January felt like such a long, drawn out month but in hindsight it flew by. I decided against keeping the blog updated with every step of our infertility journey and instead felt it best to have a single snapshot at the end of our current attempt. Why? To maintain some sense of privacy. You understand.
Our first cycle with our RE was unsuccessful but we did have minor victories along the way. In the infertility world, those small victories are HUGE accomplishments.
For starters, I had an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) back in December quickly after the first consult with our RE. This test is a radiology procedure where they make sure the fallopian tubes are clear and open. Basically they shoot a bunch of dye in your uterine cavity and take X-Rays while the dye travels through your tubes. It was a super fun way to kick off the Christmas holidays! Result of the HSG: My tubes were open! Small victory #1.
After the green light from the HSG we waited for the next cycle to begin so I could start all of the medications. Using injections requires close monitoring so over the course of the 12 day treatment I had the following:
4 ultrasounds (not the fun kind)
4 labs to check my E2 levels
7 Gonal-F injections administered in the late afternoon by yours truly (to make my follicles grow)
4 Cetrotide injections administered in the late afternoon by yours truly (to prevent ovulation)
1 Ovidrel trigger injection (to force ovulation)
1 intrauterine insemination
25 doses of Endometrin (progesterone)
At the second ultrasound, after I had been on 125 units of Gonal-F for 3 days, we discovered that I could grow follicles! After clomid + letrozole had failed to do ANYTHING, this was super exciting to know that there is a medication that works on me! Coming in at a little over $1k for 7 days worth but hey, it worked...
almost too well.
Having PCOS, I start each cycle off with 10+ tiny follicles in each ovary. That is 15+ more than the average bear. 15+ that could all mature. All it takes is one mature follicle to produce an egg and the more you grow, the higher your chance of having a multiple pregnancy or OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). I was at risk for the entire cycle being cancelled but my RE lowered the Gonal-F dose to slow down those follicles and it did. Victories all around!
My estrogen levels also stayed in the perfect range after the Gonal-F was lowered (it was on the high end at one point) and once I had mature follicles (any over 18mm in size) we were told to take the trigger shot and come in 36 hours later for the IUI procedure.
The IUI procedure was really nothing to write about. I know several ladies who had IUIs that felt like it was a barbaric chastity technique but I felt little discomfort. The worst part was having my husband in the room, no offense. Imagine having your spouse in the room during your annual pap smear. IT'S GROSS, dude. I don't even want to know what is happening down there let alone ever again making eye contact with whoever saw that sight. To be clear, I firmly believe that when babies are born the dad paces the hallway with an unlit cigar then enters (when prompted by the medical staff) a pristine, white room where he sees his wife holding their newborn in a clean, blue or pink blanket. Call me old fashioned or cackle all you want but all I have to say is "eww".
The two week wait after the IUI, formally known as the TWW on the interwebs, was painful. Not physically. We are talking emotional pain. First of all, the trigger shot I mentioned is HCG, the pregnancy hormone. So for at least a week your body has HCG coursing throughout and guess what, it mimics early pregnancy. It's a cruel, cruel joke. You have to tell yourself to stop being so freaking crazy and that of course you feel pregnant because you technically have the same hormone that all of your 500 current pregnant friends have.
But then all of the symptoms just stop. No more cramps. No more bloating. No more sore boobs. No headaches. No nausea. Nothing.
We went in to the IUI with 5 mature follicles and a miraculous sperm count. The last thing our RE said to us was "Don't make too many babies".
We didn't make a single one.
This sucks. There isn't any other way to say it. Our health insurance doesn't cover anything related to infertility. We don't get a refund. We don't get a clear explanation of why the IUI failed. We don't get a guarantee that it won't happen again.
But we press on.
My type A-impatient self went ahead and made our IVF consult. Our next step is to bring out the big guns: IVF with ICSI.