J.T. is an awesome injector and the actual progesterone injections have not hurt. That being said my injections sites hurt a lot after the fact! It's kinda like when you get a tetanus shot and your arm is sore for a day or two afterward. But instead of my arm it is now my how lower back and instead of a day or two it may be three weeks or (hopefully!!!) longer. I am hoping that once the muscles adjust to getting injected regularly that the sites will no longer hurt-fingers crossed!
We have gotten so much positive feedback, support and prayers it has certainly helped make this experience better!
I am working hard to keep the following in mind with each passing day:
Of the six frozen eggs, 4 survived thaw. In researching how we fared compared to others, we seem to be fairly average. Though finding successful egg thaw rates is sketchy and mostly anecdotal. From what I can tell, it looks like the "average" thaw rate is between 60%-80%.
They attempted to fertilize all 4 vis ICSI:
IVF with ICSI involves the use of specialized micromanipulation tools and equipment and inverted microscopes that enable embryologists to select and pick up individual sperm in a specially designed ICSI needle. The needle is carefully advanced through the outer shell of the egg and the egg membrane - and the sperm is injected into the inner part (cytoplasm) of the egg. This usually results in normal fertilization in about 75-85% of eggs injected with sperm. (advancedfertility.com)
Upon being ICSIed (which is a term the scientists use, I'm sure) one immediately disintegrated:(
So we are one day in and are already at 50% of what we started with. Though I am happy with the fact that we hit the 75%-85% fertilization rate with the ICSI as I imagine J.T. would have felt personally responsible for anything less (though there is no reason for him to feel that way, but IF can definitely make a big dent in your wallet, your spirit AND your ego!).
So from all I have researched, we are par for the course. Though if I was being honest anything less than all 6 eggs being successfully fertilized was going to bum us out to some degree. So we are a bit (ok maybe more than a bit!) anxious, but hopeful.
We are just crossing everything we've got and are praying fervently that these three are fighters and all of them are growing as expected when we get our day three report on Sunday!
First, a bottle of Lupron. Now my laptop:(. It is also cracked and is not functional. Perfect timing you know with school starting and starting my first semester as a full time student (womp, womp).
I can by klutzy sometimes, but rarely is my clumsiness as expensive as it has been this week! Someone once told me to blame it all on the IVF meds, so that is exactly what I am doing. Stupid meds cost me more than $600 this week.
Yesterday I had a monitoring appointment to make sure the Lurpon was keeping everything quiet (i.e. non of my follicles were growing) and that my lining was thickening. There was a check on both fronts (lining is 10.7). J.T. went with me so he could learn how to administer the-gulp-progesterone shots which will begin later next week.
The rest of the day went just as well. Lunch with friends, found a new show to binge watch on Netflix (Jane the Virgin), and ordered pizza for dinner. After dinner I went up to do my Lupron injection and this is where things took a turn for the worse.
I had filled the syringe and was putting the Lupron vial back in its box. It slipped from my hand and hit the tile floor with a giant thunk. Well actually the vial is glass so it landed with a crash. Upon inspection there was a definite crack on the outside of the bottle:(. It did not appear that any shards were in the liquid and liquid wasn't seeping out, but to be on the safe side a called the pharmacy from which we received the meds which is 3.5 hours from where we live.. Keep in mind it was 8:00...on a Friday night...of course it was.
Now some of you reading this may never have ordered IVF meds before, so you may also not be aware that these meds can not be obtained from your local CVS or Walgreens. In fact, I have discovered that even though I leave minutes from a city with three fertility clinics and nearly 1 million residents, there is only ONE pharmacy that carries any type of stock for these meds and that this pharmacy does NOT have weekend hours.
The remote pharmacist, Stephanie, was awesome. After leaving a message in the special fertility weekend voicemail. I got a call back in about 30 minutes. She did not have any ready made answers, but promised she would begin working on it and call me back in the morning. True to her word she called back at 11am. She called to let me know that the only options she could offer were to go ahead and take the potentially tampered meds (which she did not recommend), to try to get a hold of filtered syringes (which could only be obtained from hospitals or clinics), or drive 3.5 hours to their pharmacy and she would be happy to meet me. JT did not want to chance the tampered meds, so we began putting feelers out for the special syringes. I went up to double check the damage to the bottle (I was leaning toward chancing it as a last resort), but to my horror discovered an empty bottle. That tiny crack was enough to have drained the bottle:(.
