Busy Azulito

Azulito, the little embryo that could, has been growing like mad recently. More on that in a moment.

On Monday this week I had blood drawn (9 vials!) at Dr. Braverman’s Long Island office for my second immune panel analysis. Reprosource will get my blood on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. In about two weeks I should get a full report and analysis about these results as compared to my initial results in July and my results at 4 weeks into this pregnancy (really 2 weeks because those first two weeks were the FET lead-up to transfer).

I am hoping that everything continues to remain stable and in particular that my angry cytokines (particularly but not only my Natural Killer cell activity) continue to accept the rainbow of medications and play nicely with others. I also hope there is no hint of an adaptive response by my immune system, meaning I do not want it trying to do an end-run around the cocktail of medications and attacking poor Azulito as has happened so many times before in my unmedicated pregnancies.

A visit to Dr. Braverman’s office is not complete absent a date with the dildo-cam. Monday’s ultrasound showed a wiggly Azulito measuring 24.4 mm or 9 weeks 1 day. That’s four days ahead based on my transfer date. Baby’s little heart sounded amazing – and amazingly fast – as it galloped along at 182 bpm. The blood flow within my uterus is showing “10 out of 10” according to Dr. Braverman, which is important for placenta formation and a very good sign.

In other news, I have been wondering whether Azulito might be an Azulita. The LP does not want to find out baby’s sex before birth. He is pretty steadfast about this but said I can find out and not tell him. How would that work? Not at all in my case. I have a friend who did this as her husband wanted the surprise as well. But she has a better poker face than I do. And a less slippery tongue I bet. I would never make it through two more trimesters keeping that intimate information under my belt.

So where does that leave me? Disregarding the LP’s wishes – even if by inadvertence – or disregarding my own wish to know this baby’s gender. I have had to ask myself why I want to know.

At first it was because I was so flooded with fear and anxiety and I wanted to know as much as I could do I might better be able to bond with this baby. But I was madly in love with the Miracle Toddler long before he arrived on scene and announced he was not a girl as almost everyone predicted but a wonderful little boy. Clearly I can bond with gender being a mystery. Or an unconfirmed hunch.

There are practical reasons of course. In fact practicality is what has prompted me to muse over this. We are considering doing the MaterniT21-PLUS non-invasive prenatal testing and unless you forbid it the lab reports the baby’s sex with the chromosomal results.

As for other practical matters, in support of finding out is whether we will get to reuse all of the boy things from the Miracle Toddler? Or can I accept others’ eagerness to buy girly things for the new bean? If I am being honest, I am not really fussed about that personally. I know others will have strong views to the contrary but this is our hard-won baby and I don’t feel the need to please others in our decision-making about the pregnancy. Not that I am inclined to that sort of thing anyway.

I don’t have any other really good reasons beyond curiosity. Am I missing something? Do any of you have strong feelings about why you would want to or have either found out or waited for the ultimate surprise?

6w6d: The Anxiety Ratchets Up

A very warm thank you to everyone who has been following our journey (whether you comment or not) and who has shared such kind words and wishes along the way and especially after our first ultrasound in this pregnancy late last week.

I am 6 weeks and 6 days into this pregnancy and my next ultrasound is at a local radiography lab where I live, not with Dr. Braverman. It is scheduled for Friday afternoon, November 14, 2014 and the LP will be in tow. I was doing pretty good with my old albatross, anxiety/fear, until the last 12 hours when I suddenly began contemplating how few pregnancy symptoms I have and how mild they are compared to past pregnancies (particularly the one successful one in 2011-12). I am trying to tell myself that all of the medication I am on and especially the steroid (prednisone) likely account for this pregnancy feeling very different than the past nine.

In other news, I had a mostly helpful appointment with my general practitioner on Monday. She is also my prenatal care doctor and – God and Universe willing – will be until much of the way through the second trimester (unless I choose otherwise, which at this point I have not done because it’s way easier to see my GP and the wait for my appointments with her is minimal whereas the wait to see my OB even with an appointment can be upwards of two hours and never less than a half hour). She agreed to requisition weekly ultrasounds although she warned me that our public health care provider may refuse to pay for all of them. I said we would cross that bridge if we have to. Paying out of pocket will likely still cost me less than flying back and forth to New York City and I would like to think I could advocate for myself not to have to pay at all given my medical history, diagnoses from Dr. Braverman, inability to get in to see an immunologist or a geneticist here at all or in any timely manner and my age (which is, shall we say, advanced in the baby-making world).

Dr. Braverman has told me that I will have immune blood tests repeated at 8-ish and 13-ish weeks. With flight, work and lab schedules that means two more trips to New York, one on November 24th (8w4d) and one on December 22nd (12w4d). I will not be 13 weeks until December 25 and have friends staying with us from out of town December 26 – January 1, making the scheduling of the 13-ish week lab work a little tricky. I have kept my Dec. 7-8 flights for now in case the ultrasounds here are of such abysmal quality that Dr. Braverman wants me back for at least one more before the end of the first trimester.

Dr. Braverman says that more recently his team has been testing after the natural drop in hCG levels that occurs by 12 weeks because hCG has a natural immuno suppressive operation and he likes to see if there are any levels flaring up with the hCG drop. If not, I’m assuming we can then stop or taper most of the immune meds (except the Lovenox) around week 14-15 as it takes two weeks to get the full report from these lab tests. I have not confirmed that assumption but plan to speak with him about it when I see him next on November 24th assuming Azulito keeps on chugging in the meantime.

In other news, I have found myself feeling Azulito’s presence but struggling to connect in any in-depth way. I caught a cold on last week’s travel to New York (of course) and I’ve been not feeling quite myself. I do not know if that is why but it’s adding to my anxiety about whether everything is still chugging along as it should be. If you’re in the habit of asking powers greater than ourselves for support or if you simply believe in hope, I’d be very grateful if you might send out a “yo, please let this work” request when you have a moment. The nerves they are a-jangling!

Until next time… thank you again. For everything.

Ultrasound #1 at 6 weeks 1 day

Yesterday I took yet another red-eye trip from Western Canada to New York City. I rented a car and drove to Woodbury, Long Island and met a friend and fellow Braverman patient for lunch. Lunch, my friend and her husband were delightful.

Then I drove to the bank to get cash to pay for my Intralipid infusion and went into Dr. Braverman’s office. By this point I had slept about 2.75 hours on a plane. I was beyond exhausted and my throat was hurting in the kind of way that left little doubt that I will be sick before long. In this fragile state I had decided not to ask for my ultrasound to be done a day early.

