Archive | February 2013

The nervous wait begins

I hardly slept last night. I could barely breathe. I’m incredibly bloated too.

The fertility clinic nurses are concerned this is the start of OHSS so I’m headed back to see my doctor today.

I’m trying to have lots of protein and drink Gatorade (the sodium is actually good for you in combating OHSS!) but I think I am starting to waddle like a duck which isn’t a good sign!

In better news, I spoke to the embryologist today. Of my 34 eggs 19 were mature and 11 fertilized! That’s great news! Better than the 7 Doug and I hoped for! We still have a whole cricket team haha.

They don’t pull them out of the incubators every day so it’ll be 48 hours until I get another update.

I almost feel like this wait is harder because it’s a process I’m not actually involved in. I can’t eat the right foods or take the right medications or do the right amount of exercise. This is entirely out of my hands. My little eggs are in the hands of scientists now, but even they can only do so much.

I just have to wait it out.

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IVF day 17 (egg pick-up)

The day has finally arrived. The day of egg pick-up in my first IVF cycle.

I slept extremely badly last night, lying still and thin and on my back (normally I’m a tummy sleeper) partly because I was in quite a lot of discomfort, but also because I was afraid if I rolled onto my tummy or even moved too quickly I was going to “knock an eggie out of an ovary”….

I had stomach cramps at about 7am this morning but was too nervous to go to the toilet, once again in case I dislodged some of my eggs. Doug caught me googling “can I go to the toilet after I’ve had my IVF trigger shot” which was kinda embarrassing.

We got dressed and drove to the hospital for our 10.30am admission. I made Doug drive like a grandpa the whole way. I didn’t care if I was taking things too far – I wasn’t going to risk anything with my little eggies! Doug confessed to me in the car that he was nervous. It was nice to finally feel like I wasn’t alone in the nerves department! My reponse was “I’m so nervous I could vomit!” which was in no way stretching the truth. I told him I hoped to get double figures eggs, voicing my opinion that the doctor’s prediction of twenty was way too optimistic but secretly thinking I might get twenty-two or twenty-three.

We arrived at the hospital and managed to get the third last park in the hospital carpark. We were extremely lucky because it was raining heavily outside and the next option was to park in the railway station carpark about four blocks away.

I kissed Doug goodbye and we went our seperate ways. I was to be taken to the day surgery clinic for my egg retrieval, and my darling husband was to go upstairs to the fertility clinic on level 8 and make his special “deposit.”

At the admissions desk, a nurse pulled me aside and told me when they were entering my health insurance details into the system the computer had flagged that I wasn’t covered for IVF. I immediately got a rush of blood to my head and managed to splutter something along the lines of “What do you mean? I confirmed all this with my health insurance provider before we signed up for IVF. I would never have started this cycle without insurance!” I wished very badly that Doug was with me. He was the one who knew about all the money stuff and I didn’t quite know what to do. The nurse remained very calm and told me she was going to go and phone my insurance provider to re-check my level of cover. After what seemed like an eternity on the phone, she turned to me and smiled and gave me a thumbs up. I let go of the breath I hadn’t even realised I was holding. We were back on track!

I was taken into the next room, asked a whole bunch of questions about my medical history and weighed on the scales. I was shocked to see I was five kilograms heavier than I was a month ago, and now up to 72kg. My all time heaviest. I tried to remain calm and remind myself that a bit of weight gain was worth it if I got to hold my baby in my arms at the end of this whole ordeal.

The Oscars were on today, so I sat and watched Hollywood ladies walking the red carpet in their fabulous dresses in the waiting room. Then, in keeping with the spirit of the day, I went and changed into my own haute couture – bright green disposable underwear, a hair net and one of those racy hospital gowns that don’t have backs to them.  Woohoo sexy!

