Let It Go

My final check up following my egg retrieval was February 14th.
It’s been about two weeks since my procedure. As I began to feel better in the days after, I started spotting. I should have expected my cycle approxiametely 2-3 weeks after my retrieval, but of course I started spotting about a week after. My period came HEAVY with lots of bad cramping, a bit different from what I usually experienced. I attributed this to having skipped my period since late November, as this was part of the retrieval process. However it only lasted about two days.

When I entered the office I was asked to take a seat in the waiting area. Shortly after the billing secretary approached me with some papers she wanted to discuss with me. She had inquired with my insurance company to see if they would cover my IVF procedure utilizing my oocytes. She had just received the results of the request and they had stated that they could not make a decision because there was no semen analysis submitted.

This was a problem for me, as I obviously did not have any sperm in my life at the moment. She was pretty sure that this would be a deal breaker for insurance coverage since I wouldn’t be able to provide evidence of NEED without it and they wouldn’t be willing to pay for IVF unless I completed 6 IUIs which I would have to buy sperm for.

Guys, 6 IUIs is just too much. That would be taxing on my body as well as my time. She said if I were to pay out of pocket it would be around $5-6k. I figured at this point it would be easiest to do that, but with the way things were going I could change my mind at any moment.

I also was a bit insulted that the insurance company would feel that I lacked in the NEED department. I NEEDed help! I was out of eggs. My train had left the station. I was trying to make this work on my lone teacher salary. Who was in more NEED than me?!

The secretary said she would submit my lab results and the number of eggs I was able to get from my retrieval and take a chance to see if this would be enough proof for them to cover my procedure. (hey, you never know)

After waiting a pretty long time I was called into an exam room, although I didn’t think this was going to be any type of exam. The doctor finally came in and asked me to get on the table to feel my stomach. We soon began to talk about the REAL reason why I was there…

What do I do now?

A couple weeks ago I had this FIRE inside me, longing to use my eggs as quickly as possible. As time has gone on I have settled a bit and realized it would probably be best to wait a little, but I wasn’t certain what would be the BEST thing to do and was hoping the doctor could steer me towards the right answer.

I told him about my fears; that I would go to use my eggs in a little over a year and that none of them would work out and then I would be in an even worse position than I am now- no eggs, no baby, and $8-14K poorer.

As I’ve said before, my doctor does not sugar coat anything. He gives it to me straight and I really appreciate that about him.

He explained a few things to me like, doing another cycle for retrieval was not a great idea. It would cost a lot of money and my results would not be any better. He was pretty surprised that I was able to get as many as I did.

I was at the end. He attributed my short, irregular period to the fact that I was in the beginning stages of menopause and that my producing days were long gone. Looooong gone in the past…during the days when I was never trying to have a baby because it wasn’t the right TIME.

Boy, I sure do wish I could talk to my younger self. Inform me that there would come a day when I may not be able to have a baby and to not be so careful avoiding the chance of getting pregnant.

At that moment I’m sure the feeling of despair was not something I was able to hide very well. I’ve never been in such a vulnerable situation with a virtual stranger. As I tried my best to hold back my tears for the millionth time, the doctor offered me a piece of advice.

Not as my doctor, but simply as a regular person.

He suggested that I live.

I had done the best that I could for my future self. He told me I should be proud of what I had done, but mulling over it at that time would not help me. I needed to stop encompassing my life with the thought of getting pregnant, being pregnant, having a baby of my own, how or if I would be able to do either of these things. Just stop thinking about all of it and live.

And in that moment I had realized that was exactly what I had been doing. I was drowning in my infertility. I was soaking each day, filling it with worries, uncertainty, sadness, deficiency, loss, inadequateness. So many negative thoughts. So much pain.

I simply needed to let it go.

Although I was hesitant to accept this piece of advice since it had become such a huge part of my life, I knew he was right.

I needed to regroup. Get back to some sort of normalcy. Socialize. Spend time doing things for myself.

And when I left that appointment that is exactly what I intended to do.

It may not be easy. Life sometimes gets in the way. I’m sure I’ll sometimes get drawn back to overthinking about the Lucky 7, but if I ever wanted a chance to use them I had to remove myself from obsessing about them.

So, I’ll be taking a break from writing so often. I still plan on revisiting my oocytes this time next year. I will continue to write my story then, maybe even insert a few entries in between. 

This is just a short intermission. I have to take this break for me to explore the possibilities life may have for me. It’s definitely what is best for me and the Lucky 7.

I will still follow the stories of those women who have inspired me in my infertility journey, and still welcome your thoughts and feelings about mine. 

 

Lucky 7

The morning of my procedure I was extremely anxious. As with most aspects of infertility, there were still so many unknowns as to what the outcome would be. I consistently prayed that all of these injections would provide me with the result I desired.

I woke up, showered, and did my second douche in two days. Yes, douche. I suddenly had a whole new reference of a douche bag. 

I arrived at the office a little early. My mother accompanied me since I would not be able to drive home after sedation. There were a couple of the husbands in the waiting room and since we had become friendly during this process I asked about how their wives were doing. They were pretty eager to find out how their wives were doing.   

The difference was that they were moving on to hopefully transfer healthy embryos during the week, while my journey was coming to a temporary pause after today. 

They called me into the back and started to prepare me for the procedure. I put on the gown and cap and the nurse came in and went over some information with me about the procedure as well as what to expect afterwards.

I was shaking, a bit nervous. Not for the procedure itself but for the outcome. I was lucky enough to have come THIS far, was my luck going to run out? The doctor never thought I would have gotten to this point.

There were three curtained off areas and I was in the middle one. I heard a woman recovering to my left. Instantly, I recognized her voice and as the wife of one of the men in the waiting room. She seemed to be in a bit of distress, which mirrored her personality from the times we spoke in the mornings during check ups. Her blood pressure was very high and it was making her nervous, and in turn making me panic! I continued with my yoga breathing and waited. 

