Wednesday, January 29, 2014

IV what the F?

Dealing with infertility in my 20's was never something I thought I would experience, yet here I was.  With two failed IUI attempts, it was time to get was time to really accept that IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) was our best option to having a baby.  Granted we could continue on the route that we were on, but it was not a fun nor a cheap road.  We could also just go back to the old fashioned way and hope that over time we may just create a miracle.  Both options were not something I was willing to consider any longer.  While our journey had only lasted two years thus far (some couples go for five or even ten years), it was two years too long in my opinion.  I wanted results, NOW!

After much deliberation, many tearful chats and financial discussions, we decided to go for it.  I wasn't going to be in my 20's forever so we might as well take advantage of one positive in our situation; my age.  We made a plan, created a timeline and started to prepare for what was going to be a very long and hard process...but one that would hopefully end with a bundle of joy growing in my belly. IVF ultimately is conducted in two major parts: egg retrieval (taking the eggs out of my ovaries)...eggs are fertilized, three-five days pass...and embryo transfer (the fertilized eggs have become healthy blastocysts and are transferred into my uterus).

The first step was to put me back on birth control.  What? Why on Earth would anyone do that, right?  Well, as my amazing doctor would say, "I want to control you".  She needed to be in total control of my cycle so that following my next menstruation I could load up on the meds prior to ovulation.  I hadn't been on the pill in years, but I was ready for anything.  I had heard the many stories of the large quantity of shots and medications good ole' IVF required, so I was happy to only endure taking a tiny pill each day.

While I was on the pill a tentative timeline was set in place for my procedures.  Granted, the human body will do what it wants, so there is a two-three day window of variance, but for the most part, I was going to pump my body filled with so many hormones it would do exactly what the doctor wanted.  During this time I made my arrangements to take time off work (I needed to be on STRICT bed rest for five days following the transfer), checked out different programs to support the financial costs of my medications and made my appointments as needed (surgery center was the major one as I was going to go under anesthesia for the egg retrieval). 

When I was awarded 50% off a few of my medications through the Compassionate Care Program, I was thrilled!  I wanted to save every dime possible throughout this whole thing knowing my insurance covered only my tests and diagnostics...NO treatment whatsoever.  My doctor's amazing staff worked up a "guesstimate" of how much I would need (a lot would vary depending on my hormone levels which were monitored weekly) and I was told to order ASAP.  They needed to be here and ready right when that period ended. Thankfully, again due to my young age my medications wouldn't be nearly as astronomical as say a woman in her 40's (thank you Father Time).

My first shipment arrived and I started to unload my goods...and unload I did.

I unloaded my bounty and saw that I needed to get organized, this was clearly far more serious than I imagined.  I grabbed a flea market wooden box and unloaded my medications that don't need to be refrigerated.  Next up? Needles in mason jars of course!  Lastly, vintage Pyrex on a vintage tray with my smaller needles (I know too many needles...) and other IVF goods.  

Hey there!!! You aren't totally frightening at all!

Aside from my nightly shots (two in my belly, not too horrible, but they did make me rather nauseous), I also had some fun pills to take twice a day. Those were considered my "cheap meds" from Target.

For nearly two weeks I took pills twice a day and gave myself shots each night (yes, I did them myself, I have no fear of needles). I kept meticulous notes in a notebook next to my meds detailing what I took, how much and at what time.  The doctor called me on a nightly basis to tell me if I needed to adjust my medications in anyway and when I was to come in next.  She was available 24/7 for me and I took great comfort in talking to her each evening.

I went into my fertility office regularly over these two weeks to get my eggs checked (making sure they were growing big and ready to be plucked from my ovaries)  and checking my hormone levels through regular blood tests.  As soon as my eggs were at maximum capacity (I had over ten on each ovary...CRAZY considering we naturally only drop one each month),  it was time to go in for the big egg retrieval.  I had done my best to schedule my procedures as close to my holiday breaks in hopes of minimizing the days I would be out, lucky for me this day at the surgery center fell right before Thanksgiving...well, not sure how lucky that is actually, I love Thanksgiving.

The morning of the procedure, I woke up, showered and was so excited to get this baby making party started!  I went into the surgery center and got all ready for the main event.  My doctor was going to go into my ovaries and suck out my ripe eggs to fertilize...yikes!  My TH sat with me faithfully until it was time to go back.  The procedure was only to take an hour and I would be good to go home and rest for the remainder of the day.  Soon I was whisked away and counting down...then I was waking up and there was my wonderful TH holding my hand as I awoke.  Soon, my phenomenal doctor came out to check on me and told me the good news...26 of my eggs were being whisked away to be tended to by a team of embryologists.  She had already explained that not all of those eggs would survive, but I was still thrilled to start with so many.  Typically, they cut themselves in half with each stage, for example, if I started with 26, maybe only 13 would fertilize and from those 13, only 7 would form into healthy blastocysts that would produce a pregnancy, but hey, 7 babies was good for me!! 

My TH and I had already decided that our Thanksgiving-eve would be spent eating Chinese food and watching movies while I recovered.  While I was told the procedure was mildly invasive and I should be fine the next day, I in fact, was not.  As the anesthesia wore off, I found myself in more and more pain.  I have never had a C-section, but I imagine that is what it must feel like; a massive tear all across your uterus.  I could barely move, let alone, talk.  Don't even get me started on how it felt to laugh!! No comedies that night!

Later that evening, my doctor called to tell me that out of the 26, we had 17 embryos (eggs that had fertilized with my TH's best and brightest sperm)...whooo rah! So far, so good.  Now we would just wait and see what we ended up with in five days.

I was set to go in for my transfer on Monday, December 2nd (Nic's birthday coincidentally - a perfect birthday present any Auntie-to-be!).  From then on it would be me, my bed and a marathon of Once Upon A Time.  Knowing my TH would have to work that week and I wasn't permitted to get up to do ANYTHING aside from use the restroom I had to call in Thriving Mommy flew in from the East Coast and my non-biological sister KK came from Arizona.  My team was assembled!  The weekend before the big baby transfer, when I could finally walk, I set up my accommodations for the week.

Gotta have an air mattress in the living room, I couldn't bear the thought of being locked in my room all week!
With remotes, books, computer (I was looking forward to so much free time to Thrive), I was set to relax!
I even had a clean cuddly baby dog to keep me company all day!
When we arrived at the lab to have the transfer I was filled with a joy I hadn't felt in years.  I just knew this would work, it had to.  I didn't care about the stories I had heard about other women having to do cycle after cycle, for me, this was it.  I trusted it, believed it with my whole heart and never let any other emotion enter my mind.

Two AA (the top of the line in blastocyst terms) were all ready to be put in. There was a chance one (or even none) would actually "stick" to my uterine wall, but again, I refused to believe that. As I laid back in the dimly lit room with the soft, calming music in the background I quietly wept.  My TH rubbed my head and I could feel his excitement too. We then got to watch the monitor as our two "shooting stars" (that is what they look like through the ultra sound) entered my uterus (via a catheter) and the doctor did her best to nestle them right into my uterine lining.  All they had to do now was reeeaalllly get snuggly in there and make it a home for the next nine months.  After they were in, I laid there with my hips elevated for ten minutes, crying, giving words of encouragement to the babies and praying.  Soon, my TH carefully escorted me to the car and I was home, laying down, for the next week.  I thought I would have hated it, but I actually LOVED it!

The two transferred blastocysts and the fortune I opened the night of our Chinese feast...a good omen, I knew.

After my week of bed rest, I headed back to work full of hope...just one more week until my pregnancy test...fingers crossed it would finally be the positive I dreamed of for so long...(to be continued)

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