An IVF update from our side:
Shortly before I left work for the Christmas break, I had a call from the nurse at our (NHS) clinic. It was K, the loveliest nurse who seemed genuinely upset for us when I had a miscarriage. In fact, everyone at our fertility clinic (the local hospital) was really nice. I guess if you work for the NHS (National Health Service – publicly funded in the UK – we pay via taxes so it’s not entirely free!) you’re really nice (as you aren’t doing it for the money), but K is the nicest nurse of all. She is very cool and young and wears batwing eyeliner so I reckon she’s awesome.
Anyway after being told that we’d be on a four month waiting list, she said we would be starting again in January! January! An amazing Christmas present. I can’t tell you how dejected I was when I realised we’d be on a long waiting list (a year after our last / first IVF attempt which ended in miscarriage at 9 weeks) so it was really great news as they’d been setting us up for April. I’d been researching private clinics so I’m also kind of still interested in what the underlying causes might be. But I think it would be pointless not to take the chance of a “free” cycle. (I have to pay prescription charges etc but it should be cheaper than going private.)
She said I’ll likely be on different stim drugs this time. Last time we did Gonal F which I responded slowly to. This time we’re going to try Menopur. I’m on a similar protocol apart from that. She said they thought that the egg retrieval was okay and fertilisation rate was okay (12 eggs, 6 fertilised… But only one Day 5 embryo to transfer and no frozen).
I have mixed feelings about the whole thing although I think it’s worth a go. After the first time, I really felt I couldn’t put my body through it again, but I’ve had a whole year (almost) to recover. If my period starts when it’s due to, it means I’d start the down regulation (buserelin) at the end of January and then have the first scan in mid Feb. I guess that means transfer in March. It would be great timing.
My mixed feelings come from this idea that there is an underlying problem why I’ve not ever gotten pregnant on my own. It’s not a case of trying for a year or two. I was in a very long term relationship, I’ve had several partners since and now I’m in an actively trying relationship of a few years (more than two where we’ve been properly trying). I’ve been young and old; I’ve been fat and thin; I’ve smoked/drank and not smoked/drunk and quite frankly I think there must be an underlying reason why a supposedly healthy person can’t get pregnant after around 16 years of being allegedly able to and not taking precautions for the majority of it.
Historically I have had endometriosis, fibroid(s?), polyps, blocked tube (apparently okay since the HSG but mentioned in my first laparoscopy for endo). Over the past few years I’ve had increasingly heavy periods to the point now that they’re almost unbearable. I mean, they need the most absorbent tampon AND a night time pad and they still end up with me bleeding all over the place. (Sorry: TMI.) Really I sense there is a problem. Also when I was a lot younger I think something came up in a blood test where they said I might have difficulty getting pregnant – this happened when I was with my ex but it was something always in the back of my mind and so that’s why I didn’t really “not try” too hard. It’s why I feel like there must be a problem.
A couple of my blog friends on here have recommended me some further reading. I read Robert Winston’s book on fertility (main message: we jump too quickly to IVF; it is probably better to use less medication and diagnose the underlying issues which can often be treated without IVF) and a weighty tome by Alan Beer, MD who is the leading voice in reproductive immunology. (Thank you to my blog friends for recommending these!)
What’s interesting, particularly about the Alan Beer, MD book is that I can kind of see my history in some of the case studies. The main thing he’s known for is treating recurrent pregnancy loss but he also treats long term infertility. There are a bunch of reasons why your body might not be what he calls “baby friendly” and interestingly one of those is linked to a history of endometriosis. I’ve always had a lot of lower back and abdominal pain – I take a lot of painkillers (I stopped entirely during IVF even when I had any kinds of pain – I didn’t want to risk it) which is associated with endometriosis. And I have the Periods from Hell.
Anyway there is a place where they do immunology stuff called the Miscarriage Clinic. It’s not Dr Beer but a different doctor who does his stuff. They have a lot of info and testimonials on their website. I found it interesting and called up (back when I thought we wouldn’t have a chance until April). Their first appointment was in February so they’re in demand! And it’s costly: £250 for the initial appointment. But something tells me it would be worth trying to get some of the immunology tests even if we didn’t go with them.
Another clinic recommended by one of my blogfriends is one that does the mild IVF (the type where you work with your natural cycle). That appeals to me too as it is something that Robert Winston recommends in his book, that it is better not to overload your body with drugs – and it has a good success rate. It’s also very close to my work and they do open days so we’ve signed up to one in January.
I guess where I’m at right now is that I’m willing to go for cycle 2 on a similar protocol (though different stim drugs). After all, IVF doesn’t work every time so we might just be unlucky. I do feel that some other tests would be worthwhile as it’s pretty obvious that if I have an immune issue that a successful IVF cycle is unlikely – it means even if your embryo is amazing, your body might reject it. I can’t help thinking 16 years of no natural cycle success seems like a low base to start from.
So… Cautiously hopeful, but not expecting much. I really want to be a success story in 2016 but I’m also thankful for other things going okay. A friend of mine had a close family bereavement just before Christmas – it was heartbreaking to hear about it, and we aren’t even very close friends. We had a wonderful Christmas with both sets of parents and I’m thankful for that, that they’re all still around and happy to spend the day with their grandchildren-less children! And both sets get on pretty well, so that’s nice. (I may do a Christmas roundup but all I can say is: chaotic cooking dinner in a studio apartment! But fun!) We are okay, despite all of the unfun stuff. So that’s what I’m going to be: cautiously optimistic!
Hope everyone’s Christmases were awesome!