Time to Pause & Breathe

This girl needs to take a pause.

It’s taken me awhile to follow up here. I was pretty shaken with the outcome of the last transfer. I wanted to talk to my IPs first before really deciding what to do. My IPs took awhile to respond to me, and when they did – my heart broke even further. When they returned home after the transfer, they found IFs parents both in the hospital. His mother is doing somewhat better, but his fathers health is rapidly failing.

They still took the time to write me a lovely letter. I’ve often said that having international IPs works perfectly for me, but this has been a time I wished that they were closer. I want to be able to do something, to sit and grieve with them, to actually talk through what the future could hold without the constraints of email. English being their second language as well, I wonder sometimes about how what I write is interpreted.

In their email, they gave me their blessing to move on. We discussed possibilities when we were in Toronto together, and I know they had no plan to go through another retrieval. We were all hopeful for a few embryos to come out of the last retrieval, but out of the 25 retrieved eggs, there was just the one viable embryo.

In my response back to them, I let them know that I have no plans to move forward with surrogacy … however … if they decide down the road that they would like to try again, or try with an egg donor, then I would still love to be their surrogate. I just don’t have the heart to re-match with another couple, or to go through all of this again right now.

We have a lot going on here right now as well, a move that I am woefully under-prepared for – I really need to start packing … yikes! The end of school & the boys birthdays, etc. And I’m kind of looking forward to going back on my arthritis/ psoriasis meds, and maybe spending a summer without having to wear sweaters to cover my arms.

And taking the time to just … breathe.

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Full Stop

Full stop, I believe that is what it’s called when you come to the end of something? It reminds me of telegrams, there was a ‘stop’ at the end of each sentence … and then a start again. When the telegram finished there was a ‘full stop’.

We went through several stop and starts, and have reached our full stop.

Beta numbers were not good, quite low, and then dropped for the second test.

I am numb.

My IF is working away from his home, so he sent me a quick note saying that they would message me when he was back.

I think I’ll have more to say once I’ve had time to process this and discuss it with the IPs.

Thank you all for the love and support I’ve received! I truly appreciate it.

Eeeee!!! ++

Doing a little happy dance here, I got some double lines on my pregnancy tests!! (Double lines = positive pregnancy tests!)

I started testing five days after the transfer, using a cheap dollar store tests the first couple days. They were negative results, and bummed me out … the thought that kept going through my head was “I was so sure this was the one!”

Day seven past transfer, I used two tests, a First Response and a little strip test called BFP. I couldn’t see anything, really, so I uploaded a picture to the online support group. Naturally, my surro sisters didn’t disappoint! They immediately tweaked and played with the picture – they insisted there was a line there. Thought I’ll never figure out how they can see something in a picture that I can’t see with the naked eye… these girls are pro’s! By the time they were done, even I could see a bit of a line in the picture. The prediction was I would get a noticeable double line result the following day. I wasn’t convinced, I still have this feeling like the tests must have something where that 2nd line shows up, which would then be triggered by the appropriate level of hCg. A groove, a concentration of colour, something … which is what I wonder if the girls are picking up with their tweaking.

Day eight (we transferred a 5 day embryo, so the shorthand is 8dp5dt – 8 days past 5 day transfer) I tested on a First Response, and as predicted:

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TWO LINES!!!! EEEEEEEE!!!!!

I was so happy, I emailed the picture to my IPs, texted it to my husband, uploaded it to my surro sisters, messaged it to my parents, and texted my sister-in-law and various friends who are in the loop! I asked for any prayers and positive thoughts that could be spared – I am a big believer in the power of putting good energy into the Universe. I know whatever is meant to be, will be … but adding positive energy to the mix can’t hurt!

Day nine brought a slightly darker line, which is positive as well.

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Of course, nothing is for sure until we get some good beta numbers next week. Wednesday is the first blood test, and the number need to at least double for Friday’s blood test. Today’s test (10dp5dt) was a bust, I decided to use a digital, however I had accidentally opened the package a couple days ago, not realizing it was digital, and had no clue that you have a time frame to use it once the package is open. So it didn’t work, live and learn!

