Friday, July 31, 2009

When At First You Don't Succeed

Be thankful you get to try again.

It's been exactly one week since we received the phone call letting us know that only 3 of our 13 retrieved eggs were mature enough to attempt to fertilize. We knew at that moment our chances of conception at the end of the cycle were diminishing rapidly, but we never completely lost faith.

And now, even after an early conclusion of our first IVF attempt has come to pass, we are still praising God for his faithfulness and mercy, thanking him continually for the chance to try one more time.

During our post IVF phone consult with Dr. Greene this afternoon our conclusion remains the same, as does our optimism for the next cycle in September. He still feels that I responded perfectly to the protocol and medication, so the only change taking place will be the timing of our HCG trigger shot. If administered at a more appropriate time, we should be able to produce more mature eggs and eliminate all of the drama and disappointment that yielded from our last failed cycle and replace it with plenty of healthy, viable embryos.

As my bruises heal and our hearts mend, we're excited to see what our next try in September brings; fighting fear and doubt brought on by last weeks loss with our optimism and hope for our next try. We know our chances of success are even higher next time, but there is always the possibility that something different could go wrong. Even a perfect cycle may not lead to conception.

But it could, and that's good enough for us.

"How long should you try? Until."
-Jim Rohn

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Embryo Growth Report

Saturday, 7-25-09 (Day 25)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Check.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Is a drug used to treat bacterial infections, and from what I read, should not be used on pregnant women. Yet they have me taking it for at least another week and a half, of which I should be pregnant during the later part of.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): The shots are still going well, but I'm starting to feel the side effects now. My chest is very tender and sore, and it feels as if someone has literally kicked my butt.

I'm also experiencing a lot of pain in my midsection. The entire core of my body feels as if someone has taken out all of my insides, rearranged them, then put them back in the wrong place. I'm also severely bloated, but I'm told this is normal, so I'll just keep taking my extra strength Tylenol and using my heating pad until the pain subsides and is replaced by pregnancy symptoms.

Sunday, 7-26-09 (Day 26)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I finally got back on the scale again, and was surprised to find I'm not quite as heavy as I feel.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Common side effects are headache, nausea, and abdominal pain, which I'm already experiencing from the egg retrieval anyway. Why not make it worse?

PIO (1ml, IM injection): It's getting hard to receive these shots and their vicious side effects when I'm not even sure if it will be worth it; and I'm not being a pessimist, but rather a realist.

We're down to one embryo today, and it has only 3 cells.

A strong, healthy embryo should have at least 6 cells by now.

Monday, 7-27-09 (Day 27)

No meds to report today because this cycle is over, prematurely.

Our sweet little 3-celled embryo still has only 3 cells, 24 hours later. This means that unless something drastic happens, our final embryo is not viable and non-transferable.

I still haven't cried yet.

Trying to find the silver lining on this raincloud, we are so thankful that we still have one more try. By tomorrow we should be speaking to Dr. Greene and have a better idea of what happened and what we can do to avoid this next time. The nurse told us to not give up hope, she said that we learned so much from this cycle and we'll continue to learn even more from the little embryo that we have struggling in a petri dish right now.

I don't believe this is happening. I can't help but wonder how things would be right now if we had waited just one more day to trigger. Would those 4 almost mature embryos have been fully mature given one or two more days? If they would have been mature, would they have fertilized normally and become healthy blastocytes, or would they have arrested and stopped dividing like the two we already had? Does this mean that my husband’s sperm and my eggs just don't make viable embryo's, or is this simply a timing issue and luck of the draw?

I'd be lying if I said I'm not terrified to do this again. Since we signed up for a two cycle plan our next try will be our final try, and all of the naive bliss and positive thinking that came along with our first cycle will be hard to hold onto, now that I'm aware of what can really happen; even for a couple that has all the odds in their favor.

All we can do now is take this one day at a time. Someone once told me that when God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better.

I believe it.

I have to.

"If you want to get somewhere, you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up."
-Norman Vincent Peale

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fertalization Report

Friday, 7-24-09 (Day 24)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Still taking them. Still eating.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): I need to look these up and see what they are for so I can come up with some quirky comments about them. Until then, I've got nothing.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): I actually think these are less painful than the SubQ's, and that surprises me.

Clindamycin (150mg vaginal suppository):I woke up at 3am and realized I forgot to insert this, so I had to run to the fridge and awkwardly place it while running back to bed, hoping it wasn't too late. Good thing it was my last one.

Fertilization Report: Of the 13 eggs retrieved yesterday, only 3 were fully mature and 4 were almost mature, so they did the ICSI procedure (where they take an individual sperm and shoot it directly into the egg) on all 7 of them. As expected, the almost mature eggs did not fertilize, but 2 out of the 3 fully mature ones did.

The final report is that out of 24 follicles and 13 eggs retrieved, we have only 2 embryos.

