IVF, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

FIVE!

I just got the call from Lili, wasn’t expecting it until Friday!

I HAVE FIVE NORMAL EMBRYOS!

I’m so thrilled. I’m sitting at my desk at the office popping out of my skin I’m so happy.

There’s a clear front runner although they all have excellent grading. I asked her to black out the genders before sending the report, which she did, and of course there’s little edges of Xs and Ys sticking out from under the black ink and I’m trying hard not to examine this too closely. 🙂

I chose to not learn the genders yet. The cool thing is that I can find out whenever I want, I just have to call Lili because it’s all on file!

Today is also Day 1 as AF arrived last night. Waiting for my frozen embryo transfer (FET) calendar from Olga and then we’ll be on our way for reals.

So so so very much gratitude over here. Thanks today go to my body, Mother Nature, and the little spirit waiting to be born. We’re almost there.

See you soon, beautiful embie #1. ❤

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anxiety, donor sperm, fertility, IVF, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

Day 5/6

Just got the call after a loooong day of waiting!!!!!

  • 7 embryos biopsied and frozen on Day 5
  • 2 embryos biopsied and frozen on Day 6

NINE embryos  made it to the day 5/6 finish line as blastocysts and all are tucked safe and sound in their freezer! I have the grading worksheet and Lili says 6 are “amazing” and 3 are “good.” As mentioned before, the grading doesn’t reflect normal vs. abnormal, so we take it with a grain of salt anyway. But it can’t hurt that they’re good looking. 🙂

Biopsies go out for genetic testing tomorrow, and Lili will call me with those results by the end of next week.

Now I get a break–no news, no injections, no decisions, no stress, no phone calls, no appointments. Still recovering and tired from the retrieval (and the stress) but once I’m 100% things are going to get back to normal around here!

So happy and grateful and excited for all of this and feeling like those 9 embies are the beautiful fruits of our labor: me, McPiercy, UCSF, and my wonderful support team: you.

Hopeful that one of those  is my little person-to-be.

anxiety, fertility, IVF, outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

Day 3

Yesterday, I was on pins and needles all day, fretting about the phone call and possibility of transfer on a dime. I stayed out of the house, keeping myself occupied from morning till night: I went to PA for coffee with A and her sweet 3-week-old baby L, then to SJ to visit L and her 3 kids plus 2 visiting to chat on the sidelines of her 6yo’s soccer game, then a walk and Salvadoran dinner with B–much processing and discussion and if-then scenarios. I’m lucky to have such great friends who are willing to hear me out when I am in that talk-it-out mode: thank you.

After several early-morning hours of online research to try to prepare to make an on-the-spot decision, the phone rang at 9:05am.

The nurse said she had really good news: you meet criteria to push to Day 5! (turns out the doc’s criteria was 8 embies of good quality).

Upon looking up the details, she clarified that in fact I still have 16 embies growing and thriving! No transfer today!

Dr. Tran called an hour later, also “very pleased,” and with a more qualified report: 13 look really good, 2 are average, and 1 is lagging. He also reminded me that grading is like judging a book by its cover: it doesn’t tell you the substance. Which is why I am so happy to be able to do PGS (Pre-implantation Genetic Screening) to tell us which ones have a normal chromosome count. We’re still taking it step by step. Which is why we’re not really celebrating yet; he said, “Congratulations, so far!”

I’ll get a call on Wed to say how many were biopsied and frozen. Genetic screening results about 7-10 days later. Frozen embryo transfer in about a month.

There’s still a long road ahead but the news couldn’t be better today, and for that I’m grateful. And I have my body back: no more injections or appointments for a while. Somebody get me a cocktail 🙂

 

donor sperm, fertility, IVF, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

fert report

Your love and positive fertility vibes worked: Dr. Tran called with good news!

  • All 18 eggs were mature
  • 17 eggs fertililzed
  • 16 eggs fertilized normally

He will call back on Day 3 (Sunday) and we’ll discuss whether to push to Day 5. So far, so good.

Full of hope for my 16 embies and gratitude for McPiercy’s winning contribution.

