For weeks now, I have noticed many people visiting my blog for updates on “Making Baby Sonne.” I’ve been silent for months, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to write. I mean, at this point, it’s all so repetitive. What do I have to tell you that you haven’t already heard from me? The following was all I could think of: “I had another egg retrieval and I am unhappy with the result. Thanks for your interest. Goodbye for now.” Upon further reflection and some time to mull it all over, I figured I would give it a real effort.
I am sure this’ll all be redundant, but here goes nothing—
While I was miscarrying, the only thought that got me through to the other side was the idea of having another egg retrieval to make more embryos. At the time of the miscarriage, I only had one embryo left on ice. I knew if I underwent another embryo transfer, used up that opportunity (as in failed to get pregnant with it), and left myself with zero reserve, I would have given up. I’d throw in the towel and be too miserable with IVF treatments that I’d stop altogether. I also knew, though, that I needed time to heal and get over this massive loss. I gave myself time and did not put a deadline on it. Grief is weird. It isn’t linear. It doesn’t get better with time. It comes and goes in unpredictable waves and still crashes into me when I least expect it.
So, after about 5 months, we went through the rollercoaster that is egg retrieval. Below are snippets from my notes during the retrieval process.
Egg Retrieval #3
Phase 1: Stimulation (AKA Stims) with Long Lupron Protocol (stimming with Menopur and Gonal-F). At baseline monitoring (ultrasound and blood work), I already had 16 small follicles. I was told to start Lupron injections for two days before stimulation injections.
4/29: Day 1–
Considering the fact that I’m an old pro at this, it was unsettling that I forgot how to give myself injections. I freaked out a little… After watching my old videos, I felt silly for getting nervous and jumpy. It was just like riding a bike. A really weird and sadistic bike. At about midnight, the Lupron headache kicked in and I already felt twinges in my ovaries.
4/30: Day 2–
Today was an uneventful and easy day. I did experience some muscle spasms in my side and stomach. This phenomenon is super weird because I haven’t heard other people going through this, yet it has happened to me during all 3 egg retrieval cycles.
5/1: Day 3–
A wee bit off-topic, but I made an important career decision today, thanks to the help of some pretty amazing co-workers and my boss. I’m still having some muscle cramping (I feel like it’s lessening). My sciatica is acting up like crazy. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with stimming, but it wasn’t bothering me before. I’ve been eating less… I’m just not hungry. I’ve lost 4 pounds since starting stim meds. Weird! That’s not normal… it’s like the opposite of normal. I’m beginning to feel twinges and pangs on both sides quite frequently. And I’m tired as hell. Oh, joy! Hormones!
5/2: Day 4–
I haven’t had any major bloating yet and I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve had no trouble getting around, no trouble with swelling, etc. The only noticeable side effect, so far, is that I’m getting some major twinges. I went to the doctor this morning for monitoring and to hear some expected news. I have a whole bunch of follicles, but only 5 were big and measurable, so the side effects make sense. I’m growing nice little homes for my eggs! All in all, it was a very looooong day with having dance tryouts. Regarding meds, I continued the same doses of 75 menopur, 225 follistim, 10 lupron microdose.
5/3: Day 5–
I’m starting to get sore and my belly is starting to bruise. I’m pretty tired, but I’m not retaining water or becoming swollen yet. The hormones are starting to make me weepy— I almost cried today for really no reason (in class— I think something we read triggered it). The long dance days are taking a toll on me, too. As soon as I get home, I’m not even hungry, I just want to sleep.
5/4: Day 6–
May the 4th be with you… So, yeah, I just plain old forgot to go to the doctor for monitoring this morning before work (I’m blaming the hormones). I had to leave work at noon to get to River North for monitoring before they closed at 1:30. Good thing I got there in time because they wanted to change my dosage. I responded well and have 12 measurable follicles on my right and 6 on my left. The technician really had to push on my left side because my ovary was hiding behind my uterus. Nice.. that’s always so fun. While driving home I started to feel sick from bloating and twinges. Fun times. My nightly instructions included a lower dose— down to 150 follistim, 75 menopur, 10 lupron.
5/5-6: Days 7 and 8–
I was feeling miserable with allergies/cold symptoms plus the addition of swollen ankles and sore/bruised belly, so I did not partake in the beautiful weekend. I moped. And had a pity party moment for myself. I’m not mad about this. Sometimes you just have to process your feelings. Not everything is rainbows and butterflies and you need to take the time to work it out. That’s what I did— in my own little bubble all weekend.
5/7: Day 9–
At monitoring this morning, there didn’t seem to be a ton of growth from Friday (2 more follicles on the right and 6 more on the left). I was expecting bigger numbers considering the soreness and twinges. They lowered my dose, so something must be going ok. Although, this makes me wonder. In the two previous egg retrieval cycles, my numbers always jumped around this time.
5/8: Day 10–
I’m feeling very emotional. I cried at work today for no real reason other than feeling down in the dumps. The egg retrieval physical pain is nothing to the emotional pain IVF brings. And it’s not just the hormones. If I stop to think, for one second, about why I have to even be doing all of this in the first place, it can lead to a downward spiral of self-pity. I didn’t let myself linger in this place today (I had enough of that over the weekend). I can’t take all the credit for pulling myself out of the pity party… it helped tremendously that a friend (with a sixth sense) gave me an inspirational card with a thoughtful message and a salty treat. That snapped me back into my warrior mode.
