The title says it all. My suppression check did not go as hoped for and at this point, I really don’t know when I will be traveling for my frozen embryo transfer. Both the ultrasound and blood test were not good. My body is not responding properly to the medication. At this point my body is calling the shots, including what happens next. It all comes down to this weekend. If I don’t respond to the meds within the next few days, my FET could be cancelled.
Catch-up on Previous FET Prep Posts
Countdown Until FET: 18 days (as of 6-14-2020)
Suppression Check Disappointment
Pre-Suppression Check Concerns
According to the calendar that my clinic gave me, I should start bleeding 2-5 days after stopping my birth control pill. Well I’m on day 4 and still nothing. I have my suppression check tomorrow and I don’t know what this means if I don’t have any bleeding by then. Does this mean the suppression check will be cancelled? Or can I still proceed? Does this mean my FET timeline will be pushed out further? I decided to email my nurse and ask “What happens if I don’t have any bleeding by tomorrow morning’s suppression check?” Thankfully she responded within the hour and said not to worry, and to continue with the suppression check tomorrow. Phew! I feel better knowing I at least don’t have to make any last minute changes to my suppression check appointment. This appointment is a big deal. It will determine whether my body is responding to the medication and let me know if I have any cysts and that my uterine lining looks okay.
The Suppression Check
I went into my suppression check ultrasound, knowing full well that my body may not be where they want it to be in order to move on with my FET. I’ve learned over these years to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Well, the ‘worst’ decided to make an appearance at my Suppression Check. The ultrasound tech said everything was looking good so far. It was painful at times as she moved the wand around. Then she asked me, “Do you have endometriosis?” I was kind of surprised by this question because I’ve never been asked this before over my countless number of ultrasound visits over the years. “Not that I’m aware of, no one has ever told me that.”
As if getting a suppression check isn’t stressful enough, do I also need to be concerned that I’ve developed a completely new diagnosis of endometriosis? “I’ve had scarring and needed surgeries in the past, but those were from miscarriages” I told her. I decided not to ask her whether she thought I had endometriosis because I would prefer hearing this from my doctor. In the past I probably would have questioned my ultrasound tech endlessly about everything they see and what they think that meant, but I’ve learned over time that it’s best to let the doctor view the images and disseminate everything for you. Some ultrasound techs are eerily silent and divulge no inklings of anything to you. It’s strange how some of them have complete poker faces. But other ultrasound techs will be very communicative about what they see and what they think might be going on. They always say that the doctor will be the one to make the determination.
According to this ultrasound tech, I did in fact have a big cyst at 18mm. I was told by my clinic’s nurse that if I had a cyst that measured over 10mm I would need to go right away to get same-day blood results for my estrogen levels. Right after my disappointing suppression check ultrasound, I drove to the hospital. The receptionist at my regular OBGYN could not guarantee same-day blood results that my out-of-state fertility clinic needs, so they recommended I go to the hospital’s lab for my blood draw. I had called the previous week and asked the hospital’s lab staff if they were able to provide same-day results and they reassured me they would.
When I got to the hospital they screened me at the front door, due to covid restrictions. They asked me if I had an appointment and I explained that I had a blood draw I needed to do. She redirected me to another building that was several blocks away, because they had recently moved their lab. I had asked several people throughout the other building where the lab was and they did not know for sure. So after meandering around a while I finally found it. Not only was their office full of people (social distancing at least), but also there was a line of people outside the door too.
I had to take a ticket number and wait outside. I didn’t see any staff at the front desk the multiple times I popped my head in as people filed out. I was nervous wondering if they would call the number and not realize that I was outside the office, because I didn’t see any staff calling numbers outside the office. I ended up waiting about an 1.5 hours. Another lady who was a patient came after me asked everyone what their numbers were who were standing outside the office. She was the unofficial leader of us ‘outside the office people’ and would occasionally pop her head in to ask the staff where they were at with the numbers. She must have went right up to the blood draw rooms to ask the staff because the entire time I was there I never saw anyone at the front desk. It was nice that she did this because I was stressing about when they would call me or if my number would be missed. It was so crowded inside I would have been breaking social distancing if I stood inside the office.
