29 October 2013

Cycle 3: Day 16

So my collection was this morning and I got 3 mature eggs that were able to be frozen.

This is not the ending that I was hoping for, for this particular journey or this final cycle.  That brings the grand total of three rounds of egg freezing to 13 frozen eggs.  Which is what many women (with two ovaries) get from their first and sometimes only cycle.

I hasten to add that I don't in any way regret that I've done this.  Just that I am a bit sad about the results.  As I think I mentioned in my last post, the odds of a live baby from 13 eggs seems maybe not so great.  Of course there is no way to know that until I actually go to use the eggs.  And even if I had 20 eggs there might not be a baby at the end of it. 

It is what it is.  I'm 39.  It's little bit late.  It would have made no sense to wait longer, although I do wish I had known about this, or done it sooner, these are things you can't change.  So I worked with what I had, and so far this is what I've got.  Which may actually be plenty or it may not at all.

I suppose I just don't have as much confidence as I would like.  But as I say, that's a false hope anyway.

Everything towards the end of the cycle went easily and well.  No problems with any of the injections.  All was easy and simple at the clinic this morning.  I don't have any pain or discomfort at the moment, though I might have a bit of cramping when everything wears off.

I have a counseling appointment in 2 weeks time and I think I'll schedule a follow up to talk through things like, when can I go back on birth control, and talk a bit about future pregnancy and timelines and things like that.  The counseling appointment will probably be a good thing.  The follow up appointment is a necessary thing, and I'll be annoyed, as usual, that I'll have to pay for it.  But it's definitely weird to me to just leave things like this now.  Especially when I have a number of questions.

When that's complete I'll also do a final cost tally.

And I'll probably prepare some final (or final for now) thoughts on this process overall.  I think doing it right now however, probably isn't the best idea.

24 October 2013

Cycle 3: Day 11

Had my last scan of this cycle this morning.  Retrieval is scheduled for Tuesday.  This means I'll be taking my trigger shot Sunday night which will be day 14.  This is identical to my last cycle, and one day ahead of my first cycle.

This morning I woke up with a horrible lower back pain on the side of my ovary.  I'm sure the enlarged ovary isn't helping any because I also feel pretty bloated in the stomach now, but the truth is, I get my fair share of lower back pain so I wasn't overly alarmed.  I was annoyed though because what I usually do when I have this pain is some yoga stretching which is mostly spinal twisting.  Given that twisting is a big no-no with an enlarged ovary, I've been suffering back pain all day now.  It's not very nice.  And of course I can't take any pain killers either.  Ugh.

Saw the director of the clinic again this time as my normal doctor was fully booked.  I've seen him once already this cycle so I didn't mind too much, although I would probably prefer to see the same doctor throughout.  He had a good look and measure of the follicles and the ovary (I think because I also mentioned the back pain).  Apparently everything is growing at pretty much an identical pace to the previous cycles so I suppose it's good that I'm reasonably reliable.

He counted six good sized follicles with a couple more behind, so that was good.  I was watching the scan as he looked and it was difficult to tell sometimes where one started and another stopped.  When they are side by side it's easy, but when they're on top of each other it's not as clear.  At any rate, it looks like I have a bit more follicles than last cycle, although obviously they may not all contain eggs.  I also have three more days of stimulating.  So hopefully it will all go as previous and I get a reasonable number of eggs.

So having the retrieval day, my next order of business was to find someone to collect me from the clinic.  I still think this is one of the more demoralizing aspects to egg freezing.  My collection is on a Tuesday morning.  So I have to ask someone to take off work to meet me.  I don't have a partner where it would sort of be their obligation.  It's not always easy.  I've was pretty lucky the first two cycles but this one wasn't so easy.  I had to call and email a few people before I finally found someone who could do it.  I had talked to the receptionist about if I really couldn't find anyone and I did have a back-up plan to take a taxi home.  It would have worked out either way, but I guess what I'm saying is, it's not nice to feel alone in the midst of this.  It's just one more thing you don't really need.

Anyway, it's sorted.

And I'm probably particularly feeling grumpy because of the hormones.  I can tell that I'm definitely grumpy!

I have enough drugs to see me through so that was all good.  I'll end up with one 225 dose of Gonal-F left in the pen but that means I completely saved money by buying the drugs externally.  The only thing I had to get from the clinic was the Voltarol suppository, but they give me that for free, so not a problem.  Only four more days of injections left!  I'm actually pretty excited that this is almost over!

