Monday, December 14, 2015

Fall Stork Activities: Cooking a bird, baking a bun

It is with great relief that I can relay to you that in the time between our UTI nightmare and now, things have progressed very smoothly. As I sit down to type, belly buddy is rolling and playing and thoroughly enjoying his uterine adventures. When I set out to be a surrogate, this was one of the parts I most looked forward to; the simple enjoyment of a baby rolling around in my belly. I think it's one of life's greatest gifts.

So we left off in early November with a 3D/4D ultrasound and appointment with Sensible OB scheduled for the first week of December. The remainder of November passed uneventfully, with a whole bunch of family fun time stuck in there at the end. Just before Thanksgiving, Scott and I took the kids (and dogs) on a 3 day camping trip at a state park a few hours away from home. As you might imagine, squeezing 2 adults, 4 kids and 2 spoiled Boxers into one vehicle with everyone's clothing and food provisions for the trip did NOT sound delightful. Instead we made a plan for Scott, my uber prompt, former military, up at the crack of dawn husband, to pack up the 3 older kids, backpacks and the camper, and head out at the first sign of daylight. Meanwhile, the little, the 2 dogs and pregnant 'ol me would sleep in take some extra time packing the SUV and head out shortly after them to meet them at the park. Two hours after they left, the late crew was finally loaded up and ready to go. We hopped in the vehicle, I hit the keyless start button and nothing happened. I hit it again; still nothing. I stared at it for a split second before realizing that my one and only key must not be in the purse sitting next to me. After digging through the purse and searching all of the usual places in the house, I called Scott:
Me - "Hey babe, have you seen the key for my car?"
Scott - "Yeah, I handed it to you and you put it in your purse last night."
Me - "Right. But it's not there now, so can you ask the kids if one of them took it out?"
Scott - "But I remember handing it to you. I don't think anyone used it this morning."
Kids in the background - "Dad, remember I needed to put some stuff in Mom's car this morning? I took the key from her purse, but I gave it to you in the driveway. Did you take it back in the house?"
Scott - "One of the kids used it this morning, but I don't think they still have it.... Oh crap. It's right here in my console. Ok, we're turning around. We'll be there in a couple of hours."
Now here's how much I love Scott: He wasn't angry or ugly. He had just done 2 hours in the truck with three-quarters of the kid crew, and he was willing to do another 5 to get home to us, deliver the key and turn back around to head to the state park. I don't have nearly the same level of patience that he does. My brain started racing with finding a way to preserve the vacation day for him and the kids so that they didn't have to spend all of it on the road. I called our auto insurance company who promptly sent a tow truck to the house that delivered us to the car dealership. There, the service department was able to program a new keyless entry/start key fob for a mere $250, and coo coo cachoo, myself, 1 little, 2 dogs, 14 pieces of luggage and 5 bags of groceries were back on our way. The side show only cost us about another hour and a half delayed in getting to our vacation destination, and provided a great source of amusement for the kids.

When we got back from vacation, I cooked the bird and we hosted the extended family for a wonderful holiday meal. I took several breaks throughout the morning, but my feet and ankles were still not impressed. At 26 weeks, it was the first sign of ankle swelling, although I can't complain because it has been minimal to non-existent for most of this pregnancy.

A week after Thanksgiving, we had our ultrasound and OB appointment. I met with Sensible OB first and we got caught up on being 27 weeks pregnant. She seems like she will be a good fit at this point. She is very straightforward and an all-business type, but she doesn't seem to miss anything, so I guess I'll forego my desire for a light-hearted comedian type. There was only one awkward moment where she asked me if Mandy, Wes and I had a detailed delivery plan that included who was allowed to hold the baby. I told her that it was not very detailed at this point, but that we have a great relationship built on mutual respect, so I feel comfortable about how things are going to go. She then spoke about it in a tone that sounded like this is an adoption situation rather than surrogacy, which was a bit odd. I'm going to have to keep the dialogue open with her in regards to surrogacy so that she clearly understands that this is not a sad occasion, and that this is very much a collaborative effort between Mandy, Wes, Scott and myself, along with her and the hospital staff. On my way out, I was able to make all of the remaining appointments through the end of the pregnancy. My overly-organized, type-A personality rejoiced. The next appointment was set for Christmas Eve at 31.5 weeks.

