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Day 14 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Clinic Samples to the Rescue

Day 14 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Clinic Samples to the Rescue

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

How would I define my own journey with infertility? Imagine you are strapped into the World’s most extreme roller coaster ride. Even on a day-to-day basis my emotions could be anywhere from pure bliss from my positive pregnancy result, followed shortly after with deep sadness over another loss. I’ve become a master at being cautiously optimistic these days. I still find great joy with each positive pregnancy test, despite my fertility history of recurrent miscarriages. The IVF process is also much the same, except the stakes are even higher.

 

Tens of thousands of dollars are on the line for my particular IVF treatment plan. As most of you know, I have been diagnosed with a low ovarian reserve due to a low Anti-Mullerian Hormone level. In other words, I have little time left for the possibility of having biological children. We still plan on adopting children in the future as well. But I want to look back on my life and know that I unequivocally did all that I could to make my dream possible. IVF is a part of that plan.

 

Some people say they are amazed at everything I’ve been through. I’ve been told things like “you are so strong.” Anyone who has dealt with adversity in their life will often tell you they had no choice other than to be strong. Another word for strength that I think is the ultimate form of true strength is the word resilient. Of course I have my terrible days, everyone does, but I try to view my struggles as something that is building me up and not tearing me down. I always try to ask myself with any issue I face, “What would a resilient person do in this situation?” Strength is not the absence of emotion, but using that emotion to create something bigger than ourselves.

 

With all that said, let’s get into how I resolved my issue of running out of IVF medication from yesterday. The good news – I called my fertility clinic first thing this morning and they have enough Menopur samples to give me for the next couple days. The bad news – they do not have any Omnitrope for me at all, and I’ll need to wait until my delivery arrives by mail. The nurse I spoke with calmed my nerves about missing out on my Omnitrope by letting me know that my IVF cycle wouldn’t be cancelled over it. It was such a relief to hear this because I was worried I had ruined my entire IVF cycle. She said, “You weren’t on Omnitrope with your last round, and you were still able to get one embryo.” This really helped put my mind at ease. Instead of thinking that Omnitrope was absolutely necessary for my egg retrieval to work, I should have been thinking about how it was just one out of a handful of medications that were helping the process. It wasn’t a make-or-break thing by going a couple days without the Omnitrope.

 

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Overflowing suitcase full of all my IVF medication supplies and vitamins. I need to get organized.

 

So after the getting the good news about Menopur being in stock at the clinic, I started to get ready to go pick it up. Mom and I ate our continental breakfast in the hotel room and watched talk show “The View.” Mom hadn’t ever watched it before, and I sometimes watch it. The reason I like the show is because they pose a question relating to some of the most controversial and important topics of the day and everyone at the table gives their input. On today’s show Whoopi Goldberg joked about how automatic driving cars has some worried about “sex in cars could lead to brothels on wheels.” And if that comment weren’t funny enough, my mom misunderstood what Whoopi said in the most hilarious way. Mom looked at me thoroughly confused. I could tell based on her expression that she misunderstood what Whoopi said. “Sex in cars could lead to waffles on wheels? I don’t get it” Mom said. I busted out laughing so hard, you know the type of laughing where you can barely breath for a minute or two. I managed to contain myself and wipe away the tears to explain what Whoopi actually said. We both had a really good laugh and I so needed it today with the stress IVF can bring.

 

The other thing I really enjoy is listening to Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure podcast about their infertility journey. There is something special about people who can turn their struggle into something that helps other people, while also making them laugh. I truly believe laughter is the best medicine. I think Matt & Doree have tapped into that concept to create great content for their listeners.

 

After I picked up my Menopur samples from the clinic, Mom and I walked around downtown. We stopped by The Cheesecake Factory, it was the first time I’ve ever been to one. We don’t have them back home. That was the absolute best Shepherd’s Pie I’ve had in my entire life, which reminds me I need to look up the restaurant knock-off recipe online. I also had their Oreo cheesecake. It’s the type of food that will put you into a totally blissed-out food coma.

 

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Oreo Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Tasty nom-noms.

 

After my fat-kid self was satisfied, Mom and I walked around and took in the beautiful sights of Seattle. Although I am not a fan of all the noisy construction in the city, it is bar none the most construction cranes I’ve ever seen in a city. The sheer volume of construction here is mind boggling.

