July 31, 2006

Retrieval and Fert Report

The retrieval went very well. My doctor was able to get 32 eggs. He warned us that not all of them would be mature, because he said he went into every follicle, even the smaller ones, in order to try to help "deflate" the ovaries.

We got the update today - 20 were M1s (the most mature), 7 were M2s (still mature and good, just not as mature as the M1s), 4 were immature and 1 was non-viable. They fertilized the 27 M1s and M2s, and of those, 17 fertilized normally. We are very, very happy!

The only spot of concern at the moment is that I may be developing a mild case of OHSS. I'm more bloated than I was before the retrieval, and when I lay down, it kind of hurts to breathe. My doctor was monitoring me closely for OHSS and I hadn't shown any signs through retrieval, but I know it can sometimes begin to develop after retrieval. He's bringing me back in this afternoon, I'm assuming for another ultrasound. If I do have it, hopefully it's a mild case that resolves quickly. Right now, transfer is set for Wednesday afternoon.

The Waiting Line - The IM trigger shot went fine in terms of the injection itself - no pain or anything like that. We had a little bit of drama before doing the injection, though. The pharmacy was supposed to have given me a syringe with a 1 1/2 inch needle to draw up the injection and another 1 1/2 needle to swap out and actually inject with.

It turned out the second needle was only 1 inch, but we didn't realize that until I had already put it on the syringe. I was going to swap it out with the 1 1/2 inch, because I figured how dull could that needle be - it was only poked through the rubber of the vial once, right? Well, I had put the 1 inch needle on so tight that neither R nor I could get it off. After a couple minutes of panic, I decided there really wasn't much that could be done, because the 1 inch clearly wasn't coming off and I didn't have another vial of trigger meds to draw up, so I just went ahead and injected with the 1 inch. It seems to have worked out fine.

But, about that "how dull could it be" question - trust me on this, the answer is "too dull to use." I did the first PIO injection last night. The pharmacy and the clinical coordinator said to use a 22 1/2 gauge. But the PIO I have is in cottonseed oil, which seems to be thinner than sesame oil, so I didn't think there would be a problem using a 25 gauge.

And, there probably isn't, except that it needs to be a 25 gauge that hasn't already been pushed through a rubber stopper. I stuck the 25 gauge in my ample posterior. It hurt a little as it went in, and then it stopped. I thought it was probably just because my hand was shaking a bit. So I pushed harder. After all, fat tissue is soft, right? And I've certainly got more than 1/16th of an inch of that to push through. But it wouldn't keep going.

So I pulled it out. And because I hadn't learned my lesson the first time, I stuck it in another spot. Another little bit of pain as it went in. Another refusal to go any farther. I contemplated calling the clinical coordinator and begging her call in a prescription of 25 gauge needles to a local pharmacy, but then I decided to just suck it up for the night, so I took off the 25 gauge (fortunately I had learned my lesson from the trigger and hadn't screwed it on too tight) and put on a 22 1/2 gauge.

Let me just say this: A sharp 22 1/2 gauge is much, much better than a dull 25 gauge. It didn't hurt going through the skin, and it easily went all the way in. The PIO didn't hurt going in, either. I just injected it very, very slowly.

So, I survived through my first PIO injection. I am still going to ask for the script for the 25 gauges when I go in for the ultrasound this afternoon, though.

I'm running out of computer battery power again, but I'll try to catch up with as many blogs as I can until I do.

July 28, 2006

Ready, Set, Retrieve

It's official - trigger is tonight, and retrieval is Sunday morning. It's been two years since I've done an IM injection, so tonight should be interesting. I'm picking R up at the airport in a few minutes, so at least he'll be here to talk me into jamming that looong needle into my butt when I begin to whine and freak out!

Today I had 20 follicles, and lining was at 10.5. We also got R's latest DNA fragmentation results today, after enduring a little bit of drama with the lab that did the test. His fragmentation was 24 percent, which is his lowest level ever. So, he'll be producing a fresh sample after all this weekend. (We were prepared to use a sample he had frozen this spring if necessary.)

