Friday, June 3, 2011

Holy Eggs, Batman!

My egg retrieval was Thursday morning and I have to admit, I was really nervous. I just kept remembering all the failures of last year's attempt and they clouded my mind the whole morning leading up to time I was called back.  I didn't sleep well the night before and was up way before my alarm. However, those feelings washed away the minute the nurse called my name. She had the kindest smile on her face and genuinely wanted to know how I was doing. She reassured me everything was going to go smoothly and basically kept me calm until I passed out from the anesthesia. As I the IV went into my hand and the oxygen mask over my face, I just looked up and asked God to hold my hand. After it was all said and done, I woke up to my husband and the nurse and the excruciating pain and nausea. I had the hardest time coming out of the medically induced nap I endured for only an hour. My husband mentioned it took longer than usual just as the embryologist came in saying, "we're still tallying up the eggs, but so far the count is 37!"  WHAT? REALLY?!  37? That's unbelievable. I was so shocked and amazed, but couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to display my excitement.  The whole procedure took quite a toll on me and with good reason. They retrieved a grand total of 40 eggs from my body. The embryologist was amazed, but extremely concerned with my risk for OHSS and how horrible the rest of my day was going to be because of the pain. I agreed about the pain, but was just too ecstatic over my egg count to really pay attention to how serious it could be.  Finally after an hour in recovery, I was able to stand up to try and use the restroom. Unfortunately, I was not successful because of just how painful it really was. The nurse told me to sit back down and when I felt comfortable to try and get dressed. They had to bring me wet towels, ice chips, and an alcohol swab to decrease my nausea and hot flashes.  Eventually the nausea subsided enough I could get dressed and go home. They informed me that they would call the next morning to let me know how many of the 40 were mature, fertilized, frozen and out to be watched every day until transfer. The number 40 was stuck in my head and a smile stuck on my face. I came out of the office to a world full of sunshine (literally), happiness and peace. The drive home, although excruciating with all the bumps on the road, was exciting to me. Exciting for the fact that we have a real shot this time! 40! Even if a lot didn't fertilize, that's still more than last year (15 eggs) and we surely will have some to freeze to try again if this time doesn't work. That's all that kept running through my head. If this time doesn't work, it's not over! We can try again for sure.

As the day went on, I felt great. I didn't care about the pain and my husband and I just relaxed outside most of the day. I worked on a good sunburn and loved every minute of my day. I took the Vicodin each time to fend off the pain as much as possible and was truly able to relax for first time in weeks. I even took a small nap...I NEVER TAKE NAPS! I prayed to God numerous times throughout the day just thanking him for being so good to us. As night fell, I began to get anxious about the next morning's phone call. I reminded myself it was all in God's hands and was able to fall asleep. Aside from getting up multiple times to use the restroom and trying to get comfortable in spite of the pain, I feel I slept pretty well. Morning came and relaxation went out the window. I had to find things to do to fill the time until the phone did ring. I put a load of laundry in the wash, swept the floor and intentionally woke up my husband (at 10am, so don't feel bad for him) before I did anything else to land myself in the hospital with OHSS. We decided to lay outside on our deck again to pass the time and sure enough the phone rang!

The embryologist called with great news! Out of the 40 eggs, 35 were mature! He ICSI'd all 35 and 27 fertilized. Out of the 27 that fertilized, he froze 16 of them and kept 11 out to watch their growth. How amazing is that?! My hopes have soared along with my excitement and praise to God. I mean, I thank God every day for a thousand things, but today, I was especially grateful!  We have 11 embryos to watch and work with, hoping they are of good quality and grow big and strong. He will call back tomorrow morning with more news of how the 11 are doing and when he thinks my transfer day will be.  If all goes well, he's really hoping for a day 5 or 6 transfer, right at the blastocyst stage so they are ready to attach when they get inside. If the embryos aren't faring too well outside on their own, they will have to transfer them back on day 3, being Sunday. So tonight we continue with the steroid pill so my body doesn't reject the embryos when placed back in, the antibiotic to protect them from bacteria, the Vicodin for the pain and the progesterone shot for the best possible environment for the little future bambinos. Fingers crossed for more good news in the morning!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

They're Ready!

So it went exactly as I had hoped, which for some reason leaves me a little uneasy. Like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know? Anyways, we have at least 4 follicles measuring at or over 18mm which is what qualifies us to get the green light for egg retrieval. I have lots of other follicles around 17, some at 15 and I even saw one at 13mm. So there are plenty in there, let's just pray for good quality!  I am to do the HCG shot tonight at 9:30 exactly, which will be 35 hours prior to my egg retrieval Thursday morning at 8:30am. At my last appointment my estrogen level was over 700 when it should have been around 100 or 200, so that's not a problem. I have one more blood test tomorrow morning to make sure all levels are good for the egg retrieval.  Exciting times! I'm just starting to get nervous something is going to go wrong. So all day today I will be trying not to focus on those thoughts.

