Max, Noelle, and Owen

Just a quick update.

As of today, we have three full blastocysts that have joined our embryo family: Max, Noelle, and Owen.

They were 3AB, 3BB, and 2AB. They were biopsied this afternoon and were frozen.

The rest of the embryos are as follows:

1BB, 1BC, 1BB-, two early blastocysts, and four morulae.

Dr. E asked her assistant to email us the fertilization report in the morning as she was still in procedure.

I didn’t know what to make of the grades when I read the email.  I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t have more full blastocysts.  I was hoping for at least 4 or 5 of them so I’d feel better.

Dr. E called me at 12:30pm.  She sounded happy, saying that we had some beautiful embryos this morning.

This is what I gathered.  She said that this is a fluid process.  The fertilization report is just a snapshot of the embryos at 6:49am.  The three expanded blastocysts (3AB, 3BB, 2AB) would most likely be biopsied and frozen (which they were) in the afternoon.  The three 1s (1BB, 1BC, 1BB-) are not expanded blastocysts yet so Dr. E said that they can’t be biopsied yet.  They need to grow into full blastocysts before they can be biopsied.  And plus, she said that the grading can change as the blastocysts continue to grow.  She said that our cycle at this stage (day 5) looks quite similar to our donor’s last two cycles.  She also said that the morulae could grow into blastocysts as well.  So now we have a total 9 more embryos that the lab is watching overnight.  We’ll have a report on them tomorrow.  I asked if the sperm quality affects the embryo quality.  She said for sure.  But she thinks that it’s too early to say how many embryos we will have tomorrow, but she believes that we will have some.  So it’s a waiting game again.  I told Dr. E my fear.  She said, of course our mind often goes to the worst case scenario.  But today we have three beautiful day 5 blastocysts.

How do I feel?  On one hand, I feel very grateful as this is the farthest we have come.  We have never had any day 5 embryos that are full blastocysts with the grade A in it.  And we still have a chance at more blastocysts tomorrow.  On the other hand, I just have this fear that none of the blastocysts are normal or that we don’t have anymore blastocysts to freeze.

My sister-in-law sent me this text tonight:

“Philippians 4:6-7. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition and thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.

Father God, We give thanks for these embryos, for the miracle of creation– knowing Lord that you are the creator -the almighty God.

God we pray that your hand and will be on these embryos, on these procedures, on these doctors, on Isabelle and Bob and all the spaces and breaths in between.

I ask that your presence be known, and that your encompassing peace would rest on them.  You are good and we praise you.  Amen.”

I will try my best to hold onto God’s goodness and His presence, and to also celebrate the fact that Max, Noelle, and Owen have joined us.

And I continue to pray for God’s perfect number of embryos for us.

And Then We Have 17

It’s me again.

I again woke up at 4 something.  This time I had a hard time falling asleep.  Not that I was worried about anything.  Just couldn’t go back to sleep.

I knew that Dr. E was going to update us, but we didn’t know what time.  And we weren’t really anxious for a report.

She is so good though.  She wrote us in the morning.  Subject line was a smiley face.  I knew that it would be good news.

This is the message:

“Good morning!  We have 17 normally fertilized eggs today.  18 mature, 17 fertilized normally.  This is 1 embryo more than the last family had on day 1 .  I’m very very happy!  Next update = on Monday!  I’ll be in touch then.  Thank you.”

When we got the email, we were in the middle of watching Season 7 of Gilmore Girls.  So we paused and looked at each other.  We have 17 embryos!

That’s good news, right?

But then, Bob was a bit worried.  Last time we had 10 fertilized eggs that were from frozen donor eggs.  They all fertilized on day 1, but they were dropping like flies on day 3.  The difference is, last time we didn’t use PICSI and those were frozen eggs.  This time we used fresh eggs plus sperm chosen from PICSI.  It should make a difference right?

So more emails to Dr. E.

Me: “This is normal, right?  18 mature out of the eggs we had?  But yeah, I will take this as good news!”

Dr. E: “Very.  Exactly what she has every time.”

Me: “Bob is wondering about his sperm quality, if it’ll affect how the embryos grow.  I think he’s just a little worried.”

Dr. E: “Looked great.  I don’t have the analysis report yet, but anytime sperm looks poor, they always tell me.”

Me: “Okay.  We’ll try to breathe and celebrate for this news today!”

