Deflated Sails

So, we just got back from our monitoring appointment to check on how my follies have been growing the past 4 days on stims. Mr. B and I were sitting in the office before Dr. K came in, placing bets on how many follicles we would have this month. Based on my AFC (antral follicle count) back in June of 14, and our more recent one of 10 in September…I chose the lucky number 15 while Scott settled on 17. We had high hopes…especially since I’d been talking to my ovaries lately (weird, I know) telling them that I needed lots of healthy follies to grow big and strong this month. What? Doesn’t everyone talk to their ovaries? No…just us infertiles then, huh?! Well, they certainly didn’t listen to the encouragement and pep talks. We got a a bit of discouraging news today. Ugh…can any part of this process ever just be easy and worry free? Apparently not.

At my appt on Saturday, Dr. K was unsure of my AFC because the follicles were still so small (since I had just started my cycle). Well, today they were visible and easy to count…because there are 5. Only 5 Frown. I am so discouraged. We went from 14, to 10 to a measly 5. We asked if we should just pull out this cycle and wait for a cycle where I have a higher number of follicles to start with. This would mean that we would be out the money we have spent on the ultrasounds, the bloodwork and the meds so far (still a boat load of money)…but would save the cost of the full cycle if this one ends up being a bust. He said that he wanted to wait it out a few more days and see how things progress. He upped my menopur from 75 iu to 150 iu and kept my Gonal-F the same at 225 iu. The fact that he was upping my meds was a discouragement in itself, especially since it will cost us an additional $750 for the additional medication. Ugh. I thought we were done handing over the credit cards. He said my ovaries seemed to be in an bit of “distress” and he wanted them to be responding quicker than they are.

What really worries me is how much my AFC seems to be decreasing from cycle to cycle. Each cycle is different and you never know how many you will have to start…but mine doesn’t seem to be going up at all, quite the opposite actually. So, who knows, maybe if we decided to cancel and wait until next cycle, I’d only have 3 follicles to start with. Dr. K said that my low follicle count coincides with my high FSH that came back at 13 a couple months ago. And even though I had it re-tested and last month it came back at 7.8 (this also fluctuates from month to month) you are usually only as good as your highest FSH number. High FSH indicates a dominished ovarian reserve, which would make sense as to why my body would be producing a small number of follicles each month. You see, God designed our bodies perfectly and we are born with all the eggs we will ever have. It makes sense that if you are running low, your body will become stingy with the eggs it produces each month, in hopes to keep the reserve up and not send you spiraling into menopause at an early age. Dr. K also said that maybe my tubal surgeries could have compromised my ovaries. If my ovaries are compromised that means my eggs could be compromised…and if there are no healthy eggs then there will obviously be no healthy babies. Oh God, please don’t let that be the case.

I feel like suddenly we don’t have as many options. Sure, it only takes one good egg and one good sperm to make a baby. So you may be asking, why am I so upset about having 5 possible eggs? Well, for starters, the average 32 year old will have between 10-20 follicles at the start of each cycle. Each follicle usually contains an egg. The follicles begin to grow and then only 1 (or sometimes 2) is chosen. This chosen follicle will continue to grow and this is the one that your body will ovulate. The rest (that were not “the chosen ones” are dissolved back into your body). In IVF, they stimulate all the follicles in hopes to get a mature egg out of each one. However, not all of them that are retrieved will be mature and not every follicle will even house an egg. If you are starting out with 20 follicles and get 18 eggs, maybe only 15 of these will be mature, then maybe out of those 15, 12 fertilize, then maybe out of those 12, 8 make it to healthy embryos by day 5. This looks like a typical and decent picture of the outcome of an IVF cycle. Now, in our case, starting with only 5 follicles, you can see how this picture becomes a bit discouraging. Maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll be able to retrieve 5 eggs (best case scenario), then say that 3 of those are mature, then only 1 or two of them fertilize. See what I mean…out of options.

