Quick preface and exactly as I mentioned in my last post… fertility can be a very tricky, emotional, and personal subject to discuss. If the topic is at all triggering for you, please know that I’ll be speaking very candidly about a lot of my personal fertility experience below. Also, if you missed part 1, be sure to check it out here.
Day 0 Continued
In my last post, I shared something to the effect of, “When you make plans, God laughs.” Well can I get an “Amen?”
When I went in for my baseline appointment (i.e. when you go into the clinic to get your meds, finalize your egg freezing plan, and all those other fun details), there was a big, 30.5mm cyst illegally loitering on my right ovary. While the team at OVA could have technically moved forward with my cycle with the cyst there, I’m so glad we decided not to proceed. My follow-up appointments showed that it was already shrinking on its own, but it was taking up space on my ovaries where I want the follicles to hang out and it would potentially be messing with my hormones. Thus, we decided to push the whole process back one month. Annoying, but definitely worthwhile.
One thing to know is that ovarian cysts are kind of common. They kind of just come and go, typically without us noticing them at all. Of all of my friends that have frozen their eggs, I’m the third I know that has had to move cycles due to a cyst. That’s definitely not a scientific sample size, but enough that I knew it was a possibility that this could occur and I’m glad I had a plan B month available on the calendar ASAP.
However, separately, we could also see that my follicle count had already increased by 50% from my original assessment – and those weren’t even mature eggs and the cyst was blocking our view! I mentioned in my past post that it’s highly recommended to do all of the good things to improve egg quantity and quality for three months. Adding this additional month would put the supplements, acupuncture, and everything I’ve been doing at three months of behavior, so I do hope this additional month is a blessing in disguise. (Though, again, you never know.)
Luckily, the cyst disappeared on its own and all signs pointed to good news for the following month. Though my doctor’s plan for my meds did change accordingly. Before we dive into my new and fresh med plan…
How the Injections are Done
Each injection has slightly different instructions, with several consistencies. The team at OVA not only has a 1:1 training with each patient to walk you through your specific med instructions step-by-step, but they also have a video training offered for each medication.
At a high level you:
- Prep your med(s).
- Clean the skin. The area you select should be around 1.5 inches away from your belly button, at or below your belly button level.
- “Pinch the inch”. You will literally pinch about an inch of skin, which is where your injection will go.
- Dispose of your needle in your very official looking sharps container.
I decided to start literally every single day the same way and it has truthfully helped with my side effects a lot, so I thought I’d share. Feel free to adapt this to be your own version:
- Wake up naturally whenever possible
- Read my Devotional
- 10-15 minute meditation
- Fertility Yoga on YouTube
For me, my side effects tended to launch early in the morning, so this helped me through them and helped me get through the day.
I also HIGHLY recommend being a little more relaxed with your schedule while you’re going through this process. Don’t put too much on your calendar so that you have the opportunity to listen to your body. If you’re tired, take a nap. If you need to take a second to breathe, go for a walk. If you have questions for your doctor, ask. You’re going through a lot internally, and it’s worth it to respect the process.
My Daily Egg Freezing Diary
My Day 1
While most women will have about two weeks of some cornucopia of hormone injections, my egg retrieval cycle is looking a little different. I will have one injection for about a month, adding in two additional injections closer to my retrieval date, followed by my trigger shot… et voila, retrieval day appears.
On my day 1, I started daily injections of a small amount of Leuprolide – a drug that reduces the amount of my natural hormones that would stimulate ovulation. Ultimately, this will help to control my ovulatory cycle and prevent premature ovulation, so that my doctor can have predictable access to my eggs when the time is right.
A very small amount of this drug needs to be taken at the same exact time every night sometime between 6-10PM from day 1 through whenever I’m told to take my trigger shot and it also needs to be refrigerated. After looking at my calendar, I selected 9pm because I figured that was late enough that I can get home from my scheduled events, but early enough that I won’t already be asleep on school nights.
