. ❤

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It’s still so hard for me to write this, as I know so many people who aren’t there yet and we continue to pray with you, cheer for you, and send our positive thoughts and wishes that your miracles come quickly.

And please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as well. We made it over hurdle number one, but we have many more to go.

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The two week wait: again.

Today we are 2DPT (or days past transfer for anyone new to the IVF lingo). I forgot how difficult this period of waiting was. Before we get to that, though, let’s talk transfer.

The transfer: 

Our transfer was the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States – on “Black Friday” (a.k.a. shopping heaven or hell – depending on how much you like deals or dislike people). My sisters and I usually make an early trek out to a few stores to start our holiday shopping, with the exception of last year: as I was busy getting married. This year, our anniversary fell a day later; however, the date of our transfer happened to be another special occasion: my in-law’s wedding anniversary (and odder still, the day we will get our pregnancy test results will be my parent’s wedding anniversary.) I think many people would attribute that to serendipity, but I hope there is something even more special and meaningful behind it all. I hope this process works and we get that good news on a day that’s always been special in my family.)

The second transfer was significantly easier and less painful than the first. We arrived at the clinic an hour ahead of time so that I could have an accupuncture treatment (I had read that it is helpful, and when I asked my clinic about it, they actually said they recommend it and share the name of a local acupuncturist who frequently visits their facility to perform day-of-transfer acupuncture treatments.

The woman we met with was amazing. She brought my wife and I back into the room together for the treatment, called me “love” and “dear” and kept asking if I was warm and comfortable enough. She put the acupuncture needles into my feet, hands, abdomen, forehead, and the top of my head, and explained that it helps to increase blood flow to the uterus and can increase the success rates of IVF by up to 13%. I am pretty skeptical by nature, but since my clinic recommended it (and they are very science/evidence based in their practice) I figured it was worth the $250 we spent on an in-clinic treatment. Afterward, the woman hugged my wife and I, and told us to let her know how our procedure pans out. It was such a loving and warm way to kick off the transfer, and I think it may have been worth it for that hug alone.

The acupuncturist told me ahead of time to stay hydrated the morning of my treatment. The clinic asks you to arrive at the time of your treatment with an uncomfortably full bladder, but since you have an hour of acupuncture ahead of the actual procedure, they suggest going to the bathroom on arrival and then making sure to drink throughout the procedure so that it’s filled again for the transfer.

Long story short: the receptionist ended up having to give me about 4 cups to continue letting out a little at a time while I waited for my actual transfer to start, as I was apparently too hydrated. I kept only going a little at a time as I was afraid to go into the transfer with a bladder that wasn’t full enough (and the receptionist gave me a few evil glances when I kept asking for cups and assured me that I’d be scolded by the doctor), but when I got up on the table to start the transfer, the doctor told me that it was still too full and that she couldn’t get a good read, so she asked me to go again, and I was literally SO comfortable after that, after having sat with a painfully full bladder for about 30 minutes prior to the procedure starting. I guess I am also used to the range of tools that pry open, poke, and prod my lady parts as I watched this entire procedure (unlike the last time when I couldn’t bare to do anything but wince in pain and barely glance up at any of the images) including the beautiful image of my hatching 5AB embryo after having been fully re-hydrated after spending a few months in the freezer. I could make out every part of the ultrasound screen: my bladder, my uterus (and the lining) and even the catheter going in, and eventually the tiny embryo flashing out at the tip. It was magical compared to the last experience.

Lesson: they tell you to have a painfully full bladder, but literally: a glass of water should do the trick. My pain was totally unnecessary as I was able to walk in completely comfortable once my bladder was the size they actually wanted it to be.

After the procedure, we went to lunch (we ate in the car so I could recline a bit and stay warm), and then I went home to nap on the couch, do a little online shopping, and finally go over to see my parents, sisters, my nieces, and even my cousin and her daughter who are currently living with my parents. It was a really nice night surrounded by family.

