Questions for Dr. E

What’s better than to write a post about the questions I have for Dr. E so that I could get over my laziness?  The appointment is fast approaching in two days.  I have not written down a single question.  So here you go, friends.  I am writing them down HERE and NOW to end my procrastination.

  1. How was the quality of the embryos from last cycle?
  2. How was my response to the protocol?  Would you rate it as bad, okay, good, or excellent for someone who has diminished ovarian reserve?  Compared to other people who has done a similar protocol with similar FSH, AFC, and AMH, how was my response?
  3. How soon do you recommend starting a new cycle?  What will be a good indicator (in terms of FSH and AFC) for starting a new cycle?
  4. What protocol would you recommend?  The same one?  A modified one?  A totally different one?  What is the reason for keeping the same/modifying/doing a different one?  How can we do better next time so that we get more eggs and embryos?
  5. We had three fertilized eggs from the four that we retrieved.  We only got one embryo out of the three.  Is that an expected fertilization rate?
  6. Regarding the one blastocyst that we have, does the slow progression of its growth indicate quality issue, implantation potential, neither, or both?
  7. When do you recommend transferring the blastocyst?  Do you recommend transferring it during a fresh cycle with other embryos or just transferring it by itself?
  8. In your honest opinion, should we go with Dr. Y for mini or natural IVF if we only get one embryo every time we do a cycle?  Financially and in terms of the amount of medication used, would that be a more reasonable option for us?
  9. How does the Attain Program work?  With DOR, do we qualify for the plan?  Or because of my FSH, do we have to pay for each cycle?

Questions from Bob that he asked immediately following our IVF cycle:

  1. She thinks that our embryo has pregnancy potential.  What does that mean?
  2. She said that there is a 98 to 99% chance that we can use our embryo after thawing.  Do we do another cycle, get some more embryos, then thaw?
  3. Due to DOR, will she be following a protocol similar to Dr. Y’s (natural/mini-IVF)?

His questions are similar to mine.  So there you go.  I am sure I will have more when I talk to her on Thursday.  But this is the gist of it.   Bob is not going to be there with me physically but he will be joining us on the phone.  I hope that half an hour is enough for me to ask all the questions!

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Unexpected connections

In the last 22 months, I have developed friendships and connections with various women for whom I am forever grateful.  Many of them I may never meet in real life.  Some of them I never thought that I would emotionally connect with in some ways.  But each of them is important to me.  I feel so blessed that these women were, have been, and are in my life.  

I was lurking on the Taking Charge of Your Fertility forum for quite a few months in July 2011.  That was only three months after we got married.  We had a plan of starting to try to conceive a year after we got married.  I began charting, taking my basal body temperature, and recording all the fertility signs.  I lurked and lurked but never posted.  I read about people’s journeys and found myself rooting for them.  I never felt an urge to start posting since I wasn’t really TTC.  I secretly and selfishly hope that I would never have to post as I might just magically get pregnant the first month or two trying.

That naive, selfish way of thinking quickly changed when my OB/GYN diagnosed me with uterine fibroids in September 2011.  That was the beginning of my friendships with a group a super supportive ladies who has been there for me through thick and thin.  I found myself sharing with them about my struggles and emotions more often than with my real life friends.  They were the ones who found out about the results of my surgery, kept me company during the six weeks of recovery, gave me tips for various problems, and cheered me on during a very difficult time with horrible lab results of high FSH, low AMH, and low antral follicle counts.  They sent me personal messages with words of encouragement and their own personal experiences in regards to IVF and progesterone supplements.  They were the ones who urged me to check on my progesterone level 7 days past ovulation.  They generally want me to succeed and to become a mother.  Connecting to these ladies was the lifeline for me when living a infertile life with uncertainty was sometimes less than bearable.

A few of us ladies have recently spun off and started our Facebook secret group.  It has been so great to connect instantly with them with any news of doctor’s visits, lab results, and just general musings about life.  

