FET #3: Beta #3 

Today is a good day. We got back our results this afternoon and our beta did double since Wednesday. Thank God! 

  • Monday-805 HCG, Progesterone 40
  • Wednesday-2504
  • Friday-5134, Progesterone 37

Yesterday & today I had some dark brown spotting (NO cramps at all thankfully).  I know brown is old blood, so I was a little bit more at ease than when I have had bright red blood in past pregnancies. I know bleeds can be totally normal in pregnancy, but with a history of recurrent pregnancy loss its hard to keep that in mind. So, of course I began to think the worst last night. I prepared as much as I could to hear that it was all over & our numbers had dropped when they called today. Its happened before. I also requested to have my progesterone drawn with my beta to make sure it wasnt below what it should be, as I know this can cause a bleed.  

I really couldnt believe it when they called & said all is progressing as it should still. The brown blood is not a sign of harm. So incredibly grateful for this. Now the 2 week wait for the heartbeat or heartbeats begins. The waits are never ending as you all know. Praying for a really uneventful 2 weeks until then!! 

On a different note, I have to share with you some of my 3rd grade students handmade animal projects because they came out delightful & really put the cherry on top of my day! So proud of them…



FET #3: 7dp6dt

Its been exactly 1 week since we transferred Itty & Bitty back to their home ((hopefully)) until this winter. At times the wait has been tough, at other times not so bad. Going back to work has helped take my mind off things a bit during the days, and at night, by the time we read, eat, shower, & meditate its time for bed. Ive been going pretty earlyyyy. 

Any possible symptoms?

Not sleeping well. Waking up about 1 am and staying up till 2 or so every night this week. Really crazy dreams too. Some quick, sharp pains in my uterus. I had a tiny bit of spotting this morning, which Im praying is a good sign. Thats all I can report in this area. Oh wait, def some moodiness lol. But that of course could be all the meds. 

Our blood test is only a few days away. If it comes back positive, we will have 2 more blood tests following it. Of course, the HCG in my sysytem needs to double each test in order for us to have a viable pregnancy. Our first IVF transfer we had dropping betas, so we know right away it wasnt going to work out. For our other 2 transfers, our betas have risen accordingly. It was only after that that we experienced loss. So as you can see, the road ahead is long, assuming it worked. 

But, we are taking things 1 day at a time, and looking at this like its our first time ever. Trying to forget the past as much as humanly possible. I really feel at peace, and am staying close in prayer to God, celebrating how far we have come. This card was in my 2 week wait set and I just loved it…

  

Our Story as Featured on Rachel McGrath’s blog, “Finding the Rainbow”

When author Rachel McGrath asked us to share our infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss story on her blog, I was honored!

Little did I know how difficult it would be for me to put it into words all at once.  I am used to writing bits and pieces of our story over time, not the whole thing in 1 piece.  

Needless to say, I shed some major tears when I wrote it!

Here is Our Story (as featured on Rachel’s site, “Finding the Rainbow”) and shown below.


After my high school sweetheart and I finally tied the knot in 2007, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted children, and about a year later, I went off the pill. A few months later, I went to my annual OB appointment and asked her what we could do to make it happen. She made it sound really simple… ‘go home, do it on days 12-16 of my cycle, and voila!’ I should be pregnant by my next annual appointment. When my annual appointment rolled around again, and I still wasn’t pregnant, she looked a little puzzled. We had followed all of her directions, so why weren’t we pregnant yet?

She decided to do some simple blood tests, all of them came back picture perfect. Her next idea was to get a semen sample from my husband. I will never forget the day she called me with the results because that was the day our lives completely changed. His count was extremely low; his motility was low, among many other things. By the end of our conversation, she had referred us to a fertility specialist, or Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE).

About two years into our marriage we found ourselves at our first RE appointment. They did another sperm sample on my husband to be sure it wasn’t some “fluke.” It wasn’t a fluke at all; it came back even worse than it had the first time. That’s when we were told, “Your chances of conceiving on your own, without IVF with ICSI are about 1%.” We at least wanted to try IUI first.

So, we did two IUI rounds and both failed. By the third year of our marriage, we decided to take a break from the RE and see a Urologist. The Urologist found that my husband had a pretty large Varicocele vein and suggested we do a Varicolele repair in hopes of improving his count.

Six months after his surgery, we went in for another sperm sample. No improvement. Another year later, still no improvement. We decided at that point to find a new RE, who again reminded us of the dreaded words we had heard so clearly before, “you have about a 1% chance of conceiving on your own without IVF with ICSI.” Finally, we took the plunge and decided to move forward with this option.

