So, the next step of the process begins. You are waiting to hear how many of the eggs fertilized with the sperm. From there, you get a call every other day to hear how many embryos are progressing. They have to reach a certain stage of cells before they can be considered compatible with life, or an embryo that you can fresh transfer or freeze. It takes a week, a full seven days, to get to the end of that phase. In the end, we had one single embryo that made it to the end. From 11 down to 1. I was of course so happy and grateful for that one but also devastated at the same time because I wanted more. I always saw myself with 3 or 4 children and there’s no guarantee that the embryo will take once implanted. In my head, I knew I was going to do IVF again, which wasn’t ideal but I was willing to undergo the emotional, mental and physical pain again to give my one embryo a sibling or two. We also got our embryos genetically tested (they can also find out the sex of the embryo although I didn’t find out the sex of this one) and it came back totally healthy/normal/compatible with life. This means that when I implanted it, if it took, I would hopefully not have a miscarriage because there wasn’t anything wrong with the embryo.
It was about a month later when I started doing IVF again. My doctor recommended that if I wanted several children, I should do IVF then while I was the youngest I was ever going to be and my eggs were the highest quality they would ever be. Made sense to me. Then I could just implant them as I was ready. So, I did it for the third time, same drugs, same old schedule with the blood work/ultrasounds/etc. A real hoot. I ended up with 11 eggs again after the egg retrieval surgery. I was sure we’d hopefully get at least two from this round and I would be good to start implanting. I won’t bore you with the details of that week, but I think out of the 11 about 9 fertilized and by the end of the week, there was yet again 1 that made it. A single one, again. After the genetic testing, it came back normal and I asked if it was the same sex as the first one and it was. I knew once again that I would do IVF one more time in order to have a good chance of having at least two children. IVF implantations work about 50% of the time. Luckily for me, my fertility clinic Austin Fertility Center has a 60% success rate with it and my doctor is amazing!
You have to give your body a little rest because the fertility drugs can cause cysts to grow on your ovaries and that happened to me. I was on the highest dose you could be on, which by the way totally sucks. You are SO emotional, gaining weight, feeling foggy headed, etc. They also kind of make you feel like you’re pregnant even though you’re not which is a real drag. Eventually, the cysts went away and I was back at it. This was round 4 of IVF for me. I got 9 eggs out of the egg retrieval. A week later there were 2 that made it to the final stage and were able to be sent off to testing. I was SO excited because I had only ever had 1 that made it that far. One came back normal/compatible with life and the other one was indeterminate which meant they didn’t have enough cell matter to get a good read and it would need to be tested again which I didn’t want to do just yet. We did find out that the normal one that came back was the opposite sex of my first two. At that point, I knew I either had 2 girls and 1 boy or 2 boys and 1 girl because I knew I had 2 of one sex and 1 of the other and then the indeterminate one. Either way, I had a total of 3 healthy embryos, possibly 4, and I was more than ready to start implanting.
So, I went in for an appointment to check out my uterus and what do you know, I had a damn septum in my uterus! This is NOT good news. My doctor explained it as my uterus being heart shaped rather than an upside down triangle which is bad for embryos to attach to. Embryos usually attach at the top, so if mine tried to, they wouldn’t be able to. I learned that most women who have a septum in their uterus (which you wouldn’t know unless you did a detailed scan of your uterus with a doctor) will never get pregnant. It was something like 86% of women who have a septum can’t get pregnant or when they do, the pregnancy will most likely result in a miscarriage. Freaking crazy, right?! I was like, ummm so could all of the IVF have been prevented if we just would’ve checked my uterus first? I still had the egg issue though and thankfully my doctor found the septum or else most likely when we implanted the first embryo, I would’ve had a miscarriage because of the shape of my uterus. This was yet ANOTHER setback and for me, one more thing that was wrong with me. I had to undergo a three hour surgery to fix this issue before I could implant an embryo. It wasn’t worth risking implanting one and having a miscarriage after ALL of the hell I went through to get those 4 precious embryos. Also, after a woman with a septum in her uterus gets it fixed, about 85% of them can go on to have normal and healthy pregnancies so the surgery was a no brainer for me.
I’m a little crazy and knew I had about a month and a half or so before the surgery so I decided to do IVF one more time. I know, I know, what the hell was I thinking? But it is such a numbers game and in my own crazy mind I was thinking, okay right now I have 4 and if 50-60% of those take, then I will hopefully have 2-3 kids and I just always pictured myself having 3 or 4. I also knew I was very unlucky when it came to this facet of my life and was scared I’d have way less of a chance because it just seemed like everything always went wrong or was so brutally difficult. So I did IVF one more time. I went on yet another yoga retreat while I was on the drugs, this time to Aspen with the same few girls I always went with. I felt more zen about this cycle because I already had 4 embryos so if this cycle only gave me 1 or even none, I’d still be okay and would know I gave it my all.
This final time 7 eggs were retrieved but all looked like a pretty good size. After the rollercoaster week of finding out how many fertilized and how they were progressing, we ended up with two again! We took a trip to Italy for a best friend’s wedding and while we were there, we got the news that one came back normal/compatible with life and the other one had a triple X chromosome (so we knew that one was a girl) because she had XXX and the normal one was the same sex as the last cycle one. At this point, we knew we had two male embryos, three female embryos (one with an extra X chromosome which 1 in 1,000 women have and it usually just makes the woman taller or some other minor thing; most women who have it don’t know that they do) and we also had the indeterminate one which could have been totally fine, we just didn’t know yet.
When I had my uterus surgery, I had some endometriosis as well so the doctor went in through my vagina and my belly button and fixed my uterus and endometriosis that I guess was on my ovaries. Finally, we were ready to start the implantation process. You have to take hormones once again just to get your body ready to be implanted. I’m sure it was a mix of estrogen and progesterone but I honestly can’t remember that well. On August 20th, 2018 I implanted the first embryo from the second IVF cycle which was the first cycle that I had success with. From here, you wait for about a week and go get a blood test to see if you test positive. If so, then it worked!