MicroblogMondays: Picking Up the Pieces


I can’t believe I am writing one of these posts again.  I really thought that this was going to be our time.

Two posts ago was supposed to be the 300th post of this blog.  Instead of celebrating it with a fantastic beta number (which would have been the best timing for the 300th post), I had the worst day possible and had to update you all on the longest timeframe I had to wait for any beta in my life.

It was the most peculiar thing that my OB who had ordered my previous HCG labs STAT actually didn’t order STAT this time.  I called the 24-hour line every single hour starting at 11am.  It was the most disconcerting thing ever, speaking to a stranger who did not know how important this phone call could have been for me.  Every time the answer was “Still processing”.  My OB finally returned my email denying that she ever ordered STAT for my previous beta, although I have her previous emails as my proof.  She wrote, “We cannot order them stat unless there is a medical reason as this would delay labs that were a true emergency. They were not ordered stat last time but I think they sent then stat in the lab for you. I totally understand that you want the results as fast as possible and we do not want to cause you extra anxiety but I have to practice according to hospital policy.”  To me, this is all BS.  All the the previous labs were ordered STAT.  But there is no point of arguing with her.

Little did I know that maybe the delay was the best thing for that day.  With the devastating results, I honestly don’t know how I could have survived without Bob being around me.  I would have been in my office with others or alone at home had the results come back any earlier.  Bob didn’t come home until 9pm.  The results were still not back at 8:40pm, a whole 12 hours after my blood draw.  When I called at 9:40, I still didn’t anticipate to hear the results.  But the stranger on the phone delivered the news.  I was in shock, but politely asked for a repeat of the number, then hung up.  Immediately, I started wailing loudly and could not control my tears.  The immediate heartache was too much to bear.  I was angry, devastated, feeling like this was the end of the world.  My head knowledge told me that this was not the end, but the devastation was still the same.  Can you imagine not having my husband’s warm embrace while I got the heart wrenching news?  I can’t imagine it.  So maybe the whole purpose of this delay in beta was for me to be well taken care of by my husband on that day.  I don’t know.  I could not stop my tears from coming.  It was utter disappointment, heart break, and anger.  I was so angry at God this time.  The unfairness of it all was really hard to swallow.  But haven’t we already learned?  Life is unfair, and we can’t control it when we are dealt the bad cards.  I was supposed to get up at 6am to go to my bible study training.  I was supposed to see a speech therapy client right after that.  That night, I couldn’t even breathe.  The thought of seeing someone other than my husband and acting normally was too much.  Canceling all these prior arrangements, I curled myself up in bed and just cried and cried and cried some more.  It really felt like the end of the world to me as the thought of starting all over again, looking for a donor, stressing over egg retrieval results, fertilization report, transfer, timing, and beta was just so overwhelming.  I just could not believe our luck.

My sentiment that night was I was so sick and tired of being resilient, having perseverance, and always being the bearer of bad news.  What else do we have to do to bring home a baby?  Haven’t we done enough?  I just couldn’t think anymore.

I am so grateful that I have a four-day weekend as we both took Tuesday off for Bob’s birthday.  We just let ourselves be.  We slept in the next morning.  My heart still hurt but was getting better little by little.  The thought of starting all over again was still very overwhelming.  So I put that thought aside.  I cried on and off during the day.  Tears flowed down my cheeks whenever I thought about the loss of Lucy.  Bob has been great.  He reminded me that we should still try to celebrate Valentine’s day and his birthday on Tuesday the best we can.  Yes.  We continue to live life to the fullest despite this huge set back.  We were being nice to ourselves so we could grieve and mourn, and begin the healing process.  I know I am loved because so many of you commented on my blog, and many of my friends checked on me repeatedly to make sure that I was doing okay.  I was still angry at God.  With His might and power, why couldn’t He make it better for us and let us fulfill our dreams of conceiving and growing a child?  My head knowledge told me to trust God’s perfect timing, my heart was just calling all of this BS.  When I couldn’t pray for myself, I know my prayer warriors are lifting me up.