The next stop on the baby tour that morning was the 3D/4D ultrasound. All of us had been anticipating it for so long because we just couldn't wait to lay eyes on his adorable little face. Of course, when we got all settled in, this little wiggle worm that is rarely ever still decided that he was in a sleepy mood and wasn't going to wake up for our entertainment. He was also folded in half with his legs and feet right in front of his face. So it took a while to get a somewhat clear view of his face, and when it happened, Mandy cried out "Oh my god, he looks exactly like me!" I could hear the tears of joy coming through the phone and I started to cry as well. There are a few moments in this process that really hit me right in the feels, and that was one of them. I'm so happy for them that it makes me cry too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Buckle Your Seat Belts; Turbulence Ahead

Picking up where I left off, we were solidly into Fall with littles getting excited about Halloween costumes and Trick-or-Treat adventures. In the last week of October, the bean was at 22 weeks, measuring just a little bigger on fundal height, and generally, growing like a weed. I had been feeling movement for several weeks, but around that point, he was getting much more forceful in his kicks and rolls, enough that Scott and the kids could feel it on the outside of my belly too. Everything was progressing nicely... until is wasn't.

I woke up on November 5 with that annoying pressure/pain feeling indicating that a UTI was setting in. It wasn't extremely painful, but I wanted to get on top of it before it got out of hand. I'd had a UTI get out of hand in my first pregnancy that landed me in the hospital on IV antibiotics due to the bacteria not growing on the culture medium and leaving the doctors working blindly to try to treat it. They weren't able to tell which antibiotics to use until we tried them and they didn't work, switch to a different one, lather, rinse, repeat. After a week of no relief, it had spread to a kidney and required IV antibiotics. It was a scary situation, and not one that I wanted to repeat. So at the first sign, I headed off to the office of Lovely Outgoing OB and Partner OB. I was in an awkward position, in that Lovely Outgoing OB had left 5 days prior, and I hadn't ever had an appointment with Partner OB. Regardless, I peed in the obligatory cup, which was very cloudy with an abundance of white blood cells, Partner OB called in an antibiotic and we went on with our day. I was swamped with procedures and meetings over the next 2 days, so I gave little attention to the fact that the pain was not subsiding. By the middle of the day on the 7th, however, I was startled to see blood in my urine to add to the pain/pressure. I called the after hours line for Partner OB (it was Saturday by this time) and she quickly called me back. She told me that she was out in the wilderness with her family, so she couldn't look up the culture results, but that I should go somewhere to be seen that day given that it wasn't getting any better with the current antibiotic. So Scott chauffeured me to a great little stand-alone ER that we have close to our house. More obligatory peeing in a cup. Urine looked clear, as it should after 2 days on an antibiotic, but presumably, the infectious bacteria was resistant because symptoms were getting worse. That meant that this poor ER doc was going to be working blindly to treat, much like the first pregnancy UTI debacle. ER Doc #1 was great though; very thorough, attentive and conscientious. He gave me some Azo to alleviate the urethral pain that was increasing, then tried a new antibiotic IV. I headed out the door, hopeful that we had tackled it with the new antibiotic and ready to watch my favorite college football team domina.... er... take it in the shorts.

