Monday, June 26, 2017

Nice high number

Six days after our first blood test I went in for the second one. I had to get up at 5.30am in order to get to my clinic as early as possible so that I would make it back to my office in time. I didn't mind too much though. After all the challenges of going through IVF it wasn't such a big deal and I'm excited to have a reason to need a second blood test. I also got some of my prescriptions renewed while I was there. The clinic told me they would call between two and three pm. During my lunch break I went home hoping the results might be ready early but no such luck. Hubby was going to get back earlier from work that day so we agreed that he would phone the clinic to find out the results but not tell me until I came home just in case the news was bad.

That was the idea. In practice when I didn't hear anything from hubby I started worrying that maybe it was bad news and he was waiting to tell me in person! The time passed really slowly in the office before I was able to get home and the half hour before I got back, I started getting really anxious thinking how devastating it would be if the news wasn't good. As soon as I arrived in front of the house, hubby rushed out to meet me, smiling, and said it was good news! Thank you God!! I burst into tears again, this has definitely been an emotional time for me lately haha! Happy tears though.

He told me the HCG has gone up to 2343. Amazing!! I put it into into HCG online calculator and it said that's a normal doubling rate. We have an appointment in a week's time for the first ultrasound. How exciting! At that stage we should finally find out whether there are one or two embryos growing and if we are lucky see a heatbeat/heatbeats. It feels so surreal thinking about that! I am still on cloud nine and can't stop smiling.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pregnancy after loss and cold showers

After the happiness and surprise eventually came the worry. Pregnancy after a loss can be a tricky one to deal with. I remember that hard week after our first IVF when I was technically pregnant but with a low HCG value and was told it could go either way. There was a little spotting some days but it always went away. I had some mild symptoms such as tiredness, increased appetite and sore boobs. I kept doing pregnancy tests hoping the line would get darker but it grew fainter instead which was probably a likely indication that it was non viable. The longer I remained pregnant the more I had hope though that maybe it would still be ok. However the miscarriage begun the night before when our first scan at our previous clinic would have been.

I can't help having some anxiety regarding this pregnancy. I found a link online where you can calculate your miscarriage risk and it said mine was about 26% (at four weeks, it goes down the longer you remain pregnant)! That was stupid of me to look it up. However I then came across a more reassuring link and when you take our strong initial HCG value into account it seems promising that this could be a viable pregnancy. I keep reminding myself that there is no reason to assume that everything isn't fine. This pregnancy already seems stronger than my last (which was a year and a half ago. Crazy). I have barely any symptoms though of course it's super early at this point, just four weeks. It just feels surreal most of the time!

I did a second pregnancy test yesterday for some reassurance and there was a strong second line which was nice to see. The next stage is to go back to my clinic for a second blood test and provided all goes well I could have the first scan a week later. Wouldn't that be exciting!? At our new clinic they make you wait a week for the second blood test which seems so long! I have a dentist appointment that day so I asked if I could come in a day earlier (Monday) for the blood test and that's fine. The HCG is meant to be doubling every few days. A slow rising HCG can be indicative of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. A scan at around 6-7 weeks should be able to show a heartbeat and once a heartbeat is present, then the risk of miscarriage drops to around 5%. So if I could get to that stage I can imagine I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief. One minute I feel ecstatic and love thinking about the future, and another I try to reign myself in, thinking I shouldn't get ahead of myself so early.

In other news, there have been some unexpected house costs lately. There's a problem with our water heating. It came to a head the day of the result actually. Hubby was all stressed but I was barely thinking about it. He said, "don't you care if there's no hot water and you have to have cold showers"? I think my reply was something like, "I would gladly take cold showers for all nine months if I can have a healthy pregnancy!" Anyway it turns out the problem has gotten worse so I have been having to have cold showers lately, haha. And I don't mind as long as the baby or babies on board are doing ok. That said, we are getting someone to come to the house to try to fix the problem as soon as possible. We are hoping it won't be too expensive. There have been quite a few unforeseen repairs that have come up ever since we moved in. I don't think our surveyor did a great job at predicting stuff!

I also wanted to mention that I know I have a lot of followers who are still in the midst of the infertility trenches. I will try my best to be as sensitive as possible regarding our news and I certainly don't intend to turn this into a "pregnancy" blog now. Occasionally I will mention it but I plan to write about plenty of other things too. Of course, it's still at an extremely early stage so I don't feel like I am out of the woods yet by any means but I am incredibly grateful to have reached this point!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Is this for real? Overjoyed!

