Sunday, November 8, 2015

An Auspicious Birthday

Today is my 40th birthday, and today I had three beautiful 5 day old embryos transferred at my new IVF clinic.

I suppose I should back up a bit.

Over the summer, I had an initial consult with a new fertility clinic in Houston. I really liked the doctor & the clinic, and they seemed to be so much more detail oriented than my previous clinic in Austin. I decided then and there that if I were ever to do another IVF round, this is where I'd feel most comfortable cycling, despite having to commute 2+ hours for appointments.

Fast forward to September, when I had saved up enough money (this was all to be out of pocket) to come for my initial consultation toward starting a cycle.

Upon examination of my antral follicle count (a fancy term for how many resting ovarian follicles can be seen, thus predicting how many total eggs one might produce that cycle)- 8 resting follicles were found. This was a surprise to me, given in my first IVF cycle we'd gotten 17 eggs!

My doctor ordered a blood test to measure my AMH, which is an indicator of ovarian reserve. Unfortunately between December 2014 when it was last taken and September 2015, it had dropped down from 2.88 to 1.49. That wasn't awesome news. My ovaries seemed to be onto the fact that I was nearing my 40th birthday.

So we all agreed to bench me for another month, hoping for a higher antral follicle count the next round.

When my cycle came again in October, I made the trip back to Houston and was happy to see that now there were 15 resting follicles to work with! That was enough to say we were a GO, and I officially began all prep toward IVF #2.

I was on a Lupron Micro-Flare protocol, which meant about 2 weeks worth of birth control pills to initially suppress my system, followed by 4 shots/day to rev it up: 225 Follistim, 225 Menopur, and 20ml Lupron morning and night. The shots themselves weren't so bad, but man did my stomach become one big hard bruise!

I stimmed for a total of 9 days, having to stay 3 nights in Houston toward the end for constant monitoring. This unfortunately meant I missed Halloween with my family, though I DID try to drive back for the night. I sadly had to turn around 20 miles from home due to completely flooded roadways. Austin was experiencing records rains and flooding at the time so back to Houston I drove (clocking in a total of 6 hours in the car!)

Iyla represented as "Batcat Lady," a name and costume she completely styled herself.

I triggered on Sunday November 1st, and BC and I drove up to Houston for my egg retrieval early that Tuesday morning. They were able to retrieve 14 eggs, 12 of which were mature, 7 of which fertilized normally. I was honestly a little disappointed that not more had fertilized, given in my first IVF round we had 9 fertilize and still only ended up with 2 not so great quality embryos (a Day 5 CC and a Day 7 BC).

My retrieval recovery was much more smooth this time around, and the really great news was that my progesterone levels behaved themselves and I got the green light to proceed toward a fresh transfer (if you recall on my first IVF round I had to do a "freeze all" due to high progesterone levels).

Then began the oh so exciting and equally terrifying wait for my embryo updates. I was to get my first update on Day 3- and knew there was a good chance I'd have to get in the car to Houston for a transfer that day if there weren't enough embryos progressing and looking strong.

When the call came, my nurse told me that 6 of the 7 embryos looked "fantastic," and 5 of those had the highest grade rating of "4," while the 6th was a "3+!" I'd officially be moving to a Day 5 transfer- which- incredibly enough- would occur ON my 40th birthday. That coincidence was amazing… as I hadn't had any control over the timing of anything in the cycle, and here it was- all about to go down on a very special day.

BC and I drove up to Houston yesterday (our sweet nanny stayed the night with Iyla) so we could have an early birthday dinner and be nearby for our bright and early transfer. I was again so nervous and excited to hear what our Day 5 updates would bring!

The clinic here has an on site acupuncturist who was able to give me a pre and post transfer session right in the IVF lab. When we got into the transfer room, the doctor said that we had 2 embryos looking very, very good. One was rated a 4BA blastocyst, which is almost the highest grade it can get (4AA is the very highest). The other hadn't progressed quite far enough to be graded but looked very good as well. Because of my age I fell in the category of transferring 2-3 embryos, and BC and I talked at length about this decision. The 3rd embryo in consideration wasn't as high of quality as the first two, so we ultimately decided to transfer all 3, as I didn't want to have ANY regrets if for some reason this didn't yield a pregnancy.

There are also 4 other embryos still in culture they are watching toward possible freezing (!)

This is truly such an all around better cycle than my first time. My body has felt good throughout, and the quality of the embryos is so much better as well! I completely contribute that to two things: the protocol I was on, and all the daily supplements I've been taking for the past 4 months (to include Florarix which is an iron + Vitamin B complex, Vitamins C, D, & E, Ubiquinol, fish oil, and while stimming I added in nightly Melatonin which is supposed to be a powerful antioxidant).

And now we wait….. I am SO hopeful that this round will bring us the next Little Lambie we have so been hoping for.

All in all, one of the most exciting birthdays I've had in a long time!

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