Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Graduation Day!

I stopped blogging for a bit. I think I got a bit superstitious or something. And for a while I wasn't having very many symptoms...still tired and bloated but it's so easy to attribute that to the support drugs rather than the pregnancy itself.

Then the tiredness and nausea started in with a vengeance. Not fun. Not so bad that I felt I needed medication, but enough to make me feel quite miserable. I wasn't having "morning" sickness, for the most part. My sickness was about 2pm-4pm sickness. And occasional 8pm sickness. And general exhaustion all the time (another reason I didn't want to try the nausea drugs - one of the symptoms is increased tiredness).

Today was bad. I just feel terrible. Ill and even eating isn't helping, which has always worked before.
It's all worth it though. Because today I got to see my little tiny baby again - second vaginal ultrasound. Looking much more formed, less blobby...and a STRONG! FAST! heartbeat. So precious and amazing and special and I am so in love. This is really happening. My body makes two heartbeats!

So now that I'm 8w5d and the heartbeat is in the appropriate range (170bpm), my clinic is kicking me out and I'm off to the midwife. It's weird - I'm going to miss the nurses and everyone at the clinic, but I'll be really glad to stop pulling out the credit card every visit. I can just be a normal person with a normal pregnancy.

Image result for graduation day

The clinic says I can stop my vaginal meds now, which is fantastic. Two months down, just less than seven to go. *MASSIVE EXCITE*

Friday, 25 March 2016

6 weeks

Apparently today marks halfway through the first trimester. But of course the first trimester is shorter because the first two weeks you're just waiting for ovulation...
In my Pregnancy Journal I'm using, it says I'm "beginning week 5" (of gestation) which is beginning the 7th week after the last menstrual period.Ugh this math.
It's ok. I'm going by The Bump app, which says I'm 6 weeks today.
Still feel fine. Slightly sore boobs, but less sore than before. Very occasional very slight nausea. Quite tired. That's pretty much it. I'm pretty boring over here.

I am irritated that my group benefits plan classifies Endometrin as a "drug for the treatment of infertility" (and therefore included in my already-maxed lifetime limit). I assure you, I'm not taking it for that...there's a baby in there and I'm taking it to maintain my pregnancy! And that's another $360! I need to figure out how to appeal a decision. But I don't think they will answer phone calls on Good Friday. 

Looking forward to my first ultrasound on Tuesday morning! But for now...more waiting.

Monday, 21 March 2016

My first wave...

Of nausea. How special. Apparently throwing waste into the office compost bin was a terrible idea, as was just being in that room in general that on the best days smells of old coffee.
Ugh.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Dating my "LMP"

Everyone (by which I mean a couple of apps, but even the midwife clinic wanted it; I said "Well, that won't help very much cuz I did IVF, but...") wants to know the date of my last menstrual period ("LMP") so they can calculate my due date. But for those of us who had messed up cycles due to IVF, LMP won't help. I figured out my due date with the help of an IVF website, then found out that most sites add 280 days to LMP to get due date so I subtracted 380 from my due date to get a fake "LMP" that I can use where I have to type in something.

In the process I came across this amazing calculator, which is not the one I initially used, but one I like much better. I love this one because it tells me neat things like how my baby's heart begins to beat today! (Ok, so the heart tubes start to contract. Still, exciting!)


Embryo Development
Cardiac Contraction Begins
March 20, 2016
Limb Buds Forming
March 24, 2016
End Embryo Stage
April 08, 2016

Fetal Development
U/S Heartbeat Detected
April 01, 2016
Brainwaves Begin
April 14, 2016
Essential Structures Complete
April 22, 2016
Movement Begins
May 20, 2016
Fetus May Suck Thumb
July 15, 2016
Maternal Sounds Recognized
July 29, 2016


I find this chart a bit confusing though...

Trimester Stages

by Development by Gestation by Conception
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 06, 2016
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 16, 2016
Begin 2nd Trimester
May 25, 2016
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 19, 2016
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 17, 2016
Begin 3rd Trimester
August 22, 2016

So strange, the wide variation in starting the 2nd trimester but much less variation in starting the 3rd. I'm lost.

Anyway, awesome site that I recommend if you haven't already checked it out!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

4w6d

My sleep appears to have returned to normal, for which I am so very grateful. Maybe the time change helped. Am I the only person in the universe happy about the time change?

I am also thirsty, all the time, which means I am peeing, all the time. People at work are going to start asking me questions.

Other than that, I feel just fine. Occasional cramps, but way more mild than anything I ever had with my period. So while I'm not happy about cramps, I'm not all that upset about them either.

Maybe I won't get sick? That would be nice. But then how would I be sure I was really pregnant? Oh yeah, perhaps that ultrasound that I'm having in 12 days. (All I do is wait!)

I set up an appointment with the local midwife clinic today. I know I haven't yet been released from the fertility clinic, but midwives around here book up quickly. Good thing I called, because my first appointment is a month away. But since I've had all the bloodwork done pre-IVF and since the fertility clinic is doing my first scan and everything, and won't let me go until they know everything is working, the wait is just fine with me. Glad I got in with the clinic I wanted!

A close family friend is a doula. She's actually one of the very first people I told, so that she could tell me where to go for midwifery. I'm thrilled that she will be able to assist me for birth. Still not quite sure what a doula does, as the few articles I've read are a bit vague, but having this friend there is the closest thing I can get to having my mom there, so doula services it is.

This is a very random post, but I feel a bit random today. Scattered, like I should run around and chase all the bits of my brain and shove them back into the places they belong. Ah well. A couple more hours and I'll be 5 weeks! That's exciting!!!


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Beta #2 & massive excitement

Really pregnant. Beta #2 = 707. The nurse said that was just perfect.
My thyroid is hovering right on the cusp of being too high again. They want to leave it alone and have me check again in a month.
My ultrasound is scheduled for right after the Easter holiday. Excitement is high!
I made a coupon for my dad on Word. It said things like "Free snuggles" and was addressed to Grandpa. He really liked it - back when I was little I used to make him all kinds of coupons with construction paper so this was a little throwback to that. I think he appreciated it.
Aion's mom just cried. A lot. It was cute.
No cemetery ideas yet for my mom. And Aion's dad still doesn't know.
We've also told a few select friends, but that's it for now.

