Last I updated, I was waiting for my period to start so I could begin my injections for our first round of IVF. Well it’s been almost two weeks since I started my needles and I am very excited to say that tomorrow I am having my egg retrieval! As excited as I am, I am also ready for this part of treatment to be over. Thanks to my PCOS and the amount of follicles I have developed, my ovaries are literally the size of oranges. Normally with IVF they aim for around 15 follicles to develop. Well I have around 25 large ones and over 20 smaller ones so there definitely is not much room in there anymore. My ovaries are now touching and every step I take is uncomfortable so tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
Some people I have talked to since opening up about what we are going through don’t fully understand what is happening with my body during this part of our IVF treatment. They know that IVF is the ‘test tube baby’ method but they are not completely sure how we get to that stage. So here is a quick update of what the past couple weeks have looked like for me.
About two and a half weeks ago I had a baseline ultrasound to confirm there was no new cysts in my ovaries and that everything was looking good to start IVF on my next cycle. I also picked up all the medications that I would need to start off with. They come from the pharmacy in this cute little purple bag that I think makes it seem not as scary. At least not until you dump it all out on the bed and see it all. Believe it or not, the meds in the picture only make up about 1/3 of what I have taken thus far.
So I had my meds, all was good and now I just had to wait for my period to start to begin the cycle. Tuesday, June 13th was finally go time. I started taking my daily injections and then on Saturday would head up to Calgary for blood work and ultrasound to see how my follicles were growing.
While IVF is in essence taking my eggs, his sperm, putting them in test tube and then ‘BAM’ you make a baby, there is a lot more to it to get from A to B. Each woman is born with a certain amount of eggs and each month, one of your follicles grow and develops an egg, which once mature will ovulate and if met with sperm, will fertilize. In order to remove eggs for fertilization in IVF, we have to mass stimulate some of the follicles in my ovaries to get a good number of them to grow and mature good quality eggs.
To do this, Dr. P prescribed and had me take Puregon and Menopur injections. These are the same meds I had been on during my previous IUIs, just in larger doses. I was started on 175 iui of Puregon and 75 iui of Menopur. Puregon is the synthetic version of a sex hormone called FSH while Menopur contains human menopausal gonadotrophin which is a combination of FSH and LH. Both of these medications are used to increase the number of growing follicles and stimulate their development. Once the follicles hit a certain size, about 1.8 to 2.0 cm, the trigger needle can be given and then a day and a half later the egg retrieval will happen.
So the Saturday after beginning the needles I had to be in Calgary for my first ultrasound and blood test. Living about 3 hours away from the clinic, I headed up the night before. I didn’t bother making DH come with me since I knew there would be a lot of travelling for short appointments in my future and he wasn’t needed so why get him to take time off work. Plus side, I got the bed and all the pillows to myself! Who doesn’t love being surrounded by a ton of pillows?!
The clinic opens up at 7:30 each morning for blood tests and ultrasounds and it goes on a first come first serve basis. They unlock the lobby door at 6am and have a lock box filled with numbers available. I showed up at 5:58am to see what number I would get. Number 6! I wasn’t sure how busy these mornings would be so I figured better safe than sorry and planned to be there right for 6am. I headed back to my hotel for a shower and some breakfast and returned for the 7:30am office opening.
Once in the office, things go quickly. You start with a quick blood test to test your estrogen level, and then head over to the other side of the office for an internal ultrasound to see how many follicles you have growing. Afterwords you meet up with a nurse to go over your numbers, medication changes and anything else. I don’t think I have spent more than an hour and a half from start to finish there during one of these mornings.
After my first appointment it was clear my PCOS was going to ensure I developed A LOT of follicles. I had over 45 follicles growing, some measuring at about 0.7 cm. However, with that many follicles my estrogen was quiet low so they increased my dosage of Puregon to 275 iui and had me come back in two days.
I have had 4 more ultrasounds since then and the higher dose of meds definitely worked. My estrogen finally caught up, so much in fact that it’s now too high and this cycle of IVF has been changed to a freeze all cycle. I have far too many eggs and too much estrogen being created which in turn gives me a very good chance of developing OHSS. So for my safety, we will freeze any of the embryos we create and do a transfer on my next cycle.
Last night at midnight I took my first trigger needle and then today at noon took the second. It was so amazing to take what could be my last personal injection for quite a while! Tomorrow morning we will head into the clinic where by 11am I will be in getting my egg retrieval procedure! I can’t believe it is finally here!
Later this week I will post about our experience with the egg retrieval and fertilization but for now please send us good thoughts as we hope to have many mature, high quality eggs retrieved and fertilized, plus a speedy recovery for me! I can’t wait for my ovaries to be the size of almonds again.