The Dreaded Psych Appointment…

After 9 months of fertility and medical testing, then 8 months of active fertility treatments, and an empty wallet & uterus, I was at my breaking point.  It was clearly demonstrated by my constant sobbing for over a week without even knowing if the latest transfer worked.  Our RE essentially told us that we (me!) had to go see the in-house psych doc before starting us on another cycle.

After finding out the bad news yesterday that our FET didn’t work, I was actually feeling a lot better.  Not knowing if it was going to be bad news yet again was the worst part.  Dan and I got ready to head into see the doc.  I really just wanted to wear pjs and not shower… but assuming he would be reading into every aspect of the visit, I dragged by butt up and into the shower.  Trust me… this was an accomplishment.

At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with depression, which was later diagnosed as chronic depression.  This meant that I stay on anti-depressants all the time, forever.  Up until now, I had never had any issues- my mood was great, my appetite better than good, I loved taking part in activities and keeping up with friends.

In the last couple months, I had slowly been transformed back into the me that I didn’t want to remember.  The me where I would much rather curl up in bed and never leave.  The me where some small miniscule thing not going perfect was enough to derail me completely.  Let me paint a picture of how my thought process worked.  I use the simplest of simple of examples: Stubbing my toe.  Now stubbing my toe on a normal, non-fertility time in my life would simply hurt.  Now, there might be a chance of a foot hop with a not so proper swear word, but that would be it.

Stubbing my toe while depressed: Stubbing my toe would turn into me being pissed because I ruined my pedicure… which would make me so upset because the money we were spending on fertility meant that I couldn’t actually get a pedicure… which would make me devastated because I would start counting the money we have spent and focus on the absolutely nothing we had to show for it but bad memories and wasted time… which would devastate me because I would think about all of the physical and mental pain going through fertility cycles… which would push me over the edge because I’m not pregnant and would need to do another cycle to try again…. which was hopeless because with these cycles even the simplest things didn’t go as planned…. oh not going to plan, that pretty much sums up everything that is going on with my life.  Cue me sobbing uncontrollably and staying in bed inconsolable for hours on end…. especially when Dan wasn’t as upset as me.  Doesn’t he get that our lives are ruined and never going to get any better?

You get the point… not pretty.

Well off we go to the psych appointment at the fertility clinic.  I had heard good things about the doctor, however, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to work.  I had been to my share of doctors re: depression, however, what did it mean to go to a doctor re: depression when I was already on anti-depressants?

We got called into the back room with this little old man.  He introduced himself and said he’d had an opportunity to talk to our RE regarding our unusually difficult cycles.  He sat us down and started to ask questions.  Me, being me, basically got right down to it.  I told him I know exactly what was wrong.  He stopped and asked me to explain.

I told him I’m a Type-A personality.  I love plans.  In fact, I take extreme pleasure in making to-do lists and short and long term plans.  Oh, and I generally get what I want.  I work my ass off and make sure that my plan works out.  I’m dedicated, passionate, hard working, and love having control.  That would be the issue.  I have zero control of fertility.  Nothing is working how it is supposed to.  The nice little 28-day cycle diagrams on the walls in the clinic didn’t mean anything to me as by day 28, I’d just be getting into the swing of things- not finding out if the cycle was successful or not.  Worse yet, the doctors didn’t even have control!  They had no ideas about what was going on and why I didn’t react to the drugs.

So take a control freak and put them in an incredibly stressful situation where they have no control, at all.  That equaled me.  An emotionally devastated 26 year old woman who could think of nothing else but the feel of an empty uterus.

The doc smiled and we chatted about life- how and where I grew up, school, work, our marriage.  You name it, it was on the list.  At the end of the session he basically said what we already knew- we had a great and supportive marriage, great relationships with family and friends plus lots of support.  However, I wasn’t dealing well with not having control.  He suggested that I already seemed to have recovered well from what our RE had described my emotional state yesterday, and he gave us the go-ahead to move on with a new cycle when we felt we were ready.  This time, however, we’d have to go back and continue to chat with him.

Sounded easy enough to me.  We walked out of the room and through the fertility halls.  I turned to Dan and said, let’s do this.  He wasn’t sure what I meant… I walked up to the IVF nurse and asked her what day I could start another FET cycle.  We had two embryos left.  My plan consisted of us getting pregnant ASAP and get this part of our lives over with.  I wasn’t going to wait.  I didn’t have control about much in this process, however I could have control over my start times.

