Screening Tests!

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I realized after I completed my last post, I didn’t tell you my due date!  Well, here it is: July 30.  The ultrasound revealed that I was pregnant with 1 baby.

Alright, moving on to screening tests.  Oh ya, I forgot to mention that on January 1st, my insurance changed making it necessary for me to find an OB/GYN.  I searched and got information from family and friends.  I wanted someone nearby but that option was not available.  I didn’t prefer having to drive to town but it was better than the doctor that was only available every Tuesdays.  Plus, starting a job, I didn’t have time to take off nor did I want to take unpaid leave.  I was looking for a doctor that was available on the weekends as well.  So, we decided to see on of my sister-in-laws OB in town.

At my first appointment, the nurse asked me a lot of questions and I filled out some questionnaire as well.  When I met with the doctor, we went over all the information and he asked if I wanted to participate in a screening.  I told him that it didn’t matter because either way, we would be keeping the baby.  The choice was up to me.  So, I agreed to complete the screening.  I thought it was only one but as we talked about it more, I understood that it was 2 screenings.  He gave me the time frames for when they’re completed and then said he would send a requisition to Queens Medical Center (QMC) because they do the screenings.  I agreed and that was it.  I left and had lunch with my husband.  While we were eating I got a call from QMC to schedule my 1st screening.  I was really surprised at the  prompt response, very impressive.  I scheduled my first screening.

First Screening

I really wish I could remember the names of the screenings but I can’t.  All I know is the first screening was an ultrasound and blood work for down syndrome.  I completed it at 11 weeks, almost 12 weeks.  I thought everything went well.  It was pretty cool that I had my own bathroom, adjustable lighting, and a curtain for privacy.  Also, the jelly they use for the ultrasound was in a warmer.  Lol.  It was thoughtful, rather than it be cold.  I liked the fact that the technician gave me a USB to put all the ultrasound pictures on.  She reminded me to bring the USB to the second screening as well.  Having the USB is really cool and quite up-to-speed with the technology available now.  I’m grateful to have that, in addition to the 8 pictures the technician put on it.  Also, the technician printed out all the pictures she placed on the USB and gave them to me before I left.  I remember her telling me that now I will have the pictures forever and I can put them on facebook or wherever.  I told her her I was happy to have them but probably won’t be placing it on facebook.  Lol.

A week or 2 after my first screening, my OB/GYN called and shared the results of the first screening.  He explained that I was low risk.  Phew, that was a relief.  After all we experienced trying to become pregnant, I figured I wouldn’t get too much relief when I actually got pregnant.  So, hearing the doctor tell me the results showed I was low risk, was awesome.  I was so relieved and at the same time, still not convinced that my pregnancy would be smooth sailing.  Nevertheless, I was grateful.

Second Screening

At my second screening, my husband came with me.  It was around week 18-19.  I knew this screening would be looking at the physical development of our baby.  For instance, a cleft lip.  Also, the screening looked at kidney function, blood flow through the heart, the blood flow from the umbilical cord to the baby, etc.  I gave the technician my USB and she loaded the pictures on it.  It was so interesting to me to watch the things she looked for.  One of the coolest things I saw was my baby’s nose and lips.  I know you may be wondering why I think that’s so cool, but I find it neat.  I knew she was looking for any physical concerns like a cleft lip.  This was the 3rd ultrasound I’ve had during my pregnancy and it was neat to see the growth.  But seeing my baby’s nose and lips was cool because at that point I knew our baby was still very small but the technician could zoom in for a closer look, something that would not have been as successful in previous ultrasounds, for obvious reasons.  Of course, there are a lot of cool things to see during an ultrasound.  I remember while my ultrasound was going on that the lab technician came in and drew my blood.  Either she was really good or I was too focused on the ultrasound to feel anything.  Lol.  I think she was good because she drew my blood from a different arm and found my vein right away.

Towards the end of the ultrasound, the technician asked if we wanted to know the gender of our baby.  I told her we did and then she proceeded to move the probe all over my stomach.  She did mention that she would try her best.  I knew that meant cooperation from the baby would be necessary.  Lol.  As we looked at the screen, it didn’t take long for her to scan our baby’s gender.  The technician said, “Well that’s pretty obvious, no questions there.”  I tried not to bust out laughing, instead I let out a little chuckle.  I immediately turned and looked at my husband.  We smiled and then I looked back at the screen.  We’re having a BOY!!