Then I was taken to yet another room where I met with my embryologist for the first time. She was young and attractive with false eyelashes. Not at all what I imagined an embryologist would look like. I told her I was having extremely bad cramping pain down both sides of my body and worried that I was ovulating early. She seemed concerned and went to ask my doctor, who was prepping for the procedure. He came out a few minutes later. We talked about the pain and he assured me that it sounded like tension pain but not to worry because it was unlikely I had ovulated just yet.

As the nurses led me down the corridor towards the theatre (yep you get to walk there yourself when you’re doing IVF you don’t get wheeled in on a bed) a nurse said to me “come on down and let’s go shopping for some eggs!”

I laughed and said “let’s buy some good ones!”

I hopped up onto the table and the anesthetist inserted the needle into my arm. The nurses kept asking me to confirm my full name and date of birth (a sign of a good hospital) and then asked about my profession. I knew they were trying to keep me talking to keep me calm. I remember thinking over and over ok eggies just stay where you are for a few more minutes, Mummy is coming for you. Mummy is coming for you.

The anesthetist said “I’m just going to put some anti-nausea medication into your drip now. We need to give this a couple of minutes to work it’s way through your system before we put you to sleep. Don’t worry you aren’t going anywhere just yet.”

Straight away I just knew he was lying. I started to think to myself yeah sure buddy what kind of sucker do you take me for? and then I blinked and sure enough I was in the recovery room and the procedure was over!

There was a nurse helping me and asking me questions about how I felt. I told her I felt like vomiting so she sat me up a little in bed which helped.

“How many eggs did I get?” I mumbled through my drug induced haze and oxygen mask.

“Thirty-four.” she said, before walking away.

I drifted in and out of sleep for about half an hour and my thoughts were all over the place. Thirty-four eggs! That is incredible! Wait, no. She said four eggs. I only got four eggs. Or was it thirty-four? I think it might have been four. Oh shit I only got four eggs.

The next time the nurse walked past I asked her again: “How many eggs did I get?” She opened my chart and purused the pages.

“Thirty-four.” she said.

“Thirty-four?” I asked slowly.

“Thirty-four.” she repeated again. “No wonder you’ve been in so much pain, you’ve been carrying around three cricket teams inside you!”

My whole body became tingly with delight. THIRTY-FOUR EGGS! I thought to myself. I GOT THIRTY-FOUR EGGS I AM THE GODDESS OF IVF I AM GOING TO HAVE A MILLION BABIES AND THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. I AM GOING TO HAVE TO BUY TEN MINI-VANS FOR ALL MY BABIES!!!

“You should know,” the nurse continued. “That the ideal number of eggs to pick-up is fifteen to seventeen. You have more than double the ideal. Because you had so many eggs crowding your ovaries there’s a much higher chance they will be immature and there’s a possibility they won’t be viable.”

HOORAY HOORAY! THIRTY-FOUR GLORIOUS EGGS! Wait…….what? And that is when I came crashing back down to Earth. Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me! No one warned me about this! No one told me this was a thing! I stupidly assumed because we were doing ICSI that wouldn’t be an issue.

I sent Doug a text telling him the result. He was understably excited with thirty-four and texted his parents to let them know, even though I’d tried to explain that it wasn’t actually a good pick-up number. I received a text from his mother Kate a few minutes later saying “Congratulations! You’re a breeder! That’s enough for two football teams!” which I think was supposed to be a compliment. I also texted my own mother who responded “OH MY GOSH!! That’s THREE CRICKET TEAMS!!”

Seriously, why all the sporting team analogies here? No offence to Doug or myself but we’re not exactly talented athletes and I can’t imagine our offspring will be either. I highly doubt there were any sporting teams of any sort hiding out in my ovaries. I prefered to think of them as my little political caucus.

Eventually I was allowed to change back into my own clothes and given some food. I was also given a cup of tea. Real tea. With caffeine and everything! Bliss…..

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before in this blog that one of the recommendations they make is that women going through IVF severely limit or cut out caffeine. I decided I wanted to take this whole process really seriously so about a month ago I went off caffeine. It was a few days of awful withdrawal headaches, but it was worth it for my own peace of mind. But here I was in the hospital drinking glorious english breakfast and loving it.

