Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Nina's Battle Against Infertility Part II

The Solution. So We Thought!

We had our first office visit with my OB/GYN doctor in 2006. I first had to undergo a procedure called a hysterosalpinogram (HSG) which is an x-ray test that uses a contrast material to check for injury or abnormal structure of the uterus or fallopian tubes. This test was normal. My husband had to provide a sperm sample for Semen Analysis. His counts were not the greatest, but they were not horrible. So we tried the medication Clomid alone, then along with intrauterine insemination (IUI) for 6 cycles with no luck. I eventually had a procedure called a Pelviscopy done a few years later to check and make sure that I did not have any adhesions or abnormalities that could not be picked up by ultrasound alone. It is a laparoscopic procedure where a long thin scope was placed through small incisions on my abdomen and my belly button. This was normal as well. After all of this we were referred to a specialist at a Fertility Clinic. So we continued on with new medications and IUIs, then injectable medications and IUIs. They were all unsuccessful. 

So, here we were now in the year 2012 and the next step in our journey would lead us to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Our insurance did not cover the cost of IVF so we now faced a major decision. One cycle of IVF would cost us around $7000. That was not including the cost of the medications required during one cycle which can be around another $2500. So we decided to postpone our dream of becoming parents until after we relocated from Rochester, NY to Charlotte, NC and were settled. Through the grace of God I found a job through an organization that would cover my IVF treatments after working there a year. I would still have to pay a copay for the procedure and for my medications, which was nothing compared to what I could have paid. In October 2013 we started our IVF process after completing blood work, genetic testing, and a semen analysis for my husband. Now the true test of my strength would begin. There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process which include: 

  • Monitoring and stimulating the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries, collecting the eggs
  • Securing sperm
  • Combining the egg(s) and sperm together in the laboratory and providing the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth
  • And lastly transferring the embryo(s) into the uterus. 

I created calendars to write down all of the medications I had to take, injections I had to give myself (some nights included three injections into my abdomen). I wrote down all of the appointments for blood work and ultrasounds in order to check my progress. I was very diligent, always on time, afraid to make a mistake. Taking injections with me to dinner at restaurants and injecting them into my abdomen in the bathroom so I gave it at the correct time. I had several alarms programmed on my phone to help me remember what time I had to give or take each medication. On my birthday, December 3, 2013 I celebrated my birthday under anesthesia. My eggs were now ready for retrieval through a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow needle through my pelvic cavity. My eggs were aspirated from my ovaries. They now had 11 eggs from my ovaries. After my eggs and my husband’s sperm were combined we had 8 good embryos left. I returned on December 8th for my embryo transfer. The process involves a speculum which is inserted into the vagina to expose the cervix. With my embryo suspended in fluid and guided by ultrasound it was gently placed through a catheter into my womb. My doctor only transferred one embryo and we planned on freezing the rest for later procedures when we were ready to try again. That day we received our first baby picture. A picture of our little embryo that was ready to be transferred. We also learned that we only had one remaining embryo that was ready to be frozen. The next phase of the cycle can actually be the most stressful time when you are trying to relax. It is known as the two week wait. 

Our wait was finally over on December 17th when my husband and I listened together to a voicemail from our IVF nurse. We were pregnant, for the first time in almost 9 years of trying. We were elatedExcited I told all of my close friends, my mom, my sister, and my co-workers who knew every step of the process as I was going through it. On December 19th I had to go back in for follow-up blood work to make sure that my hormone levels were doubling. To my surprise, when I received the voicemail from the IVF nurse about the results they were not what I had expected. I did not prepare myself for this. I was crushed. Our levels had dropped and it was considered a chemical pregnancy. Now I had to tell my husband and I was at work so my co-workers found out and just about my entire office was in tears. That was a really hard and trying day. I felt like I was going to die because the pain was so severe. My heart literally hurt. 

Thanks for reading and don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out what's next for Nina and her hubby

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