Bittersweet: week 37

What a gift these past nine-plus months have been for me. I can’t believe we are weeks away from meeting our baby girl!

It’s been a hot summer and yet I have been so fortunate to have time off from my work to sleep and take care of myself.

Over the past two weeks, my body is progressively feeling more sluggish and the water retention makes me feel like a water balloon.

Crazy to say, I LOVE this!

I really don’t want the pregnancy to end.

I know, I know. It will only get better when she is in my arms. I believe that to be true as well. But I will never be pregnant with her again.

I have loved feeling her kicking and moving on my insides.

Being with her everywhere I go.

I feel bonded and connected to her in a way that only a mother can and I am feeling this sense of gratitude for the mere opportunity to carry a child.

We have waited for FOUR YEARS as a couple to become pregnant.

I myself have wondered for 20 YEARS if I was going to be able to experience this incredible gift of pregnancy.

Now that I have been living it, I don’t want it to end.

I understand the purpose of pregnancy is to deliver and raise a baby to a child to a young adult.

For me though, I knew I would always have children (through adoption if needed) so I knew that the raising of a child would be in my future.

It’s this precious period and the gift of pregnancy that was so unknown to me- so desired.

Will I ever be able to experience pregnancy again?

I pray this to be the case.

At the same time, I’m aware that this may have been my one opportunity.

What a great one it has been.

I mourn the ending of such a sweet time in my life.

The way I feel in my body, carrying this life, is something I pray to never forget.

People look at me with a precious look of endearment and excitement.

I feel this look only happens to pregnant women.

Once Maxee comes, I will join the ranks of all the other women who are mothers and this special space of pregnancy will be in my past.

I’ve heard it said before, “don’t be sad that it’s over, but happy that it happened”.

I can soak in every moment of this pregnancy and know that I have made the very most of it.


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Many have commented that they ‘bet I’m ready for her to come out and have my body back’.

Partially yes, I’m ready to be able to roll over in bed or get off the couch without pulling on Hubby or strategically maneuvering my limbs to prop me up. I’m ready to get back to jogging and bending over to stretch my hamstrings.

In reality, though, I don’t want to wish away any minute of this gift.

God, thank you for gifting me with the experience of growing and carrying my child inside of me. Thank you for allowing me to share my body with this sweet little human and provide a safe and healthy home for her to grow and form.

Thank you for entrusting me with one of your precious children.

May these final weeks be savored and these 10 months be engrained in my memory as an example of your love, grace, almighty ability to create life and power for redemption.

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Are we pregnant?!

Tick, tock… tick… tock.

The minutes seem to be slugging by as we wait for the phone to ring. I cleverly changed the ring for “Shady Grove Fertility” to a soft, chipper ring so I wouldn’t get my hopes up when my normal ring chimed.

I read, journal, check Facebook.

My LabCorp account states the bloodwork has been delivered to my doctor’s office.

We wait.Image result for blank pregnancy test

At 9:01am, the bouncy musical ring chimes from my phone.
I hop up, prance into the office so Hubby and I can answer together.

“Hello,” I say.

“Hi Hilary, this is Christine from Shady Grove Fertility, how are you?”

We exchange pleasantries.

“Well, I have the results from your lab and…

CONGRATULATIONS

you are pregnant!”

 

Wahoo! We are pregnant! What an overwhelm of excitement that washes over me.

She continues that she would like for me to have another blood draw in 2 days to make sure my HcG is increasing at a healthy rate. We will then do a vaginal ultrasound to confirm the heartbeat at week 6.

Smiling from ear to ear, I take down the information.

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So, how far along am I? I ask.

Today is 4 weeks and 5 days.

Holy cow! I think

Your due date on August 28, 2019.

I can’t believe it!

I guess the medical field begins counting day 1 on the day of my last period and since we went through IVF, the day of the transfer was already 2 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

Incredible!

Woah… we are pregnant!


For the next two days, it’s all so surreal.

I have heard many stories of people miscarrying (even with IVF) and so I am holding my breath.

I want to shout the great news from the rooftop but am also scared that I’m counting my chicken before it hatches.

Hubby and I decide to wait for this next blood test to let out a little sigh of relief.

We also know that we have a few more major milestones to hit before we can really celebrate and share this information with all the world to know*.

  • The second blood test to show an increase in HcG means the fetus is growing.
  • The 6-week transvaginal ultrasound to hear the heartbeat and measure the fetus
    1. Most pregnancies will have the first ultrasound at 10-12 weeks, but since I am still under the care of Shady Grove, they are ensuring this pregnancy is viable.
  • Getting to week 13 to know we are through the first trimester with a healthy baby

Two days later I get an early morning blood draw.

Within a couple of hours, the same cheery ring comes through my phone.

Confirmed: a healthy increase in HcG, we are on track for a healthy, wonderful pregnancy!

 

(* I hate to disappoint anyone but I hope you will forgive me as I have not been posting in real-time. Out of protection for our hearts in this process Hubby and I decided to put a little space between the actual dates of this happening and when it was shared with the world… we are excited to report at this moment of posting we are currently 12.5 weeks pregnant!!)

