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?"
"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 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:

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:

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: 

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!