I became real life friends with one of the ladies who lived in my area.  RR and I met up a few times before she moved down to Southern California.  When I was there with Bob in April for an IVF seminar, RR came with her little girl to visit with us at the hotel.  We also update each other on Whatsapp.  Life is a lot more manageable with RR’s encouraging and caring messages.

Beginning of this year, I joined another bigger group of ladies on a Facebook secret group.  I truly think that my life has changed forever.  They really have been there for me every step of the way since I started the IVF journey.  Some of these ladies are trying for the first time.  Some of them have secondary infertility.  Others are graduates who are still hanging around to cheer people on.  We all vary in our age, background, experience, and geographic area.  These differences don’t seem to matter when it comes to infertility.  We celebrate someone’s BFPs.  We console the ones who get stark white HPTs or get a visit from AF.  We give advice and validate someone’s feelings of frustration, sadness, annoyance, or desperation sitting in an RE’s office with pregnant ladies.  We send virtual hugs and real baskets of gifts for those who have miscarried.  It warms my heart to have met and walk with these online friends.  When I sat at my RE’s office waiting to get seen for lab results, these ladies were the ones who calmed my nerves real time on Facebook.  The support that I got from them was how I could get through my first IVF cycle knowing that someone understood.  Since I started joining their Friday night online chat, I have developed a deeper connection with some of these ladies, learning weekly about their lives, their families, their thoughts, their struggles, and their humor.  I look forward to the weekly chat and feel bummed when I have other engagements.  I truly hope that one day we can all have a get together at a place to chat face-to-face.

I never thought that I would also develop a connection at work that is based on infertility.  As a speech-language pathologist serving little kids, I have many clients whose parents are in their fertile years.  I never thought that I would open up and share my story and struggles with anyone of them.  I keep to myself when I see some of the mothers’ growing baby bumps.  I congratulate them while my heart is dying a little inside.  Right before we started our IVF cycle in late June, S’s mom told me that they had to take time off for two sessions.  Since it’s the summer, of course I asked her what kind of fun places she was going to head to.  I was surprised to find myself listening to her story of her infertility and struggles.  My client S was conceived through IVF when the mom was about my age.  That was her second IVF.  Since then she had done a couple of cycles for number two and has not succeeded.  This would be her last try at conceiving number two since she is already 43 and each cycle in Colorado is very expensive.  She was supposed to fly out to Colorado when her period came.  I felt an instant connection with her because her FSH, AMH, and AFC were about similar to mine.  She knows what I will go through since she has gone through something similar  Since then, we update each other on the progress of our cycle weekly.  When she came the following week after she shared about her journey, AF still hadn’t arrived and she could not make any travel plans.  I asked if she was pregnant and she said that it was impossible.  Fast forward to this past week when our therapy session resumed after a break for two weeks.  I updated her on my cycle and she updated me on hers.  She never went to Colorado for her monitoring and retrieval because she had gotten pregnant!  However, I found it odd that she didn’t seem joyful when she shared the news with me.  So this is her story.  She thought that it was odd for her that AF didn’t arrive.  Since I asked if she was pregnant, she took a HPT and found two lines!  She was so incredibly happy because this was the first time in ten years that she had gotten pregnant naturally without any intervention.  The interesting thing was that this pregnancy almost seemed impossible because she and her husband fooled around but did not have penetration during their intimate time.  She was shocked that she got pregnant and at the same time was so happy for the chance of completing her family without another round of IVF.  However, things don’t seem to be going her way.  Her betas are not doubling and her doctor did not see a fetal pole on the ultrasound.  She will go back for another blood test as well as ultrasound next week.  It does not seem like the pregnancy is viable.   I am almost angry that her one and only natural conception is soon going to be taken away from her.  Sadness came over me.  I just want to protect her from more heartaches.  The story of an unlikely connection with a client’s mother will unfold in the upcoming months when I go back for more treatment cycles and she handles her emotional ups and downs for her fertility struggles.