The good news here was that because my body is so messed, I don’t have cycles.  Because I don’t have cycles, I do random starts.  So against Dan questioning me if I was ready, I booked my first monitoring appointment to get this show on the road.

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Failed cycles behind me, and a new Frozen Embryo Transfer to come.  I’m getting pregnant damn it. :S

Another 2WW (From Hell)

It has officially taken me a month to get around to writing this part of our journey… Not that I haven’t thought about it each one of those days.  I just didn’t feel I had the energy to do it.

The next few months were the lowest of the low for us, and I wasn’t doing very well.  Surrounded by friends and family that loved and supported us, I was stuck in my own head filled with negative thoughts.  The constant disappointments were compounding on top of one another and, regardless of the anti-depressants I was taking, I slipped into another depression.  So… here it goes.

…. 2WW (#3)

Today was the day.  While this Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) had gone relatively well compared to the other rounds we have done, it still wasn’t ‘easy’ as I had hoped.  I was excited to get into the clinic and have the transfer.  Patience is definitely not one of my strong suits.

On August 15th, Dan and I went in for our transfer.  The transfer itself was actually quite simple and easy.  We arrived at the clinic and they took us back to the procedure area.  I changed into the hospital gown and with an extremely full bladder I lied on the bed.  The ultrasound tech came in to see if my bladder was full enough… I felt like I was about to pee all over the table and she said I was good. (Thank God! Because there was no way I could wait much longer).  I lied in the chair with my legs in the brackets and prayed not to pee on anyone.

The RE popped in and went over the rig-a-ma-roll re: names and the embryo labels etc.  Yes, thank you for putting our own babies back inside of me.  Now that would be bad.  :S

Once ready, the ultrasound tech puts the ultrasound on my belly to guide the catheter that they use to insert the embryos.  With my bladder full, my uterus is pushed down and elongated so they can see exactly what they are doing.  After several measurements, they tell us to watch the monitor and they insert the two embryos.  We can see two white spots ejected from the catheter!  I’m officially pregnant!  If pregnancy is having a living baby inside of you, then I’m pregnant!!

They take a couple of shots on the ultrasound and print them out for us.

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The white solid dot in the pic are our two embryos 🙂

After relaxing on the bed for a minute, I jump up to go to the washroom because by now I can barely even think I have to go so bad!  We take a couple minutes to look at the pictures they gave us and talking about the ‘buddy’ effect they described to us.  One of our embryos wasn’t doing well and most of the cells had arrested, but we hoped that it would assist the other embryo which was very strong implant and attach!

Off I went home to rest in bed for the rest of the day.  We were officially in our new house so I cuddled with our dogs in the bed and Dan went back to work.

After two days of resting, I was back on vacation again.  The one thing that looking back I would have changed from the IVF round was that I was quite active and stressed with work and fertility during the 2WW.  I wanted to try and rid myself of stress so I decided to head back up to the cottage.  I drove back up north and my Mom was up there with two of her long-time friends.

I continued the crazy schedule of 3 vaginal suppositories and 8 estrogen tablets vaginally each day of the 14 days wait.  My body hated the estrogen and I was having every pregnancy symptom there was- my boobs hurt, I was nauseous, etc etc.  Honestly, it’s the evilest thing ever.

I would spend hours laying on the dock in the summer re-reading the same page of my book 30 times as I tried to decipher what each twitch, gas pain, and symptom meant.  I was in a pretty good mood until about 6 days post transfer.

I couldn’t wait any longer- I had to pee on a stick!  In the forums for IVF people talk about what day post transfer they got a BFP (big fat positive) on an at home test.  The earliest that people said they saw it was when the age of the embryo plus days post transfer equaled 10.  The embryos were 4 days old and I waited 6 days… the rationale seemed solid in my mind. Dan tried to convince me not to do it, he said to just be hopeful and wait.  I couldn’t do it.

As soon as I saw the negative result of the test, my life seemed to crash before my eyes.  I knew it then, I wasn’t pregnant.  It was really early to even be testing….  if I was normal, it would still be 4 days before my expected period, but in my head, I knew the magic second line would not appear on my tests.

