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  • Writer's pictureTricia

Our Fertility Journey: IVF Part 3, Transfer

A quick reminder to catch up on the first 3 parts of this process here, here, and here.

With the time crunch we were under, we were relying on my period to start as soon as possible. Luckily, it came three days later. We scheduled my baseline appointment for the next morning. With everything coming back normal from that appointment, I was cleared to start estrogen pills, this time accompanied by an antibiotic. I was also taking a prenatal, DHA, fish oil, magnesium, and vitamin D. So. Many. Pills.

We actually received the results from my ERA a couple of days early! Incredible! Some good news! The results came back receptive, meaning that I would not require any changes to my progesterone dosage, and we would continue on with the protocol as written. I had another mid-cycle check plus a Covid test. Everything looked perfect on the ultrasound. My lining was growing well, and my bloodwork came back normal, so things were falling into place. I started my progesterone shots back up 6 days before transfer. My Covid test came back negative the week of transfer, and I had one final bloodwork appointment the day before transfer which also came back normal. I had passed all the hurdles and was finally in the clear! They scheduled me for a 1:30 transfer slot on July 1st, and I was ecstatic. We finally made it!

Let’s note that I had continued to workout leading into transfer, in anticipation of being EXTREMELY limited for the transfer day up until the pregnancy test 10 days later. I continued to lift weights, although I had mostly cut out anything very high intensity or high impact for the time being. I was still getting my heart rate up, exercising for about an hour to an hour and a half, 5-6 days a week. I took it easier the day before transfer, and I was hydrating LIKE crazy. I was also doing all of the old wives tales like drinking pomegranate juice and eating pineapple core and Brazil nuts, and making sure my feet were staying warm. I was also continuing to do my acupuncture once a week. The week of transfer, I went in for acupuncture treatment the day before the procedure, and I scheduled a session immediately following my transfer.

The day before transfer, I was placed on an antihistamine protocol that had me taking once daily Claritin and prednisone as well as twice a day Pepcid, which I would continue until the pregnancy test. Even more pills! Brilliant. Shawn also arrived in town on this day. His plan was to be with me for the transfer through the next two weeks, so he could also be there for the pregnancy test. We had received some (few and far between) good news the week before...I received an email from the fertility center on the Friday before my (Thursday) transfer. They were changing the rules to allow spouses or partners to be in the room during transfers now. It had not been allowed since Covid had started, and we were fully anticipating having to use FaceTime to make Shawn a part of it. He hadn’t been able take part in much of the process since we began IVF, so it was exciting that he would get to be there for this big moment that we had been working and waiting for for so long.

On Thursday, July 1st, it was finally THE day. I started my morning with, well a progesterone shot of course (thanks, Mom!), but then a 30 minute walk and a nice, easy yoga video. I got all of my chores out of the way and prepared things for when I got home so I could relax the rest of the day. I got dressed in comfy clothes, drank a ton of water, and ate a super healthy, low sodium breakfast and lunch. An hour before the procedure, I took a Xanax, which was pretty cool. Favorite pill so far! Never had one of those before. About thirty minutes after taking it, I had this feeling of just total relaxation wash over me. I'm pretty sure I actually said "Woah," at that exact minute. It was a super interesting feeling, as though I had zero cares in the world right then.

They want you to have a full bladder going into the procedure, so they have better visualization on the ultrasound, and so that they have a straight shot through the cervix into the uterus. We accomplished the full bladder and then some. I had to pee so damn bad, y’all. For the first time ever, I was told to empty my bladder for a fourteen count and then stop. And then stop? Are you sure? I was honestly worried that if I started to pee, I wouldn’t be able to stop and then the whole thing would be fucked. But we did it, and I got to where I needed to be. My doctor, Dr. Hasty, came in a few minutes later and walked us through how things would go, and we chatted for a bit until the embryologist came in.

The embryologist came in carting a full on gigantic incubator housing our microscopic embryo. It had a microscope attached with a screen to show what was going on through the lens. It was crazy.

