Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen….WE ARE PREGNANT!!!

       One day I got the bright idea to ask God to help me learn patience; the thing about God is, He answers prayers. The answer may not always look the way we want or expect it to, but He is always working things for my good (Romans 8:28) so I trust Him. Recently, over the last 10 or so months I have been finding ample opportunities to learn patience.
          I mean, sure, my husband and I have been waiting 7 years to finally get pregnant but once we decided Embryo Adoption was the path for us it seemed like the waiting really began. We had to wait to find someone willing to do our home study; we had to wait for it to be completed. We had to wait for a consultation appointment with the NEDC; we had to wait for an open transfer date. We had to wait for the actual transfer…and then we had to wait 13 days to go take the blood test.
          As if all that wasn’t enough, I couldn’t find out the results of my blood test until Wednesday afternoon (as I was literally walking into work!!!!) The funny thing is, after all these opportunities to learn patience, I can still be pretty impatient and antsy. The NEDC asked me NOT to take a home pregnancy test, but low and behold, on day 12 of waiting I found myself purchasing a First Response pregnancy test (because they can read HCG as low as 5). I just couldn’t wait that extra day. The test was rapid response, with results in 1 minute. 

           So I thoroughly read and re-read the instructions (sure that I would mess it up and cause a false negative response) and I had already peed that morning so I was paranoid that my test would be negative because it wasn’t concentrated enough with HCG.
          So of course I peed on the stick and set it down to wait, but before I could get my pants back up, 2 lines were already showing!!! It said we were pregnant…no faint lines or half lines, just 2 dark solid lines!! OMG!

I was ecstatic. I think that I honestly believed it would show negative, even if I actually was pregnant. After taking so many tests when we were trying, you get accustomed to the negative response.
          The positive Home Pregnancy Test (HPT) was done Monday, on Memorial Day, but we didn’t want to tell any family until we had it confirmed with the blood work on the following day. On Tuesday I went to have my blood tests done with STAT same day results. But, by 3pm I had not heard from my doctor. When I called they said they had not received anything. So we waited some more…after 4pm I decided that maybe I was not pregnant since I didn’t have the blood work back, so I went and took the 2nd HPT, which also came up positive! I was convinced. Wednesday we got the call telling us we were definitely pregnant! 

          There always seems to be a dark spot that tries to steal my joy. My blood work showed that my HCG count was good at 673, but that my progesterone level was low at 12, when they want it to be 15. I get 2 shots of progesterone every day and the NEDC said that normally when you take a progesterone supplement your levels are high, not low. We are not sure why the level is low, so today, Thursday, I had to go for more blood work to make sure my HCG count is doubling and to see if my progesterone levels increased. I did read that 12 is a normal level for progesterone so I am trying to stand against fear. I know that God gave us this miracle and that He will finish His good work. 

          I also found out that as of June 2nd I will be 5 weeks pregnant! What?! I didn’t realize that they count the 2 weeks before implantation as part of your pregnancy. That means that on 6/11/12 I will go in for a 6 week ultrasound!!!!! I cannot believe that! See, HPT’s are great, but they don’t tell you how many babies you have in there! They transferred 3 viable embryos into me, so how many took? I am hoping that at 6 weeks they are developed enough to see how many are in there.
          This is all so incredibly exciting! After chasing after this for so long, it seems strange to finally have it. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that I have a little human inside me…the size of a poppy seed (or seeds) right now!
         So stay tuned, I will let ya’ll know how today’s blood work went and any other breaking news!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

So, progesterone shots or pregnancy?

          Our embryo transfer was on May 16th and they told me I would get lab work done in 11 days to measure my Beta HCG. Of course 11 days later would be a Sunday; therefor I had to wait 12 days. As husband and I were driving home, we realized that 12 later would be Memorial day…unreal! Sometimes I thought the actual testing date would just keep getting pushed forward.
          The local fertility clinic that we use for monitoring purposes (ultrasounds for the NEDC) is actually 2 hours away, but they do same day lab work, which the NEDC requires. We decided that we were not going to drive 2 hours just to draw blood and return home. So I set about locating a place that does same day lab work within a 30 mile radius. I finally found LabCorp who is able to do same day results; however, I called our insurance and of course they do not participate with LabCorp. They only participate with Quest Diagnostics (who cannot give same day results). So now, yet again, we have to pay out of pocket for more medical testing. When will the insurances companies get on board with Embryo Adoption? And start using same day labs?
When I called my insurance company to find out if the BHCG and the Quant Progesterone tests were covered, they insisted I give them the ICD-9 codes (which are billing codes) or they couldn’t help me. How in the world was I supposed to know those codes? These are basic pregnancy blood tests…why couldn’t they find them in their “system.”
          So here it is, Sunday the 27th, and I cannot go test until Tuesday. I am on pins and needles! I am now so aware of every twinge, every feeling in my body, trying to sense implantation. I have done much research and many women say that they could actually feel the moment of implantation in their uterus. I have felt a few twinges in my womb area…maybe that was a few embryos implanting? I get frustrated because the progesterone shots I am taking give me pregnancy like symptoms, so it gets hard to differentiate between what the medication makes me feel and possible pregnancy symptoms.
          I’m exhausted, I’m starving all of the time, and I’m nauseous a lot. I’m moody, I’m feeling pre-menstrual and ovulatory pains, and smells are making me ill. Oh, and now peoples burping makes me gag, yay. So, progesterone shots or pregnancy? It is taking most of my willpower not to run out and pee on 20 tests!! I did read that often, frozen embryos can take longer to implant than fresh embryos. I believe this could give you a false negative if you test too soon. I would hate to do that to myself and then wallow in sadness until my blood work comes back…which could be positive.
          So now we are anxiously awaiting Tuesday morning! I know I will have same day results, but I will not know them until the NEDC receives them and then calls me. So until then, we are believing that God is growing little life (lives) inside of me. We are speaking life over our marriage and over my body. I can’t wait to give you all the results!!!

