IF and the City

I used to feel sad when I watched the episodes with Charlotte failing over and over again while trying to get pregnant. Little did I know that my own attempts would lead me on the same sad journey. We've now passed 4 years in the trenches. 6 failed IVF/ICSI cycles = nothing. Time for something new - donor eggs. Success at last. Now for round 2.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Past

Christmas Day passed without incident.

Certainly, unlike last year, we do not know whether our recent cycle will end in another negative.

There is hope, but I think I read somewhere our chance is in the vicinity of 17% (due to the loss of all other embryos) - a significant drop from the original 56% we believed we had in cycling with Star as our donor.

This is the fifth Christmas in a row we have been dealing with one or other of the yucky aspects of Infertility.

First Year – We’d started trying and after a couple of months I was already living in fear of being the 1 in 10 couple. I’d seen my gynae, had the basic blood tests and ultra sounds and being told to go away, try for the next three months and come back if we didn’t get pregnant. Mr. S promptly got Chicken Pox!

Second Year - getting over my miscarriage. Spending Christmas Day with my sister, who, even though she knew I’d recently miscarried, insisted on throwing her ultrasound pics around and complaining about how hard life was for her.

Third Year – Starting our third cycle straight after our second failure. Two perfect cycles in a row resulting in Grade 1. blastocysts both times, ending in perfect failure.

Last Year – Finding out ‘on the day’ our fifth cycle had failed. Vowing that was ‘IT’, no more cycles, we were going overseas to get eggs and we were going to look into adoption.

This Year – We made the jump, we went out and found a local donor. Got ourselves and Star through the counselling and testing, decided on our specialist and took our leap of faith.

Until we know the results of our transfer, we won’t know what our next step will be.

Mr. S has become a little more determined than I’ve seen him before. He has no issues with getting a second opinion, he welcomes it. He’s prepared to do more testing, but neither of us can see what that could possibly be. In his view, if we go again we change everything – new donor, new clinic, new doctor. I’ve told him I’m not agreeing to any absolute proclamations at this point.

The cycle still shocks me.

While I’m happy to have an RE with a great emotional understanding of the situation, I’m not happy with the post mortem.

While I know that you can’t compare eggs with eggs, I think there are a few comparisons that are relevant.

- My eggs always fertilised and developed normally.
- Our embryos always made it past Day 3. in Grade 1. condition
- Some of my embryos made it to blast.

This, with the specific tests we’ve had done on Mr. S, rules out a lot of the doubt around this being a sperm issue.

With Star, her eggs fertilised beautifully, but things started going wrong from Day 1 development.

I’m not prepared to cast doubt on Star without further investigation either, she had all the relevant hormone tests and karotyping done prior to starting. Her eggs were mature and looked good.

I have read that sometimes there is an issue with the media used, this can cause the embryos not to develop. The scientist also said to me, with some patients it’s the drug protocol.

Meanwhile, how is my 2WW going?

Nothing to report.

A trivial fact = my blood test is booked in for January 3rd.

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Review

Well today the hayfever is much improved.

The doctor didn’t get to call me back until after 6pm because he was run off his feet consulting all day.

In his view our results with Star were largely attributed to the ‘unpredictable nature of IVF’. He said nothing in Star’s response to the hormones indicated she had poor egg quality – she rose slowly and steadily. Her eggs when retrieved were mature and physically looked to be good. They were not unusually shaped or discoloured in any way to indicate poor quality. Since she also has a child, that is also another good indication.

He said that it was possible it could be a sperm issue.

‘But we had everything tested when we did the Miscarriage Management Program’
‘There is another test that can be done to check DNA fragmentation’
‘We’ve done it, I’ve got the results here’

SCSA – DNA fragmentation Index: 18% = Good Fertility Potential
[> 30% is problematic and can cause fertility issues]
High Green (HDS): 4% = Normal Result

‘Oh yes, I have got it. Well that’s good, then you can be happy that it’s not a problem. But when was the test done?’
‘A year and a half ago (wtf?). We also had another test done by the Top Notch Urologist that cost us $300 [we couldn’t claim], I don’t have a copy, but I’ll get one and fax it through’.