The anesthesiologist came in shortly after and started going over what he would be doing. He informed me that since I was a redhead I required more anesthesia for sedation. Also, he stated that he had heard I gave myself the trigger myself and was quite impressed. Apparently I had made quite a name for myself in the office. I assured him that when left with no other option, you do what you have to do. It was either give it to myself or not get it at all.  After he inserted the IV we walked over to the surgical room and I was instructed to lie on the table and insert my thighs in the stirrups with my behind hanging off the table.

It was quite an awkward position to be in, but I soon felt the drugs starting to do their job and began to relax.

There was a little drive-thru window to my left where the embryologist poked his head out and asked me a few questions about my procedure. I then asked him if he could give me a picture of the eggs that they retrieve and the next thing I remembered I was in the recovery room, uneasily waking up.

Was it over? Did I get any eggs? Were the mature? Were they strong? Could I talk to the doctor?

They assured me that I had already spoken to the doctor twice and that I had gotten 8 eggs, but only 7 were mature enough to freeze.

And that was that.

I got them. I had 7 and although it wasn’t as many as most women were getting who were much older than me, 7 was much better than 0.

At that particular moment I wanted to talk more about it, hear about everything that happened. But I was in fact feeling pretty tipsy. The nurse told me to go to the bathroom and although I wasn’t feeling quite ready to get up I obliged. As I swung my legs to the side of the bed I felt like I was going to topple over. She helped me up and brought me into the bathroom. I was able to go and then somehow lifted myself up to go back to my bed. As I was leaving the bathroom my mother was coming around the corner and the nurse had told me my mother would help me get dressed and I was able to leave.
Although I did not feel ready to leave I was too drunk to argue…I got dressed and began to leave.

The nurse then handed me the picture I had apparently requested numerous times throughout the morning.

And there they were. My 7 little eggies. I was so overjoyed. BURSTING with pride for my eggs. I am completely in love. 

My lucky 7.


I wasn’t sure what the little spots were around them, if that signaled abnormalities or something else. But I didn’t care. I was just so happy I got them and that they were mine! 

They also gave me a picture of my 8th egg that did not make it. I had assumed that this was from the little follicle on my left side. I had heard the doctor reading my numbers each time, and there always seemed to be one that was just slightly behind the others. Maybe if we had just given him a little more time, he would have made it too. I felt sad for him.


 I saw the doctor at the desk as I was making my way out and asked him about my eggs. He said there were 7 good ones and that he wanted to see me in about a week and a half, which was contrary to what the nurses had told me would be happening. They had said that I should contact the office when I was ready to do something with my eggs. I was relieved with the new plan, as I was not ready to just abandon my journey.

I would be recovering at my parent’s house and stayed there over night. After reading some women’s experiences with egg retrieval I was pretty certain I’d be up and about that day, ready to go home that night, and that I would be able to start running again the following day. Not all had an easy recovery, but I was in pretty decent shape and figured my body would just bounce back easily.

That was absolutely not the case. I took the following day off of work as well and was glad I had. My head was pounding for most of the day and since I was not able to take my Excedrin, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to rid myself of it. I called the office and the nurse told me to take my Percocet, that it should help my head.

It did, and although I did not want to use the drugs after the procedure, Tylenol was not helping the pain. My stomach was very bloated and tender to the touch. I was bleeding, but it had subsided as the day progressed. I had a lot of things planned for that day, but was not able to complete any of them. 

Later that evening I got ready to leave and made my way back home. I was exhausted and hurting, but I knew I had to get it together so I could go to work the next day. I looked around my house and everywhere were reminders of the process; pages of instructions hung on the fridge, my bag of syringes and alcohol swabs, my sharps container in my bathroom and box of band aids. (I have since replaced the papers on the fridge with the lucky 7)

And I lost it. I sobbed and sobbed. I was so riddled with mountains of emotions that I couldn’t control myself.

Part of it was relief that I would no longer have to revolve my evening around injections. Relief that I had gotten 7 healthy eggs. Relief that my life would be getting back to normal.

As normal as it could. I knew that the thought of those eggs sitting there would haunt me. I so badly wanted to use them, but I wasn’t sure how. I was so anxious about getting a donor. This would direct my life on a completely off-beat path. I wasn’t sure I was completely ready for it.

The other part was sadness. Sadness that my journey stopped here. I wouldn’t be progressing as the other women. I wouldn’t be potentially meeting my baby within the next year.

This was the part of me that was overcome. Everyone else was continuing their journeys, doing their progesterone shots preparing their bodies for transfer. That wasn’t my path, and I had to figure out how to accept it. 

I got myself up for work the next morning, not having completed anything that I had set out to do to prepare myself. I still had this lingering feeling of defeat and sadness, but I dressed myself in my best front for the day and went to work. I had a workshop, so I was hoping that my movement would be minimal and I wouldn’t feel so bad.

As the day went on, my bleeding got heavier and heavier. I was in constant pain and discomfort in my stomach, so I took Tylenol. This did NOT help.

I also called the doctor that day to check on my eggs, just to make sure that all 7 made it to freezing. Although he had assured me they were all healthy, I just wanted to double check. The nurse told me that they had all been frozen, and asked if I wanted to do another cycle.

SURE! Let me just pop out another 8k, that I didn’t have.

I suddenly felt like my 7 were unsubstantial, because although 7 was greater than 0, the usual story had womens eggs diminishing as they progressed through each phase towards IVF.

For example, one lady had 14 retrieved, only 9 fertilized, and she was waiting to see how many lived to day 5- if she would have any that were able to be transferred.

Again, everyone is different and I just had to hope that my eggs would make it, at least one would give me the baby I wanted.

It’s hard to keep your emotions in check. There are so many uncertainties, so many worries. Most will tell you to just stay positive and do what you have to do. I found this quote that completely resonated with me, because although I wanted to be that positive, upbeat person it was not always possible. This experience was completely draining.


