Friday, September 27, 2019

A Bakers Dozen

We made it! It has been a rough couple of days but we made it to egg retrieval day! Wednesday after my panic attack I felt much better after chatting with the nurse and her easing my mind that everything was looking good for retrieval on Friday. I went to my sister-in-law's house, took a nice nap and woke up SUPER congested. Great! My husband is finally feeling human again after a respiratory infection had him miserable this last week. Seems to be that we swapped bugs!! So by Wednesday night I was feeling fairly awful and I'm pretty sure I had another low grade fever. We had to stay up until 11PM to do my Trigger shot of Lupron.

I was so nervous about Josh giving me the injection! Do you see a pattern of how much I like to be in control of my situations?! I had him practice on a tomato and we watched a couple of YouTube videos of IM injections. Here are a few pics my sister-in-law snapped of us learning:

I do have to give hubby props - he did so good! He told me exactly what he was doing the entire time which really helped me relax. I honestly didn't really even feel it other than the poke at the beginning! Piece of cake! 

I woke up on Thursday absolutely miserable again. I had some pretty bad nausea all night and woke up with major nausea, headache and feeling like my head might explode from the pressure. I took a hot shower and hubby was kind enough to get up and drive me to the clinic for repeat labs yesterday morning. Got to the clinic and was able to talk with the nurse a little bit. She assured me that, minus the head cold, the nausea was pretty normal to be experiencing at this stage. Suggested I rest and load up on water!

Went back to the house and slept for a bit and got the call back that the trigger shot worked, labs looked good, and we were for sure on for Friday retrieval! 

So fast forward to this morning.... We made some babies with a lot of love and even more science!

The nurse that I had was fabulous - definitely above and beyond what I expect from a nurse when I'm in a pretty uncomfortable situation and a little bit nervous. Thanks, Bernice!!

Retrieval went well, she said my follicles were difficult to get into, but other than that it went according to plan. We retrieved 13 eggs which is a great number to start out with! I was a little disappointed as I really thought we would get more considering that I started out with about 20 follicles... but I keep reminding myself that in the end it is quality over quantity. I will be extremely happy if we get at least 5 embabies to freeze. A couple of babies plus a couple of extra embryos should we need them due to implantations failures (God forbid). 

After retrieval we quickly stopped by Walmart to get a heating pad, some drinks, and a cozy blanket for me to wrap up with. I took a nap this afternoon to let the pain medication wear off and I've been relaxing and drinking fluids! I'm feeling pretty good, just some cramping and an achy feeling that is pretty constant, but the heat is helping significantly and honestly I can't say that it is that bad!

Tomorrow morning we will get the an update with how many eggs were fertilized via ICSI which is a standard procedure at our clinic. My fingers and toes are crossed that we get most if not all to fertilize Then we will hear back by the end of next week on how many made it to blastocysts to freeze! I don't know if I'll be able to handle myself with the wait, but then again... IVF is full of waiting!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Trigger Day!

This last week has simultaneously zoomed by and lasted forever. I have had a ton of back and forth trips to Lincoln in the evenings for an early morning drive to Omaha for monitoring appointments. To be honest, I can't really even tell you what day it is today with any kind of certainty!

I knew that this was going to require a lot of my personal time, but I honestly didn't think that my life was going to completely revolve around medications, injections, lab work, ultrasounds and the works. I know that if I lived in Omaha life could continue on as normal as possible, but having to drive to Omaha really limits how much I am able to work and be home. I'm incredibly thankful that I have been able to take off this whole week to focus on growing and maturing some eggs! It has also been really nice to have a full week off of work. It is definitely not how I would prefer to spend it as I'd much rather be vacationing in the mountains or taking another trip to Utah, but since we had to cancel our vacation this summer to save for IVF, mentally I really needed this break. I hope that I am able to regroup and come back to work refreshed enough to start digging through the piles and getting everything caught up so that we can do this again come transfer time!

So a huge shout-out to all of my employees for stepping up and maintaining the lab while I'm gone. Thanks for allowing me the break to start my family and to not feel like I have to stress out about not being there. I owe you guys!!

