IVF #1 – Cancelled.

Yeah, cancelled. A weird, strange turn of events and I’m a variety of emotions right now. Basically, what happened is, when I started the shots (follistim) I responded too well, and my estrogen shot up way too high, before my follicles had a chance to catch up and grow. Then it was a game of playing with my dose, and in doing so, they lowered it to bring down my estrogen to catch up with my follicles. The estrogen dropped, but it actually plummeted, so much so that even as my follicles grew, my estrogen never came back. I spoke to my actual doctor on the phone yesterday, and he said my ovaries are very sensitive, obviously, and next time, they would start me on a much lower dose and build it gradually.

My follicles grew, though. Yeah, they’ve grown. And I’ve been in to see them for ultrasounds..let’s see.. like 10 days in a row maybe? Something like that. And the past few days, the nurses were blown away by the amount of follicles. I had a total of somewhere between 60-80 eggs between both ovaries, though the amount of those maturing was probably more like 25-30. Either way, I was at high risk for OHSS, and they wanted to watch me so carefully. As of this morning, before I knew it would be cancelled, my biggest follie was 19 mm. So close. Because of that, I’m sore, crampy, slow, bloated, etc. Is it the worst pain I’ve ever felt? Not at all. But it’s enough so that lifting things is not a good idea, not to mention any sort of exercise. I had to actually wear sweatpants to work yesterday because regular pants were going to be too uncomfortable. That was just embarrassing – luckily it was a Friday, but still. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been late to work the last 10 days in a row, too. I’ve had people covering for me. I’m pretty sure the whole school knows, as a teacher who shows up late to school every day for a week and a half gets pretty obvious. I’ve been getting up at 5, leaving the house at 6, waiting there at 6:30 to be the first in line for blood, then the ultrasounds, then speeding to work and getting there around 8:45. It’s been stressful, to say the least. My job had taken a back seat for sure. I was just putting in enough effort to make it through the day. And I’ve been emotionally distant at work, too. I’m well aware. And you know what? It would’ve been worth it. Definitely. If it wasn’t for the fact that my cycle was cancelled a day or two before trigger and then retrieval and I have to do the entire thing again from scratch next month.

And so yeah, I’m kind of pissed about that.

So now I’m on the pill. Ha. The pill. I haven’t been on the pill since…two April’s ago. It’s been a long time, and I was hoping to never do it again. The only reason I am, other than following orders, of course, is because they will shrink the follies, bring me back to home base. I’m sick of sweatpants and being fat and bloated. Silver lining…maybe my acne from the drugs will clear up.

Yesterday, I was really pissed off. Today, after finally, for the first time in weeks, sleeping eight hours and not rushing to the doctor’s (I did go, but at a slower pace this morning), I’m in a weird place emotionally.

My current emotion is one I wouldn’t have expected – relief. I guess this is a point that a lot of people get to – where it’s just…it’s so much, so much on your mind, takes up your whole life, and then you catch a “break” from it – in this case, forced upon me. And this break, there’s nothing to overanalyze. I’m on the pill for a while. What’s to think about?

And it’s almost this big thing lifted off my shoulders. Today was the big marathon in our state, and two years ago, I did it. My first marathon. This morning, as I literally drove past the runners on my way to the doctor’s, I thought about that day. It was a horrible race, actually. But I was proud. And I had a goal – to finish a marathon. When is the last time I have had a goal that I have tried to reach that wasn’t baby related? I guess two years ago. That was my last goal. And today, I miss that. I want a normal life again. I want to have goals that aren’t baby related. And no, not like “losing weight”. But like, maybe running a half marathon again, and losing weight in the process. Or re-decorating our house. Or getting in as many dates with my husband as possible, and do a little traveling like we used to, when the goal was to enjoy each other fully without thinking about other people, like future children.  To love like teenagers. I miss my old life, when there was more to it than simply receiving fertility treatments and wondering why I’ve been dealt these cards.

So, I’m not sure how long this mood will last before it turns bitter and very unpleasant, but until then, I’m trying to embrace this “gift” of a break I’ve just received. We are going to pumpkin pick, do a little hiking (as soon as I’m physically able), spend time with each other, go to the movies, start on our house projects…who knows. I’m going to invest in my job again. We’ll do what we normally do, without thinking about babies. Supposedly, those babies will come eventually. But until then, right now, I need a new goal.

So frustrated!

It’s days like today where I’d like to scream in frustration. Or possibly punch someone in the face, because that seems gratifying. What I actually did was eat some chips and have (gasp!) a soda…with caffeine!

