Archive for February, 2013

IVF round 2 : 3. Egg aspiration

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Sep 23, 2011
My aspiration was late in the afternoon Friday, I think 6pm. I wasn’t able to eat for 6 hours before then, because of the anesthesia, which was surprisingly easy to do. We arrived early, as usual, Gordon was escorted to the back for his ‘specimen’ and me and his mom waited in the waiting room until he got back. They took us both in to sign papers about the aspiration and bla bla, and we went back and waited. They took me up to the familiar room, which I shared with another woman who was also 39 (but looked a bit older, I think). There were 3 of us waiting for aspirations, and Gordon later told me that the waiting room and outside area were so packed that every seat was taken – and people were standing. It’s insane.The aspiration went well, I guess, I fell asleep and woke up, so I guess that was pretty good ūüôā¬† Before the ‘professor’ started, he said he might have to go through my abdomen, so I might wake up with some stitches. I said it was fine, that he should do whatever he had to to get them. I woke up without any stitches, though, but I did wake up pretty sore.

The doctor came in to tell me we had 10 egg cells! I was thrilled. She said there would definitely be a transfer. I was psyched. I knew how much better the chances were with that kind of outcome. she said they’d call in 3-5 days, depending on what medium they used (?) to schedule the transfer.

Gordon propped me up in bed with the laptop and I’m good as long as I’m not sitting straight up or laying on my right side.

IVF round 2 : 2. Starting IVF cycle … again

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Sep 1, 2011
When we returned we had a brief consult with the dr so we could prepare for the next cycle. Since they really wanted me to take a few months off before doing a cycle, they wanted me to at least have a sonogram to make sure everything looked hunky-dorey in there.¬† My doc was also going on vacation so I would also be changing doctors for this cycle…so I met her,We waited a very long week and some days after we returned for aunt Flo. Naturally, I mean why wouldn’t it be like every other month, we were hopeful that maybe the magic of our honeymoon encouraged our stuff to get together and that we’d gotten pregnant on our own. After all, they say a lot of women get pregnant naturally on their ‘off’ cycle. I think that’s like telling someone it’s lucky when they step in dog poo.

On September 12th she came, and on the next day we wen’t to Belgrade for another round. I remember sitting in the waiting room waiting to see the dr., leaning over to Gordon and whispering, “I really don’t feel like doing all this again.”¬† The trips, the sonograms, the shots, the blood tests, the waiting, the wondering, the stress of it all… but we had to. I mean, we had to.

Everything looked just peachy as it always does, so the doc put a theoretical gold star on my chart and started me on Merional. Whoa, we asked, why? We were on Menapur last time and she was going to increase my dose to 3/day instead of 2, but there was no mention of changing medicine. Well, new doc said it was written on my chart by my doc and it’s the same drug, but if we really want Menopur we can also take that. Naw, I said, you’re the pros and we’ll do what you recommend.

So off we went on our injection quest. I even took some pictures of the drugs and process, why, I’m not really sure. We had an appointment to go back for an E2 test on the 17th, and the level was quite high (in the 500s), so we went for another ultrasound on the 18th, a day earlier than planned. I had 9 follicles that are 9-10mm (some more that are 8mm), so it was a really good result. We only had 4 or 5 last time, and only 2 continued to grow – so now we hoped they all continue to grow (or at least most of them), and some of them have eggs and some of those eggs will divide when joined and one of those will implant when it’s put back. Wow, what a process. To think, some people just have to have sex for all that to happen.

I didn’t mention that through all this, Gordon was fighting to meet his September 20th deadline to submit his Master’s thesis. It was indeed an insane week, and he was working all kinds of crazy long hours.

On the 21st, we went in to see our doctor, who had returned from her trip to Boston. She was waving the American flag after having a great time there, which I guess worked in my favor, because she spent time talking to us and seemed to have some personal attachment for the first time to whether or not we were successful (like, really). she was happy that I had so many follicles, and they were all continung to develop. She said she’d keep me on the stimulation therapy for as long as she could so I would develop as many as possible, and that aspiration would be either the 23rd or 25th. I’d be going back on the next day to track progress.

