IVF Update

Hi!

If you’ve followed along thus far, you’ll know in my last update (here) that I had just begun daily Lupron injections. I was about a week out from my second injection of the day, Menopur/Gonal F.

Now, I’m resting after having my egg retrieval yesterday!

In this post, I’ll update you a bit on where I left off, and how I’m doing now.


Lupron

You guys. I’m so relieved to not have had ANY side effects from this medication. I mean, maybe a headache here and there, but that’s it!

Not only was it painless to give, but nothing nasty as a consequence. Whew!

That needle is so small, I even got to where I wasn’t icing it ahead of time. It just didn’t hurt! I only noticed a slightly itchy sensation for a couple of minutes afterward, but then it was gone!

It would leave a little red area on my skin, which cleared in the next few hours. I would also get an occasional tummy bruise, but it didn’t hurt.

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Bruise
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Red area after. Plus, band-aid marks from the day before. Plus plus, the little dark spot on the right is from my laparoscopy last year.

Gonal F / Menopur

On March 8th, I began this combo of meds each evening. I was pretty nervous about these for a few reasons.

  1. Everything I read said it feels horrid going in (like acid)
  2. I was told I’d feel like a total basket case and hormonal monster because of these
  3. I was told I’d be bloated like a 5 month pregnant lady

Hokay.

So, my first injection was a BREEZE. Didn’t feel it. Didn’t hurt. It was awesome. I iced it for quite a while ahead of time.

Second night (and the subsequent times)…not so great. I wouldn’t say acid like. Not even burning, really. It did feel like a very very sharp, intense, pinching that spread as the medicine flowed into me. It was pretty tough at times to keep pushing the plunger, because it hurt so much. I’d just bite down on my shirt (see picture below), hyperventilate a bit, and then it’d be over. So, it’s doable, just pretty unpleasant.

I will say though that I had NOOOOOO side effects! That’s right. No bloating. No crazy hormones. Nada. It was a breeze.

So far, I was feeling like a boss, just trucking along.

In fact, I really enjoyed mixing my nightly meds, as it made me feel like a clinician or a wizard or something. Those are similar, right?

I want to take a moment and say that I really think I weathered these meds so well because I genuinely tried to eat the right way for preventing OHSS. In my previous post, I mentioned that I’d heard you should have a high protein and sodium diet, with low sugar and carbs. Well. I definitely drank a lot of Powerade Zero, protein shakes, and Asian food (for the salt!). Seriously, we had SO much Asian food! That’s my best guess as to why I didn’t have terrible side effects.

Also, any sensitivity/cramps I did experience, however mild, were so tolerable because I’m used to extreme pain from endometriosis. I asked the doctor and he confirmed that’s probably exactly why I handled it all well. So…silver lining with endo…I guess!

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This is how much Lupron I have left, after using that one vial for two weeks. It really doesn’t look like it will be enough when you start the cycle, and the nurse will tell you that it is, but you’ll probably still be skeptical. Let me tell you that it goes SO far!
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Nightly meds. Had to combine them so it was only one injection, rather than two.
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Didn’t need a band-aid for Lupron, but I did for my nighttime meds. So glad I picked princesses! They always made me smile.
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That is NOT the needle I injected with. Just the mixing needle. Don’t worry!
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Best advice I can give you is to not skimp on the time you spend icing yourself. I also always rotated which side I’d give the nightly meds. My Lupron in the morning didn’t bother me as much if I gave it on the same side in a row, but the nighttime one certainly would have.
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Reward yourself (in moderation!). Halo Top is perfect because it’s really low sugar, but has protein (which you realllllly need)!

Monitoring

We started my nightly meds on a Thursday, and I went for my first estradiol and ultrasound the following Monday.

We proceeded through the week with a visit on Wednesday and Friday, as well.

