FET #1: Timelines

Man, I did not realize how scheduled the whole FET process was. We have our date and the list of all medications till the pregnancy test. Such a change from a daily call to work out status and meds.

It’s a bit longer than I thought – 3 weeks of BCP, 2 of Lupron, 2.x of estrogen (there’s some overlap of the Lupron and estrogen) and then transfer. Transfer is a bit before Thanksgiving.

There’s still a couple of logistics to figure out. Hubby is traveling for a week during the shots. The Lupron I’ll probably just do myself (subcutaneous isn’t too bad). But the PIO — it’s almost impossible for me to get the right angle on my own. I tried asking my mom but she’s so uncomfortable with the whole idea that I might just bite the bullet and call the fertility concierge folks who the doctor recommended. It’s not cheap but it’s only 1 day that I’d need them.

Another thing to figure out — whether or not to host Thanksgiving. I’ve hosted for years among my friend circle and it’s absolutely one of my favorite times. I love the cooking and the baking and the challenge and the friends and family. I spend weeks planning menus and a couple of days cooking (with tons of drafted help) and I love all of it. But.. I’m not sure this year. It’ll be soon after the FET and I don’t know if that’s too much physical strain. Even if I turn it into a potluck, I’d still want to make like 5 dishes at home. I mean in the grand scheme of things, this is a small thing but it just feels like I shouldn’t let IF take away yet another thing from my life.

 

 

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Stealing baby names..

I’ll admit I’m one of those people who has my mental list of potential baby names and hates it when someone ‘steals’ one. I’m not justifying myself at all – it’s a kinda stupid thing to think. Occasionally it feels a bit unfair that just because someone was earlier to the parenting gig (through no fault/decision of my own), that they get first dibs.

As it turns out, it hardly matters. Almost without fail, everyone’s chosen names that we never would. Either unpronounceable or strange or really really old-fashioned. Both Hubby and I apparently prefer serviceable and fairly common names (think Daniel/Mary equivalent). The US is a mixed-ethnicity country and I think we might as well choose a name that has a reasonable probability of getting pronounced correctly. Basically, does it pass the ‘white person’ test (my completely non PC way of making sure that most people can at least approximately pronounce a name)? It’s surprising how many people choose names that even I can’t pronounce. Actually, some are names that my parents can’t pronounced and they grew up speaking those languages.

FET #1: Baseline

Period came and went. It’s been a while since I’ve had an unmedicated one and I think I forgot just how bad it can be. Add in all the lining hormones and a couple of work conferences and it was not a fun couple of days.

And we’re on to next steps – FET with 2 of the 3 remaining embryos. I’m not sure how I feel about transferring 2 of them but RE wants to go aggressive and considering that he hasn’t been so far, I’m inclined to trust his opinion. No real reason why the fresh transfer failed — could be embryo issues or uterine issues or a transfer issue or just bad luck but nothing is pointing to one or the other. Personally, I’m assuming it’s bad luck. If only because if there’s another underlying issue, I’m going to crawl under a rock, sob and not come out.

He doesn’t want to test for uterine issues at this stage (like doing the ERA or something) and I’m inclined to agree. After this fails, we’ll reevaluate. And probably dump in genetic testing.

In other IF related things, I was losing a bit of weight post-transfer. It didn’t actually make much sense since I didn’t really gain any through the stimulation process. And some of the weight loss was (for me) fast – 2 lbs in 2 weeks. And yes, this was after accounting for intra-day variation. The last time I was able to lose weight, I was on a strict no added sugar, 1500 cal/day diet, walking at least 3 mi/day and doing strength training on top of that. And was losing weight at .5 lb/wk. I had several theories about what was going on (diet changes, maybe I’m unintentionally eating less, etc) but likely one seemed to be that TSH came down. And turns out that it did.

