Our Little Embaby Is Home!

First thing first, our transfer is done!  We have one embryo safely home!

I slept really well last night.  Focusing on God has really helped me be grounded and at peace.  Waking up to my Face.book secret group ladies posting pictures of their super hero attires and socks on their kids and themselves was so nice and touching.  Multiple friends and my sister-in-law texted me and sent me chat messages with their well wishes.  I am certainly very loved, and I know it and cherish it.

My whole morning consisted of me keeping myself calm and productive.  I made special Indian-spiced oatmeal on the stove top that Bob loves.  I cleaned the whole kitchen, wiped the counter, and soaked the range hood baffle filters.

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There is nothing better to distract myself than tidying up.

My wish was my phone would not ring.  My clinic would not be calling me.  Calling me would not be a good thing. That’d mean they would have some bad news for us.  Nope.  The phone didn’t ring.  My mind rested a little.  That meant we would have something to transfer.  I was quite calm all morning.  I might have had two moments of anxiety, but I knew that it was normal.

We arrived at the clinic at 12:35.  We were supposed to meet my acupuncturist there at 12:40.  I started drinking water at 12:20 but I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to hold it until 1:45.  I made a trip to the bathroom when we got to the clinic.  We waited at a waiting room that was brand new to me.  I guess because I had not done a transfer, I hadn’t been to the area.  I took a Val.ium at 12:45.  My acupuncturist, Bob, and I waited for another five minutes before a nurse came to greet us.  She looked puzzled and said, “You guys are early.”  I had to explain to her that we were here early for acupuncture.  She said that it wasn’t in the notes, but it was okay.  I told her that I told two different nurses about it during the fertilization report phone call, and asked if I should’ve called or done something differently.  She assured me that I didn’t do anything wrong.  She would talk to those in-cycle nurses. She was super nice and told us that she’d set us up in one of the transfer rooms.

The set up for transfer in this brand new clinic is sweet.  At the old clinic, you would have to go to a resting area with everybody and do your acupuncture there with the curtain closed.  Right here, there are four transfer rooms.  You have an hour before the transfer and an hour after transfer to do the pre- and post-transfer acupuncture sessions in the same room as the transfer.  I was situated in transfer room number four.  My wonderful acupuncturist let me lie down on the transfer table, put needles on me, and keep me warm with warm blankets that the clinic provided.  I drank quite a few more sips of water before I fully relaxed.  The light jazz music was a bit too upbeat for acupuncture.  However, the effect of Val.ium and the acupuncture had such a relaxing effect on me that I almost fell asleep.  It was quite an experience to do a session right in the transfer room.

The session was done five minutes prior to transfer time.  Bob came in to join me.  He had on his Superman shirt.  I had my usual Superman socks on.

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At 1:45 sharp, the nurse and Dr. Scrubs entered the room.  She greeted us and handed us a picture of our blastocyst.

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She explained that it was an early blastocyst two (EB2).  I was a little bit confused because I was expecting a blastocyst with a number and two letters, like 1AA, or 2AB, or something like that.  I really didn’t know what EB2 meant.  Dr. Scrubs said that it was a good blastocyst.  They are watching three to four more embryos that could become blastocysts that can be frozen tomorrow.  I asked her if it was necessary for us to know the grading of this early blastocyst that was going to be transferred.  She said not necessary, but she thought that it was a good blastocyst.  She also said that she’d be surprised if we didn’t have more blastocysts to freeze tomorrow.  She said it’s fairly common to have day six embryos to freeze.  And we could see all the gradings on the fertilization report print out that she gave us.

I laid down with my legs up.  She cleaned the area to make sure the mucus wouldn’t be in the way of the embryo.  When the nurse placed the abdominal ultrasound wand on my tummy, I could then feel my full bladder.  I was all along worried that I didn’t drink enough water because the full bladder wasn’t unbearable, but the nurse reassured me that it was perfect.  Once Dr. Scrub was ready, the embryologist came in to introduce herself and asked me to verify my name and date of birth.  She went back out of the other “secret door”.  On the big screen, our little embryo was shown.

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It was super cool to watch the camera zoom out and a catheter came into the picture.  The tiny little embryo was barely visible on the screen.  The catheter sucked the embryo into it.

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Moments later, the screen switched back to the image of my uterus.  The embryologist came in with the catheter (I always wonder if she/he had ever dropped it….).  She handed it to Dr. Scrubs.  Dr. Scrubs told us to watch the little white spot that would go in.

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See that little white line in the middle of the image?  That was the catheter.  Once that was done, the embryologist returned to the lab to check on the catheter to make sure the embryo was gone.  We waited for a couple of moments.  The green light of the door was off, which signaled an all clear.  Our transfer was done!

Dr. Scrubs congratulated us and told us to wait for that phone call tomorrow.  I stayed behind for my post transfer acupuncture session.  I was feeling at peace and calm.  I lay there and just enjoyed the moment of quiet for another 30 minutes.

