Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beta Catch Up

I have been a horrible blogger. I've been on an emotional rollercoaster, have one really sick kiddo, and there was Thanksgiving in there too. Those are my excuses anyway :)

So, to catch up, our first beta at 9dp5dt was 59. Pregnant! Then, there was the beta 48 hours later at 11dp5dt, 107. Betas should double every 48 hours although the acceptable window is 48-72 hours. We made that but it was still enough to give us all pause. I'm not going to lie, when the nurse called and told me the number, I burst into tears. I was terrified we were losing the baby or it was a chemical pregnancy. We started out a little low and then to have it not double...well, it was scary. We decided to do one more beta another 48 hours later to see what was happening, and drumroll please...we needed 214...we got...290!!! So, our doubling time between beta 1 and beta 2 was about 55 hours. Doubling time between beta 2 and beta 3 was only 33 hours! And, if you cut out that middle beta and look at an overall doubling time between beta 1 and beta 3, we're down to just under 42 hours! We all breathed a major sigh of relief with that one!

So, Ivy's hpts continue to get darker and we have our first ultrasound this Friday at 5 weeks 4 days. We are all so excited to see who is in there! Whoohoo!

Friday, November 16, 2012


what one day and a ton of prayer can do...
If you can see that second line, congratulations, your eyes are good! This was taken this morning, 5.75dp5dt and it means one thing...


Ivy's been getting faint positives now since 3.5dp5dt but they were too light to even photograph, much less make us comfortable. With this one, we all agreed it's time to call it. Of course, we are still very anxious for beta on Monday, but this is definite reassurance that we've got someone snuggling in! Thank you to all of you who prayed for us. God is so good! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh, the perils of the 2ww...

I've struggled with what to write or if I should write at all. I promised transparency though, for myself and anyone who is following along. Know that we cherish every kind word, every prayer, thought, text message, email, etc. It's just hard to figure out how to respond when we don't have an answer. We were hoping, praying, wishing for a clear positive much earlier than was probably realistic (but it does happen) and we passed that on to everyone in our lives. My mistake, completely. The truth is that, despite all my optimism, IVF is a terribly complicated process and the 2ww is pure torture. It is in no way guaranteed, even when the doctor gives you a 70% chance. There is also high incidence of what is called a "chemical pregnancy" in IVF. I had never even heard of a chemical until I entered the world of surrogacy. In August, we experienced it and it is one of the cruelest jokes that can be played. Pregnancy tests will show positive and then become negative again or they just don't darken, indicating no rise or a very slow rise in hcg (hcg should rise very quickly in early pregnancy). This is an indicator that something tried to happen and then didn't develop for whatever reason and it is heartbreaking. You see those first faint lines and allow yourself to get excited only to have them fade away. Terrible.

With that said, Ivy has been seeing those familiar, super faint lines for a day or so now. This is exactly what we were praying to avoid. We know we are still very early but it is nearly impossible not to let past experience taint expectations. So, please, please, please, friend, family member, random person finding my blog on the internet, pray that those lines darken up quickly and this is a viable pregnancy. Thank you all and we'll update when we have news. At the latest, beta blood test is Monday.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Transfer and Embryo Update

I have a lot of ground to cover in this post and it might be all over the place, but here goes :)

Transfer was Saturday morning. Everything went beautifully. Brandon needed to be home with the kids. They had been without us for 5 days and Aubrey had a dress fitting, so my mom rode with me to Dallas. It was nice to have her meet Ivy and her Brandon and see the transfer process. She was a nervous wreck though!

The embryologist came in first and told us we had two beautiful blasts to transfer, one 4BB and one 4CB. (You can see more about the grading here: Blasts grading system) She also let me know that we had one additional blast ready to be frozen immediately! I was amazed but not as amazed as I was about to be...we also had 5 additional embryos still growing, just not quite blasts yet! From day 3 to day 5, when they expect you to lose 2/3 of your embryos, we only lost 1 embryo!!! I absolutely could not believe it. They will only freeze blasts though so they were going to watch them for one more day and then freeze what made it. More on that in a minute. The embryologist then talked with us about the chances of an embryo splitting, resulting in triplets, due to the "advanced staging" of the embryos. She made sure we were all on board and we waited for our RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist aka fertility doc). We were surprised when we were told it would be Dr. Le doing the transfer. He is the head doc at our clinic and we were not scheduled with him. When he came in, he told us he came in on his day off for our transfer because he didn't feel right letting someone else do it. That was pretty amazing. He had a very similar discussion with us and told us our chance at live birth was 70%, twins 40%, and a splitter resulting in triplets 3%. We decided we were okay with those odds and went ahead with the transfer.

Ivy was a rockstar. Dr. Le went on and on about how easy she was and we all laughed the entire time. In no time, our two little blasts, had a new home.

            An actual picture of our little guys, lovingly referred to as "Boudreaux" and "Thibodeaux" for now ;)

We then headed across the street to the hotel where Ivy would serve out her 24 hours of bedrest. I had snuck into her room before the transfer and left this there:
I got with her Brandon last week and had him send me a list of all her favorite snack foods. I filled up this giant basket with chips, candies, drinks, 34 (literally!) pregnancy tests, and an LSU hoodie because obviously she needs an LSU hoodie. Her face when she walked in the room and saw it was priceless. It was great. We had lunch there in the room with them and then headed back to Houston.

