It’s Happening!!!

I just have to use exclamation marks for my blog post titles lately!!!

Second beta is 464!!!  Doubling time about 40 hours.  Progesterone is 43.

We literally waited all day long for the results.  I was more nervous than on Tuesday.  I guess this time there is more to lose because we had never gotten such high beta number.  Annie finished her blood draw at 9:30.  I initially calmly waited.  The more I waited, the more nervous I was.  My mind just went wild!  I imagined all sorts of case scenarios….

Five o’clock rolled around and there was no phone call.  I left work at 5:30 having my earbuds on just in case Dr. E would call.  Nothing.  When I arrived home, I wrote her an email.  I was so anxious that I couldn’t cook or do my yoga.  It was pure torture.

Dr. E wrote me back at 6:20.  She said she hadn’t heard anything but told me not to worry about a thing.  She would call the lab now.  And she said next time call her before 4pm so she could contact the lab earlier. She said there was no need to torture ourselves.  HA!  I really should’ve contacted her.  I was being too polite.

Ten minutes later, Dr. E emailed me and Annie at the same time with the results.  When I saw it, I was so relieved!  She wrote:

“Doesn’t get any better than this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

She said I could choose to do another beta on Monday, or I could go straight to ultrasound.  I asked her what she recommends.  She said she’d go straight to ultrasound but she also understands how having a period of time with no reassurances can be anxiety provoking.

I thought about it, and I think most likely we’ll wait for the ultrasound.  Gotta have some faith in this process, yeah?

Thanks for all the love on Tuesday!  It has been very surreal and I am still processing my emotions.  But as of right now, we are expecting, Annie is truly pregnant, and it’s a great reason to celebrate!

Praise the Lord for sustaining this/these baby/babies!  May he/she/they continue to thrive so we will see a heartbeat(s) in 2.5 weeks.

I have real hope that we will finally meet our baby/babies in September!

The Post I’ve Been Waiting to Write!!!

I am overjoyed to let you all know that we are indeed expecting and the magic beta on 8dp5dt is 204!!!!!!

I just can’t tell you how and why but I had been the most calm out of all the previous beta days.  From yesterday to today, there were a few moments when I was a little bit nervous.  But I checked myself and found that my shoulders were relaxed and my heart wasn’t pounding.  I was just calmly waiting most of the time.

Last night Annie told me that she felt queasy.  I was wondering if it was because of any hCG in her system.  But it could also be because of progesterone so I didn’t say much.

Annie texted me at 9:10am telling me that the blood draw was done.  From past experience, I knew that getting results from Annie’s hometown would take forever.  So I didn’t even anticipate a phone call until 4 something or even 5.  All day long my friends were checking in.  I would have told them if I got the results, yeah?  But it is also so very heartwarming to know that so many of you are rooting for us.

Dr. E called at 5:04pm.  I didn’t even think much and just picked up anticipating good news.  She didn’t wait and immediately yelled out “204!!!”  I was so overcome with emotions that I started screaming and yelling… then tears started streaming down my cheeks.  She was crying and I was crying.  It is so crazy to receive good news after so many years of bad news and heartaches.  She said that this number this early could mean both of the embryos might have taken.  It is a very strong number.  I said I hope it isn’t three.  She said that the embryos would have split by now if it were 3.  And the number would have been much higher.  I feel a bit better about that.  Thursday is beta two.  If the number is good, we will fly to Annie’s town for an ultrasound.  Dr. E said 6 weeks, but I may until  7 weeks or so to make sure we will have a heartbeat or heartbeats.  She said we should fly Annie to California for the appointment because it’s too cold in Annie’s state.  But I think we are due for a visit there.

Dr. E asked if I wanted to call Annie or let her call Annie.  I told her to call so I could call Bob.  Bob sounded a little dazed on the phone when he heard the news because I was crying.  He thought it was something bad.  I know that it’d take him a little bit of time to take everything in, and I know that he doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself.  But he is very happy that we got great news.  The first thing he said was “Praise the Lord!!!”  Indeed.  Praise the Lord.  🙂

Annie and I connected on the phone.  She said that Dr. E asked her if she felt like she was knocked up.  She said yes, and Dr. E said, because you are knocked up!  Annie told me that all day today she was feeling like crap on top of feeling queasy yesterday.  Maybe the hCG is strong for her to feel symptoms.  Annie said she had been praying for a number over 200 and she got it!

Later on, I messaged her saying “Maybe I’ll have you pee on a stick”.  And after a few silent moments, she sent me a picture of a dollar store cheap pee stick with a light second line!  She said she couldn’t resist so she did it yesterday morning at 7dp5dt.  She didn’t tell me.  And now she was afraid that I was mad at her.  I told her that I wasn’t, but did tell her to go get a FRER tomorrow so she can pee on something that shows a darker line.

All my friends are so sweet.  They are so happy for us.  I just feel so loved.