My nurse had other plans when she found out the LP could not come to the Saturday ultrasound today. Before I knew it she shuttled me into an exam room and said Dr. Braverman would be right in to do my ultrasound before the Intralipid infusion. I had no time to think or do much beyond strip from the waist down and fervently plead with powers greater than me for some good news.

Please let this time be different.

I was trembling something awful. Tears were leaking out of the corner of each of my eyes. I shook so much – despite every effort to lie still – that Dr. Braverman asked if he had hurt me and if I was okay apart from the obvious anxiety. He told me not to panic if he did not speak right away as he looked around. I cannot tell you how grateful I was for that caveat because it allowed me a moment to inhale and accept that it would be a few minutes before I has any conclusive news.

That is not what happened.

I looked over my right shoulder at the sonogram screen and the first thing I saw was a clearly visible gestational sac with a clearly visible yolk sac inside it. As I registered my first thought – there is only one – and felt a piercing sadness register in my heart, I saw that magical Rocky Mountain graphing line spread across the screen.

“There is the heartbeat. That is what you told me you wanted to see today, right?”

I think it took me several seconds to digest this. Then came tears and my brilliant and incredulous response: “That is BABY’S heartbeat?”

Next we got to hear it. That beautiful, melodic chuh-chuh chuh-chuh sound. I wiped away tears so I could see the screen. 122 beats per minute. At 6 weeks 1 day. Dr. Braverman said we were looking for 90-110 in the first part of 6 weeks so 122 was fantastic. On top of that, Azulito measured a day ahead – 5.4 mm or 6w2d.

In the other good news department, my uterine blood flow was perfect and my blood tests from 2 weeks ago indicate, in Dr. Braverman’s words, “a textbook perfect response” to the cocktail of immune medications I have been taking. Although he acknowledged that I have a long way to go and it is very early yet, all of my results read as a whole together with this first ultrasound are reassuring. He was very pleased.

He asked if I wanted to redo this performance and video tape it for the LP. Of course I did! After a moment of awkwardness while we navigated removing the dildo cam, me trying to discreetly cover my behind with the paper sheet as I leapt off the examining table, grabbed my phone, leapt back up and tried not to go through my knees (which had turned to rubber at some point in this process), the video recording was underway. Chuh-chuh chuh-chuh chuh-chuh is immortalized in video. Amen.

Azulito has become a film star before his or her second month birthday.

I have never in my life hugged a doctor or felt any inclination to do so. When we ended this visit, however, I told Dr. Braverman I was going to hug him instead when he extended his hand and said “congratulations”. To his credit he did not give me one of those awkward stranger hugs replete with uncomfortable pats on the back. It was a big, warm hug and he even rubbed my back when a sob involuntarily (but thankfully quietly) escaped. I suddenly felt very self conscious and promptly made it all business again (serves me right for hugging my doctor, that’s so unlike me!) and said thank you for getting us this far.

And so it is. Azulito lives. I hope this remains true for a very long time.

Thank you all for believing, hoping, supporting and awaiting anxiously alongside me. I am so very grateful.

Betas #3 and #4 at 11dp5dt and 13dp5dt

* pregnancy mentioned *

How’s that for a sexy title for a blog post? For a woman who hates acronyms I have taken to using some cryptic form of them as titles. Call me tired.

I know how anxiously I await news from those of you I care about deeply so even though I’m incredibly exhausted and really aching to go home, I am writing this post in gratitude to all of you who have egged me on (pun intended), believed when my hope flagged and shared such incredible love, kindness and support with me.

Below are my results on Saturday (11dp5dt) and Today (13dp5dt), both of which I only got this afternoon (it was a long weekend, let me tell you).

Saturday
Beta hCG: 405 U/L
Progesterone: 190 nmol/L
TSH: 0.83 mU/L (I’m crediting the Intralipid IV last Thursday with bringing this back down from the jump it did right after transfer)

Monday
Beta hCG: 976 U/L
Progesterone: 214.7 nmol/L
TSH: 0.93 mU/L

I will call tomorrow to book a first ultrasound at the end of next week around the same time I go back to NY for my next Intralipid IV. I have found out it’s likely impossible for me to get Intralipids back home. And it’s the only drug my insurance is also not going to cover (because outside of a couple of fertility clinics far from my home it’s only ever administered in hospital in Canada and only to patients who are unable to consume solids). I am not even complaining about this. Small price if this pans out.

I am hoping and praying this pans out. Thank you all for *everything.*

Beta #2 at 8dp5dt (13 dpo)

I have been waiting with baited breath all day to get my report on this beta. I had to gamble and order refills of all of my meds except Neupogen (because I ordered lots of it the first time not realizing it was more than a 5-week supply) today without knowing if my betas have doubled otherwise I would have to delay my flight home on Friday.

My hands have been shaking much of the day and I have felt jittery and anxious. I have been waking up at night and unable to fall asleep, which is common for me when pregnant and on prednisone.

The email finally came this afternoon with beta #2. Progesterone results were still pending. Beta was 128. A doubling time of 45.9 hours from 62 on Monday. I immediately felt my heart leap into my throat and I have fought back the urge to vomit ever since.

My only measure of success in my various pregnancies to date (this being #10) is the one success story. My betas were really high and doubled very fast. So when this one did not measure up, I wanted to curl up and die or at least burst into tears and sob all over my desk at work.

I have not done that. I am going to go for a walk and try to calm down and pray that pregnancy #10 will be success story #2 somehow.

My next beta is Monday, October 27, 2014. In the meantime, I’m back in New York tomorrow and returning home Friday.

I’m sleep deprived and overwhelmed by fear. I hate this. I hate my anxiety and inability to tame it. I really, really do. I wish I could enter a coma for the next 8 weeks and awaken to news that the first trimester was over and everything looked great.

I will update Monday after the beta if I can’t find positive things to say before then.

Let the Nail Biting Begin

I am officially pregnant. So said Dr. Braverman late yesterday in an e-mail that came after one from my IV nurse at his office saying she was sorry but the lab here back home would not release results from my blood tests yesterday (beta-hCG, progesterone, TSH because of my history of sharp spikes in early pregnancy) to Dr. Braverman’s office.

