Fertility Center

Things Have Gotten a Little Wild

K and I have run into what I can only describe as a clinic guided by the principles of religious fanaticism. We have been told by a local-ish fertility clinic that science does not support the safety or efficacy of reciprocal IVF and therefore this clinic does not offer it. Oh, but they do of course offer IVF with donor eggs (just not my SO’s, apparently). I am trying really hard to wrap my head around this discriminatory fuckery and not feel completely gaslighted. Also, I should mention that at no point did I actually request information about RIVF because SO and I haven’t been interested in pursuing it. She just felt the need to tell me all about their stance on it because I am a lesbian. Also, known donor sperm is out. I wonder how the straight couples feel about having to use anonymous donor sperm? Or did she just mean that known donor IVF just wasn’t available to me, as a lesbian??

 

I spent all day trying to decide if I was making more out of this than I should. So today I did some Google searching and K found the FB page for their clinic. Turns out this is not the first time that they have tried to turn a lesbian couple away from treatment. Coincidentally, there was a reporter’s number on their page so I took the liberty of calling the reporter and leaving a message (don’t mind if I do!).

 

The woman I spoke with at this clinic, while she didn’t outright say that she didn’t want to work with us as a gay couple, she was very quick to suggest we seek treatment somewhere else and she made a point at the end of the call to let us know about their cancellation policy. Part of me wants to keep the appointment and demand that they provide us treatment. But the other part of me doesn’t want their bigoted, hateful hands touching me or any of my embryos.

 

I just have no fucking words. Unbelieveable.

Fertility Center

Things are Looking up

No, I’m not pregnant. 😛

 

I might be if I’m super lucky. I am 8DPO so I will be testing in a couple of days but I’m not hopeful because the timing was off on my last attempt. Anywho, enough about that. It’s old news. And whatever happens, happens.

What I wanted to share is that K and I signed the consents to begin working with a cryobank. And we met with the RE to discuss IUI vs. IVF. We point-blank asked her what she recommended for us and she strongly recommended IUI first. Because of all the barriers to actually doing inseminations (polyp removal, scheduling issues, etc) we figured out that since the polyp was removed (attempts before that don’t count), there has really only been one well timed attempt. She felt like based on my numbers that I had a good chance for IUI to work for us. That’s good news.

She also told us about a new type of IVF called INVO cell. Has anyone heard of this? Basically, we would do a typical egg retrieval with minimal stimulation. The eggs would be collected and then placed into a small plastic container along with the sperm. This little capsule would then be placed inside me like a tampon (it’s much smaller) and I would “incubate” my own embryos. So Sci-fi! At the end of 5 days the embryos are removed from the capsule and one is transferred into me and the others are frozen. It’s significantly cheaper than IVF so that’s a plus. But it’s also a new procedure so that concerns me. She gave us a lot to think about so now we need some time to research and crunch numbers to make a decision.

We are excited to finally feel like we might get somewhere with this whole baby-making thing. And in a few days we *might* have some good news about this cycle (but don’t hold your breath).

:::shaking pom poms with gusto:::

Fertility Center · Medical Stuff

Frustrated

This is the post in which I whine and gripe about trying to get pregnant. If that’s not your thing in this moment then I’ll catch ya on another post. If you’re there with me or just into a moment of TTC solidarity, then read on.

SO and I made our first attempt at getting pregnant in February. March we did not attempt (can’t remember why). Following that there was a RE referral and subsequent testing where we learned that my uterus was already implanted with a largish polyp and therefore no further attempts at implanting a fetus would be made until that situation was remedied. As a result, April was a bust.

My surgery date rolled around in early May. Ok, great. One polyp explanted, let’s move on to implanting a baby. The May cycle was strange as a result of the polyp removal as well as starting Letrozole. That cycle was unsuccessful.

June our donor was on vacation. Ok, no problem. Because he would not be around, the RE recommended that I not use Letrozole for that cycle. Sweet, less pills. Cue me eagerly awaiting my July cycle. Well, I must have been a bit too eager because I normally ovulate on day 18 of my cycle and I ovulated on day 12. Wouldn’t have been too big of a deal except my luteal phase was only 8 (!!!) days long. I had a 20 day cycle, y’all. As if having 2 periods in one month isn’t annoying enough, the short cycle means that I will likely ovulate around July 9th…which is the day our donor gets back into town after another trip. So now I’m hoping that the July cycle is not out.