I'm now researching baby fairs etc. This weekend a local baby store is having a new-location-celebration with deals and contests and stuff, so we're going to that. Don't need or want to buy anything yet, but if I can WIN things, that's another story. IVF = expensive so baby stuff needs to be cheap/free.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Yup, still pregnant.

Friday I needed to confirm. Was scared the dollar store test lied. Took an expensive First Response Early Response test. Yup. Still pregnant. Nice strong line. Unmistakably pregnant. Nothing happened in 24 hours to make me un-pregnant. Not making up lines. Actually, honest-to-God pregnant.

So then I start worrying about it being a chemical. But this is ok. And good.  My boobs hurt and I have some strange not-at-all-like-menstrual-cramps cramps and I for the last 4 days I've woken up at 4:30 in the morning (I'm usually a multiple-snooze-button-hitter). That's pretty much it so far on the symptom front.

Beta #1 is 309. Perfect!! The clinic called me after my beta and it was the very first time someone other than myself told me I was pregnant. It was surreal. I don't think I sounded excited on the phone. The nurse was probably quite confused. But I am excited. So excited.

Next test is Monday. Then I can stop thinking about chemical pregnancies and start worrying about miscarriages. Ugh. This is HARD, people.

But now that we're done with the TWW, we also finished the puzzle. So cute.


And we're over the moon. So excited. I'm entering all the contests for free baby stuff. Looking at garage sales for cheap baby stuff. This is going to be a very long 8 months. But an exciting 8 months.

Trying to think about how to tell the family now...Aion's mom knows we're doing IVF, but neither of our dads do. Think I'll go to the cemetery and tell my mom somehow...maybe leave her a copy of my blastocyst photo? Is that weird? Maybe I'll think of something brilliant and less weird tomorrow.

Testing...and results

I resisted until Thursday morning, 8dp5dt. The clinic had scheduled my beta for Friday and told me that I could pee on a stick one day prior to "prepare myself for the results." I was in a day-long series of meetings Friday starting at 7am so couldn't make it to the lab Friday,  so I couldn't do my beta test until Saturday,  but I sucould prepare myself...

I took a crappy dollar store test, the kind where you pee into a tray and then use the tiniest dropper to put three drops of pee into a hole on the test. And then I waited.

The line started out really really faint, and only got the tiniest bit darker, but it was unmistakable. I am pregnant!!!

I didn't know how to tell Aion. Finally I ran into the scrapbook room, pulled out a baby sticker, ran back to the bedroom and shoved the sticker in Aion's face.

Aion looked at me completely sleepy and uncomprehending, and said, yes, baby. I shoved it closer and bounced it up and down. It took a while, but then there was happiness and joy and excitement and it was great. And then I ran off to work and thankfully it was a distracting day.

But I did manage to register for thebump app. It was quite confused because it only starts at 4 weeks and I was 3 weeks 6 days. According to it, I was 4 weeks 6 days! (This resolved the next day back to 4 weeks).

We had booked a reservation for dinner that night anyway,  because it was Dine Out For Life, a charity event benefitting people living with hiv/aids that I have supported for several years. So we went out and celebrated and I didn't have any wine and I didn't care. It was fantastic. Perfect.  Couldn't have asked for better.

Assuming and hoping that all goes well, due date is November 18!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Environmental guilt & small attempts to remedy that

One thing that has really bothered me as I go through this IVF process is the massive amount of waste I create. Each box of meds had multiple cardboard and plastic pieces to keep everything tamper-proof. The needles had individual sterile pouches and then needle caps and of course the needles themselves. Tiny vials of menopur and solution and little caps on each of those. Disposable alcohol wipes in little disposable packages. Cotton balls. The gigantic product monograph package, even through I've already bought 4 packages of that medication. Plastic Endometrin applicators in little plastic wrappers to deliver individually-wrapped pills.  And then the four billion panty liners to soak up my green leakage.

This is not a process that considers the environment. I recycle what I can, but still. PILES of garbage and recycling. PILES.

Well, I can't do anything about the way the meds are wrapped, so I decided to try to take control of one thing I could -- liners.

First I went to London Drugs and stared for a long time at the various products on offer. I could buy 40 liners for a couple bucks or a few organic liners for a lot more bucks. Ugh. I picked up the kind that isn't individually wrapped and still felt guilty. Then out of the corner of my eye, high up on a shelf, I saw "Lunapads". They're reusable cotton liners (they also carry pads) that you can throw in the washing machine.

Now, washing my menstrual blood is a bit much for me at the moment. Not sure if I'm crunchy granola enough for that. But my progest-goop? Yeah, that I can handle.

But first I decided to head online to check out some reviews. I learned that people actually like them quite a bit...and they're a local Vancouver company! Neat!

Best of all, when one types "Lunapads" into google, google suggests, as a possible search, "Lunapads free sample". Oh really?? Yes. FREE SAMPLE. I LOVE FREE SAMPLES.

So for the price of $5 shipping, I now own one Lunapad liner.




It's super cute. I love the foxes. And it's made of some cozy, soft flannel stuff.

Now these liners don't have a leakproof core so if I was really wet, they wouldn't completely address the problem. But for my rather thick progest-goop, it worked amazingly well! I found that having cloth next to me, as opposed to whatever the heck disposables are made of, was so much softer and more comfortable. No edges that can sometimes be a bit...sharp...on the disposables if you stick them down in the wrong way. And it breathes nicely too, so I didn't feel as hot and sticky, even though it was flannel. Super impressed!

Mid-day, I was able to wipe up some of the goo that had kind of rested on top (sorry...but if you want an honest review, I'm your girl). It came up pretty well, with only a little bit of the red flannel fibres getting disturbed in the process.

And it washed out quite nicely in the sink.

