Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Embryos and Egg Retrieval Recovery

I had the Monday off after my egg retrieval because it was Victoria Day, so I was able to spend the day relaxing on the couch, drinking water and eating salty foods. I had constant abdominal discomfort. This got better as the week progressed and by about Thursday I only had pain if I twisted the wrong way.

I started progesterone suppositories Monday morning – 2 pills (200mg total) 3 times a day – to prepare for embryo transfer. I also picked up antibiotics that I would take the day before, day of, and day after embryo transfer. The progesterone suppositories are messy but I know from my IUI cycles that I need 400mg a day to prevent my uterine bleeding so I’ll do whatever necessary if it means I don’t have any bleeding.

The lab called the day after the egg retrieval to talk about the eggs/embryos. All 8 eggs were mature and fertilized with ICSI. 7 of them started to divide. With more than 4 embryos they recommend doing a day 5 transfer because there is usually a higher rate of success than a day 3 transfer, and with so many embryos it is likely that at least 1 will make it to day 5. For a day 5 transfer they don’t check the embryos on day 2 so the next update would be day 3.

I was prepared for a drop in the number of embryos on day 3 because I know it’s typical for there to be pretty significant drops in embryo numbers during an IVF cycle, but my husband was convinced all 7 would still be growing. He was right! I got the call on day 3 that all 7 embryos were still growing away and that they looked excellent, so my transfer was set for day 5

Monday, 29 May 2017

Egg Retrieval

My egg retrieval was scheduled for 9am on the Sunday of the Victoria Day long weekend. I needed to arrive at the clinic at 8am to be prepped for the procedure. I also had a list of things I needed to do at home prior to coming to the clinic, including both my husband and I having showers that morning, no food or drink after midnight, wearing socks, tying my hair back, bringing a pad and a few other things.

When I woke up Sunday morning I was starving and thirsty and really nervous. I still felt crampy like I had the night before so I was a little less worried about ovulating before the retrieval. My husband and I prepped at home as instructed by the clinic, including wearing our matching Star Wars t-shirts. We took a picture together to put in an IVF scrapbook before heading to the clinic.

At the clinic I changed into a very cute squirrel nightgown, surgical booties and hair cap, took a sedative and had an IV started. I was given an antibiotic with the IV to help with infection. My husband had to wear shoe covers, a gown, hair cap and face mask. Before going into the procedure room we were told that it was common for each follicle not to have an egg, and for not all the eggs to be mature. My husband provided his semen sample before the egg retrieval.

For the egg retrieval I was set up on a table similar to what is used for giving birth. I was started on oxygen and my blood pressure and heart rate were monitored regularly. My husband was able to sit by my head during the procedure. There was 1 nurse monitoring me, 1 helping the RE, the RE, and a lab technician in the room. I was given a pain killer and something else during the procedure so I don’t remember anything after the RE started placing the speculum and cleaning my vagina/cervix.

To retrieve the eggs they use a vaginal ultrasound and a big needle to suction out the fluid from the follicles. My husband could watch on the ultrasound screen and see the follicle disappear. I asked him to take a video but he didn’t, so I just got pictures of my ovaries with all the follicles there. The whole procedure took less than 10 minutes and the lab tech confirmed that there was an egg in each follicle before we went back to recover.

I had some cramping and a little bit of bleeding after the procedure. I was starving so as soon as we left we went to McDonald’s. My husband would only let me have fries, but they were so delicious. I spent the rest of the day relaxing on the couch and watching tv.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

IVF Stims

I felt so horrible the whole time I was on stims that I could barely make it through a work day and spent all my time in bed or on the couch.

After my first 5 days of stims I went in for an ultrasound and blood work to see how my ovaries were responding. The RE found 2-3 follicles on my left ovary and 4-5 on my right ovary. Based on my AMH it was expected that I would produce 4-8 follicles so I was right on target for that. My uterine lining looked good and my estrogen was still low, so I picked up another 2 days of meds and came back 2 days later. During this ultrasound there was still 2-3 follicles on my left ovary and 4-5 on my right. The lead follicle was getting pretty big so I started a new medication, Cetrotide, to prevent ovulation, which means I had to do 2 injections each night. The Cetrotide burns going in, and the injection site was sore over a day later. I did Cetrotide with my stims for 2 days before my next appointment. At this ultrasound they finally confirmed my follicle number as 3 on my left ovary and 5 on my right ovary. My lead follicle was big enough to stop stims and take my trigger shot that night at 9PM. My blood work showed that everything was good to do a fresh embryo transfer. The trigger shot was HCG, the same hormone that is produced during pregnancy, and it helps the eggs finish maturing before retrieval. The morning after taking the trigger shot I really wanted to pee on a pregnancy test so I could finally see a positive, but I had no cheap tests left and didn’t feel like going to Dollarama to pick one up.

The great thing about making it to the trigger shot means that there was a day off from medication between trigger and egg retrieval. I started to feel really crampy, like I was going to ovulate, the day after my trigger shot. I was really worried about ovulating before egg retrieval, despite logical things like obviously the doctor know what they are doing and doesn’t want me to ovulate early, and that several clinics online do the same 36 hours between trigger and retrieval. My egg retrieval was scheduled for 8am on the Sunday of a long weekend, which actually worked out great because I already had the day of and day after retrieval off work to recover.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Day 5 of IVF

On cycle day 3 I went to the RE clinic for my screening ultrasound and blood work. I signed in on the clinic sign-up sheet and then took a seat in the waiting room, as everyone that needs an ultrasound or blood work are scheduled at 7:30am and are seen in the order that they arrived. I was called up first to pay the over $8,000 an IVF + ICSI cycle costs, including the fee for freezing embryos for a year. Next, I had my vaginal ultrasound to confirm that my ovaries were suppressed and did not have any cysts. My ovaries looked good, although my left ovary is difficult to find, which will make egg retrieval on that side difficult. I also found out that I have a retroverted uterus, which none of my previous doctors had bothered to tell me. After a blood draw I was free to go. I had to wait until an afternoon phone call from the nurses to let me know if my blood work was fine so I could start my cycle.

I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up the IVF drugs after I got the go-ahead phone call. There is only one pharmacy in the whole city that carries the IVF medications. The pharmacist was great and went over the whole injection process with me, including providing me with an opportunity to practice the medication mixing and injections. It was no big surprise that none of the medications were covered by our work prescription drug plans since infertility is one of the only medical conditions whose treatment is considered optional. So, it was another $1500 for 5 days worth of medications.

I started the medications at 9PM that night. I have to mix the Gonal-F with the Luveris, add sterile water, and then inject it all approximately 1 inch from my belly button. It was really weird giving myself an injection. The injection hurts. My husband injected me the next night and he was so worried about hurting me that he injected so slowly that it hurt even more. I feel like I’m at pro at it now after 4 days, but it still hurts.

Side effects have been all over the place. The first day after starting I had a headache/lightheadedness and nausea that got worse when I was driving. It was the same the next day and the same today. However, yesterday I had a splitting headache and frequent flips from hot flashes to chills. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t get out of bed and was crying to my husband that I didn’t know how I was going to get through at least another week of this and I didn’t know if going through this was worth it to get a baby.

Here is my 5 day supply of meds

And here is everything I need to do one injection