As for my real life friends who are fertile, I share my journey with them when I can.  Do I go to them when I have a question, thought, need for advice, or a hug?  Probably not.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them.  It is just that when it comes to infertility, I draw so much strength from these other ladies who know what it means to devote many minutes and hours of your time each day to fight to start a family and the devastation of the uncertainty of the future.  I still love my fertile friends.  But the connection is on a very different level.  

Off cycle and Clay

It has been a nice break.

But… it’s time to put the thinking cap back on.  I didn’t know I could be such a good procrastinator.  So I forced myself to make an appointment with Dr. E.  It is scheduled for next Thursday.  I was reluctant to cancel my kids at work.  It just so happens that my 10am kiddo and 11am kiddo both cannot make it next Thursday.  Dr. E happens to have availability at 11am.  Perfect.  I go in to see my 9am appointment, hop in my car to drive across the bay, and hope that the morning commute traffic will have died down already.  The appointment most likely will take 30 minutes.  I then can hop back in the car and make it in time for my 2pm kiddo.  It will be a little tight but I will make it happen.  Bob’s work has been so busy that it is not possible for him to take time off to go with me.  It is still important for him to listen in so we’ll just have to settle for a call-in with speaker phone at Dr. E’s office during the appointment.  

Today is CD3.  I freaked out on CD1 thinking that I would have to go in for a baseline scan the next day.  Frankly I was really not ready for another cycle.  I hadn’t asked my questions!  I freaked and freaked and finally wrote Dr. E.  She is so nice.  She responded to my rambling, incoherent message promptly with the following:

“I would take this month off completely from treatment

so there really isn’t any rush at all

Please call the office and we can review the past cycle embryology report and make future plans

talk soon :)”

Yay!  If the expert says there is no rush, who am I to rush into another cycle?  I got the approval for procrastinating for another month!  A heavy weight got lifted off my shoulders instantly.  I don’t know why I am so not ready for the next cycle.  I just… am not.  Maybe it’s because of the insurance money that is dwindling so I feel that we have to be very careful with how we spend it as the next round we’ll have to start using our savings.  Maybe I am a little fearful of another round of unknowns and emotional ups and downs and want to delay it as much as possible.  I just know that I am in a happy place as I got the approval to try things out the old fashioned way this month.  So I am back to taking my BBT at 5:25am, popping all the supplements three times a day, planning a Maya abdominal massage for next week, and being stuck with needles at my acupuncturist’s.

I feel like I have the best providers.  My acupuncturist Dr. K sent me  a message on the day of our failed day five transfer that she had been thinking about me all day.  She told me not to lose hope and for me to call her if I needed anything.  Yesterday when I resumed my sessions with her for the first time since the IVF cycle, she came into the therapy room, gave me a huge smile, and hugged me.  It feels so good to be cared for.  

Dr. K has quite a few patients who actually commute to SoCal to cycle with Dr. Y.  The feedback that she got from all these patients is that at Dr. Y’s clinic, I will never get the highly personalized care that I currently get at my current RE’s.  You get to see Dr. Y once for the consultation.  For out-of-town patients, you contact the clinic for any questions and the clinic contacts you for all the needed paperwork and labs.  Apparently every time the phone call is picked up or made by someone different from the last time.  You don’t get the same coordinator or person in charge of your case.  If you have a question for Dr. Y, you get onto his call list and he will make sure he calls you by the end of the day, most likely around 8 or 9pm PST.  In another word, do not expect to do what I do right now, which is to email Dr. E or any of her staff and get an answer from the doctor herself immediately.  I am truly spoiled.  Don’t get me wrong.  Dr. Y’s clinic is still highly organized.  But the personal touch might not be there.  So again, there is a lot to consider here.

