It’s been more than 17 months since my last update and so much has happened since my last post. Most importantly, after 4 years of actively trying to get pregnant, I finally got my BFP! In the 4 long years of working towards this dream, those 3 little words appeared only as a mirage. It was always a beautiful almost mythical idea that I dreamed of, but never truly thought I’d see. That is until Dec 22, 2014, with the help of IVF, I learned that I was pregnant. The news floored me. Even after hearing it, I did not believe it because I was so accustomed to mourning failure that I didn’t understand what it meant to finally have success.
But success did not come easily. In July 2013, I started alternative therapies including acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I changed my diet, exercise regime, and was on weekly acupuncture therapy. The hope was that with alternate therapies, I could regain hormonal balance and some regularity to my cycles. After 5 months or so of therapy, I was clearly improving, with somewhat regulated cycles and what seemed like clear ovulation spikes. But, I was not pregnant.
Although, I felt healthier than I had ever been, eating and exercising regularly, and acupuncture healing my stagnant energy, I did not get pregnant. This was when my TCM doctor suggested that I look into Western medicine’s Assisted Reproductive Therapies (ART) like IVF. At the time, the notion of IVF felt like a last ditch solution. I felt then that I could get pregnant, but was fearful of such invasive therapies like IVF. So, I pushed it off.
But I wasn’t naive to my situation and I knew that I likely needed a little more help than just TCM alone. So I sought out my family doctor and asked for Clomid. Many years previous, I had seen a fertility doctor who prescribed me Clomid. But at the time, when I learned I had PCOS, it broke my heart and I completely rejected the idea of trying any drugs or therapy. Fast forward and I was back in the doctor’s office asking for the drug that I had previously whole heartedly written off.
Well, Clomid didn’t work. In fact, it made it worse. My cycle on Clomid was exceptionally long and I clearly did not ovulate. It was a bust. This was when I decided to seek out my fertility doctor once more and get on with it. The following 4 months or so, I tried 2 cycles of Letrozole with IUI without success and was scheduled to try Superovulation. However, at our meeting with the doctor, we learned a lot more about IVF, ICSI and CCS and decided that given the dramatic difference in success rates between Superovulation and IVF, that it was more beneficial for us to go straight into IVF, which had a 70% chance of success vs Superovulation which had a 15-20% chance of success.
So in Oct 2014, we started the process of IVF. We opted to do the “full meal deal” so to speak with ICSI and CCS included in our IVF protocol. I started with a priming period, then followed the injection phase for about 2 weeks. A trigger shot was given and the clinic retrieved 20 eggs. We were thrilled. 20 eggs was a good number and so we were confident that going through this whole IVF thing would be smooth sailing from there.
Well, it was not as smooth as we had hoped. We had gale winds and thunderstorms the rest of the way through. It was the worse roller coaster of emotions I’ve ever had to endure and the physical pain of the injections pales in comparison to the mental anguish of the weeks to follow.
Although we had 20 eggs retrieved, 18 were fertilized via ICSI. By day 3, our 18 dropped to 9. A dramatic drop off that I was no prepared for, though still a good number, we thought. By day 5 though, we were left with 6, but the embryologists said they had to wait another day before they could be biopsied due to their size. At first I didn’t quite understand what they had meant, but in retrospect, I now understand that the day 5 blastocysts were growing slower than normal and were not large enough to be safely biopsied for the CCS DNA analysis. At that point, I still felt confident that with 6, we would be left with 4 or so to be biopsied the next day, but when day 6 came along and I got the call about the eggs, I was floored to learn only 2 had survived. My heart sank into my stomach and it felt like all our hopes were dashed in those 6 short days.
With only 2 blastocysts to biopsy, what were the chances than any of them would be normal? I cried and cried and cried, but the tears seemed pointless. It would be a week or so before we would get the CCS results for our 2 surviving blasts. I prepared for the worse. I told myself it would be likely that none were normal. And I convinced myself that this was likely the end of the road. And I relegated myself to this conclusion.
6 days passed and the results came in – earlier than I had expected. Early that morning, I received the call from the clinic and I couldn’t help but feel entirely weak just picking up the phone. But the geneticists was kind and she did not dispense with any unnecessary pleasantries. She just came right out and said “They’re both normal!” Uh WHAT!? I about dropped the phone and myself on the floor. Those words were not ones I had practiced hearing the last 6 days. I didn’t even think it was possible that both could be normal. The odds simply did not appear in our favour. But there it was, my remaining 2 beautiful embryos were spectacularly normal! I cried and cried and cried, though this time, the tears did not feel so futile after all.
And so with 2 precious little embryos awaiting us, we did our first frozen transfer of a single normal embryo on Dec 11, 2014. The coolest part was seeing our little embryo shown on a tv inside the procedure room just prior to transfer. It was bizarre to see a seemingly amorphous blob of cells that would be, or rather, could be, our future child. And all the work, heartache, sweat, and tears in the last 4 years was to create that tiny cluster I was seeing now on the screen. The whole idea seemed a little loopy.
But there it was, and in 10 minutes or less, the doctor had put that magical bundle of cells inside me. I was now carrying my most precious cargo.
You would think though that relief would sweep over you once the transfer is complete. It does not. Now it is the constant worry, the constant anticipation, the constant symptom detection, the constant fear that consumes you in the two week wait. And although I only had to wait 11 days, versus 14, it felt like the longest 11 days of my life.
Not only did I have terrible bloating, gas, and back pain, likely due to the progesterone I was given, but ever twinge, ache, or cramp freaked me out. My mom prescribed absolute bed rest. And me, being naive and gullible at this very delicate time thought even a little walking could possibly disrupt the tender process of implantation. And so I sat at home doing nothing, feeling anxious, and growing exceedingly squirrely in the process.
In retrospect, all the fuss was probably not necessary. I would have not prescribed bed rest or house arrest (as I now refer to it) because it made the 11 days worse than ever. I realized half way through that fresh air was needed, moving my body was vital, and that the terrible back ache I was developing was only worsened by well doing, nothing.
But Dec 22, 2014 finally came, the day of my Beta HCG blood test. I went in early that morning for the test with every intention of finding out the worst. After all, I had never gotten a positive before, why would this time be any different? So by the afternoon on the phone with the nurse when she said “Congratulations!”, I had a moment thought “For what?”. I was pregnant. Or rather, I AM pregnant.
And so after 4 long years and a whole lot of science later, I am so excited and relieved to report that I am almost 9 weeks pregnant with an expected August 2015 arrival of our little cyborg baby. 🙂