I also found Party In My Pants, which ALSO had a free (just pay shipping) sample.  So I ordered that too, but that one hasn't arrived yet. Stay tuned for another review soon!

I think I will buy a few more so I can rotate and not wash every day. This is SOOOOO much better than disposables. Good for the environment, fewer chemicals near my lady-parts (and maybe-baby!) and all around a better choice. And I think overall a savings too, if the life cycle of these things is 5 years as advertised.


Is anyone else concerned about the effect their IVF cycle is having on the environment? What are your tips and tricks?

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

6dp5dt

Six days after transfer. Boobs hurt terribly, particularly after Aion had some sort of bad dream which somehow resulted in my getting punched hard in the right breast and me screaming to get her to wake up and stop. If this recurs there will be banishment to the couch.

Hard not to test but don't want to test yet.

I did notice per my snazzy new phone sensor that my heart rate is about ten bpm higher than usual. Trying not to read into this. No testing!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

IVF Scrapbook = all done

I finished my IVF scrapbook last night. Last few stickers to fill up a couple blank spots and it's done.

It's a bit of a silly thing, but hopefully I can stick it in a baby book someday next to baby's first photo (of baby as a cavitating morula, of course!)

I must say that I am surprised I wasn't able to find other IVF process scrapbookers. There aren't even any  IVF or embryo stickers for sale online that I could find (aside: don't google 'embryo stickers'. It gets you a lot of pro-life stuff that you may not want to view). People scrapbook everything, including their cancer...why not IVF? Maybe I'm weird. Maybe it's true that scrapbooking is really going out of style. I don't care. I love it.

Here it is in all its glory:







It's so colourful! I found a sheet of stickers at the scrapbook store with inspirational phrases, and so even though I'm not usually much of an inspirational phrase type girl, I thought they worked well for this particular project. I also purchased a set of 'medical' stickers to get the pill and syringe, and found the carton of eggs in a sticker set I already had in my stock that was all baking supplies. Add some flowers and stuff, and it's all done.

That kept me busy for maybe an hour and a half of my tww. If I keep this up my house will look like Pinterest soon...

HAHA or not.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Mint green soft serve






*"12 Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream" Photo by Alpha: https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/162068694/in/photostream/
Used under limited license.

I mentioned in my Transfer Day post that I would write more about the joys of Estrace, which I am now using in addition to the Endometrin (Progesterone). Estrace is estradiol, a form of estrogen. It, in addition to the progesterone, supports implantation and early pregnancy until the placenta is able to take over. It's a bit scary because the drugs.com page says that one shouldn't take Estrace if pregnant. Hmm.

Seems like for the majority of uses, estrace is taken orally. I get to shove mine into my vagina along with my Endometrin. Remember how I talked about the...uh...leakage...that occurs with the Endometrin? Well the blue/green colour of the Estrace dyes that discharge a light green colour. And it is quite thick and chalky, and, well, a lot like soft-serve. I feel so sexy right now!!!

So far I am experiencing some light cramping and I'm super tired in the evenings but then wake up at 4am and can't get back to sleep. I've also had quite a bad arthritis flare starting a day or two before transfer. I think my body's just freaking out after all the drugs. It's disappointing because I want to be walking to get my blood circulating and stuff but it's hard when it hurts so much. Gonna try to get to a pool today or tomorrow so I can move a bit without so much pain. Not sure how that will work with the soft-serve leakage but I want to try.

Beta test on the 12th, pre-testing (POAS!) Thursday or Friday. Feeling good about this...love that this is a short less-than-two-week-wait! I got this.


The hardest 24 hours

Aion and I went for lunch after the transfer. I had a piece of quiche and a lavender/rooibus tea...and a chocolate croissant, even though the clinic had re-stocked their chocolate squares and I had just had one of those.

Then I walked around the corner for some post-transfer acupuncture. Not quite the same as having it at the clinic immediately after, but I'm sure it was good for me anyway. or not. I was so upset from the news at the transfer that I didn't want to think my own thoughts, so I had the acupuncturist set up the guided meditation for post-transfer (yes, they have them that specific). It was just as cheesy as the other one I listened to once...big bright comforting loving light, envision your lining at just the right thickness and your embryos dividing just as they should...it's a bit much for me, but it did take my mind off my own thoughts. The needles were on the inside of my ankles, my shins, wrists, top of my head and a couple on each ear. Such a pincushion! I understand that is the typical post-transfer protocol. I liked this acupuncturist a lot...a different one than usual because of the time of day but she was really gentle and nothing hurt even a tiny bit.

I walked back to my car and met Aion and was feeling a bit better...for maybe 5 minutes. And then the doom returned.

Aion was wonderful and supportive and said all the right things I needed to hear, but I was trapped in my head and miserable. I googled "cavitated blastocyst" and found mostly nothing. I then googled "cavitating morula" and found out that most clinics classify what I had transferred as not-yet-a-blastocyst. This depressed me even more. I tried to cheer up by reading positive morula-transfer stories, but that didn't seem to work.

Aion had her own appointment that evening. I drove her and then wandered aimlessly around Winners/Homesense for an hour, trying desperately not to even look in the direction of the baby & kid stuff. I bought us a puzzle to do on the weekend, thinking that might be a positive distraction. It is a picture of two spoons with arms laying next to each other on a little spoon-bed.
Isn't that cute?

When we got home and went to bed, I had quite the cry, then fell asleep and had horrible nightmares.

I felt so terrible. I couldn't fathom spending so much money only to have nothing to show for it. I felt certain that this embryo inside wasn't going to stick and then felt guilty for giving up on it, but couldn't bring myself to think positively. I thought about trying to adopt and completely overwhelmed myself thinking about the costs and the years and all the different challenges that I wasn't yet prepared to face. I worried that because we are people with two uteruses and because of Aion's medical issues that we would never even get approved to adopt, let alone get selected by birth parents. I thought about fostering and dismissed that idea quickly as I don't think Aion would be at all interested and I look so young that how could an older child who didn't know me from birth ever take me seriously as a parental authority. And I want to be a mother, not a guardian. I don't want to contemplate having to give a child back. Also, the problems with adoption also apply to fostering.

