Reflection on My First IVF Cycle

I can breathe again. My first IVF cycle has officially been completed. I do feel pretty fortunate that it went relatively smoothly and I can’t believe it’s over already. It certainly is not an endeavor for the faint-hearted. You are on edge constantly and the whole process is incredibly unpredictable. I feel physically (from all the early mornings, sleepless nights, and vials of blood drawn) and emotionally drained at this point and literally slept half the day away today.

Luckily I only had a few bumps during the month. Not like the couple in “Friends From College” on Netflix – I watched episode 4 on the day I did my trigger shot and I definitely recommend it for a good laugh and some stress relief! I had the delays in getting the whole cycle started, the sudden appearance of a cyst that raised my E2 level resulting in another delay, and the egg retrieval procedure wasn’t a walk in the park. Apparently my ovaries are high up so the retrieval was difficult and painful despite the twilight sedation I was under. Two nurses had to push HARD on my torso to help the doctor retrieve the eggs from my ovaries. Of course, I am still a bit sore and it has been a week already. And I found out I do not react well to Fentanyl. I was completely out of it afterwards and both of my eyelids swelled up. Thankfully S came to pick me up after the procedure and was an angel in preparing a couple of meals for me that lasted through the week.

This past week has been the most nerve-wracking week of them all (I’m sure fellow IVFers can certainly attest to this!). My anxiety was at its peak levels when waiting for the phone call from the clinic every morning (sometime between 8:00-10:00) to see what the latest lab update was.

Day 1 – 7 mature eggs had been retrieved, 4 eggs fertilized

Day 2 – 4 embryos divided

Day 3 – 3 embryos divided again, there was hope that the 4th one would catch up

Day 4 – 4 good quality embryos developing normally

Day 5 – only 2 embryos were good enough to make it to freeze (the clinic only freezes good quality day 5 blastocysts)

Day 6 – other 2 embryos did become blastocysts but were of poor quality and I was told that they would have implanted but would not have any further fetal development

I am very disappointed that I wasn’t able to produce more eggs so I had low numbers (hard to take when you read online about all these other women older than me who had such high numbers!) but I also know that I should be very grateful that I have two strong little snow babies right now waiting for me. I just have to continue with trying to maintain this positive energy and hopefully I will have one of them nestled securely in me soon.

Now that my embryos are ready and waiting, it is time to put the finishing touches on a healthy home for them. I will be having my 5th and final surgery in less than two weeks. I am really hoping that this hysteroscopy will be successfull in removing many fibroids and boost my chances of pregnancy up from the current 50%. I wish I knew when I will be able to do my FET after this procedure. Maybe after a month or two?

I can’t believe I have made it up to this point! After all of these miserable years, I am so close to possibly having a baby! I am trying to stifle my excitement as you never know. But hard to keep it from bubbling up inside because I never thought I would be here! And on my own too! Other than S and my therapist, I haven’t told another soul about my two embryos yet. It is so hard to keep it a secret. I might….might…tell one of my good friends. And I know I will have a hard time not telling my mom. I guess we’ll see how long I can keep this good news to myself…

Dear Kindred Spirits

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To my sisters in the online infertility community…

I read about your struggles, your joys, each step along the way in trying to bring forth a life you already deeply love even before it materializes into flesh and blood. We are bonded by this indescribable desire for a baby and we somehow manage to face these incredible challenges with the insurmountable strength, will and courage of a superhero(ine).

I admire each and every one of you, and I feel so grateful that there is such a supportive online community of ladies who have the dream of motherhood ever-present in their hearts.

Since my HSG test a couple of days ago when I found out that there is a problem with one of my fallopian tubes (hopefully just one…) and that this is yet another hurdle I will have to face, along with the innumerable amount of fibroids and polyps I have; my spirits have been shot. I feel numb; like a zombie going through the motions of everyday life. It’s been a beautiful start to Spring here and I feel like I should be reveling in the sunshine, breathing in the much warmer air, and looking forward to finally packing away my boots and winter gear and doing all of the wonderful outdoor activities we only have 6 months of the year (sometimes less!) to enjoy.

I did go online and found some success stories of women who have been able to deliver healthy babies even though they only had one working tube and fibroids/polyps. This definitely did make me feel a little better and I no longer felt like the world was crashing down on me like I did on Tuesday.

But the anxiety of seeing my doctor next Tuesday to find out the final results of the HSG test and whether or not IUI is off the table now with IVF being the only option left, has me on edge. If this is the case, my brief journey may then be over. I looked up the costs (our provincial healthcare as well as my work insurance does not cover anything fertility related) and for one cycle of IVF, it will be at least triple the amount I had planned for a couple cycles of IUI. I am limited in finances as a preschool teacher since my fibroids condition and thalassemia prevents me from being able to work full-time. I had tried to apply for a loan last year for some major emergency dental work (damn rollerblading accident years ago!) and they rejected me since I wasn’t making enough income. So I know that won’t be an option unless I maybe try another bank…The only other possibility that has entered my mind is maybe selling my beloved little loft and moving in with my mom…She is great but of course this is not ideal after being accustomed to living on my own for what feels like eternity.

