On with option 3 we went, and everything looked good. There were plenty of follicles showing up on the scans and I was responding well to the medication.
Egg harvest was booked and went well. We had 15 eggs retrieved and got the call the next day to say 12 had been successfully fertilized. We were really happy with this. I thought if we ended up with 2 blastocysts last time with only 9 fertilized eggs, then with cycle which had gone much more smoothly we would have at least 3 or 4 to freeze and store. I was glad to have these positives and found myself confident about the IVF with PGD process.
There was no real concern about OHSS this cycle, as I had a shorter protocol of medication and things had gone to plan. However, as each day passed after the surgery, I was getting more and more sore rather than recovering. With it being a busy week at work, the last week of term 1, I just decided to push through and thought I would eventually begin to feel better.
By the Tuesday (4 days after the egg retrieval) I started to feel nauseous on top of the pain. I decided at lunchtime to call the clinic and let them know I wasn’t well, which was what I was supposed to do. After listening to my symptoms, then calling my doctor, the clinic told me to report to the ER. This seemed a bit extreme, but I thought they might check my blood pressure etc, and hopefully send me home with some decent painkillers.
I had mum take me down straight after work, and called my husband to let him know but told him not to bother coming as I thought I should only be there for a couple of hours at most.
To my surprise, after an initial examination and ultrasound testing, I was admitted to hospital. Mum had called my husband to get him to come down and he was there when they admitted me. I was still feeling like it was overkill, I was in a fair bit of pain but was otherwise OK. The ER doctor told me the ultrasound showed the largerst cycsts and most extensive swelling that he had ever seen. That explained the ouch.
Now to cut a long story short, I got a fair bit worse before I got better, and spent the next three nights in hospital on a drip. Not so much fun.
However, the worst thing to happen in hospital had nothing to do with me being sick, or even the food. Nope, it was yet another bad news phone call.
My husband and I talked about the phonecall and the ‘over the phone’ diagnosis. Or, rather, I stressed, fretted and pre-empted and he calmed, reasoned and rationalised.
The next day we fronted up for the appointment hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I was fully expecting for the doctor to cancel the IVF cyle that I had already started and then… well I didn’t want to think too much about the ‘and then’. He did say that we would need to see a specialist or ‘genetic counsellor’ to talk about the specifics of my particular translocation.
He began by talking through the Balanced Translocation diagnosis and what it meant. I had pretty much read the information x 1000 the night before but I listened intently.
Next, he talked about our options. The were as follows:
1. Abandon the cycle and see the genetic counsellor before deciding on further treatment
2. Continue with the current cycle, use any blastocyst we ended up with and risk the 70% miscarriage rate
3. Continue with the current cycle, freeze all blastocysts and store them – then have them tested for genetic abnormalities using a process called PGD testing.
To my great relief, in his opinion he thought we should go with option 3. I had prepared myself for the cycle to be abandoned so I felt, at least, that this cycle would not go to waste. With PGD testing, we may have to go through several IVF cycles to get enough Blastocysts to test, but I would have a 30% chance of finding a healthy embryo that could lead to my long awaited pregnancy.
I felt like we still had a chance for success with IVF, though the process would be longer, more complicated, and much more expensive.
I was OK with the longer and more complicated, however the increase in $$$ was beginning to pose a bit of a problem. We had already burned through quite a large chunk of our savings, and it was beginning to look like finances would play a part in the treatment choices we could make in the future.
But overall, I walked away with some hope, and at least I felt like I had an answer to the question of why we hadn’t been able to get pregnant. And this was a problem that could be overcome, I just had to be patient.
I was at work when I got the phonecall. It was my old doctor’s office, and the nurse was ringing to tell me they had the results of my genetic blood tests. The catch was, she couldn’t tell me the results, as I had changed doctors. Now I was slightly concerned at this point. I had an IVF scan appointment with my doctor the next day, and it was curious to me that she would be calling me, and not just sending the results through to my new doctor.
I told her exactly that, and she said she was calling because I should contact my doctor immediately. Could it not wait until I was to see him the next day? – I asked. Apparently not. Apparently it couldn’t wait one day.
This is when the figuarative red flashing lights and sirens started going off. Now, if you know me, you know I have a tendency to get a bit stressed/over-excited/lose the plot. So with my head spinning, I frantacially called my new doctor. And, of course, he was unavailable. Awesome.
So after leaving a rather emphatic message with his receptionist that he must call me ASAP, I attempted to make it through a day of teaching with the mystery blood results hanging over me like a storm cloud. To say my mood was a little stormy would be quite the understatement.