Since the last time I wrote I have had a couple repeat scans. Monday's went pretty well. I had about 5 follicles that were ready but roughly 15 that were still young and needed to mature so my doctor felt like it'd be best to continue my stims and add in an additional injection to prevent ovulation of the big follicles and to allow the other follicles to catch up.

So I drove back to McCook on Monday after my appointment and spent all day on Tuesday catching up on the dishes piled high in my kitchen, sweeping the piles of dog hair away, and getting some laundry caught up. This not being home thing has really caught up to me! I overdid it a little bit so I was relieved to be able to sit and relax on the drive back to Lincoln Tuesday night.

I had another scan this morning and it just really caught me off guard. I think the clinic had quite a bit going on and so the wait was pretty long to go back even though I got there earlier than usual. That didn't exactly help my anxiety :) For some reason I was more nervous than I have been, probably because this is the scan that tells us if we can proceed!! With all of my past scans my doctor has done them. I've been able to ask questions during and she takes the time to explain the results of the scan with me and what they mean. It's really helped my anxiety and has allowed me to feel comfortable and not really sweat it. But today a different lady came in to do my scan. Totally fine, but her body language was a little harsh and she never introduced herself to me. I'm going to be honest, I have NO IDEA who she was! My best guess is an assistant of my doctor? She said hello to me, asked me if I had my lupron, and then at the end told me they'd meet me outside. That was literally all she said to me. SOO that raised my anxiety a bit and just made me really uneasy.

I did get to see Dr. Oakes briefly after the scan. She told me that things looked good and that we are good to trigger tonight! For those of you not savvy in IVF speak, this means that at a very specific time tonight, exactly 36 hours before egg retrieval, I will do an injection that will trigger the final maturation process of the eggs and allow them to release at the correct time on Friday when we officially have the egg retrieval. Tomorrow morning I will go in for labs one more time to make sure that the trigger actually worked like it was supposed to and if everything looks good FRIDAY IS THE DAY!

After I got out to my car I started getting nervous and a little panicky. By the time I got out on the highway I started getting tears in my eyes. I decided that I probably needed to find a place to park so I found a parking lot and pulled over. By the time I got into the parking lot I started having a nice panic attack. Great. The fear of the unknown started creeping up and just completely overwhelmed me (and of course the extra hormones soaring through my body didn't help). All of these What-If situations keep playing around in my head. I think part of that is because I didn't know exactly what the scan showed other than the follicles that were measured, and to me they still seemed a little small.

What if the trigger injection doesn't work?

What if my eggs don't mature enough?

What if we are triggering too early?

What if. What if. What if. 

[A huge thanks to my sister for responding to me super quick when I sent her a message that said, "I need someone to TALK ME DOWN." She's always been good about responding right away and just listening to me when I need to verbally work things out.]

It is so hard to just let go and trust the process. I DO trust my doctor. She has done this countless times and is excellent in what she does. She knows more than I do... she knows more than google does. This is why she has a degree and does what she does. I have to be okay and know that she is doing everything as it is should be. Everything is going to be okay and even if it's not, it is NOT the end of the world, just another bump in the road. If it doesn't work out, it is just another piece of the puzzle of why we can't conceive.

What if = Fear
Even if = Faith
So as I'm sobbing in my car in the parking lot of Scooters, I told myself that if I want my morning coffee I needed to stop it, pull myself together, and stop thinking like this. I reminded myself of when I freaked out 2 Friday's ago when I thought we were going to have a cancelled cycle how how it all worked out and I spent the weekend emotionally exhausted for nothing.

So I am currently just waiting to hear back from my clinic about the timing of my trigger shot tonight and am anxiously waiting my husband to arrive tonight. I have been so thankful for all of the support that we have gotten. But I'm tired of doing this all alone, physically alone... with no one by my side. I've gotten along okay, but am beginning to feel quite nervous as I am back to not really knowing what to expect with retrieval on Friday. Going to try to distract myself today with a movie at the theater and I am going to try to accomplish some more on my new crochet project later this afternoon until my niece and nephew get home from school! That's a super good perk of staying in Lincoln, I've gotten to see a lot of my sister-in-law and those two munchkins. Lifts my spirits up!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Looking "Eggcellent"

Whew! What a bumpy ride I've had so far!!

