Wednesday, April 29, 2009

84 - Life in numbers...

That is what life in the world of infertility is - even post positive pregnancy. Up until Monday I was getting my blood drawn every other day in an attempt to wean me off the meds. No weaning now until after our second ultrasound on Monday. My progesterone looks fine (I'm on the supps. and they are pleased with anything over 6), but as you can see, my estrogen is all over the place. They finally gave up on the weaning and gave me the week off from blood draws. For the first time since mid March, I can enjoy a week without numbers.

Estradiol and Progesterone (* indicate no reading)

1300 11
550 17
1100 15
1600 *
450 *
850 18

I know estrogen numbers are lower with frozen embryo transfers, and I always keep in mind what Phoebe says about how it is more important what is in the uterus than what is in the blood stream (very helpful, Phoebe), but does anyone have any additional insight about the estradiol? I really don't understand its role.

I feel stupid. I really thought that I would either not get pregnant from this frozen embryo transfer or get pregnant and that would be it - a "normal" pregnancy to just sit back and enjoy. Bahahaha! I am not complaining - I am so grateful we have gotten as far as we have, but this is so far from a normal, naturally conceived pregnancy.

For those of you who don't know about frozen embryo transfers (and for those who do, please correct me if I'm wrong) - my body was basically "shut down"(via birth control pills) and then restarted (via artificial hormones) prior to transferring the embryos. In a natural pregnancy, your body is already producing progesterone and estrogen from your natural cycle. But since I didn't have a natural cycle, these artificial hormones are all my body has until the placenta kicks in (I think between 9-12 weeks). Hence, the close, obsessive monitoring.

Monday we'll have some more news with the ultrasound - here's hoping for a heartbeat and good growth...and 7 more months without so many numbers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

83 - Bright spots that come and go...

Last Wednesday, after our yet-another confusing report of good progesterone and low estrogen, I was talking to my mentor at the university about this pregnancy. She knows the details. She knows the crazy number game we've been playing. After this last conversation she placed her hands on my shoulders and said "Christina, this pregnancy doesn't surprise me in the slightest. You do everything your own way. You are never in the "normal" range in anything you do - be it on the good side of normal or the bad side. Why would the pregnancy be any different?".

Yesterday, I realized how right she was as I stared at the ultrasound screen and saw bright spots come and go from our peppercorn within that little black sac.

We saw a strong heartbeat and the measurement was good - a few days behind, but right on target if this was a late implanter. I know we are not out of the woods, but for the first time since this started I accepted the "congratulations" as we checked out of our ob/gyn's office without rolling my eyes and making a sarcastic comment to Alex.

We are in shock. I was going to recap the beta numbers, but instead I am just going to post our first ultrasound pic this afternoon. We are not going to look back on this. As of now, we are just any other pregnancy with a heartbeat. I really expected to see an ectopic or an empty sac or a sac with a fetal pole and no heartbeat, but not this. What was my profound reaction to this little miracle? I just kept saying "Holy shit!" over and over as I stared at the screen. Classy.

I'll post the pic this afternoon. Thank you all for keeping some hope about this when I had absolutely none.

Next - another ultrasound in two weeks and weening off the drugs.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

82 - Of course. Can anything be perfect?

This was Alex's text response from Istanbul late last night after I sent him the following message:

"good and bad. Progest up, estrogen down."

My progesterone is right on target, but my estrogen plummeted - so much so that they have added an additional estrace pill at night. I asked the nurse if this was unusual - to see one up and the other down - she said somewhat. She also said that even though my estrogen is still above what they would like to see at this point, she added the extra estrace because she doesn't want to take any chances with this "crazy situation".

That is what this is labeled - a "crazy situation". Yup - that's about right.

Here is the crazy thing - we closed this up on Friday, April 3rd when we got the news of our low, non-doubling second beta number. I was thrilled at the clarity we experienced that day, and saw it as something special. Not that we didn't grieve - we did. But it felt like we had been doing all our grieving over the past 7 months since our fresh cycle. We had always said all along that we weren't cycling again - that we would go straight into adoption...but we were also open to changing that decision. We knew that we would only know the answer if this FET cycle failed. To us, it failed on April 3rd. And everything became clear that afternoon. That afternoon, we knew how close we got - this was our first ivf cycle, we got blasts that both made it through the thaw, and I got pregnant, be it a chemical or not. The chance of this working at some point is probably pretty high. We know that. And even with that knowledge, there is not a ounce of us the wants to give this another go.

I finally have the courage to say this - we don't want a biological child bad enough to do this again. That afternoon, it became clear - although we were sad, it felt like everything was falling into place as it should...we were meant to adopt. I fell in love a little more with my husband....I know a lot of guys often aren't into adoption and kind of see it as a "last option" - but not my husband. He's excited about it. He doesn't have any hang ups about it. I really see this as special, and I'm grateful.

I hauled out all the info we had collected throughout the fall. We had narrowed down the agency we wanted to work with, and I found myself getting excited and feeling almost "privileged" about our path in life.

And then our "crazy situation" happened that following Monday. My beta started doubling normally. Before we started infertility treatments, I had fantasized about how I would feel if I became would be this utopia-type feeling and all would be right with the least my world. I think it is the combination of our rough start and our surprisingly peaceful closure - but I will tell you that what I am feeling right now is far from utopia. It is more like "please just let this not be an ectopic"...I'm in denial that there is a chance that this is viable.

