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……