Dr. Braverman’s e-mail was a welcome surprise. Here’s the skinny from a very early lab visit on 6 days past 5-day transfer (6dp5dt):

hCG: 62
Progesterone: 242
TSH: 1.72

The TSH is up from 1.10 but Dr. B is happy about all of these results. The LP and I are too. I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop but I’ve bit the bullet and booked flights to NY to get the immune testing done (I will be having Dr. Braverman monitor this pregnancy – what’s another $3,000 plus lab costs of likely $1000 – $1500 once or twice more at this point?). I need to get my next Intralipid IV done on Friday and I’m hoping the blood draws can all be done Thursday.

Early tomorrow morning (I was at the lab for 6:00 a.m. yesterday and will be again tomorrow) I will go for beta #2. I am anxious but working hard to restore the calm confidence I had after Gertrude and Alice were transferred from catheter to womb last week Tuesday. Fingers crossed, prayers on overdrive, acupuncture today (thank you, T!) and the hypnotherapy recording and Circle & Bloom meditations are all on the go.

This morning I wanted to let the spirits of both embryos know that even though I know it’s likely only one has made it or will survive, I love them both very much. I also wanted to honour their voices in all of this. And so I asked for some inspiration to do their bidding with more pastels. Here is what they brought me:

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I am so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support you have all shown me in this past week. I sure hope my immune system does not let me and all of you down in the coming days and week – you’ve all shown such tremendous faith and hope. Thank you so much.

5dp5dt: Genuine, if Surreal, Gratitude

I feel sick. I am exhausted. I have never felt more grateful to be both wiped out and ill-feeling.

Yes, I peed on things. Heaps of things. Yesterday and today. I said it first: I’m incorrigible. I knew this would happen. So far, there are some pink lines on my horizon. They appear as lines might if I were not wearing corrective lenses, was suffering from serious sleep deprivation and intensely hungover. In short, they’re faint and blurry but definitely there. On four different brands of pee things.

I am debating whether to use a standing requisition for beta-hCG I got from my family doctor in relation to one of the 6 failed pregnancies I’ve had since the start of 2013. They’re good for one year and I’m pretty sure it’s still valid but I will have to check. If it is, I am tempted to sneak in a beta today or tomorrow so I can have some confidence booking a flight for Friday, when I’ll need my next round of Intralipid and to see Dr. Braverman in order to get a new prescription for my meds and the immune testing through Reprosource to determine if the current dosing is where it should be.

I have not told Dr. Braverman yet but I probably will in an e-mail at some point. Why not? It’s not like I haven’t been high maintenance to this point. Why stop now?

My plan had been to ask Dr. Braverman if there is any benefit in trying to get the labs done sooner rather than later (i.e, Monday or Tuesday as opposed to Friday). I think it will take at least 24 hours for any blood drawn here in western Canada to get to the East Coast where Reprosource is so maybe a few days does not matter. Maybe I do not need to e-mail him. I don’t need to make that decision now as I ruminate on feeling grateful for feeling like crap.

I am not as excited as I would love to be about these crazy-early positive home pregnancy tests. I’ve been down this road 9 times before with very unhappy endings in 8 of those 9 cases. This is pregnancy number 10. I’ve hit double digits. I hope I do not need to go any further. Yet I know this could all end in a matter of days or weeks. Only time will tell.

Suddenly time is ticking by at an impossibly slow pace. Its pace is measured by the intervals between when I pee on things. What a surreal life I have created for myself. What strange things for which to be grateful. Can you hear me now? A sampling for your reading pleasure:

“I get to pee on something in 1.5 hours.”

“I feel like barf. Exhausted barf. Not at the time in the barf department. All the time in the tired department.”

“Thank you God and Universe for your countless blessings.”

I have not booked a flight to New York yet. I don’t know when I will but I hope I can find enough proof that this is progressing to do so soon. Those things get more expensive every hour I wait it seems. But cancelling them is even more expensive. Thus I wait.

This is me at 5 days past my 5-day (and 6-day) transfer. I am scared out of my tree. Yet I cling fast to hope and faith in the messages I have received from Spirit and in my gut feeling that this is meant to have a happy ending somehow, someday. At the moment, it all feels intensely surreal and hard to believe (or maybe hard to trust). For that reason, I am doing all I can to recall the calm, zen-like state I was enjoying before all of this peeing, fatigue and nausea began. Deep breaths and one foot in front of the other.

To you, my friends and fellow bloggers, I extend my deepest thanks for your support and warmth in the days past and those to come. For you – like the nausea and the exhaustion – I am truly grateful.

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.

The Final Countdown – FET minus 4 hours and counting

Today at approximately 1:30 p.m. EST I will – hopefully, prayerfully – have our last two donor-egg embryos transferred into my well-primed uterus.  I am nervous, excited and a little scared.

My intentions are set and I have felt more grounded since doing so.  On the whole, I feel optimistic and hopeful lately.  Things feel as right as they can given my loss history and immune and HLA diagnoses.

Yesterday I had my last pre-transfer meeting and ultrasound with Dr. Braverman.  He was pleased, my lining was 10 mm and still perfectly trilaminar.  He gave me a picture of it to take with me (for good luck?).  He said I/we have done everything we can and my body appears to be responding beautifully so now it is all up to the embryos.

No pressure, Gert and Al.

Yesterday afternoon I also had pre-transfer acupuncture with a new practitioner to whom Dr. B’s nurse referred me last week. I really liked her and wish she were working today so I could do my post-transfer session with her but no luck.  I’ll head back to Yin.Ova for that later this afternoon.

In the meantime I plan to do some work this morning to keep myself busy and then go for a walk, hopefully through Central Park to the clinic where my transfer will be done. I think that would be a nice segue.  Hopefully my time management skills or lack thereof enable this plan to come to fruition.

To Gertrude and Alice:  I love you.  The LP loves you.  We want you to come home and stay there.  Please survive.  Please transfer smoothly.  Please implant deeply and thrive.

The Madness Continues and a Word of Thanks

The plan was hatched. The intentions were set. The flights and hotel accommodations were booked.  And then life came along and got in the way of my best laid plans.  Again.

The LP will not be joining me in New York for the transfer of (I hope and pray) our last two embryos, Gertrude and Alice, on Tuesday.  The transfer has been scheduled for the afternoon.  That was a small hiccup I did not anticipate and although Dr. Braverman told me that science says there would be no problem at all with me flying back home Tuesday night, his gut (and mine) say wait one more day.  I left home Thursday last week and today I accepted that I will  not be back – and I will not see the Miracle Toddler or the LP again – until Wednesday evening.  So it is.

