Monday, August 24, 2015

Back in the Game

(Started writing this yesterday, 8/23)- Just walked into the Dr's office and there's a lot of people here, like always, so while I wait I figured I would get this updated for all of you who are not on Instagram. :) The past 9 days have been SUPER eventful in the land of my reproductive parts (medically speaking, anyway)!! As mentioned in my last post, I stopped the pill on 8/10 and went to the Dr 8/14 for a blood test to make sure all hormones were where they wanted. Everything looked great so we were instructed to start injectable meds that night. 

Friday, 8/14 through Sunday, 8/16 I was to inject 125iu of Follistim and 75iu (1 vial) of Menopur each night. Follistim is in a readyject pen so I just attach a new needle tip, dial to my dose, and go. It looks the scariest to others bc it's big but it's actually the easiest in my opinion. It's also the most familiar because it's what I used for some of my IUI cycles. Menopur is a bit more complicated because you have to mix/prep it. Luckily this became Scott's job so I'm thankful for that. I would do it if I had to but it's one less thing I have to worry or spaz about. 

Friday, 8/14/15- So here's the first night. Many emotions. Excitement but also pure panic. Remember I've had a fear of needles like my whole life. Doing what feels like hundreds of them by now does NOT make it much easier. 

Following the advice of some friends and fellow fertility warriors, I iced my belly beforehand (maybe 5-10 mins) to numb the area a bit. I of course freak out beforehand and beg super nervous but we play some fun pumped up music (anything that makes you smile or fits the situation, makes you wanna dance, whatever) and inject away!!

 I do think the ice helped because to be honest I really didn't feel or mind the actual needles. These ones are pretty tiny (1/2 inch). It's actually the medicine that bothered me a bit. I had heard Menopur burned, so we did that one first to get it over with. I knew what I was getting into with Follistim (never did that high of a dose before so that made me nervous at first bc if was like double haha) so we saved that for last. 

Menopur was tricky bc it did feel like an uncomfortable burn while going in, so I tensed up and was scared to press the plunger in. Eventually I did it all but it took me a while bc it was just different and awkward. (I got better as time went on.) It's not a fun shot, but what is? It's over pretty quickly and on to the next one. It's all for a good cause. I was miserable after on the first night because it's just overwhelming, different, and unfair. But they are Miracle meds, as my friend Jess called them, and this wouldn't be possible without them. :) 

Saturday, 8/15/15-- Night 2 went a teeny bit better. My hand was shaking but I didn't freak out as much as the night before, so there's that. It's also good to switch sides each night to give your skin/belly a break. 

Sunday, 8/16/15-- Night 3- getting a little more into the groove of things & getting a bit more silly... Oh, and fun bandaids make it better. They're not necessary but if they make you smile, why not? 

Monday, 8/17 I was due back to the Dr's office for a blood test & ultrasound. They like to see you after 3 days of meds to see what's happening & then determine whether they need to modify your med doses or not. 

Did I mention the morning monitoring system works on first-come, first-serve? The office opens at 7 but I heard people start showing up at 6:15 outside. On Friday I got there at 6:10 and was already the 3rd person!! Yikes! Luckily it was just for blood so I was done by 7:45 and on my way to work (I had summer school these past 2 weeks). But I knew I had to step it up this week. 

This next pic was me sitting in the hallway outside the Dr office last Friday, along with 9 other women, all before they opened at 7am. I brought a book but, let's face it, I was way too nervous (and TIRED- up at 4:30 for an hour drive) to read anything. Everyone mostly sits in the hallway in silence until the office opens. Then we file in line and silently walk in to put our names on the sign-in sheet and find a chair to just sit and wait some more. Hurry up and wait. Wait. And wait some more. I think this was the most draining part of the week/process so far. Waking up so early and driving nearly 2 hours by the time I get to school, being awake for 4+ hours by the same time. It's draining. I woke up cranky most of those mornings and was thrilled to "sleep in" to 6:15/6:30 on the days I didn't need to go but still had summer school. I woke up Friday actually sobbing because there was a crazy intense thunderstorm as I was getting up and I didn't want to drive in it, it was pointless if I couldn't see anything on the road anyway. I said "I'm not rushing to be first in this weather. It's ridiculous. It's not far." I snoozed like 10 mins and got ready anyway, luckily by then it had slowed down and passed. But it's like get up at the crack of dawn to fight to be first, or go later and sit in the waiting room for over an hour anyway. Either way it stinks, and if you have to go to work, you have no choice but to get there as early as you can. 

Monday I left the house at 5am and ended up being the 2nd person there, by literally a second. There are 2 ways into the building and a girl and I walked in at the same time but different doors. She beat me by the smallest bit but in all fairness she was there at 5:45 and I wasn't until 5:55. The building doesn't open until 6 so we ended up meeting on the second floor and not knowing we weren't alone. I was happy to be second, anything sooner than Friday was a win. 

