Tag Archives: #fertility

Today I Ate a Burger

Of the veggie variety, of course.  No one panic.

This may seem like no small deal, but I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am about it.  Last Tuesday was the last day I ate somewhat normally, and that evening I started feeling very uncomfortable in the abdomen.  It’s been one rough week since & I wanted to offer an update here which I will try to keep brief.  It is quite detail-y, so no hard feelings if you want to skip this one.

I chalked it up to GI issues related to the meds.  Our transfer was Wednesday but by Thursday afternoon I was really struggling, with severe upper abdominal pain in addition to extreme bloating and was even having some shortness of breath.  I checked in with my doctor about these symptoms and she wanted me to go to urgent care, where they were concerned about my high heart rate and could not rule out a blood clot (which one is at a higher risk of on these hormones), and so they sent me to the emergency department.

After blood work and some concerning results there (i.e. high white and red blood cell counts), an EKG, and CT scan the blood clot was ruled out but they discovered fluid in my abdomen.  They gave me some good IV fluids and meds and chalked the heart rate and breathing issues up to related dehydration and the fluid in my abdomen pushing up on my heart and lungs.  We left around 1:30 a.m. & had an appointment at 7 that morning with Dr. C.  Three hours of sleep for us!  Hubs was a trooper through it all.

I’d also like to give myself a little tip of the hat…have you had a CT before?  They inject one substance in you that gives you a rush of heat throughout your body, then you have to concentrate on breathing normally which is harder than it sounds, then they inject you with another substance that makes you feel like you peed in your pants (but you didn’t) and then you have to hold your breath for ten seconds.  After signing a consent saying they will do their best to not harm a potential fetus with some hardy shields, if s/he has stuck around since Wednesday.  And of course all the while they are calling me pregnant which I’m both thrilled and terrified by.  In the IF community there is a slang term, PUPO, Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.  I suppose they were following this line of thinking, but I couldn’t help but correct them in my mind each time, They may just be all wrong.

Although my hormone levels and other tests were within the normal range and I didn’t have many of the symptoms for it (some lower abdominal pain but not severe, normal estrogen and albium levels, no problems urinating), the next morning Dr. C diagnosed me with OHSS (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome).

Some of my numbers had improved and I was able to force myself to eat and drink despite feeling so full that I didn’t want to, so we thought I was on an upswing and left it up to me whether they would “tap” me or not.  Tap = insert long needle into fluid pocket and drain it.  Because she thought I was improving and because it involved a rather long needle and the word “paracentesis,” I gladly declined.  She put me on a strict diet of high sodium and high protein foods and I ate my approximate body weight in dill pickle chips and guacamole (not together) in the subsequent days.  It was fun at first.

My abdomen expanded increasingly, however, and by last night it/I was gigantic, I really did not want to eat or drink, and it was very difficult to get comfortable.  Basically what happens is the hormones cause your blood vessels to become leaky, directing the fluid into your abdomen and around the uterus instead of to the kidneys.  This leads to the bloating but also to dehydration.  I broke down and googled OHSS and allowed myself one professional site (Mayo Clinic) and one lay site (some IF forum).  I learned on there that the full, pressured feeling can last 2-4 weeks, more if you’re pregnant, and that many people feel instantaneous relief from the tap.  Tap, it is.  There is just no way I could take this for much longer.

We went in today and — lo and behold — they drained almost 2 liters of fluid!   My apologies for the gross detail (I will tell you what it looked like upon request).  Also, because of the proteins in it, the fluid apparently is amazing for your garden but we politely declined the offer although we’d just gotten ours going this weekend.  The procedure was a bit painful, but not terrible and compared to all the IF involves and relative to the ongoing pain of the last five days, it was totally 100% worth it.  I highly recommend it for anyone with OHSS.  They also threw in some IV fluids, my first and third IV all in a week.  And I had room to eat a burger tonight!  High salt high protein, yippee!

Dr. C and the nurses urged me to take advantage of the window of feeling hungry because — get this — often the fluid comes back and additional tap(s) may be necessary.  They also urged me to wait as long as possible between taps.  The fluid can return in women who are not pregnant, but is even more common in women who are.  How will I not overanalyze this in the coming days?  One of the wild things about OHSS is that it is triggered by the hormone HCG.  This is the hormone contained in the Ovidrel shot that triggers ovulation pre-retrieval and also the pregnancy hormone, what the Beta test will detect to determine pregnancy on Friday.  Last Friday my HCG/Beta level was 7, so the Ovidrel was almost out of my system but not completely.  So there is a possibility that my OHSS symptoms weren’t resolving because I could in fact be pregnant — a possibility Hubs found assuring.  I was more skeptical.  However, I am a total freak and secretly hoping that the fluid madness returns.  Oh, the things IF does to you.

