IVF approved Workout Part 2

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • Women who are in IVF and are told to do low impact exercises while on a cycle
  • Women who overstimulate but want to workout leading up to a retrieval

WARNIG: I am not a doctor.  The advice I am providing is from my own experience. You must listen to your body and do what is right for your treatment.  Of course consult your doctor before participating in any of the exercises, if they give you the go-ahead, indulge and enjoy!

I wrote about working out a while back, check it out HERE. What makes me qualified to chat about workouts? I am a 200 RYT yoga instructor but more importantly, I am a work out nut. Prior to IVF I went hard, really hard with HIIT workouts. That unfortunately has changed over the past 1.5 years because of IVF and a big ol’ broken big toe. Speaking of which, I learned yesterday that I may never run again… add that to the file of shit I have been handed as of late. But I digress… the workouts below have a big impact with a few small movements.

This post is focused  on TRX workouts. If you haven’t taken a TRX class, I recommend finding one in your city. Definitely let your instructor know if you can’t do high impact exercise because of doctors orders.  Some classes use jumping (usually with squats) but you could easily modify with regular squats.

If you cant make a class, here are some great circuits to try. I recommend using the app Seconds so that you can have consistent circuits.

resistance-strap-workout-final_0

TRX-Workout

See them in action here: https://www.trxtraining.com/train/exercises

I found a great article on keeping form in the case you can’t get to the class. 

-Annie

Is a failed retrieval the end?

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples who are about to start IVF
  • Couples who have had a failed retrieval

A quick recap, a retrieval is when the doctor removes eggs from your ovaries. You may have this done to retrieve eggs for a later use or use those eggs to create embryos. You can learns the ins and outs of the procedure HERE. This post though is not about the basics and the minutia of a procedure, rather its about what happens if things go wrong. Sadly I can tell you about this experience. I am not a doctor, do not take this as medical advice. Rather, this is post to let you know there is hope and you have some control in this situation.

FEBRUARY 2015

I was scheduled for my first retrieval. I was prepped and ready. I was told things were “perfect” days leading up to it. I went in for surgery with 48 or so follicles. I woke up from surgery and my doctor was sitting in my room. She said she had bad news. I looked at my husband and he confirmed (he was told while I was out). She wasn’t able to retrieve a single egg.

I was in shock, how could this be? It didn’t make ANY sense. She said she hadn’t seen this happen before and told me she was so sorry.

Suffice it to say I was devastated. This was a complete whirlwind going from exploring infertility to IVF to a failed transfer all within 4 months.

We scheduled a meeting with her shortly after to discuss options. She let us know she consulted other doctors because she hadn’t had this happen in the past. She didn’t have a  definitive plan, she did have some ideas though. Her uncertainty made me uneasy, I left and made an appointment for a second opinion.

CHECKING YOUR HORMONES THE DAY BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

We met our new doctor and immediately were compelled to switch. While he was surprised at the outcome, it didn’t stump him. He had a slew of potential reasons and explained in great detail what most likely happened.

He then asked one key question, “Did they check your hormones the day after your trigger shot (day before surgery)?” I let him know that was the ONE day I didn’t go in. He looked perplexed and then explained that this was not standard practice. It IS standard practice to check your hormone level the day before to ensure the trigger worked. If your hormones indicate it didn’t work, no big deal, they will give you another and let you bake a few more days.

I have had 3 incredibly successful retrievals since switching doctors. My doctor has retrieved 72 eggs.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

The switch in doctors taught me how incredibly important timing is for a retrieval. As you prepare for a retrieval it is SO important you understand the timeline so that you can advocate for yourself. It is your body and you should have the ability to make the call as to wether you need your blood taken, etc.

There are many retrievals that fail for other reasons (egg quality and quantity) which are difficult/near impossible to prevent or predict. Timing can be managed. I hope this is helpful as you prepare to talk with your doctor.

-Annie

Spring Trends for that IVF Bodacious Body (Dress Edition)

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women drugged out of their brains and bloated

My newest cocktail of meds is wreaking havoc on my body in a whole new way, YIPPEE! I was switched from Endometrin to Crinone. I have felt like a slug in the past but Crinone comes with a whole new slew of delightful side effects. Headaches, intensive cramping, increased urination, and of course bloating.. these are just the tip of the iceberg. Nothing makes ya feel better about life than your stomach looking 5 months pregnant when you are not.