At the end of our ultrasound, the technician wanted to try the 3D probe.  We agreed.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the 3D probe, it’s a little more rounded with something that looks like a ping pong ball at the tip.  Not sure if that helps.  The 3D probe was quite entertaining for us.  The technician tried so hard to get a good picture but our baby didn’t make it easy for her.  Each time she got a good view, he would move his hand and block his face.  We just laughed.  She printed pictures for us, 11 pictures to be exact.  Soon after, we left.

I was relieved, not because we’re having a boy, but because we were able to find out the gender of our baby. For my husband and I, we didn’t have a preference.  You know, when you wait so long (or what feels like so long) you take what the Lord gives you/trusts you with.  I was also relieved to be able to refer to my baby with a gender.  I read that it’s important to talk to your baby early in pregnancy and all this time, I’ve referred to the baby as it or baby.  Now I could say he!  Lol.  It seems so minor but it was definitely a relief for me. 🙂

Next post: Weight Gain


Our FET

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After 5 days of taking all those medications, the day of the transfer arrived…September 10th.

My FET was scheduled for 10:30am.  I had to be there a 1/2 hour before, so we weren’t in a rush.  My husband & I leisurely woke up and got ready.  I had been instructed to do take the Crinone gel in the morning and to have a full bladder.  When we were ready, my husband gave me a blessing, and then we left.

Unfortunately, we locked ourselves out of the house.  My husband didn’t take his keys.  I left my keys in my church bag the day before and forgot to take it out.  He closed the door before I could reach for my keys.  Oops!  Lol.  I couldn’t believe it but it happened.  There wasn’t much we could do, except worry about it later.  I wasn’t going to be worried about that, we had an appointment.  While my husband drove, I called my mom.  She had keys to our place.  So we arranged a time to meet afterwards.  I estimated that we would be done around 11:30 – 12pm.  The plan was for me to call my mom when we left, that way, we would get there around the same time.

We arrived 1/2 hr before and sat in the waiting area.  A few minutes later we were called by my IVF coordinator.  We followed her to her office where she reviewed instructions for the ET.  I disregarded some of the instructions because they were related to pregnancy and would worry about that later.  I didn’t want to assume, neither did I want to feel overwhelmed by possibility.  The instructions were pretty straight forward and to me, quite obvious:

No swimming – for 1 week
Drink lots of fluids – In addition to water, juice and sports drinks
Use stool softener – as needed for constipation
Eat balanced meals
No strenuous activities

You got it, right?  In addition to all the instructions, I still had to take medications…until my IVF coordinator instructed me to stop.  I was taking the Crinone gel, Estrace, aspirin, & PNV.

The instructions also included 2 dates – Sept. 20th & 22nd.  On these dates I was scheduled for blood work only – to see if I was pregnant or not.

After meeting with my IVF coordinator we again sat in the waiting area.  I was called for my blood work and then we went to meet with Dr. F.  He explained the risk for multiple births and we asked questions.  We signed a couple of documents verifying our embryos.  I wanted to cry.  I had been so worried about the embryos.  When as I signed the documents I realized that my prayers had been answered and I felt relieved.  In a previous appointment, I asked Dr. F what the procedure is for thawing the embryos.  He explained that they are taken out one at a time.  If they are not growing, they are discarded and another embryo is taken out.  Knowing that we have 7, I didn’t know how many would be used to get 2 strong embryos.  I hope that makes sense.  As I signed the document, I understood that only 2 of our 7 embryos were thawed for this procedure.  I felt comforted and grateful.

Dr. F showed us 2 pictures of our 2 embryos.  It was SO cool!  The picture on the left were of the frozen embryos and the picture on the right was of the thawed embryos.  It seemed like they were magnified like a million times larger.  The images were huge, especially when you know they’re the size of an ink dot.  I was so intrigued by the pictures.  I thought it was amazing because it was personal.  They were OUR embryos, not the ones you see in a text book.  As I viewed the side-by-side pictures, they looked only slightly different to me.  Dr. F explained that before transferring them they would look somewhere in between both pictures.

After our meeting was done, we followed my IVF coordinator to the OR area.  It’s the same place I had my egg retrieval.  I was in the exact same room too.  We put our hair caps and booties on.  I removed my clothing from the waist down, wrapped myself with the large sheet that was provided.  I opened the curtain and we followed my IVF coordinator into the OR.  My husband sat on a stool (with wheels) and I laid on the bed.  I lifted my legs up to rest on these pole things and then scooted my bottom all the way to the edge of the table.  The poles are like ob/gyn stirrups for back of the knee.  I verified my name and birthday that were on the screen and then my IVF coordinator informed Dr. F that I was ready.

