Yesterday I went in for my IVF treatment day 8 ultrasound. The drive there, I hoped and hoped that my 11 follicles were still there follicling. It would totally be my luck, I figured, to have ovulated through the ganirelix and have a cancelled cycle.

But when the dildo cam went up to do its thing, even the nurse started freaking out. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” she kept saying. I had 20+ beautiful follicles.  My sleepy left ovary had suddenly decided to throw a rager. Every move of the dildo cam revealed another big follicle. The nurse couldn’t even count them all. Mainly because all she could do was say “oh my god.” Apparently for someone with an amh of 0.04, 20 follicles is unheard of.

There’s still several steps to getting those suckers out of my body. But regardless, I couldn’t wait to celebrate. And then I remembered…until after the retrieval on Monday, I’m not drinking, I’m not eating anything that tastes good, and I’m so tired from the medication, I can’t really do anything but sit. But in my mind, I’m throwing myself a little party. Steamed broccoli and chicken breast, anyone?

My Stomach, the pin cushion

Well, it’s happening. And by “it” I mean shots. And by “shots” I mean stims, which is a term us in the infertile hood use to describe the stuff that makes our ovaries blow up.

Last Wednesday I started giving myself 225IU of Menopur in the belly and 225IU of Follistim in the belly. I like to think that when it comes to giving myself shots in the belly, I’m a bit of an expert. I’ve been giving myself a shot of lovenox in the belly every night for almost a year. So when the nurse at our RE’s office ran through the injection instructions and played the videos showing us how to inject the stims, my husband and I sat there all cocky thinking about how the poor hand model they cast for these videos had no idea what she was walking into on that particular day of work. At least, that’s what I was thinking about. My husband was likely thinking about lunch.

When my meds arrived earlier last week, I shut them all in a cabinet and didn’t give them much thought until 9pm on Wednesday night rolled around. And then, it was go-time. We unpackaged all the little bottles, containers, syringes, and sterile wipes in our family room and I set up my laptop to replay the instructional videos – you know, because even experts like us could use a little refresher. And then, we got going. And by “got going” I mean that shit started hitting the fan.

Menopur is one complicated bitch. My particular dosing involves four different bottles: one bottle of diluent and three bottles of the actual little powdery medicine. To prepare the injection you actually have to take your syringe, put a special cap on it to draw up the medication from one bottle, then inject it into the next bottle, draw that up, then inject it all into the next bottle and so on and so forth until all four bottles are now in the syringe ready to make magic happen in the layer of fat hiding under my waistband.

The video, of course, made it look rather easy – just pull on the plunger and up comes the solution. Ha ha. Not so. The syringe kept pulling in air with the occasional drop of solution and it looked nothing like the hand model’s perfectly full syringe in the video. After 7 or 8 attempts with no more luck, my computer froze. Like completely froze. Here it was, now 9:30 pm on the night it was imperative that we get this stuff in my body, thousands and thousands of dollars lay in our hands, and we couldn’t figure out how to make any of it work. I almost threw up. My husband had to set down the vials, now representative of our savings account, and leave the room.

Finally, we decided to lose the special cap on the syringe and just use a needle to draw up the solution and mix it. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. And each night has gotten substantially easier.

Now, on day 7 of stims we have a little routine where my husband pretends he’s a chemist and prepares all the injections while I search for an available spot on my black and blue belly and then inject myself. We added ganirelex injections to the list on Sunday to keep me from ovulating early. So now, including the lovenox, I have four different injections each night and sometimes five if I’m at the end of a cartridge on the follistim pen. In the mornings, I can’t help but lift up my shirt and stare at my marked up stomach. Each bruise and bump feels like a badge of courage awarded to me by the Infertile Powers That Be.

At last count, I have 11 follicles growing. The nurses all say that is extraordinary for someone with an AMH as low as mine (0.04). But the little overachiever inside me can’t help but feel a little disappointed by the number. In my dreams, my ovaries are exploding with so many eggs that they start shooting out of my lady parts and it takes a team full of doctors with woven baskets to collect them all.

