MicroblogMondays: So Loved

Microblog_Mondays

The pregnancy has been going well as Annie has had symptoms on and off, although it has not been without scares.  I had been kind of holding my breath in case of any spotting, and had been feeling fortunate that Annie had not experienced any.  So I panicked a little bit when she messaged me about a spotting episode a few days ago.  She felt her abdominal area tightening with constant tension, and she spotted with pinkish/brownish discharge.  She contacted Dr. E, my RE, who said that it was probably no worries as it might have been stretching of the uterus.  As a precaution, she asked Annie to be on an extra dose of progesterone.  I emailed Dr. E just to make sure that it was really okay, to which she said that it was from twins, and is very common.  Later today Annie will attend our 8 weeks 5 days ultrasound and I will be video conferencing with her at the appointment.  We hope to see some growing and thriving babies.  It is at times scary to think about anything bad happening to these babies but I have been telling Bob that we have to put our complete trust in the Lord that He is protecting the babies and Annie.

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Today, I actually want to write about how loved I have felt from my friends.  I have received quite a few gifts in the past two weeks and most of them were surprises.  The first one was from my dear friend Jane.  She sent us a package a couple of days after our first ultrasound.  In it was a card congratulating us as parents-to-be, and completed with one t-shirt for Annie, two onesies for the twins, and two t-shirts for both me and Bob.  The t-shirt for Annie says “Their Bun, My Oven” with a picture of an oven and a bun below it.  Below the picture it says “Proud Surrogate”.  The onesies say “Worth The Wait”.

 The two t-shirts for us both have the shape of Annie’s state the the words that say “Expecting…. In [Annie’s State]!” (I am not posting Annie’s state because I want to keep it private to protect her identity.)  In the package there were also blue and pink lollipops that say “Team Blue” and “Team Pink”.  This gift was so thoughtful and came so soon after the ultrasound scan that it brought me to tears.  More importantly, it shows the positivity that my friend has in this pregnancy and it touches my heart.

Fast forward a week. I was sick at home and the door bell rang.  It was our mail lady who delivered a tiny package to my door.  I was curious to see what I got since I wasn’t expecting a package.  Inside was a necklace with a pendant that is the shape of Annie’s state and a heart that was stamped on the position where Annie’s town is in that state.  It was from my other very thoughtful friend Maddie who wrote this: “I thought you might like this since your heart will be in [Annie’s state] for the next 8 months”.  This gift is so meaningful and sweet that it made me cry.  I don’t know what I have done to deserve such love but I am just so grateful to have these friends who shower me with their love and share my joy of having these babies growing inside Annie.

One day I was just wondering aloud to Bob if anyone would go with us to attend the birth and bring the babies home.  It would be far away for someone to ride with us or to fly over there.  Literally the next day, my friend Jo asked if she could come to photo-document the birth and to help out with the twins.  I was so touched by her offer!  Only a true friend would make this grand gesture without us even asking!  She also gave us a bunch of gifts such as new outfits and onesies and a few boxes of boy/girl baby clothes, items, books, toys, and maternity clothes for Annie.  These were quality items of her kids that she had set aside for us.  I am just so touched to have friends that are like family, and Jo (and her husband) is definitely one of them.

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The babies are only a few weeks in gestation but they are already so loved by their aunties.  I hope that they will show us some very strong heartbeats on the ultrasound today, and in eight months they will experience the love from these aunties face-to-face.

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MicroblogMondays: Getting Ready for Transfer Day

Today is transfer day.  It won’t happen until 3pm.  It’s considered quite late for a transfer, but I’ll go with the flow.  Thankfully my acupuncturist who anticipated the transfer to be earlier was able to rearrange her schedule so she could do my pre and post transfer sessions at the clinic.

I have been at peace with this process.  I have been thinking positive thoughts and letting positive energy flow through my body about this transfer.  Being anxious, negative, pessimistic, or worried has not served us well in the past.  Instead of worrying about the transfer not working, I want to be as welcoming as possible to this little life that will have a chance to live inside me.  I want my body to be as nurturing as possible.  The only way to do it is to be positive and expect it to work.  I will leave the grieving, worrying, or being disappointed to the future if this doesn’t work.  Right now, there is every possible reason to believe that this will work.  Negative thoughts will once in a while creep in, like what if my embryo doesn’t thaw well?  Well, again, worrying about something that may or may not happen is not going to make the situation better.  When I have negative thoughts, I pray and ask God to help me focus on Him and Him alone and to focus on His might and power, to turn the impossible into possible.