 

 

 

IVF: Phase 2… preparing the 9-month “home”

The start of phase two of IVF has begun. Once we set a transfer date, Dr. O’Brien counted the days leading up to the transfer by going backward. Eighteen days from ending birth control, 17 days from my first ultrasound after all the waiting. Everything looks clear and we are set to go.

I begin with Estrace, an estrogen pill, which I will take 3 times a day. Fortunately for me, this same estrogen pill was what I used earlier in my fertility journey as a suppository so I am grateful to be ingesting it this time. I will do this for 11 days and then go in for another ultrasound.

The side effects aren’t horrible, and in fact, I can hardly notice a change in my being. Might this be because I am comparing it to the ridiculous amount of hormones I just rid my body of over these past weeks, possibly?

It feels good to be on medication that is helping without making me into a witch.

The goal is to grow my uterine lining so that it’s nice and ready for little Maxwell Bean to nestle in.

My days continue as normal, not thinking too much about the transfer date, which is less than 2 weeks away!

I am grateful to not be consumed with thoughts about what the transfer will be like or if it will take. Instead, I am happily practicing living in this moment, as my body prepares a little home.

Image result for pills and shotsOn day 11 of this routine, I go in for what I hope is my final ultrasound before we fly.

The lining needs to be at least 8mm thick with no major follicles growing.

My doctor didn’t even prescribe me Lupron (an ovulation suppressant drug). My theory is because it took major dosage for me to produce follicles in the first place that she is not concerned about my body deciding to produce follicles now.

She is correct, no follicles and my lining is just shy of 8mm, sitting at 7.25mm. The little home is getting ready!

Dr O gives the green light to proceed!

I am so excited and we move forward to book our car rental and hotel for the night we will be staying in Maryland.

Yet, what’s next is not enjoyable.

I always imagined IVF to be full of shots in the rear-end, but up until this point, it has been in my abdomen or pills… not bad and not too painful.

That is about to change.

Starting tomorrow, I (ok Hubby) will shoot 1ml of progesterone oil into the intermuscular area of my buttock every morning precisely at 7:15am. If I falter 10-15 minutes, it could cancel the transfer!

Nurse Christine gives me some pointers on how to help this not be as painful. I wasn’t worried about a shot until she began to explain how it’s ok to use a heating pad after and to be sure to switch sides eatery day so as to not completely hurt one side.

She explains this is an oil-based liquid so it’s a little thicker so it may burn a tinge.

Uh… what is about to happen to me?

She also shares it’s best if Hubby administers the shot for a better angle and then jokes, “unless you like to inflict pain on yourself”.

Eek! What is this going to be like?

She also gives me instructions for the day of transfer.

The transfer is set for noon, arrive at the clinic at 11:30 with a photo ID. Be sure to empty my bladder completely at 10:45am and then proceed to drink 16oz of water before 11am. Don’t use the bathroom after 11am. A fuller bladder helps Dr. O position the catheter more precisely as to release the embryo in the correct location.

I have my marching orders.

Turkey Baster

The medication worked! We have 2 major follicles (19mm and 17mm) that are presenting strong and proud on the ultrasound screen.

We’re making a baby here folks!

Dr. G is happy with the results and scheduled our IUI for 4 days from now.

I’m not a patient person and was ready to give myself the trigger shot of HCG today and be ready to go in 2 days but am trusting Dr. G knows what he’s doing.

I’m thrilled! This cycle is not lost and we have a shot, even at twins, ha!

God, thank you for being so good to us. I trust that these extra 3 days were for your purpose and in your plan and give these next few days over to you.

(TMI ALERT)

I’m a little scared because tonight before bed I noticed my cervical mucus is stringy, like egg yolk. Everything I have read points this to mean that I’m on the verge of ovulation.

I pee on an Ovulation stick, an “O” stares back at me, meaning not ovulating.

Okay, maybe this is just pre-ovulation fluid, I try and convince myself.

I become a little upset that we aren’t triggering ovulation tonight in order to catch this timing correctly.

What do I know though? The only thing I know about this type of stuff is what I have read on Google and heard through my friends.

God, I trust you.

I say this over and over again, calming my fears.

I lay down to rest for the night… God, I trust you.


I wake up, pee on the stick, still an “O” starring at me. My mucus is still slick and I am a bit fearful that we’ve missed it. I can’t think about this though, I have to trust what the Dr. is saying.

The plan is to wake up at 1am tonight/tomorrow to give me the HCG trigger shot. It has to be administered 36-hours prior to the IUI appointment.

I’m less than thrilled.

The shot is a compact dose of HCG hormone. Vaccine_640.jpg

It sends heat through my body and I am overtaken with hormones.

I can’t go back to sleep.

I stay up for the next hour, reading.

God, how am I supposed to go to work tomorrow on such little sleep?

Oh my gosh, how am I going to have babies who need me in the middle of the night if I can’t even do this one time?

I am psyching myself out.

I take a deep breath.

I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

God, I trust in your timing and your plans. I trust that you know what is best for us and you know what our futures hold. I leave all these worries in your hands and will do what you have placed in front of me to do, today.


The IUI day is here.

