Divine Appointments, and I Am Doing Well

God has the perfect timing.  The retreat in San Diego was such a blessing.  The things that I learned, the friends that I got to know better, and the random strangers that i encountered were all a blessing to me.  This retreat couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  All the encounters with different people were divine appointments.

I was doing fine on Friday.  When I arrived at the airport, I was still not in the mood to talk about myself.  The whole world was a still little grim to me.  But the Lord was good.  I saw my friends there at the airport and shared with one of them about what had happened the day before.  I was surprised that I could speak about it without tearing up or crying.  Big step forward.  I was quite late to get on the plane so there weren’t too many seats left.  My three friends who got on way ahead of me pointed me to a middle seat across from them.  I squeezed in and wasn’t planning on talking to anybody.  The woman next to me asked me how to change her phone to the airplane mode.  I still didn’t want to talk to her much.  But once I saw what she was reading, I knew that she was going to the same retreat I was heading to.  So I started striking up a conversation with her.  We ended up chatting the whole hour and a half nonstop.  Because we talked so much about my husband and her family, she asked if we were planning on having children.  I somehow felt very connected to her and shared our sad news with her.  That brought tears to her eyes.  Then I found out that her oldest boy’s name is the same name that I will give to my boy in the future!  I was very surprised by it because it’s not a common name.  I bumped into her many times during the retreat as well as on the flight back to SFO.  We talked about making plans to get together in the future since she lives about 15 minutes away from me.  Praise God that my sad news didn’t put me in a cocoon and didn’t stop me from connecting with people.

Throughout the whole retreat, I met many people, heard many stories, went to many lectures, and learned many things.  These experiences helped me put things in perspective that there are things that are so much bigger than me and my world.  It somehow really helped me to begin the healing process of my loss.  This was a retreat for about 3000 leaders for this bible study program in three states.  Nineteen leaders of my group attended.  We didn’t necessarily all stick together all the time. But I did bump into many of them in these three days.  Whenever I saw one of the leaders from my group, I was often asked how I was doing.  And I often shared about the pregnancy and the loss.  I didn’t know that one of the ladies who is in her 60’s also went through infertility in her 30’s.  She is currently widowed but is engaged to a wonderful man and is set to marry him in the summer.  But she teared up when she heard my news and was sharing about the devastation at that time when she couldn’t get pregnant or keep a pregnancy and her late husband did not want to pursue adoption.  It was a painful period of time for her but she finally had it resolved.  She does not have any children. The power of the experience was great though as she was still emotional talking about it almost 30 years later.

Because I was very open about my loss, I talked about it over twenty times during these three days.  The more I talked about it, the more at peace I felt.  I was grateful that the Lord gave me this time to share and to help me mourn, grieve, and heal.

I was very surprised to bump into a friend of mine at the retreat.  I didn’t know that she had also become a leader for this bible study program and she was also attending this retreat.  I was so shocked when I saw her.  I walked up to her and gave her a big hug.  This was a couple of minutes before the morning lecture began.  She asked me how I was doing.  I told her right then and there about the pregnancy and the loss, and also that it was after our fourth IVF.  Her first reaction was, I am so sorry about your loss.  A little background about this friend: she got married at 38, got pregnant at 40, and gave birth at 41.  She had a loss before her take home baby.  Then she told me that she had two more losses after the birth of her daughter. The last one was just in November at 9 weeks.  She then told me to think twice before I begin another IVF cycle and to pray about it because she got pregnant on her own and they were all natural conceptions.  Unfortunately the lecture was about to start and I couldn’t “defend” myself and my decisions.  I texted her later and asked if we could have lunch together.

