I’m so excited to finally share more of my infertility and in vitro
journey with all of you. I thought I would be able to finish this all in one post but who am I kidding? There is so much more to the story that I think it’s only fair to break it up a bit. A few of you had some questions regarding my previous post, My Infertility and In Vitro Journey
. Specifically regarding the fact that I was able to move forward to the Clomid phase a little quicker than others. I really feel that my infertility process moved faster for me because I had a dad who was a surgeon and as a result I have always been extremely pushy with everything that has to do with my health and doctors. I had also tried to get pregnant before going in and made sure to document those steps to show the doctors what I had already tried. It’s one of those games you have to play unfortunately with insurance and I knew what I needed to say and show more in order for things to move along.
Celebrating our 4th anniversary just as we decided to begin IVF
As soon as we decided to go the in vitro route, the biggest weight lifted off of me. It just felt so comforting having a direction and knowing that we were going to do everything we could to have a baby. During the years (1993-1994) when I did in vitro, insurance was not involved at all and so I was able to take control of my situation without interference. Nowadays, insurance covers part of it at times and for some, all of it.
My parents and Jeff were so supportive as was the rest of our family and it was such an exciting time. I researched all the different in vitro clinics in the area but before we began IVF my doctor wanted me to try one last ditch effort to see if they could open my tubes. We went to a specialist where they spent several hours in surgery trying to open my tubes. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. My tubes were completely blocked.
After that we headed to SF to work with a fertility group known for great numbers of live births at UCSF. My dad worked for the Joint Commission (rates all the hospitals in the country) and he had been a surgeon and Chief of Staff of a hospital for years so I was familiar with ways to research different programs and how to find a great clinic.
I knew that working closely with a university is always a good thing. They are always on the cutting edge with budgets that enable them to try new advances with research.
We first met the doctors and then they began the process with us. Jeff had to learn how to inject shots into my hip to help me produce more eggs. They gave everyone oranges and grapefruits to practice on and that was his first test.
I have to say that Jeff was really hands-on throughout. He jumped in and never complained and was incredible as a partner. The first shot he gave me was a little painful but after that he got to where he was a pro. ;) We had to continue this until we had enough eggs to work with.
They told me as they monitored me throughout the beginnings of the process that lots of follicles were developing. Such a great sign! My body was responding well to the meds in terms of the ‘quantity of eggs’ I was going to be able to produce. We were thrilled. I had always envisioned a large family with lots of children.
The next step was egg retrieval. They felt I had produced enough follicles and they had gotten to the stage where they should be.
Egg retrieval is when they pull the eggs out of you, mix them with the sperm in a petrie dish, then watch them to see if they grow correctly and look healthy. Then they place the remainder or the decided amount of embryos that look best back inside of you at the right time your body is ready.
This is the stage when you cross your fingers, say your prayers and hope for the miracle of life to take.
I have to admit that the retrieval process was a little painful for me. The doctor inserted a long needle through my vaginal wall and removed each egg. (They numb you but I still felt a little pain)
The egg then journeys through the tube to another room where the tech people do what they do. They then mix your healthy eggs with the sperm.
Once the egg retrieval was over we went home and waited. The doctors weren’t sure if it was my body’s response to the medication or what but out of the 24 eggs they retrieved, only 17 looked viable and out of that number, just a few looked like they could possibly work. I was so frustrated. How come my eggs weren’t developing well? I was sooo young!
Of the 17 embryos only 6 looked good. Out of the 6 embryos, two of them weren’t rated high but four looked pretty good. We decided to put four back in and freeze the other two.
Even though placing 4 back in gave us a higher chance for multiple births we knew that the odds were that only one or two would take. We decided to throw caution to the wind and see what happens.
To be honest, out of the 4 embryos placed inside of me… only two really looked great. The other two weren’t considered as good in terms of ratings for embryos.
Back then when I did in vitro, as soon as they removed your eggs they felt it was important to put everything back inside of you as quickly as possible. They try to keep the entire process as close to a natural environment as they can. We were told our embryos would be placed inside of my uterus after just a day or two.
What they have since learned is that by keeping the embryos out a little longer and letting them get to the blastocyst stage, there is a higher chance of implantation. I wish they had known that back then.
Suffice it to say we found out that we weren’t pregnant after that first try. I remember it was April 1st and I kept saying to Jeff that it was a horrible April Fool’s joke. I cried over lunch at Piatti’s at Stanford mall and what I remember most is Jeff’s concerned face looking at me. He has always been my rock. He could only do so much. This process was just so expensive I didn’t know if we would be able to do it again. The only thing that helped me at that point was knowing that we had a couple of frozen embryos left. One reason why I wasn’t jumping up and down was the fact that we were told frozen embryos have a higher rate of not making it through the thaw. I only had two.
My first baby, Chelsea
Several weeks later we forged ahead and attacked the frozen embryos transfer. The nice thing with the frozen embryos is that we didn’t have to go through producing eggs again. While it was nice skipping those hormones I did have to take the hormones to prepare my body for implantation.
After you take the first batch of hormones to get pregnant they give you another batch of hormones to resemble your body being pregnant so that your body will accept the embryos. So much science involved. Ugh
Unfortunately the two frozen embryos didn’t take either and it was at that point that I felt completely depressed. I really did not know if we would be able to do this again. $12-$15,000 cash is a lot of money.
My parents were wonderful and helped us with the first attempt and Jeff did all he could to support me but I began to wonder if I was being selfish by trying something that has such a low rate of probable pregnancy/life birth.
At the time in vitro did not have a 40% on up positive pregnancy rate. It was more like 20 to 40% and none of my embryos looked very good. If we did in vitro all over again would the same thing happen?
Not letting this ruin my life we decided to try one more time. The difference this time was the doctors approach. Knowing what they knew about my egg quality the last time around they decided to go for a lower amount of eggs this time and instead direct their attention at the quality of eggs. A slower growth rate if you will. We took less of the medicine and drew it out over a longer period of time. They also switched the medication to help stimulate my eggs. We were very hopeful that both of these considerations would help the outcome this time.
We couldn’t wait to hold a baby…
We were really excited this 3rd time around. Having a great new approach felt like a good thing. Jeff even flew with me to Miami as I worked a trip to give me shots. The amazing miracle in this is that the in vitro clinic director was on my flight and sitting in first class where I was working. Jeff was sitting in first as well and she and her husband were just coming back from their honeymoon. This situation gave me an opportunity to talk to her about my case. She was not my doctor so she did not know everything about my in vitro attempts. After telling her my story she told me she would take a look at everything when she got back to the clinic. A week later they pulled out my eggs and the doctors told me that the director who I had met on my flight decided to take over my case. She wanted to see how the embryos would react under her care. I was so excited.
Unfortunately two days later she called me and told me the news I did not want to hear. She said that the embryos were not developing the way she would like and she decided to hold off on the implantation process until another day or two had passed. I was devastated and I remember hanging up the phone thinking I couldn’t believe this is happening all over again.
This time around I only had 11 eggs retrieved and out of that 11, only four had developed properly enough to be considered. Out of that four, only two looked remotely good. They placed all four inside of me and all I could do was go home and try and remain positive.
So much more to the story. Click HERE
for part 3…