IVF #1: T Is For Transfer Day (And Thanksgiving!)

Here we are, in all our smocked glory.
Here we are, in all our smocked glory, ready to transfer the crap out of some embryos.

Transfer day! We arrived at our clinic this morning at 9 am. I was calm and centered. I felt confident that we would have at least one embryo — hopefully a blastocyst — to transfer. After my last post, I think I just needed to give myself a few hours to feel sad and adjust my expectations before moving forward. So I did that. And then I felt much better.

For those who might not know, a blastocyst is an embryo in a later stage of development, the final stage before implantation. Doctors consider it ideal to transfer embryos at this stage (I think because by then they can distinguish the quality more accurately), although tons of pregnancies have resulted from embryos transferred earlier.

After we arrived at the clinic, I immediately went to acupuncture, which was lovely. I reclined in the dark on a table and talked to my embryos (in my head, of course). I told them how excited I was to meet them and how they were going to love their sister and how they had a whole slew of people rooting for them.

After that, Tim and I went back and changed into our gowns to await the doctor and the embryologist. Thankfully, the doctor this time was not the Ovarian Overlord from my retrieval. I had never met this one before, but he was great — full of jokes and smiles. I liked him immediately. Then the embryologist came in to tell us the fate of our little dudes.

As soon as he saw her, the doctor said, “Hey, how many are we transferring?”

And she said, “Well, now isn’t that the question.”

Hmmmmm….what could that mean?!

Basically, the deal was that there was one top-quality blastocyst totally ready to go. She went through why it looked great, but I don’t remember much except that it was already hatching. Hatching is good, although I’m still not sure why. So woo to that!

Then she said there were two morulas. A morula is an embryo in the developmental stage before it becomes a blastocyst. She said we could transfer the blastocyst and one morula, but she’d recommend transferring just the blastocyst and letting the morulas grow another night.  Because I ovulated 5 days ago, my uterus is ready to accept a 5-day-old embryo, whereas a morula is developmentally only 4 days old. So she thought the morulas would actually have a better chance at surviving outside of my body right now. Does that make sense? I think it makes sense to me, but I’m having trouble explaining it without sounding like a dweeb. She suggested letting the morulas grow one more night and then if they looked good tomorrow, she’d freeze them. She said she guessed the one better-looking morula would probably make it to freeze, but maybe not the other one.

As soon as she explained the situation, I blurted out, “Let’s just transfer the blastocyst!” Tim wasn’t sure, though, so they left us to chat it out for a few minutes. In the end, we decided to give our two morulas the best chance to survive and transfer the one blastocyst. Plus, Tim was freaking out about twins last night, so we took this as a sign that one was the way to go.

At my age (37), the official recommendation is to transfer two, but the embryologist seemed to think that since this one was such nice quality, we’d still have a good chance at success.

Without further ado, here it is, our one “beautiful” (embryologist’s word, not mine) blastocyst:

Purty, purty.

The actual transfer part was quick and awesome. We saw our embryo for few seconds on a giant flatscreen TV, getting ready for its big moment. The mood in the room was festive. Everyone was making jokes about the embryo “looking for real estate” and being “ready to move in.” Tim and I were pretty much bursting with excitement. I felt good, guys. Really good. A couple minutes later we watched on the ultrasound screen as the catheter went into my uterus and then the embryo burst out of it. So cool!

Now we are back home and I am chilling with my favorite little lady. Can I just tell you how excited I am for two days of bed rest? The luxury! Plus, I somehow scored this reprieve on Thanksgiving, which means I don’t have to cook or clean or set a single thing. BOOM!

Me and my girl.

Thanksgiving. On this day of gratitude, I have an abundance of food to eat, a husband to love, a daughter I adore and a fragile, new life inside of me. I truly have so much to be thankful for.

IVF #1: Day 3 Report & Trying To Stay Positive

Ok, so all five embryos are still alive. That’s good.

The two that looked “perfect” yesterday still look good today (although the embryologist definitely did not call them perfect again today).

The other three do not look so hot for various reasons. One is fragmented, one the embryologist said she “doesn’t like the morphology” (whatever that means) and one is just a slow poke—it’s only 4 cells when she’d like to see at least 6 or 8.

She thinks the two good ones will make it to day 5 and the other three might not make it or won’t be good enough to freeze. She says she’s been wrong before, but that’s her best guess based on experience.

I went through lots of emotions during that one phone call. Hooray, they’re still growing! Boo, none to freeze! And finally, holy sh*t, what if NONE make it to day 5 or are good enough quality to transfer? What then?