We waited for a while because there was something that Dr. F. needed to take care of.  I think we waited about 15-20 minutes, that’s my guess.  I wasn’t watching the clock.  When he arrived, he talked us through the procedure while getting started.  He put the speculum in and I think, a catheter.  I’m not exactly sure about the catheter.  He told the lady in the Lab that he was ready.  We looked at the screen and saw the 2 embryos.  Dr. F was right, the embryos looked somewhere in between the 2 pictures we saw, except this was LIVE.  We saw them super close and then the view zoomed back until they were tiny.  The catheter came in and sucked up the embryos.  The lady in the Lab brought the catheter to the adjacent door and gave it to Dr. F.  The door has a a little window that can be opened or closed.  It’s quite convenient actually.  Dr. F. took it and sat back down.  It took him a few minutes to insert the catheter.

Once the catheter was in, Dr. F had us turn our eyes to the ultrasound.  He told us that we would see a white line in the uterus and then the embryos would be released.  The embryos were released deep into the uterus, much like where they would be if it were a natural conception.  We saw the white line and that was it.  The embryos were SO tiny, I knew we wouldn’t see them.  That was it!  The catheter and speculum were removed.  Dr. F shook our hands and told us that there was nothing more we could do – let nature take its course.

I switched beds and got rolled to my room.  I laid there for 30 minutes.  Before we left, I emptied my bladder and put my clothes on.  My mom met us at home and we were able to get in.  Lol.  She made chili for us so we ate and then rested for the rest of the day.  It was so nice.

Now it was time to wait…

Next post:  The Next 10 Days

(Not sure if I’m going to post the picture of the embryos.  I have 1 of the 2 pictures we saw.  Thinking about it.)


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


Egg Retrieval Day

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Ever feel like there’s not enough time in a day?  Well, that’s how I’ve felt the past couple of weeks…hence, the delay in my post!  I apologize for taking SO long to write another post and not keeping you updated on what’s going on!  Yikes!  Thank you for your patience!

The day before the egg retrieval, I went in just for blood work.  So, by that day my arms were pretty poked up…well, at least I thought so.  That night I made sure I knew what to expect the next day.

Instructions for Egg Retrieval:

I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight.  On the day of the retrieval I was to dress comfortably, leave all personal belongings, including jewelry at home, and not wear perfume.  My nose is pretty sensitive so, no perfume – not a problem.

Also, both my husband and I were instructed to take Doxycycline, an antibiotic the night before (the egg retrieval).  As a precaution I was notified about possible side effects such as bloating, bleeding, tenderness, and weight gain – the week after the retrieval.  I could take Tylenol and Metamucil as needed.  Tylenol for the pain and Metamucil for constipation caused by a combination of the IVF and pain medicines.  I was also encouraged to keep hydrated and drink juices such as Gatorade, etc.  I reviewed a paper with instructions and information about Ovarian Hyperstimulation.  This syndrome may happen as a result of the injections, 5-9 days after the egg retrieval.

I was instructed to arrive an hour before my scheduled time.  My egg retrieval was scheduled for 9:00am.  This meant that I would have to arrive at 8:00am and…traffic.  We arrived a few minutes late but it was ok.

I drove there and my husband drove home.  I had to arrange for someone to drop me off and pick me up, as part of the preparation for the egg retrieval day.  My husband took the day off to be with me.  Plus, the egg retrieval day is also the day his specimen was needed.  So, he kind of needed to be there anyways.  Lol.

If I were doing the embryo transfer 2-6 days later, I would have been taking addition medicines to prepare my body for that, such as Estrace, Medrol, and the Crinone gel.  But, since my embryo transfer was postponed, I only needed to take the Doxycycline.  Make sense?  Ok.

Egg Retrieval Day

I slept ok the night before the egg retrieval but I was still tired.  I felt bloated and had to wear loose fitted clothing.  If not, my ovaries hurt.  I knew it was because all of the injections and at that point the goal was to grow and mature the eggs.  It was now time to retrieve the eggs.