I think about my frozen embryo daily.  I wonder what it all means to have a little fighter that had hung on until the end.  I wonder if this embryo will actually become a baby.  We have a nickname for this embryo: Clay.  It came from my sister-in-law who thinks that this fighter should be called Muhammad Ali.  I told Bob what she said and Bob quickly said, We should name him Clay, which is Muhammad Ali’s last name.  I love it!  It has been known as “Clay” ever since the day it became a blastocyst.  Maybe if Clay really becomes a real baby boy, Clay could be his real name?  One can dream and hope, right?  I wonder what God has planned for us.

A thinking break

I have been taking a thinking break.

That is, a break from thinking about all things IVF.

Last week we have had to think too much about what to do every step of the way.  Emotionally and mentally, I am tired.  We asked Dr. E a bunch of questions when we talked about the embryo that was going to be frozen, such as what the next step was.  According to her, we would wait for AF to come, check on the follicles, and go from there.  If the follicles look good, we may proceed to a fresh cycle immediately.  If there aren’t too many, we may take a break for a month.

Honestly, after that phone call on Tuesday, my brain has been shut from IVF.  I went about doing my own things.  Going to work, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, commenting on Facebook, and having a car that broke down.  Yup.  My car broke down.  

A little history of my car.  It’s a 2006 Mazda3 hatchback.  My hubby calls it a “Mouse”.  It has not been the best car to us.  Ever since its warranty expired, this car has been giving me a lot of trouble.  I would have to show up frequently to my very trusted mechanic to chitchat with his wife while he figured out what the problem du jour was.  It stalled and refused to move three weeks ago when we stopped in front of a traffic light.  All the dashboard warning lights came up.  I cranked it three times before it decided to go again.  I brought it over to my mechanic, got a 60,000 mile tune-up, and let him drive it around for four days before he declared that he could not find anything wrong with it.  He didn’t charge for the driving around part but I did pay him close to $400 to get the tune-up.  So I didn’t expect anything to be wrong with it.

Fast forward to last Thursday.  After work, I started the car, pulled it to reverse, and got ready to go.  The car jerked violently two times forward and backward.  I was totally shocked by it and quickly stepped on the brake.  I turned off and on the ignition, and the same thing happened.  It was then that I saw the check engine light and the AT light on.  My first thought was… NOT AGAIN??!??  The next thing I did was to check the owner’s manual.  Apparently, the AT light is for the “autotransaxle” (whatever that means) and you are advised to not drive the car with this particular light on.  Fantastic.  I pulled my car back into the parking spot then went back up to my office to see if any of my coworkers could give me a ride home.  I should say that I feel lucky that the car had a problem at my own work’s garage.  Our garage was under construction for about six weeks and we had to park at a high school’s garage about two blocks away for those six weeks.  It was just this past week that we were allowed back in our own parking garage.  I am grateful that it didn’t happen when we were forced to park at the high school garage or on the street.  I didn’t end up getting a ride from my coworkers since no one was leaving soon.  So I took public transportation for the first time in the 9 1/2 years that I have been working here.

I got the car towed the next day to my mechanic.  He finally called me back on Saturday with bad bad news.  My 7-year-old car has transmission problems that need to be fixed.  My mechanic does not do Mazda transmission.  If we want to get it fixed, we’ll need to be referred to another shop.  It would cost quite a bit of money so it is really up to us whether to fix it or to simply sell it/trade it in.

I hate car trouble (who doesn’t?).  I am super bummed that it decided to have problems after I spent several hundred dollars to make sure that it wouldn’t have any problems.  I hate to have to think about what to do with it.  I hate decisions at this moment as there are so many other decisions to make in life.

Bob is right though.  He thinks that the car broke down with good timing.  Imagine having car trouble a week ago when we were going through so much with our first IVF.  I think I would’ve lost it if everything happened at the same time.  And he is also right that this is something we can fix with money.  We don’t need this car.  We have other cars we can use so we are in no rush to decide what to do with it.  We have other things that we have to worry about that can’t be fixed with money, such as infertility.  This is something that we can control.  Just fix or sell the darn car.

