MicroblogMondays: Frozen Donor Eggs (a post not so micro)

Microblog_Mondays

This is going to be my third attempt in writing about what has been going on since our donor Iris bailed.  I have been so short on time lately that I just can’t seem to finish a post about it.  I hope you are ready for a not so micro post.

It’s been three weeks since we got the news that Iris had disappeared.  I don’t quite think much about her anymore.  Emotionally I am not affected much by her.  Did she ever return any emails or phone calls to the agency?  The answer is no.  She returned the $200 that the agency sent her for transportation to and from the clinic, without attaching a single note.  Just like that, she disappeared into thin air without a single word or explanation.  On some level, I feel disappointed at myself for choosing a person who would be so irresponsible.  But my therapist told me that I should not take any responsibility because her decision and disappearance had nothing to do with me and Bob personally.

So what has happened in the last three weeks since we found out that we had to start all over again?  It took a few days for my emotions to return to normal.  Then I began to think about the next steps.  Naturally, we started searching for a donor again.  Both the agency database and the in-house clinic database did not have any donors that we could work with immediately.  A proven, repeat donor who is part-Chinese would be our first pick.  Nobody matches that description.  I expanded my search to agencies outside of the Bay Area.  Still, the choices are very limited.  I was discouraged for a few days and was defeated that the chance to have a transfer before Christmas would be very slim.  Why do I want a transfer before Christmas?  I think it has to do with us approaching the end of the 4th year trying for a baby.  Christmas is a season that focuses so much on family and children.  I just want to share the joy with others who have children or who are pregnant.

We have discussed in the past about doing a fresh donor cycle vs. doing a frozen donor egg cycle.  I didn’t really go into details with you guys about the differences.  Basically, the chances of a pregnancy/live birth are higher with a fresh donor cycle because the recipient couple would receive all the eggs in that cycle, hence the chances of making multiple embryos would be quite high.  Many donors would retrieve from 15 to 35 eggs during one cycle (although some may make fewer than 10 eggs).  Many of these eggs would be fertilized and at least a few embryos would/should make it to the day five or day six blastocyst stage.  Often times, a recipient couple transfers one to two blastocysts and has a few other blastocysts to freeze for future use, may it be for a frozen embryo transfer if the first fresh transfer didn’t work, or for a chance at a second child in the future if the first transfer results in a live birth.  The cost of a fresh donor cycle is high.  Compared to that, a frozen donor egg cycle is a lot cheaper.  At my clinic, the difference could be over $10,000.   The eggs are already there, frozen for a recipient couple’s use at any time they are ready.  The advantage is that you don’t have to sync up the donor’s cycle with the recipient, and there is not a risk of the donor not stimming well or actually backing out from the cycle.  The disadvantage is that the clinic guarantees at least six mature eggs.  Compared to a fresh cycle with 15 to 35 eggs, six eggs seems to be a small number.  With fewer eggs, the chances of having multiple embryos are smaller.  Plus, there is a risk of the eggs not thawing well.  So realistically, there could be one or two embryos to work with.  Once the embryos have been transferred, if the cycle doesn’t result in a pregnancy, there may not be any frozen embryos to use for a frozen embryo transfer.  So there is always that risk of exhausting all the embryos quickly and having to do another cycle all over again.

My RE Dr. No Nonsense has always told us to do a fresh donor cycle if we want two of more children because a fresh cycle gives you a lot more eggs.  I do want more than one child.  However, Bob’s position in the last year has been that he only wants one child.  If we get a bonus one (such as having twins), he would be overjoyed.  But he just wants to have one child and be done with this process.  I know that he is very tired of this journey and just wants to move on.  This is coming from a man who had always wanted four children.  It breaks my heart to see him so disappointed and exhausted and just wanting to move on with life.  So in theory, since Bob only wants one child at this point, he shouldn’t care much about fresh donor cycle or frozen DE cycle.  But in reality, he cares a lot because he really wants me to have the best chance at having a live birth and it seems like a fresh cycle will allow us the best chance for that.

