The experience at the second clinic was an incredible improvement. The staff there are all wonderful and sympathetic to all of their patients journey and needs. If you ever needed anything, they helped you out in a flash. Need extra alcohol wipes? We’ve got you covered. Do you need a script for DHEA or Melatonin? We can get the Doctor to write you out another script. Do you need someone to talk to (because the cycle just failed…) don’t worry, we are there for you, anytime.People skills and human emotional consideration, they are one of the best.

DHEA is an abbreviation for “Dehydroepiandrosterone”. It’s a supplement that is meant to help reduce chromosomal abnormalities, resulting in better egg and embryo quality, and a reduction in miscarriage, with a better term pregnancyoutcome. It’s used mainly in IVF to help treat women with diminished ovarian reserve  (that usually occurs because of either premature ovarian ageing or just normal female ageing). The proper supplement is found at pharmacies that compound the actual drug itself. You need to be on this drug for at least 8 to 12 weeks for it to start to work and take three capsules per day (75mg each capsule).
DHEA’s beneficial effects on female fertility include:
  • Increased IVF pregnancy rates, Increased chance of spontaneous conceptions, Shortened time to pregnancy, Increased quality and quantity of eggs and embryos, Decreased risk of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities in embryos, Improved cumulative pregnancy rates in patients under fertility treatment.
Unfortunately as women age, egg quality declines with age. There is research and many studies conducted that has found that treating women with the hormone melatonin may help improve the egg quality in IVF. It come’s in a capsule form and the maximum dosage is 4mg and its recommended to be taken at night as its really a sleeping drug. It’s not like Temazeapan or Stilnox, which are heavily created drugs to help insomnia, melatonin is found in our bodies however as we age the seratonin reduces thus making it more difficult to fall asleep. And while we are sleeping our bodies cells are rejuvenating.  During sleep, our bodies repair muscles, consolidate memories, and release hormones and chemicals that regulate everything from energy to appetite. And what this means on a fertility aspect is that the hormone prolactin increases with sleep loss. One of this hormone’s tasks in the brain is triggering egg release. Apparently its common to find that women with fertility issues have suppressed ovulation due to elevated prolactin. You would never think that or expect that your sleeping habits be one of many sources for infertility.

Before we got started on a new cycle, the doctor had me booked in for a laparoscopy, which was actually the day after my birthday. Happy birthday me! YAY! (cue in the sarcasm) I’ve never had any type of surgery before so this was all a little exciting for me (yes I’m a weird, I know. Haha!). I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was explained the following:

Laparoscopy is a way of performing a surgery. Instead of making a large incision (or cut) for certain operations, surgeons make tiny incisions and insert thin instruments and a camera into an area, such as into the abdomen, to view the internal organs and repair or remove tissue.

When I woke up from my surgery I remember I was so hungry (I had to fast from the previous night and I was the last patient that was operated on that day – surgery was at 3.30pm) and I craved KFC!

Oh I badly wanted my two rib pieces of chicken with chips (extra KFC salt, please!).

My darling husband went and bought that for me (luckily it was just around the corner from the hospital). When he came back with the food, I basically breathed in those rib pieces and chips! Om nom nom nom nom.

I was told to rest for a week. And let me know just tell you, after the second day of surgery my stomach got so bloated that I practically looked like I was six months pregnant! I am seriouslynot joking. I even waddled around like a pregnant woman and had to hold onto my lower stomach as it felt like I had to support that ‘baby’ stomach of mine! It even hurt to pass gas (sorry for the TMI – cue in the awkward shoulder shrug).

Two weeks later after the surgery I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor to get the results. I was told there was no endometriosis but it was confirmed again that my left fallopian was blocked and the right tube was now partially blocked. IVF was certainly needed if we wanted to have a baby. The doctor wrote up my new cycle and IVF drugs were collected.

I asked the Doctor about NKC and he said outright, ‘I don’t believe in NKC*. There is no scientific proof that NKC actually does exists.’ It didn’t matter how much I questioned him about it and wanted him to take it seriously, he just kept repeating himself that he didn’t believe it and that there was no actual proof that such a thing existed.

With this second clinic I pretty much did five cycles. These are the cycles and what IVF drugs I had to take and what the results were from each cycle:

My doctor filled out the pre-operative information sheet on what would be happening to me

Cycle 5 – Day three embryo. 8 cells. My little warrior.