So I called Stephanie back...for the 3rd time...on what I think was her personal phone...and told her I was coming to her. Nothing like a 7 hour unexpected road trip on a Saturday to get medicine you HAVE to have or risk thousands of dollars and lots of time and emotional stress going straight down the drain. Fortunately the car hadn't even crossed the county line when I got a call from our nurse (who had been contacted by both Stephanie and myself) to tell me I could turn the car around because she hadn't gotten a hold of the closed local pharmacy and someone was going to go in to get me the medicine I needed. Hallelujah!
So even though this situation put my stress level on overload, God once again showed me two things:
One He's got this.
Two there are amazing people in the world.
We had friends who immediately responded to our request for the special syringes and while they personally didn't have access immediately began asking people they knew who might be able to help. Strangers in two different pharmacies took time out of their own weekends to graciously and pleasantly help me. Even though they did not know me, the mistake was mine, and they probably had much better things to do on a Saturday.
I used to hate drinking water. Give me milk, juice, diet soda, diet iced tea, flavored water, but had trouble choking down plain water. It wasn't until my mid 20's that I got in the habit of buying water bottles and forcing myself to drink them. Over time I got in the habit of 4 bottles of water a day.
Wanting to do better by Mother Earth, I transitioned from bottled water to tap water and have done well drinking water in my 30s. Now in addition to water I also drink at least one diet soda a day, alcohol, and other drinks flavored with artificial sweeteners. Though this summer I have slowly but surely given up everything except water. Be it tap, be it sparkling, water is the only thing I have allowed myself to drink during the month of July.
My doctor did not make this recommendation, rather I came to this conclusion myself through research. We may only have one shot at IVF so I am doing everything I can to make it count (except controlling my sugar and carb intake apparently, but more on that later).
I used to be team "drink 'til it's pink", but after reading these studies I started abstaining from alcohol at the start of my last "real" cycle at the beginning of June. Alcohol consumption research: Here and here. Clearly it'snot a huge body of research, but it's enough for me to have become a teetotaler this summer.
The next think I gave up was caffeine. I was not a huge caffeine consumer (1-3 caffeinated diet sodas per day), but after seeing these studies I knew caffeine also needed to go. Caffeine consumption research: Here, here, and here. Once again, research is limited and my consumption is minor compared to many, but why risk it? This led to my giving up caffeine once I started my BCP cycle at the end of June.
I was all ready to go through the rest of summer with my Diet Sprite and Minute Maid Light Lemonade, until I started to get wind that artificial sweeteners could also pose a problem. Artificial sweetener research: Here and here, This research has even less backbone than the last two topics, but again I am trying to do everything I can to help ensure successful implantation and residence for 9 months (even if it means water, water, and more water!).
Just noticed my glass was empty. Time for more water!
I love Amazon Prime. Not just because we get things delivered super fast, but also because it gives us access to Prime Music. Prime music works something like Spotify or iTunes, but is included in the Amazon Prim subscription. Now there are songs that are not available in Prime, but these songs can purchased for download like you do on iTunes. Last fall I began creating playlists. Often these are current favorite songs that I listen to incessantly or I will create a playlist with a theme (5k, Beatles for my concert in the spring, etc.). Not surprisingly, July's playlist is a compilation of songs that have encouraged me or given me strength during our IF journey as well as additions suggested by others with similar experiences. You will find my playlist below:
Summer was the best possible time to do IVF as during the school year stress and scheduling would have been problematic. That being said, summer can be verrrry quiet for us. Quiet can be bad for me. Quiet can lead to thinking. Thinking can lead to questions. Questions can lead to the internet. The internet can lead to a rabbit hole. A rabbit hole can lead to more thinking. Thinking at this level turns to obsessing and all that stress I was trying to avoid is starting me directly in the face! So I am planning as many distractions as I can this summer.
