You Can’t Change It (IVF Update)

I am a realist. It’s just who I am to my core. It doesn’t mean that I am negative, but that I like to know every possible way something could go, and what the odds are for each scenario. I also like to have a plan. And a plan B…and C…I do not like to be caught off guard.

There is a huge difference, at least in my head, of knowing what could happen, and actually experiencing it play out in your own life. There was a time, when we first started trying, that I knew there was a possibility there could be an issue, but even as I started to see my OB and my RE I didn’t actually think there would be a problem. Those first few months with the RE, having surgery, getting diagnosed with endometriosis, and experiencing 3 back-to-back failed IUI’s I felt pretty blindsided most of the time. Still with each obstacle or failure I went into the next thing believing that it could be successful. Even though the odds of getting pregnant from and IUI are small it does work for a lot of people, and I fully believed I could be one of them. When it didn’t work out I was disappointed, but not surprised.

When we started fertility treatments I thought we would do 6 IUI’s before moving onto IVF. After the first three failed we made the decision to try one more with injectables. Because the cost was so much higher for an IUI cycle with injectables it didn’t really make sense to try it more than once. I thought, at the time, if that cycle weren’t successful and our next step was IVF, that I would completely breakdown. It had been a long year, changing jobs, my grandpa passing away, and my dad getting sick. When we finally did the IUI, and it failed, I don’t even remember crying. I just felt kind of numb, and went on with life. As much as I wanted it, I couldn’t change the outcome, and the odds were not in our favor.

More than being upset about the cycle failing, I was concerned that I only produced ONE follicle using the more powerful drugs (Gonal F), which was the exact same response I had to taking Femara. During our consult for IVF a few weeks later the doctor assured me that this would not be a concern because I was on such a low dose. For someone my age they expected to get at least 15 eggs.

This is the part where I continue to remind myself that I cannot change the decisions I made, or the way things have played out. If only I had known, right?

We decided to take a year off from treatment. I wasn’t mentally ready to do IVF, and I wanted to be able to pay cash rather than finance the cost. We spent the year (especially me) focusing on improving our health. I lost weight. I purged our home of chemical products. I replaced many plastic products in the kitchen that could be leaching BPA. I changed every single product I put on my body. I started using oils instead of pills when possible. I started acupuncture. I cut a huge amount of sugar out of my diet, learned new REAL food recipes, and as IVF got closer cut out caffeine and alcohol completely. While all of these things are very positive changes and regardless of what happens I will continue to do them for probably the rest of my life, as far as my fertility is concerned, they did not make an impact.

A year later when I walked into the fertility clinic to start IVF, this time excited and ready, I was, again, blindsided by the AMH results and a much lower antral follicle count from the year prior. But I was told by basically everyone that I just needed to be positive. Everything would be fine. I asked the doctor about the result (because she never brought it up to me so I had to ask her about it) and she just told me that it was “kind of low” and she had adjusted my protocol to account for it. The only person that acknowledged that there could be an issue was my nurse, and I honestly really appreciated it. Everyone else, including my husband, just told me to “be positive”.

So I tried to push it out of my head, or at least to the back. I didn’t bring it up anymore because everyone make me feel like I was upset about nothing. I was tired of being told to be positive when I felt that I had a legitimate concern. I knew I couldn’t change what was going to happen, and of course I hope(d) for the best, but I just didn’t understand why no one wanted to admit that, given the information we now had, there could be an issue with the number and quality of the eggs they would be able to retrieve.

The first few days of stims were significantly more difficult for me than the last. I felt pretty crappy and exhausted and I started to feel really full/bloated. And then on Tuesday it all went away. At first I gave my acupuncture credit for feeling so good. My E2 level taken on Tuesday (CD7) was 950 which from what the nurse told me, and what I researched online seemed to be a good number for where I was in stims. Wednesday I started to feel worried because the full feeling I had previously had completely gone away. I actually felt totally normal. I just pushed it out of my mind because I knew if I said something I would be told again, to just “be positive”, and with all of the extra hormones pumping thru my body I might lose my shit.

Thursday I went in for monitoring. I felt a little anxious. I had a hard time sleeping the night before but I was still in a light happy mood. I was sincerely praying for 10 follicles. I thought that seven or eight might be more realistic given my antral follicle count was 10. As soon as she started the ultrasound and went to the right side I started to feel panic. Three follicles. There was another that was about ¼ the size of the three, and one that was so smalls he couldn’t measure it. And then the left side. Two follicles. And another that was too small to measure. So five follicles. The doc also confirmed that they were all mature and that I would trigger that night which was a complete surprise to everyone.

I was honestly shocked. I got dressed and they moved me to another room to wait for the nurse. It took her a while to get everything in order because my retrieval wasn’t expected until next week. I sat there, letting the information sink in. Five. Just Five. I text my husband, and my good friend D who has also done IVF. The nurse and I went over instructions and final medications that needed to be taken, but she had to wait to schedule the exact time until later in the morning. She gave me a hug and told me she would call me later. I called my husband to give him more information about what had transpired, to let him know he would need to find time to clean out the pipes as soon as possible (awkward because it was on a business trip in meetings all day), and to plan what we would do with my stepson on Friday night/Saturday morning since he could not come with us. Our conversation was brief.

I headed into the office and in the 30 minute car ride I could feel the tears welling up. I wasn’t crying because I lost hope or because I thought this was the end. It most definitely is not the end. But after being told so many times to ignore all of the not-so-great things that have happened the past few months in the name of positivity, I needed to acknowledge that this was not good news.

I promise you I totally understand that it only takes one. I am praying that we have one. I know that is 100% possible and I have not given up on that. Two feels like a dream come true.

