IVF round 2 and new paint.

I don’t have much of an update, but I figured I might as well keep you posted, if for no other reason to remind myself that I am still dealing with this, and so are you. I read your posts and there’s been a lot of good news lately, so perhaps that might extend my way.

I’m 5 days in with my follistim shots to the gut. This cycle, my doctor has me on only 75iu, and this is for an IVF cycle! But as we found out last cycle, which of course was cancelled before retrieval, I over-stimulate very easily. Still, it seems like a low dose. That said, my estrogen is climbing slowly and appropriately, so maybe I will actually get to retrieval this time. I am starting to feel my ovaries again. On the elliptical yesterday, apparently my resistance was too high because I felt a familiar pinch followed by a cramp. Gotta take it easy I guess. Bloating is here, and maternity pants will, pathetically, be my friend next week at work.

This sounds stupid but I am a little concerned that my retrieval could be next Saturday. It will definitely be right around there. Months ago, I bought my husband a trip around a race track in a stock car for his birthday, and Saturday is the date. And I can’t change it. I really want him to have that experience. So we’ll see.

So to practice “taking it easy”…my husband and I decided to redo our entire main floor- new white moulding, new paint, new doors, refurnished floors. Lots of work and lots of mess. But we are realizing we are going to be in this house a lot longer than originally planned, so for our sanity (since we aren’t too happy about it) we need to make this house feel more like home. So far we ripped all the moulding off and painted the dining room and attached hallway. Next weekend I might have no choice but to relax, so until then, we’re painting machines. And that’s all I’ve got! Hopefully my next post will be in regards to a damn retrieval!

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.

The IVF Crazies

I didn’t think this first IVF cycle I am doing was messing with my head. I didn’t think it was affecting me – just another chance at pregnancy, like my last three IUI’s, or the previous six rounds of Clomid. Just another month. Yet, apparently, it has been affecting me, and it’s affecting my life. And what better place to turn to for advice than right here?

See, the thing is, I don’t really want to talk about it. Not in real life. I really don’t want to talk about the details. What’s new with my IVF cycle? People want to know this. The answer is nothing. Well, everything, but nothing, so I’d rather just let it be. I drive 40 minutes every single day to either have my blood drawn, or have an ultrasound with it. If it doesn’t fall on a weekend, I’m arriving there at 6:30 in the morning, when the lights are off and the workers aren’t even there yet, just so I can be first or second in line when the blood draw starts at 7:00. I have to be at work, at school, at 8:05, but since that’s impossible when ultrasounds don’t start until 7:30, I get out of there around 8 and hustle (if that’s possible in traffic) back to school, usually arriving late, after the kids get there, with cold tea and the need for a bathroom, but there’s no sub in my room and no one helping out, so I need to rush.

Then, it’s my actual situation. The doctor today actually used the words “your polycystic ovaries”, confirming, I guess, that I have PCOS. And all of that build up of follicles makes for a doctor’s dream IVF cycle, if it weren’t for the large risk of OHSS. I’ve got 30+ follies on both sides. That’s a lot of development – and I’m fearing pain and OHSS. They tell me while I am at a high risk for OHSS, I will be triggering with Lupron, which is supposed to help combat that. Though, the doctor today said I will probably also be taking HSG, which sometimes gives the symptoms of OHSS, but isn’t. I should be on the look-out.

I’m going to the doctor’s every day because my follies are tiny, but my estradoil is way up. So it’s up and down with my follistim dosage, as I crank through the Ganirelix in the public bathroom. I’m officially bloated, though not really in pain, as I’ve started putting out some major egg whites (sorry for the TMI) and feeling fat. Tomorrow will make the 5th day in a row to have my blood drawn, and I’m going back Thursday as well.

I knew all this. I knew this would happen. What I didn’t know was how, apparently, subconsciously nervous I would be. I am quite literally putting all of my eggs in one basket, and I am a bit of a wreck about this working. About me feeling okay. About getting OHSS. About making smart choices on my end, so as not to ruin this opportunity.

