The First Ultrasound – Recap

I almost had a heart attack at our first ultrasound with the twins (how crazy to even get to type “twins”…!!!).

We got to town extra early, so we were at the doctor’s office about 30 minutes before the appointment time.  When I stepped into the office, my first impression was, Wow, this place is very nice.  The OB practice looks nicer than many practices that I’ve been to in the Bay Area.  The receptionist greeted us and gave Annie an iPad to sign in.  We don’t even use iPads here at any of the OB offices or IVF clinics that I’ve been to here.  That was a surprise.

I asked Annie if she felt nervous.  She was actually not nervous at all.  She was feeling excited and just wanted to get the scan done soon to see what we had inside.  But I was nervous.  I’d say 90% of me believed that we would be able to see a heartbeat, but there was 10% of me that was anxious and thought the worst.  You know how that goes.

We were there with Annie, Kenneth, and their two younger kids.  I sat way far from everybody.  Somehow I felt that I needed some space from everyone so I could stay calm.

When the nurse came out to get us, we all stood up.  That apparently threw her off as she didn’t know who all these people were.  She guaranteed that everybody would be able to go in for the scan, but for the first part of the appointment she only had two seats for our group.  Annie indicated that she wanted me to be with her.

We were led to a tiny area with two chairs.  The nurse was training someone else.  We sat down while she typed in her laptop with the information that we told her.  I don’t think she knew who I was.  Annie just answered whatever questions the nurse had for her.  Then the nurse said at one point to Annie, Your husband had a vasectomy….? alluding to the fact that it didn’t quite make sense for Annie to be currently pregnant while her husband’s sper.m supply had been cut off.  At that point, I knew that she was very confused about the situation.  We had to quickly clarify the situation, that Annie was my gestational carrier and I was the mother.  So once that was explained, we went on to deal with last menstrual period.  The nurse asked when it was.  Annie was like… Uh 6 months ago?  I don’t think the nurse knew much about IVF.  She said she had never had a patient who came in who did IVF, so there was no button on her screen to put in a date for a day 5 or day 3 transfer that would calculate the due date.  She didn’t know how to calculate the due date based on the day of transfer.  So she put in the transfer date of January 9, which gave the due date of October 6th.  She knew that it wasn’t right, but there was no way to change that.  She guaranteed me that the nurse practitioner would change it to the most appropriate date.  I told her the due date and she believed that it was right, but we still needed to wait until later for it to be changed.

Here comes the heart attack part.  I said to the nurse that if there was a heartbeat we should be able to see it today, right?  She said, oh not necessarily.  She said that you guys are so early (6 weeks 5 days) that the heartbeat doesn’t always show.  I was like, No no, my doctor back in California said that we should be able to see a heartbeat by 6 weeks 2 days.  She said that Oh not on the bedside ultrasound that we use.

I was panicking.  Uh no… we are NOT only just going to use a bedside ultrasound.  When we booked the appointment, Annie specifically asked for a vaginal ultrasound, and she confirmed it two times with the office about that.  The nice nurse got a little combative and said, Uh no that’s not what we usually do at the first ultrasound.  And I was like… but we confirmed that it WAS going to be a vaginal ultrasound.  She said that this is not your fault but someone at the office is going to hear about it because they shouldn’t have confirmed with you that it was going to be the more detailed ultrasound.  I wanted to cry.  I said, Don’t tell me that I took a day off with my husband and flew all the way over here from California for you to tell me that I will not be able to get a vaginal ultrasound to get a definitive answer on the heartbeat.  I waited for five whole years for this moment.  At that point, the nurse realized how serious the situation was.  She said that they were very flexible and she was going to make sure that we would get to see a heartbeat today before we left.  So basically, whoever made the appointment for Annie did not notify the nurse that this was an IVF case where a vaginal ultrasound was needed.  One wasn’t scheduled.  And in order to get one done, we’d have to be squeezed in between the ultrasound technician’s appointments.  The nurse smiled and told me not to worry.  She’d make sure that we got all the things that we needed done.

Phew.  For a moment, I thought that we would have to go home empty-ended without a definitive answer.  That would have been so devastating for me.

That whole process took a total of 20, 25 minutes.  Next we were taken into an exam room to see the nurse practitioner.  This practice is very interesting.  You don’t see the OB at the first visit.  The expectant mom always sees the NP first.  The NP was super nice.  She reassured me that we would go next door once the ultrasound room was freed up.  In the mean time, she asked me about the transfer and the pregnancy.  The great thing about her was that she addressed me 100% of the time because I was the mom.  She talked to me about the care and she asked me questions.  She was respectful and showed the understanding that this is my pregnancy and not Annie’s.  Truthfully, I didn’t know too many questions to ask.  I know a lot about infertility but I know nothing about pregnancy.  So we discussed a bit about the care.  The NP suggested checking the uterus with the bedside ultrasound before we headed for the vaginal one later.

