Our frozen embryo transfer

Some of you may remember that the fresh embryo transfer after our recent donor egg IVF cycle was a bit of a disaster. Out of 15 fertilized eggs that had been developing well as of day 3, we only had a single 5-day blastocyst, and it was not the best quality (4BC, where the number is the stage of development and the letters are the quality of the components). When I asked the doctor about the potential for the remaining embryos to catch up, he was a massive dick. And to top it off, I hadn’t properly timed my water consumption to fill my bladder, meaning that my uterus wasn’t visible on the ultrasound screen, and the embryo transfer had to be done ‘blind’.

It was not the best ending to our first donor egg IVF attempt, which had been going so well up until that point.

Well lo-and-behold, five more blastocysts ended up making it to freeze on day 6, and I’ve spent the last few weeks growing an exceptionally cushy uterine lining for a frozen embryo transfer (FET) attempt. I say ‘attempt’ because there’s always the possibility that the embryo will fail to defrost. Unfortunately, you don’t know if this is the case until the day of your appointment. Since our appointment was first thing in the morning in Belgium, we made our way there the night before without knowing if there’d even be anything to transfer.

The call

We were still at our Airbnb the next morning when we got the call: the embryo survived defrost! We were thrilled, and we vowed that this transfer would go better than the last. I immediately chugged twice as much water as I had the last time (followed by another 500mL for good measure), and I vowed that under no circumstances would I ask the grumpy doctor any questions. (“I’ll just nod mutely to whatever he says, scout’s honor!”) We also expected the embryo to be better quality (4BB), since we knew we had at least one of those in the freezer.

You can imagine our surprise, then, when we showed up at our appointment to learn the embryo was only a 3CC — i.e., not as developed and poorer quality than our best frozen embryo (Strike 1). I couldn’t fully take in what he was saying and immediately asked a question (Strike 2) about why we were transferring this poor-quality embryo, to which he responded that the defrosted embryo is chosen randomly (Whaaaaaat??)

IMG_3992
The 3CC blastocyst that we transferred on Thursday.

I kept a brave face and we went ahead with the transfer. There was a big screen where we watched a magnified video of them sucking the embryo up into the transfer device thingy (that’s the technical term), and then the technician handed it to the doctor through the window in the wall. My bladder was full enough to see my uterus on the ultrasound screen (though at 17mm, it’s probably hard to miss). After the transfer, we saw a new white mark where the liquid containing the embryo had been successfully deposited.

PUPO, but not hopeful

This all went down last Thursday, which means I am once again Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise (PUPO). But despite what my well-meaning friends/family keep assuming, I am neither excited nor hopeful. The thing is, once you’ve gone through multiple failed transfers, it becomes hard to imagine any other outcome, particularly when the doctor says the embryo ‘isn’t the best quality’. I understand that poor-quality embryos can still result in beautiful babies, but I have also seen the statistics on implantation rates as a function of embryo grade. I’m not being negative — just realistic.*

With that said, I am still extremely grateful to our egg donor, Marie, for giving us the chance to make it this far. I’m also grateful for the four more embryos (‘frosties’) still in the freezer. And I’m happy to report that we had to stop three separate times for me to pee on the 2-hour drive home from our transfer. So, you know, at least I’ve finally got the full-bladder part down for the next try.

xx

*Ok, maybe I’m being a bit negative, but I recently read that IVF is as stressful as divorce or cancer in the family, so it’s bound to happen. (The progesterone shoved up my hoo-ha probably isn’t helping either.)

2 thoughts on “Our frozen embryo transfer

  1. I totally understand the dejected and anxious feelings when a donor cycle doesn’t bring the results you were dreaming of (or that so many women have when they use donor gametes.) When we moved to DE, $35 000 our result was ONE blastocyst. ONE. It was so hard to handle and process this. But, one blastocyst is considered a successful retrieval/cycle prior to transfer, apparently. I was in a panic from that day until the day we received the news until the day it was confirmed it had failed. And all around me were cycle buddies that had incredible donor cycles and outcomes. However, this was a stepping stone in our journey. And I realized I did myself no favors physically and emotionally by panicking and considering myself doomed all that time. (Why did I pay for acupuncture if I was going to do that to myself??) In hindsight, I wish I could have pressed through with more positive self-talk and tried to be a calming force for my own body more.
    I read your story and feel very hopeful for you. First of all, having multiple embies. Second of all, when I think about the only two women I know in real life who used DE. They transferred embryos in order of their grading. They both had perfect embryos not take, and are now parents to two children each who were lower ranked embies, and one of them, was actually the lowest ranked and a morula. So please don’t give up hope.
    I had a transfer of a donor embryo (dual donor, both proven, best case scenario) perfectly-rated embryo and it was a total BFN. The amazing, beautiful child I am now blessed with wasn’t ‘graded’ like this as an embryo, and was actually a day 3 “rescue” transfer, but I grade this child as perfection and an answer to every dream. The world of making and having babies is truly mysterious, complicated, stressful, and a test of all we have within us, for those who struggle, but remember that so many babies defy any predictions and miracles happen all the time, especially for those who wait!!! Wishing you the best of luck!

    Like

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