I’m a lot more relaxed than I was last transfer at this point, and the IPs have told me that having this news is making the wait easier for them 💗

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Transfer Day – No Joke!

April Fools transfer day? Well, in the world of surrogacy where they are manipulating and medicating two women, who live halfway across the world from each other, to line them up for a fresh embryo transfer … you take what you can get!

IM had her egg retrieval on March 27th, and they retrieved 25 eggs! In the past 5 days, as we hit each day the number went down. 18 were mature, 15 fertilized properly. After three days, there were 12 still growing. Today, 10. The IPs opted for PGD testing, which determines whether there are chromosomal issues with the embryos, or whether they are viable.

We sat and waited for an hour past our appointment this morning, waiting for the PGD results. And here is our one, beautiful, viable embryo:

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And here is me, resting post-transfer with my lucky leg warmers! I’m not sure why but apparently yellow is considered the lucky transfer colour.

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The transfer went well, it’s a mildly uncomfortable procedure, but nothing unbearable. And we women get used to doctors up in our business, am I right ladies? There’s nothing like sitting with your legs up in stirrups, and having the doctor walk in, fling the drape up and declare “Let’s make a baby!!”

Please send any prayers, positive & sticky thoughts that you can spare 💗

Fluffy and Ready to Go

Last week brought the lining check, to ensure that my uterus was ready for the transfer. They like to see the lining at anything over 9 mm, I believe. Mine has been 12 mm each time I’ve had one of these procedures, and this time was no exception.

As we call it in the surro support group “nice and fluffy”.

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And it means I am ready for transfer … and boy, am I ready.

I don’t say anything like “Finally!!” to the IPs. I’m well aware that my waiting has in no way compared to theirs! However, I think it was one of the many things I was very naive about when I signed up for this. I thought that the initial 3 months I needed to be off my methotrexate prior to transferring was ages! But then I would transfer, be pregnant, and the whole thing would be wrapped neatly up with a bow in like 12 months, right? Start to finish. Ha! (Did I mention … hahaha!)

Back in reality-land, though — my flight is booked for next Tuesday! Hip hip hooray!! My IM is booked for her egg retrieval tomorrow, and I start my progesterone. I’m hopeful.

Transfer is booked for Wednesday, April 1st. And if I don’t post before then, please send any and all positive thoughts you can spare that we get some good quality eggs, and “sticky thoughts” for the embryo(s) to stick!

Struggling

I think that for the most part, I try to present a happy face to the world. My “I’ve got it together” or my “I can handle this” face. I answer “How are you?” with “I’m fine” or “I’m good” … is being ‘fine’ even a thing? Could it be any more non-committal?

Lately, I don’t feel so fine. Or good. I do know that I’ve discussed the struggles I have with auto-immune issues here before, my struggles with my psoriasis and arthritis.

But basically the quick(ish) re-cap being that I had blood tests for food intolerance about 7 years ago, and was able to reverse my symptoms by cutting out those intolerances after having my 2nd child. Fast forward to baby number 3 and it wasn’t going well, so I opted for medication, which cleared up my symptoms. I had to go off that medication for surrogacy. It’s been about two years now, more or less. And I’ve been symptomatic the whole time.

Some more details …

The arthritis comes and goes – or at least goes to a point where it’s at an ‘everyday’ level that I don’t really think about. The psoriasis never goes. Which means I’ve spent two years in long sleeves and pants, in lots of foundation, in bangs, in scarves, in a lot of different cover ups to keep it hidden from the world.

I did 10 months of cleanses and avoiding my intolerant foods prior to my first transfer. I kept going, with no clearing up, because I thought “if I stop, it will get even worse”. I’ve tried on and off since then, but really struggle with finding the motivation to stick with it.

Psoriasis on me is very red skin, covered with scaly dry skin, in spots and patches – my forearms are always covered in large patches, so are my shins, my lower back, my right side, and usually my forehead. I get occasional flare-ups on my face, in my cleavage, and other spots here & there. It’s one of those things that people stare at – lots of people don’t know what it is … and sometimes they physically recoil from it. Close friends and family have seen me in short sleeves, or without makeup. And there are people who believe it isn’t a big deal, & I shouldn’t bother covering it up. I hear them … but until you’ve seen the look in people’s eyes as they see it & take a step back from you like maybe you’re contagious … it’s hard to understand it from my perspective. So I cover up. You should see my cardigan collection! But they aren’t a lot of fun in the heat, and frankly I’m ready to spend a summer in t-shirts.

