Pineapples or French Fries?

I apparently take way too much time to gather my thoughts and words. I should have updated a while back but instead, I just got to it.. bare with me..

Chicago was amazing! We had a great time exploring the city. We went to a Cubs game and a White Sox game, hung out at a Blues Club, ate lots of deep dish pizza (I preferred Pizzeria Due!), and enjoyed some of the best bloody Marys I’ve ever had! We went on an amazing architecture tour that showed the city in such a spectacular way, I could have sat on that boat all night long and stared.

dsc00719.jpg

The morning after we got back home, real life resumed. I was up bright and early on the 7th to head into the monitoring office for bloodwork and a sonogram. I was ready to begin one tablet of Estradiol twice daily. The following Monday, I was back for more poking and prodding. This time, the nurse told me to up my Estradiol to 2 tablets three times a day.  Shortly after that, my bloodwork and sonogram showed that I was ready.

“Get a pen and paper ready,” that seems to be code for something good is happening soon. All of a sudden I am to be on Medrol, Esradiol, Crinone, and Progesterone tablets. 10 pills daily to get myself ready to go, never mind the prenatal vitamins that I am supposed to be on. I am terrible at daily pills so I have to really focus and get on taking the vitamins. 

IVF folktales have all different things you should be doing before and after the transfer. The biggest one I have heard is to eat pineapple, another is to eat french fries. Which one is it? Do you take a bite of each? Is there science behind either? Help!! I also have decided that pineapples have been stalking me. I went to Target and everywhere I looked there was something pineapple! I ultimately left with a pineapple welcome mat which was on clearance for like $10. 

Room temperature drinks, warm foods, socks at all times, nothing scented, eat Brazil nuts, no lifting.. So many things!! I have also utilized the power of crystal bracelets to hopefully help me stay calm. Amazonite helps dispel fears and anxiety and encourages confidence. Rose quartz and moonstone and both known for their aid in fertility and conception. Multi colored jade is to guard me from negativity and to help my heart heal and accept. This is such a shortened list of what these crystals do but they give me the feeling of control and grounding. 

I should mention I go in for my transfer TOMORROW! Bring on the positivity

B

Finding time

I decided to start writing here to get things off my chest and to make sense of my thoughts. What I didn’t realize was that organizing those thoughts and finding the time we’re a lot harder than I had expected. After the weeks of injections, the many ultrasounds, the tubes of blood that they took I’m finally done with that part. At my retrieval I found out that I had 20 eggs. Of those, 18 fertilized successfully and after the initial five days, I still had 18 embryos to test. 

It was a Tuesday morning and I was at work when I received a phone call from the testing lab wanting the remaining balance. In my head I knew that I had owed them $1,000, not terrible, all things considered. When the girl told me that according to her records I owed $2,500 I almost died! Let me say that I’m one of the fortunate ones and my insurance picks up most of the cost of the IVF procedure however what I do owe out of pocket is still a lot. My parents have been helping us finance what the insurance doesn’t pick up and knowing that there was a $1,500 difference in the balance did not sit well with me so early in the morning. I tried getting in touch with my parents… my mom, my dad, house phone, cell phone, work phone… Nobody picked up.

 My anxiety was going through the roof because I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t make a decision without speaking to someone. When I told the woman on the other end of the phone that I didn’t have 1500 extra dollars and that I had only allotted for the initial thousand she basically told me that until the balance is paid they cannot move forward and that my embryos could not be tested. I was trying to understand why the jumping numbers, why the difference in the total but she wasn’t understanding my questions (insert frustration).

I finally got a phone call from the financial woman at my doctor’s office who easily explained the process and explain to me where all of my money was going.  She helped me understand where the miscommunication occurred and what was actually  supposed to happen.  At some point I’ve got in touch with my mother and discussed my options. We decided that we couldn’t choose which embryos to test and even with the unexpected increase in cost, we are better off testing them all. 

After the headache and the crying and the horrendous anxiety everything is said and done. I’m paid in full and a couple of days later I received a phone call from my doctor. He was thrilled to share with me that I have 12 healthy, high quality, both male and female embryos. That is 12 genetically desirable embryos! I could not be happier! 