As we were getting ready to leave my parents house, I asked my 2-year-old niece if I could have a hug. She usually ignores me or tells me “no” but she ran up with a huge smile and flew into my arms, and I was so caught off guard by her spontaneous affection that I stood up with her in my arms and hugged her tightly. As soon as I assumed the standing position, I remembered my clinic discharge paperwork about not lifting anything heavy, and I looked at my wife and waited to be scolded (she really makes sure I follow all of the orders) and I went home afterward and cried – thinking I may have just cost us the entire procedure because of an unexpected hug. My wife comforted me as I fell asleep crying (I’ve been more emotional than normal these last two weeks anyway, but was pretty hysterical on Friday night). I asked my nurse about it in the morning when the clinic called to check up on me and she told me that she wouldn’t think twice about it. She said that the instructions are important, but when it comes to lifting she said it was more important for women coming out of retrievals due to the size of their ovaries and potential to injure themselves. She said that the microscopic embryo is well protected in my uterus and that I shouldn’t worry about picking up a two-year-old one time.

Has anyone else ever messed up their orders or done anything you thought was going to jeopardize your procedure? What did you do?

Symptoms: 

After my first transfer, I felt very light period-like cramps in the middle of my abdomen around the time I was going to bed the day after my procedure, and they came and went periodically in the two weeks that followed. So I have been cautiously watching and waiting for those cramps, while also reminding myself that this could feel different and that every attempt may not yield the same symptoms for the same person. (No cramps, yet). It’s just so incredibly hard not to compare, and it’s basically impossible not to worry everyday: especially after the last time.

After the cramping commenced the last time, I also got really sore breasts – another symptom that hasn’t kicked in yet, this time.

All I’ve really had this time is some light abdominal aches and pains, but I don’t know if it’s implantation, gas, or even just my hopeful imagination.

My wife is very against taking a home test this time, due to the last outcome (we tested early, got a faint positive, got really excited, and then got a low initial beta followed by an eventual miscarriage). I am on the fence – part of me thinks it will help to ease my unsettled mind and/or help manage my expectations, but another part of me knows very well that it could crush me. We will likely end up waiting (just another week at this point) for the actual results from the clinic.

It’s just so hard: part of me wants to hope and dream, and get excited (and I do) and another part of me is so jaded by what happened, and fearful of an outright failure of this cycle altogether, that I know that hope will only lead to a more heartbreaking end, if this does – in fact – end negatively. It’s SO HARD not to think that way.

In the meantime, I have one last work trip that I leave for in two days, so I am going to try to let that distract me and get through the week and take the clinic test on my parent’s anniversary and hope/pray for good news.

We welcome any extra hopes and prayers.

This is working. This embryo is growing. This is going to be good. 

Thankful.

Our second embryo transfer (first frozen embryo transfer) is on Friday. Today I had my final pre-transfer doctor’s visit, and it couldn’t have gone better.

The doctor came in flanked by his medical assistant and got right down to business with the ultrasound wand: as soon as he popped it in (literally, my head wasn’t even fully down on the table, yet) he exclaimed, “this is the BEST lining I have seen all day.”

Granted, I didn’t do much to get my lining into perfect shape but take the medication that they prescribed to me, when they told me to take it, but it was a compliment that I basked in for the entire hour drive home. My thighs might touch a little, my house may not be perfectly clean all the time, but damn it – my uterine lining was a 10 (literally and figuratively!)

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(If you’re a GOT fan, I literally hate Baelish, but I totally made that face when we got into the car after the appointment…)

So, lining was great and around 3:30 I finally got the call about the rest of my bloodwork and follow up instructions. We waited for the call ALL DAY. After the appointment, we ran some errands, stopped by a few open houses (still looking!) and then headed over to my in-laws for dinner. Before we got there, I decided to run into the liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner (I just have a glass here and there – I haven’t been abstaining leading up to the transfer like I did the last time, as my doctor said there really isn’t any reason to do so as long as it’s consumed in moderation). My wife asked me to leave my phone in the car as she’d forgotten hers a home, so I asked her to take the call if the clinic were to ring while I was in the store. I couldn’t have been inside more than 4 minutes and once I got out, she let me know that they JUST hung up. So I asked her what they said, and she let me know that….SHE DIDN’T ANSWER THE PHONE!

She said she wasn’t sure what to say, and figured I could listen to the voicemail. About 10 seconds into the 1 minute and 30 second voicemail, the nurse mentioned that I should start taking methylprednisolone tonight – a prescription I didn’t have filled as I’d forgotten that I had taken it the last time (I literally only introduce it for the immediate few days before and after the transfer – it apparently helps prevent rejection of the embryo…at least, that’s what I think they told me back in September).