CYCLE 5:

  • AM & PM: Synarel (nasal spray) – starting on day 2 of my cycle
  • PM: Menopur (injection) 375iui – starting on day 3 of my cycle
  • Ovidrel (trigger injection) 500iui – administered 36 hours prior to egg collection
  • Crinone (progesterone gel) – vaginal insertion suppositories to be done day after egg collection
  • RESULT: 7 eggs ⇒ Four immature eggs ⇒ Three mature eggs ⇒ Two fertilized embryos ⇒ Two embryos implanted on Day 3  ⇒ Nil pregnancy.

CYCLE 6

  • AM & PM: Synarel (nasal spray) – starting on day 2 of my cycle
  • PM: Menopur (injection) 400iui – starting on day 3 of my cycle
  • Ovidrel (trigger injection) 500iui – administered 36 hours prior to egg collection
  • Crinone (progesterone gel) – vaginal insertion suppositories to be done day after egg collection
  • RESULT: 6 eggs ⇒ Six immature eggs ⇒ Nil fertilized eggs ⇒ Cycle cancelled.

CYCLE 7

  • AM & PM: Synarel (nasal spray) – starting on day 2 of my cycle
  • PM: Gonal F (injection) 450iui – starting on day 3 of my cycle
  • Ovidrel (trigger injection) 500iui – administered 36 hours prior to egg collection
  • Crinone (progesterone gel) – vaginal insertion suppositories to be done day after egg collection
  • RESULT: Cycle cancelled due to over hyper stimulation (27 follicles in total)

CYCLE 8

  • PM: Gonal F (injection) 375iui – starting on day 3 of my cycle
  • AM: Luveris (injection) 75iui  – starting on day 5 of my cycle (and continued on for six days)
  • AM: Orgalutran (injection) 250mg – starting on day 9 of my cycle (and continued on until blood test & ultrasound)
  • Ovidrel (trigger injection) 500iui – administered 36 hours prior to egg collection
  • Crinone (progesterone gel) – vaginal insertion suppositories to be done day after egg collection
  • RESULT:  7 eggs ⇒ Four immature eggs ⇒ Three mature eggs ⇒ Two fertilized embryos ⇒ Two embryos implanted on Day 3  ⇒ Nil pregnancy.

CYCLE 9

  • PM: Gonal F (injection) 400iui – starting on day 3 of my cycle
  • AM: Luveris (injection) 75iui – starting on day 5 of my cycle (and continued on for six days)
  • AM: Orgalutran (injection) 250mg – starting on day 9 of my cycle (and continued on until blood test & ultrasound)
  • Ovidrel (trigger injection) 500iui – administered 36 hours prior to egg collection
  • Crinone (progesterone gel) – vaginal insertion suppositories to be done day after egg collection
  • RESULT: 3 eggs ⇒ Two immature eggs ⇒ One mature egg ⇒ One fertilized embryo ⇒ One embryo implanted on Day 3  ⇒ Nil pregnancy.

At the start of each cycle I was always excited and convinced myself that this was THE cycle that our miracle baby was going to happen. At every ultrasound I would get so happy because I would see that I had at least between 13 – 15 follicles and they were all of good decent sizes. Even the IVF nurse would be impressed that I was still able to produce that amount for someone my age. Then after egg collection, having around 6 or 7 eggs collected I would feel so positive because this old chicken was still laying so many eggs (haha!). But once the current cycle would end and sadly it was unsuccessful, I fell into a deep hole of depression. Darkness.

How you couldn’t you?

I gave myself at least a six weeks off after every cycle before starting another one.

Detoxing from each cycle.

IVF drugs stay in your system for at least a month. Once the cycle is over you are still carrying in your body those crazy bitchy monster hormones around with you. So I would drink liver detox tea every day to clear out the nasty drugs from my liver but then the crazy headaches would come on because of the detox. ARGHHHHHHHH!

I would start again with the mega healthy eating habits again – only eating organic fertility enhancing foods and making my own fertility broth soups (which actually are really quite yummy!) too. Then again at the start of a new cycle, the excitement starts up to build up and you start to think (and feel) that this could be it! The cycle that we are finally going to get our miracle baby and everything during the course of the cycle is indicating that its going so well. Once that little embryo is transferred into ‘your oven’ you continue to do EVERYTHING to stay POSITIVE. It’s a repetitive cycle that are constantly on. Same eating / supplement habits. Same thought / behaviour patterns. Only the emotions and heartache are each time heightened.

Another thing I do is say positive affirmations EVERYDAY.

Morning and night.

It’s an obsession of mine.

