Knife Skills

It’s been a busy week or so.  To catch up, I will rely on the timhurt fingere-honored tradition of bullet points.

  • Apparently, I was not the summa cum laude graduate of my knife skills class that I hoped to be.  While smugly applying my new onion cutting skills, I managed to slice the tip of my finger.   It’s actually a pretty minor cut, but because of the Lovenox I’m taking, it was quite the bleeder, hence the amputation-like wrap (and greatly reduced blogging).  I am happy to report that healing is finally underway.
  • I’m now 9 days post transfer and just made my 2nd trip back to the clinic for hyperstimulation.  I actually felt great after the retrieval and transfer – this just reared up on Monday.  On Tuesday, they felt like I could manage it through copious amounts of Gatorade (which, by the way I hate), but now they’ve decided to drain it.  They couldn’t do it this morning, because I’d eaten right before going into the clinic, so now we have to drive out to the suburban clinic (over an a hour away) for a 6:30 am appointment for yet another needle up my hoo-ha.  Truth be told, I’m kind of looking forward to the relief I hope it will bring.  I literally look about 3 months pregnant, which accounts for the 2 people who have asked me in the last couple of days if I am in fact pregnant.  One was a guy I’ll give a break too because I look huge and I was rubbing my stomach in the pregnant-lady way because it hurt.  The second was a cab driver.  It’s about a million degrees where I live (it went from rainy and cold to heat warnings in about a 2 day span), yet the cab drivers are loath to turn on the air conditioning due to the high high gas prices in the city.  When I asked him to turn on the air, he said, “well, for a pregnant lady, I’ll turn it on.”  To which I said…thank you.  Whatever – might as well get some benefit. 
  • My beta is scheduled for Monday.  Dr. Yacht and the ultrasound tech both said that hyperstimulation at this stage could be a good sign, so we’re hopeful.

Other than that, nothing much to report as I’ve pretty much been couch bound due to the discomfort of my giant rock-hard abdomen and inability to wear anything in the way of acceptable-for-going-outside clothes.

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Now Entering the Waiting Zone

I’m officially off the 48 hour “coach-potato” rest advised by my clinic post transfer.   I’m still going to take it easy the rest of the day, but wanted to post a quick update. 

We continue to be thrilled with the progression of this cycle.  Out of our 8 fertilized embryos, 5 made it to blast!  Because of our past history combined with my age, we decided to take a risk and transfer 3 blasts (4AA, 4AB, and 4BB).  Now, it’s just a waiting game. 

I don’t know how much I’ll post while waiting, but I do plan to keep up on all the blogs I follow and provide support to my fellow travelers.  Thanks everyone for continuing to check in on me.  It means so much!

Phone Calls

I’m struck by how much and how quickly an IVF cycle can turn on a single phone call.

The call after the baseline telling you you’re canceled because of a persistant cyst or that you’re cleared to start your stims.

The phone call after each wanding/blood-letting telling you to continue on or that the cycle is canceled due to low response or some other heartbreaker.

The phone call telling you what time to take the trigger shot and the feeling that you’ve passed a major hurdle.

The phone call telling you your fertilization rate –  a call that can either plunge you into despair or keep your hope alive for another day.

The phone call with your transfer time – will it be a Day 3 or a Day 5?

The ultimate phone call – the one for me that has always started with the word “unfortunately…” blunting my ability to hear anything beyond that.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with my sister when the other line rang through.  I quickly checked the caller ID and saw that it was my clinic – and being unable to operate call waiting promptly hung up on her.  (She was very understanding when I phoned her back.)  LG was in the other room but could tell from the catch in my voice when I answered who it was and rushed out to be next to me.  For me, every one of those call has a moment  – one might even call it a pregnant pause – between the barely controlled “hello” and whatever follows next.  In that moment are hopes and dreams ready to be carried along another day or dashed. 

This time the news was good.  No, it was great.  As of today, we have 8 embryos.  Double what we have had at this time for either of the other cycles.  We are scheduled for a Day 5 transfer on Wednesday.  There are still many phone calls to go…but for today, our hope has survived the ringing of the phone.

Holding our Breath

All things considered, retrieval went well yesterday.   We needed to be there at 7:30 and since the lab we go to is about an hour away in no traffic and we’re both highly paranoid, we were on the road at 5:30 a.m.*  After hanging out in the parking lot until 7:00, we ventured in and they took us back right away.  For most people, this would be a great thing as it meant we got one of the few private rooms instead of curtain divided cubicles.  For me, less exciting as it meant I couldn’t indulge in one of my favorite pastimes:  eavesdropping.  (Turns out, the private room would turn out to be a blessing, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

LG and I hung out for awhile in the room – most of that time spent with him torturing me taking long pulls from his Diet Pepsi (I, of course, NPO since midnight), several of which he followed up with a satisfied “ahhh…”  I responded by telling him that if and when the point comes for him to get a colonoscopy, I will return the favor by indulging in a big bowl of ice cream (his favorite) while he’s getting prepped.  Ah, young love.

Finally, they took me back to the procedure room where they had not the usual 3 suspects gathered to behold my Lady Bits (TM – Jen @ Maybe If You Just Relax), but rather 4:  the nurse anesthetist, the lab assistant, Dr. Yacht, and player never named.  For my own piece of mind, I will assume she was some sort of student.   Once the IV was in, the rest was a void until I awoke back in the room….feeling like absolute death.

