Tuesday, April 28, 2009

backstory - sorry this is a long one

oh. hello. gosh, I just looked at the date and realized what a slacker I've been. Not a lot to report I guess - or maybe not a lot of time to report it.

I think the May/June update on Cyclesista will be going up soon, and since I'll be on it, I thought I'd do a little recap of where I've been, for those of you who find yourselves here for the first time, or maybe the first time in a while.

I used to have all this history on the site, but I got listed on a website saying nasty things about donor eggs, and so I took this info down from the blog. And I'll take it down again if I get any of what I consider 'not nice' attention. I share this to hopefully connect with others who have a shared experience, we can support each other. But this is my life, and I'm not interested in opinions who don't agree with the route I've chosen to take.

So here's the story....

We started trying to get pregnant in January of 2004 - I quit taking the pill in December of 2003.

After 8 months of no results, we went straight to a fertility doctor and both got tested. Results showed that I should have been fine, I always had very regular cycles, etc. But the results also showed that we had a serious sperm issue.

In October my husband had surgery to try to re-open the plumbing. It was only moderately successful - they made us wait for months because they said it could take a while for swelling, production, etc. But by May of 2005 the SAs were still coming back very poor - very low count and low motility.

So in June of 2004 we went straight to IVF - the sperm counts were too low to even bother attempting IUI.

And here's my IVF history...

IVF #1 June 2005 - Standard "long lupron protocol". At the first u/s there were only 5 follicles. They increased the meds every day. I stimmed for 13 days. Retrieved 11 eggs. But only 5 were mature. Did ICSI on those 5. Of those - 3 fertilized, but one did not divide. So on day 3 we transferred two embryos, one was a 4-cell, one was an 8-cell. 12 days later - Beta HCG was negative.

At this point I was still feeling positive. What are the real odds of it working on the first try anyway? I figured it will work next time...

IVF #2 - September 2005 - same protocol. But we started out on the higher dose of meds. And they let the follicles get bigger before the trigger - thinking we triggered too soon last time. Well - I woke up from the retrieval to hear the news that there were only 4 eggs. All the rest had disintegrated. And then the next day the news that two of those didn't even make it to fertilization. So again we had two. On day three we transferred one 6-cell and one 7-cell. Both "poor" quality. Negative - not a big surprise.

IVF #3 - January 2006 - this time we're trying a new protocol. The RE says I may just be one of those rare people that responds very poorly to Lupron - maybe the Lupron was toxic to my eggs. She really doesn't think that they pushed me too far. Or maybe I have an egg quality issue - but I wasn't hearing any of that yet. So - Antagon protocol. I stimmed great! 15 mature eggs were retrieved. 12 Fertilized. They wanted to go to blast this time. So on day 5 we transferred two good quality blasts. And we had one blast to freeze. I start spotting a week before the beta. This was just like before - and this was just like how I feel before I get my period. So I was convinced that it didn't work and I convinced them to give me the beta a day early. Well wouldn't you know it - it was positive. 39. Low. But we did the beta a day early. After two days it tripled. and two more days up another 2.5 times. I started to have nausea. So at 6 weeks 2 days we went for the first pregnancy ultrasound. We should see a sac, a yolk sac, a fetal pole, and maybe a heartbeat. Nothing but an empty sac. Repeat the u/s a week later. Still a lovely empty sac. stop the meds, wait for the miscarriage. I was devastated. If you've been through it - I don't have to tell you how it feels. If you haven't - well, I hope you never have to. It was the greatest sadness I have ever experienced.

But - the outlook was good. The RE felt that maybe we had figured out the right protocol. We just got unlucky this time. 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. But I can get pregnant. Good news. Next time will work.

IVF #4 - June 2006 - The protocol worked great last time. And we just got hit by the odds of a pregnancy that didn't succeed. But it's good news that we know I can have an embryo implant. So again - great stimulation. 17 mature eggs retrieved. 15 fertilized. Since we know I can make blasts now (although not very many) - they decide that we should not wait until day 5. We will just take the best on day 3 and transfer. But on day three we don't even have 1 8-cell embryo. We transfer 3 - one 7-cell and two 6-cell. By day 6 one of the remaining ones has miraculously become a blastocyst, so it is frozen. So now we have two frozen. HCG = negative. I was shocked. I thought for sure this is the one.

In the follow up appointment the RE brings up the egg quality discussion. She says that based on the results of 4 cycles and the 'poor efficiency' with which I made good embryos, that she believes I have an egg quality issue. So we got a second opinion - we had a top Dr in the country review our records - and he agreed. The consensus - after 49 eggs retrieved and only a total of four 8-cell embryos on day 3 - is that it is a problem with the eggs. Everyone agreed that donor eggs was probably our best chance of success.

But we had two frozen - so we decided to try them and keep our hopes up. They were 'excellent quality' blasts.

FET #1 (cycle #5) - September 2006 - Turns out they were excellent quality - better than anything we ever transferred before. Everyone was very optimistic about these - all the nurses, the RE, the embryologist, etc. And... it was negative. I wasn't even all that devastated that time, I guess I had stopped hoping.

What next?

As luck would have it - I have a sister who is 11 years younger than me. She agreed to give me her eggs - she didn't even give it a second thought when I asked. It is the most generous gift a sister could ever give. We started our donor egg cycle in December of 2006, she stimmed beautifully and we got 20 eggs, 18 fertilized and we ended up with 8 beautiful blasts. We transferred two perfect embryos on January 23rd, 2007.

