Saturday, September 12, 2009


It's hard to believe, but my transfer -- my first ever after 8 retrievals over 20 months -- is happening in a matter of days. Not a moment too soon, as the the FET prep has been awful. I'd take stims over this any day. Whether it was the Lupron, the stress of knowing that all of my efforts will finally be put to the test or a little of both, I've been an absolute basketcase the past month and a half. Headaches, depression, irritation, nausea and even getting sick to my stomach. I don't know how my husband did it; even I couldn't stand being around me. At least I've been able to exercise through it all.

By far, the worst thing of all has been my anxiety. It's something I've always struggled with, but it's been on an absolute rampage lately, almost unmanageable at times. I finally found relief when I started deep-breathing exercises and meditating, both of which I've discovered really do work and are things I will continue for the rest of my life.

Still no word on the outcome of Retrieval #8, but I've asked CCRM not to inform me of the results until after the transfer. The last thing I need right now is something else to worry about.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Last Hurrah

Sometime before starting Cycle #8, I decided it would be my last. (Well, maybe.) This time, I strongly lobbied for PBB given my bad luck with blast, but based on my progress during the cycle, embryology wanted to push to Day 5. I was terrified.

They retrieved 15 eggs, but to my complete dismay, only 9 were mature -- a repeat of last cycle. It was particularly disappointing because my estrogen was much higher this time and I was certain there would be more. With only 8 embryos, I was once again delegated to PBB, but instead of being relieved, I just viewed it as a mark of failure. I'm about 2.5 weeks into the wait and not expecting much.

And Then There Were None

I certainly hope the suspense hasn't killed anyone. When we last spoke, I had just finished IVF #7 and had discovered my 9 perfect embryos had (d)evolved into 3 poor-quality blasts, and I was waiting for CGH results. The outcome was unfortunate but I can't say unexpected; all three were abnormal.

2 weeks of shots, multiple emotional ups and downs (mostly downs) and about $20,000 including travel expenses. For nothing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Better Late Than Never?

After a very ambitious beginning to my blog writing -- in which, at one point, I managed to produce seven days of consecutive posts -- I seem to have fallen off the wagon. But now I'm back and with an update on my last cycle, which culminated in a May 5 retrieval.

They managed to get 15 eggs, of which nine were mature and fertilized. (I'm convinced I could have stimmed one more day.) By Day 3, eight were still going strong. So strong, in fact, that the embryologist prefaced our conversation with, "You're just getting better and better with age." This really threw me for a loop as I'm not used to getting compliments from him. He went on to say that they couldn't have created eight better-looking embryos if they had tried and that everyone in the lab was quite surprised (in a good way).

Needless to say, my hopes were quite high, so when I found out I only had three blasts -- and on Day 6 -- I was a little disappointed. Nevertheless, the embryologists were very happy with my results and recommended that were I to have a good number of eggs next time, I should definitely go to blast. This significantly upped my spirits and I am now quite encouraged by the fact that I made three. Even if they are only 2/3 and not gradable yet. Still, I'm optimistic because I've never made a blast before (not that I've tried, but it certainly was a big unknown), so I see it as quite a milestone. And based on my previous cycle in which my normal ratio was approximately one of ten, I suppose it's possible that out of the nine embryos I made this time, one could be normal and that one could be one of the ones that made it to the three. I hope that was clear.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mutiny on the Ovary

My left ovary has staged an insurgence of sorts. I believe it’s disturbed about being forced to work overtime three months in a row. Today marks Day 10 of stims and I still have one, if not two, days left before trigger. But while I have 8-9 nice-sized follicles on my right side, there are only four on my left -- and that’s including the small one. This is not good at all as I’ve been depending on that left ovary to give me another record-breaking response. It certainly played a big role last month when I did exceptionally well after adding DHEA to my protocol. I had really hoped this cycle would bring an even better turnout since I’ve been on the juice longer, so to speak. But because my left ovary has chosen not to live up to its potential, I just can’t envision getting even close to 17 eggs this time.

For this reason, I think I might take a break in June rather than continue my frenetic back-to-backing. Looking at my calendar, my next cycle would kick off somewhere around June 9, so maybe I’ll sit that one out and start up again by the Fourth of July. (It just occurred to me that lately, the primary function of my datebook has been to help me continuously and obsessively count and recount my cycle days.)