I tend towards queasiness with any pain meds much less anesthesia, but this was by far the worst.  (Now, the private room came in handy.)  I was in and out of alertness for much longer than usual while the staff bustled around me.  At one point, the anesthetist came in and said this wasn’t surprising as they had to give me additional pain medication during the procedure.**  I am loath to think exactly what I did to communicate during my sedated state that I needed more pain medication.  Hopefully, neither violence or foul language directed towards Dr. Yacht was involved.

Of course, the need for extra pain medication became clearer once they told us that 28 stabs to the hoo-ha and beyond were involved.  That’s right…28 eggs were retrieved from my poor sweat-shop left ovary.   While ostensibly a great number, we’ve been on this train before, so we know for us it’s not the retrieval number that matters but rather the fertilization/viable embryo counts.  These have historically been lousy.  Our overall attrition rate to date has been about 85%.  Needless to say, we’re waiting anxiously for the call later today to see how many were mature and how many of those fertilized.

LG took great care of my once we got home.  I settled into bed and after a 2-hour nap broke out the IVF kit.  This is a tradition that started with our first cycle where I gather up books (hardcover!…no waiting for the paperback versions for the kit!), magazines, and movies and save them for Transfer Week.  This cycle’s kit consisted of:

  • TIVO’d episodes of So You Think You Can Dance and the new Top Chef Masters.
  • Pretty in Plain by Jen Lancaster.  This is her 3rd book and one of the few authors that can make me laugh out loud – usually in inappropriate places.  (See: IVF Cycle #2).
  • Handle with Care– Jodi Picoult
  • 6 episodes of Season 2 Brothers and Sisters
  • Trash Mags
  • Jelly Bellies!

This time, LG decided he needed to get in on the kit action so he ordered himself some guitar books from Amazon and spent yesterday looking after me and trying out his new blues books.

Today, my pain is markedly less than previous retrievals even though this is the biggest haul yet.  Perhaps the effect of acupuncture?  The true test of the effect of my time off/acupuncture/massage is still to come, but I’m increasingly becoming a convert.  So, for today I’m just planning to take it easy (once again, the weather is cooperating by being incredibly rainy and dreary for June making a day on the couch under a blanket much less guilt-inducing) and wait for the phone.

* The day of our first retrieval was a really snowy day.  We got there really early, so we were OK, but while we were waiting a lady came in for her retrieval.  She was over 90 minutes late due to weather-related traffic.  Because her window had passed and they were jammed that day with other people, they weren’t able to do the procedure.  Can you imagine?  Suffice it to say, that only fuels our paranoia about arriving several hours before our assigned time.

**  She also said that she knew I might need more meds to “relax” because I was really nervous about the IV insertion.  OK, lady.  Growing up, I had a medical condition for which I received meds by IV every month for over 10 years.  I was not nervous about the IV.  After she left, I muttered that very fact to LG in my still drunk-on-sedatives/in-and-out state.  Being a defender of my honor, he asked if I would like him to seek her out so he could clarify that fact.  While he was mostly joking, I’m convinced that if his question had been met by a “yes” rather than slack-jawed snoring, he would have done exactly that.  He rocks.

Moving Closer

We’ve made it to the next milestone!  Retrieval is set for Friday morning.  I am more than ready as I’ve run out of real estate on my stomach for any more shots.  Apparently practice does not make perfect as my growing stomach pooch looks like some sort of avant garde finger painting consisting of blue, purple, and yellow dots…and I haven’t even started the Lovenox yet.

I’m not sure where I’m going to end up in terms of eggs since I’ve gotten conflicting reports from the u/s techs, but should be somewhere between 11 and 21.   I keep trying to remind myself that the goal is not numbers (which we’ve gotten in the past) but rather quality (which we have not).  Hopefully, the acupuncture and fertility enhancing massages that I’ve been doing will help with the quality and subsequent fertilization and development.  We’ve already decided along with Dr. Yacht that we’re doing a 5-day regardless of the number of embryos, so getting high quality embryos that can make it to blastocyst stage is a paramount.  (It’s worth noting that we’ve never actually gotten to that stage, so I’m more than a little terrified about taking this risk, but given the past 2 failures, these seems to be our best bet.)

Now that the update is out of the way, can I just say that I am LOVING my life of leisure.  I have not thought about work at all, and I feel like a different person.  LG (and others) have commented on how much happier I look and seem, and it’s absolutely true.  Of course, June is flying by so I’ll be back to work soon enough, but for now, I’m really trying to enjoy every minute of it.  I never lose sight of how blessed I am to have this time to concentrate on this cycle.  The unexpected thing is that I actually feel less consumed with all things baby making than I did when I was working full time.  Today, I finally took a cooking class (actually a knife skills class) that I’ve been talking about doing forever, and it was so much fun…despite the fact that I had to be the idiot in the class that actually dropped the knife.  Happy to report that all toes are intact although my visa took a little bruising in the cookware store attached to the school.  Other than that, just taking things easy.  Lots of acupuncture (which I’m really enjoying), some shopping, some gibbon-watching at the zoo (although not as much as I would like as it’s been unseasonably cold and rainy around these parts), and general lounging.  Life is good.