When Infertility Updates Go Sterile

Sometimes it’s just too hard. Too hard to swallow. Too hard to breathe. To hard to share. Thus, my recent silence.DSC_2682

After our primary infertility struggles and IVF success catapulted me into the crazy, hectic, wonderful life that motherhood brings; I became an open book about our infertility journey. I hadn’t had the emotional support that I desperately needed while going through round after round of complicated infertility treatments. To be honest, even an army of supporters probably wouldn’t have been enough. With infertility…the best intention, the nicest phone call or text, the sweetest gift, the most compassionate comment…somehow it’s still never quite enough. The pain, the chronic patient role, the longing, the sorrow-it all outweighs the support. (for those showing support…please don’t stop! I’m just ranting.) I wanted to be real for other women struggling with similar issues. I wanted to break down the stigma that infertility builds and then reinforces with steel beams. Woman hiker on a top of a mountain

But, then I became an infertility patient once again. Optimistic…determined…nervous…and hopeful. At first sharing felt second nature. Our first frozen IVF success turned miscarriage made it a little harder. Repeated disappointments have continued to zap my desire to share. Instead, I’ve found myself withdrawing from the spotlight. In a way hiding. Clinging to privacy once again, as though it is a better comforter or coping mechanism to deal with my grief. My hope is still real, but the painful question of “Will it ever work?” plagues me each day. Blame it on the hormones. I do. But, my heart knows that my silence has simply been a way to quell my grief. Writing is acknowledging. Putting things into words makes them real…acute…like pouring salt into a wound. I like to think that I’m strong, but a girl can only take so much.

So, please forgive my silence. I don’t mind your curiosity. I love your support. But, to answer your question…No, we are not pregnant. Our most recent IVF cycle was more than promising. With 9 embryos to show for my efforts (yes, “MY.” I’m taking all of the credit. My husband would agree.) and the best cycle of stimulation yet, I was certain that it would work this time. So certain, that when we received the call 1 hour before our embryo transfer that none had survived to day 5, I went into something of a tailspin. NONE?? A statistical anomaly? A lab error? We made good embryos consistently. Only 10-15% not 100% should have arrested in development. WHAT? WHY? HOW?

The answer: ????????? Laboratory Fertilization Of Eggs In IVF Treatment

I hate the unknown. I hate the uncertain. As a physician, I want answers…reasons…solutions. I want to fix. I want to heal. I want to have a baby!!!! Instead, I’m starting from scratch once again, this time with a new doctor. Joy of joys. The idea of entering a third infertility establishment as a new patient just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over again. Here goes!

Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading. Since silence hasn’t done the trick, I’ve decided to clink on the keys a little more going forward. My prayer is that for those struggling you will know that you aren’t alone. I’m here in the trenches with you. My prayer for myself is that even in the darkness I will not lose sight of the light…no matter how small it’s glimmer. I will hold onto hope, not blindly, but with the understanding that even if things don’t work the way that I long, there is still a greater plan. God may not answer my prayers the way that I want, but my story may just be the game changer to impact someone else. And, that uncertainty makes me smile. family, charity, healthcare, health. christmas, x-mas and happy

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What does a fertile faith look like in the midst of infertility??? Part 1

I don’t touch on “religious” topics too often. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my faith or trying to shy away from it. On the contrary, my faith centers my life. It gives me hope. It keeps me sane. Call me weak…and I’d probably agree with you. Without my faith, I never would have found the strength to endure the road to becoming a physician, infertility, pregnancy loss, severe preeclampsia, having a premature baby, and dealing with the rest of life’s trials along the way.Woman hiker on a top of a mountain

Don’t get me wrong, many people have suffered greater losses, heartaches, and pains than I can dare imagine. Living in the United States makes most of my problems “First World” inconveniences. But, here and there my heartaches have been and still are significant. I’m often asked how I’ve found the strength to make it through 9 complicated IVF cycles with only one baby to show for it. How do I keep going?  Were does my strength come from? How do I find the endurance? What’s the key to making it through?  As I’ve opened up about my infertility journey these questions have continued to ping my inbox. What’s the secret?Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

