10; SHOTS SHOT SHOTS SHOTS SHOT-SHOTS (IN THE BELLAAY)

I warned you about the songs.

I’m gonna start this off by being very defensive in that I will say I have not had a hormone-fueled outburst ONCE throughout the last 11 days of hormone shots, except this morning on the way to the doctor. I am proud of this.

Granted, Josh and I have been spending limited time together in the evenings after work, meeting up only for shots. I’ve started calling 8 p.m. happy hour, in my head.

*Insert buttery nipple joke*
Red spots and bruises are the new black.

I say “only” re: us spending time together in meeting up for hormone injections, but it’s an exaggeration. We finished season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel whichif you haven’t seen it, please fix that immediately. It alone is worth an Amazon Prime subscription. He let me sing karaoke on his new sound system last night. We tried to go roller skating a couple weekends ago (IDK man) but the rink was too busy. We’ve made some new recipes together.

It’s been fine, especially considering we haven’t had one drink since Jan. 1. I also gave up sweets this month, but I’m not gonna lie, I broke VERY mildly two times and one of those times was for beignets THAT I MADE. No regrets.

Proof of the initial fine-ness. This was two days ago. Poor bastard.

This morning, it was not fine. I was nervous for our appointment, hoping the nurses would find more follicles that looked like they would yield eggs but worried they would tell me that, instead, my ovaries look like a post-apocalyptic Tatooine. At my last appointment, on Monday, they found seven follicles that looked like they would definitely mature, along with 10 “little” ones they weren’t sure would, so I was nervous going in, to begin with.

I am a fan of silly old wives’ tales, so I told Josh as we drove over, “Hey FYI, according to the Mayan and Chinese gender-predictor calendars, our kid is going to be a boy since he’ll be conceived in February.”

Poor Josh proceeds to be like (apparently in a joking way, which I did not pick up on), “Aren’t those just for natural pregnancies? Doesn’t it not count for this?”

“Not count”? That, friends, is a phrase that has gone through my head so many damn times throughout this process I could write an entire book. So needless to say, I did not react well. And it was over something so minuscule, like shit I don’t even believe, but all I heard was, “This kind of pregnancy doesn’t really count.”

What he actually meant was that the people who made up the old wives’ tales (so, old wives, clearly) probably weren’t doing fertility treatments so I shouldn’t go by that, but I AM NOT GOING BY THEM ANYWAY, IT’S NOT REAL. Sigh. Like I said. It’s my first strike. And he handled it OK eventually, once I explained why it hurt and all of that. It was tense during the appointment because our clinic is literally a five-minute drive away and that wasn’t enough time to fix it, but afterward we figured it out.

Tonight is likely my last shot and thank God, because I am not going to miss the emotions, even though they haven’t been THAT crazy. I’ve mostly just felt really tired, which has led me to not keep up with my running, so that’s going to suck getting back into. I haven’t gained weight — in fact, I’ve lost some, which is great. I expected to gain, especially since I’ve felt a lot of heaviness and discomfort in my lower abdomen and I’ve heard hormone shots make you gain weight. But maybe it just depends on the person and life has thrown me a bone. Thanks, life.

Look ma, no pants.
“Smile, our child will see this.”

Speaking of bones I’m getting thrown, our genetic blood test results came back today and while Josh has a completely clean bill of ancestral health, I am the lucky winner of a Cystic Fibrosis carrier gene! And here I was sad that I’ve never won a big contest. But no, this threw me for a loop and was absolutely not something I was expecting so thank GOD we did the test. Apparently if both parents are carriers, their kid has a 25% chance of actually having CF, which is scary.

I also am a carrier for another couple minor things (thanks fam) but like I said, Josh has brown-noser blood, so we’re good. If we were both carriers of something serious, like CF, we would’ve had to screen our embryos with something called a PGD test — pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or, as I like to call it considering the thousands of dollars it costs, pocket-gutting diagnosis.

In happier news…

These were my results today. SIXTEEN FOLLICLES, READ ‘EM AND WEEP. IDK who would be weeping, except myself, from joy, but it felt cool to write that.

I am overjoyed at these numbers. I don’t think my doctor was expecting me to produce this many, and it gives me so much hope that we will have enough to work with come retrieval time. I know it’s more important that the eggs are good quality vs. the amount they get, but I don’t care. I feel so good, like my body responded well and like this process so far, knock on wood, has been going as smoothly as it possibly could have.

I truly credit so much of this part to the DHEA I’ve been taking, which…could or could not be true, but I am going to choose to believe it is true and tbh I might even suggest to my doctor that he recommend it to other younger patients with diminished ovarian reserve. I did not expect to get more than 10 follicles, let alone over 15. And while it’s possible not all of them will have eggs, I think from what I’ve read that they are expected to — like this study, which is one of approximately 34237 ones I have read before starting this process.

