I’ve gone down memory lane to share our first IVF experience and our first FET experience – both failures in their own ways – and I think it’s time to put into writing what our cycle was like when we conceived Matthew.
We’d been through the IF wringer (or so we thought based on our own experiences) – 1 failed IUI, another cancelled IUI, a failed IVF cycle that appeared to be picture perfect, and a failed FET that was described as “textbook” to us. When it came time to do another fresh IVF cycle, I was just not into it. I’d poured my hopes and dreams into all the failures before it, and I was done. I had nothing left to emotionally lend to the cycle. I was ready to quit and move on with adoption, but B wanted to follow our RE’s instructions and give IVF three full tries. The idea of a second, and possibly a third, IVF cycle made me crazy.
I should backup. We still had 5 frozen embryos from our first failed IVF, but when we did our first FET, I negotiated with our RE that we would only do one FET and then move onto another fresh cycle if the FET failed simply because I had no faith in the embryos from that first IVF cycle. I had had some slight OHSS with that cycle and when they triggered me, a couple/few follicles were much larger than their target for trigger – I truly believe I was a little “over-cooked.” When we went in for our WTF appointment after that failed IVF cycle, our RE said that we’d do things differently if we needed to stim again. All of the trauma from the cycle, and the RE changing his game plan for us if we were to stim again, made me give up entirely on those frozen embryos. I went forward with the one FET out of obligation – I mean – it is not really responsible to do another fresh cycle with 7 embryos in the freezer. But if that FET failed, I was moving on to a new batch of embryos.
And that’s what happened.
So there we were, in another WTF appointment with the RE after our early miscarriage with the FET, and our RE told me the new plan. I listened like a student, not like an acting participant. I was so emotionally removed that I just wanted to know the what’s and when’s (not really the how’s) and get started. We talked stats, but I already knew them. We talked protocol, and I wrote it all down. We would stim more slowly this time, and more steadily. Sounded just fine to me.
With our first IVF and FET, B did all of my shots – even the easy sub-q ones. By the time we got to IVF #2, I was feeling the need to take some control so I did all of my sub-q’s by myself unless B offered (I usually did them privately so that I could do them, but if he knew I was doing it, he’d ask if he could do it and I’d let him). I didn’t stress about it – I simply did them when needed. I checked things off of my spreadsheet as we progressed through the cycle, but I didn’t get wrapped up in it like I had before. I didn’t get hopeful. I didn’t think it would work.
The stimming seemed to take forever – because it DID. I think it took 3-4 extra days to get my follicles to where they needed to be versus the first IVF cycle. I was nervous about this, but went with it. I knew the follicle count was much lower than our first IVF, but our RE explained that we were going for lower numbers, higher quality. I wasn’t sure what that meant because 11 of the 16 eggs retrieved from IVF #1 were described as great quality. But again, I went with it and didn’t give it much thought.
When we finally triggered, I was relieved to be getting near the end. I was a little nervous about OHSS, but I already felt better than I did during IVF #1, so I thought that was a good sign. I went into the egg retrieval emotionless – I expected very little to go well. When I woke up from the retrieval, I was told they got 10 eggs and I cried. TEN. The first time, we got 16. How could we only get 10 this time?
Because of the number of eggs retrieved, I decided it was best to remain unattached to the cycle and the possible outcome. I continued to just go through the motions. We did my PIO shot that night and waited for the fertilization report the next day.
When the phone rang, I was slightly hopeful. All hope was stripped from me when I was told that only 5 eggs fertilized. FIVE. The time prior, we’d had 11 fertilize. Five is not a lot to work with. I was devastated. I was convinced this cycle would end in failure as well and we’d soon be moving on to the third, and final, hail-Mary IVF cycle before calling it quits.
We heard nothing else until we went in for transfer. I think those few days were some of my darkest. I dwelled almost every second on whether or not our embryos were growing and surviving. I worried about the news I’d get when we went in for transfer. Would there even be 2 decent blasts to transfer? What if we had to do this all over again, knowing it was our last attempt?
When transfer day came, I went in with zero emotion. I just wanted to get it over with so that we could move on with our last IVF attempt. When we got there, we were told that we had 2 perfect blasts to transfer, and that one was already in the freezer. Hope started to creep in.
Just a little.
We were told that one embryo had arrested but that the final one was looking good and would like be frozen the next day.
A little more hope.
The transfer was done and we went home. I took an extra day of bed rest because, well – you know, I could and I wanted to. I tried not to think about the embryos that were hopefully doing their thing in my uterus, and I was pretty good at ignoring the situation. In fact, I was great at it. The first day off bed rest, B’s boss was running his first marathon so we went down to cheer him on. As we were walking to one of the checkpoints, we heard his wife screaming his name so we knew we were about to miss him – so I sprinted three blocks to catch him. I forgot that I wasn’t supposed to be running at all (I used to be a big-time recreational runner). It didn’t dawn on me until long after the event was done, and after I’d sprinted once again with one of the runner’s kids to make it to the finish line to hug his dad, that I had forgotten that I was PUPO.
My body didn’t let me forget for too long that things were supposed to be happening in my uterus. At 5dp5dt, I had what I thought was implantation bleeding. I was so positive of it because there was no reason to bleed because I’d taken all the medications that would suppress a period – especially one this early. Right? WRONG. As I thought through this, I realized I hadn’t started my estrogen patches. I hadn’t consulted my spreadsheet in days. I quickly pulled it up and realized that I was FOUR days late starting estrogen. I quickly slapped on my patches and called the nurse and cried and cried my eyes out about my huge failure. I told her the truth – that I simply forgot that I needed to be taking all my meds.
How does someone in the midst of an IVF cycle forget to start a critical medication?
The nurse assured me it was fine as long as I was taking my PIO shots (I was because who could forget those?) and didn’t even order a blood draw to test my estrogen. I told her about my spotting and she said that that would not be a period or from not taking estrogen, and that her hope was that it was a good sign.
Three days later, I P’dOAS and I got a faint positive. We’d been there before so I didn’t get too excited. But every day, the line got darker and I was feeling pretty positive that this was our sticky baby.
More hope crept in.
The beta was done at 10d5dt (2 days early for our clinic) because the embryologist didn’t want me to have to wait over the weekend – she said I’d been through enough with our first two failed cycles. At 10d5dt, I was most definitely pregnant with a beta of 561.
Cue even MORE hope!
Three days later, the beta was 1695.
Two days later, the beta was 3224.
This was it!
But how many were there?
We went for our ultrasound at 6w4d pregnant and there was one little baby with a beautiful strong heartbeat – and there was one sad, little deflated sac that had tried but didn’t make it. I was sad for the baby that didn’t make it, but so happy about the one that did! Later that night, I did an internet search on “twin pregnancy” images and decided I was relieved to not be having twins after seeing photos of women in their third trimesters with twins. It did not look comfortable.
At 6w4d pregnant, I finally embraced this cycle! I finally became emotionally involved. I finally became excited!
And that’s the one that stuck!