When we went back on the 22nd, the doctor told us the aspiration would be the next day! She asked for help from her Professor, since my right ovary is hard to see in ultrasound, and I suppose even harder to aspirate. I was more than happy to agree to that, if she felt someone more qualified could do a better job.

So, after getting stuck for the ultrasound, I got stuck with a needle for the ‘stop injection’ (so the follicles would stop growing and finalize maturation), then we went to the lab where I got stuck for 3 tubes of blood from my arm, a pinprick to my finger, and to my ear. The ear is to test for coagulation. Not sure what the finger is for.¬† Later that afternoon we also had to go out again to the cardiologist for an exam and ekg. She was a little weird, but friendly. My bp was 120/75! She wrote that I am what translates as ‘easy chubby’ which really made me laugh. The exam cost us 1,000 dinars, equivalent to roughly $13. No zeroes missing.

IVF round 2 : 1. The month off

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Sep 1, 2011
How August became October
After our failed IVF cycle, it was understood we’d try again. We talked about it before we even came here.¬† Unfortunately, that meant extending our plane tickets, and figuring out how we’d leave the country before I was here for 90 days, since I’m required to exit before I stay that long. Some silly visa thing.¬† We did the paperwork route once before – what a nightmare juggling us through the police station, a zillion papers, schmoozing calls from his mom to whoever and dancing for an extended stay of like, 3 days. It was really, really dumb and a waste of energy…but that time it wasn’t planned…In any case, we scoured the one or two reputable Belgrade travel agency websites to find a destination. We thought about taking a train to Croatia, getting off and getting back on – just to get my passport stamped, because really that’s all I needed to do.

We were considering a bus tour to Budapest, for a long weekend, I think. We really weren’t crazy about the idea of my intestines on a bus for 12 or however many hours – though the itinerary said the bus made stops along the way, we weren’t clear if they had a bathroom on board or if it would be a stressful dodge and wait between rest stops for the bathroom.¬† I’m really a pain in the ass when it comes to traveling.

So we decided to make it the honeymoon we never had, since he had to go back home the morning after we were married. We looked at Ireland, and we were theoretically spending thousands on a vacation there, and fine with it. We work our asses off, we deserve a nice honeymoon, we decided.¬† Well, we were almost booked when we thought about checking visa requirements, and since Gordon is still a Serbian citizen, he needed to get a visa. Well, with 3 weeks before our 90 day mark, and before the start of my next cycle when we’d have to be back in serbia, there just wasn’t enough time to wait for a Visa. And this is why, he pointed out, he looks forward to becomming a US citizen.

In the end we decided to go to Budapest, and while I thought it was pretty cool, I didn’t have a real strong opinion about going there.¬† No visa required, and we could fly there for relatively cheap. We spent hours shopping hotels and in the end booked a room at the Hilton, which was in the castle district, and had a ‘Danube view’. I expected to be able to see a sliver of water between two buildings, because that’s what I’m used to a room with a view meaning.
We had the most amazing time there, in such a beautiful city – I think it was the most beautiful I have ever been to. It was so romantic, too. We arrived to dinner in our room with a bottle of wine and gourmet food and dessert, and went out in the evening to stroll up the cobblestone street to the castle and back towards our hotel, around the Fisherman’s Bastion. Live gypsy music isn’t at all what I thought it to be. In Serbia, gypsies are poor, and are known for their boisterous trubachi music – very exciting, and lively, but very, very different from what the gypsies in Hungary play…which was classical music. It actually took me a little bit for it to register that ‘this’ was the gypsy music I read about. As we walked through the plaza under the stars, we could see the beautifully illuminated capital building through the arches of the Bastion reflecting on the Danube, Gordon swept me into his arms and made the plaza our private ballroom. We danced to the gypsy band playing at the restaurant on top of the Bastion and melted into each other’s arms. It was truly a fantasy honeymoon with a magic we will never forget. But in case we need a reminder, we have zillions of pictures, beautiful tapestries and even a piece of fine porcelain with a Hungarian motif ūüôā