With spring around the corner and my anxiety in full force, clothes that make me forget I am bloated have been on my mind. Plus, looking at spring clothes is just simply exciting.

I bring to you a few options that will hide whatever is happening to your body and make ya feel fly. The majority of these items were tried on while in full bloat, thus they are bloat approved.

(Click on images to shop the look)

14faf5ece22d6c2a0f0bea6b2b6cb82b

6e1cfd0c3ee007033eaf28ca2d9d5794

uo1

ruche

36717338_049_g

Mayan Uterine/Abdominal Massage

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:
  • Women starting infertility treatments
  • Women who are going to transfer an embryo
  • Women who are doing IUIs
  • Women who are struggling to get pregnant and are trying natural remedies

When I first realized something was wrong, I texted my mom my concern. Her name is “ma” in my phone. Instead of it going to her, the text on accident went to my friend Mary (who is Mexican). The text sparked a conversation and she mentioned Mayan massage. She told me her family members swear by it and have gone to small villages in Mexico whenever there was a fertility issue. Fast forward  to my IVF group and my leader mentions that she went to get a Mayan massage before her successful transfer. It sparked a curiosity in me and I made some moves and got one! Below is the who, what, where, and why of Mayan Abdominal Massage.

WHAT/WHY

Mayan abdominal/uterine massage is an ancient technique that helps move the uterus back into place and increase blood flow. Most women’s uterus is tilted one way or another from all sorts of reasons. The way you stand, how you sleep, injuries… you name it. There is no direct link to a tilted uterus to infertility. The way I see it though, there is no harm in getting things back in line. More than just aligning organs, the massage is supposed to help get blood moving.

In Mayan culture, the uterus is the center of the body and where emotions are kept. This is similar to the eastern cultures and a lot of the Mayan philosophies align to the ancient Chinese thoughts (same stuff talked about in acupuncture).

In addition to the massage the therapist also provided me a number of options to try afterwards. This included: a vaginal steam (yep!), castor oil pack, daily massage routine, and uterine meditation cd. The vaginal steam (which apparently Gwyneth Paltrow is into but with crazy technology) is meant to help clear out any old “junk.” You do this before the transfer. I didn’t have time to do it but it didn’t sound too tough. The castor oil also has to be done before a transfer. Once again, didn’t have time due to travel.

I did however maintain the daily routine. She taught a step-by-step massage. It was super interesting because I now know where my uterus is and how to identify it when pressing my abdomen. After the transfer the routine changes because you don’t want to move the uterus. You do continue a light routine to help blood flow after transfer.

IMG_2171

WHO

There are practitioners who are trained under other folks who have been trained in this form of massage. The massage therapist I worked with lived in South America for a while to learn the technique.

I was incredibly happy with my massage therapist because she offered me the option of an additional half hour to learn the techniques. She sat with me and explained the reasoning and purpose behind each move. She even gave me a massage ball for my neck and glutes!

WHERE

I researched Mayan Uterine Massage and read reviews of different practitioners. Most of the reviews I read mostly talked about the effects the massage had on their bowel movements (another reason people get this massage) but overall it sounded like she was a great listener and was considerate. She was indeed both of those things.

She also gave me follow up documents that included additional things to try. I took each thing with a grain of salt and kept the mindset of, “If it doesn’t hurt, why not try it.”

IMG_2170

 

THE VERDICT

I have no idea if it worked (I guess we can speculate when we the 2WW is over). I do know my lining was great but I could not say definitively it was because of the massage since I was already on my estrogen in preparation for a transfer.  The only “cost” was financial and thus I say go for it. Worse case, you get a great massage and time to chill out.

-Annie

It’s not your fault.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF
  • Supportive friends of folks going through infertility treatments

 

In February 2014 I was a proactive planner, I went to my gyno and let her know we wanted to make a baby. We decided that I would go off the pill in May. I recall the visit so clearly. She said, “I love that you are responsible and are planning. I wish more people did that.” HA!

