Funny how I didn’t blog much on bed rest. I was too busy resting. I’m sure you’re sorry. It was uneventful, if y’all must know. Well, that’s not entirely true. There was a strange event with the furnace (I KNOW!) on Saturday night that caused me some mild panic and then some (few!) tears on Saturday, but my dear roommate ventured down to the crawl space and flipped the emergency off switch and now I think (hope?) I can safely ignore the whole thing until later. Why does my house freak out when I am on bedrest? (Oh, jeeze, I’d forgotten about just how bad that round of bedrest was.)
Anyway, I’m up now. I put on real clothes and went to lunch yesterday and everything, My PIO is going well (the real trick, I’ve discovered, is not to walk a mile right after shooting oil into your gluteus maximus, just f y’all’s i) and, really I do prefer it to prometrium. The mess was just like a waxy smack in the face on top of the misery of IVF. The shots? Well, they are just shots, no mess. Plus, I feel like a bad ass. (Jokes may be left in the comments.) The one down side is I feel like I am not doing enough to make this embryo stick. I mean, a needle in my ass once a day only takes a few minutes and that’s with all the clean up. Maybe I’ll get some pineapple tomorrow.
My lower abdomen is vaguely crampy, which I am assuming is residual from the retrieval. My boobs re sore and huge(r), which I know is the progesterone. I used a due date calculator today, which I know is stupid. Everything is right on track.
Except Ol’ Three Nuclei, who seems to have, well, done something. I’d forgotten that the lab guy told me on Saturday at the transfer that he was going to let the embryos we weren’t putting back hang out in their posh petri dish for a few more days, just to see what they did. Valium makes one forget, so it’s a good thing M was there for company and mental note taking. Anyway, the lab guy called today, late, and said that Three Nuclei is still growing and is looking *more* normal. Crazy.
If it keeps going until tomorrow, he wants to send it to NJ where they do their PGD and get it tested to see if it is worth freezing. He’s pitched it to them as “of academic interest” and the guy at his level there has said he will do the testing for free, but has to run it by his boss. If it looks good, genetically, then pow! Embryo in the freezer. If not, no loss. Boss is on vacation out of the country. The lab guy is going to see if it’s still in the game tomorrow and biopsy the bit he’d send off and freeze that as well as freeze dear Three Nuclei so if the genetic testing gets done *and* if it comes back normal, then things are ready to go. So we shall see what we see.
The lab guy seems genuinely fascinated and I really wish I could remember all the technical stuff he said. The one stat I do remember was that it had gone from a 3 cell to a 7 cell in around 14 hours on Saturday, which is crazy fast (unknown if this is “good” or “bad”). It’s taken it’s tiny self to blast by today, although there is still this extra “micro nucleus” hanging around. So really, this is all a big experiment, which I feel pretty good about. If I get another viable embryo, fab. If this one isn’t viable, but can shed even the tiniest bit of light into the darkness that is infertility, fab.
The lab guy also feels like the magical turn around (not his term) of little Three Nuclei bodes well for the continued development of the one (The Good One) they put back in me. And so there’s that.
Nothing left but the waiting, y’all.
Or not. Not the little dog, too.
As of around 5 this afternoon, there was one lone “classically fertilized” embryo left. Which is one more than I had at this time last week, so that’s something, right? Right.
Let’s rewind to this morning, after my second shot of PIO (yes, more liquid hurts more, also a mile walk does not equal a serious butt massage with a hot wash cloth; yes, I am still sore; yes, I still like this better than prometrium) when my boss appears on the playground and waits around, patiently, for me to be done dealing with various children and their attendant parents. Turns out she’d gotten two phone calls from the lab because they couldn’t get me on my phone and so she was there to take my place on the playground so I could got find out what the fuck was going on.
Not much. That’s what was going on. The head lab guy reported that two eggs had fertilized and looked good, that four or five were not really acting like they were going to do anything, but that maybe they might, if pigs could fly and hell froze over. And did I want to do rescue ICSI on those eggs? Well, no. I don’t. Thanks, though. That’s thousands more dollars and if there are sperm in any of those four or five an extra sperm being injected into them would send them to their proverbial graves. I made clear that I understood what was going on and that I was willing to take my chances.
