Exactly one year ago today, I had my first consultation at the fertility clinic. Thinking that if I got pregnant by, say, September, I’d have a June baby. A few months before, in April, I had started on folic acid tablets, worried that maybe I wouldn’t be on them for the recommended 16 weeks before getting pregnant.
Three IUIs (including one chemical pregnancy), one almost complete IVF cycle and €14,000 later, I’m still not pregnant. And I’ve had a much easier ride of it than many women. There were no health issues identified that delayed treatment. I had no fertility problems (other than hitting 40 without a man), everything was working as it should be and my egg reserve was good.
The moral of this story is that fertility treatment is probably going to take much longer than you expect it to. We all start out gung ho, knowing the odds but hoping to be the exceptional ones who are successful the first time, but the stats will tell you this is rarely the case. My message to any woman thinking about becoming a single mother by choice or any woman in a relationship with fertility problems/missing sperm is to book that initial consultation sooner rather than later, as soon as you feel it’s the right thing for you. Don’t be scared and don’t put it off. You can always change your mind(s) once you’ve talked to someone the first time. Between waiting for an appointment, getting all the tests done at the appropriate time of your cycle, ordering sperm if you have to and rectifying any health problems that arise, it could take many months before you’re ready for your first shot.
Having said I’ve had it easier than most, we’ve reached a little bump in the road. I had a scan today to see how we were doing on the ovarian hyperstimulation front. I was very uncomfortable and a bit miserable yesterday and woke up the same way today but with an added slight pain on my left side. The scan showed that, although my ovaries were settling down in size, the fluid collected in the pouch of Douglas had increased in size from about 5.3 x 3.7cm to 6.9 x 3.9 cm.
Nurse D asked me what I wanted to do. I replied that it was hard to know, not knowing how I was supposed to feel after retrieval, but my instinct was that if the fluid was increasing in its own right without any extra stims, becoming pregnant probably wasn’t going to help the situation. I knew a fresh transfer would be better than a frozen one but I was uneasy about trying to get pregnant when there was something wrong (and a problem that didn’t exist before, at that). She responded that the increased HCG levels of an early pregnancy would be likely to exacerbate any problem. Dr O would probably take a similarly conservative view. She consulted with him and, as expected, we’re cancelling the transfer tomorrow.
I’ll have another scan on Monday. I met the lovely Nurse M in the corridor as I was leaving and explained the situation. I think she was surprised but she responded that it’s better to be as healthy as possible going into a pregnancy and that if your head is not right with proceeding it’s best not to.
I’m actually pretty relieved. A pregnancy is risky enough at 40, particularly if there is a prospect of multiples. Even though this is a mild case of OHSS, the thought of starting off with an existing problem that might get worse didn’t sit easily with me. I don’t know how many embryos have made it to the blastocyst stage (I would have found that out this afternoon if we had been going tomorrow) and how many will make it to frozen but with 17 fertilised hopefully it will be okay.
I asked how a frozen egg transfer would work roughly and Nurse D said it would be a walk in the park compared to a full IVF cycle. They would scan me around the time of the next period after the OHSS is gone. Back on the pill and the nasal spray to calm things down and no stims this time.
And (bonus), there will be no extra charge, as this is still included in the transfer. I’ve already had two extra scans that we hadn’t bargained for and haven’t been charged for those or the TEG blood test, so I’m pretty pleased about this. Despite this blip, the IVF experience has been so much better than the IUI experience.
My nose started bleeding a little today, which may be related to the heparin blood thinner, so D said I need to keep an eye on that. I’m to stop the progesterone and Estrofem, finish the last few Dostinex and my last antibiotic, and continue with the Clexane for the foreseeable.
It would have been nice to have had the transfer tomorrow, almost a year to the day, but it’s not the end of the world. And I might even have a drink now at the 40th I’m flying to next week (if you can drink with heparin, must ask on Monday, must also check whether I need a doctor’s note to carry the injections on the plane).
Fingers crossed that a good number of the embryos make it to frozen. I’ll find out on Sunday.