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Again, I like to have all of the information I can get my hands on. So for those of you who want a more in-depth description of an embryo transfer, here it is.
When we went in for the retrieval, we were told the transfer would be on Monday or Wednesday (Day 3 or Day 5, respectively). The problem is that they wouldn’t know until Monday if they were going to do it then or if it would be Wednesday. I guess it’s basically a game time decision. But I got the call pretty early on Monday that we had enough advanced ones to go to a Day 5 transfer. So Monday was out.
As an aside, this is my understanding of the whole Day 3/Day 5 situation: Originally in IVF, they only had a Day 3 transfer. Over time, they realized that allowing the embryos to mature to the next stage—the blatocyst stage—and wait until Day 5 to transfer would ensure higher quality embryos were being used and that you didn’t need as many of them to ensure a successful cycle. I guess with the original Day 3 transfers, they’d transfer several embryos (more than 3) because of their tendency not to “stick” as well. But, if you have enough embryos and enough of them are developing properly, they are willing to take the risk of losing a few by waiting until Day 5. So, although it’s counter-intuitive at first, the more embryos you have, the more likely you are going to do a Day 5 transfer.
On Wednesday morning, I got a call from the doctor again. We had several high quality blatocysts (the ones they transferred were grade 4AA) available for transfer. He asked if we had discussed how many to transfer, and I indicated that we thought of two. At that point, The Mister started getting nervous about a double embryo transfer—what were the chances of twins or higher order multiples? We had talked about it before, but in hindsight, it was probably more of an assumption on my part that we’d transfer two.
So we got to the office and my acupuncturist was there waiting for me. Now, I highly recommend acupuncture for relaxation. I don’t know if it does everything it claims to do, but I know it puts me at ease and I needed that Wednesday morning more than anything. So I had an hour long session prior to the transfer, which was wonderful. The acupuncturist let me listen to a guided meditation CD about embryo transfers during the session which was distracting at first, but ended up helping a great deal. My RE’s office gives the option of taking a Valium before the transfer, but being that Valium has never done anything for me, I didn’t really intend on using it. The acupuncture probably did a better job than the Valium ever could.
At the end of the session, we walked back to the mini-hospital area of the clinic. I changed into the gown and hairnet and whatnot. The Mister put on a gown and a hat and a mask. We waited maybe five minutes total and the doctor came in and handed us a picture of the two embryos selected for transfer. He informed us that the chance of pregnancy putting these two back was 50%. If pregnancy did occur, there was a 30% chance of twins, but only a 2% chance of triplets. I think these odds put The Mister’s fears at ease because we agreed to the two.
Within minutes, we were walking back to the transfer room. They put me on the table with the big ski boots and the bottom that falls out. They used an ultrasound in the traditional manner you see on television to find my uterus. Because I’m a bigger gal, I had to hold some of my skin out of the way for them to adequately see the whole organ. They inserted a speculum and I could tell they were cleaning stuff off, but to be honest I didn’t really feel anything. This was probably the easiest time I’ve had with a speculum ever. I wondered if it had anything to do with the Crinone applicator they had me use before I came in.
On a TV screen above my head, my name and The Mister’s name appeared and we were asked to confirm that it was us. Then you could see two tiny round circles on a background of white and they were soon being sucked up by a device. These were the embryos. The TV was changed to the ultrasound picture and they had to press harder to get an accurate view. I guess my bladder wasn’t full enough (though it certainly felt like it was). This was the most discomfort I felt was them having to push on that pretty hard. And I’d bet that most of that was because my bladder was so full.
But within seconds, it was over. The embryos were in (I missed any movement on the ultrasound of the catheter or anything) and we were done. They checked the catheter to ensure that there weren’t any fallen soldiers and then moved me to a gurney and rolled me back out to the recovery area. That’s when they gave us an ultrasound picture of my uterus with the two embryos in it.
And that’s when I started to get all choked up. It was such an amazing thing to witness. Most people don’t get to see their embryos at this stage and most people don’t know when the embryos have made it to the uterus. But we did…down to the exact second.
I collected myself and the acupuncturist came back in and we did another, less lengthy session. This was probably a good thing because it made me lie very still and relax instead of getting worked up.
Twenty minutes later, I was headed to the bathroom to relieve myself and within another fifteen minutes we were walking out the door.
I had a bit of soreness yesterday in my abdomen, but I think that was from them having to push down with the ultrasound paddle because it was in that exact spot that I felt the most pressure when they were using it during the procedure. All in all, the procedure was a lot less intensive than I worried about. It was over very quickly and though I was tired from having gotten so worried about it in the first place, I wasn’t exhausted from it physically.
And now I just need two nicknames for those bumpy circles residing in my uterus. I really hope they decide to stick around.
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