We literally got to see the embryo hatching, meaning it had made it through the unfreezing process and was ready for implantation. I placed my feet in the stirrups for the zillionth time, and Dr. Hasty inserted the speculum, then the catheter in through my cervix and into my uterus (which we watched on the screen from the ultrasound). Then the embryologist handed her our embryo in a tiny tube surrounded by fluid. The embryo was then inserted through the catheter and placed inside the uterus, which we saw as a little flash of bright white exiting the end of the catheter and resting inside the uterus. The catheter was then removed (as the bright white embryo remained), and then it was all done. If you watch the video below, you can see this process unfolding on the screen. It's nutty. Science is amazing. The whole thing took less than five minutes, and was, virtually painless. I was also on Xanax, giving zero fucks, so who really knows. Highly recommend that drug on transfer day. After we were all done, I laid there for a few minutes before they released me to the bathroom since I had to pee so damn bad.

Then we were on our way, hopefully pregnant. We left the clinic and headed straight for Chick-fil-a. The old wives tale actually calls for McDonald’s fries, but, let’s be honest, Chick-fil-a has better fries, and I think the main point is the salt, and the comfort of food. Plus, I haven’t had Chick-fil-a fries in I can’t even tell you how long. They are DELICIOUS.

After that, we drove straight to my acupuncture office, I got my hour treatment, and then I headed home to rest. My mom cooked us a delicious steak dinner with some salad and veggies, we watched some comedies, and I headed to bed early. I was ready to rest, and, hopefully, cook up a baby.

Here is the VERY un-obvious picture of our little embryo after transfer, hanging out in my uterus. The identifier is the arrow from the mouse pointing to the slightly brighter white mark. Also, the black part is my bladder. WHAT THE HELL. Yea, I had to pee like a mother.

I want to mention that for the next several days, Shawn gave me my progesterone injections. He was so nervous about doing them, but he watched my Mom do it for one day, and then he took over LIKE A CHAMP. So shout out to my hubby! The first day, I swear, it took him a hundred years to prepare the injection and then inject me, but he got better. I was laying on the couch waiting for him to finish injecting the med, which ok, the medicine does have a real thick consistency, so it does take a little longer, but I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and the needle was still in my butt. I was thinking, fuck, is he ever going to take that thing out. (No pun intended, get your mind out of the gutter!) Anyways, he took that on so well, and I'm proud of him. It was nice to have him be a part of the process, and I know it meant a lot to him to be able to contribute, in person, to it all, so I'm glad we got to experience that together.

In the 36 hours following transfer, I barely did anything. I was very low activity level. I did not go on walks, run errands, do chores, etc. I chilled, read books, watched movies, and ate good food. Transfer was on Thursday, so on Saturday I allowed myself to do a little more. I got up and around and did more things for myself. Sunday was the Fourth of July, so we went to a friend’s house to hang out, cook out, play games, and set off fireworks. We also spent a couple hours at the aquarium later in the week. For the most part, though, I stayed away from any dedicated exercise, and I tried to keep myself distracted and calm. Weirdly, it was probably the easiest of all the waits for me, which is bizarre, because I didn’t have my usual workouts as a time consumer. Maybe it was because Shawn was there to keep me busy, who knows.

The following Sunday, July 11th, was my scheduled blood draw for my pregnancy test. I got up that morning cool, calm, and ready. I was totally at peace, because I knew I had done absolutely everything in my power to make this work. I knew that if it didn’t work out, I had absolutely no guilt to feel, because I had done everything to a T. I followed all the instructions, I did all the extra things I had read online to do, I had consulted with my friend who had been through this before about how to go about things, my diet was pretty damn close to perfect, I never missed an injection, I had been taking all the drugs and supplements I was supposed to be, I was hydrating like crazy…there was nothing left to do! So I walked in there, got my blood drawn, drove home, and waited for the call.

It was my Mom’s birthday that day, so we were celebrating her, and hoping to celebrate a positive pregnancy test that night. We had dinner reservations at a nice restaurant, we had surprised my mom with donuts and flowers, and we were planning to play games up until we needed to get ready for dinner. I was nervous, hopeful, and a little anxious, but all-in-all I felt good, calm, collected.

Around 12:30 that afternoon, the call came in. The doctor on the other line said “I’m sorry to say,” and my heart dropped into my stomach. The test came back negative. She said some things about next steps but my head felt like it was full of water and I was trying to figure out how to empty it. I got off the phone and sat down on my bed. I didn’t even shed a single tear at that point. I didn’t know how to feel. It was so much time, so much effort, so much sacrifice, and work, and waiting, and we failed. Or it failed. I guess that was part of it. It’s so hard to look at it like I failed, because I don’t feel like I failed. I did everything right, in my opinion. And it still didn’t work out.