I’M FERTILE, GUYS. I’M REALLY PRETTY FERTILE!

The plan right now is to go back in tomorrow morning for one more looksie and probably take the ovulation trigger shot tomorrow night for a Saturday retrieval. Which I’m super happy about because I really don’t want to take a whole day off of work if I don’t have to, since I’m a contractor and don’t have PTO.

In the meantime, I will continue my binge-watch of the creepy af show You on Netflix (I think John Stamos is about to show up, bless) and play The Sims 4, which I treated myself to because it was on sale and apparently it is 2014 in my house.

Before it showed up in the mail, though, I made Josh and me in The Sims 2 and Sim!Josh was way more excited than Sim!Jen about the baby we had. (We had two total, both girls.)

Josh, IRL: “WHO THE FUCK IS THAT MAKING OUR BED?”
He legit owns these exact pajamas.

I will probably update one more time Friday night with some nonsensical rambling borne out of nervousness for the weekend retrieval, but in the meantime…toodles.

9; Follicle-ing the Leader

Sometimes I make up asinine songs about mundane things in life, especially if I’m nervous about said mundane thing and especially if everyone else around me seems to be perfectly sane about it.

Example: I hate flying. Well, not flying itself, but turbulence, even the slightest bit. No matter how many statistics I read about how safe flying is, all the “You’re 239123819x more likely to die in a car accident!” comments do is make more more scared to get in a car. Yes, I know turbulence is like a pothole in the air, but if growing up in Mid-City New Orleans didn’t ensure me mental-anguish immunity based on that analogy, some dude’s blog is not going to.

Anyway, this is that song, because I know you’re dying to hear/read it. I wrote half of it on a plane in May 2017 and half this past November, after dropping an ex-friend off at the airport after a visit that ended up turning into a disaster proving I should’ve followed my gut and we should’ve stayed not friends. (Silver lining: It got me the rest of the way in the lyrics to this masterpiece.)

Sung to the tune of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid:

The stratus is always whiter
When you’re high up in the sky
You dream about going farther
To do that, you got to fly
Just look at this space around you
Right here on this Boeing plane
How you going to store your luggage
A way that will keep you sane?

Under the seat, under the seat
Darling it’s better, when you’re a jetter
Keeps your bags neat
They won’t tumble in overhead bin
When you’re knocking back your third gin*
It’s very small now, don’t try to crawl down
Under the seat

*I was, in fact, on my third gin when I wrote this line (not during the aforementioned drive, wow, I’m not an animal)

“None of this has a damn thing to do with IVF, Jen,” I KNOW, I’m getting there. Look, all this to say I started making up another song about ovarian follicles to the tune of “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants and I just wanted to tell you it’s a work in progress. But now that I write this, I realize I just wasted so much time and maybe I’m just that damn proud of my booze-infused flying song.

OK. Follicles. So I had my second post-stim scan and blood work today and everything is looking extremely…decent. The nurse told me my blood work looks good, and I have about 10ish measurable follicles — 5 on each side — and maybe a couple more little ones hiding up in there. I’m staying on the 300 IU of Gonal-F (the stim shot) every night, and I have my next scan Monday morning at 8:30. I also need to start taking Cetrotide every morning starting tomorrow, which is the shot that will keep me from prematurely ovulating. And yes, I want to write “ejaculating” every damn time but I haven’t yet, ha HA.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to get anxious. I think a part of me hoped there’d be a whole host of follicles that would forget I’m such a wound-up B and once I pumped my body with more drugs than the entirety of Daytona Beach has ever seen they’d be like

No such luck. But my doctor isn’t upping my meds, so I’m taking that as a good sign.

There is still the potential for a miracle to happen, so until Monday, I will hope for a miracle — and in the meantime, work on being thankful that I have what I do have.

8; Taking the (Needle) Plunge

Well, long time no talk. It’s been about three months since I’ve updated this blog after starting it and subsequently going balls to the wall with my brain dump, and I truly wasn’t even finished. I had lofty goals about rehashing the events up to this point — breaking out each failed IUI individually, for example — but I realized I really don’t want to. I don’t have the energy, and looking back to a stage I feel moved on from (mostly) sounds 100% unappealing. That’s probably why I stopped for so long.

What I do want is a place to just write out what I’m feeling along this path, when I’m feeling it — and from late October to now, I was feeling like I just didn’t want to think about it. Which was good. Josh and I were able to, despite a few bumps, enjoy the holidays, which came with five extra pounds for me on top of the 10 I gained post-miscarriage, but I’m working on it, OK?