This morning I went to my clinic for the blood test. I told the nurse that I had already tested yesterday and gotten a positive and asked about getting more prescriptions for my meds. I also inquired about when I should get the next Intralipid infusion done. I had brought it with me just in case. The nurse gave me the prescriptions I would need, about one week's worth by the looks of things and then told me they would administer the intralipid for me today!

I was glad to get it done rather than have to come back a different day though I was annoyed at myself for forgetting to pack a snack. I'd had breakfast at 8.30am but I wouldn't end up getting home until around 2pm. I was told the clinic would phone me between 2 and 3pm. Dr. Peppy who had been on holiday was back and it was really nice to see her again. I asked her what HCG value would they like to see today and she said at least 50.

I only got in the door around 2pm, had some lunch and then around half an hour later the phone rang. I was too scared to answer it! Hubby answered and put it on speaker phone. The woman from the clinic sounded happy so I already had a good feeling. She said that it was positive and all the values were great! Hubby asked what the HCG value was exactly and she said...wait for it... 239!!! Can you believe it? What a great value!!

Back during my first IVF, I only had a value of 28. This pregnancy already feels different and stronger, thank God!! I phoned my Dad on skype and he cried, it was so sweet. I was crying too! This is honestly like a dream come true, though it still feels surreal!

Next week I go back to my clinic for a second blood test. No scan yet unfortunately. They seem to just want you to do several blood tests before the first scan. It's extremely early days, like I'm only 4 weeks now. But, I am so grateful and amazed that our fourth and final IVF may be actually working!! Today is the best day!! Thank you so much everyone for all the support and lovely comments.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy tears

I had been debating the merit of testing a day or two before the official blood test. A single pregnancy test was in my drawer so it wasn't like I'd have to actually go out and buy any. For several days I went over the pros and cons of testing early. The main advantage being an extra day to "prepare" myself if it were negative. The last few days I have also had quite a few ups and downs.

One moment convinced this hasn't worked as I don't feel anything and with my bad luck in terms of trying to have a baby why would it? I'd even started thinking what we would do if it failed. Places we could visit for instance Barcelona or Malta sprung to mind. I also was wondering whether it would then make sense to make an appointment at our clinic to find out their thoughts and how low are chances are. However then I'd remind myself to stay hopeful a bit longer. The evening before last I started noticing some twinges around my ovaries which I couldn't help thinking could be a good sign. I've also had heartburn quite frequently. Although anything can be a side effect from all the drugs and hormones!

Ok, I'll get to the point... Before breakfast I decided to sneak away and do a test before hubby could tell me not to. Once I saw the dye initially just create the control test line and nothing else I looked away thinking "oh no, I can't bear this if it will be negative" and I started praying desperately while I waited.

About minute later I peeked at the test and to my absolute shock there was a second line. I looked again closer. It was definitely there! I double checked the instructions on the test, I was doing it right. Then I burst into tears! Extremely happy tears. I was shaking from just feeling so overwhelmed. I'm delighted! I am honestly really happy to have come one step closer. When I went back to the bedroom to tell hubby who was only just waking up, I burst into tears again. At first he got worried and couldn't tell whether I was happy or sad! I managed to get out that they were "happy tears" as he hugged me.

This is just stage one. The next hurdle is getting a good strong beta value at the blood test tomorrow. After our first IVF the HCG value was only 28 which implied it could end up being an early miscarriage which it sadly was. A number over 50 would have been better but ideally over 100. Hubby is still very apprehensive and worried. He told me he's anxious I'm getting my hopes up too much. I told him I am just taking it one day at a time and today I can be happy! I know I still have a long way to go. But the amazing thing is that one or both of our embryos implanted and as of right now, I am pregnant!! Please God the blood test will go well tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blissful ignorance

Right now I'm in a strange place. Our embryos may have implanted and I could be on my way to our dream of having a baby being fulfilled. Or nothing may be happening and it could end up being another heartbreaking negative call next week. Even though I would usually like the "two week wait" to be over quicker so I can just find out already, a big part of me just wants to remain in blissful ignorance a while longer. If our fourth and final IVF ends up being a negative then I'm in no rush to come crashing down. I'd just like to stay hopeful believing this could still happen for us awhile longer. So that's where I'm at now. One week down and scared for the outcome.

