Transfer Day and Blood Test

Tuesday was a great day!  We went to the doctor’s office, and they transferred two embryos.  One was 1BB, and the other was 1BC (Grade A is the best, but B’s are not bad).  I got a call yesterday saying they were able to freeze 4 other embryos, varying from 1CC to 1AA.  When we were filling out some extra paperwork, they gave us our blood test day — May 15th.  Seeing the 15th on paper felt surreal.  It made everything feel like it has gone by so fast, even though we have done a lot leading up to this point.

As far as meds go, I just finished two of them, so I am not only on progesterone (crinone and prometrium) and estrogen patches (starting Tuesday).  No major side effects yet except my sleep cycle is all screwed up.  I am not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs, which is very strange to me.  I constantly catch myself picking up boxes or a very full laundry basket, only to have to drop them quickly!  Despite doctor’s orders (and the fact that I am following them), I do not truly believe picking up something over 5 lbs would hurt anything, though.

One thing I noticed today is that I have lost quite a bit of weight, especially over the past week since the egg retrieval.  I have heard that fertility drugs can cause you to gain weight, but that is definitely not true in my case.  I have been trying to eat so healthily and avoid caffeine that I had not even considered making sure I am eating enough.  So, I am going to see if I can remedy this (I am feeling lots of grapes, pineapple and bacon; strange combination, but yummy!), at least until we find out if we are pregnant, then re-evaluate.

Overall, I feel like we have been incredibly blessed to have such an easy cycle with little pain and side effects.  I know this is not the case for everyone, so I am very grateful.  I am also so grateful for this feeling of peace and being able to set aside all worries I may have had for this treatment and just let God handle it.  Regardless of the outcome, I know we will come out of this stronger.

Quick Update: Egg Retrieval and Fertilization

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has contacted me letting me know you have been praying for us!

I want to give you all a quick update of what happened over the past couple of days.  Yesterday morning, we went in for my egg retrieval.  All of the nurses, the anesthesiologist and doctor were amazing.  I remember falling asleep, then I woke up to find that they had retrieved 10 eggs (that was our goal!).  I have been quite bloated and crampy since coming home; however, it has gotten better throughout today.  The embryologist called this morning to let us know that 9 of the eggs were mature and properly fertilized!  She will call back on Sunday to let me know how they are doing and how many have continued to grow.  Then, we will do a 5-day transfer (so that puts us at Tuesday for the transfer!).  I will again have to stay at home and rest that day; resting is actually hard for me to do.  I feel guilty for just sitting/lying in bed all day, despite the doctor telling me to do so.

Here are some fun (okay, that may have been sarcastic for a few of them) things I learned over the past two days:

1. The enema is not your enemy.  It actually was not bad at all, and it was over quickly.  My stomach felt good and I, surprisingly, was not hungry again til I woke up around noon after the transfer (despite having not eaten since about 8:30pm the night before).  If you know me at all, you know I am generally a pretty hungry person!

2. I am not allowed to take antihistamines over the next couple of weeks, as it may interfere with the implantation process.  Zyrtec is my best friend; I usually take it every night.  So, we will have to see how my allergies handle not being handled ;).

3. Gatorade, soup and pretzels have been the main portion of my diet, as the doctor recommends drinking lots of fluids and eating salty foods to deal with bloat.  It seems to be working!

4. Progesterone makes you sleepy….very, very sleepy…I am now on more drugs than when I was stimming.  Well, I just can’t mix them together like I could when doing the shots.  I am on different drugs right now, then I will add one more to the mix a week after the transfer — I should get to stop taking two others at that point.

I am looking forward to the phone call on Sunday, but I am trying to not think about that too much and focus on getting myself rested for work tomorrow.  Thanks again for all of your support!

Stims and Egg Retrieval Day

I am very happy to report that I am finished with my stim meds (bravelle, menopur and ganirelix) and experienced no major side effects!  I felt slightly more emotional on certain days, and I was exhausted on certain days, but those were not necessarily due to the meds.  I have had very little bruising, and I only had slight swelling/itching due to the ganirelix.  All-in-all, I would say it went super well!

