Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Tweedles are great! Thanks for your support!

Sorry for not updating lately... between being tired and busy the days have flown by. Last Thursday was our second ultrasound - the day we would hear our babies heartbeats - was a HUGE milestone in my mind. In looking back, as long of a road as infertility has been, today showed me that pregnancy presents itself with an entirely new set of concerns and worries. I feel blessed to be given even a chance to have those worries and struggles, just as I eventually became grateful for the very same trials we underwent as we were trying to conceive. Which brings me to my next thought...

I've decided it's time to retire this blog. It is devoted to a chapter which, while I'll certainly never forget, be ashamed of, or regret, is still merely the first of many chapters for myself and our family. This has been a wonderful outlet for me to journal the many months of struggle - all of the things I learned, experienced, felt - and also a way for me to hopefully help at least one other person who is going through a similar experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support I received as well... something I really didn't even expect going into this. You have all be so wonderful and your kind words and prayer have meant so much over these past months. Thank you for every bit of care, concern and excitement you've shown.

On that note, I also want to transition this blog to another out of respect. I know that many of you who subscribe, or will come across this in the future, are still on your own journey in TTC and I know how hard it can be to see a "pregnancy" update. There are some days when that wasn't a problem for me personally while we were TTC, but there were other days when I wanted to unsubscribe because it was just too much to handle. I think that so many of us can relate to this awkward time of when an IF friend gets her BFP. Tears of joy and sadness are sometimes almost equal. Please know that I understand that and, honestly, this time, while wonderful, has also been hard for that exact reason. Again, I can't say thank you enough for being there for me all these months.

If you would still like to get updates on how our babies are doing, we invite you to visit our new blog - subscribe or just drop in whenever you feel comfortable. We look forward to journaling about this next chapter of our lives and sharing it with all of our family and friends!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Holy cow. We're having twins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shock and awe.
Complete and utter amazement.

Is this really happening?!?! Yes, I do believe it is. :-)
Two gestational sacs, two yolk sacs confirmed.
We go in next Thurs, Sept 10 for our second ultrasound and to see the Tweedle's heartbeats!!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Anxiously awaiting our first US!

Tuesday, Sept 1st, is "the" day!! I am both more excited that I can ever imagine being AND equally just as scared to lay eyes on that ultrasound screen.

Let's not elaborate on that last part though. I mean, really. At this point that does no one a bit of good. I'm staying positive and focused on the fact that a Tweedle, or two, have by now camped out very nicely, deep inside my lining and are leasing my uterus for the next 8+ months. I'm also very excited that the official countdown to holding baby(ies) has already begun!!

What we might see!
On Tuesday, I will be 5 days and 4 weeks along. I believe Dr. Ahlering will be performing an internal ultrasound, so that he can see as many teenie tiny details as possible. Let's face it. At this point, teenie tiny is pretty much all that would even exist. I was amazed that the book my mom just gave me on pregnancy said the baby would be about the size of a the letter "o" in the book, or that of a mustard seed, currently.

I am fascinated about what we might expect to see at this point, so I did a little googling (surprise, surprise :P) and found a smattering of things. As states, "The gestational sac(s) is often the first thing that most transvaginal ultrasounds can detect at about 5 weeks. This is seen before a recognizable embryo can be seen. Within this week, at about week 5 ½ to the beginning of the 6th week, a yolk sac can be seen inside the gestational sac. The yolk sac will be the earliest source of nutrients for the developing fetus."

Details on each of these, and more, is outlined below - all taken from this site, which I found to be a wonderful resource! Usually I summarize my sources, but it was all so interesting! (to me anyway!)

Gestational Sac: The gestational sac is the earliest sonographic finding in pregnancy. The gestational sac appears as an echogenic (bright echoes) ring surrounding a sonolucent (clear) center. The gestational sac does not correspond to specific anatomic structures, but is an ultrasonic finding characteristic of early pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can also have a gestational sac identified with ultrasound, even though the pregnancy is not within the endometrial cavity. The gestational sac first appears at about 4 weeks gestational age, and grows at a rate of about 1 mm a day through the 9th week of pregnancy.

