I finally summoned the courage and mental focus to speak with my RE to see what was learned from our IVF cycle. It’s been a little over a month since our negative pregnancy test (beta) and I decided I was ready to think about moving forward. Immediately after receiving our negative test results, hubby and I wrote down a list of questions to ask the RE:
- Is there anything we should do differently going forward?
- What is the lack of pregnancy related to? Is it age?
- What about embryo quality?
- Was there anything to report from the luteal phase monitoring?
- Was the uterine lining an issue?
- What about egg quality?
My RE was pleased with this cycle for someone my age and hormonal levels. I knew she would recommend another IVF cycle for us and this is what she said:
- She was pleased with the follicle count and number of healthy embryos going into transfer
- Embryo quality and uterine lining both good
- Semen sample was very good, ICSI not necessary
- Luteal phase blood work showed slightly low estrogen levels
She explained since none of the embryos implanted (we transferred 3), the reason is most likely due to egg quality; and something must have been faulty genetically. She was encouraging though, stating despite my low ovarian reserve; that in itself does not mean there aren’t any good quality eggs. Moving into the 2nd IVF cycle, she would make the following changes and recommendations:
- Add Clomid to stimulate my own FSH to find better quality eggs
- Add assisted hatching due to the thicker egg shell
- Add Estrogen patch 2 days post transfer
She also reminded me that time is not on the side of aging women in general (not just me) and that I shouldn’t wait till the new year to start the 2nd cycle. DARN ovarian reserve!!!
14 days after our 3 embryos were transferred, the news that our first IVF cycle was a failure begins to sink in. I learned the news on Friday afternoon that our beta test was negative. Earlier in the day, I was feeling hopeful that all our hard work and endurance in this whole lengthy process would turn out fruitful. When I heard the nurse apologize and say “it’s negative”, I went into an immediate state of shock. I don’t even think I was registering in my heart the results. I understood enough to call my husband with the news, but only today is when my heart begins to work pass the initial phase of shock in this whole loss. Success is not to be realized today.
I admit to feeling pretty sad today and not wanting to even blog, work on any projects or even eat for that matter. My heart just feels as if it’s starting to lose hope and the fear of never being a mom is sinking into my head. I mean, I feel we did everything right, and worked so hard every day to eat right, take care of myself, go to acupuncture, go to the gym, go to the doctor appointments, get enough sleep, take my supplements, do the injections, do the monitoring, go through retrieval and transfer, all just to hear it didn’t give us what we hoped. So much time and energy both my husband and I had put into this cycle. It just breaks my heart. Now I also feel as if I have let my husband down; that in some way I am taking away his chance to be a father. Not only am I sad, I have guilt as well.
After having gone through this process of hard work, pain and perseverance, the level of disappointment, sadness and stress, I can’t even place with words, what I am feeling.
So now I am in what is called the 2 week wait, after my IVF transfer. Since the IVF retrieval, I have been quite sore in my lower abdomen that I have been taking acetaminophen 750mg (Extra Strength Tylenol) throughout the day. Not only does my lower abdomen hurt, it is bloated as well. One would think I was pregnant now! I have read what causes this discomfort and bloating post retrieval is, the multiple follicles that were there in the ovaries, are now empty spaces. These empty spaces fill up with fluid again, contributing to the pain and swelling.
In this 2 week wait period, I have also started Progesterone shots in my backside. These don’t hurt when I am getting them, however, my backside hurts pretty bad the next day after. My hubby rotates the injection sites but I feel so sore that it hurts to even walk. You really want to do nothing after the retrieval/ transfer process except find a good position to relax in! And even this is challenging!
My dear hubby has been doing a good job playing the role of nurse, I must say. He has been really active every night when it is time to give me the injection. In previous IUI cycles, I was the one to give myself the injections but I decided because in IVF, there are so many injections to administer, I decided to have hubby give most of them! I think psychologically, this is kinder on me. There’s one thing about giving injections to someone else, but I find it harder to give injections to yourself. But that’s just me. If you can, I would definitely recommend having someone else give the injections to you. Hubby has prepared and administered 90% of all the subcutaneous as well as intramuscular injections this IVF cycle. Honey, you’re amazing. As far as the Progesterone shots go, I am receiving 1cc of Progesterone in Sesame oil. Now I have to wait 2 weeks before the blood HCG test. Wish us luck. We are seriously hoping for some baby dust.