I essentially cried for the next 4 days at the cottage.  If I wasn’t crying, I was curled up in a ball in bed sleeping.  My Mom tried to continue to encourage me to think positively and talked about the reliability of the tests and the timing.  Dan tried to calm me down over the phone for more hours than I want to imagine… but it didn’t matter.  I wasn’t pregnant and I knew it.

What was wrong with me?  They are literally putting little babies in my f*ing uterus and my body still wouldn’t work.  My entire world was so focused around getting pregnant.  We had spent basically all of our savings at this point, and months of pure emotional and physical hell, and we had absolutely nothing to show for it.

What makes someone a woman?  Because the whole reproductive system that was so eloquently explained to me in grade 5 wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.  I started to look back at our decisions leading up to this… Having a family was just as important to Dan as it was to me, and now he was stuck with me.  Me, the one with the useless body.  Letting me down was one thing, but letting Dan down was a whole different level of misery.

It was now 10 days post transfer and I couldn’t wait a minute later.  10 days plus the 4 day embryos equaled 14 days. This 2ww just got shortened by my creative math.  I drove home in the evening from the cottage and tried to prepare myself for the blood testing the next morning.  The night before going in, I felt this slight sense of hope.  Maybe I was being ‘Nancy Negative’ as my Dad would say… maybe I was all worked up over nothing.  The docs said we had great chances, so why didn’t I believe that?  I was so optimistic going into this round, so what had happened in these last few days?  It was official- I was going to be pregnant tomorrow and we are going to look back on my last couple (not-so-pretty) days and laugh in the future.

August 26:

The next morning we drove in for an early appointment.  I was sitting waiting for my blood work to be done in the glass room and my primary RE happened to walk by and ask how I was.  I hadn’t even had the test yet and I just burst out crying in the waiting room.  I’m not talking a little tear here and there… I mean a full out sob fest and I couldn’t catch my breath to even answer what was wrong.  Dan spoke up and said I was convinced I wasn’t pregnant and hadn’t been doing very well.

We stood me up, walked me to the room to get my blood drawn and then asked to see us in his office.  We wanted me to let him know what was going on.  I really had nothing to tell him that was new.  My body hated me.  This whole process of IUI/IVF had gone nothing but bad, nothing was working, we had virtually no money left, and the thought of having nothing at the end of this was so devastating I couldn’t even put it into words.  He chatted with us for a minute then said that we didn’t have the results yet, so try and stay calm.  However, he felt like it the result was negative, we definitely needed a fertility break to try and regain my sanity.  He also said before starting anything again, he wanted us (read: me) to see the psychiatrist at the clinic.

I, still sobbing, agreed and Dan walked me to the car.  Dan asked when the next appointment was for the psych doc and he had a cancellation the next day.  We took it.

We drove home.  Dan rubbing my leg as he drove, and me sobbing in the passenger seat.

Later on that day, around noon time, we got the call from the clinic.  I answered the phone before one ring even finished.  It was our IVF RN that we had developed a relationship with.  Her last words to me as I walked out of the clinic that morning was that the last woman who came into beta day upset like me turned out to be pregnant.  So try to stay optimistic.

With her first words, I knew.  All she said to me was that I was right… it was negative.  She was sorry.  After that… I’m sure we exchanged a few words, but I don’t remember any.  I just hung up and curled myself into a ball in bed and cried… and cried.  I asked Dan to text our families and a couple close friends who knew we would find out today.  Having to talk to anyone and say out loud that we weren’t pregnant meant it was real.  I wasn’t there yet.

After a couple of hours of Dan holding me while I sobbed, I was suddenly feeling quite calm.  It was like the not knowing part of the last 2 weeks was worse than just knowing that it hadn’t worked.  I felt like I had some closure now and we could start figuring out the next steps.  I couldn’t explain it- I was devastated it hadn’t worked, but I felt like there was a renewed sense of hope that we still had 2 frozen embryos left and there was still a chance!

I spent the rest of day watching movies with Dan on the couch and relaxing… and not knowing what the psych appointment that was booked for the next day would bring.

2WW… Number 2 (Two Week Wait)

After the devastating result of our first IUI, I was being cautiously optimistic after our IVF.  The clinic ended up transferring 2 top grade embryos.  They were both Day 3 embryos meaning they had a good growing start.

