Friday, 25 March 2016

6 weeks

Apparently today marks halfway through the first trimester. But of course the first trimester is shorter because the first two weeks you're just waiting for ovulation...
In my Pregnancy Journal I'm using, it says I'm "beginning week 5" (of gestation) which is beginning the 7th week after the last menstrual period.Ugh this math.
It's ok. I'm going by The Bump app, which says I'm 6 weeks today.
Still feel fine. Slightly sore boobs, but less sore than before. Very occasional very slight nausea. Quite tired. That's pretty much it. I'm pretty boring over here.

I am irritated that my group benefits plan classifies Endometrin as a "drug for the treatment of infertility" (and therefore included in my already-maxed lifetime limit). I assure you, I'm not taking it for that...there's a baby in there and I'm taking it to maintain my pregnancy! And that's another $360! I need to figure out how to appeal a decision. But I don't think they will answer phone calls on Good Friday. 

Looking forward to my first ultrasound on Tuesday morning! But for now...more waiting.

Monday, 21 March 2016

My first wave...

Of nausea. How special. Apparently throwing waste into the office compost bin was a terrible idea, as was just being in that room in general that on the best days smells of old coffee.
Ugh.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Dating my "LMP"

Everyone (by which I mean a couple of apps, but even the midwife clinic wanted it; I said "Well, that won't help very much cuz I did IVF, but...") wants to know the date of my last menstrual period ("LMP") so they can calculate my due date. But for those of us who had messed up cycles due to IVF, LMP won't help. I figured out my due date with the help of an IVF website, then found out that most sites add 280 days to LMP to get due date so I subtracted 380 from my due date to get a fake "LMP" that I can use where I have to type in something.

In the process I came across this amazing calculator, which is not the one I initially used, but one I like much better. I love this one because it tells me neat things like how my baby's heart begins to beat today! (Ok, so the heart tubes start to contract. Still, exciting!)


Embryo Development
Cardiac Contraction Begins
March 20, 2016
Limb Buds Forming
March 24, 2016
End Embryo Stage
April 08, 2016

Fetal Development
U/S Heartbeat Detected
April 01, 2016
Brainwaves Begin
April 14, 2016
Essential Structures Complete
April 22, 2016
Movement Begins
May 20, 2016
Fetus May Suck Thumb
July 15, 2016
Maternal Sounds Recognized
July 29, 2016


I find this chart a bit confusing though...

Trimester Stages

by Development by Gestation by Conception
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 06, 2016
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 16, 2016
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 25, 2016
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 19, 2016
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 17, 2016
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 22, 2016

So strange, the wide variation in starting the 2nd trimester but much less variation in starting the 3rd. I'm lost.

Anyway, awesome site that I recommend if you haven't already checked it out!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

4w6d

My sleep appears to have returned to normal, for which I am so very grateful. Maybe the time change helped. Am I the only person in the universe happy about the time change?

I am also thirsty, all the time, which means I am peeing, all the time. People at work are going to start asking me questions.

Other than that, I feel just fine. Occasional cramps, but way more mild than anything I ever had with my period. So while I'm not happy about cramps, I'm not all that upset about them either.

Maybe I won't get sick? That would be nice. But then how would I be sure I was really pregnant? Oh yeah, perhaps that ultrasound that I'm having in 12 days. (All I do is wait!)

I set up an appointment with the local midwife clinic today. I know I haven't yet been released from the fertility clinic, but midwives around here book up quickly. Good thing I called, because my first appointment is a month away. But since I've had all the bloodwork done pre-IVF and since the fertility clinic is doing my first scan and everything, and won't let me go until they know everything is working, the wait is just fine with me. Glad I got in with the clinic I wanted!

A close family friend is a doula. She's actually one of the very first people I told, so that she could tell me where to go for midwifery. I'm thrilled that she will be able to assist me for birth. Still not quite sure what a doula does, as the few articles I've read are a bit vague, but having this friend there is the closest thing I can get to having my mom there, so doula services it is.

This is a very random post, but I feel a bit random today. Scattered, like I should run around and chase all the bits of my brain and shove them back into the places they belong. Ah well. A couple more hours and I'll be 5 weeks! That's exciting!!!


