Sunday, April 26, 2009

6w5d with triplets... Houston, we have heartbeats!

Today's long-awaited ultrasound was a sight to behold. For a realistic infertile, seeing the heartbeats is like the holy grail of realization. This is the moment it all becomes real.

I've read that a baby's heart starts beating around the 20th day after conception, but that usually only becomes visible on va.ginal u/s during the 6th week.

We purposefully scheduled the heartbeat u/s for late in the 6th week, to have the best possible chance of seeing all three heartbeats.

A young but experienced Nurse Practitioner performed the scan. She saw the first heartbeat instantly and didn't hold out on us. (Pointing to a flickering on the grainy black and white image:) There is the baby's heartbeat right there.

She moved the wand to position it so we could see our second baby. "I definitely see the second heartbeat. There."

Then it took some careful scanning to look at baby number 3, who is significantly smaller. "I see the yolk sac and a fetal pole, but no heartbeat... yet." It may not continue to develop, or we might see it next week." I was calm, because I had a feeling that baby 3 is okay, but just a little slower.

She scanned upwards to take another look at the first two and measure them. Then she went back to baby number 3 and there it was. "Oh look! Now I see the heartbeat on baby number 3."

Tears stream down my face. Relief. Hubby grins from ear to ear and squeezes my hand tightly. After all the waiting, this right here is the most amazing, life-changing moment. Three heartbeats. Three live babies. All doing fine so far. How can anyone be so blessed after infertility?

I feel guilty for feeling such overwhelming joy in the face of all my friends who are still in the trenches, fighting Endo, unexplained fertility, male factor, etc. etc. I want a happy ending for everyone.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Triplets... it's starting to sink in

Thanks, everyone, for your kind, funny, shocked, and excited messages. All the "holy mackerels" and "holy cows" captures how we feel too!

Dh and I have been reading, talking, laughing, and contemplating. We're trying to absorb the unabsorbable news. How do you feed, change and care for three preemie infants? How do you raise three kids? I'm already wishing I had a 3rd b**b, and another arm!

Our thoughts inevitably jump to the future. We think about a week from now "Will we see three strong heartbeats?" to a few months from now, "How premature will they be born and will they survive or have lifelong disabilities?" to a few years from now, "How amazing would it be to take them places and do fun family stuff?" We imagine their sibling dynamic and interactions, and dream about whether we're expecting boys, girls or a "mixed bag." My prediction: 2 boys and a girl. We are excited, amazed, and scared. Is it too much to ask to have three healthy kids? Our primary emotion is one of realistic optimism and excitement, but I know triplet pregnancies are high risk, and do not always have a good outcome.

We've begun to frequent triplet blogs, triplet forums, and other online triplet or High Order Multiple resources. I've watched triplets being born on YouTube (and cried...), and have searched for narrower carseats, triplet strollers and other things that might help with surviving the hardest first four months, like Miracle Blankets and Bottlesnugglers.

Since I may end up on bedrest before their birth, I've started figuring out my employer and our state's short term disability policy.

On Monday, I'll be 6 weeks pregnant, and my infertility clinic graduates their pregnant patients between 8-10 weeks. This means I have 2-4 weeks to find an OB who specializes in high risk pregnancies, or better yet, a board-certified Maternal Fetal Medicine doc (perinatologist).

Since I live in a rural area with only a level II NICU, I suspect I'll need to travel to the nearest big city for prenatal care and Labor & Delivery. That's fine by me - I'd prefer to be in good hands. Thankfully the same city where my fertility clinic is located also has a university hospital with a great L&D facility and a level IV NICU. There are five perinatologists to choose from, one of whom is a woman (my pick of the bunch.)

We're in information gathering mode this weekend, and have used every second to try and prepare ourselves as best we can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

20dp3dt - The news... and it's BIG!

This week has been the longest and most agonizing of my life. Longer than than the wait to do an IVF cycle and longer than the beta wait when I suspected a BFP. During my acupuncture session this morning, when I was in between wakefulness and sleep, I asked God to give us only what we could handle. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then we had our first prenatal ultrasound and it was spectacular.

The nurse practitioner scanned left to right and I counted the yolk sacs... 1...2... oh my gosh... what was that?! ...3? Did I see three? Wait! I wasn't sure what I had seen, and the nurse practitioner was silent at this point, scanning back and forth. It was impossible to know whether I had double counted or not. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Then she counted out loud, with my husband sitting right next to me. He seemed totally calm and serene, but he was no doubt holding his breath. This was the moment of truth we had waited for. She pointed to the screen: "I see one... two... sacs." I waited for her to catch on and point out the third. "And there might be another one. Yes, there are definitely three sacs. Look!"

