TESTS & MEDS! What happens after the pregnancy test

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

Folks with a BIG FAT POSITIVE (as they call it in the IVF world :)).

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Until May I had no idea what happened AFTER the infamous 2 week wait. Each and every time I got a call that said it didn’t work and that we needed to talk. However May 31st 2o16 was different. It was a Tuesday afternoon when our doctor called. Our doctor was deeply invested in our success by transfer #5 so him calling wasn’t a tell. Stephen and I were together when we picked up the phone. Dr. C let us know that we were indeed positive and not only that but our HCG levels were incredibly high, like off the charts high. He also let us know that the this was just the beginning of testing. We would need to return 2 days later and weekly to ensure that my levels continued to climb.

Thursday I went in for my second test. Wednesday was the most stressful day of my life. I called all of my IVF friends and asked them how they coped with the wait. I couldn’t believe that I would go into the doctor and everything would be fine. Nothing had gone right up until this point so why now would things run smoothly.

Thursday I found out that not only did my numbers double, they almost quadrupled. In fact, we were on the charts for twins!

BETA TEST TIMELINE: (This varies with each practice but from what I have read its pretty much some variation of this across the board)

Some things to note:

By the time you are moving into your ultrasound weeks, you are already 4-5 weeks pregnant. You can review your HCG chart HERE.

TEST #1 Pregnancy Test – Looks for HCG levels

TEST #2 HCG Test (2 days later— for me this was a Thursday). They check to make sure your HCG levels double

TEST #3 Blood Work and Ultra sound (the following week) – checking for the sac and embryo *** If things dont look great they may have you come back again a few days afterwards

Test #4 Ultra Sound– checking for the sac and embryo— happens the following week— this week we also heard a heartbeat.

At this point your doctor may release you. I was released at 7 weeks pregnant. This was an incredibly hard thing for me to handle. I didn’t feel completely safe going to a ob/gyno. For so long I trusted Dr. C with EVERYTHING, he knew my pain and struggle. I was able to get into my doctor at 9 weeks, which helped ease my anxiety a tad.

 

MEDS

Once you are pregnant the meds don’t go away. In fact, you stay on them for a long while. I had to continue taking my progesterone inserts and estrogen pills. My fertility doctor communicated with my gyno when he wanted me to end my meds which ended up being at 13 weeks, EESH! Every doctor releases patients at different times. My doctor’s mindset was: it took us forever to get here, lets not mess with anything (this also included no sex).

I know from my new fertility support group (one for folks who are pregnant) everyone ends meds at different times. I know also know from discussion being released from your meds can be terrifying. You rely on them to get you to pregnancy and then POOF you have to hope your body all of a sudden knows what to do and can handle the load. Its a scary process for sure.

I can say from my expierience that things went smoothly and I felt so much better after getting off my meds. Keep in mind, during your first trimester your body is going bananas naturally, add meds on top of it and WOOF, its a whole other layer of intensity.


In the coming weeks I will write about Post Traumatic Fertility Disorder, going to your gyno and more. Hope this was helpful!

 

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We are pregnant.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR: EVERYONE

Yesterday we told everyone (aka the world through social media)… we are pregnant. In fact, yesterday morning we cleared our 20 week ultrasound with flying colors. It’s still quite surreal/terrifying/exciting/holyshitthisishappening all at the same time, but for today, I am indeed pregnant and we are indeed  having a baby.

This blog is still important to me and I have wanted to post on here so many times. Once you get pregnant after IVF it doesn’t all disappear. The trauma, the pain, the nerves, they are real and still present. More over, when we did learn we were pregnant I once again felt alone because all of the resources for expecting moms didn’t match my story. They noted you would go to the doctor for the first time around week 9. They gave you cute ways to tell your husband that you were pregnant. They explained how babies are made. It didn’t mean anything to me, I didn’t relate.

The posts I hope to write over the next few months will follow suit to my other posts. They will explain what the heck happens when you DO get pregnant. Weeks 4-9 aren’t the “typical” pregnant experience and I really wished I had a book or app to tell me what to expect. Now, I know what to expect and hope to help those who are transitioning into the pregnant world!

But before I get ahead of myself, how did this happen?! Here’s what went down on transfer #5.

If you recall the last procedure I had was an ERA test. The results were supposed to take a week. However, mine took longer which turned into a stressful mess.  The Monday before my procedure (slated for that Thursday) the doctor called and notified that the lab sent the wrong results. I did indeed need an extra 18 hours of progesterone. Luckily we were able to schedule my procedure for Friday morning.

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So what was different?

First, I was on my meds for a longer period of time. This is probably the singular most important fact. I did indeed fall within that insanely small percentage of people who needed a little extra time to bake.

We transferred two embryos, both were genetically tested. Both were high grade, top of the line embryos. For a hot minute we thought both took because my hormone levels were off the charts.

During my 5th transfer I asked for a muscle relaxer. While it didn’t actually relax me it did make me super tired. I think this was helpful because I could barely stay awake. Instead of focusing on needing to pee, I passed out. I was much calmer. I went on vacation with my friends that afternoon and seriously took it easy that weekend. We ate crappy food, laid on the couch, made friendship bracelets, watched reality tv and laughed our booties off.