I kept these thoughts to myself because some things are just too hard to admit aloud at times like that.

Thursday morning I returned to work. Closed my door and waited. Couldn't work. Couldn't focus on anything. My thoughts were all swirly and dark and hopeless. I watched the clock advance minute-by-minute. I had expected the lab to call around 8-ish, like they had on Day 3. Nope. At 10 I called the nursing line and left a whiny, rambling message about needing the results. I also remembered the post-transfer instruction sheet said I could ask the nurses about counseling referrals if I needed. I asked about that too.

At 10:30 the lab called. It was the embryologist who was there for my transfer. She said she was doing well today, because she had good news for me - they were able to freeze 3! Two were 4BBs and 1 was 3BB, which means it was just a bit smaller, but all were blastocysts and good candidates for frozen transfers (FET). I thanked her profusely, hung up and called Aion.

I don't know if I got any words out before I burst into tears. I just sat there in my office sobbing into the phone for probably 5 minutes. I must have told Aion the results at some point, because they were so excited and happy and relieved and so was I and the big dark cloud lifted and I hugged my belly and decided that everything was going to be ok. Four chances overall from this cycle. I can live with that. I can be HAPPY with that.

I hear all the time that this process is a roller coaster. It seems a tired, overused metaphor....and absolutely accurate. Except I usually like roller coasters.

The nurse called me back later that afternoon. Someone else was in my office so it made the conversation quite awkward. I explained quickly that I had spoken with the lab that morning. She offered to send me the list of counseling referrals - turns out that the clinic offers 1 hour of free counseling in the cost of the IVF cycle (but they sure don't bother to publicize that fact)! I've never had therapy, but I think given how hard that 24 hours was, it probably would be a good idea. I have set myself up with a session for Monday.

So much healthcare for a girl who only ever had to deal with the occasional infection. Dislike.


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Transfer day

I heard nothing on day 4 or the morning of day 5. So I was nervous but excited heading into my transfer...and also squirmy because I was busily trying to empty the clinic's water cooler to make my bladder full. Apparently my efforts were noticed, because the doctor later told me I did an "excellent" job with my bladder. Who says stuff like that?? IVF is weird.

We joked with the nurses while we waited. I got changed in the bathroom so I could...*ahem* clean myself up a bit... and stare longingly at the toilet. No gown this time, just a wrap skirt which you remove immediately on getting up on the table and drape over yourself for 5 minutes of "modesty".

The embryologist came in and talked about the embryos. Gave us a picture of our fresh transfer one. But I saw a bit of disappointment creeping in behind her fake cheerfulness. It was what she called a "cavitating blastocyst". Google tells me these are more often called "cavitating morulas". Morula. They're supposed to be that on day 4, not day 5. And the others...4 were morulas. Not even cavitating. She said they may not make it to freeze.

She had me sign the paper that had all my embryo information on it. I tried to read it, comprehend it, but I couldn't really read the words. All I could think of was how this was just one chance, maybe my only chance, and not a good one at that. I felt more drugged than I ever did during the retrieval.

Then the wrap skirt drape it is completely removed and there's ultrasound gel on your stomach and then all you can do is think about how you must not pee on the doctor.

First the doctor wondered aloud what my uterus looked like because she couldn't remember. I mentioned that it was retroverted but that was all I knew. Apparently that helped her choose a catheter. 

The doc had a look around my uterus and picked a good spot. Aion said it was like a little cubby or a nook...a place with three 'walls' so it wouldn't be able to escape. Good.  Then she did a 'test run' with the catheter and she said it went perfectly.


They had it all set up with a tv on the wall so you could watch the embryologist zoom in on your embryo and pick it up in the syringe and then it's carefully walked into the room and the doc does the exact same thing as the test run and I was still staring at the tv and the empty dish and forgot to watch on the ultrasound monitor. So the nurse asks me if I saw and I said..."Nope." But they pointed out where it was, which was kinda neat. Meanwhile the lab was checking the syringe and stuff to make sure there was no embryo left inside...which there wasn't, it was all inside me.

Then I got to run and go pee. That was very very good but it took me a while to convince myself to start because I had been trying so hard to NOT pee that I couldn't then just PEE. Bodies are stupid.

They added a new medicine to my regimen: Estrace. It's also a vaginal pill, but really really tiny and blue-green. No applicator. More on that in another post.

And then they sent me on my way, with a brief stop at the chocolate dish at the reception desk, which is my favourite clinic-visiting ritual. (Egg retrieval day they were out of chocolate. How cruel is that? I complained loudly.)

Aion and I had about an hour to kill before my post-transfer acupuncture, so we went to a cafe and I had non-caffeinated tea and a quiche and that was good and everything else wasn't. I was in a deep black fog of doom.

Monday, 29 February 2016

My sparkling vagina

You get to stop shots (YAY!) but then you quickly devolve into the joy that is insertables. I get Endometrin, an oblong tablet that you have to attach to a stick and then insert vaginally. They decompose up there and the progesterone fixes all the mess that the stimulation hormones did to your system. Apparently bodies that go through egg retrieval don't want to get pregnant on their own. Not that my body wanted to get pregnant on its own anyway. But I digress.

Endometrin: "Effervescent Vaginal Tablets." Yes, effervescent.





(In case you can't tell on the screen, those rainbows are actually sparkly. I put in lots of effort into my offended stick-woman. Crafts are awesome, even half-assed ones.)


I was so disappointed it doesn't feel like a champagne party in my ladybits. Nope, just chalky disgusting discharge that makes me wonder if any of the progesterone is ending up inside me or if I am spending all kinds of cash in exchange for super sexy goo on pads. So even if my doctor said I could have sex (the instructions say no intercourse and no orgasms. Damn their specificity!) no one would touch me with a ten foot pole. Even the ever gracious Aion. Because ew.

