Is It Over Yet?

I’m 13 days deep in this process and 38 pokes down. It’s starting to get rough now. Emotionally, I’m trying to keep it together, but it’s rough. I have begun to feel like a pincushion, especially on ultrasound/lab work days. I go in, after having my husband just given me a shot, and since I have such poor veins, they poke and poke and my arms are all beaten and bruised. I look like a drug user, and I know its going to get worse. Today is my last day on the calendar they gave me, but I don’t know what to expect for the rest of the week. They are telling me my egg retrieval will more than likely be Thursday, and today is Monday, so I don’t really know how many more pokes to expect. I guess I’ll find out today at my appointment.

So, the pain from what these drugs are doing to my body is real. It started as a dull cramping and fullness, and now I full on feel like I’m in the beginning stages of labor. My uterus is cramping, I feel pain in my abdomen and my lower back is killing me. I’ve read a few things saying not to take Ibuprofen, so I’m trying to steer clear of it. I spent my entire Sunday laying on my back in bed. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to work and make it to Thursday for the retrieval. From what I’ve read, those symptoms are normal, and I just need to work through them. My injection sites are bruised and my middle child yesterday asked, ‘mama, what are those yellowy spots on your tummy?’ and when I told him he asked ‘but why are they yellow?’, and I had to explain the process of a shot going in my skin and causing pain and why a bruise would form. Hard to explain to a 4 year old. My tummy is in rough shape as I’m losing valuable square footage to poke it. Each shot feels different based on where it goes in and if it hits any of those pain receptors or not. Some shots I don’t feel at all, not even a poke, others make me jump. It’s weird.

Emotionally, I’ve had my moments. Sometimes I feel weepy, and down on myself, thinking about all the people who have had a boy, and a girl and how lucky they are. I get mad that I feel that I need to do this in order to get a girl, and other people didn’t even try and that’s what they got. I was in line the other day at the deli counter and a young woman (probably early 20’s) was in line in front of me. She had a baby girl in a car carrier in the shopping basket of the cart and she was sleeping away peacefully. I asked the mom how old the baby was and she said 3 months, we exchanged silly banter and I told her I had 3 boys, she said she wished her baby was a boy, but she got her instead. For some reason, that made me cry when I got home. Probably because of the pain I am going through for my dreams, and others just get it naturally.

They warned me of the Centritide injection making me emotional and angry, and I’ve only really experienced the emotional part, acting a little more down than normal. Until yesterday, where things got a bit, oh, how do you put it…screamy…lol. It all started normal, until I began doing laundry and I decided to change the baby’s changing pad cover and throw it in the wash, well, I’m in pain and can’t walk down the stairs all that easy, so I call down to my husband to throw it in the already started washing machine…no answer…he was just there, I’m calling and calling and nothing. I’m getting aggravated now. I make my oldest put it in the washer and there is hubby, I screamed at him that I had been calling to him and I needed him. He asked what for and when I told him, he clearly thought I was insane. But I was mad! I realize my level 10 blow up was unnecessary, but I felt angry in the moment and it is what it is. This basically happened all day, with him and the kids, then I asked him to run out and get me food from Ruby Tuesday and he didn’t want to go. I begged him to and he went, at 9pm on a Sunday night, when he was already exhausted from the kids all day. He pretty much is a saint, I’ll tell you that right now.

So, here we are, me in writhing pain, waiting for word on when these eggs can be removed and hoping to God I can work this week, because my vacation time is running a bit thin these days.

Halfway Point

Well, I’m currently on day seven of my stims. It’s been going pretty good so far. The first night, I took a Xanax to calm myself down because I was so scared of the first shot. When I couldn’t sleep, I just got up and got everything prepared and ready. My morning medicine is Gonal F. It comes in a predetermined pen-like shot. I just click the end to the correct dose and put the needle on the end. I checked the dose, to make sure it read 225, and set it down. I pulled an ice cube out of the mini fridge we bought to keep my meds cold. I placed the ice cube on my stomach, two finger widths from my belly button, just as the nurse instructed. I called my husband upstairs and after talking about it, I pinched my skin where he was to deliver the meds and I seriously didn’t feel it at all. It is a 29 gauge needle and is only 1/2 inch long, it’s really so small. I was impressed. I high-fived him and proclaimed ‘I got this!’

