It’s been a while since I have written, truthfully every time I sat in front of the computer my nerves kept me from typing. I am 25 weeks pregnant with our baby boy…and I am scared it will somehow turn out to not be real.
Typing that thought brings me so much relief. <deep breath>
We’ve been through so much on this journey. The loss, the victories. Just like with anything in life, I hold on to the loss and it stays with me longer than the victories. This is the farthest I have ever gotten in a pregnancy, but I still struggle to immerse myself in happiness about it. I see some mothers walking around with their cute little bumps, embracing every moment….chatting away about birth plans and registries…but every time I am asked a question I hesitate. I hesitate because I don’t know if I should talk about it. I don’t know if I am allowed to be one of those mothers, blissfully engulfed in my pregnancy. I wear baggy clothes and try to hide because I don’t know if tomorrow something will happen, and I will lose my precious baby boy.
Don’t get me wrong…it’s not as if I am walking around in a perpetual state of morbid fear. There are more times than most where I feel perfectly happy, and I am excited about the life growing inside of me. It’s just that there is a large part of me that hesitates to share that joy with others because of my fear. In fact, it wasn’t until I could feel my baby boy move (and share those movements) that I felt comfortable(ish) talking to my husband about the future with our baby.
I know my fear is not unwarranted. When we were waiting for our blood test results after Henry’s abnormal nuchal translucency test we were both terrified. Terrified and devastated. The waiting game is so painful…and how could this be happening after everything we have been through?!
During that time my cousin Kelly gave me some great advice. She went through something similar with her twins, and she told me that I shouldn’t be afraid to connect with him. Did she know that I was? She told me to find quiet times during the day to talk to Henry while rubbing my belly…and I did. Now when I spend these quiet moments with my son, my fear is transformed for a little while and I feel like I am a part of something incredible and happy, and purely beautiful…no fear. When he moves or kicks and I feel him I can’t believe the peace that washes over me. Without even knowing it my face becomes one huge smile.
This led me to prenatal yoga (which I HIGHLY recommend) where I spend a little over an hour connecting with my baby while stretching out all of the body parts that are in a tizzy because of his growing body.
The fear is still there. It doesn’t help that I am addicted to shows like “Call the Midwife” where people suffer miscarriages late into their pregnancies. Change the channel, Sara! I think the fear will be there until I am holding him in my arms, but I also think that he knows about my feelings and does his best to make mommy feel better. There have been many times when the fear starts to creep back in, and I feel him moving around as if to say “Mommy…I am still here!”.
My goal moving forward is to EMBRACE my pregnancy, and live in the moment with my baby boy. After all, he is my miracle and what is happening inside my body is nothing short of amazing.
It’s been a while since I have written, and that is because I have been battling with 24-7 “Morning Sickness”!!! I could not be happier to be this miserable.
We got the amazing news on April 6th that our pregnancy test was positive. It was the looooooongest morning I can remember. Bloodwork at 6:30 am, and we didn’t get the call until almost noon.
Bryan had to work, and poor Chase was my only distraction…
When my nurse finally called and I saw the caller ID my heart began pounding, and for a second I didn’t know if I should answer….but I did!
Little did I know, this was just the beginning of an epic battle to stay positive (both mentally and on the stick!) I have been keeping a log of my symptoms, particularly the scary ones, so that I can have piece of mind if they ever happen again. For example:
(Get ready for a little TMI…)On Wednesday the 18th when I wiped in the bathroom the tissue was FILLED with pink blood. I. PANICKED. In my mind it was all happening again. After all, this was exactly how each miscarriage began….with blood in the bathroom. I tried flushing the toilet, forgetting that I was at school and YOU HAVE TO HOLD THE HANDLE FOREVER….the toilet ended up spinning/refusing to flush and there I was…staring at the pink tissue, screaming and cursing at the toilet.
