Our Last Shot

This is it.

This is the last one.

The more I rationalize it, the more I realize that this is for sure going to work.  Isn’t that how life works?  Right when you finally give up, everything falls into place?

I’ve been going to fertility acupuncture three times a week and after waiting what seems like forever… my uterine lining is finally thick enough to get going with this frozen transfer.  We have two popsicles left (aka frozen babies).  The transfer is going to be on my Dad’s birthday, September 3rd so that has to be good luck right?

September 2nd, I get the call from the clinic to update me on the status of the thawing of our children.  Bad news.  Again.  Why this continues to surprise me, I’m not sure.  But sometimes it makes me laugh that I think something is going to happen how it is supposed to.  One of the two embryos has all but died in the thaw.  The other, however, is doing great.  Well… we’re down to 1 embryo.  But that’s all it takes, right?  Dan spent the next several hours trying to calm me down.  We only need one embryo to make this work.  This IS the one.

September 3, 2013- I head in for for the first of the two acupuncture appointments.  These are ‘special’ so of course they cost extra- 2 treatments in one day for only $325.00.  Well, considering we’re paying $1500 for the transfer, another couple grand for the fertility meds, we’re paying storage for the embryps, plus $250 a week for acupuncture this far… what another $325?  It’s only money… right? :s

The traditional Chinese doc says to stay warm and to drink warm fluids. Ok, off we go to Tim’s to wait until it’s time to head to clinic.  I have a French Vanilla Cappuccino and try to relax.  Dan hops back in the car and we cruise on over to the clinic.  Holding hands the whole way, we do the hand squeeze- you know, the holding hands hand squeeze that is means we have each others back.  And we do.

The transfer was fairly uneventful.  I changed into the hospital gown, Dan helped me onto the table and into the leg straps.  In proper FET fashion, I was about to pee my pants due to the required full bladder.  They confirmed the embryos were ours and the ultrasound tech started to manoeuvre the wand around my abdomen.  My favourite RE (other than our doc) was on, and my favourite ultrasound tech was in the room with us.  This had to mean something positive right?  With Dan holding my hand, the doc inserted the catheter into my uterus and with the tech’s guidance, measured the perfect distance from the top of my uterus to place the embryos.

They told us where to look and counted to three.  1, 2, 3…. out came a burst of white just a couple millimeters from the top of uterus.  They transferred both embryos.  The one hadn’t officially ‘arrested’ yet so there was no harm in placing that one in too. It was over faster than it started.

There.  Done.  I was now officially pregnant. 😀

After waiting a minute of so for everything to settle, I hopped off the table and ran to the washroom to empty my bladder.  I felt so cheery and excited.  I went to the tech to get our ultrasound of the babies, and she said she hadn’t realized that we wanted one.  Looking disappointed I looked at Dan- with an encouraging smile he said we had pictures for the other rounds, so maybe this round was going to be different for us.  Yes, we’d done this several times now. .. I just knew that this was the one.  The transfer went so smoothly and the 1 embryo was top quality.  Dan drove me back to the acupuncturist and he completed the second treatment for the day.

As I lay there on the bed listening to calming music my mind drifted to all of the excitement to come.  The announcements, the nursery, would it be a boy or a girl?  After an hour in the dark room with needles sticking out of me every which way, he came in and instructed me to stay warm.  Whatever that meant.  I went home and rested for the rest of the day.  I had minimal cramping and stayed all snuggled up in cozy pj’s and in my bed.  Keeping warm as instructed.

Since this was the last shot, I was pulling out all the stops- women on fertility forums always were talking about eating a pineapple core after the transfer.  Apparently some nutrient in the core is supposed to aid in the implantation of the embryo.  Yep, you know you’re officially desperate when you are crunching down pineapple cores swearing it’s going to help you get pregnant.  If there was a chance it was going to help, then sign me up.  We bought two pineapples and cut the cores into 5 segments for the 1st five days after the transfer.