I’ve decided that it isn’t a secret at all. And, while some won’t like my answer, it is still my answer. Feel free to disagree. That’s the beauty of living in a country with freedom of speech and religion. If you don’t have a faith base and find this annoying, that’s fine too. I’m not offended by you, and it’s not my intention to offend you. I’m simply sharing from my own world in life view what I’ve found to be most helpful. Here goes…

Stay tuned for Part 2

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If You’ve Got Something Fertile to Say…Please Keep it to Yourself!

I wanted to smack her right in the face. The flight attendant’s snippy, “I’m the mother of 6 children,” comment was enough to put me over the edge. Really? Yes, my child is screaming and doesn’t want to sit in her seat, but knowing that you are a fertile, super-mother with 6 loads of experience is not going to calm my 2 year-old or me for that matter. In fact, using your mother of 6 status is the last thing that any woman in the middle of several failed infertility treatments needs to hear. Why don’t you go take your own seat!

Sorry, to sound hostile, but time and time again the fertile mother either innocently, unknowingly, or even intentionally says something that stings. I do my best to dismiss the innocent and ignorant comments, but sometimes it just gets to be a little too much! So, I thought I would provide those of you blessed with super fertile powers a quick tutorial on what not to say to a woman without kids, someone with known infertility, or any woman you don’t know much about. This isn’t all inclusive…but it is fairly lengthy! For all those who do or have struggled with infertility, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

What Not To Say In An Infertile World:

1. When are you planning on starting a family? Hint…Hint? (Please, stop asking!)

2. You know the clock is ticking, right? You aren’t getting any younger. (My ovaries are none of your business)

3. Don’t you guys want kids? (Of course not. Don’t most women despise the idea of motherhood?)

4. Do you have any news (pregnancy implied)? (If I wanted to tell you I would have.)

5. How many kids are you planning on having? (Is that really any of your business?)

6. Do you only want one (said with disbelief)? (If I did what’s wrong with that? But, no, my heart is breaking trying to have another!)

7. It’s about time for another isn’t it? (Thanks for keeping track of our family planning.)

8. Your daughter needs a sibling! (No kidding!)

9. Having one is so much easier. (Not when you have to go through infertility treatments to have another)

10. You should be happy you only have one. (Why don’t you try it?)

11. I can’t believe I’m pregnant again. We weren’t even trying. (It must be amazing to be you!)

12. I wish I weren’t pregnant. (I will gladly take your baby)

13. Being pregnant stinks. (Being infertile sucks!)

14. So, you guys are more focused on your careers, right? (Having a career doesn’t mean you don’t want kids!)

15. As a mom of x number of children, let me tell you…(Please don’t.)

16. Life is so easy when you only have one. Just wait! (I am waiting.)

17. I would never want a test tube baby! Oh, your baby is so cute! (She’s a test tube baby.)

18. Be glad you aren’t pregnant right now! (Seriously?)

19. That’s so nice that you don’t have any kids yet. You can travel and do such fun stuff. Be glad you still have your freedom. (I’d prefer to lose my freedom!)

20. I have a great book on how to get pregnant. (I wrote it.)

21. Have you tried putting your legs over your head? (Yes, for 48 hours at a time.)

22. You need an ovulation kit! (My ovulation is just fine thanks.)

23. I have a list of fertility foods that will get you pregnant in no time. (I’ve tried eating from the Garden of Eden. Fertile foods are no match for incredibly low sperm counts. It’s going to take more than pineapple core.)Beautiful young woman making Yoga exercises on the beach

24. Have you tried essential oils? (I practically drink them. Thank you.)

25. You guys just need a weekend away. (Hmm…pretty sure three days in bed isn’t going to do the trick.)

26. You need to stop stressing. (Stop talking, please. You’re stressing me out!)

27. Why don’t you just adopt? (Why don’t you?)

28. Let me tell you what worked for us. ( I really don’t care.)

29. Can I give you a piece of advice? (As though I can say, “No” without sounding rude)

30. Maybe God has something different for you instead of motherhood. (How consoling!)

31. Dr. Oz says…(Why do I care what a cardio-thoracic surgeon has to say about my fertility?)

32. The power of positive thinking is amazing. Visualize yourself pregnant. (What do you think I’ve been doing for the past 5 years!)

