As I sit here typing the words, “I am pregnant!” it’s words we have been dreaming about for almost a full year now. Literally working toward each month. For a year. My heart can’t stop smiling thinking about it, and I can’t wipe the smile off my face as the tears continue to fall down my face. Tears of happiness. Tears of joy. Tears of past heartbreak. All of it. I have shared a lot of my past infertility journey that brought us to Otis (which you can read about here) and I am committed to sharing our story with you as we experience it. These posts for me have been therapeutic to be able to diary as I have experienced it. Also, please be kind if I go in and out of tense as some of this was written in the moment and some of it after the fact. BEAR WITH ME.
This Frozen Embryo Transfer was likely the most important of all of them. It was our last frozen embryo we had in storage. And our last try for a baby. The weight of that was suffocating. After previously going through 3 egg retrievals, after Otis I was left with 3 frozen embabies. Our precious little babies. Of course there are always options to keep going but I am of course already 37 years old and I STRUGGLED to get healthy embryos from my retrievals since my egg quality was pretty poor. I was also unsure if I was willing to undergo the whole egg retrieval process again but this now brought all those thoughts up. What if my last transfer doesn’t work? There was ALOT on our minds. Alot. So looking into our last chance with our last embryo had a lot of weight to it. After looking at our past failed cycles with our doctor, she had an idea to do something completely different. This both excited me and completely TERRIFIED me. But at this point, we really needed to throw it all on the line to put our best foot forward. I trust my doctor so I was willing to go down a new path. I think it’s always important to mix things up because you never know what your recipe for success will be. She wanted to try a “Natural FET cycle” meaning that we would supplement less with synthetic hormones and instead, let my body lead the way naturally and then only supplement with less hormones closer to embryo transfer. Since I have had issues getting a thicker lining with all the synthetic hormones, we were curious to see how my body does completely on it’s own. So the goal would be, track my natural cycle in a “mock” cycle where we were only doing bloodwork and ultrasounds to gather information and track my cycle. No embryo transfer. Just tracking for research. I was IN.
Tracking my Natural Cycle
The process would be, wait till cycle day 3 of my period and come in for a baseline ultrasound and bloodwork at my fertility clinic. Then for me to do at home ovulation kits to track my ovulation at home as well as come in for multiple scans to see how my eggs were growing and tracking it with kits, bloodwork and ultrasound. In doing this, we found that my lining naturally looked FREAKING AMAZING. WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN. Basically my lining looked the best it ever had and I was almost upset this was a mock cycle and not a real one. That is how good my lining looked. After we confirmed ovulation with both my at home kits, and ultrasound and blood work, doctor also confirmed that my estrogen tends to dip a little low after ovulation so that is where we want to supplement a little more in our real cycle. Good to know! Also, we were excited to decide we would lock into a natural FET cycle and we were doing this!!! Of course we also tried naturally that month to get pregnant and of course it didn’t happen. So we were on our way to our Natural FET cycle with my next period.
Natural Cycle FET
I started my cycle on the 3rd day of my period and came in for a baseline check. The did an ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have any cysts on my ovaries and did blood work to check my hormone levels. The plan was to do at home ovulation kits and wait for high and peak results. The kits I use first tell you when your levels are HIGH and then tell you when it’s PEAK which is right before ovulation. So it was about 2 weeks until I went in again just for a check. Things were actually looking farther along than last cycle so we did more blood work and she suspected I would be getting close so I would come back in 2 days. In 2 days, my body was READY! Those eggs were growing perfectly and when we checked my hormones I was ready to go!! IT WAS INSANITY. I was expecting to have a much longer cycle again but this was flying by holy crap. I waited for blood work to confirm but that night I did my trigger shot! The trigger shot would confirm my exact embryo transfer timing. My lining was the best it’s ever looked! It looked “lush and juicy” in the words of my doctor and she was so excited about how great it looked that she printed me out a photo. I had that good trilaminar appearance to it as well which is all very positive. Things were looking amazing for my natural cycle and I was excited the doctor was as hyped as I was about it. I knew that if things didn’t look great, we could always cancel and try again but we were doing this!!
