Monday, September 1, 2014

Post Transfer Update! PUPO

Last week was a bit of a roller coaster when it came to how the transfer was going to go!  By the time Friday got here, I was feeling defeated!  On Thursday we got the news that all 4 of the 1 day embryos had arrested and none of them survived the thaw enough to be transferred.  In the past, we had crummy embryos to transfer so I thought the last two 5 day embryos were going to be of the same quality.  I was certainly being a Debbie Downer.

We left home at 8 am and headed to my godmother's where my children would be staying during transfer.  I got a text with the best news!  We had a fair and a good!  That was the best combination we had up to this point between all three transfers. 

Now I had a tough choice to make that I hope no one ever takes lightly.  We had a good and a fair and I have no intention of carrying twins.  Would I if I got pregnant with twins?  Yes.  But I don't think twins are cute or some kind of amazing commodity.  My IPs have twins already and their first surrogate was amazing and the pregnancy was so healthy so they have a very positive outlook on twins.  But even so, they know that the pregnancy was the easy part.  My IM does specifically want another set of twins either.  She knows how hard it is to raise them after they are born!

But we were still conflicted.  It seems like the choice would be easy to make.  After having one failed cycle, one blighted ovum at 10 wks and then defrosting 4 one day embies and having all of them arrest.... the decision was not that easy to make.  Was I willing to scrap a decent embie when we have had such bad luck with post-thaw quality?

I couldn't.  After talking to many surro friends, talking to my IM, talking to my husband and my other support network that would help me in the event something went wrong during the pregnancy, I knew that transferring both of them was the right decision for our situation.  This does not make me ignorant.  It does not make me stupid.  It does not mean that I think that twins won't happen to me. I am just praying for the best possible outcome with just ONE healthy PINK baby!  

At the time of transfer, our RE came in and he was having me sign the paperwork with how many embryos we were transferring.  He too thought that we should do both and he is a SET pusher usually.  These embryos have been frozen for 4 years and they are just not great so here are the cute little embryos that we transferred--I am saying that the top one stuck and its a girl (which is why I wore PINK for transfer-- sending those girl vibes because my IM needs a little girl in her life!)

Just as a little lesson, the top one is the good embryo and the bottom is the fair embryo.  See the shell around the embryo?   When the shell gets full, then it cracks open and the embryo hatches and then implants into the lining if it is going take.  The bottom embyro does not fill the shell and it looks like 'noise' and is jumbled.  

More photos from transfer:


The lovely view I have -- every woman's worst nightmare!

My husband was so surprised by how many people were in the room for transfer!  4 nurses, one embryo doctor, the RE and my husband and myself!

The embryologist and the incubator behind her!

Bed resting it after the transfer for 30 minutes!

An image of my uterus and when the embryos are released into the lining.

We are so lucky that the clinic records the transfer so we can record it!

Overall, transfer was perfect and everything went well!  Just waiting until a reasonable window when I can start testing!!!  And for now, I am PUPO  (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise!!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Third Time's a Charm!!

Well here it is... basically on the eve of our third cycle!

I have had a delightful summer since we were forced to take it off.  Of course I would much rather be about 4-5 months pregnant by now rather than starting over but sometimes God makes decisions for you and you have to roll with the punches.... So here we are ready for the third transfer.

Friday is our transfer and the cycle has kind of been all abnormal-- maybe I am out of practice having a few months off.  My lining was 10mm last week on Wednesday and the clinic did not reopen from FDA cleaning until this past Monday.  We were planning on waiting until my IPs came back from their summer vacation but my lining had other plans.  I suppose it is an overachiever.  So we had to bump it up 5 days earlier to get it done this week.

Four 1d embryos were thawed on Monday to grow out to 5day embryos.  On Friday we will decide if we should thaw out any of the 5 day embryos once we see what these embryos will do.  Right now 3 are still growing but slowly and they think as of right now, they are fair in their grade.  This could be upgraded to good or could be downgraded to poor depending on how they continue to grow. 

The pressure is on for this cycle.  I mean surrogacy has always been full of pressure due to the nature of the whole situation.  I am trying so hard to be a part of their dream and a part of their solution rather than being a part of a problem.  Obviously my uterus is fine as it continued to grow a blighted ovum but we as surrogates always second guess everything.  We can play 'could have, would have, should have' all day long but that will not change the outcome.