The later-than-anticipated transfer time meant the LP would be travelling back solo (as would I) as he has a work commitment he cannot change further (he already changed it to be able to come to the transfer next Tuesday).  Oh well.

Then something much more serious happened.  The LP injured his back very severely.  Even on muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications, he can barely move.  This has never happened before although he has been having muscle spasms in his back this year.  The suspected source to date has been stress and the strain of a desk job under high tension.  And possibly a lack of consistent exercise although the LP does curl and plays hockey nightly with the Miracle Toddler when not disabled (no hockey today or last night!).

The prospect of air travel and sitting in airport lounges for 8-9 hours on Monday and the same on Tuesday night with a severely injured back makes me wince.  The LP was determined to come notwithstanding this latest obstacle but today we both agreed that this was a bad long-term plan for his physical and mental health and not likely to make me feel very good about asking him to be at the transfer with me.

In other news, the Progesterone In Oil (PIO) is kicking my behind (literally, because you know that is how I roll).  Dr. Braverman’s nurse taught me a new trick about heating it immediately before drawing and administering it and so far this has meant no lumps or bumps because the oil is thinner and moves more easily as I inject it and after having done so.  I don’t so much mind the needles going in.  All of that I can manage and would not even blink or complain.  The pain I have for about 24 hours afterward at the injection site on the other hand… that is not pleasant.  I feel as though I walked into a sharp object and gave myself a mother of a bruise on each flank.  I will take the PIO over Prometrium any day of the week but I hope I find some better spots on those flanks soon or I will be a walking wincing wimp in short order.

On the eve of Canadian Thanksgiving, I am struck by how much I have for which to be thankful.

In the present moment, I have been truly moved by some phenomenal events so far on this week’s stint in NYC.  First, I met a friend and fellow RPL sufferer from Canada and her partner for whom I have developed a lasting affection.  Together we briefly met with another blogger who happened to be attending a conference in NYC this weekend.  That was intense.  I don’t think I could have attended that conference.  Yowza!

I have been awed by the kindness and generosity that some truly amazing women in New York have shown me these past few weeks.  I am humbled and choking up a little as I write to say how honoured I am to have met you.  These amazing women who I did not know a few short months ago have behaved as true, long-time friends do.  You have checked in on me, met me to do things and welcomed me into your homes.

Friends, you know who you are.  Please also know that you mean so much to me and I am so grateful for you helping me be and feel safe, comfortable, “normal” and less lonely in this totally abnormal, often lonely and anxiety-provoking process.  What you have done and are doing means so much to me.  Thank you.

And to everyone who has wished me well, followed along, worried beside me, shared this journey and hoped as I have hoped for you that things will one day work out as we long for them to do: thank you.  A toast to each and every one of you, my friends.  Please accept my heartfelt thanks.  We truly are an amazing group of female creatures.  Yay us.  Yay you.

You Already Know the Answer

I woke up this morning with a sense of foreboding about a blogging friend, Lindsey, at Awaiting Autumn. Many of you already know her but if you don’t, please consider stopping by and sending her some care and compassion as she recovers from surgery yesterday after having her first pregnancy (ectopic) rupture in one of her fallopian tubes.

My second thought after Lindsey was that I was not anxious and filled with foreboding as I have been the past few days. I still have the low-grade rumblings of ART anxiety buzzing about in the back of my mind and other organs, but I was not gasping for breath or fretting about the What-Ifs in the way I have found myself doing lately. As I tended to my medical obligations for this cycle (morning injections and oral medications mostly) and thought about the fact that I’d be getting on yet another couple of airplanes to travel to New York again tomorrow, I dug out my Pre-Birth Communication Soul Cards and asked our spirit baby, Azulito, and anyone else hanging out there in the universe with him/her to speak to me through the cards.

I felt my hand drawn to a card before I had fully formulated my question, although I knew that what I wanted to ask about was whether making this cycle our All-Or-Nothing gamble (transferring both of our last two embryos if they both survive the thaw next Tuesday) was the right thing to do. The card my hand was resolutely drawn toward?

“You already know the answer.”

Yes. I do. The answer is yes.

To my surprise and great relief, I asked the LP last evening if he wanted to set aside time to talk about the advice Dr. Braverman had given me on Monday (to transfer both Gertrude and Alice if they both make it through the defrost process) or if he wanted to schedule time to speak with the doctor about that. The LP said no, he had thought about it and he agreed with my gut feeling and the doctor’s advice. We should throw everything we can at my uterus and see what sticks. He may have chosen his words more eloquently.

I love the LP. That conversation reminded me why. I have no doubt that this is one key source of my stress reduction this morning. It is good to be on the same page in this fiasco.

Maybe the LP is hoping that even if this fails, I will realize that the financial burden is already too heavy and end this journey. I cannot say what I will do if this fails. Today, I do not want to give up. I promised myself I would give the immune protocol two chances to work. Making this an all-or-nothing game means we only have one chance.

Failure this time will mean game over as we would be starting at zero with all of the costs associated with designing a revised protocol and having a new DE IVF cycle (because the cost of 3 or more IVFs to use my own eggs at this stage is prohibitive). I am not up for a gestational carrier if we are using someone else’s eggs. I’m just not emotionally there now that we have one child I carried myself.

ART is by far the highest stakes gambling I have ever done. Despite my passion for horse racing (thoroughbreds, please), I am not a gambler when I go to casinos or play poker. I don’t even bet much at the track. But here I am, gambling in the highest stakes game I’ve ever played. And I am telling you I feel relieved to have made the decision to double down. All or nothing. What has become of me?

I hope that Azulito knows what he/she is doing.

Cue the second card I drew. This time, I asked “Is this really going to work?” or something to that effect. The answer?

“I have a plan and please do not worry.”

Azulito should know that this is a tall order. He/she should also know I will do my best. In this moment, I have faith. I trust there is a plan. God and Azulito have a plan. I will try not to worry. Too much.

A Tearful Day of Reckoning and a Transfer Schedule

Today began with a few attempts to extract blood from my veins, resulting in four puncture wounds (two vines if which bore fruit, two of which steadfastly refused). After the vampire routine I met with Dr. Braverman for a sonogram and a discussion of next steps in this FET cycle.

