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My head is absolutely spinning after this weekend, but I should start with one very important piece of information: We're pregnant!

On Friday, my hubby took the day off of work to sit around here waiting for the RE to call with my hcg level. It was just before noon when my nurse called to say our first beta was a 129... far better than the pregnancy I miscarried 2 years ago (20-something), and even better than my first beta with my daughter (40-something).

We celebrated, called our close friends and family, and spent the next two days trying to digest that our embryo actually stuck. I still had some cramping that was coming and going, so although the numbers looked great, I was worried that something was going to go wrong.

This morning, I went in for my second beta check. We were shooting for a 60% increase, which would have put us just over 200. Well, the RE called to tell us that our beta completely doubled to 259! Another fantastic number, and another sign that things are going well. I think we celebrated even a little more today knowing that the numbers were increasing appropriately. 
We have one more early hurdle to get through: the heartbeat. When I miscarried, it started the day before my 6-week heartbeat visit. I just can't seem to shake the fear that it'll happen again. My husband keeps reminding me that that pregnancy was doomed from the start. The first beta was so low, the numbers didn't increase properly at first; we knew that we had a rough beginning, but then things started to get back on track. Our numbers started doubling, so we thought we were safe. But we were wrong. 

I know that things are looking great right now, and I don't want to stress my little jelly bean out. So, I'm trying to do some deep breathing exercises whenever I feel overwhelmed with worry. I try to cast the worry aside and remind myself that things are different now. Things will be better now. Things are better now.

Our next visit is a week from tomorrow, when we'll be looking for the gestational sac. I'm praying that everything goes well, and for now, I'm just enjoying every little side effect and symptom that comes along. (Coffee? Bleh...)

 
 
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Today I'm 5 days past the transfer of my Day 6 frozen  embryo--or, in infertility hieroglyphics-- I'm 5dp6dt. I was hoping to to hold out on doing a home pregnancy test (hpt) until Wednesday, which would be 7dp6dt, but we all know patience and ivf just don't quite go together. I caved.

Now, with my previous cycles that resulted in some form of implantation, I did not get a positive hpt until the day before or the day after my beta. But today, four days before my beta, I'm seeing just the slightest little pink line. I hope it's not my eyes deceiving me. Sometimes when you want something so bad, you can swear that you see it... in the right light... at the right angle... with one eye closed... while holding your breath.
I do plan on testing again, hopefully this afternoon and again tomorrow morning. I'm praying this little line becomes darker. I've been fooled before by a faint bfp that remained a faint bfp until I eventually miscarried 3 weeks later. I need to see a dark bfp in the works here. A big, fat, positive in any light at any angle.

As far as symptoms go, I just had some mild cramping on the afternoon of my transfer and then lots of cramping for two days that followed. It seems to have lightened up. Now I just feel some tension in my uterus here and there... hoping it means my little guy has dug in and is starting to grow! I started with a bad headache last night, but this morning I feel okay. 

Anyone who has done ivf before knows that this game of "what was that?" goes on for most of the first trimester. Then there's the fun of trying to distinguish a symptom of pregnancy from a side effect of the medications. (Hint: It's pretty much impossible.) You'd think by now I'd have learned to just relax and wait for the beta, but like I've said before, every cycle makes us just a little more crazy. :-)

 
 
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So tonight was the big night... the night I named my blog after... the night I caved in to all the theories about what boosts ivf success rates... tonight was the night I ate the freaking pineapple core.

If you've never tried to gnaw through the core of a pineapple, I can share with you, it's not fun. Imagine eating the really bitter, yet somewhat juicy, chunk of an evergreen branch. It's the best way I can think to describe it. Clearly, the core was not intended for casual human consumption--particularly because it took several minutes to chew through a piece the size of my thumb. But, it's supposed to be where all the good stuff is located: the bromelain.

Now that I've ingested these magical little tropical enzymes, I should feel confident that tomorrow's transfer will be a huge success, right? Right. And, yes, all of the other 24 pills and the intramuscular progesterone injection play a part too. I've got positive energy surrounding me, and I'm willing to bet that everything together will result in one big, fat, positive pregnancy test in about 10 days.

Now, let's start thinking sticky thoughts and keep our fingers crossed that there's really something to this pineapple thing!

 
 
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I went in for a lining check on Sunday to find that things are starting to thicken up the way they should. And, just as in previous cycles, my Estrace was bumped up to 2 pills twice a day. I'll go back in on Thursday to see if my lining is thick enough to put my transfer on the calendar in pen.