By Sunday morning, the pain was increasing and Scott felt that we needed to take a more direct approach. We talked about it at great length and decided that we needed to go to an ER that had a vast network of specialists because we may need a urologist at this point. We decided on the hospital that Partner OB is affiliated with so that we could ensure some continuity of care and information sharing. Admittedly, I was aware that Partner OB was still out in the wilderness with her family, but hoping that this strategy would allow the other professionals ease of access to my history, notes and results. ER Doc #2 was a stark contrast to ER Doc #1 in that she was much more direct and a bit brash, but she was very intellectual and her approach to solving the problem was very outside-the-box. Yet another cup of urine was collected, and again, it was as clear as one would expect after 3 days on antibiotics. This made ER Doc #2 think that the problem wasn't an infection, but rather a bladder spasm. Interesting... At that point, I was open to any thoughts/suggestions/treatments, because the pain was getting too intense to handle on my own. ER Doc #2 called Partner OB who said "As long as she's not having contractions, it's pretty much out of my field." So ER Doc #2 called the on-call urologist who said "Not really anything we can do for it. Just give her some pain meds and send her home." On that note, we left with bed rest instructions and an order to see Partner OB two days later to follow up.

Throughout the day on Monday was more of the same, but the pain meds took the edge off, so I was just trying to make it to the follow-up appointment on Tuesday at 1:00 pm. Instead, I woke up at 3:30 am with contractions that were regular and 5-10 minutes apart. In addition to managing the pain, I was lying in bed thinking that we really needed to *not* have a 24 week 2 day baby! I called the OB's office, drank a ton of water, laid down on my left side and thankfully, the contractions subsided within an hour. Partner OB's nurse called me and told me to come in at 11:00 am which was as soon as she would be out of surgery. Going in, I was so eager to finally get some relief and find an effective treatment after 5 solid days of this. Unfortunately, I didn't get anything like that. This was my first time ever meeting Partner OB in person, and I was shocked to see a twenty-something walk through the door. This made her accomplishments and awards all the more impressive, given that she's obviously only been working in her field a short time. She quickly ordered a fetal fibronectin test and ultrasound view of my cervix to rule out preterm labor. Both looked perfect (cervix length was a solid 4 cm), so she was pleased and told me I was good to go. I was caught a bit off guard when I asked about the pain and she shrugged her shoulders and told me she was baffled by it. She suggested I see the urologist, with the first available appointment being Wednesday at 10:00 am. Ok. On to day 6, again, eager for this physician to finally help resolve this situation.

I arrived at the urologist's office well ahead of the scheduled appointment time (did I mention I was eager??), with my best friend, Jamie, in tow. Scott was at work and I didn't think that he needed to keep taking half days off just to chauffeur me around. The medical assistant that called me back was very soft-spoken and sweet. She directed me to empty my bladder then took me to a patient room where she started to do a bladder ultrasound to determine how effective my emptying was. As she approached me, she said "Have you had an hysterectomy?" I said "No, in fact, there's currently a fetus taking up residence in my uterus." Clearly thrown for a loop (apparently didn't read the referral notes from Partner OB??), she quickly excused herself from the room without doing the ultrasound. At this point, Jamie started to question why we've been struggling with this issue for 6 days and no one, neither ER Doc #2 nor Partner OB, thought to visualize the bladder via ultrasound. Who knows, as she noted, maybe there's a stone in there irritating it or something. Certainly taking a look could be worth the time and effort. But that was definitely not in Uro Doc's plan either.

Uro Doc charges into the exam room 30 minutes past appointment time and says "You know, there's not a whole lot we can do with you while you're pregnant. You should really come see me after you have the baby." I'm sitting there silently, a bit confused. Is she saying that this pain is going to outlast the pregnancy?! Because I am absolutely certain at this point that I *cannot* do this for another 15.5 weeks! I told her that my goals for this appointment were to identify a cause of the pain and to discuss what options we have for treating it. She scoffed "Yeah, that's not going to happen." I literally laughed out loud when she said it. Sometimes I have a nervous laugh when I'm so stunned by how brazen someone is with what comes out of their mouth. This was one of those moments. She then tells me to drop my pants and proceeds to give me the most awkward, jabbing, pinching examination of my lady parts that I have ever experienced. At the conclusion, she says "Well, there's nothing that I can do for you surgically, so although you're experiencing some discomfort, it looks like you're going to have to just ride it out." Did she just use the term "discomfort" to characterize the hell that I'd been living for 6 straight days?! Here's the moment where the pregnant lady can no longer hold in the tears of frustration. What, exactly, do you do when you have been battling pain strong enough to cause contractions for 6 days, and every doctor that you see says "I'm not sure what it is, but it's not my problem." I couldn't even look this abrasive woman in the eyes anymore. Instead I fixated on the cabinets in the corner of the room while she continued to tell me that maybe the pain wasn't even real, just a figment of my imagination. She briefly stepped out to call Partner OB, then came back to say that they had decided it was bladder spasms and they would prescribe a muscle relaxer.

