Monday, May 29, 2006

My Protocol

First of all, RIP cyst. You have hereby been banished from the Queendom... ie: aspirated. Procedure was 100% painless. Felt a little tired after, which is to be expected, but no nausea or anything. I would say the one nice thing about having gone through this is that it's the exact same procedure for retrieval, so I'll know what to expect. Fingers crossed that I get the same anesthesiologist for my retrieval day. He did a good job.

Guess what guys? I HAVE FINALLY STARTED IVF #1! Can you friggin' believe it? I know there's a long, (bumpy) road ahead but I've finally stepped onto that road and started walking. I did my first injections about 1/2 hour after the procedure this morning with nurse N instructing and Hubs observing so that he could remind me later of any details I might have been too fuzzy to absorb.

I have to say, I had zero hesitation. I was so damn happy to finally be getting started I just stuck the needles right in. It didn't hurt at all. One in the abdomen, one in the outer thigh. Short, thin little subcutaneous needles. It was SO not dramatic. (Okay, I WAS still a little bit on drugs, so I'll give you that, but seriously, for those of you who haven't been initiated yet: it is not nearly as big a deal as you might imagine. Unfounded fear is the biggest problem with the injection stuff. And I count myself in that club! Read this post to see my initial reaction to the box of drugs and syringes when I first received them back in March.)

Here is my basic protocol, of course with the understanding that the stim days could be extended or shortened and that med amounts could change (I don't know the precise IUs yet for anything else - will update).

CD1-CD7: Repronex in AM (150 IU FSH/150 IU LH), Follistim in PM (200 IU follitropin beta)
CD5: Repronex, Ganirilix (antagon), Luveris (lutropin alfa), Estrogen patch
CD6: Ganirilix, Luveris
CD7: Ganirilix, Luveris, change Estrogen patch
CD8: Ganirilix, Luveris, hCG Trigger
CD9: change Estrogen patch
CD10: retrieval

And I'm not aware of my exact antral follicle count, but it's something around 7-ish on each ovary. I hope they like to party... (addendum: as Bea said in the comments, "just hard enough.")

Empress of Cysts!

Do not worry my royal courtesans. I have not forsaken you. It is I, the Queen of Postponement, now officially adding to my title: Empress of Cysts!

Just got back from the RE to find that after 18 days on BCPs the very same cyst that postponed us last month has tripled in size. It's a whopper, as they say in the common language. This is only to be expected for a monarch of my veneration and status.

The weird (good) thing is that it's not bothering me at all - pysically at least. However, it might very well explain some of my increased anxiety/depressive feelings this past month. If this puppy is producing lots of hormones it would be the answer to a great deal of consternation. I have been working weekly with the Imperial Therapist and feel that I definitely have things I need to work out/adjust in my life, etc. And this is helping! But there seems also to be an element of chemical imbalance that is frustrating. Could this be the answer?

WE WILL FIND OUT! Because I am going in tomorrow morning at 6AM to aspirate the fucker (sorry, that's not very regal of me, but it's either I swear at the cyst or the next nurse who wands me loses her head) and begin stims. Now, of course, it will be tough to decipher whether my mental state improves with the aspiration because I will at the same time begin pumping my body full of Follistim and Repronex. God only knows what these new chems will do. Any chance these drugs will make me feel GOOD? (C'mon people, throw me a line here...)

This was not unexpected, so I am not freaked. Even an Empress doesn't enjoy spending a big wad of money for an extra medical procedure, but at this point, I am ready to do anything to just be able to finally start IVF cycle #1. These months of postponement have been a royal drag.

I'll update tomorrow with tales of anesthesia, aspiration and my magesterial protocol.

ALL RISE! Hear ye hear ye: the Empress is now going to the beach. Later.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Word About Therapy

Hi all! I'm back from the DC/NYC trip and it was super. Tomorrow I will swallow my last BCP and then wait for AF. Then maybe we'll get lucky and I'll have no ovarian cyst, and if I do we'll aspirate it and begin IVF injections next week.