I’m not going to lie… I had a bit of anxiety leading up to my injection. In contrast, immediately afterwards, I texted my nurse at OVA and my friends that had frozen their eggs saying, “Wait. I’m SHOCKED how easy that was!”. I could hardly feel the tiny little needle, and I typically DESPISE needles! Oddly, the only thing I felt was a very slight burning sensation underneath where I poked myself, but it’s so light that I’m tempted to not even mention it – just a very slight tenderness. Almost like you just poked yourself with a needle, if that makes any sense. (Duh.)
If I had any tip for any of you that don’t like needles going into this process, it’s to not hype yourself up. The less you think about the needles, the easier it will be.
I’ve heard from my other friends on Leuprolide that I shouldn’t feel this hormone much, especially because it’s a very, very small amount of the drug over a sustained period of time, so I’ll jump forward to any highlights.
Luckily, I haven’t had many bad side effects thus far. According to my research and recent conversations, it sounds like I am doing a very small dose of this medication for an extended period of time, so very subtle side effects should be experienced.
The only symptom I’ve noticed is bloating, which is annoying, but workable. This is for a relatively short period of time and it’ll be worth it in the end. In the meantime, I’ll be the one pushing my skinny jeans to the back of my closet.
I went in for a check up with the OVA staff and everything is looking good. My start date for the next two drugs is tomorrow (along with the season opening scramble at my golf club, #priorities), so wish me luck!
We’ve increased my med shots quite a bit this evening. Overall, it took about 30 minutes to set everything up with re-watching the instructional videos shared from OVA, prepping my skin (and mental fortitude), actually doing the injections, and cleaning up.
The injections do take quite a bit of mixing and matching, which is kind of fun. Right now, I am on:
- Leuprolide (refrigerated) – They docs have cut my daily dose in half
- Follistim (refrigerated) – A pen-looking contraption. Also, they have great branding and give you a cute, little carrying case for your meds. Great job, whomever does their marketing!
- Menopur (can be room temp) – Basically mixing and matching some jars of liquid and powder together. This med definitely takes the most time and, according to everyone I’ve spoken with, is their least favorite. Spoiler alert: I concur.
While the second two can be done anytime between 6-10PM, Leuprolide still needs to be done at 9ish. Just to keep things easy, 9ish it is for the whole crew.
Now that I’m used to the Leuprolide, that shot is a breeze. Follistim isn’t too bad either. It’s different in that it takes a while for my full dosage to actually get in me (that’s what she said). Otherwise said, you have to put the needle in and press on the syringe for a couple seconds to get all of the medication to get in your belly, rather than quickly injecting the med. Menopur, on the other hand… not a fan. It actually burns a bit while it’s going in and takes a while for the full dosage to get out of the syringe. I’ll do it, but I definitely won’t like it.
Felt pretty good in the morning, but a MASSIVE headache swept through in the afternoon. Debilitating, dizzying style. I’m glad I gave myself a little more freedom at work this week because I had to stop early and take a break for a nap just to clear my head enough for dinner. Hoping this is a one and done kind of thing.
I went to acupuncture today and whatever she did was a game changer. My headaches didn’t stop completely, but I could actually get some work done across the day.
In acupuncture, we also started ESTIM (electronic stimulation) for some of the needles surrounding my ovaries. I’ve experienced ESTIM in the past and it’s worked for me prior, so I decided I’m game to try. The goal this time around is to get more of my eggs to mature at a similar rate so that they’re all ready to go at the same time. It’s worth a shot in my book!
Pretty good day overall. Had some light cramps, but nothing too crazy.
My meds switched slightly, as I switched out Follistim for Gonal. Both are interchangeable and I have inherited a bit of both meds from my friends that previously froze their eggs and had them left over, so my docs said it’s okay to switch back and forth.
My experience with Gonal is very similar to Follistim, though the “pen” (their version of a syringe) is easier to use. Branding isn’t as classy, but something’s always got to give, right?
