Well, our IVF cycle turned into two cycles: one IVF egg retrieval cycle, and one FET (frozen egg transfer) cycle. When we started the IVF process, our nurse told us we would know whether or not we were pregnant by the last week of August. Due to OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation), we had to take a break between our egg retrieval and our transfer. We had to freeze the embryos that we thought we would transfer fresh. As a result, we will not be finding out whether or not we are pregnant until the third week of October.
Although we were initially disappointed at the setback, I am actually glad that we ended up having to freeze the embryos, as opposed to transferring them fresh. Deciding to freeze the embryos gave the clinic time to have them biopsied. Our retrieval resulted in 50 eggs (the large number of eggs was a direct result of the OHSS. We came in 2nd place for the record of how many eggs our clinic has ever transferred). 39 of those embryos made it to day 3, and 17 of them made it to day 5, which is the day the embryos get frozen. Of the 17 embryos that were biopsied, only 4 were “normal.” The rest had abnormalities, that, had they been transferred, would probably have resulted in unsuccessful transfers. So even though we were devastated to learn that we had only 4 normal embryos, we knew that those 4 were healthy, and that there was a good chance of them surviving the thaw and implanting successfully.
A little over two months ago, early on in the IVF process, I posted a “13 Words” post about my feelings surrounding IVF. Now that we have completed the process, I wanted to post another list of 13 Words that describe my feeling surround IVF. I wanted to post this before we find out whether or not we are pregnant, because I know that if we find out we are pregnant, my only feeling will be, “WORTH IT, WORTH IT, WORTH IT!”
So, having been through it, here were my most prevalent thoughts and feelings both during and after the process.
1) Hopeful- The dictionary defines hope as, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best.” I feel this every day.
2) Excited- The dictionary defines this as, “stirred emotionally; agitated.” I definitely feel both of those things every day!
3) Overwhelmed- So. Much. Medicine. There are so many needles! You give yourself shots, your husband gives you shots, and then you go to the doctor EVERY DAY for nine days, and they stick needles in you too, to get your blood! Then, the hyperstimulation led to emergency room visits, and daily visits to the fertility clinic, where fluid was drained from my ovaries over and over again. Toward the end of the cycle, after the transfer, you become overwhelmed with thoughts of what you should or shouldn’t be doing to help your embryos implant and thrive. You drive yourself crazy trying to avoid certain things that you used to not think twice about.
4) Exhausted- This word has five meanings in the dictionary. When I say it, I am referring to the second meaning: To use up or consume completely; expend the whole of. IVF has a way of exhausting my emotions, my thoughts, and my life over the course of three months. The IVF cycle that we expected to take a month and a half has ended up taking three months. Three long, hard months.
5) Peaceful- It took so much longer than we thought it would to even get this far… to get to and through the egg transfer. I feel really, truly at peace for the first time in such a long time. Even though we are now enduring the two-week wait, the moment that our egg transfer date arrived, I felt such an overwhelming peace that could only have come from God.
7) Out of control- For six weeks (or more), you basically put your body, your hormones, and your [future] baby into the hands of doctors and nurses. Your baby has not even been conceived yet, and already, your body is no longer your own. For us, that six weeks turned into 12+ weeks, as we ended up having to put the IVF on hold, and do a FET.
8) Uncomfortable- The shots are not painful, but they are certainly uncomfortable. The Menopur burns. It just feels uncomfortable to give yourself shots. It feels even more uncomfortable to let your husband give you shots. The hyperstimulation was beyond uncomfortable. It was excruciatingly painful, and the draining procedure was downright embarrassing.
9) Thankful- Although it really does suck that we could not just get pregnant the good, old fashioned way, I am so thankful that we were able to move forward with IVF. I know there are others struggling with infertility who would love to do it, but do not have the resources, be they money, time, or a doctor they trust. We are so fortunate to have gotten this far. And I am believing that it is all going to be worth it: every dime, every needle, every minute, every emotion.