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Beta #2 & massive excitement

Really pregnant. Beta #2 = 707. The nurse said that was just perfect.
My thyroid is hovering right on the cusp of being too high again. They want to leave it alone and have me check again in a month.
My ultrasound is scheduled for right after the Easter holiday. Excitement is high!
I made a coupon for my dad on Word. It said things like "Free snuggles" and was addressed to Grandpa. He really liked it - back when I was little I used to make him all kinds of coupons with construction paper so this was a little throwback to that. I think he appreciated it.
Aion's mom just cried. A lot. It was cute.
No cemetery ideas yet for my mom. And Aion's dad still doesn't know.
We've also told a few select friends, but that's it for now.

I'm now researching baby fairs etc. This weekend a local baby store is having a new-location-celebration with deals and contests and stuff, so we're going to that. Don't need or want to buy anything yet, but if I can WIN things, that's another story. IVF = expensive so baby stuff needs to be cheap/free.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Yup, still pregnant.

Friday I needed to confirm. Was scared the dollar store test lied. Took an expensive First Response Early Response test. Yup. Still pregnant. Nice strong line. Unmistakably pregnant. Nothing happened in 24 hours to make me un-pregnant. Not making up lines. Actually, honest-to-God pregnant.

So then I start worrying about it being a chemical. But this is ok. And good.  My boobs hurt and I have some strange not-at-all-like-menstrual-cramps cramps and I for the last 4 days I've woken up at 4:30 in the morning (I'm usually a multiple-snooze-button-hitter). That's pretty much it so far on the symptom front.

Beta #1 is 309. Perfect!! The clinic called me after my beta and it was the very first time someone other than myself told me I was pregnant. It was surreal. I don't think I sounded excited on the phone. The nurse was probably quite confused. But I am excited. So excited.

Next test is Monday. Then I can stop thinking about chemical pregnancies and start worrying about miscarriages. Ugh. This is HARD, people.

But now that we're done with the TWW, we also finished the puzzle. So cute.


And we're over the moon. So excited. I'm entering all the contests for free baby stuff. Looking at garage sales for cheap baby stuff. This is going to be a very long 8 months. But an exciting 8 months.

Trying to think about how to tell the family now...Aion's mom knows we're doing IVF, but neither of our dads do. Think I'll go to the cemetery and tell my mom somehow...maybe leave her a copy of my blastocyst photo? Is that weird? Maybe I'll think of something brilliant and less weird tomorrow.

Testing...and results

I resisted until Thursday morning, 8dp5dt. The clinic had scheduled my beta for Friday and told me that I could pee on a stick one day prior to "prepare myself for the results." I was in a day-long series of meetings Friday starting at 7am so couldn't make it to the lab Friday,  so I couldn't do my beta test until Saturday,  but I sucould prepare myself...

I took a crappy dollar store test, the kind where you pee into a tray and then use the tiniest dropper to put three drops of pee into a hole on the test. And then I waited.

The line started out really really faint, and only got the tiniest bit darker, but it was unmistakable. I am pregnant!!!

I didn't know how to tell Aion. Finally I ran into the scrapbook room, pulled out a baby sticker, ran back to the bedroom and shoved the sticker in Aion's face.

Aion looked at me completely sleepy and uncomprehending, and said, yes, baby. I shoved it closer and bounced it up and down. It took a while, but then there was happiness and joy and excitement and it was great. And then I ran off to work and thankfully it was a distracting day.

But I did manage to register for thebump app. It was quite confused because it only starts at 4 weeks and I was 3 weeks 6 days. According to it, I was 4 weeks 6 days! (This resolved the next day back to 4 weeks).

We had booked a reservation for dinner that night anyway,  because it was Dine Out For Life, a charity event benefitting people living with hiv/aids that I have supported for several years. So we went out and celebrated and I didn't have any wine and I didn't care. It was fantastic. Perfect.  Couldn't have asked for better.

Assuming and hoping that all goes well, due date is November 18!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Environmental guilt & small attempts to remedy that

One thing that has really bothered me as I go through this IVF process is the massive amount of waste I create. Each box of meds had multiple cardboard and plastic pieces to keep everything tamper-proof. The needles had individual sterile pouches and then needle caps and of course the needles themselves. Tiny vials of menopur and solution and little caps on each of those. Disposable alcohol wipes in little disposable packages. Cotton balls. The gigantic product monograph package, even through I've already bought 4 packages of that medication. Plastic Endometrin applicators in little plastic wrappers to deliver individually-wrapped pills.  And then the four billion panty liners to soak up my green leakage.

