Friday, June 14, 2013

Fallout From Cheating

I trust, respect and like Dr. P and his team. I know their clinic has some of the highest pregnancy success rates in Los Angeles for women my age. I still plan to try another cycle for egg freezing with them. But I can't help but wonder, now that I know there are so many different types of treatment programs, if someone else would advise me differently. Considering the time pressure and importance of finding something that works in the next few months, I know I don't have the luxury to go through a few cycles of failures before seeking a second opinion on how best to proceed. I'm racing against the egg reaper here. I can't worry about denting a few doctor's egos along the way.

My wandering, panicked eye led me to a website that compares the success rate of clinics with national averages. I actually stumbled onto it. But once there, I discovered another local clinic with comparable, and sometimes higher, success rates than Dr. P's clinic. It also happens to be located a quick drive from my boyfriend's home. When the treatment program requires several office visits a week, convenience is a major bonus.

What made stepping out for me an easy decisions was the fact that this “other clinic” offered free consultations... if you attend a seminar with one of the clinic's doctors. Yes, it was a bit like a Florida time share sales tactic, but I'm a sucker for free stuff, so I went to one of their talks.

The success rate of The Other Clinic's (I'll call it TOC) is impressive. People from all over the world come to them for fertility help. And the doctor who gave the seminar (I'll call him Dr. M), seems extremely knowledgeable as well as passionate about all the latest medical innovations that increase the odds in the miracle of birth.

Dr. M did an excellent job of explaining the various causes of infertility, what they can do to help, and the options for fertility treatments. They even handed out little educational booklets that I wished previously existed.

Clearly, this clinic is a well-oiled machine. The room was at full capacity. At least 20 people. Of course, that means two-by-two. Like Noah's Ark. There were two other women alone like me. I felt an instant sisterhood with them, but didn't strike up a conversation. They might tell me their husband was at home babysitting their other children.

Dr. M slathered us with information. Unfortunately, it was mostly depressing information for me. What I did not know had allowed me hope. But when he said 80 to 90 percent of eggs from a woman past 40 are abnormal, it was a punch in the gut. I almost decided right then to throw in the towel. Doing the math, that means, on average I'd have to produce 10 eggs to get one or maybe two viable ones. My follicle numbers from last cycle look even worse now against that backdrop.

“I speak the truth,” Dr. M said to the disbelieving faces of the women over 40 in the room.

Whether it's denial or simply a lack of awareness, I suspect most women have a hard time facing the reality of our abruptly deteriorating fertility. The other older women in the room looked much younger than the ages they admitted during questions to the doctor. It was obvious they were vibrant, enthusiastic, healthy people. I knew what they were feeling. How could we not be fertile when we still feel so young and vital?

When one woman asked about her chances of getting pregnant at 44, Dr. M broke the horrible news that it was extremely rare using her own eggs. I could see the tears form in her eyes. She looked up at her husband, who put his arm around her tight. The shared heartbreak was palpable. 

I don't know if that is also the sales tactic. Scare the shit out of women, but then give them a glimmer of hope. An expensive, desperate ticking time bomb glimmer of hope. I mean, it's not like we can claim later he didn't tell us how small our chances were at success. 

But sitting there, a heavy sad feeling began to press down on me. I was not ready to accept and face that I might be past any chance of having a child, but the idea of it was moving closer into my radar field. Driving to my boyfriend's home afterwards, I didn't cry but I definitely felt newly discouraged. 

Even if I could get pregnant, would my damaged eggs created damaged children? I don't want to do that to another human or to myself. I have a lot more to think about while I wait to see what kind of basket of eggs I might produce on my next cycle.

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