The whole situation brought to light something I've been working on in terms of personal growth. Give me lemons and I will make lemonade - and pretty quickly. My coping skills in bad situations are above average. It's not that I am detached and don't feel - I feel deeply - but I am usually able to work through those feelings and function in a healthy way - thanks to years of hard work in therapy.

But give me lemonade?

I freak out. I want to immediately pour it down the sink. Give me my lemons back. I know what to do with those. The lemons will keep me busy - they will allow me create something out of nothing. But to sit here and enjoy a glass of lemonade? Even a little? It puts me far out of my comfort zone.

And here we sit with our small glass of lemonade - I'm still pregnant, even if it is a "crazy situation" with lots of risks. My goal in the days between now and the ultrasound is to allow myself to drink a little - even if they are only tiny, cautious sips.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

81 - Looks like an ultrasound?

Beta #4: 190

CCRM likes to see at least an increase of 66% in 48 hours. This was a 68% increase in 24 hours. Again, WTF.

Estrogen: 1311
Prog. : 12 (they said anything above 6 if using the supp.)

No more Hcg estrogen/prog. test next week. Then perhaps an ultrasound on April 21st? They sent me the script. And gave me a due date of December 9th. BaaaaHahaha...those CCRM folks sure have a sick sense of humor...

My nurse sounded shocked and confused. Me too.

I'm sorry I'm such a slacker on the comments the last couple of days...I hope to catch up tomorrow morning. Thank you so much for the support.

Question: And I truly want honest answers: Has anyone had an ectopic with doubling and more than doubling numbers? Right now, that's my biggest concern. I may push for more Hcg testing...

Monday, April 6, 2009

80 - WTF...

So when the nurse called today I said, "please put me out of my misery", meaning "tell me my number is like 5 or something so I can stop the meds and call the adoption agency". Nope. Of course not. Apparently, I can't even fail something in an easy, straightforward manner.

Beta #3: 114

Exactly where is should be if it has been doubling since Friday, but still low for what it should be today overall.

I'm headed to the pharmacy now for more meds. F' me. There is no joy in this. Most women would be excited to some extent to get this news. It doubled perfectly. But no - not us IFers. We know too much. So here we sit - waiting for the bomb to drop...fighting hope from creeping in.

I have to retest again tomorrow. And then probably again the next day.

It's a hard spot - I'm "pregnant", but in no way do I think of myself as such. I think now I would only ever consider myself pregnant at 36 weeks, in the hospital having contractions. Not only does infertility f'up most other parts of your life, but it sucks a lot of the joy out of a possible pregnancy.

Sorry about dropping the f'bomb so much. This is a very confusing emotion I am dealing with right now.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

79- Self-imposed closure...

Apparently the universe decided that we "needed" beta hell and most likely a chemical/ectopic pregnancy.

Beta #1: 28
Beta #2: 38
Beta #3: Monday - yes, that's right. CC.RM has requested that I stay on the meds until Monday and restest. Do they think I live in a cave? I know statistically what these numbers mean, but I think this is just their policy until the beta starts going down.

In our minds, this is obviously a BFN. Closure - we've decided that without the help from CC.RM. Game over. We ain't playin' again.

I'm surprised by how I feel today (I can't say the same for the last couple). Somewhat content. Ready to move on and plan the summer and beyond. I think because I realize that where we are today is exactly where I expected to be...I never had a ton of hope about this cycle. That changed a little when we saw the embryo hatching, but if I am really true to myself, there wasn't much hope prior to that time. We really thought of going through this FET as "checking the box" so that we could start the adoption process. And here we sit - box checked. In the last few days we have been forced again to really evaluate what we did this all for - for us, being parents has been about 90% of the reason and there are many amazing ways to be parents.

There was a little "hiccup" (for lack of a better word) in the middle of all this, even before the 29 beta. I started testing positive on those EVIL sticks 3 days prior to the beta. Whenever I heard people call them evil, I always thought they were evil because of false negatives. Well, folks, I am an example of a false positive. I mean, I know that technically if the HCG in your blood is above 5 or so, you are "pregnant"...but not really....not until that beta doubles. I'm not trying to put a dark cloud over anyone's positive pee stick, but I now understand why they say "DON'T TEST!" with IVF.

I've read that over 80% of women in child-bearing years will experience a chemical pregnancy, but a vast majority will never know about it. They will just get their period a day or two late and it might be a little heavy - that lovely ignorant bliss that we IFer's don't have the luxury of experiencing. For us, that "ignorant bliss" is replaced by fortunes spent in pee sticks, several days of being poked, and hours sitting by the phone waiting to hear that "magic number".

Gosh - I feel like I have so much to write - next steps, big summer travel plans, how lucky I feel to be married to my husband right now (you notice how I say "right now"...I am very aware of the nature of marriage ;-)) - but I'll save it for another post. I know this is a lot to digest considering our somewhat secretive nature about it all.

ADDITION: I guess I can now mention that I had the chance to meet Phoebe from Tales of the Phoenix while out in was so great to meet a fellow blogger in real life. As you may know, our FETs were one day apart. It was a such a comfort for me to have a cycle bud. Hey - brainstorm - clinics should really arrange "cycle buddies". Wouldn't that be great? Anyway, I had hoped we would be on the same side of the fence...we are...just the WRONG side :-(.