33. I know how you feel. It took us a whole month to get pregnant! (Wow, that must have been hard!)

34. Are you taking your vitamins? Maybe going gluten free, caffeine free, dairy free, soy free, and deodorant free would do the trick. (Am I allowed to eat?)Girls Kissing Mom's Belly

35. Isn’t this like your zillionth time going through IVF? (Thanks for reminding me.)

36. Maybe you should focus on learning to be content with what you do have. Isn’t having one enough? (Isn’t that between me, my spouse, and God?)

37. Infertility treatments are so unnatural (Clearly!)

38. There are worse things in life than infertility. You could actually have a serious medical problem to deal with. (True. That helps me cope how?)

39. Infertility isn’t really a medical problem. Having kids isn’t medically necessary. (Umm, who gave you your honorary medical degree?)

40. That’s nice that you can afford IVF. I hear that’s only for rich people. (It’s called debt. The most cost ineffective way to make a baby.)

41. You are saving yourself a fortune by not having kids. (Actually, I’m spending a fortune trying to have one.)Six pregnant bellies at different stages of pregnancy.

42. If you had more kids you’d understand…(If you had infertility you’d understand).

43. I totally know what you’re going through. My friend had infertility. (How could you possibly know what I’m going through.)

44. You do know how to make a baby right? All it takes is some good old fashioned sex! Do we need to get you a room? (Hmm…baby making can be a little more complicated!)

45. EVERYTHING ELSE EVER SAID

For those of you who are offended by my comments above…I don’t apologize. I have uncomfortably experienced every single comment mentioned above. And, while my real life responses were always gracious, I decided it was time to let off a little steam. Please know that that I don’t hold grudges. So, if I just quoted you in the 45 comments above…know that it has already been forgiven and forgotten.

You don’t have to walk on egg shells around those of us with infertility. We are happy that other babies are being born in the world. We want other people to be blessed with little ones. But, sometimes (most of the time) we do need a little sensitivity. Just think twice before the fertile you makes an overly fertile comment:)

Disclaimer: This article is clearly one sided (from the infertile perspective). It isn’t meant to criticize those with numerous children who are amazing parents with their own set of challenges. Nor is it meant to minimize the challenges of an unexpected pregnancy. Please take it as what it is…a rant from someone in the middle of infertility treatments for an extended period of time.

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What to Expect when Trying to Expect…IVF update from our April Embryo Transfer…

I had been crossing everything before our embryo transfer…fingers, toes, eyes…just about everything except for my legs. These were the last of our frozen embryos. If just one of them stuck we could wave our infertility treatment days goodbye. Only three were remaining, and while the quality wasn’t perfect, they were still little forces to be reckoned with.

I started my progesterone shots (YIKES THOSE ARE BIG NEEDLES), lupron shots, my estrogen patch, my estrogen pills and my routine blood work and ultrasounds. This had just worked several months before. Well…sort of worked. A 5 week pregnancy ending in miscarriage still counts as some sort of progress. It could work again. I had been praying for a miracle. Statistical success rates, odds, likelihood, all inconsequential in the presence of a divine intervention.Happy Family On The Beach. Baby Girl Hugging Her Mother

My typical outlook for infertility treatments has always been cautious optimism. I prepare myself for the worst because it’s so much easier to deal with the disappointment when things don’t work out. Why I decided to change my perspective this last time I’m not sure. For some reason the idea of a changed coping mechanism sounded refreshing. It would work. It was going to work. In spite of the odds it was going to happen. I was going to get pregnant and carry that pregnancy until I had a full-term healthy baby. I was going to have a story of triumph in spite of the odds. This was a simple miracle for God. What reason would he have for denying my request?