So, prayers seem to be getting answered left and right for us this week. I'm very, very thankful. And, selfishly, hoping they continue to be answered in such a positive way.

Thank you all for your support. I'm not getting to log on as much as I had expected to, but I'll find a way to post on Sunday.

Also, please keep my friend in your thoughts. Her first clot resolved itself, but a second one appeared this week. The babies are still doing fine at this point, but she is now on a schedule of weekly ultrasounds. Why oh why can't this ever be easy for those of us who have had to go through so much to get here? J, if you're reading this, know that I'm thinking of you...

July 27, 2006

A Quick Update

It turns out we don't have internet access in our hotel room like I thought we did, so this is the first chance I've had to log on since we got here Sunday night.

I'll post more later, but right now I want to catch up with all of you, so I'll make this quick. Yesterday's ultrasound showed 18 measurable follicles and a few more that may or may not catch up, a lining of 9 mm with a triple stripe, an E2 of 1068 and no signs of OHSS. It's bizarre - I'm almost not quite sure what to do with so much good news. But I'm very, very thankful.

It looks like trigger will probably be Friday night, with a Sunday morning retrieval.

Ok, on to all of your blogs. Be back later.

P.S. Meg - Two weeks because they brought me out early to monitor closely for OHSS. My first stim ultrasound was on Monday. If they hadn't been concerned about OHSS, it wouldn't have been until today, and I would have only been here 8-10 days.

July 21, 2006

The Stimming Begins

The baseline ultrasound went well yesterday. 10 follicles on one side, 11 on the other. My estradiol level was 15. I have to confess that I don't know much about what estradiol levels are supposed to be, because my former clinic didn't test them during IUI cycles. But I'm assuming 15 was fine, since the cycle coordinator told me to start Follistim last night.

My friend was able to see the twins' heartbeats yesterday, and they are measuring pretty close to on target - 7w2d and 6w5d, she was 7w1d yesterday. However, she's having a bit of a scary time. She started bleeding heavily on Tuesday and went to the emergency department. There's a blood clot in her uterus. (I wonder if this is the same thing as a subchorionic hematoma?)

Her RE told her yesterday that it will likely resolve itself and pass through, and he doesn't think the babies are in any danger. Still, she's on bed rest for a few days and she's understandably concerned. She goes in for another ultrasound next week.

I know this is short - especially for me - but I have to get to work. There's about two days of work for me to wrap up, and I've got all of six hours left to do it. I'll post again once I get settled in the hotel.

July 18, 2006

So Far, So Good

Things are going as well as I could ask for – only one bruise, no headaches, no unusual grumpiness. R is particularly grateful for that last one. (He still harbors bad memories of our IUI days, perhaps because I once locked him out of our bedroom in a Clomid-induced fit of irritation and then refused to tell him what it was that he had done to tick me off.)

I’m making another day trip to the RE on Thursday for my baseline. That’s also the day my friend is scheduled for an ultrasound to check for the twins’ heartbeats. Please think good thoughts for both of us.

The good news continues on the Pooch front too. The vet repeated her bloodwork on Sunday, and it showed that her pancreatic enzymes have returned to the normal level. Yea! One liver enzyme is still elevated but is also heading in the right direction. The vet said it takes that enzyme longer to return to normal, so he isn’t concerned about that.

I’ve started packing for the cycle. The process of packing always reminds me of two of my great-aunts. When I was about 10 years old, they came to visit us as part of a month-long trip that included stops in several states, capped off by an Alaskan cruise. They showed up with one suitcase apiece. For an entire month’s trip!

I did not inherit their ability to pack lightly.

You know that saying, “Pack everything you think you’ll need, then unpack half of it, and that’s probably more than enough”? Um, well, I tend to subscribe to the opposite theory: Pack everything you think you’ll need and then about 50 percent more just in case, because if you don’t bring it, it’s a given that you’ll need it at some point.

