Newsflash: Life is Unfair.

I have debated posting this, but after some thought, I think there are some important lessons to learn here, so while this is now live to my readers, I am not posting for pity and the comments on this post have been turned off. Life is unfair, and one thing I am not, is a whiner.  There are worse things to suffer from than this, and I remind myself of that often.

Recently, we transferred a hatching, CCS normal embryo and the cycle resulted in no pregnancy.   There was a significant immune protocol in place and my lining was at 11 and it was triple-striped.   I did acupuncture and followed an anti-inflammatory diet too. The lesson:  even the most perfect of circumstances can result in a BFN.  Another lesson: Just because you have a chromosomally normal embryo doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a BFP.

I had a lot of symptoms leading up to my BFN, all of which can be contributed to the medications, especially the progesterone. That’s another good lesson:  those symptoms? They are from the medications.

My next FET is already scheduled and we will be following a more natural FET protocol vs. what we did recently, a more medicated FET. If this cycle results in another BFN, I will immediately start IVF#9 and do another retrieval.

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Since my last post, we pushed our next (and last) IVF to October. To be honest, we are both still struggling (when does it get better?). We’ve lost confidence in ever seeing success. But, we are also enjoying life without IVF treatments. Without constant injections. Without the side effects. And without the fresh failures. In truth, we’ve been out of the IVF mindfuck for the past 8 months.

That was until yesterday, when we learned our insurance may change drastically in September. So now the question is, do we cycle with our current clinic in July or roll the dice and see if somehow our new insurance will allow us to cycle with Dr. Braverman.

Either way, this does mean that we need to get back to the supplements. And back to the acupuncture. The thought of going through all of it again with 0 success is just gut wrenching.

Prep

We are oh so slowly prepping for our next IVF. We are throwing so many new things at this next cycle I honestly have no idea what to expect. In reality, my confidence is so shattered that I am not anticipating much success.

I think the most significant adjustment is that I have severely limited gluten and dairy. As I had no concrete knowledge on how to go about such a change, this was quite a learning process. It involved vast interwebs research, interviews with crunchy time friends, discussions with a doctor and a nutritionist, and recon at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The conclusion was I needed to identify the diary and gluten items I could not live without and find alternatives. If you are curious how it’s going, all I can say is this insanity is still in its infancy, so I have no major conclusions as of yet.

Next, I am now taking micro green pills, mitochondrial supplements, and vitamin E. These have been added to my current regimen of baby aspirin, vitamin D, and acupuncture. CO-Q10 has been wiped from my list, and DHEA is still up in the air.

My husband is taking an antioxidant supplement and Clomid. He has severely limited his alcohol consumption and is eating very cleanly. After a few months on this plan he will repeat the sperm DNA fragmentation test.

Dr. Braverman and I discussed the decisions made throughout my prior IVF protocols. It was scary to hear his thoughts, as many of them mimic my own conclusions. My ovaries should of been gently surpressed (I have a repeated history of lead follicles) and estrogen priming should of been implemented. Every single IVF cycle was too short, in fact, I should of stimmed for longer than 8 days. For my last cycle, 3 days of human growth hormone was concluded to be not enough. Also, my Gonal-F dosage should have been stepped down throughout the stim process. Dr. Braverman does suggest very high initial stim dosages (like 750IU) and eventually stepping down. This level of stim medication sets off a warning bell for me. Has anyone stimmed with these types of dosages (after suppression) and been successful? I am very curious for any feedback. Particularly from those working with Dr. Braverman, however all experience with high stim dosages and success are welcome.

We are not focusing on the embryo transfer process at this time, so I suspect I won’t post about it for a few months. I believe we will start IVF #4 in January. It will (hopefully) be a freeze all and embryo banking cycle.

This may all seem like progress, but emotionally, I am not doing well. I am avoiding most people. I cry a few times a week. I tear up everyday. I am in a funk. I am tired all the time. It is a challenge to take care of myself like I used to, so I started making lists. I saw the dermatologist. I scheduled the orthopedist. I visited the acupuncturist. I got a pedicure. It is only 7 weeks out from my miscarriage, and I am still waiting for it to get easier, to feel more like myself. However, I just feel like I’m just going through the motions.

The Issues

We met with Dr. Braverman last week.  We initially had an appointment 6 weeks from the day we called, however a cancelled appointment opened up.  It was a long day, 7 hours door to door, and there was a lot of information to process.

To  sum it up, we have a lot of issues, and we are testing for a few more:

1.  My husbands 0-1% morphology could be a significant contributor to why we lose so many embryos on day 5 and 6.   He is going to do a sperm DNA fragmentation test, and if the numbers are bad, he will start various medicines.  He will do supplements either way.

2.  My clinic suggested a possible reason for the miscarriage was a “an energy issue at the  cellular/mitochondrial level.”  I honestly feel this is their generic answer when there is a failure with a CCS tested embryo. However,  Dr. Braverman did not rule this out, but did say it’s hard to diagnose.  I am going to be taking new supplements to improve this along with CO-Q10.  This could also be a significant contributor to why we have gotten so few quality embryos during our IVF cycles.

3. A doppler test indicated restricted blood flow to my uterus.  A very important piece of (treatable) information to know prior to transfer, no?  I questioned my current RE about it and she said they are “planning to start this testing in the next few months.”    Mind you, this is testing that is part of the normal CCRM workup.

4. During my pregnancy, my lovenox dosage was too low, as indicated by my anti-Xa test.  This may have been caught too late.    Clotting factors at play.

5.  I could have immune issues, natural killer cells, etc.   I am having the bloodwork for this next week.

6.  My husband and I could have HLA matches, i.e. our genetic makeup could be too similar, and  therefore my body is rejecting our babies.  We are also having bloodwork to test this next week.  I honestly don’t think this is our problem.  I think our problems are 1-4, with a dash of #5.

So there it is.   We both liked Dr. Braverman.  He was very knowledgeable, yet personable.  He offered us cost saving options, and ruled out a lot of different repeat testing.  Having said that, his hourly rate is insanely expensive.  Vomit in your mouth, expensive.  Our test results should be back in mid-September, and we will be meeting with him again shortly there after.  We are not even thinking about another transfer.  Our first goal is to improve upon the above issues, so that in December, we can cycle again (probably at our current clinic with some rogue input from Dr. B) with better results.

Also, my beta HCG level is back to zero.   It took me 17 months at my infertility clinic to get pregnant, and only 2 weeks to get unpregnant.

The Pain in My Arse

I was pretty cocky after my first PEO shot in the buttski.  There was no lingering pain at all.  Sitting was fine and I was strutting around going “I wonder what all the fuss is about?”

We had followed the advice from my friends regarding the administration of the progesterone, with ice to the area, inject, massage the area, then apply heat.

For day 2, we followed the same routine and…

Fast forward to this morning and when I attempted to roll over in bed and I screeched in pain. Shortly thereafter, my acupuncturist rubbed the same spot and I screamed so loud there was a response that I could be scaring her other patients.

So yeah.  The progesterone in ethyl oleate is kicking my ass.  Literally.

If I get knocked up there will be 7+ more weeks of this, which is fine really, because the ends here justify the means.   However, today as I was strewn out across the acupuncture table with needles poking into my flab, I had a bone deep feeling the transfer was going to fail.

I hate that I cannot seem to be positive about this process, but I just cannot seem to find that headspace, at all.