Originally posted on my Tumblr Blog on Nov 11, 2010 8:39pm
Today is Thursday, a day in between two of doctors appointments. I have gone to PRC on Monday and Wednesday for blood tests (to check my E2 levels) and ultrasounds (to monitor the thickness of my endometrial lining and the development of the follicles which will eventually turn into eggs in my ovaries). As of yesterday's appointment, I have 7 follicles in each ovary, but I'm not sure on how many are the size that the doctors want them to be already.
Honestly, this is one of the times when I'm actually thankful that I am such a neurotic control freak. During these past few appointments, no one has really explained to us the who's and why's and how's of each test and who is administering it. It has only been through a process of internet research and meticulously going through all our paperwork that John and I have been able to fill in the blanks.
Hence, here's what we found (including some things we already knew):
Currently, we are using two FSH products (follicle stimulating hormone) to stimulate development of multiple eggs: Gonal-F and Menopur. The ovaries are stimulated with injectable FSH medications for about 7-12 days until multiple mature size follicles have developed (Today, Thursday the 11th is our 7th day). Estradiol (E2) hormone blood levels are monitored via blood test and are usually 60 ph/ml (don't ask me to translate that -- I don't know) at baseline (before hormones are injected) and rise significantly as the multiple follicles develop. On Monday's blood test, my E2 level was 244 and as of yesterday it was 596. You don't have to be a doctor to see that they are rising significantly and I am curious to see what they will be like tomorrow because tomorrow's appointment will determine how much longer I will need to be taking the Gonal-F and Menopur and essentially, when we will be doing the egg retrieval next week and when the transfer will be. Also, as far as I know I have at least one follicle that is 16 mm as of yesterday, and ideally, there would be several around that size (13-20 mm). I know there is more, but I was able to sneak a picture of only one:
Towards the center right of the picture, you can see the doctor labeled one of the follicles and evidently, this one is 16 cm, which I assume is one of the follicles getting ready for maturity for next week's extraction.
The goal of having my body produce several follicles (as opposed to only one per month) is to produce several good "candidates" to be transferred. The more follicles, the better the chances. Even though we are only going to be eventually transferring two fertilized eggs in me (no Octomom here), we want as many "options" to choose from. Obviously, the more the healthy and quality eggs, the better our chances for a successful IVF cycle.
Thus far, we have at least a few things going for us: (1.) We are both healthy. This means there is no defect in either one of our reproductive systems that would cause us to be infertile. The reason we have not conceived is because of John's vasectomy 10 years ago. And no, reversal is not an option because not only are the chances of pregnancy low after a reversal, but they decrease to a percentage of about slim to none for success rate of pregnancy after 8 years. (2.) My body has been responding well to the medications and hormones. (3.) Probably the biggest factor: my age. Being under 35 years old poses significant advantages for women who want to conceive. I found this chart on the website I've been using for my research (the link to it is at the very bottom of this post):
This chart is from a different fertility specialist's website, but I gather that the statistics are fairly similar across the board.
63.5% is a good percentage of success and pregnancy, although it is not the most comforting either. If one were to go just by numbers, it's a little unsettling. A leftover 37.5% is still a big chance of failure.
This is where faith comes in. I think that 37.5% is given success to us by sheer faith. John and I have been praying ever-so-fervently, not only for happy, healthy, and normal twin girls, but also for the patience and strength to go through this process of IVF as well as pregnancy and parenthood. We have been doing a novena to St. Anne, who is the patron saint of motherhood, grandmothers, and fertility. St. Anne was the mother of The Holy Mother. For those who are not Catholic, we do not "worship" anyone but God. We do not "worship" the Holy Mother, St. Anne, or any other saint; rather, we praise them and ask them to intercede and help us pray to Jesus, to God. Prayers still go directly to the same one God, but just with the help of someone up there -- kinda like someone putting in a good word for you. Our novena to ask St. Anne for help praying is the same as you, my wonderful readers, are hopefully helping us pray to God to grant us our intentions as well. That being said, both John and I thank you ALL for continuing to read the blog and for giving us both support and for your collective prayers in helping us achieve our special intention. We firmly believe that outside of faith, we would be nowhere.
After my appointment tomorrow, we will find out if we have another checkup on Saturday and when we will be doing the "big" procedures of our IVF cycle next week -- egg & sperm retrieval and the transfer day. Please continue your prayers with us and for us. Will be posting again hopefully this weekend.