It’s hard to believe we are already 6 weeks in to 2018 and we have already completed our first egg retrieval for our second cycle of IVF.
Let’s take a quick step back; Shawn and I decided, in advance of this cycle and in proceeding with a new clinic, that we would go forward with all the things we didn’t previously do for our first cycle. Any additional testing we had previously declined, we decided to do, no matter what the cost. This included some extra blood work as well as the PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) testing. You see, this is our final shot at IVF. We are all in. If we ever have to close this chapter, we want to be able to look back and know that we did everything we could to have a biological child.
When making all these tough decisions we also had to look at how much we were comfortable with financially. Shawn and I were very fortunate to have received a government-funded cycle last year which covered most of the costs (outside of the medication which costs between $5,000-$6,000 per retrieval cycle). This time though, we would be fully out-of-pocket. Our January cycle alone was $17,900 and for March we are looking at around $12,800. That is a grand total of over $30,000 (and this does not include any subsequent transfers of any PGS normal embryos in the future). Fortunately, about $6,000 so far has been covered through my corporate benefit plan but I fear we likely have reached our lifetime maximum for fertility medication.
So far, this cycle has been a bit of a whirlwind. It all happened so quickly, or so it felt, this time. I started my stimulating medication on Cycle Day 2 (CD2) on January 23rd. My new doctor had me on 300 IU of Puregon (previously 150 IU with my last clinic) and 75 IU of Repronex. All injections are taken in the morning (where previously I took them at night) and on cycle monitoring days, my nurse administers my injections. These injections also go in my backside where for my first IVF cycle I gave all my injections to myself in my stomach. In fact, through 3 injectable cycles of IUI and my first cycle of IVF last year, I had given myself ALL my injections with no issues at all. This time, a different needle was used and while it did not hurt once in, I had a very hard time looking at it. It really freaked me out so Shawn gave me every injection this time (apart from my Lupron trigger). He really is the BEST nurse. On CD5 I went for my first monitoring appointment since stimming and my Repronex dose was upped to 150 IU. I also started the Orgalutran on CD5 this time. By this point, my side effects were in full swing. The headaches were just as bad, or worse, than I remember. I had nausea for most of the first 5 days but that eventually subsided. On CD8 I went back for another scan and the doctor let me know that we were close, so I would return on CD9. By CD9 I was very uncomfortable. Notwithstanding the fact I must be up at 4:45 a.m. on monitoring days, I was starting to bloat again and the maternity pants were back in the fashion rotation. I was told at this appointment that we would be moving forward with egg retrieval on CD11! Trigger happened on the night of CD9 at 12:30 a.m. (so I guess you could consider it CD10). We did a double Lupron/HCG trigger again which was consistent with my previous trigger protocol, just slightly adjusted.
The morning of my egg retrieval (February 1st), I was extremely uncomfortable. We arrived at the clinic early and got settled in. We were informed that Shawn would be allowed in the room for my retrieval which he previously was not. I was consciously sedated once again and don’t remember much after saying good morning to my doctor and waking up in recovery. I do remember coming to at one point and hearing the number 14. I thought I was dreaming. How would I ever end up with 14 eggs? It was not a dream, when I finally came out of my sedation induced nap, Shawn confirmed we had 14 beautiful little eggies. I was ecstatic. If you’ve followed along our first IVF cycle, we only retrieved 8 eggs so this was a great number. We returned home and spent most of the day relaxing watching Netflix and keeping my heat pad nice and close. Recovery was a bit tougher this time but I kind of chalked it up to retrieving more eggs. The next 5 days after eff retrieval are the LONGEST. The day after retrieval is considered Day 1. On that day we received the report that of the 14 eggs retrieved, 11 of those eggs were mature and of the 11 mature eggs, 7 were fertilized by ICSI. Already we had 3 more fertilized eggs than we had last time. The next report comes in on Day 3 which is when we found out that of the 7 fertilized eggs, we had 6 embabies growing strong. At this stage they were all graded 1-2 which is great for a Day 3 report. Then, from Day 3 to Day 6, we hear nothing. We received our final report on the Wednesday following retrieval. We currently have 3 embabies that made it to blasocyst which were biopsied and frozen for PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) once we complete one final egg retrieval.
We will be moving forward with that one final egg retrieval when I return from vacation next week. When we decided on testing and all of the numbers, we decided we wanted 4 embryos before we moved forward with PGS. Even though 3 was really close, it wasn’t 4. I thought long and hard about moving forward again, both mentally and financially, but we are comfortable with the decision.
If we thought the 6 days of waiting from fertilization to final embryo stage was long, I can only imagine how long the 7-10 days will feel once we send our embabies off for PGS testing. What are we hoping for? At least 2 PGS normal embryos, one of which we will transfer in June. I have had a lot of questions around our decision to PGS test and while it is costly and really only gives us a 55% chance of a live birth, I didn’t want to continue transferring embryos that weren’t resulting in pregnancies.
The next month will be a very interesting time for us. There is a lot more at stake now and emotions are high. When we started a year ago, we had so many options. Options we never even thought we’d have to resort to. I remember, very clearly, being at a friend’s cottage a couple of years ago talking about starting IUI in 2017. Talking about how we would give it at least 4 tries before we even thought of moving forward with IVF. In fact, I specifically remember saying “we would totally do an IVF cycle if it’s funded but that’s it, I don’t think we would ever do an out-of-pocket round”. My my, how things have changed. We truly believed IUI would be our answer after years of trying naturally and when that didn’t work, and we were granted the government funding, we totally thought that IVF cycle would bring us our baby. While it did result in our first ever pregnancy back in July, it was short-lived.
Moving forward with this final IVF cycle brings up lots of extra outcomes that we have to mentally prepare for. This includes the fact this may not work (again). While this thought is terrifying, we won’t stop our journey to parenthood there. We will, however, be closing the door on having a biological child and will cross that bridge if we get there.
As always, your love and support keeps us going daily. Much love. XO.