Bob and I got together for dinner before he headed off to teach bible study.  When I walked across the street to meet him, we locked eyes and both were grinning to each other from ear to ear.  It was such a sweet moment to share with my life partner who has been there through thick and thin.

I pray that our good news will continue to come!  I will soak in the joy tonight.

Now We Wait

We officially have two excellent looking blastocysts on board.  We will find out about their fate next Tuesday.

Throughout this transfer, I could just see God’s presence in our midst.  The more I think about the timing of the flights and the transfer, the more I appreciate how God orchestrated the logistics way ahead of time.  Dr. E originally set the transfer to Tuesday, but Monday was more convenient for Annie.  A Tuesday transfer wouldn’t have happened because the weather would’ve been too dangerous for Annie to even drive to the airport.  As for the drive to the clinic, God protected us as the rain didn’t come until late afternoon.  It would’ve been bad on Tuesday as the sky was dumping buckets of water all day long.  I am very thankful for God’s provision.

We all donned our superhero attires: Annie had Wonder Woman socks on.  I was wearing my Superman socks.  Bob was Batman, and Kenneth was Punisher.  After the pre-transfer acupuncture session, we arrived at the clinic at 12pm sharp.  Annie took a Val.ium a few minutes before that.  Our scheduled transfer time was 12:15, but we went way past that time and nobody was calling us in.  I was feeling quite calm that morning.  The thought of the embryos not thawing well did cross my mind, but I tried not to go there.  No phone call from Dr. E’s office was a great thing.  However, when the clock went past 12:30, I started to become a bit anxious.  The delay made me wonder what was going on, and my mind went wild.  Annie was super calm because of the drugs and she was giddy and a bit high. She didn’t feel it at the last transfer because we went straight from acupuncture session to transfer and then to the post-transfer session.  She was probably already lying on the table when the drugs finally kicked in.  My mind continued to go wild, and I had to excuse myself to go up to the front to get some water.  Just then, I could see in my peripheral vision that Dr. E walked into the clinic but didn’t see me.  It was 12:35.  She walked straight to the waiting area, saw Annie, Kenneth, and Bob and asked where I was.  Annie joked that I was freaking out.  I could hear Dr. E say, “Oh why is she freaking out?  Everything is great.”  I was right behind her so when I heard that, I immediately felt relieved.

What I realized was that the clinic wasn’t ready for our transfer yet, so Dr. E didn’t arrive until the right time.  A bit later, we were led to the transfer room.  This time it felt different because Bob was there.  We all squeezed in there.  Dr. E presented us with the pictures of the embryos.  Here they are:


The top one is Noelle and the bottom one is Quentin.  My first thought was that, Wow look at them!  They look so good!  Especially the bottom one that was a day 6 5BB blastocyst (Embryo #5).  It looked like it was hatching already!  Dr. E could not stop talking about how good #5 looked.  She said they looked gorgeous.

I didn’t feel particularly emotional this time like the last transfer.  I was just very happy and relieved that the embryos thawed well and looked amazing.  I would say that out of all the embryos that we had transferred, these two looked the best.

We had to wait a little longer for the procedure to start, which left the four of us alone in the room.  Annie suggested praying, and all four of us joined hands as the husband prayed for the procedure, the embryos, and for all four of us.  It was a very sweet and precious time of fellowship.  Amazingly, the professionals didn’t step in until our not-too-short prayers were all said.

Annie’s bladder’s fullness was just right.  Dr. E showed us the uterus, the lining, and where the embryos would go.  I pulled up my chair next to Annie.  The embryologist walked in to check our identification, and asked us to verify the number of embryos to transfer.  Dr. E inserted all the catheters that she needed.  The embryologist then disappeared behind the door.  Suddenly, Annie grabbed hold of my hand and appeared like she needed support.  I held my phone on the right side for the video and the pictures, and held her hand with my left hand.  She and I held hands for the rest of the procedure.  It somehow meant a lot to me to feel that we are in this together.  Our lives are intertwined and I really hope that this close relationship will last for the next nine months and many years beyond.

Once again, my name appeared on the big screen on top, and then it was Annie’s name.  The lens zoomed into the embryos.  Embryo #2 (day 5 3BB) was still a round ball with a little sign of starting to hatch.  Embryo #5 appeared even more advanced at that moment, as the embryo hatched out even more.  The embryologist captured the two embryos with a catheter.  Moments later, she returned to the room with our precious cargoes.  Dr. E focused on inserting the tube in the uterus.  She talked us through the process.  She slowly pulled the catheter out and handed it to the embryologist who moments later confirmed that the embryos had gone in.

The atmosphere changed instantly.  It felt like the whole room was relieved.   Annie stayed on the table as Dr. E lowered her down.  She asked us if we had any questions.  Since this was our 6th transfer, and Annie’s second, nobody had any questions.   Then the following happened.