I also told the nurse I was interested in discussing my next steps, and although my doctor was not a fan of me using donor sperm I wanted to visit the option. I was mostly interested in what the cost would be. The financial factor was actually the only real thing holding me back from following my dream. I didn’t have the money to complete a cycle without it being covered. I didn’t have the money to live on my own and support a baby. It would all come down to what insurance would be covering. I left a message for the lady in charge of billing and hoped for the best.

By the end of the day, I was beside myself. The other women I had talked to who had their retrieval when I did were feeling they were also feeling poorly, minus the bleeding. One had returned to work that day, but left early as she was in too much pain.

But the time I returned home that evening, I had the chills, my nausea was excessive, and my bleeding was bad. I referred back to the directions the nurse had given me and although I thought it had said bleeding up to a week, it actually stated that bleeding may occur for 1-2 days.

This was day 3 so I wasn’t too concerned, but apparently my mother was. She showed up at my house with a chocolate cake and sat with me for a few hours. She told me to take some Percocet and it did in fact help. She wanted to stay but I told her that it was ok for her to leave, that I would be fine!


I think that my body’s condition was in part due to my movement throughout the day, but also the emotions I was again trying to suppress. I was so unsure as to when or how I would be using my eggs and it was effecting me.

I had to actively stop my thinking and assure myself that I had done what I needed to do and that everything would happen in due time.
I was growing more and more eager to meet with the doctor in coming weeks to discuss what to do next. My appointment was for Valentine’s Day. I was hoping cupid would point me in the right direction, for once. 

The Grand Finale!

Thursday I was back at the office in the morning for more monitoring. My instructions for that evening were to continue my routine of Cetrotide in the morning, Follistim and Menopur at night. This was day 10 of stims for me and my body was feeling pretty run down. I had a massive headache and the nurse said I could take some Tylenol to help it. I was hoping when I returned in the morning the doctor would tell me I was ready to trigger that night. It would all depend on my numbers from the bloodwork and what my follicles measured in the morning.

I arrived at the office early as usual on Friday (THIRD). Two nurses came in that morning to do my ultrasound, as the doctor was not arriving until a little later. I trusted the nurses would be able to complete the ultrasound with competence just as the doctor had.

However when she went to look for my follicles she had a difficult time finding them to measure them.

“It’s very shadowy.”

I was in a panic. Did they disappear? Did I do something wrong with my injections? Why couldn’t she find my follicles?

Each time the doctor went to measure them he had no problem finding them. At this point she had been poking around for over 5 minutes and it was getting pretty painful. I sat up and she began to tell me that I would be getting a call later with my blood test results when there was a little knock on the door.

Thank you JESUS!

He asked how everything was going and I voiced my concern about the results of the ultrasound. He instantly told me to lie back down, that he wanted to take a look himself. Just to reassure me that everything was fine.

I was overcome with an immediate sense of relief.

He completed the ultrasound within a couple minutes and easily located and measured my follicles. At this point there were about 7 or 8, a few that seemed to be mature and the others a little smaller. The majority of them measured over 16 mm, but some were a little smaller. I was pretty sure he wanted them to be a little bigger.

It was another waiting game to see what my new instructions would be. Would I be triggering that evening or continuing the stimulants?

I was feeling much better than the day before, but the waiting was KILLING me! I was getting ready to leave work and I still hadn’t heard back from them. I decided if I didn’t hear back by 3:30 that I would call the office.

They called me shortly after instructing me to continue my stimulants the following evening and my antagonist in the morning.

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My bruises and bloat- sorry this is real life. I’m not very blessed in the ab department anyway
I was already pretty sore, bloated, and bruised, but I kept the end result in sight! All of this pain and discomfort would totally be worth it. I was certain!

Friday night, I went to set up for what I hoped would be my last night of stimulants, day 11. I got my Follistim pen out and went to get out my vials of Menopur when I realized I did not have any powders left of Menopur, only solutions.

I promptly dove into a panic. (I am a huge panicker, if you haven’t caught on) How could I be so careless and not notice that I had no more powder?! So absolutely careless of me. I was sure this was the ultimate mess up and it would completely void any progress I had made during the last week and a half. All of those injections for NOTHING!

It was around 7PM. There were pharmacies open of course, but none of the ones around me had fertility drugs. My haul had been shipped to me from a pharmacy that specialized in these drugs, and it was 2 hours away. I surely wouldn’t be able to get there before closing, if they were even still open!

I texted one of my friends who had just completed a cycle right before me. I explained my situation and she said that she had extra Menopur! She actually had 150 IUs left, which was exactly the dose that I needed! It’s like the stars aligned and miraculously she had EXACTLY what I needed!

I also placed a call to the answering service for the doctor’s office. I felt awful about bothering them on a Friday night, but I suppose this is the reason that they have a system like this set up. I wanted to see what my options were and if I should make a trip to my friends house that was about an hour and a half away. I would be giving myself the dose late, but I figured it would be better late than never.

As I was getting ready to make the drive, a doctor from the office called me back. I had never met her before, as she mostly worked at a satellite office that they had in another city. I explained my situation to her and she began telling me how the Menopur was half FSH, which is what was in Follistim. The other half was LH, which was a different find of hormone. She instructed me to take 225 more IUs of Follistim and that missing the LH for the evening shouldn’t have been that big of a deal. However if I was to continue the stimulants for the following evening I should get additional Menopur.

I wanted to be confident in her response, so I reassured myself that everything would be ok. I was lucky to have so much extra Follistim that I was able to have that as an option to solve my problem. I gave myself the extra dose and thanked my friend for her beyond generous offer.

Never a dull moment.

When I went in the following morning I was so hopeful for the news that I would be able to trigger that night. It was now Saturday morning, day 12.

The doctor came in to do my ultrasound and as he began to rattle off the measurements of my follicles, I was elated to hear the numbers!

22, 20, 21…

He continued to call out numbers that I was more than pleased with. I may have started out a little rocky and had gotten a little anxious when many were triggering sooner with smaller doses of stims, but EVERYONE is different. I now know that if I do this again to not compare my numbers to others.

The doctor stated that as long as my estradiol level was good, that I would be triggering that evening.

