IVF

Worth The Wait

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I know it has been forever since my last post and I appreciate the respect of our privacy over the last few weeks.  This post is going to be a very lengthy one – I have a lot of time to make up for! But trust me, this one was worth the wait…

Friday March 24, 2017 – The day of my blood pregnancy test

The day we had our embryo transfer (March 14, 2017) we asked family and friends not to ask us the specific day we would be finding out the result of our pregnancy test.  We knew that if they knew the exact day there would be pressure and questions (all meant in good faith of course) to give them an answer right away.  No matter what the result were to be – positive or negative, we wanted to be able to go through whatever emotions together as a couple.  It was going to be either one of two things – the best day of our lives or the worst.  The day we had our embryo transfer we knew that the exact day we would be finding out would be March 24, 2017.  So we had to wait a total of 10 days to find out if our little bean stuck.

10 days of grueling hell.

Let me tell you, I OBSESSED over everything, googled everything.  There were days I was confident it had worked and then there were days where I knew it had not.  On those days these were my thoughts:

  • How could it not have worked?  We had a perfect embryo, why didn’t it work? Now we really need to find out what’s wrong with me.  If a perfect embryo didn’t stick then nothing will.
  • This is just awful.  Now with Brandon’s work schedule and planned vacations coming up we won’t be able to go through another round of IVF until the fall.
  • OK, so my insurance covers 4 rounds of IVF.  We’re definitely going to exhaust all those and then what!?
  • Was the doctor sure he implanted it into my uterus?  What if it is still left in the catheter and never made its way out?

Talk about crazy lady status.  And then there were the “symptoms” or lack there of.  I wasn’t experiencing any of the typical early pregnancy symptoms.  If anything I was experiencing PMS symptoms.  At 6 days post transfer I woke up in the middle of the night to pee and when I laid back down I had menstrual-like cramps.  At 8 days post transfer the mid-night cramps were even stronger.  I remember laying back down in bed and thinking this was it.  It was over.  I knew the next time I got up to go to the bathroom I would wipe and see blood.  But I didn’t.  Not even a trace of blood.  Nothing.  I ALWAYS spot before a period but yet there was nothing.  At 9 days post transfer it was the official day that I should start my period and while this would excite a normal person that it still hadn’t come I was very skeptical.  I had currently been giving myself Progesterone shots every night since the day after my egg retrieval.  Progesterone is known to stop your period and it is extremely common not to get it.  So while yes, the lack of period was a good sign, it did not guarantee I was pregnant.  The progesterone shots could be stopping it from coming.  Either way at 10 days post transfer I would find out the result and this awful game of waiting would be over.  Finally.  And no, I did not take any home pregnancy tests during my wait.  I told myself I would enjoy being PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise).  Well, if a game of high anxiety is “enjoyment” than yes that’s exactly what I did.

On the morning of Friday, March 24, 2017 I woke up and got ready to get my blood drawn for my beta HCG level (a blood pregnancy test).  I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous or had higher levels of anxiety in my life.  I was absolutely sick to my stomach.  I sat down in the waiting room with a room full of other woman and couples.  I was sure it was written all over my face – I’M HERE FOR A PREGNANCY TEST AFTER MY FIRST ROUND OF IVF.  I’M SCARED SHITLESS.  I MIGHT POOP MY PANTS.

And then I heard my name get called.  I don’t think I ever hated the sound of my name more.  I didn’t want to hear it.  It meant that they were ready to draw my blood.  Blood that probably would show no levels of HCG.  No marker of pregnancy.

I peeled myself out the chair I was glued to and stepped through the door down the hallway to phlebotomy.  The phlebotomist (a girl I really grew to love at my clinic) asked me how I was.  I replied with “nervous” and then the tears began to fall from my eyes.  I wasn’t expecting it but I couldn’t stop.  I immediately put my head to the ground and refused to look up as I walked down the hall.  I did not want anyone to see the emotional wreck I had become.  I sat down in the chair and she noticed right away.  “Are you crying honey?” She embraced me with the longest, nicest, and most heart-felt hug.  Something I so needed.  I apologized for being a mess and thanked her for the hug.  She completely understood the state I was in and wished me the best of luck.  I walked out with a red face and a band-aid on my arm.  Now all I had to do was wait.  Wait again.  Wait for my nurse to call between 1-4 and deliver the biggest news of my life.

