Monday, January 10, 2011

"That's Not Supposed to be There!"

Warning: Detailed account of our IVF process, including detailed descriptions of procedures done to check out my reproductive health. You may want to steer clear of this post if words like "uterus," "cervix," and "speculum" freak you out!

Our first cycle of IVF is moving along beautifully. We are now 2.5 weeks in, and so far, so good. When I last posted an update, we had had some blood work done, and had just started Lupron (the drug used to shut my body down for a month before ramping it up). The Lupron shots are a piece of cake and I've been able to give them to myself most days. A few days I have totally psyched myself out and not been able to actually stick the needle in, so I had to call in my reinforcement, Ronnie. It no longer leaves a red mark and rarely itches, so I guess my body is getting used to it. I'm on Lupron for another 2.5 weeks. The only other addition in my daily routine is that I've been taking prenatal vitamins. I've had very few side effects from either. Some say on Lupron you can get hot flashes, I haven't experienced any. The only issue I've had (and I'm not sure if it's from the Lupron or the prenatal vitamins) is I've not had much of an appetite and felt a little bit nauseous. Nothing horrible, just a little bit uneasy feeling and I feel hungry, but as soon as food hits my stomach, it feels full. Also, I was prescribed a z-pack to take the 2 days before, the day of, and 2 days after the diagnostic tests I'll talk about in a second...

While we assume I don't have any infertility problems, they still have to check everything out. So last week I went to have a few more diagnostic tests done, both tests are used to look at the uterus and make sure there aren't any issues in shape and check that there are no cysts or polyps. The first test I had done was a Sonohysterogram. This one was done in my infertility doc's office. I was a little nervous about it because I read that it can be uncomfortable, but it wasn't too bad. So here's how they do it:

To perform the procedure a device called a speculum is used to open the vagina and expose the cervix. The doctor cleans and sometimes numbs the cervix (I believe my doctor just cleaned). They clean with a little foam pad looking device and you can't really feel anything but a little pressure. Then the doc inserts a small tube through the cervix and into the uterus. For me, this was easier said then done, and the worst part of the whole thing. Turns out, I have a tough cervix to get through - maybe because I'm small, but mainly because I haven't had any kids. He tried to feed the tube through - which feels like you're being pinched/stabbed in your nother-regions - several times before deciding to use a dilator, a tool that allows them to slowly make the opening just big enough to then feed the tube through. **At this point, my doctor did something that was not part of the Sonohysterogram. He did what he refers to as a mock transfer. In which he measured the depth and angle of my uterus, two things that will help him know where to put the embryos during the transfer. Additionally, he made note of the trouble getting through my cervix, so the day of the transfer he can get through my cervix with ease, not disrupting everything. Now, back to the Sonohysterogram - The tube pumps a harmless, sterile saline solution into the uterus, which expands the uterus and makes it easier to see. Then, the doctor uses the ultrasound probe in the vagina to generate an image of the expanded uterus for a few minutes. This is where we ran into a little scare. The doctor had my uterus up on the screen and said, "Wow, that's not supposed to be there," pointing to a big blob attached to the inside of my uterus. He began telling us that it looks like it could be a cyst, which would mean surgery, but they first would try to "knock it loose" with the water they were filling me with. I just about lost it. I felt a lump in my throat forming, but tried to play it cool and wait to see if they could knock it off. Luckily, after a few blasts of water, the blob just disappeared, like magic. He was very shocked, but please and confident that it was just left over tissue from my last period, so we were back on track. He took a few pictures of my uterus and after examining the image of the uterus, he removed the probe, and the saline solution drained...and drained...and drained from the uterus. They are nice enough to give you a GIANT pad (we're talking practically a diaper) to wear home to keep your car from turning into a slip and slide. All in all, it was an easy procedure, the scare of the cyst was just a scare, and the worst part was getting in through Fort Knox, I mean my cervix.

The next procedure that I had done last week was a Hysterosalphingogram, which was done at a medical imagine center. This is much like the Sonohysterogram, but instead of water, this time it's contrast and you're on what looks like a giant xray table. Once filled with liquid, they pulled this GIANT machine over my tummy, and looked at my uterus, ovaries and tubes on a screen - just like a sonogram would look, but instead of being transvaginal this time, it was over-top of me. This was pretty incredible, you could actually see my uterus, tubes and ovaries clear as day. They pumped the liquid into the uterus and watch it to make sure it fills the tubes and the ovaries, this checks for any blockages in the tubes, etc. Again, this one was quick, and relatively painless.

Both tests weren't bad, just gave me some cramping (which felt much like menstrual cramps.) We were pleased to find out that everything checked out perfectly and that we're still on track for an end of January egg fest :)

We have our next appointment on January 17th for an Ultrasound, physical exam and PreART consult with the RN. We'll update after that! Keep the process in your prayers! So far, so good!