I haven’t written here much because the long wait between FET #1 and #2 left me with not much to say! After our FET finished with a negative result in February, we weren’t offered treatment again until sometime in May. Well, technically we were offered it sooner but by the time they called it was too late to start birth control pills that month and so we had to wait another month. I was really frustrated, but adopted a “grit your teeth and deal with what you can’t change” attitude.
So I started taking Suprefact again on June 3rd. The actual FET itself was a rollercoaster. Again, there were concerns about my lining. We ended up having to supplement my Estrace dosage (8 mg/day) with additional estrogen in the form of estrogen patches. The clinic wanted me to do estrogen pessaries and I refused after my last experience. The pharmacist explained to me that because estrogen is absorbed differently this way, some people don’t tolerate it well because it causes major spikes. That’s exactly what happened with the last FET. I took it and then when I woke up the next morning (it had been absorbed) I was so dizzy that I ended up losing my breakfast. No, thank you!
The estrogen patches are much better. You change them every three days and can otherwise mostly forget about them. Tip: baby oil works really well to remove the adhesive residue when you change the patches! I should also mention here that overall I felt much better throughout this cycle physically. Prior to the start of the FET, I had been working out 4-5 days a week and had swapped my normal breakfast out for a green smoothie every morning. Regardless of any impact on the outcome of the FET itself, the working out gave me a place to channel my emotions and kept me on an even keel. V even said that I seemed emotionally much tougher and less volatile this time around. The smoothies helped keep up my energy. Let me know if you want some green smoothie recipes, I’ve made dozens of them over the past few months!
Anyway, the date of our embryo transfer kept being pushed back because they wanted my lining to be thicker. At the first ultrasound, it was 0.7 which is the bare minimum, they prefer it to be at least 0.8. The next time we went back, it was 0.76 which was really frustrating. I thought for sure it’d be 0.8 by then, but it still wasn’t. We talked it over with the RE doing the ultrasound. I asked him if it was a bad idea to do the transfer, and if we’d be wasting precious embryos doing it. He has this gentle Irish accent and he assured me, “No, you know what they say about spreading seed on rocky soil – the soil isn’t rocky.” I had to laugh later, I know he meant to be reassuring but it was so funny. Sir, you are talking about my uterus. He said I did have the option to stop the cycle and try again, but there was no guarantee that I’d respond any differently to the medications in a subsequent cycle.
I’d already been snorting Suprefact for a full month at this point. The lining still had the “trilaminar” appearance that is very important. We decided to proceed as planned. The thaw date was still pushed back some because of dates and holidays (Canada Day, I think) so I’d still have some more time to respond to the medication. They’d thaw the remaining five zygotes in about a week or so and then they’d see how they grew.
Thaw day came and I was actually pretty calm. I knew the clinic would report back to me each day to tell us how the embryos were doing. All five of them survived the thaw, which was better than last time, when 1/6 didn’t make it. Unfortunately, they were growing “slowly,” or at least more slowly than they’d wanted them to. I thought it’d probably be okay. We had a very good day 5 blastocyst last time, and three more embryos from that batch of six had gone on to become blastocysts on day 6 (and one lone day 7). This time, all 5 were growing but just slower than you’d expect.
The day before the scheduled transfer day, I was a wreck. The embryologist called again to say that the embryos were still behind. I was so afraid that none would be worth transferring and that we’d lose them all and have nothing. I wondered if we should’ve transferred on day 3 so at least we’d have had a chance. It was a pretty rough day.
The next day was the actual transfer. V took the call about the embryos. The embryologists had one “early blastocyst” that hadn’t expanded quite as much as they might have liked and another that was a little behind that one. They were recommending that we transfer two instead of one. This really ran counter to everything they’d said up until that point about single embryo transfer, risk of multiples, etc. It was really hard to be optimistic. I thought how dismal it was that this cycle seemed to have less chance of success than the previous cycle with a great day 5 blastocyst. It was really demoralizing.
