Friday, August 28, 2015

Progesterone Party- Our New Nightly Entertainment

Progesterone shots are our new nightly routine before bed. How exciting!! Lucky us! From occasional celebratory alcoholic shots to fertility shots. Haha! This post will mostly be about the progesterone in oil (PIO) shots, but first I wanted to give a post-retrieval update.

The night following egg retrieval was crummy in the sense of sleep. I slept on the couch so A) I didn't have to climb the stairs and B) I wouldn't disturb Scott or vice versa. We snuggle a lot and didn't want to jab into me accidentally. He was sweet enough to sleep on the other couch so that he was nearby in case I needed anything. I was super comfy on the couch but was up every 1-1.5 hours. Blah- I hate feeling like you've been asleep for half the night and find out it's been an hour. This literally happened from 11pm to about 7am. But I felt semi better in the morning. 

I still had a lot of cramps (I rarely get menstrual cramps and if I do they're pretty mild, so this was definitely more than I am used to). Again, knowing the process and the needle used to retrieve the eggs and where it went, of course I was still uncomfortable. I kept taking Tylenol throughout the day and using the heating pad. Guzzling Gatorade and making sure I stayed hydrated and peed enough. My belly was hurting and a bit bloated but nothing too extreme. Thankfully no hyperstimulation symptoms. The nurse called me in the afternoon to check on me and she said everything I described was totally normal and acceptable. Phew! 

The most anticipated call of the day, however, was from the embryologist in the lab. I knew I would hear from her at some point in regards to our fertilization report. She called around 2 (the end of the expected time frame, long day on my end, haha) and said...

Ahhhhh!!!!! Talk about thrilled!!! This is very exciting news. We started with 25 retrieved and 18 fertilized. She said 20 something were mature and out of that we ended up with 18 as of Wednesday.

It doesn't mean all 18 will survive to the freeze/usable/blastocyst/embryo stage. It's just nature that some drop off at each step. We lost 7 from retrieval to fertilization but even that isn't bad. Let's say 50% of this 18 make it, that's still 9. I don't expect only 50% to carry on, but you never know. Trying to be cautious in my expectations. Either way, praying we still end up with good news in the end. I would love to not have to repeat the stimulation and retrieval steps ever again, or at least not for many years if so. 

Just out of curiosity I asked which were fertilized via ICSI and which regular. She said they did 12 ICSI and 7 fertilized, while they did 13 regular inseminatkon and 11 fertiized. 7-11, hehe. :) here we go with the fun numbers game again. I was surprised ICSI had a lower rate than the regular but maybe it was just luck of the draw of which eggs were thrown into the ICSI pool and which weren't. Either way it doesn't matter at this point because 18 is 18, no matter how they got there. 18 potential chances of hope. Our future child(ren) are in that group, we hope & pray!! 

This means my transfer will be a day 5 transfer, and will be this Sunday, August 30th, 2015. We won't know a time until tomorrow, as egg retrievals take priority for appointments, being time sensitive. Transfers happen after, so we'll see where we end up. Ironically we have tickets for an air shot at a local air base and it's for Sunday. We've had them for months and Scott has been all kinds of little-kid excited about it. We may still make it to part of the show depending on the appt time (don't worry, low activity level for me- It's sitting and watching, light walking, and 5 mins from home). I feel bad of the timing but obviously we both feel our child is more important. It's just funny bc that's our luck to pick a date for something and have an overlap. :) it's a happy and exciting, welcoming overlap though! Bring it on!!

This brings us to our PIO shots. Luckily we had 2 full nights off from injections (that was amazing, after 30 needles of some sort stuck in me in a 10-day period). We were instructed to start them the day after retrieval, anytime in the evening. We are going with a window of 8-10pm so it's pretty much somewhere just before bed. We are usually home together by this time and if it's eventually some other event, we can prob push it back a little after 10. We are "getting old" and aren't out much past 10 lately anyway. Ha! 

Ok so first injection- Wednesday, 8/26/15. We inject 1cc of progesterone in oil, which is pretty thick stuff (being in oil, duh), and it has to be injected intramuscularly, with a 1.5inch needle. Yowsa!!!!! 