The nurses from the fertility clinic came down to speak to me about twenty minutes later and said because of my extremely huge egg pick-up I am going to be monitored on a daily basis. They already suspect I’m already suffering from mild ovarian hyperstimulation and if I get any more ill or start vomiting they need to treat me immediately and I will not be able to have am embryo put back. At the moment I’m scheduled to have my embryo transfer on Friday.

Have I mentioned ovarian hyerstimulation syndrome? In laymans terms, when the eggs are taken from the ovaries, the now-empty follicles fill with fluid. That fluid can then leak from your ovaries into the abdominal cavity where it suppresses your lungs. In some cases the fluid can also get into your lungs and cause real damage. OHSS can be mild, moderate or severe.

Mild symptoms include abdominal bloating and feeling of fullness, nausea, diarrhea, and slight weight gain. Moderate symptoms include excessive weight gain (weight gain of greater than 1kg per day), increased abdominal girth, vomiting, diarrhea, darker urine and less in amount, excessive thirst, and skin and/or hair feeling dry (in addition to mild symptoms). Severe symptoms are fullness/bloating above the waist, shortness of breath,pleural effusion, urination significantly darker or has ceased, calf and chest pains, marked abdominal bloating or distention, and lower abdominal pains (in addition to mild and moderate symptoms). It is very dangerous and can be fatal, but only 3% of women going through IVF end up with OHSS. Risk factors for OHSS include high ovarian reserve (tick for me), youth (tick for me), normal BMI (tick for me up until I started this process – now my BMI is 26), and large number of eggs collected (big tick for me!). Hence the reason why the fertility clinic will be monitoring me daily.

At 2.30pm Doug came and collected me, and helped me to the car which he had parked around the front of the hospital. He told me that when he’d spoken to his father and told him the news that we’d retrieved thirty-four eggs his father had cried tears of joy. Seriously. Over an egg pick-up! That man will cry at anything!

I’m back home now, resting in bed with a heat pack on my tummy and watching Happy Feet 2. This sort of feels like really bad period pain, though there isn’t very much blood. I’m trying to drink as much as I can without feeling completely disgusting and at the moment I’m peeing every hour so I’m clearly fending off the OHSS at the moment. Funny to think that as I’m lying here watching a movie and Doug is downstairs cooking dinner (what a good boy he is!) we have dozens of potential children created by our DNA struggling to come to life in a laboratory across town. I’m desperately hoping we get at least 7 mature embryos that are fertilized and Doug also seems to think we will have 7. Not sure why we think 7 is the magic number?

Fight hard my babies! Fight hard!

I’ll update the blog tomorrow after the embryologist calls to let us know how my little eggies are doing.

IVF day 14

It’s Friday. D-day. Scan day.

Doug was all fired up and ready to demand our cycle be cancelled before we set off in two separate cars to the doctor’s clinic.

It unnerved me a little and I spent the whole 40 minutes it took to drive there feeling angry and isolated. Doug was angry but not distraught at the idea of canceling the cycle. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t as upset as I was.

By the time I got to the clinic I was so nervous I could hardly speak. This was it. The end of my cycle. My dream of motherhood shattered for another few months at least.

The doctor called our name and set me up to get my internal ultrasound done straight away. While I was undressing I was shaking so much I couldn’t get my jacket to hang on the little hook behind the door. Doug had to help me get up onto the table and I was extremely glad he was there to hold my hand, even if I was a little upset with him.

“Ok!” the doctor said cheerily, inserting the probe. “All looking good. Let’s lock in a time for your egg pick up.”

“Wait, what?” I spluttered. “What do you mean?”

The doctor showed me I had around 10 follicles in each ovary measuring 18mm or more and it was all looking great.

The egg collection was promptly booked for 11.45am the following Monday. The doctor instructed me to keep stimming at 150iu tonight and tomorrow, then take the ovidrel trigger shot (which helps to move the eggs off the walls of the follicles so they’re easier to pick up) at precisely 11.45pm Saturday night as it took 36 hours to work.

