Beyond Overdue Fertility Update

My last fertility post was in January and unfortunately, I think my absence says a lot about our progress. I left off with the details of our very successful egg retrieval and hoped to come back with positive news of a successful transfer and pregnancy announcement, unfortunately that is not the case. My FET (frozen embryo transfer) was on March 1, 2022. The transfer itself is the easiest part of IVF (IMO), it takes minutes and is almost anticlimactic considering all that you do to get to there. The estrogen pills and patches, hours long infusions, progesterone shots and blood thinner shots were by far the worst of it all. So when it came time for the actual transfer, I was left thinking, all that invasive prep and thats it!? BUT we were finally at the finish line, all that stressful and painful preparation led me to this point and here was our happy ending, or so we thought.

With my clinic you are on bedrest for 3 days post transfer (not including day of transfer) then house arrest for two days. This is controversial in IVF and different doctors share different opinions on bed rest, but for me I chose to trust my doctor and follow the rules. Everything went smoothly and I survived – by the skin of my teeth, my first shower never felt so good!

On day 10 post transfer I was to go in for my beta blood test (pregnancy test). Most clinics advise you not to do an at home pregnancy test prior to that because the blood test is done at the earliest possible time; however, I would venture to say 99% of women (myself included) cannot wait the full 10 days. It is torture and you start analyzing everything you feel or don’t feel and consider anything a possible symptom of pregnancy. I lasted until day 5 or 6 before I started testing. Unbeknownst to me, blue dye tests (clear blue) and digital tests are the worst for early detection but having no knowledge of that, that was the first test I used. The three minutes passed and I saw the faintest of faint two lines. I texted them out to my friends near and far in the IVF community asking for opinions – got the same answer, no matter how faint, it was a positive test. I was cautiously optimistic and at the direction of an IVF pro, took a first response early detection pink dye test and there was another extremely faint second line.

I stopped testing because the stress of it was starting to really get to me. I made it to day 10 and went in for my blood test. Typically, you go in the morning (which I did) but then you have to wait the entire day for the doctor to call you with results. After the longest eight hours of my life, the phone rings. “Dr. ____ Cell”. I answer with clammy hands. “your HCG is showing you are pregnant, BUT it’s not as high as I would like, you’re only at 25 and I would like to see closer to 50. At this point I need you to come in two days to see if your HCG goes up/doubles. I need to be honest, this could be a chemical pregnancy but I’ve seen success with initial numbers this low, its a 50/50 chance.”

For the next 10 days I went back and forth to the clinic for blood draws because my numbers kept rising, a good sign, but not exactly doubling every 24-72 hours as they should. All the while I am continuing the awful progesterone shots and pills and patches, it was torture, a rollercoaster from hell. After my second to last blood draw, I had a scan. There looked to be a small, small sac – there was hope. That day my numbers stalled. Went in the next day for a scan and there was no more sac and my numbers started to go down. It was a failed cycle, a chemical pregnancy. Another loss, another heartbreak.

To add insult to injury, my grandfather passed away the day after my transfer. I was across the country and was on bed rest. By the time his services were scheduled, I was off bedrest; however, it’s strongly advised not to fly in the first six weeks post transfer. I was bedside myself, I couldn’t be there for my mother, grandmother and properly mourn the loss of my grandfather. My husband called the clinic without me knowing, and asked what my options were. They said although its not advised, I could go but I’d have to take a red eye (something to do with sun exposure) both ways along with a few other stipulations. I was at a crossroads. I knew they didn’t particularly want me to fly across the country and I knew that if something happened, I would have blamed myself. After a lot a tears, phone calls and discussions, we ultimately decided it was best that I stay put. A few days after my grandfather was laid to rest, I found out my transfer failed. It was a really rough couple weeks after that. I was devastated over another failed pregnancy and devastated that I wasn’t there to say goodbye to my grandfather. To say I felt guilty was an understatement, the transfer failed anyway, I could have gone, I should have gone.

Despite it all, I was back to business shortly there after. My first visit post confirmation of the failed transfer, I asked how soon we could try again. Sympathetically my doctor looked at me and said, I understand you want to try again as soon as possible but its going to have to be at least two more menstrual cycles before we can effectively start another protocol. Ok I thought, we have a plan and will try again in a few months time and this time it will work…

In Loving Memory of Ralph A. Tarantino (1927-2022)

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