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Day 12 (Round 1 of IVF): Egg Retrieval Day

Day 12 (Round 1 of IVF): Egg Retrieval Day

(Entry written prior to posted date).

Today was the big day, my first egg retrieval surgery. They retrieved five eggs, which is right about what they were expecting based on my recent ultrasounds I’ve had leading up to today. I felt like I waited so long to have my surgery due to the cyst on my ovary delaying everything for about three weeks.

 

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Originally they were expecting 10 eggs to be retrieved based on my age. But now I’m thinking they didn’t factor in my AMH level into this. So when they told me they got five eggs I was content with that. I was happy that I was finally on the path of what will hopefully lead me to a baby. I will be hearing back tomorrow about the number of eggs that were successfully fertilized.

 

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Mom with me for support right before surgery.

 

For now I am just resting in the hotel, watching reruns of Jersey Shore. I know, I know. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine, what can I say. Weirdly, I get a sense of comfort when I watch the screaming sessions and crying meltdowns. It somehow reminds me of home, not because we scream at each other and I cry, but because I loved watching this show back home. Kurtis is calm as a cucumber, we rarely ever have a disagreement. Not to mention the anesthesia is still swimming inside my brain, adding a nice pillowy feeling in my ears when the self-proclaimed Guidos on TV puff up and scream at each other. Ahh, what a lovely way to relax.

 

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Drugged up photo op. Just woke up.

 

My pain level is about a 2 out of 10 with the pain medicine, and when the medicine wears off it’s about a 3 out of 10. So the pain isn’t really as bad as I imagined. If I were to categorize the pain in different way it would be in between the pain of a hysteroscopy (not bad) and a D&C (moderately painful). After my many surgeries due to complications from my multiple miscarriages, I’ve learned that I tend to have a weak stomach for anesthesia so I always request anti-nausea medicine during the surgery. It seems to really help. It’s kind of sad that I’ve developed a sense of routineness around all these surgeries, but I suppose it’s better than getting stressed out.

 

I’m trying to stay hopeful through this process, despite the odds being stacked against me. Here are some of the things I’ve been telling myself to try to stay positive:

  • I’m glad they decided to double my dose of Follistim. Maybe I wouldn’t even have these 5 eggs had they not done that.
  • If it fails at least they will have a much better gauge on how to adjust my medication for next time.
  • I’m very happy I paid for two rounds up front to save money, especially considering my low AMH level. It was a good decision.
  • I have an amazing support network of many people rooting for us.
  • Doing IVF lowers my risk of a miscarriage and the complications that come with it. Each time I had a loss I needed surgeries to correct the scar tissue buildup.
  • I am so happy I received an IVF grant that helped me tremendously to be able to afford IVF.

Staying positive and remembering those thoughts in the hardest of times can help ease the pain of another letdown. I am far from a Pollyanna, especially in regards to my fertility issues. But I believe that you can always find the silver lining if you look hard enough.

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Day 11 (Round 1 of IVF): Surgery Tomorrow & Resiliency

Day 11 (Round 1 of IVF): Surgery Tomorrow & Resiliency

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

So I took my HGC trigger shot (Pregnyl) last night and this morning I took my pregnancy test. The HCG trigger shot essentially makes your body think it’s pregnant to help with the egg retrieval process. My body had a good reaction to the shot, so I am officially having my egg retrieval surgery tomorrow. I am really excited to finally be at this point, and trying to stay hopeful.

 

I’m not sure which of the four shots I’m on that are causing my extreme thirst. I am like a fish, I feel I cannot bear it unless I’m drinking water at least several times every half hour it seems. I’ve been drinking water not only to quench my insatiable thirst but to also help with the growth of my eggs. I read that staying hydrated can help with the development of eggs. I have one egg that is not quite of mature size, and they said that maybe by the time of the surgery it will grow big enough. A weird fact they told me is that eggs can even grow outside of the body before ICSI. I am always blown away by the amazing science behind fertility treatment.

 

Today we decided to stay in and rest. Mom has a really bad migraine. I have a ton of studying and a few assignments I have to do today anyway. While mom rested most of the day I was immersed in studying fairy tales for my English literature class. And if you haven’t heard, the original Little Red Riding Hood stories (pre-Brothers Grimm) are insanely demented. Who knew these original stories were not meant for children at all. Very interesting to see the many adaptations over time.  I also read the various adaptations of Bluebeard, also a horrifyingly messed up story. But as with any memorable story there has to be a good amount of conflict. I’m majoring in English, so I love cozying up to read different stories, especially the ones that are a mindf***. Easy breezy beach reads bore me.

