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.

book

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.

Here we go again… FET #2

September 3, 2013.  My Dad’s birthday.  Also the first day of our next frozen embryo transfer cycle.

Although we continue to bounce the ‘what’s next?’ conversation around, I have decided to try and focus on growing my uterine lining! Yes, that’s what I want to focus on.

Today is the ‘random’ start date for my next cycle as I don’t have any natural cycles.  Mentally, I’m in a pretty good place.  I’m excited to start again, hopeful the drugs are going to work this time in a (sort of?!!) timely way, and that this is going to end with a positive beta test.  I am literally dreaming at night of how we will find out that it is positive- peeing on a stick, the phone call from the clinic, how to tell my family, who are we going to tell, and if I’ll just burst out crying because of the great news!  But I also find myself struggling… How much optimistism is good?  If I focus on the great news, the baby bump, the baby shower, the newborn pictures… will it just hurt even more if it doesn’t work?  On the flip side, moping around assuming it won’t work isn’t going to be doing myself any good either.  Is there such thing as a happy medium? (Literally.)  Dan says to focus on small steps, so step one is to start the estrogen pills again and pray that my lining starts to thicken up.

The goal is over 18mm.  I’m sitting at about 10mm when I start.  The good news is that the docs have learned that nothing is easy with me, so they start me, right off the bat, with a good dosage of estrogen.  They start me off on 6 pills daily (12mg), 3 in the morning and 3 at night, all vaginally.  Wonderful.  I’m back to being a smurf with blue pills.

The other thing we are giving a shot this round is acupuncture.  I have done a lot of reading and several fertility and medical studies have proven that fertility acupuncture has been shown to have positive effects during IVF and FET cycles.  At this point, I’m willing to try anything.

There is a clinic that specializes in infertility not far from the fertility clinic so I called and made an appointment.  The practitioner is an MD from China and was the deputy Dean of the Chinese School of Traditional Medicine in Beijing.   He came very highly recommended so I walked into the clinic on the first day of my new cycle.  Not really knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised that he was very well versed in fertility.  He asked all the right questions about my cycles, the meds, the dosages, and checked me out from head to toe.  He instructed me to lie down on the bed and turned on ‘relaxing’ Oriental music in the background.  Honestly, I was half laughing in my head as this really isn’t my thing, but if there is even a chance it would work, then I’m at least giving it a chance.

The guy took my pulse and said I was too agitated to start so he would come back once I had calmed down.  Uhhh… ok Adele, calm down.  Ten minutes later, he walks back in and re-takes my pulse.  Apparently, I had settled enough for him and he asked me to close my eyes and focus on the music.  He proceeded to put little needles in the tops of my ears, my ankles, my feet, and all around my abdomen.  In all, there were more than 25 needles now sticking out from various parts of my body.  He put a basket covering my needle ridden belly and then covered me in a heavy blanket and told me he’d be back.  He gave me a mini doorbell to ring if I needed anything and then he left the room.

Generally, each time you had to lie there for about 30 minutes.  It was weird.  I was lying in this dark room with random ‘calming’ music in the background and supposed to be relaxing.  All I could think about was if this was all BS or if it actually worked… Cause if this was BS, he was sure putting on a really good show.

After 30 minutes, a small bell would ding outside my room and he would come in and pull all the little needles out.  I have a bleeding disorder so then I would have little pinprick fountains of blood trickling from various points in my body that I would try to stop with random pieces of kleenex.  I looked like a 14 year old guy learning to shave.  You honestly have to chuckle at the stuff I’m now willing to do if there is even a slight chance of success.  At $87.00 a pop, acupuncture was my new way to get another 30 minutes of sleep after fertility.  For the rest of my cycle, I proceeded to go about three times a week. Another $261.00 a week was peanuts compared to the amount I was paying for the meds and the actual procedure.  To be clear, none of which we really had at this point, but if I was in for an inch, I’d be in for a mile.  Oh, poverty induced by my fertility…

As my cycle progressed, the Chinese Doctor would calculate whatever special formula he had and moved the the little needles around my stomach like little soldiers preparing for battle.  It was a relaxing time for me to decompress and try not to think of strategy for my next meeting I’d be prepping for.

In typical fashion, my f*ing lining didn’t thicken up as quickly as it was supposed to.  You’d think by now, I’d expect that.  But each cycle I’d have a renewed sense of hope that the doc would have figured out my random medically puzzling body.  Alas, not yet.  After CD 5, I started daily monitoring appointments again.  I was driving 40 minutes for blood work and transvaginal ultrasounds each morning as a mini wake-up call.  Trust me.  This gets old.  Very fast.

CD 18 I was finally at 18mm.  My lining had never got thicker than this, but the clinic assured me that there was no benefit to being any thicker than this.  Once you hit 18mm, the chances of success were equal to that if I was at 19mm or 23mm.  Okay, it’s almost time.

We added in Progesterone suppositories again on CD 18.  The clinic decided to do things a tad different this time and they gave me the rectal ones.  Wonderful I thought, but the benefit was that I didn’t have time out all the various pills to shove up there at different times.  These ones I could put in the same time as the estrogen.  These turned out to be a life saver.  These didn’t make any mess at all and once they were in, you didn’t have to worry about anything until it was time to do it again.  If you told me I’d be bragging about how awesome the rectal suppositories were compared to the vaginal ones just a short year ago, I would have been asking what institution I was committed to.  Oh, how things change.

I am now on 4 estrogen pills vaginally in the morning and 4 at night, plus the progesterone suppositories morning, noon, and night.  Oh yes, this is the ‘easy’ cycle compared to IVF, but they sure keep you busy.  My hormones are raging and I’m hvaing every early pregnancy symptom out these plus menopausal ones to boot.  I spent my days dressing in layers so I could strip down at any time when I was hit by a hot flash.

September 26th was to be the big transfer day.  I booked special acupuncture appointments for before and after my transfer as the Chinese doc told me to, and I was getting ready.

The closer I got to the transfer date, the more worried I became about our back-up plan.  I needed to have some sense of control over this, and the back-up plan was my control.  I made Dan promise that before the transfer, we would sit down and hash out all the pro’s and con’s of all our options if this round didn’t work- then pick an option.  We shook on it and planned a date.  The Sunday for the transfer he promised me would be dedicated solely to fertility/life planning.

I was happy.  Two more days until our planning date and four until the transfer.  I started saying extra prayers that the back-up plan was going to be nothing but wasted time when we got our positive beta, but felt good knowing that we would have it ‘all figured out’… whatever that meant.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  My new motto.

ivf18