IVF#1 Close but no cigar

Well campers, the second round of beta numbers are in and sadly the HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels went down.  Not what we wanted, but certainly something we knew was an option. UGH! Man, did I want those numbers to go up!!

Yes, I’m sad.

Yes, I’m disappointed.

Yes, I’ve had some tears.

But hey, I failed my first driver’s test, too…..so why should I get this on the first try either?

In all the improv I teach, two of the things I press on my students is the importance of moving things forward and that you can’t be afraid to fail.   Who would I be if I didn’t try to follow my own advice?

I know that we did our very best, we ate well, I opted not to drink booze or caffeine (hubbo cut way back on the coffee) and we followed all of The Russian’s advice and orders.  I have no regrets and knew going in that it would likely take more than one try.

Did I get a little cocky when I got that initial positive pregnancy test?

A tiny bit.

But I knew the number was low and that we weren’t out of the woods.  Luckily, I have a habit of not getting overly excited about something until it’s really happening….like big trips, I don’t tend to get excited until I’m actually packing.

However, don’t think that my hopes weren’t up just a little bit. Sure they were. Wouldn’t yours be?

Also, don’t go thinking I have my emotions on a light switch – I’m sad and I’ll be sad, but even now I’m laughing at an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? There’s just only so much energy I can give to being sad. Life is too short.

And just to address it: yes, there’s a part of me that’s afraid none of this will work. For my own well-being, I just choose to keep those thoughts tucked away for the time being.  If there’s any shot of this working, it’s going to be because I choose to blow sunshine and rainbows up my own butt over and over again to keep things positive.

Moving forward: no more progesterone or estradiol, I wait for my period which should start sometime during the next 10 days at which point I call The Russian’s office to head in for an ultrasound and to start up the ole birth control again.

The fat lady has far from sung and it’s on to IVF #2.

A smidge pregnant for the weekend

Turns out, you CAN be “a little bit” pregnant.

We had our 1st beta yesterday morning (10dp3dt) and I was told to look for the information online sometime after 3pm. I’m sure you’re asking, “why online instead of by phone?” That’s a legit question. The Russian’s right hand explained to me that they’ve found that people like to have some control over when they find out. A phone call could catch you awkwardly in line at the Piggly Wiggly or something. Online at the clinic’s secure “portal” system lets you check when you want, when you’re ready and either alone or with your hubbo.

Regarding pregnancy blood tests, a little research led me to the following information:

There are actually two different types of blood pregnancy tests, also called pregnancy serum tests. One type, called a quantitative blood pregnancy test (or a beta hCG test), measures the exact amount of hCG in the blood, while a qualitative blood pregnancy test simply provides confirmation of the presence of hCG, and a “yes” or “no” answer for pregnancy. If the blood pregnancy test reveals that hCG is under 5 mIU/ml, then the test will be considered negative. If the level of hCG is determined to be between 5 and 25 mIU/ml, this is said to be anequivocal result, and another test should be performed in a few days to confirm pregnancy.

I don’t actually know what our number was, only that it was “lower than they like.” I’m actually glad not to have an exact number as it would only lead to me scouring the internet for information that I’d over-analyze and worry over, instead of just waiting and seeing what comes of the next test.

I’m out of town Monday so I’ll go back Tuesday to test again. The 2nd beta will show us if the numbers have gone up or down and we’ll have a better sense of if we’re in Yes-ville or Not-This-Time-vakia.

While I was in the office I went ahead and asked when we could start IVF #2 if in fact we need to. Depending on the clinic (and/or your individual situation) you may need one or more natural cycles before putting the factory back into overdrive or you might go back on birth control pills and then into another IVF right away. Luckily, I fall into the latter category and the next go around I’ll likely only need 2-3 weeks of birth control (instead of five this past time due to holiday scheduling, etc).

So for me, even with the vague test results, I feel like I got good news all around. On one hand, I MIGHT just be knocked up and on the other hand, if I’m not, I can get right back in the game and we can try again.

