Invoice

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A few weeks after attending the Baby Expo, I received an invoice in the mail.  It wasn’t something I was expecting but I knew why I received it and had forgotten about it.  It was an invoice from Fertility Institute of Hawaii regarding our 5 embryos.

No, I had not informed Fertility Institute of Hawaii that I was pregnant.  No one called to follow up with me and I didn’t feel the need to tell them I was pregnant.  It’s not a big deal to me, that’s just how it happened.

Anyways!  The invoice was to preserve the 5 frozen embryos for a year.  This cost $628.27 ($600 + 4.712% tax) to be exact.  Seems like a lot of money for something that can’t be see with the naked eye.  Lol.  Well, that’s how much it costs and here are our options:

1.  Pay the $600+ to preserve our embryos

2.  Not pay the invoice and choose to discard or donate our embryos

Oddly enough, this decision was much harder than we thought.  My initial thought was that we would discard the embryos.  Paying the more than $600 was not appealing to me and it wasn’t a decision I really wanted to make while I was pregnant.

It’s not any easy decision to make but it had to be done.  In discussion with my husband, we talked about the pros and cons of both options available to us.  It took us 2-3 weeks during various times, to finally make a choice.  In the end, we decided on option #1 and paid to preserve our embryos for a year.  That will take us to May 2014 and we would go from there.  I know there’s no guarantee that we would have an easy time becoming pregnant again.  I suppose the best option for us at this time is to keep our options open, thus preserving our embryos.

I understand that this option is not available to everyone nor does it mean that anything will come of this decision.  We may be able to conceive on our own again or we may need to rely on assistance through IVF.  But since we paid the invoice to preserve our embryos, we have the option available to us.  We will have to see how it goes.

Next post: Low to High Risk


Something Different

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I hope you’ve enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a great New Year! 🙂

It’s nearing the start of a New Year, a time I’ve had to wait for in order to move forward with another IVF cycle.  What will the New Year bring?  I don’t know, is it important for me to know?  No, it’s important for me to have faith in Jesus Christ.

In November, after seeing Dr. Frattarelli – the OB/GYN, I knew something had to change.  Despite having to anticipate my January menses and experience IVF again, I honestly didn’t want to do IVF again.  Of course, with the 5 embryos that we have, I figured that was our only option.  However, I didn’t want that option.  I wanted us to become pregnant without assistance from technology.

I came up with an idea and proposed it to my husband.  He agreed so we went forward with our plan.  The plan was fairly simple…we would fast and pray for a baby, a miracle.  Realistically, the plan was not that easy to execute.  Just as a reminder, I saw Dr. F (ob/gyn) on Nov. 1, which was a Thursday.  Fast Sunday at church is the first Sunday of the month, which means that our plan was formed and solidified in 3 days.  On November 4th, Fast Sunday, we needed to move forward with our plan.  We fasted and prayed for a miracle.

A miracle wasn’t the only thing we fasted about.  We also fasted about a job – for me.  I hadn’t heard back from a place I applied.  I was hoping that during the month, sometime, I would be called for an interview.  We would see.

Interestingly enough, that Sunday in church many people bore testimony of miracles and faith through personal experiences.  This continued through the rest of church and for a few Sundays afterwards.  It made me wonder if miracles still happen.  I knew the answer to my wondering, yes, miracles still happen.  I didn’t know if my faith was strong enough to believe the Lord would grant unto us, a miracle.  Around this same time, my husband and I were concluding our reading of the Book of Mormon.  It was very intriguing to me that in Ether and Moroni (the last 2 books in the Book of Mormon) there are a lot of references to miracles.  Here are some of the scriptures:

Ether 12:12 states: “For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.”

Moroni 7: 29, 33, 37 explains, “And because he hath done this, my brethren, have miracles ceased?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.”

These are not the only references to miracles in the Book of Mormon, just the ones that stood out to me at the time.  I did read more to ponder about and listened to friends share experiences.

I knew that although our plan was fairly simple, it would require a lot from us.  For me, I think faith was a critical element to our fasting and praying.  Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ requires work.  I can’t just sit around and say I have faith.  Faith expresses trust and love, it requires humility and expands our understanding.

I knew the Lord would hear our prayers.  I didn’t know whether He would bless us with a miracle.  I trusted Him and knew that whatever was right, would happen.  I have learned that I don’t just tell the Lord what I want, I share my desires and wait upon the Lord.  I know the Lord knows what is best for me.

Next post:  Thanksgiving


Considering the Options

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Well, understanding and considering all the options available to us takes a lot of time.  I don’t know if I can adequately express or explain the amount of time and thoughts involved in this process.  In my last post, I explained the options and costs:

1.  FET

2. IVF

3. Natural Cycle with meds

You know, my husband & I have spent many hours discussing the options…the costs, the time, the what ifs, etc.  You name it, we’ve talked about it.  Of course, this also includes the consequences of each option as well as reality.  One of the realities of each option is that it may not be successful.  It’s not being pessimistic, it’s being thorough.  Being thorough is necessary because if you can’t deal with an unsuccessful pregnancy, FET, or IVF cycle…it makes it more difficult to cope with.  It’s already hard as it is, you don’t need more pain to deal with.  You need to talk about the possibility of things not going the way you plan or desire.  Here’s the thing about being thorough, you need to consider all the options, whether you want to or not.  Of course, you always hope that everything works out good but that is not always the case…believe me, I know…just read my last few posts.

