The failed IVF#3 (2nd fresh cycle) left me at an all-time low. Devastated that it didn’t work. Worried about embryo quality issues and possible egg quality issues. Emotionally tired of having my hopes up only to be let down once again. Sick of being “unexplained”. I wanted to know why. Why am I different? What is it that is making me different? If people can innocuously get knocked up after a careless one-night stand, why can’t a handful of fertility specialists, a couple of embryologists, and a team of nurses seem to get AND keep me knocked up?! There has. to. be. a reason for this. And I want answers. I refuse to continue thinking that it is purely statistics, and I just happen to be the odd coin that falls on the wrong side every. single. time. And answers I got!!
A lot has happened between now and then. More doc appts. Lots of B/W (I think I set a record here; more on this later). Another SIS (just for good measure).
At my follow-up WTF appt after IVF#3, the verdict he gave was that there might be a possible egg quality issue because my embryos this time were of significantly lower quality than my first fresh cycle. Apparently they had a lot of vacuoles (sp?). I just lost it as soon as he said egg quality issue. I freaked out. And then I got blamed by my doc for having a glass-half-empty view. His point was I got pregnant once and so I look at it in a positive light and hence should be optimistic. My point is that I miscarried. There is no benefit to getting all hopeful abt it when you know it didn’t end well. I urged him to do more testing. I had been reading a book called “Is your body baby friendly?” by Alan E. Beer. In that book, the author talks about some controversial tests and treatments that have helped long-time infertiles go on to deliver beautiful babies. The author’s focus is on research in regards to immunology testing and how the immune system might be affecting women trying to conceive. So, I wanted to be tested for that. My doc was very open to talking abt the research indicated by the book and talked about the controversies surrounding it. He agreed to run a boatload of tests – both to check my immune system as well any tests that might put me at a higher miscarriage risk. As he kept jotting down the tests he wanted to run, he asked me something along the lines of “Are you sure? These are a lot of tests”. I was like “Yeah.. bring it on.” Little did I know what I was signing up for. He also wanted to do a saline ultrasound (SIS) to make sure that my uterine cavity was clear and that there weren’t any “products of conception” hanging around from my last pregnancy. My attitude was simple “I don’t care… do all the testing you want to do!”.
Of course all this needs to be done on CD3. Wait a couple of weeks, go in, hop on the table for a quick SIS, cavity clear, get out, get to the blood draw station where my fav RN was waiting for me, and was greeted with this…
Yup… 16 tubes total!!! Here are the after shots…
I was totally white in the face and dizzy at the end of this. I was so proud of my tiny vein!!! :) I set a record at my clinic for having the most number of tubes drawn at once. The most they had ever drawn was 12. I was dizzily happy with my new title. :) I will list out what the actual tests were in a later post.
But what came out of this was very interesting!! Out of the 16 tests, 4 turned out to be abnormal.
1) Both my thyroid antibodies are extremely high. This is not the regular thyroid (TSH) test. My TSH is however normal. I therefore probably have subclinical hypothyroidism. In plain english, the antibodies are eating my thyroid and hence my gland is overtaxed trying to keep the thyroid levels normal. In later years, I am at risk for thyroid failure and I would most probably have to take thyroid supplements to function properly. What does this mean to fertility? There are a bunch of papers linking increased levels of thyroid antibodies to a higher miscarriage rate. The thinking is that during the first trimester, the mother’s thyroid works overtime to produce enough thryroid for the fetus as well. The baby’s thyroid gland kicks in during the second trimester and relieves the mom’s gland. Given that my thyroid gland is overtaxed to begin with, it cannot handle the demands of a pregnancy and hence fails to produce enough thyroid for both the mom and the baby, thereby leading to a miscarriage. There was even one paper that talked about how high antibodies could cause IVF failure as well. Bad! V. Bad!
2) My antithrombin levels are too low. I haven’t started my in-depth research on this yet. This, my doc believes is the more serious one. Low antithrombin levels lead to blood clots. And we all know how blood clots and miscarriages go hand-in-hand. Given that I have a family history of heart disease, I am scheduled to see a hemotologist on this one before I can start another IVF cycle. And thats not until the 21st of next month! Sigh!!
3) I have inherited one of the genes for MTHFR. I don’t know much abt this either. The only thing I know is that the solution to this is to take more folic acid/B supplements.
There you go… Even though technically I still fall under the “unexplained” category, I kinda sorta know why! Sorry that this has been a boring (and long) history of some sorts. Next time, I promise to write abt more interesting stuff. Some teasers… my MIL is in town, and I bought a sewing machine!