We went to the beach. I am taking class two nights a week. College friends came to visit last weekend. My mom and her best friend came down to visit this past week. This past Friday and next week I have planned on meeting friends for lunch. The following week I am going back to work for a week. Then we are in transfer week. I will focus on distractions during the 2ww once we are closer. Beyond planning distractions to keep my mind occupied, I am also finding if I sit on the couch and read or watch tv I fall asleep!
Which brings me to side effects. So the primary side effect for Lupron appears to be headaches. The good news is that I have not gotten any headaches. The less good news is that Lupron makes me (and about three other people in the world) so sleepy. I can sleep 8-9 hours at night and still be sleepy by early afternoon the next day. I am not the napping type, yet have taken more naps over the past two weeks then I have over the past two decades!
I am up to two estrogen patches (start a third today). Friday morning I teared up several times at Madam Secretary which is a good show, but NOT an overly emotional show and I am not a crier under normal circumstances. I also teared up when I texted my mom that they had gotten out of dodge just in time as I was becoming weepy and bi*%!y might be next and she responded "I love you weepy or bi*%!y!". Since Friday morning there have been no more waterworks. Yesterday I snapped at J.T., but that was because I was dozing on the couch and he kept trying to talk to me. In that case, I might have snapped at him even without two patches of estrogen:). Otherwise, things have been normal.
It will be interesting to see if patches 3 & 4 bring any additional fun...
Things are going well on the medication front. I am still only on a single estrogen patch though, so things may begin to get more interesting tomorrow when I increase to two.
In un-IF related news, I am pretty sure God personally picked out my doctoral classes this summer specifically for me. I say this because the first class opened my eyes (and to a degree scared me straight) to how writing intensive doctoral life is. I needed this out of the gate in order to set me up successfully for all that lies ahead. Also, the sole purpose of this second class (both were electives) is to set you up for success in the doctoral program and to go "on the market" (when the time comes). What better way to get started, then by knowing what you need to do and how you need to do it from beginning to end?!?
That being said this second class has also presented an interesting paradox. It has been my mission this summer to focus on the day (week max) ahead so I don't get all caught up in my head and stressing myself out with all the "What-Ifs..." (or should I say WTF IF...) that lie ahead. However, my first assignment in this class is to submit a degree plan that lays out at least the next year of classes I plan to take. Well laying out just a year doesn't seem wise since what comes after that may impact what you need to take in that first year, so over this week I have found myself having to look ahead 3 and 4 years into the future-not exactly what I needed for my sanity at the moment:(.
The ironic part is that so much of what I do on the school front depends upon what happens on the home front. Will we have one baby, two babies, or no babies? What will I do for work in the event said baby(ies) make a long awaited appearance? On top of all of these unknowns that already existed, J.T. also learned on Monday that his company is sending all software developer jobs (what he does) overseas, so this could mean either a) he moves up through the ranks to a senior engineer much more quickly than was the norm or b) he could be laid off. If option A occurs, his salary might be such that the need for a second income is not as necessary (that would be amazing!). If option B occurs, I will have no choice but to remain in my current job and things will be tight (that would suck is an understatement).
If I give this all too much more thought I am pretty sure my brain will explode, so I have developed a 3 year degree plan and a 4 year degree plan to submit. I am hitting send and then hiding them. One day at a time is about all my poor brain can take at this point!
Had a great weekend with my college friends. When we were in school we said we would get together at least once a year after we graduated. Promises like that are not so easily kept especially when you live in four different states, but with the exception of maybe one year at least three out of the four of us have gotten together for a weekend each year.
This weekend all four of us were able to get together. When you only get together once a year it really doesn't matter what you do since talking and catching up is what anyone really wants to do:). We ate lots of food, went to the pool, went to a brewery (just water for me), and to a taphouse for dinner (more water!).
Each time we get together I realize I have a horrible memory:(. They tell stories and talk about people, some I remember, but others not so much. It is a great reminder to myself to take lots of pictures because pictures and songs are great memory triggers for me. We email some throughout the rest of the year, but I waited until this weekend to catch them up on all the details of where we landed for IVF. They are super supportive and I love having a support system both near and far!