I went home feeling completely defeated, miserable, and somewhat out of options. I took the muscle relaxers as directed, and promptly slept through the entire day on Thursday; a side-effect of the medication that I simultaneously loathed and appreciated. Waking up on Friday morning (day 8), things had taken a serious turn overnight and I now had excruciating back pain on the left side. There was no relief and I told Scott that we had to do something, go somewhere, find someone that would actually *do* something. After a bit of tense back and forth on what to do, he buckled me in to head to a different, full-service hospital ER  close to our house. By the time I got there, it was difficult to walk and I was a blubbering mess trying to relay to the ER nurse what was going on. Once I mentioned the pregnancy, they wheeled me on up to L&D for monitoring and for the OB on call to handle the case. There was yet another round of pee-in-a-cup, but this time, this lab did something none of the previous ones had: They actually assessed the bacteria load in the sample. They didn't just look for white blood cells, blood, color, clarity, etc.. They came back and told me that there was a very heavy bacteria load, which they would not expect to see after a week on antibiotics. They were also monitoring the baby's heart rate and contractions while they ran a few more tests. While the contractions weren't strong enough for me to time them, they noted that my uterus was very irritable. I couldn't blame it... pretty much all of me was getting to the point of 'very irritable' by day 8! In the meantime, Sensible OB thought it would be a good idea to review some of my records to see what antibiotics had worked in the past. She picked one (again, working blind to what bacteria it actually was), and within 4 hours the pain was nearly gone. I seriously could have kissed her! She sent me home with a prescription to continue that antibiotic, and by the next morning, I felt like a brand new woman. I jumped out of bed feeling like I could do anything!

Throughout the 8 days of UTI hell, I was very careful in how much I relayed to Mandy and Wes about my pain. Without them being there, I knew that they would be very concerned, and I didn't want them to get worried when there wasn't anything that they could do about the situation. I made sure to let them know with each passing day that little belly buddy was doing great and that the doctors were still working on finding a treatment that would work. Mandy was so sweet and checked each day to see if I was feeling better, but I just couldn't lay the weight of my daily struggle and frustration on them. Still, we all shared the immense sense of relief when it was finally resolved. Mandy then broached the subject of questioning the treatment choices of the previous physicians, including Partner OB. I had been thinking the same thing, so it was nice to see that we were on the same page. We agreed to find a different OB for the remainder of the pregnancy, and who better than Sensible OB that looked at the situation and thought "If it walks like an infection and talks like an infection, chances are, it's an infection." She saved us from being admitted for IV antibiotic treatment by catching it as we were on the brink of a serious kidney infection due to the spread. So it was a logical choice to schedule our next appointment with her and cancel the end of November appointment with Partner OB. As the scheduling gods would have it, our first appointment with Sensible OB would fall on the same morning as the 3D/4D ultrasound in the first week of December.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Second Trimester: The part where the waters are calm and sailing is smooth

Let the flogging commence: This blogger has seriously neglected the duties required of the position. Let me see if I can make up for it by penning a thoughtful and (hopefully) somewhat humorous update of what life has been like while incubating the fetus since my last update.

