IVF 1: Day 16 – Transfer Day

IVF1_embryoTransfer went smoothly. Embryo (blastocyst?) was in good condition – I forget the grading but they said it was good. And baby embryo here looks like any other blastocyst picture I’ve seen so I’m taking that as a good sign. ๐Ÿ™‚

Three more were frozen today. The remaining two are growing slowly but still alive so we’ll see tomorrow whether they caught up and can be frozen.

Oddly enough I wasn’t that emotional about the transfer. I think more of me was relieved that we were able to freeze that many. It was kinda funny being able to watch my uterus on the ultrasound – poof some whooshes of air and supposedly the embryo was stuck to the lining. Mostly I’m relived that everything went well – good lining, good embryo, good transfer overall. *touch wood*

After the worst of the shots/procedures, you know what my take is on the IVF whole process – it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sure it’s not fun to give shots but we got used to it and it wasn’t that painful. Sure my ovaries started to get sore and heavy but it was bearable discomfort. Even the egg retrieval. I was totally freaked out and panicked about it before the procedure but in the end, it wasn’t bad. Well, it helps that I don’t remember anything. Coming out of anesthesia wasn’t as bad as I expected – mostly grogginess. Though one (to me unexpected) symptom was shivering afterwards when I stood up. Even afterwards, I had mega bad cramps. But unlike my worst menstrual cramps, it didn’t consume me. Rather, I was me and cheerful and fine (until I moved). It was a more disconnected pain if that makes any sense. Even the PIO shots – the big scary needle isn’t so bad. Well, ok it helps that I never see it and Hubby is the one giving those.

A lot of me is amazed and in awe at so much of nature and science in this process. Starting with even the fact that science understands the hormone cycles at this level of detail. Anesthesia – how is it that they so perfectly calibrated it so I didn’t feel pain and didn’t remember anything but exactly for that duration? How was it so smooth going to sleep? How did they figure out the culture medium for these precious fragile little embryos to grow? Even the microscopy that’s needed to view things at the cell and then 2- or 4- cell level is built on decades of work. And looking at the embryo today – it astounds me that all of us started out as that little clump of cells.

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IVF 1: little embryos are growing…

So… current counts:

13 egg retrieved; 9 were fertilized (we used ICSI mostly because the doctor strongly recommended that for PCOS); 7 are still dividing and growing.

I’m cheering them on from a few miles away. It feels a little weird cheering on essentially little clumps of cells. ๐Ÿ™‚

They’ll let us know tomorrow whether it’ll be day 3 or day 5 transfer. There’s no reason to think we won’t do a fresh transfer – the only issue would have been OHSS and I don’t seem to have any such issues. And they seem confident that there will be at least one embryo (or at least I’m imputing confidence into what they say).

In terms of side effects – cramping’s gone way down today. It still hurts to do things like laugh and I can’t move too fast. And (TMI) gas has been really painful so I’m switching up my diet a bit. Funnily enough, overall, I think I lost a pound from the beginning of stims till now.

 

IVF 1: Day 11, Egg Retrieval

It all went better than I expected. Given, I had horror scenarios playing through my mind so pretty anything would have been better.

I didn’t sleep well the night before – fasting makes me nervous and the fact that I wasn’t even allowed water made me doubly so. I know I know, it’s a small problem in the grand scheme of things but the last time I fasted was for the fasting glucose test and by the time they got around to drawing blood, I was shaking and starting to go gray.

One thing we did which ended up being a huge help was getting a hotel for the night near the clinic. So in the morning, I just got up, brushed, showered and went to the clinic, all withing 30 min (so it also meant less time awake and hungry).

The experience at the clinic itself was very straightforward. The nurses were all helpful. I got to keep on my jewelry! And glasses! Both of which helped make me more comfortable. They even said I could keep on my bra but that felt odd for some reason.

They made me sign off on a gazillion forms, change and then put in the IV. And then.. wait. There was another retrieval scheduled before mine so we had to wait for that one to finish up. Tummy was definitely rumbling by then but I think with the saline, I at least didn’t feel faint.

The way this clinic runs is that all the retrievals are done by the doctor on call and that rotates so I didn’t know who’d be my doctor for the procedure. The doctor introduced himself – he looked young and then googling revealed that he’s basically my age. Not sure if that gave me more or less confidence.

Before the procedure the nurse took me to the bathroom. There wasn’t a place to hang the IV and he said that he could turn around while I went but that was just … weird. It was a _boy_ nurse. Anyways, before I asked if a girl could come in instead, we figured out a way to hang the IV bag on the door.