 

I’ve found that going back to school has been a great decision for me during my fertility struggles. I can’t control the outcome of my fertility issues, but at least I have some sense of control in my life by going to school. Some people might think taking on school when doing IVF treatment is too much for them emotionally. For me, I find it to be a really good distraction from my overthinking anything and everything related to becoming a mother. At this point I can’t control when, if, or how I’ll become a mother, but the one thing I can control is where my thoughts go. If I can push my thoughts towards learning something new and focusing intensely on my school work I find it to be really satisfying. I feel like I am actually accomplishing something and working to towards a tangible goal.

 

I’m only taking one class at the moment. It’s the second semester of my World Literature class. I knew there was going to be a s*** ton of reading, just like in the first semester. So I decided to only take one class for two reasons; 1) The amount of reading would probably be on par with two classes, 2) I’m doing IVF treatment, you think I actually have any more money to do more than one class? It’s just the right amount to balance everything between work, school, and my other job…infertility treatment. If you’ve gone through IVF treatment then you know the large amount of time it takes for the many appointments.

 

I am thinking I might also look into pursuing other hobbies as well. I want to start swimming again. Or maybe I can learn to do something artistic or crafty. All work and no play makes Julie a dull girl. Now I’m imagining my psycho self frozen outside in the snow like Jack Nicholson in the end of The Shining. Yeah I don’t want to end up like that. I need some more fun in my life. With all this tension and overthinking around if I’ll become a mother I’m trying to seek out ways to escape. I’ve always had a tendency to be an epic couch potato, watching lots of movies as a means of distraction. But instead of zoning out, I’d like to do something that makes me feel alive, and not something that simply numbs my emotions. I’ll need to meditate more on this. I will say this, I have another website in the prewriting phase. I’m still gauging the scope of it. I’ll let you in on a little secret and give you a hint. It will be about doing the things in life that can be incredibly challenging. How’s that for a vague hint?

 

Tomorrow is the big day for my first egg retrieval. I can now feel cramps coming on at 4:30pm. I’m hoping these moderate cramps are an indication of my body doing the right thing. It’s not that painful, just a little more than my regular period cramps. I think the right ovary was the one they said had more eggs. I will of course be disappointed if none of this works, but what I will not be disappointed over is that I at least tried. I must push past the emotional pain of this whole process. I will not allow myself to waste time worrying. If you are like me and have low AMH/ovarian reserve you know exactly what I mean. Ladies, if you have the same diagnosis of me my best advice I can give you is to not waste time, buck up, do your research, and get your treatment plan into action.

 

My first pregnancy loss I spent two weeks in bed depressed. After I was able to pick myself up from that time in my life I told myself, “I’m never going to wallow in my pain like that again. It’s just too painful.” I had three pregnancy losses after that and I was able to cope better because I remembered that promise I made to myself. Any type of loss we experience in our life can debilitate us if we let it. Even if I am unable to have a baby at the end of all of this, I’m hoping I can at least say I’ve gained the ability to be more resilient.

 

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Day 10 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Trigger Shot Day!

Day 10 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Trigger Shot Day!

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

I woke up today with a migraine and I’m almost positive it’s because of the shots. I double checked with my doctor’s office and they said I am fine to take a Tylenol. Basically I’m trying to follow all the nutritional and medical advice as if I were already pregnant, which is essentially the best recommendations they have for women going through IVF. In general, Tylenol is okay during pregnancy (but always check with your doctor about your specific treatment plan). So the Tylenol actually did help me. I only had a couple migraines during the IVF injections which is not too bad for me considering my migraine history, I was expecting more.

 

So with today’s ultrasound still only showing four mature eggs I chose to be content with this. I understand that in comparison to most other women, from what I’ve seen in the online forums, my numbers are pretty low. But at the same time I’ve been diagnosed with very low AMH levels, so it wasn’t really that surprising to me for them to see only four. Yes it would have been nice to waddle into the clinic, so full to the brim with little eggs ripe for the picking, as I’ve heard other women talk about their massive amounts of bloating and massive amounts of eggs retrieved. But I came into this realistic. I knew fully well that the majority of women do not have a successful first round of IVF. In a way I mentally prepared myself for another let down. For me, it’s much healthier for me to have the statistics in front of me so I know what I’m dealing with, rather than be devastated with the false belief of a guarantee. The one thing I told myself was if this fails, at least they have a good gauge of what they need to do to alter my medications for better results next time. The first time is kind of a crapshoot really, they don’t know how your body will react until they try out some medicine on you first. That’s the really unscientific way of looking at it, but it kind of helps me think of it that way in terms of being hopeful that they know what to do better next time.

