Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Giving the Eggstraordinary Part II

This IVF cycle has proved to be full of times of celebration, drama, and unease. Things moved along beautifully for the first couple of weeks. Our egg donor made it through the follicle stimulation with no trouble and it felt so good to be able to breathe easily at every update on her progress. My body also has been holding up its end of the deal, building up a nice thick uterine lining. I also finally figured out what else to give the donor in addition to the painting I did for her. One of the reasons why we picked her in addition to her medical history, proven success in previous cycles, age, etc. was because her favorite book growing up was To Kill a Mockingbird. This is also my favorite book and so I took this as a sign that she is the one. So I got her a 50th anniversary edition copy of the book and another one that includes interviews of people who talk about how the book has impacted their lives. I also found the perfect card and thought of the perfect things to say. As I mentioned in my previous post, this gift meant so much to me and I was so relieved that I was at peace with it. I indeed had found THE gift. Or so I thought.

As seems to always happen at some point during IVF treatment, my hope and optimism came to a crashing halt. I had an appointment to check in on my uterine lining. Although it continued to look good, the ultrasound technician found a hydrosalpinx (fluid pocket) in the remaining piece of my right fallopian tube (I had it removed it 2009). This was a Saturday so we waited all day to hear from the doctor who was on call about what this might mean. After a day of overwhelming anxiety, she called and said that my doctor wanted to look at it himself and that worst case scenario I would need to have the remaining piece of tube removed or blocked before moving forward with IVF. If the fluid from the hydrosalpinx makes it into the uterus, it can impact embryo implantation. This would mean freezing the embryos and me starting all over again with a new cycle. Of course this happened on a Saturday and so we had a long wait until Monday when we were scheduled to meet with my doctor.

In the meantime, the following day was egg retrieval day. My husband went in to give his sample (in the navy room as he likes to call it ;)) and despite the news of the previous day, we were feeling excited that this was the day the embryos would begin their journey. However, again our hopefulness was bitch slapped. We got a call from one of the embryologists that they were only able to get six eggs, four of which were mature. Now, this may seem like a good number and it is if you are a typical infertility patient. However, for a donor this is a horrible number. During our donor's last cycle with another couple she had 18 mature eggs! She admitted that she had taken her trigger shot (the one that tells the follicles to release the eggs) almost three hours early the night before. They have this timed perfectly so that by retrieval time, the eggs are ready to be "harvested." Since she took the shot so early, she ovulated out most of the eggs by the time they went in to retrieve them. We were speechless. The ridiculousness of it all seemed so unfathomable.

After making it through yet another intense day, Monday came and we had our appointment with our doctor. We prepared ourselves for the worst, but surprisingly he determined that the hydrosalpinx is in such a place that there is not a threat of it making it to my uterus. We were clear for transfer on Friday. In the meantime, we prayed that we would have embryos left to transfer. With so few we were unsure if the transfer would happen despite the good news on Monday. Thankfully, we ended up with two perfect embryos and transferred those. The other two did not make it so we have none to freeze. We are in the two-week wait currently and will find out if we are pregnant next week.

Ok, now to the point of this post. Geesh. Last week was a really hard time for me regarding what happened with the donor. We took such care to choose her, each of us ranking numerous donors on our own and then coming together to discuss our top choices. I put so much care into choosing the perfect gift for her. Despite this she let us down. She took away any chance to have future siblings that share a genetic connection with one another even if they don't share one with me. She took away the beautiful story I had intended to tell my children about what an amazing person she is to have given them life. I fumed. I wanted to ask for the painting I made for her back. After a couple of days though, I decided that I could not keep up such anger, such bitterness and regret. So I decided to give her one last gift: I chose to forgive her. For the sake of my health and the babies that are hopefully rocking it out inside me, I let go. Like me and like all of us have done, she is a good person who has made a big mistake. If there is one thing that I have learned over the last year, it is that I am not perfect and that I don't need to be. As I learn to be gentler on myself, I learn to do the same for others. I was lying in bed thinking all of this through last week and as soon as I came to this decision a palpable feeling washed over me. I felt a sense of relief and I felt like a mother. What an even more beautiful story to tell our children than the one I had originally planned--another invaluable gift she is giving to all of us.