Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Follow-Up

I was pretty upset after our follow-up appointment with Dr. BloSunMyCha. I didn't think the news was very good, but after doing more research and reflecting on it, I guess it wasn't that bad. I think what makes me nervous is staring down the barrel of a gun. That's what embarking on another IVF cycle at 42 or 43 feels like. I described the IVF stats to my acupuncturist yesterday like this:

IVF at age 40: Stats are dismal at 40.
IVF at age 41: What, are you fucking crazy?
IVF at age 42: Shoot me now.

Em, my acupuncturist, pointed out to me that 35% pregnancy rates at 42 isn't that bad. True, this is BigShotFertilityClinic, after all, but those stats still make me nervous.

I felt good about our embryos being "normal", at least as far as they could tell, after thaw. Embryos with above 70% cell survival rate are considered normal, and ours had 80% cell survival. I made "normal" embryos at age 41, so I could possibly do it again. I asked Dr. BloSunMyCha if they would have done assisted hatching if we had allowed it. He said that they normally do AH with FET. This statement was in direct contrast to what he said to me when I told him that we could not agree to AH in good conscious if it increased the chance of identical twinning. I felt crappy about not agreeing to AH after our meeting, but realized that we would not have agreed to it anyways, so no point in second guessing ourselves. The only way to know if our embryos are normal is to do genetic testing, which I discussed in my last post.

One thing I love about blogging is finding other women who have also been to BigShotFertilityClinic and finding out what they were told about genetic testing. I have since learned some comforting news. It appears that I do not necessarily need 10 embryos at day 1, but at least 10 eggs at retrieval. I can do that. I've already done it once. My FSH needs to be lower than 10. I have no idea what it is since it hasn't been tested in two years. My anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) needs to be above 0.6. I have never been tested for that, so no clue there either.

As long as I pass Day 3 testing, we can move forward with another cycle. Day 3 testing will include FSH, LH, estrogen, and AMH. If my FSH isn't sky high, I can move forward. The new protocol is Estrogen Priming Protocol with human growth hormone and probably max stims. No BCPs! I think I still stick with the antagon type protocol too, which means no lupron either!! I'm happy about the protocol, if there is something to be happy about doing another IVF cycle. I'm allowing myself to do Day 3 testing and make our decisions from there.

My current plan-du-jour is to get my body ready for the Day 3 testing. I don't think I will be ready this next cycle, though Dr. BloSunMyCha would let me. Besides, I need to get my follicles ready. My plan is to do the Day 3 testing the cycle after this next one, which would be the end of May. If everything looks good, then we would make plans to move forward with IVF #3. Right now, I'm thinking the actual egg retrieval would happen mid-July, which would give me three solid months to work on egg quality.

I've cracked open my already worn copy of "The Infertility Cure" by Randine_Lewis, going straight to Chapter 10, Advanced Maternal Age. There are some great stories in here about women getting pregnant in their forties with the help of Chinese medicine. I have read this chapter many times before. The one statement that sticks in my head is that the time it takes for a resting follicle to develop into a full-blown egg ready to be released is up to 150 days. FIVE MONTHS!! I'm giving myself three months, knowing that the last three months I have already been taking pretty good care of myself. I'll be writing future posts on what my egg quality improvement protocol will be. Heck, I've already started, but I know I'll be doing some more tweaking.

The challenging part will not to get stressed about this whole process. I'm trying to approach this seemingly huge undertaking that it will be good for my health, regardless of whether we actually go through with another IVF cycle. I will also be using this time to "fund raise". Grovelling will probably be involved, as well as looking at ways to sell off things of value.

I had two days this week when I felt really happy just as I was. I wondered how long it would last and if I could just be happy with my life as it is. It only lasted two days. I'm not ungrateful for my life. I know I have a lot of good things going for me without children. I've always wanted to feel that happy whether I was going through fertility treatments or living child-free.

The grief I have been feeling at this latest loss is greater than I would have expected. Part of the grief is seriously looking down the child-free road. I thought this FET was it, and I could not possibly take another IVF cycle. The truth is, I did a lot of healing in this FET cycle. It forced me to face my trauma and work through a lot of it. I've come a long way from how scared and freaked out I felt in my first IVF cycle. The truth is I can do this. But this truly is it, one more shot. Do I have to be ok with the child-free path, because otherwise, am I going to put too much pressure on myself going through another cycle?


MamaSoon said...

For now, if you are going to try to have a child, then state your intention and go for it. I don't think this is like a career path where you need a plan B at all times... Go for it! Be where you are and go for the gold!

DAVs said...

I'm glad you feel better about moving forward. Of course I'll be reading about your egg quality improvement efforts--I'm doing mega anti-oxidants, no alcohol, zippo caffeine, no artificial sweeteners, daily exercise (and I do mean DAILY), no meat, organic dairy, and of course the TCM....but oh yeah, there's the sugar thing. Egads. Do share your techniques!

Best When Used By said...

I really like your thoughtfulness, the fact that you are not rushing into this on your next cycle, the fact that you are reading and preparing yourself and your body as best you can.

I hope the new protocol is a success and I'm pulling for you!

Duck said...

Just fyi, I'm 30 and with our 29 eggs we think that we had tops 2 good embryos, so you're doing great, age sch-mage.

Please share what you are doing, I should be prepping, but other than the supplements, I have not been able to do a thing to improve my eggies.

I too am feeling,well messed up. Looks like we are cycling together in july :)

Lost in Space said...

So glad you are feeling better about moving forward. It sounds like you have a great plan in place for making sure you have the best quality eggs you can.

All you can do is go for it. I know it's hard not to think about the "what ifs" after the cycle, but there is nothing you can do to know how it will go or prepare for it. I am hoping for only the best!!

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

definitely thinking of you!

WiseGuy said...

You have to go forward...think ahead...

The dream is achievable and I hope that the upcoming cycle can do it for you...Your protocol looks huge and has several details...just remembering them and making to appointments would induce stress. I hope you shall be able to keep your head above the water.