Beta #3

Waiting for Beta #3, I was a nervous wreck. Google of the Day turned into Google of the Hour. Four days (Sunday to Thursday) crawled by in slow motion. On Wednesday night, I cried to Joe, “It will be so sad if we make it this far just to have it not work now.” He said something reassuring. I worried some more. Sound familiar? Yep, pre-Beta #2 was like this, too… except by Beta #3, you’re a little more invested, so the waiting’s a little worse. You’ve shared your news with a few more people. You’ve maybe bought some baby announcement stuff on Etsy. You’re feeling your symptoms. By Beta #3, you’re 5 weeks pregnant!

So I went in for the blood draw. Again, I worked from home, so antsy for the ACRM phone call. Finally, Megan, my nurse, called. The way she started speaking had my stomach in knots. “I’m calling to go over the results of your third beta…” Oh geez. But then – she said, “Everything’s looking great, you’re at 8……..” I must have passed out temporarily, because I didn’t hear the rest of it. I had to ask her to start again, and tell me my previous betas so that I could compare. So they were:

10/21: 599
10/23: 1561 (two days later, more than doubled)
10/27: 8673 (four days later, more than quadrupled)

PHEW. I was in the Beta clear. Megan scheduled my FIRST ULTRASOUND!! for the following week, Thursday, November 3, with Dr. Fogle. I would be 6 weeks exactly.

So, here we are… in the middle of another unbearable waiting period. So nervous, and so excited to see our baby! I’m sending ALL the positive thoughts to my uterus. I’m trusting my body and trusting God.

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Embryo Transfer Day!

I popped my Estrace, Xanax, and Advil, I grabbed my water bottle, and we headed to the doctor’s office. After the requisite bloodwork, Joe and I made our way to the OR. The nurse greeted us, walked us through the post-transfer do’s and don’ts, and asked us to change into our his-and-hers OR clothes. After waiting a few minutes, I was led into the back for a quick ultrasound to check if my bladder was full. (A full bladder pushes the uterus down for better visibility on ultrasound, and also helps the doctor insert the catheter more easily for embryo transfer.) Even though I had already guzzled about 60 ounces of water, my bladder was nowhere near full. So, back to the pre-op room for more water, and waiting. They tried again. Still not ready. I felt like a failure! I apologized profusely to the nurse, and she kindly said, “Don’t worry – bladders can be funny! We just need to wait a little longer.”

So we waited. Finally, around 11am, we were both led back to the OR to get the party started. I definitely had to pee by then. ūüôā

It all happened so fast, but here’s what I remember. I was in the same room for the egg retrieval.¬†Dr. Keenan, who was on deck for my transfer, had previously did my trial transfer (and several ultrasounds/at least one IUI), which reassured me a lot.¬†The nurse placed my legs in the maximum security straps, and the team started to get the equipment ready. Joe took a seat to my left, next to my head. Dr. Keenan called the embryologist over,¬†whose name is¬†Dr. Steven Johnson but introduced himself as Steve. Nicest guy ever. He gave us the embryo update:

Retrieved: 10
Fertilized: 8
Arrested: 2
Transferring today: 1
Still in development for potential freezing: 5

5! Wow!! I was ecstatic to hear that news. I felt so good, and so hopeful that our cycle had produced at least 6 embryos. Six pre-babies! I was happy.

Dr. Johnson¬†then showed us a photo of the embryo that they were transferring in that day. He said it was a perfect embryo… “textbook.” He went back to the adjoining lab and started to get the embryo prepared for transfer, while Dr. Keenan placed the speculum and catheter in position. After a few minutes, I heard Dr. Keenan say, “Steve, we’re ready,” and then the transfer process began. Joe put his hand on my shoulder. Though I couldn’t see much of the transfer on-screen,¬†I watched the doctors watch the screen intently to place the embryo in the exact right place in my uterus.

It’s hard to describe what I was thinking in these 5 minutes. It was stunning. It felt like the miracles of science and love, coming together. I listened to the classical music faintly playing. I sent good vibes to the little embryo making its way to its home. I prayed that this was our baby. Tears slid down the corners of my eyes at the weight of the moment.

All at once, it was complete. The next part was a blur. The nurse sat me up gently, and showed me an ultrasound capture of the embryo. It’s just a little flash of light that wasn’t there before. But it’s almost a baby.

 

 

IUIUIUI: Turkey Baster Time

IUI stands for intra-uterine insemination. I¬†had literally never heard of this word before my ob-gyn brought it up, somewhere in the Clomid months. I didn’t know there was a step (multiple steps) in between “can’t get pregnant” and IVF. But! I was glad to hear of this seemingly low-key treatment option. So we agreed to start with IUI¬†right away under the watchful eye of Dr. Fogle and the wonderful nurses at ACRM.

How IUI works: well, the specific protocol probably differs person to person, but at my clinic, here’s how it generally worked on each of my 3 cycles.

Cycle Day 1: On the first full flow day of my period, I was to call the office and let them know that it had started. They would then schedule my Day 3 ultrasound and bloodwork to start the treatment cycle.

Cycle Day 3: Ultrasound and bloodwork.¬†The vaginal ultrasound (via dildo-cam, as others have called it) is really not a big deal. It didn’t hurt me personally. The doc goes in and checks out the uterus and ovaries to make sure that everything looks good to start. Bloodwork checks estrogen and progesterone levels to make sure all levels also look good.

Cycle Day 5-9: Clomid, my old friend.

Cycle Day 11-ish: This is the mid-cycle check up, pre-trigger and ovulation. Same deal as Cycle Day 3, ultrasound and bloodwork. The doc checks to make sure that everything in the uterus and ovaries still looks good, and that the follicles are growing as desired. Depending on how the follicles are doing, the doc prescribes the medication to trigger ovulation.

Cycle Day 13: Trigger time! It’s an HCG shot given by a nurse in the office. Funny – I remember thinking, there’s no way they expect ME to mix this up myself?! I clearly did not know the IVF drill yet.

Cycle Day 14: IUI day! Joe’s appointment to produce a ~*sample*~ happens early in the morning. The lab¬†washes the semen, distills the most qualified sperm, and then¬†gets it ready for the short catheter trip directly into my uterus. Then I’d come in and the doc would insert¬†the swimmers up the chute, hoping that more sperm in the uterus = a better¬†chance of fertilization. I’d lay still on the bed for 5 minutes, then I would be able to continue my day as usual.

SEE? JUST LIKE SEX!

No. But hey, SCIENCE! What a time to be alive.