In June 2014 I didn’t get my period. In July 2014, I didn’t get my period. I went back to my gyno because this was unusual. Before birth control I ALWAYS got my period. I hopped on my bike, road to the office and entered her room. I sat down and let her know what was going on. She pointed towards my helmet and said, “Is this a new thing?” “What riding a bike? No. I have done spin 3 or more times a week for the past two years,” I replied. She scratched her head and explained I might just be exercising too much. In my gut I knew this wasn’t right. My workout routine hadn’t drastically changed in the months leading up to the summer. I knew that me riding a bike a mile wasn’t what was keeping my period. But it was hard not to doubt myself.

Fast forward to September 2014, I still didn’t have my period. I was put in touch with a fertility doctor through a family friend. I hopped on a call with the doctor and she asked me a few preliminary questions. First up, how much do you weigh? At the time I weighed 117 and I am 5’6. There was a long pause, “That’s probably it, you don’t weigh enough. You should gain 5 pounds.” Mind you, she hadn’t seen me, she was purely going on numbers. Also, at the start of summer when I didn’t have my period, I did weigh 5 more pounds. I know my body very well and I know that when I don’t have estrogen in me (which feels AWESOME) I loose weight much quicker and am able to maintain my weight. My weight was a result of my situation, it was not the CAUSE. I got off the phone feeling like it was my fault.

Throughout this process again and again I have been made to feel that my infertility is my fault. Just a few snippets of the “wisdom” thrown my way:

  • “You just need to relax.”
  • “Well if you were just doing XYZ.”
  • “If you just thought about it less.”
  • “When you stop thinking about it, it will happen.”
  • “If you just ate meat, you would get your period.”

There is always an underlying tone of blame. While all of these statements are made with a hint of innocence, the result is shame.

img-thing

Women are made to feel that they SHOULD have control over their fertility. That if we just tweaked this, or did that, this would all go away. If we put women’s health in historical context we can say definitively that women’s bodies are still quite a mystery. This comes from years of not prioritizing women because women were not in positions of power within the medical field. Centuries of biases and misinformation feed into the reasons why women put pressure on themselves.

Turning the voice off in your head that says, “I am doing everything I can and this is not my fault,” becomes increasingly difficult as the meds start being pumped into your body.

I can’t speak for everyone but I know from my experience with friends going through IVF, we are all beating ourselves up… we don’t need another voice telling us what else we could  or should do. My therapist and husband are voices of reason and I am so grateful to them.

I would like to offer some “counter” mantras/bits of wisdom for all of those who struggle keeping the voices at bay. I hope you take them, savor them, hug them, and USE them:

  • From my therapist: ” I have never met ANYONE who wants something so bad and has worked tirelessly for it that wasn’t anxious. That is part of the territory. It has no effect on your ability to become pregnant.”
  • There are thousands upon thousands of vegetarians who have kids. Meat wasn’t what helped them get there. UPDATE: Approximately 31-40% of India is vegetarian. Last I heard they were doing pretty okay with population. In fact word on the street is, they have a lot of people.
  • Emaciated people all over the world have kids, its not your weight.
  • Does everyone who has kids not have any stress? No, its ridiculous to think everyone who got pregnant was cool as a cucumber.
  • From my therapist: “People can handle adversity, but suspended adversity is a whole other beast. It is normal and expected to be angry and anxious.”
  • I am healthy.

It is not our fault. We were dealt a really shitty hand. We did not do anything to cause this.

-Annie

 

IUI 411

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:
  • Couples who starting fertility treatments

Its been a hot minute since I had an IUI. I have met a lot of women recently who are just starting the fertility process and thus I thought it might be helpful to talk about what an IUI is and what to expect during your procedure.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS

IUIs are a piece of cake. I say this now but I know at the time I was a nervous wreck. Although in hindsight, I had a hell of a lot more hope. I thought I would go in, wham-bam and be done with all this. IUIs seem like a breeze now because it was the beginning of it all. I know starting infertility is scary but I promise you, be thankful that you are only doing IUIs. If you get pregnant off of one, you are super lucky.

