Friday, July 31, 2009

A Little More Scary Bleeding

**Warning - this is definitely a TMI kind of post with lots of bodily functions discussed in detail**

Wednesday night I had a very scary episode of bleeding. If I thought the little spotting was bad enough on the weekend to send us to the emergency, this was out and out bleeding. Frightening.

I went to go pick up my DH at work Wednesday night and went to pee right before I left. Nothing on the pantyliner. When I got back 45 minutes later, my pantyliner was about 50% soaked with bright red blood. I even noticed a drop or two in the toilet water. We called CCRM right away and they put me on bed rest for the rest of the day plus the next day and prescribed me an antibiotic (eurythromicin?). The nurse told me that if there is a tear (which they did see on Saturday's u/s pictures), there is now risk of infection so they want to make sure that they've covered off that possibility. I also made the nurse tell me and then repeat twice that the bleeding is normal, especially with twins. It's still so freaky though - one moment you're fine and the next moment you've got blood all over your underwear. I don't even get menstrual flow that heavy on a good cycle!

The one good thing is that I haven't noticed any cramping at all which is the only thing that I find reassuring. The bleeding started and stopped pretty quickly but I've continued to spot in varying shades of pink/bright red/brown. I've also had a lot of vaginal discharge from the high levels of E2 so every time I feel that there is moisture, I rush to the bathroom to look since I can't tell anymore what it is - blood or discharge? I'm back to obsessively checking the toilet paper every time I pee.

Well...I wished for a little morning sickness and I got my wish. Meal times have become very challenging for me. It's not that I feel queasy most of the time - I actually feel pretty hungry a lot but once I raise that fork to my lips, I feel my throat closing and I gag alot. My poor DH has been running around, heating up food for me that I don't end up eating. My problem is that I'm trying to remain as gluten free as possible througout the first trimester but man, what I would give for some dry toast or soda crackers! I know these are not gluten free, but I've been eating a lot of dry cereal of late - Corn Flakes & Rice Crispies. It's all that I can get past my lips these days. I have also noticed that if I let myself get too hungry, the gagging gets even worse so I am trying to keep a steady stream of food to my mouth but that has been challenging. So far, dry cereal, fruit, smoothies, clear soups & rice noodles have been all that I can get down. I've found some gluten free waffles that are pretty good so I've been eating those too. I've been chewing on the ginger a lot but that doesn't seem to do much. Anyone have any suggestions on what calms their stomachs and what they've been eating?

Well, back to lying down. I promised my DH that I wouldn't sit at the computer too long and we don't have a laptop or wireless internet. Thank you for all of your sweet comments everyone and for coming back and checking in on me. You're all so sweet!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Day Spent in Emergency

Saturday morning I woke up and found some bright red spotting on my underwear, more than I had ever seen before. I had been spotting for a few days before that but I was reassured because it was always dark brown in colour and really can't be described as anything else except a light staining. I wasn't having any cramps but the fact that the colour changed from dark brown to bright red and that there was more of it than I had ever seen before, we decided to be cautious and headed to emergency at 8:45am on Saturday morning. My local clinic had already finished cycle monitoring and there wasn't an ultrasonographer in sight so we didn't really have a choice but to head to emergency.

It took *hours* to get the bloodwork done and to get in for an emergency ultrasound but we did get everything done that we needed. The ER doctor was actually really good and I know I wasn't high priority since I wasn't gushing blood but she kept on checking in with us and tried to hurry the process along as best she could. Six hours later, we finally got some answers. We got our HCG levels rechecked and by my calculations, we should have been in the 30,000 range and it actually came back at 75,000+.

We were also squeezed in for an emergency ultrasound. This was our first ultrasound and was right at the six week mark so it's iffy whether or not you'd see a heartbeat at this point. I couldn't help but remember all of the ladies I had read about who posted on IVFC who didn't see heartbeats until 7w and beyond but then suffered the stress of going to their first u/s and not seeing a heart beat. I was worrying about everything while the hours ticked away and we waited to get in for an ultrasound. I was worrying about seeing an empty sac, the baby having no hearbeat...all the paranoid kind of stuff that can go through your mind as you wait and clock watch. Tick tock, tick tock...