Finally a staff member came outside and asked me what my number was and said, “You’re up.” Finally, I thought. I had been standing the whole time, because I wasn’t too keen on sitting on the floor like other people were doing. Mostly because I was too nervous to sit down. I was nervous about what these results would end up being. They said they would fax over my results and my doctor’s office would be in touch with me.
Hours and hours went by, but still no call from my clinic. I emailed my nurse and she said they haven’t faxed the results yet. Then I called the hospital lab and asked them if they faxed it, they said they did. But by the time I messaged my clinic to let them know they should be receiving the fax soon it was already after hours. So much for “same-day” results. I was supposed to get same-day results because it would determine whether I would start my estrace medicine the following morning. I scheduled my ultrasound first thing in the morning to avoid this scenario, but I think because the line was so long at the lab it pushed out the time they were able to get my results. Not to mention the time difference from here to my clinic out of state probably didn’t help matters. My nurse had told me earlier that this might happen and that she would check first thing in the morning for any faxes if it arrived after hours. So for now I have to wait, with no idea what medicine I will be on for tomorrow.
Suppression Check Results
The morning after my suppression check I had just opened my eyes to reach for my phone and check my emails like I usually do each morning. By sheer coincidence that was the exact moment my nurse called me. I almost didn’t pick it up because it said “Unknown Caller” and I’ve had some scam callers recently that I’ve been screening my calls to avoid.
A while back I had a funny interaction with a phone scammer. At that time I was expecting a call back from my doctor, so I knew that my doc’s number might show up as “Unknown Caller.” When my phone rang and I answered weirdly enough the guy on the phone sounded just like my doctor. Here’s how it played out:
“Hi how are you?” He had the same sing-songy greeting just like my doctor normally does.
“I’m doing good. How are my results?” I said.
“Good, well I’m happy to announce you won the Publisher’s Clearing House prize!”
“What?” At this point I was thoroughly confused.
“That’s right you won!” he laughed excitedly, probably thinking he hooked a sucker.
“Oh, I thought you were someone else” I said disappointed.
When I realized he was a scammer I didn’t yell at him or say anything rude, I just kind of sat there with the phone to my ear curious to hear what he would say next, especially considering the fact that I did not enter a Publisher Clearing House sweepstakes. After a long pause he decided to hang up on me. He’s probably thinking, “Who gets disappointed when Publisher’s Clearing House calls?” This girl does apparently.
Anyway, so let’s get back to my early morning phone call from my nurse with my suppression check results. She let me know that my estrogen level was at 130 and that it should be no more than 60-something, I didn’t retain the exact number because I just woke up. She asked if my period started yet. Nope, nadda. She then asked me how I feel about changing my travel plans and I let her know I could probably get a credit on my plane ticket for future travel, since I already had to do this with Kurtis’ ticket. She let me know if I don’t get my period by Monday I may need to adjust my travel plans.
“In the meantime keep taking your Lupron at 10 units and hold off on starting the Estrace. I’ll need to redo your calendar on Monday.” None of these last minute changes took me by surprise. With both of my egg retrievals I had to adjust my schedule because I was a “poor responder” to the medication. I was staying out-of-state near my clinic in Seattle for almost an entire month with my second egg retrieval because my eggs were growing at a painstakingly slow speed. So for my current FET procedure to be delayed, not too surprising for me. One possibility is I will need to cancel this FET and reorder all my medicine, which cost almost $1,000.
Later in the day my nurse messaged me and asked if I could arrange a follow-up suppression check on Monday. I called and scheduled it for their earliest slot in the morning at 8:45am. According to my order from my clinic, if my cyst is still over 10mm I will need to do a blood test for my estrogen level. At least now I have a plan for what to do next.
