Tuesday, March 8, 2011

At Last: Embryo Transfer

*DISCLAIMER* So it's come to my attention that it seems I need a disclaimer at the beginning of this post. This post, along with all others that I have clearly labeled and tagged Medical Me, contains medical information. I am undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and since I was unable to find many honest accounts of the process online, I decided to write about my experience to help others who may undergo the same procedure in the future. I've been vocal about the fact that some may not be comfortable or happy with the direction my blog is taking this year and if it is time that we part ways, let's do so amicably. You do not have to read these posts. There will not be a test. *END DISCLAIMER*

The day after my egg retrieval, I got a call from my doctor's office. Of the 33 eggs they had removed, 26 were mature and 23 had fertilized. This meant we had 23 embryos to monitor for use at either the transfer or to freeze and use later.

My embryo transfer was scheduled for 12:30 on a Saturday. Again we had to arrive about forty-five minutes prior to the procedure because I needed to have blood drawn and they needed to prep me for the procedure. Once in the prep room, the nurse told us about the embryos they were going to transfer. She called them, "beautiful" and showed us a picture. For a transfer, the ideal embryo has either 6 or 8 cells and is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest. Our two embryos were both 8 cells and rated a 2. The doctor told us that none of our embryos were ready to be frozen yet and the final decision would be made after they developed for a few more days.

For the transfer, I had to arrive with a full bladder. This was the biggest concern to me. At this point, I was something like 50% Gatorade and I already use the bathroom once an hour so the idea of not being able to go to the bathroom for nearly three hours was a little terrifying!

At my retrieval, the nurse explained that by full, they didn't mean "ready to explode" full so that was reassuring. In the end, I had my regular breakfast of cereal and coffee, went to the bathroom before we left, and that turned out to be fine. I had a prescription for Valium that I decided to take about thirty minutes prior to the procedure. It made me pretty loopy while we were sitting in the waiting room, but I feel like it basically wore off by the time I was in the operating room.

Prior to starting the IVF drugs, my doctor did a "trial transfer" to take some measurements, the logic being that they wanted everything to go smoothly when there were actually embryos in the catheter. An embryo transfer is very similar to the IUI process except they use an abdominal ultrasound to confirm the positioning of the embryos. The sensation feels very much like a pap smear although it lasts a bit longer since the doctor had to properly position the catheter before inserted the embryos.

Afterwards they wheeled me out to the recovery room where Husband was waiting. I had to lie there for another thirty minutes then I was was permitted to use the bathroom (finally!) and go home. I spent the rest of the afternoon on bed rest and Husband picked up some yummy dinner for me.

Following the transfer, most patients wait approximately two weeks before going back for a pregnancy test. Before then, the body isn't producing enough HCG to confirm whether the transfer worked. However, since I don't do anything the easy way, I ended up back at the doctor's office twice during this two week period. Stay tuned on Friday to read all about what happened there!


  1. I am literally on the edge of my seat waiting to come back and read on Friday about what happens! Wishing you and your hubby all the best! :) Thank you again for sharing your story!

  2. seriously! what a cliffhanger! lol :)

  3. Wow...I cant wait to hear!!!! Crossing my fingers for you sweets!

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  4. please stop posting the extreme level of medical details. it's really just too much.

  5. I have to agree about the cliffhanger! I'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed for you and Husband!

  6. wow, kathryn - it's kathleen's blog, she can post whatever she wants and you don't have to read it. i think it's very brave and helpful to share this first-person experience.

  7. Good luck good luck!

    And wow, really Kathryn? I hate when people tell others what to do when they can choose not to read what they don't want to.

  8. For one, I've really enjoyed reading this series of posts on your blog. Kudos for finding a need in the blogosphere regarding IVF and deciding to help fill it. I'm on the edge of my seat for you - there's nothing more heartbreaking than fertility issues. Good luck!

  9. Good luck to you Kathleen! I can't imagine going through all you are dealing with! Don't worry about the haters!

  10. Good luck! I hope to read good news on here!

  11. As someone who is about to undergo the same process in a month for the first time, I find everything that you have written about IVF extremely helpful! Thank you very much! My sincerest wishes for your success.