With this increase in Estrace, I am now taking a total of 15 pills per day:
  • 1 Synthroid
  • 2 Morning Estrace
  • 1 Morning CoQ10
  • 2 Afternoon Vitamin D3
  • 2 Afternoon Prenatal Vitamins
  • 1 Afternoon CoQ10
  • 2 Evening Estrace
  • 1 Evening CoQ10
  • 3 Evening Metformin

There has got to be an easier way to manage all of these pills besides a counter-top lineup of pill bottles that I have to stow away every time the doorbell rings for fear of my neighbors organizing an intervention. And it's damn near impossible to find pill boxes large enough to accommodate 15 pills.

So, I'm throwing it out there. The first person to design a convenient Pez-style dispenser for IVF medications will get my ringing endorsement as being absolutely brilliant. Something I can just load up with all of the pills for the week (or even just a couple days!) and pop them in one at a time...  A girl can dream, right?

 
 
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I've shared before that my husband and I were incredibly blessed to have success with our first cycle of IVF. We had our nothing-short-of-a-miracle daughter in April of 2010, and every failed cycle since then has just reinforced what a gift she really is.

Well, Jocelyn is about to turn three in a few weeks and is becoming quite the conversationalist. I was completely caught off guard when I got home from my retrieval to hear her shout, "Mommy, did the doctor take all of your eggs out?" She's also quite the little eavesdropper because I definitely did not have that conversation with her.

Jocelyn has a really great group of playmates that we see pretty regularly, and all of them... all of them... now have little siblings--which leads to a natural question. "Mommy, where's my little sister?" It comes up often, and I usually respond, "We just have to keep asking God to give you a little brother or sister." Usually, Joss just accepts this answer, says okay, and hops/bounces/dances off to go play. 

Well, last night was a little different. After my usual response, Jocelyn said, "Let's call God." She ran into her playroom and came back with her little purple Fisher-Price phone, handed it to me, and said, "Here, Mommy; call Her and ask." I had to smile, especially because she referenced God as a woman (can you tell Mommy's a feminist?). But I also admired her sense of urgency. This is serious business. Get this God woman on the phone and demand some action!

I took her little phone and tried my best to have the conversation she was looking for. "Hi, God. It's Mommy and Daddy. We were just wondering if you could help us have a baby and let Jocelyn have a little brother or sister.... (pause)... Okay, you're going to try really hard to help us?... (pause)... Okay, then we should continue to pray and know that we are doing everything that we can? ...(pause)... Okay, we will. Thanks for your help, God. Take care."

Jocelyn seemed satisfied with the call, and in some ways, so did I. It gave me a chance to remind myself that I am doing everything that I can. I struggle with a good dose of mommy-guilt that we brought Jocelyn into this world and now may not ever be able to give her the sibling she requests so often. We just didn't think that baby #2 would be this hard. And, since this is our last attempt, it's important to accept that God has this. There is nothing that I could have done differently to help make this work... nothing. This transfer is going to be in God's hands now. And we just have to pray that She takes phone requests.

 
 

We Have a Litter

We received the most glorious news on Saturday (well, next to hearing that we're actually pregnant). Our RE confirmed that we have 8 embryos that made it to Day 6! They were all successfully biopsied and frozen. So now we wait for the results of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) testing, which should take about 2 weeks... a whole new 2-week-wait to stress over. I assume that we'll probably lose a few due to chromosomal abnormalities, but odds are good that we'll have at least two embryos to transfer. Huge relief!

We've been sharing our IVF journey with a bunch of our friends and family, so naturally, we were excited to share this news with them. I love that the question I keep getting about these embryos is: "Will you transfer all 8?" Knowing what I know about IVF, the answer is obviously no. But I still have to chuckle at the thought of being the next Octomom with my own little litter of kids.

Ringing in CD1 with Aphrodite

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It's also quite fitting that today, March 18th, is Goddess of Fertility Day--fitting because today is also Cycle Day 1 for me again. It's time to start building up my lining to prepare for a frozen embryo transfer (FET), and how wonderful that I get to kick off this part of my cycle with a celebration of Aphrodite. 

I've actually been channeling the Greek goddess of fertility throughout this entire cycle with a charm that is supposed to symbolize fertility. It was given to me by a friend who had it blessed, and I am to return it to her after I get pregnant. I'm hoping that I get to give it back to her very soon.

Aside from celebrating Cycle Day One with tampons and a cramps, I'm also starting the seeds to my garden today. Symbolism just abounds here. It just feels like a great day to honor rebirth, fertility, and growth. 

 
 
Every time I watch this video of an embryo dividing, I get chills. I get chills because I can't believe that my miracle daughter started out like this over 3 years ago, and I can't believe that we just had 8 embryos successfully make it through this process. IVF is every bit as miraculous as a natural conception. Check out this clip from Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey.
 
