Trigger, Harvest and Fertilization

So let me take you back a few days.

Ultrasounds last week were showing very slow progress and as of Thursday the doctor wanted to give the follicles a few more days (which meant ordering more Menopur for overnight delivery).  Following Friday’s ultrasound, which showed a 22 and a bunch of other follicles in the mid-teens, they still figured I’d go another night….maybe sacrificing the lead follicle in hopes of getting a number of the ones that were in their mid-teens to catch up and mature.

But, blood tests showed that my progesterone was starting to rise, which according to The Russian’s Right Hand, indicated that the body was saying, “the time’s come….stop messing with me.”  (she only said “the time’s come” part…..but I think the “stop messing with me” was very much implied).

So we ended up triggering Friday night.

That Menopur I ordered….now sitting in my closet.  Poop.

Sunday morning we went in at 8am for ER (egg retrieval) – we sat awhile….they were uncharacteristically slow with information as to what was going on and when we’d go in…..so that was a little frustrating.  I mean, at a certain point you’re gowned up, the I.V.’s in and you’re ready to go. Had a different nurse in the room than last time….she seemed to be having…..not her best day.  There was just alot of firmly moving me around and grumbling at me when I wasn’t sitting/standing/leaning/putting my leg exactly as she wanted.

Luckily the aesthetician kept being jokey jokey so I just focussed on him.

They confirmed my identity, the doc came in and then I was out.

And then I was awake. We only got 5 eggs. Clearly not what we’d hoped for, but better than nothing….especially given that by Friday night’s trigger when I thought the doc actually wanted more time, I was kind of wondering if there was ANYTHING in there to work with.

The same nurse who was not on her best day came in with the above news and kept saying, “when and if there’s a transfer.” I mean, she must have said it 3-4 times.  Does she not realize that one of us is just coming out of anesthesia to the news that she only made 5 eggs and SHE IS FUCKING FRAGILE?!?!  Lie to me a little, or at least choose your words, and for Pete’s sake, stop saying IF!

Horsed down a potato bagel with cream cheese and jam on the drive home and crashed out hard on the couch for the rest of the afternoon.  Randomly watched a mess of Frasier Season 1 on Netflix once I came to….and then of course waited around for the Breaking Bad finale.  Though, I also found Season 4, Episode 2 of Downton Abbey which has now started in the U.K. – there’s no friggin way I can wait until January when it’ll air here in the States.

So now it’s today and I was waiting and waiting to hear the fertilization report. I even cleaned the refrigerator to kill time. Finally got the call that of the 5, 3 were mature and 2 fertilized….so now we wait some more to see what happens with them and if we’ve got something to transfer. (Thanks nurse for planting the “When And If” seed).  The nurse told me that the doc would be in later today and perhaps she’d make a decision already this afternoon or tomorrow at the latest.

We keep telling ourself that it only takes one.

Though shit, it would’ve been nice to have a bazillion options!

We just need one scrappy enough to keep dividing, make the transfer, get in there and HANG THE FUCK ON!!!!

Hopefully we’ll hear something soon…..but for now:

DIVIDE LITTLE CELLS!!!  DIVIDE!!!!!

I May Stim Forever

13 nights so far – tonight will make 14, every possibility there’ll be a few more.

Stimming slowly…steadily it would seem, but slowly.  My ultrasound tech has used the work “blossomed” in regards to my right ovary following some early sleepiness with said ovary, and it’s now cranking on quite a few follicles. Though left ovary is now only really working on a few follicles, so my how the tables turn.

However, lowering my follistim and progressing slowly has all been on purpose in hopes of having a better result than last time. Quality over quantity seems to be the name of the game…..or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. (It’s all about what we tell ourselves, right?)

Saw The Russian (for any new readers, that’s my RE)…..(because she’s Russian) who did today’s ultrasound and could not find my right ovary which led to alot of shoving, prodding and general discomfort due to the fact that I thought that probe was likely bumping up against my lower lung cavity.  NOT COMFORTABLE.  Anyway, she wants more time for the growings, so likely another night or two of stim meds.  I go back tomorrow morning for another look.

