My long, hormonal journey began on May 10th even before my Aunt Flow arrived. Ok it started wayyyy before that, we've been trying for 13 yrs but this was our first round of IVF. We'd done Clomid, Femara and no contraceptives for years. This was our last shot at success.
The journey began at the doctors office, overwhelmed by information, being rushed off for ultrasound and bloodwork. Mike sat in the office for most of it and by the time we were done we had been there for almost 5 hrs. We had to stretch our legs a couple times cause I was falling asleep waiting in between for the doctors or nurses to pop in.
We were given all our paperwork and it was like a huge textbook that you don't want to read cause its gonna either scare the crap out of you or loose you in all the stuff their trying to fit into your appoitnment but didn't make it in. I sat down for three days reading it all. Mike is still stunned at how much more complicated it was than he thought.
He thought - shots, take the eggs, fertilize, bammm baby! Uhhhh NO.
First was this contract we were given to look over. You had to discuss but NOT SIGN the options and have you completely understand them by the time our appointment came around with the doctor (which was right before retrieval). It went over what you wanted to do with your embryos if you got divorced, either one of you passed away... Ummm really, was this the appropriate time to discuss this? Who wants to say - so if we get divorced, we just let the embryos dissipate? or donate them to science. This was a shocker not only to us but my girlfriends and their husbands. Who thinks that far in advance? But apparently someone had this happen so now its in the book. Along with every possible outcome during fertilization. Did you know that if you have the doctors 'hatch' your egg, its called assisted hatching, that it always results in identical twins. So now they have to have you read it, know it and sign your initials by it to acknowledge that you got the info. The entire contract has spots to sign your initials to make sure the doctor went over every last bit of info and you understood it all.
So you have the bible of IVF in your hands, you've had your bloodwork done, your husband too, you've had an ultrasound and well if you know ahead of time you husband has now made a 'deposit' for them to freeze in case the fresh 'deposit' isn't good enough on the day of retrieval.
The deposit - let me just say I tease the living daylights out of my husband for the 7 days he couldn't do anything. It drove him mad. lol I still look back and smile about that. They should wait 3-5 days on no fun, even with themselves, before they make a deposit. AND it will be tested and the results mailed to you.
Mike's deposit results came back to us suggesting that we do ICIS - were they put the sperm in the egg themselves instead of waiting for the egg and sperm to have fun in the petri dish. We ended up having the doctor tell us no, the results were still high enough for him to let nature just happen. Mike liked that lol, he didn't like the suggestion his manhood wasn't working.
Now I haven't touched the ultrasound topic yet... its pretty detailed. This first one you go for is a big deal. They need to located your ovaries, measure everything. Its a lot of poking and prodding and unfortunately for me, it was extremely uncomfortable cause ultrasounds are already painful for me to begin with. Then the next step scared the SHIT out of me. I actually wanted to jump off the table, say thanks but not thanks and uhhh your nuts!
LOL I gotta say it was all anxiety cause in the end this part didn't hurt, it just sounded like it was going to be a torture session. I know the doctor told me what it was called but all I could do was stare at this long tube he kept moving around in his hands. Apparently they needed to put a speculum in, like a papsmear, and place this LONG LONG LONG spaghetti like tube that is really bendable into your cervix and make sure theres nothing wrong with your cervix. They do this to make sure that when they put the egg(s) back in there's no blockage and if there are any weird turn in your cervix, they'll know ahead of time. Stuff they needed to know but you just did not lol.
THEN while this thing is in you, they take the internal ultrasound probe and measure more things and how far to stick this tube next time so its not too far up your uterus and far enough up your cervix. You don't want a tubal pregnancy and you want to make sure that embryo makes it into the uterus. Ohhh they do flush a little fluid in, but that didn't do more than a cramp for a few seconds and it went away. It was when I got up that I wish I had a towel to place between my legs lol.
First appointment at IVF clinic - be prepared to be there awhile. Make sure husband has been abstaining the right amount of time. That your dressed comfortably. That you have snacks and drinks stashed in your purse cause Mike ate my crackers that the nurse gave me after I had my freak out moment and thought I was gonna hurl. Figure out where your gonna put all this information at the house and be able to get at it any given moment.