Thanks for keeping the love and growing energy flowing to Sutter and Divis!

anxiety, family, IVF, meditation, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

retrieval

Thanks, B, for your beautiful guest post. Thanks for keeping my grounding cord plugged into the center of the earth while the nurse was digging around for a vein on my hand to start the IV. And for reminding me to meditate when I had the chance. And for taking me to Whole Foods afterward. And for still being here in my apartment on work calls while I’m on the couch. So glad you could be there today and I love you, too!

This morning went very smoothly. I felt anxious–not about the procedure but about the numbers. I had slept fitfully, dreaming of accidentally eating and having the hospital tell me I’d have to come back the next day. I was sleepy, dehydrated, hungry. But it was a gorgeous morning, and my sister texted me, “Ready to rock.” She walked out of her house with both arms in the air in a victory pose. She seriously brings the positive!

We checked in, gown, hairnet, IV. The anesthesiologist was very enthusiastic and acted like I was an overachiever for having a good heartbeat and no obstructions in my airways. She said I’d go into deep sedation and if I was too conscious I could ask to go deeper.

They led me into the room, kept dim for the eggs and embryos which do not like the light. I laid down with my legs up on knee stirrups and the nurses said they liked my striped knee socks. I told them that they were from my other sister, the one not waiting outside but on the other side of the country, so I had my sisters represented. They thought that made sense on such a “good luck-y” kind of day.

The anesthesiologist had me confirm my name, birthday, why I was there, and any allergies to meds, and then I felt a warmth start in the center of my body and spread outward. She said the next one would be spicy going into the vein, which it was, but the next thing that happened was total sleep.

I woke up maybe 45 mins later feeling velvety. I asked the nurse how many they got and she said 18. I didn’t really process or believe it, given my hazy state of mind. I asked maybe one, maybe two more times. 18. Eventually, after some apple juice and crackers, I got up and went to the bathroom and had a big 18 written on my palm. So, 18! A big upgrade from the 12-13 forecast on the phone by Dr. Tran yesterday.

Tomorrow, I’ll get the fertilization report and will talk to Dr. T. about our next steps–all my options are open.

The eggs are being fertilized RIGHT NOW. Please send love over at Sutter and Divisadero!

I came home and the tulips had bloomed. xo

tulips

family, IVF, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

Guest blogger: my sister B

My sister B came with me to the retrieval this morning and I asked her if she wanted to do a guest blog post. Here it is!

“Family is the most important thing,” I find myself saying to friends, colleagues and even strangers, on a regular basis in all sorts of contexts.  No question.   It was an honor to be with my sister K today for her retrieval, and to be the first guest blogger on solo mama project!

When she asked me to be there for her today I did not hesitate.  Yes, I gained clarity and conviction in making family a major priority in my life and schedule several years ago, however my strong drive to support K is as much a testament to her unwavering conviction and drive to create a family of her own.

One year ago we sat by a pond at the SF Botanical Gardens brainstorming on a name for her blog.  Her choice to write and express her feelings and her journey has been such a wonderful gift to herself and to us all.   What a journey the past year has been!  K has taught us all so much in the past year about perseverance, passion, and community.

She sat in the comfy chair at the clinic, with a hairnet and hospital gown, covered in a warm blanket, looking up at the nurse.  The nurse put the thermometer under her tongue and K kept her eyes on the nurse with gentle obedience.  She looked so much like a child and I felt a wave of emotion rise in my throat.  I took a breath and cherished the moment.  Her vulnerability was so beautiful and childlike.  She is laying it all on the line for her dream and she has been every day for the past year!

What are you willing to risk it all for?  What are you willing to challenge your emotional limits to create?  What are you willing to share with your community?

I am confident that K will become a parent, somehow some way.  Thank you to each and every one of you who is reading this blog, cheering her on and loving her every step of the way.  I speak on behalf of my whole family by saying that your words of encouragement, calls, texts and emails have meant the world to K and to all of us.

The details of our lives are different yet there is a “solo” in all of our “projects,” and journeys.  Whether we have several parents or one, several siblings or none, or a partner or none.  No matter what our lives look like there is a community, a world, of love and support when we open up to it.  K, thank you for following your dream.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for sharing the journey with us.  I love you.  Family is the most important thing.

