Six Short Years

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“You know our love was meant to be
The kind of love that lasts forever
And I want you here with me
From tonight until the end of time

You should know,
Everywhere I go
Always on my mind,
In my heart
In my soul
You’re the meaning in my life
You’re the inspiration
You bring feeling to my life
You’re the inspiration
Wanna have you near me
I wanna have you hear me sayin’
No one needs you more than I need you
And I know, yes I know that it’s plain to see
We’re so in love when we’re together
Now I know that I need you here with me
From tonight until the end of time”
These lyrics from our first dance song, You’re the Inspiration by Chicago, perfectly capture our relationship.
6 years ago we said an “I do” and a “you bet” and started our married life together.
A quick recap of the beginning of our relationship: we met online and went on a first date about 2 weeks later. 5 weeks and 6 days after that first date David asked me to marry him. I said yes. Exactly 6 months after that we exchanged our vows.
It is hard to believe that we’ve been together just 6 short years. To me, it feels both like a long time and a very short time. This is both of our longest lasting relationship, but I know we still have decades together. Someday I hope to celebrate 50 years together. I don’t think that will be enough time, but then again I don’t think any amount of time would be enough. I know that, no matter what happens, if it’s just the two of us forever, if we have biological kids, foster kids or adopted kids, we’ll have a wonderful life.
Two fun little tidbits:
1. The inspiration for the name of this blog came from David’s vows to me.
2. My favorite part of our wedding day was getting to walk down the aisle to a song written just for me by David. He doesn’t often (read: never) share his music, so having him write a song for me that our friends and family would hear, but that I most of all would hear, was the most wonderful gift he gave me. I like to think of it as my own personal theme song, and every time David calls me I get to hear it and remember how much he loves me.

Greetings from Suck City!

Oh infertility. You sure do know how to take a good mood and completely ruin it.

 

We finally have a bit of a plan for moving forward for our last transfer. I’m to call our clinic on June 10th to have them induce a period, wait for however long that will take, then start an FET protocol. It’ll be similar to our first FET protocol in that it will begin with 1-2 weeks of birth control followed by medications to jack up my hormones. I am going to push for 1 week of birth control because we’ve already had to wait so long to get started.

I hate so much that my doctor is forcing us to wait around for my body to “rest”. I think that is a bit of BS, and it’s gotten me into a foul mood. For a normal, fertile person, they could already be pregnant and know about it at 6 weeks post D&C, which for me was yesterday. We’re probably looking at about 10 more weeks before transfer.

 

I would say that about 40% of the time, I am ready for this next transfer to fail so we can get off the infertility roller coaster and just get on with a childless life. Infertility is definitely a mind f*ck.

A Visit to Sequoia National Park

Here is a quick recap of the visit my sis, niece, nephew and I had to Sequoia National Park this week!

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Sarah and I were up at 5am on Monday morning so we could do our best to beat traffic. Our car was PACKED with all the stuff we needed, and lots that we didn’t. We thought it was going to be very very cold, based on the weather reports we’d seen. Those ended up not being for where we were camped, so we brought a lot of extra cold weather clothes and blankets that we didn’t use.

 

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The Exeter water tower! This was our last major-ish town before we turned up the 198 to head into the park. We stopped and had lunch, and I called and texted David for the last time.

 

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The first pull off in the park is of course for the sign! We just had to stop!

 

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We assumed that people used to be able to drive through this, but the road has since been diverted around Tunnel Rock.

 

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Our first hike involved putting our feet in the extremely cold river. Brr!!

 

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But it sure was beautiful!

 

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After dinner our first night, I walked down to the pay phone to try and call David. There happened to be a woman in a very lengthy conversation, so I headed back to camp. On the way down, I had seen a young couple across the way from us trying to start their fire. On the way back, they were sitting on their picnic table like they had given up. I looked at them, they looked at me, I looked away, I looked again, they looked again. Finally, the boy said “Excuse me”, so I stopped to see what he wanted. They were having trouble starting their fire, so I agreed to help them. Turns out they had purchased huge pieces of wood that were never going to catch in a starter fire. I did eventually help them get a fire started, after I went to our site and brought them some of our wood. I told them that they could join us at our fire if they’d like to make s’mores. They had s’more making items, but alas, nothing to roast the marshmallows with. I again offered up our roasting sticks, as we only needed two and had 4. They ended up coming over to join us, and we got to know them and had a lovely conversation. We ended up burning more wood than we intended, because we stayed up later hanging out with them, but that is part of the fun of camping. A good time was had by all. We then ended up running into them in the bathroom shortly after they had gone back to their site while we were all getting ready for bed. Turns out the light in the mens room didn’t work, so we all shared the small womens bathroom. All of us (me, Sarah, K & E) are hoping they get a storybook ending.

