Let The Injections Commence

So here we are, a week of giving injections to my tummy again. This time, not so great. I have begun getting ready for my egg transfer, which is a week from tomorrow. I began taking Aspirin, Estrogen pills, Estrogen patches, and Lovenox injections. The morning of the first shot, I woke up early and got myself all ready. My husband came in and was all ready for it, but I swear he needed practice again or something, because not only did the shot hurt, but I bruised so bad it looked like I got hit in the gut with a softball. I thought holy crap, there is no way I’m going to be able to do 120 of these bad boys. Especially since the injection site was sore to touch and felt like an actual bruise. Even though the nurse warned me of the bruising, she assured me they would not be painful, so I thought to myself how I’m not going to be able to do it.

I took to the internet and scoured pages and things that helped ease the pain of these shots and many people complained of the pain associated with them. In that moment I realized I put a rubbing arnica on my kids when they bruise and it helps every time, so I decided the next day I would try the arnica, which is a homeopathic gel that comes in a stick form that helps prevent bruising and swelling. It worked, no bruise. I also followed the advice I read about online, which was to apply direct pressure to injection site immediately following and then ice it again. So it was hard to tell, was it all of it combined that worked or just the arnica or ice? I began reading about arnica and there seemed to be a drug interaction with the lovenox, and I got worried, so I called the after hours nurse and she had never heard of arnica before, but looked it up and said it shouldn’t be a problem. She said she would check with my doctor and let me know his advice the next day. I never heard from them. I used it that day and the day after and then I read it wasn’t safe in pregnancy and I decided not to use it again since I will hopefully be pregnant in a week. I tried the pressure/ice method and it seems to work the same. Now, this isn’t to say the bruising has stopped, because it hasn’t, my tummy is a grid of bruises now, but at least they are just kind of tender, not painful. I am also very OCD about the location of the injection with it becoming a literal grid so I never go over the same area twice. I am also counting down each injection as I go so I can see how far I’ve come and have a visual for how far there is left to go.

I have had mild side effects from the estrogen, like my breasts are super tender, and they are getting fuller every day. My stomach cramps all the time, but mostly when I’m on my feet a long time or walking around. I have been extra hot, but that very well could just be me, because I run hot. And…I hate to admit the emotional side of things, but it’s there. I did have a little cry this past weekend and it felt good to just get it out. Oh, one more thing…and I’m tired…really tired.

So, now I have an ultrasound/bloodwork and lots of questions set for a couple days from now and then I start taking a bunch more medicine, including the dreaded progesterone in oil shots. I’ve prepared as much as I can reading how to help those go smooth, but it is just something I will have to figure out, I’m sure.

Why Fear The Unknown When It Truly Is The Unknown?

Why do we do it? We have a tendency to fear the things we don’t know about or fear the things we cannot control. It’s innate in us, we just have a hard time wrapping our brains around a feeling we have never experienced yet.

When I was told I was going to have to have a Hysteroscopy to remove a small polyp in my uterus, before my egg transfer, I thought, how in the heck are they going to get in there, without cutting me open? When I inquired, the nurse told me they go in through the vagina and in through the cervix. I asked how they open the cervix and she said they would prescribe medication to dilate it. Wait, hold the phone, I know what that means, that means you are going to give me medicine to act like labor, I’m no dummy. She assured me it would not be like that.

When I picked the medication up from the pharmacy, I had the name of it and made the cardinal mistake of looking up information about it online. I read pages upon pages of women’s stories that told of the horror this medication afflicted on their bodies. I read of nightmarish things that made me so afraid of the pain I was going to experience I got myself prepared for the worst. I got lavender essential oil for my diffuser, I got epsom salts for a bath if needed, I downloaded meditation apps, and looked up pain reliever videos on you tube. I was all set to hunker down and work through it all night.

When they called to tell me my surgery time was 2pm, I started tearing up. I asked the nurse, how am I going to make it that long in writhing pain? I won’t be able to do it. She told me it would not be bad at all and not to worry. Of course, I worry, because I haven’t experienced it myself so I don’t know.

The time came to insert the three Misoprostol 200 mg tablets into my vajayjay. I pushed them as far up as I could reach and laid down in bed to wait. The first hour went by, and I felt a twinge of pain for a second, I thought, oh god, it’s coming, and I waited. The second hour went by and no pain, the third hour went by and still no pain. Hmmmm…did I do it right? Based on what other people said I felt like I must have screwed things up. Either way, there was nothing I could do about it now. I stayed in a horizontal position for about 3 hours to make sure nothing ‘fell’ out when I stood up. Really, there was no pain, maybe mild cramping, like a period a little, but I’ve had worse periods. I did take the Tylenol and Ibuprofen as instructed and to the minute based on what my directions were. After the last dose of pain killers, I went to sleep, and I was able to sleep through the night.

