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!

 

 

 

First IVF Injection Day!

Today is my first injection. I am trying to psych myself up. I can do this. Think of how many other SMBCs have been able to do these injections on their own. Were you as nervous as I am? I am so scared of needles that out of the countless regular blood tests I have had done, I look away every single time the needle goes in. Shit. This is supposed to be the easiest out of all the injectable medications too. I can do this. Breathe. I can do this.

Realizing I Was Meant To Be a SMBC All Along

This was the last sunset we watched together. It was a good year. We had both tried our best to enjoy the moment and be in the present. In my opinion, it was one of the best and most stable years of our nearly 5 year relationship. Despite the elephant bolted steadfastly in the room (his mom), we seemed to be in some form of semi-domestic bliss. We both still had our separate residences but he spent the majority of the time at mine. Life became routine – running errands, cooking healthy meals, cleaning, working, spoiling kitty, attending family gatherings…mine anyway. I have not seen his family for about a year and a half now. He pretty much lived two separate lives. And so it could only last for so long before coming to an abrupt end.

Over the past year, I changed to a new doctor at a fertility clinic. I patiently awaited surgery to be performed by him, as well as another doctor, whom I had met in the spring. I had a really good feel from him as well. He was extremely experienced in working with patients with fibroids and infertility. He was soft-spoken, kind, and patient. I was so confident going into surgery with two of the top professionals in the field operating on me. The healthcare system in their city was also more advanced than the one here. The hospital had contacted me weeks prior to the abdominal myomectomy and had prepared me to be in the best physical shape I have ever been in before surgery. To prevent needing a blood transfusion afterwards due to my anemia, they upped my iron and also had a couple of injections that were supposed to help build red blood cells. My doctor had me on two courses of Fibristal before that as well.

Even though this surgery was a much bigger one than the hysteroscopies I’ve had in the past, I recovered amazingly well. It was the first time I was not sick to my stomach after waking up (ok, the hospital was very generous with their drugs) and I was pretty much healed by the time 6 weeks rolled around. Of course it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine at first. Hurt like hell when I laughed or sneezed (pillow trick was a must) and I was extremely exhausted and slept many extra hours over those weeks. But the four biggest fibroids were finally out! Since then, my periods have still been heavy with clots but significantly shorter. I also don’t feel the pain and pressure like I did before.

Unfortunately, my battle with fibroids has not reached its conclusion quite yet. During my follow-up appointment (which I went to alone since S could not leave work), the doctor said that if I were to try to conceive in my current state, my chances would be cut by 50%. So we decided we will give surgery one final go. In a couple of months, I will have one last hysteroscopy to remove as many of the remaining smaller fibroids as he can. He also told me that there is now new research claiming more success with frozen, rather than fresh, embryos. We discussed when to start IVF. I knew that with my uterus freshly cleaned up and my age creeping up to 37, I was eager to get started right away. And also with how smoothly my relationship with S has been going, he shouldn’t have a problem with this, right? I left the office with my thick package of IVF consent forms to read and sign, a prescription for birth control pills to help regulate my cycle, and an appointment date for a sonohysterogram. Now I just needed S to read and sign the papers and have them witnessed. Oh yeah, and there’s also the matter of getting $15,000.

I think it was nearly 5 weeks into my recovery and after much nagging and pestering about the consent forms, S and I were on the way to my mom’s to have her be the witness. Everything happens for a reason. The mantra of my life. S had been acting cold and distant in the days coming up to that moment. Coincidentally, his mom had also just returned from a month-long vacation (*sigh*). We ended up having a big fight on the drive over. It was like the whole year of fragile peacefulness had built up to this explosion of resentment and despair. And it was directly aimed at me. Depression never completely disappears. As many of us who have it know, it is managed. Controlled. And when someone is in denial about it, it is only a matter of time before you are consumed by it.

The same speech escaped his lips. I wistfully yearned for the lost year when those words and feelings were masquerading as happiness. He could not do this anymore. How could we bring a child into this situation? He needed to wait until the circumstances improved. I told him his mom will never like me. It will never change. It will be like this forever. I was now the broken record. We cannot change others, only ourselves…blah…blah…blah. By this point, I had already screamed at him to turn the car around. He had the audacity to act surprised. At least we were on the same page now, we could not create a child together to be in this disaster of a situation.

Out of all the fights we have had over these years, the ammunition used in this particular one tore up my flesh and left me scarred. He blamed me for everything that was wrong in our relationship. It was my fault that his mother did not like me. It was my fault that I could not see his family and was never invited to their gatherings. It was my fault Christmases are now ruined for him and that he has anxiety about the upcoming one. She is an angel, Mother Teresa; no human shall speak an ill word about her. Never shall any utter words signifying anything less of perfection when it comes to her. I had never seen such devotion and loyalty. This is not healthy. This is not normal.

Oh, the irony that his literal blindness in one eye caused such devout blindness towards the woman who bore him and who sadly also blamed him for the childhood accident that caused him to lose his eye.

I, on the other hand, had not seen clearer than I did at that moment. He would always view me as a terrible woman. I would never win and he will never take my side. His mother will always be his number one and I would always have to fight for second place. I know, in the deepest of my heart, that I am not a terrible person. Sure, I have done terrible things just like every other person on earth. But as all my closest family and friends know, I have always lived my life by doing what I do best, by helping others, which is why I choose the jobs I do. If he does not see who I really am, how can he say he loves me?

Since that day a month ago, we have barely spoken. I do not want my child to be in a destructive and dysfunctional environment. I grew up in one and barely made it to today and like any decent mother, I am going to protect my child from anything or anyone who will do harm. Life is already challenging as it is and if I can provide a happy, healthy home surrounded with positive energy, things will be easier to bear.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to create this family and whether or not it’s in the stars, but I do know in my heart that I need to try on my own. This is where my path divides from his.