On a side-note: I am pretty sure I am a pro at giving myself shots now.  Because you have to take them on a schedule, you must prepare to take them wherever you are at that time of day.  So, this morning I had planned on taking my medication after my appointment at the doctor’s office.  In the midst of talking about all of the preparations for our egg retrieval (ERT), I forgot all about it until I had driven about a block down the service road.  So, I pulled into a parking lot, mixed my meds and gave myself the injection in the car.  It was the first time I truly felt like a druggee, and I was just waiting for a cop to pull up and ask what in the world I was doing!

On another side-note: I have been amazed at how much peace God has provided me with throughout this process so far, along with how little I have worried about things (which is very unlike me — I tend to over-analyze every little thing and worry).  For instance, yesterday I went in for another blood draw and sonogram in the morning, planning to go to work right after the appointment.  Well, little did I know that the doctor would want me to take one extra injection today (that we did not have mailed to us in our big box of meds a couple of weeks ago).  It was too late to order it from the pharmacy, as they would not be able to get it to me by the time I needed to take the shot today.  So, I had to drive about 40 minutes in the opposite direction from work to go to a fertility Walgreens pharmacy (I did not know these existed!) and wait over two hours for it to be ready.  The normal me would have been trying to re-plan my whole day and worrying about what I was not going to have time to do; the calm-and-collected me simply called my Assistant and let him know I would be late.

As aforementioned, I have an Assistant at work.  I hate calling him an Assistant because he truly is more like a co-Director than an Assistant Director.  He started out as an Instructor, and he was promoted to AD in September ’14.  I had never had another full-time employee to help me out, but it was perfect timing.  I finally started feeling comfortable enough to start these fertility treatments, as I now had help and could rely on someone to handle the center while I was gone (even in the mornings/early afternoons – depending on the day).  He is also committed to running a Godly center and cares about the kids and employees as much as I do; I am so thankful God brought him to us!

Back to the schedule: ERT day is Thursday — it sorta snuck up on me, as it feels like just yesterday we were scheduling our initial sonogram appointment.  I have 10 follicles that have been growing well (but I think only 9 will be ready come Thursday), and we are praying that we will have 2 eggs fertilize and grow throughout the process so we can transfer both.  If more fertilize and grow, we will freeze them, but it is unlikely many more than 2 will make it.

David has to work an overtime shift on Thursday, so I am thankful that my mom is going to drive to the doctor’s office and take me home after the retrieval. Tomorrow, I will have some unpleasant preparations to take care of (all of you other ladies doing IVF know EXACTLY what I am talking about!), but I know it will all be worth it!

I am taking my Ovidrel injection in about thirty minutes, then I am headed to bed so I can go to work early and get some stuff done before I take off for the next two days.

Please keep praying for peace and relaxation over the next few weeks.  Thanks for your support :).

Would You Like a Killer Cookie? I Incyst.

It has been an eventful week!  While still recovering from the stomach bug, I finished off my Ganirelix and am still taking Minivelle patches.  Other than the stinging, I did not experience any side-effects.  I was able to have my staff meeting on Tuesday (we had rescheduled it due to my stomach bug), for which I made my mom’s killer cookie recipe.  I had forgotten how delicious those cookies truly are!!!

With the different drugs in my system, I ended up starting this cycle on Thursday (three days early), which interfered with multiple plans.  I had to stay home from work on Thursday, cancel plans with my dad, cancel plans with my sister-in-law and her husband, miss a regional meeting for work (to which I was looking forward), and not get much sleep.

Despite the endo pain, David took me to the doctor this morning for the baseline sonogram and to see how to mix the Bravelle and Menopur shot.  The doctor decided to drain my cyst in preparation for the IVF.  I have had a cyst on my left ovary ever since we first began treatments, so it was not surprising that it was still there, but the doctor caught me off guard by wanting to drain it today.  Because I did not have much time to think about it, I did not have time to get too anxious.  Although the procedure was unpleasant, the doctor did a great job, and it was fairly quick.  Now there is even more room for the follicles to develop!

