Thursday, April 13, 2017

All betas are in!

I had two blood draws this week for our final betas. Our numbers are SOARING! My previous beta was 387. Four days later, that number jumped to 1914; 2 days later, we came in at 4478! Beta levels are supposed to double every 2-3 days; our doubling rate is every 1.5 days! That assures us that this pregnancy is a strong one!

I have an ultrasound scheduled for April 25 (also my birthday, yay!) at 9am. Both P and Z will be able to come to the appointment; I can not wait for them to see their little guy's heart beating away! After all that excitement, the husband and I will be off to celebrate my birthday.

I am just over 5 weeks along and have no symptoms to report except for quite a bit of pregnancy fatigue. That's normal for me early in my pregnancies. I have found myself dozing off in the afternoons and going to bed earlier than normal. I have to get all my "stuff" done in the morning or I may run out of energy by the afternoon and be down for the count, ha!

Me...After 1p
That's my life right now. I'm grateful the nausea hasn't made its appearance yet. I'm sure it's coming. Until it does, I'm eating all the runny egg yolks with sausage for breakfast! All bets are off after the morning sickness arrives.

Thanks for following along, friends. I'll check in with you soon!

Friday, April 7, 2017

No surprises here!

While all those pretty positives in my previous post were so fun to see, the beta numbers were even better to hear! My nurse called me a few hours after the draw to let me know that our beta number was 387! Y'ALL -- that is a FANTASTIC number!! We expected a positive number of course, but this is really, really strong. That's a terrific sign as to how strong the pregnancy is so far. For comparison, my previous positive betas at this point were 251 with the twins and 240 with the singleton. I definitely say we are looking good! Needless to say, P is over the moon excited! (Me too!!) Our due date is Dec 13, 2017. I suppose with my history, P could be welcoming a Thanksgiving baby!

To celebrate, we stopped by a local'ish pie shop and grabbed our favorite: Peanut Butter Silk. Actually, we ordered it a week ago in anticipation of the beta results. We figured it'd either be celebratory pie or sympathy pie. Either way: PIE!

I will have two more beta tests next week; the RE will be watching to see if those numbers double as they should. That will also give us an indication of the strength of the little guy growing! We will have an ultrasound the week of the 24th. That's my birthday week so hopefully we'll have something big to celebrate!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It's been a long week...

I was so disappointed when I realized this morning that it was only Wednesday. It feels like transfer was FOREVER ago, and we still have a couple of more days to wait for the beta test. And my week is kind of slow - I don't have much to do to keep busy to pass away the anxiety of waiting. So, I've been taking home pregnancy tests to keep my mind occupied.

Lookie what we have there...those are positives! All day, every day! (Told you I had a slow week!)
*I took the first test on Saturday morning, which was 4.75 Days Past 5 Day Transfer, and each morning thereafter.

I have let P know each day that I tested; we are both cautiously excited as we know that the blood test will be the only accurate YES or NO. But for now, it's looking very promising!

I have no symptoms yet as it is quite early (I'm only barely 4 weeks today) other than breast tenderness which could be just as much a result of the progesterone as the pregnancy! Progesterone is not a nice drug; the side effects mimic early pregnancy symptoms.

I'm hoping the clinic will be lighting fast in getting the results to us. Depending on the numbers, we'll likely have another beta next week, then prepare for ultrasound very shortly after (possibly only a week or two).

These results definitely make the wait a tiny bit more relaxing. I'll be back very, very soon with Friday's beta numbers!!


Monday, March 27, 2017

Pregnant until proven otherwise!

Transfer went off without a hitch this morning! I even got to wear a fancy hat...

I arrived at the clinic an hour before my appointment time as instructed. P was there as well. She was able to go back into the surgical center with me. My husband had to stay in the waiting room -- only one person was allowed back during the transfer, and OF COURSE I chose this little embie's mama!! 😊

The transfer was delayed by about half an hour, which wouldn't have been so bad as P and I passed the time away chatting, BUT my bladder had to remain full for the procedure. And since my bladder had been FULL for nearly an hour and a half prior to the actual transfer...

this might have been me
Once we got into the transfer room, they put my feet in the stirrups and covered me with a warm blanket...on my bladder. 😧 The good news is that the procedure was quick, even though a bit uncomfortable. We transferred one 5 day blastocyst, already hatching. Congratulations are in order for me as I held my bladder with a warm blanket, an ultrasound on my belly, and a speculum all fighting against me!

one sweet embie
Thankfully, my sweet doctor allowed me to use the restroom immediately after transfer before resting for 30 minutes prior to my discharge. P left to take care of some business before heading home and my husband was able to join me while I lied in the bed in the patient room. After 30 minutes of that, we were off and on our way home.

My post-transfer instructions include "take it easy" for the next 24 hours, and return to normal activities thereafter. No strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, or intercourse until at least after the beta blood test. So, I am nestled on my couch with my laptop, my pups, and my television. My husband here is taking care of me, the house, and my kiddos who are out for the last day of their spring break.

