Weekend Update

Friday I had my earliest appointment yet: 6:45 am.  It was really quick, unlike waiting for the phone call from my nurse about what was next.  The call came around 2pm (not bad, but time was ticking backward at one point, I think) and Michelle (the IVF coordinating nurse) told me the doctor liked what she saw and that I was ready to trigger.  To which I replied, “Really?  Are you sure?”

I felt like I could have stimmed indefinitely.  Yes, there were mild side effects, but I was so involved!  And now, after the trigger, I go back to being a spectator of sorts.  I mean, I’m obviously involved, but, I’m also along for the ride.  Speaking of being along for the ride, after going over the trigger shot, Michelle told me to be at the doctor’s office at 8:30 Sunday morning and make sure that Mike brings his license, because he’ll need to prove he can drive me home afterward.

I triggered Friday night.  It may have been the most painless of all the shots I administered the last 2 weeks.  And tonight, there were no shots.  Mike took me to dinner to celebrate that we got to this point.  We toasted (I had seltzer and Mike had a Sloop Juice Bomb) to luck ahead and to our future baby(ies).  Mike shared a picture on Facebook from dinner and said that we were out to celebrate our IV FU to infertility.  (A la Argo‘s famous, “Ar-go-f**k-yourself.)  It was perfect.

Fingers and toes (but not ovaries) crossed that we have good,quality eggs, later-this-week embryos, and someday-babies that are retrieved tomorrow.  It’s only a day away.

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And Ganirelix Makes Three

Sunday morning was spent like most other Sundays…a drive up the Thruway to the doctor’s office for blood work and an ultrasound at 8am.  Just like the other appointments, it was easy.  After my ultrasound (during which no ovaries were hiding), I walked down the notably empty hall to the acupuncture room.  That’s right!  On Sunday I tried acupuncture…and it. Was. GLORIOUS.  

I didn’t feel nervous about acupuncture.  I’ve been busy stimming with needles every night, so the acupuncture needles didn’t worry me.  I had about 25 needles in my head, ears, hands, belly, legs, and feet.  After the needles were in, Caitlin, my acupuncturist, put a warming lamp near my feet, turned on a white noise machine, and left the room for about half an hour.  I feel relaxed just talking about it.  I dozed in and out, focused on my breathing, and savored the quiet that I heard and felt.  I will go back the day of my embryo transfer, before and after the transfer, as well as 4 days later, to help with blood flow and to support possible implantation.  I can’t wait.  

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After my acupuncture was done, I grabbed a coffee (half decaf) and drove back home.  As I got home, I got a call from my doctor’s office.  The time had come to add the Ganirelix shot to my evening lineup.  Holding steady with my Follistim at 300 and Menopur at 150.  Repeat 3 times and return for blood and ultrasound on Wednesday.  

Sunday night, after lounging about it all of my post-acupuncture glory, watched the Super Bowl and then I took shots, just like so many football-loving, Super Bowl-partying,  red-blooded Americans.  BUT.  No alcohol shots, just the new norm: fertility shots.  Side bar: Friday or Saturday night I had a dream that I had a glass of wine and I woke up feeling SO guilty.  I immediately thought, “It wasn’t worth it!”  …for the record: it wouldn’t have been worth it…but it didn’t even happen.   So weird.

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Anyway, we administered the Follistim and Menopur as usual and opened the box with the ready-to-go Ganirelix.  The syringe comes pre-filled and once you remove the needle cover & tap the air bubble to the top, you’re ready.  What I didn’t expect (and neither did Mike) was that the Ganirelix needle is thicker than the Follistim and Menopur needles and was much tougher to get in!  My first attempt was weak, I suppose, and the needle just kind of bounced off my skin…I mean, it pushed the skin in, but didn’t pierce it.  So I pulled the needle back and after Mike and I both talked about how weird it was to see that, I used a little more force and got the needle in.  The Ganirelix burned as it went in and I had a small reaction immediately after.  The skin around the injection site was red, probably a couple of inches long, and it was hot.  It passed within 15-20 minutes, and I continued to watch the Super Bowl without issue.  