The RE did a myriad of tests on us – genetic testing, HSG’s, SIS’s, blood panels, etc. All of this to make sure we were “cleared” for moving forward with IVF. We passed all of them with flying colors. In fact, my husband’s sperm count on the day of our egg retrieval even increased! It had been a year and a half since his surgery and although still low, it had increased by about five million. Our first IVF cycle was what the RE’s called “textbook perfect.” I was very responsive and they retrieved eighteen mature eggs, and eight of them fertilized via ICSI to day six blasts. The embryos were graded extremely high- three 6AA’s, three 6AB’s, and two 6AC’s. This being said, we chose to transfer only the one 6AA embryo back into my uterus.

About a week later, in the spring of 2014, we finally saw those two pink lines we had been waiting now five long years for. I cannot begin to tell you the feelings we experienced at that moment. My first beta came back at sixty which seemed low, but the nurse reassured me “as long as it doubles the next time, it is fine.” Well, the second beta came back at thirty-two! The joy we had been so filled with and waited so long for had been stolen from us within a week. My betas continued to fluctuate up and down for an entire month, forcing a D & C. For almost five weeks straight, I endured the torture of getting my blood drawn almost every other day before I rushed to make it to work on time. The D & C results came back inconclusive as to whether or not the products of conception were genetically normal. In other words, we had no idea why we miscarried an embryo of such high grade.Angela's story

We had seven frozen embryos left, and we scheduled the first FET around five months after that first miscarriage. This time, my body didn’t react as well and my lining was pretty thin a week before transfer. My RE said we had a 50/50 chance of it working with my lining as it was, and that it was up to us if we wanted to move forward with the transfer or cancel the cycle. Of course, we wanted to move forward! We transferred two embryos this time. Low and behold, a week later, two pink lines again!

We were a little nervous to get too excited after what happened with our betas last time. So we thought “OK, if we can just make it through the three betas, we will be good!” Our first beta came back at 305. Twin numbers! The second at 675, and the third at 1569. The doubling rate was over 100%! We set up the appointment for our first ultrasound. However, a few short days after my 3rd beta, I started cramping and bleeding pretty bad and ended up in Emergency. I was hooked up to an IV and the blood work and ultrasounds began. I had miscarried again.

We were completely heartbroken. We started to wonder if miscarrying was going to continue happening to us. We were reassured though that the chances of us miscarrying three times in a row were only 1%.

At this point, we had five frozen embryos remaining. We didn’t take much time off before starting next cycle; waiting only 2 months in between. My RE wanted to increase my estrogen intake and the length of the cycle to ensure my lining thickened as it was supposed to. I started doing yoga and acupuncture around the clock. My lining was measured at 11mm by transfer time, the thickest it had ever been!

We transferred two embryos again. And on Christmas Eve 2014 (our first babies due date), I tested super early and got my BFP. But this time once we saw the positive, we were more worried than ever before. Our innocent way of thinking had been stolen. We knew this positive didn’t guarantee anything, and neither did the upcoming betas. All we wanted was to get to that first ultrasound and see the heartbeat(s)!

All three of our betas all came back super high—almost tripling. I got a fourth blood test at around six weeks just to make sure it hadn’t dropped and it was over 20,000 already. I knew I was carrying twins then. We made it to the first ultrasound and saw two sacs and two heartbeats. The sweetest thing we ever did see! My RE wanted to do weekly ultrasounds up until ten weeks, and then release me to my OB. Our next ultrasound at 7w4d showed one of the twins was slightly behind and the heartbeat slower than it should have been, however the other twin was measuring exactly as it should and its heart rate was spot on. At our 8w4d appointment, the smaller twin had vanished, but the other one was doing great still and actually looked like a real baby this week!

The day I turned nine weeks, I went out and bought some maternity clothes, as my bump was starting to shine through my regular clothes. We were feeling really great because after you see a healthy heartbeat, the chance of miscarriage itself is only 5%. We had seen a healthy heartbeat now four weeks in a row! Ironically, my 9w4d appointment was the first one I went to alone. Usually when the ultrasound technician puts in the probe, it only takes a second or two for her to turn the screen and show you’re your sweet baby. Not today. It was dead silence for almost two minutes. Finally she said, “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat today.” Those words I will never forget.

