Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons... Make Orange Juice!

"When life gives you lemons... make orange juice and leave the world wondering how you did it! Today I will think outside of the box and challenge myself to push my boundaries."

As we all know, I live by quotes. They're like my lifeline, my Bible on life. I can usually find a quote to fit any given situation in life, the good, the bad, the ugly. Quotes get me by and put life in perspective. I follow a few quote/positivity accounts on Instagram, but one of my favs is Life Vest Inside, which actually is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower others to engage in acts of love and kindness. They post some pretty kick@$$ positivity quotes along the way, and the one above (along with the photo) was one that stuck with me. 

Life gives you lemons & unfortunate circumstances. It happens. I've learned to deal with life's lemons to the best of my ability (even though I undoubtedly struggle along the way) and make some lemonade like the saying goes. But to turn lemons into orange juice and do the impossible really spoke to me. I loved it. Think outside the box. It's kind of describes the journey Scott & I are on. If one of us can't conceive, we find another way. We persevere and we don't give up. Good things are going to happen. I don't know when or how, but we will get there some day. 

This is the cover of a planner I just got off Amazon (thanks to unused gift cards!!). It's called "The Happy Planner" and that's basically the best description for it. It is filled with color, quotes, positivity, and fun. A few fellow TTCers (couples Trying To Conceive) on Instagram have used this planner (it comes in different styles) to not only organize life but to jot down all their TTC notes, IUI and IVF schedules, Dr. appointments, etc. I thought it would be a fun distraction and make this whole process more exciting so I ordered one and even though it was listed as being on back-order for 2-3 weeks, it arrived within a week and ironically just in time for our IVF cycle to begin. 

"Go time!..." Friday July 24 was Cycle Day 1, which meant I was off to the Dr. the following morning for my baseline monitoring. They did a quick blood draw & ultrasound to make sure everything looked good (hormone levels, no cysts on my ovaries, etc). The Dr. found 11 potential egg follicles on one ovary and 8 on the other, 19 possible candidates in all, which is a great number. Since everything checked out wonderfully, they started me on birth control (oh, the irony!) the following day...

Hello, old friend, we meet again!! You did nothing for me last time (little did we know that we didn't need it in the past- HA), but this time you better work wonders. Being put on the pill is meant to suppress your reproductive system so that nothing happens before it's supposed to. They don't want any egg follicles to become show-offs and steal the spotlight from the rest, messing up the whole system. I'm on it for a total of 16 days and then they'll do a blood test to check that my hormone levels aren't showing anything wacky. It should all be quiet and boring on the southern front. Lucky for me, the pill has no side effects on me, so this is literally the easy part. *I started taking it on Sunday July 26 and will continue to take it until Monday August 10. 

Last week, after starting the pill for a few days, I went to the Dr. office to have my nursing protocol appointment. At this visit, I sat 1-1 with one of the nurses to go over paperwork, make sure my file had everything it needed in order for us to be going forward in all directions, order my medications, and get my meds instructions/schedule. Here's the current plan as of now:

- Take last dose of the pill on Mon, Aug 10

- Go for a blood test on Fri, Aug 14... Assuming all is ok on that day, proceed to next step.

- Start injections on Fri, Aug 14 (Follistim & Menopur- 2 shots nightly, between 5 and 8pm)

- Repeat same injections/doses Sat & Sun, Aug 15 & 16

- Return to the office Mon, Aug 17 for monitoring (blood draw & ultrasound)

- Await further instructions based on morning results

Essentially, everyone's case, protocol, and experience with IVF is slightly different. The Dr's choose what drugs to give you and an initial starting dose for the first 3 days (which also can vary from person to person based on so many different factors, it's not one-size-fits-all in terms of meds and doses), but from there it's all extremely individualized. Everyone reacts and responds differently to the medications, hence the frequent blood draws and ultrasounds. When I go on Aug 17, it will determine when I come next, because they'll check how many egg follicles they see, and what size they are. They'll also check my hormone levels and see what's happening in my body. That will determine if I continue the same meds/doses or modify by increasing or decreasing some doses. They will decide if I return the following day, or in 2 days, and repeat the whole process. It's such a scientific process BUT has so many variables so it can all change literally on a day to day basis. 

