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