In other news mulling over in my head, over on the eggsurance forum there has been a woman posting about how she tried to use her frozen eggs.  I'm not sure of all the details, but it seems like she had 9 frozen eggs in total, it resulted in two embryos, both of which she implanted, but both of which were miscarried recently.  That was a bit depressing to hear.  I know there are a lot of factors that go into all of this and you can't really compare yourself to one person on a forum, but I'm just conscious that I'm not going to end up with that much many more eggs than she had.  I guess it's important to remember that none of this is any sort of guarantee.

It's not worth thinking about it too much.  I feel bad for the woman.  There are other options, and I hope she feels satisfied that she did what she could, but it's definitely a blow.


Unless something remarkable happens between now and retrieval, I'll next write to say how it all went.  I have an acupuncture appointment on Saturday which I'm oddly looking forward to.  You'd think I'd be fed up with needles by now!!

21 October 2013

Cycle 3: Day 8

Had my scan this morning.  Nothing eventful to report as it all seems to be very routine now.  The doctor measured 5 follicles which are 'growing' and 3 that are 'just behind'.  I've also now dropped from 300 Gonal-F to 225 and will stay on the lower dose.

I'll be honest.  The numbers are slightly disappointing at this stage.  As I got 6 eggs from my first cycle and 4 from my second, even though I've been on a higher dose of drugs, this cycle seems to be smack in the middle so far, and that's assuming I get an egg out of every follicle.  I was definitely hoping for more.  But we're still only about halfway.

That's the other thing- the doctor had said that due to the higher drug dose, the cycle might be shorter.  But at the moment it looks like it's going to be just about the same amount of days.  So I have another seven days to go give or take.

It is times like this where I do get a bit frustrated that I am not convinced that the UK clinics are using the best drugs or the best protocols or doing everything they can.  On the eggsurance forum, most of the women are from the States and it's like we're doing completely different things.  Part of me wonders if I wouldn't be getting more eggs on a different regime.  But as per usual, this sort of thinking is vaguely pointless.  I have to remember that my clinic has some of the highest pregnancy and live birth results in the UK and not because they're selective and turn anyone away.  Newer stuff and more tests isn't necessarily better.  But I am used to a system of having more information and more discussion.  That doesn't mean it's actually more useful, it might just mean I feel differently about everything.

But I go back to this all being a stressful process (and 7 days of hormone injections later, it's not entirely surprising I'm starting to feel a bit anxious).  There are so many unknowns about what I'm doing that it makes me desperate for some small inkling of certainty.  And I'm just not going to get it.  Who knows if these eggs will fertilize?  Who knows if I will ever be in a position to fertilize them?!  There's just a lot of questions that I can't answer at this stage.

Oh, and I should also say that since I have a dermoid cyst on my ovary, it's probably not at top form either.  Every time I see the cyst on the scan it just annoys me.  Who knows how it affects that side of my ovary on which it lives parasitically?  So really, I'm not complaining.  Or, I am complaining, but I'm more complaining about the unfairness of life, the fact that I find myself in this position at all, and that life hasn't turned out the way I thought it would.

As far as the cycle goes, really, everything is fine so far.

17 October 2013

Cycle 3: Day 4

Had my scan this morning.  There was a fuck up at the clinic- as my appointment was just not on the system.  I showed up, but they didn't have me down and of course the doctors were fully booked.  I had scheduled a counseling appointment for after my scan, so I had that and then the clinic director (not my normal doctor) saw me.  So it was okay in the end, although I would have preferred to see my regular doctor, there are only 3 doctors and I always see a doctor so it's not that big a deal.  I suppose it's just good luck though that I'm a full time student and could waste my entire morning instead of being done by 10:30 like I'd planned.

So scan reporting first.  The doctor saw 7-8 follicles, they're all still small, only about 6.5mm.  He's keeping me on the 300 Gonal-F for three more days and then I drop down to 225.  My next scan is on Monday.  I also start adding the Cetrotide tonight.  Got to keep hold those little growing eggs!  So really nothing else to discuss about the scan.  All is regular.  Continue on course.

The counseling session was interesting.  I really think it's something I should have done during my first cycle.  I did a lot of thinking and working through stuff on my own (some of it's on here).  So this was a bit more like me reporting to someone else about the process I feel I've gone through.  You know- first having to face up to the whole children issue when I always thought it would vaguely 'happen some day' and suddenly realizing that 'some day' was really on a very limited time scale.  Then having to process what it might mean if I don't find a partner in the next couple of years and whether or not I'd be willing to have a child on my own (I would).  Of course that comes with no small amount of sadness and guilt and stress.  I also talked about how coming to these decisions has changed my view of the future about things like what job I want to take after I finish the PhD as I am thinking about things like maternity cover.

