IVF in Barbados: Egg Retrieval Day (Science is awesome)

Whoooo hoooooo! We did it! We finally made it egg retrieval day. Egg retrieval is a surgical procedure done to remove the egg from a woman’s ovaries for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The procedure is done in a minimally invasive way and has a short recovery time.

3 Potential Risks Associated with Egg Retrieval | Assessing the Medical  Risks of Human Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research: Workshop Report |  The National Academies Press

When I got to the clinic at 7 in the morning, I had my blood drawn for my PRP treatment. Protein Rich Plasma (PRP) is done during ovarian rejuvenation. During ovarian rejuvenation PRP is directly injected into a patient’s ovaries with her own platelet-rich plasma (PRP), infusing the ovaries with proteins rich in growth factors and stem-cell chemoattractants. We opted for this treatment due to my poor response to the ovarian stim cycle. I have what is called diminished ovarian reserve which means I don’t have many eggs left in my ovaries for science to play with.

Evidence from in vitro studies shows that PRP supports the viability and growth of human early preantral follicles. Direct injection of PRP into the stroma of poor responder ovaries leads to an increase in the number of follicles and eggs retrieved. In short, we chose this treatment to help our odds at another cycle have a greater egg count. Of course, we are still hopeful that we won’t need a second cycle, but should we need one, we’ll have this as a sort of “safety net” so to speak. You can read more about PRP treatments here.

After my blood was drawn, we walked over to the laundry mat and did laundry so we could have some fresh clothes for the rest of the trip. At 9:30, we returned back to the clinic for my egg retrieval, which I have to admit was not the most pleasant day so far. I was supposed to be put under for the procedure, however, the anesthesia didn’t work and I was wide awake and alert the entire time. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.

Once it was over, the team let me know that they were able to collect 4 eggs. I won’t know until tomorrow if they were mature and fertilized or not. Our eggs were fertilized using a method called ICSI, rather than traditional IVF. Here is my attempt at trying to explain this the best I can.

Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a modification of the in vitro fertilization (“Test-tube baby”) technique where the egg is fertilized outside the body by injecting the sperm directly into it. The embryo(s) are then introduced back into the woman’s uterus in the same way as for IVF. You can read more on ICSI here.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common procedures for infertility. IVF when translated means fertilization “in glass” and refers to the process where a woman’s eggs are fertilized with male sperm outside of her body in a laboratory to produce embryos. IVF is an option for many couples who struggle to conceive naturally. Once these embryos are created they are transferred to the woman’s uterus after 3 to 5 days and it is here that nature takes over for the embryo/s to implant and progress to a successful pregnancy. You can read more on IVF here.

So what’s the difference between ICSI and IVF?

The main difference is in how the egg is fertilized. With IVF, the egg is there for many sperm to fight over and the winner takes the egg. No pun intended. With ICSI, the embryologist selects 1 single sperm per egg and injects the sperm into the egg for fertilization. It’s much more controlled and is better for those with male factor fertility issues, which we have as well.

I did my best. If you guys have any questions at all, I’d love to spread awareness on this topic, so please ask them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

For now, I’m exhausted. It’s been a rough day and I think I need a nap.

I’ll be in touch soon when we find out what happens with those 4 eggs they collected.

Much love and hugs and stuff,

IVF in Barbados – Our 1st appointment with the clinic

We arrived on the beautiful island of Barbados on Wednesday, November. 10th. We arrived at our hotel just in time to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. We unpacked and immediately went in search for food. After traveling all day and having nothing but some cookies, cheesecake crackers, and gummy bears, we were ready for full bellies and a good night’s sleep.

~ Barbados from the plane ~

We walked down to a place called BACKYAAD and had dinner on the ocean. So far, everywhere we’ve been has done temperature checks and login information to track for COVID. Hand sanitizer is about as common and easily found as the rum punch, and trust me, that shit is EVERY WHERE! It was dark, as it gets dark around 5pm, but you could still see the beautiful waves crashing on the shore. We relaxed and waited for our dinner, but this island TRULY is on “island time.” No body here is in a hurry for anything, and while I respect and understand that, I do have fertility injections that have to be done at a very specific time.

Unfortunately I had to leave Hubman to wait for the food after an hour and a half, walk back to the hotel and give myself my injections. He requested the food be packaged for to go, and brought it up to me so we could eat in the room. I’m fairly certain within an hour after eating, we both passed out for roughly 10 hours, as we were completely exhausted due to the previous few days of preparation, anxiety, and traveling.