We are going to Chicago in a few weeks and decided to postpone the transfer until after we get back. We didn’t want to risk flying or really limiting our trip in any way.  We both know that at some point, things will change and we look forward to that but right now,  we are going to take advantage of the fact that for this moment, things are still the same. I am going to drink,  explore, eat, and enjoy my time. The morning we get back,  I have my ultrasound and bloodwork appointment already made.  First thing in the morning I will begin the 2 week cycle to prep for transfer day!! Cannot wait!! 

Till later.. hopefully with a more exciting update, 

B

Retrieval Day

Friday August 4th my husband gets home from work a little after 6 just as I am getting out of the shower. We sit and talk trying to kill time before we have to leave for the office. We have to be at our appointment at 8. It is rainy out and I am anticipating excess traffic. I put on my most comfortable New Jersey Devils sweat pants , an over sized tank top, my super cute retrieval day socks, and my Motorhead hoodie and was ready to go.

socks

We got there in no time at all, apparently no one went to work that day and there were no cars on the road. We stopped at a deli for him to get breakfast,  I sat and read Game of Thrones while he ate. When he was done we went inside to start filling out the paperwork that accompanies any procedure. I was given an orange bracelet with the wrong name on it twice, finally after cutting it off of me they printed me a brand new one with all of the correct information. I sat and waited until my nurse called us in.

I went into a room with 3 lockers, 2 chairs, and a bathroom and was told to change out of my clothes into the gown provided. Along with the gown came a paper shower cap, and paper booties.

2017-08-07-13-24-53

After getting undressed and putting on my paper outfit I decided to explore this wing of the office. There were 2 doors labeled Transfer across from the changing room and down the left there was the recovery area. The nurse saw me exploring and joined me. She explained what each area was and further explained what was about to happen. I adore this nurse, she did my initial nurse visit and I have since then looked at her as a source of comfort.

A few minutes later, my doctor came into the hallway where we were all standing and started talking. He told me that my cycle was “interesting” because I had such a slow reaction to the medication. My body did not want to cooperate but once it did, it did so with a vengeance. After a worrisome beginning I had TWENTY eggs to be extracted. I was thrilled at the news. He explained what would happen after the retrieval was complete and once my husband and I had no more questions he excused himself and I was taken into the procedure room.

I was lead to the table by my nurse and instructed up. I put my legs into thigh supports and the nurse strapped me down. The anesthesiologist walked in and introduced himself. I am sad to say I don’t actually remember his name but I will say he was so kind. He joked with me and made me feel so at ease. He put the IV in my hand and started my drip. At this time, my doctor came in and we talked while he set himself up. A few moments later and I was asked if I was ready for my nap. I said yes and the white stuff got injected into my IV. A few moments after that, I was out for the count.

blurry awakenings

I woke up in recovery as my husband walked in the room. I was so thirsty! I was also in a lot more pain than I expected to be in and the nurse quickly injected me with something that was supposed to help in a minute. It did’t! She injected me once more and I felt almost instantly better. After an update from my doctor I was allowed to get dressed and head home.

The instructions were to take it easy and rest all day. No cooking, no cleaning, no walking around. I did just that, I laid on my couch and rested all day. There was a lot of pain as the day went on but I guess that is to be expected considering they did a lot in there.

The next day was back to work. For the first time in a week or so, I didn’t feel my ovaries. I wasn’t uncomfortable or achy. In the car on the ride in I got a phone call from the embryologist to update me on my embryos. (why do they call them embryos when they are only zygotes at this point?). He tells me that out of my 20 eggs, eighteen of them fertilized and are growing. WOW! I was floored. I went about my day with a glow apparently. Multiple people stopped me to tell me that I looked so happy or that I was glowing. I’ll take it!

Two days later I got the second of 3 updates. I am aware that sometimes embryos don’t make it. I am aware that you can lose sometimes most of them before they are matured. This phone call was from my nurse, she informed me that as of right now, I still have 18 zygotes growing. Thrilled was an understatement. 

Two days after that,  five days after my procedure, I got my final call. “Izabella, this is so and so from the doctor’s office. How are you?” Great thanks,  how are you?  “We have a dilemma over here” … Dilemma?  Dilemma?  All 18 of my embryos had matured enough to be biopsied for the PGD! He had to call me to get my approval on what I wanted to do. We had already paid for a portion of the testing and now there were 10 others that were not yet paid for. He told me that most people have 8 that mature,  10 if they are lucky. He wasn’t sure how to advise me in this because he had never encountered this situation in his career. (I like to trend set haha) We opted to test all 18. Too many “what ifs” went thru my mind. 