One week before I did my trigger injection which would trigger ovulation and set the wheels into motion for my embryo transfer. I started my progesterone 5 days before transfer and my other meds 3 days before. Progesterone this time was 1 injection and 1 suppository at night. I literally forgot how horrible those suppositories are. Basically it’s a compounded version of progesterone that looks like an oversized pill that you shove up your lady parts at night. But the aftermath is that is oozes out kind of slowly over time. Sorry TMI but damn they are GROSS. They just really end up making me feel very uncomfortable and I much prefer the injections which I know sounds INSANE. I started WAY less other hormones 3 days before. 2 estrogen patches and then my normal protocol of antibiotics, claritin, pepcid, baby aspirin, and medrol. After the medrol was finished I would start my prednisone. So all the meds were mostly the same as my medicated cycles in the past but just a lot less of them since we were working with my own body’s goods.
We did one last appointment on Friday before my Monday transfer to make sure all my hormones were looking good and that lining was also looking good. I think my nerves were running high. The appointment went great and everything looked ready. Hormones and lining looked good. I got to the checkout desk and was scheduling my pregnancy blood drawl test and 2 of my nurses came over to wish me luck at my transfer. I lost it. I feel awful to have been crying at the desk as I am sure anyone in the waiting room could hear me. But wow. The gravity of everything was hitting me. I desperately needed this to work. It was our last precious embryo and I was a hot mess of emotion. I thought I had it all together, I was feeling so good and positive, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t FEELING. Just such a vulnerable moment. Losing your shit. In public. But damn, infertility is hard as fuck. It’s really fucking hard. And going to battle and being knocked down every time takes its toll. I left the office tissues in hand. When I got to my car, I decided to change the script. Yes we had 1 more chance but that 1 chance is a blessing.
EMBRYO TRANSFER DAY
Of all my transfers, this one was one for the books. My smile was bigger waking up. I was more hopeful. I laid out my rainbow shirt, my cozy warrior socks, and I sat excited to start my day and move a step closer to expanding our family. I blow dried my hair, which in Covid times, is a big deal. I wanted to feel good. Look good. Be the light I needed this day.
Blake, Otis and I packed up to leave. Because of Covid-19, he was not allowed in for my transfer but he would drop me off and be there waiting. As I was getting in the car, I noticed 3 morning doves walking through our garden. It was the sign I needed that morning. Third time’s the charm. I couldn’t knock the smile off my face after that. Despite the fact that destructive fires were raging through my part of Southern California, my sister was evacuated from her home and it smelled horribly of smoke even outside of our own home, I was positive. Nothing was going to ruin this day for me.
When I got to the clinic, it was business as usual. Take my valium and I filled out all my forms etc and before I knew it I was back in the room getting ready. I always play music on my phone and this time I put on my Summer Salt playlist for some good vibes. The embryologist came in, shared good news about our thawed 4AB embryo and confirmed it was our last normal embryo. My doctor came in shortly after. A speculum, a catheter and a few quick minutes later and the embryo was in! Watching it on the screen happen via ultrasound is truly a sureal experience. And just like that, we did it. I had my lucky socks on keeping me cozy and I also brought a few ribbons with me from a gift as a good luck charm. Channeling hope and love through every moment. I had asked Blake if he could give me an affirmation each day after my transfer to keep my spirits high and keep my hopeful heart in the right direction. I didn’t know he was going to give me something on the day of my transfer but before I had walked in, he gave me my first affirmation from him and Otis. I got to open it as I sat alone waiting for the doctors and nurses to come in. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming” <3, Blake + Otis Never underestimate the power of a small gesture to make someone’s heart just so happy. Blake picked me up and we drove home to for me to get cozy in bed, eat my lunch, and take a much needed nap. Since I take valium to relax me before my procedure, I always need a good nap that day to sleep everything off.
2WW (The Two Week Wait)
This time period is the dreaded “TWO WEEK WAIT.” Technically it’s 10 days after my transfer that I can go in for my beta blood work to measure my HCG levels and find out if I got pregnant from my transfer. So let’s start from the beginning of those 10 days.
