Thursday, December 2, 2010

Halfway There!

A milestone! As of today I am 20 weeks along, technically this is over halfway for us since we are shooting for delivery around 38 weeks (McAwesome says anything over 35 weeks is gravy) and it's crazy for us to think of how far we have come.  I can't believe we are here, and also I can't believe I only have 18 weeks left! All of a sudden I feel like I need to get everything done! Our paranoia kind of kept me from really jumping into the nesting thing early but it's in full effect these days.  We have the basics of the nursery set up (cribs and changing table-thanks mom) and the bigger items we need to purchase researched and decided, so I feel relatively prepared, but the threat of bed rest has me wanting to get things rolling.  Speaking of paranoia, I caved and purchased a heart rate monitor online.  Initially I thought these were ridiculous, that surely I wouldn't need one and even considered the idea silly, but somewhere around week 17 in a hormone induced loss of reason I bought it.  Within days I started feeling the boys move with some consistency making the monitor somewhat less relevant, but I find it reassuring nonetheless.  It's nice to at any time be able to hear both their little heartbeats and know they are still in there and growing. 

We had our Amniocentesis done at 16 weeks 4 days and got our full results back (also reassuring) and the boys passed with flying colors.  They did an initial anatomy scan at that time but their little bodies were still a little small to take complete comparable measurements so we have another 3 hour ultrasound next week.  I never get tired of these, seeing the little guys moving around and how they've grown never ceases to amaze me.  Feeling them move has been another source of amazement, it blows my mind every time and I'm not gonna lie, I am still getting used to those sensations.  So far righty has been my little acrobat, he moves with much more consistency than lefty but they both become mini gymnasts after my nightly Popsicle craving. 

Overall I am feeling pretty good, around week 18 I started experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions.  These are like faux contractions that usually start somewhere after 20 weeks (but closer to 28 weeks) to help the body prepare for labor.  However to see as many as I was seeing as early as I was kind of raised a red flag with McAwesome and crew.  Modified bed rest seems to have helped keep them at bay, along with an increase in my daily water intake to almost 3 liters.  Still, when we have our anatomy scan next week they are ordering a measurement of my cervix to make sure it isn't shortening and that pre-term labor isn't going to be a problem.  Hopefully it looks good and the modified bed rest and complete pelvic rest will be the worst of it, I have my fingers crossed after reading the blogs of several women pregnant with twins that have had to endure weeks of solid (or worse yet-hospital) bed rest.  Physically I feel like I finally look pregnant and not just chubby, so far I have gained 15 pounds, with probably another 15-20 to go before it's all said and done.  The belly is getting bigger, at times I feel as though there is no way I can get any larger, it feels like my stomach will burst.  I know that I will in fact get larger and I am a little freaked out by this, not the size but what it means for my comfort level.  I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but man what I wouldn't give to have a night of sleep like I did back in the first trimester. My back isn't loving the addition to the front and I'm probably going to have to start sporting a belly support band here soon.

I find myself talking to the boys a lot more now that I can feel them more and I know that their little ears are developing and am trying to get Brady to talk to the belly as often as possible.  We are still doing our am & pm frog routine, we've been doing it for so long that we've become superstitious, it would feel totally wrong to skip it now.  I think this is one of the many steps to losing our minds that is part of becoming a parent.  On a fun note our neighbors have found out they too are pregnant with twins (after four rounds of IVF) and due three months after us, we are excited to have a built in play group right next door!

Here is an updated belly pic, taken today, at exactly 20 weeks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It has been brought to my attention that I have been completely slacking in regards to this blog, and it's true, and I am sorry.  I don't even have a good excuse, like working around the clock or exhaustion or lots of exciting things happening to blame.  In fact it's the exact opposite, not a lot has been happening and I feel a little ridiculous blogging about the somewhat mundane day to day details of my life as a stay at home pregnant lady.

That being said let's play catch up. Since my last blog post I have made it to the second trimester!  I don't know that it's the magical utopia I was promised, but I am feeling quite a bit better.  Food is no longer evil and there is a peace of mind that comes with knowing we have made it this far.  I still have some anxiety and worry about the babies, I often wonder when I will have complete peace with this pregnancy.  I remarked to Brady that I would feel better once we hit 20 weeks, he said he would feel better once we hit 42 weeks :).  Still every day it becomes more real and the ever growing belly is certainly helping us feel more reassured that things are progressing as they should.  I am at that stage where I feel like I just look like I have enjoyed one too many pints of Ben and Jerry's but I hope the official prego belly will show up here soon.

Earlier this week we had an in-depth ultrasound and found out we are having twin boys!  We couldn't be more excited. I was hoping for a boy and a girl for a little variety but truly we just want two healthy babies.  The ultrasound was kind of amazing, seeing in detail their little bodies, fingers and toes, the hearts and spine kind of blew my mind and I have a whole new appreciation for ultrasound technicians! I have no idea how they can tell what is what (although some things are pretty obvious) and I keep staring at the pictures trying to wrap my mind around the fact that those are my little guys. We have our list of names pretty whittled down but for now I am simply referring to them as "righty and lefty" and talk to them every day, because I wasn't crazy enough before I now talk to myself.   As of tomorrow I will be 17 weeks, which means about 5 more months to go until the insanity really starts, until then I am enjoying lots of quiet down time while I still have it.

And as requested by many, here is a pic of the quasi-prego belly at around 15 weeks

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


And I am happy to say I have nothing exciting to report.  As of tomorrow I will be 12 weeks along in this pregnancy, this is a big milestone for us and though we are still a little scared we are starting to get a little excited.  Overall I have been feeling  better than weeks past, I am finally able to eat three actual meals a day and have managed to even gain a little weight instead of losing it. This is a bittersweet transition for me, while I am thrilled to not feel sick all the time, the omnipresent nausea was also in a way comforting to me, a reminder that our little beans were there and healthy.  My body has mostly taken over progesterone production and we are now done with the nightly intramuscular shots (yay!).  My body has also taken up a few other neat little habits, like growing hair.  This is not super awesome, suddenly I'm covered in peach fuzz and for the first time in my life had to wax above my upper lip, because I wasn't having a hard enough time feeling attractive what with the constant belching and hormone induced acne happening.  Additionally I've become part blood hound.  Every smell is crazy intense, I can't seem to open the fridge without gagging and can somehow smell the garbage under the sink at all times.  Yesterday I had Brady remove everything under the kitchen sink and scrub it down with Lysol, and today I can still smell it (he smells nothing and thinks I am losing my mind).  Though it's early I've also started to show a little bit, at first I thought it wasn't possible but now there is really no denying it.  I have to unbutton my pants when I'm driving which has led to one or two embarrassing moments getting out of the car (note to self, re-button pants before exiting vehicle) and find myself living in sweatpants whenever home.  Overall I feel pretty good and am looking forward to my next ultrasound in a couple of weeks.  The upside to twins regarding the doctor appointments is that I will get an ultrasound at every one, I find this tremendously reassuring and look forward to seeing how much our little ones have developed.  Until then I am hanging out on the couch and counting the days until we are in the magical second trimester (7-14 days depending on which book I reference), keeping my fingers crossed and eating everything in site!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

De`ja Vu

I was hoping this wasn't going to happen.  I knew it would be impossible to keep the agony of our miscarriage last fall from the back of my mind throughout this pregnancy but I honestly thought that we were going to make it through the first trimester without a scare, until last week.  Out of the blue and completely unexpectedly, I began spotting.  I've been really good about going to acupuncture and working on my breathing and maintaining low stress levels but the spotting kind of blew all that out of the water.  It's the thing no pregnant woman ever wants to see and given our history it's especially nerve wracking.  I knew better than to call the magic man at 9pm crying hysterically so I patiently waited until 7 am the next morning.  He did his best to assuage my fears and calm me down, and I did my best to listen to him but all I heard was "blah blah blah we have to wait until Monday for an ultrasound".  To clarify, I began spotting on Wednesday evening and was talking to him Thursday morning, that meant I was going to have to wait 5 DAYS to have the reassurance I was seeking.  5 DAYS!  In the meantime I was told to limit my activity and go on bed rest for the following couple of days and then modified bed rest until the Ultrasound, oh and to try to relax.  Right, like that is even possible for me under the best of circumstances, let alone under duress.  It was going to be a long weekend.  To make matters worse, it was my birthday weekend, and the 1 year anniversary of the sadness of last fall.  So I cancelled my birthday plans and got cozy on the couch and had myself a little self indulgent pity party.  It was seriously the longest 5 days of my life.  Brady was a complete rock star (naturally) optimistic and cheerful, dabbing my tears and even cooking me a birthday dinner because we couldn't go out.  Monday morning finally arrived and we headed into the city, both of us nervous and anxious to see our little ones and hear some good news.  Laying on the table with Brady seated next to me (he was worried he was going to either pass out or puke so he opted to not stand) we got started and the magic man was quick to shout out when he saw the two heartbeats.  There they were, going strong and even moving around like crazy.  I have never been so relieved in my entire life.  I hadn't cried at any of the previous ultrasounds but I did at this one.  All the built up stress and anxiety of the previous 5 days just came pouring out, I couldn't help it.  Post ultrasound the magic man went ahead and cleared me to start seeing my normal doc, he shook our hands, I felt like I should  hug him or something,  but it seemed werid with me being half naked and all. 

