Gestational Diabetes Testing

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Hi everyone!  I didn’t realize it’s been over a month since my last post.  I’ve been thinking about writing for a couple weeks and am only now sitting down to write.  I’m pretty sure you’re not dying to read my posts and if you are, I apologize for the delay!  Lol.

Well, between 24-28 weeks, the doctor ordered a blood test for me, specifically to test for gestational diabetes.  I wasn’t worried about how the test would go because a few of my co-workers explained the process to me.  I was a little worried about the results because I have diabetes in my family history.

At 25 weeks, which was mid-April, I went in for the test.  I knew I had to be there for an hour, which is not the most exciting thing to do, but it had to be done.  Prior to my blood test, I was instructed not to take my thyroid medicine and that I had to be fasting at least 8 hours.  So, I did.  The phlebotomist gave me 5 oz of a sugary drink of my choice – lemon, lime, or orange.  With no particular preference, I went with orange.  She told me I had 5 minutes to finish it but instead I drank it as fast as I could.  I felt so disgusted afterward.  It was as though I drank pure syrup.  It was so concentrated, it reminded me of the Malolo or Hawaiian Sun syrups.  Yuck!  Upon finishing the drink, I was informed that I was allowed to take sips of water while I waited an hour.  I was also instructed to remind the phlebotomist 5 minutes before my hour so she could be ready to draw my blood at the exact hour mark.

While waiting, I took sips of water here and there.  My poor baby was active.  I felt so gross from the drink and so sad for my baby.  I also went for a walk to distract myself from feeling so gross.  The walk and sips of water helped ease my discomfort and calmed my active baby.  When it was time, I notified the phlebotomist, she drew my blood, and I left.  Luckily, I had taken the day off so I didn’t have to rush anywhere.

The next morning, early into my work day, the nurse called me about my test results.  She told me the results came back high so my doctor wanted me to do the 3 hour test.  I hesitantly agreed.  At the time, she didn’t tell me what the actual value was and I didn’t ask because I was too overcome with worry that I might have gestational diabetes.  I told her I would do the 3 hour test the next day.  I adjusted things at work so I could take half day.  I later found out that my blood glucose was 165, which was high.  The range was 70-140 mg/dL.

I looked up information on gestational diabetes to get more educated about it.  Then my husband and I went on a walk to talk about gestational diabetes, how it would affect our baby, what it would require of me, and all the risks involved.  I was so overwhelmed with information it was if I assumed I had it.  I was definitely worried, in fact, it was my first pregnancy scare.  I decided that night that I would take my thyroid medication in the morning before the test.  I also made sure to fast for at least 8 hours.

So, the next morning I went early to start the 3 hour test, 7am to be exact.  This test was a little different from the first test I did 2 days prior.  The phlebotomist took my blood before giving me the glucose drink.  I again went with orange flavor and then I was given 10 oz, the entire bottle, to drink.  Yuck!  After I finished drinking I came back 3 more times (every hour for the next 3 hours) and got my blood drawn.  In the meantime, I sipped water and walked.  The phlebotomist alternated arms and in the end, I received 4 pokes.  My poor arms.  I left with both arms wrapped in colored stretchy tape.  I was anxious about the results but hoped it would come back normal.  I knew I wouldn’t hear back until the next day so I tried not to think about it too much.

The next day, I expected to hear back about the results so I waited a few hours before calling the doctor’s office.  I spoke with the nurse, who confirmed that the results came back normal.  I asked her for the specific values and wrote them down.  I knew I would receive the results in a day or 2 via mail but I wanted to know the break down.  Here are the values she gave me: 74, 134, 124, and 116 mg/dL.  The 74 was the baseline value, no glucose drink.  134 mg/dL = after 1 hour, 124 mg/dL = after 2 hours, and 116 mg/dL = after 3 hours.  Phew!  It was such a relief and I was really grateful not to have to worry about that anymore.

