Taking a Break From Fertility Treatments

As much as I wanted to dive right into fertility treatments after my recent FET did not work, it just isn’t realistic for us. We are physically, emotionally, and financially tapped out. So we are taking this time to heal, recenter, and reevaluate. I want to use this time wisely. I’d like to try treatments again in the future, as well as possibly fostering or adopting. But right now we really need to take a break. 

 

Catch Up on Previous 5 Posts (most recent first)

Frozen Embryo Transfer Pregnancy Test Result

The Two Week Wait

Embryo Transfer Day

FET Prep Week 24: Good to Go! | Starting PIO Shots | Ways to Thicken Uterine Lining for Embryo Transfer

FET Prep Week 23: Transfer Date Postponed Due to Thin Lining

Check out the Archives page to see all posts.

 

Have you taken a break from trying to have a baby? What advice would you give to someone considering taking a break? What helped you the most during that time? Please comment below.

 

 

Sometimes you just hit a wall. You’ve exhausted every option available to you, and you have to rethink how you are doing things. In my last post I talked about how our recent frozen embryo transfer did not work. The embryo did not implant, so technically I did not become pregnant. It was very sad for both of us. Over time I’ve become accustomed to plans not working and loss. I’ve found that it stings less and less over time, but the disappointment is still there. After seeing how this was affecting my husband, I realized the best thing for both of us is to take a break.

Initially he asked for a month-long break from treatments, certainly reasonable and doable. Well it’s been one month since my embryo transfer, and I think we need a longer break. The decision to wait longer is mostly a financial one. We just don’t have the money for treatments or any family building right now. We’ve put all our eggs in one basket with this fertility treatment (pun intended). But I realized I also put us on the back-burner. I wanted to share a list of things we sacrificed in order to pursue treatments. 

 

Things we put on pause for fertility treatment:

  • Getting a house (living in a neighborhood that isn’t always safe)
  • Finishing college degree (I have about 1.5 years left on second degree)
  • Buying a car 
  • Rarely buying clothes (my home attire consists of an obscene amount of holey clothes)
  • Saying “no” to vacations because “I might be pregnant by then” or “I’m pregnant and don’t want to risk another miscarriage by traveling” and of course “I can’t go on vacation, I don’t have the money.”
  • Weight loss goals out the window when doing fertility treatments. Fertility treatment = Bloats McGoats

 

I could go on and on about how planning and saving up for treatment impacts literally every facet of my life. If you’ve been on treatments, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I think that building a family, no matter how you do it (treatments, foster-to-adopt, adopt, etc.) can take so much out of us if we let it. 

But what if we flip that idea on its head? What if instead of believing we are losing something or missing out on something, we could instead view it as something we are gaining? I’ve experienced a lot of loss through miscarriages and IVF rounds that did not work. If you were to tell me right after a miscarriage that I am ‘gaining something’ I would not have been very happy with you. But if I pull back and look at the big picture of what I’ve learned over these years, I truly have learned a lot.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is building resilience. I’ve learned and accepted the grieving process after each loss. With my first miscarriage that happened years ago, I laid in bed for two weeks straight. Other than using the restroom and occasionally getting food, I was tethered to that bed. I listened to a lot of music that spoke to my grief. I cried more than I have ever cried in my life. I cried so much that I physically ran out of tears and could not cry anymore, which I did not even know that was possible. It was shocking, devastating, and heartbreaking. 

But when I had more miscarriages, the emotional pain lessened over time. You become used to the possibility that it might not work. You learn to become realistic. I still feel sad when it doesn’t work out, but nowhere near what it was like with my first loss. That first loss was debilitating. 

I think a realistic approach to treatments is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I don’t believe in the whole “don’t get your hopes up” idea. If you are feeling hopeful, despite the odds, let yourself fully feel it. You can be simultaneously hopeful and planning ahead if things don’t work out. In fact, that is how I’ve gotten through all these years of trying. I allowed myself to feel happy and hopeful when things were looking good and I also mentally prepared myself for the possibility that things wouldn’t work out. 

I had a plan in place to prepare for a loss or round of treatment that didn’t work. I asked myself, “What are some healthy coping skills I can do to build myself back up if I do lose this baby (or if my treatment doesn’t work)?” I thought back to other times in my life when things were difficult and what helped me then. I wrote down my plan so that it was tangible and I could refer back to it. I would talk about my plan for healthy coping with my husband. My plan became my safety net as well as what helped get me back on my feet. Over time and with practice my safety net became stronger and I got back on my feet a little quicker each time. I highly recommend creating a go-to healthy coping skills list for yourself. No matter what loss you experience in life, this can really help you build resilience. 

I wanted to share a book I started reading recently called Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. It’s all about loss, grief, and building resilience. I think it is really well written and the lessons learned can also be applied to the grieving process of failed fertility treatments, miscarriages, stillbirth, infant loss, etc. If you are experiencing a loss related to family building, I highly recommend seeking out books not just on that subject, but on the grieving process in general. There’s a limited number of books that talk about the grieving process during miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. So I’m thankful that I’ve decided to expand out my resources beyond the scope of miscarriage grief, because learning about other types of grief opened up so many resources for me. I’m finding that learning about grief on a broader scale has opened my eyes to many other voices and lessons on how to build resilience. Hearing peoples’ stories about grief from losing a spouse, an older child, or being diagnosed with cancer has helped me to learn what they did to stay strong and become resilient in time. 

So, circling back to my original thoughts, this break from my fertility treatment is all about reconnecting to who I am as an individual and who we are as a couple. I plan on doing a post in the future, summarizing my break from fertility treatment. That future post will probably be related to more practical ways to navigate your break from treatment. For now, I will be sharing tid-bits along the way of things I’ve learned.

What have I been up to lately now that I am taking a break from treatment? Recently I went on a camping trip with my husband. It was an amazing trip. We didn’t go anywhere new, we’ve been camping there a handful of times. But this time I was able to take my mind off treatment and focus on us. I really do feel like it helped reconnect us. It was a lot of fun and while I was there it felt as if we rekindled a part of ourselves that was there before trying to have a baby. 

 

Stoked! Kurtis starting the bonfire for our recent camping trip. Camping is one of our favorite hobbies.

 

I’ve also been focusing on trying to lose weight and get healthier. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting and lost almost 9 pounds this month. I still have a ways to go but it’s a good start. I’ve been cleaning the house more and trying to get more organized. We’ve been doing more hiking and walking. I’ve been trying to move more in general. I created an Instagram account dedicated to weight loss, self-development, and goal setting. You can follow my account @goalsandconfetti on Instagram. If you haven’t already, you can also follow me at @hopingforbabyblog.

I plan on taking this time to review more books, shows, podcasts, ect. about not only fertility treatment but also other family building options. I’ll be posting my reviews soon on this site, so be looking out for those. There are so many great resources on family building out there. I plan on updating my Resources & Products page for you all too.

Frozen Embryo Transfer Pregnancy Test Result

Frozen Embryo Transfer Pregnancy Test Result

We’ve invested so much time, money, energy, and our hearts into trying to have a baby. This journey is certainly not for the faint of heart. Many of us in the infertility community refer to each other as “warriors.” I know some people disagree with this and say, “How can I call myself a warrior when I cry?” or they say “I feel so weak, and not strong like a warrior.” You may not see it in yourself, but we can see it in you. You are a warrior and you are strong. I am inspired when I see other people overcoming infertility, because it gives me hope. Later in this post I will talk about a couple who truly are the definition of infertility warriors and you may find their story as uplifting as I did.

I believe there are different ways to “overcome” infertility. This could mean building a family with biological, foster, or adopted children. It could also mean deciding to live child-free. But I think “overcoming” infertility is more about reaching a place of contentment. In all honesty, this is still a work in progress for me, and that’s okay too. You may also be at the same stage I am, a kind of in-between place. You can read more about my thoughts on overcoming infertility in my post HopingForBaby.com’s Beginnings.

 

Catch up on my previous FET posts here.

 

FET Pregnancy Test Results

 

Pregnancy Test Result

If you read my previous post The Two Week Wait, you’ll know I chose not to take a home pregnancy test during this time. I decided to wait for the official results to come in from my quantitative hCG test I took at the doctors office. I had my blood drawn the day my clinic said I should know for sure whether I am pregnant or not. 

I went in at 8:00am for my test, went home, and watched some TV while I waited. I started watching Miss Meadows, a kind of offbeat movie with Kill Bill vibes. I decided to check my email about halfway through the movie, and there it was, my results. “Your Quest Diagnostics Lab Results are Now Available” the subject of the email said. I hesitated briefly and wondered if I should click on it, or wait to hear directly from my clinic. I decided to go ahead and open the email. Below is my test result:

 

pregnancy test result

HCG shows negative pregnancy test result.

 

You can see that my result was less than 1 mIU/mL, and it says that anything less than 5 mIU/mL means I’m not pregnant. I suppose I was in denial initially. Maybe this was a mistake. I’m not sure how many women take a home pregnancy test after they receive official results from their doctor’s office, but apparently I am one of them. I had left over pregnancy test strips I ordered in bulk from Amazon a while back. I pulled one out and waited three minutes to see the results. It too was also negative. I feel like I needed this visual to make it more tangible and to help me process the news.

 

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I was feeling kind of numb from it all. I just went back to watching my movie. I waited until Kurtis came home on his lunch hour before I told him that we weren’t pregnant. I think he was also in denial too at first. I told him my clinic hadn’t called me yet, so he was hoping they may say something different on the phone. But I told him about the home pregnancy test as well as the email. We were both lying down in the bedroom and we just held each other for a while. He asked that I let him know what the clinic says when they call, then he went back to work.

It wasn’t until several hours later that my clinic called me. I listened to my nurse tell me that she was sorry it hadn’t worked out. She asked if we were thinking of doing another round of IVF in the future. I told her, “I’m not sure.” I could have asked any one of the questions that were on my mind about why this happened, but in the moment it was just too hard. I kept the phone call brief and thanked her for letting me know. When I feel up to it I will follow up with the clinic about what we can do to improve our odds, if at all, if we choose to do another round. I feel like I need that closure, at least closure from this particular clinic because I know we will not be seeking further treatment with them. If we do treatment in the future it will be with a different clinic.