 

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Day 2 finally meant getting up into the foresty area! This is where the giant sequoias grow! We were super excited about getting to see them! The kids had been point to every tree and asking if it was a sequoia, and we had to keep saying no, until we got here!

 

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A deer! We were excited about seeing these guys! In total we saw at least 3 deer. It was way awesome.

 

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This was a cool part of the Congress Trail where they hadn’t cut down a tree that fell across it. It was neat to get to walk under it!

 

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We got a little glimpse of the beautiful snow capped mountains! This whole area was just lovely.

 

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On Wednesday, we were headed up towards Lodgepole for some hiking and saw a guy standing in the road, who gestured to us to pull over. His wife had spotted a bear on the side of the road, so of course we stopped to look. Katie had been wanting to see a bear, and so had the rest of us. We were very fortunate to get to see one at a safe distance. It is hard to tell in the pic, but that’s a black bear.

 

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The hike up to the top of Moro Rock was filled with stunning views. All the views are amazing, but this one, with the snow-capped mountains in the background was just breathtaking.

 

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After the Moro Rock hike, we saw the sign for the Roosevelt Tree. It was only .1 miles, so I decided to quickly see if it was worth everyone hiking to go see it. It was cool, but it was another sequoia, and we had seen much larger, more impressive ones, so no one else went to see it.

 

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We had seen a sign both days we went up for a little trail called Big Fern Springs. We hadn’t stopped the previous times we’d seen it, but decided on the way down on Wednesday to stop and look at it. There was a peacefulness to the area that was totally worth the stop. The sound of the river and the birds was very relaxing.

 

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While speaking with a ranger at the Lodgepole Visitors Center we discovered that there was a not well known hike to an old indian village, and it just happened to be right across the road from our campground! We decided to check it out, and there was this amazing suspension bridge crossing the Kaweah River. It was pretty neat to see where the Patwisha lived.

 

Overall it was an awesome trip. Of course I wish we could have stayed there for longer, but at the same time I was glad to get home. Now we just have to plan another adventure!

Experiencing a Loss

Most women who are trying to conceive and are in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy don’t tell anyone, for fear of having a miscarriage. It is a very real concern, and one of the downsides of telling people you’re pregnant before that is having to tell them your baby has stopped growing.

Every Friday for the past 5 weeks I have had moments of panic where all I can think about is what the results during my scheduled ultrasound are going to be. When I told my doctor about that two weeks ago, he thought it was a bit silly that it only happened on Fridays, and that there wasn’t much to be concerned about. Alas, this past Friday he was out of town, so I could schedule my ultrasound for as early as I wanted, which I chose to do.

I knew right away that there was something wrong. The ultrasound tech asked if we were in a hurry as there is a new fellow at the practice and he is supposed to be seeing ultrasounds. She had done a quick scan when she asked this. I had seen the monitor, and I hadn’t seen any movement, which means there is a problem. So we went back into the waiting room for about 15 minutes until the fellow arrived and went back into the exam room. Sure enough, he too didn’t see anything, and let us know that I’d be getting a call later that day with our options. I started researching what they would be and was prepared for when they called. What I was not prepared for was the doctor I spoke to asking me to go back in the following day for another ultrasound. Saturday mornings ultrasound showed the same thing, though I chose to look away from the monitor.

I can imagine that I had a similar feeling to women who choose to have an abortion and are forced to see an ultrasound first. Let me tell you, from first hand experience, it is akin to mental torture. Being forced to do that when losing your child is probably one of the worst things a regular person could experience. I know it was for me. And I unfortunately probably have to do it again on Monday afternoon at Kaiser.