At that moment I was nervous.  I just didn’t know if we’d see something.  The NP left the room and pulled in a machine.  Annie lay down and the probe was put on her tummy.  Instantly we could see two dark circles.   The probe picked up the flickering movement of one of the circles right away.  It was the most amazing thing to see.  When I saw it, I couldn’t stop my tears from coming.  I was overwhelmed with joy that the heartbeat was so easy to find.  Annie grabbed my hand and kept saying, You are a mommy.  The NP tried to look at the other dark circle closely.  We could see something, but couldn’t quite see the flickering heart like the first one.  It was a relief to see one heartbeat but I was also very eager for the other one to have a heartbeat too.  I stopped crying and asked if I could bring Bob back.

Poor guy.  He had been sitting outside for over 45 minutes having not a clue about what was going on inside.  A nurse went to get him. When he showed up, the look on his face was so worried that I felt sorry to have kept him waiting for so long.  And poor him.  He couldn’t gauge from my facial expression if it was good news or bad news because I just finished crying.  When we showed him the first heartbeat, he was naturally concerned about the other one.

We were then told that the ultrasound room freed up and we were able to get the vaginal one done.  Annie’s husband and kids came in.  We could instantly see the two round circles again.  The tech typed in Baby A and Baby B.  It was just so surreal to see those words typed on the screen.  The tech measured Baby A first.  Like I said, it was 6 weeks 5 days with a heart rate of 128.  The true relief came when she zoomed into Baby B and measured its size and its heart rate.  7 weeks 1 day with a heart rate of 125.  When I saw that, I cried again.  I just couldn’t hold my tears (nor did I want to).  It was one of the most amazing 5 minutes in my life to see the lives that are now living inside Annie.

When we returned to the other room to see the NP, Annie, Bob and I had a group hug with the babies too.  Annie kept saying, You are going to be mommy and daddy!  The NP came in again to congratulate us.  We discussed the next appointment.  We’ll have another scan done at 8 weeks 5 days.  Dr. E basically wants a scan every 2 weeks to make sure that the cervix is long and closed.  The NP also mentioned that they’d still want to see if they could wait til 39 weeks for delivery even when it’s twins and it’s supposed to be a scheduled C-section (due to Annie’s hernia problems).  So as of now, I don’t have the definite due date.  But she said that we don’t need the NT part of the scan at 13 weeks because we did PGS testing.  I plan on attending the ultrasound appointment again at around 12 weeks 5 days or 12 weeks 6 days.

So this is it.  Despite the drama at the appointment, we are so relieved and happy with the outcome.  I know it’s still early, but we feel tremendously blessed to have a chance to have two babies at the same time.  It is still so surreal and hard to wrap my mind around it.  Praise God for the lives that He has been sustaining for us inside Annie.  Now we need the babies to stay put until we see them face-to-face in September.

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!

MicroblogMondays: Here We Are Again

Microblog_Mondays

Tomorrow is the day we find out if any of the embryos have implanted.

I have examined my heart, and interestingly, I haven’t felt too anxious, yet.  Tomorrow it will be different.  But as of today, I am feeling as guarded and distant as I was on transfer day last week.  I would like to be full of excitement and anticipation but I am not.  We are hopeful; the embryos looked fantastic.  We have been talking about having twins and how that may change our lives, but I am still taking things one day at a time without getting so far ahead of myself.

Remember that sper.m test that assesses the epigenetic information of the sper.m?  We sent in the sample end of November and were promised the results in three weeks.  When we checked in three weeks, we were told that the company needed two extra weeks.  Two weeks rolled around and nobody had contacted us.  Bob and I decided to transfer our embryos regardless of what the test shows.  Finally last Thursday, three days after transfer, Dr. E received the results and consulted with the CEO of the company of them.

The test is called “Seed” which is run by this company called Episo.na.  (You can google the name without the period in the middle of the word.)  It tests the sper.m sample and yields two measures.  The first one measures the risk of male factor infertility by identifying the number of epigenetic abnormalities presented by the sper.m sample.  The second one measures the risk of poor embryo development by identifying the number of epigenetic abnormalities.  The first measure shows that our sper.m sample shows significantly elevated risk for male factor infertility.  It means that the chances of us conceiving naturally or through IUI are significantly reduced.  So IVF is indicated in our case.  Although this is not news to us, I am still very surprised that the underlying problems with Bob’s sper.m do not match his usually stellar semenalysis results.  Fortunately, we have been pursuing IVF for a few years now so we are not crushed by the results.  However, it means that the chances of us having an “oops” pregnancy are slim to none.  I am realistic and not hoping for one, but I sometimes still dream that I’d be surprised one day.