 

Generally speaking, you can have either 3 day embryos, or 5 day embryos to transfer.  The older the embryos are, the better the chances of success.  The problem is that the longer you grow the embryos outside of the body, the larger the chance of them arresting (dying).

 

Because we were only able to fertilize 6 embryos, we decided to play it safer with what we had and grow the embryos to 3 days. We were lucky and all 6 survived.  5 of the 6 were great quality, and the other was still above average.  Even though we have every problem in the book trying to create them, our embryos were great quality.

 

I was pretty good for about 2 days after the embryo transfer.  I took the day after the transfer off of work and rested as prescribed.  My goal for the next 14 days was to try to relax, keep my stress levels down, and focus on being well.

 

I had to take progesterone suppositories 3x daily to continue to support my uterine lining.   Suppositories… such an innocent name for such a crappy thing!  Basically shoving giant white chalky circles into my vagina… three times a day.  Not fun.

 

The issue with the progesterone was how evil it really is.  Taking progesterone mimics pregnancy symptoms.  My boobs hurt, I was bloated, I had nausea, and my stomach was a mess.  Plus, my body still wasn’t over the fertility medications so insert massive headaches, cramping, and muscle aches.

 

I hung the ultrasound picture on the fridge at our house and had it as a pic on my phone to look at.  I was absolutely amazed by it.  The whole science and craziness that is fertility was finally hitting me.  This was actually crazy!…

 

By about day 6, I was back to being best friends with Google.  I was now Googling everything from the best pregnancy tests, accuracy results of pregnancy tests on what day post transfer, early pregnancy symptoms, success stories from IVF, IVF odds for young couples…  you get the point.

 

This is about when I started getting creative with math.  Well if my babies were already 3 days old, plus I waited a whole 6 days… doesn’t that make them 9 days post ovulation?

 

I was once again pretty sure I was pregnant.  Perhaps this seems silly, and Dan tried his best to keep me realistic, but this time, the odds were in our favour!  We had such a great chance… plus our embryos were fantastic.

 

Day 7: … ok now I’m Googling and planning for twins.  How can you breastfeed with twins?  Do you keep them in the same room?  What if they are different sexes?  How would we tell our friends about two babies, not just one?  Although it was exciting, I was looking at the health risks for twin births and risks to the mother.  Knowledge was power… the more I knew, the more I could prepare.

 

Another major question- what colour would I paint the nursery?  Do we find out what we are having (yes!).  What hospital would we deliver in? 

 

Day 8: The scariest part of waiting for these 14 days is going pee.  It sounds stupid, but every time you go to the washroom, you say a slight prayer before you wipe.  Please God, don’t let there be any blood!  My worst nightmare came true… it was just a spot, but a spot of blood was not good news.  I immediately started crying.  This couldn’t be good news.  Back to Google I went and started reading all the posts by women who started to bleed and turned out to be pregnant.  Ok… this might not be the bad news I originally thought.  After all, it was simply one spot.

 

Day 9:  I’ve never been so scared to use the washroom.  I continued praying and tried not to read into my symptoms too much.  They were the exact same… no, wait, maybe they were getting stronger!  Probably just the progesterone, but what if it wasn’t.

 

We had invested so much into this cycle.  Not just a whole lot of money, but we were now going on over 2 months of straight treatment.  Two months of monitoring appointments, needles, poking, prodding, tears, and pain.  This was all worth it.  We were going to be pregnant.

 

We went to Costco after work that night to pick up a bunch of stuff.  I was getting cramps and getting really worried.  I went to the washroom and found that I was now bleeding.  Not just a spot anymore. 

 

I walked out of the washroom like a zombie and walked straight to Dan.  I was in tears and whispered the news in his ear.  We left before buying anything and went to the car.  I made it to the car before breaking down which was a feat in itself.  I was just exhausted and knew this wasn’t great news. 

 

I couldn’t wait any longer.  I could not wait another 4 days to find out if this worked, especially now that a period had started.  We were going to the clinic tomorrow morning to find out.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I went straight to bed and tried to calm down.  Dan continued to Google and found some hopeful posts, but I wasn’t feeling hopeful.