They then took me to the OR (with me plodding along slowly because for the last couple of days, anytime I walk a lot, my tummy started cramping). They asked me for my name and then asked me to lie down and then… nothing. Presumably they positioned me and actually did the procedure but I have no memory of any of that.

The next thing I remember was Hubby asking me what the square root of 216 was. And my groggily telling him that there’s no square root and that I think it’s a cube but I forget of what. And then he asked about 256. And I was “2^4”. (It so happened that yesterday, I needed to use those exact numbers.) Figures – I should be grateful he didn’t ask me what a matrix’s eigenvalue was. I apparently kept asking “is it over?” because the only sign I had that anything had happened was some cramping.

It took a while to come out of the grogginess – for instance, I could think (somewhat) clearly but turning my head made me dizzy. They made me down a lot of water and some saltines (I brought my own food too but didn’t really want it). And then made me pee before discharging me.

Overall, way less scary than I expected. It helps I suppose that I don’t remember anything of the actual procedure. Now I’m back home completely non-groggy but also super crampy. The doctor described it as ‘your ovaries are angry at all this happening to them’ which about describes the pain. As long as I’m in one position it’s like mild period cramps. But the moment I try to move… f***ck. I might bite the bullet and just take the heavier painkillers that they gave.

Oh and the important bit – they got 13 eggs when all’s said and done. Not as much as I was hoping for so that’s a bit of a bummer. Still, it’s obviously a decent number so I’d hope that at least 1 grows from that batch. Plus they’re doing ICSI (which according to my RE is better for PCOS) so fertilization rates should be on the higher side.

Almost there…

Triggering tonight; retrieval day after.

That was .. fast – today’s day 9. I think they’re triggering a bit earlier because there’s already a couple that are >20mm and they don’t want to risk losing those. I think the yield will be a bit worse than I hoped for – something more like 11 or so mature follicles (and a whole bunch that are <15mm) but at the end of the day, if I’m pregnant, I don’t really care about the in-between stages.

*cross fingers*

PS – Random symptoms for future reference: I’m so so tired. So much so that I dozed off during the ultrasound. Who’d have thunk it? Sleeping while an unknown person is poking around in your vagina.

IVF #1, Day 8

I’m definitely starting to feel the effects of all the meds and growing follicles now. I just feel very bloated and … heavy if that makes any sense. I’m really tired and sleepy – I fall asleep 5 minutes after sitting on the couch no matter what’s playing. Maybe it’s just that I’m drinking a ton of water but I feel like I have to go to the bathroom a lot. Honestly, it feels a little like I’d imagine later pregnancy to feel – just slow and heavy and ready to be done.

Weirdly enough, I think the injections are the easier part. Well, except for cetrotide. I currently hate that one because the needle covers are impossible to get off. Hubby bent the mixing needle and then after I yelled at him and took over, I stabbed myself with the injection needle. As people have mentioned the Menopur burns going in but it’s not too bad. Other than that, we’ve gotten into a flow with the injections which is … well, something I never thought I’d be saying.

I’m on daily ultrasounds now. Things are looking good for day 8 – there were 18 follicles bigger than 13 mm (of which a couple were at the 18-20mm range) and another 5 that were smaller. Lining looks good (I can even recognize the triple line thing they talk about on the ultrasound). So hopefully on track for a fresh transfer.

I wouldn’t say infertility is a good thing in my life by any means but there are lessons that I’m learning from it that I hope will serve me in good stead. Things like taking life a day at a time. Learning where your priorities lie. Who your friends really are. Learning to let go a little and trust in nature/the doctor/someone else.

Eggs are growing..

Though not as evenly as I would have preferred. I should do a graph at the end of all this to chart out growth.

There’s a couple at 14mm, and then like 1 or 2 each at every successive measurement and a whole bunch at 8mm. And they saw 28 in all which actually has me a tad worried – my clinic cancels retrievals if there are > 30 eggs so I’m hoping enough mature but not too many. I start cetrotide now (presumably to prevent the 13mm and 14mm ones from releasing too early?).

I’m definitely starting to feel the effects of all the eggs/meds. There’s a general bloat-y feeling (especially after an ultrasound). Also.. I’m tired. Is that normal? I do activities that normally wouldn’t be a big deal (like cooking brunch this morning) and by the afternoon, I’m fast asleep on the couch. Or maybe it was just the craziness of the week catching up to me.

