Some of you might remember me mentioning in my last post that I was weaning Eli so we could get ready to start the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) process (and a big ol' gold star to you if you DO remember that, because it was more than 4 months ago). So, this announcement may not be as surprising to some of you as Eli's may have been - but we're still pretty excited about it.
Anyways, I had officially weaned Eli about a week before I was scheduled to start birth control (on March 19th, for those who care). My period never ended up coming back on its own - and that's not to say it wouldn't have, if I had waited longer. But, I guess we'll never actually know. (My doctor had actually checked my uterine lining before I started BC, and said that it was still really thin - which means my period was pretty much no where in sight.) After hearing so many people try to reassure me that sometimes "all it takes" is getting pregnant once to "fix" or "reset" a broken babymaker , I think I'll always be a little curious if we would have been able to conceive #2 outside of a doctor's office, and if it would have taken very long. But I suppose we'll figure that out when it's time for #3.
But back to #2.
I was only on birth control for a few weeks (just the protocol, to "reset" the ol' uterus, I guess). And just like magic, my period showed up about 5 days after my last pill. On our wedding anniversary, no less. Because even in controlled environments, periods are unpredictable, vindictive bitches.
And if you don't care much to read about how fun this particular period was - as in we'll be talking rate of menstrual flow here - just go right on ahead and skip the next paragraph. Because, seriously, TMI for days in T minus 2 seconds.
But man almighty, was this period a special brand of evil. When I do have periods, they've always been super light. Like, I'm talking my "heaviest" day barely filled up a regular tampon. But this was the first time I had ever bled through a regular size and it was just within the span of a couple hours, to boot. I told Shawn that I was pretty sure I was dying and immediately started having PTSD flare-ups from the horrifying amounts of blood that accompanied my adventures in postpartum land last year. I felt like such a man standing in the tampon aisle, trying to figure out what size of tampon could contain ALL THE BLOOD. And, of course, I totally understand that having to use a super tampon isn't abnormal for most women, but it felt completely abnormal for me. I don't know if it was just because it was the first period I had had since pushing a tiny human out my crotch, or if I should just plan on my uterus being murdered every time shark week rolls around in the future.
Anyways. This was my cycle calendar for the month of April:
It's far less colorful than the calendar I had for Eli's IVF cycle - because like I mentioned, Frozen Embryo Transfers are a lot less complicated than fresh IVF cycles, because you already have the embryo(s), so most the work is pretty much done.
The day after my uterus assured me it wasn't pregnant I had an appointment to get some blood work done and another transvaginal ultrasound to make sure my lining and all that was in good shape to start injections. The ultrasound showed that my uterine lining was thinning out like it was supposed to, as if the blood all over their crotch wand didn't make that abundantly clear. Later that day, the nurse called me to let me know that I was okay to start my injections the next day - which I assumed meant my bloodwork came back fine. No STDs for me. Phew.
So, the injections I did with Eli were all in my stomach, but these estrogen shots (and later progesterone shots) are what they call intramuscular injections, which is a fancy way to say they go in yo ass. I watched about 700 YouTube videos of women giving themselves (or having someone else give them) butt cheek shots, to make sure I wasn't going to kill myself. I had the syringe all ready, and asked Shawn if he'd do it for me.
Naturally, he was super weird about shoving a long ass needle into my body - so I just ended up doing it myself. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had hyped it up in my mind to be. Luckily, the estrogen shots were only twice a week, and they were pretty small doses - so it wasn't too bad.
Now, when I started the daily Progesterone In Oil (PIO) shots, that's when shi got real. That stuff is thick, which makes it a lot harder to push into your tokus. The first time I did a PIO shot, I was almost instantly sore - even though I massaged the injection site and laid on a heat pad for 10 minutes after, just like they told me to. But no amount of massaging my own ass was making the butt throbbing go away. At the time, I didn't know how I was going to survive potentially an entire first trimester of daily PIO shots. Luckily as time went on, I became a Jedi master of self-injecting myself in the caboose and didn't feel like crying every time I went to sit down. That's not to say I wouldn't occasionally get huge, gnarly bruises, or have jet streams of blood squirt out the injection site from hitting a blood vessel with the needle - but I survived.