You may not remember, but back in May, I wrote about the various choices we had to face when it came to egg donation.  In that post, I mentioned about donor 1.  She is half Chinese half other Asian.  So she is fully Asian.  Back then, I learned that all four of the recipients of her cycles had gotten pregnant.  She had committed to donating for the 5th time for all of her eggs to be frozen.  We did not go with her because only frozen eggs were available.  You can see the above for the reason why we didn’t want to go with frozen eggs.

There is another donor that we also liked.  I mentioned about her in the previous post about egg donation as well.  I described her as donor 3 who only has a bit of Chinese.  I checked with the donor coordinator.  She has just been matched with another couple and will do a cycle in November.  Technically, Bob and I are next in line if she chooses to donate again.  The thing is, I am not so sure if she’d donate again as this is her 3rd donation in a row.  She may or may not want to do it again.  Plus I would still like my future child to have at least a quarter Chinese.  So I am a bit hesitant about waiting for her to be available.

So, out of all the donors on both the agency and in-house clinic databases, the half Chinese/half other Asian donor is still the only donor that we are really interested in.  However, I knew my husband’s position.  I didn’t want to force the issue if he did not want to pursue having a cycle with frozen eggs.  We just had to wait a little bit for a donor to show up that we both like and want to work with.  So realistically, it could be some time in 2016 before we can do a transfer.

And then, Bob had a change of heart.  We were lying in bed one day having our pillow talk.  We were chatting about various things.  Out of the blue, Bob asked if I wanted to consider the frozen eggs from this Chinese/other Asian donor.  I was very surprised at his inquiry.  His reasoning was that 1) this is a young, proven donor with good records, 2) the eggs are all there for us to use, 3) so a donor will never back out from a cycle again (I think he’s a bit traumatized by the incident with Iris and has lost confidence in a future fresh donor), and 4) the cycle is cheaper so if it’s not successful, we still have the money to try another fresh or frozen egg cycle.  We agreed to inquire about the status of the Chinese/other Asian donor.

This is what I learned.  At the time when I wrote the donor coordinator, this donor was about to do a retrieval for her 6th donation.  So we didn’t know how many eggs would be given for each batch.  While we were dealing with our previous donor Iris in the past months, this Chinese/other Asian donor had already completed her 5th donation (and second frozen donation).  That cycle yielded 23 mature eggs which were divided into three batches of 8, 8, and 7 eggs.  All three batches have been matched with various couples but these couples have not done a cycle with these eggs yet.  We would be next in line for the new batch of eggs that results from her 6th donation (and 3rd frozen egg donation).  A transfer had been done with the eggs that came from her very first frozen egg donation but the clinic was still waiting for the pregnancy result.

When I was waiting for the retrieval to see how many eggs would go into each batch, I had asked myself what the most ideal number of eggs would be.  I knew that her first frozen egg donation resulted in 9 mature eggs and 8 mature eggs.  If she has 20 mature eggs, then the cycle would be split into two batches of ten eggs.  If she has 21 eggs, then they would be divided into three batches of 7 eggs.  I was praying that she’d get 20 eggs.

Guess what?  My prayer was answered.  The donor coordinator said that her cycle resulted in two batches of ten eggs each.  They were all deemed mature and were stripped for ICSI (whatever that means).  This would be the best case scenario for someone who is interested in using frozen eggs.  Again, the clinic guarantees at least six mature eggs.  A batch of ten eggs is amazing.

After knowing the answer, I was thrilled at first.  We have ten chances to make a couple of embryos, if not more.  This is a proven donor.  What else is there to think about right?  After praying over the weekend, both Bob and I were saying to each other that we should go for it.  I posted to an online group of DE moms who had experience in frozen egg cycles and many had shared their success stories with me.  Many of them had only 6 eggs and still had a pregnancy and live birth.  I was feeling better and better.  And then, I had a thought.  What if we purchased both batches of eggs?  That’d cost a lot more money but that’d mean that we’d have a chance to have a few more embryos.  Bob still thought that we would only need one batch because he would still want one child.  But he told me to go ahead and ask.

The donor coordinator said this, “We unfortunately do not allow the option to purchase multiple batches of cryo banked eggs because the cornerstone of the program is to offer more recipients an opportunity to match with our more sought after donors.”  

