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Day 33, Sort of

Well hello there. Yesterday’s hearing was baffling. I thought about it on my walk to my blood work and ultrasound appointment this morning. The nominee was hysterical when reading aloud his personally written statement. I laughed when he announced he had written it himself like a child might, and then thought “Well yeah, no one rational would sign off on this unhinged, partisan rant.”

I found his behavior and responses wholly disqualifying for the position, regardless of the accusation, which I also believed.

I’ve also been reading analyses of the hearing, and the consensus seemed to be there should be more investigation because she was credible.

I was feeling bloated too, but not so much that I couldn’t walk on the first partly sunny morning we have had in a while. The check-up went smoothly! The nurse used a smaller needle to draw blood on my right arm, and the Doctor was in this morning and measured my follicles. She told me there was a chance I would trigger tonight with an extraction Sunday. I was super giddy to hear this, because I am not interested in receiving more shots, and I feel like my ovaries are going to explode already. She said my blood work would determine the final call.

I asked the Doctor about something David would have to do, and I’m not elaborating here, but I’m documenting it because I returned home and recapped this interaction with David who was annoyed with me about it, but then we had a good laugh.

Anyway, work was busy, but I anxiously waited for my follow-up call formally telling me about the trigger time. And I finally got it around 3pm! Caitlin, my nurse, shared it was trigger night and that I would get a call with the exact time from the operating room. There are 14 large follicles right now. And I don’t have to take the Cetrotide shot in the morning, just a blood test.
So Yay! This phase is almost over!

Something I learned today: estrogen is the reason for discharge. I shared that I had quite a bit of discharge, and the doctor explained that that was because I have a lot of estrogen right now.

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Day 32, Sort of

Today is Thursday. It’s a pretty big day, because Dr. Ford is going to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Panel. It’s a “she said, he said, only witness says he didn’t, but witness refuses to actually testify” situation, so I don’t know what is going to happen! All I know is that most companies would not hire someone with these many allegations, and this is a lifetime appointment to one of the highest positions in the country.

Last week my dad said that the public is not interested in sexual transgressions, and really Americans are worried about the multiple wars we are in and the death and poverty around the world.

Today is also another day of blood work and ultrasound. On Tuesday, a friend of mine asked if I wanted a recommendation for a good acupuncturist, and I shared I was not interested in more needles. It officially took 7 days for me to really become wary of needles. The nurse today missed the vein on the first try and starting moving the needle around inside my right arm looking for the vein, and I started to panic in my head. I asked her to switch to my left arm, where there were more bruises from other pulls that made the target easier to find. I even drank quite a bit of water this morning hoping that would help with the blood. Last night when David extracted the needles it nicked my skin both times and I squirted some blood. “David! Be careful!” I whined, and he said he was being careful. Then I kissed him on the forehead (he sits and I stand for the injections) and realized he was sweating. So neither of us are enjoying the needles.

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Day 31, Sort of

This morning I drove to my bloodwork and ultrasound appointment. I was planning to walk after David administered the morning shot, but I didn’t feel comfortable, so one minute into the walk I turned around and got into my car.

Last night I also felt uncomfortable, and I wasn’t sure if it was the ovaries or the tights I was wearing. I had to stand up throughout the night and sit awkwardly during D&D. I don’t think anyone noticed.

Yesterday I had five eggs in my left ovary and five eggs in my right ovary. Based on the preliminary analysis from this morning, I’m at eight eggs in my left ovary and eleven eggs in my right ovary! “You were busy last night,” she said. I sure was! I asked if I could take a picture of the ultrasound, and she printed one for me. So here you go! A picture of ovaries chock full of follicles that might have eggs in them. The follicles are the black spots. My estrogen was 1977 when this photo was taken.

I did become concerned that I have too many follicles and started researching OHSS, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. I compared the photo to pictures online, and I read different accounts. When my nurse called me, she shared that that happens after the egg retrieval. So nothing to worry about for now! For the bloating she recommended drinking Gatorade for the electrolytes. I don’t care for Gatorade, so I squeezed some lemon into water instead, because according to the internet lemon has electrolytes too.

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Day 30, Sort of

I walked to my bloodwork and ultrasound appointment this morning, after David gave me the Cetrotide shot. The forecast said it was not going to rain, so I wore a city slicker jacket which looks like a raincoat and costs like a raincoat, but it’s maybe just a windbreaker or a layer of clothing. It’s definitely NOT water proof. It looks cool and has a flattering cut, so I like wearing it.

Anyway it was sprinkling when I stepped outside, and I rationalized a little sprinkle would be lovely on the walk, perhaps it would feel invigorating. I welcomed it.

After three blocks it started pouring. This turn of events was less welcome, but I kept going because turning back would make me late(r).

3/4 of the way there, the sidewalk was closed! It was closed for just two blocks. I didn’t even know they were planning construction there.