So while I'm waiting to see how all that pans out, I thought I would share what I've been through over the past few weeks.

2 1/2 weeks ago I was sitting at dinner at my favorite sushi restaurant with my Hubs and some very close friends (another couple). In the middle of dinner with no warning, I felt a plunge of depression (or it might be described as a surge of anxiety - I am learning). I felt awful, couldn't finish my delicious meal, went to the bathroom with loose bowels and felt just hopeless. It wasn't that we were talking about anything specific (or were we?) or that I was thinking about anything I particular (or was I?) I just plunged. For the next 3 or 4 days after that, I was feeling bad, but never as bad as that initial plunge, but still bad. Depressed, anxious, hopeless. Most of all, fearful that I would continue to feel this way and not sure I could handle that.

So I went and got help. I got a referral to a coulple of therapists and I went to see one as soon as I could get in. It helped immensely. I have another appointment with her and one with another therapist later this week - they say it is good to see a few people and see who is the best fit.

I suspect that hormones played a part - a big cyst can cause some symptoms, I am told. And when I started the BCPs things got noticably better - but this was in concert with my getting professional help, so it's impossible to tell. But I remain vigilant about hormones and mental health. I remain fearful of injecting myself with the IVF drugs and also fearful of pregnancy and post-partum depressions and their hormonal connections. Part of my work will be dealing with these fears.

The first therapist I met with told me that fertility/IVF issues are second only to dealing with a death when it comes to stress levels. Moreso than a divorce, moreso than losing a job, moreso than other big life changes. (Relatively speaking, of course. Stress is different for everyone with every different situation. But it did put it in perspective.) We had a fruitful first session, and I won't go into grand detail except to say that I cried like a fountain the entire time and it felt great. And during my trip east, I also told my nuclear family about our struggles and about IVF. Reaction was tremendous. Understanding and quiet and centered on how they could support us best. This was a big breakthrough for me.

I am curious about your experiences. You, out there. My IVF/fertility issue friends. I know we often speak of loss, of stress of fear. I have read in your blogs about quite a few panic attacks and depressive episodes. I would really like to hear some positive stories about how you came through all this and felt peace again. Pregancy, baby or not.

If anyone is reading this who is feeling really bad mentally (maybe not all the time, but wish you were doing better), I cannot recommend enough the value of a mental-health professional. These folks seriously know what they're doing, and even though we feel very alone in these dark moments and can't imagine anyone else really understanding how we feel, they will tell you that there is enough similarity in how humans experience anxiety and depression that there are MANY things they can help us do to feel better.

I send you hugs and hope. (I know we sometimes hate hope, but I really don't see the point in living without it.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Queen of Postponement Has Arrived!

Sound the horns! Raise the standard! Her Majesty is in da house!

This morning I went to my RE, hoping, as you know, to begin IVF #1 but feeling very much abdominally that a cyst would be present and a problem. Well, after a thorough going-over with the Wagina Wand (I'm a Queen, people. It was gold-plated under that latex) it turns out that I was thoroughly and positively correct. Right side, nice and juicy. And THAT is why I reign supreme.

My RE wants to try one more month to get me cyst free. If I show up with a cyst on the next start date (for the 3rd time), he will aspirate it and we will be a go tht same day. And don't think this Monarch of Menses can't grow a cyst on BCP's. I did that last month just for kicks.

I do appreciate my RE's prudence. He offered to aspirate it today and start if we insisted, but he knows this will cost a buch of extra bucks (that we don't have) and it does carry a small risk, as any aspiration/retrieval procedure does. (Don't believe me? Read the last few entries on Beagle's blog to scare yourself shitless regarding punctured bladders.)

So, I am starting birth control pills AGAIN on Sunday and taking them for approximately 18 days. He said we could go as few as 10 days, but I figured this was a sign that I, the Queen, should take advantage of the postponement and go to my Dad's 65th birthday in NYC. So I asked for another week tacked on. I was feeling horribly guilty about skipping the celebration and LYING about the reason to the person I trust the most in the entire world, and this frees me.

