Monday, May 29, 2006

Here we go again...almost

I am amazed how many people are reading this! Up to 20 different countries now which is really quite cool - although I worry that in 10 years time I'll be chatting to someone from Argentina or Zaire who will suddenly say "ohhh YOU'RE pixxiee!" LOL.

Finally a bit of progress - this morning's blood test came back at very low levels, so the follicles have done their thing and gone away. So, I finally get to stop taking the Provera and let my body do it's thing - then we start the Birth Control Pill again and from there we will get our dates for the next IVF cycle.

It's quite good timing as my ear ache is just starting to clear up! I'd actually like a few days feeling good before we start off again, so it looks as though I might get those!!! Fingers crossed, a long weekend coming up and hopefully some fine weather to carry on working on our home improvement projects.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Another day, another blood test

Just an update for those who keep checking back! It's a little boring when there is not much happening isn't it?

I was supposed to go for a blood test last Thursday, but with this ear infection I ended up having some time off work, so went today. And I just got the call from the clinic that my estrogen level actually increased rather than decreased, so the follicles are obviously deciding they want to hang around a bit. So, I stay on the Provera till next Monday and another blood test then before they decide I can have a period and start the pill!

I honestly think if you shake me, I'll rattle. Current morning medication is one pre natal vitamin, one antibiotic tablet, two pain killers. Lunch time, two pain killers and another antibiotic. Then just for fun in the evening it's two Provera tablets, two pain killers and another antibiotic. I finish up with two more pain killers for supper. My ear is definately getting better though - last night was the first night I hadn't woken up in pain at some ungodly hour.

Poor hubby woke up at 3.45am yesterday morning (Sunday) with chest pains. I was already up waiting for pain killers to kick in, so we drove off to the A and E department at North Shore Hospital. They wired him up, took some blood, and did an ECG - all perfectly normal, but they treat it quite seriously so decided to keep him in for the day. I came home at about 10am and had a wee nap (I'd only had about three hours sleep) and then went back to the hospital about 2pm. They repeated the tests and all were fine, so we were home about 6.30 and apart from being a little tired he is doing good. They think it was either a strained muscle or rib ligaments, but they agreed it was better to be safe than sorry.

What really amazed me was that during the time he was in the hospital he was seen by probably five sets of doctors and nurses - and every time, they asked the same questions. And got the same answers. AND made notes of those answers. Now, I know they are making sure that they know his symptoms and that nothing gets missed, but don't you think they could have cut out a lot of time and effort by having a file with his name on it with the questions he had been asked already?

Having said that, the staff were very good and took care of him well. It's lovely that nothing is wrong with my boy! I think we are both in need of a very quiet week of recovery though!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Drugs, Drugs and More Drugs

Well, Monday's blood test showed my Estrogen level was down to 175 - the blood taker and I are becoming quite good mates now. I go back for another one on Thursday (and hopefully we can find the vein that doesn't take five minutes to fill half a tube!)

Today, I start taking Provera for ten days, to get my body back to normal (and make sure those little follicles have all done their thing and shrunk away). Then I start the contraceptive pill again after that, and then...back to the injections. Will not know dates for a while though, so in a wee holding pattern for a while.

On top of all that, I have managed to get an ear infection (which I never have before) and it is bugging me to the point that hubby and I are going to up to the emergency doctor after dinner. Hopefully he'll give me some really good drugs, because the way things are going, I can't hear out of my left ear. Or is that can't hear IN my left ear?

EAR INFECTION UPDATE - went up to the emergency doctor who said "have you had the flu lately?" He checked my ears and both are inflamed - so what I thought was a Gonal F side effect was actually really the flu which causes these ear inflammations! Sheesh. And I went to work every day no matter how bad I felt...hehe. So, nasal spray and antibiotics for a while.

Not much else to report - all my work girls and boys are away at conference - I stayed home as it was supposed to be egg retrieval week, and as my co worker is away in Greece. Sigh. I hope they are all enjoying themselves while I hold the fort. Really. I mean that with all my heart :-)

Just remember work folks - you may be off enjoying yourself now, but you'll have me on hormones to deal with again soon enough!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thanks all...

Thanks to all my real friends, and those friends inside my computer :-)

For all the comments, emails and phone calls thank you! This is a wee setback, but next time I am sure it will go better. Better to get to the end of the cycle knowing we had the best response, the best eggs, and the therefore the best chance, than go in half pie.

