IVF #3 – Part One

In early May 2006 I began my 3rd try at IVF. To say that I was not optimistic is a very great understatement. In fact, I had completely lost hope. What we thought would be a quick means to an end turned out to be a living nightmare. Suddenly we had to confront not only the fact that we had really serious fertility problems but the idea that this might not work for us – EVER. I doubt many of you remember me going through this – because I basically went into a cave and shut everyone out. My wost fears were coming true. You see, I’ve only really and truly wanted two things in my life – one was to be married to my husband and the other was to have his children. Getting that man to the altar was exhausting enough – but IVF was threatening to do me in for good.

I started the cycle reluctantly – I had already made an appointment with a new RE at Cornell and was tempted to wait out the month and give my body a break but C urged me on. I’d been reading a lot about PGD and it seemed from what I read that the process might be damaging our embryos. This time I decided that I wanted to do a blastocyst cycle. Typically an embryo is transferred back to the woman’s uterus on day 3 of its little life. A blastocycst transfer takes place on day 5 when the embryo has divided into hundreds of cells. The theory behind transferring on day 5 is that most abnormal embryos will not reach the blastocyst stage. Transferring a blastocyst gives you a much greater chance of pregnancy. Most doctors will not transfer more than 2 grade A blastocysts for fear of multiples.

On May 15, 2006 10 eggs were retrieved. C and I had a running argument about ICSI. He didn’t think we needed it. He was convinced that his sperm was just fine and that 3K extra to spend on the embryologist hand picking and force fertilizing the eggs was a huge waste of money. He convinced our RE to give him an egg or two that would be placed in a dish with his sperm to fertilize naturally. When I found out that they had retrieved 10 eggs I agreed to give him 2 eggs for his experiment. The remaining 8 were all ICSI’ed and of those 7 fertilized. The two eggs involved in Chris’s experiment did not fertilize which is something we still don’t like to talk about to this day.

On Saturday May 20th 4 grade A blastocysts were placed in my uterus. I returned to our home upstate in Pawling, NY that afternoon. Most of my friends from high school were visiting that weekend and I remember not being allowed to walk up stairs or lift anything lighter than a glass of water.

The days following were long and boring. I was anxious and negative. The doctor had told me that the blastocyst would implant sometime between Saturday and Tuesday. On Monday I went to the acupuncturist – a lovely Chinese man name Dr. Wan Yu. He felt my pulse and told me that he was encouraged by its strength but he was certain that nothing had implanted yet. On Wednesday I had another appointment with him. “I’m sorry, nothing has implanted yet” he told me. I was concerned. “Let me try something”…in went the needles into my ears. About an hour later I began cramping. On Thursday evening I broke down and bought some First Response Early Result pregnancy tests. The result was negative. I told C and he was a bit deflated. “We’ll try again next month”…. I went to bed that night with a heavy heart.

The next morning I decided to try just one more test before I went to work. The result was negative, as expected. I called C to tell him that the cycle was officially over. As we were talking I glanced at the test and saw a very faint line. So faint that I thought perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. “Don’t get your hopes up, honey”, C advised.

I quickly got dressed, grabbed the pregnancy test and got in a taxi to go to work. When I boss showed up I pulled him aside and showed him the test. “Yep, you’re pregnant” he told me. My friend Cheryl sat there shaking her head at me…”I can’t believe you just pulled out something you peed on and showed it to Rob”.

Finally I’d found a small glimmer of hope….but as you will soon find out, it didn’t last very long.

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IVF #2

In late March we began our second IVF. Protocol stayed the same. I responded exactly the same way. 8 eggs retrieved, 7 fertilized with ICSI.

This time I had little patience. My mind had been spinning for weeks with horrible thoughts of never having my own child. My head hurt from the lupron, my ovaries became heavy and enlarged…and the money flew right out of our bank account. All of these things made me a downright miserable person to be around….

My mood improved when I received the results …there were three normals. I was happy…and relieved. I could produce normal embryos after all! There was still hope! Two boys and one girl were waiting in a dish and two days later they all went back to mama. I was hopeful but one extremely bad experience seemed to weigh over me. I couldn’t shake the feeling of impending doom.

A few days later…my in laws arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-laws. C and I have spent much time with them before we were engaged traveling to all manner of sunny spots, drinking margaritas and having wonderful chats over dinner. My mother in law is the kind of mother that most of us wish we had. She loves her children in a way that is so different than any American mother – she is kind and accepting and even when she doesn’t approve she holds her tongue and manages to keep a smile on her face. My father in law…well….he is the king of inappropriate comments. I normally don’t mind his biting comments – because, as many of you know, I can give it right back…. but this was too fragile of a time for me. There was too much at stake. If he said the wrong thing with me on lupron – all hell would break loose. They were there with us when I received the news – I was pregnant…but my beta HCG level was 4. Basically anything under 5 is negative but, as my doctor said, embryos have to start somewhere. Two days later it had disappeared and I was devastated. I quickly booked another IVF to start straight away and scheduled an appointment at Cornell (the mother of all infertility clinics) in case the cycle failed. By this time I had lost faith in my RE and in my own body. I remember planting sunflower seeds at our new house upstate and when they failed to grow, I sobbed. My father in law – he tried to console me, I suppose by saying “you have a new home, you have C as your husband – look around you at this beautiful home – why do you want to be miserable?”. That made me so angry – I stormed out of the house, skidded the truck out of the driveway and sped off to buy a book entitled, “how to deal with difficult people”. We got over it and he apologized but I’m fairly sure that he still doesn’t understand why I was so offended and upset at his comment. I can deal with him telling me I have a fat ass (which he does!) but telling me to be happy at the most unhappy time of my life? That I couldn’t do.