Given how hard and trying the last 3 year have been, we should have known that IVF was treating us too well. I felt great stimming, especially emotionally. Hormones weren’t crazy. I didn’t feel or act crazy. In fact, I felt even-keeled and empowered. Then, retrieval was a breeze with a great yield. 14 eggs retrieved, 9 fertilized! Statistically, half would make it to transfer day. So 4 or 5 embryos. But Friday came with different news. Infertility had reared its ugly head…again.
We got to the office, checked in, and were quickly ushered back to the IVF Suite by a very spunky nurse’s assistant, Tara. Mike and I were both in good moods and we were happy to hear “Complicated” and then “I Want it That Way” playing when we first walked in and got settled in Area #1. Unlike the retrieval, which had a very busy suite, we were the only couple there for a few minutes, and only one other couple was there when we left. We were ready quickly and had to wait for our doctor to come and chat with us. I’d filled my bladder, as instructed, for the transfer, so the longer we waited for the doctor, the harder it was not to focus on needing to empty my bladder. About 15 minutes later, she came and brought us to an adjoining meeting room. She was pleasant, per usual, and asked me all about recovering from egg retrieval. Then she said how pleased she was that I had 14 eggs and she took out a piece of paper with a big chart/spreadsheet on it. The spreadsheet tracked retrieval day, fertilization report, 3 day update, and transfer day. The report tapered from wide to narrow, which is because we lost so many embryos along the way.
She explained to us that not only did she retrieve 14 eggs, but all 14 were mature! She reiterated that she would have been happy with 10, so 14 was really great. And, while we were told that 9 fertilized, in reality, 12 did. However, 3 of them fertilized too much. What does that mean, Melanie? Well, as she explained to us, 2 sperm may have gotten to the egg before it hardened/closed off, of the sperm may have been double headed/coded. Either way, too much DNA for one egg, so they weren’t counted in our fert report. Then she showed us that on Day 3, we had 7 eggs with enough cells, but a few of them received an initial grade of C. By Friday, we were down to three. I’m not going to explain grading, but we had a 3AB and two 2EB embryos. The 3AB was the best embryo, and she was happy with its quality for transfer. The remaining 2 needed another day to see if they popped and could be frozen, we’d receive an email on Saturday, to let us know how they turned out and how many were frozen.
We were gutted. 9…and then 1. Maybe 3. Hopefully 3. But, 1, for sure. What happened to those other embryos? Why did they arrest? Why were they receiving C grades? Gosh. Even if 2 others had been a little bit better a received grades of B, we would have been happy. But 1? After all of that? …and yet, there was still a transfer. So, Tara brought me to the IVF procedure room, which is attached to the embryologists’ den, and then the doctor came in. Using an external ultrasound, she showed me my full bladder and the space below, which is the uterus, turns out. Then, using the ultrasound, she placed a “practice” catheter in my uterus, but it went in so smoothly she didn’t need to change to another catheter. She told the embryologist she was using “a wallace” …whatever that is. She showed me where to watch as she transferred the embryo…and then there it was. A little white bubble in my uterus, which she printed a picture of for Mike to see. Our little embaby. The only time in 3 years we’ve had an ultrasound photo showing us anything…and, we’re hoping we’ll have many more ultrasounds of this little embaby, maybe this is our miracle.
It’s been such a long and trying 3 years, and we both feel like…of course this ended up being trying and difficult, too. Adding another layer of insult, an email at 7:28 am on Saturday: there were no embryos to freeze. We don’t know why. We won’t know until we have another consultation with our doctor, which will hopefully be amidst prenatal visits and care. She also said we’d have a chance to talk more in depth about our embryo report and what happened to them at a follow-up.
I haven’t talked much about what brought us to IVF, yet, and I think this winter vacation from school will be a good chance to blog more about our back story, but one thing makes more sense to us now. When we stopped trying not to be pregnant, my cycle went from totally normal and 28 days to sometimes 28 days, sometimes 32, one time 37 days, but just one positive pregnancy test, during our second round of Clomid. And we didn’t have any answers why. I wondered if I was having an implantation problem? A nurse practitioner thought it might be a Progesterone issue. Were we doing something wrong?? But, if it’s anything like our embryo report, which Mike and I suspect, I’m releasing eggs, they’re fertilizing, but for some reason, they’re breaking down…as have we from time to time this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful knowing that we have a healthy embryo on board…hopefully the little embaby is making itself at home and plans to stay awhile, but we sure would have loved a better report that gave us a little more hope.
Going from 9 to 1 was so dramatic and there’s some loss there, as early as it is. We should have known better, than to be excited for 14 and 9. We should have. Science and statistics have not been on our side as we’ve tried to start our family. But, we finally received good, promising news. And now that hope and joy are most certainly deflated…but at least they’re not gone. Because for now, I’m PUPO, Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. And for only the second time in 3 years, have I been any form of pregnant…and that’s pretty great. I know a few people who have gone through IVF and I reached out to them once I got home and had processed things a bit. I’m so thankful for these women, all of whom had successful IVF stories and have shared so openly with me, sharing their strength and grace, when I’ve needed it most. And when I told them my news about the embryos lost along the way, all 3 said the same exact thing to me: It only takes one.
And when I start to feel sad or weepy that our results weren’t better, what we expected, or what we wanted, I tell myself that. It only takes one. One egg. One embryo. And we’ve got one. And IV’F Got This.