The perks of being infertile

First off, the fertilization report!

Out of the 28 eggs harvested26 were mature, and 21 fertilized with ICSI. I’m pretty effin’ stoked about that… just waiting for the horrible news to arrive that none of them are growing. ACK! In unrelated news:

Stirrup Queens wrote this hilarious post recently, criticizing an obnoxious article titled “8 Weird Behaviours Only a Parent Can Get Away With“, which was totally lame and really just served the purpose of making child-free folks go like this:

Animated Gifs

So in retaliation, she wrote a list of stuff that only infertile women could say or do, and took the liberty of crowd-sourcing it. A lot of fellow IF bloggers commented with their own ideas, some of which were pretty sad and tragic, others of which were downright funny, and there were even a few genuinely positive aspects to being challenged in the babymaking department. So in case you didn’t see it, I’m going to copy a few of the best here (they may be slightly modified, for the sake of clarity/brevity).

The Top 10 Things Only An Infertile Woman Will Say/Do:

10. Look forward to injecting herself with nun urine!

9. Create a baby without a penis coming anywhere near her vagina! In fact, her partner may not even be in the same country — MAGIC!

8. Know exactly what the top of her doctor’s head looks like!

7. Administer shots in her own butt cheeks in the bathroom of a shady-looking gas station on the backroads of Virginia!

6. Speed through rush-hour traffic (in my case, on a bicycle) with a cup of sperm tucked into her cleavage so it stays warm!

5. Watch the moment she actually gets pregnant on a TV screen, and have photos of her children when they were just a bunch of cells!

4. Abstain from having sex for days in order to increase the chances of making a baby!

3. Drink booze at her own baby shower without anyone batting an eye since she isn’t actually pregnant (thanks, surrogacy)!

And these next two are mine…

2. Drift off to sleep on an examination table while a complete stranger shoves a condom-covered plastic wand up her hoo-ha at 8 a.m.!

1. Understand what the phrase “My RE said to POAS after my 2WW post-IUI and it was a BFN, then a BFP, so I need a beta” means!

Got any others?? Add them here below (or send ’em to SQ)!

Advertisements

A jazzy retrieval

Well kids, it finally happened — I had my retrieval bright and early this morning. And I couldn’t have asked for a better series of events.

First, despite my inner feminist scolding of women who feel they have to shave and wax their lady bits before vaginal ultrasounds, I decided that perhaps a bit of “maintenance” would help me feel prepared for this, and maybe give me a teensie feeling of control over the situation. And I have to say, I felt maybe 1% more confident spreading my legs on the examination table, so I guess it was worth the effort?

Anyway, many good things to report: 1. My blood pressure was shockingly low when the nurse took it first thing (like 130/82, which I realize is “normal” for most people, but is frankly THRILLING for me to see); 2. My doctor showed up early and got the ball rolling, so instead of nervously waiting, we got to start 20 minutes ahead of schedule; 3. I felt like an important celebrity when my “entourage” walked into the room — I had the ultrasound tech, two nurses at the foot of the table handling the equipment and test tubes and whatnot, a head nurse up at the top who was there to make sure I was OK and administer the intravenous stuff, the embryologist and his team on the other side of the window, my husband, and my doctor. And then the lights dimmed and my doc was all, “Where’s the music?” — seriously, I was half-expecting him to crank up the Rihanna and turn this into a party (there was definitely enough floor space to thread the needle), but it turns out he just likes having jazz play while he performs retrievals.

Sidenote: I have to say, having that one nurse in the room who was devoted to ME, rather than just my vagina, was pretty amazing. She was warm and friendly, looked me in the eye, and had her hand on my shoulder the entire time, making sure I wasn’t freaking out.

So then: I got some happy drugs to make me slightly dopey but not embarrassingly out of it (and thankfully NO Ativan — hooray!), then just watched on the screen as he stuck the needle in and sucked and sucked and sucked. There was pressure, but no major pain. I thought of Aramis because at one point I could feel a single tear rolling down my cheek, but I think it was just because my eyes were watery.

Are you ready for the final egg count? Ready? Ready?

28!

Insane, right? Because of this, I was told I have a 50/50 chance of OHSS kicking in, so I’m now taking a drug called Dostinex and following a shitload-of-Gatorade protocol that also involves measuring my pee to ensure I’m expelling as much liquid as I’m taking in. Assuming all goes well, I start taking Endometrin on Friday, which brings me to my awesomepants conclusion…

We came home from the retrieval and about 30 seconds after walking in the door, we get a package delivered. Turns out it was the box of extra Endometrin that Belle had mailed me! Hello, perfect timing!

endopressie

And she even included the sweetest little card, with the sweetest little good wishes! Honestly, this whole infertility-club-members-looking-out-for-each-other thing just blows me away. I will definitely be mailing out any leftover meds I have when the time comes. Thanks, Belle! Let’s hope these actually come in useful. :)

So now… we wait. I should get a phone call tomorrow telling me how many of those 28 eggs were actually mature, and how many fertilized.

