Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Working on (?Past) The Anxiety

I started to realize a couple of days ago that anxiety was taking over. That this wasn't normal newly-pregnant-woman nerves. I mean, anyone would worry with low betas. But I was spending entire days with a boulder in my stomach. I was making myself and my child pretty unhappy.

So yesterday I worked out in the morning so as to make sure I'd have time to do prenatal yoga with meditation in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my current child decided not to nap, so my meditation "practice" was accomplished with an almost three year old hanging off my body. And then I had further snafus with trying to get an ultrasound scheduled locally. And had to spend ever more time on the phone.

But it was a start. And last night, by the time I got Calliope into bed, I was exhausted. I ate a bit more food and then fell into bed at 8:30 pm. And turned out the light at 9 pm. Approximately three hours earlier than normal!

So it could be a fluke, but maybe this is one more sign of pregnancy?

I also seem to be more sensitive to smells. Not to the point of nausea; I'm just noticing a lot more smells in the world. And my nipples are sore. And my digestion seems off -- food seems to sit more heavily in my stomach.

All potentially suggestive of pregnancy... but not guarantees. I sure wish I had catologued all these things with the first pregnancy... but I was too nervous to blog until my pregnancy was well underway.

First sonogram is scheduled for this Friday, two days away. I'll be five weeks and six days. I'm not obsessing about it yet, so that's progress.

I also went for acupuncture this morning for the first time in a month or more, so perhaps that's helping.

For now, I'm focusing on being very much attached to this pregnancy... but not yet allowing myself to become attached to the idea of a baby.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ever More Anxiety

Thanks for all the lovely and supportive comments.

I must admit that Gwinne's comments threw me into another bout of anxiety. And so now I'm second guessing my decision. And I'm leaning towards going for an ultrasound later this week to look for a gestational sack (I'm 5w2d right now, but with low betas, I think it's still quite possible that nothing is visible yet.)

What's hard with low betas is that the absence of a sack right now MIGHT be meaningful... or it might not.

(Please, please, don't offer anything other than encouragement right now. My fragile psyche can't handle any more scary ideas.)

What I really wish, I guess, is that I could figure out a way to just chill the f*ck out, regardless. I thought I had that covered when I got my beta results on Friday. I was just reveling in that number. But here I am, back in the mosh pit of anxiety. All over again.

And truthfully... will I feel better after I see a heartbeat? Or will I start to freak out again a couple of days later? I don't think I will, but... welcome to the 35ww, indeed!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Final Beta

I went for my fourth and final beta two days ago, on Friday.

I took another of the super cheap pregnancy tests that morning, and the line didn't seem any darker, so I wasn't all that optimistic that my beta HCG had gone up enough. Plus, a fellow SMC had emailed me to suggest that I not get my hopes up -- she'd had multiple chemical pregnancies, and when others offered hope, it made her feel worse in the long run. Granted, her betas had never doubled like mine had, but she felt like very low betas like mine typically double much more quickly in those rare instances when they turned into viable pregnancies. So she wasn't optimistic for me. This was gut wrenching to contemplate.

So... my beta went from 56 on Wednesday to 136 on Friday!!!

The nurse sounded downright jubilant on the phone as she announced, "You are definitely pregnant!"

I could hardly breathe; I was so relieved.

I know I'm not out of the woods yet; I need to see a heartbeat before I can start thinking about an actual baby resulting from this craziness. But for now, I can imagine a successful pregnancy. And that's a beautiful image to envision.

On the advice of other SMC's, I'm not taking the nurse's advice to come in this week, at five and a half weeks, for an ultrasound to look for the gestational sack. I know that especially with low betas, it's possible that there won't be anything visible. And facing that, but not getting definitive answers and still having to wait, would be torture.

