We have been oriented, our bill is paid, and I shot my stomach up with saline. We're ready to go.
The orientation was good. Lots of detailed information about every step of the process. I was impressed by how much technical information they covered, actually. I'm used to doctors explaining things to me as if I wouldn't understand the "real" explanation, so they're going to give me the stock fifth-grade reading level version.
There were about 15 couples there and we were the only lesbians. There was kind of a weird dynamic. On one hand, we're all at IVF's doorstep so I would have expected some kind of camaraderie or instant rapport based upon (at least some degree of) a common journey. It seemed the stigma of infertility was more powerful, though. Everyone kept their heads down and spoke in hushed tones with their own partners. No one made eye contact across the tables or while passing in doorways. No one spoke to anyone they didn't come with. You'd think the whole "we're all in the same boat" reality would have won out, but everyone (myself included) seemed terrified of invading the other couples' privacy. Perhaps that is indicative of our shared experience - we all know how painful and demoralizing it is to have reached this point, so we're doing our part to help each other save face. I don't know. It was interesting though.
I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me feel a bit overwhelmed. The stats are a little disheartening. Even in my age group (the "best" on all their charts), the success rate for live births is 46%. They also said that only 20-25% of couples end up with embryos to freeze. That was a bummer. M and I have been realistic about the possibility that we wouldn't have an FET option, but I thought our chances were much higher than that. At least 50% or more. Guess not. The technology is simply amazing. It blows my mind that they can even do ICSI, let alone complete it in a way that encourages embryo development rather than simply frying an egg.
The most surprising part to me was how totally freaked out I got during the injection training. I really thought I knew what I was getting in to and that I'd long ago leveled any barriers I had to being stuck up with needles. (TTC really takes care of that for us, doesn't it?) Still, when we started pulling out all the needles and vials and alcohol wipes, I felt myself getting a little woozy. Especially those darn PIO needles. Holy cow, those are big. Here's a scene from our injection training:
Nurse: We find that the practice of giving yourself a shot is a lot less scary than thinking about and anticipating it, so after we're done talking through all of these, we'll go upstairs and let each of you practice giving yourselves a saline injection.
M (to me): That's a great idea.
Me (to her): Um, yeah. Easy for you to say!
I should point out that M was the cheerleading team captain while I was actually doing the injection, and she's the one that's gonna have to do the PIO which will be about a hundred times harder than the subq shots, so I really should let her off the hook for being so eager to throw me to the wolves. :-)
One more scene, this time from the car after the orientation:
Me: My stomach is sore where I gave myself that shot. Why did she have me use so much saline? I mean, it was just a practice. We could have used the tiniest drop. Why did we have to use 20 ccs?
M: nodding silently and indulgently
Me: I mean, not actually 20 ccs. That's not right. That whole syringe was like half a cc or mL or whatever, but I can't remember what the units were.
M: still driving, letting me work through my nonsense
Me: I guess it was only 20 milli... I don't know... 20 milli... tiny... units or something.
M: Hmm, yeah. Millitinyunits. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. You don't mind if I use that as the units on my next exam, do you?
She puts up with a lot from me. She really does.
So anyway, here's where we go from here. A couple more people need to touch my chart for final sign-offs and then the scheduler has to contact me and let me know when they will have incubator space. I didn't necessarily get the impression that they were too full for us to start this cycle, but I did get the impression that they don't move all too quickly. So, I'm trying to be realistic about how likely it is that the finance person will send my file to the doctor for final medical clearance, the doctor will prepare my prescriptions and pass my chart on to the scheduler, she will contact me and we'll manage to avoid days of phone tag, I'll do my obsessive price comparison shopping and get my meds ordered and delivered, and all of this will happen before I'd need to start Lupron in, oh, about a week. It could happen, I'm just not getting my hopes up too high. It seems more likely that we'll start Lupron in early-May for an ER/ET at the end of the month.
As always, I'm trying to be optimistic enough to keep breathing and putting one foot in front of the other and realistic enough to avoid a mental health crisis should this not work.
I'll update with a calendar the moment I have one!