IVF round 1 : 12. Failed cycle

Monday, February 25th, 2013
Aug 10, 2011
Needless to say, the doctor called on Wednesday morning, and Gordon answered this time, with the news that the cells didn’t divide.¬† We went in to ‘consult’ (pay) on Wednesday afternoon. By then I wasn’t as sad as I was with the news on Tuesday, because I knew they likely weren’t going to do anything. At the end of our visit, Gordon took out our bank card to pay, and the nurse shook her head no. “The machine isn’t working,” I understood her say. My eyebrow raised. They continued to have a conversation of which I could only understand bits and pieces about how we could pay. Gordon explained we couldn’t get that kind of money from the ATM. It’s an American bank, and a small one at that, so no, they don’t have a branch here we can visit. And no, we can’t send them a letter to see if they will let us get the money. At this point I’m boiling, because I see how this is going, how it’s becomming OUR problem, how Gordon is just not confrontational, and how I can’t say a damned thing she can understand – naturally any words I know, anything I know how to say has gone south now because I’m livid.We left and went to an ATM at a nearby grocery store to take what we could, which is 20k. The total bill is 110k. Of course, because this is Serbia AND a grocery store, the machine did not want to give us anything. Not 20k, not 10k, not 5k.¬† G’s brother had 9k and he said that¬†Darko¬†offered his 11k. We went back, in 95 or so degree heat. We graciously took¬†Darkos loan, and went back to pay our 20k, which the nurse politely stuffed in the desk drawer. I asked him to ask for a receipt. She can’t give us one because it’s not a full payment. If that’s not a crock of shit, I don’t know what is. It took all that I had to walk out of there without breaking something (or someone). I was so angry. We shouldn’t have to go through this – especially on this day, when we are already sad and disappointed. Gordon was especially feeling the sadness today – the eternal optimist was still hoping for a positive call on Wednesday morning, so he was even more crushed when it didn’t come.

Now, we are going to the ATM every day for a week, until we gather up our bundle of cash to return to pay.¬† They called here last night – on a Sunday night – like collectors. I was furious. Gordon’s mom called back. She said it good, as good as anyone that’s not ME could say (I was still frustrated), explaining that it was very unprijatelj and he was not a criminal…or something.¬† That we had the money and we’d come there tomorrow if their machine was working yet. Of course it’s not.I’m kind of fed up with the whole thing. I’m fed up with the idea of having to stay here 2 more months. I’m fed up with having to go out of the country after 90 days, or face the damned red tape at the police station like that other time. I’m fed up with not planning, or when planning that things just don’t work out as they should. I’m fed up with how I look. I ballooned since I got here, I think, or I just wasn’t aware how very damned fat I was before we left. I’m fed up with my body not doing anything right – except everything that shows it SHOULD be able to do things right.

Im just fed up.

What’s next? We do it all over again.

IVF round 1 : 11. Waiting for cells to divide

Sunday, February 24th, 2013
Aug 8, 2011
Sunday night we celebrated the idea that our parts may have just met for the first time, ever. The doctor said she would call on Monday, after noon. We waited anxiously for the phone to ring – my stomach with butterflies every time I’d remember between attempts at distracting myself with work. They came often. Finally she called and Gordon answered. She started telling him everything, but knowing I wanted to know first he passed me the phone. She talks so fast and continuously that she didnt even realize he passed me the phone. “Hello?…” and she’s still talking in Serbian, so she doesn’t even know I’m there.¬† “Hello?” I interject, only when she finally pauses for a breath.She continues to repeat in English what she told Gordon. We have a healthy egg. That was the bottom line. The sperm had been injected, but we had to wait to see that the cells would start dividing.¬† I was so relieved to know that my egg was healthy. When I got off the phone, I told Gordon and his brother and went with them to tell Gordon’s mom. I cried and she hugged me. I was trembling. I was so relieved.

