In-vitro was a whole different ball game from the IUI’s. We had no clue what we were getting into. It took us a few months to prepare for our IVF round. We were given a calendar, that was unlike any calendar I’d ever seen before. Who needs a calendar to keep track of medications to take? Well I memorized that calendar and had several copies I carried with me to make sure we didn’t make any mistakes. Each day that month consisted of several huge shots and so many pills, and not to mention feeling like a crazy person. My sweet husband felt like I was a pin cushion and I couldn’t have made it though that crazy experience without him.
The first major part of the IVF round is the egg retrieval. They sedate you because it’s pretty painful and I was so nervous going into the procedure but I was also so ready to have the eggs out of me. I felt like I was so huge and the doctors suspected we would get over 20 viable eggs. I was so sore and just uncomfortable from my ovaries being over stimulated and full of eggs. After the retrieval was done the doctors let us know that we had 20 viable eggs. The embryologist would call us every few days and let us know how the embryos were developing and what day would be best for the transfer.
The embryologist called us after the first couple of days to let us know that we had 10 embryos that had fertilized and were continuing to grow and develop. At that time he let us know that everything was looking great and that there was 1 specific embryo that was textbook perfect. This was very encouraging news, especially that we had so many embryos growing, when I had had friends who never even got any viable embryos from this whole experience. The embryologist called us again right before the transfer to tell us that 4 embryos had made it past the blastocyst stage of development. He again mentioned his amazement for the 1 embryo. He just kept saying “you have this one PERFECT embryo.” They let us know that they would freeze 2 of the embryos separately for future use, they would prepare the 2 strongest embryos for our transfer.
The next step of IVF is the embryo transfer. I assumed this step would be very similar to the IUI’s, but I was very wrong. This ended up being the neatest, most worth while part of all of our fertility treatment experience. I didn’t realize it was more of a surgical procedure than just an insemination. They offered to sedate me again because it can be very painful, but they recommend being awake to watch. I opted to be awake, but they did give me some medication to make me a little loopy briefly because of how much pain I was in. We talked with the doctor doing the transfer for a while before the transfer about how many embryos we were going to use. The doctors recommended only transferring 1 at a time. I felt very VERY strongly that we needed to transfer both. The doctors gave us several minutes alone to make a final decision. Tommy and I talked about the pros and cons of both scenarios. Whether the challenges of twins would be harder, or if the chance of having this fail completely would be worse. We prayed about it, and ultimately Tommy left the decision in my hands. We transferred 2 embryos.
As they began the transfer, one of the several doctors in the room explained what was going to happen. All of a sudden the procedure room began transforming and things began moving very fast. The doctor explained how one of the physicians would be at my stomach doing an ultrasound, watching and making sure the embryos are placed correctly, and that we would be able to watch this step on the TV screen right above us. Then the doctor doing the actual transferring of the embryo would be between my legs. Then the embryologist would be bringing the embryos directly from the lab which connected to the procedure room. The embryos would be placed on a microscope, which we were able to see on another TV screen in front of us. They explained as all of this was happening and it was the absolute coolest thing I’ve ever seen. They signaled to embryologist that they were ready. In their full medical gear they brought the embryos in and placed them on the microscope. We could see both of them clear as day. Our potential children were right there on a screen in front of us. Then the doctor explained as he sucked both of the embryos into a tube to be transferred into my uterus. They used excess semen to push the embryos into the proper place for implantation. They told us to watch over to the ultrasound screen that we would see the fluid travel into my uterus. It was incredible to observe. From there they finished the final steps and completed the transfer. The doctors congratulated us on being currently pregnant with twins. It was the neatest experience. It was so emotional and just such a blessing to be so involved in this creation process. They left me and Tommy in the procedure room for about 45 minutes for recovery with the screens still up frozen on the ultrasound picture of our twins. After the transfer they recommend strict bed rest to help the embryos implant. These are considered “Princess Days” and it was actually really needed to just try to recover from the ordeal I had just put my body through. It was also strange to think that I may be pregnant. I had thought about this after the IUI’s, but this time it was such a different process. It seemed more real.
Two weeks after the transfer I was scheduled to go in for a blood test to find out if we were pregnant. The levels wouldn’t exactly tell us if both embryos had implanted, but it could tell us if we had higher than average levels then it could suggest twins. If the levels were within normal levels, we were definitely pregnant, but we wouldn’t know for an additional 2 more weeks until we would be able to count the heart beats in an ultrasound. They also tell you if you have anything abnormal or bleeding to call before the 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks I had no pregnancy symptoms at all. I felt completely normal. Even when I had the IUI’s I had so many symptoms (tender breasts, nausea, crazy dreams) but during these 2 weeks I had nothing. The day before my blood work appointment I had sever cramping and bleeding. I knew I had started by period. I was having period cramps and period bleeding. I was devastated. I called my doctor’s office to let them know that I didn’t need to come in for blood work the next day, that I had started my period, the procedure had failed. I relayed all of this to one of the nurses and she kindly said she was so sorry and she would let the doctors know and then would call me back. To my surprise a few hours later one of the doctors actually called me. She told me they still wanted me to come in for blood work the next day. She said it would let them know if the levels were even slightly elevated it would give them an idea if the embryos had maybe attached and then just miscarried to possibly give them an idea of things to change for the next round. So I reluctantly went in the next day for blood work, telling the excited phlebotomist that I had started my period and already knew I wasn’t pregnant. His mood completely changed and was pretty somber with me. He let me know it would take at least an hour to get results back and they would call me as soon as they were in. From there I went back to work and tried to do everything to keep my mind off of the phone call that was coming, but at the same time constantly watching my phone to make sure not to miss the important call.
The phone rang and my stomach and my heart did a flip. The doctor on the phone verified it was me and told me to make sure I was sitting down. She said that my results came back that I was indeed pregnant. My levels were well within normal pregnancy limits. She was aware of my bleeding and cramping, and still wanted me to come back in 2 days for repeat blood work to make sure I was still pregnant. I was so happy! And then suddenly so nervous that maybe I wasn’t still pregnant because I was bleeding and not having any pregnancy symptoms. So I called Tommy to relay the good news, and he was so excited, but we decided to hold off on telling family anything until after our repeat blood work and even the ultrasound 2 weeks after that if we were able to verify pregnancy. However this was hard because all of our close friends and family knew the exact layout of our IVF calendar and what days exactly we would know if the procedure had worked.
The repeat blood work came back with even higher elevated levels. We were definitely pregnant and they scheduled us for our viability ultrasound in 2 more weeks to hear the heartbeat(s). On that phone call the doctor congratulated us on being 4 weeks pregnant. It was just unreal.
At 6 weeks pregnant we went in for the viability ultrasound to see the fetus and hear the heartbeat, At this point we learned that it was indeed only 1 baby. And we knew it was our PERFECT embryothat had made it through. Tommy and I cried together and felt so thankful that we opted to transfer 2 embryos. We were so happy and excited to share our long-awaited unbelievable news.