Sorry for the lack of updates – We were making the most of our last days in Barbados!
Saturday we spent most of the day on the water. We did a catamaran tour where we snorkeled in Carlisle Bay which has all kinds of tropical fish and two shipwrecks. Kyle and I both touched sea turtles (!!) during the swim there were five or six of them that were just swarming around our group. It was so incredible! We also saw the green monkeys at Oistins on Friday so my Bajan animal bucket list was happily satisfied.
We became real naturals with the bus system and spent Sunday morning driving through the tropical regions of the island and ended up at Bathsheba which was really breathtaking. The buses don’t run much on Sundays so we accidentally had 2 hours to explore the beach and found a little rum shop to pass the time.
Then we headed north to the Animal Flower Cave. Since we just celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary (traditional gift is “fruit and flowers”) Kyle got us a tour of the cave. The Animal Flower is a sea anemone. The ones in the cave look like tulips. Our tour guide said the tide comes up so high each day it fills the cave and brings the anemones with it and washes others back out to sea. Each day there are different anemones there so they never know how many or how big they’ll be.
Our flight back to the States got delayed so we missed our transfer at JFK and they next flight out was 11 hours later — We’ve decided we’re bad travel luck for each other! But we eventually got to a hotel where we spent a refreshing 3 1/2 hours sleeping then hopped off the plane at SFO and onto the BART. My Mom picked us up from the station on her lunch break and drove us to our car in Vacaville…we had a quick bathroom break and drove straight home. I think this morning was the greatest shower of my life and it feels great to be back.
Now for the baby stuff! We had 24 blastocysts frozen. (holy cow!) I start 3 medications tonight and will start injections again in about 2 weeks then back to Barbados in just over 7 weeks. This definitely wasn’t our plan but we are both feeling better about it now that we’ve had some time to come down from the original disappointment and are feeling hopeful.
Fun with numbers: We (ok “we” may be an exaggerated term) sat down and did the math and figured out if we did 2-embryos per transfer we could pay for the transfer procedures, flights, medications and accommodations for all 24 of our baby-cicles and it would cost about the same as ONE round of IVF here in the States.
Today we had our last appointment and all is well! While there is still some swelling I am officially CLEARED of hyperstimulation!
We didn’t get our embryo numbers update – they’ll freeze them all tomorrow and email us an official final-final total. They ‘looked’ today and, as expected, many of the 42 did not continue growing to the blastocyst stage and many did. She said, “Don’t worry you’ll still have plenty more than you’ll need!”
We set our next appointment to come back for the frozen embryo transfer pretty much as soon as we can which will be November 11th.
I think Kyle and I were both a bit surprised to find out the frozen transfer requires *MUCH* more medications and injections than this round. But they set us up with everything we need and in about 10 days we begin meds and daily injections until I return.
The best part of today was that it truly felt like our first day of vacation!!! With no dietary restrictions we went out for Indian food and I had every carb I could fit into my Roti: curried lentils, spiced chana and sweet potatoes with plantains. And drank soooo much glorious water!
We went shopping in Bridgetown and explored the capital city. Kyle said the bus station transported him back to Transkei.
We toured the Mount Gay rum distillery which was really interesting learning about the island’s history and rum making. They used to drink it as soon as it was distilled until traders discovered by coincidence that aging it (due to the several month ship-journeys to deliver to Europe) made it taste much better. I’m not a huge rum fan so I can’t imagine what it tasted like before!
Bajans are serious about their rum! Our tour included a rum punch (plenty for me!) followed by 6 “tasters” (in quotes because each taster was more than a wine tasting serving!). Our tour guide said she’d heard in other countries you buy shots of rum at the bar. Here they only sell it by the bottle.
We’re off to Oistins Fish Fry tonight which is apparently what everybody – locals and tourists alike – do on Fridays. We’re looking forward to getting 2 weeks of vacation into the next 2 days then heading back to real life.
Oh glorious air conditioning! Our host kindly drove us (maybe not very directly) to our new apartments. We checked in and cranked the AC. I fell asleep within about 10 minutes I think and woke up feeling better than I have in a week! Thank God!
No hyperstimulation symptoms today either. I felt so good even went swimming in the ocean and grocery shopping where our inner 7th graders found this little gem and couldn’t resist stocking up…get it? “Stocking up” because all of you are getting one in your Christmas stocking! At first I was concerned about the natural flavoring.
Ok back to being a grown-up: Emma called at 7am for my noon-check because she was so worried about my “giant ovaries” She seemed surprised at how I’m feeling (way less than Kyle and I are I assure you!) and is calling me twice a day instead of once a day. No matter what they’re having me go in on Friday for a scan and if things still look good then I’ll get to go off my diet restrictions and I’m going to celebrate with a gallon of water!
Well we’ve certainly spent more time indoors than we originally planned! Our little AirBnb is adorable but not ideal for recovery. The past 2 days I’ve spent very little time away from our one circular fan. Kyle is a wonderful nurse but we’re just drenched in sweat. Our host said this is the hottest month he can recall since living here and our nurse, Emma, told me the same thing today…and she moved here from London 11 years ago! So tomorrow we are moving to a new place with air conditioning and I am so excited I am counting down the minutes! If we won’t be outside enjoying Barbados at least we’ll be enjoying the indoors a little more.
Of our 51 eggs 43 fertilized – Another clinic record! (I mean REALLY we should get a certificate or a trophy right?) Normally the embryologist evaluates them daily until Day 5 which is the ideal for transfer and/or freezing. They rank them 1 being the absolute best and brightest of the bunch down to 4 which is still viable bit not the strongest. Emma said our embryologist (Katerina) is a t.o.u.g.h. grader and if she gives a 1, “It’s a bloody perfect 1” haha Emma is my fave!
