Category Archives: IVF

Pregnant until Proven Otherwise

With the current success of the egg retrieval one week behind us, Jade and I have been patiently (anxiously) sitting by our big red phone, waiting for the call from the reproductive endocrinologist (pooty doctor) with what we hope will be good news noose (Freudian slip) regarding our fertilization report (bun in the oven).

Here’s how our stats break down:

They harvested 33 eggs from Mother Hen, 21 of which were mature enough to proceed to the next step – FERTILIZATION!!

Of the 21 fertilized, 18 eggs were a success!! I immediately began formulating my plans to make a baseball team, a family band and my own personal entourage when Jade informed me that we’d only be implanting 2. BLAST! I immediately began reconstructing my plan. I’d form a tandem bicycling team, a small vaudeville act and a slightly smaller and more intimate version of my previous entourage. SUCCESS!!

Because we had so many successfully fertilize, our embryologist recommended that we freeze 10 and let the remaining 8 continue to develop for a five day transfer. We both casually nodded our heads, completely oblivious to what she was talking about. Personally, I couldn’t get the phrase, “Doctor Lady say smart thing. We do. Baby, fun, soft, pink.” out of my head.

She told us to show up on Monday.

While we drove home, I spaced out (these new cars pretty much run themselves, anyway) thinking that, somewhere out there, somewhere behind me, there were these little things…they were part Jade and they were part me and they were sort of neither of us. I started thinking about how making babies is like macaroni and cheese. Yes, the crunchy noodles are good when eaten plain. Yes, the powdered cheese is a little dusty but oh so tasty. Yes, they’re each good individually but doesn’t the the real magic come from the perfect union of the two substances coming together in a near divine concoction of pasta that you want to curl up with and snuggle?

We had, for all intents and purposes, reproduced.

Whoa.

Alas, Monday morning arrives and we show up at nine bells, ready and willing to be impregnated.

Based on previous discussions with us, they had already prepped our two grade As – no sense turning my wife’s sausage storage into a clown car. The embryologist (who was standing behind this weird Mr. Ed type door, staring down Jade’s wazoo) said our little chicklet babies were “textbook” and were ranked 8AB – the highest grade she gives. I could tell that Jade was already gushing with maternal pride when the lady turned to me and said, “These are great eggs. GREAT eggs. That’s no offense to the sperm, but these are GREAT eggs”. I just smiled and laughed but thought, “I’d like to see you do what you do without me, lady”.

That said, without further ado………behold……..our blastocyte spawns and a weird looking penis shape!

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Now join with us, won’t you, and cross every part of the body you can – fingers, toes, eyes – and believe that Jezuz-Pleazuz, we will see a miracle.

Monday is the big day!

MACARONI AND CHEESE!!!!

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IVFantastic

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When I was a kid I got suplexed.

My buddy and I were wrestling and he wrapped his arms around me, his chest to my back. He locked his wrists and flipped me backwards, crashing my noggin into the floor of his parents’ messy trailer home. My bottom tooth smashed into my top tooth and shattered the corner. If you look at my broken, mangled smile you can actually see the culprit and the victim on the left side, trapped forever standing next to one another in an awkward silence.

Today, however, is not about awkward silences. Today is about SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY! Today the missus and I are going to the fertility clinic to remove my wife’s sweet, sweet eggs. They go in with a vacuum, dig around and extract. It’s sort of like an abortion in reverse.

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We only wait a few moments before they call our name and take us into a room that is entirely white. The black nurse sticks out like a sore thumb and tells Jade to put on some sort of strange magic lotion that will numb her skin, making it painless for when they put in the IV. After battling cancer and having some 37 injections and IVs combined I’m wondering just where this stupid potion was about a year ago. Truthfully, I think it was just a placebo. Jade covers the back of her hand with it while the nurse, who’s name was Denise Crist (pronunciation on that last name, Jezuz-Please-Us) tells my Zygote Momma to put on her Egg Makin’ Uniform. Some people say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I say that hospital gowns are the windows to the butt. Jade double knots the belt and puts the gripped hospital booties on OVER her “Lucky Socks”.

