We started tracking Steph’s cycle through blood work and ultrasounds. This measures levels of estradiol, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone through blood work and tracking the thickness of the uterus lining and the size and quantity of your follicles (eggs) is done through ultrasounds.
An example of our cycle tracking schedule:
Day 1 of cycle – call the OBGYN and make an appointment to have the initial blood work and ultrasound done.
Day 8-9 – We have blood work and ultrasound performed to see where Steph’s levels sit. Depending on the numbers determined the date of our next appointment.
Day 15-21 (approx.) – We started going every other day to track the size of the follicles until they (the dominate follicle) was approx. 18-24mm in diameter. When they reach this size, ovulation will soon occur (typically around day 21).
**Note – because the OB we saw locally does not specialize in fertility they did things a little bit different then a fertility clinic. A clinic is much more regimented in cycle tracking and blood work. We were also regularly in touch with Dr. McDyke’s office to assure we wouldn’t miss the mark on the optimal insemination date and time. **
Once Steph’s follicles were at this right size and signaling ovulation, she had to receive a “trigger shot”. I will never forget the first time she had this injection. We have the prescription, we get it filled and have my sister (who is an RN) all ready to give her this shot. We get home and open everything up, get all setup and then realize we don’t have any needle to give this. The medication came in two separate vials and had to be mixed just prior to being injected. When combined there was about 10cc’s which I quickly learned was difficult to find syringes for. After inquiring at several pharmacies with no success, I settled for a package of insulin needles…..1cc insulin syringes…that means 10 pokes! Can I tell you how happy she was with me?! So my sister got to work, 5 injections in one arm and 5 in the other! Oh dear!
To ensure that the sperm was delivered on time; not too late and not too early we called the Canadian Distributor for our sperm bank when we were about two days away from ovulation. We needed to ensure it was at our doctor’s office for the day of insemination. The sperm can remain frozen in the shipping container for up to 7 days so it was better to have it arrive a few days early than too late.
As close as we could get to 24 hours after the trigger shot, it was time for our first insemination! We had two insemination’s per cycle to increase the chances of conception; the first 24hrs after the trigger shot and the second 72hrs after. There is only about 1cc or 1ml of semen per insemination so let’s get as much as we can in there… the more the merrier in situations like this!
It’s show time! We are like two giddy kids in a candy store, bouncing with a bit of excitement and a few nerves! Dr. McDyke greets us and takes us into her office. On the floor sat the shipping container that’s holding the goods. It’s a torpedo like metal container and when it was opened it looked like something you would see in an intense medical drama…with smoke and squeals, and streamers and confetti – well maybe not the streamers and confetti. I added that for effect! However, the liquid nitrogen that keeps the sperm frozen makes quite the display when opened. When the doctor pulled out the vial; I was expecting something the size of a typical specimen bottle but it was hardly the size of a pen cap! It was removed from the container and placed out to thaw while we signed some paper work and got all set up.
The procedure itself didn’t last more than maybe five minutes. A catheter called a tomcat was inserted through her cervix and into her uterus; the semen was then injected very slowly (to try and minimize the chance of cramping). After the insemination Steph remained lying down for about 10 minutes. Some women will become light headed or experience cramping afterwards so getting up slowly and resting is recommended. We went straight home after the appointment and Steph hit the couch, lying on her side…but not just any side, the side that she was ovulating on!! Why not try everything you can to help the little swimmers along?!? Maybe lying on her side would promote the little spermies to swim faster towards the egg! Logical…maybe not, but it made us feel better!
Now we wait……and wait.