Two embryos is a blessing and I hate to sound ungrateful, it's just not exactly ideal. After yesterdays initial assessment we were planning on at least 10 fully mature and fertilized eggs this morning, hoping they'd all grow strong and we'd be able to put one back in next Tuesday and freeze at least 3 for future siblings.

But we all know what happens when I make plans.

God usually has a different one.

Waking up to a phone call like that left me pretty dismayed for the rest of today. I was anxious, worried, severely disappointed and jumping to the worst possible conclusions for myself. By the time Dr. Greene called me this evening to discuss the issue, I'd already figured in my head that I have crappy eggs despite my stellar blood test and hormone level reports, and that I will never be a mother.

The good news is that Dr. Greene feels it's too early to come to any conclusions and that we have nothing to worry about thus far. As long as the two embryos we do have continue to divide cells and grow, our situation will basically conclude that looks can be deceiving.

At our first ultra sound on Monday we located at least 24 follicles of which 11 already seemed to be mature, so we stopped the meds and triggered to retrieve yesterday. But the unexpected reality was even though our follicles measured large enough to house matured eggs, things-or in our cases follicles-aren't always as they appear.

Every body is different, and Dr. Greene is confident that even if our two precious embryos don't make it to the 5th day (the coveted blastocyte stage) we will at least be able to learn from this process, which is all we really can ever do. In our particular case, we now know that I most likely need to grow larger follicles than the average person to be able to retrieve more mature eggs.

Please pray for the four of us. I already feel like these delicate embryos are my babies and I need to protect them, but I'm so completely helpless. I do, however, take immense comfort in the reminder that God is in control of this situation-not us-and He never makes a mistake. What may seem terrifying and unfair to us is simply a part of His plan, and I have to trust that He'll take care of us and our future.

Whatever that may be.

"There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Retrieval Day

Thursday, 7-23-09 (Day 23)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Even the anesthesia of our egg retrieval today couldn't curb my appetite. Less than an hour after surgery, I was already enjoying a much anticipated dinner at The Cheesecake Factory that everyone swore I wouldn't be up for.

I showed them.

Ciprofloxacin (500mg, oral pill): Add another antibiotic into the cocktail of drugs I'm already consuming? Sure, why not.

PIO (1ml, IM injection): Unprepared to begin these shots so soon, I was sad I didn't have at least a few days recovery time and a nice break from all things shots.

However, I'm relieved to report that Willie has proved to be an amazing shooter, even with the extra long muscle penetrating needles.

Clindamycin (150mg vaginal suppository): Messy but not that bad-and I only have one more left.

Egg Retrieval: We woke up early this morning and drove down to Sacramento, a two and a half hour drive of which I spent most of the time thinking about our 24 follicles and praying that my superstar ovaries would be worthy of their title, giving us lots of great looking eggs.

Upon our arrival, I signed the necessary paperwork and found a seat in the almost empty waiting room, enthralled with watching a lady being wheeled out of the main lobby in a wheelchair by a nurse. I couldn't help but stare, wondering what her story was. How old was she? Is she here for a fresh cycle or a FET? How long had she been trying for a baby? How many eggs did she retrieve? Is this her first time too? Where was her husband?

My thoughts were interrupted as my husband was called back by the foreign embryologist with a funny accent to give his contribution in the back room. By that time my parents had joined me in the waiting room, for which I was grateful. My father can't stand the thought of me being under local anesthesia without him being close by, and my mother is way too enthralled in this process to stay at home during anything having to do with her possible future grandchildren.

About an hour later our group moved into a back room and I was given instructions to use the bathroom and change into the provided and free-to-keep SIRM logo tee shirt and accessories. It's not a fashion show, I know, but I still felt a little ridiculous as my family started flashing the cameras my way.

It's impossible to look cute in a hair net and booties.

The rest of the process flew by like a whirlwind. The nurse came in and started my IV, introduced us to the anaesthesiologist and let us speak with Dr. Greene about what to expect. I used the restroom one last time and then was walked back into the operating room and placed on table with my feet in stirrups and given my sleeping potion.

I woke up about twenty minutes later, alert and asking about the retrieved eggs; listening intently with high expectations as I was told by a beaming Doctor that thirteen eggs had been retrieved.

And my heart sank right down to my not so rock star ovaries.

Doctor Greene immediately read the disappointment in my face and questioned it, assuring me that thirteen was an excellent number and that although there were twenty four measurable follicles on Monday not all of them necessarily held eggs or were mature. In fact, some of them were over mature.

I instantly regretted being disappointed. Retrieving thirteen seemingly healthy eggs is an amazing gift, worthy of celebrating and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. It was also comforting to hear that Dr. Greene was very pleased with the number and appearance of the eggs so far-as well as the surprisingly quick and painless recovery I had already made-and we are so very grateful to our God for blessing us with such a successful, uncomplicated retrieval.

We are anxious and excited for tomorrows fertilization report, but we take comfort in knowing that God is watching over the fusing of our eggs and sperm right now, holding them in the palm of His hand and carefully joining together the ones He specifically chooses as we wait, excited and hopeful for our dreams to come true.

Or at least fertilize and grow.