My first 3 days (including transfer day) were bed/couch rest. So basically hang in bed, have Blake bring me all my meals and snacks and just BE CHILL and BE HAPPY. In order to prepare for this and make it easier for Blake, who took time off of work to watch and care for myself and Otis, I did our meal plan for bedrest and planned some of my favorite meals to enjoy during this time. Also a tradition on transfer day for me is to enjoy a bagel with sundried tomato cream cheese and cucumber in bed while I watch Father of the Bride. I do this every time. It’s just part of my “happy” process. We had to keep my door closed since bed rest and a toddler don’t mix. Of course Otis and Blake could come in to say hi every once in a while, but the important thing was for me to be chill and mellow. So I binged my fav rom coms in bed, took some naps, and thought positive thoughts. I also facetimed Otis for every meal so I felt part of the family even stuck in bed. Love that technology could keep us together at meal time. This also made me happy to see Otis’ sweet face.
On day 4, I was allowed to resume normal activity as long as I refrained from any strenuous and no working out at all. Also, no lifting my toddler. That one is difficult! But I am so thankful to have Blake working from home to help me lift him in and out of his crib during this time. So we took things easy, and kept myself busy hanging with Otis daily and waiting.
During the 2ww I was also tracking my body like a HAWK. What was I feeling? How was I feeling? Were these signs of pregnancy? Were these signs of my period? Anyone that endures the 2WW becomes obsessed with any small symptoms they might detect and wonder WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN. I am telling you, it’s maddening. The problem is, with each transfer, all the symptoms are almost identical for pregnancy OR getting your period. Seriously. It’s a mind fuck excuse my French but it is. And comparing my symptoms to my last 2 failed FET, they were similar. So how was I supposed to know if it was good or bad? There was just no way to know. I had the slight cramping. I had the sore boobs. I had the bloating. Basically all the symptoms all week. I started those 10 days mellow and cool as a cucumber but as the days passed by… the anxiety started to rise.
9DPT (9 Days Post Transfer)
As I sit here on Nov 4th, my anxiety level is at an all time high with the election still lingering with no clear cut winner and a pregnancy test lingering. Chalk it up to massive PTSD but wow the nerves are hitting me today. I know what is done is done, and I know my results will share just that. But this time, it’s all on the line. As the day went on the anxiety rose. I ended up doing a mediation in my calm app and taking a nap when Otis took a nap. I needed that release. Later in the day after dinner, I went to the bathroom and I swear when I wiped, I had a slight light pink streak. I freaked out. Could this be my period??? We were getting Otis ready for bed and I was sitting in his rocking chair waiting for him and Blake to come into the room and I just broke down. Hysterically ugly crying I said to blake, “Im so nervous.” Tears streaming. Uncontrollably. I think in this moment I realized that while my level of optimism was high, there was still 2 possible outcomes… and now I was freaking out. Sadly I made Blake stress out too but damn guys. I just lost it. While the 2WW is always an excruciating time for people going through fertility treatment, the day before blood test was high up in the worst days ever. After we got Otis down for bed, we binged some 90 Day Fiance before the 90 days to get our minds off the baby topic. And then tucked ourselves in with our nightly meditation. I have the Hatch Restore and it’s been a great part of my daily routine. You can select custom meditations to play before bed and then play your sound machine music. It’s helped to set a good intention for me before bedtime. Setting my mind in the right space has been such an important thing to focus on throughout this experience.
10DPT + Pregnancy Blood Test
I think Blake and I barely slept the night leading to my blood work. I woke up and got ready to go and made sure to pee in a cup for Blake. I NEVER go into my bloodwork without doing a HPT (home pregnancy test) because I do not want to find out blind from a phone call if I don’t have to. So I peed in the cup and left. Right when I leave the door, Blake does the pregnancy test for me. He is a GOOD man. So thankful he does this for me. I do this so that we have results but I don’t know until after my blood work so that I am in good spirits at the doctors office. I headed in for my quick blood drawl and I was back into my car eagerly texting Blake. Because of the stress and PTSD… I texted Blake, “Negative?” and he texted me, “Are you sure you wanna know?” and I said yes. “You are PREGNANT!” I swear when I read it… I blacked out. LITERALLY BLACKED OUT. I immediately video chatted with Blake while uncontrollably and hysterically crying. HYSTERICAL. I was in complete shock. Blake asked, “Are you excited???” Since he was clearly confused by my tears of utter shock. OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It seriously took me some time to calm down. It was literally unbelievable. After 1 cancelled cycle and 2 failed transfers…. I finally got a positive home pregnancy test. It was a fucking miracle. Now to wait for the actual blood results.