– K’s youngest sister B

anxiety, family, fertility, IVF, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

trigger!

At this morning’s appointment, I learned that my biggest follies had jumped from 15-16mm to 20-22mm and my estrogen jumped from 2900 to 3500. Which is a lot. The docs say that’s why they check every day at this point, and I’m “ready to go.” I watched my giant follies on the screen, exponentially bigger than when we started, and all snuggled up together. Hi, girls!

Of course, I can’t tell you how many, because I was pointedly not counting. I’d say there are “plenty.” I told my mom today that I think my total letting go of obsessively tracking data was purely a survival strategy for staying sane. It’s working.

I told Dr. Fujimoto, “Long time, no see!” and he said, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this!” I’ve seen him the last 4 days. He will do my retrieval, because Dr. Tran has a conflicting appointment. I requested Dr. T. just because he said he would try to be there if he could, but I feel fine about Dr. F. Everyone says I’m in good hands, and I believe it.

Afterward, I drank some ginger tea with two nurses in the hallway, Nurse Stephanie came in and said hi as she walked by, and Maria gave me two hugs and wished me luck because she’s taking Thursday off. I seriously feel like I work there.

Next, I went through all the trigger and surgery paperwork with another nurse, Jackie. Different protocol for tonight: Lupron between 6-7pm (check) and at 10:15pm, exactly 36 hours before my retrieval, I’ll do my HCG shot with Follistim co-trigger.

Hard to believe that tomorrow I have neither a morning appointment nor any injections. And I get to see Annie and Sam Lamott on retrieval eve with my friend C! So perfect! (PS no one took me up on the free ticket giveaway, so I invited C who secretly wanted to go!)

Thursday, my sister will come with me for my 10:15am appointment. After that, rest. And really no running for a little while. My ovaries will take a while to go back down to normal size. Fert report: Friday.

I bought some bright pink tulips that were all closed up the other day, a visual reminder of my blooming ovaries. They are also looking just about “ready to go.”

I feel proud to have made it to this point. “Homestretch,” says B.

acupuncture, anxiety, family, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

numbers

I think I’ve been avoiding writing, just like I sometimes avoid meditating–with anxiety following me around like a shadow, not wanting it to catch up.

What you need to know is that everything is going fine.

What’s going on behind the scenes is that I’m getting information every other day, and now every day, on my estrogen level and number and measurements of my growing follicles. And I’ve had to consciously back down from a) trying to be an overachiever, b) interpreting, c) doing math, and d) obsessing about the numbers as if it will help me control the final outcome. It won’t. You also need to understand that the numbers at this point are almost irrelevant–you can have dozens of follicles and only a few mature eggs. You could also have only a few follicles but one mature egg that results in a healthy singleton. And everything in between.

At the first appointment, I didn’t know what to expect. This is a vulnerable place.  I felt like the doctors had grim expressions and were disappointed in my number of follicles, which was around 13. It should be noted that they didn’t say anything (at all) to this effect, but when I walked out I felt like a failure and spent the day on the edge of tears. I texted B that I was spiraling and she said, “Don’t interpret. It’s too early to do that and trust your doctors–let them do the work.”

I went to acupuncture the following night and emerged so deeply drained. I asked him if he’d done anything differently than usual, and he said that when you’re that stressed, it’s a long journey to get back to your baseline.

For the second appointment, I brought my sister, who kept me plugged into the irrelevance of the numbers in the short term. Bringing my sis got the docs’ attention and suddenly Dr. Rosen seemed to realize that I was stuck on the anxiety channel and needed strong reassurances–and he gave them to me throughout the appointment. Everything looks really good, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, see here on the monitor? Everything is growing, that’s what we want. Don’t worry, you’re doing great, it looks really good. I wanted to celebrate, but my helpful sister reminded me that just like we wouldn’t get destroyed by numbers now, we’re also not going to celebrate. But I did feel way better. My acupuncturist confirmed that my pulse conveyed a much lower stress level the following night (another zapping session, though–afterward, I went home, ate pizza, and fell asleep at 7pm).

