Barbados Day 4- and a Follicle Update!

Friday May 16th, 2014

 Back to the Fertility Clinic- finally! We had a 9am appointment where I was quickly whisked into an exam room, scanned, and done by 9:15.  My follicles were moving along great, but the doctor asked that I continue medications for one more night to ensure as many mature eggs as possible.  That meant that I’d be giving myself my HcG trigger shot on Saturday night, and egg retrieval would be scheduled for Monday.  Both the doctor and the nurse were very happy with my progress, and did not see any signs of Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  Such good news!

Next door to the clinic there is a fresh juice and smoothie bar.  I got a large “Cleanse” juice- kale, spinach, celery, and apple- just what I needed! Eating healthy while on vacation is always a struggle, so I plan to make this place a regular stop for the rest of our trip.

After walking back on the beach trail, we stopped at some chairs in front of our hotel and ended up taking naps under the palm trees.  I just can’t get over how beautiful it is here.  We are trying to soak up every second.

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That night, we headed to an event we’d looked forward to all week:  Oistin’s Fish Fry!  Everyone (from the bartenders, nurses, cab drivers, etc) told us we HAD to go to Oistin on Friday night for their weekly fish fry.  We were also told to get down there early, as the sea turtles like to hang out nearby to munch on the scraps the fisherman throw into the water.  The turtles were huge, and gorgeous!

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Afterwards we headed for the food.  We loved our meals, drinks (check out Randall’s $7 Rum & Coke), live music, shopping, and the tons of people who came out to celebrate the weekend.  It definitely lived up to the hype- we had a blast!

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Barbados Day 3

Thursday May 15th, 2014

We started this day bright and early due to a 9am tee time at Barbados Golf Club.  I rode in the cart and played spectator so that my body could keep on working on producing some (hopefully) beautiful eggs.  I also had the most important job of the day; mixing the drinks for the husband to “help his game”.

It was a gorgeous day, and we had the course to ourselves!

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When we got back to the hotel, we put on our swimsuits and made our way to the beach.  I think by this point, Randall had gotten the “vacation mode” thing down 🙂

We hit up Mama Mia, a small authentic Italian restaurant, for dinner.  It was seriously amazing, and I’ll be back for their Spaghetti Frutti Di Mare (spaghetti with shrimp, clams, and mussels) again before I leave!

 

Barbados Day 2

Wednesday May 14th, 2014

On our second official vacation day, we decided to take part in a highly recommended activity: Ted’s Island Tour.  Ted is the son of the hotel owners, and for the last 30 years he has been providing tours on his own bus.  He takes his group around the island and through all of the major parishes (there are 11).  The island of Barbados is only 21 miles long and 14 miles wide.

We wanted to venture out of our hotel for the more “active” adventures early in our trip for a few reasons; so we can choose where we want to go later in the trip, and in case I start to feel like crap and don’t want to get that far away from a comfy bed.  For now we are just waiting for my follicles to grow, grow, grow!

The tour started at 10am, and I got out of bed at the very last second possible.  After a quick shower and my Buserelin shot, we ran downstairs and met up with the rest of the tour group.  We jumped on the bus and Ted happily greeted us and hit the road.  Here are some pictures from our day:

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Our first stop- an amazing bakery.

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Ted behind the wheel.

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St. John Parish Church

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St. John Parish Cemetary

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Downtown Bridgetown

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When we got back to the hotel, we took it pretty easy and just made sandwiches in the room for dinner, soon followed by an early bed time.  Great second day!

Barbados Day 1

Tuesday May 13th, 2014

On our first morning in Barbados, I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and look at the beautiful turquoise Caribbean Sea from our balcony in the daylight.  It did not disappoint.

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Our first appointment at Barbados Fertility Center was at 10:15 that morning.  Our hotel is a short walk from the clinic, and we opted to take the road (instead of walking down the beach) so we didn’t get lost on our first venture out of the hotel.

We got there in plenty of time, but after our first stint out into the humidity, we were drenched in sweat and chugging water.  The nurse that checked me in hinted that my scan was coming up, and I’d have to have an empty bladder…so I sadly threw away my water cup and waited.

Soon I met Dr. Skinner and she did my first scan after a week of stimulating drugs.  I was somewhat worried that I was going to have a bad response to the drugs (either too much or not enough).  She counted my follicles and said I had 8-10 maturing on each side, with a few more small ones that could catch up.  My average mature follicle size was 13mm.  Everything was right on track 🙂

Following my scan, we met with our nurse coordinator.  She went over the plan for the rest of the week and set our next appointment up for Friday at 9am.  I was instructed to stay on the same dose of Menopur, Clexane, and Buserelin.  Easy enough!

We headed back to our hotel, but took the beach route.  There was a nice boardwalk for part of the walk which then converted into a sand beach trail.  Seriously breathtaking, beautiful beaches.   And we had them completely to ourselves.

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The path from the hotel to the Fertility Center.