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Denise asks if she’d like her to take a picture of the three of us. I look chubbier than I do in my head, Jade looks like she doesn’t fully grasp the purpose of the hairnet and June (Jade’s mom) looks like her anxiety pills have just started to wear off.

Jade says, “Just push the button to take the picture” and Denise says, “This one? This one?” and Jade says, “Yep – that one right there”. My first thought is, “Why does everyone have such a hard time operating cameras?” My second thought is, “Is it strange that my mother-in-law is present at the conception of my children?” I pinch myself to make sure I’m not having some dream that is about to go down a very bad road.

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Someone takes a photo of us, maybe it’s Jade. Someone says, “How do I do it?” Someone else says, “Just push the button”. Every time I hear the shutter click I wonder if this will be The Photo that I will look at years from now and remember this moment by, here and gone. I look around the room and wonder if this is how I pictured it all. It’s not but it’s still very cool.

I wonder about people having children “naturally” and I wonder about accidental pregnancies and I start to wonder about all the things that can go wrong and I start to get scared that something horrible will happen, that something will go wrong. I start to think about how it’s a miracle that anyone survives past infancy. My mind starts to go koo-koo-bananas when I notice that Denise has left the room and Jade is applying more Magic Cream to her hands. She sees me watching, shrugs and says, “Better safe than sorry”.

Denise enters back into the room. Jade sees her and throws the tube back onto the silver tray with a clatter and starts to whistle, gazing out the window.

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Denise opens up this door and says, “Here’s where it happens”. I take a step too near, over a red line and she says, “STAND BACK! STAND BACK! YOU CAN’T CROSS THAT LINE! THAT’S THE DIRTY LINE! THAT SIDE OF THE LINE IS DIRTY AND THIS SIDE IS CLEAN! YOU STAY ON THE DIRTY SIDE! DIRTY SIDE!”

I leap back, suddenly terrified that The Hand of God was going to strike me dead for entering the Holiest of Holies without a proper invitation. We start talking to Denise about restaurants, which happens to be something she loves. She tells us that she’ll never start smoking but she can’t say no to a stick of butter. She tells us that one of her favorite restaurants is Homestyle Buffet (which is pretty much every food you could ever imagine served on three Power Buffets). Jade and I tried it once and couldn’t go back. Denise says it’s like eating at your Grandma’s house and I refrain from asking her if her grandma resides in the Bog of Eternal Stench and if she boils her bacon until it’s done just right. Jade politely says that she didn’t really like it. Denise just laughs knowingly and says, “Girl, you’re the wrong demographic”.

I’m pretty sure she was implying something about race, about black people loving Crappy Power Buffet but I’m too afraid too ask for fear of sounding racist. I’m always afraid to even MENTION race because I don’t want to sound racist. Sometimes I just ignore people’s race altogether. If someone says, “Hey, you know that Puerto Rican guy?” I’ll just say, “Puerto Rican? Hmm, I guess I didn’t notice.”

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Jade’s mom shouts, “PICTURE TIME!” and Jade sits on my lap and in my head I laugh about her beanie / hairnet again. I do this a lot, laugh inside my own head without actually laughing out loud. Sometimes people say something and I just smile and they go, “Don’t you think that’s funny?” and I say, “Yeah, I laughed inside my head” and they think I’m insulting them.

I have to keep pinching Jade’s leg and saying, “Look at the birdie” because her eyes keep drifting back to the Magic Cream. She asks me if she could put that stuff on her face and I just shrug, smile, laugh in my head.

We have to take this picture six times because I keep blinking. Have you ever noticed how often newsreporters blink? All the time.

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Denise brought in one of my sperm. She said this was the one they chose based strictly on it’s size. I tell her that the head-to-body proportion seemed to be squed and that I’m concernced that those attributes may carry over to the finished product. I tell her I don’t want some “damn Quosimodo hunchbacked big headed monster”.

Jade insists on taking our first ever father / son photo.

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One topic that seems to be playing on repeat is the “Will you promise me that you’ll stay Above The Blanket when we’re in the birthing chamber? Jade tells me that I don’t want to see The Man Behind the Curtain. She tells me that that much knowledge could kill a man. She makes me pinky promise with my little toe.

