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.


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. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Starting another 2ww

A quick update...

We transferred our last XX embryo today. It was only a 3BC when the clinic graded it this morning, but two hours later at transfer time it had expanded to a 5BB (5 measures its progress/growth, B is the quality of the inner cell mass, and B is the quality of the trophectoderm that forms the placenta. We were initially disappointed to hear the embryo was so far behind the other embryos we transferred (last one was fully hatched), so it was a huge relief to hear it was doing so well.

I did an intralipid infusion last Friday, just to cover our bases, and as I mentioned in my last post, my RE did an endometrial scratch for me a month ago.

Our transfer for C was 4/6/12. Hopefully we'll be able to say his sister's transfer date was 4/8/14.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Not that horse...

(Subject is a reference to my last post, Back on the Horse.)

Sorry for the delay. The last FET didn't work - BFN (beta was 2, so annoyingly my RE had me do a second beta to make sure it didn't rise). So we only have one XX embryo left.

High stakes.  We console ourselves with the thought that very few people know ahead of time the sex of their baby. But oh, we'd so like to have a little girl. I even bought a few little girl clothes when I was pregnant in the fall...

We're doing everything we can - we convinced my RE to do an endometrial scratch - he usually only does them as part of retrieval (since transfers at his clinic are all FETs due to CGH) and thus not for later FETs or donor recipients. But he did it for me (under sedation). Maybe he'll start doing it regularly - the way we managed our donor cycle changed the way the clinic handles all patients: CGH screening, and single embryo transfers of normal embryos.

Last cycle my immunology results came back normal so we didn't do an intralipid. This time, we're doing an intralipid regardless - that's scheduled for next Friday.

I had the scratch on March 8. The FET is scheduled for April 8. I started estradiol last Friday. DH is traveling again, but this time he's only missing two shots. Last cycle he was gone until the night before transfer, so I did nearly all of my estradiol and progesterone IM shots myself.

It took 3 transfers of perfect embryos to get pregnant with C. My RE says this third one will work. I'm scared the pregnancy in the fall was the one of three that worked...


I'm generally not all that focused on this FET, however. It's the subject of late night conversations in bed before we go to sleep, but my days are filled with C.

He's a joy. He's a solid walker - in the past few days he's started walking like an adult, with his legs under him, instead of toddling with a wide stance. He has a few words now. 'Nana' for banana, and 'cheeeeze' for cheese. He still doesn't say Mama or Dada with intent, although occasionally when he's annoyed he'll converse with himself and I often hear 'mama' in those diatribes. New signs are 'music' and 'up'. I sing him the alphabet song after we read books before nap and bedtime, and after we're done with books he signs for 'music' so I sing. He really loves music - as soon as he's up in the morning he'll ask for music to be turned on. At the playground he's much more active - clambers up steps in the climbing structure and knows how to hold onto railings while he climbs. He doesn't like slides - hasn't figured out how to stay sitting while sliding down, but enjoys swings as long as it's not too high.

He's still not eating meat, except in combination with other things (ham in beans, or chicken in soup). He loves beans and rice. We moved off thinkbaby sippy cup tops and are now on straw bottles. He's not very good with an open cup but I'm trying to mix it in so he gets practice. He's great with a fork, but not so hot with a spoon unless I'm helping.

I'm solo parenting for the next 5 days, so wish me luck. :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back on the horse

As the title suggests, we're back in the process of fighting to have a second child. We transferred a 6AB embryo on Sunday. It feels very abstract. I think I try to stay removed from the 2ww to protect myself.

For the first time ever, my immunology results came back normal, so I haven't done intralipids (this makes me slightly nervous). If I get a BFP, we'll retest and if my levels have increased, I'll do intralipids every 2-3 weeks until 11 weeks when we test again.

The miscarriage in November was awful. It took two doses of misoprostol and then a minor D&C to finally clear everything out, and that wasn't complete until December 4. It was such a relief when my beta finally got down to near-zero.

I managed to have a mammogram in mid-January - my last one was in January 2010, before starting IVF, and then each following year I was either in cycle, or pregnant, or breastfeeding.  They called me back a week later to have more images taken, and found new calcifications and a cyst on one side, so I had two biopsies done (not very painful, but quite traumatic) which thankfully came back negative. It was very stressful, both due to the worry about cancerous or precancerous findings, but also because I was about to start meds for the FET and it would have been postponed while we dealt with surgery. But all worked out ok and now I have a new baseline mammogram and a titanium marker in one breast so they know where they removed the sample next time. And I go back next January for another mammogram, even if I'm breastfeeding.

The rest of this post will be about C, so feel free to skip if you're not in that place right now...

On December 18 my beautiful boy turned 1 - we celebrated with family on Saturday, December 21. Note to self - in the future celebrate his birthday early, not late - I felt like I did nothing but cook and clean from December 20 through Christmas Day (which we hosted). On his 1 year birthday he dropped to one nap. On December 19, his 16th tooth came in!

He's now getting close to 14 months. He's walking, though he'll drop to a crawl for long distances. He signs 'more', 'all done', 'milk', 'water', 'food', and his favorite, 'book'. (He's even combined them into 'more' 'book'.) Now I'm learning more signs so I can teach them to him. He talks all the time, but with words only he can understand. He does say 'ba' for ball. He says something like 'babuba' for blueberries, which he loves. Mimics other words like 'baby' and 'mama' and 'dada' but understands an awful lot. He enjoys closing drawers and doors for me. Stacks blocks and rings and frequently brings me books to read for him. He knows his nose and ears and head and mouth and bellybutton, and will (often) give kisses, hugs and cuddles. He just learned how to blow a kiss.

He's a fantastic sleeper, and yes, I know how lucky I am. He sleeps from 6:30pm to sometime between 7 and 7:30am, and takes a 1.5-2 hour nap between noon and 2.

We've continued with baby led weaning. He gets 2 bottles a day (thinkbaby bottles with sippy tops) of 7oz each, and usually drinks 5-7oz of each, plus a small bedtime bottle that he usually refuses and we're shrinking gradually. He's currently refusing all meat, so toast + nut butter or toast + hummus, or pancakes made with full-fat yogurt are all in heavy rotation. He does like cheese, and loves fruit and veggies. And he's great at drinking water, which is good because he's had a cold for the past 4-5 weeks (more than one, obviously).

He keeps getting more and more fun. It's exhausting, particularly when my husband goes away for a 10 day business trip and C and I both get sick, but he's wonderful.

Thinking of all my tweeps in the 2ww and fighting infertility.