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First Artificial Insemination Procedure with the New RE (and Fresh Sperm)

Changing RE’s turned out to be as painful as I imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally worth it. So far the office is much more involved in monitoring me and and that’s great. It’s just the process of “getting in a groove” with this team and getting over the learning curve.

My new cycle started on a Saturday and I didn’t realize I was meant to call a general number and not the coordinator because it was the weekend. It makes sense, right? I just didn’t read all my paperwork carefully enough. It wasn’t a big deal and I did my bloodworm on cycle day 4 (CD4) instead of 2 or 3. I chalk it up to the equivalent of a stubbed toe, it was annoying but didn’t really hurt me.

When I started with the new RE, I was super excited to have a “dedicated” team of people assigned to my case. I would call one nurse, one coordinator, one RE and actually get them on the phone. This was completely different then when I was at RMA where it was kinda whomever answered the phone. Your cycle starts and you send an email then you go in for testing between 7 am and 8:30 am. It was what made me feel like it was a “baby factory” and I despised the treatment. It was very much like flying Jet Blue, instead of Delta One. What can I say? I’m a Delta One kinda girl or regular first class, at worst. I digress. So Columbia gives you a more “high touch” experience. However, because RMA has such a large volume, they took better notes, so that when you did talk to the random person, they had a general idea of what was happening. (Not always, once I was sitting in their reception area waiting to see the doctor and someone called me to ask me a question. I was like…um, I’m here.)

Columbia doesn’t seem that keen on copious note taking (or perhaps, reading?) because I feel like I’m relaying a lot of information between the team. If you’ve ever played the game telephone as a child, you know that can go real wrong, real fast. So I had the same conversation with four different people and they all understood something different. I wanted iVF, seems straight forward enough right? I called the nurse to tell her and she says “we thought you were doing IUI first”. I am not clear on who “we” is that she is referring to or where these folks got that impression. She tells me she will have the doctor call me. Why??? I’m telling you I want IVF, what is there to talk about with the doctor. I am starting to freak out because my cycle is coming to a close and we seem uncertain about next steps.

The doctor calls me the next morning and states she understands I want to do IVF. She then tells me the clinic only likes to do IVF with own eggs through age 46? What? Woman, I just met with you on May 1st and I just literally turned 47 four days ago, on May 7th. This makes no sense. She runs through the percentages of success (this hasn’t changed since the 1st) and tells me she recommends I reconsider. She does say to check with the financial coordinator to go over insurance and payment and then we can take it from there. I sent the financial coordinator an email, that I would like to do IVF. This on Friday, 11 May 2018.

As fate has a cruel sense of humor, my cycle started that Saturday. I send the email and wait and wait and wait. (Remember, I should have called that number?) Monday comes and the coordinator leaves me a voicemail. She says I can come in today or tomorrow for blood work. Great. She doesn’t mention the IUI or IVF part, which at this point, is kinda key.

I call the financial coordinator and she says she is prepping my paperwork for IVF. Woo-whooo!! Not so fast, she back peddles once I explain I’m coming in tomorrow for my new cycle blood work. She says she wants to talk to Dr. M and will get back to me.

A very short while later she calls me back and makes it official, IUI for this round. She said I should make an appointment with Dr. M to prep for the IVF. <sigh> Not what I wanted, but at least I have some direction.

This will be IUI #5 for me. Notwithstanding, it will have many firsts though. It will be my first procedure at this clinic. It will be the first time I will be using fresh donor sperm, instead of frozen. It will be the first time that intercourse will also be involved in the process. (The known donor is an ex and found it in his heart to help get my take home baby) All of those first makes this one very different.

After all the hoopla about which procedure I would be doing this cycle, I was hoping things would go pretty smoothly from there. Again, Fate, she’s a jokester that one.

I go in on on CD11 for my mid-cycle scan. My lining is only 5.9mm. It seems impossible since on CD4 it was already at 5 mm. What happened? All is not lost though, I have two follicles on my left side that are coming along nicely. One is 17mm and the other is 18mm. Now we just need to get that lining to at least 8mm.