On the positive side, I won’t have to worry about whether the upcoming twice-yearly lab closing will affect me and I can enjoy a glass (or two) of wine in the early summer evenings. More importantly, Dr. Schoolcraft has assured me that I am unlikely to go into menopause during the next 30 days. So for now (but, as always, subject to change), I think we have a plan. I will cycle again in July…and by August, maybe, just maybe, have my first transfer.

Monday, April 27, 2009

One Good Egg

After an increasingly agonizing six-week wait, I finally received my PBB/CGH results: out of ten embryos, there was one normal and one no result. While I wouldn't say I'm over the moon, I am very happy to have one normal. It was my first ever (to my knowledge) and my expectations had been extremely low, so it was really good news. Of course, now I sorely wish I had gone for the 5-day biopsy and that this normal were a highly-implantable blast rather than a two-day old embryo that had only been tested via polar body biopsy on the maternal side and with a long road of growth ahead of it. Nonetheless, I’m still incredibly thankful and have counted my blessings more than once. What’s most exciting is that this means I’m still producing normal eggs, and I’m doing so at a rate that is consistent with my age group despite having a translocation.

But what a difference a year makes. It’s clear to me that the translocation is actually becoming the lesser of my problems. Even without it, I would have had only two normals this cycle, as only one embryo of the abnormal bunch was discovered to have a singular chromosomal error (monosomy 14) caused by the translocation. Every other embryo displayed complex aneuploidy. The geneticist forwarded a list of the chromosome errors per embryo and it actually made me cringe. I've spent so much time cursing my translocation (with good reason), but it's hard to be angry at yourself for simply living and aging. While I had long assumed my eggs had already started feeling the inevitable effects of age, seeing the speed with which they're doing so is a bit alarming. Still, knowing that I have one good egg is an important milestone for me. If there's one, there's bound to be more, and I'm going to find them.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Road to Discovery

More than one year after almost not finding out about a major chromosomal problem, I had the unfortunate experience of almost not finding out about something else. This time, it involved clotting.

It was January 2008 and I was about to begin my first IVF cycle with my previous clinic. Having already missed an opportunity to diagnose my translocation due to a former doctor’s less than stellar judgment, I asked the clinic to run a Thrombophilia panel. Two of my friends whom I met in an online support group had spoken of the risks of blood-clotting disorders in pregnancy, and I was a big believer in precautionary testing, particularly when embarking on as costly a procedure as IVF. I had already found myself in the 1% of the population with a translocation, so I understood that it absolutely can happen to me. And having one rare condition didn’t necessarily preclude me from having another. I called my doctor to request the test and she was, predictably, opposed to the idea. I insisted and she finally agreed to call in a script.

A week later, I called for my results and was told my blood work was normal. I was very relieved and proceeded to undergo two IVF/PGD cycles, neither of which produced any normals for transfer. It was a painfully disappointing five months. In June, while organizing a sizeable stack of paperwork -- we were taking a much-needed vacation and I like coming home to a clean house -- I came across my Thrombophilia report and began to flip through it. Within minutes, I learned that I had not one, but two clotting disorders. Each diagnosis had been underlined and initialed by the doctor. I was stunned. My own clinic -- a well-regarded one at that -- had informed me months earlier that my test results were normal, so I had assumed that to be the case. Things like this just don't happen, I thought.

Not only do they apparently happen, but they also manage to get worse. Several days later and still waiting for a return call from my doctor, I found out I was pregnant naturally. (This alone was alarming because with my translocation, getting pregnant with an untested embryo is a big gamble.) Suddenly, the recent clotting revelation was more urgent. If untreated, clotting problems can cause pregnancy loss, and if we were lucky enough to have a normal embryo, we could not afford to lose it to a blood clot. Unbelievably, despite leaving a series of increasingly frantic messages, I did not receive a call from the doctor for four days. When we finally did speak, she said she had not told me about the clotting disorders because “they weren’t that big of a deal.”

My doctor was actually admitting that she had taken note of my abnormal diagnoses yet chosen not to inform me because she considered them unimportant...despite the well-documented and well-recognized association between clotting and pregnancy loss. It was flabbergasting, to say the least, but my bewilderment would not continue for long. Six weeks later, the heartbeat had stopped and a karyotype revealed that the translocation was once again to blame.

What's most disturbing about these events is that had I not followed my own instincts to get tested, I would not be taking Folgard and baby aspirin each day (for my MTHFR) nor Lovenox when pregnant (for my anticardiolipin antibodies), two very simple treatments which can prevent very horrifying consequences.