LADY TALES
THE FERTILITY JOURNEY

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MY IVF JOURNAL STEP BY STEP


                                                     Mid December, 2010

    My surgery was just on Dec. 2nd, and I do not want to waste anytime starting IVF. We have researched the two IVF clinics in our area, Albany, NY, and decided on CNY Fertility. There were quite a few reasons why. 

  • The 1st was their prices. It was a little strange to me at the beginning that they advertised specials such as buy one get one, however, it was very appealing with our income. In the end, I went for the buy two, get one free for $6000. We researched other IVF clinic prices and this seemed to top them all! 

 

  • The 2nd was the location. My workplace is literally 2 minutes down the road. I live 45 minutes away. This is very convenient when the time comes for ultrasounds, blood work, and fitting it into my daily schedule. The office opens at 7am allowing me time prior to work without rushing or having to explain myself.    

 

  • The 3rd reason was the fact that they have an online portal. I am the type of person that likes to have all my ducks in a row.  I would probably be that lady that calls the office all the time to check results. What could be better than having access to all your tests results anytime! These are also downloaded by the clinic same day!     

I was a little disappointed that they were not able to see me until January 20th 2011, but that gave me time to heal and research IVF a little more.

                                                      January 21st, 2011

    I have never been so excited about a Dr.'s appointment before! Well, this was more of a consultation. We met with a fill in Dr. as the main Dr.'s were not there. The establishment is beautiful and you immediately feel at ease upon walking in. The lighting is dim and there is a fireplace in the waiting area which gives a relaxing feel. The staff is extremely friendly and there are books, coffee, and tea to occupy you until you are called in. At that same visit, I was given an ultrasound to make sure there wasn't anything abnormal. I did provide the results of my previous HSG test later on, as they wanted to perform one, which I'm told is routine. This test was very uncomfortable for me and I wanted to avoid another at all cost. Thank goodness the one I provided was sufficient! At the end, one thing was clear...call on the 1st day of your next cycle. That was said many times and that was the most important thing to remember.

                                                       February 7th, 2011 
   
    The first day of my cycle came on a Saturday. I was a little nervous that those two days put a damper on testing, but when I called Monday, they assured me, I was still in the window period to have my Baseline test, but they had to see me within 2 days. A Baseline test is where they test your hormones at a certain time so they have something to work off of from what I was told. This has to be done at the beginning of an IVF cycle. I was able to view those test results on their portal within just a few hours of going in, however, it did not show a normal range to compare it to. They also performed an ultrasound to check the lining of the uterus and said it was thin, which is good for that time in your cycle. I was given a date to start my medication, which is February 25th. I was estatic when she gave me an actual date...it made it more official and real. The medication was ordered from a special pharmacy and has been delivered. Half was covered by my insurance and the other half cost $1,193.00. Wow! These were two very intimidating boxes of medication. Lots of syringes and vials. A lot of names I have never heard of. I did ask if I would be using all the medication and the nurse said no. They prescribe extra in case they need to up the dose. Seems like a little bit of money down the drain there. Pics to follow!


