Relief…

Relief comes over me.

My body put in such a great effort to create these eggs and I am beyond grateful for the outcome.

The process was the same as last time.

I arrived at Shady Grove, Atlanta at 7:45am and was greeted with a friendly staff who has gotten to know me over the past two cycles.

At 8am, I was taken back into the coveted “IVF Suite” and ushered into the same staging room as my last retrieval.

After some brief conversation and the exchange of Hubby’s sample, I change into the ever-attractive hospital gown, hair net and booties. No picture this time.

Dr. B comes in with such a happy voice and we talk through the steps of the procedure.

The nurse explains all the aftercare with me and then my anesthesiologist walks in.

Blown vein

“My veins are tricky”, I say.

I tell everyone this who is about to prick me.

There have been multiple occasions when I’m pricked like a pin bag in order to get a blood draw. Other times my vein is blown.

Today is no exception.

Although she did her best, she did blow my vein and yet was able to save it.

Phew! I’ll just look like a druggy for a few days which is better then being pricked again with an IV starter needle.

Before I know it, I’m wheeled down that chilly, familiar hallway into the OR room.

It’s cold.

I have goose-bumps and my feet are ice cubes.

Onto the retrieval table I go with my legs in the stirrups and my bottom hanging off the end of the table.

It’s only a matter of moments when I fall into the deep sleep only to wake up in a different room.

Completely out of it!

I am crying.

I have tears of joy and relief.

The egg retrieval is finally over and I can rest knowing that I have done my part.

I find myself crying and praying (possibly out loud) to God and praising Him for all that he has done.

It’s so lonely not having Hubby there by my side- Darn COVID.

Dr. B quickly moves in and shares with me that we have 14 eggs! The 16 follicles that were counted yesterday were drained today and we were blessed with 14 eggs.

I praise God again for this outcome, audacious with my faith in Him.

He has done this in me and has gifted us with these eggs.

It is finished!

We call Hubby so Dr. B can share the outcome (I think she saw that I was still pretty loopy). Check out the pic

When I am strong enough to stand, I cloth myself and shuffle out to meet my family.

The rest of the day is full of horizontal living. Giving my body the space and time it needs to heal.

I’m grateful the bleeding has slowed; this is a sign that I will not have any complications tonight.

It’s time to put this tired and well-deserved body to bed.

Egg Retrieval Day!

7:30am, I arrive at Shady Grove Fertility, Atlanta ready to release these precious follicles to the care of my medical team.

I was the first patient this morning so everything went incredibly smooth.

Hubby was not able to come because of the COVID restrictions, so I asked God to be with me as I walked down the familiar hall and into the intriguing door on the left marked “IVF Suite” I had seen so many times in the days prior.

I undressed and weighed myself, put on my hair net and booties and nestled into the medical bed that was draped with a thick white blanket.

Within a matter of 15 minutes, I had met my nurse, the doctor performing the retrieval and my anesthesiologist.

I signed, dated paperwork and got the deep poke of an IV into my left-hand vein.

Wheeled on the gurney down the chilly, white walled hallway into the OR room where I felt only cold air surround my vulnerable body.

Looking over at the all too familiar retrieval table, flashbacks for my first retrieval came to mind.

Fear of that exposed space, I asked God for a lot of help and support as I stood up and shuffled ever so gently over to the table, with my IV in tow.

The table was long enough for the trunk of my body and my head. I had to sit at the very edge (almost as though I was falling off) and lay back. I then lifted my legs into two platform like cushions, and although comfortable in theory, incredibly unguarded and exposing.

I was grateful for the warm, white blanket that comforted me and covered the top part of my body until the burning anesthesia entered my veins.

I was out.

As I came to, I was back in the recovery room, foggy in thought and yet comfortable.

I learned that from the estimated 16 follicles, 10 eggs were retrieved.

I began to cry with sadness.

“Will that be enough?”, I feared.

I am so sad, my heart drops.

“What if we are not able to have a viable embryo from these 10?”

The first retrieval 20 eggs were retrieved.

My heart feels heavy.

I am so scared.

I just want to have another baby. What does this mean for us?

Hubby is not there to hold my hand. Tears run down my face. I feel so defeated.

I try and turn my thoughts to the positive because there is a lot that can happen with 10 eggs.

I just want to go home, to my real home.

I will have to settle for my in-laws house and am glad that all I need to do is rest and recover for the rest of the day.

What am I grateful for? I have to shift my mind.

  • Grateful to not be as sore as I was the first time around.
  • Grateful to have been given this chance in the first place.
  • Grateful my body responded with these eggs.

Sleep, water, Tylenol.

We will wait the phone call that will come tomorrow from nurse Emily where we will learn how many of the 10 were mature eggs and how many were successfully fertilized.

“Lord, I know you are in control.”

I know you know the desires of our hearts and I know this is an opportunity to trust you and have faith in what I cannot see.  

