Monday, February 16, 2015

What is IVF?...and Other Answers

The one question that I have been asked the most since we received our big news is wondering what IVF is and what the process is.

IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a longer and more involved process than the IUI procedures. When we decide that it is the right time for us to proceed with IVF and we have the financial resources, it will be about a three month process. Once we are ready, we will be calling the doctor's office and they will schedule a bunch of tests and a water ultrasound to make sure everything is good to go with IVF. I will then be put on a month of birth control. Yes, I know that sounds strange but the birth control allows everything to get regulated and allows the doctor to take control of the process. After the month of birth control everything really gets rolling.

On average, someone going through IVF will start giving themselves 2-3 shots per day to help in the process. These medicines help stimulate the ovaries. Usually you produce one egg per month but the idea is that you try to get as many eggs as possible. These medicines help with that. They help them become as mature as possible and they also help the eggs not to be released yet. During this time there are multiple blood draws, ultrasounds, and appointments. When it is determined that the eggs are ready, an HCG shot is administered. This is the same shot I did for the IUI procedure as well.

Once the HCG shot has been administered, they will schedule an egg retrieval procedure. A needle is used to retrieve the the eggs (luckily I will be heavily sedated) and they are fertilized with sperm in a lab. The embryos will be watched in the lab for 5 days and after that then the best 1 or 2 embryos will be transferred back to my uterus.

Even though that is the most intense part with the appointments and the medications, I think the hardest part will be the two weeks following transfer. It is just a two week wait to see if the procedure worked. I am not patient and the two week wait was the hardest part of the IUI procedures.

After the two week wait we will have a blood draw that will tell us the results. If it worked and the results are positive we would then go on to have more blood tests to monitor the pregnancy and have early ultrasounds. If the results come back negative we will just move forward from there. Depending on how the first round goes we may have frozen embryos that we can use to do another transfer or we may have to start from scratch again if we don't have any frozen embryos.

Am I scared to go through all of this? Definitely! I am so scared of the side effects and the whole process in general. It is not going to be easy, but it will all be worth it for our baby. I am scared that the whole thing won't work. I am scared that we will put so much effort and finances into all of it and it will end in heartbreak. It will be devastating if it doesn't work. However, I can't focus on what may or may not happen. I just need to move forward in the direction we are being prompted to move in.

Overall, I am beyond grateful for the modern technology that we have. It was not long ago that IVF wasn't even an option. I feel so blessed and grateful that this is an option for us and this is a possibility.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What is PCOS?

One of the questions that I get asked is what exactly is PCOS? Even though I have known I have had this for a while I have never actually posted about it. It is something that is not pleasant at all to have and so I haven't talked about it much.

PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is an endocrine system disorder, which basically means your hormones are out of balance. The hormone imbalance causes cysts to form on your ovaries. It can also cause a variety of other things to happen such as no monthly ovulation (no egg being released each month), thin hair, facial hair, insulin resistance (which can lead to weight gain), and a variety of other lovely things.

Growing up, I had always been larger than most of the kids but I never knew why. I figured diet was of course at least part of the issue but whenever I would try to eat better I would still just gain weight. I also had a variety of other symptoms that I just didn't understand. I was relieved when Dr. Foulk was able to tell me what was really happening. I remember our first appointment with him, he walked in and said he knew at least a part of our problem and was very confident about it. He did an ultrasound to show us the cysts that were all over my ovaries. He asked about my weight history and he was able to tell me that it was a huge symptom of PCOS. He told me that when someone would have to do x amount of exercise to lose weight, someone with PCOS would have to do about 3 times that much to lose the same amount of weight. It made me feel better that it wasn't just me, that there was actually something else causing it, as well as all of my other symptoms. I had other doctors that had done one or two tests here or there but never really came up with a diagnosis for it all.

Dr. Foulk was able to prescribe some medications for me that help with some of the symptoms. I am so grateful that he did. He was able to do further testing to help fix some of the hormone issues as well. Before meeting with Dr. Foulk I would have an extremely hard time getting up in the morning and get going with my day. I would drag and couldn't seem to function at all. One of the prescriptions he prescribed me has made me feel so much better. I take it a half hour before breakfast. I usually take it about a half hour before I plan to get out of bed and within that half hour I am able to function normally and get up and going for the day. It makes life so much easier to get started out better in the morning.

Since being diagnosed, I have also become more patient with myself and my symptoms. I get frustrated with it all the time and feel like I am broken since I don't function like a normal person, but it is me. Now that I have a diagnosis I  have been able to cope with everything it brings.