Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Start of IVF

It's finally starting, day 1 of my journey with IVF! No more discussions, no more speculation, no more waiting, we are taking some hardcore IVF action.

Phase 1 - Decapeptyle Injections - Artifical Menopause

The nurse came by this evening and I had my first injection (Decapeptyle). This injection is to basically put me in artifical menopause, to stop my period and suppress ovulation. She'll come by every evening to give me my shot. The needle is quite small and I felt a little sting after, but really no big deal (and this is coming from a big chicken).

I'm not a fan of Decapeptyle, as I had this treatment last year for 6 months and I had horrible hot flashes the last 3 months, everyday and practically all day. Out of the blue, my neck and face would be sweating up a storm (I didn't even know that my face was capable of sweating). I hope I don't get this undesirable effect again with this new treatment, but I'll try not to complain, because if it's a part of this process and it can help us have a baby, then I welcome it with open arms.

Phase 2 - Gonal F injections - Follicle Stimulating Hormone

Along with the Decapeptyle injections, I will start Gonal F injections on the 9 June. This injection will try to stimulate my ovaries to produce follicles/eggs, hopefully healthy ones that can be used for IVF. I will also have a blood test that day.

This is the start and I hope it goes well so that I can proceed onto the next steps of the IVF journey. I thought university was hard, I thought moving to a different country was complicated, I thought learning a new language at the age of 28 was difficult, but I think this is going to be one of the biggest challenges in my life, especially since I can't control how my body reacts, but I'm ready to do what I can and kick infertility in the butt, once and for all!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

French IVF Trivia

I'm a Canadian, married to a French, living in France. We qualify for 100% financial coverage from the government for IVF. I admit that sometimes I complain about living in France, but thank you thank you thank you for being such a great country for women who struggle with infertility. Vive la France! I don't want to get overly enthusiastic, as we do pay a lot of taxes in this country, therefore in turn there are a broad array of social benefits that are provided.

Here are some French IVF facts:

-To qualify for IVF coverage:
1. The couple has an infertility problem
2. Must be married or living together for a minimum of 2 years
3. The woman must be under 42 years old
4. The obvious, but I should mention, you need to have the French "Carte Vitale" (French social security)

-The government will sponsor up to 4 IVF cycles (what a good and generous government)

-3 is the maximum number of embryo transfers allowed for 1 cycle (reasonable)

-33% is the average success rate that results in live births (wish it was higher and I hope I can contribute to raising this average)

There are many other details to IVF in France, however this is the basic information, just to give you an idea of how it works in this country.

From my understanding, Canada does not cover IVF, however Quebec recently passed a law covering IVF for its province. I hope the rest of Canada follows its lead.

I know a lot of you out there have to dig deep into your pockets to pay for IVF, without any kind of guarantee, so I do feel for you. There are others out there that need IVF and simply can not afford it. That sucks and my heart goes out to those in this situation. If the French government did not pay for our IVF it would certainly make a huge dent in our wallet.

I probably will not have any new postings until I start treatment at the end of the month, so over and out for now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Organized and Zen

Thanks for everyones comments and support. I started this blog for myself, so that I could express my inner feelings, as this journey can sometimes be lonely and frustrating, however the support of the blogging community is absolutely fantastic! Merci!

I'm as organized as one can be. I've ordered my meds from the pharmacy and it will be ready for pick up on the 25 May. I've made the appointment with the nurse to come and give me my shots, starting on 26 May. I'm so glad that we have this option in France, as I could not imagine giving myself the shot. I suppose we do what is necessary when forced, so I'm just grateful I'm not forced to do that. I am a big chicken at heart after all! I've also started taking multi-vitamins and folic acid, as prescribed by the doctor.

