Greetings, menopause!

Rarely in life do you get to experience a teaser for what’s to come about 20 years down the road. Sometimes, after shovelling snow off the front sidewalk, you’ll get a backache and think, “Man, I guess this is what arthritis will be like when I’m old.” Or maybe, when put on the spot, you can’t remember how old you are for a few seconds and think, “Crap, is this what memory loss is going to be like when I’m 70?” Now, I get the distinct pleasure of starting my Lupron shots and settling in for the preview of a film I like to call This is What Menopause Will Be Like, Sucker! I hear Roger Ebert gave it a very bad review. My mother also rated it poorly, giving it zero stars and declaring, “You won’t sleep at all.”

For those who have no idea what “Lulu” is all about, it’s basically a drug that suppresses the ovaries. This means they stop producing estrogen, and also don’t go right ahead pre-selecting an egg to release during ovulation—this, in turn, means the fertility doc can take better control over the whole reproductive system and help the ovaries produce MANY eggs, rather than just one, and it all happens on his (or her) schedule.

So, yes. Here we go with all that. Got my assortment of syringes and alcohol swabs and a needle disposal tub ready.

Lulu

Fortunately, the whole stabbing myself in the stomach part doesn’t bother me. The only annoying thing is, I have to do this every night at the exact same time, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. I’m thinking it makes more sense to do it closer to 5, because if I’m ever out for dinner with friends, I don’t want to have to rush back home immediately after the main course or, worse, sneak off to the bathroom and start unpacking my mini nursing station.

Otherwise, I guess I just have to prepare myself for the symptoms of not having any estrogen: Hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss, bone loss (?!), depression, fluid retention and weight gain. No problem!

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Under pressure… really, really, really high blood pressure…

Just as I was getting used to all my hopes and dreams being pinned on the magical day of January 20th, turns out the nurse at my clinic made a mistake in her voicemail yesterday, and I’m actually scheduled for a possible retrieval on January 25th, meaning the transfer would be closer to January 30th. Now, I should say that I do trust the staff at my clinic, but slip-ups like this kind of freak me out a bit. Note to self: Quadruple-check the label on the sperm sample before we hand it to the RE this cycle.

On a separate note, I went in this morning to learn how to administer all of these injections, which was kind of boring seeing as I’ve already figured out how to stab my own ass with PIO shots, thanks to some very helpful YouTube demos. But anyway, I had to do yet another patient intake and my blood pressure was off the charts. I sort of knew it would be, but it scared me nonetheless. Here’s the thing: Whenever nurses or doctors take my BP reading, they always seem to think the machine is broken — I guess because I’m young-ish, I’m not overweight, and the numbers that come up just seem inconceivably high. So they switch arms and take a second reading. Then they ask me to relax and stop talking and take a third reading, before finally sitting back and blinking their eyes in astonishment as they conclude, “Wow, you have really high blood pressure!” Note to medical staff: Letting your jaw drop right in front of me does not HELP with this condition!

My reading this morning was around 154/104. Yeah.

The (barely) reassuring thing is that by the time I got home and started working and took another reading with my own monitor, it was down to 135/95. And I just checked it again now, and the systolic has dropped so it’s 125/95 (proof is right here):

In the "yellow" range, according to my device.

In the “yellow” range, according to my device.

Whenever I check it late at night, when I’m about to go to bed, it’s usually around 120/85, which is totally respectable. Still, I know this puts me at risk for pre-eclampsia if/when I do get knocked up, and I get somewhat panicked about this.

Do any of you guys have hypertension at all? What do you treat it with? I’m really curious to know just how bad it gets during pregnancy; I’ve heard it actually can go down initially because there’s more estrogen in your system, but eventually will start going up again as the baby gets bigger. Thoughts/advice?

PUPO by January 20th?

So, first off, I feel the need to say that I won’t be posting anything about the fucking HORRIBLE atrocity that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary—partly because a lot of other bloggers are doing such a great job of it and you should be reading what they have to say; partly because, as a treehugging pacifict Canadian, I have pretty unwavering convictions about gun control; and partly because I feel weird turning this space into anything other than a snarky infertility diary. The only thing I will say is that, according to statistics, most likely one or more of those kids shot last week belonged to parents who had gone through infertility treatment. I cannot imagine enduring years of negative pee sticks, IUIs and IVFs, miscarriages, etc., and then finally feeling like I made it to “the other side”, and then having that ripped away in an instant. Horrible.

——INSERT SEGUE BACK INTO SELFISH BLOGGING HERE——

So I received the beginnings of my IVF schedule, all of which was communicated in a voicemail message, meaning it’s a bit scattered, but whatever—still exciting. I’m on these antibiotics now, and on Sunday reacquainted myself with dear old birth control. I must say, just opening that 21-pack of tiny pills was like running into someone from university that I purposely have not kept in touch with. It was like, “Ohhhh, hey… you! Uh… long time no see? How’s it going? You totally look the same! But, like, different in a way!”

It matches my Estrace!

It matches my Estrace!

