Thursday, September 29, 2022

Transfer #3 - Ultrasound Appointment

After three weeks and two days that somehow flew by but also seemed to take forever, Richard and I returned to our fertility clinic. (Recall that after two promising betas, they told us to go live our lives for a bit. This was definitely weird after going for frequent monitoring and bloodwork, but we managed to fill the time. I spent quite a bit of the time questioning potential symptoms--"Was that a cramp?"--and had one scare with a small amount of spotting when I finished my run one afternoon (it was fine and actually normal)). 

To cut to the chase, the news today was all good. Our ultrasound tech found the heartbeat quickly, and the measurements all looked great! Based on my treatment cycle, I hit 8 weeks pregnant today, and the baby (yes, there's a BABY!) is measuring 8 weeks + 2 days with a heart rate of 167. (I told some people 166 because I apparently forgot...but the paperwork said 167.) The baby is about the size of a gummy bear.

When we met with the nurse after the ultrasound, she told us we were kicked out of the fertility clinic and off to the regular OB/GYN (you know, the doctor where people who get pregnant in less...complicated?...ways go from the beginning). She gave us a graduation bag, which was exciting but also made me feel self-conscious because I have watched so many people carry those bags out of the clinic and felt like I was being punched in the gut. I made Richard carry the bag, and we skedaddled through the waiting room and out of the clinic as quickly but inconspicuously as possible. (It was probably neither quick nor inconspicuous, to be honest.) Then, we went to Whataburger because that's our most frequent post-fertility clinic breakfast stop.

As fate would have it, my annual visit to my OB/GYN was scheduled for 9:40 this morning, so I hand delivered our graduation papers--including a letter from my RE that began, "It is my pleasure to refer Kimberly for routine prenatal care"--to my doctor today and set up my next ultrasound and appointment. After 3.5 years of routine checkups and bloodwork, procedures, and surgery to see what the heck is going on (which remained unexplained, but we ruled out a bunch of stuff), he is ready and excited for this next adventure.

For the rest of my day, I wore the graduation cap that Maryanne and Josephine bedazzled for my LSU graduation party, and it was the perfect accessory for graduating from the fertility clinic. Since I work from home, nobody really saw it, but I did wear it to my therapy appointment. (And somehow managed to get some work done despite having three appointments!) Here's a photo of me wearing the hat and using a "clear skin" Snapchat filter because I have been picking at a spot on my chin.

And because Richard rarely gets attention on my blog (despite the fact that he's the dreamiest), here's a picture of Richard today after our appointment. He was ready to go to bed but tolerated the quick photo op. 

So, this is all pretty cool. I don't have pregnancy symptoms other than some tender breasts, mild cramping, and wanting to take 4 naps per day, but I am reminding myself that some (many?) people reach this point in pregnancy without having any symptoms or even knowing they are pregnant. We still have a ways to go--as my OB/GYN said today, we won't worry as much after 13 weeks, but we really won't stop worrying until the baby is born. Then he quickly corrected his statement and said we won't stop worrying until the baby is done with college. That's about what I had gathered independently.

Our next steps are ultrasound and bloodwork in two weeks (10/13) and a visit with the OB/GYN in about three weeks (10/21). Until then, my job is to stay hydrated, eat well, and not stress. I'm going to give it my all and hope that my best is good enough! We are excited and grateful for lots of support and prayer while we wait.

Something that made today great: It's pretty tough to top graduating from our fertility clinic.

Time I woke up: 6:40 am

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Transfer #3/FET #2 - Beta #2

After the good news on Friday, I took home pregnancy tests every morning when I woke up (that's first morning urine, or FMU) to make sure I was still pregnant. While a common practice, this is not a best practice for many reasons including that the darkness of the line is indicative of the concentration of HCG...but only to a limited extent. My lines were looking good, and I got what's called a "dye stealer," which is supposedly when the test line is darker than the control line because it has stolen some of the dye that would've gone to the control line. I don't know how true all of that is. 

