It’s been a hectic month in the Paul household. As I mentioned in last month’s post, we started a fresh IVF cycle, which meant a lot of *very* early morning back and forth trips to my monitoring location (an hour and a half – each way – from our home); we also took Noah to Shady Grove Fertility’s Family Day at the Maryland Zoo, where he got to meet my reproductive endocrinologist (who helped us bring Noah into existence). We managed to find time – despite both of our jobs being hectic and all of my medical appointments, and Noah and I both getting a horrible cold that’s finally going away nearly 3 weeks later – to take Noah to the local pumpkin patch, where he got to pick out his pumpkin, play in the corn pit (which he loved), eat lots of fun food, and ride the little “train” around the farm. It’s been a very busy month, but overall it’s been a good one.
Speaking of the aforementioned IVF cycle: I underwent egg retrieval surgery on October 18th! The number of eggs we retrieved this time (7) was lower than we’ve retrieved with either of our previous cycles (cycle 1 yielded 10 eggs, one of which resulted in Will, the little boy we lost due to incompetent cervix/extreme prematurity, and cycle 2 yielded 18 eggs, one of which resulted in Noah). I’m not going to lie: I bawled on the recovery room table when they told me our count. In that moment, I had the thought – which I said out loud – “I don’t think I can do this again for such a low yield”. Super negative thinking, but it’s where my head automatically went. Rather than being optimistic because 8 is more than a lot of women – especially women my age – get, I automatically went worse-case scenario (probably because of our two failed FETs this spring, which has me concerned that this cycle will be a bust as well).
The 19th brought more somewhat-discouraging (for me) news: Of the 7 eggs we retrieved, only 6 were mature and only 4 fertilized. That’s a lot less embryos than we had with both Will’s (8) and Noah’s (9) cycles, and my head went straight to worst-case scenario all over again. I was sobbing when I relayed the news (over the phone) to my husband. When I calmed down a little, though, I started thinking that rather than letting myself get depressed over fewer embryos, I needed to celebrate the fact that we have four embryos. Right now, in incubation dishes in a lab only a couple of hours from our home, we have 4 precious lives that have just begun, and that is an amazing thing. That is something that needs to be rejoiced, not something I should be sad about.
Then the statistician in me started wondering how our progress thus far this cycle compared with where we were with both of our previous cycles at this point. I ran the numbers and realized that although we have fewer embryos this time than we had either previous cycle, we’re actually doing better percentage-wise on both % mature eggs and % fertilization rate than we did with Noah’s cycle (78% maturity with Noah versus 86% this cycle, 64% fertilization rate with Noah’s cycle versus 67% this cycle). And I started thinking about how our fertility doctor remarked, during both prior cycles, that we make “rockstar” embryos – we’ve had an exceptionally high percentage (88% with Will’s cycle, 89% with Noah’s) of our embryos survive to the blastocyst stage, which is what you hope for.
So where do we stand as I write this? Shortly after this post goes “live” tomorrow, we’ll receive our daily status report on the embryos. Hopefully they’ll be another “rockstar” group and we’ll start planning to transfer one of them (any others that survive to that stage will be cryopreserved – we do not transfer more than one due to my medical history, as we need to mitigate the risk of multiples as much as possible) early next week. If all goes well, my next Life With Noah post will have him wearing a “Promoted to Big Brother” t-shirt! And in the meantime, I’ll continue planning Noah’s second birthday party and basking in the joy of being the mother of such a remarkable little boy.