So I emailed the RE directly to ask if it would be okay to wait, and he said it's fine to come whenever I want. Yay! So I'm planning to go at seven and a half weeks. It's hard to wait, but I'm planning to relax into enjoying pregnancy without fear. Spending my days wracked with anxiety was no way to live, or to parent, and it's not as if living this way would make a miscarriage less painful. So I'm resolved to feel good for the time being. And worry when I have reason to.

Though I'm sure I'll be terrified when the actual ultrasound rolls around. But that's not for two more weeks!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Oh, the Anxiety

I'm feeling more confident about the doubling. I have one last beta in the morning. Which is optional, I think, since the nurse asked if I wanted it. Yes, please!

So now I'm worrying about the ultrasound.

Because I just don't know... if my beta is doubling "appropriately" per the nurse and the RE, but it's still so much lower than the average on betabase... does that matter?

The nurse said "I have no reason to think it's not just a late implantation" but according to the Sher Institute (a random fertility center that popped up on Google), a late implantation is "impossible" with IVF.

So am I being stupid to tell myself that I'm actually pregnant?

Please, if anyone has answers, I'd so love to hear them!

The First Step Is Admitting I [May] Have A Problem

Positive at two minutes (the first time I checked it). 
At least I didn't do the more expensive test today!

I realize that at some point, I have to stop taking pregnancy tests every day. 

I was hoping that today might be the day. But I realized I wasn't quite ready. 

Maybe tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good News Is Still Terrifying

I hopped out of bed today, excited because today, I predicted, would be the day that my Wondofo (the super cheap, 20 for $10 pregnancy tests) should finally be positive, based on my calculations that my beta would surely be over 50 today.

I also did the last of my more expensive tests.

As you can see, the top one is positive, but finally, the Wondofo was positive (barely, but there). The first one turned positive in thirty seconds but the second one took nearly the fully allotted five minutes.

So I was feeling pretty good on my way to my beta appointment. Not confident, exactly, but not completely paralyzed by anxiety. Which has been my new normal for a portion of each of the last few days.

After the beta, I rushed back home to meet the realtors to take photos of my mother's home. I finished, finally, the last cleaning up and organizing projects. It's hard to keep a house this clean, though, so it's going to require some effort on my part. But at least my mom's stuff is all tucked away now.

I was excited because my cousin offered to pick up C from preschool after lunch today. I was planning to go to the movies by myself, a decadent indulgence, but one I deeply craved after this last week of stress and hard work (coordinating all the work on my mother's house). But around late morning, I started to feel wonky. Dizzy and tired and with an upset stomach.

I had a snack and lay on the couch for a while, and eventually, called the RE's office. I wasn't really so nervous -- I figured this was just pregnancy symptoms -- but the yuckiness didn't exactly match up with what I remembered from my last pregnancy, and I wondered if I was supposed to still be on OHSS precautions?

Oops. Turns out, why yes, I am. I'm still supposed to be monitoring my sodium intake. Huh. The nurse said she wanted to check in with the RE about me and would call back.

I didn't ask if I am also supposed to be limiting my fluid intake because, frankly, I was insatiably thirsty and couldn't bear the idea of not being able to swig whenever I wanted to.

I wavered on my movie plans, not sure if I was well enough to go, but oh, such a rare opportunity! So finally I left, pulling out of the driveway just seconds before they pulled in. Luckily Calliope didn't see me.

I settled into my amazingly comfortable electronically reclining movie seat with my phone perched on my leg, on vibrate, because I still hadn't heard back from the nurse. Every time I got a text or SMC Forum message, I jumped a foot in the air.

Finally, the phone rang from the doctor's office and I grabbed it and ran -- I chose the seat closest to the exit for this reason -- to the closest quiet spot I could find.

"Huh-huh-hello?" I gasped breathlessly. (I'm not sure if it was the anxiety or the rushing or that progesterone is already affecting my lungs.) I'm so curious to know what the nurse thought was the reason for my panting!

She informed me that my beta needed to go up to at least 48, but it had been 56.


I then asked, "So, at what point do we say that I am actually pregnant, and that this isn't a chemical pregnancy?"