Thank you husband for your wise words.  I think you are more and more like my daddy. 🙂

Because of car trouble (or using my car trouble as an excuse), I haven’t really thought about our next cycle.  I have been procrastinating with the thought of the need to write down questions for Dr. E when we get together with her.  I don’t know when AF will arrive since I have never done IVF and don’t know what happens when your body does not release progesterone on its own.  I have not really been taking my temperature since there is no point.  Although today I did temp and got a nice 98.0.  Everything is unpredictable again.  I thought I would have written down some questions by tonight already.  Guess what?  I have done everything but writing down questions.  Bob and I met up with a good friend of mine who moved out of town a couple of years ago and came back in town for a visit.  She came with her two kids and we had a great time visiting.  Bob ordered me a new MacBook Air for my birthday on the day when we thought we had a failed cycle sort of as a “be nice to ourselves after a failed cycle” not knowing that we would have a frozen blastocyst the next day.  We received it on Friday and I have been playing around with it as well as looking on Etsy for a nice laptop cover.  I cooked a full meal for dinner.  And now I am blogging and not writing down questions for Dr. E.  

It has been a nice six days off of not thinking about any questions.  But I think I have to get back to things…. There is so much to think about.  We have some insurance money left since we didn’t do the transfer.  Do we go with Dr. E or do we go with Dr. Y in Southern California?  We only got one frozen embryo with high stims protocol.  Should we try to save money and buy a package of three cycles for $10,000 with Dr. Y rather than paying a lot more to stay with Dr. E?  I honestly think that the kind of care and personal attention that we get from Dr. E is truly phenomenal.  I truly think that it made a difference in how we made our decisions when we had our medical provider that would give us all the information we needed for every step of the way.  She was the one who talked to us and broke our news to us and answered all of our questions regardless of what time it was.  I know it’d be hard to find someone like that.  

Anyhow, it’s approaching bed time and I am still not ready to write down my questions.  Maybe tomorrow????

*********************************

I just want to welcome those who are here for ICLW.  We just finished our first IVF cycle with ups and downs and ups and downs and some more ups and downs.  Finally we got a frozen blastocyst on day six after egg retrieval.  Thanks for visiting!

Our little fighter, albeit a little slow

Uhh…. friends, I don’t think I can handle the emotional roller coaster anymore.   But what we learned this morning makes this journey worthwhile.  This is my RE’s email sent at 7:07am:

“great update this morning.  the embryo is a 2bb this morning.  it will be frozen for you later today and will meet criteria to freeze as it definitely has pregnancy potential.  any questions, please ask”

 
What what what what what??!!??  This little embryo has been stalling and then growing and then stalling and now growing again?!?  This is a miracle to me.
 
 
Bob last night said that since we got good news every other day, maybe we’d get good news today.  I wasn’t as optimistic.  I was really ready to move on from this cycle.
 
 
This tells you that IVF is just a highly unpredictable beast.  Anything could happen.
 
 
I already love this embryo.  I think it really wants to make it to the world.  It keeps on fighting.  Its journey has not ended.  I really would love to meet him/her one day.  He/she is like the daddy already, a fighter but a little slow.
 
 
In the mean time, we will sit tight and see what happens in the next cycle or so.
 
 
Thank you so much for all of your comments, hugs, and support.  They warm my heart and pulled me back from a dark place.
 
 
This is the best outcome I could hope for for this cycle.  The Lord has His agenda.
 

Nothing

I didn’t know that my heart could shatter into thousand pieces in a mere few seconds.

I had been calm ever since we knew that we might have a chance of growing a blastocyst.  It could have been my defense mechanism to protect myself from thinking and feeling that this might be our chance for our take home baby.  Bob had been a lot more nervous. In fact last night he talked in his sleep and had a conversation with me that went like this:

Bob: Get me that device.
Me: What device?
Bob: The electronic device that you can do experiments on.
Me: Huh? What experiments?
Bob: To check to see if the embryos are doing well.
Me: Where do you find it?
Bob: Huh have to develop it.