After the session was done, I said good bye to the acupuncturist and thanked her for making the trip over there.  Bob and I studied the “Oocyte and Embryo Status Report”.  We see that our little early blastocyst that we have nicknamed “Kevin” was from a 9-cell with fragmentation of 4 and symmetry of 1.  It actually became a blastocyst.  There are three embryos labeled “EB1” or “early blastocyst 1”.  These are from the 10-cell (fragmentation 2, symmetry 2), 10-cell (fragmentation 3, symmetry 1), and 9-cell (fragmentation 2, symmetry 2).  There is a morula called “MorulaC” from a 4-cell (fragmentation 2, symmetry 1).  All the rest of them arrested.  So it seems like those four will have the potential to grow and be frozen tomorrow.

How do I feel?  I praise the Lord that we had a blastocyst to transfer today.  I am super grateful.  I was at first confused and then a little bit disappointed.  I was expecting young donor eggs to have better “quality”, whatever that means.  And I was expecting to have a more grown or expanded blastocyst.  And I was also expecting that we would have something to freeze today.  However, I have gotten over that.  I might have allowed my “Kevin”‘s day three grading to affect my point of view of its potential.  But I have got to put my trust in this process.  This embryo is from a young egg.  Despite its less than stellar status on day three, it grew to be an early blastocyst.  I am going to embrace this little embaby and pretend that I am pregnant.  Plus, numbers and stats don’t mean much to God.  If this is God’s will for us, He will make sure that this embryo is normal and let it stick.  So my plan is to nurture myself and my body and talk to the embryo for it to stay put because it is really fun to come out eventually and meet his/her hilarious dad.  I am also determined NOT to search online about any information about the embryos and any success stories/failures that could cause me anxiety.  The less I know the better.

So here we are!  Kevin is home.  I will talk to it daily.  I have hope that it will make my uterus its home for the next nine months.  I pray that it finds a good place to implant inside me.

MicroblogMondays: Hopefully My Last Sushi Meal For a While

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You know, I am trying to get pregnant.

In fact, I’ve been trying to get pregnant for the last 47 months.  We had two transfers before.  Neither one resulted in a live birth.  This time it feels a little different.  With our 100% fertilization rate, we now have ten little fertilized eggs hopefully still growing in the lab.  There is a little more hope, a little more brightness in the future, and little more confidence that it may just work out this time.

I don’t believe in jinxing things.  My potential due date is already there in my mind.  Searching for a maternity outfit is my occasional pastime.  All in all, my expectation is higher this time with these young and healthy eggs of a proven donor.  They passed the first hurdle beautifully.  This afternoon will bring us the much anticipated news of number of embryos we still have.

Bob and I set up a sushi date for this past Saturday in anticipation of our transfer.  If we get pregnant this time, this will be my last sushi meal for the duration of a pregnancy.

Our usual Japanese restaurant didn’t disappoint.

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I savored every single bite of raw fish, choosing to believe that this may be my last chance of this Japanese delicacy before mid-August.

What an enjoyable date night celebrating our ten little fertilized eggs and a dream that may just come true, that we get to close this chapter of our life trying to get pregnant for almost four years.

Green light!

We got the green light to move ahead!

Today was my lining check day.  I was able to maintain my calm most of the day.  There were maybe three moments of nervousness but I was really amazingly at peace.  My prayer this morning was for my lining to be good, but if also for God to keep me focus on Him rather than my circumstances if my lining wasn’t good.  I was able to focus at the kids at work.  I was not anxious when I was driving to the clinic.  All in all, I was feeling at peace and calm.

I arrived at the clinic early and found a free parking spot (yay!).  I wrote a huge check for the cycle, the most we have paid for one single cycle.  I really hope that the end result is a baby for us.  When I was done checking in, it was not even my appointment time yet.  I barely warmed my seat in the waiting room before a male nurse led me into the exam room.  Not even two seconds after I undressed and covered myself up before my favorite nurse practitioner (NP) walked in.  She asked me how I was doing.  I told her that I had been quite calm all day  until that moment, not knowing if the estrogen patches were working.  She told me that it is some pretty powerful stuff.  Apparently if the patches don’t work, the clinic would recommend injections.  Being on the table, I started to feel a little nervous.  I am thankful that she was very good at putting me at ease.  With me lying down and the light dimmed, she inserted the wand and reminded me that because of my fibroid, it usually would take her a little while to find the lining.  After looking for a few seconds, she said, “I can tell you now that it’s looking good”.  What a relief that she told me that first.  She proceeded to measure the lining.  It was 7.8mm.  I was slightly disappointed because last cycle my lining was the same and I didn’t get pregnant.  But like last time, she told me that anything above 7mm is good.  I remember her telling me that the trilaminar pattern looking shiny is what they would want.  I could totally see the shininess of my lining on the screen.  Both ovaries were quiet, which was what we wanted.  The NP wanted to make sure she got the best view of the lining, so she asked for permission to do an abdominal ultrasound.  That measurement was even better: 8mm.  She said that it would be a more accurate one because the view was not obstructed by the fibroid.

I felt relieved, calm, and happy that we are moving on, finally.  It has seemed like a long wait since our last transfer.  A total of nine months.  We went through a lot in the last nine months.  It just feels good to get the Okay to move forward.

