Happy Embryo-versary!

 

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Our little girl at the very beginning, and now.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since our little embryo was created in the lab. She’s now a spunky, sweet, opinionated 3.5-month-old baby who is curious about everything and makes us laugh every day.

I know I haven’t been very good about keeping up with this blog now that she’s here. But, you guys, this motherhood thing… it is hard work. I’m home with her full-time and will be for at least another 8-9 months, which is both amazing and exhausting. I love spending every day with her. But it doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else.

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So, how is she these days? Well, luckily for us, she’s a champion sleeper. She started sleeping through the night at 9 weeks and, with the exception of some random growth spurts here and there, she sleeps every night from roughly 7pm to 7:30am. She’s a big smiler and loves it when we talk to her, sing songs, and make funny faces. We’re still waiting for her first laugh, but I don’t think it’s far off. These days she always wants to be held upright or sitting up (supported) so that she can see what’s going on. She’s not a big fan of being strapped into her carseat or stroller; she wants to be carried on my hip or sit in the Boba wrap. She’s so intensely interested in everything going on around her.

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My health has been pretty good. The fact that she’s such a good sleeper is a huge factor in how well I feel. When she was smaller and waking up a lot in the night my lung function dropped and I kept getting recurring sinus infections. I’ve been able to stay off antibiotics so far, which has been wonderful because it means I can continue breastfeeding. I’m planning to continue breastfeeding her until she’s at least six months old, if possible. Before I had her I figured I’d stop after a few months so I could start Orkambi, but she derives so much comfort from it that I’m finding it really hard to think about switching her to formula. And she hates drinking from a bottle, but that’s another story!

I do wish my lung function had bounced back better. It got up to 84% last month, but at my check up last week it was down to 79%, which was discouraging. My doctors are still confident it will get back to where it was, but it’s definitely harder for me to get all my treatments in, rest, and eat well now that she’s here. I’m committed to keeping myself well, so I rarely miss a treatment, but I do often end up with a baby in my lap while doing my vest!

All in all, things are wonderful. I wish I could go back a year ago, when I was so anxious, and give myself a glimpse of the future. All the pain, frustration, worry and tears are so, so worth it.

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In Labor?

It’s been an exciting day! Last night around midnight I discovered a lot of pinkish discharge in my underwear. For the next 12 hours I had bloody discharge every time I went to the bathroom. I called labor & delivery and since I wasn’t dripping blood or fluid, or soaking a pad, they said it was most likely just bloody show and nothing to worry about. Just before noon I lost a huge piece (nearly as big as my thumb) of bloody, mucusy discharge, which I think was my mucus plug. I also started having mild, irregular, period-like cramping. I googled bloody show and was excited to read that many women go into labor within 1-3 days of seeing it!

My husband and I had a leisurely day – we took a walk down to one of our favorite little cafes for lunch, then strolled around downtown. We came home with plans to go to the movies this evening, but I ended up napping until about 7pm when my doula called to check on me (I had been keeping her updated throughout the day). Around 7:30 I noticed my contractions were starting to feel stronger and more regular, so I started timing them using an app on my phone. To my surprise, they were coming regularly about every 4 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds each.

It’s now about 9:45 and I’ve been timing them continuously since then. They are, in fact, getting longer, stronger, and closer together, which is the hallmark of true labor. Currently they’re about 40 seconds long, about 3 minutes apart, and fairly intense. My doula encouraged me to wait until they’re closer to a minute long before going to the hospital. Over the last few hours my husband has been finishing up any last minute tasks and I’ve been eating, showering, and doing my evening nebulizers. We live about 5-10 minutes from the hospital and depending on how things go, we may head over there before too much longer so I can get checked. I’ll be back with updates!

Have we always wanted kids?

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This morning I was reading this article about how the decision to have children – or not – can be a dealbreaker in a relationship.

The advice-seeker wrote in to say her boyfriend of six years is unsure if he wants kids, but seems to be leaning toward a “no.” She definitely wants kids, but doesn’t want to leave him – especially when they’re at the point at which marriage feels like the next step.

Reading her letter, I felt so sad for her. It made me realize how fortunate I am to have a partner who whole-heartedly wants children, just like I do. That isn’t a mistake, of course. I didn’t ask him on our first date how he felt about having kids (for one thing, I was 18 and he was 21 at that time, and he probably would have run for the hills), but as our relationship evolved over the years it was a topic that inevitably came up. If we hadn’t been on the same page we likely would have parted ways, which would have been incredibly painful. I’m thankful it never came to that because today he is the best thing in my life.

