Making Baby Sonne: IVF Round 2, Stimulation

As I look back at my first round of IVF, I can still feel the excitement as I found out I had nearly 40 follicles. I feel the intensity of my heart dropping into my stomach when I found out they only retrieved 7 eggs. I remember the sting when I heard only 5 of them became fertilized. I can still feel the sheer joy of finding out that 4 out of the 5 half-Jacob and half-me little buggers made it out of the woods and all received excellent grades. I remember like it was yesterday when only ONE of our little embies were able to be used for transfer. And I couldn’t forget if I tried how my heart broke in half when I heard my transfer failed. I had a baby in there for what… a couple days? A few? And it didn’t stay, it didn’t implant, it didn’t grow. I’m not sure if its possible to experience that rollercoaster first hand and still know, without a doubt, that our miracle will ever happen.

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Retrieval– July 16, 2016

It’s really hard to define my feelings having to go through IVF for a second time. I never really thought I’d be here again, so I find myself a bit unprepared. I keep flip-flopping from positivity to despair. I do know that I was feeling much more hopeful the first time around. I can feel the difference now. Idealistic, dreamy me has had a wake up call. I’ve lately been wrestling with a scary thought. What if IVF isn’t the answer? I used to be able to envision what the future held because I was telling myself that the end result of IVF was a big ole pregnant belly, an intense labor story, and at the end of it all we’d have an adorable tiny human to show for all of the hard work. I’d raise that tiny human to be an awesome full grown human and I’d be happy with my little, yet loving and complete family. Now the picture seems a bit more unfocused….

I haven’t given up all hope. I still think about the possibilities of what my life would hold with children, but I have had my eyes opened to a new possible future—one without kids. This is a real possibility for me. I know it doesn’t mean the end of the world—in fact, I think it broadens my horizons beyond anything I’ve imagined for my future self. I think of becoming a world traveler (a passion of mine that was ignited long ago when I took my first trip abroad at the ripe age of 17). I think maybe Jacob and I would move wherever our lives lead us without family worried about “never getting to see the grand babies.” I think of all the typical parental complaints (that us reproductively challenged people do not see as burdens)– us never having to clean up poop all of the time, never being confined to a sleep schedule, never having to spend a ton of money on diapers and all of the other necessities, never feeling pressure to be part of a PTA or coach little league, and how we could still go out on dates all of the time without getting a sitter. I think maybe I could possibly feel like I had never been held back from something adventurous or bigger or better because of the children. Of course, these things don’t have to be one or the other, black or white, all or none, but I have to tell myself some of these things to ease the dread that creeps in.

Regardless, I’ve decided that while the acceptance of this possibility is necessary, it needs to remain in the back of my mind somewhere for now. I need to stay focused on being positive and hopeful. I already know how treacherous this process can be (only 0.12% of people with OHSS get fluid in the cavities of their hearts and lungs and require a thoracentesis—lucky me!). I need to try to make this one less stressful and do everything in my power to be successful! I need to get my mind right!
PROTOCOL: “LONG-LUPRON”

Leuprolide acetate (keeps me from ovulating)
Gonal F (follicle stimulating hormone)
Menopur (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone)
Doxycycline (antibiotic)
Dexamethasone (glucocorticoid to treat inflammation)
Prenatals (vitamins)
Ovidrel (HCG trigger)

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Gonal-F and Menopur

Sunday, March 5, 2017
Day 1- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 225 iu Follistim:
I’ve already been giving myself shots of Lupron for days and I’ve been feeling twinges and jabs in the ovary area—especially the right side. I’m concerned because I’ve been having major muscle cramps and spasms in my obliques. This is exactly what happened last time… you know… before my follicles burst and I ended up in the hospital. It’s a bit too soon for all of that, but I don’t think anyone can blame me for being a bit paranoid. Also, I found out today that my protocol has NOT been changed to a Lupron trigger (which was supposed to reduce the chances of OHSS). I don’t know why it was changed and that makes me a bit nervous, too. I need to relax and trust my doctor, but I was really hoping for an easier time than before. I hope this works and I don’t hyperstimulate. Anyway, I took all of my shots and I’m ready to go. This is the easy part. Yes, playing chemist, mixing powders and fluids in syringes, and jabbing myself with multiple needles is the easy part. Around 11:30 pm I got a horrible headache. I’m afraid to take anything, so I suffered through. I experienced the muscle spasms all night, too. Not a great start. Googled it—Lupron causes headaches.

Monday, March 6, 2017
Day 2- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 225 iu Follistim:
I’m not experiencing cramps and spasms in my stomach/side muscles today (well, not as much or as intense as yesterday). I am definitely aware of my ovaries. I can feel them. It’s a strange sensation. I think this is probably good. Grow follicles, grow! As far as the injections are concerned, I’m feeling like an old pro. I guess that can be a silver lining of sorts (if I don’t think about the why behind the fact that I’m an old pro). The hormones are doing their job, too, apparently. I was emotional twice today…. once for no reason, once because later in the day I received some somber news about one of my students. Two days down… as far as stimming is concerned, so far so “good.”

