Category Archives: IVF

All in

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.”

So.

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.

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Filed under 2.0 FET #2, 2.0 IVF, A matter of faith, Anxiety Overload, Emotions, IVF, PhD, Second Thoughts

First steps to starting again

This afternoon I had an appointment with my f/s.

It was a bit weird to be there in the clinic, outside of regular cycle monitoring hours, showing the nurses and admin assistants my photos of E. I found myself paying attention to the toys set out for visiting children- toys I never allowed myself to look at when I was here BEFORE, and toys that I hope I won’t have reason to use since I really really really don’t want to be THAT woman who takes her first kid to the fertility clinic so she can rub salt in the wounds of all those who are still waiting. But it could happen- Q.’s schedule next year won’t be as flexible, and if I have to bring E. with me, I will.

Anyway, my f/s was really happy to see me and took down some details about E’s birth. He is still funny: “Does E. look like your husband?” “Yes, especially when he was younger.” “Oh good. We got the right sperm then!”

We talked about timings for 2.0, and I explained that we were going to be away for four months and wanted to be ready to do a FET as soon as we got back in late August.

The good news was he only wants Q. and I to update our bloodwork within six months of the FET (so we’ll do that in April before we go). No HSG repeat. No laparoscopy. Hurrah!

He sent me off with a package of birth control pills to take my last month in the UK to bring on a period before the FET. I still find it hugely ironic that I need to take birth control pills in order to give myself the best shot at getting pregnant. I guess I will find a way to get a doctor in the UK to give me a pregnancy blood test before starting the pills just to make sure some miracle conception hasn’t taken place (ha).

And while I was tempted to throw caution to the wind and do a FET this spring (since quite a number of the mamas on my online birth club are now pregnant again and my uterus is twitching something fierce), reason did prevail in the end. I don’t want to be pregnant in the UK. I’d rather be here, with my midwives. It’s not that I don’t think I’d get good care, but I think it’s just another layer of complications I really don’t need given I am meant to be selfish while we are overseas and go hell for leather on the dissertation.

It was kind of nice to be there, in a way. Nice to be able to start to think about the possibility of another baby. Nice to know that Q. and I have survived the crazy of new parenthood and want to do it again.

Being in the clinic felt 100% different this time around. I don’t know if that feeling will stay once we start cycling again, but I’m holding on to it for now.

One thing I couldn’t help noticing, though, was just how freakin’ big my chart was. I think I blogged about this at one point. How when I first started there I would stare at the big charts and the women attached to them and wonder why they had such big charts and what was so wrong. And then one day I realized that mine was the biggest chart in the stack for ultrasounds. And then it was the biggest again. And again. And I realized that all those women in the waiting room with me were now staring at ME and wondering what was wrong.

My chart is still freakin’ big.

My god I am grateful for E. I teared up in the clinic when I saw my f/s. I’m tearing up now remembering it.  Those men and women changed our lives in the best possible way.

I hope so much they can change our lives again in the fall.

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Filed under Emotions, FET, IVF, Second Thoughts

How things change…

A year ago today, I woke up and cuddled with Q. for a while. I probably showered. I know I ate breakfast. And then I headed downtown to the clinic to draw blood to confirm that our IVF cycle had failed, and that I was not pregnant. Again.

It was a Saturday. On Tuesday I’d used the first of my dollar store pregnancy tests. It was negative. I hadn’t told Q. I was testing, and I kept the results to myself. On Thursday I tested again. Still negative. We’d been told to come into the clinic 10-12 days after the transfer for the beta. Thursday was 10 days. We decided we’d wait until Saturday to get the final word. I remember apologizing to Q. on Thursday, huddled up next to him, despondent that my body had failed us and our two perfect little blastocysts. Again.

Friday we got sushi (vegetarian). I carried a whole bunch of groceries home. I may have even eaten runny cheese. I did keep taking all my medications (and my goodness were there ever a lot of them), including the PIO shots that Q. had to give me, and the fragmin shots that covered my stomach in bruises. I swallowed all my pills.

I don’t have any memory of the actual trip to the clinic, or the blood draw. It blurs in my mind with all the other trips, all the other blood draws from the previous cycles. I do remember wondering what to do next. We had two frozen blastocysts, and I knew that we’d have to attempt a FET or two at some point, but I was worn out. I’d been ready to quit before that IVF cycle. I went through it for Q. I never had much hope.