Monday

  • Estradiol = 226
  • Lining: 4.94
  • Follicles = 17 (nurse told me she didn’t expect all of them to grow)

Wednesday

  • Estradiol = 566
  • Lining: 8.76
  • Follicles = ? (Wasn’t pleased they didn’t tell me. Raised cane about it later. Got my numbers eventually!)
    • Stupid doctor we talked to for the pre-op that morning was AWWWWFUL. Would NOT give me my numbers! Said it would stress me out, blah blah blah. Well – I reported her at my next appointment. Ladies, this is YOUR BODY, YOUR RESULTS. Fight fight fight.

Friday

  • Estradiol = 1,629
  • Lining: 9.98
  • Follicles = 9

Friday, I also received instructions for a Monday retrieval (two days ago Monday).

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If you’re lucky, both arms will have good veins so you can rotate for labs. It’s also just the one vial, for your Estradiol, and over super quick!

Trigger Shot

Man. Of the entire process, the trigger shot of HCG (I used Pregnyl) had me the most anxious (that is, until I found out I’d have to be awake for retrieval!!!!). That needle is quite large, and I couldn’t imagine how icing it would make a big enough difference, when it is going so far into the muscle.

Boy was I wrong!

You guys!!!! It didn’t hurt! At all! Not even a pinch. I iced that sucker (my butt, that is) for 30 minutes ahead of time. I guess it really was sufficient. Mind blown, let me tell you.

Let me also tell you something else.

If you have close friends walking through this with you, I’d encourage including them at this step.

Example?

We go to my best friend’s house almost every weekend (for the past 3 years! They live one neighborhood from us) for an easy dinner and general hanging out. They have two precious kiddos, and we just do life together. Usually that looks like watching Little Baby Bum on Netflix, while drinking wine. Very adult.

This weekend was to be no exception, whether they liked it or not! I know people get squeamish with needles and blood, but I really felt like I needed some company for this.

So, we went over to do our thing, like usual, at around 5. The kids went to sleep around 8, and then the shot was supposed to happen at 9 pm.

So, we put on a standup comedian, and chatted while I sat on an ice pack.

At about ten til, I began prepping the injection (distraction). We all planned the logistics, as well: My friend, Jess, needed to hold my hand, husband needed to do the deed, and her husband, Ross, took pictures.

So, at 8:57, everyone cleared the couch so I could lay down (I recommend this). Jess got into position so I could break her hand, if need be.

Ross prepared the camera, bird’s eye view.

Sean started with the alcohol prep pad.

And then, he said “ready?” and I was like “NOOOOO!” And then, “WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT.” And then I talked to myself in my head a bit. Decided waiting wouldn’t change anything.

So, I clamped down on Jess’ hand, and he did it! And ya’ll – I literally asked “is it in?” Yep. No joke. I hate when people say that’s what happened, and then I go through something, and it’s so not what happens. But this is for realz you guys.

After it was finished, I drank some hot tea (which Ross generously provided all of us), and walked circles around their living room for about 10 minutes.

Then, we went home because that’s way past our bedtime!

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I hope you can see my dear friend’s hand in the bottom right of this picture. I love her! Also, my butt is all red because of the ice. He hadn’t done the shot yet.
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Next morning. Yes, I chose Merida, because of “Brave” – such a dork. Also, ignore all my lines. They’re from my PJ’s 🙂

Retrieval

So, next morning was Sunday. I totally felt fine, and even served with the babies in nursery. No side effects. Maybe a little sleepy, but whatev. That’s nothing.

The next morning we needed to be at the clinic at 8. We were given very specific instructions about which medications (pills, thankfully) to take and when.

The Valium I took didn’t do jack. Made my eyes move slowly, but that was it. Ever since I learned I’d be awake, and not totally sedated, for the procedure, I was rather freaked out.

Ah! I don’t want to feel that!

But alas. I did.

You guys. Fight for sedation. This was HORRIBLE.

I was given Versed and Fentanyl in an IV for the procedure. Despite being a little loopy, I felt EVERYTHING.