The day after the egg retrieval we got our day 1 update: 7 of the 8 eggs retrieved were mature, and all of them fertilized with ICSI. Such a relief. They gave me a time for a day 3 transfer and told me they'd call that morning after 8am to tell me if the transfer would proceed or if they would push to day 5. Super convenient, right? I left for work late so I could take the call, because if I was having the transfer I needed to take Aion into town with me, but I didn't want to drag us both in if it wasn't necessary. Good choice...because ALL 7 made it to day 3, with 3 clear gold star front runners. More relief. The embryologist actually sounded quite pleased with himself on the phone. So we're both thrilled and hopeful and anxious and all over the place (the last one is mostly just me).

It is super weird to think of how there are 7 possibilities sitting in a dish. My genetic material in a lab outside of my control. Such potential. It's exciting and hard and I do not know how on earth I will make it to a pregnancy test when I can hardly stand waiting for transfer.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Egg retrieval day

Woke up early and had myself a quick shower, first sniffing all my products to decide if they were too scented. Because I do not own a selection of unscented products. Thankfully I do own unscented deodorant.

Despite my best intentions, we rolled out the door a bit later than I wanted, but thankfully Friday traffic on a dry morning meant the commute to the clinic was smooth. We went through the Tim's drive through and for my "light breakfast" I had a muffin and a coffee (to assist with "lower bowel cleansing").

We arrived just a few minutes early, which was lovely because I didn't start the day out with stress. Soon enough, they had me installed in a nicely-sized private room with a comfy lounge chair for me and a shit chair for Aion (poor Aion). I got into my sexy medical nightgown, which had a really nice butt panel for extra modesty! Got to leave my tanktop and warm fuzzy socks on, which was nice.

Remember how I had such a fantastic time getting an IV for my laparoscopy? Well, turns out that IVs just don't like me. They tried in my hand and holy &$#^* I almost screamed and swore loudly at the poor nurse. I guess the clinic doesn't believe in the bee-sting local freezing stuff. So I felt everything, and it was so not ok.

They gave up and went with my arm. Unpleasant, but not even in the same category of pain.

There's a theme here, a pain theme. It began with the IV. But it did not get better.

They gave me two Tylenol and an ativan. The ativan was gross. It didn't really have a taste, but it melts all gritty-like and was not my favourite thing in the world. It also did not do anything whatsoever for me. I felt exactly the same before and after. I mean I am not one to usually get super anxious before medical stuff, but I thought I would feel something...nope. Nada.

After checking my birthdate 18 times and my vitals (coffee made my heart rate fast!) and waiting a bit, they made me go pee. I had the stupid IV in my arm and was trying to be careful when moving around in there, but the toilet paper holder was crap and when I pulled the paper the whole thing came apart and so I was sitting on the can watching the paper roll to the other side of the room. Amazing. And then when I got it the paper shredded in the middle so I got half a piece of paper the first time and had to find the end to unroll the thing properly the second. This is so typical for me.

Finally they led me into the procedure room after I explained they needed to fix the toilet paper holder (nurse said she'd get maintenance to fix it?! It just needs someone without an IV!). Aion was already in there sitting where my head would be. Two nurses scurried around making sure everything was in place and sterile. We had a few great conversations about babies and racism and sexism and how our parents met each other. Totally random. And the whole time I'm up on the table with my legs spread open and mostly covered in plasticized paper, all but my lady bits which are on display hanging off the edge of the table with a spotlight pointed at them. And we waited.

Finally the doctor comes in. She said that she forgot. She finished the morning's ultrasounds and went back to her office to make a few phone calls, then thought "hey, there's something I'm supposed to be doing right now." I know it happens, but why me? Sigh.

The nurse then asks the doctor how much fentanyl to give me, 25 or 50. Doc looks at me and asks how the ativan feels.  I say I can't feel it at all. She sticks in the speculum and starts poking me on the inside and I squirm and say ow and she tells the nurse "50".

And then pain. Not horrible pain, but I don't like this very much pain. This, I understand, was the local vaginal freezing. Speculum out, ultrasound with fancy needle attachment in.

The pressure is normal, and not unlike the usual pressure from my previous ultrasounds. But then she does the needle thing, and I swore and it hurt so unbelievably bad I wanted to give up and say that it wasn't worth it and I wouldn't be having a baby. And the doctor is telling me to breathe and relax and I CAN'T and Aion is freaking out and trying to pet me to calm me and asks if I want to hold her hand but I couldn't move my hand to grab hers because I have to try to breathe and relax and it's completely not possible.

The nurse asks if I want more meds. YES I WANT MORE MEDS.

See, I wasn't expecting to feel this. I mean maybe feel pressure or something, but not screaming horrible pain. No one prepared me for pain. Bloggers I read said they were asleep and felt nothing. I was expecting that. I was expecting a nice nap and waking up to an omelet or something. So this caught me off guard and I don't like pain surprises.

What proceeded was quite simply the most painful 20-minute experience of my life thus far. The doctor said my ovaries were not in a helpful position and I wasn't helping by not relaxing enough. Well they didn't give me enough %&(%# medication to allow me to relax. They did ultimately give me another 50 (total 100) but I think it was too late and the damage was done. It was horrible. I won't lie. I kept apologizing for being a pathetic wimp, but it was just too much.

Mostly what I remember was the pain and trying to breathe and relax my butt. I also remember one of the nurses repeatedly saying things like 'drips' and 'done' and 'changing vials'. The doctor insisting that I relax. Aion petting my cheek.

By the time it was all done, the doc said I did well and that they had four eggs so far. Four? All that for four? I started crying. Just a bit, but ugh, I was mad. I didn't want to cry.

By the time they got me into a wheelchair (with a puppy pad on it for my blood!)  I was feeling a bit better. Didn't faint. Just got in the chair to go 15 whole feet to my recliner. And then they put a new puppy pad on the chair and I had to sit with my bare ass on the pad for a while. They left my IV in, which irritated me a bit. I wanted it out.

