Well it's only day three of hormones and let me tell you, shit has escalated quickly. I'm already only comfortable wearing elastic waist banded pants exclusively. I cried at the movie "Dead Pool." I flipped out on my husband, screaming at him that buying deck furniture was the WORST decision we've ever made after having to bring cushions inside due to rain. And the Menopur injection is decorating my abdomen with really attractive black and blue bruises.
Somehow it didn't dawn on me that my doctor had actually doubled my dosage of hormones this protocol. I knew I did 75 units of both Follistim and Menopur (injectable hormones that stimulate your ovaries to produce mature eggs) every night for my first round of IVF. My doctor clearly explained that he'd be upping my hormones to 150 units each, but math was never my strong suit.
I should probably rewind and give a little recap of my first round of IVF and how I got the pleasure of experiencing the joy of a second round of stimming.
In March we started on what we assumed was the last time we'd be doing a cycle of hormones. With unsuccessful IUIs and timed intercourse under our belts, it was time for the real deal. If IUI was the opening band, IVF was the headliner and we paid A LOT of money for front row.
Since I had only taken oral hormones with one single trigger shot for my other cycles, I was pretty nervous to start daily injections. My excitement and adrenaline outweighed the pain of needles to the stomach and all of the sexy side effects, at least for the first few days.
For eight days Michael injected me every night with stimulating hormones between 6-9 pm. After the first four days of hormones, he also started giving me another injection, Ganirelix, a holding drug to keep me from ovulating at 6 am. Nothing like starting and ending your day with injecting hormones in your stomach.
In the meantime, every other day I went to my doctor's office for an ultra sound and blood work. A nurse would call that afternoon with test results and instructions. I was prepared for 10-12 days of stimming, so I was surprised when they called on day eight telling me I was ready to go. That night I did my trigger shot, a time release hormone, so that 36 hours later I would ovulate and go in for my egg retrieval.
I was scared shitless for my egg retrieval, even thought I knew I would be in a twilight. The idea of my doctor going in vaginally with a needle, and actually taking out each egg freaked me out. Besides the fact that I was awake when I went spread eagle with a million lights pointing at my vagina in front of a crowd of people in an operating room, the actual procedure itself was a breeze. I actually felt relief when I woke up and recovered pretty quickly.
They retrieved 22 eggs. 22. That's a lot of freaking eggs. No wonder I could feel my ovaries move when I walked. Because we had so many eggs, we decided that we wanted to fertilize the eggs half ICSI (when they inject one egg with one sperm) and half conventionally (when they pour the best sperm over the egg in a petrie dish). We wanted to transfer the embryros that were more "naturally" fertilized, but the ICSI assured that we would have embryos incase the conventional method didn't work.
The nurses gave us instructions to go home and call the next day to find out how many embryos we had. We left so incredibly confident. All we had to do was go home, relax and prepare for a Day 5 blastocyst transfer. I had five full days to recoup and relax. And with 22 eggs, we would for sure have enough embryos to freeze so that I'd never have to do another round of hormones again.
To say we were excited would be an understatement. We went home and picked out names and nursery colors. I started a Pinterest Board for by baby shower. (Yes, I know I'm a basic bitch.) They were making our babies as we sat at home and discussed potential school districts for our children. This was happening.
You can imagine my disbelief when I called the hospital the next morning and the embryologist informed me that only three of my eggs had successfully fertilized. THREE. We had only three embryos out of 22 eggs. Zero of the conventional eggs fertilized. ZERO. Not one. Then out of the 11 that were fertilized with ICSI, only three of them successfully divided into embryos.
She informed me that the doctor changed us from a Day 5 blastocyst transfer (which has a higher success rate of implantation) to a Day 3 embryo transfer. They had to move it up in fear that all three of the embryos wouldn't survive outside of my uterus. This was not part of the plan. This wasn't right.
This is when I started to lose hope. I tried to stay positive, but I was sick. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't pretend to be excited. I was worried. I was no longer riding a high. I was faced with the possibility that this may not work. And if this doesn't work, I will have to start over. There will be no embryos to freeze. I was defeated before I even went to the transfer.
When we got to the hospital the morning of the transfer, I did everything in my power to stay calm. We had to wait for the doctor to tell us the grade of our embryos. I was sure they weren't going to be good. When he came in and told us we would be transferring an 8A and 9B, I was thrilled. This was the good news we needed.
The transfer itself was the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced. Michael sat behind me and held my hand while we watched our two little embryos go into my uterus, like little shooting stars. It was perfect.
I held onto that moment for the next two weeks while we waited to find out if the embryos had successfully implanted. For anyone who has experienced the two week wait, you know it's hell. You just wait. You try not to google. Try not to analyze every little thing your body does, but it's close to impossible.
My two week wait ended early when I woke up on day 24 of my cycle with my period. Those perfect little embryos didn't implant. IVF didn't work. The third embryo didn't survive to freeze. This was not what was supposed to happen. I had just gone through all of that for nothing. I had nothing to show, but 10 extra pounds and a massive emotional break down.
Once Michael and I dealt with reality, mourned the fact that it didn't work, we immediately made an appointment with our doctor and chose to move forward. It wasn't easy. It was shit. Absolute shit. But, we got through it and we grew stronger.
Through our failed IVF cycle Our doctor learned so much on a cellular level and came up with a brand new protocol for us. I was wrong, I did have something to show from that failed cycle. We were able to learn what's been going on and were able to speculate why it is that we haven't conceived.
Michael's sperm wasn't able to penetrate my egg (apparently I have a hard shell), so we'll do 100% ICSI this time. We've doubled the amount of my hormones to ensure I'll have plenty mature eggs, ready to be fertilized. They're going to do assisted hatching (cutting a slit in the embryo with a laser before transfer) so that the embryos will have a better chance of implanting.
So now we have a brand new protocol, a brand new game plan, a brand new roller coaster to ride. What will happen if this cycle doesn't work? It's going to suck. A lot. But we'll mourn, we'll learn and we'll get back in line to strap in again.
That's the beauty of this roller coaster, as quickly as you fly down the hill, the momentum shoots you right back up again.