A Legume

In February of 2016, Kyle and I went to what we hoped would be our last ultrasound at an IVF facility. I was about 8 weeks along with our first pregnancy from an IVF cycle, and we expected to see a bouncy little bean growing healthily and to be dismissed from the IVF facility and picked up by our usual OB/GYN. Sure, some people struggled through years of IVF to get pregnant, but not us. We’d gotten pregnant right away and would have a beautiful baby in October of 2016. October 17 was the due date.

That… didn’t happen.

(you start to ask yourself this a lot when you’re dealing with infertility)

Instead of an 8-week-old fetus, we saw something measuring about 6 weeks, if that, shaped like a flying saucer and not bouncing at all. We saw a heartbeat, but it was slow and weak, 65 bpm, very appropriate for a healthy adult, not at all for an 8-week-old fetus.

We had the cool ultrasound tech, the one we’ve had for nearly every ultrasound since then that’s brought us either good or bad news. She’s got a great sense of humor and was trying to keep us optimistic. “I’ve seen it go either way!” she said, but the doctor we spoke to afterwards was less than pleased.

“It rarely ends well when this is the case, but we’ll want you back next week to make sure. If the baby grows between now and then, we’ll take it as a good sign and just adjust your due date accordingly. If it doesn’t…”

So one week later, we came back, not expecting anything good, and sure enough, we got nothing good. The gestational sac was still there, but the weird little flying saucer fetus was gone. No heartbeat, no movement, nothing at all. We talked to the doctor again, who offered that I could wait it out, take a medication, or have a D&C. I chose the latter, not wanting to go through the pain of labor just to give birth to essentially nothing, not even remnants of fetal tissue.

(it sucked)

In February of 2017, our first ultrasound for another pregnancy got bumped up a week because I’d started bleeding. A lot. I sat down on the toilet and it was like a murder scene. A clot the size of a lemon came out of me after I laid down and tried to slow things a little bit. The doctor wanted to see if there was anything left, if the bleeding had been the result of a subchorionic hemorrhage (a condition in which blood gets between the gestational sac and uterine wall and causes Problems).

I wasn’t surprised when nothing showed up on the screen. A clot the size of a lemon isn’t something that usually comes along with a healthy pregnancy.

Understandably, I’m a little nervous about these first ultrasounds. They’ve brought nothing but bad news so far, slow heartbeats, missing fetuses, nothing there. This morning, I’ve been shaky and tense since I woke up. I could barely eat breakfast, and only partly because of morning sickness. I couldn’t pay attention at work, and ended up pausing a lot of my tasks to just sit and breathe and try to calm down.

I got to the ultrasound place pretty early, but Kyle was running pretty late (like 15 minutes or so). Nothing distracted me or helped. None of the magazines in the waiting room held any appeal, Facebook and Tumblr seemed to just make me more tense, and I couldn’t even think of anything but “what if this is another miscarriage or failure? What if something’s wrong?”

Kyle finally arrived and we went back into a small room with dim lights. I changed and lay down on the warmed table, resting a hand behind my head and trying to stop shaking. I counted the tiles on the ceiling. The ultrasound tech–our favorite tech again–squirted warm jelly on the probe and told me, “alright, here we go.”

I saw it immediately, what I thought was a gestational sac. The trouble was, it didn’t have anything in it–no yolk sac, no fetus, nothing. That… wasn’t a good sign. At this point, we should’ve seen at least a yolk sac, maybe something more, but we saw nothing, just a dark circle surrounded by the grey of uterine tissue.

“Well, it’s something,” the tech said. “Let’s keep going.” She moved the probe around a bit, and suddenly, I gasped. There, right there on the screen, was a definite gestational sac with everything in place–the yolk sac, which provides nutrients for the baby until the placenta is fully developed, and the fetal pole, the beginnings of the baby itself. And flickering right there, in the middle of the fetal pole, was a heartbeat. Constant. Steady. And faster than we’d seen since Sam.

“98 beats per minute, which is excellent at this stage!” the tech announced. Faster than it had ever been with our first miscarriage last year. Steady. Strong.