This was an AZF a,b,c,d – we never received a copy of the results, but he told us they were fine and indicated – AGAIN – good fertility potential. In fact after receiving the results of these, if any of my old readers can remember, the TNU called Mr. S father and started discussing our fertility issues with him – who then discussed them with us at the dinner table at Christmas last year! (Mr. S had got him to write a referral)

These tests are in the second and third line of diagnosing Male Fertility Issues. Our First Line testing indicates sperm morphology issues – that being the reason I have not been able to fall pregnant spontaneously (well just the once). I’m not sure if there is anything further we can get tested?

The point to doing all these and the immunology tests, was so that we could be certain BEFORE we moved down the donor path that there were no other underlying fertility issues – male or female – that hadn’t been uncovered. That the only thing stopping us getting pregnant were my old eggs!

‘Dr., I’m worried because I’ve done 6 cycles and never got anything frozen. This was all attributed to my eggs. It seems extraordinary to me that we would have the same result with a donor so young, I mean my embryos were always good on Day 3.’
‘Sparkle, let me tell you a story, I’ve been working in this fertility field for 30 years and I’m still in here batting for you. You will get pregnant. I know that you’ve had a rough trot with all you’ve been through, and you’ve been very strong. With all my experience I do know that this time of the year is particularly hard, but I don’t want you to get all doom and gloom about the embryo transferred – you have a good chance of this working.’
‘Sniff, but if, by some chance, this embryo doesn’t work, and Star agrees to cycle again, would we do anything differently?’
‘If we get to that point, I’ll sit down and evaluate everything and work it out, so far we’ve only done one cycle with Star, it’s very hard to draw too many conclusions from that’.

Following that conversation I called Star and let her know how it had gone.

‘So we really don’t know anymore, and have to wait and see if this one works’?
See I told you she was smart.

Mr. S and I talked everything through last night. What would we do next? What if Star offered to cycle again (Mr. S thinks she would), would it be wise to do that, should we look for another donor, should we go overseas, should we move to pursuing adoption?

‘I think we’re going to go through a myriad of thoughts and ideas before we find out whether we have a negative or positive result, let’s just talk, but not make any decisions and wait till we know’
‘I agree, but the thing is Sparkle, I want to stay on this donor path’.
‘Yes, so do I. I know that I want to get pregnant and have a baby’.

So in the spirit of not planning or doing anything, this morning I:

* Contacted the SDD and requested in writing a copy of the Embryo Report (told them it was for the TNU), that was faxed thru to me this arvo.
* Researched, found and then rang and made an appointment in early January with another Fertility Specialist – A Male Infertility IVF Specialist. I had a long conversation with the secretary who told me everything she wants us to bring to our appointment.
* Rang to get our AZF results, but found TNU and his team had already packed up for Christmas, so left a reminder to myself to re-contact them for a copy on January 16th when they return.
* Spoke to Mr. S about going back to TNU and asking him if there are any other weird tests with remote chromosomal abnormalities we could do. Mr. S thinks the TNU is very thorough and would have done them. But we’ll see about that.

I’m not panicking or ruling out a positive (I do think it’s a low chance). But I am a practical girl. I would rather cancel appointments if we get a positive result, rather than have to wait 6 weeks for an appointment if we find out it’s negative.

I am going to consider everything, whether that be cycling with another specialist or donor.

I do know that if it comes to going again with Star, I will not be happy doing everything exactly the same and potentially getting the same results.

This may be ‘only one donor cycle’, but we are already a hundred miles down the road from anyone conceiving a baby naturally.

Am I making any sense?

Thursday, December 21, 2006


It’s not an uncommon story with Infertility.

Imagine the best possible circumstance translating into the worst possible outcome.