 

Taking a Break

The third day after finding out we weren’t pregnant was very difficult for me. What made it so hard was the conversation I had with my husband that morning. I started talking about how I wanted to ask my doctor about a different treatment plan. 

He said, “At what point do we decide to stop?” 

I answered him by saying, “I feel like there are gaps in my treatment. They missed the fact that I had the MTHFR gene mutation for four years, I feel like there may be other tests I might need. I’ve heard about immunological tests. It could be that I need a certain medicine I haven’t tried yet. I want to find out more. I feel like there are other things we can do. I don’t want to stop now. I was just about to see a new doctor here soon.”

Then he said, “I understand you have low ovarian reserve and you don’t have much time left. But I need to take a break from it all. I can’t handle it emotionally or financially right now.” 

He stood up, and took our dog outside. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I walked to the bedroom and holed up in there for most of the day, just laying in bed in the dark. I watched one movie. I cried a couple times. It was the first time I had actually cried after the bad news. Went back to laying there in the dark staring at the ceiling. I had so many thoughts come to me during this time. 

It took me most of the day to process my own emotions before I started considering his perspective. This was the first time he talked about how it was emotionally affecting him. I know that it has affected him financially. Although he isn’t paying for the treatment or medication, he has been covering most of the other bills. He’s mentioned his worries about money before. 

The more I thought about it there were subtle signs before that he was feeling the loss like I was. When I was holed up in the dark bedroom he had come in at one point and plopped on the bed face down right next to me. He asked me if I wanted to go for a walk or something. I told him maybe. He mumbled something into the bed and just layed there for a bit. In hindsight his body language and everything about that moment seemed to be an expression of sadness. 

Then I remembered the day before when he called out from work. I asked him if he was sick or if he was taking a personal day. He said, “A little of both.” It didn’t click with me in the moment that maybe the stress of the bad news may have been a factor with how he was feeling. He’s not one to talk about his emotions.

He even said it himself, “I can’t handle it emotionally.” Why didn’t I actually listen to what he was saying then? After I got some rest I talked with him about it the next day. He said he was wanting to take a break of maybe one month. This was entirely different from what I expected him to say. Just based on what he was telling me the day before I figured he would say “one year.” I told him that one month is definitely reasonable. 

I mentioned I will still plan on meeting my new doctor and see about taking any tests, but I agreed to no fertility treatment procedures for the month. I also told him, “I’ll try not to talk about treatment plans or anything unless you ask me what’s going on.” He agreed that sounded good. He needs a breather from all of this, and I get it now.

 

Range of Emotions

Over these past few days since I got the negative result I’ve experienced a range of emotions. I was feeling very numb the first day. The second day I was angry, and all my anger was directed towards the clinic. I felt like maybe they didn’t provide me with the care I needed as an individual. But I didn’t actually cry at all until three days after the news. It wasn’t an all consuming kind of cry either, it was more like a couple moments of crying. The third day is when I felt the most “heavy” emotions. I was basically in bed the entire day, just laying there in the dark. I had a million thoughts rolling through my head the entire day. It was a very difficult day mostly because that morning Kurtis told me he wanted a break from treatment. After I took the day to process my own emotions about the loss, I was also able to realize that this was also emotional for him as well. I was starting to see from his perspective when I thought this wasn’t emotional for him at all. The fourth day my primary emotion was that of hope. He and I had talked things out and agreed to take a short break from treatments and heal from this.

Several months ago I thought about the possibility that my frozen embryo transfer may not work. This filled me with so much dread at the time. I was worried what that would mean for us as a couple. I imagined it would break me. I told my friend that I would probably be drinking a lot of wine to cope. But now that I’m here, it doesn’t feel as bad as I anticipated. And I made the conscious decision not to buy any wine, because alcohol is a depressant and that’s the last thing I need right now. 

I’ve been spending time with Kurtis and just taking it easy. We watched movies together at home, ones that are uplifting. I started taking the dog out for walks more, instead of Kurtis doing most of it like he has the past few days. I listened to music. I did some writing. I called my Mom. I received support from friends. I’m trying to do as many healthy coping skills as possible, I think because of that I’ve been able to accept this a little better.

 

Message of Support from Another Infertility Warrior

I was checking some of my messages a few days ago on my social media accounts and I saw a new one from one of my followers. 

Here’s what their message said:

Hey, just checking in with your journey. If we are right, blood test was today or yesterday? As one family who has experienced struggles to another, know you’re not alone. Whether it’s joy or frustration, both are real, valid, and warranted – never feel like you shouldn’t feel the way that you feel.”

Here was my response:

[. . .] I wanted to say that your message meant so much to me and I was deeply moved by it. I apologize it took several days to respond, I was dealing with some hard emotions about receiving a negative pregnancy test. [. . .] I wanted to say thank you for reaching out to me and asking how I am doing. At first I felt numb, then I felt angry, then depressed, and now I am starting to feel a little better. So a whole range of emotions. I talked with my husband about your message and how much it meant to me. I said to him, “There’s people out there who really do care about us.”

It blew me away that others were following our journey closely enough to know I hadn’t posted anything about the pregnancy test results yet. They had looked at the timeline and knew when it would have been time for me to find out. What they told me felt like exactly what I needed to hear, at the exact time I needed to hear it. So who was it that reached out to me with those kind words? I asked if they were okay if I shared their message of support on my blog and they said yes. They are Charlie and Missy, and they too experienced infertility struggles. A while back I had watched their inspiring YouTube video titled Evolution of a Family: From 1 to 6 Kids in Less than 5 Years (Winning the Infertility Battle). It was a memorable and inspirational video of how they overcame infertility. It brought me hope to see it again and I think you will enjoy it as well. Thank you again Charlie and Missy for reaching out to me and showing your support! 🙂

Being open about my infertility struggles through my blog and different social media accounts has helped me to gain more knowledge, feel connected, and get support from others. When I can, I also try to give back too. Sometimes I share my knowledge, through my own trial and error. Or I’ll send words of encouragement when someone posts some tough news. I love congratulating other infertility warriors when they finally give birth to their precious baby. Seeing those stories fills me with hope. If they can do it, maybe I can too. This community has lifted me up in so many ways. I wouldn’t be the same without you all, and for that I am forever grateful. 

The Two Week Wait

The Two Week Wait

The dreaded two-week wait. This is the time when you wait to find out whether you are officially pregnant or not. Or in my case, it is technically the dreaded 9-day wait, because I transferred my 5-day old embryo. Even though five days are knocked off my wait time, it is still a stressful time. It’s more like a low-grade stress. I’ve been coping by zoning out in front of the TV, trying to distract myself.

 

Catch up on my previous FET posts here.

 

Two Week

 

Recently I asked on Instagram whether you all chose to wait for your hCG blood results from your doctor, or if you took a home pregnancy test before your two week wait was over. I was actually surprised that most of you said that you chose not to wait, and took a home pregnancy test. A decent amount of you said that you take multiple tests during this time. Some of you said that the main reason you wanted to do it at home is that it felt so impersonal to hear the results from someone they don’t even know from the clinic. It’s understandable that you want to share that moment with your partner, whether it’s good or bad news it’s nice to actually have someone you love with you for support.

But my husband and I talked it over and we agreed that for us, it was best if we waited for official results from the doctor’s office. I wanted zero mystery, and so did he. Between false positives and false negatives, it’s just not worth it to us. I have recently come across several infertility Instagram accounts that have talked about how heart breaking it was to get a false positive with a home pregnancy test. All of the initial joy and excitement can make your heart sink so quickly with a false positive. 

During my Two Week Wait I occasionally posted on my different social media accounts with pictures from my trip, and updating everyone how everything was going. Some people messaged me and said they were surprised that I am choosing not to do a home pregnancy test and said to me, “I can’t do that, I would have gone crazy.” But I feel like I would have actually gone crazy if I did test myself. Because knowing myself, and what I used to do, I would have been testing daily like I see other women doing. Not to say they are crazy, but I would have been locked into an all-consuming circle of thoughts that usually sounded something like this:

It’s Friday night and I won’t be able to do an hCG blood test until Monday at my doctors office. I’ll call them then. Maybe I’ll try a test here at home in the mean time. Is it too early to test?

(Googles earliest time to test and learns that each home pregnancy test is different.)

Here we go…

The instructions say a faint pink line is pregnant. Is that a faint pink line? Hmm.. (squints hard)

Or is that a “shadow line?” Because I’ve heard a shadow line isn’t really pregnant.

If I turn it slightly to the side the line looks pink on the edges. So does that mean it’s actually a pink line?

Maybe if I take a photo of it and post it in my infertility group they could help me figure it out.

But what if the lighting isn’t good enough for all of them to see? 

(Takes 10 photos and analyzes the clearest one to post, then uploads for others to analyze as well).

Looks like about half of them are saying “pregnant” and congratulating me. Wow look at all those smile and heart emojis they are giving me. Maybe I am pregnant.

But it looks like a decent amount of others are saying “not pregnant” and telling me “So sorry, sending hugs your way.” 

Some people are also saying “I don’t know” or “it’s too hard to tell.”

Seems to be a real mixed bag of responses. Now I’m even more confused.

Hmmm…I see here this other person took a picture of their pregnancy test and inverted the colors to see the line better. Maybe I should try that. Dang, I already threw away the test. I’ll have to do this all over again.

And on, and on it goes…

No thanks, I don’t want to deal with that again. And even digital pregnancy tests can have false positives or say “Error.” So they aren’t completely fool-proof. Plus they are expensive. You’ve probably seen other women posting photos of their cheapies (cheap home pregnancy test strips), with hand written dates or time in their cycle when they took their test. Not one, not two, not even three, but it seems to me the average amount of cheapies used during the typical two-week wait seems to be six. That’s six days of doing a home pregnancy test. Six times to analyze a pee stick, maybe post it online, and wait to hear what others think. I’ve also seen women doing it for their entire two-week wait. 