Now that that’s out of the way, what is an IUI?

IUI: Intrauterine insemination

Before heading down the IVF road, your doctor will make you undergo an IUI (or several). Insurance actually requires this. IUI is non-invasive.  During an IUI the sperm has to find the egg, think its sexy- become an embryo,  and implant. In IVF the job of the sperm finding the egg happens in a petri dish (not your body) and is carefully monitored as the embryo grows, the embryo is then put back in your body to implant. With an IUI everything happens inside of YOU. Its less lab like, only one person stares into your vagina. Like I said, in comparison its a cake walk. HOWEVER its still unfair and not comparable to creating babies the “natural” way.

If you have a limited supply of sperm or don’t react to meds, you will be fast tracked to IVF because the probability of you becoming pregnant off an IUI is 20- 25% (the same as two people just trying at home in their comfy bed (age related of course)— I imagine this is how children are made) and time and resources are precious.

Also, according to AmericanPregancy.org, you will not have an IUI if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Women who have severe disease of the fallopian tubes
  • Women with a history of pelvic infections
  • Women with moderate to severe endometriosis
CHLOMID

funny

To prepare you for your IUI you will be put on the infamous Chlomid or something like it. I have met only one woman in my life who wasn’t affected by Chlomid. Most people complain that it makes your mood insane. I personally didnt have mood issues, I had issues with my brain completely malfunctioning. During this period of my life I: yelled at strangers thinking they were friends, walked into walls, showed up to appointments that didn’t exist, triple booked meetings, etc. On Chlomid my brain was like a mush of cotton candy who flew to Phoenix for winter, it was checked out.

Once you know how you will react you can plan accordingly. Maybe you hold off from being super social for the weeks leading up to it.

DOC APPOINTMENTS

You will have a lot of doctors appointment to check your follicles and lining. Right when they think you are going to ovulate, you will have your procedure. This means you will need to be ready to drop your schedule and make it work. Its a lot of pressure because the sperm has to be perfect which means you will have to have sex on specific days leading up to the procedure. Personally for us it was weird because it completely stripped the romance out of creating a child (once again that notion is now long gone).

DAY OF PROCEDURE

When you arrive you will either have your partner provide a specimen or you will give them some from earlier that morning, or the freezer. They will clean the specimen in a machine for about 40 minutes. Essentially they are removing any extra “junk” so that its the purest sperm going towards your eggs. My recommendation, go get brunch so you aren’t sitting there twiddling your fingers.

Once the sperm is “clean”  you will go into the room for your procedure. There are a lot of jokes about being turkey basted BUT that is essentially what they do. Your nurse will place a catheter into your uterus so that the sperm can meet the eggs. This is not comfortable, shocker!

Recommendation: Have your partner hold your hand. Its the most intimate you will be able to get during this.

Once the sperm is inside of you, you will lay there with your booty in the air for 15 minutes (dreamy, right?!). You will then get dressed and wait for two weeks. Its nerve wracking but in the grand scheme of things, its not too bad 🙂

I will be honest, I can’t remember what the aftercare was like. I do know that I ran a 5K while I was waiting so I don’t think it was a lot.

 

-Annie

 

Accupuncture

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF

I am well versed in acupuncture for two reasons. First, I have regularly gone to acupuncture for 5 years. Secondly, at each appointment I ask a million questions. At this point I know my acupuncturist quite well, thus she knows I need to understand why were doing what we are doing in order to proceed. That being said, I am not a medical professional. Consult your doctor before pursuing acupuncture.

ACUPUNCTURE AND ME

I started going to acupuncture for pelvic floor issues that began when I was 16. I had endometriosis surgery to see if that was the root cause and after years of speculation we learned that I did not have endometriosis. By this point I had every test imaginable done and had been to physical therapy. My gyno threw her hands in the air and declared, “I don’t know what else to do, try acupuncture.” She handed me a card and off I went.

I did intensive treatments for months on end and slowly my pain started to go away. At this point in my life I only have pain right before getting my period and know through my IVF journey that my pain is linked to a fluctuation in hormones. 