The next few days wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. She said she’d call back Tuesday and that we’d do the transfer Tuesday or Wednesday. When she finally called back on Tuesday evening, she said they were still waiting for the cells to divide. She said it was at some stage she couldn’t translate into English. Naturally this time I answered the phone so there wouldn’t be any phone juggling to contend with, and Gordon left the room. I hung up and was so frustrated that I couldn’t really know what was happening because she couldn’t tell me in English. Gordon tried calling back. Three times, each time he was told the doctor was with a patient, and to try calling back in 10-15 minutes. Finally he left his name and asked for a return call when she could.

Against our wishes, his mom called the doctor after that without our knowing it. She called Gordon to the terrace where she’s been propped most of the time now. He came back to call me, and I could tell he was angry. “She called.” he said, and I knew what he meant.¬† She told us that they said the cells still hadn’t divided, but they were giving it until Wednesday morning between 9-9:30. That was the longest they could wait.¬† I was so angry to feel like I wasn’t the first person to learn this. This is my body, and my issue. I really felt violated. Then I felt the sadness of the reality that it had already been too long, and that the cells should have started dividing by now.

IVF round 1 : 10. Egg Aspiration

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
Aug 7, 2011

Sunday morning came and we woke up shortly after 4am. Since I couldn’t eat or drink until after the procedure, which would be sometime around noon, I tried sleeping more, and did. We left the house with Gordon’s brother at 7:30, and zipped to Belgrade on a sleepy Sunday morning.¬†Darko¬†was cranky when Gordon reiterrated what his mom told him the night before – that we would be several hours. I started wondering if we conditioned him to get cranky for more pay. We arrived earlier than our 8:30 appointment for Gordon to provide his ‘material’. They called him back around 8 and after he finished we had a long wait until 9:30 when I was supposed to be taken up to be prepped for the procedure. Someone had switched on VH1 – Gordon or his brother suspected they did that for the Amerikanka’s benefit. We laughed, because I probably prefer Pink more than anyone in the clinic.

The nurse called us in to the middle exam room, Gordon with his little paper bag of goodies that he tried repeatedly to make sit properly on the desk, but it kept falling over much to his embarrassment. Fragile-ly propped between us and the nurse with nothing else decorating the desktop, we continued the interview, paper-signing and small-talk about my ability to understand most of what is spoken in Serbian. My white blood count was a little high – this is the 3rd time in a row Ive had a blood test with a high white blood count, and Im not sure why. In any case I mentioned having a tooth that hurt and a bit of a sinus infection, neither of which were comletely true, so that they wouldn’t hesitate to do this aspiration.When we finished, we waited a bit longer and chatted about nothing much in the waiting area. At about 9:45 they called me to go up in the elevator with the nurse I hadn’t seen before today. Gordon came with me and we went up to the 2nd floor ‘apartmans’ which I thought to be ‘apartments’. I creatively decided previously that these apartments were for women who gave birth there, so they could spend a few days to a week there more comfortably than in the public hospital. Turns out ‘apartman’ means ‘suite’, and that’s just what it was. A beautiful, brightly lit, modern, spotless room with bright green bedsheets on 2 neighboring hospital beds with a skylight between them. The private bathroom had a glass shower with shiny silver handles and elaborate marble looking tile. The sink was a basin that sat on top of the counter beneath it. There was a compilation of small pipes, that I believe was a towel warmer, though it wasn’t warm to the touch (of course I did), I am guessing it might not have been turned on. It was really impressive and comforting. I felt like this place was new and must have the best there is to be had.

The nurse directed me to undress but to leave my bra on, and put on the nightgown in the closet, and empty my bladder. She’d come back for me in a bit. I undressed, and Gordon hung my clothes on the hanger, replacing the clingy leopardskin nightgown I slipped on. He took out white sliipes with colorful spots and propped them beneath my feet. I peed and sat on the bed some more next to Gordon who had pulled one of the rounded leather chairs beside me. We watched the wide screen TV, waiting.

