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Reality Check

We visited the new RE at the Fertility Institute at Posh Hospital today. We decided to go there because the new OB-GYN recommended them, because we thought they might do more thorough testing, because they are most conveniently located, because they have really high lab ratings, and because they were spoken highly of on the IVF Connections boards. For today's initial consult with Dr. Yet-to-be-nicknamed, I brought a sizable stack of medical charts from all our previous fertility tests and treatments. After he read through them all, Dr. YTBN sat down with Aaron and I in the office and said, "I don't really understand why you're not pregnant yet." Like us, he felt that with such easily treatable problems (low progesterone, mainly), it is strange that none of our IUIs or IVFs would have resulted in pregnancy. He suggested two possible courses of action to us. One, we take a step back to reevaluate and we try a few IUIs with FSH injections. If we do that, he would want to first do an X-ray to confirm that my tubes really are clear (I guess the saline sonogram I had done is not completely accurate for examining the fallopian tubes, even if the fluid is seen to spill out the ends). The other option would be to continue with IVF - but he says that option only makes sense for us if we are willing to freeze embryos.

He was completely sympathetic to our concerns about respecting human life, but he thought that we did not have all the information we needed to make our decision about that issue. He then went on to explain that even in a young, healthy woman, only one out of five eggs has a full set of correct chromosomes. The other four may fertilize and have the necessary chromosomes to grow to blastocysts, but they will not grow and survive beyond that. With those odds, he said, our previous practice of fertilizing just four eggs had almost no chance of resulting in a pregnancy. He asked how many children we want to have, and we said as many as the Lord gives us and that, before infertility struck, we imagined having four or more. In light of that, he suggested that we fertilize as many eggs as we can, transfer two embryos, freeze the rest, and then transfer them all back a couple at a time.

We like Dr. YTBN; he seems incredibly intelligent, but very mild-mannered and compassionate. We appreciate that he was very up-front with us and gave us the facts. That said, I left the appointment feeling very discouraged. I approached this consultation with cautious optimism, hoping that we would get a new perspective and direction that might turn our infertility treatments toward success. In the end, it seemed like we had moved farther away from the possibility of having children, not closer. It feels like the past two years of treatment have been a waste, like we never really had a chance of conceiving at all. We had been told that our odds for IVF, even with fertilizing only four eggs, were around 50%; Dr. YTBN said that with those limitations the chances of success are really more like 15% - no better than an IUI, and less than the average couple trying to conceive on their own. We have had such strong convictions against freezing embryos, and now we're being told that unless we're willing to do that we should forgo IVF altogether. We want to see if Dr. YTBN's facts check out (especially about only one in five eggs being chromosomally normal), and we will re-examine our practice of IVF in light of the new information, but we of course will not go against our conscience. Nothing has to be decided right away, thankfully. Deep down, I know that God is sovereign over all that has happened in our efforts to conceive up to this point, but right now I'm worrying that we've missed our chance. I thought we were heading in the right direction, medically, and now I've been told that we had the wrong map.


Amanda said...

Dear Andrea,

So, so sorry that the appointment at the new clinic did not go as you had hoped. I'll be praying that the Lord give you fresh guidance on this journey.

Love you,

Amy said...

Oh, friend, I'm so sorry that you feel so frustrated right now. I will continue to pray that the Lord would bless you with wisdom and discernment as you make decisions for how you're going to proceed.

You are not wrong to trust and obey Him, no matter the outcome.

gracechild said...

must have sucked to hear that. my subconscious has been debating the "froen embryo" issue for a while now, it being that I will be making that decision in a couple of weeks and all I can tell you is go with whatever the Spirit of God convicts you with. The difficult decisions of life are made easier when we know we have the peace of God during the times we second-guess ourselves. Hope you end up with the right decision

allison said...

i stumbled across your blog in my attempts to research how faith, GOD, and IVF can all be reconciled. i really REALLY appreciate what i've found here, as this journey is so hard to drudge through.

thanks for the honesty...

Anonymous said...

I came here from Amy's Humble Musings... I don't know you at all or your total situation but I was wondering if you have watched the moving "Facing the Giants"? It deals with infertility... and the husband after one visit asks the wife an all important question (in case you haven't watched it, I won't spoil what the question is).

I think that although desiring children is real and 'normal', above all we need to submit to God's will for us in our lives and realize that God doesn't OWE us anything. Some struggle with financial, some with emotional, some with health, some with infertility (and all are VERY REAL to the person that is going through it)... but do we follow God's Word to glorify Him in our life no matter what he sends our way.

I hope this didn't discourage you, I really did not mean for that - rather I wanted to focus you on Christ who has given us so much more than we ever deserved.
Blessings to you in your life. Live it for Christ!

P.S. I myself just went through a miscarriage 2 weeks ago so I do understand the disappointment / loss.

Katie said...

Andrea, I was planning on calling this morning to see how the appt. went but saw the info on your blog. Definitely disappointing and probably confusing to sort through the information that you were given. Josh and I have been so encouraged by the way that you and Aaron have truly sought the Lord's will for you throughout the IVF process. We trust that the Lord will continue to lead you both as you seek what to do next.

I know that you all ready know what is true and don't need to "hear something new" so I will just remind you that God is much bigger than percentages and statistics and medical procedures. Sarah & Hannah are but two examples to testify to that! Today, I pray that you will call to mind the bigness of God and that He will be your hope. You have not wasted your opportunities. You were following where He was leading you. Love you, friend, and praying for you today.

Sarah K said...


I'm so sorry to hear about this frustrating and disappointing visit. It is totally understandable that you would be tempted to feel the last two years have been a waste, even though we know the truth is that God is sovereign and there is no waste in his plan. I know you know all this...but I was reading psalm 33 this morning and was reminded of it when I read your entry:
"The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations...The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." (v. 11, 16-20).

I pray that you will be very aware today, and as you work through this new angle of the decision, that your times are in God's hand and not yours, and you have not missed or spoiled anything. Whatever medical methods he may use, God is the one who rules supreme over them and who is the only real hope they can offer. The eye of the Lord is on you, full of tender care and compassion and lovingkindness, and it is his counsel that stands forever.

I don't know what the right decision is on these issues, but he does and he has promised to give wisdom when we ask him, as I know you and Aaron do. I am praying for you, dear friend!

GLouise said...

Oh wow, that is frustrating.

Yet, on the other hand, a different perspective can be invaluable. Maybe a few more IUIs would be just as fruitful, and less expensive?
I like that the doctor respects your convictions and took the time to address all of your concerns.

I am a little confused about his advice though, b/c your protocols have been very similar to what European REs seem to prescribe. Less stims to yield fewer, but higher quality eggs. so it would seem he disagrees with the European approach? Hmm.

But either way, yes, the Lord is still sovereign!

JJ said...

Its so frustrating to go into something this big, and be told something totally out of left field. I am so sorry it didnt go more as planned. Thinking about you...

Aleece said...

Sweet Andrea...
Your map was written before the foundation of the world dear friend. It is sealed and it is for your good and His glory. Our friend Charles Spurgeon reminded me today that, "...there is never a thoughtless action on God's part." I have seen the fruit of this trial manifest itself in this blog, in your compassion for others and in your spiritual growth. Though it may not be the means any of us desires, He is doing a great work in you and you are honoring His name by the way you are walking through this season. As I continue to pray for you, may the prayers ripen like fruit as they hang on the tree and be sweeter when the harvest comes!

Jennifer said...

I've been looking for other Christian Infertility blogs and just found yours. Thank you for sharing your story. It's nice to know I am not alone.

Blessed are the Barren