We were supposed to go on vacation this weekend. I know it seems like I’ve been on a lot of vacations this summer but I really have not. We visited my grandparents in Maine for 3 days in July, and I did get to the cape for a few days last week, but that wasn’t with my husband. He and I were supposed to go to his lake house for 3 nights – originally Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. As this weekend drew nearer, I had a feeling it wouldn’t continue to be a 3 night, 4 day vacation, because I knew I’d have to get into the doctor’s at some point. So all week long we’ve been playing it by ear, to see which day we would go, and for how many nights.

I went in for my baseline on Monday, went for bloodwork only on Thursday, and was told to come in today for an ultrasound and bloodwork (today is CD 7). So that’s when N and I realized that our 3 night vacation would definitely go down to 2 nights, or maybe even only 1 night, depending on when they next want to see me.

So I’m getting probed, per usual, you know, again with a weekend nurse. She actually walked in me in the middle of undressing…good times. Anyway, she’s digging around for buried treasure in there, and it’s only CD 7, so I’m not expecting a lot. And rightly so. There are no follicles greater than 10mm, and frankly, I don’t believe any are even bigger than like 6 or 7 mm. She didn’t even tell me how many there were, because it’s too early. But I do have two giant 20+mm cysts on my left ovary.

Then I meet with the doctor, and I tell him we were planning on going away for a few days. Did he think I’d end up having to go back on Monday or Tuesday? Since the follies are so small, I mean. He said he wasn’t sure if it would be Monday or Tuesday, but he took down a note that said Tuesday would work better for me, and as long as my estrogen levels were low enough, that should be fine. I figured we’d be golden…how could my E2 levels be high with no follies growing?

So I went home, finished packing for the trip, N packed the cooler .We still didn’t know if I’d be going in Monday or Tuesday – meaning, a 2 night vacation, or just one night? We brought the dogs to their doggy camp, paid $70, worked out arrangements with my mother to get them tomorrow and keep them tomorrow night, if we find out I don’t have to go in until Tuesday. We packed for 2 nights, knowing it could just be for one night only, but assumed the call wouldn’t come in until we were already on the road.

Thank goodness we were running late. After dropping off the dogs we swung into a Subway, and that’s when I got the call from some other weekend nurse. They need me TOMORROW. For bloodwork only. Because my E2 is high, 213, and my dosage needs to be dropped tonight.

My 2, down to 1 night vacation has officially turned into a zero night vacation – no vacation! And we were sitting in the car, about to hit the highway, with two nights worth of meals in the cooler, bags packed, dogs gone, you know, the whole bit. Could not believe it. So on the phone I was a little in denial at first..telling her that the doctor had predicted Monday or Tuesday, and she put me on hold and talked to another doctor, who told her that I could come in Monday for bloodwork, instead of tomorrow, but to be prepared that things could progress too fast, and they might have to cancel the cycle. Obviously we’re not going to risk that. And I couldn’t even look for a place in NH that does bloodwork, because who is going to be open on a Sunday morning, at a doctor’s office that isn’t mine? So we turned around and went home. I’m not going to pick the dogs up, because they are already paid for. So they have to spend the night in a place that’s not their favorite while we are home, 20 minutes away, and I feel bad.

Then I ask the nurse on the phone what the plan is from there, and because my levels are high, and they appear to be a bit concerned about this, I will also more than likely have to go in Monday morning for bloodwork and ultrasound again. That’s 3 days in a row, people. My arm is bruising up and looking like I’ve gone on a drug binge.

In the end, we’ll go on a date tonight somewhere not far away, and just pretend we didn’t just waste $70 for doggy care we don’t need. Tomorrow, I’ll get my blood done very early, and dammit, I’m going to that lake house, but it’s only for the day. You know, because I have to go back again the next morning. So much for vacation!

I will get over it, and in the scheme of life it’s not a big deal. It’s just frustrating that we were minutes from the highway with a packed car, and had to turn around. And the wasted money. And the lack of puppies in our house right now.

But really, there’s another underlying issue maybe you guys can help me with. I’m a little concerned – I have no developing follies, but my estrogen is at 213, apparently high enough for the doctors to make me lower my dosage tonight, and go in 3 days in a row to be monitored. Should I be worried here, that something bad is happening? Could the cysts be doing this? What does it mean when E2 goes up but follies don’t grow? I’m trying not to worry, but this doesn’t seem normal. Someone will get hurt if I have to cancel this cycle.

Stupid ovaries.

My ovaries and I aren’t getting along at all. As the days pass, I’m coming to the realization that my ovaries are lazy. Stagnant, unconscious. They don’t DO anything.

I should have already known this, since I was only able to ovulate on Clomid when I stair-stepped, and each cycle would be 60 days long. For some strange reason, I assumed that moving on to the big drugs, the real deal, would change all that. I was wrong!