Dare I say some things happen for a reason? My guilt mechanism sure as hell feels better. This is almost enough to have me not regret the postponement at all. Weird but true. So seriously, don't waste your comfort and pity on me this time - I may really need it down the road, and god knows some other Queen is needing it much more right now. This time, I would appreciate instead, your wishes of Bon Voyage for my birth-controlled trip to NYC.

So, it's back to hanging about in my royal way and visiting your blogs. I may not post here for a couple weeks, but I am reading you. So many of you have so much going on, I bestow upon you bravery during the storm, and I dispatch my knights to get your backs. (They are female ART Knights, very tough and effective. Do NOT mess.)

Onward, m'ladies.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Eggwhites: Just Another Word for Omelette

Well, my TWW is done but I am still in the nether-region of where the F is AF? I've got the collection of negative pee stix (11DPO, 12DPO, 13DPO, 15DPO), the negative Beta (13DPO), I've got the spotting, now just waiting for the BBT to fall and AF to really get here full-force.

(Before you think I'm a totall kook for peeing on all those sticks, I really did it as a matter of curiosity and information gathering - I would really like to know if I manage to get to some sort of implantation stage even if it doesn't hold on past normal cycle length.)

I have to say it was an interesting TWW. Wasn't really expecting anything (if I were, we probably wouldn't be already scheduled for IVF) but I will admit: I had some very interesting symptoms. I know they can ALL be chalked up to PMS (except for maybe the last weird one) but I was thinking... maybeeeeeee....

C'mon. You know you miss the olden days of Symptoms Without Suppositories (or injections) so what the heck. I'll treat you:

- my small bbs got bigger/denser (always do on 2nd half of cycle) but nipples were puffed out and were stinging a whole lot, especially at night and that was new to me. sometimes itchy-stingy. haven't felt that since I first grew 'em!

- I had light AF type cramping during 6,7,8 DPO. Thought that was nice timing... right?

- I had interesting "twitchy" feelings in the UtRus. Like, you know when you have a muscle twitch in your leg and you can actually see it twitching but you're not consciously moving it? It felt very much like that. happened about 1/2 dozen times per day from 9DPO until 14DPO.

- I was peeing constantly. But I was also really drinking a lot of water, so whatever.

- BBT is currently still high and (spotting notwithstanding) I am 1 day late. Very unusual for me.

- Drumroll please...

- Ok here's the weird one. Started around 8DPO. Oh my god my palms were itching the heck out of me. And the bottoms of my feet. And for about 3 days the nape of my neck/back of my scalp. like UBER itching. Not all at once... a location would just start itching and it would last for about 10 min and fade away. No rashes, no allergies, nothing to be seen. So I figured it was hormonal. Has anyone, ANYONE, had this before - preg or not? Totally weird.

- most of these "symptoms" have abated. funny how they do that after a negative Beta.

And that's it for the fun. Comments and opinions welcome on my retardedness. Amazing what a mindf*ck TTC is in general, no? Take that x 100 for a person going through IVF with all the shots and physical discomforts and money involved... I'm going there next.

Hoping CD1 will be tomorrow so I can get in to the RE by Sat and not have to wait until next week. And hope for no cyst. I always seem to have one present at the end of most cycles (did I tell you I suspect I may have LUF Syndrome? But have never been diagnosed - except for self-diagnosed with my Doctorate from Google University.)

p.s. We ate the remainder of those organic pasteurized eggwhites in a delicious and healthy fritatta! So all was not lost!

UPDATE: It's now April 4 and AF arrived this morning. So we go in for cooter-cam tomorrow AM. I suspect a cyst on the right side (I'm getting pretty good at this cyst thing. I can feel it)... anyone want to wager how big? I am guessing at least 6cm. But this time, unless the RE feels otherwise, I will elect to aspirate instead of wait. if we wait, it's gonna be a crap shoot for me to find a month without a cyst.