 

We went to a hipster pizza place today, think hipster coffee shop but replace the coffee with pizza. The music, the decorations, the ingredients, whole place was just the right amount of hipster, not too much. On the walls hung beautiful and striking art. One piece of art really stuck out to me and I kept looking at it as we ate our pizza. Then our conversation turned to the other piece above it and then the other ones further behind me. You could tell it was the same artist but each picture was unique. The emotion behind each one was intense and beautiful. The one I absolutely loved was of a woman holding her child to her chest, surrounded by nothing but ocean waves, standing on a single pile of rocks. The rocks were the mother’s foundation to which she was able to stay above the water to hold her baby. I loved it, and I don’t even have kids yet. If this IVF process works I’d love to be able to order that beautiful piece of art and hang it in our house. I’d like to tell my child of the struggles I went through and to have them and how they were so loved, even before they were born. In my mind it would be the best souvenir story ever.

 

The pizza was one of the few indulgences while doing IVF. I will say I’ve never eaten salad as much in my entire life as I have right before and during IVF. Salad pretty much daily, sometimes even a couple times in a day. I try to be super healthy but I’m not perfect. I had one can of Coke during IVF, overall I did pretty darn good reducing my caffine to just that, especially considering I like to have caffeine almost daily when I am not TTC.

 

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Beautiful sunset with sailboat, on our ferry ride headed back to Seattle.

 

So Mom and I went on a really nice ferry ride today at my husband’s suggestion. When he was here before me to do his “thing” he also took a ferry ride to Bainbridge to check out the casino. He said the ferry ride was his favorite thing he did while he was in Seattle for his brief stay. Unfortunately he cannot take anymore time off and with my retrieval it had to be postponed due to my little cyst. So by the time my body was ready for IVF, all of his time off (2 weeks) was used up. But it was a great suggestion he had for us, we took the ferry to Bremerton instead. It was peaceful and relaxing when the set of young twin boys weren’t screaming and tearing past us. Thankfully the parents had enough sense to walk the boys to different parts of the boat to help them burn up their energy. So it was peaceful about 75% of the time. We came back right at sunset and had a beautiful fiery red sunset, which I later found out was an extra vibrant red hue due to wildfires in the distance. My pictures don’t do it justice for how blood red it really was. Just as we were coming back they lit up the big ferris wheel. It was very pretty to come back to the city during that time.

 

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Ferry funsies.

 

We did not get to do anything in Bremerton, but for a very good reason. We got right back on the boat back to Seattle because I had a very important appointment to keep. My trigger shot! Oh yeah! Tonight is the night. After weeks and weeks of postponing my IVF due to the cyst I finally made it to this point. The fertility clinic took a marker and circled the target just at my belt line on my upper butt. I asked if Mom if she could do the honors because it’s just a weird angle to do it myself and I wanted to make absolutely sure that the shot got into the right spot. I did a video recording of the trigger shot, as well as instructions for the trigger shot, Menopur, and Follistim injections. I will be editing these here soon and will post them for everyone to see what it’s really like to give yourself daily shots for a few weeks. Honestly, it’s not that bad. The length of the trigger shot needle looks intimidating but the fact that it’s so thin a needle made it to where it really wasn’t that bad. Not near as bad as you might imagine. So in exactly 36 hours from the trigger shot I have my egg retrieval surgery. I’m hoping that the four eggs they plan to retrieve are of good enough quality. First thing tomorrow morning I have to take a pregnancy test to see if it is positive. This will tell me if the HCG trigger shot worked or not, hopefully it will so I don’t have to re-do all of this. I just hope I don’t have anymore delays.

 

 

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Day 8 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): First Day at Seattle Clinic

Day 8 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): First Day at Seattle Clinic

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

The plan for the day was that as soon as my flight landed we were to immediately go to my fertility clinic for my blood test and ultrasound. Normally they do this first thing in the morning, but I was getting there several hours past their normal cutoff time, but they said it would be okay in my case. My mom came with me for the trip because my husband cannot take anymore time off work. So here we were, my mom and I, dragging all our luggage into the clinic. I think we both felt quite silly, everyone was looking at us. It didn’t help matters that I had to keep digging into my bag to check all of my medication levels because I just remembered they needed a full inventory of what remains. I didn’t want to guess with those numbers because if I was off I could end up paying a lot more money. I felt kind of silly rummaging through my suitcase, feeling like everyone in the waiting room was looking at me.

 

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Upside-down and lid popped off. My folic acid pills scattered everywhere inside my suitcase.