I’m also thankful for the reasons I want children. As a child, teen, and adult, my family has always been a positive thing in my life and something that brings me joy. My parents both come from large families and I grew up with literally dozens of cousins. Family get-togethers were crowded, happy occasions with tons of kids and aunts and uncles and dogs and food. My husband, though he grew up in an entirely different culture, had a similar experience – big family, lots of cousins, lots of love. He hasn’t had a whole lot of hands-on experience with young kids – he was one of the youngest of his generation and was always the baby, while I fell squarely in the middle of mine and spent a good amount of time playing with little kids and babysitting. However, he has endless amounts of patience (far more than I!) and happily gives piggy back rides and plays Big Bad Wolf with his cousin’s kids when we stop by to visit. He has strong feelings about being a Dad and can’t wait for our baby to be born. It fills me with so much joy to hear him tell my belly good morning and good night every day.

In an ideal world we would probably have about three kids. However, we don’t know what the future holds in terms of my health and career. Hopefully I will be healthy enough for a few more pregnancies a few years down the line. Hopefully we can balance childbearing and childrearing with my grad school plans and our demanding careers.

None of that is certain at this point. I also acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know, and once we have this baby we could decide we’re done – or that we want five more! If this baby is our only one, though, I think we could be happy with that. We’re thankful we could bring her into this world after our struggle with infertility, and we’re thankful for those other embryos waiting frozen in the bank. The rest remains to be seen.

IVF #1: Beta hCG Results

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It would be an understatement to say I was a nervous wreck today. I started the morning with another home pregnancy test and instead of walking away and checking it 3 minutes later, like you’re supposed to, I just stared at it the entire time. No! Bad! I had a brief moment of panic when it looked like that second line wasn’t showing up this time, but sure enough it finally did – and a bit darker than yesterday, though still very faint.

At the lab I got my favorite phlebotomist. She knows how to work wonders with my measly little veins! She got the sample in one quick poke and I headed out with assurances that I’d get a call by 3:00 pm.

The day just dragged. At 2:00, with one hour to go, I cooked myself some baked salmon and kale and watched The Leftovers the take my mind off things. Then it was 2:45. Then 3:00.

No call.

At 3:01 I dialed the clinic. I heard the thing no one wants to hear: “Due to unusually high call volume, you may experience a longer-than-normal wait time…” Ugh! I really dislike the way this clinic handles the phones. It’s practically impossible to get anyone on the line.

10 minutes… 15 minutes… 20 minutes… still on hold. Finally I opted to leave a (rather terse) voicemail because the hold music was driving me crazy. The clinic was set to close for the day in a half an hour.

Then, finally, finally! I get the Big Call at 3:40. And, sure enough, it’s official! I am pregnant! My beta hCG level today, at 13 days past ovulation, is 66.5. I’ve read online that anything over 25-50 is good at this stage, and the nurse said they’re happy with the numbers. My progesterone level is also looking good (>40). The next step is to go back for a second hCG test on Wednesday, and if things are progressing normally my hCG level should be at least 133 that day. If so, I’ll be back in the clinic for an ultrasound to check for a heartbeat around December 17th.

It still feels really surreal right now. I’m still feeling a little mild cramping and I’m still super hungry. I felt just slightly nauseous earlier today, but it could be my head playing tricks on me. I can’t believe it’s really happening! I’m feeling amazed, thankful, hopeful, and nervous. Do you ever look around you and think, I’ve imagined this day for so long, and now that it’s here, I can’t believe it’s so ordinary! This is actually the way it’s playing out, right here, right now!

I’m grateful that I got to find out the way that I did – at home, in my bathroom, seeing that second line and feeling utterly shocked. I got to run in and wake my husband up and show him the line, my hand clasped over my mouth in astonishment. In this crazy, stressful process of doctors and stirrups and needles and labs we still got that moment of genuine joy and awe, alone, together, just the way our own parents did. Hearing the official news from the nurse today was icing on the cake. It’s real.

According to Google, today our little nugget is the size of a poppyseed. Hence, the baked goods at the top of this post. I didn’t make them, but they do look lovely. Next week, if everything goes as it should, the baby will look like a tiny macaron, according to What to Expect:

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Hang in there, little one! You are so, so wanted and loved.

