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.

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!

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!

News of Next Step

I’ve been quiet here, waiting for the word of where we – well, they – are going from here. And of course, by “they”, I mean the IPs.

I’ve seen several of the surrogates thrown under the bus by fertility clinics – myself included, with the old IPs. My best guesses for this are as follows:

1. The clinics want to keep their success rates up. Therefore, they kind of sweep some of these surrogacy fair transfers under the rug. (completely my conjecture, I have nothing to back this up).
2. From what I’ve heard it costs a few thousand dollars to screen a potential candidate for surrogacy. A few thousand. I’m fairly certain the mark up on this screening is pretty huge – it consists of an ultrasound, a sonohysterogram, about 8 vials of blood, and a psychiatric screening. Now, again I have nothing to back this up – but if you make a couple screen potential surrogates more than once = more money for the clinic??

I know neither one of those makes it seem like I have a very high opinion of fertility clinics … and well, I do and I don’t. Do I think they do amazing work? Absolutely. Do I also think they rob devastated, emotional wrought people absolutely blind? Yep, I sure do. Just sayin’.

Having been thrown under the bus previously, I was half thinking that would happen again. The clinic was unable to meet with my IPs over Skype until mid-November, so we had all been waiting … and waiting.

As it turns out, the doctor thinks with the IPs and me as their surrogate, we have a good chance. I’m choosing to have faith in that declaration!

The new plan is to give IM medication to strengthen her eggs, and to line up our cycles so that we can do a fresh transfer! It’s tentatively planned for January 2015.

I’m so beyond excited to be able to continue on this journey with these amazing IPs. They asked me if I would talk to the doctor and consider continuing with them … and my response was of course I will talk to the doctor, but my answer in regards to continuing with them was YES and I didn’t need to talk with him to know that.

They sent me a reply email which just moved me beyond belief – they told me that “… you give us strength and are one of main reason to continue. Everything is much easier since we have you with us! THANK YOU!”

Now I know that not everyone understands why I feel driven to do this, why I keep on keeping on through a year and a half of interruptions to my own life, crazy medications, emotional ups and downs … and I’ll never be able to give those people a definitive response as to why, but I hope that gives you a little insight. In relation to what they have gone through, in relation to not being able to bear your own children … what I have “gone through” is so very minimal. As with all the life experiences I’ve had, what I’ve experience through this process has offered me opportunities to grow and expand my world view. It’s brought my family closer (did I mention that my 9 and 7 year kids administer my needles?) in a common goal that we all feel a part of – and kids don’t see the potential downside, they always say “WHEN we have a baby for the IPs”. They roll with the ups and downs, always with their eyes on the prize – it’s inspiring, actually.

Right now my family, and I’m sure yours, is in full on holiday mode. All kinds of other stuff falls to the wayside during holiday prep! I’ve had this drafted to the end of the last paragraph since the last week of November and there it sat. My friend, A – you know who you are- texted me and said “You haven’t blogged in an awfully long time … just sayin’.” This one is for you, my friend. I’ve spent all day Christmas baking, but I’ll take a minute and finish this post for you! And on top of that, I’ll let you borrow my kids for crafting in a couple days. You’re welcome.

Hopefully the first week of the New Year will bring me news of protocol and transfer & I will be back to share that with you … in the meantime, enjoy your family, holidays, & however you choose to celebrate the last couple weeks of 2014.

And Then it Wasn’t

Monday we redid the bloodtests, and the numbers went down. Early miscarriage.

Last weekend, pregnancy symptoms were starting to kick in – that bone deep exhaustion that I always forget about between pregnancies, the queasiness that accompanies the smell of cooking meat, and a bit of the spidey-smell (what I always called my increased sense of smell). It came in late last week, and was fading by Sunday, though still there. They’ve since all gone away, to be replaced by hormone therapy withdrawal symptoms.

It hasn’t been a great week.

I am heartbroken to have come so close and then lost the baby. Tiny and barely-a-baby as it was. I am heartbroken that my IPs got that brief flash of hope, and then had it dashed. And if I am heartbroken, I know it doesn’t even come close to how they are feeling.

Once the clinic had the bloodtest results, and they knew it was over, they told me to stop the medication (estrogen & progesterone). What I didn’t know, and no one mentioned, was quitting hormones cold turkey comes with withdrawal symptoms. So when I started waking in the middle of the night and being unable to get back to sleep, I didn’t associate the two. A couple days later, I started getting this crazy tightness in my chest – like it was in vise, making it hard to breathe, I thought I was losing my mind. It was reminiscent of the feeling of quitting smoking, which gave me the clue that maybe this was a reaction to going off the hormones. Oh, Mr. Google? Ah, yes – insomnia and anxiety? Hormone therapy withdrawal symptoms. The last couple days, headaches have also joined the party.

Did I mention it has been a long week. My lovely IPs have sent me a couple very sweet emails, making sure that I am doing okay and asking me for some patience as they think through what they would like to do.

And so, we wait. (And I wait gladly for these IPs. I hope they have it in them to go through the process again.)

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