After traveling through traffic we arrived for my egg retrieval.  While we waited I was called to do blood work.  My poor arms – 4 days in a row.  Then I read through some things to expect and shortly thereafter, it was my turn!  We walked all the way to the back where there were 3 rooms with long curtains (no doors).  I was given instructions to change into the hospital robe…you, the one that ties in the back and you have to hold it otherwise it’s open.  I changed and laid on the bed.  My husband was called for his specimen.  In IVF, the day of egg retrieval is the sperm are needed, for obvious reasons…fertilization.

When my husband returned, he sat on the chair and we waited for the anesthesiologist.  I think it was just a few minutes.  When the anesthesiologist came in, she introduced herself as Dr. Wong.  She asked me a lot of questions, like my height, weight, medications and history, and then explained everything she was going to do.  Since my right arm was used for the blood work, she used my left hand.  She tied a rubber strip near my wrist to look for my vein.  She slapped my hand a lot, maybe she was trying to stimulate my blood or veins or something.  Lol.  I think that’s what caused the huge bruise I had later, but maybe it could have been the needle.  Anyways.

She cleaned my hand with an alcohol prep.  She first injected something to numb my hand before she inserted the IV needle.  She was good!!  I only felt a little pinch when she inserted the needle to numb my hand.  When she put the IV needle in I didn’t feel a thing…probably because my hand was numb.  Lol.  I didn’t have a best view of what she was doing because I was lying down.  She taped the needle in place and then hung the IV bag on a hook.  She explained that I would be sedated but I would still be able to hear everything around me.  She told me that right before the procedure she would given me the anesthesia.  Right after she left my husband told me, “Whoa, that was a big needle.”  I laughed because I know he’s not real fond of needles and blood work.  He had a good view of everything the anesthesiologist did.

A few minutes later, my IVF coordinator asked if I needed to use the bathroom before we go into the room.  She escorted me to the bathroom, carrying my IV bag.  She hooked it on to the door and then closed the door.  I went to the restroom, careful of the IV and the long tube attached to my hand.  I went back to my room and we waited until I was called to go in.  I knew the procedure would not be long because I heard the lady in the next room go and come back.

(Deep breath)  It was now my turn.  I left my husband waiting in the room and walked with my IVF coordinator to a different room.  I was instructed to lay on the bed.  I lifted each of my legs over these stationary poles, so my knees were bent.  I don’t know what they’re called but they were pretty comfortable.  The anesthesiologist was already there along with a MA (I think that’s her title).  I never meet her before.  They helped me get situated and comfortable.  My IVF coordinator asked me to verify my name and date of birth which was on a screen to my left.  Then she let the doctor know I was ready…he was in another room.  The doctor came in while the MA was taking my blood pressure.  Since I didn’t sleep that great the night before, I figured I would relax.  I took a few deep breaths and then I felt the surge in my hand from the anesthesiologist.  I fell asleep.

When I got up, I was laying on the bed in the room.  My husband was looking at me asking me how I felt and if I wanted water.  I told him I was ok and that I didn’t want water.  I rested on the bed for a little while and then one of the IVF coordinators came in and removed the IV.  She bandaged me up and then I changed.  I put a pad on just in case there was additional bleeding.  I felt tired but good.  It was time for us to head home.  We were there a little over 2 hours.

One the way home I pretty much rested with periodic checkins from my husband.  I think the anesthesia wore off because my abdomen started to hurt when we got home.  It was sore but I didn’t want to take anything for it so I just rested in bed…that lasted almost 2 hours.  When I got up, I felt SO much better.

My sweet husband prepared lunch for me.  I was starving, of course, because I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner the night before.  While we had lunch my husband expressed his desire to record me when I came back from the egg retrieval.  I was confused at first, I didn’t know what he was talking about.  I just remember falling asleep and then waking up on the bed.  I asked him how I got on the bed.  He said my IVF coordinator told him they helped me up and I walked to the room (with guidance).  Then he said I was so funny because I was so expressive and I asked everyone if they were the embryologist.  We had a good laugh!  I told him, “Oh my goodness, that’s so shame.”  I had no recollection of that, I still don’t.  But it is funny.  Lol.  My husband confirmed that the procedure was fast, 15-20 minutes.

I inquired about the eggs.  I didn’t remember being informed about the number of eggs that were retrieved.  My husband told me that my IVF coordinator came and told us.  I didn’t remember that either.  Lol.  There were 12 eggs retrieved.

I wondered…how many of them would be fertilized?

