Let me break it down for you in layman’s terms and tell you about the process from my eyes. Complete transparency here though, so stop reading now if loosely accurate medical terms and reference to many bodily fluids give you the heeby jeebies. I’m going to tell the story of my first round of IUI, starting on Day one of my 28 day cycle. (For the gents, that’s a standard period cycle.)
Day 1: I get my period! Yay! First time ever being excited to be on a period! On day one, I’m supposed to call the doctor to alert them that I’m ready to try my first round of IUI. They only let you try 3 or 4 times. I imagine that’s because the drugs are pretty hard core on your body, and it’s also about a 25% chance each time of working so by round 4 if it doesn’t work, there might be something else going on. It’s after 5pm though, so the office is closed and I have to wait until the next day.
Day 2: I call the doctors office and they tell me to take out a pad of paper for my checklist of items to accomplish in the next couple of weeks. 1. Order the sperm. Ship it to us to arrive on day twelve. Not earlier, not later. The cryotank only holds for five days. 2. Order your trigger shot of HCG from a specialty pharmacy in Arizona to arrive on day eleven. 3. Go pick up five days worth of Letrozole at the pharmacy and start taking it on day five. It’s going to fire up your eggs. 4. Schedule an ultrasound to measure your follicles on day eleven. 5. Go in tomorrow on day three to get bloodwork done. Did you get all that?
Day 3: Bloodwork. I am now a regular at my local blood place. Good thing I love needles and have the worlds best blood donation vein in the crook of my arm.
Day 4: Spent the day reviewing sperm donor options and narrowing down the final selection. Also spent the night out on the town considering live donation options. Just kidding. I spent 17 years doing that, it’s a little late now for the live donation option. I’ve committed. Also spent the day googling “pelvic ultrasound”, “HCG”, “trigger shot”, “Letrozole”, and “Follicles”.
Day 5: Took two little pills of Letrozole in the morning with some food. These are pills that I am going to take for 5 days. Letrozole is a pill that is normally used to treat breast cancer. In this case, it’s going to give me extra hormones to increase the number eggs I produce. Fire em up!
Day 6-9: Holy. Crap. Extra hormones are no joke. I’m a “power through anything”, “never had a sick day in my entire career”, “what broken leg?” kind of girl. But these little suckers are strange. My side effect? Brainlessness. Completely airheaded. I would be talking to someone and looking directly past them. Distracted by EVERYTHING. Couldn’t focus on anything. If I met anyone new in those 5 days, I’m certain they thought I was an idiot.
Day 10-11: Let there be peace. Calm before the storm. Can I get some tequila please?
Day 12.1: The ultrasound. Yes, you were paying attention! It was supposed to be Day 11, but Day 11 was a Sunday. Yes, the IUI process allows for office hours. The ultrasound was internal. That was a little bit of a surprise. Nothing like the movies with the jelly on the stomach. The technician took her instrument and went right into my ovary. She counted and measured follicles. And then she went into my left ovary. And burst into a smile. “Wow! TWO giant dominant follicles!” (Still don’t get the follicles thing, I had not googled anything about dominant follicles or multiple follicles on Day 4. Why don’t they teach you able this stuff in school?)
Day 12.2: The doctors appointment. The doctor who is actually doing the IUI procedure walks in and… I KNOW HER!!! Oh Smallwaukee. She’s one of my best friends sisters best friends and we have done some excellent bachelorette partying together in the past. Good omen. She’s incredibly excited to see me, super pumped about the two follicle situation, it’s all very exciting. I’m to take the trigger shot tonight at 9pm, and then come back 36 hours later at 9am to get inseminated.
Day 12.3: The Arizona pharmacy messed up. They didn’t send the trigger shot on time. It’s trapped in a sorting facility by the airport in a giant metal shipping crate. On the way there, I stop to get a crowbar at the Home Depot to pry the crate open… Just kidding. My amazing doctor friend texts me and tells me that follicles grow slow, I’m not to stress, I’ll do it the next day! Sends me a GIF of some cute sperms swimming and a text that says “I’m excited I hopefully get to knock u up!” (Chillest. Best. Doctor. Ever.)
