Transfer Day and one HOLY HIGH BETA
Where has the time gone? It has been far too long since I have caught up on our ATS blog. Here is a rather lengthy entry to catch up on the past few weeks of events!
There were a good 5 – 6 weeks of meds and waiting before transfer day was to be scheduled. Brooks and I did everything we could to keep insanely busy and not to get too impatient. We visited with friends and family, and took two long weekend trips in that time.
The protocol for a Frozen Embryo Transfer (or FET) at our clinic began with birth control to keep Tarynn’s cycle regular, followed by a (hopefully) last period while simultaneously beginning Lupron. Lupron is taken as a shot into the abdomen for a few weeks to completely shut down Tarynn’s ovaries making sure she doesn’t ovulate her own eggs during this cycle. It also allows her body to be at the mercy of the doctors so they are able to manipulate her hormones to the ideal levels through medicine. A few weeks and an ultrasound later, her ovaries were quiet and her lining was nice and thin resulting in a clearance to begin her estrogen patches. These patches, placed on her lower abdomen, were used to thicken the lining of her uterus to be fluffy and habitable for an embryo. Tarynn was handling all meds really well and sent us regular text updates to let us know as such. She claimed she felt very “full” and “heavy” by the time she had been on the estrogen patches for some time, which was exactly what we wanted to hear. After a few more ultrasounds at a local clinic in Temecula, her lining had increased to an 8.5 and then to an 11.4! Our clinic likes to see anything over a 7 or 8, with 10 being considered perfect. We were READY for transfer!
Transfer was scheduled for the following week, and Tarynn was to begin the dreaded progesterone “butt shots”. Progesterone is really the key hormone in early pregnancy and helps keep the lining mature while also supporting and maintaining the (hopefully) pregnancy. It was getting REAL.
Transfer Day – August 27, 2015
Transfer day was one of the smoothest and most perfect fertility-related appointments of my life. This sounds dramatic, maybe, but it’s true. I for once slept in and was not woken from any nerves or anxiety. I enjoyed a quiet and relaxing morning at home, sipping coffee and petting our kitties. I left early and didn’t care as I sat in traffic, knowing I had tons of time to get to where I needed to be.
Tarynn had flown into SF the night before and had already spent one night at the hotel. She was staying for two night’s total, so that she could have a full 24 hours of bed rest after transfer before flying home. Her flight was not until the evening of the 28th, and I had worried about getting her a late enough check out so she could rest. Usually hotels offer this based on availability, without guarantee, and never past 2 PM.
I arrived to the hotel expecting to put my aggressive pants on for us to get a late checkout. To my surprise our agency rep Heidi with NWSC had already done this for us, and Tarynn had a 4 PM check out the following day! Yay! I dropped my bags into my room and met up with Tarynn, both of us with gifts in hand. I gave her a little transfer day goodie bag with warm fuzzy socks, chocolate, magazines, snacks, a #TeamBabyPaine tee shirt, and you guessed it: First Response Pregnancy Tests. She gave me a very touching note and a Marsala Rose necklace which I immediately put on. I’m not going to lie to you, I had a ton of other good luck charms with me that day. I wore green (as did Tarynn), I had my green “Good Luck” beanie baby bear in my luggage, I had a little baggie that I held in my pocket with baby dust (courtesy of Janae), as well as every other piece of jewelry I could find that meant something to me. Tarynn’s oldest daughter Kaelyn had also written us a little story which I later made Brooks put in his pocket.
Tarynn and I drove to the clinic where we were meeting Brooks and Janae. Janae had offered to take photos for us as well as be a support person for Tarynn during the procedure since Tarynn’s husband was back at home taking care of their daughters. We weren’t sure how lax they would be about our entire group being in a small transfer room, but we hoped for the best. Brooks beat us to the clinic and the three of us walked in together and sat in our own waiting room for quite some time chatting. I think we were all nervous, but it also just felt right and like everything was happening according to plan. It is hard to be too nervous with an overwhelming calm like that. Janae did not have as great a morning as I had, sitting in a ridiculously long, traffic-induced car ride from Sacramento. She made it just in time for the transfer, though ☺
We were the last transfer of the day, and no phone calls on transfer day is great news as it means our frozen embryo survived the thawing process that morning and was continuing to grow. Once it was our turn to go, Tarynn went in first to get prepped. Later, the physician performing the procedure, Dr. Hakan Cakmak, allowed all of us into the room. We told him Janae was Tarynn’s support person, but he looked at her a little funny when she began to take photos lol.
All of my five previous transfers had been at the other UCSF building, which was visibly older and not as comfortable. I had watched all of my transfers on that tiny & blurry ultrasound screen with a craned neck. This transfer room was fancy, comfortable and equipped with modern technology. Not only was the ultrasound screen much larger, but there was also a flat screen TV mounted on the ceiling for everyone’s viewing pleasure, too. They informed us that the majority of the procedure would stream on the TV so we didn’t have to crane our necks, and also that the image would change to the embryologist’s view while they prepped the embryo. We were amazed at this new process, and I am so thankful Janae got photos of this. They zoomed in on our perfect *5BB graded female embryo which was hatching on that 6th day after thaw, and we watched her float around in her petri dish. They zoomed out to normal view so we could see just how small the embryo was (microscopic). When they zoomed back in on the embryo, we watched as the embryologist very carefully sucked it (her) up into a tiny catheter. Right at this time, our PA who was helping, Allison, turned to me and very seriously said “That is a good looking embryo”. We held each other’s eyes for a moment and that’s when I could feel the tears starting to collect in my eyes.
