I know, I know, it's been forever!!! I've been hiding, and keeping a secret that... our IVF cycle WORKED and we are officially PREGNANT! AH!!!
I haven't done the "official Facebook announcement" to the world yet, just my loyal blog fans who have been checking in are getting the news today. Why today? Well we just had our final ultrasound at SGF today, saw the baby's heartbeat (ahhh!!), and officially "graduated" from the fertility clinic!
There's been a lot going on over here since I signed off a month ago, so I figured I could use this exciting announcement post to update you on how it all went down :) This is about to get real long, by the way.
THE DAY WE FOUND OUT - MARCH 27
Back up.... wayyyy back... my embryo transfer was on a Thursday (March 23, to be exact). By Monday, March 27, 4dp5dt, I was going crazy. I had told myself that I was going to use an at-home pregnancy test on Wednesday morning, which would be 6dp5dt. I had even ordered pregnancy tests on Amazon to be delivered Tuesday night so that I wouldn't be tempted to use one until Wednesday morning (they say you should always pee on the stick first thing in the morning because your urine is more concentrated). Clearly, I don't know myself.
I was coming home from work that Monday evening and Kyle asked me to stop at the grocery store on my way home to pick up some stuff for dinner. "I'm SO not going to buy a pregnancy test," I told myself. Psssshhh yeah right. Of course, I couldn't stop myself and bought a pack even though they are way more expensive at the grocery store AND I already had 2 packs being delivered to my house the next day. Yes, I have a problem.
BUT! It was night time, I had just peed before I left the office, I HAD to wait until morning to take the test. Yeah, ok "rational Alyssa." Even though I told myself over and over that there was like a 95% chance the test would be negative because it was too early and it was night time, I ripped the box open right when I walked in the door and Kyle rolled his eyes and laughed as I went upstairs.
My heart was literally racing and my hands were shaking as I took the test out of the wrapper. I'd done this so many times before, always just to see a giant white space staring back at me where I prayed that second pink line would be. This time won't be any different, I thought. I was convinced it hadn't worked. I placed the pee-soaked stick on the counter - still shaking - and didn't let myself look at it for a good minute. When I finally got up the guts to peek, it was there. That blank space was no longer blank anymore. Two pink lines - the second one faint, really faint, but there was no doubt about it, it was there.
I immediately ran to the stairs (with my pants still around my knees) screaming KYLE!!!!!! YOU HAVE TO COME SEE THIS!!!!! LOOK AT IT LOOK AT IT DO YOU SEE IT?!?! I was crying and screaming and Kyle kept looking at the test confused saying "it's two lines, is that a good thing?!" He was so unsure on whether I was happy or upset!!! I said "YES it's a good thing!! it worked!!!! we're having a baby!!!" We hugged and cried and laughed and it was the best moment ever. I got my excitement in check quickly though, because this was only the beginning - that line was faint, and I still had 9 days till my blood pregnancy test. Deep breaths. I spent the night in total shock, made sure I had enough pregnancy tests to last me the next 9 days, and found a black sharpie so I could label each test. OCD much?
THE PEE ON A STICK DAYS
What else would I title this section? The 9 days between finding out I'm pregnant at home and our official test at SGF. Obviously, I had to pee on a stick every day now to make sure the line was getting darker. Your hCG level is supposed to double every 48 hours in early pregnancy, so, while this is not technical or agreed upon by any doctor ever, the line should get significantly darker about every other day. And so began the constant testing and comparing of test sticks...
They did get darker!!!!! There were a few days that I wasn't so sure, but on average they were definitely getting darker! YAY!
During this time, I told my bestie, Erin, the good news, cause she knows me WAY too well and knew I'd take a test ASAP. My sister Grace guessed by about 6dp5dt. I told a few friends who were closely following our story and my blog. But I think that was about all we told that early on. I tried SO hard to keep stuff from our parents because we really wanted to surprise them in person if possible (and we wanted to make sure the pregnancy was confirmed by my blood tests).
THE BETA TESTS
FINALLY it was time for my first blood test on Wednesday, April 5. I was a little nervous, but I was pretty confident from all my testing that we would definitely get a positive. I just really wanted to know what the number would be! From other online blogs I'd read, I expected it to be somewhere between 300-700, but that was really a total guess because hCG levels vary so much person to person.
My girl Carylene was there to draw my blood! She was happy to see me :) She asked me if I had "cheated" by taking an at-home test, to which I replied "...yes" - she was mad but laughed and wished me luck!