——–

The next day-

The phone rings at the perfect time.

I answer.

It’s Nurse Emily and she is happy to report that out of the 10 eggs that were retrieved, 7 of them reached a mature size.

Not bad… I have to keep thinking and looking for the good in this.

“Hilary, this retrieval is different than the first, it’s not helpful to compare”.

Seven is wonderful, that means only three of the eggs were not large enough and that is a much better ratio than I had the first round.

Then she gave me this gift… all seven of those mature eggs fertilized!!

Wahoo! 100%, can’t get better than that.

With this news, we pack up our bags and head to the airport. It’s time to head home and begin the recovery week… and more waiting.

Pokes & Prayers

Cycle Day 9 (medicine day 7)

We are 7 days into the medications and on cycle day 9. The protocol has been a little different this time around and I’m trying to let it go.

Daily pokes and a lot of prayer.

Cycle day 1- called the office and set up my appointment
Cycle day 3- had my baseline ultrasound, blood work appointment and started the injections
Cycle day 7- ultrasound, blood work

I was supposed to go in on Cycle day 9 (today) but since my ultrasound showed the follicles being smaller than desired, my protocol changed.
The Menopur dose increased from 75IU to 225IU- talk about a major increase in the burning sensation I feel as the medication enters my body.
Instead of going in today for the next monitoring appointment, I will go tomorrow.
I am just praying that my body is responding well to the increase and we have more healthy follicles that are larger and more on track for egg retrieval.

Offering syringes along with prayers, churches help IV drug users - STAT

This is what my nurse, Emily, said could be our next steps if all goes well.
Cycle day 10- ultrasound, blood work (tomorrow)
Cycle day 12- ultrasound, blood work
Cycle day 13- ultrasound, blood work

From there, I am not sure if I will return on cycle day 14 or if things will look good enough to do the dual trigger shot and schedule the egg retrieval.

Oh, dear Lord, this can be a little anxiety producing.

I thought after our first cycle, the doctors would have changed the protocol to be more fitting for my body. I was only partially surprised when I got the call that my body wasn’t responding as they thought and they needed to increase the dose, therefore putting us behind schedule a few days. That’s what happened with our first cycle so I’m trying to remain positive that all is well and we will have a successful, desirable outcome.

For today, I rest a lot and just trust that these daily pokes mixed with a lot of prayer of peace and surrender to God’s will, will in fact be the balance I need to rest and relax into God’s hands through this journey.

Gonal F- 225 IU
Menopur- 225 IU

Cycle day 10 (medicine day 9)

I’m trying to let go of the comparison between last time and this. It’s been a different experience and although incredibly grateful for all the care we have received so far.
Today, I went in for a monitoring appointment and we were able to see 4 larger follicles on my left side and on my right, so 8 total. The largest being 14mm and the smallest measured was 10mm. The nurse said there are more follicles that are under 10mm, so I’m hopeful those will grow too in the next few days.

I will return on in a few days for our next monitoring appointment.

Tomorrow I also start the Cetrotide which will help stop ovulation from happening too soon, giving the follicles more time to grow.

I’m trying not to focus too much on the calculation of the upcoming days in relation to our first retrieval and am praying that my body responds better to the increase of medication so we will be able to do the egg retrieval sooner than later.

As wonderful as it is to be with family and letting the cousins play, we are looking forward to being back in our own home and into our regular routine.

If we follow the track of our previous cycle, we will have our retrieval in one week.

Lord, I pray for these follicles you have for us to grow to be healthy and mature and ready to receive Daniel’s little swimmers.

We found out our dear friends are pregnant, which we are thrilled about, and only makes me want to have another baby even more so we can share in this season of life together.

Gonal F- 225 IU
Menopur- 225 IU (upping this to 300 IU tomorrow night)

Egg Harvest Day!

Today is the day! We have been waiting a long time for this opportunity to come and here it is.

Since I will be going under anesthesia, I am not able to have anything for breakfast. So instead, I shower, pack my luggage, and we drive to the clinic around 10:15am for our 10:30am report time.

I am nervous. My stomach feels less bloated today and I fear that the trigger shot already forced ovulation to occur and my eggs flushed out of me.

Oh, the mind games I play.

We are quickly taken back to room 11 where I redress with my blue smock and booties. The bruised vein gets one more prick and the saline begins to drip into my body. It takes an hour before it’s my turn to go into the operating room. At 12 noon, I kiss Hubby goodbye and shuffle into the OR.

It’s cold and the bench I lay on is short, just long enough for my head and torso. I lift my legs into the leg rests and I feel the vulnerability overwhelm me. The nurse straps my legs into the rests and asks me to move down to practically hanging off the edge of the bench.