We looked around a little more–I have some free fluid in my lower abdomen, likely thanks to my still-swollen ovaries, which are both still enormous (61 mm and 71 mm, respectively–that’s a peach and a pear in fruit sizes). The “gestational sac” we saw earlier looks like it’s actually a uterine cyst, which isn’t a bad thing but will have to be monitored as this pregnancy progresses. They want me back in a week to measure everything–to make sure the actual baby is growing and to make sure that the cyst is not (if it is, that might indicate that it’s an ectopic pregnancy, which presents its own set of Very Big problems).

But so far, it looks like finally, FINALLY, things are starting to go right, and I’ll finally have a baby legume come late April, 2018.

(the legume in question, measuring exactly six weeks, one day)

Party Party Party

It’s been a big weekend for Sam, for a number of reasons.

The first reason is the most exciting for me: he actually has started running to the potty when he recognizes that he needs to pee!


This is a HUGE milestone in potty training. For weeks now, he’s been reluctant to go, even when he needs to use the potty, and as a result, we’ve seen tons of accidents. Today, though, several times, he dropped what he was doing and RAN to the potty, doing a little dance as he did. You know the dance. That little panicked potty dance that toddlers do.

(this one)

And holy crap, I was out of my mind with joy about it! This is potty training! This is success! He still doesn’t like to use the potty when he’s pooping (he’s super constipated because of it, which is SO MUCH FUN let me tell you), but he recognizes that he needs to go and he goes. That is potty training. I’m so pleased.

So that’s my celebratory thing. The second reason this was a big weekend for Sam was that he had his first ever birthday party at a friend’s house.

The friend was his best friend Hunter; the two of them are absolutely inseparable at all times. Hunter’s mom said several times today, “They’re meant to be best friends,” and it’s so true. They just will not go anywhere without each other, and I’m so glad. I love that he has a best friend from such a young age, and I’m hoping that neither of us ever move away from each other so that he and Hunter can go to kindergarten and first grade and every grade of school together forever.

So it was Hunter’s birthday today, and Sam had an absolute blast. Hunter’s family live on a wonderful plot with acres and acres of green land, apple trees, barns, the works. They pulled out all the stops for the party–they had a bouncy house and a piñata and music and everything. Sam had a fantastic time, he really did.

A couple of things stood out in particular, though: the pool incident and the Power Wheels incident.

The Power Wheels incident first, because that one doesn’t make me look like as bad of a parent. As toddlers do, Sam and Hunter have a hard time sharing things. At school, this isn’t a huge deal because nothing “belongs” to them–it’s just the school’s stuff that everyone has to share. At Hunter’s house, though, all the toys were Hunter’s, and it was harder to talk to either of them about sharing (I let Hunter’s mom take charge of that, because I’m not going to tell someone else’s kid to share with my kid).

So the Power Wheels incident began at the sandbox. Hunter had a cool front-end-loader type of gadget that he was using to “dig for treasure.” Sammy thought this was the coolest thing in history and wanted a turn, but Hunter was, of course, uninterested in sharing. Sam sulked and refused to play with much besides a large shovel until the managed to trick Hunter off the front end loader and steal it for himself. You could almost hear his little victorious thoughts. “Ha ha! You thought the front end loader was yours but IT IS MINE! Ha ha ha ha!”


Hunter didn’t seem too bothered at this trickery, though, and a moment later, we saw why: Hunter came rolling out of the family garage on a Power Wheels John Deere tractor. He and Sammy met each other’s eyes, and he looked utterly smug as they passed; Sammy,  by contrast, was immediately awash in envy. Hunter had a tractor? That he drove? By himself?

Thus began Sammy’s quest to acquire a tractor of his own. In a shed next to the sandbox, he found a tractor, but it definitely didn’t drive on its own–it required foot power to go, like a Flintstones car. Sam discovered this the hard way by putting his feet on the footrests of the little tractor and not moving forward.

A beat or so later, Hunter abandoned the tractor for a four wheeler version of a Power Wheels that he maneuvered expertly around the apple tree and the sandbox and the shed and everything. Sammy was once again envious because although he’d snagged the tractor, he couldn’t get it to go forward. He wasn’t keeping his foot pressed down on the pedal, and the tractor was stopping and starting like an old jalopy driven by someone who’s never even seen a stick shift before. He thought the issue was with the tractor itself and watched sadly as Hunter zipped around without a care in the world.

