I’m doing a lot of back posting, but I’ve had so many things happening so quickly and I want to make sure I’m sharing every single experience. So, everyone knows that both John and I went through the fertility clinic to preserve both eggs and embryos. You all heard Johns experience, but I also think its important to hear about mine!
Going and meeting with a fertility doctor was one of the first referrals that was made to me after my formal diagnosis on October 12th. It truthfully never even crossed my mind as something someone would have to do just because of chemo, but it all makes sense now that Im educated on all this crazy stuff.
It was explained to me that my chances of getting pregnant naturally post chemotherapy is very difficult. Different studies and research articles that I have found claim 50/50 chance at best. On my initial meeting and after discussing our options, John and I decided it meant more to us to have the chance at least later down the road and to go ahead with IVF rather than miss our chance completely… And if its not meant to be we would be honored to look into our other options and adopt! Either way, when the time is right we will make wonderful parents and love our babies to the moon and back!
Plain and simple, girls have different parts than boys. How do they put it… “The junk is different under the trunk”, or we have “different plumbing”? Whichever way you want to describe the male and female anatomy, it is all very different. Being a girl I am allowing myself to say that it sucks! Some people may feel that being a woman is beautiful, and childbirth is amazing… Come on people lets be real. This part of being a woman freakin blows! Your vagina is destined fo be ripped open to your butt hole, you are most likely going to get stretch marks, you get your period every month and those chocolate cravings… Oh ya they are real, and all of those extra calories, ya they go right to our ass! Okay, so dont tell me being a woman is beautiful! It does have its perks for clothes and accessories, and id much rather a vagina than a dangly penis between my legs… But thats for another blog post…
Okay, back to the fertility clinic part. So when our lovely guy counter parts simply have to “cum in a cup”, sorry there really isnt a better way to put it… Us ladies have to shoot ourselves in the belly with hormones to hopefully stimulate the follicles on our ovaries so they mature, and if the timing is right and you are a “fertle mertle” like me… When they shove the long ultra sound wand up you whooha youll have good “numbers”.
What the heck am I talking about?! For about a week and a half, I was on two different medications to stimulate my follicle growth: Menopur and Follistim. These two little buggers sucked! They burned every time I injected myself, and frankly I couldnt wait until my poor little belly was done being a pin cusion. Truthfully, if I were doing this for actual fertility right now… I could only imagine how stressful and anxious I would be! So like I said before, timing is absolutely everything! I had to make sure I injected the medicine at the same time everyday or else there was a chance my body wouldnt react therefore my eggs I would shed wouldnt be matured and inessence theyd be a waste!
The average amount of eggs they are able to take retrieve is around 12 on a good day. It could be anywhere from 0-25ish every woman reacts differently. It never even crossed my mind that the “number” could be an issue! Positivity people… Thankfully we did not have a problem with the “numbers”. My follicles seemed to be reacting extremely well to the medications that I had to stab into my stomach multiple times a day! It was like a nightly cocktail that I had to mix up, my little baby making cocktail:)
John absolutely refused to inject me with the shots. Even in April when I went home from my leg surgery on a blood thinner, he refused saying “he could never hurt me like that”. So that left me and a needle… Its kinda like throwing a dart, you just HAVE to do it. Once the needle is in my belly, I would slowly push the medication through. I dont know if it was just me, but if I pushed it too fast, my belly would bubble up under my skin and get red and itchy, so slow and steady wins the race they say!
The sting lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes or so. I found that the more shots I did, the less tender my skin was during the initial injection… They always burned though down to the very last shot I had to take! Truthfully, I was counting down the days to be done!
I had to go in almost every morning for blood work and ultrasounds leading up to our wedding day! They would call me to let me know the progress and what adjustments I had to make to my medicine regimen. There was only one day I messed up my injection and took a little more than I was supposed to… Luckily it didn’t effect the end result!
Like ive said a kazillion times now, IVF is all about timing, and being that our wedding was planned in 2 weeks… I gave the doctors even more of a challenge because they had to plan for a retrieval after the wedding! Saturday October 31, 2015 I married the man of my dreams and had my fairy tale wedding, then Sunday morning we had to wake up early for one of my last ultrasounds! We dragged ourselves out of bed and drove to the fertility clinic. Everything was perfectly on schedule, and they planned for me to stop all medications and take my “trigger” medication at 9:00pm that night!
It was getting to be so real! My little egglings were almost ready to make an appearance! The doctor decided it was time, November 3, 2015 I was set for my retrieval!