Hugs and thanks again

Friday, May 12, 2006

Cycle Cancelled

Had my ultrasound this morning which only showed two or three very small follicles on the left ovary. The right ovary couldn't be seen at all. The doctor mentioned the surgery I had previously on my right ovary and wondered if part of it had been removed. I reminded him that he had been "in there" in February, and surely he would have noticed. He had the grace to laugh at least.

He thought that given the low hormone levels to date, it was very unlikely that the right ovary was doing very much at all, so we left it at that and I waited for the blood test results to come back this afternoon. Unfortunately, the level had only increased to 503, which meant that going ahead with this cycle would be a huge gamble given that we only had two to three very small eggs.

So...decision made to cancel this cycle and try again next time - starting out a higher dosage with the hope of getting a better response. No guarantees, but at least we know now that I am a slow "responder" so they can keep an eye on that a bit earlier.

Right now the thought of starting all over again is really hard. But, I have proven that I can inject myself, that I can (mostly) have a normal work life while undergoing IVF, and why throw away all that money on a very iffy egg retrieval when waiting a month or two and upping the dosage might give us a better chance of success.

Yeah, I feel blue. I feel quite gutted right now. I feel like those 27 injections, those 3 blood tests, those headaches and tears, were all for nothing. But I also know it was the right call to make - that going ahead with lousy indicators was tantamount to asking for failure. I'd rather give it my best shot.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

We have Estrogen!!

Well, another blood test this morning, then I had to drop by the clinic to pick up some more Gonal F. I asked for a 900 pen (3 doses) but the nurse said she would rather give me 2 x 300 pens, enough for tonight and tomorrow night as we wouldn't have the blood results and know what was happening till this afternoon. I drove to work thinking that she thought this cycle might have to be cancelled. I felt pretty despondent actually.

But then! Got the call from her this afternoon and my estrogen is up to 303 (from less than 150) which is still fairly low, but enough to be going on with. So, Friday is another blood test and then my first ultrasound to check out my follies (affectionate term for my egg follicles which need all the encouragement they can get!).

So far - two blood tests and 23 injections. That's a lot of needles. If you are scared of needles, seriously consider doing an IVF cycle, it will cure you!

I am still quite headachy and tired, but have managed not to cry today (tears in my eyes at lunch with my mate Tania do not count as crying!). I've definately noticed that I am mood swinging quite a bit. It doesn't help that IVF feels a little like a rollercoaster to me right now...

So anyway, thanks to all for your estrogen laced thoughts, vibes and prayers, keep them coming and I'll let you know how it all goes on Friday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tears and Parsley

Well, it was a rough day today. A wee upset at work and my hormones were in overdrive - the increased dosage last night really hit home today with a pounding headache, inability to concentrate on anything more than one task at a time, and a bit of a miscommunication at work and I ended up in tears. I came home a wee bit early and had a bath and relaxed and feel a little better apart from the head still aching a bit.

Of course, my boss thought my wee breakdown today was fairly amusing. Especially after he had just finished telling his father (who was visiting) that I was actually pretty good and level so far. He spoke too soon! I think he saw the whole range of emotions today - and commiserated that Rupert gets the "night shift". Men!

Thanks to Shirley (my ever patient co worker) who gave me a parsley plant today - apparently if you give someone one they will be fertile. With my moonstone and fertility god and parsley and prayers, not to mention my horoscope, I think we have all the bases covered. Have a great time in Greece Shirl. Really. I did so mean it! Honest!

One reassuring thing is that a girl in my newsgroup had exactly the same problem as me with the low estrogen levels and the increased dose of Gonal F sorted it out. I guess I will find out tomorrow afternoon once the blood test results come in.

Till then, Rupes has had to go back into the office for a while, so I am going to make hay while the sun shines. Well, actually, I am going to have some dinner and then get into bed with my book!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The First Hiccup

As you know, I started the Gonal F injections on Friday (three stim injections so far) of 225 IU each time. I had my first blood test this morning and the nurse called me this afternoon to let me know that my Estrogen level was still too low. It is less than 150, which means I am not reacting as strongly to the drugs as they had hoped.

So, the plan is to up my dosage from tonight to 300 (unfortunately that means 2 injections plus the normal one as I don't have enough left in the pen to do just one!). They will test my blood again on Wednesday to see what effect that has had.