When I went off the pill, I immediately let my acupuncturist know that it was baby making time. She started me on a cocktail of herbs and worked to get my body moving. Unfortunately I never got my period. I worked with her for about 4 months before going to a fertility doctor.

Throughout my first year of IVF I went before and after each treatment. At this point I think acupuncture helps to relieve stress with IVF but for me personally I cant say definitively that it helps with my lining or egg production. I don’t have anything to compare to make a conclusion. I do know that during my past two retrievals I did fewer treatments and my results were actually better. This all though is a crap shoot and I can’t really determine where the results come from.

ACCUPUNCTURE AND IVF

Many people pursue acupuncture during IVF for the following:

  • Thicken lining
  • Egg quality/ egg numbers
  • Reduce stress

I cant guarantee the first two will work but acupuncture is great for stress relief. For an hour, you chill out, relax, and may fall asleep. When you are gearing up for a procedure and your mind is racing, this time away from reality is lovely.

Many friends came to the idea of it after their doctor recommends it as a stress reliever. From the research I’ve done and from talking to doctors/acupuncturists, there is no conclusive study that says “YES THIS WORKS!” What we do know is that it doesn’t hurt to try.

WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is a eastern medical practice that uses very thin needles to move energy (qi) throughout your body. The acupuncturist is trained to understand the different points within your body that align to different pathways. They evaluate where you need movement based on the  body types in ancient Chinese medicine. Based on your diagnosis your acupuncturist will select locations to place needles. The needles do not go far into the skin and should not hit a vein or muscle.

2715716_f520

WHAT TO EXPECT

I know acupuncture sounds scary and super hippy dippy. It is not scary but yes it can be hippy dippy at times. Its important to distill what you want from it. Sometimes I am like “yes! This makes logical sense,” and other times I just have to just nod my head and smile.

People are most scared of the needles, here is what you need to know:

  • They are SUPER thin.
  • You don’t feel them.
  • You may feel a weird sensation here and there, acupuncturists chalk that up to the qi moving. 

When you arrive you will go through a series of questions. Your specialist may ask to see your tongue (go with it). They will then asked you to get undressed or remove clothing. You will place blankets over you to cover yourself. You will lay on a table and the acupuncturist will place needles in strategic locations. Ask about the locations they are choosing, it is fascinating!

Once the needles are in, you will lay for a specific amount of time. During my treatments a heat lamp is placed over my belly area to help with blood flow.

I fall asleep during my treatments, it is wonderful. After your treatment is over, your acupuncturist will come in and remove the needles. You shouldn’t have bruises.

Depending on doctors orders and your acupuncturist you may be prescribed herbs. It is super important you ask your doctor first because you don’t want to mess with your cabinet of meds for treatment.

Some insurance companies cover treatment (although this is rare). You can find acupuncture schools where they will discount the fee although if its your first time doing acupuncture I would stay away. Don’t want to add any extra stress. $60-$90 for an hour session seems to be the going rate if you go to a licensed professional.

EASE YOUR MIND

Acupuncture may or may not help. If you think it will, try it out. You have nothing to loose. The way I look at it, rule it out so you can ease your mind. If you know you may say to yourself, “Well If I just tried…” then try it and see how it goes. No harm, no fowl.

-Annie

Finding a Therapist

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF
  • Women going through IVF

I love therapy. I believe everyone needs it because we all have our own shit. The world would be a better place if we were all a little more self reflective and proactive. But I digress!

I have been in therapy for years and along the way have changed therapists depending on what I needed. When I first started IVF I was with a hippy dippy mediative sort of therapist. While this methodology worked for some parts of my life (like family dynamics) it was not serving me well for IVF. After a suggestion from my doctor I switched therapists and it was the best decision I could have made.

I learned there are therapists who specifically focus on IVF. This means they are well versed in the lingo, know how to empathize with you and can help you navigate the process. You don’t spend your hour explaining procedural information, rather you can dive into the emotional wreck you have become.

I know switching can be daunting. It takes forever to build rapport with your therapist and when you have been with someone for a really long time they know the ins and outs of your family. To me IVF is a whole new beast and having someone who really gets it is essential and worth laying the groundwork.