I was diagnosed with a “missed miscarriage” and underwent a D & C at the hospital two days after the ultrasound. It was truly like a nightmare and I couldn’t believe it was really happening. I was supposed to be ten weeks pregnant! We were supposed to be announcing to the world that our baby would be arriving in six months. I can’t even put into words the bitterness and wrath I felt towards the world. I questioned my faith, my body, doctors, infertility treatments, everything!

The results from our D & C came back that we would have been having a sweet baby boy and he was genetically healthy; 46XY, just as he should be. We decided to name him Isaiah William.

Once my HCG levels finally went down two long months after the loss, I underwent a procedure that I had never had before-a Hysteroscopy to biopsy my uterus and examine it with a camera. This procedure found that I had a “mass” growing inside my uterine cavity. The mass never showed up on my three pre-transfer SIS’s or ultrasounds throughout any of our cycles. Questions began to race through my mind. Did it cause all of our losses? Just this loss? Or does it not have anything to do with any of the losses? There were so many unanswered questions. My RE suggested that there was an 85% chance it caused our third loss. By now, I had lost all faith in statistics anyway.

We scheduled an operation to remove the mass. The pathology report determined that the mass removed was a sub mucosal fibroid, which can indeed cause a loss to occur. A month after my operation, we did another hysteroscopy to make sure my uterus was completely clear, and it was. We were officially labeled not only as infertile, but as recurrent miscarriers, or as the medical world likes to call it, “habitual aborters.”

It has now been five months since we lost Isaiah & his twin, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of where my pregnancy would be. I also think about how our first baby would now be six months old, and our first set of twins would have been one month old.

Every day is a new day of healing for us. We have found peace knowing our babies are in heaven and we will see them again one day. I have gone to grief counseling. I now understand that I may never have all the answers and that I don’t need to. I resigned from my job to take some time to get back to the old me. I have restored my faith with the big guy upstairs. I have become an advocate for infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss through various social media outlets.

But most importantly, above all else, we still have hope. We haven’t given up the fight. The way I look at it is we have lost three battles, but that the war isn’t over. We will win! I am confident that one of the remaining three embryos we have left will one day be a part of our family here on Earth!

Where’s My Happy Ending???

Warning: This post might be a little negative Nelly.  I try to keep it upbeat, but lets be real, sometimes it’s just not possible.

Lately, I have been pitying myself.  I was doing really great, and then BAM! Pity party time. Maybe it’s all the success stories coming in. Don’t get me wrong, I love success stories, because they give me hope…without them, what do you have to look forward to? But at the same time, one comes to a point where they have to ask, “WHERE’S MY HAPPY ENDING?” 

Yea, yea, I get that a happy ending is what you make it out to be.  But in our minds, right now, our happy ending is achieving our family.  And ideally, sooner than later.  I personally think we have waited long enough, but the big man upstairs must disagree with me.  Right now, we are in total “limbo” mode as to what is even going on with our clinic, another FET, etc. We have no set plan of action.  Time just keeps on.  And as it does, we are bombarded with the announcements of others pregnancies, deliveries, IUI, IVF, and FET cycles gearing up.  Shoot, most of our friends are going on having their 2nd, 3rd, even 4th kid. And here we are, still dying just for 1. 1 pregnancy that can make it full term and yield a healthy baby.  Just 1.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts about couples who tried for years upon years to conceive, went on to do IUI’s that failed, then finally did IVF, and got their miracle baby on the first try.  In other words, they got their “happy ending.”  I see less and less of the stories of couples who are in our shoes getting their happy ending.  And to be honest, it is hard not to get discouraged.  Where are all the happy endings of those who have tried on their own for many years, failed IUI’s, and then recurrently miscarried off IVF’s?  If you are reading this, and it’s you, please share!

This morning, we got this….


That’s right, a BFN.  Stark white.  I tested on day 26 of my cycle, so technically I am 2 days early.  That doesn’t matter though.  I know I’m not pregnant.  I have been pregnant before, and thus, I know what it feels like.  Plus, I have studied HCG levels enough to know that I should have at least 25ml in my system by now to show even the faintest line on a test using fresh morning urine. Negative.

We did the deed as we should, I ovulated as I should, and a few days after ovulation, I even felt dizzy! Dizziness is a tell tale sign for me that I am pregnant early on (like during implantation early on).  And, for one split second, I thought it actually could have worked.  My husband told me he thought I was pregnant for sure.  What a great Fathers Day/Bday present that would have been for him!

