Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our Frozen Embryo Transfer

Y'all...this is it!  We made it!  May 25 we had our embryo transfer and we are excited to share our very first family photo!  Now be honest, does it look more like me or Bob?  It's hard to tell isn't it...probably the blue hair net throwing it off.  I knew those hair nets were going to get in the way but we were just too excited to care about the little details like Bob's crazy paper suit...imagine the damage I'd do to a paper suit y'all, I can't even get through an ultrasound without tearing the paper sheet of shame!

We arrived at Fertility Care and I was quickly reminded that I was required to have a full bladder for the procedure.

I wore my TTC TRIBE shirt from Funny Girls of Fertility.  This was my favorite shirt of all as I refer to the girls of Instagram as my TTC Tribe.  I highly recommend these shirts for several reasons...first, they raise awareness to the struggle to conceive.  Second, they're adorbs.  And last but not least, they're the softest shirts in the history of Everdom.

Also featured are my Lucky Transfer Socks from TTC Greeting Cards which is the best place to get socks and CARDS for someone struggling with infertility, for your spouse or even for your doctor treating you!

These two shops have been STAPLES on my journey and I highly recommend picking up a tee or two and some socks for your big day too!

So how did the transfer go?  I wish I could remember!!  They gave me a Valium to "relax my uterus" but it's not a drug that focuses on one area of your body, so most of the procedure was sort of a hazy blur.  I didn't really like that because I feel like I missed an important part of the journey, but I did want everything to go perfectly so it was up, up and away on the Valium.

  Here we are just after the transfer completed and I'm giving a thumbs up, but I don't know who was driving my thumbs and that is ME taking the photo...but do I remember that?  NOPE!  Daddy Bun was very excited because he was able to witness the whole thing and I just laid there with my legs in the air feeling all wonky and wondering what was happening.

Dr. Mark said it went perfectly and that is what you want to here after a transfer.  So somehow I walked out of the transfer room, took off my ugly hospital gown, put back on my pants and got into the truck which was parked at the other building...all without recalling any of the details.

Here's another great shot post transfer that I don't recall taking...on top of that, I don't remember eating those fries or the Filet-o-Fish sandwich in the bag...YES I eat the fish sandwich from McDonald's and its the greatest fish sandwich ever!!  Don't try to argue that, I've verified it as factual evidence since it's on the internet.

Back to these fries...what is the story with fries after a transfer?  Well, here's the scoop.  Usually with a fresh transfer, you want to increase your sodium intake to prevent OHSS.  Hence the salty fries recommendation for fresh transfers everywhere.  Is it part of a frozen protocol, no.  In fact I cannot find any evidence that it helps at all...but I was hungry and these were the prize for a good transfer!

I ate the entire meal and passed out and (according to my hubby) snored the entire way home.  I then trudged into my bedroom and fell right back asleep!  My doctor said I could return to work but I slept it off until hubby returned home to check on me.  


Post-tranfer I returned to work the next day.  Dr. Mark says the best way to promote healthy blood flow to your womb is to move around as you normally would.  No jarring activities or hard core exercising...this is another time you don't want to be out throwing cars or moving furniture.  But I'm in finance so my job is primarily at a desk and that was OK for post-transfer.

Each day for the first five days after transfer I followed the Old Wive's Tales of Fertility:

1) Pomegranate Juice which is said to help thicken the uterine lining and give the embryo a place to snuggle in and stick.

2) Pineapple core (yes the CORE but you can eat the whole thing YAY) has bromelain which is said to assist in implantation of the embryo.  I take the core and cut it into five pieces and munch on a piece per day for five days.

3) Warm feet.  This dates back to Chinese medicine that warm feet make a warm womb. I run around in socks and slippers, even on the days when it's 90° outside (which, in Florida, is pretty much every day).

Here's my thought on these, none of these harm you.  Are they PROVEN?  No, but it never hurts to try and it's a small price to pay when the end result is a healthy baby.

I am currently 6 days past transfer and refusing to test.  A lot of people wonder why I'm not testing and I have a few reasons but the biggest one is that as long as I don't have a negative test, I'm still considered Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise, or PUPO.  This is as close as Daddy Bun and I have EVER been to a positive pregnancy.  We put a bun in my oven and I just want to enjoy the moments before our beta on June 6.  SIX DAYS until BETA.  Until then, may this bun continue to bake in my oven!

Progesterone Shots and Estrogen Patches...Oh My!

