Thursday, May 24, 2012

in finem

My sincerest apologies for the delay folks.  Things have been... well... I'll explain.

I last updated after the retrieval.  Full of hope, I hung out and waited for the pain to subside.  12 beautiful eggies!  That's what I had and that was enough.  One hopes for around 20 or so but 12 was what I had and I wouldn't have had that much if my right ovary hadn't decided to do some work for a change, so I was happy.  The doctor said they'd call me the next day with a report, so I was quite pleased when the embryologist called me the same evening with an update.  While waiting after the retrieval, the RE let me know that they would be using standard fertilization on all the eggs.  This didn't please me as I had just heard a friend go through the same thing only to find that standard fertilization seemed to be a problem.  In some cases, the sperm cannot penetrate the egg sheath and I didn't want to chance it.  So, when the embryologist came in to discuss my eggs, I relayed this concern and she agreed.  She also took it a step further, as I had requested ICSI on at least half, she did the procedure on all of them.  The report was decent.  Of the 12 we had, 10 were mature.  Hey... ten's a nice, round number, right?  Well, of those ten, four apparently "didn't like being poked" and "went dark" right after fertilization.  Disappointing but still... I had six left!  Plenty!  Six beautiful embryos!

The following day, I received another call.  Unfortunately, we lost two more embies that day.  They just didn't cleave.  Well, these things happen.  I'm not going to say I wasn't considerably disappointed.  However, I think I did a fantastic job of thinking on the bright side.  I still had four left!  Four beautiful embryos!

Then they mentioned a day 3 transfer.  This was everything I was trying to avoid.  Only three days of development?  How would they implant?  How would they be able to tell which were the best to use?  Oh well, no arguing here.  Transfer day had arrived and luckily I felt better day of and I was as excited as I could possibly be.  I would be carrier for our embabies today and I would be as close to pregnant as I had ever been.

The transfer was similar to an IUI but with a few, annoying differences.  First, we were still in the lab so the booties and hot, hot, blue hair hat went back on.  You have to have a "comfortably full" bladder.  It also took longer... and hurt more.  There was something very "pinchy" about the speculum they used and they use a larger catheter so they can insert it into the right position and slide the catheter with the embies inside it so they're jostled as little as possible.  Before we got started, the doc went over the state of our four remaining embies.  All were grade B.  There were two six celled embies and two had progressed to 8 cells.  Obviously, the latter were the two that were transferred.  I didn't get pictures of my embies but I did get to see them floating out of the catheter and into my waiting uterus.  It was really, really amazing.  Adam was allowed in the room to witness all this as well, which I was very happy for.  Then, giddy as a goddamned school girl, I was wheeled back into the prep room to hang out for 45 minutes.  Adam was also quite excited.  At one point, he even came over and put his ear to my uterus.  It took everything I had not to start crying.

Now... with that... before you think I'm a big gushy pussy, lets put this into perspective a bit.  I'd never experienced morning sickness... never had sore boobs... never had a weird, metallic taste in my mouth and never had odd smelling pee (which is apparently a sign or something).  I've never had a positive pregnancy test... and I've taken over a hundred (give or take 10).  I have seen two lines once... but only just after my trigger.  So... I'd never been able to have my husband lovingly put his head to my belly and listen.  I'd never placed my hand over my womb and waited for a kick.  I'd never been pregnant at that point.  So this was a big fucking deal.  I put my hands over them, I sang to them, I read aloud to them.  I loved them.  I waited for them to grow strong and implant and I planned their lives.

The transfer was Saturday.  The remaining two embies were left in the incubator to reach blastocyst stage and prepare for freezing.  They never divided again.  They were still only six cells on Monday, two days after we found out they were six celled to begin with.  This was quite a blow.  I had no back-up plan.  Adam and I had already decided to only try a fresh cycle once and this meant we were working on our only shot.  That was a tough pill to swallow but it didn't hit me as hard as I had anticipated.  I thought I'd be devastated.  I think I had enough optimism left to move past the thought of needing them.  That, and part of me was a little relieved that good or bad, it would be over soon.