                                                  February 25th, 2011

    Today I was scheduled for blood work, I believe to ensure that I had ovulated. The nurse told me I would be starting my 1st medication, Lupron, that evening, and should automatically do so unless I received a call.  Lupron suppresses your hormonal system to prevent early ovulation.  After drawing my blood work, she brought me to a room similar to the one I had my consultation in, to show me how to administer Lupron. Giving myself the shots was the most intimidating part so far and she made it look so easy. My biggest fear was having air bubbles in the syringe and she assured me even if an air bubble was left in there, no damage would be done as it is subcutaneous (just under the skin).  The shot would have to be given between 6-9pm everyday until instructed otherwise, which is when you take your HCG shot, about 3-4 weeks.  At 7:30 pm, with my fiance as my assistant, I prepared myself mentally. Lupron comes in a kit, with a vial of the Lupron, alcohol wipes, and disposable syringes.  I never would of thought the tiny vial would last 3-4 weeks, however the amount prescribed, .10cc, is very very little. This was very comforting to me when thinking of giving myself a shot in my stomach! The instructions are quite simple. Clean off the top of the vial as well as the injection site, your stomach, with an alcohol wipe. After washing your hands of course! Take the top off the syringe, and insert it in the vial. Tip the vial upside down and draw the syringe back to the # 10U.  Pinch the skin on either side of your belly button, and insert the needle at a 90 degrees. Push the end until all medicine is gone and pull the needle out. Ok, now, I know that sounds easy, and it is, but I want to mention the moment before I inserted the needle. Mentally, I made this out to be worse then it was. At first, my fiance was going to do it.  As he brought the needle towards my stomach I stopped him. My anxiety kicked in LOL. I decided I had to do it myself while laying down. This took about 5 minutes of mental preparation. I counted to 3 and finally did it. Not an ounce of pain! I had experienced a tiny bit of a burning sensation which lasted just a few minutes, and it was over. Going forward, this will be a piece of cake! I am to call on the 1st day of my period, where I believe the stimulating medications begin.

                                                      February 26th, 2011

    I'm not sure if it is a coincidence, but I woke up with the worst headache! This is listed as a side effect and was told I could take Tylenol for it. Other side effects include hot flashes and night sweats. Basically menopause symptoms. Hopefully the headaches will be the only thing I experience.
                                                      March 14th, 2011

    I called the office last Thursday, the 10th, notifying them that my cycle had begun. I was starting to worry a little as it was 5 days late. The Lupron box states it is a 14 day kit and I was around the day 15 mark. They scheduled me for the following Monday, which is today, so 4 days after I called. In the previous post I mentioned that awful headache. Luckily it was the only headache I had and I didn't experience any other side effects....well, occasional moodiness, but nothing physical.  The shots of lupron became easier each time I gave them to myself. I felt like a pro. Today however, it became a little more complicated. I had more blood work and an ultrasound. The nurse then showed me how to prepare Bravelle, which I would start in the evening, unless I received a call. I have been lucky not to receive any of the dreaded calls yet. If you receive a call, it is usually because something is not quite right with blood work etc. Lupron has been reduced to 5 units a day...that 14 day kit goes a long way! Ok, back to Bravelle. I was prescribed 2 vials/Day. When the pharmacy had sent 40 vials, I was a bit worried, but, no, I will not be using all of them. The water like solution is added to the 2 vials of powdered Bravelle. The lupron is also mixed with this, creating 1 vial in the end. This is given the same way. A subcutaneous shot in the stomach. I have to say, this one I could feel compared to the Lupron, but it wasn't terrible. Along with the Bravelle and Luron is .5 mg of Dexamethasone a day. This is to reduce inflammation when the embryos are transferred and aid in implantation. I have read that the body recognizes the embryos are foreign and that is when inflammation can occur. Tonight I also took a 2G premixed bottle of ZMAX. Yuck! 1st appointment after starting stims this Friday and again Monday and Wednesday to monitor follicles. What seemed so far away is now right around the corner! 

(I want to note that the ZMAX made me very nauseous!)  