Today 42 of our 43 are still growing and 10 are 1s. All the others are 2s and 3s so – as Emma put it – we can have 3 football teams! Although she might have meant futbol teams.
Usually they evaluate daily and call us update us with new numbers but Katrina said because we have SO MANY petri dishes she doesn’t want to keep opening and closing the door to the incubator that many times a day for fear of effecting the growth process so we won’t get another number update until Day 5 when they’re done cooking.
Tomorrow is Day 3 post-eggstraction so it’s the day Hyperstimulation pain and suffering should set in. I’m not sure I’ll sleep tonight knowing what’s coming. It’s like I’m sitting outside the principal’s office just imagining the horrible punishment that awaits me.
To help prevent hyperstimulation I was given a strict diet of no sugar, no carbs, high salt and high protein, no more than 1 1/2 liters water daily…oh and no alcohol for 24 hours after my procedure haha. So basically I’m on the Atkins Diet which is NOT for me! Blech. But I’m so swollen I don’t have much room or appetite for food anyway.
From here the nurse will call daily to check on my symptoms and decide if and when I’ll need to return to the clinic for another surgery to drain the fluid. They do that in the case the ovaries become so refilled with fluid it leaks elsewhere and causes severe bloating to where it pushes your other organs to limit lung capacity and other scary sounding stuff.
So now our biggest hope is to get through the hyperstimulation symptoms with no drainage needed and before getting on the plane on Monday. However symptoms typically last 2 or more weeks. A bonus would be that the medications they changed will be so successful that I won’t have any worse symptoms at all and we’ll get to do some of the fun vacation-stuff we had planned.
Thanks everyone for checking in on us and all your prayers and support!
Today was the day for egg extraction. Steph had the final couple of injection Friday night and Saturday morning that would make the eggs mature in preparation for today. As she mentioned in the last blog, they switched to a different medication than the normal HCG to keep the hyperstimulation from causing things to swell too much.
We took the bus in to the appointment, but after we were on we couldn’t figure out how to let the driver know we wanted to stop since it didn’t have the string to pull. Thankfully a lady on the bus yelled at the driver when she noticed we wanted to get off. So we drove by the bus stop, but got dropped off right in front of the clinic.
The doctors said the extraction procedure went fine. They used an anaesthetic that they said doesnt quite put you to sleep, but you don’t feel any pain.
We are back in our cottage now. We moved from our hotel yesterday to the Airbnb. The cottage is a pretty nice place, very quaint. Unfortunately it does not have an air conditioner, so it may not be the most relaxing for Steph for recovery.
They said they extracted 51 eggs, and the embryologist said that is the most she has ever seen. Unfortunately, that many probably means the recovery time and pain level will be harder than normal. We will hear over the next couple of days how they develop.
I’ll get to the good news – Kyle is HERE! The passport agency said gave him his passport right away and got on his flight out of SF as planned. He got here around 2 yesterday, changed into his trunks and got into the ocean, took a nap on the beach and woke up for fish and chips and rum punch.
This morning was my 2nd scan where they determine which day they do the extraction…this is where the bad news begins. I have LOTS of stimulated follicles which you’d think is a good thing but once I take the “trigger shot” they will all mature at once which is a big problem with the number I have. Long story short they changed up my meds – they will extract and fertilize them on Sunday – then that’s it. 😞 I will still have a rough recovery it sounds like but nothing compared to what it would be if they’d kept on the same track. They will have to freeze the embryos and then I will have to fly back to Barbados some time in the future to have them transferred.
From what I’ve heard the success rates are generally lower with frozen embryos but they said their chances are still good. Still it feels like the worst possible thing that could happen every step of the way has happened to us and today I feel about 0% hope we’re ever going to have a baby.
We will keep you updated again as we know more. For now you can pray for me as I’m getting swollen from the hyperstimulation and stomach pain will increase as things enlarge until Sunday. Then for the recovery the following days. At least Kyle’s here now and that definitely helps! We’re going to make the best of our unnecessarily long vacation for now.
Never thought I’d be in a romantic ocean view room in Barbados with my Mom…but here we are. We made it!
Yes my mom made the ultimate sacrifice to take a week off work to come to her daughter’s aide for ‘a medical emergency out of the country’ So she’ll be here with me as I have my first appointments with our doctor and find out what the backup plan is for when you show up missing half the ingredients for the bun you’re baking.
Our flights were windy and rocky but no hurricane in NYC! Just some sweat stains from the turbulence. Mom sat by someone who threw up on BOTH of the flights. I sat next to the most terrified person I’ve ever met – She had a death grip on the seat the entire trip and when we landed she started clapping and cheering then repeated “I am alive I have made it, I am alive I have made it…” until we deplaned.
We walked down to the clinic where I have my first REAL appointment at 9am (EST) tomorrow. It felt strange to see it in real life after it being a background photo on a website I’ve looked at for over a year.
Next we walked to an Indian restaurant – we are in the West Indies after all – and had a delicious dinner. As soon as our sweat dries we’re gonna hit the water! The hotel has a private beach, pool, hot tub (who wants it when the low tonight is 82) beach bar and restaurant. Tonight they’re playing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels outside on the beach and I hope I can stay awake long enough to enjoy it.
Kyle has an appointment Tuesday morning at 10:30 at the passport office and if all goes well he’ll be out on that evening’s flight and arrive in the nick of time on Wednesday.
We have basically no cell service or wifi connection so I likely won’t get your emails or texts or see your comments throughout the day. But I’ll still try to update the blog daily-ish from the business center!