Lastly, neither of our two final embryos made it.  It still is so hard to believe, and hard to accept that we only got two viable embryos out of this process — especially after how awful the past week has been.  We are pressing on, though, and actually feeling fairly accepting at this point, although I fear that will all come crashing down if it is negative on Friday.  Of course we are praying like crazy for Friday and I’m hoping to have more energy to devote to that now that I’m feeling more normal.

Here’s something I got in the mail last weekend from my beautiful sis.  One of my mantras through IF and she made it into a canvas.  In our bedroom for now, but one day a nursery.

My sister is brilliant.

My sister is brilliant.

In honor of feeling a bit spunkier today, return of visual hilarity for you…

Reading for my Psychoanalytic Development class last Tuesday, the night before our embryo transfer.  What are the odds?!  Needless to say, I did not participate very much in discussion that night.

Reading for my Psychoanalytic Development class last Tuesday, the night before our embryo transfer. What are the odds?! Needless to say, I did not participate very much in discussion that night.

And Dozer the Dog — a fitter version of our little meatball, a YouTube video my sweet in-laws sent for entertainment over the weekend.

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For Today I am Pregnant

However short-lived, this we do know today.

We got a text from our doctor this morning letting us know that of the four embryos, two were healthy blastocysts, the other two were at earlier stages.  At the appointment I first had an acupuncture treatment (yum), then Dr. C and the embryologist came back and showed us a picture of the to blasts.  They were beautiful (in my humble opinion).  I asked why they were oblong — more like a figure 8 than a circle — and the embryologist said it is because they already have begun to hatch, even better!

The other two are still hanging on, but one seemed to be stalled in its growth and would not result in a baby, and the other they are going to let grow through tomorrow morning and then check in.  If it has reached blastocyst stage (they estimate about a 50/50 chance) we will be able to freeze it for a later transfer.  You know what I’m praying for.

So, in the end, having two healthy blasts, we decided to transfer one and freeze one for a later transfer.  Both Dr. C and the embryologist were fine with whatever we wanted to do but felt more comfortable transferring one.  The likelihood of either of them becoming a baby is the same whether they’re transferred at the same time or separately.  So transferring one does a couple things for us: it reduces our likelihood of multiples, it gives us more than one transfer (praise God!!), and the second transfer may even be slightly more optimal than this one because the uterine lining tends to be healthier when your body has not just undergone stimming and retrieval.  This second transfer could always even be for our second child down the road, if all goes well this go round!

All in all, the disappointment from the low fertilization rate has been quelled a bit and we are very grateful to likely get to have one other transfer from this IVF/retrieval process.  I have to admit, physically I feel pretty cruddy right now.  No one warned me how rough it can be post-retrieval!!  This is the worst part by far!  My ovaries will continue to be enlarged for another couple weeks, my digestion is whack thanks to the anesthesia and progesterone (which was so high it didn’t register on the clinic’s machine — just what they want to see), I’ve been sleeping terribly thanks to those symptoms and the side effect of the steroid, eating isn’t sounding so great but I’m guessing is kind of important for staying pregnant, and I overall feel like I just might pop.  Of course it is all worth it to give the little pearl babies a fighting chance but I will say I am glad I’m taking off the remainder of the week from work to rest and recuperate.

So tonight I am more pregnant than I ever have been (or known I have been) before.  Our embryo is with us, the beginning of a baby.  I’m imagining it continue to hatch and slowly make its way to a comfy spot in my uterus to hang out for nine months.  (We will know a week from Friday.)  I’m connecting with it and praying for him or her.  Trying to be at peace and in the moment in this emerging relationship.

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Today Commences My Leggings-a-thon

We did it folks.  First injection!  (100 IU Follistim, 75 Menopur.)  Our amazing friend Monika came over to walk Hubs through it and they both did wonderfully.  Monika is a newer friend who has adopted me as her IVF friend after she saw the process through for our mutual friend Laura (referenced in my last post).  She is the sweetest and so generous with her time and listening and baking skills just because she wants to offer support and because she is addicted to hope.  She is the epitome of how to be a good friend to an infertile person (maybe I’ll have her write a guest post on the topic sometime.  You up for that, Mon?).

