Hold on to Your Hats…

Here I am in Cape Town again! Back at the Vineyard Hotel and relaxing my ass off.

I’ll just recap for those who aren’t up to date with this cycle (or can’t be bothered reading back over 3 years of my writing)…. this is donor cycle #4 for us. In 2014 after 6 of our own egg cycles including a miscarriage we decided to use donor eggs in South Africa (Cape Town specifically) first cycle was a positive and he had our lovely daughter (she’s now 2). Since then in 2015 I returned for a FET with the remaining 2 embryos from her cycle – 1 didn’t thaw (it was a pre-blastocycst so I’m not sure why it was frozen anyway) and the other 3AB didn’t take.  Later in 2015 we used a new donor and I stupidly went for an unproven donor who had never been pregnant herself.  From go to woah the cycle was a bit average – 7 eggs, 4 fertilised, 2x3ABs transferred and 2 x 3AB’s frozen.  I also found this donor online (it’s supposed to be anonymous) but she put a pretty unique professional role title  on her profile so I googled that + “Cape Town” and she came up  – and through out our cycle in pretty much every photo she had a beer in her hand. So I asked the clinic for follow up information on how her ongoing cycles had gone for other couples  (hey it could just have been me!) and the results weren’t good, out of two more cycles she did no one got pregnant.  She herself also stated she was in a long term relationship not using protection and had never been pregnant.  So I totally went off the idea of going back for those embryos.  I was ruthless in my search for a new donor (my daughter’s donor agreed to donate again and then got pregnant herself in the interim) only someone who had donated before, had good numbers and resulting pregnancies for recipients, and I found someone who fit the bill, she also sounded nice.

During my daughter’s cycle my husband left and extra sperm sample over here –  “I’ve got jizz all over the world!” so we are using that sample and I’m over here solo cutting down travel time to a pretty minimal time frame of 5 days in Cape Town for a fresh cycle when they generally like you here for 12 days.

Pros of this approach:

  • I’m not paying for another 7 nights accommodation, meals etc.
  • If for some reason there’s an issue with fertilisation or egg collection I still have time to cancel flights / accommodation re-assess – when you’re over here and things go pearshaped the stress is enormous

Cons of this approach

  • You feel even more detached than normal to your cycle.
  • You’re paying for extra scans etc. in your home country and get no discount from the SA clinic for not doing scans with them

I have to say it’s been a pretty good cycle so far aside from one point – and if the clinic happen to trawl the internet for information on themselves then please take this feedback on board.

My doctor was on leave while my donor was stimming and another doctor was filling in for him. So maybe let your patients know that  you’re not going to be there for part of the cycle (same went for my nurse/coordinator she was off on leave during my cycle and I had no clue this was happening) to get right in the thick of things for a cycle and to send an email and get a bounce back from your doctor and then your nurse saying you’re both on holiday is pretty annoying.

But hey I can deal with that, my doctor would be back for my transfer day.  I’m then assured by the filling doctor that I’ll get an update on how egg collection went on the day (my night) I wait up all night for an email, I don’t want to be rude or pushy even though my now unmedicated anxiety is going into overdrive,  so I wait and wait until 4pm Cape Town time and send an email query if it went ok, or even if it went ahead because at this point I have no freaking idea and I’m leaving in 24 hours. No email comes in so I’m in a panic, was it bad news? Did she not turn up? Did she not trigger correctly? Who the fuck knows?  Not me that’s for sure, I’m just the chump at the other end paying the money!

I was livid at this fill in doctor that no update came through as promised on the day of egg collection. I mean, let’s face it, it’s just one of the biggest parts of how a cycle pans out. Egg collection/fertilisation (which I also requested an email outlining so I could know what I was dealing with on the flight over) and pregnancy test… the Big 3 of any IVF cycle.  And fuck you very much fill in doctor you failed one of the big 3.  So it’s Saturday and I email the donor agency I used to see if at least it went ahead, she confirmed thankfully that it did so that I could take comfort that the cycle was still going ahead.  So I wait until the next day and call the lab directly for results of how egg collection went.

So far this has been our best cycle yet – 20 eggs collected, yes 20! 19 fertilised normally, yes 19! I’ve never had a cycle like this ever – and you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop, gotta make it to day 3 and see the impact of the sperm… day 3 is generally where you’ll see a bit of a drop off in numbers if the sperms a bit iffy. That day was yesterday and not only were 19 still where they needed to be, the 20th rallied and is back in the game. 20 freaking embryos…

So I am bumming around Cape Town waiting for my transfer tomorrow – wallowing in ‘me time’ as only someone with a 2 year old can.  I’ve had my hair coloured, a foot massage, manicure, been waxed, having a pedi and massage later today and all systems are go for a day 5 transfer on Wed lunch time (thankfully with my own Doctor) and be peeing on sticks by  Thursday night (hey at least I’m honest – although I did limit myself to 2 when packing as testing at 3dp5dt is pretty pointless as we all know…right? Right?

