Infertility has been exhausting. You go to all these doctors and specialists seeking hope and knowledge, you research until your eyes glaze over, then google some more. As any infertile knows, it is a soul destroying, emotionally defeating, financially demoralizing journey. Sometimes though, you meet a new doctor and think, “This is going to be it. I really feel this Dr. may help us.” That was us after our consult with Dr. Sher in Vegas. We were all set to jet off to Vegas for two weeks in May and be stimulated and monitored up the ying yang, get a few perfect embryos before transferring two of them into me and heading back home.
I’m simplifying things.
Don’t get me wrong, we were definitely pensive, but this was the first time we were going to have immunological therapy incorporated into our protocol. Someone was actually telling us something other than, “Just try again.” We had both done our immunological work-ups from Reprosource, I had a saline ultrasound performed and we were on schedule for a May cycle. But as any infertile also knows, nothing is ever quite that simple.
During our latest call with Dr. Sher in Las Vegas, he told us that our Reprosource testing revealed that the hubs and I are an absolute DQ alpha match and therefore I cannot carry our embryo in my uterus. After 2 years of infertility, 3 failed IVFs, tens of thousands of dollars and infinite tears, is this what we’re left with? On my notepad I had the Dr.’s words, “Not worth the effort.” It’d be funny if it weren’t so tragic. We were absolutely devastated. DEVASTATED. I never started crying on the phone before. To make matters worse, the hubby was traveling for work in China, so all this was happening while Mr. SFLB was 12 hours ahead in another country.
For those not in the know (which included myself until a week ago), this is what a complete DQ alpha match means according to Dr. Sher’s website:
In truth, when there is a 100% risk of an embryo-DQa “match” between partners (see above) in association with uterine NK cell activation as measured by the K-562 target cell test, the chance of successful pregnancy is very small. In such cases, in my view seeking the help of a gestational surrogate or resorting to the use of donor sperm (ensuring they do not share DQa similarities with the embryo recipient) will in the final analysis become the treatment of choice.
- Complete DQa match? Check.
- Activated NK cells? Check.
- Prognosis poor? Check.
Apparently we have the “very rare” (2% of infertiles) perfect storm of a DQa match and activated NK cells. DQa match + NK cells, apparently= no possible way I can carry our baby in my uterus.
“But surely, there’s something we can do,” I pleaded. “Intralipids?” “IVIG?” Yes, responded Dr. Sher, we can try and he can’t say he’s never seen it happen but our chances our less than 5% if he had to put a number on it. His suggestion was a gestational carrier or donor sperm. And while we’re at it, we better hustle because at 39 my eggs aren’t getting any younger.
And just like that, our May cycle was cancelled, and any other forseeable cycle was deemed a waste of time.
It’s hard to process these options. Donor sperm doesn’t make any sense. The hubby’s sperm is just fine. It’s my uterus that’s an inhospitable beyotch to our embryos. So the other option is a gestational surrogate. That means our baby would be genetically/biologicallyl ours. But I don’t get to carry. Someone else gets to “hold” my baby for it’s first nine months, feeds it, nourishes it, houses it. A gestational surrogate would for all intents be our baby’s first mama.
For us, it is important that our baby be genetically ours. I know that’s not so for everyone, but it is for us. At least right now. And a gesatational carrier would allow us to have that. But things do change. Circumstances change, situations change and ultimately feelings may change. I just don’t know how I feel about a surrogate. That would mean an entirely different financial and emotional commitment than “just” doing IVF. When we first started on this journey, I thought if it’s not our baby and I can’t carry it, then perhaps it’s not in God’s plan for us to be parents. I wanted to carry our baby. I wanted Mr. SFLB to feel my belly for kicks and rub my feet. I wanted the whole experience. God I feel like that sounds so selfish, but I did, I wanted it. I still do. Maybe that will change. Pregnancy is only temporary and a means to an end, but getting a baby, loving it, raising it, that is what truly matters. 9 months of pregnancy vs. a lifetime with your child. I don’t know, we’re still struggling with it. And with Mr. SFLB being away, we haven’t had a chance to have a truly honest conversation about it. Maybe God sent us to Dr. Sher so that we would find out what was truly wrong and we could stop spinning our wheels with IVF and move on to a surrogate. This news is still very “fresh” and there’s a lot to consider.
In the meantime, we have a phone appointment with Dr. Braverman next week. Apparently, he does not think that a DQa match puts you out of the game entirely. Hoping he has some positive news for us.