Preliminary Biopsy Report

I received a call today from the nurse, she stated that they had received the biopsy report. It was really quick only a week after the biopsy sample was sent for analysis. She was only able to give me preliminary results via phone as we have to wait for our appointment to find out more information. Overall, 4 out of the 5 biopsied embryos had normal results and one was abnormal. I am very grateful that we decided to have a biopsy done on the embryos because this might explain the miscarriages we had.

Now knowing the report is available I am even more anxious. I have so many questions that I want to ask. At least we know for sure that we will be able to get all the results next week.

Our Infertility Journey Prior to IVF

I wanted to share with you a bit more in depth about our infertility journey prior to us deciding to proceed with IVF.

In December of 2015, we made our visit to our first infertility clinic after over 2 years of trying to conceive. During this meeting, the doctor explained how we would both have to undergo testing to determine our health. The test included your typical blood work, the glucose testing, biopsy of my uterus lining, etc. We came back in February 2016 to discuss the results. We were diagnosed with “unexplained” infertility. The doctor drafted a treatment plan starting with “timed intercourse” as our first steps. Our first round of this treatment was on July 2016. You had to come in for blood work and an ultrasound on the 2nd to 3rd day of your menstrual cycle. Once the results were analyzed, you had to begin taking Clomid for a certain amount of days and then I was to administer a trigger shot. Approximately a week later, I would head to the doctor’s office for a progesterone level test (blood test). I received a call later that Monday, which stated that I had an increased levels of progesterone and I had to return to the office in two days to assure that the levels were doubling. I was very excited to hear this news, however, I wanted to keep this to myself. Wednesday came, I went to the doctor for the blood work to find out if the levels were increasing. The call came later on that day stating that the levels had not increased and I should be expecting my menstrual cycle soon. I was heartbroken but optimistic because we had a great result with the round of “timed intercourse”.

With great hopes were tried the “timed intercourse” for an additional round. This round was unsuccessful. We met with our doctor again to discuss our next option. At this time the doctor recommended that we try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This procedure is similar to the “timed intercourse” but with an additional step. We both had to go to the doctor’s office a day or two after the trigger was administered to then have the nurse complete the intrauterine insemination. The first round of IUI was conducted in September of 2016 and was unsuccessful. We tried another round in October of 2016, which was also unsuccessful.

During this time, we decided to seek a second opinion. We met with the other doctor in November 2016. This doctor ran all the exams again: blood work, biopsy, etc. This doctor came to the same conclusion, undiagnosed infertility with possible mild endometriosis. He recommended to begin IVF since we have tried every other possible treatment. During this time in our personal lives, I was entering the last year of my graduate program and did not think it would be wise to begin IVF.

Fast forward to February of 2018, I had started to have food aversions and feeling nauseous. I decided to take a pregnancy test just to see. I did a total of four and all four there was a light second line. I did not know how to feel or react. My husband was away and I did not know what to do. My pregnancy tests were expired and I wasn’t sure if that could have something to do with it. I wanted to wait a bit longer to see if the second line would darken. My menstrual cycle was about a week late and I decided to check again. This time there was no second line. My menstrual cycle appeared a few days later. That is when I decided that I was not going to wait until it happened on it’s own and I was tired of waiting.

We were not completely satisfied with the second doctor we had. Therefore, we changed to the current doctor we have now. We met with this doctor due to a recommendation from a very dear person. Our appointment was in July of 2018. Our consult was at 3:00 pm and only scheduled to be 40 minutes. We did not leave her office until 5:30 pm. She did not rush during our consult, she took her time to read and explain to us all the steps and procedures we were going to encounter during the IVF process. SHE IS INCREDIBLE! We couldn’t be happier with her.

They say things happen for a reason and when they are meant to happen.

Waiting from Day 0 to Day 5/6

The waiting from retrieval day (Day 0) to Day 5/6 of the embryos was not as terrible as I thought. It could be that I kept my mind occupied with other things, like work, or if I was focused on recovering. During this time, I was preparing for a fresh transfer, which consisted of inserting a vaginal progesterone cream and pill. At the injection class, they tell you to place the pill on the progesterone cream applicator to make it easier. However, it was not as easy as they seemed. The pill would melt or get stuck on the applicator. Ugh it was so frustrating. I just kept telling myself, “you can only do your best”. Someone did give me a really good idea, unfortunately I was not able to test it. She recommended to place the pill in the freezer or the refrigerator for about 10 minutes prior to inserting it to see if the pill will not fall apart. In case you find yourself in a similar situation, you may want to try it. I was instructed to begin in the morning 2 days post retrieval with the progesterone cream only. Beginning on Friday, I was to administer the cream twice a day and the pill once in the morning. Also mentioned during the injection class was that the your body will not absorb all the medication, and it was recommended for you to wear a panty liner. Throughout this process, every day was different, there were days that I did not have discharge and others that I did. Even to this day, I continue to discharge the medication as my body is adjusting and preparing for the cleansing. FYI, the cap of the progesterone cream applicator is removable… don’t ask LOL.

