The Lucille Ball of Fertility Injections

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Last night was the big night…the night I had to give myself the first set of stimulation injections. It played out like an episode of I Love Lucy. Math and science were my worst subjects in school, so I am a little challenged when it comes to mixing up solutions and injecting them into myself.

I sat down with all of my supplies and 2 pages of typed instructions and tried my best to follow along. I worked with all the concentration of a high school senior taking a standardized test but just couldn’t seem to get it right. When I combined the two vials of Menopur, I was supposed to end up with 1mL. I drew the syringe back and only got 0.8mL. Then, when I combined the Menopur and Follistim, I was supposed to end up with 1.2mL but ended up with 1mL instead.

I was frantically reading the instructions and facetiming my husband to see where I went wrong. I was visiting my mom’s house during this entire ordeal. That’s when her dog decided it would be a good time to get busy with my small dog. He was wrestling her on the floor and she was howling like a wolf. Not to be outdone, my 70 pound Lab decided to flip her water bowl up in the air with her nose and covered the entire floor in about a gallon of water. I put down the shot supplies and went to fetch some paper towels to clean up the mess. As soon as I stood up, I slipped on the water and went flying across the kitchen on my booty.

All I could do was laugh at that point. I tried to draw up the shot again and still ended up a little short on the amount. I had no choice but to give myself the shot, but I continued to stress for about an hour. What if I did it wrong? What if this messes everything up? What if I have done everything right to get to this point only to jeopardize it all over 0.2mL of missing fluid? This is such a high stress process that you have this overwhelming burden of screwing it all up every step along the way.

Just then, Aimee from the Maybe Baby blog texted me to see how I was doing.  I had a little bit of a meltdown on her and she reassured me that it’s very common for Menopur to draw up a little short. Phew! She really saved the day! Aimee and I found each other through our blogs and recently exchanged numbers. We are on the same day of our IVF cycles and thought it would be neat to compare notes as we went along. Ironically she texted me at the exact moment I needed to talk to someone who understood what I was going through.

I have a great family. The problem is, they just can’t relate sometimes. Luckily, I have built a strong network of incredible women with similar journeys throughout this process. It’s absolutely crazy how immediately you can connect with a complete stranger because they are going through the same thing. God puts the right people in your life at the exact moment you need them, and that’s just one more thing to be thankful for! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. This is the only kind of cocktail I’ll be mixing up:

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Wish me better luck on my second attempt tonight! 🙂

God is good all the time!

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This is an expression of sheer, unadulterated joy. The expression of a child setting foot onto Main Street in Disney World for the very first time. The face of relief, gratitude and an unending sense of the true grace of God. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of a woman who thought she was leaving the doctor’s office with a cancelled cycle and a prescription for birth control and left with a green light and an IVF calendar instead.

I went to the doctor this morning for baseline blood work, an ultrasound to count my resting follicles and training for the Follistim and Menopur injections, which I was scheduled to start this afternoon. Nothing was supposed to be up in the air. I had gotten the go-ahead last week when they determined the lone cyst on my right ovary wasn’t producing any hormones.

While I was getting my blood drawn, a newly pregnant patient was projectile vomiting in the hall bathroom. She was there to see her baby on screen for the first time. I told my husband and the phlebotomist that I hoped to be in her position soon. In fact, I would give ANYTHING to be projectile vomiting because a sweet baby was growing in my belly. They laughed and looked at me like I was crazy, but I meant that wholeheartedly. After going through this journey, I know for certain that if I’m lucky enough to get pregnant, I will be thanking God even when my head is hanging in the toilet bowl.

After my blood was drawn we moved to the ultrasound room. I was so excited to see how many resting follicles were on the screen. This could potentially give us an idea of how many mature eggs we would end up with at retrieval. The ultrasound tech started with my left ovary. Nine follicles came on the screen and I was getting ready to take a picture to post on the blog. But then I saw it. A big, ugly, nasty cyst. It had somehow developed since last Thursday. I knew this wasn’t a good sign and could easily mean cancellation of the cycle. I refrained from taking the picture.

Next, she moved over to my right ovary. I knew the cyst they discovered last week might still be there, but I wasn’t concerned because I knew it wasn’t producing hormones. That is until she told me that it had gotten bigger. How could that be?

