Today we got the official 'go ahead' from our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) to start IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) with my next cycle!
What that means is that when I start my next period in about a week, our IVF cycle will begin!
We are beyond excited, and also terrified. We have waited over 2 1/2 years to get to this point. Our journey has included incredible highs (3 pregnancies!) all followed by individual, incredible lows (3 losses, all unique and different from each other). Since this is my very first blog post, I'll share our story below, followed by the details of our upcoming IVF cycle.
Mark and I got married in September of 2014, and had quite a lot going on at the time. I had just finished grad school, we had just moved to a different state (back to my home state of Maine, after spending almost 4.5 awesome years in Vermont), we were both accepting new jobs, and my clinical fellowship was beginning. It was A LOT at once. I was 26 and Mark was 30, so we didn't feel particularly compelled to try for babies right away. Both of our families were great about not pressuring us, as the thought just hadn't really crossed our minds to "rush" it.
Well, in January of 2016, one house purchase, one clinical fellowship, and one dog later, baby fever struck. A friend of mine who had struggled with fertility planted the seed in my mind that "it could take a while, you never know," and so, we tried! In February of 2016, we "tried" for the first time, and wouldn't you know it, we GOT PREGNANT! We couldn't even believe our luck. Seriously! I'll never forget it. I remember feeling different; I knew I was pregnant. I had a physical and my doctor asked if I wanted her to take a test, and I said sure, and it was negative. I wasn't even PHASED, because I just KNEW that I was. And on St Patrick's Day, 2016, I saw two lines and the word 'pregnant' come across the screen, and couldn't believe it! I made a video of Mark finding the pregnancy test with my iPad. Little did I know how bittersweet that video would become. I'm so glad we still have that video though. A tangible memory of the first and only time in this journey where were completely innocent, completely naive, and completely full of hope.
By April of 2016, after several emergency room trips, we learned that our non-viable pregnancy had been growing in my right fallopian tube, not in my uterus. After two methotrexate shots in the ER failed to treat it, we ended up in emergency surgery which required the removal of my right tube. I'd never been in such a deep, dark place. Our dreams were so quickly dashed, our innocence so quickly ripped away. In one month, we had gone from not even thinking about conceiving, to becoming pregnant, to losing it, all in a very traumatic and medically oriented way.
In August of 2016, we got the OK to try again. We got a positive pregnancy test in December of 2016, and we were SO EXCITED! "THIS IS IT!" we both thought. Our storm had passed, and we were read for our rainbow. Well, God had other plans for us, and the pregnancy ended in miscarriage at the end of January 2017. We were devastated. We learned the very lesson that infertility does not discriminate, and, the even harder pill to swallow, that one loss does not make you immune to another. We grieved, and it hurt like hell.
In March of 2017, we were able to try again. We got a third positive pregnancy test in August of 2017, and, now cautious, guarded our hearts with a tentative excitement. It turned out that we had done well to be cautious, because only one week later, the bio chemical pregnancy ended.
September of 2017, I started doing acupuncture with a doctor of chinese medicine. In November, Mark started going.
In December of 2017, Mark and I moved forward with hormone panels, and Mark had his half of the equation checked out. Results revealed that I have some PCOS-like hormone presentation. Pairing that with the one fallopian tube, as well as some low morphology on Mark's end, it turns out we really do need some help to get and keep a successful pregnancy.
In January of 2018 we started seeking help from Reproductive Endocrinologists, and in May of 2018 we determined IVF was the best route for us.
Here comes the details about our upcoming cycle -- if you don't care to read the nitty-gritty details, *skip this paragraph*, but I know a lot of women going through this want to know these details, so here they are!
Due to our losses and the history behind them, our RE has recommended PGS/PGD/PGI-T testing (basically genetic testing) of our embryos. This means that rather than the 5-8 week timeline of a traditional IVF cycle, ours will be more like 12 weeks.
I will be doing an Antagonist Cycle, which means after the 14-21 days of BC pills (weird right?) and as the days build off of each other, I will go from administering 1 shot per day, to 3 per day, into my own belly! Mark will not be giving me the injections because a.) he is terrified of needles, and b.) I am a control freak. :-D During the injections, I'll be heading to our clinic every 3 days for ultrasounds (not the kind on your belly, either....) and blood work for monitoring.
When the Doctor says the eggs are ready, we 'trigger', with a BIG shot into the fat of my bum-- not excited about that one!!!! We then head to an even bigger clinic for egg retrieval 36 hours later. Once the eggs are retrieved, instead of having them transferred back into my uterus at Day 5, like a traditional 'fresh transfer' IVF cycle, our embryos will be biopsied and examined for any abnormalities/chromosome deficiencies.
All the healthy embryos will given the green light to be frozen, and after I get one period, Mark, our RE, and I, will decide on the embryo we want to transfer! All others will be frozen so that, hopefully, in a few years, we can make another baby! It takes a couple of weeks (and more medications) to prep the body for a transfer, and more monitoring, but when we get the OK, we head to back to the big clinic for transfer and PRAY PRAY PRAY!
What we have learned through this process as a couple is our commitment to each other and to having a family of our own, whatever it takes. What I have learned about myself as a woman is that I really am strong, and that I can persevere through anything. I know that my dedication to my family and children will be unwavering and fierce. I love so much harder because of this journey.
Although some may see today as a sad day, to us, those people don't understand our journey-- because we see today as a huge step forward -- and leap of faith -- toward our future baby.
Thank you for reading!