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…

 

 

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.