Sunday, July 31, 2016


I got the beta results on Wednesday (7.27.16): negative, as suspected. My HCG level was <1. I wasn't surprised to hear the news. The nurse did have some good news. The PGS results for our last (nonconcurrent embryo) came back and the embryo (grade AA) is normal. I will speak to the doctor on 8.10.16 to discuss our next steps. I think he will want to go ahead with another FET of the last embryo before moving forward with another cycle.

I start teaching at the end of August, so the next time I will have the required time off (for an FET cycle) will be in December during Winter Break--although the clinic shuts down during the holidays, so this will also be an obstacle. Another STIM cycle would have to wait until next May...this is what makes things so hard. The failed transfer is devastating, but it's even harder having to wait so long until we can try again. I worry about timing and the clock ticking, and getting through a semester (or two) of teaching. 

The day I got the news, I felt okay...and was happy to hear the news about the normal embryo...but in the days following, and especially this weekend, I have gotten more depressed. It is hard to get out of bed, to eat, to take showers. I don't want to do anything. I have 4 classes to prep for this upcoming semester, plus a textbook chapter to write, and I do not have the energy or ability to do so. I feel like I'm dying.

Did I mention that my best friend had her (first) baby the day after I found out? Of course I am happy for her, but I have to tell you I have had to unfollow so many people on social media this week. It seems like everyone is posting pictures of their baby bumps, showers, baby rooms, kids, etc. (I also decided to unfollow people who have been posting election-related stuff that I disagree with...because, really, who needs that?) 

I did come across this article about HGTV's Flip or Flop couple, Tarek and Christina El Moussa. It turns out that after they found out about Tarek's thyroid cancer, they were told they should not try to get pregnant for 6 months to a year, so they decided to sperm-bank and do IVF. It took them 3 tries and 2 doctors, but they got pregnant with their baby boy, Brayden James. I have had the pleasure of speaking to Christina a few years ago, and I reached out to her again and got a sweet message back from her last night. It is nice knowing that others have gone through this, and that it took them several attempts.

There are actually a number of celebrities who suffer from (or have suffered from) infertility and/or have gone through IVF. It is somewhat encouraging to know you're not alone in this. Something that Jennifer Aniston wrote recently in a letter really stood out to me: "We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Preparing for the Worst

I hate these things! (And they are so expensive!)
My beta is tomorrow morning at 10:30am and I am preparing for the worst.

 I ended up taking HPTs on Days 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12. All negative. I started getting worried on Day 8, and the rest of my hope disseminated with each test I took. It was like letting air out of a balloon. HPTs are the devil.

I have to say that perusing message boards at this time was not helpful, especially when other women, who had transfers on or around the same day as me, were starting to see faint positive lines on their tests. I would say probably 90% of the messages I read of people with successful betas had seen positive lines by Days 5-9 or were those who never did HPTs at home. I had pretty much succumbed to defeat until I spoke to my friend Anna online last night. She started the IVF process a month ahead of me (and did a fresh transfer) and is now at the beginning of her 2nd trimester with a baby girl. She told me she did not get a positive until the morning of her beta (Day 14). That did give me a faint glimmer of hope, but the cheap dollar store HPT I took today (Day 12) was clearly negative, so that quickly went out the door.

Part of me is still praying for a miracle, but I know I should not get my hopes up or count on anything positive coming out of tomorrow. I'm dreading the phone call tomorrow afternoon because I know it will be the last nail in the coffin. And let me tell you, each of the negatives on these tests killed me a little bit. You build up so much anxiety and hope to see the faintest of lines because maybe, just maybe today your body has made enough HCG to detect, and even just a faint line is enough to give you some sort of relief...and of course, that positive line would of course provide that relief...but no line means the exact opposite of relief. It's devastation. It's getting the wind knocked out of you. It's having your heart wrenched out of your chest. It's your world crashing down. It's the worst stomachache in the world. It's absolutely the worst feeling in the world, and nobody else could ever possibly understand it unless they've been in your exact shoes. 