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  13. Yeah, I mean, Kathryn, there's a disclaimer at the top.. Did you seriously NOT see it? And, as others referred to.. no one's forcing you to read this blog, so... maybe stop reading Kathleen's medical posts? Or the blog all together? Maybe go write your own.
    I for one find this to be a really brave undertaking, and Kathleen, I know I don't know you personally, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for you for writing about this. And, I haven't had to go through this procedure, so I don't have the first clue what it's like or what it entails. But I do know, that if I have to to through this in the future, I will be able to do so with much less fear and anxiety about it.
    I am hopeful that writing about this helps you to process this experience and be able to find some peace or comfort with it. And I can't wait to read more on Friday!!!

  14. I love these posts!! Thanks for being so honest I am on pins and needles waiting to find out if it worked out!! I find it fascinating to learn about your experience and I apologize that there are idiot's who write rude things! I love you and your blog!

  15. I'm with Sarah A to Z: Kathryn stop reading.

    Now that that is off of my chest, I was excited to see another blog update on your journey. One day your little one will be able to read all about how much his/her parents wanted them :)

    I'm pulling for you and husband and can't wait till Friday!

  16. Erin - Well I don't make anything easy so at least you're guaranteed an adventure if you keep on reading!

    Suz - It's an accidental cliffhanger! I didn't realize it would cause so much suspense!

    Collette - Thanks! :)

    Kathryn - I'm sorry you feel that way, but it's what I've decided to write about. If you're uncomfortable reading about these types of things, perhaps you should avoid these posts (and honestly this one isn't even all that bad!)

    Maggie - Thanks!

    Anon - Thanks! I've received a lot more positive feedback than negative so I'm going to keep on posting! It actually helps me deal with all this so it's win-win!

    Robin - Thanks!

    JJ - There's definitely some other stuff out there, but it's all in code! I wish some of those message boards would just post in English! I can't figure out what anything means and if it even applies to me!

    Michelle - Thanks! The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I definitely appreciate that!

    A - I hope I have good news soon too!

    Anon - Thanks for posting! Best of luck to you in the next few months! The apprehension is really the worst thing - I hope I've helped make this less scary!

    Sarah - I actually added the disclaimer after Kathryn posted, but in any event, the message is the same: no one is forced to read my blog! And writing about this has helped so much! It's actually depersonalized it a bit which makes it slightly less emotional (and I'm still sort of a walking emotional time bomb). I'd definitely keep doing it even if not a single person was reading anymore!

    Tricia - Aw thanks! I hope to have good news soon too!

    Bronzi - Ha I always joke that we'll be able to use this against our little one if he ever does anything bad! "Do you have any idea what I had to go through to get you here, and now you refuse to eat your spinach!" I guess you're point is true too though! :) LOL

  17. I do definitely wish you the best of luck, but I also agree the level of medical detail is a bit much. I've been through IVF before and if you want to help others going through it, I think focusing on the emotions would help more.
    Referencing the medical is ok; but the level to which you're doing it would have made me really uncomfortable had I read this while going through it. Hope it all works out.

  18. Interesting. I'm the kind of person who wants to know all the details about what to expect, including an idea of how much pain I'm about to experience or what the potential side effects or complications are like to deal with. And honestly I've reread this post about a thousand times and am still not sure what's "too much" about it. While I do share some of the emotional aspects, everyone is different in that regard and I would never want to suggest that the emotions I was experiencing were "normal" or "abnormal" because everyone is entitled to feel the way they feel about what they're going through. Who am I to suggest how IVF should affect them? To each her own, but again nobody is being forced to read any of this!

  19. Kathleen: regarding your last post, nicely put. I would want to know all the details and at least have a point of reference about whether something was normal or happened to someone else. Just perhaps my enquiring mind. I am always curious about stuff. Moods and emotions are so individual that how could they be of any real help in that they manifest differently in different people?