Eventually, Sammy was so sad overall that he wasn’t running around playing. He stuck close to me and held my hand with a crestfallen expression. Hunter’s mom had to come over and convince Hunter to let Sammy have a turn on his four wheeler, and after that, they tag teamed–whatever it was they were doing. Zipping around, jumping in the bounce house, eating cake together. They had the best time.

The pool incident makes me look like a bad parent. Hunter’s family has an in-ground pool, and it’s pretty nice. We’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I got Sam some puddle jumpers and a new swimsuit, and I imagined hanging onto him and letting him get used to the water–after all, he’s never been in a big pool before.

He took a while to warm up to the idea of the pool–after all, there was a bounce house and a sandbox and Power Wheels–but eventually he decided that it would be fun. He’d been watching the other kids bellyflop into the water all day, and they were having a blast, so he was ready to give it a try.

We brought him back to the car and changed him into his swimsuit and puddle jumpers. Kyle then started stripping down to his swimsuit (I was feeling crappy; I swear to god, if there’s not at least one gestational sac and heartbeat when we go in for the ultrasound on Thursday with how awful I feel this pregnancy, I will burn something down), and we both figured that Sam would take his time getting into the pool.


See, Sam is kind of… not the bravest child. He’s skittish about a lot of things, including being barefoot, petting cats OR dogs, eating new foods, sand, fried pizza, rain, and oh, ten billion other things that I could list that he has no reason to fear but does. When in a new situation, he usually sticks to me or Kyle like a barnacle until he’s feeling more comfortable. At the beginning of the party, even though he knows Hunter and Hunter’s entire family, he still would not leave us alone until Hunter finally wheedled him into coming into the bounce house.

So we figured the pool would be the same way. Even as he started to take the first step, we thought it would be the same way–the water was deep enough that he’d have felt that buoyancy right away, and considering that he’s scared of LITERALLY EVERYTHING, I figured the buoyancy would give him at least pause long enough for Kyle to get his shorts on.

Not so. In slow motion (from my perspective), Sam took the next step and the next, not pausing. His puddle jumpers lifted him up so he was floating. In the moment of confusion about “wtf is going on I’ve never floated before” he panicked. He flailed and sputtered. Never for a second did he go underwater (thank GOD, and thank you to everyone who suggested puddle jumpers), but his face went down for less than a second and came back up again in time for him to wail in terror.

He did an impressive doggy paddle for a kid who’s never swum before (thank you, puddle jumpers) as Kyle (also in slow motion, so it seemed) finished stripping down and got into the pool. He and Sam caught each other and Sam screamed and sobbed until Kyle put him back on the concrete.

I was frozen the entire time. From the instant I realized “that child is not stopping” right until he was back in my arms and wrapped in a towel, it was like I couldn’t move (which bodes REALLY WELL for future Situations). The other moms chuckled understandingly. “Ohh, is it his first time in a big pool?” they asked and chuckled knowingly when I nodded. They probably weren’t thinking anything beyond, “poor kid, oh well, now he knows,” but my guilt definitely projected into them thinking, “what terrible parents to let him just jump in like that.”

(my expectations for the rest of the party)

We were watching him and right there the whole time. It was maybe three seconds between Sam stepping off the bottom step and Kyle getting to him. Logically, I know that he’s fine and we didn’t do anything wrong, but I’ve still been thinking that GOD, I should’ve been holding him, I should have yelled at him to wait for Kyle, I should have done anything to prevent that moment.

Anyway, despite his (understandable) fear, Sam tried the pool again with Kyle, but once he got a taste of buoyancy again, he shrieked and panicked and that was the end. He sat on my lap shivering and sniffling until he’d dried off and then mostly told us about the pool, “I was really scared until you got me, Daddy.” He didn’t have anything even remotely resembling a breathing problem, so we know he didn’t inhale any pool water, and his energy level was high until we got home after the party and he absolutely (and understandably) crashed.

And, of course, I’m now in a frantic search for well priced swim lessons near us because Sam thinks floating is the enemy.

But in the end, his memories of the party were good ones, and he had a grand time. He and Hunter remain inseparable, and he’s begging for both his own Power Wheels and a bounce house for his next birthday party (I told him “we’ll see” by which I mean I’ll be depending on Kyle and Kat and everyone I know to help me make Pinterest-worthy Star Wars stuff for said birthday party so that Sam doesn’t feel sad about the lack of bounce house). He fell asleep with a smile on his face. So overall: a win? Maybe?

