Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tunes to Travel By...

D's SA has been scheduled for Monday morning at 10 am. Luckily, we can go to the Melrose Park office, which is about a half an hour closer to home for us, so that's nice. My next visit will be that Thursday... that's when I'll start Lupron.

Starting to feel real.

Since I've got a lot of driving ahead of me over the next couple of months, I've decided that I wanna build an IVF Playlist. I get frustrated with the radio often times. If they're not playing commercials, it seems they're playing the same 5 songs over and over. Our satellite radio is a bit better, but even then... I still find myself channel hopping.

So, this is one of my projects. I'm thinking of putting old songs that have meant something to me over this entire journey,  new songs that either inspire or uplift me and maybe even a few songs that I might sing to my child should this all work out the way we're praying that it will.

I would LOVE to hear what songs other girls leaned on, so to speak, during their journey. I've got a handful in mind already, but with the clinic being a 2 hour drive (without traffic) I've got some space to fill yet. Suggestions, links to YouTube videos in the comments... whatever ya'll wanna do, I'll love it all!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Dreaded Day...

Today is the day I've least been looking forward to. Sonohystogram day. :(

I was pretty much blown off with my Ativan request. I never heard back about it, and it felt like an uphill climb at the first request, so I really didn't feel comfortable pushing it. Plus, when they told me D could come with me, I figured worse case scenario, I'd have him to lean on. I did take 1/2 of one of his klonopin since it's for anxiety, thinking maybe it would help a bit.

My appointment wound up getting pushed back from 1:30 to 3:00. The Dr was gonna be tied up with IVF's, so they needed to push me back. Great... more time to be nervous.

I've gotta say, I thought it was pretty cool that the moment I walked in, the girl at the front desk greeted me by first name. They took a urine sample and then C came and took us back to do our consents.

We decided, obviously, to freeze any extra embies and gave the credit card info for all of those charges. We decided what should happen to the snowbabies should one of us die or both of us die at the same time. We also had to sign that we understand that should we ever separate/divorce, etc. that we would be required to agree on the further disposition of the snowbabies. All pretty standard IVF fare.

Once we got all of that done, we found out that D has to go for his SA (semen analysis) like... ASAP. It's gotta be done during what's considered the "screening period" and that will end at my next visit on May 7th. So, I've gotta call the Melrose Park office first thing tomorrow morning and try to get him scheduled. They only do them on Mondays and Fridays, if I'm not mistaken. C gave me all the contact info and said that I'm to let her know should I have any problems getting it scheduled.

Monkeys... I need to tell you about the monkeys, but it's getting late and I really wanna get this uploaded before it gets much later. So... another time. But yes... monkeys.

Anyway, they come to get me and the nurse tells me D can't come in the room. I pretty much freaked out. Klonopin or no Klonopin... I was bugging. I explained about not getting the Ativan and being told I could have him in the room with me. She said about how the room was small, blah blah blah. So I heavy sighed and relented.

She took me to get my weight, temp & blood pressure. My hands were shaking, afraid I was about to cry. Once she finished she said she was going to speak with the Dr and find out if D could come. I thanked her profusely. She came back and said the Dr said it would be fine. Thank you God!

D, the Dr & 2 assistants get all situated in the room, the Dr does a general physical, breast exam and then it's time for the pap and cultures. Slightly uncomfortable, but nothing bad. Things didn't start to take a turn until it was catheter time, that's when the cramping began. Nothing unbearable, but really uncomfortable. D was holding one hand and when the fluid went in and the pressure intensified, the nurse took my other hand. The moment that intense pressure kicked in, I literally felt my armpits turn on like faucets. Talk about stress sweat.

I was trying to breathe through the cramping, but apparently I started breathing too fast and they had to tell me to slow down so I wouldn't pass out. I think I was all but crushing that nurses hand. They were great though, encouraging me, telling me how well I was doing, how we were almost done, etc.

