IVF Update: Transfer #2 and Beyond
So I know it’s been a HOT minute since I updated you guys, and it's going to take a couple of days, but I’m finally ready to break it all down for you. It’s been an insane couple of months. On top of all the IVF treatments, check ups, and procedures, Shawn got a promotion at work that will allow him to work from home for large parts of the year. Although our dream is to eventually buy our forever home in Colorado, the housing market is chaotic right now, and it just doesn’t make sense for us to buy at the moment. That being said, we made the decision to move back to our home in Georgia for a while before deciding if we want to sell or not. We are currently on the road, AGAIN, driving across the country. I know. It’s only the third time we’ve made the drive from coast to coast this year. Yes, I am over it. However, the timing is perfect, since we get to be home for Christmas, see family, and reconnect with all of our friends back East. We are both looking forward to settling, at least for a while, back in our home state!
Anyways, let’s get down to business. Following my last post, I continued on with my estrogen pills and regular monitoring appointments until it was determined that I was ready to begin progesterone injections on October 20. I did these injections every night through the day of transfer on the 25th. After the transfer, I would continue these nightly injections for the nine days leading into my pregnancy test, and if it came back positive, I would continue them through 8 weeks of pregnancy. That's a shit ton of shots.
On October 25th, I got up, went to the gym, and did some upper body lifting, ate a big breakfast, and then went to a park for a 3 mile walk with my dog and sister (who happened to be in town at the time). The doctor had me insert a progesterone suppository two hours ahead of the transfer (this is a difference from last transfer). It was meant to act as like a booster of sorts (on top of the nightly injections) to make sure my body had enough progesterone to support an early pregnancy. I was also not prescribed the Xanax this time like I was last time. For me, it really wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t seem to miss it. We also eliminated the steroid, antihistamine, antibiotics, and Pepcid that I took last time, THANK GOD. Less was truly more this time around, and I was happy to be taking WAY fewer pills.
Shawn and I arrived at the fertility center at 2:30 on October 25th for my 2:45 transfer slot with Dr. Kaser. Everything went smoothly. Bladder was full, but not overly full like last time, so I wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable. We were able to see the tiny embryo being placed, on the ultrasound screen, like last time, which looks like a little flash of light coming out of the end of the catheter and settling inside my uterus. They even had a really awesome picture of our little "bean," which became it's nickname for the time being (since we had planned to keep the sex a secret), for us to take home
My instructions were to take it easy for the next 3 days before slowly easing back into exercise. Dr. Kaser asked that I monitor my heart rate, and keep it below 140bpm until the pregnancy test nine days later. Other instructions for the nine day wait are to act like you’re pregnant- no alcohol, drugs, over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, and limit caffeine intake. I was also restricted from submerging in water (no baths or swimming) and intercourse for that time period.
The rest of the day following transfer and the day after, I basically just laid around, watched tv shows, read books, and took naps. I was VERY conscious of my nutrition, especially having recently re-read Real Food For Pregnancy and knowing that if I was pregnant, everything that I was putting in my body was going to my potential baby. Lots of veggies, protein, and healthy fats were had. I’ve literally been on a prenatal for 2.5 years, so that’s a given at this point. I take Thorne prenatal vitamins, by the way, excellent quality, although taking 3 giant pills a day SUCKS. I have also added Nordic Naturals prenatal DHA and I take 4000 IU of vitamin D daily.
Three days after transfer, I started to slowly add back in exercise, with the heart rate monitoring, as suggested. The first day, I walked for 35 minutes. I added in some yoga along with the walking the next day. I continued with cardio and yoga only for the next few days. Then by day eight, I began to add in some light weights, which I would increase over the coming days. My whole mantra during this period was to listen to my body and do what felt right. Sometimes my body felt ok doing a little more, and sometimes it told me I needed to chill the ef out. I listened every time. I feel like that helped remove some of the stress and allowed me to exercise without overdoing it.
On November 3, it was finally day nine- pregnancy test day. I honestly felt pretty much the same as I did last time, in the sense that I had zero pregnancy symptoms, and couldn’t really imagine that I could actually be pregnant. I did wake up that morning at like 3am anxious as hell, having to pee, and couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed to go. I started thinking that I wanted to take a home test just to see. I had bought a few tests off Amazon a few days earlier, because I thought I might end up wanting to test. I went back and forth about it, because my friend who has been through IVF twice and now works for her clinic told me not to because of the risks for false positive/negative and the stress it can create. Last time, I didn’t test. And to tell you the truth, I really wanted this time to be different in every way possible.
So I laid in bed, unable to go back to sleep, saving up my pee, in case MAYBE I wanted to test. A thousand thoughts went through my head, rendering my body incapable of falling back asleep. What if I test and it’s positive and then the blood test comes back negative? Or, what if I take the test and it’s negative? I’ll feel totally crushed. But I also don’t really want to go get the blood work and then have to wait all day for the call from my doctor, sitting there wondering the whole time. What if I’m actually pregnant? I’ve spent all this time trying so hard to get to this point and now I’m nervous about it! I have zero symptoms right now; will I get them eventually? Will I have a tough pregnancy? I mean it was endless. I promise there were good thoughts too. There are things that I am so excited to see one day as well, like Shawn as a Dad. He's always so great with my niece, and I really think that he will be the absolute greatest father. I can’t wait to take our kid to sports, teach them the importance of good nutrition and exercise, teach them to cook, watch them learn to read and write, and probably grow to be way smarter than Shawn and me. I mean so many things.
After tossing and turning for over an hour, I finally just got out of bed around 4:30am (Shawn was still fast asleep- MUST BE NICE). I walked into the bathroom, unwrapped the test, peed on it, and waited. After a couple of minutes, I peered over and saw the word PREGNANT flash across the test window.