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Denise leaves again. We’ve now been waiting in the Heaven Room for about 90 minutes. Jade starts to slowly reach for the Magic Cream again, mumbling something about, “……never have too much….” I slap her hand away and she tells me that once the eggolas go back in that she can’t pick up dog poop.

Dog poop.

That just sounds disgusting and demeaning.

She says there’s something in the bacteria or aura of it. She says she can’t pick up dog vomit. She says dog pee is off limits. I catch onto her little game and ask if she has to stay away from laundry detergent, dish soap, olive oil and making the bed. She says she’s serious. I tell her that I bet she is.

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Then, suddenly, things start to happen. Things start to move. A woman, an old woman, a doctor, Mother Time, steps around the curtain. She is from Mother Russia and was probably a young woman sometime during the Great Depression. You could get lost in her wrinkles. I mean that literally, like, “HEY! I’M TRAPPED!!!”

She introduces herself and says that she’s the anastesiologist. She says she’ll be doing the IV. She smiles and leaves, disappearing behind the curtain and out of the room. Jade twists her head towards me, pinches a nerve in her neck and shout-whispers, “SHE’S giving me an IV?? Nononono – SHE CAN’T HOLD A NEEDLE STILL! SHE’S GOING TO BE LIKE THIS -” Jade then proceeds to wobble her hand from side to side drunkenly.

I tell her to relax.

Mother Time comes back into the room with an IV and steps up to Jade’s left side. She picks up her hand and Jade starts to hyperventilate. I squeeze her hand and imitate casual breathing. June takes a few pictures and giggles, examines some rubber gloves.

Mother Russia pokes a vein and says, “Zees von eez gewd. Vee veel pokey zees von.” She rips open the needle. Jade turns her head and looks at which vein Doc Oc is pointing to. June blows up the rubber glove and laughs again. I say, “Jade, look here” and I keep breathing casually, loudly, just as Jade starts to scream, “I DIDN’T PUT THE MAGIC LOTION THERE! I DIDN’T PUT IT ON THE SIDE OF MY HAND!! NOOOO – oh, that wasn’t so bad….

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Denise and Wrinkles ask us to go back to the waiting room. They are ready. Jade comes over to kiss me on the cheek and I give her a big hug. This. Is. It. The beginning of the beginning. She walks into The Big Room with them and the last I see of her, she’s chatting about roadtrips, IV in tow, lucky socks leading the way.

As June and I enter back into the waiting room, we find ourselves surrounded by hopeful couples and I can’t help but wonder if they all think that June and I are “A Thing”. I want to make this as uncomfortable as possible so I set my coffee down, take June’s purse for her. I lean in and say, “They think we’re together” and she says, “uh-UH!!” and I say, pretty loudly, “That’s right, Babe” and then I put my arm around her and laugh.

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Thirty minutes later we’re back with Jade and she’s groggy but good. I give her a copy of Pregnancy for Dummies. At the bookstore when I bought it, the lady says, “Oh, I bet this is good.” I laugh and say, “Yeah”. I point to the word “Pregnancy” and say, “That’s my wife” and then I point to the word “Dummies” and say, “And that’s me”.
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I leave the bookstore excited about the day when my kid will be old enough to have a sleepover, stay up until 3am drinking Root Beer and getting suplexed by his buddy.

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The Big Poke

Going in for the egg retrieval this morning. Nervous but ready.

Will report back more later.

Wish me luck!

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An Afternoon Stroll

I picked up the kids from the cryobank the other day and took them for a little afternoon stroll through Los Angeles on their way to the fertility clinic.

Remember, prevention is the best medicine. SAFETY FIRST!!

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But seriously, if I got into a car accident, I did NOT want to be covered in year old semen.

Seriously.

Ick.