Bob asked Dr. E, “If we hadn’t chosen a boy embryo and a girl embryo to transfer and leave the choice to you, would you have made the same choice?”  Dr. E said, “Oh yes!!!  The girls at the lab kept on telling me what a great choice we made this time looking at the great quality of the embryos, especially the [Insert Gender] embryo!  It looks so good!  We made a great choice.”  What she was referring to was Embryo #5, the hatching one.  Like I said, she had been giving this embryo such high praises throughout the transfer that I knew she was referring to this particular embryo and not Embryo #2.  I couldn’t believe my ears that she actually leaked out the gender of that particular embryo!  (I am not disclosing the gender here because I want to keep an element of surprise on this blog.)  My carefully plotted scheme of keeping something a surprise/secret has been taken away from me in an instance.  I looked at Dr. E in disbelief.  She realized what she had done and said, “Oh yeah you didn’t know!”  Then she pointed to my husband, “It was his fault!  He asked the question!”  Everybody in the room was laughing.  But it wasn’t too funny for me.  I can’t undo what I do know now.  I didn’t care too much about knowing what gender each of these embryos is.  If both take, then we have a boy and a girl.  If only one takes, we still won’t know which one until birth.  But knowing that Embryo #5 is a particular sex means that I now know the sex of the final remaining frozen embryo.  I never intended to find out about it and knowing it now has just ruined the biggest surprise in my life for me.  Well, what can you do right?  I can’t tell my brain not to remember.  So I guess I’ll just have to let go.

This transfer had been a precious time for me.  Unlike last time, Bob had a chance to hang out with Annie and Kenneth for an extended period of time.  The more we spend time with them, the more we love this couple.  They are cool, easygoing, selfless, funny, thoughtful, and much more.  It was pouring rain on Tuesday.  Knowing how much I hate driving in the rain, Annie sent me an email right before I left work on that day and said, “You’ll be driving home soon. Be careful.  No need to rush. I know you hate driving in the wind and rain. We are all good!”  They were cool with us sending them off to take the train to the airport instead of Bob giving them a ride because the two ways would take about the same time.  It was their first time ever taking public transportation (they are from a very small town).  They were so easygoing and adventurous about it.  It saved us a lot of time being stuck in traffic.  I just love them so much for who they are.

When I hugged Annie good-bye at the train station, I didn’t feel the emotions like last time.  I remember last time I felt like a part of me went with her.  This time I felt much more guarded and distant.  I don’t know.  Maybe being at this process for so long and failing the last transfer has made it difficult for me to feel the excitement of the possibility.  I am hopeful, but at the same time I also know that anything can happen.  Even the best looking embryos don’t always make it.  But, I really want both of our embryos to implant now that I have them both transferred.  I have never thought that I would want to be the mom of twins.  However, I do not want to lose even one embryo.  So  I hope and pray that both of them decide to burrow deeply, take hold, and continue to divide and multiply.

We will know in six days.  Now we wait.

MicroblogMondays: Our Sixth Transfer

Microblog_Mondays

We will have our sixth transfer this afternoon.   But as of yesterday morning, we weren’t very certain if we’d have a transfer or not.  I will explain at the end of this post.

Annie’s lining check was last Tuesday, which yielded a wonderful report of a lining that measured 12.6mm.   It was “gorgeous” according to Dr. E, who loves to use this word.  I am very grateful for Annie’s uterus as it seems to perform well and often delivers with very good thickness.  The next questions that Dr. E asked took a few days for us to answer.  Do we still want to transfer more than one embryo and if so, which ones?

Part one was easier.  We have long decided to transfer two embryos ever since we failed the last transfer.  Although I have to say, both Bob and Annie have been quite bold in suggesting transferring all three embryos.  That makes me cringe even just typing it out.  Annie said that a fellow surrogate is carrying twins after the intended parents decided to put back all three of their remaining embryos.  But what we have here is different.  We have embryos made with donor eggs.  Although we failed the last transfer, there is still a very good chance that all the embryos would implant if we transfer all three.  So why did Bob suggest that?  Well, he is always one embryo ahead of me.  He suggested transferring two last time.  We didn’t listen to him and our cycle resulted in nothing.  To him, if we transfer all three embryos this time and nothing takes, then we can move forward to embryo donation or adoption.  I am not willing to go to the place of fear and worry of potential risks for both carrier and babies should Annie be pregnant with triplets.  I don’t even want to think about the much higher chances of needing a high level NICU in that case and the potential danger of delivering in the neighboring state that bans commercial surrogacy.  A lady in one of my infertility Fac.ebook groups also urged me to transfer all of the embryos.  She insisted that Bob’s sperm problems (with his high percentage of DNA fragmentation) would mean that our chances of getting pregnant would be higher with three.  She told me to trust her, and that I met her for a reason.  But to me, this is all noise.  I have prayed for quite a few days about it and do not have peace with putting back all three embryos.  So two is the magic number.

