3dp5dt: Holding Fast to Blissful Ignorance

This morning some fearful thoughts tried to sneak their way into my mind. I beat them back with a stick and sent them packing.

Up until that moment, I have enjoyed a very uncharacteristic confidence and sense of calm about this transfer. I never spend the two-week-wait (or the ART variation thereof) in a zen-like state of calm. I am never flooded with peaceful energy and thoughts of my life being pregnant for the coming 8-ish months. Never. Until now.

I feel rather chilled about the whole thing. Yesterday my acupunturist and TCMD asked if I felt optimistic. I could not say yes, not because I don’t have hope but because until I thought about how to answer that question I had been simply feeling comfortable. Comfortable and content. Comfortable that I have done everything possible for this cycle to be successful and odds are that I am pregnant. Content believing that even if it is a complete delusion.

I have discovered the experience of blissful ignorance. How completely fascinating.

I have never understood women saying they did not want to take a home pregnancy test before their beta because they wanted to savour the belief that they were “pregnant until proven otherwise” (an expression I feel quite loathsome toward, even now that I have clearly drank the kool-aid). I’ve always been a band-aid ripper-offer. I routinely and compulsively test early and test often. I have never not tested out my triggers, for example.

This time, I had no trigger. All of my low-dose hCG injections were complete well before transfer (Dr. Braverman prescribed them to help implantation, in lieu of Lupron since we did a protocol without that drug this time). I have no trigger to test out this time. I pulled out tests to stuff into the bathroom drawer last night on the basis that I would start testing Saturday because it is a special day for the LP and I. I knew that would be too early (4dp5dt) but I thought it could give me a baseline against which to measure any changes.

Today, I am reconsidering my decision. What if I feel completely anxious after testing and getting a negative, even though I know it will be negative? I will lose this moment of bliss. My zen-like, peaceful, “optimistic” state will be dashed and it is unlikely I will be able to recover or restore it. Or will it? Can I maintain my faith and find peace in all of this even if I start testing early?

As I think about it, I believe Sunday is the day to start testing. 5dp5dt or 10dpo is the earliest I have ever had a positive HPT before and often the second line is not really visible to anyone not suffering from line-eye until 6dp5dt or 11dpo. But that begs the question, doesn’t it? Should I test at all before my beta next Wednesday? Whether I should or not, I will. That much I know. I just don’t have it in me not to test early. I am who I am.

In the meantime, I am deeply committed to the blissful ignorance that is my unwavering faith that Azulito and maybe a companion are along for the ride and have chosen this cycle to make his/her/their way home at last. I love you, little babies. I know you are only embryos right now but I’m calling you babies anyway. Science be damned.

The last two mornings I have looked to my Animal Spirit Guide cards (I used the physical cards, not the online link or the app). I asked for a message from Spirit about our embryos, Gertrude and Alice. Each morning I drew the Unicorn:

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Immediately after drawing the Unicorn this morning, I realized I had to indulge in some creative play. I took out my intuition journal (because I couldn’t find my art journal) and some oil pastels, picked up the pastel that my hand first gravitated toward (green – coincidentally the same colour as I had my toenails painted for this cycle), closed my eyes and put pastel to paper. Next my hand went to blue – Azulito’s colour – and I closed my eyes again. I continued until it occurred to me that when I’ve been visualizing the mind-body connection to my uterus lately it has been taking the form of a lotus flower. I felt strongly that oranges and reds belonged in the flower out of which the blue and green presences seem to have floated. Here is what resulted:

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When I look at the finished product now, I see flames and our Gertrude and Alice rising out of the fiery lotus flower in phoenix-like resurrection. Gertrude (in green) looks a little rougher around the edges and Alice (in blue) a little more contained.

I do not know entirely what all of this means. But it feels right. And I like that.

I could get used to this blissful ignorance thing. It’s almost as good as Val.ium.

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Some Good News for a Change

Today brought some welcome good news.  We can ship our embryos from the West Coast to the East Coast without engaging in a lengthy process with the NY state health department.  The department very recently (within the last week) gave effect to a new policy that will not require us to obtain an exemption letter (the estimated time line on that was anywhere from two weeks to over three months).