So now here we are... cycle #3, an amount of money that has already been invested in me and we are at the 'How many should we transfer?' question again.  Our contracts say ONE.  We agreed on ONE but obviously the quality of the embryos are not working in our favor.  First cycle we transferred one FAIR.  Negative Cycle.  Second cycle we transferred TWO, one fair, one poor.  We had a blighted ovum that ended in D&C at 10+ weeks.  Now how many?

My IPs are asking for me to consider 2 fair quality embryos.  I would transfer 2 poor, One fair/One Poor, but I am not sure how I feel about 2 fairs and certainly not two goods.  Their first surrogate transferred two good fresh embryos and they have adorable, healthy twin boys that are 3.  But these embryos are 4 years old now.  And I just don't know what to do.  Their first surrogate had a text book beautiful pregnancy and delivery and delivered around 38 weeks with an induction.  She did have a short time in the hospital due to high blood pressure at the end of the pregnancy (i think!?!) but everything else was so textbook.  I have seen twins born early and I am so nervous. I don't want to be the reason that happens.  I don't want to feel the guilt of knowing that transferring two caused detriment to a baby's life.  I mean if it all went well, then great, but what if... What part would I feel in that? 

I will sit back and wait and see what Friday brings us but I won't have the IPs there... They will just be a phone call away and together we will make this decision, but just not knowing leaves me feeling unsettled!!  Wish us luck... We are needing it after all of these cycles-- good luck, prayers, juju, thoughts, sticky vibes, baby dust... whatever you got, we want!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Transfer on the Horizon

Ever wonder what it feels like to have a period post failed cycle or post D&C?  Like an African tribal dancer dancing around in your intestines with a machete.  It's down right miserable.  I have never had periods this bad in my life.  Some days I feel like 'Today I am either going to bleed to death or I am going to require a transfusion'.  Tomorrow is going to work even less in my favor.  Gravity sucks and I am running 7 miles.  Must wear black pants.  I learned that last month with my khaki short fiasco at Sam's Club.  Mortifying. 

But with all of this complaining, I have a silver lining.  Today is CD2.  You know what that means?  Estrogen started today and we get to climb back in the old surrogacy saddle and give it another go! Estrogen means headaches, but that's okay.  This month is hectic with a trip to Maine, followed by some rather strict working things with Kurt which means childcare will be a beast when its time for transfer. I am a woman.  I am resourceful and resilient and I will figure this out.  I always do.

I am still waiting for a follow call from the RE to find out when the tentative transfer date will be and also if I am allowed to run my half marathon in September!!  I am thinking transfer will be around August 25-27. 

I am ready to get this started.  Looks like I need to go peruse Amazon and the internet for some Pregnancy tests.  I only have a few left out of my hundred I had.  Not nearly enough for the level of obsession that surrogates deal with!

Onward and upward... I am so happy the sun is finally shining here after weeks of rain.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Running is Running through my head...

Running runs through my heads, through my veins, in my heart.  It is not something I expect someone to understand who has never done it.  It is a team sport and an individual sport.  How can that be?  I am an individual that competes against myself with the team of Stroller Warriors behind me.  It has changed me. Physically, emotionally, mentally.  Running seems like it is just cardio.  How could anyone like it let alone love it?  

I felt that way at this time last year when I started my journey placing one foot in front of the other.  My feet smacking the pavement became cadence in my head.  It became therapeutic to get out there and try to complete my goal of the day.  Even more therapeutic when I actually accomplished my goal and did better than anticipated.  So many times I just didn't want to go out and just going out there and moving was my whole goal.  I hated every minute about running on those days.  I was elated when I was done.  But not because I was finished running but that I did it at all.  Running helped me to lose 55 lbs -- weight that if I did not lose, I would not have been qualified to be a surrogate by most Reproductive Endocrinologists.

Running is one of the few sports/activities that you can actively and repeatedly get better and see results.  Today I ran a little further.  Maybe a little faster. Maybe I ran a little bit further than I did without having to walk.  Maybe I did one mile at a faster pace than yesterday.  Maybe 3 miles at a faster pace than I have ever done.  Maybe my overall pace was faster than I usually run.   My point is there is always room for improvement and you can always see that improvement.  When you have a bad run, you run again tomorrow and try to hit your goal once again.  You never fail at running unless you just don't get out there. 

You're wondering how any of this has to do with surrogacy aren't you?  Why would I put this on a blog that is seemingly about surrogacy?  Well today my IM texted me about our upcoming cycle.  If I started my period this week, there was a chance for an embryo transfer in July before the clinic closes for the FDA cleaning/inventory for the month of August.  Then I would be doing a transfer just about 6 weeks after the loss/D&C.  I have been training for a half marathon and had my goals for my first half marathon (13.1 miles for all of you non runners!) to be on September 20 for the Marine Corps Half aboard Camp Lejeune.  