While I was lugging this 15lb tank of sperm the 4 blocks to the fertility clinic I found myself with some extra time to think. First thought: “I really should be carrying these miniature albino tadpoles around in a stroller instead of a clunky steel aquarium.” Second thought: “If this whole thing works out the way we’re planning, I could be carrying 1/2 of our future kid(s) right now.” That, my friends, is a very strange thought. Thought number 3: “What if I get mugged and they steal my honeypot of baby batter?” I started getting nervous and began walking faster, turning my mind towards the more comforting things we get to experience on this marvelous and romantic journey; pelvic exams and ovarian cramps, etc. etc. SCIENCE!

The finish line for this cycle is not too far off. Egg retrieval is tentatively set for Monday or Tuesday next week depending on how things develop over the next couple of days. Follicle count has leveled out a bit and is standing at 20 on the right and 19 on the left. The follicle sizes are pretty much even across the board (which the nurses say is a good thing) with the largest follicle measuring at 14.6mm (ironically, 14.6 has always been my lucky number). They’ve backed my Follistim injections down from 150 to 75 units daily. I told them I was an over achiever but I don’t think they took me seriously. I sure hope my ovaries don’t over achieve their way to my abdomen exploding.

I still feel pretty puffy in my stomach so I’ve been drinking water and Gatorade like a fish / Gatorade spokesman. My egg retrieval surgeon said Gatorade helps fend off OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). Sure, sure. Whatever you say lady. At this point I’d chug a gallon Bean-o if I thought it would lessen my bloated Winnie the Pooh tummy………

On a side note, I think all these extra hormones have finally kicked in. I watched Blindside with Sandra Bolluck this afternoon and balled like my family dog died. I’m not much of a crier…….so chalk another new one up to the continuing IVF saga.

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Ovaries + Follistim = WOW!

Starting: 04/15/10
Right – 19
Left – 20

Two days of Follistim: 04/17/10
Right – 25
Left – 30ish ( quote “I stopped counting at 30.” )

My ovaries are feeling pretty crampy and tingly at this point.

And (naked) I have a SLIGHTLY rounded little tummy. That unexpected little development does not bode well and has made me realize that I should maybe start applying Cocoa Butter quickly……….just in case. 🙂

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It Pays To Be Blissfully Ignorant

Went in for a date with the ol’ doctor again on Tuesday. They wanted to check the status of all things girly-good since I’ve been hopped up on Lupron.

I guess they’re looking to get a baseline on the ovary production before starting me on the REAL drugs – the hard stuff. You know, the ones that make you hulk out one minute and then cry over birds chirping the next.

Truth be told, even though we’re probably a solid half way through our cycle, we still feel pretty clueless as to how and why this all works. Most of the time I find myself just nodding and smiling when it seems appropriate. The doctor says I’m going to be getting two drugs in 20 injections over 14 days shot into my abdomen and I smile. She tells me she’s going to squirt ink into my cervix and I nod. She tells me I have to shove a pill into my hoo-hoo like some sort of reverse suppository and I giggle, reminded of some story regarding a coffee enema made from a home made douche kit and an empty 2 liter bottle of Coke.

Normally this sort of ignorance really troubles me. Generally when faced with the unknown I consult my magic 8-ball and if that turns up empty I turn to Google, spending hours and hours pouring through and over various case files, sweating and clamming up at the calamity I’m in. Honestly, some would say I’m a bit neurotic……personally, I prefer the term thorough, but to each his own.

The good news, though, is that all of our happy ignorance, our blissful naivety, good juju and positive kharma have payed off! My endometrial lining is at 4.7 – which is right where it needs to be (so sayeth the good Doctor), my right ovary has 19 follicles and the left one has 20!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Remember they said before that anything above 10 is considered excellent? My ovaries are graded A plus-PLUS! EXTRA CREDIT!

So, another milestone passed and now we’re on to Follistim. This is the REAL drug – the one that makes all the magic happen. If Lupron was a gateway drug, this stuff is heroin and it even comes in this weird little nifty pen thingy that’s sort of like a reusable syringe…it’s the little things in life…

I went to pick up the last round of meds from the pharmacy today and dropped almost $1,400.00. That IS a lot of money but thankfully (because of my stellar little ovaries) it was a LOT less than what we were anticipating. The lady in line behind me looked at me really funny when the sales clerk told me my total. I could just see the wheels in her head turning and wondering what the hell I was picking up. As the pharmacist handed me my gift bag overflowing with drugs and needles she said that she hoped to never see me again. I smiled too and said I hoped so as well. I wanted to tell the lady behind me that I was purchasing injections from the Fountain of Youth. I wanted to tell her that I was 62.