The morning came and I still had no pain, I got caught up on bills, made some important phone calls, and just relaxed to get ready for my surgery. When we got to the office, we checked in and since we were 45 minutes early I figured it would be a minute, but nope, I literally was sitting less than a minute and they called my name. To the back we went, and before you know it, there are 5 people in this tiny little pre-op curtained room. I swear to God. I had three nurses, one to ask me questions (which was so confusing with everything going on), one to put my IV in (which I wanted to focus on so I didn’t scream or move from pain) and one to watch the one doing the IV because the one doing it was new. Then I had the anesthesiologist in there asking questions through the nurses, and my doctor came in. Holy mackerel. It gave me a little anxiety before everything. But I told the nurse since I was dehydrated and my veins are small it might be a challenge to find a vein. I expected to be poked at least twice, especially with this new nurse. But she got it on the first try. I thanked her for not poking me twice. Then they brought me this substance to drink, a little shot in a red plastic container. I asked what it was and they told me it was for nausea. The minute I smelled the sour smell I remembered it from my past two c-sections. It tastes like a lemon drop on acid and a deep medicine taste. It is horrible! When all calmed down, I was just waiting my turn in the operating room. My husband was in there with me, and he was playing on his phone and I read a couple articles in my magazine.

Before I knew it, they came in to get me. I walked to the bathroom to pee, and then walked right into the OR. It was the same table as my egg retrieval and they had me back into the table and they untied my gown and had me lay down, with my butt at the end of the table and my legs in these stirrups. They are massive cushiony stirrups and they are lifted up high, and they cradle your legs and strap them in. I gotta say, minus the breeze in my nether regions, it was pretty comfy.

The anesthesiologist put a blood pressure cuff on my arm and strapped my arms to the table. Before I even knew it, I was asleep. They don’t have you count down or let you know it’s going to happen, it just does, and you wake up 45 minutes later feeling like nothing happened at all. It’s the weirdest feeling. I chatted with the nurse once I woke up and I had little to no pain, just grogginess. They gave me Tylenol just in case there was pain and I was on my way. I was starving because I couldn’t eat all day and they gave me something for any nausea associated with the anesthesia, so my husband and I stopped and got some food on the way home. It hit the spot perfectly.

A few hours after getting home, I started to feel cramps in my uterus and it isn’t pleasant, but I took some Ibuprofen and I hope it stays pretty mild. So far, all my fears have been disproven. I hope that continues as I start injections back up tomorrow morning. In fact, the big dog drugs are coming out to play now. Tomorrow begins, Lovenox injection, estrogen patches, estrogen tablets, aspirin, and the antibiotic I’m on from the surgery today. A week after that I add Progesterone in Oil to the mix, another one of my great fears.

One more thing down, and I’m keeping my eyes on the prize. My sweet sweet baby girl.

The Waiting Game Just Begins

Well, I’m a couple weeks out from my egg retrieval now and I feel like it’s been an eternity. I felt really yucky the week after the procedure, like hard to breathe, move or do anything really. I ended up calling off of work and staying off my feet for five days after, and when I started moving around again, everything hurt. Wasn’t debilitating pain, but a lot of discomfort. After the retrieval they told me I would get the results right away for how many fertilized and then in a week I would get the results of the genetic screening.

The next day, I did get a phone call, to tell me that out of my 22 eggs that were retrieved, 17 fertilized. I was happy, but scared, I don’t know if that’s a good number or not, and truly, I only need one to be a girl, but what if there weren’t any? I anticipated getting another call in a week to let me know how many survived the five day grow-out stage, but I never got a call. I called the office and they said no results yet…waiting some more…called back…still no results. I’m getting antsy now. It’s been a week and half and I go on my first trip of the year to Beaver Island, MI. Just for the weekend, but nonetheless, it gets me the heck out of the mundane and worry. And it did just that, I was able to have fun with my friends and enjoy the beach and weather. It was just what I needed. Not to mention the fact I got some major signs from the universe not to worry.

So, a few posts back I wrote about my experience with reiki, and how I was so driven by worry and fear that it won’t work out that I was having trouble sleeping. I asked my massage therapist, who is a very dear friend of mine, to do some energy work on me. Not knowing what to expect, I was just lying there trying to relax, when a very vivid vision came into focus. Long story short, it was of me, in a field, with my hair down and a bald eagle came soaring down and landed right in front of me, I put a pouch in it’s beak and it flew away. That was metaphorically my ‘bag’ of worries and fears, that I just gave up and let the eagle take them from me.

So, fast forward to now, when I’m on Beaver Island, and my friend and I are walking around the little harbor area, and a bald eagle soars right overhead, so close to us. Not high up in the sky, not far away, 20 feet up in the air right above our heads. It was amazing! I was on cloud nine! I was like, is that a sign I don’t need to worry? I told my friends about the vision and they were all thinking it was a sign too and I relaxed a little bit. They were just as excited as I was to find out the news. Later that day, we were laying on the beach and another bald eagle was flying directly over us while we were resting. Soaring high above the sand and water. I watched it fly down the beach and land in a large pine tree, so I walked over to the tree to try to get a better look. It was so dense and dark I was unable to see anything. But I’m convinced those were signs from the universe to relax.

