Shot Class – May 19, 2015
So, today we had an hour-long training that taught me and Adam how to inject the 3+1 different types of medications I’ll be on for the IVF process. They had real needles, syringes, alcohol pads, and saline solution for us to “play” with. I was getting pretty nervous about it this morning, but I’m SO GLAD I didn’t chicken out. The needles are TINY. Seriously. Thin and short. Insulin needles (if you’re familiar with those) are comparable in size. It was awesome and so reassuring!
I’ll be on 2 main medications June 26-July 5. Sometime in July they’ll add a 3rd injection. Then there is a one-time final “trigger shot” I get the night before they go in for the egg retrieval. Science is so fascinating!
The trigger shot is a medication that has to be mixed with water. (It comes in powder form.) So there’s a vial of powder and a vial of water (saline solution). You have to mix the water in the vial with the powder. So, the entire class there was this sword-like looking needle sitting in front of me. It was not tiny. It was not thin or short. For the trigger shot demonstration, she picked up the sword-needle and showed us how to mix the two medications together. And then she said “and that’s how you do it” as if she was done and that’s when you swab your tummy and plunge it in. Nigh on hyperventilating, I ask if we use that needle for the trigger shot. I apparently jumped the gun and she wasn’t done with the demonstration because she proceeded to pull off the sword-needle and put on the tiny, thin, short needle and then shot up the squishy foam cube we’d been practicing on. Whew! I hadn’t realized how tense my body had been until she switched out that needle and confirmed it was ONLY for mixing. (Though she did tell us a true horror story where a woman thought it was the injecting needle and put that in her stomach and it was horrible – “there was lots of blood.” I hope with all my heart that woman has lots of babies now for thinking that was the sacrifice she had to make.)
One step down. Next step: get the quote for the medications and a shipping date.
We’ve Got Meds! – June 14, 2015
On Thursday we got a package. Not just any package. We got our medications for the IVF process!
It was pretty much like Christmas for me. Adam was at work, but Elle and I went through the box and inventoried everything against the receipt. It was all there!
The medications requiring refrigeration went straight into the fridge (on top of the eggs *tee hee*). All of the others got put into our closet.
When I called my nurse to let her know I got my meds she shared my excitement and said “Awesome! We need to get you knocked up!” With all of the medicines, blood draws, ultrasounds, and other fun clinical things we’ve already experienced and have yet to experience, it was actually kinda nice that she used such a casual phrase to describe the upcoming process.
This week Adam and I will both be on Z-Packs (antibiotics) and I’ll start taking baby aspirin. Next week I’ll have my first monitoring appointment where they will check my baselines. Then I start the “real” medications. Crazy! Exciting!
Now, I am very, very much aware that this may not work. I know the statistics, the risks, the fears. Each step in this process presents possible obstacles to progression.
But I am choosing hope.
Onward and upward.
Day 4 of 10 – June 29, 2015
Almost halfway done, my friends! These past 4 days have been a roller coaster and a whirlwind rolled into one.
Yesterday I had a blood test which showed a higher estrogen level than they expected/wanted this early so they cut the dosage on one of my medications in half.
My next ultrasound and blood draw is on Wednesday. I might be starting my 3rd injection (a hormonal “glue” that will keep my eggs from releasing prematurely) then depending on how the ultrasound and “e-tube” (estrogen) looks.
The follicles in my ovaries are definitely reacting well to the medicine. I can feel them getting bigger and bigger each day. It’s a fascinating process – especially since it’s happening so quickly.
What does it feel like? Imagine having a very full bladder and the worst constipation of your life and then eating a 7-course meal. That’s the best way to describe the sensation so far. Just a very full, tight, uncomfortable heaviness. I haven’t figured out how to sleep when I have 2 mini bowling balls constantly pulling and tugging inside of me no matter how I lie in bed.
After the first day (when I prepped my meds myself) Adam became my nurse. He preps the injections, but I still inject myself. The injections aren’t fun, but they are doable. I don’t mind the injections as much as the blood draws (though I only do one vial now instead of the 7 or so I had to do to prepare for this process). My tummy hasn’t bruised at all, but both my arms look gross already.
