Tomorrow is the day. This addict is tired of only popping a measly little birth control pill every morning. Thankfully the waiting for the good stuff is coming to an end. Tomorrow I begin the real work that will take us towards our March 13th transfer date.
Yes, the time has come when I start shooting up.
I have been waiting with anticipation all weekend for the morning when I start taking Lupron injections. Even though the are small, they are mighty, and the shots are a critical stepping stone that will lead us to the Promised Land.
As I discussed in Addicted to IVF, there is just something about this phase in the cycle that makes the long time IVF gal get excited. Heck, even if it is your first IVF it is thrilling to take that first shot, albeit a little frightening. After all you have so much time, money, hope and energy invested into this part of the process.
And best of all, you finally get to put your Baby in a Box to good use.
What is this Baby in a Box?
When you go through IVF you require a number of different medications for different phases of the cycle. These medications are not your average, every day, run-of-the mill medications. Your local Walgreen’s does not keep them in stock. Therefore they must be ordered through the mail, typically through a specialty pharmacy.
When we start an IVF cycle, all my meds are sent to me in one big box which happens to be about the size of a very large baby. If the meds do what they are supposed to and your body complies you will have a baby in about 10 months or so.
And there you have it, a Baby in a Box.
There are a lot of drugs that do a lot of fun stuff in the box. What you see above is only a portion of it because we are currently only doing a portion of the IVF cycle.
The first phase of an IVF cycle is the stimulation phase. This is what we did back in November when we amped up my body with hormones to help it develop many eggs instead of the usual one per month. The stimulation phase is without a doubt the most grueling part of IVF. It can be quite uncomfortable and culminates in an invasive surgery to remove the eggs. Stimulation is also the most expensive part of the cycle and I am glad for that reason among many others that it is behind us.
Many clinics go straight from stimulation to transferring a fresh embryo back to Mom anywhere from 2 to 6 days after the eggs are retrieved. This is called a “fresh cycle.”
But that is not what we are doing. Not this time.
We are doing what is called a “frozen cycle.” We had the embryos genetically tested which means we had a great big pause between retrieval of the eggs to the part of the process we are now entering, the frozen embryo transfer.
Our embryo is 6 days old, chomosomaly perfect, and is just chilling out in cryofreeze waiting for us to come and get him (or her). Lupron is the first shot we take that will help us prepare to do just that. Its a small dose with a tiny little needle in my belly. This one I give myself because it is pretty painless and easy to administer. It does eventually make my tummy look like it has freckles all over it from the small scars, but those are battle wounds of which I am deeply proud. They do fade eventually.
Lupron, like most hormones involved in reproduction, is a weird dude. It’s short for Leuprolide or Lutenizing hormone (LH). Male and females both use LH to regulate the pituitary gland and control secretions of other hormones like follicle stimulating hormone (the stuff that makes all those eggs develop in the first IVF phase), testosterone, and estradiol. What makes LH weird and kind of cool in my opinion is that in small doses during certain points in a cycle it will down regulate these hormones. Shuts them right up. Quiets the body and limits the hormones secreted.However mid-cycle a large surge of LH (LH surge) will actually trigger ovulation and the resulting production of hormones. This surge is what will cause a home ovulation kit to have a smiley face or a dark line. I find its dual and seemingly contradictory functions fascinating.
Because LH in regular, small doses will slow the production of hormones that can feed certain types of cancers, it is often used in treatment of those cancers. And here is a super fun fact, high doses are sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders. Yep. You read that right.
Isn’t that lovely? As if we need another way for fertility treatments to impact the libido, and this one a scientifically proven one. However its somewhat irrelevant because the birth control pill I am on has already zapped what little libido I have at this stage in the process. Ironic that a birth control pill would do that but it does for me and always has.
For me, the main side effect of lupron is uber bitchiness. I mean, “stay out of her way” bitchiness. The mood altering effect of the drug is my primary side effect , but it also causes weight gain and headaches. Massive, horrible, headaches. The weight gain and headaches of course form a mean pair that further fuel the uber bitchiness. It’s not pretty.
Given all this you would think I would be dreading tomorrow, but in fact I am looking forward to it like a kid at Christmas. The Lupron shots I start tomorrow will shut my reproductive system down. This is so my doctor can take over and manipulate it with still other many other hormones that are to come. Its a little like computer that has been rebooted after new software is installed. When my reproductive system comes back online it will have a new operating system controlled by my RE. One more step toward bringing home baby. When you look at it that way, its pretty damn exciting.