#34 Lesson Learned: I Know Nothing

As could probably be read in my tone from my last entry, I was not optimistic that this was going to work. But I was wrong. Very, wonderfully, perfectly wrong 🙂 I took a home pregnancy test early Wednesday morning as we had planned. I had seen these tests result negative plenty of times, so I came in with my know-it-all personality and the second I saw the moisture pass over the line that would fill in if the test were positive I threw it in the trash and told my husband that was it. He just looked at me like “How can this be it, that was 2 seconds?”. And then I went back to bed because it was over and I already knew it was going to be.

An hour or so later when my alarm went off for the day, I was ready to deal with it and be all sorts of sad and mad. I did the one thing that calms me best and I had not been able to do for weeks….I ran. It felt so good to be out and moving again and not feel like a bump on a log hanging out in limbo. By time I got home, I was ready to start planning for the next cycle, but first I ran to the lab to get my blood drawn and confirm what I already knew.

I fortunately had planned my work from home schedule well and got to be a crab in the comfort of my own home. While getting little work done, I got out my calendar and did some calculating on when our next stim cycle would start and when we could possible be harvesting and transferring again. I emailed by updates to my husband and declared that August would be the month it all worked out and we would name our son August as a result. I was already 10 steps ahead.

And then I got the email….I had a MyChart message. I opened it up, fully prepared to read confirmation that the results were negative. Much to my absolute disbelief, I read the words “Congratulations, you are pregnant”. I read it about 6 times before calling my husband, who did not believe me. In his true fashion, he requested an email with picture proof of the results 🙂 And then it was just a collection of “Oh my gosh” cries back and forth. I then panicked over the coffee I had been drinking and lack of breakfast I had eaten since I ran. I started chugging water and stuffing face, hoping to calm the newly set in jitters. The whole thing was totally surreal.

The clinic called shortly after my results came in to congratulate me and tell me my HcG levels were around 188, which is really good. I was instructed to return Friday for a follow-up blood draw, where my levels were around 550! This is a great increase and signs of a healthy pregnancy thus far 🙂

I was so excited to continue my progesterone shots and have my “targets” redrawn on (since I obviously scrubbed them off in my morning shower). Oh and that pregnancy test….I got it out of the trash….it was positive. I really know nothing 🙂

So now the new journey begins….being pregnant. This feels like the scariest things yet. I don’t know how to be pregnant. I don’t know how to raise a child. I also don’t adapt well to change, apparently even when I ache for it and prep for it. It is all still completely surreal and I am still not quite sure I am pregnant since nothing feels different….except that I soooo want a nice cold beer and my morning coffee! I just need a good dose of morning sickness to start taking it all in 🙂


#33 The Eve

Tomorrow we find out what flip of the coin we will get. Was every shot, every passing day, every tear worth it. I have spent 12 days looking into every change in my body hoping to take it as a sign that the embryo(s) were still there are growing. I found excitement in my sudden reaction to metals that left my ring finger swollen and itchy from my wedding ring. I cried over Smores’ sudden strong attachment to me, in hopes that it meant she could feel the embryos too. I am terrified for tomorrow and the truth it will bring. I fear the lack of finger itch and Smores’ decreased interest. What if I lost them? We were close, so close, closer than we have ever been. The idea of actually being pregnant feels like a reality we will never reach, a concept that I just cannot grasp. This wait has brought out every emotion in me. The amount of fear, anger, and resentment were also countered with hope, optimism, and prayer. We so want to feel the joy of finally seeing that positive and really starting our next chapter.

Fingers crossed!!

#32 Transfer Day!

The two embryos held on strong until our transfer appointment on Friday. I had talked with one of our doctors on Thursday to see where their current recommendation was with how many embryos to transfer and if there was any benefit in waiting to do a Day 5 transfer. The doctor did recommend doing both embryos and told me that we did not push for a Day 5 transfer since we had so few embryos to work with. This was my guess at the reasoning, but I just could not get over my frustrated feeling that we did not have more embryos to try and go for Day 5 to have a stronger embryo to transfer. However, if we were doing a Day 5 transfer, they would have only recommended transferring 1 embryo, so that embryo is in me right now regardless. 

We took the doctor’s recommendation and transferred both embryos. It was a pretty interesting process how the procedure works. We went into the same procedure rooms that they use for the egg retrieval, which are significantly less intimidating without an anesthesiologist present. We got to see our embryos up on a TV screen and got a description of their growth from the embryologist. We had an “A” embryo and a “B-” one. The “A” had a symmetrical 8 cells, as expected and the “B-” had 7 cells and less symmetry, but was still continuing to grow, so it was a viable embryo to implant.