I start my stim meds tomorrow; I am interested to see how my body reacts to such high dosages of these meds.  My nurse informed me I should try to take them on a regular schedule (12 hours apart) for the best results.  We shall see what happens, but I am still feeling at peace with each step, and all is well.  I am so thankful that God is watching over this process and guiding us and our doctor/nurse.  Please continue to pray that I respond well to the medicines and I do not have serious side-effects.  Thanks so much!

One more thing: the turkey meatballs from my last post turned out great!  There was so much meat that I decided to scramble some eggs into the leftover meat for breakfast.  It was delicious.

Paleo Turkey Meatballs!

I am happy to report that today was the first day I felt about 90% better all day!  I did not go to church, just in case I still had the germs (I do NOT want to give this to anyone!), but I am pretty sure I am in the clear.  I was praying a lot about getting better quickly, as I did not want to combine starting the ganirelix and estrogen patches with the stomach bug.  In my mind, I had blown it out of proportion: I had decided that I had developed a stomach infection after the stomach bug or had a parasite that would take weeks/months of treatment, which would interfere with the IVF, and I would not be able to tell if it was the fertility drugs or the parasite causing all of the trouble.  I also thought I would lose 7 more pounds if this continued (that is right, I lost almost 7 pounds due to this stomach bug!).   The aforementioned is exactly how my worrisome mind works, but I generally do not let it get past my imagination and into my everyday life thoughts.

Despite that worry, I am still very peaceful when it comes to thinking about the IVF.  I must admit that my mind is not as focused on other things, so planning ahead for work (I promise I used to be very good at multi-tasking and not forgetting to do anything, at least at work) and meal-planning at home have been put onto the back-burner.

I managed to get together a meal-plan last night for the upcoming week.  Today, I went to the store, washed all veggies, made chicken treats for Sam (see dehydrator pic; it is my favorite thing ever!), and prepped the meatballs.  Tomorrow, we will be having some delicious (well, they look and smell delicious) Paleo Turkey Meatballs.  I decided to make 21 meatballs, and then tomorrow morning I am going to try and scramble the remaining mixture with eggs for some quick meals other days, along with make pancakes (not Paleo, but they use greek yogurt and bananas!).

As for meds, I began ganirelix last night.  My husband had reminded me to not search the internet and read about IVF (or anything medical, in fact), as I tend to believe much of what I read and get anxious.  For instance, when Sam (our boxer) was younger, he had a white growth on his lower gum under his teeth.  I immediately searched the internet and decided he had cancer or needed an organ transplant; if I remember correctly, I even offered (whilst crying) to donate my organs to him, if need be. 🙂  Yes, I know I overreacted slightly… Turns out it was a non-cancerous tumor that would go away on its own — very common apparently.  All that said, I actually had not searched the internet much or talked in depth with any friends who have had an IVF treatment up until last night.  After taking the ganirelix shot, I immediately got online, as my stomach was stinging like crazy!  I had expected it to feel similar to ovidrel or even bravelle, but it definitely did NOT.  It turns out that others describe ganirelix as feeling like a bee sting, and I would have to agree (if I could ever remember getting stung by a bee…but I can imagine).  Well, tonight was similar, but it stung slightly less.

Overall, it is a small price to pay for a family!  Please continue praying for us to have a smooth IVF process and, of course, for it to be successful!  You can see a few, fun photos below.  Before I got sick, I decided to pull all of the weeks and dead plants out of the front flower bed and actually plant new things.  Sam loved going to Home Depot with me to get flowers!

Sam with Flowers Flowers Dehydrator

Stomach Bug and Ganirelix

Quick Update: Although I had planned on getting a lot done this week and doing a second meal plan, we all know how plans get completely turned upside down the majority of the time!  I came down with a stomach bug on Tuesday, did not eat until Thursday (a banana and some crackers — my stomach did NOT appreciate the crackers), and am still feeling ill.  I do believe I am on the mend — it is just a slow mend.

