Sunday, August 28, 2016


I am officially 7dp5dt. That's IVF lingo for "7 days past 5 day transfer". Our embryo is 12 days old (or maybe 13 since they count fertilization day as day 0). That assumes, of course, that our embryo is still alive and growing. I hope it is, but thinking about it too much leads me down the worst-case scenario rabbit hole.

So I've been trying to keep busy. That was easy last week since work has been super stressful. I never thought I'd be glad for stress but it does keep my mind busy! Just in case you were worried (as I was) that stress could affect IVF success, it doesn't.

But I can't stay busy all the time. It's after the lights are off, the house is quiet, and I'm laying in bed at night that the fun over-analyzing and fretting begin. To be honest with you, I have had no real symptoms to speak of ... maybe a couple small things, but really anything that I do feel could be attributed to all the progesterone I'm taking. I'm also taking estrogen, so to say I'm hormonal would be an understatement. In the past, any symptom would be googled and thought about and timed and counted. Now, since I'm feeling nothing, I'm thinking about the possible reasons for that. Trying to prepare myself for bad news. How will we move forward? What if I have polyps again and the little embryo couldn't implant (this one haunts me!)? Should I test early to prepare myself?

I have blood tests scheduled for Wednesday and Friday morning. We will not get the results until Friday afternoon after the second test. They do two tests just in case the first is a false positive. I'm getting more nervous as Wednesday approaches. I'm sure this week will be much more difficult than the last. But there's nothing to do now except wait and hope and pray and wait ...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Embryo Transfer

Today was our embryo transfer day! I slept pretty well given my nerves. I slept horribly Friday night so that is most likely the reason. At any rate, we were due at the IVF center at 10 with transfer scheduled at 11. Let me tell you, that was the longest hour ever!
Mike got to sport some cool booties
Per their instructions, I took the Valium I was prescribed once we arrived. I probably should have taken it earlier, though, since it didn't really kick in until after the whole thing was over, so I was a nervous wreck throughout. The doctor attempted to soothe me by saying it wouldn't be painful and would be over quickly, but it was more the realization that "THIS IS IT", the culmination of the whole physically, emotionally, and financially draining process, that had me on edge.

Before the transfer began, the embryologist came in to give us a progress report on our embryos and to tell us how many they would be transferring. I had thought earlier that we would be called during the week and given an update, but I was mistaken, so this was the first we had heard anything since our egg retrieval. Out of 28 eggs, 22 were mature, 20 fertilized, and 4-5 were perfect. She is watching the others for one more day and she expects 3-4 more to be at a stage where they can be frozen. So that will be a total of 4-8 frozen. And here, without further ado, is our single perfect embryo that was implanted.
If the embryo implants, the clump of cells at the bottom will become the fetus and the cells along the edge will become the placenta. The little cells popping out at the top are the embryo starting to hatch from its shell. It has to hatch to implant so this is a good sign.

Finally it was time!
The whole procedure lasted maybe 10 minutes, and was slightly uncomfortable, but not painful. It was very reassuring to have Mike with me, holding my hand. If we can't make a baby the "normal" way, then at least we could be together for this. This picture is hard to make out, but the little white dot above the cursor is the droplet of fluid containing our embryo inside my uterus. Hurray!
So now we wait. I have to call tomorrow and schedule two blood pregnancy tests two weeks from now. I'm sure it will be a long two weeks with lots of false and/or real symptoms, but what is two more weeks when it has taken us two years to get to this point.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Egg Retrieval

They got 28 eggs! Holy cow! I was pretty shocked to hear that when I woke up, especially since I had only had 14 follicles at my last ultrasound. Apparently, 10-14 is about average so I definitely overproduced. Unfortunately, this also puts me at a high risk for OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) where your abdominal cavity fills with fluid. They added an additional medication to my daily protocol, told me to drink a lot of Gatorade, and I have to go back on Friday for an OHSS check. I have been doing a lot of Googling about it (bad idea, I know!) and found myself in a total panic last night when I realized I was 6 lbs heavier than I was in the morning! Luckily, after a night of peeing, I was down 5 lbs this morning. Whew. I am still super bloated (I look several months pregnant) and quite uncomfortable. My ovaries hurt when I'm in a sitting position so I've been laying on the couch all day. I'm going to try to go to work tomorrow, though, so we'll see how that goes.

We should get a call from the embryologist tomorrow to let us know how everything is looking and when our transfer will be, although the nurse said before we left that with so many eggs, it will most likely be on Sunday. Depending on how the OHSS check on Friday goes, there is a chance that the transfer could be cancelled and all the embryos put on ice. If that happens, we would have a frozen embryo transfer in a month or so. Hopefully, it won't happen, but I'm putting it on my radar so that I'm not totally deflated if it does.