Here is the evidence of my anesthesia…I’m all bandaged up!  I rested & went back to work the next day.

 

Next post: Embryos & Answers


Are You Serious?

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Where was I?  Oh yes, my next appointment.  I think I may have mentioned this but each time I went in for an appointment, I had blood work.  So, not only was I injecting myself, I was being poked in the arm every few days.

Anyways, getting back to my appointment.  I was still bleeding and I made sure to ask the doctor about the pain I felt over the past few days.  He attributed much of the pain to coming off birth control (having been on it for almost 2 months).  I just went with it, even though I felt like something was wrong.  What were they going to do?

The ultrasound revealed at least 10 follicles growing.  I can’t remember the exact number.  I was quite amazed to see all of that.  The doctor would call out numbers that confused me…I didn’t know what some of the numbers meant.  For example, if the doctor said “one twelve, two tens.”  What he was doing was counting the follicles and measuring them at the same time.  So, one twelve meant that there was one follicle that measured 12mm.  The same for two tens, that meant that there were 2 follicles, 10mm in size.  Make sense?

After the ultrasound, the doctor talked to us about the lining of the uterus.  It wasn’t doing what they want it to do…grow!  At my first appointment the lining of my uterus was thick, that was before I got my period.  At my second appointment the doctor expected me to get my menses.  At this third appointment I was still bleeding and the lining of my uterus was not cooperating.  So, the doctor discussed the option to freeze the embryos after the egg retrieval and transfer them at a later date.  It wasn’t part of the plan, but it made sense.  If the doctor transferred the embryos the probability for pregnancy would pretty much be zero.  The lining of my uterus was not thick enough to support an embryo transfer…they wouldn’t have anything to attach to.  It would be a wasted IVF cycle.  The decision wasn’t finalized, we just had a discussion about it.  We would have to see how the next 1-2 appointments go before deciding.

At the end of this, my third appointment I was given further instructions by my doctor and IVF coordinator.  I was going to start a second injection…Ganirelix.  If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you would have seen a picture of this injection.  It is in a clear glass syringe and pre-filled.  The purpose of this injection is to prevent ovulation.  Oh boy!  Now I had to keep track of both injections!  It’s not that hard, but 2 injections in one night?  Oh dear.  One is already enough.  Having to take 2 would be much more interesting.  Since my follicles were growing it was important that my body not ovulate on it’s own and release and unknown amount of eggs…hence the Ganirelix.

My next appointment (4th) was scheduled 2 days later.

Before I get to that appointment, I want to talk about the Ganirelix injection.  The Ganirelix shot was so sore!  I haven’t figured out why yet.  The box says that it’s the same sized needles as the other injections.  It hurt and caused bruising…not fun.  Since I had the other injection, I did that one first and then the Ganirelix.  I alternated sides, not injecting anything into the same side or near the same injection site.  So, I had to do the same thing…pinch the skin about 1-2 inches to left or right of the naval, alcohol prep it, and then inject.  I took a deep breath between the injections!  The Ganirelix injection needle hurt going in, but injecting the medicine didn’t hurt at all.  That shot was the most painful injection.  I knew that I had a limited supply of the Ganirelix injection, phew!  After that first Ganirelix injection, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make through 3 more!  Yikes!  Luckily, I only did one more Ganirelix shot!  It hurt the second time too!

There was something else going on…the lining of my uterus.  So, despite having to do all the injections, the lining of my uterus was going crazy!  I didn’t know what was going on!  At random, the lining of my uterus would shed…and I needed to be near a bathroom or my clothes would be completely soaked in blood.  I first noticed it at the end of my work day (in between my 3rd & 4th appointments).  I was in a meeting and I felt this surge of blood.  It was weird.  My meeting ended soon after and I went to the bathroom…where a huge chunk of the lining of my uterus came out.  This continued at random for 2 more days…with the same pattern, a surge of blood and then a chunk or more of the the lining of my uterus.  I didn’t know what to do.  I thought it was a side effect of the all the medications.  Since I was scheduled for an appointment the next day, I decided to bring it up then.

So, I did.  At my 4th appointment the doctor confirmed that it was most likely a side effect of the medications.  Just as I suspected.  When the doctor did the ultrasound I couldn’t keep up with the number of follicles, there were just SO many…I gave up counting.  I was reminded to take the injections one last time…one more Ganirelix and one more of the Bravelle and Menopur mixture.  It was at that appointment that the doctor decided we would freeze the embryos on egg retrieval day.  We would instead focus on the follicles.  On top of that, I was scheduled for an appointment…the next day.  That was not on the schedule.  I didn’t expect to have an appointment the next day but I just had to go with it.  Like I’ve mentioned before…flexibility.