You know, I have to say, I have so much respect for those who work at an IVF clinic. It’s just non-stop work for them. Weekends/holidays, doesn’t matter – someone has to be there to do the monitoring, retrievals and transfers. And they’re usually so cheerful about it too. It’s such a weird relationship with the doctors, nurses and techs there. I don’t know most of their names (mostly because each time, I keep hoping that I never have to come back). But they’re also some of the people who have seen me at my worst, when I was sobbing as they drew blood, stressed, or in pain. Total respect for them.

Day 4 of 14(?)

So far so good!

Left ovary and right ovary both have two 10mm follicles (and each have one old leftover one). And apparently 18 smaller ones. Estrogen and lining look good (by whatever definition of good that they use). So.. progress towards a decent outcome (by outcome here, I just mean # embryos which is my temporary goal).

No side effects but I definitely feel things happening. One consequence of the last couple of years is that I’m super attuned to my body (well to my reproductive tract at least). So I definitely felt the follicles making their presence known. I’ve also now the weirdo who is protectively holding her tummy like a pregnant woman even though there are definitely no babies in there (yet?). I’m feeling oddly protective of my ovaries and follicles.

I think one of the things I’m struggling with is how to handle work with all this. For one, it’s a new job (with new responsibilities, new field, new lots-of-things). What do I say when I need to take time off for the retrieval? Every time some meeting is scheduled or there’s some deadline, I’m thinking of it in terms of treatments and how they’ll all be affected. I’m trying not to take on too many projects but that looks weird because any newbie would jump right in. At least it looks like I won’t have to think about work travel till next year so that’s one complication taken care of. And it’s hard for me to completely turn off my mind from the fertility stuff during work hours.

Only 10 more days….

2 days down, 12 more to go

So far, the shots themselves haven’t been that bad. It helps that the stimulation drugs have tiny needles.

Still, we had our own little screw-ups. I was planning to give the shot myself but at the last minute lost my nerve (whoever wants to be stabbing things into their skin?). Plus I screwed up my wrist sometime in the last week so it’s really hard for me to both hold the needle and push.ย And then we realized that somehow the entire dose didn’t get discharged and had to reload the needle and do the whole thing again. At least I figured out the rhythm of changing needles.

I do find it strange how much the nurses/doctors assume knowledge. Most of them are small tiny things that are second nature to them but without super detailed instructions, we wouldn’t have known. Like swabbing the bottle cap before putting the injection in. Or even that there are different needles for mixing and for injecting. Or how to change a needle.

The last couple of days, I’ve been so tempted to just bail from all this. I’m such a non-interventionist when it comes to medicine that I really really don’t like putting anything into my body. Hell, even birth control was more medication than I like. So this entire process of fertility treatments has really been pushing at those boundaries. Just the thought of going this much against the body’s natural mechanisms is… not scary as much as deeply unsettling.

I keep having to remind myself that this is a relatively common procedure and the doctor knows what he’s doing and tons of other people have done this. And I keep having to tell myself that this is our only path forward to a child. I think some part of me still believes that there’s a chance for things to work out with minimal intervention – after all, I ovulate on clomid. I really need to ruthlessly crush that part down. There’s not much point in going down that mental path.

Actually I think I was mentally ok up until the clinic sent over an instructions sheet and there were lots of scary things about ovarian torsion and hyperstimulation and what happens with a failure. So much for getting all the facts.

Yesterday I was talking to Hubby about all this. And he just went “Thank you for going through this”. And honestly that gave me a little more strength. Because it reminded me that I’m doing this for us and not just me.

And off we go…

I had my baseline today. I got the ok to go ahead! The biggest follicles were 5mm and there were 18 small ones. My interpretation was that means that there are upto 20 potential eggs? I should verify what that actually means. But the important thing is that it satisfied whatever they were looking for.

One more day of BCP and then I start GonalF shots on Tues. I’m impatient to start as well as terrified. I keep telling myself that it’s really only 2 weeks of craziness. Their instructions didn’t really help — they had this long winded paragraph about why I shouldn’t do much exercise because the ovaries grow from the size of your thumb to the size of a tennis ball. So now I’m dreaming about tennis ball lumps in my stomach and wondering how to conceal all that from colleagues.

I don’t know how others felt before starting but mostly it feels like I’m seated on a rollercoaster and can’t get off any longer and really wish I wasn’t but there’s no way through but forward. It’s amazing what we (the collective we as in women) will do for a child. And how much the thought of a future child and a family can sustain us. At how we can still remain optimistic and hopeful.