It’s been an interesting eight days. Overall I’d say successful. But certainly not comfortable.
As previously blogged, the first several days of stims were characterized by general anxiety due to needles and dosages.
Can I emotionally/physically stick myself in the stomach?
Did I load the right amount of medication?
Did I get all the air bubbles out of the syringe?
Why isn’t there a drop forming at the top of this needle yet?
How much overfill is in this medication cartridge?
Needless to say, I’ve come a long way from my “IUI Days” when I was too scared to “needle” on my own, and had either my sister-in-law or my mother-in-law (both nurses) come over to help give me the trigger shots. I’ll take that as a small victory, THANK-YOU!
By Day 5 of stims, things began to become uncomfortable. I could tell something was definitely happening, as the bloat was real. It still is. There are positives and negatives here. According to the last several appointments I’ve had, it’s clear my body is responding relatively well to the stimulating medications. Sure they have made tweaks here and there after each visit in terms of dosages (etc,) but overall I have a TON of budding follicles on each ovary (the right ovary being the big winner thus far), and that’s a good thing. My lining (as always) isn’t GREAT, but it’s not in the “danger zone” so that’s good. On the negative side, the more follicles there are (and the bigger they get) the more uncomfortable I become.
I watched a vlog (video blog) earlier this week of a woman who had documented her journey through IVF stimming, and the reference she made was a good one. She held up a grape to the camera and said something to the tune of, “This is about the size of one follicle. Normally each cycle a woman will grow and release an egg from a follicle the size of this single grape.” She then held up two clusters of grapes (still attached to the vines) and said, “This is what my ovaries look like right now due to the stimulating medications.”
As of today’s ultrasound, I have 18 follicles ranging from 9-17mm (with 8 more smaller than 9mm) on the right ovary, and 9 follicles ranging from 9-14mm (with 19 smaller than 9mm) on the left ovary. According to what the nurse told me today, anything over 14mm is considered mature (it’s interesting… if you Google “what size follicle is mature” you will get a whole HOST of answers regarding the correct “mature” size) so it’s really a dance of sorts in terms of when to “trigger” for Retrieval Day. The RE doesn’t want any of the follicles to be too big or they will be “overly mature” and he doesn’t want to trigger before most are not mature enough (or too small). Obviously you won’t get them all, so picking the perfect time to trigger based on the visual (ultrasound) and levels seen from blood work are taken closely into account.
I was hopeful today that my days of stims would be nearly numbered, but it looks like I’ll continue to stim until at least Saturday, which is the date of my next monitoring appointment. If the doctor likes what he sees on that day, I’ll be told to “trigger” that night at a specific time in order to align perfectly with my egg retrieval surgery time (exactly 35 hours later). So at the earliest… Monday. Fingers crossed. Less time = less bloat = less needles = less additional medications to order. Regardless of when it is, I count myself as blessed to be going through this process. It’s not financially easy, but we are blessed to be able to do it. Emotionally I have the strongest family, friends, and co-workers who check in with me daily to make sure I am doing okay.
Just so blessed.
For all those reading this blog who are about the go through IVF, considering it for the future, or just people who are curious in general and like looking at charts, I’m going to include my personal charting related to my stimming cycle. For me, the mystery of “what to expect while stimming” was more daunting than the stimming process itself. Or at least I could call them “equal parts daunting.” Hopefully the other type A people out there who come across this blog will find some calm in viewing a (nearly) complete IVF stim timeline. No two are the same, that’s for sure, but at least it’s an idea.