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How a Failed IVF Cycle Changes Our Fertility Plan

By Aela Mass |

How a Failed IVF Cycle Changes Our Fertility Plan

So yesterday didn’t happen at all as I’d hoped it would. And like so many other times in my life, I should have known better. We knew from the get-go that this wasn’t going to be a cake walk, but for some reason, I foolishly thought we wouldn’t struggle with the actual getting pregnant phase of our journey. Yes, I’d have to inject all the hormones. Yes, I’d have to undergo an invasive egg retrieval. Yes, those egg would have to be fertilized properly. Yes, those embryos would have to be transferred into me. Those were the steps. None of which were easy.

But I thought the getting-pregnant part would be.

Like I said: foolish.

So what do we do now?

I spoke to the doctor today on the phone to see what happens next. Since we had opted to do a low-dose IVF cycle — for numerous reasons — there aren’t any of my eggs or embryos frozen “on reserve” (one of the actual reasons we decided on a low-dose cycle). I’m happy to have not injected myself with large amounts of drugs and hormones. And I’m happy that I ended up with two viable eggs that became textbook embryos. However, because I don’t have any eggs or embryos in storage, I have to do another egg retrieval. That, I’m not happy about.

The doctor was clear that we haven’t entered “panic mode,” but he is concerned.

The egg retrieval sucked. There’s really no other way to describe it. My nurse, the anesthesiologist, and my doctor were all wonderful. I’m confident and comfortable with the care I received. But the procedure still sucked. I was in incredible discomfort the rest of that day and for the two days following. I very much disliked the “going under” part of the procedure — anesthesia freaks me out — and, frankly, since we started this process, I’ve never been at ease with the medical side of the making of this baby.

But, alas, this is how we’re going to become mothers. And so I’ve taken these steps and accepted our course.

Since our first IVF cycle failed, we have a few options as to what to do next.

1) I can do another low-dose cycle, not change a thing, and quite possibly end up with a positive outcome this go-round. Just because it didn’t work one time, doesn’t mean it won’t next time.

2) I can forge ahead with a full-dose cycle and produce numerous eggs, which could possibly avoid a third (or greater) egg retrieval if the transfers continuously fail.

3) I can do a middle-of-the-road cycle — not too low, not too high — and see how my ovaries respond to that level of hormones. If they respond “well,” we can do another egg retrieval and transfer. If they respond “okay,” we can try an intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is something we haven’t done, something we originally opted to skip to go right into IVF. It’s basically artificial insemination. The doctor would shoot me up with sperm through a catheter. There’s a lesser chance of pregnancy with IUI as opposed to IVF, but it’s less invasive than the egg retrieval. And if we do the middle-of-the-road cycle and end up only producing two eggs again, and if the transfer was again unsuccessful, I’d be facing a third egg-retrieval procedure.

Do you see all these variables we’re dealing with?

So it’s decision time for Sara and me. We’ve also chosen to establish Sara as a patient at the fertility center, get her “month of monitoring” down so we know where everything stands with her ovaries, and so we could possibly use her eggs, embryos — or even uterus — should it come to that.

As of now, the doctor was very clear that we have not entered “panic mode,” that while he is slightly concerned that my otherwise healthy and able body with no history of fertility issues did not accept either of the two embryos that were transferred into me, he is not alarmed by it, nor does he believe my body won’t become pregnant. But he does suggest keeping things moving and having a back-up plan, which is why Sara will begin all the prerequisites, so to say.

This is where we stand, 29 hours after hearing “the news.” The time for being sad that August wasn’t the month we got pregnant is over. The time for figuring out what’s next is now.

As my wonderful brother-in-law so aptly says, “Onward.”


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More of Aela on Babble!
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About Aela Mass


Aela Mass

Aela Mass is a lesbian writer and editor living the dream on Martha's Vineyard with her wife, Sara, and their dog, Darla. She miscarried her twins at 17 weeks and has undergone numerous IVF, FET, and IUI cycles. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post among other publications. For more of her work, visit her blog Two Moms Make a Right. Read bio and latest posts → Read Aela's latest posts →

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5 thoughts on “How a Failed IVF Cycle Changes Our Fertility Plan

  1. Amy says:

    I remember being so disheartened after my first unsuccessful IVF cycle. I wondered if there was any point in trying again since there was no reason why the first time hadn’t worked, and the embryos had been the best of the bunch (I had 9 that looked good – 2 transferred and 7 frozen). It was such a low point for my hunsband and I that we had to take a couple of months off.
    We now have 3 children – 1 from each of our subsequent FET cycles and I’m so glad that we decided to tried again. I can’t wait until I read about your happy news – whatever the circumstances that generate it.

  2. Katie says:

    XOXOXOXO Wonderful things come to those who wait and want…

  3. Bailey says:

    Like I’ve said I feel for you, and if I were in your position; I would go with option two. Not just for if you have a failed implantation, because I bet you won’t. BUT if you guys decide to have more children, you wouldn’t have to go through the egg retrieval again, they would be ready. Good luck!

  4. EastCoastRose says:

    Looking forward and planning the next step was what got me through 24 cycles of TTC before doing IVF. And a loving partner. You are doing/have both.

    Just a thought: Does your clinic require you to be completely under? Mine does conscious sedation – so I was there but not there. I can remember the play by play of how many eggs they got and got to see them on the screen. It was not overly painful during the procedure (I would rather feel it a bit than be out totally) and I also had the two awful days afterwards of pain.

    As you consider IUI, make sure you know your clinic’s policy on what happens if you get pregnant with multiples. Some require consent for ‘selective reduction’ ahead of time, which you would have to decide if you were comfortable with.

    Still thinking of you. It is awful that sperm meeting egg doesn’t necessarily mean conception. One of the more frustrating aspects of TTC is that you can do everything right and still not get the results you want.

  5. Roe says:

    If anyone is trying to conceive, Julia Indichova offers wonderful support from her website and books. So much of fertility challenges deals with emotion and Julia works with that as well as supporting all avenues of bringing children into loving families.

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