T-minus four days until the ultrasound.


Everything about IVF is a numbers game, which is a fine joke on me because I’ve always hated math.


Your numbers when testing are important: what are your hormone levels–progesterone, estrogen, glucose, TSH, FSH, androgens? What is your partner’s sperm count? What does your blood look like? What does your partner’s blood look like? Is it worth trying IUI first or should you just skip ahead to IVF?

Then during the IVF cycle, it’s nothing but numbers. You have the numbers of your dosages, of Gonal-F and Menopur and HCG trigger. You have the numbers during your follicle counts and blood draws. You watch those numbers steadily climb, sometimes to astronomical levels. And after you wake up from your retrieval, you have the number of eggs successfully retrieved.

That number goes down a lot. We had 54 eggs retrieved. 38 were mature. 31 fertilized. By day 5, only 7 remained to freeze, besides the two we transferred. What a plummet, but I suppose it’s fair–with that many eggs, things are bound to be imperfect.

When you have your transfer, you worry about other numbers, mostly the number of blastocysts they put in you and their grading.

And then comes that two week wait, the time where you wait and wait and wait until your beta blood draw, where you can hopefully see a good HCG number. HCG is the pregnancy hormone, and you want yours to be moderately high and to keep climbing.

(what you don’t want on The Price is Right but do want when you’re getting betas back)

Last Thursday, my HCG was at 223, which is a definite positive. I tested again today, and though my HCG has increased, it’s not by as much as they’d hoped–I should be at around 900 today, but instead I’m around 700.

In early pregnancy, they look for your HCG to double every 48-72 hours, but ideally every 48. I’m doubling roughly every 59, so it’s not great, but it’s not the worst, either. I’m still in that normal range, but I’ve got the doctor nervous enough, with my history of loss, that she’s ordered an early ultrasound. Usually, they don’t do the first ultrasound until around 7-8 weeks, but she wants to make sure everything is progressing, so our first ultrasound will be at 6 weeks, and likely we’ll have another at the 7-8 week mark before I’m released to regular obstetric care.

The good news, despite that worrying news, is that my hormone levels are fantastic. I could’ve told you that–between the nausea, fatigue, and sore boobs, I feel like I’m closer to 8 weeks pregnant, not 5. All of those early pregnancy symptoms are caused by the excess progesterone in my system, and I apparently have a LOT of that, so I get to stop with my supplements, hallelujah. The supplements had nasty OTHER side effects that were just exhausting.

I’m still not counting any chickens; we’ve got to get through the six week ultrasound and then the 8 week; then maybe I’ll breathe easy. Until then…


Probably the best thing to happen during early pregnancy, especially if you’ve got a history of loss, is to be buried under ten billion distractions.

(see also: me when I’m pooping and Sam is outside the bathroom going “Mommy? Mommy? Momma? Mommy? Momma? Mom?”)

Some distractions are fun. For example, everyone is talking about the solar eclipse, and even though I’m nowhere near the path of totality (and won’t be heading there because work), it’s still pretty cool and exciting. I’ll probably have a live feed running on my work computer for a little bit, at least until totality, and then I’ll probably not care much. Eclipses take forever. I remember one in the early 90s–not a total eclipse, but enough of one that everyone got excited. My mom taped it, but it was just a little video in the corner of the screen alongside her soap operas (I think she was watching One Life to Live at the time? Maybe? There was a guy with a black, curly mullet, that’s all I know).

Fun distractions come in the form of media. Lucasfilms just announced an upcoming stand alone film about Obi Wan Kenobi, which has me VERY excited… though that excitement will 100% evaporate if Ewan McGregor does not come back to play Obi Wan (he’s the absolute best part of the dumpster fire that we call the prequels; he and John Williams were the only ones who came to work). And then, of course, I get excited reading about new developments at Disney World: Star Wars land opening in another couple of years, plans for the 50th anniversary in 2021, and look. If I can’t afford to go to Disney World all the time, I can at least live vicariously through people who do, right?