The embryo transfer went perfectly. Of the three remaining embryos, two survived the defrosting process. And, of those two, one looked incredibly promising. The catheter slid into place easily and within moments two precious little lifeforms were floating around inside of my uterus. Now came the waiting game. I was hopeful. I was actually incredibly excited. I even felt pregnant. I was tired, moody, hungry and sure that it had worked. I wasn’t cramping, and I wasn’t spotting.

And…I also wasn’t pregnant. Two home pregnancy tests and then a blood draw B-hcg level of less than 1 confirmed that my miracle had not happened. Disappointment has been followed by a firm resolve that there is a reason for everything. I don’t understand it, but instead of letting grief swallow me up (for more than a few weeks), I’m looking forward with hope once again. Since all of our frozen embryos are gone we must start from scratch with a fresh IVF cycle. This journey is far from easy, painless, or inexpensive; but, my desire for another child trumps the obstacles and challenges before me. I refuse to let infertility define me; but I am allowing it to shape me into a stronger woman, full of faith, hope, and love. This may sound trite or contrived, but trust me, this refining process has been neither trite nor contrived.

The struggle with infertility can be all-consuming. It can be and is devastating. I’m not going to sugar coat a horrible diagnosis. However, I can’t let it ruin the beautiful things that I do have in life. Infertility wins if I let it have that hold on me. I refuse to let it win. I am stronger because of it. I am a better mother because of it. I have a deeper respect for other’s pain and suffering because of it. I am learning to let go of the things that are beyond my control because of it. I am trying to make beauty from ashes. Some days I succeed…and for now that’s all I can EXPECT while I’m waiting to EXPECT!

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If at first we don’t succeed…we IVF again

I’ve been quiet for what seems like an infertile forever regarding our journey toward making baby #2. I have been so quiet that I almost forgot our infertility struggle, our pregnancy loss at the New Year, and the inevitable fact that infertility treatments would start again (if only I could forget). Waiting is painfully hard, but when you wait long enough life almost goes back to normal. Busyness partially fills the void, distracting from what could have been. Engaging in normal daily activities, volunteering, working, playing with my precious daughter who overflows with giggles and joy…it’s almost enough to settle into life as I know it. Almost enough until I’m reminded of my longing for another child every time I see a pregnant belly, hear a baby crying, or look at my own daughter.Young woman is swinging on a swing in summer forest.

As much as I initially wanted to jump right back into another cycle of infertility treatments, the delay has made me oh so comfortable with the way things are. Feeling “normal” can be so refreshing to the spirit. For the past month I have enjoyed NORMAL. Every moment hasn’t been fixated on infertility. Every moment hasn’t been spent planning what to do next, checking the minute hand to ensure the exact moment to give a progesterone shot, scanning public places to find a semi-private place to draw up a medication without looking like an addict, or assessing if a sharps container has been installed in the bathroom.Gorgeous happy blonde on a bike ride at the beach on a sunny day

Waiting in some ways has been a relief. A respite. I have allowed myself to push infertility to the back of my mind. But, now my reality returns. In order to fulfill my heart’s desire, I must face infertility head on once more. A life without IVF would definitely be so much easier than what lies ahead…a life without daily shots, hormone swings, sore boobs, a swollen behind so sore with injection welts that it’s hard to sit. Who am I kidding? A life without infertility would be eternally easier, but that isn’t an option for me. Wishful thinking, eternal optimism, and determination won’t change anything. So, this time around, I’m holding onto a child like faith and a positive perspective no matter the outcome. I can only move forward.  The rest is out of my control.

