Frustrations about Follicle Count and Size

I share a frustrating update about my follicle count and size during this IVF stimulation phase. I remind myself to breathe and stay here because the future is unknown…no one knows the end of my story yet.


Frickin' Follicles

The brain fog up in here is super dense today, y’all.

(I don’t normally say “y’all.” The brain fog made me do it.)

The words are all fuzzy and my thoughts are slow. It almost feels as though English is my second language. Formulating sentences takes that much more concentrated effort. I wish I could just word-vomit like I usually do…well, hopefully it’s beautiful and interesting word-vomit. 

(I probably shouldn’t say word-vomit. Especially not twice. Definitely not thrice. The brain fog made me do it.)

Cory and me after our first morning of injections

Cory and me after our first morning of injections

The medications are screwing with my mind. I have so much I want to share about what has been happening to us these past few days, but the energy is just not there. It’s not. And on top of my fatigue, I just got some less than stellar news. 

Yesterday afternoon, an IVF nurse called me with my results from my blood work and ultrasound from earlier that day. I found out that I have four follicles in my left ovary and eight follicles in my right ovary. 12 total – sounds great, right? Well, size matters (my inner teenage boy really enjoyed that sentence). My follicles aren’t as big as they should be. By the way, this is only my conjecture. The nurse didn’t actually say these words.

Only two of the twelve follicles are 10 mm, a good size. The other eight are 7 mm or smaller, not that great. I need at least four follicles to be 16+ mm by next Thursday in order to go through with the egg retrieval on Friday/Saturday. If I don’t have the minimum amount of mature enough follicles, we abort mission. All the injections would be for nothing, and we’d have to start all over again (if we decided to try again). 

I asked the nurse if she thought there would be good outcomes with my current follicle count and size. She said, “I hope…?” with a mega upward, doubt-y inflection at the end. Fantastic.

I’m feeling hopeless. I feel angry with my body for not responding to this ridiculously large hormone-cocktail we’re injecting ‘round the clock (wish I could have a real cocktail). I wonder why my body can’t just frickin’ cooperate with me in one thing. Just one thing. My eggs are being stubborn. My unicornuate uterus makes me anxious. My RA is bad this week and is now progressing to my spine (which might be ankylosing spondylitis, another auto-immune joint disease). 

I recognize that I’m not being mindful or zen about this right now, and I’m just going to allow it. I need to be angry for a hot second before I can breathe into this frustration or find a calming mantra for the rest of my day. Right now I’m just pissed. 

That being said, my rationale mind knows that I would benefit from pausing, breathing, and nonjudgmental-observing. 

(As I typed those words, something clicked inside of me…I took a brief moment from typing to follow my own advice. I also took a bathroom break because I noticed my full bladder was adding to my anxious energy. Sometimes a good pee is just what the doctor ordered.)

During my break, I also paused to read this beautiful poem by Lynn Shattuck:

"This is for the days when we are terrified or broken

When our hearts and minds feel splintered
And everything is going too fast
And too slow
For the days when there are no easy answers, no drive-thru fixes, when sleep eludes us
When all we can do is
Breathe and breathe and breathe

On these days, we can treat ourselves like a small, beloved child
We bathe in warm water
We feed ourselves soft, buttery toast
We sip water to replenish the tears
We soften to ourselves, over and over and over
We listen to the flutters of panic running through our bodies…”
(See the full poem at the bottom of this post)

 
We breathe.PNG
 

Okay, I’m back and a bit calmer. 

After some breathing and reflection, I realize this: the bottom line is no one knows the future. I don’t know. The nurse doesn’t know. My own growing follicles don’t even know. 


So what do I know?  

  • I know that some of my follicles are responding to the medication as expected.

  • I know I have a team of experts guiding my medication dosages the next six days to maximize follicular growth.

  • I know this part of the IVF process hasn’t been horrible – the injections have been tolerable and I’ve had minimal side effects (knock on wood).

  • I know that not everyone has the opportunity to even do IVF, and that this truly is a gift.

  • I know I have a kick-ass husband who is supportive and really fly at giving injections (minus the first one he ever gave me...which resulted in the needle popping out of my skin and requiring re-insertion! I’ll tell you more about that in a later post!).

  • I know I have a supportive family who is cheering me on from the sidelines.

  • I know I have a Unicorn Crew on social media (and in real life) who has my back and only wants the best for me.

  • I know I am a resilient and wise and willing to do whatever it takes.

And that “whatever it takes” today means doing my best to stay in the here and now…while simultaneously embracing the scared little me in the corner who whispers skepticism and negativity. I’ll take that scared little me by the hand and gently guide her to my side. I’ll have her “bathe in warm water” and feed her “soft, buttery toast.” Maybe I’ll put on an episode of Bachelor In Paradise or Sharp Objects (pretty sure that part wasn’t in the poem!). And we’ll be okay just getting through this moment. 


“We breathe through this moment. And this one. And this.”
 

 
The bravest of my Unicorn Tribe :) #chinpics #sexyandweknowit

The bravest of my Unicorn Tribe :) #chinpics #sexyandweknowit

 


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An Affirmation for the Hardest Days
by Lynn Shattuck

“This is for the days when we are terrified or broken

When our hearts and minds feel splintered
And everything is going too fast
And too slow
For the days when there are no easy answers, no drive-thru fixes, when sleep eludes us
When all we can do is
Breathe and breathe and breathe

On these days, we can treat ourselves like a small, beloved child
We bathe in warm water
We feed ourselves soft, buttery toast
We sip water to replenish the tears
We soften to ourselves, over and over and over
We listen to the flutters of panic running through our bodies

We reach out to the friends who always have the right words
Or who can sit comfortably in the unknowing

We mother ourselves.

I don’t know if I can do this, we whisper, cry, or scream
You will be okay no matter what, a still, deep voice whispers back

We place our hands on our heart
This heart that knit itself together from nowhere and everywhere
We remind ourselves how beautiful
And rare
And connected
We are

Maybe we walk in the season’s first snow
Barely seeing the flakes that become white smears all around our cheeks

Maybe we pray and pray and pray
And we wait for answers to appear like drifting clouds

Maybe we find a church
Or a 12-step meeting
Or a coffee shop
Or a podcast
We look for soft, sweet places to rest in,
To be cradled

We open ourselves to the smallest flecks of beauty
We train our hearts to hold both light and dark

The only way through is through, we say
We keep walking through this searing pain
This icy uncertainty
This dark and damp underground

We picture, for a moment, all the other souls who are struggling at this same second
Through illness and grief
Through heartache and hunger
We feel the pulsing pain that connects us all
A ripe, ruby web
We are not alone, we whisper

We remember other eras when we felt like this
And we remember how over and over again, we survived

We sit with our discomfort
Our aches
Our own hollow, hallowed loneliness
We breathe through this moment
And this one
And this.”

-Lynn Shattuck

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