I need help from you IVF-ers. What should I be doing or not doing? I’m not exercising, except for the daily walk with the dogs. Is that the right move? I’m trying to drink a lot of water. The right move? I’m not having any sex (hey, it’s the truth) because I’m worried about rupturing something or causing pain or sending me into OHSS land and it’s starting to bother my husband, I think. Not to mention keeping the sperm supply healthy, and why am I even thinking about that? Is this the right move? What about food? Should I be following an IVF diet, as I know some of you have done? My doctor never said anything about it, but still. I want to do this right. I want, I want, I want.

I realized tonight I am putting this future not-yet-conceived child ahead of my marriage, which is really not a good thing. I’m too overwhelmed for sex, too negative, too busy, too stressed, too worried, too..whatever, but yet, when the time came a few months ago on Clomid, I’d perform under any condition. He has a point. So yeah, ahead of my marriage. Heck, ahead of my job, ahead of my friendships, ahead of all my priorities, ahead of my sleep. And it’s causing some rifts, as well as exhaustion and stress. I’m overwhelmed because I’m worried, because this is a big deal, because my frustration with all of this is hitting a peak, right in the middle of shots. I’m not myself (though, I really haven’t been much in the last year and a half) but this “new” version of me is worried, overwhelmed, and stressed.

We all know “just relax” is not the answer, so god help me if those words find their way into my brain. That said, some relaxing is probably in order, I’m guessing. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible as a teacher to relax. NOTHING about school is relaxing. I’ve got meetings, some scheduled, some on the fly. I’ve got parents with questions, students with behavior issues, professional goals I’m supposed to be caring about right now, and clearly, I just don’t. Take tomorrow for example: getting to the doctor’s for 6:30, blood drawn at 7, rushing to work for 8, meeting at 8:05, full day of school, long meeting at 3:01 until probably 4:30, rush to get the dogs fed (Sadie throws up if I don’t feed her right on time), rush to do any schoolwork I’ve brought home, rush to get ready for Thursday, and to do it all again, starting with the doctor visit. Too much is going on right now, too much is on my plate. Yet, there’s nothing I need help with. No one can help lighten my load, unless you’re planning on whisking me away from it all to a cabin in Colorado where we can eat fresh fruit and get our nails done and be on a vacation. I just want this all to end, so I can resume some sort of schedule, with early to beds, relaxing workouts, and not worry about if I’m eating too many carbs or not drinking enough water.

Also, my back hurts. Every day when I wake up, it’s either my neck or my back. It was my neck for a long time, now it’s my back. It hurts in one spot. Did I pull something? Maybe. I switched pillows and it didn’t help anything. Is it stress? Do I have rheumatoid arthritis? Or just a case of the auto-immune crazies (one auto-immune disease and you start to think you have them all)?

Like I said, I don’t want to talk about it. Other than venting here, I really don’t want the pity, or the worry, or whatever.  I’m dealing with it, I’m hoping it ends soon, I’m hoping I don’t land in the hospital with OHSS, I’m hoping I have many good eggs pulled out, I’m hoping one results in a pregnancy, which results in a successful 9 months, which results in an actual baby, which, hopefully, would result in me feeling back to my old self, with less stress. But I’m worried it won’t, that this is my new life.

But I don’t want to talk about it.

I hate cysts.

The last two weeks have been seriously crap-tacular. This past week, especially, was very much up and down, with the majority of it being down. I thought I might update.

The good of last week was our IVF consultation appointment with the doctor last Monday. Here’s a summary, in list form.

– We are proceeding with IVF (obviously).

– Though I am somewhat at a high risk for OHSS (young, many, many follicles in those ovaries), doctor says by giving me a Lupron trigger instead of Ovidrel, it cuts down the chances dramatically. He said there’s been no OHSS in the last 5 years for anyone taking the Lupron trigger. I hope this is true, because OHSS scares the crap out of me. For those who don’t know (yes, I do have a few non-infertiles who read this blog!), my understanding is that OHSS is when your ovaries hyper-stimulate, and you end up with crazy pain and you’re in the hospital. And it’s dangerous for you, not to mention possibly ruining the cycle. So this just can’t happen.