"To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”
-Author Unknown

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bring On The Big Shots

Tuesday, 7-21-09 (Day 21)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I think I'm finally learning to control my appetite, about three weeks too late.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): This was my final Lupron shot, hopefully forever. I think I'll miss the simplicity of it now, especially since we're bringing on the big intramuscular shots next-the HCG trigger and the progesterone shots.

They'll make my subQ's feel like a walk in the park.

Wednesday, 7-22-09 (Day 22)

HCG Trigger (1ml, IM injection): There's nothing quite like waking up at 1am to get shot from behind.

Just as I became accustomed to the shallow subQ shots, they were done and over with, quickly replaced by this bad boy. With a 25 gage 1 1/2" long needle, we're not trying hard to find uncharted and unbruised territory on the pooch any longer, we've moved onto the behind, though the skin, and into the muscle.

Rescued again by the convenience of having a nurse for a mother, I slept on my parents couch until 12:55am when I woke up to grab the icepack and cover my entire right butt cheek with it-not sure exactly where she was going to stick me-trying to get it as numb as possible.

I woke up my mother, gave her the alcohol wipe and syringe, and laid down on the coach-stomach down-to await the pain of the needle ripping through my muscle.

I'm so dramatic; she was done before I even knew she stuck me.

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): How much longer do I have to take these?

Clindamycin (150mg vaginal suppository): Administered right before bedtime, these little rocket shaped suppositories are an antibiotic. I'll spare you the somewhat inappropriate details.

I'm finally starting to experience some minor discomfort, just one day before my retrieval. It's nothing unbearable or worth complaining about really, it just that it's hurts a little to go to the bathroom. Almost as if squeezing my bladder is putting pressure somewhere down there and irritating my rockstar ovaries, upsetting them as they finish growing my superstar follicles.

It's going to be hard to sleep tonight knowing that tomorrow holds the start of the most important part of this whole process-the retrieval of our eggs. In less than 24 hours we'll know how many mature eggs we have to work with, how acceptable their quality is, and quite possibly how many of them fertilized. Then we'll spend the next few days receiving reports on how many are growing and maturing, cell splitting and dividing, until we finally hand pick the one precious embryo that will be placed back in my uterus and pray that the rest make it to freeze for future siblings.

I feel such an unexplainable peace knowing that God is watching over us and our unborn children, guiding everyone that holds a part in this process and working to complete His will in our lives. He already knows what tomorrow holds, and I have no doubt that it's in our best interest no matter how this cycle turns out.

We're just praying it had a positive outcome. Literally.

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
-Dolly Parton

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two Dozen Shots

Monday, 7-20-09 (Day 20)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm dangerously close to the weight I was a few months ago, but I did loose those few pounds because I knew this process would cause me to gain some. I just need to be careful and focus on being as healthy as possible.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I don't even need the ice any more.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): This was my very last Follistim shot, and it was given in the back of the Super Walmart parking lot on our way back into town this evening.

Classy, I know, but that's where we landed at 6:30pm.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): My last Luveris injection was also given in the Super Walmart parking lot. It must have been such a sight to see a girl in the front of her car, lying back as far as the Ford Focus seat would allow, hiking up her sundress and giving herself two injections while her husband supervises and keeps the lookout.

I may actually miss the suspense and drama of it all.

According to my calendar today was officially cycle day 8 (CD8), and our first visit to the Doctor's office in Sacramento for our urea plasma (a simple swab test for a bacteria that can cause miscarriages), follicle check sonogram, and E2 blood work.

Usually this is all done on CD9, but Dr. Greene felt that I would most likely be a high responder even on the low dose of medication and wanted to check us out a day early, just in case. As I sat on the hard, sterile table and placed my feet awkwardly in the stirrups, I warned him that I just wasn't feeling anything out of the ordinary and I was concerned that I wasn't growing any eggs, just adding fat to my midsection.

He just ignored me and violated me with a sonogram wand, smiling as he started counting and measuring follicles; fifteen on the right side and nine on the left, with an endometrium lining of 16.5.

That's at least two dozen shots at our future family.

With a super thick lining and a total of twenty-four measurable follicles so far, Dr. Greene said that I surpassed his expectations as an overachiever and everything looks wonderful. The plan is to trigger with the HCG injection sometime tomorrow evening, and retrieve these gorgeous follicles on Thursday morning.

I'm still in shock; I had myself convinced that my lack of symptoms and ridiculously comfortable state meant I wasn't producing a decent amount of follicles; but I still had faith that God was in control and He would do what was best for us and His will.

My husband and I are both thrilled with our current progression and so very thankful for the smooth, uncomplicated ride we've experienced so far. We both know that prayer works wonders, and we are amazed and humbled by the amount sent up for us from family, friends, and even those blogging friends we've never met.

Those prayers are growing our eggs, thickening my lining, and keeping us sane.

