I have to say that one of the cool things about this blog is the people I have had a chance to interact with. The title of this latest blog actually comes from one of you who wrote to me saying that we all have our road to success; that road that we have to travel on to get to where we want to be. We may get a punctured tire once in a while, but we patch it up or change it and continue travelling. She compared IVF and the struggle of fertility to a road in the jungle… I like that analogy – especially having traveled to Botswana and Zambia; my road has been unpaved, uneven, unlit, potholes galore, abruptly stopped and restarted a couple of miles later, saw all sorts of beasts and yet, it has been a beautiful journey.
I thank that reader for that analogy. It is sometimes hard to see the beauty in infertility.
Beautiful doesn’t mean always enjoyable though. There are some moments I wish I could erase, some detours I wish didn’t exist (I say the same about Montreal roads) and some pit stops that have damaged my trust in the fact that I COULD have a baby… Covid is definitely one of them.
Pre-covid, I was on a roll! I had three of the best linings I have ever had – in a row, en plus! However, it was not that elusive 7mm that I had been hoping for and it seemed to crash before we could use it. So post-covid, we decided to play with that and try a new protocol that would allow the lining to grow nicely naturally, but to also give me hormones to stop my brain from shooting progesterone my way – the most likely cause of my lining crashes.
Cycle #1 post-covid closing: June 26, 2020 – Natural cycle. After losing three cycles to the peak of the pandemic, clinics were finally taking new patients once more. I went in 5 times within 8 days for lining checks and ended up with a 6.2mm. Again aiming for that 7mm, we decided not to go ahead. It’s a tough decision, because I did get pregnant on a 5.4mm lining, but I want the best lining conditions for this last embryo.
Cycle 2: July 24 – first cycle with hormones in over a year. We would let the lining grow for about a week and then I would be given estrogen artificially in order to control my ovulation and progesterone production. However, on day 6 of my cycle, I still had quite the tiny lining (2.1mm compared to at least a 4mm in the past). I forgot how my body felt getting all those hormones… bloated, hungry, emotional! After 11 days, we realised that nope, this plan definitely wasn’t working. My lining only made it to a 3.5mm.
Cycle 3: August 19 – we started the hormones day 3 and doubled the dose of estrogen. After 15 days, I was at 5.2mm – that’s good! However, a week more of hormones only brought it up to a 5.5mm. Just like when I was trying to get pregnant with my own eggs (man that sounds like such a long time ago), it seems that my body really does not respond to artificial estrogen… So what do we do?!
I never saw my doctor look so defeated. I knew I was in for a major heart break…
It happened moments later when he uttered “gestational carrier”.
I was not ready for that. We were doing so well pre-covid! I have one more embryo! To be fair to him, he did not say “You need a gestational carrier”, he said “I think we’ve tried everything. Either we bite the bullet and transfer next time we get that 6-6.5mm lining or you think of a gestational carrier for your last embryo”… all I heard though was “gestational carrier”.
Was all hope gone?
I called the MUHC fertility clinic to see if they had changed their policy on donated embryos from known donors (they have not) and asked if Dr Buckett would be willing to maybe just look at my file and see if he sees something that we could attempt. I have yet to hear back. OriginElle would take donated embryos and the doctor there was a pioneer in the IVF world, but after 3 years, do I really want to change clinics? The Montreal Fertility Centre is family to me and to be honest, it’s not like we are not trying everything! I can’t imagine what someone else could try. I think my doctor’s grandma’s personal kitchen sink was even thrown my way!!!
Cycle 4: September 18 – we decided to give that original “try to let lining grow naturally and then give hormones to stop it from crashing” protocol another go. After my day 11 ultrasound and a lining growth to 4.2mm, I started estrogen. This time, orally, vaginally AND with a patch! Two days later, my lining is only at 4.4mm so we add intramuscular estrogen injections. See what I mean by throwing the kitchen sink at me! IM estrogen isn’t normally in IVF procedures here and Dr Mahutte had actually never prescribed it, plus only one pharmacy was able to make it. It’s an injection in the higher bum area and let me tell you, the YouTube how-to video plus the scene afterwards (with the help of a French girl boarding in my house) were quite hilarious. However, the results were not there on the ultrasound 2 days later (no change from a 4.4mm lining) so we aborted the cycle.