Did I eat the pineapple? Of course I did. But did I also eat pure garbage and grease. HECK YES.

During my two week wait I tried not to think about it. In fact I said to Stephen the Thursday following my transfer, “I know that if this doesn’t work and we can’t have a baby, we gave it our all.” I was at peace. In my gut though, I knew something was different. Before I get my period I always get intense vaginal pain (doctor still thinks I have endometriosis and wants me to get it checked out after the baby comes). This time, I didn’t have any pain. I didn’t want to read too much into it BUT it didn’t fail me.

The Monday night before I found out, I was exhausted and passed out at 8:00 p.m. Something was up.

The next day we got our results around 4:00pm (waited all day) and we couldn’t believe it. A slew of procedural practices took place in the following weeks.

Perks of IVF

  • I love that I know the exact date our baby was conceived and the exact moment he entered the womb. My due date (while I know it doesn’t mean much) is ridiculously accurate. It is 40 weeks to the minute!
  • I love that I have a picture our of baby as an embryo, pretty special and most people don’t have that.
  • Having paid a pretty penny paid off. Genetic testing is still breaking our bank BUT it did give us a huge piece of mind about our chances of miscarriage. While I still had anxiety, it did help ease my mind until we got to the 12 week point.
  • I loved getting to hear his heart beat every week. I knew things were humming along perfectly, it was great for my anxiety.

I still follow the posts of those of you who are still struggling through procedures. I still feel your pain and am with you in spirit!

Posts to come:

  • Beta tests and blood work: the tests to find out if you are pregnant
  • Ultrasounds at your IVF doctor
  • Being released to your gyno
  • First gyno visit as a normal civilian!
  • Meds while pregnant: the good, the bad and the ugly
  • Overcoming the fear of actually being pregnant
  • Support groups for expectant moms that went through IVF

 

 

 

Boys Don’t Cry

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF

 

Over the course of the past few months I have spent a lot of time thinking about my husband’s feelings and how I can support him. I know from my IVF group and conversations with friends that I am not alone in feeling like I don’t know how to support my husband in a way that truly nourishes his need to talk and experience his own stress regarding IVF while also managing to exist.

This is timely because a one of the big ol’ trending articles right now follows the story of a couple “told from the perspective of the husband.” You can read more HERE.

I am an independent, self sufficient, g0-getter. For 27 of my 29 years I have been the sole bearer of my emotional well-being. During past experiences with trauma I have had to pick myself up by the bootstraps and find the resources and support I needed to be healthy. As a teen I did not have family to help, I figured out how to thrive on my own. My husband  was there for me but due to circumstances didn’t always know what to say, which was completely fair given the context. I provide this information because IVF has completely shifted how I cope with trauma. Perhaps I deal with IVF differently because its not an singular experience, I am enduring all that I do for myself and my husband, and thus I am much more okay with sharing the burden of my emotional wreckage with him. We talk all of the time about IVF and feelings, but digging into his feelings isn’t always part of the conversation.

The result  is that at times he manages both of our stress. Because I am not only emotionally unwell  but also physically sick he keeps his feelings confined until he gets to therapy, etc. His friends are wonderful humans but may not know what to say (understandably). It hurts my heart typing these sentences because I wish so very badly I had the emotional capacity to take on his pain too.

There must be a space for men (who aren’t infertile) to talk. I have seen very little around this issue and it kills me because men need to talk too (oh hey masculinity confines). IVF isn’t discussed and the repercussions for all those involved are profound. We need to move the conversation for men away from the few chuckles every husband shares about their embarrassing experience providing their sample in a cup to one of depth.  There are IVF groups for couples, women, and infertile men but I have yet to find something for supportive partners. Has anyone found a resource or group they care to share?

-ANNIE

 

 

In case you missed it: Best of Infertility Awareness Week

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

EVERYONE!


Last week was National Infertility Awareness week, the internet was booming with awesome articles about infertility. It was excited to see folks engage in dialogue and feel a little less alone in all of this. Below is some of the best articles I read this past week. I hope you can share continue to spread the word outside of this designated week.

The Loneliness Of Infertility featured in Elle Magazine ->Absolutely beautiful piece- poetic.

The Pain of Infertility Never Goes away featured in Scary Mommy

Why Infertility Awareness Week Should Matter to Moms  featured in Romper

The Tale of the Clueless Resident

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

Everyone

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So there I am, laying with my feet in stir ups. My ultra sound tech had to run out of the room to double check something on my chart. The resident stood across the room silently,  I decided to fill the silence with noise.

I asked her how long she was working at the office and what her speciality was in. I explained my lining, the usual office chatter. She let me know she was going to work in high risk pregnancies and that she appreciated learning more about what she was seeing on the screen.

A few second of silent passed and then…“I wish I could be in your spot?” she said. “What do you mean?” I replied.

“You know, without kids.”

