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On the Road to Embryo Transfer

Has it really been a month since my last post? I could be cliche and say time flies when you’re having fun, but honestly the past month has been dragging by. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write lately, but since we are officially on the schedule for our frozen embryo transfer it is time.

I was disappointed when our fresh transfer was canceled, but I know it was for the best. My estrogen levels were too high and I was too high risk for OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). That doesn’t make it easier, as I’m not a fan of change… to say the least. Dr. Dunaway did reassure me that their statistics are very good for FETs (frozen embryo transfers). 37 of the past 42 have been successful.

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So what have we been up to on the fertility journey this last month? To start, I’ve been on birth control for five weeks, today was my last pill. I’ve explained why many IVF/FET protocols include birth control in the beginning in previous posts, but it basically allows your hormones to start at a baseline and gives the team as much control as possible.

I have the opportunity to experience LUPRON again… my favorite.

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Lupron stops estrogen production. Makes it tank. Out of no where… BOOM.. I’m a 26 year old experiencing menopause symptoms. I can’t sleep, I have hot flashes, headaches, and I’m all around miserable. To be fair, I already eat dinner 430pm and go to bed by 9. They should just go ahead and give me that senior discount.  I will say that as hard as it is to get out of bed at 430am, I do feel immensely better after going to the gym. I had stopped going for my entire retrieval cycle but I’m going to try and keep it up this time.

On Tuesday I had my baseline ultrasound aka a morning date with the dildo cam, along with bloodwork. On the ultrasound they were able to confirm that I had no cysts, but still have some hemorrhaging leftover from the retrieval, but since my ovaries have done their jobs, that won’t hold us back for the FET. Blood work also checked out, so that means we’ve checked the next box.

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The following day I went back to the Fertility Institute for my 21st appointment – the endometrial scratch. Fertility clinics only started offering endometrial scratching recently. Research is still ongoing. But it’s already one of the more accepted add-on treatments. Compared to the evidence on fashionable extras like embryo glue and intralipids, endometrial scratching has more kudos.

Best described as being similar to a smear test, an endometrial scratch involves a quick scrape of your womb lining at a certain point in your cycle by inserting a catheter into the uterus through the cervix. The promising research suggests it could improve embryo implantation, especially if you’ve had failed IVF attempts before.

How does it work? Well, endometrial scratching seems to provoke a reaction within the inner lining of the womb. Hormones and chemicals are released to help the lining repair itself. A genetic trigger response to an endometrial scratch may give the implantation ‘green light’. In essence, the temporary injury seems to make the endometrium more receptive to an embryo. That means a better chance of a pregnancy and a live birth.

Early studies into endometrial scratching have brought intriguing results, gaining the attention of infertility experts. A 2012 study found that having an endometrial scratch was 70% more likely to result in pregnancy in women with unexplained recurrent implantation failure. And researchers in 2015 concluded that endometrial scratching was more likely to improve the birth rate for women with two or more previous IVF failures. It is in the standard FET protocol for Dr. Dunaway.

Basically, he goes all Freddy Krueger up in that joint.

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It’s lovely. And by lovely of course I meaning I NEVER WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. The scratch itself wasn’t that bad. You’re instructed to go in with a full bladder. Well, I underestimated the amount of time it would take for my bladder to fill, so by the time I got there it was really full.

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After getting undressed from the waist down, again, the procedure was conducted via ultrasound. But not the way I was used to. Nope, she threw that jelly on my abdomen and I had the pleasure of staring at my empty uterus. I had imagined the first time I had that ultrasound that we would be looking at our baby. Thanks for that.

Anyways, he prepped the cervix with iodine, which felt like a regular pap smear. Then came the catheter. Which would have been fine, except my uterus had two bends in it (maybe partially because I was about to pee myself… and on doc I suppose). He had to twist the catheter multiple times while it was inserted, took it out to bend it, and tried again. This happened not once, twice, but THREE times before he got to where he needed to be. I was seeing stars it hurt so badly. Thank goodness for the 1000mg of tylenol and 1000mg of ibuprofen I had popped.. after that the scratch felt like nothing.

So now… we wait. I’ll wait for hopefully my last period to come (hopefully I can tell, I’m still bleeding from the scratch and spotting from the lupron) and then I start estrogen patches and a new injection.

