Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The day after egg retrieval

Woo-hoo! The nurse just called and I have five embryos! During the egg retrieval process, they were able to harvest seven eggs. Six were mature, and five fertilized. I know this is no guarantee that the five will continue to develop in the next day or so. I have braced myself for bad news throughout the process, and will continue to do so. But I've also learned to celebrate the small victories, or in this case, the microscopic victories.

The retrieval process wasn't bad at all. The sedation I got was somewhere in between having my wisdom teeth removed and the laparoscopy I had in May. I wasn't nauseated when I woke up, just a little out of it. When I got home I was famished, because you're not allowed to eat after midnight when having surgery. I downed a Cup O Noodles and a Darvocet, because I was experiencing a little cramping. The Darvocet ended up making me nauseated, and I battled that for about an hour before the queasiness subsided.

My first progesterone shot is tonight. A bit nervous, but I feel like I'm in the home stretch.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and thirteen

The last week has been a blur of belly shots (not the good kind) and blood draws and ultrasounds. Thankfully, last night I got the O.K. from my clinic and my husband gave me the trigger shot. I highly recommend icing the fanny with an ice pack before injection. I hardly felt mine.

I'm feeling some of the side effects today of that shot: major bloating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety. Of course, most of those symptoms probably also have to do with the fact I'm having my egg retrieval tomorrow morning. I'm worried about feeling sick when I come out of anesthesia. I'm also more nervous about how many eggs they'll find, and the quality of those eggs. The last time I came out of anesthesia (after my laparoscopy) my husband had bad news...I had stage four endometriosis. I hope he has better news for me this time around.

I'm thinking a lot of my mother today. By thinking of her, I feel closer to her.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day seven

I have six follicles now. My visit to the clinic today showed my estradiol levels doubled since Sunday, which the nurse was quite happy about. It looks like I'll be given the trigger shot on Saturday, with egg retrieval on Monday. Of course, things could change...but that's how it looks now.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day six

This is how I look now. But without the smile on my face.

I spent most of the day napping. I didn't even bother to put on a bra.

I didn't have to go into the clinic today for blood work or an ultrasound, which was a plus. But I have to go in tomorrow.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day five

There's something so empowering--after spending month after month feeling helplessly infertile--about injecting your body with hormones and watching your body respond accordingly.

During my check up this morning, the ultrasound showed that I now have four follicles maturing at a good rate, at least that's what I think the nurse was telling me. I get so nervous when I'm there that a lot of what is said goes in one ear and out the other. The nurse called me later to say my estradiol level is also where it should be. I don't have to come in to the clinic again until Tuesday. Woo-hoo!

My belly is as large as it's ever been. Even larger than right after I had my laparoscopy, and my stomach was filled with carbon dioxide. I'm wearing pants and shorts with drawstrings, and large shirts that won't accentuate my swollen belly.

Not complaining, though. I'm just thrilled that, so far (and knock wood) my body is responding properly to the hormones.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day four

I think I'm starting to feel the effects of the drugs I'm shooting up. My belly feels bloated and sore. I either feel very happy, or very tearful. And I have an amazing appetite. Not just seems to taste better. I went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant tonight, and I almost cried eating the spring rolls and Pad Thai--it tasted that good. That, and I cry at the drop of a hat these days.

I did all my own injections today. The key is using the frozen bag of blueberries to numb up the area of my belly that gets the injection. Then, I put the tip of the needle right on my skin. I close my eyes, and push the needle in. I open my eyes, push the plunger, and then close my eyes before I take the needle out. As long as I don't look at the needle going in or coming out, I'm O.K.

Tomorrow morning I go in for blood work and an ultrasound. Hope I don't pass out this time...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day three

I felt so much better today about everything. The injections this morning, performed by my husband, were not painful at all. My spirits were up the whole day, which I found surprising considering how most of what I've read about I.V.F makes it sound like you get very depressed and moody. Not so for me. At least so far.

The exciting part is that tonight I did my first injection on my own. I was very scared, shaking in fact. I practiced a few times on an orange, trying to get used to the sensation of the needle piercing the skin. About twenty minutes before I gave myself the injection, I took a bag of frozen blueberries from the freezer and placed it on my stomach. Once the area was numb, I swabbed it with an alcohol pad, and put the tip of the needle against my stomach. I closed my eyes, and pushed the tip in. Once the tip was in, I opened my eyes and pushed the rest of the needle into my skin. I pushed the plunger down so the medicine would go in. I then pulled it out and cleaned the area with alcohol.