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Weary of Waiting…infertile…impatient…in love with the idea of a baby

I’ve been waiting to not be pregnant any more-funny statement from a woman longing for a baby. Since the ultrasound confirmed my miscarriage I’ve been ready to move on. I’ve wanted the bleeding to stop and my hormones to stabilize. My beta-hcg which I had been ecstatically watching trend upward came to a screeching halt and since then has been on the slowest decline ever. It needs to be zero before we can consider restarting another frozen IVF cycle. Since it had been doubling rapidly I assumed that the decline would be just as swift. Silly me to think anything associated with infertility could be swift…other than disappointment.

My b-hcg levels have taunted me for the past several weeks. 600, 500, 320, 215, 120, 64…and finally this past friday…4! Finally a number that means we can move on. I’ve been bleeding for over a month now, just another reminder of our pregnancy failure. The miscarriage bleeding finally slowed last week, but in exchange my period decided to arrive yesterday. Lucky me!Woman With Stomach Ache

I was under the impression that once my b-hcg level zeroed out, I could start right back into another frozen cycle of IVF.  Having achieved a negative number, I urgently scheduled my ultrasound for the next available appointment and pulled out my needles and viles of lupron. Three days felt like two weeks. It was the shortest wait that I’d had thus far, but it still felt like an eternity.Biological clock ticking - woman holding clock in front of stoma

Finally ultrasound day arrived…today! I headed to my OB/GYN office to make sure that my ovaries and uterus were back to normal. If so, I would be injecting myself with lupron by tomorrow. Thankfully, everything looked fine. It took two hours in the doctor’s office this morning to get that news, but I happily dismissed the wait time in exchange for positive results. Now all I needed was the go ahead from my reproductive endocrinologist.

I grabbed the phone on the first ring this afternoon, ecstatic to move forward on our mission to make another baby. The news that I still need to wait another two weeks before I can jump back into infertility treatments has left me feeling disappointed once again. Repeat blood work in two weeks-estrotgen and progesterone this time. Now I’m waiting to ovulate (not that my eggs are contributing to the equation this time around.)Runner Start Runway 2015

Every week that nothing happens feels like a failure. Every week that I’m not pregnant or at least actively working toward that end feels like a disappointment. I’m stuck at the start line. The gun has fired for everyone but me. False start after false start has kept me stuck in the same position with nothing to show for it but more pain and grief. I’m ready to run full speed ahead. I’m ready for infertility to get out of my way. I ready for it to work this time.

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Our Infertility Journey (1.20): Could It Really Be Good News?????!!!!!!

We were scheduled for our fourth embryo transfer, and this time my primary infertility specialist made sure that she would be present to do the procedure. She agreed that given all of our complications it made sense that she be the one to perform the procedure. This time went so much more smoothly (the way it was supposed to go). After only a minute, two perfect embryos were in my uterus.Golden Egg

I decided to stay on my back with my legs up for a while. (30 min. to be exact.) I didn’t care if there wasn’t any medical evidence for this, I needed to do something different. I needed this to work. I went home and propped my legs up again. Then we waited once more. I was somewhat pessimistic. I didn’t know if this would work. I wanted it to, but it hadn’t yet. And, after 5 cycles of IVF (the first once being cancelled due to hyperstimulation and the others never resulting in a pregnancy) I doubted that things would ever work for us. In the midst of my doubt, I still held onto a thread of hope. This cycle had been as close to ideal as we would probably ever get…great embryos and a great transfer. Two weeks of waiting felt like an eternity.Biological clock ticking - woman holding clock in front of stoma

A few days before the pregnancy test I began to feel crampy. I was heartbroken. How is it possible that it hadn’t worked again!  The day I went in for my blood work, I told the nurse that I was sure that I wasn’t pregnant. I felt like I had after each cycle…crampy. I hadn’t started bleeding yet, but I was sure it was only a matter of time. I waited for the typical call from the nurse. I was at work and had been talking with my coworker who was waiting for an adoption opportunity. Just minutes before she had received the news that a baby boy was going to be born within the next couple of days, and he could be hers! She was ecstatic! I was so happy for her. She left the room to see a patient and in the meantime, my call came.couple, pregnancy and love concept - close up of woman and man h

I saw that it was my infertility nurse, and my heart leapt and then sank all at the same time. I knew that I wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t even need her to confirm it. I answered the call just as my coworker walked back into our office. “Hello”, I said. “Emma, its Libby.” “Emma, you’re PREGNANT!” What! What! No, that couldn’t be right! How could I be pregnant. I was crampy. I didn’t feel pregnant. They must have been looking at someone else’s results. “No, Emma, we double checked. These are your results. You are pregnant. Congratulations!”

