IVF Round 2:Part 2
This is a continuation of our last IVF round, so if ya didn't read Part 1, go check that out first.
During Part 1, we left off at the retrieval -- I wore the lucky socks, he wore the IVF Got a Badass Wife shirt and we ended up with a nice dozen eggs - twice the amount we got during Round 1!
It is safe to say we both cried tears of JOY after the doctor came into my room to tell us the news!
The day after retrieval (August 31) we learned that of our 12 eggs, 11 inseminated and 9 of those fertilized normally!
A real miracle - WE HAD 9 EMBRYOS!!
Let's talk about the truly fascinating insemination process.
Did you know there are two ways an egg may be inseminated during IVF? There's the traditional way where 50,000+ sperm are placed next to the egg in the petri dish. Then fertilization occurs when one of the sperm enters into the cytoplasm of the egg.
As if the traditional way isn't mind-blowing enough, the other way an egg is inseminated during IVF is through a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI - pronounced 'ixie'). This is how they fertilize my eggs since we are using donor sperm. They may use ICSI in other instances when the male partner's sperm is low motility or low sperm count.
During ICSI, the embryologist examines the sperm under a high magnification microscope and picks out the "best looking" sperm (in this case, the 12 best sperm for our 12 eggs). Then, that great looking single sperm is injected directly into the cytoplasm the egg. ONE SINGLE SPERM! The embryologist uses a tiny needle, called a micropipette, to inject the one sperm into the center of the egg.
Meanwhile, back at the Morgan household....
While our embryos were growing in the lab, we started progesterone in oil shots to get my uterus ready for a fresh transfer. This was all new since last round we were planning to freeze our embryos.
These shots are no joke. Instead of going into my abdomen like the others, this one has to go in my hip muscle, similar to the trigger shot.
Except it's progesterone in oil. Which means it's real thick.
The needle is long (around 2 inches). It hurts. After it's been injected, it's very important to deeply massage the area for 5 minutes so the medication spreads out. After that, you need to move your body so the medication continues to spread. Squats, high knees, walking.
I'm pretty sure Brian hated giving me these shots almost as much as I hated receiving them. He said he could always feel the needle going through the layers of fat and muscle.
*cue heebie jeebies*
These shots were to continue every evening until 8+ weeks into pregnancy. See, I told you –– they are no joke!!
Transfer Day - Sunday, September 4
After a VERY long five days of waiting and praying SO hard for our little embryos to grow strong, Transfer Day arrived. It doesn't matter that it was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend - we trekked back to Iowa City for the procedure (luckily we didn't have to be there until mid-morning this time, whew!).
I had a Transfer Day shirt and socks made for our first round of IVF, but since we didn't make it that far last time, I was pumped to wear them this day! Brian donned his IVF Got a Badass Wife shirt again this time.
The procedure itself is similar to an IUI - they insert a catheter through the cervix and transfer the embryos directly to the uterus. Because I struggle so much with this procedure, they gave me Valium again to help me relax (spoiler alert: didn't help). Because of the Valium, we had to be there a bit early to sign papers before I was "drugged up."
"I'm Going To Pee!"
For the transfer, you have to have a full bladder. Having a full bladder pushes the bowel away and actually pushes down on the uterus to "straighten" it out, making it easier to guide the catheter and place the embryos in the proper area of the uterine lining. Who knew?
Now, if you know me, you know I have the world's tiniest bladder (who remembers the story about peeing in a Starbucks cup in the backseat of Brian's truck??) This characteristic of mine is definitely not a helpful for this procedure. Iowa City is about a three hour drive for us, so I also had to time my water intake and bathroom breaks precisely.
Well, I tried. I ended up having to let some out once we arrived at the clinic (talk about talent!), then drinking a little more water as we waited.
We waited and we waited. Brian was sitting in the procedure chair acting like a dork which made me laugh so hard tears (or pee - jk 🤪) were coming out of my eyes.
Plus the Valium makes everything so much funnier. I am lucky I didn't actually pee my pants!!
Finally, the nurse comes in and tells me to get ready because it's almost go time. Thank goodness because this bladder isn't going to last much longer!!
I disrobe from the waist down, get in the chair and take my photo op. Then, the two doctors come in the room. I had no idea there were going to be two doctors - one to use the ultrasound machine on my belly so the other doctor knows where to place the embryo.
You know what's crazy? We didn't get our embryo report until both doctors and the nurse were in the room, so we had no idea what we were dealing with for embryos until a couple minutes before the procedure.
The female doctor knocked on the little window door that is on the wall in the room (see picture). The embryologist opened the door and handed them the report.
It wasn't great. Of our 9 embryos, 4 were considered "fair" and 5 were considered "poor" on a scale of Good, Fair, Poor.
From the report, we decided with the doctors that it would be best to transfer our two best embryos and let the others incubate for one more day and hope they develop enough to freeze.
The doctor tells the embryologist which ones to get ready and in the catheter and makes a transaction, kind of like I do at the Starbucks drive-thru.
"Um yes, I'll take the embryo combo #4 and #1 extra strong and slightly warmed with a catheter on side."
I'm totally kidding. It is definitely not like ordering a coffee.
The procedure itself was absolutely horrible. If I had to rate it, I would say it's the worst one yet (and I've had some BAAAAD ones). I'll spare you the details but will just say it involved the wrong speculum, lots of deep breaths, lots of leg lifting, lots of tears and lots of hand squeezing.
But it was all worth it. It always is.
During the procedure, Brian and I got to watch them place the two embryos. It was a moment I'll never forget. If you zoom in and look closely at this photo, you'll see the green arrow where the embryos were placed.
That's all I've got for you today, friends. Watch for Part 3 soon - this will entail all that happened AFTER the transfer and what it was like to lose our sweet em-babies.