Frozen Embryos

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After all the excitement, stress, and relief of finding out how many eggs were fertilized we were now waiting for the next pivotal step…knowing the # of frozen embryos.

Since the change in plans with the embryo transfer, we were hopeful that there would be a sufficient # of embryos for freezing.  Because the embryos need to meet a certain criteria before freezing, they are given a few days to grow before they are rated, measured, and frozen.

So, as a little reminder, there were 10/12 eggs fertilized.  Five days later I was notified by phone that 6 of the 10 eggs were frozen.  (More on that # in a later post.)  I felt blessed and relieved because I knew 6 was more than sufficient.  You may be wondering if I had to pay $1,500 for freezing, after all, we agreed to freeze any remaining embryos.  Nope!  We didn’t have to pay for the freezing, yet.  If our IVF cycle went smoothly or as planned, we would be paying for the freezing immediately after the embryo transfer.  Since our embryo transfer was postponed, we did not have to pay for the freezing.  Once we do the transfer we will pay $1,500 to have the remaining embryos frozen.

I’m not sure how many embryos will be transfered, nor do I know how many of the embryos will survive thawing.  Only time will tell.

Well, I received a calendar specific to the embryo transfer (ET).  I was surprised to find out that the ET was scheduled for July 25th.  I assumed that I would be doing the ET on the next cycle.  I was disappointed that I had to wait 2 months but after I thought about it and looked at all the medicines I still had, I knew it would take more than one cycle.

I was instructed to call on Day 1 and see the doctor on Day 3.  He wanted to see how the lining of my uterus looked.  So, of course, when I go in for my appointment, the lining looked great.  Lol.  And as usual, I had blood drawn.  The doctor also put me back on the birth control (active pills only) to maintain the lining of my uterus.

Two days later, I was informed (by an IVF coordinator) that my thyroid was low and I needed to take a blood test.  I, in turn, informed my PCP and did a blood test that same day.  The results revealed that my thyroid was in fact low…meaning I needed to increase my dosage.  How frustrating.  I knew it was related to the medications and changes my body experienced because of it.  The main reason for the frustration is that it usually postpones everything.  The thyroid is a priority but it can be frustrating when progress depends on it.  If you have to take thyroid medicine, you’ll know what I mean.  And, if you change dosages you pretty much lose a month.  The thyroid medicine takes 4 weeks to know whether it’s the right dosage or not.  If not, it needs to be adjusted and then another 4 weeks.  I hope that makes sense.

Since my ET was scheduled for July 25th, I had time to take care of my thyroid.  It was good and I was able to get my thyroid within the normal range. 🙂  In the meantime, I was still taking the active birth control pills.  During this time, emotions are quite calm and relaxed because there’s a lot of wait time.

A month before my scheduled ET, I followed my calendar and went in for an appointment.  I was surprised to find out, upon arrival that I was not on the schedule.  It was definitely a miscommunication.  Apparently they were awaiting the results of my thyroid test, which I received but had not given to them.  So, that day, I called my PCP and asked that the results be faxed to the fertility specialist.  My PCP’s nurse called me requesting that I sign a consent.  I was like, seriously?  I drove to the clinic, signed the consent, and it was faxed.  As soon as my IVF coordinator received my tests results, she called me.  She emailed me a new calendar (2nd) and scheduled my next appointment…exactly a week later.  My IVF coordinator informed me that the doctor would be doing a scan and SIS – test.

Blood is drawn each appointment and you squeeze the stress ball.  At one of my appointments, the lady who drew my blood asked if I wanted to take a stress ball home.  I reluctantly agreed.  It’s quite funny, I think.  Here is a picture of the stress balls.  I hope you get a great laugh, like I did! 🙂

Next post:  My SIS

Embyros & Answers

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After all that, I forgot to explain how the eggs are retrieved.  The eggs are retrieved vaginally, guided by ultrasound.  A very thin needle collects the eggs like a vacuum.  Not all the follicles that grow, produce eggs…that’s why it’s important to have the ultrasound.  Well, that’s a quick version of how the eggs are retrieved.

In a previous post I wrote about a crucial decision…ICSI or no ICSI.  We chose not to do ICSI and now was the time see the result of that decision.