So it’s Sunday, the clinic is closed (their phone system always routes you to their emergency line on the weekends and they only work limited hours in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays, so I’d imagined already that I was one of their last calls) and after a panicked two hours or so, I got a script called into a local 24 hour pharmacy, and now the pill is floating safely in my belly along with 2mg of estrogen, a prenatal vitamin, a baby asprin, a glass of water and a few Hershey’s kisses (you can’t take all of that on an empty stomach…right? 🙂 )

My wife is a saint. She patiently helped me make the phone calls to get the prescription called in while I was a miserable monster and yelled at her for not taking the call (but real talk: she did hold onto my phone in the event that the clinic called, and we could have had the script called in an hour sooner had we mentioned it to the nurse during the call…but it all worked out, and will likely make for a good story later when we tell our friends and family).

So now: I relax and enjoy this glorious week off from work and get some much needed meal prep and other chores done, and then enjoy family time on Thursday and soak up transfer day on Friday (and maybe do some online shopping, since it IS Black Friday after all!)

Fingers crossed. My heart gets more excited with the possibilities every single day, and then simultaneously terrified as I recall what happened the last time.

Please think of us, pray for us…put something good and loving out into the universe in our little embryo’s honor. We are grateful for everyone who has loved and supported us to-date, and we feel incredibly grateful for everyone who reads these posts: however rambly and incoherent they may be at times (it depends on how tired I am and how fast I’m trying to write, haha).

We are feeling a ton of love and gratitude this week (and always, but especially this week) As we reflect on this Thanksgiving holiday we just feel so incredibly fortunate to have our family, and our friends, and all of the wonderful people we have encountered in this last year – especially our fellow women on this fertility journey. Whether you are doing (or have done) IVF, IUI, or at home inseminations: whether you are straight, gay, married or single, in your mid-20s or mid 40s, whether you had (or will have) success on your first try, or your 10th: we see you, and we appreciate you. We will forever have an understanding, a common bond, a link…by this journey we are both on, and we wish for you all: perfectly timed ovulation, high embryo counts, good HCG numbers, a full ultrasound screen, two pink lines, and everything you want, really. And if things don’t go well and the news isn’t good – I look forward to talking about it, and appreciate all of the kind words when we got our bad news in September.

When we pray at night for good news, we pray twice: once for us, and once for all of you. Hopefully our prayers are answered, soon. ❤

grateful

We’ll update you on the other side of transfer.

xoxo

It’s a date.

Pros and Cons

So we have a date for our second (frozen) embryo transfer. We have been so torn about this cycle over the past few weeks: we debated waiting until the new year – after all of the hectiness of the holidays was over – and weighed so many different pros and cons of proceeding now versus in January – a few of which are below (I’m chart obsessed if I didn’t tell you that before. Tables=my life).

Procon

I know that some of the pros and cons are silly – but I wanted to map out everything that has been floating through our heads recently so I could figure out what made the most sense. Of course: the first and most important detail is whether or not this try would be less successful by moving ahead now, versus waiting for a full second period to pass. After a conversation with our doctor, however,  who said that he thinks that my “natural” period, plus my second period that was the result of two weeks of birth control is enough to proceed, and he feels confident that all of my stats – coupled with my recent successful hysteroscopy – make me a good candidate for a frozen November transfer.

The Hysteroscopy

The hysteroscopy was on Monday – it was my first, even though most women have one before their first transfer. My clinic does theirs at a surgical center (which has limited availability and schedules months in advance, so if you recall from a few posts back: my doctor elected to forgo the hysterscopy the last time since I had a successful HSG, and then he did some sort of saline test with my mock transfer in his office and said I was safe to move forward at the time). He said this time they wanted me to have the hysterscopy because of our loss: to ensure that there was no scar tissue, or other problems resulting from the miscarriage that would prevent this next try from being successful. The test – which lasted about 3 minutes – was honestly no big deal overall. That is a LOT coming from me after my HSG ordeal. They prepared me mentally for a lot of cramping and discomfort, and I had a white knuckle grip on the exam table when the doctor inserted the speculum and then the tiny catheter camera that was subsequently pushed through my cervix to examine the inside of my uterus. They gave me the option of watching the procedure on a television screen, but I wanted to deep breathe and prepare myself for the ensuing pain when I saw the first flash of shiny, pink, inner body camera footage – but about 20 seconds and a few medical descriptions of what was on the screen later – it was over. No severe cramping.

