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Results from 2nd Round of IVF: All Things Considered

Results from 2nd Round of IVF: All Things Considered

As you may have noticed from reading the entries just prior to this one, it was during Thanksgiving of 2018. So I’m considering this entry a super condensed version of the last six months (November 2018 – May 2019). But first, I want to give you the results of my 2nd round of IVF:

 

8 eggs retrieved

4 eggs mature/fertilized

3 abnormal embryos (genetic issue would have resulted in miscarriage)

 

As heartbreaking as it was to hear that all three of my embryos were abnormal, I tried to think of it another way. Instead I told myself, “I avoided three miscarriages.” Miscarriages are traumatic and costly for the subsequent surgeries. I have literally lost count of how many surgeries I’ve had because some surgeries were to correct the original surgery. I did the math. The cost of the surgeries and procedures after every miscarriage from natural conception equaled the cost of about 1.5 rounds of IVF.

 

So in my particular situation, the more “affordable route” doesn’t really exist if I want a child that is biologically mine. One of the biggest reasons I chose to do IVF is because I wanted to avoid the physical and emotional pain of miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. So maybe now you can see why I would reassure myself with the comment I mentioned before, “I avoided three miscarriages.”

 

I received that sad news in December 2018, and two months later on January 2019 I lost another pregnancy from natural conception, and I needed yet again another surgery. I was working two jobs and my hours were anywhere from 50-75 hours per week. I threw myself into work to stay busy and keep my mind off my emotional pain. I desperately needed to occupy my mind with something all the time. I was also taking a college class.

 

In the beginning of 2019 my Mom found out she had cancer again. My husband and I decided to wait on doing our Frozen Embryo Transfer from our first round of IVF so I could help my Mom. In March three people I knew died in a single week. I began to deeply contemplate what was important in life and began considering cutting back at work. The thing that stopped me from making changes was the high cost of my medical bills I still owed from the last IVF round and the surgeries from my past miscarriages. Our original plans were to do the Frozen Embryo Transfer in April 2019, but Kurtis and I decided to put the brakes on our plans so I could focus on helping Mom.

 

In April I had a migraine almost every 2-3 days, my stress level was increasing to the point where it was unbearable, yet I pushed on. I kept helping Mom, kept working both jobs, and kept going to school. My body was screaming at me to slow down. Around 4am on Easter morning I had to leave in the middle of my shift at my overnight job, because I was having one of the worst migraines of my life. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain in my life, I would say I was at a solid 9. I crawled into bed and told Kurtis, “I feel like I’m dying” and that’s how I truly felt. I didn’t want to go to the hospital and have yet another bill, so I hoped that sleep would help me.

 

Later my husband asked if I wanted to go to Easter brunch but I just couldn’t do it. Shortly after he left I started to really take stock of my situation. My pain was still a 9 out of 10, the sleep didn’t help, and I remembered my Grandma had strokes at a young age. I confirmed with my Mom later that my Grandma started having strokes in her 30s, and I’m 32.

 

And then I had a flashback to the day I noticed the enormous bulk-sized Excedrin bottle that sat on the desk of my high school Spanish teacher. I remember thinking, “she must have really bad migraines like I do too.” Two days after I saw that bottle on her desk we had a substitute teacher explaining to us that our teacher had a stroke and she would likely never be able to teach again. I heard that her stroke so strongly affected her that she was unable to recognize her students. Several months later I saw her in a store parking lot with a cane in one hand and a man stabilizing her other side as he helped her into the passenger side of the car.

 

I’m on blood pressure medicine that also acts as a preventative medicine for my migraines. At this point I was very concerned my blood pressure was high and maybe I was on the brink of having a stroke. A few years back I was on a birth control pill that elevated my blood pressure so much so that I was told by my doctor, “You are at stroke levels.”

 

So back to Easter 2019, my brain feels like it’s going to explode and I decide I need to go to the hospital. I took an Uber and left a voicemail for Kurtis that I was on the way to the hospital. They had put me on a cocktail of four different medications by IV line. I was very slowly beginning to feel better. I had a washcloth over my eyes almost the entire time I laid there in the hospital. Kurtis had forgot his phone in his car during brunch so he came right to the hospital when he heard my voicemail. I lied there wondering if this summer was going to be like the one I had about ten years ago where every single day that entire summer I had a migraine.