I care a lot more about the second part that indicates the embryo development.  Our results show that our epigenetic profile suggests no increased risk for developing poor quality embryos.  I was so very relieved when I learned this.  Our tested embryos are most likely going to be good quality.  It is so rare to receive good news so both of us rejoiced in learning about it.  It’s a huge weight off our shoulders.  It means that even if this round doesn’t work, it is most likely that our last frozen embryo is good quality.  Dr. E has another patient that also has significant risk of male factor infertility.  The difference is, his results also showed significant risk of poor quality embryo development.  That means that he may not be able to make any embryos, or his embryos may be very poor quality.  I don’t take our good results for granted as it is not a given.

There is one catch about the results.  There was one gene that was detected that indicates that perhaps Annie should be on a blood thinner like Loven.ox.  Dr. E said that this isn’t something that she can say is based on too much science but as the CEO of the company put it, a blood thinner may help with the situation.  I guess that particular gene may be associated with a higher risk of blood clotting problems presented by the embryo made with the sper.m?  Don’t know.  Annie was already on aspirin, but Loven.ox may be stronger for this case.  I made sure to ask Dr. E that the injection is not going to harm Annie in any way if she doesn’t really need it.  Dr. E reassured me that it is not going to do her any harm.  Based on all the information we got, we decided to do it just so that we have all of our bases covered.  Who knows what it all means, right?  We are willing to pay for the extra cost for anything that may help.

The last few days were not without drama.  Annie was told that she should have enough progesterone until the first beta.  She and I checked her vial before she left and it seemed like she should have enough.  Fast forward to Friday night, Annie sent me a frantic text asking if I had ordered the PIO already.  I was shocked because I thought she had enough.  It turned out she had sent me a text Wednesday but it somehow never showed up on my phone.  I did not know about the shortage of her PIO.  She only had enough for Saturday and Sunday.  She would need new ones today.  My first thought was, what if Fed.ex doesn’t deliver on MLK day?  Then do we have to contact the local specialty pharmacies so that Annie could pick up some?  I knew that the online pharmacy was going to be open on Saturday so I was going to call and place a refill.  Annie checked online and found out that Fed.ex does deliver on MLK day.  I also notified Dr. E.  She said that if somehow the meds don’t reach Annie on Monday, her office would figure out something.  I told Annie that next time if I don’t respond to her about something this important, ask me again.

I was still feeling very stressed out about the situation although I knew that it would be all sorted out.  Bob was telling me that everything would be sorted out and urged me to give it to God.  I couldn’t even pray so he prayed with me and for me so that I could sleep well and not be stressed about it.

On Saturday, I tried to call the online pharmacy at the time it opened.  For the life of me I couldn’t get a hold of a live person on the phone.  After trying a few times, I emailed Dr. E who immediately got on it.  I guess there is a special physician’s line.  While I waited, I also called Free.dom and asked if they’d send meds for a Monday delivery.  They would, but it wasn’t needed.  Within 15 minutes, Dr. E told me that our online pharmacy was open, and her nurse actually already ordered a new script.  The pharmacy called me within the next ten minutes and we were good to go for a Monday delivery.  I originally wanted to just order one vial to last her for about ten days thinking, what if she is not pregnant then I’d be spending too much money on something that we don’t need.  But I eventually ordered all three vials by faith as I still believe that this will be our cycle for success.  I hope that she will be able to use it all for this cycle.

 Annie has not been feeling much.  She said that one of her fellow surrogates is feeling a lot of symptoms after her day 3 transfer.  I told her that anything she may feel right now could be due to the effect of progesterone, not anything pregnancy related.  Plus she is somebody who never felt any symptoms for any of her pregnancies.  I told her that it’s always hard to compare herself to others on the same journey.  It will happen if it is in God’s plan, pregnancy symptoms or not.

So here we are at this very familiar juncture of our journey.  Tomorrow could make all the difference in the world for our future.  We’ll see what God has in store for us.

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.

I Hate To Be Writing This Post

I really thought that I would be writing a happy post.

But beta only came back at 9.

I honestly do not understand.

We transferred the best embryo.  We had the best lining.  Annie’s progesterone level was out of this world.

And yet, beta is only 9.

And we had drama too.  Annie did her blood draw at one lab, but it doesn’t do STAT.  So she had to go to another lab for a second draw.   Dr. E didn’t get the results until 4pm.

When I heard her voice on the phone, I knew.  She said the results were bittersweet.  She didn’t even tell me what the number was until later.  She just asked what time Annie went to get her blood draw done.  She had hoped that it was at the crack of dawn when it was done.  It was at 10 something.

I was calm.  We discussed what to do with the meds.  I decided to continue with the meds and see what happens on Thursday.  I know the chances are very low. But Max is still a life.  And I want to give this life the best chance before we stop.