~ The moon over the ocean at 6pm ~

When we woke up on Thursday, I had to jump right into work. I’m very lucky to be able to work while I’m here on our fertility journey. So I stayed in the room until it was time for dinner. We went downstairs to the fish fry, where I had a wonderful chicken cordon bleu dish, but again, dinner was over 3 hours. Literally nobody is in a hurry here. It’s nice, but for the second time in a row I had to leave dinner to go give myself my injections.

Lesson learned, if we have to do this again, choose an early morning time or a very late evening time. 8pm isn’t late enough…

~ The last stab before we find out how I’m responding to these fertility drugs! Hoping my body isn’t hating me too much right now! ~

We came back to the room and settled down for the night since our first appointment was at 8:00 on Friday morning. Renting a car on the island is a bit pricey, so we are walking everywhere for the time being. We do plan to rent a car later and travel around to see more of the island when we have time.

~ The beach is right across the street from the Fertility Center! ~

Friday morning I hopped out of bed, super excited to finally go meet my team that is responsible for our journey this far. It’s a very short walk, maybe 10 minutes from where we are staying to the Barbados Fertility Centre. Once we arrived, we had our temperatures checked and we were signed in. We finally met Dr. Skinner who is simply lovely. She explained what the visit was for and what we were looking for. She’s so welcoming and warm and it was so hard not to hug her sweet neck. I really hate COVID.

~ I felt like I was the only patient there, though I know I wasn’t, as I met so many beautiful women that made this trip with us while we were at the clinic! ~

We proceeded with the ultrasound and they only found 4 follicles. Due to stage 4 endometriosis and a low AMH, I was expecting exactly what happened to happen. They only found 2 follicles on each ovary. 4 total.

This means we aren’t out of the game yet, we are just playing on a much harder difficulty level.

~ It’s not the best news, but it’s exactly what I was expecting. ~

The rest of Friday was spent having breakfast at ArtSplash, which has some phenomenal smoothies and breakfast/lunch options. Then we came back to the hotel and I worked until way too late while snacking on some awesome pizza that Hubman brought back so I wouldn’t have to leave my computer for the night.

~ Pancake Breakfast at ArtSplash ~

For now, It’s Saturday and we plan on having the most amazing week end enjoying this beautiful island. As I type this post, I’m currently sitting under a tree on the beach waiting for a rum punch refill and some lunch. Sunday is Hubman’s birthday, so we have an eventful day planned full of fun adventures.

~ Vitamin Sea and Relaxation. Doctor’s Order! ~
~ Naps on the beach are the best naps. ~

I’ll keep you posted on our adventures around the island this weekend and our results from our next scan on Monday.

Until then, enjoy yourself and remember not to take life so seriously!

IVF in Barbados

It seems like the past few months have flown by and as I write this on the plane ride to Barbados, all I can think about is all the things I’ve been though to get to this point in our journey.

~ Whatever happens, happens. It’s all going to be fine. ~

Countless labs, never ending exams, DNA and genetic testing, more vitamins and supplements than ever in my life, failed treatments, procedures, prescriptions, diagnoses, a surgery, 3 months of cycle suppression, and now FINALLY our fertility injections and other IVF medications. All this in just 11 months? It’s certainly been mad chaos.

~ Leaving San Antonio for Miami. ~

Today, November 10th, 2021, is the 6th day of our 1st IVF cycle. It’s also travel day. We woke up in San Antonio at 3am. We made it to the airport for our first flight by 4:30am. After a layover in Miami, we are currently somewhere over the Bahamas quickly approaching Barbados.

~ We are not awake, but we made it on the plane! ~

A question I get often is, “Where is Barbados?” Barbados is located in the Caribbean Region of the North Atlantic Ocean. As an island in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is a country in the West Indies.

~ Barbados is north of South America near the equator. ~

The island country is in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, and shares the east side of the coast with the Atlantic Ocean. Roughly triangular in shape, the island measures some 20 miles from northwest to southeast and about 15 miles from east to west at its widest point.

Ooooo – American Airlines is serving Biscoff cookies and cranberry cocktails. YES PLEASE!

~ Mile High Writer’s Club ~

Thank you all for the love and support you have shown us thus far. The calls, messages, prayers, gifts, donations, and constant positive reminders to stay positive are so appreciated.