When Mr. S and I were first embarking on IVF we were told that we had an extremely good prognosis. That we’d gotten pregnant naturally seemed to be a very good indication of us doing so again with the scientific help – and having it stick.

6 cycles later = nil, not even one snowbaby.

Before I was ready to accept that we would need a donor I made sure we had every possible test done – both of us.

We did the Miscarriage Management Program and had every single dna/chromosomal/ immunology test possible. Then Mr. S went and saw the ‘top’ Urologist in Sydney, and had a couple of further tests.

All tests said we were both fine and dandy – I have slightly elevated ACA’s, and Mr. S has excellent ‘fertility potential’.

When Star offered to be a donor, we were overjoyed. We went through all the initial getting to know you, met in person, then she and her Mr. S had their blood tests, counselling etc.

Everything looked great.

Getting 100% fertility on Monday was a dream. We’d had 100% before with our own cycles, so we were feeling great.

I had my doubts yesterday at transfer. How come we weren’t being told that our embryos were fantastic? 50% chance of making it to freeze? Why did SDD ask me if Star had her own children?

Today the scientist called me as I was running to catch the train.

‘I just wanted to let you know that none of your remaining embryos are good for freezing’.
‘I’m shocked, tell me about the embryos’.

In turns out that 1 of our 4-cell embryos just stopped, 2 reached 6-cell but fragmented to almost 50%, the remaining 2 started compacting in a bizarre fashion that indicated that some of the cells had started dividing super fast and some had remained stationery.

In all my 6 cycles I’ve never had a report like it – with my f****** old eggs. Day 3. every cycle we had normal 8-cell embryos, even when we only had one egg. From there, when we had lots, they would all progress to Day 5, and usually we had a blastocyst or two. In our last couple of cycles where we only ended up with one embryo – we transferred a Grade 1 Day 3 embryo both times. Clearly they never had the energy to go further, but up to this point, they were all developing normally.

‘The one you had transferred yesterday was perfect, it was nothing like the others, there is a chance it will work, drink lots of water’.
‘I’m sorry, but is this an unusual situation with a donor so young’?
‘It does happen, just because a donor is young, sometimes her eggs might not be good quality’.
‘So if she were to cycle again, would you expect the same outcome’?
‘Not necessarily, sometimes it’s the drug protocol that causes this, sometimes changing that can make a difference. Some will cycle the same again’.

Star is shocked. She’s now worried about her egg quality and the embryo we’ve transferred fragmenting to the same degree as the others. I have not given her the ‘full’ report, just the bare bones – fragmentation. But she’s a smart girl.

I share both sentiments.

She is more than 15 years younger than me, and my embryo reports were incomparable.

I’ve assured her that having her child is an indication she has good quality eggs.

I spoke to Glamour Nurse, she is very upset for us. She is going to get SDD to call both of us. She just rang me back to say, he’s rushed off his feet and will have to call at the end of his consulting today so he can talk to us properly. Let’s see what he has to say. She mentioned that they may run some extra tests on Star for her.

Remember when I believed that this was too good to be true? How revolting. I refuse to wallow in self-pity, because the truth is I met Star through this experience. Hopefully this is a friendship that will continue.

Right now, I feel sick to my stomach but also strangely calm. I’m starving, but anything I put in my mouth tastes and feels like glue.

Of course I’ve had to tell everyone at work that I have hay fever.

What will we do next? I have no idea.

At this point, I think only a fool would believe there is any HOPE at all of us becoming pregnant with the embie transferred yesterday. I’m sitting here, and don’t even believe it’s possible that it has made 8-cells. Maybe not a fool, but someone who wants to believe in miracles.

Certainly not Star or I.

I almost wish my period would arrive tomorrow, as it is, I’m going to have to keep taking the medication and not drink until it does in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Embryo Onboard


We transferred 1 great 4-cell embryo, and everything went smoothly.

Our doctor will only allow us to transfer one, due to Star’s age.

Right now we still have 3 x 4-cell embryos and 2 x 3-cell embryos that are being watched until tomorrow to see if they will be frozen.