I was at peace with this.  I was actually relieved that a decision was made for us, that we didn’t have to fret about the decision to purchase two batches of eggs.

I was feeling good for a couple of days.  Then I got the latest news.  The donor coordinator told me that the result of the latest transfer with this donor’s frozen eggs was a negative pregnancy and the recipient had one more embryo to try.

Cue panic.  I went from having peace to having fears and doubts.  I was projecting the results of that failed cycle onto my future, wondering if that would happen to me as well.  I seemed to have overlooked the still stellar record of this donor, having a 80% pregnancy rate with her eggs.  I wondered if bad statistics would follow me.  I was fearful that I would be unfortunate enough to have a batch of the worse eggs from the 20 eggs.  I entered into this land of what-ifs.  I could not distinguish my fear from God’s will.  My mind was very noisy and chaotic.

In the back of my mind, I still thought and felt that this was a wonderful opportunity to pursue with a proven donor.  Since we only have to prepare my lining for a transfer, we can possibly transfer before Thanksgiving.  And if this does not work, we still have the money to pursue other opportunities.

But I was scared to death.  I was scared that the first transfer wouldn’t work, and it would be a huge blow to the both of us.  It would mean tens of thousands of dollars down the drain.  It could possibly mean having no frozen embryos to try again and needing to find a new donor.  I have just been so traumatized by this experience that I was so afraid of failure.

My therapist came to the rescue.  A few days ago, a session with her cleared up some of my chaotic thoughts.  Every pregnancy is different.  We don’t know what the failed cycle was like.  We don’t know the sperm quality or the uterine environment.  We do know that the recipient has one more embryo to try.  We also know that other people who used this donor’s eggs have all gotten pregnant.  She told me that things are out of my control.  So I should let go of the what-ifs because no one except for God knows what will happen in the future.  I should focus on my perfect uterus and visualize how welcoming this place will be for my future child.  Instead of putting my energy in thinking that this will never happen to me, I should put some positive energy into believing that this will happen with a perfect uterine environment and a beautiful embryo.  My therapist told me not to rush into a cycle if the reason is that I want to have a transfer before the end of the year.  Go for it if it feels right.  Don’t go for it and wait if it doesn’t feel right.

I was able to get a hold of Dr. NN and asked him a few questions.  He said that this being the donor’s 6th donation does not affect the egg quality.  I also asked him about immune protocol.  He said that I will be on steroids.  He does not recommend any blood thinner like Hepa.rin for me, and he thinks that hCG infusion is not necessary for me.  He thinks that it’s wonderful that we get 10 eggs from this donor.

After talking with him and having Bob’s support, I wrote the donor coordinator and let her know that we’d like to take a batch of ten eggs.  Then came her email.  She told me that there is a change in the guarantee program.  What???

I immediately gave her a call and learned about the details.  Basically, the clinic was evaluating the frozen egg program and wanted to boost the success rate.  According to the coordinator, there was 16 transfers with frozen eggs and 9 resulted in a clinical pregnancy.  So instead of guaranteeing that there would be two viable embryos (could be anywhere from day three to day five) to transfer, the clinic will change its policy to one blastocyst.

I think it is a good change, but I was a bit uneasy with the rate of pregnancy because it is lower than the 70% of transfer with fresh eggs.  I prayed to God for peace and strength as this is such a difficult decision to make.  Bob and I talked and talked.  I let the news sit for a little longer.  I woke up the next morning with peace.

So this is where we are at right now.  We have chosen to proceed with ten frozen eggs from this Chinese/other Asian donor who has had a great record.  I went off birth control pills a few weeks ago because I was bleeding from them.  In order to get ready for the cycle, I will go back on birth control pills when my period comes.  My nurse said the transfer time will be six weeks from the time I go back on birth control pills.  I am expecting my period to come in two to three weeks (I have EWCM lately but I don’t know if I have ovulated yet) so I think transfer time should be somewhere in November.

