The “Two Week Wait.”

The “Two Week Wait…”

Collectively the worst experience for any women dealing with infertility. 

Last transfer I was hopeful. This time I feel… Discouraged. This whole protocol I’ve felt down. Just sad, and it makes me angry and confused.

If this one doesn’t take we’ve resolved to stop, and do another round of IVF to get more eggs before doing another FET. That’s frightening in an of itself. We have to put everything back on hold and start back over again. I know there are so many women who have done this… And I feel your sadness as if it were my own, even though it’s not my reality yet.

I guess it’s all just fear. I am afraid of a negative result. Or another chemical loss.

It means I also walk around obsessing over every symptom.

I’ve had a significant amount of cramping. Not full blown period cramping… But annoying discomfort. Also I feel STIFF inside. I also seem to have excessive moisture… Not full blow discharge though. I’m also waking up covered in sweat… But that’s sorta been happening since I started the progesterone. My breasts are mildly sore. When I was pregnant before my breasts were sore too. My full MC my breast swelled up like balloons almost instantly.

But this isn’t hope in my heart. It’s heartbreak. Fearful of a loss. We only have 2 embryos. There is only one left in the freezer. 

I’ve done everything I can do you little one. I’ve scraped up my insides. I’ve prepped you. I’ve liberated you from my ovaries. I’ve fertilized you. I’ve tested and froze you. I’ve prepped my body for you. I’ve defrosted you and put you back in. It’s your job now. It’s up to you. 

IVF – Dream Orgasms

This is a thing. Totally a thing that happens with IVF transfers.

My last transfer (fresh) they handed me a paper with instructions, one of which was specifically “NO ORGASMS!” 

(Yes, all caps.)  

At the time I was thinking “NO PROBLEM…” I was still tender from my surgery the month before and the egg retrieval. (Not to mention my ovaries were still gigantic and squishing against my uterus with all their might!). I was not super in the mood for sex… Or so I thought.

Little did I know my body had different plans when I woke up the next morning in the throws of pleasure from my dream. Good job Brain!!!! I instantly freaked about it… But after a bit of research I found out other women have had this happen too. 

I ended up with a chemical loss 2 weeks later, but not because of the orgasm. (Suspected chromosomal abnormalities with how the rest of my PGS testing turned out on the remaining embryos.)

Fast forward: Yesterday we had the Frozen Embryo Transfer of a normal chromosomal embryo and wonder of wonders, last night I woke up yet again, with an orgasm. …And a really good one too….

Luckily, yesterday I specifically asked the nurse and doctor about it. Surprise surprise they actually removed the “NO ORGASMS” script from my instructions altogether, just told me not to put anything in my vagina… And soothed my worries about the dream orgasm situation. Not to worry.

This morning, after the impromptu orgasm, despite the reassurance of my doctor… I did some more online research of other women doing IVF and apparently it’s pretty common with transfers. Maybe it has something to do with the cervix being opened? Or maybe it’s just the progesterone injections? Or perhaps the body just recognized the embryo inside and it’s saying “Hey! I’m pregnant but I didn’t get to enjoy this one!!! Well screw you! Gonna do it anyway!” (They may be helping things along…)

Who knows? What I do know is it’s common. A little weird, but common.

There is literally nothing you can do. My libido was high during STIM, but “shut down” after ER… And then not so much during the Lurpon protocol. However, I suspected this could be a problem again and tried to “tire myself out” in the weeks leading up. Especially if I was on a strict “no orgasms” policy again. Well, that clearly worked. Not regretting it, just saying you can’t win this war. Your brain and body are going to do whatever they want. 

My words of wisdom: Don’t freak out if this happens to you.

My BUTT HURTS!

At what point do you get used to progesterone injections? 

My docs want me to do it for 12 weeks… (Not including this preparatory stage.)  I did them before for 4 weeks with my fresh transfer, but I guess the mind is truly a miraculous thing when it comes to pain, because I seem to have forgotten how dreadful these things were. 

It’s impressive because my tolerance for pain is ridiculously high. I was living with incredible pain from my endo but it had become so common place I learned to “deal.” So when my doctor went in for the endo surgery she was shocked to find stage 4 severe. She said to my husband right after my 4 hour surgery “I don’t know how she was living with this much pain.” 

So the fact that these injections hurt this much means they are absolutely 100% dreadful. I know women say they’ve been brought to tears by them, and I’m not there, but they hurt all day. That isn’t even an exaggeration. 

Even when I stopped the injections after my chemical loss, with the fresh transfer, I had lumps in my butt for well over a month. The discomfort seemed unending!!!! 

Now that I’m back at square one with these, I can see what people push for the suppositories… But they don’t want me to use them until at least 9 weeks. So why not just go for broke? 

But SWEET MERCIFUL LORD!!! There has to be a better way!