My latest attempt to get it under control is cutting out all my intolerant foods, and all grains. I had cut out all nuts, beans, seeds etcetcetc as well, but I found I was lagging from not enough protein & not willing to eat meat three meals a day. So I’ve added hemp seeds to my morning smoothies, and some almonds/ almond butter when I feel like it.

Now the absolute injustice (in my eyes) is that making a drastic change, supposedly for the better, still flares up my symptoms. So my arthritis is flared up in my hands, and my psoriasis on my face … and it’s seriously bumming me out. It really taxes my will to follow through with this when I currently feel worse.

The combination of that, and the hormones (I’m back on meds for the next transfer) … well, I feel like the whole thing is messing with my head. I don’t usually consider myself a vain person, but this is delivering me a beating in my female pride. Like a look-at-myself-in-the-mirror-and-cry kind of beating. I don’t know how much of that is fuelled by the on-again-off-again hormone protocol that this has required, or if it’s just honest feelings.

I wouldn’t change doing this for anything, don’t get me wrong. I’m still committed to this surrogacy journey, and my amazing IP’s. I’m just taking a moment to acknowledge my challenges.

I did something I never do the other day, because I was really struggling and felt dragged down … so I went semi-public. I follow this group on Instagram called effyourbeautystandards. It’s all about throwing off the societally accepted version of “beauty”, which I think is a great thing – especially raising kids in this day and age. I posted a picture of my face without & with makeup on, tagged that group, with the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards.

Why? I needed to just let go a little of the hiding … of the feeling like I need to cower in shame so that no one has to see me. It felt pretty liberating, and there’s some very supportive souls out there, who said some very encouraging things to me – which fed my soul. I still feel a little “look at me, pay attention to me, feed my ego” over it – but I needed something in that low point, and I always tell my kids – you are entitled to your feelings & ask for help if you need it.

So I’m still struggling, but a little bit less than I was. I’m still trying to sort out which of my feelings are mine, and which ones are chemically generated/ altered by the meds.

I’m struggling with this post … part of me desperately wants to erase it all and type “I’m fine!!”. And I will be fine. I will be good. Great. Sad. Mad. Scary-hormonal… and a whole bunch other emotions. Hopefully not all in the same hour, but you never know. And so the ride continues.

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Some News!

I’m super excited to have some news! We are scheduled for transfer #2! Yipeeee!!

The clinic messaged me yesterday with my new protocol. We don’t have an exact transfer date, it’s a little trickier when you are transferring fresh embryos rather than frozen ones. It will depend on how the retrieval goes with IM, and how the embryos grow once they are fertilized.

I start with the Lupron shot on February 3rd – I so love that one! I slept so amazingly well on that medication. The lining check is scheduled for March 5th, and that’s usually the last step a few days prior to transfer.

In the meantime, I have put myself on a new eating plan, which is supposed to help calm the inflammation associated with auto immune disorders. It is called Auto Immune Protocol, or sometimes Auto Immune Paleo. It’s pretty restrictive – you can basically eat meat, vegetables, fruit and coconut products. There’s an emphasis on bone broths (I’m working on this), organ meats (yikes…), and fermented foods (this I can do!). The gelatine from bone broths, and the probiotics from fermented foods are both supposed to heal the intestines, which is where a lot of auto immune issues apparently start. I’m on week three, and all the cleansing and avoiding my ‘intolerances’ over the past couple years seems to be serving me well – it hasn’t felt like a huge adjustment so far, even though I was way off the rails into poor eating habits for the last few months. Even the initial detox off of sugar went fairly smooth.

Right now the biggest challenge is getting a good balance of protein, good fats, and fibre. That, and the diet has kicked off my symptoms – mostly the arthritis. I’m hoping is just that “healing crisis” that I’ve heard about, and that I’ll come out the other side feeling better.

Hopefully more updates to come as we start to roll along again!

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