I was frankly a bit bugged by her first reaction and her advice of what I should do or shouldn’t do in the future.  Thank God that there was a whole lecture of 2.5 hours for me to calm down and to think from her perspective.  I think people are just very quick to use their own experiences to give advice without having prior knowledge of what the other person has gone through.  After praying about it and thinking more about it, I was not bugged anymore.  Instead, I thought that she just needed a bit of education of my condition and our decision making process.  At lunch, we sat down and had a great chat.  We caught up on our lives and I told her clearly how we came to the conclusion of IVF (after a lot of prayers, seeking guidance from our pastor, and having peace in our hearts), how it had been difficult to conceive by ourselves, and how difficult the whole IVF process was.  I am glad that I cleared up any myths in her head and the confusion that she must have had about this process.  One thing that I stressed was that us taking the IVF path does not mean that we’re not depending on God.  I don’t have any less faith than she does who tries naturally only.  I am so glad that God gave me the courage to explain my standpoint to her without being defensive.  It was done out of love.  This friend and I hung out a few more times during this retreat.  I am so thankful that the Lord put us together at an unexpected place during an unexpected time.

The last divine appointment was on the way back to SFO.  I again was getting on the plane late so I had to go all the way to the back of the plane for a seat.  The girl in front of me took the seat that i wanted so I went even farther back and scored myself an aisle seat next to two ladies.  I recognized them. They were both bible study leaders that are from a class at a location 15 minutes away from my location.  I hadn’t really met them but I had seen them around at the retreat.  I sat down, said hi to them, and minded my own business.  The whole time they were chatting about various things about church, about bible study, about home, and about their kids.  I did my best to tune them out and just went on to read my own book.  When the plane was almost going to land, the lady next to me asked what book I was reading.  I showed her the title, she looked at it, and quickly pointed at her friend right next to her.  She said, You should’ve talked to her.  The book that I was reading was called “Moments for Couples who Long for Children”.  If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it.  It has helped me through many difficult moments.  Anyhow, from what I gathered, the lady who sat at the window seat tried to get pregnant for 18 years.  She went through four IVFs and numerous surgeries.  She finally adopted a baby girl at 10 months and now the little girl is three years old.  I shared my journey with her in the limited time that we had and how we experienced our first pregnancy and first loss.  This news brought tears to her eyes.  She asked for my name one more time, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I will definitely keep you in my prayers”.  That was such a sincere response and such a sweet moment, from one fellow sister in Christ to another, who understands exactly what the other one is going through.

I am doing well in general.  I get sad once in a while.  I pray and I have peace.  Bleeding started on Sunday, so at least my body is doing what it’s supposed to do instead of making me wait.  After crying my eyes out on Thursday, I didn’t cry until last night when the thought of the possibility of never having our own biological children sent me to a place of sorrow and I had to cry it all out.  That was good for my soul.  My husband is absolutely the best.  Each crisis we face together is a confirmation of the absolute best decision to marry him.  The Lord has brought us closer together because of our journey together.  That is my silver lining.  I think we’re going to take a break from thinking about IVF.  We just want to have a chance to grieve, mourn, and heal from this loss at this moment.

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday my heart broke into thousand pieces.  I need this recap for my own sake.

The following happened:

  • I prayed constantly from the second of the first beta results to the time I arrived at the lab for the second beta.  
  • The two days leading to the second beta, I told Clay and Eli that I loved them and that I really wanted to see them and hold them in my arms.  
  • I woke up very early in the morning, couldn’t go back to sleep, and visualized a black curly haired little baby crying so hard because somebody woke her up.
  • I had great distraction in the morning from my morning appointments.  Nervousness consumed me from noon on.  I imagined two different versions of report from Dr. E: Yay Isabelle the beta more than doubled, or I’m so sorry that this is not what we had hoped for.  I wavered between the two.
  • I had a whole village of ladies (and gents) waiting anxiously with us for the results.  We were on Facebook and they were there waiting with me.  Many of them couldn’t focus on work or whatever they were doing.  They were all rooting for us and anticipating great results.
  • Dr. E didn’t call until 12:48.  From her voice, I knew.  She said, the results are not what we had hoped for (exactly how I envisioned the conversation would go).  The beta level only went up two units.  We would want to see it double at this point.  She said that I had a choice of stopping all the meds at that point and just let my period come.  Some people choose to continue the meds until Friday, or Monday, or whatever time frame just to see.  She said that either way, she’d support me 100%.  
  • At that point, I started bawling.  I said that I would want to stop the meds if the pregnancy is not viable.  I asked her why is it so tough?  Of course there is not an answer to that question.  She said that my period should come in a week.  Then we’ll talk again.  She said, I’m so sorry….
  • I called Bob and couldn’t even talk.  That kind of cry that I was doing…. I don’t remember myself crying like that in my life.  Like what Elisha said…. that it feels like your gut has been punched and the wind has been knocked out of you.  That was exactly how it felt.  Poor Bob, he wasn’t feeling any better but he couldn’t come home early because he had a presentation to do at 4:45.  I was howling so loudly in my office that I am sure someone must have heard my cry even with my closed door.  I just couldn’t stay there at work, but I also couldn’t call the front desk staff to ask them to cancel the appointment.  I didn’t think I was going to be coherent.  So I went to my next door colleague’s office.  She is in the know… but I hadn’t shared with her about the first beta results.  She listened to me, hugged me, rubbed my back, called the front desk, kissed my head and told me to go home.
  • I’m grateful for my job that I could just take off like that.  
  • I was crying from my office to the elevator to the parking garage to the car all the way to Ocean Beach.  I didn’t want to go home because I didn’t want to see my mom yet.  I know my mom so well that she would tell me NOT to cry.  The last thing I wanted someone to do is for them to tell me NOT to grieve and mourn the way I needed to.  I drove straight to Ocean Beach.  
  • At first I sat in the car and continued howling.  Later I dragged one of the beach chairs we had in the trunk and went to the beach itself.  I sat there crying and being crazy and was all by myself in front of the water.  The sky was so bright and the water was so beautiful.  It was the saddest place on earth at that moment.  Image
  • That was the perfect place to be for a moment like that.  I sat there for two hours.  I texted my sister-in-law and knew that I could go over to her place later when she got home.
  • At one point, the wind had picked up and it was very cold.  I had to go back to the car to get my jacket and a blanket.  Then I sat there in the beach chair for some more until I finally felt hungry.  I could not get the stupid beach chair to fold again… Imagine me with tears streaming down my cheeks, I dragged the blanket, the water, the purse, and the unfolded beach chair in the sand back to the parking lot.  What a sight….
  • In the parking lot, a dad was putting a helmet on his little girl before he rode away in his bike… Tears streaming down my face again.
  • I went to a nearby cafe to get a cup of caramel latte (the first coffee in a few weeks) and a sandwich.  While sitting at the entrance eating, a dad walked in with a toddler.  Then the mom walked in, with a big belly.  Didn’t want to see them.  My SIL texted me at that moment.  Perfect timing.
  • I arrived at SIL’s house.  Again bawling…..  She listened to me, teared up with me, then prayed over me.  I had a pounding headache from all the crying. She had me lie down on her bed, placed a blanket over me, and tucked me in.  Then she sat behind me and rubbed my back for a good half an hour while I took a nap.  That was the best comfort I could ever imagine when my husband was stuck at work.  It was so sweet to have her around, loving me, and just being there with me quietly while I was resting, trying to heal, and just being in the moment.
  • When I woke up from the nap, the headache was gone.  It was 6:40 and I knew that Bob was trying to rush home.  I checked my phone and saw all the comments from you ladies.  Your loving kindness really helped make the situation better.  Bob was trying to call me at 5:50.  So I packed up, gave my SIL a tight hug, and drove home.
  • Of course I had to cry again when I saw my mother.  I explained to her what had happened.  She teared up, hugged me, and told me not to cry.  I knew that it was a wise decision to go somewhere other than home… I really didn’t need her to tell me anything.
  • Bob had ordered my Valentine’s day gift and it happened to have arrived yesterday: Image
  • They go with my “Hope” pendant.  Very fitting as I need faith, hope, and love at this moment.  
  • Bob came home with a smile on his face and a big giant hug.  It was so nice to have him by my side.  He managed to make me laugh a few times yesterday.  We went out for dinner.
  • He said that the most important thing right now is our marriage.  We will have our baby.  That’s his faith.
  • I am very thankful that despite all the things that happened yesterday, I still had a good night sleep.  I woke up this morning with peace in my heart.  I teared up a few times but in general I am doing well.  
  • I thought about what my friend M said yesterday in her comment.  I take back whatever I said yesterday that “I would rather not get pregnant than to have it taken away from me”.  This is my path.  I treasured those embryos and dearly loved them and still do.  They are our first children.  They fought hard for life.  Although they didn’t make it to this world, I was grateful that they were inside me and tried hard.  I am also glad that I did POAS and got my two lines.  
  • I emailed Dr. E about the embryos.  She said that 

