“I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. “I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!”– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Treatment is strange in that it seems to flip life upside down for a while. Time starts to lose its relevance and routine is lost to frequent appointments, blood draws, ultrasounds, daily phone calls with new dosage instructions, and strict injection schedules. This time around has been no different, and now, at the end of these weeks, I am ready to go back to normal life.
For the first time ever, I’ve done this treatment cycle on my own. The general busyness of Kyle’s current schedule has meant sitting by myself in a waiting room, often surrounded by couples. At times it has been very lonely. Although there is never much for him to do at this point, it was always a comfort simply to have him there for these appointments in previous treatments. Instead my family has been here to help with Ross: two of my sisters and my mom have taken shifts to keep him busy for each doctor’s appointment and the time in between. Somehow we’ve cobbled together a way through.
Then, after regular appointments every day this week and every other day last week, by Wednesday it all started to feel like too much. The side effects, the hours spent driving to the clinic and back again, the upside-down life we’ve attempted to become accustomed to– I didn’t know how much longer we could keep pushing. I knew I was getting close to the end: for the last few days I had egg follicles already within the ideal 18-22mm range and my estrogen level was rapidly approaching 4,000, the point where things start to get dangerous. Still, there was a part of me that hoped I’d get to stim for one more day. It was difficult last time to lose a greater percentage of eggs to immaturity compared to the first time, and in my limited understanding, it seemed like waiting just a little longer could give me a better chance. But, once those first follicles are ready to go, we can start losing eggs the other way too, rendering them unusable. Everything is a delicate balance.
That afternoon I received the phone call with my trigger instructions: stop all other injections and do the final one into my backside at exactly 10:30pm. The trigger would tell my ovaries to finish preparing the eggs and 36 hours later I’d have my egg retrieval to collect them before they are all released into my body and lost.
Yesterday I had off from everything as I waited for the retrieval this morning. This, to me, is the hardest part now. I feel ill and uncomfortable and I’ve cried an ocean of tears from skyrocketing levels of manipulated hormones. My ovaries are so large I can feel them through my skin, and the left one is pressing or pulling on scar tissue and causing sharp pain, as if a fish hook is caught in there. I hate that I am not allowed to eat or drink past midnight prior to the surgery, and as a psychological response, I’ve been feeling both desperately thirsty and ravenous with hunger pretty much since the minute it was no longer allowed. The anticipation of the procedure and my results is getting to me now, and I am ready for it to be over.
Yesterday was also significant in that it was the day we celebrated Ross’ 3rd birthday. I often think of how he came to be, but it felt even more poignant as I remembered back to four years ago, when I was struggling through this very same process in order to have him, too. It’s never easy, but it was more than worth it, and I am so grateful to still have this physical role. There is so much that I do not have control over and so much that has been taken from me, but not this, not yet. The results may not always be what I am hoping for, but I can still ask my body to do this.
In less than three hours now, I’ll be in the room with the doctor, nurses, embryologist, and anesthesiologist. By early afternoon I hope to be in my own bed recovering with a number of eggs retrieved and the hope for more embryos.