One day left.

One more day of what feels like the longest two week wait ever. Just over 14 hours and I will be at the clinic getting my bloods taken and for the first time ever, I can’t wait. I want to see the numbers now. I can tell you right now, I am more pregnant than I have ever been before. I took a HPT (well actually, a lot of them) and it’s the darkest I’ve ever had.

I just need to see the numbers now, to make sure things are going in the right direction…

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The Catch Up – The TWW Begins (pt. 5 of 5)

Following my FET on Tuesday Feb. 6th, I was put on bedrest for three days and as I had taken Friday off as well, that day pretty much was spent watching Netflix as well. I am going to list my symptom spotting below, day by day, as this is what I use to look back on from cycle to cycle for reference.

1dp5dt – I was having twinges/full feeling in my uterus area, a headache, I was gassy, had a headache, and my breasts were definitely tender; though, I assume that is from all of the progesterone I have been taking.

2dp5dt – Continued having twinges/full feeling in uterus area, woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep, vivid dreams, sore/dry throat, congested, cried easily, peeing a lot, one dizzy spell, mild breast tenderness.

3dp5dt – full feeling, twinges/cramping, woke up early again, sore/dry throat, runny nose, watery mouth, nausea began in afternoon, hip pain, shooting pain in left breast, mild breast tenderness, shortness of breath, shooting pain in vagina (lightening crotch as I’ve seen it called lol).

4dp5dt – full feeling starting in afternoon, queasy, mild disinterest in food, woke up multiple times throughout the night, twinges, sweating/hot flashes, stuffy nose, dry throat, watery mouth, tired, shortness of breath, random bout of heart racing while resting, hip pain, mild back pain, gassy, sore vagina, gentle stabbing feeling in uterus.

5dp5dt – vivid dreams, woke up early, full feeling, runny/stuffy nose, sensitive nipples, nausea (almost threw up due to mucous), minor sensitivity to smells, dizzy, nipple zaps, burpy/gassy, cramps, sore lower back, sore hips, sore legs, hot flashes. *becoming hopeful about this cycle*

6dp5dt – woke up early, hot at night, full/pulling feeling in uterus, sharp twinges, nausea that varied throughout the day, smells are overwhelming, cramping, stuffy nose, cramps that feels like burning, bloated, headache, shortness of breath, get tired easily, sweating after minor activity, very cold at bedtime.

7dp5dt – stuffy nose, cough, woke up early, cramping that feels like burning, nausea (gagged on vitamines), shortness of breath, slight disinterest in food, sore back, very tired, smells still somewhat overwhelming, shooting pain in uterus when standing quickly (twice), feeling cold, irritable, left nipple is larger.

8dp5dt – nauseous all day, dizzy, smells slightly overwhelming at times, feeling cold, shooting pain when standing (once), tired, sore back, irritable, headache, sweating after minimal activity, crampy/burning feeling, slightly more emotional.

9dp5dt – woke up early, cramping/burning feeling, bloated, pulling feeling, stuffy nose, vivid dreams, night sweats, dizziness, lightning crotch, shortness of breath, tired midday, hip pain, metallic taste in mouth, heartburn, nauseous at times (most often after activity or eating), itchy nipple, appetite increasing in comparison to previous few days, constipated. *starting to get worried as symptoms seem to be lessening, are not as consistent throughout the day*

So that’s it for now, as usual the past nine days of my (literal) two week wait have been an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions. At times I am extremely hopeful, at times I assume that if it did work it is now ending anyway as a chemical pregnancy, then there are other times I find myself imaginging that this will work and thinking about the future. I wish I could sleep through the entire two weeks so that I don’t have to go through the mental anguish of it all.

Either way, I go for my beta testing on 14dp5dt, which is coming up (EVER SO SLOWLY!!) on Tuesday Feb 20th…

Bah!