10) Distracted- I forget what I am doing while I am doing it, and what I am saying while I am saying it. I let a loaf of bread burn to a crisp a couple nights ago. It was supposed to bake for thirty minutes. It had been baking for two hours when Andrew got home and asked why the oven was on. Scary. I left my purse behind four times in one week: twice in a Subway restaurant, once in Chipotle, and once in a Publix shopping cart (we normally do not eat out three times in one week, but this was the week that Andrew was out of school. We were running errands so frequently that we ate out WAY more than our usual once-a-week eating out).
11) Unexpected- Our IVF cycle was one curve ball after another. One delay after another. One frustration after another. We did not anticipate the severe hyperstimulation, which led to have having to freeze our embryos instead of transfer them fresh, which is what the plan had been. We did not anticipate having only 4 normal embryos, out of the 17 that were biopsied. We did not anticipate having a frozen embryo transfer six weeks, to the day, after we should have found out whether or not our fresh transfer worked. A six week delay felt like an eternity.
12) Relieved- I felt so relieved that we were finally moving forward with IVF. I no longer felt like it was 100% my responsibility to learn to manage PCOS, restore cycles and ovulation, and get pregnant on my own. I felt like I finally had some help, and some hope.
13) Prayerful. I believed every single day that it was going to work. Even now, during our two-week wait, I believe this is it. I believe that our embryos are going to implant and grow. But I pray for those little guys every second of every day… from the moment I heard we had four normal embryos, I began praying for all of them. And I have not stopped since.
I am convincing myself to keep believing every day, every moment of every day, that this is it. That these little guys are sticking, and that they are already beginning to grow healthy and strong. But, at 5 days post-transfer, I am also going a little crazy. I think I held it together so well the first three days after the transfer because Andrew was with me 24/7 during that time. Now that he is gone all day, and I am alone with my thoughts, I think I’m truly going nuts. I just cannot stand the thought of losing our little embryos. And I can’t believe how much I love them already!
Here is what’s going on with them at five days post-transfer:
- 1dpt….Blastocyst hatches out of shell
- 2dpt.. Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
- 3dpt.. Implantation begins as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining
- 4dpt.. Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
- 5dpt.. Morula is completely inmplanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
- 6dpt…Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
- 7dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
- 8dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
- 9dpt…HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT!!!
So, if everything is going as I am hoping and BELIEVING it is, our embryos have made their home inside my womb and are settling in for the long haul! I know that, logically, there is just as great a chance that neither of our embryos will implant and survive as that one or both of them will stick, but I am truly trying not to even let my mind go there. Without going into detail, I think I may have had some signs of implantation yesterday. Again, I am so aware of my body that I could just be inventing things, but it still gave me an extra dose of hope!
My biggest (and maybe my only?) complaint at this point is that the insomnia is killing me! On the bright side, it gives me a nice break from the weird Progesterone-induced dreams. I feel so tired in the evenings, and then the moment my head hits the pillow, I somehow feel like I could run a marathon (which I could never actually do, even in the best of conditions). I am walking every day, but honestly, I am walking pretty slowly, and not walking long distances (usually between two and three miles). I am only doing what is enjoyable: no more and no less. I’m sure that, as time goes on, after we find out we are pregnant and after it has been okayed by the doctor, I will pick up the pace significantly, but for now, just walking a bit feels right. So I am, more or less, doing the same things I mentioned doing in my three day post-transfer update. The exceptions are that I am walking a little more and I am not eating the pineapple anymore, as yesterday was my last day for that!
Every time I begin to worry, I start to pray. Needless to say, I’ve done a lot of praying over the past five days! I’ve also been talking to our little embryos more and more. So has Andrew. I’m hoping this is normal…
“There is no doubt in my mind that the Eternal One is in this place, and I didn’t even know it!”
-Genesis 28:16, The Voice Translation
There is no doubt in my mind that God has been with us, in this place… in this scary, overwhelming place. He’s been before us, beside us, and behind us every step of the way, even on the days when we did not know it. He has been in this place with us… this place of infertility and heartache and disappointment. He holds our little embryos in the palm of His hand, and He holds our lives in it as well. There is no better place we could be.