"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith."
-Margaret Shepard

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Worth A Shot

Saturday, 7-18-09 (Day 18)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm starting to wonder why I even bother at this point. Maybe it would be best for everyone if I just enjoyed this time and ate whatever I wanted too.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I'm starting to loose track of which side I'm supposed to receive my shot on, as well as running out of space on my pooch to do the shooting. But I'm actually quite proud of my bruised, distorted stomach, and I sometimes catch myself lifting up my shirt just to stare at it. I'm just so fascinated with this whole process.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): This shot still hurt, but since we got back home (to my in-laws house) around 7pm tonight, it was nice to be back in a normal, sterile environment, and for that I'm thankful.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): I'm pleased to say that everything went well tonight, and I'm 100% confident that this injection was finally given the right way.

It's about time.

Sunday, 7-19-09 (Day 19)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): My only slip up was the homemade strawberry and banana ice cream we had at my husband's grandparents house after church tonight, but I strongly believe that no one should be expected to refuse homemade ice cream in any situation.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Easy. I love it.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): Our Sunday night services are usually done by 6pm, but we're still down at my in-laws and they last until 7:30pm here, causing us once again to to store our injections in the church fridge and casually walk out of the sermon and into the kitchen for tonight's injections.

We preloaded the Follistim pen in attempt to make things run more smoothly, but it was still awkward hiking up my skirt and praying that no one would walk in during the fifteen seconds it takes to give the injection. As I squatted awkwardly behind the island, half naked and waiting to be shot, I sadly realized that IVF has slowly but surely knocked the modesty right out of me.

Now I just make sure I'm wearing decent panties, just in case.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): As I pushed my dress back down and retrieved the leftover 1/2ml Luveris from last night for my husband to administer, he hurried to prepare the final syringe. But as he inverted the bottle and started to release the liquid, it began to somehow drip out everywhere, leaving us with less than .2ml of our original .5ml to inject.

I'm seriously fascinated with this whole process.

Truly amazed by how easily we managed to mess this up and left with no time to laugh or cry, we settled for injecting what little liquid we had followed by rushing back to his parents house after church to mix up our final batch of Luveris and complete the missing .3ml with a fourth injection.

Honestly, what was one more puncture wound at this point going to hurt anyway?

Besides; we'll be seeing our doctor down in Sacramento tomorrow for another E2 and our first follicle check anyway, so getting more Luveris won't be a problem. Plus there's just way too much perfection going on right now to let myself get worked up over a tiny vial of difficult egg quality hormones; like the fact that I've somehow miraculously managed to remain bloat, pain and headache free even after six full days of stimulation drugs.

In fact, if it wasn't for that darn dexamethasone redirecting my eggs to be stored in my love handles, I'd never even know I was growing them.

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."
-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hot Shot

Friday, 7-17-09 (Day 17)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Today we traveled down south to chaperon a State Youth Rally, so my diet consisted of road trip food. I'm pretty sure I downed at least 3,000 calories.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Today's injection was given by Freddie, my brother-in-law. It's hilarious to watch the faces of our friends and families as they jab me with a needle.

I think deep down they really enjoy it.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): The youth rally was held in a gym; and it had to be at least 85 degrees when we arrived around 5pm, so of course I was a hot, cranky mess. I was trying so hard to be a good sport, but traveling with meds-especially some that have to be refrigerated-can be a bit stressful, especially when you are taking three shots a day and trying to stick to fairly strict injection schedule. Mix in the heat, road trip food and a dull headache and your just asking for trouble.

So at 6:30pm my husband and I headed into the large industrial refrigerator in the school's kitchen where our meds were stored. Due to the lack of a unisex bathroom or any other private place for that matter, we resorted to injecting inside the fridge. While he loaded our Follistim pen I tried to find a way to successfully block the door so no one would walk in while I had my sundress lifted up high to expose my midsection. After tackling that last obstacle by placing a large box of water in front of the metal door and praying no one would barge in, we hurried to give the shot so we could work on drawing
Luveris next.

I'm not sure if it was because we were rushed or because we were both terrified someone would violate our fridge space, but tonight's injection had me near tears. I kept telling my husband that this was a bad idea, that hiding in a fridge in the kitchen of a school while chaperoning a lock-in type sleepover right smack in the middle of my stims was absolutely crazy, he just kept repeating, "it's for the Lord, babe, it's for the Lord...".

And it made me smile.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): I wish I could say the Follistim was the end of the night's drama for us, but it wasn't.

After the Follistim shot was complete, I quickly found the Luveris bottle in our cooler and searched for the syringe and needles that went with it, but soon realized that I had left them out in the car. Dangerously frustrated, we decided that he would stay there with the kids and I would go back to the hotel that his mom and cousin were staying at to calm down, cool off, and give myself the Luveris injection.

Once at the hotel, I tried to draw out the ridiculously small remainder of the Luveris from the bottle with no luck. After about ten minutes of fighting with it, I called my mom and explained to her what was wrong and ended up having a melt down, sobbing quietly into the phone. Always steady, she did her best to calm me and suggested drawing up another batch of the Luveris instead of trying to use yesterdays left overs, so I took a deep breath, hung up the phone, and did as I was told.