 

My co-worker was one of the three people I knew that died in a single week. He was only six years older than me and had a heart attack. Although I don’t know the circumstances that lead to his death I thought about him a lot over the month leading up to this terrible migraine I was having now. I was in a lot of pain and I also had a lot of fear. The doctor was asking me questions about my stress level, the type of work I do, and what is going on in my life that might be triggering these migraines.  The doctor said my blood pressure was very high. I told her I was on blood pressure medicine and she suggested I should double my dose, otherwise I will most likely continue to feel awful. On top of all of that I’ve been having stomach issues and grew concerned I was developing an ulcer. It has been a real domino effect that all came crashing down at once.

 

On that hospital bed I made the decision to make some major changes in my life. I quit one of my two jobs, and I recently reduced my hours at my main job. I also finished my class, somehow amazingly not dropping out this semester. I’m exercising more. I began to make changes with how I am eating (a work in progress). I saw my regular doctor, got a referral for massages for my neck pain (related to tension headaches), and had my first appointment with a nutritionist where I asked a lot of questions about the types of foods to eat and avoid to help with my blood pressure. I’m starting to feel better but I still have some headaches and had a couple migraines, but I’ve still been able to function okay. I’m on double to dose of blood pressure medicine, another to prevent migraines, and another to deal with a migraine the moment I start to get symptoms. I’m also happy to report Mom is now cancer free.

 

All things considered these past six months, I’ve dealt with a crazy amount of stress that I didn’t realize until my body decided to throw the towel in. I honestly feel that I was so focused on staying busy after the failed IVF and the miscarriage right after, that I had ignored my body’s signals that I was headed for trouble. My best way of coping (staying busy) turned out to make things way worse.

 

So here I am now, facing everything that went down and finding other ways to cope. I’ve been listening to music and binging on Netflix. The two weeks I was off work after my massive migraine I binge-watched the entire series of Nurse Jackie, an awesome show by the way. I couldn’t remember the last time I truly sat down and watched several shows in a row. Normally binge-watching is considered unhealthy, but in my case it was exactly what I needed to chill out.

 

How does all of that relate to my infertility journey? Imagine if I did the Frozen Embryo Transfer during all of that stress, there’s no way it would have been healthy for our little embryo. So our one and only embryo waits on ice for a while longer until I can get feeling better. I’m thinking in a few months I’ll head down to finally do the Frozen Embryo Transfer.

 

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you. If you skimmed it, I don’t blame you. So there you have it dear reader, you are all caught up on the whirlwind that is my life.

 

Thank you for reading.

Catch up on past entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Day 20 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Egg Retrieval Day

Day 20 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Egg Retrieval Day

(Entry written prior to posted date)

 

Today was the big day! I had my egg retrieval surgery and I am feeling pretty optimistic. I felt more calm this time second time around because I knew what to expect. The surgery takes about 30 minutes normally. After the surgery they let me know they were able to retrieve eight eggs, which is absolutely amazing considering my Low Ovarian Reserve/Low AMH levels. Earlier this week it was looking pretty bleak, with only one to two eggs that were mature, but then more little eggies started to join the party. In fact, they were able to retrieve three more eggs than they did the first time.

 

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Eight eggs retrieved!

 

So although they know the number of eggs retrieved today, they won’t know for sure until later how many of those eight eggs were actually mature enough to fertilize. They told me they would give me a call tomorrow with an update. I am very excited and pleased with how many they retrieved. They told me that 10 eggs are normal for someone my age (32 years old), so I am stoked that I am considered almost “normal.” Right now I am just resting in the hotel room while the anesthesia wears off. I’m hoping and praying for a miracle.

 

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Mom & I just before the surgery.

 

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1 Day Before Retrieval (Round 2 of IVF): Positive Pregnancy Test

1 Day Before Retrieval (Round 2 of IVF): Positive Pregnancy Test

(Entry written prior to posted date)

 

Ah yes, the positive pregnancy test, of course this only means that the HCG trigger shot worked last night. If you are unfamiliar with the IVF process the trigger shot increases your body’s HCG levels, which is what normally indicates a positive pregnancy test. There are a lot of ironic things that happen during a round of IVF which can be interpreted as a cruel joke, a positive pregnancy test being one of them. There’s that part of me that wants to cry when I see the two solid lines on this test, because it’s a reminder of all I’ve been through and lost, but thankfully I’ve developed thicker skin that makes all of this doable. Out of all the uncontrollable events infertility causes, the one and only thing we can control is how we respond to it.

