IVF

I got follicles on the brain

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Boy the fertility center was packed on Saturday.  I looked around the room at all the different couples in the waiting room.  It was so cool to see people from all walks of life – younger couples, “older” couples (“old” in fertility years.  they say a woman’s success rate goes down dramatically at 35 years), same sex couples, and then us.  We, fortunately, would still fit in that “younger couple” group.  Anyways, there were so many people there.  So many people going through the same journey as we are.  Some just beginning down this infertility road and some probably nearing their end.  It really gave me a sense of normalcy for once.  I’m not alone.  Infertility is so common.  I wanted to go around to each couple or woman and pick their brain and ask them about their story.  Ask them how they got here, ask them how long they’ve been trying.  I wasn’t going for the crazy-lady-look tho so I kept my mouth shut but I wanted so bad to hear someone else’s journey to make me feel reassured we can do this together.

We got to our appointment a little early cuz we didn’t know how long it was going to take to get there and what the parking situation would be.  This was the first monitoring appointment Brandon was able to be at and it was nice having him see what these appointments entail.  They called me back for my ultrasound with a group of other woman.  I told Brandon it felt like we were herding cattle.  We were led to a second waiting room.  A second waiting room?  That’s how big the Chicago office is.  So many people and so many waiting rooms.  Brandon and I sat down and just as I was thinking “gee I wonder how long we’ll have to wait in this room for” I heard the nurse yell “Antonia G”.  Sweet, first in line!

I laid on the exam table with my feet up in the stirrups, a position I’m oh so familiar with, and was introduced once again to my new best friend, the vaginal probe.  Oh, hello old friend good to see you again.

With my nerves pulsing I quickly asked the nurse if she was still seeing 6 follicles on the right side to which she replied “I don’t know dear, I just started”.  :::Ok, calm down Toni.  Give her a chance to do her job:::

So I sat there while she measured and measured and Brandon was watching the screen probably wondering what the hell he was looking at.  When she was done she gave us our numbers.  The moment of truth.

3 on the left and 7 on the right.  10 follies ranging in size from 8.8mm-16.9mm.  A good size follicle for ovulation is 18-24mm.  So while I’m happy with the amount of follicles I’m still praying for them to reach a mature size.  See there’s just so many things to worry about and over analyze!

When my nurse called later she informed us of the ultrasound results again and said that my estrogen was trending good at 649.  “Uhh, ok is that good?”  I asked her.  She said that it was and my last estrogen level was 250.

So me being me I googled “estrogen levels during IVF” as soon as I got off the phone with her.  I read that each mature follicle should be producing an estrogen level of 150-200.

Cue Toni freak-out-mode.  Here are the thoughts running through my head:

  • If each follicle should be producing a level of 200 and I only have 650, does that mean I only really have 3 good follicles in there?
  • Why would my nurse say my estrogen is trending well? 650 sounds like a horrible number now that I’ve asked Dr Google (cue palm to face).
  • This IVF cycle is going to be a bust.  This is all for nothing.  I bet they’re not going to get even 1 good follicle.  My body sucks.  I can’t believe I thought it had potential to do this.
  • I’m definitely gonna have to do 12 more rounds of IVF to get a good number of follicles.

Yeah.  I’m absolutely insane, I know.  Insane is probably an understatement.  Bat shit crazy? Yeah that’s more like it.

After talking myself down from my mental break-down I proceeded with my normal life.  I’ve managed to take my mind off of it (at least until I go in again tomorrow for my next ultrasound/blood work appointment).  Med protocol is the same for now – still 3 shots a night.

Today helped keep my mind occupied on other things.  We had my niece, Lyla’s baby dedication ceremony.  Here’s me feeling pretty and letting my mind be free of IVF worries.  Anyone know where the bathrooms are in this place?

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IVF

Stimlulation Station

February 28, 2017

So I’m currently on Day 5 of taking my stimulation shots to grow all the follicles! I’m on 225 IU of Gonal F and 5 units of Lupron.  It’s been… interesting.  I had a full on mood swing this weekend where I thought Brandon was literally scared of me (once again, poor guy).  This morning I felt absolutely awful with nausea and stomach pains but it wore off through out the day, thank God.  I can definitely feel something going on in my ovaries that’s for sure.  20170228_203217Brandon has been helping me with my shots which makes it nice cuz we can do two at once which kinda makes it feel like it’s just one.   This picture is after work on Monday night.  He likes to give me the Lupron.  These are the things were bonding over now-a-days!