The benefit of the day was that I am off work on Fridays.  I would of been completely useless had I had to work.  Brandon was at work til about 4 and told me he had not wanted me to tell him over the phone what the result was.  He wanted to hear in person from me when he got home.  He always calls me on his way home from work so I told him that he better not call me than cuz no matter what the result I wouldn’t be able to hide it from him.

The hours ticked by like snails.  It was the longest 4 hours of my life.  At 1:47pm (yes I remember the exact time) my phone rang.  FCI HINSDALE flashed across my screen.  OMG, HOLY SHIT, SOME ONE PUNCH ME, OR KILL ME, THIS IS FUCKING IT.

I grabbed my phone and ran outside (I didn’t want the dogs barking, see blog post “We’re Pulling the Tigger”.)

“Hello”

“Hi Toni, this is Agnes calling with results”

::::I know who it is and I know why you’re calling!!!!::::

“Hi!”

“OK so we got your result in and your beta HCG level is 273.  You’re pregnant!”

I’m crying and shaking even typing this right now.  I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t.  I’M PREGNANT.  Words I never thought I’d be able to speak.

The rest of the conversation she explained that we have to be “cautiously optimisitic”.  We had to repeat two more beta levels in the following days to make sure my levels were rising appropriately and then we could move on to ultrasounds.  They want to see beta levels rise by 66% over a 48 hour period.

I got off the phone with my nurse and didn’t know what to do with myself.  I wanted to scream, cry, dance, kiss my dogs, set off fireworks, have a parade, rent a plane and write it in the sky  – TONI GABRY IS KNOCKED UP!!!!!!

After I collected myself I fumbled through my bathroom drawer for 2 pregnancy tests.  I peed the most beautiful pee on the most beautiful pee stick and saw the most beautiful two lines I’ve ever seen and the most beautiful word I’ve ever read – PREGNANT.

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I have never seen a second pink line and I sure as hell have never seen the word “pregnant” on a pregnancy test.  It seems stupid that even tho I already had a confirmed blood pregnancy test that I took a urine test but you have no idea the feeling of getting a negative over and over and over again month after month.  The feeling of continued let down and failure.  I deserved this feeling.  I deserved seeing that second pink line appear even before my pee had enough time to make it across the screen.  It was one of the best feelings ever.

The next thing I did that day was run to Hobby Lobby to get baby blue and pale pink ribbon.  I also picked up some balloons and got a cute little wood sign that says “we love you a ton”.  I went home and put everything together.  I tied the pink and blue ribbon around my belly and waited for Brandon to get home.  He texted me in the mean time and asked if they called yet.  My immediate reaction was to tell him that they didn’t.  I was thinking that if he knew they had called that he’d start asking me questions.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to keep it a secret.  So I told him that they hadn’t called yet.  And what does he do?  He calls me!  He figured since they hadn’t called then he could call me on his way home from work to chat.  I had to lie through my teeth the whole time.  Lots of “yeah I can’t believe they didn’t call either”, “how rude of them to make us wait til the last minute, this is ridiculous”, I even threw in a “well I better get off the phone with you I don’t wanna miss their call.”

When he got home he came in with flowers in his hand and turned the corner to see this.

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I was standing next to the chair with a huge smile on my face and the ribbons around my belly.  He just looked at me and said “NO! Really????” I shook my head yes and we both got teary eyed (Yes, Brandon YOU got teary eyed too).

We went out to dinner shortly afterward and celebrated the best news we have ever received.

March 28, 2017 (4 weeks 5 days pregnant)

I went back for my second beta draw 4 days later and my hcg level rose to 717.  Proper rising times and still pregnant! One more beta draw to get through.