I never thought I would experience all 3 of the options available to us.  Honestly, considering these options with experience in mind, was just a tad bit easier.  Having had experience helped because I knew the processes and what to expect.  Two of the important factors for me were cost and pain.  Lol.  I truly had to wonder if I wanted to do injections again and actually, I was ok with it.  Most people cringe when I explain the injections to them, but in reality, it’s 10-12 consecutive days at the most.  In the big picture, I feel like it’s doable.  You may think I’m crazy but it’s really not that bad.

The prices for all the options was a hard decision for us.  Spending $4K is quite an expense, considering it’s not covered by insurance.  Plus it’s only a little bit more than a fresh IVF cycle (covered by insurance).  The other thing we considered is that a FET can be done whenever you want…with at least 2 months notice.  The embryos are frozen, you can thaw them anytime you want.  We have the option of thawing them for an FET cycle years from now.  I hope that makes sense.  The option is good, the price is ok – meaning affordable, and long term – it’s a good option because the embryos are still the age of retrieval.  So, for example, if I was 35 when they are retrieved, then they will be 35 five years later when if we decide to do an FET then.  Of course, I’m not that age, hence it’s an example.

With all that said, we knew and still know all the options for us.  It’s a matter of waiting for when we’re ready to do it.  It also matters what Dr. F recommends.  So, this means I will call on Day 1 and schedule a Day 10 exam.  Based on that exam, we’ll go from there!

Next post:  Day 10


Now What?

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Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 2 weeks since my last post.  I’m sorry for not posting earlier.  I’ve been quite busy with a variety of projects.  I’m planning to post them on my other website soon.  Anyhow, I hope you are all doing well. 🙂

Coincidentally, the last post I wrote was the day I met with Dr. F to discuss our options.  Prior to our meeting, here are the options I thought we had:

1 – Do another FET, which FYI, insurance does not cover.  It’s an out-of-pocket expense that costs $4,000.

2 – Do another IVF cycle, which I estimated would cost another $3,000+.

and 3 – Nothing.  Take a break from all the medication and wait.

In my last post I mentioned that I was done and I didn’t want to continue trying anymore.  I felt that way because I was so hurt and the process is time consuming.  I recognized that a break was necessary but I didn’t want to take it.  Honestly, I wanted to do another FET but I knew what I needed to do…option 3…Nothing, at least for a little while.  Choosing to do another FET right away would have been more draining.  I knew my body needed to rest from all the medications and the emotional stress I experienced.

Doing another FET seemed to be only option but the price was not inviting.  Plus, money is always considered, whether or not I’m working outside my home.  I knew that we could afford to do another FET but I really had to think about whether that would be a smart decision.  I thought about the options we had and was still usure of what to do.  My husband & I discussed the options and decided we would wait until next year, 2013 to do anything, whatever it would be.  Of course, our decision also depended on Dr. F. recommendations.

The night before the meeting I wrote a couple of questions in my phone so I wouldn’t forget to ask them.  I really didn’t know what the objective of the meeting was and I didn’t know what to expect.  I figured we would discuss the FET and options, obviously, but other than that I didn’t know.

The day arrived for my follow up appointment with Dr. F.  I went by myself because my husband had a work meeting and was unable to attend.  When I arrived, they were apparently busy.  I knew I would be waiting a little longer than usual.  It wasn’t a problem because they have a TV and I have my phone to do shopkicks on.  When ready, Dr. F. and I walked to his office.  He shut the door and then talked with me while looking through my folder.  He allowed time for me to ask questions.  I only had 2.  The first questions was in regard to my endometriosis and if I should consider removing it.  I don’t remember the entire answer but I remember him explaining that removing it would be helpful if I experience a lot of pain.  I remember thinking that I do but I didn’t say anything.  I just thought about it.  The second question I had was about my menses.  I wanted to know why I didn’t get it prior to the blood test results.  Dr. F explained that during a normal menstrual cycle, a drop in progesterone levels would initiate my menses.  So, because I was still taking the progesterone I didn’t get a period until after I stopped the medication.  I was like, “Oh!”  After that I felt dumb because I felt like I should know that.  Lol.  After answering all my questions, we carried on with our discussion.

Dr. F. apologized for us not having any success.  I didn’t know what to say.  I felt he was genuine and I played it off by telling him, “it’s ok.”  That was awkward for me.  It wasn’t ok but I knew we both recognized that success was important.  Instead of dwelling on the lack of success, Dr. F focused on the embryos.

