I went to my "WTF appointment" and I asked Dr. Toma why the cycle was results were so terrible. He said the cycle went bad because my body didn't respond to the medicine. Really? One year ago I had 5 fertilized embryos, transferred the best two, and 3 were frozen at day 5 blasts- and we used A LOT LESS meds to get me there. Plus- my estrogen sky-rocketed at the start of meds- such that they had to take the dosages down.
What I think happened is that they took me off birth control and waited too long to start stimulating the follicles (5 days). By the time they started stims, there was uneven growth in the follicles and when stimulated, it produced only a few leaders. Add that to the fact I was probably ready to trigger on a Thursday or Friday, but because that would make revival happen on a Saturday or Sunday, I feel like they pushed out my trigger to conveniently have my retrieval on a Monday :/ But again, Dr. Toma would said it was my body that just didn't respond correctly- and I'm the infertile one, so he has to be right. What I hate about fertility doctors is that they can never be wrong. They always have the excuse that " The patients body did not respond." But statistically, they have to mess up some time. Every other hospital in America has a department that manages the mistakes of doctors and nurses- it is normal human error. But not so for the fertility docs- they can never be held accountable for a botched cycle.
I got the most kind and gentle email from Super Uterus- telling us that every test she took had been negative and that she was so sorry to tell us. We had prepared for a negative- expected it really. I was glad for it to be over- the wanting to hope but not wanting to be hopeful. The worst part for me was having to tell my loved ones that it didn't work. I don't know exactly why it is so upsetting for me- seeing as I just group texted them. But it was like I was letting them down- in the face of all the support and hopes they had. Another failure that I had to admit. There is definitely part of me that wishes that I could go through all of this without telling anyone- JUST to avoid having to tell anyone it failed. again. It makes me feel so desperate. It makes me question why I am trying so hard to have a child in the first place. Is it worth all this pain, money, time, and risk? Most people say that it is "worth" it. And they would know because they have the kids to prove it. But I think maybe in some cases it is not. I'm getting a better understanding of my good friends who have chosen to live "child free" instead of pursuing a life of one failed infertility treatment after another. That being said- I'm not there yet. We are not quite sure about what the next step is but we will keep you posted. How lame would this surrogacy blog be if we never get pregnant?? It had better work.
As things started going downhill during the follicle stimulating phase, The Manager and I said things like "We only need three embryos" "One out of 3 transfers should work" "It probably won't work the first time". I embraced good luck charms this cycle to try to get me through it. It's something that I could do differently than in past cycles- maybe it is what would make it work this time. I painted my nails green all throughout the cycle. I tried to wear green as much as I could- and did quite a nice job of integrating green into my wardrobe. It isn't a color that I wear often!
Luck only seemed to be on my side for scheduling with retrieval and transfer. In the lead up to the main events (retrieval and transfer), The Manager and I were so worried that the surgery or transfer would fall on days that would be really bad for our work-life. But luckily- retrieval happened on a decent Monday. The Manager dropped me off and Super Uterus picked me up and tucked me in at home after it was done. I went into retrieval with a population of follicles that was over mature and a population of follicles that were under mature (see chart below). At my "WTF appointment", the doctor would tell me he was "hoping" that small ones would catch up and he could still work with the larger ones. I woke up to hear that they only got 4 mature eggs :/
By day five (transfer day), only one embryo was still growing but it didn't have a high quality score- so that's about when I gave up completely. It was really hard getting this news with Super Uterus. It was time for her to be really hopeful about the embryo transfer, but it was just really bad news. We wouldn't have any embryos to freeze to try again if this transfer didn't work.
Perhaps the coolest and creepiest thing about this clinic is that the embryologist- Stanley- literally brought the embryo from across the hall into the transfer room to an incubator similar to the kind used for NICU babies. We all got to have a look at it sitting there in it's little petri dish in pink media. It all seemed very unconventional to me as my old clinic in Michigan just had tiny window from the embryology lab into the STERILE transfer room. The window opened when everyone was ready and the doctor loaded up the embryo in a syringe to transfer. Dr.Toma was not even in scrubs and we were in a normal ultrasound room. Super Uterus wrote in more detail about the transfer over at her Part-Time Uterus blog.
I told Super Uterus that I didn't want to know any of the results from her home pregnancy tests (HPTs) until the morning we were to get blood drawn two weeks after transfer to see if she was pregnant (this is called a Beta HCG test, or Beta for short). The reason I didn't want to know- is that there are, sadly, many times you can become pregnant transiently, technically- but then a few days later, the pregnancy ends. I didn't want to get my hopes up at all at any point only for them to be crushed at the Beta test. During the two-week wait, I realized that at some point- Super Uterus was going to have a pretty good idea of how it was going based on the results of her HPTs. If they were bad, I was so worried about her being upset, and having to go through it on her own because she was keeping this part of her journey largely private so that I didn't find out. I know how awful it is to try your hardest to do everything right- and to not understand or accept that the tests are negative. By 9 days past the embryo transfer, many of the people that I was cycling with (women who had IVF retrieval and transfer on the same days that Super Uterus and I did) were already having their Beta test results. I felt like it was a good time to ask for her results, as they were not likely to change by the time we went for the Beta test. They were, of course, negative and we are ready to think about what is next for these two uteri.
Many thanks to two Super Uteri for helping our site be beautiful and for documenting our journey. Sandra Paa created these awesome Super Uterus graphics. They are so powerful, fun and united- they represent so much how we would like to be on this adventure in infertility. When you think of me- fighting the good fight- I hope you see me as the feirce red uterus in the middle- I have claimed her as my icon too. Also we are very thankful for Rachel Campbell for coming to our transfer and photographing these important moments. Her professional photos are sprinkled throughout the site now (photos above in this post), and the one on our home page of me and Super Uterus was taken by her. They are all amazing, but this one below is my favorite: me and Super Uterus doing what we normally do.
The Phoenix - rising from the ashes of infertility. Super power- extreme worrying.