What I do know is that the amount of dye stealing leveled off, and I spent some time going down Google rabbit holes to compare pictures of other people's pregnancy tests and HCG levels to try to guess where mine was. I do not recommend doing this, but for full transparency, I now have a photo album on my phone called "Other People's Pregnancy Tests." I also have an album of photos of my own tests, appropriately titled "FET #3," but despite my openness about infertility and other intimate matters, I have a personal policy that prohibits posting pictures of things I peed on to my social media/blog. So, you'll just have to trust me on these.

On Friday morning, I calculated that my HCG would be around 824 if it was doubling every three days and 1308 if it was doubling every two days. In some photos, tests that looked like mine aligned with HCG around 1000. In others, tests that looked like mine were in the 500 range. Still in others, tests that looked like mine had HCG levels around 2000. So, I didn't know what to expect, but I kept hoping and praying for a healthy rising beta.

My blood result yesterday, about 99 hours after Friday's beta? 2459. Woah. This number doesn't have any 3s in it, and I have no musical recommendations based on this number, but I guess 2459 means something to me now!

I found out my result early by stalking my patient portal, and I even wondered if there was the slim possibility of a mix-up. When my RE's assistant called an hour later, she read me the same number. This time, I responded more professionally than I did when she called with our preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) results. (It probably helped that I knew what to expect.) She told me to continue all of the medications and that my RE wanted to see me around 7 weeks, so September 29 or 30. Naturally, I picked the earlier date, but it's still over three weeks away.

While I recognize that not needing to go back to the RE's office is probably a good thing, it feels a little weird to have weeks to wait after biweekly monitoring appointments for egg retrievals and IUIs. This is just one way that infertility has warped my ideas about what pregnancy is like. Pregnancy has been so difficult for us to achieve that it's hard to imagine just sitting and letting a baby grow, but that's exactly what plenty of people do. In fact, many people might not even know they are pregnant at this point (five weeks today!)

This seems to be our most promising transfer yet, so I'm remaining hopeful and dare I say allowing myself to get a little excited? I don't have any major symptoms but am definitely grazing and snacking more than usual. I'm not complaining yet, but I'm definitely going to have to find ways to stay busy for the next few weeks. There's plenty of knitting and work to do, and I'm not one to turn down a nap either. In other good news, my RE said I could run as long as I paid attention to my body and stayed hydrated. I am super hydrated, and so far run/walking is working for me.

Fingers crossed for rising betas and a growing baby!

Something that made today great: A visit to Buc-ee's!

Time I woke up: 7:45 am

Friday, September 2, 2022

Transfer #3/FET #2 - Beta #1

Today was a day I had been nervous about since January. It was the would-have-been due date for the baby we would have had if our fresh transfer from December had progressed. When I received my FET calendar and saw that my pregnancy blood test, or beta, was today, I knew the results of the test could make the day more difficult or a little sweeter. I tried to balance the grief from the past (that is sometimes still very much present) with hope for the future.

I scheduled my appointment for 7:30 am, which is when my clinic opens. They close at noon on Fridays, and they told me I would hear something before they leave. At 9:58 am, my phone rang. It seemed a little early for results (though I learned at my support group last night that the actual running of the test part only takes 18 minutes), but surprisingly, my RE was on the other end. It's always a little awkward when anyone from the clinic calls with an update because I try to play it cool and end up sounding a little like Eeyore. Especially because I know that my RE is the one who calls with bad news, I was caught a little off guard that he was calling. Fortunately, the news was good. 

Today's beta was 327, which was not a number we ever saw with our first FET and a number we did not see until more than 15 days after the transfer with our fresh transfer. Today is 10 days past transfer, so this is a good thing. Then again, I have to remember that I have seen positive pregnancy tests and had positive betas before, so I have to keep myself and my emotions in check. The next step is to see how fast the beta doubles; I'll go back Tuesday to see what's going on.

My nerdy brain decided to try to make something cool out of the number (other than, you know, that the transfer worked, at least so far) and I realized that 327 includes the number 3 and 3 cubed (27), and it was our third transfer. So, that was neat! Then, I listened to multiple versions of the Schoolhouse Rock! song "Three is a Magic Number," two of which I have linked below. Please enjoy as you enter the long weekend.

The original Schoolhouse Rock! version:

The version by Blind Melon on Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks:

"No Rain," the only other song I know by Blind Melon:

Something that made today great: Good beta news!

Time I woke up: 7:45 am