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