Part of me wondered if I could eat certain foods or something to get my menstrual cycle to start sooner so I can get rid of this cyst. After Googling this question it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of an assortment of old-wives tales on how to jump start a period. Everything from ginger, orange juice, coffee to sex. Why is it that each website has different suggestions for this? Probably because they are just as clueless as the rest of us. I think this is something that is largely out of anyone’s control and people are just grasping at straws for solutions. For now I will pray to the fertility gods for my period, doesn’t that sound confusing? Oddly enough, in my current situation it makes sense.
The Downsides of Fertility Meds
This week sucked, a lot. Although my anxiety has gone down these past few weeks, my irritability is in full swing. I don’t like feeling this way at all. It’s as if someone entirely different has taken my body over and I am just a witness to the emotions that bubble over. I have to get a lid on this. I got irritated with Kurtis over something minor, we were fine the next day after I explained that I thought I was being hormonal. After we patched things up the next day, I joked with him that I feel like I need to be in seclusion in a cabin or something for the remainder of my hormone treatments. He thought that was funny. I said it half jokingly but also half serious because I’m sure I’m not a joy to be living with at the moment.
On top of feeling irritable, I was in bed most of the day yesterday with a horrible migraine and feeling super nauseous. Although I was on this same medication for my egg retrievals in the past, it seems like this is affecting me more this time. Maybe I’m on a higher dosage or something, I can’t remember my past dosage. I decided to Google “Lupron side effects” and learned that Lupron is also used as chemotherapy. Wow, that explains why I feel like I want to puke 90% of the day. In hindsight I think I vaguely remember talking with my insurance company years ago about whether they cover the drug. They asked me if I was going to be taking it for oncological reasons or for infertility. I don’t think I understood the term oncological at the time, so I simply answered “for infertility.”
I had a sarcastic thought earlier today in regards to fertility treatments. If I were to write a Yelp review about it, the title would be “Would Not Recommend to Friends.” I know I would be saying the exact opposite if this works out and we finally have our precious little baby, but the process of getting to the baby really, truly sucks. It sucks emotionally, physically, and financially. Without a doubt it takes a toll on relationships. Both my husband and I have been through a lot, and I mean a lot, with this journey to have a baby.
Occasionally I will watch YouTube videos of other couples, sharing their infertility journey. Sometimes the ones that are overly enthusiastic and endlessly happy leave me scratching my head. Are they new to this or something? Because no one in those videos seem to be talking about the strain this puts on their relationship. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, come on now. Kurtis mentioned to me in the past that maybe those couples are doing that for the camera, and not talking about how they really feel to the world or even to each other. I tend to see more authenticity from other infertility bloggers compared to YouTube. Every once in a while I’ll come across a YouTuber who is telling it like it is. I always appreciate hearing their stories.
The way I physically feel right now has me questioning whether I will have the strength to do this again in the future. This process is not for the faint of heart. There’s a chance this FET will not work out. It could be a cancelled FET cycle (due to body not responding to meds), or implantation failure, or miscarriage. I need to be realistic, and mentally prepare myself for those possibilities and understand that I absolutely must take care of myself if it doesn’t work out. If this happens, I will grieve the loss and really focus on ways to build myself up and heal. Self-care would be so important then, like taking a nap, reading, listening to calming music, going for a walk, and talking to those in my local infertility group. I don’t see it as a negative thing to think of that possibility, I see it as planning ahead to take care of myself.
I would be shocked if this FET works and I become pregnant. I would be even more shocked if I made it to having a live-birth. That would be so surreal and incredibly amazing. The odds are certainly stacked against me, but at least I will know that I did everything I could. All I can do for now is just wait to hear back from my nurse on Monday on what my newly adjusted medication calendar will look like. Then I’ll need to change my flight and hotel dates around most likely. One step at a time is all anyone can do when they face obstacles.