FET #2 from IVF #1

Super-Secret Post
Concerning cycle 42 (approximately March 2015)

Ah yes. Cycle 42. The answer to life, the universe, and everything.

The second frozen embryo transfer had the upside of familiarity going for it. We already knew the protocol and were familiar with all the medication and schedule. This was only the second time ever in our treatments that we were repeating the same thing as the previous cycle, and knew exactly what to expect.

As I started to ramp up the estrogen doses, I tried out a fantastic medication management app called DoseCast. The ability to set start and end dates for medication meant that I could program in the increases and changing frequencies all at once, not needing to go in and change my alarms manually four times through the cycle.

The estrogen was in easy to swallow pills so I didn’t lose any freedom for the first phase of the cycle. One of my alarms did go while I was on a ski lift one afternoon; I waited until I got to the top to pop the pill. (Being able to continue doing the things I love as long as possible is really important to me.) Going out of town for a different weekend was no problem. Yay.

Unfortunately, at my supposed-to-be-final ultrasound my uterine lining wasn’t quite ready (short by .1mm which sounds more like a margin of error than anything). I needed to continue the same medication for a few more days to make sure we gave our embryo the best shot.

This prompted me to email my husband at work with the update that “the oven’s not preheated yet”.

The other thing that happened this cycle is that I met another one of the clinic’s doctors. Since a different one can be on call at any point in time, during treatment I usually see a bunch of them who just follow my main doc’s proposed treatment, reacting to my cycle’s data if necessary. But I hadn’t met this doctor yet.

I was literally confused by his optimism.

I made the mistake of mentioning that I didn’t expect this transfer to work. After all, it was only whatever low quality it was and the last one thawed out to be a bit worse.

He sat back down and straightened out the whole quality-after-thaw thing. Even though they grade the quality post-thaw and sometimes it’s worse than the quality pre-thaw, as long as the embryos survive the thaw, there’s no change in the rate of pregnancy. Ok, you haven’t lost me yet. But that’s still only 30% chance.

He then said “I sure hope that when this baby grows up it doesn’t hear you speaking so poorly about its embryo!” He went on to say that “For your second baby, we may put you on a different protocol.” I honestly thought for a moment he meant they wouldn’t change my protocol until I had a successful birth first, but of course he was calling this embryo on ice the first baby. I was literally confused by his optimism.

Of course this isn’t nearly as bad as the friends who have him as their primary physician (and are trying to navigate around all this positivity CONSTANTLY) or even worse, the friend who saw him for the first time on rotation (like me) and was told when she triggered ovulation medically to relax by “cooking your husband a nice dinner.” She and her partner aren’t married, and that doesn’t sound relaxing to her anyway.

Anyway, after another couple of days of estrogen, the oven was preheated as t’were, and it was time to start the progesterone injections again. At least we had a little left over from last time! After all, those vials are expensive.

… aaaaand a little bit of the rubber lid ended up in the vial (probably because it had been opened a few months earlier and dried out) meaning we had to throw away at least five doses. I sure feel strange thinking “Oooh! 20¢ off canned tomatoes this week! Better stock up!” when I’m also throwing away medication worth around $100. That’s a lot of canned vegetables.

Anyway, that crazily optimistic doctor is lucky he wasn’t around for me to punch in the mouth when, while I was getting my stuff together to leave for the embryo transfer appointment, I got the call that our second embryo didn’t survive thawing and so the transfer was cancelled.

On the one hand, if it wasn’t going to make it anyway, I saved a bunch of medication and worrying and that’s easier to handle.

On the other hand, there’s no refund for a cancelled transfer nor the medication I was on for three weeks completely unnecessarily, so it would have been better to burn that money in the fireplace because at least that would have saved us on our gas bill for an evening. And yay for pretty fire.

And on the third hand… 42. The answer to life, the universe, and everything. Cells sometimes divide after thawing, and sometimes don’t. Sometimes implant, and sometimes don’t. Sometimes become something detectable on a home pregnancy test, and sometimes they only show up on bloodtests. Not all of those can be life. What is the question?

We were out of embryos and back to square one. The next available appointment for the doctor was in six weeks (mid-May), so we knew already that two more cycles would go to waste.

For those of you playing at home, even with the final cycle being cut short by two weeks, our first IVF “cycle” took 6 calendar months to resolve from start to finish even though we’d only made two embryos. I’d discovered another dimension to the long delays the process offers.

How much do I have to go through before people will understand if I give up?

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