That is a hard pass for me. I know how my mind works and I would drive myself bananas if I did it every day. Can you understand now, why I chose to say hell no to a home pregnancy test this time? I’m so over it. If you’ve followed our timeline you’ll know I’ve experienced pregnancy losses and I haven’t had a baby yet. Truth be told, a home pregnancy test means nothing to me anymore. I don’t get excited about taking them and instead I actually dread them. I don’t breathe a sigh of relief when it looks positive. Instead I question when the other shoe will drop, because based on my own experience it always does. 

For me, seeing my baby healthy and alive on the ultrasound monitor has so much more meaning than a “maybe” pink line on a pee stick. Although I don’t recall the exact statistic, I’ve heard that once you hear your baby’s heartbeat your odds of miscarriage go down quite a bit. Although I’ve never been able to make it far enough to hear my baby’s heartbeat, in the past I’ve been able to see my baby’s heartbeat in two different pregnancies. That was really amazing, to actually see life inside of me with a tiny little heartbeat fluttering away. These are the types of milestones I look forward to and I hope for again in the future.

 

Did you use a home pregnancy test during your two-week wait? If so, when did you take it? What advice would you give other women who are in their two-week wait? Comment below.

 

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From my account on Instagram @hopingforbabyblog

Embryo Transfer Day

Embryo Transfer Day

Today is big, like really big. If you are new here let me catch you up quickly. I’ve struggled with infertility for about 4.5 years. I’ve had six miscarriages, all from natural conception. I’ve done two egg retrievals and only had one embryo. Our embryo has been cryopreserved for a while. After nearly two years of medical and other issues come up (see Our Timeline), I am finally able to do this transfer. It’s been such a long, exhausting road but I am finally, finally here. 

Entry written prior to posted date.

Catch up on my previous FET prep posts here.

 

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What was it like to do an embryo transfer during COVID-19?

My husband was unable to take time off work to be with me. Even if he was here, he wouldn’t be allowed in the procedure room due to my clinic’s COVID-19 policy, that only allows the patient in the waiting room and procedure room. Plus I’m not here to do any sightseeing while COVID-19 is going on, and the numbers are much higher in Seattle compared to back home in Anchorage. I’m only staying inside the hotel other than going to my procedure. Essentially I’m self-isolating while in Seattle.  My clinic requires all patients and staff to wear masks to that is reassuring.

I bought a plastic face shield from Amazon not too long ago and wore it on my flights. I felt a little safer wearing it, especially when I heard a lot of sneezing and some coughing coming from all parts of the plane. I wanted to take extra precautions if I become pregnant and to also protect my family members who are immunocompromised. My state requires a negative COVID test and/or 14-day quarantine once residents and visitors arrive in Alaska. I’m actually surprised that Seattle doesn’t have this in place, I’ve heard this is due to their recent decline in cases. But their overall numbers are a lot higher than back home. So when I go back home I will need to do a COVID test right there at the airport.

 

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Looking like a turbo nerd in my face shield, but with all the sneezing and coughing I hear around me on the plane a feel a little better with this.

 

The Deathbed Test

Several years ago when I was conflicted on what to do about my infertility diagnosis, when my head and my heart were at odds, I decided to do the “deathbed” test. You’ve probably already heard of this, but if not, it essentially is a question you ask yourself. Imagine you are on your deathbed, thinking back on your choices in life. Ask yourself, “Will I regret not doing _______?” You can fill in the blank with whatever scenario you are currently debating. For me personally, I find that this is a great question to ask to get clarity. 

I asked myself years ago, “Will I regret not trying to get reproductive assistance to have a baby?” For me, it was a lightning bolt of realization, a strong and resounding, “Yes, I will regret not trying.” Even if I try and try and I reach the point where I decide to stop, at least I can look back on my life and know I did everything possible to make it happen. So here I am now, doing all I can. There have been times where I’ve experienced extreme exhaustion physically and mentally form all of this, to the point where I question whether I will be able to continue if this doesn’t work. The outcome and timeline may not be what I want, but as long as I am making my best effort, I will be content. 

Good Luck Charm

If you’ve been around the infertility block, you’ll know that embryo transfers are a time for hopeful traditions. It’s all in an effort to embrace the possibility that maybe your embryo will implant and you will become pregnant. Some of those include wearing colorful lucky socks with pineapples (symbol of fertility). Some socks say “IVF got this,” which doubles as a self-empowering statement, as well as telling others you are going through IVF with a hopeful heart. My personal favorite is the one that says “Sticky Vibes” with a smiling pineapple. There are also T-shirts made specifically for transfer day. People have seriously carved out an entire niche business around transfer day products. 

With everything going on I’ve been so busy planning for my transfer that I forgot to order lucky socks or a shirt. But despite the plethora of socks and shirts to choose from, I decided to do a quicker and, as it turns out, a much more affordable option. I went to my local craft store, Michael’s, picked out a pineapple charm and attached it to a matching gold chain. Only three bucks, not too shabby. I decided to wear it on my transfer day, which you can see in my pictures further below.

 

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Pineapple Necklace I bought from Michael’s craft store.

 

Just Before the Transfer

I decided to take a couple pictures just before I left my hotel for my transfer. In these pictures it captures my gratitude for having made it this far as well as my hopefulness, that just maybe this will work. It’s a long shot, but I need to take it. I’m happy to have this opportunity. These pictures are of pure joy, despite not knowing what the future holds. I know I am doing all I can, with all I have. 

 

 

After I downed 24 ounces of water between 1:00pm-1:30pm for my 2:00pm procedure, I was good to go. For your transfer most doctors recommend you come in with a full bladder which I’ve heard helps them see what’s going on better during the ultrasound when they do the transfer. I put on my necklace, snapped those quick photos to capture the moment, then I was on my way to the clinic.

As we pulled up to the clinic something unusual happened. There was a pedestrian trying to cross in front of my Uber. He was pushing a cart with a fully assembled office chair inside. Instead of slowly moving from the sidewalk to the road itself he pushed the cart hard and the office chair flew out of the cart and across the street. He started cursing as my driver had to completely drive into the other lane to get around him as he picked up his chair. The driver had to do this because there were cars quickly piling up behind us. My driver pulled further up beyond the man, who managed to get the chair back into his cart. Stay with me here, because all of this comes together with something that happens later.

I got out of my Uber, thanked the driver, and walked across the street to my clinic. The man with the cart is now yelling loudly, and although he is yelling I cannot understand anything he is saying. It sounds like fast-paced gibberish. I don’t know if he’s yelling at my driver, or me, or at the situation. I can’t make out anything he is saying. But he’s got his cart, the chair inside the cart again, and he made it across the street without getting hurt. No a big deal, other than maybe a slight blow to his ego. I open up the door to my clinic and make my way to the surgery center. 

The way this building is set up there is a big open lobby area where no matter what floor you are on you can look down onto the lobby. So after I got off the elevator I was walking towards the surgery center. Just before I got to the surgery center door I heard a loud slam come from downstairs in the lobby. I glanced down and saw the man that had been on the street with the cart was now pushing the cart into the entrance door, struggling to get into the building while he was yelling. I could hear him all the way up on the fourth floor, across the whole building.  In all honesty, I felt like it was none of my business, plus I had my procedure I had to get to on time.

I quickly signed a few papers in the surgery center and sat down in the waiting room. I could feel myself smiling and sighing with relief. I’m here, I’m finally here. After everything I’ve been through, this could actually work. I’m minutes away from my long awaited embryo transfer. I’ve waited almost two years for this moment. 

A few seconds after I sat down another patient came in, a guy. At first I thought he was here to support his partner. But I heard the receptionist say something about his surgery to him. Ball surgery I thought to myself. Ouch. This surgery center strictly deals with reproductive issues. Granted I am woefully informed on male reproductive surgery options, other than testicular surgery where they can actually extract sperm if the man has problems producing sperm the good old fashioned way. I’m making assumptions about this guy, and I could be totally wrong. If you are reading this and you were that guy in the office I apologize if my assumptions were wrong. 

 

Fire Alarm Goes off Just Before Transfer

Both he and I sat there quietly for about two minutes. Then I thought I saw a quick flash of light.  Maybe the fluorescent light above us flickered briefly. A few seconds later I saw the bright flash again. This time I noticed the guy sitting across from me was looking up at the ceiling. I looked up to see what he was looking at. I realized he was looking at the silent fire alarm flashing for the third time now. No sound, maybe it’s a test. Then…waaaaaah, waaaaaah, waaaaa– “Are you for real?!” I shouted at the alarm. Here I was about to finally do my embryo transfer, and then of the all the moments for the fire alarm to go off it goes off now. What the actual f**k?!

 

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Not knowing the circumstances I got up and evacuated with everyone else. We all filed down the emergency stairs and out of the building. I’m not sure how many people evacuated but there looked to be at least 50 people that evacuated. Initially I was feeling angry about the situation, but as soon as I stepped into the alleyway, I started to feel stress shoot through my body. I decided to call my husband and it helped to hear his voice as he tried to reassure me that it was probably a false alarm. But now I had so many questions come to me all at once. I posted about it on Instagram:

“Is my embryo sitting thawed out already? How long will it survive sitting there if it is thawed? Is this a false alarm or is the building really on fire somewhere?

I was stressed to the max.

My bladder was very full (needed for transfer).

I had no clue what would happen to my embryo.

Thirty minutes later the fireman gave the all clear. I overheard the staff say that it turns out someone pulled the fire alarm…” (Instagram @hopingforbabyblog)

I’m no detective, but I’m thinking the man who was yelling gibberish and slamming his shopping cart into the front door may have been the culprit. But I don’t know for sure, that’s my best guess though. What a fantastic day this is turning out to be. It’s truly the exact opposite experience someone should be having before their embryo transfer. You are supposed to be reducing your stress level, meditating, thinking happy thoughts, and all that s**t. All of that was out the window for me now.