When the time finally came for my ultrasound, they made my DH wait outside. Then, the technician didn't or wouldn't say a thing during the exam - there were signs everywhere that said that the ultrasonographer needed to do the exam uninterrupted and the way they had me propped up, I couldn't see the screen at all. The scan went on for a good 20 minutes and during the whole thing, she said not one word. I was trying to face-read any expressions and I was hoping to catch a glimpse of something in the reflection on her glasses but alas, nothing was revealed until she was done.

We're having twins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My little 4CB and 2/3 both took! We are stunned and so incredibly, totally and completely grateful. And to think that we were going to give up on them, cycle again in hopes of getting a few more to transfer. I'm going to say it again - we are stunned. Both looked really good according to the radiologist and measured at 6w2d and they were able to find both heartbeats!! Way to go my little overachievers!!!

The spotting that sent us to emergency on Saturday morning was a subchorionic hematoma which is essentially a blood clot between the yolk sac and the uterine wall. I sent off the ultrasonographer's report to CCRM and got a call from them the next day and the nurse explained "subchorionic hematoma" to me in layman's terms. Apparently, the spotting is caused by the placenta tearing away from the uterine wall a little. Scary eh? She said to be really cognizant of my body motions, emphasizing that I was really not to lift anything heavy and no twisting body motions either. If it happens again, she said to put myself on bedrest, put my feet up and rest until the bleeding goes away.

Since the ultrasound was done in a hospital emergency, we weren't given the option of taking a photo home but my DH did get to come in after she was done and saw the pictures on the screen. When she finally told me, I burst into tears and then proceeded to cry all over my DH when he saw the pictures. It was such a relief to see both of them and to know that everything is going well. It was a very long and tiring day but it was worth those 6 hours in emergency to find out that information. A bad start to the weekend but it has gone up to a high for sure.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Protocol Details

As promised, here is the protocol that I was on for the embryo retrieval portion of my cycle. Please keep in mind that I was also doing acupuncture 2x/week with a TCM that specialized in IF and I was also taking Chinese herbs. I continued to take the herbs without my clinic knowing and against their advice - they have a very clear policy of no herbs, even in the form of herbal tea.

I think this protocol is commonly referred to as the Estrogen Priming Protocol (EPP) and went like this:

1/28 - AF arrives; DH and I both start Doxycycline 2x/day for 10 days

2/6 - start testing for LH surge using OPK

2/8 - LH surge detected

2/18 - start estrace 2mg 2x/day (10 days after LH surge)

2/19 to 2/21 - Cetrotide injections 1x/day

2/23 - AF arrives; stop Estrace

2/24 - pre-stimulation check meaning u/s to check for cysts, E2 & P4 check
2/25 - start stims - 2 amps of Menopur in the AM; 300 Gonal F in the PM; start Dexamethasone 1x/day in the evenings; repeated daily

3/2 - continued stims as above & began Cetrotide 1x/day

3/7 - last day of stims; only did 2 amps of Menopur in the AM; no Gonal F in the PM; HCG shot at specified time

3/9 - embryo retrieval

I discussed my Day 3 fertilization report in a previous post but this was definitely the best cycle for us in terms of total retrieved, mature & fertilized. We have never made blast before either so there were some significant improvements over our previous cycles.

As we chose to do genetic testing, this was a freeze all cycle for us and we returned in July to do a FET & pick up the kid(s). I hope this helps!

