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My mini IVF cycle was really off to a great start. I responded excellent to the meds and at my first ultrasound I had 7 follicles. Even my left ovary, which tends to be sleepy, was producing well. It felt like this might be the protocol to do it. Each ultrasound was good and my follicles grew well and consistently. We got to last Thursday, did an ultrasound and labs to make the final decision of whether we would trigger on Friday or Saturday. My nurse called and based on my estrogen level it was decided that we would go one more day for optimal growth – trigger on Friday and retrieval on Sunday. I was right on schedule with my predicted calendar.

And then I got a second call late in the afternoon. Apparently they measured by LH in addition to my estrogen and to everyone’s surprise my LH was high – like ovulation peak high. Wait, what?! Despite the antagonist I was injecting daily, which blocks your brain from releasing LH, my brain decided to do it’s own thing. I was about to ovulate. Just two days before, my LH was low as they would expect. I was informed that my retrieval would be the next morning. I was stunned.

I spoke with my RE in the morning before the procedure. He said this happens in about 1% of the cases with antagonists. Of course I’m in that 1%. He told me of the one other patient he’s had where this happened. He waited 36 hours after the high LH reading to do the egg retrieval and ended up missing all the eggs because she had already ovulated. So, this time he’s doing it earlier – about 24 hours – in hopes of getting the eggs. Of course, the problem is you really don’t know when the surge began so there is guess work.

After waking from retrieval, I was informed that he got 2 eggs. I was devastated. And angry. Such great potential with this cycle – wasted. The issue wasn’t that I had already ovulated, rather my eggs weren’t fully detached from the fibers that hold them in the follicles. He scrapped, trying to release them, but only got 2. So we ended up being a little early. He told me to have sex since I have potentially 5 eggs that are about to be released, but I know that my chances for a natural conception are low, especially with my shotty fallopian tubes. We decided to not waste any time, since I don’t have much, and go straight into another stim cycle when my period starts in about 2 weeks. Is there a possibility that one of these 2 eggs could be the golden egg? Sure. But with stats like I’ve had, I’m not holding my breath.

This all feels surreal, as does most of the IVF process. How do we go from such a great start to this? Part of me is angry, but part of me just feels numb. And I go through the motions because what else am I going to do? After the epic failure of my last cycle, where none of my 9 eggs made it to blastocysts, this simply feels like par for the course. The fertilization report came the next day. One egg fertilized and is growing. In general, you’d expect a 50% drop off from fertilization to blastocyst. Humm, 50% of 1 isn’t looking too good. And if it did make it, would it be chromosomally normal? It’s a long shot. People have told me to have hope – that it only takes one. I get it, really I do. People want you to feel better. And they want to have hope too. But I’m getting tired. I had so much hope and optimism during these last 2 cycles and all the way up to retrieval on this 3rd. Each time I though that THIS was the one that would get me that baby. I really believed it. And all the hope and belief didn’t make it so.  I know I’m sounding really pessimistic here. But at some point, I feel like I have to protect myself from the pain. I don’t feel hopeless. I don’t feel like I’ve come to the end of my road. And neither does my RE. But right now, I need to feel neutral. I need to feel okay with a negative outcome so I don’t drown in it.

Today, I have no idea if this is going to work. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another baby. If my daughter will ever be the big sister that she so desperately wants to be. But I do know that at the end, whether I’m pregnant or not, I will have given it my best. I will have tried everything. And that’s the best that I can do.

For the next cycle we are going back to my original high dose protocol. It’s the same protocol that brought me my PGS normal embryo, as well as the failed cycle that ended in zero blasts. This will answer the question of whether that failed cycle was simply “a bad batch” or if it truly reflected a fast decline in my egg quality. My RE said that after 3 cycles of no good blasts, that’s when we would say that this isn’t going to work. I’ve had one cycle like that. I’m not counting this cycle that we just had, regardless of the outcome, because we were not able to do the egg retrieval at the right time. So I guess there is an end in sight. I truly hope there is a happy ending to this story. I’m not ready to think about the alternative.