Man Down!

I have always had finicky veins – they’re hard to find and weak. When I was in the hospital for a ruptured ovarian cyst I remember having 9 different techs and nurses try to find a vein only to eventually end up in my foot. (Which was almost as painful as the cyst!)

Well finicky veins and IVF do not mix. I am beat up man, beat up bad. If you didn’t know better you would think I am a heroin addict. The inner crook of my arms are completely out of business and my hands aren’t far behind.

The phlebotomist explained she might have to go through a little scar tissue but she found a side vein she was going to try. “Ok, big pinch here. Just bear with me…”

And darkness…

It was only a few seconds but fainting while giving blood was a first. I had many close calls but never actually had the real shebang. A nurse had joined her now and they were both standing over me lying back in the chair.

“Breathe, just breathe. You’re ok, we just lost you there for a second. Keep breathing you’re getting some color back.”

After laying for what felt like forever with ice packs behind my neck, I finally was able to stand up and felt myself literally peeling from my chair. I hadn’t realized that I had completely sweated through all of my clothes and my shirt was now visibly damp. The embarrassment I felt in that moment was overwhelming and I got emotional. I wasn’t embarrassed I passed out, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t control my body functions and had left the evidence on the chair.

My phlebotomist didn’t even skip a beat, she reached out and hugged me – sweat and all. “Don’t you ever apologize for something like this, ok? You couldn’t control that and I am so sorry I caused it. Don’t you worry yourself or clean that up, you just go relax.”

I don’t know if I will be doing much relaxing but her embrace was just what I needed in the moment. That and a new arm for the rest of the blood work in my future.

I thought there would be more….

I woke up this sunny Sunday morning excited for my first ultrasound. DH and I even planned for a little shopping and lunch expedition at the mall near the Lone Tree office after we were done. I couldn’t wait to see how my follicles (and future babies!) were developing. For some reason, I never had DH come back with me for my ultrasound and this time I wished I did.

As the ultrasound tech scanned and jammed the ultrasound wand around I watched as her face continued to drop. I looked up at the screen and saw only 3 follicles on my right and 5 on the left.

“1985, that makes you 29, huh?” she asks.

“Yes, why?”

“Just curious… Ok we’re done. Let me go get the nurse and we’ll go from there.”

Lisa, the on call nurse, came in to the room and I could see the sticky in her hand – it was nearly blank.

“You’re responding a little slower than we like to see but it’s still early. Dr M is actually on call today so she’ll be able to review your file personally and we’ll call you by 4pm with next steps. It’s probably best if you see the receptionist at the front desk and ask her to schedule a regroup with Dr M for either Monday or Tuesday.”

Tears instantly start flowing, I couldn’t believe it. “I just don’t get it, I thought I would have more. My left ovary is usually my star, are you sure there are only 3?”

“I understand this hard and I know you wanted to see different results but like I mentioned, it’s still early. Things can really change. Try to relax and we’ll chat in a little bit.”

I couldn’t stop at the reception desk, I walked straight out the door leaving DH scrambling to grab his book and coffee from the waiting room and chasing after me.

I cried. Hard. And bless his heart, DH cried too. He reminded me the nurse said we’re not out of the game and we have to stay positive.

In that moment, I couldn’t care less about being positive. And that’s not who I am. I wanted to scream F-YOU and eat a carton of cookies and cream ice cream.

I did everything they told me to do… EVERYTHING… and somehow even with high doses of stims I had even less follicles than my AFC. I was crushed and in that moment I couldn’t care less about being positive.

Dear ovaries: YOU HAD ONE JOB. Figure it the F out.

Lisa called around 1pm and explained that my bloodwork was reassuring and Dr M understood my concern but said don’t worry yet. And instead of upping my stims, they’re going to add in Clomid to my protocol and check again in 3 days.

“Give those guys some time to come out of hiding, ok?”

Coming Out

How do you explain to friends that don’t know you’re going through IVF that you can’t meet for dinner because you have to be home at an exact time to jam a needle in your stomach without seeming like you’re being anti-social and blowing the off?

How do you politely explain to a friend who does know why another friend doesn’t?

How do you even find the right time and place to finally open up to those you feel comfortable with about this process?

For me, it’s not been easy. I have told maybe 10 people and each time I feel more and more vulnerable. My mind just spins – what are they thinking? Are they judging me? Are they wondering whose fault it is? Are they going to ask a lot of questions? Do they even understand what IVF really means?

One girlfriend was totally taken aback and said “oh wow wow wow. Ok, well good luck I guess.” and then sent me a two page email the next day explaining she was taken off guard and honestly never knew anyone who went through it so she didn’t know how to react. She also spent hours researching the IVF process, endometriosis, and how to support someone struggling infertility. Another girlfriend immediately just hugged me and said “I won’t ask any questions, you tell me when you want to talk.” You never know what you’re going to get but keeping it together in the moment is hard.

I chair a committee for Junior League and it’s very clear to those on my team that something is up. That being said, only one lady out of 60 has any idea what is going on. Why? Because women are mean and women judge – and half of them are VERY pregnant and we all know how fun that is.

My girlfriend asked me the other day why I hadn’t told my co-chair and I simply said “She told me at dinner that she doesn’t like kids, doesn’t see herself having them and thinks all of her friends who have kids have horrible lives they don’t enjoy. Even if we don’t agree, it was clear she would likely never understand.”