I’ve had some issues with our RE as well. The way their office is run is that you send messages through the portal and then the office staff will either respond if your query is something that they can help with or they will forward the message on to the RE and she will respond. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really like my RE. She’s smart as hell and I think she is highly competent. But she tends to trickle out information instead of giving the whole picture. For instance, after my last attempt was unsuccessful she sent me a message saying she would see me on day 1,2, or 3 of my next cycle (this one) to start Letrozole for the July cycle attempt.

Based on that, I had it in my head that I just needed to get the prescription filled and I would be good to go. I messaged the RE’s office to find out how to get the prescription and the nurse wrote me back to let me know that I needed to come in for an ultrasound before starting Letrozole. Oh, ok… Except SO and I were headed out of town ourselves the very next day for almost 2 weeks and this was the first I was hearing about me needing an ultrasound. The nurse said I could get some labs drawn in lieu of the ultrasound and said she would send over the requisition. She also said that I had my last ultrasound on day 12 of the May cycle (my first medicated one) and asked if I wanted to schedule an ultrasound for July 5th for this cycle, which would be day 12.

At this point I’m freaking out– according to my count that ultrasound happened on day 15 of my cycle and ovulation was 48 hours later. I’m confused by this and ask questions. I also let her know that our donor won’t be available until July 9th which is problematic if I will be ovulating so soon. I asked if there is any way this cycle can be salvaged– can ovulation be delayed? I ask why my cycle was so short last time, was it because I took Letrozole the previous cycle and if so, moving forward can I just take Letrozole each month regardless of whether I will be meeting with our donor so that my cycles will be regular for organizing plane tickets, schedules, and hotels? And lastly that I was happy to get labs if given that my donor would possibly not be around for the upcoming cycle the nurse thought it would be a good idea. My RE was out of the office at this point so I was hoping that the nurse would at least get back to me about the labs.

Crickets. I got crickets.

Not a single message or phone call from them all day. I decided that I would check in with Labcorp to see if there was an order for labs. I couldn’t even tell them what labs were being drawn because I didn’t know. No lab requisition either! At this point it was taking everything in me to draft a polite yet firm message to the RE’s office requesting better follow up and communication.

I mean, I just feel like if the nurse decided based on my message that she wouldn’t be sending over a lab requisition would it have been so hard to send a message letting me know that? Or if she was unable to answer my questions, why was there no follow up message letting me know that she had forwarded the message to the RE and the RE would be getting back to me? And lastly and maybe most importantly, why am I so out of the loop for my own care?!

Why does it feel like even though it’s my body I have no control over any of this? 

Out of the last 5 months I have made 2 attempts at getting pregnant. TWO. I just want to actually try and get pregnant instead of waiting around to try and get pregnant. I am a patient person but this is wearing me down. I recently dreamt my sister told me she was pregnant and I started ugly crying in my sleep. SO shook me awake thinking I was having sleep paralysis. I mean, it’s funny but also really frustrating. And if you knew my sister and the level of frozen over hell there would have to be in order for her to actually be pregnant (firmly in the child free camp!) then it would put this dream further into context. My subconscious literally thinks that my sister has a better chance of getting knocked up than I do.

So my current state of affairs is that things have been really frustrating and I’m starting to wear thin. I’m really sick of waiting and I feel frustrated with my RE’s communication style. I like lots of information. I like research articles. I like to feel like I am a part of my treatment plan. I ask plenty of questions and I am no slouch at dealing with specialists. I have had more than my fair share of the medicalized life thanks to multiple sclerosis. Yet somehow I still have no clue what is happening with my reproductive system. I don’t know what the treatment plan is or key bits of information like the need for ultrasounds.

As a result of poor communication with my RE’s office my chances for attempting in July are pretty low. I’m trying like hell to will my ovaries to ovulate later.