One of the nurses sat with us to go over the post-procedure instructions, which was basically "watch tv today, take tylenol if it hurts, take it easy because of big ovaries for two more weeks." I'd get a call Saturday with my results.

After chilling in the chair with my phone for a bit, they came over again, took more vitals, and said I could dress. They also made me go pee again (toilet paper holder still not fixed), and only THEN removed my IV.

Just before we left, they confirmed that there were eight eggs total. You have no idea the relief that number gave me. Eight. Not four. Eight is so many more than four. Twice as many! Of course I'm sure the doctor went for the big follicles first so the later-retrieved ones are less likely to be mature, I figure (I have no idea if that is true, but it is what I was thinking; that's how I'd do it if I were her) but 8!!

Our kind generous friend met us there and drove us home. I proceeded to have a nice nap (maybe the fentanyl finally started working?) and watched tv the rest of the evening as instructed. Didn't need any tylenol. In fact, I have felt completely fine since the instruments of torture were removed. Only bled a tiny little bit. Small mercies.

A moment's respite

I can't explain the joy of Thursday, the day of no holes in my skin. No shots, no blood draws, no nothing. Calm.
Of course my thoughts were racing and I spent a great portion of the evening googling tips for successful egg retrieval. There weren't a great many tips...people seemed to say that the retrieval was pretty straight forward and, aside for a bit of bloating etc afterward, not particularly eventful. Perfect.
Before bed, I wanted to re-read the instruction sheet that the clinic had given me - things like what to eat and when, what to wear and bring to the clinic, etc. I couldn't find it. I mean, I had read it on Wednesday and mostly remembered what it said, but there is reassurance in having the piece of paper in front of me and I wanted the reassurance. So I asked Aion.
"Oh. That. You want that?"
"Yes..........."
"Um...the dog...kind of ate it."
We retrieved the piece of paper (well, the shreds of paper) from the garbage bin. Tiny itsy bitsy bits of paper. Shredded in the exceptionally perfect way so as to render completely impossible any sort of useful reconstruction.
So, my prep was a mix of what I remembered and common sense. No fragrances. Shower before coming in (Ok, cuz I had totally planned to go in stinky and disgusting?) Light breakfast. Check. We got this.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Trigger time!

My follicles grew so much yesterday! Things look good for my Friday transfer.

I was not expecting needing to give myself more meds today. I expected the orgalutran but they had me do another 150 menopur and then 150 gonal f at noon. That was annoying because I thought I was being so clever using up my ends of shots the other night...and then I had to buy another 300 iu pen anyway and only use half of it. Ugh. Nothing to be done now.

I also got to buy the trigger shot which had to be refrigerated.  They premixed it for me which was nice. And I had to give it right at 10pm. Done and done.

The hcg actually hurt a bit...not the needle but the site started to feel a bit sore about 30 seconds post injection.

But no more shots!!!! Other than the iv for the retrieval but that is different.  I don't have to give it to myself. So glad to be done shots.

Tomorrow will be weird. Nothing to do but wait.

And I can finally stop carrying around my little injection bag (an old makeup case). Yay!

Still not done

I'm sitting in the clinic waiting room. I've done 12 days of stims so far and have been in for tests Monday, Tuesday and am back today (Wednesday).  So tired, both from waking up early to come in and from the meds. It is hard to focus at work and hard to not just be grumpy and frustrated all the time.

Work has been quite good to me though. They are understanding of my unspecified need for endless medical appointments  and changing schedule and terrible attention span. I wish I didn't need to work though. Seems like many people doing ivf take time off.

Yesterday was the first time I needed to buy a whole day of meds all at once. The joyful moment when you realize this is costing  $550/day on meds alone?? Wow.

Doc said yesterday that retrieval is likely Friday.  But my follicles were still so small. I hope something miraculous shows up today and I intend to ask more numbers questions today so I know a bit better where I stand.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Stimming and Testing - Part II

Day 6 of stims I went back to the clinic for another blood test and my first ultrasound. Oh god, what a horrible blood test. My veins are small on the best of days. This day they decided to completely hide. The nurse tried both arms and I swear was DIGGING around in there trying to hit a vein. I started to get lightheaded and so they had to bring me juice and let me sit for a while. I felt really bad for everyone else, because I was first in line at the clinic that morning and they were with me trying to keep me upright for 15-20 minutes. They actually gave up, told me to drink another juice, go get my ultrasound and then they would try for blood again. Ugh.

The ultrasound (Dildo-cam!) felt fine. It was really fast. The doctor spoke really quickly and I couldn't catch most of what she was saying to the tech to write down. I know I had about 4 follicles on the left and maybe 5? on the right. The biggest was 8mm. The doctor said "They're growing, but slowly." NOT what I wanted to hear. She mumbled about dosages but then realized I had increased the dose two days before, so she just told me to continue and come back Friday (Day 8).

Honestly, I can't say I was experiencing symptoms that differed from my usual monthly fluctuations. I did cry at a silly shared post on Facebook, haha (it was the one called 'Wolf Surgery'). But nothing more than that.


Day 8 of stims was Friday. Another blood test (no major problems this time - blood came slowly but thankfully only one try for my vein) and ultrasound. 11mm this time. Again, growing, but slowly. When I asked more about it, the doctor didn't seem too concerned, just wanted me to continue as I was and add the Orgalutran shot. That's a turning point, so a positive sign I think, but still. I was pretty upset to be 'slow'. After the ultrasound I went into the rooms the clinic provides for doing the morning injections (you can't do the morning injections until after the bloodwork) and I was just sitting there looking at my soft stomach skin and thinking about how I didn't know if this would work and how I couldn't possibly do all of this and have it fail. I have no money to do another cycle. This is it. This is my chance. There is so much riding on all of this...I just had what I think was maybe a minor panic attack and I didn't know if I was going to be able to do the injection and leave that room. It took about 10 minutes, but I did it and it was ok.

I realize that somewhere along the line I stopped thinking about the baby goal and started thinking about just getting through the day, that particular shot. I don't know if that is particularly healthy, but it happened. Right now I can't picture being pregnant. I can't picture having a kid. I'm just trying to give myself these shots and not freak out about it. One day at a time, at least right now.