Once back at the hotel, we changed into lighter (more beach friendly) clothes and headed out for some lunch.  We went to a little beachside restaurant called Blakeys.  Randall had a flying fish sandwich, and I had the seared sesame tuna with a salad.  SO good.

Following lunch, we stopped to take a few pictures and enjoy the view.

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Our hotel is the building on the right.

After eating, we went straight for the beach and found ourselves some chairs right up by the water.  We both took naps, and when we woke up we swam around in the lagoon on our hotel’s beach.

That evening, we took the bus ($1 per person for anywhere on the island) to the grocery store.  We stocked up on snacks, sandwich supplies, fruit, and some other staples to keep us from eating out too often.

Later we headed out to the Blue Room, a restaurant directly across the street from our hotel.  Their specialty is their hamburgers- and they were amazing.  The patty was so huge that I ended up ditching the bun, and still couldn’t finish it.

After a wonderful first day, we were already feeling refreshed and starting to settle into vacation mode.  We talked about how lucky we feel to have this wonderful experience while going through IVF.  My mind is in such a happy place, and that has to be good for our chances.  Only time will tell, but for now we are feeling like we are right where we are supposed to be.

 

 

 

Traveling with Care. And Drugs.

Monday May 12th, 2014:  After a sleepless night, we departed for the airport around 3:30 in the morning.  It had been storming all day on Sunday, and early Monday morning there were no signs of letting up.  The roads were slushy, icy, and miserable.  My generous mom had offered us a ride to the airport; and as if I didn’t feel bad already for dragging her out of bed at three in the morning, driving 45 minutes each way in a snowstorm was above and beyond.  Luckily there were barely any other cars on the road and we got to the airport with time to spare.

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Our backyard the day we left.

Randall and I both checked large suitcases, but I also brought a carry-on to keep all of my IVF medications safely by my side.  I figured we would probably have to show our letter from the fertility clinic, and explain why we needed an entire suitcase full of vials, syringes, needles, pills, suppositories, alcohol wipes, etc.  Much to my surprise, airport security didn’t even stop me. I’ve been stopped countless times for lip gloss, nail clippers, lighters, and other harmless items…but over 100 needles and little glass bottles were no problem 🙂

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Lots of de-icing going on here.

We departed Denver at 7:20am and arrived in Miami around noon.  We had six hours to kill, so we grabbed a bite to eat and did some book shopping.  We departed Miami at 6:55pm, and landed in Barbados at 10:25pm.

Being on an injection schedule is definitely more complicated while traveling.

I took my Buserelin shot in the Denver airport just prior to boarding.  I had no problems loading the syringe and doing the injection in the bathroom stall.

When we arrived in Barbados, I was due for the nighttime injections and I didn’t know how long it would take us to get from the airport to the hotel.  I decided to do the injections in the airport bathroom…

When I got in there, every stall was full and I figured I would grab a stall myself instead of dropping my pants in front of the crowd.  I had a freezer bag prepacked with everything I needed for that night.  I pulled out my Menopur vials, both needles, the Clexane injection, and tried to somehow not let anything touch anything gross while effectively self medicating.

The Menopur process begins with snapping the top off of a little glass bottle.  There is a small blue dot that shows you were to put your thumb, and then with some “oomph”, pop the top back and the top should pop right off.  And in all of my injections up this point, the bottle had cooperated.

However, this night, in the airport bathroom stall, the glass bottle did not pop easily, but rather shattered into a million pieces.  I instantly had blood gushing out of my thumb that had been pressing into the glass.  I went into a semi-panic attack, and decided to wait until most people had exited the bathroom so that I could escape the confines of my stall.  I threw everything back in the bloody freezer bag and hustled out to the bathroom counter.

The next few minutes were a blur.  There was a lot of blood, and a near-epic-meltdown moment.  I had to look at myself in the mirror and say “You got this.”  While standing in the middle of the Barbados airport women’s restroom with my pants around my knees, tears running down my face, and what appeared to be the aftermath of a massacre.  Somehow, I pulled myself together, mixed my drugs, stabbed my stomach and my thigh, cleaned up my mess, and marched myself through customs like nothing had happened.  With half a roll of toilet paper wrapped around my thumb and the hopes that I didn’t contract any diseases by not exactly following “sanitary” protocols.

Just another IVF memory to add to the books.

We got through customs no problem, took a cab to our hotel, checked in, and passed out in minutes.  The anticipation of getting here left us exhausted and we were so ready for a good nights sleep.  Our first appointment at Barbados Fertility Center in the morning- the fun has only just begun!

 

We made it!

My apologies for the lack of posts leading up to our departure.  The last few weeks have been a mad rush trying to prepare ourselves for two weeks out of the country.  But now that we’re here in Barbados, I’ve finally got the time to catch up (and the inspiration, thanks to the beach view!  Ahhhhmazing,)

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This is the view from our room, at night. It’s amazing.

