Saturday, April 24, 2010

"The Old Gray Mare, she ain’t what she used to be"

The fertility clinic this morning was torture. It was mobbed. I sat and watched the faces of the couples in the room. Most looked very serious, almost angry. The stress was clearly having an impact on them. As women came and went for their blood work and then their ultrasound, I saw distinctly unhappy faces leaving the clinic. I also saw one very happy couple, one can assume their ultrasound went well. Now I cannot pretend to think I know what is going on with these women based on their facial expressions; but the nervous energy was palpable. One couple had struck up a conversation with two women (sisters? lesbian couple? not sure), and as they swapped stories the laughter was almost manic. The kind of laugh that is just a little too loud and bordering on hysterical. You could see they really enjoyed conversing about a topic that the other couple completely understood. For those who have not experienced infertility and the IVF journey, it’s a foreign world and hard to relate.

I figured hubby and son could stay in the waiting room while I quickly got my ultrasound. Was I wrong. The three of us had to sit in one of the conference rooms, and thanks to the iPad my son was kept occupied. Occupied or not, he is still a child and his internal volume button is set to 8. I was embarrassed to have him in a fertility clinic for obvious reasons and kept shushing him. Poor kid, he had no idea how stressed I was. It took an hour and 20 mins just to have my blood work done. Pointless, when the ultrasound was the deciding factor. Finally I was called in, stripped the lower half again. Sat in the cupboard of a room, and was quiet in my thoughts.

I was called into the ultrasound room by John Wayne. “Whatcha waiting for pilgrim?” The doctor this time was an older yet handsome rugged man, whose voice was deep and gruff. In my head he was John Wayne. “Saddle on up to those stirrups, little lady”. He struck me as the perfect John Wayne type, and visualized him hopping on his horse and riding into the sunset. But back at the task at hand. I was unceremoniously "magic wanded” to see if anything had changed in my ovaries. Unfortunately, not enough. I had one fully matured egg, with 2 that were slightly behind, and 3 that were too small/immature. The doctor seemed genuinely perplexed as he flipped through my file. Seems on a previous ultrasound prior to the treatment, I was naturally producing 10 follicles, yet with all the stimulating drugs, I could barely get 3 off the ground. He was very honest and said that he did not want us wasting our money by going forward, given the low chance of any of these developing. He said they could not possibly “grow up” the other follicles in time to catch up with the one big matured egg. I guess once it completely matures, the egg just releases and everything else left in the ovary stops growing.

The doctor said he would discuss my file with my own doctor, and in a week after he returned we should make an appointment for a debrief. He believed maybe this was the wrong protocol and maybe a different protocol would be suggested for us (a different concoction of hormones). It bothers me somewhat, that if I was suppose to be on the most aggressive formula of hormones, how could another option work? Are they just guessing? It would seem so, this is a very young science and no two women respond the same way to hormones. He said that we should end this treatment now, and save our money should we decide to go with another protocol.

Before we wrapped up our conversation, I asked if this low a follicle count was due to just this particular month (follicle counts do fluctuate month by month) or my age. He said in all likelihood it was due to my age. 40 is NOT the new 30 when it comes to fertility. Based on another previous ultrasound at another fertility clinic, I knew my follicles were dropping dramatically. I am feeling my age more now than ever. I believe my age has failed us in this journey.

We will book an appointment with our doctor in the next week, but until then I feel like I am in suspended animation. My calendar is WIDE open right now, as next week was suppose to be our retrieval. No shots this morning, and I am not sitting here icing up my tummy right about now either. This old horse feels a little lost, like I have been led to pasture, when I still think I can run.

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