Can I get a drumroll please?!

       Sometimes I feel like all of this is a dream; life seems surreal right about now. On Tuesday, May 15th, my husband and I loaded up the car and set off of a day’s journey to Knoxville, TN; a place that would change our lives forever. It was a beautiful drive and we arrived in time to have dinner with our amazing friends who graciously allow us to stay in their gorgeous home. We were able to be well rested, well fed, and well prayed!
          On Wednesday morning, the day of the transfer, I awoke excited and starving. I had to force myself to drink a lot of fluids because I was instructed to have a very full bladder for the procedure (I think my bladder is the size of a lemon!). Our appointment was at 7:30am, which was nice because I didn’t have to wait around antsy all day. I cannot say enough how great the staff at the NEDC is! The “recovery nurse” I believe her name is Sandy, was particularly amazing! As soon as they took me back I had to change into my fancy hospital gown and hair cap (anything for the babies).

Our 3 embabies waiting to be transferred!

At the bottom right side of the uterus you will see a small plus sign and a white mark...that is when and where the embryos were put in!!!
          Dr. Keenan came in to see us shortly after and he informed us that 5 of our 12 embryos were thawed and 2 did not make it. So I am sad for the loss of 2 of our adopted children. The good news is that 3 embryos survived and two were top quality, and the 3rd was still viable. That means that they would be transferring triplets into my womb!! I was beside myself with excitement! The embryologist, Carol, then came in with a photo of our three embryos…how unbelievable it was to have that in my hands.
 I just have to take a moment here to say that I knew God would bless us…John 10:10 tells me God wants to give us abundant life, abundant blessing…and boy did He. God not only gave us this opportunity to experience a pregnancy and the birth of a child. He abundantly blessed us with 12 embryos, 3 of which were place into my womb that day!
The entire embryo transfer took maybe 20 minutes. They had me take Valium, ibuprofen and albuterol an hour before the procedure; so I was pretty relaxed by the time they took me back. One of the most exciting things about the embryo transfer process was that they had the ultrasound machine hooked up to a television in front of me so that I could watch the entire internal process!! 
Note the television where I got to see the procedure. The embryos are handed over through that window there.

The instruments
 The transfer itself was not painful at all; in fact, if I hadn’t been watching the embryos on the screen I may not have known they were implanted! However, my bladder was painfully full and the lying down position did not help that, nor did the ultrasound, which consisted of the nurse pressing down on my bladder the whole time. The most painful thing was the sterilization process of swabbing me inside and out with alcohol; yikes! That burned very badly. All of that was worth it though when I saw that tube pass through my cervix, into my womb…and I got to witness the moment our embryos were released into my womb (All three of them!!!).
After the transfer I was brought into the “recovery” room to wait, lying down, for 30 minutes. All I could do was smile! (And think about peeing). When I got back to that room, another couple had arrived and they got the news that they too would be receiving 3 embryos that day; must have been a triplet day. I did not have any cramping or pain afterwards; I was actually surprised at how smooth and quickly everything went.
We have waited so long for this miracle; we have prayed and worried, researched and cried, and spent many hours dreaming and on the road…and now the moment has come and gone. I think that is why it now feels surreal. I can’t believe the “event” has happened. And now it is a waiting game.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wow, where does the time go?

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had begun the Lupron injections in my stomach 2x daily; I even posted some photos. Well, fast forward to May 11th; I went for my 2nd pre-transfer ultrasound and blood work and later (much later) that same day the NEDC called and cleared me to begin my 2x daily intramuscular progesterone injections into my hip/buttocks area on May 13th.
Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who does not mind taking the time to give me these 2x daily injections. There is no way I would have been able to do them myself!! We followed the video instructions from our local fertility clinic (not the NEDC) and somehow the first injection hit a nerve in my left buttock area! Ouch! And that region has been painful ever since!! We did not realize that we were too far down and to the right. Now, we are in the correct are, but they are still painful. For a while I could not inject on that left side so we used the right side repeatedly. This is not advised, as you can end up with tissue damage if you do not rotate.
          The right side used to not be painful; however, from excessive injections on that side, it now can be very painful. I think we are now injecting into scar tissue or something like that. The pain after the shot just feels like someone kicked me on the back of my hip with a steel toe boot; a really sore muscle. And true to sore muscle fashion, the pain is worse if the muscle has been at rest. So far, none of them have bled badly and I have had very minor bruising. A few things that I have found to help minimize the pain:
·        Warm the progesterone/oil combo before you inject (under the arm works)
·        Place a warm compress on the injection site for a minute beforehand.
·        For the injection, lay on your stomach and turn your feet in towards each other so that your toes touch and you heels face outward (this releases the buttock muscle)
·        Use a warm compress after the injection to help the oil thin out
·        And definitely move around after each injection!
I really hate to complain because all of this is worth it for our babies! I think I would endure anything for the sake of our babies.