At this point we’re hit the day-to-day portion of our IVF fun.  Trigger…..soon.  Retrieval…..also soon?

Hidden Kittens as well as The Science of Happiness

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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Sleeping kittens…..but just how many?

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Happiness can be found in lots of places. Turns out, if you’re having a tough time, you can gain happiness just for reaching out to someone who made a difference in your life…..and letting them know.

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Hope everyone’s having a great week!

Feeling Oogy About Telling Leads to Lots of BUTs

So yesterday I got offered a really good gig….a type of gig I’m good at and have been working hard to get more of….and finally someone called who hadn’t used me before…..for a show and a workshop which equals pretty big money.

But….

You knew there was gonna be a but….I put it in the title….

The rehearsal has potential to fall on egg retrieval (ER) day and the gig has potential to fall on embryo transfer (ET) day.

Potential.

Because WHO KNOWS?!  Today is Stim Day 9 and it’s sort of a day-at-a-time thing to see how I’m responding to the meds and when I’ll be good to go…..BUT (again with the but) since I only have last IVF’s schedule to use as a reference (where I did 13 days of stims), the dates might just fall directly on top of the gig.  I can’t in any good conscience take this gig if I’d have to back out at the last minute.

‘Cause that would be low class.

But (again?) turning down the gig was a bummer, in the end gigs come and go – it’s what happened to the side of it that has left me with some residual oogy feelings.  I was doing an afternoon corporate show in the building when I got the email asking if I could do the show/workshop so I went upstairs to the producer’s office to say I couldn’t do it.

And….out of my mouth came THE TRUTH as to why I couldn’t do it.

THE TRUTH.

Yikes.

The Truth.

The IVF Truth.

What?

I’ve only told a handful of friends about what’s going on, and have definitely blatantly bent the truth to plenty of people as to why I’m not available for stuff or can’t go for drinks or whatever…..but out of my faceplace came THE TRUTH to someone I barely know and it felt like I was given up precious information to someone who, I don’t know…..shouldn’t know it?

Why didn’t I just say I had other gigs or something?

In the moment I just wanted her to know that I had a really good reason for turning down the work, a big reason, that the work really mattered.

But really….I told her THE TRUTH?

Fart!

Why didn’t I just take a breath, sit on it for a minute, and draft an email saying I had other shit going on those dates.

Fart!

I told her we weren’t telling people and to please keep it to herself. She was supportive and told me that she knows people have other things going on and that she’d be back to me with other work down the line…..but her face was kind of awesome…..kind of like “I’m not entirely sure I know what you’re talking about but I know it’s something big and I don’t really know you so I’m attempting a good poker face.”

She’s got to be a good 10+ years younger than me….she must know what IVF is, right?  Maybe she googled it after I left the room.

It’s on me that I’ve opted to keep this information largely under wraps. I know that. I also know that there will come a day where I sing the praises of assisted fertility and hopefully serve as an advocate for folks going through it.

BUT (we’re back to the buts)

….for now, I need to keep it close…not Pandora’s Box powder keg close…but tender-careful close. I’m in the trenches, in the thick of it and doing just fine….

BUT (probably the last)

Why did telling a random someone somehow feel like I was fracturing something that is precious? It’s silly but there’s an irrational part of me that feels a tiny bit like if I tell too many people that somehow it lessens our chances.

And that my friends: IS DUMB.

But (definitely the last) I’m human, and having silly oogy thoughts and feelings during IVF is just part of the minefield ballgame.

 

 

 

IVF 2: Now With ICSI and Tiny Purple Numbers

So we found out last week that on September 1st the company that handles what’s covered for our fertility treatments made a change in that now ICSI is now included in our “package.”

I feel like we got re-bundled.

ICSI = Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

icsi

ICSI is an IVF procedure in which 1 sperm is injected directly into an egg. Usually this is used in cases where sperm count or motility needs a boost – but that’s not where we’re at.  That’s all fine. Yay hubbo.  In my case it’s likely due to help us because of my age.

