18 July, 2016

Baby's First Picture (Embryo Transfer Day)

Everything I have done in the past month, six months, years(?) has lead up to today. My first embryo transfer!
In the morning, I decided it would be good to get in a short workout because I knew that would be the last time in quite a while. During my workout, I received a call from the clinic. For a second, I panicked. Was I late? Had I forgotten what time they asked me to come in? Instead they asked me to come in slightly earlier.
I arrived at my clinic at 1:00 knowing that I would stay in the waiting room for half an hour. The reason for the early arrival was so that I would take the valium that was stashed away in my bag. I had several glasses of water prior to leaving my house for the appointment and throughout the experience, I definitely felt the consequence. They ask for a full bladder during embryo transfer to make everything easier to see.
Promptly at 1:30, we were ushered back into a room for the transfer. Just like clockwork, one of the adorable technicians greeted me by name which made my day. They asked that I wore loose, comfortable clothes (glad they did not ask for loose, uncomfortable clothes) and socks. I came prepared with some adorable socks adorned with buttons on the side, but when we entered the room, a present was waiting for me. I was honestly very touched at this gesture. (And everyone that entered the room remarked that these socks were amazing.)

As we waited another ten minutes for things to get going, all I could think about was the full feeling of my bladder and the discomfort I felt. Husband was able to get excited and focus on the sacredness of the situation.
Our doctor showed up and gave us all the stats. As of Saturday, we had 16 embryos growing. Today, only five have made it to a nice blastocyst level. Nine of them are okay and we will let them grow another day to see what they do. (The doctor said that probably only 2-4 extra would make it to freeze, making it a total of 6-8 frozen embryos.) She seemed very positive about what everything looked like and how the cycle had gone so far. She handed us a paper with pictures of our five beautiful embryos with the best one (the A+ embryo as the doc put it) big and bold on the paper. Baby's first picture? After verifying that we were going to transfer one embryo, our doctor went out to tell the lab and switched places with a nurse.

It seems as though this nurse's primary job was to see how hard she could press down on my bladder with an ultrasound wand. Holy moley. (Her real job was to show us where the catheter was being placed and to show us the transfer itself.) The doctor did take longer to come back into the room so we played "bursting bladder" longer than I wished.
The doctor came in and we got started! When she started putting all the fun metal pieces in place, I thought I was not going to make it. (Let's see if we can put pressure on her bladder from the inside and the outside! What fun!) I honestly asked her how long she thought it was going to take. The pain was minimal. It was definitely less painful than an IUI (and an IUI is just momentary poking and prodding). I warned the doctor that in the past, the nurses doing the IUIs had problems getting positioned in the correct spot and had to use an alternative catheter. (Apparently there is a slight bend in my cervix. You wanted to know that, didn't you?) It only took a minute to get the catheter in and then at the last minute, the embryo was sent for.
The embryologist once again ensured that we wanted to transfer one and he passed our (hopefully) future child off to the doctor. Obviously the embryo is too small to see, but they put a couple tiny bubbles around the embryo so that we could see where it was transferred and when the transfer took place.

(That my friends is what part of my reproductive system looks like. The black part on the right I believe is my extremely full bladder. Immediately to the left--the part that looks almost folded over--is my uterus. The bright spot would be where the embryo was placed.)

They paused the ultrasound screen when the transfer took place and pointed out where the embryo had been placed. (The embryologist took the catheter back to the lab to make sure the embryo had not decided to retreat back into the tube.) After taking everything back out of me, they cleaned up, helped me get comfortable on the exam bed, and left us alone.
Husband and I chatted. As I was squirming and pinching myself to get over the bladder situation, he was having a wonderful experience. We looked at the pictures of the embryos and the frozen image on the television screen. As we were enjoying our moment, a technician came in to debrief us.
Strict instructions: Not technically bedrest, but "home-rest." I am not to leave the house, particularly tomorrow. Wednesday I can do a bit more, but the first day of freedom is Thursday. I was instructed not to do laundry, dishes, any other household duties. (Ah man...all my favorite things!) On Thursday I can resume regular activities, but no heavy exercise, no lifting anything more than 20 pounds, etc. They even wrote a doctor's note for my strict professor to excuse me from my class tomorrow. (He has a weird absence policy.)
They turned on a recording of chirping birds after the transfer and instructed us that as soon as the recording was over, I was free to get up and use the bathroom!
Blood test is scheduled for July 28.
I'd never been uneasy about receiving a positive blood test before, until talking with a dear relative that has gone through IVF. She received a false positive beta blood test once. Yikes.
Now it is time to wait. And relax.
This weekend I'm heading off on a short road trip with one (or two) of my favorite people in the world to relax with my grandmother and two aunts.
Here's to a calm ten days.

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