Then, the two week wait.  I dreamed, and googled, and planned.  Many times, I could be heard saying something that started with "when the babies get here".  I finally signed up for that Babies-R-Us registry and settled on a crib.  I went to JoAnne's to pick out material for baby stuff and figured out how I planned to fix the nursery.  Somewhere in there, I added up the days to test and found that it fell on Mother's day.  This scared the shit out of me.  I didn't want Mother's Day to be ruined forever... but I couldn't think that way.  10DPO fell that Saturday, so I could test then... but that seemed too early.  12DPO (Monday) seemed too late.  By the time the weekend came, Sunday just made sense.  If it was negative, it would be ruined forever anyway so I didn't see that it mattered.  Saturday night, however, I got scared enough to take a friend's advice and test Monday after work.  I went to sleep resolved to not pee on or in anything not permanently plumbed to the house.  But, in true "fuck me" fashion, my body had it's own plans.

I woke up around 5:00 AM in horrible pain.  I imagined that this was what labor must feel like as I struggled not to scream.  My mouth gaped but made no sound.  I didn't want to wake Adam.  I went to the bathroom and used it, not even thinking about testing.  I wiped to find bright red blood and a clot.  I think I may have cried in the bathroom for ten minutes or so before getting my shit together and going back to bed.  I woke back up at ten and tested.  Negative, as I assumed.  I cramped and spotted throughout the day and I knew, on Mother's Day, that I would never, ever have a child.

I didn't tell anyone but Adam as I didn't test with first morning urine and didn't want to have people ask me if I was positive without being so.  My mom ended up texting me that afternoon and I told her it didn't work, and that I didn't want to talk about it.  She gave the rest of the fam a head's up and for the most part, it was quiet.  Adam kept me distracted.  We played MineCraft all day and I resisted a break-down.  I tested again Monday morning.  It was official.

I still haven't really broken down yet.  Like can't stop crying, tears enough to flood a village, break down.  I know it's coming though.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Retrieval

I'm already further along than this right now but I think it does the situation better justice to break this up a bit.  I've been incapacitated for about a week and otherwise unable to update.  Let me explain.

My super silly unicorn, cupcake and robot
lucky socks... complete with super special
blue procedure room booties.
As we already knew, we went in for our egg retrieval on Wednesday (May 5) morning.  We got there and waited for a few minutes before the doc came to usher Adam to the jack-off room so he could do his part.  He returned and a few minutes later, they came back to get the two of us.  The lab and procedure rooms were on the other end of the floor so we walked down several halls before coming to the prep room for IVF.  A very good friend of mine sent me a pair of luck socks I donned for the occasion.  Other than the socks, I undressed completely, gown open in back, and waited, giddy, for them to go over the procedure.  Anesthesia came in to go over medical history and to put in the IV.  Then... it was off to the clean-room.

I call it a clean-room because it's part of a fucking lab and that's what you call it.  I know this because I sell the industrial fans that create a positive pressure in the room so the germs from the outside don't get inside.  That's why there's a "whoosh" of air when you open the door.  ...  I'm rambling.  Anyway, this room felt cold and scary.  Not at all the inviting, or at least comfortable, rooms I'd grow accustomed to.  Luckily, I was only awake for a few minutes.  The middle of the room featured the standard OB, short ass "could you come down just a bit more please" table that we've all got paper stuck to our asses (or worse!) on before.  Only this time, there were large metal bars holding u-shaped padded leg-holsters as I have dubbed them.  These things will expose areas of your girly-bits you've been trying to hide for years.  If you have the opportunity to get a Brazilian before hand... I strongly suggest you do as it absolutely will be on your mind.

Anyway, they put the oxygen tube up my nose and burrito my ass to the table in a blanket fixed with clamps so my arms don't fall to the side.  This was awkward and the closest thing to a straight jacket I hope to ever come.  Then I remember mumbling something about being good and high, the anesthesiologist piping "that's me!" me and the nurse telling me not to fight it.  I woke up still high but back in the prep room.

They nearly immediately told me we managed to get 11 and while I was upset, I tried to stay positive. Adam joined me shortly thereafter and the embryologist popped her head in later to let us know she'd call me with a report and that they found one more!  We waited for the anesthesia to wear off before getting dressed and going home.  We stopped by Sonic on the way home to celebrate a job well done.  This was the worst mistake EVER!

Of all the research I've done on this... of all the countless talks I've had with doctors and women going through it I have never been given the single most precious portent of advice I wish I would have received.  Ladies, I blame this on women's inability to discuss their asses and shitting schedules with their friends... and frankly, I am also to blame.  I can get down-right irritated when people talk about such things as such things are not polite in 99.9% of conversations but in this case... an exception should be made.  So I'll make it.