The nurse called me later in the day to share the good news and I was just so relieved not to get that familiar phone call from my doctor. The PTSD is so real when it comes to every part of this process. My levels looked GREAT and I would come back in 2 days to make sure my beta HCG levels were going up. My levels 2 days later looked great again. It was official!!!! I would go in next week for my 5 week ultrasound. At this point, we had our trip to Alisal scheduled btw my blood work and my ultrasound appointment so it was the perfect midweek time to literally celebrate our new found news together as a family. But also gave us so much excitement to know after our short trip, I would come home to an ultrasound appointment to SEE OUR BABY.
5 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Leading up to each milestone is like a wave of anxiety following with you. Of course I am hopeful, happy, excited but when you have this many problems getting pregnant, I forgot just how much anxiety I had leading up to each weekly appointment. Being in such a pattern of heartbreak and disappointment you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. But wow. What a milestone. I headed in for my appointment and the doctor said, “There it is! Right where I left it!” I breathed a sigh of relief as we looked at the little circle that was our baby on the ultrasound machine. She explained that my appointment for 6 weeks we MIGHT be able to hear the heartbeat but to not freak out if we didn’t because we still had our 7 week appointment to hear it. So now we just waited for the next week. I still am continuing all my meds: 2x a day progesterone injections, 2 estrogen patches changed every other day, and my daily anti-inflammatory protocol meds (prednisone, claritin, pepcid ac and baby aspirin).
6 Week Ultrasound Appointment
At this appointment I got to see the flickering of the heart!!!! BIG BIG FEELINGS!!! No sound yet to detect but it was a great sign to physically see the heartbeat. At the start of 6 weeks is when my extreme nausea began. It was much worse than my pregnancy with Otis. I started diclegis (2 pills at night) to help combat my nausea and help me to function as a mom to a toddler.
7 Week Ultrasound Appointment
WE GOT TO HEAR THE HEARTBEAT!!!!!! Such a milestone to experience. An exciting week for growth. Another positive is that after 1 week of taking diclegis, I was starting to finally feel a bit better. The meds definitely took time to kick in for me. It was not immediate relief.
8 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Growth was all good! Feeling overall much better since starting my meds as well.
9 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Scan went great and I got to decrease my meds to the below!
1 progesterone injection a day
Stop prednisone pills
Continue estrogen patches
Continue baby aspirin
Continue claritin and pepcid as needed
The nausea seemed to be creeping back late afternoon and just was not feeling great from afternoon to dinner time. I lost my appetite at night and it was hard to really get down any dinner. Lots of exhaustion and going to be early this week. Its the week I felt the WORST. Even despite being on the diclegis at night. But starting 10 weeks and 2 days I started to feel alot better again.
10 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Starting to finally feel better overall. But WOW. Massive exhaustion and just feeling so tired all of a sudden. Zero energy. Blake also said, “you look tired” so there is that. HA! Scan looked good and growth is on track!
We also did our genetic testing blood work that looks for genetic disorders as well as can signify gender (even though we already know) and will await those results. The nice thing is we already know we have a healthy genetically tested embryo but to be thorough we alway do this blood work regardless. And as always, each step is still nerve wracking as we move forward.
11 Week Ultrasound Appointment
Our little one is really starting to look like a baby on the ultrasound!!! Funny how things grow so quickly each week and really start to transform. Everything is looking great and finally weaning down meds again. VERY exciting.
No more patches
Wean down to 1 progesterone injection every other day
I was feeling pretty good overall and not sick. But still very tired as the day drags on. Since dropping the meds, I started to get a hormonal headache which lasted for 2 days. Luckily it passed quickly and is likely due to the fluctuation of my hormones from stopping certain meds etc. I do have the occasional nausea at night so I make sure to be having smaller meals as well as some protein snacks throughout the day to try to curb the nausea if I can.