I’m going to try to post updates here throughout our trip. I’m also going to be sharing photos to my Instagram and vlogs to TikTok. Stay tuned to see how our first round goes!

Hugs & love & stuff,

Austin 2021: New Home & New Hope

It’s been almost a year since we’ve moved to Austin. Our new home should be move-in ready by the middle of October. FINALLY! I’ll post all the pictures and bring you all for a tour in a later post. I promise.

For now, let’s focus on the HOPE.

**Please note that I will not be sharing our previous fertility issues on this page. I am only posting our current situation and the hopeful solution. Focusing on the past is not the way to move forward. If you know our story, please be mindful and respectful of what I choose to share publically.**

So let’s start with why this blog is named “Project: Life.”

I wanted to get my life and health back on track to eventually create a new life for myself, and ultimately start a family. I knew that me being unhealthy wouldn’t lead to any kind of future family, (life) and THAT is ultimately what Hubman and I want. Anyone who knows us knows that this has been our focus for a very long while.

At the end of 2019, Hubman and I had a conversation about our fertility issues. I’ll be the first to admit that I thought for sure once I got to a healthy weight and got some of my health issues under control, we’d plop out a baby or two to finally complete the family that we both so badly wanted.

That didn’t happen. So after constant heartbreak, month after month, we decided to deep dive into our fertility issues.

I saw a doctor in DFW that left me with more questions than answers and entirely too much frustration to even mention. After a few months of blood work, exams, tests, and all kinds of procedures, he didn’t seem to know what was going on so he sent me to a fertility doctor. The fertility doctor there didn’t help much either. Hubman was tested many times before anyone decided to take a true look at me. This doctor determined that it had to be 100% malefactor.

100% malefactor infertility means that the female reproductive system is working fine and the only issues are with the male reproductive system.

He was wrong. More on that in a bit. By this point, it was roughly May 2020 and the whole world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We did find out at this time that the malefactor was part of the issue that was contributing to our fertility issues so Hubman spent many months researching, taking medications, and doing everything he could to build up his numbers.

By this point, I had been put on the back burner while Keenan took care of what we thought was the only issue. We also found out in July that we would be moving to Austin. Fertility, in general, had officially been moved to the back burner while we found a place to live, packed, moved, and got settled into our temporary rental house.

Once we got settled in, we started looking for doctors; normal doctors, dentists, optometrists, just the things we needed to have since this is our new home. In the process, fertility was brought back to the forefront. I found an AMAZING fertility doctor in Austin that asked more questions and was much more friendly and professional. He was so thourough with everything, never once did we leave an appointment of hang up from a phone call that left us feeling confused or frustrated. After many exams, treatments, and more failed tests, he decided something wasn’t quite right.

He sat down with Hubman and me both and suggested that I have a hysteroscopy. He wanted to get in there and see for himself what was happening, based on everything that we had told him. Based on my pain levels and cycle history, he suspected endometriosis and since he had found that my left tube was blocked during previous procedures and exams, he wanted to try to open it up as well.

Hubman and I trusted him completely. He knew exactly what he was talking about, and we felt confident that the surgery was the right thing to do. Even if it didn’t fix anything else, it could potentially make my monthly cycles much less painful and easier to deal with.

In March 2021, I had a hysteroscopy. While he was in there, he realized that I had extensive endometriosis, twisted tubes, tied up ovaries, and my bladder and uterus were fused. What was supposed to be a quick and simple procedure turned into something much less boring for my doctor. He rebuilt me, and because of this, what was supposed to be a quick 3-day recovery, was more like a month. It didn’t even matter though – I am so glad I had this surgery.

I’ll admit, I was a little upset about having to have the surgery because I didn’t think it was too necessary. However, looking back, it was necessary and I’m so mad at myself for not making this happen 20 years ago. It has truly been life-changing.

Once I recovered and was able to have more testing and procedures, it was determined that my left tube was still blocked. Though my doctor had succeeded in opening it during the surgery, it had collapsed back on itself during the recovery. With our previous treatments having failed, he suggested that we continue with IVF to give us the best shot at carrying a child to term and finally having the family that we both have been aching for.

We’ve since realized that while the malefactor is a small part of our fertility issue, it’s a very small part. Not enough to even matter. So while we are thankful for that part of things, we still have a long journey ahead of us.

Stay tuned to follow our IVF journey.

Until next time, shine bright, my lovelies.