Yesterday I was in for my first scan (following 5 days of stims)  so I was able to ask why we should use ICSI when we know hubbo’s swimmers are okay.  The Russian’s Right Hand explained that sometimes the exterior of older eggs can be more viscous and harder for the sperm to penetrate – everything inside is likely fine, happy and peachy keen but that shell can be…..crotchety.  So, in our case, hopefully this will up the percentage of eggs that fertilize.  In IVF #1 we had 7 eggs but only 3 fertilized…..there’s no real telling WHY they didn’t fertilize, but if it was due to the viscous crunchy outer layer…..this ought to help.

As for the scan it looked like there are lots of follicles growing on my left ovary and only a couple on the right….though the tech that ran the scan said that perhaps they were just “sleepy” and we’d see more action in a few days.

I head back on Friday my next scan.

In other news: for stims shots, I was told to make four quadrants around my belly button and rotate between them each night. For fun this time around I’ve used a surgical marker (the one I was given to mark my fanny for progesterone shots) to make a small number in each quadrant each time that I take a shot to keep track of where I do the shots each night.  So now, circumnavigating my belly button I have small purple 1-2-3-4-5-6. (Current quadrant markings are 1&5, 2&6, 3 and 4 respectively).

Last time I did 13 nights of stims…..if I go the distance again that’ll be alot of belly numbers.

I will not be documenting this with a photo…..at least not one that I will share.

I have to keep an ounce of dignity.

Piano Hamster, Pageant Fail and Pure Inspiration

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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It’s a hamster.  It’s a hamster eating popcorn.  It’s a hamster eating popcorn on a piano.  And the tune’s stuck in my head.

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In honor of last night’s Miss America…..which I only partially watched…..I give you a classic, regrettable, sadly captured on film moment from a Miss Teen 2007

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And here’s a beautiful piece on Richie Parker – a guy with a great outlook on life and he’s amazing. Watching this made my day.

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Have the best week ever everybody.

Needle Rant and Updates to Protocol

Last night was my first night of shots for this cycle – stims as we say in the biz, short for stimulation meds/stimulation cycle.

syringes

That’s Menopur on top, Lupron in the middle and Follistim on the bottom.

The mixing of the Menopur is what takes the longest and though they’ve told me to use 1ml of water I always put a bit extra in there, like another .1ish.

My little 3 shot cocktail went peachy keen fine and yet again it’s all about LETTING THE NEEDLE DO ALL THE WORK!!!!  I cannot emphasize this enough – just rest it on your skin, press gently and the needle will quite literally sink into the skin, (and for me is) almost pain free.  All this jabbing and getting a running start is all movie show – the needle’s so tiny and sharp – just let it do it all.  I read all about the pressure and build-up ladies are putting on themselves to do these shots and for reals the anticipation is the WORST – so just skip that part and don’t over-think it. Prep those shots, rest the needles on the skin, gently press and it’s in.

Alright, rant done.

Oh, and for me, doing these shots myself is very empowering and now that I’m used to them, it’s a fairly quick process.  My hubbo always yells, “I’m proud of you!” from the other room and though he’s always said he’d help with the shots, I’m glad he doesn’t.  I think he’d be far more worried about hurting me and the shots would end up taking longer and hurting more.  I had to get myself over the psychological hurdle of doing the shots and I am now flat out proud of myself every time I do them.  I know it’s a way for husbands to be involved in the process, but I do wonder if it ends up making it harder.

Alright, rant done.

Also, I’m genuinely sorry if these shots are super painful for you or maybe you just can’t do them alone.  That blows.

Alright, rant done for real this time.

There’ll be some subtle differences to this next protocol, at least for starters. I’m adding dexamethasone (which is a steroid) in pill form once a day. There’s limited information on its use on the interwebs, so this is what I’ve pieced together from the internet and also from talking with The Russian’s Right Hand.