7th Day Results

We received the call around 9 in the morning on Wednesday, stating that the 6th embryo in culture did not make it. Although I was a bit disappointed, I am very happy with the results of the stimulation. Out of the 10 matured embryos, 5 out of the 10 embryos were biopsied and cryopreserved (frozen). Now we wait… 2 to 3 weeks for the results of the biopsy and for further information on transfer, ahhhhhhhh.

Day 6 Update

Today, we received an update of the progress of our embryos. As far as embryo development as of Friday we had 8, 4 very strong, 2 good, and 2 weak. At 7:30 this morning, I received a call canceling our potential fresh transfer. Around 11, I received a voice mail message stating that we had 5 successful embryo biopsies and  cryopreservation. We have a 6th embryo in culture for an additional 24 hours. Tomorrow, we will receive the final count!!!

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This picture was taken in the lobby of the doctor’s office the day of retrieval.

Retrieval

Retrieval Day is HERE!!! The day before the retrieval you meet with a medical assistant, they tell you what to wear (pants, socks, full underwear). I wore my Retrieve Believe Conceive shirt from Bitty and Boho, black pajama pants, and my Jack socks from Jill (instagram handle mydisneyart21) that read “Baby Super Freak”. All the nurses and the doctor loved them. We got to the doctor’s office at the exact time they asked us to be there. They called me in a few minutes later. Surprisingly, I was calm. My blood pressure was in the normal range, which never happens when I got to the IVF doctor. They had me go to the restroom to empty my bladder and undress from the waist down. I was given a gown to wear, I sat on the chair, and the preparation began. The needle for the IV was difficult. At first they found a vein on my hand that would of been perfect, however, the vein collapsed. Ugh! So the nurse went for a vein on the wrist. As the nurse was inserting the needle, I began to see stars. Thank goodness she was able to get the vein. Shortly after she inserted the needle, I began to feel nauseous, hot, I began to sweat and felt like I was going to pass out. They began to fan me and gave me alcohol pads to help. It wasn’t working but thankfully the individual that was going to administer the anesthesia walked in to give me something to help. When my doctor arrived, we spoke briefly and she sent my husband out of the room. I actually did not know that the anesthesia had already been administer and before I knew it they were waking me up. According to the nurse’s report, the first thing I said once coming out of anesthesia was, “I want a burger and fries”, apparently I was really hungry. Secondly, the nurse informed me about the amount of follicles that were removed, there were 22, my remark to that news was, “I want them all”. After that, I was moved to the recovery room were I sat and drank my Gatorade. In order to be sent home you had to use the restroom. We were walking out of the doctor’s office about 2 hours later. The remainder of the day was resting since I was on bed rest for 24 hours.

Overall, the experience was pleasant. In the hours following I did feel soreness and the doctor said it was like having 22 bruise on my ovaries. The day following was a bit difficult, I felt sore and bloated the whole day. The 3rd day after the retrieval was better.

Stimulation

WOW!! I totally underestimated the stimulation process.

I began the process on August 10th, with two injections a day (Gonal F and Menopur). The Gonal F was not difficult to administer, the needle was tiny and no mixing was required. The Menopur, on the other hand, required me to mix and the administration burned a bit. At least that is how my body reacted to this injection. For the upcoming 10 days, my appointments would consist of ultrasounds and blood work. The ultrasound was to measure the uterus lining, the cervix, and the size of the follicles. The blood work was to check my estrogen levels.

