Following our last appt I told my RE that we have numerous questions (12 and counting!!) so I suggested that we have an IVF consultation appt and I mentioned that I was just starting my cycle so perhaps it was a good time to consider making forward steps toward IVF. That Doctor's office whipped me in there so fast, I think I'm going to file a whip lash claim.
So TOMORROW I start my series of appointments.
Tomorrow: Catheter and Culture - they measure my uterus for the embryo transfer portion of the IVF procedure. They also verify that I don't have any uterine infections as that increases the risks of miscarriage.
Saturday, Sept 1: Injections class. Yes, I have to stab myself each day with horrible needles in the butt, thighs, and stomach for many days through out an IVF cycle. Good news is they are subcutaneous, bad news is they are LARGE needles. And to boot - Berilac gets opportunities to stab me too (note to self: be extra nice to Berilac or he will avenge you with big scary needles) ... honestly, I'm wondering if I'll be able to poke myself with a sharp needle - usually I do anything I can to avoid pain.
Friday, Sept 7: IVF consult and signing of the consent forms. This is where our growing list of questions will be answered and where we'll need to identify what we'll have done with any "extra" embryos we might be able to fertilize. (duh? of course - we're ganna put em back in!) (this is also where we have to answer the tough questions - please do pray for us as we walk through this moral minefield)
So for those of you that don't know what IVF is, I'm learning myself (very quickly these days) as to what exactly the process is made up of - so here it is in short:
- Prep for 1 cycle: take Birth control pills for 1 month to regulate your cycle
- Super ovulate: at the beginning of your IVF cycle they do all sorts of blood work and ultrasounds to monitor your plumbing. They make you give yourself thousands of dollars worth of injected fertility drugs. They monitor you in order to catch you when you're just about ready to ovulate. They require precise timing around you giving yourself a trigger shot that enduces ovulation.
- Egg Retrieval: 34 hours after the trigger shot they put you under and do an egg retrieval. They use a needle and collect all of the eggs you've developed during your super ovulation. (I think in a lot of cases they are looking for over 10, but in my case I will most likely have very few)
- Fertilization: They take all of your eggs and they put them in a test tube with hubby's sperm. They light some candles, put on romantic music, and step out for at least 10 minutes. Actually, it takes 1 day to learn how many eggs get fertilized.
- Cell Division: They support these young embryos in the lab, tracking their growth. 3 days after fertilization they are looking for eggs that have divided properly and have a cell count of 6-8. These are considered Grade A embryos. They watch and grade all embryos. They can opt to wait until 5 days after retrieval and allow the embryos to get to blastocyst stage. The decisions around what to do at the various stages of this process are made by the couple (and the RE when needed). This is where, I'm sure, they'll see that my eggs don't allow for proper development - hence our two previous chromosomally abnormal miscarriages.
- Embryo Transfer: On day 3 or 5 the embryos are put into the woman's uterine lining in hopes that implantation/conception occurs.
- Pregnancy Test: 14 days after the embryo transfer a pregnancy test is taken to see if the implantation occured or if the woman's body didn't cooperate. If pregnancy comes back as a big-fat-negative, of course it's back to the drawing board. But if things go well, couples move onto the next step.
- Making sure it sticks: This is where couples pray that they don't miscarry the baby. Of course it can be a long and stressful wait-and-see process. Most miscarriages occur within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, but our first one happened at 9 weeks. Really, you're not out of the clear from miscarriage until week 20 and at that point if you lose the baby it's called a stillbirth - I'm not sure this "making sure it sticks" phase gets resolved until you're holding a healthy baby in your arms. And from what I've heard, the worry that consumed you during pregnancy is nothing compared to the concern and protection you have over a precious little one once you realize that they are their own person and you only have God to trust for their future and safety.
So I hope that helps people a bit. If anyone is reading this and they know more than me, please feel free to chime in. As usual, I will provide upates as to how the apppointments go.
If you remember to pray for us, please do. Yesterday we heard ANOTHER frighteningly appropriate message from the pulpit. Our pastor spoke on Esther 8:1-17 the three elements discussed where: Timing, Method, and Outcome. His specific examples were in the area of "finding a home" and "infertility". (HELLO!! Seriously, I think the pastors just ought to call us up and ask us what's going on in our lives in order to develop their weekly sermons ... cause it's a little frightening how well the messages match our life situations!) The scripture doesn't directly speak on these three things, but if you understand the story of Esther basically you can see God's timing, method, and outcome in the context Haman's persecution of the Jews.
- Timing: God allows a strange 11 month delay on the entire persecution of the Jews.
- Method: His method was odd in that God was going to allow war and allow the Jews to fight back.
- Outcome: was strange in that 75,000 people died in the process - and it righted a wrong from earlier in old testament history.
For Berilac and I, as our personal response, we see God putting together pieces of our life's puzzle in his timing, with His method, and blessed by His outcome.
- Timing: Do I even need to say that our timing to have children would have been when we were pregnant the first time? So, obviously the timing is unknown to us and different than what we would expect.
- Method: IVF (or assistance in general) is not what we would choose.
- Outcome: well I guess we'll have to wait and see what outcome God has for us. But the point is is that it's God who is in control of our outcome, He knows better than we do.
So onward we march. Let's see what God has for us in walking through these amazingly quick steps towards IVF.