Since I couldn’t talk to my nurse coordinator Friday night, I called the nurses station at my clinic on Saturday.  I knew that I had to do a second beta to confirm the results (which is the most meaningless thing ever), so I had to inquire if I should continue with my progesterone shot.  After a discussion, the on-call nurse said it would be better for me to stay on the injection until the second beta.  I lay there teary while Bob was jabbing that 1.5 inch needle on my behind, not understanding why history had to repeat itself.

On Sunday, we were both feeling better.  Believe it or not, we had church greeting duty.  On Saturday, I kept on thinking that there was no possible way for us to stand there, hand out bulletins, with a genuine smile on our face telling people that we were fine.  But I guess in God, everything is possible.  We were fine.  I genuinely felt hospitable, chatted with guests and friends, and sat through the whole sermon whole-heartedly.  During the quiet time right after sermon, I prayed to God, crying out to Him to comfort us, and not to allow us to steer away from Him.  It was the first heart-felt prayer I had for myself since the news.  Prior to service, I saw our friend’s pregnant wife got off in front of church.  I tried to escape her entry by excusing myself to get a cup of coffee.  After service, there was no escaping as they walked directly towards me.  We chatted about the weather while I avoided glancing down at her six-month pregnant belly.  Thank goodness for her extra long and large coat.

Serving at church did make us feel better.  Bob and I were originally going to have lunch at home.  But I wanted to cheer him up so we had an impromptu lunch at a South Indian restaurant close by.  Parking was a beast but we didn’t mind it.  We thoroughly enjoyed our food.  Afterwards, I decided to get my second beta done instead of waiting until Monday like we had originally planned.  If the results were to come back 12 hours later, I’d rather do it earlier so we could get it over with.  Because it was Valentine’s day, the lab was practically empty.  I asked the phlebotomist if I should get the results within 12 hours, I was shocked to learn that this lab was ordered STAT.  Why this was STAT and the previous one wasn’t, I don’t have a clue.  I just found it so ironic that for this second beta, I would find out the results within two hours.  Of course the results were negative.  I was relieved that my body did not have to endure another unnecessary needle and dose of progesterone when there was no life to support inside of me.

It’s amazing how much Bob and I have bounced back.  I didn’t cry at all yesterday.  We managed to make each other laugh most day. We actually started talking about our next plans.  We will definitely test his sperm for DNA fragmentation.  Since we didn’t test our embryos, we didn’t know if we should blame my uterus or the embryos for these failed cycles.  So for our next cycle, we are going to test the embryos even though the recommendation is that embryos from DE don’t need testing.  We will find a donor to do a fresh cycle.  And the most shocking one for myself is, I may switch clinic and go somewhere else.  I need a doctor who is friendlier with immune protocols and I don’t think Dr. No Nonsense is that doctor.  If something is wrong with my uterus, I want someone that can support that.  I have already looked at various donor databases, contacted a Southern California clinic that is famous for egg donation (many of our fellow bloggers and DE moms have gone there), and saw a few donors that have potentials.  It surprised me that looking through donor profiles did not cause me negative emotions or stress.  The most freaky thing was that the original agency that I used for the first donor that disappeared had not contacted me for six months.  The first email she sent me was the day after this failed cycle telling me that there was a brand new Korean donor for us to check out.  Anyhow, I don’t think we’ll work with that donor.  We’ll most likely ask for our money back from this agency and move onto somewhere else.  I will still have my WTF appointment with Dr. NN since I don’t have to pay extra.  Plus I really want to hear what he’d have to say.