The scientist wouldn’t guarantee me anything – she said 50% chance.

I’m scared because this is where we always ended up on our own cycles. I’d be getting a ‘great embryo’ transferred then being told to wait till tomorrow to see if any of the rest were good enough to be frozen.

‘But we’re really hoping we’d get some frozen’ I said to both the doctor and the scientist.
‘Well it’s up to the embryos’
‘But, I can’t help compare myself when I was cycling, and my much older embryos and hope that we have a better chance with these’.
‘We’ll let you know tomorrow’.

When I called Glamour Nurse to let her know, because she needs to send me an extra script for the Prog*nova, I told her all my fears.

‘Well when will they decide?’ she said.
‘They want to watch and make sure the embryos don’t fragment too much before they’ll decide. I'm scared that if we don't get any frozen, I’ll wish I'd had two transferred, I’m also scared that if none get frozen, it’ll feel like it did with my own eggs’.

I’m scared that if none are frozen, it’ll mean the one I’ve had transferred will also not have good embryo energy (like my old ones).

Meanwhile Star and Mr. S both say they have a ‘good feeling’.

So, from yesterday, a day of almost dizzying glorious excitement to today, where I'm dreading getting bad news tomorrow, my journey continues.

Bloody hell I'm just in that mood to have a whinge - Boxing Day BBQ invite just received - that's the day after Christmas those of you in the US ;-), wtf is putting 'family friendly' on the message about?! The next invite I send out I might add 'Single, Gay & Infertile Friendly'.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pick Up

8 eggs.

5 mature, 2 hoping to catch up and 1 immature.

We’re delighted.

Now we’re waiting on the fertilisation report. We’ll be doing a transfer on Wednesday.

Star was amazing.

I was initially upset, because Star and I had thought that I'd be able to go into the theatre with her, but she was having a general anaesthetic (and had apparently signed a consent form), so Mr. S. and I were told to come back in a couple of hours.

When we were called in to see her post-collection she looked great. She'd had a little nausea but had been given something that fixed it straight away. She said she didn't know what they gave her in her anaesthesia, but woke up feeling so happy and thinking about her baby and partner.

Also, apparently when she met the anaesthetist he'd said 'hmmm you're young for IVF', and so she'd been able to say 'I'm a donor!' Everyone was apparently lovely to her, so I'm relieved about that.

We spent the rest of the day together. She had a snooze at our place then we got some lunch. After that she seemed to have her energy back and we went Christmas shopping. Last night we went out and had a Thai dinner. Mr. S. dropped her at the airport this morning.

Goodness, just as I was about to press 'publish' the scientist rang with our results:

Report: 1 caught up (wow) - 6 for fertilisation - all 6 fertilised!!

Transfer tomorrow at 7.30am.

Oh my goodness, the highs and lows of this journey - I'm so excited. I caught Star at the airport as she was boarding - she's ecstatic too.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Scans - UPDATED

A morning of scans and results ...

Meanwhile in another state, Star found out she has around 11 follies measuring 18-19 – doctor doing the scan estimated a Monday pick up. We get official word later today, once we have bloods in ...

My scans show a lining of 8.1 with the triple lines(?) That’s good apparently, and the nurse informed me that she expects it to thicken even more in the next few days.

I picked up my pessaries, and instruction sheet. Little silver bullets.

I feel ecstatic at Star’s results, but at the same time, waiting desperately on her blood results ...

Because ... yesterday I found out that even though she had been sent two extra bottles of syn0rel, she had not been told to start using a new one. (She’d been told to wait until Nice Nurse told her to). Star has been very diligent and written everything down as she’s told – she has the ‘cyclers memory’ happening right now! ‘It’s like having the preggy brain’ she told me.

By my calculations she is waaaaay over the 60 squirts ... by days ...

‘Start the new one tonight, and remember to prime it first’ I told her.