I spent the next day taking it easy and working from home.  I wasn’t going to risk any extra stress or activity for this one.  It was so hard to keep focused on work.  Suddenly, everything baby was so much more interesting than grievances and LTD appeals.  Gender reveal parties (yes- I secretly want one- I’m a loser!), baby shower themes, and what to pack when you’re heading to the hospital were suddenly priorities.  One day down… thirteen more to go until my beta test.

I went back to work the next day. Trying to keep myself busy enough to forget about the miniscule baby who was either digging its way into my uterine lining… or not.  Impossible.  Still eating my pineapple core, I was also continuing to go to acupuncture on the schedule the traditional Chinese doc had recommended.

By 3 days post transfer I found myself wandering through the pregnancy section of Indigo.  There were so many books to choose from.  To be honest, I already owned several of them.  But I was sucked into the aisle and couldn’t leave.  I picked out the most detailed book I could find (which my friend later referred to as ‘the encyclopedia of all things pregnancy’).  It was pricey, and knowing we were seriously short on cash I had a sudden pang of guilt.  I called Dan and asked if I could spend $60 on this amazing pregnancy book that I absolutely needed(!). My rationale was that it started from the last day of your last cycle- so I would get an entire chapter of my ‘pregnancy’ day by day.  Even though a lot of the things described were forced through science (egg retrieval, fertilization, transfer) I could read all about the development and what was happening inside me.  I walked to the cashier and she smiled and asked if the book was a gift- I said no not really getting where her question was leading… She suddenly had this megawatt smile and said, “Congratulations! It must be SO exciting! I love seeing newly pregnant women when they are buying their first book!”.  Unsure what to say next, I smiled and muttered a thank you and avoided eye contact at all costs.  Was I a fake?… there was a baby inside of me, I just wasn’t sure whether it wanted to stay yet.

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I got home and instead of making dinner I became fully engrossed in the science and miracles behind pregnancy.  The neat part was that this book actually talked about IVF and what stages lined up with the natural cycles etc.  I was legit allowed to read the whole first chapter in ‘preparing’ yourself for pregnancy etc and caught up to seven days after fertilization.  Crunching on a pineapple core I was fascinated by the corresponding pictures and details.  It just seems so crazy that a person can actually just have sex and make a baby- all the moving parts that have to align so perfectly, it baffles me.  Here I am with science doing every single little thing for us, all my body had to do was accept the little guy and let it burrow into my uterine lining.  The more I thought about it, the more I was certain this round was going to work.  My new nightly routine was set- I was going to read where our embryo was in it’s growth each night before bed.

Days four and five post transfer were fairly unexciting.  I continued eating the pineapple core and reading about the development of our embryo.  On day six, everything changed.

Another 2WW (From Hell)

It has officially taken me a month to get around to writing this part of our journey… Not that I haven’t thought about it each one of those days.  I just didn’t feel I had the energy to do it.

The next few months were the lowest of the low for us, and I wasn’t doing very well.  Surrounded by friends and family that loved and supported us, I was stuck in my own head filled with negative thoughts.  The constant disappointments were compounding on top of one another and, regardless of the anti-depressants I was taking, I slipped into another depression.  So… here it goes.

…. 2WW (#3)

Today was the day.  While this Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) had gone relatively well compared to the other rounds we have done, it still wasn’t ‘easy’ as I had hoped.  I was excited to get into the clinic and have the transfer.  Patience is definitely not one of my strong suits.

On August 15th, Dan and I went in for our transfer.  The transfer itself was actually quite simple and easy.  We arrived at the clinic and they took us back to the procedure area.  I changed into the hospital gown and with an extremely full bladder I lied on the bed.  The ultrasound tech came in to see if my bladder was full enough… I felt like I was about to pee all over the table and she said I was good. (Thank God! Because there was no way I could wait much longer).  I lied in the chair with my legs in the brackets and prayed not to pee on anyone.