One of the in-cycle nurses situated me in this office with a great view of the bay.  We went over all the instructions for the sample collection, the changes in medication, transfer, and pregnancy test.  I knew ahead of time that Bob would have to clear his semen without anyone telling us.  So I had him do that yesterday morning.  He is scheduled for his semen specimen collection tomorrow at 11am.  The eggs will be thawed tomorrow and fertilization will happen.  We will get a fertilization report on Saturday with the number of eggs thawed and the number of eggs fertilized.  On day three, which is Monday, we will get a call about the number of embryos remaining and the transfer details for Wednesday.  I made sure that on the lab order it says to thaw ten eggs and transfer one blastocyst on day five.  I also made sure that the lab order in the system said my donor’s name and number.  It’s never too much trouble to double and triple check.

Today is our last dose of Lup.ron.  I hope I will not have to do another Lup.ron injection again until the transfer for baby number two.  Tomorrow we’ll start our progesterone in oil injections.  Yup.  PIO is finally starting.  Somehow I have never gone to the injection class that U.CSF puts together, mostly because I knew how to do my subcutaneous injection, so my own nurse never told me to do one.  The in-cycle nurse went over a bunch of instructions with me.  Basically to relax the muscles for the injection.  She told me the correct areas to inject.  I requested for her to draw the areas for me which she did later.  The key, she said, is to jab the needle in quickly, pull out the plunger for a little, then slowly inject the liquid in.  She told me to do it between 7 to 11pm, massage the area afterwards, and walk around if I can.  I am quite sure Bob and I will have a fantastic time doing this.  The dosage is 1/2cc for two days, 1cc for two days, the 1 1/2 cc for the rest of the first trimester.  The nurse said I could do it lying down or standing up.  She also showed me how to do it myself, by leaning the non-injection side of my body on the wall to relax the injection side, jab, and inject slowly.  I am not going to tell Bob just yet that he may not have to inject for me.  I will prefer for him to do it for me so let’s hope that it will go well.

I am to switch out my old estrogen patches with three new patches tomorrow.  Three days after that, I’ll replace them with two new patches and continue that every three days until I am told to stop.  The nurse told me to talk to my own nurse about refills for these meds.  I told her that hopefully if I get pregnant, my OB/GYN will order them for me so it will be covered under my insurance.

I am to start steroids tomorrow and continue my prenatal vitamins.  The in-cycle nurse instructed me to tell Bob to take his Cip.ro.  I told her that since Bob usually would get a stomach problem from the Cip.ro, Dr. No Nonsense gave an Okay for him not to take it. She told me to make sure with my nurse about it.  (I later forgot to ask my nurse after I left so I had to go back to the clinic and wait for her to meet with me again.  She remembered this whole thing about Bob not taking the meds so she didn’t order it for him.)

On the day of the transfer, my acupuncturist will do pre- and post-transfer session with me at the clinic.  Apparently we get a transfer room where we will do the acupuncture session there, stay there for the transfer, and stay there for another session.  Sounds like a nice set up.  I will notify the clinic ahead of time when I get the day 3 fertilization report.  I remember that I will take a Val.ium one hour prior to the transfer, but I totally forgot that I will need to have a full bladder.  The memory is slowly coming back about how a transfer works.

First beta will be on December 7th, 12 days after our day 5 transfer.  I think it’s torture that my clinic makes people wait for so many days before beta test can be done.  I am known for not testing ahead of time, so we’ll all be guessing together.  Plus I am sure progesterone is going to make me feel pregnant and tired.  It will probably be some very difficult two weeks to wait.  I have yet to decide whether to go to Kai.ser, my own insurance, or to go to U.CSF.  Kai.ser does ASAP instead of STAT.  So really, who knows how quickly ASAP is.  My nurse said that I may find the test result online sooner than she does.  If I go before 9am, there is a 50/50 chance that she could find out the result before 6pm.  I don’t know if I can last all day without knowing the results.  So the choice is to pay for the test at U.CSF and get the results sooner, or go to Kai.ser for free but potentially have to wait longer.  I am still undecided.

After the in-cycle nurse drew the cycles on my lower back, my own nurse came in to go over the consent form with me.  It was very nice to see her.  When I brought up Dr. NN not being able to do my transfer for me, her reaction cracked me up.  She was like, “I know!  When he told me, I was like What the heck?”  HAHA!  Yeah he can’t do it for me because he is going out of town before Thanksgiving.  I am fine either way.  My uterus is a straight forward organ so I am sure the other doctor is fine.  We went over the consent form and we were done!  When we said good bye, she told me that she’d talk to me in three weeks.  I just looked.  It’s more like 2.5 weeks.  In 2.5 weeks, we’ll find out if we are pregnant in 2015.

Bob is very excited.  When I wrote him a text, he said, “Praise the Lord!  Let’s do it.”  I love that!  All the glory and honor go to the Lord.

So here we are!  After so many years, this is the best chance that we have for a baby.  I am very grateful for getting this close.  I have been praying for the perfect number of embryos to complete our family.  Whatever that number is, I will be happy.  So please pray that the eggs thaw well, fertilize well, and we’ll have the perfect number of embryos waiting for us.

Like what Bob said, Let’s do it!

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.