Thursday, November 8, 2012

4 Weeks, 2 Days

It's early. I mean super early. In IVF, you are basically starting from Week 1 of pregnancy. And I don't mean the first week you know, because technically that's Week 4. Week one starts when your menstrual flow does. Your body begins by creating follicles on your ovaries after menstruation  These follicles are eggs. One of those lucky follicles will actually ovulate and release an egg (Week 2). It's this exact time, give or take a few days, that normally you and your spouse would have unbelievable amounts of unprotected sex. Then the sperm would penetrate the egg, fertilizing it. The cells would begin to split and eventually make their way down to your uterus (Week 3). Then implant its self in your lining. And about 5 days later, you'd start showing HcG elevation, most likely showing up on a home test (Week 4).

Not in IVF though.

Week 1 begins with Lupron which suppresses your ovaries. At this time, you might start creating follicles. Sometime around Day 10 you'll start taking Gonal F. The Gonal F helps to mature these follicles, and helps them to grow to appropriate ovulation sizes. Your doc will monitor and let you know when to take your Trigger shot (HcG) to help truly mature these eggs so that they'll be ready for Egg Retrieval (ER) (Week 2). ER harvests your eggs from all those growing follicles. It's at this time they'll take the man's sperm and either mix it in the dish with the eggs, or ICSI, inject them in the eggs. Then the'll watch them grow. And eventually, if you're lucky you'll have some gorgeous looking embryos. Then they'll take the embryo and implant it directly into your uterus (Week 2.5). A few days later, between days 4-10 post transfer, that little embryo will begin implanting it's self, or nuzzling as I like to call it, into your lining. Then 12 days post transfer, you'll have a blood test to determine if you're pregnant or not. (Week 4)

Now for those of us who are vocal about our experiences, as excited as we are that we've made it this far, and we want to yell it to everyone we know, it's still a scary time. Many times these pregnancies end in what they call chemical pregnancies, where the embryo implants, secrets HcG, but then stops growing. Or, your HcG may not elevate properly, meaning your body is not withholding the pregnancy.

Follow up blood work is usually done 2-3 days after your first positive blood test. This is to ensure that your HcG is increasing. Normally they like to see a 60% increase within 48 hours. Until that happens, you really aren't in the clear. Then there's the long wait for your first ultrasound to be sure there is a heartbeat.

Our first time around 2 years ago, my HcG was not elevating properly. I believe we ended up having 3-4 blood draws to monitor the increases. After the 3rd or 4th, my doctor insisted on an ultrasound to be sure we weren't having an ectopic pregnancy. Thankfully we weren't, and we had our first amazing little flickering heart beat appear on the screen. This was around 6 weeks. It was sometime between then and 9 weeks that that little heart beat failed to continue.

So ask me if I'm still paranoid about things? HELL YES!

Step 1 is really getting pregnant.

Step 2 is staying pregnant.

Hopefully we'll have a better idea if that is happening after tomorrow's blood draw. So please continue to pray for us, and sending all those positive thoughts. They are still greatly needed as we are just at 4 weeks and 2 days. (Most people wait until 12-13 weeks, the start of 2nd trimester, before they share their great news.) Thank you again for all your support, we have been truly blessed to have so many people looking out for us, and we appreciate your continued support!

Sometimes it helps to have a visual, so here they are, our two beautiful embryos. The one on the left was the very active one. I say left is a boy, and right is a girl. (I pictured her rolling her eyes at her brother doing somersaults.) Here's to hoping that they both have stuck around.

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