The Catch Up – FET Cycle #6 (pt. 4 of 5)

After our mock cycle, which ended at the start to mid-December, we took a short break over the Christmas Holiday so that we would not be stressed out during that time of year. We were instructed to call the clinic on Jan 2nd to see what our next steps were.

Over the holiday, I did not get a withdrawal bleed from the mock cycle; which, had me quite worried as that had never happened before. Mind you, being that I don’t get a natural cycle, I wasn’t entirely shocked. The timing was awesome considering both of my clinics (the big clinic and my monitoring clinic) were obviously closed the whole time; so I turned to Dr. Google and determined that the likely cause was because I was not taking any progesterone with the mock cycle. When I called them on Jan 2nd, the nurse told me she would talk to the Doctor and get back to me. When she did, she informed me that I was to go in the following Tuesday for an ultrasound and bloods, just to see where I was at.

When I went in the next week, they did a ‘quick’ scan (as quick as they can be when they ALWAYS have difficulty finding my ovaries) and bloods, then proceeded to tell me that they needed my and my husband’s yearly bloodwork to be completed and consent forms to be signed (and witnessed at the clinic) before we could move forward on another cycle. Now, this doesn’t phase me whatsoever; however, my husband has an intense fear of needles – I give myself all of my injections as he doesn’t even like to see it (that being said, he has offered repeatedly to help if needed, I’ve just refused as he’d probably pass out or something HA!). Thankfully, over the years, I seem to have gotten it through to him that he needs to suck it up for his ONCE A YEAR bloodwork, and he only complained minimally. So once we had gotten through those tasks, we were told my scans were fine and I could begin a cycle as soon as the other results were in. I was told to expect to be waiting approx. 2 weeks for the results, which had me a little bit worried as February was a very busy month for us with my husband having numerous kidney stone procedures and appointments.

*Side note on the kidney stones* – folks, I need to admit here that I had assumed my husband’s pain tolerance was rather low, especially since he has been complaining about his kidney stone pain for nearly a year now while waiting for all sorts of various Doctor/Specialist appointments. Turns out I owed him a huge apology. He ended up in the Hospital Emergency Room one night and while we were there, the ER Doctor informed us that two other men were in that evening with kidney stones that measured 0.4cm; however, my husband’s largest (as he has many) was measuring 1.7cm and was completely blocking his ureter. She didn’t know how he had managed to not come in prior to that.

Now, back to the cycle… our bloodwork came back within a week and we were given the go ahead to start an FET cycle. As I do not have a natural cycle, I was told to just pick a day I wanted to start. I picked two days later. So on Friday Jan. 19, I returned to the monitoring clinic and had another scan and round of bloodwork that they were considering CD 3. I heard back that afternoon with the following protocol:

  • Estrace tablets (vaginally) 2mg twice per day for the first 5 days, then increase to 4mg twice per day
  • Estradot Patches 100mg per day
  • Aspirin 81mg/Prenatal vitamin/Vit E/Vit B
  • After 5 days, first intrauterine infusion of Neupogen 300IU, repeated every 3 days (3 infusions total)
  • Five days before transfer, begin taking Endometrin Vaginal Suppositories 100mg three times per day AND Progesterone in Oil 50mg (or 1cc) every other day

I feel the need to share a little about my Neupogen Infusions this time around; actually, to be more precise, my first Neupogen Infusion for this cycle. For my mock cycle, my Doctor was the one who complete all three of my infusions, so when a female Doctor walked in an introduced herself, I was taken aback. THEN, the things that came out of this woman’s mouth had me in shock! As she was getting prepared, she was making small talk and asking me about my previous experience with the infusions. I told her that I had experienced some severe back spasms following my first infusion but had not had any on the susequent treatments. I carried on to tell her that it wasn’t the spasms I was concerned with at that moment, it was the pain of having the catheter forced through my cervix that was giving me some anxiety. She proceeded to tell me that people don’t usually feel the catheter at all and that I must be sensitive. Which she then proceeded to follow up with “you should definitely get yourself an early epidural then if you can’t even handle this!”

