Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not Dead Yet - Part 3

I wanted to give the polar body testing issue a post of it's own, in case anyone would have a comment that might help me with it. Because what is to come next is really a much bigger deal and deserves it's own post. It is a much bigger than I ever thought it would be.

Magic said to me the night after our follow-up, "I've been thinking that this is your dream, and I don't want to be the one holding you back. I would consider it." Donor eggs, that is. Yay!!

I was happy that night. I felt like I had choices. We both agree that we would only do donor eggs if I had one of two potential family members agree to donate their eggs to us. I began to see all the advantages of donor eggs:

1) Single embryo transfer. We would reduce the risk of multiples.
2) Greatly reduce the risk of genetic birth defects. We definitely run this risk with my older eggs.
3) Much greater chance of pregnancy and birth.
4) I wouldn't have to stress out over trying to produce eggs.

Logically, everything points to donor eggs.

So why do I have a sinking feeling in my gut?

Suddenly, I'm the one having a problem with donor eggs. My heart is not into it. I feel tremendous grief when I think about giving up on my eggs. I worked hard the last four years to regain and maintain my fertility. I would say it worked, up until the last 10 months. I think the frozen embryo transfer really screwed up my ovaries. Probably getting older doesn't help either.

I have been given the donor egg speech at least three times previously. I would either find another doctor or at least find a doctor who would allow me to cycle with my eggs. I had surgery to remove a pound of fibroids. I fooled all the tests with my Chinese medical treatments. I did get pregnant with my own eggs, but we could not have predicted the very small risk that happened to us because we did IVF/ICSI. You can try to plan for everything, but in the end, you just never know what is going to happen.

In my heart of hearts, I want to try one more time with my eggs. However, reality is not only dictated by what is in our hearts. Reality is always much more complicated. The financial crisis has hit us at home, and we are not in a position financially to do both one cycle with my eggs and a donor egg cycle if my eggs are not up to snuff. Heck, we are not in a position financially even to do one cycle period, but I will find a way to make it happen. I thank all of you who pointed out that less than 5% chance of pregnancy is better than zero percent chance. If there is anyone out there that believes in my eggs enough to donate $20k towards this cycle, then I would try again myself in a heartbeat.

I am not one to give up lightly. I have struggled with this for four years. I know that I am not producing estrogen and progesterone like I did when I was younger, and I am convinced this is the reason why my test results are less than stellar. I wonder if the estrogen priming protocol would be enough to help, though Dr. BloSun doesn't think so. I know how all the statistics work, and I also know how reality works, that is, not usually the way you think it works. I've studied the literature to well know that my test results do not bode well for IVF success. I have tried all the alternative treatments. I am not being negative; I am being realistic. I do not believe that hope and positive thinking alone will get me pregnant. I have been down that road too. Positive thinking is very helpful during IVF, but it is not the deciding factor. If money were no issue, I would take the "wish and a prayer" statistics and go for it.

On the other hand, if I do get pregnant with DE, I don't want to be second guessing my decision. Would I always be looking at my child, knowing that her genetics are not mine? Will I regret not having tried again with my eggs? I tell myself that genetics are not that important to me. I know that if my spirit baby comes, I won't care about the genetics. But it is a little white lie I tell myself. I do care, or at least I feel incredibly sad about giving up on my eggs. I feel like I am giving up on myself. I feel like a failure.

I don't know how to reconcile these feelings. Magic feels much the same way. He is not crazy about donor eggs, but is considering it for me. I am on the fence and feel like I can not move. One minute, I'm convinced that I should go with my heart and try with my eggs. The next, I see that my eggs are doomed and I'm in for donor eggs. Back and forth it goes. It is driving me mad. I can not choose. I now understand how hard this decision is. It is easy when you are looking on the outside at someone else's situation and say with confidence what you would do if you were in their shoes. This is a very personal decision and will not be made lightly.

