Since my baseline appointment last Tuesday, time has been passing more quickly. My days are spent scrambling to finish up various work projects before transfer, and I drew a calendar on my glass whiteboard to cross off the days. My weeks, I realise, are punctuated every few days by an estradiol injection, a new Circle + Bloom meditation, an ultrasound appointment, a “Keep Lauren Happy Month” (#KLaHM) treat.
No doubt about it, I’ve been busy — and I’m horribly behind on reading and commenting on your blogs as a result. I will also probably take a break from Twitter and the blogosphere at some point in the next week or so, because other people’s progress (especially my fellow cycle buddies’) sometimes provokes anxiety, and my rationale is if I limit my exposure I will stay calmer. I’ll still continue to blog, and when I publish a new post an auto-Tweet will be generated but I won’t be engaging in Twitter conversations for a little while. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep in touch or wouldn’t be happy to hear from you! If you are so inclined, please drop me a line by email :)
Anyway, here’s how the past week has been:
Wednesday January 29th
→ Lupron decreased to 10 units (from 20 units).
So I wouldn’t screw this up, I wrote TEN and 10 in big, black letters on my Lupron kit box and Lupron vial box, respectively. That definitely helped.
By now, I don’t bat an eyelid at injecting myself. In fact, I rather enjoy it — not because I’m a masochist, but because I am confident in my ability and it’s all part of the process to become a mother. Some people are lucky enough to bonk and get knocked up. Me? I go into the kitchen, grind my organic, fair trade, water-processed amazeballs decaf coffee and, while it is percolating, do the different deed, solita, in the bathroom. Wham, bam, thank meself, Ma’am.
I ask for the results of my baseline blood labs: Estrogen is 14 and progesterone is 0.72. The Lupron has officially put me in an artificial and temporary menopause.
Thursday January 30th
My weekly acupuncture appointment leaves me feeling blissed out. My acupuncturist, Jamie, advises me to eat lots of pineapple, as it is very good for implantation.
And I told my boss, R, that the IVF I was doing is actually donor egg IVF. He is not only incredibly supportive and encouraging, but informs me that he has 4 friends who have done it — including a lesbian couple (he’s never asked why they didn’t have a good egg between them). He tells me that the past year has taught him a great deal about all the different kinds of families out there: that he was at a party recently, talking to a man he’d just met. A little boy ran up to the man, hugged his legs, then ran off. R asked the man if the little boy was his; to which the man replied, I don’t know if he’s ‘mine’ but he is my son. It took R a while to figure out what the man meant, but I was chuffed I got it immediately: the man is one half of a same-sex couple and they mixed their sperm to fertilise the egg. It’s true, there are so many different kinds of family. It’s really okay.
And I am really struck by just how incredibly supportive of our decision to use donor eggs the people in our life are. Beyond simply respecting our decision, everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Everyone is really excited. Counting my blessings has never been easier.
Friday January 31st
Nellie starts stims! Things begin to feel a bit more real. I wonder what I will be doing when she does the first injection. Then I realise how little I know about IVF. There aren’t many women like me who bypass IVF and go straight to DEIVF! I have no idea what she is taking, how long for, when her appointments are…
That evening, DH injects me for the second time — and in the wrong place. You’re told to inject into the muscle on the outer upper quadrant of your butt. He injected me in the inner lower quadrant. Wanna know why the recommendation is for upper outer? Because when you inject in the inner lower part of your bum, it hurts more because the muscle spasms. Yet it doesn’t leave quite the same kind of bruise. Location notwithstanding, he does a terrific job of injecting me. His hands are steady and strong, which makes for a quick and relatively painless process.
Saturday February 1st
Speaking of bruises, I have a lovely green bruise on my belly.
But you’ll have to squint to see the tiny red “Strawberry Shortcake doll freckles” from each injection site.
My bruises and red doll freckles are the only real proof that I’m on hormones, because I don’t seem to have any side effects whatsoever. Lupron is not evil, as so many have said. I have a mild headache every so often, but it’s not enough to interfere with my life. And although I’m slightly more verklempt than normal, I don’t feel crazy on the estrogen. Part of me feels lucky; the other part of me is worried that, as with lack of morning sickness being attributable to impending miscarriage, this means I am not responding to the estrogen.