Luckily my nurse Tina didn't make me wait long and called and left a voicemail by 10:15am that day! I'll never forget her words, "Oh miss Alyssa, your numbers are BEAUTIFUL today and you are DEFINITELY pregnant" eeee!!! My hCG was 1,777!!!!! HOLY CRAP! They had me make another appointment for 2 days later - Friday - to do a repeat beta test. Even though I got a positive result, they like to get multiple measurements to make sure your levels are doubling every 48 hours.
So, I went back on Friday to see Carylene, who was ecstatic about my numbers :) Got my blood drawn, and again, Tina called by 10:30 with my new results. hCG = 5,719!!!!! It more than doubled! Woo hoo!!!
TELLING OUR PARENTS
After we got official word from the doctor from our beta test results, we decided we would tell our parents that weekend! (Although, I had already told my mom a week earlier when she was at my house). I managed to hold my dad off for a whole week telling him my test was postponed, that it took two days to get results, etc. etc. He was so clueless he believed me :) I was able to get a surprise dinner put together and told him that Friday night after our second beta test. He was SUPER surprised and felt dumb that he believed me all week :)
We saw Kyle's dad and step mom the next morning for brunch to tell them, and then his mom and step dad that evening at a family get-together that had already been planned - so that was easy!
My first ultrasound was scheduled for April 12 - just the Wednesday after our second beta on Friday - but after getting constant reassurance the week prior with all the beta results, waiting that long felt like forever!!!
I was only 5 and a half weeks at the time of the first ultrasound, so you can't really see much (the baby is too small), but the main goal is to see how many babies there are and to make sure the gestational sac is in the right place. Kyle AND my grandma (who surprised us!) were both there for it! Luckily we just had one baby and the sac was measuring right where it needed to be! Too early to see the heartbeat or the baby, but they told us we would see that at our second ultrasound two weeks later.
Here's our first ultrasound picture!
Oh! And on our way out of the monitoring floor, we saw Carylene! I showed her my picture and she was so excited for us. My grandma said, "is this your favorite blood draw nurse you always talk about?" Yup!!! I told Carlyene I'd be back in 2 weeks and she told me to make sure I come by to say bye to her before I leave!
ULTRASOUND 2 (TODAY!)
We scheduled our second ultrasound for 2 weeks after the first on a day when Dr. Sagoskin would be working the monitoring floor. Again, 2 weeks felt like a LIFETIME. But luckily, we stayed busy which helped.
I was SO nervous this morning. What if the baby stopped growing? What if there was no heartbeat? They took us back 20 minutes late so sitting in the waiting room felt like forever. The ultrasounds are still done vaginally because the baby is so small and it's easier to see that way. As soon as the tech started the ultrasound it was clear there was definitely a little baby in that sac we saw just two weeks earlier!! Amazing how much it grew in just two weeks!! Right away we saw the little heart beating away! I started crying - it was truly amazing!
From head to butt, our baby was measuring 7 weeks 6 days - 2 days ahead of schedule! It's heartbeat was 163 bpm! Dr. Sagoskin was in the room for the whole thing. He's a man of few words, but he said "it's perfect! You did it!" The tech recorded a mini video of the heartbeat beating away and let us take video on our phone. After I got dressed, they had us come out to meet with our nurse so we could get our "graduation" packet!!
They gave us a bunch of paperwork that I need to take to my regular OB and made sure we didn't have any questions. And a cute little frame with our ultrasound baby picture in it! It was SO surreal to think that this would be our last day at SGF!!
Everyone working at SGF must know the "graduation folder" because as we walked around with it, everyone kept saying "congratulations!" - it was so exciting :) I went and said bye to Carlyene and told her thank you for drawing my blood all those times. Then, we went to check out at the front desk for the last time! There's a guy that always does check out named Luis and every time you go up to pay your copay, he says, "do you need to make another appointment?" For SO many days I always had to say yes, but this time I said NOPE! Thank heavens!!!!
It was a pretty exciting day :) (Ok and I forgot to take a picture on my phone of the ultrasound picture - sorry! gotta add that later. I have video but for some reason Squarespace won't let me add it... ugh).
They started pretty much right away. The first week after finding out I was pregnant, I had awful headaches that lasted pretty much all day and the exhaustion was like nothing I have ever experienced before. I usually go to bed early on a regular basis, but I mean I was falling dead asleep by 8pm every night. SO TIRED! Other than that, the first 3 weeks while I was 3-5 weeks pregnant weren't bad!