 
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Tomorrow morning, I'm going for my endometrial disruption, less elegantly known as a "womb scratching." It's essentially a very light scraping or disruption of the endometrial lining with the goal of increasing white blood cells. The white blood cells then spit out all kinds of other substances that are particularly helpful in coaxing a little embryo to implant. (Read more about it here on FertilityAuthority.com.) It just creates a more favorable lining for the transfer. And since we've had quite a few genetically normal embryos fail to implant, we figured we'd give it a shot. It's supposed to really increase the chances of success so, naturally, I'm on board.

Meanwhile, somewhere in a lab in North Jersey, my little embryos are still dividing away. It's killing me that I don't know what's going on with them though! I wish the RE offered a 24/7 webcam, like they have in some daycare facilities now. I could just log on from home and check on my embryos-- you know, cheer them along, call the embryologists if I have a concern.

"Yes, hello. I'm calling about embryo #13. Can you tell me why it's looking kind of clumpy?... Oh, okay... Just increased cellular adhesion?... Okay, thanks for looking into it... You have a good day, too... Buh-bye."

Funny to think about, but I bet it'll be totally normal 5 years from now. It's already amazing how much has changed in the 5 years we've been doing IVF. For now, I'll just have to trust that my embies are in good hands and keep my fingers crossed for an amazing report on Saturday morning.

 
 
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Well, yesterday was the big day! And egg retrieval day turned out to be a huge success--although it was not without some opportunities for complete panic.

Our morning seemed to go super smooth and was complemented by a beautiful sunrise to set the scene for our 90-minute drive to the RE's main office. It was so peaceful, especially when compared to the ice storm, freak blizzard, and complete downpour that confronted us on our previous retrieval visits. We took it as a sign that things were falling into place this time around.

We were thrilled to see all of our favorite nurses on staff when we arrived. Having been through more than a handful of cycles, we've gotten to know the surgery and recovery nurses pretty well. And we were also excited to learn that our actual RE was performing our retrieval, not one of the other doctors on staff. Again, a reason to feel like things were happening like this for a reason.

The actual procedure was like clockwork. Staff bustled around confirming my identity, getting me positioned on the table, and the next thing I knew, the doctor was telling me to have a nice nap. I remember making a sound that was supposed to be "thank you," and then I just drifted off. Lord, if I could fall asleep that easily every night, I would be one very happy gal.

Apparently, I also had the opportunity to learn of my budding alcohol addiction after the procedure. When the nurses wheeled me back to my room, I spent the first five minutes coming out of my deep sleep muttering something about really needing a glass of wine. I don't remember ANYTHING, but I was totally embarrassed when TR told me about it. He was just relieved I didn't wake up asking for a Bob, or Joe, or Julio. 

Just when we thought everything was going great, we got a call from the andrology lab that TR's specimen was not sufficient. He had to go give it a second shot, literally. I can't imagine the pressure he must have felt--his wino wife worrying like crazy down the hall while he, ahem, ya know. But he did it! And we found out a couple hours later that the lab had enough in the fresh and frozen specimens to fertilize our eggs.

So here's the results of our final fresh IVF retrieval that we will ever do for the rest of our lives:
  • 32 eggs were retrieved
  • 24 of those eggs were mature enough to do ICSI
  • 17 of those ICSI-ed successfully fertilized

We'll find out on Saturday how many embryos are still growing, and those embryos will be biopsied for PGD (genetic testing). It'll take two weeks to get those results back and then we can start preparing for the transfer!

It's just crazy to think we now have 17 little embryos growing in the lab. We are praying like crazy that they continue to thrive (and we're wondering if we can claim all 17 potential children as tax deductions?). I can't help but smile when I think that our next baby is somewhere in that mix.  :-)

 
 
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Am I supposed to believe it's just a coincidence that Oz the Great and Powerful opens just 1 day after a major Nor'easter makes it's final sweep through the country? It's Hollywood marketing strategy at it's finest, I tell ya.

Ridiculously implausible conspiracy theory aside, this storm is already starting to wreak havoc on the Jersey shore. My lights have been flickering for the past hour, and I'm pretty sure that some of these trees spared by Sandy are gonna uproot soon. Odds are, we'll be without power by sunset. Not exactly prime conditions for trekking into the RE's office for monitoring tomorrow morning. Luckily, I'm off the hook.

Any other time, I would be pretty bummed that my eggs didn't reach the coveted 18 mm measurement today when we though they would. But, thanks to this storm (do I really have to call it Saturn?), I'm actually thankful that my eggs still have a ways to go before it's time to trigger. 

I'll go back in on Friday morning for another status check. With my lead follicle at 17 mm today, I should definitely be triggering by Friday night. That means a Sunday morning retrieval, and Sunday is supposed to be a beautiful 50 degree day. Perfect egg harvesting weather!

 

    My Story

    Infertility has been messing with my family for the past five years. We've seen amazing highs and the most heartbreaking of lows; but with each passing cycle, we've grown a little closer, a little crazier, and a little more willing to just eat the freaking pineapple core. 

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