For those of you who may have missed my post last week, I started sharing our journey on starting a family. To avoid writing a novel, I am sharing over several posts over the next few weeks, so here is Part II.
After our failed IUIs, we took a break. I was exhausted…mostly emotionally. I felt like a failure. I was sad for me, for Rudy, for us as a couple, for our families…for everyone who was praying for us. Month after month, everyone was so positive and so hopeful and every month I disappointed.
We decided to take the rest of 2014 off to enjoy the holidays and decided to start discussing IVF in January. Unfortunately, 2015 did not have a good start. Rudy’s dad (Rodolfo…we called him Jupy) had been sick with pneumonia for some time and after many visits to doctors trying to figure out what to do, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The date was January 21, 2015. I’ll never forget. We were all so shocked. Sad. Worried. How were the doctors just figuring this out after months of Jupy being in and out of their office?
They diagnosed him with Stage 4 lung cancer but did not indicate that his time with us was ending anytime soon. Because Rudy’s parents lived in California, he planned a trip out to spend some time with his dad. He had a few trips for work but then was heading out the last weekend of February.
On February 20th, Rudy was coming back from a work trip and my brother, sister-in-law and the kids (Addie and Gunner) were on their way to spend the weekend with us. It was late on Friday by the time everyone got to the house but we all hung out for a while and then went to bed. Addie always sleeps with us when they visit and this night was no different. Around 5:30am on February 21, 2015, Rudy’s phone rang. It was his sister. We looked at each other and our hearts dropped. Rudy was terrified. He paced the bedroom floor and when he hung up the phone, he broke down. His dad had gone to Heaven.
The next few weeks and months were hard. Jupy was such an amazing man. The most selfless person. He would give so much and never expect anything in return. The heartache was overwhelming and I knew what I was feeling was nothing compared to what Rudy and his family were going through. There was nothing that I could say or do to make things better, so I prayed. I prayed for strength. I prayed for peace. I prayed for their comfort.
We returned from California the 2nd week of March. Although we had been through so much the past few months, we decided to do a round of IVF in April. We were hopeful and knew that getting pregnant would turn our year around. We would have something positive to focus on.
March 24th was the first day of my cycle, so I begin taking birth control (BC) and scheduled a mock transfer. For those that don’t know, a mock transfer allows the doctors to do a practice run of transferring the embryos. On April 13th, I begin Lupron. I never hated needles but I never really liked them either so I was not fond of the idea of pricking myself daily. After the first few times, I became more comfortable with it, but it still sucked. I would numb my belly with ice before pricking myself…I’m a wimp, I know.
On the 25th, Follistom and Menopur were introduced, which meant giving myself 3 shots daily. This sucks!!!! Poor Rudy, he could hardly watch me do it as he hates needles. I don’t think the meds affected me too badly. I was tired, bloated and ate like a horse…some of that may have been nervous eating, but I did it nonetheless.
During that week, there were several doctor visits to check my levels. My estrogen was 220 on April 28th and doubled each visit until it reached 4290 on May 5th. Since my estrogen was elevated and my progesterone was low at 1.19, I was directed to stop Lupron, Follistom and Menopur. At precisely 11pm, I was to administer HCG (the trigger shot) and then arrive at the clinic at 9am on May 7th for retrieval.
We were so excited. We were so hopeful. We knew this was going to work. They ended up retrieving 20 follicles…AMAZING. We were off to a great start. We chose to do ICSI, which is just a fancy way of saying inject sperm into the egg. Not every IVF cycle performs ICSI, but to increase our chances, we opted to go this route. We had 18 follicles fertilized…yay, another great step. Once the follicles were fertilized, the doctors allowed the embryos to develop and didn’t check them again until Day 3. (As referenced, retrieval is Day 0.) On Day 3, 13 embryos had survived but only 3 were “okay” quality. This is where I get confused…I can’t remember if 1 is the best quality or 4, but the three embryos I had on Day 3 were graded 2CC, 1CC and 2DC. The doctors were shocked that so many embryos declined so quickly, but insisted that we wait until Day 5 to allow the 3 remaining embryos to develop more. They told us that we would transfer on the 12th.
Rudy had a business trip, so my mom came up and went with me. We arrived at the clinic and they took us back to prep me. The doctor came in and told me that we had 2 embryos remaining (1CC and 2CC). She expressed that the quality was not ideal and due to that they suggested we do Assisted Hatching (AC) and that we transfer both. I lost it. How could the cycle have gone so perfectly and here we are with 2 “not ideal” embryos? What happened? Why did we go from 13 to 3 to 2, so quickly? What did this mean?
Nonetheless, the doctors assured me that they have seen pregnancy happen with embryos with worse quality. So I remained hopeful. I called Rudy to explain what they doctors had said and what they recommended. We agreed to move forward with AC and transfer both embryos.
Unlike the retrieval, I was awake and able to watch the entire transfer. My mom was able to come in and watch too. There was a big TV screen in the room, which they displayed the two embryos on. It was so cute. I teared up thinking that I was looking at my future child or children. Once they are ready to transfer, they put the monitor where you can watch the needle go into your uterus and then a small bubble quickly appears. Just like that, the two embryos were inside me.
Now it was time for the dreaded two-week wait. Ugh, I hate this time. It’s so hard to remain calm and positive. You question everything thing you eat, everything you do, every little symptom. Am I pregnant? Am I not? It’s the worst.
Then May 20th came and so did spotting. Is this what I think it is? Lord, please don’t let this be my period. I immediately emailed my nurse and asked. She insisted that I remain calm and wait for blood work the next day. So, the next morning I went in for blood work. By this time the doctor knew I was bleeding, so she rushed the test results. Before we knew it, we were huddled in a side room listening to our doctor apologize that they didn’t have better news.
With our teary eyes looking down to the floor, we walked hand in hand out of the clinic. Was this it for us? Did we have anything left in us to keep fighting? We weren’t sure, but we knew we needed some time to think. To absorb what this meant. To heal…
Tiffany & Rudy