1 August 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
Hello folks! Ready for more stories on my yolks?
Ok, bad introduction. Scratch that.
We left off with my last ultrasound scan on 18 July, with instructions to keep jabbing myself until I return for my next scan on 26 July. All that, I dutifully did.
26 July (Lucrin Day 23, Puregon Day 8)(Period Cycle Day 14):
Dan and I turned up at the IVF clinic to find the waiting area decorated in colourful streamers and artwork in celebration of Nurses’ Day. It’s heartening how much effort the nurses put into doing up the place despite being so busy attending to a seemingly endless stream of patients daily. I think that if I ever make a mid-career switch, I would want to go into nursing and be a nurse at the IVF clinic, where I can make a difference to the lives of people.
Dan bumped into an old classmate in the waiting room. One of the unexpected blessings of coming out of the infertility closet (not that we ever hid anyway) is that we’re open to talking to just about anyone about our situation. It’s a relief not to have to avoid eye contact and pretend not to see people whom we know in the same clinic. Dan opened with a joke (as usual) and instead of the uncomfortable silence that usually follows awkward situations, we openly shared stories about our IVF experiences.
My scan revealed that I had about 15 follicles, half of which measured between 8 mm and 16 mm (we needed the bigger ones to reach 16-17 mm before the eggs could be retrieved.) The doctor remarked that that was a very good response to just eight days of Puregon injections. She gave me a prescription for two more doses (of 200iu each) of Puregon, which I carefully stored in the office fridge. Normal people store food in the fridge; I store drugs. Hooray.
27 July (Lucrin Day 24, Puregon Day 9)(Period Cycle Day 15):
The IVF clinic was packed and the queues were horribly slow. Practically crawling. Clinics are like banks – more crowded on Mondays and Fridays. This time, it was my turn to bump into a friend. We had already been swapping our Trying To Conceive stories so it was a really good opportunity to catch up with each other. It was actually FUN having company in an IVF clinic while waiting to have a camera (covered with a condom, yaaay for sexual hygiene, eh?) shoved up our nether regions to spy on what shenanigans our ovaries were up to.
Dan and I are such old hands at this Baby Lucky Draw game that when my friend asked how to reload the cartridge in the Puregon pen and for the names of the various IVF drugs, I could answer almost immediately. I feel like a shady drugs salesman, complete with dark shades, trench coat, floppy hat, dodgy briefcase and all:
Me: “Psssst. Need more Lucrin? I have. I paid with Medisave. I sell you cheap.”
Customer: “Ok. Do you have Puregon too? I’m out.”
Me: “Got. You buy from me, I give you free Puregon pen and needles. You need Pregnyl? Call me.”
Of course, I don’t deal with drugs. But I have so many packets of alcohol swabs from both my IVF cycles that I generously doled them out to colleagues with babies to use for minor cuts and grazes.
My scan revealed 20 over follicles, with the biggest ones measuring 16 mm to 18 mm. As I got dressed and exited the room, I heard the radiologist comment to her colleague, “This patient very fast ah.” It comes with experience, my dear ladies. I dress for the occasion: easy pull-on dress and flats. No skinny jeans and strappy heels to mess with. You don’t want to get your stilettos tangled in your panties and tumble unglamourously all over the floor.
The doctor confirmed that I was on track for oocyte retrieval two days later. She instructed me to stop Puregon and sent me to the pharmacy for Pregnyl to trigger ovulation. Again, I stored the drugs in the office fridge (together with the, erm, empty sperm collection bottle. Sssshhhh. What? I was afraid that I would leave either the drugs or the bottle in the office on a Friday. And the bottle was EMPTY. EMPTY, ok? In any case, it was probably cleaner than expired milk and rotting fruit that communal fridges are famous for.)
On my way out, a nurse commented that I looked familiar. I replied that I did my first IVF cycle at KKH too. Oh joy. I’ve become a regular at the IVF centre. I could do with some VIP membership perks, such as priority queues! Is anyone listening?
I spent the rest of the day feeling like a poor shishamo fish bloated with eggs. My lower back ached terribly but I didn’t dare go for a massage IN. CASE. I. BURST.
28 July (Lucrin Day 25)(Period Cycle Day 16):
I gave myself my last Lucrin jab for this IVF cycle. I certainly hope that it will be my last Lucrin jab EVER.
Just like the first cycle, I turned up at the KKH 24-hour O&G clinic at 9.30pm for a nurse to administer the Pregnyl jab. But unlike my previous experience where a brusque nurse practically jammed the needle into my poor unsuspecting thigh muscle, I was prepared and asked the nurse (a different one) to poke me in the butt. She kindly obliged and I walked (not limped) away a happy, pain-free patient.