"Oh, you're definitely pregnant. We just don't know if this is a good pregnancy or a bad pregnancy."

A good pregnancy? A bad pregnancy?

What strange terminology. I'm sure she means that she doesn't know if this will end in miscarriage... but that could happen at any point? When do you decide to term a pregnancy "a good one"? When we see the gestational sack? When we see the heartbeat?

I then asked about my progesterone and was relieved to hear it's up to 23 from 7.5. Phew. I wish I had asked to switch to PIO injections last week.

She then asked if I wanted to go for a beta on Friday. It was surprising to me that it was up to me -- they were content to stop monitoring with two consistent doublings? -- but yes, thanks, I'd just as soon have one more confirmation.

I asked when the first sonogram would be, because it's going to require some complicated childcare logistics, but she wasn't ready to say -- said she would let me know after Friday's beta.

But for today... I'm terrified to say it but... I'm pregnant.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vascillating Between Elation and Despair

I don't know if my low beta was just a slow start, but totally within normal limits (if at the extreme end) or if this such an odd situation that I ought not to have hope.

I've stopped doing research because it was making me crazy. The typical pregnancy websites say that a beta as low as 5 can happen on the day of the missed period (mine was 8 on that day or the day after, depending on how you count it -- if you transfer a day 6 blast, I think you still count it as day 5?). So if mine was 8 the day before my missed period, then maybe that's not horrible.

But the nurse said something about this being a "late implantation" but I made the mistake of googling "IVF & late implantation" and one fertility center website said it was impossible.

The anxiety is intense. I'm glad I have a beta in the morning... but also dreading the results and the potential bad news.

Today's daily fix of pregnancy test: a darker line (though still not exactly dark, but definitely visible) in under 2 minutes.

On the plus side, I did a better job as a parent tonight. The stress has made me very impatient with Calliope, and her behavior was starting to reflect that -- way more acting out. Tonight we were both on our best behavior, possibly because she took a two and a half hour nap (she skipped it yesterday). We had a lovely late afternoon swim with my cousin and my SIL and their two kids. We stayed after they left, indeed, we stayed as long as we could because I couldn't bear to come back home. The anxiety is worse here.

Calliope can't swim a lick but she's totally fearless in the water. Just walks right in. I think she's too young for swim lessons -- or rather, it would be a whole lot of effort and money for relatively little progress. I'd rather wait until she's a little older and more coordinated. But getting her comfortable in the water is definitely worthwhile. So I think it's time to work on bubble blowing and breath holding.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who Says You Can't Be a Little Bit Pregnant?

 Today I peed on a less sensitive test... and lo and behold, it still turned positive. In less than two minutes. And it's still light, but dark enough that it's unmistakable in this photo.

And my nipples seemed maybe a little bit sore last night, though maybe I was just cold. But that was my very first symptom with Calliope.

So I was feeling pretty good when I went for my beta. Though admittedly freaking out in the hours afterward.

I called the office when I hadn't heard at 2 pm, and got a call back shortly thereafter.

The nurse said my beta was 26. Compared to my beta of 8 three days ago.

I had been hoping that it would be over 50, because I had found the betabase website that showed with very low beta values like mine, the average doubling time is 27 hours.

However, most other websites say it should double every 48-72 hours.

So I wasn't quite sure what to make of my 26, and asked the nurse, "So... how do we feel about this?'

She said, "Well, we wanted it to be more than 20. And it is. So I don't think we have any reason to think that this isn't just late implantation. Which might be due to low progesterone -- your progesterone is too low, and that can affect implantation. So I want you to switch to progesterone injections."

And while I'm a little freaked about giving myself an intramuscular injection in the butt for the first time, I'm glad that I will be able to stop worrying about my progesterone levels. Others have been questioning why my RE hasn't switched me to the injections already. So it's a relief to stop worrying about that, at least.