First check in at OVA today and everything is looking pretty good, as far as they’ve told me. It’s nice that they offer up the measurements and everything they see, but I’ll be honest that I have little to no idea what it means. I do know what egg count means though, so I’ll be watching that closely.
For all of my friends that have gone through egg freezing, this is when the doctors tend to start adjusting meds – either the amount of your dosage or the actual medications themselves. However, mine have stayed exactly the same. According to the docs, this is a good thing because it means my body is responding well to the meds. But you better believe that I asked to confirm that fact 15x before accepting the answer. Anything unexpected and I tend to freak out a bit…
Actual text I sent to my egg freezing friends:
Honestly, it was pretty hilarious. I’m just glad I know how to handle my emotions effectively. After a little time with my Devotional, journal, meditation, and fertility yoga on YouTube, I’ve been good all day.
This is the first day I’m dealing with extreme fatigue, too. I was expecting this because my body is going through a lot of changes right now, but my schedule wasn’t ready to give me an hour of free time to nap. Good note for the future.
Second check in and meds have stayed the same. My docs are telling me that my little eggies are growing well, and the measurements seem to say that, too. So far, so good!
This morning, I woke up after an incredibly realistic dream about a moment that actually happened about 8 or 9 years ago. I have no idea why these specific memories are coming up, and most people have said that they didn’t have the same experience. However, if you also have a side effect where your body is releasing memories during this process, it’s actually kind of cool. Growing through what your body is going through, in a way. Let’s see what else comes up!
I also had an acupuncture appointment today where she focused a bit more on my cramps. Luckily they’ve come and gone relatively quickly, but they launch like a strike of lightning when the time is right. My acupuncturist seemed to be pleased with my results, as well.
First night in a while that I slept like a rock! If you’re going through this, I HIGHLY recommend acupuncture. Real game changer.
My doctors have moved my next checkup to be tomorrow, which just means that my retrieval date won’t be the first date in my likely week. That’s all good to me… just keep cooking little eggs!
If you don’t know much about how the retrieval is scheduled, that’s because it’s not really scheduled at all. You find out that you’re ready for retrieval about 48 hours prior, have to give yourself a “trigger shot” EXACTLY 36 hours prior, then your retrieval occurs. The closest estimate the doctors can give you is, “sometime between these two dates.” For me, that was a Sunday through the following Friday. So now I know that my retrieval won’t be happening on Sunday.
My doctor adjusted my medications ever so slightly (only Gonal) and asked me to come in the following day. The nurse on staff did give me the hint that all signs were pointing towards my trigger shot happening tomorrow, which would mean this may be the last night of my medications. Wild!!
Following my appointment, while sitting at my nephew’s high school graduation, I got the go-ahead. Trigger shot is happening TONIGHT. Even though I had hints that it was coming, I’m sincerely shocked! It’s actually here!
As always, the team at OVA were wonderful and worked around my schedule by figuring out a drop-off time at the retrieval center that works within my calendar. That means that my trigger shot is happening at 12:30 AM on the dot.
Interestingly, I’ve also had the worst cramps I’ve had throughout the entire cycle today, too. It’s almost as if my body is finally saying, “I’ve had enough of this crap” and is telling me it’s time to go. I’m both incredibly excited that I’ve made it this far, and honestly scared to find out the results. But it’s here and I’m ready. Let’s get this show on the road!
Because of the weird angle (upper outer quadrant of the tuckus), I knew I would hesitate, get in my head, and make the trigger shot worse than it needed to be… so I asked +1 to do this one.
The mixing of ingredients was very similar to Menopur, but this shot didn’t burn. The only tough thing was seeing the 1.5 inch needle that was going to go into me! Credit where it’s due, +1 did a very good job and there was hardly any pain. (Well done, +1!)
No shots today… which was weird. That just means that tomorrow is retrieval day – it will be Tuesday of my estimated week. OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!
Day 27 – Retrieval Day
I’ll save most of the details for the next post, but you should know that I was VERY excited about the results.
Create a great life!