I think I now truly understand why pregnant women do not look forward to the gestational diabetes testing.  Although I was impressed by the choices of glucose drinks, I was not a bit excited to drink it, twice.

This experience, although briefly stressful, helped me remember that this pregnancy is a gift.  It helped remind me to take things slowly and enjoy the experience of being pregnant.  Not that I haven’t enjoyed it, but this experience was just a little reminder for me.  It was also a reminder to me to exercise more to prepare my body and mind for labor.

My husband found a short video on You Tube for me – on stretching.  This meant that I would have to wake up 10-15 minutes earlier each day.  Not what I desired to do, but knew that it was important.  My husband offered to stretch with me, which helped, until he got sick.  Then I needed motivation to stretch on my own.  And now, he’s not sick, but I’m still stretching every morning on my own.  I tease him that it was a trick.  Lol.  There have been a few instances when I’ve stretched right after returning home from work, especially if I’ve been sitting a lot and my back is sore.  The video has helped me.  Just as a side note, it’s about 10 minutes, only instrumental, and calm.

Here’s the video!  Check it out if you want.

Next post: Free Breast Pump

My Surgery Date!

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Getting a surgery date was much harder than I expected.  When I called to talk with my OB/GYN, I was informed that he was on vacation for 2 weeks.  I just shook my head in disbelief.  Seriously?  I thought, “What are the odds of that?”  Lol.  The only option I had at that point was to schedule a phone call appointment with my OB/GYN upon his return.  I inquired about having another doctor do the surgery but when I talked to the nurse, that didn’t seem to be an option.  I couldn’t do anything about it…I just had to wait.  For the next couple of days, I was annoyed…just because.  I estimated that the earliest date for my surgery would be at the end of July or maybe early August.  Then I gauged that my ET would probably be pushed back to late August or September.  I wouldn’t be able to confirm that until after my phone call appointment on July 16th @ 4:30pm.

While I waited, I confirmed with my IVF coordinator, via email, that there was only 1 polyp.  She checked with Dr. Frattarelli and confirmed it – only 1 polyp.  I also spent my time researching polyps.  At that point I wasn’t sure how big or small the polyp was but I knew I would be ok.  A uterine polyp is pretty much a growth on the lining of the uterus.  It can look like a bump or hang like a tear drop and can range in size.  I know that sounds quite gross but that’s the only way I can explain it right now.  Lol.

The day of my phone appointment arrived, July 16th.  When 4:30pm rolled around, I expected my phone to ring.  I tried to keep my phone nearby so I would’t miss the call.  I had all day to think about what the doctor might say.  Time seemed to tick away and still no call.  4:35pm, 4:40pm, 4:45pm.  Still no call.  I wondered if my OB/GYN would call or not.  I thought, “I really don’t want to call tomorrow wondering why no one called me.”  4:50pm, 4:55pm, my patience was being tested.  Then a little after 5:00pm, my phone rang…it was my OB/GYN.  Phew!

As I explained the purpose of the appointment, my OB/GYN noted that he had not received any information from Dr. Frattarelli.  He noted that he briefly check his mail but hadn’t seen anything, but he still had more to look through.  I was quite surprised that after 2 weeks, my OB/GYN hadn’t received information about my polyp.  So, I briefly updated my OB/GYN.  He said he would follow up with Dr. Frattarelli.

I waited as he looked for an open date for the operation room.  My OB/GYN quickly scheduled my surgery for July 31st and said he would have his nurse call me the next day.  I agreed, of course!  Wouldn’t you?  I just wanted it to be done with so I took the earliest date I was offered.  The phone appointment took about 20-25 minutes total.  I realized after we hung up that I knew the date, but not the time.  Oops!  But it was ok because I knew the nurse was going to call me the next day.  This is one way I feel that being laid off has been a blessing.  I didn’t need to take the day off or call in sick or anything like that.  Much less stress.