Around this same time, there was a story in the news about ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection).  The news came out of the UK addressing birth defects as a result of ICSI.  Here is a link to the article, check it out.

The article was definitely not something I expected to hear about while I was preparing for my egg retrieval.  Even before I knew how many of our eggs were fertilized, I felt our decision was validated.  Still, there was the uncertainty of not knowing, yet.

So the day after my egg retrieval, I called the doctor to find out the # of eggs fertilized.  I knew there were 12 eggs, but I didn’t know how many were fertilized, which I REALLY wanted to know.  I felt as though everything weighed on that #.  Each step/milestone in the IVF process has its potential risks and you try your best to be prepared.  In reality it was important to know but it wasn’t everything.

It was after lunch while I was at work, that my IVF coordinator called.  I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect.  She said that 10 of the (12) eggs were fertilized.  I got teary eyed as she spoke to me.  I felt so blessed.  I immediately knew two things: 1, the Lord answered our prayers and 2, we made the right decision.  Right after we hung up, I called my husband to let him know.  He was just as happy as I was.  When we discussed it again later that night, I did a fist pump.  It was one of those things that I was SUPER excited about.  I knew that despite all the pressure I felt to do ICSI, it wasn’t necessary. The Lord saved us $1,500.  I felt so many things…blessed, relief, grateful, and hopeful.  I felt so good that I didn’t change my decision and I didn’t conform to the pressure to do ICSI.  I was grateful most of the eggs were fertilized and relieved that that part of IVF was done.  To me, it was successful and I was hopeful for the next step…the # frozen embryos.

Next post: Frozen Embryos

Egg Retrieval Day

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Ever feel like there’s not enough time in a day?  Well, that’s how I’ve felt the past couple of weeks…hence, the delay in my post!  I apologize for taking SO long to write another post and not keeping you updated on what’s going on!  Yikes!  Thank you for your patience!

The day before the egg retrieval, I went in just for blood work.  So, by that day my arms were pretty poked up…well, at least I thought so.  That night I made sure I knew what to expect the next day.

Instructions for Egg Retrieval:

I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight.  On the day of the retrieval I was to dress comfortably, leave all personal belongings, including jewelry at home, and not wear perfume.  My nose is pretty sensitive so, no perfume – not a problem.

Also, both my husband and I were instructed to take Doxycycline, an antibiotic the night before (the egg retrieval).  As a precaution I was notified about possible side effects such as bloating, bleeding, tenderness, and weight gain – the week after the retrieval.  I could take Tylenol and Metamucil as needed.  Tylenol for the pain and Metamucil for constipation caused by a combination of the IVF and pain medicines.  I was also encouraged to keep hydrated and drink juices such as Gatorade, etc.  I reviewed a paper with instructions and information about Ovarian Hyperstimulation.  This syndrome may happen as a result of the injections, 5-9 days after the egg retrieval.

I was instructed to arrive an hour before my scheduled time.  My egg retrieval was scheduled for 9:00am.  This meant that I would have to arrive at 8:00am and…traffic.  We arrived a few minutes late but it was ok.

I drove there and my husband drove home.  I had to arrange for someone to drop me off and pick me up, as part of the preparation for the egg retrieval day.  My husband took the day off to be with me.  Plus, the egg retrieval day is also the day his specimen was needed.  So, he kind of needed to be there anyways.  Lol.

If I were doing the embryo transfer 2-6 days later, I would have been taking addition medicines to prepare my body for that, such as Estrace, Medrol, and the Crinone gel.  But, since my embryo transfer was postponed, I only needed to take the Doxycycline.  Make sense?  Ok.

Egg Retrieval Day

I slept ok the night before the egg retrieval but I was still tired.  I felt bloated and had to wear loose fitted clothing.  If not, my ovaries hurt.  I knew it was because all of the injections and at that point the goal was to grow and mature the eggs.  It was now time to retrieve the eggs.

After traveling through traffic we arrived for my egg retrieval.  While we waited I was called to do blood work.  My poor arms – 4 days in a row.  Then I read through some things to expect and shortly thereafter, it was my turn!  We walked all the way to the back where there were 3 rooms with long curtains (no doors).  I was given instructions to change into the hospital robe…you, the one that ties in the back and you have to hold it otherwise it’s open.  I changed and laid on the bed.  My husband was called for his specimen.  In IVF, the day of egg retrieval is the sperm are needed, for obvious reasons…fertilization.