We left off at 12 weeks 1 day with the anticipation of our 14 week regular OB appointment on the horizon. The appointment seemed to come up quite quickly on the last day of August, with the new OB and I having another engaging 15 minutes while she checked out my little belly buddy. All was well with the little guy, and she scheduled me for the next routine appointment 4 weeks later. Almost in passing, she also mentioned that she hadn't told anyone yet, but she was going to be leaving at the end of October, so I should probably start thinking about who I might want to switch my OB care to. I tucked that little nugget of information away to process later for a couple of reasons. First, I was really disappointed because I had so enjoyed the appointments that I'd had with her over the short 6 months that we had a doctor-patient relationship, and I loathed the idea of trying to find another OB that I would have the same rapport with. In the 11 years that I have been seeking and receiving OB care, I have found that there are a small handful that I have loved, several that met the needs but didn't knock my socks off, and another handful that should consider a career change. Aside from the tedious nature of trying to pin down a new OB love, my second reservation was that I didn't want Mandy and Wes to stress about the change. This is the first baby and their first ride on the OB merry-go-round, so I didn't want this news to be upsetting to them. So with 60 days to go before I had to do something about it, I thought it best to just put it on the shelf temporarily. Next appointment was set for the last few days of September. In the meantime, one of my co-workers delivered a beautiful baby girl at 40 weeks and 6 days. She kicked off the year of babies in our department. There are 4 of us that do the same job; she delivered her baby the first week of September, I will deliver the bean in late February, and one of our other teammates will deliver her first baby in early April. Needless to say, we have no shortage of estrogen flowing in this hallway! *Cue all of the "there must be something in the water" jokes. With Babypalooza in full swing, along with it comes an almost steady stream of maternity leave. So September through the end of November have been packed even more full of making sure all of the projects are properly managed and moving forward.

Along came the end of September and our 18 week regular OB appointment. By this time, Mandy and I had been having a conversation about the hospital and our delivery plans, which provided a perfect segue to relay issue of the pending OB transition. Letting her know about it was the easier of the two tasks; actually identifying and committing to a new OB was a job that I still wasn't ready to tackle just yet. Instead, I just showed up at the appointment and went on with the usual routine. Lovely Outgoing OB did her usual assessments of the babe, determined he was doing great, right on track, and set me up for an appointment 4 weeks later. Falling at the end of October, this would be the last one where we would get to see her, but she let me know that any of her partners would be happy to take on my care. I tried to probe a little further with her to see if she had some insight that would help me make a solid match with one of her partners, but she just gave a me a sweeping "they would all be great and do a good job for you" statement. Still, I had another month to figure it out, and an anatomy ultrasound coming up in between at 20 weeks, so I didn't dwell on it too much.

The big ultrasound day arrived a short 2 weeks later in mid-October. Although feeling a bit buried by the amount of work I had been juggling, I was very excited to take a quiet morning to spend with Mandy and Wes (albeit over Skype) for the ever-anticipated anatomy scan. I enjoyed being able to share the experience with them, although, admittedly, it was a bit anti-climactic. Everything measured perfectly, even about a week ahead (recall that this little guy has been an overachiever all along). The technician confirmed, decidedly, that belly buddy is, in fact, a boy. Mandy and Wes watched and listened throughout the scan without saying much. I was hoping that they were enjoying the glimpse of their little man. We had a nice long phone call after the appointment where they told me they were relieved that everything looked good, and we talked about the 3D/4D ultrasound that we scheduled for the first week of December where they would get a really good look at his face, features, and adorable little toes. They now had even greater anticipation of seeing him on that upcoming scan. They also asked me about scheduling a fetal echocardiogram, as is common in IVF pregnancies. Seemed easy enough, right?? Famous last words...