Twins?: Twins and other multiple gestations can usually be identified fairly early in pregnancy. They may be seen with two separate gestational sacs (diamniotic, dichorionic twins). They may be seen as two fetal poles occupying the same gestational sac (monochorionic twins). It is useful to identify twins early as the prognosis varies, depending on the chorionicity and amnionicity of the twins. A "vanishing twin" occurs in about 20% of twin pregnancies. In these cases, one of the twins fails to grow and thrive. Instead, its development arrests and it is reabsorbed, with no evidence at delivery of the twin pregnancy. It will prove useful to advise patients of this phenomenon who are found to have twins early in pregnancy.

Yolk Sac: As the pregnancy advances, the next structure to become visible to ultrasound is the yolk sac. This is a round, sonolucent structure with a bright rim. The yolk sac first appears during the fifth week of pregnancy and grows to be no larger than 6 mm. Yolk sacs larger than 6 mm are usually indicative of an abnormal pregnancy. Failure to identify (with transvaginal ultrasound) a yolk sac when the gestational sac has grown to 12 mm is also usually indicative of a failed pregnancy. Yolk sacs that are moving within the gestational sac ("floating"), contain echogenic material (rather than sonolucent), or are gross misshapen are ominous findings for the pregnancy.

Fetal Heart Beat: Using endovaginal scanning, fetal cardiac activity is often seen even before a fetal cell mass can be identified. The fetal cardiac muscle begins its' rhythmic contractions, and that rhythmic motion can be seen along the edge of the yolk sac. Initially, the fetal cardiac motion has a slower rate (60-90 BPM), but cardiac rate increases as the fetus develops further. Thus, for these early pregnancies, the actual cardiac rate is less important that its presence or absence. Sometimes, with normal pregnancies, the fetal heartbeat is not visible until a fetal pole of up to 4 mm in length is seen. Failure to identify fetal cardiac activity in a fetus whose overall length is greater than 4 mm is an ominous sign. It can sometimes be difficult identifying a fetal heartbeat from the background movement and maternal pulsations. You may find it useful in these cases to scan with one hand while taking the maternal pulse with the other. This makes it easier to identify sonographic movements that are dyssynchronous with the maternal pulse.

Fetal Pole: A mass of fetal cells, separate from the yolk sac, first becomes apparent on transvaginal ultrasound just after the 6th week of gestation. This mass of cells is known as the fetal pole. It is the fetus in its somite stage. Usually you can identify rhythmic fetal cardiac movement within the fetal pole, although it may need to grow several mm before this is apparent. The fetal pole grows at a rate of about 1 mm a day, starting at the 6th week of gestational age. Thus, a simple way to "date" an early pregnancy is to add the length of the fetus (in mm) to 6 weeks. Using this method, a fetal pole measuring 5 mm would have a gestational age of 6 weeks and 5 days.

Crown Rump Length: This term is borrowed from the early 20th century embryologists who found that preserved specimens of early miscarriages assumed a "sitting in the chair" posture in both formalin and alcohol. This posture made the measurement of head-to-toe length impossible. Instead, they subsituted the head-to-butt length (crown rump length) as a reproducible method of measuring the fetus. Early ultrasonographers used this term (CRL) because early fetuses also adopted the sitting in the chair posture in early pregnancy. Today, the crown rump length is a universally recognized term, very useful for measuring early pregnancies. The CRL is highly reproducible and is the single most accurate measure of gestational age. After 12 weeks, the accuracy of CRL in predicting gestational age diminishes and is replaced by measurement of the fetal biparietal diameter. In at least some respects, the term "crown rump length" is misleading, because during much of the first trimester, there is no fetal crown and no fetal rump to measure.

Symptoms few, but still present
I woke up Friday morning to a bit of spotting. This was the second occurrence of this, actually, but the first time it was so tiny it wasn't worth mentioning. This go-around, I wasn't super freaked out about it, but obviously a little concerned. It was just enough to tinge the Endometrin discharge that occurs, but nothing more, and it didn't continue throughout the day, nor did I experience any serious cramping. Although, I did wake up to some type of cramping in the middle of the night. It's not unusual for me to get up one to two times each night to pee (good thing I can easily fall back to sleep, right now anyway), but this night I woke up to a bit of either cramping or maybe what were slight uterine contractions. Either way, it was somewhat noticeable, but seemed to go away after I went the bathroom and lied back down. As for tonight, I have been having some mild pinching in my uterus again, which I'm taking as a way for the baby(ies) to let me know they're in there, growing away!

Looking forward to delivering some more good news soon! Please pray that our baby(ies) are cooking away and growing at a healthy rate for a very young 5 weeks, 4 days of age! Thanks again, everyone, for the many congrats and well wishes. We have loved each and every one of them and are still so very thankful for all of your kindness!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We're pregnant!!!