I could still feel my heart pounding with anxiety when I got back into the office. I asked the receptionist right away, “Is my embryo okay? Was it sitting there thawed out?” She reassured me that it was not thawed out because they hadn’t called me back yet. Phew! Oh my God, I was literally minutes away from that scenario. When I got called back to the procedure room I saw my doctor in the hallway, she smiled and said, “Hey it could have been worse,” which is true I suppose. 

 

The Transfer

I changed quickly in the procedure room and got into position in the super awkward exam table. This one is different from your typical table. This one splays out your legs so far that if you aren’t flexible it feels like you are going to break in half. No one told me I needed to be flexible for this procedure. “I don’t think I can bend that way” I jokingly told the sonographer. But I managed to make it work. “Are you okay?”she asked me. I laughed again and said, “Not really.” She adjusted the leg holders a bit inward. It was better, but not comfortable by any means. I guess it’s supposed to be that way for this particular procedure, not like with your annual exam.

The sonographer checked my bladder briefly to see if it was full enough. After this friggin’ fire alarm and waiting nearly an hour with a full bladder I felt super uncomfortable. But my bladder had to be full for the procedure. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram account later:

Despite someone pulling the fire alarm right before my embryo transfer (see previous post), I was still able to do my transfer. And yes, I had to hold from going pee with a full bladder (required for transfer) while the fireman were inside for about 30 minutes.

When I was finally able to go back inside I only had one thing on my mind while they were inserting my embryo…”please don’t pee, please don’t pee, PLEEEASE!” I had to go so badly now that we were running late for my transfer.

Near the last few minutes I could feel my heart rate going down. They told me that because I hadn’t been called back when the alarm went off, they hadn’t thawed the embryo yet. So my embryo was perfectly fine just chillin’ in cryopreservation while I was nearly having a panic attack outside on the sidewalk.

The embryologist said my embryo looks “beautiful” and that it was hatching, which I’ve heard is a good sign. I was able to go to the bathroom right after the transfer, THANK YOU JESUS!

I cannot believe this happened today, but I’m even more surprised I was still able to do the transfer despite the situation. What a rollercoaster of emotions! Phew! Right now I’m just relaxing in my hotel.”  (Instagram @hopingforbabyblog)

 

My Embryo

Before they transferred my embryo they handed me a card with a close-up photo of my embryo. They let me know my embryo was hatching and that it looked really good. I was so flustered from the fire alarm I didn’t think to ask what grade it was. But I figured it was good since they said it looked like a high quality embryo. It was amazing to see this embryo not only in the photo but also in real time. They let me know the embryo survived the thaw and they let me watch on the screen as the embryologist carefully sucked my embryo into the thin catheter. The embryologist walked over to my doctor, who then inserted the embryo inside me. Afterwards the embryologist examines the catheter to make sure the embryo is no longer inside and that it was successfully transfered. It only took a few minutes and it was over. I was  looking at the photo of my embryo on the drive back to my hotel. Maybe this little embryo will turn into a pregnancy, that will turn into a live-birth. Maybe I will finally have a baby. I felt like my hope had been renewed.

 

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Good Eats

I decided to hop on the bandwagon and participate in the fun tradition of eating McDonald’s French fries right after embryo transfer. If you ever wonder why women from the infertility community are happily posing on Instagram or Facebook with french fries after their transfer, the belief is that it may help with the embryo implanting. I don’t really buy into this theory. I just like french fries. I was most of the way through my fries and then I remembered I wanted to take a picture, just for funsies. I feel like I evened it out with a healthy salad later that night. It was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. If you are ever in Seattle, go to Joey Restaurant and order the Farmers Market Salmon Salad. Friggin’ amazing! Super healthy. 

 

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Post-transfer Fries

 

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Yummy Salmon Salad while watching 90 Day Fiance Marathon at my hotel.

 

Will my Embryo Implant?

I’m happy that I was still able to do my transfer, but it was so stressful. I don’t know whether the high stress will impact the embryo implanting. You always hear fertility doctors saying that we need to do everything to be as relaxed as possible, so what will come of this situation. The only thing I can do is try to chill out at the hotel tonight and tomorrow morning. I leave on my plane tomorrow afternoon. Now I need to wait to see if my embryo implants or not. I’ll need to do a quantitative hCG blood test here soon. I’ll be posting more photos of my trip on Instagram here later.

FET Prep Week 24: Good to Go! | Starting PIO Shots | Ways to Thicken Uterine Lining for Embryo Transfer

FET Prep Week 24: Good to Go! | Starting PIO Shots | Ways to Thicken Uterine Lining for Embryo Transfer

Last week I talked about how my lining was too thin. Last week my lining was 5mm, and this week it went up to 5.3mm. Not much of a difference in my opinion. I’ve read there is a range of acceptable lining measurements. Anywhere from 6mm to 10mm seems to be the general consensus for acceptable lining measurements. I was certain that my doctor was going to either postpone my transfer again or cancel it all together. 

 

Entry written prior to posted date.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 8: Migraines & Some Good News

FET Prep Week 9: A Tough Decision

FET Prep Week 10: Down-Regulation Started, Infertility Group, Coronavirus Concerns

FET Prep Week 11: Possible COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Postpone Fertility Treatment?, & The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide

FET Prep Week 12: Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Roundtable on COVID-19

FET Prep Week 13: FET Scheduled After Clinic Partially Reopened

FET Prep Week 14: Plans Changed, Flying Solo, & Confusing Med Instructions

FET Prep Week 15: Should This be Happening? | To Lovenox, or Not to Lovenox, that is the question. | High Anxiety from Methylfolate

FET Prep Week 16: Injections Started | Approved for Lovenox | New Vitamins to Reduce Anxiety

FET Prep Week 17: Suppression Check Disappointment | The Downsides of Fertility Meds

FET Prep Week 18: Altered Plans Due to Cyst | On Different Pages with Spouse

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

FET Prep Week 20: Clinic Cancels My FET 

FET Prep Week 21: Starting All Over | Scary Side Effect? | Not Enough Syringes | Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?

FET Prep Week 22: Hormonal Hot Mess 

FET Prep Week 23: Transfer Date Postponed Due to Thin Lining

Countdown Until FET: 1 day (as of 8-2-2020)

 

FET Prep (9)

 

Good to Go!

I had my ultrasound and blood draw to test my progesterone and estrogen levels on July 28th. Over the years I’ve gone to so many ultrasound appointments I know practically exactly what to look for on the screen. Even before the ultrasound tech can tell me any bad news, I can already see it. During my egg retrievals I could spot almost every follicle, with the occasional exception of a few super tiny ones. I can also recognize a dreaded cyst on the screen. More recently, I’ve been able to see how long my endometrium is, even when they quickly dart from one measurement to the next. I saw 5.3mm flash across the screen. Damn I thought. That was the longest my lining measured out of the three different ones she took of it. 

 

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Different shots of my uterine lining thickness from my appointment on July 28th.

 

I left feeling somewhat defeated but I knew everything would depend on what my doctor says next. I had already done my blood draw before my ultrasound. So now I just have to wait. I got a call that afternoon that both my estrogen and progesterone levels were good and that I was approved for my embryo transfer.

“Oh, I thought for sure my transfer would be postponed or cancelled since my lining is only 5.3mm” I said to my nurse.

“Well it is slightly on the low end but by the time we do your transfer next week it should be right where we want it to be. Your progesterone and estrogen levels are perfect and right where we want them to be, so we think that your lining will thicken up in time” my nurse said.

So my embryo transfer has been officially scheduled for August 3rd. Finally! It’s been a long road, that’s for sure. I am now on a new medicine routine. No more Lupron (thank you Jesus!), no more vaginal estrace. Instead I am on oral Estrace 3 times daily, Endometrin in the morning and evening, and 1mL of the PIO (progesterone in oil) booty shot in the evening. 

 

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Showing my arm from my blood draw and my dog starts licking my hand. I think he thought I had a treat for him.  🙂

 

Starting PIO Shots

I’ve decided to have my husband help me with the PIO shots, and when he is not around the plan is for me to do it on my own. So I will need to do it on my own when I go to Seattle. I’m kind of afraid, because I’ve heard stories about women passing out when they try to do it themselves. This one poor girl passed out in the bathroom and fell on the ground. When she came to, she still felt super dizzy and crawled out slowly to the living room where her husband was. As she crawled out, the shot was still sticking in her butt as she asked for her husband’s help. That poor girl.

I don’t want to be that girl, so I need to figure out how to do this shot on my own without passing out. Sure I’ve done lots of stomach shots, but they are a fraction of the size of the PIO shot. Plus there are extra steps to the PIO shot, like pulling back the plunger to make sure there’s no blood, for example. Got blood? Start all over. Thankfully my husband seems fine with giving me the shot. One less stress, plus I told him “You are a part of the process now, and helping to hopefully create a little baby.” I wanted him to feel included and that he is contributing in some way. I’ve heard that some men feel really out of the loop and helpless. Well my boys, offer to help your wife with her PIO shots. I’m telling you, as long as you follow the instructions and help her relax during the shot, you truly are doing a lot to help her. 

 

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About to do my first PIO (Progesterone in Oil) shot. That needle is scary long.

 

Ways to Thicken Uterine Lining for Embryo Transfer

I will probably create an article specifically on this subject in the future. But for now I wanted to talk briefly about some of the things I’ve done recently to try to get my uterine lining thicker. Obviously it isn’t quite where my doctor wants it just yet (currently at 5.3mm), but I thought I would try some of the ideas that are often suggested and tend to be widely accepted as being helpful for increasing uterine lining thickness. Talk with your doctor before trying some of these suggestions. 

