First of all, THANK YOU for all the love and support that came from my last post. I was astonished by the amount of times it was shared, read and how many messages I received as a result. I had so many great conversations about other areas that people struggle in – women that complain about their body image when another would love that figure, or complaining about their spouse when others would love a spouse. Overall the message was received that we have to be extra cautious in a world filled with sin, where complaining comes naturally, NOT to turn our blessings into burdens. Whatever that they may be. The conversations had were excellent reminders to me that I am guilty of complaining about things that are blessings and it’s helped me put life’s “challenges” into perspective. Another conversation reminded me that we are called to carry each other’s burdens as Christians and the beautiful thing about that is that usually, we can pick our audience. Anyways, thanks for all the love and support! Meant so much!
So with that said ….
In the world of IVF, after a failed cycle, you have what is lovingly termed a “WTF” appointment with your doctor. You know, the What the fickle-doo happened!? talk. You basically fire off questions on WHAT HAPPENED!? Why am I not pregnant?! while your doctor patiently answers and re-answers the variations of the same question. I was able to have this conversation with Dr. C a few weeks ago and wanted to pass off some of the answers I was given, as many of you are asking these great questions to me! (I’ll summarize in a Q & A format and just include the highlights as to not bore you.)
Q: Are you concerned with my egg quality or has this just been bad luck?
A: I am not concerned about your egg quality. I really just think it’s been bad luck. The fact that you had blasts to freeze both cycles is great news and many don’t have that. But truly, everything else looks good. All other tests have come back really positive and I don’t see any reason to have concerns that this won’t happen for you.
Q: We were never told the percentage chance of pregnancy on transfer day. What was our percentage going into this last round?
A: With two morulas, grade B, it was only 30-35%. We tend not to share that unless asked as we don’t want to discourage our patients. (My note – I am glad I didn’t know that! We were told it would be higher at the start of the cycle but based on what was transferred, was much lower than anticipated.)
Q: And what would be our percentage this time with an FET and the frozen embryos we intend to transfer?
A: Your frozen embryos are all grade B’s. With your age and the quality of embryos, I would give you at least 45% but likely much closer to 55%. At least.
Q: How does the thawing process work?
A: We thaw one at a time. We have an 85-90% thaw success rate and all 3 of your embryos are very strong. I wouldn’t be concerned that they don’t make the thaw. I recommend you transfer 2 again and we start by thawing the best embryos in order until we have your 2 thawed and ready for transfer.
Q: So tell me more about the FET protocol.
A: You would start with being on BCP (birth control pills) for about a month and then move to Lupron shots each day to ensure your ovaries are quiet. Then, instead of stimulating your ovaries, we simply need to stimulation your lining to make it ready for a transfer. We do this with careful monitoring and a few weeks of the estrogen pills and progesterone shots. You had great lining both times so I am not concerned that this will be an issue for you.
Q: Is there anything differently that I could do to make this more successful? A different diet? Weight loss? Acupuncture?
A: Your BMI is at a healthy level and of course we encourage all patients to have a healthy balanced diet. I have no concerns with you whatsoever. With acupuncture, there is absolutely no harm done and we have seen it to be very successful. We have a few acupuncturists that come in to do pre-and post transfer acupuncture sessions on patients in the clinic the day of the transfer. There is no reason I would suggest not doing it and many patients find it to be very helpful with their stress levels, as well as it does increase blood flow to the uterus.
Q: Anything else?
A: I have no reason to believe this won’t work for you. With many PCOS patients, we see a few cycles being common but we have high success rates with patients just like you. You have no male factor and only an ovulatory issue. I truly have no reason to doubt that you won’t have success.
So after that conversation, Josh and I both feel hopeful for this next step. I know that in the end, only GOD can make this work. And He already knows the outcome of this next leg in our journey. At times, I find myself completely filled with hope for whatever comes our way. Other times (usually between 2 am and 4 am), I find myself completely lost in a world of worry, fearful that this fight will never end. It’s usually in those moments where I think of Job. Our story is so far away from Job’s – sure, there are precious things we loved and lost, but some days I feel like I am walking this tightrope where I can’t bear to think about God allowing Satan to test us any further, remove anything from our lives, destroy what we care about. Would we get through it, with a love still shining for Him? Yes, I truly believe so. I just don’t know if I have the strength for that test. My mind will race – what will it be? Will something happen to Cali? My precious fur baby that brings me so much happiness? Will it be Josh’s job? Will it be the death of a close family member? Will it be a life-threatening diagnosis (or re-diagnosis) of someone we love?
In Jr. High and High School, we would travel with our youth group to conferences where at the end, me, an emotional charged teenager would stand, arms raised to the sky and cry out to God to “send anything my way!” Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. (Psalm 26:2). Now, I find my heart pleading Oh God, no more! Please stop testing me! No more trying! Give me a chance to catch up. It’s not that I don’t think I could handle it. If anything, this whole journey reminds me that my strength is not my own, and I know that God’s strength in me could handle anything. I’m just tired. I don’t want to be tried or tested anymore. I just want my miracle.
As we prepare for this FET cycle, I have decided to give acupuncture a try. I mean, there is no harm per my doctor and I have several TTC-er friends who swear by it. I was uncertain, still am. But with an open mind I ventured to my first appointment last week.
Acupuncture is a type of Chinese medication that uses carefully placed thin needles into certain points of the body to increase blood flow and stimulate parts of your body. It seems bizarre, but again, with no harm and studies showing it does lead to slightly higher success rates, I am willing to try it! (A recent study had 2 groups of 80 women undergoing IVF. One set was given weekly acupuncture and 34 of those women got pregnant, opposed to 21 in the IVF-only group.)
Unsure and somewhat skeptical, I called an acupuncturist, Lauren, that my doctor highly recommended and made my first appointment. She specializes solely in fertility acupuncture and from the first phone call, we clicked. I ventured to the clinic last week (dressed in comfy clothes as instructed.) As I entered the partial basement clinic in Uptown, I was a little hesitant. As I sat in the waiting room that smelled like dirt (because of all the herbal medications surrounding me, a frequently used type of treatment for those not undergoing IVF), I was concerned. As I listened to the littlest water fountain splash tiny drops of water over its edge onto the pebbles below, I had to go to the bathroom. (Not really, but they really should get a bigger water fountain.) It certainly was a little bizarre but I kept reminding myself if my highly paid doctor was suggesting this and her, I didn’t have too much to be concerned about. I met with Lauren and we went over EVERYTHING. We looked at my chart and talked about my history start to end. It was much more therapeutic than I imagined! She knew what questions to ask, empathized during tough stages in our journey and was incredibly perceptive with asking follow up questions that would tie things together. After about an hour and a half, she told me a little about what to expect. “A typical needle sensation may have a brief burning sensation immediately around the insert location but will be brief. Most you shouldn’t be able to feel. Let me know if any cause pain.” I laid on a table, similar to a massage table, on my back, and she asked me to pull my leggings up over my knee caps and pull my shirt up a bit to expose my tummy. She alcohol swabbed several areas and then quickly and simply began to place these tiny needles into me. A few in my shins and knees, 1 in each foot, ear and hand, 1 in my head and 1 between my eyes and a few in my tummy. At this point, I was really perplexed. Truthfully, I wasn’t in any pain. I felt 1 or 2 of them in my knees but otherwise I felt nothing. It was SO bizarre. Just as quickly as she inserted the needles, she turned on some relaxing music, put a few heat lamps over me, set a doorbell under my fingertips to call if needed and turned off the lights and left. “Now I will give you time to relax. Many clients sleep.” and poof! The door shut and I was left laying on a table in a lookout basement in Uptown covered with needles in the dark.
That’s when the insanity of all this kicked in.
What am I DOING?! I am laying on a table with needles all over me? What if I roll off? What if I stab my brain with a needle if I twitch really bad and roll? (Unlikely, I know, but still a valid concern at the moment). Did I feel a needle pinch? OUCH YES! That hurts! Wait, no it doesn’t. I don’t feel it anymore. Ummm, what kind of cd is it? Waves? Or fountains trickling? Hehe. I’m glad I don’t have to go to the bathroom. I’m bored. I have needles in me. This is weird. How do people relax? And sleep? I barely sleep at night in bed after laying there for 5 hours with several pillows! Wait, do I have to go to the bathroom? She said she will be back in 30 minutes. I am going to go insane. Insane. In-sane. Bane. Bane like the guy in Batman. That was a good movie. Ohhh like Dark Knight. Awww, Heath Ledger. That was so sad. OUCH! My ear. Wait, it’s gone. Sighhhhhh….
Then it all went blurry.
“Hi Chelsea, I’m back. How was your rest?”
I fell asleep.
I have NO idea how it happened. My heart was racing so fast and I was so confused for a minute (or 10) wondering how the heck that happened. I fell asleep. One minute I was re-mourning over the loss of Heath Ledger and worrying about Matilda (his daughter) and the next, I was being woken up with lights being turned back on and needles being swiftly pulled from my flesh.
I have no idea.
I wish I could tell you what happened in that 28 minutes. I stumbled to my car wondering if she drugged me with needles. I felt rested and great. Just sooo perplexed and I still don’t know what to think.
I had my second appointment today and while I didn’t fall asleep this time, I was relaxed again (I think?). I don’t feel any different, but I just don’t know what to think at this point. Only time will tell!
Shots start in 2 weeks! Can’t believe we are here again. But I am ready and generally feel hopeful. At the end of the day, we trust in a God that cares and is the sole provider of our joy. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have difficult moments, but it means that when they come, I turn them over to Him with a trust that He is in control.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:7-10)