This is not a process that considers the environment. I recycle what I can, but still. PILES of garbage and recycling. PILES.

Well, I can't do anything about the way the meds are wrapped, so I decided to try to take control of one thing I could -- liners.

First I went to London Drugs and stared for a long time at the various products on offer. I could buy 40 liners for a couple bucks or a few organic liners for a lot more bucks. Ugh. I picked up the kind that isn't individually wrapped and still felt guilty. Then out of the corner of my eye, high up on a shelf, I saw "Lunapads". They're reusable cotton liners (they also carry pads) that you can throw in the washing machine.

Now, washing my menstrual blood is a bit much for me at the moment. Not sure if I'm crunchy granola enough for that. But my progest-goop? Yeah, that I can handle.

But first I decided to head online to check out some reviews. I learned that people actually like them quite a bit...and they're a local Vancouver company! Neat!

Best of all, when one types "Lunapads" into google, google suggests, as a possible search, "Lunapads free sample". Oh really?? Yes. FREE SAMPLE. I LOVE FREE SAMPLES.

So for the price of $5 shipping, I now own one Lunapad liner.




It's super cute. I love the foxes. And it's made of some cozy, soft flannel stuff.

Now these liners don't have a leakproof core so if I was really wet, they wouldn't completely address the problem. But for my rather thick progest-goop, it worked amazingly well! I found that having cloth next to me, as opposed to whatever the heck disposables are made of, was so much softer and more comfortable. No edges that can sometimes be a bit...sharp...on the disposables if you stick them down in the wrong way. And it breathes nicely too, so I didn't feel as hot and sticky, even though it was flannel. Super impressed!

Mid-day, I was able to wipe up some of the goo that had kind of rested on top (sorry...but if you want an honest review, I'm your girl). It came up pretty well, with only a little bit of the red flannel fibres getting disturbed in the process.

And it washed out quite nicely in the sink.

I also found Party In My Pants, which ALSO had a free (just pay shipping) sample.  So I ordered that too, but that one hasn't arrived yet. Stay tuned for another review soon!

I think I will buy a few more so I can rotate and not wash every day. This is SOOOOO much better than disposables. Good for the environment, fewer chemicals near my lady-parts (and maybe-baby!) and all around a better choice. And I think overall a savings too, if the life cycle of these things is 5 years as advertised.


Is anyone else concerned about the effect their IVF cycle is having on the environment? What are your tips and tricks?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

6dp5dt

Six days after transfer. Boobs hurt terribly, particularly after Aion had some sort of bad dream which somehow resulted in my getting punched hard in the right breast and me screaming to get her to wake up and stop. If this recurs there will be banishment to the couch.

Hard not to test but don't want to test yet.

I did notice per my snazzy new phone sensor that my heart rate is about ten bpm higher than usual. Trying not to read into this. No testing!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

IVF Scrapbook = all done

I finished my IVF scrapbook last night. Last few stickers to fill up a couple blank spots and it's done.

It's a bit of a silly thing, but hopefully I can stick it in a baby book someday next to baby's first photo (of baby as a cavitating morula, of course!)

I must say that I am surprised I wasn't able to find other IVF process scrapbookers. There aren't even any  IVF or embryo stickers for sale online that I could find (aside: don't google 'embryo stickers'. It gets you a lot of pro-life stuff that you may not want to view). People scrapbook everything, including their cancer...why not IVF? Maybe I'm weird. Maybe it's true that scrapbooking is really going out of style. I don't care. I love it.

Here it is in all its glory:







It's so colourful! I found a sheet of stickers at the scrapbook store with inspirational phrases, and so even though I'm not usually much of an inspirational phrase type girl, I thought they worked well for this particular project. I also purchased a set of 'medical' stickers to get the pill and syringe, and found the carton of eggs in a sticker set I already had in my stock that was all baking supplies. Add some flowers and stuff, and it's all done.

That kept me busy for maybe an hour and a half of my tww. If I keep this up my house will look like Pinterest soon...

HAHA or not.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Mint green soft serve






*"12 Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream" Photo by Alpha: https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/162068694/in/photostream/
Used under limited license.

