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If you have to stress about trying to conceive, I think it's only fair that you have an uneventful pregnancy. Seems fair, right? All of the struggle and heartache surrounding infertility should earn you one free ticket to a totally normal, textbook, enjoying-pickles-and-ice-cream type of pregnancy. The complications--gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, incompetent cervix, etc.--should be reserved for the "oops!" babies and the "it happened on the first try" babies. Just my personal view and the way I would structure the universe if I was in charge of things. Although, for the record, I should say that no woman should ever have to endure any complications during pregnancy. It's unfair to anyone. Unfortunately, we had a little (big) scare on Tuesday that may or may not be over. 

Everything looked great at my first ultrasound visit on Monday morning. My hcg was up to 2351, we saw a gestational sac and the yolk sac, and everything was measuring right on target. I got to take home a picture of my little bean and proudly display it on the refrigerator next to his Day-6 embie portrait. I was feeling really confident. Things were looking much brighter than they had when I miscarried.

Tuesday morning, I still felt great. I ventured out to Target to pick up some more Benadryl, to which I've finally built up a bit of a tolerance. I stopped in the restroom as soon as I got there and saw every pregnant woman's worst nightmare--blood. It was what I consider to be "a lot" of blood....and the worst kind--bright red. I immediately went into panic mode. This couldn't possibly be happening again, I thought.

I rushed out of the bathroom and ran straight to the car. I called my husband on the way home and told him what was going on. I could hear the panic in his voice too. "Maybe it's fine," he said as he was getting in his car to come home.

I called my nurse in absolute hysterics. It's amazing how you think you've composed yourself until the voice on the other end answers. I must have sounded like a nutcase, hardly able to catch my breath, but she had me come in for an ultrasound right away. In the bathroom of the RE's office, I passed a bunch of clots. Smaller ones than I had seen with my miscarriage, but I thought for sure this ultrasound was going to be bad news.

They had me come right in to the exam room when I got there, and my husband arrived just in time. The doctor started with a speculum exam where he said he sees some residual clots, although it didn't look like there was any active bleeding happening anymore. He did the internal ultrasound, and after a few seconds of adjusting the picture on the screen, we saw our little bean... hanging on. He had, in fact, grown 1 mm since the day before, which was a very good sign. 

The doctor explained that there's all kinds of reasons why a woman might bleed during pregnancy, and sometimes things go on to be perfectly fine. We have to be cautiously optimistic that this is one of those "perfectly fine" times. We repeated my bloodwork from the day before, and I went home to wait it out while I rest on the couch until the bleeding stopped.

Later that evening, things started to lighten up. I passed a few more clots, but nothing too scary. By the time I went to bed, the bleeding had stopped completely. 

Wednesday, I got a call with my bloodwork results and my hcg had jumped from 2351 to 4974 in only 32 hours! It was an amazing jump, and as the nurse said, "just about the best outcome we could hope for." I was still blood/clot-free all day Wednesday and Thursday, so we decided that things are looking up. 

We think what happened was a subchorionic bleed. Although it didn't show on the ultrasound, it's the most common reason this would happen. We just have to keep an eye on it at my next ultrasound to see if it comes back. I'm still taking it easy and trying not to lift anything--including my 3-year-old. And I'm spending lots of time with my feet up on the couch. I go back on May 4th when we'll try to hear the heartbeat. I'll be just over 7 weeks at that point, so hopefully everything is on target.

This was certainly an exhausting week, and my nerves are just about shot. But I'm thankful that, at least for now, our little bean is still stuck! Physically, I'm feeling good. And emotionally, I'm trying to shake the negative worry and replace it with a deep breath. A deep if-I-can-handle-infertility-I-can-handle-anything kind of breath. And then I feel strong.


 
 
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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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Less than 12 hours to go until I get to be first in line at my RE's office for my beta blood draw! The office opens at 6:00 am, and I plan on being there 15 minutes before. I made my nurse promise she would call me before anyone else. Nuts, I know, but patience is not my strongest characteristic. Persistence; yes. Patience; no. 

I'm feeling a little extra crampy today, which has me worrying, so I'm trying to drink lots of water. I could just be a little dehydrated from all of this warm weather we've been having. This is the sound of me trying to be positive, cause you know my mind is turning 1,000 mph with all the horrible things that could be going wrong. 

But on this Beta-Day Eve, I celebrated by taking my 8th home pregnancy test of this cycle. It's still positive, and still looking darker than the day before. My fingers and toes are crossed for a strong beta number. Then we can let out a little sigh of relief... at least until we start worrying about the next hurdle in this journey.

 
 
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The POAS (pee-on-a-stick) madness continues around here! Here's today's test, looking even darker than yesterday's. I think this is pretty promising, although my hubby is hesitant to get too excited. At least today he acknowledged that this is, in fact, a positive pregnancy test. Progress.

I'm starting to break out like a teenager now, so something is definitely happening with my hormones. As annoying as the blemishes may be, I'm welcoming every symptom with open arms... treasuring it even! Six consecutive failed ivf cycles will make you cherish the strangest things. :-)

I have an unopened 3-pack of pregnancy tests in my closet. I swore that I would return them if I got my bfp before I needed them. But, guess what! I'm not taking them back! I want to pee on them. And the prospect of getting a $12.99 credit is not going to stop me. I'm in the midst of POAS madness, and now there's no turning back.

