*Yawn*

For weeks, I’ve been counting down the days until yesterday. Sunday. The day I start the IVF drugs. From the very beginning, it has seemed like none of this would feel quite real until I mixed those first vials of Menopur. Forget the needles—I was excited. At least, I was excited until I woke up on Sunday morning in a ridiculous amount of pain and found myself asking Catch to get me to urgent care ASAP.

I’d been feeling lousy all weekend. It started at dinner on Friday night, and persisted through the day Saturday. By Saturday night, I was miserable. I had shooting pain and tremendous pressure throughout my abdomen. I couldn’t even use a tampon—it just hurt too much. All I wanted to do was sleep. I took a 3 hour nap in the middle of the day, and probably would have kept right on sleeping if it hadn’t been so damn hot in the bedroom. Silly me, I attributed my misery to the combination of metformin and my period, and convinced myself that I’d feel better when I woke up on Sunday. Obviously that didn’t happen.

So, off we went to urgent care. I’ve had a PPO my entire life and I’ve never had to worry about what doctor I can go to, but my insurance changed to good old Kaiser on August 1st. Nothing like having a genuine medical problem within your first few weeks in HMO land. We ended up driving almost 20 miles to a Kaiser urgent care facility. Fun.

Props to Kaiser, though. When we arrived—at 8 am on a Sunday—there was one woman in the waiting room and one woman ahead of me at check in. Within 10 minutes, we were all with a nurse. By 9 am, I had a diagnosis—my first ever UTI (Really? Now?)—and antibiotics. It was also suggested that I could skip a few doses of metformin until I’m feeling human again. THANK YOU, KAISER. Everyone was fantastically nice. The doctor repeatedly wished us good luck with IVF. It was very sweet.

One dose of antibiotics and one more three hour nap later, I was starting to feel human again. Hallelujah. I really couldn’t take much more of that pain.

Given the weekend, last night’s injections weren’t exactly met with the fanfare I intended. Catch was sore and tired from her softball game and I was totally over my excitement. But we did it. We loaded up that Follistim cartridge and mixed those vials of Menopur. I injected the Follistim in my stomach, and Catch jabbed the Menopur needle into my ass. We are one step closer to this mystical IVF baby, and I am one dose of antibiotics closer to kicking this UTI to the curb.

Phew. What a weekend.

Please Excuse the Drugs

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So, I have drugs. I know you’re thinking there’s not enough (hah), but I assure you that the rest are in the fridge.

There are a few here that I’m not familiar with. So far, the nurse has only discussed the stims with me, so maybe you guys can shed some light on the Ganirelix Acetate (injections) and Medrol. Anyone familiar with those?

Otherwise there seems to be the standard estradiol, progesterone in oil, progesterone suppositories, doxycycline, follistim, and menopur.

Tomorrow is the day. Anyone want to give me an idea of what to expect from the follistim & menopur? I took follistim last cycle, but in a much smaller dose. I’m a little nervous. I can’t stomach much more on the side effect front right now. The increased dose of Metformin is kicking my ass–as evidenced by my almost 3 hour nap this afternoon.

Date night tonight. Let’s hope I can stay awake.

Metformin ER – A Public Service Announcement

I practically begged my RE to put me on Metformin—ok, not really, but I’ve asked about it a few times. Ever since we first started talking PCOS, it’s been in the back of my mind. She’s mentioned it a few times, but has said that I’m doing so well with my diet/exercise/weight loss that she just didn’t feel it was necessary.

Finally, when we decided to try IVF, she brought it up again. She said she’s not absolutely convinced that I need it, but that it won’t hurt and it might help. I was relieved. For whatever reason, I’ve had it in my head all along that we should give it a shot. So, she sent me for a quick glucose test and then they prescribed Metformin ER (aka Glucophage ER). I was actually excited to start taking this shit stuff.

Cut to week two. I just increased my dose yesterday to the dosage I will stay at (thank goodness). I cannot tell you the amount of dread I felt as I took the extra pill yesterday. This stuff is no joke. Here’s what I’ve been experiencing:

  • Total physical exhaustion. I don’t mean, “better go to bed early” tired. I mean bone aching, fall asleep at your desk, barely shuffling through the day, snoring at 8 pm tired. It’s interfering with my work. It’s interfering with our diet because I’m too tired to cook or exercise. It’s even interfering with our time together because all I want to do is sleep—and it’s not even want so much as it is need. I need to sleep.
  • It’s the worst in the morning and mid-afternoon. I’ve really been struggling. Combine nausea with tiredness, and I’m just miserable.
  • Weird food cravings. Two days ago, I could not stop thinking about sparkling water. I was crazy thirsty, but couldn’t stomach the idea of regular filtered water. It had to be sparkling. I even broke into the piggy bank on my desk at work in the hopes that there might be some in the vending machine downstairs. No such luck. I was totally unable to drink anything all morning. No tea, no decaf, no water. Dehydration was more appealing than anything but sparkling water. Also, sweets. I’m craving sweets like a mad woman. I’ve heard this has something to do with the body adjusting to lower blood sugar. Finally, all I want is cold things. Warm food hasn’t really been appealing to me—unless it’s sweet.

