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Free IVF: Guarantees Not Included
a blog by Jay Pal, February 15, 2010
As you know from my last entry, I’ve been participating in a clinical trial that includes an all-expenses-paid in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some win an all-expenses-paid trip, but in my case, I’d much rather have free hormones than a free vacation. Perhaps that’s just me though.
In general, the trial has gone well. Every morning around 7 a.m. for 10 days straight, I saw one of three different nurses involved in the trial. I like to think of them as my own personal "Charlie’s Angels" except instead of holding guns, they are holding needles.
Free IVF Is a Great Motivator
I was never a fan of waking up early, but when a free IVF is involved and you’re both fertility and financially challenged, you find a way to make it happen. You pick out your outfit the night before, you grab a Starbucks and you do your make-up on the subway, which has become a special skill I have perfected. Last week, I got a standing ovation on the 4 train for my use of a liquid liner.
As annoying as it is to get your blood taken, a shot in your stomach, a shot in your thigh and an intravaginal sonogram on a daily basis, it becomes routine and you do get used to it. I have gotten to know all of the nurses' hobbies, exactly how far down I needed to get my butt for a perfect ultrasound angle and, most surprisingly, I now know way more about which veins in my arm are the easiest to extract blood from. I feel so heroin chic!
Although free stuff is always a terrific motivator, the real inspiration is the hope that this trial will work for me, and I will finally be able to experience pregnancy as so many uninsured, unwed crack whores have (not that I’m bitter). If you don’t have some belief that this could work, why else would you subject yourself to such an insanely exhausting regimen?
On egg retrieval day, I was hoping for the best. As I was put under, my husband gave his sample. I love that he was busy doing his thing while I was unconscious.
It was like a typical Saturday night.
When I woke up in the recovery room, and they told me they had extracted 11 eggs, I breathed such a sigh of relief. “It was worth it!” I thought. “Now, we’ll hopefully have some extra embryos, and the pressure won’t be so intense!”
With my first IVF, I had five eggs and we ended up producing three embryos, so I had high hopes for my 11 eggs this time around. The trial was also covering ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), and the frozen embryo costs, so everything was looking up. For once in my life, my pessimistic attitude was no more, and my glass was very much half full.
When the nurse called the next day to tell me that I only had one embryo, my glass not only became half empty, but it was filled with the wrong beverage.
The Lone Survivor
We met with the embryologist on the day of the transfer to find out more about the lone survivor and ask the question pretty much everyone was asking: “WTF?” He explained to us that they were not sure what went wrong, and they totally didn’t see this coming. Great. He just described my most recent IVF cycle the way someone would describe an oncoming car or the ending of a horror film.
The fact remains, though, that the lone embryo is a clean 8-cell fighter and somehow, despite whatever went wrong, he was ready for some hot uterine action. They used assisted hatching to help our odds and everyone in the operating room wished me luck. Yes, luck. Because I’ve been so incredibly lucky so far.
I must say that it’s damn hard not to be disappointed. It’s also been especially difficult to accept that a heap of pressure is now riding on this one embryo. I’m hoping with all my heart that since this guy fought hard to get into the uterus, he’ll fight even harder to stay there.
Many times in the past few days, I’ve talked to the embryo. I’ve said, “Listen up! I want to meet you dammit, and you’re already costing me a shit load of money, so find the nearest uterine lining and hang on to it for dear life!” I don’t know if threatening an embryo will work, but it’s worth a shot.
I’ve been asked what I’ve thought of this trial, and I think it’s safe to say that it depends on how it ends. If I’m pregnant, then it all worked out and was worth it. If I’m not pregnant, then I’m telling you all now, I’m going to need a real all-expense-paid vacation … to a funny (and perhaps fertile) farm.