Dr. E: “For sure.  I know you trust me, but you can trust that if there’s anything to worry about, I’ll let you know.”

So there you go.  This is our fertilization report.  We will have our day three report on Monday.

If Dr. E is “very very happy”, we should be very very happy too.

I counted the number of follicles our donor had on trigger day.  There were 18 follicles that were 13mm or bigger.  Those must have been her 18 mature eggs.

Praise the Lord for this milestone!

I am still slightly nervous because of all our past problems, failures, and struggles.  But this is a brand new territory of using a new method for sperm selection and young fresh donor eggs.  Waiting is hard, but I will take it one day at a time.  So we have decided to celebrate this victory today.

Riesling, anyone?

Perfect Ten!!!

The phone call came earlier than I thought it would.  On the instruction sheet, it says that a nurse will call in the afternoon.  About 11am, I was sitting on the stairs at home waiting for Bob to be ready to go grocery shopping with me.  I was holding my phone and was about to check my email when the phone rang.  It said “UCSF Reproductive”.  Since the timing of the phone call was so unexpected, I didn’t even have time to worry about it.  I answered.  The nurse was super nice.  She introduced herself and told me that she’d give me the fertilization report.  She said that all ten eggs were deemed mature and they all fertilized!  Praise the Lord!!!  I can’t tell you how relieved and surprised I was to hear that.  When I woke up this morning, I was still not too nervous or worried, but I did have thoughts that maybe none of the eggs would thaw or none would fertilize.  I was hoping for at least nine to thaw and eight to fertilize.  To have all ten of them still there is such an amazing thing to experience.  Yay to young eggs!  I have never had a 100% fertilization rate so that’s my first.  This is the best possible outcome at this point.  The nurse congratulated me and sounded very excited too.  I thanked her for giving me great news, and she told me that she loves delivering good news.  I said I could cry, and she said, go ahead and go celebrate!  I also thanked her for calling so early.  She said that when she got in she checked, but the results were there yet.  She checked repeatedly and called me once she got them.  Such a nice nurse!  The funny thing was another nurse called me about 30 minutes later trying to give me the fertilization report as well.  Talking about a bit of a lack of coordination.  I was nervous when I picked up the phone call because I didn’t know if something went wrong.  Luckily it was just another fertilization report.  I would rather have double phone calls than nobody calling me.

Phew!  One hurdle down.  It’s such a great feeling to get amazing news.  I don’t expect all of the embryos to keep on growing, but I am a bit more confident that we’ll have a transfer on Wednesday.  We’ll get another report on Monday on how the embryos are doing and transfer time and instructions.  Maybe my dear friend Jane has to come up with some embryo names for us. 🙂

So relieved!

Sad but still Thankful

It was not the kind of phone call anyone would want.

Last night right before bedtime, I turned to Bob and asked, “What if our egg doesn’t fertilize?”  It crossed my mind not only once yesterday that there was a possibility for the worst case scenario.  We talked a bit about it.  The conclusion is that we did give our best for this cycle.  If the egg didn’t fertilize, we still have a lot to be thankful for as we have five embryos in the freezer.  But of course it would sting but I did mentally prepare myself for that possibility.  I prayed for my heart to accept anything that would come our way and fell asleep.

I knew that the phone call would come at any time.  The clinic usually calls between 3 and 6pm on a regular work day.  However, we got our first fertilization report with them on a Sunday at around 10am.  On a holiday I would expect the phone call to be earlier.  I got up from a very good night sleep.  I made breakfast, cleaned the shower stall, and started sorting all of the mail from the last couple of weeks while having Christian contemporary music on.  At the moment when my kitchen counter was filled with bills, statements, and letters that I was sorting, the phone rang.  It said “UCSF Reproductive Health”.  My heart skipped a bit.  I quickly walked away from the music and headed to the stairs.  I pressed the answer button and sat down on the steps.  This cheerful voice said Happy Thanksgiving to me and asked me how I was doing.  After the pleasantry, she said, “Unfortunately I don’t have better news to share.  The one egg that you have didn’t fertilize.  I am sorry.  So there will be no transfer.  Please contact your care team next week in regards to the next step.”