And in social IF things – a friend invited us over to see their new baby. I really don’t want to go. Really really don’t want to. But.. we kinda need to maintain the relationship for various reasons. We might try and bow out with some excuse. I’m actually still annoyed with the husband from some incident several months ago — when I was job hunting, I asked if I could grab coffee so I could talk to him about a position in his department (to be clear, all I was asking was more info about it). It’s the sort of favor that anyone in our circles asks (and expects in return). He was all “too busy, maybe a month from now.” Fine people are busy. But the same day, he asked Hubby if he could chat with him about some work-related problem he wanted to soundboard. So.. clearly he had time. Just as long as it helped him. Anyways, it’s a small thing but also, it was weird. Like, does he not think Hubby and I talk to each other? Sure he’s really Hubby’s friend but.. you diss the wife, why would you think the husband would help you out? So anyways, we ought to maintain this relationship because he works in a similar field as me and knows way more of the local contacts. But also, don’t want to.

Some more things I wish my fertile friends knew…

Post-failed IVF a few friends have asked “Why don’t you try surrogacy?”, “What about adoption?” so I feel the need for a PSA. Surrogacy and adoption are great options for a lot of people. Certainly, they’re both options that we’d consider. But these are not fail-safe options. They have risks themselves. Not to mention very real costs.

I feel like people who haven’t seriously thought of these options think that (a) they’re interchangeable (b) cheap and most importantly (c) guaranteed. None of these options carries a guarantee. You can’t instantly get a surrogate (even by throwing money at it) and expect a baby 9 months later. There’s still a lot of luck and probability in that process. Same with adoption.

I know they mean well. But trust me, I have thought about all the options. And the risks and probabilities and costs. And weighed them before going down my current path.

Also, I feel like this shows a basic lack of understanding of probability. According to my RE, P(pregnancy per transfer) ~ 50%. So it’s a coin toss for success. A failure is hardly surprising. If they fail multiple times in a row – ok that’s something I (or rather the RE) need to step back and work out.

So in conclusion, please stop asking me about surrogacy/adoption/alternatives.

Running totals and stats…

Oddly, data science-ing my life has been giving me a lot of comfort through this whole infertility thing. I have no idea why. Perhaps seeing numbers/visuals clarifies that I’m not imagining it and there really are fundamental issues. It absolves me of responsibility and puts it on my body, if that makes any sense. It also gives me something to look forward to as I wait for test results. Even if they’re shitty results, at least I have something concrete out of it.

I’m still waiting on a couple of numbers from the clinic to start on my IVF retrospective. But I did start doing retrospectives over the last year or so. And so I have a few running totals:

  • Number of Ultrasounds: 17 (I could have sworn that there were more than this!)
  • Number of blood tests: 34 (from Jan ’17 – present)

Hmm, these actually seem like small numbers. I feel like I’ve got to be missing some of the testing! But perhaps not. 34 blood tests puts it at ~5 per month (I’m ignoring the ectopic-induced break months) and that seems about right. Hmm, that gives me another idea for something to plot – number of tests per treatment (or cycle).

Overall, I’m a bit sad at results but I’m not doing too badly. I still have my 3 frozen embryos and it gives me a lot of comfort knowing they’re safe in the freezer. The main thing that stresses me out is time — each cycle takes more time and I’m that much older. Unfortunately, time always marches on…

Some random stories from my life (mostly annoying but I’m starting to get to a point that I can laugh at them):

  • One of hubby’s relatives had a baby boy last week. The gender is pertinent to the story. It’s a festival time for us – usually one of those festivals that I like celebrating but for the past couple of years, not so much (for a variety of reasons). Apparently on their side of the family, they have some rule about since this was a son’s son’s son (maybe a couple more thrown in), none of the sons (or son’s sons) families can celebrate this festival. So of course, I had to celebrate it. I’ll be damned if I’m going to be obliged to someone else’s fertility.
  • Hubby has finally started to open up about our IF struggles to his friends. He told one of his closest friends last week. Said friend just had a baby. And throughout the pregnancy/childbirth complained about.. well, I’m sure it was big in their mind but in my mind it was not (to put it mildly). Anyways, post-baby, friend calls, chats with hubby and asks “so.. any good news to share?” If it were me on that call, I would have said “F you” and hung up. Hubby is a nicer person than me and starting going through all our IF woes (well some of them at least). At the end of which the friend just said, “Oh man, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I kept complaining about such trivial stuff to you guys.” Damn right! Still, it was somewhat gratifying.