Today will be my 14th day of follistim. I did 5 or 6 days of 50 IU, 5-6 days of 66 IU, and today is Day 3 of 75 IU. My last blood test a few days ago showed that my estrogen actually dropped a little bit, and the ultrasound didn’t have a single follicle on each side larger than 8 or 9 mm.

Is this normal?

Even though the labs don’t say it, I must have PCOS. There has yet to be a moment where my doctor confirms I have PCOS, but if you have 30 follicles on each side, just hanging out, isn’t that a strong indication? I understand that my doctor wants to take things very slowly, because of those 60 follicles. I imagine I’m at a high risk for multiples, if my ovaries ever decide to actually do anything! Right now, the only thing growing is my frustration level.

And I’m used to waiting, by now. I should expect that it takes forever for my follicles to grow. It’s just that I wonder if it’s worth it, to do follistim with an IUI, if it’s going to take months to get there.

I did a little googling and it seems others in my situation just say the hell with it, and go to IVF. I am willing to do that – next cycle. It’s not an option for this cycle, and I did check. So I need to wait this one out, again. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, and I’m still holding out a little hope, but I wonder how many days of shots I will be doing before a doctor says, this isn’t working. On to the next thing.

It’s funny how that “woe is me” attitude creeps up on me. Once I started the shots, I was feeling pretty decent again. Now that nothing is happening in there, those thoughts just appear in my head again. They tell me it’s going to be a long time until I’m pregnant. They tell me I’m going to be doing IVF during the school year, which makes for a stressful time. And the scariest thought is this: what if my autoimmune problems, which are clearly still around, aren’t going to allow the 1) follicles to grow, 2) sperm to meet with egg, 3) BFP to stick, 4) baby to be carried to term. Seriously, the “woe is me” attitude brings about many worries, and they don’t help me in the slightest.

It’s the worrying right now that holds me back. I would’ve liked to join in on the diet and fitness challenges that Belle, Sunny, and Jenn (among others) are doing, but I can’t make the commitment. What if I need to eat rice krispies with almond milk in the middle of the day to make me feel better? And how can I find the right diet? The diet that feels best for autoimmune problems is not exactly the same as the PCOS diet, and I feel like I have too many health problems all at once to figure out what my body needs.

The one thought I’m trying to push away is the fear. If I could successfully completely cut out certain foods from my diet, would I get pregnant then? If I was just more dedicated to health and fitness, would it happen? Is the fact that I ate an ice cream the other day, with sprinkles, mind you, which had dairy and sugar (two things I usually don’t eat), and I had stomach issues the next day  – could that be why my ovaries aren’t functioning?

These are completely irrational thoughts, and I understand that. But I hate feeling so out of control with my own body. Naturally, I want to place the blame on myself, because when I do that, things make sense. If I just throw my hands up and say it’s not my fault, well then, it doesn’t make sense to me. But by doing this, I am adding so much extra pressure to myself that I don’t need, and it causes me to…overeat. I have always held myself to standards that are too high. I have always put on the pressure, the stress. Now is no exception. It’s very hard to let go. Ugh. I do want to get in on those challenges, girls. I just don’t know where to start.

The world’s worst presents.

The day has finally come (tomorrow). The day I start my third type of fertility treatment – injectables with an IUI. Let’s see – I haven’t had a period since, (hold on, let me check a calendar) May 11th! That’s a long time! Today is CD 54, but I only know that because I just checked. I haven’t kept count since the day I found out 150 mg of Clomid was going to do nothing but cause me to go insane, and that was somewhere around CD 25.

Sidebar – I was at a thyroid appointment the other day (which is looking lovely, by the way -0.9 TSH is damn near perfect) and my doctor asked if I have been getting my periods regularly. I almost burst out laughing.

Anyway, I’ve been going through the proper steps to ensure a great time with my first set of shots. I watched the videos, asked a few clarification questions with the nurse, got a fantastic HSG completed successfully, and had my baseline blood work and ultrasound this morning. Oh yeah, and Christmas came early:

Kidding. These would make the world’s worst presents. The best thing about that picture is the watermelon I plan on consuming over the next few days.

Now, this morning’s ultrasound wasn’t exactly routine. I must say, first of all, that the wonderful condom-covered probing camera (known affectionately as the dild0-cam to most of you) was a comforting delight compared to whatever was shoved up there with the HSG last week. When we started, the nurse said, “You have a full bladder. Did you go to the bathroom?” I felt like a kid. Yes – I did! Like, 20 minutes ago! I can’t help the fact that I chugged a protein shake right before I got there…