I met up with a good friend on Friday evening. That helped. We talked about her wedding plans and my overly tmi baby-making and it was good. And then I went to another party where people don't know what I'm doing, which was also good in a completely different way. I love my friends, especially the ones who don't judge me when I choose water over wine. Seriously, that is so nice right now.

And Friday night was another car injection. On Broadway, parked at the side of the road under a streetlamp. Waiting for all the people to walk by so I could pull my dress up around my waist for long enough for the alcohol wipe to dry and for my courage to come. I think it was another 10 minutes, pulling my dress up and down, holding the needle an inch away from my skin and telling myself that the next breath I would do it, 3,2,1, ok, next breath, next, just do it, why can't you do it, it doesn't even hurt, don't you want this. I never knew how hard this would be, and for the most unexpected reasons.

Above where I said I wasn't really feeling side effects? That is almost true, with the exception of tiredness. By 11:30 I thought I was going to just fall asleep on my friend's couch. Super lame.

Saturday morning, Day 9, the wonderful fabulous Aion did my shots for me. It helped. It was nice to have Aion involved and nice to not have to stab myself for once (twice actually). But I did my evening shot on my own, and with greater courage. In fact, I used up all the left over meds in the Gonal-F pens (they have slightly more medication in them than 900iu, and I did not want to waste any because of how expensive it is...so I stabbed myself 3 separate times but I got 88iu from the bottom of the "done" pens...I don't know if that will ultimately matter but I will save whatever money I can here. (I actually park down the street from the clinic in a free spot and walk so I can avoid spending $2.50 to park in the clinic lot...every penny counts!)

And that brings me up to date to today, Sunday, Day 10. I go back for more blood work and ultrasound tomorrow morning. I don't know what will come, but I hope there's been more and better growth and that I will find out how close I am to being done.

Stimming & Testing - Part I

Day 2 of stimming I woke up with a wicked headache. Called the nurse line and they told me that was normal; I could take tylenol and needed more electrolytes. They recommended Gatorade (YUCK) or coconut water (thank goodness).

I was on 150iu Menopur in the morning and 150iu of Gonal-F in the afternoon. The injections were going fine. I stuck with sitting on the floor for the injections and still needed to breathe a LOT and go through the motions a few too many times before actually getting up the nerve to stab myself with the needle. I think it was the evening of the second day that I screwed up and grazed myself with the needle before chickening out so I had to do it twice. That sucked, but I used a new needle just in case nicking my skin dulled it in any way. They give you tons of needles, so why not.

On day 4 I had a bit of dull pain on both sides. I think I was feeling my ovaries for the first time! But the feeling went away and hasn't returned.

Day 4 was also my first blood test. They called me in the afternoon and told me to up my Gonal-F to 300iu/day. This was irritating news - I wanted to respond to low doses to save money! I had thought that because I'm a fairly small person I would respond to lower doses but apparently not. Maybe my metabolism is too high? I don't know why, but now that stupid expensive Gonal-F pen only lasts three shots. Ouch.

Speaking of meds, I had to go into the clinic Tuesday morning to buy more meds because of the increased dose - I didn't have enough Gonal-F for my Tuesday evening injection. Irritating. At least the clinic is on the way to work.

That evening I went to a movie after work, which meant doing my Gonal-F injection in the car in the parking lot at Metrotown. Low point. The steering wheel got in the way of a good angle so I gave myself a huge bruise, too. Ugh.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Hysteria Scope!

I realize I forgot to write about my hysteroscopy, which I had on about day 8 or so while I was on the pill. I was confused I needed yet another 'checking out my insides' procedure, given I have already had two HSGs and a laparoscopy...but what the hell. All the scopys.

The HSG just takes pictures of your insides from the outsides by filling up the insides (including the tubes) with contrast fluid. I had mine at the hospital because it needs x-rays.

My hysteroscopy took place at my clinic. It is an awful lot like an IUI - speculum + catheter, but the catheter is attached to a monitor and there's a camera at the end, so you can see all your squishy insides on the monitor. It's hilarious. I could see the pinkish walls of my uterus (doc said my lining was lush!) and every so often, a thread of white floated across the screen - I guess some kind of cervical mucus. The procedure itself was less than 5 minutes. Like an IUI, it was uncomfortable. I had a slight bit of cramping and a bit of bleeding afterward, but nothing too shocking. Easy peasy.

I understand the need for the hysteroscopy is to look for uterine polyps. They can even be removed during the procedure! But I was polyp free. Hooray!

I wanted to take a picture but I forgot my cell phone. Oops. (I tried to google 'scopy' to get a picture for here but all I found are motorcycles?)

Ok, here's one that looks pretty much like mine did:



The best part was the heating pad, which warmed the place for my butt and then kept the cramps a bit at bay. Don't know why they don't do that for an IUI - maybe it's not good for sperm.

The worst part was, like I commonly do with medical procedures, I had some silly blood pressure thing during the exam and so I had to sit on the table for a few minutes before they would let me get down. Probably my fault for not eating lunch first. I'm trying to learn that lesson but I'm really not very good at it!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Useful contests and give-aways

I like to troll the contests & freebies sites in search of good deals. I've actually won a few things (a weekend getaway was my biggest win) and if I'm not doing anything else useful I'll scroll through the offerings on my laptop and enter relevant contests.

Here are a couple I've found recently that may be of interest to my readers.

This contest is to win a fertility pack, including a saliva ovulation predictor kit, sensitive pregnancy test, basal thermometer, and a $100 Visa gift card: http://www.babypost.com/contests/enter-win-geratherm-family-planning-bundle-worth-220

Here's a link to a promo code that gets you a free body band or 2 free belly bands, just pay shipping (these are covers for pregnant bellies that allow you to keep wearing your pre-pregnancy pants). I ordered one of each: http://www.freestufffinder.ca/hot-2-free-belly-bands-or-free-maternity-body-39-95-value/

It was rather hard for me to admit I might need the next product, but free is a whole lot better than paying for Depends: https://www.depend.com/products/get-samples 


I'm not making money on any of these - just trying to spread the joy! I figure this is costing too much as it is for all the medical interventions, so every cent I can save on other necessary things is a good thing.

