By early December last year (2017), I’d moved through the motions and I was ready for round 2. I had read about treating the first IVF cycle as a “trial and error” round and that you shouldn’t be too disheartened (if you can ever say that to a woman desperate for a child).
The consultant made adjustments to my drug cocktail recipe (we upped the dose to 450iu Menopur) and the protocol (we needed ICSI – see lessons from my first IVF cycle here). The clinic was closing over Christmas for a few days, so we would only be able to start the second round if my period arrived by 3 December – and lo and behold, it arrived on that very day. Aunt Flo had never been this compliant. This had to be a sign that it was our turn, surely…
The timing was perfect, we were staying in London over Christmas, I was off work for two weeks so I would have plenty of time to relax after transfer. Not that I’m religious, but this had to be our very own baby Jesus?! Another sign, surely…
Almost exactly a year ago, in early September 2017, H and I were super egg-cited [sorry bad yoke 😂] to start our first IVF cycle. After a traumatic 11 months of the miscarriage (read my letter to my angel here), the discovery that I had Asherman’s Syndrome (more here), the uterus surgeries and the various hormone therapy treatments (HRTs), we were ready. It had to be our turn now, surely…
I’d received the drug delivery a week earlier. Not knowing what to expect, I ordered it to work. My office used to be located in one of London’s largest shopping centres, so the delivery guy got lost. He called me (from a withheld number) in the middle of the afternoon and asked that I meet him down a dark alley outside Zara Kids. (Shady AF, if you ask me.) I rushed out of the office, not knowing what he looked like. As it turned out, he wasn’t hard to spot – there was one guy standing next to a HUGE box (see picture on my Instagram). Et voilà, my first drug exchange was completed.
… Embryo samples 2 and 5: Sven and Olaf. We have two normal embryos!! I AM SO RELIEVED.
H and I were so nervous – especially H. Normally it’s me, but this time he was pacing up and down the waiting room, so we excused ourselves and got a coffee and some fresh air before taking a deep breath, walking back into the clinic and our appointment.
Funny enough, our two normal embryos are two of the day 6 embryos (BB quality), the stragglers, and not the one which looked to be of best quality (a day 5 AB quality embryo). Elsa and Anna are out of the game (and so is Kristof). This makes me think that if we had not done PGS testing, the day 5 AB embryo would have been transferred on day 5 and would have either not implanted or I would have miscarried again. I find this fascinating.
Today is a BIG day: we find out if H and I have managed to produce any genetically normal embryos.
After three failed IVF rounds and no embryos in the freezer, we were (naturally) starting to suspect that there might be an egg quality issue. We have tested H’s Sperm numerous times, including performing a DNA fragmentation test, which showed that his sperm contain a whopping 98% normal DNA!! Considering my age, 38, only approx. 30% of my eggs are likely to be normal (the age range of 37-38: 30%-40% of eggs are normal). My AMH is 10.4 (down from 13.2 last year ☹) and shows low-ish fertility for my age, so the odds aren’t great – if 30% of my eggs are normal I’ll take it! This fact sucks, but it’s reality and we have to work with what we have. As an aside, I wish that someone had told the younger me about the reality of rapid declining fertility after 35 (it is NOT a myth)…
So, what is PGS testing?
Today is day 11 of stimulation and I had an ultrasound scan this morning. There are seven follicles on the right ovary measuring between 15-22mm in diameter and four follicles on the right measuring between 19-26mm in diameter. There is also one more on the right ovary which is measuring 13mm in diameter and could possibly have a growth-spurt and reach 15mm by egg collection.
That’s a dozen in total, so I’m singing [in my head] my own version of The Pointer Sisters: “I’m so eggcited, I just can’t hide it…”
The blood work came back showing that the estrogen levels are up too, so we’re ready to go: double-trigger LH shots (Gonasi 5000 IU and Suprecur 1 mg) this evening – bam! – and collection scheduled for Wednesday, 8.30am. In my previous three rounds, I triggered with a single shot of Ovitrelle 250 mcg but in this round our consultant wants to try a double LH trigger in the hope that more eggs mature. Lucky egg collection is not on Friday because: “what’s the eggs worst day?”….. “fry-day”. (I just realised that I had egg collection on a Friday in The Disaster Round. That explains a lot.)
I started this blog back in January shortly after our second IVF-round had failed. As I’m sure you know if you’re reading this, the infertility journey has its ups and downs and some days, weeks, months are harder than others. After the second round, my heart was shattered and I couldn’t muster up the energy to write. Quite a lot has happened since January: I have had a few more tests done and completed our third IVF-round (a fresh cycle) in March and it was brutal for many reasons. That too failed and, truth be told, my heart was heavier than ever before. We are doing a second ERA now in May and a fourth egg collection round in June. I have no idea how that will go, but I’m ready to write again. So, here we go…
I had my hysteroscopy scheduled for 18 April 2017, the Tuesday after the Easter weekend. I walked to hospital in the sunshine and remember feeling very positive. I was almost skipping down the street – in hindsight this might seem like odd behaviour for someone who was heading to hospital to be put to sleep…. who doesn’t love a daytime nap?!
I figured I wold be under for 5-10 minutes – after all this was just a quick check that everything was as it should be in my uterus. I thought I’d be out for a few minutes, wake up, recover and then skip out of the hospital into that beautiful, sunny spring day. I met the anaesthetist, the surgeon and signed the usual consent forms. All set. “See you in a little bit”, I said to H and then casually strolled into the theatre in my [sexy] hospital nightie (you know the one with an open back where you’re showing your bottom to everyone else on the ward).
I woke up hours later in a daze and in a lot of pain – and I could hear H saying “can I take a picture of the records” followed by “is that negligence?”. I was wheeled into the gynecology ward where they wanted to monitor me over night. I remember feeling confused: (a) why was I on the ward; and (b) why was I in so much pain?