After 6 IVF cycles, 380 shots, 84 estrogen patches, 49 eggs retrieved (from me), 13 embryos transferred...

on September 21, 2007 - the two most beautiful babies in the world were born. It was the happiest day of my life.

It's funny, when you have twins, people assume you're done. "hey, a boy and a girl, you're all set!". Nobody asks if you plan on having more. But being pregnant once isn't enough for me. I loved being pregnant, I loved everything about it. I nursed both my babies for over a year. And being a mother is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. It was and is worth every minute of emotional pain I went through. Don't get me wrong - I am grateful for the gift that I have and I will be the happiest mother in the world even if I don't have any more children. But.

I want to do it again.

We have 6 frozen embryos. We are embarking on an FET cycle to try for another pregnancy. I am on BCPs now, I start Lupron on monday. The plan is to transfer two embryos on/around June 5th.

Welcome to the next segment of my journey.


Robin said...

Just wanted to say good luck to you. I came across your blog while I was pregnant with twins this summer after an IVF cycle. My boy/girl twins are almost 6 months and I like reading your posts to see what I have to look forward to. People always ask if we are done having kids and I just don't know at this point, so I love reading about your experience after having twins. Again, I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming cycle.

Heather said...

Wishing you lots of luck!!!

Hopeful Mother said...

Of course, rooting you on here!!!

Jaimie said...

I'm sitting here bawling like a baby! I know I didn't have two babies at once, but I understand wanting to do it again. Pregnancy wasn't that great for me, but I do want to feel a baby growing in me again. They are babies for such a short time and I want to go through those stages again. It is amazing isn't it?

I wish you the best of luck. I will be reading of course!

Bookerson said...

Very good luck. I became a mommy via donor eggs 6 months ago. I agree that pregnancy was great, and I am ready to do it again! He is worth all the heart ache I went through.

Anonymous said...

Carol, I hope this round is as successful as the last. I'll be watching with fingers crossed.

cat said...

I never knew your whole story, so great to read it now. Best of luck with this one!

Anonymous said...

Hi - found you on Cyclesistas. You have such an inspiring story; I am getting ready to start my 3rd DE cycle in June (probably) and I am quite discouraged right now. We used anonymous donors (2 different ones); although 8 years ago we conceived our only son the easy way with no docs involved. I am amazed by your sister's generosity! Hope this time works for you as well, good luck!

T-Mommy said...

I have been following your blog for a while now... You were pregnant with the twins, and I am so happy you to know you guys are trying again.

I totally get it when you said you want to experience pregnancy one more time.

Life for me have been full of surprises, but at this point - if we don't get lucky twice - We will be going through the do.nor egg route in our pursuit for our second child. It really gives me so much hope to read sucess stories like yours -knowing also there are no guarantees, if that makes sense -

My best wishes for this coming cycle!

Marie-Baguette said...

Re-reading your story brought me to tears. You have been through so much. And the story of your sister is amazing. I used to be opposed to donor eggs and sperm but I have a sister, and I know I would give her my eggs in a heartbeat. Those feelings are even stronger now that I have a son (a FET baby!). I would recommend you elect a single transfer, since I have been told that frozen embryos have higher chances of splitting. Good luck with everything!

The Patterson's said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It's very encouraging! We just started IVF #2.

I agree with you ... who says that everyone only wants two kids? I've heard the same line about twins, but I don't know that I would only want to also. I always thought I would have 3 kids...we'll see.

Here from cyclesista.

Michele said...

Wishing you a sucessful cycle!

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, have you been through the infertility ringer! I'm glad to see that you made it out the other side though, and look forward to being a cycle sista with you soon!

Sarah said...

SO EXCITED FOR YOU!! i know excitement is hardly what comes to mind when you welcome the whole mess back into your life, or at least it was not at the forefront for me, but it's oh so much easier to get excited for each other, isn't?

best wishes that the hard stuff is far behind you and it's smooth sailing from here!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is amazing! I'm so happy for you! I was diagnosed with PCOS long time ago. My only chance to become a mother was ed ivf. I had doubts, many thoughts never left my mind! The greatest fear was that I will not be able to love child, who is not genetically related to me. It's much more easier for man to accept this procedure, because a baby will be from him. As it was my only way out, I decided we should try. It was a difficult, but the result changed our lives! I wanted a baby who I will carry and give birth by myself. I wanted to be with him from the moment of his birth, from his first breath. Of course, I wanted baby to look like us. But as soon as the doctor made an embryo transfer, the only thing I was thinking about was pregnancy to be successful and my baby to be born healthy! Now, when I remember how I suffered and couldn't bear the thought that I have to resort to donor eggs, I cannot help laughing. My child is at home right now and every time I look at him, I see that every day he more and more looks like me. I raise healthy and, of course, the most beautiful baby in the world! I underwent de ivf in Ukrainian biotexcom. We asked our doctor to find egg donor, who will have same features as I have. We sent information about the desirable characteristics of the donor to the clinic. We indicated height, weight, hair color, eyes color, nose, face and lips shape. Generally saying, all features we needed. Then the clinic found three donors corresponding to our phenotypes and sent us info about them. And then we chose the one, who suited us the most. Speaking about egg donors and their health. All requirements to donors were specified in the package we've chosen. First requirement is age of donor. All their donors are 18 – 25 years old. Second requirement is perfect physical and mental health. And third requirement is absence of genetic diseases in the donor and her family. So we were absolutely sure in health of our donor. Now I have absolutely no feeling that my son is not mine genetically! No one can ever tell he is from donor egg. We decided not to tell our parents the whole truth. For them we had ivf with my eggs and my husband's sperm. Girls, I wish all of you all the best!