My nurse said to mentally prepare to come to the office every morning the week of the 17th, but it's likely that it'll be every other day. Here's the fun part because not only is the office an hour away (without traffic) but this is a very busy, city-like commuter area. It's on the way to NYC so practically everyone in this area drives on the same highways and roads I go to the Dr. Lucky me. AND, monitoring is a first-come-first-serve basis. Blood draws start at 7am and ultrasounds start at 7:30 am. The nurses said it's very common for some patients to start arriving at 6:15... That means if I want to be first, I need to leave my house at 5:15, getting up around 4:30. (remember I am NOT a morning person- hehehe). But it's all for a good cause. 

It's summer break, you might be thinking.... I don't need to be the first one there, I can relax and take my time as long as I arrive by 9ish in the morning... Nope. I signed up to work summer school and that is happening August 10-21. Luckily the first week is pretty uninterrupted (a blood draw 8/14 but that's all so it'll be somewhat fast & I should be on time to school- kids come at 8:15, and the Dr. is 45 mins-1hour from work). It WILL, no doubt, interfere with the second week of summer school. Even if I was, hypothetically, first every morning, I wouldn't leave until 7:45-8:00 realistically. That means getting to school by 9, IF I'm FIRST... I cannot assume I will be first, so that kind of stinks. I feel bad because my students will likely get grouped in with my partner in crime for summer school, Kim (also one of my really good friends... lucky me!). She's aware and on board, but I still feel bad. Our boss also knows and assures me it's all fine. But Worry-Wart should be my middle name bc I will be anxious every second until I get to school. It'll be nice if it's not every day that week, but I literally can't do anything to change it, so I have to accept it and go with it. 

Scott tried to put it in perspective for me... I've been working at my school for 10 years now. All 10 years I've aimed to be 30 mins early, on average. All 10 years it's been typical for me to stay 30 mins or longer (usually longer, lol) after dismissal (that's the reality of being a teacher, folks... not as easy as some of you may think it is... I typically am there a full hour or so after the kids leave). Anyway, all those years of being there early... who cares if I have to be late a few times now? Everyone knows the truth in it, it's not like I'm oversleeping or stopping for coffee on the daily, so I need to learn to be ok with it. I get there when I get there, the kids have coverage, all is fine. 

The date of my egg retrieval will be based on my response to the drugs. Some people need about 10 days of drugs stimulation to get the egg follicles where they want them to be. The nurse estimated egg retrieval being somewhere between August 24-29, but that's assuming I need almost 10 days... We have no idea, it could be less. It's literally all going to be changing by the day on the week of the 17th-21st. When the Drs determine egg follicles are at a good size, they'll tell me to stop drugs and "trigger" that day or the next. I did trigger shots with IUI too, it's an injection that's made to induce ovulation 34-36 hours after you take it, and that's when they schedule egg retrieval. They actually work backwards and will schedule the retrieval and then tell me to trigger about 34 hours prior. 

On Saturday, we picked up our meds. Laying it all out on the table was, in one word, OVERWHELMING... 

All of that for ONE cycle... ONE!!! Everything pictured above, except the 2 pill bottles, is either a needle, the stuff that gets injected by the needle, or the container to dispose of said needles. AHHHHHH!!!! All that was going through my mind, on repeat, was pretty much "WWW- TTT- FFF??!!??"

Here's a breakdown of what I got:
- Sharps container (to house all the used needles for safe disposal)
- 3 boxes of Menopur
- 1 Follistim pen kit & 2 boxes of many vials
- 6 boxes of Ganirelix
- 1 box of Pregnyl
- 1 box of some other injectible
- 2 pill containers
- 2 boxes of Progesterone
- LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of needles, all different sizes and thicknesses (ouch!)

