Heh. I said I was going to tell you what it was like to balance running and infertility treatments – boy am I ever. What a fun week.
So the big news is that I was supposed to be headed to the airport right now to get a plane out of this icy dodge. DB and I were headed down to Orlando to run the Princess Half Marathon with Gwen (one of our closest friends) and her 14 year-old daughter, Lexi (our “adopted” niece). Gwen’s husband is DB’s best friend and bromance, and just ran Rocky Raccoon with us. We are close to their family. Gwen and Lexi are running their first half marathon – this is a BIG DEAL. They decided last year at the Princess Half Marathon that they would both run it this year, and we said we were onboard for moral and athletic support. So all five of us were set to run, with younger daughter Molly joining us for the pre-race jaunt through the Magic Kingdom.
Not so fast, as you will see. But it gets funnier.
Depending on your sense of humor.
With regard to the running, it’s been touch and go, which is normal after a 100-miler. There’s a general rule of thumb that the first 100 miles you run after a 100-miler are the worst, and from there you start feeling like yourself again. That means you can have great runs for a day or two, and then feel like s.l.u.d.g.e for the next three. And then suddenly bust out seven minute miles the next day. I guess it’s called “recovery.”
It’s certainly complicated by the hormones, which make me super sleepy, super moody, and super unmotivated. Add that to the unexpected stress of the week … like I said. Fun.
Saturday, February 16: 14.5 with my neighborhood running group. I was really, really struggling at the end and almost dropped back. I was proud of myself for pushing to stay with the group with the exception of the final hill to the finish. I kept telling myself that it was okay, I had pushed hard through all of my training, but I also knew that I had enough juice in the tank to get through the last two miles. The best part of this run? After three months of back-to-backs and overdistance runs, I got to start when the group started, and end when the group ended. Awesome. Pilates/core class an hour later. 100 iu’s of Follistim. Fatigue hit mid-day. I had done two solid workouts (the run and the Pilates class) so I wasn’t ready to blame the Follistim yet. Watched the first half of Roots and then three hours of “The Big Bang Theory.” Again, meet lazy Clove.
Sunday, February 17: 6 miles on frozen trail with DB and our friend Darrin. It was supposed to be 12 miles (two loops), but it was bitter cold with dicey footing, and Darrin decided he didn’t need to run a 50K two weeks after a 100-miler. Nice not to be worried about mileage in a situation like this. Succumbed to the siren’s call and got a double tall peppermint mocha on the way home, which powered me through laundry and housework. 100 iu’s of Follistim. Finally got back into my shot-giving groove – this was the first one that didn’t hurt or sting. Mention to DB that I am having some (minor) stabbing pains and crampy feelings on right side.
Monday, February 18: Two back to back spin classes. 100 iu’s of Follistim. The fatigue hits full force like a semi. One hour nap after which I force my body awake with massive amounts of sugar since I can’t have caffeine. Oh, and peanut butter. Decide to just start carrying a jar of Jif in my purse.
Tuesday, February 19: Skip Tuesday morning run with the neighborhood group because sleep seems like the most important thing ever invented (after peanut butter). Haul ragged a$$ out of bed for 6:30 am Pilates/core class because I can’t do that one later. Get a$$ kicked in a good way. Have to leave early to get to lab/doctor by 7:30 am. Now the real fun starts. At 7:30 am I have my first blood draw to check my estradiol levels. I am a tough draw because I have low blood pressure and I need a butterfly. But the techs don’t like using butterflies so they just keep poking that stupid straight needle further in. Sigh. Once they’ve got their blood, I head over to the doctor’s office next door for my first follicular scan.
Follicular scans check the development of the follicles in the ovaries via transvaginal ultrasound. We have other terms for it at home. First they check the depth of the uterine lining to make sure it’s able to support a pregnancy; next they check both ovaries to see how many follicles have developed and what stage of maturity they’re at via a measurement.
They like to see the follicles get to 18 mm or so before giving the “trigger shot,” a shot of hcg (pregnancy hormone) that mimics LH but forces ovulation in a precise timeframe. Follicles grow at about 2 mm per day at best.
I have four (4) follicles getting ready for action on my right ovary, all measuring at 10 mm, an appropriate measurement for cycle day 8. I have two (2) measuring at 10 mm on the left. Salty jokes about quints. Don’t worry, we’ve let loose two or three fully developed eggs in the past and still not been pregnant.
Now I have to make certain I have my phone with me at all times until I hear from the nurses later in the day. The blood work with the estradiol level comes back same day, and based on that and the follicular measurements, they call me with my next set of instructions and dosages. Spend first part of afternoon trying to avoid napping.
Get call from nurse at 2 pm. Nurse says estradiol is at 336 which is fantastic. We’re going to continue with 100 iu’s of Follistim Tuesday night and Wednesday night, and go back for another scan on Thursday. Perfect, Clove thinks. We’ll trigger this weekend and the next procedure will be early next week. Oh! Clove remembers to tell the nurse that DB will be out of town at a conference early next week, so we may need to freeze his specimen. (Yes, you can do that. If I were able to get pregnant, he could do it all the way from Georgia.)