As for the awful rash, it's still there and my hives have hives but it is slowly going down. I have been slathering Calamine lotion all of my torso to help with the itchiness and it makes it go away temporarily but all it takes is for a soft touch of fabric against the rash for me to get the urge to SCRATCH!!!!! I've never used Calamine lotion before and am quite surprised how watery it is but whatever works. I switched to oral Estrace on Friday thank goodness so it is just a matter of time until my rash goes away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rash & Memory Issues

I have completely broken out into this awful rash...exactly the size and shape of 4 Estradot (Vivelle) patches. I have 4 welts on my lower abdomen and about 8 welts on my buttocks. I want to scratch SO BADLY and every time I go to the bathroom (which is many, many times a day), the simple sensation of pulling down my pants to pee drives me to distraction and it is all I can do not to scratch. Sometimes I give in and scratch for a few seconds but you know how it is - once you start, you have a hard time stopping.

This is not a complaint - I welcome this experience and everything that goes along with it and I do mean everything, even the itchy, uncomfortable rash. I haven't heard of any of you other ladies out there mentioning a rash so I was curious to know if anyone was able to get rid of one once they got it?? It has been days now since I peeled off the ones from my abdomen and I can still count all 4 patches. My buttocks feel like they're on fire and the warmth from the rash you can feel right through my pants. I'm going to try some calamine lotion on it tonight and hopefully that will help it go down or go away. I read the instructions that came in the box of Estradot and I chose a different site today (upper abdomen, waist area) which is okay as per their helpful diagram so hopefully the skin in the new area will not flare up.

I have also been extremely absent minded of late. I am forgetful on a good day and it has just gotten worse in the last week. Here's my list of absent minded things I've done recently:
  1. Opened up my drawer in the bathroom to find my brush, hair bands...and my watch! I always put my watch on my night stand so I have no idea why I would suddenly change that and put it in the bathroom drawer.
  2. Put my plastic cards in the wrong slots in my wallet and then freak out because I can't find my credit was just in the wrong slot.
  3. Lost my denim jacket...I can't even remember WHEN I lost it so it could have been lost for the past week and I can't remember where I last had it!
  4. Forgot a very important PIN #...finally figured it out but and I had all the right digits, just completely in the wrong order! (Do you know how many combinations 4 digits can make??)

I've been feeling okay for the most part. Today I didn't really have any symptoms which is a little worrisome but I have to remind myself that these will come and go. I just would like some verification every day that there is still something going on down there. Just a teeny, tiny little bit of MS would be good but from what some of you ladies are reporting, there never is just a teeny bit is there? You're all going to remind me that I wished for MS if I do get some down the road aren't ya?!

Still enjoying the ride though, every single second of it!!

P.S. for the two ladies who delurked and dropped in to say congrats ("Anonymous" and "triumph") - thanks! I know you want protocol details and I will post them this weekend but I think what made the difference for me was the CGH microarray testing and transferring only the embryos that came back normal.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Beta #2 - 11dp5dt was 551!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got the call at 11:15am today from the local clinic. The nurse there, the very first IVF nurse I ever came into contact with, agreed to call me because she knew how nervous we were. I promptly burst into tears, made her repeat the number, we cried together and then I hung up the phone to run to the bathroom to have a really good "I'm so happy" cry your eyes out in private.

The number was supposed to be above 310 and it more than doubled. In fact, it almost quadrupled since Friday!!! Way to go my little over achiever(s)!!! I am reassured...for the moment. Once a worry wart, always a worry wart. I've already got my next thing to obssess about but I won't spoil this moment. I just want to ride this high. The feeling of *finally* taking a few steps down a different pathway, one we've been trying to get to for the past 7 years.

DH has been so wonderfully sweet, lifting anything for me, making me all my meals every day, telling me to put my feet up while he runs around, taking care of the house hold chores. He's going to make a great Dad.

I know there is a lot of speculation that there may be more than one in there but we won't know until the ultrasound. I've booked that for Wednesday July 29th in the late morning so I will find out then. Until then, I'm just trying to enjoy the fact that today, as of right now, I am pregnant.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Beta Day Thoughts

Our morning started out with a trip to our local clinic. This is the clinic where it all started for us 6 years ago and in comparison, let's just say that it is not the place that CCRM is. However, they have continued to agree to help us which has made cycling in the US doable.

