It's Not Supposed to Be This Way
It's taken me weeks to find the words to write this blog.
2023 did not start in a good way –– actually, it was absolutely horrible, delivering more bad news when I truly thought there was no more bad news left to receive.
It's not supposed to be this way.
Let's get right to it. Buckle up.
New Donor & New Diagnosis
If you read my last blog, you learned we snuck in a 3rd round of IVF in December. But, before we get to that, a couple key things happened that I haven't told you about yet.
1. We picked a new sperm donor.
I dragged my feet on this. I mean, realllly dragged my feet. It was hard enough the first time picking a donor –– I really didn't want to go through that again. You can read about that here.
But, after 8 failed IUIs and 2 failed IVFs with the same donor, it only made sense to choose someone else.
As a good friend of mine said, maybe my eggs were choosing to swipe left on the sperm and it just wasn't a good match!
Sperm shopping - still not as fun as shoe shopping. I'm not going to bore you with all this information again, because I've already written a post about it. You can read all about how sperm shopping is kind of like picking out shoes on the internet - filters galore: hair color, profession, height, hobbies, etc.
This time around, I asked Brian to narrow it down to two or three donors and we would pick from there.
Bingo. Bango. Bongo. We had a new donor. ✅
2. I tested positive for Lupus Anticoagulant A.K.A. Antiphospholipid Syndrome A.K.A. Hughes Syndrome
After our second round of IVF ended in a miscarriage (my second one), the doctors recommended some tests to check for blood clotting disorders that may be causing me to miscarry. I tested November 8 and results came back positive a few days later.
I'm not going to get into the weeds too much here, because it is a lot and I am tired. Here are some highlights:
It's an autoimmune condition that causes an increased risk of blood clots
It increases the risks of miscarriage, poor growth of the fetus, and pre-eclampsia
It's considered rare (of course!), usually shows up somewhere between age 20-50 and affects women more than men
If I move forward with becoming pregnant, I would start blood thinner injections and be on them for the entire pregnancy
It could also be a false-positive test but I can't test again for three months
Talk about another freaking roller coaster. Might be false-positive. Might not be. Might have to be on yet another injection. What are the risks of having a baby while on blood thinners? So many questions and not enough answers.
Luckily, the three months are almost over and I am getting retested in a week.
IVF: Round 3
Now that all that is out of the way, let's talk about our third round of IVF. We didn't know if we were ready to move forward not knowing for sure if I truly have this blood clotting disorder. We also didn't know if Iowa City would even be able to squeeze us in for another round before the end of the year.
Brian and I had some serious talks and had to make a smart decision once we found out that they COULD schedule us in December. We talked to our doctors and felt assured that I'd be well taken care of in the event that I became pregnant AND had this blood disorder.
You guys, everything was falling into place. We were going to have another go at it right around Christmas. We had a new donor.
I couldn't help but feel like THIS HAS TO BE THE ONE. How special and amazing would it be to find out we were expecting right around the holidays?! I couldn't help myself but to get excited for the magic that could be right around the corner.
We started all the hormones and injections (this is old to us now, having been through it twice already before - we are basically pros).
We had egg retrieval in Iowa City on December 13 and went back to IC for embryo transfer December 18. We even made a weekend out of it and went to an Iowa basketball game and did some Christmas shopping!
Brian carried my shopping bags and acted out the "Big Mistake. Big. Huge."scene (you know the one) from Pretty Woman as we walked by different stores. This man literally makes me laugh every single day. I am truly blessed to have him by my side.
Let's Talk Results
Let's get right to it. We had the BEST results we've had so far on this journey.
14 eggs retrieved - our highest yet (AND Ronnie's prediction)
14 inseminated via ICSI
9 fertilized normally (my bestie provided daily cheerleading for our 9 em-babies)
4 GOOD embryos (the first time we had ANY "Good" ones!)
2 GOOD embryos transferred to my uterus
2 GOOD embryos frozen for genetic testing
Oh my gosh - we had FOUR GOOD EMBRYOS. You can't begin to imagine the relief we felt after hearing that news. We transferred two of them into my uterus on December 18 (nearly flawlessly compared to my last transfer) and were able to freeze the other two. We'd have those biopsied and sent for genetic testing.
Somewhere deep inside me, I knew I was pregnant right away. So I started planning everything - again.
- How we'd share our news
- What we would name him or her
- How we'd decorate the nursery in our brand new home
- What the due date would be
I even had numerous dreams I was in labor. But then I'd wake up and just have to pee. 🤣
I Took a Test on Christmas
I shouldn't have.
It was three days before test day.
And it was negative.
I've never thrown anything away so fast.
But it was worth it.
Because if that test had been positive, it would have been the Best Christmas Ever.
Instead, I cried a lot and pasted a smile on my face while trying to enjoy "the most wonderful time of the year." I typically don't take photos of myself after I've been crying - but this is real life.
After the Two Week Wait
We went to the clinic for my official blood test on December 28. Even after my negative test on Christmas Day, I still thought I was pregnant. I had no signs that would tell me otherwise.
We had the most beautiful sunrise to admire on our way to West Des Moines. We crossed our fingers and our toes. And, the arm wrap matched my sweater perfectly.
"You're Pregnant, But..."
It took a few hours to get the test results. The results always come through MyChart prior to getting the phone call from the nurse.
Brian and I checked MyChart right away. My HCG was 21, which meant I was pregnant. But we weren't sure how to feel, because again, it was a low HCG number (but higher than last round which was just a 12!).
Then we got the call. Another bad call. You're pregnant, but... it's a low number. It's likely a repeat of what happened last IVF cycle. Be prepared for another non-viable pregnancy.
But we're going to treat it like a true pregnancy and you'll come back in two days for another test. In the meantime, keep doing progesterone injections, start estrodial pills, and start the blood thinner injections, just in case.
I kept the faith. I stayed positive. I kept telling myself I was pregnant and the next HCG test will prove it.
It didn't. Two days later on December 30, my mom drove me to the clinic for my next blood test. We enjoyed Starbucks from Kirby and a few hours later, I FaceTimed Brian because MyChart results were in and we wanted to find out together.
The HCG had dropped to 17. 🥺 I would be miscarrying soon.
At Least We Have Our Frozen Embryos...
Except we don't.
Six days after we found out we were miscarrying (again), we got the WORST CALL EVER.
Both our frozen embryos tested chromosomally abnormal. They were no good. Not viable.
They're called aneuploid embryos and this could point to a larger problem.
With my eggs.
I cried my eyes out - literally. I cried so hard I popped blood vessels all over my face.
So, What's Next For Us?
Honestly, besides more lab work on me, we don't know.
After that? I don't know.
And that scares me more than anything.
As you can imagine, we have not had a good start to the new year. Like, at all. We would really appreciate your prayers and support, specifically for:
Lupus Anticoagulant Test #2 (coming up soon)
Chromosome Blood Tests
Clear direction on where we go after this
Strength to process the most recent news and find the courage to move forward
Thank you for reading. 💜