At the third appointment, on Saturday, I went alone. Different docs this time, and I didn’t even try to track the measurement of every follicle or do math in my head. I let go, just letting them take over, maybe finally realizing that, no matter what, it will be what it will be. There’s nothing to adjust, except my dosage of meds, which is totally up to Dr. Tran and he hasn’t changed anything since I started. I’m doing everything right, according to Dr. Rosen. All we can do is see how this cycle turns out and have faith that my baby is in there.

I did a pretty good job of letting go on Saturday but I also just happened to be in a terrible mood. I felt like crying about everything, couldn’t bring myself to do the dishes from Tuesday, etc. Still, I managed to finish my taxes AND do laundry, so why I didn’t feel my afternoon was a record-breaking success should be blamed on the hormones. I felt sad and lonely and stuck.

At around 4:45pm, I threw on my running clothes and drove out to Ocean Beach. As I sat in my car getting ready to run, a hurricane-like wind threatened to lift my car into the air. I opened the door and it swung open so hard I thought it may have been damaged. Stepping out into the gale force, I thought YES THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED and began my run along the boardwalk.

I almost couldn’t run straight it was so windy. Specks of sand blasted onto my bare skin, stinging. PERFECT. Despite its ponytail anchor, my hat flew off. Then my hat flew off again. Then it flew off AGAIN. I found myself screaming into the wind FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER and suddenly woke up to my storm-like emotions. I actually started laughing.

Holding my hat in my hand, I continued up the boardwalk with my hair whipping around my face, forming a frenetic, lion-like frizz. I ran up the hill, past the Cliff House, and turning inland into Lands End, where the wind became a mild breeze, the golden afternoon sunlight at an angle that melts my heart.

I needed that. I kept thinking, “This is my natural Paxil.”

Today, after 9 hours of sleep, I woke up better. A gloriously clear day. I picked up my friend C who graciously offered to come with me to my appointment, which are now every day because we’re getting close. It was lovely to have her along although I feel sufficiently detached now, not even particularly asking questions. They’ll tell me if there’s something I need to know or decide.

My likely retrieval day is this Thursday, to be confirmed at tomorrow’s appointment. Then we’ll have real numbers to contemplate: number of eggs retrieved and then the number fertilized. My letting-go skills are getting honed.

My sister has me focused on what it will feel like to have a baby. I’m skipping all these steps in my mind and visualizing the final outcome–the only thing that matters.

Yesterday, my estrogen level was 2,014 (aka my baby’s birth year).

All it takes is one.

dating, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

anniversary

Happy anniversary, blog!

Yes, it was one year ago today that I began this writing project that has become a complete archive of my journey. I was in the first week of my first two week wait (how sweet!).

I don’t have the energy for a full retrospective (my eyes have been at half mast all day), and plus I did one around New Year’s. I’m grateful to be where I am. This process has been my best teacher–it has put me through my paces. I am stronger. I fall down seven times and get up eight. I have a wider circle and more love in my life than I did before April 8, 2012. I have four local SMC friends who are so dear to me. And I have this blog, which was the most brilliant idea I’ve had maybe ever. It is how I make sense of this whole ride. It is my creative outlet, my work of art, my community, my lifeline, my storyline, my book in its nascent stages. My status report. Without you, it would be merely my journal.

In honor of the anniversary of the Solo Mama Project, I would love to hear from you! Either in a comment or an email (thesolomamaproject@gmail.com) or a text or a phone call–what does this blog mean to you? what do you most enjoy reading about? do you wish I’d go on more hilarious dates? do you pull your car over when you see a new post has come in? do you want clarification on any particular aspect of the process? are you thinking about having a baby on your own? do you share my blog with friends? do you wish there was more pregnancy and birth on my blog (me too)? would you buy the book? are you hanging in there with me, one year later?

We have no PayPal tip jar here (something I should maybe consider as I just calculated my medical bills for 2012), so please show your appreciation in the form of words! Let me know you’re out there–from northern Michigan to NYC to England to Australia to Mexico, friends and strangers.

