K and I are attempting to make lemonade out of this lemon of a cycle. We have 3 mature follicles and my lining is over 10mm, a personal best. The RE gave us the multiples speech but also said triplets was “exceedingly unlikely.” Me getting pregnant at all feels exceedingly unlikely. But hey, thanks for letting me know doc! Tomorrow at 11am we do the IUI. So, fingers crossed or something.
4 follicles. That’s what I’ve got. The other 3 are shrinking instead of growing. WTF. RE gave us the options of canceling the cycle, doing IUI instead or moving forward with the retrieval. K and I have a super shitty decision to make now.
I’ve decided that I’m going to stop feeling bad about hanging my dark cloud here on this blog. I’m not a debbie downer in real life. I don’t think everything sucks. I don’t throw temper tantrums at the slightest disappointment. I’m funny and I’m fun to be around. I come here to let those things out. So I’m done trying to be less sad and negative and disappointed here. This is where I come to throw the chairs and pull everything off the table. This is where I get to let it all out. Anonymously. So that I can be a friendly happy person in my day to day life.
And let’s be honest: this sucks! My ovaries fucking suck. And for that matter, so does my stupid uterus that can’t hold onto an embryo. I hate all of this.
It’s been awhile since I posted. I left off right around the time that we discovered that reciprocal was not an option for us. Since then, we went on a 2 week trip to Taiwan and started a new round of IVF. This cycle we are doing a micro Lupron flare protocol. I primed with birth control and 21 days of testosterone prior to the start of our cycle, which officially began July 3rd.
Today was my first monitoring appointment. Y’all, I really don’t want to be the whiny type. I really want to tell you how wonderful things are going. The only problem is that things just aren’t going that well. I started off at baseline with an AFC of 10. It’s decent. I admit I was hopeful for more because the testosterone was supposed to boost things. Today I had 7 follicles that were growing. 3 of them were only 4mm in size. This has me so nervous. I know I’ve got a bit of time for things to turn around so I’m trying not to panic. But I admit it’s really hard. The RE anticipates that I will stim for longer than 10 days to hopefully let some of the smaller eggs mature. The problem with that is I will undoubtedly lose some of the ones that are larger now. The biggest was 9.5mm. So realistically, I’m probably looking at a retrieval of 5 eggs or less. I had such a huge lump in my throat on the way home from the clinic.
There is always heavy attrition in an IVF cycle and the attrition increases from days 3 to 5. If all of my eggs retrieved fertilize I still may end up with nothing on day 5. I cannot even put into words how terrifying this prospect is. It makes me feel so hopeless. I did not expect to struggle this much for no obvious reason. IVF for us should have been a sure bet, even more so because we have 2 sets of female reproductive parts. I feel like we’ve been shot down at every turn.
The hard part too is that on paper I look good. My AMH is good, my AFC is decent. I’ve gotten comments from other women undergoing IVF that they would “give their right arm” for my numbers. But the numbers are just part of the equation and so far in my case, have proven to be meaningless. It’s so hurtful to get dismissed because I have “good numbers.” It’s been a bizarre experience to feel like I am not infertile enough, but I’m also clearly not fertile. I just never imagined we would find ourselves so far down this rabbit hole. It’s hard to see others go through this process almost effortlessly while we have struggled at every single turn.
To end on a good note, our trip to Taiwan was amazing. I love to travel with K. If I could choose one thing in this world to do for the rest of my life it would be traveling with K. We always have a great time. We ate amazing food in Taipei, walked along gorgeous mist covered trails through picturesque tea farms in the high mountains of Alishan, rode scooters around the one road on Green Island, snorkeled, swam, and in general just enjoyed the shit out of each other’s company. Hands down my favorite thing with my favorite person. It was a much needed time away from things here. I loved being away but I was definitely happy to cuddle with our pups upon returning.
I go back for another monitoring appointment Thursday morning so I’ll update following that.
I started my period over the weekend last weekend. Only it was a really strange one and only lasted 2 days. For real, 2 days. I’ve had a lot of wonky periods but that was a first. I was concerned that maybe I had an anovulatory cycle but I let the RE know anyways so they could do all the CD 1 stuff to get us ready for our next retrieval. Ultrasound showed that I had 9 follicles. A disappointing number but not terrible. She said I looked “at baseline” meaning it was a real, albeit short period.
