What to Expect when Trying to Expect…IVF update from our April Embryo Transfer…

I had been crossing everything before our embryo transfer…fingers, toes, eyes…just about everything except for my legs. These were the last of our frozen embryos. If just one of them stuck we could wave our infertility treatment days goodbye. Only three were remaining, and while the quality wasn’t perfect, they were still little forces to be reckoned with.

I started my progesterone shots (YIKES THOSE ARE BIG NEEDLES), lupron shots, my estrogen patch, my estrogen pills and my routine blood work and ultrasounds. This had just worked several months before. Well…sort of worked. A 5 week pregnancy ending in miscarriage still counts as some sort of progress. It could work again. I had been praying for a miracle. Statistical success rates, odds, likelihood, all inconsequential in the presence of a divine intervention.Happy Family On The Beach. Baby Girl Hugging Her Mother

My typical outlook for infertility treatments has always been cautious optimism. I prepare myself for the worst because it’s so much easier to deal with the disappointment when things don’t work out. Why I decided to change my perspective this last time I’m not sure. For some reason the idea of a changed coping mechanism sounded refreshing. It would work. It was going to work. In spite of the odds it was going to happen. I was going to get pregnant and carry that pregnancy until I had a full-term healthy baby. I was going to have a story of triumph in spite of the odds. This was a simple miracle for God. What reason would he have for denying my request?

The embryo transfer went perfectly. Of the three remaining embryos, two survived the defrosting process. And, of those two, one looked incredibly promising. The catheter slid into place easily and within moments two precious little lifeforms were floating around inside of my uterus. Now came the waiting game. I was hopeful. I was actually incredibly excited. I even felt pregnant. I was tired, moody, hungry and sure that it had worked. I wasn’t cramping, and I wasn’t spotting.

And…I also wasn’t pregnant. Two home pregnancy tests and then a blood draw B-hcg level of less than 1 confirmed that my miracle had not happened. Disappointment has been followed by a firm resolve that there is a reason for everything. I don’t understand it, but instead of letting grief swallow me up (for more than a few weeks), I’m looking forward with hope once again. Since all of our frozen embryos are gone we must start from scratch with a fresh IVF cycle. This journey is far from easy, painless, or inexpensive; but, my desire for another child trumps the obstacles and challenges before me. I refuse to let infertility define me; but I am allowing it to shape me into a stronger woman, full of faith, hope, and love. This may sound trite or contrived, but trust me, this refining process has been neither trite nor contrived.

The struggle with infertility can be all-consuming. It can be and is devastating. I’m not going to sugar coat a horrible diagnosis. However, I can’t let it ruin the beautiful things that I do have in life. Infertility wins if I let it have that hold on me. I refuse to let it win. I am stronger because of it. I am a better mother because of it. I have a deeper respect for other’s pain and suffering because of it. I am learning to let go of the things that are beyond my control because of it. I am trying to make beauty from ashes. Some days I succeed…and for now that’s all I can EXPECT while I’m waiting to EXPECT!

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Our Fresh Embryo Transfer (1.13)…baby making made easy????

I was so excited. I was expecting great news from our first-ever egg retrieval. Instead, I was told that only three of the eggs had fertilized, and of those three only two had survived. I had been counting on dozens of left over embryos to freeze for the future. Instead, we only had two. Although I was discouraged, I was also encouraged. Two embryos were all that we needed. I would take them!Two baby boys playing on bed

Several days later we headed to the hospital for our fresh embryo transfer. This is when embryos are placed through a tiny capillary catheter into the uterus. My personal infertility specialist was the one scheduled to perform the transfer rather than any of her partners, which gave me an immense sense of relief. Now that I was an “interesting” patient, with soaring estrodial levels and swollen ovaries…everyone knew me. I had broken records. I was off the chart! No longer one of many, I was distinct. It is strange how something bad like ovarian hyperstimulation can actually work in your favor. Being known made the process easier and meant that I received more time and dedicated attention from all of the doctors. In spite of this, I was still relieved that it would be my own doctor doing the transfer. She knew me the best, and I trusted her the most.

The transfer wasn’t supposed to be painful. It was a quick in and out. They actually said that I didn’t even have to stay laying on my back at all. I could get right up and head to work if I wanted to. I didn’t want to. Were they crazy?  I wanted to go home and put my feet over my head. I wanted those embryos to stick and stay!

We arrived to the procedure room early in the morning. My husband, Dave, was thankfully able to get the time off of work. We were making a baby…yes, the unromantic way, but we were still making a baby. As the nurse brought us back, she told me to undress from the waist down-yet again, and she handed Dave his baby-blue paper jump suit and surgical cap. As I was starting to strip down and Dave was starting to layer up, the nurse announced the sad news that we now only had one remaining embryo. The second one had not survived. I was heart-broken.Baby Fetus Newborn Over Isolated White Background. New Born Chil

One embryo decreased our chances of success by at least 50%, maybe even more. As it was, the chances of success had only been about 50%; now they were down into the 30’s. I gave myself a mental pep talk, but all the time I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach. As my doctor prepared for the transfer, the nurse pressed the transabdominal ultrasound uncomfortably over my overly full bladder and hyperstimulated and swollen ovaries. I was fairly certain that I was going to start peeing right in my doctor’s face! I felt like I needed to warn her just in case I was about to embarrass myself and soak her. She reassured me that I wasn’t going to urinate. I remained skeptical and started cursing the darn ultrasound. It felt worse than the transvaginal. How was that even possible?

It took a little while longer than expected to get the catheter in place, but once in, the embryo was shot into my uterus. I was with child. A baby was inside of me. Now it was time to wait and see if it would attach and grow. There was nothing more that I could do other than wait.Questions, questions, questions... the Concept photo

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting is such a hard process. I prayed more than I ever have. I pleaded with God to let this work. I prayed that the baby would be healthy. I made promises to God that I probably couldn’t even possibly keep, but I wanted him to know that I meant business. I knew that he could make this happen. He could control the situation. Why he had put me in this situation in the first place I didn’t understand, but I knew that he could rectify it. I figured that I had already learned so much. I had grown so much. I realized my human fragility and my need for divine intervention. I waited, and I waited, and then…..I started spotting. And then, I started hemorrhaging with a full-out worst period of my life. My one little embryo had not survived. My womb was empty once again.Woman having a stomachache sitting on sofa at her home

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