The plebotamist doesn't have the best beside manner and can be extremely gruff and she kind of freaked me out a little yesterday morning. In Canada, they make you wait at least 2 weeks post transfer to do a pregnancy test. Many times, I would get my period first before getting the beta done. In response to her question about how many days it was post transfer, I told her eight days had passed since my day 5 transfer and she started to complain that this was way too early to test and that the test results wouldn't be conclusive. Ack - are you serious?! Then I told her that I had already been testing postive on multiple HPT for a few days and she told me that "it doesn't matter what the HPT say because you need a blood test to determine the beta conclusively and it's too early to test". OMG. I did start to wonder whether the number would be really low, like in the 20's, but then I decided to put my faith in CCRM and NOT that clinic and trust that if we were testing this early, it was okay. I think that a lot of times people you run into doing all this IVF stuff just don't realize what the impact of their words are on people.

I then proceeded to go to work and then clock watch until I got the call at noon. I have call display at work and when the phone rang, I knew immediately it was CCRM calling since the area code was 303 . I was nervous, my heart was beating rapidly and I was almost afraid to answer the phone. What if the number was really low? I was so relieved when my nurse told me that the number was good (140) and that this was really really good because we tested a day earlier than normal. They were only looking for it to be >50 so we passed that first hurdle.

I was surprised to hear that CCRM only looks for a 66% increase over a 48 hour period. I know everyone else talks about wanting to see it double and all my research has said that it should double but again, if CCRM thinks that a 66% increase is good, that's what we're going with. I needed a number to know what we were aiming for on Monday's test and it rounds to about 310:
  • Friday's beta of 140 x 1.66 = 232.4 <---what Sunday's beta should be at least

  • since we're testing on Monday, we have to take half of the 66% increase between Sunday and what would have been Tuesday's beta

  • 232.4 x 66% x 50% = 76.69 expected rise in beta from Sunday to Monday

  • So, Sunday's expected beta should be at least 232.4 + the expected rise in the beta to Monday of 76.69 = 309.09

My husband came over to my office for lunch (he works right across the road) so we sat outside in the warm sunshine and I told him the details from my call. We're keeping ourselves cautiously optimistic until Monday's beta and will celebrate when we get the news that it has increased at least 66% or higher.

We've been talking to the baby/babies every day, telling them to snuggle in and find a good place to hang out for the next 9 months. I find myself talking to them when I can and I don't know if it's more to reassure myself that I'm actually pregnant or to help me to believe that we are no longer the three of us (DH, Daisy our dog and I) but the four or maybe the five of us now. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed until Monday.


Jill M. - this part of the post is for you girl.

My hypnotherapy sessions were $150 each. I did two in total. The first one was on the phone entirely and we talked for an hour during which she collected a lot of background information, IF history, status of my relationship with my DH, childhood memories and really, anything that concerned me and my thoughts on the whole IF journey we've been on.

She then took that info away and made a personalized self-hypnosis recording for me that I have downloaded into my iPod and have listened to over and over again since then.

My second session with her was the week before transfer and I actually met her at her office in Westminster in Denver (about a 1/2 hour drive from CCRM). This time she did a hypnosis session live with me (vs. sending me a recording) and we spoke a lot about anything that was bothering me or that I was particularly concerned about at that time. This time she took about 2.5 hours with me and it was still only $150.

Lynsi was great and I would highly recommend her. I found her to be very insightful and she was able to draw connections for me that no one else has been able to do before. Those really were revelations for me, real epiphanies and if you ask me, so worth the $300 I spent with her.

The other thing that I like is that I never felt pressured to see her x number of did as many sessions as you needed to in order to deal with what it is that you were feeling. She recommends 2-6 sessions but at no point did I ever feel pressured to do more than I felt that I needed.

Would I recommend her? Definitely - yes. You can at least try her out and if you don't connect with her, than you don't have to continue but at least you will get a personalized hypnosis to download out of the first session that you can keep.