IVF Transfer day apparently is not as a big to do as IVF Retrieval. There’s no “No Eating after midnight”, or need for admission to the hospital. No twilight sleep, not even a pain killer necessary. This was a relief for me because the retrieval process was definitely more intense although un -eventful, the IVF retrieval did pose some anxiety for me.
So on the morning of my IVF transfer, I head into a session of acupuncture with my acupuncturist, Dr. Hsu. He’s been absolutely wonderful treating me with acupuncture and herbs for the past year. He said more importantly is receiving acupuncture prior to the transfer. At this session however, instead of the usual needle points, he used points on my feet, lower extremities and inner wrists. The best part of this was receiving almost 50 minutes of treatment. I felt so relaxed by the time I arrived at the center, I was really wanting sleep.
So after about an hour of waiting, I get called into the same waiting area just outside the OR to sit. Instead of emptying my bladder like last time, the doctors ask that I have a full bladder! Can you imagine trying to balance drinking and running to the bathroom??! Since I didn’t know the exact time I was going in, I decided to sip on water and go to the bathroom, only to empty half of my bladder! Can you imagine my distress? I have one of those bladders where I don’t know I have to go until I really have to go!
ANYWAYS, I walk myself into the OR suite again and meet the team. After being positioned on the table on my back, with legs in stirrup position, the assisting doctor shows me the lining through ultrasound on my lower abdomen. As the table tilts my head back lower than my knees, the doctor explains how he will do a mock transfer first as a test, then transfer my 3 embryos. Yeah!!!! So I watch this on the computer monitor, the room is quite dark except for the spotlight, on me of course. I watch as the 3 little embryos jumped onto the uterine lining. That was quite something to watch. In my mind, I am rooting for them,”go little guys go.”Overall, the procedure was no more than 15 minutes and quite painless. They push me into the recovery room where I lay down for another 25 minutes. I show my husband the photo of our 3 little embryos. “C’mon little ones, stay with me.”
Day 13: Bloods, Ultrasound w. Dr. G. Results: Right ovary w. 1 good follicle 18.6mm, Left ovary w. 4 follicles still > 10mm. Retrieval in 2-3 days. Monitoring going well. Continue Gonal f 300 IU, Menopur 150 IU, Cetrotide x 1 cartridge. Injections to RLQ abdomen.
Day 14: Bloods, Ultrasound w. Dr. K. Results: Inject 10,000 units of HcG in my Right buttock! I stop all other meds.
Day 15: Pre-op visit at the center to sign IVF retrieval consents, do blood work and ultrasound before retrieval the next day. I go home and call the Admitting office at the hospital to confirm insurance info and realize the hospital fee is not covered. I cough up $1000.
Day 16: IVF Retrieval day finally here! I haven’t eaten since midnight last night; I arrive at my given time with hubby. Check-in, change and undress into hospital garb. Hubby goes to deliver his fresh sperm sample. My vital signs were taken first, then IV placement and waiting for about 1 hour. I am asked to empty my bladder before walking into the OR suite. I meet the IVF team and the doctors. Before I could even think about what was about to happen, the Anesthesiologist introduces herself and the ceiling starts to get blurry. I wake up in the Recovery room and my nurse is having me swallow some Extra Strength Tylenol, 975 mg to be exact for pain. I regain some more clarity and see my husband there next to my bed. I am given my discharge instructions, have some crackers, juice, get dressed and go. Today, I start a 4 day course of Medrol 16mg and Azithromycin (2 pills). Tomorrow, we are to receive a phone call with our retrieval results!
Day 17: From the retrieval, 8 follicles were removed, 1 immature, 1 did not fertilize and 6 FERTILIZED without ICSI! Woo hoo! What a sigh of relief. There ARE good quality eggs left within me after all! Needless to say, hubby and I were very happy with our news. Progesterone shots start tonight x 2 weeks. Transfer day is 3 days after retrieval. I hope they make it! I hope they make it! I hope they make it!