Bittersweet

IVF ROUND 6

DAY 5 – Monitoring Day
(Monday April 27)

Meds: 300iu Gonal-f , 150iu Menopur

Notes: estrogen=209.7; LH=1.63; progesterone=0.251; lining=5.4mm; Left Ovary=9.9, 9.4, 6.8; Right Ovary=9.9

The ultrasound tech who showed us Lucky for the first time did my monitoring appointment this morning. I asked if she remembered me and she said she remembered my name. And we had a good little chat. Turns out she also did IVF and has 25yr old twin girls. She’s really lovely. I was nice to chat with her but I was sad that the scan was over really quickly because I noticed that she didn’t count that many black circles. I only saw 3 that she measured.

There was a period of time, when we were deep in our cycles, when I’d resolved to go back to school to become an embryologist so that I could give back. The furthest I’d gotten in this venture was to ask an embryologist about what I would need to study and how long it would take. They were really nice about it but did say that you’re pretty much on call 24/7 because embryo’s don’t take weekends off. I still think it’s an incredibly awesome job and one that I think would bring my great fulfillment but I don’t know if I’m cut out. Anyway, my point was that I think it’s cool that the ultrasound tech is working there after going through infertility. I also have a friend who had triplets who were born at 26 weeks and she is now a nicu nurse after being an architect and I think that is just awesome!

I’m more than a little bummed with these low follie counts this morning. Only 4 on day 5. But my estrogen is still low at 209 and the nurse on the phone did say the results are excellent. So I guess everything is going well. Slow and steady right?

I went on a massive unnecessary but necessary shopping spree with friends B and K and Lucky today. There was a lot of walking and I had a lot of sharp pains in my ovary area. So I’m just laying on the couch now resting to the max. I would like to get a pedicure tomorrow. If not then more couch resting is in store.

Hope everyone’s having a good weekend so far!

Emotional: Trying to keep my chin up about the low follicle count Slow and steady dude!

Physical: Lots of sharp pains in my lower belly. Headache. Dizzy.

Food: Tuna melts for lunch, Ribs from Chili’s for dinner.

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Success!

IVF ROUND 6

DAY 3
(Thursday April 25)

Meds: 300iu Gonal-f , 150iu Menopur 

Notes: estrogen=13.30; LH=9.30; progesterone=0.228; lining=3.7mm; antral follicles=16 

Let the record show that I can do shots anywhere now :). Let the record also show that reclining seats at the movies is a great invention.

The movie was at 6:30. N was next to a single gentleman on his left and I was next to a young lady with her partner on my right. I’m sure she snuck alcohol into the theatre but that’s neither here nor there. At first I was worried about how I would hide whate I was doing from her but the seats were big enough and she was far enough away so it wasn’t an issue.

I got myself comfortable as soon as the movie started laying on my left side facing N, undid my jeans buttons and had my handbag and jacket make like a ring of protection around my tummy area.

It really wasn’t a big deal when it came to injection time at 8:30. It was dark enough to be discrete and light enough for me to see what I was doing. Easy peasy. I’d pre-mixed everything at home so it really was just point an click at that point. I did chuckle at myself when I went to stab in the Gonal-F and it would NOT go in. I tried 3 times. I panicked and told N the needle was too blunt! Then I realised that I’d forgotten to take the second smaller cap off the gonal-f needle. Lol. What a relief.

So yeah, all-in-all a good experience. Next I’ll try somewhere more challenging like evening rock climbing. HAHA.

Emotional: Saddish about random things. Not sure if related to hormones.

Physical: Still headachey but last night started feeling bubbles and pops in my ovary area so I think things are happening.

Food: Last night. Burger and fries (Lord I need to eat better) and popcorn.

Headaches!

IVF ROUND 6

DAY 2
(Wednesday April 24)

Meds: 300iu Gonal-f , 150iu Menopur 

Notes: estrogen=13.30; LH=9.30; progesterone=0.228; lining=3.7mm; antral follicles=16 

I’m writing this with a day delay and it’s messing me up hahaha. Hopefully I’ll write tonight after the movie but it’s going to be a late one.