Monday, 8 February 2016

The Calendar & an excuse to scrapbook

A few weeks ago when I started the pill ("down-regulation"), my clinic emailed me a calendar. They made a big fuss about it - had to print and bring the calendar to the orientation, need to bring the calendar to every appointment. I don't really get it - I'm paying how much and they can't print out paper for me? And of course the calendar is really ugly.

I have a bit of a problem with ugly paper. I like things that look nice. This doesn't even look clinical - it just looks messy. I don't like it. I don't want to carry around a shabby folded piece of ugly paper with me everywhere. (I know, silly, right? Who cares about stuff like this? Me, apparently.)

I printed a copy really really tiny on cardstock. With a really fine-tipped pen I can write in the correct doses at each appointment, and the card will fit nicely into my purse. It's not quite business card size, but not too much bigger. Business card size would mean I probably wouldn't have room for new doses, so that defeats the purpose.

Small and on cardstock is better. But it's still ugly.

I thought about getting a planner and re-writing everything. I like the pocket-size Moleskines. They're compact and utilitarian. Just one problem: it's February and there are none to be found.

So I made myself a little planner scrapbook for the next four weeks.

I searched through the blogosphere and Pinterest for a printable weekly planner, but I couldn't find one I liked, so I made my own that fit the style of the paper I had chosen. I printed four weeks worth for where things should be happening...from the day I start stimulation through to implantation. I added colourful banners for notable events or days - first injection, first blood test, etc.  And a few stickers.


But it isn't the official calendar. So I made a pocket between two pages, and stuck the tiny cardstock official calendar in there with a round pull-tab. Now I can have it with me just in case there's a need for the official calendar (though I hope I can use mine!).

I also had this cute little 'Health Check' card amongst my scrapbook supplies, so I added it to the pocket, too. The pocket has some more room, so if I get any other necessary or interesting (but ugly) pieces of paper, I can stuff them in there.

Obviously this is a work in progress, because I don't know the dates for everything upcoming. But I feel SO much better carrying this around rather than a folded piece of 8.5 X 11.

And the whole thing fits neatly into a little envelope I also decorated, so that if it falls out of my purse at work it won't announce "I'm doing IVF!!!!" to the world.
 

I haven't made a scrapbook for quite a while so I had a ton of fun making this. I actually started out making a 2016 monthly planner; this little one was an adjunct to that project.

Anyone else get creative with their calendar?
By the way, if anyone is interested in getting the source file for the Weekly Planner, shoot me a comment!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Gonal-f & irony

One of the medications I will be taking this cycle is Gonal-f. I wanted to do some research to try to determine if there was any difference between the multi-use pen (which they carry at my clinic) and the single doses, and then planned to ask at my local pharmacy to see if I could get either option and if there was any price difference. I know I could ask at my clinic, and perhaps I will, but I also like googling and I can't help but think about how the clinic is motivated to have good outcomes but not necessarily motivated to give me the least expensive options.

I have not managed to find the answer to my question, because I read some of the information on Gonal-f on the product monograph at drugs.com (http://www.drugs.com/pro/gonal-f.html). And this sentence stopped me in my tracks:

Recombinant FSH production occurs in genetically modified Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells cultured in bioreactors.

Say what?



By the way, Menopur is made from the purified urine of post-menopausal women. Somehow that doesn't freak me out nearly a much as GMO-hamsters.


I had been thinking about feeding any resulting baby organic food, etc. How ironic.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva)?

Disclaimer: I'm not a scientist, not a person with any kind of actual clue. Just a patient who likes to google.

My clinic offers an "Eeva test" (Early embryo viability assessment) for the rather staggering cost of $1500. Apparently this tool takes snapshots of embryo growth every 5 minutes and then turns all that data into an algorithm that can assist embryologists in their selection of embryos for transfer.
At every meeting it has been mentioned as an option for my cycle. And of course I only want to do this once and if $1500 can improve my chances, maybe I should go for it. A bit like insurance? 
LONG post continues after cut....
Tl;dr, I'm not convinced, and I'm not spending $1500 for Eeva. But I would be very very interested to hear what others think.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Disappearing Act

I was doing pretty well with the blogging, but clearly just stopped. Things got really busy at work, and in life...Christmas is always a busy time and we had family visiting and I barely turned the computer on. I thought about blogging but I didn't blog and then it became this self-fulfilling prophesy where I didn't want to catch up on all the missed time so I put off blogging so there was more to update so I put off blogging.

And maybe I got a bit tired of the lines and the sticks and the acronyms and the online world.

IUIs #2, 3 and 4 were all negative. I did much better with the waiting on these. Much less crazy. Able to distract. Probably because I had no time to think about what was going on inside because there was so much going on with work/life. It got a bit stressful there and I'm not all that surprised that IUI#4 didn't work because I was just...not sleeping well, not eating well, you know. Generally doing all the things I shouldn't.

Amazingly, I only had to avoid drinking for my work Christmas party. All other events I was clear, which was nice that I could enjoy myself without having to make stupid excuses. That was nice.

So after IUI#4 failed, we had some decisions to make. We have one vial of sperm left. I do not want to pay for more, plus shipping, plus receiving fee. It's all too much. So while my doctor said that I'm not diagnosed "infertile" and in need of IVF until 6 failed well-timed IUIs, we have decided to move on to IVF. I'm done with 15% chances. 70% (for my age) sounds SO much better.

I'm actually saying this a bit out of order. I was still within the two week wait for IUI#4 when we met with the doctor to discuss IVF. We had basically made the decision over Christmas that we would use the last sperm vial for IVF, and put all our eggs (hah!) and more importantly, money, into hopefully making more than one embryo that will turn one sperm vial into more than one actual try. I don't know, it makes sense in my head.