It’s hard to believe that I started this journey just before turning 39… Forty-one… I celebrated my birthday last month and I am now officially at the two year mark of trying this Single Mom by Choice thingie. I’ve discovered so much… about the female body (who knew we had more than one egg growing a month?!). About fertility (it’s an absolute lottery). About resilience (where there is a will, there is a way). About humanity (how some people are worst off, how some give up their own genetics for strangers, how supportive you all can be). About adoption (embryo adoption is a thing!). About me!
Things have changed too though – I am no longer single. I now have a 3 bedroom house and I am considering fostering. However, one has to have mourned their fertility in order to qualify as a foster parent with the Banque Mixte du Quebec and I am not there. I still have four embryos and I am excited by the idea that at least one will grow in my belly. I find it sad that I can’t do both, but I get it. Both are so demanding. One thing at a time, Kim! That I have learned! Patience oh tall one! Patience! I’ve become so patient throughout this journey…
** Hats off to any lady going through fertility treatments – you are a tough cookie with the patience of a saint!
Tic toc… tic toc… This whole process is about waiting. Waiting for the perfect egg, perfect lining, perfect protocol, perfect timing… waiting for everything to be perfect only to realize that nothing really is. You’ll only have the best egg that month can produce and the best lining you can muster in a cycle with or without the combo of anything from viagra, estrogen, pills, patches, injections, suppositories, supplements, acupuncture, blood draws for platelet rich plasma injections, fertility yoga and massages – either one at a time, all at once or none at all! You try just about anything. And then you wait… you wait for day 1 of your cycle hoping that this month is the month.
Unless you are in it, you don’t realize that your fertility doctor’s office can become your second home; a second family. Your doctor sees your privates as much or more than your partner does!! Four to five doctor visits with ultrasounds within a 10-14 day span. If it’s a good month, you try a transfer (you may have had to go thru a retrieval prior, which means more ultrasounds). If it’s not a good month, you wait… You wait for Aunt Flo to make an appearance, which marks Day 1 of your new cycle and you are back in the saddle on day two for that ultrasound! It’s a vicious circle. Getting pregnant or giving up are the only ways out! Isn’t that nice – just extra pressure to get pregnant?! Haha
The wait is definitely the most brutal part of the treatment. I can take any amount of needles and pills, pokes and blood tests, but the wait slowly burns me out.
When you go through an egg retrieval procedure, you wait to find out how many eggs were collected, then wait to know how many fertilized, how many survived day 3 and how many made it to day 5.
Then you wait for your transfer date. Post transfer, you have the dreaded two week wait (TWW) during which you torture yourself with trying to read into every symptoms or lack of – “my boobs hurt yesterday but they’ve stopped hurting now”, “I pee more”, “I pee less”, “I have cramps”… and you worry yourself crazy about the embryo sticking. Some tries, I’ve been able to control my madness and only take ONE home pregnancy test before the BETA (day on which the doctor draws blood to see your HCG levels – a hormone only produced when pregnant). Other times, I’ve been so anxious I tested EVERY DAY and compared the lines to see if they were darker than the previous (see photo – the subtleties can hurt your eyes!). The wait makes you worry about everything. You find yourself asking Google all the questions you don’t feel like bugging your doctor with – “implantation foods”, “exercising after implantation”, “shall I test morning or night (or both)?”, “HCG levels week 4”, “early pregnancy symptoms”, “is a lack of symptoms bad?”, “symptoms of miscarriage”, “what is a chemical pregnancy”, “should the lines on the test get darker”… after reading all the answers to all your questions on google, you repeat the exercise in community chat rooms where thousands of other women have been trying to conceive and have the same worries!! It’s torture!!! But it’s also calming and helpful… the wait is easier when you busy your mind!!
Do we ever stop waiting?! Or worrying for that matter!? Or does the worry just extend to the next milestone?