We showed up early again along with my acupuncturist. I let V choose my “lucky socks” that morning, because I chose them for the last FET and obviously they weren’t very lucky. I made some rookie mistakes – the first one was drinking too much water. The clinic tells you to drink 2-3 glasses of water about an hour prior to the procedure. Well – we’re past TMI here, right? I don’t have a big bladder. I drank the water I was supposed to drink and within twenty minutes I was hopping and trying not to writhe in my chair. They still hadn’t called us back into the procedure area. At V’s urging I finally went back on my own and told the nurse at the desk that I had kiiiiind of overdone it with the water. She gave me a cup to pee in and told me how much I could pee. This happened two more times before the embryo transfer, haha. Right before we went in for the transfer the nurse asked if I was doing okay and did I have to pee very badly, asked to feel my bladder and said yes, you can go again. I could have hugged her.
When we were actually in the OR, she showed V my bladder on the screen and said “It’s still so full! It’s like a black hole!” Yep, that’s me. The embryologist brought out the photo of our two little embryos, and contrary to what I was expecting given their “slowness” she said “Actually they look really nice!” It’s always good to get compliments. They showed us the embryos in the petri dish along with our last name to confirm that they were ours, and even zoomed in so that we could see them – two teeny specks. They made me think of Horton Hears A Who.
We had a different doctor for this transfer, and she was really nice. I’d met her before during my IVF cycle but only briefly. She got everything ready and then when they were about to do the transfer the nurse said “Okay now, try not to move.” I was SO COMPLETELY still. After a little while I piped up, “Can I breathe now?” and the nurse and doctor both laughed. I was dead serious about not jostling the catheter or interfering with the transfer in any way! The nurse said “Yes, breathe! We don’t want you to die!” Haha. Some things are worth holding your breath for, I guess.
After the transfer was done the doctor wished us luck and left. The nurse got me positioned comfortably on the bed and left us alone for 10-15 minutes to rest quietly. It’s a weird feeling post-transfer – there are no drugs involved but both times I have felt really dopey and relaxed. I think it’s a post-adrenaline reaction. As much as you try to stay calm and channel your inner zen, after the procedure you can really relax because it’s over and everything is out of your hands.
We went out to the changing rooms and had some more acupuncture done, and then went out for lunch and back home. My post transfer instructions were a mix from my acupuncturist and the clinic. From the clinic: No sex, no sunbathing/hot tubs, no lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs, no swimming, no strenuous activity including vacuuming. From the acupuncturist it was: keep your feet warm, have fresh pineapple core until five days after the transfer, watch funny movies/try to laugh a lot, and go for gentle walks to keep blood flowing.
I’ll admit to you, truthfully, the following two weeks were the hardest part of this whole process. Being unable to do much including the working out I had been doing really affected my mental state. I couldn’t even walk the dog because he’s a 90 lb Labrador Retriever and he has a tendency to pull, sometimes suddenly. I could only go for walks by myself (which breaks his heart) or with V there to hold the leash. I chafed at the restrictions. We’d planned it out really carefully so that V had three days off at the beginning of the week when we’d get our results. We even asked the nurses to change the bloodwork requisition to allow for it to be drawn on July 31st instead of August 1st because the labs were closed for the holiday. They told us they’d call on August 2nd because of our clinic being closed as well. So we’d get the news on Tuesday, V would answer the phone, and have Wednesday to mourn together if it was negative. We’d both decided after the last FET fiasco that we did not want to do a home pregnancy test. No early testing, no false positives or negatives, we would wait for the verdict from the bloodwork.
Well, Monday rolls around and we’re just puttering around. We’d been for my bloodwork the day before. I was really down in the dumps, if I’m being honest. This felt like slow torture, and I hadn’t had any symptoms besides some intermittent cramping. I was so sure it had failed, just like the FET before. I was talking with V about other tests we could have done, possibly considering a different clinic, anything that might change things. We talked like that for awhile and then V decided he wanted to fix some things around the house, and he’d gone upstairs with a pair of dimmer switches to install in the bathrooms. I was downstairs at my computer because I had to help him by turning off the appropriate electrical breaker. The phone rang. We have call display so I saw that it was the clinic and my heart sank. Although we’d planned for V to take this call, I knew he was in the bathroom with no phone. I had to answer it.
I picked up the phone and answered tentatively, my voice shaky. The nurse asked how I was, I said fine, asked how she was automatically. She said she was fine. Then she said, “So, your numbers are slightly low but that’s probably because we had you test a day early…” My brain stuttered to a halt. WHAT? I cut her off. “I’m sorry. Are you saying that my numbers are anything at all?”
