Sunday, March 23, 2008

Catching Up

It has been a number of days since my BFN post and I have been through a wide range of emotions. Floating from hope to sorrow, to wistfulness, to anger and frustration and back again. On Wednesday evening, my brother, SIL and 4-month old niece, Katie arrived. Between Katie trying to adjust to new surroundings and people, and the dogs trying to satisfy their curiosity about this new creature in the house, it was a bit of a chaotic night. After my parents left for the evening, I spent a little time alone with Katie in the guest bedroom entertaining her while her parents were busy doing other things. I came back into the family room and promptly began to cry. I can't even articulate what I was feeling, it just came out of nowhere.

On Thursday, B and I enjoyed a day full of college basketball at the center along with my dad, brother, friend and his dad. Although every single game was pretty much a blow-out, we had fun just being together and making fun of our ridiculously horrible seats. We were in the corner of the arena in the very last row. Backs against the wall. Actually, the view was still pretty good, but it was funny to think that almost every one of the other 20,000 fans were closer to the floor than we were. It was great to have a whole day without having to think about babies, pregnancy, infertility and another failed cycle (other than one conversation with a family friend where I promptly changed the subject when assvice began to spew out, and having to walk past a very pregnant woman sitting in our section about 10 times throughout the day). And of course, the very poignant reminder of another failed cycle that is AF. She showed up Thursday morning with some lovely cramps, requiring me to call the nurse to report CD1.

On Friday, we just all sat around watching the games on tv, eating, and taking turns trying to entertain Katie who still was not very happy being away from home and off her normal schedule. She cried off and on pretty much all day. I think she was trying to remind me that this having a baby thing isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Or maybe she was just crying in my place because it is more acceptable for a 4-month old to cry for no reason.

I have been reflecting off and on over this weekend how this BFN feels different than the last one. I went back and read my post from last time and then read my post from this week and I'm amazed at the difference in tone. I'm sure that the doctor's explanation, plan and optimism has a lot to do with this, but I also wonder if part of this comes from experience. The last cycle was the first cycle that we actually made it to a transfer. It was the first chance we actually had for this IVF thing to work. And when it didn't, it felt like it never would. This time, I was kind of expecting it to fail because of something Dr. S said to me at the transfer. It isn't that he said anything directly about our chances not being good, but he made a comment that indicated he was already thinking about next time. I figured this meant there would probably be a next time and so some part of me was already moving on to that. Trying to get used to the idea of going back to another fresh cycle.

To be honest, I haven't fully wrapped my head around the idea of this next cycle. We are completely back to square one, having given all of our 18 frozen embryos the best chance we could and failing miserably. It is amazing to me that we started out with so many, only took two shots to go through all of them and nothing stuck. After our fresh transfer was cancelled last September, so many people (including the staff at CCRM) tried to console me by reminding me of those 18 freezer buns just waiting for the right conditions. They had me convinced it would work. At least one of those 18 would be our first child. Somehow it just didn't work.

My first fresh cycle last September was absolutely miserable. There were many reasons for this. I was new to IVF and anxious about giving myself shots for the first time. I was extremely moody and emotional from the medications. I had just been promoted at work and was trying to adjust to my boss (the best boss ever) leaving and having to get used to a very different style in my new boss. I was dealing with 27 follicles bouncing around in my ovaries. By the time we got to retrieval, I was so bloated and uncomfortable I had taken to walking as slowly as my 83 year old grandma with her walker and wearing the loosest pants I could find to work every day. We knew going into retrieval that the transfer wasn't going to happen. My E2 level was at a dangerous 10,000. I was so miserable that I wasn't even upset at the fact that all the embryos would be frozen for later attempts at FET's.

To give you a little background here, the retrieval itself went smoothly. I felt pretty good in recovery and that's where the fun ended. On the way home I got nauseous and hung on just until I stepped into the house and ran to the toilet. I then napped on and off in bed the rest of the day. The day after retrieval I was sore and still pretty nauseous and tried to keep drinking my gator.ade, but it was hard. At that point, I had been drinking nothing but gator.ade for a week and was so sick of it, it wouldn't have sounded good even if I wasn't nauseous. By Saturday (two days after the retrieval), I was absolutely miserable. I couldn't drink, I couldn't eat, I couldn't poop and I was dry heaving. I called the nurse and was told to come in the next morning so they could check for fluid in my abdomen.

That Sunday they did an ultrasound and found some fluid, but nothing to be overly concerned about. I was really dehydrated because I hadn't had much to drink since the day of the retrieval (Thursday). I think it took three different people to finally get an IV in because I was so dehydrated. Pretty much every spot on each hand and inner elbow was poked and prodded to no avail before they finally got an IV threaded into a very uncomfortable spot in my arm. One hand was still bruised from the IV from the retrieval. I was bruised for weeks. They gave me fluids, through the IV (I can't remember how much) and were confused as to why I was still so nauseous, in pain and miserable.

At that point, the doc became concerned that there was something else going on (appendicitis?) and sent me to the emergency room to get a CT scan. The scan came back normal and they decided that the pain was likely from being so constipated, so guess what that meant? I got to experience my first enema. And then my second. With my husband and my mom witnessing the humiliation. The funny thing was. I really didn't care at the time. I was just so miserable that I would have done anything to feel better.

I went back to the doctor's office the next morning to see one of the doctors. They gave me more fluids and were still confused as to why I was still nauseous. The doctor that was working that day suggested that maybe we switch the dexa.methazone to be taken vaginally instead of orally. He said that sometimes that lessons the side effects and that it could be the culprit of my nausea. That day I managed to eat a couple of pieces of toast with peanut butter and the next day I felt noticeably better. I don't know if switching the dex to a supp made the difference or if the nausea had just run its course, but I was finally on the mend.

