Hope Is Not Lost: An Update On Our IVF Journey
Updated: Apr 17, 2022
The last time I posted on here I was awaiting my 39th birthday -- as well as the genetic testing results of the three embryos resulting from my fourth egg retrieval.
I had a fun birthday dinner out with my hubby, my mom, and a good friend -- just the thing to take my mind off the bad news I had heard the day before on April 16, two days after my birthday.
It was a Friday afternoon, and it was late in the day at my part-time job. Basically, I was counting down the minutes til it was time to go home, when, suddenly, my phone rang. I grabbed my handbag, headed to the back room, and said "Hello?" after seeing that the call was local.
It was my doctor. I immediately got worried since the last time he called me, he called with bad news. Anyway, it was bad news he was calling with this time, though he said he sometimes calls with good news, too.
He received my testing results -- no chromosomally normal embryos. He told me to call back Monday to schedule a consultation to discuss next steps. Having been around the block when it comes to this process, I had a good idea what this discussion would involve: the move to donor eggs.
After the call, I sat back down and let out a heavy sigh. I was still processing this news. I knew it was a possibility, obviously, since the last retrieval we had no normal embryos, but twice in a row? I knew it was time for Plan B.
I looked up the name of another doctor I was recommended by multiple people. Apparently, he's who you go see in the Philly/South Jersey area when all else fails. I wasn't quite there yet, but now I was. And so I filled out the contact form on the web site and waited.
I had heard that it was likely I'd have to wait awhile to be seen, so when I heard back over the weekend that he may be able to fit me in on Thursday or Friday of that next week I was excited. I totally figured I'd see my current doctor beforehand. But that wasn't the case. I called back on Monday and by Tuesday I got word that a Friday, 4pm appointment was available. I scrambled that week to get the paperwork completed. By the time Thursday night rolled around, I was drained -- just totally and utterly exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I guess that's to be expected after writing out my full medical history -- specifically, the past two years of treatments.
The appointment was... interesting, to say the least. I was bummed that I had to come alone -- office rules -- and so the plan was for my husband to call in on speakerphone. Mom came along for the ride. After going around in a circle twice, we finally made it to this years-old mansion where the local office -- in a suburb of Philly -- was located. I was instructed to wait outside until the receptionist came to get me. Once inside, I was brought upstairs to a dark room with gothic Gargoyle-like decor. The first few minutes of the consultation were just super awkward, and he was all over the place, leaving me thinking at times, "What's this got to do with me?" I had heard he was eccentric and uses out-of-the-box, alternative methods and can seemingly make miracles happen -- which I was totally open to. So I kept hoping it would get better. As our meeting went on, I realized this was probably one of those times where an awkward first impression leads to the beginning of something beautiful.
After the consult, my head was still spinning with everything we spoke about when I left. The doctor sent me to the pharmacy -- which closed at 6pm -- after the consult to pick up my prescriptions. I got lost yet again and totally thought they'd be closed by the time I arrived. To my surprise, the pharmacy was not only still open, but the pharmacist was waiting for me to arrive, as the doctor told her to wait for me. Cool.
I went to sleep the night before feeling exhausted and broken, but headed into the weekend feeling hopeful. In fact, I took my mom to our favorite Chinese restaurant for her birthday, and this was what my fortune read:
By Monday, I was back for a test, and some miscommunication led to a chaotic morning. I continued to do as I was advised. Now I just was anxious to finally speak to our IVF doctor and find out our options from here.
By Thursday, it was finally time for our virtual consult with our IVF doctor. What we heard was not surprising, but at least we had some questions answered. My egg quality was an issue, and there was a pattern developing. Because we were in a Shared Risk program (where we were guaranteed up to 6 IVF cycles and a money-back guarantee if we were not successful), he determined that we reached the point where he was uncomfortable going forward because of the continued risk. He gave us these options: 1) Withdraw from the program and receive a full refund, 2) Try another individual IVF cycle at full price, or 3) Continue with Shared Risk IVF using donor eggs.
We asked plenty of questions so we had all the facts. But we both knew in a we-read-each-others' minds-at-the-end-of-a-Househunters-episode kind of way that option 1 was the right choice for us. So, our plan became this: Get our money back and work with new doctor. Give that some time, and put the donor egg thing on the backburner, knowing we still have some time for that (According to research and the doctors, it's possible -- and likely -- to become pregnant using donor eggs well into your 40s). We figured this would also give us some time to save some additional money for possible future treatments -- either another IVF cycle or donor egg IVF.
I have to admit that I'm actually relieved to have a break from IVF, which became emotionally -- and financially -- draining with each disappointment. The new doctor's plan is to figure out the root of the problem and to try less expensive, minimally-invasive procedures first. So now we move forward with a medicated natural cycle (no IUI or IVF) and go from here.
With this plan, I realize more than ever the importance of taking control of your health. Listen to your doctors, but always ask questions, and don't just take everything at face value. Keep doing research, asking questions, talking to others, and exploring options. And, in time, we should have the answers we seek.