On Monday I started the Follistim and by Tuesday night I was miserably sick with a low grade fever, chills, sweats, and the works. I felt like I had the flu which really concerned me. I wasn't sure if being sick could affect the process or if I was having some horrible reaction to the medication. I was reading the package insert of the meds and a "serious side effect" of flu-like symptoms was listed with the recommendation to call your doctor immediately. Great. 

So I got on the phone and they got me in touch with the on call fertility doctor at the clinic. She reassured me that it was probably a huge coincidence and that I probably just caught something going around. What horrible timing! So all of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I was feeling like death, but by Wednesday evening I was feeling like an entirely different person! Whatever I had it ravaged my body very quickly and left quickly as well. 

Other than that, I have been doing really well! Day's 1-3 I haven't had any symptoms at all from the medication. Today is day 4 and I can definitely feel my ovaries when I bend left or right and I've been getting some minor cramping and twinges from them as well. It hasn't been a big deal and to be honest, it is kind of a relief to actually feel something because I know that the medication is working. 

Today I had my first monitoring appointment. Things are looking great! I've got 8-10 follicles on each ovary ranging from about 10-13mm each which is an excellent number to begin with! I have a couple of bigger follicles and a few smaller ones as well, but they might not amount to anything, only time will tell! My doctor was very pleased with how I'm progressing. My Estrogen level is fairly high and so she changed my "Trigger" medication that will trigger the eggs to release when we need them to for the retrieval. For those of you IVF-savvy it was changed from an HCG trigger to a Lupron only trigger which should reduce my risk of OHSS.

Each follicle should house one egg... so we are looking at an estimated egg count of around 20 as of right now. Not all of those eggs will be mature, not all will fertilize, and not all will make it to the important blastocyst stage that they need to to freeze. So just because we get 20 eggs doesn't mean that we will have 20 embryos to work with... only time can tell. But my RE reassures me that it is a great number to work with. :) 

I go back for another ultrasound and more labwork on Monday and we will go from there! Hopefully the follicles continue to grow at a steady pace. We are looking at an estimated retrieval on Wednesday or Thursday... it continues to get SO REAL!

Monday, September 16, 2019

It's Stimming Time!

If you didn't already know.... I am a planner by nature. I like having every little detail lined out. I like being in control. Infertility doesn't offer control, I've learned that very quickly. When things don't quite go as I have planned them to, my anxiety goes through the roof. So naturally, when I found out on Friday there was a huge potential of this cycle being cancelled my mind went into overdrive. I had an overwhelmingly emotional weekend just knowing that it wasn't going to go to plan.

I had a few good cries and left for Lincoln Sunday late afternoon. I downloaded a couple of different audio books and actually had a very relaxing drive. Very early Monday morning I got back on the road to Omaha for walk in clinic hours at my clinic. 

Just walking into the building I felt sooo much more at ease than I did on Friday when I went for my first baseline scans and labs. There is a familiarity that relaxed me greatly. I didn't have to wait very long until I got back and Dr. Oakes came in the room. Knowing that she was going to be the one doing the scans made me feel better as it gave me the perfect opportunity to talk with her and have any questions answered that I had.

[Side Note: I just love my RE. She is so down to earth, compassionate, straight forward. I can't say enough good things about my experience with her!]

It didn't take long for her to say that we were definitely good to start! My exactl words, with a frown on my face, were "Wait, really?!" She explained to me what she was looking for and told me that she was comfortable with continuing on. That turned my entire mood around. I mean I was so prepared to start over again that I ordered more birth control in on Saturday to be prepared to take my first dose today.... I am so glad that I can put it on the shelf for a while! 

So after signing a bunch of papers and getting a schedule for the next 5 days, I headed for home. Once I got home I couldn't stop pacing and smiling. I am just so happy and excited that it is FINALLY our turn. I know that there may be several more bumps in the road. This is only the first step. It all depends on how I respond to determine where we go from here. But if all goes according to plan we will be retrieving the eggs sometime late next week and then move on to the next step!

So for the next week or so I will be giving myself an injection of Follistim each night to stimulate the follicles in my ovaries! Repeat labs and ultrasound will occur periodically with some additional injections added in until the follicles are big enough and then we will schedule the retrieval.

