Arrived! Settling in. Cycle news!

We are here! Our little caravan arrived in Oregon last Saturday night. We took it slow due to RC towing my car behind the Uhaul. It was frustrating for me at times tailing behind, since he was often driving a little below the speed limit and had to slow down when we came up on (lots of) truckers, but we broke up the trip staying overnight in Redding, so it wasn't too bad.

Since then, we have been unloading the Uhaul and the Pod, which was delivered on Sunday morning with all my stuff in it, and unpacking the mountain of boxes in our dining room. We have made significant progress, though, and it's starting to feel a little like a home.

We have the kitchen functional, and I enjoy cooking so much more than at RC's old apartment! Our upstairs bedroom is lovely, with a large window looking out into open space in the back with a hedge and tall trees beyond that. Our townhouse borders a Country Club golf course, so that is very lucky! The hedges block a golf course view, but there are no other buildings or houses in sight when we are looking out the back.

We talked about getting involved and hopefully, eventually, buying in to a cohousing community currently under construction in town, but honestly, my heart is not in it right now. RC says he feels the same way. I like our new place and the thought of moving again in a year or two sounds awful, especially if we (God willing) have a little one. So, we may let that go for now.

Regarding our IVF efforts...so, my beta numbers continued to drop from 24 and were only 13 at the next blood test. The doctor said we didn't need to do further beta testing. Yay! My body has definitely continued it's return to normal, and, due in part to my attempt to eat a more low-carb diet, I feel thinner than I've been in many months.

The big news is that I did complete a doctor-ordered RPL (Repeat Pregnancy Loss) test panel, and not only was my tsh/thyroid level way up at 4.3, but my Protein C result was low at 64, with a normal range of 78 - 205. The doctor said that my recent early pregnancy loss may still be impacting these numbers and ordered repeat testing in four weeks (around December 7th).

So, even though it's a big drag to have further delay, if it means greater chance of success in our next cycle, we are okay with that. I guess if the Protein C is still out of range, they may put me on Lovenox (anti-coagulant) for the next cycle. Have any of you heard of or experienced this?

With regard to the tsh, I recently learned that estrogen can impact your tsh levels: WTF?! I had no idea. Needless to say, I requested we test my tsh level prior to our next transfer, following the weeks of taking estrogen to build my lining, and the doctor concurred.

I have more to share about our time with my family since arriving (taking my older niece and nephew to The Grinch was a highlight!), plus reflections about how RC and I deal with stress and are working out the true combining of our lives, but I'll stop here today. Holidays suddenly feel like they're right around the bend, and I'm excited for our first holiday season living in Oregon!


Updates from Limbo-land

Update on beta hell: The week following was, again, exactly the same as the prior week, around 45.

Cue getting more serious and investigating possibility of getting a D&C, which I would have to get locally, since my several-hours-away clinic isn't covered by my insurance. We talked to a local doctor, RC's friend who works out of a local medical center, who agreed to do the procedure.

I talked to the doctor at the clinic again and he explained again why he was against using methotrex@te, the timeline of recovery for that or a D&C, and how he has come to believe in the wisdom of letting things resolve naturally when possible. This makes sense, but it's sooo hard being in limbo and waiting, waiting, then waiting some more.

But... guess what? In the midst of these considerations, I had another beta this last Friday and... Halle-frickin-lujah, the numbers *finally* started moving in the right direction. It came back at 24.6!! I felt incredibly relieved. I really don't want to get the surgery or take toxic medication if I can avoid it, even though I know many women (including myself) have gone through these and been fine. It's stressful and uncomfortable, and, if I can avoid it and also avoid further delays in starting the next cycle, then that would be much preferred.

Without going into too much detail, after calming and almost stopping, my body has picked up it's efforts of final healing. I had some increased old blood, then some new blood yesterday and today, along with very slight cramping/pulling feelings here and there. I'll go in for another beta next Friday, fingers crossed!

And happening in parallel: a little less than two weeks now until we caravan with all our stuff and animals up to Oregon. Wowza! More about that in another post, but needless to say, this is a huge commitment on both our parts and is bringing up some stuff to work through.


Waiting...and Moving

Soooo, we have given up on starting the next cycle quickly or before we move to Oregon. It looks like my next transfer won't be until December.

This is because, instead of going down, my HCG beta went up last Monday to 45! Argh. The doctor then ordered an ultrasound, which I did on Thursday, and which showed there was nothing in my uterus or tubes. Therefore, no ectopic or retained tissue in my uterus or anything like that. I am having a little ongoing spotting and even a little very mild cramping the last couple of days, so I guess my body is still working through healing.