The LP and I fastidiously signed and filled out many consent and waiver forms (you have to promise not to sue the people who tell you they could lose or destroy your babies-in-waiting if you want to use a shipping company to do this – and we need a shipping company to do this given that we do not live on either the West Coast or the East Coast) and I have handed over my credit card information.  Now I wait to find out when we can expect wee Gertrude and Alice (I decided not to go with Ernie and Bert even though those embryos resulted in a successful pregnancy; I felt like I was encroaching on her territory after she sweetly told me she’d named her embryos after the cute muppet pair) to make their way across the continent.

In the meantime… I have been trying to find a skilled endometriosis surgeon in my neck of the woods.  I am of the view that having the laparoscopy before any more IVF treatments would be prudent.  The LP is scared of me having surgery and would rather we try without it.  The first time he witnessed me having surgery (D&C number one in January 2011), the surgeon came and told him my blood pressure had dropped dangerously low and they had to give me fluids intravenously and therefore I would have to spend the night in the hospital (despite the earlier advice that I could leave shortly after leaving recovery).

The second time he waited for me to get out recovery after surgery (from D&C number two in September 2013), things were better because I told the doctor about my reaction to general anaesthetic.  But then my blood pressure was checked in the room they carted me into post-recovery and it was something along the lines of 80/50 and the nurse checking on me nearly lost it.  I explained that my “normal” blood pressure ranges between 87-95 over 60-65 so this was not a big deal.  She looked skeptical but when I proved that I could make my way to and from the little girl’s room and that I was not losing buckets of blood, she approved our departure.

In addition to the blood pressure, I puke when waking up from under general anaesthetic.  I should say I dry heave because of course you are never allowed to eat before these events if they are scheduled. The anti-nausea meds work for this little problem so it has never been a huge concern for me.  I am not worried about the idea of having surgery.  I am worried about wasting another embryo because I did not have the surgery and maybe that could have toned down my immune issues and made the difference.

Today I asked the Universe and God if the news about the removal of the exemption letter requirement was a sign that I should follow the LP’s preference and try the FET using Dr. Braverman’s immune protocol without doing the laparoscopy for endometriosis diagnosis/excision first.  I asked for a sign as I was walking to meet the LP to sign a number of consents related to the embryo transportation.  I found myself staring at a decorative plaque in the window of the nearby flower shop.

The sign read “IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SIGN THIS IS IT”.

Really, Universe?  Just like that? Is that my intuition clubbing me over the head or mere coincidence?

On a serious note, I’d love to hear what you would do in my shoes.  So… what would you do?

Panic and Dread

I spent portions of the past few days trying to educate myself about human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) and anti-HLA antibodies (of which I have one related to the DQ8 HLA).  I am being charitable when I say it has been painful.

This morning I woke up from a dream in which I was having a very grave and ultimately tearful meeting with a doctor who in my dream was Dr. Jeffrey Braverman notwithstanding the fact that although his voice was perfect, his physical appearance was much altered by my subconscious.  Funny the things our minds can accomplish when they set themselves to it.  I digress.

Panic and dread set in after waking from the moment in my dream when Dr. Braverman (albeit a less hairy, more straight-haired, leaner and clean-shaven version of himself) said that I would be wise to resign myself to the fact that October 21st was not going to bring me the outcome I wanted.  He said there was really no hope of me carrying another child, essentially, suggesting my immune system would not permit it.

By way of context, I understood in the dream that October 21st was my transfer date for one of our last two remaining frozen embryos.  Why October 21st?  Ask my subconscious.  I have no idea.

Suffice to say I was floored and gutted.  Or gutted on the floor.  Whichever, I woke up shaken and upset.  I still am (shaken and upset).  The worst part is that I do not know whether this is my intuition talking or a combination of way too much home research, disrupted sleep, generalized anxiety and an overall shortage of sleep lately (by lately I mean about the last 14 years of my life).

Panic and dread struck a second time this morning as I reviewed the contract for transporting frozen embryos from one side of the continent to the other, specifically into New York state with its strict health department rules.  Among the lines that leapt out at me was one that read “Additional testing and quarantine may be required if donor eggs were used in creating the embryos.”  What additional testing?  What exactly do they mean by quarantine?

Jiminy Crickets!  Can this be any more complicated, overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting? Don’t answer that unless you are prefacing it with an offer of barbiturates.  I need a serious tranquilizer at this point.