I emailed my Kaiser nurse on Friday to ask her what my options were through them. As I’ve already been there for an OB appointment, any treatment choice should be covered, versus paying fully out of pocket at my clinic. She emailed the doctor on call and scheduled an appointment for me. If they cannot help me quickly enough, I will end up using the surgery center across the hall from my fertility clinic.

For a missed miscarriage, there are three options:

  1. wait for your body to naturally miscarry, which could take weeks and cause an infection
  2. take some medication to get the process started quickly (generally in about 4 hours) and can also cause an infection
  3. do a surgery called a D&C, where they remove everything from inside your uterus, with a very low risk of infection

With options 1 and 2, if you don’t fully expel everything, you have to have a D&C anyway. I’ve, and we’ve, decided that a D&C is the best option for me. I don’t want to wait around and then have to have emergency surgery. I’d rather just get it over with quickly, so we can get back to doing another transfer in a few months.

 

All of this has, of course, been devastating. There have been lots of tears, and lots of unpleasant thoughts. There was also some Googling, in which I discovered that women with PCOS have not a 15-20% chance of miscarrying like the general population, but a 45-50% chance of miscarrying thanks to the hormone imbalance that is PCOS. It is also likely that the embryo was abnormal to begin with, and whatever development happens at 9 weeks was always going to be fatal. The only way to know is with analysis, which I think always happens when you have a D&C.

 

It is my sincere hope that this experience won’t emotionally and mentally affect any future pregnancies, but I know myself better than that. I know it will affect things, and I’ve already decided that if I get pregnant again, David will be the one receiving all the info. I won’t want to know anything until well past the mostly safe point. No blood work results, no ultrasound pictures, no nothing, in the hopes that if we have another loss it won’t be as horribly painful.

Not Quite Graduating

This past Friday I had another appointment at my fertility clinic. When I was done and went up to pay, the lady behind the desk was super excited that it was my “graduation” day. I had to disappoint her and let her know I still had one more appointment. All the support ladies at Southern California Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills are amazing and awesome. They’re all so sweet, and most of them know me by name now (it has only been 20 months that I’ve been going there).

 

For most of last week I was hungry to the point of needed to be eating within 2 minutes of waking in the morning and then eating every 60-90 minutes throughout the day. At our appointment on March 25th babe was measuring at 7 weeks 2 days. Here is our babe, 8 weeks 4 day, heart beating at 176 beats per minute:

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That is why I was so hungry. S/he had consistently been at 5-6 days of growth each week. Last week s/he grew by 9 days. You’d be hungry too if you had to grow 3-4 extra days over the course of 7 days!

 

I had my first ever obstetrical appointment today. After private, specialized care for the last 20 months, going back to my gyno was a letdown.

I had an intake nurse, who went over some basic stuff with me. I had to see her alone because she needed to ask me if my husband was abusive.

Oh. Okay.

I then saw the OBs nurse, again alone, who also asked me if my husband abused me. And if I was afraid of him.

This is not something I was expecting to be asked. I’m assuming they are required to ask, but wow did it shock me a bit.

 

So my OB is nice enough, but not much happened at the appointment, and when he did an ultrasound the quality was appalling. We could see the heart beating, but that was it. I’m super glad this wasn’t my very first pregnancy ultrasound, and that I still get another, good quality one this week.

I also decided to see a different OB from now on. The one I had as my gyno has technically retired, so he only works there two days a week. I just don’t love his medical style. The new one I’m seeing is one I’ve seen once before, and she was really nice that time, so I’m hoping she is better than former doc.

My OB asked about doing testing, so we’ve scheduled a nuchal translucency ultrasound for next month. I’m not interested in getting a CVS or an amniocentesis as they are invasive and have a risk of miscarriage. I’m hoping we’ll get good news, and it means a trip to the radiology department, who have the best ultrasound machines in the hospital!

 

I have what should be one last appointment this week at my REs, and I have the next two OB appointments scheduled. It is going to be super weird to not see a doctor for 4 whole weeks!

Scrunchy

If you put 200, 4 weeks pregnant women under the age of 35 in a room together, 30-40 of them would have a miscarriage by 12 weeks. Of those 30-40, 3 will have seen and/or heard their babies heartbeat. Statistically, 5-10% of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage after the heartbeat is heard. For someone who worries a lot, that is a big deal. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like very many, but when you’ve heard other people’s stories about how it happened to them, it seems like it could easily happen to you.

