First IVF consultation

May 1st we had our first consultation for IVF! Our appointment was downtown-ish (Wilshre/Lucas) at 2:30pm. Being an Angeleno I am well aware that ain’t no way we’re getting anywhere near MacArthur Park after 12pm. It was May Day and this year we have many reason to march. So Nick and I left work early, we got to the office around 11am and saw the streets being blocked off behind us as we drove up. We parked in the parking structure and walked up Wilshire to check things out. The businesses we ‘re mostly closed, but a fast/casual Japanese restaurant right across from the office was open so we grabbed lunch at one of the tables facing the street. The march began and we cheered for the people as they passed. I got a call from the office warning me I might have a hard time getting in, but I told them we had it under control and walked right over 30 min before our appt time.

Dr. Baker, our doctor at Kaiser, is also a doctor for USC Fertility. I can’t exactly explain how the whole relationship between the two offices works, but I think because Kaiser doesn’t do IVF, they refer patients to USC. Some of the procedures are still done at Kaiser though… so it’s kind of confusing.

Dr. Baker sat down with us and explained roughly how the process works.

1. start cycle.

2. come in for ultrasound

3. go on birth control for 2.5-3 weeks to supres my ovaries/ follicle development

4. approx 4 days off BC

5. begin injections of follicle stimulating hormones 10-12 days

6. monitoring every other morning (for hormone levels and ultrasound and follicle growth.) (6:30am!!)

7. possible antagonist med. to prevent OHSS (Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome)

8. possible modification of trigger shot (Lupron Trigger)

9. egg retrieval (surgery to remove eggs. Hopefully 20-25 are retrieved)

10. sperms are selected one by one and injected into the eggs (ICSE)

11. embryos grow in the lab

12. day 5(ish) of embryo growth healthy blastocysts are biopsied for genetic testing

13. all embryos are frozen.

14. wait for next cycle to begin

15. ultrasound check up

16. begin estrogen

17. come in for monitoring of the uterine lining

18. approx 19th day of cycle transfer healthy embryo(s) to the uterus

19. progesterone support

20. wait!

We liked the idea of having the embryos tested for genetic abnormalities. The reason we was given for Ninja not surviving is that it was likely due to genetic abnormalities. So the potential to have this risk minimized was very appealing to me. Also THIS is crazy!!!! A living being can be created/ poked and have 1/10th of it’s “body” removed to be tested then the rest of it frozen and then put back in me and SURVIVE??? So someday when our kid is old enough we can explain that they were frozen for a while before they were actually growing into the person they are?? Also when the embryo is frozen, the shell of the egg changes and in order to help with implantation the lab will do what is called assisted hatching, where a small hole is made in the “shell” to help it get out.

Anyway, then we went over to another room and met with our superstar nurse lady Sarah. She is ON IT! She gave us the rundown about the medication and how it will be received and ordered and how to contact her. Basically anytime for anything. She knew what to order from where to get the best prices, too which I totally appreciate!!!

Then to the financial lady. This woman. I don’t know how she ended up in this office. Everyone else is very competent and professional. But man. She is kinda frumpy and not super on it. She ran down all the #’s for us and at then end I was all…. does this account for what is covered by my insurance… she insisted my insurance didn’t cover this. I referred her to the page I gave her that was my authorization letter it had a giant bright pink post it that said “DO NOT LOSE” then she said “oh, yeah, no, I didn’t know…. ” So she said she’d get back to us with updated numbers in a day or so. A day or so came and went. Finally after a week I think she sent us some chicken scratch thing. I swear. I’ve worked in a job where people are dropping 15-20k and If you make their paper work look a little pretty, if not at least legible, it instils a little more confidence that you know what the hell you’re talking about. But I also know that when people act bitchy to me I don’t want to help them, so I will treat this bumbling human kindly and hopefully she gets it together– by some miracle.

Finally Nick and got our blood drawn for OUR genetic screening!!!! We’re had to make sure we weren’t both carriers for anything. We are totally into this!