I am aware that I have complained about bed rest in the past, lamented about laying around and feeling like a slug but I've seen the light.  I have a whole new appreciation for what doing a big bunch of nothing can do for the body.  I'm a woman of extremes and something tells me I just might take this whole bed rest thing and run with it.  It isn't terribly hard these days, when the morning sickness lasts all day and the most I am able to even think about eating is plain bagels and mac and cheese (which I haven't eaten since college).  We aren't sure what caused the spotting but earlier that day I had spent out and about, shopping, running errands and generally engaging in more activity than I had in the previous weeks.  I haven't been able to exercise per doctors orders since the transplant of the eggs and I had been really good about avoiding anything strenuous. I hadn't thought that a day of shopping would be potentially dangerous but I am playing it safe from here on out, at least until we are safely into the second trimester.  We met with my regular OBGYN (McAwesome) a couple of days later and started the "normal" pregnancy doctor visits.  It's a pretty interesting contrast from the weekly ultrasounds and blood draws we've been spoiled with during the IVF process, still it's reassuring to know we've made it to this point. 

Now I am not saying that the stress of the last week is any excuse for my not posting on here, I realize I've been pretty lame about keeping everyone posted and I promise to do better in the coming weeks.  After all we have three more weeks to go until we are in the second trimester, that's a lot of bed rest people and I will need something to keep me occupied.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ignorance is Bliss

This is my new motto.  My mother has jokingly said this for years and while I get the basic gist of it I think for the first time in my life I have a real appreciation for what it can mean.  Since finding out we were pregnant and then that our little beans are growing a little slow I've been a nervous wreck.  I know this is not good for the babies or my mental state (or Brady's sanity), every article I read or message board I find seems to give me something else to stress out about.  I know this is probably not the intention of the authors but I am seriously over analyzing every aspect of my body and this pregnancy with every "normal" number range and "whats safe?" list. I find it insane that the UK version of a certain popular baby website lists all kinds of wonderful cheeses that are safe during pregnancy but the American version tells me they are all off limits, clearly someone stateside is attempting to end my ongoing love affair with Pecorino Romano and Feta.  Am I drinking enough water? Consuming enough calories? Should I be taking two prenatal vitamins every day since I have two babies?  It's never ending and has been driving me crazy.  On Wednesday I made an appointment with my fantastic acupuncturist and she gave me the best advice ever.  When discussing things that have been causing stress over the last week (she's attempting to help me stay zen) she suggested that too much information can be a bad thing.  "Your body knows exactly what it needs right now, forget the web pages and books, just listen to what your body is telling you. Eat, sleep and drink lots of water, that's all you need to worry about right now because the rest is completely out of your hands".  I realize she is right and this knowledge is surprisingly freeing.  I've put away all the baby books for now, vowed to not open the web browser to baby sites and just focus on listening to what my body tells me to do.  It seems so simple I feel a little ridiculous for not realizing it myself.   

Several people have had less than enthusiastic reactions to hearing we are having twins and I think the same rule applies.  We have no idea what we are in for here people, we have no other children, we don't know what midnight feedings are like or how many diapers we will go through or how overwhelmed we will be and I think it's this ignorance that allows us to be excited.  People think we are nuts to be thrilled but we don't know to worried about the lack of sleep or costs of twins.  We are clueless, we accept this, we know it will be hard but there are people out there who go through much more difficult things every day, they manage and survive and so will we.  In the meantime I am going to stick my head back in the sand and enjoy my four hour afternoon naps and daydreams of our happy little family that sleeps through the night and has no poopy diapers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Got Twins?

Life just got a little bit crazier. 

Yesterday we had our first ultrasound since the confirmation blood tests,  it had been two weeks of waiting and we were excited and anxious for this to go well.  I had been experiencing some morning sickness and fatigue which helped to reassure us that the pregnancy was progressing as it should but we were still nervous.  From the day we got our blood test results I've been pretty certain it was twins, Brady refused to be swayed one way or the other but somehow I knew.  I would refer to the "babies" plural (I didn't want one to feel left out just in case) and started preparing myself for a two for one result on our ultrasound.  Laying there waiting for the Magic Man was agony but finally he was there and the lights were out and there they were. Two of them.  It was unreal looking at the ultrasound machine and seeing our two little ones and knowing our life will never be the same.  As of yesterday I was 6 weeks and 4 days along and our little guys are measuring a little small.  Baby A is measuring at 6 weeks 1 day and baby B is measuring at 6 weeks exactly, the Magic Man didn't seem overly concerned but told us he wants to check them again in a week to make sure they are growing as they should.  We were thrilled to both see and hear their little heartbeats going strong at 110 and 109 (doc said anything over 100 was what we were looking for) and even got some ultrasound pictures to stare at and obsess over for the next week.  My blood levels from the day show a good estradol level which means I can start to wean off of the oral estrace I have been taking and while my progesterone levels are good they want them to stay that way, this means continuing on the shots probably for another month or so.

I find myself going from complete elation to reserved optimism.  After everything we have been through I am not sure when we will feel like it's safe to really be excited.  We are trying to think good thoughts and create an atmosphere of good energy and to not go crazy with stress and worry in the next week.  I am doing my best to rest up and take good care of myself.  I joke that I am in slug mode.  All I do is eat and sleep and pee.  Brady has been a champ, helping more around the house and trying like mad to finish all of the new house projects we started this summer in anticipation of the upcoming madness.  I know it's still early and allot can happen but I feel good, I feel happy and I feel like we are finally on our way to becoming a family.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Now What?

Resting, that's what.  It's been almost a week since we found out the good news and I'm happy to report not much has happened since then.  We initially had one blood test to check my HCG levels and were thrilled to hear we were in fact pregnant, our second blood test two days later confirmed this and the news has settled in a little.  Our levels rose at good rates in the two days between blood tests and I inquired about the indication of twins, our RN said that while we won't know for certain until our ultrasound on the 30th, with the numbers she was seeing she wouldn't be surprised.  Twins is something that both Brady and I would love to have, we've always said we were meant for twins and while I know we are completely naive in regards to what it is like to have children, we know that we are capable and after this journey we will be grateful for additional blessings.  I should mention here that we have two sets of twins already in the family, my little brother and sister (age 30) and twin little brothers (age 7) so I have witnessed firsthand the insanity of two for one, but being a little left of sane myself I think maybe it's meant to be.  We will be grateful and thrilled regardless of the number however and know that what is meant to happen will. 

So the next big event will be our ultrasound on August 30th.  Normally the first ultrasound is done by an OBGYN at around 8-10 weeks, however with IVF things are a little different.  I am not sure if it's due to the high rate of multiples or just ongoing diligence but my first ultrasound will take place exactly four weeks after the day they harvested my eggs.  This means we won't see a heartbeat or anything but we should see if things are progressing as they should and we will learn of course whether we will have one bundle of joy or we should start buying stock in xanax. Until then I am kind of laying low and trying to play it safe.  This is hard for me, I don't like laying around and feel increasingly guilty about my inability to perform some of the much needed manual labor around the house and new yard.  Occasionally I have to stop and remind myself of what we have gone through to get here and I realize that it isn't about what I can or cannot do, what is done or undone, it is about doing everything in my power to not take for granted what we have been given.  I am learning more and more every day that it's no longer just about me and my desire to do it all.  Right now I have to chill, I have to read and write and garden and bake and RELAX and surrender to the process and if that means resting on the couch watching movies and noshing on fresh fruit, then so be it :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It Worked!