For my fellow KKH IVF patients, do note that you DO NOT NEED to pick a registration queue number for the Pregnyl jab. Just present your IVF documents at the registration counter and you will be attended to promptly.
29 July (Period Cycle Day 17):
This was my first jab-free, drug-free, day in 26 days, since starting the IVF injections on 4 July. In preparation for the 12-hour fast before Monday’s oocyte retrieval, I ate like a horse (jam sandwiches, curry, ice-cream, ice-cream again, popcorn, Coke, bak kut teh, tau huey) and watched The Dark Knight Rises in the cinema with friends that night.
30 July (Period Cycle Day 18):
We were scheduled to arrive at KKH at 8.45am. Sperm collection is tricky business – it can’t be done too early, nor too late. I’ll leave Dan to tell you more in The Amazing Adventures Of Dannie’s Sperm. It being a Monday morning, the traffic into town was heavy, the KKH carpark was full and the queue at the IVF centre, long. We reached the IVF clinic at 9 am. I was starving and thirsty from having fasted from 10pm the night before. Dan was panicking over the agonising prospect of all his sperm slowly dying, one by one. We finally caught the attention of a kind nurse, who quickly ushered us into the room to brief us on the procedure.
I changed into the pink and white gowns given to me and entered the waiting area outside the Operating Theatre. There were already four other women before me, with one more in the OT. I joined them in the factory queue. It was quite a sight. We looked like identical bright pink parrots sitting on a wire, waiting for goodness knows what. But do this often enough and one can get used to the undignified nature of IVF.
Two patients seated next to me were chatting and from what I gathered from their conversation, it was their first attempt at IVF. They were talking about the prospect of having twins from the fresh cycle. Cynical Me inwardly rolled my eyes and pooh-poohed, “You think so easy ah? Try only get twins?” but the nostalgic part of me remembered how eager and hopeful I had once been too, to think that I could easily get twins through IVF. (But if I did, I wouldn’t have Coco today because she was from the frozen cycle!) Well, if twins is what they want, may they be blessed with the luck that I didn’t have.
Surprisingly, I was called into the OT before some of the other women. When I shared my puzzlement with Dan over lunch later that day, he astutely exclaimed, “You went in first because their husbands were still masturbating lah!”
Erm, ok. Explanation accepted.
My doctor appeared and asked me some questions to verify my identity. The anaesthetist gave me a long running commentary on what drugs he was going to pump into me through the stent in my wrist. He did a good job of hypnotising me with his soothing voice and non-stop talking and before I knew it, my eyelids were closing and the last thing I said was, “Ok, I’m getting really sleepy. Bye.”
I was awoken by the trundling motion of the bed as they wheeled me into the rest area but sleepily dozed off again till 1 pm. At the expense of sounding like a druggie, I must say that I actually relished the sensation of falling into deep slumber and staying asleep for hours after the operation. It was so quiet in the OT. No waking baby. No roar of the motorcycle engine of the newspaper delivery man. No incessant horn of the karang guni man. No chirping of birds even. It was heavenly. I almost wanted to ask the anaesthetist to hit me with another dose of G.A, but he had gone off for lunch by then. Darn.
In all seriousness, I really needed the uninterrupted sleep. I hadn’t been sleeping well at all, plagued with insomnia and physical discomfort, and of course, a waking baby and rising early and all. I felt so refreshed and energetic. Even my friends whom I met for lunch today agreed. With all the eggs retrieved and drugs being flushed out of my body, it was literally a load of my back – my lower back ache was gone.
You know what every tired person out there needs? A good dose of G.A. and a nice quiet OT to sleep in. (But if anyone asks, you did not hear it from this druggie here. Say you were inspired by Michael Jackson.)
Dan met me outside the OT and whisked me off for a nice, quiet, soul-warming lunch of herbal chicken soup at our friend’s restaurant at the Gardens by the Bay. The other highlight of the day? Being coerced by my 11-month old daughter to repeatedly ride down a big, twisty slide at the neighbourhood playground. If I hadn’t descended with her, she would have gladly gone down on her own. No baby slides for this baby. Never in my wildest dreams (and trust me, you get many wild dreams while on Puregon) did I expect to be sliding down a huge slide just hours after I had an operation under G.A.
This IVF cycle yielded 22 eggs, which is a good number. Exactly the same number as my first cycle. The coincidence is slightly freaky, given that subsequent cycles provide fewer eggs. However, IVF isn’t a numbers game. I need quality over quantity. After all, I’m not going to have 22 more children! For our first cycle, only four healthy embryos were formed due to less-than-spectacular egg quality. The ideal situation would be to have at least six to eight healthy embryos to buffer against unsuccessful attempts and of course, to have more than two children.
Well, today we’ll know.