It all eventually winds back, though. Someone on a birth board I follow wondered if the solar eclipse might have a negative impact on pregnancies. I scoffed, of course, because that is literally impossible, but it all wound back. Star Wars and Disney World just remind me that I hope, I hope, I hope that the next time we go, Sam won’t be the only child. I wonder and daydream about logistics and I wonder if this pregnancy will continue and we’ll be able to go in late April/early May and have two birthday trips for the price of one.

(birthday at Disney World is on my bucket list and also the bucket list of every child)

This has been a weekend, too, of bad distractions. Of literal Nazis, a president who refuses to condemn them, and me wondering what the hell I’m doing bringing more children into this world when there’s this much hatred from the top down.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the first things I learned about the United States when I was Sam’s age, maybe a little older. At that age, my favorite TV show was Reading Rainbow, because Reading Rainbow is an awesome show… and because I love books and stories, and Reading Rainbow was about books and stories.

Something about the show that didn’t even hit me until I was older was how determinedly diverse it was. Of course, that shouldn’t be surprising, considering its host Levar Burton, but it wasn’t the kind of forced diversity that a lot of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s were so familiar with. You know what I mean, when you had a team of kids and there was the Token Girl and the Token Black Kid and the Token Kid in a Wheelchair, and that was the entire sum of their personalities?


Reading Rainbow did not have token anythings; when kids were featured on the show (a daily occurrence), they were just naturally diverse–from different backgrounds and ethnicities, all talking about how books and stories had impacted their lives. The episodes, too, celebrated diversity. There were episodes about West African culture, Chinese culture, Japanese culture, slavery, immigration, the works.

The immigration episode has been in the back of my mind a lot lately, along with that old Schoolhouse Rock song, “The Great American Melting Pot.” That was the first thing I learned about the United States, that it was a special country because it wasn’t homogenous, because we all came from different places, had different backgrounds, skin colors, religions, all of these things, and that was all okay because that’s what made the United States special. It wasn’t our military might, our history, or exceptionalism for exceptionalism’s sake. It was that everyone was welcome, no matter who they were.

(ignore the quality of this gif making it look like everyone is white and an extra in a Charlie Brown special)

Of course, adulthood and further study have made me realize that’s not the case, but I think it’s the ideal that we should be aspiring to, where what makes us great isn’t that we have the most nukes or the most money or that we can posture and brag about how great we are, but rather where what makes us great is that we embrace our differences and realize how essential they are to the fabric of the nation (in the most optimistic view, of course).

And that’s a pretty simplistic discussion of it and doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of things (and I’m not going to get into that here because this isn’t a political blog; it’s a blog about making and raising kids), but it’s what’s been on my mind, distracting me from the worries I’d usually have at this point.

I had my HCG beta test on Thursday morning, one vial of blood drawn and sent off to a lab for testing. It came back with HCG levels around 223 (the average for a pregnancy at this point is 187), which is Very Positive. Something stuck, and I’m not sure if it’s both embryos or just one (or, as Sam posited because he likes scaring me, triplets), but for now at least, I’m pregnant.


I have another blood draw on Monday to make sure that things are progressing. None of this necessarily means anything–last February, when I did my last FET cycle, my bloodwork came back high and great. I started to feel confident, and then I lost the pregnancy at six weeks exactly. I called out of work and spent several days curled up in bed, less sad and more just frustrated and crampy.

This time around is weirder. I can tell that the HCG is increasing because my ovaries are back to hurting. A lot. They’re not pressing up against my diaphragm anymore (at least not yet), but I’m extraordinarily uncomfortable, and if I don’t pee often enough, I’m in a lot of pain.

The nurse told me basically that the pain is normal for how many eggs I had retrieved and that it’s a good sign that the pregnancy is continuing. She said that it should taper off in a few weeks, but I’m still sitting here wishing it was gone today, because it hurts, damnit. It hurts, and I’m tired, and I’m glad to be pregnant (for now), but I really would also like to go back to bed and maybe spend the entire first trimester under general anesthesia.

Oh well. Point is: something stuck, and I’m waiting to see on Monday how long that’ll last. Until then…

Tips for Taking a Pregnancy Test When You’re Infertile

The most sensitive home pregnancy tests can detect HCG, the pregnancy hormone, at levels of 6.5 mlU. To be considered pregnant by medical professionals, you need to have a reading of at least 5 mlU.

