Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Big Fat Positives
First BPF ever at age 40 thanks to IVF-FET
Hi everyone! Some of you may know me already. I'm Adventurer from the TTC boards. I started my journey a little over a year ago when I had just turned 39. I had never been pregnant (but also never tried). Since I met my DF later in life, we decided to go straight to a fertility clinic to get (me) checked out due to my age. It's a good thing I did because my first AMH done to assess ovarian reserve put me in the low fertility category (not that I was that surprised given my age). It was 12.7 pmol/L (in Canadian units) and 1.8 pg/ml (in American units). I had a total of 7 antral follicles, 4 on my right ovary and 3 on my left ovary. My initial FSH was 8.3 so in normal range. My day 3 LH and other tests were within normal except for my TSH which was a bit high at 5.43 so my RE put me on a very low dose of thyroid supplementation which corrected me to between 1.0-2.0. DF's SA was normal with 5% normal morphology (greater than 4% is considered fine). In the interests of time and maximizing chances, we decided to proceed straight to IVF.
Since my SHG revealed a polyp, I underwent a hysterscopic polypectomy. My RE insisted we wait 2 months before doing IVF so we did an IUI with few expectations since this is not the way to manage a 39 year old with slightly diminished ovarian reserve! But we thought, what the heck - you never know. Well, it turned out as expected - BFN. So on to IVF.
IVF Cycle #1 for a freeze all was in February of this year and the results were ok. FSH had climbed to 11.1 which is borderline high meaning I was edging towards premenopause faster than initially believed. On an antagonist protocol with 225 units Gonal F and 75 units Menopur, we got 7 eggs retrieved, 5 fertilized by ICSI and 4 blasts which were biopsied for PGS and were a disaster because we only got results on one out of 4! The one was abnormal. What a waste of $$ but I will not discuss this part further.
IVF Cycle #2 was in April and by this time I had been on vitamins and supplements including DHEA, ubiquinol, vit B6, vit D, vit E and royal jelly for at least a month. Plus, in mid March I began doing weekly acupuncture for the first time and starting drinking Chinese medicinal tea. I swear the acupuncture made a difference because my antral follicle count for April cycle was 16 (8 on right and 8 on left)!!! I couldn't believe it. Again on antagonist protocol (this time I insisted on starting Cetrotide on same day as stims even knowing it may slow growth) using 300 units Gonal F and 37.5 units Menopur, we got 19 eggs, 16 mature, 13 fertilized and 5 blasts for freezing. No transfer. We did not opt for the PGS this time.
IVF cycle #3 was in June and AFC count was 12 (6 on both sides). I had asked for my AMH to be repeated fearing that 2 IVF cycles would have depleted my egg supply but to my astonishment it came back in the normal range, almost double my initial AMH: 23.4 pmol/L or 3.3 ng/ml!! I almost entirely credit this to acupuncture but that's just my feeling. I'm sure the vitamins and supplements helped too, particularly vit. D. On the same protocol as in April, we got 16 eggs, 14 mature, 10 fertilized and 4 blasts frozen. No transfer again. They triggered me a day too late and I lost at least 2 of my leader follies (those eggs degenerated).
By this time, my plan was to do 4 IVF cycles and then start transferring and then saying that's all she wrote. For our last IVF cycle, we decided to try Dr. Sher's agonist/antagonist conversion protocol despite my decent AMH and after consultation with him, he agreed. So in August, we flew to Las Vegas for a couple weeks to do this protocol. Most of the stims were done at home and then we flew to Vegas for stim day 8. I couldn't believe the response (and the lack of monitoring - they didn't even do FSH, LH, progesterone at ANY time during the cycle!). Unlike my local clinic, Dr. Sher saw me at day 9 stims and I was told I would not need any more monitoring and that I would be triggering the day after!? This approach was completely new to me. Anyhow, I kept the faith and did exactly what I was told. I became a believer when I was promptly awoken out of anesthesia when I heard that I got 33 eggs!!! Wha???? 25 mature??? (2 more matured in the dish) 22 fertilized with ICSI and we got a whopping 12 blasts! I was in disbelief. Well at day 5 we transferred 2 grade 2 blastocysts (according to Dr. Sher's clinic, grade 1 and grade 2 blasts have the same pregnancy rate. Anyhow, that cycle turned out negative as both my betas were <1. I was disappointed but buoyed by the fact that I had an unbelievable 10 snowbabies and this time we could do PGS with a RELIABLE LAB which was experienced during PGS biopsies. Please note that this is KEY. We did something called metaphase comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) which is different than the array CGH which is much more common. Our biopsies had to be sent to urky and we waited a month for results. But it was worth it because we got 5 normals! Err, one was transferred during the August cycle and it did absolutely nada but at least we had 4 left! I was over the moon but terrified still knowing that our normal embryo failed to implant.
Fast forward to November when I returned to Vegas for my frozen embryo transfer. So much easier than a fresh cycle! We transferred on November 14 a single grade 2 day 5 embryo and lo and behold, at 5dp5dt PM, I got my very first BFP of my life!! At 40!!
It's still very early days yet. Today, I'm 4 weeks 3 days pregnant so definitely far from being out of the woods. But my 8dp5dt beta was 134 while yesterday's 10dp5dt was 383. Nice and solid betas so I'm about as happy as I can let myself be right now! :) I have to wait till 7 weeks for my first ultrasound and then my second one will be at 10 weeks if I'm lucky enough to make it that far!
I consider myself very lucky to have gotten a BFP with my second transfer (first FET) but the PGS definitely helped prevent putting back blasts which would have never taken regardless. I am hoping to spread as much baby dust around as possible and ask for sticky vibes for this precious IVF miracle.
If you've read until the end, then I salute you LOL! Tons and tons of baby dust to all TTC!
PS. I think I'll post about my TWW in a comment since this was so long already!