Ladies... if you're going through IVF... DO NOT EAT LIKE A RABID COW BEFORE OR AFTER YOUR RETRIEVAL.  From what I've been able to piece together from the myriad of folks who have said "Yeah... that happened to me too" recently, I've discovered that the anesthetic shuts your fucking digestive tract down.  The whole fucking thing.  My stomach stopped processing food.  My intestines stopped moving it along.  My ass... well... you get it by now.  I was miserable.  All the cramps and the blocked everything and the sour stomach, all coupled with the fact that my RE had to beat the hell out of my right ovary to get it where he needed it to be and then sent the goddamned big-ass needle straight through my uterine muscle 6 or 7 times for good measure, made it to where I couldn't even sit up by the time I'd managed to snarf down one Sonic cheeseburger.  Pain pills... did, not, help.  Laxatives... made it worse.  Prunes... may have done something, I really don't know.  All I know is, I missed 3 days of work and was thanking Jeebus that I felt better for the transfer.

The transfer, however, is for a different entry.  As far as you know... I went home on Wednesday with 12 beautiful eggies all the hope (and bloat) in the world.

It didn't keep.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Trigger Happy!

Well folks... I've done it!  I've taken the plunge and there's no getting scared shitless and turning back now!

My second follie scan (last Saturday) was a bit of a bummer.  The nurse that did the scan (the doc takes the weekend off!) was hell-bent on bursting the hot air balloon of hope that I'd created for myself.  We only had 12 to 13 follies and she wanted to make sure I was very aware that of those follies, not all of them will yield eggs... and of those eggs, not all of them will fertilize... blah blah blah.  I felt like kicking her in the teeth.  Yes, thanks, I'm well fucking aware of my chances for failure here.  I know we may not have any to freeze and I may get a BFN or worse... a BFP with a miscarriage.  It's eyes wide open in my camp so fuck off and quit trying to bum me out!

Phew... sorry about that.  Hormones are kicking today. 

Anyway, my last scan (yesterday) was much better.  The doc was back and he said we had 8 follies at over 18 mm.  Somehow, even if the number was smaller, the fact that they were the right size was very comforting.  The number of follies isn't as telling as their size.  I could get fifty and if they're all immature, they won't help a bit.  I'm not saying I'm not still scared as hell.  There has been so much bad news around the forums the last few weeks, that I can't imagine how it would work for me.  But I'm trying to remember some very wise advice, which was to go into this without expectations.  The numbers don't really mean much.  You could get 20 eggs and one of them reaches the blastocyst stage.  You could get 7 eggs and all of them be perfectly viable, strong and healthy.  Even if you have some to freeze... they may not thaw.  Too many variables to worry about them all.  That's all any of us would do.

So... my advice to anyone going through this would be... try to take everything in stride.  Only get emotional about the facts... not the possibilities.  I know that's easier said than done but it's how to stay sane in this journey.

Anyway... the doc was pleased with my progress and said we were ready!  He checked my estrogen again to make sure and it was over 3000 (there was that stupid nurse again who wouldn't give me the exact count).  Your levels should be around 200-600 per mature follies so I was right on track.  No meds last night... just the trigger!  Ovidrel is a pre-filled, refrigerated syringe that is synthetic HCG.  It "triggers" your body speed up lining optimization and egg maturation.  It also signals your body to release any and all mature eggs in almost exactly 36 hours.  Now... I've wondered how, if all women are different, this works in exactly 36 hours to the point where you have to take it at a very precise time but whatever.  I may ask later.  Mostly, I don't care as I'm not going to argue it with them but I did wonder.  If anyone knows... comment away please.

So the big news... my egg retrieval is tomorrow at 8:15 AM.  Big fucking happenings here ladies (and possibly gentlemen)!  The only bad news I received isn't definite but apparently, my right ovary is the big producer (go fucking figure) and it's still hiding behind my uterus.  This means that in order for the doc to get to it, he'll need to move my shit around in there.  This may or may not work well enough for him to avoid sending the big, scary needle through my uterine muscle and causing more pain and a harder recovery than usual.  And to this... I say to my ovaries... challenge accepted!