Finally, we have good news! After 3 cancelled IVF cycles, I received the green light to start egg retrieval (ER) stimulation medication aka stims! There is excitement because there have been so many delays this year with the cancelled embryo transfers (due to thin lining) and the cyst causing low follicle aka egg recruitment. There are nerves because due to my age, it could be 0 normal embryos at the end of this because as a woman gets older her egg quantity and quality reduces. The good news is from the latest procedure, the trental medication is working after 6 months so we hope it continues to thicken for the next embryo transfer. We still have one embryo in the freezer so hopefully things keep going up from here.
Tuesday’s check-up showed about 7 follicles, which is supposedly good for my age. When you start ER stimulation medication, there’s a possibility more follicles may come out of hiding! I welcome any more to come out as the more follicles that are retrieved, the better the chances. As a point of reference, someone 10 years younger could have 20-30 eggs retrieved. This will be my 4th ER and the last one was about 2 years ago. If all goes well, the ER procedure will be sometime between September 15-18, 2018.
The ER process feels like sitting on the edge of a front row seat to a ball game as the final score means everything. In the fertility “game”, the hope is to get as many normal embryos to provide as many opportunities for a child in the end. Not every normal embryo will result in a live birth as there are many variables and many unknowns. It really is a miracle to give birth to a healthy baby.
The ER process in a nutshell for a general audience. This does not involve of the technical aspects:
- On the 2nd day of your period, the doctor checks for potential follicles for this month via ultrasound. If the numbers are good, the doctor will have you start on stims. If the numbers are not good and the follicles are not similar in size, you wait for next period as each month is a new month.
- Inject hormones in stomach for about 2 weeks to help the follicles mature,. During the 2 weeks, there will be several progress checks with doctor and bloodwork. The doctor may adjust the medication depending on follicle growth and bloodwork to ensure your hormones levels are not too high.
- When the eggs are the correct size/mature, you are given a time to take a trigger shot to mimic ovulation and then come back the next day for your ER procedure. While you are under anesthesia during the ER procedure, your husband/partner provides the sperm in a special room nearby. The sperm will be washed and the best sperm are used.
- The doctor tells you right away how many eggs were retrieved after you wake up from the ER procedure. The embryologist takes the mature eggs and injects/inserts 1 of the best sperm (called ICSI) in each egg to form an embryo. Once the egg and sperm “meet”, they will fertilize and the hope is that each embryo will continue to grow to 5 days. FYI: Not all follicles retrieved are mature.
- The nurse calls you the day after the procedure to tell you how many were mature, how many were fertilized and the status. They all need to make it until to Day 5, 6 ,or 7. You find out on Day 5, 6 or 7 how many made it.
- The embryos that make it to Day 5, 6 or 7 are biopsied and sent for genetic testing aka PGS Testing. The process takes about 10 business days to receive an update on which embryos are normal. You also receive a grade (quality of the embryo). This is highly recommended for women over 35 years old as egg quality is lower. FYI: The embryo number goes down about 50% for each time they call you to report the progress of your embryos.
See below for my history as an example of the numbers.
Egg Retrieval History:
- IVF#1 – 11/5/15
5 mature (4 embryos formed but all abnormal)
The egg quality was not good. I feel this had to do with a lot stress, I got a new job earlier in the year, moved states in the middle of the year and had a huge conference right before this egg retrieval.
- IVF #2 – 1/21/16
Day 1 – 6 fertilized
Day 3 – 4 continue to grow
Day 5 – 2 made it
Day 6 – 1 made it
3 embryos sent for genetic testing => 1 normal
- IVF #3 – 4/16/16
8 eggs retrieved
Day 1 – 6 fertilized
Day 3 – 4 continue to grow
Day 5 – 3 made it
3 embryos sent for genetic testing => 2 normal
- IVF #4 – September 17 2018
Please send us egg-cellent thoughts/prayers for a successful ER. We are hoping for at least 1 or 2 normal embryos to give us more opportunities to get a baby in my belly.
Thanks for reading and as always for your thoughts/prayers and support.
Janet & Jack waiting for Chrissy to knock on our door.
My vision of a basket of eggs and channeling Jessie Spano but I’m hyped up on hormones vs. caffeine pills.