I have e-mailed Biogenetics with these questions and “What if the donor’s infectious disease testing was done more than 30 days before our embryos were frozen and the clinic can’t find her for me to pay (out of freaking pocket, I might add) for her to get the testing done again now?”  Or words to that effect.  Because that is another one of the requirements, of course.  Biogenetics’ informed me when I asked last week about timing that test results for infectious diseases (syphilis, the various alphabetical variations of hepatitis, HIV, HTLV and so on) must be dated after the embryos were frozen or not more than 30 days before they were frozen (we’re okay on this front for the LP and I except we may be missing one set of HIV-related tests, I’ve also asked for clarification on that front from Biogenetics).

I had to email the RE at our second clinic (with the embryos) to ask him to send me a copy of one of the LP’s test results because of course it was not included in the records I got in dribs and drabs after seven requests in July.  I wonder what else is not among the records I got by pulling teeth.

I burst into tears for  a moment, feeling completely overwrought this morning after sending all of those e-mails and recalling my dream.

I consoled myself (not really) by e-mailing Dr. Braverman to ask if there was any chance we’d be able to consult with him this week about our test results or if that would likely happen in early September.  So far I have had no response.  I think I will go throw up from anxiety now.

I sure hope you all are having a better Monday morning than I am!

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Today I made an unequivocal move.  I called and made an official, in-person appointment for me and the LP with Dr. Jeffrey Braverman in Long Island for the end of this month.  I booked us flights.  I tried not to gag at how much the initial consult ($900 USD) and the airfare ($1100 USD) will set me back.  The testing is estimated to cost between $900 and $2000 USD, depending on what Dr. Braverman orders.  All of this is out-of-pocket for us.  For me.  I’m paying for it myself.  The LP pays for other stuff.

I then wrote to our current RE to tell him we really like working with him and would prefer to stay with him for our next FET (frozen embryo transfer).  I asked if he would be prepared to coordinate my care with Dr. Braverman should I choose to pursue an immune treatment protocol he might recommend.

The short answer is no, but he was very respectful in his response, which includes the following:

    • “When results don’t match expectations, especially those accompanied by unusual physical elements that appear to be immune in origin, it’s time to think out of the box.”
    • “Our field has very few proven remedies for immune issues as they relate to implantation failure and biochemical losses.”

He went on to say that his own knowledge reflects the current understanding in keeping with the College of which he is a member.  Since many of the interventions offered by “the ‘immune specialists'” are “unproven and in some cases risky”, he prefers only to have a peripheral involvement insofar as he is ultimately responsible for his actions in my care.  He concluded by saying he’d be happy to help me facilitate care with Dr. Braverman if we elect to pursue that.

And that, as they say, is that.   I feel a little like I’ve been fired or given an ultimatum, though I really do get the sense that my RE wants to help and is simply doing what I expected him to do – protect himself first and foremost.  He’s right, he is ultimately responsible for his actions and having acted for docs before in their legal woes, I get that.  I really do.  It still smarts a little to be dumped.

Overall, I feel sad and scared because the stakes and the expense just got bigger.  However, in my gut (where it matters) I know I have done the right thing in seeking some answers.  I need to know why my womb keeps destroying our pregnancies.  Even if the answers lead me back to our current RE and a rejection of whatever Dr. Braverman might recommend (which may be nothing at all though that seems unlikely, it is a big business he runs and all and they all want to make money… and lots of it), I need to ask.  I need some kind of explanation or the ability to make sense of what has happened and what I can expect to have happen in the future if we try again.  Without that I do not know how I could feel comfortable making decisions and moving forward until it is time to quit (either because we succeed or because we don’t and I am at peace with this journey being at an end).

We did not come all this way to throw in the towel or waste the last chances we have.  I have to give this all I’ve got (and what I can reasonably borrow and hope to pay back in the foreseeable future).  It feels like this is the only way I can live with myself in all of this.  I need some peace of mind.  And in the world of recurrent pregnancy loss and immune system overlap, that seems to have a heavy price tag attached to it.  So be it.  I’m in it thigh-deep now, I may as well start wading.

As positive affirmations that something is going right, I have two happy notes on which to end this update.