When my husband returned, he sat on the chair and we waited for the anesthesiologist.  I think it was just a few minutes.  When the anesthesiologist came in, she introduced herself as Dr. Wong.  She asked me a lot of questions, like my height, weight, medications and history, and then explained everything she was going to do.  Since my right arm was used for the blood work, she used my left hand.  She tied a rubber strip near my wrist to look for my vein.  She slapped my hand a lot, maybe she was trying to stimulate my blood or veins or something.  Lol.  I think that’s what caused the huge bruise I had later, but maybe it could have been the needle.  Anyways.

She cleaned my hand with an alcohol prep.  She first injected something to numb my hand before she inserted the IV needle.  She was good!!  I only felt a little pinch when she inserted the needle to numb my hand.  When she put the IV needle in I didn’t feel a thing…probably because my hand was numb.  Lol.  I didn’t have a best view of what she was doing because I was lying down.  She taped the needle in place and then hung the IV bag on a hook.  She explained that I would be sedated but I would still be able to hear everything around me.  She told me that right before the procedure she would given me the anesthesia.  Right after she left my husband told me, “Whoa, that was a big needle.”  I laughed because I know he’s not real fond of needles and blood work.  He had a good view of everything the anesthesiologist did.

A few minutes later, my IVF coordinator asked if I needed to use the bathroom before we go into the room.  She escorted me to the bathroom, carrying my IV bag.  She hooked it on to the door and then closed the door.  I went to the restroom, careful of the IV and the long tube attached to my hand.  I went back to my room and we waited until I was called to go in.  I knew the procedure would not be long because I heard the lady in the next room go and come back.

(Deep breath)  It was now my turn.  I left my husband waiting in the room and walked with my IVF coordinator to a different room.  I was instructed to lay on the bed.  I lifted each of my legs over these stationary poles, so my knees were bent.  I don’t know what they’re called but they were pretty comfortable.  The anesthesiologist was already there along with a MA (I think that’s her title).  I never meet her before.  They helped me get situated and comfortable.  My IVF coordinator asked me to verify my name and date of birth which was on a screen to my left.  Then she let the doctor know I was ready…he was in another room.  The doctor came in while the MA was taking my blood pressure.  Since I didn’t sleep that great the night before, I figured I would relax.  I took a few deep breaths and then I felt the surge in my hand from the anesthesiologist.  I fell asleep.

When I got up, I was laying on the bed in the room.  My husband was looking at me asking me how I felt and if I wanted water.  I told him I was ok and that I didn’t want water.  I rested on the bed for a little while and then one of the IVF coordinators came in and removed the IV.  She bandaged me up and then I changed.  I put a pad on just in case there was additional bleeding.  I felt tired but good.  It was time for us to head home.  We were there a little over 2 hours.

One the way home I pretty much rested with periodic checkins from my husband.  I think the anesthesia wore off because my abdomen started to hurt when we got home.  It was sore but I didn’t want to take anything for it so I just rested in bed…that lasted almost 2 hours.  When I got up, I felt SO much better.

My sweet husband prepared lunch for me.  I was starving, of course, because I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner the night before.  While we had lunch my husband expressed his desire to record me when I came back from the egg retrieval.  I was confused at first, I didn’t know what he was talking about.  I just remember falling asleep and then waking up on the bed.  I asked him how I got on the bed.  He said my IVF coordinator told him they helped me up and I walked to the room (with guidance).  Then he said I was so funny because I was so expressive and I asked everyone if they were the embryologist.  We had a good laugh!  I told him, “Oh my goodness, that’s so shame.”  I had no recollection of that, I still don’t.  But it is funny.  Lol.  My husband confirmed that the procedure was fast, 15-20 minutes.

I inquired about the eggs.  I didn’t remember being informed about the number of eggs that were retrieved.  My husband told me that my IVF coordinator came and told us.  I didn’t remember that either.  Lol.  There were 12 eggs retrieved.

I wondered…how many of them would be fertilized?

Here is the evidence of my anesthesia…I’m all bandaged up!  I rested & went back to work the next day.


Next post: Embryos & Answers