Which brings me to this little gal, discovered while I was walking the dog the other day:

FairyGodmotherSidewalk

For me, whoever launched sidewalk chalk as a product line is a friggin genius. Kids (and adults) get to create little pieces of art to while away time expressing themselves and canine amblers such as myself get to be given random little influctions of joy.

It was Thursday when I encountered the little blue fairy godmother from Cinderella, either drawn by a flippin child genius or by an exceedingly cool adult who likely made some little girl’s day, and I was immediately struck by the following thought:

Keep the faith.  

Actually, two thoughts, the second of which was “yay a drawing!”

Cinderella’s a sweet dreamer with animal friends – they do the chores together and sing songs (careful, if you’re the least bit hormonal these lyrics will make your eyes leak):

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true

Poor Cinderella gets repeatedly dissed by her lousy step-sisters who also bait-and-switch her into thinking she’s gonna go to the big dance. I mean, all she wants is to go to the friggin ball, wear a pretty dress and feel like an effing lady. We’ve all been there.

And then, when Cinderella starts to lose faith in her dreams, along comes her Fairy Godmother to give her a bit of hope.

So as I spend this weekend in pregnancy-limbo, I say thanks to whoever drew that chalk drawing and thanks to my dog for wanting to walk down that street.

And I hear ya Fairy Godmother, I see what you’re trying to do:

I’ll keep on believing and figure that for now at least, I’m pregnant-ish.

 

Segway chimpanzees, goal-oriented bulldogs and motivational Hoosiers.

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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This will get in your head and you’ll find yourself randomly humming it everywhere.

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I don’t know where you live, but in Chicago it’s been pretty friggin hot.  This little guy’s clearly onto something:

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First of all, if you’ve never seen the movie “Hoosiers” DO NOT watch the following clip!!  Instead, immediately go watch one of the very best underdog movies ever made.  This is the final scene from the big game….ugh, it gets me every time.  If you ever need a pick-me-up-you-can-do-it thing to watch, this should do the trick.

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Have a great great week everybody!

The 2WW: The Beatles Were Right

So we’re about halfway through our slightly abridged 2ww and are 6dp3dt. For any of you not in the acronym know, 6dp3dt = 6 Days Past 3 Day Transfer – and we’ll blood test on Day 12.

I’m having a much easier time with this wait than I did with other periods of waiting in the process: waiting to stop birth control, waiting for meds, waiting between scans, etc. It’s an odd thing to know that right now, as we speak, I am either pregnant or not pregnant….it’s simply too early to tell.

Throughout the time I’ve been trying to get pregnant I’ve read a lot about the 2ww (and have been in it many many times) and mostly I find myself shaking my head at people.

You just have to wait!

Time has to pass – there’s no changing it.

So for me, I’m NOT going on the internet to read too many opinions by too many people without any medical knowledge, I’m not reading into every little thing my body’s doing, I’m not over-thinking every little moment, and I’m not going out to buy pregnancy tests before there’s any chance of them registering anything accurate.

You know why?

Because I’ve done some of that before and it got me nowhere. I also hate to pull the age-card, but I am 42….at this point there’s some life experience to lean on. I know that to do any of the above things is pretty much like punching myself in the face, running around the house with a scissor, or like covering myself in peanut butter and then taunting a bear.

I’d be knowingly setting myself up for confusion, discouragement and frustration.

And frankly, I like none of those things.

In other news, I’ve been doing progesterone shots since last Saturday’s egg retrieval and so far so good. The nurse was kind enough to draw a circle on each fanny so that I’d have a target – and I’ve been retracing her lines every few days. Man I hope I’m not in an accident or anything, though I’m sure it would give the EMTs a good giggle to see a grown lady with circles on her butt cheeks.

A note on these shots: the needle is intimidating, because it’s an inch-and-a-half long and you know it’s all gotta go in. Honestly though, it’s so sharp that by simply resting it on my skin and pressing a bit the needle does all the work and after the initial sting from the tip of the needle it really hasn’t hurt at all. I shit you not. Perhaps I’m lucky and have a high threshold for pain, but after reading so many things on the interwebs about how awful they are, I really have thankfully not had that experience. I’m able to do them myself and they go pretty quickly.