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Immediately my brain malfunctioned.  Is this really happening? Could she really be saying this? I started to believe I was in the twilight zone.

“I am here because my body is failing. I don’t think you want to be in my seat,” I say.

She continues, “Uh I am just so tired. I have 3 kids. I am just so fertile, I just couldn’t stop having them.”

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DEEP BREATHS, DEEP BREATHS

“Sounds like poor planning,” I say. “You did have the option of this thing called, birth control. You should have used it,” I state.

SILENCE//Subject switched.

When I left I began to process what had happened. Was this woman for real? Do I tell the doctor? ::BRAIN SPINNING::

I went home, started working and forgot about the whole thing until surgery. Upon waking up from the anesthesia I saw my doctor and decided to spill the beans. My husband said it went a little something like this:

“Doc, you know the resident? You need to have a chat with her.” I then went through the exchange. He was mortified.

Unfortunately I have heard stories like this from a number of women. Where on earth do people get the idea that saying they got pregnant easily or having kids is annoying would be comforting to women who are struggling to get pregnant? I can not comprehend where this break down in understanding occurs.

Now its a funny story, but WOWEEE at the time!

-ANNIE

We are all in this together

WHO THIS IS FOR:

EVERYONE!

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It is infertility awareness week, HOORAY! I had the honor of writing a guest blog on the oh so very popular website Neighborhood Parents Network. NPN is a Chicago based community that helps parents from all walks of life find couples who are in the same boat as them.

Check out the post HERE.

If you are in Chicago I highly recommend checking them out. They have groups for adoption, IVF, moms who work, moms who are lawyers, stay at home moms, and the list goes on. They are a wealth of knowledge that I suggest you tap into.

-Annie

Start Traveling: See ya later IVF

WHO THIS IS FOR:

Couples going through infertility treatments

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When you start infertility treatments you lose all control. Control of your body, mind, and schedule. For a long while this included travel however I bring to you a few full proof tips for taking back some control through travel. I hope these tips and tricks help bring a little bit of control back in your life and a bit of liberation.

Since January I have had 3 procedures, I have travelled out-of-state three times. I am leaving on a jet plane tonight and have another procedure a week from today. I also have a girls weekend planned in May. I am proof this is feasible!

WHEN TO SCHEDULE TRIPS

I am not talking big 2 week trips here. While we do have one planned for later in the year, if you do not want to delay treatment, big trips may be out of the picture for a bit. Three day trips are completely feasible.

  • Find out when your doctor does transfers.
    • My doctor does transfers on Thursdays. I schedule trips on Fridays if I know a transfer is in the works. I schedule trips after transfers Friday evenings through Mondays. With this schedule I do not have to worry about pushing myself too hard.
  • Give yourself wiggle room
    • Schedule 2 or so weeks in advanced, do not get ahead of yourself and do months ahead of time unless you are okay with potentially delaying a round.
  • Know your cycle
    • Once you get into the groove of treatments you tend to figure out when you will get your period, how many days on meds before transfer, etc. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

TRAVELING WITH MEDS

I traveled in February with ALL of my shots and here is what I learned, TSA could care less about having a bag full of needles. I took a ton of precautions and none of it mattered. BUT to be safe, here is what you need to do to travel with meds:

  • Make a list of all of your meds days in advanced so that you don’t have to worry and stress. Check them off the night before when you pack. Recheck the next morning.
  • Have your doctor write you a note stating its okay you have needles.
  • Tell the TSA agent you have medication.
  • PRE PLAN! Go through what you have days in advanced so that if you need  refills while you are away, you have them taken care of beforehand.
  • Put all of your meds in your carry on. You don’t want to leave the fate of your meds up to airline staff.

SCHEDULING YOUR PROCEDURES

If you are in my boat you presume you are having transfers for ever and ever. Thus, I know the drill at this point.

How to prep:

  • Tell your doctor your dates in advanced. Write to him/her in email to verify. Have coordinators verify. Stay on top of this.
  • If you are doing a transfer it may be as simple as just moving your check in appointments
    • For example my doctor likes to do lining check-ins on Fridays, instead I have moved them to Thursdays, no one seems to care.
  • You can manipulate your period if need be.
    • If things need to be delayed a week, this may be feasible. Of course consult your doctor. Last year I knew there was no way I could do a transfer when my body wanted, we were able to push things off by a week and it all worked out (the procedure happened… of course I didn’t get pregnant).

HOW TO PAY FOR YOUR TRIP

Let’s be real, you are not swimming in cash because well… you are reading this blog.

  • Sign up for a credit card with rewards (specifically travel)
    • We have a Southwest card, it has been awesome
  • Charge all of your IVF expenses to your account, before you know it you will have a  ton of points- turn this lemon into lemonade
    • IVF has paid for 6 round trip tickets and counting

I can’t live your life thinking, “when I am pregnant.” It was a hard pill to swallow but the reality of it is I  may never get there and so I must live my life with the understanding that I can’t plan to be pregnant. I do know that I will be a mom, but that may not happen from my own body. And thus, living life as if it were “normal” is all I can do.

-Annie