I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a friend back in the summer of 2016 as we were gearing up to start our Assisted Fertility journey in the New Year. You see, we had already been trying naturally for the better part of four years with no success and had been with our fertility clinic for well over two years. I told her our plans to do three to six IUI cycles and then, if needed (which I truly believed we would not need), move on to a government-funded IVF cycle. If all of that didn’t work, we would make peace that we tried everything we could to have a biological child and explore other options to becoming parents. I had said that given the high cost, I would not spend money out-of-pocket on further rounds of IVF if our funded cycle was unsuccessful. It was a solid plan we had in our minds at the time.
Fast forward to actually starting treatment.
We totally thought it would be a one IUI fix and we’d be on our way to parenthood. Boy, were we wrong. Our original plan of six IUI cycles slowly decreased after each failure. After IUI #2, I had already had enough and decided to take a break. I felt weak and like I wasn’t cut out for this and couldn’t believe I needed a break after just two cycles. Looking back now I realize that taking breaks is probably the only thing that got us through this process with some amount of sanity. We took a quick trip and then quickly jumped in to IUI #3. After that IUI failed, we decided to move on to IVF.
Luckily, we had gone on the Ontario funded list in 2016 so by the time July 2017 rolled around, our funding was available, and we were ready to jump right in. We had our first egg retrieval mid-July and five days later, our first fresh embryo transfer. While I did get pregnant from that transfer, it was short-lived and ended up being a chemical pregnancy. We decided to take some time to let my body and heart heal and waited until October of 2017 to transfer our final embryo.
We were so positive that that this would be the baby we would bring home but again, we received a negative test result.
When we had our follow-up appointment with our fertility doctor and he noted that if we were to proceed with another cycle, he would not change my protocol. It was at that point we decided to take the rest of the year off and think about what our next steps would be. 2016 Michelle was ready to throw in the towel after the funded cycle and move on to other avenues. We met with an adoption consultant in November of 2017 and she was wonderful and answered all of our questions regarding private, public, and international adoption. We definitely felt like we had a good base to make some decisions regarding in which direction we would go should we pursue that route.
At the same time, we were in the early stages of rebuilding our new home and it was decided that we would not do a home study until we settled into our home later in 2018. It was also at that time that we both decided we were not completely done with our journey to having a biological child. As I have done with any other medical condition I have suffered from when I was not satisfied with a result, I decided to seek a second opinion.
After lots of research and hearing of personal success stories, we decided to switch clinics and doctors and maybe give IVF one more try.
In December of 2017 we had a consultation with our new doctor. I came fully prepared with my file from my old clinic filled with every test result, procedure, treatment and failure. I told him that my previous doctor was not prepared to change my protocol if we proceeded with further rounds of IVF. My new doctor ordered up some new tests and a procedure I had not had done before. He also reworked my protocol and suggested we include preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). Since we didn’t yield great results during our first cycle, he also suggested we try embryo banking before we sent anything off for testing.
We sat down and had a long hard talk about if we would move forward with more IVF. At this stage not only were we fully out-of-pocket, we were also emotionally drained. After weighing out the pros and cons, we decided moving forward would be the only way to properly close this chapter if we ever needed to.
2016 Michelle would have been shocked.
We proceeded to do two back-to-back egg retrieval cycles in February and March, sent all embryos collected off for PGS and then took a break. We enjoyed a lovely trip to Bahamas, I went on a girls’ trip to New York and also enjoyed my 35th birthday. We transferred a PGS normal Day 5 embryo back in June and much to our surprise, it stuck! I am currently almost 15 weeks pregnant with this precious little wonder and we also have additional frozen embryos left for future use. How we decided to proceed may not work for everyone, but looking back, I know more now than I did then and sure am glad we gave it one last shot.
If there is one thing I wish I could go back and tell my 2016 self, it would be to be more kind to myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself when things didn’t go the way they were “supposed to”. I would also tell myself to ditch all the plans. There is no planning when it comes to Assisted Fertility but again you will only learn these things as they happen. To anyone still in the wait, I see you and am here rooting for you no matter what choices you make.
By Michelle Long, A Long Road to Baby