After reviewing the ultrasound results, the doctor gave us three options going forward:
  1. Continue waiting for the beta to drop (and of course hoping my period arrives in three weeks). My next blood test is scheduled for next Friday. 
  2. Get a saline sonogram and potentially have a DNC or hysteroscopy. 
  3. Take methotrexate, which the doctor does not advise.
As hard as it is to just keep waiting, we’re leaning towards doctor-preferred option one. We will, however, reevaluate depending on the beta results next week.

The earliest we could start the next cycle would be around the first of November. Since a cycle takes about a month leading up to transfer, that brings us to the beginning of December. Cycling and transferring over the holidays - wow, not necessarily what I would choose, but we will move forward as soon as possible.

Our move to Oregon will be around the end of the first week of November. Our plans are starting to come together. We have a budget, which includes, in addition to paying for a POD to be moved from the Bay Area to Oregon, one of us driving a U-haul up and towing one of our cars behind, while the other person drives the second car. Sounds stressful! We will be breaking up the trip with a hotel stay, though, so that should help.

Life is rolling along, not as we had envisioned, but we are looking forward to moving to Oregon and feeling hopeful about the next cycle... which I pray starts sooner rather than later!


FET Update #3

Still in limbo land... the Beta number was, wait for it, *exactly the same* last Monday. Argh!! It was around 20. I told my nurse that I needed to have some reason why this was the case and not just, "It's a mystery, wait another week." So, the doctor ended up calling me and talking about how, since the level started and has remained low, it indicates there are slight remaining pregnancy/placental cells somewhere and it can take time for them to clear.

He said to stop the BCP and Trental, which I did right away. Since then, I started bleeding. Definitely an unusual-type cycle - less intense but starting with (TMI Warning) a couple days of old blood and now some red blood with tissue in it. It's all sort of sad, but at the same time, I welcome it because I really want to get back to ground zero and start the new cycle.

I do question why they started me on BCP on cycle day 3 after a chemical pregnancy? Doesn't it make sense that my body go through a whole cycle, and let it run it's course? I guess they were doing it because our initial plan was to go right into an FET cycle, but it needs to make sense with the healing process, too!

A positive development is that we are now clear about moving to Oregon at the start of November, then coming down for the transfer later on. We need to get on with our plans, plus we have a place now! It's in a perfect location, a few blocks from my sister's house and walking distance from my dad and brother's house, as well as a nice outdoor/indoor mall with restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and even a Trader Joe's. We want to get up there and don't want to pay two rents for longer than necessary.

Lastly, I bit the bullet and bought the Circle @nd Bloom meditation program. Yay! I'm excited about the modules specifically corresponding to each phase in the FET cycle and really feel it will help me manage my anxiety this time around. Now, if we can only get started! Fingers crossed for next Wednesday's blood test showing a *ZERO* Beta result!


FET Update #2

We are in limbo-land this week because the Beta did not drop. It was around 20 on Monday, so we re-test this Monday, fingers crossed.

It's so frustrating because we had a tentative cycle calendar which had us transfer at the end of October. Now, from what the nurse told me previously, the earliest we could transfer would be November 12th. :( This is an issue not just because it's so hard to be in limbo, but also because we are trying to make a move to my hometown in Oregon, and were planning on the beginning of November. We still may do that, but would then need to make a seven-and-a-half hour drive to the clinic for the transfer.

The good news is that we could get all the testing and ultrasounds done locally, but that's a tough drive to make and not ideal to do shortly after transferring. We will see how things unfold. The first hurdle is getting my d@mn Beta to drop, so please send good thoughts for us on Monday.

I have been feeling okay; a little occasional very light cramping and old blood spotting. I have continued taking the birth control pills, per doctor's orders, as well as the Trental medication for uterine blood flow. My mood has been okay generally, but it seems like I have less patience and tolerance than usual; RC and I have had some frustrating conversations.

I've been trying to meditate daily, however, and today we are going on a big food shopping trip to stock up with healthy items for the cycle. Yay. I'm back up to four career counseling clients, and am enjoying having that to take some positive attention and time. Fingers crossed we can move forward next week!


FET Update #1

I officially started this cycle today with BCPs, so here we go again! I began bleeding early Friday morning, as expected, and the nurse then sent over our new schedule. Lots going on this week with a final Beta blood test tomorrow to assure it's decreased, then a Baseline Ultrasound on Tuesday, and, assuming that's all clear, starting Lupron on Thursday. Our transfer is scheduled for October 23rd. We plan to transfer two again and look forward to talking to the embryologist about which of our remaining 15 (!) frozen embryos he would recommend.

Both RC and I have continued to feel some sadness here and there about our first try not working. He has been more deeply sad about it, I think, because I have gone through so many similar disappointments. Unfortunately, I have some callouses built up around my heart. That sounds strange to say, but hopefully that makes sense to some of you. I do know I'll be over the moon when we get a positive outcome... and it will probably take a while to sink in. I also think I had already started to accept that our cycle hadn't worked, first with the negative HPTs, and then with the super low beta, on top of just not feeling much those last few days.