I’m such a believer in signs, and I felt like there had been so many of them. I haven’t talked about this with anyone yet (other than Shawn), because we were planning to keep the gender to ourselves as our one piece of intimacy about the whole process. I felt like we needed that, since we had to be pretty open about everything with our family and people closest to us. People were in it with us, so they deserved to know what was going on, but it was nice to have one private thing between the two of us. Anyways, that’s out the window now, so here's some top secret (now declassified) info: our embryo was female. A girl.

When I first started trying to get pregnant, my stance had been I ABSOLUTELY, in no way, want a girl. Girls have the hardest time in today’s culture, and I do NOT want to deal with all of that. Plus, I was a little bitch growing up (sorry, Mom). I didn't want to deal with that. You know...the sneaking out, the lying, the's too much. I thought that if we ended up with a girl, I would be so disappointed. OBVIOUSLY, my perspective has changed. After our first year of trying to get pregnant, I was on board with either gender. All I wanted was to be pregnant and to give birth to a healthy child. But I will say, one of the things that stuck with me is when my friend, Holly, told me that I needed to have a girl, because I could raise her to be a strong female like myself. We need more strong females in this world. That actually is pretty damn cool to think about...a little baby badass.

I’ll be honest, though, I did feel the slightest twinge of disappointment when the nurse had originally told me that our embryo was female. BUT, I also started thinking about all the positive sides to having a girl. The fact that our ONLY embryo was female looked, to me, like an in-your-face sort of sign that this was meant to be our kid. I’m having a girl for a reason. I can raise her to rise above all the bullshit; I can raise her to be strong; I can raise her to be a good person. It started to feel right.

Here's another one: had we not had to postpone the transfer in order to get the ERA done, Shawn wouldn’t have been able to be in the transfer room, because Covid rules would have still been in place: sign number two. Also, our doctor announced that she was retiring in the middle of July. We were one of her last patients during her thirty year career. I felt like we were meant to have her as a doctor and she was meant to get us pregnant. Plus, the pregnancy test was scheduled for my Mom’s birthday. What better birthday gift than to tell her she’s getting another grandbaby? There were so many nuances, so many things that felt like they had happened at exactly the right time.

But then we got the negative test.

These are all the things that were rushing through my head while I was sitting on the bed staring into space.

I’m the type of person that needs to have a purpose at all times. Up until that point, my sole purpose in Atlanta had been to get pregnant. I suddenly felt like the rug had been ripped out from under me, I landed flat on my back, and the wind was completely knocked out of me. Although I was suddenly blown completely off my current track, I knew that I needed to get up, dust myself off, take a deep breath, and come up with a plan of action. I immediately started looking at flights to California to be with Shawn. He was sitting on the bed with me and rubbing my back and trying to comfort me, probably also wondering what the fuck was wrong with me and why I wasn’t crying. “Are you looking at flights?” Of course I was looking at flights, because I needed to get out of here. I couldn’t just stay here and wait for him to get more time off work, because how long would that be? He had just taken two weeks off of work to be with me. It could be a month, maybe two, before he could come back and help us move. “What are you going to do about Tucker?”

Fuck. I didn’t think about that. My dog is my life. He has been my emotional support animal since the start of all of this. He’s the freaking best. Of course I couldn’t do anything without him. Do we drive? This week? It made total sense, because Shawn could take the rest of the week to get us to California and start work on Monday.

Then, it hit me. It was my Mom’s birthday, and I was going to have to A. break the news to her that the test came back negative, and B. Let her know that I was leaving. My heart was totally broken. Talk about ruining someones birthday. I feel like I was almost more upset that I had to tell all the people that were rooting for me that things hadn’t worked out. That was devastating to me. Especially my Mom. She has been so invested in this process, because she was right there next to me, helping me with my shots, asking about my appointments, taking care of me when I wasn’t feeling my best, giving me a freaking home to live in for months while I did all of this. It killed me to have to tell her that it failed, and that I was packing up and moving again. So that was the first time I cried: when I had to muster the strength to give her the shitty news.

