Saturday, February 2, 2008

The beginning of IVF

We took the summer off trying to get pregnant, and just relaxed. There was a lot going on in our lives, mostly revolving around Julie & Scott's wedding, which was a great distraction. But at the end of the summer, we decided it was time. I called FCI, and we got started.

First of all, a brief explanation of how IVF works. An IVF cycle occurs in five parts:
1) Suppression: Birth control pills help suppress and control the body's normal cycle. Suppression gets your body ready for what's next.
2) Stimulation: Drugs are given to stimulate growth of follicles in the ovaries. Each month a woman's body is supposed to produce one follicle, containing one egg. Stimulation increases that number and typically FCI said they would hope to get 10-12 mature follicles.
3) Egg retrieval: A high dose of hormone is given 36 hours before the retrieval to finalize the development of the follicles, and then the eggs are retrieved under general anesthesia. The mature eggs are then fertilized "in-vitro" and monitored for embryo development.
4) Embryo transfer: Up to three fertilized eggs, now embryos, are transfered back to the uterus under ultrasound guidance.
5) Two Week Wait (2WW) & Beta: The two week wait is the time between the embryo transfer and the beta, or blood pregnancy test that measures the level of the pregnancy hormone, HCG.

And so it began in August 2007. I went on birth control just before Julie & Scott's wedding. Before we got to the stimulation part of the cycle, I got canceled because I wasn't suppressing well enough. We were disappointed, but ready to try again.

In October 2007, our second attempt underway, things looked good! Suppression worked well, and stimulation was doing its job. On October 21, I had my egg retrieval. I was nervous, but felt pretty good. The anesthesiologist was awesome! I warned him that I have bad veins, and he got me easily in one stick. I remember waking up from the procedure in tears and thanking everyone in the room, which they told Ben was a side effect of the anesthesia. I went back on October 24 for the embryo transfer. They had gotten six eggs, two of which were mature and fertilized, so on the day of the transfer, they put two embryos back. One was a great quality 8-cell embryo (8-cell is ideal for transfer) and the other was an okay quality 6-cell embryo.

The 2WW was torturous, and I was relieved to finally have my beta on Monday, November 5. I had a gut feeling the weekend prior to the beta that I wasn't pregnant, so when I got the call that the test came back "positive, but not a good positive", I was devastated, but not surprised.

My test results came back with an HCG level of 6.71. Technically, anything over a 5 is positive, but I wasn't having any delusions that it would be viable. I went back a few more time that week for follow up bloodwork (b/w), until the number was below 1, and then it was done. They termed it a "chemical pregnancy", meaning that the embryos had just never nestled in. I had been pregnant in the sense that I had two embryos, pieces of both Ben & I joined, inside of me, but they just hadn't attached to my uterus the way they should have.

We took some time to ourselves to process the loss. We had just gotten Toby, our blue point himalayan kitten, so he was able to give us some joy. I told Ben that we deserved a break, and I *needed* a break. It was then that we booked our trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I think it was exactly what we needed to relax and clear our minds, and gave us time to just focus on us and our relationship for a change. I think that trip did the trick...

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