I was in shock. I was through the roof! Oh, my goodness. You have got to be kidding me! It finally worked!! I was pregnant. I could get pregnant! It was all worth it. I wanted to jump up and down, but I didn’t dare for fear it would expel the precious embryos. But, how good were my levels? I knew that this mattered. Was I really pregnant or just a little? No, I was really pregnant. My hcg numbers were high. They were prefect. I would have to have them repeated in 2 days just to make sure that they were doubling, but I was definitely pregnant.Baby Fetus Newborn Over Isolated White Background. New Born Chil

My coworker knew immediately when she saw my face. We were both going to be having new babies! I immediately tried to call Dave. He needed to be my first call. Voicemail. I paged him but didn’t get an answer. I knew that he should be the first one to know, but if I couldn’t reach him, I couldn’t keep it to myself after everything I had been through. I quickly dialed my parents. My mom was thrilled! We were all cautiously optimistic. We knew that a positive pregnancy didn’t necessarily mean we would be having a baby. We still had a lot of hurdles to get through, and the pregnancy rates were always much higher that the delivery rates for IVF. Although I was cautiously optimistic, I was also full of hope. I couldn’t wait to make it past 12 weeks. I just needed to get to the safe zone,  and then, 2012 would be my year of motherhood!

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An Update on Our Current Pregnancy Situation (Jan 2015)…unfortunately, labs don’t lie

I know I’ve been posting a lot lately about our struggles with primary infertility (trying to finish out the story for everyone). However, as most of you know, we are currently undergoing infertility treatments in an effort to make baby #2. Christmas Eve I found out that I was pregnant after a frozen IVF cycle. But, after several ultrasounds and repeat labs, I’m sad to say that we are having a miscarriage. Our little one decided not to stick around.

Thank you all for your kind words, prayers, and support along this journey. As I watch my beta-hcg levels fall it’s a little surreal and incredibly sad. Seeing an empty uterus on ultrasound confirmed the diagnosis and cemented the fact that our infertility journey is not yet over. When we received the news that we were pregnant it seemed too good to be true (and it was). No more stimulation cycles, no more needle pokes, no more financial planning for fertility! We were going to have another baby! Sadly, that’s not the case, at least not yet. So, I’m pulling myself up by my Hunter boot straps and gearing up for what’s to come. With two more frozen embryos left, our IVF journey continues. Maybe this next cycle will be the end of our infertility road? If not…ovarian stimulation and fresh IVF here we come!

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Our Infertility Journey (1.19): An Egg Retriveal Without Pain Meds or Anesthesia!

The plan was to start the process of a full IVF cycle all over again as soon as possible so that my cervix wouldn’t have the opportunity to become windy again. I was ready, but I was also exhausted. I admitted to Dave that I wasn’t sure how much more I could take. We went with the antagonist cycle again because this had given the best response with limited hyperstimulation. Back to the shots, the ultrasounds, and the early morning doctor visits…blood work galore. It was all so routine now that I couldn’t even imagine life without IVF.Sperm injection

Walking into the clinic each morning, the secretaries greeted me by name. That’s not really a positive thing in an infertility clinic. You want to get in and out with success as quickly as possible. Becoming a regular is not the goal. The stimulation went well this time. It actually looked like it was going to offer the best egg retrieval yet. The retrieval day was set once again, and once again we arrived early in the morning to the hospital. I had taken my Ativan and Dave was at my side. My assigned infertility nurse was also present which was always comforting. But today, another nurse who was new to the department was also present. She was the one who would be pushing my pain medications.