The absolute best and most sensitive home pregnancy tests are made by First Response. They have pink dye, and really, you’ll do well with just about any test that uses pink dye over blue if you’re testing early (and if you are trying very hard to get pregnant, you’re probably testing early). They’re the most sensitive by far.

You’ll want to test first thing in the morning, not less than 9 days after you ovulate, or more than 5-6 days before you expect your period. If you test too far out, you may get a false negative. You’ll want to test first thing in the morning because the HCG levels in your urine will be more concentrated, so you’ll get a more accurate result.

Try to aim your pee well, and only pee on the test strip part of the test for five seconds. Anything more and you’ll risk getting a dye run. Anything less and you might cause the test to fail.

I always put some toilet paper or paper towels down on the counter, because no matter how much care you take, these tests get messy. If you don’t like getting pee all over your vanity, it’s a good step to take.

Set the test down and wait. You shouldn’t have to wait long. If you’re pregnant, a second line will show up pretty quickly, and even if it’s faint, you’re pregnant. I think there’s some confusion, that people think you’re not necessarily pregnant if you see a second line but it’s really faint, but you’re pregnant.

not-pregnant(if your pregnancy test does this, feel free to curse it out)

If you’re going through a cycle where you used an HCG trigger, your rules are slightly different. The HCG you used to trigger ovulation will stay in your system about one day per thousand units. If you used a 10,000 unit trigger, that trigger will stay in your system for ten days, so any pregnancy test you take before you reach the 10 day mark will be inaccurate.

A lot of people deal with this by “testing out the trigger.” This basically means buying a bunch of cheap home pregnancy tests (NOT First Response, they’re not cheap at all) and using them every day to observe the second line getting fainter and vanishing completely. Any positive test after that point indicates pregnancy.

Or you can just wait.


You’re supposed to wait. You’re supposed to wait until you get your beta results back, because a home pregnancy test can’t tell you how much HCG is really in your blood, so you can’t obsess over numbers. And, really, a home pregnancy test is just a step. After half a dozen miscarriages within the first six to nine weeks, after chemical pregnancies and false hopes, it seems like a very pointless step indeed.

But sometimes, it’s just nice to know that, for now at least, you’re pregnant.

20800232_10154786184010592_5007638337323806010_n(six days past 5 day transfer)

Betas are on Thursday the 17th, which is 10 days past a 5 day transfer. The magic number is 100; if we can get there, betas part two will be 48 hours later, at which point, the magic number will be 200. And then 400. And then I hold my breath and pray something stays in place and wait until the ultrasound, where I hold my breath and pray for a strong heartbeat.

The Harvest

I think egg retrieval is my favorite part of the IVF process. It means a full day off from work (and granted, you feel crappy during that time, not great, but it’s still a day off), and it means sleeping, and it means seeing the fruit of your annoying-ass two weeks of injections.

(mostly it means sleeping)

I had my retrieval on Wednesday, as I’d mentioned before. They set it for pretty late in the day, which is unusual–my last several retrievals have been pretty early in the morning, so we’ve had to fight rush hour traffic to get in on time. This time, though, the road was clear, and we made it in with a good 20 minutes to spare, which was a great change of pace. I sat in the waiting room with a whole bunch of people who were theoretically just like me (you could tell the ones coming in for procedures–they had on comfortable clothes and warm socks. Conversely, the ones who were in for just consults or the like were wearing nice work clothes and heels), and Kyle went back to what I’m calling the spank bank wank tank to make his contribution to the furthering of the species.

(he took a video of it that he showed me when I woke up from the procedure. There was a chair covered in sterile paper, a counter with a cup and Roku remote control on it, and a 36” flatscreen TV mounted to the wall)

And then I got called back and had to strip down and don a johnny, bathrobe, and slipper socks. I spent pretty much the entire morning pantsless as multiple people came into my waiting cubicle to ask me Important Questions like “do you ever die during anesthesia?” or “which vein is best for an IV?”

(the nurse didn’t listen to me at first and tried to go in my left arm, but when I pointed out my Best Vein on my right arm, she went there, and things were good)

The big thing I always do before procedures is tell everyone I can, “I will puke unless you give me an antiemetic in my IV. I will wake up from anesthesia, and I will puke on you and everything you love, unless I have an antiemetic.” I think I repeated this about five times before the procedure, hoping that it would mean the anesthesiologist would give me that antiemetic so that I wouldn’t throw up, and so that Kyle could take my woozy self to Friendly’s for lunch.