January 2017. A new year, a fresh start and a renewed sense of ambition and excitement to get this thing done!! As if we have any say in the matter. Let’s Do It! Here we go… for real now! Let’s get pregnant!! We met with Dr. Baker Jan. 18th and she said we should change up the medication, my lining thinning out was not great so we switched to Letrozol instead of Clomid for stimulating my follicles. We also talked to her about the possibility of IVF if the Intrauterine Insemination we were doing this time didn’t work. Like I said before, each time we learn more and things get a little more complex. The IUI would add a new element; Instead of us having intercourse and hoping Nick’s sperm would survive my vagina’s hostile environment the Dr. will take his sample which had been “washed” (concentrating the sperm) and place it directly in my uterus via catheter through my cervix. This gets the sperm as close as possible to the egg and increase our odds of getting pregnant. Meanwhile, as if this wasn’t enough to keep things interesting Nick and I took a big step and decided to refinance his student loans. All the shit people our age(s) do in 2017!

Nick was going to Las Vegas for the annual School Photographers Association of California conference, but when we went to the Dr. the morning of Jan. 25 to see how things were going we were surprised how well I had responded to the Letrazol. I had a GIANT follicle on the left (27mm!!) It was go time!! We ran home and had sex then I took Nick to the airport for his conference but he had to come home early for the IUI. Later that night I did my trigger shot in the bathroom at work. On Thursday I picked Nick up from the airport and on Friday morning Jan. 27th we did the IUI. I also had a urinary tract infection 😦 (this was especially annoying bc I needed to have a full bladder for the procedure but the UTI was making me have to pee every 5 min. I held it as long as I could, laying down after the procedure for a bit, Nick held my hand and was super supportive and goofy with me. Then finally I ran out of the room with the sheet wrapped around me to go pee. Of course I was cursing myself, “What if it doesn’t work bc I didn’t stay laying down longer???”.

Since we weren’t sure if any of this was going to work we decided to start looking into becoming foster parents. Nick and I signed up for the orientation in Whittier on Feb 2nd. We learned a lot about how the process works and decided it was right for us. No matter what happens we want to have a family, and we agreed that we are in a position to help kids who need loving supportive adults to care for them so we started the process.

We waited the 2 weeks. I felt a little different, my boobs were kinda tender but I couldn’t tell if it was just in my head. I took the test Feb 9th and my HcG was 38 mIU/ml (THIRTY EIGHT MILI-INTERNATIONALUNITS OF HUMAN CHORIONIC GONADOTROPIN PER MILLILITER OF BLOOD!! From an embryo!!  Growing inside of ME! Not from the hamster ovary cells!!!)

I got an email from my the doctor’s office to test again and make sure. It should double every couple days… on 2/11 it was 96mIU/ml!!! Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Be cool my baby…. I was too nervous to be excited. But I was excited, in my own way. Nick was EXCITED in his usual excited way!!!!!! I was pretty tired and trying to take it easy but I also have a hard time stopping myself from lifting and pulling and moving things at work. It was hard to pay attention to these things when I didn’t feel any different really.

On Fedb. 14th we went to the DCFS office and got fingerprinted for the LiveScan background check. Waiting in the office we saw people there with their foster kids (although they don’t use that term. We are considered Resource Parents, not foster parent… so these were Resource kids??) They were there having visits with the kid’s biological parents. It was not the nicest place to hang out, it had the requisite cheap institutional grade disinfectant smell. Nick’s fingers wouldn’t scan because they were so beat up from work — he had an instal that day. This was not the most romantic way to spend Valentine’s day but it made me SO happy. We went out on the 15th for V-day dinner at Crossroads and it was worth the wait. We were so excited about all the things in the works and the food was great!

We couldn’t do much but wait for me to get to the 6 week mark before an ultrasound could pick up anything. I was excited and anxious bc I really didn’t feel much at all. We already started with the week by week belly pictures, and I ordered a t-shirt that had the weeks on it to count down. Nick kept calling our embryo Hodor bc the follicle was so big. I wasn’t sure if I liked the nickname but I went with it, hoping the name wouldn’t stick.

Feb 25th & 26th we went to our Resource Family classes at Citrus College. Each day was about 7 hours. It was intense. I cried a lot listening to stories of what kids had been through. We had a couple sitting next to us, Aaron and Vanessa, who were also looking to adopt. Aaron grew up in the foster system and had stories that were heartbreaking but also reminded us of why we NEED to do this. People are terrible. Lot’s of people foster for the money. It’s not even that much money, but people take it and neglect the kids. The kids who wind up in the system have already been through something traumatic, they need someone to be an advocate for them and help them through this hard time. I’m so glad we went to these classes and made some friends who will be going through the same process we are.