– We are doing ICSI. ICSI is a specific type of IVF, usually reserved for people with sperm problems, or unexplained infertility, which would be me. Instead of exposing my egg to a whole bunch of my husband’s sperm in the petri dish and hoping one attaches itself, they actually take a single sperm out of the bunch and literally place it on the egg (I think anyway). The doctors would select the best sperm there was to do the job. This is kind of crazy to me, that they are choosing, really, whether I’d have a boy or a girl. Not that I’ll know, but still.

– We are doing Assisted Hatching, if necessary. Again, to my knowledge, this is when, if the membrane of the…egg? doesn’t allow for the sperm to get in, because it’s too thick, the doctors would put a tiny slit in the membrane to allow it to come through. Assisted. Or something like that.

– We also agreed to participate in this study, something about exposing the embryo to 5% oxygen instead of the typical 20%. Apparently, scientists are the middle of trying to figure out if 5% is better for the embryos than 20%, and three big universities, including mine, are doing the study. My doctor assured me up and down that our success rates would not drop at all by doing the 5%. The success rates would either stay the same or get better. My husband is all about improving science, and I’m up for it too, so we said yes. I’m trusting my doctor on this one and letting it go.

– My clinic has a rule that you must freeze embryos if there are any to freeze. After that, you can do what you’d like with them. It’s not covered by insurance, but I’m not complaining. So it’s $1,000 for a year, and then after that, you pay a few hundred dollars every few months. We were going to freeze them anyway.

– Finally, we discussed the number of embryos to put in. Long story short – and for those of you who don’t know, your embryos are transferred back into your body either 3 or 5 days after the retrieval. I believe most people do a transfer on Day 3. However, if the embryos look amazing, apparently they can keep them going outside the woman’s body until Day 5, and be able to watch them 2 additional days, and then they would put them in. My doctor informed us that the success rate for getting pregnant at all on Day 3 with two embryos is the exact same success rate on Day 5 with one embryo (I believe he said 55%). Same exact thing. And for the Day 3, the chance of twins (when putting in 2) is 1 in 3. So it’s been decided that our Day 3 transfer, if that’s what we have, will be with two embryos. The bigger question at this point comes for if we make it to Day 5. If we put in two embryos on Day 5, our chance of twins is 50%. I realize that’s half, and not whole, but to me, I’m reading it like 100%. As in – by deciding to put two in on Day 5, we’re basically asking for twins. Day 3 is more of just a chance.

We think we have our answer regarding the Day 5 embryos, but we are still in discussion. N and I agree on everything – we can handle twins, we are fine having twins, we can afford twins, and twins would be wonderful. We would love it. But of course there are risks that come for babies and the mother – higher risk for complications, preemie birth, and of course I’d be having a c-section. While that’s more of a minor thing..I always just imagined I’d be pushing a baby out myself. But it doesn’t matter.

And then this came up, too. We hope to have three children, and four if we can afford it. At least one of those children was always going to be adopted, especially if we have four. At this point, I have always wanted to be pregnant twice. I want to go through that amazing time twice. By having twins, especially if we only have three and adopt the third, I’d be 29 years old and done, and I’m not sure that’s what I want. But I don’t know. I guess if I have a really horrible, stressful pregnancy I might feel different. I told N that I just can’t promise that if we do have twins, I won’t want to birth a third myself. And then if we have four, adopt the last child, and if we don’t, we wouldn’t adopt. N is fine with that, though he would rather adopt two, if we’re going to have four kids. I don’t think we’re going to be able to afford adopting two kids, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s all just..a lot to think about, just to answer the question of how many embryos on a Day 5 transfer.