Ivy and I had originally thought it best not to test until Wednesday night but I'm dying over here! I think I've got her convinced to try Wednesday morning now. It is absolutely taking forever to get here though!!!

Now, more on our totsicles aka frozen embryos. I got the call this morning that only one of our five slow pokes made it. So, we officially have two little ones on ice! The one they froze Saturday is a 4CB (same as the little one on the left above) and the one frozen Sunday is a 6CC!!! That guy was a day slow but an overachiever! I am overwhelmed. We've never had this happen before and it's hard to put into words. Before I lost my ability to carry children, I never thought about the size of our family and how many children we would ultimately have. Now, it's all I think about. Here we were praying God would grant us one more and He went so far above and beyond that we now have 4 maybe babies out there! Also, knowing we have two frozen, of course we will wait until the baby or babies Ivy is carrying are a couple years old to let those have a shot at the world outside, but I want so badly to know them now! I honestly can't describe it. My heart overflows!

Friday, November 9, 2012


I've been getting lots of questions and although I always send an answer back to the person who asked, I felt it may be a good idea to answer them here too. If one (or five) people are willing to message me these, then I figure they must be on lots of people's minds.

  • How did you and Ivy meet?
I am a member of a small, private, email based, support group for surrogacy in Texas/Oklahoma. I joined this group in November 2008 when Dawn and I were just beginning our journey to bring Abram into the world. Ivy joined late December 2008 when she was just entering the world of surrogacy herself. At some point, we became facebook friends too. By the time we officially "matched" in May/June 2012, we felt like we had known each other forever even though we had never met. We finally met in August 2012 at our first transfer. What we had known from email/facebook/text/phone was instantly true in person...the two of us are meant to be lifelong friends. We had more fun than should be allowed. Lots of people even say we look alike. I love this lady!

                                                                            Me and Ivy

  • It's your egg and Bradon's sperm right? Ivy is the carrier?
Yes, yes, yes. Trust me, with what my body has been feeling for weeks now, if they didn't take eggs from me we are gonna have a giant problem ;) In all seriousness, just like Abram (and his non-surrogate carried brother and sister before him), the baby or babies coming from this will be 100% biologically Brandon and mine's. Ivy has been wonderful enough, just like Dawn, to open her uterus to us...hahahaha! Seriously though, she has been on hormones for weeks now preparing her body to not only accept a pregnancy but one that is not her genetic material. It's a big deal. Once pregnancy is achieved, she will continue hormones to maintain the pregnancy through the first trimester. Then, she will love and care for our little one(s) until they are ready to make their big entrance to the world. Then, she'll be bombarded with pictures and thank yous until it makes her sick, just ask Dawn ;)

  • What is a beta?
Awwwww, if you are asking this, you have obviously never been through the crazy world of infertility. This one is fun! Two weeks from egg retrieval (this time is commonly called the "two week wait"), Ivy will have a blood test to confirm pregnancy. You can think of egg retrieval as ovulation in the natural pregnancy realms. 14 days past ovulation is a typical marking point for pregnancy. We will know by then whether Ivy is pregnant or not because home pregnancy tests (hpts) will have told us, but we won't know how pregnant. That's where beta numbers come in. They are a quantitative marker for the amount of hcg in her bloodstream. Truthfully, they tell you you are pregnant or not, but in the world of surrogacy we obsess over and night. A small number can mean a chemical pregnancy-a pregnancy that attempted to start but never developed. A large number can mean multiples. Since we will transfer two and won't have an ultrasound until 7 weeks pregnant, obsessing over the number helps pass the time ;) They will repeat them every 48 hours for a week or so. They need to double every 48 hours to indicate a healthy pregnancy. This is the most important thing!

  • If you guys still have lots of embryos left on Saturday, what will happen to them?
First, we will transfer the two absolute best into Ivy's waiting uterus. We have three options with any remaining embryos 1) dispose of them, 2) freeze them and anonymously donate them to another couple, 3) freeze them to use for ourselves later. The only suitable option for us is to freeze them for ourselves. Brandon calls this the we're-gonna-need-more-surrogates option ;) We know that if we have embryos to freeze Saturday, God will provide a way to give them a chance at life. Our previous cycles, I absolutely made myself crazy playing the number game...if we have left over embryos, what happens? will we have a willing surrogate? what if we don't want more children and we have extra embryos? And, amazingly, we never had any embryos left. This time, I have felt such peace about it. That if God preserves any embryos for us, not only will He provide a carrier for them, He will also put the desire and longing in our hearts to have those children come to life. Truthfully, I kinda chalked this up to our track record of never having any and deciding not to worry unnecessarily. Now, with 9 little ones growing, I know that this is true peace that God has placed in my heart and I am so thankful.

If there is anything I haven't answered or you just have a question, please write me. I am more than willing to share and, in most cases, I bet you aren't the only one wondering.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On Cloud Nine...

