I’ve been missing in action for the last month or so, concentrating on things other than ttc and what to do about the vexing IUI v IVF question. In a way, I think I was also letting my subconscious work things out without addressing the issue directly. This will be a long post, apologies in advance.
Highlight of last month was my joint 40th. I’m not keen on being the centre of attention and was prepared not to enjoy the party fully but to be glad in retrospect that I had marked the occasion. As it happened, we both had a fab night and I was on a high for the week afterwards, during which I actually turned 40. The party high eased the pain of waking up 40 with no kids, no relationship and no house of my own and stopped me dwelling (too much) on the fact that, when I turned 30, I had two of those things sorted, or so I thought.
I’ve mentioned before that with no christenings, hen parties or weddings in my past, it seemed right to grasp 40 as an excuse for celebrating, and I’m so glad we did. There was a lot of love and happiness in the room that night. My siblings and parents were there and we even got to dance cornily to Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”. My Dad was a revelation, twirling circles on the dance floor and running about the place to get photos of everyone for me. My Mam was in sensational form, boogying to Prince and circulating like a madwoman to chat to my friends. And getting all of our friends in one room at the same time was a reminder of what great people we both have in our lives.
I found the attention almost embarrassing. And the trouble that people like my great friend A, whom I guess I know for 36 years now, went to – bringing helium balloons in on public transport (plus a flashing b-day badge, class!) taking video footage and photos of everyone (after fortifying herself with a stiff drink first) and buying me a cake and sparkling wine on the actual day – nearly brought tears to my eyes. That people took the trouble to get on planes and pick out such thoughtful presents made me pretty emotional too.
Yours, disgruntled of Springfield
In less uplifting news, I also got around last month to writing to the clinic to unload about the stress caused by their crappy communication, mainly in relation to the sperm ordering process. I’ve had this on my mind for a while. I also knew that T, one of the other SMCs-to-be from my online forum, had recently made her own complaints, so the timing was good.
I emailed the clinic head on a Thursday night. Separately, I had emailed G, the non-responsive embryologist, the previous Monday, asking if it was possible to order sperm from the same donor as before while I decided what treatment route to take. I received a response to my “substantive comments” from the clinic head pretty quickly on Friday morning, thanking me for my input and saying they would be sharing my points with their director of quality. And a couple of hours later, I got a call from the embryologist, apologising for not responding to my email of Monday. Related events? Creo que sí.
The embryologist’s answer was that I couldn’t order anything until I knew whether I was opting for IUI again or IVF. Plus, my previous donor was no longer available. So, I put the decision on ice for a little while longer.
Then, last Friday, there was a message on my phone from someone called L (I had no idea who she was), noting that I had spoken to the embryologist two weeks previously and asking what my decision was re treatment. They are booking up schedules for June at the moment and need to get me slotted in, not to mention the time it will take to order in the sperm.
So I thought about it for an hour or so and decided – IVF.
I mailed the embryologist the same day, with four suggestions for alternative extended-profile, non-anonymous donors and saying he could go ahead and order if any of them were available. I waited until Tuesday without hearing back (here we go again) and rang the nurses. Nurse I explained that the mystery L is a nurse and has been assigned to me; L is back in today and will nudge G re sperm, be in charge of my scheduling and give me a call. Nurse I talked me through a hypothetical timetable in the meantime, which would run something like this on the long protocol:
If 15 May 2013 was Day 1 (which we both knew won’t happen, as the sperm won’t be in):
- 15 May until 29 May – contraceptive pill daily (after which bleed will start)
- 24-29 May – nasal spray to down-regulate (put the ovaries out of action temporarily)
- 3 June (= Cycle Day 1) – scan 1 and hormonal bloods at clinic
- 8 June (= Cycle Day 6) – scan 2 and hormonal bloods at clinic
- 11 June (= Cycle Day 9) – scan 3 and hormonal bloods at clinic
- 13 June (= Cycle Day 11) – scan 4 and hormonal bloods at clinic
- 15/16 June – egg collection
- Three or five days later – egg transfer
I didn’t write down when the Gonal F (first at 225 and then at 150, according to Dr O previously) starts in this scenario but I guess after the first scan or thereabouts. And I imagine the Pregnyl ovulation trigger is around 14 June. Egg transfer would preferably be on day five, allowing them to see how the fertilised eggs have developed, though if there are only a small number they might not take the risk of waiting until day five and transfer instead on day three.
Realistically, I can’t see this starting until July, what with the inevitable wait for the sperm to arrive. If the sperm were to arrive within six weeks from today, I could just about make it in mid-June, when my period is due, but it seems unlikely. Two and a half months to wait until we start I guess.
So, where did my u-turn come from? I think it has been percolating in my mind for the last six weeks or so, since talking to Dr O. As you might recall, I was pretty flummoxed when they suggested IVF after only three IUIs. I don’t have fertility issues; my egg reserve is good; and I absolutely hate taking drugs. But Dr O made a good case. Time is not on my side and I could pfaff around with two or three further IUIs, even get a pregnancy out of one of them, and still lose it due to dodgy egg quality. Six months down the line, I would be nearly €5k poorer and with older eggs. And possibly having to take higher levels of drugs in the eventual IVF cycle (the last bit I am guessing about).
My clinic’s IVF doesn’t include genetic testing but, even so, the odds of working with a healthier embryo are higher when you’ve waited either the three or five days to see how the selection of fertilised eggs has developed. Assuming you have a selection to choose from.
A round of IVF will cost about €6.5k. Not cheap. The money will have to come out of the house fund – but at least I have it. And at least we have these options nowadays. Not long ago, clinics in my country wouldn’t treat single women at all.
So that’s where I’m at. I’m satisfied with my choice, though a part of me is very sad that I’ll probably never get pregnant naturally or even semi-naturally. But, as I say, we’re lucky to have these options. And I’m relieved too to have made the decision.