Today was the big day, blood draw early this morning and the best news of my life just before noon.  I can't believe we made it and it worked. I will admit there were times when I wondered if we would ever be here and if we could do it, I am so glad that we did.  I had the doctors office call Brady with the news because I wanted to hear it from him and I knew the minute I answered my phone that the news was good.  For the first time in my life I was at a loss for words, I wanted to shout and jump up and down and cry all at the same time, I was in the car however, so I settled for silent tears of joy.  Hearing the excitement in Brady's voice and knowing that we were finally to this point has made every shot, doctors appointment, blood draw and uncomfortable ultrasound worth it. 

We know we aren't out of the woods yet, we've been here before and it's still pretty early in the game, but we are so hopeful and thankful to have made it this far.  We go in for another blood draw on Saturday to ensure that my levels are doubling the way they are supposed to and I am continuing on the oral estrace and the nightly progesterone shots to help support the pregnancy. I will admit to a small amount of paranoia, I know that this will be a challenge for me going forward but I am determined to keep it in check.  Right now I am going to focus on the wonderful.  My wonderful husband who has been my rock and my wonderful family who has been crazy supportive and most of all the wonderful gift that we have been given.  We know that the real journey has just begun, the only question left is, will there be one or two?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Almost There

So I am one of those people who hopes for the best and prepares for the worst, I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing but come Thursday I'm going to find out.  Two more days until we find out if our ride on the IVF roller coaster has been successful and so far I've done a pretty good job of not climbing the walls in anticipation.  It may sound strange but I find solace in the not knowing, I almost don't want to get the results because they may not be what I want to hear.  For the first time I'm nervous about finding out, I'm even dreaming about it.  Last night I dreamed that we found out it didn't work, I don't know how to interpret this, normally I think dreams are trying to tell us something, today I think that theory is bunk. 

I am trying to stay busy, to not think about the possibility of success or failure but the closer I get to finding out the harder that gets.  Part of me wants to get excited at the thought of a positive result, the elation Brady and I will feel and the excitement of knowing that we may finally have a child to shower with love.  But then I remember back, our first pregnancy and the IUIs and the agony of bad news.  I want to get excited, I want to get my hopes up, but I don't know how I can handle the fall if the news is bad.  So we wait, and I keep walking this fine line of hoping and preparing.  I don't know if I will ever be ready to hear the results but I know regardless if they are yay or nay that our journey to have a family isn't over, and there is solace in that too. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hurry Up & Wait

All along I thought that the shots and poking and prodding with ultrasound wands was going to be the worst part but the fact of the matter is all those things, uncomfortable as they were, were a great distraction. Now that the transfer is complete and bed rest is over I have seven agonizing days until my blood test to see if after all this we were able to make a baby.  The waiting is definitely the hardest part. 

On Tuesday we headed into the city for the transfer, and actually headed in a little early to visit one of my closest girl friends who happened to be in labor right next door at Good Sam.  I was bummed that I was going to be on bed rest when the baby finally arrived but am pretty convinced the last minute belly rub was good luck (which was good since I forgot the fertility frog, doh!). During our mock embryo transfer we discovered the procedure would be easiest with a very full bladder, my cervix is tilted pretty far back making the path to my uterus into a maze with something close to a ninety degree angle near the end and the full bladder somehow assists with this.  During the practice run I didn't have a full enough bladder and the whole procedure was rather uncomfortable, this time I wasn't taking any chances, I downed multiple bottles of sparkling water in preparation.  When we finally checked in and got settled in our room I discovered there is such a thing as being too prepared.  We were still 30 minutes out from getting our little guys settled in and I was doing the pee pee dance in a hospital gown.  Our nurse took pity on me and allowed me to evacuate some of my bladder, she handed me a cup and noted where I could fill to and it took every ounce of self control I had to not overfill.  Shortly thereafter the magic man showed up, handed me a Valium and we headed into the sterile room for the transfer.  My painfully full bladder paid off, the magic man was very pleased and the whole thing took about 10 minutes.  Three months of preparation for 10 minutes, crazy.  Afterwards I am wheeled into the recovery room where Brady is chilling and we put on some soothing music and  I do my best to relax with my still full bladder for the next hour.  Once done I am wheeled down to the car and we head home with me telling Brady to take it easy around turns and going over speed bumps, as though every jostle could somehow dislodge all our hopes from my uterine lining.  At the house I settle into the bed in front of the TV and get cozy.  After a movie, two magazines, consuming at least 4 pickles and filing my nails and I am already bored.  It was going to be a long 48 hours. 

Over the next day and a half I watch lots of movies, I toss and turn trying to find a way to get comfortable laying with my head at no more than a 45 degree angle and I dream of a shower like it's a tropical vacation. I spent allot of time speaking words of encouragement to my belly like a crazy woman and visualizing the blastocysts embedding themselves in my uterus.  Now I don't really know what that would look like but I'm a pretty creative girl and I imagined a soothing environment with lots of soft colors and pillows and maybe some Marvin Gaye playing in the background.  Daydreams aside, this morning couldn't come fast enough, getting out of bed and stretching was brilliant dipped in awesome topped with wonderful.  I still have to lay low for a while which is hard but I am not leaving anything to chance.  This morning the embryologist called and told us that they were able to freeze three of the remaining eggs.  I am hoping we don't need them though, hoping with all my heart. 

The pic of our 5 day old blastocysts that were transferred.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Big Day

I can't believe we are here!  It feels a little crazy to know that we finally made it to this point.  It has been a crazy road and we are very grateful to have made it this far.  Today is the day we go in and have the blastocysts transferred into my uterus where they hopefully get comfortable and stay a while.  This morning we got the call from our Embryologist letting us know that of the 8 eggs that fertilized 6 have continued to grow.  This is the good news.  She proceeds to let me know that they are growing a little slow however, and this is the not so good news.  We are told that the embryos are looking more like they should on the day before transfer rather than the day of.  She assures me that this doesn't mean they won't make babies and thinks that there is still enough grow time before the transfer for them to catch up and make clear which two we should implant.  I don't know what this means for the others though and I hope we can still freeze the remaining 4.  I have to admit a slight dip in my positivity due to this news but I'm going to blame the hormones and try to not let it get me down. 

We are due to report to the clinic at 2:15 this afternoon for the transfer.  We have done a mock transfer already so I know what to expect.  The procedure requires me to have a full bladder, this means that an already uncomfortable procedure is now stressful as well.  The doc tells me to relax so he can guide the catheter in, perhaps he doesn't realize how difficult that is when I'm doing my best to not release my full bladder all over him.  I am told that for the real deal this afternoon they will give me Valium to aid in my relaxation and I am wondering how many times this has led to the Magic Man getting urinated on.  Once we are done with the transfer I get to chill in the office on my back for an hour, I am told a bed pan will be available to help make this more comfortable, again with the bedpans, yay.  After that we head home for two days of bed rest.  I have to be laying down, I can have my head elevated with pillows but at no more than a 45 degree angle.  I am only allowed up to use the restroom and once again, it was suggested that I use a bedpan most of the time.  I think it's obvious at this point the clinic is clearly trying to bring bedpans back. I will admit to a certain purchase at REI to aid in bathroom breaks on bed rest and tell myself that it will be worth the indignity in the long run.  After the two days I am free to get up and shower but no baths, in fact no to a lot of things.  No exercise at a level that makes me sweat, no elevating my heart rate over a certain level and no sex.  In fact we haven't been allowed to have sex since the week before the egg retrieval and won't be able to until our BHCG pregnancy test 12 days from now.  I find it amusing we are making a baby with absolutely no sex, Brady thinks this is slightly less than amusing. 

I am not looking forward to bed rest.  Those that know me know that me sitting still for anything more than an hour or so (who are we kidding 10 minutes) is difficult and therefore this will be the challenge of my life.  I am hoping I am able to find my zen, I am hoping I don't drive Brady crazy and I am hoping that I can manage to stay calm and remember to be grateful.  That might be a big order considering I'm going to be peeing into a water bottle and relying on my darling husband to cook and give me sponge baths, but I think I can do it.  In fact, I think it might even be good for me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Wall

It's official.  Any hope I had of making it through this process without hitting the wall and completely breaking down is gone and that thing I said about trading the three tummy shots for the one intramuscular?  I take it all back.  Last night started the progesterone shots and I completely lost it at the mere sight of the needle.  It's that bad.  Or I am just that much of a wimp, I can't decide which. 

