Frozen Embryo Transfer #2: The Details

Our second frozen embryo transfer went off without a hitch last week. I tolerated the medicines a lot better this time around, probably because my body was used to them from doing back-to-back cycles. I have been feeling a little down and having a hard time staying optimistic. I had a lot of confidence going into the first transfer and was caught off guard when the cycle didn’t work. This time feels a little bit more like going through the motions and trying not to let my heart get too attached.

We didn’t change the protocol from our first frozen transfer, and once again, the embryo thawed well and my lining was great at 9.44 five days before. Our RE gave us the choice if we wanted to transfer one or two embryos, but let us know that his recommendation was still to do a single embryo transfer. We decided to try just one again. For those keeping track, we’ll have two frozens left after this cycle.

I know many couples decide to transfer more than one embryo and I totally understand why. When you finally get so close to your dream of having children, you want to give yourself the best chance. It is also tempting for financial reasons. We thought it through but it just wasn’t the right choice for us. My clinic reports almost identical pregnancy rates from single and multiple transfers, so I couldn’t use that as justification. I’m very concerned about the risks of carrying twins, especially since I had my daughter early at 36 weeks. My RE said my early labor could have been totally random, but could also be a sign that my body doesn’t carry pregnancies to term. I’m also concerned about the risk of twins on my sanity. LOL! If this round doesn’t work, we’ll have to decide if we try both remaining embryos next time, or continue trying one by one. We have fingers and toes crossed that this time works and we’ll have two left to try for a third child down the road.

Today is 3dp6dt and I’ve been tracking my symptoms, which I’ll share either way in a follow up post. I’m a crazy POASer, so I’ll be starting that tomorrow, since 4dp6dt was when I got my first very faint positive with my daughter. Hanging in there (barely) is how I would describe the current scenario over here.

 

 

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The In Between

Today out of nowhere I focused in on your legs in your high chair. I mean really looked at them. They looked so long it was comical! Your feet are resting on the little foot rest on the bottom rung. Almost too big for this chair. Almost ready to move on to something new. Ladies and gentleman, we’ve entered the in between.

One part baby and one part little girl. You still have moments when you cry uncontrollably and can’t communicate what’s wrong. You just need to be held by mommy until the world stops moving so fast. But you surprise me every day with how much you know and understand. You want a baby sister and chocolate ice cream for breakfast. You run away from me as fast as you can, but turn around every few seconds to smile and make sure I’m still there.

This phase of life is so sweet but also hard on my heart. It’s the first time that I can feel you pulling away, even if it is just baby steps. I love watching you grow strong and discover the world around you. You’re becoming “you” and figuring out – sometimes frustratingly – how you fit into this great big place.

One part of being a parent that I never really pondered before I had you was the letting go part. And it turns out it might be the hardest part. For years, I had my fingers grasped so tightly around the idea of you. I wanted and needed you here with me. And once you arrived you needed me too. For two years we’ve been side by side in the trenches. But day by day you need me a little bit less. “I do it self” is a regular phrase.

You’ll start preschool this fall, and just the thought of being separated from you brings tears to my eyes. But I’m facing the letting go part head on. As much as you need me to hold you, you also need me to know when to let go. I will always be here to give you all my love, but there are some things that I can’t give to you. The gift of making new friends. The gift of new experiences and perspectives. I have to step to the side, if just a tiny bit, to let you find those things for yourself. And it is going to be damn hard on me.

For now we’ll live in the in between and savor the baby and big girl moments alike.

Failed FET

No news isn’t always good news. I’ve been avoiding blogging for a few weeks since we found out on June 13 that our first FET wasn’t successful. I’m an early tester, so I knew after a few days that it most likely failed. Waiting the full two weeks for beta HCG test was pretty rough. The PIO and estrogen shots are not fun, but become much less tolerable when you’re almost certain you aren’t pregnant.

I was feeling very confident about this cycle, maybe because I felt so removed from the struggles we faced years ago trying on our own and then having 5 failed IUI cycles. My last cycle was a success, so it seemed like IVF was the ticket for us and that surely this would work. It’s now funny (the saddest kind of funny) that I was so worried about having too many frozen embryos and stressing about what to do with them. Now I’m just hoping that one of the remaining three will result in another child.