I never thought I’d be going through this process. I’m rather needle-phobic so poking myself several times a day over 10 days has never made it to my bucket list. But I’m pretty excited that I’ve been able to do it.
Onward and upward!
Float Like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee – July 1, 2015
This morning I had an ultrasound. My follicles (the part that grows and houses the eggs and from which the eggs are released) looked like a honeycomb on the screen. They are huge and will continue to grow. Also, she counted about 30 follicles this time! Exciting stuff! We’re definitely wanting quality over quantity with this, but hopefully, more follicles mean more potential eggs which hopefully will mean more that can be retrieved which could up the number that can be get fertilized. (And then maybe that will mean more will make it to day 5 [transfer day] – so more to choose from – and possibly more that will survive while being frozen). So, seeing more follicles is a good thing at this point!
With the follicles being so large, they could start thinking it was time to release their eggs. But we don’t want them to release on their own (because no one will be there to catch the eggs!) so I started a 3rd injection. Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it. This 3rd injection is a spicy, spicy beast. I had read that it would be so I iced up my tummy first – which worked perfectly! But I was grossly unprepared for the stinging that followed once the medication started to disperse from the injection site. It felt like a bee sting. A bee sting that lasted for over an hour. No bueno, friends. No bueno at all. BUT this is what is standing between all the shots I’ve already taken and successfully retrieving the eggs -in other words, if I don’t take this 3rd shot for the next 4 days, it could all be for nothing. So I’ll be getting a bee sting every morning from now until Sunday. To quote the wise Olaf, “Some people are worth melting for.”
I also had some blood work done today. My estrogen looked good, so we’ve found my dosage sweet spot. Yay!
I’m still on schedule per my calendar, so my next ultrasound and blood draw will be on Friday. If we keep this up, I’ll be triggering Sunday night and the retrieval will happen early Tuesday morning. It’s gettin’ real, ya’ll!
Onward and upward!
Egg Retrieval and Fertilization Report – July 7, 2015
Adam said from the start of the IVs to when they brought him back into my room was only about 50 minutes. How crazy is that?!? But here’s the awesome part…. they were able to retrieve 37 eggs!!!! Even in my slightly nauseous and very groggy state I wanted to just jump for joy!
But wait, there’s more!
Today Ammon, our lab guy (embryologist), called with our fertilization report.
Out of 37 eggs, 27 were mature enough to be fertilized. Out of those 27 that were fertilized 25 have made it to today! How incredible is that!?!?!?! I wanted to hug Ammon through the phone for that news!We’ll get another updated on Thursday. Ammon predicts we shouldn’t see too many
We’ll get another updated on Thursday. Ammon predicts we shouldn’t see too many drop off between today and Thursday, but to expect the biggest drop off Thursday to Saturday (when the embryos grow from about 30 cells to 100-150 cells!). He said it’s awesome to start out with 25 fertilized eggs. Ahhhh! We are so excited!
My recovery is going really well so far. I slept most of yesterday but also had a ravenous appetite – both great things! I’m on an aggressive fluid intake of Powerade Zero and SmartWater (both have electrolytes) as well as a whey protein drink every morning and evening. (That protein drink is nasty!) I have to monitor my weight and fluid intake versus output to help my doctor gauge whether I’m experiencing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. I’m also on antibiotics to ensure yesterday’s procedure sites don’t become infected. I don’t feel too much cramping, though my whole abdomen area is slightly sore. I took extra strength Tylenol yesterday and that seemed to be enough to help it. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good today. Plus, Adam said if I keep up with my fluid intake he’ll get me some Texas Roadhouse for dinner. 🙂
Thank you for your prayers, family and friends. They are being felt!!
Onward and upward!!
A Voicemail – July 12, 2015
“Hi, Jen. This is Patrick from [the] Fertility Center. I have your final embryo report. Yesterday I froze 6 embryos and today I found 4 more that were suitable for freezing, so I froze those also. You have a total of 10 in our tanks. If you have any questions, give us a call. Thank you.”
