My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Friday, October 15, 2010

IVF, round one

Once we got all sorts of testing done, the final conclusion is that yes, we would have trouble conceiving, but we shouldn't have any trouble carrying a baby to term once we got over that original hurdle.

Not only does my body not ovulate on it's own, but there was a minor issue with my husband as well.  And demonstrating myself to be a horrible person yet again, finding this out was actually a relief to me. 

One of the emotional issues I was dealing with was the fact that because my body is my enemy, I was going to put my husband through a horrible roller-coaster as well.  It was unfair that he had to go along for that ride simply because of my failings.  So finding out that he would have to go through this process had he chosen someone else to be with, well, I suddenly felt a whole lot better and a lot of the pressure went way.  It wasn't all my fault anymore.

So here's the deal.  My body doesn't present an egg.  And his sperm moves quick and there's plenty of it, but once it hits the egg, it isn't able to break through.  So it was like he was trying to get through a locked door without a key, but there wasn't anybody in the house anyway.

What was already my favorite comic illustrated our situation perfectly. We now have my old tshirt with this comic framed and hanging on our wall as a symbol of our struggle.

So the analysis was, if the doctor could harvest some eggs, manually get the sperm inside them, and then plant them back in me, we had every reason to believe that it would be successful.

If you're going to go through the IVF process, the first thing you need to know is that your body is no longer private property.  People are going to be poking and prodding and pushing on what used to be private just about every day.

The second thing you need to know - if you have needle phobia, you will get over it.  Later in the process, I had an average of 4 needles stuck in me a day.  Some to inject medications, others to retrieve blood.  And my veins got very uncooperative for a while which meant several needles to get that blood.

My advice to about needles - if medication is going in, ice the area.  Seriously, you probably won't feel the actual needle and the ice itself will be the sucky part of the process.  If blood is coming out, be hydrated before going to the dr's office.  And if your veins get uncooperative, get some of those chemical handwarmer thingies meant to warm your hands in the snow.  Grab a hair scrunchy and put the handwarmer in the crook of your elbow and wrap the scrunchy around your elbow to hold it in place during your drive to the dr.  The heat will get the blood flowing and make retrieving it much easier.  Once I started doing that, we never had a problem getting my blood again.

So we started the process of daily injections.  Now, when that first box of medications arrived, I started crying.  This was a BIG ASS box and it was completely full of the various things that would be entering my body.  Needles, medications, just horrible, horrible things.  I had to have my husband hide the box because every time I looked at it I started to cry.

For the first time, being a fat woman worked in my favor.  Most women have the option of injecting themselves.  But being a fat woman, we had to make sure that the medication got into a muscle and since my stomach muscles have too much fat, we had to inject the glutemus maximus.  I'm just going to own my spelling mistakes, so, yeah.  Ok, I can't see the circles that are drawn on my butt as targets and certainly can't twist around to make sure the medication is injected properly.  That means the husband has to do it for me.

YAY!!!!!!  In all honesty, I think he had the bum end of this deal.  My job was to sit in bed on an ice pack while he measured out the meds and ensured that they were done properly.  I didn't know or care what exactly was being injected and just relied on him to get it done and make sure I took whatever I needed to take.  And by icing up my tush, I hardly felt the needles at all.  He woke me up before he went to work every day and handed me my ice pack.  He went back to the kitchen to prep the needle and came back and did the injection.  I would go back to sleep, hardly aware of what happened and he would go to work.  Then we would repeat the process 12 hours later, but I was more awake for that one.  So yeah, he had to do all the thinking.  My job was to just tolerate the medications and let my body do it's job.

My husband took his job of being the strong partner very seriously.  He knew that I was emotional and he did his best to support me by not being emotional and being strong and reasonable.  For the most part, this was awesome, but it did cause a little bit of an issue that I'll get to later on in this blog post.

And there was a funny side to the Mr. Strong behavior.  At one point, when he removed the needle, I started to bleed a little.  The sight of blood came as a complete surprise to him and all I knew is that he was suddenly very.....efficient.  Whipping around the room getting bandaids and purelling his hands and rushing back to apply some pressure and get the bandaid on.  "Nope, nope!  Nothing's wrong!  Nothing at all!  You just relax!"  He kept bandaids on the night stand after that.