I don’t know what to expect and am a bit fearful because I’m not experiencing any of the ovulation cramping I have in the past. This just feeds my fears that my ovulation window has passed and we are about to spend $400+ dollars on a procedure that is worthless because the egg has already come and gone.

How quickly I enter into the negativity.

It really doesn’t help me to be thinking this way or to be in fear.

I just don’t know how else to be in situations of unknown. I am changing my mind around to be in faith and trust that this is the perfect timing.

Hubby goes in at 11am for his contribution to this effort.

He signs some papers and labels what he needs to with his name and date of birth.

His part is done.

For the next 2 hours, the nurses clean it and test the swimmers. They take out all the swimmers who didn’t show up for the race and label each swimmer with a “0, 1, 2, or 3”- based on motility.

Only the “3’s” make it back into the tube.thin-test-tube.png

After sorting through all of them, they are ready for me.

I follow up at 1pm for my procedure.

I check in and am directed downstairs to receive the swimmers. I have to sign paperwork and double check that the labels all have the information of Hubby. They walk through the process of how they cleaned the swimmers and also showed me how they ensure that these swimmers in front of me are the same as Hubby.

I am impressed with the concise and thorough process of confirming that these swimmers are meant for me.

I head back upstairs with the swimmers in my hand. Not to shake them or tip the tube as they are all ready for me.

I’m scared that this is our one shot at it and it may already be unsuccessful just at the mere chance that the egg is gone.
I have to stop this thinking.

I choose to believe that there is an egg (or two) just getting ready to be released.

I choose to believe that there are swimmers at the ready.

It’s as though we are getting the two together at a party and saying, “here, meet each other”.

I’ve done all that I can.

What would help the most at this moment is for me to relax and take deep breaths. There’s nothing to fear, nothing to control, nothing that I can do to help anything more than what we’ve already done.

I just have to BE.

Calm, peaceful, hopeful.


What an experience.

I walk into the room with the nurses and they were so incredibly reassuring.

Praise God!

I spoke with the nurses and they don’t feel it’s too late.

In fact, they said the timing seems right on and to stop Googling!

There were two nurses helping with the efforts and although it was not the most enjoyable experience when the catheter is inserted, it’s wonderful to know those swimmers got all the way up there.

And now we wait, pray and trust.

Wiping Tears

This week started out hopeful. After 10 days of the mega dose of Letrozole, I’m feeling as though there will be lots of little black circles staring at me on the ultrasound screen. I went to my OBGYN for the follicle check and there we have it folks, bundles of black circles! We have follicles!

None of them are large enough to force an ovulation so they put me on a low dose of Letrozole for 2 more days and ask me to return.


Two days later, I am hopeful there has been growth. Yet, when she checked, it was only slight. Take two more days of low dose Letrozole and return. The nurse also talked with us about planning for an Inter Uterine Insemination (IUI) a few days after this next check. An IUI involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus, by way of a catheter, to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. To me, it’s like a turkey baster, squirting those swimmers up nice and close to where the egg should be.

I am getting excited and hopeful that my body is getting ready for this next step!


Here I am 2 days later, and I can’t believe that the follicles have decreased and my lining has thinned out.

What’s wrong with me that I can’t produce what I need to?

Why is this happening to me?
I have been concentrating so hard on eating the foods people say to eat, not working out too much, but still getting my blood going and circulation throughout my system. I have been napping almost every other day and taking things slow. Reading has become my new hobby and praying that God will bring us a miracle.

My eyes are leaking.c0224595b355ac7bc4b6c1b73cf08ad4--crying-eyes-sad-eyes.jpg

I can’t stop the overwhelm of emotion and the tightness in my chest.

I am just so sad that this is so hard for us.

Why God? What are you doing in this?

How am I supposed to learn from this and when will I grow stronger?

Isn’t that what people always say. It’s through the trials and hardships- the storms of life- that resilience and character are refined.

I’m all about learning life lessons, so what is this all about? Patience? Learning that I don’t always get what I want? Believing there is a bigger picture?

The pain is so strong; it overcomes my thoughts like a wave crashing over the rocks.

I have to let my tears roll down my face. No use trying to stop them.

I just want this pain and heartache to be over.

Why can’t we just get pregnant? Why does this have to be so hard?

I don’t know how many more cycles I can go through. This is hard on my body and my emotions.

I don’t want to give up now out of fear that we are quitting too early in the process.

I really thought this time would work. We amped up the dose of medication and the days that I was to take them, how could my follicles not have grown?

I just don’t understand and trying to make sense of any of it is too exhausting.

Tonight, I have to accept what is. There is no other way around it. I can’t change it.

I pray our doctor is learning more about my body through this and I also pray that I might see God and how he is working in and through me with this heartache.

As I have been writing, I get a call. “CCRM”.

Hello, I answer.

Hi, this is Gina from CCRM. I have some next steps for you.

“What?” I’m thinking. I thought we have missed the chance for this go around.

We are going to have you do 3 more days of Letrozole at the highest dose and have you check through an Ultrasound in 4 days.

I am relieved, overjoyed. This cycle is not too late!

I go skipping to the pharmacy to pick up the medication.

We are still in the game!