IVF

How do you like your eggs? Fertilized.

On Thursday March 19th I went in for my egg retrieval.  The part of this journey that I have been the most anxious about.  I’ll run through what this day was like. 20170311_172211.jpg

I woke up bright and early from what wasn’t really a good night’s sleep (that was to be expected).  I took a shower and put on a little bit of make-up so I didn’t completely look like a zombie post procedure.  I woke up Brandon about a half hour before we were going to leave in order for him to, um, ya know do “his part”.  I fetched him some coffee to give him some alone time.  Yes, this is all as awkward as you’re imagining it to be.  Nothing about IVF feels normal.

I tucked Brandon’s sample under my vest to keep at body temperature and we were off to the fertility center.  Shortly after we got there we were brought back to the area with the recovery and procedure rooms.  We started off in the recovery room where my nurse (who was awesome) took my vitals and had us sign some papers.  She humored Brandon and took his blood pressure too.  It was a little bit high.  I think his nerves were worse than mine.  After she was done she brought me a nice warm blanket and I laid in bed til they were ready for me.  You’d think my anxiety and nerves would be through the roof but oddly enough I was completely calm and at peace.

A new nurse came in and said she needed me to pee and then we were off to the procedure room.  I walked in the room which was filled with about 4 other people – the embryologist, the nurse, the anesthesiologist, and eventually the doctor.  The anesthesiologist slapped a nasal cannula on me that delivered oxygen and within seconds placed an IV in my hand – ugh I was really hoping it wouldn’t go in my hand.  I positioned my legs where they told me to do so and then I was told I would begin to feel the medicine.  Last thing I remember was looking up at the clock on the wall.

When I came to I was back in my recovery room.  Apparently I got there in a wheel chair which I have no recollection of.  Brandon said I looked hilarious and was cracking up when they wheeled me in.  He decided it was a moment that needed to be cherished and snapped a picture.  What a stand-up guy! 34319.jpegThe first thing I remember hearing was I did great and I just started crying happy tears.  Yes I was drugged out of my mind but at least they weren’t sad tears!  I kept telling Brandon how much I loved him and told him not to let go of my hand.  He was adamantly shoving crackers and water in my face.  He must of been instructed to make sure I eat and drink right away.  Or he just really enjoyed treating me like a drugged-out-parrot.  I felt aaaamazing.  Propofol is cool.  I remember not feeling any pain and couldn’t believe it.  I idiotically thought this was how I’d feel the rest of the day.

In my stupor I heard the nurse say something about our eggs and Brandon repeated it back to me.

“9 eggs”

9 eggs? I asked.  Is that good?

Very good, replied the nurse.

OK, 9 eggs.  Not bad! Now lets just get these little guys fertilized!

I started to come out of my drunken spell and they brought me to the bathroom because I had to pee before they would release me.  A quick piddle in the toilet and I was back in my room slowly getting dressed.  We were out of the door about 30 minutes after my procedure.  And that’s when the pain kicked in.  Dammit I knew that was too good to be true.  While the pain wasn’t excruciating it also wasn’t mild.  It was somewhere in between.  Brandon got me home and settled on the couch with nurse Eden by my side.  He grabbed me some food and I took some Tylenol 3.  I was in and out of naps the rest of the day.  We wouldn’t hear from the nurse until the following day with the update of how everything did over night.

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I got the anticipated call the next day.

My nurse opened the conversation by declaring it was good news! Yes!

Out of the 9 eggs retrieved, 8 were mature, and 7 have been successfully fertilized.

7!!! Lucky number 7!!!

She said they would call again tomorrow (which is today) with another update and give us our transfer date.  Ahhhh we wait again! Please please stay strong little embabies! Brandon and I were joking yesterday how it’s exhausting being parents to 7 kids.  So exhausting that we were in bed by 8 o’clock.  I blame it on the Tylenol with codeine, I’m not sure what Brandon’s excuse was…

Today I got the update while I was at work.  I sprinted downstairs while yelling to my co-workers “I GOTTA TAKE THIS CALL!!”

Again the opening of the conversation began with “I’ve got good news!”

“You still have 7 embryos and your transfer will be a 5 day transfer so you’ll be back in on Tuesday”

We still have all 7 AND they are strong enough to make it to day 5!! What the hell, is this real life!?

Yes it is.

I probably won’t be doing too many more updates after this point because I’d like to keep the status of our pregnancy private until I’m ready to announce it – whether it be positive or negative.  All I ask is that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers and keep everything crossed for us.

This might just be it!

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!