What a Blog Slacker I've been in May!  To be honest, May was a lot of waiting and patches and shots in the bum while preparing for our frozen transfer on May 25!  So let's recap on the exciting PIO shots and estrogen patches that filled my days in May.

My first May appointment was an ultrasound to make sure all my lady bits were "calmed down" from the egg retrieval.  Dr. Mark is very big on doing frozen transfers (FET) because he firmly believes that your lady bits need to chill after a retrieval.  We pump, pump, pump our ovaries with injections and force multiple follicles and multiple eggs and this takes a toll on our body.  Now, I'm not dissing the fresh transfer, I'm just going with the option my RE described as the best protocol for me.  If you're going fresh, do not despair!  I just don't have any experience with a fresh transfer over a frozen one.  We paid him over $25k to make a baby in the lab so I'm going on his recommendations.

First day I get to check my ovaries and I forgot the cardinal rule of fertility clinics...DO NOT PEE BEFORE YOU ASK IF THEY NEED A SAMPLE.  Guess what I did...I forgot to ask!  And they needed a sample!

Here I am...lonely in the ultrasound room, waiting to have to "go" only 15 minutes after I already went!

Y'all....I am not new to this...this ain't my first rodeo!  I read the signs posted in the bathroom every trip to the clinic...MAKE SURE YOU ASK IF WE NEED A SAMPLE BEFORE USING THE BATHROOM...

I walked on by...ignored the signs...and was left with an empty specimen cup and the orders to fill it up before I left the clinic.  As I waited I posted to my Instagram-Fam about my faux pas and sure enough I was not alone in the "walking by the posted sign and missing the sample" department.  Doesn't it make you feel better when you know you're not the only one screwing up at the fertility clinic??

I completed my task and was released to make the 1.5 hour trek back home with new instructions...ESTROGEN PATCHES!  I thought oooh this will be fun!  Patches seem easy right?  Just slap it on and go.  No mess, no painful injection, just a patch or two, or four.  Every other day I change the patch.  Now, I'm thinking this is going to be an easy task.  Start with one, then move to two, then up to four.  Just call me Patches.

Let me tell you guys about these patches.  Easy to apply, SURE...but for me that is where the "easy" part ended.  Am I complaining?  No, but I am sharing my experiences...good, bad and indifferent.  I will always remember that 1) I asked for this and 2) I paid for it.  So let's get to the nitty gritty on these patches.  After starting them, I realized they are itchy little buggers.  I would often find myself scratching and thinking WHAT IN THE WORLD IS SO ITCHY...oh it's my patches.  In addition to the itchiness and redness around the area, it seemed to attract every piece of hair, fabric, or lint around...a square around the patch of linty darkness would give the appearance that I was a a dirty girl!  I swear I was clean...it's just my clothes happened to have a lot more lint than I ever imagined!

Of the side effects lists, I felt victim to many of them...especially itchiness, fluid retention and weight gain...oh and the breast tenderness too.  I lucked out and didn't get congested or a sore throat but I did have a symptom from these patches that I didn't see mentioned and that was being TIRED!  Oh my heck these things made me sleepy.  I didn't notice until I was up to four patches.  But day one of new patch application, I would find myself trying not to crawl under my desk at work and sneaking a nap.  I also found myself spaced out which was not a listed side effect but I can honestly say that there were many times my hubby happened upon me and I was zoned out completely and the only medication I was on was these patches.

But lets' be real, in comparison to estrogen suppositories (you know where those go!) the patches were a BREEZE.  I would wear them all day, linty and all, space cadet Maul, Lady Patches, you call it I'll happily answer....whatever it takes to have a healthy baby.  Oh, did I mention these little patches are $10 each?  Yes!  I was rocking $40 in patches two days at a time!  So far we've spent over $800 in PATCHES!

So, let's get to the "hard part" of fertility medications.  That, my friends, is PIO shots.  These are progesterone in sesame oil.  This stuff is drawn out with a SUPER wide 18 gauge needle because the medicine is so thick!  Then you inject with a wide 22 gauge 1.5" needle.  These shots are intimidating y'all...I am not going to lie!  Just look at the size of that needle!  And where does it go?

The upper quadrant??  Where is that?  Well, its ya bum!

That's right, a HUGE shot, right in your bum!  There are ladies who do these shots by themselves!  BY THEMSELVES!!  Me on the other hand, Patchy McPatches over here...I have yet to be able to properly give myself a single shot on this journey without 1) sticking myself twice or 2) wasting medication.  Not trooper status...not rocking very hard.