I just devoted 4 months (and my entire summer vacation) to this, the countless injections, the hormones, the pain, the dietary restrictions, the physical restrictions, the mental anguish, the loss, the mourning, the money, putting all my eggs (literally) into 1 basket...and to watch it succumb to nothing.

My biggest frustration is we have to start all over again. We only had the 1 normal embryo (and 1 that is currently being re-tested) unless the last embryo is normal, we will have to go through STIMS once again, and then more testing, and then another FET...and the next time I will have 4 months to devote to this is next summer, a year from now. Right now I do not know how I can possibly get through teaching another 2 semesters before we can try again. This does not even seem feasible to me. I do not have the energy, strength, or capability to even think about prepping 4 classes which start in less than a month. 

One thing I've learned from this FET cycle is that HPTs are a bad idea. I do not recommend them to anyone. The best case scenario is that you see a positive at some point and your joy comes sooner than your beta. The worst case scenario is that your hope is crushed a little bit each time you test, and then crushed completely on beta day. I think that having it crushed just one time would be so much better than 6 times. I can't promise I wouldn't do them again next time, but I do know I wish I hadn't done them this time.

The beta is in 10.5 hours. Praying for the best; preparing for the worst.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Caved.

I was sitting at my desk doing some work for my summer class and I started getting those Aunt Flo cramps. Not only have I been feeling those cramps, but I have had that "heavy" feeling exactly the way I feel when I know my period is coming. My period is due on or around Friday, 7.22.16 (which is in ~2 days). I was so "sure" that they were period cramps that I caved and took a home pregnancy test (HPT). My hands were literally shaking as I tried to unwrap the plastic from the box. Results? Negative.

Right now I am really discouraged and bummed. I know it may be too early to take a pregnancy test or expect to see any sort of positive result (~5dp5dt) but I was hoping to see at least the faintest of lines so that I could stop worrying.

I am mad at myself for caving and taking the dang test, but I'm also just upset at the results and this entire process. I know the road's not over yet, but I just know my period is coming...I can feel it. I know there are many women out there who felt period-like symptoms, had a negative HPT at 5 days post transfer, and went on to have a positive a few days later...but I just can't help but worry that that's not the case for me.

This. Is. Seriously. The. Worst.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This. Is. The. Worst.

The TWW is THE WORST. Throughout this entire process--the countless injections, the numerous visits to the doctor, all the ultrasounds, the daily blood draws, the violating ultrasounds, the bloating and headaches--this is the worst!

I am currently 5dp5dt (5 days post 5-day [embryo] transfer) and I still have 8 days until my beta pregnancy test (7.27.16). I seriously don't know how I will last that long. I have 2 boxes of FRER Pregnancy Tests sitting on the kitchen table, but I am hoping I will somehow make it to the beta without opening them! Perusing all the online forums, so many women begin POAS (peeing on a stick) starting on day 5, although many of them get a negative at such an early stage. I don't know if I have it in me to do it and get a disappointing result. More seem to get (very) faint lines starting on days 7-9. Day 9 (for me) is this Saturday (7.23.16), which is only a day after I should be expecting Aunt Flo, and only 4 days before the beta, so I keep telling myself if I can wait that long, I can wait a few days more. Who knows. I'm literally taking things a day at a hour at a time?

I cannot even begin to describe how ridiculously difficult these first 5 days has been. Right after the transfer, you start noticing, feeling, and being aware of the tiniest things you (and your body) are doing. Am I peeing too hard? Am I putting too much weight in each step as I walk? Should I drink/eat that? Did I stretch myself too much when I was: putting on my seat belt, reaching for the remote, grabbing my phone, petting the dog, using the microwave, tying my shoe, washing my hair, laughing, breathing, sleeping...every movement, every gesture, every thought, you are worried about jeopardizing the implantation of the embryo(s). You're just certain that that one decision you made (drinking something too cold, laughing too hard, putting on your shirt, reaching for that towel, eating that piece of chocolate) has jeopardized the embryo in some way/shape form! It's a nightmare.
IM injection sites: Honestly, the bruising
and pain is nothing compared to the TWW!