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I was required to have a full bladder for this procedure to allow the ultrasound to have the best view and guide the catheter. This made for an extra impatient wait for the doctor to arrive. We had a unique delay in the whole process as a fire drill took place while we were in the waiting room and the entire building had to exit to the parking lot. This added some delays in getting everyone to their visits on time. I was anxiously awaiting the procedure starting so I could finally go to the bathroom!!

It was kind of exciting to finally have an ultrasound done on the outside of my belly to view my uterus. The catheter with the embryos was super soft, so I could not even feel what I watched on the screen. The two embryos in a little bubble of saline were quickly released in my uterus and we all sent good vibes that they (or at least one) would find a permanent home there. Shortly after this, I was able to go to the bathroom and discuss some post procedure topics.

There were not too many specific instructions. The number one point was to stay positive, which sounds easy enough, but we are finding it really hard not to just be “cautiously hopeful”. Being optimistic is scary. It opens the door for so much more potential hurt. Granted we will feel that disappointing hurt whether we were optimistic during this waiting period or not, but I am definitely afraid to actually be optimistic and truly believe it will work.

The next week and a half are essentially to be treated as if I a pregnant. My exercise should be minimal and low impact, which for me is a really big lifestyle change. It is gorgeous outside and prime running season! I de-stress through activity and love my daily workout schedule. Not that I would not give that all up for us to have a baby, but giving it up to maybe have a baby or maybe be crushed is a different deal.

Here we go with “patiently” waiting. Well, we can’t forget the highlight of every night that we get to enjoy….progesterone shots 😉

#31 From Ten to Two…

Today we got the fertilization report. I was shocked to hear that of the 10 eggs retrieved, only 3 of them were mature and only 2 had fertilized to become embryos. This is not quite the result we were hoping for or even slightly expecting. With these results, we were scheduled for a Day 3 transfer and were given the choice between 1 and 2 embryos to transfer.

We had thought since our initial consult that we would only be given the option to transfer 1 embryo at a time to reduce the risk of a multiple pregnancy and the higher risk. However, knowing we had this choice to make and also that it was with our only 2 embryos had us spinning. I currently have a list of questions our to my doctor to get a better gauge on their recommendation, why we would do a Day 3 transfer rather than a Day 5 transfer, and what may have caused the lack of mature eggs to have been in the retrieved bunch.

A lot of google searching throughout the day had us very back and forth. At this point though, we are leaning towards transferring 1 embryo on Friday and saving the other one if needed for a second transfer. The idea of jumping right back into a stim cycle if this time does not work is not enticing at all. We are also hoping that we can compile our odds by doing two separate transfers instead of putting all of our eggs…literally….in one basket.

In the end though, we will really be looking to our doctors for their recommendation, which we hope to get early, but will for sure get on Friday prior to the the transfer taking place. So much is dependent on how the embryos continue to grow over the next 2 days to really make that decision.

Along with the fertilization results, we also go the joy of starting nightly progesterone shots. This intra-muscular injection is a whole different feeling than the subcutaneous injections I had gotten somewhat used to. Nothing like a needle being darted right into your butt muscles to inject a thick oil based substance. All in all, it did not go too bad. My leg had a strange tingle cramp afterwards, but I have to assume that is due to the muscle connection. Having only one shot per day in this phase is much appreciated.

Here is to hoping that we still have 2 embryos remaining tomorrow when we get our fertilization report and that we make it to the Friday transfer.

#30 Egg Retrieval Day!!

The excitement of this day definitely masked some of the fears I probably should or could have been having over this procedure. I went in just ready to go and did not have a lot of hesitations. We were brought back to the recovery room to start where I changed into my fancy hospital gown and had my vitals taken. I was given a briefing of the procedure and what to expect to feel like afterwards. Apparently the normal pain scale level when women get out of the procedure is a 6/10. This had me a bit worried since I do not have a high pain tolerance and had kind of forgotten about the fact that I might not be feeling myself coming out of the procedure. But what was I going to do at this point.

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The nurse took me back to the retrieval room to meet with the anesthesiologist and guided my husband to his room. The meeting with the anesthesiologist was also very intimidating as well. I understand the need to talk through the risks and resuscitation plans, but this had me pretty panicked. The idea of a needle going into my hand vein has also been a very squirmish concept to me, so there was a lot of nervous feet tapping happening by me. In hindsight of it all, the nurse and anesthesiologist did a very good job trying to distract me and keeping me in the know with each step. I had no recollection of the actual procedure and woke up with pretty limited cramping about 20 minutes after it was all done.

We were able to retrieve 10 eggs!! This was the realistic goal number for the last couple of visits, so we were happy with it. We also found out that my husband gave a great sperm sample that was very concentrated, so that is more good news to hopefully lead to some good fertilization results tomorrow!!

