Monday, May 30, 2011

how it happened

the first time i saw the line, i thought i was seeing things. i was 8 days past a 3 day transfer. i tried again that evening, at my mom and dad's house. i didn't tell anyone i was about to test again. i just came out onto the patio and showed them.

we started panicking about twins. two embryos. omg. see, when i last updated about the cycle, we had like 4 follicles. we got 3 eggs, and 2 grew into nice 8-celled embryos by day 3. this was *the only* scenario in which we ever would have transferred two embryos. and so we did.

i had my blood test a few days later. i talked them into doing it 9 days after the transfer instead of 13 because of the weekend. my beta was 40. then it was 265 on 13 days after the transfer. a lovely doubling time of 35 hours.

then a long time of just waiting and feeling dizzy.

then the night i was 5 weeks, i started getting nervous. this was when i started spotting last time, and the next day was my miscarriage. so when i woke up in the morning, 5w1d pregnant, i was snuggling S in bed, and then i got up. i was wearing no underwear, just pajama pants, and i felt like i needed to go wipe a bunch of progesterone suppository loveliness off. but as i lowered my pants i saw blood.

it was a lot of blood. not like, oh shit i'm hemmoraghing, but definitely like "i am not pregnant any more." i collapsed on the bathroom floor. i touched myself and brought back fingers covered in brown blood. i sobbed. ML came and got poor, traumatized S. my mom came. we cried. we called the doctor. i couldn't believe it. what was wrong with my body?

it was a sunday, so we had to bring the on call doctor in. he was my favorite doctor. i was glad it was him. we went in and i prepared to see the worst. instead it was... ok. there was a bleed next to the gestational sac, but the sac (just one) looked fine. i took it easy. the bleeding tapered off.

a few days later, at 5w4d, we went for our scheduled ultrasound. still looking good. couldn't see a heartbeat yet, but that was normal. then 6w4d, another ultrasound. still good, and a wee little heartbeat. 7w4d, still good, heart beating away. we were finally taken off pelvic rest, and celebrated that (gently). we were relaxing. we were going to have a christmas or new year baby.

the dog got out. it was my fault. it was late at night. i ran barefoot around the neighborhood, and then i biked. it was an hour and a half of exercise in the middle of the night.

the next day was the day before my ultrasound. at first i thought it was just the normal progesterone suppository discharge. it's yellowish. it's pretty yucky. but it was just a little browner than normal, that afternoon. a little later, it was more definitely something. i figured the bike riding had irritated my cervix or something. that night, i showed ML the spotting. but i still wasn't really worried.

the next day, ML had to work and couldn't come to my appointment. because of the spotting, i asked my mom to come with me to the appointment. she drove me there, and did reiki on my uterus. i was nervous, but not really. the doc was the same one, my favorite guy. he reminds me of a friend of ours.

i said, "i've been spotting a bit, but not much, and it's brown, which is the only reason i'm not hyperventilating right now." "you're 8 weeks 3 days, right?" "yes." (they count me as a day earlier than i count me. i considered myself 8w4d because that's what the calculator said. but that's fine.)

i get up in the stirrups. the nurse put a dvd in to record the ultrasound, like they always do, but didn't start it (that would be unlucky, to start it before they see the heartbeat.) the image shows up on the screen, and immediately i know. there's the sac, the sac looked normal. but inside the sac, it looked all... exploded. not all together and neat. and the past 2 ultrasounds, i could see the heartbeat right away. "there it is," i'd say. this time i told my mom, "i don't see it." "you don't see what?" "the heartbeat. i don't see it." i started hyperventilating. the doctor didn't say anything yet. he said he needed to get a better view. zoom in, zoom in, recenter, zoom in. meanwhile my world is crumbling.

then he finally said the words. "i don't see a heartbeat."

it looks like it grew to 7w3d. so right after the ultrasound the week before. i am crushed. this isn't fair.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Works for me: babywearing

This post is for a link-up for A Ruby in the Sunrise

I have worn S in so many places, doing so many things. I'm not one of those people who gets all into the stylish carriers and different fabrics and whatever, but I have had several different types of carriers, all inexpensive.