  • it doesn’t so much do things specifically by itself but enhances how the other drugs work
  • it can hopefully lead to better quality eggs and more of them by tempering how the body responds to the introduction of all the other drugs. i.e. the drugs can do what they do while the dexamethasone waves it’s arms around and says, “hey look over here for awhile, pay no attention to what those drugs are doing, look at this shiny object instead!” (I like to imagine the dexamethosone shaking a tiny set of keys as a distraction).
  • perhaps helps the body to not react to the re-introduced embryo as “foreign matter” i.e. the body can reject those things that it feels shouldn’t be there…. so basically the dexamethosone says, “hey don’t be a bitch about this, just leave that little emby be.”

I’ve read that it can cause insomnia in some folks so I’m taking that pill in the morning.  It’s not something that everyone needs, but after reviewing how I responded to everything last cycle The Russian feels I’m a good candidate.

I will also start off with a lower dose of Follistim this time….I may still get bumped up over the course of the stimulation cycle, but we’ll see how it goes.

I’m curious to see the differences between this cycle and the last. Old glass-half-full McGee here is hoping for a) very few side effects yet again and b) a bit better output on the eggs collected vs eggs fertilized ratio. I was also pretty slow and steady last time on the follicle growth so I wonder again if I’ll go 13 days of stims or more/less.

I’m back to knitting a bunch which is VERY therapeutic – right now I’m making some socks for me, some boot toppers, a baby blanket for one of my besties who’s due in December (so I’ve some time on that) and a scarf that a pal commissioned me to make.  Since it’s Chicago, winter could come at any time so I ought to get on that.

Sorry about that needle rant…..but don’t make it awful if it doesn’t have to be!!!!

Clearly I can’t let this go…..

Vegas Under the Influence of IVF

I’m sitting at the Las Vegas airport waiting for my flight home to Chicago. I’ve been here since Tuesday and it’s been a really nice break slash bit of work.  Vegas has been experiencing quite a bit of rain and cloudiness, and it only seemed to be that way when we had free time, so alas I’m not coming home with a tan but I did have a great time. My best friend was coincidentally in town so we were able to have a mess of time together and who doesn’t like time with their bestie.  We had tapas, went to the pinball hall of fame, did bits in a 99cent store and ate too much frozen yogurt.  Quality. Time.

Tuesday night I stood in my swanky hotel room (again, it was a gig, so the room wasn’t on my dime) looking out over the glitzy, neon-laden strip and shot ganirelix into my belly.  This made me feel especially…..Vegas-y. Vegas is a place where I have historically been prone to participate in the big party while this time I’ve kind of put myself on lockdown.  So, I pretended that the ganirelix was a full on party drug and that I was super hardcore.  I know, clearly not p/c but I have a fairly active imagination and you gotta make fun where you can…especially when you’re shooting yourself up with fertility drugs in Sin City.

Sidenote – I put the syringe of ganirelix in the bin at the airport along with my note from the doctor figuring I was going to have to explain it.

They.

Did Not.

Blink an eye.

Am I wrong? TSA has stopped me and made a huge production when I’ve tried to go through with a YOGURT….but apparently needles are on the up and up.

Whatever.

By the way, I had to surrender that yogurt.  What a waste.

So on this gig I was with a group of folks and there was alot of “let’s get a drink”……which again is super cool, until you’re the gal who’s been known to drink and then suddenly without telling anyone has pretty much stopped drinking.  I had a small “skinny” margarita the pool, 1/2 a glass of wine at a bar and some sips of samples at a liquor tasting.  Talk about head trips – I felt guilty about all of them. However, The Russian told me within all of this that she believes patients still need “to live” and that as long as things aren’t in excess, it was fine.  So…I figure if this IVF doesn’t work it really would not be caused by a small skinny margarita, 1/2 a glass of wine and some liquor sips.

I just gotta let that one go and not sweat it.  And, that’s the last drinking I’ll be doing, hopefully for quite awhile.

Oh, I met Tom Arnold earlier today on the gig I was doing – could not have been a nicer, more accessible guy. I thanked him for his openness in the media regarding he and wife’s trip through infertility, adding that it’s such a support to the community.  We talked for a bit, he asked were I was with everything and wished me luck.  One of my colleagues nudged me later and asked, “so what were you and Tom talking about?”  I flat out lied to that girl.  I pulled something out of my butt about some movie of his that I liked.  Someday down the road I’ll tell her what the conversation was really about, but for now: lies!