It’s been awhile since we have felt the monthly highs and lows of TTC at home, praying day in and day out that Aunt Flow will take a long vacation.  Can I tell you how quickly I am reminded how much I don’t miss it?  Anyone who has played this game knows exactly what I am talking about.  Timed intercourse. Examining CM. Tracking your body temperature. Thinking this month is THE month, watching everything you eat, analyzing every little twinge you feel, dreaming of what a miracle it would be if this wish could just come true.  Imagining what it would be like after all we have been through to just have it happen on our own at home, just like that?  Well, not this time.  Who were we kidding? There will be no happy ending for us yet again this month.

Life After Loss

I have been pondering a question for quite some time now…Is there ever such a thing as officially being in the “safe zone” when pregnant? A place far, far away from the throes of miscarriage? A place where you no longer worry about losing the life inside of you?

Each one of our losses has been entirely different from the last. Before our first loss, we honestly didn’t even think of miscarrying once we FINALLY became pregnant via IVF.  All we wanted was to

Get those 2 pink lines

We got those 2 lines, but not for long. Unfortunately, we miscarried. In all actuality, we pretty much lost that pregnancy before it even began.  We had low, slowly rising HCG levels to begin with. So when we moved forward to our 2nd IVF go round, our mindset was, “If our HCG levels come back decent, and at least double every 48 hours, then this pregnancy will be surely be safe.”

Get high, quickly rising betas

All of our numbers came back beautifully with IVF pregnancy #2- 301, 776,1800, 4300. Progesterone over 70.  The HCG levels were not only doubling, they were increasing by over 100%.  We were ecstastic. However, the day after my beta hit its highest, we miscarried. We still to this day don’t really know why.  We were under the impression that HCG increasing as ours did indicated a pregnancy progressing as it should. Wrong. 

Moving forward to IVF #3, we realized that high, rising levels would not mean much to us if we fell pregnant again; we had been so naive to think that these alone guarantee a pregnancy progressing.  We soon remembered that there are no guarantees in this ugly IF and RPL war. 

Get to the first ultrasound 

Well, pregnancy number 3 brought those high, rising HCG & progesterone levels just as #2 did, but these didn’t reassure us as they had before. We were smarter now. We had learned our lesson; we wanted more.  This time we felt the ultrasound would be the only possible reassurance that we were in the so-called “safe zone,” especially after I started bleeding very early on with pregnancy #3. Seeing that blood was just a sick reminder of loss #2.

We went in for our first ultrasound early due to the bleeding, & it gave us the relief we were searching for for so long- heartbeats. Not one, but two. Followed by the words which still ring ever so clearly, “the chances of miscarriage at this stage, after seeing a healthy heartbeat & correct measurements are only 5%, and the chances of you miscarrying 3 times in a row, only 1%.”  This being said, surely we had to be safe now, we had never made it this far!  God forbid, one of the babies didnt make it, surely the other one would. Wrong. 

We miscarried 3 weeks after that first ultrasound, after seeing our babies growing week after week. What are the chances right? Four ultrasounds later, we fell into the dreaded, minuscule 1% of the population.  This being said, even ultrasounds could no longer provide a “safe zone” for us. At just shy of 10 weeks pregnant, almost ready to announce our pregnancy to the world, it was over.  

Since this late first trimester loss, I have met way too many women who have miscarried at 14 weeks, 16 weeks, 20 weeks, even 25 weeks or later, losing their beautiful babies far too soon.  Most of them I have met right here on this blog.  These are some of the strongest women I know. 

Getting to bring our baby home

That is the only safe zone we see.  There is no such thing as being in a “pregnancy safe zone” in our eyes. Thanks to our unfortunate experiences, we are smarter now.  Maybe even a little too smart because of what we have endured & seen others endure. While I truly wish it wasn’t this way, it is. 

However, for now, we choose to make the best of what we have been dealt.  Fear can be crippling if you allow it to be. And although we are firm believers in God & the peace he gives, it still scares us to death to think of the possibility of losing pregnancy #4 one day.  All we can do is continue to take it to him in prayer as we always do. 

 

New Arrivals!

The hubs & I made an online purchase last week & it just arrived…. Yep, that’s right…150 FDA approved Pregnancy tests, & 150 FDA approved Ovulation tests (cups included) all for the mere price of just $35.  The pregnancy tests will pick up on an HCG level of 25, which is ideal.  Buying in bulk sure beats buying the Clear Blue and First Response tests that have a measly 2 or 3 tests for $20 (or more).  Being an infertile and a recurrent miscarrier, I knew there had to be a better way in regards to buying these expensive tests.  I am pleased to say I finally found it! The reviews for these specific tests were all 5 stars, too, so I am hoping they will be good to us. 