I mentioned in my Transfer Day post that I would write more about the joys of Estrace, which I am now using in addition to the Endometrin (Progesterone). Estrace is estradiol, a form of estrogen. It, in addition to the progesterone, supports implantation and early pregnancy until the placenta is able to take over. It's a bit scary because the drugs.com page says that one shouldn't take Estrace if pregnant. Hmm.

Seems like for the majority of uses, estrace is taken orally. I get to shove mine into my vagina along with my Endometrin. Remember how I talked about the...uh...leakage...that occurs with the Endometrin? Well the blue/green colour of the Estrace dyes that discharge a light green colour. And it is quite thick and chalky, and, well, a lot like soft-serve. I feel so sexy right now!!!

So far I am experiencing some light cramping and I'm super tired in the evenings but then wake up at 4am and can't get back to sleep. I've also had quite a bad arthritis flare starting a day or two before transfer. I think my body's just freaking out after all the drugs. It's disappointing because I want to be walking to get my blood circulating and stuff but it's hard when it hurts so much. Gonna try to get to a pool today or tomorrow so I can move a bit without so much pain. Not sure how that will work with the soft-serve leakage but I want to try.

Beta test on the 12th, pre-testing (POAS!) Thursday or Friday. Feeling good about this...love that this is a short less-than-two-week-wait! I got this.


The hardest 24 hours

Aion and I went for lunch after the transfer. I had a piece of quiche and a lavender/rooibus tea...and a chocolate croissant, even though the clinic had re-stocked their chocolate squares and I had just had one of those.

Then I walked around the corner for some post-transfer acupuncture. Not quite the same as having it at the clinic immediately after, but I'm sure it was good for me anyway. or not. I was so upset from the news at the transfer that I didn't want to think my own thoughts, so I had the acupuncturist set up the guided meditation for post-transfer (yes, they have them that specific). It was just as cheesy as the other one I listened to once...big bright comforting loving light, envision your lining at just the right thickness and your embryos dividing just as they should...it's a bit much for me, but it did take my mind off my own thoughts. The needles were on the inside of my ankles, my shins, wrists, top of my head and a couple on each ear. Such a pincushion! I understand that is the typical post-transfer protocol. I liked this acupuncturist a lot...a different one than usual because of the time of day but she was really gentle and nothing hurt even a tiny bit.

I walked back to my car and met Aion and was feeling a bit better...for maybe 5 minutes. And then the doom returned.

Aion was wonderful and supportive and said all the right things I needed to hear, but I was trapped in my head and miserable. I googled "cavitated blastocyst" and found mostly nothing. I then googled "cavitating morula" and found out that most clinics classify what I had transferred as not-yet-a-blastocyst. This depressed me even more. I tried to cheer up by reading positive morula-transfer stories, but that didn't seem to work.

Aion had her own appointment that evening. I drove her and then wandered aimlessly around Winners/Homesense for an hour, trying desperately not to even look in the direction of the baby & kid stuff. I bought us a puzzle to do on the weekend, thinking that might be a positive distraction. It is a picture of two spoons with arms laying next to each other on a little spoon-bed.
Isn't that cute?

When we got home and went to bed, I had quite the cry, then fell asleep and had horrible nightmares.

I felt so terrible. I couldn't fathom spending so much money only to have nothing to show for it. I felt certain that this embryo inside wasn't going to stick and then felt guilty for giving up on it, but couldn't bring myself to think positively. I thought about trying to adopt and completely overwhelmed myself thinking about the costs and the years and all the different challenges that I wasn't yet prepared to face. I worried that because we are people with two uteruses and because of Aion's medical issues that we would never even get approved to adopt, let alone get selected by birth parents. I thought about fostering and dismissed that idea quickly as I don't think Aion would be at all interested and I look so young that how could an older child who didn't know me from birth ever take me seriously as a parental authority. And I want to be a mother, not a guardian. I don't want to contemplate having to give a child back. Also, the problems with adoption also apply to fostering.

I kept these thoughts to myself because some things are just too hard to admit aloud at times like that.

Thursday morning I returned to work. Closed my door and waited. Couldn't work. Couldn't focus on anything. My thoughts were all swirly and dark and hopeless. I watched the clock advance minute-by-minute. I had expected the lab to call around 8-ish, like they had on Day 3. Nope. At 10 I called the nursing line and left a whiny, rambling message about needing the results. I also remembered the post-transfer instruction sheet said I could ask the nurses about counseling referrals if I needed. I asked about that too.

