I saw my fertility specialist this morning. I took the office manager’s advice and went in around 11:15. It was so quiet today that I didn’t even have time to go to the washroom before I could hear him calling my name to go into the office.
He was focused and thoughtful and not in a rush. He did have a new medical student with him, which made it even more annoying when I (predictably) started to cry, despite all of my best efforts not to, but I’m sure he’s seen it all before.
Anyway. We looked things over. He agreed that my ratio of embryos to blastocysts from that IVF cycle in August 2010 (17 embryos on Day 1, 17 embryos still growing on Day 3, 2 blasts transferred with 6 potential ones to freeze on Day 5, only two more blasts frozen on Day 6) was “lower than we would expect given the other factors”. His best guess, which is mine too, is that the PCOS means I make crappy eggs. There’s not a whole lot we can do about that, although he says that in general they have better luck with embryos these days than in 2010 because the technology keeps improving. He says he’d probably tweak a few things with the IVF protocol this time around, partly because of the embryos, partly because I’m older (and so, of course, is Q.).
He feels that he has already run every single possible test to determine other problems with me or with Q. He was happy enough to run most of the auto-immune ones again, and I was happy to pay for the ones not covered by OHIP, but that’s really just an information gathering exercise. If any of my results have changed, it won’t alter the protocol- he’s already put me on all the medications they recommend for those sorts of situations. Q. and I both need to update our bloodwork since it’s been six months since our last round, and he’s requested that Q. provide another sperm sample so they can make sure everything is still ok on his end.
We looked at the calendar.
“We’re still in semester until early December. Can we do a retrieval and transfer as close to Christmas as possible?” I asked.
His face lit up. “Yep. Absolutely. Great idea! Just come back in on your day 2 and we’ll get you set up.”
Looks like we’re doing this again.
It’s impossible to say anything with 100% certainty in this game, but I really feel like this is it. Doing this IVF is going to stretch us financially. Another cycle will make things really difficult.
Plus I could rationalize to myself that with just two failed FETs it’s possible we ended up on the wrong side of statistics. We were unlucky, nothing more. I don’t know that this same argument would hold much weight if we go through another entire round of IVF (plus any associated FETs) and still come up empty. I think then it will be easier to call it quits.
I hate the idea of doing another full IVF.
I hate the idea of spending this much money on something so tenuous, money that we could spend on the life we already DO have with E.
I hate the idea of the drugs and the stimming and the retrieval.
But I hate the idea of walking away more.
I reminded myself yesterday that in December 2009, after the last of our FETs from that first IUI/IVF conversion cycle failed, I wanted to quit. I was done. Q. wasn’t, and he convinced me to try again, argued that we had to give a full, long protocol IVF cycle a chance.
That last cycle was the one that brought us E. (I looked at my chart while I was waiting for my doctor and discovered for the first time that E. was either embryo #7 or embryo #13, as they were the two that grew the fastest and were chosen on transfer day.)
He wouldn’t be here now if we hadn’t pressed on past that first point where I really wanted to stop.
2.0 deserves the same chance.
So I made another decision today.
I’m going to tell my supervisor he’s not getting a full draft of my dissertation before Christmas.
I’ve lost probably five of the only full day each week that I have to be in library this semester to trips to the clinic, because it also happens to be the only day where I can go without having to drag E. with me, as Mondays I’m at his nursery school in the mornings, and Fridays I’m teaching.
I’ve been refusing to work after dinner, refusing to work when I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and can’t get back to sleep. I haven’t always been as efficient as I could (or should be) when working during E.’s naps. All of this has been a very conscious deliberate strategy to control my anxiety and my stress levels. But it has also meant that progress on the dissertation, although it continues, has been slower than it needed to be to meet that deadline.
I probably could get a full draft to my supervisor by mid-December, as we agreed in early September, if I absolutely went for it over the next six weeks.
But it wouldn’t be easy.
And I just can’t rationalize commiting to another round of IVF when I am also openly planning to arrive at the start of that cycle stressed and exhausted and burnt out from what is basically a self-imposed deadline.
I’m still moving along at a good pace with the dissertation. I’m still on track to finish on time (and by that I mean at the same time I would have been expected to finish if I hadn’t had a baby and taken six months of maternity leave, so I guess that’s technically finishing early). I’m the one who decided I wanted to have a draft finished by Christmas. I wanted to have that off my plate before the holidays. It was a good plan, but I underestimated how much time and mental energy the FETs were going to eat up.
The alternative is to shelve the whole process of trying for a 2.0 until next July, when we’re out of school and back from visiting Q.’s family, and just work like mad on the dissertation in an effort to try to defend at the end of the academic year. There are good reasons for this alternative timeline, but they’re not the ones that really matter to me when I sit down and think about it. What really matters to me is I’m getting older. What really matters to me is the age gap between E. and any potential sibling is growing with every month. What really matters to me is I’m already emotionally invested in this process, and the idea of giving up on it for another eight months, leaving us in limbo, is untenable.
I would rather have the dissertation take a couple of months longer to finish. In the grand scheme of an academic career, those months mean nothing.
Coming into our IVF cycle in a healthy state of mind could mean everything.
I keep remembering what my Dad said, about how it’s a better use of our money than going to the casino.
We’re gambling all right.
I just hope we get the big prize at the end.