 

I learned the other day that Amazon has much to do with the ever growing city skyline. Amazon has a headquarters here in Seattle and their influence over the city is massive. Ask any local and they seem to have a strong opinion about Amazon. Overall people are happy so many jobs were created, while at the same time infuriated over the increase in the cost of living. Many landlords saw the opportunity to cash in and dramatically increased their rental costs. Property costs have also increased and priced-out many locals who have to buy homes outside the city boundaries. Although I know that this happens with many places around the world, to see it happen at such a break-neck speed in this city is kind of sad. The city has a huge homeless population and I am sure the cost of living is a huge obstacle for people to move out of poverty. I’m a self-admitted economics nerd. I loved watching “The Big Short” and watching anything related to how economies function. It’s a part of history that we can all learn from that impacts us personally. Seattle is a great city to visit, but I can’t picture myself living here with the high cost of living.

 

So tonight I soldier onward with more needle pokes to my belly, minus the Omnitrope. But all in all it was a really nice day. I was fraught with distress last night over just having missed the pharmacy hours to phone in my prescription. But I managed to deal with the problem today, my egg retrieval surgery is still on, and I amazingly didn’t die as an end result from all the stress. Such is life on the roller coaster of infertility.

 

Thank you for reading.

Check out my other blog entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Featured Image Credit: Ferring Fertility

 

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Day 13 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): What To Do When You Run Out of IVF Meds

Day 13 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): What To Do When You Run Out of IVF Meds

(Entry written prior to posted date)

 

Is it just me or do these IVF meds give you crazy vivid dreams. I had a dream that I was with a tour group walking on these set of rocks that go out into the sea. Once we got to the end of the  rocks and stood looking at the water surrounding us, I saw an orca circling us. I told the tour guide and he said, “No need to worry.” But I noticed something wiggling at my feet. It was a bunch of small baby orcas that got pushed onto the the rocks by the waves. The next thing I knew the waters were rising to the point where our feet slipped out from under us. Half a dozen large orcas had their sights set on killing us. I was one of two people out of seven to survive by managing to swim to shore. When I looked back the orcas were flipping the bodies of the people into the air for fun and then catching them back in their mouths to chomp on them again. Years ago I heard killer whales kill for fun, so their name seems quite fitting. It was a pretty messed up dream. I don’t even know where to start with interpreting it, nor do I really want to. I’ve had other nightmares while going through IVF. I’m not sure if it’s the stress of the situation or if it is actually the meds contributing to this.

 

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Mom and I at the Bloedel Reserve.

 

So after my terrifying dream, we decided to check out the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge island. It was very beautiful. What I liked about the reserve is that it was created in a way to compliment the natural landscape, as opposed to ripping up the land to make an overly manicured garden. Bloedel Reserve is a rugged garden that is more true to nature, with the main exception being the Japanese garden area. I really enjoyed it. It was nice to get out and explore for a good portion of the day. I always feel so centered when I am out in nature and it’s a great way to de-stress during the IVF process.

 

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My doctors have been doing blood tests and ultrasounds on me about every other day since I’ve been here in Seattle. Because my little eggies are responding very slowly to the medicine, I am put into a difficult position. The doctors keep saying, “Okay, I think that if you do just two more days of shots you should be ready.” Yet my eggs barely grow and they don’t grow enough for acceptable size for an egg retrieval.

 

Now I’m out of my original meds and need to get them delivered. Normally, it’s no big deal for  pharmacies that specialize in IVF medication to deliver by the next day. But because I was wandering around in the garden today and being a little too carefree, I didn’t realize how late it was getting. It was four o’clock by the time I called the pharmacy for a refill, they said their delivery department was closed. I would have to wait until Monday, leaving me with without my medication for the entire weekend. Now I was in panic mode.

 

I had to figure something out. I couldn’t go the whole weekend without my shots. That could put my whole egg retrieval in jeopardy. So I decided I would call my clinic in the morning to see if they have any samples they can give me. My clinic was able to do this the last time I did an egg retrieval. They gave me one Ganirelix when I was out of it before. Some fertility clinics may give you one or two samples in emergency situations, but don’t expect a clinic to give you more than that. Hopefully when I call my clinic in the morning they can help me out with this. Other than this nerve-racking predicament, I had a really nice day getting out and exploring the Bloedel Reserve.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

Check out my other blog entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Featured Image Credit: Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Day 12 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Perseverance

Day 12 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Perseverance

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

One of the biggest stressors for doing IVF is the high cost. Most of us who scrape together enough money to do it need to get it from different sources. I was lucky enough to win a grant to pay for a big chunk of of the cost. I was also very thankful that my Mom could help me with the upfront costs and medicine that I am slowly paying her back with. I also have some on my credit cards only due to last minute unexpected costs. Those unexpected costs were due to me needing more medication due to my eggs not responding very well. IVF Medicine is incredibly expensive, especially when your eggs don’t cooperate and barely grow.