Now for part two of Dr. E’s question, we had a little bit of a difficult time.  Which two embryos should we transfer?  If Dr. E never told me that these embryos are a mixture of male and female, I would have never thought to make a choice based on the sex of the embryos. I would just ask her to pick the two that she thinks have the best chance and move forward from there.  However, when we had a low first beta, Dr. E mentioned on the phone about transferring two embryos and told me to make a choice of transferring two of the same sex or one each.  Since I have always not wanted to find out the sex of our future baby until birth, I was taken aback by her suggestion.  But that was back in November so we hadn’t had to make a decision.

Fast forward to last week, Dr. E asked us to make a choice.  The embryos’ stats are as follows: one day five blastocyst (embryo #2) that has a high mitoscore which means the implantation potential is about 80%.  So we are definitely going to transfer this one.  We also have two day six blastocysts that were 5AB (embryo #4) and 5BB (embryo #5).  Their mitoscores are the same, with the implantation potential of 56%.  Dr. E revealed that #2 and #4 are the same sex.  So it means that #2 and #5 are different.  Since #4’s quality is slightly better than #5, she would transfer #2 and #4 if we don’t care about putting back one male and one female.  Otherwise, we could transfer the opposite sex ones (#2 and #5).

For somebody who didn’t want to know the sex of the embryos in the first place, this had been an extremely difficult decision to make.  Let me see if I could explain my thought process here.  I really wish that Dr. E hadn’t mentioned about the sex.  Then I would just say transfer the embryos based on quality.  However, I can’t undo what I do know.  So we really had to make a choice that we won’t regret in the future.  Do I have a particular preference?  Well, I have all along wanted two children, one boy and one girl.  If we transfer two and both take, then we’ll have both genders.  However, I really didn’t want to know the sex of the baby before birth.  If both take, then we know from the beginning that they are one of each.  How big of a deal is it?  Well, I just want one surprise on this journey.  I guess I can let go of that surprise if we are blessed with two babies.  If only one takes, then we will still not know the sex of the baby until birth.  We also won’t know the sex of the remaining embryo until we transfer it.

The question is, should we put back the two that are the best quality knowing that we give this cycle the best chance?  First of all, the two day 6 embryos are very similar.  They both have good implantation potential.  Dr. E said that there is not a huge difference between the two.  And second, sometimes the best looking and even “normal” embryos don’t implant, but the ones of lesser quality do.  So it’s really hard to say that we are not giving this cycle the best chance if we don’t transfer the two embryos with the best quality.

I almost wanted to bury my head in the sand and just let my RE choose.  I just wanted to wait until the last moment and finally it came.  A nurse from my RE’s office gave me an urgent call last Friday as she had to put in an order to indicate which embryos to transfer.  She left me a message so I discussed one last time with Bob.  I had been praying for it but it wasn’t clear to me.  He told me that if he had a choice, he’d opt for one of each.  When I heard his choice, I felt completely at peace with it.  So that was the choice we made.  A male and a female.

Why was I uncertain about whether or not we’d transfer?  I learned that there was going to be a storm hitting this side of the country.  It would hit the hardest on the day of Annie and Kenneth’s arrival.  If Annie’s flight got canceled, we wouldn’t be able to have a transfer.  It would have to be postponed for another month of so.  I was honestly quite worried about a canceled cycle.  But Bob reminded me that this is totally out of our control.  God has already ordained these events. If it is in God’s will for us to transfer, we’ll be able to do it.  If not, then it’s okay to wait for another month.  It would suck, but it’s not the end of the world.  I prayed and prayed for their travel to go smoothly, but more importantly, for my complete trust in the Lord and His sovereignty and control over my life.

The fortunate thing is, instead of booking a flight into SFO that has at least one stop, I decided to book a non-stop flight into OAK (as there are no direct flights from Annie’s hometown airport to SFO).  The biggest reason was that it’s much easier to make changes on Southw.est Airlines rather than other airlines should we have to change the transfer date.  It did cross my mind that a non-direct flight would mean a higher risk for Annie and Kenneth to be stranded at another airport during transit.  The storm started after midnight on Sunday.  The wind and rain picked up and sounded very scary at home.  Despite the bad weather at Annie’s hometown and here, Annie and her husband got to the airport safely and the plane departed on time and arrived on time.  We did witness one spinout on the freeway on our way back home but we got home safely.  I just want to praise the Lord for his provision as He protected them and us on the road.  Later on, we found out that many flights from Annie’s hometown airport were canceled later in the day.  So it’s such a blessing that Annie and Kenneth’s flight arrived safely and on time. 