12 Week Ultrasound Appointment with My Gynocologist
HOLY CRAP I made it to my gyno appointment. Because of the way the holidays fell this year (both Christmas and New Years) I was able to do my 12 week with my Gyno and then do my Fertility clinic 12 week the following week. I hope to be able to graduate next week from my fertility clinic but time will tell. Or should I say, my bloodwork will tell.
At my appointment I had a lengthy ultrasound to see baby. GUYS!!!! The tech said the baby was so accommodating and was literally showing off the most perfect little angles for photos. She was able to get some really cool 3d renderings of baby that you see above. SO. FREAKING. COOL!!! Everything looked great. Heartbeat is great. All great! I next met with the nurse practitioner, since I don’t see my doctor on my first appointment, and went over some basics and then I was on my way to get my prenatal blood panel. And that’s it! Such a milestone heading to my first obgyn appointment.
In terms of how I am feeling, let me tell you the nausea is creeping right back at night so around dinner time to bedtime I am kind of feeling miserable again. But I know that soon enough things will level out and I should be feeling much better over all again. I am so glad to still be taking the diclegis or I would REALLY feel like crap. Thank you modern medicine. Regardless of feeling crappy, I know it’s all for a good cause so you won’t find me complaining… that often 😉
What’s Happening Now
We obviously have a long road ahead of us and many milestones to achieve with our precious little baby. I feel each week, you look at the next and think, “Wow! I will feel much better at “X” week.” Then “X” week hits and you will feel better and more confident the NEXT week. So many nerves when it comes to pregnancy at least for us around here. What I can say is we are so hopeful and with every week our hearts just grow bigger as the baby grows. Because of my appointments falling over the holidays, I have my 12 week appointment at my fertility clinic next week a little bit late and we are HOPEFULLY it will be my graduation day!! Hopefully all my levels look great when we do my bloodwork and I can finally stop all my medications. My fingers will be crossed for that moment. I told my doctor I will be happy when I never have to see her again. HA! I know that sounds mean but she TOTALLY understood what I meant. I see Dr. Moayeri at OC Fertility and her office works through the CCRM facility in Orange County. I can’t say enough good things about them if you are on the hunt for a doctor. Also have seen Dr. Sachdev there many times who is equally lovely.
To have gone through all of this infertility journey during normal times would have been excruciating and add in a global pandemic, thanks to Covid-19, it added an extra layer of complexity to everything. To think of all the women, going to their appointments alone, going through procedures alone… it just breaks my heart. Especially those going through it for their first time. These times and these struggles have only confirmed something I have found out through having Otis: That I have more courage than I could have ever thought possible. This process has almost been more excruciating knowing what a light and joy it has been to be a mother to Otis. It’s hurt extra hard knowing that we may never be able to give Otis a sibling. To be given the joy and privilege of being a mother the first time was my biggest dream come true. And to be given that opportunity again, I am just crying tears of joy. Over. and Over. And over again. It still feels sureal to think we are on the other side of this. Everyday I wake up and go to bed, looking at the ultrasound photo next to my bed, and the inspiration quotes Blake typed out for me that I still have hanging on a string on my wall. And the photo of our precious embryo and the photo of our actual transfer. Everyday I count my blessings. So coming this July 2021, Otis will become a big brother. And for that, Blake and I will never stop smiling.
I know how triggering a pregnancy announcement can be to those still struggling through their infertility or trying to get pregnant naturally. But know that miracles happen. And that most of all, when it might seem the darkest, hope remains. I hope through hearing our story, you know you are not alone going through infertility. It’s true that the storm is indescribable but the rainbow is always worth the struggle. My heart is with you all.
Otis pajamas in these photos are from my collaboration with Clover baby & Kids. It’s obviously VERY special since both Otis and our future little baby will be our little rainbows of joy. You bet I have ever size in there for when baby #2 comes to join us. You can use code: OTIS for 20% off most items if you want to celebrate your own little rainbow baby with me. Shop here.