Our embryos, taken just a few minutes before the transfer. The one on top is already hatching!
This is the ultrasound pic showing one of our embryos in my uterus. It is the white spot close to the top. You can click the picture to make it larger.
Oh my goodness, what a day! I wrote A LOT this time, but it was such a big day with lots of activity. Here's the story:
I started off my getting a massage first thing. My acupuncturist thinks it is a good idea to get a massage between the retrieval and transfer because it is great for getting circulation going, which I will need lots of good blood flow to my uterus to support the embryos they put in there. It is also just a really, really nice thing to do for yourself, and if it is recommended (even slightly) but one of my care team, who am I to contradict their well thought out and researched opinion?
My old prenatal yoga teacher is a massage therapist, and also does hypnotherapy which I have been seeing her for during this last month. It isn’t the traditional “look at my watch swinging back and forth. You are getting verrrryyyy sleeeeppppyyy” sort of stuff. It is just about very deep relaxation. Stress can have a huge negative impact on your success in IVF. IVF is, by nature, a stressful process, so she has helped me relax all month long (I love her!!). This last week with hearing disappointing updates every day about our supply of embryos has just about sent me over the edge. I have already lost a child. This week, I was losing them every day and beating myself up for not being able to make healthy children. To spend an hour with her first thing was the perfect medicine. She gave me a fabulous massage all while helping me get my head screwed on straight again. It is time for the next phase of this process, and it is time to leave the stress of this last week behind me and focus on supporting the new life that will be placed inside of me.
The plan was to leave at 9:30 in order to have plenty of time to get to the hospital. They wanted me to show up about 11:30, and then do the transfer at 11:45. The one moving target in this was that we had to get the results back from the genetic testing. The doctor called and said that she wanted us to wait to come up to Denver until we had that back. If it made us late for our 11:45 appointment, that would be no big deal. The team was prepared to do the transfer whenever we were ready. As you can imagine, we were pretty anxious to hear what they’d found, so to cut the tension, we put on some old Seinfeld episodes and hung out. Finally the phone rang. There were two embryos that they had hoped to transfer. They were the best of the bunch. Both are carriers. Chris and I are fine with making more carriers. Just knowing about it is the biggest part of the battle. That gives options that we didn’t have when we had Noah. When these kids are grown and can have their own babies, they can test for it beforehand in their partners. And Chris and I know from being carriers ourselves that it doesn’t impact your health and livelihood in the slightest. We were so excited that the two best embryos were good to go for implantation. They had also been looked up and down for all the major chromosomal issues as well and came out completely clean.
And, they are both boys!!!
Through the whole process of screening for these various illnesses, they find the sex of the embryos. We wanted to know. Oh my goodness, we were just on cloud nine driving up to Denver and thinking about our boys!! The interesting part about these babies is that one of them got the carrier gene from me and the other got the carrier gene from Chris. It is amazing that they can tell that.
What about the other four embryos? One of them has full-blown MCADD, and the other three they could not get a reading. We asked the embryologist why that could happen, and he explained that most likely the cell they sent the lab did not have a nucleus. That means that they will likely not develop and be viable for implantation. Even the MCADD embryo is not looking so hot. He plans to give them another day before giving up on them. They cannot survive outside of my body for longer than 6 days. Today is day 6, so they need to be frozen if we are going to keep them, and he is going to tell us if that is even worth perusing. We were planning to send our MCADD embryo to the research project through Stanford University. If it doesn’t grow, it won’t be suitable for their purposes. The embryologist is supposed to call us today to let us know how they are doing.
We got up to Denver and they got us back to the operating room pretty quickly to get our boys implanted. The whole process was pretty quick and easy. The lab where they keep the embryos is just off the operating room where they were doing the implantation. They knocked on a window that led to the lab from the OR or called down the hall for the embryologist to come in when they needed him. I had to go in with a full bladder because I guess that helps them see what they are doing in the ultrasound to make sure that they transfer the embryos in the right spot.
