I have not felt much like writing about this but I suppose I should tell the story of our 8th IVF cycle. I’m going to be sneaky and back date it. In truth, I started writing this a few months ago and just didn’t have the emotional energy to finish it.
It’s a long one, encompassing 5 months of dealing with a new company and trying a new thing (and being slapped about by incompetence and patronising staff). Here is it:
After finally accepting that IVF Australia are nothing but cheating, lying, incompetent scum, we moved on to clinic #3, the very last option in our state.
Clinic #3 was Monash IVF. We hadn’t heard anything, good or bad, about them but it’s not like they could be worse than IVF Australia, right? They don’t seem to advertise and, until recently, we didn’t know they were an option.
I had decided this time also to choose a female doctor. There are two reasons for this:
1. I work in science and I know from experience that -in general- woman are not taken as seriously and, this, have to be better at their jobs to get to the same point in their careers as men. Sad but true. The plus side of this depressing fact is that by choosing a woman, you can almost guarantee that she’ll be more competent than a man at the same level. I’ll pick a more competent doctor, given the choice. I also chose a doctor who had herself gone through IVF, which does seem like very helpful experience.
2. There’s just something… arrogant… about a male gyno. From conversations I’ve had with those morons over the years, I’ve frequently thought, “you really don’t know that?” and “have you ever spoken to a female?”.
For example, when my wife had her miscarriage, the doctor advised her that she “could take 2 ibuprofen, if the pain was very bad”. Now, she takes at least 2 ibuprofen every few hours for the first few days of her period, normally. So I questioned this. Doctor seemed amazed that someone would take more than one ibuprofen for a regular period. I sat there thinking, “has this (allegedly great gynocologist) ever encountered a menstruating woman??” Even I, with the most mild period pain of every woman I have ever discussed this with, will pop 2 ibuprofen at the beginning of my period, just in case.
The same doctor couldn’t fathom that the effects of progesterone could be felt by my wife when I was taking it. Yep, women pick up on each others hormones. Easily. Frequently. I learnt that in lesbianism 101.
Suffice to say, I went to a female doctor. When I had the first appointment, she pretty much told me that, based on my medical history and age, I wouldn’t have any issue getting pregnant. So I told her how that had gone for me. Again, my extreme infertility is unheard of. I’ve had every test available and, it seems, every treatment available, except one.
The only one left to try was an ultra long down regulated cycle. Basically that means you go through menopause for 3 months and then do a cycle. Apparently it’s supposed to be the “cure” for endometriosis because your body can’t make uterine lining outside the uterus if it’s not making it inside the uterus. Now, allegedly, my endometriosis is gone, thanks to the probably redundant $8000 surgery I had. However, in the IVF cycle I had after the probably redundant surgery, it was only weeks after the surgery, meaning that the benefit of having eggs develop free of poisonous endometriosis for 3 months was not realised (thanks Dr #3!!).
This is the reason I got fed up with the last clinic. Not only did the timing negate the effectiveness of the surgery itself but its proximity to the surgery also meant that my ovaries produced a third of the eggs they usually do. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time so I got screwed over by yet another doctor.
Anyway, ultra long down reg it was. This involved going to the doctor to have an injection once a month for 3 months. All up the doctors visits plus drugs amounted to a little over $200. Not an unaffordable extra, which really makes me question why it was not presented as an option before now. There is no particular disadvantage to several months of menopause (fertility speaking).
I chose to do the down reg portion over summer as I was told menopause makes you depressed and I figured it was better to avoid the compounding effects of menopause depression and seasonal depression.
In the end, it didn’t make me depressed (any more than knowing I was wasting my time, money and life paying evil corporations to make me sick would make a person depressed). I wish someone had told me how great constant hot flushes are at the height of summer. Fun times.
After 3 months of menopause, I did another round of poison injections. After 10 days of injections, they told me to stop because my follicles were developed enough. I told them that every time some idiot doctor had cut a cycle short before 12 days the majority of the eggs were too immature.
Did they listen to me?
LOL. How would I know a detail like that?!? When I tried to argue the point (because, let’s face it, I am the expert in how my body responds to IVF) the nurse offered that I could drive 3 hours (a 6 hour round trip) to have a blood test (can’t have them just anywhere) so that she could prove to me that she was right and I was wrong. Obviously, I declined this generous offer and just had to accept that they were going to waste most of my eggs.
Sure enough, after egg collection (12 eggs), only 5 were deemed mature. This ratio is fairly typical after I’ve done 10 day cycles. In contrast, almost all my eggs are mature after 12 day cycles. They had my medical records. They chose to ignore this. Obviously they make more money the less successful they are.
5 mature eggs. 4 fertilised eggs. The doctor called me 2 days after the transfer to say, because they all looked so lousy and because I’m superinfertile, she’d like to transfer 1 embryo on day 3. Of course, I kicked up a fuss and insisted on 2 being transferred (can’t freeze them anyhow). I was a bit nervous about the prospect of a 3-day-transfer. I’ve never had one before and I am very aware that, in general, my embryos look great until day 4 when they all die. They’d probably all look the same at day 3. How would they choose the good ones?
Because of the short notice 3 day transfer, I had to drive the 3 hours up to Sydney on my own. I was a bit late, not accounting for Sydney peak hour hell, but I made it there in time.
In the end, of the 4, there were only 2 good ones. The other 2 had variable sized cells and fragmentation (neither of which are good). They didn’t make it to 5 days. Of the 2 that were good on day 3, one was a ‘pre-morula’ (i.e. between 3 and 4 days of development – good for only 3 days along) and one that was 10 cells (pre pre-morula but still a little advanced for 3 days – the average cell number for a 3-day embryo is 8 cells).
All in all, it was the same outcome as if I had have had a 5-day transfer. The same embryos would have been transferred (unless they died on day 4, of course).
After the transfer, I went to a dodgy looking acupuncture place and got (probably useless) acupuncture. It made me feel slightly less guilty about being so infertile, so that’s a plus. I bought a few groceries (fresh pineapple included, as it is apparently the customary food of the infertile) and drove home feeling sad and lonely.
That night, my beautiful wife arrived home from work and told me that she’d ordered our favourite take away and that it would arrive in 15 minutes. It’s a silly small detail but it just seemed to make the whole day better and I felt like everything was OK.