Transfer #3

I realized something today. I wasn’t blogging yet, when I did my first transfer. I didn’t blog about my second transfer until after it failed, I’m not sure why really, the support would have been nice, but I didn’t. Today was FET #3. The miracle Molly gave me, a 6AA fully hatched blast. It was unfrozen, fully expanded and transferred without incident.

I was running late to my pre-transfer acupuncture appointment, and in my rush to get there, I got the first speeding ticket I’ve ever had in my life. Which I guess I can do to traffic school for, but whatever. Transfer went well, while I was in the recover, Molly came to talk to me a little said my uterine lining was great, no stripes, completely white which I guess is what they wanted to see. My P4 from yesterday is a little on the low side at 26.87, she said that a level of about 40 usually indicates a higher than average chance of pregnancy, hence the increase dosage of my PIO shots, and that my E2 was perfect.

I went to the post transfer acupuncture appointment and that went well too, I lay there just trying to keep my mind blank and focus on feeling the needles.

I just walked in the door about 20 minutes ago, so its been a long day for me.

The Beta is next Friday at 11am. Between now and then I hope to do a lot of meditating, catching up on some TV, doing homework for my classes, working on some projects I’m in the middle of, and generally taking things sort of easy. Not too much stress, not too much worry, just focusing on resting my godforsaken noisy mind.

The outcomes at this point are out of my hands. All I can do is wait, try not to be anxious and promise myself not to pee on any sticks. This time, I’m going to wait for the Beta, I’m going enjoy not knowing, and if I cry in front of the Dr so be it.

Snuggle in little bean, snuggle in tight and thrive in your new, less frosty environment.

101

My last post was post number 100. I didn’t even notice.

I went to the RE today for CD7 monitoring, I have 1 follicle still on the left ovary that is 12.1. FSH is lower, *weird* E2 is about where it’s supposed to be.  It’s grown exactly 6mm in less than 5 days with a natural cycle. Which as of this morning is no longer natural. I’m on a new protocol this month, where instead of Clomid, I’ve been prescribed Tamoxifen. Which I am only familiar with as a cancer drug. Because my mother took it for 10 years, before being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. That scared me a little, however it seems my RE has discovered that it acts (stimulates) similarly to Clomid but doesn’t thin your Endometrium or cause your LH to surge unnaturally. I monitor again on day 12 (Tuesday) to see whats happening. I imagine, since I’ve done this 10 or 11 times before, that I will trigger, and get a retrieval at some point next week if all goes well with the new meds. In 10, 11, oh who the hell knows, how many retrievals, I’ve never had a dominate follicle come from my left side. Ever. I’ve gotten a follicle or 2 from it before but they always wind up being the immature ones.

My left ovary is all wallflower-ish and under achieving. Like me in High School. Kinda. It’s the one that’s most easily visible and isn’t in a weird place like my right one, but it’s generally kind of lazy. Who else has 1 lazy ovary? How do you get it to be less lazy? Tell it, “You’re grounded until you produce a follicle?” Seriously, is there anything anyone can do to wake the lazy one up? Throw ice water on it? Poke it? What causes one to be lazy? Is there a difference in the egg quality?

Its been a busy week. Remember how I took Chinese III (Mandarin) a few months ago? We this semester I decided since I’m at home alone a lot at night, to take Honors Economics and Honors Political Science and Chinese IV, for fun. Note to self: Stop making decisions while hopped up on fertility meds or in the middle of a depression after a failed FET. Most people would avoid making decisions during times like that. Not me. Bring on some school, and some homework, and some new pencils, and SHUT THE FRONT DOOR this is expensive! Yes. I am an idiot.

My new “plan” is actually going pretty well so far. I’m avoiding the people and the “friends” and the situations that don’t add something positive to my life or my day-to-day. Instead, I’m trying to focus on friendships and classes and activities like Yoga, that make me feel better about myself. I’m also trying to avoid added stress and while the classes “might* have been counter intuitive, I have to admit it does feel good to have my brain engaged in something intellectual. Add a little more exercise and I should have a good recipe for how to better manage the outside stressors in my life.