My trip with SO was awesome though. We snorkeled, swam, kayaked, sailed, watched the sunset, drank beer, played magic, watched manatees float lazily around the boat docks, shopped and in general enjoyed the shit out of each other’s company. It was perfect.

 

Thanks for reading my ranty post.

 

 

Fertility Center · Medical Stuff

Polypectomy

I last left off here after getting my HSG and finding out that I had a polyp or two hiding in my uterus. My RE was firm about removing them before trying to get pregnant because a) my attempts would be way less successful; and b) if I did manage to get pregnant I was at much higher risk of miscarrying. I figured those were valid reasons but it took me a week or so to come around and actually schedule the procedure– anesthesia and surgery are totally new (and scary!) to me. Even though I have MS I am otherwise pretty darn healthy and growing up never even broke a bone or spent a single night in the hospital. How, I have no idea because I basically spent my childhood swimming in pools unsupervised, hanging upside down in trees and riding my bike with no helmet. My grandmother used to tell me we survived our childhood because there were angels watching over us.

Anywho, scheduling the procedure was a big hurdle. Initially, they had nothing until June 2nd. Well, they offered me a potential date of May 19th at 2:30 (no food or drink from midnight) in the afternoon. And they would have to call and check to see if that was possible. Those were obviously not good options and I was kicking myself for waiting a week to call and schedule. Upon learning that I would be sidelined waiting 6 weeks for the procedure and then until sometime after the procedure when I began to ovulate again I started to panic and get upset. Aside from being 36 and knowing that in the best case scenario I will be a first time mom at 37, I was freaking out about staying off my MS meds for another few months with no TTC attempts at all. My MS is very, very mild but I am still currently in the middle of a relapse and that was making the prospect of staying off meds even longer feel super risky.

I messaged the doctor and explained how I was feeling about the wait and the fertility center offered to do the procedure in their office surgical suites instead of at the surgical center. If that meant I could get things done sooner I was all about it. After a few days of phone tag to make arrangements with the scheduler who was out sick, she surprised me with the news that the RE had a cancellation for the very next day at the surgical center. I took it of course. That was a week ago today– May 4th.

Given that the procedure was the next day K and I didn’t have very much time to process what was about to happen. We were both really worried about it and talked about how nervous we were on the way over. But it all went really well. The check-in process went fine and then they took me to the pre-op area. I changed into my fabric tent with the huge hole in the back (AKA gown), took a pregnancy test and had an IV started. The nurses were super friendly and brought me extra warm blankets which was nice.

First I answered health and medication questions for a nurse, then I answered them for the anesthesiologist, for my RE, and then again for the anesthesia nurse. The most common questions were about what I had eaten and drank, what medication allergies I had and there was much conversation about my multiple sclerosis– especially since I am in the middle of a relapse that has caused a lot of numbness and neuropathy in my left leg.

The anesthesia nurse was one of the last people to come in and she pushed something in the IV that would make me “relax.” That must be code for nearly lose consciousness because I felt high. I tried not to show it but everything got really hard for me to follow and I was feeling drowsy and drugged. Shortly after that they pushed me into the surgery area and I’m becoming even more out of it. They push the gurney next to the table and they asked me to move over to the surgical table. It took probably 30 seconds to process that they wanted me to move my body. I moved over and that’s pretty much the last thing I remember until I am waking up in recovery and a nurse is handing me a ginger ale.

Shortly after that another nurse brought me a second ginger ale (did I ask for ginger ale??) and at some point my SO came in. I felt like I needed to pee really badly. They assured me it was just from the catheter but I tried a bed pan anyways (they were right). After what seemed like a few minutes but could have been much longer they let me get dressed and helped me into a wheelchair then we went home.

SO tried to get me to rest but I hate taking naps so I resisted. I stayed on the couch awhile and played on the computer, watched a little netflix and had lunch and some water. The anesthesia was strange. I remember most of what happened Thursday afternoon but not always in the correct sequence. At some point SO left to get the pain meds at the pharmacy and I realized that I was sitting on the couch staring at the wall… maybe a nap wasn’t such a bad idea.

