Monday, February 9, 2009

A womb away from home: co-culture

I went in today to get my blood drawn for the endometrial co-culture. The RE's office had said to be prepared for it being a lot of blood, and boy, they were not kidding. You know those huge syringes they use to draw your blood the day before retrieval? (At least at my clinic they use these). They filled FIVE of those. I don't have a blood or needle phobia, but geez, if you did, this would be brutal. As it was, I felt a bit woozy.

For those not familiar with endometrial co-culture, the basic idea is that next week my RE will take a tissue sample from my endometrial lining and then culture it in the lab (I believe in this vat of blood I just contributed).

Later, after I go through stimulation and egg retrieval, they will grow the embryos in this cultured tissue, sort of a womb away from home for the little ones. The idea is that the living tissue can remove toxins and introduce growth factors that will encourage better quality embryos than I would otherwise have. We shall see.

It felt weird to be back at my NYC RE's office after our second opinion last week. Like my head is still spinning. Do I believe my great NYC RE who thinks we have a really good chance? Do I believe the CCRM doc who thinks that we do not? More than ever before, I felt like I was going through the motions. Often in the past, even sitting in the RE's waiting room, I have had this sense of hope, of progress toward having a family. Today, I felt, well...woozy. And like I was just showing up.

Hopefully just showing up and doing what I am supposed to medically for this cycle will be enough to give it its best chance. It's just so odd to be going into it thinking that it will almost certainly fail. Maybe this is normal after three tanked IVFs? I don't know. I just never thought we would be at this stage with no baby in sight.


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  1. I hear ya on the "I never thought I'd be here". I think the culture for growing the embryos sounds awesome. It makes a lot of sense to my non-scientific brain. Good luck!!!

  2. How confusing and frustrating that must be. And so surreal. I'm sorry you're dealing with all this and really hope this is it for you.

  3. Wow! That sounds so high-tech (like any of this isn't science fiction, to me!) I can understand your feeling ambivalent about this all, but at the same time, it sure sounds like your docs are trying the things they should be trying. My fingers are crossed so hard for you! GOOD LUCK!

  4. I feel like I am just showing up a lot of time - just going through the motions. Self-preservation, I think. Hoping co-culture is just the ticket for you!

  5. isn't it so impressive what we can do with modern medicine? as if taking an egg and a sperm and making an embryo outside of the body is not cool enough...they can create a artificial-Mo-endometrial lining, too? how neat! (i'm starting to sound like my dad).

    i think it's normal right now to be kind of dazed while you go through these emotions and process the information that you just got. it's not easy. definitely. you need some time. and that is perfectly normal!

  6. Yikes, the procedure sounds just awful. Glad you're home safe and sound. Sending you all sorts of good thoughts for a successful outcome on this new cycle...

  7. Sometimes just showing up is the best you can do. Since I'm not one of those "rah, rah, positive thinking" people, I don't think "just showing up" affects your chances one bit. You've been hit with a lot to deal with. It doesn't help your head when you feel like your body is one big science experiment.

    Mo, you have been poked and prodded more than enough for this lifetime. But as you wrote yesterday, YOU'RE HERE! I'm so glad for that. Big hug!

  8. 5 vials? Damn.
    Wow, I didn't know anything about endometrial co-culture. It sounds like a great idea, to culture your embryos in your own tissue. I think it's totally understandable to have your current mindset, and like Dora said, sometimes showing up is the best you can do. I will be keeping you in my thoughts this whole cycle and hoping hoping hoping for you.

  9. I had never heard of that. It sounds like it would be a good thing. I hope all works out. I know you have a tough couple weeks. Hang in there.

  10. Mo - right back at you. I am on #3.5 and some days the very best I can do is show up - it really, really takes a toll. The co-culture sounds fantastic - I have co-culture envy.

    I never thought I would be here either - I told Mr. M that I would not turn into 'ONE OF THOSE WOMEN' whose lives were overcome with the need to procreate - well, I am one now and I am filled with such mixed emotions...

  11. I hope the endometrial co-culture will help you guys to have a baby. By the way, I looked up some papers on endometrial co-culture on Pubmed, and the clinical results are promising. The following two articles definitely showed the improved success rate of live births using endometrial co-culture for patients with repeated IVF failures:

    1. Live births in poor prognosis IVF patients using a novel non-contact human endometrial co-culture system.
    2. Embryo transfer after autologous endometrial coculture improves pregnancy rates.

    You probably have read these articles already. I think you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting a second opinion. It is always better to have more options.
    I wish you all the best. As long as you have each other, anything is possible!

    Good luck!

  12. I really like the co-culture, sounds like it makes sense to me! Take care

  13. Hey you,

    Just catching up. You've have quite the last few days. I hope you can exchange wooziness for some clarity very soon.

  14. They never told me about the amount of blood and since I had to do it on a Saturday and we had to leave at 6am to get there in time I skipped breakfast. It was ugly. I had to buy a snickers at the hospital since I almost passed out! They will take more blood from you in cycle when they are getting ready to thaw your cells so be prepared to donate blood again! Poor embryos got my bum blood that the red cross won't even take.

    I didn't ever believe I would end up with 6 IVFs under my belt either. I even had the nerve to interview OBs before my first IVF... so silly and naive!

    I hope things work out for you. I remember how hopeless I felt after both my 3rd cycle and my CCRM consult (after my 4th cycle and 1st m/c). Best of luck.

  15. Hmmm. This co-culture thing sounds pretty cool. Anything that might help, right? Interesting concept.

  16. wow, co-culture sounds like a brilliant idea! Awesome. I'd be woozy, too. Sometimes I am from just one vial.
    I am hoping this is the extra help your embryos need.

  17. This is SO interesting to read about, and it totally makes sense. Sorry about the massive amounts of blood required, though. Yikes.

  18. If I weren't stalking you already, I would be now. The co-culture concept sounds fascinating! But I am sorry you had to get woozy to get started.

    I hear what you're saying about feeling like you're just showing up, but that in itself is something. You haven't given up hope, you ARE still trying and you are moving forward. Yes, I def. thought I would NOT be here, at this phase, with no babies to show for it, but my gosh, ditto what Dora said, YOU are here. And that is something special and good.

  19. I think that unless you get pregnant from your first cycle of clomid (ha), there is always this sense that you can't believe you're here, moving on to more and more least it has been for me, too. I am definitely also in that space of just going through the motion, but like a previous commenter said, I think that is okay -- you're showing up. And even if it doesn't feel like it, you're getting closer and closer to parenthood with every step, with everything new you try and learn. All the best to you -- I hope this very sensible-sounding co-culture idea works like a charm for you.

  20. I think it's normal to go in that way. I even went in that way with #3, cuz how can you not? YOu just get tired of seeing failure, of hoping and being beaten down. Wishing you lots of luck in spite of the shite circumstances you're stuck in.

    The co-culture thing is cool. I may have to read more on that...

  21. The co-culture just seems to be full of common sense.

    I think just showing up is enough. You can't be there w/ your giant "We're number one!" finger waving every visit.

    I really hope this is the one for you!


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