So here's to hoping that tomorrow's test is just as dark!

 
 
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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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Technically, I'm knocked up! At least until a beta proves otherwise. And I'm feeling pretty good about this.

I had my embryo transfer on Wednesday in a magical place called Basking Ridge, NJ where the fertility fairies visit at night to turn our hopeless eggs and little lost sperm into beautiful Day 6 embryos. It's either the fairies or the medically trained reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists--either/or. 

The procedure itself began so smoothly. I had my own private transfer room with soft meditation-style music flowing from the speakers. A laser acupuncturist brought me to a Zen-like state where, if I didn't have to pee so bad from filling my bladder, I could have drifted right off to sleep.

In the past, I had always then gone into the operating room to have my embryos replaced; but now, the embryos come to you. They deliver! 

Within about ten minutes, technicians started wheeling in ultrasound machines, tables full of sterile equipment, and--of course--our little embryo. He proudly rode right into the room in an incubator with an embryologist leading the way. It was amazing to watch the room transform into a private O.R. My RE came in with my embryo's very first little portrait and said it was time to get started. 

I'm usually really tense about the whole "setup" for this part. I don't think I'm alone in my disdain for speculums, and cleaning the cervix is super uncomfortable. Not to mention I'm doing this with a partially full bladder to produce a better ultrasound image with a doctor telling me to "try to relax your legs." Pretty sure that's the last thing you'd really want, doc. 
Relaxation = urination in my book.

But this time around, I didn't even pay attention to what was happening from the waist down. I barely remember the prep at all. I was so focused on the mind blowing process happening right in front of my eyes. An arm's length away, I watched the embryologist preparing my little baby-to-be. I saw her prepare the catheter, identify my embryo on the video monitor, and suck him up into the tube of the catheter. It was fascinating, and, I must say, my little guy looked like one handsome little embryo on screen! 

The embryologist then brought the catheter over to my doctor who carefully inserted it right into the center of my uterine cavity. On the ultrasound monitor, I watched the little droplet of an embryo being deposited right where it should be. I was just in awe of how every piece of this process came together, like one amazing symphony. 

And then, I thought, this was like IVF Hibachi...performed right here in front of me! All that was missing was a flaming volcano of onion rings! I momentarily cracked myself up and then went back to focusing on relaxation.

I'm praying, praying, praying that this little guy sticks! And I'm already counting down the days until I can take a home pregnancy test. Ya know, to drive myself nuts until the beta. Fingers crossed for a bfp!!!

 
 
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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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Our transfer date is now officially on the calendar! Wednesday, April 3rd, is the big day. I can't believe we're finally at this point! It seems like things have moved so slowly, but we've  just been taking every phase of this process one step at a time. 

We opted to slow things down in hopes that my body (uterus) would be a little more hospitable come transfer time. Here's to hoping it worked!

I started my Progesterone injections on Friday, and boy, do I NOT miss these things. The shot itself isn't so bad, but the welt and/or bruise that follows is, quite literally, a pain in the ass. I try to at least smile while I'm complaining about them to my hubby--lest I forget what a struggle it was just to get to this point. I'm grateful for my now daily shot in the butt.

On the single vs. double embryo transfer conundrum, we decided to stick with the advice of our doctor and only transfer one embryo. He felt very confident that these embies are great quality, and he said we should feel confident that a single embryo transfer is the right decision. We figured, we pay him the big bucks to give us this advice; we'd probably be crazy not to take it.

Now, we're left with one more decision to make... a BIG one. Do we choose the gender? 

Because we did PGD testing, we have the amazing benefit of knowing what gender our embryos are. We have 3 boys and 2 girls, and we can choose which gender we want to transfer. We currently have one daughter and would LOVE to be able to add a boy to our family, but is it creepy that we're making this decision? 

Right now, we're leaning toward choosing the boy. I'm sure there will be those who have concerns about how this choice is somehow unethical or taking God even further out of the equation--I've heard many of these arguments over the years. But, after all we have to go through during the IVF process and after everything that absolutely sucks about infertility, we would be crazy to not take advantage of the one benefit we have. 

We have to call our nurse with our final instructions tomorrow, and I think one beautiful boy embryo will be our decision. 

 
 
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Hip, hip, hooray! The results of our PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) testing are in! Of the eight embryos that made it to Day 6, FIVE of them were genetically and chromosomally normal! This is fantastic news, and it means we now have five more attempts at making baby #2 a reality.

We have a big decision to make over the next few days. We were pretty set on transferring two embryos during this FET cycle given my history of failed cycles. However, our RE is recommending that we only put one embryo back. Because it was confirmed to be a "normal" embryo, there is really no increase in success rates if we put two back. The only thing we are increasing is our risk of having twins. 

I'm hesitant, but I think we might be leaning toward a single-embryo transfer. Twins would be a lot of fun, but I don't know if we're really financially, physically, and emotionally prepared for the whirlwind that comes along with two newborns (plus our diva 3-year-old). And there's so many more complications that can arise from a twin pregnancy... I think we are going to listen to our RE and do what he thinks is best.

I'm really getting excited now, knowing that we made it through so many hurdles. Tomorrow morning I have another ultrasound to check my lining. Fingers crossed we'll be starting those awful Progesterone shots soon!

 
 
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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?

 

    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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