After putting in our order for sperm (which ended up being $1667.75 for two vials, by the way!), the next step was just to wait! Unfortunately, we had a little longer to wait that we would have liked, as we went to Mexico over the Christmas holidays for our honeymoon. Due to the risk of Zika virus, our doctor recommended we wait until 2 months after our return date to try to get pregnant, just in case. That was a little bit discouraging, as we had already waited three months for the consult and have been wanting to have a family basically forever. But, better safe than sorry, I suppose. So, by my calculations (I had been tracking my cycle for the last 5 months) we could “start trying” the first week in March.
This gave me quite a bit of time (or at least it felt that way) to get everything ready. And by everything, I mean my body. I began a pretty rigorous schedule of yoga, weight training and healthy eating, to try and give us the best chances of conceiving. I figured, if I’m healthy and my hormones are normal and my cycle is consistent, how could IUI not work the first time, right? I wanted to use this time to really get in the mind frame of having a baby, and also try to set myself up for the best pregnancy possible. Have I mentioned that I’m a planner? At the same time, I was trying to live in the present and not get ahead of myself with the endless questions that lurked in the corners of my mind. What if it doesn’t work the first time? Or the second time? What if it never works? What if my body isn’t good enough?
Not wanting to go down that road (because stress definitely does not help increase fertility), I buried myself in reading pregnancy books and working out. I tried to look at this extra waiting time as a gift instead of a drawback.
The next step in the IUI process was to call the fertility clinic on day 1 of my cycle (the first day of my period), upon which they would give me an ultrasound appointment for follicle tracking. As a woman who normally dreads her period, I was so excited when Aunt Flo came to visit! I nervously called the nurses at the fertility clinic and they gave me my first ultrasound appointment scheduled for day 10 of my cycle. Yay! The purpose of these ultrasounds is to see if you have a follicle (which is the part of the ovary that holds an egg) that is developing appropriately. This allows the IUI procedure to be scheduled naturally and very accurately. No point in tossing a bunch of sperm in my uterus, if there is no egg to be seen, amirite?
On day 10 of my cycle, I showed up at the ultrasound clinic very early and very excited to start what felt like the first real step towards IUI! Once again, it was my favourite transvaginal ultrasound. The tech was very nice and had me insert the ultrasound wand myself and was very discrete about everything, but it was not the most wonderful start to a day.
Later that day, I received a call from the clinic which I anxiously answered and heard the rivetting news that I would need yet another ultrasound. To be honest, I wasn’t completely surprised because I do have a longer than normal cycle, about 30-33 days. The first ultrasound had not shown enough follicular development, so I was scheduled to come back in on Monday after the weekend.
Apparently, my left ovary had gotten it’s crap together over the weekend because after my ultrasound on Monday I had a date for my IUI appointment! March 2, 2017. My left ovary had a follicle that was developing nicely. I was so nervous when I got the call from the clinic and I just repeated what the nurse said to me a million times to make sure I heard it correctly. I probably sounded like a rambling idiot, but I just couldn’t believe we actually had a date! I might be pregnant in a couple of weeks!!! Tears welled up in my eyes and I called my wife right away to tell her the news. If a phone call for an appointment can make me cry, can you imagine the effect pregnancy hormones will have on me? I’m sure lucky my wife thinks I’m cute.
The final step before the IUI appointment was not something I was particularly excited about: an injection of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This injection induces ovulation within 24-36 hours, so the idea is that you take it 36 hours before the insemination so that the sperm is waiting in the fallopian tubes for the egg to arrive. An egg can survive for about 24-48 hours, whereas sperm can live up to 5 days! So gross, right? I like to think of hCG as a little kick for the egg to jump out of it’s follicular home and find a sperm friend!
I can’t even count the number of injections I’ve given to patients over the years, but I have never injected myself with anything and it was kind of freaking me out. I went to the pharmacy on my way home from work and picked up the medication. The brand name was Ovidrel and it was $96 for one dose (cha ching!). For that price, this stuff had better work. I was pleasantly surprised to find it in a pre-filled syringe pen, which meant I didn’t have to use my cool nursing skills drawing it out of a multi-dose vial. The injection was to be done at 10:30pm on Tuesday, as our IUI appointment was for 10:30 am on Thursday. The Ovidrel is supposed to induce ovulation within 24-36 hours, which is why the IUI procedure is scheduled for 36 hours after the injection. My wife and I are basically grandmas already, because 10:30 pm is waaay past our bedtime, but of course we made an exception for something so important.
At 10:25, I began preparing the syringe, which just required a little flicking and clicking of the dial to ensure the correct dosage. It was a subcutaneous injection (which means it goes below the skin, in some fatty tissue) and I didn’t have any trouble finding a pudgy bit on my tummy. I cleansed the area with an alcohol swab, took a deep breath and plunged the needle in. Seeing how freaked out I was, my sweet wife offered to give me the injection for me, but I figured it might hurt less if I did it myself. I slowly injected the Ovidrel and held the needle in place for a full 10 seconds after finishing, just to make sure the entire dose was delivered. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, thank goodness, but it wasn’t high up on my list of things to do on a Tuesday night.
On top of all of this, I had to rearrange my work schedule around all of these various appointments, which again isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but also increases the stress of the process. I’m lucky that I have a decently flexible job with vacation days and a supportive manager and staff, otherwise I’m not sure how we would have been able to do it. Our big appointment on March 2, meant we both had to take an entire day off of work, as the clinic is 2 hours away. But we really didn’t care too much about that, as it meant we were one more little step closer to starting a family.
P.S. – If you’re enjoying reading our journey so far, you should follow me because it’s gonna get juicy soon! If you scroll up, you should see a box show up in the bottom right hand corner where you can enter your email address. Thanks for the support! ♥