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When the IVF Plan Changes ...


a blog by CGD, March 25, 2011

So, things are going better than expected this in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. I am half waiting for the other shoe to drop as I type that sentence. Being used to getting bad news over the past four years, it is very hard to wrap my head around things when they are going right. Trust me, this is not me complaining, I promise, just feeling a little disoriented I think. Let me fill you in on our IVF cycle progress and catch you up ...

The Plan

As you may recall, for this cycle the plan was to retrieve eggs, fertilize them, and then freeze all of the embryos on day three. My embryo transfer was to come later in a subsequent cycle when I was off fertility meds so that my embryos could be transferred into what my fertility doctor referred to as the “un-medicated uterus." We had spoken briefly in December about possibly doing a fresh transfer in addition to the frozen if we had a good number of embryos, but given my abysmal fertilization results last time, I figured that part of the plan was long forgotten. Turns out, this is not the case.

This time, we retrieved 12 eggs, out of which we got nine embryos. These are great numbers for me, better than great, amazing numbers. I was floored and actually said to the nurse giving me my fertilization report that I was a little afraid that she was looking at the wrong chart or something. These could not possibly be my results, from my eggs, could they??? At this point, the idea of a possible fresh transfer was put back on the table, and I made a mad dash to get things in order (cancel patients for the day, start my antibiotics and steroids, get in touch with my hematologist about starting Lovenox and aspirin therapy for my blood clotting disorder). Over the weekend, we transferred two eight-cell, day three embryos and froze five (of which four are pretty good quality). I am still in shock that we were able to get a potential two transfers from one retrieval. Wow.

What Happens when the Plan Changes

So I would like to tell you that I sailed through this wave of good news seamlessly and have been smiling ever since, but I can’t. Although it is true that I am pretty happy and feel very blessed (and have the smile to prove that), I kind of started acting like a chicken with no head from the time we got the fertilization report until well after the transfer. The nurse who took my blood pressure before my transfer even commented about how high it was. I told her it was nerves, but realize it was way more than that.

As a psychologist there is a phenomenon that I observe with my patients. As their lives get more and more complicated, they become more and more rigid and inflexible. It is as if their rigidity is the only thing that is keeping them strung together. This is exactly what happened to me. I had been holding onto my treatment plan with white knuckles, as if belief in this one plan was what was going to get me through the day. During stimms, I kept telling myself that there was only a little while left to go, that my break was right around the corner, that I had faith in my fertility doctor and his belief in this “un-medicated uterus” thing. That plan felt good to me. It was comfortable (well at least as comfortable as one could be during IVF). And then that plan got tossed right out the window, leaving me as one plan-less, over whelmed woman.

While I would describe myself as a type A kind of person, I promise you I am not usually this rigid and inflexible. I think this is just yet another part of this process. Apparently, as I just discovered, IVF and infertility are overwhelming during both the good times and the bad. It is really hard to just let yourself go with it and, yet, that is exactly what we have to do. Give up control. Be more flexible. Let go of our plans. Switch gears mid game — yikes, no wonder my blood pressure was so high on transfer day.

Anyway, I am now a few days post transfer, hoping that our two little embryos set up shop in there. My stress levels have seemed to return back to normal, thankfully, as there is not much left to do now aside from sit and wait. Of course, I am sure this will change as the two-week wait progresses.

Beta day is in about 8 days so I will surely keep you posted ...

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