Three more rounds of IVF, post-Leif, are now done and dusted.
Friday was testing day, following an estrogen-priming “short antagonist protocol” that yielded 10 eggs (not too shabby, for this old bird). TEN is the most I’ve ever gotten from a single round of egg retrieval. I followed a modified Dr. Sher protocol, with estradiol “priming” beginning on Day 21 of the prior cycle.
We rocked this round a bit differently than all the others other, focusing heavily on acupuncture to boost stimulation response and egg quality (two usual bugbears for me). It paid off!
I had twice-weekly acupuncture with a lovely Finnish TCM practitioner who specializes in fertility and gynecological matters. I believe her careful tracking of my clinical protocol – in order to boost its effects with complementary TCM (and needles inserted in “just the right” places) – resulted in a markedly improved outcome. Our round of IVF this past summer ended in a last-minute cancellation before egg retrieval – due to not being able to grow more than ONE lousy egg. That round wreaked havoc on my hormones, caused daily migraines and leveled a devastating blow to our morale when it ended in a shocking cancellation. I was too distraught to even blog about it or tell anyone what had happened, save for the women in my Copenhagen IVF Support Group who showed me such grace, love and support.
But this past round of IVF fared so much better.
I had two 7-cell embryos transferred back on Day 3. And while they failed to stick – and this round ended in another failure-tune that I get to hum – I am “lucky enough” to have two expanded blastocysts (day 6 embryos) now lovingly stored in the freezer. So all in all, we had a round that gave us 4 plausible embryos to work with. The first two failed, but we have our Hail-Mary chances now on ice.
I had a good cry on Friday. I wanted so badly for this round to work. To not have to “use up” what could quite possibly be the last vestige of any normal egg I have floating around. But then I had a glass of wine and a good whine to Martin before deciding to look at the round as a resounding success for taking us as far as it did.
The problem with having a child as GLORIOUS as Leif is, it makes you want more. It makes Martin and me…greedy. We love Leif more than life itself. He is happy, snuggly, kind, gracious, good, easy-going, hilarious, sweet, tender, smart, and playful…we couldn’t have received a more perfect human being to raise. And because of that, we just want MORE. We want to give Leif the gift of a brother or sister to stick by his side his whole life long. We want this future child (whom we already love so much) to be wrapped up in the brotherly love and protection of big brother Leif. For all these deep and messy emotions that we don’t expect others to understand, Martin and I simply feel a second child is a necessity. But of course, it was never going to come easy again. If the 14 rounds it took to get Leif were “hard enough”…then I just don’t know if I’m ready for things to get hard-er.
When I started undergoing IVF after 6 failed rounds of IUI, I was surprised at how “easy it was” to endure the hormones, the shots, the retrievals…and even the subsequent failures that rolled in. And rolled some more. But now, years later, with a much-older body and a tired, less resilient lifestyle, I feel the rounds more acutely.
I’m not as lithe and elastic, in my AMA-years. I don’t snap back like I used to.
The hormones are much harder on my body than they were when I was in my early 30s. I get moody, I get insomnia, I get 50 times more emotional than I normally am…upsetting the usual calm demeanor that Martin has banked on our entire marriage. Life with Cammy during a round of IVF is just…harder. I sleep about 3 hours a night before waking and staying awake…until sunrise. I battle tension headaches and pain behind my right eye. I get nausea from the high dose of estradiol that makes every scent I encounter an assault on my nose and spooky spidey-sense of smell. I walk around feeling like a half-dead zombie. I am lethargic with barely an ounce of energy to apply mascara, and yet I cannot sleep. I have to duck out of meetings at work, to sneak off to an ultrascan. Or acupuncture. I have to shoulder so much stress and responsibility, while telling myself “not to stress.” The whole rigmarole is exhausting.
So much so that I know I do not have an “infinite number” of rounds left in me. My old refrain has always been: “I can keep going! I have many more rounds in front of me.”
The number of rounds I have left is very finite. It’s limited. It could be less than 1. I’m sad to say, I just don’t have it “in me.” At a certain point, I will have to opt out of more and more egg hyper-stimulation because I know my body is starting to fight back. It’s sending out all the warning signs that I’ve pushed her too far. She isn’t getting tired, she is tired. She’s wasted. Dry. Depleted. Done.
So if our future FET does not work – which I shudder to even consider – we will have to consider long and hard what our next step is. Our doctor has made it very clear what he needs our next step needs to be, and he thinks it could end in a baby.
I’m just not sure about it. But I’m inching closer. In the end, if it will give us another miracle, I know it could be the right answer for our family.