I could not believe she had the audacity to say that to me, knowing what field she is working in, and it’s not a fucking guarantee that I’ll ever even make it to that stage!! She then gets busy doing the infusion (which hilariously enough I didn’t actually feel this time) and states “you must be taking estrogen vaginally, looks like a smurf down here!” WHAT!? Keeping in mind my husband and I have actually made numerous jokes about my smurf vagina when I am taking estrogen, this was coming from a medical professional who currently had her face between my legs – and who had already JUST insulted me. I was shocked to say the least. Thankfully, I had two different Doctors for my subsequent Neupogen infusions and I never saw that woman again.

I didn’t have another scan to check my lining until two hours before my third Neupopgen Infusion, so I was a little worried not being monitored more regularly.

The morning of that scan, everything was seeming to go wrong. My drive to the clinic takes approx. 2 hours, depending on traffic and depending on what our crazy Canadian winter happens to be dishing out that day for weather. Thankfully, although it was cold, the snow seemed to be holding off and I made it to my appointment right on time – where I proceeded to wait for over an hour to be called back for my scan. I’m pretty sure they forgot about me, so when I was the last person in the waiting room, I kindly reminded them that I was there. They took me back and had the quick scan, unfortunately the ultrasound technicians that the big clinic don’t tell you what your measurement is, so I had to wait again to speak to a nurse. While I was waiting, I went to the front desk to pay for my Neupogen Infusion. As soon as the payment went throuogh, the nurse came to get me, and informed me that I would need to get a refund. I was so confused, when she got me back to her office, she told me that my lining was at 8mm!!!!! I know this might not seem too crazy for most of you, but 7mm was nearly impossible for me to reach, I had never ever seen 8mm before!

She instructed me that rather than have my third Neupogen infusion, I was to start the progesterone that day, and I would be in on Friday for transfer. I was so happy. I went to get my refund, and then left. As my luck would dictate, I was called by the nurse approx. 10 minutes later and informed that I would need to do the third infusion, as Friday was took booked up for transfers, and they would need to push me to the following Tuesday; therefore, another Neupogen infusion and a delay in starting the progesterone. She asked that I come back the next day for the Neupogen, but I told her I was just around the block, and would return in ten minutes to have it done.

I was told to return the following Sunday to have a Matris Scan completed to check the quality of my lining. The results came back the following day at 7/10, which is standard for me. I was scheduled for my transfer at 12:45 on Tues February 6th.

The transfer went off without a hitch, and I remained on bedrest for three days as per my Doctor’s orders.

The Catch Up – Mock Cycle (pt. 3 of 5)

It seems as though once I finally got back to writing, I am not stopping until we’re all caught up…

Following our failed FET Cycle #5 I asked my RE about finally giving Neupogen a try. He suggested this a long time ago but then chose not to as it does carry some additional risks as it is a white cell growth factor. Essentially, it will speed up cell growth and therefore, if there are dormant cancer cells there is a possibility that it could wake them up (for lack of a better term). Ironically enough, Neupogen is most widely used in cancer treatments.

Although there are clearly additional risks, I was (am) desperate. You see, we had 6 blastocysts from our donor eggs and had already used up 4 of them. Meaning we had only TWO left after 5 cycles (one got cancelled). So to say I was panicking would be putting it lightly.

My RE finally agreed to let us move forward with using Neupogen in a mock cycle to see how I would respond. Starting mid-November 2017 he used the following protocol to rest our my response to the new drug:

  • Estrace tablets 2mg twice per day (vaginally) for first 5 days, then increased to 4mg twice per day
  • Estradot patches 100mg per day
  • After 5 days, get first intrauterine infusion of Neupogen 300IU
  • Neupogen to be repeated every 3 days (3 infusions total)

I had my first lining check completed on the same day of (a few hours before) my third infusion and it was 7.4mm. Again, this measurement was done at my monitoring clinic which tends to measure slightly thicker than it is. After my third infusion, I waited six days before returning to my main clinic for another measurement check which turned out to be 7mm. Now, this is from a girl who struggles to hit 7mm…ever. Although this was clearly an improvement, I was disappointed that it wasn’t thicker as my measurement a few days before hand was 7.4mm.