If you asked me a month ago how many embryos, no matter what day they’re put in, we would’ve both said two. Now that it’s closer, now that the doctor makes me feel like making it to Day 5 with one embryo would almost definitely work, I feel like I’m taking a step back. I would love twins, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a single doubt about raising twins, and neither does my husband. But I just want a child, so badly, that I don’t know if it’s worth the additional risks of complications. And I don’t know if I’m going to be done giving birth. So we’re on the fence at the moment. And then again, we could end up with a Day 3 transfer of two embryos and get pregnant with twins anyway, and I’m not even second-guessing that one. So maybe we’ll just…see how it goes.

The fact of the matter is, all this talk about babies, such specific decisions being made, makes me think it’s almost here. And in reality – it might not be. I have got to get my mind geared up for this IVF thing..because nothing is guaranteed. We still don’t even know why nothing has worked up until this point. There could be some implantation issue we wouldn’t even know about yet. So, I don’t know. Doesn’t unexplained infertility really just mean unexplained until they figure it out?

After we made all our decisions (with the Day 5 question being answered when the day comes), the doctor did a trial transfer, though I’m not sure why, when I’ve had three IUI’s and an HSG already. And it hurt. It always does. Apparently things are tilted in there…it always takes them a while. Then he did an ultrasound to check on my ovaries, because even though it was only Day 10 of my cycle, if all looked good in there, he was willing to give me Provera and get this show on the road. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I have a cyst, on my ovary. It has been there for a few cycles, hovering around 20mm. This check showed it at 34mm. Which would explain the stomach cramping I’d been having. He decided he doesn’t want to proceed with IVF until it shrinks, and said I could either wait or go on birth control. I asked him if the timeline would be about the same and he said yes, so I opted to wait. I have an appointment on  Tuesday, before he goes on vacation for a week, to check in on it. So I went home.

Then, the very next day, I had the craziest thing happen to me at school. It was after our staff meeting and almost everyone had gone home. I was still feeling crampy all day long. I had just eaten a hard boiled egg and was preparing to leave when I suddenly had incredible intestinal pain. I’m not going to be graphic but I felt like I needed to run to the bathroom where..nothing happened. And I was spasming. Like, can’t walk, can’t sit down, can’t move spasming, I’ve had it before, but it always goes away in about a minute. This didn’t go away. I tried to tell myself I just needed to get home, so I tried to make it to the parking lot, and then I was doubled over with pain. I made it to my car, bent over, and then I think I started to panic, because I got dizzy, hands numb and tingly, white as a sheet, and thought I was going to throw up. Two people I work with were there, asking me if I was okay, and I was scared and a hot mess, so I basically pushed them away. They drove off, and  I realized I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t even stand. I made it back to the building, but of course it was locked, so my principal had to see me like that, asking if I was okay. I thought I was going to need a hospital visit, but when I do get those spasms, I know Advil helps. Advil also gives me lip hives, but sometimes it’s worth it, and this was one of those times. Finally, a janitor went around looking for Advil and got me some, and by that time I was in the nurse’s empty office, half standing, half laying down on the couch. After taking it, I sat there, almost fell asleep, and then about 45 minutes later, the spasms stopped and I drove home.

Two nights of a heating pad, plus endless amounts of laxatives, plus eating only potatoes and tea, and finally the pain stopped fully yesterday. I did see my primary doctor and he said it could be the cyst, or diverticulitis, so I needed to watch it for a few more days. I was sure it wasn’t fertility related until I started to spot. It wasn’t a lot, but it was there, for sure, and there’s no reason for that right now. A little research told me my cyst probably burst. Also, it must have been pushing on my intestines, causing the spasms and blockage. Now, I feel like a million bucks. When I go in on Tuesday, we’ll see what happened officially. I wonder if it’ll be gone…a lot faster than I thought it would be. I feel fine now.

While it totally screwed up my week and was very painful, my new thoughts are about IVF. One cyst, 34 mm, caused me an insane amount of pain and messed up my intestinal system. What will it be when there’s like 10 large follicles on each side? I don’t want to go through this again. So I will be asking my doctor on Tuesday.

That’s a super long update, but this IVF business is no joke. I never thought, after Clomid, after injectables, after three IUI’s, I’d be here, but I am. I want this to work so bad, so at this point, I’m anxious.