So then I went on about my day and awaited the afternoon phone call that had been promised. And I missed it. Because I am still weirded out enough by having a phone that it is often not on and so I missed the lab guy’s call. His voice mail said to call him on his cell phone. Or at home. He really is very nice. Did I tell y’all he’s married to my kindergarten teacher?
Turns out one of the two good looking embryos had taken a turn for the strange and developed three nuclei instead of the usual two. Part of me is all “whoa, shit – that’s amazing!” But the other part is “uum, huh. That doesn’t bode well,” which is the more appropriate response because it doesn’t bode well. For normal development, that is. But since there is only the one other good one left, Old Three Nuclei is being left in the petri dish to see if by some miracle, it chances course and begins to move in a more normal direction. Meanwhile, the 4 or 5 Miss Congenialities for whom I’d refused ICSI were showing no signs of cleaving, which might have won any one of them the honor of second runner up, but they also weren’t dead, so they are also being left in the petri dish. The nice lab guy says it’s stressful for them to be taken in and out of the incubator, so he’s going to leave them alone until Saturday.
So cross your fingers that The Good Looking one keeps on keeping on because that’s all there is.
That’s how many eggs were retrieved today. Good lord. No wonder my ovaries felt like they might pop through my abdomen yesterday.
Contrary to my dream last night, I arrived at the cheater RE’s right on time this morning, maybe a little early, even, thanks to D. Funny, how when one is told that one cannot eat or drink, one is terribly thirsty and hungry. For the record, I am never thirsty.
So anyway, we arrived and found the correct door, helpfully labeled “IVF Room” or some such and then as bonus sign insurance, there was a picture of a 8 celled embryo. Just in case you…. forgot what you were doing there?
So in we went and it was fucking freezing, but that’s how that particular cookie crumbles and they had warmed my gown and footies, so it wasn’t so bad. The very nice nurse asked me why I was there, which made me give her a funny look when I answered “egg retrieval?” And then she told a story about how that question seriously alarmed some woman once and the nurse had to clarify for her that it was to be sure that the patient knew why she was there and that the staff already knew. “Like a test!” I said. And then I asked if I had passed. And she said yes and then the needle she was trying to put in my arm promptly broke. (Ok, not promptly – there may have been some other chatter and some paper work in there.)
The broken IV needle isn’t as dramatic as it sounds, because I’m an easy stick and so I offered her all my other options, which she sweetly didn’t want to use because they are all bruised up from me refusing the weird wrap thing they do with blood draws now. She was dear and didn’t want to stick me where I was already bruised. As she started examining my hand (saying she hates to do hands because she feel like they sting more with the meds) the anesthesiologist came in and, very pleasantly, took over. And stuck my hand. Which was fine.
And then they ushered D out and wheeled me though a door and there I was in the OR.
And then there I was back in the little cold room (which had a great view of the mountains).
Predictably, I cried and D was sweet and comforting and then I was ready to eat my crackers and drink my ginger ale. Then they let me up to pee, which they said was A Good Sign and so then the nice nurse took out my IV and I could get dressed. There may have been more lying in the bed being sniffly than I am remembering, but really for the most part, it was all pretty fast.
I will admit not a small amount of pride in how I gave myself my first PIO injection. The nice nurse and I had a little teaching session (that is, she gave me A Lesson for the Montessori in you) and then she insisted that I dose myself then and there so she could watch to be sure I got it. And it was so fine. Not a big deal. Whew. My boobs got in the way a bit, in terms of the sight lines to my ass, but my friend M later said she used to do hers lying down and that took care of that problem. Tomorrow’s shot will be of a larger volume – same sized needle – which will change things some, but so far I feel like I am much happier with the shots than with the various pessaries and creams and goos and such.
And then I toddled off, well was driven by D, to acu. Which was it’s usual fab self; there were some needles, there was some moxibustion, there was a rub down with liniment and there was the surprise revelation that my acu guy likes si-fi!