Although I felt disappointed, my RE felt that this was an improvement and that we should move ahead with a cycle in the new year. He also eventually admitted to me that he hadn’t expected it to work at all but figured he’d try anything for me as (in my words) was such a lost cause.

Neupogen for IF/FET is still fairly new out there so I wanted to write about my experience with it. From what I have read, there as two ways to take Neupogen; as an injection (which I have no experience with) and as an intrauterine wash. From what I hear, the intrauterine wash is a similar process to an IUI; though, as we moved straight to donor egg ivf, I have no experience with this. The catheter for the infusion was the worst part overall, it hurt a bit going in each time. Also, the medication itself is to be kept refrigerated so the cold medication causes your uterus to cramp a bit as it goes in.

After my first infusion, I also experienced some severe back spasms about 10-15 minutes afterwards. In had just gotten into my car when they started and let me tell you, it was somewhat terrifying and incredibly painful. They lasted about 5 minutes or so before going away. Thankfully, I had been messaging a very dear friend of mine when it started and she kept me calm.

I did some fairly significant research and discovered only 1.02% of people taking Neupogen suffer from muscle spasms shortly after the medication is administered. So of course I would fall into that rare category! Other side effects that I had were joint/muscle pain (minor) and some slight nausea.

*Read my next post for my other experience with Neupogen.*

The Catch Up – FET Cycle #5 (pt. 2 of 5)

We’re going to flashback to September/October 2017 now and I’m going to take a quick minute to update you all on FET cycle #5.

We started our cycle shortly after the start of September as we wanted the summer off to just relax. I had done the same thing the year prior and I ended up having the best summer ever. This summer was really nice as well and we got to do a number of camping trips, cottage weekends, visits with friends and family; which turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.

So once September started, we chose to start trying again. This cycle, they had me on The following meds:

– CD 3-7: Estrace 2mg twice per day (vaginally) and Estradot patch 100mg every day

– CD 8-End: Estrace increase to 4mg twice per day (vaginally) and Estradot patch 100mg every day

– CD 15-16: Added Prgesterone in Oil (25mg or 0.5cc) every night @ 7pm

– CD 17-End: Increased Progesterone in Oil (50mg or 1cc) every night @ 7pm and added Endometrin Progesterone Vaginal Suppositories 100mg twice per day

– CD 18-22: Added Medrol (corticosteroids)

– CD 18-End: Added Fragmin (heparin injection) daily

Two days before transfer, I had another Matris ultrasound done to check my lining and the score came back at 7/10 (lowest they’ll transfer with is a 6/10).

Although they initially measured my lining at 7mm at my monitoring clinic, we ended up transferring with a lining of 6.5. (Scans at monitoring clinic tend to read slightly thicker, RE thinks their machine might be older or they are doing scans a bit differently.

We transferred a single embryo (not allowed to transfer more than one per cycle due to local regulations) on CD 20. I had to wait 14 days to complete our first Beta and cracked around 7dp5dt and took a HPT…BFN. I honestly hadn’t had high expectations but was still crushed.

Symptoms during that wait were petty all over the place, but I don’t doubt it was because of all of the different meds I was taking. Here was my list: nauseated on and off, some odd twinges at times, crap sleep, tender boobs, and of course I caught a cold at that time (which is a guaranteed TWW issue for me, without fail).

However, the cycle was a bust. Again. Man, infertility really wears a person down (was going to write ‘wears a person thin’ HA(!) that’s the opposite of what I’m getting!