Today, I'm actually excited to go into a new cycle and am feeling positive about it. I heard three different examples this week of second IVF tries (FETs) working for people, and that feels very encouraging. One was a blogging friend from the Cal IVF FB site who actually just got her positive on the second try with a frozen embryo transfer from her donor IVF cycle.

The second was on a television show I watch in which one of the main character just happened to be going through an IVF cycle. I really related to when she tried to "do everything right" and had her hopes up with a 70% chance of success. Her second try, she and her husband tried to mediate their expectations; she said she felt similarly to the first cycle in terms of symptoms... but it was a success!

When I went to a friend's house for dinner last night to catch up and share the experience, she gave me the third example. She told me about the daughter of a friend who had gone through a lot of infertility ups and downs and, after adopting two children, ended up pregnant with twins on her second IVF round with an FET.

We will be adding a couple new medical strategies to the protocol this time. Firstly, I started taking Trental, a type of Viagra or vasodialator to increase uterine blood flow. Secondly, as I hoped, I will be taking more estrogen from the start of that stage - both patches and pills - to hopefully increase my lining more gradually and fully. I would love it if I could reach at least an 11 or 12mm thickness with my lining. If you had success with an IVF or FET, do you remember what your lining reached prior to transfer?

This cycle, I also intend to meditate more from the beginning. Do you think it's worth spending $59 on a specific FET meditation program from Circle & B1oom? It includes 11 meditations corresponding with different stages of the FET process and sounds like it really focuses on relaxation, stress relief, and empowerment during the post-transfer wait, which was anxiety-provoking and challenging for me last time. I found a few meditations in my meditation app, but I'm not yet sure of their production quality.

Lastly, we talked about getting out of town during the two-week-really 9-day-wait... maybe going to the coast and staying at an air bnb location for two or three days. When we were in the Sacramento hotel for a day and a half after the transfer, I felt like we were in a nurturing bubble. I felt close to RC, relaxed and cozy. I hope all these changes will improve our chances and support our embabies to implant!


Cycle Update 5

And, just like that, despite our great odds, this cycle is a bust. Or more specifically, a "chemical" pregnancy - the most ridiculous name I've ever heard for a very early pregnancy that stops developing.

When the three home pregnancy tests we took came back negative, my anxiety shot through the roof. It was, as they say, not a good sign. But we held out hope that maybe one or both of our embryos were late implanters and looked towards the Beta test that Friday.

The Beta test came back at 12, which, if you are familiar with Betas, is extremely low. They (as in your doctor and nurses) like to see it at least 30, preferably 50. But I did feel excited for a little while, just knowing I was pregnant; that something had started after so many tries with IUI before where nothing started at all. So, we hoped upon hope that it would double properly for the second Beta test on Monday.

On Monday, we drove to the lab, where they told us that the results hadn't been finalized or something. It was very confusing, but when we called the processing center, they faxed over the required confirmation paperwork to my doctor. So they could confirm they are my doctor. Even though the order said the doctor's name and had their signature at the bottom. Argh!

When that happened, they finally sent the results to both my doctor and the lab, and my nurse beat the lab to the punch and called right away. My nurse, who has been super helpful along the way, did not have a positive tone so I guessed even before I heard that the Beta had only risen to a 17. Disappointment does not describe the feeling. It's like a punch to the chest.

RC was immediately super sad, whereas I think I just went kind of numb. I think, too, that what I read about Betas, had indicated that it was extremely uncertain that there would be a positive ending. We decided to drown our sorrows that evening. It was effective, but now we are picking up the pieces and regrouping for a Frozen Embryo Transfer. I have stopped all medication and am waiting to bleed. Once that starts, I let my nurse know and we create a calendar for the FET cycle. We are super fortunate to have great quality frozen embryos to use.

Apparently, my clinic has a committee that meets to discuss cases that did not succeed, so we will be on the agenda. I look forward to hearing how they might want to tweak my protocols and medication. I definitely think I should start with more estrogen, since my lining was thin in the initial check and then barely reached the minimum level before starting progesterone. I think it was close to 9mm. I'd also like to check my progesterone shortly after transfer to assure it's where it should be.

On the two-week (well really 8-9 days) side, RC and I talked about getting out of town for a few days to help mediate my anxiety. Especially on days he worked, it was super challenging for me to get through those last few hours of the afternoon/evening before he got home. He's going to take a day or two off work, and I'm also going to pre-plan some fun and uplifting activities on the days we are in town. I also want to do some hypnobabies meditations - have any of you used those?

I guess we've turned the corner and are looking ahead to the new cycle, but I still feel a little lost and empty at times. We both got attached to the "perfect" little embabies that were transferred this cycle.