I don’t really remember what we were doing that Saturday. Probably reading the paper after having been to our farmer’s market- that was our usual pattern. Q. was probably working, as he was upstairs in his study when the phone rang. We didn’t have a functioning phone on the main level of the house at that point, and I was downstairs, so I told him to answer it, even though I think we both knew it was the clinic. Calling to confirm what we already knew.

I could only hear Q.’s end of the conversation, but I will never, never forget how it went:

Q.: “Hello?…Yes, this is he…What?…It’s positive?…But we tested and it was negative!”

At that point I ran up the stairs and bodily grabbed the phone from Q. I made the nurse, one of my favourites, tell me the news. I made her tell me the beta number. It was 232. “That’s a good number, isn’t it?” I managed to choke out, between my tears. She assured me that it was, and told me to come back in two days to test it again. I hung up the phone, and sat in the chair in Q.’s study in shock. Q. sat in his computer chair and looked at me. We were speechless for a while, and then I started to cry.

A year ago today I found out that I was pregnant. Pregnant with the embryo who was going to become our E. And even though I then spent much of the pregnancy worried sick that something would go wrong, I will never ever forget how I felt in that first moment of mad disbelief that finally, finally it had worked.

And now I look at my gorgeous, growing son, and I can’t imagine our lives without him.

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Filed under Baby, IVF, ttc

IVF #2- 12dp5dt- Well, I’ll be damned

So here’s the thing. At our transfer the f/s said we should come back for the beta 10-12 days later. Today is 12 days, so Q. and I planned that we should test at home on Thursday (10 days) just to see where we were at.

That test was a clear bfn, which fit with how I was generally feeling about the whole thing. So we pretty much gave up hope. We got a touch cavalier in the last couple of days- we ate vegetarian sushi last night, and this morning I had a mug of tea with caffeine in it. And then I went and did the groceries (including brie and af supplies, ’cause, you know, I wasn’t pregnant) and CARRIED them home. Mostly in a backpack, and the shop is only 500 metres from our house, but in retrospect this was a stupid move.

And the reason it was so stupid is that the clinic called at lunchtime (which lends weight to my theory of how they order their calls) and I’m PREGNANT!

Beta was 232, which at 17dpo, I think is a good number without being an outrageously high one. Not that I know anything about beta numbers. I have to go back in again on Monday.

So now I have two days in which  I need to try to NOT freak out that I’ve just fucked everything up with my grocery lunacy. I haven’t, right? If the beta goes wrong on Monday there could be loads of other reasons other than my determination to carry the milk, right? People do stupid things all the time and still get to be pregnant, yes?

Things I have learned from this, however:

1. Dollar store pregnancy tests are not worth the $1.25 they cost.

2. Act pregnant until you get the final call saying you are not pregnant, no matter how convinced you are and what the tests say.

3. The insane dizziness/head rushes might not be entirely a result of the blood thinners.

4. When in doubt, look at lesson #2 again.

I think Q. and I are in total shock.

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Filed under Emotions, IVF, Pregnancy, TWW

IVF#2- 7dp5dt- The Week that Drags

This weekend was hard.

My body finally decided it wasn’t that big of a fan of the ethyl oleate solution which the progesterone is in. At first I just had two itchy areas, one on each side of my butt. I didn’t realize they were there until I found myself wondering why I kept absentmindedly scratching my butt while reading, talking to Q., staring in the cupboard to see if there’s a good snack on offer, etc. Then, of course, I felt the overwhelming urge to grab my crotch and spit. I mean, why give up the Major League baseball player impersonation when you’re just getting going?

Anyway, yesterday Q’s daily injection had by the evening become a red welt the size of a nickel. So now I’m waiting to see what today’s does.

My Frag.min bruises have started up. I’ve only got one nasty blood blister bruise thus far, but I’m now sporting five distinct yellow-green blotches on my stomach. The rest of my stomach is squishy (I’m not so good with the ab workouts). The bruises are really firm to the touch. I’m trying to go around them with each injection, but I’m starting to run out of space.

