Yes, I’m a bit late with talking about my second trimester. (Anyone else noticing my procrastination issues?)

For my excuses today we’re going to combine the standard “busy” line along with the fact that my second trimester was rather easy for the most part.

There’s a lot of different opinions on exactly when each trimester begins and ends.

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Make your own whipped body butter! It's super moisturizing and much less expensive than store bought body butter.

Make your own whipped body butter! It’s super moisturizing and much less expensive than store bought body butter.

Moving to Montana has made me appreciate many things, including humidity and moisturizers. While living in Seattle I was naive and blindly ungrateful for my healthy hair and skin. I’ve never been a huge fan of fancy body products. Recently, moisturizer is an absolute necessity. Between the lower humidity, cold temperatures (it’s -7 Fahrenheit outside right now), our ridiculously hard water, and being pregnant my skin is a little out of whack. I tried lotions, which either did nothing or seemed to last for all of 10 minutes. I tried fancy belly butter, which worked but made me feel like a greased pig. I tried a few in betweens with various results. Then, I decided I was going to do some research and make something myself. The results? Whipped body butter.

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Twenty weeks marks the halfway point of the pregnancy (if I deliver right on my due date). Twenty weeks also marks the anatomy scan, an ultrasound that checks on baby’s anatomy – including the genitals.

I may have spent longer than anticipated coming up with a simple gender announcement that I loved. I have always loved all things baby related; they make me go “awww” and it’s obnoxious. Until now. The pink and blue and glitter and baby animals is just too much – it actually makes me angry sometimes. I never thought I would be the person searching for baby items that are a little more simple instead of covered in adorable decorations and primary colors. I still go aw over many things baby related, just not so much the cutesy stuff at this point in my hormonal journey. While there are thousands of gender announcement ideas all over the internet, I wanted something that was ours. Without further adieu…

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I wish I could tell you that the emotional turmoil linked with years of infertility just magically disappears with a positive pregnancy test. I wish more, that I could tell you my mind is free of negative thoughts, fear, hesitation. Instead, we’re going to talk about something ugly. Pregnancy after infertility. We’re going to talk about the impact of infertility – after the positive pregnancy test.

Pregnancy after infertility can be a complicated mess of feelings to process!

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I’m not sure how I ended up in my second trimester, it feels like I just found out I was pregnant. At the beginning of this pregnancy journey I promised myself I would try to not slam everyone with constant pregnancy updates. Well, I met that goal, but may have been a little extreme and neglected to post a lot of what’s been going on. So, here’s a rundown of my first trimester – with pictures! The pictures are just spread out in chronological order, they don’t have anything to do with any particular symptom/week relationship.

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I’ve been waiting to write this. Waiting until I got both rooms clean so I could take some decent pictures and not show the internet how terribly messy we get sometimes. Fuck it. We’re messy, and I’m okay with it. For the record, this is not gross messy. I don’t leave dirty dishes hanging out, I wash my sheets, and even vacuum on a (mostly) regular basis. It’s busy messy. It’s ‘two-hundred-thirty-seven projects going on at once’ messy. It’s ‘we haven’t finished the house and have very little storage space because most of the cabinets are missing’ messy. It may also be related to the fact that I’m almost constantly nauseous and never stop wanting to take a nap (twelve weeks pregnant folks, time is flying).

Please keep in mind that these rooms are not finished, just livable. We still have a hundred things to do in them including trim, outlet covers, and hanging our art on the walls. They are far from perfect, but compared to having a “living room” that’s a combination living room, dining room, office, and bedroom…it’s amazing. Now we have an actual bedroom. Then an office that’s an office/living room/dining room. Progress is progress. I am completely smitten with the fact that I now have a bedroom. It seems like a silly thing, until you don’t have one. Want a peek?

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It worked. We did it. I’m pregnant, finally.

I only recently started sharing my infertility journey, but we have been trying to start our family for two years and nine monthsAt some point I’ll summarize our journey, detail the emotional turmoil along with all the medical crap. But today, I’m too fucking happy to talk about all the heartache.
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Don’t get too excited by the word pregnant. The embryo transfer involved the doc putting those lovely embryos of mine back into me. There was still a long wait (9 days) before the pregnancy test, but after the embryo transfer it is pregnant until proven otherwise. I am to act and think pregnant.

