Thursday, May 28, 2009

Black and White

At our ultrasound on Thursday, we saw one perfect sac with everything it should have at just past five weeks. It looked like a little whale, flashing its tail in the dark hollow of my uterus on the screen. What's not so clear is how I can survive the wait until our next look at that screen.

Everything about this pregnancy has been different. My numbers were high (particularly now that we know it's a singleton) – I only got a third beta (3,653) this past Tuesday because I called the nurse in an absolute panic, having convinced myself that I didn't feel any more symptoms and therefore was no longer pregnant (completely and irrationally ignoring everything she said about symptoms coming and going in a normal pregnancy). The first ultrasound was another sign pointing in the right direction. Everyone seems more relaxed and confident about this one – everyone but me.

I worry that my body doesn't know what to do from here. I worry when my boobs seem less sore, and that I don't feel nauseous yet. I worry because it's harder to imagine a good ultrasound. I worry about things I can control and I worry about things I can't (case in point: I woke up this morning drenched in sweat under too many covers – again – and was 100% convinced that I cooked the developing embryo). And then I worry about worrying too much.

I wasn't supposed to go back for another scan until June 15. I told them there is no way I can survive that kind of wait. I am an effective squeaky wheel: I have an appointment next Friday, the 5th. Until then, I'm in limbo. Praying there's a healthy heartbeat, right there in black and white, when we look next.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The news from my second beta on Friday was good: it climbed to 902 from 212, which means it more than quadrupled, or more than doubled twice, in three days (further confirmation that this process is really sharpening my math skills). The nurse sounded pleased, and told me to come back next Thursday for an early ultrasound, during which they'll confirm that the pregnancy is in my uterus.

Here's the thing, I told her. The horrid experience of my last pregnancy ultrasound left me with PTSD. I simply cannot imagine getting up on that table for another one without a stiff drink, a valium or a trusted medical professional like my doctor in the room. Since the first two options are clearly out and she told me my doctor doesn't do ultrasounds, my nurse volunteered to come in with us on Thursday, and for the subsequent u/s to see the heartbeat. She's my favorite nurse, and I find her almost as calming as my doctor, so I did not hesitate to take her up on it. So that commotion in the ultrasound room next Thursday morning? That will be me and my cheering section collectively looking for a black blob (or two?) on the screen.

Here's how I feel: terrified, thrilled, bloated, awed, constantly starving and thirsty, panicked and over the moon. Whoever said you could finally relax and stop worrying obsessively when you got a positive pregnancy test is a big, fat liar. And, given what a worrywart I am, whoever (for example, the overzealous nurse at my transfer -- not my regular nurse -- who also said I should avoid ice cream, decaf coffee and most other foods you might consider consuming in modern life) said you must be relaxed at all times in order to get and stay pregnant is equally big, fat and liarish.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What a Difference a Beta Makes

This morning's beta: 212.


Plenty of time to worry later. For now, just sheer relief and excitement.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sixteen Cells and a Crazy Flag

Things you might hear your doctor say in the course of an embryo transfer:

"This embryo could have come from an egg donor."

"I'm putting up a flag on crazy."

Luckily for me (really), I heard both yesterday. My own, amazing doctor was on, which was a huge help in so many ways: it instantly made me more comfortable, and we got a more in-depth explanation of our results. She started by reviewing our results last time, and the way the clinic grades embryos. The top two from the last cycle (the ones we transferred) were 6-cell embryos – they want to see 8-cell – with average ratings on fragmentation and symmetry. And the rest went downhill from there. I have seen these results a few times now, and every time I wonder how in the world I got pregnant (albeit temporarily) from that cycle.

Then she turned the page (in every way) to this cycle's results. I nearly leapt out of my chair when she told us we were transferring two 8-cell embryos, one of which (the one that "could have come from an egg donor") had excellent ratings on both fragmentation and symmetry. She called that one an "A++," the other a "B" (I'll take a B: solid. Respectable.). And then we went in to transfer them.

