As many of you may know, when Andrew and I began the process of IVF, we did not anticipate doing a frozen embryo transfer. Our plan was to have the egg retrieval, and then have a fresh transfer 3-5 days later. Due to complications (OHSS), we were not able to have a fresh transfer, and had to wait several [long] weeks before beginning preparation for a FET.
About two and a half weeks ago, when my body had recovered from hyper stimulation, I was able to start taking birth control pills. I took them for two weeks, and two days after I stopped taking them, I started a period! At this point, I was able to call my IVF nurse and schedule a baseline ultrasound.
Of course when I learned that we would not be able to have a fresh embryo transfer, I started researching frozen embryo transfers to see what I could find out, and here is the scoop:
1) Natural cycle or hormone and drug cycle: Some women choose to do a natural cycle during which the embryos are thawed and then placed into the uterus four days after natural ovulation occurs. I am not doing a natural cycle. Instead, I am doing my FET cycle with hormones, for a myriad of reasons, one of which being that FETs with hormones have higher success rates than natural FETs. I will be wearing estrogen patches and either receiving progesterone injections or taking progesterone suppositories.
2) Easier preparation stage: Fewer drugs are involved with a frozen transfer (as opposed to fresh). There is no egg retrieval involved since that already happened during IVF. This makes for a less stressful preparation stage all the way around. Since there is no egg retrieval, there is no chance of hyper stimulation either!
3) No less emotional: Even though FET is less involved and less stressful than IVF, it is no less emotional. The emotional roller coaster is still present, and as tumultuous as ever! The preparation stage is still a drag, as the two-week wait will be also!
4) 75% of frozen embryos survive the thaw: We have four embryos. Our plan is to thaw two. If they both survive the thaw, we will transfer both. Obviously, if only one survives the thaw, we will transfer only one embryo. The 75% thing is really scary to me. I already feel attached to those four embryos, and I want them all to survive! As a side note: Once the embryos are thawed, they cannot be refrozen.
5) Thawed embryos get washed: Embryos that survive the thawing process (they are left on their own to slowly reach room temp) are washed in something that removes the cryoprotectant (a solution that helps protect the embryos during the thaw)…. So this is when they get their first bath! (:
6) The procedure takes only a few minutes: The doctor will place a catheter through the cervix into the uterus. The doctor will then attach a syringe to the catheter. The syringe contains the embryos and injects them into the catheter. Hopefully, the embryos will deposit into the uterus and attach to the lining (which will be nice and thick due to the estrogen and progesterone).
7) Remain lying down for 30 minutes after the transfer: While this may not be totally necessary, it certainly can’t hurt!
8) Keep taking the meds even after the transfer: After the transfer, I will continue the meds (estrogen and progesterone)… Not fun, but worth it!!!
9) Take pregnancy blood test 10-14 days later: And there it is… the two-week wait. Need I say more?
10) Pray, pray, pray: There is about a 40% success rate for FETs. That number is a little scary, but I know I serve a great, big God, and I am believing that He’s holding my embryos in his hands.
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