The first carrier I ever tried was a hand-me-down Peanut Shell from my cousin. My cousin is about 8 inches taller than me, so it was probably the wrong size. I took S for a walk when she was a few days old in it, and it felt awkward and not safe. I tried it a few times after that but was never satisfied. I never used a pouch again.

wrong and bad

After that, I tried a wrap. I got this one - I think it's a Hug a Bub or something like that - off of a trade site. It was essentially free; I only had to pay for shipping. I loved this. When we do have another baby I want a gauze and/or linen wrap, gauze for hot weather and linen maybe for back wrapping a little baby. I was never really able to get S on my back in this wrap - I think it's just a bit too stretchy. I didn't get too fancy with wrap methods. S would come to work with me, or on sight-seeing trips, or to our church, or on walks. And when she was itty bitty, it was often the only way I could get her to sleep.

this is a happy baby

going for a walk

hanging out, staring at me

again, happiest baby in the world

When she was getting a bit heavier, around 6 months, I got an unpadded ring sling from an Etsy seller. It was quick and easy, though not quite as versatile as the wrap. But this became our go-to for several months. It leaves one hand quite free and the other one not so free. I don't think the padded rails in other types of ring slings are really necessary, but then again I've never tried one on.

on public transportation

looking at butterflies

so comfy

sleeping in the sling while mommy eats

By the time S was 9 or 10 months, we needed a better back carry solution. So we got a mei tai - again, one of the least expensive ones on etsy, made by a work-at-home mom. This has been our main carrier ever since. It doesn't have fancy features like a pocket or a sleeping hood, but it is very easy to get her in and out of, whether front or back. Even though S is usually walking these days instead of being carried, and is happy enough in an umbrella stroller for longer trips like the zoo, we still use it occasionally.

nursing in the mei tai while being an activist

on the beach

at the zoo

being an activist is tiring

We do own one other carrier - a snugli that ML insisted on registering for before S was born. It's been used 3 or 4 times, maybe. It's just too complicated.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Well, the last post's "tomorrow" didn't go so well. Half and half, really. The sperm made it, but the ultrasound revealed a measly 2 follicles on one side and 4 on the other. I've had another ultrasound yesterday. More bad news. 4 follicles total, all around 8-9 mm. This isn't good, I'm only 29 and maxed out on the follistim. We expected more.

So the follistim isn't stimming my folls enough. The doc suggested having a blood test to check ovarian reserve; it may be that I have endometriosis without symptoms.

We're going to continue the cycle. At most 4 eggs can be retrieved. There's usually attrition at each step along the way, so maybe 3 will be mature, 2 will fertilize, and 1 will keep developing enough to transfer. If we're lucky.

We really don't want to increase the risk of a twin pregnancy. So I'm not sure what will happen if we're incredibly lucky and have 2 embryos. 3, we could freeze the other 2 and have a good shot at a FET. But that's extremely unlikely. Freezing 1... I'm not sure that's really done. It's too likely that the one embryo just wouldn't survive thawing... And we obviously don't have a good track record with that, although it was ML's embryos that time. 7 out of 9. Yikes.

But let's face it, we're probably not going to be lucky.

When/if this cycle doesn't work, we are done with IVF. We have no more funds and we do have the option of picking a new donor, so we can do cheaper IUIs.

I really wanted the kids to have the same donor. And once we made the decision to use my eggs, the idea grew on us that it was good they'd actually be full siblings.

But really it's not a huge deal, is it? It's ok. It'll be ok. The important words in the first sentence of that last paragraph are "I really wanted the kids..." full stop.

Monday, March 28, 2011

try, try again

well, the last time we saw our heroes, we were starting a new frozen embryo transfer. we had 5 embryos left on ice.

4 of them did not survive thawing.

1 did, and was transferred, but it didn't take. i imagine that it likely stopped developing shortly after transfer. i'm not sure why i think this. i just do.

that left us with... 0. zero. none. no embryos left.

so back to the drawing board. what to do? we have very little left of our donor's donations to work with. unless we want to pick a new donor (we do not want to pick a new donor) our only real option is ivf. but whose eggs? last time, it was ML's. but that did not go so well. i am 3 years younger and with a proven egg, know what i mean? S is proof my eggs work. but poor ML. she got really attached to the idea that she could have a little bio baby. but we worked it out, we talked it out. there were many issues to consider. we decided.


i am on day 4 of stim right now. tomorrow i go to find out what my follicular area is up to. hoping we see good things.

oh hey guess what we are having another logistical clusterf*ck

i don't EVEN want to talk about it

it's about the sperm going from Northern Clinic to Southern Clinic but it can't just go from there to here, it has to go somewhere else first.

whatever. i think it's worked out. tomorrow. i'll find out tomorrow. tomorrow is kind of a big deal.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Update, In which there is an Embryo Clusterf*ck

Soooo. Hi, yes, it has been an entire year, let's just forget about that, shall we?

When we last saw our heroes, I was quitting my job and moving down to suburbanville to rejoin ML after 3 months apart. S was nearly 14 months old and still nursing like a newborn. We knew we wanted another (another 2, actually) and before we left the Big City, we did a cycle of IVF with ML's eggs at our clinic that we loved so much - not knowing what we would encounter down south. We froze the resulting 9 embryos, feeling exultant and fairly certain that we could get 2 more kids out of those 9 embryos.

