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CCRM Cycle #1 - Pregnant until proven otherwise

Posted May 04 2009 5:26pm
It was a bit shocking yesterday to learn that we would be doing a day 3 transfer. As a patient that has had 4 miscarriages the thought is that most of my embryos should "look perfect" (or at least be successfully developed!) at day 5 - Dr. Schoolcraft told me in a previous conversation that generally women who have recurrent loss produce many great looking blastocysts - which is misleading - as great looking blastocysts can be normal or abnormal (the thought being that if you are getting pregnant you make blastocysts, but if you are miscarrying those blastocysts are likely chromosomally abnormal - especially in my case) ... but in this cycle, we didn't even make it to blastocyst!

I mean, the fact that I've gotten pregnant so many times, so "easily" indicates that Berilac and I make embryos that make it to day 5 ... so to have only 2 embryos of 7 make it to the 8 cell stage on day 3 is strange. How the heck have we been getting pregnant if 5/7 embryos aren't developing on track? Some might think it's because we must have implanted late in our previous pregnancies but in fact, I've freaked out many a relative when asking them to pray for us when we were "early in our pregnancy" and they would ask "how far along are you?" and I'd respond "3 weeks and 2 days" ... I'm not sure they actually believed me! ;-)

So when the embryologist called yesterday and told me the news, I had one and a half hours to get my stuff together to get down to CCRM for my pre-transfer acupuncture appt. I had to call my husband and my mom. I had to update all you fine ladies. I had to email my support network and ask for prayer. I had to take a rinse-only shower (I guess those embryos don't like my Whole Foods, all natural shampoo as much as I do!) I had to prep my pad for my arrival home - putting important things in reach of the recliner I would soon call home during my 2 day, upcoming, bedrest: remote controls, liquids, numerous pill jars. And when I was done, my dad raced me to the clinic.

We arrived right on time. We took a lovely picture of me in front of the infamous (and likely VERY expensive CCRM lobby waterfall) sporting my must-have IVF occasional t-shirt. I emailed this pic to my husband (surprising him that I even ordered the shirt) and he asked if CCRM created it for us (using our embryos as the pics!!) as a memento or something - too funny! (For anyone who doesn't know - the answer is NO - they barely let you get a glimpse of them before they deliver them to your lady bits - let alone graft a t-shirt for you!)

After taking the umpteenth million blood draw on this trip, we went to the surgery center and waited for someone to call us back. Now, let me tell you, my dad does not look young for his age. I was taking every chance I got to announce that this was MY DAD joining me today (as Berilac had to head back to California on Monday) but I will tell you, I was getting side ways glances from some of the other lobby patients while we waited ... I think the situation was exacerbated because I look like a teenager - it was awesome!

My acupuncturist brought us back and although navigating the gown change out was a bit delicate with my dad in the room, we managed. I relaxed, got stuck like a pin cushion, got a big tasty valium to take the edge off (ok, ok it's purpose was to relax the smooth muscles in my uterus - but I tell you my mind was pretty grateful!). A few nurses popped in and out checking my vitals, taking a peak at how that bladder was filling up - and I am happy to report that I only had to drink 16 ounces of water to make my bladder large enough, I guess my ovaries are still so large that they helped magnify my uterus on ultrasound.

My favorite part was when the embryologist came in and looked at me and said "Polly?" and I said "Yes" (knowing they like to double and triple check that they are putting the right embryos back into the right uteri). He then looked at my dad and said "Berilac?" ... it was TOO funny, dad and I broke out laughing. I told the embryologist that he was my dad and he responded saying - "you'd be surprised, at a place like this we get all kinds!" He confirmed what we had discussed earlier on the phone. He was still reluctant to give us information on the other 7 developing (although not so well) embryos, and this was all the further information that we got:
  • The three embryos transferred did not have any fragmentation removed - there was not enough to warrant it (that's good news).

  • They performed assisted hatching on all three embryos. (They said I was on the cusp in terms of my age and since I had had a failed IVF - they went for it.)

  • Of the 3 that fertilized on day 2, 1 of them had already completely arrested.

  • They will watch the remaining 6 embryos until Friday and evaluate for freeze. (It is my understanding that only 25% of cycles result in embryos that make it to freeze - so sadly, I'm not expecting any.)

Enter Dr. Schoolcraft ... the man, the myth, the legend.

I love building this whole thing up like he's a rockstar or something ... I will say that my dad has a very odd, dry, eccentric sense of humor, so I warned him that Dr. Schoolcraft is not a man you kid around with - thankfully he took my advice and didn't say anything to wig Dr. Schoolcraft out - the last thing I need is an offended doctor threading my cervix and handling my babies! The first thing Dr. Schoolcraft commented on was that we decided not to do the genetic testing and I told him that we opted out of it this time, but if we need to do it in the future - we'd be willing to at his clinic (they have really proven to me that this experience does not have to be as horrible as my last clinic experience - doctors/nurses really ARE competent!) and he broke a little smile at that, knowing I was admitting that I did not trust them earlier when I could have. He asked me if we were ok transferring three embryos and I did NOT delay in saying yes, he then said, "you could have triplets you know" ... pwaaaa haaa haa! (I laugh in the face of triplets!!) I responded asking him the chances and he said less than 5%, I told him I'd be grateful with whatever we get - if we get any babies at all ... (Lord please, please give us children!!!)

Then we started the procedure. The embryologist, Dr. Schoolcraft, and the ultrasound tech all stayed in the room - all concentrating their efforts on my nether regions, while my dad sat by head holding my hand - what a great dad! As the doctor began his descent I reminded him what a horrible transfer experience I had had in January, telling him that my last RE spent 35 minutes trying to just place the catheter and Dr. Schoolcraft's response was "I don't think I could keep my embryologist entertained that long!" ... ha! a joke from the stern faced one himself!! It was great. After that it seemed to go fine. He made mention of understanding why the previous transfer would have been difficult, but I only felt one twinge of pain and after a soft yelp the ultrasound tech said "he just placed the catheter" ... they delivered the little ones and closed up shop.

After it was over Dr. Schoolcraft said it was a great transfer with perfect embryos and he wished me luck.

I of course endured another session of acupuncture and got wheeled out of there. I wore my shirt all around with pride and ALL of the surgery center nurses ooooh'd and ahhh'd over it saying how cute it was and that they'd NEVER seen one like it before! (And the phlebotomist said the SAME thing!!). Now, I've known at least two women who have worn their shirts to CCRM - so there's got to be more ... Brenda, Lisa, how come you didn't sport it in all it's glory? I thought for sure you had??!? ... I'm guessing if any other patients in the lobby saw me in it (which they HAD to have) they likely thought I was just a naive, novice infertile (spreading baby dust!) going in for my first IVF that of course (roll eyes) will work like a charm. I just thought - of all people - those hanging out at the last resort fertility clinic .... are the ones that can appreciate such a shirt!

So there you have it. I'm now lying around incubating a few little babies. Praying that they stick around for the long haul. I've got a uterus full of babies and this was my story of becoming pregnant until proven otherwise.

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