I am so grateful for all of you. Thanks for reading.

anxiety, donor sperm, fertility, IVF, meditation, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

stims

So far, so good. On Thursday, I had my baseline and essentially combined four appointments in one. First, I went to PRS when they opened to pick up McPiercy’s five remaining vials. I realized it was likely my last time going to PRS, perhaps ever, and I’ve lost count of how many vial transports I’ve done but this is at least three. Hilariously, when I got outside with the box, I posed it next to a silver Prius that is not mine but was parked a few spots down from mine! This is not my car, but these are my guys:

mcpiercy3

 

After parking at UCSF, I remember standing at the corner of Sutter and Divisadero waiting for the light to change, having this distinct sense that my child is coming together now, literally–half is in me, half is in one of the millions of sperm, frozen in time, in this box.

I checked in and the receptionist said kindly, “I see here we need to collect a large sum of money from you today.” Indeed. I took out my checkbook (and later regretted not using a fancy credit card with points–it’s been on my list of things to do forever now…) Olga came out to have me sign the ICSI forms. I dragged the box around with me while I gave blood (to check my estrogen level) and went in for an ultrasound. During the ultrasound, Nurse Jennifer asked if I was a runner and for a second I thought she saw something in my uterus that betrayed this fact about me–but when I said yes, she said, “I saw you running at Lands End. I never know if people want me to say hi.” I laughed and said, “OH, yes, I want you to say hi!” She said she was with her yellow lab so I told her I’ll watch for yellow labs next time.

She kept saying “great, perfect, excellent.” All was quiet on the ovarian front, which is what you want for the baseline. She said they’d call in the afternoon with the blood results to give me the green light on beginning stims.

Next, I went to the lab to drop off the box which only took a few minutes. Then I went to see Lili, my genetic counselor, to sign some more forms and give a cheek swab sample. Yep, that’s all they need to get your genetic makeup. Lili is my new BFF. She kept telling me I’m fabulous and that my chances are amazing and at one point she raised both arms in the air and said, “I LOVE MY SINGLE LADIES!” On my way out, she grabbed my jacket and said, “OH my God, is this from REI? This is the exact jacket I want,” and quizzed me about it. I am verging on asking her on a friend date although I’d probably want to talk shop the whole time which would be boring for her!

All that AND I made it back home in time for a meeting. That afternoon, I got the call that my estrogen was at 57, go ahead and start the stims on Friday night.

On Friday night, I got home a little later than intended and hadn’t walked myself through the whole process by reading through the materials and watching the videos, etc. So I felt a little anxious and also exhausted, not the picture of IVF serenity that I had hoped. Lupron was no prob–just decreased the dose by half. Follistim is pretty foolproof–it’s a pen and you just dial up the dose. When I got to the Menopur, which requires drawing up sodium cloride, injecting it into the Menopur vial, swishing it so the powder dissolves into the fluid, drawing it back up, injecting it into a second vial, swishing it around, and drawing it back up again, I freaked out because a) there was a ton of air and b) there wasn’t nearly as much fluid as I started with. I have a bad habit of trying to destroy the evidence of my mistakes and plowing ahead with a fresh start as if nothing happened (cooking is another good example)–so I found myself dumping the fluid with one vial of powder into the sink and starting over. It was dumb (and expensive). But if that’s the price of my learning, so be it. The second attempt was successful, although I went to bed nervous because I had used the same syringe and if there were traces of a third vial maybe I just overdosed myself…

Yesterday, I got some advice on the boards and talked to Dr. B. and last night went much better. I wish you could see how many steps it is, how freaking long it takes, how much there is to dispose, recycle, and drop into the sharps container for just one evening’s worth. But, I’m getting it. And my belly is hanging in there.

I slept fitfully–sweating, waking up disoriented, dreaming. Woke up and went directly on a six-mile run–a gift to me. The countdown is on if I’m going to stop running on day 5 of stims. Came home to make delicious almond butter pancakes and a smoothie. Took a bath. Meditated. Took a 2-hour nap. Went w/ Dr. B. for a foot massage. I basically nailed Saturday.

Slept great last night. I have an appt in 25 minutes for a blood draw at UCSF, so I best be getting out of my pajamas. The first ultrasound will be Tuesday and then we’ll be off to the races! Here’s hoping for a 20-way tie!