Since I had to get a scrip filled from the Dr, I stopped at Costco this morning after my appointment. Where I got the scrip filled and decided to bring home some flowers for no other reason than because I felt like it. Usually there has to be an occasion. But not today. Today I just want to be surrounded by pretty, happy, peace and serenity, and there doesn’t have to be a reason. Right?

Regularly Scheduled Programming

Its been a few weeks since my FET failed, where I felt like a huge failure.  That my life was one huge fail, and that it seemed like I would never do anything but fail. Not exactly a confidence booster. Not great for people like me, who don’t sleep on a good day, and don’t bother eating much when its a bad day.

I spun off into more feelings of failure, a very quick weight drop, a brief stint at the Urgent Care for extremely erratic and low heart rate, *34bpm* at its lowest, my baseline is between 70 and 74. Low blood ox, low blood pressure, a visit to my GP, more blood work, my retrieval cycle being cancelled, my first visit ever to a cardiologist, and the temporary installation of a heart monitor. Which I wore for 4 days and promptly took off, because it was itchy, sticky, giving me a rash, annoying and was ruining my clothes. Yes. I am a shitty patient. You could see it through my clothes. I looked like the first stage of becoming a borg. I’m not sure what that means. It’s what my friends husband said. He’s one of those Star Trek people.

I once dated a writer from Star Trek the Next Generation, but I kept pointing and laughing at him so we didn’t last long. Maybe it was because I didn’t really consider that to be a job. Or maybe I didn’t respect him enough. Whatever. I digress and that’s a story for another day.

Its Monday, my Endometrial Biopsy is on Wednesday afternoon, and I feel better. Not so dark and dismal as say 2 weeks ago. Not great really but better. I am functioning, eating, so you can stop yelling at me, and you know who you are. I’m taking my vitamins, trying to be healthier in my choices, which in my case means eating at mealtimes, and choosing fruits, vegetables and either chicken or fish.

Am I scared about the biopsy? No. I feel sort of wary, even though I’ve never had one before, and I don’t know anyone that’s ever had one before, I’ve faced enough “new stuff” each month of my IVF journey that I’ve survived, and I will survive this too.

Here’s my “take away” from the last 2 to 3 weeks. Note to self: Stop saying you’re not going to react badly when something bad happens to you. Because you can’t cure normal. Feeling shitty after the August I had, was not only normal it was a rational response to a series of really bad things happening.

As far as advice for people who try to support the person going through the bad things? Stop saying things like “get over it” and “just move forward”. It’s unfair, it’s unkind and frankly as a society we spend too much time trying to invalidate or medicate our way out of our feelings. Give me some time to breathe, give me some time to grieve. These feelings are hard, and piled up, they are overwhelming.

I’m not saying this to anyone in particular. I’m just saying it. *To be 100% clear, Paul, I’m not saying it to you*

I also had a couple of people who said “So are you going to quit now? I think its time you quit”. To you, I quote Theresa from “A Journey to the Finish Line” I don’t quit when I’m tired. I will quit when I’m done. I will decide when I’m done.

The things that helped me the most were hugs, listening when I was overwhelmed and crying. My husband reaching for my hand in the car. Touch, I think helped the most. There is a saying in Arabic that “you must hold on to the person who is grieving to remind them to stay with this world”

Arabic is general is very poetic and dramatic, so yes its an overstatement, but touch was what helped remind me of my responsibilities to the people who love me, and who I love back. To those of you that reached out and touched me, Thank you.

Now to abruptly switch subjects because I’ve reached my mush quota for the month, and because for all my talk about feelings, I’m still uncomfortable with a lot of mine. I’m happy summer crap tv is over. Because the sheer volume of it I’ve watched is mortifying. I can’t wait for the smart shows I usually watch to come back over the next few weeks.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

Saturday in the Park

 

Last Saturday was my CD2 monitoring for the first time after what appears to have been a chemical pregnancy. It was crampy, uncomfortable, really messy and emotional. I don’t know why. It’s like limbo. It’s not far along enough to even register but all the same, to know my second FET failed was disappointing and sad. It’s also the longest shark week I’ve had in years. 6 days.