Thanks everyone for the awesome advice. I’m really grateful to be in a community who knows it might be a little nutso to do shots in the darkness of a cinema but understands the need :).

Last night’s shots went smoother so that’s good but this headache will not quit. I’m trying to stay hydrated and eat better but I don’t know what else I can do. It’s not crippling. Just annoying.

Nothing else to report. Will check in tonight.

Emotional: Avengers Endgame tonight! Woohooo!!!

Physical: So much headache and but sleeping really well.

Food: Last night. Honey BBQ steak tip sub for lunch. OMG amazing! and steak and broccolli for dinner.

Endgame Dilemma

IVF ROUND 6

DAY 1
(Tuesday April 23)

Meds: 300iu Gonal-f , 150iu Menopur 

Notes: estrogen=13.30; LH=9.30; progesterone=0.228; lining=3.7mm; antral follicles=16 (sixteen!?)

So here we go again. I thought it would be like riding a bike but after I put little man down we got everything out and ready and then looked at each other with no idea how to do anything.

The Gonal-f was easy but we had to Google how much liquid to use to mix 2 vials of Menopur. It took us 20 minutes but we did it.

We do have one dilemma. Maybe someone has some insight. I always try to take the shots at the exact same time. The window they gave us was between 7 and 9pm. We did it at 8:30. Tomorrow night we’re going to watch the new Avengers movie at 6:30. N says it’s fine for us to do the shot at 6:30 because it’s within that 2 hr window (ie 2hrs from 8:30) but I’m more inclined to do a shot in the dark because I don’t want to miss any part of the movie and I want to stay in the 7-9 window. Am I being nuts? Maybe there will be trailers until 7 and I can do the shot in the bathroom before. What are your thoughts? I don’t want to be outside of the 7-9 window. And I don’t want to miss the movie I’ve been waiting a year for.

Other than that, so far so good. Let’s get those eggies!!!

Emotional: I don’t know guys. I just told all my friends we’re trying again and now I’m feeling a bit more pressure to succeed. But trying to stay in the moment.

Physical: Last night I had the first restful sleep I’ve had in a while. I’ll do an anxiety post soon about my sleeping. But this morning I have a massive headache. Yuck.

Food: Last night. Ham and cheese sliders for dinner and a pastrami sandwich for lunch. I’ll kick it up a notch tonight.

IVF Cycle 6 Begins

Well that came on a lot quicker than I expected!

I usually have a few weeks of birth control to ease myself in and complain about but since we’re not doing that this round I’m feeling a bit rushed and off kilter.

I don’t think I updated on anything after our preamble meeting with the RE. We did all our tests and had our follow up on the 3rd. The game plan is simple. Go in hard and fast. Hopefully come out victorious.

Because of my lowish AMH (1.03) he doesn’t want to suppress me with BCP’s so we’re just going to start 300iu Gonal F and 150iu Menopur for about 12 days. You know the drill.

So that day is today. I had my baseline tests this morning and I’m supposed to start tonight between 7 and 9. Yikes!

That being said, because I want to track these cycles as closely as I did with Lucky, I’m going to post again tonight after the first shots. So this was just a “hey how’s it going, let’s get this started” post.

Sooo… Hey, how’s it going? Let get this started!!

 

Fear of a Name

“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself”

When a friend of mine, who’d just had a second baby, asked me if we would try again, I explained that I’d love to but I’m afraid. In not actively trying, having a second child is a choice that I was in control of. If we decided to try again and it ultimately failed then we no longer have that choice and it was scary to have that choice and control taken away.

What I didn’t tell her was that we were already into plans for a 2nd baby and our appointment with the RE was set up and things were happening.

Until now, I still haven’t had the courage to say it out loud and we’ve since met with the RE and we just finished all our pre-cycle testing so things are really really happening.

