Monday, June 29, 2009

The What & How: Recapping our IVF Calendar Review

The first big step into the land of IVF - the Calendar Review. Yes, I believe this must make it even more official, than the last official thing I posted. :-) Even though the full payment hasn't been made, or we haven't started pumping the heavy meds into my system, this is the foundation for the weeks to come.

We were the first appointment of the day. I should stop here to make a mental note that even though we left the house at 7:45 for our 8:45 appt, we arrive unnervingly early - 8:15 to be exact. Full steam ahead we walked through the doors and were soon greeted by our coordinator, Peggy. After greeting us with a smile, she asked if we wanted any coffee (umm... no thanks, we're trying to get pregnant :D) and showed us to an empty office. Things were a bit disheveled there that day; they recently experienced a water leak on the 3rd floor of the building they occupy, so lots of men were scattered about putting new drywall in and getting the place back in order. We didn't mind, though she apologized repeatedly. Later she was sure to mention that none of the fancy equipment was harmed (whew!)

Going over the "playbook"
Once in the room, Peggy started by breaking down "the playbook", otherwise known as our IVF calendar. This thing comes complete with a rainbow of what to inject, when and how much, all squeezed tightly into a month's time frame - and this doesn't even cover the entire process. Apparently, we'll receive additional, super critical information during the first and second weeks in August via phone and e-mail. Lord help us if there is a power outage or major disaster. I'll be pumped full of meds with no one to release my precious eggs to.

That aside, the first set of instructions seems pretty straightforward. Peggy took the "you might not know much about IVF" approach (which I fully appreciated) and took the time to explain every step in great detail. It was nice to have us all on the same page going into each phase of the cycle. Along the way, I stopped to ask if they would allow us to replace the intramuscular injection of Progesterone in Oil (PIO) for vaginal suppositories. While the latter doesn't sound fun, it has to be better than super deep shots in the butt, right? No, they don't like to do that. If come two weeks after a BFP, they are just too much to handle, we can consider switching it up then, but the first approach will be to stick it out and take one for the team. At the end of the day, if that truely is what's best, then I suppose I'm up for it. Luckily those don't start until the day of the transfer and they are every three days only (+ suppositories), so it could be worse. She did mention the trick of using ice to numb if we needed to. I even asked about the numbing cream. She said that yes, we could use it.

At this point, she must have detected a little "internet forum" speak or something, because it was then that she gave me a small lecture on how it has been their experience that most patients only seem to get stressed out by them. In some ways, I needed to hear it, I really did. She had the unique ability to be "mother-like", when my Mom wasn't able to be present. The other part of me wanted to let her know that I really only make a practice of going to SIRM's forum or keeping my nose in good, reputable books like the one written by Dr. Sher, but I just couldn't get the words out in time. We were onto the next line of business. Which was...

Learning how to self/spouse-inject
This part made my stomach turn just a wee bit. As Peggy rightly pointed out most of these particular type of needles are made for those who don't work in the medical field. They are super thin and not very long; basically the same type that are used for insulin shots. At least that's the speech I was given... I think I bought it! :P I'm sure that after the first one or two, it won't be too big of a deal, but it's getting over that hump that's the hard part. We were able to use a test dummy - a wonderful invention of fake flesh on a portable pod that I could hold up to my stomach and pinch the "fat" of, similar to what we'll do for the real injections. I went first, pretending to look like a natural. She called Jay the "back-up". Right. How about he'll be the go-to guy on this one - at least at first. I'm not sure how I'll feel about shoving that thing into my body willingly. We both had a good laugh because when he did it, his needle almost stabbed my thumb that was holding up the dummy. She was like "you might want to stand to the side when you actually do it, and hold it a bit closer." When she told him to hold it like he was holding a dart, I think he thought that meant to "throw it" like he was throwing a dart too. Yeah, not so much. This, folks, should be quite interesting!

Ending our injectable conversations, she mentioned which ones will come pre-primed and which ones we'll have to mix and prime on our own. I just hope we don't get confused and inject the wrong dosage. Let's not think about that for now... The only other injection she didn't go over much was the PIO shot. She said they'll show us how to do an intramuscular (IM) when I have my first one on transfer day there in the office.

Things you never think you'd decide
After all the talk, it was time for some paperwork. Of course you can't do something this major without having to sign your life away. Some of the questions we were totally prepared for... How many eggs do you want to have fertilized. All. What do you want to do with any excess embryos. Freeze. What we didn't expect was - What do you want us to do with those extra embryos in the event both parties dies. Ok, so even though it was creepy, the answer was obvious. We'd want to do an anonymous donation. The one that was super weird was, what do you want to do if just one of you dies. That was so uncomfortable to think about. Peggy said that she has had to walk out of the room before because couples have started arguing back and forth trying to come to a resolution. Luckily we were able to talk it out and decide that really in any event like that that we'd want the other to have the power to decide to keep or to donate anonymously. I mean it makes sense that they would ask these questions, but talk about super creep factor. That is the farthest thing from your mind when you're at this point and it, for a split second, it was sorta like a little dark cloud surrounded by a sea of wonderful possibles. Blah. Out with the bad vibes, in with the good. Out with the bad, in with the good.