The upside to the disappointment was that we confirmed our failed cycle on the same day as my daughter’s second birthday party. We were surrounded by family and so much love, which made the pain more bearable. Celebrating our happy and healthy little girl was the best medicine.

Since we have three more frozen embryos, we’re went right into the next cycle. On the day that I received the negative HCG test, I was instructed to stop my progesterone and estrogen shots. Five days later my period started and I was instructed to begin birth control. I had my baseline ultrasound and blood work two days ago and began the estrogen shots again. Full speed ahead!

The plan is to do another single transfer this time and if it works, we’ll have two more frozen embryos to try for a third child down the road. If this transfer doesn’t work, our RE said we may want to consider transferring both of the remaining embryos.

Anyone have any advice or experience with multiple single transfers not working but having success with two? I’m starting to wade through the research to see if transferring two embryos really improves the chance of pregnancy, or simply increases the chance of multiples. I’m terrified of the added risks that come with twin pregnancies and will only be convinced to transfer two if I feel it is our best shot at having another child/children.

By writing this a month after we got the news that our cycle failed, I’m riding a new wave of optimism for our next cycle, but it has been a difficult time mourning the loss of one of our embryos and all the promise that it held for our family.

The Dreaded Two Week Wait

Our FET went off without a hitch last Wednesday. My lining was 10mm and our day 6 blast was graded BB and looked good after thaw. The nurse mentioned that our transfer was the best one all day (whatever that means!).

I wish I was someone who could just wait it out for the beta, but I just can’t roll that way. I’m a tester and have been armed with my Wondfo cheapies since before we started this cycle. I started testing on 3dp5dt (I know, I know, I’m crazy because that is way too early) but on my successful fresh cycle, I got my first faint positive the evening of 4dp5dt. Today is 7dp5dt and stark white tests. So even if this little one is a later implanter, I’m not feeling very hopeful at this point.

I’m honestly trying to keep my head above water and not let this get the best of me. Seeing all those negatives tests just took me right back to the years of trying for our daughter and cycle after cycle of disappointment. It is very difficult to invest so much hope, time and money into a cycle and see your chances disappear before your eyes each day.

As much as I’m wallowing, I know I have a lot to be thankful for because we have three more frozen embryos if this cycle is a failure. And more importantly, we have a beautiful ALMOST two-year-old little girl who is our whole world. As much as I want to give her a sibling, she is more than enough if she is the only child we can have. For today, I’m allowing myself to grieve for little embryo #4 and what could have been. Then I’ll suck it up and head to my beta next Tuesday and keep a little tiny piece of hope buried in my heart.

The Countdown Is On

I can’t believe it is May! Time is flying and we’ve been busy the past few months with getting our new home settled and lots of visits from family. Preparing for this FET cycle feels very different than last time around with our IVF. We had tried for so long and were so very desperate for it to work. It felt like time was moving so slow and we would never get to the other side. This time around, life feels much fuller. I know we want to grow our family, but I don’t feel the same desperate ache and the fear of failure isn’t quite as strong.

Some days it even feels like time is moving too quickly. I wonder if we’re ready for the big change that another baby would bring. Before you have a child, no matter what people tell you, you cannot fathom the changes it brings to your life. I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry about how hard it will be, especially in the beginning. The lack of sleep and caring for a newborn and toddler.

Big bigger than the temporary changes of missed sleep and hectic days, the second time around you know exactly how precious your children are because you know them. The pain of a failed attempt to give my daughter a sibling would be magnified because I know her and how truly marvelous and wonderful she is. I have four embryos, created just like her, waiting for a chance. Essentially, I’ll know what I’m missing. The heartbreak will be tangible.

As we prepare for this transfer and the days fly by, I wonder if we’re prepared to face heartbreak again if things don’t work out. Before, I wanted to fast forward my life to get to the good part, but now I find myself wanting to hit pause. Sometimes I feel so lucky to be where I am that I worry I’m asking for too much. In clear moments, I can understand that is a byproduct of infertility. It makes you feel unworthy. It beats you down.

