Monday, February 28, 2011

We have fertilization!

We got the call bright and early this morning letting us know that 5 fertilized! The immature egg fertilized abnormally, so they can't use that one, and the other 2 haven't yet, but they still might. Still, 5 is what we had last time, and while we had hoped we would have more, we're also really pleased with that number. We have everything crossed that all 5 continue to do well. It is more likely than not that we will be doing a 3 day transfer, which means we will get to go home on Wednesday night! I am so excited for the transfer and to get home to my own bed.

I'm feeling a lot better today, I only have mild discomfort and the spotting has nearly stopped which is good. Tomorrow we have our private yoga session at HIHF, and then I will likely have another acupuncture session.

I will of course update tomorrow with how our beautiful little embryos are doing. Grow little babies, grow!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lucky Number 7!

So today was egg retrieval. We arrived at 9:30, but because there were only 2 of us getting retrievals today, Dr. Greene was taking his time and so we started a bit late. He was awesome as always, and he listened to me when I told him I am a horrible patient to start IV's in the hand, so he put it in my arm which didn't hurt at all.

Once I was prepped and ready to go, I hugged and kissed Nate goodbye, and he went off to do his part. The drugs they gave me acted very quickly, and I was pretty much as high as a kite within seconds. The room was spinning, but I felt good. I could still feel the initial needle going in, but I didn't really care that I could feel it. Dr. Greene found one egg fairly quickly, and then it seemed to drag on forever before he found another. I don't remember how many he got from the right, but I know it wasn't a lot. Since I seemed to be tolerating the pain quite well, he decided to go for that elusive left ovary. It hurt like a sonofabitch, but I breathed through it. The nurse told me I was doing really well, and Dr. Greene said that if I wasn't so tough, he wouldn't even attempt that ovary as he really had to punch at it with the needle to reach it. I figured no pain no gain; I wanted us to have the best chance possible and I would have taken worse than that to get eggs. And, ironically, that little partial ovary that enjoys playing peek-a-boo had the best follicles out of all of them!

In the end, they managed to retrieve 8 eggs!!! I was so happy to hear it was more than 5, though I would have been okay with just 5 again as well. One of the best parts was being able to see the actual eggs on the big TV screen on the wall. They looked almost exactly like shown in the picture above.

Once I was wheeled into recovery, the embryologist said that 5 were fully mature, 2 were borderline but she thought they might catch, and 1 was immature. So hopefully 7 to work with! We had 100% fertilization rate last time, so I would be over the moon if that happens again for us.

I am in a lot more pain post-procedure than I was last time, and I'm pretty crampy and sore. Last retrieval I barely felt at all and was able to go out for dinner with friends that same night, but this time I've been in bed all day taking it easy with Tylenol and lots of napping.

We will get a call from the embryologist tomorrow morning to find out how many fertilized. I am already feeling protective of my little babies-to-be, and I hope they are doing well. Can't wait to hear tomorrow!


Well, it's 2 am the day of egg retrieval, and I am waiting for the Valium that the clinic gives each patient to take the night before to kick in. I know I need to get to sleep, but I feel like there are butterflies having a raging party in my stomach, and my ovaries have me feeling uncomfortable and bloated. I just did my relaxation mp3 for the day before retrieval, and even that failed to completely relax me.

Right now I'm probably about 70% excited, and about 30% scared. I feel strongly that tomorrow will go well, but there's also that nagging voice in the back of my head that is shouting all kinds of worst case scenarios at me. That voice is kind of an annoying bitch actually. She's telling me that it will hurt, even though the last retrieval didn't. That we will have less than 5 eggs... or worse, no eggs at all. That after they do retrieve eggs I will develop OHSS and they will cancel my transfer. Or that none of the retrieved eggs will fertilize. Stupid irrational scenarios that I have no control over. Like I said, that voice is a pain in the ass. So I have told her to shut up, and I am writing about all of this instead. It beats tossing and turning.

I've found this blog to be very therapeutic throughout the whole process. Even if no one ever reads it (which I know some family and friends are doing) it doesn't matter. This is strictly for me. During an IVF cycle, your body goes through some crazy hormonal changes (mood swings anyone?) and in your head you experience an insane amount of conflicting emotions. I strongly feel that you need to deal with all of that instead of internalizing it, and for me this time around I have found great amounts of comfort in writing about it.