I must say, I felt a bit high afterward. I am terrified of needles, and never believed I would be able to use one on myself. But I did. I looked fear dead in the eyes, and fear blinked. I feel so empowered now. A piece of cake!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day two

Today is my first full day of shots. My husband gave me an injection of Lupron on one side of my belly, and an injection of Gonal-F on the other side. It's not the pinch that bothers me. It really doesn't hurt that much. It's just the thought of the needle entering my body that troubles me. I have a phobia of needles--I always have. I can't watch medical shows on TV because they always seem to throw a shot without warning of someone getting their blood drawn. It makes my skin crawl.

And in that vein (pun intended) I had to go to the clinic to get my blood drawn. The lab was full of women like me, anxious to get the draw out of the way so they can get on with their day. I sat down, filled out the paperwork, and then stuck out my arm. It hurt! A lot! Getting my blood drawn never hurts, but this time it did. And then when the phlebotomist was finished, I heard her say, "Oh, no." She was supposed to draw two tubes, and only did one. She started digging around in the original vein for more blood, but it had already started to clot. I made the mistake of looking over at my arm during her hunt, and almost blacked out. In fact, after she drew blood using a second vein, I started sweating so profusely that she ran to get wet clothes for me. She told me to put my head down, and started fanning me with her clipboard. I felt like such a baby. But I couldn't help it. All that digging made me faint.

On the upside, my husband is being so very nice to me. He keeps saying, "You're my hero." I think I'm going to try and get a foot rub out of this.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day one

After a night of horrendous cramps, I finally got my period today. This morning, in fact. It is a doozey. I also had my first injection today, .2 cc of Lupron. I was so nervous, and my hands were shaking so badly, that my husband ended up giving me the shot. It pinched a bit...I definitely felt it going in. But once it was in it didn't hurt, and I didn't feel the medication go in at all. But I don't know how I'm going to be able to do it to myself. Just looking at the needle makes me feel faint.

I'm relieved the first shot is over. For me, the unknown is more frightening than any reality could ever be.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment at the clinic for a blood draw and an ultrasound. I also have to do two injections tomorrow morning, and one at night. Scary, but exciting. And empowering. I feel like I am literally taking a problem that has plagued my husband and me for two years in my own hands, and doing something about it. Very, very empowering.

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Country for Infertile Women

Last night my husband and I watched the movie No Country for Old Men. It was taut, violent, and thrilling to watch. There was not one extraneous scene.
And there was one scene in particular that caught my attention. The homicidal psychopath played by Javier Bardem gets shot in the leg. He can't go to a hospital for treatment, so he breaks into a pharmacy to get the medicine and supplies he needs to treat himself. He treats his wound in a motel room. At one point, he fills a syringe with some sort of drug, and injects himself. My husband and I squirmed as we watched. I then realized that I would be doing that exact same thing, injecting myself with a needle and syringe, three times a day!
It made my skin crawl, to be honest. I know it's not supposed to hurt, blah blah blah. But I have trouble ripping a bandage off my arm. I really don't know how I'm going to inject myself. I really don't. I'm very nervous.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Drugs, drugs, drugs!

My fertility drugs arrived by Fed Ex today. They were in a very large box with ice packs to keep them cool, although they don't need to be refrigerated. I opened the box immediately to make sure the drugs I needed were there. I've got Lupron, and Gonal-F, plus lots of extra syringes and alcohol swabs.

It's kind of a relief. I was worried that my period would start before the drugs could arrive. But now I feel covered, and should be able to start my first IVF cycle without too much trouble.

The weird thing is, the only place I have for everything to fit is on top of the bureau in the guest bedroom. It's the very bedroom where my mother slept when she stayed with us. And the bureau is where I kept all of my mother's medications and nutrition: the syringes, the methadone, the percocet, the pill crusher, the hydrogen peroxide, the Ensure. It's strange to see medications that may help life begin in the very same spot as the medications my mother used at the end of her life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The $12000 baby

My month of down time before I start my first IVF cycle is about to end. When it ends, the day I get my period, I start with the injections.

Now, my husband and I didn't try to get pregnant this month. But we didn't not try, either. I've been told I can't get pregnant the old-fashioned way, and if I do, it will probably be ectopic. Yet that hasn't stopped me from hoping against hope that I'm pregnant now and won't have to put myself through IVF.

So I looked up some stats online, and it really would be a miracle if I were. Meaning, it's really, really unlikely. I need to not expect it or even act like it's a possibility, because it's really not.

It's kind of a freeing thought, because then on my first day I can be excited to start a process that might end in pregnancy, instead of being disappointed (yet again) that I failed to conceive.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Some light reading

I've been reading a few first-person accounts of what IVF feels like. I'm most concerned about the emotional aspect. I'm afraid I'll go backwards in my grieving process. The two weeks after my mother died were the most emotionally painful I've ever experienced. The grief was so overwhelming that I had trouble functioning.

I'm doing better now, slowing returning to the life I had before my mother got sick. But I worry that the strong hormones I'll be injecting myself with will let all those terrible feelings of loss take over again.