I wasn’t too happy about having to postpone the embryo transfer because I knew that meant I would have to wait longer to know whether the IVF cycle was successful or not.  I was frustrated though, only because I had to wait.  I felt as though I’d waited for so long already.  I thought, “You have got to be kidding me!”  There’s really nothing I could do about it.  The follicles and the lining of my uterus were the new focus and priority.

So, that night after my appointment, right at 6:00pm I did my last 2 injections!  Well, not exactly…but close enough.  I knew I still had 1 more injection, the HCG shot.  The Ganirelix still hurt but I was relieved to be done with that.  Up to this point I had done 8 consecutive days of injections, 10 total injections.  The last 2/8 days were 2 injections each.

Ok, the next day I went in for my 5th appointment.  It was a Sunday and due to the time of my appointment, I was unable to attend church.  Just in case you’re wondering, we went after we came back.  Getting to the appointment was little different.  The building where the doctor is located is closed on Sundays.  So, we had to call so they could let us in.  I think it’s more work for the employees because they have to run around everywhere and be available for the next client coming in.  We made it and everything went smoothly.

The ultrasound went well and I still lost count of the number of follicles.  I didn’t care at that point, I knew it would be enough when it came time for the egg retrieval.  We left with more instructions and injections.  The doctor made me a special dosage of HCG and added a second injection of Lupron.  While he made those for me, my IVF coordinator talked to me about the antibiotic (Doxycycline).  My husband and I were given the same instructions to take one pill each that night and the next (2 days total).  It was an antibiotic to prepare us for the egg retrieval.  The doctor gave me the 2 injections with instructions to refrigerate them until it was time to inject them at 9pm.

Here is a picture of the antibiotic Doxycycline (left), and the alcohol prep pad.  I used an alcohol prep pad for each injection.  A little further down you’ll see the last 2 injections.

  

The HCG shot makes you ovulate and it is given at a specific time, 36 hours before the egg retrieval.  Lupron is used to treat endometriosis, which I have.  So, at 9pm that night the shots were injected one at a time.  I have to say, I think the needles were smaller.  I didn’t feel anything.  No pain, nothing!  That was awesome and such a relief after the Ganirelix injections!

Below you will see the 2 injections.  The injection on top is the Lupron and the one on the bottom is the HCG.  They are not labeled so I’m guessing here. But I’m pretty sure I’m right because the one on the bottom is a higher dosage (75 units), exactly what I was prescribed for the HCG injection.  The one on top is a thinner syringe that has 35 units.

The next day I went in again just for blood work.  I also brought in my HCG shot.  Since the doctor made one for me, I still had one at home.  He said I could give them mine, so I did.  That was one less medication to worry about.  The lining of my uterus stopped shedding.  I believe it was the Lupron injection that stopped the random shedding for 3 days.  That was a blessing and very helpful.  We took our antibiotics that night and reviewed the instructions for the egg retrieval.

As promised, here is the video!!  It shows how to mix the injections.  I’m just going to apologize in advance, it’s a long video.  I’m not a professional.  Lol.  I hope you have a better idea of how it’s done.

Thanks for reading and watching! 🙂

Next post:  Egg Retrieval Day


The Calendar, Timing, and Costs of IVF

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One of these posts, I’m going to catch up…it’s just not going to be this one!  I have SO many thoughts right now, I’m not quite sure where to begin.  I think I’ll start off with this…

I’m going to apologize beforehand, if anyone is offended by what I’m about to say.  I don’t intent to offend anyone.

One of the original purposes for starting this blog was to inform and help others.  I’m not trying, at all, to sugar coat the IVF process.  This is not something I’ve dreamed of doing, nor is it a result of something I’ve done wrong.  I get asked a lot of questions pertaining to the “hows and whys” I’m not pregnant.  People assume many things.  I’ve had some say that I’ve put my career ahead of my decision to have a baby/child/family.  I’ve had others wonder why I haven’t had a baby after being married for more than 7 years.  Yet others assume that it’s easy for everyone to conceive just by having intercourse.  If it were that simple, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Everyone’s experiences are very personal and individual.  I recognize that to some degree, if you haven’t experienced IVF, you will probably never fully understand what some women have to go through to become pregnant.  It’s difficult to explain how personal this is.  Even though IVF is a process, there is a tremendous amount of emotion, physical pain, and unexpected events that accompany it.  I hope that as I describe the steps and experiences I’ve had, that you will gain an understanding.  I don’t think I can really explain everything.  I’ll do my best.

