Beta #1

Well, this happened. My Hcg level today on the morning of fourteen days after ovulation was 118. My nurse said that’s a fine number for 14dpo, they look for over 100, and I’ll go back in Monday morning to see if it rises appropriately. 

Of course, I’m alternating between excitement and terror, but am trying to just stay present: today I’m pregnant and I’m more pregnant that I was in April, when the Hcg levels were no good from the very start. That’s hopeful. I think what surprised me the most about the positive is that I have basically no symptoms – I’m maybe a little thirstier than usual and maybe I’ve been peeing a little more frequently (or maybe that’s just because I’ve been drinking more water), but basically nothing until two days ago when I started feeling utterly exhausted by 2pm. I’ve napped the past two afternoons when I got home from work (my brand new job!) and am currently fighting to keep my eyes open. Crossing my fingers for good things on Monday! 🤞🏽

IUI #6

At my cycle day 11 ultrasound, I had three follicles on the right side (22mm, 16mm, and she didn’t tell me the last one so I assume smaller). The nurse didn’t tell me anything about the left side since that’s the side that’s blocked. My estradiol levels were low (only 98 – of course I’ve read a bunch of conflicting things about the significance of this on the internet which I should REALLY stop doing), so the RE told me to wait a day and then trigger at midnight on cycle day 12. I didn’t go in for any more ultrasounds or bloodworm between that and the IUI, so no idea how those follicles grew or what happened with me estradiol level. I’d been mildly apprehensive about giving myself the trigger shot, but it turned out to be no big deal.

My IUI was yesterday (cycle day 14), and the nurse said that the vial had a “lot of great swimmers” when she thawed it. The doctor in her usual brisk way agreed that it was an excellent sample. Of course, I don’t know what they would have said about our old donor, but I liked hearing that this new donor sample was impressive! The IUI was so much easier than at our last clinic – maybe having it done by the RE really made a difference? Or maybe it was just luck, but I didn’t even feel it! Of course then my mind was like “oh maybe that’s because it wasn’t really in etc. etc.” but by this point I’ve learned that NO MATTER WHAT happens, my brain is going to make meaning of it in some way good or bad. Everything feels like a sign when you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s easily maddening.

We may have to skip next cycle due to an out of town wedding that my wife and I are both bridesmaids in, and then will have to do another medicated cycle before our insurance will approve IVF coverage. We’ve been talking a lot about possibly doing an IVF cycle to get embryos from me, but then having my wife try to get pregnant with them…she’s a little apprehensive about getting pregnant so I’m sure we’ll talk more about that down the road.

Back to the eating pineapple – give me all the vague signs from the universe and old wive’s tales there are!

First Medicated Cycle


Took my first dose of femara tonight in preparation for IUI#6 and our first medicated cycle. It’s kind of exciting to be trying something new, although I’m sure that feeling will fade pretty quickly. My baseline ultrasound yesterday looked fine, and I’ll go back on cycle day 11 (of course that’s my first day of work at a brand new job) for another ultrasound and bloodwork. I don’t ovulate normally until cycle day 16-19 usually, so I expect to have to go in a few more times after the next one, but we’ll see! I’m really hoping we can get at least one (but fingers crossed for two) good follicles on the right side since that’s my tube that’s open. 

I know we will probably end up moving onto IVF relatively soon (although trying to get pregnant makes time feel like it’s soo slowed down – I’m impatient!) and I feel super grateful to live in a state that covers infertility under health insurance, but I also am so hoping one of these medicated cycles will work and we can hopefully avoid it. I’ve been so antsy to get to IVF but now that it’s actually getting closer I feel nervous! I guess we’ll see what five days of femara gets me 🙂 

HSG and IUI #5

No real surprise – last cycle was negative. We’d really convinced ourselves it was going to work, the timing seemed great and it’s so hard not to go cycle to cycle convinced that whatever is slightly different than the cycle before is THE thing that’s going to make it successful.

