Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mile High Memories

My fortune just before we left
So, I left off telling you about priming for the cycle.  Well, on January 22, I had CD1, so I went in for my baseline ultrasound and blood work.  Everything looked fine with that, so we started stimulating (stim) shots on Saturday, January 23.  The start of my stim shots looked like 150IU Menopur (2 vials) in the morning and 300IU Follistim at night.  I took 50mg of Viagra 1 hour before each of these shots.  Really?!  I was surprised, too.  Apparently, it helps your body to absorb the medication.  Unfortunately, this stuff is a little pricey, and I was accidentally taking 100mg of it before each shot.  This lead to us having to purchase it two more times in Denver, and one of those times, we paid $44 for a single pill.  Seriously.

Anyway, I also had the honor of taking Dexamethasone and Clomid daily.  The Dex isn’t a big deal, but I was definitely nervous about the Clomid.  I have heard horror stories about the mood swings that medication will give you.  I’m pretty sure that God thought it would be funny to let me have a shot at Clomid since I’ve never taken it.  He thought it would be even funnier to mix it with a plethora of additional hormones.  Awesome.  I think we were both a little nervous how this would go, but I have to admit, the side effects were nothing like I expected.  My moods were pretty even keel this cycle, aside from one fit of anger about making a huge decision.  More on that later.

So, I took the all-day cocktail of Viagra, Menopur, Follistim, Clomid, and Dexamethasone for a total of 13 days.  The following Thursday, I had my first mid-cycle ultrasound and blood work.  I knew it was early, so I didn’t put much stock on the number of follicles we were measuring.

The next day, we made the trip to Colorado.  It was a great day!  We laughed and talked and no one napped.  We just enjoyed our time together.
Leaving home
We stopped at the first sign of snow to take a picture for my mom
Todd very much enjoyed the chocolate from our travel pack our best friends sent
Our view from the back porch of the condo
Proof that I cannot pack lightly.  It's impossible.
On Saturday, we had our first mid-cycle ultrasound and blood work at CCRM.  This was an experience.  They perform your ultrasound; then move you to a very small, private waiting room to talk to your nurse; then send you to have blood drawn.  On that day, we found out we were only measuring 4 follicles that seemed to be growing at a good rate.  We were a little disappointed, but we just assumed it was still pretty early.  This was only the eighth day of stims, after all.
The mecca of the infertility world
That afternoon, we went to Colorado Springs to do some sightseeing.  We went to the Garden of the Gods and the Olympic Training Center.  Both were very cool and fun things that neither of us had seen.
Garden of the Gods - The Balancing Rock
Why is Colorado so windy?!
The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs
On Sunday, they gave us a day off from appointments, so we hung out at the condo and watch 18” of snow begin to fall from the sky.  It was magnificent.  We added one more shot to the mix; Ganirelix is not a stim shot, but it keeps you from ovulating.  The only complaint on this one is that it’s a strange needle that doesn’t insert easily.
Our back patio where we did not get to eat
When Monday came, the real fun began.  We started the day with the regular ultrasound and blood work.  Fortunately, they said it appeared we were measuring one more follicle.  Unfortunately, this meant we were still only measuring five follicles.  Statistically, not great odds with our history.  We had a genetic class to teach us all about how they would perform the genetic tests on our embryos and what they were looking for.  Then, we had an individual consultation with a genetic counselor.  Seriously, we have never had this kind of information given to us.  We ended the day with a physical to make sure my body was ready for anesthesia during transfer.  I cannot stress enough how kind and enjoyable all of the staff is at CCRM.  I know I mentioned it in the last post how Dr. Schoolcraft will patiently answer all of your questions, and he must have trained his nurses because they are the exact same way.
This is proof that we did setup a home office for the two of us
to work while we were there.  You're welcome, bosses!
We left there and headed into Denver to buy more Menopur and Viagra.  We have always had to mail order my injectable medications, so it was cool to be able to pull up to a pharmacy to get them.  It was about a 30 minute drive to the pharmacy, but with Denver rush hour, we had plenty of time to discuss.
Our new pharmacy...where everybody knows
your name (after you visit 3 times in 4 days)
Tuesday, we came back to the clinic for a regroup with Dr. Schoolcraft.  Our nurse recommended it since we seemed to be disappointed in the fact that we only had five follicles growing at the right rate.  It was at this time that he informed us that he was not surprised with my response.  Unfortunately, there was literally nothing else he could do to make my body respond any better.  He had given us the “bazooka” plan.  It was the biggest and best that they only give to patients with my type of ailments and history.  He encouraged us to consider adding the two extra cycles with banking that we had discussed before.  We were absolutely distraught.  We knew we had until my retrieval to decide what to do about the extra cycles.