I called the OB's office the following week to inquire about the fetal echo. The nurse (medical assistant? not sure...) that I spoke with told me that they don't routinely do a fetal echo on their patients, so I shouldn't worry about it. Now, maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but there's something about the way this conversation went that drives me bananas. If I call a professional's office with a professional question that is decidedly outside of the norm of their day-to-day activities, I expect a professional to weigh the question and respond based on their acquired skills and knowledge in their field of practice. I don't expect (and don't even want, in fact) one of the paraprofessionals on the team to dismiss the question without due consideration. In this case, I more explicitly asked the person on the phone to discuss it with Lovely Outgoing OB. A week went by without a response, so I called again. This time the person on the phone seemed very annoyed to be asked a second time, but said she would call me back with an answer. Five minutes later she called to say they were not going to order it and that we didn't need one. I asked why they don't order them if it's common practice for IVF pregnancies in light of ACOG's support of fetal echos at 24 weeks following IVF based on statistically significant increases in heart disease and heart conditions in IVF babies versus naturally conceived. Again, I got annoyed stuttering and an "I'll call you back". Ten minutes later she called back and this time seemed to relay Lovely Outgoing OB's irritation with being questioned. She told me that the request was specific to IVF and if we wanted it done we should get the RE to order the echo. Ouch. I hung up, sufficiently hormonal, unsure what to do with that response. First, I let Mandy know what they said, then I went to work as I always do when I need to gather solid information: a review of scientific literature. I was happy to find, among the plethora of documentation of rationale for doing a fetal echo around 24 weeks for IVF fetuses, a study of several hundred IVF pregnancies that showed that although that is true, there were no findings of cardiac irregularities in patients that first had a normal anatomy scan. So that's to say that all of the IVF babies with cardiac disease or abnormalities also showed those on the 20 week scan prior to the fetal echocardiogram. With that information in hand, Mandy and I talked it over and decided not to push the issue further based on the bean's normal cardiac findings on the 20 week anatomy scan. Whew... crisis narrowly averted. On the other hand, I had to go back to see Lovely Outgoing OB in a couple of weeks, and I wasn't entirely sure what her demeanor would be like when we were face to face.

Two more weeks rolled by and we were back to see Lovely Outgoing OB for our 22 week appointment. She started by asking me what we decided on the fetal echocardiogram issue. I was impressed that she just jumped right in with that, and that she acted like we somehow had a choice. Definitely not something that her office staff relayed to me over the phone a couple of weeks prior. Regardless, ready to move on, I told her we were good with the anatomy scan results and were not planning to pursue the fetal echo. She gave a long, detailed explanation of her lack of experience in RE medicine, but that she felt the push for echos on fetuses that demonstrated a normal 20 week anatomy scan was motivated more by RE's and Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists that are so accustomed to visualizing their patients through ultrasound that they get into a rut of thinking they need it when sometimes they don't. Fair enough. I appreciated the professional opinion and rationale rather than "the answer is no and if you don't like it, get someone else to order it for you." Both content, we went on with our usual business; a few questions, a little measuring and a couple of jokes to round out our final appointment. When she measured my fundal height, she noted that it was a little big for our dates. I asked by how much and she said "1 cm... I could call it 2, but I don't want to freak you out. It's about 1.5 over the 22 cm we're expecting." I filed it away, knowing that I had a gestational diabetes test coming up at the next appointment and secretly praying that I wasn't measuring big because I had GD making the baby larger than normal. To wrap up the appointment, she asked me who I would like to see for my next appointment. I had decided to switch to one of her partners that I had heard good things about and had great online reviews. They scheduled me for an appointment with Partner OB for 4 weeks later at the end of November, although that appointment would be scrapped before we ever even got close to Thanksgiving.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Like a Butterfly Emerging from a Cocoon

I'm alive!! This stork has not fallen off the face of the Earth, nor been run over by a bus, never to be heard from again. No, it was not some ill-fated adventure or injury that has kept me from my blog, but rather a tiny little wombmate that has been sucking all of the life energy from my entire body for the past 8 weeks.

As you may recall from my last post, we had very strong positive home pregnancy tests, and the transfer appeared to be successful. We had only transferred a single, PGD-normal, male embryo, so our dark lines on the home pregnancy tests gave us the impression that he was snuggling in nicely. Around that time, the pregnancy exhaustion hit me with full force, and has only given me a couple of reprieves since. The morning sickness came with it, although the nausea was quite predictable; arriving late-afternoon each day and hanging around until sometime into the night. I would wake each morning feeling well rested with a calm stomach, just long enough to be productive for a few hours and get some food into my system. By the time 2:00 pm rolled around, I had to close my office door for a brief siesta just to get myself through the afternoon, and any chance of productivity was shot for the day. But today is one of those blessed reprieves, so I'm taking full advantage of it to fill you all in on how things have developed over the past couple of months.

