My husband and I live with the pain that is Infertility. It’s one of the most painful and hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. It not only makes you feel alone, but it makes you bitter and jealous at everyone around you who seem to be able to get pregnant easily and quickly. Every pregnancy announcement, baby shower invite, birth announcement… it all hurts. I even deactivated my Facebook page and uninstalled social media apps because it got to be too much. I did write a detailed post about our infertility story and what kind of infertility we are dealing with… now I want to write about us starting our family.
A few years ago, we really had the talk about starting our family. We were ready… we are ready. We knew starting a family would be difficult, both financially and emotionally, due to my husband’s health fiasco many years ago. I ended up finding a fertility doctor local to us and made an appointment.
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Meeting Our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE)
Meeting our RE was intimidating. Walking into the lobby and seeing the baby pictures hung on the wall, the quiet atmosphere, awkwardly seeing other couples in the lobby knowing we’re all there for the same things.
We first met with our doctor back in 2016. I was nervous, excited, scared, you name it. Since it was our first visit, I had to go through a series of tests to test my fertility. These tests included bloodwork, ultrasounds, and an HSG scan. I am completely, 100% fertile and healthy. The doctor then said IVF would be the best option. At the time, I was heartbroken and too new to this process to really ask any questions. I didn’t bring up IUI… I didn’t ask if there were other ways. I just saw the giant price tag and my heart broke. Essentially, we gave up before the battle even began.
Fast Forward 2 Years Later
Fed up, I made another appointment with our RE. I knew IVF couldn’t possibly be the only thing we could do. I mean, what if my husband still is producing sperm? What about our frozen vials? This time… I had questions and I was ready.
Our main focus was the frozen sperm we had stored from before my husband went through cancer treatment. We had been paying monthly to keep it stored for 10 years now… of course that was our first line of offense. Unfortunately, the doctor wanted to go through with some urinalysis to check if my husband was still producing sperm. This was a fear of ours… as chemotherapy can literally kill a mans ability to produce sperm.
About a week after our first appointment, my husband went in for a urinalysis. If you’ve read my post about our Infertility Story, you’d know that my husband suffers from Retrograde Ejaculation due to a surgery called Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection (RPLND). We had been dealing with Retrograde Ejaculation for our entire relationship, so we knew this process wasn’t going to be easy. Thankfully, his urinalysis came back with great numbers… but with low motility. Our doctor believes the motility is just being killed due to the environment the sperm ends up (the bladder). But, with this information, we knew that In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) would not be off the table now because we have fresh sperm to fall back on!
The Difference between IUI and IVF
For those who may not know… Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is much different than IVF. IUI is more commonly referred to as the “turkey baster” method. It’s where they wash down sperm to separate the good from the bad, and use a catheter to gently release sperm closest to the Fallopian tubes inside of the woman’s cervix. This is a more cost effective and less-invasive method of assisted fertility.
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a much more expensive and invasive procedure. The process includes removing eggs from mature follicles and injecting sperm individually into each egg (ICSI). The fertilization is done manually, and the eggs are monitored to see how many hatch into embryos. From there, the embryo(s) are then placed into the uterus for implantation.
Starting Our IUI Journey
After consideration… our RE gave us the thumbs up to try IUI with our frozen vials. Since IUI was so much more affordable than IVF, we were ecstatic to be able to have a real shot at expanding our family! It brought so much relief to an already stressful situation. Infertility sucks!
We were then given the game plan on how we can become pregnant! My doctor wanted me on medications. He said if we were going to do this… we’re going to go right for it. So he immediately pulled out the big guns!
Our IUI Game Plan was:
- Call the clinic on cycle day 1
- Come in for bloodwork and ultrasound on Cycle Day 3
- Clomid (100mg)
- Gonal-F injections
- Cycle Day 12 Monitoring Appointment
It all felt so surreal! It was the one month I actually wanted my period to start. We didn’t try the previous month, so I knew testing would be pointless.