At my appointment on Sunday, a woman in the waiting room remarked, “Ready to be done?”  And I smiled politely and think I said something like, “You bet.”  But my follicles aren’t ready…and in all honesty, I’ve kind of enjoyed this process.  I have felt relatively well, aside from some tiredness (I’d say exhaustion is too strong a word, but an afternoon nap is basically necessary to survive), bloating, and headaches last week.  It’s not that I’ve enjoyed the injections or the probing.  I have, however, enjoyed playing an active role and feeling like we have some sort of (albeit very limited) control of our struggle with infertility.  

Today we have another box of Menopur and one more cartridge of Follistim coming.  My doctor’s office did a great job ordering enough for my predicted calendar: my original retrieval date was slated to be tomorrow, February 8th.  But my follicles aren’t done growing yet.  Slow and steady, but on track and looking good, or so I’ve been told.  Given we’re snowed/iced in right now, I’m glad we didn’t have to navigate a winter storm today or tomorrow for egg retrieval.  It would probably be another layer of stress that we don’t need to add right now.  I suspected that school might be closed today because of all the snow that was on its way, so I actually stayed with my parents last night, so this morning I could just drive 10 minutes to my appointment and then head home, rather than driving the hour north to the doctor’s office, have a quick appointment, and then drive back home.  Getting the extra sleep and only driving the thruway once today was a nice treat.  Although, I must have triple checked (or more) that I had all of my meds, syringes, needles, alcohol swabs, etc packed up yesterday morning before heading to work.  And then I needed to store my Follistim in a coworker’s fridge during the school day.  All in all, it was no big deal, I was just worried I was going to forget my Menopur, or not bring a needle, or who knows what!  I made it up and back home with everything I needed, and now we’re just waiting for our new boxes of meds to arrive. 

After 2 more nights of stimming and Ganirelix, I’m scheduled to go back Friday morning for another set of blood work and an ultrasound and then Friday afternoon we’ll have a better idea of what’s to come.  Until then, we’ll lay low some more…we’ve (re)watched a LOT of episodes of The Office today, I’ll probably nap, Mike is drafting a blog post to share sometime soon, and we’ll enjoy the last couple days of control that we have during this whole struggle that is the life of the infertile turtle.

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I, INFERTILE TURTLE

It’s Saturday morning–correction!  It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m relaxing on the couch while Mike wrestles with Charlotte.  I can’t wrestle with her or run with her currently, I’m on restricted exercise while my follicles (and eggs we hope?!) grow.  I’m allowed to walk and I can use a stationary bike.  Mike and I will head over to the gym later this afternoon; he’ll run and I’ll walk on the treadmill next to him.  When we were told I’d be restricted with what I could do during stimming, I figured I could elliptical, because that’s low intensity, but it’s too much up and down & I have to avoid ovarian torsion…and as awesome as twisting an ovary right now sounds, I’ll stick to walking.

Speaking of ovaries (ha! I actually smiled and laughed a little when I typed that), the ultrasound tech couldn’t find my left ovary yesterday during my follicle check.  It was hiding, but rest assured, after I pushed on my abdomen for a few minutes and she searched, and searched, AND searched, she found it tucked away.  There are 2 main ultrasound techs at the RE’s office.  One is magnificent and sweet and very quick.  The other, who walked into my exam room yesterday, well, isn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s nice enough.  And she eventually finds what she’s looking for, but she struggles with the machine, and takes significantly longer to complete an ultrasound.  Significant being a 3 minute ultrasound vs 8 or 9 minutes…trust me, there’s a difference!  Once she found my ovary, she took the images she needed and was on her way.  And yesterday afternoon my nurse called with good news.  I had some better growth and development on the higher doses of meds, so they’re keeping me on the 300 Follistim and 150 Menopur another two nights — last night and tonight — with a return for repeat blood work and ultrasound Sunday morning at 8.  

Once I knew my appointment would be Sunday morning (I’m moving into the every other day monitoring now), I contacted the acupuncturist at my RE’s office and set an appointment for tomorrow morning following my blood & u/s.  I canceled my original appointment with her when we went to CT last week, and our schedules didn’t match this past week, so I’m excited to go tomorrow morning.  