Hubby and I also had a discussion last night about what we would do it this fails. I said I know I would come out the other end eventually but initially I could imagine sinking into depression if it turns out all our efforts to have a family haven't come to pass. There are times when I question all my decisions in life leading up to this point. If I'd known all the challenges we would have had trying to have a baby then of course I would have started trying earlier. A few months probably wouldn't have made a big difference though. Hubby commented that even if I didn't have the issues with my fallopian tubes from previous surgeries I could still have had problems getting and staying pregnant due to the elevated natural killer cells or the missing KIR genes which were discovered during the immune blood panel.

This all sounds pretty depressing. Despite everything I was also thinking recently that we have quite an idyllic life in a lot of ways. We both love our house. That was a great decision and we are getting great joy out of spending time in our garden so far this Summer. We have a happy marriage, that's certainly not a given. Life in Germany is nice. We have a good standard of living. Coming from Ireland I really appreciate having a proper Summer here! We both have decent jobs, our health and a circle of friends, not to mention loving supportive families. So I'll remind myself that whatever happens we will find a way to be complete even if our "family" remains a family of two. In the meantime I'll stay hopeful and believe.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Time for the good wife

The day after our transfer I was injection free which was great! The two week wait of IVF always feels a little strange. You go from having numerous appointments at your clinic every few days and being extra busy to all of a sudden having free time and getting radio silence from your clinic. I'm doing well at the moment though. There were a few times where I got a bit emotional/stressed/overwhelmed thinking about it all but I've mainly been happy and positive. I've been reminded by my lovely blog commentators that each cycle and embryo tells a new story. Just because it hasn't worked for us before doesn't mean it couldn't happen now (sometimes I just think I can't even imagine this actually working..)

I'd taken several days off work after the transfer and I've really been taking it easy which has been nice! Hubby and I have done some things around the house; unpacking and organizing where we put things, cooking and eating lots of healthy meals but also just spending time together watching TV or relaxing in the garden. My favourite two shows at the moment are "The Good Wife" and "Call the Midwife". Hubby jokes I love any shows containing the word "wife" in the title, haha!

I'd actually stopped watching "Call the midwife" after our third round failed as I couldn't face seeing all the pregnancies and babies. However I feel fine about watching it now. I love shows set in the old days. "The Good Wife" is something I begun watching after IVF round three failed. It's perfect as it's a court room drama without a plot involving babies or pregnancies. I love watching shows with strong women characters. There are also about seven seasons on Netflix so lots to catch up on!

Oh yeah, I've also been trying to practice "social isolation" and staying away from other men lately, haha! There was a study which showed that women who avoided males other than their partner for three days after and IVF transfer had a higher rate of becoming pregnant. I figure anything is worth a shot at this point!

Last night I had a really sweet dream. In it, I had twin baby girls. There were about six months old and in a double buggy and I was bringing them around the park and shops with me. I was also tickling their chins and talking to them. They were laughing and smiling at me and I felt a strong sense of love. I woke up thinking how nice a thought it is that the embryos inside me could be communicating in some way. Yes, I know that probably sounds pretty far fetched! It could easily be that I have babies on the brain lately and it meant nothing, but it was sweet all the same! During our first IVF I remember having a dream of boy-girl twins.

A few days after our result we'll be hosting my mother in law's birthday party at our place. I'd offered to do it ages ago, not realising the timing. My MIL said if we get a positive result, it would be the best birthday present ever for her. It was a sweet and well meaning thing to say but for some reason I just felt added pressure, like if this doesn't work I'll be letting everyone down. I know I shouldn't feel like that though. Both sides are the family would just love to be grandparents.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Final transfer

It was strange to think that, considering we have agreed this is our final try of IVF, then today was also the last time our embryos would be transferred into me. Everything went pretty smoothly. The doctor wouldn't tell us the rating of the embryos but commented that one of them had grown particularly fast and was the better of the two.

This morning I went to the hairdresser bright and early at 8am! I wanted to get my hair coloured and cut before the transfer. If all goes well, then I would try to avoid dying my hair for as long as possible and then ideally only with dyes containing less chemicals. It seems overwhelming thinking that in two weeks I'll know the outcome! By then I'll know if it's a total negative and our journey to try to have our child or children will be over and it will be time to look towards a different future.