Last Monday Before THE Monday – August 17, 2015
Today was my last ultrasound and blood draw before the embryo transfer. That means, well, a couple of things.
- I have given myself 4/5 intramuscular shots. Adam did the first one and I’ve done every one since then. He did a great job, he has just been traveling and would miss some of the shots, so I needed to learn how to do it myself – or make it very awkward for me and a friend. (The shots are given at night so the clinic isn’t open to help.)
- I add my second intramuscular shot in the mornings this Wednesday. This second one won’t be as “nice” as this first one I’ve been taking – and it’s daily. The progesterone is in oil which apparently knots up in your muscle and can just be a pain.
- I’ll start taking yet another round of antibiotics (the stigma over “overusing” antibiotics apparently doesn’t apply to this situation since this will be my 3rd round of it since starting the IVF process) and an anti-inflammatory pill.
The transfer is scheduled for 1 pm next Monday. I need to check in at 12:30 pm and then pop a Valium. They put the embryo in, I stay lying down for 20 minutes afterward, then Adam drives his high wife home.
The 2 days following the transfer are “Princess Days.” Studies apparently show that little to no stress, no heavy lifting, and no strenuous movements (driving, standing for long periods of time, etc…) positively affect implantation. My assignment is to casually move around, relax, and think happy, sticky baby thoughts, (Wishing someone “sticky embies” or “sticky baby dust” is quite common on the forums and blogs and Instagram feeds I follow.) Adam is a boss at taking the full load of house chores along with work when I’m down. He’ll be taking and picking Elle up from school and karate and he’ll cook those days. He won’t need to travel that week or the week after so that’ll be nice as well.
And then there’s the 2WW.
I’ve read a lot of forums and blogs over the past several months and there are a LOT of acronyms relating to TTC (trying to conceive). 2WW is one of the most dreaded (second only to a BFN). It’s the 2-week wait between implantation day/transfer day to the blood test. THE blood test that shows whether all those needles and pain and discomfort and emotions are worth it. Until that blood test, you’re considered PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise). After that, you either get a BFP (big fat positive) and continue the intramuscular shots until 10 weeks gestation and then “graduate” to an OB/GYN of your choice. Or you get a BFN (big fat negative), discontinue the intramuscular shots, wait for a new cycle to start, and try it all over again.
This, my friends, is what it all comes down to.
The shift from “trying to get pregnant” to “we need to prepare to be pregnant” came as a shock. It’s been hard – but exhilarating – trying to make the change after 6+ years.
I still haven’t decided how I’ll handle the blood test results. When we were pregnant with Elle we waited until I was 12 weeks. (A huge contributing factor to that was my miscarriage right before Elle at 9 weeks.) My blood test will come around 7 weeks. We’ll see. We shall see.
Until then my friends,
Onward and upward!
Weeping May Endure for A Night, But Joy Cometh in the Morning (Psalms 30:5) – September 20, 2015
Bleeding during a pregnancy is never ideal. But bleeding when you’re finally pregnant after 6.5+ years of trying to be can elicit a semi-scream if discovered very unexpectedly at 11 pm.
It is an amazing tender mercy that Adam had come home a couple of hours earlier from a business trip. There was no reason to expect that something had gone wrong. Plus, we were just a few days away from (finally) seeing the little guy on the big screen. We said a prayer together that Heavenly Father would comfort our hearts, that the baby’s life could be preserved and lengthened according to His will, and that we could be ok with whatever happened. Exhausted and emotionally spent, we went to sleep. That was Thursday night.
Friday morning I woke up, thankful I didn’t have to face Elle first thing in the morning. I didn’t know how I could conceal in my countenance that something was wrong. We said family prayer and she and Adam left for school and the gym. I had waited to use the bathroom until they left, so I could be alone with whatever I found. Expecting further evidence of a miscarriage, I ended up seeing the exact opposite. It was almost like nothing had happened. I texted Adam immediately, elated and grateful. About an hour later I called my IVF coordinator, the nurse who has been my freak-out line since Day 1. She called me back 30 minutes later. She suggested we come in and they’d do an ultrasound and draw blood to check my HCG, progesterone, and estrogen levels.