Stay tuned!

Pulling the trigger!

So it’s Day 11 of my cycle, with counts as follows:

Estrogen: 13,521 (3,684 in U.S.)
LH: Don’t know, but it was 4 yesterday
Progesterone: Don’t know, but it was 9.5 yesterday

The nurse spoke WAY too fast on her message for me to write down all the follicle measurements, but I have three at 2.2 cm and a whole bunch of others from 1.9 down to 1.7, which I hope are still good. And I’m officially done with Gonal-f, hooray!

On my way out, the nurse said I should pick up my HCG and then bring it back to her so she could mix it up, put it in a syringe and have it all ready to go. So I did exactly that — except instead of putting the syringe in some sort of sterile container afterward, she placed it in this bizarre silver box that looked like it might contain a fancy necklace:

HCG

Um, is it just me, or does this look kinda hack? Like, I’m technically at one of the best clinics in the country… so… really?

Anyway, I got the follow-up call from the nurse just now and she said I have to trigger myself tonight at 9 p.m. ON THE DOT, go in tomorrow morning for bloodwork, and my retrieval will be happening on Wednesday at 9 a.m. Y’all, this is FOR REALS NOW!

Now, I don’t normally get stressed about medical procedures or pill-popping or jabbing myself with needles, but honestly, I’m fucking TERRIFIED about the retrieval process. I’m so worried my high blood pressure will go off the charts and screw things up, or that the Ativan will have its usual effect on me (ie. make my body sluggish while my head is still racing like crazy), or that I’ll be able to feel the huge needle go into my cervix/follicles, or that the pain meds will make me barf, etc. The only thing reassuring me right now is that my own doctor will be handling the retrieval and he is a very calm and relaxed and positive kind of person, which I’m hoping puts me at ease.

Maybe I can bring in my iPhone, which has a White Noise app that includes “soothing” sounds, one of my favourites being “kitten purring”, which totally calms my soul. Do you think the doctor and nurses would be distracted by the sound of purring during retrieval? I guess maybe that’s what headphones are for, right? Sigh……..

Lazy Lefty

Do any of you notice one ovary working harder than the other during your treatments? From my previous IUIs and now this round of IVF, it really seems like my right ovary always does what it’s told and gets an A+ in egg production, while my left ovary just kind of hangs out and only churns out an egg when it feels like it. When I told my mom about this, she said, “I guess you just have a lazy ovary!”

My doctor says this is totally normal — often, the ovaries take turns, going back and forth each cycle as a “producer”, but sometimes you can have one ovary pumping out eggs for the first half of your fertile years and the other pumping out eggs for the second half.

In any case, I guess my follie count today shouldn’t be too surprising — the bigger ones are definitely on the right, although there are still plenty of potential little guys on the left.

Mighty Righty: 15 total; 1.7, 1.5, 1.5, 1.4, 1.4, 1.0
Lazy Lefty: 14 total; 1.4, 1.4, 1.2, 1.2, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0

Estrogen: 4,186 (or 1,141 in US)
Progesterone: Didn’t tell me
LH: Didn’t tell me

Getting there! I’m scheduled to go back in on Sunday, and I’m hoping retrieval will happen mid to late next week.

And now… my cat Weeps chasing a Gonal-f pen cap:

PenChase

She’s also very curious about my Lupron syringes…

playtime

Weeps, you don’t even have a uterus anymore! Give it up!

Day 6, halfway to retrieval

First off, if any of you are in a position to consider donor embryos, you may want to consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give birth to a Neanderthal! Thanks to my sister for passing that on. Go, Harvard!

So we’re all just chugging along here, which is good. On the sixth day of stims and I’m happy to report that, yet again, I’m experiencing zero side effects from any of this medication, other than a few tiny bruises where I’ve probably injected the Gonal-f too quickly. No bloating, no cramping, no mood swings, no nausea, no headaches. I’ve also been told that I won’t be taking Luveris (the LH-boosting drug) because my doctor is starting to yoink that from protocols of women under 35.

My results from today:

Estrogen: 1,911 (520 in U.S.)
Progesterone: Didn’t say.
LH: Didn’t say.

Follicles on the right: 1.2, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, and 9 others.
Follicles on the left: 1.2, 1.0, 1.0, and 9 others.

Because we’ve finally started IVF, which is kind of a big deal, hubby and I decided that it was time to be a little less private about our fertility struggles and start updating our close friends. It’s been really interesting to see how everyone reacts — some appear devastated and say “I’m so sorry” over and over, while others simply get excited that we’re trying to start a family. Some have responded by asking specific medical questions (“Unexplained infertility is a good thing, right?”), while others have asked specific financial questions (“How are you affording all this?”), and others still have asked for a refresher on how babies are made. Some we’ve emailed have written back lengthy, thoughtful replies and shared their own sordid gynecological experiences, while others have written just a few sentences along the lines of, “That sucks, keep us posted.”

