Tripping at the Starting Line


What a day. I have run the gambit of every emotion today. I had this lovely post all planned in my head as I was headed home from my morning of IVF training, starting to feel excited, ready to get going. And then all hell broke loose.

I had to get up really early this morning (5:30 am, that is early to me, ok?!) because my clinic operates a first come first serve system for monitoring ultrasounds and blood work. They start at 7:45 am, but you get there early, take a number and they go in that order. Generally people start showing up around 7 am. So because I knew I had a lot to get through and still had to go back to work after I wanted to be there early. 7 am, and I was first, success, feeling good!

Once I took my number, I had a seat in the lobby as others coming in for monitoring started to trickle in. There were all different women, of different ages, ethnicities, some with husbands, some without. There was one woman I noticed who came in looking very polished and well dressed. I assumed, like me, that she had to return to work later. She was working on her laptop in the lobby, with her metal thermos mug by her side. I’m always curious about other people’s’ experiences, and how they got to this point, as I often wonder about myself.

Killing time waiting, I checked my Facebook. One of my Facebook “friends” (acquaintance is a better word) posted a 16 week baby bump photo with an avocado (because that’s the size of the baby right now). She’s not in a relationship, hasn’t been for some time. In fact she just got back from galavanting across Asia, and then Brazil (but so far by counting back she got pregnant before she left). There has been no mention of a pregnancy up until today, a few people who commented seemed to know about it already (including her best friend and mother), but everyone else was stunned. She legitimately looks like she has a bit of a bump, and it doesn’t seem to be a joke. Which is infuriating to me. I guess because it is so out of the blue, clearly an accident, and no mention of who the father even is just burns me. So that was not the best way to start my morning.

The clinic officially opened at 7:45 am, I was promptly called in, first for blood work. The nurse put the tourniquet around my arm and started feeling for a vein. She remarked how small and spidery my veins were, which was news to me. I have never heard that before, and no one has ever had an issue taking my blood. She tried the other arm, and same problem. I told her I don’t usually have issues, and she asked me if I’d had any liquids yet this morning; ah, no, no I had not. She told me that being dehydrated makes veins harder to find. Duly noted, I will be chugging a gallon of water before my next blood draw.

So after my blood draw, she walked me around the corner to get changed for my ultrasound. I went from the change room to the ultrasound room in my make shift toga sheet skirt and sat on the bed to wait for my Dr. He’s not the most prompt person, but then again what Dr. is. He is also the only IVF Dr. in the clinic so he has a lot going on. He came into the clinic while I was still waiting to be called back, and he had a troupe of residents with him. I secretly hoped that none of them would be witness to my visit with the dildo cam. I do not require an audience for that, thank you very much.

After he checked my lining and ovaries (all looked well) I went over to speak with the IVF nurse. She gave me my schedule, for my meds, as well as next ultrasound and blood work. She went through some legal paperwork, asked me a bunch of medical history questions. She told me that if I didn’t hear from her by 2 pm today then that meant that everything was a go, and I could start my meds tonight. I asked her what would cause it not to move forward, and she told me hormone levels that were either too high, or too low, neither of which I have had a problem with.

Next came the meeting with the embryologist, who went through the process from the time the eggs are collected, to ICSI, embryo growth and then transferring back. He gave me my success rates based on last years numbers in my age category (60%), and talked a bit about fresh vs. frozen, where the success rates are nearly identical. He mentioned that in younger patients more often than not, they are overstimulated (in the sense that their estradiol levels are above what they like to see to do a fresh transfer, not necessarily serious OHSS). He also told me I can transfer up to two embryos, but I could tell he was suggesting only one. That is my preference too, as I really do not want twins, nor all the complications that can come along with multiples. I don’t even know that we want more than one child, so two in one shot, no thank you. Anyways, I digress.

After the embryologist, I had to go back to reception to drop some major money. I had already paid a $200 deposit up to this point, and now I owed the additional $7500 that is the cost for the whole IVF process including ICSI and frozen storage (if there is nothing to freeze they refund that portion). And I’m sure that’s not even that bad compared to what some of you ladies have forked out, but it still stung. All I can say, is at least my credit card earns me points. The IVF coordinator went through the charges, and advised what portions would be refunded in case of cycle cancellation, depending on what stage of the cycle the cancellation occurred, and I signed off on it all. Done with the clinic for now, I headed out for the pharmacy about 10 minutes away, that fills all the fertility meds, and does the injection teachings.