I returned to the doctor on Monday, August 13th (Day 4 of stimulation). I was very nervous to see how the follicles were growing and to find out if I was administering the medications correctly. Later that evening I had to check my voicemail to find out my instructions for medication and when my next appointment would be. The instructions for Monday were the same as Friday to administer the Gonal F and the Menopur. The voicemail also stated that all was going well and that I was to come back to the office on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, August 15th (Day 6 of stimulation), I felt cramps and pressure when arriving at the doctor office. I had a feeling the third injection Cetrotide, which will prolong your ovulation, would most likely have to be administered. Throughout the day, I experienced discomfort and my ovaries felt heavy. Later that evening, I heard my voicemail and the instructions stated that I was to administer the three injections (Gonal F, Menopur, and Cetrotide) and a oral medication to help in the inflammation. In addition, the voicemail stated I was to return to the office on Thursday, August 16th. The administration of the Cetrotide was difficult. This medication did have to be mixed and burned more than the Menopur.

On Thursday, August 16th (Day 7 of stimulation) the veins in my arm were beginning to bruise. The nurse was very patient and was able to retrieve the blood required. During the ultrasound, the nurse stated that my left ovary had produced larger follicles and more quantity than compared to my right, which I thought was really interesting. Later that evening my voice message stated that I was doing well and that I would be returning on Saturday.

Thursday and Friday injections went well. I continued with the three injections and it was getting a little easier to administer. I began to bruise on the left side on my stomach from the injections.

On Saturday, August 18th (Day 8 of stimulation), my husband went with me to this appointment. During the blood work they could no longer retrieve blood from my left arm due to the bruising. For the ultrasound, the nurse stated that my follicles were getting to a good size. My husband was impressed to see the progress we had made. During this appointment, the nurse mentioned that it was time to get the trigger shot, Novarel. The Novarel is a intramuscular injection, which requires mixing depending on the instructions of the nurse. The nurse mentioned that a voicemail would be left indicating if to give myself one more day of stimulation or the trigger. Later that evening, the voicemail instructions were to provide myself the stimulation injections (Gonal F, Menopur, and Cetrotide) and to return to the office on Sunday, August 19th.

On Sunday’s visit, my doctor was present. She told me that she was very impressed with my progress. Once the appointment was over, my husband and I were anticipating the voicemail to begin the trigger shot. We received a call later that afternoon that the Novarel was to be administered exactly at 8:45 that evening and my retrieval was scheduled for Tuesday, August 21st at 7:45. A voicemail was left stating that I was to go to the office on Monday, August 20th for blood work and instructions.

OMG!!!! It was actually happening!!!! I can’t believe it that we are finally here!!!

On August 10th, I did not feel like myself. I was extremely focused to the tasks, and anxious to hear what the doctor had to say. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to begin stimulation. It was the strangest feeling, at the same time of being focused I would pace back and forth and I was speaking at a accelerated rate. Days 1 to 6 of stimulation were not too bad. Although the Menopur burned during administation it wasn’t unbearable. The needle for the Menopur was thicker than the Gonal F, however, it was something I got used to. Now the Cetrotide, that was a completely different story. First off, the medication amount that was to be administered was more than Gonal F and Menopur medication amount. Once the needle began to break the skin, it felt like it was burning until the needle was complete inserted and the medication was administered. As the days progressed, it did get slightly easier. One of the main reason was because I learned the more skin I pinched, the less it burned. I found that breathing through the process and inserting the medication in a slow and steady pace also helped. At one point, my husband saw me in pain stated that it could be contributed to the fact that I was not administering the medication fast enough. I tried that and I ended up bruising. After that, I told him if he kept telling me what to do, I was going to administer the left over medication to him to see how he felt.

Overall, I never thought I could make it through this process. Injecting yourself with 2 to 3 medications for a total of 9 to 10 days, NEVER thought I could do it. As the days progressed, I continued to tell myself “one day less!” I also had a great support team composed of my husband, family, and friend that reassured me that all is going to be ok.

The Nerves

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This week is a very exciting week for us. On Friday, my husband and I will begin our first day of stimulation. I cant help but feel both excited and nervous to begin this journey. 

Here is a bit of our story. My husband and I have been trying to begin a family since 2013. During this time I was in graduate school and working full time. We obtained several medical opinions in our quest. We participate in several procedures to obtain a family. We had several positive pregnancy tests with miscarriages shortly after. This emotional roller coaster was more than we could bare at times. What kept adding to the emotions were people asking, “When are you having a baby?”

April 2018, we decided enough is enough!!! We are going to target this problem head on. After running all the exams for the third time, tests revealed no medical issues or concerns. SO WHAT IS GOING ON!?!?!?! We decided that we are tired of trying and being unsuccessful, therefore, we decided to begin the IVF process. 

If you are interested in following this process with us, we will be documenting our journey here.