John and I showed up at the fertility clinic early on that Tuesday only a few days after our wedding! Still up to that point I really hadn’t felt any real discomfort as some people had to described to me. Supposedly it is very common for women to be extremely uncomfortable and to a point that they can actually feel their ovaries when they sit down and move… Lucky for me I was hardly uncomfortable at all! (Until after my Lupron shot when I triggered again… And let me tell you, huperstimulated ovaries is no fun at all!)
Once we got to the fertility clinic they walked us back to the surgical waiting room. They had me step into a changing room where I had to place on a hospital gown, hair net, and slippers for my feet. I took off all my jewelry including my brand new sparkly wedding ring, and locked it up in a locker. The nurse walked me back to the Pre-op area and they began my vitals and getting an IV line placed.
Finally they were ready for John to come back. He was instructed to put on a paper gown, then escorted him back to hold my hand and sit by my side as they got me ready for my procedure. When John came back to me, he told me that in the waiting room he met a guy who initiated a conversation about IVF. Turns out he and his wife (who were probably in their 30s) have been unsuccessful at getting pregnant naturally, so as a last resort have decided on IVF. He explained that all his wife’s tests have come out fine, he has a low sperm count.
Being that John is so young, the man opened up to him not knowing any bit of our unusual circumstance. John talked to him and began to explain how we ended up going through IVF and he said in a way it calmed the man. You just never know how much worse thing can actually be… And it makes me so proud that both John and I now have to opportunity to help other people because we are living this journey right now.
Something that really stuck with John was that the man explained how his family is so against them having a “petri dish child”. They way John explained the story really made my heart ache for this couple. It is so crazy how other people cannot just be supportive when people aren’t able to so things traditionally. I truly hope this couple had a successful retrieval, and whats meant to be will happen for them!
It was time, they were ready for me in the operating room. I gave John a kiss and hug and he reassured me I would be fine. They walked me back into a room with a bed with stirrups attached for my legs. Just like when they do internal ultrasounds on me, I jumped up on the table, placed my feet into the stirrups and off to dreamland I went.
When I woke up, the procedure was done! John said it only lasted around 20 minutes. They walked me back to the dressing room, I changed and all was well. I had no pain or real discomfort. I still had to be cautious about jumping around and things but other than that the only symptom they said I may experience is some slight bleeding (which I didn’t have at all!)
All 17 eggs that had been retrieved were removed and useable! We decided to take 7 eggs to mix with sperm in the petri dishes over night in hopes to make embryos, and 10 eggs were set aside for genetic testing and freezing. The next day the fertility office called me and told me that 4/7 eggs were able to mingle and actually take in the petri dish with Johns sperm! We had to wait another day to find out that 3/4 cleared all testing after the cryo preservation process (embryo freezing) so we have a grand total of 3 frozen embryos or “Elsa and Kristoff’s” as I like to refer to them as, and 7 eggs awaiting frozen and stores for the perfect time in the near future to come to life and become baby Koziels!
What I didnt really realize through this whole process until looking back on everything is how “real” and how “serious” this whole process really was! I mean, paperwork alone and making decisions if something were to happen to one or both of us who would get our eggs or embryos… Its very real life decisions that had to be made! The many ultrasounds that weren’t even for a real life baby, but checking to be sure my body is responding to the medications to mature my eggs was fascinating to me. Hopefully in the end with our “extra” eggs I can help other couples and spread the gift of life, that would be incredible for me!
After my retrieval, the facility staff knowing of my blog allowed me to go into the actual lab where they had John’s sperm under the microscope and I actually got to see them moving! It was absolutely amazing! I mean, who gets the actual very first picture of their kids before their even technically kids! I just find it all to be so absolutely fascinating how science can actually make a baby out of they tiny little swimming sperms and eggs! Its incredible!
While some religions and ethics make it hard for society to accept IVF and alternatives to having children naturally, When looking back I feel like the entire experience was absolutely incredible! The thought of not being able to conceive naturally or at all has crossed my mind, and at 26 years old and newly married it is upsetting because I know that is a dream of both John and I. No matter what route we must travel, whether these eggs or embryos actually become a real life baby… We will have shared this journey and the journeys to come together. What is meant to be will happen! Whether through this approach or adopting children, or even having children naturally when all os said and done! We will have a beautiful family when the time is right, and we will be the most loving parents!
Until then… Stay warm little Elsa’s and Kristoff’s, we will warm you up soon!