At 10:30 the lab called. It was the embryologist who was there for my transfer. She said she was doing well today, because she had good news for me - they were able to freeze 3! Two were 4BBs and 1 was 3BB, which means it was just a bit smaller, but all were blastocysts and good candidates for frozen transfers (FET). I thanked her profusely, hung up and called Aion.

I don't know if I got any words out before I burst into tears. I just sat there in my office sobbing into the phone for probably 5 minutes. I must have told Aion the results at some point, because they were so excited and happy and relieved and so was I and the big dark cloud lifted and I hugged my belly and decided that everything was going to be ok. Four chances overall from this cycle. I can live with that. I can be HAPPY with that.

I hear all the time that this process is a roller coaster. It seems a tired, overused metaphor....and absolutely accurate. Except I usually like roller coasters.

The nurse called me back later that afternoon. Someone else was in my office so it made the conversation quite awkward. I explained quickly that I had spoken with the lab that morning. She offered to send me the list of counseling referrals - turns out that the clinic offers 1 hour of free counseling in the cost of the IVF cycle (but they sure don't bother to publicize that fact)! I've never had therapy, but I think given how hard that 24 hours was, it probably would be a good idea. I have set myself up with a session for Monday.

So much healthcare for a girl who only ever had to deal with the occasional infection. Dislike.


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Transfer day

I heard nothing on day 4 or the morning of day 5. So I was nervous but excited heading into my transfer...and also squirmy because I was busily trying to empty the clinic's water cooler to make my bladder full. Apparently my efforts were noticed, because the doctor later told me I did an "excellent" job with my bladder. Who says stuff like that?? IVF is weird.

We joked with the nurses while we waited. I got changed in the bathroom so I could...*ahem* clean myself up a bit... and stare longingly at the toilet. No gown this time, just a wrap skirt which you remove immediately on getting up on the table and drape over yourself for 5 minutes of "modesty".

The embryologist came in and talked about the embryos. Gave us a picture of our fresh transfer one. But I saw a bit of disappointment creeping in behind her fake cheerfulness. It was what she called a "cavitating blastocyst". Google tells me these are more often called "cavitating morulas". Morula. They're supposed to be that on day 4, not day 5. And the others...4 were morulas. Not even cavitating. She said they may not make it to freeze.

She had me sign the paper that had all my embryo information on it. I tried to read it, comprehend it, but I couldn't really read the words. All I could think of was how this was just one chance, maybe my only chance, and not a good one at that. I felt more drugged than I ever did during the retrieval.

Then the wrap skirt drape it is completely removed and there's ultrasound gel on your stomach and then all you can do is think about how you must not pee on the doctor.

First the doctor wondered aloud what my uterus looked like because she couldn't remember. I mentioned that it was retroverted but that was all I knew. Apparently that helped her choose a catheter. 

The doc had a look around my uterus and picked a good spot. Aion said it was like a little cubby or a nook...a place with three 'walls' so it wouldn't be able to escape. Good.  Then she did a 'test run' with the catheter and she said it went perfectly.


They had it all set up with a tv on the wall so you could watch the embryologist zoom in on your embryo and pick it up in the syringe and then it's carefully walked into the room and the doc does the exact same thing as the test run and I was still staring at the tv and the empty dish and forgot to watch on the ultrasound monitor. So the nurse asks me if I saw and I said..."Nope." But they pointed out where it was, which was kinda neat. Meanwhile the lab was checking the syringe and stuff to make sure there was no embryo left inside...which there wasn't, it was all inside me.

Then I got to run and go pee. That was very very good but it took me a while to convince myself to start because I had been trying so hard to NOT pee that I couldn't then just PEE. Bodies are stupid.

They added a new medicine to my regimen: Estrace. It's also a vaginal pill, but really really tiny and blue-green. No applicator. More on that in another post.

And then they sent me on my way, with a brief stop at the chocolate dish at the reception desk, which is my favourite clinic-visiting ritual. (Egg retrieval day they were out of chocolate. How cruel is that? I complained loudly.)

Aion and I had about an hour to kill before my post-transfer acupuncture, so we went to a cafe and I had non-caffeinated tea and a quiche and that was good and everything else wasn't. I was in a deep black fog of doom.