(Deafening silence from the peanut gallery)

"Here's one little guy hanging out all by himself, and here are the other two," she said more confidently, showing the sacs in detail as she measured them.

My husband and I exchanged holy sh!t looks and laughed. Elated, shocked, terrified, but mostly elated.

We go back next weekend for the second ultrasound at 6w5d and hope to see three strong, healthy heartbeats.

In the meantime, the hCG continued to double at breakneck speed.

14dpo: 193
16dpo: 531 (32 hour doubling time)
23dpo: 9706 (40 hour doubling time)

We are grateful that it's not ectopic, or a blighted ovum, or a molar pregnancy, or any of the other devastating things that it could have been.

The NP answered all of our questions, and then said, "Just enjoy today, enjoy this week. We see a lot of nausea around week 7 and 8, and there will be lots of time to talk about all of the other questions you will have. Just relish today's good news."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

13dp3dt: 2nd Beta

14dpo: 193
16dpo: 531

That's a doubling time of 32 hours. Everything is looking promising so far. The nurses and secretaries at the clinic were literally jumping up and down today for my sake. It was such a great moment after all the heartache and uncertainty. After doing two back-to-back cycles, most of the nurses know me by name. It's such a welcoming feeling.

My first prenatal u/s is scheduled for next week (5wks). I can't wait to hear whether we're expecting a singleton or twins... or dare I even say it: triplets. It will be another two weeks (6wk4days) before we can expect to see a heartbeat. My clinic does weekly ultrasounds, and releases their patients to an OBGYN at 8-10 weeks.

We won't be out of the woods for many months, but so far so good. In fact, I don't think I'll relax about this pregnancy until after the baby/babies is/are safely in our arms. Then a lifetime's worth of worries will start. I'm not quite believing that I'm pregnant yet, but I am ready for it to feel real. I realize now I've been ready for many years.

Monday, April 06, 2009

11dp3dt: Big fat positive beta day

The hCG level is 193.5. I predicted a level of around 200 just for fun. I don't know why; the number just came to me. We are most definitely pregnant and overjoyed!

Thank you all for your wonderful comments - and for sharing in our excitement. It truly hasn't sunk in yet. I keep staring at the pregnancy sticks thinking the lines will fade, or the outcome will change. For now, even the digital is still shining a brightly positive "Yes+" every time I look. It's completely surreal to think I am four weeks pregnant today.

The beta doubling test is Wednesday, and if all is well, then they schedule the first ultrasound when I'm 5 weeks along. I am so happy to be joining my amazing "pregnant-despite-infertility" bloggie friends, Chelle, InVitroVeritas, Kate and many others on the next phase of this crazy journey.

It's too early to tell our family, but my closest IRL girl friends who have been following our IVF journey already know. If your family lived far away and you couldn't tell them in person, how would you break the news? We have a few weeks to come up with a cool plan to tell the grandparents. If you've heard any memorable pregnancy announcements or surprises, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

HPTs for your analyzing pleasure

Day 9 post 3 dt

Day 7 & 8 post 3dt

It actually looks a little darker in real life, but still very faint.

9dp3dt - Saturday's yes Yes YES+!

Dh had to work today, and the alarm went off around 5:30 a.m. Before I had even surfaced, I said, "PEE STICK TIME!!" and leapt out of bed. Dh just laughed.

I had two First Res.ponse sticks left: a lined one, and a digital one. I went out on a limb and tried the digital. It blinked for a good 3 minutes before it came up with "Yes+". Oh my, oh my, oh my. It's like asking the Magic 8 ball this same question, and then wanting to shake it again just to be sure. Except it's not the Magic 8 ball, and I can't shake it.

3 days of testing, and 3 positives! This must not be a fluke. Holy crap. What if this is real? When can I start believing it?

I tried the last stick too, to compare line darkness, and it was a little lighter than yesterday's, but still completely visible. Is that a bad sign? Sorry if TMI, but the urine was not quite as concentrated after only 4 hours of sleep, compared to 8 hours the night before, so hopefully that explains it. Now I'm completely obsessing and I can't stop myself!

Monday afternoon's beta results is a world away...

Friday, April 03, 2009

8dp3dt - Friday's POAS heaven

When you're facing male and female infertility, and odds of less than 10%, you don't really ever think that it will work out. Besides, I'm a realist.

