The InVitro Experience Part #1

InVitro. Prior to Autumn 2018, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. Now, I have the full knowledge of experience to formulate my opinion. I’ll launch this article on my conclusions then walk you through the process if you’re interested.

  • I was most surprised about…having to give myself my own shots.
  • I was most upset about…Being told I had to stay on the meds (aka continue injections) up until my second trimester.
  • I was most happy about…getting pregnant! Having it work!
  • I was most worried about…Losing the babies
  • The hardest part was…Giving myself injections and keeping my stress low
  • I was most frustrated about…The lack of understanding about how many meds we would need and how much they would cost.
  • Biggest regret…Not doing this when I was 20 so I could have 20 perfect eggs ready to use for my husband to fertilize. Because of my age we got 3 eggs, and one didn’t make it.
  • Glad I…started pre-natal vitamins when I did!

 

  • Is it worth it? Yes
  • Would I do it again? Yes
  • Is it expensive? FUCK YES! $20,000 and we had to pay out of pocket. The meds are what cost so much.
  • Does is hurt? YES! The daily injections do.
  • How many and what kind of meds? STUPID AMOUNTS! In all honesty? HcG Injection, Prednisone, Aspirin low dose, progesterone vaginal depository, Estradiol, Progesterone Oil injection daily for 4 months, Gonal (14+ injections), and a “Trigger” injection, which is explained below.
  • How long does it take? Plan on one full month to start because you have to wait for your menstrual cycle to begin. At this time, they recommend starting pre-natal vitamins. Then, one full month starting at the beginning of a menstrual cycle just to grow the eggs. Another full month starting at the beginning of a menstrual cycle to prepare the body for implantation.

 

  • It was also exciting, stressful, relaxing, wonderful, scary, and so very worth it.

Here’s the scoop.

 

I just got back from my family doctor this morning. Now. This doctor has been my doctor since I was 12 years old. She was there for my rapes, my physicals, my STD testing (all negative), My first period, all my pregnancies, my parent’s divorce…This woman is a second mother to me. So when I went to see her today I burst into tears and told her all about how horrible the experience was and how much I hate the Fertility Clinic…and I plan to do it all again in 2020.

Stage #1 – Prep (3 to 6 months of prenatal vitamins and healthcare)

 

In August, I scheduled a consultation, drove 2 hours north to meet with a doctor on my options. I had planned on a reversed tubal litigation. I am 38 with hypothyroidism, and (at the time), was on Lexapro and Lamotrogine. I was told right off by the doctor not to do the reversal because a) there is an increase risk of ectopic with a reversal, and b), I’m 38 and I may require InVitro afterall making the money spent on the reversal to be useless.

I was told to start taking prenatal vitamins right away. That I did do. And boy am I thrilled!

I learned later that it takes three months to develop one egg. Eggs are rated based on health, which is primarily determined by

  • Nutrition
  • Smoking vs. Non-Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Drugs
  • Caffeine
  • Pre-natal vitamins
  • Exercise

If a woman eats well, exercises, limits caffeine (less than 200 mcg), takes her vitamins, doesn’t smoke or drink, and keeps her stress low she will most likely develop near perfect eggs. A near perfect egg is most likely to fertilize, survive the transfer, freeze and thaw without stalling out, not have genetic mutations, and implant. Now, when you spend $20,000 out of pocket and they only harvest three eggs, it matters that they survive. They harvested seven eggs. Three were mature enough to fertilize. Three did fertilize. Three made it to day 3. Two made it to day 5. Two were transferred and at least one of them implanted. The two eggs that survived were near perfect quality. In 2020, my husband and I are doing this one more time to get one (or two more children). Here’s the problem. If I had done this when I was 20, they would have been able to harvest 24+ eggs from me. They could have selected the highest quality. At 38, they only had two eggs. In short, we have to pay out an additional $12,000 in 2020 to repeat this process.

If I could tell myself anything it would be an outline of this experience.

 

Stage #1 – Prep (3 to 6 months of prenatal vitamins and healthcare)

Stage #2 – Injection Week – Egg Development

Stage #3a – Retrieval

Stage #3b – Embryo Freezing

Stage #4 – Injection Week – Pregnancy Prep

Stage #5 – Implantation

Stage #6 – Wait

 

So in August, we came up with a plan.

  • Get off the meds
  • Get a “clean bill of health” from my Doctor
  • Get the thyroid under control
  • Start taking pre-natal vitamins
  • Get bloodwork drawn
  • Track my periods (This is vital)

In August, I met with my primary who approved the clean bill and I had 9 vials of blood drawn. Nine. With a pregnancy, they take 6 vials just to give you some perspective. My primary met back with my and I learned that the estrogen levels in my body were off the charts (my family are breeders). If I didn’t have my tubes tied, I’d have 13 children by now.

In September, I was able to cross all this off my list. It was just a matter of tapering myself off the bad meds. I learned that my hormone levels were still so strong that, had I not had my tubes tied, I would have had dozens of babies. That made me smile. Two major hormones are needed to get pregnant: estrogen and progesterone.