My lining today was essentially the same as it was on Friday. I was disappointed by this but Dr. Braverman was not. He cited a Cornell retrospective study showing no substantive difference in transfer outcomes where uterine lining was between 6 mm and 8 mm or more in thickness provided it demonstrated the trilaminar pattern. Dr. Braverman showed me my beautiful trilaminar lining.

We then talked about transfer dates and whether to transfer our 5-day or our 6-day embryo. Dr. Braverman looked at me and detected the storm brewing behind my eyes. He asked if I was opposed to the possibility of twins. He said that I have been through so much and with all of the travel and related stress I have undertaken to complete this cycle he really wants us to have the best shot at having one live birth out of this. He recommended we transfer both embryos (if both survive the thaw) so long as twins are not out of the question for us. If they are, we will choose the best quality of the two embryos to transfer this time around.

I was surprised to hear the suggestion but realized I should not be considering that Dr. Braverman is not working with your average IVF patient. Also, he reminded me that there are no guarantees. There is no guarantee either embryo will survive the thaw. There is no guarantee they are of good quality. After all, we already blew threw our best embryo in my cycle this May. There is no guarantee that the immune protocol in its current incarnation will work; it may need some tweaking. I may need laparoscopy to diagnose and remove endometriosis. There are entire worlds of what ifs to explore if one is so inclined.

I am not so inclined. I hate the what ifs. What ifs can go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

There are so many opportunities to fail. Or to win and then lose. Again.

As best I can recall it was during this moment – when we began talking about transferring two to maximize our chances if one slipping by the minefield of my immune system – in which the watershed broke. Dr. Braverman gave me one of those “you are going to cry on me, aren’t you?” looks and – foolishly – asked if we were okay. The dam gave way and out rolled the flood of tears and sobs that stained my face and shook my shoulders intermittently for hours to come. He said he recognized that look because he used to think it was him. I am sure he has used that line often.

He invited me to call him once I had time to think over what he had said. Among other things he said the risks of a twin pregnancy are no longer substantial if there is no history of uterine abnormality, serious autoimmune diseases such as lupus or serious third-trimester complications (toxaemia, for example). I have a history of cholestasis of pregnancy. He said that is manageable and not something that would ward against transferring two. He again said I could call if I had any questions or wanted to talk about this.

I don’t know that a telephone call is necessary. Maybe for the LP. He has more anxiety about transferring two than I do. After today’s discussion with Dr. Braverman I feel okay about an all-or-nothing approach. I cannot help feeling that the subtext of what he is saying is that he is not confident this will work, at least not if I transfer one at a time. If he goes to Vegas, I bet he blows a lot of cash. This man is a gambler.

What *is* necessary for me is to figure out the web of lessons today holds. I have a strong sense that this was a teaching moment and I have only scratched the surface of what all I am meant to learn from my emotional meltdown. Azulito sees an opportunity to teach me something. What? I don’t know yet.

One thing I have learned already is that I feel like a sham. I am concerned that I have been attempting to delude myself (or you, dear readers) about how afraid I am, how devastated I am by all of our losses and the fear that I will never have another successful pregnancy, how exhausted I am and, among other things, how lonely I feel sometimes in all of this.

I have chosen courage. And courage is what I try to manifest, for my own sake and when I share my experiences with all of you. Yet inside there is an ocean of tears itching to pour across every leg of this journey and a school of fears looking for a conduit in those tears.

Who knew that creating life – and letting go one’s creations when their time to hold a physical place on this plane was not fleeting – could be so terrifying and painful?

Who knew?

I ought to have known. I have been to the land of loss and fear before. Yet this time feels different.

I am alive to my vulnerability and to the vulnerability of Gertrude and Alice, our two remaining embryos. I am mindful of the educated guess our reproductive immunologist has made and we have embraced in following his protocol. I stuff down but know well the risk that a certain percentage of frozen embryos perish when thawed and others fail to implant or flourish even when chromosomally normal. I know that our chance of success if we transfer two is only slightly greater than our chance of failure regardless of how many we transfer, although the spread is greater the fewer one transfers.

I know so much. But I do not know how to tend to my feelings, fears and needs, it seems. Ostensibly, I have sold myself and others a bill of goods. Today I woke up (okay, I did not really sleep last night – a fact I admitted to Dr. Braverman at the start of my time with him today, noting this made me realize I am quite anxious about this cycle and this morning’s appointments) feeling unsettled. Yesterday, too. A storm has been brewing.

It may be the hormones. It may be the steroids. But behind the medications lies a woman – a mother – with a seemingly bottomless well of need for calm, reassurance, hope and faith that we have a real shot this cycle. Today I became mindful that a good-sized chunk of me does not know how to believe that.

I am dead scared. I am so scared I am afraid to admit how scared I am. I am afraid to own the depths and magnitude of this fear. At times it feels larger than life.

Where does this leave me? I feel as though I am or have been a con artist, shamming you into believing I had it together. Trying to sham myself into believing thar. And now we all know that is not true. It is not true at all.

The truth is, I am afraid. I feel tiny, vulnerable and exposed. I feel shaken, not stirred.

What does that mean?

Am I unable to believe this cycle will work as I did in May? It may mean exactly that. I may not be able to reacquaint myself with the innocence I have lost. Although this is our first cycle using an immune protocol (and an aggressive one at that), it does not engender the marvel and illusion of previous firsts.

I do not – cannot – blindly accept that this will work simply because I will it to. I can manifest an outcome and engender confidence until the cows come home. That trick has been played. I don’t believe in miracles happening in my lifetime anymore. I got my one miracle and I am fearful that asking for more guarantees me ongoing loss. This makes no sense. It is not rational. Bu this is how my phrenetic brain seems to work.

What lessons is Azulito trying to teach me today? A friend suggested I ask if Azulito wants to bring a friend along for the ride (vis-a-vis the two-embryo transfer recommendation). That suggestion opened up a world of possibilities for me.

Why wouldn’t I ask Azulito for some guidance about what to do?

Why am I so out-of-touch with how much stress I am and was under about our recurrent losses, this cycle and what happens if it fails (especially if it fails because my womb kills both Gertrude and Alice in one fell swoop)?

Why do I worry about everyone else’s needs and not realize the deep needs brewing inside myself?

This is a recurring theme for me. Has Azulito come to teach me that? I am inclined to believe so. And now I am deeply curious what other lessons lie behind today’s tearful breakdown in Dr. Braverman’s office. I am going to follow my friend’s suggestion and try to ask Azulito directly.