The first day I marched over to Brandi's (my favorite nurse and one of my best friends) so she could administer the PIO shot.  Brandi says you just inject it like a dart.  Oh that is a comforting..she is going to dart me in the butt with a huge needle!  She starts to draw out the progesterone and it takes...in the words of the Sandlot...FORRRREEEEVVVVVEEERRRR!  This stuff is THICK!

So I had the camera ready...because let's be honest, I want to document the journey so someday we can show our child what we did to create them, especially on a day when they're being unappreciative of all that their parents do for them...and this pretty much captured all the feels from the shot.

First, I'm excited, I'm actually doing this.  This is happening.  Then I go through a little shock that she literally DARTED me with the needle.  Even though she said she would warn me with the old 1, 2, 3...she DID NOT!  Then a mouth drop at the length of time it took to administer the shot.  And finally, the burning pain toward the end!

Now let's go over a few NEED TO KNOW things about PIO shots.  These are things I KNEW to do.  Did I do them?  Little rebel...no I didn't!  First, heat the area with a heating pad....why not ice?  Because this is oil and it moves faster in a heated environment.  Second, massage the area after the shot because this helps disperse the medication.  Third, and last but not least, apply heat after to help with the pain.    

Do these things and the shot will be easier.  You WANT the shot to be easier...because guess what...you're going to get a shot every night, in your bum, for up to 12 weeks.  That is 84 shots people!!  Believe me, you want to make this as easy as possible.

There is not a shot I've received that is more irritating than this shot.  I don't like being darted in the bum.  I don't like how long it takes to inject the thick oily medicine...but you know what I like?  BABIES.  So if I have to do this 84 times, I will gladly stand there while someone darts me in the bum with a 1.5" 22ga needle.

Speaking of someone darting me with a needle, let's check out Daddy Bun on his first night stepping up to the needle and giving me a PIO shot.  Can we take a moment to marvel at the excitement on his face?  Has anyone ever looked more excited to administer pain to their spouse?  I think he enjoyed that shot...even though he may say otherwise.


But I have to thank him for doing what I cannot do...because I will always find someone to give me this shot, I simply cannot do it myself.  The brave Hunny Bunny falls short on this one!

Next time, I'll be sharing the embryo transfer procedure and how exciting it was to take the first family photo with our embryo!!   Thanks for reading and keeping up with our journey to Baby Bun!

Monday, May 9, 2016

What I Wish They'd Told Me About Egg Retrieval

Y'all, I am not going to lie, I thought recovering from my egg retrieval was going to be easy.  I planned to be at work the next day.  In my mind I was going to rock it.  I woke up from retrieval feeling like a million bucks plus we collected 14 eggs so that was exciting for me!  I thought to myself, going to work is going to be so easy, I GOT THIS!

Boy was I wrong!  It's been a few WEEKS since the retrieval and I can finally wear jeans again.  Yes, y'all....for me, this experience was difficult!  What was so difficult?  And what can you do to avoid this?  Some of these might be no-brainers, but I think preparation is key for any endeavor so I'd rather share too much than not enough!

When I woke up the day after transfer, I was not ready to tackle anything except my cell phone to cancel on going into work because I felt like a stuffed sausage!  

By this day we had 13 of the eggs fertilize with ICSI.  I sucked it up and went to work, but it was painful to walk and painful to sit down.  My ovaries were swollen and I was bloated.  My mind was a little wonky.  I made it about half way through the work day before I decided work was not going to be an option the day after transfer.  I went home, took a pain pill and went to sleep.  Y'all, just take the day off!  Can you push through the day if you have to?  Sure, but if you have the option, take the day and rest up.  There is still drugs in your body from the procedure, you are bloated and uncomfortable and pants?  Don't even try to wear them.  Just an utter waste of trying to get them to button, even with an waist expanding button or the old hair tie trick...nope, none of my efforts to fit pants worked.

What other tips can I give you?
  1. You will be bloated; it will not be pretty and in fact, I looked pregnant...what a cruel trick!  Drink lots of fluids and electrolytes to help move all that extra fluid built up in your ovaries out of your body.  You can drink coconut water, green tea, and even Pedialyte.  You can drink Gatorade too...whatever you drink, drink copious amounts!!  You should always be drinking something.  Bear in mind, this is a key to avoiding Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) as well.  So read it, write it down, take a picture....just remember to DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS!