I got a quick blood draw and was off to the ultrasound room in no time. My assigned Dr happened to be there so that was a nice surprise (there are about 10 Dr's in this practice so I get the feeling it'll always be different). They found a bunch of follicles and only measured 1 because at that point it was too early for anything to happen and they just needed 1 to get an idea. All looked good so I kept my doses the same and was told to come back Wednesday for a repeat visit. The Dr said each ultrasound from here on out would be longer and longer as the egg follicles grow bigger. They don't want them to grow too fast and ovulate on their own, so careful monitoring is important. 

Monday, 8/17/15-- night 4--
Starting to get used to things by now! :)

Tuesday, 8/18/15-- night 5
Same routine. Even though it gets a bit easier, it also doesn't at the same time. I still freak out momentarily before doing it. It's always fine, just the anticipation they gets me every time! The helpful thing is that each day I was done, I knew I was one day closer to being done with stims/belly injections. And it's all for a great cause! 

Wednesday, 8/19/15-- night 6
I returned to the office for a repeat of Monday except this ultrasound was a few mins longer. As more follicles were forming and growing, they needed an idea of what size the lead ones were. Ideally they want them all to grow together like a cluster of grapes, but if a few take the lead, they run the risk of ovulating on their own too soon and being useless. So although this is common, they often prescribe a third drug to keep those overachievers at bay. This happened in my case and Ganirelix was prescribed for Wed & Thurs to make sure the bigger follicles didn't release before given the signal to. (*Isn't science amazing... I mean really, this is all pretty fascinating!*)

I had heard Ganirelix wasn't the best. Up until this point, Menopur wasn't my friend bc it burns as it goes in. Some girls on Instagram were referring to Ganirelix as the devil, the worst, etc. Although this freaked me out, I'm glad I had a heads up on it or I would have maybe thought something was wrong with me. I kept my routine the same and added it last- if it was going to hurt, I didn't want to get thrown off and not be able to do the others. I added it last so I could be DONE when it was finished. It's a convenient shot in the sense that it's pre-filled and it's all ready to go in a single-dose syringe. The downfall is that the needle itself is somehow duller than the others, even though it's the same size and gage. Weird. I read about this but wondered how it could be until I did it for myself. It doesn't slide into your skin as easy as the others do- you kind of have to dart it in a little faster so it breaks the skin, otherwise it bounces back and won't penetrate. That's a weird/freaky sight for anyone watching. It didn't hurt but is just a weird weird thing to experience and Scott was a bit freaked by the sight of it. Haha whoops. So jab that one in faster or just be prepared to push it in. To my surprise the medicine itself went in super easy and didn't bug me at all... then BAM, about 10-20 seconds after it was out, it hit me. OUCH!!!! Not gonna lie, I kept saying it felt like I was stabbed with a knife (not that I actually know what that feels like, but what I would imagine it to). Bottom line, owwww. I found that icing it and massaging it (any combo of the two) helpd it to feel better. Just remember these are miracle meds and this is all for a good cause!

Thursday, 8/20/15-- night 7--
We actually didn't get any pics of this night's injections. We had tickets to a local baseball game with some friends and once Scott got home, we had like a 5 min window to get it all done so we could leave. I could have done them alone before he got home, but I like the moral support. So we were in a rush and I just went for it- 1, 2, 3, Done! Iced in the car and we were good to go. 

Friday, 8/21/15-- night 8--
Morning monitoring again. I got there 2nd Friday, by a second again, but the girl was there since 5:20 and she was only there for a blood draw.  I can't and won't compete with being there earlier than 5:50/6:00, and technically I was first for ultrasound bc she wasn't getting one, and they catch up 2 people on blood by the time ultrasounds are ready to go. I went in and this time they measured each and every follicle. At this point I was getting closer and closer, so they wanted to know where each follicle was and how big they were.  They measured 25 worth measuring, which took about 20-25 mins, and also said that my uterine lining was "textbook". I was super excited about this because I had some occasional lining issues for IUI cycles with the meds I was on. The lining is important because it's where the embryo will implant and dig in to stay snug and develop into a fetus. It needs to be a certain thickness for better chances. and mine finally is great, a bit early in the game. 

I got my blood results back and they said things were progressing very nicely and I was responding very well to the meds (Which we guessed). Got the report to continue all 3 shots and return Sunday. 
Scott has gladly taken on the role of mixing and prepping the Menopur for me. Menopur comes in powder form in a small vial. It needs to be mixed with a vial of sodium chloride and then drawn back into the syringe. He has taken on this role from day 1 and I love that he's been involved in that part. Also shown is our sharps container getting very full. Don't worry, we have plenty more. 

Saturday, 8/22/15-- night 9
Same routine... and HOPEFUL that it's my last night on these (Spoiler alert- it turned out to be in the end!). The nurse who called Friday said it looked like I was getting closer and retrieval could possibly be around Tuesday. I didn't know for sure that this was our last night of stims (stimulation drugs) but I sure acted like it!! You'd think it would be easier to inject hoping it was the last one, but I got more antsy for some reason and it was harder. I think all the meds were finally sinking into my system and making me a bit more of a mess too.