I could hardly believe it. I felt like I was watching a movie of someone else’s life.

Doug and I were both quite speechless after we left the clinic. Neither of us could believe how quickly everything had turned around. Did I have 20 eggs ready to be collected? Had they been hiding this whole time?

I drove to work so very carefully. Every time I went over a bump I automatically clutched at my stomach. Be careful eggies! I kept on thinking.

The day went by so quickly and I’m hoping the weekend goes just as fast.

I’ve heard awful stories about women going into egg pick up but none of their follicles containing eggs. I’ve also heard in rare cases the ovidrel trigger shot works after 35 hours so by the time the doctor goes in to do pick up at 36 hours the eggs have already evacuated the building.

I just have to keep calm, think positive and believe that won’t happen to me.

Everything is going to be just fine and Monday is going to be a great day.

IVF day 11

Today was the dreaded scan day.

Once again Doug wasn’t able to make it and this time I was too scared to go alone.

I’ve been so emotional the past 24 hours. I’ve done my own research and also spoken to the nursing coordinator at the clinic. I know it’s not great to go past 14 days of stimming (which is IVF talk for injections). This is because IVF should mimic a natural cycle and women should have egg pick up around the time they should ovulate to ensure the eggs are neither immature nor over-ripe.I also know that healthy eggs should only grow around 2mm per day.

So I went to my appointment today knowing that if my ovaries hadn’t shown significant improvement there was a good chance this cycle would be cancelled.

Thankfully my amazing cousin Phoebe offered to drag herself out of bed on her day off work so she could attend my 7.30am appointment with me. Seriously, anyone I’m not married to who is willing to sit next to me while I get an internal ultrasound deserves a medal!

The results were poor again. My follicles have grown a little, but the biggest is still only measuring 6mm. We can’t go ahead with a pick up until most of the follicles are measuring 18-20mm each. I was devastated and had to fight to hold back tears.

But then my doctor said something very interesting. He said not to worry because he can stim me for up to 6 weeks before we need to end the cycle. He wants me to increase my Gonal-F dose to 150iu and come back again on Friday. I’m unsure about all of this because it’s contrary to everything I’ve previously read and been told.

I phoned Doug in the car as I drove into work after my appointment and he expressed the same doubt. He said he definitely wants to come to the appointment on Friday morning with me.

In the afternoon I popped up to the hospital to pick up more epi-pens and I sat down with the head fertility nurse.

I told her my worries regarding what my doctor had said this morning about staying on injections for 6 weeks, and she agreed with me. She said my doctor is the only doctor who works at the clinic who routinely stims patients past 14 days. But she also said when he does this he rarely gets good quality eggs. The way she kept pursing her lips and locking her jaw suggested that maybe they’ve had problems with my doctor in the past. It’s strange because up until this point he’s been great.

The nurse said she couldn’t tell us what to do, but if things haven’t dramatically turned around by Friday we should seriously consider pulling the plug on the cycle ourselves.

Tonight I’ve been depressed and emotional. I spent a long time talking over my concerns with Doug’s mother Kate on the phone. She was very patient and understanding and helped me work through my feelings.

I just want to bury my head in the sand until Friday, but I still have to go to work tomorrow. Unfortunately, these treatments don’t pay for themselves.

IVF day 10

I told my boss at work today that I’m going through IVF.

We have a quarterly performance interview (standard procedure at the university – not because I’m a poor performer) and she confessed she might be away from work a lot because her sister is dying of cancer. So I also confessed I might be away a lot in the future because of my treatment.

It felt like a huge relief to come clean. Now I won’t need to lie about where I’m going if I have clinic appointments during the day. She was very understanding and said family is more important than work and I simply have to try IVF, even if it doesn’t work out.

In other news it’s now apparent I’m not great at keeping secrets…….

I have now told nine people we are going through IVF.

