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And it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out….?

February 29, 2012
Logo design by Christine Hepner

June 2010 was full of needles and 7:30am appointments at CWRC for blood tests to monitor hormone levels and sonograms to check for ovarian cysts. I was lucky because blood draws are pretty easy for me. I saw one woman one day sitting in the “blood chair” while the phlebotomist jabbed her. She had tears running down her face and was obviously having a horrible time. I’m not sure if she just hated needles, or if she was one of the unfortunate people with little veins that are hard to hit. Either way, I couldn’t help but wonder how she was ever going to make it all the way through IVF and pregnancy. I counted my blood draws once, and I think it was around 50 in the nearly three years I was being treated.

After a couple weeks of the Lupron injections, I got the call from Nurse Giggle telling me it was time to start oral estrogen. Looking at the calendar, I could guess that the donor would have her procedure to harvest the eggs sometime in very early July. D would get 24-hours notice to show up for the sperm retrieval, and then 3 to 5 days later, we would undergo the embryo transfer. I started getting prepared mentally for being pregnant for the summer and having our baby in late March or early April, 2011.

But I was having these nagging doubts about what we had been told about our donor’s place of birth. I wasn’t sure if we had made the right decision to go with her knowing that she was born near a bad place. (We don’t know how near, you only get to know things like “she was born in Pennsylvania in 1978” but not things like “she lived next to Three Mile Island.” That’s not true, by the way, but you get my gist.)

I’m a worrier by nature. Intellectually, I can see when I’m overthinking something. But sometimes, I just can’t stop myself, and I started to imagine myself trying to fall asleep after I was pregnant while worrying about whether our baby was going to be alright. With everything else that could go wrong when a 51-year-old woman decides to get pregnant, did I need another thing to worry about? But then again, we had started the cycle already. I don’t know if anyone ever calls off IVF mid-cycle. I’m not sure what the consequences would be, but I’m guessing they might toss you out of the program. I mean, would they let you try again with another donor after you had put some poor young woman through most of a cycle and then called it off?

As you probably have guessed already, the decision was taken out of my hands anyway. We made it to exactly the same place we did in the first cycle. Our donor went in for her first level, and it was way below the 100 they needed. By the Friday of 4th of July weekend, we knew. Dr. Nakhuda called me at work and told me that after 3 tests, the donor had not improved and that he advised that we call off the cycle, again.

I met my partner in crime, Bernadette, for margaritas that day. I was sad and relieved at the same time, but mostly in disbelief that the same thing had happened to us again. I really didn’t want to go through another month of injecting myself with god knows what, and I also blamed myself in some irrational way for not wanting it enough. I left Rosa Mexicano pretty buzzed and decided to treat myself to a cab home. I had one of those “only in New York” moments that ended up cheering me up in a sick way. My cab was side-swiped by another cab on 6th Avenue near Radio City. My driver looked in his side-view mirror and waved out the window at the cab that hit us to indicate “it’s ok keep going no damage done.” For some reason, the cab driver who hit us decided to stop and approach my cab, now stopped at the red light. My driver put down the enormous and pungent sandwich he had been half-eating, half-spilling all over the front seat, got out, walked over to the other screaming cabbie, punched him in the head, and got back in the cab. Then, he asked me, “Do you want I should go up Central Park West or Broadway?” I do love NY! We took Broadway.

Because we had been through this before, I knew our options. We could ask our donor to try again or go with a new donor. However, another option popped into my head. Was it an omen? D and I had both agreed that we were going to try IVF once so that we could say that we gave it our best shot, and if it didn’t work, we were going to do our best to put it behind us and move on. Now I started to think that maybe we should call it a day at two aborted cycles. We had a couple extra days to think it over because of the holiday weekend.

So, yes, we called on Monday and told Alyssa to head back to the pool and find us a new donor. Then we made plans for a bonus summer vacation we didn’t think we would have a chance to go on. One of my conditions was that I was never leaving Manhattan while I was pregnant, especially as I got further along. I never wanted to be more than a five-minute ride to the nearest NICU, so that ruled out my home town, D’s home town, and Nantucket, where D’s family has a cottage. But now, why not take a trip to Nantucket?

So, the last week of August, a whole gang of us headed out on the ferry. I had talked to Alyssa a few days earlier, and we had matched again to another amazing, wonderful young woman, but by the time she agreed to donate and came in for her blood work, we would have enough time to go. We stayed with friends in the nicest bed and breakfast on Nantucket, called the Woodbox Inn, and it rained from the moment we got there on Sunday until Wednesday morning! We spent one amazing day and evening on the beach, and we were about to head out again on Thursday when we got the call. The donor was all ready to go and I had to be at CWRC at 7:30 am on Friday morning.

We had to scramble to change our reservation for the car ferry, which is always sold-out in the summer. We took the last ferry on Thursday night getting us to the mainland at 11pm and considered ourselves lucky to get it. Then, we drove all night from Cape Cod to NYC and got back around 4am. I caught an hour or two of sleep, got up and showered, and headed to 58th Street and Broadway for what was going to be, one way or another I had decided, my last cycle of IVF.

Next time: Transfer day!

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From → IVF Treatments

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