Tomorrow is the first day of Ganirelix and patches.  I am interested to see how my body handles them, especially since I am still tied to the bathroom and not eating much of anything.  I have experience with Bravelle, Femara and Ovidrel from our IUI treatments, but I have not taken the majority of the medicine in my IVF plan.  So, this will definitely be a journey!  I pray that my body handles all medications with ease (especially so I do not have to take off more days from work; I feel like I have been very inconsistent as of late, with vacation, getting very sick at the end of January/early February and now, as well as the unknown future days off for treatment/pregnancy stuff) and that God guides us through each step safely.

That’s all for now; work in the morning to get caught up!

I appreciate all of your support and prayers :).

Trial Transfer = Piece of Cake!

I am happy to report that today was a huge success.  In fact, this week has been pretty successful overall.  I planned on making 7 different meals, and I ended up making 5, and David liked 3 of them (he has not tried one yet).  The chili, as I suspected, was WAAAAAAAY too spicy — even David said it was too hot after it had sat in the fridge overnight.  I will have to go back to my old recipe, which is delicious.  The Maple-Thyme Chicken with Sweet Potatoes was delicious; the Pulled Pork and Radishes were great (although David did not appreciate the radishes); the Ribs were good — I may use a different BBQ sauce next time, though; the Beef Stroganoff smells yummy (eating it tomorrow).  While we ate healthily for the majority of the week, we skipped the Shrimp Scampi on Thursday and went to see Furious 7 instead (that means we ate popcorn for dinner…delicious, buttery popcorn).  I still need to make Deviled Eggs and Plantain Tortillas.  Sam enjoyed his sweet potato chips that I made earlier in the week; I also sliced some older sweet potatoes to make more chips throughout the week and never got around to it.

This morning was my trial transfer for the IVF.  This is basically a test-run for the doctor so he knows exactly what angle the catheter will need to go and get some measurements.  Our doctor said everything looks perfect and it will be a very easy transfer.  I think I am starting to understand why I felt to anxious at the end of January when we thought about starting an IVF cycle for the first time.

The practice we go to has three doctors, and we had seen two of the three (one doctor did two of our IUI’s, then another one did the other IUI).  The third doctor is actually the most experienced of them and is the head of the practice.  We got notice after we had started this cycle that both of the doctors I have seen were moving their practice too far away for us to follow, and I was nervous (at first) and felt a bit betrayed (that he had not told us prior to starting the treatment; he knew we had issues with our previous doctor with scheduling and appointments).  Having said that, those feelings went away fairly quickly, and I somehow decided to just go with it and not worry about it (not like me at all!).

I met the third doctor today, and I absolutely LOVE him!  He is amazing, super encouraging and very detail-oriented.  He knows what he is doing and has a special interest in our particular case, as it is a very aggressive treatment protocol for IVF.  My AMH level is extremely low — almost non-existent — which means I will have less eggs to work with during treatments and in the future.  Normally, women do not have to worry about this until their mid-thirties or later, but I need to be aware of it and act accordingly now.  Our doctor is already taking great care of us, and I left the office thinking that I am so blessed we get to have him do the treatment!  I was so nervous and felt restless the first time we tried to do the treatment that we switched to another IUI instead; now I am excited and ready-to-go.  God works in mysterious ways, but He knows what He is doing.  I am at peace with this treatment, and I think God was making sure I waited for this doctor to do the treatment.  Pray that he uses our doctor and guides his thoughts and actions through the entire treatment.

My treatment calendar is complicated, and I will have a lot of meds in me, so I will need to go in for sonograms at least every other day once we begin the stimulation cycle (next cycle).  For now, I will be on a few patches and ganirelix injections.  We have a few more blood tests to do this week, but that is the easiest part!

As exciting as this all is, it is my bedtime.  Thanks so much for your prayers and well-wishes.  Have a blessed week!