I went in this morning for my first follicle check since starting the stim shots. I have 5 measurable follicles and 12 in the “background” waiting to grow.  Whoah, if I feel swollen now how will I feel when I could potentially have 17 follicles in my ovaries. Huge, I’m guessing.  When my nurse called with my numbers she said things are coming along but my doctor wants to add in Menopur to help increase the number of follicles and help them mature.  The new plan is Lupron 5 units, Gonal F 150 IU, and Menopur 150 IU. 3 shots a night, yay. 20170303_115121

Holy hell does the Menopur sting.  I hate it.  I dread it.

I go back on Thursday, March 2nd for more monitoring to see where things are at.

March 3, 2017

Brandon and I took guesses on how many follicles would show up on my ultrasound yesterday.  He guessed 9, I guessed 8.  I was right, obviously.  Although I wish he was, I’d take 1 more!  I’m happy we have 3 more showing up since my last ultrasound but I’m just getting a little worried that we won’t make it to over 10 by the time retrieval comes.  My nurse said they like to see over 10 but will go in with as little as 4 but that is a very low number.  She assured me that there is still time for growth.  I just need to talk myself down from the anxiety I’m feeling over only having 8 at this point.  I worry way too much, I know.

I’m not experiencing too drastic of side effects right now.  Definitely have a sore tummy tho.  I’m running out of areas on my belly that don’t hurt or aren’t bruised.  This statement has never been so true – the struggle is real.

I’m still doing 3 shots a night and I go in tomorrow for blood work and ultrasound.  Since it’s a Saturday we have to go to the Chicago River North location.   So tomorrow morning we’ll wake up bright and early to head downtown for our appointment at 8:45.  Please, please say there are more pretty little follicles in there!

IVF

Doin shots

The past week or so hasn’t been too exciting with news to share.  I guess the fact that we got to start the shots is pretty exciting in itself tho.  I started the Lupron February 16th at 10 units every night.  They aren’t too bad but for some reason it takes some extra effort to actually get the needle to pierce through my skin.  The first night I did it I was standing there trying to push it through my skin and the needle wasn’t budging.  Brandon was watching me yelling “push it in already!” to which I replied with a loud “I AM!!”  What’d ya think I liked standing there with a needle poking me but not actually going through my skin?? Uhh no thank you!

So I continued with the Lupron injections everyday until they told me to come in again (which would be today, February 24th).  I didn’t experience too many side effects just overall moodiness and I’ve been very bloated but this could be related to my period occurring at the same time.  I’m sure it was probably the combination of the two.  I’ve been making it a point to make my gym time longer during this past week because I know I can’t run anymore once the stimulation shots start.  This bums me out cuz I feel like my exercise routine is the one thing I can actually have some control over. Does anyone have any suggestions on safe work-outs while going through IVF? I’d love to hear them!

Today I went in for another ultrasound/blood work appointment.  My nurse just called and gave the exciting news that we can start the stimulation shots!! WOOOOHOOO!!!! Let’s start growing those eggs!!  This is a huge step!  The plan is to decrease the Lupron to 5 units and start the Gonal F at 225 units for the next 4 nights until I go in again for ultrasound and bloodwork on February 28th.

If I thought I was bloated before I wonder how I’ll feel once my body starts growing all these precious eggs.

But hey, it will all be worth it! Right?

IVF

Textbook Uterus

So a lot has happened this week in our little infertile world.  Brandon went to Chicago on Tuesday to freeze a sample.  He explained it to be as awkward as I imagined it would be and then some (leather couch, TV on the wall, doorbell to ring when your “finished”).  I was dying when he was describing everything from the uber drive there to the nurse coming to collect his sample fully gowned up.  Finally, he’s the one going through a horrifying experience! Poor guy but he’s such a sport through it all.

You know how much it cost to freeze sperm? 500 dolla! Can’t we just put them in an ice cube tray in our freezer for free?? On a serious note I’m happy we decided to freeze a back-up.  I’m reading a book about a a couple who went through IVF and the guy couldn’t produce a sample the day of his wife’s egg retrieval. images So as hours and hours passed his wife’s poor eggs were dying.  She went through a month of IVF hell and then her dang husband couldn’t even keep up his end of the bargain. I think it’d take everything in me to not kill Brandon if that happened.  Hence, the freezing of the sperm.  I don’t wanna have to kill him that’d just be inconvenient for everyone.  We decided at our consultation that we were going to freeze some spermies and reading this chapter just solidified the decision.  500 dollars didn’t sound so bad after all.  A fresh sample is the best and we’ll still shoot for one the day of my egg retrieval (no pun intended) but in cases like these you gotta have a back-up.  It’s just not worth it to take that risk.

