Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Infertility, Part 2

OK, so it's been a little bit since part 1, so now it's time for part 2.  Why would I think of this right after Christmas you ask?  Well, because I have a lot to be thankful for, and it has been a long road to get where I am.  Even though it is a sad and difficult story for me to remember, I am very, very happy now.

So, we agreed to give IVF a try.  We had some money saved up, and along with our flexsave we had enough to get it going.  It was late 2007 at this time.  So, we called the RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and said 'let's go.' 

The meds were ordered.  Thank God for insurance.  Over $2000.00 worth of meds, and they only cost us about $60.00 or so.

We had to wait for my next period.  My cycles had been irregular after coming off of birth control, and at one point my Ob/Gyn had to give me meds to make my period come.  But after that they got a bit more regular, although they typically ran between 5 and 7 weeks long.  Now and again shorter, now and again longer cycles. 

So we waited for what seemed like forever.  My period came and with it much excitement, and the inner stirrings of doubt.  Here we were, playing God.  Was it right?  It was what we wanted.  So we talked about it, and agreed that while we were playing God to some degree, God would not have made IVF possible if he didn't want people to be able to take that route.  On top of that, we agreed that if He didn't want it to work, he wouldn't let it.  That was a hard pill to swallow.  It might have been a way for us to feel better about what we were doing.  But I didn't worry about that then, nor do I now.

So, the period ends, and I start on Birth Control.  I only have to take it for a week before our first shots start.  This is the Lupron.  It causes my body to not ovulate.  It puts you into Menopause basically.  So with these shots come lots and lots of unexpected side effects.  I'm not normally one to struggle with a lot of side effects from medications, but this time is different.  I grow tired and irritable, irrational and moody.  I get paranoid.  I have hot flashes.  I crave fruit like it's going out of style.

At this point no one knows what is going on.  Just my very closest friend, C.  That's it.  We decide it's time to tell the parents.  We do, and while they are excited to know that we want to give them a grandchild, they have NO IDEA how to handle it.  Neither of them had any problems getting pregnant, and it would come to be that they would have the expectation that it would be easy for us too.  Except his Mom.  She kinda expected it, as she knew and understood what the doctors had told them when Kev was young and dealing with his surgeries.  She more or less said that she had been expecting the call, expecting us to tell her it was going to be a tough journey.  No one knew or understood just how tough it would be.

Kevin gives me the shots because I'm too afraid to do it.  The Lupron is pretty painless, except for the first couple of injections as we learned how to do it right.  He gives them to me in my stomach, and it is all good.  I take care of picking and cleaning the spot, while he cleans the top of the medicine and fills the needle.  I pinch my skin together a couple of times and he sticks me and injects the meds.  It becomes no big deal really, and we get to the point where we can even joke about it.  We choose to do it late in the evening, right before bed.  So around 9:30 or so.  I find it more and more difficult to keep my eyes open that late.  I find myself falling asleep on the couch, and Kev has to wake me up to give me the shots.

They tell us that we can ovulate multiple eggs every month, but most times only one, or maybe none, are mature.  By keeping my body from ovulating them out, it allows us to make multiple eggs mature.

A couple of weeks go by of this.  Now they tell us to add in the second injection.  This one is the food, otherwise known as Repronex.  This, they tell me, may become uncomfortable as my ovaries fill up, possibly to the size of melons.  We feel like old pro's with the injections by now, and think no big deal, this'll be easy too!

This was a horribly incorrect assumption.  The side effects I was already having are now intensified.  I think my boss is out to get me (turns out that while this was not true, there were other issues there).  People can see my hot flashes.  I am more and more tired, more and more moody.  All I want to do is sleep and eat fruit.  Cherries specifically, fresh only.  I can't tell you how many times I sent Kev to the store for them.  I started gaining weight, and not just because my ovaries were full.  I gained it all in my tummy.  I LOOKED pregnant.  There were rumors at work that I was.  That was very difficult.  I was barely making it awake to eat dinner.  To top it off, I was having horrible reactions to the injections.  These ones were a bit more painful to begin with as you could feel the medicine burning as it went in.  But, I also got these huge red sore welts at the injection site that would last for 5 or so days.  So, now we had to do two injections a day and constantly find new spots.  My stomach, my arms, my thighs.  I started the look any IVF'er knows, where we become human pin cushions.

So I take these meds for a few days and go in for some blood work and a trans vaginal ultrasound.  They say my hormone levels are a little high, and I have lots of follies (follicles - where the eggs are housed).  So, they drop down the amount of Repronex they have me on, hoping to slow the progress.  Here is where they start talking more about hyperstimulation.

They'd mentioned it during our consultation.  It's where your hormone levels gets SO high that it can be dangerous.  Putting it simply, if they get too high and they give you the trigger shot (which is HCG - the pregnancy hormone), the HCG pregnancy hormone triggers something that can turn lots of walls in your body permeable.  The heart sac, the bladder, etc.  As you can imagine, this is NOT good.  It can be very dangerous, and potentially fatal if it is bad enough.

So I start the lower dose of meds and a few days later they check again, lab and ultrasound.  My numbers are huge, both hormone level and follies.  They tell us now that they may have to cancel the cycle.  The RE is surprised, he advised that I am on a very low dose of the meds that is typically not enough for most people.

So they give it another couple of days, only 2 days before what should have been the egg removal (ER).  They do more lab work and another ultrasound.  I'm crazy high with my estrogen at 5500.  They are looking at around 60+, they were guessing 20 or more would be mature by the time any of them were mature enough to retrieve.  I can't hardly move I'm so uncomfortable.  Swollen, my ovaries really were the size of melons.  It hurts to sit, to stand, to pee and not to pee.  Everything is painful.  Not to mention the shots, the side effects.  I'm a mess to begin with.  At the appointment the doc says it's too dangerous.  If we move forward you'll be in the hospital.  We can't do it. 

We have to cancel and try again with adjustments to the meds.  But, to top it off, we cannot chance you ovulating out these live eggs and possibly becoming pregnant.  So, stop the food, but you have to continue the Lupron injections for 5 more days while these eggs die.  My potential babies.  I have to let them die and continue to be a pincushion.  I was heart broken.  All that we had already put into it, and we just had to stop and wait and then try again.

The RE was great.  He called later that day to check on me and make sure I was OK.
But we have to wait 6 - 8 weeks for my ovaries to cool down.  The RE advised he was going to look at my meds protocal and make some adjustments.  So now, we just wait.  My period comes only days after I stop the Lupron.  It's not fun, but there will be worse to come.

Deep breathing was all we could do.  We decided to get out of the house for a weekend.  We went and stayed at a hotel and had no strings attached sex for the first time in a long time.  It was nice, but there were storm clouds hovering over it all.

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