Now, I just have to stay zen and in a few weeks this will all really start to happen. I'm pretty positive, upbeat, calm and hopeful. No use fretting over things I cannot control. Let's see if the power of positive thinking really works :-)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

Went to the fertility clinic today and we officially have all of our paperwork in order and approved for our IVF dossier (photos, ID, marriage certificate, consent forms, social security approval, etc.) - yippee! Sometimes there is so much red tape in France, however this was all fairly straightforward, thank goodness.

Here's the plan in a nutshell. On the 26 May 2010 I will start treatment with shots everyday for 28 days. If everything goes according to plan, around the 25 June, they will go in and retrieve my eggs (hopefully I'll have a lot of healthy ones). Then they will put the egg and sperm in a petri dish, hoping they will unite and make a strong and healthy embryo. This process takes around 3 days. They will then insert the embryo into me. If, and that's a big if, it all works out, I could be pregnant by July! I'm so excited. They say that the success rate is only about 20%, but they say that's about the same for fertile couples who are trying to conceive naturally. I know I've explained this in a very simple manner and complications can arise at any stage of this process, however I just want to stay positive for now and if complications arise, we'll deal with it at that time.

Now for the big decision - how many embryos to put into me for the first cycle? I certainly don't want to be like the Octomom! Actually, in France, the maximum number of embryos they can legally insert is 3. The biologist strongly suggested that we try 2 for the first time. The cat man (my hubby) is nervous about the possibility of having twins, so he prefers only 1 embryo, but I'm leaning towards 2, so that we have a better chance. Something for us to discuss and decide. Of course all of this is also depending on how many embryos we have. I hope my eggs and my hubby's sperm take a liking to each other and make a whole bunch of beautiful embryos, the more the merrier.

I'm so happy that this is all finally moving forward and with the help of science and the grace of God, I hope that this story can end with happily ever after.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Introduction of the Cat Lady and Wanna Be Mom

I call myself the Cat Lady because I've got 4 lovely kitties. Started with one, then another one came by our place, then another and we ended up with four (for now). Everytime we got a cat, my mom would say "oh dear" as she felt that the more cats we adopted, the more she thought we would not have children. At the time I laughed it off, thinking it was a silly connotation, but when we started trying to conceive, we were faced with many barriers.

My husband and I married in 2001. We started trying to have a baby in 2007. We were both busy with work and didn't realize the time that went by and after two years we started to ask why we weren't pregnant. I think we were also in a bit (or a lot) of denial, as we knew there was a problem, but hoped that it would resolve itself. I am ashamed to admit it, but at that point I had never been to the gynecologist (I was 35 years old). I'm really afraid of doctors and dentists, so I would do anything to avoid seeing them. Well, the gynecologist discovered a cyst, so I went through a series of tests (echography, scan, MRI, etc.). Doctor said that it was most likely that I had Endometriosis. To make a long story short, I had an operation in June 2009, which confirmed that I had Endometriosis and they took out what they could of the large cysts I had on each ovary and some that were stuck on my intestines. After that I went on a 6 month treatment, which put me in menopause, so that my ovaries could take a break. The hot flashes I got during this treatment was horrible, however if this is what it took to try and have a baby, then it would all be worth it. My body got back to normal in March 2010, so I saw a fertility specialist and she recommended IVF. We are meeting with the doctor and biologist this week!

I want to be hopeful, but not too hopeful. I know the odds are against us, as I'm 36years old, still have Endometriosis (as a cyst came back on one of my ovaries) and we recently discovered that my husband's sperm are slow movers.

I try to stay positive and focus on that. We are living in France and this country covers all the costs for IVF, therefore I'm grateful that we do not have to carry the financial burden that comes with this process.

At this stage, I'm hoping that my ovaries are not too damaged and that I can produce healthy eggs. IVF appointment is this Thursday, so fingers crossed.

By the way, I am proud to be the Cat Lady. This title often conjures up a stereotypical image of a spinster old lady, with no kids, and too many cats. In my case, I'm a married, middle aged lady, who loves her furry felines, with no kids, however trying deperately to have at least one.