I kept my stuff in a folder and all my meds by my office desk. Cause you don't know how many times I thought of a question and dived right into the folder to reread something. I also printed off a calander and marked it each day with appointments, meds, ultrasounds. So I could keep up with it all.
Our ride home from the appointment was a long silent ride.
Mike had turned to me and said 'this is all up to you. if you don't want this, we don't have to. but if you do, I'll support you.'
Remember this was way more than Mike thought it was gonna be. More in depth and more involved. I was scared and I talked to my girlfriends about it. You may want to keep this to yourself encase it doesn't work BUT you WILL need support around you either way. I found it very comforting to post on facebook, talk to my gf's, talk to my mom, sister... anyone that had been involved in it. Talking helped.
We obviously made the decision to go ahead with it. And we were a little more prepared the next time at our appointment. I brought snacks lol.
So we had a quick appointment to go over a calendar of dates and a class on how to do shots. The nurse went over how to give myself shots, how to have Mike give me the big shots in the butt that I couldn't even see to do. How, when where and what was going to happen over the next couple weeks. I again was overwhelmed but made notes during the whole appointment on the shots, anything that I thought was important. Like which needle was going with which medicine, where to do it on my body, etc. They were nice enough to give me a colored picture diagram for the one medicine cause it was so complicated lol. Once we felt comfortable enough with the info and the shots the nurse had me go laydown on a table and she drew two circles on my back hip area. This was to be used for the HCG trigger shot and the progesterone shots, which wasn't gonna happen for a while but she wanted us to keep marking them as it faded and gave me a marker to draw on me. LETS just say Mike took that to mean, he could draw on me. This is a permanent pen that last for weeks and it was summer. Where you were low waist shorts and tanks. Everyone I hung out with got to see them. "Them" since I have smiley faces now and thanks to my girlfriend who suggested a tongue and hair I have a whole head there on each side. LMAO.
Now the most shocking moment was going to the pharmacy. I had them call it all in to the pharmacy at the U and picked it up before we left. I got there and I was told one med had to be refrigerated and she'd be right back with my bag. She came back alright, with a gosh dang brown grocery bag!! LMAO I had so much stuff to pick up that they could only put it in the old brown bag and Mike just laughed his ass off.
Now I will say I was fortunate enough that my meds were covered by my insurance. It is truly the one reason we could do this. Otherwise the meds would have cost over $8000. That's just the meds. Not the procedures. I will make a note, that I ran out of meds at the end of my cycle and had to go back and get more. So be prepared that you might have to get more and that your local Target/Walmart don't normally carry these and have to order them in IF they can get them.
So I have all these meds and a schedule in hand and we had a few weeks between our next appointment. Some clinics are doing this all the time but at the University of Iowa, they only did it at certain times and it was considered their 'Uptime'. So we had to schedule my body to their time schedule. Which meant going on birth control for 3 weeks or doing provera for 10 days to bring a period on when THEY wanted me to start a period. Lovely, lets bend my body even more. lol
I opted for the Provera, for me the lesser of two evils. Uhhh lets just say I had migraines sooooo bad. I cried for days while taking it cause we couldn't figure out at first why the pain pills were working. We finally realized it was all hormonal so the pills did nothing. As soon as I stopped, the migraines went away. It was a blessing and the first time in years that I looked forward to my period lol. I was actually excited to get it.
So here I am, taking Provera for a couple of days and then 3 days before stopping the provera I had to add in the Leuprolide shot. Everyday after 4:30 and before 10pm and it was in my thigh. I laugh hard when I think back to the day I had to start them. I was soo scared it was gonna hurt. I had heard horror stories about the needles and how much it burned, yadda yadda ya. So I decided to let my gf who is an OR nurse and lives across the street do them. I sucked it up, filled the needle and then stopped and thought... hmm what should I wear? my shorts were too long, my other shorts would hit the spot she was gonna do. So I threw on my swim bottoms and walked over. I told her to just do it and turned away. Ya know, just like the ultrasound, it didn't hurt. She actually still makes fun of me for this! So after that I was able to stab myself daily.