I laid down and watched the live feed of the Okeanos deep sea exploration dive. They had just dropped the rover into the water so it was perfect. I dozed off and on waiting for the rover to reach the sea floor and SO came and hung out in bed with me when she got home. Later SO and I got to talking a little about the procedure and she said there were pictures. Apparently, she had told me about them in the recovery room and also the RE showed them to me after the surgery. Yep, I totally don’t remember any of that.

I took a look at the pictures and the polyp took up the bottom/front area of my uterus. I basically had a natural IUD in there. RE called as I was resting in bed and said that the polyp ended up being a little larger than the 6mm that she estimated on the HSG. Pathology came back yesterday and it was benign.

I took 2 doses of vicodin because I had the slightest hint of cramps. I had very minor bleeding on Thursday and Friday, none Saturday but then I started bleeding again with bad cramps early Sunday morning and continued to bleed lightly until yesterday. Friday I felt pretty good but figured I didn’t mind having the extra day off work. And since I felt fine I decided that I would plant a garden by myself all day long. Saturday, as you can imagine was not a great day after my gardening and neither was Sunday. I felt pretty nauseous most of the day. Saturday night I had chills and then Sunday night I was sweating. Hormones are weird. All week this week I have felt exhausted. I have been falling asleep after work and going to bed by 10. I slept 9 hours last night and needed to sit and wake up for almost an hour before I could function this morning. I have no idea if that is related to the procedure or just an energy ebb and flow related to my MS. It’s a bit of  a crapshoot sometimes knowing whether it’s normal or it’s MS.

Anywho, that’s my story of the polypectomy. Going under was scary but the recovery was mostly a breeze and I can start TTC as soon as I next ovulate. I will start the Letrozole tonight and I get an ultrasound next Friday to see how my eggs are developing and when I can expect to ovulate. It’s a relief that I can move forward with TTC and actually have a good shot at making it happen.

Fertility Center · Medical Stuff

HSG and Ultrasound Update

So, first things first: HSG really wasn’t that bad ladies. If you have to get one you’ll be alright 🙂

The ultrasound wasn’t bad and showed that I have 5 maturing follicles on each side which I *think* is good news. I’m pretty sure that the doctor said my largest follicle was 12 mm or 14mm, I can’t remember. The doc found an area of thickened endometrial lining on ultrasound and said she would check it out a little more during the HSG. I think the ultrasound aside from the lining being thick was good. She commented on my awesome AMH number too. Imagine me mentally patting my ovaries on the back. Good job little raisins!

Now,  onto the dreaded HSG. Prior to my appointment I took 600mg (3 pills) of advil. I think it was a good call and I’m glad the RE gave me those instructions. The test involves a lot of set up of equipment. It feels strange but is not painful. First, in went the speculum. Then she cleaned my cervix with betadine swabs which I hardly felt. I did feel stuff dripping out… which was gross. The doc talked me through the whole thing which was nice. She inserted some sort of tube and then another tube inside of the tube. There was pressure and some twisting but no pain.

I was instructed to breathe deeply and relax. I was really trying but there were so many things going on down there it was hard! Around this time the nurse, who could see my face, which must have had a distressed look on it, began telling me all about a new Italian restaurant that opened up. She told me about the food, about the shopping center, that there was a new Thai restaurant right next to it. I got directions, color scheme, anything that would distract me. I knew what she was up to, but I went with it. It was sweet of her to do that. I appreciated how perceptive she was and how she knew just what to do to help me get through that part of the test. The doc even jumped into the conversation.

Once all the equipment was set up the doc began inflating the balloon to open up my cervix enough to pass the tube through and begin filling my uterus with dye/water/whatever it is they put in there. Ladies, this is the part that hurts. It feels like strong period cramps I would rate as a 6/10 on the pain scale and made me nauseous. Your cervix obviously doesn’t appreciate being pried open and responds with cramps to close it back up. The crampy feeling remains for as long as the balloon thing is inflated. Luckily, that was probably a maximum of 5-7 minutes. The test only lasts long enough for the RE to visualize your uterus and see the fluid flow through both tubes. As soon as that was accomplished she deflated the balloon and removed all of the equipment. I felt incrementally better as each thing was removed. By the end, I only had a slight feeling of nausea and some really mild cramping. Following the procedure I had no spotting and only ever-so-slight cramping a couple of hours afterwards. I didn’t take any more advil and the cramps went away on their own.