I said my goodbye and just sat on the stairs.  I was just in shock and felt stunned.  Bob came right next to me.  He asked if I was okay.  I just couldn’t speak for the first few moments after the phone call.  I wanted to cry but I had no tears.  This was such a familiar feeling.  I remember how I felt during our second cycle when Dr. E told us that the one and only embryo that fertilized didn’t grow further.  I felt that big lump in my throat that I couldn’t get rid of.  This was the same feeling.  Bob asked me to come down from the stairs and gave me a big tight hug.  I needed that hug.  I needed that extra strength from my husband.  I numbly went back to my original task and felt that I couldn’t stop to think for a moment because I might burst into tears.  I robotically continued my sorting but my mind wandered.  I started second-guessing myself for this cycle.  And then I scolded myself for second-guessing our steps.  I asked Bob if we shouldn’t have proceeded with this cycle.  He answered, “This is a very difficult question to answer.”  It was a wonky cycle.  Bob had not only once told me that we could just wait if this wasn’t going to be a good cycle.  My wonderful husband did not talk further.  He didn’t say I told you so.  We just reiterated our gratitude that this was not our first cycle with UCSF and that we have five frozen embryos.  I think Bob just wishes that next time I would listen to him more when he wants to be conservative with a cycle.  I am also surprised to hear that he’s okay with us not limiting ourselves to one more cycle.  He thinks that if I feel that I could use another cycle after the next one, we can totally do that.

We have experienced all sorts of outcome for our IVF cycles.  We had some eggs fertilized but not others.  We had some eggs lasting until day five but not others.  We had some embryos that lasted only until day three and arrested.  We also had good outcomes the last two cycle.  We just had never had one egg only and now that egg didn’t fertilize.  I guess the second-guessing part comes from the cost of the cycle, feeling hurt that I am gambling our money away.  However, no one could have ever possibly known the outcome.  We would’ve never known if we didn’t try.  Dr. No Nonsense always says that we expect zero, one, or two embryos for each of these min-IVF cycles.  We happened to have exceedingly good results with three and two embryos.  So this outcome is within our expectations.  Still, it stings.

I thank God for allowing me to be calm.  Don’t get me wrong. It hurts and I am sad.  I may even cry later if I feel I need it.  But at this moment, I am thankful that God is helping me through this difficult day with love from friends, love from my husband, and the reminder that we are fortunate to still have the funds to try again.  I am also thankful that the phone call was received on Thanksgiving day and not a typical work day so I don’t have to deal with work after bad news.  And like what Maddie said to me, that the ovaries were working overtime last cycle so we can enjoy having those extra bonus embryos in the freezer.  It is a nice perspective and it eases the sting a bit.

Sorry I don’t have better news. This is the nature of fertility treatment, right?  Good news and bad news.  We have to accept it all and move on.  Happy thanksgiving to you all, and thank you so much for your support.

A Good Day

Today was a good day.

I took today off since I have a lot of personal time and vacation days.  I had lunch with my sister-in-law and my nephew and got one of my favorite sandwiches: beef briskets with slaw and russian dressing on toasted onion roll.  It felt so nice and relaxing with the warm sun on our backs while eating.  We walked around a bit.  I bought a pair of rainbow socks to add to my sock collection so I can have something fun to wear for my next retrieval.

I didn’t expect the fertilization report phone call to come earlier than 3pm.  I was surprised that the nurse actually called at 1:30pm.  Out of three eggs, two were mature, and both of them fertilized!  Cue sigh of relief!  I was anticipating one fertilized egg so I am thrilled to have two!  When I got the phone call, I was about to start the car and go to my massage appointment.  So I hung up, called Bob, and updated a bunch of my friends.

When I arrived at the spa, I parked on the street as usual.  I was about to put coins in the meter and saw that it was free parking for a federal holiday since the spa was on federal grounds.  Sweet!  No need to rush my appointment.

You know what’s even sweeter?  This was a complimentary massage.  About two months ago, I had a less than stellar massage from this one particular massage therapist that I hadn’t used before.  It was so NOT relaxing and at a few moments she was actually hurting me.  My mother gave me money to get a nice massage and I was a bit upset that her money was wasted.  This spa often sends out a survey for its services.  I was very honest and provided constructive feedback to them about my visit.  A week later, the spa manager emailed me to apologize for my disappointment, thanked me for my honesty, and offered to give me a complimentary deep tissue massage.