We have always only wanted ONE baby. The idea that we have 18 embryos is one that I’m still wrapping my brain around. If the genetic testing comes back and we have a lot of viable and genetically desirable embryos not only can I have my own little one but the families I can help with donation! That’s the first thing that ran thru my head, I can give someone (or a few someone’s) an incredible gift. Fingers crossed. For now, I pray that all 18 are healthy little embryos. I pray that I have one super healthy little baby. And then I pray that I can help others. 

Until then, we wait. 

B

I just got used to it..

I just got my thoughts in order about the fact that I have to give myself injections and have reached acceptance. Of course as soon as that happened, I get the phone call that I am ready to trigger.

Wednesday August 2nd.. I got to my usual monitoring office a bit earlier than my appointment because I was up and out of the house before I planned. I walk in to a room full of waiting women, not usually the case no matter what time I go. Behind the desk, there was commotion with the girls who work there. One was running towards the room where my blood gets drawn almost daily with a can of soda and the other girl was on the phone with the main office. I overheard that they thought that the phlebotomist had a stroke and were rushing her to the emergency room. We all had the choice to come back tomorrow or to get to the main office, which is normally 30 minutes away, in about 20 minutes. Obviously I chose the only logical option and got in my car.

I made it to the main office in 17 minutes. You read that right, seventeen! I got my ultrasound by a tech I didn’t know, somewhat awkward. She kept apologizing for taking so long but kept stressing that it was because there was a lot going on. I laid there and waited for it to be over. I then went and had my blood drawn by someone who was rougher than usual (I really missed my phlebotomist at that moment). The office staff wished me well and off I went.

This day and the day before I began feeling extremely bloated. Unsure of exactly what was going on in my ovaries, I knew it was something. I noticed that my walk had changed because of my discomfort level. I couldn’t wait for the results to come in.

Hours later, I got the phone call saying that I am ready to trigger. At 9:15pm I begin mixing my doses; 40 units of Leuprolide Acetate for the belly followed by 1ml of Chorionic Goadotropin in the thigh. At 9:25 I began icing my thigh one last time. I was told that this had to be administered at 9:30pm with no more than a 5 minute delay. So I injected my belly and then my thigh and I sat and breathed relief that those were my last shots for the time being, and hopefully forever.

trigger

Thursday was the start of my Z-Pack.

Friday was the day.

-B

here I go…

I have officially started my IVF process.

Let me begin by telling you how afraid I am of injections. I am tattooed, I have had multiple body parts pierced, I can give blood like a champ. It isn’t the needle itself that frightens me but the sensation of something seeping into my body. I often liken it to any scene you may have watched in a super hero movie where the green stuff flows thru the bad guys veins and makes him evil. Maybe that wasn’t an actual scene from an actual movie but its how it plays out in my head. The way some people feel about clowns or spiders is how I feel about injections. The end.

With that being said, I started my injections on July 21st. 225CCs of Gonal-F and 1ml and 1 vial of Menopur. My husband works nights and he often goes in early or stays late. I needed predictability and punctuality so I decided my mother would be the one to administer the injections. The day finally came where I was told I could start. I went up to my parents’ apartment (we live in the same building so it doesn’t get more convenient). I looked in the box of medication sent to me from the fertility pharmacy out of state (who knew such a place existed?!) and instantly panicked. I couldn’t remember what went with what, how to mix things, or which syringes to use. My good friend, a nurse of 15 years came up to my parents’ house to refresh my memory on how to mix and to show my mom what to do. Within minutes she eased my mind and injected me. Day 1 complete!

menopur

My friend was around for day 2 as well and while I mixed the stuff, she injected.

Days 3 and 4 my mom attempted it and while she is so good at so many things, injecting medicine into my behind is not one of those things! I was trying to adjust to the idea of having to go thru what I would imagine being stabbed at the Bates Motel felt like daily. I was almost at peace with the fact that this would be painful. I assumed it was as bad as it could get. Then I got the phone call from my doctor’s office.

