Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My little ravioli (or pierogie, as Lexie calls him)

This morning, I went into the office for my embryo transfer. I had pre-transfer acupuncture, which was pretty cool. It was my first time ever doing acupuncture, but I wasn't nervous. I've had so many piercings and tattoos, those little acupuncture needles will never hold a candle to my body mods! I had a needle in my head, two in each ear, one in each wrist, two in my belly, and one in each of my calves and feet. It was definitely a different experience. I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I can say I came out of the spa area feeling much more relaxed than I was when I went in.

We all know I was really nervous after my egg retrieval that I would end up with all female embryos, and I was stressing over it for the last four days. Well... of the four embryos, ONE IS A MALE!!!! One was a female; the test didn't work on the third, so we don't know what gender it is; and the fourth one grew so fast, they were unable to biopsy it. I'm so blessed that one of the embryos is a male. He was implanted today around noon, and my beta pregnancy test is scheduled for June 5 at 1:00. Please, little man, stick in there!!!

This is him:

Lexie said he looks like a pierogie. I prefer to call him a ravioli, because I'm Italian, not Polish. Since he's half black, my mom decided that he was a cocoa puff. Whatever food he resembles, I love him already, and hope he decides to settle in there and stay until February!

OHSS is no fun...

So Memorial Day weekend SUCKED. After my retrieval on Friday, I slept almost all day. Naturally I was a lil sore and uncomfortable. Saturday, I was feeling worse. There was a lot of pressure in my abdomen and I was having shooting pelvic pains. By Sunday, I was waddling around like I was 8 months pregnant. It was ridiculous. Monday, I could barely move.

Yesterday, I called the doctor's office and they told me to come in so I could get checked out. Ultrasound showed there was a moderate amount of fluid in my abdomen, a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. The name says it all. Thanks, fertility drugs! But, in the overall scheme of things, going through it is worth the end result.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Here goes...

So I probably should've started this a while ago, but hey - what can you do? I'm starting it now. Life with a fucked up reproductive system is no fun. Especially when you're trying to conceive. Honestly, I'm starting to feel like a freakin' science experiment, being poked 'n prodded, cut open, sewn back together. It was to the point that the receptionists at my doctor's office began joking that they were gonna charge me rent.

"What the fuck is wrong with this girl?", you may ask. Well, I'll tell you. My uterus sucks at life. I have endometriosis, which I've had surgery for twice. Let me tell you, THAT was fun. I have adenomyosis. Both of my tubes are completely blocked with scar tissue, so there goes any shot in hell of getting pregnant the fun, old-fashioned way. Now I need to enlist the aid of mad scientists to create my spawn in a laboratory. In vitro fertilization, here we come.

Sooo... what's today? May 25? Something like that. I've been at this fertility treatment game for almost a month now. On April 27, I started injecting myself nightly with Lupron. So far, so good. Easy enough. I'm chubby anyway, so I barely even felt the needle. So I did this for almost 2 weeks. Then came the next phase. To my cocktail of injectable drugs I added Follistim, which was designed to stimulate my ovaries, along with the Lupron. Great. Wonderful. Piece of cake. Now I feel like a heroin addict, stabbing myself with two needles each night. Ok, I got this.

So I'm in the doctor's office like, every other day so they can suck my blood and repeatedly stab my cervix with an ultrasound wand in search of my ovaries, which are set wider apart than most women's. Fabulous. I get to see the follicles progress. The nurse starts getting excited because I'm so young (I'm 23) and I'm gonna get SO MANY eggs! By the time my ovaries are almost ready, I have 15 follicles on the right side, and 8 on the left. Woo hoo. By the end of the week and a half of follicle stimulating hormone, my ovaries felt like they were about to explode. I was prepared to see them come bursting through my abdominal wall at any moment.

The next step is to take an injection of hCG to stimulate ovulation. Now I'm a pro at stabbing myself in the stomach, and by this time I have so many bruises on my belly that I'm starting to look like a victim of domestic violence. But this is my last injection. This was a Wednesday. That Friday, they retrieved my eggs.