But even after mixing up another batch and giving myself the injection, I realized about half of it was still left sitting in the syringe. I knew I had to be doing something wrong, and it made me even more nervous to think about last nights injection being wrong too, especially since this is the medicine that affects the quality of our eggs. Trying their best to help me, my mother-in-law and cousin drove me to Right Aid where the pharmaceutical technician told us he wasn't qualified to help us, and then off to a hospital where we were finally able to speak to a nurse about the syringe and injection issues.

Very long story short, I was drawing the wrong amount of diluent, putting only .1cc (ml) into the powder mixture instead of 1cc (ml). I was completely reading the syringe wrong. No wonder I was having trouble-have you ever tried to draw out .05cc (ml) out of a tiny bottle using a 1 1/2" gage needle?

I have. It doesn't work.

I suppose it's because all of my other meds are such small doses that I just didn't pay enough attention to this one being so much larger, but either way, I basically received a super concentrated dose last night, and again tonight, although I was able to remix and fix tonight's mistake after speaking to Dr. Greene in a very embarrassing conversation to his house at 9pm.

Because of tonight's fiasco, I missed most of the service at the youth rally, and I'll probably end up being at least one bottle short of my Luveris. The devil was really trying hard to discourage me tonight, and I'm ashamed to admit that I gave in-dramatically-complete with a breakdown. But in the end everything worked out, God is in control, and no harm was done.

After all, it was for the Lord.

"You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make."
-Gorden B. Hinkely

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Shoot Me

Wednesday, 7-15-09 (Day 15)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Despite the Zucchini bread episode yesterday, I'm still down a pound. Hopefully the Follistim holds off on bloating me until I can get rid of the other three.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I'm so used to this shot by now I could give it in my sleep.

Follistim (300units, subQ injection): After work today I had my first bad headache, so I laid down to take a nap until my 6:30pm Follistim time rolled around. I was impressed-again-when my husband came in at 6:25 with an ice pack and a fully loaded Follistim pen. He let me numb the area for a minute, then gave me the shot on my left side, and put me back to bed.


So far I only have one complaint about Follistim, and I seem to be the only one. Everyone is just raving about how easy and pain free it is. Well, that sucker hurts me. Not the shot itself-that part isn't bad at all-but after waiting the ten seconds and then pulling out the shot and applying light pressure to stop the bleeding hurts, like an aching sensation. And then the area is tender and bruises afterwards.

But I'll take that over the crazy emotions and bloated, full feeling that I've happily avoided so far.

Thursday, 7-16-09 (Day 16)

(.75mg, oral pill): Despite this tiny pill's ability to seemingly control my appetite, I refused to give in all day long. Until I had a brownie and ice cream for desert.

Dang it.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): I love Lupron, it's been good to me. Easy to inject, doesn't leave a mark, and gives me some long, strong nails without any emotional delusions thus far.

Follistim (225units, subQ injection): Today's injection was given while at our friends Christopher and Debi's house where we stopped for dinner on our way out of town. So my husband showed off his mad shooting skills in front of an audience tonight, and as usual, he did an amazing job. It wasn't until a few minutes later that we realized we made a slight mistake; instead of dropping the Follistim dose down to 225units like we should have, we accidentally left it at 300units.

Christopher assured us that it wasn't that big of a deal, we'll just have a thousand eggs on Monday instead of a handful. The more the merrier, right?

We shall see.

Luveris (1/2ml, subQ injection): Luveris is a powder and solvent solution made of pure recombinant luteinizing hormone (LH) that is used to improve egg quality. So it's worth the trouble of mixing powder and liquid with a ginormous needle, switching to a smaller one, and receiving a third injection tonight; this one given by Christopher, who finally broke down and chose to contribute to his future niece or nephews life after much encouragement from us. I'll admit I was a tiny bit worried at first because he's known for his unnaturally shaky hands, but he proved to hold steady under pressure did a great job.

It's not every day you find a friend who'll shoot you.

Seriously though, to be able to experience this with our friends and family is amazing, and it's so incredibly special to let them (or force them, in Christopher's case) have a part in this process. I can't wait to share with our children all the many loved ones that helped bring them into existence with their unconditional love, prayers, support...

And shots.

"True friends stab you in the front."
-Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cheap Shot

Tuesday, 7-14-09 (Day 14)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I was doing so good until I got home from work and devoured a mini loaf of zucchini bread. I suppose the fact that the main ingredient being organic squash grown from our garden doesn't make it any better, because I made it and I know what else is in it.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Left side injection was another success. I feel virtually unstoppable now that I have finally conquered the Sharps waste container.

Follistim (300units, subQ injection): Follistim-more commonly referred to as stims-is a hormone used to stimulate a follicle (egg) to develop and mature. The injection is given using a handy Follistim Pen, that looks surprisingly like, you guessed it-a pen, with a cartridge containing drugs instead of ink. These injections will be given at night, on the opposed side of my Lupron injection for the next six days.

