Couple tells their story of choosing mini-IVF, with lower odds of success, to avoid having more than one embryo
We had been trying to conceive for almost five years when we found out that we would probably need IVF (in vitro fertilization) in order to have a child. We live in Memphis, TN, so we originally went to our local clinic, but TRM caught our eye because they are one of the only clinics in the southeast that offers natural cycle IVF and mini-IVF.
In natural cycle IVF, they monitor your body and try to retrieve at least one good egg (similar to a natural pregnancy, hence the name “natural cycle”). We had some hesitations about doing conventional (fully stimulated) IVF because of the potential of excess embryos that we may never use.
I have friends who did conventional IVF and ended up having to either discard or donate the embryos they had leftover, which is not something we wanted to do. Plus, I was a little nervous about all the injections in conventional IVF, so we explored other options.
In our case, mini-IVF was the perfect compromise because they give you fewer injections so that you don’t produce 15 to 20 eggs like you do in conventional. But unlike natural cycle, you can still get three to five eggs because they give you some (minimal) injections. After doing some research and reading a lot of positive reviews about Dr. Scotchie and Dr. Murray, we decided to give them a call.
Minimal drugs, minimal cost, many things to consider.
TRM was nothing like our Memphis clinic experience
From the first call to TRM, we knew this was the clinic for us. Everyone from the receptionist to the nurses to the billing department was so kind in helping us through the process. We scheduled our appointment on a Monday so that we could stay for the weekend, and they arranged things so that we could get a lot accomplished in our first visit and avoid multiple trips out of town.
Dr. Scotchie was amazing and answered all of our questions in great detail so that we had realistic expectations of the possible outcomes. She was so personable and seemed to really care about our situation, rather than viewing us as just another number like many clinics.
We were able to get all our questions answered, talk to billing, and fill out our paperwork in our first visit so that we could start IVF on the next available opening. This was a big contrast to our experience in Memphis, where we had to schedule multiple appointments in order to get the whole picture.
After I had a surgery to remove a polyp, we were finally ready to get started! Thanks to the generosity of a man at a local church in Chattanooga, we were able to stay in his guest house for free during the process. This saved us a lot of money because we had to stay for over a week so that they could monitor my body prior to egg retrieval.
We were excited but realistic of the expectations, since mini-IVF has a lower success rate than conventional. (By the way, TRM’s success rate for conventional is over 60 percent for women under 35, which is in the top 10 in the U.S. according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology – another reason we chose to come here.)
Unfortunately, the first attempt at IVF was unsuccessful since I had ovulated prior to the egg retrieval. We had already gotten off to a bad start since one follicle grew faster than the others, which meant they would only be able to retrieve one egg anyway. We were disappointed, but had faith in God and hope for success next time. So we regrouped, went back home, and waited for the opportune time to try again.
It only takes one embryo to get pregnant
After waiting a few months to correct some other issues with my hormone levels, we were finally ready to try again. We really wanted this time to be a success because I knew it would be very difficult for my husband to get away from work a third time to come to Chattanooga for another attempt.
Knowing this may be our last attempt at mini-IVF (and possibly at TRM), we prayed diligently that God would grant our request. We had been praying for some time that God would give us a child, and although things don’t always work out according to our timetables, we had an indescribable peace in our hearts that God was in control and would work it all out.
Our second attempt went much more smoothly than the first from the very beginning. After a week of monitoring and daily injections, we finally made it to the retrieval stage. This time, they were able to retrieve four eggs (compared with the one they would have retrieved last time)!
Then came the anxious five-day wait as we received updates from Shan (our embryologist) regarding the progress of our embryos. We tried to relax as much as possible during the waiting period and enjoy ourselves by watching a movie at the house or taking a walk outside. My husband was fortunate enough that his work allowed him to work remotely so that he didn’t have to use any PTO.
On day five, we got the news that our embryo was doing well and ready to be transferred. Only one of the embryos fertilized, but since it only takes one to get pregnant, we were optimistic as we left the clinic that afternoon and drove five hours back home. Nine days later, I had my blood drawn and got the call from Linda (my nurse) that afternoon telling me that I was very pregnant!
I am so grateful to God and to TRM for helping us reach this stage in our lives. Words cannot express our gratitude to all of the staff who encouraged us along the way; it is the first clinic I have ever been to where it felt more like a family than a doctor’s office. So, thank you once again, TRM!
I can honestly say that although infertility is a difficult thing to go through, it brought us closer together in our marriage than ever before. It also increased our faith in God and taught us patience that we did not have before. I have no doubt that the waiting and going through this process has prepared us to be better parents than we would have been if we had received the desire of our hearts as soon as we wanted it!
Faith and Andrew