First Family Ski Day!

Hubby and I take our little one to the mountains for the first time.

You gotta start ’em young!

And yes, I decided it was ok to ski. I am taking it slower than I usually go and staying away from people.

The doctors gave strong concern for skiing, not because of the activity but the fear that I will fall or someone will run into me, forcing a trauma to my body.

It was a beautiful blue-sky day and we were out with multiple members of our family and some friends. (None of them knew we were pregnant at this time in our journey)

I had a little cramping in my stomach which was a good reminder for me to keep it slow and easy and to be mindful of the skiers around me.

I am playing it safe and just taking in the sunshine, the blue sky, the fluffy snow and the memories being created with my sister-in-law, dad, and nephew.

My heart beats a bit faster up here at elevation and I chug the water to keep hydrated.

What a gift I have to live this life… and to have this life inside of me.

Little does this little one know that today was our first ski outing as a family of three.

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First Family of 3 Ski Day!

**For anyone preganat, please talk with your doctor about skiing before you decide to go. This was a decision Hubby and I spent a great deal of time talking and praying over.

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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!!)

 

 

 

The Invasive Question

I have been honest with my emotions and open about this journey to virtually everyone I know. I have hoped that by sharing my story and being real with how hard this has been for me, it may help another feel as though they are not alone and more importantly, help others understand the fertility… or in my case, lack of fertility, journey people can experience.

So today, I get real with you again.

I feel pregnant.

I know…. eek, right?!

BUT

I am scared as it’s not confirmed by my doctor and the blood test will be in a few days.

My body feels tired and at times I feel crampy pressure.

It’s a very real possibility and I want to be excited, but it’s not the right time for it yet.


I have become incredibly sensitive to people asking about the IVF process and when we are going to transfer. (This is prior to people actually knowing that we transferred).

“So when are you going to transfer?”

A totally legitimate question, but that also means they know when we will find out and then they know when the most vulnerable stage of the pregnancy is, when miscarriage is still a very real possibility and when I am not sure I want just anyone knowing.

I’m not ready for everyone to know that we have actually already transferred.

The little Maxee is not frozen in Maryland.

Maxee is actually inside of me.

I feel like a lier as I’m not telling the full truth and the question actually stings.

It’s as though I have been walking around in a bikini, being vulnerable and open, and now I just want to wear a sundress and people keep asking to see my bikini.

Violated isn’t the right word, but it is interesting how my emotions and sensitivities have shifted.

I feel it’s because I am at the most vulnerable stage of this whole process.

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The embryo is in me and I am waiting in anticipation of what the result will be and the result itself is raw and vulnerable and potentially life-changing.

We are nearing the pinnacle point in this whole journey.

Are we pregnant? My fear is that we aren’t.

It’s not my friends and family’s fault for asking about the transfer date, they have been invited into this journey.


This whole process has been so MEDICAL and SCIENTIFIC and I am just wanting to have some sense of NORMALCY when it comes to the allure of pregnancy.

To be able to surprise friends and family.

To share in the excitement of the good (GREAT) news.

What I can offer is that I will let you know as soon as I want you to know what’s going on.

I have up until this point, haven’t I?

If I can offer any points of advice from my experience this week is this:

If you know someone going through IVF and they get to this stage when they know how many emby-babies they have frozen, might you consider not asking WHEN they will transfer, but instead mention you understand this is a vulnerable time and are here for when they want to share any further developments.

I thought I would be open, but this is something I want to experience with Hubby and be able to share the news when we are ready.


My hormones and the extra shots of hormones each morning must really be getting at me.

I am shut off from being able to express joy other people’s IVF successes at this moment. My head says, “good for you, I hope I get to have the same.”

Yes, it’s a little sulky and salty right now and I know it’s my fear.

I feel too vulnerable and it’s out of my control if this embryo stays inside me.

There is also jealousy for the fact that other people are beyond this unknown stage and able to show the world their baby-bump.

I’m not there yet.

These last few days have been quiet, I have enjoyed the slowness of this season, giving my energy to the growth of the hopeful little one.

The next time I write, we will know the results of the blood test!

Operation: Bring Maxee home

Sunday: This morning we left Denver on our 36-hour jaunt to Maryland to pick up Maxee and bring it home. Although we haven’t discussed names, choosing a nickname has been hard! I like the playful spin-off our last name with “Coffee Bean”, but we land on Maxee.

On the plane, I sat next to a delightful man from Boulder who is flying to DC for a national science convention when he asked where I was going, I shared about our fertility journey and how excited and hopeful we are for this weekend. I love being able to embrace this story and see the joy and magnificence this brings as the combination of nature, God, and science.

Our night is spent celebrating little Maxee (living in the petri dish at Shady Grove clinic) by eating a delicious meal at Wildfire restaurant at Tyson’s Corner.

We know it’s not a guarantee this will end with a beautiful baby in our arms, but we are grateful for this opportunity.

Tomorrow we get to reunite with our little one.

This is the closest we have come to being pregnant, and are enjoying every moment.