I used to be nervous about the injections but thankfully I’ve gotten over that-ish and now I’m just really eager for our first monitoring visit later this week.  I know the next few days I’m going to be thinking, “What is going on in there?”  I’m feeling good about it all and ready to get this show on the road after all of the waiting and preparing.  I’m sure there will be many emotions and not all so optimistic, but I’ll take the good cheer for now.

Speaking of good cheer, leggings are my comfort clothing and what I plan to unapologetically don for the duration of stimming as my ovaries progress from almond-sized to peach-sized (according to the nurse at our training last week).  Except for going to work, which I think is lame that I have to continue doing, but, whatever.  Yesterday was Hubs’ birthday and so I wore my tightest pants possible out for our night on the town with our buddies, bidding them farewell for the next couple weeks as we welcome the peaches.  And hopefully for longer if this all works out.

I’m going to try to blog daily-ish through IVF with brief updates, and they probably won’t be very profound, I’m just accepting that now.  But I think it’s worth chronicling a bit of what a couple experiences in this process.  I’ve also decided to include in each post some form of hilarity procured from the internet because of its power to help me step back from IVF tunnel vision.  Feel free to share any that you love in the comments section; that would make me really happy.

Happy Lenten season!: 

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Today I’m Opting for Dandelion Tincture

In my last post I lamented about the digesting bitterness of dandelion tea.  Well my acupuncturist also recommended dandelion root tincture (those little drops you put in water) and — lo and behold — it barely tasted like anything!  In fact I’ve faithfully partaken (if that’s a word) most nights since then.

I’ve been noticing lately that things can seem really crappy initially, and overwhelming and impossible, but with time perspective comes and things seem to work out or at least feel more tolerable.  I have a way of working myself up initially, as if I need to worry and be wound up in order for things to make the best decision.  What if I took this laid-back, I will be okay no matter what attitude from the get-go?

Now, I’m not saying infertility isn’t serious or is something to be minimized or simply mentally overcome.  I’m just wondering if sometimes I work myself up over things prematurely.  Today something stressful was beginning to happen and I told myself out loud, “It’s okay.  Whatever happens it will work out.”  This doesn’t mean it will be easy, and — I won’t speak for you, but for me — what I have in my head tends to be way worse than it actually plays out.

Of course this switcharoo happened with the dandelion root, but I’m also beginning to notice it with other things.  Like the idea of taking a few months off before we start IVF.  As I thought more about this option last week it felt impossible, unbearable to wait.  Any.  Longer.  (Reference: Phil Davison video, watch it all but especially 2:45-3:10.)  I’m beginning to think, though, that I would be okay and maybe it would even be helpful to give my body a break, use my lighter schedule for fun things and not appointments, not talk about IF all the time, maybe resume running a little bit.  And at the very least that if we’re a month in and time off does not equal a mental or physical break, that decision can simply be undone and we can schedule IVF for the following month.  Things aren’t always so permanent and dire.  I’m kind of tired of myself for always taking things so seriously.

Then there’s the family situation I referenced a while back.  I finally took the time to address it yesterday and, within hours, someone had responded expressing understanding in my point of view and is going to bat for me.  I suddenly feel completely free from taking responsibility for that situation.  It is still as rocky as I initially perceived, but it’s not up to me to carry the burden.  Similarly with work — if things don’t unfold in a way that works for me, that’s not the end of the world, I have other options, life goes on.  Not as bad as I felt to begin with.

I’m also finding myself more in the Christmas spirit, which I definitely did not see coming two weeks ago.  This will be our third Christmas trying to conceive, third Christmas certain we will have a baby by the next one.  I was struggling to muster up the energy to care about putting up the lights and tree, preparing for our annual cocktail party, even opting for NPR over Christmas tunes.  But this week I’m feeling more at peace, partaking in some Christmas cheer (elf yourself never gets old) and enjoying the excitement of buying gifts and putting out the Peanuts nativity scene.  My killer pandora station with melancholy Christmas songs doesn’t hurt either, you know, what with “Wintersong” being more fitting for an infertile at Christmas than “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.”  (Might I suggest Mindy Smith and Sarah McLachlan holiday as seed artists?)

For whatever reason, I’ve felt happy today unlike I have in several months.  A gift, I think.  An answer to the prayers of so many people who are pleading with the Lord for relief and a baby for us.  I’m enjoying a brief reprieve from it, however temporarily, and giving myself the permission to not have it fill my mind for a few moments.  So in closing, I again turn to Phil.