AF started on Saturday, so I went in this morning for Day 3 bloodwork and ultrasound. The ultrasound was clear and my lining is at 5 which he said was good. They are supposed to call back this afternoon and let me know whether or not to start my estrogen patches. Hopefully I will be able to and we keep this forward momentum going!
ETA: Bloodwork was good, so I started with 1 estrogen patch last night. Transfer date is currently set for August 2nd. Fingers crossed the next three weeks go by fast!
Blood draw from this morning shows my TSH is back at 3, so all is well. Phew,"crisis" averted. Since it's not my thyroid I should blame craving (and eating!) all the food and being tired on the Lupron. Actually I probably only have myself to blame, but I currently have a scapegoat and I'm going to use it:).
I took my last BCP Tuesday night so now we just wait on AF.
On the one hand I am glad that I am cycling over the summer so that I do not have to deal with work on top of all of this. That being said my only real distraction this week has been class. I have college friends coming to visit this weekend and my mom and her best friend are coming next week for their annual trip. These will be some fun distractions and will help shift my focus which I clearly need!
Backstory: I was diagnosed with hypothroidism in 2008 (which was later amended to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in 2015). My TSH level was 6.6 (HIGH). I have my TSH levels tested with my GP each year and from 2009-2015 they have always come back in the 1.6-2.9 range (reference range listed as 3) and my medicine has remained the same the whole time.
I had it tested again in February and never bothered to check the results as I assumed that if anything had changed my medication would be adjusted accordingly (dumb move #1). About two weeks ago I was at the beach and got a robocall from my GP requesting I call for a follow up appointment. Hadn't been to the doctor since FEBRUARY and it was a routine visit so I assumed it was a mistake and didn't call back (dumb move #2). I got another message yesterday, so I sent a message via the online portal. I got a very disjointed voicemail back saying I wasn't actually due for a follow up until next month for my Thyroid.
I went back into the online portal to ensure I wasn't crazy and had it checked in February like I had thought. Sure enough I had, BUT my TSH level was 4.11 (reference range now noted as 3-4.5) and my medication remained the same. In a quick google search (dumb move #3) I am reading that TSH level shouldn't be above 3 for all things related to fertility.
So I called the doctors office back and the first appointment they could give me was July 25. I asked if I could see another doctor and she said "We don't do that anymore". I very politely, but very forcefully explained that I was undergoing a VERY expensive out of pocket IVF procedure at the end of July and my thyroid level HAS to be NORMAL. She told me to call back at 7am to try to get in for a cancellation. When I asked if that didn't work she said to let them know and the doctor could give permission to be seen by another doctor.
Even if I am seen tomorrow and get my medication adjusted, I am scared that it will be too late and that I have blown it. I do see God's hand in bringing it to my attention as my GP doesn't know we are undergoing IVF and I don't believe my RE tests TSH because I have a diagnosed "controlled" thyroid condition. I just hope that it isn't too late to get things back on track... ETA: I messaged my RE after venting here and they already called me back. They can't change my meds, but they can run the blood test for me and those results could be shared with my GP to adjust my meds. Mini victory!
My mock transfer was a success! My uterus is regularly shaped (in case anyone was wondering) and all was clear., Also, my years of teaching paid off because I was able to keep my full bladder (as required for transfer) from killing me during the 30+ minutes of my RE running behind. He and the nurse were very apologetic and both let me know that it didn't have to be "as full" for the actual transfer. BTW Did you know the average bladder holds 1.5-2 cups of liquid? I learned this little factoid while I was waiting and regretting the 12 oz. caffeine free diet coke I drank on my way over since I just HAD to pee before I left the house.
My box of meds arrived yesterday morning (minus the progesterone). It was much smaller and less intimidating then many of the pictures I have seen online. Those stimming meds must make up the bulk of them. One point for having rotten eggs!
I started my Lurpon last night. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be la-did-da about injecting myself in the stomach in my own home, I would have told them they were crazy. However, knowing that it is much less than what other woman have to endure (oh yeah, and the fact the next set of injections go in my a*! and are supposed to hurt like a mother) made my tiny needle to the gut easier to handle.