It has been wonderful to see Annie and Kenneth again.  We are like old friends.  They even brought superhero socks and shirts to wear for the transfer.  That warms my heart.  Transfer is scheduled for 12:15pm.  Bob is coming with us this time too!  He’s coming mainly because he wants to drive us there in the rain as I have major anxiety driving in rainy weather due to my experiences having two car accidents both in the rain. I love my husband that he takes care of me. Annie will have her pre- and post-transfer acupuncture sessions.  We won’t have to pay as much as last time since she is a repeat customer.  Although I’d much rather her NOT to be a repeat customer for this, we still got to celebrate small victories such as saving a bit of money, right?

I will report on the transfer after it’s done.  Hopefully the embryos thaw well today and we will have Noelle and Quentin safely home soon.

MicroblogMondays: An End and a Beginning

Microblog_Mondays

Our trip up north was much needed for a change of pace and  to get away from the mundaneness of our typical life.  During those five days, we enjoyed hiking, massages, driving along the coast, wine tasting, and eating.  We also did a whole lot of nothing.  Although we were only 90 minutes away from home, it was a whole other world out there.  The breathtaking sceneries, the yummy wines, the slowness of life, the hospitality of the innkeepers, and the scrumptious homemade breakfasts made those few days nothing short of magical.

Four breakfast dishes are shown here for four mornings, with wonderful company of other B&B guests including this hilarious Filipino older lady who told story after story of her adventures coming from her country to the United States.

I had been craving oysters so my wonderful husband drove me to a place known for their seafood and we had a delicious lunch with a dozen oysters, crab sandwich, and clam chowder.

One of the highlights was a hike in the redwood forest a mere 10 minutes away from our bed and breakfast.  The increased heart rate while climbing uphill, the fresh air, and the tall redwood trees are a reminder of how much we should enjoy and appreciate nature and exercise in our lives.

Needless to say, the ocean is always breathtaking and a great reminder of God’s handiwork.

 I didn’t quite want to think about the upcoming cycle during this trip, as I just wanted to get away from it all.  However, we could not escape the reality of it as we are still pretty much in the middle of our cycle.  We still haven’t heard from Dr. E or the company that was supposed to share the epigenetic sper.m test results with us.  Bob actually doesn’t want to find out about the results since they would not change our desires to transfer two embryos.  So daily it crossed my mind to email Dr. E about it but I still haven’t.  Annie has been taking estrogen to prepare for her lining.  One evening during our trip, she sent me a frantic email about running out of the insulin syringes for the Lup.ron that she’s been injecting.  I guess the 14 syringes that came with the Lup.ron kit and the extra 10 syringes provided by the pharmacy were only enough for 24 days, and she needed to be on it for a total of 28 days.  I forwarded her email to Dr. E asking for help, but I didn’t sleep too well that night wanting to resolve the issue the next day.  I am glad to report that it got resolved quite easily but it was nevertheless an interruption of my otherwise tranquil mind that was relatively free of the thoughts of reality.

Since we returned on New Year’s eve, our trip marked a perfect end of 2016, a year that was full of ups and downs like the previous four years since we started trying for a baby.  I am glad we had a moment to take a breather and just be by ourselves without the hustle and bustle of life.

Just like Christmastime, I opted for doing nothing special for New Year’s eve.  We had a very early, no frill dinner, and had a glass or two of the yummy champagne that we bought on our trip.

We went to bed like usual and didn’t even wait for midnight to ring in the new year.  It was just another evening and another day.

Tomorrow is the day Annie will have her lining check to confirm the transfer.  If all goes well, in a week, she will be lying on the same table and I will be staring at the same screen in the transfer room just like the end of October.  Bob told me yesterday that despite all the setbacks, his desires for a child are as strong as ever.  I feel the same way too, and I feel blessed that we are on the same page.  May our resolve to bring home a baby align with God’s perfect plan for us in this upcoming cycle.  May this be the beginning of something super magical.

Max Is Not Meant to Be

Tuesday was a very difficult day.

I don’t write about politics.  All I can say is that having a super low beta with a GC and DE was enough of a hard day.  The election was making it super nerve-wracking for me.

Both Bob and I had prior engagements on Tuesday night.  But both of us just wanted to be with each other so we canceled what we had for the night.  We went to this local Indian restaurant for dinner.  All I wanted was peace and quiet.  Unfortunately, four TV screens were on with the election coverage.  I tried to avoid looking at the screens, but a few glimpses of them just stressed me out even more.  When I got home, I decided to go to bed and leave my phone out of the bedroom.

I did not sleep well at all.  I kept waking up in the middle of the night.  You know you feel the weakest when you are in and out of sleep.  And I just wanted to stay in bed all day the next day.  My husband has been the pillar of my strength.  He encouraged me that if I could muster enough energy, work actually could serve as a great distraction.

We prayed that night and Wednesday morning for God’s will to be done.  We prayed for Annie.  And we prayed for God’s peace and strength to be with us.  God answered our prayers.

Once I was at work, I was feeling much better.  I was amazed that somehow God renewed my strength despite having a horrible Tuesday.  I emailed my therapist that morning with the news of the low beta and a request for a time slot on that day for therapy if there was one.  What a miracle that she happened to have a cancellation on that day.  The Lord was taking care of my needs.