 

Sometimes developing thicker skin means moving forward and not dwelling too much on the past, which is what I am trying to do. So I tossed the test into the garbage and moved on with my day, content with the fact that the test shows I am ready for my egg retrieval surgery tomorrow. I was told that if it was negative that I would need to call them right away, but I’m on the right track so now I can finally enjoy a shot-free day for once. Yahoo! This human pin cushion finally gets a break.

 

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Gnarly bruising from all my shots.

 

I felt a little dizzy this morning but it went away fairly quickly. I’m happy to report I’m not dealing with slew of symptoms. Today we celebrated Thanksgiving with a Whole Foods meal. The Whole Foods is right around the corner from our hotel and they had all the fixings for a real Thanksgiving meal. All we had to do was throw it in the microwave. Mom and I had turkey, chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, roasted zucchini slices, and pumpkin pie. I wasn’t feeling as bloated today so I didn’t feel as gross eating a normal plate of Thanksgiving food. I wish I could have celebrated Thanksgiving with Kurtis but my body decided it wanted to take it’s sweet time, delaying my return home due to slow growing follicles. But I am thankful that Mom is here for me.

 

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All my used IVF meds jam-packed in my suitcase. 

 

After we ate our surprisingly yummy meal we watched the Shark Tank marathon on TV. It seems like this show has been on constantly since I’ve been down in Seattle. I haven’t had cable in about a decade, so maybe this is a normal thing these days. Anyway, I do like watching Shark Tank, it’s really inspiring to see creative and bold people putting their heart and soul on the line for their dream. It’s something I feel I can relate to on a lot of levels. I believe the American Dream means different things to different people. What is my American Dream? To create a strong family that helps make the world better than it was before.

 

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A reminder for my sleepy self not to drink after midnight for surgery in the morning.

 

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Day 19 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Trigger Shot Time

Day 19 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Trigger Shot Time

(Entry written prior to posted date)

My doctor recommended I should wait another day due to some of my eggs being just under the size they want. I think they said 3 or 4 were just under the size and they think and one more day could make the difference between mature eggs and not mature eggs. I’m not gaining any more weight which I am really happy about. I’m also not feeling as bloated either, it’s about damn time. I’ve been peeing a lot, like a lot a lot. My first IVF round I started peeing a lot after the surgery and not before. So I am kind of worried about this being a sign that my body might be losing my eggs before the surgery, but I’m not bleeding at all, so I don’t know.

 

I don’t have headaches anymore, I’d say they stopped a few days ago. I’m not sure which injection was causing the headaches. I hear Lupron tends to do that. It seems like when I was getting the most headaches it was first thing in the morning and then it would dissipate in the afternoon.

 

I got the call back this afternoon from my clinic and they said I am good to go ahead and trigger tonight! It’s been a really long cycle for me so I am so ready to get this done and head back home. I’ve been really missing my husband and my puppy. My husband doesn’t get as much time off from work as I do and he had already used up his time for the year. But I am really happy my Mom has been here for support. I am so ready to do this trigger shot and get this egg retrieval done and over with.

 

Later that day…

 

I just did my trigger shot. I was really confused this time about how to do it. Last time it was a simple 10,000 IU shot of Pregnyl. But this time not only was I on a different HCG shot (Novarel) but it came in two seperate 5,000 vials instead of just one 10,000 vial. There were several things confusing about this. First, the pack came with two shots. So I thought maybe I needed to inject myself twice since there were two vials and two shots. I looked on the packet they gave me and it was worded really weird. Plus the video instructions did not cover how to do it if you have two  separate vials of powder medicine. I even tried looking on YouTube to see if there were instructions with two separate vials, but I could not find anything and time was running out.