Friday night I had a fantastic dinner out with some of my Calgary girlfriends (aka my own personal infertility support group, the BI Girls) at the Cactus Club, and I am so lucky to have the support and knowledge these women provide (that goes out to the entire group btw). Afterwards, I walked home and did the trigger shot, which I am happy to report did not sting at all this time.The injections sites kind of hurt afterwards though.

Today (okay technically yesterday) I had an acupuncture treatment with Gina at the Holistic Institue of Health & Fertility. Last time we were in Calgary, I did not have a great experience with acupuncture (a totally different clinic), so I was hesitant to try it again. However, after my wonderful experiences at HIHF, I just knew I had to try it there, and I am so glad I did. Gina was amazing. She is extremely gentle, she talks you through everything, and she even worked on me with tuning forks which I really love. You can feel the energy literally radiating throughout your entire body. Also, at one point during the session, I started to have a hormonal hot flash thanks to the fertility meds, and so she inserted needles into a couple of points on each of my feet. Almost instantly I had relief from the waves of heat. It was amazing! I've always believed in the positive effects of acupuncture, but it was incredible to get such an instant result.

I think getting that all out of my system has helped, so now I'm off to bed to try and think positive happy thoughts. We need to be at the clinic for 9:30 am. We will be there for a couple hours after the procedure but I will definitely update sometime later today.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stick a fork in me...

...because my follicles are done! Yahoo!!! We had our ultrasound at 9:45 today with Dr. O'Keane (he was the doctor that did my retrieval last time actually). In order to do the retrieval they want the three lead follicles to get to 18 mm or over, which mine definitely were, measuring 21 mm, 19 mm, and 18 mm on the right. My left had ones at 19 mm and 17 mm, though I'm not sure it matters as I don't think they will be able to get to that ovary. In fact, the doctor had a hard time finding it as it has now migrated to the top of my uterus. Awesome. I have a wantering ovary!

After the ultrasound, the nurse mixed my trigger shot of HCG which I will need to take as two injections (and I remember this one burning like a mofo last time) with instructions to take it at 11 pm. Also, my last sniff of Suprefact was at 3 pm today!!! I am so over that stuff, so I was pretty happy to shove that into a drawer I tell ya.

Tomorrow is our day off, so no clinic visits, though I do have acupuncture scheduled which I am looking forward to. If it's nice (I hear a rumour...), we might head to the zoo.

Sunday, we are to be at the clinic for 9:30 am, with our retrieval scheduled for 10 am. The doctor performing the procedure is Dr. Greene, who is my favourite and my actual doctor at the clinic.

Overall I am feeling incredibly positive. Dr. O'Keane said that this cycle was looking way better than last time, and he was very hopeful that they would be able to retrieve more eggs this round. Also, the nurse made a note in my file that I had a low number of eggs last time, which means Dr. Greene can use a different type of needle to flush out each follicle in case I have some "stubborn" eggs that are in there but don't want to come out. Fingers crossed for good quality eggs!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Almost there!

Today we had another ultrasound with Dr. Wong, and everything is looking good. My lining is nice and thick, and I've got about 9+ follicles measuring 18 mm, 16 mm, and 15 mm on the right. There are still 3 measuring 17 mm, 15 mm, and 14 mm on the left. Hopefully tomorrow I will be ready to trigger, and we have another ultrasound booked for 9:45 am. Afterwards, I'm going to be meeting up with Merisa for lunch, and later tomorrow night I'm going out for dinner with her and the rest of the Calgary girls.

After my ultrasound today I had another Reiki treatment/massage, which was awesome. I've been so relaxed today, and big surprise, I had to have another nap. Growing eggs is hard work, so I can't imagine what growing a baby or babies is like!

Anyways I am getting excited that the end is in sight. Only a few more days!

Still growing

We are off to another ultrasound in a bit (no bloodwork today so we got to sleep in a bit), but I forgot to update yesterday so I thought I would do so quickly right now.

Yesterday's u/s was with Dr. Mihn, who mentioned right away that my right ovary was very busy. 9+ on the right measuring 12 - 14 mm ish and one measuring 16 mm. There were 10+ smaller ones. On the left, 2 were 14 mm and one 16 mm.

Later yesterday, the clinic called to tell me to go back to 150 of Gonal F (no Luveris) as my E2 levels had plateaued a bit.

