Thursday, July 25, 2013

A life filled with" firsts"

"I went pee on the potty!!!" Instantly one pictures a toddler proudly boasting this news to their beaming parents standing above them on their training toilet. This quote instead came from me this Tuesday screaming out of the bathroom to Lou. This week my progress and recovery after the retrieval has been measured in a similar manner to the glorious milestones of a young child. I am proud to say I earned all of my gold star stickers since Tuesday, now able to go to the bathroom without any ailments, and almost sleep through the entire night. The frequent urge to use the bathroom throughout the evening has subsided and I am able to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time all night, which is greatly appreciated. 
This week started off extremely rough, but as it always does, it got much easier. On Wednesday I returned to work and was humbled at the warm welcome of all of my coworkers. The genuine concern and questioning all day was unbelievably kind and appreciated. One co worker even baked me cookies upon my return. My entire life, I have been the one who always worries about others, sends the check in messages, cards for everything (my friends often joke I keep Hallmark in business), it was nice to be on the receiving end of such thoughtfulness. Each day that passes I am feeling more like myself again. If I could just get this swollen midsection to disappear I would be overjoyed. I look and feel like a beach ball. I am beyond ready to be deflated. I gained 13 pounds throughout this IVF cycle, which is so very frustrating for several reasons. I realize it is for something that cannot be measured in pounds, but for me especially I am having a difficult time with this. Firstly, I look as uncomfortable as I feel. Second, I have been struggling with my weight for years, always have, but since January I have been focused and determined to lose weight and lost 32 pounds right before beginning IVF. I know once this weight from the fluid dissipates I will be able to get back on track and the weight will go down, but it is frustrating nonetheless. The part that hurts the most, more than a number on a scale, is the appearance. I honestly, all joking aside, look like I am rocking a baby bump. Now, more than ever what to expect when you're not expecting fits. The pain of knowing that there is no baby in there and never will be stings. The reminder that the end of IVF is the end of my physical contribution to creating my child. Most would think that especially after all the woes and troubles that went along with my retrieval, and all of the pain and inconveniences of injections would be even more reason for me to be glad to be done with IVF, it is a bittersweet ending for me. For now, the rest of this pregnancy, the creation of our child  is out of my hands. I need to be reminded that I do not need to carry my child in my stomach to be a Mom, I can carry them in my heart. "I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart."

This week has been a bit emotional, and on the eve of my Mom's fourteen year anniversary, I miss my Mom everyday, but this day, these anniversaries hurt more than other days. As one typically does after a loss, everything is measured by "lasts". July 26, 1999 was a last. The last time I saw my Mom. My last conversation with her, the last hug, that last kiss. Today instead I am remembering all of  the firsts,  she was my first friend, my first fan, and the first person I ever loved. In our day to day lives, we all forget to treasure the "firsts", these firsts are the moments that may one day be the "lasts" remembered.  Until we meet again Mom, I still have a lot of "firsts" to live <3

Monday, July 22, 2013

Serenity Now!!!

Saturday we got the phone call that all 8 embryos looked great and fertilized well, so all 8 were frozen. Such wonderful and great news, especially after my initial scare with producing so many follicles, and only having 9 eggs removed, with 1 not mature enough to save. This is fabulous news and both Lou and I could not be more thrilled with the outcome. Luckily this news came at the exact right time, as I am dealing with physical side effects of the egg retrieval, and in a vast amount of pain. Just goes to show you that as a mother you are willing and able to do anything for your children, putting them first and doing whatever it takes. While I am not a mother yet, as horrendous and physically and emotionally painful as this process is, I would do it all over again if it meant I would get the same outcome. I will be a mother thanks to all of this, and this pain is just a reminder that I would and will do whatever I have to to make this happen. With that being said....

 Warning: The following material may not be suitable for all viewers.