Basically, I’m having a number of pregnancy symptoms without actually being pregnant. FUN.

I don’t regret the decision to start taking this drug, but I certainly wish I’d read a bit more about it before enthusiastically adding it to my pharmaceutical arsenal. I’ve (now) read that these side effects can last 4+ weeks before the body adjusts. Honestly, I probably should not have put my body through this right now. A month ago, yes, but we start stimming on Sunday—my body probably would have much preferred being given the luxury of adjusting to Metformin prior to breaking out the needles. 20/20 hindsight.

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Also, the Metformin ER are giant horse pills with a powdery coating that tastes like death.

I’m really hoping this is a short-lived visit to Metformin Land.

IVF Appointment # 1

Here’s the short story:

  1. Blood was drawn—they will call with results this afternoon and if everything looks good, we’re set to go.
  2. The endometrial activation / uterine scratch was as painful as it sounds, but thankfully the pain was temporary. I feel fine today.
  3. I have 18 antral follicles on each ovary right now for a total of 36. (Hello, polycystic ovaries!) I found an interesting explanation of the significance of antral follicles in IVF here, for anyone who’s interested.
  4. Due to the high number of follicles, my doctor believes that I will respond strongly to meds, so she’s starting me on low doses: 100IU of Follistim and 1 vial of Menopur daily, beginning Sunday.
  5. Next week, I go in on Wednesday & Friday in the morning for blood work and in the afternoon for ultrasounds. My doctor will be away, so these will be with a new doctor—the first time I’ve seen anyone else since we started using this clinic in January. I’m a bit nervous about that, but my doctor reassured me that he will be in contact with her and that she will be the one calling the shots. She will be back in plenty of time for the last follow-ups and egg retrieval the week of the 25th.
  6. We have 30 pages of forms to sign and return at my appointment next Wednesday. I got a hand cramp after signing two pages worth. Yeesh.

It’s a bit surreal, really. I’m starting to feel the vaguest twinges of something—excitement, maybe? It’s too soon to say. Hopefully these next few hormone-free days will clear the emotional fog.

I’m 3 days into the pre-cycle Circle + Bloom IVF sessions. So far, I’m enjoying them. If nothing else, they force me to lie down and focus on relaxing for 15 minutes or so. Sometimes I can feel it making a difference and sometimes I find myself getting distracted, but so far it still feels worth it.

We have four peaceful days left until all hell breaks loose and our lives start to revolve around needles and ultrasounds. As anxious as I am to get this show on the road, I’m going to do my very best to soak up every drop of sanity between now and Sunday.

The sun will come out… Uh… When, exactly?

We officially kick off our IVF cycle tomorrow at 4 o’clock. I am ashamed to admit that I’m feeling very indifferent to it. I’m more excited to be done with birth control pills than I am to be starting IVF. I’m usually pretty good at sorting out my feelings, but I’m struggling with this. I feel like it would be acceptable to say that I’m scared or nervous or anxious—but indifferent? That’s just not right.

Yesterday, Catch and I were trying to plan a visit with her aunt in a couple of weeks, but we were on different pages. I said August, but she thought I said September. So we’re talking and I told her it would be awkward to have to bring the arsenal of injectable meds to her aunt’s house—plus some of it has to be refrigerated. Catch said, “But you’ll be pregnant—won’t we be done with the injectable stuff?”

She said it so casually. There was no uncertainty. No question. I don’t know how she does it. I wish I could be so sure.

The truth is that I cannot see this working. That’s not to say that I see it failing. I just can’t see. I can’t imagine myself pregnant next month any more than I can imagine having to pick up the pieces after a failed cycle. I try to envision something—anything—and all I get is a blank wall.

I feel like something is wrong with me. Like this inability to see a light at the end of the tunnel is setting us up for failure. If I don’t believe in it, how will it happen?

I would like nothing more than to blame the birth control pills and the metformin for this emotional black hole. I know my body has been through the ringer these past months. Clomid, follistim, hcg, progesterone, birth control, metformin—surely that all takes a toll, right? Is it unreasonable to hope that this fog will lift in the days following my last dose of birth control?

There are so many women out there in blog land who are preparing for their IVF cycles with such radiating positivity. I want so badly to be one of them. Instead, I’m pretty much just radiating exhaustion.

It’s a good thing I don’t believe in hell

You should know before you read the exchange below that I identify unapologetically as agnostic–bordering on atheist depending on what day you catch me. Catch and her entire family are Catholic. Pray before dinner, church every Sunday Catholic. This provides for some interesting scenarios… Especially for me. 9 years later I’m still the one who forgets and picks up her fork while everyone else is folding their hands and bowing their heads.

