Monday, June 8, 2015

Half way!

Not many people read this blog anymore, but a few do (hi, J!) so I wanted to update...

Even though I don't believe it's accurate to say 20 weeks is halfway through a pregnancy (since transfer is just before 3 weeks in), we have hit that milestone! In fact, we're 21 weeks tomorrow.

We had our anatomy scan a week ago and everything looks great. Our surrogate is feeling good, and hasn't had any issues.

I'm in my third month of taking the pill, in preparation for inducing lactation. I'll start pumping in September, about 6 weeks before the baby is due.  In late May, I realized it was 5 months to the baby, and 3 months until I start pumping., which feel like a long time. But with a surrogate, the time passes quickly, and we have a busy summer ahead.

DH and I took a nice trip to Europe, without C, and it was nice to be able to drink wine. (I have to take those silver linings wherever I can, man...) It'll be our last trip solo for quite awhile, though we have travel plans with C this summer.

And now we wait!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Empathy

If you read my last update in November, you might remember the "however"...

Yesterday, DH and I drove two hours to the office of an ob I'd never met before to see an ultrasound of a perfect embryo with a perfect heartbeat. Our surrogate is pregnant. Our due date is October 20.

We transferred a single embryo on February 2. 9 days after the 6 day transfer, her beta was 234 (she'd POAS the afternoon before and got a good line, and had a crazy strong line the morning of the beta). Betas have been climbing appropriately and she's been nauseous and tired. But it was still nerve-wracking to be in the room holding my breath for the ob to get a clear ultrasound picture.

There's no reason to believe there will be any problems, and every reason to believe we'll have smooth sailing, but almost 8 years of dealing with infertility and 2 miscarriages for unknown reasons have a way of keeping us unsettled. Once we get through the NT scan, I think I'll be less on edge and more willing to truly believe we'll have a baby this year.

I have a lot of empathy for my husband, and husbands generally. I really feel like I understand what it's like to be the husband: I know intellectually that we're expecting, but it's completely abstract and will be for quite awhile.

It's hard not to tell everyone - we previously decided to wait until the NT scan to tell our families and so far are sticking to that. A handful of people in real life know, but it's awfully nice to be able to share the news and updates on twitter (and here, though I don't expect I'll be blogging all that regularly about it). I experimented today with telling strangers that we're expecting a baby via surrogacy, and it was oddly fun. Lots of curious questions, but the reaction is generally positive and enthusiastic. The only awkward part about telling our families will be that both my mother and my MIL offered to be our surrogate when we were trying to have C (and didn't need a surrogate), so that may lead to some interesting comments/conversations (they're both in their late 60's, so easy to just refer to medical advice.) And I can only imagine my grandmother's reaction (she doesn't filter, and she's religious, anti-doctor, etc.) so we'll be waiting awhile for that one.

I'm planning to induce lactation, and will be starting that process pretty soon. I have my yearly mammogram this week, and my annual exam in April, but will talk to my lactation consultant about getting on the pill soon (I'll likely be following the Newman-Goldfarb protocol since I have plenty of advance notice.)

Time is passing very quickly. Life is busy - C turned 2 in December and is a marvelous creature. He's incredibly verbal, loves to sing and dance (his particular favorite for dancing is what he calls "The Jump Song", which the rest of us know as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and his favorite for singing is "Two Little Kitty Cats" which he learned at Music Together, though he's mostly memorized "Do-Re-Mi" from the Sound of Music), is funny and stubborn and loving and will ask to read books all day long (mostly about construction equipment). I can't wait to find out what his brother will be like.




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Books about egg donation

I've wanted to do this post since 2012 when we found our egg donor and I started collecting children's books about egg donation.  I have a similar post with books about surrogacy in the works, and in fact started collecting those books at the time same based on a conversation with a psychologist (required by my clinic) who suggested having an array of books about different ways families are made, not just egg donation. So include books about adoption, surrogacy, sperm donor, egg donor, two dads, two moms, etc. to illustrate all the ways people build families.

This post starts with the egg donation books, but I'm also including some more general assisted reproduction books at the bottom.



Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big



Recommended. Hardcover. Boy baby. This is my favorite of the egg donation books. The language is simple and straightforward. It addresses the sadness of not being able to have a baby. The donor is referred to as a "special lady (a donor)" initially, and then as the "donor" later. It talks about "Daddy's cells together with the donor's egg". It doesn't explain uterus vs. tummy, and uses 'tummy' or 'body' throughout. The illustrations are simple but cute. It's not at all religious.  My son asks for this book.



A Part was Given and an Angel was Born




Hardcover. Girl baby. The rhyming is overly cute and a little strained, but works well enough for reading aloud. The illustrations are cartoony. The story addresses the sadness of not having a baby. The book refers to the baby being in the tummy and is not at all specific about what's getting donated; "there was a part in Mommy that just didn't work as it should." The illustrations that go with the "part" section are likely to be confusing to an older child - one has a Classifieds page in the newspaper with "parts for sale: Auto, Body, Baby, Home" and another shows a box of "spare parts" that has safety pins, screws and nuts. Despite the title, and a later reference to 'angel', the book is not at all religious. There is a blank page at the back labeled "to baby" if you wish to add personal notes. It's not my favorite book, but I keep it in the rotation.



How We Became a Family (Egg Donor, Singleton version)




Recommended. Hardcover. Baby is not gender-specific.The illustrations are much more conceptual than in other books and less kid-friendly/more sophisticated. The couple is portrayed as two birds. One thing I like is the book describes the couple as a family of two, and that they wanted to grow to be a family with children.  It addresses that they were sad about not being able to have a baby. The book is factual about baby-making requiring "an egg, seeds (sperm), and a nest (uterus)" and the illustrations show the correct anatomical terms (in small type so it's easy to skip or not, depending on your preference and the age of your child, and these illustrations show people, not birds). The book talks about sperm donors and egg donors and defines them as "people who want to help other people build families". There's one page that talks about the egg being fertilized and defines "zygote" and "embryo". Not at all religious. It's a sweet book, but the illustration style and the detail in the text suggest it's better for an older child. There is a blank page to fill in birth details.



One More Giraffe



Baby is a giraffe, so not gender specific. I have an earlier version of this book (softcover instead of a board book) so I will update this review when the new version arrives. This book is very simple. It defines a family as including children. It addresses the sadness of not being able to have a baby. It's very general about the donor: "a kind lady giraffe who wanted to help them. She gave them a very special gift." The gift is shown as a wrapped box with a ribbon, and the text explains that a doctor helped them with the gift. It's such a simple book that it barely introduces the concept of a donor, so I wouldn't recommend it as an only purchase. It could be a good companion for a more detailed book for a very young child. Not religious at all.



The Pea That Was Me (An Egg Donation Story)




Softcover. Baby is not gender specific. This book is straightforward about eggs + sperm, which is sort of funny since the baby is shown as a pea in a peapod, and the embryo is described as a pea (the word 'embryo' is not used). It also refers to the baby growing inside of mommy's tummy. The book doesn't use the term 'donor' and instead refers to 'a very kind lady who had lots of extra eggs. There is a blank page in the back to fill in with the baby's story. The illustrations are crude but cute, and the tone of the text is cute (if you're ok with an embryo being referred to as a pea). Not religious at all.



A Tiny Itsy Bitsy Gift of Life (An Egg Donor Story)




Softcover. Baby is a girl named Nicasha (and she's a rabbit. :) This book talks about tiny itsy bitsy seeds from the mummy and daddy. The donor is referred to as "a lady rabbit" who has "lots of tiny itsy bitsy seeds". It talks about putting the seeds in the mother's tummy so they can grow. Doctors are never mentioned.  I find this book strange - it talks about putting the two seeds together to make a baby bunny, like a cookie where two halves make one, which makes no sense. It does address the sadness about not being able to have a baby.



Books about ART


Recipes of How Babies are Made



Recommended. Softcover. This book compares babies to cakes  - that with ingredients + a place to bake, you can get a baby similarly to how you get a cake. It talks about egg and sperm, which go in a woman's tummy. It later describes a woman's tummy as a womb, which may be a problem if you're trying to be precise with anatomy for your child. The illustrations are realistic but not graphic, although there is full frontal nudity. The book then steps through what happens if an ingredient is missing and what the variations are: natural conception, in vitro, sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, surrogacy, and adoption. It does address sadness about not being able to have a baby. There's also a page about families being different, referring to varying numbers of kids (or no kids), divorce/remarriage, one parent/two parents, etc. The illustrations are cute and the text is straightforward and educational.