When I finally got back to the classroom my coworker came in and knew something was wrong. I blurted out the words “there was blood when I wiped” and she knew…she had been through the same thing. I started to cry. Thank God for Nicole because she spoke to our Vice Principal and I was able to leave. I got to RMA within a half hour (hysterically sobbing the entire way), and they squeezed me in for and ultrasound to see what was going on. After all that anxiety, and all that sadness, I SAW AND HEARD THE HEARTBEAT! It was amazing, and it was the first time. My doctor took a good look but couldn’t find a reason for the bleeding. It happens sometimes, and it is more common than you realize. In fact, I know two people that are currently pregnant that experienced the same bleeding. I am still learning not to assume the worst.
This would happen once more, and there would and will be discharge and pains that makes me anxious, but we are 8 almost 9 weeks and I am happy to report that our little boy is still growing strong!
I have to shout out my husband again, because on Transfer Eve he came home with the most beautiful flowers. He designed them himself with blue and yellow flowers (meant to represent our embryos-2 boys and a girl!) and arranged them on the bed of his truck after rugby practice. Swoon!
Now let’s get to March 28th, one of the best and strangest days of our lives!
We woke up ready to go!! I made Bryan sing “What day is today? Today is Transfer Day!” (think Full House/mother’s day episode) for most of the day while we waited for our call with the exact timing of our transfer. There is A LOT of waiting involved with this process, and adjusting to that has been slightly difficult for me 🙂
We woke up at 6 for our morning progesterone shot as usual.
At this point I was barely able to walk because shot #2 the week before had created quite the lump on my back. We hadn’t done enough research to know that progesterone in oil needs to be warmed before administering, and that it takes a fair amount of muscle movement and/or massage after injection to disperse the medication. After quite a but of experimenting and reading up on how other people had success, we were able to develop a protocol that resulted in way less lasting pain after the shots. Here is the routine that worked best for us pre-transfer (no heating pad post-transfer):
Heating pad before the shot while Bryan warmed up the primed needle by squeezing it in his hand.
Standing (hurt much less for me) while keeping my weight on the leg that was opposite my injection site.
Using my buzzy just above the injection site. I chose not to ice the injection site before or after because I read that icing might cause the medication to pool and knot-exactly the issue we were trying to fix.
Immediate thumb massage on the injection site following the shot.
Swinging leg for 1 minute followed by 15-20 squats, then walking the dog (to get the juices flowing!)
Heating pad and massage with a tennis ball to work out the knots.
With our injections happening so early, we had a good amount of time before the procedure. I am eternally grateful for this, because during this time a long rest on my heating pad finally broke up the knot of medicine that was causing my back pain! It was such a strange sensation. I could feel every muscle on my right side (hiney muscles!) pulsating and then POOF! No more pain! Additionally, we were both able to shower with the no fragrance shampoo, conditioner, and body wash that we special ordered from amazon (because our instructions said to wear no fragrances). If you know how I have been throughout this journey you will know how much these veryyyyy specific instructions caused me anxiety. I didn’t even want Bryan to go to the bagel store after his shower because I didn’t want him to smell like food, worried that it would impact the embryo. Whoopsies 🙂
We got the call around 9:45 from Anita (she called me Miss Sara and I loved her), and we learned that our transfer would take place at 1:45! Then came more veryyyyy specific instructions (YEY-anxiety!). I was to arrive with 24 ounces of liquid. At 1:30 I should drink 8 ounces. You should have seen me measuring out water in mason jars. I originally wanted to have the 8 ounces separated so I wouldn’t “mess up”. Eventually that become too many jars so I went with two 12 ounce jars, knowing I would have to drink until the water hit 4 ounces.
After the great water fiasco we donned our matching shirts/packed all of our milestone cards, tons of extra socks, my mason jars of water and hit the road!
The ride to the Basking Ridge office wasn’t bad. I expected to be nervous, but we were literally bursting with joy. This was a BIG day for us. Something we had been working towards for so long. We arrived early enough to drink the first 8 ounces in the parking lot. I, true to form, waited until exactly 1:30 and started to drink down to the four ounce line. Bryan took a picture, and for a minute I lost my head. This is my reaction when I “came to” and thought I had consume MORE than 8 ounces….
BAHAHA we laughed about that picture for the rest of the day! In hindsight I realize I could be a bit more relaxed about this in particular. They simply want to fill your bladder, an extra ounce or two would have made zero difference. That said, you couldn’t have stopped me from worrying in that moment. Like I said, this was a BIG day for us.