I made it through the ultrasound ok, 1 follicle on each ovary, 5mm each, until the tech left the room. At which point I stood up and looked down at the floor at a small thick puddle of blood, and burst into tears. I cleaned myself, put my clothes back on and crawled around on the floor trying to clean up the mess, crying all the while. Mortified.

My blood work was drawn, my E2 was less than 25, my FSH was 17.5 and it will be a natural cycle, with another check on day 9, this Saturday. I’m guessing I might have a retrieval later in the month, and at some point after that an endometrial biopsy. Last Friday I was tested for a vitamin D deficiency, and a bunch of auto-immune issues. I should get the results by Saturday.

I have not had a lot of good things to say about anything so I’ve done my best not to talk. I’ve avoided my husband and stepdaughter, avoided my friends, let calls go to voice mail and just keep trying to put one foot in front of the other. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to say, I need support. I don’t know how to say, I need love or care or kindness. So I’ve said nothing.

I finally went out to lunch with the husband and stepdaughter today, it almost felt normal, except I no longer finish meals, and I am not hungry 95% of the time.

I guess that’s how you get back to normal, you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 

 

 

 

Just Breathe

I am worried about my monitoring appointment tomorrow. Worried that they will find something really wrong with me, like I have no more eggs and my hopes for a baby are over.

Before we were so rudely interrupted by my broken ovaries, I was telling you about what IVF is like. We got through the monitoring appointment, and even into protocols a little but there is more that comes after that. Egg retrieval day, day 1 and 2 assuming the eggs were fertilized, possibly growing the eggs to blastocysts, and then FET.

Lets talk about egg retrieval shall we? They are kind of carnival like in that at the end you hopefully win a prize but they are totally not like winning a huge stuffed animal in the midway. My own experience is starting day 3, you begin meds, clomid, then shots of menopur on day 6 and 8, another monitoring appointment on day 10, and then 36 hours before retrieval you take a lupron shot, these shots being ones you give yourself in the stomach. Or your husband or significant other can give them to you assuming he’s not acting like a bad boyfriend.

Then retrieval day which for me has always been day 12. No powder, no deodorant, no lotion no perfumed anything the day of retrieval as they are very toxic to your eggs and the environment must be as sterile as possible.

Most retrieval are done in the morning, so you will be there with a bunch of other women who are all about to do the same thing you are doing. You arrive 30 minutes before your appointment, are told to strip from the waist down, yes take your socks off, no you can’t wear your panties. No your leggings can’t stay on, no your leg warmers can’t stay on either.  You are given a gown, some slippers, and one of those surgery hair thingies. The nurse then asks you to verify your name and birth date and they give you one of those plastic bracelet things. You are then told to lie down. Which you do with the curtains drawn between you and the other women. But you hear each of them having the same conversation you had with the nurse, “no socks, no underwear, no no no.”

At this point I should say that while everyone is very nice, someone has turned on a Norah Jones CD on a loop, which is already a downer. What you really notice is the silence between each curtain, the shallow breathing, the anxiety. Or the whispered prayers. You get called in, walk into the surgery, notice that its cold, your feet are cold, your ass *might* be hanging out in the wind, and you are helped to a table where they push your gown up to your belly, and strap your legs down. Because moving while doing the retrieval is bad. They focus a huge light on you, one of those cold war interrogation lights, and all your business is on display.

Now might be the time to mention that this procedure is done without anesthesia. Of any kind. That’s right, not even a Valium. All of a sudden your doctor comes in, everyone asks you to validate yourself again, he inserts the speculum, cleans your cervix, inserts the probe so he can see your ovaries,  and begins to insert what is seriously a 2 foot thin plastic needle into your ovaries to aspirate the eggs out.

And it hurts, it really really hurts. There are a lot of nerve endings in the vaginal area and the friction from the needle can be take your breath away painful. Then he takes it out, does it again in the other ovary, and hopefully you will have a mature egg or two, or more but I’ve never had more than 2.