Dr. F used an analogy that helped me understand his perspective in the process, including our options.  I’ll call it…The Olympics.  He showed me pictures of our remaining 5 embryos and compared them to the olympics.  Seeing the embryos renewed my strength, hope, and purpose.  I completely understood the analogy and was again reminded of the risks involved with every step.  To make it to the freezing, each of the embryos are really good.  They’re the best athletes!  When it comes to the day of competition, you hope for an elite performance but never truly know how they will perform.  I may have exaggerated a little more than Dr. F, but you get the point right?  Dr. F. explained that he would expect 3-4 babies from the 7 embryos we originally had and with the 5 left, he still has that same expectation.  I know each embryo must meet a specific criteria so it was intriguing to me that the same expectation applies to the 5 remaining embryos.  Pretty cool actually!

We continued our meeting by discussion our options.  I was pretty accurate in my guesses for options.  Dr. F reviewed all the options, including the ones I thought about.  Dr. F, he’s so nice.  One more than one occasion, he’s told me I’m young.  Lol.  Sometimes I don’t feel young when I think of trying to have my first child at thirty-something.  But I am young! 🙂  Just a little note here…if the Dr. tells you you’re young, soak it up!  Lol.  Anyways!  Here’s a brief description of what we talked about:

1) FET.  Cost: $4,000   Begin: whenever we want.  This option is always available as long as we have frozen embryos…and we pay the storage fee.  Ya, I know, it reminds me of the all the storage facilities that have popped up on Oahu over the past 5+ years.  Except my embryos require much less space.  Lol.

2) IVF.  If we switched insurance companies we would get another “free” try.  Dr. F office would not charge us a copay for this second cycle.  Not sure if you remember but the copay price begins at $3,000.

3) Natural cycle with a little medicine.  I was not expecting this to be an option.  I told Dr. F that we weren’t planning to start anything until next year, end of January at the earliest.  He was respectful of that, which I really appreciated.  Now that I think about it, I don’t think we talked about how much this option would be.  I’m assuming that it is much cheaper than the other options.  I’m guess it’s like an IUI, which is a few hundred dollars.  Dr. F requested to do an ultrasound after we finished our discussion.  He wanted to see what the lining of my uterus looked like without medication, during a regular cycle.

Our meeting was done.  We walked out of Dr. F office and into an exam room.  I had a few minutes to change before he and my IVF coordinator knocked and came in.  During the exam, Dr. F inspected my uterus and remarked that it looked good.  What a relief!  I was hoping it would look ok.  I was so enthralled that Dr. F could tell I ovulated by the looking at my uterus.  It was amazing to me.  Dr. F wanted to see the lining of my uterus at different times during a normal cycle.  So, I have to call to schedule a day 10-12 exam.  Looks like the natural cycle is an option for now.  Yeah!

Well, those are our options.  I feel good and comfortable with them.  Another good thing is that I didn’t feel pressured from anyone to do anything.  The decisions were and are completely ours.  You know, after the FET was not successful, in some ways I felt like our options were limited to FET or IVF.  I’m glad that I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. F.

Still not sure what option we’ll choose.  We’ll see.

Next post: Considering the Options


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.)


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


Embyros & Answers

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After all that, I forgot to explain how the eggs are retrieved.  The eggs are retrieved vaginally, guided by ultrasound.  A very thin needle collects the eggs like a vacuum.  Not all the follicles that grow, produce eggs…that’s why it’s important to have the ultrasound.  Well, that’s a quick version of how the eggs are retrieved.

In a previous post I wrote about a crucial decision…ICSI or no ICSI.  We chose not to do ICSI and now was the time see the result of that decision.

Around this same time, there was a story in the news about ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).  The news came out of the UK addressing birth defects as a result of ICSI.  Here is a link to the article, check it out.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9248899/Birth-defect-link-to-IVF-injections.html

The article was definitely not something I expected to hear about while I was preparing for my egg retrieval.  Even before I knew how many of our eggs were fertilized, I felt our decision was validated.  Still, there was the uncertainty of not knowing, yet.

So the day after my egg retrieval, I called the doctor to find out the # of eggs fertilized.  I knew there were 12 eggs, but I didn’t know how many were fertilized, which I REALLY wanted to know.  I felt as though everything weighed on that #.  Each step/milestone in the IVF process has its potential risks and you try your best to be prepared.  In reality it was important to know but it wasn’t everything.

It was after lunch while I was at work, that my IVF coordinator called.  I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect.  She said that 10 of the (12) eggs were fertilized.  I got teary eyed as she spoke to me.  I felt so blessed.  I immediately knew two things: 1, the Lord answered our prayers and 2, we made the right decision.  Right after we hung up, I called my husband to let him know.  He was just as happy as I was.  When we discussed it again later that night, I did a fist pump.  It was one of those things that I was SUPER excited about.  I knew that despite all the pressure I felt to do ICSI, it wasn’t necessary. The Lord saved us $1,500.  I felt so many things…blessed, relief, grateful, and hopeful.  I felt so good that I didn’t change my decision and I didn’t conform to the pressure to do ICSI.  I was grateful most of the eggs were fertilized and relieved that that part of IVF was done.  To me, it was successful and I was hopeful for the next step…the # frozen embryos.

Next post: Frozen Embryos


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