 

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Lining Scan

So part of the ‘luxury’ of doing the majority of my cycle from home and doing a ‘FIFO’ transfer in Cape Town is that my lining scan is done here. Normally at this point of the cycle I would need to be in Cape Town but to save costs I’m going at the last minute and leaving on Sunday morning to be in Cape Town for day 3 for any embryos which is this Monday.

Our donor will (hopefully) have egg retrieval this Friday – I hope to get an update today on how she is tracking and the go ahead for me to stop Synarel (looking forward to that 4 bottles later!) and start Gestone (not looking forward to that), I’m assuming she’ll have a scan today as she’ll need to trigger tonight if EPU is Friday. I’m getting antsy about updates now.

I’m so tired at the moment, yet completely wired on all the medications that insomnia is kicking in in full force every night no matter how tired I am. I also think it’s pre-cycle anxiety as well and a toddler who is waking during the night with molars breaking through. I bought some phenergan to get me through tonight, I just need one good chunk of sleep, work has been hellish to get through due to how foggy headed I’m feeling. I’m completely off my anxiety meds and now on 20 mgs of Prednisolone  which is making me slightly ragey, but knowing I have 2 weeks off work as of Friday lunchtime is helping to get me through!

So I can tick one hurdle off the list and that is my lining scan. I’m currently sitting at 8.5mm the tech said… “almost 9.5 but I’m going to be conservative”. I’m ok with that, I still potentially have a week until my transfer so it will continue to grow a bit and was just on triple stripe now… and every girl wants a triple striped uterus don’t they?

In my positive skew for this cycle, everything has been a ‘last hurrah’ for all the things I might be giving up as of next week, pâté, triple cream brie (to go with my triple striped uterus no doubt), smoked salmon, my dear, dear Pinot Noir and icy cold ciders on a summer afternoon. Hopefully I will need to bid these things adieu for a a few months so I’m savouring the moment(s) like only a woman who has been pregnant before can.

I’ve stocked up our freezer with homemade meals too – because last time I was up the duff I could not face cooking at all (which is so un-me) so at least the family will have a chance of survival.

All I need now is an update from the Dr in Cape Town…

 

 

 

Once More Into the Breach Dear Friends…

Here we go again. Cycle number 9 or 10… I can’t remember and I can’t be bothered thinking it through. I know it will be donor egg cycle #4 though and I am feeling surprisingly positive for someone who is not going around this block the first time.

I have a good feeling. I’m relaxed, I’m ready… I’m optimistic. I’m going in with the best chance I’ve had in a long time I think.  Young donor whose AMH came back as ‘excessive response’,  good past donations, pregnancies from previous donations, a 2 month break between her last cycle and ours.

I’ve lost 31kgs had a D&C /Hysteroscopy last weekend so I’m all cleaned out and ready to go. I’m down regulated, had a good period before starting my meds a few weeks ago… start my estrogen, clexane and prednisolone on Monday and away we go.

My flights are booked – out on the 15th, EPU scheduled for the 13th (our sperm is already there)  so I know before I get on the plane how many eggs we are dealing with and hopefully a fertilisation report, day 3 is 16th Jan and I arrive in the night before , hopefully I’ll have a couple of days to relax have a glass of wine or two, have some great South African food, swim in the hotel pool and prepare for a day 5 transfer on the 18th, fly home on the 21st (Premium Economy thank god!). This just feels right! And if it’s not right, I’m actually (for once) ok with that outcome.

Option 2

I went with option 2 – new donor, fresh cycle … freakin’ ruthless in selection.  She’s yet to be screened but has has 3 previous donations and they have all been successful with good egg numbers 2/3 cycles have resulted in pregnancies, the other they had a lot of frozen embryos to go back for.  She’s 25, a non smoker, sounds interesting, looks nothing like me but I don’t care.  So I await her blood test results and hope that I get my treatment plan by the end of this month… I really hope I do as I was naughty and booked my flights already. Damned if I’m going to sit around and watch fares go up (and even managed to nab a premium economy seat for the return long haul flight on sale).. she was cycling for another couple last month and has to rest a couple of weeks after the cycle before doing her blood tests/scans.  Whatever will be will be … I can’t believe I’m pretty unflappable with this cycle so far, might help that I’m now on anti anxiety meds.. things that would have sent me into a tail spin on any other cycle just kinda mildly annoys me this time around. I’ve had a few health issues too which seem to have resolved, but for a while there I thought I didn’t have any business even thinking about another baby… but all my tests and scans are clear and I’m feeling much much better so I’m back on track now.  Just have to get through this silly season and then I’ll be away before I know it.

Expect the Unexpected

Our donor got pregnant. How very dare she! I won’t lie, I was a mess for a good 2-3 days after getting that news early last week. So much rides on a donor cycle, it’s not just the cycle outcome, it’s your career, your next steps as a family, it’s the size of the house you’re looking to move into next – it’s all of that. So all that flashes before your eyes when something changes – this time it also effects my daughter, she won’t have a full genetic sibling and for that I’m really sorry. So after the tears stopped about 3 days later I realised we have three options moving forward.

