Monday, April 16, 2012

A New Frontier in a Familiar Setting

It's amazing how far I've come since my last IVF cycle, and subsequent loss mid-January. I continue to meet with my Chakra Balancer/Energy Healer/Life Coach (and he is all of that and more) every other week, and have been consistently feeling not only more grounded and balanced, but also more bouyant, light, and cheerful than I have in years.  Things that would normally keep me stewing for days or weeks suddenly roll off my shoulders in a matter of hours, or worst case, a day.  I know this sounds corny, but find myself appreciating things like the beautiful blooms on the trees in a way that I haven't in years.  I've been getting outside to exercise much more, taking long walks in my neighborhood in the evenings; inhaling the crisp air and letting it wash through me - being present.  I certainly don't want to give the impression that I have turned into a Pollyannaesque robot, I still feel every emotion, the negative as well as the positive, but the negative doesn't seem to linger as long, and the positive lingers much longer than it had been.  The joy that I have been able to harness these last couple of months has allowed me to appreciate what I have so much more than I had been, and it feels wonderful to be able to do that.

About a month or so into my energy healing work, I began to feel that I was ready to begin working with R to take the next step forward in adding to our family.  We met with my RE in February, and the conversation went just as we expected - this cycle was not pretty, and it was less pretty than the one we did the prior year - it's pretty aparent that doing another IVF cycle with my eggs is very unlikely to produce a different outcome.  The early miscarriage indicates an egg quality issue, and the poor embryo quality really predicted that.  She recommended moving to donor egg or adoption as our next step.  R and I had been talking about our options if we decided to move to DE, we felt that it would be wise for us to leave GW and move back to Shady Grove Fertilty Center, the place where we first began our journey. We knew that they had a pretty big donor progam and had some shared risk and financing options.  Although our outcome with IVF was not positive there, we really did love our RE, and agreed that we would be comfortable returning if need be.  We talked about this with our RE at GW; she agreed that their donor program is much smaller and does not offer the same shared risk or shared donor options that we could find at SGFC.  She was very supportive of a potential move for us, and that made us feel good. 

I soon learned one of the reasons why my RE was so supportive of a potential move for us.  I am not sure if I mentioned that she and I shared a connection - I worked very closely with her husband, who was the Chief Medical Officer of the health care system that I work for.  I knew my RE before I knew him - as I was seeing her before I started my current job.  But this connection made the bond I had with her even stronger, and I had a relationship with her that gave me much greater access to her than her other patients had.  I found out two days after our WTF appointment that my RE's husband took an incredible job in St. Louis - which means my RE is moving too.  This information made our decision much easier, we soon made an appointment with our old RE (Dr. C) back at SGFC.

I won't go into too much detail about our appointment, I thought it was going to be difficult to walk back into that office, but it really felt like a new beginning.  Dr. C remembered us and was thrilled to learn that we had a beautiful, healthy 2 year old - conceived miraculously on our own, after so many failures.  He looked at our records and agreed that we were perfect candidates for their donor program (really, what was he going to say? After 7 IVF's, I think you should go for another?), and gave us an overview of their program.  Of course their stats and beautiful charts impressed us, just as their IVF stats did back in 2006 - so I had to check my emotions and remember that not every DE recipient is created equal, just like not every IVF patient is created equal.  But we did come away from our appointment with a sense of hope that we hadn't felt in awhile.  We even learned about the great shared risk and shared donor options that would help make the process more economical, although we did agree that we'd need to finance a large portion of it, which was a bit scary at first. The best news of all, was that we were able to bypass all of the preliminary testing that patients need to undergo before starting the process, as we had completed all of them prior to our most recent IVF cycle (including the dreaded HSG).  We were able to proceed directly to the mock cycle, the step immediately prior to selecting a donor.

The next several weeks were filled with introductions to my donor team, and starting the mock cycle, which consisted of taking estrogen injections in order to build up my uterine lining.  After 2 weeks of injections, I went in for bloodwork and ultrasound, where I learned that my lining responded really well to the injections, and I was given the all clear to move ahead.  We couldn't have been more thrilled - in theory, this means that if the right embryo is placed into my uterus, it will implant.  We all know that everything always looks great on paper, so who knows what will really happen, but it definitely was encouraging news.

Today we received the access code that DE patients receive in order to access the donor database.  There are currently only a few donoros who are slated as 1:3 donors - one donor to 3 recipients, which we have decided to do.  We took a look at the database and weren't blown away by anyone just yet - I guess I thought I would go onto the database and we'd fall in love with someone immediately and want to select right away, but clearly that is not how it's going to work, and that is o.k.  We want to take our time and make sure we are comfortable with whomever we select.  It's definitely an interesting process - the donors provide baby pictures, some also provide adult pictures, and they complete an extensive survey about their family, medical, social and educational histories.  I think this will be just like everything else - we'll know when it's right, even if we have to wait a few weeks until the right donor is available.

I do plan on posting more often as we get further into the process, there are so many details that we have to get through once we pick a donor.  With a 1:3 match a lot of coordinating has to take place, and depending on your "position" as a recipient, there is a chance your cycle could get cancelled if the donor doesn't produce enough quality eggs.  One donor and 3 recipients means coordinating 4 womens' cycles, which I'm told is not as complicated (or as lengthy of a process) as it seems to me.  One thing is for certain - we know we need to be patient, as this new frontier could lead us through some bumpy terrain, but hopefully will ultimately lead us to our new little bundle.