In the session, I cried several times.  It was tremendously helpful to speak with a person who has seen many different scenarios of triumphs and failures in the infertility world.  I wondered out loud whether or not God is telling me that I shouldn’t have a child.  She reminded me that most people would know when they should stop.  And it is still amazing that my husband and I still have strong desires to bring home a child.  So that speaks volume as usually one person would want to stop while the other would want to continue on.  She also reminded me that we still have chances and options.  So we are far from the doom and gloom that I was feeling on that day.  When I felt a certain way, ask myself if that thought is helpful.  Take it one day at a time.  And let myself process the feelings.  I knew all of this, but it was helpful to hear it again.

One interesting thing that my therapist told me was that her three-year-old niece had a beta of 12 on 8dp5dt as an embryo.  She said that her niece is perfect in every way.  So it IS possible to have a positive outcome from a low beta.  But, I am a realistic person and I knew that our chances of that would be low.

Our prayers continued to be, no matter what the outcome, we wanted it to be aligned with God’s will.  It is difficult, but if we believe that God is sovereign and has a perfect plan, then we have to trust Him even though we don’t like the outcome.

I was at complete peace yesterday, the day of second beta results.  I still had a glimmer of hope that the beta might have risen.  I  left the event “heartbeat appointment” on my calendar for November 30 and I hadn’t contacted a potential client’s parent about an opening on November 29 thinking that maybe we still needed to go to Annie’s state.  I wasn’t feeling nervous or anxious.  This was what I was staring at all day long reminding myself of God’s character.  “Delay doesn’t mean denial” is what I have to remember.

And guess what?  I had to give a presentation in the afternoon.  This is the second time I had to give a presentation on second beta day.  And I thought that I would be safe from pregnant women this time because the topic was for parents with young children.  Somehow the recruitment was done with expectant moms as well and so I ended up with six or seven ladies with bumps.  God really carried me through because I was feeling no bitterness, jealousy, or uneasiness, even when the ladies chatted about pregnancy symptoms and the babies’ kicks right before the presentation started.  God protected me from falling apart.  In fact, it was a great presentation despite my special circumstances.  It also helped that I hadn’t received the beta results prior to the presentation so I could just focus on the parents or parents-to-be rather than on the outcome of Max.

I didn’t hear from Dr. E until after 5.  Annie’s blood draw was done at 10:30am.  I guess in Annie’s state “STAT” means six hours of wait.  So the beta came back at 11, which means that the embryo has barely grown if at all.  I am thankful for early beta so we don’t agonize over the next week waiting for it to come.  And I am also very grateful for it to be a clear cut “No” rather than it rising some but not much.  Annie was to stop all meds except for the prenatal and thyroid meds.

Dr. E and I immediately went into action mode.  There is a brand new test on the market that just came out two weeks ago.  It tests the epigenetic information of the sperm.  It wasn’t available when we were doing the DNA fragmentation test.  It may shed some light on some subtle genetic problems on the sperm that are not picked up on PGS as PGS only tests the chromosomal structure of the embryos.  So the theory is that, even PGS tested normal embryos may have these subtle genetic problems contributed by the sperm that could not be detected.  The test is pricey, but it may tell us more information about how any genetic problems may affect the embryos in whatever way.  We are still planning on a transfer two embryos in 5 weeks.  Dr. E is going to prepare Annie’s lining differently this time, adding Lu.pron in the mix.  Her staff is going to order the kit for the test for us and we should get the results within two to three weeks.

I have to say how thankful I am for my husband.  I love him more than anything.  Every single time we have a setback, he has been there for me.  I know that he has his own way of processing bad news and his emotions.  I know his pattern and I reminded myself on beta day that he would start to feel angry in a couple of days.  He did yesterday but he recovered really well.  Yesterday he said this to me, “I admire and love you so much.  You get punched by all of these things.  You pick yourself up and move on.”  I can say the same thing about him.  God is working and stretching our faith.  He  has put the two of us together for a very particular purpose.  And we have to remember to hold on to God and to each other in difficult times so that our marriage continues to be strong.

As we put away Max’s photo and mourn its loss, we have to remember that there is still hope and there are still options for us.  Despite this delay, we still have strong desires to be parents.  Like I was meditating yesterday, God is sovereign and in control of everything.  He has a plan for us.  I pray that this plan includes babies in our future.

Thank you for all the love, thoughts, and prayers from you.

Introducing Max the Embryo

The last week has been such a whirlwind.  I haven’t had the time to blog until now.

Annie and her husband Kenneth arrived on Sunday.  It was such a relief to see how comfortable she was at our house.  She remembered exactly where everything was in the kitchen and just made herself at home.  It was the best decision to have flown her here for her medical screening back in August because it now feels very natural for us to be together like old friends or family.