All in all, I ended up missing 5 days of work and another couple thousand dollars went to hospital bills. It was not a pleasant experience. It was the opposite of pleasant. I get nauseous just thinking about it and I consoled myself for weeks that I would likely never have to go through it again-we would get at least one, if not two kids out of those 18 freezer buns.

And now I have to do it all over. The birth control pills, three shots a day, daily blood draws and vaginal ultrasounds, anxiety and moodiness. All while trying to be productive at work and pretend that life is going on as normal. Each shot, pill, blood draw and ultrasound in and of itself isn't bad, but the all-consuming enormity of the process wears on you and slowly drains you of energy to focus on anything else. It's like carrying around a 5 pound sack of flour in a backpack. For awhile, you barely notice it, it is just a part of you. But after awhile, you become more and more aware of it and the longer you carry it around, the heavier it gets. You begin to plan your schedule around it and look for places to rest for a bit. Something as simple as sitting down must be approached differently because it gets in the way. People begin to notice something different about you.

I have to believe that this time will be different. My protocol will certainly be different given my over-response to the stim meds last time. Dr. S thinks I was going for some kind of record for the most number of follicles produced at one time. This time, the plan is to start with a lower dose of stim meds. And even if I respond slowly, they will not increase the dosage at first. I don't know all the details at this point, but that will come in time. I just have to trust Dr. S and hope that I get through the retrieval with minimal disruption to my physical comfort like most women seem to manage. And I hope, hope, hope that we get to transfer fresh embryos, on a 5 day transfer, with high quality blasts. This just HAS to work.

I have been very remiss in keeping up with my fellow bloggers this week. I promise I will catch up on my reading and commenting soon. You have all been so kind and supportive with your comments and I really appreciate it. I also need to catch up on my photo journal posts, so I'll try to get to that later tonight. Hope everyone is having a good weekend.


PJ said...

I've been thinking about you. I'm glad you are doing ok.

I knew you had been through a lot, but I had no idea about the trouble you had last time. Next time has to go smoother and hopefully with MUCH better results.


Ahuva Batya said...

Denise, this post made me so sad for you. What a terrible experience all around, but I am sure the next fresh cycle will be better. Lessons learned will lead to a better protocol, and you know what the very worst is now and that you can survive it, so everything about the new cycle will be easier for that reason alone. Your statement about the cumulative nature of the stress of IVF while working rung so true for me.

Ms. J said...

As I read your blog entry, I couldn't help but think of my good friend (and awesome hairstylist) Shannen . . . 5 years of unexplained infertility, and 4 rounds of IVF to get her son (now almost 2). Last year she went back to RE (I chose same one, based on her glowing recommendation), and got pregnant with baby #2 on the first try (due in 4 weeks). Your RE gave me the impression that he thinks that they are getting closer to getting it all figured out, just like they did with Shannen (she had to deal with massive overstimming, too). I truly believe this to be the case with you, too. Despite the pain, the mnisery, the dashed hopes, your RE is getting closer to figuring out just what your bodies needs to make a pregnancy stick. If you have faith in the RE's care, then stick with that RE and let the sliver of Hope still exist.

I do not know what it's like to be you. Each of us must walk our own, unique, (and sadly painful) path. But I am here to listen whenever you need it.

Duck said...

I've been thinking about how your doing. It's all so hard sometimes, and sometimes I feel optimistic that it can get better.
It's hard when they are trying to figure out what the secret is to the best cycle for you.
Hoping the next cycle goes better, I found that meditation every single day, really helped me in my cycle, at least I felt less stress and next to know pain(with my iui cycle with injectibles I was in lots of pain - so maybe all the acpuncture/meditation stuff helps?).

Rhonda said...

Hi, D. I wish I would have known your seats were so crappy...I would have called someone at work to better the situation.

However, it sounds like a good weekend away from your stress and pressure of infertility, etc. and you sound like you have had good reflection of both the positives and negatives. Sage would be very proud of you; I certainly am!

I was happy to see you posting again.


IVFer said...

Denise, things will only get better from now on. Hugsss!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I really hope that this cycle is THE ONE for you! I'll def. keep on praying for smooth cycle and a fantastic babylicious ending!!

shinejil said...

I can totally understand your reluctance after that terrible first cycle: Once bitten, twice shy.

But every cycle is different, even with the same protocol, from what I hear. And your doc has some idea of what to do to prevent a repeat, which was no good for anyone.

Take good care of yourself over the next few days, Denise! I'm glad you're back in blogland!

Melanie said...

I had no idea your fresh cycle was such a nightmare. Of course you must be nervous for round 2. I have to believe that this round will be better, with a better protocol and very careful monitoring. When will you start? By the way, your NCAA pictures made me woozy. Glad you're back to blogging!

Spicy Sister said...

Wow Denise. Just Wow. you have been through so much to get here. I don't know what to say except that I am so sorry that your 1st cycle was so incredibly hard, that it has not worked for you yet. My heart goes out to you. I am hoping and crossing everything for you that this next time will work and you will have a happy and healthy pregnancy ahead of you very very soon. BIG HUGS!!!

Alison said...

Oh my goodness, I have so much I want to tell you! I think it was so cool that you thought little Katie was reminding you that babies are not all sunshine. I like to think she was helping her auntie deal with all the saddness and failure. I think you are handling this whole thing so well. I cannot even bring myself to an IUI b/c of the failure I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to handle. I cannot imagine the frustration you are feeling. I did not know your whole story from last September so I'm glad you shared. What an ordeal! Your whole entire post brings it into such perspective about why this cycle HAD to work and the hope you had with all 18. I have been thinking about you everyday since your BFN and I will continue to pray for you! I will pray for the strength and courage you need to continue. Like a fellow blogger told me, today you are one day closer to that little bundle of baby.