Thursday, August 5, 2010

Once Upon a Time: My IVF Story

Last time I talked about the various benchmarks that we are expected to meet in order to qualify the month and a half of injections and emotional distress as a "successful" cycle. In truth, many of these gradings, ratings and labelings are nothing but assumptions. I think there's no better way than to share with you my final roller-coaster/less-than-perfect IVF cycle to show you how really, you never know when it's finally your time.

After 4 IUIs and 3 IVFs, we packed our bags and headed to Denver. We figured we couldn't do this much long and we put all of our eggs (and remaining funds) in one basket and hoped for the best. As I was cycling out of town, I went in for an initial monitoring at my local NY clinic after 4 days of stims. Bad news: I only have 3-4 follicles. To put my disappointment into perspective, I used to produce about 20-30 eggs each cycle. Obviously, I almost decided not to bother flying out (with my dog, nonetheless!) to Denver, but after much convincing from the Denver nurses, I reluctantly found myself on a date with Wandy. Ok, so a little improvement, now I had 8. Not worth a happy-dance, but I'll take it.

I finally unpack and settle into what became my home for 2 weeks. I go in for a couple more monitorings  only to find out that my lining isn't cooperating, as usual. It's been an issue for me through all of my cycles, but I thought I'd have better results this time since I was popping blue-pills where no pill should go. But, to no avail, my lining was around 5mm. The nurse informs me they might have to freeze my embryos and do a follow-up frozen cycle to complete this one. Cut to me in tears; scratch that, sobbing as I pick up DH from the airport.

Well, maybe DH was my lucky charm, but at my next monitoring, my lining had grown a little more (6.5mm). When I think about it today, I wonder if the nurse was just trying to make me feel better. Who knows. Anyways, so we're moving right along and now, surprise, it looks like I'm about to prematurely ovulate. Awesome! Rush to the drug store, get yet another over-priced shot to stop the ovulation. Three days later, it's retrieval day. I feel like I'm finally being treated humanely -- private nurse, private room, hot towels for my little veins... 10, 9, 8... Zzzzz.

Waiting for the egg and embryo counts: 8 eggs, 5 mature, 3 embryos. So, it's a Day3 transfer. I'd never done a Day3 transfer before, because with 30 eggs, the doctors usually had plenty to work with. I sadly assume that this cycle is never going to work, especially when I find out at my transfer that one embryo looks good, another is ok and a third is probably useless. I can tell that the RE is not thrilled with what DH and I have produced (remember, embryo quality validates us), but he tries to remain cheerful nonetheless. I'm sent on my way to bedrest for 2 days with the information that if an embryo hasn't implanted by 7dpo, it probably won't anyway. I'm pampered by my DH and my wonderful mother (who flew all the way from Europe!) but my disappointment is not easy to hide.

Back in NY, I end up having to give my own PIO shots (ouch!), which hurt even more when I'm convinced this cycle is a bust. I keep busy and hopeful by delving into the world of adoption; going about my life, much to my mother's dismay. DH checks in with me from his shoot out in LA to remind me not to give up. Here we are at 12dpo and I start spotting. I call DH, tell him it's over and not to bother  flying across the country to be at my side when I POAS.

It's POAS day and I do what's expected of me (after all, DH flew 6 hours just to be here and will fly back to LA the next day -- I told you guys how amazing he is!). I almost don't even bother looking at the result on the HPT (it has to be BFN, right?) and do a double take when I discover a second line. I was so convinced that the cycle didn't work that I was almost disappointed that it did. I tell DH that it's a faint positive, which probably means the beta is low and therefore, we're done. DH scrambles to find pictures of others' HPTs to prove to me that it's not faint ("Look, this woman had the same faintness and she had twins!"). Sure enough, my beta comes back a 29. Oh, I've been down this road before (chemical pregnancies and an ectopic), this is one of those again.

"This is the first day that you have a chance to start believing in our baby! Are you really going to care he/she started at a 29 when he/she is finally in your arms?" Those were the powerful words from my DH that kept me believing. And today, our son probably has in many ways his father to thank for being alive, because after so many years of failures, I couldn't accept success -- which ever grade, number or label it came in -- when it stared me in the face.

I'm E., your infertility doula, and my story is not an urban legend.


Do I Have to Be a D.I.N.K.? said...

I was just like you for my second positive beta. I didn't believe it at ended in a mc but I should have taken your hubbys advice.

the2weekwait said...

This is a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

Baby bump bound said...

YOUR story is AMAZING and has given me SO much hope!!!! I am so happy for you and I bet you are an amazing mom!!

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