IVF Cycle #1: We’re Halfway There

Eight days of injections & three monitoring appointments down. We’re about halfway to my egg retrieval by this point, so our focus has started to shift.

My ovaries are basically in charge of our lives right now. In order to measure their response to the medications, we’ve had early morning appointments every other day. As of Monday (Day 4), my estrogen level was still very low (50), but once my dosages were increased, my body actually started responding. Wednesday’s (Day 6) appointment went smoothly, and even though my vein blew out, they were able to get enough blood to determine that my estrogen level jumped up to 250, which is much better.

Since my veins are so terrible, so much blood work in such a short time has become an increasing concern of mine. For my appointment this morning (Day 8), I switched back to my good arm (the left one), but she couldn’t get the vein. I told her she could take blood from any vein on my arm that she could find, and thankfully she was able to use my right hand, but, I know it will only get harder from here. The girl who took my blood actually guessed that I had fibromyalgia just based on the way my veins roll (now where was she 10 years ago when I went through 239428 doctors in a year to get a diagnosis??).

My ultrasound this morning showed the first real growth among the follicles in my ovaries. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process, eggs are located within the follicles. During a normal cycle, an egg is released from the follicle after it has grown over the first half of the cycle. But during a stimulated cycle (which is what I’m doing with my injections), several follicles are encouraged to mature at once so that multiple eggs can be retrieved. The procedure will not be done until there are a few follicles measuring a certain size to indicate maturity, usually between about 16-20mm.

Below is a photo of an ovary (not mine!) with multiple stimulated follicles. The follicles are the sectioned off black areas.

Not the kind of ultrasound I was hoping to be able to share.
Not the kind of ultrasound photo I wish I could share.

Today I got to actually see the screen during my ultrasound, which looked similar to the photo above. My largest follicle measured at 12mm, but the rest were closer to 8-10mm or less, which means they still have some growing to do. Even though it sounds as though I’m getting close to retrieval time, this is a relatively slow response, especially at my age. I always knew it was a possibility, but I never worried about my cycle being cancelled for this reason until today. If our doctor doesn’t feel like my body is responding well enough, or the egg count seems too low, this could very well be our reality. That means that all of the medication, the money we spent, our time & energy– all of it— will amount to literally nothing but experience.

For the time being we just have to wait and hope, as usual. My Menopur dosage was again upped to 225iu (from 150) and I’m back up to three injections a day again, this time with Ganirelix (250 mcg) added. I’m actually relieved to be incorporating another injection into my routine (and yes, I know how that sounds) because it means progress is being made.

All three of tonight's injections: Menopur, Ganirelix, and Follistim.
All three of tonight’s injections: Menopur, Ganirelix, and Follistim.
The remnants of injections past.
The remnants of injections past. Time to empty my sharps/hazards container!

I was supposed to begin having monitoring appointments everyday starting today, but tomorrow’s was cancelled to give my follicles more time. So until Sunday we’ll have no idea what’s going on in my ovaries. Who knew that would seem like too long to go without knowing what they’re doing? We also learned today that I will not be able to have my egg retrieval on the projected date, as you may have guessed. It will put us back a bit, which is frustrating for several reasons. For one, it means more days of injections, and that means more expense. This afternoon we had to fork over an extra $1500 for medication (the first batch alone was close to $3,000), just to make sure I had enough to get through the cycle.

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But, Kyle and I can wait. We are more than used to it; this has been our life for so long now. The hardest part is knowing that we aren’t the only ones being affected: Elle* and her husband will be flying here for the fresh embryo transfer, which is entirely dependent on the egg retrieval day. Since we don’t know when that will be, they can’t make any plans. It’s yet another sacrifice she and her family have made for us.

*Name changed for privacy reasons

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2 thoughts on “IVF Cycle #1: We’re Halfway There

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