Last year when my running journey started, I wanted to quit so many times.  I just thought I was never going to be able to run a mile straight.  13.1 was unfathomable.  I ran my first race (a 10k-- 6.2 miles) in October but my first experience with races was at the Marine Corps Half -- I stood out there and rooted on my sister Stroller Warriors at mile 11 of the race.  I was that little bit of incentive for them to keep going when they wanted to quit so close to the end. I have been waiting for *this* race to be my first half-- I have run a 10 mile race, but I wanted to reach out and grasp that extra 3 miles!  

With that being said, it is a HUGE goal of mine to get that half run and I wanted to run it this year.  But sometimes dreams and goals evolve and change.  Surrogacy has been a dream of mine for 6 years.  Lord knows I have taken every fork in the road, hit every speed bump in forward and reverse and taken the off beaten paths (through the woods, through the creek, climbed every mountain-- even the ones I didn't have to) but hey-- I am still in this 'race'  of surrogacy and I am going to see this one through-- all the way to the finish line.

Since this is more of a 'time is of the essence' goal, I am postponing my half.  I can't risk paying to register for it and be on bedrest or not fully prepared for the race.  I plan to find another race at the end of October or sometime in November.  That should be plenty of time to get ready after a transfer and if everything goes smoothly this time, I will have a mini-warrior on board for my first half-- That baby will be well traveled!  Mom and dad will need to get a baby carrier and go run laps around the block to get the baby to sleep at night! 

I am still sad that I won't be able to run the Marine Corps Half, but I will be out there rooting on the Stroller Warriors, maybe even run a couple miles with those who need some moving support.  Its a change in my direction, but I am still going towards the finish line....

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Life Ain't Always Beautiful...

Life aint always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart

Life aint always beautiful
You think you're on your way
And it's just a dead end road at the end of the day

But the struggles make you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way of takin it's sweet time

Happiness does sometimes have a way of taking its sweet time.  Sometimes the joy of the journey is found on the ride to get to the destination.  Slow down, take it in, enjoy those small moments.

This week was not a happy one but it was full of happy moments.  That sounds weirdly optimistic doesn't it?  I am not happy how that cycle ended by any means.  But I am happy that I have my best friend and husband at my side to support me and that I have the best IPs any girl could ever ask for. 

My IPs and I are on the same page.  I caught some grief this week about posting a smiling picture after my D&C.  It was my FB but I could understand how it could potentially hurt someone who has faced infertility or a loss in whatever way.  I apologized for being insensitive.  My IM did not feel pain over my picture.  She felt relief that I was well physically and because of that, I am ready to cycle again whenever it is time to do so.  She was outraged that someone would suggest that maybe I hurt her by posting such a thing.  She is in my corner and I am so lucky that I have someone so supportive of everything I do and say.  She truly is a blessing and though this road took 6 years to get here, we know how this feels to go through this together.  We know what the feelings are.  This is not our first time at this particular rodeo. 

What is next? I have been asked this a lot.  Everything went well physically with my D&C.  I need to wait for my next period, then I would be able to start meds for our next transfer.  My period should be in 4-6 weeks with transfer another 2.5 weeks after that.  The clinic is closed for August for annual FDA cleaning so it looks like we won't be able to cycle again until September.  But that is okay.  I get to give my body 3 months of a break. I get to get back in shape and lose the weight I have put on from 2 back to back cycles and 10 wks of pregnancy.  I get to train for my half marathon in September and I get to enjoy my summer vacation with my family and as Dr. Steingold (My RE) put it "You get to drink heavily and enjoy your vacation!"  Well the doctor said to do it... so maybe just maybe at the Luke Bryan Concert I am going to at the end of this month, I will have a few adult beverages, let my hair down and enjoy this time that was stolen back for the summer.  It does not mean I would rather do this than being pregnant, but I have to find the silver lining somewhere.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Update-- D&C Tomorrow

Just as an update since it has been over a week....

I went off of the meds on Wednesday and played the game with the Family Health Clinic vs the OB Clinic-- You're not my problem, you're their problem!  Then my PCM is on leave so I can't get any advice or treatment.  Gotta love the way the system works!  So anyhow, the OB clinic finally brought me back in as the miscarriage was not starting itself and had another ultrasound done.  The doctor was very very thorough making sure that there wasn't even the slightest of a flicker of the fetal pole.  The fetal pole was still visible where it should be beating, but it wasn't.  The yolk sac continued to grow the gestational sac continued to grow but the baby never grew and there was never an actual heart beat. 