I remember the following:

  • Dr. said, “Okay Candace, you’re going to feel the speculum” (whatever. Doesn’t hurt)
  • Dr. said, “Okay, you’re gonna feel some warm water” (which was quite pleasant!)
  • Dr. said, “Okay, sharp stick” (A;SLDFKN A;SKDJFH ;AKSHF; AKSFH; AKSDFH ;AKSHF! )
    • NO. No, not a sharp stick. A sword into your vagina. That’s what it was. A giant, massive sword full of pain juice.
    • I saw the needle. I swear I did. It was like, 10 inches long. Why did they let me see it?!
  • Everyone said, “Keep breathing…relax your knees…deep breaths…I just gave you more meds” (no way. No. They didn’t do ANYTHING)
    • Can I just say the worst worst part was that I knew they had to do the other ovary the entire time? So even when it seemed to subside for a sec, I knew they’d be repeating the entire thing on the other side. Gosh darnit.

I wish I’d blacked out. That would’ve been excellent. Alas, I did not. The only thing the meds helped with were causing me to rest my eyes when it was done, as I don’t remember being wheeled back to recovery. But that was it.

Now, the pain was gone immediately after the procedure. It was ONLY during it that I was dying. Even now, a day later, I’m totes okay.


Recovery

So, I came to in the recovery area where my husband was reunited with me.

He had to go do his thing when they took me back. Let me recommend a photo shoot with husband ahead of time, to give him some material to work with – if you know what I mean!

I remember the nurse asking which type of soda I wanted, and telling her Ginger Ale. Then I remember drinking it. It was lovely.

Doctor came in shortly thereafter and said they got 10 eggs.

Ugh. I was hoping for more.

But! I haven’t fully processed, to be honest. So. I’ll leave it at that, for now.

They were good enough to wheel me to our car, and then we drove home. The car ride was just fine – no pain, as meds were still in me.

We stopped by Chick Fil A. I was famished. It was awesomesauce.

When we got home, I went STRAIGHT to bed for about 5 hours, with my heating pad. Oh man. I’d been looking forward to that sleep.

As the meds wore off, I felt a little sore. Nothing at all like a typical period with endometriosis, though. I’ve not been actually miserable even once. I’m totally fine. I wouldn’t even call it discomfort. That’s overused and meant to be a veiled reference to basically dying.


Day 1 Update

This brings us to today.

I got a call this morning from the doctor that:

  • Of the 10 retrieved,
    • 7 were mature
      • 5 fertilized with ICSI

Ooooh man. I don’t know how to feel! I’m so unsure. I wanted more. I expected more. I have so many “what if” questions floating in my head.

I also do trust the Lord. I know He is good no matter what happens.

My biggest thing is this wait. I know it will pale in comparison to the TWW, if we get to transfer an embryo.

I won’t hear from them until Thursday. They’ll let the embies rest tomorrow, undisturbed. So. I’m trying to distract myself.

Wow. Not easy! Everything sucks right now.

Not interested in my books, movies, shows, etc.

Raise your hand if you’ve been here before!


Before I go, let me entertain you with a few silly videos of me before and after.

And, as always, thank you for reading!

On our way…

This video is Sean talking to me after I got back to recovery.

Me, interviewing myself…a tad bit more awake than above.

On our way home

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22 thoughts on “IVF Update

  1. Good luck with your journey. After 4years TTC and 3 years being seen by specialists I’m now on a month’s waiting list for ivf, this was great as you are honest and prepares me for what’s to come. X

  2. I just started on here and was looking for others doing through the same thing that I have been going through. I just wanted to wish you good luck!!! Hope everything goes as planned!!!

  3. Girl, you are a WARRIOR! I was knocked out for my retrieval and had a lovely panic-fueled meltdown beforehand. Fingers crossed the retrieval goes well and TWW isn’t too torturous! Hang in there!

  4. OMG HOW ARE YOU SO FULL OF THIS WONDERFUL KNOWLEDGE?!?!

    I contacted my IVF coordinator and asked about brands! Hopefully I can save some money!!

    The test was so uncomfortable, but my uterus was finally perfect! For the first time in almost two years. No obstructions or polyps! I’m officially baby ready!