 

Infertility

doctors, ultrasounds, and needles OH MY

I took the first steps to getting some answers by making a general check-up with my gynecologist.  Well, what would be my former gynecologist (they were awful).  I told her my symptoms and she ran some baseline tests (blood work and ultrasound).  Everything came back normal and in this clinic’s mind that was the end of the story.  My problems with my cycles and difficulty trying to conceive didn’t seem too important to them so I moved on to another office.  This doctor was a lot more receptive.  She also ran some blood work to make sure everything was OK and even had Brandon take a “test” to make sure his uh, things, were functioning normal.  She wanted to make sure everything checked out before starting me on Clomid (a drug used to stimulate ovulation).  She was assuming the abnormality of my cycles was related to anovulation which is when a woman goes through a cycle without ovulating (this assumption ending up being correct). The only abnormality she found in my blood work was low levels of Vitamin D which isn’t uncommon especially for living in the Midwest.  She told me from the beginning that I would do a max of 4 rounds of Clomid with her and if still no pregnancy I would have to see a specialist (a reproductive endocrinologist).  I was certain it would work since I knew a good number of girls who had gotten pregnant on it and I was excited to get started.  I think Brandon felt like he was on pins and needles the months I was on Clomid.  I felt like a woman going through menopause on it.  Horrible hot flashes and cranky mood swings.  My doctor was really good about monitoring me while on it.  She would do an ultrasound to check the number and size of the follicles growing (to lower the risk of having multiples) and then I’d get a progesterone check to make sure I actually ovulated.  My body wasn’t responding the way we wanted it to and before I knew it I was already on my 4th round and as you can probably guess it didn’t work.  I only ovulated 2/4 times.  I balled my eyes out when my doctor told me it was time to go see a specialist.  I knew that this was going to be a whole new world that I wasn’t sure I was ready for.  I think I was so upset too because it made it really real.  It was like I officially had a stamp across my forehead that said INFERTILE.

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It worked out that I wasn’t ready to see a specialist just yet because it took me about 5 weeks to even get in with one.  My appointment was September 19, 2016 (a day short of our 2 year anniverary ♥).  The day of my appointment I had no idea what to expect and Brandon couldn’t make it due to work.  I had so many thoughts and questions bouncing around in my head.  Are we doing the right thing?  Maybe we just have had bad luck and we should keep trying on our own.  Do we start treament right away? What will “treatment” be?  Do they care? Are they nice?  It turned out that the appointment was a consultation with the doctor where I sat in his office and we talked about my history, what we’ve tried already, and what the very next step would be.  He didn’t go too far into detail about what the plan of action would be because it all depended on how my blood work came back.  Yes, more blood work but these tests were a lot more elaborate than what I’ve done before.  They tested me for everything and I mean everything.  Brandon even had blood pulled too.  I think they drew about 6 giant tubes of blood on each of us.  I also had an HSG performed which pretty much just makes sure my “plumbing” works.  Finding out the results was another waiting game.  I had to wait til my next cycle began for the appropriate time to have my blood drawn and then had to wait another 3-4 weeks to get in with the RE to go over the results with us.

These appointments with the RE are all on their timing and convenience, not ours, which I totally understand but it makes it hard with 2 people who work full time.  My work has been understanding of what is going on and has let me take the time off that I need for these appointments.  We were able to work it out so we could go on a weekday that Brandon had off but the only catch was that our doctor was in the city on the day we could see him.  So to Chicago we went.

The day of the appointment brought a lot of nerves and excitement.  I was really looking forward to hearing what our plan would be and for the first time in a while I was feeling hopeful that something might actually work for us.  He started by going over our blood results – everything on Brandon’s end was normal and mine was pretty normal overall but some of my numbers did reflect that I have irregular cycles (nothing we didn’t know already).  He then explained that the best step for us to take would be to try an IUI (intrauterine insemination).  This included taking more Clomid and injections, BA!  I’m ok with needles and I’m used to using them everyday at my job.  I’m ok with all the blood draws and I was never one of those people who was scared of needles and I’m still not but the thought of injecting myself with said needles just creeped me out.  The doctor laughed when I made a face and reminded me that I’m a vet tech and I’ll be just fine giving myself injections.  Brandon, being Brandon, wanted to clarify his role in all this and in so many words asked the doctor if he just needed to “go in a cup” the day of our IUI.  Him and the doctor laughed at how easy his part is in this process and it felt like I was sitting in the room with 2 frat boys talking about sex for the first time.  This lightened the mood but at the same time I wanted to slap both Brandon and the doctor!  The doctor said he would have me do up to 4 IUIs before moving on to IVF – of course depending how my body was reacting to the medications.  After we were done talking with him we met with his nurse who sat us down and had us sign paperwork.  The paperwork was pretty much an agreement that we understood the risks of multiples by going through this procedure.  This was a scary part of this whole process.  I started to envision myself as Octo-Mom.  That’s not what I was signing up for!   In all reality that couldn’t possibly happen with all the monitoring they put you through but still it was a tad unsettling thinking of myself with more than one baby at a time when I’m not sure how I’ll even handle one!

We left that day with a plan and that plan was an IUI.  We waited for my next cycle to start and we began what would be the next big step down a long road.