First, I had a wonderful lunch date with my sister-in-law.  She said I look healthier and better than I have in a really long time and noted that she was really happy about this, because they’d been worried about me.  She’s been with us through the past 18 months and the 6 losses we’ve had in that time and she is the only non-medical person who knows we are using donor eggs.  It meant a lot to me to hear her say I seem calmer, more peaceful and I look healthier.  I needed that today.  More than I could have anticipated.  Thank you, SIL, you made my day.

Second, I won the “pay-day lottery” at my work today.  It was only $95 but hey, that will go toward the dinner to which I’m treating our out-of-town friends tomorrow night while the LP is away.  And it was like God’s way of saying “I’m sorry about the bad news but you’re on the right track here, kiddo.”  Or that’s how I’m looking at it.

 

DE IVF#1 is Officially Over (or will be soon)

I’ll just get to the point.  I don’t have the stomach for much else.  I just got the call with the results of my second beta hCG blood test.  I am 9 days past frozen embryo transfer of a perfect 5-day donor egg blastocyst.  My beta today was the same as it was two days ago (it was 14 on Tuesday, 15 today). 

Translation: a non-viable pregnancy.  A biochemical pregnancy. Lost baby #8.

I am to stop the progesterone supplementation and wait to see blood. 

We have a follow-up teleconference with our RE on Monday afternoon.

Please forgive me for not sticking around.  Sometimes a girl has to type and run.  A bottle or two of red wine is calling me and my freshly broken heart.

Not Again… Most Expensive Chemical Pregnancy To Date (Updated)

So the good news of two (now three) nights ago has turned into beta hell. Our clinic schedules first beta-hCG blood test post-FET at 7 days after a 5-day transfer.  I took a digital FRER a few hours before the blood test. Positive.

I spent the day relieved and looking forward to my nurse’s call with the beta result. She called late and started with “congratulations your test was positive.”  Then she said anything over 5 is positive and what we need to see now is the number going up.

Then I stupidly asked what the number was.

14.

That is really low. Chemical pregnancy low for 12 days past ovulation (the natural cycle equivalent of 7dp5dt).

My mouth went dry. My heart sank. I was stunned but managed to ask if that was anywhere near the range they are looking for at 7 days post-FET.  The nurse clearly struggled and after a long pause she tried to sound positive, but admitted it was low. Then she repeated “we always say anything over 5 is positive and we need to see the hormones increase so we will retest Thursday”.

I know betas have to start somewhere. I know it is early.  But I also know that betas this low almost never yield viable pregnancies.

And now I want to curl up and die. Right after giving the fertility gods a killer throat punch.

*** UPDATE as of May 28, 2014 (see below)

The FRER digital HPT is negative with first-morning urine (supposed to have the highest concentration of hCG) and the traditional FRER HPT has an almost invisible test-line.

That’s it.  I’m kicking God in the nuts personally.  I’ve had it with this.  My body is clearly killing babies.  Why when all my repeat pregnancy loss tests come back negative???

I’m e-mailing our new RE and head nurse today with the progression of darkening positives from the weekend through yesterday morning and now today’s and asking for a what-the-heck conference ASAP.  I want to kill anyone and everyone.  So much for Ms. Positive and the Law of Attraction.  The law of attraction can suck balls.  And they better be sterile, damn it.

In short: I truly am cursed.  Thanks for playing, folks.

Exuberantly (albeit cautiously) Optimistic

I am five days past our transfer of one beautiful 5-day blastocyst.  This morning I hoped I’d see two lines on the home pregnancy tests.  No luck.  My faith momentarily faltered but I tried to remind myself that it is still early.  After a busy afternoon spent with our Miracle Toddler, I decided to tempt fate one more time.  Here we go…

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(The test lines look darker and pink in real life.  You’ll have to take my word for it.)

I am awash with gratitude, fear and hope.  The tests this evening were very faint, but clearly positive.  My first beta-hCG (blood test) is the day after tomorrow (Tuesday, May 27th).  

Thank you, God. 

Thank you, Universe. 

Thank you, readers and fellow bloggers. 

And thank you, Me.  As the LP has said, I have worked so hard for this.  Of course, hard work hasn’t won many of us our battles with the fertility albatross we lug around each of our necks.  And of course this is not the end of the line.  A lot could go wrong before we cross the finish line.  But for today, everything is awesome.

Today, I am over the moon ecstatic.  And ever so exuberantly – albeit cautiously – optimistic.