So no one has said "congratulations" yet (well, apart from my sister) so I'm guessing it's not safe yet to start getting excited... but I can't help it. I'm getting a little excited. I'm trying hard, though, not to have visions of a baby just yet. I'm only partly successful.

Next beta is in two days. My goal is to break 50. As if my thinking about the numbers will have any effect on them!

For now, I'm just grateful to be even just a little bit pregnant.
Today's POAS Exhibit

Today's Less Sensitive Test's Results

It's getting darker

But the cheapier Wondofo test is still negative.

I went for another beta HCG (qualitative blood pregnancy test) this morning. I hope to hear the results in the next couple of hours.

I know the odds are pretty decent that the results will be equivocal. And that there will be more anxious waiting in my future.

I'm in a good mood today, so far, anyway. Yesterday afternoon was really, really hard. I was so impatient with my current child. Hoping for better today.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today's Test

Still faint but it turned positive after less than two minutes, versus six minutes yesterday and eleven minutes the day before.

So that's something.

The less sensitive Wondofo is still negative but I'm trying to remember that with a beta of eight on Friday, there's no way it could be positive before tomorrow.

I've been doing so great, emotionally, during the days, compared to how anxiety ridden I had been. But when I wake up in the morning, my heart is instantly in my throat and I have to coach that anxiety slowly back into the box.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

In Which Calliope Has a Baby In Her Belly

"Mommy, I have a baby in my belly! Look, my belly is growing!"

"Wow, Calliope. I see your belly is getting bigger!"

"Mommy, do you have a baby in your belly, too?"

"I don't know, lovey. I hope so."

The background story is that I did a fresh IVF cycle this past month. The RE started me on a small dose of medications, and after a few days, started to reduce them even more. Soon after, I started to feel sick. I mentioned it to the nurse at the RE's office (there with both Calliope and my niece in tow) and was promptly put on bed rest.

After a few days of rest, I felt much better. But my RE opted for a Lupron-only trigger -- with any HCG in my system, I was at high risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), since I had it before (and ended up hospitalized). I was also put on a restricted salt diet and told to measure my fluid intake and urine output.

My retrieval was on a Friday, July 4th. One summer camp friend slept over the night before and another picked me up that morning at 5:30 am. We got to the Long Island branch of the RE office in record time.

I woke up as I was being wheeled out of the OR and lay on the gurney in the recovery area for quite a while but never saw the RE that operated on me, so finally asked the nurses, "So how many did I get?"

The nurses glanced at each other then flipped open my chart, "Um, seventy-two, I think."

"Seventy-two? That can't be right." (I had fifty-two in my last IVF cycle, 3.5 years ago, and that was on higher doses of medications.)

"We'll go check."

A few minutes later, they were back and confirmed, "Yes, seventy-two. That's almost a record for us! We had one woman with eighty-nine."


So I left with a prescription for Dostinex, to help reduce my odds of developing OHSS. Even though there shouldn't have been any risk with the Lupron trigger, my RE was very concerned.

That first night, my belly was swollen and taut like a drum. I called the nurses' hotline just to check in, but luckily I didn't have any pain, and in the following days, the swelling gradually went down and my energy levels gradually normalized. No exercise, though -- strictly prohibited, a hardship for my endorphin-addicted self.

Of those 72 eggs, 41 were mature and 36 fertilized. Those 36 were popped into the incubator to grow until day five.

On day five, only two were emerging blastocysts and able to be biopsied for PGS. Those two biopsies were rushed to the PGS lab and the rest of my blasts were slipped back into the incubator for one more day to grow.

That night, I was freaking out, wondering what I would do if neither of the two were good. Would I put in an untested blast? Just wait a month? Oh, how I was loathe to wait.

Thankfully, the next morning as I was driving back to the clinic for my transfer, still waiting for the new, I got the call. One blast, a female, passed PGS.

I hung up the phone and laughed and cried simultaneously.

That little female got transferred an hour later, after an ultrasound to prove that my ovaries were healthy enough to withstand the procedure -- still swollen, but no free fluid in my abdomen, phew!