Finally, at lunchtime, I got the phonecall from my doctor. He had my results. They weren’t good. I had been diagnosed with ‘Robertsonian Balanced Translocation of the 13th and 14th chromosomes’. I didn’t catch much of the rest of what he said. While he was telling me that he would explain it in more detail the next day at my appointment and discuss my options, I was desperately trying to remember the name of the disorder so I could consult Doctor Google as soon as I hung up the phone.
For those of you interested enough to read the medical stuff – the link below is probably the most succinct site I found to explain it. For those of you who are not, in a nutshell, I am a carrier of mixed chromosome pairs, which has no effect on me, but a huge potential effect on any pregnancy or baby I may (or may not) have.
So, as a result of the translocation, I have approximately a 70% chance of producing an ‘unbalanced’ egg. A pregnancy with one of these eggs would most likely either not even make it to implantation, or if it did, miscarry in the first trimester.
I would have a 15% chance of producing an egg with the same balanced translocation as myself – which should result in a normal pregnancy – and a 15% chance of producing a completely normal egg and subsequent normal pregnancy.
Add this to my PCOS diagnosis, and things were not looking good at all.
I went back to see my doctor to talk about embarking on the next cycle of IVF. To my surprise, the minute I walked through the door my doctor asked me how I felt about being referred to another specialist – the same one who had done my last FET, and the doctor we were hoping to see.
The new doctor was the head doctor at the clinic and apparently my case was different enough to warrant the switch to the ‘special’ specialist. I was pleased with this. Before leaving, I was sent out with forms for more blood tests – genetic testing to be completed to see if there was a reason so many of our embryos died.
I had the tests done while still at the hospital, eager to move onto the next step with the new doctor. Things were all looking very positive.
So our appointment with the new doctor came along, he changed the IVF medication protocol that I was on, had the ‘fat’ talk with me and left me feeling like this guy really knew what he was doing, and that this cycle would surely be successful.
But then we hit a little bit of a hurdle. Well, more like the Mount Everest of Hurdles. And it all started with a phonecall.
2 – the number of embryos that made it to ‘blastocyst’ stage and were able to be frozen.
Ouch. Out of 9 – really? I had been prepared to lose up to 50% but to lose 7 totally sucked (man I’m eloquent)
I had already worked out in my head how I would get pregnant from the first transfer and have lots of ‘frozen babies’ ready to go for my subsequent pregnancies. So slight reality check.
Nevermind – I stil had the frozen transfer to look forward to and it was going to work of course – why wouldn’t it?
And that’s the question I’m still asking. 2 months, 2 transfers, 0 pregnancies. During the second transfer cycle we started asking some questions. Was there an issue with the quality of the blastocysts? Could the loss of embryos from fertilization to freezing suggest bigger problems? Could the stuff up by the lab during the IVF cycle have affected the outcome? Yes, yes and yes were the answers.
We had a different specialist do our second transfer as our regular doctor was unavailable. It was he who answered the questions – honestly, directly and rather brutally. Things weren’t ideal, and they certainly weren’t normal. We were shaken by the news given by this doctor but we both liked him. We felt like he wasn’t sugar coating anything and that we were better off getting the brutal and honest truth than being kept in a state of pleasant ignorance.
While waiting for our next ‘game plan’ appointment with our regular doctor, we wondered about how difficult it would be to request a transfer to this doctor. Would this be best? Would it be possible? In the end it was easier to stay with what we knew. And of course it would be better this time. The first cycle was not ideal, and it was unfortunate that we would have to go through it again, but this time we would get it right and we would get pregnant. Wouldn’t we?
When it was time for the first round of IVF, I was excited. I thought that this would be it and things would finally start to happen.
I began injections and surprised myself by doing them easily (despite the bruising on my stomach making me look like I’d been sunbaking in a hail storm). Things moved slowly as my doctor had started me on low doses of the drugs due to my PCOS.
Then halfway through the cycle we hit a bit of a hurdle. Blood tests were not showing normal levels of estrogen and the doctor suggested that we might need to cancel the cycle. The thought of this was devastating. I was so sure this cycle would work and I would be pregnant. The doctor took one look at my tears and suggested we keep going for a couple more days to see if things changed.