    My mother
    My younger brother Alex
    Doug’s mum Kate and stepdad John
    Doug’s dad Will and stepmum Mary
    My cousin and close friend Phoebe
    My work colleague Liv (the one who had cancer)
    And now my boss!

I think it’s actually worked out well this way. I now have great support networks set up in both our families and my workplace. This is exactly how it needs to be.

We still haven’t told Doug’s sister Jess. I guess that will need to be done sooner rather than later because she keeps texting me stuff about her pregnancy and it’s starting to drive me crazy.

IVF day 7

I had the first scan of my cycle at the doctor’s office this morning.

Did I mention that when you have fertility treatment you have to endure a lot of invasive procedures? This includes extremely regular internal ultrasounds.

Anyway the scan this morning didn’t go great. Doug had to work across town so I went by myself to the fertility clinic, which somehow made it worse.

The doctor said even though I have a lot of eggs in each ovary (which makes sense because tests showed I have a very high ovarian reserve) none of them are growing like they need to be. I’ve had virtually no growth at all.

I can’t understand how this is the case! I’m ridiculously bloated, I feel like I have a melon under my skin on both my left and right sides, I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m crampy and I’ve put on 3kg in the last eight days!!

The doctor said sometimes this is just what happens to women who have polycystic ovaries and endometriosis. He said it’s hard to get the balance right to treat both conditions and get the ovaries working efficiently.

We’ve increased my dose to 125iu of Gonal-F and I’ll come back to the clinic in four days for another scan.

He also said there’s nothing I can do about the burning caused by the orgalutran shots and I just need to keep using it.

I’m finding an ice pack on the injection site for about 10-15 minutes after it is administered helps immensely. Apparently cold isn’t ideal but it’s better for my ovaries than heat and it sure seems to take the agony away quicker.

I feel awful that all this suffering over the past week has seemingly been for nothing. Come on and grow little eggies! I’m counting on you!!

IVF day 6

Today was a bittersweet day, and not only because it is valentine’s day.

I woke up this morning to find a text message on my phone from my sister-in-law Jessica. It was a picture of a clearly positive pregnancy test accompanied by the words “our valentines day surprise!”

My stomach dropped and I felt like the air had been knocked out of my lungs. Hot tears burned my eyes, even as I willed them to go away.

Jess and her husband Rory (the ones who got married in September last year when I acted as bridesmaid) have only been trying to get pregnant for 3 months. And they’re already having a baby. Make that another baby because they already have a one year old.

Don’t get me wrong I was happy and excited for her, but also devastated for myself. It was a slap in the face. An awful reminder that Doug and I had been trying to get pregnant for over a year and now I was in the middle of excruciatingly painful IVF injections and here she was – pregnant.

Jess doesn’t know we are going through IVF but I had hinted last year that we were trying to conceive. I was actually a bit surprised by the insensitivity of her text, especially as I had casually mentioned I was getting too many positives on OPK sticks about 7 months ago and I thought something might be wrong with me.

I quickly texted back congratulations then jumped in the shower so that Doug couldn’t see me crying.

We did a very understated valentine’s day this year. Doug drove to my workplace (I work at an inner city university campus) and we had lunch at a nearby cafe. He gave me a single red rose and a box of chocolates which I loved. I gave him a bunch of beetroot (an inside joke and a dig at the fact he is a health freak).

When we got home in the evening we found Arnold our 11 month old toy poodle puppy was very ill and vomiting everywhere so we had to rush to the vet. It shook me. I love Arnie like a baby. In many ways he is my replacement/substitute baby. I would be inconsolable if anything ever happened to him.

Thankfully the vet thinks he is merely suffering from a doggy virus and sent us away with anti-nausea medication and some antibiotics.

And to make the day even worse I had to have another orgalutran shot tonight. As I lay on the couch writhing in pain I couldn’t stop thinking about Jess and how at that very same moment she was no doubt celebrating her pregnancy with Rory and so full of hope about the future.

I wish I felt the same way.