The nurse called me and I kissed my beloved husband, leaving him to watch TV, read the kindle, or do whatever he could to relax during the procedure. The nurse and I travelled down on the elevator to floor ‘0’, and in the silence I told her “samo malo nervosna”. She comforted me and said it was normal, but that I was going to go, and sleep, and it would be over. I shook my head in agreement. What I was actually nervous about was the result, not the procedure.

I laid down on a table somewhat like those upstairs in the exam room, only this on didn’t have a place for my feet, but for my legs – it would be where they would strap me down. I was introduced to the anesthesiologist who was impressed I knew to say ‘drago mi je’ when I shook her hand. So many people have been – and to me I find this part of the very basic beginning conversational Serbian. I laid down on the table and they began to bustle around me, the doctor waiting below me, the anesthesiologist preparing me for sleep, and the nurse situating my free arm¬† inside my gown so it wouldnt dangle off the table, I presume. I felt a sensation similar to big blobs with little legs running up my arm, across my chest, up my neck and began feeling dizzy. “Uh oh,” I said, “bye-bye Meri,” said the anesthesiologist. I laughed and said, “Bye-bye!” and within seconds I was out.

I woke up with no time perspective. It was as if I just closed my eyes for a moment, and at the same time I sensed it wasn’t that near when I left conciousness. The doctor began explaining right away. “We have one egg,” she said. There were 2 follicles, but one was empty. I asked if it was the follicle from the right side that was empty. She confirmed it was. I wonder now if they actually keep them separated and identified so that she really had that information. She continued explaining that it was good they had a basis to go on next time, if we had to do this again, since they now know I react to menapur, and how I reacted to that dosage. I tried not to let it unsettle me that she sounded like she was already assuming we’d do this again.

I moved myself to the rolling bed, and we travelled to the elevator together. I was conscious, but not fully aware. I remember babbling on about how difficult Serbian language was, and that I knew French, German, Italian and Spanish, and by far it was the most difficult. I think at that time the doctor, nurse and anesthesiologist was with me, but I could be wrong. someone was saying how easy English was to learn, and that’s why it was so universal. I remembered my mom saying that English was difficult for foreigners to learn, implying those that did learn it were more scholarly than the typical undriven American. I missed my mom. The elevator doors opened and I was soon pulled alongside the bright green bed in the apartman, and I scooted over into it. The doctor explained again to Gordon that there was 1 egg, and one follicle was empty. The other follicles hand’t grown any since the last appointment. I felt his disappointment, or I guess more like a sad surprise that it wasn’t more fruitful. The doc said she’d be back to check on me in a bit, and left us alone. By then I was pretty fully aware of everything, and I told Gordon to call his brother to come up, and to text Kat.

I didn’t feel any pain at all, not even a cramp. The doctor came and pulled back the blankets and my legs, and said I wasn’t bleeding. G’s brother was there now, and we sat waiting for them to come again to let me leave. I still had a stint in my arm where the anesthesia was. Gordon kept yelling at me to stop flailing about as I talked. I felt positive, still, maybe just clinging to hope, I don’t know, but I kept trying to assure him one egg is all we need. He quietly wrestled with his feelings.

When we got home, I washed. SIL made me coffee and Gordon made me a sandwich. Little man kissed my cheek. This all has been easier to cope with having a network around me, as imperfect as we all may be. I’m sad to leave it behind when we go back home – especially with a baby coming, I know I will wish I had them around to share all this with.