 

Luckily, I remembered from my first retrieval they had mentioned the one packet of instructions they initially gave me needed to be updated. I also remembered they sent me an email about my updated instructions (different from the first set) for the trigger shot. I rechecked my email and there was an attachment that I hadn’t read yet. That attachment had instructions specific to my medicine as well as my dose. So had I not double checked all my paperwork I would have needlessly called their answering service. The moral of the story is even when you think you know what you are doing with your trigger shot try planning ahead and do a practice run of what you are actually doing. I am a visual person so it would have been better to have pulled everything out of the box to see what I was working with. It turns out I needed to mix both of the powder vials with the liquid, instead of doing two separate injections. I gave myself plenty of time to mix the medicine this time, compared to last time. That proved to be a good idea, because the mixing of the two vials took a while. The powder took a long time to dissolve. So for me at least, it worked out perfectly to start getting everything ready 20 minutes before the exact time I had to inject. After the powder had finally dissolved it turned out I only had two minutes to spare. Plus I think the Novarel powder took longer to dissolve compared to the Pregnyl (from my first IVF cycle). Novarel seemed to be a lot more chunky. Remember not to shake the vial, but to instead gently rotate it until it dissolves.

 

The shot wasn’t that painful, maybe a 3 out of 10, and that’s coming from someone who has a low pain tolerance. I had mom give me the injection since it’s in an awkward spot I couldn’t see, and I wanted to make sure it got in there correctly. To me it feels just like a progesterone shot, so it wasn’t that bad. It just looks intimidating with how long the needle is. We did the shot exactly at 9pm, the time they told us to. So it turned out well. I felt a lot of relief knowing I was all done for this round and the only thing I need to do now is to show up for the surgery.

 

shots

 

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Image Credit: https://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/1-year-ttcttc-with-infertility-part-26/

 

Day 18 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Nightmares on IVF Meds

Day 18 (Round 2 of IVF Stims): Nightmares on IVF Meds

(Entry written prior to posted date)

Wolves and orcas and bears, oh my! The nightmares abound when on IVF meds, or maybe it’s just me. I’ve heard other women also tend to have an increase in dreams that are absolutely terrifying when on IVF meds. My go-to nightmares tend to feature either a ravenous bear or a moose that wants to stomp the sh** out of me. I live in Alaska, so go figure. But tonight a few new killers decided to make an appearance, a pack of wolves stalked me through my home, and later I was out in open water being circled by an angry killer whale family. Needless to say I’ve been waking up shaking in a cold sweat more often lately. I’m prone to anxiety as it is, but add in the process of doing IVF and it just compounds all these crazy dreams. I’m hoping they will stop after I’m done with this egg retrieval.

 

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My eggs’ expression after being on IVF meds for too long. I found this silly contraption that cooks eggs at a shop in Pike’s Place Market.

 

I found out today that I have four mature eggs! That is two more than just the other day, for a girl with really low ovarian reserve I am pretty dang happy about that. There are also two more bitty eggs that are not quite big enough yet. I’m waiting for a call back on my blood results to see if I am going to be triggering soon.

 

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Shrimp sandwich from Pike Place Chowder.

 

Today I forgot to take my blood pressure medicine, which I think is why I’m feeling a little shaky. The doctor said my blood pressure looks good and is just a little high. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are currently on and whether they may affect your IVF process and pregnancy. I got on a blood pressure medicine that my doctor said is safe for pregnancy and has the added bonus of helping with my chronic headache issue.

 

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So I lost a three pounds in two days, which I’m pretty sure is just water weight. I’ve gained a total of 10 pounds this cycle, but now have dropped down to seven pounds. My last cycle I gained six pounds. Just expect your weight to fluctuate rapidly when you do IVF and you won’t be surprised. Comfy pants are your friend.

 

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If I were to summarize what IVF is like for someone who hasn’t experienced it, I’d say it’s equivalent to each and every planet aligning just perfectly. On good days I’ll beam with happiness and talk about the magical synchronicity of it all. On the not so good days, I talk about it in terms of it being one of the biggest gambles of my life, with odds favoring the house. Whatever cheesy metaphor you choose for the day, just know that a lot of this all boils down to your perception. I’m thankful I even get the opportunity to do this at all, let alone twice. Practicing gratitude helps drown out all the doubt. We all have a Debby Downer that can live in the back of our minds. Even if your doubt is rooted in “reality” and statistics, sometimes you just need to slap some duct tape across that Debbie Downer’s mouth. My way of doing that, at least for today, is to get out and explore the city.

 

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Mom & I enjoying Seattle.

 

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