    “The embryo has likely detached and is no longer in existence.
    Imagine a drop of water in the sun.
    It evaporates in a way.
    It isn’t hurt or anything like that.”

  • Today I fly to San Diego for a Bible conference for three days.  So I won’t be back until Sunday.  This is a welcome distraction as well as a chance to focus on God and the Bible.
  • I love all of you and thank you for being there for me at this time of heart break, grief, and healing.  I will see you all when I come back on Sunday.

Lucky Pee Cup and Lucky FRER

I am so thankful for all of you who celebrated with us yesterday!  Thanks for being there.  It still has not quite sunk in that my name and the word “pregnant” are associated with each other.  I was in a daze all day yesterday… Just couldn’t believe that it was really happening.  Everything took extra long to do; cooking, cleaning, writing notes at work, etc.  Just getting the news made me a little… in shock.

I went for a last minute acupuncture appointment.  Last week after my appointment, I was telling the receptionist that I wouldn’t schedule for an appointment this week. I was taking a break.  Really, deep down, I didn’t believe that the beta would be positive.  So once I found out about it, I immediately emailed my acupuncturist and she squeezed me in.  She said she could help my body accept the embryo more.  I’m so grateful that I have such a great relationship with her that she took me in right away.  

Throughout the night, I had a headache that lasted from about 7pm to this afternoon.  Almost 24 hours.  My go-to magic pill is usually Excedrin.  Then I realized immediately that it wasn’t safe to take Excedrin during a pregnancy.   I emailed my RE to confirm.  I fought the headache for a few hours then finally decided to pop two Tylenol.  It really didn’t help much.  So I had a headache on and off all night long.  I was also exhausted after I made dinner last night.  It was priceless to see Bob’s face when he came home.  That big grin on his face just melted my heart.  

My Facebook secret group ladies were urging me to POAS.  I really wasn’t going to do it.  But somehow I got convinced that I would want to see those two lines and I deserve to see them.  They really wanted to see the lines too.  So this morning, I took out my Lucky Pee Cup that I got from the moderator of the secret group as a gift from our Secret Santa in December.  This Lucky Pee Cup has got some serious bling on it.  I took out a FRER that my Dear Colleague gave me a couple of years ago.  It was a box of two.  She used up one for her second baby and gave me the other one.  I also took out a Wondfo.  Well, I have to say that I was risking my marriage because Bob was NOT happy that I was going to test after he left for bootcamp.  He thought that POAS would just stress me out more.  Of course I don’t listen to him.  I dipped the FRER in the pee cup and did the same for the Wondfo.  Waiting for the lines to come up was a bit nerve wracking.  And finally, those lines did come up:

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My first ever BFP in my life.  That box of FRER must have been lucky.  Two pink lines for both sticks.

And here is the lovely Lucky Pee Cup that was made specially by the lovely Maria:

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Bob came home.  I showed him the sticks.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  After all, he wasn’t mad at me for testing since the second line came up.  But he really doesn’t want to test again.  Comparing the darkness of the lines will just drive me crazy and stress me out.  I agree with him.  So after tomorrow’s beta, I will most likely just use the CB digital so I can see the word “pregnant”.  Then I’ll put everything away.  

Second beta is tomorrow at 7:45am.  I have been feeling quite calm all day today.  At times it freaks me out a little when I feel the discharge from using the Endometrin and think that I must be spotting or bleeding.  It really helps to read this post by Elisha.  One day at a time.  Today I want to believe that this will be okay in the end. I think that this baby, whoever it is inside me, deserves to be loved and cared for from day one.  