I began taking antibiotics, one 500mg every 6 hours. I also started the vaginal progesterone, 2 pills 3 times a day. Soon after I was washed, fed and pilled, I was ready for sleep. It was about 4:30pm. We only wanted to nap a little, but woke up sometime around 9, when I was scheduled for another pill. We went back to sleep and I woke up at 3am for the next pill. I’ve been awake since, and am now drinking the coffee my dear hubby made me, watching the sun rise over the trees outside the terrace door. I wonder how our embryo is doing.¬† We’ll get the call today after 12. If the embryo is viable, we’ll go in tomorrow or Wednesday for the transfer. The total cost is 210k rsd (about $3k). If there is no embryo, we pay 110k for the aspiration and anesthesia. If we do hatching, which Im not sure they will because there’s only 1 embryo, it will be another 50k rsd (about $700). A positive result after all this is exactly $Priceless.

IVF round 1 : 9. Preparing for Aspiration – EKG

Friday, February 22nd, 2013
Aug 5, 2011
Friday was rainy and I had been sleeping almost constantly since Thursday afternoon. Though the doctor said the hormone therapy wasn’t the cause for my sleepiness, but rather the weather, I don’t believe it for a NY minute. Gordon managed to wake me up around 4:45 for our 6pm appointment with the old, crotchety doctor (his words). I wasn’t nervous, but rather oddly (and characteristically) intrigued to meet this old-timer. Just a few blocks away and we were at the office, a storefront with a small waiting room just inside the door adorned with old signs in cyrillic – surely the prominently framed one was his license or diploma, on yellowed oversized typing paper This ‘waiting room’ was furnished with a wicker table and chairs, and some other clutter in the corners I didn’t have time to catalog. There was no nurse, no secretary, just an open door to the back.¬† When he heard us arrive, an older man with glasses propped crookedly on the end of his nose came out, looked over them at us and he grunted before going back inside. Something was already happening back there, though I still don’t really know what it was. Another older man left an even further back room a bit later on, probably the patient before me.He called me back and Gordon came with me through the door, explaining that I was American and didn’t speak Serbian. We walked around his (much smaller) commercial metal desk with a typewriter that was surely from the 70s, and he motioned for me to get on the army cot as he secured the paper dinar folded and placed purposefully in the center of this exam room with his foot. Surely it was there for luck and financial success. The serbs are really superstitious folk, with some religious foundation in the mix. Lines are gray between the two and they are joined and crossed often when it comes to matters of the soul and well-being, and (mostly) good fortune.

I didnt have to take anything off for the exam, and he put the ekg receptors on my ankles and wrists, pushing my arms to my side – even though the left one near the wall was leaning directly on the radiator that reminded me of those in elementary school that were painted, chipped and repainted for years.

My EKG was good, and finished after he moved the suction cup all around my chest testing from one angle and then another. I didn’t know an EKG could be done that way. Gordon askd, “How much do I owe you, 1.5k?” and the good doctor agreed. I wondered how that part would go – I wouldn’t be all too surprised if Gordon left it open that the doctor would have taken the Amerikanka for a spin and charged much, much more.

After a few minutes of sitting on the cot and Gordon in the ‘waiting’ chair that was probably supposed to be on the nicer end of things here for patients and their significant others to be comforted in (that was exactly the crappier of our office chairs at home), the doctor finished typing up the ekg summary and approval for anesthesia on his old typewriter. Yes, he typed it out himself pecking away letter by letter. I noticed a dictionary of medicines on the shelf, the title dated 1998. I soaked in the environment like a sponge. This was a really neat cultural experience. Gordon takes me to all the nicest places!

IVF round 1 : 8. Preparing for Aspiration

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Aug 4, 2011
She gave us information about what we needed to prepare. It was only then that we found out we needed further blood tests – for ‘sediments’, white blood count, etc. I would also need an EKG in order to get anesthesia. It was Thursday and had we been in the US I would have freaked about getting this done in a day. But not in Serbia.We left bolnica jeremerova (or some such)…and headed first to Biomedika where we went almost 2 weeks ago (that seems like forever) for our HIV and other blood tests. 5 vials, 1 fingertip and 1 ear prick later and we were done there. Next we headed to our usual pitstop – the pharmacy(s). This time, we had a laundry list of supplies to buy.¬†Darko¬†was cranky about driving us all around. By then we knew his mom was paying him 4k per trip. I told Gordon we should give him a little more, from us, for all the running around. It was only fair, I said, since she is paying him to drive us to and from Belgrade – not cross town to biomedika, and then this pharmacy and that one. When we stopped at the bank at pharmacy #2 we took enough so we could give him an extra 2k.