Of course he had no recollection of this conversation with me last night when he was asleep.  But it showed you that he was worried about the embryos.

I was still hopeful this morning.  I treated the sign of no phone call as a good sign.  I got ready, took all of the oral medications that I needed to prepare for the transfer, stuck my last Endometrin insert in myself, and downed two glasses of water in order to get a full bladder.

At 8:25am, Bob’s phone rang.  The call sealed our fate for this cycle.

Epic failure.  At least that was how I felt.

I sort of could tell from Dr. E’s voice.  It wasn’t like the cheerful her that delivered great news 24 hours ago.  It was a cautious and serious tone.  I didn’t like it.

The morula was still a morula this morning.  It didn’t grow into something fantastic and awesome that would buy us a dream and a chance of becoming parents.  It was slow.  It was stuck at the same stage.

Deja Vu.  We found ourselves in the same eery situation that happened two days ago.  Two hours before transfer, we had to quickly make a decision whether or not to transfer this embryo that refused to grow further.

Dr. E said that the fact that the morula was already a morula yesterday and hadn’t grown today gave us clue that most likely it wouldn’t survive in my uterus had we transferred it.  What we could do is to let it be in the petri dish and see if it would miraculously grow into a blastocyst tomorrow on day six.  If it does, then we’ll freeze it for a future transfer.  If not, then we know that it wouldn’t have survived in my uterus and it would spare me the heartaches of the two week wait and getting a BFN.

Bob asked to hang up the phone for the two of us to discuss the matter before making a decision.

I had not cried like this in a long time.  A heart wrenching cry that almost felt like someone took my heart out of me.  I felt like a part of me was gone.  I felt like I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I felt naive to think that we would have at least one embryo to transfer if not more.  When we started this cycle, I never thought that I would be in this position with nothing to show for.  I felt like a complete, utter failure.

I cognitively know I am not a failure.  But I couldn’t help myself in that moment.  My own bad eggs caused this to happen.  I could not produce any good eggs.

Bob held me as tight as he could, stroked my hair while I cried like there was no tomorrow.  After a while, I took a deep breath and felt resolved.  There is nothing we can do if this cycle is a bust.  We just have to pick up the pieces and move on from here.  Bob called Dr. E and told her our decision.  She praised us for the decision saying that it was mature and educated.  She would give us a report at about the same time tomorrow about the development of the embryos.

We were deflated.  We looked at each other as we were so naive to be hopeful.  Our dreams were shattered.

Bob called his manager to report what had happened and asked to remain at home with me for the rest of the day.  I sat on my bed with tears streaming down my face.

I could use all the comfort I could get today.  A friend on my Facebook Secret group was asking for an update.  I gave them an update of the news with a heavy, broken heart.  My dear friend M wrote two things that are so beautiful that they bring special comfort to my heart:

“Roller coaster indeed. But you’re not a failure. Sometimes the flower just needs a little extra blooming time. ‘The flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful flower of them all.’ Hang in there”

“When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long/And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong/Just remember in the winter/Far beneath the winter snows/Lies the seed that, with the sun’s love/In the spring, becomes the rose.”

Thank you M.  I love how you knew how to comfort me in times of despair.

I wasn’t so naive to think that this cycle would work.  But I never thought that I would have nothing to transfer.  I never thought that our cycle would end before we could even dream for two weeks about the possibility.  This is called first time IVF naivete.

My dear husband has been my rock and my comfort.  He himself has been so affected by this emotionally.  He does not cry so it is even harder for him because he has no way to release his angst, disappointment, and sense of desperation.  But he is here for me.  His presence, resolve, and strength make this journey bearable.  He is so funny that I laughed many times today because he is determined to cheer me up.  And it works.