I don’t know where I am mentally. I mean I know my family is not complete and I know that this is what we need to do to complete it so these facts are keeping me moving forward but every time I dwell on the negatives I want to quit while we’re “ahead”. So I’m clinging to the exciting bits. The possibilities. And so far there’s been good and not so good news but our RE is on board and eager (from what I can read on his all-business face) so off we go!

The story thus far:

The meeting with the RE was typical. We have no frozen embryos so we have to start from scratch. We don’t have to do another ERA (yay) but we did have to do all the pre-cycle testing, including a hysteroscopy (boo). He dropped the “let’s not wait because you’re old af” line but with such finesse that I didn’t mind. He also said that because N had to go to St Thomas (zika zone) for work that we’d have to delay 3 months or use our frozen sample. I think we’re going to use his frozen sample because … old af. And lastly the PGD lab we used before merged with another so we would have to register with them and do another genetics consult. The price for their testing a potentially more expensive (750 per embryo instead of 2k for 8) but we usually only get 2 or 3 embryos to test so not too worried about that. All in all it was a positive appointment. All questions were answered etc etc.

My hysteroscopy was yesterday and it was something else. After the last one I swore I would never do it again. The pain, for me, was almost on par with labour. So the drive to the clinic was extremely difficult and in that hour I had built the pain up so much I almost turned the car around. I don’t know how I made it through that. I explained to him that the last time it hurt a lot and I was shaking and near to tears. He of course said it shouldn’t be more than a bit crampy. I pulled a face that made the nurse laugh out loud. I think I went somewhere safe in my mind to help me through it.

And the kicker? It didn’t hurt… at all. I felt nothing. I felt the speculum go in and I asked him for a second to collect myself and then I said okay go and I waited for pain and nothing. Then I heard him tell the nurse to take a picture, and another picture. I asked if he’s already in and he said yes he’s actually all done. I think I melted right there. I couldn’t believe it. I asked why it was so easy and the nurse asked if I had vaginal birth and I said no, a c-section and she asked if I had contractions and I said yes and she said that’s why. I’ve never been more relieved but in thinking about it I think it’s just another little cruel joke that it’s just a little more painful to go through IVF for your first child. If that makes sense.

After he showed me pictures of my uterus he showed me my AMH levels and again asserted that we have time but we have to go get those eggs now. My levels went from 2.7 to 1.4 to 1.03. I’m not sure what the time frame is so not sure how rapid of a decline that is. I asked 2 ivf friends for their input and have decided not to google AMH numbers. It’s not going to help. I just know that this time it’s going to be harder, but not impossible.

Oh, one last bit of news. Before we left the RE’s appointment we were in with the nurse going over paperwork and quickly she left the room to ask the finance lady how many cycles we had left on insurance and she came back in and said we only have one, just like I feared. We were bummed of course and while we were gathering our things to leave we heard footsteps running down the hall “Wait! Wait!” and in busts the finance lady, “You guys had a baby, right?”. We said yes, so she said “Six.. You have six cycles. Insurance resets after every live birth”… Omg the relief. I could have hugged her. We are so very, incredibly lucky to live where we live and I’m so lucky to work where I work.

So that’s where we are with that. Our follow up appointment with him is April 3rd. After my next cycle which is a bummer so we’re going to start our retrieval cycle end of April. And he loves long suppression cycles so I’m envisioning a retrieval mid to end of June. Ah the slow turning wheel of IVF.

Well, here’s to facing fear. And here’s to speaking it’s name.

 

 

Thoughts on the Birth

When I reflected on the day that Lucky came into the world I used to get very angry and sad and I would always temper those feelings down with “But he’s here and he’s safe and the surgery was perfect”.

This constant internal battle with my feelings was extremely difficult for me in the beginning and I kept it all to myself because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful so I spent a lot of time explaining away my feelings and not dealing with any of them.