It has been harder for Bob to be optimistic.  His mind dwells on the past, the failures, the heartaches.  He is already talking about the next steps assuming that this doesn’t work.  I can understand why he feels this way, but again, focusing on the negative is not going to prepare us better for a bad outcome.  It just means for him to possibly live the negative emotions twice or even live the negative emotions for no reason if the cycle works.  I have asked him for a favor for me, for himself, and for Lucy our embryo.  I have asked him to also try to stay positive and to surround us all with positive energy and thoughts.  A welcoming environment for Lucy from the both of us will be the ideal for the embryo to grow.  He is listening to me and is getting excited about the transfer along with me.

The ladies in my Fac.ebook TTC group are so cute.  They would often wear super hero attires for me on retrieval day and transfer day.  This time someone suggested mixing things up and wearing something different.  We then all decided to wear Valentine-themed socks.  I loved that idea and bought a new pair of transfer socks for myself:

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It’s nice to have something fresh and special to wear.  Look at all the hearts and the pink!  I normally don’t buy anything pink but why not have fun with it and go all out???  So today at 3pm my feet will be sporting these news socks in the stirrups.

And then, I got a surprise in the mail.  One of the ladies in the same Fac.ebook group is a strong believer who has suffered quite a few miscarriages in her life.  We are friends on Fac.ebook but don’t usually chat or have contact outside of commenting in the group.  When I saw her name on the package, I was truly surprised.  This is what she sent me:

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A 2.5×2.5 little canvas on which she painted a picture and the word “Brave”.  On the edge of the canvas she wrote down a bible verse Joshua 1:9.  I went and looked it up.  It says:  

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 

These are her words in her card:

“One of my favorite songs right now is You Make Me Brave by Amanda Cook.  You have been on my heart so much this past year.  You are such a brave soul.  I continue to lift you up to the Father when I think of you.”

What a thoughtful gift and message.  They touched a special spot in my heart.  Right then and there in my garage, I teared up thinking about her and all the people that I have or have not met in person.  All those who pray for me openly or silently.  I appreciate their love and care and genuine concern so much.  It is such a warm and touching thought to be surrounded by love and prayers.

I listened to the song many times that night, soaking in the words.  Here is the video:

Last night we celebrated our upcoming transfer by eating my last raw fish meal for the next many months:

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It was so fresh, yummy, and fulfilling!  After this meal, I am ready to get pregnant and stay pregnant.

I believe it will happen.

Friends That Cheer Us Up

Every time we hit a bump on our fertility road, there would always be a friend or a group of friends that would do something to cheer us up.  Today Bob and I received this surprise gift in the mail:

It was from our dear friend Aramis and her husband M.  In the notes, they said, “Just a little something to pick you up.  Hope you enjoy!”

Oh yes.  Definitely!  We feel so loved and are grateful for friends.  Thanks friend for being so thoughtful.  We will thoroughly enjoy this gift.  More importantly, the gift of friendship and support makes this journey a little bit more tolerable.

The Most Peculiar Cycle

When it comes to IVF cycles, I am convinced that it’s best to know your body and to be vocal.  Let me tell you why.

After all the crying and then being told to proceed with the cycle, I took 5mg of Letro.zole from cycle day three to cycle day seven.  AF was very short this time.  I only bled for three days.  We baby danced on Sunday.  Then I started spotting again on Tuesday which actually matched my experience with my previous cycles with cysts, that I would usually spot mid-cycle.  I have been doing castor oil pack nightly to help reduce the size of Muriel the Cyst.  When I saw the spotting, I knew that the castor oil pack was doing its thing.

We went back to the clinic for a scan on Wednesday.  Dr. Dry Humor, who did my second retrieval at the current clinic, was the one who was present for my scan.  My lining was 9.5mm and the size of my cyst had reduced from 25mm to 16mm.  Way to go Muriel and castor oil pack!   He didn’t see much follicle growth on either ovaries and told me to return in a few days for another scan.  I didn’t have an expectation of the scan so I didn’t have much feeling or thought about the outcome. I was just glad that the devilish cyst decided to pack her bag and begin her departure.