The following day, the nurse called me.  She scheduled a pre-op appointment for July 27th & reviewed some of the things I needed to prepare for.  I asked her about the time of the surgery and she told me 10:00am.  Then she explained that at my pre-op appointment, she would review more information with me and I would most likely have to do blood work.  That was fine with me!

It was such a relief to have my surgery date.  I assumed it would be similar to my egg retrieval.  I didn’t worry about it.

The date for my pre-op appointment came quickly.  I checked in and sat on a chair waiting to be called.  I saw a note on the board that said my OB/GYN was running 45 minutes to an hour late.  Oh dear, I thought.  I geared up for a long wait.  To my surprise, my name was called about 10 minutes later.  I’m grateful I didn’t wait too long.

The nurse took my height, weight, and vitals – blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.  She asked me a few questions related to family history and date of the first day of my last menses.  You know, the same basic questions.  She escorted me to the exam room where she asked me to remove my clothing from the waist down.  The nurse gave me a disposable sheet and then told me the doctor would be in soon.

A few minutes later, my OB/GYN knocked on the door and came in with the nurse.  He briefly checked my uterus and breathing.  It was a really quick appointment, maybe 5 minutes.  Then, as instructed I changed & met with the doctor in his office.

He explained, with a visual aid what a polyp looks like in the uterus.  He continued with talking me through the procedure.  I listened attentively and learned that the doctor would be using a camera to look into my uterus.  Apparently, using a camera is much more accurate than the ultrasound when it comes to locating polyps.  So cool.  We discussed some of the side effects and that I should expect some spotting for a few days.  The doctor also explained that the polyp would be cut off with a scissors.  I’m sure it’s a special kind of scissors.  Pretty interesting to me!

My OB/GYN also told me what time I needed to arrive at the hospital.  Since my surgery was scheduled for 10:00am I needed to be there 2 hours prior – 8am.  I was also instructed (just like my egg retrieval) not to eat anything after midnight the night before my procedure.  The day of the surgery, I was instructed to take my thyroid medicine with a sip of water.  That was it, nothing else.  Since I was having an outpatient surgery and would be receiving light sedation, I needed to arrange to be picked up.  I would not be allowed to drive home nor would I be released without an adult.  Lol.  That sounds funny but they’re quite adement about someone being with you.  We reviewed the pre-op instructions, which I just explained, and then signed.  We also reviewed a consent which stated the purpose of the procedure, anesthesia, and medical treatment.  The doctor & I signed that form.  He asked if I had any questions.  At the time I only had one question.

My question was this….since he was removing the polyp, could he also remove the ovarian cysts?  I figured since I was going to be under anesthesia, why not?  Lol.  Well, the answer was no.  But it was ok.  The doctor explained that ovarian cysts are removed through the belly button, not vaginally.  I thought that was interesting and it made sense.  It seemed so obvious after he explained it.

After leaving his office I walked a short distance to the nurses desk.  She briefly reviewed the pre-op paper and the consent.  She put the originals in an envelop labeled for the O.R. with my name on it.  She instructed me to bring that envelop with me on the day of my surgery and hand it to the receptionist at the O.R.  Then she gave me my copies of the two forms and I was off to the lab.

At the lab, I did a urine test and blood work.  First the urine test, which I always seems weird to me, and then I waited to be called for blood work.  There were a handful of people waiting so I knew I had a few minutes before I would be called.  It wasn’t long before it was my turn.  I went in and requested the wrap instead of the tape.  I make it a point to ask for the wrap because the tape is horrible.  It rips the hairs off my skin and leaves a residue that has to be scraped off.  Not fun.  Plus, I think going to Dr. Frattarelli’s has spoiled me.  They always use the wrap, which is great.  The phlebotomist found my vein easily so I was out of there fast.  My entire pre-op appointment, including lab work, was about an hour.