 

Today marked 8 weeks. It is still relatively unbelievable that I have a baby growing inside me. No matter how many times I look at the ultrasound pictures, it still doesn’t quite seem real. For someone who has experienced infertility and an early loss before, this is a relatively common way to feel. While others may be celebrating, or looking at baby things, all I can think about is the statistics, like the one shared above.

As for “pregnancy symptoms” this week: I’ve been unbelievably tired and extremely hungry. Most days this past week have consisted of first and second breakfast or snack, lunch (a full pb&j sandwich, crunchy curls and strawberries), snack, pre-dinner corn dog, dinner and second dinner or snack. If I eat breakfast at 8:30 and I need to go out between 9:30 and 11:30, I need to bring at least one snack, because I am not going to make it that long without needing something to eat. I’ve also been partaking in daily naps. Who knew it could be so tiring to be doing nothing extra consciously, but have lots going on you can’t feel!

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Apparently today baby says “hello”. He or she measured at 7 weeks, 2 days, but decided to be scrunchy during the ultrasound, so could actually be a bit bigger. His or her heart was beating at 168 bpm, which is excellent.

Today I finally get to start reducing my progesterone injections! I’ve been given 1.5 ccs a day, every day, for the past 42 days. That is 42 needles directly into my gluteus maximus. I now am only going to have to have 1 cc injected daily, which is a good sign. It means that things are progressing nicely and the placenta is thinking about getting ready to take over. I’m glad that my doctor has decided to slowly wean me from the medication instead of just having me stop cold turkey. I don’t think I’d be able to handle that. I much prefer the slowly reduce method!

 

I have a pregnancy journal called “From Pea to Pumpkin” that I’ve had for quite a while. I finally got it out last week and started filling it in. Doing so has been a challenge because statistics. It’s a pretty cutesy book, with space to tape ultrasounds and write statistics, but also to journal a bit about how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking about.

 

I think I may finally be able to relax, just a little bit. I’ve been getting ahead of myself this week with looking on Pinterest at baby shower ideas, which is kinda unlike me and kinda not. I’m a planner, so having things set early is pleasing to me, but I’m also still a worrier.

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109 will forever hold a special place in my heart.

We had another ultrasound this morning. Everything was looking good, and we could actually kinda tell what stuff was this time. Yay!

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So no handy labels this time around, but I kinda know what everything is. The black shape is… uh… something. The little circle in the middle of the black shape is the yolk sac. The little thing attached to the yolk sac, on the left side, is the baby. I measured at 6 weeks 4 days this morning. Yes, it should be closer to 7 weeks, but my doctor doesn’t seem concerned that I’m a little behind. We also got to see a tiny beating heart, for reals this time. His or her heartbeat was 109.

Today was also the day I decided to go to Kaiser and let them know that I’m expecting. Of course that meant getting all the newly pregnant blood tests done, which means this:

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Right side drawn at the fertility clinic, left side drawn in the basement of the hospital. It also means that I got “the packet”. It’s a green folder that every newly pregnant lady gets when they pass the pee test. How exciting. Now I just gotta read through the stuff in it, though the nurse advised against smoking, drinking and doing drugs. There go my Friday night plans!

 

I go back to the RE again next Friday, and I have my first appointment with Kaiser in April.

What’s That Little Flicker I See?

 

Ah the continuing drama of Ashley and David’s Infertility Trek!

After being in Vegas for almost a week, then going to a wedding the day after we got back, of course one of us got sick. Then got the other one sick. I’ve been going out of my mind with worry (thank you Dr. Google!) about having a fever this week. It only spiked over 101 twice, and I tried my best to get it down as quickly as I could. We won’t know if there was any permanent damage to the fetus until much later.

Oh, did I say the fetus? Pretty sure I did.

Oh yeah, that’s because we had our first OB ultrasound today. It was like a regular ultrasound, only this one included our doc blocking most of my view of the monitor!

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There he/she is! They even put a convenient label so we all could know what the heck we’re looking at!

That big black circle thing is the yolk sac, which houses the growing embryo. There was a tiny flicker of a heartbeat, but at only 5 weeks and 5 days, it is too early to see it really good and definitely too early to hear it. When I go back in next week for another ultrasound it should be more visible and we may be able to hear it!

