Friday, April 30, 2010

Double, Double, Toil & Trouble

. . . To quote the Scottish play.

Today's HCG was 340, so it has more than doubled. I was very pleased about that! Then I saw that someone had posted on my message board that she had a positive today that was "well over 250" at 14dpo with a 3 day transfer. So her 1st level was twice as high as my 1st one with one day less cooking. And now I feel worried again! Hence the toil & trouble, She did have two embryos put back, so maybe it's twins, but why can I not be happy with what I know was a perfectly good starting level and a fantastic increase over 48 hrs?!

Because I have to worry about something! Ugh! I feel like an ungrateful female canine!

And now I am at my mother-in-law's for the weekend, surrounded by family, so I shall shut up and concentrate on enjoying myself and appreciate the time that I have with this pregnancy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Territory

My HCG level today, at the equivalent of 15dpo, is 120. According to Dr Google, average for this point is about 60, so that would be a good positive.

I've just posted on the IF message board I've been on for the last five years and I feel like a total fraud - why would I be posting a "BFP" - that's just like setting myself up for the biggest fall ever. My magical, superstitious thinking has had me denying any possibility of success (or happiness) since the bombshell of my first loss. I heard I was going to miscarry while on the first day of a romantic holiday in Bil.bao, I started miscarrying on the second day. Up till that point, I had seen no reason why a positive pee stick wouldn't lead to a baby. How different my world was after that! With hindsight, the doctor's test on my pee on the first day of my missed period came back as "equivocal", which didn't worry me at the time, but should have. And I took a pack of sanit.ary tow.els with me in my suitcase - totally subconscious but a godsend, as it turns out.

Seven years, five more losses, many rounds of fertility treatment later and I have learned to take nothing for granted. For example, there's a bit of me thinking that a good HCG level at this point is brand new - we've had blood levels on 14 dpo for four pregnancies - 28, 6, 17 and one where it had already gone back to less than 5 between the pee test on the Sunday and the blood test on the Monday. BUT although the pee test on the first pregnancy was equivocal, the level at 5 weeks 5 days was over 120, and that was not long before I lost the pregnancy so it was probably on its way down from a higher level - and maybe I'd miscalculated my dates and ov.ulated later than I thought.

What I'm trying to say is that, although the title of this post is "New Territory", I know it might not be - it's possible that we might just have a repeat run of the first pregnancy.

I'm going back for a repeat test on Friday to look for doubling and I have a scan booked on 21st May. That is really weird - the only scans I've ever had have been as part of a treatment cycle or to check that my losses have been complete. I've never even gotten to the stage of booking a pregnancy scan, never mind having one.

I am also painfully aware of how much my success to this point will hurt some of my friends in the IF world - and that I may lose my small readership here just as it started to take off a little. As I said on the message board, I still feel like one of you and I am still convinced this is not going to work out. But, as my wee sister (who had her own struggles having her kids) has said, being miserable will not change the outcome and, if this is the last experience I ever have of being pregnant, I should enjoy it. I remember reading the blog of someone who had lost a baby at around 20 weeks and being incredibly moved by the fact that she spoke of having enjoyed her pregnancy. Her loss seemed unbearable to me - much worse than anything I had been through - yet despite the awful pain and loss she had suffered, she had held on to those incredibly precious memories and treasured them. An amazing example!

So even if I only have a good positive for tonight, I am going to try and enjoy it at least a little.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Mr Dig.ital tells me I am pregnant. Furthermore, he tells me it has been 1-2 weeks since conception. Indeed it has - the embryo was conceived not last Tuesday but the one before!

BUT - this is pregnancy number 7, and the others didn't go so well, so I am very, very anxious. I sent my poor husband out to find an old-style so I could see how blue the line comes up. In the past, the lines have been visible only, to quote another blogger I can't remember the name of right now, "by the light of a million suns". The line did take a moment or two to come up and it started quite faint but it's definitely there. It's been about 4 years since the last time I saw a positive test, so obviously the comparison is tricky, but CM says he thinks it's the clearest one of ours he's seen - which isn't saying much :-/ .

Apart from the cramping, which continues on and off and is worrying me now I know I'm pregnant (even though I know that implantation cramping is normal [sigh]), I'm not really having much in the way of symptoms. I've been a tiny bit nauseous, but then I was really nauseous before the embryo went in and I think the Pro.gynova was to blame. I am also worrying about immune symptoms (sore throat and a bit of a headache today) as I've been told I have immune issues, but I'm not sure if I believe in all that anymore after the cycle from hell a couple of years ago.

The beta is on Wednesday morning with results after 4pm - that'll be a fun day! I'll be asking for another on Friday to see what the levels are doing. I am very tempted to go and try and get a beta at the early pregnancy unit tomorrow, but I don't want to muddy the waters and I think waiting till Wednesday is the sensible thing to do.

Kind of wishing I hadn't tested now and just waited for the bloods. I'd had forgotten how terrifying this is!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nothing Much Happening Round Here

But a heck of a lot could be happening next week. Just checking in to say I have no idea whether this cycle has worked or not.

