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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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.