Tuesday, April 19, 2016

IVF Stims Recap

It's OVER y'all...the stimming part of this IVF cycle is done!  So let's recap how things went!  For those of you who are just joining in you can catch up with the journey so far in THIS blog post I call Meet the Buns (that's us).  And I've created this part of the journey in pictures.  If you're following on Instagram, these are probably familiar!

We started with birth control for about 21 days and then on April 11 we started Ovarian Stimulation (referred to as "stims" or "stimming").

Our first day of stims was pretty easy, I started a z-pack to avoid any infections and Letrozole which is a pill used to get the ovaries growing eggs.  I also had an appointment at Fertility CARE on Stims Day 1 to do blood work and an ultrasound to make sure everything was ready to go.

I met my old friend "wanda" who I call the BFF for the TTC'er and also had a "trial transfer" which is really code for measuring your uterus to find a good place for implantation when it comes time for the transfer.

 Some RE's don't do this step and others do this step at different times in the cycle.  My doctor did it at this point because it was the best time to accurately measure before my hormones went into overdrive and all my lady bits were growing follies!  He got a good measurement the old fashioned way, with a measuring tape!  The measurement took place on the OUTSIDE of my body along my tummy y'all...that was not an inside job!  HA!

 I had 11 little follicles growing on the right and 8 little follies growing on the left.  Now, a growing follies does not equal an egg, but to see on screen those little babies getting cozy in there was a welcome relief!  My hormone levels were great and they were ready to start me on the next part of the stim cycle, which is SHOTS!

Once I got the go ahead to add the Follistim shot to our stimming routine, it was Daddy Bun's turn to help.  He was responsible for administering all shots.  I find it much easier to just look away as he gives me a shot as opposed to giving them myself.  I could do the shots, but I am a big fan of this being a team effort.

Follistim is a FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) used to grow a lot of follies in one cycle.  This is a Follistim Pen.   It stores a vial of the medication and you "dial" the dosage you need for the shot.  A new micro-needle is used each time you administer the shot.  This is an EASY shot to receive.  The needle is so small you barely feel it.  I had little to no side effects from the Follistim so I call this "the easy shot".    

I don't want to bore you with repeat daily doses of the same medication, so Days 2, 3, and 4 were the same.  We took 300u of Follistim, 5mg of Letrozole, the Z-pack and (I forgot to mention) a daily dose of baby aspirin.  I took pictures each day of our journey because some day I'd like to share with Little Bun the amazing journey we took to make him/her and the love we shared while we were on the road.  Here are our memory shots from those days!

On Day 5 I went back to Fertility CARE and met with Christina who took another round of blood and Amy, who did a follicle check on the ultrasound (hey Wanda, nice to see you again!)

CD5 Update had some great news!  Amy was thrilled at the protocol and was confident that it was working well.  I now showed about 15 total follicles, split up pretty evenly between my two ovaries.

For those of you who don't know, warm socks are a great support when you're covered in a paper sheet in a 60° ultrasound room!  I got some amazing socks from my friend Jess with cute lambs on them.  I keep them in my bag for days just like this!

Since she was so thrilled with the growth, we added the second shot, called Ganirelix to the stimming mix.  THis shot is to prevent premature ovulation before the egg retrieval.  Ganirelix is pre-mixed and measured but it is a little more of a pain than the Follistim.   For starters, it comes with a GIANT warning on the box that says, MAY CAUSE HEADACHES!  Oh yuck, I am prone to those and I was not looking forward to a headache!  But I like to go by the old adage No Pain, No Gain.

Day 5 was the last day of the Letrozole and the Z-Pack, so I didn't have to take any more pills.  I was just down to Ganirelix in the morning and Follistim in the evening.  Day 5 is when the hormones really kicked in.  I was moody, I was teary eyed, I was angry.  The headaches came on more frequently.  I started bloating and felt "unpretty".  My cell phone died.  You'd think getting a new cell phone would be cause for celebration but alas, I only found fault with the new phone.  In fact, I found fault with the waitress at dinner, the people who surrounded us at dinner, and even scared my hubby a little with my mood swings.  He knew they would be coming, but he had no idea it would be such a roller coaster so quickly!  I started to feel like a pin cushion.  I was getting shots and not the ones from the LMFAO song.  

Stims Day 8 I was back to Fertility CARE....this was the third time in a week I made the 3 hour round trip alone.  I was in tears the entire way to the doctor.  Even Justin Bieber made me cry..."My mamma don't like you and she likes everyone" I sniffled the lyrics to Love Yourself on the 417 Expressway.  SERIOUSLY?  I knew the hormones had officially taken over!

 I arrived at Fertility CARE and cleaned up my teary mess from the ride over.  I was excited to see my follicle growth over the last few days, it's amazing what science is able to do y'all!

I had 10 follicles that are likely to product mature eggs and 5 follicles slowly behind.  While it's possible they will catch up in the next day or so, it's just not a guarantee.

And here's the thing about egg retrievals, it's really up in the air.  A mature follicle does not always produce an egg.  A mature egg retrieved will not always fertilize.  A fertilized egg will not always make it to day 5 blastocyst.  A day 5 blast will not always make it to freeze.  There are so many variables it is overwhelming when you consider them all.

But we cannot spend our time focusing on the what if's and what could go wrong.  We must stay focused and positive on this journey.  I refuse to accept anything less than a positive attitude.

With this exiting growth Amy was ready for us to trigger.  We used Pregnyl and it's a medication you must mix.  It was our first intramuscular shot and both Daddy Bun and I were nervous about it.  So we went to a PRO.  My friend Brandi is a nurse and giving shots is part of her everyday routine.  She was happy to assist on this part of the journey!  We were so happy to have her help us out!

This was so scary in mind but WOW she was so fast!  I was shocked at how quickly and painless the trigger shot was.  Here we are doing the shot!  Whew!  After that, I told Brandi I wanted her to do all my PIO shots because that was just too easy!  Is there an Infertility "that was Easy" button because I definitely would have pushed it after that shot!

TOMORROW is Egg Retrieval Day!  This is the big moment, the egg hunt will be on!  We arrive at Fertility CARE at 6:00am...which means we must leave the house at 4:30am to get there on time.  I don't even know how I'll be able to function at 4:30am.  I also don't know if I'll sleep a wink with this on my mind!

We've come a long way since 2007 when we thought a simple vasectomy reversal would give us a pregnancy.  We've endured three failed IUI's.  I've been a human pin cushion.  I've logged 15 hours on the road in the span of 10 days.  But this is NOTHING compared to the joy of becoming a mother.  I'd endure all of this ten times over if I needed to!

Come on eggies, let's create our Little Bun!