I arrived at the office 8 minutes late, which was fine, there were several people ahead of me. One woman was lifting an 8lb weight with her left hand in the waiting room. “That’s a great idea!” I said to her, thinking she was trying to get in a little exercise. “It’s the only way they can see the vein,” she replied sheepishly, lifting more.

I felt bloated this morning, but I pretty much always feel bloated, so I could not tell if the medication is causing it or it’s just Tuesday.

The Doctor did my ultrasound, and she said things were moving along and it looks like we have another week before the removal. This was upsetting because I was hoping we could wrap this up this week! She shared I have some little follicles they are interested in seeing progress, so they can retrieve as many potential eggs as possible. The smaller follicles might not have eggs, she shared, but they want to optimize the retrieval.

I walked back home in the rain.

When I got home, I saw the Washington Post had a digital clip of a young woman deciding whether or not to freeze her eggs. A therapist asked her how she would feel if she froze the eggs and found out that they did not work. She thoughtfully responded, “I’d be upset about all the money wasted.” I thought that was a super honest answer, no matter what stage you are in in the process. It’s all so expensive.

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Day 29, Sort of

This morning David administered a package of Cetrotide, per instructions we received last night. Cetrotide is to prevent ovulation. And tonight he will administer a lower dose of Gonal F and a higher dose of Menapur. Gonal F is to stimulate the follicles and Menapur is to help stimulate the follicles and ovulation. It sounds like these drugs are all fighting each other, but the gist of it is that they’re trying to grow a bunch of follicles (rather than just one) at the same time so they can extract a handful of eggs.

The nurses recommend avoiding exercise during this process, but you are allowed to walk. It’s raining outside, so I roamed the building hallways a little, got the mail, and put my registration stickers on my car license plate. You’re also supposed to limit twisting motions, and it has made me a little more conscious of how often I’m twisting in general. Whether it’s sleeping, sitting on the couch, or even sitting at my desk, for some reason my body is rarely entirely facing forward.

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Day 28, Sort Of

I’ve been just terrible at updating – I’m sorry about that. However counting days has been a helpful reminder of how quickly time flies!

I took my last birth control pill on the 16th. I do believe the pills made me irritable, because on September 7th (day 12) I saw a sketch I had written performed. It had been edited, and I wanted to slap the person or people who had edited the sketch. It’s possible this dismay had nothing to do with the pills, because I’m still angry about it. Either way, I tried to limit my social interactions these past few weeks, lest my rage manifest itself through scathing, clever jabs that I could not take back.

On Day 22, the day after my last birth control pill, I had my check-in. They took blood and did an ultrasound to make sure everything looked good. On Day 24 I got my period, which is a good thing, because if I had started bleeding when they need to extract the eggs, that would have been a problem.

Day 25 was the first day we administered shots. We decided 11pm would be our recurring time. David was a champ: we watched the videos again, he mixed the Menapur, and he applied the shots. The first night the shots didn’t hurt, but the second night the shots did hurt. And last night the Menapur hurt.

Day 28, today, was the day to go in for bloodwork and ultrasound. Based on the results, they would let me know whether to change dosage and whether to take additional medicine. David woke up early to come with me to the appointment, but then I told him he didn’t have to come because he had already done so much. He accepted my empty offer to stay home – which is on me, I should have been more clear about my real needs – I drove to the facility in the rain, and I took the wrong exit, because I did not see the sign correctly and I generally have a terrible sense of direction.

When the nurse took blood, I winced. “I take it you don’t like needles,” she quipped, and I shared I was fine with them before, but given the general increase of needles over the past few days I’ve become more wary of them. Then in the ultrasound room I put the paper cover on the way I normally do, wrapping it all the way around me. Apparently this is incorrect. You are just supposed to use the paper to cover on top of you. You don’t sit on the paper. The ultrasound tech pointed the error out to me. Then I fixed it and asked how I should sit on the chair. The ultrasound tech asked if it was my first ultrasound and shared that she didn’t see a note in my chart about it being my first ultrasound, and had she known, she would have given me more guidance up front. This was closer to my 20th ultrasound, so I shared it wasn’t my first but that the chair was a little different. It was different. The back of the chair was flat, and normally the back of the chair is at an angle. In she went with the probe, and I have 16 follicles on the left ovary and 20 follicles on the right ovary. I asked her about the pain I felt around the medication, and she shared I would have to speak to a nurse and that she was only the technician and not qualified to dispense medical advice.

I shared the irritation in my stomach area with the nurse. “Do you have a lot of muscle in your abdominal area?” she asked.
“I…like to think so, yes,” I replied. (I don’t have the six-pack I aspired to a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not so shabby.)
“The more muscle you have there, the more it’s going to hurt,” she said. “Well that makes me feel better,” I replied.
“You can apply it to other parts of your body, like your thighs,” she advised.

I don’t mean to brag, dear blog, but there’s muscle there too!

Anyway, then I got back in the car, in the rain, and took the wrong exit coming home. But I made it home! I stopped on the way to go grocery shopping with my brother, and I might have bought some Nutella.