I was given my HCG trigger shot to carry around in my purse, and the nurse's guess was that retrieval would likely be on Sunday. Eeee!!! We were also given instructions to uh, get busy (sorry to my in-laws who might be reading this) for an optimum sample on retrieval day.

Hopefully today the follies are right where they should be. I have a massage at 10 after our appointment, which I am looking forward to. We're getting close!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Colour me relaxed

I had the BEST massage and Reiki treatment today! The Holistic Centre for Health & Fertility is a gorgeous new clinic that opened this January, and the staff are wonderful. My RMT was Laura, and she is a Reiki Master as well as trained in CranioSacral Therapy. She really focused on my reproductive area and I could actually feel the heat and energy radiating inside. She also focused on my scalp and neck muscles which was so soothing, and she told me it was a good balance for the work she did in my pelvic area.

The entire treatment was incredibly relaxing, and after an hour I felt like a big wet noodle. After my session, I worked with Ann, the clinic director and owner, to put together a treatment program for our remaining time in Calgary. This includes another massage/Reiki appointment, and then fertility acupuncture treatments before our retrieval with another before transfer and right after transfer. The clinic also offers yoga therapy, which is an hour long session that customizes a program to you and your partner. Ann recommended this for relaxation and focus during the two week wait, and since Nate and I enjoy doing yoga together anyways, we're going to do this as well. What makes all of this even better is that their treatments are very reasonably priced even without coverage (which we are fortunate to have cover some of the costs). A lot of other places I looked into were a lot more and were not necessarily fertility focused like this clinic. I highly recommend them! They focus on infertility and fertility issues, prenatal and pregnancy care (including prenatal massage and yoga), as well as postnatal issues including post partum depression and support for women experiencing menopause. I swear I am not being endorsed to write this or anything, I just really enjoyed my time there and I wish we had a clinic like this in Edmonton! You can also check out their Facebook Fan Page. Ann often posts relevant information about fertility and wellness.

Overall, I have to say that this IVF cycle my mind and body are much more connected. I feel very relaxed and stress free. Today's treatment helped of course, but a lot of credit also goes to the Circle + Bloom IVF program I've been listening to. I highly recommend it, I use it before bed every night and it gets me so relaxed I drift right off to sleep. They have other programs for women that I am sure would be just as good. If you use the coupon code FRIEND15, you can save 15% off your order. I'm not being endorsed for this either, I promise!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Go follies go!!

So today was my second day at the clinic, this time for both bloodwork and ultrasound. We arrived at 7:40 (the clinic opens at 8) only to find it was already open and there were about 5 women already in front of us! I didn't have to wait long for blood work or the ultrasound, and I had Dr. Wong again today who I love. He has a great bedside manner! He counted 14 on the right still, and they were all staying close to the same size, about 12 and 14 mm. I also had about 3 on the left side that were keeping up, which never happened last time (they stayed smaller). He told me I would likely be staying on the same 150 dosage of Gonal F, but then later today they called to let me know I would need to drop it to 112.5 of Gonal F and no Luveris (Yes!!! No more mixing stingy injections!). I didn't ask as the nurse seemed rushed, but I'm guessing my E2 (estrogen) levels were high again.

We go back on Wednesday morning for more bloodwork and an ultrasound. So far this cycle has been quite different from the last... I was on 150 of Gonal F and 75 of Luveris for most of my cycle (2 days on 178.5 after a slow start at 150). This time I'm on less on only day 7, and things are progressing faster. Dr. Wong thinks starting out at a higher dose from the get go might have started things faster, which is good. Don't want to overcook those eggs!

Tomorrow I have a 2:15 appointment at the Holistic Institute of Health & Fertility. I've booked a relaxation massage and Reiki treatment, and I'm going to discuss other IVF treatment-helping options as well. I'm really looking forward to it!

Today has been a lazy day, I have noticed I am easily tired the last couple of days so I had a major nap today. I will update more tomorrow after the massage & Reiki!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hello Calgary!

Well, our day started very early at 4:45 am this morning. We were on the road by about 5:45 after grabbing gas and coffee, and we made good time to Calgary. After a quick breakfast at McD's, Nate dropped me off for my ultrasound while he stayed in the truck with the pugs. I only had to wait like 5 minutes... it was dead at the clinic today, and I was early too!

