Vacation IVF PART 3—“Don’t Worry, Sarah”: A Lesson in Trust and Letting Go

PART 3—“Don’t Worry, Sarah”: A Lesson in Trust and Letting Go.

“Don’t worry, Sarah.”  The words rang in my ears. I resisted these words, because they did not comport with my American, lawyer mind that is concerned with details, contingencies and specifics.  But these words were spoken by every member of the FCC team, almost like a mantra, and in the end, they were probably the best advice I received.  

As soon, as I chose my egg donor, the clinic liaison sent me a one page document via email that constituted “The Contract” with the Clinic. Being a lawyer, the “Contract” was laughable.  And I was shocked to learn that I needed to pay a deposit of $1300 to the liaison, but I paid nothing to the Clinic until I arrived. I was even a little unsure whether the Contract specified that my particular egg donor had been retained and would be the donor no matter what. 

I first heard the words when I was syncing my cycle with the egg donor’s.  It’s not a complicated process but I needed to inhibit my own ovulation and then start taking estrogen to build my uterine lining for at least 14-16 days before the transfer.  My period came early and I ended up having to take estrogen for about 4-5 weeks before the transfer.  Of course, I immediately jumped online and started researching but I couldn’t find anything very satisfying.  Instead the Clinic assured me over and over, “Don’t worry, Sarah.  You can be on estrogen for up to 3 months.” I had no choice but the trust them, but I did continue to have dreams of my lining over thickening, an issue, I dreamt up.

Then there was my small cervix that sits at a difficult angle for IUI’s.  When I was still receiving care from the fancy reproductive clinic in the Bay Area, they had suggested I come in for a mock transfer.  And, the explained a whole host of procedures that could be used to encourage my cervix to open to make the embryo transfer easy.  However, after they fired me as a client, I no longer had this option.  So, I immediately set to work asking FCC, “Can I do a mock transfer in Mexico? Do I need to arrive in Mexico a few days earlier in order to do the mock transfer and have enough time to give me medications to get my cervix to open if necessary? What if my cervix is too closed? 

The response came, “Don’t worry, Sarah.  You can do a mock transfer when you arrive here.” 

I arrived in Cancun on a Monday for my first appointment. The clinic was beautiful, with white sparkling floors and professionally dressed, English speaking staff.  I was greeted by Emma the clinic administrator.  “Do you have a copy of your Contract? ” she asked. “I can’t find yours.” Luckily, I had it with me so I could give her a copy. 

“Do you have a contract with the egg donor releasing her maternal rights,” I asked.  On my way to Cancun, I had been reading books about egg donation and realized that I should ask about this contract.  “Yes, we have a contract with her.  Don’t worry.”  Part of me thought I should push harder to see it, but instead, I decided to trust. 

I was then escorted down the hall into a beautiful state of the art examination room.  It was a gorgeous room with attached bathroom and changing room more akin to a nice hotel than a doctor’s office.  A doctor came in and introduced himself.  Dr. Gaytan was away on business so this doctor, whose name I never caught, would be doing an ultrasound of my uterine lining to make sure it was ready for implantation. “What about the mock transfer?”  I asked.  He looked at me with a puzzled look.  Of course there was nothing in my chart about it and he seemed confused and reluctant to do the test. I almost jumped off the table and strangled him.  “Don’t worry, Sarah.  It will be okay.  We will try to do the mock transfer.  I usually do not suggest them because there is a risk of disturbing the uterine lining.  And, there are many things I can do at the time of the transfer to open your cervix if there are any problems.”

I sat fuming and upset on the ultrasound table, wishing I could talk to Dr. Gaytan, instead of the assistant doctor.  “Don’t worry, Sarah.  We will try to do one.”  He had me drink water and then wait an eternity to do the test.  In the end, he did the mock transfer with no trouble at all.  The catheter passed my cervix without any issue and the lining was not disturbed.  

 And, even better, they didn’t charge me extra for the mock transfer even though it was not included in the fees I had paid.  (I noticed throughout the process that they did not add on a bunch of extra fees.  They accepted my sperm samples and are continuing to store them for me at no charge.  They incurred several administration fees from customs and the health department for which they did not charge me either.)

The next item on my agenda, “How is my donor doing?  How many follicles does she have?” 

“Don’t worry, Sarah.  She is doing well.”  I had been expecting updates from the Clinic about how many follicles my donor was maturing long before I arrived at the Clinic.  So now to be told she was doing well, with no details, again spiked my blood pressure.