As for what is next, if all goes as planned my transfer will be Tuesday, October 14th. I will start progesterone on Thursday, October 9th. On Friday, October 10th I will be back in Long Island for my last weekly Intralipid IV (after this they are to be done bi-weekly if I get and stay pregnant). On Monday, October 13th I will have a final sonogram with Dr. Braverman to make sure my uterine lining looks good before Tuesday’s transfer. My first beta (hCG blood draw) will be October 22, 2014 (8dp5dt).

In reflecting upon this past weekend’s stay in New York, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude and tremendous appreciation to the women who made an effort to meet and spend time with me this weekend and today, those of you who introduced me to others close to you (or not so close in some respects, until this weekend) by whom I have been moved and inspired. You know who you are. From my heart and spirit to you and yours: thank you. I feel truly blessed.

Spirit Baby, I Choose You

I think for many of us, when we do IVF the first time notwithstanding the statistics saying it only works some – nowhere near 100% – of the time it’s inevitable that we believe in whole or in part that it will work, if not the first time then sometime soon afterward. When IVF does not make our dreams come true (cancelled cycles, BFN, loss), it is such a blow.

When one moves on to donor egg IVF and the same thing happens, it can shatter who you think you are. The blow is hard. In my case, much harder than the first blows with ART. In the LP’s case, the blows may have been more comparable.

When one gets a diagnosis saying you have so many immune and genetic obstacles it is unlikely you could ever stay pregnant and practically impossible for you to carry another child to term after doing so once, as I did, the devastation is complete. Or one is inclined to think it is. We want that to be the final blow.

I pray and hope that there is no next level or layer of obliteration of my sense of self and faith in God, myself, western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and the contract I believe we have made with our spirit baby.

My fear is not gone even though I am choosing not to give her voice. The risks are real. I know that. I choose not to think about them. I know from experience that this means any negative outcome will be soul-shattering.

I know there is a decent chance the first time we do this immune protocol and use a frozen embryo that may not survive the thaw we run the risk that it will not work.

The risks are real.

I choose not to linger on them.

I choose faith.

I choose hope.

I choose life.

I choose my beautiful, powerful, heart and soul shattering spirit baby, Azulito.

Azulito, I choose you.

Intralipid Hiccup and Other News

Gratitude
I wish need to begin this post by thanking each and every one of you who reads my blog and supports me in my journey to have another living child.  I am more deeply grateful than I have words to express.  My eyes smart as I write these heartfelt words of appreciation.  Your kindness, compassion, support and love mean so much to me.  Thank you.

On the subject of gratitude, I would like to offer special thanks to Jasmine at Journey in the Woods – an infant loss and writing blog that speaks from and to the heart in the most intimate voice of a fiercely passionate yet deeply grieving mother – for nominating me for a Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award.  You can see her post here. I will write a post on the award, hopefully soon. Please stay tuned for that.

The Intralipids Hiccup

I will start this wee rant by saying that in the past eighteen-ish months I have developed and find no shortage of sources to fuel a thriving contempt for the public health care system in my country. I have been let down one time too many.

I got a rather unpleasant surprise yesterday when I visited my doctor’s office. I had booked this appointment in August. It was the first available appointment (and this is my family doctor, not a specialist). Of course it lands at the start of the week in which I finally expect to start my next (and prayerfully last) FET cycle.

I assumed that since my doctor is sympathetic (having seen me through 7 of my 8 miscarriages and our one successful pregnancy), she would make magic happen for me. She did just that on one hand (she gave me requisitions for blood and ultrasound that are for fertility treatments, which normally would cost me about $450 combined per monitoring appointment). I was anxious about whether she would do this (or be able to do it).

It never occurred to me that my doctor would not be licensed to prescribe the IV mayonnaise (intralipids or IL) that Dr. Braverman has recommended I have piped into my system weekly. Its ostensible purpose is to neutralize my unbelievably high Natural Killer cell activity and calm some of my systemic inflammation, both of which are believed to be contributing to my recurrent miscarriages and implantation issues.

Not only am I fully on-board with this recommendation (even if it ultimately turns out to be a variation of snake oil), I am terrified of not doing it (and doing it weekly) given that my NK activity levels are in the 98th and 99th percentiles in the 50:1 and 25:1 tests. I do not dare fail or refuse to pump liquid fat into my body to neutralize those NK cells given what has happened with my previous pregnancies. I will do whatever it takes to make this happen.

Which, as it turns out, means making weekly flights from the northwestern Canada to New York’s eastern seaboard (along with the related travel expenses and arrangements that invariably will include planes, trains, automobiles and possibly buses). Welcome to Plan B, version 37.0. I will have my first IL IV at Dr. Braverman’s Long Island clinic this Friday. He was gracious enough to walk through some alternatives for a Plan C on the phone and via e-mail yesterday but so far nothing is confirmed beyond me heading to his clinic every week for the next several weeks.

I should have bought shares in some of the U.S. airlines. Oh yeah, with what money?

Holiday season and winter are coming. I cannot continue Plan B through an entire trimester of pregnancy if I am blessed enough to get and stay pregnant during this cycle. So there will need to be a Plan C and I will need to implement it in October, after we figure out whether (a) our embryos or at least one of them survives the thaw; and (b) the transfer is successful. I should know that by roughly the third week of October (this is happening so fast all of a sudden. EEP!).

At the moment, Plan C options include:

1. Camping out in an Emergency Room at a nearby hospital and begging for mercy from a prescribing ER physician who will agree with Dr. Braverman’s recommendation for IL and approve me having them administered at said hospital’s IV Therapy Clinic. There are a few such clinics in my city, all seem to require a referral from a doctor with admitting privileges at the hospitals. My GP does not have those privileges, of course. My ObGyn has privileges at a hospital (the women’s hospital) at which there is no IV Therapy Clinic, of course.

2. A variation on item 1: Asking my GP to refer me to a doctor with admitting privileges at a hospital with a IV Therapy Clinic. I do not know if this is actually possible and the RN I spoke with yesterday at our healthcare referral service yesterday (who was remarkably sympathetic and put in 100% effort to try to help me) had no idea either and was unable to determine that from the records and databases available to her.