I've been having a pretty good cycle. It gives me some hope that maybe my eggs are good after all. I know I ovulated, because I have been taking my basal body temperatures and they are up. I'm eight days past ovulation, and no period yet. That's pretty good for me. Last night, I had a hot flash. This surely means that if I do my Day 3 testing with my coming next cycle, my FSH will be elevated. When things like this happen, I do feel like my eggs are doomed. I am incredibly sad, even though I do have another choice. I know in my mind that I will have to grieve the loss of my eggs if we do go with donor eggs, but to experience it in my heart is a whole 'nother thing. It makes me feel hopeless. I don't know what to do.


Infertile In the City said...

To say that you are in a hard spot is to put it mildly.
I am sure that a component of the indecision lies in that IVF cycle where everything went to hell in a handbasket, no wonder you don't want to give up on your eggs.
So - I know you go to a top notch clinic, but, I have a little idea for you.
First - what about going to a clinic somewhere else (oh say Canada - where IVF is much cheeper and you can still pick a clinic with excellent success rates but not have to pay 20K - and if our dollar drops you save on the exchange!). This way you give your eggs another shot, and if for some reason it doesn't work (and you are going to have a family donation - which saves BIG time on having to pay a donor) then you can cycle again with donor eggs when you are financially and emotionally ready.

Only you can decide what you can live with, and if you need to work it out - you know how to find me.

NoodleGirl said...

Amen, I feel like I could have written this post myself, just not as well. I had made my peace with DE before this latest "surprise" natural pregnancy and now I find myself waffling on it again. I think if I did pursue DE, I would quickly get over any feeling of alienation from the baby. There is alot of medical literature nowadays that the recipient mother influences the fetus alot more than originally thought, for example:

"There is a whole emerging branch of science that shows that a pregnant woman actually influences the dna of the fetus, whether her egg or a donated one. It is called epigenetics. What you eat, and the biochemistry of your body, actually creates epigenetic changes in gene expression. It has also been proven that a pregnant woman's mental state affects the mental and emotional (personality) characteristics of her unborn child, which persist after birth."

Here is another great article about this too:

Finally, on the issue of EPP IVF protocol, this is just my experience: I had no better response to this than I did to Clomid or medicated IUIs. One follie total. This is not at all indicative of how others would respond, some people would have much improved cycles on EPP, so please don't take this as me discouraging its attempt. I just wanted to let you know my worst-case-scenario response.

For us the decision on DE or one more IVF is less financial, as we're lucky enough to have IVF covered by insurance. But it's more that the fertility medications seem to be causing other serious health complications for me, and we need to decide if it's worth the continued risk.

I'm anxious to read the polar body testing post. I have questions myself on that issue.

I'm sorry for the long comment -- I wanted to give you that DE info and then it just went on and on...

Jill M. said...

Phoebe, that's fantastic that your dh agreed to DE!!! I feel it's very normal for you to second guess this, this is a huge step. I know the amount of work you have put into your fertility doesn't help moving to DE either. It's frustrating that finances stop us from persuing our dream of having a child. I wish you could cycle with your eggs one more time and then move onto DE if need be, but who can afford all that?

I wouldn't stress too much about genetics as far as bonding. I believe you would be so attached to that baby as you would be carrying it and giving birth to it. Moving onto DE does NOT make you a failure. There's not a single woman out there who's eggs don't age, it's biology.

I know the ultimate plan would be to try your eggs one more time and then DE. Is there anyway you could swing this? Could you try a different clinic that doesn't cost as much but still has good success rates? Maybe the cost savings could possibly allow you to do both OE and DE. I'm trying to think outside the box but I'm just not coming up with a perfect solution.

Well anyway, I do understand and I'm here rooting you on no matter which decision you make.

DAVs said...

I feel your pain. I was given the DE speech at age 33 and then again at age 34. I waffled, I agonized, I would feel one way and be fine and then the total opposite the next day and fine. Well, never fine, but like "I can do this." Then I'd freak out all over again. Like you said, it's just so intensely personal there is no way anyone's situation is the same, so no way to compare yourself to what others have decided. I wish it were easier, and mostly I just wish you peace with your decision. You're one of the most dedicated persons I know to improving egg quality, that much I know. I also know you'll be a great mother to any child, whether they are genetically yours or not. I'm just rambling, I wish I had something concrete.
HUGS? It's all I've got!

