What a rollercoaster this thing is. If you haven’t read my other blogpost, here’s a quick summary:
-trying to conceive since January 2019
-2 miscarriages, 2 chemical pregnancies
-diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”
-2 failed IUIs
-IVF egg retrieval in June of 2020, cancelled fresh transfer due to hyper stimulation
-embryo transfer in August; failed
-embryo transfer in November of 2020; cancelled
I go into far more detail about hormones, procedures, costs, timelines, etc. in my first blogpost about this. If you’re just starting this process, or are wondering how to support a friend or family member, I would suggest reading that first.
That’s basically where I left off. Why was it cancelled in November? My lining never got past 7mm, which is the minimum requirement at my clinic to transfer.
Here is where advocating for yourself comes in. I think the term “unexplained infertility” is bullshit. What I’m asking is for a doctor to do their job, and find out what’s wrong, be a detective, do more tests, get to the bottom of it. Don’t just slap on a “one size fits all” label – that’s a huge issue with our health care system in general, but I digress. My lining is an issue. Why don’t we focus on that? Instead, we just keep changing the protocol and *hoping* this time it works. And what does that do… it costs me thousands of dollars!
I had started seeing a new Naturopath in October, so right before my cancelled transfer. I had ALL my files from the Fertility Clinic sent to her. She went through them with me, and explained them to me. My thyroid and my adrenals are an issue – but because I’m RIGHT on the cusp of being in the normal range, no one at OFC (Ottawa Fertility Centre) looked into them. I had more blood work done through her, and I’ve been on supplements ever since. We chose to do the transfer in November even though I’d only been working with her and on my new supplements for a short time; patience is not my strong suit in this fertility game.
I’d also like to say that I’ve had my blood work done again recently, and I’m now in the normal range for my thyroid and my adrenals!!! If you have the money… I think everyone struggling with fertility issues should see a Naturopath. I can’t scream this from a rooftop enough. She has been a game changer for me. It’s a slow process waiting for the changes and results, but it’s worth it.
You need a month off between some treatments (not all, but some). I don’t deal with that well, I always feel like I need to be doing something, so I started seeing an Osteopath in December. He said something like, “structure governs function”… that really stuck with me. Osteopathy is basically physical manipulation of the body – he literally moves my organs around. It’s not a massage, and yes, more often than not, it hurts – but I feel like I’ve seen a difference in my test results/lining, etc. since I started seeing him.
We chose to do another IUI, instead of rushing to doing the embryo transfer again. This was our last embryo, and I wanted to make sure I’d been on my supplements long enough to really get all the benefits/see the results. So we did an IUI in January of this year, like I said… I like to feel like I’m doing something – so rather than wait another month to transfer, we did IUI. Failed. Their success rate is much lower than IVF, but it was still a blow. It was weird for me, I really felt like I was “supposed” to do that IUI, like the universe was pushing me in that direction. I’m a big believer in signs, and for some reason all the signs were pointing me that way. The one saving grace is my lining DID get to 7mm. The IUI itself was also much sooner than the last one, meaning I was only on the hormones for less then a week, verses almost 2 weeks. I TRULY think this is because of my Naturopath and Osteopath. Slowly, but surely… I was starting to see changes.
In trying to make our next game plan, we got a call from the clinic saying our names had come up on the list for a funded IVF cycle. Ontario will do this once a lifetime, the wait is anywhere from a year to a year and a half. We put our names on the list at the beginning of this ride, but didn’t want to wait so we paid out of pocket at first. Never in a million years did I think we’d STILL be trying to conceive once our names came up. We had a choice to use the funding to transfer our last frozen embryo ($2500), or to start the process again from the egg retrieval. Since we only had one embryo left, we looked at it from a cost effective way. $2500 verses almost $20000, it was a no brainer.
So last month (March of 2021), I took a leave of absence from teaching spin at Elevate, and we began the process all over again. It takes 100 days to make an egg, so I felt good about the fact that I’d been on my supplements for so long. Let’s remember… I hyper stimulated my last egg retrieval (or I should say, OFC says I did… I still firmly believe I did not, and they were being extra cautious due to just returning to work after they were closed due to Covid and Ontarios first lockdown.) So this protocol, my doctor was adjusting my dose so I would make less follicles, in the hopes that I wouldn’t hyper stimulate – which is basically too much fluid in the abdomen due to the high number of follicles, it can become dangerous if it reaches your lungs, etc.
March 25th; egg retrieval
March 30th; scheduled fresh embryo transfer (This was also the date of my last miscarriage, wtf universe?!).
The nurse checks in on you every day between the egg retrieval and the transfer. You have to weigh yourself every day and if you’re gaining, that’s bad, and a hyper stimulation risk. I was losing weight, so I felt good about transferring.
My husband can’t come with me because of Covid. Embryo transfers are super short and you don’t even need meds, so I told him to just go to work and I’d stop by afterwards. I meet with the Doc, she tells me the number of embryos we made (two) and their grading, then we go into the sterile procedure room. She’s read my chart and she’s very kind, you can just tell she has a big heart and she’s sensitive to the fact that we’ve already had two cancelled transfers. She does my ultrasound, and she’s quiet. She makes eye contact with the nurse, who then leaves. She was gentle, and she was kind, she said, “I’m trying not to see it.” She was talking about the fluid in my abdomen. It was everywhere. To say I was devastated was an understatement. I just felt like this couldn’t be happening again. Of the HUNDREDS of fertility stories I’ve read about, I’ve never seen a couple who have had cancelled transfers like us. It was a bad day. The skin around my eyes was absolutely raw, and it was a rough drive home. I really just let myself have the day to be sad, mad, angry and grieve.
I do need to say just how wonderful this doctor was. Her name was Dr. Gale. Her, and all the nurses that were working in the procedure room that day – they were kind, and patient and just let me have all the moments and breakdowns I needed. I’m really appreciative to them for that.
If I’m 100% honest with myself, I hadn’t been feeling well between the retrieval and transfer. But I was losing, and not gaining weight, so I didn’t really think anything of it. In an egg retrieval, they literally pierce your ovaries to get the follicles… so I didn’t think I would feel 100%. I even had an episode where I had to call Steven up to the bathroom because I started profusely sweating when I was on the toilet. I could feel my blood pressure dropping, and the colour draining from my face. It only lasted a couple minutes. It’s called a vagus response, it also happened when I got my IV for the egg retrieval. I didn’t tell them about this, hoping we could transfer. Anyways… all this to say that yes… I agree with the clinic that I hyper stimulated THIS time. And I’m even more certain that I didn’t hyper stimulate after the first egg retrieval in June. It took just over a week, but I’m feeling back to normal now.
BUT… my lining got to 7.7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the thickest it has EVER been. I just have to have all the faith that if it did it once, it can do it again!
So now we have 3 little embryos on ice, and we wait. Again. This month they’ll test my progesterone levels, which will determine if we can do an unmedicated or medicated transfer in May or June. If it’s medicated, Steven will have to do the shots in my butt again – not ideal, but again… I’ll do anything I have to do to make this family that I dream of every single day.
Osteopath – Blair Dunbar, https://www.dunbarosteopathy.ca
Acupuncture – Martin Perras, https://www.oaktreehealth.ca
Naturopath – Dr. Rachel Corradetti-Sargeant, https://conceivehealth.com/fertility-clinic-niagara/
Smile, sweat & chase the sunshine.