I expected the medicine in the evening to go the same. I got everything all ready, this time the shot is a bit different. I had to mix the solution with the powder and there are so many different pieces, I got flustered and frustrated and wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I had my husband double check what I did and he thought it looked right, so we did the same thing I had done earlier, with the ice cube, but on the other side of my stomach, as the nurse instructed so as to give each side ample time to heal before another poke. We cleaned the area with the rubbing alcohol pad and he stuck me. It stung. I was a bit disappointed, but thought maybe I did something wrong. I called the nurse to ask if I did something wrong and she suggested I use more solution next time, it might have been too concentrated. I thought that would make all the difference. But when I did it the following night, I added .7 ml solution instead of .5 ml, and it hurt again, and the needle was in too long, so we settled on .6 ml as the perfect amount, because it turns into .5 ml after mixing with the powder. However, it hasn’t stopped hurting, in fact, the third night, when my husband went to poke me, I jumped backwards and he just went in and stabbed me again, and I was so mad. It hurt and I was sore the rest of the night. We established he totally did it outside of the ice cube zone and I felt it, also we determined I can’t just be standing, I need to be standing with my back against the sink counter, so I can’t instinctively move backwards when poked. It’s taken some kinks to get everything worked out. I also think the Menopur, which is the pm shot, just hurts more because the needle is a 27 gauge, so it is thicker. I almost always have blood drip from that poke. I also have very minor bruising from that shot. But I showed the nurse my belly yesterday and she said it looked great, that some women have major bruising. I just have a bunch of poke marks and a couple faded bruises.

They take my blood at my ultrasounds and yesterday they poked me three times before getting a working vein. I had three different nurses try and that sucked, but nothing I’m not used to. My veins are very difficult to find and I often have to have blood drawn from my wrist or hand. In fact, when I was in labor with my first born, the nurses couldn’t get my IV in, I was poked over 35 times, between two anesthesiologists and the nursing staff.  The last anesthesiologist told me on the last try if he couldn’t get it, the IV was going in my neck. He finally got it, on my outer elbow. Talk about crazy.

This ultrasound was with my doctor this time, not a nurse, like last time. I was nervous because I read that they can tell how many follicles you will have at this time. He asked me how I was doing, and I told him I was nervous, he said, ‘what? about this?’. I replied, ‘Yes, you can tell how many follicles I will have this time right?’ and he said ‘Yes, but I wouldn’t be worried if I were you’. I laid back on the exam table and he began, and was talking to the med student he had with him. He was telling her how ‘beautiful’ my follicles were, and asked if I could see (even though the monitor was not facing me). I told him no, and he looked over his shoulder, saw there was no monitor yet (they just remodeled the office) and said ‘oh’ and turned the monitor so I could see it. He showed me all the follicles and said they look great. He estimated I have around 8 on one side and 12 on the other. I asked if that number will grow and he said no, that will be it. The pressure of the ultrasound and him pressing on my belly was uncomfortable. I was a bit crampy from it, and I took some Advil Menstrual Pain an hour before my appt. He said the number was good and told me not to worry, that he expected that for my age. He told me to wait on the third daily shot, until he sees me again tomorrow. He also told me not to continue the Xanax, which is a slight problem, because I didn’t take it last night and slept horrible. So, hopefully tonight is better.

Now my fingers are crossed and I am hopeful there will be a viable girl in the mix of those 20 follicles. Fingers crossed. Seven more days (possibly more) before my egg retrieval. I literally am taking this one day at a time. I cross off each shot as I go and keep my eyes on the prize, I got this, I am a warrior woman.

 

Anxiety is a Bitch

Well, I’ve started taking birth control pills, folic acid and pre-natal vitamins, it’s been a week and a half and currently I’ve been home with Hand Foot and Mouth disease (since one of my children brought it home to me, blech). I’ve had some time to stir in my own thoughts and get caught up in the vast caverns deep in the darkest parts of my brain.