                                           March 18th, 21st, 23rd, 24th

    These were very brief appointments consisting of blood work and ultrasounds. I was literally in and out of the office within 20 minutes! I recommend asking any questions you may have during these as it seems you are not always informed unless it is not good news. I feel they follow the "No news is good news" policy here...very difficult for a person like me who needs details..lots and lots of details! The blood work checks the hormone levels that were checked all along, however it seems the estrogen is very important prior to the egg retrieval. The ultrasounds check how many follicles you are producing and how large they are. It is amazing how fast they grow over that short period of time! You can see it yourself, whether you understand ultrasounds or not. The follicles originally looked like the size of a pea to me and in the end, I would compare them to a small golf ball! Around the time of the 1st ultrasound, I felt small pinches here and there but overall felt great. I felt I was one of the lucky ones! Little did I know, that was me being naive. Within several days, at one of the ultrasound appointments, I expressed the discomfort I felt (bloated, crappy, headaches) which the nurse reassured me was completely normal. The way I understand it, the more uncomfortable you are, the more follicles you have, or the bigger they are...which is GOOD!! The more follicles you have, the greater chance of more eggs! Toward the end of the week, I felt myself becoming ancy wondering when retrieval would be. They could not give a definite date as everything changes day to day. Wednesday, the 23rd, I did receive a phone call to reduce my Bravelle to 1 vial. My estrogen was 2332. I continued with the baby aspirin, Lupron, .5 mg of Dexamethasone,and multi-vitamin and was told to come back the next day. The next day, Thursday, was the most exciting of these appointments as I was finally told the day of my retrieval, Saturday! I was happy with this because it didn't affect work and I would have Sunday to recover. I was told to come in at 8 am Saturday with my fiance of course! He IS a crucial part of this process haha. Nothing to eat or drink after 12 the night before. All jewelry removed and no lotions or perfumes. 

                                                     March 26th, 2011

    I was very nervous Saturday morning! I had no clue what to expect. When I arrived, they took me to a dressing room to change into a robe, socks, and a cap for my hair. It definitely gave a surgery feel vibe lol. They took me to a small room where they hooked me up to a heart monitor and IV for fluids. I was then left for quite some time. To me, this was not a good thing as I was nervous already and now had no one to talk to. I waited and waited for my fiance to arrive. He was taken into another room to "do his thing". I started to wonder if he was experiencing performance anxiety, something we joked about on the way there. He finally arrived with his cap and gown on...very cute I must say. I then met the anesthesiologist who assured me I would be sleepy but not completely out and would not feel a thing. He also said I wouldn't remember anything. I found this hard to believe if I were to be somewhat awake. Well, I can honestly say, I do not remember a thing! I woke up and was told it was over and that 9 eggs were retrieved! I stayed there for about an hour, was given directions, and went home. I was told I would receive a call the next day informing us how many fertilized and when the transfer would be. I was surprised at how fast they fertilize! 

                                                    March 27th, 2011

    At 9 am I received the phone call. Despite the soreness I felt, I jumped out of bed to take the call! The nurse told me 5 fertilized and 2 they were watching. The other 2 did not make it. The transfer would be the upcoming Thursday, which would make it a 5 day transfer.  Now as far as my comfort level, that was a different story! I don't want to scare anyone here, but it was more uncomfortable to me than my previous laparoscopy surgeries. I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach a hundred times. Tylenol was my best friend! I was bound to our couch for 2 days and then returned to work Monday. I realized that hot baths and a heating pad helped immensely! I finally started to feel somewhat back to myself by Wednesday, 4 days later. From what I have read online, everyone has a different experience with this, some recovering very quickly. I was also told after the retrieval, that my left ovary was hard to access and the Doctor had to insert the needle through my stomach to get to it. Thank goodness I was asleep for this!

                                                March 31st, 2011

    Today erased all unpleasant experiences I may have experienced prior. I was giddy with excitement as we drove to CNY and felt a sense of closure to the fertility issues we have had in the past. They scheduled acupuncture for 8 am in the upstairs spa and I was then brought down to the surgery room in my robe. My fiance joined me and we were told 5 embryos made it, all of good quality. They were graded but I will have to do some research as I don't understand the grading system. They gave me a Valium to calm my nerves and also said it helped prevent uterine contractions. The transfer took about 5 minutes total. Completely painless! I was hoping to see this on the ultrasound but could only see the tube, not the embryos inserted.  I was then given a very detailed picture of the 2 embryos that were transferred. I now feel an unexpected attachment to them already! After, I was asked to rest for 30 min. I am now home, in bed. I feel great and have lots of energy, probably from my excitement, but am determined to stay as still as possible for the next 2 days. I am told 2 days of taking it easy. The 11 day wait now begins!!!!!