Instead I will focus on taking the meds as I am supposed to, staying calm and hydrated to ward off OHSS, staying positive and praying for success. For one whole day tomorrow, I do not have to give any shots to myself! I will still get poked for the blood draw, but at least I don't have to do it! They gave me a new protocol to follow starting with my HCG shot tonight. Blood work in the morning, last meal tomorrow night and no eating after midnight, no liquid after 4am. We have to be at the doctor at 8am Thursday morning for an 8:30 retrieval. We have to bring with us the first progesterone shot, Vicodin and crackers to take the first Vicodin. The procedure doesn't take long, about 30-45 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of recovery. They will give me the first progesterone shot during the procedure. I will still be under so I won't feel that one! However, they have already drawn the circles on my backside for my husband to have a target zone for the remainder of the shots!

They will then call us each day to inform us on how our embryos are doing and when we should go back for the transfer. More than likely that will be Sunday...happy birthday to me! Hopefully that is just another sign of good things to come.  I was given strict instructions not to do anything strenuous for the next 3 weeks as my ovaries are very enlarged and tender and I'm at risk for OHSS. Don't worry! I won't be moving from my bed for a full 4 days after my transfer to hopefully give those embryos the best possible shot at attaching! I will just continue to try to be the best incubator I can be.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cycle Day 11

Ugh. I feel them now. The nausea, soreness, protruding belly, weight gain (not cool) and just all out discomfort let me know everything's going as planned. I take Tylenol as often as I can but it's starting to not work as well and sometimes doesn't even touch the pain I feel in my abdomen. Don't get me wrong, I planned for this. I am excited about this. I just forgot how uncomfortable I really feel during the time when my ovaries fist bump each other. I can't wait until my ultrasound in the morning where my doctor again gets to say how enormous my ovaries are and press on the outside of my belly to watch them move up and down on the ultrasound screen! Hopefully tomorrow will be it. My doctor will say the follicles are large enough and I will plan for my HCG shot 35 hours prior to my egg retrieval. Fingers crossed because as this week goes on, it only gets worse. I always end up with a mild to moderate case of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I already have the Gatorade stocked up and waiting to be drank to keep the fluid in those cells instead of seeping out and causing destruction in my body! We don't want fluid shifts in the body, trouble breathing or more weight gain at a rapid pace. That's all dangerous. I have given up on walking because at this point, standing is uncomfortable. Forget standing. Sitting, reclining, laying down on my back...yep, all slightly painful. But you know what? I'm ecstatic! Well, you might not be able to tell by looking at me because I feel miserable, but I'm jumping for joy on the inside that this is all going the way it supposed to. The way I remember it. The way my doctor said it would so we can achieve our goal. He said I could be in more pain. He said he would be more aggressive. He even said I could end up in the hospital with full blown OHSS. That's okay by me as long as the end result is what we want! So I've slowed down considerably. But that's okay. And some of you may laugh because I'm not usually able to slow down and relax. For some reason, this time, I'm calm. Weird, but good. Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come. I have stopped worrying about the dishes in the sink, the laundry, my tan (it's too freaking hot now to lay out and be sweating and have abdominal pain!), and any other frivolous worries I was trying to take on. Last night I started to worry about whether my husband would be home to give me my HCG shot and how I would go about getting it, if he wasn't. He literally rolled over and said, "you're just trying to find things to worry about now, it's okay, just get some sleep. All you have to worry about now is being a good follicle incubator." I love him. Not only does he make me forget about my worries and make me laugh to lighten the mood, but he puts things in perspective when I start losing sight of the goal and try to maintain control when I know deep down it's out of my hands. So what if he's at work when I have to have my HCG shot, I have friends who can give it to me. Several have offered already! Don't be surprised if you get a call! I have to maintain my calm for the sake of my follicles. I am doing this, and I will continue to be calm all week. I will get anxious around the time of the egg retrieval, but who wouldn't? That is excitement for the next step in the process, not worry.

So cycle day 11 and the shots are going well. I am starting to bruise but I always do. I have little pin pricks all around my belly button and on the insides of my elbows from them drawing blood.  I am curious to see where my estradiol level is tomorrow. I hope it stays high and doesn't bottom out like last time! I am sure with maintaining my high dose of Follistim that it will be where it should. My doctor was very pleased at my last appointment with the progress of the follicles. He stopped counting around 10, but they were all pretty symmetrical and around 8-11mm. We are hoping that tomorrow they will be 17-20mm so they are done cooking and can be retrieved!

If you read my last post, I mentioned the last thing I had to worry about was a cookout we were having out our house on Saturday. That went off without a hitch! We had just over 50 people show up, eat and have a good time! I couldn't be happier with how it turned out and I loved getting the chance to see everyone! So now, I just have to focus on being a good incubator like my husband said. My dogs are doing a good job of keeping me company and I have focused on my list of things to do to keep my mind off of the whole process and worrying. I have been working on a 1,000 piece puzzle, playing some sort of word game and reading on my Kindle, watching Cake Boss (I love that guy) on TV, reading other books and magazines, doing lots of Facebook stalking and laying around outside and inside the house. Somehow I have managed not to go crazy yet! I am waiting for that to happen when I'm not supposed to leave my bed. But I will continue to pray for this contentment with my situation and continue being happy about being in pain! I will post again after my doctor's appointment to let you all know how it's going!