Also, I really would recommend this book to anyone about to go through IVF or going through it now.  It gives a really cool perspective from both the man and woman’s side.

The next big thing is my meds came yesterday! I kept saying I wasn’t going to believe our insurance was covering them until I had them in my hand.
Well our bank account isn’t cleared out and the medications are sitting on our table (some are also in the fridge next to some beer and cheese).  We spent a little over $200 on thousands and thousands of dollars of medications.  I think this is a good time to mention how thankful I am.  When it comes to insurance coverage, I realize how fortunate we are.  I am not taking any of it for granted.  Yes we were dealt a shitty hand when we became an IVF couple in our 20’s but we were also dealt a really good hand with our insurance.  I know there are plenty of couples out there who have little to no coverage for any of this so believe me I know how lucky we are.

Did I mention how big the box was and how many meds were in it? Talk about putting things into perspective.

As scary as all those medications look I cannot wait to get started.  Like I said before, each medication is just another check off our list to getting closer to our ultimate goal.  I’m ready to break open these boxes.  I’m ready for the pokes and bruises.  I’m at a really good place with all of this.  I hope I can keep up this positive attitude once all the hormones start getting injected into me!

The final thing to talk about this week was my mock embryo transfer/saline sonohysterogram.  I was not looking forward to this cuz I was assuming it would be like the HSG procedure I had done back in September which wasn’t THAT bad but also wasn’t that good.  I was ready for it to be uncomfortable and painful.  I stopped at Walgreen’s on the way there to get some Ibuprofen.  I took 3 in preparation.  When the nurse took me in the room she asked me if I ever had this procedure done or if I knew anything about it.  I told her I had an HSG and she responded with “this is nothing like that.”  Well that was reassuring.  She told me I may experience some slight discomfort but it won’t last long.  The doctor and nurse performed it together – my doc passed the catheter through my cervix and into my uterus and the nurse was in charge of the vaginal probe.  I fixated my eyes on the ceiling and let my body relax and then after what felt like a minute it was over.  I couldn’t believe it.  “That’s it?” I asked the doctor. It was in fact over and I didn’t feel a thing.  I let out a big sigh and told them that the HSG was way worse! My doctor responded with a “told ya so!”

I looked over at the ultrasound machine to see the pictures they took not really knowing what I was looking at.  I asked if that was my uterus on the screen.  Doc responded – yep you got a textbook uterus, things look great.

Awww yeah, did ya hear that – a textbook uterus. 20170210_211945

He assured me that things should go smoothly the day of the embryo transfer!

My nurse called later in the day to check how everything went and tell me the next step is blood work and ultrasound on February 16th to see if we can start the Lupron injections.  We also have to sign some paperwork saying we haven’t and won’t be traveling to any Zika areas in the coming months.  They will not treat us if we do.

Fine with us.  We have no plans to do so.

Anyways, did I mention I have a perfect uterus?

IVF

the journey has officially began

So I officially started taking the pill a few days ago.  This is the beginning of it all.  I laughed when I took my pill tonight.  1 tiny pill, once a day won’t get me pregnant but numerous shots, pills, blood draws, ultrasounds, surgical procedures, and an embryo transfer MIGHT get me pregnant.  20170201_211627Hilarious.  I’m feeling nervous and excited.  Each day that passes were closer to checking one medication off the list and getting started on the next.  I’ve never wanted time to go by so fast! This process has made me the master at the waiting game because that’s all you have to do when you go through infertility treatment- waiting for your period to start so you can begin the next step, waiting to move on to another medication to see if that works, and the dreaded two week wait to see if all the hard work paid off.  WAIT WAIT WAIT!  The worst part is you don’t know if all this waiting will pay off in the end.

I’ve been asking myself a lot lately if we’re doing the right thing.  Is this really what it’s going to take to have a family?  Should we just keep trying a few more months and see if it happens on its own?  Am I ready and strong enough to endure this journey that will probably be one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through?  The only answer I have for myself is – I don’t know.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that we’re moving forward with IVF and I may or may not be pregnant in the end.  I’m taking this one day at a time.