Chances are, if the estrogen level has not risen high enough to satisfy, they may cancel this cycle and we will have start again. I'm feeling pretty bummed right now, although I do know it is early days yet and it is possible that the increased dose will do the trick. I just dread having to stop now and then start all over again. I know that I will do it if that is the only option (it just means we have to pay for another set of drugs) but I'd really so much rather that THIS was the one.

Those that pray - please pray. Those that don't, feel free to send good vibes and estrogen laced thoughts in our direction.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lucky Thirteen?

Another very lazy day - it was clear and cool and gorgeous outside but I felt very weary, sore tummy, and somehow managed to hurt my right arm during the night. Don't ask me what I was doing, I think I just slept on it funny! We had both cats on the bed with us again last night and I know Dream tends to sneak up to lay right between Rupes and I, so I think I probably adjusted for her in my sleep! And am paying for it now...

So, thirteen injections completed now and I have my first blood test tomorrow morning. This is to measure how the drugs are working and will be used in conjunction with my ultrasound scan on Wednesday morning to alter the dosage if needed. I'm wondering if the "phlebotomist" would let me draw my own blood given my hard won needle experience!

Here's a little known fact - older follicle stimulating hormone drugs (FSH) were made from the urine of post menopausal nuns. I'm really glad they don't have to make it that way anymore. Ewwww. And what if you aren't Catholic?

Work again tomorrow but I will get there a bit late given that the earliest I can have a blood test is 7.30 am (and I usually get to work between 6.30 and 7.00). I'm sure they will cope - or maybe they won't even notice :-)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Such a lazy Saturday

We had a latish (for us) Friday night - a good mate came over for dinner and then we watched Harry Potter, Goblet of Fire - great movie but very long! So, got to bed around 11.30 and then the alarm went off at 5.45 am for morning injection time. Once I'd done the shot, we were both well and truly awake, so I think it will be an early night tonight.

All three injections went well today - I was a bit nervous after last night's pain, but am going to have to try the right hand side of my tummy again soon - I can't shove every shot into the left hand side!

Been feeling quite tired and achy and sore all day, so have done pretty much nothing except hot baths, naps, and reading. Rupes was to go off sailing, but the boat didn't have a sail, so he came home. We were supposed to go out tonight but I am a little uncomfortable and we are both tired, so I think a night in will do us good.

Big thanks to Cat, my sister in law, who sent me a moonstone which you cleanse either in moonlight or the ocean and then keep with you to aid fertility. It's going out into the moonlight shortly and I'll keep it with me "Aunty" Cat - thanks heaps!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ouch! I lost my sense of humour! pride goeth before a fall. I thought I was doing so well with the jabs, but we went off to the bedroom to do the first injection - the one I have been doing without problem since Wednesday. Stuck it in and pulled it out straight away - it hurt! Really stung. Sent Rupes to the kitchen to check the chicken while I regained my composure, then tried again and no problems.

So, then it was onto the stimulant drug - Gonal F, which comes in quite a big fancy pen thing that you dial the dosage and then pull the wee knob. All ready to go and I freaked - it looked so big and I thought it was going to inject all off the dosage. Duh. A few tears and then Rupes quietly explained that I was only taking a quarter of the dose. And that the air bubble in the tube wouldn't go into me because of the angle of the tube.

All done. Feeling a bit like a dork. Apologies to Rupert for waving a syringe in his direction and suggesting we get rid of the air bubble in HIS tummy instead of mine.

TGIF. Have I said that already?

Three is a charm...

Ahh Friday. Love the thought of two whole days off to relax - it has been a really busy week at work, but I am not going in over the weekend, they will just have to manage without me!

Only three things of note to report today - firstly, a big hug to someone from my newsgroup I won't name, but who had a positive pregnancy test today. I know it's early days yet dear girl - but you made me smile. Congratulations!

The second thing is that today I get the dubious fun of adding a third daily injection to my repertoire. In the "infertility jargon" this is known as a stim injection - and that is what it does. It stimulates the ovaries to produce lots of follicles with lots of eggs (we hope). So, it will be three injections per day from here on in.

The third thing is very upsetting. I was trying very hard to make a smily face with my injection marks below my belly button, but I went in a bit wonky last night and now my smily face is no more. It's just a line of wee red dots. Oh well.

Otherwise, I am feeling fairly well, starting to get a few aches and pains along with the hot flushes, and the mood is definately "on the edge and can tip either way". As Rupert found out last night when he came in to the lounge to tell me he had forgotten to put the veges in the microwave but still had turned it on and there was a really "cool blue flash" and some funky smoke.