I started birth control pills Monday night and I will stay on them until I start stims, sometime at the end of June or early July. They also drew labs and ordered the testosterone patches. Some of the labs have come back and they have been mostly normal. My FSH was high again at 11.9, so I guess that confirms that my fertility is quite literally falling off a cliff as I sit and write this post. Maybe we should have just went right to IVF instead of wasting time with a known donor. We wasted a whole precious year. It won’t do me any good to wallow there though. I am more sure than ever that we have to do this retrieval now. It can’t wait.
My AMH is still pending so we’ll see what that shows. Part of me wishes of course that the number will be above 1 and our retrieval will be really successful. The other part of me feels so weary that I almost welcome a bad number because it means we can stop all of this and either not have children or pursue another path. In a way it would be a relief. Though I feel worried I’m trying not to focus on it but instead focus on the things I can control like taking my supplements and the birth control. Aside from that, this cycle is a whole lot of waiting because we are doing a 21 day priming cycle first. I will update when I get my AMH result, probably sometime next week.
So, we just got back from K’s ultrasound appointment and well, we got interesting news. She does have 2 kidneys, one is a pelvic kidney that is sitting next to her right ovary. Her other ovary is hidden behind a 3 cm fibroid. The MRI confirmed a unicornuate uterus. The RE basically said that retrieving eggs from her ovaries would be very risky because of the placement of her kidney. The risk of perforating her kidney or a ureter would be much higher for her. She described the symptoms of a perforated ureter as “urine leaking out of your vagina.” The RE also said “don’t worry it can be fixed, we just insert a stint and in a few months everything is back to normal!” At this point, my internal expression was similar to this:
The RE went on to say that one option for retrieval would be to go in laparoscopically but since this is not covered by insurance and we are talking general anesthesia, that’s not happening. The RE felt that going in vaginally and abdominally both would not work because of her anatomy and the fibroid. She felt that even with removing the fibroid the risk of perforating her ureter or her kidney would be too high so neither of those are good options. She said that if K was dead set on carrying a pregnancy then she would recommend donor eggs because of all of the risks involved retrieving hers. Basically, her eggs are not retrievable.
So, we have closed the book on using K’s eggs or uterus on our journey to make a baby. She has always been very firmly against the idea of being pregnant which given all of this feels quite serendipitous, as none of her parts are very serviceable for making or carrying babies.
That leaves my antiquated parts. We talked a little about a timeline and what will happen next. On CD 1 I will repeat an ultrasound and more labs then begin birth control and 21 days of testosterone gel. The RE said this would hopefully increase my follicle count and the number of mature high quality eggs retrieved. I will also do human growth hormone once a follicle of 10mm is seen on ultrasound. And she recommended a micro FLARE protocol to hopefully get a better result at retrieval.
Fingers crossed this one works. I can’t even think about how I will feel if it doesn’t so I’m just going to press forward with the hope that our results will be much better this time around. I have about a month to figure out where we will get the rest of the money for the cycle. I’m pretty sure we can do it without putting anything on the credit cards, but I suppose that’s always an option.
K is getting her post-clomid challenge ultrasound tomorrow morning. Her arms are seriously bruised from all of the blood draws and the IV for the MRI contrast. They had to draw off of a vein on the front of her *bicep*. :O I didn’t even know that was possible. Her MRI showed that she has 2 kidneys which is a relief. One is in the wrong spot, but hey, at least it’s there doing it’s job (presumably). No confirmation yet on the unicornuate uterus or news on other findings if any from the MRI.
We will know more about how her body responds to stims and whether there are more follicles in there that can’t be seen after her ultrasound tomorrow and hopefully we can form some sort of tentative plan. I’m getting antsy to try again. I should be starting a new cycle in about 10 days so if we are moving forward with retrieving my eggs I want to hurry and get things into place so I don’t miss this cycle.
Anywho, hopefully we get some good news and a plan tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed.