My Wife Lied to Me

I’ll just start this entry by saying that I have a very LOW tolerance for pain.

Prior to starting stimulation medications, a baseline scan of your ovaries is necessary.  Unfortunately, at mine, they found a decent-sized cyst on my left ovary.  This is the same kind of cyst that caused Mama D to have to fly to Denver to get drained back in February (thus, missing her sister’s surprise birthday party!), so I knew that it meant that I’d have to go in for a “quick procedure,” too.  I found a doctor here in Kansas City that wouldn’t charge an arm and a leg to do it, and scheduled the procedure for the next morning.

I left home under the assurances from Mama D that the pain would be along the lines of an ear or naval piercing, followed by cramps.  Despite being completely NOT EAGER about having this done (seriously, who wants a needle through your vagina and ovary????  Hands?  Anyone?), I knew it was necessary for us to do this retrieval.  If I didn’t, all of this expensive medication that I had negotiated for would get sucked up by the cyst and not by my little follicles/eggs.

Mama D had to go to work that day and so I went down to Kansas City solo — again, with the assurance that it would be a relatively easy procedure.

It started just like any other OBGYN appointment.  The doctor came in and explained what would happen — a vaginal ultrasound to confirm the presence of the cyst followed by a needle that would then be inserted through the vagina and into my ovary to drain the cyst.  A big part missing from her explanation was any mention of anesthesia.

“Oh,” she said, “that’s because we don’t use anesthesia here because it takes too long.”

SAY WHAT.

At this point, I was facing either bad pain or a canceled cycle.  I decided that the canceled cycle would be worse than the pain in my lady parts.

The draining itself went as expected — the pain was just like Mama D had described.  The only difference was that the pain didn’t go away, the cramping in my abdomen was like a charley horse in your behind (seriously, the pain in my rear made me think that this doctor had stabbed me through and through), and, as I laid there waiting for the pain to subside, I was bleeding…….so much so that the doctor and nurse had to sit there with multiple rags trying to sop it up.  I have no idea how much it was in the end, but I imagine that it looked like a crime scene down there.  The doctor assured me that this happened sometimes and that it was nothing to worry about.

After about 15 minutes, the nurse asked me if I wanted to go to the restroom to clean up.  Instead of having me get completely dressed, just to dart across the hallway into the bathroom, she peeked out into the hall and let me run across really quick —– in my t-shirt, flip flops, and a little paper dressing covering my lady parts.

As I sat there in the bathroom, the cramps got the better of me.  I started shaking and getting light headed.  All I could think was:

OMG – I cannot pass out in the bathroom with no pants on!

I mustered up the strength to get to the door, open it, and start to walk across the hall……and that was about as far as I got.  The next thing I knew,  I was laying on the cold floor of a medical room, half naked, with a nurse holding my legs up over her shoulder, another shoving a small desk fan in my face, and the doctor holding a paper bag over my mouth and telling me to breath.

This definitely wasn’t how I imagined this experience going.  The only things I could mutter enough strength to say were “Someone call my wife to make her feel bad about not coming to this appointment with me” and a half-apology to the nurse holding my feet because half of my ass was hanging out of this makeshift toga.  Eventually, I was well enough to leave the office — thanks to some friends that came to pick me up.  Mama D was still in school and, although I gave her a guilt trip about it later, I knew that missing more classes would hurt her in the end.

After the cyst draining, my retrieval was pretty much by the book — with the exception of some odd abdominal bruising, continued cramping in my behind (seriously, I have no clue where that came from), and apparently my body decided to let my intestines descend throughout the week of stimulation medications.

IMG_4971

In the end, our doctor was able to retrieve 7 eggs from me.  From those 7 eggs, 4 of them grew normally to Day 5 and were frozen and sent off for chromosome testing.  Hoping that our little kiddos are somewhere in that 4!!!

Passenger vs. Driver: Medications

Those of you that have been around me for more than a minute know that I will ask for a discount at a 7/11.  No, seriously, I will.  Mama D’s cheeks normally turn red, but lately, that extra money has been absolutely necessary.

10% off at Smoothie King?  I’ll take it!  That $0.80 can go toward growing an eyelash on this baby!

You would think that since we have done three rounds of egg retrievals over the past year, that ordering medications for my cycle would be a piece of cake.  However, it was far from it.  Did you know that medication prices on fertility medications (and likely all other medications….) change prices ALL THE TIME!?????!?!!  Not only that, but the prices can vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy.

Once I had a list of the medications that I was going to have to take during the month of May, I asked Mama D about how I should go about ordering them.  She chuckled and said that, as the driver, she’d been calling around (usually during her lunch breaks at school) in order to get us the best deals.  As the passenger, I had no clue!  So, with a list of medications, possible pharmacies, and a pen in tow, I sat down to start making phone calls.

I knew how much money we had spent in the past for medications, but calling and hearing the prices all over again made me sick.  I tried everything I could to get any sort of discount.

“Do you have military discounts?”
“Do you have student discounts?”
“Do you have any discounts?”
“Do you price match?”
“Do you have a punch card, because this is our fourth round of IVF!!!!!????”

After two solid days of phone calls with a half a dozen pharmacies, we ended up with a 25% discount on some of our medications, with a total price somewhere in the $4,000 range.  I had to pay slightly more than Mama D — partially because prices mysteriously went up in May, and partially because our insurance charges me a co-pay (she gets some prescriptions free since she is active-duty).