I do think the fact that I took three advil this time – exactly 45 minutes before the procedure – helped a lot. Plus I have had so many internal exams – including my transfer – since the HSG test, that perhaps my body is becoming used to that “pain”. Either way: I was super grateful.

About 5 hours after the procedure, I developed some pretty intense stomach pain. My abdomen felt sore and tender to the touch – kind of the way your stomach feels after you’ve been dry heaving or maybe doing sit ups for a few hours. That pain lasted through the next day, and finally dissipated about a day and a half after the exam: still unsure if the two were related, but even with that pain the procedure wasn’t terrible. The good news is: both the doctor who did my procedure as well as our regular doctor both said that everything looked fantastic, and that I have the green light for a late November transfer if we want it (which I labeled as December above – same thing).

So…here we are. I had my baseline visit at the doctor’s yesterday and my ultrasound and bloodwork looked great (forgot to document the stats, this time). I told them I’d call them today with a definitive answer on whether or not we’d want to take advantage of this cycle for a transfer, and after a lot of deliberation, we decided to go ahead. We transfer in exactly two weeks! I started estrogen and baby asprin last night, and I will incorporate the PIO shots again next Sunday.

How many embryos?

We have decided to transfer one embryo at this time. If this try is unsuccessful, we will seriously consider two next time. We’ve actually read quite a few stories about couple’s highest quality embryo being a dud, and people having success as they worked their way down the line, so we are hopeful that what we experienced last time is a fluke, and that we’ll have success with the next try. Fingers crossed. Prayers up. Good vibes out to the world. “This could be good, this could be good…

So this is it…

We are equally thrilled, terrified, and I also have this weird feeling that I can’t entirely articulate. I feel like we haven’t waited long enough since that heartbreaking failure, or like maybe for some reason we don’t quite deserve this. Maybe its a protective mechanism so I don’t get my hopes up too much. I honestly don’t know and can’t shake it. I just keep telling myself that this is what it is and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but the truth is: if it doesn’t work, we are officially $3k in the hole, as our next transfer won’t be covered by the initial plan we purchased, and we will be getting closer to that “WTF do we do” point as we will have gone through 2 embryos without success. But….WE HAVEN’T EVEN TRIED AGAIN, YET. I’m getting ahead of myself. We aren’t there yet. This could be great. We just need to breathe.

In the meantime, we are now fully immersed in my absolute favorite time of year. I have already started the Christmas music, the air finally has a crispness to it, I have a TON of time off coming up (thanks to a really busy year and inability to use much of my vacay time), and I am getting ready to decorate. I am trying to maintain a sense of peace among all of this craziness and soak up this time of year that I love SO SO much.

Hope everyone else is in a good place as well. ❤

I won’t give up.

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

JJ-175

Since the last time I posted, I left the window open and the light has continued to creep back in, casting a warm glow on everything in our lives again.

We have been laughing more, smiling often, spending time with friends and family, and we even took a trip recently. Not a true vacation – my wife joined me for a trip I had to make for work, but we got to explore a new city, eat some good food, and enjoy each other for a few days. Our trip started and ended a little hectically with a big storm delaying our trip by several hours and the airline misplacing our luggage temporarily on the way home, but we had a lot of fun and made some incredible memories (including getting to see an MLB playoff game!) so it worth the hassle.

We are still planning a year-end trip, and haven’t yet decided where/when to go, but with only a few weeks left in the year (um…can you seriously believe that?!?) we will have to decide, soon.

On the babymaking front, after what felt like the longest month of my life, I finally got my period. While we were away last week, I noticed blood after going to the bathroom and excitedly ran out of the room with my pants down (TMI? Eh…it’s a blog about our fertility story…I guess nothing is really TMI anymore) and my wife grinned ear to ear when I told her.

The next morning, the blood was gone and my heart sank as I began to worry that perhaps I hadn’t gotten my period and was expelling some kind of residual blood from the miscarriage. I’ve been terrified of experiencing problems from the procedure, so I have been watching closely for any symptoms of  potential problems.

The next day, I had dark blood, followed by periodic bright blood, but I only had a drop here and there – nothing major. Finally, about three days after that started, I began to bleed slightly heavier (which was still nowhere NEAR the volume of a normal period for me) at which point I called my doctor to tell them that I thought I was starting my “full flow” period. They brought me in for bloodwork and ultrasound, and the nurse who did my ultrasound informed me that my uterine lining was still pretty thick and that she thought I’d be experiencing heavier bleeding soon, and that the bloodwork would reveal if this bleeding was – in fact – my period, or some kind of random abnormal bleeding.