It all started a couple weeks ago, when I noticed one of those gofundme links in my Facebook scroll. A casual scroll, turned me into a raging anxiety and fear nugget. Me, being a glutton for tragedy, I clicked on it and was saddened to read of someone in the community who had just died due to complications from childbirth. Scary, especially when your planning to have another baby, and it is always a risk. I internalized it and felt sadness and pain for both the victim and her widow and their new baby without a mother. I rationalized it, and moved on, only to see another friend post about her later that same night, at this point, I put together that people I know, know her. It makes me more sad, and fearful that it hit so close to home, so to speak. Then, I see a post on the social media site, Nextdoor, about her and I realize she lived in my city, which isn’t that big of a community. Then, the next day, I saw a news article about another woman in another city who died the day after giving birth. Might this be one of those situations like when you decide you are going to buy a car, and you pick the make, model and color and then you end up seeing a million of the exact same thing on your commute to work, leaving you thinking wow! I swear there have never been that many white Chrysler Town and Countries before ever! What gives? It could be…just one of those situations where you are hyper alert for that subject and you are seeing it everywhere because of your acute alertness to it? Maybe…or is it a sign? Hard to tell right? Both of those tragic stories are so sad, and I became engulfed in overwhelming anxiety and fear on my end about having another baby. Will that be me? Will my labor be okay? I began researching how the woman in my community died, which of course made things worse, thinking about if she was in pain, thinking of her husband feeling helpless, all of the what ifs and whys, and I personally don’t even know this woman, or her family…just a few friends (really more acquaintances, as we know the Facebook world really is). After reading all that, my anxiety is now through the roof. I find ways to talk myself through it, thinking about how there is likely more chance of being killed in a car accident on my way to work than that happening to me and how I can’t stop living life in the fear that I may die. Then I think about finding peace knowing that when my time is here, it’s here, but hoping that it’s not my time and knowing I will fight for it if I have the chance. I am a fierce warrior woman and I will not be leaving this lifetime any time soon. Easier said than done though…because fear and anxiety are real. And debilitating.

A few days into my stewing and after I had read all that stuff…I went to my massage therapist for a massage. This is a woman who is a dear friend of mine and has been a dear friend of the family for almost twenty years, and she knows what I am about to embark on, the journey of the injections and all of the IVF process. I asked if she could do some reiki on me to calm me down a bit. I told her of my mounting fears surrounding the injections and the pain that it will be. I told her about those women who died and how I’m afraid of dying during childbirth. I asked if she could help me find calm and squash my fear and anxiety, and of course she said sure!

Now, let me preface this story with the fact that I want to believe in this type of holistic healing, but I’m resting somewhere on the fence between believing and not believing.  I can’t say I have proof that anything works, but I’ve had too many experiences where things have happened to prove to me that something is not going on. It’s not something I can explain.

So I take my clothes off and lay down on her comfy plush table, she begins massaging my back. We typically talk and catch up, but this time I remained quiet, following her lead because I figured she was doing something in regards to the reiki. I really didn’t know what to expect or if I would feel something, or anything really. Thinking back, she’s probably done reiki on me before, but it was years ago and I couldn’t remember what it was like exactly.

I’m laying there on my stomach, quietly, thinking about my fears and out of no where I get this vision in my head. I’m talking, a crystal clear, vivid, amazing vision pop into my head and I cannot shake it. With details down to color and texture, bright and in focus. I try to tell myself it’s a coincidence and I conjured it up out of somewhere, even though I was fully awake and alert. I asked my friend what she did exactly and told her of my vision, I asked if she did that and she said that I did it, it was my imprint, but that she gave me the energy to create it. That reiki was her transferring energy into me to create a vision to help me. She said she focused on the word ‘movement’ to help create a constant ‘movement’ of these fears to come and go. This is how I know it works, because with that being said, if I would have ‘created’ anything involving movement, I am sure I would have conjured up something with water, being that it is where I feel the most comfortable, and at peace.

She explained how I conjured up this vision as my imprint to go to instead of letting the fear and anxiety take me away. It totally makes sense.