Then the big moment came. We got to the call the clinic and tell them I started my period. This started the whole process and more needles.... I just look back at it and shake my head. I was not anywhere emotionally or informationally prepared for this.
First they had me come in for bloodwork. They wanted an estradiol reading. It should be anywhere between 25 to 75. Mine came back at 20. The nurse was happy with that. Apparently the higher the level in the beginning the higher the chance of overstimulation. ohh yeah you could get overstimulated. Its in the paperwork lol.
I was to start my Follistim pen the next week - yes I had my gf do it the first time and help me load it. Her husband is diabetic and he even showed me how he did his cause it almost takes two hands. One to stab yourself in the stomach and the other to push the top of the pen down to insert the meds into ya. It did get easier as I went on.
Back in for another level a couple days later, it was up to 49. It supposed to multiply 2.5 times every two days. So I was a point off. Then they added Menopur. This one was complicated. You had to take so much fluid from one vial and add it to another vial that had powder in it and then again if you had to do two powder vials. Lets just say I f'ed up the first time. But its ok, if you do - call the nurse, she'll walk you through it! Then that one went into my leg. It was a little different needle so yes, I had her do it for me again. And yet again it didn't hurt, this one just burned going in. and you had to rub the spot afterwards. They also lowered my follistim.
Again back to the labs... This time my level was 176. Better than they expected and things were on track. Mike was getting grumpy - I forgot to mention my lab was at the University too. A 2 hr round trip ride just for a 15minute blood draw. IF I could find a local one nearby that could do a estradiol level and give them the results same day, they would have charged me roughly $50 each time to review it. So it was worth the trip to me. We had to be there each time between 8:30 and Noon. Lets just say Mike was an eager beaver and we always got there by 8am. He was grumpy for a couple weeks.
June 4th and it was day 8 of my cycle and I was back at the U for blood work. This time my level was 406 and I was getting excited. It was gonna happen soon. BUT when I talked to the nurse she told me that I still had to come in for an ultrasound, possibly two more, more bloodwork.... etc. I was stunned. We were told that most couples had retrieval between day 8 and 10. Her response - not everyone works the same. She upped my follistim back to what it was.
June 6th - still on all the meds and now I'm going for a 7:45 AM ultrasound. Ya Mike was not all that thrilled and neither was I by this time. I was sooo uncomfortable. I was bloated, achy, emotional. An ultrasound was NOT the treat I wanted. My tech read my file and knew my left ovary was hard to see. So she warned me that she needed to see it and that she was gonna try. I nearly fell into tears. This... was gonna hurt. Mike was in the waiting room, thinking it wasn't gonna be that big a deal. I wish he had gone in with me. People can go in, bring your spouse, mom, gf ... anyone that will support you. Plus its kinda cool to see the eggs developing. I did get to see them on the right side. She measured and tried for the left. But it was a no go. I was soo thankful when it was over. I was sore afterwards even more so when I got there. I hobbled to the car. Mike was starting to wonder how I was gonna make it through this.
June 8th, another ultrasound. This was a big moment for me. I was so in pain, so uncomfortable. I was ready for this to be over. The same tech greeted me and she said she was gonna have help this time. She had a student tech there, so that she could push on top while the student did the machine. This was her only way to see the left ovary. I vomited after wards. I still wasn't ready. My eggs were not large enough. She could see them, measure them but it wasn't time. I got bloodwork and met with the nurse. I cried like a big ol' baby. The nurse was soo kind and she'd seen it plenty of times before, so she just let me babble and cry. I was a mental case being told I'd have to wait a couple more days and come back again for another ultrasound. I was told between days 8-10 we were to do retrieval and I thought on day 12 this is never gonna happen. The hormones had taken over. The nurse said everyone was different and yes that was the average but I of course was not average. So it was back tomorrow at 11:15 am and Mike had to come with.
Remember that big bible of info. Yeah I had to bring it with this time. We were going to meet with the doctor and go over it all and sign our lives away.
June 9th - The ultrasound was better this time, more prepared, she was able to measure them all - they were FINALLY big enough. I was excited and on edge LOL the big shot was gonna be that night. Ahhh I was dreading this shot more than anything. It was HUGE! We signed everything in the bible, made plans with the doctor to meet up on Monday for retrieval. I was soo ready! I had gotten so bloated that my pants didn't button or zipper lol So I wear hoodies to cover up my protruding stomach.