To Shave? Or Not To Shave?

To shave or not to shave?

The untold story of infertility… 

I have super sensitive skin and I’m a fan of completely no hair around my vulva. (Preference is preference.) 

Ultimately the sensitive skin presents challenges. It seems that no matter what I do I end up with razor burn 2-3 days after… And I’ve tried everything. Literally everything to avoid this… (Including hemorrhoid witch hazel wipes, which are the best bet). 

Anyways… Razor burn is just about as attractive as having a full bush in the bedroom. Plus, I feel weird in both cases. 

So in a completely normal space of time I go completely bare and then let it grow out ever so slightly (rinse repeat).  

However, when your told NOT TO HAVS SEX AT ALL during IVF your less inclined to shave until it becomes a necessity. 
Though I don’t enjoy feeling like a wolverine… It’s just with everything going on you sometimes feel like “fuck it…” There is nothing sexy about IVF. 

And when you have to follow the insane sensitive skin routine I do, far less inclined to give a shit about it. 
So I try to walk the line between “OMG” and “Yey!”

This week was a little too “much” for me, I’ll admit, but hey, it was just the ultrasound.  

Knowing my FET is next week I decided to postpone until Saturday so it had a little time to spazz out with the burn and a small amount of hair to grow back by transfer time 
I may be partial but I think I have a relatively attractive vulva/vagina… As far as vulva/vagina’s go. As a general rule I think reproductive organs are pretty ugly… Useful. But ugly. I also know I’m all around “small” and they have to go out of their way to find a small speculum for me… Which is funny because one day during my mock transfer they had to use the large speculum for one woman, and the small one for me within the space of a few hours. My point there is, I don’t like to look like I don’t maintain my vulva… Although I’m sure the doctors and nurses have seen EVERYTHING ALL DAY EVERY DAY! LoL

I guess it’s vanity that compels me. 
Anyways… I shaved yesterday, giving my body some healing time before my actual doctor is shoving a catheter into my cervix and hopefully inserting my “human seed.” 
I doubt I’m the only Shakespearean “To shave or not to shave…” out there. We talk about everything else… Not so much hair. What’s your routine with the docs visits?

Just a GENERAL FYI- I am perfectly comfortable with my body. It is a personal preference of mine to shave. It’s not due to society, I am an non-conforming gendered female. I am simply more comfortable without hair. Please don’t try to degrade me for your decisions or ASSUME I am uncomfortable with my body because I like it to look a certain way. Don’t try to push any “agenda” on me. You like it one way, I like it another. Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

I am not excited.

Where did my life go? Seriously. Where did it go?

Oh yeah… The endless pursuit of a child. 

Being responsible doesn’t always pay off, kids. You try to focus on establishing your life and get settled in your career… But in the end you only get a good paying job to pay for the fertility treatments you are going to end up needing.  

Sorry, “Debbie downer” today. I just feel… Punchy.

I also started my progesterone injections (which are just as awful as I remember) under the guise of my FET on Wednesday. But I refuse to be excited… Because my psyche is not going to survive another loss. Full or chemical. I think If I ever get pregnant I will walk around like I’m carrying the new messiah for 9 months… Fearing losing it. 

I wonder when you get past the fear of MC? Even knowing that everything was screwed up inside of me, and that my remaining eggs in my ovaries are less then normal. It doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t make me less stressed or worried. 

So I’m not excited. I can’t be. If it happens it happens. I am so tired of disappointment. 

That being said, I think the circumstances are “in our favor.” My body can GET pregnant, and now we know that the 2 frozen embryos are “normal.” My lining looks great, and the gigantor cyst on my left ovary went from “cats eye” size marble, to normal size marble. My body is ready.  

But I’m still not excited. And I think that’s probably weird. 

Because Why The F*ck Not? 

Last week during my baseline they found that my left ovary had regrown the cyst. In the 2 months since my surgery the f*cker had grown back! The worst part, I KNEW IT! I felt it weeks ago and I knew it was back. My husband convinced me it was in my head, like a phantom limb after all these years. So I ignored the pain of it again. It wasn’t until I was laying on the table with the glorious ultrasound probe inside jabbing my cervix that the asshat reappeared on the screen! The clinician said “Wow! That’s a gigantic cyst you go there on your left ovary!” 

The Moment before I had joked about how my left ovary was the main “trouble-maker.” 