3. Travel to the U.S. or possibly a fertility clinic on the west coast in my own country where the owner/RE does IL treatments for his patients (which I am not). The travel cost of doing this is roughly equivalent and in some cases greater than me flying to the U.S. Dr. Braverman said his scripts/recommendations are “sometimes” followed by doctors at the Beer Center in northern California. There is also the possibilty of asking my former southern California RE to help out with this since he was willing to have me do one or two IL treatments during the FET cycle he proposed we do before I insisted I have immune testing completed before doing any more embryo transfers.

Yesterday I was stunned, scared and overwhelmed but relieved after Plan B fell into place. Today I am angry, bitter and resentful of the bureaucracy and delay and Kafka-esque absurdity that is navigating the Canadian public health care system for something as innocuous as intralipid infusions. I want to throat punch the public health care gods right now. You guys truly suck. If I were in control of your oxygen buttons, I’d be turning them off right about now.

On that positive note, let’s move on to item 3 on the agenda, shall we?

Hypnotherapy

Ah, zen. I cannot tell you what happened during my hypno appointment last night because I don’t remember anything after seeing the bright flashes of light and colour that mean Azulito (our spirit baby) had arrived. I will get the recording today sometime.

Apparently I did not speak this time although I was very animated and made a lot of facial expressions that convinced my hypnotherapist that I was in a good place and communicating with some one or ones. I believe that is true although I was a little disappointed to not remember this time, unlike last time. And because I did not speak aloud, the recording may not tell me much more about the communications I was having. I do feel quite certain I was communicating at least in part with Azulito and I am grateful that the feeling I was left with afterward was one of deep calm and reassurance.

I believe I have made the right choice. If I waver (and I will, because equivocation in this area is ingrained in me), I will remind myself of the Falcon’s guidance and I will listen to the hypno recording to soothe and reassure me. That way, I can befriend my fear rather than let it run the show.

Despite the IL hiccup and my general worry that this will not work, I am starting to get the tiniest bit excited about this FET cycle. EEP!

Surviving Survival Mode to Embrace My Inner Wisdom

I saw my original acupuncturist, who is also a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on June 14th. Let’s call her Dr. Gratitude. Dr. Gratitude, the LP and I worked together from 2010 to 2012, which period saw me through my first two pregnancy losses and the birth of our Miracle Toddler.

When my menses returned in early 2013 and the LP and I earnestly began trying to have a second living child, Dr. Gratitude was on medical leave and, later, maternity leave. Despite that, we stayed in touch and she followed our efforts with my current acupuncturist, to whom Dr. Gratitude referred me when she could not help us last year.

After 5 pregnancy losses between 4 to 10 weeks with my own eggs since early 2013 and then a very early pregnancy loss with a perfect donor-egg embryo in May 2014, Dr. Gratitude announced she was returning to work, though in a new location far from my home. I wrote her an e-mail explaining my history over the past 17 months, describing my fear and suspicion that my immune system is acting up and interfering with my ability to stay pregnant, detailing the meds and supplements I had been on and the protocol that our current RE has proposed for our next frozen embryo transfer (FET) with either one or both of our two remaining donor-egg (DE) blastocysts. She advised me to stop all but a few of the supplements I was on and supported my decision to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and continue avoiding gluten and dairy in my diet (I have also limited or eliminated processed sugars from my diet though I never ate much sugar to begin with).

At my June 14th appointment, I was relieved to see Dr. Gratitude. My body, however, was in Post-Recurrent-Pregnancy-Loss-Stress-Disorder mode, apparently, because Dr. Gratitude noted that my heart was beating irregularly, beating three times then pausing. After observing my pulses and other TCM markers and speaking with me during the appointment, Dr. Gratitude noted I am occasionally in “survival mode” (or what I call Post RPL Stress Disorder mode; if it were up to me, that would become a new diagnosis in the DSM-5).

Surprise number one for me at this appointment was that I did not even know I was stressed when I first sat down with Dr. Gratitude. But of course I was. I am stressed every time I face someone who might have some influence – positive or otherwise – on our efforts to have a second living child. I am stressed every time I am reminded of my loss history, the countless unknowns (starting with “why is this happening?” and “can it be fixed?”), and the risk of more loss or, worse than more loss, the possibility that we will never add another child into our family no matter what herculean efforts are engaged.

Surprise number two was Dr. Gratitude suggesting that the LP’s sperm may be a contributing factor. This has been brushed off or ignored or dismissed by every doctor we have consulted and the two REs with whom we have done IVF (own egg and more recently donor egg). The LP has had a number of SAs (semen analyses) but never has it been considered that he could be responsible for any part of our recurrent pregnancy loss (and particularly the secondary recurrent miscarriage) woes. He’s never even had a DNA fragmentation test, though I did ask about this with our first RE. The LP is considered a “proven male” because he co-produced our Miracle Toddler and two (now adult) children with Wife #1.

Dr. Gratitude acknowledged that because we got three blastocysts out of 6 donor eggs earlier this year using the LP’s sperm via ICSI, if there is a problem, it may be one of quality and not virility per se. We also talked about the possibility that the epigenetic changes effected in my body during my pregnancy with the Miracle Toddler may have left me rejecting babies, at least male babies, and possibly reacting to the LP’s sperm. I told Dr. Gratitude that I have requested a consult with Dr. Braverman, a Reproductive Immunologist in New York, who is a leader in that field of research and treatment but so far no return call (despite the promise to respond within 48 hours to such requests). I also told her that I do not know whether I will undergo the testing necessary to make these determinations because of the costs associated with them.

To be truthful, there is another reason I am reluctant to undergo the tests; I am reticent to be told there is nothing wrong that can currently be diagnosed by Western Medicine (or at least Braverman or one of his co-horts, including another RI with whom I have considered consulting) because then where do I go and what do I do? I suppose I could do what I had decided we would do next – try the immune protocol our current RE has recommended, perhaps with a couple of tweaks I’d like to ask him about, and see what happens. But will I be able to convince myself that it will work in the face of one “normal” diagnosis after another? Do I want to spend my money on more testing or other attempts to have this elusive second child we so desperately long to bring home? There is a finite amount of money to go around and I need to keep that in mind going forward. As matters stand, I have a substantial loan that will take me years to pay off in relation to the money we’ve already spent since last year on this journey.

