During the early morning hours in the last week of January, I found myself staying awake to watch the Australian Open. In particular, I was drawn to Stanislas Wawrinka's amazing title run. He accomplished an incredible feat by defeating two former champions en route to his first major title and managed to overtake Roger Federer as the number one Swiss player. He also possesses the most gorgeous one-handed backhand in the game today. Personally, I prefer the power and precision granted by the second hand, but his one-handed shot is absolutely beautiful. Oh additionally, he has that rugged handsomeness that tempts a roll around in the hay. Anyway... during his matches, the commentators made much attention over a tattooed inscription on his forearm.
Ever tried, ever fail. No matter
Try again, fail again, fail better
This time I made sure to check Husband's schedule before scheduling my second WTF appointment. "What for?" he asked "The two of you talk in your own language and I feel like the third wheel." My silence agreed with his point. It also seemed to echo that we haven't gotten very far with my brain power. Perhaps an outsider's perspective would bring more to the discussion. Thus, my strategy for this meeting was to let my RE do all the talking and have Husband ask questions. Well... most of them anyway...
Dr STIUTK once again expressed his condolences before launching into to his assessment. There's obviously an embryo quality issue. It is difficult to determine if it is specifically the eggs or sperm; but for all practical purposes, it's probably both. I wanted all cards on the table. "So, is it worthwhile to pursue another cycle with our own gametes?" Apparently he thinks it is. While I acknowledge that I was hoping to work with more, we were able to transfer four embryos generated from the six eggs that had fertilised (out of eight available mature oocytes). In the IVF world, this is actually good; even though it didn't work. My RE also discouraged me from using the word 'failure' and replaced it with 'hasn't worked yet'. Ah, there was the spin that I was expecting. He recognised my perspective, but noted that I don't have the same vantage point to witness hundreds of failed cycles. True, most of the time I'm receiving their successful cases, and I only ask about the details that led to their current pregnancy, although some offer a recount of their struggles. I also have 'G0 (failed fertility treatments)' written in the notes of many other patients, and I don't usually ask any follow up questions.
My RE reviewed his modifications to my protocol for Husband's benefit, as we started to look at the calendar. If I were Mary Perfect with a 28 day cycle, based on when I would be starting the mid-luteal lupron and when I would start the stims, my retrieval could coincide with Memorial Day weekend and another hockey tournament. He gave us the option of either extending my lupron for a day or two, or freezing sperm. I feel unwilling to compromise anything with this cycle, but as I tend have a longer follicular phase, especially after being suppressed for a while, my slow to respond hypopituitary axis may work in our favour. Oh, ClearBlue Fertility Monitor, I just can't quit you! You accurately detect my LH surge and predict ovulation even when it's day 22 and even though my RE expressed skepticism about your abilities. Welcome back into my morning routine. Actually, it will make for quite a change to not engage in awkward timed intercourse on the night of my high reading.
As my RE started to wrap up our visit by expressing that while he can't offer any guarantees, he still feels hopeful about our prospects, I stared out the window and thought about the questions I didn't ask, as I don't think they can be answered. What happens if the next cycle unfolds like the last ? If my estrogen levels are too high on SD4, does that mean that my eggs will be spoilt? What if we still have unsynchronous follicle development? Could the lupron and lower dosed stims be too suppressive leading to a relatively low retrieval rate? If our embryos look poor, will we need to consider another day 3 transfer?
I did ask if anything can be extrapolated from the fact that one of my day 3 chromosomaly abnormal embies implanted, but both my FETs failed. My RE didn't have an explanation, as theoretically FETs should be more likely to succeed as it allows for a more optimal uterine environment. At this point in time, we will plan for PGD testing with an FET to follow if there are any normal embryos. Now that I have more failed transfers, I'll have one of my colleagues perform an endometrial biopsy to induce endometrial injury prior to the procedure.
Ultimately, I know that no one can offer any assurance that our second cycle will exhibit any improvement, nor will it be successful in producing a take home baby. Thus, the words from Samuel Beckett seem to resonate with me. Are we merely attempting to fail better?