We had to significantly increase my dose because my body was not responding. Not only was I going up to 450CCs of Gonal-F and 1ml to 2vials of Menopur but these injections would now be going in my thigh (WHAT?!). I filled up the syringe with the new mixture and went down to see my nurse friend. Crying and full of fear that what I assumed was the worst case scenario just got worse! If my butt shots, as I lovingly called them, were bad then how bad would these be?! I cried as I walked into her house and I cried as I sat telling her the new dose and location. As I cried and tried to explain my concerns to her, she quickly and painlessly injected me with my 5th shot. Magic hands. My friend has magic hands.

I decided I needed to learn to do this myself so on days 6 and 7 my friend and I had a lesson on how to self administer the medicine. After icing my leg with a bag of frozen cauliflower, I did it. Not as quick and painless as when she did it but I injected myself with my cocktail of Gonal-F and Menopur.

injections

Day 8 was the day the training wheels came off. I had an ultrasound and bloodwork that day and the phone call that came after said that once again we were upping my dose. Now I was up to 575CCs of Gonal-F and the 2 vials for Menopur. My friend brought me different intramuscular needles to attach to the syringe. slightly shorter and way less intimidating. I was nervous this day because it was by far the most liquid to be injected yet and I was on my own. And once again, I did it! After that day, I began morning Cetrotide injections in the abdomen. After the week I had, those were a welcome change. 

sleepy eyes

This whole process so far has pushed me to my emotional breaking point and past my physical limitations. My week of needles has been a learning experience. I am fortunate for my mom and dad who were present for almost every injection, for my nurse friend who was able to calm me and teach me, and my husband who I would ultimately take my anger and frustrations out on. It sucks, SUCKS, to have to do daily injections but it can’t be fun being on the other side of the emotions that are caused by all of these hormones. He handles it like a champ.

More on that another time

-B

One Year

I have always said that my purpose in this life is to be a mom, to raise a  polite, kind, loving, happy, and genuine contributing member of society. I wonder if I should have specified that I planned on birthing that member of society since it is becoming more and more clear to me that being a mom comes in so many forms. I should have tried to manifest that my purpose was to birth and raise a polite, kind, loving, happy, and genuine contributing member of society. Who knew?!

We have been married for 16 months (no, I didn’t know that off hand, I did the math for the sake of this entry). We had a perfect engagement, catered to our relationship and personality unlike anything I could have imagined. I adored planning the wedding, things came so naturally. It seemed that as soon as I made one decision the next thing just fell into place. I found my dress within minutes, the hall was a given, my cake was simple, the music was a favor called in, the photographers were chosen before I had a fiance. Easy. We had been living together so even that was simple, we upgraded to a bigger place so that we could expand our family one day. Registering was fun because while I had everything I needed, it was nice to upgrade! Yet another “easy” thing. My wedding date was great, we had the perfect weather, an amazing turn out, happy guests. With the exception of some family drama at the end, it was amazing. I will forever look back at my day and think great things. Things were awesome. Things are awesome. But then there’s this thing.

He doesn’t care if our life never changes. He did not grow up with dreams of raising a little human, of creating life. He is content with life consisting of the two of us. He likes the freedom we have, the ability to come and go as we please, to book a last second getaway. He likes knowing that we don’t have to live on a schedule. We have two cats; even our pets are suited for this lifestyle. He also knows that it is a nonnegotiable issue to me. He knows that this is something I cannot live life without. I am thankful for him.

We set a date, I went to the doctor and got a check up, I wanted to make sure things were all in working order on my end. I needed to know that I was doing everything I knew how to do to be successful. I did the math and counted days, I took tests to determine the best times, I made it my job to know when I was ready.

I stopped smoking cold turkey. I switched to decaf coffee. I wouldn’t so much as take an Advil unless I desperately needed it. I stopped drinking alcohol. I started taking vitamins. All of the good for me things I never did, I did. I did anything I knew how to do. 

It is a year today since we started. We have been seeing a specialist for half that time. In the past year, I have cried more times than I can count. In the past 6 months, I have gone thru more testing and imaging than I ever knew possible. We have had multiple rounds of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). We have been unsuccessful in all of them. The days of Clomid each round were miserable, of course I got stuck with the side effects. I had bouts of anger, hot flashes, and cried for five straight days. After the Clomid came the package.