Transfer took place on Monday at 1:30pm.  After much consideration, Bob and I decided that it was best for him to go to work instead of attending the transfer with us.  He had been feeling a little uncomfortable to be present at a transfer where I wasn’t the one undressed and lying on the table.  He wanted to come for moral support, but in actuality, he would have to take a whole day off for a two-minute transfer.  All he would do would be to sit there for an hour pre-transfer and another hour post-transfer for the acupuncture sessions plus traveling one hour to and one hour from the clinic.  It would be best for him to save his time off and use it for flying over to attend prenatal appointments.  So we both agreed that I would take pictures and videos for him.

I woke up super early on transfer day partly because of jet lag but also because of everything coming together on transfer day.  It was quite surreal to know that after all the waiting (in the last nine months and the last five years), transfer was going to happen in a few hours.  It is hard for me to explain that feeling.  It just occurred to me that I was not prepared this time.  We hadn’t purchased any lucky socks or pineapple for Annie.  However, this time IS different.  It is a different circumstance so mixing things up a little and going without any lucky socks was a good way to approach it.

I chose a restaurant close to the clinic, but as I exited the freeway, Kenneth spotted In-N-Out Burger so we switched locations impromptu.  They had heard of the burger joint but had never been.  The three of us enjoyed a no-frills yummy burger lunch.

Annie had never done acupuncture but she was willing to try.  She is not afraid of needles so acupuncture didn’t sound scary to her when I suggested it.  Speaking of needles, she does not even need any icing or heat pad for her PIO shots.  She said she doesn’t usually even feel the needle most of the time.  When she was in session with the acupuncturist, Kenneth and I bonded over coffee at Starbucks.  We chatted about how he got into his line of work in law enforcement.  It was a great opportunity for me to get to know him.  Hearing about his experience changing career mid-life and the integrity and perseverance that he showed through the process, there are even more reasons to admire him in addition to supporting his wife in helping us bring home a baby.  He is such a down-to-earth and funny guy.  We got along very well.

After acupuncture, Annie took her 5mg of Val.ium and started drinking her water to fill her bladder.  We bumped into Dr. E on the way to the clinic.  Seeing Dr. E, it really made it all real.  After we checked in, we sat in the waiting room where Bob and I were almost two months ago for Bob’s sperm sample that resulted in our embryos.  A few minutes later, we were all led to the procedure room.  Kenneth and I sat in the chairs by the wall while Annie got undressed.  The nurse promised to come in soon to check on Annie’s bladder but didn’t return.  Dr. E came in with a photo of our embryo.  She commented on how beautifully the embryo had thawed.

Introducing Max the Embryo!

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Staring at the photo, tears started to well up in my eyes.  I hadn’t had much feeling about the process up until that point.  This is MY embryo despite not contributing in any physical part in making it.  My heart felt full.  This could really be the first picture of our future child.  Holding back my tears, I asked Dr. E about the grade of the embryo.  She said that it could easily be a 5AA or 5AB.  My first thought was that it looked like the embryo was starting to hatch.  It was an emotional moment for me.  I had been feeling a little detached from this process because our embryos didn’t come from my eggs or won’t grow in my womb. With Bob and my names listed on the embryo photo and when the embryologist asked ME to verify my name and date of birth first instead of Annie’s, it finally felt like the embryo belongs to me (and Bob) and I will be the one responsible for its well-being as a baby.  It was definitely a mental and emotional shift for me.  I said to Dr. E, “From our first retrieval in July 2013 to now, it has been three plus years in the making.”  It all came down to this moment.

Dr. E checked on Annie’s bladder as the nurse was still gone.  The fullness of the bladder was perfect.  The nurse finally came in and took over the abdominal ultrasound probe.  Dr. E pointed at where the uterus was and pushed the outer sheath of the catheter in.  It went in very easily.  Dr. E is always great at including me in this process.  She asked me to pull my chair up next to Annie’s head so I could see the screen clearly.  The embryologist came in to check on our IDs.  She disappeared back into the lab.  A few moments later, the big screen on the wall lit up and my name appeared on it.  Seeing my name again reminded me that this IS my embryo.  Annie told me later that she started tearing up when she saw my name on the screen.  Then her name appeared on the screen.  The screen zoomed in.  The little dot that looked like dust all of a sudden became huge.  It always amazes me to see the wonder of life starting as this little speck that is practically invisible with naked eye.  The embryo looked like it had changed from the photo already.  The embryologist loaded the embryo in the inner catheter and reappeared in the procedure room.  Dr. E pushed the catheter in extremely slowly.  The white lines on the ultrasound screen showed the direction of the inner catheter.  The doctor then pulled the catheter out even more slowly.  The embryologist went back to the lab to check on the catheter and gave us an all-clear.  Max was successfully transferred!