Eventually it all came to a hold when my parents left when Lucky was just over 4 months old. I cried for days. A mixture of missing my parents and my family and this nagging voice in the back of my head to talk to someone about how I wasn’t happy with his birth day. At this point I hadn’t even talked to N about it.

In the end I found a therapist and in that first appointment I just bawled and bawled incoherently and I finally got it all out. A few days after that I found the courage to talk to N about it and bawled and bawled some more and it really helped. It helped so much. It was just a tiny sentence with big meaning that immediately after talking about it I felt better. It took me 4 months to say “I wasn’t happy with my birth experience”.

I wanted to write about it as well but I just kept making excuses and blaming myself and I’m really glad to say that I’m done with that now. I’m still very sad that it wasn’t perfect but I’ve let go of a lot of the anger a little I think and that’s a start.

And I don’t think it was PPD. My therapist agrees. It didn’t feel how PPD was described to me. I was just unresolved feelings coupled with hormones and homesickness.

And usually my tagline is “Next time”. We didn’t get it right this time but next time will be different. But we don’t have the guarantee of a next time here. In my mind, this was it and it was ruined. And even if we did there will always be this black mark on my first son’s birth and I hated that feeling. I didn’t want to be angry. I wanted to be okay with it. But for a while there I couldn’t read or hear birth stories. Anything to do with birth made me angry and resentful and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.

So I guess the simplest way to explain my feelings is to break down the three things that made this experience unpleasant for me and how I dealt with it all in my head. I apologise if this post feels all over the place. My hope here is to help myself heal some more and perhaps if someone else out there is feeling the same to know that they’re not alone and the words “at least your child is here and safe” doesn’t always make it better. Your feelings are valid.

The surgeon

If you read my birth story, you may have noticed that the operating surgeon was fairly non existent in this story. At the time I thought it was par for the course but the more I thought about it the more I realised that this woman failed us. People always make excuses for surgeons. Especially if they’re good at their job. And she was great at her job. As I’ve said, the surgery was perfect. I healed up really quickly and that’s all thanks to her but the way we were treated by her as first time parents going into a very scary situation will always leave a bad taste in my mouth.

First, she never explained anything to us. She did the ultrasound, declared that we would be having a c-section and I didn’t really see her again. I saw her for 2 seconds when she offered me pain meds and I barely even heard her while she was cutting me open. Not once did she explain to us anything about how a c-section works, risks involved, etc. Not once did she even look either of us in the eye to say the words c-section. Not even the nurses talked to us about it. They just came with endless forms to sign.

But D, you might say, maybe it was an emergency and she needed to get in there quickly. Well, I was told in the OR that this wasn’t an emergent situation and the anesthesiologist spent at least 15 minutes explaining what he would be doing. Also, a few years ago I had my appendix removed at this same hospital. I would venture to argue that an almost ruptured appendix is an emergency situation and while I was high on morphine the operating surgeon found a few minutes to come and talk to me and my husband about the procedure. I think the least she could have done for a scared couple was talk to them about what was going to happen. Especially since we had questions regarding the gentle c-section that we had to ask to the nurse.

She was also incredibly rude. She seemed annoyed with me when I wouldn’t relax while she was doing a cervix check and she barked at my husband when he asked if she’d done delayed cord clamping.

But D, you might say again, surgeons aren’t known for their bedside manner. You take what you get as long as you survive. Now, I tend to agree with this. I’d rather you save my life than be a nice person but we were told by the nurse and my OB that this is what the hospital offered and we were told that that’s what we would get. If the surgeon had taken a f*** second to talk to us she could have told us whether this was the case or not but she was nowhere to be seen.

And lastly, I never saw her again. She did no post op check or anything. My OB did the post op which I guess is standard but we wanted to discuss our disappointment with the operating surgeon and it was like she never existed. We spoke to my OB about what happened and all we got was a weak apology and shrugging of the shoulders. What could my OB do? She wasn’t there. We also spoke to my doula about it and she said we should write a letter to the hospital and/or the surgeon. It may not result in anything but may help us somehow. We have yet to write this letter,  however. I should just copy and paste this blog post :).

