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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Parsons, MD

My IVF Journey - Round 2

Updated: Apr 25, 2018

I already shared with you the start of my IVF journey and how I became the 1%. If you didn’t read it yet, look back at my post. So here goes part two:

After my beta quant (a blood test that gives a numerical measurement of pregnancy) was finally down to zero, we went back to the doctor. I chose to see the same young, blonde female doctor who had broken the bad news of my ectopic to me. She walked in the office and immediately hugged me. “You deserve a hug after everything you’ve been through,” she said to me. I laughed in agreement. It’s rare to get a hug from a doctor, as a patient, but it was very welcomed at that moment. We asked her our questions, the biggest being when we could try again. And from there, we formulated a plan – for February. She recommended following the keto diet and suggested I try acupuncture.

So I started on the keto diet, before Christmas, knowing I would be sacrificing my mother’s homemade holiday cookies. Cookies or a baby? Clearly, having a baby won that. I increased my fat intake tremendously, and initially felt disgusted by what I was eating. (Now I have gotten used to it and I really love it. I've been losing weight and feeling satiated.) I temporarily cancelled my crossfit membership - soul-crushing. I cut down even more on my caffeine – which for me on a night shift, is a rare form of torture

I started my injections and my acupuncture. Acupuncture was like adult nap time for me. The first day she told me to quiet my mind and not to think about my to do list. Really – you’re going to tell a type A woman who lives to cross things off her to do list not to think and then leave her alone in a room. That first session was like torture, but as I kept going back, I quickly found I could relax and even sleep during my sessions. I worked on my deep breathing, my mindfulness. I worked on relaxing – a foreign concept to me.

So we went in for our first US and my follicles were small. Smaller than my first round. I had a repeat US days later, and still, they were not growing as expected. My retrieval date got pushed back by days, which meant my transfer date was going to be pushed back. I had to swap out of shifts with my colleagues at work. I just kept telling myself that after everything we went through last round, this had to go better. But my mind worried constantly. I blamed myself. What if this was because I ordered my drugs from Europe. They were still FDA approved. They were the same brand, same packaging. But maybe this was my fault for trying to save over two-thousand dollars on drugs. What if I was running out of eggs? My mind is strong, stubborn and very good at the downward spiral.

We ended up having my retrieval date get pushed back so many days that I ran out of meds. The doctor luckily had some samples and gave me doses, but my last night of meds, at 7:30 on a Sunday when I went to do my injection, I realized I had forgotten to tell them I needed another dose of Cetrotide (the drug that prevents my follicles from rupturing). That drug was crucial. My husband was at the fire station. I went into panic mode. I called my nurse. I texted my doctor. I’m the idiot who can’t take their meds responsibly. I’m a DOCTOR and I cannot take my medications! My nurse met me at the clinic to give me another dose of meds – she was on the way to dinner with her husband when I interrupted. There was just NOTHING that wanted to go smoothly in this round.

So then we go in for my egg retrieval. My first round- it was done in a surgery center under procedural sedation. So we showed up to the surgery center (in the first floor of my doctor’s office). We were there as soon as they opend at 6:30. I put my name on the list. After a few minutes, they called me up. “I’m sorry Melissa. We don’t have you on the schedule for today,” the man at the front desk told me. “What do you mean? I’m supposed to have my retrieval today. At 8am.” I was beginning to panic. He directed me to the third floor. My doctor’s office is on the second floor, but he told me they do procedures on the third floor. So I went up to the third floor. There was no one at the front desk, but there was a light on in the back. I called out a few times without answer. I headed down the stairs and stopped at the 2nd floor hoping someone will be there. Sure enough, I found the office open, lights on and staff waiting for me. Thank God. I put on my gown and hospital socks, ready for this procedure. I was trying to be positive. My procedure had gotten delayed. So much had gone wrong already. This was going to go right. I gave my husband a kiss goodbye and headed to the procedure room. Let’s take these eggs!

I came out of sedation to see my husband at my bedside. Dr. Gary, our embryologist came in once I was more awake. He informed me that we got 7 eggs. I tried to hide the tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes. I tried to smile. I tried to be positive. But seven eggs was less than last time. The keto diet, the lack of Christmas cookies and wine, the acupuncture, the lack of heavy lifing and crossfit – none of it had made a difference. I made it to the car before I ugly-cried. And boy did I ugly-cry. I pulled myself together by the time I got home, and worked to get positive again. This was going to be fine. It was going to work!

The next day, I went to the hospital for some meetings. I had been at home for days already, since my procedure was supposed to be days earlier. I needed to feel accomplished again. To get my mind off of eggs. I was sitting at my desk in my hospital office when my cell phone rang. It was Dr. Gary. Only 3 embryo’s had fertilized. The downward spiral began again. For the first time, I realized I could have NO embryos to implant. I ugly-cried at the hospital. This is not a common occurrence for me. I cancelled my meetings and headed home. On my way out of the hospital, one of my mentors saw my face and stopped me. I explained what had happened, and in her most concerning and caring manner, she told me to have faith. And then the dreaded line, “You only need one!” IVF has taught me that you don’t only need one. I already had two embryos – and no babies. There was nothing reassuring about the idea that I only needed one. I might NOT even get ONE!!! I made it out of the hospital and called my husband. I told him to meet me at the house STAT cause we needed to be on the water. We went fishing – and cried, prayed and held each other, hoping that things would work out the way we wanted.

I don’t know what you believe, but I believe in God and the bible. Through this process, I prayed. I read every biblical story about infertile women – Hannah, Sarah and many others. And I didn’t pray for a baby, but I prayed that God would have his way, that he would carry out his plan for my life, even if that DIDN’T include a child. Not the easiest prayer to say when you’re desperately wanting to be pregnant. But I did it.

So finally, five days later, we were headed in for our transfer. Round one, we were excited and naïve, thinking we were going to “put a pumpkin in my belly.” This time, we were nervous. We had been through the process. We knew it. We didn’t take pictures. My husband wasn’t even home that morning. A girlfriend took me to my acupuncture appointment and James met me there from the fire station. We went to the doctor together. I told my nurse that I just hoped I had two embryos. Within a minute of me saying that aloud, Dr. Gary came in and told me I only had one. The tears slid out again. Dr. Gary seems to have that effect on me. We put the only embryo we had in. And I laid still for 30 minutes on the examination table, crying and praying that this one embryo would be all I needed.

I called my dad on the way home and he told me not to worry. We were definitely going to get pregnant with a boy this time. He knew, because he had won a blue kids fishing rod at his CCA banquet. I laughed in between the tears.

We waited those long 9 days. Well actually 8. I got home from a shift at midnight the night of day 7/ the morning of day 8. I got tired of waiting. I took a home pregnancy test. James was at the fire station. I was alone. And I wanted to deal with my emotions alone. He had already been through so much. So I took it. And it was negative. I cried myself to sleep that night. I woke up the next morning and tried again. Still negative. James got home from the station and we spent the day in bed, crying and being sad together. It is the most we have grieved throughout the entire process. I took a third test, which was still negative that evening. And I emailed my nurse to set up an appointment with my doctor to follow up to plan out what comes next. I went and had my blood drawn the next day. But I knew it would be negative. And it was.

One embryo was not enough. Plan B was not enough. Now we’re on to Plan C, laparascopic surgery to look for endometriosis. I’m continuing my keto diet and the acupuncture. I’m adding back my CrossFit workouts, because I think that is the most rejuvenating part of my day sometimes. And we’re headed to Costa Rica to emotionally recover with some sunshine, saltwater and fishing.

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