I haven’t updated my blog in a while, but thought I would just give a quick overview of how the last couple of months have panned out for me. I undertook my 4th and 5th cycles at New Hope (my 2nd and 3rd with them), and on the whole, it has been a successful process. I yielded more eggs from each New Hope cycle than I did in any NYU cycle (4 in the first cycle, 1 of which was less mature, and 3 in the second cycle). As I described earlier, my first New Hope cycle resulted in 7 mature eggs after injecting myself with about 25% of the dosage of hormones (in this case, Gonal-F) that I had used at NYU. In my 2nd New Hope Cycle, I used half of that dosage. I discussed the reasoning behind the drop in dosage with Dr. Zhang and he said that on Day 3’s ultrasound, they can usually see how many follicles are likely to grow and adjust the dosage accordingly. From that cycle, they retrieved 4 mature eggs and 1 that was matured in the lab overnight, for a total of 5 eggs. Today, I completed my 3rd New Hope Cycle from which 4 mature eggs were retrieved. Although New Hope is a rather more chaotic facility, I grew accustomed to it. I quite enjoyed my free breakfast cakes/donuts/pastries that were laid out for patients every morning in the spacious waiting area. I would read my Metro NY paper and/or watch captions from the TVs as I waited to be called in, and all the while there would be soothing classical music playing overhead. Although there were perhaps 2 days when I ended up calling them (because it was getting close to 5pm) to get my daily instructions, the nurses actually never failed to call me. They claimed that monitoring day phone calls sometimes ran into the evening hours (and thus, past closing time), so I may have just been overly anxious on those days.
In my opinion, the low stimulation approach really is the way to go, at least for my aging body. No matter what the dosage was (high or low), I always had between 5 and 7 follicles growing. Not all would reach maturity, but the picture was the same whether I was at NYU on maximum doses of hormones or at New Hope on the lowest doses of hormones. My body simply doesn’t generate many follicles each cycle. At NYU, due to some deal with the insurance companies, I had to pay for the monitoring and bloodwork. Whereas, at New Hope, for some reason, my insurance seemed to pay for the monitoring and bloodwork. At NYU, being on the maximum dose of hormones meant that my medications amounted to thousands of dollars. At New Hope, I barely used any (maybe 1 Gonal-F pen for the entire cycle, and cheap medications — Femara, Clomid, and Advil). At NYU, retrieval day was like going in for major heart surgery — so many personnel in the room, full sedation, and a day out of work. New Hope supported a non-sedating approach to retrieval — in my first 2 cycles at New Hope, I only took Valium, and in the 3rd one, the nurse forgot to give one to me, yet retrieval was uneventful albeit mildly uncomfortable. I could go back to work right away.
As you can see, I’m a fan of New Hope Fertility Center. The combination of NYU’s 2 expensive cycles and New Hope’s cheaper cycles have brought me to a total of 23 eggs. The next step is going to be a discussion with Dr. Zhang about their approach to thawing eggs and the transfer. Although I’m not ready to have children today, I need to figure out where I would like to house ALL of my eggs (and thus, not pay double rent!) I’m well aware that the statistics are not as good at New Hope than NYU for successful IVF pregnancies, but the fact is, their philosophy is different and by definition will result in poorer statistics. That is, they generally don’t transfer more than 1 egg for any given cycle.
For now, I’m DONE with this process. My year of being 40 ended a few weeks ago. Although there is no guarantee that I will be able to have children from my own eggs, I am now breathing a small sigh of relief that I can now get back to my life and know that I have given myself a fighting chance to have biological children. If that does not happen, there are alternatives, but at least I gave myself this very special option that only women of my generation have ever had access to.