I always find it so fascinating to see how people react to important news, especially of a highly personal matter, whether good or bad. It just says so much about them and how they approach life, and it’s usually a very accurate gauge of their empathy or emotional IQ.

I’m curious as to whether any of you have any funny or crazy stories about coming out of the infertility closet — did anyone react inappropriately, or surprise you by being unexpectedly sympathetic?

empathy

This is a pic of the Empathy Belly! What’s that, husbands? You wish you knew what it was like to be preggo? Well, strap this puppy on! (Also: if you wish you knew what it was like to have asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, they make Empathy Lungs, too!).

Day 4, and we’re all confused

Why did I ever think this process would go smoothly? It all makes sense on paper, but somehow I’m already screwing up my Gonal-f injections and getting my cycle day wrong. The deal is, I’m supposed to be on 200 thingymawhatsits of Gonal-f every day, but they gave me two 300-dose pens, and I forgot that there would only be 100 units left of the first pen on the second day (sorry, I’m boring myself just writing this crap). Anyway, I turned the dial to 200, but instead of stopping short at 100, it went down to 37.5. So was there extra stuff in the pen? Did this mean I should take 37.5 more from my second pen? Or was this inaccurate, and should I take 100 more? UGH. Then, I go into the clinic this morning, pretty sure I’m on Day 4 because I started medicating on Friday, but when the nurse calls me in, she’s all, “So, you’re repeating your Day 0 today.” And then we had to have a please-take-another-swig-of-your-coffee-and-pay-attention talk. Then she started telling me how my estrogen and progesterone had dropped, and I was all, “LADY, THIS IS OLD NEWS! GET TO MY DAMN ULTRASOUND RESULTS ALREADY!” Finally, she confirmed it was indeed my Day 4, and this is where my follies were at:

Left side: A whole bunch, all under 1 cm
Right side: 15, all “still tiny” and under 1 cm

Then I had to ask for more Lupron, and re-explain to her why I needed extra (because of that whole repeating-my-Day-0 thing, which isn’t exactly uncommon among IVF patients) before she hesitantly wrote out a prescription for it. Man… I get that it’s 8:30 a.m. on a Monday, and they’ve all been working since 7 a.m., but STILL.

On another note, I took my Lupron vial on its first field trip last night! Yep, my first experience with injections outside the home. As y’all know, Lupron has to be refrigerated at all times, so when hubby and I decided we were going to visit his grandmother up north and then go to this weird Russian sauna-and-steam operation afterward, and it would overlap with my 6:30 p.m. injection time, I realized we’d need to bring all of my meds and stabbing mechanisms and find a way to keep Lulu nice and cold. Do we have a cooler? Of course not! Did we want to ask Bubbie if we could store some fertility drugs in her fridge? Of course not! But do I have an ice cream maker? You bet I do!

And so that’s what I did — grabbed the bucket part of our Cuisinart ice cream maker, which is stored in the freezer, then swaddled the Lupron in a tea towel, and crammed it inside. My Gonal-f pen, syringe, sharps container and alcohol swabs went into my purse. When the time came, I ran out of the Russian sauna, threw on some clothes and bolted out to the car to do my business. Honestly, it was dark and freezing, and I was sitting in a suburban parking lot using the shitty light from the overhead visor to see what I was doing, fearful the entire time that some dude would walk by and think I was shooting something far more illegal into my body. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

But for posterity, here’s a photo from my sketchy injection session, complete with little Lulu in her ice cream maker:

parkinglotinjection

Have you ever had to take your injectables on the road? If so, what kind of system did you have in place to make sure it all went smoothly?

And we’re off! Woohoo!

Gonal-f

Just got the call from our clinic — we are officially ready to start stimming! My estrogen has dropped wayyyyy down, from 320 to 65 (in U.S. terms, that’s from 87.2 to 17.7), and my progesterone went from 13 to 4.7. LH is still hanging out a steady and useless 2. Follie-wise, I’ve now got 14 on the right and 10 on the left, which is great — I’m really hoping for 24 children, ultimately, so fingers crossed. ;)

I thought I’d have to wait until Sunday to start my Gonal-f injections, but apparently my doctor wants me to begin them tonight, continuing through the weekend, with another check-in on Monday. Weird thing: I’m supposedly staying on Lupron for the entire ovary-stimulating process. Is this normal? I was kind of hoping I could kick it to the curb.

And once again, this messes with my calendar/timeline, but I’m pretty sure my Day 1 is now today — does that sound right?