Sometimes, being so tired makes you punchy. And then everything is funny.
Today’s trip to the lab and the clinic found yours truly cracking wise and being silly all over the place. I was so very tired, between yawns, I found everything very funny indeed. I got into the lab and was joking with the lab techs, Kim and Lindsay, who are always there with us first thing in the morning. They’ve gotten to know me now, and so we have fun. Lindsay is kind of reserved, but if you take the time to say hello and remember what’s important to her — like that she calls Wednesday “Happy Day” because the week is half over — she’s a real sweetheart. And Kim is just a nut who can gab almost as much as I can, and always has a funny story to tell (when she’s not sticking her tongue out at me). This morning she was trying to mooch some McDonalds breakfast from me. And as well, I was chatting with some of the ladies in the waiting area, and we had some fun telling stories and killing time.
There’s three of us who’ve been on the same schedule for the last little while: me, a woman who works the night shift as a nurse at another local hospital and then comes after her shift for procedures, and the young, tall girl with 30-plus follicles I was in line behind last visit. Today was the first time we actually talked and it was nice. The poor girl with the many follicles is having much the same kind of cycle as I am, and today, she was rewarded with the news that they’re all growing uniformly and they’ll be able to do a retrieval this weekend. I was so happy for her. Imagine going through all that she’s done this cycle, only to have them put the brakes on and cancel the cycle at the last minute. I’d be devastated. But she will get to do her retrieval, and hopefully it will go well and she’ll have enough embryos to carry her into the next millenium. The poor thing is puffy and sore and still, she and her mom were hopeful and pleasant. I really hope it goes well for her. The other woman, the nurse, has been at the lab with me and is always chatting with others and smiling and pleasant. As it turns out, this is her second time through the process. She has a small child at home from the first go around, and she’s trying for another. Despite her all night shift, we chatted and joked and it was fun to pass the time with her. The waiting room was full of n00bs, and so they must have thought we were very strange. But maybe it will show them that this process doesn’t have to be all sombre, eyes lowered, serious stuff. BDH and I have always thought that this should be a place of joy, because finally couples are able to go and fix their broken selves and maybe make the dream of having a family come true. At least, that’s how we’ve always tried to treat it. Sure, it can be overwhelming and scary, but get in, get going, and rejoice in what victories you can. After all the pain and guilt and heartbreak of infertility, you deserve that.
And so, we had to go in for our ultrasound. We found out that our favourite Young Lady Doctor was doing the exams today, and we were delighted. So BDH and I decided to have a little fun with her. After I had gotten changed into my Bedsheet Toga, I called BDH into the changeroom, and he wrapped himself in a Bedsheet Toga as well, and we waited for the knock to indicate it was time to come in. When the knock came, we opened the door, and in walked BDH and said, “Please be gentle with me!” Well, I think that Young Lady Doctor has seen THAT one before, but still, she laughed and played along, giving BDH the “Well, I’ve never done a RECTAL exam before, but I’m sure we could work SOMETHING out…” business. Young Lady Doctor is still on the job, despite being very pregnant, and we asked how she was feeling. She pulled aside her labcoat to show us… the baby’s head, sticking out from under her ribs! She’s so tiny, and the baby is breech and is likely not going to turn, so she knows exactly where he is positioned. And she grabbed his head and wiggled it around a bit. BDH was surprised — can you really DO that to a baby in utero? — and he’s learning a lot about the whole pregnancy thing just from chatting with Young Lady Doctor. He’s getting more comfortable with the whole pregnancy thing, I think.
So the exam showed us that we have 7 really good follicles. Young Lady Doctor also said that she thinks our latecomer, Follicle 8 (I’d like to call him “Steve McQueen” but BDH is concerned about the bad karma — but better than the “Trini Lopez” I had called him two days ago) will be coming along for the ride as well. Although he’s smaller than the others, she thinks his growth shows he will be ready to go by retrieval time. And, another thing that made us feel SO much better, was that Young Lady Doctor said the ideal number of follicles was between 8 and 10, so we’re right on track according to her. We had been told before that they liked 10-15 follicles, so we were thinking that we were underachievers. And with that, Young Lady Doctor checked our growth chart, and is having us come back tomorrow.
We are now on the day-to-day countdown to retrieval. What that means is that with each day’s exam, they will give us refills of just enough drug to get us to the next day, and they’ll monitor our levels and the follicles daily to see when we are ready to go. When that time comes, we’ll stop all our meds, and take one injection of a drug to get the follicles ready for “ovulation” at midnight that night. Then we are in for our retrieval 36 hours later. And that has me just a little scared. But it’s okay. So I dropped BDH at work and came home and waited for the callback from the clinic. When the callback came, we found out that my estradiol is at 5310, and my LH (luteinizing hormone) is at 4 — “right where it should be” said the nurse. So we’re back in tomorrow for blood work at 7 and another ultrasound at 9:30. And then they will see if we are ready to go or if we need another day to cook.
BDH and I have to remind ourselves continually to NOT get our hopes up. Even though we’re doing well, we’re really still just in the early stages. There’s still some rough waters ahead to navigate, and we don’t want to get our hopes up only to have them dashed. AGAIN. For example, just because there are 8 follicles does not mean that all of them contain eggs. It may end up that only a few eggs are present, or maybe none at all. If we get eggs, then we have to hope that as many as possible fertilize. Sometimes, if there’s a problem with binding between egg and sperm, none fertilize. (Since I have been pregnant before, this is unlikely. But still, a scary thought.) And then, we have to hope that the embryos grow to the appropriate size (12 cells, I think?) before we can do a transfer. And then, we have to hope that at least one of the embryos implants and decides to stay for awhile. Then, we have to hope that it stays for a full term. And then… well, there’s so much. Add to that the very real concerns of the time BDH is missing at work and the stress of driving so much, so often, and it makes for a stressful time indeed. So it’s just best to try to keep our equilibrium if we can.
So, we take a deep breath (both metaphorically and literally — I am getting good at these transvaginal ultrasounds!), and take each day and each challenge as it comes to us. We celebrate the small victories we have, and take joy in the successes of the people we meet as we go along. And we keep one foot firmly on the ground as we reach for that elusive ray of sunshine.