I went in for the HSG on cycle day 10. It was uncomfortable for sure, especially when the radiology resident couldn’t get the x-ray machine to work after everything was inserted and in it’s proper position, which added a not fun five minutes of lying on the table – but not as painful for me. Unfortunately, no dye went into my left fallopian tube; the doctor said this could be a result of a spasm or could  mean the tube is permanently blocked. This was frustrating information to know, because it doesn’t actually change our course of action at all – we will still do (hopefully) 7 IUIs and then move on to IVF once our insurance will cover it this winter. It just means that we now know each IUI has an even smaller chance of working. I suppose this could be somewhat helpful for managing our expectations. One other note about HSGs – the form I got said you might experience a “little spotting” but there was a lot of blood after mine. I wish I’d known to expect that because it was unsettling to see that much blood, even though it stopped relatively quickly.

I went in for IUI #5 today, cycle day 17, and am mostly just eager to get this cycle over with so that we can start medicated cycles at the big hospital. I know those probably won’t work either, and IVF is the most realistic option for us, but it will feel good to be doing something different at least.

One thing I’m worried about – if my left tube is blocked because of scar tissue from previous abdominal surgeries, how bad is the scar tissue in my abdomen in general? It’s caused pretty serious problems for me in the past (repeated small bowel obstructions requiring feeding tubes, surgery, etc) and I’m just scared that pregnancy is an incredible stupid destination to be trying so hard to get to for my health. That said, I know the maternal fetal medicine specialist is right in that if I don’t try I’ll spend the next ten years wondering if I could have. Definitely a lot on my mind…especially when I have my healthy wife who could potentially give us children with a lot less risks associated.

I know it’s probably not worth being hopeful, but each cycle I get so hopeful that this is the one! Still keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

 

IUI #3 and #4 + Future Cycle Plans

So IUI #3 back in June was negative. I’ve been really surprised by how much the chemical pregnancy threw off my cycle – ovulation was at CD26 the cycle right after and CD21 for IUI #3. Not sure if that has anything to do with the negative outcome, but annoying none the less.

After the negative on IUI #3, I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist at one of the big hospitals in our city. At the RE she drew a bunch of blood to check my thyroid, AMH, FSH, prolactin, etc. and it was all normal. So far, we’ve been cycling at a more low key clinic that only does natural unmedicated cycles (because it’s cheaper), but will switch to doing medicated cycles at the hospital soon. I wanted to switch for next cycle (IUI #5), but unfortunately will be out of town and won’t be able to do a baseline ultrasound on CD 3 which they require before starting a medicated cycle.

The RE also wanted to do an HSG test between days 5-12 of my next cycle. Although having dye shot through my fallopian tubes isn’t top of my list of fun things, she said it was particularly important given that I have a significant history of abdominal surgery. Scar tissue in my abdomen could be causing problems with getting pregnant, so it will be good to do the test and get more information. Assuming the HSG looks okay, I’ll do a final natural cycle at our current clinic in August.

That will bring us to September. If I’m still not pregnant, we will order more vials from the cryobank (by far the worst part of this process financially so far) and do two monitored and medicated cycles at the hospital (probably using letrazole instead of clomid because of the lower chance of multiples; with my surgical history, avoiding multiples is a very good idea) with a trigger shot. I’ve consistently though the IUI timing at our current clinic isn’t very good for me; they do inseminations about 24 hours after a positive OPK and I think I usually don’t ovulate until the day after the insemination, and the RE’s office does a trigger shot with IUI 36 hours later which I’m hopeful will be better.  On IUI #6, our insurance benefits should kick in which will be a big relief.

After the two medicated cycles (IUI #6 and #7), we will be eligible to submit to our insurance company to do IVF, which we will definitely do as soon as possible. That will probably bring us to late November or December of this year. I’m really hoping this cycle is it, but I also know that the chances of success start to decline if you haven’t been successful with IUI thus far (no idea if the chemical pregnancy the first cycle counts as “success” or not). Our IUI was yesterday, so for the next 13 days I’m going to try to cross my fingers, eat pineapple, think positive thoughts, etc. but I’m also feeling a lot better knowing that we have a plan, and we only have one more cycle after this of trying the same thing as has been unsuccessful so far.

