Well, I guess this is really happening.
Yesterday morning was my final monitoring appointment, for which our doctor was there to observe. As soon as my right ovary popped up on the screen with all of its many, many follicles, he told us that I wouldn’t be able to use HCG for my trigger shot. What? Apparently I’m at risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Instead, he wanted me to take Lupron for a trigger, which would do the same job of telling my ovaries to complete the maturation process and prepare for ovulation. The only problem is that there is a nationwide shortage of Lupron right now and the closest pharmacy with it in stock is a few hours away.
It’s frustrating and scary to be put in this situation of taking such a risk with my health, but at this point, we don’t really have any other options available. My follicles are ready to go– in fact, there were 27 of them on my right side and 26 of them on my left side (!), which is a fairly large number. Out of those 50+ follicles, 17 of them are in the right range for producing mature eggs. Again, not all of these will produce eggs and a handful of the ones retrieved will not survive the first day.
So what exactly is OHSS? Well, you can read up on it on your own because Kyle has asked that I no longer look up scary possibilities on the internet for the sake of our sanity. The nurse at our clinic described it as sending shards of glass through your veins and tearing them up so badly that fluid leaks into your body. The treatment for this is surgery, and I will be at risk for about a week. In hopes of preventing it, I was told to take only a half dose of the HCG and given a few tips, but please include this new complication in your prayers for us these next few days.
In the afternoon I received my trigger instructions: I had to take it at exactly 8:30pm, the injection would have to go into my backside this time, and I should discontinue my other injections. I enlisted Kyle’s help with the shot, and despite becoming comfortable with stomach injections, I was a little nervous about the new injection site and not being able to have control. Not only that, but I had to go back to that large needle I accidentally used the first time (remember that?)! But, like every other obstacle, we faced it and got through it together. After the HCG was in my system, I briefly considered taking a pregnancy test just to see what it felt like to get a positive result. Truthfully, I’ll probably never have the ability to turn a test positive again and I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible since all I’ve ever seen are negatives. But, I wondered if maybe it would just make me feel even more sad, being that the result would only be superficial and the best part about it (an actual baby) wouldn’t be a part of it at all.
My egg retrieval, which is a surgical procedure, is now scheduled for early tomorrow morning. We will have to drive a few hours to get to the fertility clinic and had hoped to travel there this evening, but it looks like the snow might have other plans for us. As long as the weather doesn’t mess with my retrieval, I don’t care what it does– it can keep snowing into April for all I care right now– but these eggs WILL come out of me tomorrow.
I was initially excited at being able to trigger, but in all honesty, I am feeling absolutely miserable today. Not only am I worried about the possibility of OHSS, my body is also struggling to deal with everything it is being told to accomplish. Early on in my cycle it was hard to differentiate between the side effects, my normal chronic illness symptoms, and the flu, but this last week was different. I have had days of such extreme nausea that I struggled to hold my head up, I’ve had many symptoms of menopause (I can thank the meds for that), and I have been ravenous with hunger despite not having much of an appetite. Apparently growing a ton of follicles at once is hard work.
In addition, my ovaries have swollen to an enormous size to accommodate all of those follicles. I am hyper aware of them at all times and can even feel them pressing up against my skin. It has been uncomfortable the last few days, but today it is painful. Because of all the scar tissue in my stomach, the pressure has added to the sharp pain of pulling that I now have with every movement. I am ready for this part to be done now.
I haven’t shared my fears with very many people during this process, but I have committed to being honest here, so I will share them with you now:
- I am afraid that my eggs will not be good quality. It’s true, I’m only 27 years old, and I am reminded how young that is for IVF every time my nurses get excited over the age of my eggs. But throughout my lifetime, I have had a lot of medical testing done that has exposed my body to a significant amount of radiation. I once read a book where a woman damaged her eggs in the very same manner, and ever since I have held this fear close to my heart. I have also used a heating pad often while growing up to help with pain only to find out a few years ago that this can also ruin your eggs. I’ve been much more careful since then, but it’s definitely possible that the damage has already been done.
- If my eggs are not of good quality, it will bring this process to a screeching halt and end any possibility of having a child this way. There are certain laws that prohibit Elle* from carrying a child with a donor egg, so working with her as a gestational carrier would automatically come to an end.
- Beyond not being able to go through this process with Elle, who has been a huge blessing to us and made everything so much easier, buying a donor egg can add as much as $20,000 to the cost of IVF, and unless we win the lottery soon, that is just not feasible.
- Any problems with either the number or quality of my eggs will mean more time. A lot more time. We will essentially lose all the progress we’ve made over the last few months, and I don’t know if I can handle that right now. I am terrified of having a huge setback when I already feel as though I have given everything I can possibly give already.
- I’ve been under anesthesia more times than I can easily count, but over time I have lost trust in medical professionals. Each time I am put under now is terrifying, and because of the medications I’m on regularly, it has become even more dangerous. In some ways I feel like I’ve already cheated death before and now I’m just waiting for it to catch up to me.
Tomorrow, none of these fears will matter because we will know everything. Meanwhile, tonight is not so pleasant. Prayers, please. ❤