Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Emotions, Drugs & Hormones

Well, we are fourteen days away from leaving for our big trip and everything appears to be in place. (Phew!) I am 2.5 weeks into taking the birth control pill and I can honestly say it hasn't affected me too much. I understand there can be some unpleasant side effects but truthfully, with the exception of an occasional headache, hot flash or funky dream, I'm feeling great. That is, aside from the hurricane of emotions I would expect when only two weeks from a 7,500 mile trip and the next big step in starting a family through surrogacy. I'm sure those feelings will be stirred up even more once we begin our IVF meds, which arrived safely last week. I officially look like a drug dealer, as there is a mountain of syringes, alcohol swabs and drugs on our kitchen island (and in the fridge).

I begin the Lupron shots (a.k.a. Leuprolide Acetate) this Wednesday - that's right, this Wednesday, as in tomorrow - and I'm not sure whether I should say hooray or eeekk! The Gonal-F shots (a.k.a. Follitropin Alfa) begin about 10 days later. Ordering our meds wasn't too difficult and here is how it worked for us.....

Turns out that because our SI doctors only practice medicine in India, they can not register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and thus are unable to prescribe medicine in the U.S. Instead, Dr. Sudhir sent us the order and our local fertility doctor prescribed it through his office. (We got it through Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, a common source for IVF drugs.) Although our local fertility doctor will be monitoring me during our cycle while we are in the States, we obviously will not be working with him for all of it. Unfortunately, our medical insurance through Harvard Pilgrim Health Care only covers complete IVF cycles, not bits and pieces. As a result, none of our U.S.-based treatments and medications are covered. Bummer, I know, but we are moving forward with filing a “member claim” to hopefully have some of it paid for and we shall see what happens. For the record, the out of pocket cost for the IVF meds prescribed for us was approximately $2000.

In addition, because we will not be working with our fertility doctor here for a full IVF cycle, his office cannot legally walk me through how to administer the shots. They pointed us to a bunch of very helpful online videos posted by Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, but lucky-me has a stepsister (much more like a sister) who is a nurse. We had a private practice lesson in shot administration tonight and after successfully turning a banana into a pin cushion, I'm confident I will be good to go for tomorrow. In all seriousness, I'm not nervous about the actual shot, I'm nervous about mixing up the dosage, but she assures me, I'll be fine. Let's hope that's the case and thank you, Ad!

Many have asked how I feel about everything that's happening this month and I figured I'd address that while I'm writing about the three things that are keeping me up at night - emotions, meds and hormones. I am very excited and can't wait to meet R (our surrogate), our doctors and any of the people we've been interacting with during the process (along with any other IPs!). I'd be lying if I didn't say I am also scared, nervous, anxious, stressed and a bit apprehensive. I have been fortunate enough to travel a fair amount in my life both domestically and internationally, but never to a country in the developing world such as India. I know there will be a culture shock and everyone who knows we're going has said something to the effect of, prepare yourself, the culture shock is alarming. I feel as though I'm pretty open minded, but I must admit, with all of the warnings, I am nervous! To help prepare me for our trip, Geoff bought me a great book that I'm enjoying called Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India. The book is perfect for women as it gives really practical advice on the culture, dressing appropriately, areas to visit and avoid, keeping personal belongings safe and a cool thing is that it includes fun anecdotes and advice from women travelers. I highly recommend it!

I continue to believe my emotions are still "in check" though my husband may disagree. (I like to randomly hurl insults at him and then scream, “That’s not me, it’s the pill talking!”) I understand there are hormones racing through my body right now but even still, I was feeling emotional prior to starting any meds because I am an emotional person and because this is such a sensitive subject. It's a bit hard to explain, but there are times when I'm excited and smiling and cheery because the hopeful outcome of this journey is a positive one. I also know that there could potentially be a negative outcome and I would be heartless if I didn't worry about that. Also, this is the first time we've ever tried to have a baby and I do feel responsible for what goes on in my body. To elaborate, I have been taking my prenatals and birth control pills regularly, I have been eating healthy, I haven't been drinking (not that I drank much anyway), I haven't been consuming caffeine and I've just been trying to be healthy, thinking that would help the process. But, what if I'm not as healthy as I can be or what if I'm slightly off on the meds and that throws things off? I know, I know, there are a lot of what-ifs! So I will just try my best to take deep breaths and embrace it all as it comes.


  1. Oh Shannon,
    You'll be fine with everything. I know this is my 2nd time but my first time giving myself the shots, our 1st time we got all our shots in india. I'm nervous as hell, let me know how it goes, i start on Jan. 28th..but already started BCP.

    I cant wait to meet you guys, hopefully we catch up!!

    All the best and GOOD LUCK!!

  2. Best of luck guys. i forget if you said that you are flying continental or not. if so, its advisable to get to logan pretty early, and possibly hop on the earlier connector to newark. i did this in the middle of the december snow storm and it saved my trip! i can't wait to hear about your travels. if you have any questions shoot me an email!

  3. Shannon
    ex-Salem native here but currently domiciled in the Big Apple.
    I know plenty of women who have gone through the same cycle as you. If there is one piece of advice I can give you it's to take it as easy as possible. Lounge by the pool or your nice room with your iPod or a good book and try to resist the temptation to venture out too much. Mumbai is very overwhelming and extremely polluted (especially the diesel fumes) so not a good idea to do too much if you are on IVF meds. Good luck to the both of you.

  4. Shannon,
    All the very best to you both. Your post brings back SO many memories of our first cycle. You will do great!! Its normal to be nervous. Please don't be too hard on yourself. You can do everything right in the world, but I believe it is all up to mother nature in the end! Your body will tell you how much it can take. We rode elephants and camels and went snorkeling on our 2 cycles. I was very lucky and I felt great with very little side effects from the meds. I hope this is exactly what its like for you too. Don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions and I will try and help.

    Have a safe trip, take it ALL in and just ENJOY every single minute of it !!!!