I decided to increase the L-Arganine I was taking to 6g daily. I was hesitant to take this in the past because I’ve heard it can affect egg quality, which can impact future IVF cycles. But in the case of FET cycles, it seems to be fairly helpful for some women. I was taking a much lower dose before and not on a regular basis, but this week it was 6g for me. Where did I get the 6g dose from? If you read It Starts with the Egg by Rebecca Fett, she goes into a lot of detail about various supplements to take depending on where you are at with your treatment. According to Fett, taking L-Arganine in conjunction with Vitamin E can help thicken uterine lining but is only recommended for frozen embryo transfers and not fresh transfers.

I also ate more vegetables this week than I normally do. Eating fresh fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, nuts, and basically a medetarrian diet, while also avoiding processed food as much as possible seems to be a widely accepted way to improve fertility odds. I can hear my Keto friends yelling at me. No worries though, you do you. If you are following your doctors recommendations and you are seeing the results you want, more power to you.

It just so happened I had a lot of walnuts on hand, which I’ve learned nuts can help thicken the uterine lining and make it more receptive for an embryo. My eyes kind of bugged out of my head when I saw my walnuts were about 200 calories for ¼ cup. But if it helps my lining thicken up, I will do what I gotta do. Doing an embryo transfer is usually not a good time to lose weight, and the focus should be on nutrition. Trying to lose weight while also doing a transfer I’ve heard adds extra stress to the body. Extra stress is no bueno during embryo transfers. I’m not going to stress too much about my extra five-ish pounds (emphasis on the “ish”)  I’ve gained if I know I’m also eating healthily. 

I decided to also seek out advice from my Instagram followers about what they did to help increase their lining and I received some good ideas. I’ve heard that acupuncture can be helpful and this too was being echoed by some of my followers. After looking into it more, from what I understand acupuncture tends to be more helpful doing it a series of times leading up to the transfer, and there were not as significant results from just one session prior to transfer. Also, if the added expense and the idea of acupuncture seems stressful, you don’t have to do it. Remember, you can reduce stress in other ways. I opted not to do acupuncture for this FET because of the expense as well potentially being exposed to COVID in the acupuncture office. Being in close contact with someone who sees multiple people all day did not seem worth doing acupuncture, but that’s a personal decision. 

It was quite serendipitous that I received about half a dozen suggestions across different social media accounts (at the same time) for something I had never heard of.  I decided to check in with my MTHFR facebook groups I’m a member of and I asked if they had any suggestions on improving my lining, as well as any other ideas the had to help increase my odds of my embryo implanting. Everyone was suggesting Estrogen patches. I’ve never heard of this, and it could potentially be a game changer for me. Although it’s kind of late in the game to do anything now, since I am so close to my transfer date, this could definitely help me in the future.  Perhaps it could help me during my pregnancy, if I am lucky enough to become pregnant. I will definitely ask about it. 

Having proper estrogen levels can help thicken your lining, and if you have a MTHFR gene mutation your body may not be absorbing the oral Estrace pill as well as a patch of estrogen could. This blew my mind. First of all, why had no doctor told me this before, despite me telling them about my gene mutation? Even without the mutation, wouldn’t you as a doctor consider alternative methods such as the estrogen patch if your patient’s lining and estrogen levels have been consistently off. What gives? Why not mention this? I’m thankful I learned about this from other patients online, perhaps this will help me later on. Although social media isn’t the be-all and end-all for treatment, it has proven to be a good tool to help me advocate for myself to try different approaches.

 

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Got out to Hatcher Pass in Palmer, Alaska. It was nice to get out.

 

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Mom was able to go with us too, she brought her little Yorkie. Nothing like mountain-fresh air.

FET Prep Week 23: Transfer Date Postponed Due to Thin Lining

FET Prep Week 23: Transfer Date Postponed Due to Thin Lining

At this point, my FET cycle is not completely cancelled but just postponed. It will be postponed for four days longer than what they originally planned due to my lining being too thin. It’s not quite measuring as thick as they want it to be for transfer. Hopefully this round won’t be completely cancelled. 

 

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 8: Migraines & Some Good News

FET Prep Week 9: A Tough Decision

FET Prep Week 10: Down-Regulation Started, Infertility Group, Coronavirus Concerns

FET Prep Week 11: Possible COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Postpone Fertility Treatment?, & The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide

FET Prep Week 12: Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Roundtable on COVID-19

FET Prep Week 13: FET Scheduled After Clinic Partially Reopened

FET Prep Week 14: Plans Changed, Flying Solo, & Confusing Med Instructions

FET Prep Week 15: Should This be Happening? | To Lovenox, or Not to Lovenox, that is the question. | High Anxiety from Methylfolate

FET Prep Week 16: Injections Started | Approved for Lovenox | New Vitamins to Reduce Anxiety

FET Prep Week 17: Suppression Check Disappointment | The Downsides of Fertility Meds

FET Prep Week 18: Altered Plans Due to Cyst | On Different Pages with Spouse

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

FET Prep Week 20: Clinic Cancels My FET 

FET Prep Week 21: Starting All Over | Scary Side Effect? | Not Enough Syringes | Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?

FET Prep Week 22: Hormonal Hot Mess 

Countdown Until FET: 8 days (as of 07-26-2020)

 

FET Prep (8)

 

Transfer Date Postponed Due to Thin Lining

I’m glad my FET cycle hasn’t been completely cancelled, but you really never can tell what will happen next. They said my uterine lining was measuring too thin at 5mm, when it should be 8mm. I think this goes for anyone doing fertility treatment. When I write “FET” in my calendar I always write a question mark next to it. You have got to be flexible with your transfer date, otherwise any delays or cancellations will drive you crazy.

I did my monitoring appointment on Friday. For these appointments I go to one location to do my ultrasound and then I drive to the hospital to do my bloodwork. There are no there are no other labs that I’ve called that are able to do same-day STAT results, so I have to do it at the hospital. Luckily I have a good routine now, to where it’s not so stressful. I wake up early and get to the lab before they open, before the rush of people come. One time I went to the lab and the small office was packed with people (during COVID pandemic) and many were spilled out into the hallway to do their tests. If you go in the middle of the day expect to wait about 1.5 to 2 hours before you will be seen. 

 

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Photo of the ultrasound equipment they used to check my uterine lining. My lining was too thin, measuring at only 5mm (needs to be 8mm).

 

But I find waking up super early and standing at the lab door at 6:45am (they open at 7am) has helped me to be first in line each time now. I’m in and out in about 5 minutes as opposed to 2 hours. Then I get some breakfast, listen to the news a bit, then head to my ultrasound appointment. It’s become quite routine for me now, and I’ve got a system down pat. Basically the only thing I have control of right now is that I can show up to my appointments on time, and take the medicincation when they tell me to. Other than that, everything is left up to fate. But creating a routine definitely helps to reduce some stress. 

I have to get everything done first thing in the morning because my clinic in Seattle needs all of my testing done STAT. Seattle is one hour ahead of Anchorage time, so they’ve encouraged me to do all my testing as early as possible in the day to allow for the lab to process the results and for my clinic to call me before they close at 4pm my time. There was one time where the lab was so backed up that they did not process my order. That was on a Friday, so my clinic in Seattle didn’t get the results until the following Monday. This is bad news when you need same-day STAT results in order to find out what medicine to be on that very night. Thankfully that has only happened to me once. In that case the after-hours doctor told me to continue taking my same medication until the results came in that Monday.

 

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My measurements from ultrasound. Endometrium at 5mm (too thin), but luckily no big cysts this time.

 

For this cycle, I did not book a flight or hotel yet. My nurse advised me to wait until my very last ultrasound and bloodwork before doing this, because the transfer date can change or be cancelled last minute. So at least this time I didn’t have the headache of calling the airline to ask for a refund or credit. And I didn’t have my hotel booked either so I didn’t need to worry about calling them to change my plans yet again. With my last FET cycle I had to do this multiple times. But this time I decided it was too much of a hassle. Might as well wait until I get the official green light instead of planning around a transfer date that will “might be” on a certain date. Being flexible with your fertility treatment plans will save you from a lot of stress. I’m letting you know this as well as reminding myself of this as well. 

My new tentative transfer date (key word being tentative) is August 3rd. Maybe this time everything will finally work out. 

FET Prep Week 22: Hormonal Hot Mess 

FET Prep Week 22: Hormonal Hot Mess 

I think anyone who gets pumped with a lot of hormones is going to have their emotions amplified. But when a negative life event occurs the same time during fertility treatment hormones, things can get really messy. The word ‘messy’ is putting it mildly compared to the extreme amount of stress I experienced this week. I was already feeling miserable this week, with exhaustion, nausea and bloating. But what happened next really takes the cake.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 8: Migraines & Some Good News

FET Prep Week 9: A Tough Decision

FET Prep Week 10: Down-Regulation Started, Infertility Group, Coronavirus Concerns

FET Prep Week 11: Possible COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Postpone Fertility Treatment?, & The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide

FET Prep Week 12: Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Roundtable on COVID-19

FET Prep Week 13: FET Scheduled After Clinic Partially Reopened

FET Prep Week 14: Plans Changed, Flying Solo, & Confusing Med Instructions

FET Prep Week 15: Should This be Happening? | To Lovenox, or Not to Lovenox, that is the question. | High Anxiety from Methylfolate

FET Prep Week 16: Injections Started | Approved for Lovenox | New Vitamins to Reduce Anxiety

FET Prep Week 17: Suppression Check Disappointment | The Downsides of Fertility Meds

FET Prep Week 18: Altered Plans Due to Cyst | On Different Pages with Spouse

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

FET Prep Week 20: Clinic Cancels My FET 

FET Prep Week 21: Starting All Over | Scary Side Effect? | Not Enough Syringes | Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?

Countdown Until FET: 9 days (as of 07-21-2020)

 

FET Prep (7)

 

Hormonal Hot Mess

If you’ve ever used fertility drugs you know that it can alter your emotions, and make it harder for you to keep things in check. Most people who know me, know that I am normally a calm and level-headed person in high stress situations. Imagine you are looking at a graph with a bell-shaped curve. At this time, I’m at the top of the curve, experiencing the height of all physical and emotional symptoms. Now throw in an extremely stressful event that has happened, well honey, let’s just say I’m off the charts now. I was so incredibly angry about this situation. It’s not just an emotional situation but it’s a financial one that could severely impact our future. 