Now that we have grown the eggs and harvested them we are on to preparing my body for implantation and maintenance of early pregnancy should the implantation be successful.  This means hormones.  Let the fun begin. The Progesterone is the only one given in shot form, in addition I am taking Medrol (low dose steroid) and Estrace (estrogen).  Now normally I like to think I am a pretty even keeled person, I'm not claiming to be the patron saint of reason or anything but generally I can make it at least a couple of days without crying for no reason.  Not so much the case anymore.  I would try to describe how off balance I feel but it might set off the waterworks again.  Last night when Brady got the gear out to give me my progesterone shot I had no idea I was going to lose it.  I was feeling fine and then I saw the needle and remembered it was intramuscular and I just broke down.  I don't know whats wrong with me, I'm a tough girl, I've run marathons, I should not be crying like a little kid at the mere thought of a shot.  This shot has to go in at a specific location on my hip and also has to be administered in a specific amount of time to help the progesterone be absorbed into the body.  If you go too fast you end up with these lumps of it in your muscle and increased discomfort so they tell you to take a full minute to administer the injection.  I lean over the counter and bury my face in my now trusty blanket and stand pigeon toed.  Standing this way helps me to not tense my muscle which supposedly helps the shot go in easier.  The initial injection part goes smoothly but then I start counting and suddenly I can feel the shot all the way down my left leg.  At first I tell myself that I am overreacting and that there is no possible way I can feel something in my shin that is being administered into my hip.  After what seems like an eternity Brady withdraws the needle and I proceed to freak out.  My entire leg feels weird, the only way I can even try to describe it is that it's this like cringe worthy nails on a chalkboard kind of sensation.  I know the intramuscular shots will make me sore, but I didn't think it would be this immediate.  I lay down and have Brady put a heating pad on the injection site.  I've been told this along with massage of the spot will also help the progesterone disperse into my body better and help with the pain.  So I'm laying there crying while Brady administers the heat and massage and I am asking myself how it is I am going to be able to do this every night.  I have no answer for this.  After a few minutes I grab my laptop and google intramuscular progesterone shots and discover that the pain in my leg is probably due to Brady hitting a nerve while giving the injection.  I didn't even know that was possible?  Brady had given my shot well within the specified target area drawn on by the RN at our last visit to the doc, my HCG shot that I got intramuscularly two days before egg retrieval didn't feel like this and it is this thought alone that gives me hope.  I limp upstairs and as I lay in bed I try to tell myself to buck up.  I can do this the easy way or the hard way, it's all about how I choose to approach it.  We knew this wasn't going to be a bag fun and we are so close. I fall asleep thinking of ways I can make this shot more bearable.

I wake up this morning and feel like an invalid.  Ok maybe I am being a little over dramatic, but seriously, walking down the stairs to make coffee I feel like I've just had hip replacement.  I hurt and I'm cranky.  This is an awesome combination, especially for my darling husband.  I feel bad for him, he has been super strong and a complete trooper through all of this so I try to tread extra lightly in my crazy emotional state.  Walking is hard, and trying to find a comfortable sitting position has become a challenge.  I think all day about the night's shot and I am ashamed to say I didn't do much better tonight.  We tried for the shot in the dining room this evening (it has a nice view of the sunset) and I was all ready and Brady hesitated (I was leaning too low and he was worried about hitting bone) and I yelled "just do it" and then I stood up and started crying again.  I am officially afraid of this shot and Brady is officially miserable.   We move to the kitchen and try again, I am crying and again the needle goes in smooth.  This feels better, not like yesterday.  We count together and a minute later it's over.  I have soreness again but it's not like last night.  This I can handle.  I wipe my tears and Brady preps the heating pad.  Tonight was better, and I am hoping it gets a little easier every day.  I am a little worried about Friday, I am heading out of town with some family and Brady has to work which means my little sister is going to have to give me this shot.  I am hoping it's not as bad by then, I am hoping I won't cry and I hope that she isn't traumatized by having to do this.  Then I remember that she is my little sister, I think of all the times when we were kids and I was mean and teased her and I find myself thinking that I should worry a little less about her and a little more about karma coming back to literally bite me in the butt.

Friday, July 30, 2010

All Our Eggs in One Basket

Pre -Frog and egg retrieval we thought that was just what we were going to have to do.  The slow way my follicles were growing was getting us kind of down on how many eggs we might get and thinking best case scenario would be that we would have maybe only one or two eggs to implant with none to freeze.  We had prepared ourselves for a one shot deal in regards to this whole cycle and were already trying to figure out how to pay for another.  But after Thursday's egg retrieval things are looking up, in fact after this morning's call from the Embryologist I think I might need more baskets.

Tuesday night at exactly 10:15 per the Magic Man's specific instructions, Brady triggered my ovulation with an intramuscular HCG shot.  The reason for this is that the eggs kind of attach themselves to the inside of the ovaries and only release when ready to ovulate, so the docs have to trigger this so they can actually go in and get them, but it's kind of a narrow window.  Too early and they won't be able to grab them, too late and we lose them to my body.  There is a whole part of the power point presentation in class 1 about this and our instructions list our time for the shot with a disclaimer at the bottom stating any deviance from this schedule could jeopardize the success of our procedure. This was our first intramuscular shot and earlier in the day we had gone over it with the RN at the clinic, she even helpfully drew nice round targets on my upper hips with a sharpie so Brady would know exactly where to inject (they are still there two days later I might add).  This shot was similar to the Menapour in that you have to inject a diluent into the vial with the powdered medicine and mix it before injecting it, unlike the Menapour this med didn't dissolve as quickly.   Brady was nervous enough about this shot because of the larger needle, so he was trying to take his time and do it right but then the medicine took longer to dissolve and I am there at 10:12 with my face buried in a blanket leaning against the counter with my jammie pants pulled down to expose the target telling him to hurry up! We were going to be late! We were going to miss the window! We can't deviate from the schedule!!!  Finally with the shot ready (and his annoyance with me at an all time high) he went in at the perfect 90 degree angle and drew back on the plunger (to make sure he didn't hit a vein) and administered the dose.  It didn't hurt as badly as I had anticipated, I was glad for this and we headed to bed where we once again repeated our frog routine and hoped for the best.  Wednesday I am told to lay low and relax, this is normally quite difficult for me, but the fact that we have no injections today helps immensely.

Fast forward to Thursday morning, we head into the clinic bright and early, which is good because due to the anesthesia I cannot eat or drink anything, even water.  We are a little nervous and excited and ready for this part to be done.  The literature states that I will be administered intravenous anesthesia, the good stuff they say so that I won't feel anything when they go in through my vaginal wall to retrieve the eggs.  We have a super cool nurse that assures me that not only will I be allowed to bring the frog with me into the egg retrieval room, but I can hold on to him the whole time.  I think this is pretty rad of her and we get a consensus amongst the nurses and the doctor going in for the eggs that whatever good energy we can get is good.  They wheel me in and take Brady away to "the sample room" and I remember talking about the frog and my blog and then that's it, nothing.  I wake up in recovery and am wickedly groggy.  I hear the doc come in and tell Brady we got eggs, that we actually got 9 eggs.  9 EGGS!  We knew after Tuesday's appointment we had 5 large follicles on the left and 2 on the right, we were thinking of a best case scenario of maybe 7 eggs, with not all of those being mature but 9? We were stoked and I remember thinking, finally something was going our way.  It took about an hour for me to fully wake up from the drugs, I really had to use the bathroom due to the large amounts of fluids the nurses had pumped into me via the IV and I asked if I could get up and hit the little girls room.  I was told no, I could not.  My blood pressure was super low and they were afraid I was going to faint but not to worry because they had a bed pan I could use.  Yeah, no thanks.  I opted to wait a few more minutes while they administered something through the IV to get my heart pumping faster to get the blood pressure up.  I was finally able to sit up and from there, I just wanted to go home.  I was given post-op instructions and Brady packed me up and took me home.  I immediately passed out on the couch and slept for about 3 hours.  I wasn't in any real pain, mostly just tired and groggy but still pretty stoked that we got 9 eggs.  Climbing into bed we praised the frog once again, convinced now more than ever that he is in fact our fertility good luck charm.