Out of curiosity, I took my basal body temperature the next morning, which was cycle day 10 according to my own cycle and cycle day 9 according to the clinic.  It was the first time I had temped during this cycle, so I had no way of knowing what my BBT was from cycle day 1 to cycle day 8.  But I was shocked when I saw that it was 98.  98 may not mean anything to others but it often means that I am either sick or I have ovulated.  My cover line is usually around 97.3 and 97.4.  Anything above that usually means ovulation.  Period.  I thought it was a fluke so I asked around.  Some ladies who have experience with Clom.id or Fe.mara told me that sometimes their BBT goes up during and a couple of days after they took the meds.  The next morning, my BBT was 97.6.  Still above my usual cover line.  BBT this morning was 97.7 and was taken an hour before my usual time, so it could have been even higher had I taken the temperature at my regular time.  I was determined to get to the bottom of it.  So I decided to ask for my progesterone level to be checked.

Today is CD 11 (according to the clinic calendar) or CD12 (based on my natural cycle).  Dr. Italian did my scan.  Lining has gone down to 8mm.  The cyst seemed small, although it wasn’t measured.  Then the strangest thing happened.  My right ovary had a 10mm follicle and my left one had a 12mm and a 10mm.  I didn’t expect any follicles because there were none three days ago.  I told the doctor about my elevated basal body temperature and he agreed to check my estradiol level and my progesterone level.  I also reported to him that I had been spotting and was still spotting.  I was instructed to return on Monday to check on the progress of the follicle.  We got my blood work done and left.

The phone call this afternoon confirmed to me that yes, as a patient, we have to be on top of things and know our body.  The progesterone level is 17.1.  Based on this level, it means that I did indeed ovulate.  It’s actually a good progesterone level.  I’m so glad that I checked my basal body temperature and trusted my instinct.  But I don’t know what this all means.  Isn’t it odd for my body to be producing multiple follicles during the luteal phase?  What does that mean for the timing of retrieval (if indeed the follicles continue to grow bigger and bigger for retrieval to happen)?  Or maybe Muriel the Cyst was actually a follicle that began to grow in my last luteal phase and matured in the follicular phase of this cycle, hence the size of 25mm on cycle day 2 (or cycle day 3).   It’s all very puzzling to me.

I asked the nurse who phoned me what this all means.  She did not have an answer for me.  She told me to ask the nurse practitioner that I usually see for my monitoring scan on Monday.  I am so curious to see what Dr. No Nonsense will say about this.  I have heard of women with high FSH who would start to recruit follicles during the luteal phase when the ovaries are supposed to be quiet.  The end result is an early ovulation the following cycle.  I don’t really know how healthy the follicles/eggs may be if they were recruited out of phase.  Do I take birth control pills to sync up my follicular growth with the right phase of my cycle?  This is all so puzzling.

I don’t know how to feel about this.  I guess I will hold off my opinions, feelings, and thoughts until our scan on Monday.  This is the strangest place of unknown I have ever been.  When do I get my period next if I had ovulated early?  When should we do a transfer next?  Will I still get my period fourteen days after ovulation even with follicular growth in the luteal phase?  This is an uncharted territory and I feel like I am lost.

Pray that God will give us clarity and wisdom for directions in the upcoming days and weeks.  It’s hard to wait for God’s timing without being able to predict approximately when things will happen.  This journey requires us to exercise patience and trust.  I am definitely experiencing that right now.

Bonus Eggs!

Egg retrieval today.  Since we only did one less than a month ago, things were very familiar, except that I was asked to do a “quick ultrasound” when the nurse called to give me trigger instructions.

On cycle day 12, which was on Friday, we went back for a monitoring appointment.  The follicles were measured as follows: 18mm, 12mm, 10mm, and the small one that wasn’t even measured.  We went ahead with signing all the consents as if we were going to proceed with the trigger that night and retrieval this morning.  The nurses still had to confirm with Dr. No Nonsense if he indeed wanted to trigger that night.  I emailed Dr. No Nonsense’s personal nurse ahead of time about the Val.ium but hadn’t heard back from her.  So I asked this nurse who signed consent forms with us if I could have her call it in for me.  She was very good.  When I checked on the pharmacy website later that day, it was already available.  But see, you really have to remember things and ask for things yourself.

