Day 5 scan – feeling deflated

Well, I’m feeling a little disappointed this morning. Had a day 5 scan and looks like there are only 4-5 follicles growing. My left ovary is almost totally asleep.

So frustrating, I had 10 follicles in my last cycle (which we didn’t use as it was a frozen cycle) and 7 the time before. I’ve had 4-5 day 5 follicles in the past, back in the days when I knew nothing about IVF and was living in blissful oblivion of DHEA, CoQ10 and all the other ‘magical cures’ I’ve been chugging. My effort with diet, supplements, gallons of water etc don’t seem to have made any difference.

There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it, my blood work has been almost exactly the same for each cycle. It’s the good old IVF ROLL OF THE DICE again. The doctor said it’s normal to have fluctuation between cycles and ‘it only takes one’, blah blah blah. I know it only takes one but I’m fed-up. I feel like a failure again. Aren’t we due some good luck by now? Why me? Why us? Why is God/Allah/the Universe not cutting us some slack?

We’ve decided to go ahead as planned. I’m worried if I cancel this cycle I’ll have 2 follicles next time, or maybe none at all, and will regret missing this opportunity. I’m also not getting any younger. I asked the doctor what he would do and he pointed out that he doesn’t have a crystal ball, but that we only really need one good embryo. That’s true, but what we really need is one positive pregnancy test. Hopefully my measly follicles will produce THE one this time around.

A Few Words on Guilt

I haven’t posted recently as I’ve been in the US of A for the last two weeks – one week of work in Chicago followed by a fun road trip (holiday) down to Kentucky and Nashville with the DH. It was great –  I slept like a baby, I caught up with my dear friend in Chicago, the weather was fab and I hardly thought about work at all during that second week.

But….

…. then there’s the guilt.

One of the worst things about IVF is the constant fear that you’re not doing something, or that you’re doing something wrong or that you could be doing something better. Mostly related to diet, vitamins, smoking, exercise, booze and stress. There is a whole industry built around this, preying on women who are low on luck and high on hope. There are a gazillion fertility forums dedicated to the discussion of ‘things you should definitely do to improve your chances’, most of which are not based on medical evidence but still matter in crazy IVF world. All of this distills to an overriding feeling of anxiety and… guilt.

I feel guilty because I let everything slide during my holiday. I put on a few pounds (I have a bit of unwanted jiggle in the belly department). I ate everything I wanted,  regardless of protein or carb content, including ice cream and awesome fried chicken. I did very little exercise apart from a couple of runs and a very long sweaty day on a bike in 35c heat. I drank a beer or two every few days. I had a coffee almost every morning. I did remember to take my supplements every day so I wasn’t completely useless I suppose.

The last 12 months have been incredibly hard. I know it’s irrational to beat myself up about 2 weeks in diet/exercise wilderness but IVF has turned me into an irrational mad woman. I’m waiting for AF to arrive so I can go for a scan and hopefully start stimming next week. Now I feel guilty and worried about how 2 weeks of a small amount of booze/ice cream/no exercise may have affected my antral follicle count.

Is it just me or does anyone else suffer from guilt as well as bloating, mood swings and the usual IVF ailments? 😯

A bit of good news

A teeny bit of much needed good news from the hospital… my AMH blood test is still 8.6. That’s 8.6 after a year of IVF, the same level I started with.

8.6 isn’t a great level for someone my age and I’m still in the ‘low fertility’ camp, but I’m really pleased that my egg reserve appears not to have changed much in a year. Basically AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) gives an indication of the number of tiny little eggs floating around in my ovaries. I’ve been imagining the number dwindling on a daily basis since we started IVF, so it’s a relief to know that isn’t the case.

Anyway it’s a small mental victory. Roll on our next (and final) cycle of IVF with my own eggs….! I’ll be back on the bus at the end of this month.

Another Spin of the Wheel of Fortune

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People loved the idea of a ‘wheel of fortune’ back in the Middle Ages – ‘Rota Fortunae’ – I wrote a paper about it once. What comes up, must go down. The fickle finger of fate. Well,  we’ve decided to have one more spin of the wheel with my own eggs. Maybe I’m daft – I don’t know. At the moment that’s me in blue, getting squashed by the wheel (see picture above).

Our consultant was very keen for us to try again. He said our last cycle was exemplary – 7 eggs, 7 fertilised, 7 blastocysts. If we can replicate similar success again he thinks we have a reasonable (1 in 4’ish) chance of it working. Back in the day I probably would have felt excited. This time I did not – it’s impossible to say the last cycle was ‘exemplary’ when it didn’t work!  Anyway, I need to stop thinking like that. If we’re going to do this I need to think positive and upgrade the PMA.

We’re going away in June so I’m going to wait until early July to start the next cycle. Same short protocol as last time….and I’m going to start taking DHEA too. I’m not sure it will make any difference in 7 weeks but I guess it’s worth a try. I’m also still on CoQ10 and all the other stuff. And – I’m going to try a high protein, low carb diet. This study suggests it’s well worth a try.

Do I need my head testing? Possibly. Am I going to get my hopes up again? Definitely. Is this our very last time trying with our own eggs? HAS to be.

We’ve been at the bottom of the wheel for the last 12 months, the only way is up right?

