I sidled out of work one afternoon this week for my “where do we go from here” appointment with the lovely Dr L.
Hats off once again to those of you who have to sneak out of your workplaces for fertility appointments, take hushed phone calls from the clinic in the stairwell and inject yourselves in the corporate toilets. I’m usually in the luxurious position of running this fertility project from home, which is a lot less stressful. Having said that, working on-site with one client and doing other work in the evenings has kept me so busy that I haven’t had time to dwell on the recent negative result, which has been a healthy thing.
This one hit me really hard, I will admit. I didn’t cry through three IUIs and the first three frozen embryo transfers, despite a biochemical pregnancy on the first IUI, four negative results and a very early miscarriage on FET #3. This time around, from the time I got the phone call at around 3pm at work, I was a wreck. I sat at my desk silently fighting tears off, kept it together on the tram on the way home and then went and cried in the shower. My Dad found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time that evening when I started bawling on his shoulder. After all the fuss and happiness about my positive result in March, I had kept my FETs in June and September largely to myself, telling only a few friends. There was way too much disappointment the last time. Plus, it’s slightly unnatural for people to know you are pregnant as early as five weeks. So, my poor father was pretty bemused when I started weeping, his first question being “Have you had a breakup?”. He was great about it, as ever, and told my mother, who told my brother and sister, saving me from having to do that work myself.
My mother’s take was that I should maybe switch clinics. She has a pretty superb immune system and managed to produce four healthy children the usual way with no problems. She’s particularly sceptical about the drugs. I had been toying with getting my records and having a consultation with another clinic but my instinct told me that a new outfit would promise the earth and probably deliver the same thing as my current clinic. Most likely after another barrage of very expensive tests and lots more time wasted. Having not been happy at all with my clinic during the IUIs, I’ve found the care much better during IVF. But the bottom line is that I’ve spent around €22,500 and over two years (my first consultation was in July 2012, unbelievable) trying to have a baby and, despite apparently having great fertility for my age, seven attempts later (seven attempts seem so few over that long a period) I’m still not even pregnant. I find it hard to grasp that a third Christmas is almost upon me and I’m not even pregnant.
Work being very intense, I didn’t have time to prepare any questions for Dr L. But the main one was always going to be, “With six decent embryos, what the **** happened here?” I wasn’t really expecting any concrete answers, as no one really knows why these things don’t work. But Dr L was quite heartening and practical as ever. I said I wasn’t ready to give up and she said I shouldn’t (would they ever tell someone to give up and stop spending money?). Her take is that it probably isn’t the immune thing that is causing my problem. We’re “throwing the kitchen sink” at the immune issues and my lining etc was great before the transfers, which leads her to believe that the problem lay with the six embryos we produced last summer. This could be a problem with the eggs or with the sperm. They don’t do genetic testing at my clinic and the best they offer is Eeva, which I had the last time; she wouldn’t bother with Eeva again in my case. It’s possible that the fact I was overstimulated and produced 19 eggs (which she said was way too much for a small little body like mine) may have affected their quality. It may also have been that the sperm wasn’t great or just didn’t suit me and she thinks I should try a different donor.
They would change my protocol so that I am not overstimulated next time and hopefully produce better-quality eggs. She has had a patient like me who had no success with one batch of embryos but got pregnant immediately on the next batch (she did say the same about Neupogen as I recall).
I had been wondering if she would suggest donor eggs, which (at the moment) I don’t think is for me, so I left feeling a lot more optimistic and ready to try again. Dr L advised me to get the sperm sorted first, as this is always the log-jam. I am with her on this: in my experience of the clinic, ordering sperm has been the most frustrating and time-consuming part of this whole process.
After allowing the dust to settle for a day or so, I emailed G, the lab director at the clinic, at around 2pm on Friday to get the ball (unintentional…) rolling. Miraculously (or because I cc’d Dr L), he mailed back an hour or so later with the names of five available identifiable, extended-profile donors. I looked at them straight away and one stood out. His letter to potential future parents made me a little tearful. I mailed back within the hour – and by 5.30pm G had agreed to reserve the samples.
The sperm will arrive in late November, so I think I will be ready to start on the pill again come my next period. I’ll talk to the nurses next week to get my schedule and meds together.
So, here we go again. It’s been fabulous being off all drugs for the last few weeks and I feel I’ve got my body back. I’ve returned to the weight I was at before all this started, which may also have something to do with being back in an office environment and rushing around a lot more. It’s not a bad place to start off from again. There is a chance that I could have egg collection before Christmas if my period arrives on time, so at least I could be going into 2015 with some semblance of progress and not entirely at (older) square one.
Plus, I have a good feeling about this donor.
As ever, only time will tell.