Then, as he’s looking around in there, he discovers what I’ve known for a while – I have tons of little baby follicles in each ovary. Like, a lot. Like, he stopped counting and said, “Let’s just say there’s 30 in each one”. That’s a total of 60 follicles. That’s a lot of maybe-babies. Then he found one (I swear it’s that pesty cyst, back to say hello) and he says, oh, this one could be developing. If that happened, the cycle would have to be cancelled. But rest assured, there’s no way in hell I’m ovulating on my own. I would know it if I was. Anyway, I didn’t get any calls this afternoon regarding my blood work (which would have shown it), so I’m not concerned. After that was all over, I met with a nurse who went over the plans for tomorrow. She commented that it’s a good thing the doctor is starting me on a low dose (50 IU), because of the amount of follicles I’ve got in there. This leads me to an unpleasant thought – I feel like, if I’m going to have 60 follicles, I should’ve ovulated on my own. Or at least with Clomid. Maybe I’m not the typical type of person that does injectables with IUI, or IVF if it should come down to it. Clomid should have worked. But it didn’t. And my new fear is that even on the low dose, I’m going to produce too many eggs, and the cycle will have to be cancelled. I just really don’t want that to happen. I guess what I’m saying is simply that I want this to work. I really, really do.

With this type of treatment being so drastically different from what I’m used to – a simple pill for a few days – I hope I do it right. Not to mention the fact that I’m going to Maine tomorrow for a 3-day mini-vacation, and the drugs are coming with me. My first shot is tomorrow night, up in Maine. It can’t be that complicated – but I think I need to watch those videos again. My doctor commented last week that the first shot will take me 45 minutes, but 44 of those minutes will be the anxiety leading up to it. After that, it’ll be quick. I don’t think it’ll take me 45 minutes per say, but I can’t say I’m thrilled about doing this. In my stomach.

Also, different from many others is the fact that I don’t have my period. My doctor didn’t put me on Provera. So many nurses are asking me when my period has started, and I always have to explain I’m not getting it. So I’m not even sure what cycle day tomorrow is supposed to be – 1? 3? If you get your period, when are you supposed to start the shots?

And another question – approximately how long after the last shot do most of you trigger/ovulate? I know with Clomid you were supposed to ovulate about 10 days after the last pill. Is it similar for follistim?

Ugh. So many questions on this first round of injectables. Whether you’ve gone through injectables with an IUI, or IVF, is there anything you think I should know about any of this? Giving the shots, ovulation times, words of advice?

I’ll be back for another post once I return, and by then I should be an old pro.

Stair-stepping, Round 2.

I’m back for an update.

My follicle, which was 16 mm last Friday, has stopped growing. In fact, my nurse wonders whether it was ever a follicle at all, or maybe a cyst. If it was a follicle, there is no egg inside. My estrogen levels have actually gone down, when they should have gone up. Of course, I knew this already and hated having to wait a certain amount of days to be told this.

I am stair-stepping again, for the second cycle in a row (out of three total). They are bumping me up to 150 mg of Clomid, and I start it today. What was CD 25 this morning has just become CD 5, again. I am nervous about the hot flashes – they were bad enough on 100, not to mention 150.

I actually answered the phone today, so I did have some questions. Specifically, the answers were, no, the Dr. is not concerned about how Clomid works for me sometimes and not others, and specifically, works on one dosage ONCE, and then never again. Yes, it is normal (in terms of infertility). No, he does not see the need at this point to do a trigger shot, and instead wants me to stair-step. No, it’s not all over once 150 stops working (and we all know it will) – they will go to 200, and then 250. 250 is the max.

I am to come in for bloodwork in about a week and a half (what will be CD 15) to check on my status. So, as I feared, my first IUI is going to have to wait another 15-20 days.

Can I wait? Of course I can. But I’m irritated beyond belief because this is the second cycle in a row that I’ve had to stair-step, making it the second cycle in a row that the length of my cycle has been over 40 days. Can’t they see this is turning into a pattern? I will ovulate, I’m sure, on 150 with this stair-stepping, but then next cycle, when it’s150 by itself, I won’t. One dosage of Clomid, no matter what amount, is clearly not working in any given cycle. I need more.

The other reason I am irritated is because I have been peeing on a stick for 14 straight days, sometimes twice a day. I had ovulation pains, EWCM, my temps dropped real low. We got in a few BDs, then I got this lovely infection, probably caused by all of this. I planned. Again. Putting both my husband and I through this every cycle is just….so frustrating.

So yes, I’m annoyed. I am just mad that my body isn’t even allowing me the chance to conceive, and that the doctors aren’t too concerned. I’m worried that I will get to 250 (if I can survive the hot flashes), that will fail and then – IVF. I know so many of you go through IVF, but it’s nerve-wracking.

I’m not going to get my hopes up this time. I am sure I will ovulate. We’ll have the IUI and I will hope the best, but I’m going to try not to think about it. I’m done playing mind games with my body – begging and pleading and hoping is not working. Emotionally, I can’t continue like this, so instead, my tactic for this cycle is to attempt to completely forget about it. Wish me luck.