My mind went really far.  Is it a sperm problem?  Sperm seems to be the common denominator of all the embryos and the transfers.  If so, what does it mean?  After we transfer all the embryos and they don’t work, is this it for us?  Am I not going to be a mom who will hold a live baby?

Probably not the best time to think about these things.  But the fears do creep in.

We spoke about the possibility of transferring two embryos next time.  We talked about which ones to transfer.  Since I don’t want to know the sex, Dr. E was wondering if I wanted to transfer the same sex or two different ones.  I could make a choice, or I could let her choose.

At this point, I don’t care.  Just give me a baby.

She also may prepare Annie’s lining differently next time.  So instead of transferring the next cycle, we may do a transfer in five weeks.

We hung up.  Bob and I spoke on the phone.  We were both calm.  Probably just numb.

Annie and I also chatted after she and Dr. E got off the phone.  She was feeling so sorry.  I told her to remember it has nothing to do with what she did or didn’t do.

If it is not God’s timing, then it is not God’s timing.  His plan is perfect, but it is very hard to swallow failure.

Annie is wonderful.  If the results aren’t good on Thursday, she is willing to do whatever I ask her to do.  She will transfer whenever and she will transfer two if we would like.

I was calm and numb until I was driving home.  I started praying and telling God how difficult it is for me to praise Him in this situation, but I will still do so.  I started crying and asking him how much more I will have to surrender to Him and how much more faith and courage we will have to have before we are given this precious gift of a baby.  I cried and I cried.  This is such a familiar feeling of failing something that you have absolutely no control over.

I asked God to give us a miracle on Thursday because only He can do it.  But if this is not meant to be, I asked Him not to make the beta rise.

If this is not a viable pregnancy, this would be our fifth failed transfer.  How much more can we take?

A friend’s friend who used a surrogate also had two chemical pregnancies with her tested embryos before she got her baby.  I know it happens.  I just didn’t think that we again fall on the wrong side of statistics.

Dr. E said that it is heartbreaking, unfair, and hard to understand.  But even strong normal embryos don’t implant or don’t implant well.

*sigh*

How much longer before we will hold our baby?

Only God has an answer.

MicroblogMondays: The Eve of Beta, The GC Version

Microblog_Mondays

This is a whole new territory.   Today is the day before our beta.  But I won’t be going to the lab first thing in the morning for a blood draw.  I have not been talking to Max the embryo since it isn’t inside my womb.  I have not been trying to speculate symptoms or to deliberately try not to speculate symptoms.  This is our fifth transfer, and I don’t get to do the usual.  It has been easier to wait for this beta because we don’t have to wait 12 to 14 days like when we were with UC.SF, my previous clinic.  Dr. E is nice and only asks us to wait 8 days.  She said, “If it implants then it implants.  There is no need to make you wait.”  So we blink, and beta day is just around the corner.

How do I feel about it?  I haven’t felt a lot of nervousness, mostly because it has not been a long time since our transfer.  Honestly, I sometimes forget that a transfer has taken place simply because it wasn’t my body that received the embryo.  And when I do think about it, I am excited, but at the same time a bit ambivalent about it.  Like I said, most of the time I don’t feel a lot of nervousness, but sometimes my mind does go to the negative territory.  There is every reason to believe that we will get a good beta result.  Our embryo is a normal embryo with good grade and great implantation potentials.  Our gestational carrier has a great uterus with a great lining.  There is no reason to believe that this won’t work.  However, I also remember that it doesn’t really matter the odds that are calculated by human beings.  It is all in God’s hand.  If it is not in God’s timing, then it is not in God’s timing.  There is nothing anyone can do.  BUT, I also have to remember that my human mind does not know if this is God’s timing.  This may well be the time that God says that yes this is your time and you are going to have a baby out of this.  So basically we need to trust in God’s timing and not to think too much about it.

Yesterday I went to my bible study training and wrote in my prayer request to pray for the embryo to grow well in my surrogate.  Many people came and congratulated me afterwards, but the further I chatted with them, I realized that they totally didn’t catch the part about the surrogate and thought that the transfer was to me.  I found a lot of them looking surprised with this new piece of information.  I guess it is not easy for people to digest the news that is so out of the ordinary for most people.

Annie has not felt any symptoms.  Plus I told her that if she feels anything, it is most likely the effect of progesterone.  She didn’t have much morning sickness with her previous pregnancies so I doubt that she’d feel much.  Funny thing was, she texted me yesterday telling me that the progesterone sure was working because she was crying over an injury in a football game!

How about this for faith and optimism?  I have marked my calendar for the first beta, second beta, 7 week ultrasound, and have looked up the dates for the NT scan and anatomy scan to plan ahead.  I am even looking at websites of photographers in Annie’s area for a maternity photo shoot and possibly a birth photo session.

Election day and beta day on the same day is going to make one interesting and nerve-wracking/exciting Tuesday!