To end, for giggles, this is what Bob asked me just now:

“Hey babe, the pregnancy line cannot be caused due to progesterone right?”  Poor babe, he was worried that it was a false positive.

No babe.  No amount of progesterone can create a second line for you!

🙂

 

“Are you sitting down?”

That was what my RE asked me when she called at 12:17pm. 

I was holding my breath.  She told me, “It’s positive.”

I was like.. What?  Are you sure?  What’s the number?

So the number is 21.  I know in my  head it’s a bit low.  But it is 8 days past 5 day transfer.  She said anything over 15 is considered pregnant to her.  The number has to double on Thursday to 42.

I know too  much about beta…..  I need to chill and praise the Lord and be joyful for the first hurdle to be over.

Now bracing for the second beta.  Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts for Eli or Clay to stick with us please.

But at this moment, I am pregnant, for real, for the first time in my life.  🙂

Bracing Ourselves for First Beta

I was going to write a long post.  I lost steam after starting it.  So… I am just going to say that, tomorrow is the first beta day.  I had been doing quite well until this morning.  I wiped and saw the slightest hint of pink on the toilet paper.  That pink sent me to a place of great fear.  Maybe deep down I don’t believe that it’s going to work.  We had very good distractions throughout the weekend.  We had Valentine’s Day dinner and Bob’s birthday celebration.  I thought that I was doing great with keeping my emotions in check.  Then I lost it this morning.  I cried because I felt doomed.  Nice to have hubby by my side.  He gently stroked my face and head and let me cry.  I was tempted to test with second morning urine… but then I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I can’t bear to see one pink line.  So I didn’t do it.  I doubt that I will test before going in for the blood draw tomorrow.  The appointment is at 7:45am.  I’m sure I’ll be highly distracted all morning tomorrow until I get the result.  I am preparing myself for a negative result.  I know some may say that I should keep being positive.  It’s tough when you’ve experienced so much pain after so long.  What makes this cycle any different?  Then I read Caroline’s post.  I’m once again reminded that fear does not come from the Lord.  Thanks Caroline.  So here I am on the eve of first beta… Hoping for the best.  Bracing ourselves for the news that we don’t want to hear.

They Are Safely Home!

What a great morning we had.

I woke up and pushed Bob out of bed so that he could go to fitness bootcamp.  I got the license to be lazy and to lie in bed before the transfer.  When he was gone, I continued to lie in bed and started to pray to the Lord about our embryos.  I prayed that Eli would’ve turned into at least a morula if not a blastocyst.  I prayed that Clay would thaw very well.  Then I began to visualize my uterus to be a very welcoming, warm place for those embryos to burrow into snuggly.  Then I fell asleep again.

Before Bob left, he reminded me to remember to fill my bladder.  I totally forgot that I needed to do that!  This cycle has been interesting because I kept on forgetting things.  I almost forgot that we needed to do injections two times!  And now the bladder thing.  I don’t know.  My head just wasn’t there.

Dr. E didn’t update us until after 9am.  I vacillated between being nervous and being calm.  I had a good feeling that Eli had made it further but I just didn’t know for sure, of course.  The subject line of her email was “Beautiful Morula”.  This is what she wrote:

“The 4 cell grade 1 is a “very pretty morula” this morning per the lab director 🙂 Yay!  They are going to thaw the frozen for us for a noon transfer.  See you soon!!”

What a big relief!  I would take a morula any day over an embryo that stops growing.  The similarity between Clay and Eli is eerie.  Clay became a morula on day 4 and was still a morula on day 5.  Here is Eli, a “very pretty” morula on day 5.  I am thrilled that they have the same progression, which means that Eli might just become another blastocyst if we decided to let it grow until tomorrow, day 6.  

That email brought a little tear to my eyes.  No matter the outcome of this cycle, it’s so overwhelmingly emotional to get to this point for a person with diminished ovarian reserve to finally make one or two embryos and to be able to transfer them for a fighting chance of pregnancy and a take home baby.  My heart was filled with gratitude.