Failure

Our little embryo didn’t make it through the thawing process. Embryologist kindly pointed out on the phone that ‘90% make it so this is very unusual’. I’m gutted. Why is this so hard?

Our lovely consultant called straight away. He explained that this ‘defrost failure’ has nothing to do with the quality of the embryo, it’s just down the sheer bad luck. Our embryo was the 1 in 10 that didn’t make it. This has been a really terrible week.

Tomorrow is Defrost Day

Fingers crossed our plucky little embryo makes it through the thawing process in the morning. Apparently only 1 in 10 fails but who knows? Luck hasn’t really been on our side this year.

Anyway like Daley Thompson used to say, POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE. Transfer is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon unless I get an unwanted phone call from the embryologist in the AM. Watch this space.

Fanny Bullets

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Not a superhero….my favourite name for progesterone pessaries, one of the things I hate most about IVF treatment.

I,  erm, ‘inserted’ my first one this morning in preparation for the frozen embryo transfer on Wednesday. I’ll be on three bullets a day for the next two weeks. That’s a whopping 1200 mg of progesterone. Is that 1.2g? I think so.

Anyway it’s a lot, and I’m now preparing myself for Mega Bloat and the Constipation Factor, the sidekicks of Fanny Bullets. I’m drinking copious amounts of water and eating oranges. Oranges?! I dunno. I’ll try anything that might keep things moving down there. It’s the worst.  My helpful husband is always keen to suggest prune juice, which is always a great suggestion if you don’t have to drink it yourself. Anyway hopefully it will all be worth it this time around, I will happily drink all the prune juice in London if this works out for us.

My lovely lining

I had another scan this morning to see how things are looking for our frozen embryo transfer next week. As I lay there in stirrups with a camera up my wotsit I noticed how my doctor always congratulates me on the smallest things.’Well done, your lining is looking VERY nice!‘….’look how quiet your ovaries are! Lovely!‘. It’s quite sweet. I think he encourages me to feel good about the small (ie, insignificant ) things so I don’t feel so bad about the overall failure of everything.

He is a lovely man…..

…and I have a lovely (9mm) lining.

So everything is looking good for next week. The embryo transfer is scheduled for next Wednesday. Providing our little embryo makes it through the defrosting process I should be back on the 2ww bus very soon. I guess I’ll do my pregnancy test around Saturday 16th as our frostie is a 6 day blastocyst. I’m excited and nervous all rolled into one – please let this be IT this time around.

Scan Day

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My period started this weekend so I went to the hospital this afternoon for my first scan. The downregulation has worked and my ovaries are nice and ‘quiet’, but guess what? The doctor counted 10 follicles. That’s the highest Antral Follicle Count I have EVER HAD. On this….. the only cycle where I’m NOT having egg collection.

Insert your own ‘Isn’t it Ironic’ quote here.

Me….then.

I’ve worked out that our upcoming frozen embryo transfer will take place almost exactly 1 year to the day since our first embryo transfer, back in IVF #1. I felt sad when I realised this. It feels like much longer than a year ago. It’s as if that cycle happened to someone else.

Back then I knew nothing about IVF – I turned up for hospital appointments, got bossed around, did as I was told and asked no questions. We couldn’t believe it when we got a positive pregnancy test. That was it -I was pregnant! Too easy, thanks for the IVF, toodleloo. We told my mum, my dad, my brother, my grandad, some of our friends. I started researching maternity hospitals and thinking about how I’d tell my boss. A good friend told me that she used to write notes to her unborn baby whenever she travelled, so she’d have stories to share with her tiny travel companion later on. So I did the same – writing a note from Chicago – feeling silly and excited all rolled into one.

Just two days later I started bleeding – I was in Chicago and had to go to A&E there. My good friend came with me – she told me about her own miscarriage as we waited to see a doctor.  I listened to her, nodding and smiling, feeling quite sure that wouldn’t be me. Thanks for the info, I’ll just continue being pregnant if you don’t mind.  Hey, we had IVF and it worked first time! We’re basically awesome.

Sure enough the pregnancy test came back negative, the scan magnified my empty womb in 3D and my blood test showed a HCG level of 5. I felt ashamed. I was so ‘un-pregnant’ that my ‘pregnancy’ didn’t even register on the scale. I must have miscarried days before, maybe even a week before, back when I was googling maternity hospitals and making a birth plan. I felt embarrassed, I felt stupid and naive.  I lay on the trolley and cried. I just wanted to crawl into bed and hide. My dear friend took me for a glass of wine and we  talked and laughed instead. I’ll always be so grateful to her for that day. I can’t read the note I wrote to my ‘baby’, it makes me too sad.

A lot has changed in the last year. We’re on our fourth cycle and I’m an expert in IVF jargon. We go to hospital appointments armed with sheaves of paperwork and data, we make our own decisions regarding treatment plans and medication. We understand the statistics and know what our chances of success are. I’ve experienced miscarriage and know what that feels like, physically and emotionally. I do wonder if knowledge is power or whether I was better off 12 months ago, oblivious to it all. It’s hard to say. Better not to dwell on it, according to my (blimming) ‘Mindfulness’ book. Anyway a bit of a sombre post but perhaps the 12 month thing is a good omen for our forthcoming frozen embryo transfer. Onwards and upwards.