The view on the big screen switched back to Tarynn’s uterus and the embryologist came into our room carefully holding the tiny catheter with the even tinier embryo and handed it to Dr. Cakmak. We then watched on the screen as Dr. Cakmak slowly, slowly, slowly placed the catheter through Tarynn’s cervix, and pushed the fluid which carried our sweet little baby into her uterus. Although it was only visible by the air bubble the fluid left behind, we could still follow everything as it was happening. The dr. waited what felt like an eternity before taking the catheter out, and for those few minutes it was dead silence in that room. Everyone was holding their breath, and it was as if any movement or sound would change the outcome. Finally once the catheter was out, the embryologist came back to grab the catheter and brought it to the back to look at it under the microscope and confirm the embryo wasn’t still there. Then we heard his voice shout from the back “All Clear!” and we were good to go! We all stood up to leave and let Tarynn change but first, I went and gave her the biggest (yet gentlest!) hug. This woman was officially hosting my baby in her uterus! Talk about amazing!
We all headed back to the hotel so Tarynn could get going on her bed rest. For a while the four of us (Tarynn, myself, Brooks, and Janae) all hung out and chatted. Eventually Brooks left to try and beat traffic back to Walnut Creek and to take care of the kitties. I spent a few hours chatting with and getting to know Janae while Tarynn, who clearly felt the side effects of the Valium given to her earlier, went in and out of sleep. Once Janae left I changed into PJs and joined Tarynn for a movie. We decided to watch Spy as Tarynn said it was very funny, and we have heard the theory that laughter helps with implantation! Tarynn watched the first few minutes and then drifted back into sleep, and I woke her towards the end of the movie to give her the nightly progesterone shot. You would think after doing hundreds of these myself over the course of the last few years that I would be an expert. Unfortunately, the first try didn’t break her skin and I had to do it again ☹ Sorry, Tarynn! I was so humiliated! Afterwards we called it a night and I went back to my room to stare at the photo of my beautiful little embryo that was now perfectly safe in Tarynn’s baby-maker.
The next morning I brought breakfast and decaf coffee to Tarynn, and we sat and had some quiet time on our laptops and watching daytime TV. Tarynn once again was in and out of naps for a few hours, and I was starting to get excited that maybe her body was working hard as our little lady started to implant. I knew it was too soon, but you never know right?!
Eventually it was time to check out and go, and after a quick late lunch we took an uber to the airport. I said goodbye to her and smiled thinking that in a few years I would be able to tell my daughter that her very first plane ride was at 7 days past fertilization.
The Dreaded TWW & BETA Day
Just as we had done during the med cycle, Brooks and I kept busy every day after transfer. I had a friend come into town and we had plans for 3 days straight which really helped take my mind off of what was happening inside Tarynn’s uterus. While at a nearby park having a picnic (3dp5dt), a little boy came up to me out of nowhere and gave me a small orange flower. He then ran away. It was so bizarre, cute, and also made me think maybe the universe was finally giving me signs that everything was going to work out. My friends agreed, and I kept that little flower for days until it wilted to nothing.
On 4dp5dt, I was out to breakfast with my visiting friend as it was her last day. I knew Tarynn would start to test either that day or the next day, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the next few days of waiting. We had discussed that whatever she decided, she would not text me on 4dp5dt as I truly believed this was too soon for a positive, and I didn’t want to see any false negatives. While eating my breakfast, I received a text message. Before I was able to read any of the text, I saw this photo pop up on my cell phone screen:
I’m pretty sure I blacked out in this moment, because I can’t really remember what I said, or more likely, what noise came out of my mouth. I do remember throwing my phone across the table. My friend picked up my phone to look and then I think we started screaming? Again, really not sure. I then took my phone back to read the rest of the text:
“I know we agreed I wouldn’t text you today, but this was too good to pass up! ☺ Little Lady P is an overachiever already. Not even a full four days past transfer, and she is already making her presence known!”
The rest of the day is a blur except for bouts of tears, especially when Brooks and I called each other to “celebrate” after receiving the best news of our lives. When we both got home from work we popped a bottle of Champagne and officially celebrated together.
The 2ww (Two week wait) went by rather quickly, despite the fact that UCSF makes you wait the entire 14 days for a blood draw. Tarynn sent daily ‘pee reports’, and the line got darker with every morning, making it easy to relax and know things were progressing as they should.
Finally, 14dp5dt arrived and it was time to check Tarynn’s HCG level. None of us had a doubt in our minds it would be a good number, especially since we got a positive so early. Are you ready for this? Her first beta came back at 2,019! OMG! Tarynn, our nurse, Brooks, myself, everyone was starting to wonder – was our perfect little embryo a splitter?! I think we were all a little nervous, knowing that an identical twin pregnancy can have its risks. Brooks and I would have been happy with whatever happened, but overall we want the healthiest and best environment for Tarynn and our little girl and that usually means a single pregnancy.
Two days later, a more than doubled second beta of 4,122 had us all breathing a sigh of relief and excited to schedule our first ultrasound in San Francisco at 6 days 5 weeks pregnant.
*A little background on our embryo selection: Due to the fact I had recurrent pregnancy losses, we elected to have a genetic test performed on own DNA, and a chromosome analysis performed on our embryos. We knew which embryos were chromosomally normal (meaning they tested negative to have Trisomy, Monosomy, or Downs Syndrome, etc.) Due to the results of our own genetics, we knew our chances of spreading any genetic related diseases (such as Fragile X, Cystic Fibrosis, etc.) to the embryos were slim. Once we knew which embryos were normal, they then cosmetically grade them. The highest grading you can have at our clinic is a 5AA, and our highest was a 5BB which is very, very good. We did not make the decision based on gender selection, but on the highest graded and chromosomally normal embryo with the best chance of survival. Lastly, our embryos were created in June of 2014, and I can’t wait to trip our daughter out and tell her she is actually 1 year and 2 months older than she thinks 😉 Just Kidding.