Then cued the next step: drinking lots of water.  Started at 10am, I downed at least 3 to 4 eight-oz glasses of water.  I was feeling fine until about 11am.  Five days ago, I was dying for a glass of water but was prohibited from having one.  Today, I was ordered to drink lots of water but not to pee.  The irony of life.

On the way there, all sorts of thoughts came to my head.  What if we get a flat tire?  How would we make sure that we got to the IVF center on time? Do we call my brother to come pick me up while Bob waits for help?  Do we hail a cab and abandon the car? My mind went wild.  Luckily, we got to the IVF center safely without incidents.  Bob was so proud that he got me there 10 minutes early.

We got called back to the transfer room.  At that point, we didn’t have news on how Clay thawed.  I was quite confident that it probably did well but again, there was no way of knowing.  I just knew that we had something to transfer.  Just didn’t know how many embryos.  I was told to undress from the waist down and wrap myself around with a warm blanket.  I was surprised that no one asked us to change into anything else.  I remember reading about other ladies’ experiences of their transfers and vaguely recalled that they had to change into something else.  

This was me waiting with my lucky socks on:

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The nurse checked my bladder and said, Nope it’s too full; it’s making the uterus very tiny.  So off I went to the bathroom to let out some pee. She told me to count at the beats of the Jeopardy song for 12 counts.  I had to do this three times before they got a satisfactory amount of pee.  

Then in came Dr. E with two photographs of the embryos.  Clay thawed 100% beautifully without any fragmentations.  Eli was also without any fragmentations and accordingly to her, looked like it was on its way to be a blastocyst.  

Here is Clay:

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Here is Eli:

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Then it came the procedure.  Must be the Valium talking because I was so talkative and speaking nonstop.  It was a very cool procedure.  And it was so much better that Bob was by my side.  I recently read that the clinic that specializes in mini-IVF in SoCal doesn’t allow husbands to be in for the transfer… I’d be very disappointed if Bob wasn’t allowed to be there.  

I was introduced to a lab technician who emerged from a closed door.  She asked me for my name and how many embryos I was transferring.  After Dr. E placed the catheter inside me, the lab technician disappeared for one minute to retrieve the embryos.  Dr. E said to Bob, “This is a good time to take a video.”  Bob was like… “Uh??”  I turned my head and said, “Hey let me do it!  Give me my phone.”  So I held my phone up to the screen closest to me and followed my doctor’s instruction to start pressing record when the door opened.  The lab technician came back with the catheter with our embryos and we watched the catheter move into the uterus.  It’s truly a very cool procedure.

I remember watching Dr. E on TV on one of the local morning news station, talking about IVF, IUI, and assisted reproductive technology in general.  That was when Bob and I were dating.  When we pulled into the parking lot, Bob said, I can’t believe that we’re doing a transfer today after watching Dr. E on TV a few years ago.

I can’t believe it either.  

I lay there for a couple more minutes.  Dr. E chatted with us and told us what to do next.  I am to rest.  Think lying on a beach on a beach chair.  Bob is to wait on me and get me whatever I want and need. Whatever I need, if he can do it, he’ll do it.  So other than peeing and showering, he is going to take care of me. I would say it sounds wonderful!

Beta test is eight days from now.  It seems like beta day varies greatly among REs.  I’ve seen from 12 days to 17 days.  I will have to schedule an appointment early in the morning before work.

It feels good to be finally at this step.  I know that it is no guarantee.  But this definitely buys us a fighting chance of getting pregnant.  If I don’t get pregnant, I still have the hope that we can make embryos and it can happen.  It may  just take a little while.  We have had so many people praying for us and rooting for us that we’re feeling so so blessed.  Praise the Lord that He has been watching us every single step of the way.  I am going to enjoy the next eight days as this is the most “pregnant” I have gotten in my life.  We are one step closer to our goal of having a take home baby by end of this year.  I hope that this is God’s plan for us.