I thought for sure I had just missed the word NOT listed above it so I picked it up and turned it all sorts of ways to make sure it wasn’t there, and then my heart started fucking RACING. Holy shit, is this the real fucking deal? This had never happened to me before. It was literally my first positive test EVER.
I went in to the bedroom and turned on the light to wake Shawn up. I showed him the test and said, "hey, look." Having been woken up from a dead sleep he had no clue what the fuck was going on and asked me what it was and what it said. Apparently, in his grogginess, he thought I was holding up a thermometer. Cool. After coming to terms with the fact that this dude was clueless, I finally said, “It says I’m pregnant.” His response was, “I thought you weren’t supposed to take a test.”
Ok, so I had done some Redditing at this point to figure out if it was a good idea or not to take a test. Some people will test every single day following transfer, with one of those line tests, to see if the line darkens over the wait period. That’s extreme for me. I really wanted to see when people seemed to get a reliable test following the transfer. The majority of people had said day 8 or 9. I also read that the false positives generally only happen during a fresh transfer cycle where you had been on the stim meds relatively recently or received a trigger shot that could still be in your system and could register as a pregnancy on the test. I was doing a frozen transfer cycle and hadn’t received a trigger shot in a couple of months, so I felt pretty safe on that front. Ultimately, I decided the test should be pretty accurate by this point, nine days after transfer.
Regardless, I was feeling no different than I normally do, so I still wanted the confirmation of a blood test. We got ready, drove to San Francisco, and had my bloodwork taken. Last time, it took until maybe 1:30pm to get the call from my doctor that the pregnancy test came back negative, so I tried to keep myself busy that day to not think about it so much, but honestly, it’s all you fucking think about until that call comes in.
LUCKILY, my doctor is a fucking saint, and he and my nurse called me at like 10am that morning. He said, “I’m not sure if I’m letting you in on some new news, but you’re pregnant!” I was so ecstatic. I mean, it was the exact confirmation I was looking for. He also told me my HCG level was 183. They typically look for the number to be above 50, and if it’s above 100, then it’s a strong test. That made me feel even better! That was a super solid number! They scheduled me for a second beta test to recheck my HCG level- this time looking for it to double- 48 hours later. I was instructed to continue my nightly progesterone injections and three times per day estrogen pills through week 8 of pregnancy.
Two days later, on November 5, I had bloodwork done again. This time, my HCG came back at 362, which was perfectly on target for where it should be. At this point, I was informed that I was four weeks and two days pregnant, and we were able to schedule my first ultrasound for November 23rd. It finally started to sink in that Shawn and I were going to be parents…kind of.
Funny thing with undergoing the trauma of IVF, and really just failure after failure after failure during fertility struggles, it becomes infinitely more difficult to accept or believe the successes. Even though it seemed like a pretty big milestone to get to this point, I still felt like there were a million other hurdles that would have to be tackled before we could actually breathe. Then I started trying to convince myself that I would feel more comfortable after the first ultrasound, then it was once I heard the heartbeat, then it was once we get to the next ultrasound, then it was once we get through the first trimester, I mean, it’s never ending!
Even though I was so nervous that things wouldn’t work out, and every cramp or abdominal twinge surely meant something was wrong, day after day went by, and things continued to be ok. I tested two more times over the next couple of weeks just to give myself some peace of mind. It helped...a little. I gradually eased back into an exercise routine. I continued with the cardio and yoga, and added in more and more lifting, and began increasing my weights again. I continued coaching at Diablo, and loved every minute of connecting with the members. Our friends came to visit and we traveled to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, and we went to Napa for brunch and wine tasting (that I sat out of but still enjoyed). Time passed and things continued to go really well!
Then, week six (on the dot), I was hit with nausea and fatigue like I NEVER knew before. That tiny little bean that had been chilling like a freaking villain for the past few weeks, decided to wake up and wreak absolute havoc on my body. I didn’t throw up, but I had zero appetite, and NOTHING sounded good to eat. I am HUGE on vegetables. Like give me a salad every day and I’m happy. I cook almost every single day and night, and I eat at least one (usually multiple) vegetable(s) with EVERY meal, including first thing in the morning. Week six of pregnancy? No ma’am. Not happening. I couldn’t even THINK about a vegetable, let alone a freaking salad. I also lost my ability to drink my morning coffee. I tried for a while and found myself taking one sip and then setting it to the side. I couldn’t drink anything other than water in fact, and even chocolate turned my stomach in knots. CHOCOLATE! ME! I love sweets, but I wanted nothing to do with them. Honestly, the only thing that made me feel better was napping. And I was CONSTANTLY exhausted, so naps happened very regularly. Although it was ROUGH, and still is some days, it made me feel like I was finally experiencing some symptoms.
I stepped on the scale during week 7, and I had lost seven pounds. This was TOTALLY unintentional. To be honest, I was feeling bloated and had thought I was gaining weight already. I was even eating Chick-fil-a a couple of times a week (more than I had in YEARS), because it was the ONLY thing that felt remotely edible (although counterintuitive to everything I believe), but I needed some calories. Anyways, I read, and then confirmed, with my doctor that it’s actually a good sign for the pregnancy when you experience nausea. He said as long as I didn't continue to lose weight, and I was able to stay hydrated, everything was fine. It made me feel like maybe this thing would really work out. So I gritted my teeth, tried to nap as often as I could so I didn't think about how shitty I was feeling, and started to think about birthing this tiny human.
You guys, we were finally cooking up a baby Wassy! Also, check out the best future brother EVER:
He's very pumped.
TO BE CONTINUED