I have a pretty complicated GI history. I was sick for a number of years with ulcerative colitis and had major, major surgery for it quite a few years ago. As a result, I was left with significant scar tissue in my abdomen. We tried to get pregnant for awhile with no success. When I went in to start evaulations for fertility, I found out that while my fallopian tubes were open and not blocked, my ovaries were in very weird places on both sides and not near the opening of the tubes like they’re supposed to be, likely due to scar tissue. This made getting pregnant pretty impossible. And yes, I do regret the thousands of dollars I spent for years and years on birth control methods, which I obviously didn’t need.
There was no other reason why I couldn’t get pregnant and I was otherwise healthy and so was DH, so we tried IUI, which is basically an inexpensive (comparatively speaking) more targeted way of trying to get pregnant, with timing and control of when insemination happens. We did 4 cycles of IUI with no success and finally our doctors said that IVF was pretty much our only option. We discussed it and though we could ill afford it, we got a fixed loan for 3% and used that money to pay for one cycle of IVF.
IVF actually takes a couple of months. You have to take birth control for the first cycle to “shut down” your hormones and start from a clean slate so that the medications the doctors have you administering are done with precise timing and control of the cycle. In the last week of the BC cycle, you have to start giving yourself a small, sub-cutaneous injection of another drug to assist with the “shutting down,” it’s a menopause related drug called Lupron. We both practiced giving shots to a big eraser in the doctor’s office, but it’s really scary when you have to do it yourself. Still, you quickly realize the sub-cue shots are done with a very short and very tiny needle and it’s no big deal. Because of all the scar tissue in my abdomen, instead of giving the shots there, the nurses suggested doing the shots in my upper thigh.
However, a few minutes after the injection, I started to feel like I was having trouble breathing and like I was getting hot. I have like a dozen drug allergies so I had DH go get my epi pens out just in case things got worse. I didn’t feel right, but it didn’t seem to be rapidly getting worse, I just had trouble breathing and felt kind of weird. After about 30 minutes it felt a little better, so I knew it would eventually go away and that we wouldn’t need to go to the hospital. I called the nurse the next day and she said I was allergic and it could get worse, and that we may have to completely stop the whole process, wait another month, order a different drug that didn’t work as well and start over. She said I might just try taking a Benadryl beforehand, at least 10 minutes before, and see how it goes but have the epi pens ready and be ready to go to the hospital if it’s worse, but if it happened again or got worse, we’d have to stop. I took the Benadryl for the next night’s dose and it was FINE. I felt a little weird but nothing major. So while I kept up this first drug, I had to take Benadryl as well. And I was still taking the BC pills.
Finally done with the pills, then you have to start administering a second drug. This drug is a follicle stimulator; it starts the egg follicles growing, but because you are still taking the repressor drug, it controls and evens out the growth so it happens slowly and gradually and evenly across many follicles. This drug had a more complicated dosage; you had to do a different dosage each week and had to go in for ultrasounds every 2 or 3 days to find out what dosage you needed to do. The medication was in a pen with a dial on it such that you dial up the amount you need, and then push in this plunger really hard to get the meds out. It also had to be kept refrigerated or else it might not work, so when it went in, it was pretty cold as we kept forgetting to take it out in advance to get it up to room temperature. It burned going in and left a red mark, but wasn’t that bad. DH and I took turns administering this one, as he was going to have to do some more shots coming up and I wouldn’t be able to do those.
I went in for monitoring several times a week. We discontinued the supressor drug and I continued doing the stim drug until they said the follicles were getting close to mature. They said I wasn’t making very many and they were very hard to find, partly due to the scar tissue and partly due to my age. During one appointment, in the middle of an ultrasound, the doctor asked me if I’d ever considered using an egg donor and I started crying. We kept doing the stim drugs and hoping for the best. Finally the date approached where they were going to retrieve the follicles. The night before, we had to do a big, intra-muscular injection into my upper buttock (DH had to do this one) to cause the follicles to burst so the eggs would be available to grab. We went in early the next morning. DH gave his sample, which was “washed” so that all the best and most active swimmies were available, and then I went in for my egg retrieval, which is an outpatient surgery. Because of my scar tissue, both doctors at the fertility clinic were going to work on my retrieval. There was a possibility they wouldn’t be able to get the eggs by going through the uterus as is typically done, and then they would have to try to get them going through the top of the abdomen, which is much tougher and more risky.
