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.

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.