After the transfer hubby and I had a silly argument. The details are a bit stupid but I ended up getting emotional. All the stress from the past two weeks was getting to me. I'm feeling much better now though. And reasonably positive. Once we got home we had a relaxing afternoon. I've taken several days off work post transfer this time and that will be nice to have some time to relax before going back to work.

This is the top I wore for the transfer. I love butterflies and something about them has always made me feel hopeful. As well as the spotty socks I had worn for my first IVF transfer, the only time I was properly pregnant, even though it was short lived! This evening we watched the latest Muppets film which was a bit of fun.

If I start thinking about things too much then it's a little overwhelming so I'm planning to keep up the philosophy I used at the beginning of this cycle and just take things one day at a time. I am also planning to try to hold off for the official blood test if I can manage it this time. If I do any pregnancy tests beforehand I run the risk of getting false positive again (which happened the previous two times from leftover IVF hormones!). And even if it were an actual positive I wouldn't know the HCG value until the blood test anyway and it could end up being a chemical. So best just to wait it out.

Thanks so much to all my online friends who have been supporting and following along by the way!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Disappointing result but still hope left

Today was quite a let down after the excitement of yesterday. The clinic phoned and told me that out of the five eggs collected, only two of them fertilized. So now because there are so few embryos we'll be doing a three day rather than five day transfer as it's just too risky to wait the extra days. We are getting "assisted hatching" done this time though to hopefully increase our odds a little.

I know I should be grateful that we have two embryos, and I am absolutely, it was just a let down. I feel a bit stupid for the fact I let myself get so excited and carried away (as usual). I thought this cycle was turning out much better than the previous ones but it's just the same. We are still only ending up with two embryos after going through everything. During the previous IVF (third round) we transferred two great quality ones, but it failed nonetheless. These will be the sixth and seventh embryos we have created altogether.

I had a bit of a cry about it. I decided it's better to let the negatively out now and then from transfer day onwards I'll try to get the positivity back! I also decided I owe it to our two potential children growing in a petri dish right now to be hopeful and fight for them! I'm excited for the transfer anyway. That's always the highlight of the IVF process for me! Hubby is coming too.

We ended up having to entertain friends this afternoon which wasn't ideal timing wise! It was a colleague of my husband and his wife plus their seven month old baby. We haven't shared our infertility struggles with them as the guy is quite a gossip and hubby wouldn't want him spreading stories about us. They are nice but literally obsessed with their offspring! I'd be trying to tell them about our Australia trip for instance and then one of them would interrupt to point out that the baby had made a "cute" noise or slapped the table or whatever. A bit rude really. They also insisted on showing me several videos of the kid. I hope if this works out for us then we wouldn't be parents like that who don't have anything else in their lives to talk about!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Today was a good day

Normally the egg retrieval day is one of the worst for me as I've tended to have disappointing results. There was the first IVF where six promising follicles only led to two eggs, followed by the second where only a single egg was collected. My previous cycle was somewhat better with four eggs retrieved. At my old clinic we wouldn't be told how many eggs there were until the appointment with the doctor a few hours later and it was always an agonizing wait!

At my new clinic the doctor told us the egg number immediately after! Such a nicer way of doing things. So I was recovering from the procedure while feeling really happy as this time around, I got five eggs!! Best result yet. Such a relief as after my previous appointment I was terrified we might only end up with one or two. I wasn't in any pain after and generally have been recovering well. The plan is that the clinic will phone to let me know how many of the eggs fertilized. If we have three or more embryos then we will go for a transfer on day five, otherwise day three. The doctor told me that if we end up with only three embryos then it is likely only one will survive till day five. So as usual probably no leftovers to freeze.

I enquired about my thyroid value as it was tested at my last visit. And I could hardly believe it but the TSH value has gone down to 0.9?! Isn't that amazing? It had been 3.11 two weeks ago and I'd even considered postponing our IVF start because of it. Today has just been a really good day. The doctor I had this time (there are about five different ones at the new clinic) commented on how much she loves my accent and hearing me speak which was sweet!