Argh! I’ve waited almost a year since my last failed IVF attempt, but time flew by with all the house renos and the boy! In May, I started feeling like everything was settled enough to start thinking about trying again. I was trying the new platelet rich plasma transfers and my lining seemed to respond. I had a lining of 6.7mm that month, but within a day ovulated and lost that cycle. The next cycle, we tried to control my ovulation with estrogen pills and saw a so-so lining so we didn’t go ahead… then the month of August came along and my doctor gave me the impression that we had tried just about everything. That was a tad hard to swallow. We’ve tried everything and still no baby… I did a natural cycle without any drugs and got a lining of only 5.4mm. “What do you want to do?” – I answered “Make a baby”! So that’s what we did.
Since my lining was not so thick – but tri-linear (which is a good thing) – I asked the doctor to use the underdog embryo. The weakest of the four I had left. If it didn’t work, I still had 3 good embryos and if it works – everyone loves a good underdog story!
August 23rd 2019 – Transfer day of a 5 day embryo
10 days later, I peed on a stick to see only a faint line. I didn’t have much hope except for the fact that it was Labour Day (how perfect!) and the one year anniversary of my bf and I. Nurse Bonnie called with the results. Pregnant!!! However (god I hate howevers), my beta results were 18. “We are not overly upset about this, test again in 2 days”. Not overly upset, but not overly happy either… a result of 5 is positive. A result of 25 is a pregnancy. A result between 6 and 24 is this grey zone where you either have a slow implanter or you are going through an early miscarriage (chemical pregnancy). My first pregnancy (October 2018) ended when I got a beta result of 14. I didn’t feel quite confident about this 18, but I was scheduled for a second test, so that was a new milestone. I went to light a couple of candles at the Oratory with the boyfriend and we talked baby names over brunch. I wanted to enjoy the moment despite the worry.
Two long days of hoping and waiting… I went for my second blood draw and waited… they say that as long as the number doubles, you are good!
Beta #2: 28
I didn’t double… but my friend Google told me that a 60% increase was ok and Nurse Bonnie confirmed that by asking me to take another blood test 5 days later. She didn’t seem too enthusiastic though – nor was Google – but I did read that 15% of low HCG levels end up in healthy pregnancies and live births. I have an underdog in my belly! 15% is my jam!! We’ve got this Baby E and me (the embryo looked like a brain on transfer day – E for Einstein, but also for Enfin!!!!!).
I had to emcee an event that night and nausea took over! I was presented with a gorgeous 5 course meal, there was a mini Moët champagne bottle distributor, candy bar and more, but all I could muster was a slice of bread and some ginger ale. Come on! To make matters worst, I was throwing up in between stage presentations in the celebrity guest’s bathroom!! If that’s not pregnancy, it’s sure a good story!
I took another pregnancy test the next day and it was even darker!! The day after and 3 days later too! Woah! I’m really pregnant!
5 weeks and 1 day today… a little heart starts to grow this week! Man it’s exciting but it’s also scary because today is my third beta test… It actually just happened. And I am sitting here waiting. Waiting, analyzing the lines on my pee sticks to see if they are darker or not, writing this blog to distract myself. Waiting to see if baby E stuck… come on baby E. We are so excited to have you part of our lives!
18 hours and 23 minutes later…
This whole process sucks. I left work early because I got my results. The doctor hasn’t called me yet but I asked the lab to email me the results and there it is. In black and white… 25.2. My HCG levels actually have gone down. That means the the fetus has stopped developing and I am going through my second early miscarriage, or as they call it, chemical pregnancy. This is so unfair… and seriously, I’m starting to think that it’s time to let go of this dream of having a baby. I’ve just been punched in the stomach. Heart torn out. And all I will be left with is more questions because we will never know why the embryo didn’t stick.
Quit while you are still ahead yet never give up. Which one do you go for? In a moment like this, I’m just not sure. Do I mourn my fertility and try to adopt? I still have 3 embryos… am I strong enough to go through this again? Can I afford it? Can I get through the heartbreak… the hope… the wait?!
Ironically, only time will tell… so I shall wait and see. There’s that word again… wait… tic toc.
TO BE CONTINUED