The Catch Up – Going MIA (pt. 1 of 5)

It’s been five months, FIVE(!) since I’ve written here. This is due to a few different reasons; so let me explain…

One: My tablet sucked. Everything was slow and I would type something out and then have to sit there and wait for the words to actually appear on the screen. This was extremely frustrating to deal with; especially since the moments when I was wanting to write the most, I usually wasn’t in the best of headspace. That being said, after Christmas there was a significant sale on a new tablet that I wanted, so I bit the bullet and treated myself; I had my sister order the tablet for me as she lives in the and town as this store and was willing to pick it up rather than pay for shipping. Unfortunately, this didn’t go according to plan.

The company I was forced to order from (everyone else was already sold out) processed the order but didn’t actually have any in stock; which I was actually perfectly ok waiting for as I still wanted to sell my old tablet. Well fast forward to 6 weeks, many phone calls, emails, and store visits later and I still did not have my new tablet. They initially told me that it would be in stock in a approx 2 weeks. Then, they told me that by Jan 28th it would be in. At this point I had been looking at their current sales flyer and noticed that they had the tablet on sale again (although nowhere close to the discount I got during Boxing Day sales) so how the actual heck could they have something on sale that they couldn’t actually seem to get in stock?! My sister went back to the store on Jan 31 and was then told that they hadn’t gotten their stock in and that we were now looking at receiving it FEBRUARY 26!! That’s TWO months after I ordered it, with no guarantee that it would be in then.

My sister very generously offered to cancel the order and purchase the tablet from a different store for me and cover the difference of how much I had gotten it on sale for. Although it was a very kind offer, I in no way wanted this to cost her anything as she had done everything as a favour to me already. I told her I would wait until the end of February and just see how it all played out.

A week later, while sitting on bed rest from a recent FET (more on this later), I was startled by a knock at my door. My amazing sister had sneakily cancelled my order and purchased me my tablet from Amazon and had it shipped right to me! I have to tell you, I cried. A lot. I phone her immediately and all she said was that she wanted me to have something to do while I was on bed rest. Oh I cried so hard. She laughed but then told me to stop crying because she was at work and I was going to make her cry too!

Two: In addition to having a shitty tablet to use, I had done a lot of my blogging over the years while at work; however, the past while has just been super busy and seems as though there is no time for it anymore.

Three: Lacking motivation. It’s been hard for me to find the motivation to write a woke lot over the past few months as I feel like it’s just been blow after blow for us in this journey. That being said, it is time that I start again, I’ve felt the need for a while now and I’m ready.

So here I am, back at it, with a few more posts coming to tell you about life over the past five months.

The follow-up.

I started writing this post on June 22 but have not come back to complete it until now…

I FINALLY had my follow up appointment – for my March cycle. Yes, you read that correctly. As previously mentioned, my clinic does not reach out to you after a cycle; therefore, it has always been up to me to call them when I am ready. This time it took a little longer for me to reach out and give them a call. When I did, the receptionist asked me if I really needed an appointment or if I could just email her the questions that I had for the Doctor and she would review them with my RE and get back to me. So that’s what I did. I had quite an involved list of questions because, you see, we only have 3 embryos left. Three tries and that’s it as far as I can see. Even if we could as our friend (and egg donor) to go through the process again, we couldn’t afford it; and honestly, I’m not sure if she’d even be willing.

So I sent her the email with our list of questions. It took her a number of days to get back to me, just to have her leave me a voicemail telling me that I indeed need an appointment, she offered me a date (which obviously did NOT work within my schedule as I was out of town speaking at a conference), and proceeded to tell me that she hopes that date works for me as my RE is about to go on a month long vacation and fitting in an appointment right now is difficult. Excuse me?! It wouldn’t have been so difficult if you had booked me an appointment three weeks ago when I had originally asked for one!! I informed her that I would not be able to make the appointment she gave me but she was able to re-book it for the following week; which, happened to be yesterday.