Oh and Beyonce is pregnant with twins.  Why was my first thought “I wonder how much fertility treatment she had to go through to get twins?” sigh, this is the way my brain works now.

Stay tuned

Infertility · IVF

Science is seriously cool

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I just got home from our IVF consultation and all I can think of is – wait, what just happened?  Information overload! Props to the doctor and nurse for covering everything and anything but holy shit that was a lot!

What will you do with the leftover embryos?  What will you do with them if you die? What if your partner dies?  What if you both die simultaneously? What if you get divorced?  Will you donate them to research? Destroy them? Keep them forever?

Geez Louise.  I went in there feeling so prepared with my list of questions nicely typed and printed out.  Luckily the doctor covered 99% of the questions I had on my list without me even having to ask.  I felt like everything I’ve been preparing for the past few weeks went out the window in those 30 minutes I sat in his office.  I felt like a sponge trying to soak up every last piece of information he was throwing at us knowing as soon as I walk out I’ll forget everything! I better jot this down while it’s still fresh.  To sum it up this is our plan:

  1. When my next cycle begins I will start by taking birth control. Yes, birth control.  This allows everything to shut down and gives the medical team control over what my body does in the weeks leading up to IVF.  The goal of birth control is to prevent spontaneous ovulation and hormones from interfering with stimulation.  The last medication I thought would help me get pregnant was birth control but it makes sense now.
  2. During the birth control phase I will also be giving myself daily injections of Lupron which prevents a premature LH surge that would cause ovulation of the eggs from the follicles before egg retrieval.
  3. Stimulation aka multiple injections a day to make lots of follicles (my doctor expects me to make 14-17.egg-818191_1280
  4. Shot of HCG to mature the egg in the follicle and get it ready for retrieval
  5. Egg retrieval – eggs are surgically aspirated from ovaries.  This is the part I am most nervous for.  Just looking at this picture scares me. Like seriously, what.the.hell. That needle is giant.78cd771578d83a1c21398a6afb9bc937
  6. Fertilization – Brandon’s favorite part of this whole process cuz ya know.  Well, you know…
  7. Embryo culture – growin those babies in a petri dish
  8. Embryo transfer – ideally the embryos are strong enough to last until day 5, if not doing well then transfer on day 3

After consulting with the doctor we sat with nurse who had us sign A LOT of paperwork regarding the care of our embryos and the agreement that we understood the risks of multiples.  Yes. We understand.

The best news I received tho was our chance of success given my age, health, and diagnosis.  Drum roll please…

55%!!

For the first time in a very very long time I have hope you guys! Not just because of this percentage but because the wonderful and amazing things people have said to me since “coming out” with our story.  The words of encouragement, the personal testimonies of successful IVF, and even the “hey I have no idea what you’re going through but I’m here for you” comments.  All of that is what is pulling me through this and for that I am beyond grateful.

Another great piece of news I received was regarding our insurance coverage.

A little bit of history regarding our insurance:  our insurance company is generous enough to cover 90% of all the procedures and monitoring but we have been fighting with our prescription coverage to cover the injections.  You call one day and they tell you the medications are covered and you call 10 minutes later and you’re not. We ended up not getting coverage for the medications during our IUI.  We were lucky enough to get 08fec784448bb651671d6f7368f0d99eFollistim samples through our fertility center but we had to pay for the HCG injections out of pocket.  These medications are extremely expensive without insurance.  IVF meds are like IUI meds on steroids – the list is a lot longer which = $$$$. I was really worried over the idea of paying out of pocket for all these medications (we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars).

Anyways, the good news is that by some miracle of God, everything is covered! I feel like the stars are starting to align for us.

Things are finally starting to go our way.  We’ll be starting our journey through IVF in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!

 

Uncategorized

for those who don’t know me…

  • My name is Antonia but I’ve gone by Toni my whole life
  • I live in the burbs of Chicago
  • I’m a CVT (Certified Veterinary Technician)
  • I have two pitty mixes who are my world – Eden and Janet

edenmarie  janetlouise

  • I have two sisters, Gina and Sam, who are my best friends

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  • And they both made me the Auntie to two of the sweetest angels in the world, Grace and Lyla

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  • In my free time I like to work out, be with friends and family, hang out with my pups, and watch trashy reality television (it’s a really unhealthy addiction, i know)
  • My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July.  It’s kind of a big deal in our house

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