My husband showed an impressive desire to take control of the Follistim injections, and has officially reclaimed his manhood by becoming the master of the Follistim Pen.

Suddenly in a Follistim frenzy, I just had to run over to Ross. My intentions were only to feed my constant desire to have something new to wear to an upcoming event, this one being our possible egg retrieval and transfer sometime late next week. I wanted something comfortable, functional, and appropriate for an overly emotional girl who looks six months pregnant because she is growing way more eggs than anyone should ever have to.

Naturally, I ventured straight into the maternity section. What's more supportive and forgiving of a swollen, sensitive stomach then pregnancy clothes?

Never one to pass up a great deal, I came out on the other side with two pairs of maternity jeans($7,$12), one pair of maternity lounge pants($4), one maternity tank top($5), three hard page children's bible stories($7,$7, $5), one pregnancy journal($3) and one week-by-week pregnancy guide and organizer($4).

I have issues, I know. Not only did I not need to be spending the money, but couldn't the celebratory shopping trip of all things maternity have been held after I've found out I'm pregnant?

Oh, no. It has to be before.

Because where would the exhilaration, danger and high of buying maternity wear, children's books, and pregnancy journals be if I were already pregnant?


I'll just keep the receipt and blame the Follistim.

In other, less erratic news, my E2 (estradiol) blood test results finally came in this morning, at 67. My nurse simply said that number "was to be expected", so I'm going to ignore my earlier Internet research telling me that a desirable level is less than 50-60 and just trust her.

I'm a simple girl. It doesn't take much more than officially growing eggs, receiving an acceptable E2 number, and finding a ridiculously cheap maternity lounge outfit for an upcoming egg retrieval to make me happy.

Now all I need is the baby.

"The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
-Allan K. Chalmers

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shot Down

Saturday, 7-11-09 (Day 11)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm officially up four pounds. This madness must stop before I hit five.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Right side injection went well. I've found the least painful area to shoot is below my belly button where there is more pooch to grab as apposed to the left and right of my belly button where I have less fatty tissue.

I find it painfully odd that I'm so thankful for my fatty pooch right now.

It also seems as though my period was short lived this time around, and is officially over. I celebrated by eating way too much double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. And I don't even like chocolate ice cream.

But that didn't stop me from eating it.

Sunday, 7-12-09 (Day 12)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): My attempts at eating well were shot down today when I found myself involuntarily rooting through the cupboards in a trance, stopping at nothing and eating everything in sight. After a handful of Doritos and a few more scoops of that darn chocolate ice cream, I suddenly panicked and ran to the scale.

Then I panicked again when I saw the scale.

Then while fighting back tears, I found myself back in the kitchen panicking once again, all while eating more Doritos.

This is getting ridiculous.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Left side injection went well. So far I haven't experienced any side effects worth complaining about besides an occasional dull headache and slight fatigue, but I am enjoying longer, stronger nails. I know this isn't a normal side effect by any means, but I'm certainly not giving the credit to my Dexamethasone and nothing else in my routine has changed, so Lupron it is.

Monday, 7-13-09 (Day 13)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Today, I am eating healthy. I am stronger than my food cravings. I will take control and rise above this little blue pill and it's fierce appetite stimulating hormones.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Right side injection went well. In fact my longer, stronger Lupron nails have actually gained me access to my Sharps container with no more problems.

It's a miracle.

My E2 blood test were supposed to be in no later than today, but it looks like we're going to keep running into trouble with this test. My IVF nurse coordinator tried frantically to get a hold of LabCorp all day for the results so she could give me the go-ahead to start stims tomorrow, but we'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow holds.

Me? I'm surprisingly stress-free about it all.

"Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there's got to be a leap of faith."
-Yo-Yo Ma

Friday, July 10, 2009

Oh, Shoot

Thursday, 7-9-09 (Day 9)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm still blaming this for my relentless, neurotic appetite; and hoping this isn't a vision of what's to come during pregnancy.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Right side injection went well today. I think I'm getting the hang of this.

But the rest of my body is not.

It looks like I'm officially on Period, Part II. I started bleeding back on July 3rd (just a few days short of stopping my birth control) and was wondering why my usual 4 day period was still going on day 6, albeit lightly. Then today-right on time I might add; my calendar warned me to expect my period today-I woke up to cramping ovaries, an irritated uterus, and a full flow, again. It's alright though, Ms. Uterus. You do your thing, and shed your lining one last time.

It'll be the last I'll see of this for another ten months anyway.

Friday, 7-10-09 (Day 10)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I woke up late this morning, and while rushing around dropped the pill into the sink, under running water. With my cat-like reflexes not working to their full extent in the am, I struggled to save the pill and shove it-and it's then gooey liquidish form-into my mouth.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Today's injection went well, but caused me to bleed. It really is no big deal, my left side just has issues.

Today was also my first E2 blood test, to make sure the Lupron is doing it's job by suppressing my hormones and keeping me from ovulating. The test is supposed to be done STAT, so the Doctor has the results immediately and can make any necessary changes to the dosage of medicine.

