Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All Of My Eggs in One Basket

Is it possible that I actually have good news? I do!

But before I get to that, let's go back a few weeks.

Jimmi and I decided that since I'll be losing my uterus, and now my ovaries, we should hurry up and retrieve my eggs for future use with a gestational carrier. Upon our first meeting with Dr. Drews at Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA), we were told that it's better to fertilize the eggs before freezing them, because embryos freeze better.

So, we got to work on stimulating my ovaries. Not a fun process, mind you. Each night, starting on Friday, May 13th, I had to sit in my bathroom-turned-drug-lab, and mix six vials of Menopur tablets with 1 ml of sodium chloride in a syringe.

Instructions: Suck up the sodium chloride into the syringe, squirt it into the first tablet-filled vial, allow the tablet to dissolve, suck it back into the syringe, repeat with the remaining five vials.

After completing what reminded me of a lab experiment in chemistry class, I was to inject the concoction into my abdomen, anywhere below my belly button and between my hip bones.

Oh, fun!!

So, I'm not gonna lie; the first shot sucked. The mixing process went fine, but the injection? Holy OUCH!! I almost passed out from the sight of watching the needle disappear into my skin. The next night was a bit better, and even better after that. I learned that aiming the shots on a down angle was a lot more comfortable than going straight in.

I'm not sure which was harder, learning how to inject myself, or having to wake up at 5:15 every morning to be at the RMA office for open monitoring hours between 6 and 7:30 am. When it's first come, first served, I realized quickly, that getting there before 6 is the difference between an in and out visit or a two-hour wait for a blood test and an internal ultrasound to check the status of my ovaries. Did I mention I am NOT a morning person?

After six nights, I was told to add another shot called Ganirelix to slow down the ovulation process so my eggs wouldn't mature before they were ready to be retrieved. Luckily, that one was pre-mixed, so I didn't need extra time in the drug lab.

By now, I was a basically a professional, so the added shot didn't scare me. Jimmi watched as I carefully, and quickly injected and squeezed the plungers of each syringe into my bruised belly. "You're an animal!" he exclaimed! I felt proud as I disposed of the paraphernalia into my small, red Sharps container with the word "Biohazard" printed so blatantly across the top.

But the weekend was coming and I had plans. The shots needed to be given at a certain time each night. How would I do it? Hmmm...Do I cancel? I e-mailed my nurse and she gave me the green light to pre-mix the Menopur, but "be very careful. If the plunger gets accidentally pushed, you'll lose the medication." I needed to be clever and think of a way to protect the syringes. No! I need to call my friend, Kris! After numerous cycles of her own, she's gotta have an answer for me.

"I used to put them in an eyeglass case." she offered.


So, that Friday, a week after I started the process, I pre-mixed my super-drugs, emptied my eyeglass case of the actual glasses that I never use anyway, replaced them with my two syringes, and was on my way to dinner and the movies with my mom and my bridesmaids. Right before the movie, I nodded to Kris, and she followed me confidently into the ladies room. After joining me in the special needs stall, Kris held each shot as I carefully wiped down the injection sites with an alcohol wipe. In they went, one at a time, without a problem. I put the empty syringes back into the eyeglass case, we nonchalantly exited the stall together, washed our hands and hurried back to our seats just as the lights were going down.


Saturday night proved to be a bit trickier. I promised my little boy, Justin, that I would take him to see his favorite singer, "Weird Al" Yankovic. Yes, he's still around. I got three tickets months ago, and my nephew, Matt (also a "Weird Al" fan), agreed to go with us. I thought about sending Jimmi to the show with Matt and Justin so I didn't have to go to a public bathroom without a cheering section to help me this time. But I just couldn't let my little monkey down. I promised, and while I'm still physically able to be there for my boys, nothing's gonna stop me. Not even shooting up in the Ladies' Room of a concert venue.

On a side note...I can't believe how east it is to get drug-filled syringes into movie theaters and concerts!

Anyway...Justin was so excited for the show! Right before the Weird one graced the stage, I left Matt in charge of my baby, and I headed to the restroom.

Oh, shit. There's a bathroom attendant.

Honestly, what is the point of these people? They sit in the stinky bathroom all night robbing people of their privacy, and then expect a tip for handing them a towel. I can get my own towel!!!


Ok, just act natural. Yes, Ms. Bathroom Attendant, I am washing my hands BEFORE I go into the stall. Got a problem with that???

I completed my task as quickly as I could and evacuated the stall. She didn't seem to notice how long I was in there. Or maybe she just didn't care. All she said was, "I can tell you're young. You're not wearing pantyhose with those sandals and you don't have a jacket."

Ok, thanks! Here's a buck. I'm outta here!

Again, I made it back to my seat just as the lights were dimming, and enjoyed watching Justin's happy little face for the next two hours...especially when "Weird Al" made his way up the aisle, grabbed my hand and sang to me. For that 10 seconds, I was the coolest mom EVER!

I anxiously sat in the waiting room at RMA on Sunday morning. What will they tell me? How many eggs will they see today? I knew my retrieval date was getting close, but how many eggs will there be? From what they could see with the "dildo camera", I started out with 15 eggs before the drugs. A few days later, there were only 8. A few days after that, there were 18. Wow! And today??

"Looks like there's at least 10."

