August 5 was a big day. BIG! Maybe the biggest! It was embryo transfer day. Once we did the transfer we decided to go dark for a little while. We wanted to take some time to let this be ours, find out on our own, let it all sink in and then of course come running back here to tell you all the gory details. So here’s a look at the events leading up to and the day of the transfer.... with all the gory details.
The days between the retrieval and the transfer were awful. I can’t think of a time I’ve ever been more miserable. I think a combination of drugs, surgery, three-times-larger ovaries and stress were contributing factors. I was nauseous for days, dizzy, exhausted, I felt like I’d been punched in the lady parts and the gut. I couldn’t sleep, yet that’s all I wanted to do. Toss in that we’d started my progesterone. With the giant needles. And while the shots themselves were painless, the aftermath was brutal. I could barely walk. I was literally taking baby steps. Sitting, standing, walking, laying - none of it was comfortable!
The day before transfer I was anxiously waiting a call from “M” to notify me of embryo quality and transfer schedule. I think I called the voicemail five times that morning and each time I got an automated “no message from the doctor.” Meanwhile I was feeling miserable and I just wanted to know, and there weren’t any answers yet! Granted, I’m not the only patient and these things take time, but all I wanted was to know!
Finally, I called at 2p.m. and “M” asked if Dr. T had called me. No, he hadn’t. In fact, that statement made my stomach drop. Were the embryos OK? Did they disappear? Were we not able to use them? IS THIS WHAT THE END OF THE WORLD FEELS LIKE? She placed me on hold momentarily and Dr. T got on the call. As is customary, he was thorough and reassuring in his explanation. It’s rare to actually speak to your doctor on the phone under any circumstances, and I so appreciated the time he took to speak with me and prepare for the next phase of our IVF.
He first addressed how horrible I was feeling. He thought it could be the antibiotic Doxycycline that I’d started taking on retrieval day; he recommended I stop taking it. He also thought it might be early signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), but wanted to be able to rule that out. (Update: Stopped the antibiotic and that seemed to help. Never had to go back to address OHSS.)
Next, he told me about the embryos. The quality of each of the ten was as follows: > 1 excellent > 1 good > 2 average > 3 poor > 3 very poor
This is just a scale the lab uses to assess the quality; it in no way translates to the health or “quality” of the baby. However, in can translate into a sustainable pregnancy. He said the very poors were out, pregnancies have happened from poors, and the others were good to use. He also explained that due to the quantity and quality, we would likely not have any additional embryos to freeze. Disappointing news considering this was our plan all along.
Shelton and I agreed early on that when we finally did IVF, we would only do it once. “Make it good or make it gone,” a former colleague used to say in creative meetings.
He said that he had met with all of the clinic’s doctors, the lab and even “M,” and all had reached a consensus that we should transfer two embryos. Gulp. The plan had been one. We’d reached that decision based on Dr. T’s advisement and Shelton’s good sense… maybe some of mine, too. After all, we thought we’d have plenty to freeze and come back to later.
Finally, Dr. T and I discussed the actual transfer, scheduled the time for the next day, and he told me that “M” would call back to confirm.
I immediately called Shelton to discuss all of this information. And make one of the biggest decisions we’ve ever made. One or two? If we did one, then that’s it. There’s no second chance. This is it. With one we have about a five percent chance of getting twins. And twins I’m OK with - I’ve always wanted twins. On the other hand, two embryos definitely increase our chances that at least one will stick around for a viable pregnancy. I could be completely making this up, but if I recall correctly, the chance of twins increases to 50 percent with two embryos. And we’ve been told not to rule out the possibility of triplets (where one egg splits for a set of identical twins + one). So a big decision, but one that we really made rather quickly. It just seemed obvious - all this time, money, stress, etc. to just place all of our hopes on just one? How many times do you get to place two bets in Vegas? So we agreed on two.
So here they are. The two embryos we transferred. TWO!!