This morning I was eagerly awaiting the call from our embryologist to let us know how many of the 9 eggs were mature and had fertilized.  I was hoping for 6 and Brady had said he would be happy with 4.  We were both hoping for enough to make it to day 5 (transfer day) with at least 2 embryos to implant, and a bonus if we had one or two to freeze.  The call came around 9 and I was super nervous, my nervousness turned to elation when I heard that 8 of our 9 eggs had fertilized.  I was going between tears of joy and shouts of woo hoo and I think I probably scared the nice lady on the phone.  8 out of 9, that means that after 5 days (some will not make it past day 3) even if half our eggs don't make it we will still have 4. Two to implant and two to freeze and potentially more (or less but I am trying to think positive).  This means so many things for us.  It means that if our first implantation doesn't take (we know this is a possibility) that instead of starting all over from scratch with a whole new cycle we can hopefully do just the implantation part again with frozen embryos.  You know what that means? NO MORE SHOTS PEOPLE! Well ok, that isn't entirely true, I still have one shot a day and it's a doozie.  The progesterone shots start tomorrow and go all the way through the 10th week of pregnancy (if we are fortunate and the transfer works) and is a large intramuscular shot that takes an entire minute to administer.  I can totally handle this, it hurts allot the next day since it's in the muscle and I'll probably be limping around and whining like a wimp but one shot over three I will take any day.  It also means that my eggs and Brady's sperm like each other, in fact they like each other allot. I hope they fall in love and make a baby.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Superstition and The Frog

So I know I will probably induce the ridicule and skepticism of anyone reading this blog but I am going to let everyone in on a little secret.  My follicles are growing, in fact they are growing well and I give complete credit not to the vials of drugs I am injecting into my body on a daily basis but instead to a small painted ceramic frog and piece of rock. Our appointment last Saturday to check our stimulation progress was a little depressing, the doc on for the weekend (not MY doctor) left a little to be desired in his bedside manner (not to mention wardrobe choices, he wore socks with sandals, how can I trust a man who thinks this is ok?) and we left feeling like my follicles were never going to grow. That night I climbed into bed feeling down and frustrated and there, on my nightstand like a beacon in the night was the frog.

The frog came to us from my dads awesome girlfriend a couple of months ago.  She had recently traveled to Honduras and while there visited the Los Sapos (the frogs) ruins in Copan.  The ruins here have carvings on a small outcropping of rock of a large frog and one depicting a woman with her legs spread as though giving birth.  Studies suggest this area is where ancient copanecan women came to give birth to their offspring.  Apparently it's also a tourist spot because in addition to lovely views of the Copan valley they also have trinkets.  Small ceramic frogs to be more specific.  Knowing (as all our family does) about our stuggles to conceive she picked up one of these little guys in addition to a small stone from the ruin site itself.  I have no idea if this is bad mojo, the whole taking a piece of the ruin thing but it's a pretty small piece so I am going to go ahead and think it's ok.  She presented me with the frog and stone and assured me of it's potent fertility inducing powers and I'm not gonna lie here, I thought it a slightly crazy though tremendously kind gesture.  I put the frog on my nightstand with the stone in the little hole in its belly and kind of forgot about it.  Until Saturday night.  After the depressing doctors visit, I climbed into bed that night, took my litany of prescribed pills and laid down and looked over and saw the frog.  A light bulb went off.  I turned to my darling and very science and fact driven husband with the frog in hand and a come hither look.  I will let it be known that he thinks I am pretty crazy most of the time anyway, so he wasn't entirely shocked at the prospect of some frog time.  I put the frog on my puncture marked belly and looked up at him, I swear people I have the kindest and most tolerant husband ever.  He kind of moved the frog around on my belly and hopped it here and there along with the piece of stone to humor me and then we turned off the lights and went to sleep.  The next night I grabbed the frog after climbing in bed and he sighed and did the little belly hop routine again.  Fast forward to Monday's stimulation check, I was nervous and completely convinced that my little runt follicles hadn't grown and was preparing for the worst kind of news.  Low and behold, they were growing!  In fact, they had grown leaps and bounds and my hormone levels indicated that we might even get a couple more days worth of growth out of them before triggering ovulation.  I immediately called Brady and told him the good news, extolling the virtues of the frog.  Another appointment on Tuesday showed even better growth and we got the go ahead from the magic man to trigger last night for egg retrieval on Thursday.

Now I know there are probably a lot of reasons for my super fantastic follicle growth, the drugs, timing and all that stuff, but part of me really thinks it's the frog.  My ovaries are starting to look like big egg sacks and hopefully, come Thursday, that's the exactly the case.  In the meantime I am trying to figure out how to sneak the frog into the surgery room tomorrow because something tells me the magic man probably won't let him sit bed side, but he is part of the protocol now, bad paint job and all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Late Bloomers

At least that is what I am hoping my follicles are.  I have had two stimulation phase checkups in the last four days and I'm having a hard time staying upbeat.  My first check was Thursday of last week, I am at the point in the game where I am seeing the Magic Man every other day now for ultrasounds and blood draws to check on the status of my follicles and hormone levels.  Surprisingly enough my left ovary, the one that had the cyst, is the one responding best follicle wise.  Clearly it felt bad for the setback and is attempting to overcompensate, I have about four good sized follicles growing on that side.  My right side is my problem child at the moment, while I have an ok number of follicles in this ovary (about 5 or 6) they are not growing very well (around 6-8mm).  On Thursday's apt the magic man thought maybe we would be looking at egg retrieval on Wednesday of this week, but after today's apt it is looking like that probably won't be the case.  My left side follies are doing ok but still too small (around 12-15mm) for retrieval, the lead follicles need to be around 18-22mm for that to happen.  I left the office feeling a little down after this information this morning.  It just seems like we keep hitting these road blocks at every step, I know it doesn't mean the end for this cycle and that we are still hanging in there, but I was hoping for like, big huge follicles and maybe even a gold star on my chart or something. 

We have also reached the point where we have maxed out our insurance for the IVF.  We are incredibly fortunate to have had insurance cover any of the process, most don't and we are extremely thankful to have had the first 10k covered.  I have had to make my first trip to the pharmacy for refills on the meds sans insurance.  Our Follistim shot, which I get every night @ 300 IUs is $520 per vial, we get two shots per vial so that's $260 a shot, and that is only one of the three I get daily.  I am again reminded how lucky we are to even be able to go through this process and try to think of that every time I get sticker shock on a prescription or lab test.  We have some friends who have gone through IVF to have children and they joke that their cars are paid off but their kids aren't.  I have a whole new appreciation for this. 

This week also marked the first time I've broken down in tears because of the shots.  It's getting harder and harder to find spots on my tummy that aren't sore from previous shots and though Brady has now perfected his technique on the big ones I still cringe and close my eyes.  One night this week I was attempting to give myself the Lupron shot (small insulin needle) while Brady prepped the Follistim shot.  I have given myself a few shots, it's not terrible and I thought I kind of had it down, not this time.  My first attempt didn't go in, and my second (on a now duller needle) failed as well and all of a sudden I just lost it.  I know I am on the hormone roller coaster, I know that and yet I was still surprised that I was crying in frustration at my inability to get the damn shot to go in. It was more than just the physical part that got to me, it was the psychosomatic part as well, I was holding the needle and pinching my tummy and I was just thinking of how it was going to feel and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was annoyed at my hesitation and overall lack of resolve.  It's just a shot, a momentary little prick of pain and it's over, I've been repeating this mantra daily for weeks now and all of a sudden it just wasn't cutting it.  Brady had to eventually give me the shot and it hurt quite a bit more than usual, of course it could just be my inner 5 year old thinking that.  Speaking of my inner 5 year old, I've completely reverted to the days when I used to go to the doctor and look forward to the lollipop or treat post shot.  These days it's ice cream bars covered in chocolate and almonds that is my consolation prize.  Every night at 9 I lay down on the couch and cover my face with a blanket and try to hold still for the injections and when Brady is done he gives me a kiss on the forehead and brings me one.  It turns my frown upside down. 