March 30, 2017 (5 weeks pregnant)

My third and final beta draw came back as 1,388 and I was officially done with HCG checks!  The next step was our first ultrasound on April 5th.

April 5, 2017 (5 weeks 6 days pregnant)

When we went in for our ultrasound the sonographer explained that we’re just looking for a yolk sac at this point and we may or may not see a fetal pole and heart beat.  She quickly found the20170526_173505 yolk sac present but nothing else.  She reassured me that that was OK and more often they DON’T see the other things.  I trusted what she was saying but knew I’d feel so much better if we’d at least seen a little heart fluttering away.  We scheduled our next ultrasound and if everything went like it was supposed to than we would be graduating from our fertility clinic that day.

April 17, 2017 (7 weeks 4 days pregnant)

I sat pant-less waiting for the sonographer to come back in the room while Brandon rubbed my back.  He sensed how scared I was for this scan.  I still had no pregnancy symptoms and was sure that something was wrong.  20170417_103624I felt too good.  I was so scared that she would scan me and find nothing.  When she came back in the room and inserted my best friend “Wanda” up my hoo-ha we saw the sac right away and it was so obvious that there was now a baby in there!  This beautiful tiny babe had the sweetest little flutter of a heartbeat of 146bpm!  All my doubts and fears went away the instant I saw this beautiful sight and tears rolled down my cheek.  Brandon grabbed my hand and we both stared in awe at what was created.  Afterward we met with our doctor who hugged me and congratulated us.  He went over the do’s and don’t of pregnancy and it was so surreal that we were even having this conversation.  We checked out with the receptionist who gave us more hugs and well wishes and sent us with my medical records and a pregnancy magazine! I had officially graduated from the fertility center and it felt amazing.  And even tho they all started to feel like family, I was so thrilled to say goodbye!

April 28, 2017 (9 weeks 1 day pregnant)

Our first appointment with our OBGYN.  We were a regular ol’ knocked up couple.  She gav20170428_121159 (1)e me another ultrasound and this time baby sprout’s heart beat was beating away at 182bpm!  From the looks of the ultrasound Brandon was convinced we were having a fish, not a human.  Which I can’t say I blame him.  Poor babe looks exactly like a fish in this ultrasound.  But he/she is the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen!

May 23, 2017 (12 weeks 5 days pregnant)

I had my NT scan at a facility outside my doctor’s office.  This is where they take a little blood from your finger and test for chromosomal abnormalities.  I also got an ultrasound of the baby where they take all sorts of different measurements to send in with the blood.  I also got to hear my baby’s heart beat for the first time and it was music to my ears.20170601_100843

The sonographer was SO quiet during my whole scan and looked so concentrated on the screen the whole time.  She scared the shit out of me.  I thought she was seeing something wrong with my baby.  I asked her at the end if everything looked OK and she replied with a simple “yeah it’s a very limited scan.”  Uhh what?  It looked pretty involved by the look on your face.  I was so upset afterward and wouldn’t find out the results for a week.  Brandon called me to check how everything went and I was in tears.  I told him how awful she made me feel and how scared I was they saw something abnormal.  I also convinced myself I saw her take a measurement that was indicative of an abnormality and had myself all freaked out and worried.  I was scheduled with my regular OBGYN 3 days later and told myself I was making them do another ultrasound to make sure everything was OK.

May 26, 2017 (13 weeks 1 day pregnant)

When we got to my doctor’s office they took me back to an exam room – the room without the ultrasound.

“I’m getting an ultrasound today, right?”

The nurse replied “no” and I explained to her that I had called and requested one.  She was very nice over the whole situation and explained to me I wasn’t supposed to get one today because I just had one 3 days prior and insurance would charge me possibly thousands out-of-pocket.

Yikes, thousands?? After I thought about it I asked if she at least had a preliminary report from my ultrasound and to my delight, she did.  She showed me the report and went over everything.  I quickly scanned over the paper and saw that the measurement I thought I had seen the other day was not right.  The fluid in the back of baby’s neck was a normal amount and at the very end of the report it read “no fetal abnormalities.”