I’m still not getting too excited, as this does not guarantee anything. We still have about 6 weeks before we can start to get excited about it.

 

It was pretty funny: on his way out to work today, David asked me if he could tell his boss yet. I informed him that his boss may already know, depending on if he reads my blog or not (it is a possibility as we are Facebook friends). What a silly! Why would I say no when it’s already been posted on the internet for all to see?

 

Ah yes, EDD, or estimated due date. I did get one of those today. Of course, my mother got one for me and I just totally ignored it and came out 10 days late. The beginning of November/end of October is my current estimated due period. Babies are rarely born on their “EDD” anyway.

When Does It Become Real?

Not yet.

 

“I am commenting here instead of putting this on FB, because I assume part of your courtesy in your blog is to protect the journeys of other women struggling that you know.” I couldn’t have said it better. This is the comment that my sister-in-law left on my previous post. For those who are wondering why I am choosing to only share on here, this is it. Being infertile is hard. Seeing other peoples successes is even harder. I share here because I know how hard it is to see people post about their pregnancies.

Things that go through my mind as an infertile who has had prior failures and a positive HCG test:
– Is it going to rise properly?
– Is it ectopic?
– Why don’t I feel anything today?
– It is DEFINITELY ectopic
– Oh, numbers look good? For now.
– Still could be ectopic
– Why can’t I have an ultrasound earlier to make sure everything looks okay?
– Seriously, I haven’t felt anything in like 5 minutes. It’s going to fail.
– Can I do that?
– Can I eat that?
– I need to eat that!
– Is it time for food? Is the desire for food just in my head, or because the embryo(s) wants it?
– *googling* What are the signs of ectopic pregnancy

 

I went into my clinic on Friday for a third blood test. I assume that when you get pregnant naturally you visit your ob once and have your blood drawn that day and that day only. It may seem a bit excessive then for those of us who don’t get pregnant naturally to go every 2-5 days for a blood draw. I personally don’t mind, as it lets me know how things are progressing. Infertility does some strange things to you.

My first HCG test was 570, my second 1610 and my third 4762. The third one is much lower than I was anticipating. I was thinking that it needed to be around 6400 or more, but my doctor seems confident in that number. *** A quick edit: I’ve just Googled about HCG levels, and after 1200 they are supposed to double every 72-96 hours. That means that I am on the right track, not falling behind as I first thought.*** My medications have all stayed the same, which is kind of a bummer as I was hoping to reduce my progesterone injections.

A note about progesterone injections: They hurt. They are uncomfortable. They make your butt very lumpy. They last until between 10 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. Which means, if successful, I have another 5-7 weeks of them.

 

I’ve noticed that there are a few people who are very excited about me having positive betas. You may have noticed that I still use the phrase “if successful”. A few positive betas in no way guarantees a successful, 40 week pregnancy. I have to keep my expectations in check because I know first and second hand that we do not yet get a take-home baby. There is still a large chance that we don’t get past 12 weeks. About 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage by 12 weeks. I am currently 5 weeks and 3 days. There are still a lot of days left until 12 weeks.

 

So, when does it become real? I don’t yet know, as it doesn’t feel real yet. Maybe once we have an ultrasound? Maybe once I start to show? Maybe once s/he/they start moving around? Maybe none of those. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Good and Awesome

So I have some good news and some awesome news.

I was a tad bit vague on my last post, somewhat on purpose. I plan to post all news related to this subject on this blog. I personally find it to be more courteous, and that way anyone who doesn’t want to see it doesn’t have to.

 

I went in for a beta last Friday following a transfer of two 5 day old embryos. The results came back positive at 570. This is really good, considering my previous high was about 89.

I went yesterday for another one. In general, fertility doctors like you to get tests done 48 hours apart, but we were out of town, so had to wait until a clinic in Vegas was open on Monday. HCG levels are supposed to double every 48-72 hours, and I had my blood drawn about 75 after the first time. Results came in this morning. It needed to be at least 1140. It came back positive at 1610.

 

This means I am officially pregnant. Like, for reals.

I’ll get more information from my doctor on Friday when I go back in for either another blood test or just to have them do my injection.

 

Any further news will be shared here.