But unfortunately my dexamethasone incident wasn't the only catastrophic result of me waking up late this morning.

My cousin and my sister are both phlebotomists. My cousin works for LabCorp, and my sister works at the Hospital, and they both happened to be working today. My original plan was to go to LabCorp were my cousin works, because that's what my Doctor prefers, but I woke up late to a text message saying that LapCorp doesn't do E2 blood tests STAT, and the soonest they could get the results would be next Monday. She suggested I go see my sister at the hospital, so as I was rushing around to get ready I texted my sister to make sure the hospital will run an E2 blood test STAT.

Of course they don't.

Already frantic at this point because my original plan to take care of this mess before work was ruined by my waking up a mere forty-five minutes before my first appointment, I rushed to get into the office before my clients did. On the way, I multi tasked by calling my Doctors office in Sacramento to let them know that no one in town will do my E2 blood test STAT, and after making several calls themselves, I was given the OK to head to LabCorp and they would work out the details themselves.

So in between my appointments at the office, to LabCorp I went. As odd as this sounds, it was somewhat refreshing to have my cousin poke me with a needle that was removing something from my veins instead of forcing burning hormones into my body.

This process is proving to be challenging, but I'm honestly loving every part of it. To be able to watch and learn as my body goes through changes and steps to help create the miracle of life is just extraordinary. I'm reminded everyday that God has given us many tools and technology, but in the end, He is the great physician. He is the creator of life, and He alone can make this happen.

We just have to trust Him, and give it our best shot.

"Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."
-Groucho Marx

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'll Call The Shots

Monday, 7-6-09 (Day 6)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm up about 2 pounds from when I started, but again, probably more from my lazy eating habits and less from this pill. I'm going to have to start cracking down now that I'm so close to growing my eggs. Some of these little guys may end up being my future children, and I refuse to expose them at such an early age to massive amounts of frappachino caffeine.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Today I dropped my dose down from 10units to 5units, as per my color-coded calendar's instructions, and will continue to remain at 5units for the duration of this cycle. The left side injection went perfectly, as less units means less stinging.

Last night was my last birth control pill, so I was officially allowed to disconnect the alarm I had set on my cell phone as a reminder of my 10pm estrogen fix. I'm not sorry to see them go, but I am curious to see what happens next. My calendar warns me to expect my period within the next few days, but since my overly excited uterus couldn't wait any longer I'm already on day 4 of my period. The nurse said it may stop and then come again, or it may just last for a very long time. We shall see.

Tuesday 7-7-09 (Day 7)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Further research shows these pills supposedly encourage your body to accept the embryo instead of treating it like it's a foreign object as it's trying to implant. Good to know there is an agenda behind this craziness.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): Today's right side injection went smoothly. Which reminds me, I've been receiving a lot of praise about how brave I am for giving myself most of these shots. I'm grateful, of course, but bravery hasn't been my true motivation. It was just out of necessity that I had to put on my big girl panties and suck it up, because my husband has the attention span of a toddler, bless his heart.

During my mothers demonstration I happened to have a few friends over who were thoroughly intrigued, giving the matter their undivided attention. However, we lost my husband to his e-mail right about the time my mother took the cap off the needle. I suppose it's my fault for leaving the laptop out where he could reach it.

So when he came at me last Wednesday morning with the intentions of giving me that first shot, I backed away and warned him to drop the needle before someone got hurt, and it wouldn't be me. We had a little talk this morning though, and he's showing interest and willingness to be more a part of this process so we're going to practice tonight and have him give it a shot (yes, pun intended) tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7-8-09 (Day 8)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Despite the fact that it's a steroid and causes unpleasant weight gain and ravenous hunger, I'm grateful for the ease of swallowing a pill amongst all the needles.

Lupron (5units, subQ injection): As I was holding the ice pack to my left side, trying to numb the area before the injection, my husband dutifully measured out the 5units of lupron after sterilizing the bottle. I then reminded him to "pinch" some skin, to which he proceeded to grab the entire left side of my pooch in his bear claw hand.

All of it.

After redirecting his thick fingers to a smaller section of my skin, he continued slow and steady, but we both watched-and winced-as the needle poked hard at my tough skin, but not through it. I could tell he was a bit nervous, so I urged him to try again on another area, and this time the needle went through. Really through. So through, that I had to tell him to back it out a bit. And when he proceeded to inject the medicine, he subconsciously pushed so hard that from my birds eye view it looked as though my pooch was attempting to swallow both the needle and the entire syringe whole.

I love my husband dearly, he is truly an amazing, selfless man. He isn't disinterested in this process, it's just that I happen to have more of a take charge personality and he knows when to let me run with it; he's satisfied with watching for now as I dominate these smaller, subq injections. Along with this, I've also accepted the fact that Cabela's magazines will always hold presidence over my Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living subscriptions, football beats out reality TV any day, and our dog will always love him more. I married a simple, God fearing, NRA loving country boy; and to be quite honest, there's no doubt he wears the pants in our house.