                                                   During the 11 Day Wait      

    Now I know you are not supposed to test for at least 8 days, but I could not resist. I had plenty of pregnancy tests to use and did not mind testing repeatedly throughout the day everyday! Ok, I'll admit, I was obsessed with testing, but I purchased my pregnancy tests from
http://www.early-pregnancy-tests.com and paid only $0.65 a piece! You would think they would not work well for that price, but nothing could be farther from the truth! With my past pregnancies, these strips picked up the HCG hormone as early as 8 days past ovulation, showing the faintest of pink lines. On day 8 I had a stark white strip. I must have held that strip up to the light from all angles to catch a glimpse of a different color. I bawled my eyes out in the bathroom and felt hopeless.  It was still too early to determine for sure, but there were not too many days left. The next day, I tested again. I held the strip against another white surface. There seemed to be a slightly darker area next to the test line. I started to think I was tricking my eyes into seeing it and imagined it. A few hours later I tested a second time, and again, a darker strip! Now when I say darker, I mean the faintest of variation! I brought my fiance into the bathroom and asked his opinion. Although he said I was crazy for obsessing this much, he did admit, it looked different. Over the course of the day, I held all strips together. THERE WAS A CHANGE! I felt like jumping around the house for joy...but I waited until the next day for it to feel official. Sure enough, the next morning, the line was darker. I thought to myself that this was too consistent to not be true. My appointment to test was not for a few days at CNY and I wanted to call them and ask to come in early. I decided to call anyways, because I was still having pain on my sides from the time I had my retrieval. I started worrying that it could be another ectopic. The pain felt very familiar. This seemed impossible as I do not have either of my fallopian tubes left, but of course I read on the internet it could still be a possibility, lodging itself in the remanants. Sometimes the internet can make things worse I have learned. They told me to come in and performed an ultrasound which confirmed my ovaries were very large (they looked like softballs). This they said was OHSS, which is the overstimulation of the ovaries. Although it did not put an embryo in danger, it could last weeks, and become more uncomfortable before it got better. They also took bloodwork since it was only a few days before my scheduled appointment. I received a call later that day that was life changing and made everything I had experienced worthwhile. I still have the message saved on my voicemail almost a year later!

        " Hi Jaclyn, this is CNY. I just wanted to let you know your test did come back positive. Your HCG right now is perfect, it's 61.6 and your progesterone is over 40, so continue your medications and come in Monday for repeat blood work." 

    Over the course of the appointments that followed, there were a couple scares. My HCG levels were not doubling as they should. At times, the nurses did not sound hopeful. I had faith though, and was not giving up just yet. Everyday, after my blood work, I would check the online portal from work. The numbers went up but were not doubling until the 4th appointment, where they caught up. The nurses actually seemed shocked! My first ultrasound was a relief, where I saw the yolk sac, looking the way it should be. Although just a yolk sac, it was the best sight I had ever seen. What was even better, was hearing the heartbeat. I stayed at CNY for 12 weeks, continuing the Dexamethasone and Crinone, until the 12 week mark. I was then released to my OBGYN. 

    What an amazing journey it has been! I married in August of 2011 and Madalyn Riley Babcock was born November 28, 2011. She was due December 17th and I was scheduled to be induced a week prior due to the blood thinners, Lovenox, I was taking. I knew she would be early as I felt I had no more room left for her! My water broke Sunday, the 27th, and she was born at 10:59 AM the next day weighing 5 lbs 12 oz, 18 inches long! 

    I cannot thank CNY enough for their caring and knowledgeable staff! They were always supportive even with my doubts I voiced to them. I learned through this journey the true meaning of having faith and believing in myself and my strength. Dreams are possible!!




  





     
                                                             
    
   

    



                                                                            

                                                   
  
                                                  

    
                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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