Hopefully Monday's check-up brings some more positive news, in the meantime I'm going to give my ovaries nightly pep talks and maybe even promise them some ice cream when it's all over.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Call Shenanigans

I've been duped.  Our first week of shots during the suppression stage of this process seriously had me thinking this wasn't so bad and that I wasn't going to feel like a human pincushion.  I was wrong.  We started the second round of drugs this week, the stimulation phase after we got the all clear from the post cyst blood tests.  This means instead of just one little shot in the evenings I now have one in the morning and two at night.  During the suppression stage I was taking oral birth control and 10 units of Lupron.  The Lupron is given in the evenings with this little tiny insulin needle, it's so small and easy I've even given them to myself.  I was starting to feel like a pro with this shot and even started to get a little cavalier about the upcoming injections.  My attitude changed drastically with my first Menopur shot Saturday morning.  Brady has to give me these shots because, well that is what we decided at the beginning, he was the one who was paying attention in class on both how to draw and administer all the injections and the Menopour is a little complicated. This shot includes two vials of medicine that needs to be mixed with diluent, because we need things to be more confusing.   Saturday morning arrives and Brady gets the shot ready, I have this thing where I don't like to look when getting shots (or blood draws) so I lay down and expose my tummy and put a pillow over my eyes.  I know, I'm a huge baby, I've accepted this fact and am ok with it.  Brady finds a good spot (this will become harder in the coming days due to injection site sensitivity) and goes in with the "dart like" motion he was trained to use and I kind of come unglued.  This is not a tiny little insulin needle, this is a whole new rodeo.  This is also more than 10 units, so in addition to a much larger needle, the shot takes much longer to administer.  I am tensing up and squeezing Brady's arm and whimpering.  I know this isn't helping Brady at all but I can't help it.  When the shot is done I sit up and look at Brady, he looks as miserable as my now punctured tummy feels.  We both feel relived that it's done and take a deep breath.  I look down and see that I'm bleeding.  This hasn't happened with any other injections thus far and I'm a little freaked out if this is a sign of things to come.  I put a compress on my injection site and have a cup of coffee, which happens to be another point of contention with this whole process (the doc wants me to have no more than one 8 oz cup per day) and try to enjoy the fact that I have 12 hours before my next injections.  I get up and head to the shower where I discover another fun fact about the shots.  In addition to the injections the docs have me taking an oral steroid and baby aspirin.  The aspirin thins the blood and helps with blood flow to the uterus and also makes me bruise like a peach.  Awesome.  Brady's dart skills have left me with a nice little bruised spot just to the left of my belly button.  I look down at my legs and discover that my omnipresent clumsiness has wrecked havoc on my legs and arms, I am covered in bruises and dark spots.  I reach for my lotion with self tanner and hope to camouflage the map of splotches on my body and tell myself that I'm going to have to be more conscientious of my surroundings if I am going to make it through this with people not thinking Brady is beating me.  The evening shot goes a little smoother, the downside to this injection is that it is administered with this wanna be high tech pen like apparatus, the needle is slightly smaller than the Menopur injection but the Follistim pen takes just as long to inject and it actually feels longer because the pen makes this little click click noise as the plunger is depressed, marking in time each unit injected. 

Three days later and the injections are getting a little easier to take, I still get this little frown look when Brady tells me it's shot time.  Shot time used to mean tequila, now it means egg growing drugs and considerably less headaches.  My stomach is a virtual astrological map of puncture marks and bruises and is tender to the touch.  Each morning and night we have to find a spot that isn't too sore for the new injection.  Leaning against counters or carrying grocery bags hurts and I find myself holding my tummy allot, as if to protect it. Tuesday morning I went in to see the Magic Man for my first stimulation check and things are looking great.  I have five nice size follicles in each ovary and my progesterone and estrogen are at great levels.  The doc is pleased, he smiles and shakes my hand and I tell him that I am on to their little game of starting off with the small needles.  He laughs and tells me "just wait, you haven't seen anything yet". He is trying to be funny but I know what lies ahead.  I know about the 21 gauge needles waiting for me at home, the intramuscular shots that take ONE WHOLE MINUTE to inject because the progesterone is in oil, and I decide that maybe these shots aren't so bad after all.   Maybe that was his intention because while he is a great RE a comedian he isn't. 

I also went and saw my acupuncturist on Tuesday, because clearly I haven't had enough needles in my body.  She is freaking awesome and we work out a schedule so that she can see me immediately before egg retrieval and both before and after the implantation.  My days are a filled with apts lately, this whole process is like a full time job.  When I stopped working I was looking forward to not having to commute from Forest Grove into downtown and yet I am still driving into NW every other day for ultrasounds and blood draws, and now into NE for the needle lady, how did I ever think I was going to be able to work full time and do this?  I am reminded that everything happens for a reason and I try to just take each day as it comes and face each shot one at a time.  This is hard for me, I'm always trying to think one day ahead and whats next, so I guess I will be grateful that I can walk away from this whole process with a new found appreciation for living in the now.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Bump In The Road and Needles In Scary Places

So this week we had our suppression check.  This is the appointment where we go in and the magic man does an ultrasound and checks out my ovaries to see if the Lupron and the Birth Control have done their job.  I had this weird feeling all week that something was off.  I happen to be a big believer in intuition (it's never failed me before) and I somehow sensed the appointment wasn't going to go well.  I was really emotional pretty much from the moment I woke up, which was weird but not completely unexpected considering my body is no longer in control of it's own hormone cycles.  I met Brady at the Magic Man's office and he did his best to reassure me.  We headed in to the ultra sound and the doc is telling us what they are looking for, that they want to see how many follicles we have in my ovaries and hopefully no cysts.  Right off the bat I hear the uh-oh before he even says it.  There it is, a large cyst in my left ovary.  This is like my millionth ultrasound in the last month so I've become accustomed to the weird shapes and shadows that make up my body on the ultrasound screen, and there it is.  I start to cry.  The Magic Man tries to sound positive as he measures the cyst and moves on to my right ovary where everything looks as it should.  He sits up and the lights come up and I'm trying to not be completely obvious in my crying.  The doc is trying to not notice my being upset and starts discussing the game plan.  I sit up and do my best to cover myself with the super awesome paper blanket that is provided to cover my previously spelunked female parts and wipe the now mascara laden tears running down my face.  I am aware that I am over reacting.  I know this and yet I cannot seem to get a handle on the crying.  The Magic Man tells us that the cyst was probably caused by the Lupron, and things can go one of two ways.  Best case scenario is that though large, the cyst is emitting relatively low levels of estrogen, that we can therefore go in and eviscerate it and continue skipping down the IVF path.  Worst case scenario is that it's producing lots of estrogen and  will throw a wrench into our IVF plans by removing our ability to control hormone levels and we will have to scratch all the work we've done thus far and wipe our hands of this whole cycle.  That means a month and a half worth of ultrasounds and blood work and shots will be worthless and another month will pass before we can even start thinking of getting on this ride again.  Brady and the Magic Man are talking and discussing options and all I can do is think, really? Seriously, can I please just get one fucking break please!?!?!   Brady and the doc give me a sympathetic look and I'm instructed to get dressed and come out for my blood draw.  I start ranting to Brady as soon as the doctor leaves the room, my poor darling husband is so completely sweet and tolerant of my insane lack of emotional control it makes me cry even more.  I get my blood drawn and the nurse on duty takes pity on me (or doesn't want me to frighten the other patients) and takes me into a back office to "talk" which is code for "please regain your composure before re-entering the waiting room".   She reiterates that we don't ever really have complete control over this process and some times our body just does what it wants.  She briefly goes over what will happen if my estrogen levels are low enough to go in and drain the cyst.  I am not paying attention.  I am trying to not look at her or Brady and desperately trying to stop sobbing and feeling sorry for myself.  I leave the office and head to a friends house.  We are supposed to have lunch and I am feeling like the worst sort of company I could be and she hugs me and assures me it is ok to be upset and frustrated and convinces me that we should go get lunch.  Another friend arrives and we decide when in the dumps, only toasted cheese sandwiches will do and we head over to a big school bus on Alberta that serves only that.  We lunch in the sun and I am feeling better.  I get a call from the docs office and am shocked to hear that I have caught a break.  My cyst is not producing copious amounts of estrogen and can be drained and they will see me the following day.  Great! Wait, what?  How exactly do you drain a cyst inside the ovary?  I call Brady, he is happy that we can move forward and promises to be there to hold my hand.  I am now trying to remember that conversation with the nurse that I wasn't really paying attention to and recall something about local anesthetic.  I think it's probably just a shot or something and enjoy the good news. 

