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

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

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Ferry funsies.

 

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

 

 

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

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

(Entry written prior to posted date).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

“Oh I’m sorry…”

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

“Really?” her eyes would bug out.

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

 

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My clinic, Seattle Reproductive Medicine (SRM).

 

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

 

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

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

Written prior to posted date.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Day 5 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Poked, Prodded, & Pessimistic

Day 5 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Poked, Prodded, & Pessimistic

The title of my entry “Poked, Prodded, & Pessimistic” is pretty much a play-by-play of my day. I went and had my labs done today at my doctor’s office, then drove to my ultrasound appointment, and then finally got the news that my egg count doesn’t look too good. I only have five eggs and from what I hear the average is ten eggs. But I suppose it’s to be expected with low AMH levels. One of them is so enlarged they think I’m at risk of ovulating early. So she had me start Ganirelix right away to prevent my body from ovulating.

 

I brought my husband with me to my appointments today because they also needed his blood for the PGS testing through Natera. The Natera package arrived a little to late, so rather than my doctor sending out our blood now and it sitting at the airport over the weekend, she decided to wait until Monday. My nurse at Seattle Reproductive Medicine said they needed it by the weekend, well that’s not going to happen. Packages don’t get delivered and sent quickly from Alaska. I’m hoping it’s not a big deal, but I’m not sure since my nurse is out of the office until Monday. And if you are anything like me you constantly ask your nurse questions almost every other day. She is pretty much my IVF doula.

 

So from what I understand, you cannot increase the number of eggs in your reserve, because you are born with a set number of eggs. But I read recently that although the number of eggs you are dealing with is out of your control, you can somewhat increase the quality of your eggs. I still need to do more research on this. In a nutshell, it sounds like just being healthier will help. I will write a future article on improving egg quality once I familiarize myself with the information and putting it into practice. I’ve already started the path of trying to be healthier. I eat more salads, choose more vegetarian meal options, and try to avoid overeating.

 

I would suggest articles for further reading to this blog if I found any that are legitimate. I’ve been reading some pretty dubious tips and I feel proper research needs to be done. A lot of the articles I’m finding are edging on a snake-oil salesman vibe. I just don’t trust the advice I’m reading. Whenever you are researching products that tout improving fertility be very cautious. They might not make any difference and at worst they can decrease your goal of improved fertility. It’s a shame to see women so sold on the idea that this product will help, when in reality the infertility issue is completely unrelated. I’m sure there are legitimate and well-researched means of improving egg quality, but I feel that personally I need to learn more before I share anything on here. I’m going to speak with my doctor about improving my egg quality and write an article after I’ve done more research.

 

My doctor had me follow a basic treatment plan to watch my weight, take a prenatal, and also take methylated folate. So although this is probably the healthiest I’ve been eating in a while, my scale looks scarier and scarier each time I step on it. I’ve gained five pounds in five days. Yikes! But I heard this is fairly normal when going through the IVF process. “In online forums, women note anywhere from 3 pounds gained to 15 pounds gained prior to embryo transfer” (IVF Authority, 2018). Although I’m a little bloated and my scale hates me right now, I’m more concerned about my low egg count. My doctor told me I have a 30 – 50% chance of having a live birth.

 

Well despite my bleak outlook, I’ve been reading the phrase “it only takes one good egg” all over the online forums. I’m trying to tell myself that. I’ve also been telling myself I want to continue doing IVF as long as I can afford it and until all my eggs are gone. Sounds a bit dramatic, I know, but I’m pretty serious about that. Being able to afford more IVF is going to be the biggest challenge. But let’s hope that I won’t need more IVF rounds.

 

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Source:

IVF Authority. “IVF Weight Gain: Understanding the Causes, Symptoms and Weight Loss.” Retrieved on August 23, 2018 from https://www.ivfauthority.com/ivf-weight-gain/

 

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Day 4 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Shooting up Drugs & The Great Outdoors

Day 4 (Round 1 of IVF Stims): Shooting up Drugs & The Great Outdoors

“Okay, I’m ready to go shoot up some drugs” I said to my husband.