It is impossible to give an exact date, but I think our FET will be around June 20th. We will be transferring two embryos, with a 60-70% chance of pregnancy and 30% chance of that pregnancy being twins. If this cycle is successful, the due date would be March 7th.

Sending you all love and baby dust!

Fertility Treatment Running Cost:
Ovulation Kits for a year: $80
Pregnancy Tests for a year: $100
Vitamins: $300
GYN Apt: $50
Semen Analysis: $175
Semen Analysis w/Urinanalysis: $250
Fertility Institute Consultation: $166 ($250 without insurance)
Clomid: $9.60 ($100 without insurance)
IUI Payment #1: $880
hCG trigger: $125
IUI Payment #2: $485
IVF Consult: $100
IVF Workup #1: $350
IVF Workup #2: $205
Infectious Disease Testing: $92
IVF Payment #1: $7,600
IVF Medications: $1,344
IVF Workup Balance: $196
IVF Payment #2: $7,600 (IVF payments covered by Sarah’s Laughter giveaway)
Anesthesia: $550
FET Medications: $1,500
Endometrial Scratch: $110

TOTAL: $22,464

 

 

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D-Day and the Ice Age

Happy Easter, y’all! D-Day (Egg Retrieval Day) has come and gone, and tomorrow is the Big Freeze. I am fortunate enough to be writing this from the beautiful Gulf Shores in Alabama.

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Sunrise on the beach this morning

The past week has honestly been a blur, and it is bittersweet to be on vacation, but truth be told I probably needed it. I’m even taking a few days off of work (what!?!) to stay until Tuesday. Well, I pulled the trigger (to “trigger” ovulation) at 2100 on Monday.

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Ovidrel was one of the easiest shots that I’ve taken

The egg retrieval was the most fun I never want to have again. The day before the retrieval was miserable. At that point my ovaries and follicles measured several inches across, and I could feel it. I could feel the heaviness and discomfort with every step, and every time I changed positions. And on top of that, I was showing “pregnancy symptoms” from the Ovidrel, which contained hCG.

Egg retrieval takes place 36-37 hours after the trigger. We got to the clinic and I got to change into my incredibly stylish gown, hair cover, and booties.

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Oh hey good lookin’

Come time for the procedure the anesthesiologist came and put in my IV (in the wrist, and yes, it hurt) and it felt like after that things started coming all too quickly. They had me walk to the back and lay on the table, and started strapping me in. It was maybe five seconds after that when the room started spinning. I’m fairly certain that I said something inappropriate and then I was out.

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I basically remember nothing else except vaguely driving home and waking up on the couch. Apparently I was quite entertaining on anesthesia. For some reason, I kept calling the eggs and potential babies “gerbils”. Lucky for y’all, my wonderful husband recorded everything.

For the most part I have felt okay. My heating pad was my best friend for the first two days. The only time I really had pain was when I would get up and push myself (I have a hard time just sitting still). In the future I’ll write another post with some tips on surviving the retrieval, but it went a lot more smoothly than I imagined.

So here’s the big news… the count!! Drumroll please….

14 Eggs Retrieved
12 Eggs Fertilized
8 High Grade Embryos, 2 Medium Grade, and 1 on watch

Y’all we have eight embryos for sure!!!

We are over the moon excited that we can move forward to the next step… tomorrow is the Big Freeze, and the start of the Ice Age for our little embies.

So now what? We wait. giphy

And wait… and wait…

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We will have a better timeline when my next cycle starts. Doc said it could be two weeks, it could be a month. We will see what my body does. Until then … we get to “relax”. Cheers to brewing up a baby!

 

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What are the Odds?

Probability: noun likelihood of something happening

The past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions, ups and downs, and I promise that isn’t just the hormones talking. Where do I even start?

Let’s start with one of the most incredible things that has ever happened to us.

In previous posts I shared the Baby Steps Infertility Awareness Fun Run put on by Sarah’s Laughter. At the run we had 19 incredible members on our team on the day of the run and our friends and family helped us to raise just over $1,000 for Sarah’s Laughter. The event gave away a $500 grant, a $10,000 grant, and four free IVF cycles, one of which was donated by my clinic (Fertility Institute, Baton Rouge location – Dr. Dunaway).

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We had to represent Brieux Carre!