Ohhhh the trigger! I was so nervous about this injection! A huge needle and a few extra steps made it difficult to give to myself. He asked again where I lived. I was pretty sure that if I really had asked he would have met me somewhere to give me the shot as he had with the patient he told me about.

I was confident that I would be able to give myself the trigger. Remembering back to how apprehensive I was about the other injections and how ultimately they weren’t nearly as bad as I thought them up to be, I was thinking the same thing would happen with this shot. If I could do them, I would be able to do this one shot with no problems.

He said that he could have a nurse show me how to do the injection in my thigh, but I was not interested in that! I told him I had a big butt so I was more comfortable giving myself the injection there.

The doctor laughed and said, “Oh now you’re bragging about your big booty!”

I’m not sure if that was the direction I was going, but if I had all the extra meat back there I was pretty sure it would be less painful than my thigh.

He grabbed each side of my behind and made target circles for me to give my injection to myself. I wasn’t certain which side I would want to give it on, I would decide later. He reassured me I would be fine giving it to myself, but to wait for a call later as to what time I should administer the injection. The timing was VERY important. He told me a story about how one patient had not listened to the time and when he went in for the retrieval there were no eggs.

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My Targets
They called a short while later and told me to stop all other injections, but to give myself the trigger at exactly 8:30 PM.

The grand finale injection.

I had become friendly with some of the other women who I had met when arriving early and waiting for the office door to open. A couple had found me on Facebook and we started sharing our stories and experiences throughout the day. It was really nice to have others to discuss things with each day. There was a level of comfort and understanding between us that was nice to have. One of the women had triggered the night before while the other one was triggering just before me that evening. Of course both of them had their husbands doing their shots. They could not understand how I was able to do it myself.

All the women could not believe that I was doing everything myself. They couldn’t imagine it. I want to make clear that before put in this situation, I would have had the same thoughts. But when you are faced with the options of doing it yourself or losing out on your chance to have a baby, you find the strength because you have no other choice.

But I won’t lie, the day dragged. I was so nervous I barely ate all day. My nerves were shot and I was shaking a couple hours before the shot. I couldn’t get out of my head, but I was confident I would be able to do it.

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Pregnyl, my last injection
Around 8 I started setting the bathroom up. I recall one of the women stating how the powder took a bit to dissolve.

I also began icing my left side. I felt like this would be the easier one to complete the injection. One of the videos I had watched suggested it so I decided to give it a try.

At 8:25 I began to mix the solution, then changed the needle because the mixing needle would be dull from puncturing the tops of the vials.

I was set to go and began to turn to my left when I realized that this wouldn’t be the best side for me to turn to. Last minute ditch, I turned to my right and began to pinch the spot, when I remembered the instructions were to spread the skin taught.

And the needle slid right in. I didn’t dart it like the videos had said. I slid it in slowly and pulled the injector back to check for blood, but saw nothing. I pushed the medicine in and waited 5 seconds before I pulled the needle out. Blood started coming out so I quickly covered the hole with a band aid.

Yes, a hole. The needle is thick!

I went to lay on my stomach because I was nervous that the medicine would start coming out. Ha!

But I was right. The injection did not hurt at all! The needle slid in like butter. I was so mad I wasted all day being in a panic about it! The painful part was after. The site hurt for quite a while but I felt such a sense of relief that it was over. All of my injections were over! I would need to go in the following morning for bloodwork to make sure that I had gotten enough of the HCG, but that was it. I was on the road to my egg retrieval. The moment I had been waiting for. I was so excited!

I woke up on Sunday morning with a terrible headache. I was expecting it from the burst of hormones I had put in my body the night before. But NOTHING could get me down! I was so excited to see what my outcome would be on Monday for the retrieval!

The nurse instructed me to arrive at the office 7:45 AM….

Lady of the Day! 

This has been quite a turbulent ride. I have had so many ups and downs, it makes it difficult to celebrate the victories because I know I can easily get knocked on my butt by some unwelcome news.

The next few nights the shots went oooook. I really imagined that everything would begin to get easier. That as I gave myself the shots my body would become used to it and the experience would make me invulnerable to the pain. But the further into this I get, not only am I extremely sore but I can feel the drugs sitting in my stomach. It’s a pain that is difficult to describe. I would actually refer to it more as an extreme discomfort rather than actual PAIN.

Since I got good news from my doctor about my estradiol level increasing to 178 (ideal level is between 200-600) and that I should continue the stimulants, my spirits have been pretty high. The further I got into the process the less I was concerned with the bruising and soreness and the more I focused on my end result.

Additionally, I was able to get a sample of the Follistim (300 IUs) from my doctor’s office as well as a 900 IU cartridge that had been donated by another patient! Everything has been running so smoothly, everything seemed to be going my way, I was certain my appointment on Wednesday morning would have good news for me and my eggs.

I imagined my follicles grew a bit, maybe my estrogen would even grow to above 200!? I wanted to remain optimistic while not being overconfident. Although my follicles did not grow as quickly as I would have imagined, they were still growing and that’s all that matters. I have definitely learned that you absolutely cannot compare yourself to others while going through this, because no two people will have identical experiences. Although I have made it through part of the battle, there were still so many other hurdles to clear!

 I arrived FIRST again and waited for the other women to start arriving. One woman came in shortly after me and was very surprised to see that I had already arrived. We began to talk about our experiences at the last appointment. She had already began taking her antagonist. It discouraged me a little, but again there are so many varying factors in each situation. She was a bit older than me but was responding to the stimulants quite rapidly and began her antagonist on Monday.

I felt left behind.

In the dust.

I no longer felt the sensation of victory for simply arriving early.

The next woman arrived with her husband and she too had already started the antagonist. She had brought it with her so she could complete her injection around 6 AM like she did the previous morning.

0-2.

More women started arriving and everyone I spoke to had already began their morning injection. Although the doctor had instructed me to bring my injection with me that morning in case my follicles proved ready, I was still feeling quite discouraged. I was growing more and more anxious to see what my results would be that day.