Tomorrow morning we will go in and see what happens. I know I can’t change it. I can’t control it. I have prayed for it and I have done everything I could do.

For now…To be continued……

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33 thoughts on “You Can’t Change It (IVF Update)

  1. Good luck! It does just take one!

    You did a bang-up job describing the toll of infertility and how much space it takes up in your life. Often, secret space. It’s a very sad and difficult thing, but pursuing ART and keeping the faith and making it all work is, in itself, a brave and trophy-worthy feat.

  2. Praying for you!! These journeys are so deep and personal, and being positive is good, but it doesn’t mean the journey is without pain, grief and disappointment. We are all believing with you!

  3. Oh man, I am so disappointed for you. I’m worried constantly that I’m going to wind up with a similar result from this first IVF. I think the way you cope is really the best thing for it, otherwise you’d be breaking down all the time. I’m the same way. We have to compartmentalize our IF as much as possible to protect ourselves and be able to function. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that those 5 all make it. Good luck!! *hugs*

  4. I get it. All those emotions, all those changes between IVF #1 and #2 and then the deflation of expectations. But, I am hoping the best! Sometimes the best eggs come from the lower responses. Hoping this for you both. Take care!

  5. Oh lady, your story is SO SIMILAR to mine. I’m the same – I researched like crazy, spent six months preparing, and when it came to IVF, was I surprised at my super low AMH levels. Here’s the thing though, everything I did (the diet, the BPA + phthalate avoidance) meant the quality for that round was much, much better than when I hadn’t prepared. Five follicles is heartbreaking if you were hoping for more (sounds like your expectations were set at 15… IVF is great at sending curve balls) and yes, I know you only need one (can I just say that as an aside, I never found that phrase reassuring… Sure, I only need one but I want as many as I can get!) but lady, you’re doing so well, even if it doesn’t feel like it. IVF is hard, and I’m sure you know that from this point, it’s a bit of an emotional uphill marathon. In saying that, it sounds like you have done EVERYTHING you possibly can to give yourself the best chance, and that’s all you can do. Fingers crossed for retrieval, hope it all goes well!! Xx

  6. I can really relate to being numbers-oriented and realist, so I really get your frustration and disappointment. It’s always hard to have ones expectations crushed again and again. I’m really hoping for the best with this cycle, though!! Hugs

  7. I fucking hate it when people tell me during this to be positive -as if I am not I’ll somehow mess up the results. My goal in our 3rd DEIVF attempt coming up is to “stay neutral”. My husband and I are just doing the shots then going back to regular life. Can’t get too emotionally invested, it’s just too hard on my heart and mind, as none of this is a given.

    Glad you didn’t go through with 6 IUIs. Our first doc recommended 3 rounds of Femara/IUI *after* telling me she didn’t think I could get pregnant without an egg donor – WTF! Fucking salespeople so many of them. I did one round of that and one round with my new doctor with gonadotropins and both were negative before going to DEIVF.

    Anyhoo. Hoping, as my husband likes to say, your outcomes exceed your expectations. And if they don’t, know that you have a huge support system out here in blogland and you will survive. This stuff is tough.

      • haha yeah I had to tell my husband to stop saying that everything was going to be okay…I know he was saying it in general, but I told him that everytime he wants to say it to just replace it with “I love you” and it has worked out well 🙂

  8. Oh Sweetie 😦 I so wish I was there to give you a big hug!!! I’m sorry that your body didn’t respond the way you hoped and I’m sorry that your feelings were glossed over. Praying that one of these 5 follicles becomes your take home baby! Love you, Friend!

  9. Your post sounds so much like our IVF experience. I always had a good AFC when we did IUIs, but was shocked when my AFC was only 8 when we started IVF. Our first IVF cycle, my egg quality was so bad that we didn’t even get to fertilization (they retrieved 3 immature eggs). Our second IVF cycle two months later was completely different. They retrieved FIVE eggs, 3 were mature and we had 100% fertilization rate. We transferred all 3 embryos (2 were grade A and the last was grade B) and I am now 16 weeks pregnant with twins at 41. All genetic testing so far has shown these babies are perfect. I know you’ve heard it over and over again, but please, please, please try to stay positive. Miracles do happen. That is the only word we can use to describe these babies. Even our doctors said that. I will be praying for you!

  10. I completely relate. I have bad egg quality/quantity too and it’s hard to be cheery when people reassure you with platitudes. Here’s hoping you get 5 embies for your 5 eggs!

  11. I’m having egg retrieval this Sunday. They only see 3 follicles. Your story gives me hope and I would describe myself the same way. Realistic but hopeful. Best of luck to you.

  12. I get it. You try so hard to be positive bc you know stress and negativity only makes it that much less likely to conceive-or so we’ve been told. Then that BFN shows up on that test and you want to fall apart. That’s currently where I am-just broken. But I hope the best for you! Absolutely no one deserves this torture and I hope yours and your husbands will end soon!

    • I remember the day I wrote this post like it was yesterday. It was one of the most emotional days of my life. And even with everything amazing that happened after that, I still stand by how hard it was to continually be told to be positive, because it easily could have gone the other way. What is also notable about this post is that I was wrong about all of the changes I had made in my life to prepare for this. 100% wrong to say they didn’t make a difference. They made a huge difference. In about 2 and a half weeks (or less) I am going to bring two beautiful baby girls into this world. Something I never thought would have be possible the day I wrote this post or even the day after my retrieval when they told me I had only 3 embryos. After so many disappointments I am 36 weeks pregnant with twins and its an absolute miracle. The truth is you don’t have to be positive all the time when you are going through infertility, as long as you don’t lose hope. Sometimes you need to be sad, you need to mourn, and you need to cry, but miracles really do happen against all odds.

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