 

Day 10: June 15th. Beta Day.  I went into the clinic at 8am with Dan and got my blood drawn.  I walked out quickly and we drove home.  It was Father’s Day and I was really hoping for great news to give to our family.  Realistically, I was already talking myself into what might be the reality.

 

Around noon, they called.  It only had to ring once as I was holding the phone waiting.  The IVF nurse answered and said she had bad news.  After that, I have no idea what she said.  I just mumbled uh-huh, uh-huh and needed to get off the phone ASAP.  I hung up and broke down.  Even though this was the news that I was trying to tell myself might come, it didn’t help.

 

My body had failed us again.  Another 2.5 months had gone by… plus thousands of dollars and we had nothing to show for it.  Again.

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Why OHIP Hates Me… What does fertility REALLY cost??

So my uterus and ovaries suck.  I’m a young women (26!), Dan’s a young guy (29!) and we cant’ conceive naturally.  It’s not like we waited until we were 40 to try and start having kids…  We understand the theory of the ‘maternal clock’ and thought we were doing everything right.

Until everything fell apart.

Throughout my story this far, I have detailed some of the emotional and physical pain we have been going through.  The endless questions and decisions with no perfect answers, the endless waiting for consistently bad news, and being sick in bed for the better part of the year.  Just to add a cherry on top, there is the financial side of things.  People always ask me about what’s covered by OHIP and what’s not.  Let me lay this out for you…

Different clinics have different pricing, so here is an idea of fertility costs in Ontario, Canada.

OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Program), our Provincial publicly funded health care insurance covers Ontarians each time we are required to go to the doctors, go to the hospital, or have surgery etc.  There are limitations to this insurance when OHIP deems something to not be necessary.  For example, if I wanted my boobs to be 3 sizes bigger to look ‘pretty’, I’d had to fund that out of my pocket.  However, if I wanted my boobs 3 sizes smaller (and I’m having back and neck issues due to their large size) OHIP would fund that.

Well fertility is something that would be in the first category.  Apparently, being infertile is not something the government cares about, nor is willing to pay for.

So when you walk into the clinic for the initial consult with the docs, OHIP covers it.  The blood tests and diagnostic testing in order to diagnose the condition, OHIP pays for.  However, even this has a limit.  My ultrasounds were paid for, however Dan’s sperm analysis was not.  I think that test ran about $100.  Ok, that we can handle.

Now, once the doctor diagnose me with PCOS and decide that due to my medical conditions, we would need assistance in conceiving, OHIP says- well that sucks, but sorry, can’t help you… Not our problem.

So onwards we go.  We then have to pay an annual admin fee of $220 plus tax to the clinic.  Next is a $300 monitoring fee.  This covers the clinic for the blood work and ultrasounds needed for monitoring your cycle.  An IUI runs you around $600 per shot (this includes the ‘sperm washing’ and insemination).

So at this point, for the cheapest assisted version of IUI we have a minimum of around $1220.00.  So, twelve hundred bucks… Well, if you’re anything like me, you are now thinking of all the things you would much rather buy with $1220 dollars.

But wait, we are forgetting the best part- the medications that you have to buy.  I know I’m not the norm… as it appears my body is revolting against the idea of having a baby, but the medications were the most expensive part.  In addition to the $1220 dollars for the clinic fees etc, add an additional $7500 just for the medications for our one IUI round.

Yep- that ‘cheap’ procedure just jumped from $1200 to $8700.  Now think of what you could buy with that… hell, that would get you a decent car!  But alas, it got me emotional and physical hell.  And an empty uterus. 

Now Daniel would pop in here with is positivity and start explaining that it isn’t wasted money.  We had a chance for it to work, we tried and gave it our best, and it didn’t work.  While that is disappointing, think of that the doctors learned about my body in this round! *Rolling my eyes…

In case you haven’t quite picked this up yet, this is a tad of a sore spot for me.  Throwing thousands and thousands of dollars into fertility with nothing to show for it but bills.

Next, moving into the big leagues of IVF, check out the pricing below:

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We’ve now already paid the monitoring fees and the admin fees for this year… but the IVF fee: $5800, ISCI fee: $1500, Embryo cryopreservation fee (embryo freezing): $850, and the and the Annual embryo storage fee: $240 are all needed to do a round of IVF. 