The other comment came after the transfer. We had just come out and I was sitting in the reclining chair for the requisite 15 minutes when I asked my husband to hand me my BlackBerry. And of course as he was handing it to me, the BlackBerry flew out of its case and landed right on my abdomen. Do I even need to explain what went through my head? I saw my doctor go by, so I called her over and explained what happened. She looked at me, head tilted, and told me I could get punched in the stomach and it wouldn't matter. Then she told me I was worrying too much and she was "putting up a flag on crazy." Which, counterintuitively enough, was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. And is clear evidence of her brilliance.

The key over the next 10 days will be to keep that crazy flag at bay. It's more challenging to maintain a casual attitude once you have living embryos in you. But I am going to try my best to not worry about every twinge, every bump, every negative thought running through my head. It's out of our hands now. We did all the work, got the results we hoped for, and now there's nothing we can do but wait.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fielding Error

Let me get this straight. Manny Ramirez, formerly of the Boston Red Sox and currently of the LA Dodgers, is out 50 games for taking HCG? Cheating and dishonesty aside, I would like to inform any other male athletes considering getting this drug "from their doctor" as part of a doping regimen of a few reasons this may not be a good idea:

1. HCG is the hormone of pregnancy. It is what home pregnancy tests look for in your pee. It is also prescribed synthetically for the "final maturation of follicles" before an IVF egg retrieval or IUI. So unless you're the pregnant man, I am guessing it is probably not something you want coursing through your veins.
2. HCG does a lot of things. It gets you mature follicles. It doubles every 48 hours when you're pregnant. But "restoring balance" is not something that comes to mind for me when I think about HCG. Unless balance includes violent moodswings and unrelenting nausea and fatigue in your world. But I think nonstop crying is generally frowned upon in the dugout.
3. See #1. If Manny had taken a HPT during this time period, he would have gotten two pink lines. There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know where to begin.

Seriously guys. If you're going to do this stuff – which is weak and phony and makes you no hero at all – can you please stick to real steroids? Stay off our turf.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Oh What a Night

There was plenty of romance in the air last night at the Petri Dish Mixer. Out of 17 eggs, 14 fertilized. This, in case you're wondering, is an 82% fertilization rate, a significant improvement over the 53% rate in November (are you impressed with my math skills? And I was an English major!). So far, so good. Will get a call tomorrow with a time for a Friday transfer.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Factory des Oeufs

They retrieved 17 eggs today from my overworked, underpaid ovaries. Sperm numbers looked good. Hoping there is a lot of courting going on at the Petri Dish Mixer tonight. Will know how many have coupled off when I get my fertilization report tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, the egg factory is resting comfortably, watching good TiVo and eating whatever I fancy (I deserve it).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Family Planning

The ability to mix injectable medications in syringes is a skill neither my husband nor I expected to cultivate. And honestly, I'm not sure we have: mixing and taking Repronex has been dicey, to put it mildly (using the Gonal-F pen is child's play in comparison). Sometimes I wonder how it is that they just let you loose with these medications with nothing but a homegrown video on the pharmacy website to guide you as you attempt to force them into your body with a sharp object. Shouldn't you need some sort of formal medical qualification for this?

The other morning, after a particularly challenging time with air bubbles and suction as we tried to draw back the medication, my husband looked at me. "Family planning," he said, as he sighed and shook his head. "It isn't what it used to be." Indeed.

Still, if this works, I know the details of mixing, sticking, wincing and injecting will dissolve into a distant blur. I will know in just under three weeks. I'm triggering tonight; egg retrieval will be Tuesday, with the transfer most likely Friday.

In the meantime, I must share this product recall, which I discovered via author Elizabeth McCracken's blog (If you do not know McCracken's writing, get to know it. Immediately.), and which made me laugh out loud. I'm sure that I do not need to point out the 1,000 ironies contained within this recall.