I was also kinda sorta hoping that the miracle pregnancy people told me happened to their great-aunt’s neighbor’s niece right before she started IVF would happen to us, but here I am, which means it did not.

We *did* get to drink fancy warm winter drinks at Tavern on the Green in N.Y.C. at Christmastime, though. #win
Also grabbed a drink at Eataly’s swanky rooftop bar.
And ice skated at Rockefeller Center because it was a bucket-list item for me and not everything we do is alcohol related (unrelated side note, we gave up alcohol this month).

But NOW, this infertility shiz is priority No. 1 yet again because tonight, my friends, is my first dose of stims (stimulation drugs) for our IVF retrieval cycle. Hooray!

So to start — remember when I told you my AMH was .31 and all the details about what that means? Of course you do. Well, I got my blood drawn in December and after three months of taking DHEA, it went up to .79. Which at first consideration is still low, but when I really think about it, it more than doubled. Which is fantastic. I’m hoping by retrieval time at the end of this month/beginning of February, my egg count and quality will have made the four to five months of taking the DHEA 3x a day worth it, even if only in my mind. Good enough for me.

Speaking of shit I have to put into my body, here’s my pharmaceutical setlist for the foreseeable future:

  • Letrozole (more mild – oral stims)
  • Gonal-F (injectable stims – these are the $$$ drugs)
  • Cetrotide (prevents premature ovulation)
  • Novarel (trigger shot to ovulate 40ish hours later)
  • Vivelle dot patch (estradiol/estrogen)
  • Progesterone and oil – More on this fun later once I start it, but if you want a preview, you can read this amazing post by my favorite infertility blogger, Heather (and this one too tbh, she’s fantastic)
The spoils, part I.
Non-refrigerated spoils, a.k.a. part II.

$3,600 worth of drugs, folks, which…I’m relieved about. I never thought I’d say paying $3,600 for one month’s supply of medications would make me say that, yet here we are. I’m relieved because the clinic estimated $5,000 to $7,000, so Josh and I prepared ourselves for $7,000. And I should be getting a rebate from this amazing program my friend Amanda told me about called Compassionate Care, which anyone can register for and then they offer you a percentage off certain medications based on your income. Josh and I “only” qualify for 10%, but 10% off of the two in the above list that it covers — Gonal-F and Cetrotide — is $335! Big chunk of change for us.

To be candid, we applied for two grants and did not get chosen for either one, so we took out a home-equity loan to pay for this which, if we don’t end up needing more meds and do a fresh transfer, is costing us $16,500 out the gate including the meds. If we produce enough good-looking embryos to risk aging to day 5/blastocyst stage and doing the PGS testing with a frozen transfer later, that will add about $4,000 to the total. Each subsequent transfer/”try,” assuming we have embryos frozen, is $5,000 to $7,000, so the idea is that having PGS “normal” embryos to work with will make our chances of a successful pregnancy higher the first time. Our loan was for $25,000, so we have a little wiggle room for now, and time to save up if, God forbid, this journey continues beyond the first try or two.

I’m putting these numbers out there because it’s completely insane that so many insurance plans (including ours) do not offer to help couples struggling with infertility. It’s garbage, and I really hope that changes ASAP. We are in the lucky group who can somewhat reasonably afford it, if not via our ideal scenario. So many people cannot.

Anyway, the plan is to start the stims (Letrozole and Gonal-F) tonight and take them for four nights. Then I have my first follicle-check ultrasound on Wednesday morning to see how those babies are growing. I should mention that on my medicated IUI cycles, I took 75 UI of Gonal-F two or three times, every other day. This time? 300 UI every damn night for what they estimate will be 12 nights. Oh boy.

I’m pretty worried about how they’re going to affect me, physically and emotionally. Josh says he’s ready and not worried because the 75 UI didn’t really have a big effect on my moods, but I don’t think he really knows what he’s getting into. I already asked him in advance to forgive anything that comes out of my mouth this next month and, if I get pregnant, the next 18.75 years after that.

The list of things he does for me is endless. This is us having fun.

There are a few more exciting things going on for me. I got full-time hours at my job, writing for PEOPLE.com, which is faaaaab. I’m very thankful to be working 8 to 4, Monday through Friday at my dream publication and not having to feel the need to seek out side projects. And I’ve rejoined Weight Watchers (sorry — it’s “Wellness That Works” now) and lost almost 5 lbs. these first two weeks back. Overall, I’m feeling good, and like I’m allowed to relax some and move forward.

But this post was mostly to tell you guys that IVF is officially a go, and moving full steam ahead. We’re scared. We’re nervous. But mostly we’re excited — truly. It’s been a lot of waiting up until this point and regardless of how this all turns out, we feel like there’s nowhere to go but up.