Thank you God.

The rest of the appointment was very quick and the doctor placed the fetal doppler on my tummy so we could hear the heart beat.  Brandon would be hearing it for the first time.  Once again, music to our ears ♥

May 30, 2017 (13 weeks 5 days pregnant)

I got the call with my final results from the chromosome test.  The nurse delivered the news that our precious baby is at low risk for any chromosomal abnormalities.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I got off the phone and cried the most happiest and joyful tears.

 

So there you have it.  A small glimpse into what the last 14 weeks have consisted of.  Pregnancy has been great to me so far.  I’ve had mild nausea from week 7-11 but that’s about it.  I’m taking this as my present for all the shit we had to go through to get here.  I will continue with updates through out my pregnancy and I continue to thank God every day for what we have been given.

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IVF

We love you already

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I started to feel crappy and not myself on Saturday night.  I had no appetite (which is soooo abnormal, I love food!), felt slightly nauseous, and was constipated (I would apologize for that being TMI but if you’ve been reading my blog then that’s the least of the things to apologize for!).  I took it pretty easy the rest of the night – laid on the couch, went to bed early, hubby brought me soup.  When I woke up I felt just as bad if not worse.  I was in and out of the bathroom all morning and still no appetite what so ever.  I couldn’t move out of bed without feeling weak.  I couldn’t even make it to my step-grandmother’s funeral which I felt awful about but if there was ever a time to take my health seriously, it was now.  I needed to take it easy and be 100% for the day of my embryo transfer.  I just couldn’t snap out of it tho and my constipation turned into quite the opposite problem (gross I know, but we’ve all been there).  I battled this through out the day and when Brandon came back from the funeral he laid in bed with me and took care of me (like he has been doing).  I was trying to stay hydrated with Gatorade and water.

The IVF team warns you about getting OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) after your egg retrieval, so while the thought had crossed my mind that this is what it could be I knew it wasn’t.  I had none of the symptoms of it.  I wasn’t bloated, vomiting, didn’t have abdominal pain and I didn’t gain any weight – you gain weight with OHSS from all the retained fluid.

When I woke up Monday morning I still felt awful.  I weighed myself to ensure I hadn’t gained and I found that I actually lost 7lbs since my egg retrieval.  Whoa.  When I saw that I lost that much weight in just 4 days I became concerned.  I started to put on my scrubs to get ready to go to work but I just couldn’t do it.  I still felt like a turd and once again it wasn’t worth it to push myself so I ended up calling in.  I hate calling in but I wasn’t taking any chances.  I emailed my nurse right away as the office wasn’t open yet.  No returned call.  Finally my IVF nurse called to give us our time slot for our embryo transfer and I told her what was going on and said I had not heard back from my regular nurse.  She spoke with the doctor on the floor at the time and they advised me to make an appointment with my regular physician so he cold prescribe me something.  They couldn’t since “it wasn’t fertility related.”  The transfer was up in the air at the point.  I had to be healthy enough.

Thoughts – Uhh seriously? I’m pretty sure any doctor can prescribe something for diarrhea.  I was pissed.  I’ve been in and out of their centers for the past 6 months but they want me to go somewhere else?  Not cool.  I felt like I was pushed to the side and my issues weren’t important to them.  Fortunately, this is the first time I have ever felt this way when dealing with my fertility center so I let it slide.

I did what they instructed and made an appointment with my regular doctor who was luckily able to fit me in that day.  He thinks I was reacting to the z-pack I was on and said I was safe to move forward with my embryo transfer tomorrow.

Thank God.

Disclaimer – Brandon suggested we stay in the city again as there was a snow storm warning in effect until the following day at 4 o’clock.

I did not want to sleep in the city again.  I still wasn’t feeling 100% and wanted to sleep in my own bed.

What a mistake.