(I’m just saying that I totally deserved some fried food and ice cream)

(spoilers: I did not get Friendly’s for lunch)

But once I made sure that everyone knew that I would definitely throw up if not given an antiemetic, a nurse came to give me a little blue beret and escort me back to the procedure room.

Egg retrievals are really weird compared to other surgical procedures, in that you need to make sure your legs are securely way up in the stars before they give you the good night juice. I spent a lot of time positioning myself on a surgical table that seemed to be designed for only people weighing 100 lbs or less and then trying to assist the nurses as they hoisted my feet up into slings that would keep my legs way up high for the duration of the procedure. I was strapped down, and some blessed individual placed an oxygen mask over my face.

(retrospectively, it smelled a little sweet to be oxygen, so it was probably some nitrous oxide, which is GOOD STUFF)

They placed electrodes on my chest to monitor my heart, and then the anesthesiologist said, “Okay, you’re going to start feeling really sleepy, really fast, alright? See you on the other side.”

“Okay,” I answered, closing my eyes for a glorious nap. “Good night.”

The next thing I knew, I was back in one of the waiting cubicles. A nurse was talking to me, and I don’t remember what she was saying, but I do know that my knees were bent. I remembered that the waiting cubicles had reclining chairs in them and asked her, “Do you think you could help me put the footrest up?”

“Oh, sweetie, you’re in a bed,” she explained, and I opened my eyes to see that yes, I was in a bed.

“How many eggs did they get?” I asked, because this is the most important thing when you wake up from an egg retrieval.

“I don’t have the exact number yet, but I know it was at least 40.”

Forty eggs! Holy crap! When I’d gone in for my last monitoring ultrasound, I’d only had 37 follicles; another three must have popped up overnight. I eagerly awaited Kyle’s arrival and, when he sank into the chair next to my bed, told him the good news.

“We got forty eggs!” I exulted. He called me a spider mom.

The nurse was quick to correct me, though: we’d gotten at least 40 eggs. They were still counting. A few minutes later, she came back and told us that they’d retrieved a total of 54 eggs.


Kyle and I said, in unison, “Holy shit!” We said this very loudly, and we were probably not appreciated by anyone else in the little recovery area.

The nurse went on to tell us that this was the second largest retrieval they’d ever done; the largest was a woman who’d had 83 eggs removed (bless her, she must have been feeling even more arachnid than I do). She told me that they’d get back to me the next day and let me know how many of those 54 eggs successfully fertilized.

I was concerned about this. I asked Kyle if he’d gotten 54 sperm when he did his do in the room with the paper chair. He told me that yes, he’d gotten at least 54 sperm, though he hadn’t counted.

Unfortunately, it was around then that I started feeling nauseous. The nurse had given me some Tylenol for the cramping in my abdomen (because you don’t produce 54 eggs without some cramping), and my stomach was unsure what to do with this new addition. “Did the anesthesiologist give me an antiemetic?” I asked when the nurse returned. She told me that no, he hadn’t, but he’d given me fentanyl in my anesthesia, which made me more than a little nervous: fentanyl is one of the drugs I’m supposed to avoid when on my antidepressants.

But I was more nervous about my stomach’s newfound enthusiasm for puking. “Can I have an antiemetic now?” I asked. The nurse rushed away and came right back with a syringe full of Zofran, which she injected into my IV. “That’ll take a little while to work, but you should be alright afterwards.”

Even so. The nausea did not go away as quickly as everyone hoped, and I shuffled back to the car carrying a plastic bag for “just in case” purposes. Kyle instinctively took a back road from the clinic to the highway, and the twists and turns and bumps did me no favors. “Maybe next time we can take a main road?” I whimpered as Kyle winced and apologized with every bump.

But I got home safely and slept the day away to the peaceful rumbles of a line of thunderstorms. That night, I got my Friendly’s, and even Kat–who hates Friendly’s–came along for the ride. I sent an email to my office as a reminder that I’d be in late the next day, since I couldn’t drive or shower or literally do anything for 24 hours after having anesthesia, and then I went back to bed.

