Mock Embryo Transfer

I’ve been slacking on the blogging, so today is a double post kind of day! This morning I had my mock embryo transfer/sonohysterogram. I went into it a little nervous because I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. They essentially do this procedure before an IVF cycle to practice for the big day. They want to make sure there aren’t any surprises, such as a strange position of the cervix or anything blocking the uterus that could impede implantation.

I read many different perspectives about the procedure, from it being just like an IUI, to it being worse than an HSG test, so I popped three tylenol just in case! Turns out it was no big deal for me and felt very similar to an IUI. I felt the pinching when the catheter was inserted and a little pressure when they injected the saline — maybe a 2/10 on the pain scale. Everything looked good, so we can check this off the list. It is very exciting to think that the next time they do that it will be the real deal! Next on the list is nine more days of birth control pills, pre-IVF ultrasound and bloodwork, and then I start stims.

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IUI Survival Guide

I don’t want to brag, but I consider myself a bit of an old pro at intrauterine insemination (IUI), so I thought I would blog about some tips and tricks that I learned over the past six months of treatment. If you’re new to my blog, I’ll start by telling you that IUI didn’t work for me — but it does work for many people and I think there are a lot of good reasons to start with a low tech option like IUI before you move on to IVF.

It really is low-tech
IUI is MUCH less invasive. The procedure is outpatient and seriously over in about five minutes (15 minutes if you count the 10 minutes that ask you to stay laying down after the procedure.) Seriously. The first one I had, I was shocked by how quick it was. I’m pretty sure I said, “Really, that’s it?” They literally shoot the washed sperm through a small catheter and into your uterus. You lay down for a few minutes, and then you’re done!

It is cost effective, compared to other options
Depending on the cost of your medication, IUI can be very affordable. Compared to IVF, which can cost $10K+, IUI only costs around $300-$700 plus the cost of your medication. Medication could bump it up a lot though, depending on what you’re taking and what your insurance covers. Generally, if you’re starting with a less aggressive approach, medications like Clomid and Femara are very cheap. Once you get into injectables, the price increases drastically. Your insurance may cover IUI, even if they don’t cover IVF.

It may hurt a little bit
I went into my first IUI thinking it would be smooth sailing, so I was surprised to feel some brief pain when they inserted the catheter. It was nothing major, but since I would told it was a painless procedure, it did catch me off guard. One more fun experience to add to the poking and prodding!

You can still try on your own
I liked that we could still try to conceive on our own during an IUI cycle. We were able to try up until the night before the IUI, when they asked us to abstain to build up hubby’s supply. We were also encouraged to have sex the night of the IUI. You probably won’t be in the mood and a little sore, but it is worth it if it ups your chance of success. *Every situation is different, so always take the advice of your doctor when it comes to timing sex.

Your doctor has less control
I always thought that most multiples resulted from IVF, but it turns out many twins and higher order multiples come from IUI because your doctor has much less control. IVF has improved to the point where single embryo transfers are frequently recommended, greatly reducing the number of resulting twin pregnancies. With IUI, the goal is usually to have 2-3 mature follicles, so you’re always at risk of multiples. It can be a cruel game of hoping it works, but doesn’t work TOO well.

Get ready to leak
After IUI, you’ll most likely be put on progesterone suppositories to make sure you have enough progesterone to support a pregnancy. These little jelly bean-like pills are inserted right into your vagina and then slowly dissolve throughout the day. Pantyliners will be your new best friends.

Your chances are improved, but not that much
I was surprised to find out that based on our diagnosis and ages, with IUI our chances of pregnancy were about 16%. While that is better than the 1-2% that our doctor told us we were looking at after trying to conceive for 1.5 years on our own, we were still a little disappointed that the chances weren’t higher. With IVF, the chances are much higher, but so is the cost, time commitment, and physical toll.

It’s a time commitment
Because each cycle has no more than a 20% chance of working, my doctor recommended doing 3-4 IUIs before we moved on to IVF. I became discouraged after the first two because I was so ready for something to work, but ultimately was glad we ended up doing 4 IUIs (plus a cycle where I took meds but over-responded). I felt like I had fully exhausted that option and was ready to move on.

 

Hello Cycle Day 1

Today is a special cycle day 1 because it marks the end of regular TTC and IUI, and the beginning of IVF. I’m not feeling too sad because I had very little hope for this last natural cycle. Instead, I’m allowing myself to feel excited and optimistic about IVF. Tomorrow is our big appointment with our RE and our nurse to discuss IVF protocol and ask all our IVF questions. Then I’ll go on birth control for 2.5 weeks before a technically new cycle begins and I start stimming. I’ll post an update on our protocol when I find out the details tomorrow.

Don’t Worry, They’ll Bloom Soon

Yesterday was a rough day for me. Another failed cycle — our last try with IUI. My sweet hubby brought me home my favorite cookies and these beautiful sunflowers (my favorite since I was a child and grew them in my pappy’s garden). There wasn’t much to say or do or analyze about this cycle. It is over and now we need to move forward.  Instead of the usual post-mortem, he just hugged me and said, “Don’t worry, they’ll bloom soon.” Sometimes all you need are sunflowers, cookies, and a little faith.

Sunflowers, my favorites

Sunflowers, my favorites

10 DPO Update

I haven’t been updating during my TWW because I’ve been trying to keep busy and not think too much about it. Easier said than done! I did test out my trigger shot with Wondfo strips, and it *seemed* to be out of my system on 7dpo. On 8dpo I had a very faint positive, but I tempered my excitement because I knew it could still be traces of my trigger. Since then, I’ve had negatives on 9dpo and this morning at 10dpo. My temperature has been all over the place as well.

I’m trying not to get upset, but this round was high stakes because it is our last IUI before we move on to IVF. It was also our first time using only injectables. Some days it feels like I’m just going through the motions and I’m not surprised by another negative cycle, but other days it cuts very deep and makes me extremely anxious and sad.

IUI Swan Song

Goodnight NYC

Goodnight NYC

I’m writing from my hotel in NYC. Check out my beautiful view! Today we had what will be our last IUI. If we aren’t successful, we’ll take a little break and then start IVF in the fall. We found out yesterday that because of hubby’s low morphology on two semen analyses, our insurance will allow us to move forward with IVF before completing our required six IUIs.

I’m feeling good about the cycle, and know we’re finishing up this phase of treatment on a high note.  I had two mature follicles and hubby’s count was the best yet at 17 million post-wash. My lining was 8.25, by far the thickest yet, meaning the switch to injectables did the trick.

If this doesn’t work, we’ll at least feel like we gave it our best effort and will be ready to move forward. But for now I’m feeling hopeful!

 

Day 13 Update

After lots and lots of stimming, we were finally ready to trigger for our IUI yesterday. At the scan I had two follicles — one at 18 and one at 15. I triggered last night with Ovidrel and will have the IUI on Friday morning. We were able to schedule it early enough that hubby can drop off his sample before his big meeting, so no frosties. He’ll have to leave before the procedure, so this will be the first time we won’t be together for the IUI. I feel ok about this (especially considering our success rate thus far) but it certainly would be strange if it works and we got pregnant with only one of us present.

Luckily the timing worked out perfectly for my work trip. I’ll be headed to NYC tomorrow afternoon after resting at home for most of the day. I have some renewed hope since this is the first cycle we’re trying injectables. At this point I’m not sure if feeling hopeful is a good thing or a bad thing. I know it is important to keep the faith, but it sure does make it harder to deal with another negative outcome.