Couple that theory with the fact that I’m going to be living in the same, small hotel room for two weeks (half of that time by myself, which is longer than I’ve ever lived by myself in my entire life), and you wind up with a packing list that includes:

  • A very comfy bean bag chair, purchased especially for this trip. Hey, I figure I’ll get tired of sitting on the bed and the desk chair after a couple of days. And besides, it’s purple, which is my favorite color, so of course it was meant to be.
  • A vase. Because one needs flowers to make the aforementioned small hotel room feel like home, right? R just rolled his eyes, threw up his hands and began trying to figure out how to pack it in a way that won’t result in breaking it.
  • My new baking pan. As if I needed yet another baking pan. But maybe if I bring the RE’s staff treats, they’ll go easy on me with the blood draws. A little sweet bribery never hurt anyone.
  • Two binders full of recipes, which I plan to make in the room’s kitchenette despite the fact that I (ahem) do not cook. Apparently, I expect these drugs not only to help create a baby, but also to magically transform me into Martha Stewart overnight.
  • About a dozen books, ranging from romance novels to a how-to-learn-HTML-in-one-day manual to Steven Covey’s famed 7 Habits book, which I started reading more than a year ago but have yet to finish. Not only am I going to morph into Martha, I’m also going to pick up some new skills for work (the HTML book), discover the purpose of my life and figure out how to effectively fulfill it, all in the span of about two weeks. While also trying to grow a couple dozen eggs.

I’m not over-reaching, am I?

Back to the packing…

July 10, 2006

1 Injection Down, 70 or So to Go

As you can tell, I’ve been behind on blogging and commenting. I started to catch up last night, but I still have a ways to go, so please forgive me if yours is one of the blogs I still need to visit.

I can’t believe a week has gone by already. It’s all such a blur – I’m not sure where it went or what I’ve been doing for this past week, other than working like a crazy person. One of my co-workers gave her notice last week, so my boss’ team is now officially only 50 percent staffed. When I take time off for the cycle, that number will drop to 25 percent – yikes!

I wish I had something profound to write related to this cycle, but I don’t. At least, not at this point. Maybe all of the drugs will eventually give me inspiration. Speaking of the drugs, I did my first Lupron shot this morning. And, as you can see, I lived to tell about it.

The peace I’d been feeling temporarily took a back seat to hyperventilation when I got up today, but ultimately it was much, much easier than I was making it out to be in my mind. It had been almost two years since I’d done an injection, so I was nervous. But the needle didn’t hurt at all going in, and it was such a small amount of liquid to inject that it turned out to be no big deal. One of my biggest fears was that the Lupron would sting, but it didn’t.

Updates: My friend’s first ultrasound went really well. Since she was only at 5w2d, they didn’t see a heartbeat, which they didn’t expect to. However, they did see two sacs – she’s got twins in there! I’m very happy for her.

The Pooch is still having ups and downs, but at least now we know what the problem is: She has pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. She had a relapse again on Friday, so I took her back to the vet (third time in two weeks, they’re getting to know us really well) on Saturday. They ran some blood tests and called yesterday to tell us the results.

The good news is that she seems to have a relatively mild case of it, and it’s possible that once we get it under control this may be the only episode of it that she has. The bad news is that it’s often triggered by giving dogs high-fat food they’re not supposed to have, like table scraps, and getting my mom to follow the “nothing but kibble” rule is going to be tough. Our zoo will be staying with her while we cycle, and she likes to spoil them.

I’m hoping she’ll cooperate when I make it very clear that 1) pancreatitis can turn serious and even fatal, and 2) I’m going to be super stressed about the Pooch if I think there’s even a tiny chance she’ll be fed something other than kibble and that the stress could mess up the IVF cycle. (Disclaimer: No, I don’t really believe that stress causes infertility or causes IVF cycles to fail, but if thinking so is what gets her to cooperate, I’ll take it.)

My mom is one of those people who, when a doctor says not to do/eat/take something, responds with “Oh, what does he know? Doing (whatever the “something” is) can’t really be that bad.” Then she goes ahead and does it anyway, just to prove that no one can tell her what to do. So, I’m afraid she’ll dismiss the vet’s orders of no table scraps or treats. But I’m also hoping that if I throw in the “stressing me out could mess up the IVF cycle” idea on top of it, the potential guilt will be enough to motivate her to cooperate. We shall see.