Touring babyland
After finishing awkward paperwork, we had the opportunity to take a little tour of the clinic. With it being a slow, out-of-the-ordinary Friday, we had a fun surprise of being able to meet the soon-to-be "man of the hour". No, sorry sweetie, I don't mean you. I mean one of the embryologists. He probably thought I was one odd duck when I said "thanks for everything in advance" or something Corny like that. Hey, he's talented and this was, quite possibly, our one chance to suck up. You would have done it too :-P AND, what's even cooler, is that we were able to peek our heads in the embryology lab. I'm not sure if he was referring to just himself or the lab too, but he said he'd been on the Discovery channel twice. Pretty high-tech stuff!

What I loved about the clinic is that it doesn't feel very "hospitally" at all. Warm, soothing colors on the wall. The space, overall, wasn't very big, which made it feel more approachable. The procedure room where they'll do the retrieval and transfer was right next to the lab and they have this little window they slide the important stuff through when it's go-time! The recovery areas were small, but seemed to contain all of the important stuff. Bed for relaxing, guest chair and a small TV for taking your mind off everything.

Everyone has a role
Our coordinator was really good about explaining what she does in all of this. She specifically said "Don't worry. That's what I'm here for. I'll do the worrying for you." Anytime I have a question or concern I am to call her directly during business hours, or the exchange line during after hours. She assured me someone will be there to answer any question. Then, when it comes time for retrieval, she'll be present in the room assisting Dr. Ahlering in immediately labeling the egg filled pipettes to the lab where they will inspect and count each egg that is retrieved. I believe she said that before we leave we should know about how many were retrieved and later that day she will call us to give us a fertilization report. Then, that next week will be filled with getting updates from her on how they are progressing -which ones make it through ICSI and mature into little embryos. For a 3-5 days we'll watch their progress to see which ones divide and continue to blossom, ideally hoping for 8-10 celled embryos by day 5 for a two blastocyst transfer. She's thinking we'll stim quickly and be ready for retrieval on Friday 8/7 and things we will make it to a day 5 transfer, which would put that on 8/11. Each of these we won't really know until the day or morning of. Those first two weeks will be filled with so, so much. I'm glad to know Peggy will be there every step of the way.

My OhMyGoshThisCouldREALLYHappenMoment
Oh, and how could I forget to mention. The "moment" I had while we went through our calendar. Following all of the meds, all of the procedures, there will be the wait. At this point in the conversation, Peggy started using words like "when we find out you are pregnant," I started to loose it. I don't generally allow my brain to get too far down that path. It just isn't safe. It was all too much when she started saying around the time when we'll be able to hear a heart beat(s) and find out if there is more than one sac - more than one baby!! At this point, I was looking around like a scared puppy dog for a box of Kleenex. Peggy could see it in my eyes and felt really bad that there wasn't anything to be found in the office we had borrowed (hers was being worked on). Moments like that are few and far between, but it was crazy to think that in less than two months from now we would not only find out if we were pregnant, but how many we were having. Totally crazy. I am so ready for this!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bring on the shots!

Ok, so on and on I've went and I've not gotten into the protocol or dates one bit. I'm going to pause and go get some sleep, but I'll be sure to write soon, complete with a pic of our very bright and color laden calendar. The first time I saw one of these I did second take. Lots of instructions, lots of meds and the biggest concern that came out of our appt. More of the really important stuff to come - promise!

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Clare June 30, 2009 at 2:52 AM  

It is very exciting. I am wishing you all the best for your upcoming IVF cycle. Hope you're counting your beans soon!

Jess June 30, 2009 at 10:53 AM  

It sounds so exciting! I can't believe so much goes with IVF! I love your plan but hope nothing happens to either one of you!

I'll be here praying and cheering you on...I can't wait for you to start this beautiful journey to mommy hood!

Jennifer June 30, 2009 at 11:57 AM  

Yea!! Welcome to the Calendar Club!Good luck!!

Maureen July 2, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

Yeah!! I'm so excited it's all starting to come together! I'm glad to hear everything is going well...and I wish you all the best!! And praying that the shots aren't too much to handle :)

Jay Sherwood July 2, 2009 at 11:07 AM  

I wanted to come on here and poke fun at you for giving me a hard time in this entry, but I see I'm vastly outnumbered.

Anonymous July 22, 2009 at 6:29 AM  

There's an Honest Scrap award for you here!

Love, Fran

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