Beta is scheduled for April 7. I may or not test at home prior to that date. P would like to test as early as possible, but after the last 2 failed transfers last year, I confess I'm a little nervous to do that. That can be an emotional roller coaster for sure! *If* I test, I'll keep you all posted on the results!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bring on the iron!

Hey, guys! How are you?? Great! How am I?

Oh you know, just hanging out in an oncology center for 4 hours! getting an iron infusion to knock out this anemia.

IV arm is super cold!
I am currently being monitored for allergic reaction after receiving a test dose of the iron. There is a 1 in 100 chance that I could go into anaphylactic shock from the treatment, but only 1 in 1 million chance of that reaction being fatal. Odds not too shabby!

I'm here today after seeing the hematologist yesterday. She prescribed this treatment to give me an iron boost. She feels like just this one infusion should do the trick. In the meantime, my OB will monitor my blood count during the pregnancy; if the transfer is unsuccessful, my hematologist will do the monitoring. I'm hoping the see my OB all the time for the rest of the year!

After I have been monitored for an hour following the test dose, the full 2 hour dose will be administered. It's a long day here but thankfully I'm wearing yoga pants, laptop in tow, and a servant husband who loves me enough to fetch me a Starbucks breakfast. I'll spend my time here blogging, catching up on emails, and parenting my kiddos from the chair...if the IV Benadryl doesn't take me out first. Soooo sleepy...

I'm off to request a heated blanket, and wait warmly on my husband to deliver the goods!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"He'll cancel the cycle!"

You want to know how to strike fear in the hearts of your surrogate and parents? Say "cancel the cycle." 😨 Seriously. That's all it takes. And those words gave me a very stressful past week. Here's what happened...

During a routine blood test for this cycle, results showed my red blood cell count to be lower than optimal. Sounds scary, but just means that I have anemia (literally "lack of blood"). With a low red blood cell count, the body's cells do not receive a sufficient amount of oxygen leading to fatigue, headaches, dizziness, cold hands & feet, etc.

I was diagnosed with this condition as a teenager and had to take iron supplements in my first (and possibly my second - I can't even remember. Hello! It was 17 years ago!) pregnancy. Shortly after, I changed my diet to include more meats and veggies and viola - no anemia! I have spent the last 10+ years anemia free. However, it seems it has temporarily returned thanks to the heavy bleeding I experienced in my cycles last year due to the polyps. The blood loss caused my iron levels to drop and they haven't been rebuilt yet.

I was not concerned about this as I know that anemia is not a pregnancy disqualifier and that it can be managed during a pregnancy. However, my PCP felt differently (I was sent to her to review the labs and begin management for the anemia), and she sent a letter to my fertility doctor stating that in was in her professional opinion that I be "seen by a hematologist for treatment before being cleared to proceed as a surrogate." WHAT!? I was already mid-cycle and preparing for transfer in less than 2 weeks! My head almost exploded! Of course, the fertility clinic called to let me know that the doctor would very likely cancel the cycle if I couldn't get clearance or a second opinion prior to transfer. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

So, I began making phone calls: first to my PCP's office - the doc wouldn't budge there. I then called my OB's office to see if she would look at the labs and offer her opinion. I spent most of the week back and forth with them, but my OB did agree to oversee the management and treatment of my anemia while I underwent a pregnancy. She did not see it necessary to avoid pregnancy (read: cancel the cycle) while treating the anemia. She felt that it was indeed caused by my recent heavy cycles. She did agree that I need to see the hematologist for treatment and to possibly begin iron infusions, but that a clearance was unnecessary.

The fertility doctor agreed with her assessment of the situation, however he did want me to complete a hemoccult kit to rule out any gastrointestinal bleeding. (Anemia can be caused by blood loss, so he wanted to be sure that my cycles were the MOST likely cause.) The text came back negative, as we suspected it would.

With my clinic feeling better about continuing the cycle, we proceeded to the lining check.
AND IT WENT PERFECTLY!! The doctor himself performed the exam, and said my lining was "very thick" at a 15.6-17mm and trilayered. Now, we plan to receive those embryos!

I begin the big progesterone hip shots today, and will begin another round of doxycyline tomorrow. Transfer appointment is set for Monday, March 27th at 11:30a. Despite the stress of the past week (thinking our cycle could possibly get cancelled and jumping through hoops to make sure it didn't!), the situation did end on a very positive note, obviously! On to transfer we go!!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ovaries off, estrogen on!

My ovaries are officially turned off for the remainder of this cycle. My ultrasound last week confirmed that the Lupron is doing its job: my ovaries are suppressed! The side effects have been minimal, thankfully. Only a few hot flashes and headaches to lament over and of course the always-occurring-with-Lupron night sweats. I was able to begin the Estradiol patches as planned on March 9. The re-introduction of the estrogen into my system has all but eliminated the side effects from Lupron, so I'm thankful for that.

This is my first experience with the Estradiol patches. I've read that some women do not get as thick with the transdermal patches, so hopefully I will respond similarly as to avoid lining up too thick as in the past! I began the patches on March 9, placing 2 on my lower abdomen. They are small and I don't really feel them much. They do leave quite a lot of sticky residue on my skin when I have to remove them. A quick rub with baby oil removes that! I will remove the patches every other day and replace with 2 new ones for about a week, then I will remove and add 3 new ones for about 5 days. The day before my lining check - March 20 - I will remove the 3 patches and add 4. I may be running out of room as I am continuing the Lupron injections in my belly as well!