My aforementioned friend M, of “lie down for your PIO shot” fame, picked me up from acu (I didn’t want to take up all of D’s day, although she offered several times to stay at acu with me) and treated me to extra strength tylenol, gatorade and a liverwurst bagel. All this after I almost threw up in her car. Y’all, my friends are nice. There was a quick and unpleasant round of nausea as we drive home – I had to ask M to pull over – but once it passed I felt pretty good. Like when you throw up when you’re drunk and then you’re all “I feel great now! Let’s have another drink!” It was weird. Aside from that brief spell of nausea, things were easy. I was good about staying on top of hydration and pain, which I think I wasn’t last time. And there were 17 eggs this time, not 21, which also may have made a difference.
The doctor on today wasn’t Dr. Hot, much to my sadness, but that all ended up ok, too. It was the guy I like least, but he was friendly and more accessible than he was the other day and damn if he didn’t do some loaves and fishes magic with my follicles so I am warming to him. And then we saw Dr. Soap Opera in the elevator as we left, so that was entertaining.
So hooray, the part I was most afraid of is done. (Well, I still have to take some meds that might make me vomit if I don’t take them with food, but that will be ok. It will.) Fertility report tomorrow. Transfer Saturday or Monday.
Oh, I forgot to tell you about the hospital grade pad they nicely put out for me in the bathroom at the Cheater RE’s and my not-pad-friendly undies. You’re welcome.
Ways In Which The Cheater RE Is Not Like Richmond:
- no ipod dock in the room, which was smaller and more sterile looking in general
- nasal cannula was inserted before the meds took effect – I had no idea there was one used on me in Richmond
- sticky monitoring things were stuck on after the meds – in Richmond, they put them on me before I even got to the OR
- my ride/handholder was sent back to the regular waiting room to wait – I think in Richmond, she stayed in the very posh room that was “mine” for the duration of the procedure
- no clock to look at the in OR, while counting down as the anesthesia does it’s thing
- nice view of the mountains (no mountains in Richmond, duh)
I am currently waiting for tomorrow’s beta. And fake-uphostering/slipcovering a chair.
I am taking, in no particular order:
- baby asprin
- otc folic acid
- prescription folate
- crazy Chinese herbs in tea form
I am feeling a little crampy
I am sleeping for shit and waking a million times a night to pee. (One of the wonders of infertility is that the various meds one can take do all the things that various hormones would do if one were in the early stages of a “regular” pregnancy, thus producing pregnancy symptoms, regardless if one is knocked up or no. Fun!)
I am pretty chill, re this cycle working, for no good reason. Or maybe it is the “steroid euphoria”? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.
I am doing restorative yoga with props brought over by T of Tuesday Fame. Props are fun!
I am also doing some little qi gong, as per my acu told me to. First and second brocades, if you care about such things. I sort of love it. Or maybe that’s the steroid euphoria speaking.
I am getting a prog check with tomorrow’s beta, because if that shit is low, I want to bump it right away.
I am a little tired of my blog template. Maybe I will fuck with it tomorrow.
Beta in the morning, y’all. Beta in the motherfucking morning.
So. You want to hear about my IVF cycle? Yeah. I know you do. It’s a riveting tale of drugs! and money! and my bruised belly. Money! Drugs! Bruises!
Okey doke. Now that you’re all settled in and ready, let’s see if I can make this some sort of coherent narrative….
Sometime back in June, I started Lupron (meds and jabbies courtesy of one of the ever generous members of the IVP). Oh, it was fun at first! I had to draw up 10 units of liquid into my little syringe and then pinch up some belly fat and jab it right in – 90º angle! – and then push the plunger in and it fulfilled all my medical fantasies. So fun! I was so hardcore! I could stick myself with a needle every night and not care! Woo and hoo! Lucky for me, I had really no side effects from the lupron – maybe menopause will be a breeze?
And then it started to get old. The injection sites would itch a bit and I gave myself one good sized bruise and the sheer waste of using a new needle every night…. I mean, I was and am grateful that I pulled together the money to do this and I tried to keep my proverbial chin up, but sheesh…. The constant jabbing seemed like adding injury to infertile insult.