All told, the sono lasted no more than 5 minutes. The cramping has sucked. I'm still feeling crampy now. But it's done now. I had no fibroids, no polyps, nothing that didn't belong there.

I am so glad D was able to be there for me today. It would've been so much harder having to go through that alone and then having to drive home with those cramps? Yeah, that would've sucked so much ass and I'd have been hating life for the entire 2 hours.

So... one more hurdle down.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Visit #1

Yesterday was the day. Nothing like getting a vaginal ultrasound whilst bleeding... Good times for everyone involved.

Before getting my Crohn's diagnosis, when things were really bad and I was quite sick, my cycles got completely fucked. I'm not surprised... I dropped down to 94 lbs, that kind of weight loss will totally throw a monkey wrench in your cycles. So when they got long and weird, I knew what was causing it.

Once I was under the care of a GI, started getting some form of treatment and putting some weight back on, my cycles seemed to return to their usual 28-29 day length. I haven't peed on a stick or taken my waking temps in I can't even tell you how long... So I really had no idea what my body was actually doing. After being on the TTC Tilt-a-Whirl long enough, one learns that bleeding signifies nothing... you can bleed but not ovulate.

So needless to say, I was a little concerned about what was actually going on inside of me. I'm 40 now, was I still making eggs? I haven't felt O pains in a long time... which also signifies nothing. I've had months were I surely ovulated, but felt nothing. If I was still making eggs, was I making enough to make it into the study?

As I lay there on the table, covered in the largest paper napkin in the world, staring at the ceiling I prayed for follies. I prayed things were still working. The ultrasound tech was pretty quiet, so I envisioned myself sitting with my IVF Coordinator (who shall be referred to as "C")saying "So, how'd we do?"

At around that same time, the tech announced that we were all finished, printed out the images she'd snapped, snipped the appropriate ones, filled out a form and told me that my count and lining both looked good.

Sigh of relief. One hurdle down.

I sat down with C and she told me everything looked great! I needed at least 10 antral follicles and I had 11. It would've been nice to have a few more, but I met the study criteria and that's all I really wanted.

While we were talking, the sonohystogram came up. I gave her my saga... how my 1st HSG was the most horrific procedure I'd ever been through, so my 2nd RE had given me a script for a nerve pill for my 2nd one, which was a breeze. I told her I'd really like to go that route again if I could... at the very least, I asked if D could be there with me.

She told me she'd had both procedures done, her HSG was also horrible... and she said the sono was waaaay better. I'm actually glad I mentioned it because I was reading about sono's and there was all this business about them inflating a balloon inside of you and I was like "Yeah... that way lies cramping and inexorable pain... I can feel it already" Needless to say, my armpits began sweating profusely as I imagined a Mickey Mouse Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon unfurling inside of my womb. No bueno.

When I said the word "balloon", C cocked her head to the side and said "balloon? There's no balloon. It's just a tiny catheter that allows saline to fill your uterus. But I'm sure we can get something for you." Hearing there is no balloon involved allowed my armpits to dry... a bit. I'm still not gonna like it... and nobody can make me like it.

So the unholy sonohystogram will be taking place on April 29th at 1:30 pm. They'll do whatever other cultures and whatnot that they need at the same time. I've got instructions about antibiotics and a full bladder and some other jibber jabber. I'll make sure I go over it, so I know what I need to do and when. D is going with me and we will sign the joint consents then (what to do with extra embryos, provide them with a credit card to charge storage fees to, what happens to the snow babies if one or both of us die, we divorce, etc.)

They took a bunch of blood and then sent me on my way with scripts for birth control that I started yesterday & antibiotics and a scheduled Visit #2 on May 7th. That will be urine pregnancy test & Lupron Day. Joy Joy!!

So I guess it's really official... I have begun IVF.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Oh aren't I clever?

Obviously I think I'm pretty funny. But dammit... it fits, if you think about it. 

