All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!

The One That Stuck

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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!

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Author: Courtney

Hi, there, I’m Courtney. I never planned to stay home with my kids, but I got sucked into motherhood when my first baby came into our lives after years of infertility and multiple rounds of IVF. His brother followed closely behind, something we didn’t plan on after having such a rough road with achieving parenthood the first time around. My boys are IVF cycle twins, conceived on the same day but born two years and one day apart (they were both transferred on the same day in October, but with two years between them). My boys are the best of friends and my husband is a terrific husband, father, and most importantly… friend. He fully supported my desire to stay home (“I just wanted it to be your idea and not mine, I totally want you to stay home and raise our kids!”) and encourages me in everything I do. I am a lover of projects, spreadsheets, fitness, healthy cooking and eating, crafts, selling my stuff on FB (HA!), and the outdoors. If I’m active, I’m pretty darn happy!

18 thoughts on “The One That Stuck

  1. Wow! Great story. Sometimes when you give up all hope is when the miracle happens 🙂

  2. Thanks for this. Just shared with a friend who is grieving a failed FET after a failed IVF. So hard to hang on to hope in that situation but stories like yours are proof that it can still happen even after failed cycles that looked “perfect” or “textbook.” Personally, I’m amazed you still remember so much about exactly what happened, # of follicles, how you felt, etc. But I know you kept good records!

    • HA! I do keep good records, but our whole IF journey was my entire life back then – it’s hard to forget what all of that felt like. Going in for 3 different transfers leading up to Matthew, and I still remember how I felt each time. It’s a part of who I am now – which I think is a good thing.

      I wish your friend much peace at this time. I know all too well how she feels. You start to wonder if it’s EVER going to happen – but it does!

  3. This was so awesome to read, Court. I forget sometimes that I haven’t followed your journey for years, and it’s fun to put together the little pieces of your TTC past. 🙂 I’m so glad Matthew stuck around! 🙂

  4. Going through IVF is such a demanding process. It’s so true how the whole experience sticks with you. I had everything written out in complete detail. Having only done one fresh cycle I remember it very distinctly. Reading this brought some things right back to the surface. It was really great reading this part of your story. I blogged through my whole journey. I recently just read through my archives to get some information for a new IVFer. This is a perfect post to send to her for reference. Thank you for sharing!

    • I can’t imagine what it would be like to go back and read posts that were written as the BFN’s were happening. I’m sure if I had been blogging then, that things would not be as “A-OK” in my memory as they seem to be now.

      I read you when you were going through your struggles. I remember it well. Not an easy time at all.

  5. Thank you SO much for sharing all of this — I really appreciate you giving us all the details, too, because I’m going into my first IVF and just have no idea what to expect with my “unexplained infertility” diagnosis. I’m so fearful that my egg quality is crap, or that even with lots of eggs retrieved and fertilized, there still might be failure after failure. I’ll have to remember your story as I’m going through this, especially if there are a few more BFNs in the cards…

    • You are welcome. I think it’s really important to be real with yourself, and others, about this whole experience. It helps to put certain things behind you, and it helps you decide what parts of it you want to keep close to your heart.

      Best of luck to you! I’m excited for you – I know it’s a trying time but still exciting!

      BFN’s are scary, but in my experience as an IFer and an active blog reader – they are usually temporary. 😉

  6. This brought back memories because, when I woke up from the retrieval, PC said “they got five good eggs.” And I was hysterical saying something similar to- FIVE? It’s done, our one chance and that’s that. He said “but the doctor said they were really good eggs” but my mind had already lost hope. Only two of our five made it to transfer and I am so glad that my one stuck as well. It’s just amazing that this happens all the time without people knowing what REALLY has to happen and how much of a miracle it is! So thankful!

    • So it’s not just me who sets high expectations for herself? 🙂 Oh the gloom and doom we put ourselves through during this process. It’s no fun at all. I’m really glad your little one stuck – what a gift!

  7. Aww this gave me goosebumps!! 🙂 What a great story with a very happy ending. Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Wow, before IF I never knew how many things had to go right to get pregnant. You see teenagers get knocked up all the time and think, well it should be no problem when we decide we want to get pregnant. Oh the joys of being ignorant!

    And as for the one that stuck, you couldn’t have had a better one stick! He is adorable!

    • Thanks! I agree!

      And yeah – all those teenagers make it look easy. Hell, they make childbirth look easy too. My OB just said the other day that they bounce back and are back in school the day after they come home from the hospital. Ugh!

  9. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I so enjoy these glimpses into pre-Matthew Courtney. I, like Josey, forget that we’ve only known each other for not even a year so it’s so nice to learn more about your journey.

    And, on a selfish side, I am hoping that this idea of getting lucky when you least expect/believe/hope is for real! Seems like it was true for you both with Matthew and This pregnancy. I think it was probably true for me with Sofia and I’d be thrilled if it was true again…

    And I’m glad that you were able to finally embrace that pregnancy at 6 weeks in. I’d say that’s pretty darn good all things considered…

  10. Pingback: A Major Milestone Of Sorts « All the Sun For You

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