I felt all weekend like af was trying to break through. I always have a day before af comes where I just feel generally out of sorts- lots of low level cramping in the uterus, and a general heaviness in my abdomen, coupled with emotional instability (i.e., I will cry at anything). This weekend felt a lot like that. I found myself short-tempered for the first time since the retrieval, and had to really work at not snapping at Q. I’m still getting terrible head rushes- I lose my vision entirely every time I get up from the couch. So I think my blood pressure must be really low- probably from the damn blood thinners.

Mostly I was just really frustrated. I wanted to go for a run, but I’m not running until we know the result. I wanted to work in our garden, but that would count as too much exertion. I desperately wanted to clean our house, as the dust bunnies on the stairs were driving me crazy (wooden stairs + two cats +my propensity to shed +prevailing winds in the house that seem to deposit everything on the stairs = DUST BUNNIES ATTACK!). But we agreed that I wasn’t doing any intensive housework during this wait.

Q. does clean the house, but he has the biggest deadline of his career this Friday, so he spent the entire weekend working. I did his laundry for him, and bought him two-bite brownies, and tried to just be supportive without getting in his way. Asking him to take on the dust bunnies would have been cruel.

So I went for a couple of walks (and got dizzy on one of them), and read a couple of books, and read the newspaper and did the Saturday puzzles (two KenKens, one Sudoku and a crossword) as I always do. And inwardly I seethed with frustration. That Q. worked non-stop through another weekend (even though I know he had no choice, and that he absolutely hates how hard he’s having to work right now). That I couldn’t go and run. That I didn’t have girl friends in the city whom I could just ring up and see if they were free for coffee that afternoon, because everyone is so busy we have to plan our socializing ages in advance. I was even furious by the end of the weekend that I couldn’t vacuum (and let’s face it, normally I’m not exactly jumping up and down with joy at the thought).

It is interminable, this waiting. And no matter how many times I go through it, how many times I try to build up my defences, how many times we get a negative result, a small, stupid part of my brain insists on holding out hope that THIS time things will be different, and that therefore a good way of spending time when lying on the couch is thinking of different ways to tell people that we’re pregnant. Yesterday I caught myself thinking about how I’d like to organize my BABY SHOWER, for crying out loud. Not helpful. Every time I have a thought like that, I try to beat it down with a really big stick back into the deep, black, secretive, inner workings of my brain. But they just keep popping back up.

Bring on Saturday.

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Filed under Emotions, IVF, TWW

IVF #2- 4dp5dt

A typical morning.

Me: Gosh, here I am typing/reading/whatever after breakfast and I don’t think I feel cramping anymore. I don’t think my bbs are sore anymore, either. Maybe I’ll just sit quietly for a while and pay attention to my body.

Brain: Crap. Crap! She’s sitting quietly and paying attention again.

Uterus and BBs: Again?! How annoying.

Brain: Well, we’ve got to do something about it. We can’t have her sitting quietly, paying attention to her body for the whole day. We’ve got things to do!  What have you got for us, uterus?

Uterus: I suppose I could try to rustle up some cramping. I wasn’t planning on any today though. It’s a bit of pain.

Brain: Nope, cramping is good. BBs? What about you?

BBs: I suppose we could hurt for a while. And then we could do that thing where when she takes her shower we look super dark, but it turns out to just be the lighting in the bathroom when she gets out and looks in the mirror.

Brain: Excellent, excellent! That’s a classic.

Stomach (chiming in): I could aim for some nausea.

Brain: Yes! Nausea is always a good one. And I’ll see if we can’t manage more dizziness and head rushes- she knows they’re from the drugs as she’s had them since the retrieval, but she still notices when they happen. Let’s put this plan into action, team!

Uterus: cramp cramp cramp

BBs: twinge, ache, pinch

Stomach: churn

Me: I hate you all.

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Filed under Emotions, IVF, TWW

IVF#2- 2dp5dt

Two of the younger nurses at the clinic have set up a phone line and email address for cycle monitoring patients. You never actually get a person, but they listen to your message and then they actually call you back, or answer the email. Usually that same day! This is amazing, and is the best idea ever, as my clinic is so busy it is usually really difficult to get anyone to call you back. Also the answering machine system is hideously complicated, so there is one message box for my f/s (which is a black hole, as messages never seem to reach him), and then each nurse has her own box, so you have to guess which nurse is a) working that day and b) feeling charitable enough to take pity on you and call you back.

And, since I don’t like calling people on the phone anyway, having an email address is perfect.