My vision was beautiful, it was a beautiful grassy meadow, one that had rolling hills and was surrounded by dense forests. The stalks of grass were tall, about 24″ and had the fuzzy wheat-like ends. Mixed into the grass were light purple wildflowers and the wind was blowing ever so slightly to create this movement (there’s that word). The wind was blowing the grass into a wave-like pattern, similar to going to a Michigan football game and being in the stands. It was fluid and gentle. I was in the grass, kneeling, in a white hippie-like flowing dress and my hair was down, long and wavy, with a thin white headband wrapped around my forehead matting my hair down. I had a small brown leather pouch, it was tiny, very similar to the one in Jack and the Beanstalk, the one Jack had put his coins in, it had a leather drawstring. Just then, a bald eagle came soaring through the air and landed right in front of me. I put the pouch, which felt weighted, in the eagles beak and it nodded at me and flew away with it.

From this vision, I see the bag as obviously holding my fears and the eagle is literally taking them away. But why an eagle? I googled it a bit and found this: Eagle(s) teaches us to courageously face our fear of the unknown, so we are then able to fly as high as our heart’s joy can take us. Your strengths need to be utilised wisely and remember, to soar like Eagle you must view things with caution, being confident and trusting your abilities. The bag felt weighted, which means I had a lot to stuff in there.

Interesting to think I conjured up this vision and even more interesting to realize the peace it brings me to think about it. It was far too vivid to have been some sort of daydream. This is why I can neither prove nor disprove the effects of reiki.

Now, it’s been a week and a half since I had this vision and now I’m home alone, in my own thoughts and I decided to watch a couple videos on the pharmacy’s website, to show how the injections go. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched them, because I’ve been a ball of mess thinking about the pain of the needles. I’ve googled other peoples blogs and read questions about how much it hurts, and while reassuring the pain isn’t that bad, it’s still pain. It leads me to ask, how much pain can I tolerate? I’ve had three children, ranging from vaginal birth, to labor and emergency c-section to planned c-section, I underwent a breast reduction which left me in terrible pain for weeks, I’ve suffered from chronic back pain most of my adult life and I suffer from IBS, which is related to stress and anxiety, so, I am no stranger to pain, and discomfort. Can I handle the weeks of needles? Will it break me? Will I be brave and strong and pull through for this?

Should I cave in and scrap the whole idea? Is this the right thing to do? I think about all the women who have undergone IVF to have a baby and I think about how they wanted a baby so desperately, they were willing to undergo this for that, but I’m different, I don’t need it, per say, I can do it on my own. But the reality is, I’m not different, we are the same. We desperately want something we don’t have and we will go to any length possible to get it. I am strong, and I will get it. Suffering through the anxiety and fear, one day at a time.

Lets Get This Party Started

So…after the past week of freaking out about what I was going to have to pay for both the IVF itself and all the medications, not to mention, also trying to figure out where I am going to get all my meds from, I now can relax, as everything seems to be coming together.

I heard back from my doctor that the pre-determination letter came back from my insurance saying they were covering my IVF procedure, less the cryogenics (freezing of eggs) and the PGD testing (the genetic/gender testing). We already knew they weren’t going to cover the PGD testing, as most insurances don’t cover any genetic testing, so we have been saving our pennies (unfortunately a lot more than pennies, ugh) and we knew we had enough to cover that portion. The cryo/freezing part isn’t that expensive, so we will add that to the multiplying tab. What a relief though, to know that the IVF will be almost completely covered! Whew!

What we were told at the doctor was that most often times insurances don’t cover the cost of the meds, which can exceed $9000! I knew that from most blogs I read online prior to beginning this. Although, I thought it was more like $4000, not $9000! We were told that if our insurance doesn’t cover the meds, we have the option to order from overseas in England because it is much cheaper. I waited nearly a week, going back and forth with different pharmacists about all of my information and the many drugs needed to begin the process. Bless this woman at the one pharmacy, because she stayed on the phone with me, reading every single medication and spelling each and every one out with doses and amounts needed for me to write it all down. We were on the phone close to 1 hour! I wanted to calculate how much it was going to cost me to order from the online England website.

