I think after a freak out session, we were ready to move forward on everything. We had been planning for all of this for months and months. It was finally here. So then we got our IVF drugs delivered to the house. Did you know that they just deliver $7000 worth of drugs to your door, no signature required? Right after we signed the contract for the IVF, we met with the doctor. It was there that she informed me that I am low on a particular hormone (anti Mullerian hormone, I think) and that this indicates that I have a low egg supply. To counter this, I would receive much more of the stimulation drugs than a normal person my age. Already, things weren’t sounding so good. After that, we attended a session where they teach you how to administer the drugs. It’s all very stressful. Neither Tom nor I are trained in this arena. Here you are at the doctors and she is just running through this like it’s just another day. One shot of this, another of this. Then you mix this with this. This shot you have to give at exactly the precise time. If not, you mess up your entire IVF cycle. It’s very stressful. So we were handed an instruction packet and sent on our way. We began shots on February 17th, a Friday. On the following Monday you report to the office in the morning. You get an ultrasound and do blood work. The ultrasound is done to look at your ovaries. Each egg is found in a follicle. Although an egg is not visible by ultrasound, the follicle (the sac that holds the egg) is. In theory each follicle that they see in the ultrasound should hold an egg. During this first ultrasound, I knew we were having a problem. She first went to look at my right ovary, there were two follicles. Based off of someone my age, there should have been about 10 per ovary. I tried not to freak out. She looked at the other ovary, there were 7. So all in all we had 9 follicles. I knew we were already at a major disadvantage. During one of my phone calls from the nurse, the lady told me to continue taking 350 units of Follistim. I told the woman that I was instructed on my sheet to take 300 units of the drug. Well it turns out it was a typo and I went through my entire cycle taking the wrong dose. No additional follicles developed during the stimulation phase. We had 9. I remember overhearing a girl in the office tell the nurse that she had gone through 3 cycles and been canceled each time. I remember thinking to myself, be thankful for your measly 9. During several appointments, the ultrasound tech/doctor would inform me that “you aren’t responding to these drugs the way we would like for someone your age.” That left me feeling great, but there is nothing that I could do so I shrugged it off. Each follicle grows to about the size of a quarter during this stage. So it is quite uncomfortable by the time you get to retrieval stage.
The point of all of this monitoring is waiting for these follicles to get to a mature size so that the eggs will survive. When you have almost reached go time, you get a magical call from the doctor calling to tell you to take a trigger shot at a very specific time. Ours was at 10 pm. You have to be exact on the timing because if you aren’t you will ovulate before they are able to perform the procedure, and everything is a waste. So naturally I come home super excited because I’m so uncomfortable at this point and can’t wait to get these things out. Well I was met at home with a very sick pup. Lucy, was throwing up, wouldn’t eat, and had blood in her stool. We had to take her to the emergency vet immediately. We also had to take our meds with us because I needed to get my shot at 10pm. We got to the vet at 9, waited for the vet, nothing, it was almost 10, we start to prep the trigger shot, and it had a mixing step. Naturally the vet walks in as I’m about to get a shot in the butt. We look like drug addicts, it was a complete mess. Come to find out, Lucy was severely dehydrated and needed to stay overnight I just looked at Tom and started to cry. I didn’t want to leave her there. It was awful. Lucy stayed, got her fluids, we got another giant bill, but she came home the next day. So that was great news.
The next day was the retrieval. I was told this was a simple procedure. As you go to the office you start to see patients over and over also going through IVF. So when Tom and I walked into the building, I immediately recognized a girl being wheeled out. This girl looked rough. Tom can confirm that she actually looked like a burn victim. She looked barely conscious. She had a blanket on her head. She looked worse than I felt coming out of my real surgery. Tom and I looked at each other and I just started freaking out. I’m pretty certain I had a panic attack of some sort. I was expecting this little procedure. They whisk you in the office, then the anesthesiologist talks to you, you get changed, and they take you in. I think from seeing that girl to laying on the table was about 10 minutes. I honestly thought I was going to die. They give you drugs so you really don’t feel anything, and the procedure wasn’t a big deal at all. She was able to retrieve 7 eggs. She informed me, again, she expected someone my age to have more, but that hopefully these 7 were of good quality. They were going to fertilize the embryos that day. Of the 7 eggs, 6 fertilized. We would get another update on Day 3. Day 3 we had fantastic news, all 6 embryos were growing as expected. I think for both of us, this was when we finally started to believe that this might actually work. We might be the lucky ones. Day 5 was the day of the transfer. Fun fact, did you know that embryo’s hatch? They do. They do all these amazing things before you even know you are pregnant.
Transfer day was the worst day of the whole entire process. You have to go to the office with a full bladder. You have to hold your bladder until the transfer. I can honestly say, I have never ever ever had to pee so badly in my entire life. If you have ever had to pee really bad, hold it for another hour, and then you would know how awful it is. We are supposed to talk to the embryologist prior to the transfer of the embryos. I consider myself a pretty strong person. I nearly broke down in the doctor’s office when they told us the latest news. Of the 6 embryos, 4 stopped growing, 2 were still growing, but much slower than the stage they should have been at that point. The embryologist was very honest with us, the outlook wasn’t good. He suggested transferring 2. I don’t know how normal non emotionally shunted people do it. He said they would continue monitoring the remaining 4 to see if they decided to grow. We agreed and they transferred 2 embryos. The transfer was weird. Here this room full of people are looking at you like they just witnessed the miracle of life, yet we had just been handed such horrible news. Tom and I just looked at each other, we tried to laugh it off, but we both knew this wasn’t going to work. We decided that we were going to keep it a secret that two were transferred. Neither of us felt like hearing comments about twins when we were just told that we likely would have none. The next day we got word that the remaining 4 didn’t make it. Then we waited for two weeks for official news.
I just knew it didn’t work. I didn’t really need a test to prove it. Of course I had hoped I was wrong, but I knew I wasn’t wrong. I knew this didn’t work. When we got the official news that the pregnancy test was negative, it hit Tom harder than it hit me. During the two week wait, I immediately started looking into what our next options were. I knew if this didnt work, that this IVF round would have ended up a complete failure. No frozen embryos, no do overs. Sometimes when you hear something that you don’t want to hear, you feel like a loser. Your emotions take over and you make these decisions based off of fear rather than what makes sense. I think it was important for us to discuss the next step before we knew the official outcome. Before our emotions were all tied up. It was during this period that we discussed embryo adoption. I remember one night, I just looked at Tom and said, I have to tell you, I feel like we are struggling to have a biological child, and I don’t really care about having a biological child. It’s really not that important to me. Without hesitation, he said me either. We are struggling to make an embryo and we could just adopt an embryo. I have a better feeling about this process than I ever did about IVF. In hindsight, I never actually had a warm/ hopeful feeling about it. There was a period of about 3 days during that process where I was like “Crap, this stuff might actually work.” That was those few days where everything was growing in a dish nicely. I don’t want any comments like… well if you were more positive, the IVF would have worked. During IVF, I don’t think I have ever been calmer. I did every single thing I could possibly do to increase my odds. I did acupuncture. I was relaxed, and besides the crappy outcome, I felt really good while going through the process.