I want to insert something here - I wrote this whole article and noticed a great deal of negativity about our IVF clinic and Doctor. My wife and I were displeased with the way many aspects of our IVF process were handled. I'm trying to separate the frustration and anger resulting from our failed cycle from legitimate concerns with the professionalism of the staff at our clinic. I've decided to separate out as much of the negativity as possible leaving only a few of our concerns in here. I'm opting to put the Doctor's name in, not to bash him, but to see if anyone else has had similar concerns with him. Overall I like the guy, but would consider evaluating alternatives for our second round ...
So, as noted in earlier posts, we went into the IVF process as if it would be a sure thing. In fact, I recall telling many people "If you have to have fertility problems, you want what we have (i.e. bad sperm, completely healthy female) - IVF will help us overcome the faulty, incapable sperm issue, and everything beyond that point is up to the female! No problems, right?" Wrong!
They harvested 19 follicles , of which, 9 were successfully fertilized. We arrived at the Rochester Hills office of IVF Michigan several days later for the transfer. As I was sitting next to my wife (who was stirruped) with my smock and medical garb on, Dr. S. came into the room and quickly said we had two good embryos to transfer. We had informally agreed prior to the transfer that we would like to go with two embryos, as we were somewhat excited about the option of twins, and we wanted to give ourselves a good chance at success. After briefly describing his plans to transfer two embryos, Dr. S. stated "There are some concerns with the remaining embryos, but we'll discuss that later - now, let's get you pregnant!" Then he "turkey-bastered" my wife (I could see the little jet of fluid / embryos as on the ultrasound screen as they were inserted into my wife's uterus - kind of cool) Afterwards he said "Send us pictures" as he exited the room. That was it. It all felt sort of anticlimactic, and unemotional. After a brief recovery, and my wife relieving her bladder on the bed (which was really wierd, in our opinion) we left and hoped for positive news several days later, but had that "concern with the other embryos" comment stuck in the back of our heads, and as it would turn out, for good reason.
Several days later we received our negative pregnancy results - needless to say, we were shocked. I, being a fairly optimistic person, had not prepared myself for the possibility of this procedure not working. This was partly due to lack of education, and an extremely optimistic prognosis from our Doctor (not his fault ... he was just communicating the information he had at hand) We shed some tears, bitched and allowed the feelings of hopelessness to sink in. We were devastated, at least temporarily. We wondered about the other embryos ... hopefully they would be okay and we could quickly move forward with frozen embryo transfers in the near future. We had to call the clinic to inquire about the state of our remaining 7 embryos, and were told something along the lines of oh, yeah ... your other embryos did not mature to the point where we could freeze them. Sorry." When were you planning on calling us, exactly?!?!?
There we were - out $10,000 with nothing to show for it.
We scheduled a follow-up meeting for two weeks later (that was the first time they had available) We met with Dr. S. who described to us what went wrong. Turns out my wife's follicles were not fully matured at the time of harvest. He asked us if we were certain that we administered the HCG shot exactly as prescribed - I assured him we did everything exactly as we were told to. From what I can understand based on his description, the follicles must be harvested within a ~1 hour window. Take them too soon and they won't be properly matured. Take them too late and she will ovulate, sending the follicles down the fallopian tubes, from whence they will not be recoverable. Dr. S. described the root cause of our failure as "incredibly rare" ... but then said he had another patient with what he believed to be exactly the same situation (seemed like contradicting information to me ... incredibly rare, yet he has another client with the same situation, who happens to be mid-cycle, with beautiful embryos ... hmmmmm ...) He said that on our second round he would use a different HCG medication, and might leave the embryos in my wife a bit longer. He also said that if we have the same results in round 2, we will have "a very serious issue" ... That was it ... we left his office more confused than when we entered, less confident than we hoped to be. One other thing - Dr. S. took two phone calls during our follow-up consultation, one from his wife in which he stated "Can I call you in five minutes?" - five minutes? This implied he knew he would have us out of his office in very short order. I know he's a busy guy, but we paid a lot of money, were very upset and expected nothing less than his undivided attention in a tender situation such as we were in ... after all, it was only five minutes.
Due to my frustration with the way our process was handled, I requested a copy of all our charts, files, etc. on my way out of the office. The notes on one of the documents states "Eggs polar body not completely released from cytoplasm in almost all eggs" If anyone else has experienced similar results, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
A quick disclaimer: I'm not trying to throw Dr. S. under the bus. We liked the guy very much during 90% of the procedure, and will likely go back to him for round 2, but not before exploring alternatives in the area and getting some other opinions. That's what I'm doing now. I've assembled a list of all IVF clinics in Michigan and am attempting to make sense of their ARP scores (IVF Michigan is by FAR the largest clinic in the area, in terms of number of cycles ... they are approximately eight times bigger than the second largest clinic ... they also score very well in success rates, but are not the best, primarily due to sample size - perhaps their size is part of the issue ... maybe they're TOO big ...)
Next time: Looking into other clinics - Does it make sense?