I brought my drugs home and put them up on the counter to start putting everything away and had to laugh. It looks like a junky lives here! Some sort of pharm head…
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This baby making stuff is SEXY!

That said, I am becoming a little concerned about John’s well being and current mental state. My husband, who is notoriously phobic about needles – even going so far as to pass out when he gets his blood drawn – has been taking the injections quite well. Perhaps….TOO well. When he comes home from work, usually the first words out of his mouth, through the door, are something to the effect of, “FOUR MORE HOURS ‘TIL SHOT TIME!!” When I told him this evening that he had to start giving me two shots a night his eyes lit up.

More on this as it develops.

On another note, I was at the grocery store picking up some last minute things the other night and had to grab a jug of milk. I was checking the expiration dates to find a good one when it occurred to me that, if all things go well, we could be pregnant before this milk curdles and expires.

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That is a very wonderful/weird realization.

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Holy Bruise, Batman!

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Today was a big day…I took my last birth control pill!

(and hopefully forever because I hate them and will never forgive them for that extra 10lbs they gifted me freshman year – college not high school).

Now, I realize that in the crazy little world of IVF, THIS is not a big milestone BUT I am a neurotic psychopathic list person and love crossing things off. I get a thrill from the visual proof of accomplishment, gain, momentum, achievement, etc.

And today I get to cross off BIRTH CONTROL PILLS.

In other news, the Lupron injections are continuing to go fairly well. I think I have managed to slip under the side effects radar pretty well – all except the insomnia. Like clockwork I wake up at 3:00am every morning and cannot for the life of me fall back to sleep. This makes me crabby (poor John) and is starting to make me look like I’ve been going a few rounds with Ali. That said, I suppose we can just chalk it up to baby practice. Plus, considering that one of the other side effects of Lupron is brain splitting migraines, I think I drew the long stick.

John has proved himself to be a fairly accomplished nurse through these injections as well. He even seems to like it – which I still haven’t decided if I think is cute or creepy. It’s definitely helpful having him around but the fact that he insists on wearing the little white skirt is a little disturbing.

The other night he stuck me with old pokey and somehow manged to hit a vein/blood vessel/blood filled wet noodle and that hurt and burned like a mother. It also gushed blood back out of the hole like it was trying to impersonate Ol’ Faithful. John handled the situation and we moved on as if nothing happened. I am however still sporting a pretty healthy bruise 4 days later.

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My next appointment isn’t until the 13th. So until then we will just hold the fort and continue our nightly shots.

A question though……

I’m trying to decide if I should/need to tell my boss that we’re doing an IVF cycle. I’m sure he’ll be fine with it because he’s a really nice guy with really great hair but I’m concerned that the discussion definitely borders on awkward. In a “normal” situation I would never dream of telling my boss that we were “trying” to get pregnant – so do those same rules apply here??????? Advice please. What did you all do? And if you did tell, how did you spill it?

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Murse Brookbank

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Lupron injection #1 is complete.

And despite my being a complete nervous nelly, the whole procedure went off without a hitch and John handled the shot giving like an old junkie.

One down, thirteen to go.

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We’re off to see the Wizard

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Today was the HSG – our final step before we can start the real meat and potatoes part of the IVF cycle.

For weeks now I have been dreading this appointment. I have heard horror story after horror story and have been bracing myself for pain the likes of which I have never experienced before.

We show up at the radiology office at 8:00am sharp because the HSG Nazi lady that scheduled the appointment was very insistent that we HAD to be prompt. So prompt we were. After filling out the usual paperwork and paying for the test we had a seat in the waiting room and began twiddling our thumbs. As also instructed by above mentioned Nazi, I took my Motrin and Valium at 7:00am – exactly one hour prior to my appointment so I would feel as little pain as possible. So there we sat waiting…….and waiting……..and waiting. Finally at 9:00am the man-child decided to go up to the front desk to start storming the gates. The “scheduler” lady informed us that an error had been made and the tech and doctor were NOT there. She then suggested that we could come back at 2:30pm. Not really possible as John had to go back to work and I needed a driver since I was hopped up on happy pills.

