Reflection on My First IVF Cycle

I can breathe again. My first IVF cycle has officially been completed. I do feel pretty fortunate that it went relatively smoothly and I can’t believe it’s over already. It certainly is not an endeavor for the faint-hearted. You are on edge constantly and the whole process is incredibly unpredictable. I feel physically (from all the early mornings, sleepless nights, and vials of blood drawn) and emotionally drained at this point and literally slept half the day away today.

Luckily I only had a few bumps during the month. Not like the couple in “Friends From College” on Netflix – I watched episode 4 on the day I did my trigger shot and I definitely recommend it for a good laugh and some stress relief! I had the delays in getting the whole cycle started, the sudden appearance of a cyst that raised my E2 level resulting in another delay, and the egg retrieval procedure wasn’t a walk in the park. Apparently my ovaries are high up so the retrieval was difficult and painful despite the twilight sedation I was under. Two nurses had to push HARD on my torso to help the doctor retrieve the eggs from my ovaries. Of course, I am still a bit sore and it has been a week already. And I found out I do not react well to Fentanyl. I was completely out of it afterwards and both of my eyelids swelled up. Thankfully S came to pick me up after the procedure and was an angel in preparing a couple of meals for me that lasted through the week.

This past week has been the most nerve-wracking week of them all (I’m sure fellow IVFers can certainly attest to this!). My anxiety was at its peak levels when waiting for the phone call from the clinic every morning (sometime between 8:00-10:00) to see what the latest lab update was.

Day 1 – 7 mature eggs had been retrieved, 4 eggs fertilized

Day 2 – 4 embryos divided

Day 3 – 3 embryos divided again, there was hope that the 4th one would catch up

Day 4 – 4 good quality embryos developing normally

Day 5 – only 2 embryos were good enough to make it to freeze (the clinic only freezes good quality day 5 blastocysts)

Day 6 – other 2 embryos did become blastocysts but were of poor quality and I was told that they would have implanted but would not have any further fetal development

I am very disappointed that I wasn’t able to produce more eggs so I had low numbers (hard to take when you read online about all these other women older than me who had such high numbers!) but I also know that I should be very grateful that I have two strong little snow babies right now waiting for me. I just have to continue with trying to maintain this positive energy and hopefully I will have one of them nestled securely in me soon.

Now that my embryos are ready and waiting, it is time to put the finishing touches on a healthy home for them. I will be having my 5th and final surgery in less than two weeks. I am really hoping that this hysteroscopy will be successfull in removing many fibroids and boost my chances of pregnancy up from the current 50%. I wish I knew when I will be able to do my FET after this procedure. Maybe after a month or two?

I can’t believe I have made it up to this point! After all of these miserable years, I am so close to possibly having a baby! I am trying to stifle my excitement as you never know. But hard to keep it from bubbling up inside because I never thought I would be here! And on my own too! Other than S and my therapist, I haven’t told another soul about my two embryos yet. It is so hard to keep it a secret. I might….might…tell one of my good friends. And I know I will have a hard time not telling my mom. I guess we’ll see how long I can keep this good news to myself…

Green Light to Stim!

When I had my baseline appointment last week, the Dr. found an estrogen-producing cyst on my right ovary that was causing my Estradiol to be 392, which was way too high. So they kept me on Lupron (10 units) for an extra week. After spending way too much time on Google looking up estrogen-producing cysts, high levels of E2, and delayed/cancelled IVF cycles, I had hope when I read that getting your period may help the cyst disappear and E2 levels would drop. It was possibly the first time I was thanking the heavens when I got my period on Saturday. Not sure how much validity is in this, but I also tried cutting out meat/dairy products over the next few days in hopes that that would help reduce my estrogen level.

I went back for an ultrasound and bloodwork on Thursday and the Dr. could no longer see the cyst anymore! A few hours later, I got confirmation that I was good to start stimming the next day as my E2 had decreased to 91.8…woohoo!!! I am cutting it extremely close with this IVF cycle as I am booked for a hysteroscopy on Nov. 6. Hopefully all will go smoothly with this round of FSH meds and that egg retrieval will be able to happen before that date.

Since my memory is at the level of a 78 year-old, I had pretty much forgotten all of the injection training I had received at the clinic 3 weeks ago. Maybe I should have┬átaken up the nurse’s offer to borrow the teaching tools to practice at home (yes, I was that bad…!!)…Thankfully the clinic’s website has training videos on it. I don’t know if it’s just me or if others doing IVF feel the same way but I was incredibly stressed about doing these injections. I can’t believe I was worried about the Lupron injection before! Now that is the easiest one. I was to reduce Lupron to 5 units, use Puregon (350 units), and Menopur (150 units).

S and I have been on decent terms lately. Kind of being like friends. We text each day wishing each other good morning and good night and occasionally get together for a meal or movie. But other than hugs, a kiss on the forehead (from him) and the use of the kissing emoji, we awkwardly avoid any other form of romantic contact. Anyway, he knew I was feeling really anxious about these injections so he offered to come by after work to help me. My anxiety overtook any pride/independence I was feeling and I quickly took him up on his offer. As I carefully laid out each item (oh my god, so many!!) with the corresponding instructional pamphlet, he watched the training videos.

#1 – Lupron: Easy peasy!

#2 – Puregon pen: Was the second easiest. Thank god, my dose was simple so I needed one vial exactly. Hurt a little more than the Lupron syringe and bled a little bit.

#3 – Menopur: The one I was dreading as there was mixing involved. We did get confused about how much saline to use as I needed two vials of the powder. We decided to use 1 mL since the pamphlet said that is typically the dose. As I injected, it definitely felt like a lot more liquid going in and it was the most painful. With this one, I bled the most and was a bit sore afterwards. This is the only time that I was glad that I have a good amount of fat on my mid-section.

#4 – Tuxedo truffle cake that S brought: It did feel like it was a cause for celebration to get the first day of stimming injections over with. I was very relieved and also very thankful that S could be there with me to assist (mostly keeping me calm, reminding me of little things I forgot, and not letting me second-guess myself).

The whole process took about an hour, which is probably really long, but I’m sure if it was by myself that time would double. I will be attempting this again on my own in a few hours so hopefully I will get through it okay!