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

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

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Oh I’m sorry…”

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

“Really?” her eyes would bug out.

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

 

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My clinic, Seattle Reproductive Medicine (SRM).

 

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

 

Thank you for reading.

Check out my other blog entries by clicking here for the archives page.

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Day 1 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Excited & Nervous

Day 1 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Excited & Nervous

I feel like I had to wait forever to get to the point of starting my first round of IVF, in reality it has only been about five months from the decision to start. Today my husband stuck me with both Follistim (300) and Menopur (150). I wanted him to do it the first time so I can get a sense of how it would feel. I’d like to practice doing it myself either tomorrow or the next day, because I will be out of state for the egg retrieval while hubby works back home.

Before we got started with the injections for the first time ever, I stood in front of my big FedEx box of medication and said my prayer of positivity, which came straight from my heart,  “Mama-say mama-sa mama-ko-sa. Mama-say mama-sa mama-ko-sa….Hey Macarena! Ahhhaay!” I smiled and raised my hands in gratitude.

My husband’s schedule is already locked in for the year, so he wasn’t able to come down with me for the retrieval. My little bum of a cyst on my ovary threw off our plans we had set to take this time off together. For some reason I was panicking thinking that we’d have to postpone IVF for another year until he can get more time off. But my nurse out of state told me that he could just come down before me and freeze his sperm and we can still stay on track for the year. What a relief! Although it’s disappointing he cannot be there with me for the retrieval, I am so thankful my amazing Mom will be by my side to help. My clinic requires someone to help me after the surgery. Even though I will be doing medical appointments daily, I’d like to start looking into some fun things she and I can do while we are there. I need to fly out of state again in about a month (or whenever I can afford it) so they can do the transfer of the frozen embryo (FET), if I am lucky enough to have an embryo to transfer. I think they said I can do this one on the weekend, so hopefully I can have my husband with me.

My sonographer said it best, “Let’s hope they have a good Easter Egg hunt with you.” That’s the hardest I laughed in my recent appointments.

Before we got started with the injections for the first time ever, I stood in front of my big FedEx box of medication and said my prayer of positivity, which came straight from my heart,  “Mama-say mama-sa mama-ko-sa. Mama-say mama-sa mama-ko-sa….Hey Macarena! Ahhhaay!” I smiled and raised my hands in gratitude. My husband made his usual weirded out face when he thinks I’m crazy. He’s used to this kind of stuff by now. He pulled up a chair to the kitchen counter and we both worked together on learning how to do the medications.

 

The two injections I took today were not as painful as I imagined they would be. The needles are actually thin and somewhat short so I didn’t feel much pain. The Follistim had some residual stinging afterwards but not too bad. Probably even less pain than all these friggin’ blood draws I’ve been doing lately. My veins in my arm are looking pretty spotty and sad. But one trick I learned when I have to do my labs is to run quickly up the multiple flights of stairs to get my blood flowing. That makes it easier for them to find a good vein, even if I haven’t had much water yet that morning.

 

I’m so happy to be starting my stims. If you haven’t done IVF before and you are about to start, just focus on following along with the individual steps in the videos from your clinic. Take it one step at a time. I think once I’m done with this round of IVF I’ll write up a how-to guide or something similar to help others. But at this point in time I really don’t have much advice, I’m a newbie to this game. My sonographer said it best, “Let’s hope they have a good Easter Egg hunt with you.” That’s the hardest I laughed in my recent appointments. I loved that! So here’s to my upcoming Easter Egg Hunt. Hopefully they can get some good eggs for my retrieval. Thanks for reading and good luck to you wherever you are in your fertility journey.

 

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40 Years Ago First IVF Baby Born

40 years of IVF

Image: Photo of Louise Brown, the First Baby Born Using In Vitro Fertilization from Metro.co.uk

Forty years ago the first IVF Baby was born, her name is Louise Brown. The ground-breaking historic event has lead to many advances with the science, and many more to come. For women like myself, this gives us hope of creating a family. It’s easy to connect with other women who have fertility issues whenever I read their blog articles or see their comments in the infertility forums. They are saying exactly what I’m feeling or damn near close to it.  But when I read articles relating to the science of IVF itself I feel a greater sense of unity with humankind. There is a whole science devoted to helping others achieve their dream of having a child of their own, and that’s pretty amazing. You feel less alone in this when you know there are so many people involved in your journey including doctors, nurses, nurse assistants, embryologists, anesthesiologists, geneticists, radiologists, medical receptionists, IVF grant foundations, miscarriage support group members, family, friends, co-workers, and members in the online infertility community. When you step out of yourself and look at the bigger picture there is a huge number of people who are cheering you on and wish for the future where you can hold your precious baby in your arms one day.

 

For almost one and half years I kept my struggle to myself. I only told a few people in my family. But having four miscarriages while working and missing a lot of work because of it, led to people wondering what was up. Other family and friends would wonder why I wasn’t showing up to holiday events or even a simple evening of a dinner out with friends. Being around other women who could easily get pregnant and complained about their children created a bitterness in me that was very hard to get over. In my job I work with at-risk youth, including pregnant teens who smoke and use other drugs including meth. Here I was surrounded by the many women who took for granted the process of pregnancy, including my own friends and family who openly complained about parenthood often on social media. It took time to seperate myself from that bitterness. But time itself wasn’t the only method of healing, it also took action on my part. I began to speak about what I was going through, a little at a time, one person at a time.

 

I started with close family, then extended family, friends, and then co-workers. The more I talked about it the more people shared their own stories too. I was surprised to learn that most of the people in my life had experienced infertility or miscarriages at some point in their life. I also learned a few had even underwent IVF. Sometimes I think the idea of infertility being a stigma is too simplistic an explanation for why women are not more open about infertility. I think it’s probably more about protecting our hearts from more pain. But what if that pain could be alleviated the more we share our stories and learn from those who have walked the same path as us? For me, I felt incredibly ill keeping quiet about my struggle. Speaking up helped to unburden myself and to seek solutions instead of wallowing in the pain. It cleared my head and made me determined to push forward and stop wasting time. There were of course a handful of people who did not understand or who gave me poor advice. Even if what they were saying was incorrect medically speaking you have to consider the fact that they are trying to be helpful. Sometimes it’s better to look at the bigger picture of people’s intentions to be helpful rather than dissecting whether what they are saying is medically sound. Honestly I expected way too much from people who did not understand my situation. You will save yourself a lot of time and pain by deciding your treatment plan with your doctor, as opposed to seeking medical advice from friends and family who don’t know the nitty gritty of your specific and unique medical circumstances. This does not mean that I don’t talk about my treatment plan, it just means I don’t seek medical advice from those who are not qualified. I switched from saying with friends/family, “I don’t know what to do now” to instead, “I’m excited to be starting X treatment, because it will improve my chances of pregnancy.” By doing this you can still get the support you seek rather than than a plethora of advice, which ranges from possibly helpful, occasionally superstitious, to downright unhealthy and absurd. Save yourself the head-spinning trouble and speak with your medical team about a treatment plan.

 

If my suppression check goes well I will be starting my first injections for IVF in less than two weeks! I’ve been telling everyone this flight out of state to receive IVF treatment is like Disney World times ten. I am elated and filled with anticipation for our future. There are many things that are out of my control, but the one thing I can control is what I do today to move one step closer to our goal of having a child. History was made 40 years ago with the first IVF baby, maybe we can be parents to the growing number of millions of babies born through IVF. Wouldn’t that be something?

Source: “At least 8 million IVF babies born in 40 years since historic first from” CNN.com

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