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Time to take a chance

I feel like we are often on a rollercoaster ride that never ends! The last couple of months have definitely been up and down in regards to our (in)fertility journey. We met with a urologist in January, and he ran three tests on Reid… a semen analysis, a DNA fragmentation test, and a sperm fish. And then we waited (and waited, and waited) for all of the results to come in. And of course, they weren’t completely conclusive. No black and white answers. So we met with a genetic counselor, as referred by our urologist. She reviewed our history as well as the results of the testing we did on Reid, and she concluded that we may both have issues that are contributing to the chromosome abnormalities we keep getting. But there’s no certain medical proof of that. Reid’s semen analysis and DNA fragmentation test came back normal. The sperm fish, which checks for abnormal chromosomes in his sperm, came back slightly abnormal. The normal ranges on this test are crazy… they top out at 0.1-0.5%. And Reid’s “abnormal” results came back at like 0.2-0.6%. Which means of the 500 sperm they tested in each category, 1-3 was abnormal. So it’s not so abnormal that they can say “This is the problem”. The genetic counselor said we could certainly try IVF again, but that we shouldn’t expect much different results than the last two rounds.

Reid and I set up an appointment with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility doctor) for the following week, but we decided that we would likely go for another round of IVF to “check the box” (at least that was my feeling). I wasn’t optimistic that another round would work, and I was feeling like we’d end up going to the next step in our journey for creating a family (either embryo adoption or adoption). Which made me sad that we were at that point. For the next couple of days, I really wrestled with my feelings. And Reid struggled with thinking about potentially going the adoption route. That’s a huge decision to make, and a hard truth to think we may not ever have children with our DNA.

This past Tuesday, we met with our RE, and I have to tell you we both walked out of there surprised and scared. Side note: I just love our fertility clinic. If you don’t love your fertility clinic and can find a new one, do it. This journey is hard enough – you have to have a great team alongside you cheering you on and guiding the way. And that’s exactly what ours does. Anyways, so we go in to talk with our doctor and I’m rambling on about what has happened over the last couple of months and what the other medical professionals have been telling us. The look on his face wasn’t one of discouragement or defeat. Which I guess I expected it to be. Finally I quit rambling and I said “so what’s your opinion? What do we need to do?” He looked at both of us and said “I think we need to go forward with another round of IVF and not test the embryos.” WHAT?!?! I looked at Reid and it was obvious that both of our minds were blown. Two of our pregnancy losses were because of chromosomal abnormalities, and we’ve had four embryos come back as abnormal during the PGS (pre-implantation genetic screening) testing. And now he’s telling us NOT to test???

So let’s talk about PGS testing for a minute… it’s definitely imperfect. You can get “abnormal” results that may result in healthy babies. The test just takes a sampling of the embryo to test the cells… so it may grab some abnormal cells, but that may not be reflective of the embryo as a whole. And the embryo may correct itself over time and be completely normal. It’s definitely a little controversial and widely debated in the fertility community. But we fit the “criteria” of a couple that should use PGS testing, considering our two losses that were chromosomally abnormal. So we did it with both rounds of IVF. But the results showed a different abnormality each time. Which is strange. Our doctor’s thinking is that those could in fact potentially be normal embryos. But because we have had the testing and they’ve been deemed “abnormal”, we’re afraid to use them for a transfer.

We sat there a little stunned, but also very pleasantly surprised. I fully expected to come out of that appointment having the same conversation we had with the genetic counselor. We discussed this option, we (well, mostly Reid) asked lots of technical question, and we decided that while this was a big chance – we’re willing to take it.

We completely trust our doctor. He has been there with us for all of the ups and downs of pregnancy losses and infertility. He knows our full story (even the latest on Reid’s health), and takes our entire situation into consideration when making suggestions. He explained to us that this is a risk, and it would be a huge unknown, and he understands if we’re not comfortable with taking that step. But that it could be just what we need to start our family. And honestly, we’re willing to try anything at this point!

It will be scary, because if we do get pregnant from IVF with an untested embryo, it could end in a miscarriage. But it could also be perfectly fine, and we could have a beautiful healthy baby. So here we go! We’ll likely be starting the next round of IVF in April. We may be crazy for taking the chance, but 3 ½ years of longing for a baby can make you do crazy things!


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