That sobering thought is what I’m left with right now. I know that’s a huge What If, but the thought is still really freaking me out.

This whole process is one giant mind f*ck, and right now I just feel sad. I know I should be happy that we still have two good-looking embryos—and I am—but the uncertainty is winning out. Hopefully those two can stay strong. Please stay strong, little dudes!

If anyone has some good juju laying around that they could pass my way, I could really use it. Because right now my stores are depleted.

IVF #1: Day 2 Report

Holy moly, this day got away from me. I’m sorry I am just now updating you guys.

Here’s the deets. Of the six embryos that fertilized:

One is acting like a kook and not dividing normally, so it’s out of the race. I applaud it, though, for being an original.

Two have turned into “perfect” 4-cell embryos.

Two are 3-cell embryos. One of those 3-cellers is fragmenting and the embryologist suspects that it might also drop out.

One is a 2-cell embryo.

So we have five left. Five, five, five! Keep going, guys! You can do it!

As of now, we are tentatively set for a day 5 transfer on Thursday — Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed that things are still looking good when I get the call from the embryologist tomorrow. And please keep sending your thoughts and prayers to my little buddies hanging out in the petri dish. They are obviously loving all the attention because whatever you’ve been doing is working!

I’m feeling so much gratitude tonight. And so much hope.

IVF #1: Fertilization Report

Alrighty, the numbers are in. Out of 10 eggs collected:

Two were immature.

Two fertilized abnormally (like, two sperm jammed in one egg or something like that).

Six fertilized normally.

So out of the mature eggs that they collected, 75% of them fertilized normally. I really don’t think I can complain about that. Do I wish there were more? Sure. But I am very happy we still have six in the running.

The embryologist said that so far the six all look good. She said tomorrow she’ll be looking to see if they’ve cleaved, and she wants to see them either two cells or four cells. Once she sees the state of them in the morning, they’ll make the decision on whether to go for a day three or day five transfer. I’m really, really hoping we can do a day five transfer, as I’ve heard the results are better that way.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling low since the egg retrieval yesterday. I do think a huge part of it is a letdown after a giant buildup. Before, at least I was doing something. I was injecting myself. I was getting acupuncture. I was eating healthy.  But now? There’s not a thing I can do. It’s completely out of my hands. I just have to remind myself to keep surrendering.

I’ve been stress eating to compensate for my lack of control and it’s been awesome. I ate a cupcake and cookie from favorite gluten free bakery yesterday, I housed a bag of BBQ chips and today I went to the movies and ate a giant tub of popcorn. I didn’t have much of an appetite during stims, but I think it’s back now, yay!

So now, I wait. Oh, and just for fun, while I’m waiting, I’m going to get another root canal (I wish that were a joke, but it’s not), If you have thoughts or prayers to spare, please pass some along to my six little embryos. I really appreciate everyone’s support so far — way, way more than I could ever adequately express.

I hope my embryos are fighters. I hope they’re strong. And I hope they know that I already love them.

IVF #1: Egg Retrieval

This morning started off nice and early. I woke up at 3 a.m., two hours before my alarm was set to go off. I was way too excited to go back to sleep, so I checked my email and was surprised to see a “Thinking about you tomorrow!” note from my doctor. I heart her.

The actual procedure was uneventful. We got there around 6:45 and they got me settled in pretty quickly. The doctor stopped by to see if I had any questions. Naturally, it was the dreaded doc from last Monday’s ultrasound. Womp-womp.

I wasn’t really nervous until I actually got to the OR and then I just started to feel awkward. It was freezing. I had to put my feet in the largest stirrups known to man. The whole time the nurse and the anesthesiologist were getting me ready, the doctor was standing near the wall, facing me with his arms crossed like some sort of overlord. It was kind of creepy. It’s all good, though, as I was probably only in there for five minutes before I passed the hell out.

I woke up sitting in a recliner in the recovery area. One of the nurses told me I was done and I immediately asked, “Was I talking?” That is my greatest fear with anesthesia. The last time I went under, about a year ago, a nurse told me I woke up chatting and was going on for about 15 minutes before I was aware of it. She never told me what I said in those 15 minutes, but it still makes me nervous thinking about it. Anyway, the nurses today said I wasn’t jabbering when I woke up, but who knows if that’s true!