As you can see on my fancy calendar, I was supposed to start an antibiotic the week of my transfer. But of course, I managed to totally forget. So on Monday, I took a dose in the morning, and a dose at night.. Only to then realize you're supposed to take the damn things in a specific order. I wasn't super worried, but naturally a small part of me was sure that I had just effed over all chances of the cycle working at all, all because I can't read instructions. I'm not dramatic at all.
The day of my transfer finally rolled around (April 30th), and I was trying my hardest to keep my anxiety at bay. I still didn't know if the two embryos we had frozen were even going to survive being thawed. And I wouldn't know until I took a 35 minute drive to the fertility clinic, because they weren't going to thaw the embryos until right before the procedure. You know the feeling you get when your stomach lurches forward when you get a phone call from a doctor or employer or something that you've been expecting? That was pretty much how I felt on the entire drive to the office.
Luckily for me, IVF/FET protocol at my clinic dictates that everyone about to be knocked up with embryos gets a VALIUM. And I couldn't get mine soon enough. I figured that since they had me take it when we showed up, that we had to have at least one embryo waiting for us. I had told Shawn that even if neither of the embryos made it, I was still taking the pill. That shit is magical. After I took the Valium, we had to wait for a half hour before we could go back. Normally that probably would have been a pretty stress-filled half hour, but thanks to modern medicine, I felt fantastic and a little like I was slurring all my sentences.
They finally led us back to the room where all the magic happens, and our doctor came in and told us that both our embryos "thawed beautifully". I'm not sure I can adequately describe how relieving that was to hear - and I was doped up on anxiety meds. She handed us a picture of our babies, and said that they were about the same quality as Eli was as an embryo, which wasn't perfect, but good.
I laid back and put my feet in the stirrups, and within a matter of 2 minutes, I had two embryos inside of me. And I know the following picture probably doesn't mean much to most of you, but the black part is my bladder, then if you look off to the bottom left of that little green cursor, you'll see two white circle-y things - those are the embryos. Pretty cool, right?
My doctor goes on to tell me that I shouldn't be lifting anything over 20 pounds until my blood test. I was like, yeah, okay - as I glanced at my 25 pound 1 year-old that hasn't figured out the fine art of walking quite yet. I went home eager to start my "princess days", which according to my doctor didn't exactly mean bed rest, but was pretty close. She said I could still sit up, take showers, go in the car, go to a movie or out to eat - they just wanted me to stay off my feet as much as possible, because it takes blood flow away from the uterus. All I really heard was, "Go take a lot of naps and watch Netflix while someone else watches your kid." (Related: Valium naps are pretty damn epic.)
Now that I was housing a couple embryos, I was instructed to start my progesterone suppositories nightly - in addition to the daily ass cheek shots. You've heard me lovingly refer to the suppositories as waxy vag bullets. Because that's exactly what they look like. I'd take them right before bed, so when I'd wake up in the morning, I'd be met with a small gush of progesterone when I stood up. Good times.
The next few days consisted of me Googling the crap out of FET success stories, random twinges/cramps, a fever, all the farts, and being surprisingly bored without Eli and Shawn at home. While Googling, I found that, for the most part, the earliest women were getting positive pee sticks was 4 days after their transfer, which would mean that I could potentially get a positive on May 4th. So of course when Shawn asked him when I'd test, I told him Tuesday (May 5th) was the earliest I'd be able to get a positive, so that's when I'd probably do it. I've always wanted to be able to surprise him with a pregnancy, which is kind of hard to do with IVF/FET cycles. So I figured that'd give me a tiny window of maybe being able to surprise him a little bit.
Leading up to the first time I tested, I felt significantly more calm than I did with Eli. It's like Jesus sprinkled some metaphoric Valium in my life. With Eli, I was having multiple meltdowns, worrying that it wasn't going to work. And I'd imagine part of the calm I had felt this time around was due to the fact that we hadn't just spent 15 grand on the process, and that it was essentially free, thanks to the grant we won last year. And though I was still nervous for the outcome, of course - a part of me felt fairly confident that it was going to work. The timing of how everything went down just seemed way too specific for it to not work. The odds were not in our favor to win that grant. We had 4 entries in the sea of hundreds and hundreds of other entries. Had we not won the grant, we likely would've waited until Eli weaned on his own, possibly tried to get pregnant on our own for a while, and then used the frozen embryos. And who knows what or where that timeline would've gotten us.