Day 12.4: Spent the night googling what the heck a follicle is. Turns out, follicles are where the eggs come from. You get one, and rarely two or more follicles every month. This is called the dominant follicle. Follicles happen in your left and right ovary, but the dominant one appears in one or the other, and switches from left to right every other month. When the follicle gets big enough, it explodes, and the egg emerges from it, and that’s ovulation. I think.
Day 13: The HGC trigger shot finally arrives via FedEx in the afternoon. Which means, I have to wake up at 2:30 in the morning to inject myself for my 2:30 in the afternoon appointment 36 hours later. I watch this video to prepare.
Day 14.1: (2:30am) I watch my video again to prepare, and then I begin to mix the compounds. I take a syringe, take some air out of the powder jar, put it into the liquid jar, then I take the liquid from the liquid jar, put it in the powder jar, and then swirl gently to combine. Then, I switch the needle to the injecting needle, and I prepare the shot. My lifetime of watching medical dramas has been waiting for this moment. I’m fully prepared. Am I prepared for having to get it in a spot in my butt that I can’t reach? Probably not, but this is what I signed up for going at this alone. (Brief J-Lo fantasy moment that this time doesn’t work and the next time the love of my life injects me and we laugh, and laugh, and then we snuggle…) I awkwardly reach behind me, and stab the needle into the fleshy part and press the plunger. It. Is. Finished. I go back to bed.
Day 14.2: I wake up this morning ANGRY. HCG has one side effect on me. It’s anger. I hate everything, everyone, I can’t talk unless it’s in an angry voice, keeping my shit together for more than 30 minutes is HARD. HCG is the pee of a pregnant woman. Or horse. Or anything pregnant. But it’s pee. Some people use it to diet, but in this case, it’s forcing my folicle to erupt so that egg comes out. So that’s also happening. Day 14.2 can kiss my ass. But I’m fine. It’s fine.
Day 15: The big day. I arrive at 2:30 for my appointment, and a nurse is holding the teeny tiny vial of sperm in her hand. Her and the other nurses have been passing it around for the past half hour, bringing it from cryotank frozen to sperm temperature with the love radiating from their hands. Aww. I sit on the edge of the patient bed in a windowless room. Yes, glamorous conditions for conceiving. My doctor excitedly walks in with a posse. She’s got a nurse and a student doctor. She wants to know if the student doctor can watch and learn. My response? “The more the merrier!” (Hindsight, super odd thing to say during a conception.) She takes a syringe with a 6 inch soft, thin attachment on it. Think about the science of that product design. Wink wink. Sperm goes in, pillow goes under my butt to raise my hips, and I’m left in the windowless room with a 20 minute timer to allow the spermies a head start on their journey. I spent the 20 minutes after on my phone. See? Not everything was different than the old fashioned way. Just kidding. That was funny though, you have to admit it. My doctor runs out of the room with a drop of leftover sperm to look at it under a microscope. She said they were incredible. All 38 million of them! My favorite part was after my 20 minutes she let me look at them too, and they were still swimming. It was BEAUTIFUL. I’ll never be able to look at that particular bodily fluid the same every again.
Day 16: What better way to celebrate an insemination than to throw a party for 100 of your closest friends? You can read the article here.
Day 17-26: Just living my life. Pretending I’m stress free. Pretending I’m not thinking about it 24/7 and wondering if every little feeling in my body is a pregnancy symptom. Just lying my way through the days.
Day 27.1/Day 1: My SIL kept trying to get me to pee on a stick on days 25 and 26. I refused (mostly because I really wanted to enjoy that last glass of wine) In hindsight, I wish I would have peed on that stick. I would have MUCH rather found out that it didn’t work and I wasn’t pregnant from a stick rather than my day early, vengeful period arriving.
Day 27.2/Day 1: Toughest part about today was that it wasn’t just the end of IUI Round 1, it was also Day 1 of IUI Round 2. I had the morning to deal with the emotions of finding out that I wasn’t pregnant, and some time mid day to decide if I was ready or wanted to embark on a Round 2, and then the afternoon to commit, make my calls, and start preparing for Round 2. Wild round of emotions.
Now that you know the process, you’ll know what I’m up against for Round 2. Wish me luck!
Thanks for joining me on my journey,