 

I feel like I am in a constant battle. I get angry sometimes, as anyone would when they shell out this much money with no guarantee of a baby. But still we try. We continue to see if “just this next time” it will work. I knew someone whose adoptive mother had 15 miscarriages before she finally gave birth to her one and only child. She went through those miscarriages during the 1950s and 1960s, when the topic was very taboo and treatment was not advanced like it is today. Imagine having that many miscarriages with no explanation because they didn’t have the technology to determine the cause for all her losses. This woman told me she believed her adoptive mother was the most resilient person she ever knew and she said, “there is something to be said for someone’s perseverance despite all the obstacles.” That word, perseverance, really stuck out in my mind, and it’s something I’ve been striving for ever since.

 

But in order to persevere with infertility treatment it all comes down to the fact that your perseverance will cost you. Some may say, “Just continue to try naturally and it will happen” they do not understand that this too has a cost. For those of us that have recurrent miscarriages (like I do), there is definitely a cost to this. Sometimes surgery is needed afterward to clear the uterus. If the uterus isn’t cleared completely there is a chance that this will cause even worse infertility issues due to embryos not being able to properly implant due to remaining scar tissue. This remaining scar tissue can cause embryos that do implant over it to not get sufficient nutrients, which can lead to further miscarriages. Resolving this issue includes costs for things such as ultrasounds, sonohystogram, hysteroscopy, and repeated hysteroscopy if the first one did not clear everything. All of those ‘what if’ scenarios I just described actually happened to me, and it ended up costing me more than a round of IVF. So hopefully you can see why I chose to pursue IVF. It increases the odds of success and helps you to avoid costly surgeries after miscarriages. If you have recurrent miscarriages IVF might be the best treatment option for you. Ask your doctor about treatment options and expect further testing to be done in order to narrow down the best treatment for you. I needed more testing to learn that for sure two of my losses were due to chromosomal abnormalities. Because of this testing and the results we decided the best option for success was IVF.

 

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Taking a break from shopping to enjoy the view of Seattle.

 

Despite the reality of the costs, you still need to live a little. Today Mom and I went to the Pacific Place Mall. I’ve become a master at window shopping, instead of actual shopping. Most of the time I am content with window shopping. I ended up spending right around $60, which is the highest amount I’ve spent on clothes in a while. I’ve gotten into the habit of avoiding clothes shopping for a long time. Much of my clothes I wear at home and occasionally out and about have holes in them. But If you look past my well-used clothes due to a tight budget you will see someone who is doing anything and everything to persevere.

 

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View of Downtown Seattle from skywalk at Pacific Place Mall.

 

Thank you for reading.

Check out my other blog entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Day 11 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): How to Get Travel Discounts for IVF Treatment

Day 11 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): How to Get Travel Discounts for IVF Treatment

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

The irony of IVF medication is that it makes you look totally pregnant. It has all the same appearances of pregnancy but instead you become a human water balloon. I bloated so much in such a short span of time that it was painful sometimes. I’m already a big girl so imagine the discomfort I felt when there is extra water added to my belly, thighs, and even my face. My glasses were even fitting tighter on my head. No one seems to talk about how your face gets bloated too. When I looked at my pictures from the other day I thought the photo was distorted. My cheeks were noticeably bigger. I appear to be taking on the physical traits of a whale. I think whales have a majestic, serene quality to them, as they glide through the ocean waters and call out to each other. Instead here I am angrily flopping around in bed as I cuss at how uncomfortably big my stomach has become.  I sometimes grab my stomach in dismay and say “Oh my God” under my breath.

 

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The Bloat is Real. Way more bloated this second round of IVF.

 

I knew I was going to be bloated, like everyone in the online IVF boards were saying, but good lord this is too much. It was pretty shocking to look in the mirror and see my gut looking fully pregnant. One thing I didn’t even think to do was to measure before and after IVF meds, the difference would probably be quite mortifying.

 

 

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Even my face is bloated. I felt my glasses frames getting tighter by my ears. What…the…hell?

 

 

The IVF process tends to mold us into more resilient people. Look at the lengths we go to to create a family. Although I did whine throughout the process at times, I am also learning a lot about myself too. Some of the ways I’ve grown through this process include learning to find humor in hard times, being open to new experiences, prioritizing what is really important to me, and time-managing the s**t out of my day. When you have to give yourself five shots during a specific window of time each day you start to get into a perfectly sequenced routine.