Shortly after I entered the pharmacy, and gave them all of my info, the same polished woman from the clinic waiting room came in to collect her next 5 days worth of dosages. I’m not sure if she was doing IUI with injectables or IVF. She was on different meds than me, but who knows. I desperately wanted to make contact with her, and give her the sisterly solidarity look but she was pretty closed off, and focused on getting in, and getting out. They put through the first 4 days of my Menopur, and also gave me a prescription prenatal. The prenatal has 5mg of folic acid instead of 1mg, and is split into two pills for better absorption, plus is a prescription, so it’s coverage under my drug plan. Free prenatals, yes please! I’ve been paying for those suckers for over 2 years now! I gave her my drug coverage card, and J’s as well pleading in my head for the coverage to work. I don’t have any fertility related coverage, but I have up to a $5000 lifetime maximum through J’s employer. She brought the receipt up to the front, $10.30 was all I owed for over $1300 worth of medication. I almost cried out of happiness. That $5000 is going to disappear really quickly but I am so grateful to at least have that coverage. If we didn’t we would make it work, but it helps.

The pharmacist went through the protocol of how to inject my menopur, it seems pretty simple, and the needle is really small. I am lucky, I thought I would be on more meds, but it’s only menopur for the first 5 or so days, and then I add Orgalutran, and then the hCG trigger, and off we go. Then the progesterone, if we do the fresh transfer. Not so bad, less scary than I thought. But we’ll see how it goes after the first injection.

I headed home to drop off my meds. It was only about 10:30 and I told work I’d be in after lunch so I figured I’d go home, relax for a bit and then head in later. I had a quick nap, ate some lunch and just as I was getting ready to go into work I noticed my phone had lit up. I just missed a call from the clinic, and it went to voicemail. I looked at the time, it was only ten past twelve. My mind immediately starting whirring, this couldn’t be good, she said they wouldn’t call if it was all a go. I waited for the voicemail light to pop up, and hit listen as soon as it did. The nurse left me a message letting me know that unfortunately my estrogen level was too high, and they had to cancel my cycle, call back on my next CD1.

I couldn’t believe it, didn’t understand, this had never been an issue on any of my other CD3 blood work. I wandered around my house with my palm to my forehead in disbelief. I tried to calculate my next move…work, I was supposed to go to work. I didn’t think that was the best idea, so I called and told them I wasn’t going to make it in at all. After that, I tried to get a hold of J, but couldn’t reach him at work or on his cell. At that point, I was lost, overwhelmed. I threw my phone to the ground, and just wailed. I cannot tell you the last time I cried so hard, it’s literally been years. The tears of this whole process, all of it, from the first month we tried, until now came flooding forward. I scared my dog, and he went and hid, poor guy.

I calmed myself down somewhat, and J called. You know when you talk to “your person” and as soon as you do, you can’t keep it together anymore? Yeah, that happened. So I am on the phone with him, sobbing, and he doesn’t know what to do or say, he doesn’t really understand all the different hormones and what they do or how they work. He was asking me why my estrogen was so high, and why didn’t they know from previous blood work. Valid points. I called the clinic, and she didn’t have a good answer for me. She told me that they like to see it under 200 (mg?) and mine was 415. She said on my last CD3 it was 245, which would have been acceptable. I told her I was on BCP, and asked if that would have made any difference. She said she wasn’t sure and asked me if I needed to take it to regulate my cycles. I told her no, I just was taking a “break” from trying to conceive for a while (I’m well aware I didn’t need to be on BCP for that, but it’s what I wanted). So in any case, she tells me not to take them anymore, and we can check my levels again next cycle.

So that’s it, my mind starts reeling, when can we cycle next, will I be away on my work trip, how much fucking further is this going to push our timeline? It might not be until the end of the year if we have to do a frozen transfer. In the middle of losing my mind, my phone rings. It’s the clinic again. The nurse says that yes, it was because of the BCP that my estrogen was high. She said to me that “I went behind their backs and took birth control…ha ha, I’m only kidding!”. I then informed her that it was in fact my IVF Dr. that prescribed them to me back in April, and he told me it would make my cycle easier to manipulate. “Oh”, was the only response I got. “Well you can start your meds on Jul. 20.” I’m sorry what? She said that my Dr. told her the clinic used to use BCP with the cycles, so it was fine for me to start stimming on Jul. 20, and we would carry on from there.

At this point my head was about ready to explode, from nervous excitement, to crushing disappointment to cautious hope. So apparently we are a go. I am starting my stimming meds 3 days later than initially planned, but whatever. I just hope this doesn’t cause problems with the rest of my cycle because the asshats at the clinic can’t keep track of what meds they’ve given me.

So since I had the rest of the day off, I’ve spent it watching Sex and the City reruns, and wouldn’t you know the first episode that was on was the one where Miranda finds out she’s accidentally pregnant and Charlotte finds out she only has a 15% chance of having a baby. Well played universe, salt in the wound.

If you’ve held on to the end, gold star to you, stay tuned for updates.

*Oh, also, thank you for the concern for my hubby, his lump evidently is a blood bruise. He got hit playing lacrosse and apparently the blood just hasn’t reabsorbed. At least that’s one potential crisis averted.