I wake up bright and early and head into the city to get my cyst drained, Brady is there waiting and we head in and see my doc.  I am in a jovial mood and I think this is a relief to the Magic Man.  He mentions that he felt bad for me the day before and I tell him that it's only because the drugs he is prescribing are really tear serum and I won't hold it against him.  Then he tells me all about exactly how he is going to drain the cyst and I almost reconsider that.  I am told that they are going to go into the ovary through the vaginal wall with a needle.  But it's ok because first they are going to take a different needle and inject some Novocaine to numb it first.  "like the dentist" he tells me.  Really?  You're comparing my vagina to my gum line?   Will my vagina drool afterwards like when I get a cavity filled? The good news, he assures me is that the pain will last only a second.  I lay back and Brady comes over and holds my hand.  They flip on the ultrasound machine and the wand goes in, I choose to not look at the needles and though the doc warns me it's coming the pain catches me off guard.  This is the Novocaine shot and we wait about 5 min before he goes back in to drain the cyst.  Brady is watching the screen along with the doc and I am looking at Brady, it weirds me out to see everything happening inside me.  The doc tells me that I need to be very still, and I do my best to go zen and not move, there is a sharp pain and Brady tells me it's in.  Then it's over.  I am relived.  I'm told I took it like a champ, advised to put on one of the circa 1976 maxi pads for spotting and continue on my drug regimen as advised.  I feel better.  I feel like I caught a break and I'm grateful I can continue on this cycle.  It's frustrating to me that there are so many things that can go wrong.  It seems so grossly unfair that anyone going through all of this should face so many potential obstacles.  I am reminded in a way that I shouldn't take any of this for granted, that every day we get to move forward with this process is a gift and I am one of the lucky ones in so many ways.  Some days it's hard to remember that, especially when you have needles in your vajayjay, but I'm going to try.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

First Week

And I made it.  The first week of our IVF drug protocol is over and surpisingly it wasn't that bad.  Brady has been rocking the injections with the magic touch and managed to not pass out even once.  We have now gone to both of our classes and are heading into the docs this week for our "supression" check. It feels like forever ago that I was scared and nervous.  It's also been forever since I thought about all of this producing an actual baby. Since we started this whole process we have been so focused on the ins and outs of the shots and pills and appointments that I kind of lost sight of what it's all for.  We have been distracted by the details.

In our second class (actually the first in the series that we had to take backwards) they discussed the outcome possibilities and the mere mention of the phone call where they potentially tell you that it didn't work made me cry.  I've done two IUI's now and each phone call telling me it didn't work reduced me to a mess of tears and dispair.  I know it's inevitable that I become attached to the possibility of a pregnancy, but it is hard knowing that after all of this that I might still be on the other end of that "I'm sorry" phone call.  Class got me thinking about that alot.  They tell you that after the supression and then the stimulation when they go in you might have 20 follicles to retrieve eggs from.  Out of those 20 follicles you might get 15 eggs, of those 15 maybe 12 will be mature enough to be fertilized.  Of the 12 that you can fertilize maybe 10 will actually fertizile and of those 10 you might get 6 good quality embryos after three days.  From those 6 you may get 4 that make it after 5 days.  That means if you're lucky, out of 20 follicles you will get 4 embryos. 4. Two of which the magic man will implant and the others we would freeze.  Just looking at those numbers kind of depresses me. 

When we first started this whole thing I was so anxious and confused and nervous I didn't really think about the possiblity that it wouldn't work.  I mean all the money and drugs (woah that sounds bad) and the fact that an actual fertilized embryo is being implanted into my uterus and it still might not work?  It's a pretty devastating thought.  I don't want to really think about what I will do if it doesn't work.  I don't know how I will function if I get that phone call.  I've been thinking I will have the docs office call Brady, because I've convinced my self that I can tell the answer from the tone of the nurses voice when I answer the call.  I'm in a little bit of a weird place right now with all of this and I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the fact that I am pumped full of so many syntetic hormones that I cry when the grocery store is out of my favorite salad drressing, but I'm trying to think good thoughts because if I don't have that, I might as well give up now.  I have to remember that we are good people, that we will be great parents and that this is going to happen for us. I know it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An Education

Thank god for required classes!  I will be the first to admit I thought the notion of "IVF Class" was both ridiculous and boring and I am happy to report that I was completely wrong.  Our program requires two classes, IVF 1 & 2.  Each class is available only once a month, and due to some scheduling issues we are taking our classes backwards.  IVF Class 2 was the Injection Class, and as it turned out, it couldn't have come at a better time.

The first and most important thing we learned in class is that WE DON'T HAVE TO USE THE 18 GAUGE NEEDLES!  I typed that all in caps because the moment I found that out I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  When we got our meds the 18 gauge came included with the intramuscular shots and they were pretty much terrifying to both Brady and I.  We have done two subcontaneous (in the belly) shots before but those use little tiny insulin needles, the big needles were seriously frightening.  In class we learned those are for drawing the injection only, then we switch to a 21 gauge for the actual intramuscular shot itself.  I was so relieved I almost cried.

The second thing we learned in class was really more of a dissapointment.  We were kind of excited at the prospect of meeting people like us!  That is people going through IVF, and maybe even make some friends that we could go through the process with.  Unfortunately that wasn't the case.  Most of the couples were older and very serious.  I know that it's a class and that the subject matter is a little intense, but seriously, I think we were the only ones who smiled or laughed at all.  I know it's a hard process, I am going through it too, but if I can't laugh about it sometimes I think I'll go crazy and these people? They were not the laughing kind.  Hopefully we will meet some more lighthearted folks in the next class.

We also learned that we are starting to get a grip on this stuff, that it isn't as scary as we thought and that we are actually going to rock this shit.  I'm no genius but I think that means we get an A+ for our first class.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


So technically our ride on the IVF roller coaster began weeks ago, with the onset of the testing to move forward, but after this weeks trip to the pharmacy it actually feels real.  We knew it was coming, we had read the information and power point presentations and heard the stories from friends and even family members who have gone through IVF, but nothing really prepared me for the drugs.

I will start by saying that I am already taking birth control, I know right? Birth control to get pregnant?  The pharmacist that handed them over to Brady was confused too (normal pharmacy).  I am in the initial drug phase of the process, this is the supression stage.  The idea here is to stop my body from functioning in it's normal hormonal capacity so that the Magic Man and his assistants can call the shots from here on out.  But so far this is the only drug I've had to take for this process.

So the docs originally fax my drug order to some mail order pharmacy, I have no idea why this is the norm for this kind of stuff.  There is one local pharmacy whose niche is fertility drugs, thankfully it is both close to my office and my the Magic Man's office.  I call ahead to make sure my order is ready and I head up on my lunch break to pick up the goods.  Now I've seen the drug order, I've familiarized myself with where they fit on my IVF calendar so I know there are several.  I know there are needles and pills, vials and swabs but nothing prepares me for the moment when the pharmacist steps forth with a SHOPPING BAG full of stuff. 

 I stare in disbelief and try to catch my breath and make sense of what the pharmacist is telling me.  There are inections with two parts, injections that need to be refriderated and there are even injections that have a special 007 type pen with it's own carrying case. There are so many boxes and colors and labels spread out before me its insane.  For some reason what I focus on are the needles, oh my god the needles.  I am not actually scared of needles, quite the contrary, I have given blood and am friendly with my phlebotomist but the sheer volume of them has me starting to breathe funny.  It cannot be possible that I will need this many needles, clearly this is wasteful and meant as an intimidation tactic. The pharmacist senses my complete loss of rational thought.  She stops for a second, she asks if I am ok, clearly this isn't her first rodeo. We start again and I try to take mental notes.  It's impossible to keep it all straight without lists, I tell myself as soon as I get home with my stash of drugs I am making lists. I will pile them on the coffee table and organize them and it will all make sense.  I leave the pharmacy feeling dazed and head back to the office where I start looking through the littany of info sheets full of reactions and side affects, I decide maybe I don't want to know all this stuff  after all, I will leave this for Brady to read.