I asked if I’m still on track to have my egg retrieval on the 8th and she said it may be a few days after that, which is fine.  She said that everything looked good and there was appropriate growth from the last ultrasound, it would appear I’m going slow and steady.  In fact, she said there’s 5-10 follicles on each ovary that they can see but aren’t big enough to be registered/measured yet.  So the hope is that the meds make some of those pop up and become players in the game.  Fingers crossed!  And toes!  But not ovaries!  Again, not ovarian torsion, please.

I’ve had some more side effects/notable changes the past few days.  My small lingering headache stuck around for a bit; Thursday night into yesterday morning it was really bothering me.  But last night and today, it’s gone.  Thursday when I went to inject myself, Mike said, “Oh Melly!”  That’s because my abdomen was/is quite poofy.  The left side, notably, was more swollen than the other side.  I assume it’s because of the follicle and ovary growth, which doesn’t bother me one bit.  It was, however, terrible wearing jeans for dress down day yesterday.  I couldn’t WAIT to get out of jeans and back into some leggings.  Even some pj pants bother me, because the elastic band is right at the area below the belly button, where all of the shots go.

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Please don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining, looking for sympathy, nor am I bothered by any of this.  I’m so hopeful that the end result will be worth all of this (a million times over).  And if some bloating/swelling and a small headache are my greatest complaints, then that’s fine by me, and I’m sure Mike, too.  We both remember what I was like when I took 5 rounds of Clomid in 2016/2017…and she was a really crazy person!!  The only connection I can make between this IVF cycle and life on Clomid is hot flashes.  I had 2 small hot flashes this week, but they were NOTHING compared to the fiery hell that my body was during months of Clomid…not to mention what an emotional lunatic I was…that’s probably a story for a different time (or maybe for never!).  

clomid

You know what IS an interesting story?  The story of Tonya Harding.  I was a big figure skating fan when I was younger.  My mom was (and continues to be) awesome and brought me to see Stars on Ice a few years in a row and we had a great time..at least I think we both did.  Mom, if you didn’t, thanks for pretending!  I digress.  Anyway, I remember when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked.  I don’t recall all of the news fallout, but as an adult I’m fascinated by the story.  Last night Mike and I went to see “I, TONYA” and we really enjoyed it!  This morning I was reading more about the attack and looking at the media coverage from the time (as you do on a Saturday morning in bed with your half-caf coffee), which eventually brought me to some Nancy Kerrigan life stories.  And…big surprise!  She struggled with infertility, too!  I’m telling you…it’s everywhere.  (It was also a part of the 1st episode of “Waco” that we watched this morning.)  Kerrigan went through IVF twice in order to have 2 of her 3 kids, after 6 miscarriages.  SIX.  I can’t even imagine.  Our one miscarriage still haunts me.  And Mike.  And probably our friends who were visiting that night, which is another story.  But.  It’s part of our story…and thanks for reading it so far.

First Follies

We made it through the first 3 nights of stimming and I’m feeling pretty good!  I had a dull headache off and on Sunday and Monday, but I can’t complain…it’s not bad.  Today I went for my first “follie” (follicle) check bright and early at 7am.  My vein was squirmy and gave the phlebotomist a good amount of trouble, but after (painlessly) poking around, she took my blood and then I had a quick ultrasound to check my lining and measure my follicles.  I was out of the office by 7:15…so quick & easy!  My nurse called this afternoon and said that there’s not too much growth/happening yet, but that’s to be expected, and is normal (PHEW!) especially because my doctor doesn’t start with an overly aggressive stimming protocol.  But we’re going to be a little more aggressive the next couple of days.  My Follistim is increasing to 300 (from 225) and Menopur is doubling to 150.  So that will be 2 vials of Menopur to mix together tonight…even more pharmaceutical work!  I’ll go back Friday morning to get checked again & hopefully there will be some pick up in growth and numbers then.  Fingers (and follies!) crossed!

What a week…

A week ago I dropped Mike off at the airport for his 6 day work trip to Orlando.  The man who had never been to Orlando was going for the 2nd time in 2 months!  On the way to the airport we had a great conversation about IVF.  We both were excited for the week ahead–he’d be attending work conferences, I’d rest & clean up around the house…and when he got back, we’d start trying to make a baby (again).  Best laid plans, right?