While I was sleeping the next day, the clinic called me back with fertilization results. Of the 54 eggs they’d retrieved, 38 had been mature, and of those 38, 31 had successfully fertilized. Suffice it to say that I will not be doing another stim cycle again for a lonnnnnng time, even as those numbers continue to drop.

It’s been two days, and I’m feeling… meh. Not my best. If I had my druthers, I’d ruther be at home, still in bed and only getting up to replenish my supply of purple Gatorade and pee, but work calls. I’m tired, and my stomach hurts, but I’m mostly functional and can distract myself from both of those facts. I’m probably going to have a pizza for lunch because health? What’s that?

(besides, pizza)

Assuming I don’t get worse over the next couple of days (today and tomorrow are supposed to be the worst days), we’ve got a transfer scheduled for Monday, two blastocysts. With any luck, my IVF journey will end there; here’s hoping. Until then…


I’m finally triggered.

(cue seven billion assholes making a million jokes about trigger warnings and being generally awful)

In IVF terms, triggering is giving yourself a shot of a medication that prompts your body to mature the eggs you’ve been growing in preparation for retrieval after 36-38 hours. The medication I took this time around was called human chorionic gonadotropin, which is the same hormone produced by the body when a pregnancy actually takes place; 38 hours from now, I’ll drift off to peaceful anesthesia land and wake up with fewer eggs in my body, thank GOD.


I feel kind of gross, but not as bad as I did when I had OHSS. That cycle, I couldn’t breathe because my organs were pushing up against my diaphragm, and let me tell you, that was not a fun experience. I can breathe now, but I’m horribly bloated–I look six months pregnant, easily. I’ve switched to my maternity jeans exclusively because my other jeans don’t button right now. I also haven’t had much appetite the last couple of days, but I’ve been forcing myself to eat protein-rich foods to try and keep my body’s fluids in my blood where they belong.

I have 37 follicles right now, and the largest follicle is the size of a grape. To understand the discomfort this causes, understand that usually, my entire ovary is the size of a grape. My ovaries are currently the size of 23 and 14 grapes, respectively. I am Spider-Mom.

(less this, more a human wolf spider)

The trigger shot itself was an adventure. Usually, the HCG trigger is a subcutaneous shot that I can just give myself in the abdomen. Subcutaneous shots involve tiny needles and basically no pain (unless you aim wrong, which I do often). They have “cute” in the name for crying out loud! They’re baby needles.

This time around, for some reason, my doctor gave me an intramuscular needle. Intramuscular needles are three inches long, at least, and are BIG. These are not baby needles. These are NEEDLES. And they need to be injected either in the thigh or in the butt.


I couldn’t bring myself to do a thigh stab, so I chose the butt and chose Kyle to do the honors.

The needle is honestly terrifying. I mean, you look at a 3” needle and you’re like “I do not want that going in me at all.” It just looks painful, and even when you’ve been through four cycles of IVF and have had countless blood draws and IVs and what-have-you, the idea of having that 3” needle in any part of is just terrible. Naturally, I was freaking out. Wailing and whining like a two-year-old. “I don’t want it!” I told Kyle and Kat, who’d come to watch the show, as I stood there with my butt cheek hanging out.

“You gotta,” Kat told me.

“I’m going to count down and do it,” Kyle said. “Stop moving. You don’t have a choice. Three… two… one…”

I winced, anticipating a stab that never came. Instead, Kyle stepped back and set the empty syringe down. “And done,” he said.

Somehow, this gargantuan needle, the likes of which made us all shudder in horror, didn’t cause me any pain.

I’m 99% sure this is because my butt is super fatty. Callipygean. I wouldn’t say we’re quite at steatopygian levels yet, but I have a lot of butt. I have a lot of boob, too, but I only ever get catcalled by butt guys (like one time, I was trying to order lunch, and the guy behind the counter would not. shut. up. about my butt. He just kept going on about how it was big and it was so awesome and why didn’t more women in Massachusetts have huge butts, and I was just like, dude, please just give me my sandwich so my butt can stay huge). Until now, it’s mostly served the purpose of making shopping really hard and making me a menace if I ever have to get up and pee during a movie.

But as it turns out, a fat butt is good for more than just wiggling. It also keeps you from feeling the pain of being stabbed by a three-inch needle.


Retrieval is in two days; fingers crossed it goes well!