Estradiol Patches!
I'm a bit nervous about the check in light of all the lining troubles I had with my last 2 failed cycles. However I am hopeful that this new estrogen delivery system - the patches - will yield better results. We will find out in a week! 

I have a lot to keep me busy while we wait. Flag football season began last week. My husband and I direct the league, so we have been very busy holding evaluations, organizing teams, and communicating with parents. He is a head coach for our youngest son's team. I am assist coaching alongside him this season. This is a new experience for me but one I am already having so much fun doing! 

I'll check in next week, friends, hopefully with a transfer date!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Shuttin 'em down!

Hi, friends! I'm back with a we-have-the-ball-rolling update!

IM (short for intended mother if I haven't posted that in a bit) received the results from the PGD testing recently. Of the 16 that went for testing, 5 passed the test and are considered healthy and viable. The geneticist graded all embryos as BB, which according to their grading system is one step below an A; these results are completely normal for IM's advanced maternal age and the doc is pleased. And so are we!

The fertility doc has suggested that we prepare for a single embryo transfer, as opposed to a double. He wants to mitigate the risk of multiples for my health as well as the health of the babies. I agree. On we march!

My medications arrived yesterday:

Typical Surro Loot!
These meds are pretty standard and mirror my previous protocols, with one exception. I will be receiving estrogen through a transdermal (through the skin) patch rather than through an oral tablet. Doc believes my body may respond better to this method so that we can avoid overstimulating the lining. I'm curious to see how the results from this protocol.

I began Lupron this morning with the familiar belly stick:

Shutting off the ovaries!
The Lupron shots are administered daily for 2 weeks for the purpose of preventing my ovaries from ovulating. Basically, we are turning off my ovaries, throwing me into a temporary menopausal state. This results in some pretty decent side effects for me: nausea, hot flashes, migraines (these almost kill me!), mild irritability (ha!), and increased sugar cravings. I'll have an ultrasound to confirm ovary suppression on March 7. If I am suppressed, I will begin the estrogen patches to prepare the uterine lining. Right now, we have a proposed transfer of March 27. That's about one month, you guys!! We're ready!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Contracts, Meds, Embies

Wow! It has been nearly a month since I updated! I wish I would have had stuff to update you on, but I have not up until now. I literally have just been waiting for something to happen! Well, something did happen while I was waiting: nearly my whole family got hit with the FLU! My husband brought the germs and apparently we all saw fit to take our share. 4 out of 5 us were taken out! It has been a long 2 weeks but we are finally all well enough to return to school and work. I don't evah want to deal with that nasty mess again! It was brutal!

But now, after all this patient waiting, we are finally able to feel like we are moving forward.

We have finalized contracts as of last week - so if you're following, that's nearly 4 weeks to complete the contract phase. And that's actually quicker than my past contracts!

The clinic had me begin birth control pills (boo!) last week as well in preparation for my medications to begin, which we hope will be in about a week and a half. Of course, this is dependent on when IM receives the PGD results. Her retrieval was about a week ago; she responded to the medications very well and we are waiting on results from 16 embryos! The clinic is very impressed with how well she did and how well the embryos grew, so we are very positive about our chances for success. We are hoping for PGD results in about a 7-10 days. Then, I will begin Lupron for ovary suppression and then on to estrogen to begin building the lining. We don't have a transfer date but I assume we will receive that when I actually begin medications.

It feels good to finally get things rolling with this surrogacy!

I should be checking in a bit more often providing no other illnesses attack our family. Talk to you soon, friends!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Almost there

We are many steps closer to beginning the "fun" part of this process!

In the last 4 weeks, I have completed a psych eval to include a 567 question MMPI test - wow! I passed, so I'm not as crazy as my family thinks I am. ;) I also received a clean report from the fertility clinic for my hydrosonogram, meaning there are no signs of uterine polyps (yay!) or scarring from the D&C or previous pregnancies, or any other uterine abnormalities. I am clear to go! Additionally, the husband and I also attended a fertility counseling session together, and then another session with the IPs.

I have also been reviewing the initial contract draft with my attorney and we should have a final draft to send to the IPs for their approval this week. We'll see if the process moves faster than in previous journeys.

In the meantime, IM is waiting to start her retrieval meds; she hopes to undergo egg retrieval by the end of January. If the retrieval and fertilization is successful, the embryos will under PGD testing. I will be able to begin my medications after the embryos have been graded and frozen. Our hope is for me to begin in Feb or March, giving us a March or April transfer.

During this time, we traveled for Christmas to see my family. On Christmas Day, we surprised our children with a family trip to Gatlinburg as their Christmas present. We had a wonderful time there and the weather was perfectly unseasonably warm!

I hope to keep this page updated much more regularly as soon as things start to progress and I actually have something to report! Keep on keeping up with me, friends!