Good luck and let me know if you do get in touch with her. She'll probably remember me since she is also Canadian :).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Beta #1 at 8dp5dt


It's so surreal.

It's early to be testing too and we got a great first number! We are keeping ourselves cautiously happy because of what happened the last time...we got a great first number which then did not proceed to double and then we went right into beta hell.

However, this time, things are different. We transferred NORMALS so if it took, it took right? We're repeating the test on Monday since the local clinic doesn't run pregnancy tests over the weekend. CCRM wants to see it above 310 as they are only looking for a 66% increase in a 48 hour period so I made my nurse sit down and do the math with me and 310 is the magic number for Monday's test.

Dare I say it?


More later - I'm supposed to be lying down per DH's instructions but I just had to post a little update for y'all since you've been so supportive and wonderful and kept me going for such a long time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Evil. Pee. Sticks. Need I say more?

My friend A. reminded me how quickly your emotions can turn on the lightness or darkness of a pee stick line, hence the "evil pee sticks" title of this post. I started the day out optimistically thinking that first morning urine will have a high concentration of HCG so my ghost line should get darker right? Seems logical. [insert heavy sarcasm here] Now what about the journey so far would make me think that things happen LOGICALLY???

I proceeded to POAS and got this:

Snow white. After an agonizing 10 minutes (after which they say you're not supposed to read the results), a very faint second line showed up. Of course, you can imagine the freaking out that started. So I pulled out my very last, expensive Cl.ea.r.blu.e. test, took a deep breath and then followed the instructions exactly and got this:

It reassured me somewhat but then I started to wonder why the first test showed nothing? Same pee. Did that mean it wasn't doubling properly? I have been caught in non-doubling beta hell before and to say we're nervous and anxious is an understatement.

I left all my HPT at home, swore I would not test during the day and lasted all the way until I got home at 7pm and broke down and tested again. I've been trying to stay hydrated throughout the day and drank lots of water so I wasn't sure what I would get but there is definitely a second line now...faint but still there:

Pee sticks are evil. How am I ever going to last until Friday's beta?

I'm scared...this is where we got to last time, the high of a BFP and then the crashing desolation of a non-doubling beta. I keep reminding myself that we transferred two normals so our chances are so much better this time but still, there is that nagging fear.

I made an appointment with my family doctor tomorrow because I need a prescription for more meds to get me through the weekend but I don't know what to ask for. My nurse never e-mailed me back. Do I need 2 weeks of Estradot (Vivelle), Progesterone & Estrace? Four weeks? When do they start weaning you off if your b/w comes back okay?

How do you ladies stay sane???

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ghost Line?

Did you lean forward and squint? I sure did. I've been carrying around these tests for the last 2 hours so I can look at them in all different kinds of light - natural light, strong lamp light, bathroom get the picture!

I got home late last night and immediately POAS and that one was for sure a ghost line - only could see it faintly in strong light, tipped at a certain angle. I then proceeded to have a few POAS dreams. In my dream, the POAS was 3 lines not just two and when I went to read the results, a huge spot obliterated the lines so I couldn't tell. Ha!

I then got up this morning and did another one. I went back to the test strip seller's website to check to ensure that I had followed testing instructions properly and then proceeded to do a second test about 15 minutes after the first one just in case and I think, I think I see a faint second line. The top one is the one from last night. the two at the bottom are from this morning. What do you think????

Thank goodness I bought these tests in bulk - I have at least 30 more sticks to play with between now and Friday (beta day). It's still really early and today is just 5dp5dt (5 days post day 5 transfer) but a girl can hope can't she?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Transfer Day Details

I'm back but only for a quick 10 minutes as that is all my DH will allow me to sit at the computer for. Good thing I type pretty quickly!