The RE reviewed the test results with me at the end. Good news is that both tubes are open so no problems there. Bad news: that thickened area on ultrasound is a polyp. A 6mm polyp. AND she thinks there is another one in there too. In light of that, I will need a second procedure, this time under anesthesia to remove the polyps. The RE said that the polyps are nothing serious but that they would reduce my chances of conception and increase my chances of miscarrying if I did conceive. She recommended removal before any further inseminations.

Which really sucks because this week is spring break and the plan since being sidelined last month was to fly out today to see M for AI. I told the RE that I had just booked a flight to see our donor the night before and she immediately suggested that she write a letter to help me get out of the flight for medical reasons. She’s pretty awesome. It looks like I am sidelined again for this cycle though and possibly the next while we sort out this polyp situation. Sigh.

Anywho, that’s my story of the big, bad HSG.

 

If you have any questions about the procedure fire away. 🙂

 

 

 

Fertility Center · Medical Stuff

First Fertility Center Visit

K and I had our first consultation with the fertility center yesterday. After the research I had done on my own and in the process coming across a very un-LGBT friendly fertility center in NYC of all places, K and I were ready for battle. During the encounter with the fertility center in NYC via phone and email I was informed that a direct donation– that is, a donation that is not quarantined for 6 months– would only be possible if the donor was my intimate partner. In other words, if there is sex then direct donation is possible. No sex, no direct donation. So… that pretty much excludes us lezzies (and a small group of other folks) from receiving direct donation sperm for either IVF or IUI. Knowing that a fertility center in NYC had such a discriminatory policy, what should I expect from a fertility center in the South?

So as I said, we were fully prepared to go in there with guns blazing. The wonderful part is that we didn’t need to. I don’t know what that fertility center’s problem is in NYC and I’m half-tempted to put them on blast, but I will resist the urge. For now. I am baffled that such a discriminatory policy is even allowed to exist at all. If a fertility center in North Carolina, a decidedly anti-LBGT (especially the ‘T’ and especially if those folks need to use the bathroom!) state with a baptist church on practically every corner can provide us with direct donation for IUI, then NYC should truly be ashamed of themselves. The encounter with the fertility center in NYC left me feeling like I needed to protect myself from hostile practitioners. But the fertility center here has restored my faith in the fertility world. I feel safe working with our fertility specialist. What a relief.

The first thing that we talked about was about my MS. Was it controlled? Was I taking meds? How was I doing? What were my symptoms? In short, I am so extremely lucky to be able to say that MS affects me very little. The subject of interventions such as IUI and IVF came up and there was lengthy discussion about fertility meds and safety in regards to MS relapse rate. I wanted to know what was possible and the very encouraging answer was that I can do IVF safely if I choose. For now though I am going to stick with the at-home inseminations for a few more months before we move on to IUI.

The doctor was in agreement with K and I about my short luteal phase. She wants to try me on letrozole and progesterone to regulate my cycle. I told her that I was currently taking B6 and vitex for lengthening my luteal phase and she recommended that I continue to do that. She also suggested that I begin taking CoQ10 and omegas. I have been doing smoothies with huge heaps of flax seed in them so I will just continue that. K and I picked up some CoQ10 on the way home at Costco.

The doctor also recommended that I get some additional lab work as well as suggested that I move forward with an ultrasound and an HSG. I am scheduled for those next week on Monday. I am not looking forward to either test but especially not the HSG. I’ll keep you all posted.

All in all, the fertility center appointment went really well. I feel like we got what we needed out of it and the doctor seemed to understand that what we wanted was support forming a TTC plan and help fine tuning my body to make a baby. She got that without us having to defend our position. K and I both felt relieved and hopeful leaving the office.

Questions for the readers out there: who has had a HSG? How was it? I’ve heard it’s pretty darn painful, what advice do you have for someone who is about to get one done?