Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weirdly Disappointed

I had my hysteroscopy on Friday. It was nice--the outpatient surgery center was much more serene and private than the ER pathway I took at the main hospital to have my traumatic laparoscopy. Odd to call a surgical procedure "nice," but the experience at least was a lot less jarring. I was actually kind of excited to be going in for something where I wasn't in pain or uncomfortable beforehand, where it was purely diagnostic. Unfortunately for me, no drinking and no eating in preparation for the general anesthesia had me waking up to a nasty migraine, complete with hideous nausea. I could drink clear liquids until 8:30 a.m., which I did, but it didn't help the migraine. It did help my IV insertion (best one ever!), but the headache was just relentless.

The nurses were fantastic--they got the anesthesiologist to come over early and give me something that might dull the pain before the heavy narcotics got underway. Who knew that you can really get an IV drip of caffeine? They were out, apparently it's on I didn't get to claim that experience (rats!).  Instead, I got an anti-nausea agent that causes drowsiness and definitely took the sharpness out of the migraine, but didn't kill it completely. I did find out that general anesthesia will knock you out and knock a migraine out of your head (at least mine). I rediscovered the awkwardness of going into an OR in nothing but a hospital gown and waking up in recovery wearing fishnet hospital-issue underpants--whose job is it to put those on the unconscious patient? I don't even want to know how that goes. It's mortifying to even try to picture it. At least I remembered to shave my winter-insulated legs.

Now that it's done, I'm glad that I had the hysteroscopy, but I don't really know what I expected from it. I wanted peace of mind. I wanted to make sure that there really is nothing wrong with my uterus. But a not-so-small part of me also wanted for there to be something wrong, not anything tragic or hideous, but something small and fixable that could be the AHA!!! moment in our case. As Bryce put it, our smoking gun. There wasn't one. I can say with confidence that my uterus is beautiful, inside and out. It is perfectly healthy. There is NO REASON why my 10 embryos have abandoned ship, either routes north or south. I will not be needing to rent someone else's uterus anytime soon (not that that was ever a serious thought, although people have offered theirs to me. Nice, if slightly misguided, but totally unnecessary as my uterus is not what's broken).

This lack of a culprit is very disappointing, in a weird way. Yes, I am happy that I am normal. Yes, I am happy that we can proceed with fresh IVF #4 and hopefully put a baby or babies in me in March without any fear that my uterus has reason to reject them. But really? There's nothing I can cling to here? I am not a case of unexplained infertility. Both my husband and I have clear diagnoses. I have PCOS (ovulatory dysfunction, lots of cysts, not a lot of mature eggs). Bryce has male factor infertility (low counts on everything). Together that makes having a baby by candlelight in the boudoir pretty much impossible. But at this point, IVF should be compensating for our shortcomings. At least that's how I feel. I feel like at this point, medical professionals are completely controlling my cycle with drugs--shutting my system down and inducing me to develop a bunch of eggs, which are ovulated by needle aspiration. They then only need to pick out as many seemingly perfect sperm as I have retrievable eggs, which at this point has capped out at 12. Even in a low sample of 1 million, I'm pretty sure they can find 12 normal sperm to inject my eggs with. And they have--our embryos for these last two cycles (third fresh, first frozen) were beautiful. The materials as far as we can tell were beautiful. They just didn't stay in the right place. One went up my tube, and the rest went out to sea. Or Lake Ontario, that's probably more accurate given my geography. And now that we know that my uterus is awesome, we really have no information on why that's happening other than we should definitely NEVER go to Vegas. We do not have lady luck on our side. I feel like maybe I'm being unfair to IVF, as it's not a guarantee of success. You can actually do it over and over again and not end up with a viable pregnancy (case in point). At absolute best, success rates are around 50%. Which means that you also have a 50% chance of failing. And we just keep falling on that side. Even though our embryos are beautiful and my uterus is beautiful and, incidentally, I don't have any weird genetic clotting issues. At least not anything significant--apparently there's one really rare clotting gene that is bad if you have two affected alleles, and I have one affected allele. Which means pretty much nothing. I should take baby aspirin with my cycles, which I have done anyway for the last two. So, I got all my answers...which is to say I am left with no answers at all.

I guess we just go with it. If conditions are good all the way around, eventually we will fall in the positive statistics. Hopefully that happens while we still have the wherewithal to keep tossing that coin. That beautiful, perfect coin that just refuses to land on heads. Maybe one more toss will do it.

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