The urge to pee on a stick came upon me on Thursday - almost a whole week after the transfer, which is some kind of record for me (I tested daily from the HCG shot last IVF - yeah, before the embryo even went back in!). And I resisted it - yay for me! I have a two-pack of the most expensive pee tests I've ever bought - the digital ones that, as well as telling you whether you are pregnant, tell you how pregnant you are (or, in my case, probably how pregnant I'm not). I will collect some early morning pee tomorrow, but won't test till I've been to my friend's son's Christening - an event I wouldn't contemplate attending if I were to pee on a stick and get a negative.

I've been having some cramping for the last couple of days - just a little. I'm bemused by it though, as it's not like the cramping I've had in early pregnancy before (which felt like someone poking me from the inside) but as my pro.stap shot still has almost a week's life in it and I'm still taking the pro.gynova and the gel, my period should not be starting either. I have never bled while taking any kind of progesterone. Possibly psychosomatic then . . .

Ah well, tomorrow will tell. If it's a negative, then I can be 99.9% sure that the cycle is a bust. I have always had a positive pee test by that point in a pregnancy, even when the bHCG numbers turned out to be very low indeed. As Carrie over at Precious Little texted me today "Sometimes the not knowing is easier to deal with than the knowing".

I don't think I've mentioned before now that, since January, we have been making plans to buy a house with my parents and subdivide it - we would live on the first floor and they would have ground-floor-only living for their anticipated old age. The house is right next door to the one they live in now - the one they have lived in since I was 6 months old. CM is an architect and has drawn up detailed plans and got it through the first stages (no guarantees) of planning. Only thing is that the house isn't ours and there is another party interested. To say we have a lot invested in this would be an understatement. It would give my parents a sensible place to live for as long as they could cope on their own, and longer since we'd be upstairs to help out. It would allow them to stay in the neighbourhood they've lived in for 41 years and with the neighbours they've had for much of that time. It would give us a much quieter and nicer place to live and let us stay in an area we love and would mean that when my parents need help, I wouldn't need to trek for miles to give it to them. We've also invested a fair amount financially too, in terms of legal advice etc.

It all seems to be coming to a head now, so by this time next week we could have a pregnancy and a house project on our hands, or one and not the other. I dread the idea that we could end next week with neither.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Testing, testing. First attempt to blog by email!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Bit More Hope

So, as of yesterday, I have a day three, 12 cell (!) "perfect" (no fragmentation at all, all cells perfectly even) embryo on board and in the freezer we have two 9 cells and an 8 cell, all also "perfect" (apparently they have a tiny, tiny bit of fragmentation, but they think it's just a by-product of the division that will disappear, not a result of the cells themselves breaking down). One embryo stopped developing properly, sadly.

After another chat with our friendly embryologist, who had held my hand through the IVF or ICSI decision (we chose IVF and got 100% ferlisation), we decided not to wait till day five and risk losing the chance of a future frozen embryo transfer. You see, despite having been pregnant six times naturally, I have not ever, not once, even slightly got pregnant on any kind of medicated cycle. Six rounds of Clo.mid, one IUI, one IVF and one ICSI and not even a biochemical pregnancy. I know several other girls with a similar history, one of whom has only ever had a positive on a natural FET. I just wonder if the drugs don't agree with me. So, if we'd got to day five and only had one embryo to put back (or even one to put back and one to freeze - since the defrosting process is risky) and then this cycle hadn't worked, I'd always be wondering whether the drugs were the reason.

Plus, I have to say, if this round is a bust, then knowing it's not the end and that we don't have to go on a long list or try abroad will be a comfort. I think the clinic agreed with our decision as they kept talking about us having made "best use" of the embryos and saying that we were in a "fantastic" position. One of the nurses said that they can never seek to influence us, only give us the facts, but it's always a relief when the patient makes a sensible decision.

We decided to go for a single embryo transfer even before we knew how good the one that went back was. As I said in a previous post, any pregnancy I might have would be high-risk because of my age and underlying health conditions and there was no way I wanted to add twins to the cocktail of risk factors. If it had been my own eggs, I would have asked them to chuck in at least two - possibly the lot! But, we're in a new place here. The embryologist has said that, while noone can give us a completely conclusive theory, it does seem from the way that these embryos have behaved, as compared to the one from my own eggs, that my eggs may have been our issue all along. It's kind of a relief to have as near to an answer as I think we're going to get for just now. Of course, if I get pregnant and then have another early loss, then it's all up for grabs again!

The embryo went back in on my Godson's birthday and my official test date is Wednesday 28th April, two days after what would have been my much-loved maternal grandmother's 100th birthday. My superstitious, magical thinking side says these are good omens. I will pee on a stick before the 28th though, but not until after I've been to the Christening of a good friend's baby next weekend. She's been through miscarriage too, and has been very sweet to me and I really want to go to the ceremony. But if I've just found out I'm not pregnant, it would be too hard to go. So I shall remain in ignorance, and maybe even have a couple of flights of fancy during the service and smile wistfully, and then come back down to earth after I've done my duty.