What’s usually a 30-45 minute drive took 2 hours.  2 fucking hours.

The drive consisted of a lot of “you were right” Brandon.  Boy was he in his glory to hear that.

We got to our appointment about 10 minutes late but they understood due to the shit storm that was occurring outside.  They brought us back to the procedure room and the embryologist came in.  She gave us an update on our embryos and told us about the one they would be transfering today.  She described it as a beautiful embryo with a perfect grade of 1aa – the best grade you can get.  Wow.  I got teary eyed.  What amazing news.  She then said 4 of the remaining embryos had stopped growing and 2 they would watch over night and see if they’re strong enough to freeze.  She said she’d call the following day with an update.  I couldn’t even get upset over losing the others after hearing the perfect one we had for transfer.

The nurse came in to check that my bladder was full enough and before I knew it the room was filled with people ready to get me pregnant.  The TV on the wall flashed to an image of our embryo so we could see it before transfer.  Everyone started commenting how beautiful it was.  Doctor said it looked like something he’d show other patients to show them what an good embryo should look like on transfer today.

To me it looked like a blob.  But it was my beautiful little blob.

After we got a picture of the embryo it quickly got sucked up into the catheter and was given to the doctor for him to do his thing.  1489506391119The nurse on the ultrasound machine pointed out everything on the screen for me and within seconds my little embaby was safely inside my uterus.  Hopefully making itself at home and getting cozy.

The picture on the left is our little embryo and the right is our first ultrasound.  There’s a very small white arrow pointing to where it is in my uterus.

Now we wait.  The dreaded two week wait.  One of the worst, if not the worst parts of trying to have a baby.  The time where you over-analyze every little symptom or feeling your having.  One day you convince yourself you’re pregnant and then next you’ve convinced yourself it definitely didn’t work and probably never will and you’re just a huge failure.  Good God is this gonna be hard.

I must remember that Google is my enemy and not my friend.

Oh and we got the update on the rest of our embryos.  None of them made it to freeze.  I was devastated and had a sob fest when I got the news but I had to let it go.  There is a little embryo inside me that needs me to remain stress-free.

I’m not sure when the next update will be but please please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I hope our little one is getting comfy and cozy for the next 9 months ♥

IUI

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Our first IUI was on November 18, 2016

The 2 weeks leading to the actual procedure were not as scary as I thought they’d be.  The injections of Follistim that went in my tummy weren’t all that bad.  Sure they stung a little going in and it took some self-convincing to poke myself but after it was all said and done it was easy breezy.  The nurses and doctor monitored my follicles and blood levels and would call me each night to direct me how on how much Follistim I should be giving myself.  This cycle I ended up administering 75 units for 5 straight days.  The idea was to produce 1-4 follicles each time that were big enough to potentially produce a healthy egg (ah-ha that paperwork on multiples made sense now).  This is where IUI’s and IVF differ.  The idea with an IUI is to control the amount of follicles produced to a small number whereas with IVF they want you to make as many follicles as possible with the idea of making a lot of embryos.  IUI has a higher chance of multiples because they can’t control how many of the eggs would be fertilized and IVF they know exactly how many embryos they are transferring back into the woman.  It sounds confusing if you don’t live in an infertile world.  Here is a basic explanation of what the difference is.

I ended up making 3 good size follicles during this cycle.  And… NOW WE’RE PREGNANT WITH TRIPLETS!