In October, I tapered even more off my meds, enjoyed my last taste of alcohol until 2025, and waited for my next period when treatment would begin.

 

Stage #2 – Injection Week – Egg Development

November 2018 “Make them Grow”

The goal? To force development on my eggs and make them the most healthy for harvest.

Medications: Z-Pack, Gonal, HcG, Trigger injections, prenatal vitamins

Now, one aspect I was not aware of in this was the “When Factor.” The When Factor is important and can seriously screw everything up. You see, the “Make Them Grow” stage all revolves around the date your period begins. Which, for me, happened to fall around Thanksgiving and Black Friday alongside with  Christmas rush so I had to make sure everything arrived on time despite the holiday. Miss an injection, and you have to buy more meds and start ALL OVER. Time matters! Screw up and you’re out $3,000. I repeat. Screw up and you loose $3,000.

In November, one week before Thanksgiving, my courses began. I called the clinic. They told me to come in for an exam, which had to be within the first two days of menses.

The examines consisted of vitals, vaginal ultrasound, blood work, and instructions on “how to take your meds.”

The FC wanted me back three times that week so they could check the progress of the eggs. I call that week “Injection Week.” Three two-hour drives at virtually no warning to put the time off from work. And I had to hope my co-workers hadn’t asked for time off for the holiday. The stress was hell, not to mention the sudden need to fill my gas tank three times that week plus the last minute groveling to my manager to let me out of work three times that week on such a short notice during Holiday PTO requests. To be honest, my manager was wonderful about it and my employer was very cooperative. My pay check took a massive hit at a time when I needed the money the most. When I tried to probe the FC for more information, “When can I expect to miss more work,” their answers were vague and mostly consisted of telling me, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” After explaining that I had a day job to report to and that I needed to get permission from my manager preferably more than 6 hours in advance, they were a little less…hm…ditzy about their answers.

I was given a medicinal instruction sheet for 10 days and  given “how to shoot myself with needles” lessons. Also, I was told to contact a specific pharmacy that specializes in meds. This pharmacy was a separate entity from the Clinic. “We put the order in. Just call them up. They will ship it to your house and you will have everything you need.

*Scoffs* No. I will not have “everything I need,” but I’ll get to that in a moment.

I called the pharmacy and paid out $2,600 for this “box.” The “box” turned out to be two styrofoam freezer chests filled with meds needing to be refrigerated.

 

So the meds arrived. The injections began. What was I injecting? HcG and Gonal.

Now here is where I started to get really pissed. My BFF was a phlebotomist and a diabetic. My husband was an EMT in Boston for three years. Apparently the “how to give yourself a shot” lessons I received were incorrect or not thorough. When they saw how many bruises covered my body, they both gave me proper instructions. Two injections in my belly for 10 days. Within 24 hours I was covered in welts and bruises. By day 8, I was a mess. Self-injections are a form of self-mutilation. There is an unexplored psychology to this insanity. I have no idea how diabetics do it.

I made the drive down. They examined my eggs. Everything was growing in all the right ways.

“We want to see you on Friday,” They said. Great! Now, if the eggs are ready to harvest on Friday (Black Friday, mind you) then we can harvest on Saturday…OR…I have to come back on Monday and proceed with injections.

“I work 700 AM to 5:30 PM on Monday. Let’s shoot for Friday.”

My eggs did not cooperate.

Now, Gonal is an expensive little bastard at $350 per bottle. I would need one bottle per day for 10 days…IF my body developed the eggs on time. If the eggs did not develop on time, the Gonal would have to continue until further notice. At $350/day this could get expensive. On day 8, I realized my math wasn’t adding up. I had only 10 bottles of Gonal total, but had been told to stay on Gonal for a possible of 14 days. I called the pharmacy and they said, “Yes, you will need more Gonal.” I called the FC. “Yes, you will need more Gonal.” I thought, but you said, I would have everything I need! Apparently not. A phone call and $1,400 later, I had everything I need…I thought…Let’s say instead I had everything I needed to get started.

I was really pissed that no one at the FC told me, “Oh, by the way, you will need to “refill your prescription” AKA the “box.” Yes. That $2,600 box comes with 3 un-paid refills. More on that in a moment…

We ordered the extra 4 bottles of Gonal, I submitted for the time off at work, and focused on not getting stressed over the loss of money and the expense of meds. On Monday they decided I come back on Wednesday. **sigh** Another day of work lost. Mind you, keep the stress down. Did I mention I JUST came off my anxiety meds and was going through severe Lexapro withdrawals?

Wednesday came and the examine confirmed we are ready for retrieval.

Enter the “trigger” shot.

The Trigger shot consisted of two injections that stop all the Gonal and HcG meds. It prepares the body for harvest. No more injections! Yeah! Yeah right…

At this point, I had received 27 injections. I missed more than 30 hours of work. I had to fill my tank 7 times.

 

Retrieval Day…To be continued 21 January 2019

 

About the Author: Angela