Here's the suggested injection site: 

Scott preps it for me (NO mixing, so it's a piece of cake for him compared to the Menopur he was so good at mixing) & I can honestly say he's becoming quite the pro at this. He was a nervous wreck the night of the trigger shot but once he got through that and did amazingly, he's now totally fine with giving these. It's not easy putting a giant needle into your loved one (see his guest post on here a few days back). 

Before injecting, we apply numbing cream to the spot he plans to inject. It's a lidocaine cream we got on Amazon, at the suggestion of someone's YouTube videos I found on doing her own PIO shots. It's got 5% lidocaine and works wonders so far. It's $20 for a small bottle but I think it'll get us far. If it helps, I don't care how much it costs. I need to stay calm and hey, what the heck. 

So anyway, Scott applies the cream and I give it a good 20-30 mins to take effect. Then I ice it for 5-10 mins. Then it's shot time. He cleans the area to rub off the cream but also to prepare the site, with alcohol pads. Then he spreads the skin taught (going into a muscle is diff than fat, where you want to squeeze it up), injects in a dart-like motion (but don't let go!) all 1.5 inches. To make sure you didn't hit a vein, you need to pull back on the plunger a teeny bit to make sure there's no blood. If you're good, start pushing in the oil. Because it's thick, it goes in slowly. When done, remove needle, cover with gauze and some pressure, apply a cute bandaid, and massage the area. We also at this point throw the heating pad in the microwave and apply some heat to the area too. I guess all this helps it settle in, avoid welts/clumps, and it just feels nice. 

My job is the easy part I guess. Aside from freaking out and being shy of a panic attack the first night (to which Scott put on our wedding song and calmed me down instantly! Gosh I love him!), I just have to stand there and breathe. I put all my weight on the opposite leg to loosen the muscle, I DON'T look, I put my head down into a pillow, and I just breathe until it's over. There's an initial pinch and then that's it. The oil isn't painful in any way, it's not like the stinging medicine I was injecting the last 2 weeks. One needle a night compared to 3. So there's that for my silver lining. 

PIO shots are a literal pain in your butt, but it's doable. I have no choice. (Well, I do, but I realllllllllly don't want the all-day panic of the suppository cream). Scott loves being involved, and it's absolutely bringing us even closer. I have to place 1000000% of my trust in him and know I'll be ok. Plus his job is super important- he's providing the hormone to set up a home for our baby/babies. Progesterone is a necessary hormone to get and sustain a pregnancy. Since my eggs were taken out this cycle, my body assumes I ovulated and will get my period. So it's not producing it, and it wouldn't recognize embryos being implanted. So therefore we have to trick the system and sneak the progesterone back in. 

It's only been 2 nights but Scott has done a fantastic job. I didn't cry last night, so maybe I'll slowly adjust over time. I can't say it'll ever be easy but if I can get through it without panicking that's a start! :) 

Oh yea, we also circle the spots to use as targets. We swap sides each night to give my body a break, and it's a good visual of where to aim next time. 

Let me say, I NEVER ever ever thought I could survive something like this. But here I am. I self-injected fertility drugs into my belly for 10 consecutive nights, 23 times I think? (The 30 was including blood draws and the other trigger shot that Scott did). I survived egg retrieval and the post cramps and bloat (which make me feel icky and fat and look pregnant already. I already need new clothes!). You surprise yourself when being strong is your only choice. Let it defeat you and give up, or be strong and keep going. 

Ok, so I leave you today with some infertility/IVF humor. :) 

(Said no one, EVER.) ;) 

This one may be one of my favs. For real, fertility drugs for one cycle are THOUSANDS of dollars. 

Praying a good number of our little ones survive to Sunday!! That way if we ever need additional attempts & for future siblings, we will have some chances 

As always, THANK YOU ALL for the tremendous support getting up to this point, and this past week especially. It means so much to know we aren't in this alone. Look for updates later this weekend on our embryo transfer!

Stace & Scott

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