Bob and I had a great chat.  We are now on the same page with our next steps.  He agreed to all the testing, and told me not to worry about the money part.  We have money saved up for more than one other fresh cycle.  If the next two transfers don’t work, we are in the position to save up more money, and we’ll start thinking about gestation carrier.  Speaking of which, I was both touched and surprised that one of my friends offered to carry our baby for us if we still don’t have a baby in 2.5 years.  She is currently pregnant and would like to breast feed her child.  I believe that I should be able to get pregnant and carry a child, but it is such a relief to know that someone would so selflessly offer to do this huge thing for me.  I also appreciated my husband telling me that I don’t have to worry about my age so I can just focus on the process itself. 

So this is where we are at, still sad about our failed cycle, still mourning the loss of Lucy, and still angry at God.  But we are also bouncing back and looking forward to the next chance for us to become parents. I do not regret maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude with Lucy. I’d do the same next time. I truly believe that one day we will be parents.  We need to take a deep breath, hold onto each other, and move forward.  I believe we can do it.


Emotional Meeting With Dr. No Nonsense

This morning was my WTF appointment with Dr. No Nonsense, my RE.  I was originally offered a phone consultation by my nurse.  I insisted on an in-person meeting because 1) I hate speaking with Dr. NN on the phone because he uses a speaker phone, 2) for this important meeting, I need to look him in his eyes, and 3) I just need to see his face and find out why he thinks the cycle didn’t work.  Last night, I typed up all my questions on Goo.gle Docs and placed a writing pad and pen in my purse.

Being ten minutes early, I was surprised the nurse called me right away and led me to wait in an exam room across from Dr. NN’s office.  To my greater surprise, Dr. NN came to get me at 10:02.  Practically on time.  A student doctor was introduced to me as someone who would observe the session.

We discussed about why this cycle didn’t work.  Basically, nobody knows.  We commented on how the embryos all fertilized but didn’t grow too well on day three.  Dr. NN said that eggs usually carry the most weight when it comes to fertilization and growth.  The sperm plays a role but it’s very hard to tell what kind of role.  He said that the fertilization and growth for frozen eggs are about equal to fresh eggs.  So it’s an unknown why these eggs didn’t grow well since the sperm and the eggs all looked good.  Dr. NN said that in the future if we need to fertilize eggs again, we could do the DNA fragmentation test.  He said that DNA fragmentation is highly experimental.  It doesn’t really change how we fertilize eggs because ICSI is still the way to go.  But it does provide a different set of criteria to identify which sperm to use.  It basically helps to choose the sperm differently.  Dr. NN told me not to worry about that right now as we should focus our effort on transferring the great embryo that we have.  I asked about the possibility of needing donor sperm if Bob’s sperm is not good.  Dr. NN said that we wouldn’t even go there as it is not necessary.

Early blastoscyst’s success rate is not as high as regular blastocysts.  I thought that Kevin our early blastocyst was from an embryo that had a fragmentation of four on day three because of how it was listed on our embryo report.  Dr. NN clarified that no one knows which day three embryo Kevin came from.  He said that the lab used to grow the eggs separately.  However, it was discovered that embryos grow better together in a petri dish.  So he said that there was no way of knowing which embryo Kevin was originally from since they were all put together in on place.  He said that that piece of information isn’t important anymore.

I made him go through the donor’s previous cycles just to see if they actually grew as poorly.  He spent his time digging up the information on the computer.  Her blastocyst rate for two of her fresh cycles was 50% and 40%.  I don’t know what I was trying to prove, but it really seems like either 1) we got a bad batch of eggs, 2) we have sperm that doesn’t work as well, 3) it’s pure bad luck, 4) it’s my uterine lining.  Nobody knows.

I asked about my lining.  He opts for a medicated embryo transfer because my low reserve means that my ovary may not produce enough estrogen for a good lining.  It is much easier to develop a good lining in a controlled environment with medications.  He does not think that I need any immune protocol.  We have these two new factors: donor eggs and sperm.  He does not want to throw in another factor and mess with my lining with something that may or may not be beneficial to the cycle. He thinks that an 8mm lining is perfectly good for a transfer.  I asked about spotting some blood clots during my menses.  He said that that’s perfectly normal.  It doesn’t mean that I have a blood clotting disorder.