Annie was hoping that she could visit touristy places like Fisherman’s Wharf, but Dr. E told her to stay put on both Monday and Tuesday and limit her activity to walking from the bathroom to the bed and from the bed to the couch.  I know many doctors don’t believe in bedrest but Dr. E does.  Dr. E asked if Annie would cheat, meaning if she would pee on a stick.  Annie and I spoke about it ahead of time and agreed that we would wait until beta time.  After all, I didn’t ever POAS prior to beta so I don’t want that added stress.  Dr. E thought that it was a great idea because POAS only messes with your mind.  Dr. E  will be the one who will report the beta to the both of us on the phone rather than the two of us to each other.  Next Tuesday Annie will go to her local Labc.orp for her blood draw and Dr. E will call me with the result.  It is only going to be 8 days past 5 day transfer.

Dr. E then asked me to step out so she could answer Annie’s questions about sex after the transfer.  It again makes it so real that someone else is going to carry my baby for me and I have no control over what that person does.  But I trust Annie 100% to do her best for us and for our baby, so I will just have to let go of the control.

During Annie’s second acupuncture visit, the acupuncturist was aghast at the iced cold drink that Annie was holding.  He called me into the office and asked me if I had gone over the fertility diet with Annie.  I told him that since this was her first time doing acupuncture, I didn’t want to overwhelm her with extra knowledge.  The acupuncturist was dead serious about her following certain guidelines for the next few weeks and even into the second trimester.  It includes no raw or iced food.  Annie loves ice and salad.  So I was worried that it was too much restrictions on her.  But it should be no surprise to me that Annie listened and started to comply with things suggested by the doctor.  She is such a great and easy-going person with our best interest at heart.  The doctor even suggested using moxa on her three times a day.  Her husband and Annie are both on board.  Kenneth has been helping her with both PIO and now moxa since the visit.  Pineapple core was also suggested.

We left home that day at 10am.  We didn’t get home until 4pm.  After I dropped Annie home, Kenneth went with me to pump air into the front two tires of my car as he saw that it was a bit low.  It took three gas stations before we found a machine that worked.  We then went and purchased a pineapple and non-GMO soy milk for Annie (as per the acupuncturist’s suggestion to cool her down instead of using iced water).  I put the pork tenderloin that I marinated the day before in the oven with some cabbage.  Then I had to go to lead a bible study group at 6pm.  I didn’t get home until 9 something that night.  The exhaustion from the jet lag, running around all day, and the excitement was so hard to shake.

I told Annie that she was PUPO.  Of course she didn’t know the term and got a kick out of it.  It makes me realize how many crazy acronyms there are for this TTC journey.

Annie and I already talked about the appointment for the 7-week ultrasound for the heartbeat and the arrangement for accommodation and transportation.  It will be on 11/30 and Kenneth has that day off (he has every other Wednesday off) so he can drive us around in the snow (we are cowards when it comes to driving in the snow).  I really hope that it all comes true.

Annie and her husband stayed put the whole day at my house while both Bob and I were at work.  It was my first day back at work since before the trip.  The fatigue was real.  I was so slow with everything on that day.  And it also felt very surreal that the transfer took place but I was not feeling a thing inside my body.  It is just so hard to put into words how it feels to have someone else carry your baby for you.

I took the morning off on Wednesday to hang out with Annie and her husband before dropping them off at the airport.  Right before Bob drove to work, the four of us held hands and prayed for the embryo and Annie, and thanked the Lord for bringing two families together for this one life.  It was such a precious moment for our hearts to all be united for this one purpose.  Annie, Kenneth, and I went to a favorite diner of ours for breakfast.  At the airport, Annie and I hugged for a long time.  I was feeling very emotional, but my eyes were hiding behind my sunglasses.  I was choking up a little and told her to take care and also take care of my baby for me.  When she walked into the terminal, it felt like a part of me left with her.  My baby flew away with her hours away.  It is all in all an amazing yet surreal experience to be blessed with a selfless person who is willing to carry a baby for you while still mourning the loss of not experiencing a pregnancy ever.  I didn’t know how I should feel.

My trusted friend behind Dreaming of Diapers sent me words of encouragement.  She told me that I should feel relieved, that I did it, all of that hard work for the past year.   It is now out of my hands.  I have given Baby embryo Max the very best chance at life and if he/she is going to be my child, then it will happen. She told me that she was proud of me for my determination.  Her words really encouraged me as I continue to soak in this situation.

My other friend who had twins via surrogacy said, “It’s just the beginning!  I know the waiting is the hardest part but try to give it to God.  He knows the desires of your heart and is working to make it happen.”

So here we are, three days after transfer.  Five more days to go before beta.  I pray multiple times a day for God to sustain this life inside Annie.  It is really out of my hands and is in God’s hand.  I pray for trust and peace as we wait for the next milestone.

I am taking it one day at a time but as the same time looking forward to next July when we have our baby in our arms.  Let’s pray that this is really the time to see our future child grow from this tiny speck of life called “Max”.