(I have to thank many of you dear readers for checking in with me, either in person or online, and letting me know that many of you are praying for us during this time. It has been a HUGE encouragement to me!)
But I have to be honest: It’s very tempting to just disappear from this blog space right now! A huge (insecure) part of me wants to take a blogging break and let anyone reading this know the results of our embryo transfer well after it’s happened. To tell you it was negative after I’ve grieved and healed a bit, or to tell you it was positive after I’ve heard a heartbeat and made it through the first trimester. But I made up my mind that I was not going to do that this time around (as I did when we went through IVF), because I didn’t want to be dictated by fear. And I’m not a very private person in general, so I can’t use that excuse either. 😉 So, here’s the latest in our upcoming frozen embryo transfer (FET):
1. Many of you have asked the difference between IVF and and FET. Essentially, IVF stimulates the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible (without over-stimming them). The eggs are then retrieved (usually under anesthesia) and fertilized and left to grow on their own in a lab over a period of usually 3-5 days. The best 1-3 embryos are then transferred back in (if there are any remaining they are frozen), and 2 weeks later a blood test reveals whether a baby (or babies) is on it’s way or not. An FET is much more relaxed and there is less monitoring overall. This is due to the fact that the ovaries are left completely alone, since there is no need to retrieve more eggs when there are already embryos ready to go! FET involves injections of both progesterone and estrogen to get the uterine lining nice and thick before transferring the embryos in. There are also other injections to keep you from ovulating during the cycle (and while I’m at it, I might as well mention that steroids, antibiotics and baby aspirin are all usually part of the regiment as well). So, there are still a lot of hormones and injections involved, but it’s overall much lower key (and no anesthesia!) than IVF. Moving on from this mini lecture…
2. As some of you already know, I seemed to be cursed with ovarian cysts. Multiple kinds, including the kind that need surgery! Aside from having 3 surgeries to remove cysts, I’ve also had (now) three occasions in which I was certain I was experiencing a rupturing cyst. The first time the pain came on immediately and within 10 minutes I was in agonizing pain for around 2 hours. I didn’t go to the ER because a cyst had been confirmed by ultrasound the week prior, and I was pretty sure I knew what was happening at the time. The second time was not very long after Josh was born. My mom was over while my husband was at work, and the pain came on over a period of about an hour. I stood up after nursing Josh and realized that I could not straighten all the way up or walk on the affected side. The pain escalated quickly at that point (and to be honest I think I was still pretty traumatized from my delivery with Josh and generally anxious about experiencing out-of-control pain again) so my mom took me to the ER. Hours later, the pain subsided and by the time I finally got the ultrasound, no cyst was to be found (I figured because it had ruptured). Now, finally I bring you to last Sunday. It was a week before my period was due and I had cramping most of the day, which I thought was unusual as it seemed to early. I rested on the couch for a while and when I stood up, I felt the same intense pain on one side and thought “Uh oh.” I tried to walk around a little but the pain soared. But this time I had another plan. I told my husband, “Guess what? I’m NOT going to the ER this time.” Instead I took a Tylenol with codeine, loaded up on Ibuprofen, and placed a rice sock on my abdomen. Within 30 minutes I felt much better and even ate dinner. It was the best bursting-cyst experience to date. But to be honest I am discouraged as to why I have had 2 of these cysts burst in the past 6 months and don’t feel like it bodes well for the future if I don’t get pregnant again soon.
3. I got my pre-FET labs drawn. My TSH came back at 3. Not a horrible number for an adult by any measure, but my IVF doctor wants it under 2.5 (higher numbers are associated with both negative pregnancy results as well as are miscarriages). So I get to have it rechecked next week (not sure it will change much in a week, but I am praying that it will!). If it’s over 2.5 then I get to start thyroid meds. I’m not sure if this will delay my FET cycle, but since my doctor is pretty careful, I’m willing to bet that he’ll delay it a month and recheck my TSH level again before proceeding with the cycle. The downside to this is that I believe this will have us finding out if we’re pregnant or not right around Christmas. However, I looked back and saw that I got pregnant with Josh when my TSH was 2.75 (so he must have accepted it being a little higher then, or he may have implemented new standards since then).
4. Since my doctor didn’t specify if taking thyroid meds would delay my FET cycle, at this point I’m supposed to call on day 2 of my period and start birth control on that day to start the FET cycle (which usually takes about a month). Usually I dread my period coming and arm myself with ibuprofen, but this time I’m wishing it would just start already!
5. My husband and I took some time out to pray and talk through whether to transfer 1 or 2 embryos. I also did a ton of research on twin pregnancies. I am not under any delusion that a subsequent pregnancy (whether a singleton or twins) for me will be easy and pain-free (although I am ever hopeful!) — after all I was told that all my pain would be gone when I got pregnant, (and that was clearly not the case), and then I was told the next pregnancy would a piece of cake… I find that if I don’t have expectations about such things then I am far less disappointed when my expectations aren’t met. So what I discovered is that, irregardless of adhesions and scar tissue, carrying twins is very, very hard. That was no surprise to me, as carrying just one baby seemed pretty hard at the time! But what I really wanted to know were the statistics of how many twins delivered early (before 36 weeks). My doctor told me that if I’m compliant (i.e. I take it easy when I’m told to) the chances of delivering twins after 36 weeks is pretty good, around 65%. So, before praying and researching, I felt very strongly that we should only transfer 1. However, my husband thought that transferring 2 might be a better idea. We prayed and discussed and I researched. Oddly, over time I became more and more comfortable with the idea of twins. (Although I get the idea that being pregnant with twins is anything but comfortable.) But for now the plan is to transfer 2 of our embryo babies! We’re still continuing to pray about it, and I think the Lord is revealing to me the times when I am tempted to make decisions or base thoughts out of fear. At this point I can honestly say I am moving toward transferring 2 not out of fear of not getting pregnant (because the statistics for getting pregnant are lower when only 1 is transferred) but because twins seems like it would be an amazing double blessing, and I so would love to be a mama to several children.
So there you have it. Cyst, TSH, period, 2 embryos. But really, this is a time of huge struggle for me. I am not in any kind of denial thinking that just because I got pregnant with Josh, I’ll get pregnant again. Believe me, I have read several blogs documenting a successful pregnancy with twins, only to endure several subsequent embryo transfers with no babies to show for it. It’s hugely disheartening, and you may just say “Stick with the positive stories for now!” But that is not real life, and I want to learn to lean on and praise God through any storm He sends us under. After all, my life is not about infertility but about learning to be a servant of God! So even though I’m dying to buy some new maternity clothes (seriously; it’s weird) and to hear a heartbeat on a doppler I’m looking to Christ who is my Living Hope (1 Peter 1:3) and knowing that hope comes from Him! (And not from a positive pregnancy test.)
Thanks again for praying with us during this time! It is invaluable to me!