  2. Going to the bathroom is a real pain.  No doubt its because they used your lady bits as a collection tray, but also because drugs make you constipated.  There, I put it out there y'all, I've broken the barrier, we are discussing this right now!  Take a laxative.  Eat prunes.  Drink prune juice.  Do whatever the remedy is for that sort of thing and start it THE DAY OF YOUR TRIGGER SHOT and do it for a full week after the transfer.  Yes, it took a full week and I was not prepared for it...so you should heed my advice and eat your fiber!  You will thank me for that advice!

  3. A heating pad will be your best friend post-ER.  Holy amazing sauce I stayed really close to an outlet for a few days.  This really helped relieve the achiness I was feeling so I suggest you post up close to an outlet and get to know your friend the heating pad!

  4. Don't over-exert yourself!  Your ovaries are swollen, guess what, you can get ovarian torsion...what?  That means your ovaries can get twisted!  We don't want any of that, so while it is OK to walk, don't run a marathon or lift any cars for two weeks just to be safe!  Speaking of walking...start small.  Don't get all froggy and try to go shopping at an Outlet Mall...do the local strip mall first.  Be careful with your body!  

  5. Reduce your sugars and carbs.  These yummy goodies actually increase your risk for OHSS so be sure you consider that before you eat a loaf of bread or an entire cheesecake.  Your leggings will thank you.  

  6. Speaking of leggings, wear comfortable clothes.  Don't worry about being on point with your style, just be thankful to find something that actually fits.  You know what fit me?  Leggings, yoga pants and maternity pants.  Yes, I bought maternity pants for post-retrieval.  And they are the greatest pants EVER.  I think we should ALLLLLL wear them all the time.  My friends made fun of me for wearing them, but secretly I bet they wanted those maternity pants too.      

  7. Oh and don't even think about practicing to make a baby the old fashioned way.  Again, this ties back to ovarian torsion and twisting up your lady bits as well as avoiding infection!  Don't get those pretty little eggs out only to fight an infection because you thought it was safe to practice!  Would you believe they FORGOT to tell me this information and I had to call to ask! "Yes hello, I was just calling to make sure it was OK to have sex with my husband...why are you laughing?"

I think the really important thing to remember is that you've just given your ovaries a triathlon run with no training...so embrace even the struggles because you worked hard for this part!

I survived my retrieval and while it was uncomfortable, it was not painful!  I was not a risk for OHSS and I did not exhibit any symptoms of OHSS so either A) I did it right or B) there never was a risk for me.  I hope these tips lead to a successful post-retrieval for you!  Do you had advice for post-retrieval?  Add it to the comments below!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It's FET Month...Egg Retrieval Recap

Today marks CD3 of the FET cycle and on MAY 21 WE WILL BE TRANSFERRING ONE OF OUR EMBRYOS!!  Talk about excited y'all...I could pee my pants but I only have this pair and that would be awkward...so instead I'll share this meme showing exactly how excited I am for May 21!

This protocol started with three weeks of birth control, then a hormone stimulation cycle, followed by the egg retrieval. We did not do a fresh transfer, instead we opted to freeze all embryos that made it to day five and hold off a cycle to do a frozen transfer.  Dr. Mark believes that a frozen transfer gives my body time to return to normal after the hormone stimulation and gives us a better chance for that embryo to stick!  Let's pray that protocol works for us!

Now, let's talk about that Egg Retrieval! 

The night before egg retrieval I vowed to go to sleep early so I would be rested before we made the trek 1.5 hours away.  I already knew that stimming had gone well and there were at least 15 mature follicles but I couldn't shake the fear that I would wake up to someone telling me they collected no eggs.  I probably slept about two hours, I was just too wired for what was about to happen and even my prayers for peace buzzed in my ears.  I was thirsty, probably because I was cut off from food and drink at 10pm the night before, which felt like a lifetime ago.  I wanted water so bad but they said NOT EVEN A SIP!  I held fast to my promise not to quench my thirst though there were a few times that morning I eyed the dog's water bowl in envy.

Getting ready was easy, as you're not allowed to wear makeup to the egg retrieval and I would be wearing a fancy hair net so there was no sense in brushing my hair.  For a makeup junkie like me, it was a little weird to be out and about without my trusty mascara or brows on point.  We hit the road at 4:30 to make sure we were there on time...besides I was already wide awake in anticipation.