  5. Hang in there! It is so worth it in the end. I gave birth to IVF twins 2 weeks ago and I promise it’s worth every shot and procedure.

    Carly at A Modern Mom Blog

  6. Oooooh my gosh I don’t know!!! Seriously no clue. I even know two women who used my clinic a few years ago and they were put out! I’m just so so glad it’s over😌

  7. Oh man!! Was it terrible? I hope not! Did they say everything looked good?

    With my meds, I did a couple things that ultimately help save thousands of dollars.

    First, you should totally apply for Compassionate Care. The makers of gonal-f have created that program as a discount program where folks can qualify for either 25%, 50%, or 75% off of their products. Worst case, if you don’t qualify at all, you can still get a 10% rebate. Makes a huge difference! Also, applying is literally a five-minute process. Just make sure you have the tax document they mention on their website already loaded onto your computer. Then it’s a breeze and they get back to you really quickly!

    Second, I called every single pharmacy that accepts Compassionate Care, based on Compassionate Care’s list, including pharmacies out of state for me. I’m in South Carolina. The biggest piece of advice I would give when calling anywhere out of your state is to ask whether they will ship to your state. Each pharmacy has certain rules they have to abide by which can hinder them being able to help. But don’t fret about them being out of state otherwise, as most will overnight things. I didn’t get a single medication from in-state.

    Third, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or IVF nurse if they will allow you to be fluid with which brands they have prescribed. For example, my Pharmacy was fine if I used Pregnyl or Novarel for my trigger shot. When it came to progesterone suppositories, they were okay if I used Crinone 8% gel or Endometrin. The only difference between the two is Crinone is used once per day, whereas Endometrin is used twice a day. However, Endometrin is hundreds of dollars cheaper! Bottom line, there are a lot of equivalent medications out there and depending on which one you ask a pharmacy for a quote, you can get pretty different prices. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the phone when I was researching.

    As for who I used, I put these numbers together for you. This was one month ago. Pricing changes frequently but hopefully this will be close enough for you to do some comparison. These are who I nailed down for the big medications, out of every single pharmacy listed on Compassionate Care’s website (who ship to SC):

    Gonal-F 450 unit redi-ject pen: $392.50 (each) w/25% off from C. Care. Austin’s Pharmacy. 410-377-5300

    HCG 10,000 units (Pregnyl)= $103. Encompass Rx. 404-528-1728

    Menopur= $76.86 each. Freedom Pharmacy. 800.660.4283

    I hope this helps and doesn’t overwhelm! Feel free to ask any questions!

  8. I survived! Haha it was pretty uncomfortable. I’m sending my list of meds to a few local pharmacies for quotes. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!! My IVF coordinator said once I get the prices she may try to price match for me.

  9. Aw. You will make it regardless. Just got to keep telling yourself that.

    Do you know where you will be getting your meds from? I research the crap out of all of it and found quite a few for pretty good rates I’d be glad to share 🙂

  10. I hope it isn’t awful. My poor uterus has been through hell! Lol

    Cetrotide prevents early ovulation, I believe! I’m going to ask a million questions today.

  11. Well…hopefully it will be easy!!! I’m so sorry-not trying to freak you out! It felt so very similar to me when I had mine on Valentine’s Day. I’ll say a prayer for you!

    What is the cetrotide for? I’ve seen that other people get prescribed it.

  12. Yeah! I did the HSG but they told me this would be easy 😳 I’m taking an 800mg ibuprofen before just in case.

    She sent my med list yesterday: Gonal-F, Novarel, Cetrotide, and Menopur

  13. Ahhh!!!! Okay, that procedure is kind of a doozy. Did they say you could take some pain meds ahead of time? Like, for Advil? Just breathe through it. It doesn’t take long. And also bring along some feminine pads.

    So exciting you have your schedule!! Did they tell you all your meds?

  14. Oh my goodness. I can only imagine!!
    I just got my schedule yesterday. I’m going in for a sono-hyst this morning! I’m on schedule for egg retrieval the week of April 16 😱😳

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