It's been a little while since I've provided an update here on my IVF journey. Round 3, which I began in January, was the first time I shared my journey publicly, and if you've followed me on social media, you might remember seeing me get excited and then kind of let down (more like a lot let down). That's the reality of this journey; there are literally so many things that can go wrong, and so far, I've experienced almost all of the negative outcomes: failed cycle, chemical pregnancy, and no normal embryos to transfer.
Recently, I joined a couple of IVF support groups on Facebook. By now, I'm not a newbie to this process, so it was funny when I came across a term (or two) that I was totally clueless about (I still have no idea what "beta" refers to). When I talk about my experience, I try to explain it in plain language and avoid using acronyms for everything, but it's not always easy. So, before I go on, here are a few of the basics:
IVF: In-vitro fertilization, an assisted reproduction process where a woman's ovaries are stimulated through a protocol of hormones; eggs are retrieved, and mature eggs are combined with a sperm sample in a lab to form embryos, to be eventually implanted back into the woman's uterus (there are certain types of IVF, but I won't get into those)
Egg retrieval: the process of retrieving the eggs from a woman's follicles after a period of stimulation
Embryo transfer: the process of implanting a fresh or frozen embryo into a woman's uterus to hopefully result in pregnancy
Fresh transfer: transferring a recently developed embryo into a woman's uterus
Frozen transfer: transferring a frozen embryo into a woman's uterus
Two-week wait: the two weeks one must wait between the day of transfer and finding out if pregnancy has occurred
Failed cycle: an IVF round where transfer does not result in pregnancy
Chemical pregnancy: a very early pregnancy loss that occurs before a fetus is detected at ultrasound
PGS/PGT testing: two types of genetic testing in which embryos are tested for chromosomal abnormalities prior to transfer (a genetically-normal embryo is more likely to be carried to term and result in a healthy baby)
So far, each time we've had three embryos that made it to day five. After genetic testing the first two rounds, we had only one of the three embryos return from testing as chromosomally normal. If you have additional embryos, then you will have them frozen to be transferred at a later time. Therefore, with only one each time to work with, if that one wasn't successful that meant we'd be starting the whole process again from square one.
I was asked last time when my transfer would be only to have to say that I wouldn't be having one, which was an outcome I was terrified of. And this was my outcome of my third round: no normal embryos to transfer. We'd be starting the process all over again, which brings me to the present. We're presently preparing for our next egg retrieval, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, 3/28 (this process doesn't care that it's a weekend, LOL).
After yesterday's monitoring, I was feeling really down. According to the doctor, I only had about three eggs that were large enough to possibly make it to be a mature embryo to be retrieved. Of course, it's still early on in terms of this stimulation so there's still some time, but this doctor (whom I never saw before) spoke in a monotone voice and did not leave me feeling good. This is just one reason why it's so important you like your doctor and have a good rapport with him or her! He's not my usual doctor, but on the weekends you get whoever is on call. Although I'd prefer to see my doctor, Dr. Ryan Martin, every time, I know that he's got to have a day off sometimes!
Anyway, I checked in with my nurse today and felt better when she told me that there's still time and that my comment about the doctor on Sunday wasn't the first time she's heard that!
I'm off to get in the shower before my nightly injection, courtesy of Nurse Jared. Tomorrow morning is my next acupuncture appointment (twice per week leading up to egg retrieval), followed by bloodwork and ultrasound monitoring on Wednesday morning. This is like another full-time job, I swear (which is a big reason why I'm not working a full-time job).
So, there you have it: Round 3 for me was not the charm. Will round 4 be a success? Only time will tell.