And just like that, we have made it through to our second fresh embryo transfer!
When I say, “just like that”, it kind of makes it sound like it was easy and fast, right? Well, no IVF cycle probably ever is either of those things! This second round was for sure not without it’s own drama, and excruciating waits. In fact, our second go around was probably more difficult mentally than was the first because I knew what to expect and had something to compare results and timing to.
So, I’ll start from the beginning of our stimulation. As mentioned in previous posts, I had some added injections and increase in dosages as compared to my first round. This meant that I was poking myself four or five times a day. We started our stimulation injections while we were out visiting family in Colorado, which meant we had to lug my vials of meds and syringes around in a cooler everywhere we went since they have to be refrigerated. That was a real drag!
I also had the weird experience of having to reconstitute (mix medicine powder with saline) my meds in a bathroom at the Pepsi Center the night Aaron and I went to an NHL hockey game. Nothing is more awkward and makes you feel like a drug user out in the open like trying to figure this out as an arena full of women are packing into the bathroom during an intermission.
Once we got back from Colorado, the fun of every-other-day blood draws and ultrasounds began. I don’t know why, but this period of time really was so much harder for me than the first time around. As soon as I would leave the office, I would be immediately wanting to know what the next office visit would bring. This made time go by SO slowly. Every visit, you learn a few things. First, about how many follicles are growing, as well as their sizes. Their sizing helps decide when they go in to retrieve them. That is coupled with your estrogen levels which is what the blood draw is for.
So, an office visit day usually goes something like this. Wake up early, because you’re nervous as to what the days information is going to bring. A few hours later, you drive to the office. Get your blood drawn almost immediately by the nicest phlebotomist who always asks how things are going and tries to make conversation that will make you smile. Walk back, get in the stirrups, learn your numbers and sizes. Then you leave….
And wait. You wait usually about 3-4 hours for a phone call from a nurse that will tell you what your estrogen level was for the day. This wait was always the worst part. My first cycle, estrogen levels were low and didn’t increase as quickly as they wanted them to. By the second appointment this go-round, we knew we were going to have the same problem.
Our ultrasound would always be really positive, and then I would wait those few hours to hear most likely bad news. On one of these days, I think maybe our 3rd appointment in, I answered the phone call to hear my doctor on the other line. He NEVER has called results, it’s always a nurse. So my heart sank immediately.
He said “you’re just not having the progress I would like to see”. Once again, here we were facing a cancellation. All the money, time and energy, down the tubes. Once again, I pleaded my case. I told him that even though it was moving slow, this cycle had so far resulted in more follicles, that were continuing to grow, and our estrogen levels (although still on the lower side), were higher than what they were at in the previous cycle. He agreed to give it a couple more days. And…thank God for nurses. I e-mailed my nurse to get some of the data from the previous cycle to compare it with this one, and she completely reassured me that I was right, and to stay positive and keep my head up.
I know I am a nurse, but I am going to throw this out there to all of you other ones reading this, because I know there is a good chunk of you doing so. You guys seriously have no idea how much your kindness and reassurance means to people who are on the other side. The nurses at this clinic have been my sanity through all of this, and it’s usually only from a wave, or a smile, or a small reassurance that they had no idea that I needed. On the worst day of this cycle, it was a nurse simply telling me to keep my head up that got me through and to the next appointment. You guys are important, and I love you all!
From that day out, things really finally started to go our way. Our estrogen bumped, our follicles grew, and we made it to stimulation and retrieval. Last time, going in to it, we knew we had 6. This time as they put me to sleep for the procedure, I really was not sure what number I would be waking up to.
Aaron was there when I woke up, and it was the first thing that I asked him. So quickly so, they hadn’t even had time to count them in the lab yet 😂
I have no idea who came in to tell us because I was still loopy from the meds, but we had 16 follicles retrieved this time, 13 of which were mature enough to attempt to fertilize!
I went home and slept off the meds and waited for the phone call which comes the next day to tell us how many successfully fertilized. TEN!!
We were so ecstatic with this number. To go from six last cycle to ten this time was a huge improvement and one we were so happy with. But, then you have to wait five days to see how many of them mature, and all of my fears set right back in. After doing this twice, I still think this is the hardest wait of the whole process. You get absolutely no updates as they don’t take the embryos out to check since this would change their environment. You hear absolutely nothing until you walk into the office for transfer 5 days later.
Our goal through this cycle was to have embryos to freeze. Yes, we would be happy with an embryo to transfer. But to have extra to freeze means that we don’t have to start over from step one in the future. In doing so, we would save so much money, time, energy, and emotions that going through this whole thing brings about.
I got in my head. Out of the six embryos we had during the first cycle, only one survived. Making that success rate only 16.6%. If I followed that math, with ten embryos, I would still only have 1.66 embryos survive out of 10. That’s a terrible head space to get caught up in.
We survived the week and went in yesterday morning for our transfer. I got in my gown, and Aaron in his garb. The doc walked in and told us the best news I have heard since we have started trying to have babies. We had embryo to transfer, and 3 to freeze!
As we wait to learn if our transferred embryo sticks and results in a pregnancy, our 3 frozen embabies will hang out at the clinic for the next year if not used, and then will be shipped to a storage facility in Minnesota until we decide to use them. So technically, we get to pay for some real high tech baby sitting already!
The joys of parenthood! 😂