When I woke up, the doctors told me they were able to get the follicles going through the uterus, but it involved the other doctor standing on a step stool over the table and pushing down on my abdomen with all his weight and waiting there, holding down, while the other doctor retrieved the eggs on one side. Then they switched and the other doctor did the other side, as it was too hard for one person to keep pressing down the whole time. !!! They said they got 6 follicles, which isn’t fantastic, as there would be no extras to freeze and use later for another cycle, but was better than nothing. We went home and waited to see if any of them got fertilized. It was a long weekend.
They called to say that 4 of the 6 were successfully fertilized, and we scheduled the time for me to come back in for the transfer. By the transfer date, only 3 had survived and we had to make a decision as to whether we wanted to put back 1, 2 or 3. They would not keep any that we didn’t put back, and however many you put back of course is the risk of how many babies you could have. DH and I had talked about it and decided that if we had to, we could deal with twins, but we really, really didn’t want triplets. However, I was completely torn. This was our only shot. What if we only put back 2 and it didn’t work? I would wonder forever and ever and ever if that 3rd one could have been our baby. I just couldn’t live with that. After a lotof soul searching, we decided to put back all 3.
Then we had to wait 2 long weeks to find out if any of them implanted. They cautioned us to NOT test prior to the date of my return for a test in the office, or else I could get a false result. The night of the transfer we had to start doing intramuscular injections of progesterone into the buttock, every night. DH had to adminster ALL of these injections, as you can’t reach back there correctly. It’s a big needle and was fairly painful and not much fun. And you had to try to warm up the prog. first or else you’d get a lump back there. After the injection, he had to massage back there with a hot washcloth to prevent a lump forming. Not fun. But even more not fun was that after about a week, I noticed I was starting to get a red rash on my stomach. I went in to the fertility clinic 9 days after the transfer and they said I was allergic to the progesterone but I could not get off of it or if there WAS an embryo in there, it might not stick. So I had to switch to a suppository, twice a day, and it was MESSY (and yes, more $). While I was in the office they did a urine PG test and it was negative. I was devastated but they said it’s too early, just keep waiting until after day 14 and come back then.
I spent the next several days fighting disappointment but went ahead and purchased 3 home tests to take on the appointed day; since my day 14 fell on a weekend, I’d have to wait for a monday morning to go in for the official urine test.
Finally at 2am the night of day 13 I couldn’t wait any longer. DH was sleeping and I took the test in the bathroom. I sat and stared at my watch and refused to look at the stick until the required time limit had passed (the instructions say again and again DO NOT LOOK AT THE TEST until the window has passed because otherwise you might not get the correct result). Given the urine test in the office, I figured I will just deal with the disappointment on my own here in the middle of the night, DH has been through enough ups and downs with me over the past 2 months.
But…there was a very faint line there, next to the test line. Faint, yes, but there would NOT be a line there at all if it was not positive. I blinked in disbelief and finally said out loud, “You’ve gotta be kidding me.” I didn’t know what to do! I was so reluctant to believe the test and was incredulous. Of the dozens of tests I’d done over the past few months, I had never, ever seen that beautiful little line and I just couldn’t believe it. I went and woke DH up and said, I need you to come look at something. He got up and I brought him in and pointed at the test. He squinted, still half asleep and mumbled, “I don’t get it.” “THE LINE,” I said. “THE SECOND LINE. THAT WOULDN’T BE THERE UNLESS IT WAS POSITIVE.”
He didn’t buy it AT ALL. “Well, I’m not sure,” he said. “BUT THE LINE IS THERE,” I said. “Ok,” he said, and tried to be diplomatic, saying, “Let’s just wait until Monday and see what the test at the doctor says.” “Ok, go back to bed,” I told him. Then I sat and stared at the stick, took a picture of it, and lay awake the rest of the night wondering if it could really be true.
Sunday morning I took another test. The line was there again. DH still didn’t believe it. Monday morning before I left for the doctor I took the 3rd test and the line was there again. By this time, I was convinced it was positive, but DH was not. The urine test in the office confirmed it and we just had to cross our fingers and wait 2 more weeks for another ultrasound to see if we were still pregnant and see how many embryos were in there.
2 weeks later we heard the heart beat of our little boy, who was, thankfully, in there by himself, and I was on my way to the OB.
I’m not going to write a post about being PG, because honestly I was lucky enough to have a really great, uneventful pregnancy.