The RE popped in and went over the rig-a-ma-roll re: names and the embryo labels etc.  Yes, thank you for putting our own babies back inside of me.  Now that would be bad.  :S

Once ready, the ultrasound tech puts the ultrasound on my belly to guide the catheter that they use to insert the embryos.  With my bladder full, my uterus is pushed down and elongated so they can see exactly what they are doing.  After several measurements, they tell us to watch the monitor and they insert the two embryos.  We can see two white spots ejected from the catheter!  I’m officially pregnant!  If pregnancy is having a living baby inside of you, then I’m pregnant!!

They take a couple of shots on the ultrasound and print them out for us.

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The white solid dot in the pic are our two embryos 🙂

After relaxing on the bed for a minute, I jump up to go to the washroom because by now I can barely even think I have to go so bad!  We take a couple minutes to look at the pictures they gave us and talking about the ‘buddy’ effect they described to us.  One of our embryos wasn’t doing well and most of the cells had arrested, but we hoped that it would assist the other embryo which was very strong implant and attach!

Off I went home to rest in bed for the rest of the day.  We were officially in our new house so I cuddled with our dogs in the bed and Dan went back to work.

After two days of resting, I was back on vacation again.  The one thing that looking back I would have changed from the IVF round was that I was quite active and stressed with work and fertility during the 2WW.  I wanted to try and rid myself of stress so I decided to head back up to the cottage.  I drove back up north and my Mom was up there with two of her long-time friends.

I continued the crazy schedule of 3 vaginal suppositories and 8 estrogen tablets vaginally each day of the 14 days wait.  My body hated the estrogen and I was having every pregnancy symptom there was- my boobs hurt, I was nauseous, etc etc.  Honestly, it’s the evilest thing ever.

I would spend hours laying on the dock in the summer re-reading the same page of my book 30 times as I tried to decipher what each twitch, gas pain, and symptom meant.  I was in a pretty good mood until about 6 days post transfer.

I couldn’t wait any longer- I had to pee on a stick!  In the forums for IVF people talk about what day post transfer they got a BFP (big fat positive) on an at home test.  The earliest that people said they saw it was when the age of the embryo plus days post transfer equaled 10.  The embryos were 4 days old and I waited 6 days… the rationale seemed solid in my mind. Dan tried to convince me not to do it, he said to just be hopeful and wait.  I couldn’t do it.

As soon as I saw the negative result of the test, my life seemed to crash before my eyes.  I knew it then, I wasn’t pregnant.  It was really early to even be testing….  if I was normal, it would still be 4 days before my expected period, but in my head, I knew the magic second line would not appear on my tests.

I essentially cried for the next 4 days at the cottage.  If I wasn’t crying, I was curled up in a ball in bed sleeping.  My Mom tried to continue to encourage me to think positively and talked about the reliability of the tests and the timing.  Dan tried to calm me down over the phone for more hours than I want to imagine… but it didn’t matter.  I wasn’t pregnant and I knew it.

What was wrong with me?  They are literally putting little babies in my f*ing uterus and my body still wouldn’t work.  My entire world was so focused around getting pregnant.  We had spent basically all of our savings at this point, and months of pure emotional and physical hell, and we had absolutely nothing to show for it.

What makes someone a woman?  Because the whole reproductive system that was so eloquently explained to me in grade 5 wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.  I started to look back at our decisions leading up to this… Having a family was just as important to Dan as it was to me, and now he was stuck with me.  Me, the one with the useless body.  Letting me down was one thing, but letting Dan down was a whole different level of misery.

It was now 10 days post transfer and I couldn’t wait a minute later.  10 days plus the 4 day embryos equaled 14 days. This 2ww just got shortened by my creative math.  I drove home in the evening from the cottage and tried to prepare myself for the blood testing the next morning.  The night before going in, I felt this slight sense of hope.  Maybe I was being ‘Nancy Negative’ as my Dad would say… maybe I was all worked up over nothing.  The docs said we had great chances, so why didn’t I believe that?  I was so optimistic going into this round, so what had happened in these last few days?  It was official- I was going to be pregnant tomorrow and we are going to look back on my last couple (not-so-pretty) days and laugh in the future.