“Oh,” she says with a little laugh. “Yes, you’re pregnant. Your beta is 206, which is slightly lower than we like to see usually – we like it to be 270, but since it was a day early it’s probably just that. Anyway, we’d like you to go for more bloodwork tomorrow just to make sure it’s high enough.” By this point I was crying but I managed to hold it together on autopilot mostly through the rest of the call, making sure that the requisition would be faxed to our preferred lab. I thanked the nurse and hung up the phone and stared at it, still crying, before my brain slowly remembered that V was upstairs and he still had no idea that any of this had happened. This was the only thought I had – “He doesn’t know. I have to tell him!” I ran up the basement stairs, sobbing and panting, then the upstairs. I came around the corner of our bedroom (still sobbing, haha) and V looked at me from the bathroom, alarmed.
“What’s wrong?!” he said, coming towards me. “They called,” I choked out. “It was positive. I’M PREGNANT.” I wish I could bottle the look of stark disbelief on his face followed by elation. “YOU ARE?” he said. “COME HERE!” and we were hugging and I was crying and I still couldn’t believe this was happening. A minute or so later we heard our neighbours (who are also our good friends) coming home and I went to the window and yelled “HI I JUST FOUND OUT I AM PREGNANT,” because I’m the queen of chill and am super good at secrets. They came over to hug and congratulate us and we talked awhile and it was perfect.
I’ve told more people since then, my small Twitter account and also my parents. After the bloodwork came back good on Wednesday, I felt okay sharing it. The beta was 365, which is in their range between 270 and 1100, apparently. I’d have liked it to be higher but it’s going up enough that I’m trying not to worry. I know it’s early to be telling people but it’s a choice we’ve made that we would like the support and happiness of this moment, whatever the next moments might bring. I am holding out hope that this really is our time and that the baby will be okay and everything will go smoothly. I am only 5 weeks pregnant today. We have an early ultrasound on August 19th and that will be the most important part in these early days. So whatever you believe in – good thoughts, various deities, crossing your fingers, please do it and hope with me. It’s so surreal. After five years of this I didn’t even think this was possible.
What’s funny is that some odd/coincidental/superstitious stuff happened beforehand, let me tell you about it. As the FET was beginning, I found $75 on the ground while walking the dog. It was a conundrum for me, ethically. There was nobody nearby who could have dropped it, and it was too small an amount for the police to take. I didn’t feel right keeping it because it wasn’t mine. We decided to donate the money, so I donated it (along with another $25 to make it an even $100) to the Generations of Hope fund. They help couples who can’t afford IVF treatment.
Next, the day before the transfer we went out for Chinese food and we both got fortunes that seemed prophetic. Mine said “Tomorrow is a good day for trying something new.” I can’t remember what his said and he can’t find it, but it was in a similar vein. V chose these retro gamer socks to wear on the FET transfer day, saying that being a gamer has been the luckiest thing for us both after all (we met playing Ultima Online about a billion years ago). Come to think of it, gaming socks are also relevant to our WoW guild, Business Time. “When I’m down to just my socks, you know what time it is!” Haha.
We went out Pokemon hunting during the long two week wait, which I thought was appropriate. My gentle walking was also video gaming! At one point we went to a new park we’d never been to before, and I said “I want to go down this path, here.” We rounded the corner and there was a big sign – “BP Birthplace Forest,” established in 2007 to celebrate the city’s newborns. We exchanged a look – I didn’t even know that we HAD a “birthplace forest.” It turns out there are a number of them for different years around the city, but still…It was weird that we ended up there.
Finally, the due date is April 7th. This is V’s late father’s birthday, so it’s a day of particular significance for him and it seems awfully coincidental to me that it would be the due day. Just some funny stuff, is all. Anyway, one footnote – since we put two embryos in, we don’t actually know how many stuck around. I thought surely there could only be one based on my beta numbers (assuming twins would make them a lot higher) but my friend who had twins pointed out that she thought she’d only have one, too. Gulp. So we’ll find that out at the ultrasound for sure. Of course I’ll be happy with whatever I can get, whatever ensures we have any healthy baby at the end of this is what I most want, and what we’ve been struggling for all these years. I’m so happy! Nauseous, anxious, but still happy.