Thursday, April 06, 2006


Three is the New Two

We’ve just come back from our consultation with our reproductive endocrinologist (RE), aka our fertility doctor, to discuss what we’re going to do with our frostie.

(For those of you new to the conversation, we have a single frozen embryo, our ‘frostie’, left over from the IVF that resulted in Tristan.)

First, the facts: the frostie has an approximately 75% chance of surviving the thaw. (This is much higher than I thought.) Then, given my age at the time of conception, there is a 13 to 15 % chance of the embryo transfer leading to a successful pregnancy. (This is much lower than I thought.) And I don't know if this is reflected in the percentages or not, but the doctor said that embryos that were created in the same cycle that also led to a successful pregnancy have a better chance than those that were created during a cycle that did not lead to a pregnancy.

The minute I saw those numbers on paper, because the RE has this habit of writing down what she says, I wanted this embryo – this baby – fiercely, without ambivalence, and with my whole heart.

So many thoughts, so many feelings, so much to say… bear with me, this may be my least coherent, least linear post ever.

More details. Facts are my friends.

I will do this as a non-medicated cycle. Because there is no waiting list for frozen embryo transfers (FET) right now, I can call the clinic any time after June 1 to inform them it’s the first day of my cycle. From there, we do a month-long ‘test cycle’. I go in for blood work to check my estrogen level some time just before I ovulate, and go in for an ultrasound around the same time to make sure my uterine lining is nice and thick. Four days after ovulation, I go back in for more blood work to check my progesterone levels. Assuming the hormone and lining measurements are within the right range, the next cycle will be the one that counts.

For that cycle, I think I also do an estrogen check, and I’ll use an at-home ovulation predictor kit to detect the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that indicates ovulation is about to occur. Three days later, they thaw the frostie early in the morning, and the embryo will (assuming the odds are with us) be transferred into my uterus later that morning.

No drugs, no waiting – just a cheque for $1500, and more hope and vulnerability and anxiety than I can stand...

And now we roam from the factual to the esoteric. Here’s a few more details that are flavouring my emotional soup.

The clinic is moving in two weeks, to be a private stand-alone clinic instead of being part of the Ottawa Hospital. A sidebar note for those of you who have cycled at the Parkdale clinic: when we went through our IUIs and IVF, I remember being upset that patients waiting for an ultrasound as part of their fertility treatments had to share the waiting room and ultrasound facilities with the high-risk obstetrical unit. It was horribly painful to see those beautiful, fat bellies in the depth of my own doubt and sorrow and fear.

Did you know that the hospital administration recently dismantled the 5th floor ultrasound clinic entirely, making it necessary for patients to go all the way into the hospital proper and to the LABOUR AND DELIVERY ward to have any ultrasounds done? Can you imagine? Even for someone like me, who rarely grudged someone their successful pregnancies or beautiful children, who never faced the pain of an unsuccessful IVF or worse, a treatment that went to hell right in the middle, couldn’t have faced going to the L&D ward and hearing and seeing all those brand new babies every second day at the most crucial part of a cycle. Unbelievable. The RE said that was one of the main factors that led to the decision to be a standalone clinic.

Anyway, back to me. Because it’s all about me, isn’t it? The clinic moving shouldn’t have much of an impact on me and our cycle, except that the new location is a little bit closer to home, and a lot more convenient to get to, and to park at. This, to my view, is a tick in the “the universe wants this to happen” column. (I’m all about what the universe wants right now. It’s how I’m dealing with the whole thing, on an emotional level. If the universe, or God, or Fate, or whatever else you want to call it, wants this abstract concept of a frostie to become an actual living person, via me and my comfortable uterus, then so be it. And if the universe, in its ultimate wisdom, doesn’t think that a third child is in our best interests… well, I’m a little bit too emotionally invested in the concept right at this moment to consider that alternative. But you get the drift.)

And then the RE was telling us how a big collective of obstetricians, including mine, are moving from the building next door to the clinic to a medical centre about 10 kms in a direct line closer to my house, which would be extremely convenient – if I happened to get pregnant. Which really must be the universe trying to tell me something, right?

(Do you get the feeling it’s going to be a long couple of months? Yah, me too.)

So that’s where we are. In the “more than you really needed to know” file, (and yes, that file will fill to overflowing over the process of this cycle) my last two cycles have been 30 and 29 days, and my most recent day one was April 3. If I have two 30-day cycles, I will have a day 1 on June 1. If I have one 30-day cycle and one 29-day cycle, day 1 will fall on the last day of May and I’ll have to wait until late June to call in my day 1 for the mock cycle. Transfer will either occur in early July or early August.

All my pregnancies to date (three of them) have been conceived between May 9 and June 15. I’m not sure what the universe is telling me here.

Let the obsessing begin.

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