After I had finished explaining that I was the one who was supposed to be forgetful while on meds, and that we couldn't afford a replacement microwave given what we are spending on IVF, and how on earth was I going to manage without my microwaved porridge each morning and my wheat bag heated up each night, well, the poor boy ran for cover. I think we came to the conclusion later that if anything terrible happens, I really don't want to know till it is fixed!

However, I'm pleased to announce the microwave must have heard my ravings and managed to heal itself, so the wheat bag was toasty last night after all!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Random Acts and Moments

I feel almost like an expert now - three injections done, and can juggle the needle and the medication all by myself!

Yesterday was a funny day - was feeling a little emotional, and had what I think were hot flushes (but it could have been just work stress!). My boss took me into his office and showed me his holiday photos till the moment passed. But random acts of kindness seem to have a tear inducing effect on me - I got a wee container of flowers from our manager at work and that started me off, then this text from a good friend:

The warm rain's falling, the plants are forming; what a great day to grow things :-)

I liked it very much but it did make me teary! Then of course Rupes and I curled up to watch a movie - Shadowlands about C S Lewis and the love of his life. We had to turn it off before the end as I couldn't see for crying!

On the good side, apart from a slightly achy tummy, I slept very well and am feeling a little less tired than I have been all week. And tomorrow is Friday, which means only two more days of work to get through and I have the weekend to really chill out and relax!

Thanks for the comments and emails folks - it really does help.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Just a little prick!

I'm not going to bore you by giving you a daily record of the injections - but today was the first one! It was on my mind all night - in fact, I think I woke up hourly from 3am just to make sure I didn't sleep through it, which would have been interesting as the alarm always goes off at 5.30am so there wasn't much chance of missing it!

I was a little nervous about it, but it went fine - upending the bottle of medication with the needle stuck into it to draw down the correct amount was a bit of a fiddle, but Rupert held the bottle while I pulled the plunger down, and then in it went. Instinctive reaction was to put the needle in, press the plunger, and pull it out straight away, but you have to hold the needle in for about five seconds to give the drugs time to get into the tissue. So I just counted out loud and then we were done.

So, one injection down, about forty to go! Next one is at 6pm tonight, so at least I will be more awake!

Monday, May 01, 2006

I don't believe in Fertility Symbols

At least, I don't think I do!

But when Rupes brought home little Tangaroa (or not so little!!!) as a gift from Jo and Sarah from their time in the Cook Islands, I figured that any help was good help. Thanks girls!

So, wee Tangy will be strategically placed to keep watch over the medications and imbue them with that certain something he apparently has!

Paula (and the rather jealous Rupert...) Posted by Picasa

A Layman's Guide to IVF

A couple of folks have asked me just how this whole IVF thing works - which is a great question! I forget sometimes that we have been rather immersed in this process for a while and that other people have no idea! So here is the rough guide to what happens.

Firstly, they check to make sure you have nothing wrong with your insides that could interfere with a pregnancy. Then they run lots of blood tests to make sure you are actually ovulating (producing an egg each month). They also check the sperm for movement and health and numbers.

Once all that is done they put the female onto the contraceptive pill for about a month to stop her ovulating, and keep her "regular". When all is in readiness, the pill is stopped and three days later she starts injecting hormonal drugs to stimulate the egg follicles to make eggs - more than one! The aim is around seven to eight. Frequent blood tests and ultra sounds are performed to measure the number of follicles (which is where the eggs come from) and their size. When all looks good a trigger injection is given to "mature" the eggs which are then harvested by use of a needle a day or so later.

These eggs are then placed in a dish and sperm is added. In carefully controlled conditions the eggs and sperm are left overnight, with eggs that have fertilised being cultured for a further couple of days. The aim is to have two to three eggs for implantation with any extras being frozen for future use. Then, the eggs are placed back into the uterus again by use of a needle where they hopefully will take hold and implant, becoming a pregnancy!

As you can see, there are a lot of steps to this process - and at any time, at any step along the way, a bad result will see us having to stop this cycle. For example, if I react too strongly to the drugs and start making a lot of eggs, they will have to stop as those eggs will not be good quality, and we would have to consider starting over on a different drug dosage.

So, all we can say is watch and wait with us! There are no guarantees, but it sure is worth a damn good try!


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