To suddenly find myself in HPT heaven is a very strange development indeed. Completely surreal and mindblowing. You want to believe it, but you know that this only happens to other people. Lucky people. Fertile people. Positive pee sticks doesn't happen to people like us. At least not without a miracle of some sort, planets aligning, and all that. But despite the odds, it seems a miracle may be in the making. In eleven years of this IF battle dangling over our heads, I never thought I'd see a positive.

The line on Friday morning's stick is slightly darker. Still very faint, but darker than Thursday's. I am in love with this feeling of hope and optimism. It's foreign and inexplicable, and even though I know it's way too early to be this ridiculously excited, I just can't help myself. My realistic self suddenly finds herself making way for a hopeful self.

While the First Response stick was "developing," Dh was looking over my shoulder. Not a minute had gone by, when he said, "It's darker!" He is even more excited than I am, if that is even possible.

I'm laughing about Nikki's comment, "Where's the photo so we can see?" Sorry to be holding out on you. He he he. I'll download the pics soon, and will post them.

Monday is beta day and it can't come soon enough.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

7dp3dt and pee-stickyness on Thursday

With my last cycle, I bought a few fancy HPTs and a bunch of Dollar Store ones. All starkly white and decidedly, heart-wrenchingly negative. Not the faintest hint of anything to give me a sliver of hope.

I had one leftover Dollar Store one, but couldn't bring myself to use it. So on the way home from work, Dh and I stopped by our local drug store to stare at the HPT shelf. The choice wasn't immediately obvious, but in the end we settled on a 3-pack First Res.ponse with a bonus digital stick included.

Dh went for a run, and the pee sticks called my name incessantly. I caved. Before the 3 minutes were up, there was an almost imaginary faint second line. Imaginary, but also indisputable. I tilted it, held it up to the light, ran and grabbed the camera, stared at it a bit more and then starting grinning to myself in the mirror like the Cheshire cat. It's too early and rather inconclusive, but I have this gut feeling that this might be it. No symptoms to back it up other than an occasional twinge, which I had with the BFN cycle too, but I have this feeling of big fat positiveness that I just can't shake.

I started laughing with tears streaming down my face, and at that point, Dh walked in on me. He knew instantly what I was up to. (He knows me better than I know myself.)

Me (whispering so as not to jinx it): "I think I see a very faint second line. I've never ever seen that before."

Him (disbelief): No?!

Me (handing him the stick and trying to be nonchalant): Look for yourself and tell me if you see it.

Him (in under a nano second, without his glasses): I can definitely see it!!

Stunned silence. Holy cow. This is really happening.

He gives me this excited big bear hug and we stare at the stick some more. We take another photo, and I proceed to make excuses to run to the bathroom every 10 minutes for the rest of the night to double, triple, quadruple check that the hint of a line is still there and that I didn't just daydream. It is. But can it be trusted? We shall see.

How on earth will I sleep tonight?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

6dp3dt and no symptoms

I've mostly been trying to keep my mind off the fact that I'm waiting for beta. It has consumed me despite my best efforts. Every twinge, every sting, every cramp makes me wonder what, if anything, is going on. Is it AF? Is it implantation? What if it is? What if it isn't? I'm crazy, obsessed and unable to focus on anything else. It's like I have beta ADD.

I've looked at the calendar, counted the days post transfer, added the numbers to figure out the number of days post ovulation (ER day): 6dp3dt = 9dpo. I've looked at the stages of embryo development a million times and have it memorized.

I've looked at my natural me.nstrual cycle on the calendar, tried to figure out when Aunt Flo (AF) would show up if she still knew what my schedule was before the meds messed with it, or if I should be counting my "normal" number of cycle days after AF started at 3dp5d last month.

If we're just comparing cycles, then at 9dpo today, I've already made it a day farther without spotting than with my last IVF cycle (8dpo). (Hooray for Progesterone-in-Oil injections and suppositories.) If I'm counting from last month, then I'm hoping she doesn't arrive this weekend.

I have had no real symptoms to report. I'm not getting much uninterrupted sleep because of the progesterone, and I've woken up every morning this week with my heart fluttering. It's the weirdest feeling, like it's giving an extra beat or three.

Earlier this week, my skin looked almost transparent, and I could see veins I've never noticed before. It was really weird. Maybe the winter has just been too long and my skin needs the Sun, but just as I started getting excited, the blue veins went away. All of the symptoms - tingly bo.obs, twinges - disappear as quickly as they appear.

I'll use a home pregnancy test this weekend, just to start preparing myself for the outcome.

The progesterone injections are going well, but I'm starting to get rather bruised now. Women who continue with the PIO injections for the entire first trimester have my utmost respect.