My IVF Pregnancy Journey Part 6
The Flu Caught Us
Our scheduled appointment with our fertility doctor was on the 2nd of May 2019 at 11:30 AM. John and I were terribly sick with the flu. John got sick first, probably he got it from their Greek Orthodox church either during their Easter Sunday liturgy (which was on the 28th of April), or when he went to the funeral a few days before that.
At that time, it was the flu season but I still had not had the flu vaccine yet because it was not available at the school where I work. Teachers and staff members get the vaccine for free, all paid for by the school. However, two days later after John got sick, I fell ill. I was shivering and had body aches, a temperature of over 38oC, and a terrible dry cough. John and I self-medicated with cold and flu tablets and paracetamol.
We thought of cancelling our appointment with the specialist the day before, but John said we should still go and he would be fine to drive. My mother-in-law also was sick at that time but was already recovering from the flu. She came with us on this trip.
It was very reckless of us to travel despite our illness. Had it happened this year, we would have to stay home until all flu-like symptoms were gone before we could see a doctor. Or had it happened this year and we still went, they would have to check our temperatures before we could enter their clinic. They would find out we had a high fever and a dry cough, and they would not let us in. They might also tell us off for not cancelling the appointment.
The Second Consultation with the Specialist
Despite all that, we still travelled. We arrived at the clinic early, and again, I was starving because I had not eaten breakfast yet. I didn't have the appetite to eat though. My body was so sore and I just didn't feel well at all.
I could see that my husband's face was very pale, and I was afraid that they would have noticed that. The doctor didn't even notice that we were sick. He just proceeded to evaluate all the test results. By that time, he had already received John's sperm test result. The doctor said that John's lab result was great - no problem at all with his SPERM COUNT, MOTILITY AND MORPHOLOGY - to which he concluded that the problem was that I was not ovulating on a regular basis.
All my test results came back normal, so I did fall on the category of unexplained infertility. The fertility specialist could only suspect that I had a problem with my ovulation, that it wasn't regular, even though I still had a good ovarian reserve considering my age and even if I had a regular menstrual cycle.
So with all these lab test results, the doctor explained the fertility treatments that we could undergo, but because of my age and that the time was not on my side, he strongly recommended that we undergo the In-Vitro Fertilisation treatment and procedures.
The Fertility Treatment Options:
1. Ovulation Induction (OI)
The fertility specialist said that because I had a problem with my ovulation, that it wasn't on a regular basis, and since my husband didn't have any semen abnormality and that my fallopian tubes were normally functioning, then he could recommend that I undergo Ovulation Induction therapy. It will just involve taking the tablets (which I believe he was referring to Clomid) or using the injections that will help stimulate the development of eggs in my ovaries and then released on a certain time and date. With this treatment, I will be monitored using ultrasound scans and blood tests to check how my body has responded to the medications. Then, of course, our sexual intercourse will then be planned.
However, there are factors that play a significant role in determining the success of Ovulation Induction therapy. I may not respond well to the medications and if this happens, then the cycle will be cancelled and I have to wait for another cycle to begin the treatment again. There is also a higher risk of multiple pregnancies, which pose a higher risk of complications. The ultrasound scans will determine if I produce more than two mature follicles during that cycle, and so my husband and I will be advised against having intercourse.
2. In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
This treatment involves the process of stimulating my ovaries to produce multiple eggs by the use of certain medications. This can be checked through ultrasound scans and blood tests to determine when the eggs will be ready to be removed from my ovaries through a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval or egg collection. The eggs will then be combined with my husband's sperm in a culture dish outside the body in the clinic's IVF laboratory. The lab technicians will then culture the specimen for a few days to allow the fertilisation to occur until the fertilised eggs become an embryo. Once it is ready, then it will be transferred into my uterus.
Our fertility doctor strongly recommended that we undergo IVF treatment because of my age. He highlighted the fact that TIME WAS NOT ON OUR SIDE. I was already 36 years old, and this treatment might take months and there's always that 50/50 chance of success at the first attempt, or in every attempt. When it is not successful, then we will have to wait for another cycle again. The IVF cycle lasts approximately 4 weeks, which starts from the time I will start the medication up to the time I will take the pregnancy test if assuming there is a success or menstrual period in case the cycle is unsuccessful.
Which Treatment to Choose Then?
Our doctor continued to explain the difference between the two treatments. Both treatments would not guarantee 100% success, and it is entirely up to us what we would decide. There's also the cost involved. Ovulation Induction therapy is way cheaper than the IVF, so there's that cost factor that we also had to consider.
Right then and there, I wanted to decide to opt for IVF straight away, but John still had reservations. I guess he was looking at the cost and risk involved in the IVF procedure. With Ovulation Induction, I would not need to undergo any surgical procedure and it is also like trying to get pregnant the natural way. It's just that I would have to take medication to ensure that I would ovulate in a cycle and that we would have intercourse at the right time. Still, no guarantee of success.
The IVF treatment doesn't guarantee success as well. But I agreed with what the doctor was telling us. Time was not on our side. I was already over 35 years old. Who knows when I would get pregnant.
The doctor wanted us to think about our decision for one more month. He gave us some consent forms that we had to read thoroughly at home, and when we come back, if John and I had arrived at a mutual decision, then we would sign the consent forms in front of the doctor. The forms were:
Consent form for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) / Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and Fresh Embryo Transfer
-- that we will be consenting to stimulated cycles of IVF treatment and with this treatment, there are risks and complications that may occur, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome; infection, bleeding, and failure to retrieve any egg cells; oocytes and embryos may be damaged during handling, culture, cryopreservation and thawing; ectopic pregnancy; and multiple pregnancy and the associated risks.
Storage Agreement for Reproductive Material (semen, oocytes, and embryos)
-- that we will be consenting to the storage of the RM for a period of 10 years, storage fee, disposal or transportation of the RM, and in case of separation, divorce, death or revocation of either one of us, if we consent each other to use the stored RM however we wish.
Consent form for Frozen Cycle
-- that we will be consenting to the fact that we may not get the expected result even though the treatment is carried out and that there are risks involved in each procedure; also, another medical practitioner other than our fertility doctor may perform the treatment.
Informed Financial Consent of Hospital Costs
Our next appointment date was then scheduled on the 21st of June 2019. By this time, we should have arrived at a mutual agreement of what treatment we would opt for. We were given over a month to think about it. My mind was already made up. John was still undecided at this stage.
We left the clinic and straight away drove to the nearest cafe to buy something to eat as we were all starving. After our lunch, we drove back home for 4 and a half hours. My illness progressed and I got even more sick later that night. I phoned my Director and informed her that I would not be able to go to work the following day. She could tell that my voice sounded terrible.
I went to see my G.P. the next day and she ordered that I take the nasal swab test, which I did. The result came back two days later and it confirmed that I contracted Influenza A. John and my mother-in-law both took the nasal swab test as well. We all had Influenza A but we still travelled despite suspecting we might be contagious. Never again that we will ever do that. The coronavirus pandemic, somehow, has made some people make wiser choices.
That second visit with the fertility specialist, though, had given us in-depth information of what we were about to experience in the next few months.