Just like that, this went from an exciting appointment to potentially devastating news. She told us that there was a good chance they would cancel the cycle, but we wouldn’t know for sure until they got the blood work back. We went to wait in the room where we were SUPPOSED to be learning how to do the injections.

The nurse came in and said she wasn’t going to teach us how to do the injections. Instead, she said I would probably be getting back on birth control and apologized because she knew that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. She told us the blood work would be back in about 5 minutes and left the room.

It ended up taking about 45 minutes to get the results back. I told Matt that I didn’t understand why we never have a smooth appointment where everything goes off without a hitch. Why does my body always have to throw us a curve ball? Why is there always some undetermined factor that keeps us guessing? It’s a constant roller coaster ride, and, most of the time, I want to get off.

The time we spent waiting for the results was pretty much intolerable. Matt tried to make me laugh. My eyes welled up a few times. I prayed. I got angry. I got confused. I worried my medicine would expire. I wondered if we would get our money back. I felt pretty much every emotion imaginable. And then I felt the best one.

My doctor came in the room bearing good news. Somehow neither of the cysts were producing hormones. We were approved to move forward! Matt and I hugged and kissed, and, before we knew it, the nurse was back in the room to teach us how to administer the injections. I couldn’t believe things turned around so quickly. Sometimes we worry ourselves sick and, in the end, we didn’t have anything to worry about in the first place. That’s why we have to have faith.

I will start the Follistim and Menopur injections tomorrow. I ended up having 9 resting follicles on the left ovary and 7 resting follicles on the right. Apparently this is a great number! More good news! If they all mature, I am potentially looking at 16 eggs to retrieve. I have a follow-up appointment Tuesday to check my progress.  I’m ready to start the injections and excited about what’s to come. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. I know that without the prayers of so many, we could have gotten very different news today. Please keep them coming!

You Gotta Have Faith

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“In this world you will have trouble. Take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This was part of the reading at Mass today and it really spoke to me and gave me a renewed sense of faith. I felt inspired to pass it along in hopes that it might help someone else.

I am a chronic worrier. I tend to plan every aspect of my life. That worked out pretty well for me up until this whole infertility thing shook my world. When I was younger, I often heard adults say, “When you make a plan, God laughs.” I feel like I finally understand what they were talking about.

It’s so hard when things don’t go according to our plan. I read somewhere that the thing that messes us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s all supposed to be. When I think back on some of the things I wanted and the plans I had for myself 5 or 10 years ago, it’s plain to see that God knew better than I did. No matter how many times I’ve learned that lesson, though, it’s something that I have to remind myself of daily.

I’m not going to lie. It makes me angry sometimes when people hear about my experiences and reply with the all too cliche, “Well Katie, everything happens for a reason.” I usually just smile politely and change the topic, but I often wonder what the reason could be. Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me patience or God’s way of teaching me to trust in His plan.

The truth of the matter is, we don’t always know why bad things happen. Sometimes the reasons become clear down the line and sometimes they don’t. All we can do for now is trust and have faith that the plan God has for us is way better than any plan we could ever have for ourselves. No problem is too big for God and there’s no prayer He can’t answer. In this world we will have trouble, but take heart. He has overcome the world.

Sham-Wow

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I just have a quick little update today. As I wrote yesterday, my lips started tingling and feeling a little bit numb about an hour after I took the Lupron shot. As the day progressed the numbness got worse and my hands started to feel numb too. The worst part was that my legs suddenly started itching to the point that it felt like fire ants were crawling on me. The doctor said I was having an allergic reaction to the Lupron and needed to stop taking it immediately. He switched me to the Ganirelix protocol. Ganirelix prevents premature ovulation just like Lupron, but you don’t start taking it until you begin to produce eggs. Luckily this wasn’t too big of a snafu and it won’t change the timing or anything else. Thank goodness!

The tingling and numbness finally stopped, but my legs continued to itch mercilessly. I had promised to help my little cousin do her makeup for prom, and I was determined to be a woman of my word. When I got to her house I was running around like I had ants in my pants. She had the brilliant idea of putting Chilly Pads (used by runners behind their neck) over my legs and I got immediate relief. A-lle-luia! I’m pretty sure her date’s family thought I was a weirdo, because I was essentially walking around covered in giant shammies. The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to home remedies. You just never know what might work. 🙂

It’s Friday…let’s do shots!