A big topic of conversation within the group that morning was understanding. It’s not easy to speak about your experiences with others. It’s especially not easy to discuss your experiences with those who had no trouble at all becoming pregnant. I too did not realize the effect IVF and infertility could have on a person until I lived it. These women that go through this for years and years, round after round, it’s TRULY unbelievable. The courage needed to complete the process is something I never thought I had, until I got here. You just find it, and you do it.

I was called in first and after my blood work I waited a short time for the doctor to come in for my ultrasound. He quickly began rattling off measurements to the nurse. I have to say being probed is becoming more and more uncomfortable the further along I get into this process. I don’t believe there is any room for anything else in there besides my growing follicles.

Last time he did the ultrasound I didn’t receive the best news but I was still trying to be hopeful that I was finally responding to the drugs. Like I’ve said, everyone is different.

And I had. The doctor was so pleased with my progress. I had 6-7 follicles that were looking good. One was a little on the smaller side, but the rest were growing nicely!

It was time for me to begin my antagonist so I had brought my Cetrotide with me that day. The nurse showed me how to mix the powder with the solution and I injected it myself. She was a little unimpressed with my injection skills. She seemed to think it took me a little too long to complete the process. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be too impressed with her teaching skills, so we were even.

The nurse called later that day and gave me instructions to continue the stimulants and Cetrotide until I was told otherwise. Additionally, my estradiol level had increased from 178 to 519! WOWWWWW that was GREAT news! With levels like that it gave me hope that there were eggs in my follicles! I had to return the next morning as well.

Thursday morning I arrived around 5:20 AM and to my surprise there was a car in the lot!

The building opens at 5 AM but usually I am the first car in the patient parking lot. I was pretty sure I knew who the person was who arrived before me.

I guess I can’t ALWAYS be first. She had tried the day before by arriving a little earlier but I was still first. I will let her have this title for the day.

The conversation mostly showed that many of the women were doing well and possibly retrieving on Saturday. Some of the usuals did not show early and it made me worry for what their results may have been. Either they simply chose to come later, weren’t asked to come in that day, or had not made enough progress and stopped the cycle.

There should be some sort of notification so we know how our crew is doing!

I had brought my Cetrotide with me and gave myself the injection in the bathroom. The doors opened around 6:45 and I was called SECOND for my bloodwork and went into the SECOND ultrasound room. Luckily it still had the same light inserts so I laid back and waited for the doctor.

 He entered and instead of making a comment about my hair he said,

 “Here’s my lady of the day from yesterday!”

ME?!

I mean I know he was excited about my follicles growing but lady of the day?! There were 40 of us! To make such an impression was pretty serious!

I really tried to NOT let this title get to my head but I was suddenly filled with pride for myself and my budding follicles.

Something that I have tried to NOT do is let his happy, upbeat demeanor dictate his thoughts for my ultimate outcome.

I responded by saying I wasn’t aware I had made THAT much progress!

He has a way of whipping me back to reality pretty quickly…

He said that I just had made very UNEXPECTED progress. He wasn’t thinking that I would be responding to the stimulants the way I had. He assured me that there are still many steps we need to go through; having the follicles still grow, maintaining my estrogen level, seeing if there are in fact eggs in my follicles, retrieving them successfully, having them survive the retrieval, having them survive maturing more, freezing them, and having them survive the freeze. (and remember I still have no sperm for my baby so that’s a whole other situation)

Immediately, I was brought straight back down to Earth.

He continued with my ultrasound and said that everything was continuing to grow and that I should keep up my stimulants and antagonist and that they would see me in the morning for more testing.

Since I was going to be out of Follistim for the evenings injections, the secretary put in a request to my pharmacy for an override so that they could get the doses I needed to continue my cycle. In just two nights I had used most of the drugs that the office had given to me from the donation.

I was able to get 5 new doses from the pharmacy, more than enough to carry me through the remainder of my cycle. I was feeling extremely fortunate to have this afforded to me. There was no way I would be able to pay thousands of dollars for more Follistim. Since I was receiving extra I would hopefully be able to pay it forward and give back my extras to the office to help another patient in need.

This week literally has felt like a month. I am praying, praying, praying that tomorrow he tells me to trigger at night so I can have my retrieval on Sunday. I am eager to not be incredibly bloated and nauseated, and get back to yoga!

And hopefully figuring out when I’ll be able to use my little eggies…

 

 

R o l l e r c o a s t e r . . . 

I left my house super early this morning to arrive at the doctor early (even earlier than last time). Of course I was the first person there. I was very anxious and eager about my results; not like getting there earlier would have anything happen faster, but it made me feel better.

More women starting arriving around 5:45 and we began talking about our prior results and the instructions the doctor had given us. All of the women were on a much lower dose of stimulants than I was. The woman who had gotten her beta had some good news with her levels, although it was still a little too early to tell. Some other women had their retrievals over the weekend, as our cycles were staggered and they had started a bit earlier.

I was a little concerned about being on such a high dose. Clearly my situation required a little more bit of attention than the other women. Again, I tried to not let myself get too overwhelmed with the information.

The doors opened and I was immediately called in for bloodwork. Once the doctor arrived he began doing the ultrasound. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not too pleased. I’m not exactly sure how many follicles there were at this point, there may have been more. He stated that some of the follicles could have been old follicles that just hadn’t gone away. But the follicles that he was able to measure were not very big. Still small. It didn’t seem as though I was responding to the drugs. He would be able to give me a better answer later when my blookwork came back. If my estrogen levels went up then there was hope that the follicles contained eggs. If not then there would be no need for me to continue drugs and I would have my answer.

I suddenly was dying to have to give myself needles that evening.

In my head I envisioned my uterus to be this old, dusty attic with a thick layer of smog, cobwebs, and completely barren.

I was devastated. The doctor said they would be calling later with my instructions and that we would just hope for the best. I asked if it was more likely that I would not have the retrieval and he said he couldn’t answer that. He just did not want to give me an answer without the blood test results.

