Although we anticipated a better outcome with three blastocysts (cycle 2) than with one (cycle 1), we were aware that it was highly unlikely that all three blastocysts would come back normal. Even if they did, we know that a euploid embryo does not guarantee a live birth of a healthy baby. (Spoiler alert: absolutely nothing is a sure bet!) As we waited, my mind was already looking toward my next menstrual cycle and what action we were going to take.
I talked with our RE on Thursday about next steps. He said he was hoping for one to two normal embryos from our second retrieval, which was what I had calculated as well--hoping for two but trying not to be greedy. My main question was if there would be any reason not to go forward with a third retrieval. Medically speaking, my RE said that back-to-back-to-back cycles are fine. Richard and I had discussed taking a break, but I have found myself so panicked about my eggs running out and wanting to have the best/youngest embryos possible that I want to pull a Michael Jackson and "don't stop 'til [I] get enough" eggs. As with many of my thoughts in this process, my thinking isn't quite right because (1) this isn't exactly how diminished ovarian reserve works, and (2) we still don't really know what "enough" is until we transfer an embryo and see if I have a successful pregnancy.
Our RE did mention that once we had a few embryos in the freezer, we could try intrauterine insemination (IUI) to see if I can conceive that way before we tap into our supply of frozen embryos. I hadn't considered that possibility, but it has several benefits, including being more affordable (no costs for retrieving eggs, watching them in the lab, testing, etc.) and less invasive. He also suggested that we could try to conceive naturally for a few months if we wanted. I think I might've actually laughed out loud at that suggestion; as delightful as the 36 cycles of trying and having no success were, I'm not sure that's a path I want to revisit before we attempt a transfer.
After consulting with Richard, we decided to go ahead with a third cycle and (hopefully!--nothing is guaranteed) retrieval this month. The instructions were the same as they always are: call on cycle day 1-ish, come in for ultrasound and labs on cycle day 3-ish. I went Monday (which was CD 4) for my ultrasound and bloodwork, and I had one follicle already trying to grow--13 mm! Instead of the five or six days of birth control that I had in the first two cycles, I have nine days this time around. Hopefully, that will be sufficient to suppress my rogue follicle. We go back for an ultrasound and bloodwork next Thursday (May 20); if everything is looking good, we'll start Lupron on the 21st and full stims on the 23rd.
All of that took place on Monday. I received a call from my RE yesterday (Tuesday) after work that two of our three embryos came back euploid/normal, which was fantastic news! He had received the report and wanted to call and let me know immediately. He also told me the nurse would probably call in the morning, so I could either act surprised or let her know I'd already heard the news. I opted to act surprised since the nurses have to deliver bad news, but my RE said that he is the one to deliver bad news. I said I would still pretend.
When the nurse called this morning, she knew I'd already spoken to my RE but played along with our charade anyway. She asked if I had any questions, so I asked about our third blastocyst--another highly aneuploid (40 to 80 percent of cells abnormal) in the freezer. She also said we could find out the genders of our euploid embryos, but Richard and I have decided we don't want to know.
With all of these latest updates, we are feeling better about our situation and are ready for another (potentially final) IVF cycle. Although nothing is guaranteed, this feels like we've overcome some major hurdles. I ordered our medications today, so cycle 3 is getting real!
Something that made today great: The [in-person] Junior League General Membership Meeting tonight was great fun!
Time I woke up: 7:20 am