 

My best advice to those of you who have to give yourself multiple shots in a day is to be prepared, and do your shots in a certain order at the same time. I always did mine in the same order each time so I would try to avoid mistakes, minus my one major mistake with the Omnitrope. Hey, nobody is perfect, but if you can find a way that helps you streamline the whole process it will be so much easier on you. I also kept all my medicine in my one suitcase, although some might find it more helpful to have everything spread out on their counter. I was traveling at the time and I didn’t feel comfortable having all of my expensive medicine spread out in my hotel. I always zipped up all my medicine in my bag if it didn’t need refrigerated. Also if you are given a window of time to take your medicine try to make a habit of doing it in the earliest part of that window. It’s better to be earlier in the window than try to make a mad dash back to your place to frantically give yourself multiple shots. You are more likely to make mistakes if you do not give yourself enough time to prepare.

 

I wanted to share a couple other things I’ve learned along the way, one of which I learned just today. Because this cycle is lasting much longer than anticipated I needed to extend my stay at the hotel. The girl at the front desk of the hotel knew that I had received several deliveries from a pharmacy because I had very specific instructions to call me immediately when they arrived because I needed to refrigerate the medicine. So when I went to pay for another week at the hotel, she offered me some advice I hadn’t even thought of.

 

She said to me, “You are here for medical reasons, correct?”

“Yes” I said. I had mentioned before I was having a procedure but didn’t go into details.

“That’s too bad that we didn’t know that for your first week you had booked. But we can apply the medical discount for you for this new week.”

“Really?” I said surprised. “How much is the medical discount?”

“Twenty percent, if you book through us directly.”

 

If you have to travel to do IVF ask if it’s possible to get a medical discount on your hotel and airfare. Just because you think you are getting a good deal on your hotel and airfare by booking through a website like Kayak, Priceline, or Travelocity does not mean you are getting the best deal possible. Call your hotel and airline directly and ask them if they do medical discounts and what the percentage discount is as well as the policies. Do the math. If the percentage you’d save is more doing a medical discount then go for it, if not then book with the cheaper option online. I managed to get both the hotel and airfare medical discount. I wish I had known about it before with my first round of IVF, but I’m thankful I learned about it by the time I had my second round.

 

Thank you for reading.

Check out my other blog entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Day 10 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Growing Pains

Day 10 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Growing Pains

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

Today I woke up with a lot of pain in my left leg and hip. Most of the day I wasn’t sure what that was all about but I had an epiphany moment that I will tell you about later. But first let me tell you about the fun day we had at the Seattle Japanese Garden. Although I was in some pain when we walked around I was still able to move around okay, I just walked a little slower. There were so many beautiful picturesque parts of the garden. I took boatloads of pictures. There were unique Japanese trees, small stone bridges, and a lovely pond at the center of it all filled with Koi fish.

 

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I was kind of surprised to see these fish in the pond in November. They sluggishly floated around in the water when they weren’t coming right up to people looking down on them. They seemed to be waiting for people to toss them little bits of food. It was really nice to slowly walk around the garden and really take in all the beauty and effort that went into creating the garden. I think it would be amazing to someday own a piece of property and create a nice garden for visitors to come and see. There are other gardens in Washington I am hoping to see this week as well. Maybe the next one will be the Bloedel Reserve which I read about from a visitor brochure.

 

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While Mom and I were relaxing on a bench in the garden an adorable Asian baby girl came running up to me smiling. The baby stopped right in front of me and held it’s hand up and looked at me expectantly. I realized the baby wanted a high five. Her mom said, “High five” confirming what the baby was doing and I happily gave her a high five. The baby was ecstatic and let out a joyful giggle. She waved at me then waved at Mom and took off running on to more adventures. The young couple started to chase after her when I said to them, “She is adorable.” The man said thank you then bolted off after the baby as she was aiming for the pond. They got to her in time before their little one was going to be swimming with the Koi fish. That innocent and happy little high five I shared with this baby absolutely melted my heart. I’ve thought of adopting before but this moment really got the gears turning in my head about the love and joy I could be missing out on. Maybe if these first two rounds of IVF don’t work out I will look into adoption or fostering more seriously.

 

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Now, back to what I was talking about in the beginning with the pain in my leg and hip. Most of the day I felt this moderate achy feeling all up and down my left leg and hip. I wasn’t sure why I was feeling that way. Did I sleep wrong? Did I walk too much yesterday at the mall? It had to have been the mall, right? Mom was asking what it felt like. “Growing pains,” I said.  Then the light-bulb moment finally happened. Duh! I had just accidentally overdosed on my Human Growth Hormone last night. I laughed at myself for not making the connection sooner. It was like I was reliving those growing pains I felt from when I was a pre-teen. I called my husband up to talk about our day and I told him about the realization I had. “Well my one leg might be two inches longer tomorrow, but my eggs will probably still stay the same size.” He laughed and called me “Gimpy Julie.” I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

 

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Featured Image: Photo I took of the pond in the Seattle Japanese Garden.

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