On Wednesday, we had our fifth round of ultrasound and blood work since this cycle started.  The nurse said we were still measuring with five follicles on track.  We left the clinic and headed into Denver for our second pick-up of injectable medication and Viagra to hopefully last us the rest of the cycle.  Later that afternoon, we drove back into Denver (because we don’t know how to do all of these things at the same time?) to see Todd’s urologist for his pre-op appointment.  Sadly for Dr. Cowan, when he walked in the room and asked how the cycle was going, I broke down into tears.  He was prepared as he quickly handed me a box of tissues and reminded us that we are in the best hands.

Thursday brought round six of ultrasound and blood work and no changed news.  We had our third trip to the Denver pharmacy for more Follistim that day too.  That evening, we were lucky enough to get to go to dinner with my childhood friend that we saw on the last trip.  This time, her little girls were with her, again, and so was her husband.  It was a great break from the all-encompassing decision of what we would do about adding more cycles.  This was the first night that I lost my marbles, though.  I was so upset that we couldn’t make a decision that I blew my lid.  Thank you, hormones.
The only picture we have ever taken of my ovaries.
You can see multiple follicles at this angle.
Before we went to bed on Thursday, we did my first two of three trigger shots.  These are the shots that cause your body to ovulate the eggs.  They have to be exactly timed, or it can mess up a whole lot of stuff.  In the past, I have only done one trigger shot.  This was the first time I was getting to do three.  Again, another change to our protocol from our past.

The next morning, we had to arrive for Todd’s retrieval.  It was pretty cool.  When you go to CCRM for surgery, they have an underground garage that’s outside of the elements for you to park.  We went through the regular pre-op stuff of getting him changed, getting his IV, and answering questions for every doctor and nurse in the building, including the all-loving Dr. Cowan.  Once Todd was in surgery, I went down for a final blood draw to make sure my body had properly absorbed the trigger shots.  When Dr. Cowan came out from surgery and gave me a good report, I actually stood up to shake his hand.  Instead, we somehow hugged, and it was reassuring to know we had a doctor that we felt cared so much about our case.  I was finally able to go back and see Todd, and he didn’t disappoint.  Todd on Propophol is always an enjoyment.  We made it home that day just in time for me to take my third and final trigger and for both of us to get some rest.
Todd's personal belonging box at his surgery.  He was proud of his shirt.
He's so romantic!
Pre-Op...a little nervous
Post-Op...not a care in the world
Making a homemade ice pack requires a Target sack, a ladle, and some patience.
Saturday was the day of truth.  We headed to CCRM knowing we still didn’t have our decision made.  We had just decided to “wing it.”  The retrieval order was just like Todd’s, only this time, they didn’t make him go out into a waiting room when I went into surgery.  Instead, he was able to go to my post-op room, sit in a recliner, and was brought ice packs and warm blankets.  Livin’ like a king!  A while after retrieval was complete, an embryologist came out to talk to us and tell us that they had retrieved 11 eggs.  Now, this may sound like a massive miracle, but we knew they would retrieve more eggs than we had anticipated.  The real question was how many were mature.  At that point, we were supposed to make a decision on the extra cycles, and I know the embryologist could tell we were still torn.  She asked if we would like for her to call us when they knew the maturity, and we were so relieved.  That would give us a much better picture of what we were dealing with.  We loaded up and headed back to the condo for more rest.

A few hours later, the call came.  With hearts beating, we answered and listened as she politely told us that seven of the eggs were mature.  SEVEN!  Not five?!  We were told to hope for five.  Nope, our God had shown His hand and blessed us with seven mature eggs.  We were elated.  Confidently, we told her to move forward with just this one cycle.  At that moment, we knew that God was telling us to trust Him.  It would take more faith for us to stop at this one cycle than to continue adding more and more cycles.

On Super Bowl Sunday, they called to tell us that six of those mature eggs were able to be fertilized.  What a huge relief.  But now the real wait began…


  1. I guess you know you are killing me!!! Even though I know the rest of the story, it feels like you are leaving me on the edge. . .love your writing, Laura.

    1. Sorry I've been leaving you hanging for so long! :-)

  2. I can't wait to read more. I love all your pictures. So glad you got to get out and enjoy beautiful CO too!

    1. Thanks, friend. Sorry it's been so long since I've written. I'm working on fixing that.

  3. You are a great writer!

    I love that last photo of the balancing rock and Psalm 27:14.

    God is in control. He has you and Todd in the palm of His hand. Thank you for letting me walk beside you through this journey.

    1. You are so sweet, Belinda. Thank you for all of your support. I'm so lucky to get to walk our journeys together!