The doctor calls me later that day. I LOVE that I get to talk to my actual doctor so frequently. (I think the nine months I was at RMA, I spoke to my doctor twice. Seriously.)

She recommends that I take estradiol patch. She tells me it is a delicate dance, because we don’t want to give me too much as it may speed up ovulation. She says I need to take OPKs tonight and tomorrow and if it turns positive, I’m meant to call the office straight away. I tell her I was planning on doing acupuncture to hep with the lining. She says that is fine and to keep the appointment. She feels like if the lining gets to 6.5 mm, we’re good to move forward. She wants me back in the clinic for another scan and bloodworm in two days.

I go to acupuncture the following night and Katy does moxibustion on me. It is meant to increase blood flow.

When I go home I do a castor oil massage on my abdomen and sleep with a heating pack across it.

Not sure what was the tipping point, but when I go in the next morning, my lining is 8.5 mm and triple striped. I know better than to get too excited, but I’m pretty damned pleased. They check my blood work to confirm my LH isn’t surging. I also have to take another OPK that night between 6-8 pm. If it is negative, then my procedure is on Saturday and I’m meant to have a “sperm transfer” this evening. If it is negative, then no intercourse and come in at 7:30 the next morning for the IUI. I am meant to take the Ovidril (Ovulation trigger shot) at 8:30 in either scenario.

I feel like I’m getting closer, finally. I head to the donors home only to discover I left the Ovidril in my fridge. (Randomly, I packed the ice pack, but not the medicine.) Noooo!! So I take the OPK, it’s negative. We go to dinner. Logistically, it doesn’t make sense to go home and then come back. There are no subways due to construction and that would mean two more Uber rides to make that happen. I have the great idea to just do the sperm transfer and then I’ll head home and take my trigger. It’s transactional, right? Well let’s just say, Mr. Donor was exactly thrilled with this protocol, but mercifully complied. Also, he has a bunch of questions about how this works. Apparently, it isn’t common knowledge that sperm can live for five days in fertile cervical mucus. (It made Maury Povich rich, right?? You are NOT the father.) Anyway, we get through the most awkward sperm transfer ever and I’m off in an Uber to get to my trigger shot.

Saturday morning at 6:50 am the two of us are in an Uber headed to the clinic. It’s the big day. OMG, I have prayed for this day. Please let this work. Slight performance issues for him and a bundle of nerves for me. He sits and reads to me while they wash his sperm. It was very calming. He can’t stay the whole time, he’s got an appointment back at his apartment and there are still no trains all the way uptown, so he’s got a subway ride and then a bus to 207th street.

Luckily, about 5 minutes later they call me back. Whew. Not enough time for my anxiety to get fully ramped up again. They take me back to the room and I have to confirm my name and birthdate in like 8 different places. I also have to do the same for known donor. It’s fine, I don’t want a mix-up in this area, so I take my time and carefully review each vial, document and sticker. We’re good to go.

She leaves me to get undressed from the waist down. i text the donor that I am in the room and he wishes me luck. Before I can get my pants fully off the doctor is knocking on the door. I ask for him to hang on, but apparently he doesn’t hear me and keeps coming in. I grab the current and repeat myself. He just pops his head around the curtain and introduces himself. Dude! Seriously?? Can I please cover myself and get on the table. Nope, he’s still talking and walking. Yikes.

One on a list of indignities one must weather through during fertility treatments. He is going to be in my vagina in a few minutes, so I guess seeing my bare naked ass is just par for the course. Should I ask him to buy me a drink later?

Speculum goes in and it kills. I think it is too large, but hopefully, he’ll be quick. Not as quick as I would like, but quick enough. He’s done and he tells me to put my legs down. I fumble with this not realizing he’s pulled out a shelf of some sort down there and wants my legs on that. He tells me to let myself out in five minutes. Since he doesn’t set a timer, I secretly allot myself 20 minutes and an orgasm. I deserve to be relaxed after all I’ve been through these past 15 days.

Now, i’ve just got to get through the next two weeks. I come back in a week to have my progesterone (P4) tested to confirm ovulation. That will certainly help break up the monotony until my hCG beta test on 8 June 2018. Send me loads of baby dust, would ya?

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