Flash forward to this weekend and said co-chair and good friend of mine asked if DH and I wanted to come over for dinner and drinks. We just talked about how DH and I were free and I don’t want to lie to her but I also wasn’t about to be like “gee would love to but I have be home for an injection.” I explain we’ve had a busy week (which wasn’t a lie!) and I wanted to lay low for a few days. She was totally understanding but I felt like she thought something was a little off.

I feel just horrible, I feel like I am being shady and dishonest. And it doesn’t help with the whole keeping your stress low thing. I just want this process to feel authentic and for me that means keeping it close to the heart. I feel bad for likely not giving many of those closest to me enough credit but the fear of judgment and rejection is so strong, I can’t get myself to say it out loud.

Did you follow the directions?

This morning was my second freak-out of the cycle. (First being my FedEx breakdown. Good times.) As I laid on the bed icing my stomach watching DH mix and prep my injection I couldn’t help but notice he was struggling……

“Are you sure that’s the right amount, seems like a lot?”

“I can’t get all of it out, like the needle must be messed up.”

I ask to try and as I pulled the medicine up in the vial I noticed half the sodium chloride was still in the canister but we already had 1cc of fluid in the syringe.

“How much dilutant did you put in here?!?!” I shriek.

“The whole bottle of it, 2cc or so.”

“WHAT? It’s only supposed to be ONE. Do you not remember having leftover fluid yesterday and you even commenting it’s weird they give you extra? What if the shot is over-diluted and doesn’t work now?!”

“Honey, I am really sorry. I messed up but it’s going to be ok, it’s still the same amount of powder.”

At this point I am hysterically crying and basically feel like the world is ending. It’s 6:45am and the office isn’t open yet so I can’t call but I have to stay on medication schedule – what do I do?!?!

We make the executive decision thanks to Google to give me the shot as is and call the office as soon as they open. While Menopur is probably the most painful of the subcutaneous injections, none of these shots have been nearly as bad as I thought they would be. Well this one stung like a bitch.

DH went off to work and I decided to stay home to call my nurse just in case I need another dose. At this point I would actually say my nurse and I are friends. (I think this happens a lot when you have a nurse you actually like and see daily.) She’s my age, she’s funny, she’s incredibly patient and kind, she’s knowledgeable, she doesn’t get annoyed with my excessive questions and need for more information, and she has endo too. She also knows I am a little bit of an anxiety prone A-type….

“Did we completely ruin my whole cycle? OMG like what if they stop growing because they need more Menopur…” (Yes, I realize how crazy this sounds is as I write it out.)

She just laughs “You’re not dying, all you did was make the shot a bit more painful than usual because of the extra sodium chloride. I promise you, everything will be ok and you still got the appropriate dose.”

After she talked me off the ledge I texted DH and just said “Shanna said I am dying. Whole cycle a bust.”

He didn’t think it was too funny. Apparently my hysteria made him feel pretty bad and I couldn’t help but laugh. We’re both rational adults and I nearly strangled him over 1cc of dilutant.

I apologized but this reminded me to be gentle with him. He’s going through this process too and he’s being really amazing about it all. He gives me every shot. He brings me an ice pack and ginger ale when I feel nauseous. He cooks dinner every night and never makes me lift a finger around the house. He takes me to every single appointment when he’s not working. He says all of my crazy hippie affirmations and even lays with me as I do fertility focused meditations.

He’s as good of an IVF husband as I could have ever dreamed of and I need to remember that, even if sometimes he forgets to follow directions… 😀

Let the Stimulation Begin

This morning at 6:45am DH gave me my first shot of Menopur. As I laid on the bed and watched him mix the powder and switch needles I couldn’t help but get emotional. I watched as DH’s eyes welled with tears seeing the streaks down my cheeks and I knew we both felt the same way.

This was not the idea we had when we discussed starting a family. This wasn’t fair. This shouldn’t be happening to us. We’re good people and want a child – how did it come this? When you’re growing up you don’t dream of falling in love, getting married and paying $30k for a sliver of a shot to have a kid.

He asked if I was ready and I nodded, covered my face with a stuffed bear he had given me that I treasure dearly, and breathed deep as he pushed the fluid into my abdomen. I continued to softly cry as he laid next to me in silence. I wasn’t crying because of the pain, I was crying because somehow in that moment everything was finally real.

You would think it was real the day the clinic cashed our check and the medications I chased down arrived at my door but no. It didn’t seem real during priming and my suppression check was so quick that I didn’t even have to process my nurse Shanna saying “everything looks great, we’re good to go!” Perhaps I was in a bit of denial.

I have accepted that IVF is our fate but it’s real now. There’s no turning back…

Well my first weekend of priming injections wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I cried during the first one and the Cetrotide stung a bit but it was nothing a little meditation and warm tea couldn’t help.  What I could do without – the hot flashes and waves of nausea from the Estrace. Oh Lawdy I feel like a 50 year old woman going through menopause.

I go in for my suppression check on Wednesday and if everything goes as scheduled have stims starting on Thursday. Positive thoughts for no cysts!

 

Round 1, Priming Day 1

You gotta start somewhere, right?

Well today I started my estrogen priming – one little blue pill and my first round of IVF has officially begun. I add in my first injection, Cetrotide, tomorrow. I know I have a lot more injections in my future but for some reason I have a feeling that first one will be the scariest.

Wish me luck!

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