Today is day 3 in IVF world. We were told the embryologist would call and update us on our little embryos today and I was so nervous. We have never had any embryos make it past today, with the exception of Abram, obviously, and we transferred him on day 3. So, when the phone rang my stomach did turns. You cannot imagine my surprise when the voice on the other end told me we, on day 3, still have NINE embryos!!! Seven that look fantastic and two that are on the slow end for growth but seem to still have a chance. All I could do was laugh hysterically...seriously. Then, in a complete lapse of judgement, I texted Ivy and said "Are you sitting down?" After she texted me back that she was, I delivered the news. Poor thing thought for sure I was going to tell her that we had none left to transfer and was freaking out. She was ecstatic when she got the real news and I totally deserve whatever she throws at me when it comes to beta numbers :)

With that said, the greatest amount of loss for embryos is the time between day 3 and day 5. Statistically, only 1/3 of embryos survive this time because there are some crucial things happening those days. It is amazing, that after 3 cycles, we finally made it this far. Day 5 embryos really allow the doctors to determine which are the healthy ones. I am just so thankful! So, transfer is at 10:30am on Saturday. I cannot wait to see Ivy and her Brandon and get the transfer morning report. We're all praying for two blastocysts (the medical term for 5 day embryos that look super duper good) to transfer.

Also, if you want to check out Ivy's blog, here it is...Baby Bakin Part Deux Today's post is particularly hilarious!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Retrieval went well yesterday. The doctor told us on Saturday to expect 7-10 eggs. Imagine my surprise when I woke up in recovery and was told 16!!! Just to recap: my first retrieval (Abram's), I had 8 eggs. 6 were mature, 4 fertilized. We transferred 2 on day 3 (got pregnant with him) and the other 2 arrested before freezing on day 5. My second retrieval (last August), I had 9 eggs retrieved and only 2 of those fertilized normally. We transferred those 2 on day 3 and that resulted in a negative. So, we were all very anxious to get the call today from the embryologist with the fertilization report. We were hoping to have at least 4, so we could do a 5 day transfer (pushing to 5 days before transfer gives the doctors a much better idea of which embryos are viable). When the phone rang, I held my breath. In August, I never expected to hear that we only had 2 embryos and did not want that feeling again. This time...we had 14 of 16 mature eggs and 9 fertilized!!! So, at 24 hours post-fertilization, 9 embryos are growing! This is great news! We will make it to day 5 for transfer for the first time ever. The next update will be on day 3, Thursday. Odds are, several will arrest before then but we're starting out much better than we ever have. This does great things for our chances of viable pregnancy. Whew.

As for me, I'm doing much better this round. The doctors decided to treat me for the complications I had last time before they occurred this time. That has made all the difference in the world. I'm still dealing with some nausea and cramping but not nearly what I experienced in August. I am just one overwhelmed and thankful girl today!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!

Saturday morning's appointment revealed several follicles at the magical 19-20mm mark and several just behind. My estrogen level was at 1847, so we are good to go! I triggered last night and retrieval is scheduled for 9am.

There are so many emotions going through my head. We are super anxious to get home to our children. We miss them terribly. I am so excited to hear how many eggs we get and how that translates to embryo numbers (we'll have that information Tuesday morning). I'm also looking ahead to transfer, which will be Thursday if we have less than 4 embryos and Saturday if we have more than four (either way we are only transferring two ;). Then on to pregnancy tests and, God willing, ultrasounds. It is an incredibly exciting time and one we have been waiting for for months now. At the same time, I am terrified. My retrieval in August went very wrong and I was sick for days. I'm praying that nothing like that happens this time. That cycle also left us with lots of questions, no healthy embryos, and tons of tears and heartache. Although I know I would survive it again, I don't want all. So, that's where I am tonight, roughly 13 hours before I'll arrive for my procedure...a huge bundle of nerves.

Friday, November 2, 2012

To Dallas We Go!

My first monitoring appointment at our clinic in Dallas was yesterday. We got up before the sun and headed out at 5:45am to be here for 10:15 with the intention to stay here until I retrieve. I had an estrogen check on Monday in Houston and was at 232. Yesterday, it had risen to just over 1,200. A very nice rise given the problems I had with my levels in August. Ultrasound showed 13 follicles averaging 14mm. They expect follicles to grow about 2mm a day while on stimulation meds and they trigger a patient between 18-20mm. He went ahead and doubled my lupron and added another injection to my medications to help prevent me from ovulating (I have a history of that). In August, I had a huge jump at about the same point in my cycle I am now. Dr. E. blamed it on faulty measuring between clinics (I had been seen in Houston, Las Vegas, and Dallas in less than 5 days). This time, we all thought it was best if I stayed put in Dallas with a consistent set of eyes on me. Well, sure enough, I went back this morning and in 22 hours, my follicles went from 14mm to 3 at 19-20mm and 4 more right behind in the 17-18mm range. Dr. E. was shocked. So, with that new information, the plan is to see me again tomorrow morning and assuming everything looks like it should, I will trigger tomorrow afternoon and retrieval will be 36 hours later- Monday morning. Praying, praying, praying for a much less eventful retrieval, easier recovery, and two healthy embryos to transfer 5 days later.