After only getting 1 potentially viable embryo from our first round of IVF, and talking with our doctor, we decided the best thing to do would be to do another retrieval in the hopes that we could get more potentially viable embryos. Since my fertility will continue to decline as time goes on, we didn’t want to risk waiting and potentially lose the opportunity to get more embryos in the future.
Our game plan was to get as many potentially viable embryos as we could on the front end and then it would no longer be a race against my lovely biological clock that was sped up by chemo. So it was onto round 2 for us! Typically, people take a month off in between egg retrievals to let their body recuperate, but my baseline monitoring showed that my hormone levels were erratic. This meant that my pituitary gland was basically having to scream at my ovaries (via hormones) to do their job. In other words, my fertility was continuing to decline.
We jumped straight into round 2 without a break in between to hopefully boost our success. We started on the same medicine protocol but after the first monitoring visit, my doctor increased my dosage of Gonal-F/Follistim to 450iu. This is the highest dosage they can prescribe so we were maxing out the medications to try to get a higher number of mature eggs. Apart from the increase in dosage, everything else was the same.
I did quit my job though, for real this time, right before the second retrieval, in order to focus on IVF and my health. I was burnt out from working on Covid (remotely, thankfully) while living with the realities of it and never really getting an escape. Between Covid-fatigue and IVF fatigue, I needed a break and I wanted to get myself to a better place for when we would attempt an embryo transfer. It was the best thing for our future family and I am so grateful that I have such a supportive husband. I have so much respect for women who go through IVF with a full-time or even part-time job, because it is exhausting, and quite frankly, hard to manage logistically as well.
From our second retrieval we got:
- 6 eggs (all mature),
- 5 that fertilized,
- 4 that grew to be blastocysts to biopsy and
- 3 that ultimately came back as potentially viable
Success!! Given the last round, this was very exciting for us! We now had 4 potentially viable embryos!
Our doctor recommended trying to get around 6 embryos so we could hopefully have 2 biological children at some point. We prefer to have options, so we decided to go for round 3. Again, my doctor recommended we jump straight in and don’t take a month off. More injections, more bloodwork, more ultrasounds and more fatigue. But, I pushed through it all with high hopes of a little munchkin or two in the future.
The third round wasn’t a success though. We managed to get:
- 7 eggs, which was wonderful, but only
- 4 were mature,
- 3 fertilized,
- 1 grew to the blastocyst stage for biopsy and it ended up being abnormal
We were definitely disappointed but didn’t want to give up. We decided to give my body a rest though. Despite the fear of my declining fertility, it seemed that pushing full steam ahead was not what my body wanted. So, we listened to it and took a month off. I’m not going to lie, I appreciated the much-needed break from the fertility clinic and all the injections.
After a month off, we went ahead with our fourth round. My doctor added growth hormone to our protocol, in hopes that it would improve the outcome. It certainly helped with the number of eggs! We got
- 11 this time,
- 9 of which were mature,
- 7 fertilized,
- 3 biopsied blastocysts and
- 2 that came back as potentially viable!
And we reached the “magic” number. My doctor felt confident with 6 potentially viable embryos, so we did too, and decided that it was our last retrieval. We felt really hopeful and excited about moving onto the next part of the process: embryo transfer!