I will openly admit I've never read Who Moved My Cheese, but on it's face, it sounds like someone was pretty sure they had some cheese and then all of a sudden... no cheese. No cheese is no bueno. I know the feeling.

What I do know is that it has something to do with 2 mice and 2 teeny little mouse sized humans living in a maze. The mice are like... mice. They want cheese and are willing to do whatever it takes to acquire said cheese while the teeny tiny humans have an ENTIRELY different relationship with the cheese. Apparently it's like their self image and whatnot. Again, I know the feeling. I know my struggle with infertility has been deeply interwoven with my self image at times. 

Well, I guess one day, someone moves their cheese and we read about how these 4 beings navigate the shit storm...? I dunno... I told you I've never read the damn thing! All I know is I feel like one day I woke up only to find that someone had come in the night and absconded with my fertility without so much as a word. Who does that kind of shit? Seriously, tell me. Because if I find the sorry bastard who took mine, they're gettin' a punch to the throat. 

So, if you were hoping this blog would be a clever parody of the aforementioned Cheese book... this is probably your exit. This is probably as far as the references will go... if for no other reason than the simple fact that, having not read the book... I've got nothing. 

I do thank you for your time and wholeheartedly apologize for the letdown you surely must be feeling. I thought, while being a funny take on the name, it also was pretty freakin' appropriate. Mostly I thought it was funny. And Lord knows on a journey like this, you need funny as often as you can get it. I gave no thought to the legions of Who Moved My Cheese fans and how my Bait and Switch, so to speak, would affect them. Should you feel truly aggrieved, leave your address in the comments and I will attempt to assuage you with a wedge of cheese. 

Speaking of this journey, my husband and I embarked upon it almost 6 years ago. It will actually be 6 years to the day in 2 days. We spent so many years being advised not to have kids when we were younger... as if we'd blink and BOOM! If you could only hear the bitter edge to my laugh at that memory. Granted, during the times we were given that advice, we were not in the greatest of financial positions, so it wouldn't have been the ideal time... but as we all come to learn, there is no perfect time to do anything. Life is what happens while you're busy makin' plans.

Well, a lot happened while we were makin' all those plans and by the time we felt "safe" actually trying for a child, it turned out to be a much more difficult prospect than we could have ever imagined. Initially, it was super exciting. For the first time, actually trying to have a baby. Knowing that when you told people the news, they would all be nothing but happy. That was a happy and exciting time.

Unfortunately, that happiness and excitement turned to sadness and disappointment. Each month's cycle ended with a mixture of blood and tears. We followed the Infertility Playbook that most players are familiar with... went to the OB after 6 months, blood tests, semen analysis and Clomid. After my first HSG showed one blocked fallopian tube, I was referred to a specialist.

Surgery cleared the tube and it was off to the IUI races. We did 2 all natural IUI's, neither of which were successful. Our 3rd attempt was with the assistance of Clomid. I always responded really well to Clomid, so I was really hopeful that the combination of the 2 would do the trick. When that cycle went bust as well, we decided to depart the ART Train for a bit and take a breather. The emotional and financial costs were starting to take their toll. We wanted to just turn things down a notch and see what happened.

Well... what happened was nothing. 

We decided that if we really wanted to do this, we needed to face the fact that IVF was our likely route. Since we had moved, I found a new RE. I gave him the rundown of what we'd done thus far, showed him all my records from my previous RE, including the photos from my lap surgery. I told him we were ready for IVF, but was talked into trying another IUI, only this time with injectable drugs. I'd never done injectables before, so once again, I was hopeful.

When it resulted in yet another failed cycle, I was disappointed, but not devastated. I had IVF in my sights and insurance to cover it. Or so I thought. I won't get into all the laborious details about that saga, but suffice it to say all of our IUI's had been chipping away at the coverage we did have, so by the time we were ready to do IVF, there was no more coverage to do it. Now would be the time for that devastation to kick in.