“What does that mean?” I asked as calmly as possible. 

“She has more than 15 follicles,” the Doctor assured me, but would not give me specifics.  I had friends who had been through IVF, in which the doctors gave them a detailed blow by blow of the process, the number of eggs, how big, which ovary etc.  So, I was expecting much, more information.  But once again, I was being asked to trust the process and calm down and so I did.

Two days later, on Wednesday, they retrieved my egg donor’s eggs (one day later than originally planned).  Once the eggs were harvested, I was given daily updates about the number that had fertilized and how many survived each day. They harvested 23 eggs, 22 of which fertilized.  But at one point they told me I was scheduled to come in for a Day 3 transfer.  When I pushed them and asked whether it made sense to wait until Day 5 since I had 22 fertilized eggs.    The response “Don’t worry, Sarah.  You can come in for a Day 5 transfer.” 

“But wait, I’ll defer to the doctor.  What does he think is best? I’m just curious because I’ve read that Day 5 transfers have many benefits.” 

The response kept coming back, “Don’t worry.  You can come in on Day 5.”  I never received a satisfying answer about the change of days.  But again, I told myself to trust.  I was just now beginning to realize that “Don’t worry” was the clinic’s mantra.  But, instead of freaking out, I sat back and realized that every time they had told me not to worry, it had been the perfect advice.

For 5 days I waited on edge for the embryos to mature into blastocysts.  By the following Monday, I took a private taxi from Tulum back to the Clinic in Cancun to have the embryo transfer.  After I changed into a gown, the assistant doctor came to greet me in the room.  He brought with him a picture of the TWO embryos he was planning to transfer.  “What?  Two.  But I only want to transfer one.  I did a lot of research and as far as I can tell, the success rate is so high, that if you don’t want twins, you should only transfer one, correct?”

“That’s correct. Don’t worry, Sarah, we will only transfer one if that’s what you want.” 

“Yes, that’s what I want.  But how do I choose the embryo?” I asked.  As I stared at both pictures I had the distinct feeling that I was choosing between a boy and a girl.  I decided that I had been too involved in the process that would normally be taken over by nature and wanted to allow fate to have some role in the process. 

“Let’s allow the embryologist to decide,” the doctor suggested. 

“Yes! That’s perfect.  The embryologist should decide which embryo is stronger.” 

The transfer went smoothly and I traveled back to Tulum in my private taxi without incident.  I was not allowed to swim in the ocean and told to take it somewhat easy.  I enjoyed my last three days in Tulum and returned to the US to endure the dreaded two week wait.

There were some challenges I had to face by going to Mexico but in the end they were all worth it to me.  I can’t say the service I had received from the reproductive clinic in the US had been in any way satisfying.  I was given the wrong information many times, and had to constantly ask for clarification or remind the patient coordinator of my unique circumstances.  I was paying a high price for service in the US, but instead I was put in a factory assembly line and told to comply. 

In Mexico, people are generally more relaxed but at times slightly less diligent and detail oriented, but they make up for it in sweetness and genuine care.  I had to let go of my lawyer mind that is constantly worrying about details and all the things that could go wrong and simply trust.  Not to mention that being on vacation in Mexico, swimming in salt water, taking long walks on the beach, dancing with friends, eating great food also helped soften my ever-vigilant mind and allowed me to trust that everything would work out for the best. I’d done my homework and hadn’t found any complaints from pervious customers about FCC.   And, the minute I found the clinic, my gut had said it was the right choice.  So, I kept returning to that knowledge and relaxed into the process.  For many people the relaxed attitude and lack of details would not work.  But for me it actually provided a necessary piece of the puzzle. 

When I returned home, I was relaxed and content from a fabulous vacation.  Best of all, I wasn’t worried.  In two weeks, I would either be pregnant, or I'd be told I needed to return to Cancun for another transfer.  I still had 6 strong embryos in storage and worst-case scenario, I’d have to spend another few weeks in Mexico.   .   I spent a mere $7500 instead of anywhere between $40,000-$60,000 for an egg donor in the US.  If I didn’t get pregnant on the first try, the subsequent embryo transfers would only be $3,500.

About 12 days after my embryo transfer, I broke down and took an incredibly sensitive home pregnancy test. (We all know how hard it is to actually wait the prescribed 14 days.)  I couldn’t believe my eyes.   It was time to celebrate.    I was PREGNANT!!

© Choice Mama Baby Project 2013