Sometimes I worry that I’m going to have a melt down and yell at a whole bunch of my friends for being insensitive and not appreciating what they have. C-section? Pah. At least your child is alive and healthy; Induction? ok so you had to take a few meds. Do you have any idea how much crap I’ve been putting into my body. Without even thinking about long term effects; ‘Difficulty’ getting pregnant? You’re kidding right? 6 months doesn’t count; Chemical pregnancy? Yeah, I’ve had a chemical and an ectopic. No comparison. Now if you had a D&C.. ok fair enough. Not that some of these are ideal scenarios. I just wish they’d stop complaining to me. All I can offer them anymore is research on the probabilities of various events and what to look for in an RE. Of course, I’m sure someone thinks the same about me – just hopefully not too many of the people I typically complain to 🙂

IVF 1: Day 28

And.. negative.

It’s not surprising news but still it’s really depressing. I really want to go home and cry but kinda have to stick it out at work, at least for a few more hours.

Thank god for the 3 frozen ones. But man, is FET such a long cycle. We have a touch base with RE next week and we’ll learn more but it seems like 3 weeks of BCP, 1 of Lupron, 20 days of estrogen and then transfer?

IVF 1: Day 25

I couldn’t resist taking a HPT. I threw them all out when we moved (they had expired anyways plus some were out of their packaging so I couldn’t tell if it was a HPT or an OPK.) I ended up making Hubby buy one on his way home. If nothing else, at least we’ll go into Monday’s blood test prepared.

And.. nothing. Just the one pink line. I’ve never actually seen anything more than that – even during the ectopic, I never tested at home so I never saw even faint double lines. Of course, it might still be early but I’m at 9dp5dt at this point and there should be a faint one at least (assuming that the urine tests can detect at least 25 units of HCG).

In some ways I’m not surprised — I had been feeling like there was less HCG running around. Now that I write that out, I realized it’s a stupid line of reasoning. Even if I’m solidly pregnant, I’d expect HCG to hover in the 200s range – significantly lower than the 10000 IU trigger.

Now I’m just bracing for bad news on Monday. I suppose there’s still faint hope but I’d rather be surprised with good news than with bad. And we’ll figure out next steps from there. At least it would be a break from my butt being used as a pincushion.

The little things..

I was going to write a happy chirpy post. Because (surprisingly), through the IVF cycle so far – I’ve been feeling optimistic and hopeful again. This time, it might actually work.

The last few days, not so much. I get what all you ladies meant by the 2ww is the hardest. My mood is probably a combination of a lot of things. The endless shots are wearing on me. It’s not like the shots themselves are hard. They’re not too painful other than the occasional time Hubby hits a nerve or a blood vessel. But it’s just fatiguing especially when unlike the stimulation shots, these don’t seem to be doing anything. My breasts are so sore but really that’s just frustrating – yet another phantom pregnancy symptom to trick me into being optimistic. I have intermittent cramping – it’s never bad but mostly seems like the occasional reminder from my ovaries and uterus of ‘hey, you haven’t thought about us for a while – we’re still here.’ I’m trying not to google symptoms too much – that path never leads anywhere useful. And I think I’m losing hope that this cycle will work out (largely because my uterus no longer feels bloated and bubbly). On the other hand, my lower abdomen feels .. stiffer? Is that a thing? Are these all my crazy hormone-induced phantom symptoms? Yes, of course. Still, I’m probably better off bracing for disappointment than not.