When I got back from my mini vacation I was searching for property on Beaver Island because it was so pretty, and I stumbled across a picture of a field with tall grass. It was the field from my vision. Almost exactly, only thing missing was the wildflowers and me. I took that as another sign and fell asleep excited to hear the news.

Two days pass, and now it’s been two weeks since my retrieval. I call the office because I thought for sure I would have heard something by now and they told me they got the results for how many blasts made it through the 5 day waiting period. I got 11 out of 17 that were strong enough to survive. Scared me. I thought well, that dramatically decreases my figures for a healthy baby girl. They still didn’t have the genetic screen done. I figured it would be another week, so I began patiently waiting for more news. I told the few people who knew and most were like, there has to be ONE girl, I mean the odds are in your favor. But then there were a couple who tried to poo poo it by saying, if you don’t get one, it’s okay, boys are just fine too. So, to me, that goes to show they truly do not understand WHY I’m doing this in the first place. Keep it positive people! Now is not the time to play devils advocate. And let me tell you, I’m a pro at that when it comes to advice and telling people what I think, but you have to know when the right time is to do that, and when someone is not in the place to hear that the alternative is a true possibility. I mean come on, you think I don’t think that 24/7? Sitting here riddled with worry, I mean seriously.

The next day I get a call from the office and it’s my favorite nurse. I say, ‘omg, do you have my results?’ and she says ‘yes, I do’. I asked her to hold on so I could go somewhere private in case I cry, because I was at work. When I was somewhere private I said, ‘I’ve been waiting so long and I’m so nervous’ and she said, ‘I’ll just cut to the chase and end your suspense, you have three girls!’ I said ‘Are you serious? Omg, I cannot believe this!’ and she ended up telling me of the 11 blasts, I had 5 healthy embryos, of the five, 3 are girls, and 2 are boys. Holy moly, for someone who has more boys at home, I figured the ratio would be a bit the other way. I started crying, I told her I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment and I am so excited. She got me set up with an appointment for a water sonogram, which my doctor prefers to do before I do a transfer.

I am currently on my birth control pill and I will be skipping my period next time to have this procedure. I’m scared and nervous and excited to start the next phase. It’s happening, it’s really happening! Yesssssssssssss!

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.

The Time is Now

Well, here we are, the night before I start my injections. The eve of the moment I’ve been waiting for for over a year. All this time preparing and researching and getting ready, and the time is now.

Man am I scared. I gotta tell you, I tell myself I’m a badass to get me thru the fear, but really I feel like curling up into a shell and hiding. I actually asked my PCP to prescribe me an anti-anxiety medication to get me through the next two weeks, because I’m afraid the fear will keep me awake at night and limit my ability to concentrate at work. I took my first Xanax last night, and I have to say, it definitely helped. I fell asleep smooth as butter, just off to dreamland, like you’re supposed to.

Let’s back up this train a little bit to give you guys some prospective. Last week, my husband and I went to the lecture the nurse at the IVF doctors office coordinates. It was my husband and I, another couple (who wasn’t 100% sold IVF was for them), and another couple (who seemed to be donating the eggs, but not undergoing the transfer themselves). I was nervous to learn more about the procedures ahead of me and as she began talking about how they go in and retrieve the egg, my heart is racing out of my chest. I seriously felt like screaming, right there in the office. Actually it was a perfect mixture of wanting to scream and cry all at the same time.

The nurse explained that at the time of the retrieval, you will be sedated, you count backwards from 10, by the time you get to 9 you’re out. Then the doctor goes into the vagina and uses a long needle to puncture the wall of the vagina and extract the eggs from the follicles. It takes 15 minutes and after you groggily wake up, you’re on your way. Oh and did I mention the part about my husband leaving a ‘sample’ in a cup while I am having that done? Yeah, hoping he can perform under pressure. Yikes. She said to expect cramping, and to take it easy the rest of the day…no problemo. After the lecture (as she addressed each couple and their needs during that time) I asked her if we could talk privately because I have a lot more questions. The other two couples didn’t have that many questions, so she finished up with them first. After that, she sat and talked to us at length for about 30-40 minutes. She listened to me cry, and heard all my fears, and talked me through all of them. She showed me all the needles and all the medicine and told me how to do it. She sat with my husband and taught him how to inject me and had him practice on a little foam block. He feels confidant he will be able to do it, and I am hoping to God he can, because lord knows I probably won’t be able to inject myself.

I came back to the office a few days after the lecture for my second ultrasound and some more blood work. We’re on 2 needles to date if we’re keeping track. The ultrasound seemed to take forever and I seriously feel like my ovaries are sore from it. Not to mention, my birth control pill ended Saturday, so Aunt Flow is due to arrive any day now. The nurse walked me through the injections again so I was clear. And after she took my blood she said the needles I will be using for the injections are three times smaller than the little needle she just took my blood with, and I gotta say, it hurt more coming out than going in. She told me tricks to help with pain and told me I would get used to it. And sent me on my way.

Now I lay here in bed, the night before this major life altering event and I am ready. I’m ready to take the bull by the horns and do this! I got this!

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.