29 February 2012

Stabbing Myself with Needles

In my last post, I talked about trying to conceive again with the new fertility specialist, who recommended fertility medicine injections and IUI. To continue ...

So August 3, 2011, we started our next fertility cycle. This would be the first after the loss of our 3rd pregnancy. At this point, we were still living in temporary housing. However, we had begun the process of purchasing a home in Carencro, LA, which would be far enough north of Lafayette that my husband wouldn't have to drive quite as far to his job every day. I was scheduling the move of our household goods, and working on getting an extension to stay in the corporate apartment until the weekend we would close on the new house. Abigail was 19 months old, very active, and really starting to understand more of what was going on around her. So we were all very busy.

So busy in fact, that I didn't have much time to focus on getting pregnant. I was very happy for the distractions, actually, because it helped me avoid dwelling on what could happen, good or bad, with  this fertility cycle.

The Medicine
The medicine with this cycle was much more extensive than just taking 5 or 10 Clomid pills over 5 days. This time I was on three medicines:

  • Femara - I had to take 10 pills at one time on day 3 of the cycle. 
    I am not really sure what this medicine was for. 
  • Follistim - This was a medicine that I had to inject once per day for 7 days, starting on day 5 of the cycle. This medicine was administered by an injection "pen" that came with a case, a set of needles that were about half an inch long, and a vial of medicine that had to be refrigerated. I had to insert the vial, screw a needle on the pen, rub down my skin with an alcohol wipe, and then stab myself in the belly and inject. Then, of course, the needle went into a newly acquired "sharps" disposal container. This medicine didn't hurt too badly. The only part that hurt was the stabbing.
    This medicine promoted the formation of follicles in my ovaries, and hopefully at least one would fill with an egg.
  • HCG - This was a medicine that I had used before in Clomid cycles with previous pregnancy.
    The purpose of this medicine is to cause the ovaries to release one or more eggs into the dominant follicle or follicles.
So on day 3, which was a Friday, I took the Femara. Then on Sunday, I started the Follistim injections. The following Friday, day 10, I went into the doctor's office for a follicle scan. This is basically a vaginal ultrasound where they look closely at your ovaries to see if any follicles have formed, and if so, to make sure there are not too many dominant follicles. When there are an abnormally large number of follicles for someone with both fallopian tubes in tact, there is a high risk of multiples. If that happens, the doctor may call off the IUI and tell you to avoid intercourse so you don't end up with high-order multiples. 

I wasn't really sure what to expect. In all of my monitored Clomid cycles in which I had a follicle scan, there were either no follicles that were big enough, or only one. So I was very surprised when the US technician said "Wow, that's a lot of follicles!" She counted 6 or 7 in the left ovary and 7 or 8 in the right ovary. Not all were large enough or the best shape, but I was worried they wouldn't let me try this month because the medicine had worked too well. So I waited on the call from the nurse to let me know if and when to inject the HCG and when to come in for the IUI.

The coolest part about the medicines this time were that the side effects were unnoticeable. With Clomid, I would get headaches, hot flashes, and nausea. So the medicines actually worked much better, with less side effects. The medicine was pretty expensive as well, and without insurance would have cost about $500. Fortunately, my husband's insurance covered all but $35 of it. (We are so blessed!)

I got the call later that Friday afternoon from the doctor's office. They told me to inject the HCG on Saturday evening around 8, and to come into the office for IUI on Monday morning. 

We were on our way to another 2 week wait to find out if this cycle would result in our 4th pregnancy.

21 February 2012

Trying Again ...

Hi again, everyone! I took a 'holiday' break, and didn't realize it was going to take me until Mardi Gras to get back it!

In my last several posts, I talked about our 3rd pregnancy ending tragically and dangerously in a tubal pregnancy and emergency surgery. I also talked about trying to get into a new Fertility Specialist in the Lafayette area, where we had been living in a corporate apartment for a couple of months. And I discussed my confusion about why God was allowing my family to go through another pregnancy loss, as well as a disaster at our home in Texas and our inability to get anyone to buy our home quickly.

So at this point, we were still living in a temporary apartment in Lafayette, and we were restarting our home search in Lafayette, after having to bail on our original home choice. Our home in Texas had been sitting on the market for 3 months without much activity at all, and we had just paid out a significant amount of money for an insurance copay from a pipe situation and for some extra painting and upgrades to help market the house. And I was recovering from my 3rd surgery in 2011 by just mid July.

We had both had some testing done to determine what exactly was going on with our fertility, only to find out that while my husband was just dandy, my fertility situation had only become worse. My body wasn't ovulating properly, and my official diagnosis was PCOS with newly reduced chance for pregnancy because of the lack of ovarian tube on the left side of my body. So even if my body happened to ovulate, or even if we stimulated ovulation with medicine, any eggs coming from the left side would most likely never have a chance at getting fertilized. I was also now at a higher risk of having another tubal pregnancy because of my history.

After my last surgery, my first question was: "How soon until we can safely try again?" And the fertility specialist said I could try with my second period, but that my first would likely not happen for about 6-8 weeks. To my surprise, I started a period only 2 weeks later, but it was really light and kind of strange. So the doc let me take some progesterone to build up the lining of my uterus again. On August 3, just over 30 days after my last surgery, my period began again. I called the doc's office, and they cleared me to start trying ...THAT MONTH! I was surprised, but delighted and a little scared.

The doctor recommended that we use different, more potent fertility drugs this time (more on that in the next post) and that we do Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) to simply give us the best chance to conceive. I told them to go ahead and call in the prescriptions, but that I would have to call them back about the IUI part. I needed to pray about it, and I needed to give my husband time to pray about it as well. I had concern that because of his hesitation to pursue infertility treatment after we lost our Gabriel only 3 months before, he would not be a fan of going through with IUI.

After I prayed and felt peace about it, I called my husband at work. I told him how excited I was that we were going to be able to start trying immediately. I asked him if he was ok with the meds and trying now, and he said, "Sure!" Then, I hesitantly said that the doctor recommended IUI, and that our insurance covered it (which is unheard of). And I waited with anticipation ....for about 10 seconds. To my surprise, he said, "Sounds good." I was completely surprised. I told him the process and asked if he was sure, and he said, "Yep".

In my next post, I will go through the step-by-step process of the IUI cycle.