Fortunately, she called early in the afternoon to let me know that my blood work looked “perfect” and that my period had arrived. I was still a little nervous as I had NO cramps, and the bleeding was very light, but she insisted that it looked good and I included my stats below in case they help anyone else (and so I don’t forget in case I need them later):

Estrogen – 34

Progesterone – 1.3

FSH – 9.8

LH – 5.2

I have a hysteroscopy scheduled for two weeks from now (during which they will insert a scope through my cervix to examine my uterus and ensure that there is no residual content or scarring from the miscarriage) and as long as everything looks okay, I will stop my birth control (which I started this week) and they will begin my cycle of medication (exactly what I forgot to ask, but I am assuming will include estrogen, baby asprin, and injected progesterone again) in order to prepare me for a frozen embryo transfer….almost exactly one month from now!!

We are trying to keep our excitement at bay in case we get any bad news during the hysteroscopy (or in case anything else unexpected happens) but we were thrilled to have a date to look forward to (and one that is so close!).

I had to advocate for us again, as the nurse wasn’t prepared for any kind of date for the next potential cycle start, and simply told me to call with the next period after my hysteroscopy to begin discussions about dates, but I reminded her that my other nurse told me that a medicated 2nd cycle (using birth control) was possible to speed things along, and she consulted with the doctor who was in strong agreement based on how everything looked so far – as long as the exam doesn’t reveal anything unexpected. I was really glad that I pressed her on that, otherwise we likely wouldn’t have transferred until January as our clinic is closed in late December and they stop accepting new cycles for transfer after the first week of December. I did ask her several times if doing things this way (with medication, and also…so soon) would in anyway impede our success, and she felt very strongly that it would not, and that this was a great plan based on our circumstances.

So now… we wait two weeks, and pray that everything goes as hoped during the hysteroscopy.

In the meantime, my cramps commenced as my body began filling pads with blood that is roughly the volume of Lake Michigan, and since I’m still wary of using tampons or a silicone cup (my preference) I feel like a vacuum cleaner is pulling out my internal organs every time I stand up. Fortunately, I think I’m just about finished and definitely feel better knowing that this is a true period and reflects my normal monthly experience. I’d much rather feel normal than comfortable when it comes to this entire process.

My wife and I have been discussing the remote possibility of transferring two embryos. Our clinic has a policy of only transferring one (I think I may have mentioned this a while back – they believe it to be irresponsible to transfer two as they said that it only increases the overall odds of pregnancy by a negligible amount, but that it dramatically increases the potential for twins, which they discourage due to all of the problems with premature births and risks to the mother), but our fear is having another “bad” embryo (since that is what we now believe to have been the problem with the last pregnancy – all of our research led us to believe that what we experienced is “blighted ovum” which generally results from a chromosomal abnormality with the embryo). We fear that due to my wife’s PCOS that we could have more poor quality embryos (even though our doctor said that he does not believe that to be the case), and we just wonder whether transferring two embryos might increase our odds of success – especially since this is the last transfer that is covered by the package we paid for, and any additional transfers would cost us roughly $3K/ea.

We really don’t want twins, but we really DO want success, and if we do proceed – we would likely have to beg our doctor to do it (and I don’t know how firm they are on the policy, so it may not be a possibility anyway). Has anyone been provided research or stats that are any different than what our doctor provided? Anyone’s doctor feel as strongly as ours did about double embryo transfer? Has anyone’s doctor RECOMMENDED transferring two? We would love to hear about it, if so.

We still have a month to think all of this over, and have elected to do something a little differently this time around: we do not plan on telling ANYONE about this transfer. We had each looped one friend into our last cycle early-on and shared most of the details with each of them. After we were fairly certain of the impending miscarriage, we told our immediate families and a couple of close friends (which helped a LOT!), but we want this next cycle to be just the two of us…and of course: anyone who reads this blog. I am literally the worst secret keeper ever as I get so excited about everything, so if we didn’t document it here I think I’d burst from anticipation.

So…here we are. One month out. Hope time doesn’t pass TOO slowly (although with Thanksgiving coming up, I also hope it doesn’t fly) and here is to hope and good news.

Cheers!