Every IVF cycle I started was filled with hope until the seams started to rip and disappointment seeped it’s way in. Positives were met with negative outcomes. Yet somehow in the darkest moments I still clung to the tiniest shred of hope that my turn would come. That I too would get to carry a child. That I too would finally get to be called “mom.”
As the months rolled on it looked less and less likely that motherhood would be in my cards. I racked up a list of failures no one wants to have. One still birth. Two miscarriages. Three failed IUIs. Three IVF cycles, two of which were canceled due to poor response. The words “gestational carrier” were uttered last spring and I began to look at door eggs/embryos and adoption as my options for motherhood. Yet my gut thought otherwise and she made a Hail Mary appointment at Mayo.
My heart wasn’t ready for Mayo. She had her mind set on donor embryos in Iowa. Yet she entertained her gut and heard her out, because it doesn’t hurt to just see. To just see what Mayo had to say about their fertility. Turns out, I still have viable eggs and all of my hormone levels are on point for a 37 year old woman. Though the odds are terribly stacked against me, Mayo still approved me for treatment.
Unlike the other clinics, Mayo left no stone unturned for they understand this is my last shot at motherhood. For the first time on my journey a pelvic MRI was ordered and the results spoke volumes. I always felt like I might have endometriosis and/or an underlying issue with my uterus due to a 2010 perforation. The other docs dismissed my concerns and told me “research doesn’t support an impact on fertility, you will be fine.” But I wasn’t fine, my body was silently screaming for help and no one listened to her.
I met with Dr. K who specializes in endometriosis removal to go over my MRI results. He first showed me what my fucked up cervical canal looks like and then asked “are you ready to see yourself light up like a Christmas tree!?” He was way more excited about it than I was. He clicked to the next imagine and said “all that is glowing is endometriosis, you have one of the most severe cases I have ever seen.” The endometriosis is wide spread as it is in my abdominal & pelvic cavities. He went on to explain that if it was just the endometriosis he would be in support of me going through with IVF. My heart sank and I was thankful for the mask so he couldn’t see my expression.
The endometriosis wasn’t the worst of my problems. Adenomyosis was my new enemy. Adenomyosis is where the uterine lining growing deep into the muscle tissue of the uterus. It turns the tissue into a cork like consistency and makes it harder for an embryo to properly implant. He went on to explain that embryos that implant in a uterus with Adenomyosis tend to have smaller placentas and poor blood flow to the placenta. My heart sank again, our sweet Emmett’s demise was due to a smaller than normal placenta for his gestational age. The poor kid never had a chance, the embryo most likely landed on a spot of Adenomyosis.
I asked if the Adenomyosis was something new. My heart had to ask that, it needed to be reassured that this wasn’t the cause behind Emmett’s demise. Dr. K said “no this isn’t new, it most likely resulted from the 2010 uterine perforation. I died inside, The previous clinic had transferred our embryos into a toxic environment. Dr. K went on to explain that I was lucky because the Adenomyosis was localized and the bad spots can be cut out. This was good news to me, all be it risky, it was good.
Dr. K was extremely detailed when he explained both the Adenomyosis and endometriosis surgeries and what my odds of a successful pregnancy are. Dr. K explained that I should consider doing a retrieval cycle fist as I have diminished ovarian reserve and during the surgery he will need to cut open my left ovary to remove a few endiotomas which will cause my follicle count to plummet. After he gave me the bad news, he did something no other doctor has done before, he said “now it’s time for AJ to call the shots. People have made choices for you in the past. We are not going to do that here. You dear are in the drivers seat and we are here to help you get to your destination.”
I about cried. It’s true I’ve never had a say in my IVF treatments before. It’s always been “you will do this and that’s it.” In my gut I knew there was only one option so I uttered, I want to try with my own eggs. Can I do a retrieval first, freeze whatever embryos we get, and then do the removal surgeries? “YES! That is a wonderful plan AJ, I like how you think.”
I left that day with a renewed sense of hope and a tiny ping of anger in my heart. Mostly I’m angry at CCRM. Angry because they noted in my chart “suspected endometriosis” and did nothing to investigate it. All of this could have been taken care of in 2017, who knows maybe I’d have my mini me by now. I cannot hold on to anger for long, as anger harbors stress. I let myself feel the anger and then I let it go. Emmett would want his mama to do that, to let that shit go. I don’t have time for grudges. I have no hard feelings about Iowa, at the end of the day I was to complicate for Dr. Young and the last words he said to me were “if anyone can get you pregnant it’s Mayo.”
Mayo is our fourth clinic and I finally feel at ease with the care I am about to receive. Knowing that I have a hand in the treatment makes a big difference. This is our Hail Mary, we have a lot riding on this retrieval cycle and I pray to everything holy that we end up with viable day 5 embryos that lead to a baby in our arms.