The Lord has been good to me.  After my initial heart break, I began to feel okay in an hour after the news.  We went out for a cup of my favorite coffee as my consolation since I had stopped drinking coffee in preparation for the transfer.  We had lunch, enjoyed the sunshine, walked around town, and drove to a coastal town.  I did a little retail therapy and bought a silicone basting brush that I had always wanted.  I stared at the ocean when we were driving back home.  The water was so tranquil.  I know that everything is going to be fine.  My final treat for today was McD french fries that brought comfort to my tummy.

My maid-of-honor, one of my best friends who loves me dearly, said yesterday in our phone call that she originally wanted to suggest taking me to a birthday dinner instead of a birthday lunch this coming Saturday so that we could dine and wine.  But since we got good news yesterday, I would’ve done a transfer already and wine wouldn’t be the best thing for a celebration.

I texted her and asked if I could still take up on her offer for dinner and wine.  She quickly texted back with choices of restaurant.  I chose a little French bistro.  It feels great to be loved by so many.

I went back to read Aramis’ post yesterday.  Aramis, you don’t know how much your post has helped me today.  Sorry to bring you another bad news.  I am wounded.  But I am a fighter.  This is just the first round.  I will definitely get my ass back into the fight.  Thank you for your encouragement.

As for the rest of the day, we are both doing fine.  I put away all the IVF and meds schedules on the fridge.  The medicine bottles are all in the kitchen cabinets.  Endometrin boxes are closed.  Pantyliners were put back in the linen closet.

I emailed Dr. E to see if I should resume the supplements that I was taking before this cycle.  She wrote back immediately, “Yes please!!!  We have a winner egg to retrieve.”

I really love my RE.

I love my Lord and He loves me.  It is Him who is healing my heart.  I hope that I come out of this strong and we as a couple also become stronger.

As a final note, it pains me that my husband does not even get to share this most heart-wrenching news with his parents while chatting on Skype with them.  They know nothing about what has been going on.  I hope and pray that one day we and his parents could be on the same page.

Thumbs up? Or thumbs down?

Bob and I feel that we have grown a whole lot individually and as a couple in the last couple of days.  This has been such a huge emotional roller coaster ride.  I do not wish this upon anyone.  Infertility sucks.

Dr. E called on Friday to let us know that one of the embryos had been growing better than the other two.  In other words, the other two weren’t doing well.  That one good embryo was a grade one, two-cell embryo, which was where it should have been at on day two.  She said she’d update us the morning of transfer on day three.  Needless to say, I was happy that we had one good one but was a bit bumped about the other two.  One thing I helped myself to be sane was NOT to consult with Dr. Google.  I decided to be an ostrich and buried my head in the sand.  I didn’t look up any information online and just proceeded to have a very good rest of the day.

Saturday was supposed to be transfer day.  We were getting ready to go to my pre-transfer acupuncture session at 8:30 when Dr. E called.  Unfortunately my phone had been acting up lately and her phone call went straight to voice mail.  She emailed me for me to give her a call.  It can’t be a good thing when your own RE wants to talk to you right before transfer, right?  When I called her back, she was about to begin a retrieval.  She promised to call us back after the procedure was done.  My heart was pounding so hard.  I was trying to guess what the news would be.  On our way to acupuncture, she called us back and said we have to discuss how the embryos were doing.

Here is the gist of it: the one good grade-one embryo was still a grade-one.  However, it was a four-cell embryo rather than at five- to six-cell.  Dr. E said that she had one patient with a pregnancy resulting from a four-cell embryo with a day-three transfer eight years ago.  In other words, it’s very rare.  It’s not impossible, but rare.  So the pregnancy success rate with a day-three four-cell embryo is low.  What we could also do was to wait until day five and see if the embryo turned into a blastocyst.  If it did, then the implantation and pregnancy rates would increase greatly.  However, since it was only a four-cell embryo on day three, the chances of it becoming a blastocyst would still be low, but not as low as getting pregnant with a four-cell embryo on day three.  Our job was to make a decision two hours before the scheduled transfer and let her know.  She also mentioned that the lab we are using is very good with culture so the embryo being cultured at the lab will be as good as being in my uterus.  She said that letting it grow to day five will give us a lot of diagnostic information for the next round if it doesn’t work for this round.