Dr. Gratitude does not believe that our recurrent losses are simply, as Western Medicine has repeatedly told me, a product of “old eggs”. Segue to surprise number three. She wants to help me with my immune system and support any pregnancy we may be able to achieve, but she believes that my own eggs (or some of them – it’s inevitable that a good chunk of them will not produce a viable pregnancy at my age) and my body could sustain a pregnancy with proper supports (one of which is progesterone supplementation). In fact, she said that if the LP and I want to try to conceive “naturally” during this break we are taking right now, she would be ecstatic and ready to support us if a pregnancy resulted. She also said we could do this after our next transfer if it is not successful, barring some unforeseen development.

For context, I should note that Dr. Gratitude has always been conservative in voicing her views and stating her opinion or advice unless she is confident it is well-grounded and will do no harm. For her to say this was huge and she acknowledged that, noting that of course she supports us choosing to stick with DE as well, she simply wanted us to know her views and have options.

Surprise number three was a bit of a shock, to be honest. I had pretty much given up on my eggs. Interestingly, however, I had lamented shortly before the appointment to the LP that I wished we could just have a baby of our own making and not need the remaining DE embryos (though I added that I knew that was so near to impossible as to make it inconceivable).

The LP and I don’t know what we will do. He is afraid of me getting my hopes up. I am afraid of that, too. We are both averse to inviting more loss and suffering upon us (though there are no guarantees with my eggs or donor eggs in that department, it would seem). He says he would be unhappy about us having spent so much money on DE if we could have had another living child without the expense and all I’ve been through already to chase that dream. I do not share that feeling, but I do understand and respect it.

In fact, if someone said “if you pay more than $30,000 as the price of admission to having your longed-for second living child, only to discover later you need not have done so”, I would call the bank for a loan. I would do it in a heartbeat. Perhaps that is my survival mode voice speaking? I don’t think so, it feels like a very grounded decision to me. It feels like a no-brainer. But of course life does not work like that. And for us, infertility – heck, our relationship – has never worked like this. Every happy ending for us has involved a number of hurdles and significant risks of losing out on that happy ending. Our love and our journey to grow a family have entailed many heartbreaks and much suffering. We are older, wiser souls because of it, but we know better than to expect an easy path to anywhere we long to go.

Perhaps one of the most important things Dr. Gratitude said to me at our recent appointment was that I need to learn to listen to my body and what my intuition – as opposed to my panic, my survival mode – is telling me and where it is guiding me. She suggested when I’m considering a decision (such as testing, protocols, transferring one or two, etcetera), I should observe whether the feeling and direction is emanating from my belly (my intuition) or my chest (my anxiety – the survival mode me). If it’s the latter, I need to work through that. If it’s the former, I should trust myself and the direction in which my intuition is suggesting we travel.

That sounds easy enough. It is not and will not be easy. But I am prepared to do my best to follow that advice, as I have already been doing in some respects for many months now. It is a little daunting to think I am in charge here but if I look back at the past 17 months, I see that I have already come a long way toward believing my inner voice and the gut feelings I sometimes cannot explain.

Maybe that is exactly what our spirit baby, Azulito, has been waiting for?

I sure hope so.

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.

From Zebra Wisdom to Purple Turquoise

Yesterday’s transfer of our top contender of frozen DE embryos was picture perfect.  Thaw went well, embie looked awesome, I was chilled, I wore happy socks, I was on Bliss Mountain.

Speaking of pictures, allow me to introduce our 4AA embryo, currently shacking up inside this happy mama:

Image

I had acupuncture treatments immediately before and immediately after, on the same OR table on which I had the transfer.  I was so relaxed I declined the offer of a full or half dose of Valium to ensure I was calm and not fidgety during the transfer.  I got to watch on screen, I didn’t have to deal with meeting a new RE for the first time, I didn’t feel like a number… all in all it was a very different experience than my last own-egg transfer at our former clinic.

I spent a great deal of time doing meditations and saying prayers to a fertility goddess sculpture from Bali (my awesome acupuncturist sent me photos of a sculpture of this deity – the woman with many children is how she was described though as said awesome acupuncturist noted, there has to be a better name than that in the original language in which she was named!). I also had a nice, sunny 30-minute walk to the clinic before my first acupunture.

And, of course, it may have helped me relax knowing that I was wearing fun socks I bought just for this transfer:

Image

Finally, I had drawn the Zebra from my deck of Animal Spirit Guide cards on Monday night. The zebra helps us move beyond fear and have confidence in where we are going. Just the message I needed. Thank you, Zebra!

I was a little sad that the LP could not be there with me, but he was a ball of nerves that morning and later said I’d probably have needed the Valium if he had been there, vibrating away.  He is probably right about that.  This is part of what makes us a good team – knowing our own neuroses and how they impact each other!

I rounded out the day with an emergency trip to the pharmacy (new RE increased the micronized progesterone from one 200 mg dose per day at bedtime to two such doses, about 12 hours apart, to be continued until 12 weeks of pregnancy).  I like that they had enough confidence to prescribe and have the pharmacy fill the entire amount, as though they have no doubt I’ll be carrying little 4AA until then and beyond.  Since my insurance covers drugs only (no treatments), I was fine with filling the entire prescription now as well.  Our old clinic never banked on our ART treatments working out and only gave me drugs to get past beta hCG tests number one and two.

Speaking of which, first beta is next Tuesday, May 27th.  I’m presenting at a conference out of town that day so I’m not sure how this is going to work, but I’ll make it happen somehow even if I have to pay for my blood test upfront and get it reimbursed later.

I have no doubt I will be peeing on sticks in the meantime because… well, that’s just who I am.  I would like to tell you and myself otherwise, but I just don’t think I will comply with any requirement I might impose upon myself, so I won’t engage the charade.

What about the purple turquoise, you ask?

My incredibly supportive sister-in-law (the only family member who knows what we’re really doing here) sent me encouraging notes before and after transfer (I am so thankful for this support) and also suggested I do something special or whimsical for myself yeterday before I flew back home.  And so I did.  I found some jewelry designed by a Navajo artist and bought some earrings made of purple turquoise (supposedly it is made at the Kingman mine in Arizona and involves manipulation of “true” turquoise).  The earrings spoke to me because in addition to being quite striking visually, they contain the colours I see when I communicate with our spirit baby, Azulito.  A perfect ending to a perfect transfer day, I think. 

See for yourself:

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I am so in love with this little life inside of me.  Yes, already.  And I am officially (read: artificially) 20 days pregnant today and insisting that the universe do none of that “proven otherwise” business this time around.  I am pregnant and I’m staying that way until this baby pops out in early 2015.  ROAR!