The Egg Retrieval is scheduled for this coming Monday. And, in addition to getting these little suckers safely out of my body, all I can think about are the carbs I’m going to finally allow myself. I don’t care if I’m all drugged up from the anesthesia, I’m going to plop a bagel in my mouth that, at that time, may or may not be capable of chewing.

Return of The Dragon Lady


[Quick sidenote: Well, this is awkward. It’s been almost two months since my last post, which means I should definitely be fired from this whole blogging thing. Good thing I’m my own boss on this blog, and will therefore allow myself to keep on writing randomness with reckless abandon. The reason for my absence is that work has been nonstop over the last two months. And since I am now a freelancer about to throw a boatload of money toward IVF, that’s good news. Thanks for understanding. Now back to our regularly scheduled weirdness]

The Dragon Lady and I had a breakup back in September,  but it was the totally unawkward kind of breakup where we just stopped seeing each other and didn’t bother with the half attempts at explanations. If I had tried to explain it, I don’t think the “you told me I was having triplets when I wasn’t even pregnant” argument would have gone over so well with her. But it wasn’t just that. The main reason I stopped seeing her was because that voice in my head that sporadically pipes up to tell me that this is all a lost cause got deafeningly loud. So yeah, basically I ghosted the Dragon Lady.

But, now that we are about to drop a totally ridiculous amount of money on IVF, I’m going all-in on everything. I’m all-in on this whole fruits and veggies thing. I’m all-in on nasty wheatgrass shots. I’m all-in on no caffeine, no starches, and no alcohol. Okay, starting tomorrow. And I’m all-in on no chemicals, no phthalates, and no deodorant that actually works. And so it only seems right that I should also be all-in again with the Dragon Lady. That way, if things don’t work out, I won’t have the constant weight of “what if?” on my shoulders. I’ll have done all there is to do.

So after 6 Dragon Ladyless months, I scheduled an appointment and instantly turned into a barrel of nerves. Would she yell at me? Would she put needles in my eyes? Would she light me on fire and point out all my acne? Would I understand what she was saying anymore? Seriously, I had gotten really good at understanding the Dragon Lady’s short verbal assaults in broken English, but now I was out of practice.

The day of my appointment, as I lay there on the table, waiting for the Dragon Lady to enter the room, I brace myself. There will be lots of yelling, I just know it. Lots of tongue examining, pulse feeling, belly inspecting and yelling.

The door opens, and suddenly there I am face to face with the woman who will officially rip me a new one and then jab needles into it. And then it starts, the verbal assaulting.  “hi hun! How doing?!”

Wait a minute…

“I miss you. Want so bad you have baby.”

Um, who is this woman and what has she done with The Dragon Lady?

“Let me feel pulse. Then I see”

I hand her my wrist and she holds it, closing her eyes in concentration. Then I see it – a wave of true Dragon Ladyness wash over her face. There she is, the woman I have come to see today. Her eyes fling open, but inside her eye sockets there is only fire.

“No good! No good! No baby!”

I tell her how good I’ve still been. How I’ve even kept burning myself…sometimes. And that I am all-in for this IVF cycle.

“Pulse bad! Hormone bad! Kidney yang bad!”

I explain to her the protocol all my doctors now have me on, and that we have 6 weeks until the egg retrieval.

“Lot of work! Lot of work to do, hun!”

This, I figured. But I’m willing. Because, after all, I am all-in. So bring it on Dragon Lady.

And she does. By the time I leave her office an hour later, I am armed with four new supplements to add to my vast collection, strict orders to burn myself until I am bright red, and a mental list of all the things I cannot eat. Which, is basically everything.  And I am also armed with some words that surprise me.

“I pray for you. Tonight, tomorrow, I pray.”

Of all the things I had expected to happen this visit, this was not one of them. I’m not a huge prayer person, though over the last two years, I’ve definitely sent some prayers up to the man/woman/thing above about all this. But that voice in my head that sporadically pipes up to tell me that this is all a lost cause told me that praying wouldn’t make two craps’ worth of difference. So I’d given up on that front. But The Dragon Lady hadn’t.  She’s praying. So maybe I should too.

After all, I’m all-in.