"Retrieved your eggs?!" Yes. They stuck a rather large needle through my vaginal wall to each ovary. They then used the needle to suck the fluid (and the eggs within) from the follicles. Luckily, they gave me some lovely drugs, so I didn't feel a thing (well, until I woke up, that is). So they sucked the ova out of my body. Glorious.

I woke up from anesthesia. My vagina and ovaries hurt like hell. The nurse asked me if I remembered what I said before I went to sleep. Now I'm curious. Of course I don't remember. Well, apparently, I told Dr. Grossman, who performed the procedure, that he better not give me any white babies. Although I don't recall saying it, it's still a valid concern.

Before I left the office that day, they were able to tell me the number of eggs they collected. 13. 13! 13 eggs! Considering women on their own natural cycle only release one egg per 28 days, a baker's dozen is a like 1200% increase over the average. Not too shabby, right?

So now they're gonna defrost some sperm (that my Airman cryopreserved for us to use when the time came along), and use it to fertilize the eggs, and they'll call me the next day to tell me the results.

Well, remember the multitude of eggs I was so excited about? Dr. Grossman said normally 60-70% of them fertilize, so if I do my math right, I should have at least 7.8 embryos. Yeah, right. Seven of the eggs were worthless. There were only 6 mature eggs in that carton. And of the 6, two of them were duds. So alllll this work for 4 embryos. FOUR! Now most people would say, "Oh, that's WONDERFUL!" And I suppose they're right. It is wonderful. The miracle of life is beginning in a petri dish in a laboratory in Latham, New York. There's only one problem. We are NOT having a girl. With my fucked up reproductive system and all the pain and suffering it's caused me, and the conditions I have (which doctors and scientists are still unsure as to whether or not they're genetic), I am NOT going to risk possibly passing any or all of these issues onto a daughter of mine. NOT happening.

So there's this wonderful procedure called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), which was originally designed to screen the embryos for diseases like Down syndrome, Tay Sachs, etc., before they were implanted into the uterus to develop. More recently, it was discovered that using this method, most of the time, the gender of the embryo can be determined before it is implanted in the uterus. I was extremely excited to learn of this. Months before this whole cycle started, I called the Fertility Center to see if my insurance would cover this type of test, or if I'd have to pay out of pocket. The receptionist (dumb bitch that she is - I've gotten incorrect info from receptionists there at least 3 other times) eagerly assures me that my insurance does, in fact, cover this procedure. Awesome. Come to find out, when me and hubby went for a consultation before we started the cycle, out insurance DOES NOT cover PGD. But hey, they're running a special! If the eggs are retrieved before June, it's only $2,000! What a steal! After June 1st, the price will increase to $3600. So we got this! We'll do this before June!

So I pay the $2000 on the day of retrieval (mind you, I recently lost my job. I had to sell a car, cash in some savings bonds, steal some of hubby's money, and borrow $500 from my mom), thinking I'm going to get a good number of embryos, and therefore a pretty darn good chance that we'll get a few male spawn out of the deal.

I'm not gonna lie- when Dr. Grossman called me and said only 4 fertilized, I was disappointed. If we didn't get any boys out of this cycle, I have no idea how I would come up with $3600 for another round of PGD, short of prostitution or the criminal sale of controlled substances, which are both out of the question. There are a LOT of girls in hubby's family. A lot. So whatever gender these embryos are, the thanks (or the blame) can be directly attributed to his sperm. (Go XY! Go XY!) And we have bad luck to begin with, so God or whoever is probably laughing at us right now and each of those blastocysts is gonna have a vagina. That's what I'm afraid of.

I'm praying (which I never do, but I guess it's never too late to start) that we get AT LEAST 1 male embryo. Preferably more, because there's no guarantee that the embryo will develop once implanted in the uterus, and it's not uncommon that IVF patients go through one or more unsuccessful cycle before one actually sticks, and the embryo becomes a fetus, and the fetus becomes a baby, and the progeny that was created in a lab rips apart its mother's vagina (or ruins her wonderful abs) just to see what this world is like.

So, to recap, drugs, needles, more drugs, more needles, ovaries, eggs, embryos, BOYS!

Oh, and I forgot to mention - hubby is away for 8 weeks in San Antonio at Lackland AFB for basic military training. So I'm going it alone for the time being. And then he gets to leave to another 17 weeks in the fall for tech school.