Before we began, the embryologist gave us a picture of our embryos! We were just amazed and excited to see them! One of them has already begun hatching (the top one). That is a critical part in development. The embryo sheds it’s outer shell and the new outside of it sticky and helps it to stick to the uterus and begin bonding with it. This little guy desperately needed to be put in me before he completed that process. The other hasn’t gotten there yet, but is plugging along in its development just great.
Once it was all over, they had me lay on my back for about 20 minutes. They left me in the room with Chris, and the two of us were just giggly and excited that we were finally here. We are so excited to know that we have boys. We would have been happy with anything, but to have it be personal enough to know the sex of them, and begin to imagine what life would be like is just so cool. And, we have the comfort of knowing they are healthy. We may be always be neurotic about every bump on the knee or sore throat, but it will be based on our grief and not on an actual illness. That is so much easier to handle.
After 20 minutes the doctor came back in and got us set up to go home and relax. My parents had driven us to the hospital, so they had the car ready, and we hopped in and headed across the street to grab some lunch before we went home. I was beginning to feel a little crampy and uncomfortable, but thought I could make it through this quick stop. I let the others get in line at the restaurant, and I sat down in a nearby booth. I started to feel worse and worse, and before I knew it, the world was starting to spin and I felt like I might throw up. My mom was there and got me to the bathroom. I sat down on the floor and she handed me cold compresses (thank God it was a onesie so we had the place to ourselves). I didn’t throw up, but I felt terrible. We decided that I should go back to the hospital. My stomach hurt worse and worse, and I was just so lightheaded and nauseous.
Chris took me straight back to the outpatient surgery center where we just were, and the doctors from the fertility clinic came and checked me over. Basically, because they were so eager to have me release as many eggs as was safely possible, counting on some not making it through the testing process and would be sick, they had me on some more elevated doses of hormones than what they would ordinarily prescribe. That can cause some side effects like swelling and excess fluid in the abdomen (which causes pain) along with dizziness and nausea. It is uncomfortable for me, but not life threatening by any means, nor does it harm my embryos that were just transferred. So, the game plan was to get me comfortable so I could go home and to give me some medications to keep me comfortable over the next few weeks as these excess hormones slowly make their way out of my body. They gave me some pain medications, and got me feeling more normal. They gave me all the release paperwork and had discharged me again. I went to use the ladies room before we left, and sure enough I almost fainted as soon as I was upright and threw up. They put me back in bed again, and this time decided to hook me up to an IV and get a couple of bags of fluid in me along with some anti nausea medication. At this point, the outpatient surgery center was closing so they had to move me down to the ER.
I have to say that through all of this, I am amazed at the care and attention that the hospital staff paid me. It was a totally different experience from every other hospital I have been to where you wait and wait for someone to see you. There was an amazing nurse who was hardly ever out of eyesight when we were in the outpatient surgery area. It was outside of her duties to take us on, but she did anyways and cared for us so well. The doctors from the fertility clinic were constantly present. One of them in particular sat with us for a long time and personally took us down to the ER and made sure we had everything we needed before he left. He gave us his personal beeper number and told us to call him with any questions, even if it is 2:00 in the morning. We sat in the ER for a few hours as they dripped IV fluid into me, and Chris never left my side. We were still so very excited about our boys and talked a lot about them while we waited. As evening came on, the ER got more and more interesting with all sorts of people coming through (that in itself is a whole other blog post!). We were finally released about 8:00pm. I felt well enough to survive the drive home. We got home about 9:00 and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see my own bed!
I am on bed rest today, and will need to keep things slow and easy for the next several weeks. We do our first pregnancy test on February 10. It will be a blood test at the clinic. They will do a series of them over the coming next few weeks. Somewhere they will do an ultrasound to see if both stuck. Think sticky thoughts for me!! We would just be thrilled to have both boys. We will let you know!