So yesterday marked another confusing and frustrating day in this IVF journey. I had an appointment with my specialist yesterday afternoon to see where my lining was at and if we will be able to go ahead with a transfer next week. I had been on the highest dose of Progynova (Oestrogen) and yet my body was still not responding to it. Apparently 99% of women do and I am in the lucky 1% that doesn’t. Ultimately that means our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycle has been cancelled and I am no closer to being pregnant.
It doesn’t make you feel great when your specialist then phones the head of the IVF clinic to work out what to do next. I appreciate the fact he is trying to do everything he can to help me but you feel pretty shit knowing you are that unusual in your presentation, not even a fertility specialist knows how to help you. After some conversation between the ‘experts’ it was decided the best course of action is another full stimulation cycle. Yes that means another full cycle of injections and egg pick up etc, with slightly different meds to what I have had before. This will not only potentially give us some more embryos to work with but also give us a greater chance of thickening my lining. Apparently Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) when used in conjunction with the Oestrogen patches will give us the best chance of a pregnancy. The specialist kindly offered to do the cycle at a cheaper rate given our situation and not being able to do a FET.
I really don’t know how to feel at this point. I had a cry and I think it was just out of frustration more than anything. It feels unfair that everyone around me seems to be falling pregnant so easily, plus celebrities announcing pregnancies every second day. Including Serena Williams yesterday, who somehow managed to win the Australian Open while pregnant and yet I’m taking all these drugs, doing everything right and my body still won’t come to the party. I feel thankful for the opportunity to do another stim cycle at a reduced cost as this will be a huge help, and thankful for the possibility to perhaps collect a few more eggs and hopefully embryos along the way. But all of these things still keep pushing back my dreams and knowing we have another Mothers Day coming up in May and we are still not pregnant just makes it all a bit harder to take.
18 months into this journey and I know many people have battled a lot longer than we have, but I could have had 2 full pregnancies in that time too! My mind constantly flips backwards and forwards between thankful we live in a time and place where IVF is available and we are fortunate enough to afford it. And so frustrated that we have to do it in the first place. I so wish we never had to be here and this blog never had to exist. If things went the way we had planned we should be holding our son or daughter by now. Even writing those words feels strange. All we get to think about at this stage is eggs and embryos.
The ride continues. I’m sure one day I will look back on this and be holding a son or daughter, explaining to them how much love and hard work bought them into the world. But for the moment I am sad and frustrated that they are still just a hope in their parent’s hearts.
So things have been travelling pretty slowly over the last week or two. Frustratingly slowly. I first saw to specialist on Monday the 10th of April to plan our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). I was prescribed Progynova to help thicken my lining and had to initially start on a low dose and slowly increase it during the cycle. We then had a review scan on Saturday morning (Easter Saturday) and my lining showed it was at 5mm thick. Still far too thin to consider a transfer – we need to get it to 8mm. At this point the Progynova dosage was further increase to 6 tablets a day + the addition of an Estrogen patch which i have to change every 4 days. Then review again on the Tuesday after Easter.
It was nice to have a few days break over Easter to rest from work and spend some time with my Husband and dog. I also managed to paint our old 60’s fireplace to bring it into the 21st century which was nice. We also had a few days down at my parent’s place celebrating Easter and my Dad’s birthday with a day of sailing out on the bay. While there was no wind and we mainly motored around it was nice to feel the sun on my skin and not be thinking about IVF. It was nice to do something ‘normal’ that didn’t resolved around appointments and medications.
Yesterday morning I had a review with the specialist and kept my fingers crossed as I was getting changed for the Ultrasound that it would be good news. Sadly my body was still not really responding to the increased dose and my lining was still only 5.3mm. I felt very flat afterwards and have continued to do so since. I feel like my body is letting me down not only with this whole infertility battle but also with the fact it just doesn’t respond to the drugs the way many people do. So now I am up to 10 Progynova pills per day + 100mg of baby aspirin + the Estrogen patches. I have been pretty emotional today and I’m not sure if its the medications or just me struggling with this whole process. Everyone seems to be getting pregnant and having babies around me and it’s just not happening for us, even with all the help in the world. I’m torn between wanting to give my body a break after this round (assuming it won’t be successful) and wanting to dive straight into another full stim cycle to this process doesn’t keep dragging out any further.
Back to the specialist tomorrow and I’m really hoping we are finally seeing some improvements. I just need something to give me a little bit of hope that we might still get to be parents one day.
So it has been a little longer than I had intended between posts, however so much has happened so quickly it felt silly to update when the information we were getting was changing so quickly.
To cut a long story short, the transfer was cancelled last Saturday as we had 3 good quality 8 cell day 3 embryos. The plan was to wait until my lining was improved and then do a Frozen Embryo Transfer when the time is right. This is where it all got confusing as we had to decide what to do with the 3 embryos. Option 1 was freeze all three as they were, option 2 was allow them to continue to grow in the lab and hopefully become blastocysts, which are the best quality to transfer, or option 3 was to do a mix of the two options. While blastocysts have higher pregnancy rates, only one in 4 fertilized embryos will make it to that point.
We found this to be a really difficult decision! It was like choosing what to do with your children in a really weird way? The embryologist kept throwing all these figures and chances of each outcome and it all got really confusing. Luckily we were able to speak to our specialist and he helped us to make the decision. He suggested that we freeze one embryo at day 3 as a ‘back up plan’ and then allow the other 2 to continue growing in the lab. This would hopefully give them a chance to try and achieve blastocyst stage. I was comfortable with this and felt like we were hedging our bets and giving our little embryos the best chance.
The other advantage to not doing a transfer is having a break from meds! On Saturday night I was able to enjoy a glass of wine and it felt so nice to be ‘normal’. The pressure was off and I could be me again for a while, rather than a pill popping pin cushion drugged up on hormones. I actually felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Come Monday morning and I received a call from the lab to say one of our 2 embryos was growing nicely and would likely achieve blastocyst, but the other one had slowed down and was less likely. I still felt ok with this as one out of the 2 is a pretty good result. Unfortunately everything came crashing down on Wednesday morning when the lab called to say neither of them had made it. I think this hit me as a real shock as I was so relaxed and confident that we had one strong little fighter. To know we were back to just one shot at this was pretty devastating. I felt like we had put all this time and energy and money and pain into nothing.
I took the afternoon off work and wallowed in self pity, crying until I had no tears left. Luckily I was seeing the acupuncturist that night who was able to put things into perspective. She explained that some embryos simply don’t like being in the lab. Its not a reflection of my egg quality or that I am a failure at this IVF process. Some embryos simply do better in you than in a petri dish. I guess if I am faced with the same decision again I am more likely to freeze all of the embryos, but you don’t know unless you try hey?
So back to see the specialist on Monday and come up with a plan to thicken my lining and transfer this last little guy. I can only hope this is the one but if its not meant to be we will just have to regroup and throw ourselves into this crazy process all over again.