I fear I'm becoming a produce stand.
|That's right, I'm basically walking around with two little bunches of grapes in my pelvis.|
Today is Treatment Day 10, and I thought we would all enjoy a mid-stimulation check in.
I've been encouraging the growth of my ovarian follicles with injectable hormones for a week and a half. My drug protocol is actually a little light, as I only have to do injections once each day (happy dance). My regimen started with two medications to encourage many follicles to grow and a few days ago we added a third which prevents me from ovulating too soon. Most days this past week I've headed down to my doctor's office before work (51 miles round trip - the things we do for quality healthcare) for monitoring consisting of blood draws to check hormone levels and transvaginal ultrasounds to measure and count my follicles, which I call "potential baby bud roll-call". This means I've been stuck 32 times so far - 12 times for Follistim, 10 times for low-dose HCG, 4 times for Ganirelix, and 6 times for blood draws.
I am happy to report that at this point, things are going quite well :) Yes, that's right, this little Sjoggie actually has something going right! These moments are few and far between so when I get one, I like to celebrate by high-fiving myself. But that's besides the point.
What do I mean "things are going right", you ask? Good question! Here are some things that are on target or even better than average at this point:
- I'm developing a delightful number of follicles - one of the clinicians told me she sees on average about a dozen follicles total for a patient, and I have 10-12 on each ovary right now. They won't all yield a mature egg, but in this case more is basically better, and I don't have so many as to pose any significantly increased risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome).
- My follicles are generally growing at a consistent rate - sometimes a couple overachievers will get plump very quickly, leaving the rest to play catch up trying to grow mature eggs, but mine have mostly grown at around the same pace which is great because it means it's easier to tell when we should trigger to maximize results.
- My uterine lining is on target - I'm not doing a fresh transfer so this isn't particularly important right now, but I am relieved to know that my lining is thickening to a good level. This will be important when we do transfer in a few months, because you need a plush lining to give a little embryo or embryette a good chance of implanting happily.
At this morning's visit, my potential baby buds were measuring around 17mm (give or take, there's a range of course), which means we're getting close to retrieval.
In addition to these objective ways of seeing that the cycle is going well, I am also happy (if a bit shocked) to report that I'm generally feeling pretty solid. I'm only slightly uncomfortable from the feeling of my plumped up ovaries, which do resemble small bunches of grapes. For me, it's this general sensation like full kidneys, and I'm more aware of it during the movements to sit down or stand up. Of course, it's pretty likely I'll feel increasingly uncomfortable in the next few days but so far, so good!
I have had one problem crop up in all of this. The day after my first round of shots, I had a full blown migraine. Never having had one before, I didn't know what was going on but after talking to the doctor and reviewing all the symptoms that occurred, that's clearly what it was. It started with a visual aura - I describe it as being like when you look at a camera flash, except the perimeter of the "blur" almost looked like tinsel, sparkly and irregular. The "blur" began to expand and before it was over (about 20 minutes or so) it did obscure a good section of my field of vision. While this was going on, the headache hit (I have a history of cluster or "suicide" headaches so this wasn't the worst part to me, the aura scared me the most), and eventually I had some nausea. These "sudden onset migraines" are not uncommon with all the hormones and medications, but no one warned me about them either. On the upside, except for a lingering headache the next day I only had one more migraine begin a few days later, without aura, and taking an excedrin when I felt it begin did help keep it from progressing. Again, I'm not out of the woods yet but I am hoping that it was more of an adjustment issue and the worst is behind me in this respect.
So what happens next? Another excellent question!
Each day that I go in, the office calls me a few hours later once the labs come back to tell me if there are any changes to my medicine protocol (there haven't been so far, which I think is a nice indication that my doctors did a good job figure out where to start, but for the record tweaks are absolutely normal because no two people respond exactly the same way). One of these days that call will also tell me to take my trigger shot that night. 36 hours later, I'll go under IV sedation for retrieval. The clinicians (and I) suspect they'll tell me trigger tomorrow (for Wednesday retrieval) or the next day (for - you got it - Thursday retrieval). The day between the trigger shot and when we go egg hunting I get a short reprieve with no more shots. That will be nice, considering my belly is starting to look like one of those tomato pincushions everyone's grandmother had after it's been stabbed a few hundred too many times. And did I mention Ganirelix burns for a little after it's injected?
|Granny's pincushion or my abdomen?|
This is where we're at in the IVF leg of our infertility journey. The day we have egg retrieval (and incidentally, every time we discuss that I feel like a giant chicken on a farm) we will find out how many follicles were drained and how many mature eggs were actually retrieved. They'll inject each one with one of my husband's sperm overnight and the next day we'll know how many successfully fertilized, then we begin the highly distracting phase of waiting to see how many grow to blastocyst stage over the following 5-7 days. Better buckle up, kids, we're just getting started!