When another nurse called at 4:30, she instructed me to arrive at 7:30am on Sunday for 8:15am retrieval.  Trigger was to be at 10:15 pm.. which was a bit odd.  So instead of a 36 hour trigger, it was a 34 hour trigger.  I wonder why but I would just do it.  The doctor also wanted me to do a quick scan before we head over to the procedure floor.  A quick scan? I had never done a scan right before any retrievals.  Of course I asked for an explanation.   Apparently they wanted to make sure I hadn’t ovulated already.  What?  What about Ganirelix?  I asked about that.  She had to call me back after confirming with my nurses that indeed I would be doing Ganirelix.  I felt a little bit better.  I would NOT want to ovulate before the retrieval.  Ever since I was told about the extra scan, I had been checking my cervix to make sure that it was still high and soft.  Man… It was a bit stressful to know that the professionals thought that there might be a possibility of premature ovulation…  One has to trust….

That night, we pre-celebrated with a Japanese dinner.  We hadn’t had Japanese in a while.  Our engagement anniversary is a great excuse to eat some sushi.

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When I got ready the night before, I picked out these owl socks that Bob bought me for Christmas:

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Owl is my second favorite animal.  I love these socks and was happy that I could wear them.  Since I am not wearing super hero socks or outfit, I enlisted the help from my secret FB group friends.  One of them even had her whole family wear super hero outfits to church.  I am so so touched!  Bob wants to buy a super hero t-shirt for the next round to join in the fun.

I have been quite at peace with this cycle.  My thought process is… we’ll get what we can get.  Bob was very good this morning and got me there 15 minutes before the scheduled time.  I had been fasting so I only took a little sip of water before taking the Val.ium.  When we arrived, the receptionist initially couldn’t find my name.  And when she found it, she didn’t have it down that they wanted to do a quick scan before we went up to the procedure room.  We did a scan anyways.  It was a real RE who did it.  In fact the RE who would later perform my retrieval.  Dr. Dry Humor came in and I asked him why we needed to do a scan.  He said that with my kind of protocol there would be a possibility that I had already ovulated prematurely.  They would do a scan just for precaution.  Although he said that he didn’t understand why I needed one since I wouldn’t be doing anesthesia so they could see my ovaries in the procedure room before they poked me with a needle.  I was thinking, well, it’d be better to discover earlier on when I was fully clothed than after I was all prepped for the procedure.  We were all relieved that there were still follicles on both left and right ovaries.

I like doing egg retrievals on the weekend.  The clinic appeared so peaceful.  It was the same nurses who helped me.  I changed into my gown and sat at my designated seat.  The difference today from a month ago was it was cold in the room.  BRRRRRRRR.  I needed not one but two warm blankets.  The Val.ium started to take an effect quite quickly and I felt heavy all over.  I sat there waiting and watching people go in and out of the procedure room.

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Today’s procedure was actually on time.  The operating room was very cold.  They put two blankets on me and I was still cold.  Dr. Dry Humor was not as mellow as Dr. Turkey but was still very gentle with everything.  My thighs were high up and quite exposed.  Because my behind was so cold, my legs were shaking a bit.  I was definitely not nervous.  I was just cold.  I tried my best to hold still for the doctor.  He did not have to release any urine like last time.  He cleaned my cervix quickly and proceeded to start with the right ovary with the needle to get the big follicle.  One of the nurses came by and held my hand throughout the whole procedure.  Dr. Dry Humor got that big one quickly and passed the needle through the plexiglass to the embryologist on the other side.  After a couple of moments, they declared that there was an egg.  Very relieved.  The needle only felt like it poked me instead of a sharp pain.  Totally tolerable.  Then Dr. Dry Humor attempted the left side.  I felt the needle going in and he maneuvered it a little.  We got two follicles there.  After a few moments, it was announced that we got two eggs there!

We had a total of three eggs?!?!!  I was expecting one.  And we got some bonus ones!!  I was very pleased and surprised!

Apparently my right ovary has some very prominent veins.  Dr. Dry Humor said it was almost impossible to avoid nicking them.  He had to go in and stop the bleeding, which took longer than the retrieval itself.  HA.  After a few minutes, the bleeding decreased to 20% and then 10%.  When I got up from the table, I could see my blood all over the pad that was under my gown.  Gross…

Throughout the process, I was joking with them about a bunch of things.  Bob did semi-complain that the “educational material” while giving his semen sample was a bit outdated and boring.  Dr. Dry Humor said… Dr. No Nonsense is actually responsible for the material.  😀  He urged me to bring that issue to Dr. No Nonsense and see if he would go improve the quality.  I was like…Noooooooo.

