IVF Round Four and Five
It has been such a long time since I posted a blog. I’m sorry if I have disappointed anyone.
Initially I didn’t blog for a while because I wanted to talk about my last two rounds of IVF, they were the obvious next two posts, but I also didn’t have the energy to do it because the result was so devastating *spoiler alert* In some ways I felt the need to release those two rounds into world through words but in other ways I dreaded doing it.
I have to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot to say about our fourth and fifth round of IVF and to tell you the truth I don’t remember all the details… I never thought I would forget something as important as IVF rounds, I never even thought I would be doing IVF. But they were so similar to the first few rounds. Both started off with hope and ended in sadness.
For both the fourth and fifth round of IVF we did the same protocol which is called the long down cycle. Which meant that on day 21 of my cycle I started taking the Synarel spray again, one spray in each nostril, twice a day. Again, the spray didn’t cause me any issues, but it did cause slight aggravation in my nose. Annoying, but really it is fine. I just had to make sure I didn’t sneeze right after I spray. I don’t notice any real hormonal shifts or mood changes.
Once again, the Synarel delayed my period by a week but once it started, I contacted the nurses who then tell me when to start the Pergoveris injections. I gave myself the injections just once a day, in the morning at around the same time each day. Plus, I had to keep up with my Synarel spray.
Whenever I could I would always do the injections in Mackenzie’s room, thinking about what we had and what we could have. Although for a couple of days during round four or five we were down in Melbourne visiting friends who at the time were having some health problems, so we were helping look after their two little kids. One morning I remember injecting myself in their kitchen as I was about to rush to pick up one of their little ones. I guess you do whatever you need to.
After around six days of the Pergoveris injections I went into Genea to check how my follicles were going. Both the fourth and the fifth rounds of IVF we had around nine or ten follicles looking like they might contain mature eggs. Both times we were hoping for more but really, we were focused on those nine or ten eggs being good quality. That was what mattered.
The same process happened from there. We did blood tests and scans every couple of days until the follicles all looked around the right size to hold a mature egg. When they told us, it was the right time, we took our trigger injection. We took it at the right time exactly 36 hours before the egg collection. Always hopeful, sending out every good vibe we could.
The egg collections went smoothly, despite me yelling out embarrassing things whilst under twilight sedation. I never know what I am going to say. On the fifth round I was still under and in recovery when Jonny was told to give his sample, I yelled out in front of all the nurses and doctors:
“Good luck baby. Think sexy thoughts. Think of me…but me like two years ago not now”.
Poor Jonny had to put his head down and keep walking as they all giggled.
Both times I woke up from the sedation we were told we had around seven or eight eggs. Not ideal numbers but we hoped the quality was good enough to at least give us one.
Like the other rounds we then have the painful, excruciating process of waiting each day to get the call to say how many are still going. Day one they call to say how many are fertilised. Day three how many are still progressing, day five how many are becoming embryos and then day six how many hatched and could be tested. Each day we were disappointed, until the final day when we were told after all that we had nothing. Nothing to test. Both rounds, nothing.
I can’t describe the level of disappointment, upset and pain. I honestly can’t put it into words. It is just pure emotional torture. Watching your babies disappear one by one when there is nothing you can do. We begged the universe, tried being positive, lowered our expectations…we tried every angle, but it became very clear we had no control. I had done everything, tablets, oils, vitamins, healthy food, fertility food, fertility teas, exercise, research… you name it.
For us our issue with IVF doesn’t seem to be the number of eggs, yes it would be nice to have more to work with, but we need extremely high-quality eggs. My eggs and Jonny’s sperm seem to be high quality when we try naturally, we get pregnant and I carry babies well but there is just the genetic risk. But for IVF with Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) the eggs and sperm need to be such high quality because they need to grow until day 6 and begin the hatching process in order to be tested for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) using PGD. It isn’t uncommon for couples to struggle to get embryos to day 6 and hatching but for us it seems to be harder but with no reason.
For this issue of quality, we tried multiple treatments like melatonin or vitamins, but we did two things different for rounds four and five. Whilst the IVF protocol was the same for round four, we tried using dehydroepiandroserone (DHEA). This is a mild male steroid hormone that can sometimes help a woman’s egg quality. To make it take affect in IVF you need to take it for three months though. So, I was actually taking in during round three, but it hadn’t taken effect yet. So, we started round four with so much hope that the DHEA would help our quality, but it did nothing. In fact, that round seemed to be worse, as in the embryos didn’t progress as well.
Then for the fifth round we stopped DHEA and instead tried a Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This again was supposed to help egg quality. It was out last-ditch effort. But like DHEA it did nothing for me.
After such devastation, we discussed what next with our IVF specialist. We decided to have a break for a few months. We would give my body a chance to recover from the hormones. We also thought that the grief of losing Mackenzie would have influenced my stress levels and therefore my fertility. We also needed to take a break to save some money. We had used all of the money donated to us by Kyle and Jackie’O through Genea and we had also dipped into our savings.
We decided that when we came back, we would take away all the additional stimulants and go back to a low key IVF round. We knew this would most likely be our last IVF round. One more try.