Monday, January 14, 2008

Not what I was expecting

In all my worrying, one thing I was not worrying about was my response to follicle stimulating drugs. Knowing that Chris and I need IVF due to a, shall we say, difficulty encouraging individual eggs and sperm to get together on their own, I never spent much energy thinking about other problems that could keep us from conceiving. The first time we did IVF several years ago, I was a little slow to respond to the drugs, and the dosages were upped midway through the process.

After my "day 4" appointment this morning, Jill (my favorite medical assistant and apparently the bearer of all my bad news) called to set up my next appointment and let me know about the blood test results. She told me that my estradiol level was low - below 20. That didn't mean much to me, so I mentioned that the first time I'd been a slow starter too. Trying to help me understand the results, Jill said, last time my day four estradiol level was 45. At the time they'd considered that kind of low.

"Oh." I replied, just starting to understand what she was telling me. "So what do we do?"

"Just keep on going. We can't change the protocol, since you are already on the highest dose of the drugs. It is only day four, don't worry."

But I do. I worry about the low hormone level, and I worry that I didn't think to worry about this before now. How can I employ my vast powers of magical thinking to protect myself from bad things happening if I can't think of all the bad things that could happen? Why didn't it occur to me that this could be a problem?

The first time I had IVF I was 32. I am now 36. Still young-ish (at least by fertility doc standards), but no spring chicken. After each of the tests and procedures that led up to IVF, each one ending with a resounding "well, we don't know what's wrong but your fallopian tubes/ovaries/uterus, etc look normal," I started to believe that if we could just fix our one issue it would all work fine. We just had to find that issue. Eventually we did, and ICSI fixed it. But now I am forced to remember that fertility can be much more complicated. My body is important in this process, and is fallible.

* ** * ** *


One other thing - by typing the words "day four", IVF and estradiol, I will be found by a lot of other women going through what I am now experiencing. A note to those women, who invariably never stay long - I think I understand what you are looking for, and I know why you only stop here a few seconds. You want more than information, you want reassurance. I wish I could give it to you. I wish I felt it. Today I found myself googling "day 4 estradiol level" in a crazy attempt to figure out what a "normal" day four level is.

"Can I go from less than 20 to just fine in a few days?" I stopped myself before digging deep into google's mysteries. There are no answers out there for me and the other women who want to know more than what the "right" estradiol level is. We want to know whether we'll get what we want, whether we'll carry a pregnancy to term, whether we'll feel the happy exhaustion of labor. I don't know that, for myself or for my brief visitors.

Best of luck to us all.

(And thanks to magpie, who correctly identified that I was talking about estradiol, not FSH. Apparently more than my response to the drugs is slow these days!)

11 comments:

  1. ug. i'm sorry to hear that things aren't going super smoothly. i think i would worry myself insane with all of the variables. all i can say is that i am hoping/wishing/setting intentions for you. i hope things do work perfectly and that you can keep from worrying too much.

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  2. ah yes.. the magic thinking. And,I am relieved to hear you laid of the google a bit tonight. As the resident librarian on the NL Blog I might suggest a trip to the library where you can, no doubt, be delivered of a whole schwack of more reliable medical evasion that belies the science of any of it.

    As always, we're pulling for you and your uterus of ambiguity.

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  3. Worrying never helps and unfortunately google does not have psychic powers. I'm doing a fertility dance for you. I'm sure that makes me look rather silly.

    Keep on. With some faith tucked in there.

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  4. huh. i thought low FSH at the beginning of the cycle was good. are you sure it was FSH and not estradiol?

    i wish you luck. it's such a dreadful rollercoaster.

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  5. We're thinking of you...and of course wish you luck in this. I'm also sorry to hear that it's not going smoothly. Hang in there, OK? And let us know if you need anything. We love you guys.

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  6. Listen, you are doing the best you can. If you sat down and truly tried to think of every thing that could go wrong you'd throw up your hands and give up before you'd even tried.

    I know it doesn't seem like it, but everything they can identify, like the low levels means one more step they (the docs) can take to get you where you need to be.

    I know this is hard. I'm sending hugs.

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  7. damn
    damn
    damn
    damn
    damn
    damn
    damn

    breathe on...

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  8. Just wanted to say that I've still got my finger and toes crossed for you guys ...

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  9. (un)relaxeddad1/17/2008 10:30 AM

    My cousin (have I mentioned this?) is going through the same tough trip. Takes a lot of courage and stamina - am thinking positive thoughts.

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  10. So sorry and sending happy, relaxed and non-worrying thoughts your way...

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  11. wish there was something i could do. but i'm thinking about you and sending love.

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