7dp5dt: Part II

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I resisted the urge to take another test all day – until about 9:15pm when I was about to burst! Literally, with pee. You can see the results for yourself. It looks like this is actually happening!

It’s hard to tell, but I think the line on the First Response test tonight was a smidge darker than it was 11 hours before. And there’s no denying what ClearBlue thinks. That’s the one that really hit home for my husband – it’s totally unambiguous!

I’ll be going in to have my blood drawn for my beta first thing tomorrow morning and I’ll get a phone call with the results by 3:00 pm. I’ll definitely be back with an update then. I’m really, really, really hoping everything is as it should be – and this little one sticks!

In terms of symptoms, to be honest I’m not feeling much that would make me suspect a pregnancy if I wasn’t already being hypervigilant about my body. I’m feeling more tired, especially in the afternoon. I feel hungry more often but I haven’t had any nausea or food aversions. I’ve also had some mild headaches and cramping, which isn’t like me. The worst of the cramping was on Thanksgiving which makes me think that was the day of implantation. Finally, I’m not even sure of this, but I’ve been feeling a bit warmer than usual. It could be my imagination, though.

Thank you so much to everyone for your messages of support – I’m so hopeful and excited! Never, ever in my life have I gotten a positive pregnancy test and now I have three!

7dp5dt: Home Pregnancy Test

I woke up this morning feeling a bit of dread. Today was the day we set for doing our home pregnancy test. As I mentioned in my last post, the test I did at 5dp5dt was definitely negative, and I’ve been feeling really awful for the past two days. I braced myself for another negative today as I crept out of bed to pee in the cup while my husband slept.

After five minutes of waiting I went back in to look at the test. I glanced down and saw one big line. Negative. But then…

Look very, very closely at this picture. It helps to look at it full-screen. While it’s not quite as dark in this photo as in real life, it’s there. I can see it. My husband can see it. The ladies in my online TTC group can see it.

It’s very, very, very faint. But there’s a second line.

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I’m shocked and excited and in awe. And I know it’s not for sure yet. We’ll be testing again tonight and tomorrow. Tomorrow is the beta, which will be the definitive answer. And if that’s positive we’ll have a second beta. Then an ultrasound. Basically, we’re not out of the woods until I have a baby sleeping in my arms. And even then!

But this is the first if, and there’s really something there. Maybe, hopefully, our journey of infertility is over.

5dp5dt: An Early Test

Tonight I caved and took a First Response Early Response home pregnancy test. I’m part of an online support group for women with CF who are trying to conceive and another member who had her 5-day transfer the day before mine just got a very faint positive, and after seeing that I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I know of women who have gotten faint positives 5dp5dt and this particular test claims to be 76% accurate at this point. So, while my husband was busy in the other room, I snuck into the bathroom and peed in a cup.

Those three minutes of waiting to look at the stick were excruciating. Despite feeling really hopeful all week, in those minutes I felt in my heart that I’d be looking at another negative. It just didn’t seem like it could happen for us.

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When I saw the negative I just felt numb. Even though it’s early.

Cruising the message boards just now I’ve come across posts from women who got negatives at 5dp5dt but later got positives at 7 or 8 days post-transfer. According to the test instructions for First Response there’s still a 24% chance I could be pregnant.

I’m trying not to give up hope but it’s starting to hit me now and I feel crushed. It’s silly, but I never thought IVF wouldn’t work for us. Our cycle went perfectly and our numbers were fantastic. I’m only 27 and my doctor can’t find anything wrong with my uterus. The embryo we transferred was the highest grade. All along we’ve been talking about our baby as though it was already on its way. It’s been a conversation of when, not if.

I haven’t told my husband that I tested and I don’t know if I will. As much as it hurts to carry this alone, I can’t stand to give him more bad news. Just this morning I told him, Don’t get your hopes up, but I think it worked. I’ve been feeling different this time, with more cramps and fullness. My head aches and I’ve been so tired lately. Could it really be nothing?

I’m going to try testing again on Sunday, which will be 7dp5dt. At that point the First Response test is 99% accurate. If it’s negative again I’ll still go in for my beta on Monday morning, but I’ll almost certainly be looking at a frozen embryo transfer in the near future.

Keep your fingers crossed I just jumped the gun and tested too early. I’ll be back with the results of the second home test on Sunday.