Recently I discovered a deep connection between myself, as a woman undergoing fertility treatments, and a cow. I suppose, all women who have children and breastfeed will understand this connection at some point or another; but experiencing Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) really solidifies that bond. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I will ever eat beef again. Yup, I got inseminated and to get straight to it, it didn’t work…but, it was one heck of an experience and I’m stoked to tell you about it.
Allow me to start from the beginning. When I first mentioned to my doc that we were having a tough time conceiving again, she gave me a couple of options:
Option 1: get on the waitlist at the Regional Fertility Clinic (could take up to 6 months to get in, but it varies)
Option 2: check out Eclipse Heath Group – a new fertility clinic that’s a little hippy dippy and combines modern treatments with acupuncture, naturopathy, supplement therapy etc. Oh, and you can get an appointment tomorrow.
Option 2 for the win!
Disclaimer: *I have heard AMAZING things about both Eclipse and the Regional Fertility Clinic and I am not advocating for one over the other. Eclipse just fit with our plan and our timeline and we have loved our experience. I will sing the praises of Eclipse all day long because that was our experience, but am never intending to imply that the RFC is not a fabulous place to make a baby. That is all.*
So, Jamie and I booked our initial appointment and the ball was rolling. As per some of my previous posts, we did a lot of testing and I took a lot of medically sanctioned drugs and hundreds of dollars worth of supplements. We wanted to try as many of the non-invasive options available before diving into invasive treatments. It took a while to get through the testing and many mood swings and negative pregnancy tests later, we started talking about next steps. As we received that delightful little diagnosis of ‘unexplained fertility’, our doctor sat us down and recommended follicle tracking and IUI as our first step.
This recommendation came to us in the early days of summer this year. After a few deep conversations, we decided to give it a few more months and re-assess at the end of the summer. During a most spectacular BC road trip at the end of August, filled with endless hours of open road and time to talk, we decided to go ahead with IUI on September 1. I was excited, I was so hopeful and I was happy to have a plan.
Here is a brief rundown of how follicle tracking and IUI works with Eclipse:
Step 1: Call clinic on Day 1 of your cycle to commence treatment
Step 2: begin drugs to boost ovulation (Letrazol in my case)
Step 3: Come in for blood work and an ultrasound on day 6 or day 7 to check out the ol’ ovaries
– here they measured my follicles to see if they could determine when they would be mature enough to release an egg
– my follicles giggled when my doctor said ‘vagina’, so clearly they weren’t mature enough yet
Step 4: Come in for more blood work and another ultrasound on day 9 to measure again
– typically, there will be one or two more ultrasounds and the insemination usually takes place on day 14 or 15; but my follicles had matured almost overnight (go follicles!) and we were ready to go the next day!
*insert acupuncture sessions anywhere in these first few steps*
Step 5: Trigger shot (Ovidrel in my case – to force ovulation)
– self-injected the night before insemination
– see last post (‘Let’s Talk about Drugs…Baby’) for more info on that delightful experience
Step 5: Insemination…O_O
– All the infertility support groups refer to this step as ‘insem’. Sounds less technical and farm animal-like, so I’ll do the same from now on
– the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and we rolled into the clinic at 6:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, bleary eyed and nervous as hell
– Hubs provided his sample, and doc told us to go amuse ourselves for 45 minutes while she ‘cleaned and spun’ the sample (basically ensuring that only the strong survive)
– Found a coffee shop that was open, did a crossword and discussed all the things that could possibly go wrong
– Went back, lied down, doctor popped a catheter up my hoo-ha (clearly I’m a little immature with this word too…lol), completed the insem, dimmed the lights and told us to ‘relax for 10-15 minutes’…romantic.
Step 6: Insem #2
– Eclipse does two inseminations back to back to increase your chances
– this one was at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday
*yes, our doctor was there at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning – saint*
Step 7: Wait
Step 8: Blood test in 14 days
– insert sad face
That is the process in a nutshell. From what I understand the follicle tracking aspect (multiple ultrasounds, measuring follicles and the trigger shot) is unique to Eclipse and as a result, the cost for IUI at Eclipse is quite a bit higher in comparison to the RFC. In my opinion though, what we learned from that experience and the way we were treated and cared for was worth every penny. Even my budget conscious, accountant husband agrees ;).
So, we didn’t get a baby out of it, but we definitely took some things away. What we learned first and foremost is that Jamie has super-sperm! Honestly, our doctor said it was one of the best samples she’s ever seen…98% motility!! So…we were able to unequivocally rule out Jamie as the culprit for our issues. I could just picture him waltzing into work that morning with his chest puffed up and the first few notes of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ playing over and over again.
I, on the other hand, was a mysterious case of ‘huh?’. Most women ovulate around day 14/15 and I had always received positive ovulation tests on around day 14. So you can imagine my surprise when I was ready to go on day 10. My LH hormone (the one responsible for stimulating ovulation) didn’t spike even though my body said I was ready. With this information, we could make an educated guess that perhaps I was ovulating too late; but it’s tough to say for sure….could have just been the drugs.
Needless to say, it was a cool experience in many ways, but I don’t think we are ready to dive right back into another round. Between the expense and the added disappointment that comes from a significant investment in both time and money, we need a break. Not a break from trying, but a break from the intervention. We had a great experience, but the whole process is incredibly time consuming and physically invasive; not to mention, my body needs a break from all the drugs. We will keep tracking, taking our supplements and I’ll keep going to my beloved acupuncture sessions, but we are gonna take it down a notch. We can go back for two more IUI sessions before they start suggesting IVF, so we will re-assess in the New Year. Until then, we are relaxing, we are not Googling anything, we are drinking wine, taking trips, hosting parties and are just going to enjoy our lives for a little bit…and if it happens it happens, and if it doesn’t, at least we’ve done some good for ourselves in the meantime.
love, lust and baby dust,