At our first blood draw 10 days past transfer, my beta-HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin - pregnancy hormone) result was 221 mIU/mL, which is a great starting number. With the goal of doubling the amount of HCG in my system every 48 hours as a healthy embryo should do, we tested again at 12 days past transfer where our result was 542 mIU/mL. Far better than doubling, this little bean was really taking off in there. The clinic scheduled the first ultrasound for the following week when the pregnancy was 5 weeks and 2 days along. Mandy, Wes and I knew that we wouldn't be able to see much on that ultrasound other than a yolk sac, as the fetal pole doesn't develop until the end of week 5 and the heart doesn't start beating until early in week 6. Much to our surprise, the bean measured 5 weeks and 4 days (2 days ahead), and had the beginning of a fetal pole forming. It was great to see we were right on track with a little overachiever on board.

Our next ultrasound was scheduled for the end of the following week when we were 6 weeks and 5 days. I was surprised when I showed up that morning with quite a flutter of nerves in my stomach. It felt like the weight of the world rested on this ultrasound and whether the bean was able to get that heart beating or not. As the sonographer lit the screen up, she immediately moved past the bean and there on the screen was the undeniable flutter of a fetal heart. My eyes leaked a little as I was so relieved and awe-inspired by the work that we had done to get that point. I immediately sent Mandy the pictures, which elicited the expected exuberance that also made my eyes leak a little. Aside from what I predict will be an amazing feeling when they hold their baby for the first time, this was one of the greatest moments of this journey. To help these wonderful people to finally be able to achieve something that they have dreamed of for so long breathed pure happiness into my soul.

The final RE ultrasound was scheduled for 8 weeks and 1 day, and again showed the bean growing like a weed, still measuring 2 days ahead. The nurse coordinator emailed me to say that everything looked perfect, that I was to transition to my OB, stop my progesterone shots that day and start progesterone suppositories for 13 days until I was 10 weeks pregnant. After 2 days of the suppositories, I was deeply regretting the switch and wishing for a nightly injection of progesterone into my backside. The suppositories caused some irritation and light spotting, as is common for many women that use them. Mandy and Wes, however, were panicked by the spotting and requested that I see the OB. I was able to get a quick view on ultrasound to let them know that the bean was still doing fine with a perfect heart rate, and we set our first regular OB appointment on the Monday after we hit 10 weeks.

The first OB appointment was great fun. Mandy and Wes are not currently stateside, so they likely won't be able to attend many appointments. Such was the case with this first one. The nurse, the OB and the staff all seemed to really enjoy having a case that's a little new and different. We joked around and had a great time, as well as running through the usual first appointment information. We got yet another peek at the bean on ultrasound, where he was still outperforming expectations. Our next appointment is set for August 31 when we'll be 14 weeks. We're now 12 weeks and 1 day, and I'm just starting to emerge from the exhaustion and nausea cocoon of the first trimester. Here's to increased energy and keeping the blog updated!

Friday, June 19, 2015

One Week Later

It's been a full week since the transfer, and things are looking good. I've been experiencing some nausea off and on, although nothing that's actually brought a meal back up, thank goodness! I'm also feeling very tired throughout the day and lacking in motivation. Both are great signs, but as any IVFer can tell you, the meds can play serious tricks on your mind by mimicking pregnancy symptoms. Waiting it out and testing is the only way to get a clear answer, which is why I have peed on a stick daily for the past three days. Here are the results:

Indeed, things are definitely looking good! Mandy and Wes are over the moon excited, and I couldn't be any happier for them. We have our first blood test on Monday, which I presume will be followed by another on Wednesday. Here's hoping this little bean is nice and comfortable and stays put for the duration.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lights, Catheter, Action!

Surrogacy can turn you into a professional wait-er. Even when there's a lot of fun stuff going on, the in-between is filled with more waiting. We're currently in one of the most difficult waits: The embryo has been deployed and everyone holds their breath until the bean signals back that it has accomplished it's implantation mission. With this being my third transfer, I am definitely handling the wait differently than I did after the first two transfers. Maybe it's the acupuncture; maybe I'm just getting older and developing a touch of the patience, but I'm really feeling a lot more zen about it, and the days are passing at a more normal speed.