Just kidding

3 follicles was a great outcome for someone who was struggling to produce 1.  When the doctor got the result from my ultrasound that these follicles were the appropriate size he decided it was time to induce ovulation with an injection of HCG, yay another shot! This injection was a lot more intimidating.  The needle is scary big and you inject it in your butt muscle but I had to do what I had to do.  Acutally I didn’t do it at all.  I knew that there was no way in hell I could psych myself into injecting myself with this huge needle.  So I did what any normal person would do and asked my friends at work if they’d give it to me.  Thank God I work in a place where we give multiple injections a day so this stuff is second nature to us.  My good friend (and co-worker) Ashley volunteered and it still makes me so happy and honored that I have friends like her who are more than willing to help me with weird infertility shit.  I was so brave tho. NOT. I fa-reaked my shit out.  I like to believe I’m a pretty strong person and a lot doesn’t scare me but something came over me right before Ash injected me.  I had a full on panic attack.  I started sweating and crying.  Honestly I don’t think it was just because the size and look of this needle.  I think it was a combination of this and all the emotions I was feeling.  All the hormones I had been injecting into myself probably didn’t help either.  Either way I was not in a good place.  My other friend at work let me hold his hand while Ashley stabbed my ass.  I think I squeezed and dug my nails into his as hard as I could.  I hyped this up to be the worst experience of my life.

I barely felt a thing.

This video still makes me cringe.  The pathetic whiny sound in my voice, ba gross.  What a baby I was.  I honestly would rather do these shots then the tummy shots any day.  That’s how painless it was.

I went in the following day to officially be inseminated.  Our appointment was really early in the morning.  Poor Brandon had to wake up ready to go and ready to produce his sample.  Ah, how awkward this all was for everyone involved.

We showed up an hour before the procedure in order for them to do the “sperm washing”.  Again, I know, so weird.  But this is the world we live in now!  This process weeds out the weak, slow, or abnormal swimmers and leaves us with a concentration of the best of the best.  After the “washing” they tell you the numbers you’re left with and how they compare with what is ideal.  A good number is above 10 million, we had 17 million.  The motility they want to see over 50% and I think we had it in the 70’s (can’t remember exactly).  So we were working with some good little guys.  Yes! One more thing that was helping us towards making a baby!   To put it all together we were working with Brandon’s great swimmers and my 3 follicles.  Good odds in scheme of things.  Remember all it takes is 1 sperm and 1 egg.

The insemination wasn’t too bad.  Some mild discomfort but nothing awful.  I was told to come back in 1 week for a progesterone check to make sure I ovulated and a week after that for a blood pregnancy test.  We were going on a mini vacation to Michigan the day we would have to get the pregnancy test so we scheduled it in the morning before we got on the road.

The TWW (two week wait) is always the worst.  This is the period where I over analyzed every little thing.  Every thing I felt I wondered if it could be a symptom of pregnancy. In the mean time, the nurse called with the good news that my progesterone was consistent with ovulation.  Yay!

And then the morning came where I began to spot.  I knew it was over and it hadn’t worked.  I remember calling Brandon and telling him on my way to work.  He is the sweetest man in the world every month we go through this.  He always tries to tell me I could still be pregnant.  Well, after trying for this many months I knew that my body was telling me it wasn’t going to happen this time.  I began to hate that he’d tell me this.  Believe me I know he was just trying to stay positive and help and keep the faith but it was harder for me that he just wouldn’t accept that it wasn’t happening this month.  It was like a false hope he would give me when in reality I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I remember this was the first month where I finally told him to stop saying things like that and that it only made it worse for me.  He understood.  I went home from work that day and skipped the gym to take a nap, I needed it.  When I woke up, the reality of what happened hit me.  Brandon still wasn’t home from work and I remember feeling so alone.  I started to sob uncontrollably.  That kinda cry where you can’t catch your breath.  I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself I was a failure and my body sucked.  I was a in a really low place.  I hated myself.  I hated that I had no control over what was going on.

Like I said before – we went in for the pregnancy test right before getting on the road to Michigan.  They would call me later in the day with the result.  I knew what the result would be anyway but when my nurse called and confirmed it was negative it broke my heart.  Unless you have gone down this road you have no idea the heartbreak that comes on this journey.  You hope and pray each month that this will be it.  This month was a lot different than all the others months we tried to have a baby.  It was harder to accept the negative result with all the assisted help we got this month.  The clomid, the shots, the blood work, the ultrasounds, the IUI – all of it for nothing.  It was a huge blow to my confidence.  For the first time on this journey I had a thought I never had before.  I thought this might never happen.