The Calendar

Like I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of dates to remember.  Since I already wrote about the birth control, I think I’ll bypass that this time.  My calendar contains at least 2 weeks of intense activity, meaning appointments, ultrasounds, blood work, and injections.  Of course, all of this activity is tentative and subject to change, depending on how the uterus and ovaries look.  So, you have to keep your schedule open during that time.  My calendar included specific dates for my egg retrieval and embryo transfer, which I will discuss in more detail in upcoming posts. Oh ya, I forgot to mention another important date.  The calendar gives an exact date for when I will be starting the shots.  One month prior to starting the shots (while I take the birth control), my IVF copayment is due.

The Timing

IVF requires frequent monitoring, which is why timing is so critical.  Although I followed my calendar, I understood that I could be asked to come in for another appointment, the next day.  I could have an appointment anywhere between 1-3 days or more, in other words, flexibility is a requirement! 🙂

Costs of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Oh my, take a guess!  How much do you think IVF costs with or without insurance?  I’ve mentioned a range in previous posts.  Since this is our first time doing IVF, insurance will cover a majority of the costs.  Phew!  That’s definitely a good thing!

We had over a month to review the costs and make a decision about IVF before paying our portion.  There are a few options available to couples doing IVF.  For me, the copayment would either be $3,000 or $4,500 plus some additional fees that, if we consented, would be paid at a later time.  The options include the following:

1.  With or without ICSI.  ICSI stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.  Choosing to do ICSI ultimately means that after the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, each egg will be individually fertilized with a single sperm.  When I first heard of this procedure, I was amazed!  It’s very precise and pretty much guarantees that each egg retrieved will be fertilized, thus slightly increasing your success rate.

Choosing “without ICSI” means that the eggs and sperm are on their own.  They are placed together and then responsible for fertilization.  I’m not sure if you can still consider that “natural” but it kind of is.  It’s just not happening in your body.

The cost: Without ICSI = $3,000     With ICSI = $4,500

Without insurance, IVF would cost around $18,000-20,000.  That’s right!  Thinking things through is a MUST!  You want the best chances you can get with the least amount of variables or factors.

2.  Cryopreservation of the Embryos.  This is one of the additional fees to be paid at a later date.  Agreeing and paying for this means we would be freezing our embryos, which will cost $1,500.  There is also a fee for storing the embryos.  After the first year, keeping the embryos frozen will amount to $600/year, which equals $50 per month.

3.  Frozen Embryo Transfer Cycle.  If per chance we decide to freeze our embryos we have the option of doing a frozen embryo transfer cycle.  Say the IVF cycle did not result in pregnancy and we’d like another chance.  We can use the frozen embryos and have them transfered into the uterus rather than complete the entire IVF cycle again.  Or, say that the IVF cycle was successful and we wanted to increase posterity.  This same option would be available to us.  The cost of this cycle is $4,000.

These are all HARD decisions to make.  I’m grateful we had a sufficient time to review all of these options.  The first difficult decision, for me, in the IVF process, was whether to do ICSI or not.  The $1,500 additional charge was difficult.  Paying for it wasn’t the problem, not that we’re swimming in money!  I thought about this decision for a LONG time!  My husband and I had many discussions about it…still no definite answer.  We weighed the pros and cons, pondered, and prayed.  What was really going through my mind was this…is it necessary?  I didn’t feel comfortable paying for ICSI because I felt that it was for men with low sperm count.  From what I knew, there weren’t any issues with my husband’s sperm through semen analysis.  Then there were the “what ifs” that popped up in my head.  Like, what if only a few eggs are fertilized?  We were encouraged to do ICSI but in the end, it was up to us.  It took weeks for us to solidify our decision.

The second decision we contemplated was whether to freeze the remaining embryos or not.  My husband read a lot of articles that say that many couples become pregnant naturally after IVF.  We have NO idea if that would be the case for us.  How would we know?  We just speculated.  Regardless of that, we had to discuss and decide.  We didn’t need an answer yet but the time would approach quickly.

Decisions, decisions…

Next post: Our decisions