Dan and I lucked out (I guess you could call it that?) as we were in this very small percentage of the population that our round of IVF was at the subsidized rate of $3000 instead of $5800.  The rationale was that because I had too many embryos for IUI, it was actually cheaper for OHIP to pitch in $1800 bucks for a one time ‘donation’ to switch to IVF, than to pay for a high risk pregnancy and multiple births if I went ahead with the IUI.  Indeed OHIP, thank you oh so much.

So if you happened to total up the above, you’d see we’d be sitting at around $5500.  Enough for another small car, giant mortgage payment, or a super nice trip… Nope.  IVF. 

But don’t forget! The medications!  This cycle, due to it’s length and high dosages ran just over $12,000.  Yes, you read that right.  So we’re talking about $17,500 for a one decent shot to get pregnant.

I guess this is one of the hardest things for me… Paying for the procedures is one thing, but trust me, it sucks have to have to keep raising your credit card limits to buy the very medications that are making you so sick in the first place.

Dan and I spent our first 2.5 years of marriage saving every penny so we could buy a nice home and have a head start on our lives.  We knew kids cost money, so we tried to stay a step ahead.  We watched our friends and family go on extravagant trips, buy whatever they wanted and go out all the time.  We were very cautious about our spending.  We went out and spent money, but every penny was spent with a concerted effort to maintain our savings.  Why don’t we live in Quebec, or The Netherlands, or Australia… or any of the a zillion places that assist in fertility costs??

To be honest, it sucks.  It sucks that we are infertile… when everyone around you is having babies.  That’s hard enough.  However, it sucks even more that we have now spent our savings on trying to get the one thing we want more than anything else in the world- a baby!

In the infamous words of my Grandfather, “It’s only money”.  And, it is.  We still have our health, each other, plus amazing friends and family.  And HOPE… hope this will work. 

 

So I try my best to focus on our blessing instead of our complaints.  However, sometimes I just need to vent.  Venting complete.

We continue to press forward…

Drafted to the Big Leagues… IVF

* Foreward…

 

I’ve been procrastinating and delaying writing this part of the year.  This is the part of our journey where things got tough.  Real tough.   Hormones, emotional hell, physical agony and an empty wallet would be the short version… Here is the longer one.

 

 

 

We have just been switched to IVF and our heads are spinning.  We have been talking about IVF as our next route, but had no clue we would be making these decisions now.

 

We signed the consents and had another brief overview with the nurse about other changes.  I was now given another medication call orgalutron- another needle to give myself in the evening.  This is used to prevent immature ovulation in women being stimulated in fertility treatments.  There is no use growing these amazing follicles if we can’t do an egg retrieval to catch them all!

 

Now our goals had shifted- we now wanted as many follicles as possible while maintaining a safe level of estrogen.  The clinic gave me a couple days off from monitoring and I was to come back on CD 36.

 

My body felts like I was falling apart.  I had been trying to go to work and keep up, but at this point, I could barely walk due to the pain in my abdomen.  Additionally, I now had the shakes and was sweating like you’ve never seen.  Between my hot flashes, track marks on my arms from blood work, and trembling hands, it was getting harder and harder to convince people I’m not an addict coming off a high.  My boobs and abdomen were so swollen that one would actually think I’d be pregnant and in my third trimester.  Anything that touched me below my neck and above the knees felt like a knife stabbing me.  I tried to tolerate the physical symptoms as best as possible, but at this point, I was breaking down.  I eventually gave up and called work to let them know that I was going to need some time off.

 

CD 36: The most painful transvaginal ultrasound and blood work.  Ever.

 

I step into the clinical room to receive my results and now understand why I am so ill.  I now have 29 follicles growing in my ovaries.  Twenty-nine.  Now keep in mind, a normal person grows one, maximum two follicles, once a month. 

 

To perhaps put this in better perspective, a normal and healthy ovary is about the size of a Greek olive.  Both of my ovaries now are approximately the size of large grapefruits.  They also don’t really have any room to move so one has migrated up and under my ribcage, and the other is squishing everything else in there.

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Right Ovarian Follicles- Black circles are follicles

 

 

After seeing the ultrasounds, we decided to wait for my blood work before making any decisions.  The reports came back around noon and they gave me a call.  My estrogen had sky rocketed, and was so high that the clinic was worried about Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  More about this later, but what this meant was that we couldn’t wait any longer, we had to move ahead with the egg retrieval. 