 

I felt super out of place and frazzled. I didn’t sleep the night before or on the plane. But I told myself something that made me feel better about the whole situation, “I am exactly where I need to be and I am not out of place at all. This is the exact time for me to be here and the exact place I need to be.” This really reassured me. S***, with the amount of money I paid to the clinic I most definitely deserve to be there! Mom was feeling a little out of place there too. I told her that I was happy she was with me and not to worry about what anyone was thinking. I guarantee they were more worried about their egg count or their husband’s sperm motility and morphology. Because us women who deal with infertility have a real knack for being a little self-obsessed about the status of our womb more than anything. Am I right? I think the only thing they could have thought looking at us is possibly jealousy because my stomach looked so bloated from the medication that I already looked pregnant. I’m a big girl as it is, throw fertility medication on top of that and I looked like the Ghostbusters’ Marshmallow Man, all blimped out. I was kind of self-conscious about making other people sad, who may have thought I was pregnant when I was just a bloated fatty. Part of me wanted to say, “Don’t be sad, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat.” I was imagining the conversations I would have with other patients in the waiting room who would mistakenly think I was pregnant, and how I would explain my gut to people.

 

“Let me guess, 7 months?” a thin girl would ask me in the waiting room.

“Oh, I wish! Thank you. It looks like it though huh? I’m super bloated.” I would say.

“Oh I’m sorry…”

“Oh don’t be sorry. It’s these damn fertility drugs. You’re tiny now, just you wait!”

“Really?” her eyes would bug out.

“Oh yeah, I was tiny just like you before I started this.” I’d laugh, knowing I was totally lying and making her believe she was going to gain 50 pounds in two weeks.

 

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My clinic, Seattle Reproductive Medicine (SRM).

 

Nope, I’m just a plus-sized girl who only gained six pounds in a short amount of time, which is pretty average from what I hear. I’ve heard that a 10-pound weight gain is  average. So they called me back and I left Mom out in the waiting room to guard our pile of luggage, since I knew it was a routine blood draw and ultrasound. The doctor saw on the ultrasound I have four mature eggs that would be good for fertilization. We are doing ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) so hopefully that will increase our odds of success. I’m kind of disappointed I don’t have more eggs, or at least closer to the average of 10 eggs they were expecting. But then again I am diagnosed with a very low AMH level, so I suppose it’s better than nothing. I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve learned that staying positive and being optimistic are different things. You can stay positive despite the bleak outlook. It’s more of a decision you make, whereas I tend to view optimism to be aligned with good outcomes. My odds are very slim of this working, but I’d at least like the chance to look back and say that I tried all I could.

 

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Day 7 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Leaving on a Jet Plane

Day 7 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Leaving on a Jet Plane

Written prior to posted date.

 

So I have a ticket for the 6am flight out to Seattle. Today is the big day! I’m not sure whether I’ll sleep or not. I’ve been really busy preparing to for my trip. Non-stop on my feet for most of the day. I’ve been cleaning the house, packing my bags, printing the documents I need, while taking out the puppy every time he whines. I finally sat down to relax just now.

 

“One of the women in the IVF forums I’m on suggested I should take the time to document this process so I can show it to my kid someday. I think that made me even more committed to this process.”

 

I might take a brief hiatus from writing for the week and do catch-up entries later, that way I can really focus on being in the moment. Plus I start school tomorrow, an online class, so between that and IVF appointments daily I may not have a lot of time to write. I think I will take down quick notes for the day and then elaborate on them when I get some spare time in the day. I’m enjoying documenting this process. One of the women in the IVF forums I’m on suggested I should take the time to document this process so I can show it to my kid someday. I think that made me even more committed to this process. For now I’m using this blog to help other women and vice versa, but it would be really amazing to sit down and show my children what the process was actually like for me.

 

I didn’t really sleep well last night. Kurtis left early to go fishing, so of course I couldn’t go back to sleep when he left at 4am. I tried really hard to stay awake but I needed a nap. I took another long nap today, three hours. I felt good afterwards but I probably could have slept even more. I packed all my fat clothes, because I am hella bloated. I’m hoping that once they take out my eggs for the retrieval I’ll deflate like a balloon. But that’s probably not what happens. One can dream. I have literally an entire carry-on bag full of medicine. I’m worried if I don’t bring all of it that when I show up they may extend my dates and say, “You brought it all right?”

 

“If I can get through TSA without having a hormonal cry session that would be nice.”

 

What is taking up most of the space in my carry-on is the bubble packaging to cushion the medicine. I have four different shots, including one that needs refrigerated. I’m kind of hoping I don’t deal with an idiot at TSA for two reasons; 1) Not being educated about fertility medicine and seriously questioning my bag of medicine, 2) Being called to the side for heavy duty hand inspection over my sore stomach from injections and or over my vag area where I am having little jabs of pain. Please just let me through easily. If I can get through TSA without having a hormonal cry session that would be nice.

 

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