All that to say that one of the nurses got back to me about the blasts. The report isn’t in my chart yet, but she did say that they were frozen separately, as my clinic’s usual policy is only to defrost and transfer one blast at a time given they are higher quality and more likely to lead to a pregnancy. And she said that getting four blasts from 17 embryos was a perfectly normal result. She also promised to tell me about their quality once the report turned up. So good news all round, and Serenity is absolutely right in thinking that I always focus on the NEXT cycle. I don’t remember when I stopped thinking about the current cycle- possibly after the first FET, which was the chemical. But this time round I’ve been more concerned about my snowbabies than the ones (hopefully) tucked up in my womb. I think that’s partially a self-preservation matter, and partially just a reflection of our success to date. Fool me once and all that…

I think I’m officially on the mend. Not too much bloat, and no ovarian or abdominal pain. A touch of cramping still, but that’s not unexpected, and I’m still getting my dizziness/head rushes, so one of the meds has dropped my blood pressure. I’m back to eating my usual diet, except I’m still substituting Gat.orade for water and will probably continue to do so for a couple more days (even though I am disgusted by it), since tonight is my last Dost.inex and I want to make sure it wasn’t the only thing holding back the OHSS.

The best news is that I am not crazy like I was in December. Q. agrees with me that I am in a totally different head space. I don’t know if it was because I was in comps, or because I thought it could be our last shot, or because I had to take Pred.nisone twice a day and it gave me terrible insomnia and heart palpitations (I’m guessing it was probably the meds). Anyway, I’m still tired, of course, and emotionally drained, and frustrated with how flabby and out of shape I feel, but I am still ultimately me, which is a nice change.

Randomly came across a Ben Elton book at the library yesterday called Inconceivable– I had no idea he’d written a novel about infertility (it also got turned into a film called Maybe Baby in 2000 with Hugh Laurie). So I picked it up and zoomed through it- the ending got a bit strange, but overall it was a decent read. I couldn’t figure out if some of the gross errors in treatment and understanding were because Elton didn’t do his research correctly, or because the book was written in the late 90s and things have significantly changed. (Things like claiming Day 3 embryos had three-cells, and that clinics didn’t recommend freezing embryos, and that trying for five years to have a baby was not too long to go before seeking treatment. With that said, he was spot on with a lot of it, and there is a hilarious description of when the husband has to provide a sperm sample).

Anyway, one of the best things that came from it is it turns out Q. wants to read it after me. He is a big Ben Elton fan (I have read and liked a couple of his novels but really disliked others). So it will be interesting to get his perspective on it, seeing as half the story is told from the elusive male point-of-view. We were wondering if Elton himself had any experience with infertility- he and his wife do have twins, but I guess people still manage to have twins without medical intervention these days (my sister has a friend who had fraternal twins unexpectedly, no family history, and I was stunned that a fertility clinic was not involved!). Since Q., like most men, is not exactly big on sharing his feelings, I’ll be interested to see if he identifies with the husband in the novel.

There was one point where the wife was saying how much she appreciated her husband giving her the injections and how she didn’t know if she’d be able to give him needles, and how he never complained but just got on and did it. That reminded me just how much I love Q. When we said our marriage vows, we said the traditional words, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, but I don’t think either of us thought those words would include while sticking needles in your wife’s derriere or calmly cooking dinner while she alternates crying and yelling for no apparent reason. But Q. just gets on with it. This whole process has to be hard on him as well, but he never complains, never makes me feel guilty for the days when I wallow in self-pity. I only see how hard the last week has been for him in the relief he’s showing now that I’m feeling better. It hurts him when I’m in pain.

When we do the injections, stims or trigger or progesterone, we have a routine. Q. sits on the side of the bed, and I lean against the wall so I can take my weight off of the about-to-be-jabbed side. And right before he tells me to take a deep breath, he always puts his feet on top of mine. It’s really comforting, almost like a hug, and it makes me feel like we’re doing this together. I told him the other day how much I liked that he did that, and it turns out he’s been doing it completely unconsciously (through both FETs and now this IVF).  He had no idea he was doing it. But I think, even if he wasn’t aware of it, he was trying to find a way to reassure me, to show me that he loves me, even as he had to cause me pain.

Our babies are going to be so damn lucky to have Q. as their father. I wish they’d just hurry up and get here.

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Filed under Emotions, IVF, Medications, TWW