Dr. Wong did my ultrasound, and right away he counted 14 good sized follicles (so much for my worry about having too few!!) measuring about 1 mm, and 7 on my partial left ovary which were a bit smaller. My uterine lining is also at a good thickness so far. According to Dr. Wong and the nurse, I am starting out of the gate a lot stronger this time, and since it's still very early in my cycle, 14 at this size is excellent. I am to continue on the lower dose of Gonal F (150 iu) and the same dose of Luveris (75 iu) and will have blood work and an ultrasound done on Monday morning.

After my appointment, we took the pugs to Petcetera so we could feed them their breakfast somewhere warm (-22 at the time!) and by then it was 11 am, and we were so tired we decided to go to the hotel and see if we could check in early. Luckily we were able to, and we even got the same room we had last time. This is really good as it is right by the back door, so easy access to take the pugs out.

After unloading everything, and man did we bring a lot of crap, we had a much needed 3 hour nap. Then we headed out to get a keyboard from the Apple Store in Chinook Center as I forgot mine at home (oops!). That was an adventure I tell ya! We had never been there before, and parking was INSANE. Worse than WEM! It is also Saturday, which I am sure didn't help. Of course, we had to stop at Bliss for a cupcake first (soooo good), and after getting the keyboard we grabbed some groceries and headed back to the hotel. We had planned on going to the Cactus Club for dinner as it is in the same parking lot as our hotel, but we're so pooped we decided to grab A&W (also in the same parking lot) instead. I have officially reached my fast food quota for the week, yuck.

So that's it so far! Below are pictures of our home away from home for the next couple of weeks. We brought our own mattress topper and bedding this time, as we found the bed rock hard last time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Good thing I am organized...

Because we are leaving for Calgary tomorrow am instead of Sunday afternoon! I went for my blood work (b/w) today to see how the drugs have been working, and my estrogen levels were on the high side so they want me in Calgary for an ultrasound at 9:45 tomorrow am. Eep!

I thought I had a whole day left to prepare, but at least I had started packing yesterday so it isn't too bad.

This morning's b/w was a bit of an adventure too. We got there early so we would be one of the first called, but there was no sign of my requisition, which was supposed to be faxed and waiting!

I left several semi-frantic messages for the clinic (no way to talk to someone directly), and after eating breakfast in the cafeteria with no call back, we decided to check the lab before heading home to wait. Sure enough, the requisition was there and thankfully it wasn't a busy day in the lab.

The injections have been going really well, no pain and no major side effects other than I am always thirsty. I need extra water anyways, so this isn't that bad all things considered. Also, Fruit Source bars = yummy, and they are excellent for preventing IVF induced constipation. TMI maybe, but if anyone else going through IVF stumbles across this blog, it's a good tip to know!

The only other strange side effect is that all of our cats seem to be in love with me. Like I literally can't go anywhere without them following me or sitting on me. I remember this happening last time when I was pregnant, but not before. Maybe it's the high estrogen levels! Gotta love hormones.

I will update tomorrow after the ultrasound and when we get settled in.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let the poking begin!

So after an agonizing wait, the IVF nurse called around 2:45 and asked if I had my ultrasound yesterday. WTF??? Of course I did (!), and the imaging lab even said they had it marked as STAT so the results would be faxed over yesterday. Apparently the lab has other ideas as to what STAT means. I gave the nurse the lab's number, and thankfully she tracked down my results.

She called me back to say everything looked good to start the shots, and they weren't concerned about my RFC (resting follicle count). I'm relieved we won't be delayed, but I'm still a bit nervous in the back of my mind about how many eggs and embryos we will get. As long as it's the same as last time or better, I am more than okay with that! I am just going to stay positive, and start my IVF relaxation mp3s tonight.

Because I had taken my Suprefact this morning (7 am and 11 am), I am to skip the 3 pm dose and take my last doe of the day at 9 pm. Then, tomorrow, I will be taking it at 7 am, 3 pm, and 11 pm until we finish with injections. I am just happy it's now 3 times a day instead of 5!

And I just took my first shots of Gonal F (187.5 iu) and Luveris (75 iu). The Gonal F is easy; it's a pre-loaded pen and a monkey could do it. The Luveris is a bit trickier, as it requires mixing and leaves more room for human error, but I took my time and it all started to come back to me. I'm sure I'll be a pro at shooting it up in no time. The best part: no ouchies! I didn't feel either needle and no burning, so yay!!