August 26:

The next morning we drove in for an early appointment.  I was sitting waiting for my blood work to be done in the glass room and my primary RE happened to walk by and ask how I was.  I hadn’t even had the test yet and I just burst out crying in the waiting room.  I’m not talking a little tear here and there… I mean a full out sob fest and I couldn’t catch my breath to even answer what was wrong.  Dan spoke up and said I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant and hadn’t been doing very well.

We stood me up, walked me to the room to get my blood drawn and then asked to see us in his office.  We wanted me to let him know what was going on.  I really had nothing to tell him that was new.  My body hated me.  This whole process of IUI/IVF had gone nothing but bad, nothing was working, we had virtually no money left, and the thought of having nothing at the end of this was so devastating I couldn’t even put it into words.  He chatted with us for a minute then said that we didn’t have the results yet, so try and stay calm.  However, he felt like it the result was negative, we definitely needed a fertility break to try and regain my sanity.  He also said before starting anything again, he wanted us (read: me) to see the psychiatrist at the clinic.

I, still sobbing, agreed and Dan walked me to the car.  Dan asked when the next appointment was for the psych doc and he had a cancellation the next day.  We took it.

We drove home.  Dan rubbing my leg as he drove, and me sobbing in the passenger seat.

Later on that day, around noon time, we got the call from the clinic.  I answered the phone before one ring even finished.  It was our IVF RN that we had developed a relationship with.  Her last words to me as I walked out of the clinic that morning was that the last woman who came into beta day upset like me turned out to be pregnant.  So try to stay optimistic.

With her first words, I knew.  All she said to me was that I was right… it was negative.  She was sorry.  After that… I’m sure we exchanged a few words, but I don’t remember any.  I just hung up and curled myself into a ball in bed and cried… and cried.  I asked Dan to text our families and a couple close friends who knew we would find out today.  Having to talk to anyone and say out loud that we weren’t pregnant meant it was real.  I wasn’t there yet.

After a couple of hours of Dan holding me while I sobbed, I was suddenly feeling quite calm.  It was like the not knowing part of the last 2 weeks was worse than just knowing that it hadn’t worked.  I felt like I had some closure now and we could start figuring out the next steps.  I couldn’t explain it- I was devastated it hadn’t worked, but I felt like there was a renewed sense of hope that we still had 2 frozen embryos left and there was still a chance!

I spent the rest of day watching movies with Dan on the couch and relaxing… and not knowing what the psych appointment that was booked for the next day would bring.

2WW… Number 2 (Two Week Wait)

After the devastating result of our first IUI, I was being cautiously optimistic after our IVF.  The clinic ended up transferring 2 top grade embryos.  They were both Day 3 embryos meaning they had a good growing start.

 

Generally speaking, you can have either 3 day embryos, or 5 day embryos to transfer.  The older the embryos are, the better the chances of success.  The problem is that the longer you grow the embryos outside of the body, the larger the chance of them arresting (dying).

 

Because we were only able to fertilize 6 embryos, we decided to play it safer with what we had and grow the embryos to 3 days. We were lucky and all 6 survived.  5 of the 6 were great quality, and the other was still above average.  Even though we have every problem in the book trying to create them, our embryos were great quality.

 

I was pretty good for about 2 days after the embryo transfer.  I took the day after the transfer off of work and rested as prescribed.  My goal for the next 14 days was to try to relax, keep my stress levels down, and focus on being well.

 

I had to take progesterone suppositories 3x daily to continue to support my uterine lining.   Suppositories… such an innocent name for such a crappy thing!  Basically shoving giant white chalky circles into my vagina… three times a day.  Not fun.