‘Yeah definitely tastes different, the metallic taste is back’


Nice Nurse informed me that there was nothing to worry about

‘As long as she’s been taking it at the same time every day, her blood tests show she is very low, she’s suppressed’

But those blood tests were done on Monday!

‘Well I’m glad Nice Nurse says there’s nothing to worry about’ Glamour Nurse said when I told her.
‘Yeah, well I just want all this known – I’m worried that we may get the bloods back this afternoon, and then get cancelled at this late stage because she’s not suppressed anymore and has started ovulating!’

I’m holding my own hand.

Star is still suppressed, everything looks great (good sized follies, E2 over 3,500)EPU confirmed for Monday 7.30am!
Her last injection tonight, trigger on Saturday night, last spray Sunday
I have to increase to 3 x Prog*nova (from 2), my last spray Sunday night, start pessaries on Monday morning.

All to present ourselves at the Hospital Monday morning

Exhaling now ...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Proceeding at a Steady Pace

The results of Monday's blood test were not available until late this afternoon.

Star's hormone's are starting to rise nicely (steadily) - somewhere in the 800's. Next blood test and ultra sound on Friday.

It turns out that Star was continuing to take the bcp (she was sure someone had told her to), consequently prior to starting stims Nice Nurse told her to stop and so she promptly got her period. That explains the slow rise.

Potentially we are looking at a pick up either next Monday or Wednesday. At worst next Friday - with a transfer on Christmas Eve (blimey!)

My lining & hormones are to be checked this Friday, plus I am to take deliverance of the famous pessaries.

Following a weekend weekend that included, catch-up drinks on Friday, BBQ on Saturday and work-party on Sunday - I started the week a head cold. The Alternative Goddess took full credit for it - advising me it was leftover bacteria. I should start feeling better now (yay). She also advised that my hormones were in great shape (considering the suppression, and oestrogen top-up).

Happy with how everything is going right now.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Don't Panic

First blood test in = don't get excited.

Star's oestrogen hasn't had a dramatic rise yet (E2 - 157), so we will be getting another blood test on Monday and see if things have taken off over the weekend.

Nice Nurse and Glamour Nurse said 'nothing to worry about yet'.

Star has been suppressed for a long time and had a late period, so it may take a couple of extra days to get her ovaries to wake up. Her dosage has not being increased.

Since Star is injecting at night, yesterday's blood test was actually a Day 4, not 5.

So, clearly we won't be doing an EPU after 8 days.

I know that if there isn't a dramatic increase soon, we could be cancelled.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blah Humbug!

You know it’s pretty much par-for-the-course for anyone going through infertility to get a touch of the ‘bar humbug’ at this time of the year. I know it’s coming, so now I expect it.

Work is frantic, then there’s Christmas shopping, menu planning ... and ahhh ... yeah the fact that another Christmas looms without a baby.

A colleague and I were having a whinge about how much there was to do, and on top of it, there’s a heap of Christmas parties etc. to plan for work.

‘Yeah, I’ve had to get a bunch of quotes for a party I’m working on, need everything in today, so the budget can be approved’.

Well the budget was approved. Guess what? She had been tasked with planning a Christmas party for all the kids ... the kids of all Company employees!

‘How much?’
‘Great, I hope we get another $15K so those of us without kids can have a party’ [joking]
‘I’m looking for volunteers’
‘Count me out, I’ll be taking advantage of it and taking an early mark that day’

Bah F****** Humbug.

‘That’s discriminatory’ Mr. S said.
‘Yeah, but I have to watch my mouth, you know - otherwise I’ll give away the REAL reason why it p***** me off so much’

Imagine that ‘Infertile-hell’ – all the kids of everyone you work with (I work for a large company) running around having the time of their lives AT WORK. I’ve spent the last 4 years having to listen through all the boring ‘Mummy/Daddy chit-chat’ at work – imagine watching the whole lot of them en masse – Fertility Wonderland!

I hope they have a great time. I’m being honest, in fact I remember growing up and having a ball at my father’s work Christmas Party – but then again, my father paid into social club towards that event.