As I went to get up from the table, I felt like my legs were going to give out. They just weren’t working correctly. I felt like I was going to be sick. My heart ached. My chest was pounding. I had remembered this familiar feeling from a few months before. Except this time I had to get it together and hurry myself to work.

As I was exciting the lobby I ran into one of the nurses Laurie. She asked me how everything went and I had lost it. She just replied that I could only hope for the best and wait until the results came back. Isn’t there something she could do? Help me get the answers I wanted?

It was a long drive to work, and I was pretty certain it was going to be an even longer day of waiting for my phone call. The weather was very windy and rainy. They were calling for a nor’easter. The weather mirrored my feelings.

It’s just hard for me to understand it all. I was able to possibly accept that maybe I wasn’t meant to have a partner, but how is this my life? I so badly want to nurture and take care of someone. How did I get here? What were my mistakes?

Although I kept trying to reign in these feelings as I wasn’t even sure what the results would be from my blood work, it’s hard NOT to think this way. The vast majority of people I knew had it all. How did I end up alone with nothing? What was I going to do with my life?

I felt like I spent the majority of my 20’s avoiding getting pregnant at all costs. What if I had just been careless and slept with whomever I wanted without any form of contraception? Maybe my story would have been different.

I was watching this show the other night and the woman was saying how in her late 20’s she realized she wanted babies so she started dating and got pregnant twice.

I didn’t realize that was an option, or how one went about having babies. Maybe that was how I could have created a family of my own.

On Friday the office had called around 2 PM so it was going to be a very. long. day.

To my surprise, my phone rang a little after 11 AM.

This must be when they make the sad calls….

The nurse began speaking and I could hear her fumbling with her paperwork. She didn’t seem very upset, which surprised me. Don’t you KNOW you’re about to completely crush my world?! Have a little sympathy! At least act like you feel for me.

She started by telling me that the doctor had reviewed my blood work and that my estrogen levels were increasing. I was to continue taking my drugs and the doctor wanted to see me again on Wednesday morning.

I was completely shocked. I was literally feeling like a shell of myself, a puddle on the floor. Although this did not in any way mean that I would be going through with the retrieval, I was in fact one step closer.

Now I need to order more drugs because I am out of the Follistim. We will see how that goes…. a pen costs about $1,000. Hopefully my insurance is still ready to cover it. QUICKLY!

When will this rollercoaster even out?! I cannot WAIT to give myself shots tonight! It’s a celebration!

I feel like I’m on Chopped and I made it to the main course round!

Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake, Cake

I feel like I keep referring to many of my recent days as “the beginning”. On this day I started ANOTHER leg of my journey. Another beginning. The STIMULANT chapter.

I will save you the repetitiveness of expanding upon my feelings about administering myself the injections. All of the information I read and the videos of people in their bathrooms that I watched prepared me for the WORST! I was pretty certain the intolerable STING of the Menopur or the double shot dose of the Follistim was surely going to do me in.

I’d like to reach out to those that OVER-prepared me for this….

Because it HONESTLY was not even CLOSE to as bad as I built it up to be in my head!

That night I set my clean work area up in my bathroom. I also brought in my laptop so I could simultaneously watch the teaching video while I was going through each step.

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Menopur- two powders with one solution, mixing needle and administering needle
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Follistim with two caps for my two separate injections

My plan was to literally mirror each step as they progressed in the demonstration. So when it came time to stick myself with the needle, I just did it. No hesitation at all!
And it wasn’t that bad.

I actually would suggest this method for others.

I have to say when I think back to how I was actually not going to complete the process due to my fear of the injections I can’t believe how foolish a notion it was.

Each time I inject these magical medicines into my stomach I hope they shoot right towards my follicles and plump them up so I produce some AMAZING eggs for my retrieval next week! I feel so powerful and accomplished with each injection. I’m DOING THIS.

And it’s CAKE.

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My 3 injection spots from the first night. (The bandaids don’t make it better)
Speaking of cake….

When I was younger our maltese had diabetes. Each night we had to give her injections and I can distinctly recall her backing her behind into our legs when she saw us starting to get the needle ready, BECAUSE she KNEW she was going to get a treat after!

This gave me the brilliant idea to REWARD MYSELF each night after I completed my injections.

 

If I wasn’t bloated enough from the drugs alone, the weight I would gain from all the goodies would definitely show in my waistline.

Which, yes I am RIDICULOUSLY bloated. By the end of the day I am super uncomfortable with the way my body looks. I have been wearing stretch pants and potato sacks to work. But this is all worth when I have my retrieval!

If I have my retrieval?

I keep forgetting (whether or not its kind of purposely I’m not sure) that there may NOT be a retrieval. Although I talk to the drugs and direct them to plump up my eggs, maybe they’re not listening? Maybe this is my way of finding out I’m not supposed to be a mom? I’m just not sure but I knew when I went to the doctor on Friday I would for sure have more answers.

Since I cut it SUPER close with getting to work on time Tuesday, I decided to get to the doctor BEFORE 6 AM, as the patient who was first on Tuesday stated she had arrived at 6.(Don’t give away your secrets!)  I am an early morning person so this was no big deal to me. My group of women did not mess around. I was up for the challenge.

I arrived at the office around 5:45 and was pleasantly surprised when the elevator door opened and I was the FIRST one to arrive. A small victory.

Around 6 a woman and her husband arrived along with another patient. Slowly more and more people arrived and each time the elevator slid open, shocked faces appeared. The crowd grew and grew. While waiting we of course all engaged in conversation. About what other than what had brought us all to that very moment.

Our (in)fertility.

It is a little strange talking about being infertile when I never even got the chance to try to get pregnant naturally. The majority of the women that morning were in their 3rd or 4th cycle, as previous ones had been unsuccessful. These women were NOT here for an insurance policy, they were here for their family. The group was so diverse in age, race, and appearance. One woman discussed all of her failed IUIs, which seemed to be a very common theme. Apparently she had to complete IUIs before insurance would contribute towards her IVF. This was her 4th round. All prior unsuccessful. She said how the doctor kept referring to the fact that she was 40 (OLD for conceiving purposes). He suggested using a donor egg, but this was not a solution she was comfortable with.