Praise God for all of the wonderful things HE does!

He has big plans for this baby or babies!! The journey we've traveled to get to this point is so fresh and real, but I know there is a reason for it all. I am so very thankful he has heard our prayers and will keep praying for a healthy pregnancy. This is by no means over - we've only just begun another chapter. In fact, I suppose you could say we're not even out of the woods yet with infertility, but I just need to take some time to be thankful for how far we've come and to have faith that He will get us through this next stage safely.

Our 1st beta (5dp6dt) on Tuesday was 21 which was great. At this point, they said they look for it to be 5 or greater. Our second beta (7dp6dt) was today and it was 69!! They were looking for it to at least double, so we're right on track! Our due date, as of now, is April 30, 2010, right near my husband's birthday!

Being truthful, we actually knew we were pregnant yesterday. I know, I know. We weren't going to try and find out until our second beta. And, technically, we didn't. Instead, the information was blurted out without us asking. I had e-mailed the clinic yesterday afternoon asking them if we could call them to get the results today, instead of them call us. I don't think she really read my e-mail, so Jay had to call to get it straightened out. He no more than finished explaining that we wanted to find out "together" and that's why we wanted to call, and she said "your first beta was 21! you're without-a-doubt pregnant!" Yeah, crazy huh! I thought that she might have said something and asked him if she did. He called me on my lunch and said "yeah, she just blurted it out. want to know?"

Want to know? Umm... yeah! (boys and their silly questions!)

Anyway, that's when I lost it. Totally cryin like a baby.

Especially considering that earlier in the day I had been on my clinic's message board, watching the other ladies report their 1st beta and while I was SUPER happy they were getting positives already, I could only think that it made our chances just a wee bit less. I know that it was a dumb thing to think and that I shouldn't have allowed myself to go there, but I guess I couldn't help myself at the time. Needless to say, the fact that we ended up getting the news yesterday after all actually worked out nicely to ease my mind. And, this morning, I did a digital HPT that came out "pregnant"! That REALLY made me happy.

Other than the fact that I wish I could have been with Jay when we got the first bit of news, vs over the phone, I thought it was super cute that, after I got back to work, he had sent me an e-mail that said "my stomach's churning and my hands are shaking... still... hours later". :D I'll never forget the night before yesterday when when we're lying in bed and he says to me, as matter of fact as can be, "I'm ready to be a daddy". So precious! I'm sooo very thankful that is now going to be a reality!

Thank you, thank you for all the prayers. I know God heard each and every one of them. I would be beyond thankful if you continued to pray for a healthy pregnancy. Our first ultrasound will be Tuesday, Sept 1st at 11:30. We should be able to confirm one or two babies at that time, and we might even (if we're lucky) get to hear the heartbeat. Goodness, maybe it will REALLY set in then!

One more thing and them I promise I'm done... :) perhaps it's me making things up, but I swear I've noticed "symptoms", which as been really awesome that I can already connect with our baby(ies) in this way. Here are all of the things that have seemed "different" to me.

Sunday (3dp6dt): Subtle pinches in uterus - 1 x in the afternoon about a series of 6 about 2-3 seconds apart and then again in the evening while lying in bed.

Monday: WAY more hungry than normal. Ha, probably just me on this one, but great that I might already be able to "blame" it on the baby(ies). lol.

Tuesday (5dp6dt): First beta drawn at 8am. Result - 21! Pinches in uterus again when I woke up, this time a bit stronger and more obvious; by the evening, a slight bit of heaviness like AF, but very subtle.

Wednesday: By late afternoon into evening, heaviness like AF coming on - not as strong as a typical AF start, but still similar. Some minor AF-like cramping in the PM too.

Thursday (3dp6dt): Second beta drawn at 8am. Result - 69!!! I am officially 3 weeks and 6 days along (This site is great for figuring that out, by the way. You just enter in your ER date [mine was 8/7/09] and it tells you TONS of stuff). So far, this afternoon I've felt some of the heaviness again and more subtle cramping. Nothing severe, but noticeable.

I know I'm fortunate to have never miscarried (my heart goes out to all that have, I can't even imagine) and that I definitely am looking at these "symptoms" in such a different light. For now, I am going to continue to let myself enjoy each and every thing about this pregnancy and try to stay as positive as possible, for us and for our baby(ies), of course!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We're nearly half way there!

I have a confession: I've been thinking about my little embabies today. A lot, actually.

How are they? What are the up to? Are they getting enough nutrients? Are they too hot? Too cold? Yes, I am totally "momming" these babies already!

Someone on my clinic's forum posted a little embryo development outline, which I now find super comforting to check every day and to stop and think about the fact that our babies could be doing that very thing. Have a look-see...

This is what happens in a 5 day transfer (dt), though I have a feeling this would still apply to our 6 day transfer, since the development rate is equal to a 5dt.

-1dpt ..embryo is growing and developing
0dpt... Embryo is now a blastocyst
1dpt....Blastocyst hatches out of shell on this day
2dpt...Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
3dpt (today).. Implantation begins, as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining
4dpt...Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
5dpt... (1st beta) Morula is completely implanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
6dpt...Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
7dpt...(2nd beta) More HCG is produced as fetus develops

Yes, today our Tweedles were busy implanting! Go babies go!! I was thrilled when I discovered this because this afternoon as I was sitting in the recliner, watching one of the cutest movies ever (Matilda) and trying to catch up on some design work, I swear I felt the most mild pinches in my uterus. About six or so of them within a couple seconds of each other. My heart is so content to connect this with implantation, so I'm not going to fight it!

Besides that, I can't say I've felt any other "symptoms". However, as of today, all of the pain associated with ER is finally gone. Thank goodness! No more soreness when I urinate, walk around or sit. Still a little bloated in the tummy and I still have "love handles". :-) ER caused me to develop a very *nice* figure, very quickly that freaked me out a bit. Let's just say I pretty much looked about 3 months pregnant. I don't mind this at all if we get the news we're praying for on Thursday. Otherwise, me and ol' love handles are going to have to talk. ;-)

As today draws near a close, I feel fortunate to have had almost four days of little stress and to-dos post transfer. My parents and my mother-in-law came to visit on yesterday, which was sooo wonderful. Good to see them all, but also a lifesaver because it kept my mind off things. That can go SUCH a long way in times like these. My hope is that this next week back at work will be a good distration as well. Praying for no stress, but we all know how that goes when you take a few days off.

As always, thank you to everyone for your continued prayers. I find a great deal of comfort in knowing there are so many of you who genuinely care about and are praying for us and these little ones. Many of you, as my Mom reminded me yesterday, who I've never even had the privelage to meet. The fact that you all keep up with our journey to the extent you do is just amazing and extremely appreciated. We need as many cheerleaders as we can get!

Let's go Tweedles! Stick, stick, stick!

Friday, August 14, 2009

No frozen embabies :- (

We just found out that out of the other 6 embryos that were grade 3 yesterday (which was day 6 of embryo development), NONE of them matured any farther and therefore could not be frozen.

That's right. We had a ridiculous number of eggs retrieved, thought nothing could touch us for a mere moment and now everything is riding on the two embryos that are inside me right now.

I know it only takes one to make a baby. I know that God can work miracles.

I pray that *that* miracle is had in this fresh cycle. My heart is trying to stay positive. I have to be positive. At the same time, I am openly admitting that, in the back of my mind, I wonder if these two little ones will make it, seeing as how all of their other siblings around them didn't. It just isn't a good sign to me that our grade 1, day 5 embie dropped off and all of those other grade 3s didn't perk up. Given our age, this just doesn't rest well with me.

Having said that, I am not going to try to think too hard about it over this next week. There will be plenty of time to over-analyze the "what-went-wrongs" if we find out this cycle didn't work.

Please, please continue to keep us in your prayers. We are far from out of the woods and our hearts are VERY much still wrapped up in this cycle. Wrapped up in the hope that we might be expecting 9 months from now, right around the day my husband was born.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I introduce to you: Our little tweedles!

We made it!
Two embabies are nested all snuggly inside me
and I couldn't be more happy!!

We got the call this AM telling us we should be there at 10:30. Overall, it was super quick and simple. Undress from the waist down, climb onto the table, legs in stirrups, ultrasound on belly, speculum, catheter, babies in pipette... that's where it got really interesting! We were in awe as we watched Dr. Ahlering find the *perfect* spot in my endometrial lining (which he said looked great) and then a little "woosh!" on the ultrasound screen as he released each one into their new home. It was AMAZING!!

There was a bit of discomfort when he was digging into my lining so that he could burry them nice and deep, but It wasn't any more than a mild period cramp. Perfectly managable and worth it! What was probably the toughest was fighting off the tears as we watched everything unfold. I could feel them welling up, but I refused to get all worked up and not be able to see each and every move he was making on the screen. When we were finished, they moved me to a cot and wheeled me back into the recovery room to lie for 30 minutes, wheeled me out the car and that was that. Transfer was here and gone before we could blink an eye.

The SIRM ladies were so sweet today. Penny, the woman who called us yesterday with our news, called today regarding the transfer and asked how I was doing. You could honestly tell she felt concerned about the whole thing. Then, the woman who wheeled me out the the car gave me a big hug as she told me they were all sending us good thoughts going into next week. I have always felt so good about dealing with that office and, even though during the fertilization process I wish they would have been more forthcoming with info prior to it being requested, they have always been very sensitive, timely and respectful. I'm so happy we decided to go with them and am extremely thankful we have made it this far. Feeling very positive going into our beta countdown!

The final details on the blasts they transfered is that they were both grade 2 blasts - one was fully expanded and the other way in the pre-expansion stage. Of course, in my mind they are perfect in every way - see the top-most pic! Our little "tweedles" as Jay has us referring to them. I just think that's so cute! I've modified the previous names a little though. One is tweedle and the other tweedle dee. I just can't have my kids being referred to as "dum".

I just found some info on our little tweedles (ok ok, embryos) that I thought was very neat. According to this site, "Keeping the embryos in the laboratory for almost a week, allows us to observe them growing through the morula and blastocyst stages. The cells compact together to form a morula, and then begin to pump fluid to the center of the morula forming a cyst. As the cyst inflates with fluid, the cells of the embryo organize themselves into 2 distinct groups. The inner cells are the first cells of the fetus, and the outer cells will become the placenta. (neato!) The size of the embryo increases as more and more fluid is pumped into the cyst, and the blastocyst bursts out of its shell. (Our are expanding and will be getting ready to hatch out of their shell soon!) Once out of the shell, it is ready to implant in the uterus."

The other is a pic of them both nestled tightly in my uterus. This one is just too cool to me! The embies are the little white blobs (as indicated by the arrows) and the dotted line represents my endometrial lining. The lining one is a bit harder for me to wrap my head around, but as Jay said, it's the perspective that's throwing me off. Anyway, if the doc knows what he's seeing, then I belive it!

We are still waiting to hear about the fate of our other embryos. As of this AM, Dr. Ahlering spoke with the embryologist who said that our grade 1 blast did arrest and is no longer with us, exactly what they were thinking might happen because it was compacted, and the others (not sure how many at this point) are still growing . They want to watch them the rest of the day to see how much more they mature. Only then will we know how many, if any, we have to freeze. I am trying not to get my hopes to high, but of course it would be wonderful if we had at least two to freeze. Don't get me wrong though, I am thrilled about today's blasts. To make it to transfer is something I will never take for granted. So many things had to line up perfectly in order to even get to this point! As so many of you have pointed out (thank you so, so much by the way!), the grade of our blasts aren't a very good indicator of the possbilities. It's a human's guesstimation and that's about it. As far as we are concerned, I am pregnant until proven otherwise. That should be more than enough to get me at least half way to my beta ;)

Our first beta (HCG blood draw) is next Tuesday, 8/18; our second which will confirm pregnancy is Thursday, 8/20. At SIRM-St. Louis their practice is to not notify patients of the outcome of the first beta. The thought is that it's not really a perfect, or totally accurate, indicator of a BFP. However, the second is. It should, ideally, double from the first number. The paperwork said that we could inquire about the first number if we wanted to know, but I think we'll probably just wait.

We'll also wait on the HPT tests. I don't want to get my body all tied up in a knot if I can help it. And, really, the second beta is just one week from today. That's really not that long at all. Afterall, we've waited SOOO long to get to this point. In retrospect, this is a piece of cake!

As for me, it's total bedrest. I'm laid up on the couch, laptop and tv close by until mid-day tomorrow. Dr. A said that the minimal discomfort I'm feeling down low still from the ER is normal. My ovary still looks fairly enlarged, but there is no extra cause for OHSS alarm, especially since I'm not really having any other symptoms. It could get a bit worse if we get a BFP, but all is on track for now. I was very happy to hear that.

Now, let the dreams and big plans begin! Trying not to get too excited, of course, but how can you not let yourself be just a *little* bit happy!!

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