I really like the embryologist! Not only has he been very patient and helpful at each stage of the process, but he's also funny and friendly. We finally met him yesterday and he shook our hands warmly and said how lovely it was to meet us both at last. Then he told us about our embryos and what good decisions we'd made. He was so enthusiastic about the quality of the embryo that was going back that I had to laugh a little. Maybe everyone gets the same speech, but he said it was the best embryo he could remember seeing for a long, long time. He called it "an embryo on a mission" and said "it knew where it was going". I said to CM afterwards that if it really knew where it was going and what my uterus did to embryos, it would have upped and run in the opposite direction.

But still, there's that hope again, dammit!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Little Hope is a Dangerous Thing!

So - we're in the middle of a donor egg cycle.

We got a call about two months ago to tell us that the clinic had a egg-share donor for us. We'd promised ourselves that, having twice said no to donors because it was the wrong time (I know, I know - it seems mad, but I'm glad we did it), we would say yes to the next one regardless of what they said about her (eg job, eye-colour etc). So I was a bit nervous, to say the least.

I haven't really talked much about our donor egg process on here. It was after the 6th miscarriage that a lovely nurse who saw me in the early pregnancy unit asked me if we had considered donor eggs. We had, in theory, but had thought that - hoped that - it wouldn't come to that. Several friends offered to give me their eggs - how lucky am I! - but they were all the same age as me (or older) and had all had issues of their own with getting or staying pregnant, so they weren't suitable. Plus, I really wasn't sure I could put them through the regime, never mind the issues surrounding their existing kids. And that's before all the concerns about whether I could cope with the idea of the child not being genetically mine. Still, we found a brand new clinic at a city near home that was doing egg-share and we put our names on the list.

A year later, we heard from them and that bit I have blogged about. The first donor came at a time when I had a temporary promoted post and the second just as we heard about the array CGH cycle possibility. So it all went on hold. Then there was the hypertension diagnosis and the concern that all thoughts of pregnancy might be over for good. But we got the go ahead to try, had a little bit of "normal life" and a nice holiday in Chicago and then told the clinic we were ready to go for it. In the meantime, I came to terms (as much as anyone can, I think) with the thought of giving up on the idea of my own genetic child.

However, I was worried. Our clinic has been at great pains to tell me all about the physical features of our possible donors - height, hair colour, eye colour. But, really, I really couldn't care less about that - our family has ranged in height from 6'2" down to 4'11"; we have blue, grey, brown and green eyes in our range; my grandmother was a redhead, my sister is mostly blond, my mum is mousey-brown, I am dark brown and my dad has black hair; my paternal grandfather had tight, tight curls while my mother's hair is as straight as anything; My skin is, as Billy Connolly joked, a typically Scots "blue - it takes me a week in the sun to go white" (actually, I burn in seconds and am covered in freckles) while my sister goes golden-brown after an hour. Short of a totally different skin colour (which, frankly, only bothers me in terms of the prejudice the child might face from the ignorant of the world), you could give us any combination of physical features and we could track it back to a close relative. Plus, since we're planning on being totally up-front about the fact that any child that might result from this is a donor child, we don't really see the point of making sure that their features match mine faithfully.

Call me an intellectual snob, but intelligence was important though. Not book-learning, mind, or social class, just common-sense smarts. My mother's side of the family is upper-middle class and I'm the fourth generation of women on that side to go to university. My dad's family is very working class and my sister and I are still the only women on that side of the family to have gone to university. BUT - both sides of the family are smart people - my dad's mum would have loved to have continued her education beyond the age of fourteen (and would have been well able to), but she had to go out to work to support her family and only her brothers got to stay on at school. Opportunity is everything, so I know very well that your level of education and your social class indicate nothing about your IQ. How on earth do you work that one out from the very limited info you get about a donor?!

Well, we hit extremely luck with ours. While it sounds like she probably hasn't been to uni, she goes to night classes and her main interests are the same as mine and CM's - art and music. That's all I needed to know - she is interested in learning and she values some of the same bits of life. That's more than good enough for me! I said yes without even consulting CM. He was as delighted as me.

We're now at the stage where I've downregulated (prostap injection, then another 3.5 weeks later when it became clear that my donor was a wee bit further behind than me) and been taking progynova for two weeks. I'm feeling a bit nauseous and lethargic, which I think is down to the progynova. The donor has had egg-collection and we got five eggs - I felt a little disappointed, but cheered up when I heard that all five had fertilised and that, if we manage to get four good embryos, we might go to blastocyst.

Just hearing that all five eggs had fertilised catapulted me into an optimism I really didn't want to feel. That optimism seems to come with every cycle - first time it was getting 16 eggs and then 13 embryos (all of which were slow growing and relatively poor quality and led to a BFN), second time it was hearing that one of my own five eggs was genetically normal and had turned into an embryo (but that was slow growing and also led to a BFN). A bit of me would love to dive deeper into that optimism and enjoy it while it lasts, but a bit of me is terrified that it will end in the same way as the cycles with my own eggs (and the IUI and the six cycles with Clomid and the countless totally natural attempts that ended in BFNs or miscarriages). Superstition, white magic and bargains with God are all under consideration at this point!