A Year Ago Today: My Journey with IUI
A year ago today my mom took me to my fertility doctor for what would become the day (or close to) I became pregnant. March 12, 2018 was my insemination day. Brit and I had spent weeks gearing up for this first try with doctor visits, uterine exams, taking Clomid and a shot of HCG, peeing on sticks, the works…
At the time, it didn’t feel all that real. I was just going through the motions that my doctor had given me. I went to my first appointment when I was on Day 4 of my menstrual cycle so my doctor can perform an exam to ensure everything looked good. From there, I would have another 4 check up appoints to track my eggs growth, take Clomid (an oral medication that is used to stimulate ovulation), pee on 7 ovulation test strips, pick up the vial of sperm from the Cryobank, and be given an injection of HCG (a hormone that supports the normal development of an egg in a woman's ovary, and stimulates the release of the egg during ovulation). All of this occurred within 13 days.
On day 12 of this journey, I was given the HCG shot. As mentioned, this is supposed to help ensure the release of my egg during ovulation, which means that within 24 hours of the shot, I would need to be inseminated. Brit had come with me to every single appointment. And as a side note, our doctor was about an hour away from where we lived — that’s 2 hours in the car, there and back, for a 30 minute check up. So when it was time to take the shot, I knew I would have to go back in the next day. Brit had already put so many things on hold, and I think we both thought it wouldn’t really work the first time anyways, that we were both comfortable and okay with my mom taking me to my insemination appointment. So that night, after my shot, Brit and I went home and had a romantic evening with each other, wine and all.
The morning of March 12th had arrived. I was jittery and anxious — two things every fertility doctor and OBGYN tell you not be when trying to conceive). I did what I could to self soothe. Lots and lots of deep breaths. My mom picked me up from my condo and drove me to my appointment. As we waited in the waiting room to be seen, I counted 40 weeks from my first day of my last period (which was about 2 weeks prior). December 1st. I told my mom it had to work. If the insemination was unsuccessful and I had to wait another cycle, my due date would have been during Christmas / New Years, and my parents had already planned their winter trip — one that I knew they would obviously cancel for the birth of their first grandchild, but I like to be accommodating.
“Sydney,” a nurse said at the door separating the waiting to the rest of the medical offices. My mom and I took a deep breath, gathered our belongings, and headed back. “Take your pants and underwear off and put this blanket over you. The doctor will be with you shortly.” As I lay half naked on the medical table, waiting, all I could hear was my heartbeat. I didn’t know what to think. It felt like hours had passed until the doctor finally came in. In reality? It was 5, maybe 10 minutes, tops. He shook my moms hands, he asked me how I was feeling, and then said, “It’s time.”
The actual IUI procedure (intrauterine insemination) was easy and painless. The doctor inserts a teeny tiny flexible syringe-like tool through my cervix and releases the sperm. That’s it. Done. There is no lying on my back with my feet above my head for 30 minutes. There is no sitting period. After he was done, I got dressed, paid for the services, and went out to dinner with my mom. During dinner I began to feel some light cramping. This was normal. Not comfortable or reassuring, but normal.
The next set of instructions I was given before I had left the doctors office was to NOT take a pregnancy test. Pregnancy tests are not 100% guarantee and they didn’t want me to experience a false positive. That’s the type of stress that should be kept at bay. Instead, I was suppose to carry on with my days, as worry-free as possible, until 16 days post IUI. On day 15, March 27th, I called the doctor’s office. “Hi, it’s Sydney. I was just inseminated a couple of weeks ago and was told to call if ‘IT’ hasn’t arrived. I know I probably sound crazy, but I don’t want to say ‘IT’ in case ‘IT’ does come. I don’t want to jinx myself. Anyways, tomorrow is day 16 and I haven’t taken a pregnancy test.” The woman at the other end of the phone laughed (in a sympathetic, I know what you are going through kind of way) and reassured me. “Of course, Sydney. Let’s have you come in tomorrow.”
March 28, 2018. A day I will never forget. I went to the doctor’s alone. I told Brit that it was silly for her to miss work when this particular appointment was just for a blood draw. I wouldn’t hear anything about my results for at least a day. I had fibbed. I knew I would hear back that same day, but felt like I needed to do this part on my own. I went in, they drew my blood, they wished me luck, and told me that one of the nurses or the doctor would call when the results were in. The best way to know if you’re pregnant is through a blood test. It’s taken 16 days past ovulation, or for me, after my IUI. Once those results are in, if HCG levels are high, odds are, you’re pregnant. To confirm, the same blood test is done two days later. If the levels have at least doubled, a pregnancy is confirmed.
After my blood draw, I went home, cuddled with my puppy and watched TV. Hours went by. The phone rang. It was the doctors office. At the other end of the line, I heard my doctor’s voice. I had made up that if one of the nurses called, it meant I was pregnant, as they wouldn’t have the nurse call with bad news. So if the doctor called, he’d be the one to break the news softly. “Congratulations, Sydney. You’re pregnant.” I just about passed out. I can’t tell you, to this day, what he said after that. We allegedly spoke for 3 minutes, but I don’t remember what he said. By the end of the call I had made a follow up appointment for 48 hours later to ensure that my numbers doubled. SPOILER ALERT. They did!
This process took about a month. From getting my period to my first check up with the doctor, from medications and an injection, to that actual insemination and confirmation, it had taken 33 days from start to finish, and it ended in a healthy, beautiful, wonderful baby girl. But we will get into my pregnancy, who and how we told our family and friends in another post. For now, this post, I want preserved for that moment in time when Brit and I conceived.
Our journey is blessed and special. We were fortunate and lucky enough to have the best support team, both medically and with our family, and to have been successful on one try. Even now, with Thea being here, with us, this all still feels like a dream.