 

This wasn’t an optimal time as even though I now had 29 follicles, many of them were under 18 mm so were not big enough to have a mature egg.  This didn’t matter, waiting and continuing treatment was not an option.  Plus, we have about 15-16 follicles within the size range that we want- still a great result!

 

By this time, Dan had officially given notice to his old employer and was full speed ahead doing the last minute preparations for opening our Pita Pit.  Construction was underway and he was able to be home and help me as needed.  The better news was that I had now (finally!) convinced Dan to list our home on the real estate market and shop for a new one.  We decided to move closer to friends and family, so we had picked a smaller rural town close by.  I had found my dream house, and even though it was a tad over our budget, my negotiation skills prevailed and we had a 30 day closing!  (As if we weren’t busy enough….)

 

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Our Soon-to-be Pita Pit

 

 

After we received our results from the blood work that afternoon, Dan drove back to the clinic to purchase a trigger shot for me to take.  The goal this time was not to trigger ovulation, but instead, to trigger the eggs to mature.  When he came home, I gave myself the trigger needle.  Tomorrow was the big day- egg retrieval!

 

Egg Retrieval

 

I woke up the next morning and we got ready to go into the clinic for our egg retrieval.  The clinic had given me a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication to take the morning of.  I took the pill and tried to concentrate on the bigger picture and end result- a baby!

 

We got to the clinic and Dan handed the clinic a fresh sperm sample.  As soon as the eggs were out, the lab would be fertilizing the eggs to make embryos.

 

They had me get dressed into a hospital gown and took us to the back where the procedures happen.  The RN started an IV and gave me special medication that I required to assist me due to my bleeding disorder.  This made me start to get very nauseous… trying my best not to puke, the nurse came over and added in some gravol to the IV.  These meds, plus the anti-anxiety meds, had me pretty darn calm.  I waited until it was our turn to go in- no big deal.  I can do this.

 

Another nurse arrived who was scrubbed in and ready to go.  They lead us to the room and I got onto the table and put my feet in the leg holders.  I was now lying down with my legs spread and in the air.  Dan was sitting beside me holding my hand. 

 

As the RE arrived ready to begin the procedure, the RN started to add medication to my IV.  Different clinics do this different ways, however instead of knocking you out, our clinic chooses to do something called conscious sedation.  The purpose of this is to give you a combination of medication to help you relax (a sedative) and to help block pain (an anesthetic).  The goal is to be semi-awake but not to be able to feel the majority of the procedure.

 

The RN started to give me the medications.  They continued to ask me questions and then said they were ready to start.  This isn’t a pretty procedure- basically they are shoving a transvaginal ultrasound in with a suction needle on it.  They push the needle through and into your ovaries.  The needle then sucks out the contents of each of your follicles (eggs).

 

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Egg Retrieval Diagram

 

 

As the RE started to insert the ultrasound probe I was in incredible pain- they hadn’t even started yet, however due my physical symptoms, everything hurt.  I asked them to stop and to give me more medication.  They did.

 

They went to start again… and again I’m in excruciating pain.  Dan is squeezing my hand as I try to calm myself down and stop from crying.  I request more medication.  The RE nods and the RN gives me more.  We start again…

 

This time I try to grin and bear it.  It hurts… no, it is terrible.  I’m not able to stand it and am now extremely upset and sobbing loudly.  The RN then informs the RE that they have given me the maximum amount of the medications allowed in a non-hospital setting.  They cannot give me any more medication.

 

The RE says that we can stop due to the pain.  I ask what that really means- does that mean we aren’t going to go through with it?  She says we don’t have another choice.  Due to the timing of the trigger injection, the eggs are ready now.  If we wait, they will ovulate and be over mature.  It was now or never.

 

I looked at Dan… he looked more scared than I did.  He was handling this amazingly considering the state I was in.  I looked at him and said, let’s just do it.  The RE explained that it would be very painful, and she understood if I wanted to stop.  They could not explain why the medications were not taking any effect on me.