Which led nicely into the woman next to her who was in for her Beta, as she had already been through 4 unsuccessful IVF cycles and was currently using a donor egg at the age of 42.

Most stories had one thing in common. Failure. Lots of failures.

And tens of thousands of dollars lost.

One woman said she was discussing this with her husband. How much is a baby worth? They had already spent over $30,000. What if this doesn’t work? When do you stop?

A multitude of failures that these women have gotten through and pressed on for their desired outcome- a baby of their own. Truly amazing.

Why does it have to be so HARD? I just sit there so sad for these women. Their stories literally break my heart. I can’t believe all that they have been through and they’re still able to talk about it. I suppose it has consumed most of their lives for an extended period of time. And just like with writing these posts, telling your story is a bit healing.

But I sometimes forget that this could be ME one day. I couldn’t begin to think about it. I just needed to focus on what was in front of me.

But I was just at the beginning…

The woman using a donor egg said she was not even telling most of her family about how she conceived her child (if the process worked). But here we are, face to face, perfect strangers, and sharing our most personal stories.

Did I say telling OUR stories, because actually I simply listened. I think I was so in awe of their strength and perseverance, I couldn’t tell them that I only started this process a few months ago, and that this was my first fertility doctor. Most women had years into the process and had tried a few doctors before this.

The doors finally opened and by that time there were about 20 patients waiting; eager to have their answers. I wasn’t too sure how many answers we would have after today, but I knew that after the testing from the day was processed we would be called that day and given further instructions.

I was the first one in and after my blood was drawn I was taken back for my ultrasound. The tech reported that I had 3 small follicles on each side.

SMALL?!

I’ve been shoving needles and drugs in my stomach how can they be small?! This was definitely not the news that I was expecting to hear.

The nurse assured me that it was still early, that they would call me later with my instructions, and they hurried off into the next ultrasound.

I was left in the room, pantless and extraordinarily disappointed.

I need instant gratification. I felt like these drugs would produce 20+ mature, strong, healthy eggs with the first pop! They would be so strong that I wouldn’t even have to continue with them after today. I’d have so many eggs, the abundance would be overwhelming.

But early that afternoon, I was told to keep the dose I was on, that I didn’t have to come in on Saturday, but they would see me Monday morning for a follow up.

By Friday night, I already had a couple bruises on my stomach and it was super tender. My cockiness towards the injections was failing and I was not looking forward to finding a spot where it wouldn’t hurt. Sure I could use my upper legs but that made me a little nervous. In my head, I didn’t know how the drugs would travel between my thighs and ovaries. I wanted a straight shot for best results.

I set up for the injections and started with my Follistim first. The needle is so fine, it usually gliiiiiides in like butter. But tonight I had a difficult time getting the initial puncture, and the injection burned.

I knew that if this injection was troublesome, the Menopur was going to be a reallll problem. I had to get out of my head! I did some breathing before mixing the drug.

This needle did not disappoint. I could NOT get it through my skin! I had to re-place the needle and try again. It buuuuuurned bad! (maybe this is what the other bloggers were talking about) When I went to remove the needle, blood started pouring out. I was afraid I was losing the drug through the blood, but I was honestly just happy it was over.

I was pretty sure that the following nights would be close to the same, as the site is just so sore, bloated, and uncomfortable.

Saturday nights injections were accompanied by a little bit of wine.

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It did take the edge off.

Are you going to yell at me for having a few sips of fermented fruit? It’ll be ok. I honestly have not had a drop of alcohol since Christmas.

I’ve been staying at my parents a lot this week, as they are having some health issues and my mother gave me this necklace. It has St. Gerard (patron saint of expectant mothers), St. Anne (Mary’s mother), and Jesus. She wore it when she was pregnant with my sister and I. Although I’m not trying to get pregnant I’m hoping it brings me some luck. 

My mother’s necklace

I’m eager to see what my test results say on Monday morning. Really hoping and praying that I haven’t done all of this for nothing. I need my frozen insurance policy.

 

 

Hope for My Girls 

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 It’s STIMULATION DAY 1!!!

Before I get into the particulars I would like to take you back to my injection teach yesterday. Just in case I ended up on the floor when trying to do my injections, my mother came with me to listen to the instructions. (Not like she would be of much assistance, as she has a light stomach as well)

My nurse Laurie escorted us to the OTHER side of the office- the side where the lab is and procedures take place. I have to say my doctor’s office is quite nice. There’s a kitchen where patients may help themselves to various snacks, drinks, and coffee, a comfortable waiting room, and each examination room is outfitted with “moonlighting” and light insets with pictures of nature such as clouds and trees.

Sooo relaxing.

Back to the OTHER SIDE

 

Laurie had requested I bring one of each medication with me to my teaching session. I packed up my cooler with my Follistim, Pregnyl, Cetrotide, Leuprolide, and Menopur. Additionally I brought all of my needles so I knew which ones to use with each drug. Although Laurie kept telling me that all the information I needed was on the paper she was giving me I took my own notes on a memo pad- such the eternal student. I feel like it always helps me remember things when I “translate” them in my own “language”.

I’d be doing three shots a night- 2 shots of 300 IUs of Follistim and 150 IUs of Menopur (which I hear REALLY stings!) Since I was taking such a high dose of the Follistim I needed to break it up into two injections. I was thrilled I got to poke myself an extra time!

I guess I haven’t actually addressed this part…but I’m scared to DEATH to give myself the injections. I don’t want to do it. I’m sure it’s not something that is on the top of most people’s lists but I REALLY don’t want to do it. I sometimes wonder if women who are completing the stimulation cycle and then doing IVF have a different attitude towards the drugs, as they are looking at the instant gratification- the possibility and hope that within the next few weeks they will become pregnant and this time next year they may in fact be holding their little baby in their arms!