Facing this possible fork in the road, I am struggling these days.

I am surrounded by pregnant teachers all around me at work and my best friend is due with her first in the next little while. I have been avoiding contacting another friend who gave birth recently. Yes, I do feel guilty about that. My baby niece and her parents will be in town this weekend and I will be babysitting her for the very first time. Originally, I was over the moon excited about it but now I admit that I am dreading it. I know, it’s selfish. Must stifle this green-eyed monster. Unfortunately, (or rather, fortunately I suppose) I do not have any family or friends (that I know of anyway) who have or had any fertility issues so I feel really alone in that regard. I know that if I really wanted to talk to some of them, I could; but how can someone understand when they don’t face infertility themselves? I tried to look up to see if there are any local infertility meet-ups but so far, I have been unsuccessful. There must be though and I will continue looking. Although these last couple of days, with the exception of S, I have isolated myself from everyone and have absolutely no desire to converse with anyone.

I know that I am a bit more short at work with people, shameful to say, that this includes the little ones. Good thing the weekend is coming up. I will also admit (so much easier to type it rather than to say it out loud to someone) that my relatively clean and healthy diet has been straight out the window and has been replaced with ranch chips, pizza, cookies and cream chocolate and vanilla wafers. I know I will need to stop this self-pity and emerge from this saturated fat, black hole at some point soon. I know that doing some meditation, yoga or Buddhist reading would probably help my emotions but it is just one of those times that I just cannot muster the strength or motivation to do it. I am glad that the antidepressants are preventing me from falling down too far and I have been trying to book an appointment with my therapist for next week. I am aware of all the resources and ways to help raise my spirits again. I just wish I could somehow reach deep inside my soul and find that yearning again soon to give me enough strength and guidance to keep me standing in this battle.

After tirelessly crusading against the inevitable treatment of these inoperable fibroids being a hysterectomy, and suffering from the constant bloodshed and literally having my life drain away for the last 9 years or so, I don’t know how much longer I can stick it out for.

Maybe fate is telling me I can put off the hysterectomy no longer.

If I am somehow miraculously able to conceive, it will be another battle in itself to keep that pregnancy. I see how many of you out there face pregnancy loss after pregnancy loss, over and over again and I don’t know if I am strong enough to be like you.

I have lived through an abusive childhood, depression and being suicidal, losing all my hair to Alopecia, a couple of cancer scares, going about each day with a hemoglobin level averaging around 80, major financial debt, heartbreaks from men all along the way, and the presence of a real-life Mommie Dearest in my relationship with S.

And yet I feel like this is what is finally going to break me.

To my fellow sisters alongside me on this long-winding road – How do you do it? How do you manage to always pick yourself up after each and every setback and keep staying hopeful??

M

 

This is How Much I Want You

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One more thing accomplished…day 3 FSH level blood test – check! Now hopefully the results will be okay…

Prior to this, it was quite the day…

I have been off of birth control since the beginning of the year when S and I were supposed to start trying for a baby. I was happy to be off the hormones as I figured my body needed a break from them after over 15 years of it. After finding out that I would now be doing this on my own without S, I continued staying off the bc so that my body would be baby-ready even though IUI wouldn’t likely happen for another 4 months or so. I held out (barely) for the day 3 blood test but now it looks like I will need to go back on the hormones because of the cursed countless number of fibroids and thalassemia (which in case you don’t know,  is not as pretty as the name may sound. It is a genetic blood disorder that causes chronic anemia. And of course, I ended up having one of the more severe types).

Being off the bc, my periods have been more regular but have been more of a bloodbath than usual. Well it started a couple of days ago and I ended up hemorrhaging while I was at work. They ended up calling an ambulance and the school I was in was put on alert while all of this was happening (poor kids!). It was absolutely mortifying. The bathroom, my black pants (staple of my everyday wardrobe), shirt and even boots looked like props in a horror movie. At least the majority of my coworkers are women, which helps. They hooked me up to the IV and eventually after finding a match, I received a blood transfusion of a couple of units.

Unfortunately, this blood came in one way and promptly out another but I am still standing. Pale and frail as a ghost, shaky and out of breath with the slightest of movements, but I am here.

I am hoping that going back on the bc and continuing with the max doses of tranexamic acid and Advil will prevent this from happening again. But I know that with the combination of these two serious conditions, it will be a fine balance between trying to create life while trying to keep mine going at a safe level. My doctor has warned me that if I do get conceive, it will be a high-risk pregnancy and that he will have to “monitor me like a hawk.”

My mom had a hysterectomy at my age but this was after bearing three children. My doctor and I have tried everything under the sun over the last decade, including every kind of bc, Lupron, Fibristal and two hysteroscopies. He is adamant that the only treatment left for the fibroids is to have the same fate as my mom.

But I refuse to give up. I will continue pushing on in my lightheaded, lethargic haze with the hope that one day you will be here and know that this is how much I wanted you.

M

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