Don't even get me started on the hormones! At this stage, I'm taking nightly injections of Progesterone as well as injections of Del Estrogen every 3 nights. (Del Estrogen is an injectable form of estrogen that is given to help thicken the endometrial lining. Progesterone is produced by the ovary after ovulation, and is given to support embryo implantation.) So here you are naturally worrying about the implantation that is supposed to occur over this 2-week period, and your hormones are completely out of wack. Don't forget that if God forbid, you aren't pregnant, then that means you're about to start your period, so you're possibly PMSing...and if you are pregnant, you have all those hormonal changes/imbalances going on too. I was watching an old episode of 16 and Pregnant yesterday where Farrah gave birth, and as soon as the baby was born and the doctor said "Happy Birthday," I burst into tears. 

Every day, night, hour, I am feeling different symptoms that could mean implantation or could mean miscarriage or could mean my period is coming. And unfortunately, after an FET, with all these different things going on, and especially because of the hormone injections, could mean absolutely anything. Also, the Progesterone could prevent a period from coming, so even if you aren't pregnant, and you should be getting your period, you might not, because of the Progesterone.

Normally I can take my mind off things by going to the gym for a couple hours or taking the dog for a walk, but both of these things are a no-no. I can't do my normal stress-reducing workouts and it's too hot during the day to take the dog out (plus he pulls on the leash) I am stuck at home watching TV, trying not to eat too much, and constantly perusing message boards (which I need to stop doing).

July 27 cannot come soon enough!

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Transfer

I had my transfer yesterday! My mom and I left the house at around 9:30am, and got to the clinic a little early. I went in for my pre-FET acupuncture appointment at 10:45am. The acupuncture points were a little different than last time. They were on different parts of my limbs and included my inner wrists. After my appointment, my mom and I went to lunch at Panera before I had to empty my bladder and start drinking 20 oz. of water. By this time, I had not gotten a call in the morning saying anything went wrong with the embryo thaw, so I breathed a sigh of relief, assuming that the embryo thawed without complications.

Drinking the 20 oz. of water was no problem, but right before I was called back for my appointment (around 1:45pm) I started feeling the fullness in my bladder. Then my mom and I sat in the room waiting for awhile and it kept getting worse and worse. I should explain that I already have a teeny tiny bladder to begin with...20 oz. of water is a ridiculously large amount of liquid for my little bladder to hold! Before the doctor game in, I absolutely couldn't hold it any longer so I scrambled to put my shorts back on and ran out the door into the nurses about to come into the room! They told me I could relieve myself for a (very fast) count to 10. I counted to 5 and (surprisingly) was able to stop mid-stream. 

Our little embryo! The embryologist gave us the cutest little
card framing a photo of the little nugget!
I went back into the room and they came in to start the transfer. I'll be completely honest. The fullness in my bladder was so incredibly uncomfortable that I don't remember much of the procedure, except that the catheter going into the cervix felt like nothing compared to the U/S tech pressing the wand on my abdomen. The doctor tried to distract me by asking me about my students, and I tried to answer him as best as I can. He showed me my embryo on the screen before the procedure, and then I got to watch as the catheter was threaded through my cervix into the uterus, and then as the embryo was released! There was a clip on the monitor that they replayed several times so I was able to record it on my phone.

After the procedure (which probably didn't take more than 15 minutes total), the doctor told me to stay lying down for 5 minutes, during which a nurse would come in with discharge instructions. I was just about to get up to go to the bathroom (because I couldn't hold it any longer) when the nurse came I (begrudgingly) listened to her as she gave me the instructions. (I told my mom to listen closely since I wouldn't be able to pay much attention!)

After I was finished, I went to my post-FET acupuncture appointment. The points were similar to the first time, except the acupuncturist did not put them in my abdomen and concentrated the heat lamp on my feet (instead of abdomen). After my appointment, I was headed toward the bathroom and almost tripped on my feet. I didn't trip/fall, but just kind of stumbled a little and landed on my left foot harder than I would have liked. Of course I started freaking out because I was worried I dislodged the embryo or moved it or something. In the car on the drive home, I frantically called the office in a panic until a nurse finally got back to me and said the doctor said I would be fine. After we got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening in bed and lounging on the couch. 