So what happened? Several months ago my husband gave a family member his personal information to start the process to co-sign for something, not knowing all the details and while being distracted at work. He wanted to help them out, because they’ve helped him out in the past so he gave them his information. I was unaware of any of this.

Fast-forward to this week, it was morning time and Kurtis goes online to check his credit, because we are planning to buy a house soon. We were looking at houses the previous day. But…surprise! He now has a $46,000 debt that he had no idea about. He thought someone had stolen his identity. Both he and I were scrambling to look up phone numbers to call about how this happened. We called our identity theft company, and started calling the credit reporting agencies. It was about an hour or so into our research and rage that we were able to pull up his credit report. 

We found the account that showed $46,000 loan and I pointed to the screen, “It says here joint account.” Then he remembered that several months ago his family member had asked for his personal information to co-sign for something. What the actual f**k!

Let’s just say a whole clusterf**k of a situation ensued. I am at one of the most vulnerable stages of my life, about to undergo fertility treatment. My doctor and medical team have been advising me for months to do anything and everything to reduce stress. And then this family member comes along and drops a massive bomb into our lives. 

I let them know that their actions have most likely led to us not being able to get a house or financing for future fertility treatment or adoption. For my own sanity, I had to cut them out of my life. I needed to set that boundary because I cannot handle any extra stress right now. That family member picked the absolute worst time ever, to take advantage of my husband. I am hoping and praying that the stress I am experiencing right now does not impact my upcoming embryo transfer. The last time I experienced this extreme amount of stress was when my father passed away. I was pregnant at the time and I lost that baby. 

I have got to do anything and everything in my power to continue to reduce my stress. Whether it’s yoga, going for walks, playing with the pets, watching funny movies. Whatever it is, I need to do lots of it to counteract this horrible situation. Self-care is going to be huge for me until my embryo transfer, which is coming up really soon in nine days.

 

Have you experienced extreme stress during your fertility treatments or pregnancy? How did you manage your stress? Let me know in the comments below.

FET Prep Week 21: Starting All Over | Scary Side Effect? | Not Enough Syringes | Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?

FET Prep Week 21: Starting All Over | Scary Side Effect? | Not Enough Syringes | Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?

My doctor had me start a new frozen embryo cycle right away after my last one was cancelled at the last minute. This will make it the third time I’ve prepped for my FET for my one and only embryo. It’s incredibly exhausting physically and mentally. I would describe this process as being dragged face first through a field of mud. Occasionally someone will ask “how are you?” and you lift your muddy, weary face and say, “I’m good” then plop your face back into the muck to be dragged some more. I’m on week 21 of being dragged around in this seemingly endless field of mud, I mean, 21 weeks of prepping for my FET. 

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 8: Migraines & Some Good News

FET Prep Week 9: A Tough Decision

FET Prep Week 10: Down-Regulation Started, Infertility Group, Coronavirus Concerns

FET Prep Week 11: Possible COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Postpone Fertility Treatment?, & The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide

FET Prep Week 12: Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Roundtable on COVID-19

FET Prep Week 13: FET Scheduled After Clinic Partially Reopened

FET Prep Week 14: Plans Changed, Flying Solo, & Confusing Med Instructions

FET Prep Week 15: Should This be Happening? | To Lovenox, or Not to Lovenox, that is the question. | High Anxiety from Methylfolate

FET Prep Week 16: Injections Started | Approved for Lovenox | New Vitamins to Reduce Anxiety

FET Prep Week 17: Suppression Check Disappointment | The Downsides of Fertility Meds

FET Prep Week 18: Altered Plans Due to Cyst | On Different Pages with Spouse

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

FET Prep Week 20: Clinic Cancels My FET 

Countdown Until FET: 16 days (as of 07-15-2020)

 

FET Prep Week 21

 

Starting All Over

I’ve completely restarted my FET cycle. It’s a mix of emotions. On the one hand I am glad I was able to restart right away, while on the other I feel ready to completely give up on this entire process. But I cannot give up, I have an embryo waiting for me. I’m hoping my mental health will catch up to the fertility treatment process happening to my body. I feel my brain and my body are completely disconnected. 

I now totally understand those women who decide that fertility treatments are just too much to deal with and they decide to stop. I also understand the women who decide that not even adoption or fostering feels right. I get it, 100%. I feel like I’ve reached a limit I’ve never reached before where I am just so over all of this. 

I’ll be honest, in the past I didn’t understand how women could give up on treatments when there was a chance they could have a child. I also didn’t understand women who wanted children so badly, had failed treatments but then decided not even to adopt. The child-free lifestyle seemed to confound me. Out of curiosity, I read a couple books on the child-free lifestyle. I wanted to open my mind up to the realm of possibility that I may be living that way if my treatments don’t work out. At this point, it’s a newer option on the table I hadn’t considered before. 

 

Scary Side Effect?

Just before bed I drank a glass of water and looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. What the hell?! I looked like a different person. My face and neck were really swollen, puffing out about 1-2 inches on all sides. I put my fingertips to my neck and felt that my neck was tender and sore. My face didn’t hurt but my throat did. Was this a side effect to my medicine? I started my new FET cycle with a prescribed double dose of Lupron, twice as much as I was on before. Could this be some weird reaction to the medicine?

Then I remembered my old blog post from my second egg retrieval where I had talked about my face swelling up on fertility treatments. This somewhat put my mind at ease. Maybe this is just par for the course? I decided to go to bed and see how I felt in the morning. 

But in the morning my neck and throat were even more swollen. I was worried now. What if I am having an allergic reaction to my increased dose of Lupron? I was also feeling abnormally hot. I checked my temperature at it was 99.8°F. The increased temperature had me concerned it was possibly a mild case of COVID. But a swollen face and neck? I don’t remember that being one of the symptoms of COVID. I called my clinic and a backup doctor returned my call.

He asked me a series of questions and told me he thought my body was fighting off some sort of infection. He told me, “If you don’t feel better in the next few days we’ll need to cancel your embryo transfer.” Are you kidding me? Cancel my FET again? I decided to become the laziest of lazy people and rested that whole weekend. I drank lots of water and binge watched TV, hoping that the rest would help. My swelling went down and so did my temperature. By the time I received a followup call from my clinic on Monday I was feeling okay and they told me we could continue with the FET process. 

That same Monday I had my suppression check. My ultrasound looked good and she said, “You are definitely suppressed.” This was music to my ears, the good news I needed to hear to hopefully help turn things around for me. My bloodwork was also good. My nurse called me later and told me I could start my Estrace pills three times daily and drop my Lupron dose down to 5 units twice daily. I think it was possible the Lupron may have been causing my face and neck to swell, but because my Lupron dose got lowered I don’t think we’ll ever know what was causing it. But I’m back on track and hopefully my next monitoring appointment will show my body is on track with everything. 

 

Not Enough Syringes

Since I had to restart my FET cycle this month and I was on different doses, I thought I would double check to make sure I had enough of what I needed. I had enough medicine to last me, but after counting all of my syringes I realized they did not give me enough. 

I think part of the problem was that I was on double the dose of the typical Lupron pack they give you. So even though I had enough Lupron left over from my previous cycle, I did not have enough syringes to keep up with my double dose. Not a big deal, I thought. Just call the pharmacy and ask for more, syringes should be free I thought. When I’ve ordered my medicine in the past they normally don’t charge anything for the syringes, they only charge for the medicine itself. Here is my confusing conversation with the pharmacy staff:

“You’ll need to call your doctor and ask for a new prescription,” the pharmacy staff told me. 

“No, I don’t need a new prescription, I just need the syringes,” I said.

“I see here you don’t have any more refills, so you will need a prescription” she said.

“But I have enough medicine. I just need the syringes.” I could feel my hormonal anger beginning to rise. 

“We need a new prescription,” she repeated.

“Does that mean I will have to pay full price for medicine I don’t need just to get the syringes?” I could hear myself trying to control the anger in tone.

“No, we just need a prescription for the syringes,” she said.

“Prescription for syringes? But aren’t they normally free?” I asked, confused.

“Yes, normally they are, but because you are out we have to have the doctor confirm that you need more. You’ll have to pay $6 for the syringes and $39 for the shipping” she explained.

“So you’re telling me, because you didn’t put the proper amount of syringes with my medicine to begin with, I now have to pay extra to have it sent to me?” I wasn’t yelling, but I was definitely not happy.

It’s at this point that my medication induced hormonal anger flared up inside of me, but I was able to tamp it down when I told myself that I needed to not get emotional and listen to what she was saying. 

“We received your prescription from your doctor, including how many syringes to send. So you’ll need to contact your doctor. We are unable to send syringes without a prescription because some people use those syringes for drugs” she said.

Now I was finally starting to piece everything together. It was my clinic that did not give the right amount of syringes to my pharmacy (to account for my double dose of Lupron) so it wasn’t really the pharmacy’s fault. The pharmacy is also regulated by law to follow prescription guidelines, in order to prevent manipulation of the system by illicit drug users who are seeking free needles and syringes. I had no clue that was even a thing. I messaged my clinic and they sent out the prescription to my pharmacy. I called the pharmacy and I had to pay the stupid shipping fee of $39 plus $6 for the syringes, for a total of $45. It should be arriving soon. This is just one example of the many frustrating things that can go wrong during fertility treatment. 

 

Move or Travel Abroad for Treatment?

If you follow my blog you know that I am a planner. I always have a backup plan. I joked with my friend, “You know how people say they have a Plan B if their first plan doesn’t work. Well, I am near the end of the alphabet with the plans I’ve gone through for trying to have a baby.” It helps me to have a plan so I have something to look forward to, as opposed to not having a clue what happens next. In my recent post I talked about how Kurtis and I were on different pages with our family building plan and how this affected me. Well, he’s starting to open up to the possibility of making a plan with me.