We arrived at the lab and I was gifted a sip of water and two Tylenol.  I thought I would pass out from the sheer joy of tasting that little swiggle of water!  I then changed into what I call the retrieval rags.  Y'all, this is not pretty.  Blue hair net, drab hospital gown, and blue net footies, no you can't tie the back, you gotta leave your booty in the breeze!

"I'm SO FANCY...You already know!"  Yea, no.  It wasn't so fancy and I will be sure that when I give birth I provide my own hospital gown y'all OKAYYYY!  

They gave me my IV, ouch, and taped it on my arm with what can only be described as surgical duct tape.  I wondered how it would come off later and how much of my skin would be going with it when the time came.  She said it would feel like a band-aid but I don't think I've ever felt a band-aid with such power behind it.  I'm pretty sure she also waxed my arm when she removed it, there won't be any hair there for a lifetime.  

While we waited for Dr. Mark and the Anesthesiologist to arrive, Hubby was sent to provide a sample and I waited awkwardly making small talk with the nurse who had strapped me to a heart monitor.  She asked if I worked out and I almost laughed so hard the monitor came off.  Apparently I have a runners heart rate.  I told her I broke my foot checking the mail and that was still the extent of my "exercise" so I must have just lucked out with the heart rate.

I met the anesthesiologist, Dr. Cole, who looked about 12 years old...that is really going to work for her later in life!  I was like, is this for real?  Is this child going to give me anesthesia?  How OLD do I feel right now?  Just before we shipped me off for retrieval, Dr. Mark swooped in to check out my attire for the day and make sure my hair didn't look better than his.  It did, my hair always looks better...even in the hair net.  I can rock a hair net y'all!

Speaking of rocking, how awesome are these socks from Woven Pear?  They say Ahoy Matey on the bottom!!  Too bad I was delirious and wore them backwards, so they said Matey Ahoy!

These socks came in my FertileBox Journey collection, and I have to say you MUST GET TO Woven Pear for some fancy socks that are thick and comfy.  They even have a SOCK BOX subscription where you get three pairs of socks a month delivered.  Y'all...they really ARE so fancy!!  I already know!

If you don't know how I feel about FertileBox, check out THIS POST to get an idea of the amazing goodness!  FertileBox is just a wonderful company that ships to you a TTC Care package brimming with love and baby dust!  Get over there and see what collection she has in stock!  They sell out fast!

So, socks on, hair netted, booty in the breeze, I made my way into the egg retrieval procedure room where the temperature was a cool 40° or at least it felt like it with my attire!  They got me a blanket, a real blanket, not the old paper sheet of shame!  Dr. Cole said this will feel cool...as she was sedating me, Dr. Mark said I was lucky I was going to be asleep for this...and I faded out right then.  The next time I opened my eyes, my hubby was sitting next to me and I was asking the one question we all ask post-egg retrieval.  HOW MANY DID WE GET?!

And we got 14 eggs!  I was overjoyed!  Out of 15 follicles they retrieved 14 eggs!  I was so relieved!  Too bad that was only step one.  You see, when it comes to collecting and fertilizing eggs, there are many steps and each step runs the risk of losing one or more of the eggs.

First, you have to grow the follicles and I grew 15 follicles. 
Next they retrieve the eggs, and I got 14 eggs out of 15 follicles.  
Then they have to fertilize the eggs, of the 14 remaining eggs, 13 of them fertilized.
Next, they have to divide and grow, we lost two that stopped dividing, so we were down to 11.  
The now fertilized embryos must continue to divide until day 5 when they are able to freeze. 
On day 5 we had 4 embryos frozen. 
On day 6 we had 2 more embryos frozen. 

So out of 14 eggs, we had 6 of them make it to freeze.  

Wouldn't it be nice if that were all?  

It's not, the next step is the thaw for the FET...and yes, another chance to lose an embryo.

This is a journey y'all and much like Oregon Trail, there is a chance at every corner to lose an embryo.  But I won't focus on the losses along the way or dwell on what could have been or what might have happened, I must continue moving forward and be thankful that 6 embryos made it to freeze.  And I am SO THANKFUL for that!  

In my next post I will be discussing the week post egg retrieval and the things they don't tell you!  I think it will definitely be a good read for an upcoming egg retrieval, sort of a "what you really need to know" post!  Thanks for reading and following our journey to Little Bun!  

My hubby, gotta love him, took a few snaps with me after I woke up the first time...I don't remember any of these photos....thanks babe...