Y’all, we should be so proud of my ovaries today! They are just preforming like CHAMPS! Yet again, bright an early this morning, April and I headed over to the IVF Lab at Walter Reed a day early to check out how everything was coming along. Blood work come first and then we headed into the ultrasound room. As an aside, there are a team of doctors dedicated to our success and I usually see a different one every time I go in. When I was reading reviews of the Walter Reed IVF program, many people would deduct stars because of this, that they saw a different doctor every time they came in, many called it a “farm” or “assembly line”. I think its a great thing. My whole treatment isn’t managed by just one person, but a team of very smart and dedicated physicians. They are able to discuss all my test results and my personal situation as a group and come up with the best protocol with their collective experience. I think its pretty high speed and makes my treatment much more well rounded. Anyway, the doc I saw this morning was super nice. We discussed a few of my concerns with my elevated antiphospholipid antigen numbers (a test that indicates an issue with clotting in the umbilical cord and is associated with recurrent miscarriage) and how to manage that as well as my extreme want for a new prophylactic antibiotic prescription (something they give you to take prior to and after the retrieval to mitigate infection) because i do not tolerate doxycycline well. He laughed and said, not many people do! We also discussed why I needed to come in for the blood work and ultrasound early. He showed me my test results which indicated excellent egg growth! Normally, people with my very diminished AMH levels would expect to see an estrogen level of around 30 or so at this stage of stimming and a reproductively “normal” person would be around 300. I, however, was at 536!! This indicates that I am about one day ahead of schedule, chemical wise but we still needed to check out and measure my uterine lining as well as my follicles.
Next, we started the ultrasound to see my heroic ovaries!! Y’all! They looked just as they should! First, the doc measured my uterine lining, which was 7mm. He also graded it an “A”, the highest grade for the smooth, straight line it was making. Basically, my uterus is nice and fluffy and cozy for my embaby to snuggle down in and begin to grow. Next, he took great care to locate and measure all of my growing follicles. There were a WHOLE bunch all growing at a similar rate in nice healthy clusters. The doc said that was very important, that they didn’t like to see one growing at a very different rate than the others and away from smaller clusters that measured very differently. All of my follicles were between 7mm and 12mm. They will need to be between 18mm and 20mm at retrieval time. He found and measured 28 healthy, growing follicles and the doc said that typically we will see them recruiting other natural follicles before retrieval. This is absolutely WONDERFUL news! Remember, we only need ONE! So I am thrilled! On the flip side of this coin, he said we typically see your numbers (estrogen) double daily until retrieval and because mine were so high, he made an adjustment to my stimulation medications to lower my risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I was also thrilled about this because the most painful of my injections (the Menopur) has been reduced to just one vial!!! SO VERY HAPPY ABOUT THIS! Y’all, look at these big pretty follicles:
So, they are doing very well and right now we are focusing on controlling their growth. I go back again for blood work and ultrasound on Friday!
A few things for others going through this that may find my blog in the future, especially things I wish I knew. I know I searched through hundreds of blogs and videos about what to expect when pursuing IVF and especially what to expect when your cycle actually starts. Every single blog and YouTube video stressed the need to stay hydrated. Many suggested coconut water or other hydrating electrolyte filled drinks. Obviously, its important to stay hydrated in general and especially when you are pushing your body to any sort of limit. I always thought it was odd that so many people suggested coconut water, of all things, and I assumed that maybe it was because when you pursue IVF you by default often pursue a more healthy lifestyle in general. I now know WHY you absolutely MUST drink an absurd amount of water and why conconut water, specifically is your best friend and I am borderline pretty pissed that these blogs and vlogs never mentioned this because it may seem a little too personal or improper. Don’t worry guys. I am here for you, remember “a REAL IVF story”. If you are pursuing IVF, you WILL be constipated. You will seek relief in any way possible. The combination of your ovaries growing 10x their normal size, the drugs making you tired AND no being able to poop will make you feel MISERABLE. The best way to deal with this is to make a point to address it before its a problem. DRINK THE COCONUT WATER. It seriously helps. Increase your water and fiber intake before you start all the stabbing. I also got these neat Benefiber single serve packs to mix into (alllll the extra) water bottles I have out and about. It’s seriously misery when things get backed up, so take the cryptic advice of all the other blogs and then rely on mine to tell you exactly why.
If you don’t like coconut water, the flavored coconut water is much more palatable (i like the pineapple and mango flavored ones). Also, apple juice, aloe water (which personally disgusts me), and cucumber infused water are also helpful for constipation.
Another thing that has really helped me is heat and cold. Rather, ice packs and then heating pads. The further into injections i get, the more I dread doing them, but I have found that my little baby round ice packs 10 minutes before and 5 mins after my shots helps tremendously with the actual pain of the shot itself. Then, I’ll cuddle up with my heating pad for 20 minutes or so after to help mitigate knotting and cramping, both of which are inherent with this whole process.
SLEEP. Gosh, sleep has helped me SO MUCH. You may have noticed that my felt board message for today is right in the middle of the hotel bed, complete with my fuzzy-house-shoed-hooves peeking at the bottom. That is because I have slept A LOT. My body (and yours, if you are doing this) is going through a whole lot and it is prudent to listen to its call. Likely, you have spent a lot of money on this chance at fertility. If your body is telling you to sleep, DO IT! It is the least you can do to increase your chance of success.
That’s all for my advice for now. I may include some little tidbits in my future posts as they occur to me during each step, as well.
Just want to leave you tonight with this little gem from Timehop:
Not only do I super miss my kiddos right now, I also REALLY miss Tim! I was able to talk to him for a while today, which made it easier, but I can’t tell you how much I wanted to celebrate with him as soon as I found out how well my ovaries were responding. Since I know Tim can’t always read my blog, I hope he doesn’t kill me for this photo! But I sure do love this moment in time captured.
Til next time