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

Oh, Phoebe, it makes so much sense that you're grieiving. I imagine I would feel a lot like you do, especially given how much you have loved your eggs and have sought to help them be healthy, and given how much you have pursued and loved your spirit baby. It would be a real loss if you couldn't cycle with your own eggs, and you've dealt with so many losses already, so I totally get why you're grieving and waffling! I wish I had great advice (but it looks like you have readers who do have some good advice, so yay!) I hope that you can find a stellar solution that brings you peace.

Beautiful Mess said...

I can't say "I know how you feel", however, I can say that I would have a hard time deciding on DE, too. It's a big decision and it isn't one to make on a whim. You're smart and cautious, so of course you will waffle. No matter what you decide or what process you go through as you decide, I'll be here for you. I'll do everything I can to support you and help out when I can.

Mad Hatter said...

Oh, my dear Yin sister, I wish I could wave a magic wand (no pun intended) and make things different for you. It's so much to bear, this whole thing. I know you have worked so hard these past four years to improve your fertility and overall health - this will be so good for a healthy pregnancy, with your eggs or not. If you do decide to try a cycle in Canada, as Infertile In the City suggests, let me know if you decide to come to Toronto and I can tell you about my clinic and do some research for you about others. Thinking of you and giving you a great big hug.

Sweet Georgia said...

Phoebe, we are in similar boats, you and I. I know how difficult this decision is and even though I'm almost sure of what to do, I know what you mean about feeling like a failure. It's not a logical feeling - to be a success we would have to be able to control the outcome of our fertility. We are not in control... no matter how positive we think, or what TCM we try or how well we take care of our bodies. The final decision is out of our hands. And, therefore, we are not failures... we're simply passengers on an IF journey. I hate that about this struggle. DEs is a huge step to take and it is a tough decision to have to make.

DD said...

You mentioned that you have two relatives you could look to as possiblities to donate eggs. Right there is the genetic connection. Of course, I understand what you meant and I mean no insult.

For us, we couldn't understand how we could have our first child under normal circumstances but only a few years later, we were given the donor sperm AND egg talk. I struggled like you are plus I had to factor in the potential I might favor my "biological" child over a donor.

NOTHING could be further from the truth. I am grateful every day for the medical technologies and forward thinking scientists who made it possible for us to have our little girl.

Also, my lab tests, cycles, etc. are all pin-point perfect. No one could have guessed my eggs had turned, but after several BFN and miscarriages, the proof was where it could not be found in any test out there. My ovaries turned to crap at 36, but thankfully the uterus doesn't depend on hormones. It's an organ that can do its job well into its 70s if it had to (but hell no!). I hope your clinic offers counseling in this. I highly recommend you take advantage of it if they do. Otherwise, look to Stirrup Queen's list of blogs for DE blogs and you'll see that you are not alone, no matter what path you decide to take.

Lost in Space said...

First I am so thrilled that Magic has opened this door for you. It sure does add another dimension to the complexity of your decision, but it is another option.

It's so fresh and new to you yet that it makes perfect sense why you are struggling what to do. I don't think many of us started down this journey thinking of DE as our first choice.

I know how sucky it is to get that DE speech (x2) and I know how sucky it is to make this kind of decision. It is as unique and personal as each of us. Try living a few days as if you made the decision one way and then live the next few as the other way and see how each makes you feel. And I mean really believe and live the path you choose for that time.

Hugs, my dear. I wish this weren't so hard.

mekate said...

oh sweetie,
yeah. i get it. both things-- wanting to want to do DE for all the wonderful reasons you mention (maybe it would just work!), and just not being ready to give up on my own eggs quite yet.

I have no advice at all, but am glad your darlin is on board should you want to go the DE route- that matters so much, it opens an option for you, and that is wonderful.

I am not even kidding but we looked into the czech republic and barbados for IVF "vacation" (such bullshit that is, whoever thought of that must have had a different IVF experience than mine).

wishing you all the best.
always always,