Did you know I thought I wanted to be a teacher and even took elementary education classes my freshman year of college? Yep, it's true. So, humor me and pretend like you're attending my class (however, it's definitely NOT elementary-level stuff!).
Hi class 👋 (hey, that was fun!). Today, we're going to discuss some riveting stuff––IVF....or, as I like to call it:
IV - WTF!?
Let's dive right in.
What Actually Is IVF?
IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. IVF involves a complex series of procedures used to assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected directly from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm OUTSIDE the body, in a lab. Then, the fertilized egg (or eggs) are transferred to a uterus.
Think of it like a very expensive and invasive science experiment where the stakes are REALLY high. Today, IVF is no longer considered experimental. In fact, it is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology.
It's pretty mind-boggling, actually. I often wonder what my grandma would think if she were around to see what is happening to Brian and me, and all the stuff they can do these days. She would be absolutely flabbergasted!
Fun Fact: In Latin, 'in vitro' literally means "in glass."
What's With All the Meds?
If you read my last post, you were introduced to all the hormones we received from our speciality pharmacy. All these medications will be injected by Brian directly into my abdomen (I can't do needles!).
I'm not going to get into all the different names of the hormones and what all they do (that's for a more advanced class I call IV-WTAF: 102 🤣), but here is the gist:
Injections to suppress naturally occurring hormones (daily dose for 10-21 days)
Injections that stimulate the ovaries to develop many follicles (AKA mature eggs)––these are larger doses of hormones the body normally produces every month to stimulate the ovary to produce only ONE follicle and mature egg (daily dose for approximately 8-12 days)
Injections to prevent pre-mature ovulation (2-3 doses)
Injections to induce ovulation (taken 36 hours before the egg retrieval)
Injections to prepare the uterus to accept and maintain pregnancy (daily dose, starting the evening of the egg retrieval)
Fun Fact: The first successful IVF pregnancy and live birth occurred on July 25, 1978 in England.
What Happens Next?
While I am taking these hormones, I'll be monitored carefully by the fertility clinic to see how my body is responding to the hormones. This means frequent (every other day or even daily) ultrasounds.
When the clinic determines it's time, we will head to Iowa City for my egg retrieval. We will have a 36 hour notice of when this is to happen –– I'll be sedated and they will go in and retrieve my eggs via transvaginal ultrasound aspiration.
An ultrasound probe will be inserted into my lady parts to identify follicles. Then a thin needle is inserted into an ultrasound guide to go through the vagina and into the follicles to retrieve the eggs.
Fun Fact: Over 8 million babies have been born as a result IVF.
Sperm: Meet Egg
Mature eggs will be placed in a nutritive liquid (culture medium) and incubated. Eggs that appear healthy and mature will be mixed with sperm to attempt to create embryos, in a petri dish! However, not all eggs may be successfully fertilized - it is up to God!
Fun Fact: One round of IVF (including meds) costs approximately $20,000-$25,000!
Fresh or Frozen?
You can choose to do a fresh transfer or a frozen transfer. The fresh transfer takes place soon after the embryo is formed.
Brian and I made the decision to freeze our embryos and perform genetic testing on them, as well as check my uterus for polyps prior to the transfer. Any embryos that are created will be cryopreserved while a cell from each embryo will be biopsied to check for genetic diseases and chromosomal abnormalities.
I will have a sonohysterogram at this time to make sure the hormones didn't cause yet ANOTHER uterine polyp (pray for me!!). Hopefully all is clear and we will be able to proceed with the transfer of our little frozen em-baby into my uterus!
Fun Fact: A 74-year-old woman in India is the oldest woman in the world to give birth to twins via IVF.
9 Months Later
We have our miracle baby! (You know, if everything goes according to plan.)
I Hope You Paid Attention Because We're Having a Test Tomorrow!
Just kidding 😜.
Class Dismissed! 🔔
I've probably said this before, but my goodness –– I never thought I'd ever be learning so much reproductive, biology, and science-y stuff. I always loved reading and English classes compared to math and science growing up, but I think I've probably learned more about science in the last 3 years than all my science classes combined!!
In fact, my best friend told me that I deserve an honorary Reproductive Science Degree. I agree with her! If you've stuck with us this long on our journey, I think you deserve an honorary degree, too!
Things are moving fast around here, so watch for another update soon!