This weekend was strange. For the last several months, we haven’t actually been that social. Too many reasons – prep for my defense, dealing with cars, apartments, moving, then dealing with tests and treatments. And the friends we have been meeting are really close ones who know what we’re going through (and probably get TMI but hey, if I can hear poop stories, you can handle ovary stories). This weekend we met a ton of people who weren’t. A lot were fun to meet/talk to. But there were still various strange moments with what are typically normal social questions.

  • “What do you do in your free time?” (Free time? Hah. The time between work, we spent going to doctor’s appointments, getting blood tests, looking up protocols and just for giggle, jab my butt with long scary needles).
  • “I love running and hiking.” (I no longer even walk long distances. I’m not allowed to lift more than 5lbs. Running? hiking? I hated those even when I could do them but now, no way. Even ones I like are out – dance, yoga…)
  • “What are your favorite books?” (Lately, I’ve just been obsessively reading papers to look up IVF stats broken down by various categories and reading blogs to understand the process more. And staring at my little embryo picture and rooting for her (him?).)
  • “Why don’t we do Trivia night together?” (I love trivia night. But (a) I can’t drink. And more importantly, (b) I have no desire to drag along my shot-in-the-butt paraphernalia to a grungy bar.)

It never occurred to me how full of pitfalls normal conversation is. These are the types of things most of us talk about when meeting someone new. Just.. there’s so much dodging in those these days. Like when I got a strange look when I disavowed anything active (I was trying to avoid being dragged along to a rock climbing session or getting drafted as a yoga buddy). The real answer is, of course, “Back off. Exercise is the least of my worries right now.” But of course I can’t because that would entail explaining everything to a crowd of people I barely know (or chose not to share with for various well-thought-out reasons).

PIO side effects question?

Is it normal to be getting up at night? I’m not sure if it’s the PIO shots, the leftover HCG or what but I’ve been getting up at promptly 3am each night (and I’m typically a really sound sleeper).

Plus I’ve been having the strangest dreams. Like yesterday my mom and I were treasure hunting in what can only be called a haunted house and had to keep fighting off monsters to get the treasure (which were actually antique dresses and board games). And there were several minutes of the dream dedicated to finding boxes to store all the stuff and then finding the packing tape. And then getting rid of a insect monster.

Depictions of IVF in TV

I’m a bit of a stickler for scientific accuracy in movies/tv/media. Given, I’m not an expert in all areas of science so I’m sure there’s tons I miss but the ones I do catch drive me nuts.

Like Good Will Hunting — great movie, great acting. But.. that problem on the blackboard that was supposedly unsolvable? That was a basic freshman comp sci problem. To be honest, once you explain the bare concepts of what a graph is, anyone should be able to solve that. Would it really have been that hard to go down the street, grab a CS grad student and ask for a problem that at least takes a couple of years of knowledge to solve?

Or the Turing movie. The thesis work that they gloss over and mention in two lines at the beginning of the movie — that was the work that revolutionized the world and made him one of the fathers of CS. Not that the Enigma stuff wasn’t cool. But they also gloss over how many people were involved in that effort and it wasn’t a single person effort.

My latest beef – the latest episode of the Mindy Project. One character wants to go at motherhood single (more power to her). And has to start the shots herself. And that’s there the detail issues come in. There are group injections classes? Well, ok, maybe those exist. But why are people attending them weekly? The needle they show — nowhere near the size of any needle used. PIO is way bigger the rest are much smaller. Also why is progesterone the only hormone named? Why are you injecting it? And measuring only progesterone (not even on cycle dependent days)? WTF are you trying to do with just the bare progesterone levels?? What happened to the barrage of blood tests and ultrasounds you get on intake to a clinic? Not to mention the STD panels. Why not start there? I mean maybe there is a protocol that starts with progesterone injections but that doesn’t seem to be the average case protocol in which case, why go down that route?

With my cycle fresh in my mind, these little things are even more jarring. And I think these sort of incorrect depictions contribute to this whole mysticism and fear around IVF.