I gave myself the first injection tonight and it went well! I had some confusion figuring out how to assemble the little vial of medication into the injection pen, but we got it done! The needle didn't hurt at all and the medication didn't sting or anything going in. A little burning at the site for about 3-4 minutes after, but super mild. I hope I am a good responder because as of right now my dosage of stim meds is really low and only one medication. Fingers crossed we can keep it this way!!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Baseline Blues

I haven't really decided how or where I'm going to share parts of our IVF journey [or if I even will at all...] But my blog feels like an appropriate place to journal with quick snippets here and there on Instagram. Honestly there hasn't been much to share quite yet. With infertility there is more, far much more, waiting than action.

But there are times I just need to write, not necessarily for anyone else, but for myself. [[I always figure if it helps someone else going through it then it is just a bonus.]] And right now I just need to get real about the emotion of all of this.

Today I had my baseline labs and ultrasound done by a clinic that my doctor works with for patients who are not local to Omaha. I finally got the call with the results that I'd been anxiously waiting for all day. The nurse said that I have a couple of cysts on my ovaries and as of right now we can't continue with the schedule as planned.

Unfortunately she told me that a lot of the scans that they have been receiving from this clinic have not been very good and that I'm left with two choices.... to start on another cycle of birth control or to travel to Omaha and repeat the scan and labwork on Monday to try and get a clearer picture. I decided to do the later.

This is all really screwing with my emotions tonight because once again it puts us in a "gray area" and another wait and see situation... a good probability of a cancelled cycled and another month's delay.

▪︎A little back story▪︎

I have been on birth control for the last 3 weeks to suppress my ovaries so that all the follicles start out at roughly the same size and to reduce the possibility of cysts forming. This allows the medication to do its job growing the follicles to house the eggs in preparation for the egg retrieval. I was scheduled to start my injections of stimulation hormones around Sunday with monitoring throughout the week and retrieval the last full week of September.

I thought that today I would get my "set" schedule and have a much better idea what my work schedule and my life would look like for the next 2-3 weeks. We have been waiting for this moment for the last 3 months and right as we thought we had finally got there, I'm being told there is a real possibility we have to cancel this cycle and wait it out again.

Part of me feels that we've been waiting over 2 years to start a family, what is another month... but the real fact is that when you have such a strong desire to become a mom and a dad it's a devastating moment to realize you have to wait another month when you've finally come so close to starting. Those months start to feel like a lifetime after a while.

Let's get real. I don't really want to do this. I don't want to do any of this... all the appointments, the needles, more needles, all the tests.... But the reality is that I want the chance to be a mother to my biological child or children and so I have to do this and I'm willing to do this to make that a possibility.

I just wish that the will to do this made it easier. I knew this journey was going to be emotional, but I'm now just beginning to understand why it becomes so emotional and how emotional it can really be. Not only do you have all of the ups and downs, but it is just a very lonely journey. Not many people understand and I don't expect anyone to try.... you can't truly understand unless you have also been through it. For this reason I am incredibly thankful for the online support groups I have found.

But from someone going through infertility to the family, friends, and support systems out there... check in on your gals from time to time... and check in on their spouses, too. Genuinely ask them HOW THEY are doing and take the time to listen. There is so much more to all of this than how the appointment went yesterday, or what the next step is next week, or when the next injection is.... The mental health aspect of this is real and we need to be given the chance to talk about our emotions, too. If we feel comfortable talking about it we will open up to you. If we're not quite there yet, ask again in a couple of days and we might finally be ready to share. 

Don't necessarily take our silence as a hint that we want you to back off (I'll tell you if I'd rather you not ask about it :).... Each appointment and each step in this process has a lot of information to it that just takes a bit to process. Personally, sometimes I need to share right after I find out new information... but other times I need to let it sink in and process it all before I talk about it. Sometimes I need a good cry about it (okay or maybe 4) before I'm ready to share *coughlikethisblogpost*

So with all of that being said... on Monday I'll push myself to go to another appointment, to get another set of labs drawn, and to hopefully hear some kind of information from my doctor that will put this into more perspective and have a new timeline to follow through the next cycle. 

But for now... #IVFGotThis