I put a bag of frozen vegetables on first, do the shot, rub it around and then sit on a heating pad for a few minutes afterwards to help the oil work its way in. This is what works for me.

The progesterone’s another reason it’s easy not to read into every symptom, because likely it’s the progesterone’s fault. I’m a little sleepy, yesterday had a teensy bit of nausea and I suddenly have a decent set of knockers. They’ve grown enough that I really don’t need to wear my “smoke-and-mirrors” bra unless I really want to vavavoom it.

So alas, we’re in a good place: lots of movies, books, cooking and general chilling out. Time’s actually passing fairly quickly, we’ve been laughing a lot and life kind of plods on as usual.

Soon enough we’ll know which road we’re taking next and in the meantime, in the words of the great Paul McCartney, we’ll Let It  Be.  

Wow, that was super cornballs, even for me.

IVF transfer: Passengers on board

So Monday we got the call that The Russian wanted to move forward with a 3day transfer (3dt) on Tuesday.  Thing is, the nurse calling had no word from the embryologist as to how many embryos we’d be working with. For that: more patience…..we’d find out when we showed up on Tuesday.  

I made an appointment for acupuncture – they wanted to see me the day before and the day after the transfer.  As usual, I got there, got a mess of needles in me and within minutes zonked out. That needle business is so friggin relaxing.

You.

Should.

Try.

It.

So Tuesday morning we’re set for a 9:30am transfer which means I have to start filling my bladder at 7:30 (your bladder has to be full so that they can visualize the uterus). I already know that I’m a) a quick filler and b) incapable of holding my water for long, so instinct tells me to hold off a bit. I drank at the schedule they told me to drink but maybe not quite as much each time…..which turned out to be a good decision since our 9:30am transfer ended up being closer to 10.

When we arrived at the office we met with a nurse and then the embryologist. Good news: we still have 3 embryos. I’d hoped for at least 2 to transfer so I was very happy. At our clinic they rate embryos GOOD-FAIR-POOR, no letters or numbers….which in the end was fine with me, just a little bit less for me to worry about. We have 2 GOOD and the thrid was on the FAIR/POOR fence, but The Russian still thought it had a fighting chance so in it would go.

I strip from the waist down and get gowned and socked (loved the socks they gave me, little grippy things on the bottom….good times…totally brought them home) and was told to chill out in the comfy barcalounger chair. My hubbo and I joked around for awhile and then I opted to listen to one of my guided meditations from Circle+Bloom. While I initially thought they were a bit pricey, I have really enjoyed them and their relaxation techniques are very beneficial.

And then it’s time to go.

We did have to wait a little while for the lab to be ready, so there was a mildly awkward 5-10 minutes with me, The Russian and 2 nurses all just hanging out….remember that I’m naked below the waist, staring at the ceiling, legs in stirrups, knees ajar. You know, just 4 gals having a chat….

The procedure itself was easy-peasy. I barely felt anything and got to watch everything on a monitor – very cool to watch the catheter go in, the little glob of embryos and colored fluid (so you can actually see) slowly get injected and then everyone in the room commented on how well everything went.  Not me, I have no medical knowledge….but it sure seemed to go well.

I was then left alone for everything to settle in – the nurse asked if I would be okay for 15 minutes or if I wanted a catheter to empty my now very full bladder. The catheter option was a complete (and intimidating) unknown and I honestly thought I was fine, so I opted to be okay for 15 minutes.

15 minutes.  She said 15 minutes.

The first 5 were alright, and the next 10 were squirmy…but I’m fine right, any second now nurse is comin’ to get me.

But alas no.

The additional 7 minutes passed very very slowly.

I’m pretty sure I started running a fever with the sheer effort of mind over matter.

Needless to say it was one of the most gratifying trips to the bathroom I’ve ever had.