I loVe my Family (a book about assisted conception for young children)



Softcover. This book focuses on IVF. It talks about putting an ovum together with a sperm and forming a "super cell" called an embryo which gets put in a uterus. There are some guidelines for parents about how to talk to children about their conception, and also some suggestions for how to use the book to discuss egg/sperm donation or surrogacy. There are some coloring pages in the back with some discussion tips on love, hope, wishes, and family. The illustrations are crude, and don't follow one family through the book, but rather show a variety of couples and kids of various ethnicities. Not at all religious.



If you have suggestions for other books that I should review, please leave a comment.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

I'm still here

The last time I blogged was right after our miscarriage in the spring - the second since we started trying for a sibling for C, and the end of our chances of having a girl - all our remaining embryos are male.

My husband was ready to call it quits. The miscarriages are so hard, and losing our last girl, after everything looked like it was going to be a smooth pregnancy, was just devastating.

We have no answers as to what caused that miscarriage. According to my RE, the chances of a miscarriage with a CGH-tested normal embryo is 1 in 12. So the chance of it happening twice is about 0.5%. Not impossible, but very unlikely. The normal ultrasound showed no signs of a SCH, and it was a sudden, spontaneous miscarriage. It's possible the same underlying cause affected both this pregnancy and the one last fall, or maybe the one last fall was purely due to the SCH and this one was different. Either way, we were dealing with complications beyond what we'd had to deal with to conceive and birth C.

I wanted to try one more pregnancy - to treat everything prophylactically, and see if we could sustain a pregnancy. If the answer was no, then it was clear we'd reached the end of current medical science. We finally agreed to do another FET, and timed it for mid-September, giving us a chance for a much needed vacation in late August (we left C with my mom for 8 days, which went really well).

I started low dose antibiotics at the recommendation of my ob/gyn, who has found that a long course of low dose antibiotics can help with recurrent pregnancy loss.  We did an endometrial scratch 4 weeks before transfer. We did an intralipid infusion before transfer.

We transferred one CGH-normal embryo on September 13. I had pregnancy symptoms almost  immediately, but when I POAS 8 days after transfer, it initially looked like a complete negative, and a few hours later had a faint, faint line (with a FRER, which don't show evaporation lines in my experience). Sure enough, beta was 8, and two days later was zero. So we had implantation, but it didn't stick.

Having a beta limbo sucked - I knew it was declining: based on my strong early symptoms I knew the beta would have been higher if it had been measured earlier, and I was ready to be done. This was our 10th transfer. #1 and #2 resulted in miscarriages, #3,4 and 5 were BFNs. #6 resulted in C. #7 resulted in a miscarriage. #8 was a BFN (technically it might have been a chemical), #9 was a miscarriage (and our last chance at a girl) and #10 was a chemical.

I had had the idea that we'd try one more pregnancy, not one more cycle, but I was ready to be done. (And DH only had the idea we'd do one more cycle, so he was worried that with a negative I'd push for another, but was definitely ready to be done.) For 7 years we've been focused on getting pregnant. And we have our fantastic son C. And I got to be pregnant (and loved it). So declaring that we were done with injections and transfers and 2ww's and endometrial scratches and hormone swings was a relief.

However.

After the last miscarriage, DH was ready to be done. As in stop cycling, no more kids, call it quits. But he had some conversations with friends, and he and I had some conversations, and we both got comfortable with the idea of surrogacy. Don't get me wrong, I grieve the loss of being pregnant again, and being able to epigenetically affect my baby during pregnancy. But between the choice of no more kids, or surrogacy, we choose surrogacy.

So after the last cycle failed, we've moved quickly. We signed with an agency in late October, and are meeting a potential surrogate tomorrow (!!). Since we have embryos, we could potentially transfer in as little as 2 months, so could be January sometime.  We'll transfer one at a time, but hopefully around the end of 2015/early 2016, we could be bringing home another baby.

It feels weirdly transactional, and at least right now I don't feel nearly as emotionally invested as I did when cycling myself. I think some of that is because we have C, so the stakes are lower. If instead of doing donor eggs, we'd had to do surrogacy for C, the stakes would have been incredibly high.