Last Thursday, I packed up and flew out to the East Coast. It was a pretty easy travel day with no difficulties or delays. When I landed it was already evening, so I was able to grab a little dinner and settle into bed early for the 5 am wake up call that was coming the next morning. Although I didn't quite make it to the clinic at 6 am as planned (wrong clinic, Google!), I was able to quickly get my last pre-transfer blood work and ultrasound done, and head back to the hotel for a nice breakfast. The clinic called me back just before lunch to tell me that my labs and ultrasound looked perfect, and that we would be transferring at 1:00 pm. When I arrived, they made me comfortable in a procedure room, the acupuncturist came by to work his magic and somewhere around 2:00 pm, the RE and crew rolled in with an ultrasound machine and an incubator with this adorable little embryo. About 10 minutes later we were done and everyone rolled out as quickly as they rolled in. The acupuncturist came back to do a second round of sweet relaxation goodness, and I was out the door. The nurse gave me the usual instructions (assume you're pregnant, don't do dumb things), but I was pleasantly surprised to receive instructions for walking activity throughout the afternoon. With all of the recent research that strongly indicates that post-transfer bed rest is counterproductive, I'm very happy to be working with a clinic that is so responsive to the research data. After a leisurely afternoon of shopping and exploring the area around the hotel, it was back to bed in preparation for another full day of travel.

Saturday morning was very easy paced as well because my flight didn't leave until 1:30 pm, but I decided to get to the airport a little extra early to allow plenty of time for any TSA shenanigans that might come my way like the last time. Instead, I breezed right through security and to my gate an hour and a half before my flight time. As luck would have it, on this one isolated incident of my prompt timeliness, my flight was delayed due to a faulty aircraft. The airline had to find a different plane for us and kept pushing our flight time back until they were able to locate one. In total, we ended up being 3 hours late. To my advantage, it was a direct flight for me, so I didn't have a connection that I was missing due to the delay. I spent quite a bit of quality time with my Kindle and Hulu; thank goodness for technology.

It's now been almost 3 days since I got home; 4 days since the transfer, and we continue to wait. I have moments that I feel certain the transfer was successful, and just as many moments where I feel absolutely nothing at all. That is the true torture of the post-transfer wait. It helps to know that we'll have a clear answer in 6 days, and yet, it will only bring on another wait. This is the life of a stork, a professional wait-er.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

More Monitoring, More Results

We've progressed to pre-transfer monitoring, round 2. At this point, we are 16 days into the medication cycle and exactly a week after the last monitoring appointment. We will have one more monitoring appointment in 3 days, and then we'll transfer in a week and a half (June 12).

As with each monitoring appointment, they drew a vial of blood and did another ultrasound this morning. The things that have changed since our appointment last week are that I finished shedding old lining, the RE cut my Lupron dose down to 5 units per day instead of 10, and added oral estradiol at 1 mg twice a day. After the first three days of that change, he upped my estradiol to 2 mg twice a day. The effect that we hoped to see at this appointment was increased estradiol levels in my blood, my endometrium starting to thicken up (goal thickness at transfer is > 8 mm) while the ovaries should still be quiet (no follicles over 10 mm) and progesterone levels should still be low.

Endometrial thickness: 9.3 mm
Right ovary: 6-7 follicles < 10 mm; 0 follicles > 10 mm
Left ovary: 8-9 follicles < 10 mm; 0 follicles > 10 mm
Additional findings: Small pocket of fluid in the uterine cavity
Estradiol: 228 pg/ml
Progesterone: 0.5

Things look great. My lining is already past our goal and we have no rogue follicles trying to impede our progress, so we're in great shape. We're going to keep plugging along toward our next monitoring appointment on Friday. The RE didn't say anything about the small pocket of fluid, but I'm hoping that it'll be gone by the time we do the next ultrasound.