Apologies this is so long....so that you can see whether this is worth reading the topics are low ovarian reserve, fibroids, endometriosis, diet, batch retrievals & PGS.
I’ve never announced any news anywhere, I was so nervous it would all be taken away from me (I still am a bit!). I’ve been on such a long ‘journey’ (hate that word!) that it’s hard to believe it’s true that I’m finally getting somewhere!
But after 8 years of trying for a baby I feel owe it to my body and mind to mark this milestone!
On Thursday I had my 7 week viability scan, I was so scared about seeing nothing on that screen, plus due to covid-19 I had to go to the appointment alone. I had had no symptoms, apart from a little tiredness which I thought could easily be attributed to being couped up in isolation! ...but there on the screen I saw the little shrimp for the first time...and a fluttering heartbeat!!! I was so shocked all I could do was keep repeating ‘wow, wow wow’, (later I let it all out blubbering during the clap for the NHS!)
I couldn’t bring myself to announce the BFP test ...but this feels a little closer to real. I am finally pregnant! It’s so weird for me to say or write and I’m so hyper sensitive to those still struggling that I almost feel bad to write it. But after sitting with this for a few days I thought well I found that stories like this gave me hope, so I’m hoping for the same for you.
We all have different stories, for some it’s MMC, some it’s male factor, some it’s ability to build a lining good enough, for some it’s getting mature eggs and creating good quality embryos, some it’s getting to day 5. For me it was having a very low egg count.
After doing a bunch of tests I was told at 35 that everything was ‘normal’ and to carry on trying ...‘unexplained’ they said... we’d been trying for 4 years at this point. I wish I’d pushed for IVF then, but I was naive and just did was I was told and hadn’t yet learnt to advocate for myself.
But then after a few months I got a dull pain on one side, only about 4/10 pain, so I lived with it for a bit. Turned out it was a fibroid the size of a fist. They did a laparoscopic and while they were there they found endometriosis (so that’s why my periods were so damn heavy and ‘contraction’ like all these years) so they removed both and flushed my tubes, a full service M.O.T!
They said perhaps they were the reasons I wasn’t falling pregnant, so advised to keep trying naturally. I fell pregnant 3 months later, but MC on the day of my doctor visit, sigh...They confirmed I was 6-7 weeks.
So at 37 I started the first of 5 rounds of IVF. I’d gone from one Dr. telling me everything was normal the 18 months before, to the next one saying I had an extremely low egg reserve and needed to start IVF immediately... before it was too late. ‘Go straight to the clinic, do not pass Go’ was the card I had been dealt. Couple that with finding out we had early menopause in my family at age 40! (How was I not told this before?!)
I started round 1...we only got 2 eggs, and both were immature!! It was all over before it had even begun. 2 eggs?! I had been reading about all these ladies with 14, 16, 20 eggs!! So 2 eggs?! There was nothing to play with, how was I ever going to get pregnant, you need numbers for the ‘drop off’ between collecting, maturity, fertilizing, making it to day 3, making it to day 5 and being a good quality embryo!! How was I already out of the game at first base!
I suddenly knew this was not going to be a easy for me. I was so mad at the first Dr. who told me everything was ‘normal’, I mean I could’ve started this 18 months ago, when I was 35! I was for the first time learning about the stats and how you have much better odds before 35...why hadn’t I advocated for myself and pushed it, everything obviously wasn’t normal back then, it had been 4 years of trying!!
I went into project management mode, I became obsessed with fertility. I would spend hours reading about everything under the covers at night. To be honest it was too much, but I desperately wanted to ‘fix it’. This was my plan:
1. I decided to change clinics and find the right Dr. for me ( my low ovarian reserve meant I didn’t qualify for NHS, another kick in the teeth, but perhaps blessing in disguise anyway as time was not on my side, I needed to be seen quickly and I needed specialist care) I used the HFEA website to narrow down clinics and went to 6 open evenings and initial consultations at 3 clinics before choosing ‘the one’
2. I chose a Dr. that specializes in low ovarian reserve and has a caring bedside manner (some ppl like doctors that give factual ‘black & white’ detail, I prefer positive, caring approach as I’m super sensitive - I learnt you have to find the right fit for you). He gave me his mobile number on day 1 (probably regretted that lol!)
3. He asked me how many kids I wanted, obviously I’d be grateful for one, but seen as you ask...2?! Due to my low ovarian reserve we made a plan to ‘batch’ collect eggs over 2-3 rounds. He said much better to get all the siblings at this age than to come back in a few years and it be even harder. The price per round would be less as nothing was being transferred... but it also put less pressure on each round.
4. We did ‘IVF light’, low dose stims with no down regulation (often better for women with low ovarian reserve). Just gently encouraging your body to do what it already knows how to do and we did a ‘double trigger’ to help mature the eggs:
5. I did a complete overhaul of my diet, supplements and lifestyle which I think contributed to my test results improving and getting 7 eggs in round 2. I also did a bunch of ‘alternative’ therapies and self/care and whether you believe they work or not scientifically, they saved me mentally and emotionally...a bit of time/out and ‘me time’ to alleviate a bit of the stress. The ‘mindful IVF’ app was a godsend.
6. We decided to do PGS testing because after such a long slog I wanted to reduce the risk of MC as much as I could. We did the testing as we went along.
It wasn’t plain sailing...2 rounds were canceled due to ‘poor response’, I had to move clinics 3 times as my Dr kept moving or getting promoted! It was definitely a marathon and not a sprint but I trusted my Dr 100%.
Overall I went through 5 rounds over 2 years (incl 2 cancelled after stims due to poor response - extreme low point...even put pressure on our marriage)
Overall we got 6 embryos to ‘day 5’ which resulted in 3 PGS normal embryos for the freezer and 1 Mosaic. Hard not to compare yourself but some ppl get this in just one round!
We transferred a 6AB in February and I’m 7 weeks + 2 days today.
If I can help anyone at all, please let me know. I know how lucky we are to have got through this round before the Covid-19 suspensions and I really feel for you ladies. I wish everyone the very best of luck and I’m so sorry for all the pain we all have to go through. I’ve found this forum so helpful, thank you! (Is it me or does it seems much ‘healthier’ from a mental p.o.v than many of the Facebook groups!)