Ha! And it wasn’t over! Once I hit cd 1 again, things really started getting good. I added – yes! – more meds! more needles! Now, let’s pause a minute to note that I really, really don’t mind needles. I have a mess of tattoos; I like to watch the lab guy do my blood draws; I pierced my own ears several times as a teenager (maybe we all did?). But the repetition of these all these IVF needles…. well, it was, as I said, getting old. So the news meds kicked in, one after the other: stims to rev my ovaries into overdrive, menopure to help with the overdrive and bump up the LH and then finally the big gun of the trigger. Looking at my protocol, I think I may even have been on the light side, in terms of the number of things I had to inject into my gut, so really, I know I didn’t have it as bad as other folks, but again, sheesh…
I was just… tired of it. Old, as I said. Do I seem to be repeating myself?
And in among the ritualized jabbings, there were wandings and bloodwork and phone calls. Oh, the phone calls. When you combine the new RE’s necessarily crazy schedule with my lack of a cell phone and inability to take calls at work, well, there was a lot of phone tag. See, for this IVF thing, I have become the proud owner of not one but two – yes, 2! – REs. My very dear doc here doesn’t have the facilities to do IVF, so he sends the serious infertiles to another RE in Richmond. All wandings and bloodwork are done here, retrieval and transfer in Richmond. There are, by necessity, a lot of phone calls and faxing. Anyway, it seems to be, in most cases, a very fruitful partner ship. My dear RE here very quietly quoted me a success rate that’s so high I don’t even dare to commit it to the internets.
So there were jabbed meds, there were wandings and bloodwork and phone calls and I threw acupuncture in there for good measure. And was it ever the best part of the whole deal. I really don’t want to sound too whiny here. I know other folks have a far harder time. It’s just I was, well, tired. From the meds a little, but more from five fucking years of beating my head against the same damn wall.
Um… where the hell are we in this “narrative”? Oh, yes. The trigger. For those lucky ones of you who haven’t been to infertility boot camp, trigger is the lay term for a big ass shot of HCG (that’s human chorionic gonadotropin to you, mister). In one’s ass. See, all those other jabs were in my belly, just into the nice layer of fat that’s there. But the HCG needs to go into the muscle. Fun times! I had a friend come over and do it for me. It’s too hard to stick your own self in the ass. At midnight. Because that’s how the Richmond RE told me to roll.
And now we get the the good part! Settle back into your seats, kids. Now we are at the egg retrieval part. This is where is starts to suck. Not in terms of outcome – go back and read the stats from the other day – but in terms of how I felt. Even with the tiredness and general blah of infertility, I never really felt physically bad. But, whooeee, was I a mess after the retrieval. Let’s tell it like a campfire story:
It was a bright and sunny day…… cho-girl and I left her house early so as to get the the new fancy pants clinic at my appointed time. I had, as instructed, neither eaten nor drunk anything at all since midnight. I was hungry. And I missed my bff, coffee, so bad it hurt. Poor me!
After getting almost lost and very certainly intimidated by the grand lobby of the fancy pants clinic, I was put in a gown and given cute socks and and allowed to pee and hooked up to an IV and then rolled away to the OR. I remember nothing after the rolly bed left the room. The drug guy, let’s call him Frank, as that’s his name, was good. And then I woke up. Still in the rolly bed, back in my room, where cho-girl had cued up the post egg retrieval playlist from the gf, who couldn’t be there herself. And then I was a little weepy. I think anesthesia does that to me? But otherwise ok. The clinic folks were so nice and they gave me crackers and ginger ale and continued to laugh at my jokes. Then they wheeled me out to the waiting Subaru to be taken home.
Oh, let’s make this a cliffhanger, shall we? This post is long enough as it is. Tune in later to hear how the aftermath went. Titled, “Hydrocodne and I Are Not BFFs.” or, “How About Some More Hippie Gatorade?”
There seems to be a flame war in the comments for my past post – Wheeeeeee! (For the record, I will sell my soul for welsh cakes.)
Today’s lunch: tuna salad from the ever charming good old JG with arugula and red leaf lettuce from the market. Log your lunch. You know you want to.
Off to take my 200 mg of prometrium……