The shot didn't hurt... were you expecting me to say that lol. Yep, the dreaded needle the mother of all needles, barely stung when it went in. I had to do it at 11pm. I thought that was funny, I hadn't stayed up that late in a long time and my gf had to come over and do it. Thank god she was up and hanging outside with us when it was time.
The morning of the 11th I was up, dressed and ready to go before Mikes alarm went off. We had to be there at 9am and he had to give another 'deposit' too. We went off in two different directions after I changed into a gown. Lets just say I had a few bumps in the road that morning... the IV was hard to get in, I cried like a big baby coming out of anesthesia (don't ask, I don't know why), my pain meds were my best friend though. I went straight home and waited to get the call on how many eggs and what ones were good. I dont remember much, the meds knock you out, the anesthesia does a trick on ya - so don't sign anything for 24hrs like it says in the book LOL
I was in bed for 2 days. The pain was similar to my appendix operation. I couldn't roll on my side, it felt like the ovaries were gonna go all over. I couldn't get the pain pills in my mouth quick enough lol but it went quickly. The bloating did go down but I was warned that once the eggs were out the follicles holding them were gonna fill up with fliud and I might be just as bloated as before. Lovely.
I was GASSY - I hung outside with my gf's and tooted away. I made no appologies. I was like a little ol' lady walking... toot machine on the go. By friday I was kinda feeling better - the gas was gone, I was sleeping on my side. No more pain pills. No Tylenol even.
ohhh the eggs... ya want to know lol. I got the call that they took 22 eggs. 13 were good. 8 survived fertilization. We were on for a 5 day transfer. Which was Saturday. It was also our anniversary. A big day for us.
We were giddy. Kinda stupid funny. I took a picture of Mike in his outfit. He had to get scrubs on to come in. Did I mention that the machine (the ultrasound was down) so Mike who works on those went in and fixed it for them... nice freebie, no charge, lets just get this on the road!!
So the nurse walks me in, I get in position on the stirrups, and they bring in paperwork to show us the fertilized embryos - out of the 8 - 1 was a hatching blastocyst (#1) which was excellent and rare, and 2 more were good (#4 and #5), they were gonna be frozen.
After a little sore pushing on the top for the ultrasound and making sure the cervix was clear, they put #1 in. I laid there in the stirrups for 20 mins joking around with Mike. Then 10 more minutes with my legs down on the table. I was a little surreal. Afterwards, it was to be bedrest for the night and then no housework or heavy lfiting til my bloodwork on the 26th. Really - I had to wait 10 days... that's a long time!
Mike was a little nutso. I was in bed Sat and Sun. The little bugger even got Amber to keep me on the couch Monday. Today I'm on the puter. I have to start doing things or nothings gonna get done and uhhh the embryo can NOT fall out. lol no matter how hard ya try. It ain't gonna happen lol. Even doing jump in jacks aint gonna make it fall out lol
So its a waiting game. And I've been doing some research online too. I guess I can pee on a stick 5 days after the transfer. Before that could show a false positive cause I shot myself with HCG and that's what the pregnancy pee sticks pick up on. AND I thought these charts were cool...
|One||The embryo continues to grow and develop, turning from a 6-8 cell embryo into a morula|
|Two||The cells of the morula continue to divide, developing into a blastocyst|
|Three||The blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell|
|Four||The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus|
|Five||The blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation|
|Seven||Implantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop|
|Eight||Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream|
|Nine||Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted|
|Ten||Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted|
|Eleven||Levels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy|
|One||The blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell|
|Two||The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and begins to attach itself to the uterus|
|Three||The blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining, beginning implantation|
|Five||Implantation is complete, cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop|
|Six||Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) starts to enter the blood stream|
|Seven||Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted|
|Eight||Fetal development continues and hCG continues to be secreted|
|Nine||Levels of hCG are now high enough to detect a pregnancy|
So now I'm waiting... 7 more days to go before my bloodwork and 2 hrs after that before I find out the results...