Well, it's not that serious or graphic but I thought I should still give some disclaimer to those who may not be interested in reading of the glorious side effects in my following rant.
I totally underestimated the pain that would follow this procedure. I honestly thought I would be up and back it the next day, relaxing and resting by the pool, posting those infamous pics everyone posts on Facebook and Instagram of their feet overlooking the pool. Instead, I been in bed since the retrieval  last Wednesday, missing out on work (unpaid) and while not feeling well, freaking out over the amount of work missed and bills piling up. I am bloated. I am more miserable and uncomfortable than I can even attempt to put into words. I literally look as though as I could pass as being pregnant at the moment because I am so swollen and full of fluid. I was told my ovaries are four times the size they should be, and filled with fluid, so that would explain it. The only thing bringing me any comfort is a heating pad on my abdomen. Every movement I make is agonizing, I can feel the pressure literally moving within me. I am unable to urinate, only small amounts at a time, and when I wipe it is a horrifying shade of neon yellow. I am constipated and have never wished so hard to have a bowel movement in my life. (For someone with Crohn's disease this is something you never, ever, wish upon yourself) Last night I found myself sitting on the toilet crying at 3 a.m. and just when I was about to literally lose my mind, the episode of Seinfeld with George Constanza's dad screaming "Serenity Now!!!" and throwing his hands up in the air came to mind. Still crying, I began laughing so hard that I was now sobbing. (yes, while on the toilet) and took a note from Miley Cyrus' Party in the USA song," I threw my hands up" and in true Constanza style chanted "Serenity Now..." First of all, the walls of my condo are pretty thin and at this point I am certain my neighbor is going to think I am certifiably insane and/or a raging alcoholic who yells weird things in the bathroom at ungodly hours. But let me tell you, it helped. While I am still waiting for my serenity to be reached, I am just sipping on my Gatorade with my heating pad in place. Sometimes in the middle of pure frustration and agony we just  need to be reminded to find serenity now. 

#justagirlandherheatingpad #nopoolforme

Thursday, July 18, 2013

One step closer

Yesterday, Wednesday, July 17th was the day. The big day. The most "egg"cellent day :) After all my injections, blood work, ultrasounds, and testing, this was the grand finale. One step closer to becoming a mom! I arrived at 8:30a.m., and after a quick costume change into a lovely patterned gown and a  fabulous hair net, I  had the IV started by the anesthesiologist and spoke to my doctor before going into the procedure room. After walking into the procedure room, my legs were strapped into two padded holders, similar to stir ups but much more comfortable and with Velcro straps to keep my legs from moving. So very 50 shades of grey, I know. Only more pain than pleasure occurs in this room. Once the anesthesiologist administered the medication, I do not recall a thing. The next thing I know, I was waking up in a hospital bed down the hall. My doctor had told me I would be awake but sedated during the procedure, more like blackout drunk status right there. Similar to those college days, the doctor and nurse told me stories about me talking and saying things I do not remember saying during the procedure. My doctor also informed me that he was able to get 9 eggs. Only 9? After all that hard work and prep, only 9? With the large number of follicles I produced with the IVF medications, I was expecting more. I was a little nervous yesterday that that number wasn't enough, that I once again would have my body to blame for Lou and I not having a child. Why I was so upset over 9 is beyond me, I guess the internet is both a tool and a weapon of mass destruction. Reading other women's blogs and forums about how they got 13, 25, and all these large numbers made me feel my 9 were inadequate somehow. I left the office nervous and upset, but hopeful that my 9 eggs would be sufficient.  The rest of the day yesterday was spent in bed with a heating pad on my abdomen and a nice mix of Percosets and Gatorade to relieve the pain and avoid OHSS. Just when I thought the shots were done....3 more injections given over 3 nights, medications to assist me in feeling better more quickly, so I will inject away with a smile.
Today I awoke with a major headache and so extremely sore in my stomach. I have spent the day in bed again today with my heating pad and enjoying the Criminal Minds marathon and catching up on some downloaded books on my Kindle I haven't had time to get to. I got the call today that made all the pain worth it, of the 9 eggs, 8 were mature, and 8 fertilized!! So it looks as though on Saturday we will have 8 embryos to freeze until May!!!!! One step closer...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's the Final Countdownnnn

31 days of  injections, 8 days of IVF medications, 7 consecutive days of blood work and ultrasounds. and today the final countdown clock begins! 

This week has been rough.   But no pain, no gain, right?  A few more days until this step is complete. Hard to believe it's almost done. Here is a few quick things this week I have come to "expect" when NOT expecting...

1. Expect to cry, a lot. Sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes because you are physically and mentally drained, or sometimes because you are driving in the car alone and that Ed Sheeran song just moves you to tears and you find yourself singing along with tears streaming down your face until you realize the person next to you is looking at you as though you have escaped from a mental institute. Sorry fellow passengers that ginger's lyrics are just THAT emotionally moving.

2. Expect to become best friends with the staff at your doctor's office. You will spend a lot of time here and with these people. And have a great deal of appointments early in the morning. It is vital that you have not only a great doctor, but staff who are helpful, kind, and easy to talk to. Every person at my doctor's office is amazing and I am grateful for this. They have made this part of my journey much easier and more bearable and I can not speak highly enough of them. 