You might be wondering why we are buying all of these tests right now anyways.  Since we know that we will not be moving forward with another FET anytime soon, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to take matters into our own hands for the time being. Aunt Flow will be in town early next week, and my follow up Hysteroscopy is just days later.  This means we will be kissing those birth control pills good riddance! 2 months of crazy pills is enough for me.

We will do our first official lining check in mid-June, to see how my endometrium is healing.  Up until the check, I plan to pee on one of those ovulation strips every day, twice a day, at that.  I know it probably sounds crazy. What’s even crazier is that I am not peeing on them with the intention of getting pregnant (not in June anyways).  We want my uterus to be healed completely before that happens. 

Why so much testing then? It’s been so long since my body has done anything on its own, that I honestly don’t know what it will do.  I want to see that I can ovulate normally still, and that my cycles are regular.  I plan to use the ovulation tests again throughout July, up until my lining check.  Who knows, maybe even in August. Remember, there are 150 of them, so I’m not being stingy.  

Being healthy again has become our first priority right now. The main reason we even wanted a zillion pregnancy tests is because once we finally get pregnant one day (we pray), we can test to our hearts desire without spending a fortune! I am a serial tester.  Sad, but true.  Once I get a positive, I will test everyday, comparing HCG lines, draining our bank account (like IVF hasn’t already). Plus, we got a better deal for a ovulation/pregnancy combo. 

Anyways, please keep us in your thoughts & prayers as my body is on its way to healing…Finally!

We Earned the Title

After the genetic testing came back normal, we decided we would move forward with a hysteroscopy, or HS of my uterus.  In the past, we had done diagnostic tests on my uterus, such as the HSG, and SIS, all of which came back normal.  A hysteroscopy is done between days 6-9 of your cycle, and sees things that these other two tests can’t pick up on.

There are 2 types of hysteroscopy-diagnostic and operative.  You are probably wondering why we waited this long to do the hysteroscopy, right? Well, doctors do not like to do this test until you are classified as a, “habitual aborter,” or “recurrent miscarrier.”  And after 3 losses, we had officially earned the title.

We will be starting with the diagnostic in-office hysteroscopy.  For this, I will receive a “twilight” anesthesia. From what we have been told, the doctor inserts a tiny camera into the uterus.  The camera sees things like uterine abnormalities, scar tissue, polyps, fibroids, etc.  My doctor also recommended we do a biopsy of my uterus to test for any (undetectable by pap and/or blood) low-grade infections that could be causing me to miscarry.

If she was to see a major problem during the diagnostic hysteroscopy, she will not remove or fix it then since I would only be in a twilight state.  Instead, we will schedule the operative hysteroscopy for the following month, where I will undergo general anesthesia at the hospital (aka place of death).

We were ready to do this procedure weeks ago, but we couldn’t until my beta reached 0, or I got my first period.  Just another waiting game in the lives of an infertile couple.  I hadn’t had a period since November.  In fact, in the past year, I had only had 6 periods due to my on and off again pregnant state of living.

I got my beta drawn every week after the d & c, for 8 weeks.  Here is the timeline of how it dropped:

  • Day of miscarriage-over 100,000
  • 1 week post- 33,500
  • 2 weeks post- 3,000
  • 3 weeks post-300
  • 4 weeks post-36
  • 5 weeks post-15
  • 6 weeks post-7 (weird brownish spotting this week, thought it was my period, but it wasn’t)
  • 7 weeks post-4
  • 8 weeks post-0!

So here we are.  This brings us to the month of March, the present time.  It has now been 8 weeks since we lost our little angels. Aunt Flow finally came just 2 days ago, bringing her vengeance.  I don’t know how I feel about my level being back to 0, or the fact that my period finally came.  Yes, many people say it’s good, and I get that.  Obviously, it’s over and things must go back to normal.  But, at the same time it is all more confirmation of what was lost.

This being said, getting my period was an extremely rough day.  This wasn’t part of the plan a few months ago.  I knew if we were still pregnant, we would be getting our anatomy scan done this very week, confirming if we were having a little girl or boy.  The scan was going to be followed by a small gender reveal celebration with our family, who will be arriving in town this week.  Instead, this week we will be getting a hysteroscopy done to find out what is wrong with me.  Or so we hope.

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