Me?! I’ll just have my vials of hope stored away somewhere cold and pray for the best. I know that I am lucky to even have THIS as on option. Maybe in a couple years I will have someone to conceive a baby with OR be prepared to complete the process on my own with donor sperm.

So the instructions for the injections seem mildly scary, especially for someone who is not used to using needles and mixing powders with solutions. The ONLY thing that really threw me for a loop was the trigger shot.

 

http://freedommedteach.com/eng/videos.html?play=general_im

O.M.G.
A shot in my behind. A REALLY LONG NEEDLE IN MY BUTT. Intramuscular.

And…don’t forget to make sure you don’t hit a blood vessel.

 

(insert terror emoji)

 

How I was going to do this by myself?! The woman in this video must surely have a muzzle on, or the sound if COMPLETELY off because I’m CERTAIN I will let out some kind of terrifying sound like someone is cutting me into itty bitty pieces when that SWORD punctures my skin!

I’ll leave that to figure out when it happens.

I told Laurie I would have to work the next morning and since the instructions stated that patients should arrive between 7-8:30 the next morning for blood work and an ultrasound, she suggested I arrive at 6:30. There would be 40 women completing their cycle during this time.

WOW! Definitely not alone…

Although I would prefer NO ONE to have to ever go through this process just to be able to do something women are SUPPOSED to do, it does somehow help to know you’re not the only one.

Following the appointment filled with needle anxiety, my mother offered a way to soothe my worries- hot dogs and cheese fries!

 

And now back to stimulation day 1….

 

My alarm went off at 4:30, as I had to stop at my parent’s house before my visit to the doctor. (Yes in the midst of my own situation my parents were having some health problems of their own) At this point my anxiety levels were not too bad about my situation, but this would only be blood work and an ultrasound.

When I arrived at the office at approximately 6:27 I was surprised to see 4 other women (some with their partners) waiting in front of the doctor’s office door!

These women do NOT mess around. They had their folders clutched tightly to their chest, surely filled with all of the pertinent information and paperwork they had received from the doctor up until this point. I too had received a welcome folder with some packets filled with IVF information but quite honestly; I have no idea where it even is at this point.

A couple of the women were talking and I quickly realized that this was not their first rodeo. It was clear from the conversation that they had already completed a cycle in the past. I’m not sure whether or not they were successful tries, if they had completed an IVF cycle, or an IUI cycle. But I admired their willingness to share their stories with strangers essentially. It’s not always easy to talk about your struggles. But perhaps since there is a commonality among the group, there was a certain level of comfort and understanding in the air. I really appreciated it.

 

Then I suddenly realized something…

 

This room was FILLED with possibilities! Possibilities for happiness or heartbreak, success or defeat, joy or pain. Surely we have all experienced a fluctuation of most of these feelings throughout our own journeys. I just couldn’t help but think which of us would be on the statistical side of success and which towards failure? My desire was for all of us to be winners. Please let all of us succeed. Me and my group this morning. My girls. Please God let this work for us.

 

Once the nurses opened the door at 6:30 we all signed in and were seated in the waiting area. At this point there were 7 women, 5 of us alone and two with their partners. My mind immediately started racing with curiosity about each one, and as more and more people entered the office it became clear that yes, anyone can be effected by infertility; white or black, old or young, thick or thin, rich or poor, single or married. Although there were many apparent differences between us, we all knew we had one thing in common.

I had so many questions swirling around in my head about each one of them. After examining their left fingers I wondered how many of the ones who had a ring absent simply left them at home, and how many of them may have been looking at me thinking the same things. One patient next to me was definitely some sort of businesswoman. She came in with her brief case and whipped out a computer to work on while we were waiting. Some others came in dressed for the day and others were in gym clothes. Infertility doesn’t care how pretty you are, or how smart you may be, how perfect your hair is. This can happen to anyone.

Most of the room was fixated on their phones to pass the time. Gone are the days when people read the magazines that are left out for entertainment, watch the local newscast on the TV, or even carry out a conversation with the person next to them.

Except for two women by the door. By this time it was past 7 and there were about 20 women waiting in the room. I had already had my blood taken and was asked to return to the waiting room for an examination room to become free when I started to eavesdrop on a couple women talking to each other. One had just arrived and was commenting on the number of people in the waiting room. It’s not usually this crowded. How long would we have to wait? They then began to discuss their experiences with the doctor. One woman began to comment on how this was her first time doing IVF but that she had once before tried IUI annnnnnnddd….

 

I was called in for my ultrasound.

 

After I undressed from the waist down, I went over the questions I wanted to ask the doctor in my head. Although this is something I practice doing I generally forget the things I wanted to ask after conversation starts rolling. I figured my time with the doctor would be brief as there were many other hopeful women waiting in the other room for their turn.

My doctor entered with Laurie and his same jovial disposition, commenting on how much he loves my hair, as usual. He began saying how he wanted his wife to dye her blonde hair red, as she had done once before. In turn I told him how difficult it is for people to hold on to red dye if they are not natural redheads.

After my examination he stated that everything looked great and began going over my injection instructions. I told him I was very worried about the BIG one. The TRIGGER. The Pregnyl. JEEEEEEZ that needle was thick and long! I wasn’t sure I could do it myself and my mother was not willing to help me with that one at all!

He assured me that there was nothing to worry about and if worst came to worst I could come to his house that night and he would do it for me. He then told me a story about a patient who was also worried about that shot and met him in the parking lot of a local restaurant to give the shot. I believe they would have had quite a bit of explaining to do had a police officer rolled up on a car where a woman had her pants pulled down to a man inserting a large needle with drugs.

His offer did relax me a bit but I wasn’t quite sure how serious he was. Maybe I could let his wife in on my own personal hair dye mixture I make so she could achieve the color her husband wanted. Kill two birds with one stone…

I was out of the office and at work on time. I am anticipating more patients to arrive earlier on Friday after having experienced the wait this morning. I will have to up my early arrival game to 6 AM to get to work on time again for the next round of testing….

Please say a prayer for me tonight as I embark on my injection journey.