Here’s a recap of the last few weeks:

Saturday April 26th, 2014: I started my injections of Buserelin.  Buserelin works by telling my brain to stop the production of natural hormones that control the release of eggs from ovaries (other hormone treatments will later be used to stimulate ovulation). I started with 50 units (0.5ml) on the syringe.  The syringes for this injection are tiny little insulin needles, and I honestly barely feel them.  These injections go in the stomach.  I learned quickly that sitting is definitely smart, because standing resulted in some woozy mornings.  I do not stomach medical stuff very well (as in I can’t make it through an episode of Grey’s Anatomy without shielding my eyes and getting nauseous).  I’m glad I got to “warm up”  with these, as they diminished my intense anxiety of all the future shots!

 

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Wednesday April 30th, 2014: I took my last birth control pill!  The clinic put me on birth control the month prior to IVF since we needed my cycle dates to be very specific.  Who knew, after all this time, I’d go on the pill to get pregnant!

Monday May 5th, 2014: I had a Follicular Ultrasound at my normal OB/GYN.  The doc reported that my uterine lining looked nice and thin, and I had about 30 follicles ready to produce some eggs!

Tuesday May 6th, 2014: The start of the Ovarian Stimulating Drug Regime.  I began my injections of Menopur (225 iu, or 3 vials) and Clexane (40mg syringe), reduced my Buserilin to 3 units (0.3ml), and started taking one baby aspirin a day (75mg).  The Clexane is a blood thinner that will help with embryo implantation and reduce risk of miscarraige.  It comes in pre-filled spring loaded syringes.  They look very scary, but really aren’t too bad.  These go in the stomach as well.  After the medication is injected, the site burns for about 10 minutes,  The Menopur is much more fun.  Each vial contains equal amounts (75 IUs) of 2 kinds of hormones: FSH, which helps increase egg production; and LH, to assist with ovulation.  In a nutshell, Menopur helps to stimulate multiple follicles (as your body naturally only utilizes one per month) and hopefully produce lots of mature eggs!  To do these injections, I have two needles- one big, one small.  I use the big needle to mix one vial of sterile water with 3 vials of powder medication, and once everything is safely in the syringe, I switch the needles and put on the smaller one to inject.  My doctor instructed me to inject these in my thigh.  I have fairly muscular legs, so this one terrified me (my stomach is MUCH softer!) but i found that the outer thigh actually didn’t hurt at all.  I heard horror stories of how badly the Menopur injections stung, but I didn’t feel the medication at all! I’m so very happy that these injections are tolerable, and I kind of feel like a bad ass after doing them 🙂

 

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Side effects so far:

Hot flashes (it was snowing in Colorado before we left, and I was running around in a tank top and shorts. And still sweating.)

Very minor nausea following injections (I don’t think this was medication induced, but rather my natural response to needles.)

Bruising! Once the Clexane injections started, my blood was thinned and all of the injections started leaving bruises.  Last night, even the spot I pinched on my stomach left a big golf ball size bruise.  While not exactly helping my looks in a bathing suit, at least the bruises aren’t especially painful.

According to my husband, I have been “emotionally stable”- which, I’m sure, is a relief on his part!

I feel really good.  Bloated, but I expected that and brought only stretchy, flowy clothes.  I know that feeling good might not last for long, so for now I am enjoying the IVF process and hoping everything continues on just as smoothly.

 

National Infertility Awareness Week

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1 in 8 Couples.

7.3 Million Americans.

Prior to our infertility joyride, I was oblivious to the struggles that so many people face.  People that I know, people that you know, neighbors, teachers, co-workers, rich people, poor people, celebrities, politicians, people that already have kids.  I promise you, someone you know has gone through this.

Once I started talking ‘fertility’ with people, I was blown away at how many people had gone through treatment to conceive their own children.

So why is everyone staying so secretive?

There is definitely a stigma attached to infertility.  For me, there were many reasons I kept our details private.

  • I didn’t want people to feel weird talking about their own kids.  Just because it’s harder for us to get knocked up, it doesn’t mean I’m not happy for my friends who have experienced pregnancy, babies, etc. Am I jealous that it was easier for them? Of course.  Am I spiteful? Absolutely not.
  • The unsolicited advice.  While I know it comes from the heart, all the “just relax”, “it will happen”, “try a bottle of Jose Cuervo” comments reeeeeeeeeally start to make me want to punch people take their toll.
  • I don’t want sympathy.  I don’t want people feeling sorry for us, or viewing us differently.  Or thinking that it was my fault, or my husband’s fault.  It is what it is, and we’re good with that.

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If you know someone dealing with fertility issues, the best thing you can do is let them know you’re part of their support team.  Be compassionate and understanding.  And if you haven’t been through it yourself, please don’t offer advice.   Or suggest adoption.  Just don’t.

In the short life of my little blog, I’ve already discovered a number of people I already knew that are also battling right along with me.  We’ve also gained the support of strangers that are genuinely excited for us and are cheering us on.

By speaking up, I have already gained more support than I ever could have imagined.  And it’s a wonderful feeling.

So, on that note, Happy National Infertility Awareness Week!