THE BIRDS, THE BEES, AND… THE NEEDLES

January 5 – January 15, 2016

Shit just got real. I mean, the 3 IUIs were real, but suddenly the thought of starting IVF today was a slap of reality. Actually cutting a $5200 check this morning to pay for the IVF was the real slap of reality for me. This may be my last couple of weeks of not being pregnant. I arrived to the baby salesman’s office for my day 3 bloodwork and ultrasound on January 5th and proceed to take a number like as if I’m at the deli counter and wait to be called. Once again my arm meets the needles and my legs are up in the stirrups. Thankfully everything is good to go to proceed with our IVF journey.

My assigned nurse asks me if I have any plans to be out of town between now and January 20th. I tell her I actually had plans to go visit my college roommate this weekend who lives 7 hours away to finally meet her twin boys. The nurse tells me immediately that I will not be able to leave the local area at all during the IVF monitoring and I need to cancel my plans. I’ve said it before in previous posts, but I feel the need to remind you all of something very significant when it comes to infertility procedures. Fertility forces you to live in the present. There is no such thing as planning in advance, traveling, or maintaining a standard work schedule when it comes to fertility. For the third time, I cancel my plans to visit my best friend and her babies. I kid you not. This is literally the third time I’ve had to reschedule — thanks to my infertility procedures. I feel so guilty and like an awful friend for not having met the babies yet.

The evening of the 5th JM administers my first two injections —Gonal-F and Menopur— to kick off the ovary pumping hormones. The purpose of these meds were to begin stimulating follicle growth (aka. multiple eggs) from the ovaries. Something to note is that this process is the farthest thing from how your body naturally operates. As I’m sure you learned back in 5th grade health class, every month the woman matures one sometimes two eggs on one ovary. The way stimulated IVF works is that the meds produce multiple mature eggs on both ovaries. My doctor wants to see at least 12 follicles grow to maturity by the time I need to have them retrieved. See? Not normal for the human body to go through this. The baby businessman started me off with a mid-level amount for each injection because my estrogen levels were moderately low. Although the injections go into your abdomen area, I barely feel the needles at all. It’s relatively painless.

As the week went on, I went back to the baby businessman’s office every other day. This was to monitor my hormone levels and follicles growth. Each time I went to the office, the baby businessman sent me home with instructions to increase my medicine dosages.

Turns out I had to go in on the weekend for monitoring. Good thing I didn’t leave town to visit my college roommate. When I went in for my Saturday morning appointment —7:15am mind you— on January 9th, I asked the ultrasound technician if it’s normal for me to cry over everything. Clearly the meds were making me (excuse my lack of a better term)… hormonal. Everything made me shed tears. I’d watch a good performance on American Idol, I’d cry. I read a disturbing article in the paper how a man killed his mother, I cried. My husband would tell me how beautiful I am, I’d cry. I got caught in traffic which put me 5 minutes late to an appointment, I cried. It’s insane how much I was crying… over absolutely nothing. (Thank you waterproof mascara!) I never considered myself a hormonal person by any means, but these meds destroyed me and messed with my hormones.

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I got an evening call from my assigned nurse giving me my hormone levels and next instructions, she tells me my hormone levels doubled. NO WONDER WHY I’M CRYING OVER EVERYTHING. However, the doctor still wants me to increase my hormone meds even more. SERIOUSLY?!?!
I proceed to tell the nurse that I’m about to run out of meds because of how much they keep cranking up the amount. The nurse sends a prescription in to the pharmacy. Let me spare you the long story with that. Lets just say that cost me another $1700 out of pocket.

The week of the 11th I had morning blood and ultrasound monitoring appointments every. single. day. While I still had to continue my two egg-making hormone shots every day, I then had to tack on another injection called Cetrotide, to my morning routine. This med forces the eggs to stay in the follicle and prevents premature release (aka ovulation). This med did me in. My abdomen literally started bruising. (See the picture below.) Imagine having the amount of follicles I had growing. Seventeen to be exact. Each one was currently the size of 12-15mm, but needed to eventually get to 19-22mm. That’s nearly 1-inch each. Let me do the math for you. That’s nearly 17-inches that doesn’t normally take up space inside my body. My stomach was beyond swollen by Wednesday. I was so bloated, bruised, uncomfortable… and miserable. After every shot this week, I literally said to JM “This better work because I don’t think I can do this again.” I’m probably not doing the description of the word “miserable” and “discomfort” any justice at all to truly make you understand just how awful this experience was for me and my poor body.

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This week was a tough week. My supervisor at work wanted me to brief at a meeting this week, but I couldn’t give her a definitive answer on whether or not I could do it. I had no idea when my eggs would be ready for retrieval. It killed me that I couldn’t plan at all this week. Not for work. Not for my personal life.

Finally Thursday the 14th I was given instructions to take my last final injection —the ass-muscle injection called HCG or rather “the trigger shot.” This shot tells the ovaries exactly when to release the eggs. In 36 hours to be exact. When I had my morning monitoring appointment, the nurse drew a circle on my ass to help JM pinpoint exactly where he needed to inject the medicine. There is nothing glamorous about IVF.  We had to take the shot at exactly 8:30pm. Any sooner or any later would mess up the timing of my egg release and retrieval procedure I had scheduled for Saturday 16 January. Precision was crucial.

If you’re wondering if the ass-muscle shot hurt, the answer is “not at all.” Honestly, I couldn’t feel a thing – regardless of the fact that the needle was literally 2.5” long. Was I thankful to know this was my last injection? Absol-freakin-lutely! Friday I only had to take one medicine, which was an antibiotic to prevent infection from the egg retrieval procedure I’m going to have on Saturday.

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I went to bed Friday night with so many emotions. I had feelings of hope, fear, optimism, discomfort, but yet excitement all at the same time. At this point I was so uncomfortable and bloated. My stomach was now hanging over my pants. (See photo above.) Because egg retrieval is practically surgery, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink past midnight — which was totally fine because I didn’t have any more room in my body to fit another piece of food. I forced myself to go to bed early that night so that Saturday would seem like it was here sooner. I was so ready to get this IVF thing over with, but more importantly I wanted the eggs out of me and my body to return to normal. I said a prayer before I fell asleep and asked a very selfish request that if this round of IVF doesn’t get me pregnant, all I wanted were frozen embryos left over so that I wouldn’t have to put my body through this horrific process again.