Catch: So, I have something to show you.
Me: Oh yeah?
Catch: I saw gram today and she gave us a gift.
Me: Uh oh.
Catch: opens box

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Catch: And she lights up.
Me: blinks

Mr. Scale

Confession: I have gained 3 pounds in the past 6 weeks. Honestly, I expected it to be worse. My stomach feels larger than it was 6 weeks ago and my face is rounder. It doesn’t seem like a measly 3 pounds could have made such a big physical difference, but there it is. 6 weeks ago, I couldn’t wear the maxi skirt I wore to work yesterday without a safety pin, but yesterday I required no safety pin. Again—3 pounds? Hmmm.

I would love nothing more than to point to clomid and follistim and birth control pills and progesterone and declare, “THOSE EVIL BASTARDS ARE MAKING ME FAT!” except that the reality is that I had ice cream for dinner on Wednesday night. I cooked a wonderful, healthy meal for us, but was nauseous and didn’t feel like eating until several hours later when Catch asked if I could get us ice cream. Suddenly, HELLO APPETITE. Zucchini & tomatoes were a no go, but I wasn’t about to turn down rocky road. Excellent.

So, here I am 5 days from our first real IVF appointment and I am up 3 pounds, haven’t stepped on a treadmill in weeks, and I’m eating ice cream for dinner.

Houston, we have a problem. I will call the problem burnout.

All those months ago (November!) when I started working out like a fiend and dieting like a boss, I had the clearest picture in my head: it’s going to work. And in January when I surpassed the goal my RE had given me and she was so impressed saying that her patents never actually lose the weight she recommends, I was floating on a cloud. It’s totally going to work. I earned this. I am a rock star.

And then—well, three strikes, you’re out. It didn’t work. I am anything but a rock star.

So, yes—I’ve been feeling defeated. It’s also been hotter than hell and we don’t have central air conditioning. Not the greatest environment for the treadmill. Plus, we’ve been traveling and crazy busy and all of these things combined lead us right back to ice cream for dinner. Although points for me that we didn’t already have ice cream in the house and I had to actually go get our scoops. I guess that’s something.

This is all my very lengthy way of saying that I need to put an end to this behavior. Now. Last week. Whatever. So far, I’m doing better. I avoided my mother’s cheese and bacon laden tomato pie last night, opting instead to roast myself some veggies and make a turkey patty. Progress.

I started taking the Glucophage XR last night. (They are giant horse pills that taste like snot. Yay!)  I will not allow myself to take drugs for insulin resistance while continuing to count rocky road as a nutritious alternative to zucchini. I may feel like crap, but damnit, I am going to eat my vegetables and we are going to do this.

Again.

sigh

Sunshine & Rainbows (& Sarcasm)

I allowed myself to have a cup of coffee every morning while we were camping. I also allowed myself to have a couple of drinks. Cut me some slack. We were floating on a river in 109 degree heat. Sometimes, you just need a cold beer.

I have not had coffee or alcohol since Sunday.

Having said that, the combination of no coffee + no alcohol + birth control pills is making me possibly the most miserable human being on the planet. You do not want to be within a 1-mile radius of me. I will either a) fall asleep on you or b) completely overreact to something totally minor, and do it with so much drama that everyone in the vicinity of us will think you are abusing me.

I bet you really want to be Catch right now, huh?

Although it may not seem like it, this is actually an improvement over Monday and Tuesday. Now I’m just tired and grouchy and don’t feel good, but I’m not feeling as stressed and anxious as I was on top of the present trifecta. Win!

Actually, today is the first day all week that I haven’t had a headache and needed to crawl under my desk and close my eyes at 2pm, so maybe the progress is better than I thought? I’d still love to take a nap, but I am at least physically capable of sitting upright at my desk, which is definitely an improvement over yesterday when I tucked myself into the fetal position and used the walking shoes I keep under my desk as a headrest.

I have not yet taken the time to listen to any of the Circle + Bloom sessions. I really want to, but last night I was asleep before I could even think about it, and the night before I just plain forgot. I think tonight will be the night. I’ll let you know.

My nurse called this morning to say that they weren’t thrilled with my latest glucose test and they want me to start on Glucophage XR instead of Metformin. Something about the Glucophage taking less time to build up in my system than Metformin. I start taking it tonight. One pill a day for a week, and then two pills a day after that. Fun times.

Other than that, I have now scheduled all of the schedule-able IVF appointments. Tuesday will be my last dose of birth control (HALLELUJAH!!!!) and I’ll go in for an ultrasound, mock transfer, and endometrial activation. 5 days later, I start Follistim and Menopur. Ironically, Labor Day (Sept 1) is on the calendar as a possible transfer day. Am I the only one who finds that amusing?

I am going to leave you with an adorable picture of my little hound girl Twix on our camping trip. She was perfectly content to curl up in an inner tube and take a nap.

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She also liked stealing our chairs.

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I kind of want her life.