The doula

Let me preface this by saying the this doula group is fantastic. Doula L who was with us on the night was amazing and both her and my doula came to visit after baby was born and also checked in a few times via text for a few months after. I can’t fault them on their care on the day. However…

This mostly probably me not knowing what a doula’s role is and me not taking the reigns as far as letting her know what I want. I let her narrate what I should expect if I wanted a natural birth. And also, I’m talking about my doula R not L.

First, she wasn’t there. In the contract we signed she said that she would be on call for us 2 weeks before the birth and she went on vacation. I was due the 23rd and my ECV was scheduled for Tuesday the 19th. She said she would be there for the ECV, she would leave her family in Maine and drive to be with me for the ECV. At the time I was grateful that she would cut her vacation short to be there but technically… technically, she should have been available for me since I went into labour on the 18th. Anyway, I guess it was a blessing in disguise because L was incredible in R’s absence.

We were also not really educated on or prepared for a c-section. I understand that doulas advocate for natural birth but in an emergency will assist you through a c-section. I feel like my doula didn’t want to believe that I would need a c-section just because he was breech. That might be true but he was not turning and she kept saying I had time I had time. She never entertained the notion of a c-section so we weren’t adequately prepared and even more shocked. We met with our doula weekly for discussions about all kinds of birth but very rarely did we discuss c-sections. On the day when we were told we were going to have one doula L had to prep me and get me into that mindset in a very short space of time in between painful contractions. I think if we’d had this discussion prior I might have been more at peace.

Anyway, I’m not really angry about this. I just feel a little meh and sad about it.

And lastly,

Me

I’m so disappointed in myself for not advocating better for myself and Lucky. Why didn’t I speak up when I felt we weren’t being looked after properly?

Being wheeled into the OR I remember thinking okay this isn’t the worst, at least they can do the gentle c-section but once the spinal block was in and they were laying me down they put a sheet over me and it wasn’t the clear sheet that my OB mentioned and I just knew, I knew this wasn’t going to be a gentle c-section and I didn’t say anything. I clamped up. What was I afraid of? Why didn’t I just speak up? That green sheet is emblazoned in my mind. The moment I failed. My first mom fail and he wasn’t even here.

I’m telling you, friends. Living with that was killing me. And after he was out and they didn’t give him to me before cleaning him and they didn’t delay the cord clamping and seeing N’s irritation with the way the surgeon spoke to him. It was just awful.

 

Nothing went the way we wanted it to go and no “at least” was making me feel better. It was just crashing wave after crashing wave every time I relived the birth.

The only thing that have helped was talking about it. First to the therapist and then to my husband and now to all of you. And I do feel better about it. I’m not over it. I don’t know if I ever will be but I’m getting there.

Having Lucky in my life is also one of the only things that has brought me some peace. Because even though I feel the way I feel he IS here and he IS safe and being around him makes everything bad disappear.

I’m glad I got this off my chest. N says he doesn’t believe that I did anything wrong. He thinks that even if I did speak up, the surgeon would have done her own thing and not listened anyway. He’s probably right. It seemed like she didn’t want to deal with us. I often wonder if some surgeons have their backs up when they hear that you have a doula with you. That’s the sense I got from her. When we protested a little when we heard about the c-section she probably just wanted to get us the heck outta there.

Anyway, so that’s where I’m at with the birth. It’s not nearly as all consuming as it was, which is a relief.

I just want anyone who’s going through something like this to know that it’s okay to be disappointed. It sucks. Granted my birth had a very happy ending and my issue with it seems superficial when you think of how badly things can go during birth but everybody wants a perfect birth. Perfect for them. Don’t we deserve a happy birth after carrying a child for so long?

My wish is to be able to laugh about this one day. I’ve always wanted my birth to be a funny story and it had some very funny bits. While I’m processing this I’ll just be sure to cling to the funny memories and hopefully they will overshadow the shitty parts.