Today I took it pretty easy too. I started getting some abdominal cramps during the late afternoon that started on the left side. I took a nap to sleep it off, and when I woke up the cramps had radiated toward the right side as well. I called the on-call nurse who said cramping is normal. She did say I could take Tylenol (not Advil) although it may not help much with cramping. It did seem to help a little though. Then after I ate dinner, I got heartburn. I spoke to another nurse (the one who did my first at-home IM injection for me) and she said I could take TUMS, Pepcid of Zantac as needed and that sometimes cramps and heartburn could be early signs of pregnancy! I don't want to get my hopes up, but that makes me feel a little better.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

FET Schedule

I just got off the phone with my nurse. My FET is scheduled for 1:45pm, but I need to check in at 1:15pm. 75 minutes prior to the FET, I need to empty my bladder and then drink 20 oz. of water (12:30pm-12:45pm). They prefer you have a full bladder during the transfer so that they have better visualization during the abdominal ultrasound to help the doctor know where best to implant the embryo.

I am planning on going in for my pre-FET acupuncture appointment at 10:45am (45-minute appt.), then go to lunch with my mom, drink my water, then check in for my FET appt. After the procedure, I will go back and do my post-FET acupuncture appointment, then go home and rest.

The nurse recommends I take it easy for the 2-3 days after the transfer, with no heavy lifting, and light aerobics only (walking, yoga, swimming). I am to continue my del Estrogen and Progesterone injections until the first blood pregnancy test (2 weeks later).

I am getting super nervous/anxious, especially since we are still waiting on the embryology lab to re-biopsy the non-concurrent embryo (they are taking their sweet time!) the mean time, I am doing a whole lot of meditating and praying to get me through today and tomorrow!

FET Schedule for Thursday, 7/14/16:
  • 10:45am – 1st Acupuncture Appt.
  • 12:30pm – Empty bladder, then drink 20 oz. of water before 12:45pm
  • 1:15pm – Check in (4th floor) for FET Appt. (Bring photo ID)
  • 1:45pm – FET procedure
  • ~2:30pm – 2nd Acupuncture Appt. (exact time TBD)

After Transfer:
  • Take it easy for 2-3 days; no heavy lifting, light aerobics only (walking, yoga, swimming)
  • Continue injections until first blood pregnancy test

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Preparing for FET

I got back from my short visit home on Friday. Unfortunately, my connecting flight got canceled, so I had to kiss my checked suitcase goodbye as I tried to find another flight. Luckily, I found one that would get me home around the same time, but it meant that my Early Bird Check-In status was gone. Luckily, I found a window seat (next to a couple) on my first flight, and since I was riding in the same plane to my 2nd destination, I was able to switch seats after we landed, and I got a first row seat with extra leg room. As I suspected, my bag was lost, but I got it back the next morning after my lining check.

Speaking of my lining check (yesterday, Saturday, 7.9.16), I was super nervous in the days leading up to it. I made the mistake of perusing message boards online (which can be good or bad), and came across a post where a woman's FET was canceled because she had ovulated. I immediately started panicking because I had no idea that your FET cycle could be canceled due to something like that. Of course, I was worried because I had some ovulation-like discharge, so I brought out my trusty ovulation predictor kits (OPK)...which I thought I was done with forever! I went to my lining check appointment yesterday morning, and the sonographer said my uterine lining looked great (8.6mm vs. 3.4mm at baseline), so I just had to wait for the nurse's phone call with my blood work results. She called later in the afternoon and told me everything looked great, that I had not ovulated, and that I would start nightly Progesterone in Oil injections (1 cc) in the evening. Everything seems to be a go for my FET scheduled for Thursday, 7.14.16.

I am trying to get as many sessions in at the gym as I can, because I won't be working out for awhile after the transfer. I'm also still planning on doing acupuncture sessions before and after the FET. I've even stocked up on walnuts and Brazil nuts, and plan to get a pineapple for the week after. Eating those things may be an old wive's tale, but I'm willing to do anything to up the chances of a pregnancy!