 

Crossing my Fingers for IUI #3

A miscarriage, even such an early one, was a heartbreaking, lonely, and scary process. In the past, one of my vices has been being way too private and closed off, and I’ve spent a substantial amount of time and effort relearning new patterns for myself in the past year and a half. Even though my impulse was to close off from other people, I found some relief in doing the opposite. I was also surprised by how many women I talked to shared their own miscarriages once I spoke about mine. It made me wish that women talked about this common experience more often, and not only to others who are going through something similar.

For me, an early miscarriage meant almost two weeks of bleeding, similar to a regular period but about twice as long. My doctor said that I could inseminate again as soon as I ovulated, without a break. However, my cycle was definitely thrown off and I didn’t get a positive OPK until CD27 (about 9-10 days later than usual). We did the IUI, but I had a feeling that it didn’t work. My temperature in the cycle in which I got pregnant was .2-.3 degrees higher after ovulation than usual, whereas this cycle it was more similar to my normal post-ovulation temps. I also didn’t have any of the slight symptoms that I had last cycle, and which I think I would now recognize as early pregnancy symptoms. I tested once at 9 days past ovulation, knowing full well that was probably too early, and then didn’t test again. Sure enough, my period was right on time, which after last month was somewhat of a relief.

In retrospect, I probably should have skipped last cycle, and just let me body regulate, but I also felt like I needed to jump into it as soon as possible so that I could be doing something instead of being sad. I stopped looking at blogs, I stopped taking my prenatal vitamin, I think we did nothing but eat takeout for  a month…I probably could have just used a break in order to grieve, but am feeling much better after another cycle, even though it’s always disappointing not to get pregnant.  So here we are, on cycle day 3, and hoping for ovulation around the normal time this month so that we can cross our fingers for a third time’s the charm IUI.

Waiting

Waiting to find out if I was pregnant after our IUI on March 20th was weird because on the one hand, I was so nervous and anticipating being able to test, but it was also kind of like nothing happened at all. After all, it’s like a ten-minute basically painless (for me) procedure in a doctor’s office and then it’s just done and you leave. In addition, our timing didn’t seem that great – I don’t think I ovulated until the next morning after our afternoon IUI so I kind of wrote off this cycle and have been looking forward to another try at the end of April.

Then, last Friday, I got a faintly faintly positive pregnancy test at 11 days past our IUI. I didn’t trust it, and I didn’t even mention it to my wife. I’d been having a lot of cramping, and it was so so faint, it just didn’t seem right. I waited, and tested again on Sunday and got a slightly darker line. Still I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t tell my wife. I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday (15 days past IUI) and when I was only getting faint positives by then, I wasn’t feeling great. I asked my doctor to test my hCG levels and sure enough they were only 37. I knew that wasn’t great for 15 days after ovulation, but of course I read a million stories on the internet of people that had crazy low hCG levels and ended up with healthy babies. I was feeling pretty awful though, and my hormones aren’t helping the situation. I ended up crying in my graduate advisor’s office and then making my wife come home where I told her the good news (I can get pregnant) and the bad news (I was probably about to have a miscarriage).

Today I got my hCG levels retested, and they were only 24. Hopefully that means they will continue to fall and in the next couple of days I’ll miscarry. My doctor wants me to keep coming in for blood draws until the hCG falls below 5 to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. So, now I’m waiting again.

I know that in some ways, we are lucky to know that the timing was fine even though it didn’t seem ideal, and that my body doesn’t have a problem getting pregnant. I also know that super early miscarriages/chemical pregnancies are super common, and having one isn’t a sign that there is anything deeper wrong. I also know that so many people have had such long roads to creating their family, filled with much more pain than ours has had, and I think I have a new level of empathy for how hard that journey must be. For now, we’ll be waiting for my hCG to fall, and for a new cycle to start, and then hopefully we’ll be on to IUI #2.