Now I was back to “What?!” 
Just what I needed, right? 
The clinician assured me it was “okay” for what we were doing, and then she went on to explain my next set of instructions… I know I didn’t really hear her although I nodded my head like a bobble head. 
It wasn’t until she touched my arm comfortingly that I quietly asked if she was sure about the cyst… I assume she saw the concern on my face she because she smiled softly and said she would review with my doc (who luckily was in that day). I let out a relieved sigh and thanked her profusely. 
For the next few hours I sat around in limbo waiting for the doctor to call to tell me whether they were going to cancel my FET cycle. Then all these strange thoughts came unbidden to my mind… I started to panic about whether it would burst while I was pregnant, if I did actually get pregnant… Do I keep going? Do I stop and go back under to get the cyst removed? How about the whole ovary? Stupid lefty isn’t really responding to STIM well anyway. Get rid of it! 
Luckily that afternoon when I got the normal bloodwork/medication call the doctor said it was okay to keep my medication going and that these cysts often “resolve on their own.” Which is comforting… Except the other one was growing in there for 20 years. I guess the main difference is this one appeared to be full of blood from the ultrasound, not tissue and yuck. 
Having surgery again would mean another month of recovery… Another month before I can move forward again. It also took a ridiculous amount of time to recover… To be fair, I had stage 4 severe… And my colon was glued to my pelvic wall with endo… It was a 4 hour surgery instead of the hour and a half it should have been. Of course, recovery wasn’t quick! At some point I started to believe I would always be this way now. Then one random day I stretched and it didn’t hurt. So I stretched a little further and suddenly I realized I was “normal” again. I had finally “recovered.” 
I should also reaffirm the fact that I also went straight into IVF so my body didn’t have a break. I don’t have a lot of eggs left (let alone good eggs) so I wanted to get what I could out. I figured why not let everything heal at the same time as the surgery recover. My mentality was: If I’m traumatizing my insides, let’s just do it all at one time. It meant I was in WAY MORE PAIN then the average IVF cycle… My ovaries were screaming! I started to talk to other women waiting for their ultrasounds/bloodwork and they would be like “Nope… No pain…” It made me crazy! LoL -Of course the one had stage 1 endo and PCOS, so her STIM was a lot let then mine. I however was responding to STIM so well on the ovaries that I had to start Cetrotide really early to stop my eggs form popping out. In fact, one still did, but that’s because left ovary is a piece of crap. 
Anyways… ALL OF THIS got me to thinking… If I get pregnant, IVF is considered high risk the whole time. If I ended up with a C-Section I could lobby to get my left ovary out at the same time. 

I mean, if they can tie tubes during a C, I think they can take one out! Right?
It’s especially appealing because when I’m just doing the Lurpon injections I feel like a normal human. Not that I’m considering a sex change anytime soon (as a gender nonconforming female I support all gender choices), but I rather enjoyed not having any estrogen. I am now honestly looking forward to menopause! 

And if I got one ovary out that would cut down on my estrogen dramatically… And the growth of my endo (which the doc told me is probably growing back as we speak… And by the growth of the cyst in going to agree). 
I’ve also considered the idea of the Lupron protocol for my endo treatment. I was on BC for 18 years… Which apparently didn’t do a whole lot to delay the progress of my endo. 
Other new and interesting things: 

With this first FET cycle I’ve been dealing with a lot of bullshit. Mainly my period starting a whole week late. And I honestly didn’t realize how batshit I get when I take Estrace. Estrogen makes me nutso. I’ve taken to warning people of my hormones instability… And I’m not even at the full dose yet. AND we haven’t added the progesterone which tends to make me weepy. Angry and weepy is going to be fun.  
I can still feel left ovary making a scene. I will be curious to see if it got any bigger on my ultrasound next week. Right now it’s just the aching that shoots up into my lungs and makes it difficult to breath. That should ease up with the end of my period… 

I guess we will see. 
The moral of the story kids: You know your own body! If something doesn’t feel right tell your doctors! 

Dun Dun DUNNN… Heavy Post.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about infertility, something that has become a bit of a “dark passenger” for me.  Yeah… Kinda like my ovaries are in cahoots with Dexter Morgan.

Just last year I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.  After spending the larger portion of my life complaining about my cramps, I was finally diagnosed at 29.  The ridiculous part is that I’ve been going to the same OBGYN since I was 11 when my period started because I had intense cramping.  Slapping a bandaide on it, my doc put me on birth control at 13… Which was not something I was entirely opposed to seeing as my libido was turning on around the same time.  (Not that I was active at 13… I didn’t have sex until I was 16.  But my mind figured better be safe then sorry.  Plus I went to Catholic school.  People did not turn up pregnant in catholic school… ***Cue GOT “Shame” Chorus.***)

Anyways… The past 5 years the pain had become severe during my periods.  At some point I had actually switched over to a continuous birth control.  It’s actually an odd God-Send that I did, because the less active my ovaries, the less severe the endo (Ha!).  If I had not been on BC who knows.  I would probably be completely sterile now.

Where was I going with that?  Oh Yeah… About 5 years ago I flat out told my doc “Hey… There is a ball of lava in my left side… And one of these days it’s going to erupt!”

Nope.  I was just crazy.