When we arrived and checked-in we were sent to the exact same waiting room that we started in on retrieval day. THIS time I was able to capture a photo of the bat phone! It’s so crazy, you pick up the phone and they already know who you are. Everyone is so incredibly friendly. No matter who I talk to at any time (receptionist, nurse, the finance department…) they treat you like FAMILY. I will never be able to express what an amazing experience we have had with RMA. Thank you Michelle and Kate for the recommendation!
We had to wait a little while before a nurse came to get us. It was during this time that we shared the bulk of our laughter about my freaked out water drinking picture. I am chuckling right now, so ridiculous!
When we were brought back for the procedure everything looked so different. The office was quiet, dark, and incredibly relaxing. I leaned this was intentional because it was a transfer day. On our way back to our room we were able to see an isolette in the hallway. This is where they bring the embryo (in a petri dish) to your room. It looks like a spaceship, and the embryo looks sooooo tiny sitting inside! That embryo wasn’t ours, however, and so we went into our room to relax.
Inside our room there was lovely wallpaper, and spa style relaxation music playing. After signing our release forms, our acupuncturist came in for the pre-transfer session. To say that I was relaxed is an understatement. I HIGHLY recommend acupuncture for anyone going through fertility treatments, ESPECIALLY on transfer day. I was so relaxed, in fact, that I didn’t notice how odd my acupuncturist was (but I would!). What I do remember was that she called us hipsters because of my mason jars, and likely Bryan’s beard.
After acupuncture a nurse came back in to scan my bladder and make sure it was full enough for the procedure. I have heard a lot of people that were really uncomfortable with the full bladder business, but it didn’t bother me at all. Honestly, I didn’t even notice. I wonder if that is due to so many years teaching and holding my pee! My bladder was full and it was TIME!
Next, the transfer team came in-the doctor, embryologist, and nurse. Dr. Doherty was excited to see us, and mentioned that it was a “Freehold Reunion”. This made my heart smile because I love it when people remember us, makes you feel like you are part of a family (LOVE RMA!). We showed everyone our T-shirts and my socks, and they all loved the gear (another heart smile). We got to see the embryo in his petri dish projected onto a large screen, and were given a picture of him to take home. HIM!! I said he looked like a blob, and Dr. Doherty said he was a beautiful blob! (Heart BURSTING!)
The transfer itself was painless. The only thing I felt was the speculum (just like a pap smear) and the slight embarrassment of having my bits wide open to the medical professionals in the room. Dr. Doherty and the nurses joked that I better get used to it because that would be the position I would be in during childbirth (silent scream of excitement!). We got to watch the entire procedure on the ultrasound camera. It was AMAZING. The little guy just slid right in, and Dr. Doherty said the most magical words we had every heard “Transfers don’t get any better than that!”.
It’s funny because I immediately felt different. I was so warm, and so happy. The nurse gave me permission to pee, but honestly I was perfectly content just laying there basking in our joy! After emptying my bladder the acupuncturist came back in and this is where things got strange. When she entered the room she immediately said “So, what’s wrong with you guys?” Bryan and I sat there stunned, and finally I responded with “what do you mean?” She said she hadn’t read our chart, and so I gave her a brief run down of our infertility journey. Then she says, and I am not EVEN joking “you guys are probably related…like distant second cousins…it happens all the time.” GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! At this point, Bryan and I both stopped talking. Luckily I was so relaxed by the acupuncture itself that it hadn’t occurred to me that she was WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE! We still talk about whether or not we should let the practice know. If we were a more sensitive couple, she could have really caused some emotional damage.
Anywhoo.. the transfer was complete and I was GLOWING! I don’t know if it was the acupuncture or the transfer, but I really felt different.
On the way out of the office we stopped for a photo-op to document the fact that we had an EMBIE ON BOARD!
Our little boy was in my uterus, and we knew he would fight to stay there! Equipped with my fluffiest winter boots (warm feet, warm uterus!) we made our way to the car. Next stop…McDonalds french fries (the salt helps with implantation!) and home to our first born boy to celebrate!