I spent a lot of time looking into the various IVF options like Shared Risk, etc. Unfortunately, most of those programs have age cutoffs and I was past it. I wound up stumbling upon the website for The Cooper Institute for Reproductive Hormonal Disorders. They didn't have any age restrictions and actually specialize in the more difficult cases. What I really liked was that they listed their pricing right on their site and it was LOADS cheaper than anywhere else I'd seen. So that was the plan. When the time was right, we'd call Cooper.

In mid March, we moved back to my husband's hometown. There are some family health issues, and since he's able to work from home, we were able to come back. The move is saving us a lot. Our taxes and car insurance rates dropped, the rent and cost of living are less... so we set a goal to kick off the IVF process around the end of summer.

On March 30th, I decided to pop on over to Cooper's website just to refresh my memory on things, see if there had been any price changes since my last visit to the site, etc. Indeed there had been a price increase, though they are still WAY below anywhere else. I happened to notice a link at the top of the site for The Ivy Study. What, pray tell, is this I wonder.

I discover that The Ivy Study is an IVF clinical trial that Cooper is participating in for women 35-42 years of age who are TTC and have been told IVF is their only option. Hey!! That's me! They like... never include members of the Dusty Egg Club! But here it was in writing. I clicked on the contact link and fired off an email to get the 411.

A few minutes later I get a reply giving me the info on the study and informing me that if I was interested, they'd have to get me consented the next day, as that was the cut off date for the study. Here's the specifics on the study: 

Gonal-F can now be made available in generic form in the US. A Swiss company has made a version that's been used and shown to be equally effective in Europe for years. They're now seeking FDA approval for use in the US. It has been tested on women under 35, now it's the old gal's turn.

The IVF cycle is $3093.75 All of the drugs will be provided for free, with the exception of the birth control. But as for the suppression drugs, the stims, the trigger and the progesterone support? That's all provided free. $400 for the blood work/ultrasound package, $825 for ICSI, $300 for embryo freezing with a quarterly storage fee of $125. Any other tests not covered by your insurance (sonohystero-up-up-and-away-in-my-beautiful-balloon-in-my-uterus test, infectious blood, etc) are at your expense.

The clinic is in New Jersey and we're in Central PA now, but as luck would have it... I had an appointment with my primary care just outside Delaware the very next day, so I'd be kinda in the area. I replied asking what would be involved with the consent. She wrote back and said it takes about an hour to go through all of the details and sign all of the paperwork. But... we would not be able to wait until the end of summer. We would need to be ready to start at the beginning of my next cycle. Um... whoa. Better discuss that one with the hubster.

On his next break, I told him about what I'd found. I knew he'd dig the main details, but I wasn't sure about the time frame. Surprisingly, his response was "Do it. Do whatever you need to do." 

After my appointment the following day, I drove to the clinic, went over and signed all of the papers and met my new RE. He seems pretty awesome thus far. I mean, the man has breakfast with is wife every morning! How can he not be cool? He has quite the sense of humor as well, which I always find reassuring. I was sent home with my IVF Coordinator's cell phone number with instructions to text/call on CD 1.

That day came... today. 

So... tomorrow at 11:45 I will be having my blood work and ultrasound to make sure that I have at least 10 but no more than 20 antral follicles. If I do, I'm in the study and our IVF journey will begin.

Hopefully this journey is about to come to a long awaited and beautiful end. I'm sure there will be both aggravation and hilarity as we fumble our way through all of this. If you've made it this far, I thank you. It's been a long time since I've written about any of this stuff. Hell, it's been a long time since I've had anything to write about! But it feels good to do this... and it'd feel even better if you'd let me know you're out there. (._.)/ Hello! See me waving? LOL!
And... I've just now realized why I'm feeling so silly, drawing faces out of parenthesis and such! I took so freakin' long writing this damn thing that now, all of the "tomorrow"s I wrote about are now... "today"s. 

Sorry folks... Shit happens and I'm just gonna have to ask you to let me slide on this one... 

And again, if you're really bent... there's always cheese.