Sunday February 2nd
Holy amazeballs on fire, the amazing EWCM has returned! And my boobs are sore. I guess my estrogen levels have skyrocketed. Maybe something is happening after all!
Monday February 3rd
DH injected me for the third time. What can I say? He’s a pro.
And I had another visit from my purple hummingbird. Tiny birds and butterflies are thought of as portents of new life or symbolise lost babies, so I take it as a good sign.
Tuesday February 4th
Today’s a big day. I have a follow up appointment, which could be my last before the egg retrieval! As I am going to the clinic, I also bring consent forms and a gift for Nellie for retrieval day.
The two consent forms are a total of 33 pages of explaining all the various ART techniques and PGD, and outlining all the things that can go wrong. There is a section which DH and I discuss together: we must decide what will happen to any leftover embryos in the event our divorce, death/s. As with so many things, we are in agreement, but it is quite sobering.
In the car on the way to the appointment, I remove the dog hair that stubbornly clings to the gift bag containing thank you presents for Nellie: a Jizo pendant (and baseball cap — thanks, Valerie!), a smart leather journal, and three (homemade) CDs of Spanish music. I think about how important this appointment is as I glide the sticky roller over the bag. My lining didn’t respond well to the oral and vaginal estrogen in my mock cycle: how would I respond on ‘the big guns’ of injectable estrogen?
My lining was 4.5mm at my baseline appointment, so I came to what I hoped would be a realistic goal of 6mm, which would give me time to get to 8mm. While I was on Lupron, my reproductive system was silent. There was no sensation, no movement; I could tell my system was dormant. After taking the estrogen, I began to feel the odd twinge and the familiar pulling sensation. The Circle + Bloom meditation described the interaction of estrogen and uterus as a dance. It was a beautiful visual that I could hold on to. With one hand over my uterus and the other on my heart, I willed my body to respond to the estrogen. Come on, girl. Let’s dance!
An hour later, the head egg donor nurse, C, was telling me that the average lining at this stage is between 5-7mm and thought my 6mm was a reasonable goal. Up went the dildocam… and moments later I was looking at my womb as a smile spread across my face. There was the unmistakeable shape of a feather: I had a triple line. It looks good! C and I said simultaneously. Well, she added, let’s see how thick your lining is… and I watched as she placed the first X and dragged the dotted line to the other side of my on-screen uterus and saw the number seven appear.
In one week of three injections I achieved a millimetre more than I did on four weeks of oral / vaginal estrogen!
At seven millimetres, you’re at the minimum required for transfer, said C.
Holy shit, my body is ready to get pregnant.
Holy shit, this is real. This is happening.
I have never had such a positive ultrasound experience. For the first time, I felt relief. Happy, even. I turned to DH and we high-fived. Good job, baby! I told him. You’re seeing the fruits of your injectable labour right here! He just laughed and reminded me it was my body doing the work. I grinned at him.
But there was more good news: my ovaries are quiet which means not only do I not have follicles but I don’t have any cysts.
You are right on track, said our nurse. I’m proud of you!
This morning’s shot of Lupron was my last. No more injecting myself in the belly. Three more intramuscular (butt) injections down, three to go, every three days. I’m in good hands and the days are flying by.
Today we cleared the first big hurdle: I have a beautiful lining that can only get plusher and more comfortable for a little embie or two to burrow into for, hopefully, nine months. I’ve been pregnant before, I’m hoping that when those two little embies arrive my body’s response will be Hey, I remember this. I know what to do and how to do it! Maybe the lesson from my missed miscarriage is this: Little Bean, almost certainly a Recombinant 8 baby thanks to my wonky chromosome, never stood a chance — but my body did everything it could to give him a chance at life, and will gladly do the same for any other embryo. I am willing my body to welcome at least one embryo.
For the first time in about a year, I am feeling love and gratitude for my body and I trust it again. Let’s dance.