IVF Update!

03/06/2013

So, this post is about a week behind schedule. But thankfully, our IVF process has gone right according to plan. Here’s a summary of what’s happened since the egg retrieval procedure on February 21st, 2013 (Day 0).

Day 0:

Amanda spent much of the afternoon resting comfortably after returning home from the egg retrieval. She was a bit groggy from the drugs they gave her still, but thankfully her body reacts well to them, so there have been no side effects we’ve had to deal with.

Beginning tonight, we start the Progesterone injections. These are the gigantic needles Amanda has been the most worried about. These injections are to start filling her body with the hormone that is naturally produced during the early stages of pregnancy.

Day 1:

Amanda was instructed to be on bedrest for the day of the procedure and the day following. Since today is a Friday, she gets a 4-day weekend! Also, since we’re stuck in the middle of winter in central Illinois, it just so happens a major winter storm dumped 5 inches of snow yesterday afternoon and overnight. Her school ended up taking a snow day today, so it’s like a free day off. Now she won’t have to use one those precious personal days!

As part of our debriefing after the egg retrieval yesterday, we were told the embryologist would call us with updates on how the tiny embryos were doing on a daily basis. So, we waited with nervous anticipation for the phone to ring all day.

Around mid-afternoon, the embryologist informed us that out of the 21 eggs they retrieved, 16 of them were mature, 3 were intermediate, and 2 were immature. He sounded very optimistic at the quality of the eggs (also called oocytes). He also said all 16 mature oocytes have successfully fertilized!

Since hearing that news, Amanda and I both have had a hard time processing that information.

For a long time (at least since we’ve been married, if not before) we’ve talked about how amazing it will be to see what happens when our DNA combines together and forms new life someday. New life that would literally be a manifestation of our two lives woven together by the hand of God. For a long time it seemed like that opportunity was slipping further and further away from our grips and our control, and we began to wonder if we ever would get to see that outcome.

So, when the doctor told us we had successful fertilization, we were both so relieved! Even though this is only the very beginnings of life, those little clumps of two cells mean so much to us already! We have sixteen little bits of life that are parts of us combined together.

Sixteen!

We’re instantly attached to them, as if we already had sixteen little infants in our arms.

So.

Awesome.

Day 2:

Even at less than 48 hours old, those sixteen little groups of cells have already taken a strong hold on our hearts. By now they are about about 8 cells each. This morning we went to Starbucks and named each one. In fact, here’s the list:

  1. Bacon
  2. Buzz
  3. Pike
  4. Holga
  5. Belky
  6. Quark
  7. Cuneo
  8. Doppler
  9. Kodak
  10. Tetrazzini
  11. Muncie
  12. Higgs
  13. Boson
  14. Cheddar
  15. Bozeman
  16. Woof

Yeah, we’re hopeless. Each of the names on this list reflects something about me, Amanda, or both of us together. See how many you can identify the meaning of, if any! Some are quite obscure.

We also determined by random numbers that Buzz and Bozeman will be the first two brave little embryos that could be placed in her. Hopefully this time we’ll only need Buzz, so Bozeman and his buddies will be frozen for storage. But they told us they could either implant one or two depending on how things look. So, Bozeman is on standby.

Thankfully, the doctor told us no matter what he’ll only ever implant a maximum of two embryos. So, no. Amanda won’t be the next ocotomom.

The embryologist was very optimistic today, which gave us hope that maybe after all we’ve been through we are finally reaching the light at the end of this long tunnel.

Day 3:

We heard from the embryologist as usual, but this time Amanda had to duck out of our 11:30 church service to answer! In fact, we sat in the top corner of the balcony for that reason today. Normally we don’t hide in the back row!

Anyway, he informed us that some of the embryos were developing better than others. He informed us that 2 of them only divided to 3 cells, 2 had made it to 4 cells, 1 had 5 cells, 4 divided to 6 cells, and the other 7 were at 8 cells each.

Got that? Good.

He didn’t seem too concerned at this point, he said this was quite normal for this stage in the development process. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

IVF Day 4:

The embryologist called us again as he had been doing so for the past few days, but today he wasn’t giving any details on the specific numbers for each embryo. He did say everything was fine, and he’d see us back the tomorrow morning for the implantation.

IVF Day 5:

This afternoon, we arrived at the Fertility and IVF Center like we have many, many times prior. However, I had a strong sense of confidence and peace about the whole thing today, and couldn’t wait to get things started!

The implantation procedure was a relatively minor undertaking, but it still required a sterile environment. So, I got to throw on some XXL scrubs, and sail my way down the hallway to the procedure room, footies and all.

Footies!

Footies!

On the way in, we talked with our doctor. He informed us that they would be implanting two embryos, and sadly most of the remaining 14 had stopped developing overnight. He reassured us that the two they were going to place in Amanda were still showing signs of growth, and we still had a high probability of one of them successfully implanting in her. Unfortunately, the other 14 embryos wouldn’t be eligible for cryopreservation, so everything was riding on Buzz and Bozeman.

He did tell us that this could possibly explain why we’ve had trouble with fertility to this point. There could be something genetically complicating the process, but we’re not going to dwell on that info right now.

Before they started the procedure, we got a glimpse of the two embryos on a monitor in the room. Two little clusters of cells, both still so microscopic in size they’re smaller than Roosevelt’s eye on a dime (about 0.1 to 0.2 mm), were breathtakingly beautiful.

They informed us that one embryo is technically an early blastocyst, and the other one is a compacting morula (basically, it’s a few hours behind in development). A few minutes went by and then it was time to place them in the tiny catheter and insert the two brave little embryos into the “oven”.

The entire thing was done in 15 mintes, and it went flawlessly. We then got to watch an episode of Psych (S03E08, “Gus Walks Into a Bank”), followed by an episode of LOST (S05E13, “Some Like It Hoth”) since Amanda had to remain horizontal for almost 90 minutes after the procedure. For those of you that don’t know us well, Psych and LOST are two of our all time favorite TV shows! So good.

Amanda is on “princess status” for the rest of the day and all day tomorrow to give us the best possible chances at a successful transfer and implantation.

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

IVF Day 13:

Today marks 13 days since the egg retrieval and fertilization day. We’ve been continuing the progesterone injections nightly, and I’m happy to report these enormous syringes aren’t any more painful to Amanda than the tiny Lupron injections she got in her stomach for 2 weeks were. If anything, they’re less painful she says. Icing the injection area for a few minutes prior probably helps with that too.

So, we are patiently praying and waiting for good news. We’ll soon find out though a pregnancy test if the results of our efforts over the past 6 weeks were successful or not.

We’re so thankful for the many visitors to this blog, and feel very supported and loved throughout this journey. So, thanks for reading!

We’ll have more updates soon.