Mike’s father needed emergency bypass sugery, so the man who doesn’t love flying got back on a plane 26 hours after landing in Orlando to come back to NY, landing after midnight.  Early the next morning we headed to CT and then late Tuesday night (after much sitting, walking around, mindless conversation, Jeopardy as a distraction, and nervous laughter) a surgeon told us that we could see Mike’s father in the ICU in about an hour, as the surgery was successful and he’d be moved from recovery shortly. (!!)  If you were wondering what the opposite of relaxing and cleaning up the house is, or attending a work conference, it’s spending time in a waiting room, praying, worrying, and hoping that your family member makes it out of surgery ok.  And thank God, he did.

When I went back to work on Thursday morning, a coworker remarked, “I always find it to be so strange, the time spent in a hospital…you’re there, and things are measured so differently, but life beyond the hospital is still happening.  Lives are still being lived normally, and things you’re involved in are going on without you.” (Or something just like that.)  And isn’t that true?

Time was passed inside and outside the hospital.  I had to leave sooner than I wanted, because with any luck, I’ll have an egg retrieval and embryo transfer in February, so I had to use my sick time wisely.  Because that part of our life was still out there, waiting for us this week.  And while there’s more waiting involved in this process (of course), some of our waiting is done.  Yesterday morning I had blood work and an ultrasound to see if the birth control had done its job.  And it had!  My estrogen levels and ovaries were ready to start stimming.  Wahooooo!  Day 1 was finally here!

I re-watched the injection videos last night, just to make sure I didn’t mess up the first night of shots.  And other than dropping a Q-cap on the ground, and wondering about a rounded plunger’s measurement of 1cc (what makes the 1cc? is it the peak? is the the bottom sides?), they went pretty well!  Mike (and our good luck goldendoodle, Charlotte) helped me out.  We set everything up, Mike took pictures and some videos, and we injected the Follistim first. The Follistim is FSH (Follicle Stimualting Hormone), and is really easy to use.  You load a cartridge of the medicine in the pen, put the pen together, attach a VERY SMALL needle, and then turn a dial on the bottom to the prescribed dose.  The first 3 nights I have the same dosage…225 of Follistim and 75 of Menopur.  I got the needle in (abdomen), but when there was a LITTLE resistance to pushing it it (I think it was just a weird angle and nerves) Mike was a champ and pushed the meds in!  Menopur takes a little more work.  You use a Q-cap, which is a specialty needle/vial device, so you can pull the amount of sodium chloride you need to mix in with the powdered meds.  That’s right.  MIX.  We were practically pharmacists last night (I kid…but we did feel a bit like mad scientists, I think).  How to mix the Menopur?  Q-cap on a syringe.  Pull to 1cc of air.  Push the air into the vial of liquid.  Turn vial upside down and pull out 1cc of liquid.  Insert liquid into vial of powdered meds, mix, and draw newly mixed medicine into syringe.  Remove Q-cap, attach 1/2 inch needle, inject.  This one had a lot of steps, but was easy.  I think it will be easier tonight.  I could have injected this one, but I asked Mike to do it…it’s nice having both of us be involved in the process.

How was it, you ask?  Not bad, actually!  They burned a little going in, the Menopur more than the Follistim, but the needles didn’t hurt.  You can see 2 little pin prick marks on my belly, but no bruising.  I woke up with a headache that hasn’t gone away yet, but that could also be the side-effect felt when you finally start to catch up on sleep after not sleeping enough (last week I was up past 12:30 three nights in a row…which is totally unheard of in our house/lives).  I guess we’ll know more as the stimming goes on.  I have 3 nights of shots and then an early morning appointment on Tuesday this week.  My meds may be adjusted depending on what the blood and ultrasound show.  And something else…I’m happy to be finally doing this.  I feel like we decided SO long ago to move forward with IVF, after learning we would likely never have children without it.  There have been so many ups and downs to date.  I know I probably won’t feel great throughout all of stimming (how great would it be if I do, though?!), but emotionally and mentally I feel strong, ready, and hopeful…and pretty damn happy to be finally stimming.

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