Two failed FETs. We’ve gone through three embryos in two FETs (one didn’t survive the thaw). As far as I’m concerned, I should be pregnant by now, and I’m not. After everything I’ve been through, it seemed like removing my DNA from the equation would be the solution. I’ve learnt it’s not that simple.
I haven’t been happy with my clinic for a long time, so I arranged a consultation with another RE to get a second opinion.
I had a list of questions. With my history of endometriosis and eczema, I wanted to talk about an immune protocol, including the e-tegrity test. With a history of villitis and caesarean, I wanted to discuss doing a hysteroscopy + biopsy to test for endometritis. Nonetheless, as someone who has had no problem getting pregnant in the past (even spontaneously with my own fucked up eggs), two failed FETs had me researching hormone levels and comparing my blood test results. Would it be worth modifying the medication protocol?
As usual, I assumed the problem lay with me — until I heard from multiple people who have had at least two failed FETs at my clinic. The consensus is that my clinic’s freezing technique is bad, and that they changed their technique in 2014, the year I cycled. Vitrification (or ‘flash freezing’) is cutting edge technology—but just because a clinic flash-freezes embryos doesn’t mean they do it well. Done well, pregnancy outcomes are higher; done badly, embryos can be damaged and won’t implant.
Also of great concern to me is that my donor consistently produced 40+ mature eggs for multiple families. I recently learned that she was cycling again for a sibling cycle. It seems crazy to me that one other family is having problems having a sibling given the number of embryos she presumably helped create. To be fair, I know nothing about why that family either didn’t have enough embryos to have a successful sibling pregnancy, but it reinforced the idea that we needed to discuss post-thaw embryo quality with our clinic.
My second opinion consultation was the day before my WTF appointment. Both REs said the same thing:
“[Given that getting pregnant hasn’t been an issue and that you have euploid embryos] it is very surprising that you are not pregnant within two cycles, which leads us to two possibilities: post-thaw embryo quality and/or uterine quality.”
The second-opinion-RE suggested that embryo quality is an issue due to freezing technique; my RE is not concerned because both transferred embryos had a post-thaw grading of ‘excellent’—which would suggest that they haven’t been damaged. We have 5 left, and will hopefully be pregnant before we go through them all.
If the embryos are damaged, there’s nothing that can be done to fix them. A damaged embryo won’t implant, which means we’d have to go back to the drawing board in terms of how we add to our family. This is a downside to relying on a third person’s gametes—it’s not like IVF with my own eggs is an option.
But we are going to proceed with the assumption that the embryos are not damaged. Our new plan is to do a hysteroscopy + biopsy to test for inflammation (endometritis) or other problem (retained placenta, polyps, or something that wouldn’t be see on an SHG) which would explain why the embryos didn’t implant. Even if the endometritis results come back as negative, I will still go on a two-week course of antibiotics in case it’s a false negative result.
Then we’ll jump right in with a new cycle, this time adding Lupron. As I have endometriosis, it’s possible I don’t have a beta-3 protein which is essential for implantation—the treatment for which is a course of Lupron. I could spend $600+ dollars on a biopsy called E-tegrity, or we could just give me the damn Lupron. Given that I took it for two weeks in the cycle that resulted in V, it’s possible that even that short course helped somehow. Plus, it’s the one variable from the successful cycle that hasn’t been repeated in the FETs.
I have a consultation scheduled with my OB on March 9th to schedule the hysteroscopy. Hopefully an appointment will open up before then, and hopefully I can be booked for the hysteroscopy shortly thereafter. Once the biopsy results are back, I’ll jump on the Lupron and we’ll cycle from there. I’m guessing this will be April…
We came away feeling much better than when we went in, but time will tell. I just hope my embryos are okay. Cycling with a new donor isn’t financially possible.
I’m also really bummed out by all of these delays because I weaned V before she and I were ready. If FET3 works, great. If it doesn’t, and if we go through all our embryos, then weaning her prematurely (yes, even at almost-2, it felt premature) will be one of the biggest regrets of my life.
But, onwards. One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time.