After I input all the drugs I could on the website from England, my shopping cart totaled $4000! And not all the drugs were able to be added! The worst case total (if insurance for sure didn’t cover anything was going to be $7850, so I knew that was worst case). I frantically called the doctor and asked what I do about the other drugs and she told me I needed to pay the US prices and get them here, because the England company didn’t have supplies of everything. More freaking out was happening on my end! I am filled with stress, and I’ve begun stress eating, which is not good for me to do…ugh, but then, the call came through, it’s the pharmacy calling, my heart is beating out of my chest and I’m totally sullen figuring out how we are going to manage to pay for this, when she informs me all the meds are COVERED!!!!! Yes, you read that right, they were all covered! I could not believe it! I actually teared up a bit and told her what amazing news that was, when she replied how good it felt to deliver good news for a change, which makes me forever grateful of my employer for considering this a worthwhile benefit. I had to pay my co-pays, which were hundreds, not thousands and I was able to pay using my flex-spending card, which was a complete and total relief. Especially since I got the Folic Acid from the pharmacy last week and that wasn’t covered, and I had to pay $32 for one container of pills!

Anyways, that about catches you up on the important insurance info and now, today is the first day taking the birth control pills, pre-natals, and the folic acid. And guurrrrrllllls, you know I am not going to be taking a freaking horse pill for my pre-nates, so I got some equivalent yummy gummies, only caveat, adding them into the daily calorie count. Booooo…

Initial Ultrasound & Blood Work

After meeting with the doctor originally, I was asked to get blood work done to see what my AMH (anti-mullerian hormone levels) were. So I went to the lab and was strangely excited to get this done. I hate needles, but really, who LOVES them anyways? But on a different level, I was excited to get the blood test to sort of test myself for what was to come. If I don’t die, lol, or even shed a tear, this is going to be okay. So I get checked in and wait for my name to be called. The woman who called my name was a bigger woman who looked a bit rough around the edges. I remember thinking last time I got blood work, that she was more than likely not going to find a vein (since it’s rare to find a vein on me on the first try) and she probably wasn’t going to be nice about it. I also, remember her proving me wrong on both accounts and teaching me a lesson in judging a book by it’s cover. Not only did she find a workable vein on her first try, but, also, I barely felt a thing. So, when I got her again this time, I thought, thank goodness! She found the vein and got it all before I knew it. Now, I know to look for her next time.

I eagerly waited for my results. I had the blood test initially three years prior when we were trying to decide if we wanted to have another baby naturally or go through the IVF process to have a girl. At that time, I knew I wanted four children and I knew if we had a girl for the third one, my husband would say we were done. So I gave the natural way a shot, which is how we got the third boy, ugh/lol.

I got the results of my currant blood work/AMH, and the numbers were better than the test three years ago. So, basically, I truly am getting better with age. Hahahaha. The doctor said he was pleased with the numbers. Don’t quote me on this, and next time I go in, I will get the exact numbers, but I think my AMH level was 3.5 and now it’s 4. Anything over 3 is considered good, according to my doctor.

At my consult a few weeks ago, when I asked my doctor if I would need a uterine sounding, he replied yes, and I was worried for days about how much it was going to hurt. I kept reading stuff on the internet to tell me how painful it is and what to expect. I asked a friend who had the same doctor if she did it and if it hurt. She said she didn’t remember getting one and she said if she did, it probably wasn’t painful if she doesn’t even remember it.

I took three Advil Menstrual Pain tablets 200mg and hoped that would be okay. I got to the office and when the doctor asked how I was, I told him I was nervous and he asked me why, I told him because I read uterine soundings are painful, and he said, “oh, you’re not getting one of those today, we don’t do those. You’re just getting an ultrasound today, no need to worry.” Well, dangit doc, if only I knew, I wouldn’t have spent the last week worrying…lol

I thought to myself, what a dummy I was, lol. Thank god I was wrong, but at least I was prepared. Hahahahahaha. So I had my vaginal ultrasound, which is just a wand with a camera they stick in your vagine and get a better look at your uterus. No biggie at all. He looked around and saw my ovaries and uterus, looked at my scar tissue from my two previous c-sections, said everything looked good and gave me a diagnosis code for insurance.