I wasn’t all that thrilled at the idea of having an extra person in the room (especially one that I didn’t know), but I didn’t really have an option. Things got started and were going fairly well except for the fact that this time was much more painful compared to my previous egg retrievals. I kept asking for more pain medication (which wasn’t typical for me), and I repeatedly asked how close we were to being done. Pain, Pain, Pain! I squeezed Dave’s hand so hard that I thought I was going to break it. Why was this time so much worse? I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle. I never asked for the maximum amount of narcotics!Cropped image of nurse attaching IV drip on male patient's hand

The physician told me that a significant number of the follicles were close to the ovarian wall. This location was often more painful for egg retrievals. Maybe, but as they wheeled in the gurney I noted that I was much more awake and lucid than the last two times we had done this. I was actually carrying on a full conversation with the nurse, which I had never previously been able to do. On the other retrieval days my mind had been sluggish and my mouth always had trouble forming the words that I wanted to say. A “yep,” or “huh” were typically all that I could utter due to the sedating effects of the pain meds and anti-nausea medications (I’m something of a light-weight). Usually, my legs were so heavy that I couldn’t even transfer myself to the stretcher without significant help. This time I practically hopped from one bed to the other.

I mentioned how strange it was that I felt this awake. Ah, well, it was over. Off to recovery once more. A new nurse came in to check on me and to flush my IV line. As she was flushing, I began to panic at the sensation. What horrible medication was she giving me? She said, “Nothing, just flushing the line with saline.” As soon as she left the room I went bizirk. My hand and arm were on fire and the pressure was unbearable, almost like compartment syndrome. Something was wrong. It was burning. It wasn’t stopping. I called the nurse back in, but she wasn’t sure what was happening. “Maybe a little bit of the medications were left in the tubing,” she suggested.

Well, that was an understatement because then my heart started racing, I began profusely sweating, my head was spinning, and I felt like I was going to pass out and throw up all at the same time. I must have looked as bad as I voiced because she quickly sprang to action, shut off the IV line and grabbed my vital signs. Sure enough…something was definitely wrong. All of the pain meds and anti-nausea meds had been sitting in my IV line, un-administered during the egg retrieval. Either there had been a problem with the IV tubing, or the new nurse hadn’t actually opened the valve on the tubing. Now I had just gotten a whopper dose of narcotics and phenergan (anti-nausea medication known to burn like crazy if not diluted properly) in one quick push!

This all explained why the procedure was so painful this time, and why I had been so alert. Within minutes after the medication overload, I was gone to the world, knocked out until late that evening. A junkie lifestyle is definitely not for me. I felt horrible. The nurse typed up an incident report, but there really wasn’t much else to do now that it was over. It wasn’t like they could take back my extra painful experience.Laboratory Fertilization Of Eggs In IVF Treatment

The good news was that our embryos were gorgeous. They were the best that we had ever obtained from a cycle. Only a few more days and once again two embryos would be transferred into my uterus. I prayed that this time it would work. I wasn’t sure how much more I could go through. My ovaries were huge and aching. My heart was heavy and aching. My endurance was waning.

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Our Infertility Journey (1.18): My Tricky Cervix

I met with our reproductive endocrinologist again, and we discussed what may have contributed to the cycle not working this time. The working theory now was that my windy cervix (which was making the transfers difficult) was probably compromising the quality of the embryos. They needed to be placed in the tubing, transferred from the incubator, and injected into my uterus quickly. 30-40 minute transfers with embryos being exposed to the environment countless times was a huge problem.

My reproductive endocrinologist had the bright idea that we should try dilating my cervix in order to get a straighter path into the uterus. This would require a procedure done under general anesthesia in the operating room. I was willing to try it. It made sense to me that this was one of the only factors that was complicating the process now. We had good quality embryos. I didn’t have any fertility issues. What else could it be?Sperm injection

The date was set, and I was scheduled for surgery. It was now February. I arrived to the operating room with Dave at my side. He was allowed to be present during the procedure just because he was a resident. He wasn’t allowed to touch anything, but he could stand by my side. He knew many of the people in the room. It felt strange to have such bright lights shining on my naked “waist down”. The mask when to my face and the meds went into my IV. I was gone. The next thing that I remembered was waking up behind a recovery curtain.