And it’s true—BCP hasn’t really changed, except that instead of taking Marvelon (was anyone else on that? I have this weird suspicion that I was the only person who ever got put on Marvelon), I’m now taking Apri (where on earth do they come up with these names, anyway? It’s like they just forgot the last letter of April and couldn’t be bothered to correct it). So far, no side effects, although I never seem to get any to begin with.

Anyway, after the BCP, we kick it up a notch!

Tomorrow is my teaching session for the injectables.
Dec. 27: I start on Lupron, 0.1 cc, taken at night once a day.
Jan. 11: Bloods and u/s, get other meds, return all consent forms, pay for IVF cycle and get another endometrial biopsy (which they probably won’t even look at—my doctor says they just do this because aggravating it makes the uterus extra “sticky”. Honestly, between the lasers and the biopsy-just-for-stickiness, I think my fertility doc is a little crazypants).
Jan. 13: Take more fertility meds (the Luveris, maybe?).
Jan. 15: Possible date for egg retrieval.
Jan. 20: Possible date for transfer.

Not totally sure where the Gonal-f will come in, so I need to clarify that, and I’m also not sure whether I’ll be going in for bloods and u/s every morning between the 11th and 15th (I assume I will), but otherwise it all seems pretty straightforward. There is a strong likelihood that I could be PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise, as they say in the TTC community) by Jan. 20. Never has a date sounded so magical and full of promise… January Twentieth… just has a nice mouth feel, don’t you think?

ICSI and Oosight and Lupron, Oh my!

Relief! Such relief. Met with Dr. No Nonsense this morning and he said the results of my lining biopsy were normal, other than a mild infection, which I’m going to treat with a couple weeks’ worth of antibiotics. The great news is that we’re all cleared to start IVF in January! I feel like giving my uterus a hug and a little pat on the head — ya did good, kid.

So I got my protocol. It starts with Gonal-f, which is pretty much like an old friend at this point, then moves on to a couple of newbies: Lupron (which I’ve heard crazy rumours about) and Luveris (a form of LH that improves egg quality). We’ll be doing ICSI (or “ick, see?” as everyone in the biz calls it) and possibly assisted hatching depending on how my egg shells look. Oh, and because we LOVE doing as many tests as possible, we’ll also be doing this thing called Oosight, in which our RE fires laser beams at my embryos’ spindles to see if their chromosomes have split up evenly (yeah, science! Wait, um, maybe slow down a bit, science). Last but not least, we’ll be doing a Day 5 transfer because Day 3 transfers are considered “so last year” by our embryologist. Depending on how everything looks, we’ll transfer either one or two embabies. And then I’ll be knocked up!

Lasers

And no, I will not even entertain the possibility of a negative pregnancy test after all of this insanity. Not an option.

YAAA(panic)YYYYY!!!!!

My blue period

So for my recent mock cycle, I had to take a buttload of estrogen and progesterone to mimic the insane hormonal situation I’ll be in when I eventually do my first round of IVF. New to me was this drug called Estrace, which I was pretty sure my doctor said was a vaginal suppository. But when I got home from the pharmacy, I looked at the bottle and the pills inside didn’t resemble those conical, waxy progesterone suppositories, nor did they come with any sort of applicator thingy, like the Endometrin. Instead, they were tiny and blue and looked like they were meant to be taken orally. The label even said, “Take with food,” so surely my doc was wrong?

I called the clinic and asked to speak with a nurse. She put me on hold, then came back and said, “You can do either with these pills, but Dr. No Nonsense prefers that you take them vaginally.”

“OK,” I said. “But the label says ‘Take with food’ — do I need to do that?”

And she says, “Oh no, don’t go putting any food up there!”

Now, I get that she probably hears some bizarre questions from IF patients, but did this nurse really think I was going to start shoving burgers and fries up my bizniss?

“Um, no,” I replied. “I just meant, do I need to EAT a meal around the same time that I take these?” Honestly, woman.

So moving on — I started using the Estrace, and it was horrible. I’m actually one of those lucky gals who never experiences side effects when it comes to drugs. Pump me full of birth control, methotrexate, a million vaccinations, whatever, I will never suffer any mood swings or nausea or headaches. It wasn’t any surprise, then, that when I took the Estrace, I didn’t really feel anything. But the leakage — oh, the leakage. With up to six of those tablets going up there each day, all of them desperately rushing back out like they’d seen a ghost (to their credit, my cervix probably does look dead), it was disgusting.

I told my hubby that I felt like a menstruating Smurf, 24/7.

His response, for the next three weeks, was to refer to this as my “blue period.” Because puns were REALLY what I needed at that point.

Anyway, needless to say, I’m not looking forward to Round 2 of this crap. Any advice on how to deal with neon-blue leakage? Do I just have to buy pads, or is it better to maybe use my Diva Cup?

A work from Picasso's blue period. I call it, "What My Lady Bits Probably Looked Like While on Estrace"

A work from Picasso’s blue period. I call it, “What My Lady Bits Probably Looked Like While on Estrace”