Overall the rest of the day of recovery went well! I had a nice long nap and was treated to Arby’s and ice cream, which were a delicious “medication” 🙂 And puppy cuddles didn’t hurt either.

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#29 See ya Later Stims!!

I am writing this post as we have just officially finished with our stim cycle injections!!! Friday and Saturday injections went well again. We even were so bold as to bring our injection setup over to our friends’ house on Saturday night to not have to miss out on time with friends. I was very hesitant at first, but warmed up to the idea realizing we have very supportive friends and what is the difference between their kitchen counter and ours.

Since we finished our shots tonight, that means our Sunday morning appointment went as hoped! There were some nice sized follicles up on the ultrasound screen. We had a 20, some 18’s, and 16’s in our mix of 10 good looking follicles. This meant we were a go for a Tuesday egg retrieval. It was a good day to have my husband in the room since I needed a celebratory high five 🙂

We meet with a nurse to go over all of the details for our super shot day/night ahead. First up was Ganirelix, which we needed to do as soon as we got home from our appointment. Then Follistim and Menopur as usual at 8:30pm. The new and extra important ones were the HcG trigger and Lupron trigger shots to be done at exactly 10:45pm, which is 36 hours prior to our 8:45am egg retrieval on Tuesday.

After our 8:30 shots, which again, we nailed….I made myself a cup of coffee, queued up Teen Mom (the irony of this is totally hitting me now), and chopped some veggies for weekday meal prep. And just like that…10:40 was upon us and I started icing my belly up for the final 2 shots. It is pretty impressive how far we have come with these. We got our system in place for the actual injection process and I even watched the injections occur instead of fearfully looking away like I did for the first 20-some. But, even with our progress, that does not mean I will be missing it with our off-day tomorrow 🙂

Now on to thinking good thoughts for the egg retrieval procedure and hoping for some fantastic fertilization results on Wednesday!!

Final pic of my belly all bandaged up! The band-aids hide the few bruises well 🙂

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#28 Another Check-in, More Progress!

Today was my third ultrasound check-in and everything looked to be growing as expected! I still have 8-9 follicles on my right side with the largest measuring in around 12-13mm and 4-5 follicles on my left side measuring in from 13-15mm. The goal is to have at least 2 follicles over 17mm and the average of the rest of the follicles around 14mm before doing the trigger shot.

I go in on Sunday for another check-in and am so so hoping we meet the measurement criteria to trigger for a Tuesday egg retrieval!! Not only are we ready to move on to the next phase of the process, but we are very ready to be done with injections and hopefully avoid getting another Follistim refill cartridge. Fingers crossed for another smooth night tonight and even tighter cross for a good appointment on Sunday!!

#27 More, More, and More Shots

The injections on Monday and Tuesday went fine, even with the bonus shot on Monday night. Even with using the full amount listed on the Follistim cartridge (600 units), we found that there was a pretty healthy reserve amount in the cartridge that we hoped to take advantage of. I had my second monitoring appointment on Wednesday and I looked to have 4-5 follicles on my left, with the larger measuring in at 12mm and 7-8 on my right ovary, measuring in a bit smaller at 10mm. We are hoping to get them measuring around 17mm before doing the trigger shot to release the eggs. Follicles typically grow 2mm a day, so all still seems to be on the right pace!

My Follistim and Menopur injections were prescribed to continue at 200 and 75 units and Ganirelix got to make its appearance at the injection party! I spoke with a nurse after my appointment to get an additional order for more Follistim put into the pharmacy since I would run out by our Thursday injections. It was a good discussion though since I learned the trick of how to use the overfill they put in the Follistim cartridges. I learned that we can just dial the pen to my full dose of 200 units and inject the pen as far as it will push. It will stop at the measurement that still needs to be given and a new cartridge can be put in to finish off the dose. Getting to use this extra medication aka liquid gold was well worth the additional poke!

Wednesday night’s injections were probably our worst yet 😦 It was a 4 shot night and I have been running out of real estate on my abdomen. I have a few bruised areas from hitting blood vessels that we try to avoid. We attempted to go on the lower side of my belly button and I found that to hurt significantly worse than the other locations. Adding the Ganirelix caused a lot of anxiety for me. Just having another medication to learn the ins and outs of did not have me feeling confident. There was also an air bubble looking gap at the top of the syringe. Every time I tried to move it to the top, more medication would come out of the needle, so we just went ahead and injected. I of course googled “embolism” after the fact to see what kind of damage we may have done. It is now 2 days later and I am fine, so we can probably say we are in the clear! The needles on the pre-filled syringes are also much duller than what we had been using so the actual in and out of the injection did not go super great.