One of the other two embryos decided to join in the race and turned into a two-cell embryo on day three.  Dr. E said that miracles do happen but we probably wouldn’t think too much about this one embryo.

My first instinct was to let the four-cell embryo grow to day five.  Bob’s first instinct was to put it back and see what happened.  There were so many what-ifs.  We had to go into my acupuncturist’s practice, apologize for being late, talk to her, talk with each other, and go out to pray.  We prayed and talked some more.  It was almost the toughest decision that we had to make when all of our hopes and dreams for this cycle are riding on this one tiny embryo.

I had been trying to be strong in this whole journey since things were going quite well for us.  I finally couldn’t hold my tears and cried like a baby.  Why does it have to be so hard?  Why couldn’t we just have a couple of embryos that looked fine so that we could put them back?  Why did we have to struggle with a decision that could mean baby or no baby?

Bob wanted to give the embryo a chance in my uterus instead of letting it die in the lab.  We decided to go ahead with the transfer.  I went inside to get my acupuncture done while he called Dr. E.  A couple of minutes later, Bob knocked on the door and said that Dr. E wanted to chat with me.

Lying on the acupuncture table, tears streamed down my eyes and soaked my ears.  Dr. E wanted to protect me physically and emotionally for the next two weeks.  If we did the transfer and got a BFN in two weeks, the physical and emotional toll on me would be great.  She called this IVF naivete and that we would make a very different decision if we had done a few rounds of IVF already.  If we still decided to transfer today, she would be 100% supportive of our decision.  Dr. E’s words, expertise, and my trust in her helped us decide to let the embryo grow until day five.

In a matter of days, we went from three embryos to potentially none.

While I was in the acupuncture session, Bob chatted with Dr. E about the embryos and all the implications.  The lab normally doesn’t give an update on the embryos on day four but Dr. E would request for one and let us know how they are doing.

The rest of the day was fine.  Bob and I picked ourselves up, went and enjoyed a very good day together.  Sitting in front of the ocean in our car, we talked about our hopes and dreams, what we had to go through to make a baby, and how to trust that God would provide.  My mind has already gone to plan B, C, and D.  Even the words “donor eggs” came across my mind.

Bob kept on joking that at four-day old, his offspring is already like him, being very slow in growing and taking its sweet time.  Got to appreciate a funny husband at times like these.

With a few more tear drops last night, I went to bed thanking God for giving us a great RE.  I prayed for a healthy embryo and for God’s will to be done.  I woke up this morning feeling refreshed.  Bob usually has his phone on mute.  At 8:45, he went and picked up his phone and just happened to see that a call was coming in.  It was Dr. E calling bright and early in the morning!  When I knew it was her, all my muscles started tensing up and I buried my head in the comforter.  I could hear a bit of what she was saying to Bob.  Once I heard the words “great news”, I jumped up and looked at Bob.  He put the phone on speaker so we both could hear the news.  The four-cell embryo yesterday decided to do a bit of a catch up and it is now a very good looking morula!  Apparently the morula stage is where it is supposed to be on day four right before it turns into a blastocyst on day five!  Wow it went from a four-cell to a morula in a matter of one day?!?  Dr. E said that there is a 95% of chance that it will turn into a blastocyst tomorrow!  Talk about a major turn of events.  We went from a 5% chance of it turning into a blastocyst to 95%!  The other embryo also turned from a two-cell to an eight-cell embryo.   It’s a grade-three so quality isn’t as good.  We don’t know what will happen to it.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Dr. E told us to get ready for our transfer at 10:15am tomorrow, five days after our egg retrieval.

We went from a high five, to an okay, and now maybe one thumb or two thumbs.  Will it be a thumbs up or thumbs down?  Only God knows.  🙂  I can’t wait to see what the future holds.