Lupron - it's evil.  During this process, I started falling into a depression.  Now, as someone who was diagnosed and treated for manic depression for about half of her life, this was terrifying.

Like I said in an earlier post, I don't have the depression issues anymore.  Yes, I had the chemical imbalance and truly went through it for almost 2 decades.  But I'm also a success story in that we accidentally found the root cause and fixed it.  My chemical imbalance was brought about by chronic sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea.  We fixed the sleep apnea.  Then a year later, I went off the depression meds to start trying to get pregnant and we all kept a watchful eye out for my inevitable depression decline.  But it never came.  After a year of no drugs, even the shrink agreed that I simply did not have that issue anymore.  But we still have him on speed dial and keep a watchful eye.  I'm grateful, not stupid.

Ok, so the lupron.  I became sluggish, and my brain started to haze just like the depression.  I couldn't think properly.  It sucked.  And I took it personally that I couldn't function, like it was a personal failing.

I felt better once I ran into a friend who was able to tell me exactly what drug was causing the issue and that her friend had the same issue as well.  And that it does go away.  So if you're IVFing and feeling like your brain just doesn't work - it's the lupron.  It's temporary.  I promise.

So we were 2 days before it was time to trigger the eggs to be harvested.  Everything was going textbook.  Lots of follicles were growing, the doctor was very happy, everything was perfect.  Until that day.

I got the phone call with my blood test results.  I had a hormone surge that was triggering the eggs prematurely.  My choices were to go in and get a shot to hopefully hold off the trigger process or abort this IVF attempt, let the eggs release into my system, try natural insemination and hope we get lucky.  Oh, and we had 10 minutes to make this decision because every hour that goes by before getting the shot makes it less likely to work.

I get on the phone to my husband, and attempt to tell him what's happening while I'm crying.  He decides to come home (which is actually a huge thing, he never leaves work) and before we get off the phone, we have decided to abort the attempt.

I'll be honest with you.  There was a very crass and pragmatic reason we made that decision.  And it was money.  We had prepurchased an IVF plan.  By paying in advance for all the services necessary for IVF, we got it at a slightly reduced rate.  It was about $13k + $6k for the drugs.  If we continued with that attempt, we would use up the single plan we had purchased with a very low chance of success.  If we stopped at that moment, we would owe about $2,000 in doctors visits and would need to replace about $4,500 in medications out of pocket and we could apply the prepurchased plan to our next full attempt.

If we continued and failed, we could not afford a second attempt.  If we stopped and tried again later, it would be expensive, but we could do it.  So that was our decision.

And we spent the following week half-heartedly attempting "natural insemination" knowing full well that it wouldn't work.

Ok, and here's the promised part about the husbands strong and silent type repercussions.

Men - there is being strong for your partner, and there is being absent.  During the months between our attempts, my husband was harboring a secret.  Apparently, when he gave me one of the injections, some of the medicine seeped back out of the needle wound.  He doesn't know how much, but to him it was a considerable amount.  It made him nervous, but he didn't tell me because he didn't want to upset me.

So when the attempt failed, in the back of his mind, he had this nagging guilt that maybe it was all his fault.  Maybe I had the hormone surge because some of the medicine that suppresses that surge didn't make it into my body.  For the record, that probably had nothing to do with it.  My hormones are just evil and refuse to cooperate.

This all came out into the open when we were having a talk about how I was feeling like I was going through everything alone.  He was being strong and supportive to the point of being separate from me.  During that talk, he got upset, told me about what happened and how he was afraid it was his fault.

Men, please don't do this!  Had he said something to me at the time, we could have called the doctor to see if it was an issue that some medicine seeped back out.  We could have been reassured on the spot that all was fine or gone in for an additional dose if all was not fine.  But because my husband was afraid of showing any fear or any doubt and didn't want to burden me with it, he ended up with this weight on his shoulders for months.

Yes, I was emotionally fragile.  But that doesn't mean that I couldn't be there for my husband if he had let me know he needed me.  Sometimes your partner might have a very simple solution to a problem that just hasn't occurred to you.  And sometimes the best thing you can do to support your partner is to be afraid with her so she knows the fear is natural and she's not overreacting.

For our next attempt, I think we communicated much better and felt very together during the process.

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