The last thing to be started is the antibiotics that both Nate and I have to take. We start those tonight, and now I can finally get on with the work I need to finish and start packing!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today I celebrated V-Day by having a date with the good old cooter cam (otherwise known as a pelvic ultrasound). This ultrasound was a baseline ultrasound to make sure everything in the ovary department is suppressed and to see how many resting follicles there are. Last time we had a baseline ultrasound it was through the Edmonton fertility clinic. This time, they just sent me to whichever imaging lab had a time available for this particular date.

The tech was super nice and she mentioned counting "at least five" follicles on the right and "definitely 2" on my partial ovary on the left. Now, I'm pretty sure last time the fertility doctor who performed the ultrasound never told me anything about how many follicles I had, as I don't have it written down in my journal, but I'm starting to panic a bit thinking this number is really low. Also, going against my own advice of avoiding the internet for medical matters didn't help alleviate my fears much.

Of course, I have to wait not so patiently for tomorrow for the clinic to call and give me the go ahead for starting stims and to fill me in on any issues with the ultrasound. I'm trying really, really hard not to think about it too much.

I guess I always assumed having PCOS I would have lots of follicles at this stage... but now I'm wondering if being on the full dose of Metformin for a few months (which I wasn't on last time) has improved the effects of PCOS and that this number is more accurate for the actual number of follicles that grow eggs. PCOSers normally have a lot of cysts on the ovaries as well as follicles, and these cysts don't contain eggs. Last IVF I had something like 20 follicles, but only 5 of them had eggs, and they didn't bother trying to retrieve any from the partial ovary. So given that, then this number would make sense.

The other scenario that would make sense is that being on the birth control pills ahead of time may have over suppressed me. If that's the case, we risk this cycle being cancelled and may have to wait another cycle before proceeding.

Anyways, the remainder of my Valentine's Day was much better, as my wonderful husband took me out for a romantic dinner at the Lighthouse Cafe. We had lobster bisque to start, and I had king crab, and he had chicken with lobster medallions. Dessert was a to-die-for passionfruit chocolate truffle torte for two in the shape of a heart (pictured above).

I will update more tomorrow. Hopefully everything is fine and I will be able to start poking myself in the stomach.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our IVF cycle has begun!

Yesterday my period arrived, which hopefully be the last one for 9-10 months. This marks the official beginning of our IVF cycle, and on Monday, Day 5, I will have my baseline ultrasound.

We still have a lot to do before going to Calgary. I have work to finish, a mountain of laundry to do, we need to clean out the truck, etc, etc. I'm also really going to miss Mom and all of the kitties. Good thing we are bringing the pugs or I would go crazy without having animals around for 2 weeks.

Only 9 days until we leave!

Monday, February 7, 2011

2 weeks until Calgary

Not too much to report, other than I'm getting excited that there's only 2 weeks until we go to Calgary!

I've been doing a bunch of reading on things to avoid during IVF, and a surprising one for me was the mention of how caffeine can effect egg and embryo quality, as well as implantation. Since I'm a big Coke Zero addict, I decided to cut that out completely now (was already trying to wean off of it) and switch to Sprite Zero. Well that may have not been the best idea to quit cold turkey, because I had 3 days of hard core caffeine withdrawal. On day 2, I was ready to grab Nate's coffee and inhale it, even though I hate coffee. And I basically slept all weekend, as I was soooo tired. I'm doing better now, though I'm still lacking energy.

The other big no-no, which I don't remember from last time, is Ibuprofen from the time I start injections onwards. I am pretty sure I continued taking it last IVF during the injections, especially when the headaches from my meds got really bad. This is concerning because it can interfere with embryo development, which is the problem we had last time. They implanted, but didn't continue to develop. So I've decided to just stop that completely, injections or not. I don't want to risk it!

Other than the side effects from caffeine withdrawal, I am also experiencing some side effects from Suprefact. I don't know if I did last time or not, as I didn't write them down, but this time I'll be emotional and/or moody... and then an hour later I feel great. It's kind of weird. Also the hot flashes. I am no stranger to hot flashes, as I take Celexa and can get them from that, but these are wayyyy worse. We have to keep the overhead fan on at night or I am dying from being so hot and sweaty and the sheets are soaked. Luckily Nate doesn't mind the fan and just burrows beneath the covers. Also, dry weather + nose spray 5 times a day = nosebleeds. Not fun.