All done!  Now, all I had to do was wait a few more days until the surgery.  In the meantime, I emailed my IVF coordinator and she sent me an updated calendar.  With all the postponing and changes that arose, this was my 3rd and hopefully last calendar.

I was ready! 🙂

Next post: My Surgery – Polyp Removal

Frozen Embryos

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After all the excitement, stress, and relief of finding out how many eggs were fertilized we were now waiting for the next pivotal step…knowing the # of frozen embryos.

Since the change in plans with the embryo transfer, we were hopeful that there would be a sufficient # of embryos for freezing.  Because the embryos need to meet a certain criteria before freezing, they are given a few days to grow before they are rated, measured, and frozen.

So, as a little reminder, there were 10/12 eggs fertilized.  Five days later I was notified by phone that 6 of the 10 eggs were frozen.  (More on that # in a later post.)  I felt blessed and relieved because I knew 6 was more than sufficient.  You may be wondering if I had to pay $1,500 for freezing, after all, we agreed to freeze any remaining embryos.  Nope!  We didn’t have to pay for the freezing, yet.  If our IVF cycle went smoothly or as planned, we would be paying for the freezing immediately after the embryo transfer.  Since our embryo transfer was postponed, we did not have to pay for the freezing.  Once we do the transfer we will pay $1,500 to have the remaining embryos frozen.

I’m not sure how many embryos will be transfered, nor do I know how many of the embryos will survive thawing.  Only time will tell.

Well, I received a calendar specific to the embryo transfer (ET).  I was surprised to find out that the ET was scheduled for July 25th.  I assumed that I would be doing the ET on the next cycle.  I was disappointed that I had to wait 2 months but after I thought about it and looked at all the medicines I still had, I knew it would take more than one cycle.

I was instructed to call on Day 1 and see the doctor on Day 3.  He wanted to see how the lining of my uterus looked.  So, of course, when I go in for my appointment, the lining looked great.  Lol.  And as usual, I had blood drawn.  The doctor also put me back on the birth control (active pills only) to maintain the lining of my uterus.

Two days later, I was informed (by an IVF coordinator) that my thyroid was low and I needed to take a blood test.  I, in turn, informed my PCP and did a blood test that same day.  The results revealed that my thyroid was in fact low…meaning I needed to increase my dosage.  How frustrating.  I knew it was related to the medications and changes my body experienced because of it.  The main reason for the frustration is that it usually postpones everything.  The thyroid is a priority but it can be frustrating when progress depends on it.  If you have to take thyroid medicine, you’ll know what I mean.  And, if you change dosages you pretty much lose a month.  The thyroid medicine takes 4 weeks to know whether it’s the right dosage or not.  If not, it needs to be adjusted and then another 4 weeks.  I hope that makes sense.

Since my ET was scheduled for July 25th, I had time to take care of my thyroid.  It was good and I was able to get my thyroid within the normal range. 🙂  In the meantime, I was still taking the active birth control pills.  During this time, emotions are quite calm and relaxed because there’s a lot of wait time.

A month before my scheduled ET, I followed my calendar and went in for an appointment.  I was surprised to find out, upon arrival that I was not on the schedule.  It was definitely a miscommunication.  Apparently they were awaiting the results of my thyroid test, which I received but had not given to them.  So, that day, I called my PCP and asked that the results be faxed to the fertility specialist.  My PCP’s nurse called me requesting that I sign a consent.  I was like, seriously?  I drove to the clinic, signed the consent, and it was faxed.  As soon as my IVF coordinator received my tests results, she called me.  She emailed me a new calendar (2nd) and scheduled my next appointment…exactly a week later.  My IVF coordinator informed me that the doctor would be doing a scan and SIS – test.