We had hoped to get enough eggs to be able to freeze at least a few. That way, down the road, we could opt to do a FET (frozen embryo transfer) as opposed to an entirely fresh cycle in case this one doesn’t work or in case we want to try for a sibling in a couple years. This would be loads easier on my body and our pocketbook, since FET is a fraction of the cost of a fresh cycle and you don’t have to use nearly as much medication. We also had hoped not to have to do ICSI, which is where the sperm is directly placed in the egg to ensure fertilization. We had hoped to let the eggs fertilize naturally, you know, the way God and nature intended. Survival of the fittest. And since Mr. B’s SA (semen analysis) came back good, this was an option…or at least it was an option. Now, that may not be the smartest play. If we only have 5 eggs, I’m not sure I want to take the risk of some or all of them not fertilizing. With only a possible 5, at best case scenario, we can’t mess around with such a low number. See, our options…gone…just like that. Ugh…I hate this! I am so mad at my stupid body and sucky tubes & ovaries!

The last thing we asked Dr. K before we left his office is if he thinks we should have signed up for the 3 cycle package instead of the 2 cycle. He said that it probably would have been a good idea…considering these new developments. He said to call Monday and he would see what he could do about getting our plan changed. I guess I wanted him to say something like, “No, this is going to work. We’ve got 2 tries, and because you are young, those 5 eggs are going to be great quality. Really we are looking for quality over quantity.” That is what I wanted him to say. That is what I needed him to say. I know he can’t make promises, but I needed something that was reassuring. Especially since I was in his office bawling. Thank God Mr. B came with me today. He almost didn’t since the appt was so early, but after receiving tough news…I’m sure glad he was there to hold me and tell me it was going to be okay. What would I do without that man? He is my rock and my biggest cheerleader!

Family and friends, my next monitoring appt is Tuesday morning. We need so many prayers right now. Please say lots of prayers that these 5 follies grow big and strong and produce 5 perfect and healthy eggs for us to work with. Pray that at Tuesday’s appt it will be clear what to do with the cycle, either move forward or cut our losses. Please also pray for Dr. K and his wisdom and expertise to know what is right for us and this cycle. Lastly, please pray that I will continue to hold onto hope. I am always such a positive person. But this appointment today, well, it really took the wind out of my sails. For the first time I truly let myself think, what if this doesn’t work? What if this fails us? What if my body fails us? Please pray that I will get back to a positive place where I can be excited and optimistic again.

As always, thanks for all your love and support,

~ xoxo Mrs. B

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11 thoughts on “Deflated Sails

  1. Oh honey, I am so sorry about today appointment. I also had these magical numbers in my head (that were similar to yours) and unfortunately it looks like they are not happening for me either. We went very quickly from 17 to 4. I really wanted some frosties and I doubt that is going to happen. Why does IVF have to be so expensive? Why can’t it be covered by insurance? All these thought go through my head over and over. Today has been a tough day for me too. I hope Tuesday is full of good news.

    • Those are the same questions I ask too! If it wasn’t so freakin’ expensive and we could afford to try multiple times, there wouldn’t be so much pressure on this one shot. Well, 2 in our case, but man, I don’t even know if we’d be able to afford another round of meds…at least not for awhile. So sorry you are having a tough day. This journey sucks sometimes, well, all the time actually! You have been in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll pray that those 4 little embabies divide and grow just like they should. Hugs.

  2. I am so, so sorry about how the appointment went. I totally understand the disappointment, but I am trying to keep hope alive for you. My acupuncturist told me a story about a woman who came to him and said I’m going to do IVF and you are going to help me succeed, she was older and the RE wasn’t really wanting to try on her since her numbers weren’t good. She insisted though and her AFC was only 1. They were actually able to retrieve it and it fertilized and they put it back in her. No one thought this was going to make it, but it did and she had a BFP with one beautiful baby. I know it’s hard not to focus on the future and future children, but as long as there are eggs there are hope. You have prepared for this and I’m praying that all 5 are healthy and make it to embryos and that you have 2 to transfer and then a couple to freeze for later. *hugs*

    • Amber, you are always so encouraging. Thank you for this! I am feeling better now. A little more hopeful than earlier. It was just a shock. I felt like I got the wind knocked out of me. But now I just have to regroup, re-focus, and not let this deter me from our goal. And yes, there are 5 beautiful follies that could potentially produce 5 beautifully perfect eggs. That is what I have to hold onto and focus on. It is just so hard when you hear about women getting 20-30 eggs and have a sky high AFC to start with. I swear, these BBC boards that I follow are so helpful in some ways and so hard in others. I have to constantly remind myself not to compare myself to others or what is going on in their cycles. So hard sometimes. My Nov/Dec BBC IVF board just blew up with tons of great retrievals (really large numbers), lots of leftover frosties, and lost of BFP’s. So thrilled for every single one of those ladies. Just hoping that my low AFC will not take away my chance at this same happy ending.