Our buddy, Kokopelli, a fertility God, has been on this journey with me for a few years. Even back before seeing a fertility doctor. A school mom let me borrow it a few years back, in hopes that we would conceive then, before knowing we had some speed bumps. I still break it out every once in a while when big things are happening. 

Closeup of the sharps container getting filled. I know we don't need to put the bottles in but it's kind of instinctive to put it all together. 

Sunday, 8/23/15--
Morning monitoring checkup, same deal as Friday, measuring each follicle. Scott was able to come with me, being a weekend, and I was excited for him to see the ultrasound part. He's seen a follicle or two via ultrasound before for one of our IUI cycles, but this was a whole new ballgame. Essentially it's lots of shades of gray, black, and white on the screen. The follicles are dark spots and together they look like a cluster of grapes. We don't have a pic of my scan, but I found this one online to give an idea of what we saw and what they measure when it shows up on the screen. 

Each dark circle is a separate egg follicle and they measured the width and height for each. Except this time it exceeded 25... the Dr on Sunday went all the way up to... 39!!! (Enter complete FEAR here.) 39 is INSANE. They like to aim for around 15, my Dr said. 25 was phenomenal... 39 makes me terrified to hyper-stimulate (produce too many and fill up with fluid, bloating up and not feeling well, not making it a good idea to transfer the embryo shortly after). 39 also doesn't mean that all are mature, good quality, or even useful. I was happy with 25 but 39 really does scare me, I'm not getting my hopes up too high that they are all good. Scott was paying more attention than me and he thinks she measured every single one, even the little ones that won't really mean anything. So perhaps the 25 number would be ok in the end. 

*Side note: I was getting extremely cranky today, all the 9 days of stims finally caught up to me. I was cranky, tired, and just felt off. I was legit not fun to be around (sorry Scott). 

As for hyper-stimulating, I guess it's something you get or you don't, and there's not much I can do personally to avoid it at the moment. I have to watch for certain symptoms (extreme bloat, crazy weight gain in a day-two, nausea, vomiting, etc.) and I am at risk for it, but there is one glimmer of hope. The Dr prescribed me a trigger shot that's slightly diff from the norm I think. Normally they trigger ovulation to happen at time of egg retrieval with an HCG shot (HCG is the human pregnancy hormone, basically. I'm not sure why it triggers but it does.), but this is common for causing hyper-stimulation in some cases. However, if you add in a second shot, of Lupron, it has a counter effect and prevents hyper-stimulation. That's what I was given, 2 diff meds to work as a combined trigger. Lupron was SubQ (subcutaneous, meaning it goes into the fat, aka my belly, like all others before) and the Pregnyl was IM (intramuscular, meaning it goes into my butt muscle and I need Scott to do it because of the angle and because it's a 1.5 inch mama jamma of a needle!). 

The Dr said I was VERY close and guessed I would trigger either Sunday or Monday, depending on my hormone levels from the blood draw. I got a call around 3:00 that my levels showed I was, indeed, ready. She said my retrieval was set for Tuesday at 10:00am and to trigger at midnight!!!!  

We could have gone to bed and set an alarm, but we ended up being up until midnight. I was extremely terrified because of the muscle shot. I worked myself up and was feeling super nervous. But when 11:40 rolled around and we each prepped a shot, it started to become a little exciting. Sure this is no fun but we have to do it, no way around it, so let's get going! 

One image we found of where the muscle shots go. However, I had a nurse draw on my behind today so that we know where to aim with future shots. Scott was super close and he did a great job. It turns out he was super nervous and almost wanted to back out, but he did it. We have many more injections like this ahead of us (and more if we end up pregnant) but now the first one is behind us. The others won't be as stressful because they won't be specifically timed like this one was. I also ordered some numbing cream and will do anything to make it easier on me. 

Is he enjoying this a little too much???

Bottom line- Scott did a great job!! I did the Lupron in my belly no prob. I went back to the Dr today for a final blood draw to ensure the meds are in my system (happy to report that they are) and to get pre-op instructions!! So I'm all ready to go and tomorrow egg retrieval is set for 10am. 

Here's to hoping for all good things!!! Positive vibes & prayers would be greatly appreciated!! I feel like I'll never rest easy until there is a baby in our arms. Each step of the way will give me new worries and fears. But one step at a time and I'll get there. 

Sorry if parts of this don't make sense. I was struggling to get it done before I go to bed, and falling asleep every few mins. I would wake up to see I was beginning to type whatever I was thinking/dreaming about, or hearing on the TV. Whoops. Makes no sense if that's the case. Sorry. 

Ta Ta For Now!! 

Let's go hatch & fertilize some eggs!! 


1 comment:

  1. Best wishes for lots of good quality eggs and great embryos!! And look after yourself after egg collection because you deserve it :)