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When I first went over the basics of IVF fertilization and embryo growth wasn’t included as a step. While it’s technically not a stage of IVF it was definitely separate from the egg retrieval and not included as part of the transfer. From here on out, I’m calling it a step. It was definitely on it’s own level in the middle of this process.

As you know, my egg retrieval yielded an outstanding 35 eggs. After retrieval there are three separate reports. The first report is day one after retrieval (so the next day), and involves the number of mature eggs and the number of fertilized eggs. The second report is on day 3 after retrieval. The third and final report is on day 5, usually the day of the embryo transfer. 

Prior to my egg retrieval it was suggested that we try ICSI on half of our eggs. ICSI stands for intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection. Basically, ICSI involves injecting a single sperm into a single egg. This differs from conventional fertilization where they pretty much dump a bunch of sperm on each egg and let them fight it out. Generally ICSI is used for couples with male factor infertility – aka sperm issues. My nurse explained that it was recommended to us, despite Casey’s super sperm, because we have unexplained infertility. According to her ICSI can improve fertilization rates in couples with unexplained infertility. This could potentially point to an issue with the fertilization process, or my eggs, but it’s mostly just more effective over all. It was to be treated like a safety net, so we bit the bullet, forked out the extra cash, and decided to use ICSI on half of the eggs retrieved. 

Day One: On day on I received a call from my nurse tell me that I had 14 eggs left fertilized and growing. Fuck. Logically, I knew that there would be a drop off between retrieval and fertilization. I knew because I have done buckets of research, and because they told me at least 12 times. Logic did not prepare me for that number. Not even a little. It is heart wrenching. 

Out of my 35 eggs 25 of them were mature. This means that 10 were out of the game right away. Immature eggs are to be expected, not all follicles grow at the same rate, so there are going to be some that are too small to produce a mature egg ready for fertilization. The 25 eggs were split for the fertilization process, with 13 eggs being fertilized with ICSI and 12 eggs being fertilized with conventional fertilization. Out of the 12 eggs conventionally fertilized only 4 properly fertilized. Out of the 13 ICSI eggs 10 fertilized. I never really got an answer as to what this means, if it indicates a potential problem for us or not. To me, that is a VERY significant difference in the percentage of eggs fertilized. That’s 33% vs 77% for anyone who doesn’t want to do the math. 

I’m happy we did ICSI on at least half of the eggs. If we end up needing a second round of IVF I will definitely choose to fertilize all of my eggs with ICSI. 

Prior to the retrieval I was told about 70% of the eggs retrieved will be mature and about 70% of the mature eggs will fertilize. If we apply this to my eggs I would have ended up with 17 eggs fertilized, so I came in a bit below average. It was disappointing to say the least, especially after my awesome response to my stimulation medication and large number of follicles retrieved. 

Day 3: The second report involves how many embryos are still growing/dividing properly. One day 3 we were left with 9 embryos, and were told that they were looking and growing right on track. My nurse said we would lose about 60% by day 5, and that we wanted 6 embryos left on Day 5. (60% of 9 is 5.4 for anyone wondering). 

Day 5: Waiting for Day 5 was the most difficult wait. I was terrified that none of my embryos would make it, and that I would have nothing to transfer. Early morning on Day 5 I got a call from not my nurse giving me some basic instructions and telling me that we do have embryos to transfer and to show up at 11am. No report on my remaining embryos by phone, I had to wait until I arrived at the office to hear about them. When I arrived we had three embryos ready for transfer, all grade A. Yes, A is the best in embryo grading too. We also had 5 embryos remaining that they were going to watch into day 6 to see if any progressed to blastocyst (the stage that they want to freeze at). My doctor was hopeful that some of those 5 embryos would be ready to freeze by the next day. 

I’m saving the embryo transfer story and final embryo report for my next post, it deserves it. 

I could have included all of my fertilization and embryo growth reports with my retrieval, or my transfer. But it was very much it’s own thing. Waiting to hear how many made it was excruciating. Making embryos was a lot more emotional than expected. I get grossly sappy just thinking about it. For the first time, I knew for sure that we made something together. I’m not going to argue about when life begins, but dammit – Casey and I made these tiny little starter humans and I am fucking proud of every one!