I know it probably seems like I’m so used to moving around by now, that this time would be a breeze, but it can be so incredibly hard to uproot your life. And this one was fucking rough. Maybe it's even harder after you feel like you've just endured a trauma. I had settled into a routine with my Mom. We made meals together; her and Tucker had their daily routine; I was training her in the garage regularly; we had our weekly dinner dates; she helped me with my meds; we watched our shows together; life had been good. I hated to have to pack up and leave with essentially zero notice. That’s tough. There was no time to prepare or to begin to get used to the idea. What I do know, is that it was necessary. Shawn and I needed to spend this time together, heal from all of this, and come out on the other side ready to take our next steps. All I can do now is try to express how insanely grateful I am to my Mom for everything she did for me and all the help she was able to provide me with during a pretty fucking difficult period of my life. I feel like I was really able to strengthen my relationship with her over the past few months, and for that, I couldn’t be more appreciative for that time.

Over the next two days, Shawn and I, plus Tucker, packed up my stuff, sold my car, loaded up the truck, and took off across the country...again. I came so close to having him turn the truck around in that first hour. I started having second thoughts of wanting to stay in my comfort zone. I was starting to feel like we needed to start this process again immediately. All of my information, my treatment history, the team that knew me was already at the facility in Atlanta. Thinking about finding another doctor and possibly having another situation like the one in LA felt like a nightmare. Even though my doctor was retiring, there were plenty of other great doctors at ACRM in Atlanta. It would be a much easier transition just to stay there. Plus, my Mom had been such a big help. What if Shawn and I couldn't do it without her. Pulling out of the driveway after hugging my Mom goodbye, I fucking lost it. I think I had tears in my eyes for the next hour. I felt like I had lost so much in 48 hours. I lost a...what? An embryo? Definitely not a child, because I was never pregnant, but I definitely lost the only chance we had from this cycle of getting pregnant. In a lot of ways it felt like loss of hope, excitement, and joy. I was losing a huge network of support, in a way, by not being close to my friends and family anymore. I was losing a stable home; we had no clue where we would be living in California yet. I was losing a doctor that I loved and respected. It was just a lot. I think it finally just bubbled up and over as we pulled out of the driveway that day.

As I've had time to reflect, I know that I'm not at such a loss for all of those things that I was feeling had been taken away from me that day. We lost that embryo, sure, but it's not the last one that I'll ever have. We have absolutely NOT lost all hope, because there is so much hope left that I can produce more healthy eggs, that grow into healthy embryos, that find just the right, sticky, spot in my uterus in the future. We experienced joy and excitement over the next few days in driving across the country, taking time to ourselves, and enjoying each other's company. Even though I'm now far away from my friends and family in Georgia, this blog has shown me that I have a much wider community of support online than I could have imagined, and that everyone I love is just a phone call or a text away. It might take some time, but we will make a home again, and figure out our place within this community, because I've done it before, and I damn sure can do it again.

The actual next step, as far as fertility treatment goes, is a consultation with my doctor in Atlanta to review our case. We did that earlier this morning, and I plan to talk more about that soon. We were looking for answers as to what could have gone wrong, since it seems like, from our perspective, that everything was going so right. I've been researching IVF clinics in the San Francisco area and set up a consultation with RMA San Francisco. Our current thoughts are that we want to try again. Going back to the original recommendations when we found out that we only had one embryo, it was suggested that we bank more embryos with another egg retrieval. That’s what we are planning to do. It should also give us more insight into whether or not it’s my egg quality that has been the cause of our infertility. So we start again. From scratch. On our own.

Apologies for the downer of an ending to this series of posts, but know that it's not the actual ending. I also plan to be more open throughout the process rather than waiting until the end. It's been, albeit oddly, somewhat of a therapy session each day reliving the process and hearing others tell their stories. I also want to be open about failures, because I heard a LOT of success stories going in, but WAY fewer stories of failure. The reality is that there are actually way MORE failed cycles of IVF, and I want to be open about that, and let people know that the road doesn't end there. Don't count us out friends, there's still hope, yet. This has been a fucking wild ride so far, let me tell you. Regardless of the shitty outcomes we've had, I just can’t shake the feeling that we can still do this. So we’ll give it another try, and pray that this will be our time. That it’s finally our turn. That this time, baby Wassy will be ready to make his/her debut. Thanks for reading, and know that there is plenty more to come.

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