My anxiety began creeping in a week leading up to the appointment. Not that I felt I had anything to worry about, just that it was bringing everything back to reality – you see, I had been sticking my head in the sand since March and had ignored the whole process. Now it was time to face it all over again. Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5:30am and was on the road by 6:15am to make the drive to my clinic for 9am. I really don’t like being late so I gave myself just shy of 3hrs to make the 1h40m drive. Yeah, I’m crazy like that, plus I knew I would be facing some big city rush hour traffic as well so it allowed me for some slowdowns. Well, let me tell you – I was fifteen minutes late for my 9am appointment because of all the traffic/accidents on the way. Cue the stress and anxiety. As my clinic is downtown, I also take the subway system part of the way so that I only have to face the highway craziness, not the downtown drivers as well. Being late meant that I had to RUN the 5 blocks from the subway station to my clinic; and, let me just say – I sweat on a cool day, sitting still…let alone on a high humidity sunny day, running 5 blocks. It was not a pretty sight.

My appointment didn’t get much better from there. Thankfully, I love my RE, he has always been amazing and comforting with everything that we have faced. I apologized to him for being late and his response was “I think we have a long enough relationship for you to be late once!” I appreciated the sentiment but immediately we jumped straight into the deep end of our conversation. He started by telling me that if money weren’t an issue, ideally he would move to discussing surrogacy as this would be the easiest solution for us bringing a healthy baby into this world.

Have you, dear reader of this blog, ever fallen on your back and had the wind knocked out of you? Well, that’s how it felt. 

He immediately clarified that he was not giving up on me, nor would he ever do so; however, it made things very clear as to where his thoughts stand and the likelihood of us ever being successful. Three embryos. That’s it, that’s all we have to work with.

My RE had printed out my list of questions I had sent ahead and went through each point one by one, explaining why we should or shouldn’t try each item. We discussed a number of different medications and have settled on adding in a blood flow medication closer to transfer, in addition to a high dose of ibuprofen and an extra shot of PIO to reduce my uterus from cramping at the time of transfer. We will continue to do the Estrace tablets and patches, as well as the POI injections, and aspirin. He mentioned Viagra again but my last cycle was my most successful lining thickness and we didn’t use the Viagra so he let me off the hook for that one! It’s probably the worst for me, symptom-wise, so it’s best if I don’t have to take it. We will also complete Matris testing again prior to transfer to check the quality of my lining.

He brought up the possibility of doing ERA testing (Endometrial Receptivity) which I’m a bit hesitant to do at this time. He doesn’t think it’s necessary at this point, stating that if we only had one or two embryos he might be more apt to push it. We talked about how our last cycle may have just been a byproduct of statistics; something I had wondered about all along. My lining had been the thickest they had seen it, the embryo looked beautiful, transfer went off without a hitch; yet for some reason our pregnancy test was negative. In my heart I believe it’s because of statistics. Each of our previous cycles had resulted in at least a positive pregnancy test (even if we haven’t made it further than that…) so what were the chances of another positive test when only 60% of transfers work in the first place.  I’m also hesitant to complete the ERA testing because of the cost. The test itself is $1075 to have done PLUS the cost of a cycle’s worth of medication – all to wind up not completing a transfer. Then, if my endometrium isn’t receptive, would I not have to repeat the process again, have another biopsy, spend all the money just to confirm that my endometrium IS receptive on whichever day they think it is?! We just don’t have the money for this right now, just going through with another FET cycle will be pushing our limits right now, so to me, at this stage, it would feel like throwing away money that we don’t have.

So as things stand, we are hoping to go ahead with a cycle starting in September. We’ve taken the summer to just enjoy ourselves, and each other, without the added stress. I think this is the best option for us right now as summer always helps me to refill my happy-meter. I’m nervous about starting another cycle, yet itching to get going. Being in this holding pattern is an odd feeling because part of me feels like we’re wasting time, even though I know it’s what is best for us.

Hope everyone has been enjoying their summer so far!

xo.