I can’t help but think that, maybe this is meant to be?  If we had chosen this donor’s frozen eggs in the first place, the eggs that we would get would be very different from the eggs that we are going to get now.  The sperm used for that would be different.  The resulting embryos and child/ren would be different.  Maybe there was a reason why our original donor didn’t work out.  Maybe we are meant to get the ten eggs that we will get?  I don’ t know.  I think we’ll never find out the reason for all these twists and turns until we have a baby in our arms.

I am excited but at the same time scared.  I am grateful for this opportunity but at the same time fearful of the future.  I have been reminded again and again this past week during Bible Study that God has the perfect plan for me.  I believe that this is the right decision.  My hope is that I continue to trust in the Lord and in this process without being doubtful or living in fear.  If you are the praying kind, could you join me in praying that I live daily with trust and faith in the Lord?

Thank you for your support.

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18 thoughts on “MicroblogMondays: Frozen Donor Eggs (a post not so micro)

  1. I’ve been praying for you so much since your donor disappeared and I’ll continue praying for you. I think this is a lovely choice and I agreed, trusting God’s plan is so important. Thinking of you and your husband and praying!

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  2. We also went back and forth with the frozen or fresh cycle. We were also hung up on the 6 egg guarantee. It is fantastic that you have 10 to work with. 10 mature eggs is a great result. Best of luck! I also cycled right around November. Didn’t get my first beta until right after Christmas.

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  3. I will absolutely pray for u! Your faith in God during this process is admirable. I am so glad to hear you have found some peace with the new donor and cryo batch decision. I must say I can relate to the Christmas part. Our first baby was due Christmas 2014, we found out that Christmas day we were pregnant with our 3rd which we also lost. I have no idea what I will do this year to get through, especially since our FET has been postponed until after the new year now. So tough to even think about! I hope your dream comes true before this December ❤️

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  4. I have said prayers for you and will hold you in my thoughts and prayers. But to be honest I have a strong sense that this is the path on which you will find answers to your own prayers. Beyond those you’ve already found. I think you’re doing the right thing. And I so very much hope you succeed with the first transfer. Are you planning to transfer two? I would strongly encourage you to do so even if you don’t want twins. There are several reproductive immunologists who believe (as do I) that transferring two helps the embryos implant and at least among immune patients is not very likely to result in twin live births. Do you know what dose and kind of steroids you will be on?

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  5. Believe it or not, I really enjoyed reading your whole post. I love your honesty and transparency. It’s an extremely emotional process and our thoughts can go haywire at the least bump in the road, much less major bumps like a disappearing donor. Just keep focusing on God. He’s timing the perfect baby just for you.

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  6. Oh Isabelle, I am just checking back after taking almost a year break from all things IVF related. I am sorry to see that you too are still in the trenches, but this post is great news! I fully believe what you said about this might be the perfect egg, perfect sperm and perfect timing for your perfect take home baby – the one you were always meant to raise. We have to have hope! You’ve put in the time, you’ve done the hard leg work and research but now that you have peace it’s time to let go and trust.

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  7. It’s been a tough road…it would be lovely to think that this was the last twist and that you guys are coming into your home stretch. I’m glad you decided to go forward with the frozen eggs. I can’t wait to see how this goes!

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  8. I’ve thought so much about your situation as we have also gone the donor egg route. The one thought I have had is that perhaps in order to donate one’s eggs, there has to be a level of emotional distance and detachment from the reality of those eggs becoming living, breathing children, living in a family. Otherwise it might be emotionally much more complex to donate ones eggs. Maybe it all became too real for iris? I’m really sorry that whatever it was, she managed her feelings about it so badly. An explanation… However difficult… Would have been the right thing to do. I’m pleased for you that you have made decisions regarding a new planxxx

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  9. I am so glad that you have a plan to proceed! we planned to do a frozen donor egg cycle prior to AJ’s conception because the logistics were easier than a fresh cycle (we didn’t think it through to anywhere the level you have.) There are always unknowns but I’m hoping this is the big breakthrough for you.

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  10. Hi, we have exactly the same story than you! We were matched 31.8. And now donor disappeared 2weeks ago. No response. Do you work with SS agency?

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  11. Pingback: MicroblogMondays: We Booked Our Donor! | In Quest of a Binky Moongee

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