At our IVF consultation, Dave asked our doctor how many embryos we might be able to hope for to freeze. Dr. E shook her head and said, "you shouldn't expect any to freeze, she really doesn't make that many eggs." I went home and cried.
After my last IUI cycle, I was told that because I had such a poor response, I should pick up my FSH meds as needed, after each ultrasound and blood work because it was very likely I wouldn't make enough eggs to even make it to retrieval. It wasn't Dr. E being cruel, it was just reality and she wanted us to try to save the money if our cycle got canceled and we had to try again.
Part of my problem was this cyst, this endometrioma I named Bertha, that was possibly inhibiting my ovarian response. Dr. E thought aspirating it would help solve the problem. Last year, August of 2006, I had a laparoscopy where Dr. D removed endo, which was significantly on my right ovary and he removed an endometrioma from inside my right ovary. Each time they remove cysts from inside ovaries with a laser (the best method to get an endometrioma to be gone and stay gone) it damages the egg reserve. Part of me wanted to get rid of Bertha once and for all (it causes me pain), but my doctor and I were concerned of the long-term damage that such surgery could cause my ovary, especially since my right ovary may be pretty badly damaged.
While my FSH is okay (8.1 at its highest), and my antral follicle count last summer was 15, Dr. still considers me to have diminished ovarian reserve. She says that this is mainly due to my age and the endometriosis. Stupid endo!!
Dr. E recommended to do the cyst aspiration and it was scheduled for December 12th, just a few weeks before beginning our first IVF cycle. She understood my concern that I wouldn't produce enough eggs to make it to retrieval and sadly, she wasn't able to allay those fears. She said it was very possible.
Bertha was aspirated and it was then that I realized how much pain that cyst was causing. It wasn't a tremendous amount, by any means, but it was a noticeable difference. I felt so much better after having that cyst emptied! Unfortunately, I started feeling the pressure return right around Christmas. I thought it must have been my imagination, but an ultrasound on January 2nd showed that Bertha had come back and was about the normal size it's been at rest (when not stimulating with FSH meds). Bummer. We feared our cycle would be canceled before it even began. It all hinged on blood work that day. Dr. E wanted to make sure that Bertha was not interfering with my hormone levels.
Fortunately, the blood work was good and we were able to proceed, but with Bertha, the fear of not producing enough eggs was greater. My first follicle check on January 9th showed pretty much no response to the medication. I was told that there were maybe 3 small antral-sized follicles on each side and that while I may produce as many as 6 eggs, we should be prepared to decide whether or not to do a retrieval if I only got 1-2 follicles (they like to see 3 for retrieval). They canceled my appointment for January 11th because they didn't think there would be any news.
On January 12th the ultrasound showed 7 follicles, 6 of which were with Bertha on the left (there was also a possible new endometrioma, but we won't worry about that for now)! I was over the moon, but then I got the call that our cycle was likely to be canceled. Fortunately, they had me continue the meds just in case and a follow-up blood test was fine, so they said it was a lab error.
The next ultrasound showed even more follicles. Still, only one on the right and the rest all on the left with Bertha. After the lab error shattered my hopes, I was able to build them back up as I went back to the clinic each day for another ultrasound and daily blood work. We had our egg retrieval on January 18th and they retrieved 9 eggs! Of the 9, 6 fertilized. Of the 6 miracles, 2 of them were text-book perfect 8-cell grade I embryos. We transferred those two along with one 7-cell grade II embryo (also very beautiful and perfect to me). Of the remaining 3, we had one 9I, one 9II, and one 10II. They did assisted hatching on the 3 they transferred and continued to culture the remaining 3 to see if they could make it to blastocysts for freezing. We were told that it's about a 50-60% chance of them making it.
The excellent news is that we now have 2 frozen miracles! They are graded 5BA and 3AA. The best grading at my clinic on a 5-day blast is 5AA. The embryologist said both of our snowbabies are excellent quality and stand a very good chance at making it through FET (frozen embryo transfer).
I actually feel pretty good about this cycle as it is, but I also hope to be able to use the snowbabies. I would love 3-4 children, but I think Dave still is set on only 2. At this point, I would be so delighted with any child, as I realize what a true blessing every child is.
If going through this journey has taught me anything, it has been about hope, faith, and about appreciating people and yourself.
I hope I still feel this hopeful and have this much faith come Friday, February 1st. It's going to be a very tense day waiting for that phone call that could either inform me of a miraculous passage to pregnancy, or bring me heartache and the despair that comes with that BFN (big fat negative - the despair of this seems to be exponentially increased depending on how many times it is experienced and how much one is invested - emotionally mainly).
Thank you to those that read my words here. Thank you even more to those that leave the loving comments. You keep brightening my days.