On Feb 28th I had my U/S. On the monitor there was a gestational sac and yolk, but no heartbeat. My online searches lead me to a wide array of experiences. Some people could see the heartbeat at 6 weeks, some people couldn’t. My hCG was up to 7517mIU/ml which was good… so we waited another week. I went back on March 8th and there was still no heartbeat and no fetal pole. I was bummed. We were talking about my options for “removing the pregnancy” if it didn’t progress. I felt sick when I got home, looking at the descriptions of the procedures made me feel dizzy. I asked Dr. Baker if we could wait one more week before doing anything… just in case.

On the March 11th we went to our pre-placement class at Citrus and completed the final required training to become a Resource Family!!

I was exhausted. I think this was the most emotional thing I have been through in a long time. Nick and I leaned on each other. I know it was hard for him too. He reminded me to be positive, and my mom reminded me to be positive, but in my gut I felt like the pregnancy was over and then felt guilty for being negative. I went back to Dr. Baker on March 14th and to our surprise at 8 weeks we saw a heartbeat!!!! It was very tiny and slow, 64bpm.

Still, I was so exited to tell Nick!! I gave him the U/S printout of our teeny little sneaky Ninja baby…. The name that replaced ‘Hodor’. Dr. Baker did warn me though that something wasn’t right, and that the embryo looked more like 6 weeks. We waited for another week to see how things would go.

Nicks mom Jean came down that weekend so we could celebrate her birthday with her, she brought the crib that Nick used when he was a baby, and all the bedding that she made for him! I was so so touched. I really hoped that we would put our baby in there someday in the not too distant future.

March 24th I went back to Dr Baker and there was no heartbeat. Everything had stopped. I was sad and didn’t want to have to decide what to do about it, but I had to. Waiting to miscarry on my own could take weeks and it seemed like taking care of it while everything was smaller was a better way to go. I had to choose weather to have the D&C procedure (Dilation and Curettage is where the cervix is dilated and the doctor uses a “special instrument” – I imagined a long bar spoon with a twisty handle, to scrape the uterine lining) or to take a pill called Misoprostol, which would cause contractions to expel the pregnancy. Decisions, decisions.

This is going to sound crazy, but I didn’t want to be knocked out, I didn’t want a doctor to take it out of me while I lay unconscious. I wanted to feel the pain and grieve in my own way. And truthfully I wanted to see it. I was so skeptical of this Ninja baby that was inside of me. I know that sounds weird but that’s what I wanted. I went home and took the first pills (vaginal suppositories) at 1:39p and at 2:10p I took a horse pill ibuprofen. By 2:45p I was having chills and felt very cold. My nail beds looked bluish. I had cramps and was gassy. I tried to distract myself by watching some TV but the pain from the cramps was not something I could ignore. I took a little nap somehow, and Nick made me some potato soup. We stretched out on the couch and watched more TV. Sometime around 8 or 9pm the bleeding started. It was very heavy and the cramping was intense. I was searching the clots that passed looking for something that looked like the pink image of a floating back lit embryo that was present in every open tab on my laptop and phone. Finally a small clear fluid filled sac passed. I couldn’t see anything in it. I took the next pill and went to sleep. I slept for 9 hours and even though I didn’t bleed overnight the bleeding was really heavy when I stood up in the morning. It continued for like 10 days? Way longer than a normal period for me. Towards the end it was pretty terrible. There was a smell that I cannot describe. I’ve smelled it before, wafting from homeless ladies on the bus. I was extremely self conscious and could not change my pads enough to try and get rid of it. I still wouldn’t have done the D&C which would have removed everything at once. But I hope I never have to go through that experience again.

Aside from the bleeding I was feeling normal and kind of wanted to be out of the house and out of this situation. We decided to join my Bike Gang for a day out to go see the poppies. There is something strange but so comforting about being around a bunch of close friends, a lot of whom had no idea what I was going through, so I could talk about other things and feel better for the moment. We had to cut it short because Nick left his car at the shop to be serviced and we had to pick it up. After he got his car I told him he should go see a movie with his friend Duch since I wasn’t interested in that movie and thought I’d go see something else. But then when my plans fell through I decided to just go home. Once I was back home alone some deep sadness set in. I cried it out and was mad that Nick had left me alone even though I TOLD him to go. I guess I wasn’t aware of how much it would affect me. We talked and I explained how I felt. He was sorry even though it wasn’t his fault. We ended up going to see Guardian’s of the Galaxy on Sunday night and I started to feel better.