ARGH!! I want to scream. And cry. This jungle route SUCKS! But then I’m reminded to breath and take in the scenery. See where I’m at and try to understand the delay/detour/pit stop…
There are so many factors that can inhibit your body from responding to medication – just like there are many reasons that a road can cause a flat tire… One of them is stress or trauma. What I did not share in that description of my last cycle is that, on day 11 – September 29 – after leaving the clinic and sitting in my car for over an hour calling pharmacies to find intramuscular estrogen, I headed home late for a vet appointment. It was time for my 2 furboys’ yearly shots. Due to Covid, we can no longer go into the vet’s clinic and I had to hand over my dogs on the sidewalk. As the vet tried to pull them into the clinic, the boys had “put their breaks on” and were giving the vet a hard time! Just imagine two tiny dogs sitting on the sidewalk, afraid, wide legged, putting all energy on not moving an inch forward! It was funny and heartbreaking at the same time. Feeling like it may be easier for the vet if I left the scene, I ran across the street. As I reached the other side, I heard a scream, turned around and saw little Deuce running towards me. He had wiggled out of his harness. A truck drove by at that exact moment…
In that moment, I lost my cuddler. My little 8lbs pup, who for the last almost 12 years, made sure to cuddle in so tightly in every possible crack of space that was between me and any other object. May I be sitting on the sofa or lying in bed, he was there, like a little furnace of love. He was bossy and wanted me to himself, so we always joked that it would be funny to see how he would react to my ever growing belly taking HIS place when I got pregnant. Now, that will no longer happen and it’s been quite devastating. Ever positive me tried to push through the pain of losing my little buddy and kept going with my cycle’s protocol, but I was not at all surprised that it was a bust. Every muscle in my body was literally in pain from the trauma – worst than running a half marathon without training (which I’ve done twice). My brain couldn’t erase the image of little Deuce and the truck. Tears rolled down my face non stop. No wonder my body wasn’t in a space capable of doing the miracle of growing a lining! I hoped it would. It would have helped deal with the sadness of mourning Deuce. It would have given his death a reason – the cycle of life, you know?! It could have replaced Deuce with a baby – hopefully as cuddly, but not as furry!
But it didn’t.
And I then became angry.
Angry that nothing was going my way – or so it felt like that. I had bought this great house where children would run, but not only has there been problem after problem with the renos (which are 97% done, thank goodness!), the babies hadn’t come yet and now this… now little Deuce… it’s like there had been this cloud of bad luck over my head for the last two years… But then I remembered that “the soul would have no rainbows, had the eyes no tears” (a saying that got me through losing my dad) and that, despite the bumpy roads, the detours and the road stops, this latest road through the jungle WILL lead to something beautiful too… because it is MY road. My journey. My story.
And a new chapter is about to start. The boyfriend is officially moving in full time. I am asking questions about gestational carriers… in case (even though that, deep down in my heart, I know that I would want to transfer this last embryo and carry it myself). There is this protocol that I see many people trying in the States that Dr Mahutte is willing to attempt. I am moving along with fostering to adopt too, since it’s been a year since my last IVF attempt (a criteria of eligibility). I have always wanted to have my own children AND adopt, so why not start the process now. If that comes first, that is the route that I am taking. The new leg to my journey. A detour sign bringing on sceneries that would otherwise not have been seen.
In the meantime, I’m cuddling Quincy a tad stronger, but man, I miss Deuce! He will always be my furry guardian angel. I still believe that he left to make room for a baby though – he needed so much love and attention, now I can give that love to someone else. I can give myself some more too and with that, I am starting to feel better. Starting to take in the scenery. Trying to celebrate the little things…
Sound healing helps the brain. Yay!
Yoga helps the body. Yay!
You help the heart. Double yay!
I am still looking for someone to come clear my house of bad energy though – suggestions?! Is there a shaman in this jungle?! 😉
TO BE CONTINUED…