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Day 3- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 225 iu Follistim:
Today was difficult. One of my favorite students (yeah… I know… I’m not supposed to have those) was in a tragic car accident and was injured pretty badly. In the same accident his father and sister were gravely injured and his brother passed away. The boy who passed was only a freshman—a young, smart, sweet, polite, warm, friendly, passionate, and athletic young man. I can’t even imagine what the family is going through right now. My student will be ok physically in a few months, but the emotional pain he’ll be going through is something I cannot fathom. The gravity of the situation had a profound effect on the student body. It was not a “business as usual” kind of day. My students, one period in particular, were highly emotional. All in all, today was a trying day—lots of emotion, lots of sadness. My injections, muscle spasms, and hormone levels seem irrelevant.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Day 4- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 225 iu Follistim: MONITORING DAY
I got up extra early and left the house at 6am to go to the doctor this morning. When I got there the doors were still closed and the lights were off. I thought I had the wrong day for a minute and was ticked. But then the door opened, the lights went on and I was in ultrasound within 5 minutes. Whew. My ultrasound usually takes awhile because my left ovary hides behind my uterus. That wasn’t the case today. We found both ovaries quickly, but the movement of the wand was actually kind of painful. To me that just means I am already tender because my ovaries are enlarged. I hope it isn’t too early for that.

When I got to work (early, actually) I made a bunch of copies and prepared for my pre observation conference with the English curriculum director and the Principal. It went really well. I always get so nervous for these things; I need to learn to relax and be more confident. By the time the meeting was through and 1st period was over, I was ready to call it a day… but the show must go on. I taught my classes by trying to provide my grieving students with a little normalcy, and soon after received the call.

The nurse on the other end of the call informed me that I had a bunch of little follicles and one measurable follicle (11 mm). My estrogen level was 198 (last time on this day it was at 400+ and I’m not sure if that’s relevant.) I was told to continue the same protocol for at least the next two days and to make monitoring appointments for both Friday and Monday. There may be a need to see me over the weekend, but we won’t know until Friday. As far as side effects and such, I’m already feeling super aware of where my ovaries are. I’m not exactly bloated, but I know my ovaries are growing. The feeling is strange, for sure. Lots of twinges and jabs and pangs, too. I’m getting impatient to get the egg retrieval over with. I’m very aware that I shouldn’t be feeling anxious, but its starting to really hit me that I could AGAIN get OHSS, fluid, cysts bursting, hospitalization, etc. I’m psyching myself out! Ahhhh!!

Thursday, March 9, 2017
Day 5- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 225 iu Follistim:
My head is pounding (day 5 of this now). Pounding isn’t the right word because it’s a constant ache and it makes me dizzy sometimes. Also, you probably don’t need to know this at all, but fertility meds make me constipated like crazy. This is a problem because I think my full intestines hindered the egg retrieval process last time. Ugh! And my ovaries are so full that I’m running to the bathroom every five minutes to pee. Just lovely, really. Oh, the joys of being an egg factory! Today at work I was observed for a “formal” by the curriculum director. It went really well considering it was my period full of “challenging” students. I don’t know how it happens, but the kids that are the “most fun” to work with are always in the same class. Can we work on this? Like, can we spread them out to make all of the classes a bit more balanced? Hah! Anyway, It was a crazy day from start to finish—just busy, but I think being busy is a good thing because it takes my mind of the worrisome issues for a bit.

Friday, March 10, 2017
Day 6- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 225 iu Follistim: MONITORING DAY
Headache? Check. Constipation? Check. Peeing constantly? Check. More fun symptoms to add to the list are starting to reveal themselves… I’m so sore that the wand again hurt like hell during the ultrasound (I don’t think this is normal). Going upstairs is a pain because lifting my knees is directly affecting my apple sized ovaries… And I have to be careful about getting up quickly from laying or sitting. I’m sore and exhausted. I feel like I did much better handling all of this last time. I was working the Taste during my last stimulation phase, so it’s a bit surprising I felt less pressure/pain during a more physically demanding job. I’m going to go back and read my blog to see if I had so much swelling and difficulty with bending and stairs during my last stimulation. According to my numbers, I’m in a very similar position to my stimulation phase from my previous round. My estrogen is 563 and I have 8 measurable follicles, but about 24 all together.

Saturday, March 11, 2017
Day 7- 150 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 150 iu Follistim:
Bloated. Just bloated. And tired. These ovaries feel like they’re growing by the minute. Zaps and zings and twinges! I didn’t do much of anything today except rest up.