It was a horrible wait. The worst. After two failed frozen transfers in the period while my mother was dying, I was convinced this couldn't work.

The beta was yesterday, Friday. I was sure it was negative because I hadn't felt pregnant. Plus, of course, all my home pregnancy tests were negative.

Well, mostly. One of the early response tests was negative when I glanced at it after two minutes -- it said to read it between two and ten minutes later. An hour later, I came back to throw it away and noticed it was faintly positive. So I tested again. It was again faintly positive, but not until eleven minutes.

I had a false positive once when I was trying to conceive Calliope, and I think it was just an evaporation line. So I wasn't about to get my hopes up. I thought there was maybe a 1% chance I was pregnant.

Off I went to my beta, already scheming about the conversation I would have with my RE about what we could possibly do differently to increase my chances with the next transfer.

I got a call that afternoon from the nurse. Telling me that my beta was eight.


I started to get choked up as I asked, "so that means it's not viable, right?"

"Well, we can't say. We have to watch it and see what happens. Continue your medications for now and go back for another beta on Monday."

I sent off the email I had previously drafted to my RE, asking about plans for next transfer... but with an added message about the beta.

He wrote back that I should be "neither up nor down." And advised me that for next cycle, in addition to adding antibiotics and steroids to the mix (also baby aspirin -- he forgot that it seems to make my stomach bleed, based on worsening stomach pain and a brand new anemia), to work on finding a way to manage stress and "find my zen." He also said, "It might not happen as quickly this time, but this will happen!"

I was annoyed, for a minute, when I got his message. But after that first minute, I thought, "You know what, he's right. I've been way to stressed and miserable. Feeling so sure that this wouldn't work from even before the transfer."

And so, I've decided to choose hope.

I'm going to believe him that this will happen.

So for now, I'm hanging on in hopes that my little girl will hang on also. And if not this time, than next time. It will work.

And today, the more sensitive of the home pregnancy tests was positive at six minutes. So for now, I'm still pregnant. And hoping for -- and believing in -- miracles.

Can you see it? That ever so faint line? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

First Day of Camp

Calliope had her first day of camp last week. Also her first day of drop-off anything, since her preschool co-op is hosted in my apartment. So quite a big day, indeed.

I was surprised to see how excited she was very excited to go. No nerves at all. Very cheerful.

Until it was time for me to go. Then she crumpled.

And apparently she spent much of the morning crying. She would finally get acclimated, and then the class would transition outside, or back inside again, and each transition was painfully traumatic. When I arrived four hours later, she was crying wearily in the "cozy corner" (where kids are sent to hang out until they are able to stop crying) and nearly comatose with fatigue. She fell exhaustedly into my arms with swollen face and eyes and wrapped her arms around my neck. I thought she might fall asleep right then.

But within a couple of minutes, she was cheering up, and five minutes later, she was informing me she would be back to camp the next day.

That's my feisty girl!

Big Girl Bed

During the month of June, Calliope took to climbing in and out of her crib, multiple times a day, in rapid succession. She's quite an agile climber so I was surprised it had taken her as long as it did to finally master the climb. I think she had a fear of knowing she could escape the safe confines of her crib.

But master it she did, so a few days later, we assembled her new (to her) toddler bed. Calliope was thrilled!

Naturally, she fell out -- at the bottom end of the bed -- and received quite a shock, landing on the cold wood floor since I failed to put any sort of padding on the floor there (and there's no carpet there). It hadn't ever occurred to me that she could fall at that end. It's not surprising, though, since she's always been a restless sleeper, still sometimes sleeping across the crib with limbs poking through the slats at two and a half.

I'm happy to report that she hasn't fallen since. And I finally dismantled the crib because after a few days of the bed, Calliope started wanting the crib again. And moving the mattress back and forth was a pain. And when I refused to move the mattress, she would get in the crib and sit on the wire springs.

Stubborn girl. I can't think where she got it.