Jump forward in time, I got married to my husband.  After a year we decided to start to try.  6 months later I finally got pregnant.  And then… I had a miscarriage.  After weeks of calling my OBGYN and complaining of pain I started to bleed the day before the agreed to see me.  See, they generally don’t want to see you until week 6.  But I was in pain.  They said not to come in unless I started to bleed.  By the time I started to bleed it was like a flood.  Good old OBGYN didn’t even do a ultrasound to check where the sac was… Just tested my blood to make sure the HCG was leaving my body.  I sat there weeping on the table with my husband holding my hand while the midwife told me “Just try again.”  2 Chemical losses later I decided enough was enough.  At this point, I had also been off of the pill for well over a year and during my periods I could barely walk.  I would literally limp to the bathroom and bleed profusely in the shower.  But I’m just “crazy.”

The interesting thing is that all 3 losses were probably ectopic and my body was trying to save me.

Anyways… With the referral of a neighbor we ended up in the best fertility clinic in the state of Delaware.  Within 5 mins my new doctor diagnosed me with endo.  I still remember being shocked.  The funny thing about endo is that you can’t diagnose the stage until you are actually doing the surgery, but they could do some tests to take a look before opening me up.

The very first ultra sound, on my left side, they saw a large endometrioma on my left ovary, more then doubling it in size.  Exactly where I said it was.  I sat there and cried again while the nurse hugged me.  A few more dreadful tests later (One where they shot dye up into my tubes and I actually cried out in pain while my mother held my hand) I found myself in the outpatient center waiting for surgery with a snazzy gown/hair net combo with my husband and mother to keep vigil.

Funny thing was… My surgery got bumped down to the end of the day because they didn’t expect it to be that bad… But when they opened me up they were very wrong.  An hour and half surgery turned into 4 hours.  The endo was everywhere… It had even glued my colon to my abdomen wall.  I also had 4 endometrioma’s or “Chocolate cysts.”

I still remember seeing my doc right after the surgery and her telling me it was stage 4 “Severe” and I replied “So we do IVF now?”  She patted my arm and said she was going to talk to my husband and mother.

A week later I limped into the office with my husband and mother where we scrolled through disgusting pictures of my internal organs with my amazing and triumphant doctor.  The Bad News:  My tubes and ovaries were so messed up and traumatized from the endo I would never conceive naturally.

The very next day I had my first appointment with my new IVF doctor.  They said I was setting a record for how quickly I wanted to start IVF, but as long as I was sure they were sure.  3 weeks later a fridge box showed up with tons of scary fricking needles (I have a needle phobia).

My husband has been the absolute best, lovingly administering needles day and night.  When it was all said and done, I only had 20 follicles left, and 11 working follicles… 8 on my right and 3 on my left.  We ended up with 9 eggs, all 9 mature, and all 9 fertilized.  5 made it to blastocyst and we opted to do a fresh transfer.  Needless to say, I am not pregnant now because I had another chemical pregnancy loss.  4 losses total now.  But the good news, we had hedged our bets and done a biopsy and freeze on the 4 remaining embryos.  Right after the loss we had the 4 biopsies sent off and 2 of them came back normal.  Which means 2 of them were abnormal, one had an extra chromosome and one had a missing chromosome.  They weren’t major defects, but they would not have survived.

So why at 29 do I have such bad eggs when we have not medical history to suggest abnormalities?  Well.  It’s because the endo ate up most of my eggs.  We knew I had a limited supply right after the surgery.  The best way to explain it is:  You have a full basket of eggs.  The top eggs are the best, the middle eggs are okay, and the bottom eggs are just… Ehhh.  I’m at the bottom of the basket so my statistics are much higher for abnormalities.  SO we have 2 in the freezer.

Sunday I started a new round of injections.

I’ve stopped being ashamed of this.  Why should I be ashamed?

I shouldn’t be ashamed because I’ve been a lot stronger then I thought I would ever be (not that I thought I would ever be in this situation). But there have been days where I would have rather completely shut down then live in this hell. But I keep going, teary eyed and hopeful.

I’ve been mainly ashamed that my body would fail me in the one act of womanhood (Because I really suck at being a woman). I always wanted to be a mother someday, but I waited to have children, mainly so I could provide a stable life. Where’s the shame in that?

With that in mind, I would be remiss to not mention, that above all I have learned that we have some really great family and friends who will listen even when they don’t know what to say to make it better.  …Those people are the keepers!

Mainly I don’t want judgement or platitudes. People can say such hurtful things… Like “just relax” (because relaxing will somehow heal my scar tissue or maybe it will replenish the eggs my body decided to eat over the past 20 years?). Or “why don’t you just adopt?” Like adoption is so simple… Or they can’t comprehend that I could possibly want a child that shares in our bloodline.
SO if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

So now as we start a new and different cycle, I guess we will see where this leads us.
Science is truly miraculous.