And then I might have eaten that Nutella.

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Day 14, Sort Of

Thursday we had our training session for how to administer the drugs for the IVF. David came with me, which I thought would be a good idea, because I want him to know every detail and be a real part of the process. This turned out to be a mixed blessing.

There were two other women in the training session, and their husbands didn’t come. This is only bad because I felt bad. One woman said in a sincerely jovial manner, “My husband’s going to hear about this!” Then she followed up with: “He got in late last night, and he’s already at work, so I’ll give him a pass.” I instantly liked her and honestly felt like she was someone I would be friends with. If I were younger and had more free time, I would have befriended this woman.

The same woman also gave us some pointers about purchasing medication if you are doing self-pay: she compared the two retailers to the pricing Aetna gave her for buying the drugs. Buying directly from the people who had the deals with Shady Grove (rather than the Aetna pricing) saved almost $10,000! She also said that depending on who she had spoken to, she heard different pricing for the drugs each time she called, because some people knew to look up discounts. The other woman was really nice too, and she had different drugs than the rest of us. I was curious about her treatment, but I don’t know what the etiquette around asking is yet.

We got started with the instructions, and the nurse had laid out practice needles and medicines for us to mix. David was so focused, however, I couldn’t get my hands on any of the medicine. He kept raising his hand to ask questions too. I practically had to pull one of the insertion pens away from him, so I could try practicing with it. But I had to do it subtly so that the other people did not think we were having marital issues or that we weren’t a good team. I don’t know why that felt important to me. I took notes and David paid close attention, so between the two of us we should be able to mix the drugs and provide the correct dosage. They also sent follow-up videos, which was a tremendous relief because that previous sentence I _just_ wrote about us being able to provide the correct dosage based on our notes was a straight up lie. I don’t know why I wrote it. I did not believe it. We will probably play the videos the first few times.

So here’s something else that has been going on:

On Day 2 of birth control (28th), when I last wrote, I had a serious thought. “This is my last chance to get rock hard abs.”
I vowed to get a six pack while I did not have to worry that there was a person growing inside me. I got on the Peloton and cycled hard for 30 minutes, then I took a 10 minute arms class. And at night when we got drinks with friends, I stood the entire time, I asked for water and drank it while sucking in my gut, to strengthen my abdominal muscles. I played tennis extra hard. I rode the bicycle aggressively. I cut back on chocolate.

Then we went to New York and I ate four donuts in twenty minutes, so I remain sans six pack.

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Day 2 Sort of

Greetings! I have just had my second birth control tablet. Last night I ate some cheese and caffeinated iced tea, so I’m already living it up.

I was also moody during Dungeons and Dragons, but I don’t know if I can blame that on the birth control. Currently in the game we are being held captive by magic wrist bands of some sort. In exchange for our freedom we have to do the bidding of the local colonizers. But I have yet to see evidence that anyone has been freed from these bands before, so as far as I’m concerned, we are just helping oppressors who have not demonstrated they are acting in good faith. My character feels similarly.

I also learned that the app I use to track my period has a “TTC” setting. TTC is short for trying-to-conceive. I think that’s a new feature. I activated it, and there are so many additional components I did not know about! There are charts you can complete, words I did not know before (what is ferning?), and symbols to help identify important times of the month. Fascinating!

I just looked up ferning. I think I’m going to buy a microscope.

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Day 1 Sort of

Greetings! I have just had my first birth control tablet, which marks the official start of the foray into IVF.

I think the birth control is supposed to set internal things to neutral, so when the time is right, they can stimulate the ovaries to produce a bunch of eggs at the same time that they can eventually extract.

Now that I’m back on birth control, I’m thinking about going on a real bender. I’m talking unpasteurized cheeses, caffeinated tea, cured meats, sashimi, really just throwing caution to the wind.

We signed some forms. My sister gets our frozen embryos if we die. I haven’t told her. I’ll leave that as a fun surprise for her to learn about should such a tragedy occur.

Over the weekend I played tennis, and in the midst of the playing, my knee started to feel shaky. This was pretty upsetting, because you need your knees in tennis, and I run a lot when I play. Over the weekend I was also bitten by some treacherous mosquitos – the bites are so big. I scratch and I scratch.

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A Day of Firsts

It is me! I got my period today. It was four days late. This is a first for me.

Anyway, to provide a sense for how optimistic I still was that I was pregnant: I peed into my urine test cup. It was bright red with my period soaked urine. Then I put a pregnancy test strip into the blood soaked cup and waited for the line to appear that would confirm I was not pregnant.

The test strips I use are super cheap, so I wasn’t being reckless with money. I have a box of 100 test strips. I hate those strips because the purple not-pregnant line is so dark. I feel like it’s taunting me every time.

As another first, I am now wearing an organic cotton pad. I bought a pack in Bath, Maine to see what was all the rage. It’s super thick. Let’s see whether organic cotton is any match for my rapidly shedding uterine lining.

Now we begin our journey into sophisticated fertility treatment.

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