“What?” he gave a what the f**k expression.

“You know, my IVF medicine.”

“Oh.”

“What did you think I meant?” I laughed.

“I don’t know.”

 

So that’s what I did, I went home and shot up some drugs. But these are the best drugs you can find, these are IVF drugs. They grow your eggs so you can have a better shot at having a baby. For what I’m paying they better freaking be top notch drugs. So even though I said yesterday I wanted Kurtis to give me the medicine, I went ahead and did it on my own again today. He offered to help but I thought it would be quicker if I just do it, rather than wait for him. He asked me, “Okay, you ready?” I told him I was already done. I didn’t even need to watch the video with the Menopur. I probably won’t need to watch the video for the Follistim either next time.

 

Right now I have have my puppy sniffing and licking me. Now he is just staring at me. He does that, where he will stare for the longest time. It’s really creepy when he does this in the dark. He’s a cute little dog. A wild one. So wild that I decided to put him in his kennel while I did my injections. The past few times he got way too close as I was trying to carefully do my injections. So I recommend finding a place away from pets or any small children, so you can focus on doing your injection without getting bumped into. I don’t like standing to do the injections. I learned that sitting down is the easiest way for me to do them.

 

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Husband, Kurtis, picking blueberries.

 

Today we took a nice drive out to Girdwood and did some blueberry picking at our secret spot. There was a whole lot more this year. We didn’t even have to go very far at all, maybe about 20-30 feet away from the dirt road. There were so many more blueberries this year compared to the last time we went blueberry picking a few years back. It was nice not to hike a lot like we had to last time, because someone found our secret spot before and cleared all the berries.

 

“There’s something so amazing about being outside, getting some light exercise, and collecting nutrients from the earth that will help my body and hopefully my baby when I become pregnant.”

 

We were definitely in bear territory. We found two huge piles of bear scat. I had my bear spray with me just in case. I like to wear my bear bell on my backpack to make noise so they know we are there. Most bears are afraid of humans and just by you talking and making noise they will leave, not all the time though. Luckily we didn’t see any. Years ago on one trail we counted about six piles of bear scat, fresh ones! So today I made sure to ask Kurtis if they were fresh piles of scat and he said no.

 

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Bear scat. Yikes!

 

We got a good amount of blueberries, about half a large ziplock bag full of them. Blueberry pancakes anyone? We will probably go out again before I fly out of state for my egg retrieval. I didn’t want to do too much walking around the woods today. Don’t want to twist an ovary. No seriously, that’s a thing with IVF. I read in one of the IVF forums that some women were taking it easy and not doing exercise other than walking because their doctor said there is the risk of twisting an ovary. “If a woman exercises excessively and/or intensely while her ovaries are enlarged, this increases her risk of experiencing ovarian torsion, a painful problem in which the ovary twists in on itself. While ovarian torsion is rare, avoiding vigorous exercise during IVF treatment is a good way to prevent this from even becoming an issue” (Vermesh, 2014). It’s not like I do vigorous exercise anyway, but it’s good to know to be on the safe side.

 

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Our bag of blueberries we collected today.

 

So when I went out blueberry picking on the side of the mountain I was extra careful and told hubby I didn’t want to go hiking to far up. Luckily we hit the jackpot with all the blueberries near the road. It will be lots of good nutrition for me and hopefully improve my egg quality. Plus I’ll have extra berries to freeze for when I’m preggers and need some good nutrition too. There’s something so amazing about being outside, getting some light exercise, and collecting nutrients from the earth that will help my body and hopefully my baby when I become pregnant. I love blueberry picking, it makes me feel connected to the earth.

 

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Thank you for reading. Check out my other blog entries by clicking here. Don’t forget to check out my Contest page to see how you can win!

 

 

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Sources:

Vermesh, Michael. “In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Exercise Limitations During Treatment” September 15, 2014. https://www.center4fertility.com/blog/2014/09/15/in-vitro-fertilization-ivf-exercise-148922

 

 

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