On a much more clinical note, my birth control that I’m taking in preparation for the transfer is giving me all the feels. All the tears. And all the cramps. And all the spotting. And some insomnia as the cherry on top. Hello infertility treatment side effects, can’t say I’ve missed you! A few more days and then the real fun starts with the big fat needles.

A Letter to my Frozen Embryos

Dear embryos,

I can’t believe I’m writing a letter to you. After all, you’re just blastocysts in a freezer. One little AB and three BBs. But to me, you’re so much more than that. You’re our chance to complete our family. Our chance to give our daughter the amazing gift of a sibling. Our hope.

Maybe you think I’ve forgotten about you. After all, it’s been more than two years since you were frozen and safely tucked away. Maybe you think I got my miracle baby and I’ve moved on to leave you forever frozen in time. You think I didn’t choose you.

But the truth is that you’re a part of me and I think of you all the time. In the daily whirlwind of raising a toddler, you cross my mind often. She is so precious to me, so you must be precious too. But I don’t yet know you. Are you a little boy with dark curly hair like me? Or are you a miniature version of your sister who favors her daddy? Can you possibly bring us as much joy as your sister has?

And what if you aren’t healthy? Or you grow up to resent the way you were brought into the world? Or will you break my heart if you aren’t strong enough to survive? What secrets do you hold, waiting to share with the world?

My life is ordinary in many ways. But in addition to the ordinary, I have you, question marks suspended in time. Who would have thought that our hopes and dreams for our family would be sitting in a freezer in Rockville, MD? This is real life, even if it seems like a sci-fi novel. I spend my days changing diapers, listening to the Frozen soundtrack for the 100th time, and occasionally sending positive vibes to you, wondering if we’ll meet in this life or the next.

Frozen Embryo Transfer #1: The Details

Here’s where we’re at. We have four frozen embryos from our IVF in 2014. After six failed IUIs, we were successful with our first cycle of IVF and our daughter was born in June 2015. We’ve tried naturally since she was six months old because our infertility in unexplained. No success and now we’re ready to jump back in and try with our frozen embryos.

Frozen Embryo Transfer #1 Protocol

We met with the same reproductive endocrinologist that we worked with for our IVF cycle. We had a positive experience at our clinic and like the continuity of seeing the same physician and are even working with the same nurse. We started the process with an appointment in February where we discussed the process of a frozen embryo transfer and went over any questions with our RE. Some things of note:

  • We are all in agreement that we should do another single embryo transfer. I had my daughter a month early and preterm labor would be a much bigger concern when carrying twins. RE said if we do two tries without success, we may want to consider two on the third try.
  • RE thinks chances are really high that we’ll get pregnant with one of our four embryos
  • All my blood work was good, with the exception of my FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), which was borderline high at 11.5. I had a similar result back in 2014. My nurse explained that this could make another round of IVF harder/less successful, but hopefully we won’t need to go down that road again.

Next in the process was a mock embryo transfer to make sure the path was clear for the real deal. Very exciting to know that all my parts are intact after my first pregnancy and labor. I started birth control pills yesterday, April 23. I will take them for about three weeks, after which I will have a baseline ultrasound and then begin estrogen and progesterone injections to thicken my endometrial lining and prepare the best possible home for our embryo. Two weeks later I’ll have a lining check and then the frozen embryo transfer a few days later on May 31.

While this might sound daunting, it feels like a walk in the park compared to all the medicine, monitoring, and stress that went into our IVF cycle. One super cool part of FET (silver lining, people!) is that you can pick the actual date and then work backwards to prepare. So essentially you are picking your due date and can plan around vacations, holidays, work schedules, etc.

In the next few weeks I’ll be doing all the things I won’t be able to do if our FET is successful. Think booze, hot baths, and sushi! And of course mentally prepping to get stabbed in the butt with needles every day. I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty optimistic about our chances this time. I’m an optimist by nature, but the crazy long and difficult process of getting pregnant the first time really had me questioning my outlook. Hoping to not get knocked down this time around!