Armed with a bit more menopur, cetrotide,¬†spritzs, big and small needles, iodine and progesterone vaginal suppositories and the all important sub-cutaneous ‘stop-injection’, ovitrelle, we headed home.We ate lunch, and his mom got up to see how we did. Gordon told her everything that transpired. At the conclusion she started making phone calls to find a place I could get the EKG. She found a place they were obviously already familiar with. When she hung up she explained how she talked to the Dr who would do it (!) and when she asked how much it would cost he said “We’ll make it easy for you.” She laughed (that’s serbia for you) and pressed for a number. He told her 1.5k (that’s rsd in case you’re wondering, equivalent to about $25). My appointment was at 6pm Friday.

IVF round 1 : 7. Follicle check 3

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Aug 4, 2011
Thursday was take 3, only no blood test this day. The left ovary’s big follicle was around 19mm. The smaller ones were about 13. This day, she found the right ovary by pushing straight back. I recognized the angle by the discomfort. Surprisingly it had 1 large follicle and 3-4 smaller ones- just like the left ovary. We went from 3 follicles to 2 follicles, but the potential was good for the others to grow and catch up in the coming days. The aspiration date was set for Sunday.

How to administer the injections, exactly. (A fine time to ask)

We met with the older nurse – hyper but positive, and without circles – who we asked about administering the cetrotide. We weren’t sure we did it right, and were drawing back on the needle before injecting like the box instructions said. The first nurse told us to inject at 90degrees, and didnt mention drawing back…but the instructions should know better than her so we followed them. The problem was that both times we DID see blood when drawing back – the first time I think I even heard what sounded like a little balloon farting out air which, thankfully, Gordon didn’t hear. That, coupled with the blood that almost jetted out when I retrieved the needle was a little upsetting even to me, and he was already anxious about the needles. The nurse explained that we should draw back, but if I could lay down and administer the shot, I wouldnt have to. Further, these shots should be given at a 45 degree angle into the pinched belly fat area. We tried her method that night, and sure enough, no bleeding afterwards.

IVF round 1 : 6. Follicle check 1 & 2

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Aug 1, 2011
It’s 333am. I can’t help but wonder if we have an embryo growing. I feel a strange peace about it all, with random bursts of belly twisting anxiety when I begin to wonder what lies ahead.Saturday last week came with our first checkup. We headed out early for an 8am meeting with the vampire.¬†Darko¬†arrived at 7:15 and off we went, zipping on, over and around the road to Belgrade.

I guess it had rained the days before, or at least it must have on Friday.There are places in the road – as we pass through Umka, I think it is, that get washed out with the rain, since the road sits nestled on the side of a hill, with village shops sprinked on either side, and village houses hiding behind them deeper up and down the hillside. We drove carefully around the washed out chunks of pavement (ie., swirved sharply over and around buckles that might break the car in half if we grazed them or rode over them at ‘normal’ speed). I was thankful I had my gallbladder removed here just a few month ago, because surely it improved my unfailing need to use the bathroom while on road trips, generally at the most inconvenient places. I sensed Umka would have been that place, that morning.The young nurse with circles under her eyes worse than mine greeted us when we arrived, and took me back to one of the 3 exam rooms to draw my blood for the Estradiol test. The room sits between a wide screen TV that usually pipes in Pink video channel, and a painting that shows a unicorn with a red ‘leash’ around it’s neck, having been lowered by said leash into the center of a coral that provides little room for moving around in, muchless running and frolicking like unicorns do. I try not to think about the psychology behind the paintings (or my interpretations), and instead usually listen to the TV that plays all Serbian music and has a scheme displaying at the bottom of the screen where viewers can call in with their name and the name of someone that catches their fancy to see if they ‘love me, love me not’. It’s been a great resource for sifting through potential baby names, and we watch it here sometimes during morning coffee or meals spent in front of the TV. I keep spotting the name ‘Dejan’, which I really like, and Gordon is really hesitant about because it reminds him of a big dumb Montenegran kid he knew.