Brady is an engineer, he likes to understand things, he likes to examine and read and make sense of things that I grow frustrated with in a moments time.  He is big and strong and he also doesn't like needles.  I arrive home and he is waiting to examine my cache of drugs.  I empty the bag out and he is blown away.  He cannot beleive the variety and ammount of stuff.  He starts sorting through things, we match up what we have with what is on the order and pull out our calendar to see what drugs we inject when.  We come across the 18 gauge needles.  Brady has to sit down.  He is breathing fast and looking pale.  The needles we have used thus far have not been this big.  Brady is wondering if he can in fact, give me these injections.  The big needles are for the intramuscular shots that I cannot give myself.  I am wondering in my head who both loves me and gets annoyed with me enough to be willing to give me this massive shot every day if Brady cannot.  Brady assures me that he can do it.  I am thinking of how I can make it easier for him and then I remember, it's me getting the shot. 

Thankfully we have a week before we start the shots, and before we do we have our first class, we are hoping we will learn that we can do this.  We are hoping that it isn't really as intimidating as we think and that it is actually easier than it looks, because right now all we see is a big pile of scary.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Who Me? Blog?

Ok so I'll be honest, I never saw myself as someone to have a blog, I enjoy reading the intimate life details of others but consider myself a somewhat private person. Around those I love and whom I am lucky enough to have love me, I am not known for being private (something quite opposite), but to the general population I try to keep as much of my life my own as possible.

That being said, a woman I both admire and respect sugessted a blog as a way to document, vent, and reflect on the new journey that Brady and I begin today, our venture into IVF. For those of you not versed in medical terms that stands for In Vitro Fertilization. I'm not gonna lie, this blog will more than likely push the boundaries of TMI, because let's face it, the details of reproduction, In Vitro or otherwise generally will be.

We started our foray into the wonderful world of medical reproduction almost two years ago. The short version goes something like this:
We get married (yay) we decide after a year to try to have a baby (easy right?) after 6 months we see my regular OBGYN (we'll call her McAwesome) she runs a littany of super fun tests (catheters and blood tests are fun right?). The tests come back normal so she thinks we might just need a little help (pharmacutical help that is), three months of crazy pills and a trip to Maui later and we are prego (again yay!). We are thrilled, assume nothing can go wrong and proceede with life filled with glee and joy. At 8 weeks we see and hear the heartbeat of baby Herder, we are now more than cautiously optimistic, we believe we are out of the woods and are elated beyond words, we post ultasound pictures on the fridge. We clear out a room for the baby, we accept gifts from excited soon to be grandmas and buy books to prepare us for the joys of parenthood. Around week 10 I begin to spot slightly, McAwesome assures us this is normal, I am advised to rest up, lay low and do nothing strenuous (day at home on the couch yo) things clear up and we brush it off, we schedule early fetal testing and start considering baby names. At 11 weeks and 4 days, just three shy of the magical "safe" second trimester phase I begin spotting again, this time more seriously. I call McAwesome, she is concerned and we schedule an apt for the following day for an ultrasound to check on the baby. Brady is a rock, he is strong and kind and attempts to assuage my debilitating fear that something is wrong. I don't know what to do, so I cry (and I am so not a crier) I lay in bed and watch law and order with my feet up, and I even pray. The next morning (and throughout the night) the spotting has gotten worse, we go see the ultrasound tech and hear the wost news of my thus far sheltered and relatively blissful life, "I'm so sorry". We stare at the ultrasound screen in disbelief. There was a heartbeat there a mere three weeks ago (165 bpm no less). McAwesome comes in and lives up to her name. We are told that growth has stopped somewhere around 10 weeks and given our options. We schedule surgery for the next morning, we go home with prescription painkillers in hand, because now my uterus is contracting in an effort to rid my body of the baby. I go home, I take the pills more for the emotional pain than the physical, I crawl in bed and cry uncontrollably. I speak with my mother and then my sister and ask her to spare me the agony of telling loved ones. Brady is sweet and sad, making sure I have my medications and attempts to fill his time with distractions. The following morning we report to the hospital, the nurses are nice, the pain is growing increasingly strong, they give me drugs, I am nauseaus, I am cold, I am ready for this part to be over. McAwesome meets me in surgery and I see Brady again in Post-Op. He looks sad, and I feel groggy. We clean me up and head home. My amazing mom and wonderful sister arrive an hour later bearing Vodka (for brady) Champange (for us girls) and chocolate covered strawberries. We are not celebrating, we are trying to keep my mind off my now empty womb. They lay on the bed with me and we watch Almost Famous. Brady and his father are downstairs, drinking marinis and watching golf. We order pizza, we ladies lay on my bed and eat pizza and strawberries and drink champange and cry. Eventually everyone leaves and I am again reminded of what has transpired and I begin receiving Happy Birthday texts on my phone, tomorrow is my 33rd Birthday.

I see McAwesome again in two weeks, my levels have returned to normal and I am relived. We are advised to wait two months before we begin trying again and it is agony. Month three arrives are we are excited, we start back on the crazy pills and schedule our sex life. A month goes by with no success, the start of my cycle is like a knife to the chest, but we don't lose hope. The following month we up the dosage on the crazy pills (brady is tolerant beyond belief and I chop my hair off) and again, no success. McAwesome sugessts that perhaps it's time to take the next step. We make an appointment at Oregon Reproductive Medicine, the inital consultation is $350, paid up front and there is a severe cancelation fee. We are nervous and excited, as though the consultation alone will get us pregnant. We go in for our apt, they take some blood and my vitals, my pulse is over 90, Brady thinks this is unusual, it is, I am nervous. We meet our doc, he is nice. I am not sure what I expected, he draws alot when talking, making notes that we can't read and sketches lopsided graphs. Basically he tells us that women in their 30's, while not old, are not in prime childbearing years (so much for waiting until I was ready), we discuss a plan of attack, we acknowlege the insane costs, we decide three rounds of IUI with IVF testing in the third round. I leave the apt with a sense of purpose and dread, I cry on my way home, I am attempting to accept that this is what it is going to take for us to have a child.

Our first cycle of IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) requires a basline ultrasound (guys skip the next line) for you ladies, that means an intravaginal ultrasound on day one of my period. This is not fun. They look at my ovaries and check on the status of any follicles, I start the crazy pills on day three of my cycle. I see the Magic Man (thats what I call him now) again for a mid cycle ultrasound to check the status of my follicles, unfortunately I have over-responded to the drugs. If we move forward with IUI this cycle I could potentially have 7 babies, the magic mans states that it would be "medically irresponsible of us" to proceede this cycle. I cry in his office, he seems suprised by this (really doc?). The next cycle starts another round, more ultrasounds and this time things look good, Brady has to go to the office on Insemination day 2 hours ahead of me. He is shown a sterile room with the sports illustrated swimsuit issue and an outdated playboy and handed a cup, you can use your imagination (he had to) for the rest. We go in for insemination, the nurse brings in Brady's sample (25 million little swimmers) and the doc goes in with his catheter while the nurse lights the way with the ultrasound wand on my stomach. They place Brady's sperm up near the entrance to the fallopian tubes, hoping that they will make it the rest of the way on their own. It takes a while (damn tilted cervix) and is mildly uncomfortable. We wait 10 min post procedure in the office then I go home and lay low (another day on the couch yo). 11 days later I go in for a beta blood test (basically an early and expensive prenancy test) I go back to my office and wait anxiously. 25 million sperm and I only needed one! It had to work! I get the call, the nurse is nice but I can tell right away the news isn't what I hoped for, I can't speak, I squeak into the phone and she interprets, this is clearly not her first time at this. Friends at the office in the know see me, they can tell by the look on my face, I escape to the ladies room where I rant and dry my eyes with rough paper towels. A kind co-worker takes pity and covers me for the day, I head home to a bottle of whiskey and some Bob Dylan. Cycle two starts the same, and unfortunately ends the same, although this time I am more prepared. I am functioning on the assumption that the IUI will not take, we move forward with IVF testing. We sign documents saying we understand the next step, we sign up for classes (hopefully no homework?) and get the rundown on all the drugs (no wonder the pharmacutical companies are rich) and we wait. Today at 1:37 I got the call that our second IUI has been unsuccessful. I pull out the IVF folder, I try to make sense of the calendar of appointments and drugs and I get dizzy. I sit down and pour a glass of wine. I am glad there is a plan B, but right now I am confused and frustrated and a little scared. We know we want this, we know we are meant for this, we aren't sure why it's this hard (or expensive) but we know that it will happen, one way or the other. We are ready for round two.