5/9: Day 11–
Monitoring this morning was an adventure! I took two or three completely normal and unassuming steps into the parking lot and then, as if the storm clouds wanted to play a mean trick on me, I was assaulted by massive hail and a wall of rain. I was nearly late to work due to the downpour. I should have sensed this as foreshadowing of the mood of the day to come. My step-daughter was stressing me out to the max (but that’s a story for another day). I then had a meeting with other Advanced Placement Literature and Composition teachers. It was pretty awesome and encouraging. I am nervous, but ready for the challenge of AP Land! Later, I had a good conversation with an old friend only to find out that she is going through her own health scare I didn’t know about. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own stuff that I felt guilty and selfish for not knowing and being stuck in my own bubble (this could be a post all of its own— it is only human to be caught up in your own crap, but we cannot forget our friends and family… I’m disappointed in myself). Then, with the rest of the head coaches, I had to go vote for senior athletic awards. Man, head coaches can talk and talk and talk about the kids they coach and love (this is a good thing- ha!). What a busy and tiring day. That night, the news from monitoring was iffy; the doctor upped my meds a little. I’ll have more monitoring tomorrow and retrieval will be Saturday or Sunday.
5/10: Day 12–
At monitoring today, the ultrasound technician said “oh my goodness” when looking at my ovaries. I had lots of big follies— over 20. I’ve been given the instructions to use the trigger shot (in the booty… ouch!). It was a painful one and made whole cheek throb all evening. The things we do for love…
5/11: Day 13–
Just a regular day at work with extra discomfort. I felt extreme unease all day. I think I’m just nervous about egg retrieval tomorrow.
Phase 2: Egg Retrieval Procedure
5/12: Day 0–
I was actually feeling fine on the way to the procedure, albeit nervous all morning. I wasn’t even bloated or full, which made me think something was wrong. The other two times I was so full on egg retrieval day, I could barely move. Everything just seemed off. Once in the pre-procedure room, no people from the office or lab came into talk to me beforehand. Even going into the procedure felt weird and different. No one was talking to me (except the nurse with the paperwork and consent forms). This threw me off because they’re always friendly and chatting me up when I go into the room (not that anyone was being mean or rude, they just weren’t visiting and social like the other times). It was eerie. The male nurse who wheels me into the procedure and even the anesthesiologist were different people. It was like some bizarro egg retrieval land where nothing was as it should be. It was too quiet and unfamiliar. The anesthesia took ahold quickly; I went out like a light and came to just as fast. I was back in my recovery room in 10 minutes. When Jacob told me it only took ten minutes, I knew something was wrong. My follicles were empty… many of them. We only got 7 eggs out. Seven. I was devastated. While I was coming out of anesthesia, the doctor came in to say that these empty follicles could mean one of two things— (1) it was just this cycle; a fluke or (2) this might be how I respond now. I can’t believe it’s the second option. I still have a high ovarian reserve. I have to hope it was a fluke. After the procedure and the visit from the doctor, my pals finally came to visit. One of the many friendly staff members came in and said, “You do everything you can do to the best of your ability— that’s all you can do.” My IVF nurse came to say, “It’s all about quality, not quantity.” These things are comforting. I DO do all I can. What else can I do? And it is about QUALITY. I need those 7 eggs to be amazing.
I still sobbed on the way home.
As far as my recovery at home, I was super uncomfortable on the couch. I was following instructions by consuming small snacks of salty foods and even more Gatorade. Laying/sleeping in a V position is really not the most comfortable. I have to keep my head propped so fluid doesn’t travel upward, but I have to keep my feet elevated because they’re swollen from the meds. Lovely. Just part of the package deal.
I couldn’t keep the blues from seeping in. I was not feeling hopeful in the slightest; the dreary grey clouds and the sound of rain added a layer of symbolism to the day. Jacob said, “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
5/13: Day 1– Recovery.
I was feeling sore all day, but not nearly as bad as previous retrievals. This is probably because they didn’t stay in there very long because I had empty follicles. There is no comparison— my first retrieval takes the cake as the most painful. I made sure to get up and walk to the kitchen, to the bathroom, get Gatorade, etc. I think this helps me in the long run. The IVF nurse called mid-way through the day. Out of 7 eggs, 6 were mature and fertilized. Out of the 6, only 4 were growing normally. It could be worse, but I wasn’t hopeful hearing this. I know how this works— the numbers keep going down (even in the best of cycles).
5/17: Day 5– Embryo Count and Biopsy.
My nurse called today with a bit of a surprise. I guess the numbers don’t always go down… One of my embryos was a slow grower and ended up making it to be a blastocyst! So, instead of 4 embryos, we have 5. All five were biopsied (they take a single cell off of the outside— incredible, right?) and are now frozen, as we wait for the results.
As far as my recovery is concerned, today was my first day back at work. It was tiring and I still feel sore during the motion to sit or stand or get up from laying down. Overall, though, I am much better.
Fast-forward to 5/31: Biopsy Results.
Out of our 5 embryos, THREE were found to be viable. So, Jacob and I have FOUR potential babes on ice at the moment.
Fast-forward to today:
I am currently waiting for a consultation on July 19th to start the process of getting a procedure called a hysteroscopy. This is an up-close-and-personal look at my uterus with a camera. My uterus always looks great on ultrasound. I’ve even had saline ultrasounds and the doctor always says, “Everything looks perfect. Perfect shape, size, lining.” Always. But something is obviously not perfect. I’m having trouble implanting (3 failed transfers), and then I had the miscarriage, so the doctor wants to look with a camera to see if something is happening that they can’t see on ultrasound. There could be tiny polyps or something else that isn’t visible on ultrasound. It’s a scary thought— the answers might not be what I want to hear… but at least I’ll know something. I’ll take any info I can get in this constant cloud of uncertainty.
We’ll see what happens with the hysteroscopy, but I hope to transfer an embryo or two at the end of August. Right now, we wait… The miserable waiting game of infertility continues.