After she took my blood she showed me back to the waiting room and said I should have a seat and wait for the doctor to see me. The nurse makes him nervous, and his anxiety was building from feeding off that nervous energy she carries. I smiled politely in agreement and sat with my collective. We ARE the ‘gmorg’, and it’s amazing how much we talk without uttering a single sound.¬† We wondered silently why the¬†sestra¬†was under the impression I was supposed to meet with the Doctor, but we decided it would only be to our advantage to wait and let her have a look.

Inside of an hour, the doctor arrived and the tired nurse invited us in to another of the 3 exam rooms. This one is the 3rd room, between the 4’x6′ painting of 3 legged unicorns that I guess are supposed to be happy.

The room is pretty big and is sectioned in half. The entry part has her desk which is a lot less than impressive, but reminds me of the standard commercial black desk with metal legs you can find in most office supply stores back home. Her computer monitor shields her from prying eyes outside the door in the waiting room.¬† That consultation area stands apart by the division of a small folding privacy screen in the middle of the room, just next to a sonogram computer, gynecology table, and another wide screen tv, this one doesn’t show Pink tv.

I undress my bottom half behind the screen while Gordon sits in the far seat of 2 chairs in front of the desk. He can see the monitor – it’s quite big. I slip on the white generic clogs for patient use to scurry over to the table, my naked butt following me, just on the horizon of my dressy blouse. I lay down and put my pretty painted toenail feet ‘here’ and ‘here’ on the 2 cushioned styrups. It’s probably the nicest gynecology table I’ve ever been on. And that’s saying a lot.

The doctor waves her magic wand to and fro inside, finding my left ovary pretty quickly – they always do. It has 3 follicles of comparable size, and a 4th that’s a bit smaller than the others. Yay, I am responding to the menopur! After measuring the 3, she moves to the right side and waves her wand to and fro, to and fro, to and fro again, “Loves me, loves me not” comes to mind as I watch the monitor for the right ovary to appear. I explain again that my right ovary is situated a bit behind my uterus. She pokes and searches but she can’t find it and she explains there’s no reason to dig for it now, so she won’t. When the follicles grow she’ll be able to find it more easily.

After the appointment we left to return to the pharmacy, with the cash Gordon had taken from the ATM in town when he went on Friday to the medical center for his mom with the papers she needed signed for her broken ‘leg’. We bought just enough menopur to get us to our next appointment on Tuesday. We got home well before noon and sat in his moms bed while he recapped our adventure and all that everyone said. Her cell phone rang, which we designated for the doctors calls, and he jumped up to answer it. How he hates the phone. When he hung up, he said my estradiol was good, and my level was 145, he thought, but he couldnt remember for sure. I pressed him to remember, in English, outside his moms bedroom door who sat wondering what we were saying with that blank look I sometimes get when the conversation is just too far beyond my ability to interpret. He bit my head off because he was feeling the stress of not being understood like old times, and was upset I was making him feel like he should call back and ask for the level again. Mostly, I think, he was aggitated because when I asked when and if ICSI would be considered, the doctor informed us it would be done now, and said it casually as though we were already aware of that. Thankfully I came to terms with that, and Gordon didn’t have real strong issue with it – so he was just annoyed that we weren’t informed or consulted and that the decisions were happening without us.

We slept and took the shot at the right time. Our next appointment was on Tuesday, which was basically a replay of Saturday, with an icrease in Estradiol to 395. The left follicles had grown, the right ovary still MIA. It was supposed to be the day she announced when the eggs would be retrieved, but we had to wait for them to grow a bit more. Today we would buy the Cetrotide to inhibit natural ovulation, and start that one on Wednesday night along with the Menopur.