As of today, I have been taking Estrogen and baby Aspirin (and pre-natals) for just shy of a week. I want to check in and record how I am feeling for everyone that has been so kind to check in on me and for posterity. If you followed along last time, you will remember my fear of the drugs. I tried my very best to do all the research, read all the blogs, watch all the IVF survival YouTube videos. I succeeded, mainly, in completely freaking myself out. I have an intense fear of vomiting and that was my main concern. So many women had posted and written about their symptoms during IVF medication, or the stimming phase, and i was so worried. For the most part, it was all for naught. I was lucky and didn’t have many symptoms at all. In fact,for the whole time I was all aglow. My hair was amazing, my skin was amazing. My body changed and I had curves in all the right places and had energy. The worst symptom I experienced was constipation. Like, drink a six pack of coconut water a day with benefiber mixed in level desperation constipation. Once I had completed the first transfer and started the progesterone, exhaustion soon followed. All consuming, fully mind-body, I don’t think I can get out of bed to go pee exhaustion.
This time around is completely different. No shots (yet), only pills so far. But i find it sort of ironic that i am taking the hormone that derailed my whole transfer success last time: Estrogen. Because there is no stimming my ovaries this time (i don’t need to ovulate because we already have embryos), my body needs to be forced to produce estrogen this go-round. Remember, we have totally shut down my ovaries, scraped out my uterus to make it lush and vascular and now it is time to start making estrogen. I also have a complication involving the inflammation markers in my body. I have tested low positive for the antiphospholipid antigen. The textbook positive level is 20 and mine came in at 19. While antiphospholipid antibody syndrome causes your immune system to mistakenly make antibodies that make it more likely for me to form blood clots all over my body, it is often the culprit for stillbirth and miscarriage for people that have it. Blood clots in the umbilical cord and placenta and can cause a slowly increasing lack of oxygen and nutrients to your baby. So, while I have started estrogen, I have also been instructed to take a baby Aspirin daily to help mitigate my “low positive’ for now. Everytime I get blood work, they are also testing again for this, as well as inflammation markers that could be devastating if left unchecked. Worst case scenario, my levels go up and I will have to be put on heparin and prednisone for the duration of my pregnancy. Best case scenario, I just stay on the baby Aspirin. The good news is, I know about it and there is a remedy. So many people never know this is an issue for them and it ends in devastating losses.
***If female biology freaks you out, skip this section. I am always open and transparent because at the end of the day, this blog is for me. I will be detailing all of the experiences I have personally had during this stage and it may be graphic for any sapling that is reading this***
So, my weekish on estrogen has been a whirlwind. Before I started taking it, once I stopped taking the birth control, (and, horrifically, BEFORE i had to get my transvaginal ultrasound) I started the heaviest period of my life. The only time I can ever recall having heavier bleeding was after my failed transfer two years ago. Like, I felt bad for the nurse giving me the ultrasound even though I know she knows better than I what to expect. Though, when I think about it, this is the point of the scrape, right? Out with the old! Go on and shed all that stuff that could impede implantation. I don’t need you anymore. Nevertheless, I had to throw out a lot of panties and it was sad. I thought once I started the estrogen it would ease, but alas, it did not. I’m on the outs, finally, but it was rough going for a bit there. I experienced many symptoms I did not experience last cycle. I have been really vigilant about eating every time I have a dose, but my relationship with food has been very taxed. When I need to eat, nothing sounds good. I haven’t had full blown nausea, but I have had a really ‘uneasy’ stomach. I will have intense waves of nausea but thankfully it has not lasted long. I do have my trusty reliefband at the ready (thanks, Mom!) just in case. So, I force feed myself in the morning and at night when it’s time to take my meds and it’s manageable. But sometimes, hunger strikes me so hard and fast that I must eat whatever is available right at that moment. I was not expecting that, so for the first few days at the office, it was poptarts. At home, it was pretzel goldfish. My poor body. So, i have tried to be more prepared this week with meals and snacks that are a lot better for my body. The first few days of taking the estrogen I was SO tired. I would struggle to keep my eyes open all day, struggle to get out of the bed in the morning and lay down as soon as I got home. Now, I am still tired but trying to get to sleep has been a struggle. I have noticed that even though I have been fatigued, I have been way more productive than normal for me. For instance, all of my plants have been watered in the same day (if you know me IRL, you know that’s a task), I went grocery shopping (twice, because I also forget everything), my house is orderly (even if it’s not spotless) and I caught up on a bunch of side work I had outstanding. This may also have something to do with the change in weather. I have been dormant this whole winter, as I am most winters because, just like my plants, I truly wither without the sun. I am SO looking forward to the spring and summer. It recharges my batteries and I am happier in the sun than I am at any other time. I have also discovered my sentimental side. I am not at all sentimental. Very few things choke me up (besides anger). Tim and I were sitting on the couch a few nights ago and daisy was all cuddled up in the dog bed at the end of the couch and she was just so precious there I said “She is just so beautiful, I l-l-l-lover her s-s-s-o m-mu-much! What is w-w-wrong with m-me?!” as tears streamed from my eyes. Tim patted my hand and said “It’s, ok, Katie, it’s just the hormones. And Daisy is a super special girl”. I’ve only been absolutely incensed by a few things but the are things that don’t typically bother me. Like disorder in the house. And by disorder, I mean dishes in the sink. But it hasn’t been all bad. My skin has been perfected by the estrogen. It is beautiful, plump and firm. Like, the skin all over my body. I haven’t had a single break-out which is something i have struggled with my entire post-pubescent life. While the hair on my head is thick and shiny and growing like a weed, I havent had to pluck a single hair on my lip or chin for some time, which is a common problem with my hormonal imbalance. And much to my shock and pleasure, I feel like I have had a boob job! Though, I did experience this welcomed side effect during my previous cycle as well. The most bothersome side effect I have had up to this point is the temperature swings. I can go from full on hot flash to chills before the sweat has evaporated from my skin. Poor Shelly (who shares office space with me). I have a heater under my desk that also has just a fan and I think it might tell me off before long. I just just hear it taunting me “Make up your mind!”. Figuratively, of course, I am not having hallucinations.
Otherwise, this week has been great. I got a ton accomplished at work this week. Shelly and I got like a million chocolate covered strawberries dipped and decorated for our ‘thank-you’ gifts. We had a fabulous dinner with great friends. I took a super-fun senior mini session. Delivered three albums and prints to their homes. And, BB helped train a shelter dog to respect cats (like only he can do) so that she could go to her forever home today. I got Tim a couple books to help him navigate the now and the future, I will cross all my digits that he reads them.
For now, I am taking two doses of estrogen per day and I will increase that to three times a day on the 24th. Please pray for Tim, but he’s doing a good job so far. I have my next blood draw and ultrasound on the 30th. I just want to take a second here to mention how much I love when people ask me things like “ok, so where are we now? What’s next?”. I truly love community because this can be so very isolating. I love feeling cared for and like we are all in this together. Anyway, THey will be checking my estrogen levels to make sure they are high enough. They may adjust my medication and wait to schedule the transfer, but the levels may be good and hopefully we will know by the 30th what that transfer date it. If you read this blog and are a client, please know that it will be so hard for me to schedule accurately from the 30th-4/12. I really need to keep those daes open but if you need something, I will do my very best to squeeze you in when I can. It is imperative for you to stay as stress free as possible and I put a lot of stress on myself by not being able to say no. So, please be considerate of that during that time frame. I will be forever grateful.
So, for this time of transition – the transition of winter to spring, from barren to fertile, from one phase of treatment to the next – I am celebrating OUT WITH THE OLD! I am ready to usher in something new…