Friday, June 13, 2014

Reflecting on a Failed IVF Cycle

Our first IVF cycle was a failure, but was it?  

Yes and no.  

No, I am not pregnant but, yes, we do have two frozen embryos for a frozen embryo transfer (or two depending on our Doctor's recommendation).  We have a follow up appointment on June 26 so I hope to know that information soon along with the protocol for a FET.

I am already at peace with our circumstance and am already moving forward.  My mother-in-law on the other hand is taking all of this very hard... Harder than us.  We knew the statistics.  We knew we had a 45% chance of success as opposed to the 20% chance in a medicated IUI.  We cautioned her to not get ahead of herself when she congratulated us on the transfer as if it meant we were automatically pregnant, but I don't think she was prepared for it not to work.

This makes me feel bad, of course.  It is moments like this that I can plainly see other peoples' desires and hopes for us.  It is times like this that true emotion peeks out of otherwise well-spoken and carefully-worded inquiries and responses from family members.  

Lesson learned: We will be keeping my sweet and well intended MIL in the dark about our frozen embryo transfer.  For her sake and ours:)   FYI the only people that knew what we were up to were our parents and select bosses.

I have been writing less here than I originally intended when we were cleared to go ahead with IVF.  Not for a lack of motivation, however.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Going into IVF I decided to write everything in a journal.  

My IVF journal included things like: 
  • Inspirational quotes 
  • Goals, fears and setting expectations
  • medical protocol
  • Appointment timeline
  • Lifestyle goals (diet, vitamins, eastern medicine)
  • Medication (notes & calendar)
  • Ultrasound & blood work results
  • Egg retrieval results, fertilization report, etc.
  • JOURNALING
Keeping this IVF journal was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I intended on using the journal as a way to keep everything in one place and a way to stay organized but, it quickly turned into something greater.  It was with me at all times and I just felt less overwhelmed and anxious having it to reference in my moments of confusion, worry and anxiety.  It helped calm me and put everything into perspective.  I thoroughly believe that keeping the journal was the single-most anxiety-diminishing exercise that I could have done for myself in the IVF cycle.

So in those moments that I probably would have hopped on this blog to write out some of my anxiety I found myself writing in the journal instead.  The physical act of writing also helped calm my nerves.  Here are the titles of my journal entries during the process:
  • Roller Coaster of Feelings - a proclamation of how I intended on using the journal and that it would probably be written in most during those difficult times.
  • PGD or No PGD? - I touched on this subject in a previous blog post here.
  • Today My Heart Aches - it was one of those days that your heart just hurts and longs to have your baby in your arms.  Ever have that feeling?  It doesn't happen to me often but when it does I just ache for a baby... It's almost like being in love but not having that love in return... That's the best way I can think to describe it.
  • Calm, Cool and Collected - an entry about being at peace with the IVF process and maintaining a calmness that to this day I am proud of (especially because I was calm until a few days before Beta Day-no small feat).  I was Zen, what can I say?  I do not think I will ever be able to fully explain why.
  • Dreams - crazy dreams.  Vivid dreams are uncommon for me.  I had been having many vivid dreams.  I dreamt twice about lightning.  "To see lightning in your dream signifies sudden awareness, insight, spiritual revelation, truth and purification"
  • Marathon Monday & Dreaming / Hoping for Ovulation - I had a little scare right before beginning Lupron.  I wasn't sure I ovulated which was a concern because I hadn't ovulated in the previous cycle.  It seems silly to think about how much I was worried at the time but it just goes to show you how this process can be all-consuming at times.
  • Anovulating - UGH - more worry about having to delay our IVF cycle due to delayed ovulation or anovulation.  Good times.
  • And so it begins - stimulation begins.  Nothing new here.  I've already done plenty of shots at this point so no biggie.
  • Feeling the Burn - my ovaries are feeling like they are responding.  Nothing too crazy but I know my ovaries are there when they are normally the silent hero/villain depending on my mood.  This chart was helpful to me in seeing if I was on track based on my stimulation day.
  • Too Busy to Journal - I am in an IVF whirlwind.  Ultrasounds and blood tests are frequent at this point and it is getting difficult to find the time to process my thoughts let alone find the time to write about them.
  • Calendars - I copied my two month calendar which highlights the shear volume and frequency of appointments, etc.  It is crazy to see it all in one place like that.  It really puts things into perspective.  This is a big deal, a true 'life event'.
  • 17 Eggs Woot Woot - egg retrieval day.  17 eggs!  It was surprisingly simple and pain free.  I was back at work the next day (at my desk job).  
  • The Two Worst Medical Questions - reflecting on egg retrieval day.  The anesthesiologist ask the two most painful medical questions... "How many pregnancies have you had?" and "How many living children do you have?" M My painful answer is '3' and 'no living children'.  It's a punch in the gut right before egg retrieval.  It just stinks.
  • Is this Real Life? - it almost doesn't feel real that we just had our egg retrieval.  It went so smoothly, and without side effects that it sort of feels like a dream.
  • The Holy Grail of Charts During the Wait Before Testing - I found myself coming back to this chart frequently.  It was fun to think about our embryos/morulas/blastocyst's progress each day.  I enjoyed visualizing them burrowing into my uterine lining and implanting themselves.
 

  • I am Feeling Down Today - I was 12 DPO and feeling out.  It was a bad day.  I tested and it was negative.  I was mad at myself because I wanted to wait until 13 DPO, for no particular reason, but I caved a day early.  This phrase really summed up my general feeling:
 

  • A Little Bit of Optimism - I was clinging to the hope that I could still be pregnant but just not testing positive yet.  I found a chart on fertility friend that helped me find the optimism I needed that day.
 
  • No Dice - Beta Day.  The official results were in.  A follow up appointment was scheduled.  I sense that the nurse was surprised that I didn't want to instantly hang up and cry when I requested to speak the the scheduler about setting up the follow up appointment.  I'm moving forward people.  There is no sense in dwelling on the negative results.  That doesn't accomplish much.  Instead I binged on bad food and skipped my pre-natals for a few days as I always do after a bad cycle.  Don't judge me.  We all have our thing, right?  Taking those stupid prenatal vitamins on the heels of a negative test is like adding insult to injury.  It is like they are taunting me and saying 'why do you even bother with us, you don't need this folic acid because you aren't pregnant'

At the end of all of this I still consider this cycle a success.  We have two frozen embryos... Two more chances at starting our family.  I will look back at this cycle with pride in our accomplishment and with a sense of peace that we did everything we could and did it without too much personal and physical sacrifice.

The only true side effect I had after all of the stimulation, retrieval and gooey medication after the transfer was some gas pains that at times became somewhat severe. But hey, as someone that has stomach ulcers, IBS and lactose intolerance it wasn't much different from an ordinary week.   More than you ever wanted to know I am sure.

Successful.  Truly successful in my book.

RIP to our two 8-cell embryos with slight fragmentation.  I cradled you as best as I could.

Rainshower: I did IVF and all I had to show for it was gas ;)
Rainbow: Seriously though, those two sweet frozen embryos are waiting on us.

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