Monday morning rolled around, and Shawn couldn't leave for work fast enough. I pretended to keep sleeping while he got ready, so he wouldn't suspect anything. I had had four dreams that night about getting a positive test, so I was dying to pee on a stick. He finally left, and I hauled tail to the bathroom. I did my business, and put the stick on the floor and didn't take my eyes off of it. My heart started to sink, as I started to see the familiar stark white where a second line should have been. But THEN, after about 2 minutes of throwing a mini pity party for myself on the toilet...
Well, of course Shawn totally effed up my plan and didn't come home before a pediatrician appointment we had for Eli that day. So we had to go pick Shawn up from work. I still put Eli in the shirt, because I was dying for Shawn to see. So we pick up Shawn, and he gets in the back seat with Eli, so he can change his clothes - and doesn't notice anything. In his defense, Eli's seatbelt buckle was covering most of the "Big Brother" part of the shirt. So the whole ride to the doctor's office I'm just dying at my husband's lack of observation. We finally get to the doctor's office, and I was sure that Shawn would notice Eli's shirt as he was getting him out of the carseat - because, hello. IT'S RIGHT THERE. But, of course, he didn't. He carries him all the way into the office, sits down and plays with him, and nothing.
At one point Shawn was like, "Why do you keep smiling at me?" And I just responded, "Because you're dumb." At this point I was worried that the doctor was going to notice before he did, so I was like, "Hey, smile, I'm gonna take a picture." Took a picture and was like, "Aww, that's cute." and handed my phone to Shawn.
He looked at the picture for a minute, then kept looking, and I knew exactly the second he finally noticed, because his lightbulb face was hilarious. He looked at me and was like, "Seriously!?" And I nodded. And It was a pretty happy, fun moment.. in the waiting room of our pediatrician's office.
After that initial pee stick, I kept peeing on sticks. You know, just to make sure they were getting darker. I even did a digital, just for the hell of it. And because, who needs money?
And I kept peeing on them...
Yeah, I know. I'm ridiculous. But, hey. I'm ridiculous and pregnant. And for all the inquiring minds, I've put together a mini FAQ section for you. Because, as we all know, people tend to ask the same exact questions every. single. time.
So, is there one or two babies in there?
The good Lord blessed us with ONE baby. Twins certainly would have been a blessing - but an extremely exhausting blessing, so we're pretty happy with the one.
How far along are you?
As of today, July 7th, I'm 12 weeks and 3 days.
When are you due?
January 16, 2016.
Are you hoping for a girl or a boy?
As long as it's one or the other, I'd be happy either way. But for the sake of answering the question: I have different reasons for wanting either gender, but I think I'm secretly rooting for a girl. When I was pregnant with Eli, I'd always refer to him as a "he" before we knew the gender - and I find myself referring to this baby as a "she" more often than not. It would be comforting to know that if, heaven forbid, we're not able to have any more biological children, we'd have our boy and girl.
How have you been feeling?
In the beginning I felt EXTREMELY exhausted and tired all. the. time. Every ounce of energy was completely zapped from my system, and it was beyond frustrating. I started getting pretty nauseated all day long around week 6, and it continued pretty full force until about week 9. And the bloat. Holy hell, the bloat. I LOOKED pregnant at 6 weeks. (I'm still going through a pretty awkward "is she chubby or pregnant" stage at the moment.) Those are really my biggest complaints, as they were all so much worse than what I remember feeling with Eli.
I still get nauseated randomly - like when I eat certain meat, or when I change an especially disgusting diaper, but it's not nearly as bad as it was to begin with. And my energy is finally starting to come back, so like, my house is cleaner and my kid isn't as neglected. So, there's that.
Is the heat killing you?
One million times yes.
Have you had any cravings?
You mean aside from the things I'm NOT supposed to eat? Pretty much just anything cold. Popsicles, especially.
Are you still on medications?
Nope! They let me stop taking the shots and vag bullets at 10 weeks - and it's been pretty amazing. (Aside from my butt still TOTALLY itching from where I did the shots.)
Anyways. We're obviously pretty thrilled that this has all worked out for us. We feel extremely blessed to have this bit of good news amidst an especially hard time for our family. We'll have two kids under 2 for a few months, so it should definitely be interesting. And Eli, well, he'll come around.