This week I paid another visit to the Alternative Goddess … you know since I’d made an appointment last time. Unfortunately I was running late, so they had to shuffle things around abit, and I had to sit in the waiting room for a little while. This time I scanned over the framed certificates – Science Degree, Osteopathy Diploma, Chiropractic Diploma as well as the Kinesiology Diploma. Ah well, if nothing else, she’s certainly spent some time studying.

‘Did you expect me to have any physical responses to our last session?’ I asked
‘Yes, what happened’
‘I had a headache for two days’
‘No I didn’t expect that, anything else?’
‘Yes, that’s what I expected, you shouldn’t feel that after this time’

So we got on with another session. Much the same as last time. More jabbing, prodding and questioning. This time my reading was better. But she picked up that my Lutenising Hormone was out.
‘Well my body is suppressed, and now I’ve just started taking tablets to build up my oestrogen levels’

Why am I bothering? My friend who recommended her, went through a donor cycle herself and has now delivered her baby [boy]. She has also sent two friends to her – one who experienced IF for 12 years and is now pregnant, and so is the other (can’t remember the details).

I ask myself – is this doing any harm? No. Well, why not then.

Today I have a sore throat.

In answer to Mony’s question. No she isn’t doing acupuncture on me. But she does have an acupuncturist come to the clinic.

On Monday night Star started her injections. I phoned in and talked her through the first one – which, after three jabs, went without a hitch.

We won’t know till Friday, when Star has her first blood test, how she is responding. Then we will have an idea about when EPU might be.

Nice Nurse told me that it was possible, given Star’s age, that she may only need to be stimming for 8 days.

‘I’m scared that if that happens, that there’ll be a whole bunch of immature eggs!’ I mentioned to Glamour Nurse. ‘Or am I worrying too much’?
‘SDD will make the decision based on the scan and blood test, don’t worry’.
‘Okay, we’ll talk on Friday then’.

Now the injections have started, it has taken a lot of the worry out of the equation. This is what we have been working towards, and now it’s happening. I just don’t want it to happen too fast.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Speeding Up

The two-day headache following the appointment with the Alternative Goddess ended on Saturday. But by then I was aching all over. That has mostly stopped now too. The urgent need to rush to the loo only lasted the one day following the appointment.

‘Wow, she sounds amazing, I want to see her, give me her number’ one of my colleagues said after I was complaining about my headache. People floor me.

So it turns out my muscles remembered plenty and decided to give me a reminder!

I’m not sure that if I go back and see her, if I’ll be up for more of this misery?

I don’t know what I think of it all – or if it’s merely coincidence and in fact I had somehow picked up a low-level flu?

It’s so weird, but then so is life.

In other news, Star has been given the go-ahead. She starts injecting tonight.

‘Are you okay with everything, do you know what to do?’ I ask anxiously.
‘Yeah, I think I’m fine – I dial up 150 don’t I?’
‘Yes, call me if you need me to talk you through it’.
‘Okay, Mr. Star says he doesn’t want to be in the room when I do it, lol’.

So we’ll be getting to the exciting part of the cycle, and also the part where all the logistics have to come together.

Our SDD wants Star to be here from Day 8 of stims, but Star would like to see if we can bring that in to closer to the time of retrieval. It looks like Mr. Star will be coming with her, which is awesome. I’m going to have to ring the clinic and see how far we can push it. She has a radiology place to go to for her scans, so as long as they do what they’re supposed to and get SDD the scans on email quickly – surely we can do that?

Star’s first blood test will be on Friday, so that’s when we’ll get an indication on how she’s fast her levels are rising.

I’m thinking it’s time for Mr. S to step up to the plate and start getting involved too. On the one hand, I feel like I need to be the one running the show, it’s a control thing I have, on the other I want some help in case I stuff things up.

Oh yeah, and my part – I started taking Progy*nova today – one in the morning and one at night while I still keep sniffing.

I have a feeling the next 10 days are going to fly by at warp-speed.