“Drastic times require — what?  {Drastic measures!}  Right!  Who said that?!  Yes!  Drastic times require drastic measures!”  Infertility is serious, IVF is certainly a drastic measure, but today I’ll choose the longer-term view.  And I’ll choose the tincture approach over getting all Phil Davison about it.

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Today I Made Google Crash

Well Anna Freud overlooked one key defense — excessive researching.

I’ve been on a research frenzy the last 72 hours and I’m quite certain that it’s my attempt to distance myself from the feelings, keep moving along, and create some illusion of control in this situation.  Nevertheless, now that I’ve broadened my searching to include the three little letters “IVF,” I’m coming across some rather interesting information that I thought I would share with you.  I’d love to hear from fellow infertiles out there about your thoughts on these links; I’m sure many of you know much more than I about some of these topics and I would love to learn from you.

There is an act proposing an Infertility Tax Credit for infertility treatment, part of the Family Act of 2011, which would be similar to the current adoption tax credit.  A tax credit approach rather than mandating insurance companies to cover IF treatment because it is more passable in our current political climate.  Check this out and write your legislators, please!

Similarly, did you know the Affordable Care Act could make infertility treatments more affordable?  We’d need infertility to be consider one of the “Essential Health Benefits.”  One thing that enrages me the most these days is that IF treatments and, thus carrying one’s own biological child, are considered a luxury and “elective” similar to cosmetic surgery.  I did not choose infertility nor did I do anything to bring it on.  I wish my health insurance would help me out as I’m dealing with this disease and believe that it should, but only 15 states have laws requiring any degree of coverage.  I see IF treatment as quite essential and not something that should be available only to the rich.  Again, write your legislators!

Cool organization out of RESOLVE (national infertility association) specifically addressing these and other legislative issues, the Center for Infertility Justice.  They track what’s going on, lobby for infertiles, keep us updated, and help everyone know what stye can do to get involved.

A “Self” magazine feature article on the silent suffering of many women with infertility, “Breaking the Silence on Infertility.”  I find it helpful in portraying some of the struggles of IF, particularly the financial burden and difficulty with social support.  May be helpful for some people who have difficulty understanding the toll IF takes.  This is also really convicting to those of us with infertility, calling to question our silence and challenging us to speak out so the disease gets recognition, which then leads to research dollars and direct emotional support for couples.  All of this has me thinking about how “out” to be as we move forward and what it looks like to be an advocate for myself and others.

Most of these links come from RESOLVE’s webpage, what a great organization.

I also have been taking the action approach on a more personal level.  Monday afternoon I spoke with our doctor and, after warmly and sincerely sharing her sadness over the IUI’s non-success, she shared with me our options for moving forward with IVF.  At this point Hubs and I have decided to move forward with this treatment recommendation.  There is a lot to work out, like where the $15K for the first round is going to come from, but we’re feeling like this is the best next step to take and all the while praying for God’s guidance and that He would stop us if this isn’t what He has for us.

We met with our pastor a couple weeks ago to talk through how we’re doing, our feelings and questions about IVF, and the countless decisions involved with this super involved treatment.  He was so calm and straightforward in this conversation and this brought me a great deal of relief and calm myself.  I think IVF gets so complicated and sensationalized with media and partial/mis-information, but the more I look into it the fewer ethical questions I have.  I feel very comfortable with the IVF plan we would follow and, as our pastor framed it, that in this process our heart is to be hospitable to life.  Hubs keeps getting caught up on how “weird” it all is, particularly embryos begin frozen until a later transfer date, but our pastor was quick to remind him that frozen embryos are about one point on the 100-point weird scale of a human growing inside another human.  Then he pulled out his theological booyah of the day, citing how Jesus was conceived apart from the act of sex.  Perfect.

Anyhow, we’re proceeding, and a step at a time.  We had about a day to decide whether we would start with IVF in December which would have required starting meds yesterday but would have coincided beautifully with the slow seasons at work, or whether we’d wait until at least January, taking some time off but probably having to shuffle work stuff around more for meds, monitoring appointments, retrieval surgery, transfer etc..  I printed out some monthly calendars and my trusty colored pens and had at it, a la Liz Lemon.  (PS — Has anyone else noticed all of the infertility references on TV lately?)

In the end we decided we need to recipe a little bit, figure out some finances, and even try to get excited about IVF rather than feeling like it’s another step to plod through.  So, for today, things are a little more in order.  In our heads and on our calendars, if nowhere else.

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