I'll be kept busy the next while keeping up with all the injections and meds I have to take at certain times during the day so it's just as well I have an IVF diary where I've been writing it all down to keep track. As you can see from the picture, it has the Irish flag on the cover! I saw it and thought I could do with the extra "luck" of the Irish, haha! It came with a green pen as well.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ups and downs of an IVF cycle

Well, I've arrived at the first descending part of the emotional roller coaster that is IVF. After my last appointment, I had two more days of injections to try to encourage the smaller follicles to catch up. At my latest appointment, it wasn't looking as good as I'd hoped. I have two big follicles on my left hand side, the rest are still tiny and it's looking less likely they will catch up. There are also two follicles on the right hand side though these are small. The doctor tried to prepare me by saying that worst case scenario is we might only get two eggs at the retrieval. My heart dropped when she said that. I had really been hoping that this new drug, Elonva which has shown promising results for poor responders like me might help or at least that the DHEA I'd taken for the past two months would if not. The doctor said that she really can't tell how many eggs I will end up with, I might be lucky and get more or not. So now I'm worried about maybe even ending up with less than two! Or if I do get at least two I'll be terrified that they might not be mature enough. During my last IVF attempt I got four eggs at the retrieval but only half of them fertilized. Although, the ones that did then grew into very good quality embryos, I still didn't get pregnant. There are so many unknowns in this whole process.

Yesterday's appointment was disappointing. This time I had a different doctor too and she wasn't as nice as the others have been. When I mentioned I was meant to get blood taken to get my thyroid checked she disagreed and implied I must have misunderstood (with the implication being because my German isn't good enough. Although maybe I'm just extra sensitive at the moment...). When she found a slip in my file which was marked that I WAS meant to get bloods taken she still didn't say anything nice and later when I was anxious about the number of follicles she wasn't exactly encouraging. I also started to worry that she might be turning the egg collection wrong and the follicles would be the wrong size, but I eventually decided that it's better not to second guess the doctor as that would just lead to more stress! I'll keep trying to trust that they know what they are doing.

Following the previous scan where I had seven follicles growing, I had started to get my hopes up thinking how amazing it would be if we ended up with six or seven eggs meaning even extras to freeze (and maybe a potential chance of a second child!). I was getting carried away too far on the positivity cloud and now I feel like I've being rudely awakened from the dream. My thought after the appointment was "I'm just so sick of this sh*t". Excuse the language. I don't normally curse but IVF brings it out of me! Maybe it's a good thing we have decided this is our final round as I feel like I've reached my limit. It's so frustrating to go through a week of injections only to not have your body respond as well as it should.

It was also just one of those days where everything that could go wrong did. A good friends at work announced they would be leaving in a few months. After my appointment I went to the pharmacy beside the clinic and they were out of one of the meds I needed. They had the other two but they wouldn't sell me those as you aren't allowed to get items on a prescription from separate pharmacies apparently. On the way home, I was in a bit of a daze trying to figure out how I'd be able to get the hormones I needed in time to do this morning's shots and I went to the wrong platform just as my train was pulling off. The subsequent train ended up being delayed so I missed my connection and had to wait half an hour in a train station in middle of no where. I didn't end up getting home till almost 10.30pm. It was a long day. There was also storm with really loud thunder and I wasn't able to sleep for ages.

So then this morning I had to get up extra early to go to the pharmacy in town which normally stocks IVF meds (at my local pharmacy you have to order them and it can take several hours at least). Once there after waiting in the queue, I find out that one of the drugs I need isn't available at the moment (Predalon). This is for the trigger shot which I have to give myself tonight at exactly 9pm. When the lady at the pharmacy said I would need a new prescription, I started panicking! It just felt like everyone was going wrong. Luckily she was helpful and said she could phone the clinic and get them to fax over the new prescription (for something called Brevacid which is the same thing just twice the price apparently). Crisis averted. While I was waiting for her to get the meds for me, a pretty young mother came in and then the pharmacist ignored me and went over to 'oo' and 'ahh' at the baby for several minutes. At this stage it was getting later and later. Granted the baby was pretty adorable but come on! Eventually I got my meds, raced home, did the morning injections (I've been told to stimm for one extra day to try to give the follicles a chance to catch up) and then just about made it in to work on time.

The GerMann has been very supportive I must say. He keeps reminding me that he loves me whatever happens and says I'm not letting him down (sometimes I feel like I am). He said that he hadn't been getting his hopes up too much and had been remaining "realistic" about it all. He's used to us only getting a few eggs at the retrieval. I know whatever happens, we will have each other. I still really really want this to work though. The egg collection will be in two days. I'd appreciate if you could please keep sending prayers and positive thoughts my way!