3. Expect to be a frequent flyer at Starbucks. I have never been so tired in my life, going to bed each night at 8 or 9 p.m. and still awaking feeling as though I have not slept at all. The walking dead zombies have nothing on me this week, as I look as though I have crawled out from under a rock. I might as well throw on a red leather jacket and waddle to the sounds of "Thriller" with an IV of coffee hanging from my arm.

4. Expect to be miserable. I have never felt so bloated, swollen, and physically uncomfortable in quite some time. I have gained 5 pounds in 5 days, which for a member of Weight Watchers is pure torture... It feels as though my insides are stretched to the max, like a balloon that is blown up a little too much and can be deflated at any time. I may in fact may be able to pop with one more injection. I have accepted my role as a human pincushion, with my 50 shades of blue stomach, and a matching spot on my arm from the daily blood work administered.

5. Expect to appreciate the small things. While I am feeling so uncomfortable this week, Lou has gone above and beyond to help out. Cleaning, cooking, helping out more than I could imagine. These simple, little gestures are so greatly appreciated.  And him coming home with an Alex & Ani anchor bracelet for me; " for being so strong during all this" brought me back to number 1, more crying :)

5. Expect to be amazed. Even though I have read millions of articles and searched every aspect of IVF, it is still unbelievable what the human body is capable of and what my body is currently undergoing. With the help of medications, I have become a producer of follicles this week! 24 to be exact :) Pending the results of this morning's blood work, the retrieval will most likely be Tuesday morning. 

Today, we wait. When the call comes from my doctor today he will be able to tell me the exact time and date of the final injection, the HCG "trigger" shot and then the retrieval. So, this is it. The end of the IVF portion is almost done! Before you know it, it will be time to begin the search for the surrogate, the person that will literally make my dreams come true <3

Friday, July 5, 2013

On your mark, get set, go!

Everyone always focuses on the finish line, the ending, the finale. To me, the starting line is just as important if not more. Today I stepped over the starting line. Today was Day 1 of the IVF. After several appointments this week, my levels were ready and a cyst that had appeared while on the Lupron disappeared! The egg retrieval will be somewhere between July 15-19th, depending on when I am ready. In the meantime I will go almost daily for ultrasounds and bloodwork before work to monitor my progress.

Today was the first day, the first step in getting my body ready for this amazing procedure that will take place. After getting sent home with a large box of all the medicine Wednesday, I was feeling a bit uneasy. I felt like a racer who hadn't trained hard enough. All the confidence I had built up prior to today slipped away as I peered into this large box of medicine. Luckily my sister, who is a nurse, was able to come over and help me prep the syringes and literally stood beside me as I injected all 3 medications. Having her stand next to me reminded that I have "trained" enough for this race, and I am laced up and ready to cross that finish line. So here we go, racers take your marks.......

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bugging Out

Sometimes the smallest sign can make it all seem better....
"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on." Holding on tight over here. After a few recent setbacks recently with the insurance companies, I am once again so humbly reminded to be grateful for the good things and people in my life. Blue Cross so kindly informed me this week, a few days before starting the actual IVF injections that I am not covered for the cryopreservation of the embryos. Therefore, we are responsible to pay out of pocket for this cost as well as the anesthesia for the egg retrieval. Overall, BCBS has been great in the coverage, covering the Lupron with only a $15 co-pay and the IVF meds with a $95 co-pay, but it is again painful to be reminded that since I am not carrying the pregnancy myself these fees are accumulated. It seems unfair and unjust that I should have to pay for a freezer to hold my embryos until May because my body can't.  I am angry that I can't carry my child and even angrier that I now have to pay a lab to deep freeze my embryos. On top of paying for a wedding in April, my fiancee and I can now add these fees to the list. While crying and debating if this whole procedure is in the cards for us, I started crying harder thinking that I wish I could talk to my Mom about all this, ask her opinion, tell her about all these overwhelming feelings I am experiencing. At this moment, I just needed my Mom to give me a huge hug and remind me it will all be okay. Through my tears I glanced at the screen door and saw a large bug grasping onto the screen. As I walked closer I noticed it was a praying mantis glaring back at me. " The praying mantis shows the way. A symbol of good fortune, peace, and happiness headed your way." In that moment, with tears streaming down my face, I knew it was and is going to be okay. Thanks for the reminder Mom <3