Tag Archives: ultrasound

IVF week 4: The follicle situation

This week started out with an ultrasound and blood work on Monday (5/20). It went well, follicles were starting to grow and no drug dosages changed. The drug regiment is the same as week 3, Lupron (thigh, morning), Follistim (stomach, afternoon) and Repronex (rear, afternoon). Tuesday morning was the same, ultrasound and blood work went well with no change in dosages.

Ideally our IVF drugs would carry us through to milestones like egg retrieval, but since Desiree has been on the lowest possible dosages we were starting to run out of Repronex and Follistim, both of which are a little over $500 a box. Unfortunately we had to order an extra box of each, over $1,000 we hadn’t planned on spending, but what choice did we have?

This was the start of the roller coaster ride that would be the rest of the week and still is even as I write this.

Wednesday’s ultrasound showed that Desiree had only produced 5 follicles which is low for this stage in the game. It’s important that our doctor has 10-15 follicles for a successful retrieval. Let me explain.

Typically there’s only 1 egg in each follicle, and it’s possible for a follicle to be empty. Beyond that not all eggs retrieved will be good, some may be too mature while others aren’t mature enough. Even beyond that not all eggs may fertilize afterwards. Basically there’s a few hurtles in the process before we arrive at 2 perfect, fertilized eggs to transfer back into the uterus. The rule of thumb is the more follicles our doctor has to work with the better our chances for success and that’s why he wants 10-15 at just the right size.

When our infertility coordinator explained the follicle situation she told us that at this point our chances for a successful round had been significantly reduced. It sounds blunt, be she explained it with empathy and didn’t want to concern us, but felt it was important to explain things along the way. We were scared and staring at the possibility of losing our money without any chance to move forward.

After that we received a huge blessing. When women finish a round of IVF they often have drugs leftover. Those drugs can’t be sold back to the pharmacy so they donate them to the clinic for couples like Desiree and I who pay out-of-pocket (as opposed to treatments being covered by health insurance). So our coordinator had us cancel the Repronex order we had placed the day before and gave us a free box. We were very grateful and hopefully we’ll be able to donate something in the end too.

That night we went home and prayed for more follicles. Desiree did some research online and read about putting her legs up on a wall, supposedly the blood rushes to the pelvis and expedites the process – we called it “the leg trick”. We knew there was no way to measure if it was working, but at that point we’d try anything. The best thing that could happen was tomorrow’s ultrasound would miraculously show that she had developed new follicles overnight which can happen.

The next day we went in for the ultrasound and, wouldn’t ya know, it did miraculously show that she had developed at least 5 new follicles overnight. We couldn’t believe it, we now had about 10 follicles for our doctor to work with. The blood work came back good and our dosages stayed the same, we were in the clear. At this point it looks like our egg retrieval, granted nothing goes wrong, will either be on Monday (Memorial Day) or Tuesday.

Since we’re at the clinic every day this week and things are happening so fast I’m trying to dole out updates in chunks. We’re still on a bit of a roller coaster ride, and I’ll write more about it soon, so please continue to pray that we’ll make it through the entire cycle and that we have a successful one at that!

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IVF Week 3: Lupron, Repronex and Follistim

Week 3 IVF Drugs

All of our week 3 IVF drugs (Lurpon, Follistim and Repronex from left to right).

This week started off with an ultrasound Monday morning (5/13). Ultrasounds and meetings are a given now. Everything went well. We met with our infertility coordinator to go over our numbers and review how to administer the Repronex and Follistim, the two drugs we add to our regiment this week. She said not to worry about taking it wrong as much as not taking it at all, which apparently she’s had patients do. This blew our minds, to think there are people out there who pay the high cost of IVF and then skip injections because they forgot or were too busy.

So Desiree is now on 3 hormone shots per day – one in the thigh (Lupron in the morning), one in the stomach (Follistim in the afternoon) and one in the rear (Repronex in the afternoon). She’s got a lot of tracks, a good amount of bruising and that tends to make it hard to choose a good spot.

The Repronex nees to be prepared which means I have to mix it together from two vials, one of water and one of powder (the drug). It’s a matter of using a big mixing needle and then switching to a smaller, 1.5 inch needle for injection. Our coordinator said sometimes people forget to change the needle which has got to hurt because that thing is big enough to take a chunk of skin with it! Watch this video for the full process.

The Follistim comes in a pen kit. It’s the most expensive drug we’re taking at $700 per cartridge. The cartridge is loaded into the pen once. Then every time we inject we put a new needle on, dial the dosage at the bottom of the pen which pushes the back of the pen outward like a button to press. When we inject it we press the button all the way down, this pushes the drug out, hold the needle in place for 5 full seconds and we’re done. We have to track the dosages in a diary otherwise it’s easy to lost count. Watch this video for the full process.

Update (5/20): I forgot to mention we both took a 1000mg antibiotic (four 250mg pills each) one night. It’s just to clear our systems out from anything along the way.

Desiree was very tired this week. At night after the drugs she feels twinges and tightness in her ovaries. This always makes me nervous, but I think she’ll be fine. She’s handled everything great. She’d say her mood has been swinging a bit, but I haven’t noticed. Overall I’d say she’s doing far better than we expected.

She was scheduled for another ultrasound on Friday (5/17) which went well too. That afternoon they called and said everything looked good to the doctor so we can continue with the same dosages we’d already been using. We have another ultrasound and meeting scheduled for Monday (5/20, week 4 day 1).

We’re back and forth to the clinic about twice a week now, but week 4 might be three or more times because we’re fast approaching her egg retrieval.