Blood is drawn each appointment and you squeeze the stress ball.  At one of my appointments, the lady who drew my blood asked if I wanted to take a stress ball home.  I reluctantly agreed.  It’s quite funny, I think.  Here is a picture of the stress balls.  I hope you get a great laugh, like I did! 🙂

Next post:  My SIS

Step 4 – Referral, finally

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After the 4 cycle of clomid was not successful, I awaited feedback from the OB/GYN.  What was I waiting for?  An appointment with the Fertility Specialist.

Step 4 in my journey afforded me the opportunity to receive consultation from a Fertility Specialist, contracted through my medical insurance.  I didn’t however, plan for it to take 3 months to see the Fertility Specialist.  When my OB/GYN confirmed and planned for me to see the Fertility Specialist, I thought I’d have an appointment in a month or so.  That was not the case.  Apparently the Fertility Specialist was very busy.  I received an appointment reminder in the mail saying that I was scheduled to meet with the Fertility Specialist in March.  So, it had been 3 months since the last clomid cycle.  The process took much longer than I expected.  For someone, me, looking for answers and reasons for the infertility, 3 months is a long time to wait.  I called and attempted to get an earlier appointment, without success.  The appointment date I was given was the earliest one available.  I couldn’t do anything about it, except wait.

Since I had a lot of time before my appointment with the Fertility Specialist, I decided to write out questions in preparation.  I honestly thought the only option I had at that point, was IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).  It was not my preferred choice but I was willing to do it if that was the recommendation.

The day of my appointment arrived, with a bunch of nerves and butterflies in my stomach!  My husband accompanied me to the appointment.  The Fertility Specialist met with us at my medical provider’s clinic.  I heard that the Fertility Specialist came on certain days to the office to meet with couples.  Our meeting with the Fertility Specialist was actually just consultation, which included recommendations.  I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that there were other options besides IVF, like I first thought.  Based on the information the Fertility Specialist was provided at that time, he recommended that we start with injectable gonadotrophins, otherwise known as hormonal shots.  If the shots were not successful after a certain amount of time, we would move toward IVF.  You can’t imagine how relieved I was…extremely!  I thought it was a great plan and we were looking forward to working with the Fertility Specialist.

Before I could receive services from the Fertility Specialist, my OB/GYN had to submit all the necessary information to the referral department, which would then determine if I was eligible or not.  But, before the OB/GYN could submit anything, I needed to see the phlebotomist again and have a pap smear.  It’s definitely something I was not ecstatic about doing, but it was a must…in order to move forward.

I went in to complete the blood work.  The list seemed endless.  It was at least a few tubes…I think 2-3, I can’t remember the exact amount.  Here is a list of some of the blood tests that were performed.  I say some, because I don’t remember ALL the tests.  The list below are the ones that I kept, in no particular order.  Here we go:

  • Varicella
  • Rubella
  • Mumps
  • Prolactin
  • LH (Luteinizing Hormone)
  • FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
  • Estradiol
  • CBC (Complete Blood Count)
  • Blood Type
  • Gonorrhea
  • TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
I also remember taking an HIV test and chlamydia test.  It’s not as bad as it may appear.  I just had to go to the lab once.  I was actually happy about the blood type test because I previously did not know that information.  In addition to the tests that I took, my husband did another semen analysis and some blood tests.

I’m not sure if the TSH test is given to all that are seeking a referral.  But I know that I took this blood test because that’s where it all started for me.  In my first post I mentioned that after being married for a year, my husband and I decided to try to have a baby.  Infertility was not the first issue that we encountered in our journey, it was my thyroid. (Next post…for sure!)

