What’s new

24 Sep

After our last heartbreaking loss, a long break from blogging and a lot of  confusion and soul searching about next steps we are back to trying again.  In August we went ahead with another IVF cycle.   Since we transferred and lost the only two that had tested chromosomally “normal”  back in May we had to start all over again.  We tried a few different things this time hoping for something better.  The two big changes were a new test and a new diet.

For this new cycle we requested chromosomal testing on Day 5/6.  In our first IVF cycle in April we tested on Day 3 (per our Dr.’s recommendation) and since then multiple sources have advised that that type of testing is not reliable.  Even though our IVF Dr. has a lot of confidence in Day 3 testing, he seems to be pretty alone.  The theory is that there just aren’t enough cells on Day 3 to get enough information.  In comparison, on Day 5 there are hundreds of cells and more evidence that the tests are consistant and reliable.  In any case, just surviving to Day 5 is a test of embryo health in itself.  So we agreed to to move ahead for another cycle with the same IVF Dr. but this time with Day 5 testing, which meant that we had to do a frozen transfer instead of fresh stretching the whole process out over multiple months and upping the number of steps, expenses, etc.  The lesson I learned, don’t bother with Day 3 testing.

The second twist we added was a change in my diet.  I gave up gluten, dairy and coffee and followed a pretty strict PCOS diet for the time leading up to the egg retrieval.  Despite all the things I’ve done on this journey, this was by far one of the most intensive.  Since I had a real goal with a deadline I was able to manage it, but it was still very challenging.  In addition to my own natural temptations for all things bready/cakey and creamy it was challenging.   My IVF Dr. recommended “cutting down” on dairy and carbs because of my diagnosis of polycystic ovaries, but it was really my idea to go cold turkey like that.  It was one of the few things I had heard might help so I figured it was about time to try something since I was feeling desperate for any action I could take to up our chances.  Since egg quality and embryo quality are the likely suspects with women of my age it felt actually empowering to do something active and take control of my diet.

It was hard enough on my own, but in social situations, travelling, going out to eat, etc. it became something I had to address.  At first I was really shy about what I was doing, but people got curious and it just made it easier to be up front.  I just said I was giving up dairy and gluten for “fertility-reasons” and that was pretty much all I had to say.  One thing I learned- people love talking about foods they are avoiding and why.  And for the first time friends and family could actually “help” me on this journey by making suggestions for gluten-free, dairy-free alternatives.  So much of this journey I am on my own, so whenever someone voluntarily prepared or offered gluten-free/dairy-free foods (esp. desserts) I was so touched.

So what happened?  At the time of our retrieval we were able to collect 16 eggs, a higher number than our first cycle.  Of these 11 made it to Day 5 for testing.  An astonishing 50% came back as chromosomally normal!  He warned us in advance that we should expect only 30% at the most and I was prepping myself for an even lower number.  So in the end we had a higher number of embryos retrieved, with higher quality (more making it to Day 5) and a whopping 50% normal rate which is statistically way above what you would expect from someone of my age.   With such high numbers we didn’t get any clarification about why we are having so many losses, but it did at least help give us confidence that something is working right and we can put the thoughts of an egg donor to rest for now.  Since the only big change in the protocol from last time to this time is my gluten-free/dairy-free diet, my Dr. is crediting this with upping our numbers and quality and as a result I am (sadly) still on the diet.  Perhaps it was just a coincidence, perhaps it made a difference, who knows…

With 6 embryos banked,  our Dr. recommended that our best chances were still with a surrogate.  However, given that there were more than 2 banked he thought it was reasonable to give my body one last shot at baby making.  So that is where we are.  We transfered a single embryo last Thursday.  Per his recommendation, we didn’t want to waste more than one of our supposedly perfect embryos on my iffy uterus.  It made it out of the thaw ok (something I was worried about) and is hopefully making magic in my nether regions as we speak.  Our first beta is this Sunday and I am praying for some good news.

This second cycle was a lot less dramatic than the first.  I got over my bitterness giving up natural conception, something I thought we had going for us.  And I knew what to expect with the injections and procedures.  Instead of wallowing in “poor  me” I felt like I had matured to just take it and move ahead.  After considering egg donors and surrogates, “conventional” IVF seemed so normal and gave me hope that maybe there was still hope to carry my own genetic baby.  At this moment, both doors are still open and I have been able to delay that decision.  Surrogacy is still out there as an option, (a very complicated and expensive option), but I couldn’t go there without at least giving this one last shot.


12 Responses to “What’s new”

  1. jjiraffe September 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Good luck with your beta!! I’d been wondering about you…glad you’re back 🙂

  2. Amy September 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    It’s great to hear from you! I will be keeping fingers crossed for good news with your beta. I’ve been dairy-free for about six weeks and now soy-free as well – a huge PITA, so I really commend you for being so committed to it in the midst of IVF stress (which I admittedly know nothing of first-hand). It sounds like it really made a difference with your cycle, so I hope that is an omen of great things to come for you!

  3. missohkay September 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Glad to hear an update and hopeful for your beta!

  4. traathy September 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Glad to hear an update as well and I hope this Sunday’s beta is amazing.

  5. Hope September 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I am so glad that the changes you made in this cycle made a difference! I really hope your beta on Sunday is nice and high! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  6. Misfit Mrs. September 24, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Also glad for an update. I did gluten free for the three months prior to the last pregnancy. I feel that it helped. I am pulling for this one. Pulling for you with all I’ve got!

  7. Trisha September 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    I am SO glad to hear from you! I was thinking about you the other day. I’m also so thrilled to hear about your plan. You sound…dare I say it? Kinda optimistic! Well I’m optimistic for you anyways. Hoping this works for you my dear…you deserve it.

  8. Amanda (http://readingeachpage.blogspot.com/) September 25, 2012 at 4:25 am #

    Good luck on your beta! I severely limited gluten, dairy and soy and was shocked a couple months later at how many fewer cysts were on my PCOS ovaries. It’s amazing how much that diet can do.

  9. cindy September 25, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    good luck!!!

  10. whitney September 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    cgrats for so many reasons on so many levels…sending good vibes your way ( i know if that was all it tookright!) happy that you were able to have some control in this process this time..heres to the future what ever it may bring! and you will come out a wiser stronger lady.

  11. Shelley September 26, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    Keeping fingers and toes crossed over here for you!

  12. taylor September 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    Keeping my fingers crossed for a very successful cycle! You and I have a lot in common and I feel some hope based on your recent cycle.

    Just curious, how long did you give up gluten prior to your cycle? My doctor is suggesting the same.

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