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Day 8- 75 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron, 50 iu Follistim: MONITORING DAY
Jacob and I got up early to go to the River North office to get me some monitoring. I had a very pleasant experience with the ultrasound tech. My left ovary is always hard to find. Not only did she not hurt me while she was looking for it, she tried a few new/different methods to get to it… and when that still didn’t quite work, she did an abdominal ultrasound over the top and found it immediately. She then made notes in my account to help others find it for next time. They called me within a few hours with the results. I have a few follicles measuring in the 20mm range, but most are still 15-12mm. My estrogen jumped to 1,567, so we have to watch carefully and lower my meds a bit. I’ll probably be monitored every day this week. Cheers!

Monday, March 13, 2017
Day 9- 37.5 iu Menopur, 5 units Lupron: MONITORING DAY
The late winter snow storm made for a difficult drive to the doctor at 6am. The roads were not plowed yet and were really slippery—the kind of slippery that has you sliding as soon as you press lightly on the gas… There were not many people out, so I wasn’t late for my appointment, but it was a nerve-wracking drive that I do not want to attempt again tomorrow. I hope the lake effect snow holds off until I’m already safe and sound at work. My ovaries are still growing and my symptoms get a bit rougher as the days go on. I asked for a print out today of my ultrasound because the images looked so crazy and full of follicles. Picture perfect, I would say. I’m exhausted and it hit me today hard during 7th period. I almost made it a full day without too much complaint. But right before the class began I felt an overwhelming need to lay down and close my eyes. I’m ready to get these follicles mature and get them the heck out of me. My estrogen was 2246, which was a pretty big jump. I am to decrease meds to only one half menopur- no follistim.

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Follicle Factory (ovaries)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Day 10- 5 units Lupron: MONITORING DAY
Happy Anniversary to me and Jacob!! Today has been a day. It started off with a snowy drive to the doctor at 6am. It was slow-moving to say the least. My ultrasound didn’t go smoothly. Both of my ovaries were hiding… there was a lot of pressing and pushing trying to get the images. My tummy is already really bruised from the shots, so this was pretty unpleasant—especially because of the huge ovaries. When I left the doctor, the snow had become much worse. Driving down Lagrange and Harlem was just dangerous. I couldn’t see a few feet in front of me. When I arrived to Shepard, I couldn’t even see the building. Just your run of the mill, mid-March, a-few-days-before-spring-break-Chicago-style Blizzard. By the time first period was over, I was ready for the day to be done. I barely made it to 7th period… And needless to say I felt bad for my last two classes of the day. I was just cranky. When I got the call from the doctor’s office, I was surprised to hear that my estrogen went up again (even though I didn’t stimulate much) to 2927. I now have 32 follicles; 20 of them are measurable. When I got home, I took a good nap. Then Jacob and I went out for dinner for our anniversary. At least the crazy day had a pleasant end. This night I was instructed to do no stimulation meds—lupron only. Can’t ovulate just yet!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Day 11- 5 units Lupron: MONITORING DAY
The drive to the doctor today was much more pleasant—blizzard over. Thank goodness. We did not have an easy time finding my ovaries again. It seems the bigger they get, the more they hide. Ugh! I don’t think that bodes well for egg retrieval. At work I couldn’t help but think, “Get these eggs out of me, please! I am sore” all day. Again, I was able to keep it together until I hit my 7th period wall. I do not teach from sitting at my desk—I stand and walk around and circulate, so this is getting more and more difficult. I just need to be lounging around in the pool like I did on the days before egg retrieval last time. After school I spoke with a nurse about my instructions and numbers. Estrogen climbed to 3133 and I have 21 measurable follicles and about 11 still growing. I also got to speak directly to my doctor. The doctor said that he WOULD do an abdominal egg retrieval if my ovaries couldn’t be accessed vaginally… This is cool, but also scary. He’s an expert, so I trust him, but abdominal egg retrievals are a little more intense. There are more potential complications… I’m trying not to dwell on it too much. I’m taking the “we’ll just have to wait and see” approach. I also got the green light for the trigger shot! Egg retrieval is scheduled for Friday! Signing off– Full, bloated, sore, and immobile….

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After I recuperate, I will update! Pray, send vibes, baby dust, positivity, etc! We need it! Thank you, as always, for reading and for your support. If I help just one person, I know sharing our story is worth it.

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About Nicole

I have my BA in English Education and am a lover of the arts. I’m part of a small, but fiercely devoted (and annoyingly close) family– and wouldn’t change that for the world. I'm lucky in love with the love of my life and am a step-mom to his two beautiful girls. I’m also a Paleolithic eater, a lover of all things organic, whole, and natural.

One response »

  1. Cheryl says:

    Sending positive thoughts, prayers and much baby dust!!🙏🏼🙏🏼💦💦. Sorry that’s the best I could do in the emoji dept for baby dust!!

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