So I fronted up to the next appointment with Marty in tow, bracing myself for the worst, but got some perplexing news instead. Apparently after two more days of injections, my estrogen levels were through the roof. The doctor had the lab re-run my previous results and it turns out they had initially got them wrong! Just ‘one of those things’ apparently. But for me it meant ovaries the size of watermelons and a strong chance of OHSS (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome). It also meant they couldn’t do a ‘fresh’ transfer on this cycle and that we would need to wait to the following month to do an FET (frozen embryo transfer). I was miffed but glad at least that the cycle hadn’t been completely abandoned due to the pathology lab’s cock up.
The egg pick procedure was booked and we ended up with 12 eggs, 9 of which fertilized. These were really pleasing results and we looked forward to having plently of day 5 embryos frozen for future transfers.
Big guns = IVF
That’s the message I got when I returned to the doctor after my three months of trying with no ‘luck’ (man I have grown to hate that word!)
The doctor said due to my age and relative lack of issues (yep – that’s what he thought at this stage) that we should have success ‘cutting out the middle man’ and heading to IVF.
I was actually excited by the prospect, but concerned that my husband would not. The whole way home I thought about how to tell him the news and get him to agree. I felt like I would need to sell the idea, to convince him this was what we needed to do. Each step of the way so far, I had been so much more emotionally vested in the process. I was not sure my husband felt strongly enough about the need to get pregnant to be prepared to turn to IVF.
These concerns turned out to be unwaranted. As soon as I told him what the doctor said, he immediately agreed to go to IVF. No convincing/begging/crying necessary! It was at this point that I realised he was now at the point where he was wanting it as much as me.
At this point, though, I did first start to harbour some resentment about the whole process. Why should we have to go through the emotional, physical and financial stress to have a baby when so many other women found it so easy? Was I any less deserving than them? I knew I would be a good mother. I was ready to be a good mother. And in my job – I meet plenty of not-so-good mothers. I started to develop a pretty severe case of the ‘why me’s?’
So, anyway, we had our appointment at the IVF clinic, found out the information – and the cost (yikes!) and prepared to start IVF with my next cycle. I came to terms with that fact that this would just have to be the process I would go through to have my baby, and that was OK.
I was nervous, excited and my sense of hope and confidence had well and truly been reignited. I fully believed that I would be successful first cycle. My luck was surely about to change.
Back to the doctor I went in March, ready for the next step and confident this would yield results.
I was booked in for surgery and actually found myself looking forward to it. The doctor said with many women, they found that they fell preganant within a couple of months after having the laproscopy. The ‘clean out’ apparently made it easier to get pregnant and I was convinced this is what would happen for me.
The surgery itself went smoothly. I had pain for a few days but it didn’t bother me as I had things to look forward to!
In my follow up appointment, the doctor confirmed the PCOS diagnosis after the surgery, but was happy to report there was no sign of endometriosis. He sent me off for three months of trying on our own. I left feeling happy and hopeful.
After three months passed, though, happy and hopeful had turned into worried and woeful.
After our second failed stint on Clomid, I returned to the doctor to hopefully get some answers.
To my horror, those answers apparently came in the form of Laproscopic surgery to take a closer look inside to hopefully find the cause of the problems and to do a bit of a clean out at the same time.
At this time I put the breaks completely. I was still not convinced my ferility problems were all that serious. After all, sometimes it just takes people a little bit longer than others, right? (hah!) I was also terrified at the prospect of having surgery and was not convinced it was necessary.
I told the doctor thanks but no thanks and decided to head down the natural therapies route for a while.
Now I’m going to skip pretty quickly over the next six months as, now, in the scheme of things for me, it seems a bit like time wasted. Not that I am saying natural therapies are a waste of time for everyone. I’m sure if my problems didn’t turn out to be so serious that this could have been quite a success and I am sure it is for many other couples. And I am still quite willing to use them, but will do so alongside conventional medicine.
All that really needs to be said is that after six months of charting temperatures, taking supplements and drinking special herbal concoctions that tasted pretty much like death in a bottle, I was no closer to my much longed for pregnancy.
Oh – the ‘natural ferility specialist’ did suspect I had an early miscarraige in this time. There’s a good chance I did, however I don’t really acknowledge it as such, as I never actually saw a positive test result, nor did I experience any of the emotion attached to losing a pregnancy. I almost don’t feel that it’s fair to say that I had a miscarraige, after reading the stories that so many women have. I can’t even begin to fathom that pain, and I guess that’s one of the few positives I can take from my journey – that I have never had to go through this. Anyway, I digress…
I decided to head back to the doctor, hat in hand, and ask to have the Laproscopy. Then, surely, I would have my answers and my baby.