By the beginning of week 6 though, I was miserable. The morning sickness kicked in, BIG time. It was so weird because it was so sudden. One morning I just woke up and felt like death and it continued every morning after. I literally wasn't getting to work until 930-10am because it took me a good 2-3 hours to feel OK enough in the morning to get out of bed. Just awful and I felt like I wasn't even excited about the pregnancy anymore because I felt so bad. After about 4 days of this, I emailed my nurse, Tina, to see if she had any recommendations. I had already tried everything - eating small meals throughout the day, taking my pills with food, bedtime snacks, everything. Tina recommended a category A (super safe) prescription called Diclegis and she had some samples for me to pick up the very next day. Diclegis is basically just a mixture of Unisom and Vitamin B, so I didn't have high hopes of it working, but IT WAS A MIRACLE. I took it the first night and when I woke up the next day, it was like I was finally a functioning human again. THANK GOODNESS!
Since then, I've felt pretty good! Tired and hungry ALL the time. I eat pretty much every 3 hours and yet I've gained zero weight. Actually I've lost a few pounds. They say your metabolism kicks into high gear when you're pregnant, so I guess that's why. But don't worry, I totally expect the pounds to be coming on soon. My nausea has come back some, which I expected, because my hCG levels are still increasing a bunch, but the medication is at least helping still. Really hoping it will disappear as I enter the second trimester in a few weeks!
NOW - ALMOST 8 WEEKS!
It's crazy - the first trimester goes pretty fast because you essentially get to "skip" weeks 1-3! Technically, pregnancy counting starts at the day of your last period, so by the time you find out you're pregnant, you're already considered 3-4 weeks. I was 3 weeks 2 days when I got my first positive test, and that was SUPER early. So even though I'm almost 8 weeks now, the embryo was transferred only 5 weeks ago and I've only known I'm pregnant for about 4 weeks.
I'm almost done with the hormone meds - FINALLY. I'm still on my estrogen pill twice a day till Saturday and then I get to go down to once a day. Starting today, I only need to do my progesterone suppositories twice a day instead of 3 times - YES. I can't tell you how disgusting and awful those things are - I'm so glad to no longer have to do them at work now!!!! I stop both meds completely by May 13th!! Woo hoo!!!
On a more serious note, it's kinda crazy that all this is happening this week. This week is national infertility awareness week and I'm finding myself feeling just so appreciative and so blessed that we've come this far. I've met SO many women struggling with infertility through the Facebook groups I'm a part of and through this blog. Kyle and I are extremely blessed that we got this lucky and got pregnant after just one round of IVF - that is not the case with so many women I know. Many people go through round after round of IUI and IVF, face negative results, and then pick themselves up and do it all over again. These women are truly strong and truly brave.
Although premature since we hadn't yet heard the heartbeat, Kyle and I got pictures taken last weekend for our official baby announcement. You have to know I've been planning this in my head for forever - I've seen my fair share of baby announcements and I was never sure if I'd get to do one of my own - so this was super special for me! My sweet friend (and former bride!), Mikaela Marie Photography, took these images for us at 48 Fields and sent us this sneak peek below :) We are still waiting on the full gallery, but once it arrives, we will probably be posting these on Facebook next week!! [And yes, I know announcing you're pregnant at "only 8-9 weeks" is frowned upon because miscarriage is still a possibility, but I hate that whole thing. I want the world to know about this baby and if, god forbid, we did have a miscarriage, I'd feel a lot better having the support of everyone rather than hiding my feelings and living in that sadness alone. ]
And how can I not share these pictures! How amazing is Mikaela?!? And my friend Allison Dee Calligraphy provided us with these amazing signs!
So what's next? Well, my first appointment with my regular OB is this coming Monday, May 1!! It's a new OB right near my house - my old OB/GYN was located in Towson which was just way too far for me to be driving regularly. Hopefully we like this one! My unicornuate uterus complications shouldn't come into effect until later in the pregnancy once the baby gets bigger and we see how my small uterus stretches, but if things get complicated, my OB will refer me to a high risk specialist. My reproductive issue is two-fold remember - prevented me from getting pregnant naturally & could cause pre-term labor or issues later in pregnancy. We have gotten over the first hump, but we still have a long way to go!
Thank you ALL for following along here on this journey!! And sorry for making you wait so long for an update ;) I haven't decided yet where this blog will go from here? Maybe I'll continue to update throughout my pregnancy - not sure yet - we will see :)