Alright so next stop, Los Angeles. I was already booked to attend a DONA birth doula training in Seattle, so it was convenient to add the California portion of the trip. We scheduled our medical screening with the IVF doctor for the week of Thanksgiving. Brad, the girls and my Mom met me in LA, and we went to D*I*S*N*E*Y*L*A*N*D and Thanksgiving dinner with our extended family (my Momma is from Orange County). At this stage, not even my Mom knew we were going through this process. We kept it very discreet.
When we arrived in LA, we met with our CSP counsellor for lunch, then later that night had dinner with our IPs. We had our kiddos with us, so couldn’t really talk much about the whole process. Nonetheless, lovely to meet them. They are a beautiful family with quite a unique story. The next day we had our medical screening with the reproductive endocrinology team. The FDA regulates the IVF process, and we had lots of paperwork to sign. Everything looked great and we were ready to start the IVF process. We agreed to transfer one embryo. But first, the contract needed to be finalized. We completed that process in December/ January. As you can imagine, there are pages and pages in these contracts. That's why you need to make sure you're with a reputable agency that has extensive experience in providing draft agreements.
Once we had legal clearance and the contracts were signed, the IVF doctor's office gave me instructions and a timeline leading up to the transfer. In December, I started taking birth control pills (for the first time in over 7 years). If you know me, you know that I have completely transitioned to a holistic, natural lifestyle over the past 5 years (no over-the-counter or prescription meds). The IVF process involves medication. Eeek! I decided that I was comfortable with taking the meds - I’ll just do a year of detox cleansing once the journey is complete.
In our case, we just needed to get my body ready for the transfer. In essence, “high-jacking” my reproductive system to control the process. The embryo was already frozen and ready to go. Remember, this baby is not biologically related to me or Brad. We didn’t have to do all of the meds in a usual IVF process. First, birth control to regulate my menstrual cycle. Since I’m on O’ahu, I did my external monitoring with the Advanced Reproductive Center of Hawai’i. On January 16, I received a detailed medication and monitoring schedule with a tentative transfer date of February 15th. Wahoo! We could start making plans. As you can imagine, I was very keen to confirm flights and know exactly when we needed to go to LA for the weekend. I had birth doula clients due and needed to navigate my business and personal commitments.
Around this time, we also told my Mom and Dad. They would be looking after the girls for us while we went to LA for the transfer. At first, my Mom thought I had donated an egg and she asked, “Why don’t you just have your own third baby.” Brad and I quickly replied, “Because we don’t want a third baby right now.” And then I clarified that we were not related to the baby and then she was all smiles and, “Oh, that’s wonderful!” Lol. Fun times.
On January 18, I started Lupron subcutaneous injections. The Lupron is used to stop my ovaries from making follicles or eggs. I administered these injections by myself, directly into the fatty tissue under my skin near my belly button. Easy peasy - these ones didn’t hurt. At the same time, I also started taking a low dose aspirin. I stopped taking birth control pills the third week of January. Then on January 26, I got an ultrasound and blood test to make sure my hormone levels were suppressed. It was now safe to start taking Estrace. The following week, another ultrasound to check my uterine lining and hormone levels - all good still. One week later, another ultrasound to confirm we were good to proceed with embryo transfer. I was approved to stop taking my Lupron injections and begin with progesterone intramuscular injections. The progesterone is used to strengthen the uterine lining and get ready for a baby to grow in there. Ok you guys - I’m not gonna lie. These shots made me nervous. For starters, my first day of progesterone I was doing overnight care with a client. How the heck was I going to do this intramuscular shot that needed to go into my butt/ hip area all by myself?! And don’t these ones HURT?! I Googled and YouTubed and determined that I. Could. Do. It. So I did! I injected that thick, oily medication into my hip LIKE A BOSS! These ones did hurt a bit, and it goes in slowly because the medication is mixed in oil. Sheesh. But, I did it. I had Brad do my shots when I needed a new location, but for the most part I preferred to give myself the shots. It hurt less when I did it.
Brad and I flew out to LA on Valentine’s Day. Transfer day was February 15th.
Yay! We met our IPs at the surgery center. One remarkable thing we noticed was how many people were in the waiting room. EVERYONE was there for fertility. It was wild. Huge industry. We went into the clinic room, put on scrub hats and gowns, I took a prescription valium, then we waited for the team to arrive with the embryo. The transfer is similar to a pap smear. The embryo is deposited into the uterus via a small catheter. It took about a minute and doesn’t hurt at all. Then we just hung out for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, I started to get sleepy from the valium. They pushed me down to the car in a wheelchair and we were dropped off at the hotel. I slept all afternoon. We prayed for this baby girl to find my uterine wall and attach to it.
The next day, we relaxed more. I DID feel what I thought was implantation cramping. Since this is my third pregnancy, I’m a bit more aware of what’s going on and how it feels compared to my first two. I hoped my feeling was accurate. We enjoyed dinner with our IPs, then flew back to Honolulu the following day.
I’m so grateful for the week of distractions that followed - my dear friend was visiting from Louisiana for our church’s annual Arise women’s conference. I usually volunteer at these events, so I was busy for several days. I had a feeling I was definitely pregnant because by the Friday night, I was sooooo tired on my way home. The doctors and CSP staff tell you not to bother taking a pregnancy test because it isn’t as accurate as the blood test, but I couldn’t help myself. I took a pregnancy test on Sunday (9 days after the transfer) and found this result:
I was thrilled! And the blood test confirmed pregnancy. The first beta hcg blood test was 206 and the second one a couple days later was 656.
The strange part of the IVF process is that technically you are a couple weeks pregnant from the day of transfer. The baby is due November 3rd! Exciting times.