What about this weekend, the nurse asks. Depending on how well you respond, we may have to do the insemination this weekend.
FUDGE! (is not what Clove thinks). Frantic phone call to the third office we deal with to set appointment for the collection and freezing of specimen. Tell DB. DB freaks out about travel to conference, which was booked through Orlando, where we may not be. Hormonal Clove instigates evil fight about how this is not “all about him,” at which point she has thoroughly exhausted self and sleeps for two hours.
100 iu’s of Follistim. Shot is like butter. I am awesome.
Angry 8 miles run on treadmill later that evening. Mostly angry with self, as intended to run outside but left mittens in washer, not dryer. They are wet.
Wednesday, February 20: Eight night miles after a two-hour nap. Hamstrings are really bothering me; they feel like they’ve been run across a cheese grater and are shredded. Manage to run at what feels like a decent pace, although watch reveals it was only around 9:15’s. In shape (three weeks ago) I do this loop at about 8:30’s. Cooler heads prevail after a night of sleep. Clove begins to do the math and realizes that unless these are wonder follicles, there is no way they’ll be stuck at home this weekend. If they were 10’s on Tuesday, that means 12’s on Wednesday, 14’s on Thursday at best, so they won’t even be close to 18 until Saturday at the earliest – and that’s IF they’re wonder follicles. The worst thing they may do is make me come in for a Saturday ultrasound, but I can try to talk my way out of it, or fly to Florida afterwards. Have to cancel hotel at Disney, however, as deposit is forfeited if I don’t cancel that day – and you know Murphy’s Law. DB gets concerned about trip and conference again. We are supposed to have dinner with friends and Clove goes into hormonal tailspin when DB can’t decide if he wants to or not. World War III ensues about how Clove has to make all dinner decisions, on the face of the earth, EVER. She exhausts herself into yet another two-hour nap, wakes up, and having completely forgotten about prior argument, sweetly asks DB what he wants to do for dinner. DB looks … terrified. Checks to make sure rabbits are not boiling on stove.
100 mg’s of Follistim. Have gotten too cocky after the last two shots and misfire not once, but twice. Three little pricks for one stupid shot. Sigh.
Thursday, February 21: Eight mile loop with the morning run group, two quick treadmill miles for fun and a single spin class at night. After morning run, quick shower before hopping in the car and heading to the lab at 7:30. There can be as many as two dozen women all getting the blood draws and scans on any given morning, and it’s first come first serve. Apologize to the lab tech that I’m a tough draw but request butterfly for everyone’s sake. Head over for scan. And …
Crap. They’re wonder follicles.
The uterine lining is up to 11 mm (they like it over 8). But whoa buddy, two of the follicles on the right are up to 17 mm, with the third and fourth at 15 mm and 14 mm. The left ovary appears to have given up the ghost; the two 10’s that were there on Tuesday are just at 13 mm and 12 mm, so not doing too much. Likely to give the guys three separate targets if everything continues at this rate.
The doctor doing the scans is not my doctor (they’re on rotation for the early morning scans), but he tells me I can expect one more night of Follistim with a Friday night trigger and an insemination on Sunday morning. He also tells me it’s time for us to get busy, which is always just a weird conversation. Pounding estrogen headache.
DB freaks out about the travel again. So Clove eats some peanut butter and goes back to sleep. Call from nurse at 3 pm – estradiol is at 886! A mature follicle peaks at 200, which means we’re looking at 2 to 3 mature follicles plus the residual estradiol from the underdeveloped ones. She confirms: one more night of Follistim, Friday trigger, Sunday procedure. Receive instructions for picking up frozen specimen. Cancel trip. Re-book DB’s travel. He still leaves early Sunday morning – he will not be here for the procedure. Still have headache.
100 iu’s of Follistim. Like butter; I’m back.
Friday, February 22: Eight miles through icy wonderland. persistent stabbing pains on right side. Appetite out of control, which is ridiculous because I won’t let my stomach growl but I know I’m not actually hungry. Headache is lingering but not as sharp. Time for the trigger shot.
These shots are often administered in upper hip/buttock area, but my sweet husband is too nervous to do it. It’s actually easier for me to do it myself, and since I choose to do my other shots in my leg (Follistim is leg or stomach), it’s not too big a deal. Except for the being totally relaxed as you shove a needle deep into your quad while you worry that you got the ratio of solvent to powder wrong.
The shot had to be done between 9 and 9:30 pm. Ovulation will take place 36 hours from now, or Sunday morning between 9:00 and 10:00 am. While this particular shot is not easy or fun (and involves injecting an entire ml of fluid into my quad), it went as well as could be expected and was only minimally painful. When I wake up tomorrow, I’ll be the hormonal equivalent of six weeks pregnant. And not in Florida.
Weekly totals: 54 miles, 3 hours of spinning, 600 iu’s of Follistim, 5,000 iu’s of Pregnyl and no trip to Florida. One amazing husband who is an absolute saint. This is easily just as difficult on him.