So now that I'm "out" on Facebook and have shared my blog, I thought I should finally update with the last piece of our story on getting pregnant. I've really been avoiding it, honestly. I'm not sure I've really recovered from some of the emotions, but I am hoping my sharing I'll seem (a little) less neurotic. Maybe people can understand some of my hesitation to just enjoy and relax.
The picture up top is not the first time I've posted embryo photos. But these two are no more - they're the ones transferred during my "fresh" (vs frozen) cycle. They didn't make it. I'm not trying to get into a philosophical place here with when life begins, etc. Despite my liberal views on these issues, there are emotions that linger from these two beautiful little potential babies not making it. I think I mourn them (as well as the potential twin to the child I'm carrying now), and I also feel varying degrees of sadness, remorse, guilt, and shame. I'm still rocked by the idea that my first cycle didn't work despite our success with the second.
So an IVF cycle. How to sum it up without getting too bogged down in the details? It's intense. It's a very strange thing to put your body through. It's all-consuming when you're going through it. I've been pretty laid-back through treatments and got pretty good at distancing myself mentally from the physical procedures, but IVF is just so in your face. Let me explain what my cycle consisted of here. "CD#" refers to the cycle day, or days after my period. Also, you start with a month of birth control pills (a heavenly tease for someone with PCOS).
CD3 - 13: Injection of 150 iu of Gonal-F (FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone)
CD8, 10, 12, and 14: Monitoring appointments (bloodwork and internal ultrasound)
CD14, 15, and 16: Injection of Ganirelix (a drug that stops the follicles that you'd normally ovulate from releasing, allowing the smaller ones to catch up)
CD16: Injection of Novarel (a "trigger" shot to stimulate release of all mature follicles)
The process is strict about exactly what times drugs are injected, so I had a few times where I sat with an ice pack on my belly in a parking lot to prepare for the Ganirelix injection (that one is particularly painful for some reason). For the most part, Rob did my injections. Not because I couldn't (I could and I did!), but so he could see what I was going through and feel more involved. Share the pain, you know. :)
Then on CD18 was the egg retrieval. They put you under (thank goodness) to remove the follicles using a vacuum needle guided by ultrasound. Not as painful as it sounds! Then three days later, they put the best embryos back, also ultrasound-guided. This was on Memorial Day to give you some reference. The embryos that aren't transferred are then frozen if they're high enough quality. You start a progesterone injection nightly until your pregnancy bloodtest. It's weird stuff, though - suspended in an oil, so it leaves weird butt bumps.
Physically, the act of producing that many follicles is painful. We retrieved 20 eggs, 14 of which were "mature." I gained several pounds in bloat over the process. And it got to the point where I swore I could feel my ovaries bounce when I walked. Ironically, I looked pregnant with the bloat. Mentally, it becomes completely impossible to see how this could fail. Until it does.
Oh my gosh, that telephone call. After sweating every little symptom for two weeks, you go in for a pregnancy bloodtest. And then wait. When my phone rang that afternoon, I can't explain how excited I was. But then I heard the doctor's voice and just knew it had failed. I had failed.
I think one of the biggest issues I had with it was feeling like I was depriving my husband of the chance to have children. Watching him with kids is magical and I felt for a while he would be better off without me. Also, there was such a profound feeling of being broken, that they actually put these beautiful, handpicked embryos in me and my body killed them. I don't think the broken feeling goes away. I still don't understand how anything worked after that cycle didn't.
This is all very heavy, I apologize. There was a bright side - the doctor really thought it would work in the future and thought my ovaries had been hyperstimulated, preventing implantation. And I had nine high-quality embryos frozen and waiting for me to be ready to try again. The frozen cycle worked and was so much easier on me, mentally and physically.
But I'm still sorry for those first two, and I'm still hurt in places I'm not sure will scar over until I can actually hold my baby.