July 02, 2006

1,000 Things, Part 1

Suddenly I have 1,000 things to say. Very few of them are related to each other, and most don’t seem like they rise to the level of being worthy of their own posts – either that, or I’m just feeling too frantic to write separate posts for all of them right now – so here they are, in no particular order.

Continued Happy News
My friend’s second beta continued to rise appropriately. Hurray for her! Her first ultrasound (at 5w2d) is on Friday.

Doggie Update
The pooch seems to be doing a bit better, although we had to make another trip to the vet yesterday. I finally felt okay with leaving her home alone on Friday, so I worked in the office that day. When I got home, there was evidence she was relapsing a bit, but not as bad as what we came home to earlier in the week. The vet gave us an antibiotic to add to the other two pills she’s already taking.

I hope this clears up before we have to leave for the cycle. I’ve never been away from her for more than seven days before, so this is going to be a stressful experience for her and for me. I thought about bringing her with us, but she hasn’t traveled with us overnight before, and I think that would also be stressful on top of the cycle. Plus, R will still be here with her for the first week, then she and the rest of the zoo will be over at my mom’s, who lives two miles from the vet and has pet-sat for us hundreds of times.

On Being a Bad Sister
I’m in a fairly good place right now, feeling peace with our decision to cycle and where to cycle. I can be happy for my friend, because I know what she went through to achieve this pregnancy. But today, when my brother called, I saw who it was on the caller ID and I told R to let it go to voice mail. I haven’t listened to the message yet.

I do not know my brother well. And I’m even less well acquainted with my sisters. They are full siblings to each other from a marriage of our dad’s prior to him marrying my mom and having me. It’s a bizarre situation – we didn’t grow up together, I’ve only ever seen them in person a couple of times in my life, we’re very different people in many ways. Still, my brother deserves all the credit for working to keep our relationship (if you could call it that) afloat, and I do love them all, even though I don’t quite understand that since I don’t really know them.

The thing is, my brother and his girlfriend are expecting sometime this month. It wasn’t planned. Neither was the pregnancy that resulted in his daughter with another girlfriend several years ago. My brother knows what R and I have been through. He doesn’t mean to be insensitive, but he just doesn’t get it. When he called to tell me a couple of months ago, he must’ve said “My girlfriend and I are going to have a baby” at least five times. Everything in the conversation ultimately made its way back to that point. I managed to force out a normal-sounding “Congratulations,” but I got off the phone as quickly as I could.

Today is the second time he’s called since that conversation. I’ve been avoiding him. I didn’t even listen to his message yet this time, because I’m afraid he’s going to tell me the baby was born. And as much as I want to be happy for him, I feel like I need to protect the peace I’m feeling about our cycle right now. Even if that means being a terrible sister.

Missing Out on the ‘Lush’ Experience
I first discovered Lush when I read about it on a fellow infertility blog (I wish I could remember whose) several months back. I love bubble baths, so I decided to go check out the store that’s in our town. I wound up buying a couple of terrific-smelling soaps and a few irresistible-sounding bath bombs.

This was back in the beginning of February, and I still haven’t used the bombs. Cycle day 1 showed up unexpectedly a couple times, then I got sick and didn’t feel like sitting in a hot bath tub when my stomach was bothering me, then the surprise pregnancy, an insane work schedule, etc. I thought for sure that once I started the BCPs, it would be the perfect time. Then came the breakthrough bleeding. That finally went away, and this week I thought, “I’m going to do this on Sunday, for sure.” It’s not too close to the cycle that I’ll worry about overcooking my eggs or anything.

But now it’s more than 110 degrees outside, and even though it’s not quite that hot indoors, I’d be more tempted to load the bathtub with ice cubes than bubbles at this point. It’s 87 degrees in our pool right now. Maybe I should just toss the bath bombs in there and soak away…

Believe it or not, I have yet more to say. But I will save some of it for later, because there are things I’ve been putting off (like work) that I really should at least attempt to make some effort toward.

Eight days until lupron begins…Do you suppose this has something to do with the sudden frantic wordiness? That perhaps if I just keep prattling on, somehow the train won’t barrel down on me? Nah, couldn’t be.