These are ultrasounds done at 10w1d:

My body is not getting rid of the pregnancy even though the meds have been discontinued so at this point my options were either Cytotec or D&C.  I have had both (from the same miscarriage) and the Cytotec was the devil because I was prescribed 6 pills one night and 6 pills 12 hours later.  Seriously worse than a regular delivery and birth with no medication and on pitocin.  Yes I have had both-- at least there is an end in sight during labor and delivery!  The cramping was constant and made me so nauseous with the cytotec.  Now that I am on the eve of the D&C, I am nervous.  I know that its a 'routine' surgery and not a big risk but when you are signing waivers saying that you know that uterine perforation is a risk and asherman's syndrome and you have to go to the lab to be blood typed in case you need a transfusion-- then reality hits.  This maybe is a serious surgery!  (even if it is routine and outpatient-- the risk is real!) 

So tomorrow at 2, send prayers up for my IPs as this is finality for this baby for them.  This is the second time we have been through this together and they have been nothing short of amazing for my family.  They sent me a bunch of sunflowers through FTD and I sent photos of them to my IM and they weren't perky enough for her so she called FTD and had them send me a new bunch!  They also sent our family a check for 'the things I am going through' to help us to take care of the family for the time I might be down.  She also was going to come down but I told her to stay home but promised that I would call her the moment I needed help from them!  This is a true partnership-- their family and ours. And pray for my safety during the procedure. I can't help but be nervous, but I will be just fine! 

We have agreed to work together as soon as we can but unfortunately, August is the month that the lab closes down to clean the facility so it looks like the soonest we might be able to transfer again is September because I don't think July is gonna happen!  But we are working together again!!  It is in the works!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ultrasound #2 Update

Sometimes we don't have adequate or eloquent words to convey the message that we need to tell.  First I will just put it out there, then I will give the details.  Today at the appt, there was no heartbeat.  

Now that there is a big white elephant in the room, I will tell you more.  This is my second miscarriage, this is their second miscarriage.  The only time we have ever experienced a m/c is with each other.  That does not make today any easier.  They drove down here (a very turbulent and long trip laden with traffic) and we got to the appointment just in time.

The tech put the wand on my abdomen and immediately, I didn't see a heartbeat.  The tech wanted to do a transvaginal ultrasound so she asked me to undress while they were in the hall.  When they came back in, an OB came with her which further solidified my intuition.  

When they did the transvag ultrasound, there was one gestational sac with two yolks inside of it.  Those were both empty and still.  No flicker of a heartbeat.  The sac measured 7w6d so the baby (ies?) had stopped growing either last week or the week before.  What do you say about this?

I have always heard that surrogacy is a selfless act.  That one gives part of themselves to another person/family for 9 months (or more).  What is selfless is when you are faced with a situation like this and all you can think about is the other person before yourself.  Who cares about me medically?  Are they okay emotionally?  For me it is easy to discern my feelings of grief.  They are not for myself or even for the baby-- this is not my baby so it is hard to explain how removed I feel from the pregnancy.  My friends, My Intended mother and Intended Father-- they are my initial concern.  I can't imagine how they feel when I should be a part of the infertility solution and suddenly, I have become the problem -- twice.  

I cannot harbor the grief or the blame.  It was not my fault but I still dislike that inside of me, these embryos did not continue to grow.  My body did what it needed to, it just wasn't meant to be.

Waiting on the RE to call me back and tell me how he wants to manage this loss-- medically, methodically or surgically.  (Cytotec, natural m/c or D&C).  I don't know what will be after the m/c or if we will continue.  Right now we are handling this and getting through this before we make the next move... One step at a time.

"One Step At A Time"

Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you've always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste
But you just can't touch

You wanna show the world, but no one knows your name yet
Wonder when and where and how you're gonna make it
You know you can if you get the chance
In your face as the door keeps slamming
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting

We live and we learn to take
One step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It's gonna happen when it's
Supposed to happen and we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time

You believe and you doubt
You're confused, you got it all figured out
Everything that you always wished for
Could be yours, should be yours, would be yours
If they only knew

You wanna show the world, but no one knows your name yet
Wonder when and where and how you're gonna make it
You know you can if you get the chance
In your face as the door keeps slamming
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kind of impatient waiting


When you can't wait any longer
But there's no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It's your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time