Today was the day!  I booked the lady with whom I had a very good prior experience.  She worked on all the problem areas and I didn’t have to tell her once to adjust the pressure.  It was very relaxing and healing.  All I had to pay was gratuity.  😀

photo (36)

Needless to say, I have had a wonderful Monday and am taking my infertile-no-longer-pregnant friend’s advice to relax.  😉  We’ll see if the embryos decide to become Ivan and Jenny.

 

Officially Introducing Our Three Possibilities

We waited all day long for THE phone call, little did I know that they don’t usually start calling until between 3pm and 5 pm.  I was mostly eerily calm… but by 3:50, I was getting a bit impatient.  Come on already.  Give me a report!!!

All day I was wondering if we’d be doing a happy dance for three embryos, happy for two embryos, relieved for one embryo, or sad for none.

My secret FB ladies were impatiently waiting.  My friend Jo was impatiently waiting.  My dear friend Jane Allen was impatiently waiting.  All.  Day.  Long.

So I finally called at 3:51pm.  The nurse said they barely started calling people.  But she was willing to give me the results.

So here are the results:

We have….

One four-celled grade one

One three-celled grade one

and One two-celled grade two

Praise the Lord!! We have three embryos still growing!

The nurse said the four-celled grade one is where it should be.  The two other ones are a little behind.

And I said, well, the best I have gotten ever in the previous cycles were two-celled grade one on day two.  I will take ANYTHING that is better that what I had before.

They all go into the freezer.

I am grinning from ear to ear and was doing a happy dance.

I know this is a day two freeze.  I know that they could still change in the future.  But people get pregnant with day two transfers.  My dear friend RR is an excellent example.  She is a happy parent of a very cute little girl.  Result of a day two transfer.

In God, nothing is impossible.  Just like what my hubby said on my birthday.  Life is full of possibilities.

So, let me introduce again: Felicity, Gabriel, and Harriet.  They are all going to be paused in time and hang out in the freezer.  🙂

Grade three, three-cell, on day three

Okay.  I got my ugly cry out of the system already.  I am doing okay.  

First of all, thanks for all the support from the last post.  I really appreciate all the virtual hugs.

Today is day three after retrieval.  I was quite nervous this morning.  You know that mental state?  It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself, you’re still nervous.  Dr. E usually updates us early in the morning.  We waited and waited, refreshed my email account on my phone many times, and stared at the computer screen while I was at it.  No email.  I think the not-knowing kills me more than the bad news.  This morning I had to take Bob to his immigration appointment in downtown at 11am.  Still no news when I was waiting in the car for him.  I was hoping that Dr. E wouldn’t call me on the phone.  I somehow equate bad news with phone calls.  I was thinking, “Please please no phone calls”.  When Bob got back to the car, he asked, “Any news?”  I said “No” while refreshing my phone screen.  And there it was.  One new email.  My heart was pounding and my hand was shaking a little.  I was hoping for at least similar progress as last time: grade one four-cell embryo on day three.  Unfortunately, the news wasn’t what we wanted.  This is Dr. E’s email:

“This morning’s report is not as encouraging

but there is always still a chance as you know from experience

our day 3 embryos is a 3 cell grade 3. The likelihood that it’s genetically normal is low but not zero.

the second embryo isn’t dividing.

I will update you on Friday

I’m sorry this cycle isn’t going better

but there’s still a chance we have a blastocyst

I will let you know on Friday”

 

Cue ugly cry.  Well, it took me maybe two minutes before I felt it in my heart.  The oh-so-familiar feeling from last cycle, although this time the feeling was worse.  I don’t know what grade three three-cell translates to when it comes to making a blastocyst.  I don’t want to consult with Dr. Google or ask a friend.  I just know in my heart that this could be a bust.  All the stimulations, monitoring appointments, waiting, driving.  It comes to this low point of ONE embryo not dividing the way we want it to.  All the hopes and dreams riding on this one embryo, again.  Daisy doesn’t seem to have the kind of persistence that Clay did.  I really want Daisy to prove me wrong here.  

I AM grateful for Clay that is still frozen in time, waiting to come home.  And I am ultra-grateful for 1) getting this news when I am on vacation and not at work and 2) Bob being around and hanging out with me all day while I recuperated.  We have given names to embryos up to the letter i.  I hope that we really don’t have to use up all the names before we get our take home baby.  

We don’t know the outcome of this cycle.  I may be pleasantly surprised again.  I may not be.  But I do know that every time with embryos that don’t grow, my heart dies a little.  

I know the Lord will help me get through it though.  I know it.