I’ve done a lot of research, and to my understanding, the only job in Alaska that offers IVF benefits is Starbucks (they offer this voluntarily). If for some reason I can’t get a job with Starbucks, I might move out of state for fertility treatment. In the past we talked about the possibility of me temporarily living out of state for treatment. In Alaska, we are ranked one of the top three worst states to live in for fertility services. We have zero reproductive endocrinologists, no RESOLVE infertility groups, no fertility clinics, and not a single law in the books mandating fertility coverage. At this point all of my treatment is being done fully out of state. Lately, I’ve been thinking more of the possibility of relocating for treatment if this FET does not work.

Kurtis said he would most likely stay behind while I do treatment. He has a decent paying job with good benefits, we have the condo we own with a dog and cat. So it’s easier if only I leave for treatment as opposed to us uprooting everything and starting over in another state. If I got a job in another state I would need to work it long enough to get insurance benefits before I could start treatment. So I may be out of state for 3-6 months possibly.

I researched states that have mandated insurance coverage for infertility. It’s incredibly complicated and each state has different mandates. One state might include coverage until a certain age, where another state requires a proof of a certain number of years of infertility. A couple of the states I had an eye on were Connecticut and Massachusetts, because they seem to mandate for more expansive coverage. I’m also curious to learn if I could use coverage from that state and go for treatment at CNY in Syracuse, New York. CNY is one of the more affordable clinics in the US. I didn’t delve too much into researching, because I want to keep an open mind at this point. 

I also did some research on affordable clinics overseas. One of the countries I’ve been hearing about over and over for affordable IVF treatment is the Czech Republic. There are a handful of clinics in and near Prague that seem to have top quality treatment. Some of the services they provide are really advanced. My clinic in Seattle doesn’t even offer some of the more advanced techniques like assisted hatching and embryo glue, to name a few. Much better price and more advanced? Where do I sign up? 

I emailed a clinic in Prague to ask about pricing. They responded very quickly with a full list of prices for every one of their services. They were very upfront with their pricing, which was nice to see. Of course the main drawback to traveling abroad right now is COVID and the high prices of flights. If I chose to go this route, I will most definitely do more research and seek out other women in the infertility forums that have actually gone to Prague for treatment.

I need to sit down and do the math for both options of moving out of state temporarily for insurance coverage compared to getting treatment in another country. When I’ve run preliminary numbers it looks like traveling abroad is the more affordable option, even with the expensive plane ticket. That goes to show you how expensive treatment in the US really is. 

But my future depends on what happens with this upcoming FET. I’m hoping it will work, but I’m also being realistic and considering my options if it doesn’t work. I’m happy that Kurtis is being more open about planning for the future. My next major hurdle is my monitoring appointment I have on July 24th. I’m hoping they will say everything looks good and I can book my plane ticket to Seattle for my FET.

FET Prep Week 20: Clinic Cancels My FET 

FET Prep Week 20: Clinic Cancels My FET 

Well, things took a turn for the worse. My clinic decided to cancel my FET for a couple of reasons. I felt really sad at first and thought “When am I ever going to have our baby?” This process can be so emotionally and physically draining. But my clinic started me on a new protocol that will hopefully help me respond better to the medicine.

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 8: Migraines & Some Good News

FET Prep Week 9: A Tough Decision

FET Prep Week 10: Down-Regulation Started, Infertility Group, Coronavirus Concerns

FET Prep Week 11: Possible COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Postpone Fertility Treatment?, & The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide

FET Prep Week 12: Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Roundtable on COVID-19

FET Prep Week 13: FET Scheduled After Clinic Partially Reopened

FET Prep Week 14: Plans Changed, Flying Solo, & Confusing Med Instructions

FET Prep Week 15: Should This be Happening? | To Lovenox, or Not to Lovenox, that is the question. | High Anxiety from Methylfolate

FET Prep Week 16: Injections Started | Approved for Lovenox | New Vitamins to Reduce Anxiety

FET Prep Week 17: Suppression Check Disappointment | The Downsides of Fertility Meds

FET Prep Week 18: Altered Plans Due to Cyst | On Different Pages with Spouse

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

Countdown Until FET: 25 days (as of 07-05-2020)

 

FET Prep (6)

 

If you remember from my previous post I talked about how my uterine lining was half the size my clinic needs it to be in order for them to do a transfer. When it comes to frozen embryo transfers it’s all about the lining. My lining needs to be 8mm for the transfer but mine was half that at 4mm last week, and when I did a follow up ultrasound it had risen to 6mm (so still not what they need). I’ve always been a slow responder with the medicine they give me, even on higher doses. 

After I completed that followup ultrasound I decided to send off a message to my clinic that I completed both the ultrasound and the blood test and that they should be receiving the results soon. I like to send these messages to ensure they keep an eye out for the results, which they need ASAP from my STAT same-day tests. They need those same-day test results because it will determine whether I need to continue with my medication that night or if I need to change all my meds right away. It all depends on how my body reacts to the medicine and these tests are like a current snapshot of what my body is actually doing. 

I sent off the message to my clinic, then I noticed that the backup nurse I spoke with last week about starting my new meds had left me a message in the patient portal. I didn’t realize she would send me a message after we spoke. Last week she told me to continue with my Estrace three times daily, continue Lupron at 5 units, and then to also add in vaginal Endometrin at bedtime to help with my lining. Or so that’s what I thought she had said. 

But as I was now reading this message she sent me timestamped right after we spoke, it was saying something different. But this message said nothing about Endometrin being taken vaginally, instead it said “start taking Estrace vaginally at bedtime.” Take Estrace vaginally? She must have mistakenly typed Estrace when she meant Endometrin, right? I was already on Estrace three times daily but I was taking it orally. The only medicine I have that is prescribed as a vaginal suppository was Endometrin. It stands to reason that she made a mistake with her typing.

I sent off a message to my clinic to double check on whether I was supposed to be taking Estrace or Endometrin vaginally at bedtime. The backup nurse didn’t respond this time, instead it was my regular nurse. These were her first two words of her message, “Oh, no…” And with those two words a lightning bolt of realization hit me, I had been taking the completely wrong medicine for five whole days.

My nurse called me shortly after speaking with the doctor about the situation. I told her, “I could have bet my life that she told me on the phone to take Endometrin and not Estrace.” I was certain of this. My regular nurse told me that we would need to cancel my frozen embryo transfer completely because with the fourth monitoring tests they could see my body was beginning to ovulate. “The Endometrin put you into an ovulatory phase, which is not where we want you right now. It changes the lining. I’m so sorry Julie. I guess this transfer just wasn’t meant to be.” 

Somehow when she said “this transfer just wasn’t meant to be” it actually helped me to hear that. My uterine lining had never measured what they wanted it to be at any point during the monitoring appointments. That fact, in and of itself, is enough to cancel a transfer. Now add in a major medication mistake, well it was the final nail in the coffin. It was over.

So now what? My nurse spoke with my doctor and relayed a new game plan. Although this transfer had been cancelled, they wanted me to restart a new FET cycle right away. I am now starting all over with the birth control pill and Lupron. But instead of the same protocol they have me taking double the dose of Lupron. I’ll be taking 10 units of Lupron twice daily, instead of once daily. I don’t recall ever being on this high a dose of Lupron before with my egg retrievals. 

That same day I learned my FET was cancelled I could feel the anger growing inside me about the situation. I could have sworn the backup nurse had told me Endometrin, not Estrace, and now here I am with a cancelled FET. This has to be her fault right? Maybe it would have been cancelled anyway with my thin lining but maybe not. I remembered that I had wrote down notes as she was talking to me. Maybe if I could find that note I could prove that she did in fact tell me the wrong thing. I remembered I had taken out the trash that morning, with the note inside. There was no way I could prove it.

But then I remembered that I had taken a picture of my note of instructions. I occasionally do this in case I need to refer to my notes later. Well I found the note in my phone’s photos. As I was writing the note I had just woken up and was trying to decipher the backup nurses’ rapid-fire instructions and test results. This note is a hot mess. I had to ask her multiple times to repeat herself because she was talking so damn fast. Why the hell did I have to talk to a backup nurse during a pivotal time in my medication changes? But as you can see in the photo of my note, it turns out that she did tell me Estrace, not Endometrin.

 

IMG_20200626_210501

 

Somehow my sleepy, confused brain was certain she told me Endometrin. So it wasn’t her ‘fault’ after all. My anger that I had been directing towards the backup nurse dissipated and I actually felt relief that it wasn’t her fault. The relief was knowing that my clinic didn’t tell me the wrong thing. If they told me the wrong thing I think I would have carried that anger longer. 

So did that mean it was my ‘fault’ that my FET was cancelled? I remembered my regular nurse’s reassuring and empathetic words that helped me to process the bad news, “it just wasn’t meant to be.” My uterine lining had been too thin this whole time, and it most likely was going to get cancelled anyway. My body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to be doing even when I was taking all the medicine as they were telling me to. My FET was already postponed even before my medication mistake. I decided to forgive myself because all signs were pointing to a cancelled FET anyway.

I was dreading having to reorder my medications to start a new FET cycle. I was only part of the way through my cycle and hadn’t even started my PIO injections, so I only needed to reorder Lupron and Estrace. In total I had to pay $592, which was better than I was expecting. I was thinking it would be double that. I’m now focusing on my new FET cycle that I’ve already started. My new tentative transfer date is July 30th. 

 

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

FET Prep Week 19: Facepalm and Panic Moment | Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests | 3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

This week sucked, not gonna lie. I’m concerned about flying to my clinic in Seattle during COVID. On top of that I found out my hotel is close to the CHOP protest site, which at this time I’m writing has seen three shootings. The police have vacated their own precinct due to the building tensions there. Things have escalated just this week down there. Meanwhile back in Alaska, I got some not so great news with my 3rd monitoring appointment. I felt ‘all the feels’ this week, that’s for sure. 