The nurse already prepared a heating pad on my seat when I sat down.  It felt soooo good.  She then placed another heating pad on my tummy.  They really took very good care of me.  I was given hot water and was just told to lie there and rest.  I asked to bring Bob back.  When he walked in, I asked him to guess how many we got.  He said.. I don’t know.. two???  I said nope, Three!!!  He was very pleased.  And guess what he said?  He was very happy that we paid $2000 per egg instead of $6000 for one egg.  I gotta laugh at his mentality.  It’s as if we got a bargain or a deal… which we did!

I rested for a little bit and felt a lot better.  I got up to change and the back of my gown was full of blood.  I think the bleeding has stopped now.  Bob and I went to a mexican breakfast place and I got my comfort food there, beef soup with rice and tortilla and some plantain:

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It definitely hit the right spot.

I am very surprised and pleased with three eggs.  Praise the Lord for this miracle!  I am well aware of the possibility that some of them may not fertilize.  We may end up with one embryo.  We may have two.  OR we may have three!  We’ll find out if they fertilize tomorrow.  Every egg gives us more chances for our take home baby.  I hope to bring Ivan, Jenny, and Kevin into the family.

Three eggs!  Way more than what we had anticipated!  God is so good!

Surprises – The Pixley and Dr. No Nonsense

“The Pixley” is the name of the bouquet that my wonderful husband sent to my work.  I was so surprised!  Remember our big fight on the eve of my birthday this year?  I would never have guessed that he’d be so thoughtful so soon after we had that fight.  Yesterday I went down to greet my 11am client.  I was signing the intake sheet when one of my front desk staff pointed at this bouquet of flowers right next to me.  I still didn’t understand what she meant.  She said, “This is for you.”  Since the note was clipped on the bouquet, I couldn’t see the name of the sender.  My coworkers who gathered around me at that point said that it must have been from your hubby.  I was still doubtful and said, “I don’t think so”, simply because of the fight and the subsequent talk that we had about saving money for more IVF.  I took off the clip, turned the note over, and read it.  I immediately started tearing up.  This is what it said:

To: Isabelle

From: Bob

Note: I know it’s been a tough week for you and us.  Hang in there.  Love you!

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This is the biggest surprise of the year.  The packaging, the flowers, the presentation.  Everything was perfect.  I didn’t even want to take the flowers out of the burlap because of how perfect it looked.  I am very grateful that Bob was there with me during the baseline appointment when we found out about Ursula the cyst.  He saw how disappointed I was and how much I wanted to cry but couldn’t.  He witnessed everything and thought that some flowers would cheer me up.  They definitely did cheer up although I cried like a mess in front of others who had no clue why this week has been difficult for me and us.  Fortunately, my 11am client’s mom is the one who is pregnant with her miracle baby after losing her other baby.  I wrote about her in this very long post.  I am so glad that she was the one who was there to see me being a mess.  I showed her the flowers in the waiting room and told her what happened this week.  She started tearing up and we hugged each other.  We were both a mess!  This is the sweetest and most perfect gift.  My husband rocks!  I think I’ll keep him.  😉  (Too bad he doesn’t read this blog anymore so he doesn’t know my praises for him here.)

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Another surprise is Dr. No Nonsense’s phone call to me on Thursday.  After I was told by the doctor who did the ultrasound that the cycle would be canceled, I didn’t think that anyone other than the nurse would contact me.  After all, this is a big university clinic with many many patients.  I didn’t expect any more personal phone call from the doctor himself like the care that I’d get from Dr. E at her tiny little clinic.  I was actually writing his nurse an email when the phone rang.  I picked it up and was so surprised to hear Dr. No Nonsense’s voice.  He asked me how I was doing.  I told him that I was a bit disappointed.  We went on to chat about my history of having cysts and how they were the cause of two canceled cycles.  He said that this cyst is pretty big. He asked me how I would feel about putting me on estrogen after ovulation.  I asked him what that would do.  He said that it would help suppress my FSH so that my body does not start recruiting follicles prematurely.  So that’s the plan.  I will take estrogen a week after ovulation and we’ll see how things go.  I like that Dr. No Nonsense is proactive.  I feel that he cares and I feel cared for.  The sting of the canceled cycle has slowly subsided.  I am starting to feel at peace again.  I will continue with acupuncture and Maya abdominal massage next week to hopefully make Ursula go away.

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Finally, I have blocked infertile no longer pregnant friend on gchat.  She will not see me online anymore… at least until I unblock her.  It has actually been a relief.  I still feel a little guilty at times for blocking her but I enjoy the peace and quiet and being free of unsolicited advice.

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Cycle day five.  Time is moving very slowly…..