The package came in such a huge box. In the box was a silver colored foil pouch filled with ice packs, a red sharps container, air filled bags to protect the little blue bag, and the blue bag. The blue bag has a box inside and in that box is the injection, preloaded and ready to go. Such a small syringe. I kept that blue bag in my refrigerator and saw it daily waiting for my  blood work and ultrasounds to declare that it was time. Every ultrasound had a level of anticipation, are my follicles ready? Did they grow enough? Then came the phone call, “The doctor wants you to go for another ultrasound in two days” or “You are ready to trigger.”

I am not good with shots and having to give myself the trigger injections seemed impossible but like everything else in life, where there’s a will there’s a way. Thirty six hours later we would go for the procedure. One week later, blood work to determine that my progesterone and estrogen were lower than ideal and then a week after that the blood work to determine pregnancy. Each “I’m sorry, you are not pregnant this month” killed. I want this so badly, how is it so hard? We are doing everything I can think of, they are picking out the best of his swimmers to give them the best chance, they are timing my cycle to know exactly when I am ready to drop the egg. How is it still not happening?

Multiple cycles like this one, emotional and fruitless and I decided that it was time to move on. We decided to start the process of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). I did the tests to make sure that I am a good candidate for it and to confirm that my uterus is fully functional. So far it is. I am on birth control now, ironic, no? More hormones to add to my already hormone filled body. Then we wait. I did the nurse visit. The list of medications was unreal! I have to inject them all!? What?! He couldn’t make it to this appointment with me so I sat through it alone. My head started spinning at one point when I realized just how involved this is. There are so many ways to mess up. That is what I am seeing as the nurse is showing me all of the ways to mix my injections. Thankfully I have my mom, she has given injections in the past and will be in charge of that now. She at least takes that worry away from me. The alternative is a self administered intramuscular injections in the thigh. I am glad she is willing to help.

I get 40 pages of risks and  potential complications all of which I have to initial. I have to sign off that I understand the procedure. He has to sign off too so we head to a notary so that the office knows it was he that signed off, I guess people forge these things? 

I got another package. This time it’s a huge box with all sorts of injectables, pills, gels, vials, swabs and whatever else.  I sorted thru it and refrigerated the boxes that called for it, putting away the other ones. It’s staying at my parents house. Why bring it back and forth? 

It is a year since we started. A year since we decided we wanted to bring a life into this world. It is six months since we learned that it would be a challenge. I have leaned that I am surrounded with the most amazing people in all of this. My family and my friends are the greatest safety net. My husband is my rock. He has been so supportive and calming. I know I will get thru this but it’s so hard when you can’t see the finish line. 

It’s been exactly a year. What will the next one bring?

-B

To Begin

I guess I have to start somewhere and this seems like a good a place as any.

  • I am not that exciting or funny.
  • I have not had any kind of horrifically traumatic event happen to me in life.
  • I do not have a thrilling life filled with adventure.
  • I am just in between.

I am 31 years old and doing my best at this thing called life. I have an awesome husband, incredible parents, a loving mother in law, irreplaceable friends, and a job I enjoy. But there’s always something to deal with, some sort of stuff.

I decided that writing may help me cope with my own stuff just as it has my whole life. What I decided to change about it was to make my writing visible. Maybe, just maybe if someone else reads this, it can help them cope with their stuff as well.

I have struggled with weight, I have struggled with love, I have struggled with money. None of those things could have prepared me for my current struggle, one that I never would have anticipated happening to me, I guess we never think things will happen to us until they do. So as I try and deal with the rug pulled out from under me with this one thing, I try and make the best of things. I cook, I spend time with my parents, I see my friends, I craft, I paint, I take pictures, I try and take small trips with my husband, I enjoy my coffee, my margaritas, and binge watching shows. I try and enjoy life because I am never quite sure when things will change. I want the change, it is most definitely welcomed, but that doesn’t mean that I am not worried about making changes to my life. So as I have stated, I am in between.

Maybe someone will join me as I navigate my thoughts, but they probably won’t. Either way, here goes nothing… an  unfiltered look into me as I try to make the most of my seemingly unexciting, simple yet somehow content life.

Lets see what happens,

-B