When we pulled into the parking spot Adam held my hand and told me everything was going to be alright. When I asked him what he thought we’d see, he confidently said, “A heartbeat.” How I love that man!
We waited longer than usual to be taken back. I was morning sick and worried sick. I was so grateful that the nurse was kind enough not to ask me how I was doing/feeling when she greeted me.
In went the wand and we saw….nothing. And then, as if by magic, there it was. Our little bean. Our baby.
The empty circle most visible is the egg sac which is feeding the embryo nutrients and oxygen. And the tiny little thing being measured is our little bean. It measured exactly how they expected. And the best part? We got to hear its little heartbeat! 123 bpm, so loud, and so strong.
The only thing I could do was weep.
There is no bleeding inside my uterus. The baby and its environment are pristine and unharmed. The bleeding came from without, a very common side effect of progesterone suppositories.
My blood levels came back perfect as well. My HCG was over 20,000 and progesterone and estrogen were also where they should be.
My doctor was so pleased with the ultrasound and my levels that she said we didn’t have to come back on Tuesday for our official 7 weeks ultrasound (which kinda bummed me out–I was excited to see baby again on the first day he’s officially a fetus and not an embryo). Instead, we scheduled our 9 week ultrasound for October 7. My doctor will do this ultrasound as it will be our final one with the fertility center. After that visit, I will be “graduated” to a regular OB of my choice. October 13 will be the last day of my injections and suppositories.
No pregnancy is guaranteed. But seeing a heartbeat reduces the chance of miscarriage from 40% to 10%-20%. I cannot adequately express the gratitude I have to be pregnant. I am so grateful for the technology and medicine we have today not only to get me pregnant but to check on the pregnancy via blood tests and ultrasounds. I’m so grateful for the amazing love, support, and prayers we’ve received. Thank you.
Onward and upward.
Happy Birthday, Addie!
It was one year ago today I first held you in my arms. The miracle of your existence still seemed surreal even as I watched your tiny fingers hold mine. A year later and your gap-toothed smile welcomes me every time I get you from a nap. You have developed your own personality, a mixture of sweet and feisty. This past year has swallowed up the emptiness of the past 6 while we waited for you. You made me a mother all over again and Elle a sister – something she didn’t realize just how much she’d love.
You were a hard-fought victory, my sweet little one. My body and your daddy’s body have experienced many different medications, examinations, and tests. We knew you were waiting to come to our family, but we needed some help to get you here. Your needle-phobic mommy gave herself over 100 injections for you. As you grew in my body, I watched what I ate, exercised when I felt well enough to, and learned about how to give you the best start to your life possible.
When it was time for you to come – 2 weeks earlier than the doctors thought – you and I worked together for 8 hours without any medicine. I worked for almost an entire day to bring you into this world safe and sound. Finally, the moment came and we heard your beautiful cries as you were pulled from my c-section incision. Your daddy was next to you the entire time as they cleaned you up and made sure you were healthy. Bundled up, you fit perfectly in his arms. You were so tiny and so very precious.
I’m grateful you and I got a few breastfeeding opportunities in the hospital and at home. I’m even more grateful for the formula that has helped you to grow into the strong and healthy baby you are today when my body couldn’t give you the nutrition you needed. Daddy loved being able to help feed you. Seeing you on his shoulder, sound asleep after a feeding, was magical.
Your blue eyes, so strikingly different from my brown ones, mesmerize me. Your chunky cheeks are perfection. The way you “read” anything that resembles a book is priceless.
Thank you for joining our family, sweet Addie. Thank you for putting up with Mommy and Daddy having to re-learn everything about having a baby all over again. Thank you for being your sweet (and feisty) self.
Happy birthday, baby girl.