We Have Passengers

Yesterday morning we did a 3dt (3-day transfer) of 3 embryos…which we affectionately call “The Passengers.”

Had to fill bladder and be there by 10….which of course guaranteed they’d be running behind….which they were. First thing we did was meet with the embryologist who showed us pictures of our new friends and explained what we were working with. Of the 3 that had fertilized all made it to transfer and were:

1-8cell Grade A

8Aembryo

1-8cell Grade B

8Bembryo

and one 6-7 cell Grade B.

6or7embryo

They look like freaky blobs, right? These pictures are mostly a curiosity to me….because I barely know what I’m looking at….but they’re fun to have. They were all fertilized with ICSI and had assisted hatching – we’re covering all the bases.

Anyway – remember my full bladder? I sure do. I finally got taken into the room got all comfy on the table – covered in a blanket, legs in stirrups, my business on full display to the world. There’s no glory to be found when you’re in that position. Then everyone assembled. There’s the nurse, the embryologist and the doc and I know that one of the worst things about the entire IVF process was about to take place: the nurse placed the ultrasound wand on my stomach…..and pressed. PRESSED! On my full bladder, which by the way, looked friggin HUGE on the monitor….enough that that nurse said, “Oh my.” Yeah, what do you expect – y’all were tardy.

The transfer went just fine – I got to watch on the monitor as the culture medium and our new friends made their way into their new house. The Russian told me that she felt like this cycle was the best of any of them and wished us the best.  I had to wait on the table for 15 minutes before I had the most glorious pee of my entire life (second only to the one following IVF1), got dressed and was sent on my way with instructions: take it easy, no caffeine/booze/smoking/drugs, and keep up the progesterone shots (which I started Wednesday night after the retrieval).

We went out to breakfast and then headed home to relax on the couch for the rest of the day.

And thus it began: IVF3’s 2 week wait.

IVF3 Which Basket Has the Eggs?

Had a good meeting with The Russian (my RE) on Friday and she said we had two options moving forward: 1) try again with my eggs or 2) move on to donor eggs. I told her that we’d talked through the use of donor eggs and that we just didn’t see that it was for us. She said she understood but wanted to give us all the information so that we had it since many of her patients ended up changing their minds…especially when they’re down to their last shot (which we’ll be if IVF 3 doesn’t work).

What I learned from that conversation:

1) Chicago is so diverse that you can find pretty much any type of donor you’re looking for, there’s an outside agency they use for this search, and when you look for an egg donor you look for someone you can relate to, who’s from a similar ethnic background, similar education, similar socio-economic background, etc – basically, pretty much you but 22.

2) The donor gets a full medical screening (genetic history, STDs, etc) to ensure their health and the hope is that they’ll produce many, many eggs.

3) Your cycle is synced up with that of the donor, she does the all the meds and monitoring, then after the Egg Retrieval the eggs are fertilized with the man’s sperm, and hopefully a whole mess fertilize.

4) Embryos get transferred to you and extras frozen, so that down the road, you can try a FET (frozen embryo transfer) to give that kid a full sibling.

5) Some costs for the donor are covered by insurance and some aren’t. The Russian estimated that extra fees could range from $6K-$12K.

And,

6) The main thing I learned from our meeting was that it confirmed that it isn’t the direction for us. Using Donor Eggs (DE) is an amazing thing, I think it’s fantastic that it’s the right option for so many people, and I especially love that science brings the opportunity for women who really want to be pregnant an increased chance to be pregnant.  But we’ve really gone over this, and we’ve talked through every aspect of it….we’ve talked through it ALOT, and moving forward to get our family our kid will either be all our genetics or none at all, and we’ll love the shit out of them either way. For us it’s more about having a child than being pregnant.

And so we moved on to talking about IVF3 with my eggs.

First we talked about this last cycle, which clearly didn’t go how any of us had hoped. The Russian said there was just a point at which my follicles kind of stalled. (Yep, they did). She still had hopes of getting at least a couple eggs so she opted not to cancel the cycle. (Thankfully, she never mentioned this cancellation possibility during the cycle because that would have stressed the crap out of me).  Anyway, she said she can’t fully explain why I didn’t respond as well, but that sometimes the body, even on a natural cycle, has an “off” cycle.  Who knows? This IVF business isn’t a lock.

We agreed that the testosterone and estrogen priming is still likely in my favor (at this point I asked about DHEA as a supplement and she said the testosterone patches essentially serve the same purpose) and I asked if we could shorten the time I’m on birth control. These past two IVFs doing 5 weeks of BCP was an eternity and my gut screamed at me that it was too long. I mean, I’m not the doctor, I know nothing…..but it’s worth a shot to try a cycle with only a few weeks of birth control.  IVF3 will mimic IVF1 which went a little better (Lupron, Menopur and back to a slightly higher dose of Follistim) and will now also include ICSI and we’ll hope for the best.

She put a number on it all and said she figures we likely have a 15-20% chance, which frankly is ahelluvahlot higher than I would have thought. And, I doubt she’d give us a padded estimate. I was told to wait for my period (which I got with a vengeance yesterday) and then call in (which I’ll do Monday morning) and come in for an initial scan. After that, The Russian’s Right Hand will work up a calendar and I’ll have a timeline for the big show.

We are feeling positive and enjoying a weekend of eating whatever the hell we want. The healthy hammer will fall  Monday with the birth control at which point I’ll cut down on some things and fully cut out others, but for now it’s M&Ms, cinnamon rolls and pizza from Pequod’s.

IVF 2: Now With ICSI and Tiny Purple Numbers

So we found out last week that on September 1st the company that handles what’s covered for our fertility treatments made a change in that now ICSI is now included in our “package.”

I feel like we got re-bundled.

ICSI = Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

icsi

ICSI is an IVF procedure in which 1 sperm is injected directly into an egg. Usually this is used in cases where sperm count or motility needs a boost – but that’s not where we’re at.  That’s all fine. Yay hubbo.  In my case it’s likely due to help us because of my age.

Yesterday I was in for my first scan (following 5 days of stims)  so I was able to ask why we should use ICSI when we know hubbo’s swimmers are okay.  The Russian’s Right Hand explained that sometimes the exterior of older eggs can be more viscous and harder for the sperm to penetrate – everything inside is likely fine, happy and peachy keen but that shell can be…..crotchety.  So, in our case, hopefully this will up the percentage of eggs that fertilize.  In IVF #1 we had 7 eggs but only 3 fertilized…..there’s no real telling WHY they didn’t fertilize, but if it was due to the viscous crunchy outer layer…..this ought to help.

As for the scan it looked like there are lots of follicles growing on my left ovary and only a couple on the right….though the tech that ran the scan said that perhaps they were just “sleepy” and we’d see more action in a few days.

I head back on Friday my next scan.

In other news: for stims shots, I was told to make four quadrants around my belly button and rotate between them each night. For fun this time around I’ve used a surgical marker (the one I was given to mark my fanny for progesterone shots) to make a small number in each quadrant each time that I take a shot to keep track of where I do the shots each night.  So now, circumnavigating my belly button I have small purple 1-2-3-4-5-6. (Current quadrant markings are 1&5, 2&6, 3 and 4 respectively).

Last time I did 13 nights of stims…..if I go the distance again that’ll be alot of belly numbers.

I will not be documenting this with a photo…..at least not one that I will share.

I have to keep an ounce of dignity.