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to stop by and wish us well. I really felt all of your good wishes and positive energy and took that with us into the transfer room. I am so very lucky to have such support and from so many of you who have been in the trenches for as long as we have been. July 2009 marks the 7 year anniversary of the start of our IF journey and I am so grateful for the many of you that I have met along the way. Your support has been invaluable and has meant so much to me.

Transfer day was awesome - both embies thawed with a 100% survival rate (i.e. no cellular damage to either) and both re-expanded fully. I asked the embryologist if they regraded the embies and she said that they didn't but the two things they look at post thaw are the % of cells that survived and the re-expansion so both looked pretty good to them. So I got my wish - two microarray normal embies to transfer! YAY!

We tried to take a photo of the little computer screen but we had some technical difficulties and combined with nerves, we didn't actually get a shot of them. I'll try to describe them as best I can. The 4CB embie was almost fully hatched. It kind of looked like the number "8" in that it had the original outline of the egg and then there was a round mass right on top of it that was attached. The other one, the 2/3 was starting to hatch and had a little bump on the one side where you could see that it was starting to come out of the shell. So another YAY! Two hatching blasts!!!!! We are thrilled beyond words. We got our wish to have two normals to transfer that were hatching. We are so grateful.

Bed rest was awful. I watched so much TV yesterday that I made myself sick. Now let me tell you all that I am prone to motion sickness and that I have given myself "TV head" before by watching too much television so this is not something unusual. I was also getting pretty restless so I was watching from strange positions - slightly propped up, on my left side, curled up on my right side, get the picture. Of course, it doesn't help that my antenna is tuned to high so I'm wondering "is this pregnancy nausea?". This happened twice the afternoon and again at night. I also crashed really early the day of the transfer at 8pm (probably the Valium?) and again the next night at 9pm.

I so wish I had brought some HPT with me so I could start testing but I thought that Monday when I arrived home would be the earliest I would test as that would be 4dp5dt (4 days post 5 day transfer). So I have to wait although I am bouyed by the fact that many of you have gotten positive results on day 4 or day 5. No twinges to speak of.

Right now I'm so very thankful for everything as it has gone so well thus far. Oops! There is the 10 minute timer and I have to sign off now. More when I get home.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day, The Most Annoying Pregnant Woman Ever and Pre-Transfer Jitters

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! We will be celebrating here in Denver and wishing you all back at home a restful day and some fun fireworks.

We arrived in Denver yesterday after a pretty uneventful flight except for the most annoying pregnant woman sitting one row in front of us. I'm going to vent for a second and by no means am I painting all pregnant women with the same brush (and I mean no offense to anyone who is pregnant) but MAN! This woman was a nightmare. Basically, she was exploiting her unborn child trying to get free upgrades and inconveniencing everyone around here. She first just sat in the seat she wanted, not her assigned seat and made the other person take her old seat which didn't have in-seat entertainment (Air Canada has little screens infront of every seat and you can choose your own movie or tv show to watch...none of that little screen 10 rows up playing only 1 choice of movie!). Every "issue" that came up during the flight had her proclaiming loudly that she needed something or the other because she was PREGNANT (shouted loudly with a wide look around and a wink wink and giggle giggle to all looking) oh and did we want to feel her belly??? OMG. I felt sorry for the flight attendants that had to deal with her. She also ended almost *every* sentence with "Are there any empty seats in executive class?". If you wanted the extra space and comfort of a larger seat, you should have paid for it!! Grrrrr....May I never be that annoying or take advantage of my children that way.

Transfer is tomorrow at 2pm in the afternoon. I am doing pre and post acupuncture at CCRM. I've been trying to stay positive but a little bit of me is scared that nothing will survive the thaw and we won't have anything hatching out of the shell. I've been watching all of you ladies who have had hatching blasts and you all seem to get BFPs...not sure if it's the CGH or the CGH + hatching blast that makes the difference but I hope and pray that our little 2/3 embryo makes it to that stage by tomorrow. I also hope that our 4CB survives the thaw and maybe improves a grade or two??? They're thawing both of them today so everyone cross your fingers!!!