The names were read off and a Samantha was called – I think we were all holding our breath but let out a sigh of disappointment when the last name wasn’t ours. But on the last drawing.. it happened! He actually read our name! I wish that I could describe how it felt. I was in shock, disbelief, awe, and it felt as if my legs had given out. I nearly fell to my knees, but still had to walk to the front! Taylor practically carried me as we went up. I didn’t know if I would be able to make it. I’ve watched the video (https://www.facebook.com/jasonforbus/videos/10209162710248142/ at 7:40) several times, just to make sure it really happened, and I’ve cried every time. The cycle that we won was actually for our clinic! This means we are being refunded what was already paid, and do not have to pay anything additional.

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The amazing FINO team

We had a 1.46% chance of winning. Only 1.46%. But it happened. We are so overwhelmingly grateful for Sarah’s Laughter and the Fertility Institute. You are changing our lives, and we have our friends and family to thank for supporting us and putting our name in the drawing.

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I’m finally at the end of stimulation meds. It has certainly been a long, long, long nine days of stims. Luckily, after decreasing the dose of Lupron from 10 IU to 5 IU many of my symptoms eased up, primarily the insomnia and hot flashes, thank goodness. I started on 150 IU of Gonal-F and 75 units of Menopur until day 4, when I lowered by dose of Gonal-F to 100 IU per day. My mood has been something else though. I go from happy go lucky to ready to bury a body in 0.67 seconds. I figure that’s why my husband has been working until midnight every night and leaving before I wake up….
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Here are my final scan results:

Right Ovary:
(1) 20 mm
(1) 18 mm
(1) 16 mm
(1) 15 mm
(1) 14 mm
(2) 12 mm
(2) 9 mm
(1) 7 mm
(1) 6 mm
(1) 5 mm
12 total on right

Left Ovary:
(1) 22 mm
(2) 21 mm
(1) 19 mm
(2) 18 mm
(1) 14 mm
(1) 13 mm
(1) 11 mm
(1) 9 mm
(3) 8 mm
(1) 6 mm
14 total on left

26 follicles total! So everything looks great to move forward with retrieval on Wednesday. I have a LOT of discomfort. I can feel my ovaries with Every. Single. Step. Of course I have allergies right now, and when I sneeze, it feels like my ovaries are going to explode.

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My ovaries are so big I look pregnant already… what a tease!

Now that we’ve covered all of the good news, here’s the not so good news. When Jackie called me this afternoon to give me trigger instructions she also told me that Dr. Dunaway feels that I am very high risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), so they are canceling our fresh embryo transfer and freezing all of the embryos. OHSS happens when your ovaries overreact to the fertility drugs. They may quickly swell to several times their normal size, and can sometimes leak fluid into the abdomen. About one in three women have mild symptoms (hence my bloating), one in 25 experience moderate symptoms, and one in 100 experience severe symptoms. It can cause rapid weight gain (40 pounds in two days), vomiting, blood clots, and other symptoms.

I understand avoiding OHSS. I don’t want it. But when I was going through possible scenarios in my head of what could go wrong, this isn’t something that I had considered. It’s been so hard to not get excited for all of this, but every time we get to check one box I’m just more anxious for the next.

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I was devastated today when she told me that our transfer wouldn’t occur until the end of May or beginning of June. It’s just another change to the plan. I’m also terrified that our embryos (however many we have) won’t survive the freeze and thaw. I was heartbroken thinking of more probabilities. But then I think of our chances of winning the free IVF cycle. 1.46%. My chances of OHSS are higher than that. And our chances of a FET (frozen embryo transfer) being successful is WAY higher than that. So there is hope.

That means that we will continue to limp along down the infertility road a little longer.

But it’s the possibility that keeps me going, not the guarantee.

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Fertility Treatment Running Cost:
Ovulation Kits for a year: $80
Pregnancy Tests for a year: $100
Vitamins: $300
GYN Apt: $50
Semen Analysis: $175
Semen Analysis w/Urinanalysis: $250
Fertility Institute Consultation: $166 ($250 without insurance)
Clomid: $9.60 ($100 without insurance)
IUI Payment #1: $880
hCG trigger: $125
IUI Payment #2: $485
IVF Consult: $100
IVF Workup #1: $350
IVF Workup #2: $205
Infectious Disease Testing: $92
IVF Payment #1: $7,600
IVF Medications: $1,344
Sarah’s Laughter IVF Giveaway: ($7,600)
IVF Workup Balance: $196

TOTAL: $4,908