 

Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts

FET Prep Week 1: 3.5 months until FET

FET Prep Week 2: Supplements, WTF Email, & Increased AMH Level

FET Prep Week 3: You say Future Tripping, I say Future Planning

FET Prep Week 4: Bad News from SIS Test

FET Prep Week 5: Surgery, Depression & Trip to Nevada

FET Prep Week 6: Relax! You’re on Vacation.

FET Prep Week 7: Food Plan, Medical Debt,  Post-op Follow-up, & Imagining Motherhood

FET Prep Week 8: Migraines & Some Good News

FET Prep Week 9: A Tough Decision

FET Prep Week 10: Down-Regulation Started, Infertility Group, Coronavirus Concerns

FET Prep Week 11: Possible COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, Postpone Fertility Treatment?, & The Skyrocketing Cost of Leuprolide

FET Prep Week 12: Clinic Says “No FET” due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Digital Roundtable on COVID-19

FET Prep Week 13: FET Scheduled After Clinic Partially Reopened

FET Prep Week 14: Plans Changed, Flying Solo, & Confusing Med Instructions

FET Prep Week 15: Should This be Happening? | To Lovenox, or Not to Lovenox, that is the question. | High Anxiety from Methylfolate

FET Prep Week 16: Injections Started | Approved for Lovenox | New Vitamins to Reduce Anxiety

FET Prep Week 17: Suppression Check Disappointment | The Downsides of Fertility Meds

FET Prep Week 18: Altered Plans Due to Cyst | On Different Pages with Spouse

Countdown Until FET: ? days (as of 6-28-2020)

 

FET Prep (5)

 

Facepalm and Panic Moment

The other day I went to visit my Mom who lives about an hour away from me. My brother got there shortly after me and let me know I had a flat tire. Great, I thought. But luckily he offered to change it. Not too long after he told me this my phone alarm went off with the label “Lupron 7:00pm.” I brought my Lupron medication with me so I could inject it at Mom’s while I visited. One problem, I had no syringes to inject them with because I had forgotten them at home. Flat tire plus no syringes equals instant ‘panic mode!’ 

My brother was able to quickly put the battery in the other car I have in storage at Mom’s house. I would drive home in my backup car while he worked on fixing the tire on the one I drove to Mom’s. I started gathering my things and ran out to the car. But I forgot something, my Lupron! I was so frantic to get home in time that I almost forgot my Lupron sitting in Mom’s fridge. I realized it at the last minute, grabbed it, and told my Mom while laughing, “My s***’s all f***ed up.” At least I was able to find the humor during the chaotic situation. Murphy’s Law, am I right? Now picture yours truly speeding down the highway like a madwoman (highly illegal, I know). I made it home in about 40 minutes, when it would normally take me an hour for that drive. So I was a little late for my injection, but I could have been really late had I not had my brother’s help. 

 

Treatment During COVID & Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protests

You may have read in one of my earlier posts that I was doing a ‘digital detox’ to help reduce stress before my embryo transfer. I decided that my digital detox would consist of avoiding two things: the news and social media. With the exception of briefly checking my social media once to see if I won an IVF grant, I’ve been able to cut out social media. As far as exposure to news, I do not put it on or seek it out. But recently I decided to do a Google search of traveling to Seattle, with the intent of finding out if there were specific COVID instructions travelers needed to follow.

I wanted to know if I need to self-quarantine while there in Seattle, like travelers have to do upon arrival to Anchorage right now. While I was looking up the guidelines for travel there was also a link about Seattle’s CHOP. “‘CHOP’ what is that?” I thought. I decided to click on it, since it seemed to be related to traveling to Seattle right now. As you may have already heard, CHOP stands for Capital Hill Occupied Protest, also known as CHAZ, which stands for Capital HIll Autonomous Zone. The police precinct was apparently vandalized and vacated by all police due to safety concerns with protesters who took over six blocks and declared it autonomous from police. There have been several shootings there and one death so far.

I’m not going to delve into the politics of the situation, if you are curious you could just do a search of Seattle’s CHOP protests and learn more. But the reason I bring all of this up is that my hotel I have booked is only blocks away from this protest site. I am highly concerned about their perimeter expanding or more violence occurring once police try to take back their station and the protesters fight back for their “police-free” zone.

I’m considering getting a different hotel, which is unfortunate because I really felt comfortable and safe at that hotel the last time I was there. If I change hotels I would need to do it soon since I will be in Seattle in less than one week, which doesn’t give me much time to plan. On top of that I am concerned about traveling during COVID. So it’s stress on top of stress while doing fertility treatment. I need to pull out all the stops on finding my zen despite the world seemingly crashing all around me. I’ve been dealing with internal stress from infertility and now I have to cope with the external stressors of COVID and CHOP. These are crazy times and I think everyone is in the same boat with really needing to focus on finding balance and reducing stress in healthy ways.

 

3rd Monitoring Appointment Results

Bad news. Yes, just when I think everything is lined up and I am good to go with my transfer I find out that my body isn’t quite ready yet. On June 26th I had my third monitoring appointment where I did my repeat ultrasound and bloodwork. The one good thing about what they saw this time is that my cyst has gotten a lot smaller, although I forgot to ask how big it was measuring now. For this ultrasound, which was supposed to be my last one before I was to get on the flight to my clinic, as it turns out it showed that my uterine lining is not as thick as they need it to be for my transfer. They said my lining should have been measuring at 8mm. My lining was half that, at 4mm. 

My estrogen levels are also too low. Previously my estrogen levels were double the level they were supposed to be, but now they are too low. Come on now, give a girl a break already! So my estrogen level for this third monitoring appointment was measured at 127.8 pg/mL when it needs to be 150 pg/mL for them to approve me to come to the clinic for my transfer. They advised me to do another (yes, another) monitoring appointment. So I will be doing my fourth monitoring ultrasound and bloodwork on June 30th. I asked my nurse if it was possible that I would be ready on the 30th and if I could keep my flight and hotel dates. But she said, “Most likely not. I would wait until we let you know for sure that you are good to go.” She also said that I will tentatively be on the schedule for my FET for July 6th, but she emphasized that it is not a for sure date at this point.

 

IMG_20200626_134656

Hospital staff blew out my vein during blood draw to check my estrogen levels. 

 

I spent that afternoon canceling my hotel and waiting for a call back from the airlines (2 hour wait time by the way) to cancel my flight. I knew this delay in treatment was a possibility, especially since each treatment I’ve done in the past were also delayed, but this time it kind of hit differently. I’ve been anticipating this transfer for so long and I’m starting to wonder if they will cancel my transfer completely for this cycle. 

I’ve never done an FET before so I don’t know what to expect. But based on what some other women have mentioned in their infertility blogs, a canceled FET can happen if the uterine lining is too thin and it doesn’t reach the thickness needed while on all of the medication they provide. My nurse advised me to start Endometrin (progesterone), and to continue with my Lupron 5 unit dose nightly as well as continue my Estrace (estrogen) three times daily. 

As far as my symptoms it really varies day to day. Some days I am pretty much worthless with all-day nausea. On those days I’ve been binge watching 90 Day Fiance, which by the way is a perfect distraction from thinking about fertility treatment. There’s so much conflict and drama in that show you’ll forget about your own problems and say to yourself, “My life is going swimmingly compared to these people.” My nausea was so bad one day that I threw up six times in one morning, but I haven’t thrown up since. 

I’ve also been dealing with headaches, what’s new right? But surprisingly when I eat a meal, drink plenty of water, and occasionally take a Tylenol this has helped keep these headaches from turning into full-blown migraines. I haven’t needed to take my migraine medicine in quite a while, which I’m trying to avoid anyway because if it’s not recommended during pregnancy then I want to avoid it also during my fertility treatment. The only time I would reconsider taking my migraine medicine during this time is if it is so bad that it would otherwise put me in the ER. Thank God I haven’t had one of those in a while. 

As far as the emotional side of my symptoms, well I’d describe it as having little control of my emotions. In the beginning of my suppression phase the medicine I was on made me feel incredibly agitated. But now I’m on different meds and I am feeling more weepy. I cry easily but I don’t cry for long. For example when I see someone crying on TV, I will be crying with them. I cried when I thought about the dishes in the sink. And my personal favorite, I cried because I thought my dog looked cute. Yes, I was so moved by his cuteness it brought me to tears. 

I’ve also had sleepless nights where I toss and turn, but also an equal amount of nights where I get plenty of rest. My physical symptoms and emotional symptoms vary a lot each day. I’m definitely in the ‘sad panda’ phase. I was getting so excited about my transfer date that was coming up on July 2nd, but now everything is up in the air and I don’t know when it will be. It all comes down to whether my body decides to adjust to the medicine I’m on or not.

If my FET gets cancelled due to my lining not being thick enough or my estrogen level not getting higher, I will have essentially wasted $1500 on medication and monitoring costs. That will be a tough thing to deal with. But I suppose another way to look at it is to think, “At least my clinic is being cautious which may help prevent a failed transfer or miscarriage.” There is another part of me that is angry that my clinic can’t seem to figure out the correct dosage for me to be on. How is it that they consistently miss the mark each time? They know I’m a poor responder and slow responder to medicine, so why haven’t they changed their approach. But then again I have zero medical training with reproductive technology, so what the hell do I know.

I’ve heard some women who are poor responders to high doses of IVF meds have tried alternative methods. Some of those alternatives include mini-IVF as well as IVF that follows a woman’s natural cycle. Perhaps if this upcoming transfer does not work out I will look into these options more. I plan on asking my clinic to print off all of my medical records. I want to be able to bring my records to a different clinic in the future and show them everything we’ve tried already. That way I don’t waste any time or money doing the typical high-dose IVF treatments when it does not seem to be as successful as they were hoping. It could also be a matter of a certain medicine I’m on or dosage. Something has to give. 

At this point I am not feeling that optimistic. I am still hopeful though, which I think is different from having optimism. I hope things go well and this transfer works, but I don’t feel optimistic about the outcome at this point. It’s just how I feel. Who knows, maybe my uterine lining will thicken before I run out of my meds, and I could still do my FET this cycle.

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