LI IVF (part 1)/ Should we try naturally?

As I was, rather wearily, researching DE and embryo adoption & donation, I came across this adage on the worldwide interwebs: The things you take for granted somebody else is praying for.

Okay, okay, universe. I hear you.


But it also okay that I am weary, and that I want to be a mom now. Not in a year. Not in two or three years. Now. I am exhausted and I have been through a bizarre war-torn landscape that I never imagined I’d be hurtling into that first overjoyed moment I saw the pink double-line in my Brooklyn bathroom a million years ago, and danced excitedly around my apartment in my bathrobe, my heart huge with love.

I am burnt out.

It’s strange. Even though I want people to understand the enormity of what I’ve gone through, I also don’t want them to react in horror to my story. Even though I feel sorry for myself sometimes, I don’t want to be made to feel like an object of pity.

This is coming up because of Dr. Brenner’s totally normal, human response to my story at our appointment two days ago—he was only trying to empathize, to show that he cared, but in my uber-senstive state, his words made me feel worse. Toward the end of our conversation, he was referring to what I’ve gone through as “a horror.” He was expressing empathy for my having had to go through something so unexpected and devastating. He said something along the lines of, “You never would have believed you’d end up here, in this office–think of all you’ve had to go through for two years to get here, it’s unimaginable,” and he shook his head in disbelief, his expression one of incredulity.

I felt defensive. I wanted to say: “This is my life! Don’t disparage my life!” I wanted to say: “It hasn’t been all bad. It hasn’t all been a horror.”

Other than that, I liked him okay. He seemed sharp. He seemed caring. He also seemed tired (it was the end of the day). The donor egg nurse coordinator, Vicky, was also okay–very nice, informative, but sometimes a little difficult to follow, and she kept finishing my questions for me, incorrectly, which was annoying. But overall, they and the rest of the staff were more approachable and attentive and responsive than most (not all) staff we met at CCRM, and definitely at the NYC clinics we’ve gone to. That was one of the first things DH said after the appointment: “I’ve never felt so paid attention to anywhere else so far.”

Looking through the list of donors with Vicky was strange. I felt myself drawn to the one Korean donor. Vicky seemed confused.

“It makes perfect sense to me why I would be drawn to a Korean donor, psychologically,” I said to Vicky. “When I think of reproducing a child, I think of reproducing a child with DH, who is Korean. I can imagine having kids who look like him–”

“But why wouldn’t you want to find a donor who looks like you?” Vicky asked. “You’re beautiful!”

This comment really did not make sense to me. What does my beauty have to do with anything? No one on that list is me. No one on that list has my particular beauty. Finding matching hair color, eye color, and height is never going to be close to finding me. She kept using the word “replace,” referring to replacing my genetics. But I can’t be replaced. I am very uncomfortable thinking of this as a replacement operation.

But who knows–maybe that is a concept I need to, and will, get used to? Or not? What is the healthiest way to think and feel through this labyrinth?

I have no idea. Yet.

I don’t even know if we should be having unprotected sex now or not. This is one of the most difficult decisions we are faced with. I asked Dr. Brenner: “Would it be totally unwise for us to continue to try naturally?”

He paused. He said, “Well, we both know that there are women who’ve gone through what you’ve gone through, or even worse, and have gone on to have healthy pregnancies. It is possible. I don’t think it is likely you will get the results you are looking for. But, yes, you have time. Your biological age will have no effect on the success rate of a donor egg cycle. You could wait years to go the donor egg route. And during that time, you could keep trying with your own eggs.”

I closed my eyes. I didn’t say anything. DH was squeezing my hand.

One thing I can cross off my list: IVF. First of all, we have no coverage for it and cannot afford to try that again; we need to save our resources. Also, my response to stimulation, while not abysmal, wasn’t fabulous, so we wouldn’t even be increasing our chances by much by doing IVF. It is most likely that we lost our lead follicle at the time of retrieval—we got 6 out of 7, and the biggest follicle at that time was 27 mm—and a nurse said that the lead one is “usually a good one.” I’ll ask Dr. Schoolcraft if he concurs. So if we went through all that only to lose our best shot at a good egg, then IVF is definitely not something we should repeat, or feel terrible about not being able to repeat.

But trying naturally. I just don’t know. I know it is a personal decision, because I am ultimately the one who will have to endure the miscarriages. I have to make the decision about whether I can take more losses. I have to remember what it is like to watch my breasts grow. To feel nauseated. To feel that extra rush and thrum of blood down there (sometimes I could feel my pulse beating more strongly in my abdomen than in my chest). The rise of progesterone and estrogen. The rise of HCG. The plummet and crash of all three. That feeling of fresh loss. Can I become inured to all of that? If my expectations are extremely low, and I consciously prepare to allow miscarriage to become a regular part of my life for a little while longer, can I—should I—try to conceive for a little while longer?

On that light note, off to work I go! I’ll write LI IVF (part 2) this weekend.

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  1. LH

     /  February 8, 2013

    Hi, did you see this piece in the NYTimes? There is heartbreak in it – but also hope.


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  •© the unexpected trip,, 2012-2017.
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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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