I mention the chill and Steve, my anesthesiologist, quickly responds with, “let me give you a hot totty to warm you up”. He hooks me up to the ‘goods’ and the nurse flips my blue gown up over my stomach. Complete vulnerability. Pure humiliation.

That was my last thought.

ivf.jpg

The IVF process is pretty amazing. We are still in the first part of it all as we need to get the eggs and put the sperm inside and then let the cells grow.

In order to get the eggs, they need to drain the liquid from the follicles. The eggs will come with the liquid into the doctors care. They will pierce the vagina wall and go through the ovaries. I am going into this procedure with just over 20 follicles (that were seen on the monitoring screen).

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8705.jpgI wake up about 12:45 in a drugged haze. I am in and out of coherent thought and I am crying. I’m so happy this part is over and so scared there were no eggs to retrieve. Hubby handles the blubbering sentiments and random thoughts like a champ. I even asked if Hubby could go into the OR and take a picture so we had a memory of it. (not an option).

 

Dr. O’Brien was by my side and shared they were able to harvest 20 eggs from my body!

Oh, what a joy! Great work body, I’m so grateful!

She was very pleased with the outcome and warned me of how sore I would feel. I could already feel the tenderness in my stomach.

Before I am released, I walk up and down the hall with a nurse. I can barely pull my legs out of bed before I feel a shooting pain up my bum.

I comment to the nurse and she says this is a normal pain as my ovaries are so enlarged. I get home and do some googling. This is what I find out:

It’s normal to feel this way since my ovaries were so enlarged that they could be pushing against my rectum.  Apparently, the more eggs they retrieve, the more uncomfortable you feel.  The reason is that they remove the eggs from the follicles, but the follicles still remain inside you and fill up with fluid after the retrieval, hence the bloating and my engorged ovaries.

Today is day 0Retrieval day

After I am released, 4-6 hours following the time of the egg retrieval the embryologist will initiate the fertilization process of the eggs. Fertilization is attempted using one of two methods, standard insemination or ICSI.

standard-insem.jpg

Standard insemination involves placing a required number of washed, motile sperm into the culture drop containing an egg. Although many may decide to do this, modern science has progressed to the ability to insert a single sperm into a single egg.

 

ICSI is a more involved process where the embryologist uses a specialized needle and microscope to catch a single sperm to inject directly into the cytoplasm of the mature egg.

ICSI.jpg

Once insemination or ICSI occurs the eggs are placed back into the incubator to allow time for fertilization to occur.

We decided to do the ICSI.

 

For the remainder of the evening, I rest and move gingerly, giving my body enough space to heal. We will learn more about how many of the 20 eggs were mature and fertilized tomorrow.

 

 

 

IVF Timeline

1_5Yqfls2QmHfRxDiEmi4eVQ.pngWhat’s the timeline look like for us?

If all goes well… this is what the timing and protocol look like for us. The tricky thing to note is that it all depended upon how my body responds to the medication.

It’s my charge to be as calm and relaxed as possible during this time so my body can do what it needs to do. I already know that stress is a huge factor that causes my body to shut down so I will have to build in space for chill nights and calming days.

I put in red the things I’m doing to help this calming process.

IVF Procedure- Step 1: Egg retrieval

Take birth control- 2 weeks

Baseline ultrasound & blood work- Day after last birth control pill

Day 1: Begin medications- 2 days after baseline ultrasound

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur
  • Calming: acupuncture

Day 3: Calming: light workout, acupuncture

Day 4: Monitor appointment (potential to increase medication)

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur
  • Calming: massage

Day 5: Calming: light workout, acupuncture

Day 6: Monitor appointment (potential to increase medication)

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur
  • Calming: acupuncture

Day 7: Fly to Shady Grove

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur, begin Cetrotide

Day 8: Monitor appointment (potential to increase medication)

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur, Cetrotide
  • Calming: walk, acupuncture

Day 9: Monitor appointment (potential to increase medication)

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur, Cetrotide
  • Calming: walk

Day 10: Monitor appointment (potential to increase medication)

  • Medication: Gonal F & Menopur, Cetrotide
  • Calming: walk, acupuncture

Day 11: Monitor appointment & trigger shots and meds

  • Medication: Cetrotide, Lupron & HCG shot
  • Calming: walk

Day 12: Blood work (LH, P4 & HCG) to ensure trigger shot worked

  • Medication: (unsure)

Day 13: Egg retrieval

  • Calming: acupuncture

Day 14: Egg retrieval results/ follow-up appointment

  • Calming: acupuncture

Day 15: Return to Colorado

Day 20-21: Egg/sperm cell growth results- 5-6 days after retrieval

  • Freeze blastocysts that are healthy

—-WAITING GAME—-

Day 30: Receive period

  • Go on birth control until we receive test results

Receive PGS/ chromosome testing results- 3 weeks from egg retrieval

Consult with Doctor O to decide next steps for Step 2: frozen embryo transfer protocol.