They Are Safely Home!

What a great morning we had.

I woke up and pushed Bob out of bed so that he could go to fitness bootcamp.  I got the license to be lazy and to lie in bed before the transfer.  When he was gone, I continued to lie in bed and started to pray to the Lord about our embryos.  I prayed that Eli would’ve turned into at least a morula if not a blastocyst.  I prayed that Clay would thaw very well.  Then I began to visualize my uterus to be a very welcoming, warm place for those embryos to burrow into snuggly.  Then I fell asleep again.

Before Bob left, he reminded me to remember to fill my bladder.  I totally forgot that I needed to do that!  This cycle has been interesting because I kept on forgetting things.  I almost forgot that we needed to do injections two times!  And now the bladder thing.  I don’t know.  My head just wasn’t there.

Dr. E didn’t update us until after 9am.  I vacillated between being nervous and being calm.  I had a good feeling that Eli had made it further but I just didn’t know for sure, of course.  The subject line of her email was “Beautiful Morula”.  This is what she wrote:

“The 4 cell grade 1 is a “very pretty morula” this morning per the lab director 🙂 Yay!  They are going to thaw the frozen for us for a noon transfer.  See you soon!!”

What a big relief!  I would take a morula any day over an embryo that stops growing.  The similarity between Clay and Eli is eerie.  Clay became a morula on day 4 and was still a morula on day 5.  Here is Eli, a “very pretty” morula on day 5.  I am thrilled that they have the same progression, which means that Eli might just become another blastocyst if we decided to let it grow until tomorrow, day 6.  

That email brought a little tear to my eyes.  No matter the outcome of this cycle, it’s so overwhelmingly emotional to get to this point for a person with diminished ovarian reserve to finally make one or two embryos and to be able to transfer them for a fighting chance of pregnancy and a take home baby.  My heart was filled with gratitude.

Then cued the next step: drinking lots of water.  Started at 10am, I downed at least 3 to 4 eight-oz glasses of water.  I was feeling fine until about 11am.  Five days ago, I was dying for a glass of water but was prohibited from having one.  Today, I was ordered to drink lots of water but not to pee.  The irony of life.

On the way there, all sorts of thoughts came to my head.  What if we get a flat tire?  How would we make sure that we got to the IVF center on time? Do we call my brother to come pick me up while Bob waits for help?  Do we hail a cab and abandon the car? My mind went wild.  Luckily, we got to the IVF center safely without incidents.  Bob was so proud that he got me there 10 minutes early.

We got called back to the transfer room.  At that point, we didn’t have news on how Clay thawed.  I was quite confident that it probably did well but again, there was no way of knowing.  I just knew that we had something to transfer.  Just didn’t know how many embryos.  I was told to undress from the waist down and wrap myself around with a warm blanket.  I was surprised that no one asked us to change into anything else.  I remember reading about other ladies’ experiences of their transfers and vaguely recalled that they had to change into something else.  

This was me waiting with my lucky socks on:

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The nurse checked my bladder and said, Nope it’s too full; it’s making the uterus very tiny.  So off I went to the bathroom to let out some pee. She told me to count at the beats of the Jeopardy song for 12 counts.  I had to do this three times before they got a satisfactory amount of pee.  

Then in came Dr. E with two photographs of the embryos.  Clay thawed 100% beautifully without any fragmentations.  Eli was also without any fragmentations and accordingly to her, looked like it was on its way to be a blastocyst.  

Here is Clay:

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Here is Eli:

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Then it came the procedure.  Must be the Valium talking because I was so talkative and speaking nonstop.  It was a very cool procedure.  And it was so much better that Bob was by my side.  I recently read that the clinic that specializes in mini-IVF in SoCal doesn’t allow husbands to be in for the transfer… I’d be very disappointed if Bob wasn’t allowed to be there.  

I was introduced to a lab technician who emerged from a closed door.  She asked me for my name and how many embryos I was transferring.  After Dr. E placed the catheter inside me, the lab technician disappeared for one minute to retrieve the embryos.  Dr. E said to Bob, “This is a good time to take a video.”  Bob was like… “Uh??”  I turned my head and said, “Hey let me do it!  Give me my phone.”  So I held my phone up to the screen closest to me and followed my doctor’s instruction to start pressing record when the door opened.  The lab technician came back with the catheter with our embryos and we watched the catheter move into the uterus.  It’s truly a very cool procedure.

I remember watching Dr. E on TV on one of the local morning news station, talking about IVF, IUI, and assisted reproductive technology in general.  That was when Bob and I were dating.  When we pulled into the parking lot, Bob said, I can’t believe that we’re doing a transfer today after watching Dr. E on TV a few years ago.

I can’t believe it either.  

I lay there for a couple more minutes.  Dr. E chatted with us and told us what to do next.  I am to rest.  Think lying on a beach on a beach chair.  Bob is to wait on me and get me whatever I want and need. Whatever I need, if he can do it, he’ll do it.  So other than peeing and showering, he is going to take care of me. I would say it sounds wonderful!

Beta test is eight days from now.  It seems like beta day varies greatly among REs.  I’ve seen from 12 days to 17 days.  I will have to schedule an appointment early in the morning before work.

It feels good to be finally at this step.  I know that it is no guarantee.  But this definitely buys us a fighting chance of getting pregnant.  If I don’t get pregnant, I still have the hope that we can make embryos and it can happen.  It may  just take a little while.  We have had so many people praying for us and rooting for us that we’re feeling so so blessed.  Praise the Lord that He has been watching us every single step of the way.  I am going to enjoy the next eight days as this is the most “pregnant” I have gotten in my life.  We are one step closer to our goal of having a take home baby by end of this year.  I hope that this is God’s plan for us.

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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.