WHY GET A THERAPIST:
  • They can help you sort through your feelings. Having a third party who isn’t on drugs but understands the effects of the drugs on your mental state can be super helpful.
  • IVF is tough on every and any couple. Ive never met a couple who was like “Yes IVF was the sexiest time in our marriage. It was pure joy!” Having someone to help you navigate those dynamics so you can show love to one another will set you up for long term success.
  • Sometimes you need to be put in your place. When I would get crazy about weight or why things weren’t working, my therapist was my voice of reason. She appealed to me with logic and an empathetic tone.
  • ADDED BONUS: If you can find a therapist who has had infertility issues it is even better because she will truly understand your pain. We have many a laughs during my sessions because of this unfortunate commonality.
TIPS FOR LOOKING FOR A THERAPIST:
  • Search for terms like IVF, medical speciality, medical trauma.
  • Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
  • Call your insurance company to see if they have someone in network that specializes in medical trauma or IVF.
  • Call several different therapists for a phone consult to learn about their philosophy. You are the patient and the one with the $$$, you can ask them how they work with their patients, what drives their work, etc.
  • If you dont like the therapist after the first appointment, switch! You need to be comfortable with being you in front of them.
CASH IS TIGHT! I CANT AFFORD THERAPY!
INSURANCE

In Illinois you get the best coverage for IVF with an HMO. HMOs suck for just about everything else including therapy. Through the IVF process I actually learned that 50% of my therapy costs could be reimbursed for out of network therapy. Shockingly this is not advertised. I recommend calling your insurance provider to find out all options before giving up on therapy.

HEALTH CLINIC

In Chicago there is an amazing organization here called the Chicago Women’s Health Center. When I was going through a crisis years ago and was strapped for cash they let me come in for therapy for only $15 a session! They have a sliding scale based on income. If you are fronting your IVF costs I would imagine most amazing non profits for women would consider your costs. Google women’s health clinics in your area and call to see what recommendations they may have.

-Annie

IVF Clinic - "All I want is a womb somewhere"
IVF Clinic – “All I want is a womb somewhere”

Feeling your feelings

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • My infertile friends

This week was tough, there is no ifs, ands, or butts about it. It was tough for myself and my husband and there is nothing we can do about it. All we can do is feel the feelings. Sometimes feeling those feelings is the worst.

Throughout this experience I have thought a lot about struggle. Someone once told me, “You are going through this because its going to make you stronger.” I told this to my lovely therapist who rebutted this comment with, “Annie you’ve struggled enough, this is bullshit. You are already strong, you don’t need this.” Hear hear sister! The fact of the matter is, it is bullshit.

I have been told I need or should be happy for certain people and the reality is, I don’t. I can just be,  I do not need to be anything but how we feel.

So many women going through IVF are in the same boat and I feel their pain, I feel my pain, and I feel my husband’s pain.

But there is nothing I can do. My best friend sent me this except from MyHusbandsBrainTumor and it really resonated with me and I hope it resonates for you:

“Hard things are hard, and while they can someday teach you a lesson or make you a stronger person, they are entirely capable of just beating the everloving shit out of you and leaving you emotionally dead and physically exhausted”

AND
“The cure for grief is not “be not sad” and the cure for anger isn’t “be unagry!” It’s feeling all of the things, even the uncomfortable ones, without judging yourself for them.
Your job, when bad shit happens, is to get through it however you can. It is not your job to make your life more palatable for other people.

The world will go on, despite your despair. And you know what that is? LIFE. And like our gym teachers told us when we got pegged in the face with a kickball, life is unfair.

What our gym teachers did not tell us is that it’s totally okay if you fucking hate that and want to just scream cry in your car sometimes! It’s okay if sometimes you hate your friends for having things you don’t have anymore, and then you hate yourself for hating perfectly nice people who love you, just because their husbands are alive! That’s okay!

You will be happy again (and sad again, and angry again, it’s a process?). You will find glittering moments of joy, and you will learn things, and you will be completely lost and found again, over and over and over.

But you do not have to be good.”

Beautifully said.

So my infertile sisters, today I write in solidarity for your sadness. We are where we are, nothing more, nothing less.