Ok, back to the referral.  We signed separate consents and all the information was submitted.  I was in contact with a nurse that assisted with IVF referrals.  She called and kept me abreast on the status of my referral.  I also called her when I had questions.  So from there, I waited again…this time for a letter in the mail to tell me if I was approved for services provided by the Fertility Specialist.  I anticipated the arrival of my letter…wondering if it was possible to be denied.  I couldn’t imagine how that would happen, but it did cross my mind.  I continued to wait…

Just to recap, Step 4 came in 2 parts.  A referral for consultation and then a referral for services.  First, I got an appointment for consultation with the Fertility Specialist.  Based on the Fertility Specialist’s recommendations, my OB/GYN submitted paperwork as well as blood work to my medical insurance’s referral department.  The referral department was responsible for reviewing all the information, making the decision whether to approve or deny the case, and then notify the appropriate parties of the decision (My OB/GYN, Fertility Specialist, & me).  From the time the 4th clomid cycle was complete and my consultation with the Fertility Specialist, was 3 months.  Then, from the consultation to receiving my letter was 2 months…by then, it was May!  It felt like FOREVER!!

FYI: I’m working on a timeline!! 🙂

Next post: My Thyroid – The Beginning

The 2nd HSG

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Sticking to the written instructions I was given, I did the following:

  • Between day 9 – 18, I had to use the OPK (Ovulation Predictor Kits) and have intercourse every other day.  Sounds fun?  Well, it’s quite structured and may seem kind of crazy but those were the instructions.
  • Between day 18 – 22, I went to the lab and did blood work to check my progesterone levels.

I had to postpone my next OB/GYN appointment because my HSG test didn’t go as planned and needed to be rescheduled.  So, I waited and when my next menses arrived, I scheduled my 2nd HSG.

Like I said (in my previous post), I needed a plan for my 2nd HSG.  I thought about the first experience and did not want a repeat of that.  So the 2nd time around my husband & I decided we would fast.

Fasting is going without food and drink for 2 consecutive meals.  In other words, you skip breakfast and lunch and just eat dinner.  Fasting should be done with a purpose in mind and with faith in God.  We asked certain family members to join in our fast, namely our parents. Fasting also includes and involves prayer, which is an essential part of my life.    The purpose of our fast was the HSG test.  We prayed and hoped the Lord would help the doctors perform the test successfully and with minimal pain for me.  There were other prayers offered as well.

The day arrived for my 2nd HSG test.  I was calm and knew everything would be ok.  My mom came with me to my appointment and relaxed in the waiting room.  I returned to the same room and went through the same preparatory procedures.  When all the tools were ready, the OB/GYN was called.  He, yes he, introduced himself, explained what he was going to do and some of the things I could expect.  (He sterilized the area.)  As he put the speculum in he kept me informed by talking me through every step of the process.  He asked how I felt and on his first attempt, got the catheter into cervix.  Once there, he inflated a very small ballon like object which was connected to the catheter.  Inflating the balloon was like plugging the drain when you want a bubble bath!  You don’t want anything to escape.  The tip of the catheter  is where the dye was released.  It looked like a really small cotton swab on the TV to my right. At this point the speculum was removed.  When ready, a clear (I think it was glass) bottle that contained the dye was connected to the catheter.  The dye traveled through the catheter, into the cervix and to the fallopian tubes.  About three bottles of the dye were put it and at least 2-3 x-rays were taken.  I experienced very minimal cramping with the dye.  After all the necessary images were taken and the equipment was returned to it proper places,  the radiologist chatted with me.  He told me what the process would be for finding out the results.  Basically, the radiologist would review the x-rays, write up a brief report, and send the report to my OB/GYN.  This would take a couple of days and then the OB/GYN would call me with the results.

That was pretty much the end of the appointment, so I thought.  The radiologist reviewed the x-rays and told me the results while I was still lying on the metal table.  It was just what I wanted to hear…the test was good and my tubes were open.  Hooray!  I felt relieved, grateful, and blessed.  Everything went smoothly, with hardly any pain, and I got the results.  My/Our prayers were answered.

In this post I included a brief introduction about fasting.  I know some of you may not believe in God.  I, however, will not deny the power and presence of God, especially in my life.  Spiritual strength and guidance is a necessary ingredient in my journey.  Just because it is not mentioned in every post, it is always there.

Next post:  ALL the results