Hello Week 5 – the Week of Medications
I don’t know how this week has arrived already, it feels like I have been waiting and waiting! This week has felt like a truly special one and the excitement continues to build. Monday morning meant early bloods to check LH, P4 & E2 levels.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a hormone associated with reproduction. Its stimulation within the ovaries results in the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). This test is measuring the levels of luteinising hormone in the blood to ensure ovulation is not occurring. The doctors want to elicit this phase of the cycle in line with egg retrieval.
A P4 test is a progesterone test which measures the level of progesterone in the blood. Progesterone is a hormone made by a woman’s ovaries. Progesterone plays an important role in pregnancy. It helps make your uterus ready to support a fertilized egg. Progesterone also helps prepare your breasts for making milk. Within IVF, the measure the progesterone levels to again, ensure there is not ovulation occurring outside of the egg retrieval window.
An E2 test is assessing the oestrogen levels within the blood. The E2 results are measuring the hormone that is produced by the follicles that are being created. This is ensuring adequate egg production and stimulation of the ovaries. Monday morning my E2 bloods results came back at 871. This is optimal and in the perfect range! The specialist was very happy with this level which means we keep on going. I really love that they call with the results and explain them. This gives me a sense of control and power over the blood work which I like. Knowledge is power as my mother would tell me.
I have been taking morning and eventing meds. The AM meds are preventing ovulation, the PM meds are encouraging follicle recruitment. These medications will be different for everyone and is all dependent on your needs, blood tests and reasons for needing IVF. I have been on a high dose of both medications which I thought would have left me feeling really unwell. Leading into this process every article I read said to be prepared for bruising at the injection sites, swelling (to the point of looking 4 months pregnant), fatigue, pain and above all – I would need to slow down. I was prepared for all of this with heat packs, ice packs, instructors on stand-by and had prepared family and friends for a cranky me.
Starting the medication while on a mini holiday with friends was THE BEST way to start relaxing into this process I think.
Once we got through Monday –> Thursday, Friday brought about new bloods and ovarian scans! Towards the end of the week my belly did begin to bruise slightly with a little more swelling but it all passed quickly. Friday morning early morning bloods resulted in a little arm bruising (she used a really big needle) and then had to wait till 3:30 in the afternoon for results. These came back okay, but oestrogen was starting to creep really high. These blood results in line with my scans means I am “on watch” for OHSS (another acronym).
There has been really only 1 day that I have felt poor this week. Tuesday I felt the most bloated and unwell, but was still able to teach, clean the house, and walk the pups. Tenderness is real and I suppose we all feel this differently. I am notable to complete by abdominal or side work as I normally would (it does not feel like there is enough room in by belly).
I can not lay down flat on my back (comfortably). Again, it feels like my tummy is stretching sooooo much. The same goes with laying on my side – it feels like my belly is a waterbed and everything is sloshing side-to-side. To all future IVF-mama’s out there, invest in a good body pillow wrap to support your tender tummy!
PTPO – another acronym! It means pregnant till proven otherwise. This is how I have been treating my body this week. This means:
- Limiting the caffeine (even in tea)
- No seafood, shellfish including farmed fish. Some research says wild caught fish is okay.
- All meats are to be well cooked through (no medium – rare steaks!)
- No soft cheese or processed meats (the cheese I miss, I don’t eat processed meat anyway)
- No alcohol (I have hit pause on my wine subscription)
The good foods I am eating:
- Lots of fresh veggies (nothing pre-cut) and good fruits (mostly berries)
- Lean meats – chicken, turkey and veggie dishes
- Wholegrain rice (no pasta)
OHSS = Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. Mild OHSS is common in women having IVF treatment; affecting as many as 33 in 100 women (33%). Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is an exaggerated response to excess hormones.Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) causes the ovaries to swell and become painful. There are a number of symptoms and outcomes that may occur, again, these are all woman dependent. I am just being monitored for the moment so we will see how blood work goes on Monday again. Overall, I am feeling pretty good still.
Onward to Saturday – there are no results yet for day-surgery, or embryo transfer day. I am waiting for a call from the nurse specialist on Saturday afternoon with this information. I will give another update on Monday! The waiting game is the hardest one with IVF. The waiting for blood results, the waiting for phone calls, the waiting for a plan to be actioned. As someone to needs control and loves to plan everything this is a real challenge. The best I can give myself is time to sit with the information I have, made a couple plans (with backups) and continue to take long slow breaths. This is a very exciting time, but I really work to keep the worry and dress levels down!
Thank you for the ongoing support and I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend filled with lots of laughter and time with friends and family. HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE.
xx Anne & Josh