But from now on, I'm calling the shots.

"I've always believed no matter how many shots I miss, I'm going to make the next one."
-Jonathan Swift

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Shots Along The Way

Following are the traveling chronicles of shots, pills, and surf fishing that took place while camping in the tiny town of Ferndale with my parents on the 4th of July weekend.

Friday, 7-3-09 (Day 3)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): My appetite has definitely increased, but I'm still debating whether or not to blame it on the pill, or the fact that I'm on vacation surrounded by high-calorie snacks with dangerously low self-control.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): Today's injection went much smoother on the right side. I took advantage of the wisdom delivered by some of my blog commenters and numbed the area for a bit with a small ice pack; it made a huge difference. No bruising, no bleeding.

In other news, apparently my ovaries did not get the memo that I am on birth control and therefore should not be having my period until I stop the pills in a few more days; because today I began to bleed like a stuck pig. However, my nurse coordinator doesn't seem too concerned, so I refuse to be. Besides, I should have expected it. Birth control or not, my uterus has hit it's usual 31 day cycle ending date and was ready to do it's thing.

Sometimes you just can't stop nature.

Saturday 7-4-09 (Day 4)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): After some quick Internet research, I found that this pill is also given to cancer patients to help reduce the nausea of chemotherapy and increase their appetite.

So that explains why I didn't get carsick on the long, windy mountain drive; and why I'm so hungry all the time.

Good to know.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): I think I've got the hang of this. Seemingly unfazed by last Thursday's dramatic episode with my left side troubles, I simply stabbed that needle in like it was no body's business. I wasn't taking my chances with multiple stab wounds again.

Mission accomplished.

Today's Tab-ology: If you've never tried to gracefully squat and pee behind a sand dune in 45 degree weather, using flimsy biodegradable toilet paper while on your period...then you haven't lived. I'm just saying.

Sunday, 7-5-09 (Day 5)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): Insomnia, no, but increased appetite and weight gain? That's would be a yes.

:::Sigh's and hangs head pitifully:::

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): As my last injection while on vacation, I decided to show off my mad skills and do it in front of my mother. After all, it was my right side, and my only side thus far to have a perfect track record.

Until today.

Apparently my jabbing techniques are the problem. I have some tough skin, and was reminded that slow and steady pressure is what works best. My mom ended up giving me the injection, and I was forced to pick up my wounded pride and move on.

And for some good news; it looks like my troubles with my sharps container have come to an end. I've decided to just leave the darn thing open.

All the time.

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."
-Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I've Been Shot

Shouldn't I get a T-shirt or something for this?

Wednesday, 7-1-09 (Day 1)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): As soon as this little blue steroid pill touched my lips, I gained a pound. Besides the increased appetite that leads to the weight gain, the most common side effect is insomnia, but I somehow managed to avoid that one.

Ate like a pig, slept like a baby.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): Luckily my mother is a nurse and so graciously came over the night before my meds began to go over everything with me and show me exactly what to do. She even pre-filled the syringe for me that night, so I wouldn't have to stress about it in the morning, since I don't always function properly in the am.

The next morning, I woke up and drug myself to the bathroom, ready and willing to get shot. I swabbed the right side of my lower belly pooch with an alcohol wipe and removed the orange cap from the needle. I pinched the skin, and inserted the needle just as I had been taught while practicing on a tangerine, pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it slid in. The Lupron caused a slight burning sensation and extreme itch followed by what looked like a mosquito bite, but I survived.

I was so proud, until I tried to open up the sharps container to dispose of the needle.

In my defense, there were no instructions. After a few minutes of fumbling and fuming, I resorted to digging my stubby fingernail underneath the edge of the top lid and practically pried the darn thing open.

Whatever works, right?

Thursday, 7-2-09 (Day 2)

Dexamethasone (.75mg, oral pill): I'm prepared for the weight gain, but if this pill takes away my sleep, someone may get hurt.

Lupron (10units, subQ injection): After measuring out the Lupron-unattended for the first time-I headed for the left side and pinched the skin, shoving the needle straight in. But it didn't go in, it just bounced off my skin, resulting in this lovely bruise:

Slightly frustrated, I tried again, this time using a quicker dart-like motion and jabbing the needle in. I pricked my skin enough to draw a tiny bit of blood, but not enough to get the darn thing inside. So one more time, I attempted to stab my pooch-pretending like it was a tangerine instead of my own skin-and finally the needle broke the first layer but still had to be pushed pretty hard to get where it needed to be.

I wish I could say that's where the trouble ended.

Seriously, is my waste container defective, or am I? Eventually my husband opened it for me with little-to-no effort, proclaiming "See Babe? It's easy!", but I'm beginning to think I have issues. I just have to keep telling myself that all I need are a few more days to adjust, and I'll be a professional shooter in no time.

But I have no intentions of quiting my day job.

"There's no secret to getting started. You simply decide and then take your first step. With each subsequent step, the next one becomes easier..."
-Martha Beck