 

Here we go again…  Dan was now standing and holding my arm, half supporting me, half trying to keep me still as I sobbed and moaned through the procedure.  They called another lab tech into the room to assist to hold my other side.  The RN was trying to encourage me through it as the RE sucked everything that was viable from my right ovary.  I have never experienced pain like that before.

 

They then went for my left ovary.  The RE stopped and explained that she was unable to reach it as it was shoved way up under my ribs due to its excessive size.  She tried a couple more times, however she couldn’t get it.  They checked to see if they were able to access it from my abdomen with a bigger needle, however the pathway was blocked by bowel and intestine.  They could not safely access my left ovary to get the eggs out.  She just shook her head and apologized.

 

After the most painful 30 minutes of my life, they could only do half of the job.  My body had yet again failed me.

 

I don’t really remember most of the rest of the day.  I believe Dan took me home and got me into bed.

 

Fertilization

 

We received the report.  They were able to extract 8 eggs from my right ovary.  Out of the 8 extracted, 6 were mature.  The clinic went ahead and fertilized those eggs.  Due to the small number, we decided to go with a method called ICSI.  I don’t even know what that stands for (and I’m too lazy to google it!), but basically instead of just putting Dan’s sperm with the eggs and crossing our fingers, we fertilize the eggs with a bit more science.  The lab picked out good healthy sperm from the sample and held the egg still.  They then injected one sperm into each egg in hopes that they all would take.

 

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ICSI

 

 

We got the call the day after the retrieval that all 6 of our eggs had fertilized and were now growing in the incubator!  The disappointment of the retrieval day was behind us, and we were now focusing on our 6 growing embryos.  We continued to get an updated report each day to find out how the embryos were growing.  Just because your eggs fertilized does not mean they will grow.  Ours were good quality so we had high hopes, however nothing is guaranteed.  We finally had a spot of luck on our side and all six embryos made it through three days of growing. 

 

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Embryo Development Diagram

 

 

In the meantime, I was now done with injections, but was giving myself progesterone suppositories three time daily.  The purpose of the progesterone was to keep my uterine lining in good shape and prepare my body to accept an embryo- and hopefully attach!

 

I was under the impression that once they took these eggs out of my body, I would be feeling much better.  However, the opposite was true.  I was now full fledge into ovarian hyper stimulation.  My stomach had distended (I literally looked 9 months pregnant), I was throwing up and having classic OHSS symptoms.  I actually got so sick that Dan had to get me into the car and get me back to the clinic to be seen.  They reviewed everything and said that I had moderate to severe OHSS.  My estrogen was over 25x higher than an average woman.  The good news was that I did not have any free fluid in my abdomen.  This symptom of OHSS is life threatening, not to mention, they would have to cancel my transfer.  Part of the problem was that my left ovary never released the substantial amount of follicles. 

 

I continued being very ill for three days.  Dan took good care of me and was feeling like a human again by day three post egg retrieval.  The clinic reviewed my symptoms and approved me to continue with the embryo transfer.

 

As a side note, we had received possession of our new home.  However, because the first one had not sold yet, we didn’t have to rush and move.  I spent the 3 days between the retrieval and transfer lying on a sunbathing chair in my kitchen wrapped in bedding.  My family assisted us each day in moving some items over.  My Mom actually unpacked my whole kitchen as I laid in the chair pointing.

 

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Our new house on moving day- still no sod or paved driveway! But couldn’t be happier.

 

 

Transfer Day- June 4, 2013

 

After all the hi-tech science that has happened to get us here, the actual transfer was fairly uneventful. They guide a catheter into my uterus using an abdominal ultrasound.  Once the ultrasound is in the exact position, the RE injects the embryos in the top 1/3 of my uterus.

 

The crazy part is that she is actually injecting two small babies into my belly!  Depending on your philosophical thinking of course, but for me, life begins at conception… so here is a picture of the ultrasound they gave us when leaving.  The bright white spot near the top centre (inside the darker circle which is my uterus) is the two embryos that were transferred.  This was the first ultrasound of our pregnancy!  I took a pic and sent it to my family and close friends!

 

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Our embryos after transfer!!

 

 

I went home, relaxed in bed for another day, then went back to work.  Technically I was now pregnant.  However, the bigger question was would it last?  All that these little guys had to do was snuggle their way into my uterine lining.  Two embryos meant a very good chance of two babies…

 

Let the wait begin.