This was the step-down recovery unit. It wasn’t quite as private because there were only hanging curtains separating the beds. I woke up to severe cramps. A catheter had been placed in my cervix and left there. The idea was to keep it in for 14 days to stretch things out and make the path less difficult to navigate. 14 days of bliss!

I could hear voices down the hall. An older man was complaining in very loud tones. The person responding sounded familiar. I identified her as one of my husband’s coresidents. My nurse appeared and asked how I was feeling. I was dying. The cramps felt like labor (not that I really had labor as a comparison…clearly). I needed more pain medication. The nurse said that she had given me all that she could and that she had never had anyone with this procedure before to know what else to do. I was too groggy to argue. I felt the weight of the pain meds, but they weren’t touching my pain. Narcotics are worthless for cramps. I needed anti-inflammatory meds.

Hospital Corridor With ChairsAfter a while I was transferred to a real room. Only after the fact did I find out that Dave never pulled my curtain fully across in the step-down unit. I was in view of everyone coming down the hallway, including a medical student that both of us knew. Why hadn’t he protected my privacy! He was supposed to be my shield and my protection. He had failed me. How could he have been so thoughtless in my state of extreme vulnerability? Such an innocent mistake, but husbands…pull the curtain!

My discomfort continued. The nurse called my physician to see if there was anything more that they could do. She encouraged me to empty my bladder because a full bladder could be making me cramp more. I think that it took me 10 minutes to walk to the bathroom and then another 10 just to empty my bladder. I was more than a little full, but the cramping was not much better. Another phone call to my physician with another recommendation for increased pain medications. The nurse was a little nervous to give me the full dose that she had recommended. I was still to groggy from anesthesia to really argue. I went home, crampy and groggy, but happy that this might be the key to our success.Woman With Stomach Ache

Day one after surgery, when I was much more alert, I was also much more aware of the uncomfortable sensation of plastic sticking into my vulva. Every time that I moved or sat down I could feel the catheter poking into me. My infertility specialist called to see how I was doing. “I would be much better if I didn’t have a plastic dagger killing my vagina,” I informed her. Thankfully she quickly suggested that we cut the length down so that I wouldn’t feel it. I readily agreed. Once again, my legs found their way into the stirrups and a light was shown where no light should shine. After the shortening of the catheter I was much more comfortable. Now I only had to get through 2 weeks before the catheter was removed, and then we could start the IVF process again.

Unfortunately, Valentines Day fell during those two weeks. So much for romance and intimacy! Both of those sort of drop to the bottom of your check list when you have a plastic tube shoved through your cervix and hanging into your vagina. One of the infertility doctors actually asked how my Valentines Day had been. Really??? Young couple  next retro car  in smoke

On the day that I went in to have the catheter removed, I was relieved but a little nervous at how painful it would be coming out. They had told me that I wouldn’t need any numbing or anesthesia; just a good old fashion tug was the way to get it out. With a sheepish look on my face, I asked the doctor if it was going to be very painful. His response made my day. “For some women this would be unbearable, but, Emma, for you this will be a piece of cake.” “Really?” I retorted not really in disbelief, but more as a way to confirm my strength. He proceeded to tell me that I was pretty darn tough. With everything that I had already been through, I really hadn’t complained much. Some women he informed me had a really hard time with even the least invasive portions. I’m not sure if it was my personality that drove me to hide my discomfort, or my pride, or my determination to stay strong. Either way, it felt good to have someone acknowledge that I was tough. I had been through a lot, and I was still pushing ahead. I prepared myself for the catheter removal, now resolved not to show any signs of pain. One quick tug and it was over. Not too bad after all. I mean, I wouldn’t want to repeat it if I didn’t have too, but in general…not too bad.Determination

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