After the ultrasound, the nurse met with me and informed me that my doctor, who I loved in the short time working with him, was retiring and I would have to chose a new doctor. I’m still bummed out about that, but I’m coming to grips with the idea of a different doctor. I looked up the new doctor and he is very well known in the community, so I have to trust he knows what he’s doing.

Now, I am just waiting to hear from my insurance to see what’s covered and what’s not, so we can begin. The first step is getting back on birth control pills, after my next period to regulate the egg count. So, since my next cycle is a week away, there’s still time to figure it out.

I am getting really anxious not knowing what will be covered and if we will be able to take on this journey or not. I’ve been working towards this goal for over a year, losing weight (50+ lbs) and mentally preparing for this process to start. Thinking of not being able to go through with it is stressful and scary. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The Beginning of the Adventure

Some would say I’m crazy. For many reasons, but mainly just one that is the most insane thing I’ve decided to do to date. I made the decision a year ago, that I would undergo IVF in order to have a baby. Why is this crazy you may ask? Many people decide this is the avenue they feel like embarking on to give them what they desire most; a child. Many people go through the agonizing pain and emotional turmoil IVF puts you through in order to hold a precious infant you call your own, to feel the tremendous gift of growing a life inside your body. The thing is, I have done that, three times now. All three times, I’ve been granted a boy. That’s three times the testosterone, three times the noise, three times the dirt, and bugs, and screaming. However, on the flip side, it is three times the hugs, the kisses, the snuggles, the deep rooted love between a mother and her son.

The problem isn’t my three boys, it’s my lack of a daughter. I’ve known deep within my soul I’ve wanted to be a mother most of my life. Such a great intense longing to feel that growing life inside my body, to give birth, and hold my precious child, that I created, in my arms. I always thought it would be a daughter. I thought her and I would bond and be inseparable, and we would always have each other. When I found out my first born was a son, I was disappointed, but knew there were more opportunities to have my daughter. When I found out I was pregnant again, after trying to conceive after my first borns first birthday, I was devastated when we miscarried. Never knowing if it was the daughter I longed for, or what that baby could have ever been was a hard pill to swallow. I immediately wanted a do-over and we conceived again as soon as we got the okay from the doctor. When I found out this baby was also a boy, and also had a birth defect, I was beyond upset. We moved past the birth defect as he grew within my womb and I had a very instinctual feeling to protect this little boy. He thrives today, but has obstacles he will need to overcome his entire life. When we felt it was time, we tried again, hoping to God, this was going to be our precious little girl. When I got a genetic test done in the first trimester, my doctor informed me it was another son. I wept on the exam table and couldn’t catch my breath. Just me and my doctor, alone, me sobbing, her trying to tell me how wonderful it was.

I retreated into my shell and became very thoughtful. Thinking of all the things I’ve been robbed of, the sheer disappointment and anger and sadness I had at the thought of another boy. I couldn’t possibly think of another boy name, much less two, for the middle name too. I couldn’t think of another boy nursery theme and didn’t want to go shopping for more boy clothes. I began forming an unhealthy hatred for the little boy baby growing in my belly. I didn’t talk to him much, didn’t feel any connection to him, he was just there. I thought the miracle of him being in there was amazing, but had no special feelings towards him, as my child. It wasn’t until he was born, I mean, the exact moment he was pulled from my body, that I felt such extreme love that I cannot describe it. It literally washed over me in warmth, I needed this child by me at all times. He was just perfect. The only explanation I have for that, is that it’s a God thing, all that manifested hatred turned into only love and wonderment for this little baby I now love so deeply.

I digress though, because, now, we are ready to have a fourth little baby, and my husband and I know that the odds are not in our favor. I know playing the cards and trying for the fourth will end in great sadness on my part and a deeper depression than the last three. That’s why we have decided to undergo IVF, and select the gender of the child. It is called family balancing and it is becoming more widespread. I realize I must be absolutely bonkers for dreaming of doing this, but it is more crazy for me to know there was an option out there for me to have a daughter and I didn’t utilize it.

So, here we are, I’ve had my consultation, and my initial blood work done. I am looking forward to my mid-cycle ultrasound to see where things are at in my body and get a better sense of what to expect.