*Note: Some of the injections are FSH (follicle stimulating hormones) and will produce multiple egg follicles. One of the injections is to prevent my body from ovulating any egg follicles on its own, before it's time. One of them is the trigger, to make them ovulate when the Drs want ("Ovulate, don't ovulate, ovulate, Oh my!"- my friend Amy's reaction to the up/down/confusion of all the drugs). Some of them are antibiotics to take after retrieval. One of them is to help hormone levels after embryo transfer. MOST of them go into my stomach (what I've been doing for IUI), some of them go into my hip/butt muscle. Ick! ALL of them are going to make me either cranky, REALLLY witchy (words of counselor at clinic, but with a word that rhymes), cranky, tired, cranky, possible monster headaches, etc. None of them are going to be a real walk in the park. Get ready, Scott... major test to our relationship coming up! (I love you!! :) hehe)

My thoughts/feelings... overwhelmed, scared, anxious, terrified, but obv also a bit lot excited.

Once I took inventory (maybe I'll open a CVS pick-up window out of our house with all of this instead!), I stashed it all into a pretty basket and have it stored in a cabinet until Aug 14th (yup, that's NEXT Friday, folks!). I jokingly held the basket like a baby and snapped a scared selfie to capture the moment... 

First comes the baseline, then comes the nursing protocol, and finally the IVF class. My Dr. office requires that patients attend 2 classes in the office, an IVF class and a Medications class. Apparently we were supposed to know about them back at our consult appt in June but it was never checked off on our instruction sheet, so we had no idea until the day before my period began. The IVF class is only held every other Tuesday @5 (I had just missed that week's, so had to go last night) and the Medications class is every Saturday @ 2:30. We were set for this past Saturday but they had to reschedule and cancel it that morning, so we are going this Saturday (last shot because shots start next week!). 

Lucky for me, Scott now has weekends off (after never having weekends off for the past 13 years prior), so the Saturday class is pretty much no problem (they first wanted us to come on the ONE Sat a month that he had to work- I preferred to not go alone so we waited). There's no way he could have made the IVF class, and I could have gone alone, but thought it would be nice to have another set of ears to take it all in. My friend, Amy, volunteered to go with me literally the second she knew I had to go (how awesome is that... I mean really, we have been so lucky through this. My friends have rocked it all across the board... and Kudos to any of you reading this right now, brownie points for you!). I joked and said she needed to be prepared that people may assume we are a couple, but she's so easy-going she didn't see any reason to not want to go to the class. 

We went last night and I'm glad she was there. It was nice to not only have moral support, but comic relief. She didn't need to take physical notes but I figured mental notes for Scott on anything mind-blowing would be helpful. Pretty much, I assumed I knew the basic process of IVF and knew I would likely know most of what they were saying, and this proved to be true (go me!). Amy, on the other hand, was cracking me up because she was unaware of certain terms or steps to the process and was taking informative, yet hysterical notes. It reinforced the fact that I've learned a lot over the past few years. Here are Amy's notes:

At one point, the nurse was speaking of a list of things that needed to be done prior to starting an IVF cycle. I think of everyone in the room, I might have been one of the only ones who are about to start, as most of it seemed informative for others. One poor couple was pretty clueless on the process I think, but that's why they're there. Anyway, Amy started writing things and I would give her a nod or a thumbs up like "Don't worry, that's done; all set; yup; did it; been there, done that; etc" and she eventually gave up trying to keep up with the nurse and just kept putting checks all over the damn place! haha. Check. Check. Check. Yes, we are prepared. Check. Ready or not, here we go. Check. :) 
One of my FAVS is the SubQ vs IM (I remember when I myself was CLUELESS to these terms, when the school nurse had to do my first trigger shot AT school and in a panic I had NO idea what they meant or where the shot went, etc). It was funny and familiar to see the same confused look on Amy's face as she wrote it down and related it to AOL IM. hehe. :) I'm also a big Googler... so the GUILTY is for me being guilty of Googling wayyyyy too much when it comes to the medical field. haha. 
So now, I wait. I take the pill for a few more days. Go to the medications class on Saturday, and await the results from my blood test next Friday (8/14) to see if I'm cleared to start injections. Here's to hoping, wishing, dreaming, and believing!! 

With love,



  1. Good hearing an update! That is a LONG list of Meds! Excited for you friend!

  2. Fingers and toes crossed!!! Prayers being sent. Love you both.