Wednesday, April 03, 2013

How much easier is it doing a second IVF cycle after you have had one IVF baby ?

This is a guest post from an expert patient whom I respect.
I asked her - How much easier is it doing a second IVF cycle after you have had one IVF baby ?

This is her reply.

Before I answer that question, I feel like I need to tell you about my infertility story.  I went through many infertility test and procedures, including 3 IUI and 6 IVF cycles, before accepting that most likely my eggs would never be of good enough quality to result in a healthy baby.  Coming to this conclusion was a process of elimination.  I always responded well to the medication, and produced a good number of eggs and embryos for a woman in her thirties.  But after the sixth failed IVF cycle, we felt that starting a family was more important than passing along my genes, so we made the very big decision to try IVF using donor eggs. 

After much searching on the Internet, our research led us to Dr. Malpani's infertility clinic.  A couple of years ago, we travelled from Europe to Mumbai where I underwent my first IVF cycle using donor eggs.  This was my first time at the Malpani Clinic or even in India so I had no idea what to expect.  I had a lot of hope that this would be a successful cycle, but I also felt that there was a significant chance it could fail.   Since I never had any medical proof that my eggs were of bad quality, I thought that there was still a chance that our infertility problems might be caused by something else, and regardless of whose egg we used we may never become pregnant.  We got 8 embryos and they transferred three.  I was told that if the rest were of good enough quality, they would be frozen.  I was notified shortly after that none of the remaining embryos were of good enough quality to freeze, which left me feeling slightly less optimistic about the embryos that had been transferred.  Several days later I had a positive pregnancy test, and several months later I had a beautiful, amazing baby boy who could not be any more perfect even if I had used my own eggs.

As baby started to get a little older (as well as ourselves), we decided to try another IVF cycle using donor eggs again.  I was hoping the same donor could help us again so our children would have the same paternal and maternal genes, however this was not possible.   The most important thing was to make another baby so our baby would not have to grow up an only child.  I always imagined having at least two children who could play together and be there for each other their whole lives.  I am fortunate enough to have three siblings and feel very blessed. 

We decided to use a new donor who was young and healthy.  The cycle went very well and we ended up with ten beautiful, grade A (all at least 8-cell by day 3 with no fragmentation) embryos.  We transferred 3 embryos that looked absolutely perfect; two were already cleaving by day 3.  They were better looking than the ones we had transferred from our first donor.  And even though Dr. Malpani warned me that this cycle could fail and to have realistic expectations, I was extremely optimistic.  The donor was 23 years old and gave us so many perfect looking embryos (the remaining seven were good enough to freeze).  Also, the fact that I had carried a baby to full term with no problems seemed to confirm that there was nothing wrong with my body, only the quality of my eggs.  The deck definitely seemed stacked in my favour.  In fact, my husband was convinced (and worried) that we would end up with triplets.  Luck was not on my side this time as the pregnancy test was negative.  

I was very disappointed in a way that felt quite familiar since I had already had several failed cycles in the past.  Some people may wonder why I felt such disappointment.  Before I was trying for my first child, but now I was already a mother so there was less desperation, and after all, shouldn't I just be grateful and not greedy?   In fact, before I had my child, I did not have the same kind of empathy for people going through fertility issues who already had at least one child that I did for childless, hope-to-be parents.  Even though I had all those feelings that anyone who has had multiple failed IVF cycles feels, I got over it quite quickly, more so than with most of my past failed IVF cycles.  I also did not experience the chronic effects that coping with infertility often has (i.e. very low self-esteem, resentfulness, depression etc).  In this regard, a failed IVF cycle while trying for a second child was less devastating than before I became a mother.  I did not have to worry that I would never become a mother.

An IVF cycle, whether you have a child or not, is still a great investment of time, money and hope.  Whether you are already a mother or not, you still spend time daydreaming about being pregnant, calculating when your due date will hopefully be and picking out baby names.  And if you already have a baby, you daydream about your baby having a little brother or sister to grow up with, and the family that you always dreamed about having.  So I don't think it is unexpected or selfish to feel disappointment after a failed IVF cycle when you are already a mother.  I actually think it is quite normal.   And just as the disappointment and feelings I had after my first failed IVF cycle were different from the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth failed cycle, so were my feelings this time.  Now I am back at the clinic hoping that one of our little frozen embies will become the baby brother or sister we are praying for.  I'm am slightly less optimistic than before, but I still have some hope otherwise I would not be here.  And I know if it doesn't work, it is much easier to accept raising an only child than to face the idea of never being a mother.
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