 

The issue with the progesterone was how evil it really is.  Taking progesterone mimics pregnancy symptoms.  My boobs hurt, I was bloated, I had nausea, and my stomach was a mess.  Plus, my body still wasn’t over the fertility medications so insert massive headaches, cramping, and muscle aches.

 

I hung the ultrasound picture on the fridge at our house and had it as a pic on my phone to look at.  I was absolutely amazed by it.  The whole science and craziness that is fertility was finally hitting me.  This was actually crazy!…

 

By about day 6, I was back to being best friends with Google.  I was now Googling everything from the best pregnancy tests, accuracy results of pregnancy tests on what day post transfer, early pregnancy symptoms, success stories from IVF, IVF odds for young couples…  you get the point.

 

This is about when I started getting creative with math.  Well if my babies were already 3 days old, plus I waited a whole 6 days… doesn’t that make them 9 days post ovulation?

 

I was once again pretty sure I was pregnant.  Perhaps this seems silly, and Dan tried his best to keep me realistic, but this time, the odds were in our favour!  We had such a great chance… plus our embryos were fantastic.

 

Day 7: … ok now I’m Googling and planning for twins.  How can you breastfeed with twins?  Do you keep them in the same room?  What if they are different sexes?  How would we tell our friends about two babies, not just one?  Although it was exciting, I was looking at the health risks for twin births and risks to the mother.  Knowledge was power… the more I knew, the more I could prepare.

 

Another major question- what colour would I paint the nursery?  Do we find out what we are having (yes!).  What hospital would we deliver in? 

 

Day 8: The scariest part of waiting for these 14 days is going pee.  It sounds stupid, but every time you go to the washroom, you say a slight prayer before you wipe.  Please God, don’t let there be any blood!  My worst nightmare came true… it was just a spot, but a spot of blood was not good news.  I immediately started crying.  This couldn’t be good news.  Back to Google I went and started reading all the posts by women who started to bleed and turned out to be pregnant.  Ok… this might not be the bad news I originally thought.  After all, it was simply one spot.

 

Day 9:  I’ve never been so scared to use the washroom.  I continued praying and tried not to read into my symptoms too much.  They were the exact same… no, wait, maybe they were getting stronger!  Probably just the progesterone, but what if it wasn’t.

 

We had invested so much into this cycle.  Not just a whole lot of money, but we were now going on over 2 months of straight treatment.  Two months of monitoring appointments, needles, poking, prodding, tears, and pain.  This was all worth it.  We were going to be pregnant.

 

We went to Costco after work that night to pick up a bunch of stuff.  I was getting cramps and getting really worried.  I went to the washroom and found that I was now bleeding.  Not just a spot anymore. 

 

I walked out of the washroom like a zombie and walked straight to Dan.  I was in tears and whispered the news in his ear.  We left before buying anything and went to the car.  I made it to the car before breaking down which was a feat in itself.  I was just exhausted and knew this wasn’t great news. 

 

I couldn’t wait any longer.  I could not wait another 4 days to find out if this worked, especially now that a period had started.  We were going to the clinic tomorrow morning to find out.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I went straight to bed and tried to calm down.  Dan continued to Google and found some hopeful posts, but I wasn’t feeling hopeful.

 

Day 10: June 15th. Beta Day.  I went into the clinic at 8am with Dan and got my blood drawn.  I walked out quickly and we drove home.  It was Father’s Day and I was really hoping for great news to give to our family.  Realistically, I was already talking myself into what might be the reality.

 

Around noon, they called.  It only had to ring once as I was holding the phone waiting.  The IVF nurse answered and said she had bad news.  After that, I have no idea what she said.  I just mumbled uh-huh, uh-huh and needed to get off the phone ASAP.  I hung up and broke down.  Even though this was the news that I was trying to tell myself might come, it didn’t help.

 

My body had failed us again.  Another 2.5 months had gone by… plus thousands of dollars and we had nothing to show for it.  Again.

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