I was undecided as to whether or not I should continue this blog, since its main focus was on our struggle with infertility. Speaking from personal experience, I know that it really helped to read the IF blogs of other women and know that I wasn't alone. I learned so much, shed so many tears, and smiled so many times just reading about what these brave women had gone through. I can only hope that my blog has touched others who are struggling as much. But would it be insensitive to now carry on, blogging about my pregnancy? I'm torn - the jury's out on that one. All I know is that without this blog as a medium for all of my thoughts, and without the support of the people who have read it, the battle would have been much, much more difficult.
I can't believe that I am only a week away from being done with the first trimester of pregnancy! It has been such an amazing time so far - but only because I have been blessed not to have any morning sickness at all. I almost feel guilty saying that out loud. At first, I was desperate to have it - in my heart, I thought that that was the only way I could know for sure that this pregnancy was going to be a healthy one. But as time passed, I got used to not feeling sick - and instead, took it as a sign that my energies were better spent enjoying the pregnancy everyday, not worrying about my lack of symptoms.
It was my intention, earlier on, to write about what I feel made the difference this past cycle...what was it that got us to this place? So many things played a positive factor - and I wanted to share some of them in hopes that it may help others. So...here it goes...apologies in advance for the long post...
The Fertility Clinic - DH and I had the good fortune of working with one of the top fertility clinics in the country. According to the 2007 Canadian ART registry, Regional Fertility Program in Calgary boasted a 51% success rate, as compared to an average of 35% success rate from all other Canadian IVF centres. The best part of it was that we got to work with Foothills by default - they are the only clinic in Calgary, and as such the first clinic that we got referred to by my family physician. Call it geographical luck.
Now, don't get me wrong - this clinic wasn't perfect and we definitely had our trials and tribulations with them. From unanswered telephones to rude nurses to missed ovulations to missing files to a skeptical RE, the clinic tested our patience many, many times. But at the end of the day - they got us pregnant. And for that, we shall be forever grateful.
Modern Medical Advances - the process of IVF aside (which, as far as I am concerned, is one of the most important, incredible medical advances of the 20th century), we also benefitted from ICSI and assisted hatching. With DH's inconsistent morphology and my age and egg quality working against us, we had the opportunity to increase our chances through the use of these two techniques. Though each came with their risks, at least we were able to do them! I truly think that I may not have gotten pregnant without them.
The Protocol - part of this is tied into our Clinic and our RE. We are so grateful that they were willing to try a completely "unconventional" (word used by our RE), relatively new, off-the-beaten-path protocol with me. The Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol with Estrogen Priming, created by Dr. Geoffrey Sher, was a Godsend for us. It allowed us to have 5 perfectly healthy eggs to fertilize, and even though not all of them fertilized successfully, to a woman who was told that her eggs were crap, that number was music to the ears. It was an intense protocol, with an insanely high amount of drugs, but in the end it did the trick. I am so glad that my RE looked into this protocol at my urging, and I hope that my success buoys the clinic to try it with others.
My Insatiable Need to Research - okay, this one seems a little silly to mention. But seriously, I really do think that my thirst for knowledge in my own situation helped out tremendously. It was exhausting, disheartening, frustrating, and encouraging to read all of the research papers, case studies, forum posts and websites that contained information on poor egg quality. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for any woman going through infertility to research, research, research. Knowledge is Power.
Alternative Treatments - We spent over a thousand dollars on traditional Chinese medicinal treatments, as well as acupuncture. But DH and I figured - heck, we had already spent over $15,000.00 on our IUIs and IVF cycles, what was another grand? And even though DH was skeptical, I always believed that they would be of help, and now DH is a believer, too. I worked with a very good acupuncturist and Doctor of Chinese Medicine in the months leading up to my cycle, but then decided to switch to another professional whose specialty was in treating infertility and who was reknowned for her work here in Calgary. She was amazing. Gentle, supportive and encouraging. She came to the clinic on transfer day to give me treatments pre- and post-transfer. Her positive energy was infectious. Her skill and knowledge were beyond compare. I really, really do feel that acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF is something that all women struggling with IVF should consider.
For what it's worth, I should also mention that I believe taking Royal Jelly supplements and Coenzyme Q10 helped. For those who have followed my blog, they will know I took both to improve my egg quality. I had DH taking CoEQ10 as well, to improve his sperm motility - resulting in a gigantic improvement in his sperm morphology, according to the lab results of his last sperm analysis prior to our last cycle!! He was pleased as punch!!
Hope and a Positive Attitude - where would we be without them? Even at the darkest times, I don't think that I ever lost hope that one day, this would work out for us. I prayed every night that God would allow me to be a mother - and even though I didn't know exactly what form that would take, I never lost hope that He would answer my prayers.
And speaking of prayers...
Belief in God and the Power of Prayer - our little Dim Sum is proof that God listens and God loves. I was fortunate enough to have an incredibly strong prayer network going for us - from one of the nurses at the Clinic to our parents, to our friends. Even one of the moms at school, who is struggling with a health concern of her own right now, told me last week that she was praying for me all summer! We are lucky to have so many people love us - and to have God's love with us every day.
Luck - okay, I was saying to DH the other day that when it comes down to it, luck played a huge role in our pregnancy. Sometimes, people can do the very best that they can and have the very best of intentions, and yet things don't work out for them. DH and I know how lucky we are - and we aren't taking a single moment for granted.
Phew. I think that's it. Time to step off the soapbox. But I do hope that it helps someone who may stumble upon my humble little blog, seeking answers. Know that I wish every woman out there, struggling the way that I did, the very, very best.