Well, guys – I can’t believe the day is here!! It’s embryo transfer day!! Since I last updated you we did the egg retrieval and I have been recovering since (while our embryos have been growing at the clinic). For those that follow me on Instagram, you’ve heard some of how retrieval day went… for those who are only following here – I thought I’d share the whole story! (Please excuse the horrendous iPhone pics in this post! haha)
Basically, I was given instructions for how to prepare for the retrieval very quickly over the phone (along with any instructions for the two days before retrieval). I swore I had everything down, scribbling as fast as I could on numerous sticky notes as she rattled off the instructions at warp speed – but apparently I missed one very important thing – and that was: Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the surgery. I only heard: Don’t EAT anything after midnight… Anyway – needless to say, this caused issues when we went in for retrieval. My nurse was asking all these questions to confirm we were set to go for surgery before bringing the anesthesiologist in. She asked me when I last ate – I said 8pm. Then she asked me when I last drank… and I said… This morning? Around 6:30am? And a few sips of water in the car on the way here….? (Confused as to why that mattered…)
The look on her face was not a good one. She said, “Oh no, mija….. oh no…. You weren’t supposed to drink anything after midnight either!” She seriously looked like she could cry. I put my hands over my face and tried my hardest not to cry too. She ran out of the room to talk to the doctor and came back a few minutes later to tell me we could either cancel the procedure, or we could do it, but I couldn’t be put asleep like planned. Obviously, being awake for the procedure did not sound like fun, but canceling an entire month’s worth of time, energy, and money sounded worse. So I said go ahead with it, however they needed to. (OOF.)
The anesthesiologist came in and explained to me why they couldn’t put me to sleep: Apparently the gag reflex doesn’t work when you are put to sleep, so if you have anything in your stomach and were to get sick from the meds and throw up while asleep – it would go right back down your throat into your lungs. The acid from your stomach when inhaled into your lungs is a 60% mortality rate. YEAH. Awesome. So he said he would get me as “relaxed” and “comfortable” as he could, but I’d be awake for the procedure and feel pulling, pressure, prodding, etc. This sounded awful, but better than dying from puking into my own lungs – so we moved forward. They started to prep my IV and take some other notes when James returned. (He was off in another part of the clinic doing his… ahem… “man duties” for the process, if you know what I’m saying.) This whole time since I found out I didn’t properly follow instructions I had just wished he was in the room. I wanted him there to tell me it was okay, and to hold my hand. So when he reappeared, and overheard the anesthesiologist explaining some things and looking confused about it – I said to him, “Baby, I messed up! I wasn’t supposed to drink anything after midnight either – so they can’t put me under!!” and then I turned into a sobbing mess right there in front of the anesthesiologist and his assistant – much to their horror. LOL. In retrospect, this is all hilarious. At the time? Not so much.
I apologized to them (through tears) for crying and said this has all just been a lot… and mumbled something about all the hormones, and the stress, and the… yada yada yada. They were incredibly sweet about it and reassured me I’d be taken care of and it would be okay. They were just relieved we could do the procedure and not have to cancel my cycle. I was too.
I won’t go into details about the procedure. Just know leg stirrups were involved (and my legs were strapped in). I was given enough meds that the room got a little fuzzy. I closed my eyes and tried to take myself somewhere else. I could hear conversations (which I remember thinking were weird and had nothing to do with the procedure, but can’t remember what they were now). I could feel yanks and pokes, and what felt like stabbing in my ovaries. It got worse as the procedure went on and the meds started to wear off. I remember grimacing and trying really hard to stay strong. I remember a nurse putting her hand on my shoulder and telling me I was doing great. I remember jumping from the pain one time and everyone in the room putting a hand on me to hold me down – and tell me not to do that again. (Oops.) Then I remember a nurse saying, “It’s over sweetie. You made it. You’re such a trooper!” And then I bawled like a baby. The tears would not stop coming, even though I was embarrassed to be crying again and really was trying not to. I was just so incredibly relieved it was over.
Recovery was rough the first couple of days. You’re incredibly, painfully bloated. Your ovaries are gigantic and aching from all the needles retrieving the eggs in each follicle. You’re told to be on bed rest for two days…. only light walking around the house is allowed and no lifting anything more than 5 lbs. From that point until the pregnancy test: no exercising (other than casual walking), no intercourse, no alcohol or caffeine, and a handful of other instructions. You’re told to drink only Gatorade and eat salty foods to help recovery and avoid OHSS (which is not something you want to get).
With each day I recovered more and more and my body started to come back down from all of it. I feel better from the surgery at this point, but crazy from the new cocktail of medication I started after the retrieval. I’m on lots of progesterone to build the lining of my uterus and on a bunch of menopause meds to combat the side effects from the progesterone (like hot flashes, etc). The meds make me lightheaded, short of breath, and at one point my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest, which was very scary at the time. Thankfully that went away and hasn’t returned.
We got the call the day after retrieval and were told that of the 12 eggs they retrieved, 7 of them were mature, and 5 of those were able to fertilize. We got a call the next day to tell us they were growing well, that all 5 were still kickin’ it, and that we’d be doing a Day 5 transfer instead of a Day 3 (which is the other option). From what I understand a Day 3 transfer is done during earlier stages of embryo development if the embryos don’t appear to be growing well in the lab. They usually transfer more because they can’t tell as much which embryos are the “best” yet at that point. They just want to get them out of the lab setting and hope they grow better in a natural environment. If you do a Day 5 transfer, it usually means the embryos are strong and growing well. They keep developing each day and by Day 5 should (hopefully) have developed into Blastocysts. Once they have made it that far in the stage of development they are able to tell better which ones are the best quality and they are given grades. One grade is for the cells that will later be the placenta, and one grade is for the cells that will later be the fetus. Obviously the best grade is: AA, but there can be any combination: AB, BA, CB, and so on.
So today when we go in for our embryo transfer I’ve been told we’ll be shown photos of each embryo and its grade. The doctor and embryologist will tell us what they think the best course of action is – i.e. which embryo to transfer and if they think we should transfer one or two. If we have one really good blastocyst with an A grading, usually on the first IVF they will suggest you transfer just one to reduce the chance of multiples. If they aren’t as good of quality they may suggest to do two and hope one sticks. Then they’ll do the transfer under ultrasound guidance so we can actually see the embryo entering my uterus. From what I understand this procedure is rather simple and similar to the IUI (except done in conjunction with ultrasound). They insert a fine catheter through my cervix to get that little embryo all the way to where it needs to be.
So this is what we are doing today! I’ve been praying this whole time that they’re strong and growing well… and that they’re already little smarties and getting straight A’s! (Fingers Crossed!) After the procedure I head straight to acupuncture to help calm me and help my body to accept the embryo. (Acupuncture has been an AMAZING thing for me throughout this process. I went in yesterday as well for the pre-transfer session and it helped with so many of the side effects I’ve been experiencing too! I can’t recommend it enough for people going through fertility treatments, and in general!) Then I’m on bed rest for two days (which I’m sure will drive me insane, as usual)!! Thankfully I have lots of photos to edit from some awesome sessions I did the past couple of days, and I have a job where I can work from my laptop while laying down!
We will keep you posted and thank you guys again for all the support and love!! It has been absolutely overwhelming (in the best way) and means the world to us!!! xoxo