September 2019. It was finally time for our first IUI attempt! We went in for our 11 day ultrasound to check and see how many follicles I had that were ready to go! This cycle we were able to get two healthy follicles that were large enough to be able to attempt our first IUI.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with fertility treatments, IUI means intrauterine insemination. During this process, a small catheter is inserted and directly places sperm into the uterus, where it will hopefully have an easier time reaching the egg in the fallopian tube! This method typically uses less medication than IVF, as you are hoping that the sperm will reach and implant into the egg on its own. For me, I only had to take oral medications and one shot, the trigger shot, during this process.
At the end of my ultrasound, and it was determined that my follicles were big enough to try an IUI, so they administered my “trigger shot”. This shot contains hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone that signals, or triggers, your follicles to rupture and release their egg. Typically once this shot is given, ovulation will take place anywhere between 34-42 hours. The trigger shot didn’t have any side effects for me, except for a sore injection site!
One of the harder part of doing these treatments, especially if you are trying to keep it low-key, is scheduling your life around these appointments. Once you begin, your life revolves around doctors offices, ultrasounds and follicles! You do not have the option to cancel or adjust appointments, because you only have a small window of opportunity to complete the IUI to leave time for optimal fertilization! This means leaving work on your lunch break, only to go back right after and try not to think about the fact that you just had the procedure that could potentially change your life forever! We decided to keep most of our journey to ourselves during this process to eliminate the constant questions and pressure of people asking if it was working. Anyone completing fertility treatments knows that feeling!
When we left the office, we immediately called Cryobank and had them overnight our donor sperm to the office. The cost was around $300 for delivery and it was guaranteed that they would have it to the office right when they opened! With this being our first cycle, there were so many questions and unknows about the procedure.
How did it work? Was it going to hurt? How big was that catheter?!
We went in the next afternoon, and it was time to begin. We were so filled with emotions, knowing this day could potentially change our life forever! We went into the room, and our amazing nurse came in and explained exactly how the procedure works and what it would feel like. They thawed the sperm as soon as it came into the office and made sure it was ready for us. As soon as we checked in, they “washed” the sperm twice, which separated the healthy sperm from the seminal fluid and non-motile sperm. She asked us if we wanted to look at the sperm under a microscope and we both jumped up and ran over to it! The little poppy seed looking swimmers were moving, not too crazy, but they were swimming away! The doctor came in and approved that the sperm looked healthy enough to proceed!
We went back into the room, and they got the instruments ready. The catheter was extremely small (1.6mm diameter) and as soon as I saw it, I immediately felt a sense of relief seeing how small it was! The procedure itself took about four minutes and it was over! She inserted the speculum, then the catheter, injected the sperm, and was done! It did not hurt one bit, but felt more like the typical pressure of a routine pap. Once she was done, she had me lay flat on the table for 10 minutes, and we were done!
There were not any extreme limitations after the procedure, and the only instructions were to not doing any exceedingly strenuous activity for a couple of days, but normal activity and exercise was completely fine. We both went back to work, and on with our day. It was time for the dreaded 18 day wait…
10 days later, we got antsy and took a pregnancy test! We knew that we were supposed to wait, but we were just so excited that we couldn’t wait! I peed on the little first response pregnancy test for the first time, praying to see two lines! 3 minutes later, and there was the lightest, slightest two lines, and we were so positive that it was positive! We tried not to get excited, but for the next 8 days, all we could talk about was baby related things. Nursery décor, names, strollers, you name it! On day 18, we took our confirmation test. It was very negative, followed by my period the next day.
This is why they tell you not to take the test early. We got our hopes up, and they came crashing right down.
How did it go from being positive to negative? What did I do wrong? Was it the exercise or did I lift something to heavy to not let it stick?
We knew it was only our first try and that it wasn’t going to be that easy, but it didn’t make it any less disappointing. I felt like I failed, like my body failed. I felt this enormous pressure, knowing that we had just used one of our eight vials, and we were only limited quantity here. All I could think about was that we only had seven left. Seven more chances. I felt like a pressure cooker of emotions, trying not to explode. That’s the biggest stressor when you use donor sperm, is that you don’t have unlimited access, like you would if you were a straight couple. We felt our emotions, talked though it, and picked ourselves up to begin again. You become so incredibly reliant on your partner during this time to help you on this emotional rollercoaster, and we were so grateful for one another.
We decided we would try one more cycle, and if it didn’t work, we would wait until after the holidays and try again. October came, and it was time for IUI #2.