They retrieved 10 eggs. I know this is a decent number, but I have to admit I was still a little bummed that out of 16 follicles they only got 10. I don’t know if it was the anesthesia wearing off, the let-down after the huge build-up to retrieval or the fact that I’d been up since 3 a.m., but I started crying as soon as I left the surgery center. I’m really nervous about fertilization, as we are doing traditional IVF and not ICSI. For those who don’t know, ICSI is a technique where they inject an individual sperm into each egg to aid fertilization. In traditional IVF, they basically throw the sperm and the eggs in a petri dish and let them go to town. The nurse today told me that there is typically a 50% fertilization rate. And then I’ve heard that, after fertilization, roughly half the embryos make it to day 5. So if all of those numbers are true, we’re looking at roughly 2.5 embryos remaining (if everything goes smoothly, of course). I know all it takes is one, but I would love the luxury of ending up with one or two to freeze. I guess we’ll see what happens. Unfortunately, my crystal ball is broken at the moment. I’m just praying that those 10 eggs are mature and of good quality!

I think that’s the worst part about this whole process — the unknown. Will the embryos fertilize? Who knows! Will they continue to grow? Who knows! Will they implant and lead to a successful pregnancy? Well, ain’t that the biggest unknown of all.

All in all, the morning went smoothly. For some reason, I still have yet to attempt a nap, so I think I’ll do that now. I’ll be sure to update with the fertilization report tomorrow!


IVF #1: Trigger Time!

Woop-woop! It’s trigger time, y’all! The “trigger shot,” typically administered 36 hours before egg retrieval, ensures that ovulation is perfectly timed.

I gave myself that shot tonight at 7:30. Which means…we are almost ready to go!

Holy crap. I’m so excited,

Egg retrieval is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Did I mention that I’m excited?

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post. All of your stories and words of support made me feel so much better. And guess what? You were right! At my ultrasound this morning I had 16 follicles! No idea how many will be mature as some of them were only around 12mm, but wow! You can all say “I told you so” now. And I shall hereafter listen to everything you say without question, oh Wise Ones.

With that, I’m heading off to dreamland. ‘Til Saturday, my friends!

IVF #1: A Bad Day

Zen has left the building. I’ve officially fallen off the Cliff of Crazy.

Maybe it’s the freezing rain. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s dark outside at 4:29 p.m. Maybe it’s the hormones. Maybe it’s because the doctor I saw this morning had the bedside manner of a gnat.

I don’t know. Nothing earth shattering happened today, but I feel like crap.

As mentioned above, I did not see my regular doctor this morning. What was the new doctor’s name? I have no idea because he mumbled so much that I didn’t catch it. He said everything looked fine, but didn’t tell me any follicle counts or sizes. I asked him how many follicles I had and instead of answering me he said, “Well, we don’t want to get excited about them until they’re at least 14mm.”

Ummmmm, ok? That’s not what I asked, dude.

I left there feeling incredulous. It’s cool for me to inject myself thrice daily, go in for regular break-of-dawn appointments and pay thousands of dollars, but you can’t answer a simple question about what’s going on in my own body? Not acceptable.

I was about to write a complaint email, but then got busy at work and decided to just wait and see what the nurse said this afternoon. Plus, I never write complaint emails because apparently I don’t have the cajones for that.

The nurse said there are five total follicles between 12-13mm and then some smaller ones. But again, she didn’t tell me the size of the smaller ones or how many. I always get so flustered on these phone calls because I’m hiding out in some random doorway or bathroom in my office building and worrying that a web developer or whoever can hear me talk about my ovaries, so I didn’t even ask.

I did ask her how many mature follicles she might expect me to end up with and she said maybe 5-10. Ok, fine, but when I was on a medium dose of Clomid I produced 4 mature follicles. So why on earth would I inject myself for 10-plus days just to maybe only get one more than that!? That makes no sense to me. I probably shouldn’t have even asked her that question and she probably shouldn’t have answered because now I am freaking out. Why aren’t the rest of the follicles growing? Is this normal? And why aren’t they upping my meds? I really just wish I could have seen my regular doctor. I also wish I knew more about this stuff so I didn’t feel so lost all the time.

That’s it right there. I feel lost today.

I know it’s early. I know I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. But the rational part of my brain has gone on vacation. Probably to somewhere warm. With 24 hours of sunlight.

Has anyone that’s been through this had follicles catch up after day 6 of stims? Thirty-Year Old Nothing, I know that happened to you and I just re-read your old posts for encouragement. Anyone else?

Ok, deeeeeeep breath. I’m off to see my acupuncturist for the first time since starting injections. May she needle me happy!