I took my last birth control pill on Sunday night and got my period today, so I go in tomorrow morning for the first monitoring appointment of my cycle.

And then….stims for IVF #2 will start Friday or Saturday.

It begins.

Buckle up.

 

 

Fox Sounds, Pets on Trampolines and Twerk Fail Fake

To the untrained human, trying to get pregnant simply involves gettin’busy, knockin’ boots, makin’ bacon, the lust and thrust, the bump and grind, havin’ a bedroom rodeo, some hanky panky, gettin’ lucky, a roll in the hay, a good old fashioned shag…..

……but for those of us in the infertility trenches, we know getting pregnant means trying to hone your body into a perfectly balanced eco-system of hormones and chemicals you never knew you had while aligning the planets during a mystical creatures convention where a unicorn nods approvingly at you and The Cubs win The World Series.

It can be daunting.

For me, it boils down to having a constant stream of distractions, shiny objects and things to occupy my brain.  I share some here each week.

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This is one of the strangest and most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. Those Nordic folks know how to make silly with high production values.

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Animals on trampolines. E. Nuff. Said.

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I’m not for this whole twerking craze, though the Worst Twerk Fail video that’s been on YouTube for awhile now was not without its amusements, and over 9 million people saw it.  Last night on Jimmy Kimmel it was revealed that the entire thing was an amazing hoax. Andy Kaufman would be proud. Here’s the whole story:

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Hope everyone’s great and has a grand week!

IVF 2: Home Stretch to Go Time

We’re down to the last few days of pre-IVF priming…..in the end the 5 weeks have gone fairly quickly, likely because I surrendered, gave up worrying about it and just let it happen (more on this in a sec).  Once I put the situation in the backseat the drive went just fine.  As you know I’ve spent the last few weeks on estrogen pills and testosterone patches (along with the birth control) and those have been fine.  I feel like I’ve gained a little weight – which I’m totally not cool with – more on that in a smidge.

So as to the worrying – I had to address and find a place of comfort with the fact that I currently have little or no control of some major aspects of my life.  That was tough…..and I’m not even a control freak.

On one hand, I have no control of my reproductive personage and am literally just doing what I’m told.

And, on the other hand, most of the work I do is freelance which means there are times that I’m busy and….times that I’m not.  Summer is a slower time, so that’s been a head game as of late.

Having these two things going on simultaneously can be a real punch in the nuts.

My wise hubbo simply said, “Control the things you can.”

For now, that feels like not a whole lot, but I have to remember that this is a chapter and not the whole book. There will come a time when I look back on these months/years, wipe my brow and likely say, “holy shit, that happened.”

I know I’ll feel much better once I’m actively shooting myself up with stuff – I sort of think stimming is the easiest part of IVF as it’s the period of time when you’re being proactive and participatory. It’s the waiting between cycles that’s the rough and tumble. I also have to hold on to the hope that work’ll pick up as we head into Fall, because it usually does. And, if it’s a little light now that’s kind of fine as I can’t really be heading in and out of town when I’m supposed to be getting morning monitored.

All that aside, I bought myself a new dress – ModCloth.com by way of Ebay and that’s done wonders. Funny how the slightest bit of retail therapy can help a lady out (said by someone who really is not a shopper).  Also the dress is red and I’ll be damned but that color just gives me a real positive kick in the ass.  I feel great when I wear it.

As for the weight gain – don’t know if that’s residual from all the meds or what, but I can’t say that I’m cool with it. Yes, I know I’ll be gaining weight once I’m pregnant (hey look at me, keeping things in the positive) but for now I don’t like the idea that my clothing’s snugger than it ought to be. I don’t like it. Also I’m off to Vegas on a gig this week (see? work is happening) and there will be ample time to sit poolside….the thought of putting on a bathing suit right now is GUH-ROSS!

But the gig’s in Vegas baby.

Vegas.

I’ll be in Vegas the week before I start stimming.

Thank you, universe.