Fast forward to June-ish. We start getting serious about #2. I start nudging S towards weaning, since we don't want my fertility to be decreased at all before we do a frozen embryo transfer. There's also the question of my baseline breast MRI - I found out I carry a BRCA2 gene mutation (the "breast cancer gene") when S was 8 months old. Lactation and pregnancy do not lend themselves to good radiology, and the docs wanted a good, clear MRI image to compare future images against. Otherwise, without those two factors, I would have happily nursed her until she stopped on her own.

So S was weaned by July, faster than I expected, after 19 months (and a half!) of happy nursing. In August I had the MRI. And in September, we went to our first appointment with our new clinic. Only one of the two big clinics in town take embryos from other clinics, and the billboards for the really big one creeped me out, so that decision was easy.

So apparently this whole thing with moving the frozen embryos from one clinic to another doesn't happen that often. I kind of expected a, you know, a system. A procedure. A standard practice of mutual cooperation between clinics when patients move from one city to another and leave frozen embryos behind.

No, no. There was paperwork, of course, I expected paperwork, but I did not expect to have to coordinate the logistics myself. I'm talking, many many calls to Northern Clinic - eventually figuring out that if I asked for "IVF lab" instead of "embryology", I would not be accidentally transferred to andrology. Northern Clinic asked whose tank we would use. I had no idea... Southern Clinic's? But no, turns out Southern Clinic has no such tank. Northern Clinic can rent us one, or there's a company that does it! Well geez guys, I have NO IDEA so how about you just TAKE CARE OF IT and charge me whatever it costs?

Oh no. I have to find out the tank dimensions from this person, go to FedEx and get shipping labels and fill them out with the addresses and my billing info and mail them to that person at Northern Clinic and then they can give my info to ANOTHER person at Northern Clinic to charge me for the tank rental, which is separate from the shipping charge of course.

Meanwhile, I'm shooting up with Lup.ron and the transfer date is rapidly approaching, despite beginning this process a good 2 months before the date.

There is more drama when they call to tell me they don't actually have a tank prepared to ship it right away so it will be there in time or something, but I finally just start crying on the phone while getting my hair cut (good thing it's a family friend who cuts my hair). They sort it out and the embryos arrive mere moments before the transfer (ok, a day or two.)

Throughout all of this, all of the paperwork, all of these phone calls, all of these emails, I am continually making reference to the fact that we are only shipping 4 out of our 9 total embryos. Not because I enjoyed this process so much that I wanted to repeat it, but just as some insurance in case something went wrong. If the tank malfunctioned or the shipment was lost or the FedEx truck drove off a cliff, not all would be lost. I laugh with my main contact at Northern Clinic about how paranoid I am and explain that my mother once lost a UPS shipment because of a truck fire.

You can see where this is going, of course.

So anyway, we proceed with the transfer. A surprising 3 embryos are thawed and do not survive :( The fourth embryo survives and is transferred, while we shake our heads and mutter about close calls.

A week later we were celebrating - two lines! Due July 28th. S would be a big sister...

Unfortunately, I started spotting on Thanksgiving day. On S's 2nd birthday, the next day, I had an encouraging ultrasound (5 weeks 1 day, too early to see a heartbeat, but we saw a nice clear sac & a little smudge of an embryo.) Later that day, however, there was no longer any question what was happening. I miscarried and it was horrible. It was the most heartbreaking and painful experience I've had.

After the smoke cleared and my bloodwork came back negative for pregnancy hormones, we started all over. I dreaded dealing with the shipping situation again. We went ahead and sent in the paperwork again before the holidays, and after the new year, I sent an email to my buddy at Northern Clinic asking about the next step.

A few days passed.

I was about to have to call (have I mentioned how much I hate talking on the phone?)

I was eating lunch a couple of days ago when my phone rang with Northern Clinic on the ID. It was Dr. Big Muckity Muck, head of the Everything Department. One guess what he had to say.

"Um, well, we're very sorry, but we've been in contact with the lab at Southern Clinic, and, well, weactuallysentall9inthefirstshipment."

I was gracious. All's well that ends well, right? Yeah, it was a big deal and neither clinic noticed despite the NUMEROUS times we made reference to our split shipment. But in the end, it saved me a headache and several hundred dollars. "Just put some checks in place so it doesn't happen again."


(I immediately called Southern Clinic and made them promise me that they for sure, definitely, no question, had 5 more embryos in storage for us.)