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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Surrogacy Update

I've been updating my stories on Facebook and Instagram over the last few weeks but I figured it was time to put them all together for an official update. The great news is that this transfer was successful and is viable (at least so far - do you ever really feel out of the woods with any pregnancy, no less a high risk one?)

Prep for the transfer went fine. I began my med cycle just after the new year, and was fine with the shots and hormones. Some women have really bad physical reactions and side effects but besides a few bad headaches (that could be addressed with Tylenol) I was clear. The med prep consisted of three different kinds of hormone shots (Lupron, Delestrogen and Progesterone, but no more than two per night), prenatal, aspirin, two rounds of antibiotics and thyroid meds to bring my thyroid down slightly.

The trip up to Portland for the transfer was part vacation, and part procedure. Ryan and I flew up to Portland on Friday Feb 2nd, and had that evening and all of Sat and Sun to explore and eat our way through the city. Ice cream at Ruby Jewel, fresh pasta at Grassa, donuts at Blue Star, Pho-rench Dip Sandwiches at Lardo, pastrami fries and beer (for Ryan) at 10 Barrel Brewing, and fried green onions, pancakes and biscuits & gravy at Pine State Biscuits among our favorites. Hard to believe we didn't gain any weight that weekend but we did walk everywhere so that likely saved us! We also went to the Portland Japanese Garden which was stunningly designed and cared for. Even in the dead of winter it was beautiful; I can't imagine what it looks like in the Fall for the turning of the leaves or in Spring with blooms!

After the fun of being tourists for several days came to a close, the real purpose of our trip there came on Monday, Feb 5th. It was quick and went smoothly. Conveniently, where we were staying, Hotel deLuxe is literally right across the street from Oregon Reproductive Medicine. I got acupuncture treatments both before and after the transfer, and they transferred the 6 day hatching baby girl successfully and sent me back to the hotel for extended bedrest. Ryan took off that night to get home to the girls and relieve his mom, who had watched them while we were gone. I tried not to go stir crazy on bedrest for the whole next day, watching TV, reading books, updating all my food reviews on TripAdvisor... And on Wed morning bright and early I flew home, with a fresh little embryo trying to implant in my belly!

From all the surrogacy groups online, I knew that depending on how fast the embryo implants, you can get a positive pregnancy test as early as 3 days post transfer (crazy right???). When the baby implants the hormone hCG begins to be produced, and roughly the levels of it double every 48-72  hours (although levels vary widely). That hormone is what pregnancy tests detect, and the better tests can detect an hCG level as low as 12 in urine. Blood tests for hCG are much more precise of course. My first scheduled blood test was at 9 dpt (days post transfer) so I was pretty anxious to wait until then for results. Jessica, my intended mother, preferred to just wait for the official blood test so there was no specific direction to take a pregnancy test. My agency sent me a little care package for the transfer that included tests, so I planned on using those to test at home and keeping any news to myself.

I had three tests so I tested at 5, 7 and 9 dpt. All three were a faint positive but did not get any darker. This worried me, since that indicated that the hCG levels were not increasing as they should. I assumed it would be a chemical pregnancy (the embryo implants, and hCG is produced but from there fails to continue growing and ends up as an early miscarriage). The 9 dpt hCG level was 13, which was positive but lower than normal. At that point it was "continue to monitor and see" so I went in for several more blood tests; 11 dpt was 36, 14 dpt was 211, 18 dpt was 899 and 23 dpt was 3116. Luckily from that first test the levels were rising at an appropriate level so I'm guessing baby girl was just late to implant. They also did an early ultrasound at 6 weeks, because at that point, since the hCG levels were rising but were low to begin with they are worried about it being ectopic (where the baby implants in someplace besides the uterus which is super tragic because it necessitates an automatic abortion). The ultrasound showed baby girl right where she should be, and although it was a little early to detect one, they were able to confirm the heartbeat!

From there I was anxious for Jessica to get the news, so I sent her a message asking if she wanted to know how the ultrasound went or if she wanted to wait to hear officially from the RE, and she didn't respond all day (she was back in China for the Chinese New Year and it was overnight there) so she actually didn't wake up until we got the official news from the RE anyway, but she got to wake up to a happy email confirming that baby looked great! She was very happy and after being anxious over the low numbers this was a sigh of relief to us all.

It was another wait and see for two more weeks, and then I went in for another ultrasound last week on Wed, at 8 weeks. That ultrasound looked great too, and besides baby girl measuring a few days behind everything was perfect. I took a video of the ultrasound and sent it to Jessica and she exclaimed "Oh my baby! So excited to see her!" which melted my heart. We have another ultrasound scheduled for 11 weeks (we would have done 10 weeks but we will be up in Santa Cruz for spring break) and then they will release me to my OB down here at UCSD for the rest of the pregnancy if everything looks good!

They have already begun tapering me off the meds, and added a vaginal progesterone suppository twice a day which is sooooo disgusting. I was thinking I might have gotten lucky and gotten off the hook for morning sickness (since with the girls it came on strong at 6 weeks) but last week I begun to feel super nauseous. They have now approved a B6 + Unisom regime for morning sickness that they didn't do back when I was pregnant with the girls, and so I began to take that early last week and it is helping immensely. It's high maintenance (the Unisom at night and the B6 every 3-4 hours during the day) and I have to keep eating small carby meals throughout the day to stay on top of it, but that keeps it to a tolerable level. Although my sense of smell is as keen as ever (Ryan came into our bedroom the other night and I was like, "ew, you were just outside weren't you???" He looked at me like I was crazy, but I could smell that he had been outside....) at least I'm not throwing up all the time.

And I'm super excited that this weekend Jessica will be in town for a conference for work! Her conference is just north of Long Beach so she is going to fly in to SD on Sat, and she will stay with us overnight before catching a bus up to her conference the next day. I'm really excited to meet her and have her meet the family! We've picked out a Dim Sum restaurant down here to go to, and she will show us the ropes since we have never had it before.