-Annie

Weird Science! Genetic Testing

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF
  • Women in their late 30s and early 40s who are retrieving eggs

Saturday I had my second extraction, almost 2 in exactly one month (off by a day). We decided to batch our eggs because we are PGD (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis) Testing.

IMG_1986

BATCHING: A REFRESHER

I can’t have a fresh transfer (transferring embryos right after a retrieval) because I overstimulate. I am used to waiting to have a retrieval and then transferring eggs. Some folks opt to have several retrievals in a row and then do transfers.

I have met couples who choose this route because they are older and don’t get a lot of eggs after a retrieval and would prefer to have a bunch before going down the transfer road.

Another reason to batch is it can be financially beneficial if you are PGD testing. We are in this camp. Specifically, most PGD labs will have a flat fee for 8 embryos. If you don’t have 8 embryos most people will batch until they reach this number so you can get the most bang for your buck. We are lucky and got 8 on our first try (and had one left in the freezer from last year) however since I have defied all odds thus far, we wanted to have as many eggs as possible to test. After you pay the flat fee, the price per egg seems nominal in comparison.

PGD TESTING

Science is crazy! CRAZY! After 4 failed transfers with high grade embryos we were given the option to PGD test. PGD testing is when they take a biopsy of the embryo and test it to see if it is genetically sound. They can determine which embryos will be more likely to implant using this technology. Usually older women are advised to take this route because it will help you decipher much quicker if your embryos are viable and if you are likely to implant embryos that will yield genetic abnormalities at birth.

Most companies will assign you a genetic counselor. They will go over the test in its entirety and answer any questions you have. Heck, you are paying out the nose, might as well make it worth your while.

TO TEST OR NOT TO TEST: THAT IS THE QUESTION

During our first round at our first doctor, testing was pushed on us but we declined. By all accounts, we were not the typical PGD candidates and there were no indicators that testing was even needed. PLUS TESTING IS NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE. It is expensive, very expensive. Thus we opted to go the “natural” route, whatever that means in this crazy  concoction of science.

Our second doctor also brought it up but again we decided it didn’t make sense since there wasn’t any specific reason to have it done. BUT after 4 transfers, by-the-books perfect lining and embryos, we decided we would bite the bullet and test.

THE RATIONALE

It wasn’t easy to make this decision for a few reasons:

  1. It was going to cost us a minimum of $7500, depending on the freezing fees, number of eggs, batching fee, the price just goes up and up. We are currently WAY passed this amount (by almost 2 fold).
  2. Its 93%-95% accurate
  3. Since they are testing such a tiny organism, there is a chance they could damage the embryo.

We decided to take the leap and scrounge up savings and months of salary to do the testing because:

  1. I have now defied every stat. They don’t know whats wrong with me and I want some answers.
  2. I can’t do this to my body much longer. Feeling like shit 99% of the time isn’t sustainable.
  3. I am not happy while doing this.
  4. If I am going to put my body through hell for transfers, I want to know we aren’t wasting our time.
  5. I need closure.

* Added bonus pointed out by my doctor: If all things go great and lets say we do get pregnant we will wont have to do this again. We will have genetically sound embryos in the freezer for a later use.

If you are considering testing, weigh the impact it will have for you. The PGD companies will push testing because they make money, figure out what is right for your family, sit on it for a while, and then go forth!

WHAT ARE THE ODDS

If you are healthy, the number of genetically sound embryos will vary depending on your age. For example a healthy 30 year old should have about 70% genetically sound embryos (info from our genetic counselor). My doctor approximates closer to 50%. In theory these embryos will be less likely to miscarry and should not have genetic mutations.  As you get older, the number decreases. So if you are playing on pure numbers, the more embryos you have to test, the more likely it is to have genetically sound embryos.

WAITING GAME

So here we are 9 embryos and counting (I will know the final number on Friday) and then they are sending them off to test. We should know our results in a few weeks. Once we have this information we will know if we are going to keep with IVF or call it a day. Either way, its one step closer to the end. While the end is sad because it confirms we may never have a biological child, my body has failed, and I put my body through hell for 2 years with no results… the end if comforting. It means onward to the next phase (adoption) and one step closer to completing our family.

 

-Annie