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Happy Friday! Let’s take shots! Lupron shots, that is. I’m finishing up my last few days of birth control (Levora), and this morning I started 20 daily units of leuprolide acetate, or Lupron. This stage of IVF is called suppression. It puts your body into a temporary state of menopause and allows your ovaries to rest. After all, they are about to be put into overdrive producing as many follicles in a week as most people produce in a year or two. The Lupron also dramatically lowers estrogen levels and, therefore, allows my doctor to regulate my body’s production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Ovulation cannot occur naturally on Lupron because LH, which stimulates ovulation, is suppressed. This prevents a premature release of LH before the egg retrieval procedure.

I know this sounds like a lot of medical mumbo jumbo. In a nutshell, these meds won’t let me ovulate until the eggs have reached maturity and my doctor is ready to go in and retrieve them. It’s only been a few hours, but the only side effects I’ve had so far are numbness and a tingling sensation in my lips. Now I know how Kylie Jenner feels. I’ll post a full update when I go back to the doctor to start the stimulation phase next Thursday (May 21st). If anything interesting or funny happens in the mean time, I’ll be sure to let you know. Have a great weekend, y’all! Drink a cold one for me 🙂

A Lesson in Perspective

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Today I needed a little perspective and God gave it to me. I woke up and emptied out the box of needles and medications that were delivered last week. I’m scheduled to start my injections tomorrow, so I began to dissect the contents of the box. I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for myself. The idea of all of these needles going into my poor little tummy over the course of the next 3 weeks overwhelmed me. Luckily, I’ve never had a fear of needles. I’m not sure anyone could go through this process if they did. The sheer volume of the needles staring me in the face was enough to scare off even the bravest patient, though. What worried me even more was the list of potential side effects that accompanied each of these meds.

Once again I started questioning and wondering why this was my path. Why do I have to put my body through so much just for a chance at pregnancy? It just doesn’t seem fair. I headed to my doctor’s appointment with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. The purpose of today’s appointment was to get a baseline ultrasound and blood work to make sure all systems are a go to start the injections.

I went to the lab to have my blood drawn then proceeded to the ultrasound room. I’ve had more ultrasounds than Michelle Duggar at this point so I have a pretty good idea of what I’m looking at on the screen. Everything looked great when the tech measured my uterine lining and examined my left ovary, but as soon as my right ovary came on the screen, my heart sank. There it was…another giant cyst. I was somewhat surprised because I had a 3D ultrasound last week and everything looked great. I had a sneaking suspicion something may be wrong, though, because I haven’t been feeling well the past few days.

The ultrasound tech told me that because of the cyst, there was a strong possibility the doctor would not allow me to continue with IVF at this time. Not this again. You’ve gotta be kidding me! The nurse and doctor said that all we could do was wait until the blood work came back. If the cyst was producing a significant amount of hormones, the cycle would be cancelled and I would be put back on birth control until we could get the level down.

Just this morning I was cringing at the idea of injecting so much medicine into my body. Now I felt like I would give anything for the chance to start this cycle. Sometimes we get so bogged down in negativity and self pity that we lose perspective.

I left the office praying that things would turn out ok, especially since I had a very expensive box of medicine at home that couldn’t be returned and would soon expire. To my surprise I got a phone call from the doctor about 30 minutes later. He said that the blood work looked great and I could start my injections tomorrow. Alleluia! Now I’m actually excited to start the shots!

I can say with absolute certainty that this journey has been the biggest roller coaster ride of my life, and the ups and downs continue daily. You never know whether you will get news that puts you on top of the world or down in the dumps. The thing I have taken away, though, is that the valleys make the peaks that much sweeter. If you find yourself needing a little attitude adjustment today, I invite you to listen to my late father’s favorite song. It’s a good reminder set to a catchy tune. 

Accentuate the positive, y’all! Thanks for the prayers. Let’s get this party started!

P.S. I’m not sure why the only version of this song I could find online was from the Mighty Ducks soundtrack but c’est la vie. 🙂