Ok, so now that I have unleashed the sadness of what was a very dark moment in our lives, it is time to get excited!
Bryan and I received the AMAZING news on March 2nd that ALL THREE of our embryos are normal and recommended for transfer! THEY SURVIVED GENETIC TESTING! My nurse Samantha called us early in the morning to let us know. I am so grateful for our team of doctors and nurses, they really go above and beyond for us.
She also left word in the voicemail that she knew the gender of all three embryos, and could give us that information if we wanted. It was so odd because without even thinking about it we both agreed we wanted to know. I always thought I would grapple with a choice like that a little more. It seemed right to know. We have, drumroll….
TWO BOYS AND A GIRL! I teared up when we got the news. How amazing is science? We know that our embryos are normal, and we know what gender they are. This process blows my mind every single day.
We then needed to wait until the insurance company gave us authorization to move forward with the transfer cycle. This didn’t happen for another week, and while it was annoying at first I was ultimately glad that my body was able to calm down a bit longer following the retrieval. You see, our first ultrasound after the retrieval showed cysts (which are apparently normal, despite our complete shock/horror/worry at hearing “cysts”) that were still measuring in the 20’s and so I had a lot of calming down to do! In the meantime they put me on birth control to control my cycle. None of this was going to bother me, we had THREE HEALTHY embryos!!
Once we got the approval from insurance (March 9th) I stopped taking birth control. My nurse warned me that I would bleed a little…for some reason I always get a monster period when I stop taking the birth control. Bring on the diapers, opps I mean pads! We ordered the meds right after getting authorization, and they arrived on the 13th.
This delivery was both more and less intimidating than all of our previous meds. All I needed to do for the first week or so was take Estrogen pills, but we also got our gigantor needles, the progesterone, and a BUNCH of suppositories. I am not kidding, there are like 3 boxes….
My doctor usually gives me notes step by step (instead of front loading information) and so Bryan and I had a dandy old time trying to figure out what all the suppositories were for. The first day of morning monitoring after taking the pills my estrogen levels were rising, and the uterine lining was thickening nicely (thank you pills). My doctor said I “should” be fine, but she was definitely not 100% sure my lining would be thick enough by our scheduled transfer date.
After this appointment I went a little IVF crazy, reading blogs…
(thank you Nicole) and gathering information about foods that help your uterine lining thicken. We bought pomegranate juice, brazil nuts, red raspberry leaf tea, and tons of kale which I have been eating pretty routinely. I don’t know if its a bunch of malarky but when we went back for monitoring 5 days later my doctor said my uterine lining looked BEAUTIFUL, and we got the go ahead for our transfer on MARCH 28th!!!
That appointment was this past Wednesday (the 21st of March). Today (Friday March 23rd) we started the progesterone injections. I was EXTREMELY nervous about this injection because Bryan has to stab me with the inch and a half needle…the needle you always hear about when you begin IVF. I was so nervous, in fact, that I barely slept last night before. The injection needs to occur every morning between 6 and 8am (BUT NOT BEFORE 6!). This morning Bryan watched all the instructional videos, and I set the mood with our milestone cards and a Tommy Bahama pineapple candle I found yesterday during my “snow day” off.
I also had my trusty buzzy in hand to take the sting away. Truth be told, it wasn’t that bad! Definitely hurt less than the menopure. It wasn’t pleasant, don’t get me wrong, but it certainly wasn’t the horror I was anticipating when looking at the length of that needle!
As I sit writing this blog, and the injection site on my bum bum hits the chair, there is a soreness. It feels like a rugby injury, like an area where some biatch kicked you. All in all, I feel like a million bucks right now.
Transfer day is Wednesday…I took Wednesday and Thursday off from work. Luckily our sprint break starts that week and school is closed Friday. I know it’s crazy because this is super important, but I HATE being away from school and my kiddos. The spring break factor takes away so much of that stress and guilt.
It is GO TIME my friends. By this time next week I will have a little Shanahan Embie on board!!!
#JOY in the process
#I know you aren’t supposed to have spaces in hashtags