I've made another appointment to see her after this cycle finishes and when I put this egg freezing chapter of my life to bed for now.  So I will report back on how that goes.  Overall though, I thought it was really good to talk to someone, I just feel a bit dense for not doing it sooner.

15 October 2013

Cycle 3: Day 2

So I did my first injection last night and it was sort of surreal.  In many ways I feel very unprepared for this cycle, although I'm not really.  I'm just so incredibly stressed right now and I seem to have so many things going on.  Then I'm adding the egg freezing on top of everything else.  The injection was fine though, no problem.  I did read through the little instruction book though just to make sure I remembered everything I'm supposed to do!  Although how hard is it to wipe with sterile pad, screw on needle, turn dial to 300, pinch, inject, hold for 10 seconds, release! 

My next scan is on Thursday to see how they are growing.  I have also arranged a counseling appointment for Thursday.  I should have done this sooner but due to the above mentioned stress, it's just been one more thing on my to do list that slipped.  Never mind.  I've managed to arrange it now for just after my scan so we'll see how that goes.

Part of me wonders if my current stress levels haven't been exacerbated by my hormone injection last night.  Although honestly, I'm sure this is not the case and I'm actually just stressed but I feel particularly 'not with it' today.  Who knows.  It doesn't really matter!  It's all systems go now.  I hope we see a good number of follicles on Thursday...

13 October 2013

Cycle 3: Day 0

My period has arrived this morning so tomorrow will be my first shot of my third and last cycle.  I don't know if it's due to the acupuncture or the natural fluctuations of life, but my period seems heavier and a brighter red.  I swear I've never had much interest in the qualities of my period.  Getting all involved in your fertility does strange things to you!

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday for my pre-cycle scan.  Everything looks okay.  There were 7 good follicles on my ovary.  My cyst looks to be about the same size.  I asked if the seven we were looking at were what we had to work with for this cycle.  The doctors said that some of them will go away, but some smaller ones will emerge and it's a good start.  I think it's similar to the past two cycles, so that's okay.

So tomorrow I'm on 300 Gonal-F and on day 4 I add the Cetrotide.  I'm also going to schedule my next scan for day 4 so that's Thursday.  As we are changing the drug dose this cycle, it may need to be more closely monitored.  The doctor said he might reduce it ond ay 4 or might keep it the same, so we'll see what happens.

I also paid for this cycle which really hurt the bank balance but it is what it is.  When I was paying, I again flagged the issue of the 'follow-up appointment' charge, as I've now been charged twice for it.  This time, she went to speak to the clinic director who said that it is definitely not included.  So I told her that I thought this was really unreasonable.  She said the only time they do a 'free' appointment is in the case of a failed IVF cycle.  But I argued that in that case, firstly, the couple comes in one more time after the retrieval so gets to speak to the doctor, and isn't all drugged up and also secondly, as I knew I was going to do at least two cycles, it was fairly obvious that there was a mandatory 'in between appointment' and it was shit to be charged for it.  She said she would raise it at the next internal meeting, in the meantime however, I'm out the extra money.  I mean fine, in the grand scheme of things it's a small proportion of the money, but I'd rather they bump the overall fee by 100 pounds and then include it then dump it on you like that.  It's annoying.  And what you don't want to be, in an emotional and hormonally charged process, is annoyed by things that seem really stupid.

I also learned that my clinic has been bought by/has joined a larger network of IVF clinics in the UK.  I'm not sure it makes any sort of difference as it seems more of a higher level management issue and each clinic seems to be independently run.  But I suppose it can't be a bad thing in the long run, particularly if in a couple years time I'm not in London but somewhere else in the UK, it might be easier to use a local related clinic then go back down to London but that's a long way away to be thinking about.  I suppose although it's interesting, it really doesn't seem to impact me at all.

The other thing I'm looking forward to now that this cycle is starting is getting my fridge space back!  This is more for my non-UK/European visitors but having had my drug delivery a couple of weeks ago, it's put a serious limit on my fridge space!  I have a flatmate, and she gets the bottom half of the fridge, so as you can see from the picture, space has been a little tight!

Anyway, that's all the news from here.  I'll keep things updated as this cycle goes.