Needless to say I have a completely different respect and appreciation for all of the times my wife did this.  I was honestly clueless as to the amount of time and research that she put into all of this every month.

Now that I had my fertility medications ordered, it was time to sit back, pop some birth control pills (I know, seems counterintuitive, but it lowers your overall hormone levels so that my doctor would have a clean slate to work with in a few weeks), and start looking forward to something that I hadn’t seen since the age of 14 — freaking acne.

Let me just state that I have never taken birth control and only know it as some magic pill that prevents pregnancy.  Mama D came home from school one day and found it quite amusing when I started asking her:

“What pill do I take?”
“Why is the first pill labeled Monday?”
“Why are there different colored pills?”
“What are these ‘day of the week’ stickers for???”

Mama D looked at me and asked if I was kidding, and then showed me how the little book of tablets worked.  I wish I could say that this was the end of my birth control experience, but NO, it wasn’t.

I’m convinced that my body was revolting against all of this fertility medication, thereby causing me to have almost every side effect listed on the box.  Birth control may stop you from getting pregnant with a child, but it sure doesn’t stop you from getting pimples so large that you feel like you should name them.

As I was popping my birth control pills, Mama D was popping hers, too.  Our doctor was prepping her body for what would hopefully be a transfer a few weeks after my retrieval.  I remember looking at her clear complexion in the bathroom mirror one morning while contemplating if I should name the third eyeball that had popped up overnight on my forehead.  When I asked her if she ever had these issues while taking it, she said “No, I think my body is used to it after taking it throughout my 20’s.”

Well, this body was not used to it, nor was it used to being on the highest dose available  (Did you know that there are different doses??????  I didn’t!)  All I could think was that this was a terrible start of the medication train that I was about to embark on.

I was looking forward to being off of the birth control so that I could regain control of my face, but, with it, came the fear of shots.

I   HATE   SHOTS!

No, really, I hate shots.  I have always hated shots and that will never change.  Heck, it took me 3 weeks before I was actually able to give Mama D her shots for the initial IUI cycles that we did 2 years ago.  Even then, I would sometimes chicken out.  When we received all of the medications that I had priced out, and I saw the needles packed in that shipping box, all I could think was “Oh man………here comes the dreaded Day One…..”

Processing My Thoughts

It has been a hard month for me to process all the different thoughts that have been flowing through my head.  About a week after my doctor’s office froze our one sole embryo, we had a follow up call with him to discuss the way ahead.

After my last retrieval, my doctor was able to do a little bit of analysis on my eggs and he has come up with one conclusion: my eggs are genetically abnormal.  There were a few different scenarios that had been occurring with my eggs:

Egg Scenario #1:  “I don’t need no stinkin’ sperm!”
Some eggs decided to just start dividing on their own, absent any sperm.  I guess they decided they could reproduce asexually and create clones of me.  Unfortunately, this isn’t normal and so they died off after a few days.

Egg Scenario #2:  “Sperm!???!??!  EEEEEEK!  ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!”
Some eggs had one look at the sperm that had entered their territory and decided that life just wasn’t worth it.  They either died upon first sight of their new mate, or else within a few hours.

Egg Scenario #3: “Yawn…….this splitting and growing thing is just plain ol’ boring.  I think I’m going to take a looooooooong nap.”
This scenario actually sounds pretty typical of me.  I’ve been known to have the ability to nap on demand — anywhere, anytime.  My fertilized eggs carried on that trait — except their naps were so deep that they just ended up dying.

Egg Scenario #4: “Fertilization!  Woohoo!  Lets grow, grow, grow!”
This is the best case scenario.  Grow and divide, grow and divide, repeat for nine months!  So far, we’ve had two embryos follow this scenario.  The first one, however, when tested for chromosomal abnormalities, came back as abnormal — and not just abnormal in one way (i.e. Downs Syndrome), but more than three abnormalities.  The word the doctor used was “chaotic.”  Our second embryo that grew has yet to be tested.  I’m really afraid that it, too, will come back as chaotic.  We will find the answer to that question soon.

So where do we go from here?  Our doctor gave us a few possibilities.  The first was to use Mama M’s eggs.  A “her bun, my oven” scenario.  The second is to use a donor egg with our current sperm donor.  The third was to accept and use a donor embryo.  These are extra embryos that were created by other couples for use in creating their own families — but they ended up being surplus.

After a little bit of thought, we’ve decided to try using Mama M’s eggs.  The process to retrieve her eggs is identical to the process that was used to retrieve mine.  The only difference is that I, at the same time, am taking medication to prepare my body for a (hopeful) transfer of 1 or 2 normal embryos that will be made up of Mama M’s egg and our donor sperm.

This scenario has definitely put us in a financial bind due to yet another retrieval and surgery, has resulted in us having to find a new sperm donor (our original donor resembled Mama M…….this new one is a bit more white), and, for me, created a big mental hurdle for me to overcome.  This entry is long enough, though, so that’ll have to wait for another day.

Your continued thoughts and prayers are appreciated as we endure this cycle.  We’ve both started medication and two hormonal women living under the same roof is definitely making for a test of our patience and love.