There are some silver linings. I have my body back, and after weaning, four transfers, and two miscarriages, it's nice to be able to exercise freely and fit into old clothes. No injections is great, and no monitoring appointments, etc. I intend to induce lactation so I can breastfeed, and hopefully having successfully breastfed C will increase my chances of success (if anyone has a killer lactation consultant in Northern California with experience in inducing lactation, I'd love the contact info).

When we first started trying to have kids, back in 2007, I would never have anticipated getting to this point. But we decided having a child was important enough to us that we chose to use donor eggs. And that was a great experience and hasn't colored my relationship with C in the slightest. And we've decided having another child was important enough to us that we're choosing to use a surrogate with our donor egg embryos. And I'm confident that if we'll have no regrets.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Not only lightning strikes twice

I thought only lightning strikes twice. I was wrong.

Yesterday afternoon I had what felt like a tummyache. I went to the bathroom and felt constipated, and when I wiped, there was fresh blood. I rested on the couch and called my husband to come home from work early so he could take care of C and put him to bed. Over the course of the next few hours I passed blood and clots - probably about 4 tablespoons worth. It was frighteningly similar to the bleeding in the fall, and we were pretty sure we knew how this would end.

Woke up this morning and didn't have any bleeding, but still felt crampy. I had about 5% hope that the bleeding all came from my cervix, since I'd had the good ultrasound last Thursday that showed no signs of a bleed. Went in for an ultrasound this morning, and it's clear the pregnancy is over. It looks like there's a lot of blood and clots still to come, but there's no visible gestational sac. No hematomas, though (which we believe to be the cause of the bleeding and miscarriage in the fall).

Our last girl, gone, in a blink of an eye. We're devastated. We were so joyful and optimistic about this pregnancy, and this happened out of nowhere. DH isn't sure he wants to continue trying to add to our family. I definitely understand where he's coming from - it's not the right time to make any decisions about this, but we have C, and it's so so painful to deal with loss after loss, when we've done everything we can to make sure all possible variables have been removed.

The universe sucks.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quick update - 5.5 weeks

Beta on Wednesday was 4157, which floored me. Our doubling time is about 26-27 hours. We didn't get the number until Thursday morning, so I was awfully curious what I'd see at the Thursday ultrasound. (Of course on the way to the ultrasound, NPR was airing a show about raising identical twins... hee!)

Thankfully, we saw one (phew!) perfect gestational sac. And no signs of any bleeds. Too early for a heartbeat - our next scan is May 5, when I'll be 6w5d and should definitely see a heartbeat.

We retested my immunology (NK and TH1:TH2) and they all came back normal, so no intralipids, and no more retesting. I just do another beta/progesterone/CBC this week, and then progesterone/CBC afterwards until 12 weeks.

I'm frequently queasy - mostly at night when I'm reading in bed, but also sometimes when I'm driving in the car. My theory is I actually have low-level queasiness pretty frequently, but life is distracting at other times, so I don't really notice. I'm sleeping very soundly. And my breasts are getting a little bigger - I swear sometimes I can feel them grow.

We went ahead and told our parents and a few close friends. C will just be 2 when his little sister is born, so I'm guessing he won't understand anything I try to explain until the fall. He generally has extremely good comprehension of things we say - for at least a month he's followed instructions like 'please put that back in the drawer' or 'please put your pajamas in the laundry basket', but this is a little more abstract. ;)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Whoa Nelly!

We're pregnant! Beta #2 was today. It tripled from 211 on Friday (10dp6dt) to 644 today (12dp6dt). 

She implanted quickly - I didn't feel implantation but started having symptoms within 48 hours of transfer. And then spent the next week hoping I wasn't being too optimistic. I POASed on Wednesday (and freaked myself out by not waiting 3 minutes to look - you'd think I'd know better by now...) For the math to work out I had to be producing HCG pretty quickly. 

I have an early ultrasound scheduled for Thursday  so we can look for any signs of a potential bleed. 

Her due date is 12/24 - two days after C's due date (though his birthday is 12/18). Conveniently that means my maternity clothes are all the right season, as are the hand me downs. And I guess we'll be experts at how to handle Christmas birthdays...

Next hurdle - hoping for no signs of a bleed when we look on Thursday. I didn't think there'd be anything to see, but our betas will be over 2000 by then so we should see a gestational sac. I'll schedule the first regular ultrasound for the first week in May when we hope to see the heartbeat.