Monday, August 15, 2016


Tomorrow is our egg retrieval and I am totally ready and not ready all at the same time. I feel super gross: bloated, sore, gross metallic taste in my mouth constantly from the antibiotics, bruised from blood draws and stomach shots (Mike went two for four for hitting blood vessels with Sunday's shots). So I am ready to feel better (especially the metallic taste needs to GO AWAY ... blech!). But I'm also super nervous. How many eggs will they get? How many will fertilize? What if I end up having low quality eggs? How will I feel after the procedure? What if I get OHSS? This is what will keep me up tonight. In the end, though, I know it's out of my control. I just have to hope and pray for the best.

The game plan for tomorrow is to leave at 6:00 am to arrive at the doctor's office at 6:30. Mike makes his contribution at 6:40ish then I go back at 7:00 with the surgery scheduled at 8:00. The doctor will aspirate all follicles greater than 18mm or so and then an embryologist immediately looks under a microscope to see if there is an egg or not. I think we should know by the time we leave how many eggs they managed to get. They said the procedure itself is pretty fast (15-20 minutes), but I have to recover from the anesthesia which takes about an hour. Fingers crossed we are home and relaxing by 10!

After the procedure, each mature egg will be injected with sperm via ICSI and then we wait to see whether they grow or not. Hopefully, there are several that fertilize and are growing at the expected rate. The quantity and quality of the embryos will determine when and how many embryos we transfer (1 or 2). The transfer will be sometime between Friday and Monday if all goes as planned. Any extra embryos are frozen for future use.

So that's the plan. I find that if I focus on the plan and what is the immediate next step, sometimes I can stop my mind from diving into "what if?" rabbit holes ... sometimes. We'll see if I can do that tonight!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

All the Follicles

I had an ultrasound today and I have ten follicles close to or greater than ten mm in my right ovary and four in my left (such an under-performer!). I knew there was a lot going on in the right because I've started to wake up from achy pain in that area. The nurse was super happy with my progress (it's day six of stimming). The goal is to get them to around 18-20 mm at the time of retrieval so we are right on track. I cannot even imagine how I uncomfortable I will be then.

Speaking of retrieval, we are officially scheduled for Tuesday morning! Crazy. We have to be there at 6:30 am for Mike's appt at 6:40 and then I go in at 8:00. I won't go into details about the procedure because it sort of makes me cringe, but feel free to go here to read more about it and to see a lovely picture. Suffice it to say, I'm glad I will be asleep!

Things are going so smoothly that I feel like something has to go wrong soon. I mean, we don't have the best track record. I keep hoping things will go well while at the same time trying to temper my expectations. Even if everything goes perfectly from here on out, the odds of a successful pregnancy are only 60-65% at the highest. I guess I shouldn't say "only" since that's much better than the usual 20%, but it's not a guarantee. We could go through all this and fail in the end. It's sad to think about, so I try not to, but it's always there in the back of my mind.

Anyway, enough worrying ... one step at a time ... egg retrieval here we come!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Estradiol Levels

We started the stimulating meds on Saturday. The tentative plan was for the shots on Sat and Sun to contain four vials of meds and then decrease to three vials for Mon - Wed. I was scheduled for blood work this morning and blood work and an ultrasound on Wednesday. After the blood work this morning, I got a call from the doctor saying my estradiol levels were a little high ("which is perfectly okay!"), so they want me to decrease to two vials tomorrow and come in a day early for the ultrasound.

They told me that my estradiol level was 327 which means absolutely nothing to me, so I did some googling and it seems that most women are at or near 100 after three days of stimming. Of course, everyone has a different IVF protocol, with different meds, etc, so who knows what the actual "normal" level is. I can tell something is going on because I haven't been feeling great today: I didn't sleep well, my ovaries feel sore, and I've head a headache since the afternoon which just won't go away. If these are side effects of the meds and/or high estrogen levels, then I will have to live with them for another week since my egg retrieval is tentatively scheduled for Monday. Here's hoping at least the headache goes away before then.

On a side note, I also had my post-op appointment for my polypectomy this morning. (Yes, I had a busy morning!). The doctor I met with was the one who did the first surgery. He acted confounded by the quick reappearance of the polyps and wondered aloud whether they were "compressed" during his surgery. I could tell he felt a bit guilty. He was glad to hear that we are doing IVF and said good things about the IVF doctor. I mentioned the cost and he said my doctor is pretty affordable (as far as IVF goes) and then mentioned that his friends in GA had spent upwards of $120K on IVF cycles. Who has that kind of money laying around for IVF?! I guess it's a small blessing that the one place within an hour of us approved by my insurance is significantly more "affordable"!