  1. Use our 2 x 3AB blastocycsts from our cycle last year with our second donor
  2. Do another full fresh cycle with a new donor (proven only – I’d be freakin’ ruthless)
  3. Call it a day and be happy with our lot.

My hesitation with option 1 is that out of 3 transfers (and 6 embryos) no recipient has seen a positive result myself included with that donor, for me that doesn’t bode well. I just have a feeling we’ll be spending good money after bad with that option. Add to this, she’s been in a committed relationship for 5 years not using contraception and has never had a ‘whoops’ moment of pregnancy and I’m suspicious about egg quality. Also we would only transfer 1 embryo at a time (we don’t want twins) with each FET costing us $4-5k when you multiply that by two trips potentially we are almost at the cost of new fresh cycle.  Also we were going to pay for a fresh/full cycle with my daughters donor (this is my reasoning to my husband) so it’s not like we hadn’t budgeted those costs into our lives already.

I really don’t know… I’m so sick of bleeding money over this. Sick of thinking about protocols, jabbing clexane and all the rest. I just want to blink and it be BT day. I’ve done this so.many.freakin.times ….

Tell me in the comments guys … what would you do?

 

Back on the Horse

I had an appointment with my fertility specialist yesterday – I went back to see Marie Claire fertility specialist because at least I can talk to her about the protocol, contraindications of the medications I’m on etc. and she will give me advice and feedback. My alternate fertility specialist I saw for the last cycle would say ‘you need to ask your doctor in Cape Town’, which was very unhelpful at the end of the day as their protocol is so base level with no immune protocol advice at all. So I switched back to my celebrity specialist.  I know seems a bit early to get the ball rolling for a January cycle, but she’s really hard to get an appointment with so nothing can be done on the fly with her so I want to be organised.

I came away from the appointment feeling really good. The last time I went to see her I felt rushed in the appointment (didn’t help that I had a screaming 6 month old in the room as well) and disorganised – this time we quickly chatted about how to improve my chances, so we’ll be doing a baseline scan for CT in October, a  hysteroscopy and D&C in mid December (so no need for a scratch!) intralipids a week before transfer (and another after a positive result in CT … fingers crossed), she advised not to worry about doing PGD on any fresh embryos but if there were enough to freeze maybe consider doing day 5 testing on them before freezing depending on how many we got. I’m doing all my lining scans in Australia and spending the minimum time possible in Cape Town.

I’ll double check in late Oct that our donor is still on board before I get any procedures done – we won’t do a cycle if it’s not with her. I’m very willing to turn my back on all of this and won’t entertain the idea of another donor so there’s no point doing procedures or tests if she backs out (please don’t back out!).  I’ve put in for my annual leave even though we don’t have dates… I’m just shooting in the dark here at a reasonable mid January date trying to be organised! We do have the luxury of having frozen sperm in Cape Town though so have the option to move things around slightly if need be.

We’ll be doing my standard immune protocol that I’ve always done, doxycycaline, clexane daily, prednisolone along with the standard Cape Town protocol of progynova and introducing gestone later.  She told me to start Synarel on day 21 of my November cycle (which is a bit different to what Cape Town will tell me) and then to have a blood test about 10 days past that to check I’m down regulated, I’ll think about this more as the cycle grows closer and also see how my natural cycles are looking as I can’t take the pill to regulate things. I had terribly irregular cycles last year when we were doing our last round like up to 50-60 days. Since then I’ve lost close to 30kgs and they are getting much shorter (last cycle was 27 days and average at this point is 32) but it remains to be seen if that’s a pattern or a one off occurrence.

I’m seeing her again in November just to see things are on track and that everything is looking good ahead of kicking off the cycle- so I’m feeling much more ‘monitored’ already which in turn is making me feel more positive.

In other news I have found out in the last few weeks that I have another super rare autoimmune disease called Lichen Sclerosus (it effects the vulva yay!) and have to have surgery on my bits this Monday as a result to remove tissue that looks dodgy and could potentially become pre-cancerous. I swear I’m becoming more and more glad that I used a donor egg so none of these mostly hereditary things will be passed on to my daughter – I tell her she’s dodged a bullet not having my genes, but she doesn’t quite understand yet.  Anyway that’s two weeks off work as the surgeon said ‘most people can’t walk for a week or two after this procedure’ … yeah really looking forward to this one. I plan on being in an Endone haze for 7 days and then surfacing to see how things are feeling down there.. I don’t think I’ll dare to look for a while though.  Oh and just on that… I thought I’d done most things in my time doing IVF/ DE/ having a baby, but until you’ve seen your hoo ha up on a big screen with a gynaecologist using a camera with a magnifier on it, you haven’t done it all. Sweet Jesus I had to look away!

On that note, I’ll leave you for today. Glad to be back blogging!

Never Say Never

We are going again. E’s donor has agreed to donate to us in Jan so hold on to your hats, I’ll be back on this crazy roller coaster again soon enough.