      Thanks again for all your awesome support! Hugs.

      • You know what is so great about you? You get to go on these IVF boards and other threads soon and say, I only has 5 follicles and ALL (or most) matured beautifully, were retrieved, fertilized and BFP for me! You get to be the shining star and example for others that DOR and a low AFC doesn’t mean your dream can’t come true. You can, and WILL succeed! I can’t wait!

  3. Ugh! I’m so sorry you didn’t have a better monitoring appointment. You’ve got my prayers coming your way! Praying the increased meds are all that’s needed to do the trick and no matter what that you end up with your healthy take home baby in just over 9 months! Praying hard! Keep your head up! ((((hugs))))

    • Thanks so much Katharine! Any prayers are so greatly appreciated! Hoping the increased dosage is “just what the doctor ordered” also. Especially since he really did just order them (hardy, har, har). No really though, I will soon be the proud new owner of an additional $750 in Menopur because of the upped dosage. Ugh. And just when I thought we were done handing over the credit cards. But, if it works, I won’t give a damn about a single penny spent on bringing our baby into this world. Don’t worry, I’ll keep my head up. We’ve come so far and I am not about to give up after all the hurdles we have already overcome. We will overcome this one too!

      Praying hard for you too and that sticky bean of yours! I swear, you popped into my head a few times today…and each time…I dropped what I was doing and said a prayer for you. Hope you are feeling great! Can’t wait to hear about your ultrasound on Friday!

  4. Oh 😦
    I’m so sorry that you are feeling so hopeless. I know it feels defeating, but things aren’t always so textbook! Doctors and stats aren’t always correct and I really believe that positivity and prayers make such a difference! More eggs doesn’t always mean healthy embryos. Please don’t lose hope! Maybe it’s not textbook, but those 5 follies have the potential to all turn to healthy embryos! You will find your rainbow, I know it. I will be praying for your 5 perfect, healthy, egg-filled follicles!!! You are in my thoughts all the time!

    • Thanks so much Kodye! Your support and encouragement means so much to me! I have an appt tomorrow and am looking forward to and meditating on good news. I am trying the best that I can to stay positive and focus all my good energy on these 5 strong and healthy follies. I keep reminding myself that all we need is one perfect embryo and one perfect swimmer. When I think of and remember that, 5 follies sounds pretty promising. Trying my best not to compare my cycle or my journey to any one else’s. So hard sometimes…but that is the only way I will keep my sanity through this process. I think about you all the time too, Kodye! Hope you are feeling good and can’t wait till you have that sweet, precious, perfect, and very deserved baby girl in your arms!

  5. I can understand the frustration about the numbers not being where you want them to be, and I know the last thing you want to hear is that it only takes one egg. I mean, here you are paying all this money, and it sure would be nice to have a cushion and know that you have some leftover for FET or that you have xyz amount likely to mature for the transfer. But you know what? I have seen women with TONS of follicles have very few mature and none that resulted in pregnancy. Then I have seen women who had less follicles like you right now, and 4 out of 5 become mature perfectly dividing embryos and only transferring one or two results in pregnancy. You have EVERY BIT as good of a chance. You are right, it’s not all about quantity. You’ve got to give yourself the benefit of the doubt, because you have 5 chances at pregnancy right now! That is way more than you could ever have on your own, and I know it’s a boatload of money and that you’re paying completely out of pocket for this, so you NEED it to work. However, you more than anyone are strong enough to stay faithful! The eggs that are supposed to mature WILL and they will be ready and waiting for their perfect matches! I will be praying for all of the things you listed in your prayer request. I am praying HARD that this cycle will all end up working out for you guys!

    • Thanks for always being so positive and encouraging Emily! I don’t know what I’d do without my online support of friends that understand and are rooting us on! I am holding onto faith and hope that this is the only cycle that we will need. This is the one that will result in a healthy pregnancy. And in 10 months I will be holding my baby! Thanks for always reminding me that my faith is stronger than my worry.

      “Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.” Jeremiah 32:17 <– one I've been meditating on lately.

      Thinking of and praying for you daily. Hugs!

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