Ten? That's not enough! I have ONE shot at this. They're taking my ovaries in a few weeks and I need more than ten! I know. It sounds like a lot. Who wants ten babies? Wouldn't I be happy with just one? Yes, I would, but here's the thing. Just because I get ten eggs, that doesn't mean they'll all be mature. So, maybe eight will be. And of those eight, they might not all fertilize. So, maybe I'll have six. And of those six, they might not all make it to the freezing stage. So, maybe I'll have four. And of those four, some may not survive the freeze. So, maybe I'll have two. If those two are transfered into a gestational carrier and she doesn't get pregnant. That's it.

One shot.

My instructions for Sunday night were very detailed. No more Menopur and no more Ganirelix. Tonight, I needed to give myself two shots of Ovidrel, one right after the other, at exactly 11:30 PM. The Ovidrel is the trigger shot that will mature the eggs and get them ready for the retrieval, which was scheduled for 11:30 AM on Tuesday, May 24th.

Jimmi and I both set our alarms for 11:20 PM so we wouldn't be late. I counted down to the exact minute, and injected the final two needles. Done. Now all I had to do was wait.

Tuesday morning crept up slowly. I got the kids off to school without letting on that, in a few hours, I'd be under anesthesia to endure a procedure that would make it possible for them to have another sibling. I took a quick shower, and off we went. Hungry and dying for even a small sip of water, I sat quietly in the car as Jimmi drove. We arrived at RMA a few minutes early and sat staring at the aquarium in the waiting room. I explained to Jimmi that all of the characters in Finding Nemo were swimming around the tank.

"Don't worry. Hopefully you'll learn when our kids make you watch it over and over and over." I smiled.

"James and Suzanne?"

That's us! The nurse walked us down the hall to sign off on Jimmi's frozen sample that had come in from another location. Biogenetics is a lab that does sperm enrichment and gender selection. It's not 100%, but we figured as long as we're being forced to have a baby through science, we might as well try to raise our chances of having a little girl.

I initialed each label after I read the printed names "Paragano, Suzanne. Kane, James." I smiled to myself.

We're going to be parents. Jimmi will be a daddy. And it's happening today!

We were then sent to the recovery room where I donned a stunning, pink hospital gown, green booties and a green hair cover. In a few months, I won't need that hair cover. Enough! Think of why you're here! You're making babies!

The anesthesiologist came in to question me. The nurse started an IV for much needed hydration, and then the doctor arrived. He was one of the doctors I had never met during the monitoring process. He looked at me seriously and said, "Is this your first time with this procedure?"
"Yes." I squeaked out. He smiled. "Mine too! We can learn together!"

Way to break the ice, Doc. I liked him.

"Listen." I pleaded, "I only have one chance at this. Please get everything you can. Get them all out." "Don't worry," he comforted, "I like working under pressure."

And he left the room.

Jimmi kissed me goodbye and I walked down the hall to the operating room. I was told to hop up on the table and put my butt in the hole. Awesome. There I was, flat on my back with my backside in a hole in the table. A nurse came in to ask my name, last four digits of my social security number and Jimmi's name, then she quickly walked out. Another nurse grabbed each of my legs, one at a time, and strapped them into padded leg rests to keep them spread. The gown was up, I was completely exposed, and she gave a peak up my girly parts to make sure they were in the correct position for the procedure. How humiliating. Then the anesthesiologist took my arm and said, "You're gonna go to sleep now. Goodnight."

I woke up back in the recovery room with Jimmi standing over me.

I opened my mouth to talk, but only squeaks came out. Then came the waterworks. Why am I crying? Must be the anesthesia.

"How many did he get?" was all I could say. "Are there enough?"

The final count hadn't yet come in. The nurse got to work assessing my pain and getting me to eat and drink. I tried to be tough, but about ten minutes after I opened my eyes I needed some drugs. The Motrin took the edge off and I inhaled the gourmet hospital snack of cranberry juice and Saltines. Would it be too much to ask for a little vodka?

"I have the count!" said the nurse, as she walked into the room.

I saw the back of the paper she was holding. The number was written in black Sharpie marker so it was visible from the other side. 6. That's what I saw. 6. That's it? Oh my God. That's not enough!

The nurse lit up. "They got 16!"

What?! I guess I couldn't see the "1" because of the way she was holding the paper. 16 is GREAT!! Oh, please let most of them fertilize. Let most of them be healthy. Let most of them freeze.

They released me a little while later with instructions to rest and drink plenty of fluids. My nurse will call me tomorrow and let me know how many of the 16 eggs actually fertilized. It's ok, I'm getting good at waiting.

The phone rang at 10:00 this morning. The caller ID said, "Reproductive Med".

This is it, I thought to myself. Please let there be at least 10 good ones. Please.


"Hi Suzanne, it's Jill from RMA. I just had to call and tell you the good news myself. Out of 16 eggs, 16 were mature and 16 fertilized!"

"All 16?" I shrieked.

"Yes! It's amazing! It's such a great start. I'll call you in a few days to let you know how many made it to freezing. We'll do the genetic testing on them that day, and you'll have those results about a week later. But, congratulations!!"

"Thank you so much!" Click.

Wow. All 16 of them fertilized. We made 16 embryos. We have 16 babies!! hahaha!!

Still sore from the procedure, I jumped up as quickly as I could and ran outside where Jimmi was washing the cars.

"Hey!" I called to him, "You have 16 babies! You're a daddy!"

I wish I could've captured the look of shock on his face. "All 16?" he forced out.

"Yes!!" I shouted. "Doesn't mean we'll have that many to freeze, but it's a really good start!"

He looked at me with a smile and said, "I need to go back on tour."

I kissed his cherry chap-stick flavored lips and looked into his icy blue eyes - the eyes I hope our babies will have - and said, "Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. this is BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT news. mazel tov!!