After my first time of having this done, when I was finished I went out and met my husband in the waiting room who, rather than ask how I was doing starts telling me how the porn was horrible, and that he didn’t know how to make the dvd player work and how embarrassing it was. I gave him the death stare and said “shut up, do not talk to me about this. Unless your little interlude included a 2 foot needle in your junk with no anesthesia you need to just be quiet” and he just blinked and was like…”whaaaaaaaat?”

Back to the protocols and retrieval for a moment, you see 2 of the last 3 times I have had this done, I ovulated early. The first time I lost the lead 2 eggs which to me felt like a lost opportunity. The second time, was an all natural cycle because I was also going to do a transfer, I also ovulated early, this time there was only one egg, and it was big and healthy and another lost opportunity. The point of my telling you this is that even at this stage, things can go wrong, and lots of times do.

So now you know, probably more than you wanted to about the egg retrieval process. But writing this has helped me get through another hour until tomorrows appointment, where I will find out what happens next, if anything.

Just breathe.

The Monitoring Carousel

Yesterday was  the beginning of  my 4th month of “monitoring” which means on day 2 or 3 of your  menstrual cycle you go in for blood-work where they check your E2, and your FSH.  And an ultrasound. A vaginal ultrasound. That’s right, inside, while you are bleeding. No one buys you lunch or dinner before it either.

Here’s where we lose the pants. Lets be honest, you spend a good deal of time not wearing pants during this process. All you get is a thin little paper sheet to cover your bits. “Now scooch your butt down to the end of the table, all the way to the end. Open your knees please.. all the way open”

If you’re lucky it will just be you and the woman who does the ultrasound, if you’re not lucky the (male) Dr will walk in and watch. They will check your uterine lining and will see if there are any follicles in either ovary. Assuming they can see them both. My right one has a history of wandering off for a walk, like those live paintings in the Harry Potter movies, when they are trying to see it. They will also know if you’ve drunk enough water and will show you how your bladder has bursts of urine flowing into it. Are you wincing? Because you should be. Once they have checked everything, the remove the probe and leave the room so you can clean up the crime scene and put your clothes back on.

Usually you will be given whatever your protocol/meds are with instructions, and you will schedule an appointment to do it again on day 8. Not 8 days later, day 8 of your cycle. Just enough time to almost forget how embarrassing the last appointment was, but not quite. And in all likelihood, you will never again be able to look that poor ultrasound woman in the eye.

In my case, because my last cycle was a FET or (Frozen Embryo Transfer) which failed, my period is painful, which makes the vaginal probe even more of an adventure.

You will have at least 2 monitoring appointments in 10 days, sometimes 3, meanwhile you do what is termed as “stimming” or stimulating your ovaries into making more follicles from which come the eggs you need to then retrieve. Well, not you. a Dr/RE does it.

“Stimming” sounds like drugs right? It is, drugs i mean, but not the fun kind. You don’t get sleepy or feel dizzy or out of it. You get moody, cranky, PMSish, emotional, your logic sometimes abandons you while you are standing there watching it leave. Like a bad boyfriend.

It’s not just pills either, it can be injections, in your stomach, in your butt. Often large and painful injections. In my case my husband took one look at the kit I was given by the Dr.  and said “I will throw up if I have to do that to you” and walked out of the room. See, sometimes the man’s logic just gets up and walks away too. Like a bad boyfriend.

Yesterday, the new “surprise” was that during my day 2 appointment there were no follicles. Zero. Which could be something, or it could be a complete fluke. My e2 and FSH were in the normal range but higher than usual so a little alarming. Either way, it was new, terrifying and anxiety inducing.  My options were to continue to monitor on day 8, and possibly come up with nothing or cancel the cycle completely. My first instinct was the cancel the cycle. And it’s what I told them I wanted to do, but now, after sleeping on it, or not really sleeping in my case, for peace of mind, I think I will go back on day 8 to see if anything has happened.