After a bad round of injections, I was ready to see some improvement. I came in with a different mindset on Thursday night and we flew through them all pretty pain free. This was such a relief after all of the tears and snappy comments on Wednesday night.

#26 Day 4 of Stims and Monitoring Appt #1

Today was my first monitoring check. After days 2 and 3 of injections going much more smoothly than night one, I was anxious to see how things were progressing. Thank goodness for 7am appointments to get answers nice and early 🙂

My follicles checked out well with 6-7 on one side and 10-11 on the other. I seemed to have an average measurement around 8mm for the larger ones in the bunch. If I remember correctly from my pre-IVF cycles, there are still another 10-15mm left to grow from there. We are early in the stim phase, so that was all okay. I had my blood work done as well, which resulted in bumping up my Follistim dose a smidge to 200 units. Bad timing in the increase since my cartridge was running low and I needed to do an additional shot to get my full dose. But what’s another shot now that we are getting more used to things!

#25 First Night of Shots!

For what felt like the first time in a long time, things are happening right on schedule! I got my period on Wednesday (5/17), just as predicted. Not that I didn’t send a MyChart message to the nurses on both Monday and Wednesday morning asking about the “contingency” plan of what would happen if I did not get my period as planned. I am so grateful for the ease of access to advice from the nurses, as their expertise and certainty helps to calm a lot of my nerves.

With my period coming on Wednesday, I was scheduled to come in on Friday (5/19) morning for my baseline ultrasound to hopefully get the okay to start injections! The appointment went great and my uterine lining was as thin as expected and it looked like I had 10-11 follicles on each ovary that would hopefully be maturing over the next week and a half. I was instructed to do a 150 Follistim injection and 75mg of Menopur for the first 3 days and came back in on Monday (5/22) to check on my progress. I had thought there would be 3 shots to start from what I read on other online blogs, so starting off with 2 seemed like a nice ease into the process 🙂

I left the doctor’s office very excited and just ready to go and really feeling like we were making progress! It seems like a strange thing to get excited for, but I had begun my countdown until 8:30pm when we would do the injections. We had to pick a time that we knew we would be home and awake over the next 10-15 days to keep consistent. I put up quite an unnecessary fight to go with 8pm since that half hour seemed like such an unneeded wait and I thought I could do the shots all on my own and did not need to wait for my husband to get home from his late work days. Good thing I lost that battle since I was completely unsuccessful with giving myself either injection.

We got to be thankful yet again for the ease of access to medical information as we watched step by step videos on how to prep and inject both medications before we did the process ourselves. Even after having an injection class in person the week prior, having these refreshers was very necessary. I was less afraid of the Follistim since this was a fancy little pen that had a built in dial to measure the correct dosage and a tiny little needle that I thought would be a piece of cake. When it came time to actually do the injection, I just couldn’t do it. I had about 6 different conversations with myself about how silly I was being and that it would not hurt a bit. I made my husband close the blinds, as they were my scapegoat to why I could not do the injection. I finally gave in to his pleads to do it for me while I looked away. The poke of the actual needle was painless, but I was surprised to find that the actual medication had a bit of sting as it went in. Everything I read said the Follistim was painless and the Menopur had a burn to it. If I was cringing for this one, what did that mean for the Menopur?!

The prepping of the Menopur was a bit more involved since Menopur is actual a powder medication that had to be dissolved with saline and loaded into a syringe. Once the syringe was ready to go, I had to attach my injection needle. I had 3 different sized needles sent from the pharmacy, but was not sure which one to use, so I looked for the smallest size. I only looked to the “G” number, assuming the smaller the gauge of the needle, the better. The prepped needle that I was holding looked nothing short of terrifying. It was at this point that I saw the second measurement on the needle bags….the length. I picked a 1.5” instead of the nice little 0.5”. Go me! We were too nervous to waste the medication that was already in the bigger needle, so we decided to just go with it. I did not even pretend to try to inject this one myself since I felt queasy just looking at it. We did ice my stomach on this one as I read advice online that this would help with the burning feeling. After too many minutes of pacing and my stomach thawing, it was go time and it actually went really well! I didn’t feel the needle a whole lot, but my husband did say it was really hard to get in since it was so big. Our optimistic outlook is that it should never feel worse than it did that first night!

Even though the process was by no means a smooth one, we felt pretty accomplished to have it done and are more prepared for the next nights ahead! I plan to ice for both injections and we will tag-team the injection process. I will “pinch the inch” to give the injection location and he will poke and inject while I trade in with the gauze after the needle comes out. We are about 4 hours away from tonight’s adventure and checking another 2 shots off the grand total of injections 🙂