Monday: 10am: I am receiving my final acupuncture before the transfer. Sitting under the heat lamp, my body is preparing for the transfer.

11:15am: Here I am, sitting on the cream couch, with Property Brothers playing on the flat screen in the background. I am sitting, after just emptying my bladder and refilling it with exactly 16oz of water… Waiting.

I get to take my embybaby (Maxee) home today and it gets to be and grow inside of me until it’s ready to come out. My prayer is that in the next 9-10 months I am able to pour every ounce of love, prayer, hope, confidence, and health into this little one. My heart is happy to be sitting here and a little nervous.

  • What will the procedure feel like?
  • How will I feel after?

I can’t believe this is as close as we have been to have our own baby!

  • What will it be like to be pregnant?
  • How will I feel?
  • What will the next few weeks mean for me?

So many unknowns.

My stomach is a little crampy but mostly calm.

I am 45 minutes away from being semi-pregnant!


At what point does one become pregnant?

  • Is it a successful transfer?
  • A successful nesting or implantation?
  • It is it with the results of the pregnancy test in two weeks?

I have been praying for a healthy womb, for a clear space to call home.

Free of any negative energy and in its place a positive, healthy home that will encourage and support little Maxee.


“Hilary Maxwell”… it’s time to go!

12 noon: we are called back to the room.

12:20: Dr. O’Brien welcomes us, shares the news that our one embryo is in the incubator and thawed out perfectly. She shares that the 2nd embryo with the genetic mismatch had an extra chromosome 3 (meaning either Hubby or I contributed 14 instead of 13 chromosomes, making this particular embryo not viable.)

Joining her are 2 nurses. One nurse squirts the ultrasound jelly on my stomach and pushes the monitoring wand on my bladder (yup, cavity full!) and the second nurse asks me to confirm my name, date of birth, and social security number before she confirms the one embryo with me and Dr. O and then leaves the room.

Dr. O is a delight and we engage in small talk about what’s about to happen as she inserts the catheter into place (yup, that’s an uncomfortable pinch).

Hubby pulls out his phone and begins to film what we see on the large screen tv plastered on the wall.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8767.jpgOur second nurse is in the lab next to us and has taken control of the TV screen. Before us, blown up, is the petri dish with a couple of air bubbles and this round thing with a cluster of little circles inside… that’s our Maxee, 5 days ‘old’.

12:26pm: Nurse draws the liquid and embryo into a syringe type and enters into our room. She and Dr. O exchange a specific protocol for transferring the syringe filled with liquid and our embryo. It reminds me of when I used to rock climb and the belayer and climber had to exchange a control check before the climber proceeded to climb.

“On belay, belay on, climbing, climb on”.

Dr. O wiggles the already inserted catheter so we can see it on the screen (and yes, I can feel it) and then proceeds to insert the filled-syringe into the catheter and in a matter of seconds we see a white blurb… our embryo on the screen shoot out from the catheter. It lands just where Dr. O wanted and it’s been a successful transfer. (Hubby gets it all on film!)

12:30pm: Maxee is with me!

I continue to lay there with a drape over me as Dr. O spends 15 more minutes with us answering our questions and unknowingly validating our decision to work with her.

I am scared to use my stomach muscles to sit up and even more scared to stand up, let alone go to the bathroom.

What if Maxee falls out of me?

I am assured Maxee won’t and begin to dress.

Our discharge nurse helps us to know exactly where the progesterone shots are to occur on my backside (we were just a ‘little’ off) and I head for my final acupuncture appointment to help the blood flow before we head to the airport.

Dr. O did not prescribe bedrest, just casual walking, and no heavy lifting or intense working out for 2 weeks.

We asked about skiing. She was hesitant to answer and her worry is more about if I am hit by someone else on the mountain. Although she said no, she also said it really depends on how crowded the mountain and the likelihood of me getting into a tumble.

I don’t know what my answer will be for myself, but for now, the answer is no as I let Maxee get situated.

7:30pm: I can’t believe I am sitting here on the airplane back to Denver, with a little embryo growing inside of me.

I know how fast the cells multiplied in those 5 days after fertilization and can only imagine what is happening inside of me right now.

Dr. O said implantation can occur in 36 hours and there is no way of truly feeling it happening. She even debunked the thought of implantation bleeding, although might be slight, the bleeding people experience is at times a few days after the implantation. Since I’m on both estrogen and progesterone the likelihood of any bleeding is slim to none, so I know not to be looking for anything as a sign this week.

Hubby called me ‘mommy’ for the first time today, I like how that sounds.

Although I feel excited by the opportunity and possibility, I am also very aware that this little one may not take and we might not be pregnant.

It’s a 70% chance of pregnancy at this point… that still leaves 30%. So I am going to keep things mellow for my body this week, eat warm foods, drink warm water to give Maxee a wonderful environment to enjoy and get a lot of rest.

Tonight, we get to bring our Maxee home and pray that it sticks to become a viable pregnancy. We still hold our breath until we have a positive pregnancy test.

The 2-week wait (2WW) begins.

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.