I had to wait much longer for my hCG levels to drop this time. We decided to get moving on the IVF stuff. May 1st we had our consultation and our minds were blown by how futuristic and crazy the treatment sounded!!!! May 3rd I got my period and my hCG was low enough for us to begin another round of treatment. We didn’t have our Letter of Authorization for IVF from Kaiser yet (I have really good insurance that actually covers a big chunk of the treatment.) So we decided to do another IUI while we waited for the letter. I am not one to linger on the past… so we got right to it. We knew the drill and things moved quickly, but this IUI wasn’t successful.

We ordered baby safe paint for the crib Jean gave us and met with our social worker for DCFS. We also took more classes for services from UCLA for when we eventually get placed with a child.

And the beat goes on…..

Hey Cyster!

I went in for the ultrasound day 4 of my next cycle. I had some cysts which is common for me after my period. Some of the follicles that develop keep growing even though an egg has released and they should just go away. In my younger days I had a couple times where an ovarian cyst had grown as big as a baseball. The last time this happened I was in at the gym when one I didn’t know I had ruptured. I was in a lot of pain and had to be picked up. My gynecologist put me on birth control. I asked if that was the only way to prevent them, since I didn’t really want or need to be on the pill, she said it was. I thought about risking it and getting them very occasionally, it’s seriously like one every 5-10 years. Actually, the reason went on birth control when I was 16 was due to an ovarian cyst, not sexytimes. But when she told me it was possible for a cyst to grow so large that it could twist the ovary, cutting off the blood supply and lessening my ability to conceive in the future, I just took the prescription.  At this time I was 31? 32? I guess my clock was quietly ticking, because what she told me caused a bit of soul searching and some unexpected crying. I had no idea what I wanted but some part of me wanted the option to have kids.

I shouldn’t have been shocked this time when my fertility doctor told me I needed to go on the pill for 3 weeks to get rid of the cyst. But it seemed so wrong! We’re trying to get pregnant and I have to take a contraceptive? Anyway, I followed her instructions and met back up Dec 6th 2016. Everything had resolved and we were good to continue. I took Clomid for 5 days, starting the Saturday of Santa Con! (ADULT!) We went on an awesome getaway w/ friends to Yosemite and then when we came back we had another ultrasound to see how my follicles responded. I had 2 contenders, a 13mm follicle and a 17mm follicle. However, Clomid sometimes causes your lining to stay thinner than it needs to be for embryo implantation. (I have a suspicion that the adverse side affects– that happen to affect other things NECESSARY for being able to conceive are not coincidental. My suspicions about a lot of these things will get their own post soon!) I was prescribed Estradiol (vaginal suppository of estrogen) and it helped a little. We went ahead with the plan: on 12/23 we had our prescribed sex, then the prescribed hamster injection, then x-mas eve more prescribed sex, then x-mas morning sex, then after a hike we had Game of Thrones sex (ummm nothing crazy, we just happened to watch GOT after.) I was hopeful because we did it way more than last time and it was a stress free time. Days off helped. But sadly after 2 weeks (the longest two weeks…..) my test was negative.

I feel like this round was a last push for the year. The office is closed for x-mas and that would have been when we needed to do the IUI if we were going that route. Timed intercourse wasn’t working so we decided next round we would for sure do IUI.

***Bonus Cystory Lesson***

One time when I had an ovarian cyst –this is when I was 22 maybe? I was googling a bunch of stuff bc I really didn’t understand how it all works. I came upon a description of a type of cyst that now haunts me. It is called a Dermoid cyst of the ovary. It contains “a diversity of tissues including HAIR, TEETH, bone, thyroid, etc.” It develops from a totipotential germ cell (a primary oocyte) that is retained within the egg site. (Those were not the types of cysts I was getting, for the record.) A normal person might be like “Eew. no.” but I was like “hm. what do those look like????” and thanks to the interwebs now I know. And so do you mwahahahahahha. (I know you’re looking! Bleh. Stop.)