We were given a mess of instructions and sent on our way. No real need for prolonged bedrest but definitely told to take it easy the rest of the day.  I had acupuncture again today which as always was very relaxing and now I’m home trying to avoid Chicago’s extreme temperatures while hanging out with the dog in the bedroom – the only room in the apartment which currently has air-conditioning.

We have a not-quite-2-week-wait as my bloodtest is set for Friday, july 26….so in the meantime I have three microscopic passengers and am hopeful that at least one of them decides to take up permanent residence.

 

Alan Rickman, Seinfeld Bloopers & pages to turn

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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I love me some Alan Rickman, in anything really.  He’s wonderful as Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility, so very evil as Hans Gruber in Die Hard….but I think I first took a shine to him when he played The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which is also fun to watch due to Kevin Costner’s wandering British accent.

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I could watch TV/movie bloopers all day long.  Luckily YouTube has a buhgillion of them.

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And, just so you know that I do things other than watch television and YouTube…..I’ve been reading alot lately as well.  I grabbed Stephen King novel Cell from the library and couldn’t put it down.  And, I’ve been loving Philippa Gregory’s books – lots of historical fiction on famous female figures within the British monarchy.  Give these a look for some fun page turning:

Cell_by_Stephen_King         url-1         url

Have a great week everyone!

 

Retrieval and Fertilization: 3 is the Magic Number

Yesterday’s egg retrieval went just fine and afterwards we learned that The Russian had gotten 7 eggs.  Not gonna lie, kinda had my hopes up that we’d indeed get 8-10 as she’d predicted earlier.  But hey, 7 is still 7.  I was okay with the anesthesia and in fact, I think the 20 or so minutes I was on oxygen really helped my congestion.  I spent the rest of the day on the couch watching Veronica Mars and consuming such comfort foods as butterscotch pudding, hubbo’s chocolate chip cookies, tomato soup and copious amounts of tea and juice.

Got the call today that 3 of the 7 had fertilized – too early to say why the other 4 weren’t on the fert train – and still too soon to know when we’ll do the transfer.  I’ll hear tomorrow afternoon as to if we’ll do a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday transfer, though the nurse I talked to said, “if I were a betting person, I’d say it’s going to happen Tuesday, but we’ll know more tomorrow.”  I mean, I also know that we’re far from out of the woods – we have to wait to see if the three make it to transfer, and if the quality is enough to transfer at all.  

It’s a mind storm.  A mind storm.

So I got myself a little worked up, was a bit overwhelmed, felt the odds were stacked against us….the whole nine yards, and then my husband came home from taking the dog to the beach to announced that they’d invented a new game: Ultimate Patience.  It was a sarcastic game they’d invented in trying to find a non-existed parking space – patience in the face of a situation you can’t really change.  

And we all know, Ultimate Patience is what this whole deal is all about.

I still released a few tears, but hey that’s cool, and I felt better afterwards.

Which brings me back to 3. Because 3 is what we have and I can’t change that. Until I hear tomorrow’s update, I have to figure that 3 is where it’s at, because after all, there’s the rule of threes. 

It’s a G. D. Rule.

The rule of Three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also more likely to consume information if it is written in groups of threes. From slogans (“Go, fight, win!”) to films, many things are structured in threes. Examples include The Three Stooges, Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

A series of three often creates a progression in which the tension is created, built up, and finally released. Similarly, adjectives are often grouped in threes to emphasize an idea.

The Latin phrase, “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete) conveys the same idea as the rule of three.

In comedy, it is also called a comic triple. Two is the smallest number of points needed to establish a pattern, and comedians exploit the way people’s minds perceive expected patterns to throw the audience off track (and make them laugh) with the third element.

I know this last one especially well because I work in comedy and we’re constantly leaning on the Rule of 3s to create a build, get a laugh, and give the audience that specific gratification.  They may not always see a 1-2-3 punch coming, but they certainly appreciate it.

And therefore, in this game of Ultimate Patience, I hang on to The Number 3:

because it’s a Rule

because I don’t have a choice  

And, because according to Schoolhouse Rock, 3 is indeed, a magic number.