I think around 20 minutes into the meeting, I became increasingly emotional.  I really wanted to remain as calm and composed as possible.  However, with the whole talk about the failure and possibly having to spend more money and time on a brand new donor if Lucy doesn’t work, it was just too much to bear.  I started tearing up thinking that it could happen that we’d never have our baby.   I actually cried in front of Dr. No Nonsense for the first time.  In fact, this was my first time losing my emotional control and crying in an RE’s office.  Period.  I was surprised at my tears, but my fear just surfaced and I couldn’t control myself.  I was telling him that we spent so much money on this, and that other people who used donor eggs got pregnant and have their babies left and right.  I felt like we got the short end of the stick.

Dr. NN was so kind.  His student fetched me tissues.  I apologized for being emotional, and he was very compassionate about it.  He said that you have gone through so much and have done so much treatment.  Of course you are feeling emotional.  He looked me in my eyes and told me that he believes one day I will get pregnant and have a baby.  He went on to tell me about one of his patients.  This poor woman failed a fresh DE transfer, a frozen embryo transfer, and another fresh DE transfer with a different donor.  She finally got pregnant with twins with a frozen embryo transfer.  The fourth time.  It goes to show you that you never know what will happen.  He said that yes, DE success rate is high, with a 70% pregnancy rate. But there is still a whopping 30% of people who don’t get pregnant during each cycle.  We just have to try.  And we have a great embryo waiting for us on ice.  He said that he will do everything in his power to help make it happen for us.  He asked how I would like him to help.

I told him that I just need my uterus to be in the best shape for our frozen.  He told me to get another diagnostic hysteroscopy to make sure that my uterus looks good.  We had one done back in July.  The surgeon back then told me that my uterus looked pristine.  Dr. NN said that it doesn’t hurt to look again so that we have a peace of mind.  Then he said that he’d make sure he is going to be the one doing the transfer.  He will try everything and whatever voodoo he has (whatever that means) to make sure that the embryo gets transferred in the safest way possible.  He said that together we’ll make it happen.

At the end of the session, I had already calmed down.  Dr. NN was finishing up his notes on the computer.  I told him that the embryo was called Lucy.  He actually typed it in and said that we’ll make sure that Lucy makes it home safely.  He told me to wait so that he could give me a hug.  He finished typing, came out from behind his desk, and gave me a huge hug.  He told us to focus on this great embryo that we have during this holiday season and keep ourselves positive on the outlook.

I really appreciate my doctor who gave me over 30 minutes of his undivided attention answering all the questions that I had.  So yeah, we won’t be purchasing any frozen eggs until after we transfer Lucy.  I know that the frozen eggs may be claimed by then. If we get pregnant with Lucy, the baby will not have a fully biological sibling.  I think we are going to be okay with that.   My own OB responded to my request for a hysteroscopy saying that she doesn’t do that in her practice so she has referred me to her colleagues who do.  Just like last time I may have to wait for a while before I could get an appointment.  I went ahead and emailed the surgeon who did my last hysteroscopy and I will see if she can see me earlier, such as some time in the next two weeks.

I like that we have a plan.  I hope that despite what happened this cycle, we will still be full of hope for the possibility of Lucy.  I believe that we will.  We just need time to heal.

Friends That Cheer Us Up

Every time we hit a bump on our fertility road, there would always be a friend or a group of friends that would do something to cheer us up.  Today Bob and I received this surprise gift in the mail:

It was from our dear friend Aramis and her husband M.  In the notes, they said, “Just a little something to pick you up.  Hope you enjoy!”

Oh yes.  Definitely!  We feel so loved and are grateful for friends.  Thanks friend for being so thoughtful.  We will thoroughly enjoy this gift.  More importantly, the gift of friendship and support makes this journey a little bit more tolerable.