When we went in for the retrieval, we thought we had 9 follicles, turns out they were able to get to 16 eggs and we knew by the next day that 13 of them were mature and that 11 of them had fertilized. We had agreed to use ICSI* on at least 50% of the eggs to increase the chances of fertilization but from what I can gather, they ended up doing it on all of the eggs. Two eggs collapsed and did their own failed thing and 11 fertilized. At this point a transfer is tentatively scheduled for day three to put embryo(s) back in. A 3 day transfer isn’t what we were hoping for, but instead a 5 day where the doctors can be more confident in which embryo(s) to pick. There is of course a risk…You might not have anything left by day three that has survived, let alone day 5.
We got a call on day three that we had been pushed to a 5 day transfer. The scheduling nurse didn’t know at this point how many blasts there were or how many embryos had survived, but the pushing of the appointment meant good things. I immediately burst into tears. It was the first time that I’ve been able to recall in the past years crying happy tears. So much of this process is sadness and overwhelming hate for your body. For once, my body was cooperating and I was overwhelmed with joy. I called PC and texted our inner circle that knows the details of this journey.**
*Side note on ICSI, it’s Intra-cytoplasmic meaning that instead of just mixing sperm with eggs and hoping they fertilize, the embryologist picks out the “best” sperm and actually injects it into the egg. There are arguments both ways on the benefits…ICSI is more expensive but statistically you have better chances of more eggs fertilizing. You also though have removed the “survival of the fittest” natural selection thinking because the scientist is picking for you. Honestly if I was worried about mixing science into my life I wouldn’t be where we are in this whole process.
**Understanding the 3 vs. 5 day transfer is a complicated thing, so here’s the gist. Normal, healthy, easily impregnable people only have a 25% chance of getting pregnant each month. So even if they have eggs, they have the perfect timed sex, everything fertilizes, etc their egg MIGHT not implant and/or develop into a normal pregnancy and it’s because not every egg is a good egg and not every embryo is a good embryo and healthy enough to continue on to a viable pregnancy. By day three, the doctors have an idea which ones are developing well, but there is still some chance that they won’t “make it” further. By day 5, they have a better idea if they will become blastocysts (aka Blasts) which are WAY stronger little embryos and have more promise. Having a 5 day transfer also lets you transfer less embryos back in–both “saving” any viable ones for a future date, but also greatly reducing your risk of multiples without reducing your risk of success because they’re not implanting known “duds”.
By day 5, we had 4 blasts (one transferred) and three left to freeze. It sounds like a disappointing #, but you have to go back to percentages. We are fortunate enough to have another chance (hopefully if the frozen embryos survive the thaw) if this attempt doesn’t work. We opted to transfer one embryo after discussions about probabilities with our doctor. People unfamiliar with IVF immediately jump to “you could have twins” first. I am 100% it’s meant with the greatest intentions, but it’s actually a relatively insensitive topic to throw out there. It ranks up there in my mind with the “you could always adopt” suggestion. If you wouldn’t say a sentence/suggestion out loud to a couple trying to conceive naturally, don’t make that suggestion to any couples wading through infertility. The success rate with 1 vs. 2 transfers was less than 1/2% higher, yet you have a 40% higher risk of multiples. We didn’t flip a coin or make the decision lightly. While we would gladly welcome ANY babies into our life, and have several friends with very successful twin pregnancies and deliveries–you have to accept that twins are a RISK of IVF, not a perk of it, so while two babies would be amazing, having a single normal pregnancy would also be amazing and something that up until this year has been out of grasp.
The transfer itself is easy. Not put under, minor cramping after and 24-48 hours of suggested “couch rest” followed by 3 more days of no lifting or sudden movement.So now we wait. And we pray. And we hope. And we plead that my body will cooperate just one more time.