Finally after quite a bit of apologizing for their incompetence the HSG Nazi lady said that the tech and doctor were on their way and that they would be able to fit us in in half an hour.

GREAT!

However, at this point my happy pills were starting to wear off and I had no reinforcements! The horrible HSG Nazi lady said we were pretty much up Sh!ts Creek and I would just have to tough it out or reschedule. There was NO WAY that I was going to reschedule this. So I asked John to fetch me a large shot of whiskey and the biggest biting stick he could find on short notice. We were going to kick this old school.

30 minutes later I found myself in an ass less robe with my legs up in some sort of weirdo knee stirrup things (this is fun and new) while staring at the ceiling. The sweet little radiologist-side-kick lady asks me if I’m nervous. I just smile and say no and then resume hyperventilating as quietly as possible.

The doctor finally gets in the room and immediately gets right down to “business”. She’s one of these chatty types that likes to narrate her every move. I’m sure she finds it less surprising for patients, however, I prefer to operate on a strict “need to know only” basis. So as she continues to narrate while navigating God only knows what through my goods she says the dreaded words of ALL doctors, “you might feel some discomfort now”. At this point I start muttering some sort of prayer and brace myself for the excruciating pain.

But……..it doesn’t come.

She then mutters something about inserting the dye and that some patients complain of discomfort from this. I again start praying to my maker and bracing for THE excruciating pain.

But………it doesn’t come.

What. The. Hell.

Dr. Narration then whips the monitor around to show me two very “beautiful” and OPEN fallopian tubes spilling hazardous radioactive waste into my stomach cavity.

AWESOME!

She then went on to compliment me on my nice pelvis (that’s a first) and my belly button ring. 🙂

So……………………..long story short. This HSG business was easy peesy mac and cheesy and literally took 5 minutes from start to finish. Why was it pain free you ask?????? Maybe it was because I decided to wear my lucky socks this morning.

I don’t know. Whatever the reasons, I’ll take it!

And to prove it, here’s a photo of me minutes after the procedure giving the classic sign for “it’s all good in the hood”. Would this face lie?

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Tomorrow we start Lupron!

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No Raisins for my Power Animal!

This morning I rolled out of bed at the unholy hour of 6am to beat the LA traffic to my first appointment at our RE’s (Reproductive Endocrinologist) office. One Starbucks coffee, 16,000 cars in LA traffic and an hour and a half later I was sweetly sitting in the front lobby waiting to be called.

Why am I here you might ask?

Oh, well I’m here for a pretty disgusting appointment actually. And because I’m a lady I will spare you the details of WHY it’s a disgusting appointment and just jump right to “they’re checking my follicles to get a baseline of what my ovaries are producing.” Basically they want to know if my ovaries (on their own) are producing little healthy grapes or dry shriveled little raisins.

I was a little bit of a nervous pervous going into this appointment because I’ve been harboring this secret fear that we might find out that I TOO would somehow (in a cruel twist of fate) be infertile. A severely tipped uterus perhaps, or maybe a bum ovary or just maybe the dreaded……..endometriosis.

The fantastic/amazing/good/jumping for joy news is that I have a “textbook” reproductive system. Thank you genetics!

My uterus looked like, well, a uterus. And my little ovaries showed 12 follicles on the left and 16 on the right. The sweet little ultrasound lady said anything above 10 was considered excellent. I’ve always been an obsessive over achiever. Ovaries 28 – Infertility 0.

So now that THAT is out of the way we now move onto the HSG. I’ve scheduled this for next Tuesday and have already convinced myself that I. WILL. NOT. PANIC. I will forget all the horror stories I have heard and pretend that I’m in my happy place with Edward Norton and my power animal.



Incidentally, my power animal is a Sasquatch.

Wish me luck and be sure to tell me how easy an HSG is!

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