Cycle Day 2 Appointment
On September 6, 2018, my cycle had officially started and it was go time! I scheduled my blood-work appointment the next day (blood-work can be done between cycle days 2-4) which was Friday, September 7, 2018. The appointment went well. There was a sonogram to check the endo lining thickness, ovaries, and how many follicles were present. Apparently I had about 6-7 little follicles present at that scan.
The blood-work and scan results came in later that day and I got the call from my nurse with instructions on how to proceed!
My IUI Instructions:
Again, I am not a medical professional and wanted to share my story of IUI. The following were provided by a team of doctors after monitoring. For any medical questions regarding IUI and/or medications, please seek advice from a medical professional.
- Clomid (100mg) a day from cycle days 3-7
- Follistim (Gonal-F) 75 units on cycle days 6, 8, and 10
- Return to clinic on Monday, September 17, 2018 for follow up scans/blood-work
I Started Follistim and Clomid for IUI
Clomid wasn’t too big of a deal. You have to treat it like the birth control pill, however, by taking it at the same time every day. I opted to take it at noon. I didn’t feel the need to take it with food. Side effects I felt were nausea, cramping/pressure, and headaches.
After a few days of Clomid, it was time for Follistim (Gonal-F) injections. Needles never bothered me… I don’t freak out when I need to get shots done or blood drawn… but it’s a whole new game when you have to give yourself a shot.
Surprisingly, the injections weren’t bad at all. I don’t have a flat stomach, so I had chub to work with (haha). I didn’t feel the needle at all, and because the injections were a pen, it was easy to do. Pinch some skin, jab it in with one fell swoop, and push the button. Side effects for the Gonal-F were similar to Clomid: nausea, headaches, fatigue, lots of cramping and pressure, and just feeling like crud overall.
Cycle Day 12 Appointment
September 17, 2018 – Cycle Day 12 finally arrived! The medications made me feel so much pressure and twinges in my pelvis and hips, I was anxious to see the results of the sonogram! The scan went normally, except this time, I could SEE how large the follicles had gotten! They looked like golf-balls on the screen!
The technician pointed out that I had 4 follicles at a decent size. Around the range of 13-16mm. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the size the doctor wanted to see… so he had called me and instructed me to take more injections of Gonal-F that night, as well as the next, and to come in on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 to check the progress. I was a little disappointed, but that didn’t mean we were out yet!
The Next Follow-Up
This brings us to cycle day 14, September 19, 2018. My husband and I went to the clinic first thing in the morning for our 8:45am appointment. Sonogram and blood-work like the previous appointments and we were off. We ended up going grocery shopping and then going home and watching movies for most of the day. Around 2:30pm, I get the call from our nurse.
“The doctor reviewed your blood-work and scans and everything looks great! You responded VERY well to the medication. You have 4 follicles that are ready to go. However… you are at a very high risk for Twins or Triplets.”
Twins?! Triplets?! My mind starts racing. I knew having that many follicles would pose a risk… but we’ve come so far! I just want a baby. So I thanked the nurse, hung up, and looked to my husband (who had been listening because I put her on speaker phone). We stared at each other for a couple of seconds and didn’t have to discuss much. We were in.
Moving Forward with the IUI
Knowing the risks, but feeling so ready and excited, I called the nurse back and said “Let’s do it”
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Trigger Shot Time
My nurse instructed me to take the trigger shot that night at 10:15pm and our IUI is scheduled for Friday, September 21, 2018!
Nervous and excited, I scheduled an alarm on my phone for 10:15pm to take the trigger shot. The shot itself was not bad… no different than the Gonal-F injections. At the time I’m writing this, it has been a couple of hours since I have taken the trigger shot. My stomach has been rumbling a little bit, but no noticeable side effects as of now.
IUI Day + Results
This is where I leave this post to rest. I wanted to document the start of this journey because I know other couples’ stories helped me tremendously. I hope this story helps someone else who is in a similar situation.
In the next post… I will be talking about the IUI day and so on!
Rissa is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer alongside with managing her blog, So Very Me. She also runs a YouTube channel making family style vlogs and videos. When she’s not working, she’s usually playing video games with her husband and hanging out with her two pups, Kiba and Zoey.