I write down on post-it notes both at work and at home how I envision (want) the cycle to be turn out. Example of what I mean, here is are a few of my post-it notes:

Post-It affirmations for follicles and uterus lining
Post-It affirmations for embryos to GROW
Post-It affirmations for embryos to hatch & attach
Post-It affirmations for egg collection
Post-It affirmations for egg fertilisation

I have an app on my phone that is meditation IVF related and do that every day/night when I’m on a IVF cycle. All this that I do just helps to keep my mind, body and soul in line and to keep as positive as best as I can. It’s not a sure fire guarantee but I’m not as inclined to beat myself up as much and be as negative. I do everything I can to project as much positive energy onto ‘my little warrior’, for it to keep on growing. Letting it know that mummy and daddy love them and can’t wait for the day to meet them, and play with them.

The first week after every embryo transfer was easy. But once that second week starts, man I go even harder with my affirmations!

But as always (so far as it has been for me) at every cycle so far: about three days into the second week of the torturous week of hell, the doubts start to set in.

Now, let me tell you I’m a very intuitive person and I truly believe in signs from the universe.

Usually around the third or fourth day into the second week of waiting, whenever I see a moth near me at night or a butterfly during the day, if its near me or is in the same vicinity as me, I know right there and then that my cycle is definitely over. Apart my own gut instinct, seeing moths or butterflies is a sign for me that the cycle is over.

Butterflies or moths are normally meant to mean new beginnings and new chapters in one’s life.

Sadly for me they’re not. They always mean that the cycle (even if we are trying naturally) is over for me.

I find painfully hard to tell my husband about these signs I get and sometimes don’t always tell him as I’m afraid to hurt him or make him upset. IVF is just as hard on a man as it is for a woman. Don’t ever disregard a man’s emotions or feelings about it. They might not show that they are hurting too or in pain but as my gorgeous husband always says to me, ‘I have to be strong for you. I can’t show you how I’m really feeling. It’s bad enough that you’re in pain… I get angry or have a cry when I’m alone. I have to protect you as much as I can.’ I’m truly a lucky and blessed woman to have this man.

Each one of these cycles once they ended… I cried my heart out. Like it’s being ripped out of my body. It’s like  I’ve lost a loved one. Which if youreally think about it… you have. I’ve lost potential ‘little babies’. You think of those embryos as your ‘little babies’. As soon as the eggs fertilise, they start to grow and develop throughout the day. You get your updates from the clinic about what stages the ’embies’ are at (like what number of cells and if they are fragmented etc). They are already truly potential babies. And you do form a close bond, a connection with them. Especially more so once they are transferred back into ‘your oven’ (i.e. uterus).

My embryos have always started to develop well. They have had good cells by the time they are transferred back into ‘my oven’. At day three my embryos are about 8 or 9 cells, which is great and have a little fragmentation. When you are told of this on the day of transfer you get this overwhelming sense of hope and faith! I always walk out of there with my heart and soul believing that THIS IS IT!

This last cycle with the clinic was the most disappointing of all so far. Only in the sense of that I laid only three eggs. The least amount I’ve laid in over a year. I was so hard on myself. BAD. Beated myself up on it. You can’t not help it. I was so used to laying six or seven eggs (and yes I know its all about egg quality not quantity but either way it’s still so hard), that emotionally and mentally I was back into a deep hole of blackness. Hiding my true feelings and thoughts from everyone. I was drowning in despair.

IVF is a beautiful miracle… once it works.

And when it doesn’t… it a horrible mind f**k game.

After this last cycle, I sat down with my husband and suggested we try a different clinic that I had heard about from a friend (who I had met on an IVF forum) who saw a doctor that specialises with NKC and treated her. And guess what? She fell pregnant after changing clinics too. This doctor does a lot more different procedures and test than what other clinics do.

I told my husband that we have nothing to lose. He agreed.

At least this way we know we have ticked every box, doing everything we can, knowing we have gone above and beyond and searched for all possibilities.

I think it’s important that I say that this second clinic has been brilliant in every way (except for not taking my concerns about my NKC seriously but that’s ok). What’s important is that they have been truly sympathetic and caring, and have helped out my husband and I also for financial reasons. This doctor always rang me after hours once he had a chance to go over my cycle’s results and you could hear the concern in his voice about the disappointment of the cycle as he thought as well, at every cycle, we were going to fall pregnant. He wanted it just as bad for us as we wanted it. He always said, ‘you’re still producing good quality eggs especially for someone of your age’ but there’s only so much you can take and some how you know when the time has come to either move onto another doctor/clinic who could do something different with your IVF journey or maybe just end your journey completely all together.

So we have moved again onto clinic number three.

Lucky number three?

* NKC is an abbreviation for Natural Killer Cells. There is info on this topic that appears in a paragraph in the previous post for IVF Clinic: #1 Experience (susanalopessnarey.com/ivf-clinic-1-experience)