Going through the motions

Apart from my sessions with Anni round 2’s stim phase / drug regime didn’t differ from round 1. Tristan was still afraid of me “for good reason.” And I was still afraid of jabbing myself so once again nightly visits to my Aunty Jo’s couch became the norm. Aunty Jo is a qualified nurse and therefore super comfortable around needles but she even confessed she felt nervous administering my IVF drugs. She was playing a part in our potential miracle and wanted everything to go well. I am eternally grateful for her love and assistance. We were literally rocking up every night after an already long day of work for her. But she was always caring and focused.

I so admire all the people out there going through stims without an Aunty Jo of their own. Not only are needles icky but all the other shit plays with your head. Setting the dosages. Getting the times right. Physical discomfort. Fuck I even worried about how hard I would have to jab, how quickly the dial needed to be turned, and how long you should leave the needle in before removing it. Throughout the process, you convince yourself that everything you do or don’t do could impact your success.

Tristan might tell a different tale but overall I think I coped far better with this stage than I had previously. My follicles grew nicely and we made it to egg collection. My specialist collected 13 mature eggs. A few less than last time but still a good result.

I blogged more in depth on the egg collection process last time round. I’ve pasted the link to that post below in case you missed it / need a refresher.

https://dreamingofsleeplessnights.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/ivf-hunger-games/

I don’t really remember how I felt physically in the days that followed round 2 egg collection. I do remember a feeling of optimism though. I was confident ICSI was just what we needed to keep us in the game.

Once my eggs were collected they were taken to the lab, injected with some good-looking Tristan sperm, and then monitored for 5 days. In that time, I received a few calls. I was told that fertilisation had occurred! That was an exciting call! I was told that of the 13 eggs collected only 3 were viable. I was told that although 13 down to 3 seemed like a big drop that those 3 were looking the goods and had made it to blastocyst stage!

FUN FACTS:

What is a blastocyst?

  • The term ‘blastocyst’ refers to the human embryo 5 – 6 days after fertilisation.
  • It is the stage of development that the embryo must reach before it can implant in the uterus.
  • The structure of the blastocyst is more complex than earlier embryo stages because as well as increasing in cell number, the cells have become organised into 2 types, the trophectoderm, whose main role is in the implantation into the uterine lining and the inner cell mass which will give rise to the foetus itself.

What’s so special about blastocyst culture in an IVF setting?

  • Standard practice in IVF involves the replacement of embryos into the uterus after 3 days when the embryos are at the cleavage stage of development.
  • Blastocyst transfer however involves extending the period that the embryos are cultured in the laboratory to 5 or 6 days.

Why extend the time that the embryos are cultured in the laboratory?

  • It is known that a lot of embryos are destined to arrest at early stages so extended culture allows the embryologist to identify which (if any) of a group of embryos have the best potential for implantation by identifying those which form a normal blastocyst in culture.
  • Transferring embryos at the blastocyst stage also provides a better co-ordination between the embryo and the uterus by putting the embryo back in the right place (the uterus) at the right time (blastocyst stage).

Info on blastocysts sourced from: http://www.sims.ie/treatments/blastocyst.1046.html

Monash the IVF clinic I was with at the time has a 1 embryo per transfer policy. Transferring more than 1 embryo at a time might get you pregnant sooner but it is said to increase health risks to you and your offspring by nearly 5 x

1 embryo has the potential to split and become 2 babies. So, transferring 2 or more is how people like Octomom exist. CRAZY!

My single embryo transfer was booked in for 28.11.16. The other two were frozen for future use.

Egg collection is performed under general anaesthesia in hospital. Embryo transfer is performed whilst you are awake and usually just in your clinic rooms. The process is known to be quick and easy.

The following information pertaining to embryo transfer can be found on Monash’s website. Take note of the bold text.

Stage 7: Embryo transfer

If your embryo develops in the lab, you’re ready for it to be transferred into your uterus.

Your fertility nurses will contact you to explain what you will need to do to prepare.

The embryo transfer is a very simple process, like a pap smear. It takes about 5 minutes, you’ll be awake, there’s no anaesthetic, and you can get up straight away. You can continue with your day, the embryo can’t fall out if you stand up or go to the toilet.

A scientist prepares your embryo by placing it in a small tube called a catheter. It’s critical this is done by an expert to disturb the embryo as little as possible.

Your fertility specialist places the catheter through your cervix and into your uterus. They use ultrasound guidance to pinpoint exactly where to place the embryo. An embryo is only 0.1 millimetre, and the specialist has a target area of approximately 1 millimetre to play with. If it’s placed in the wrong spot, the embryo may not ‘stick’ and there is a risk it’ll find a home outside the uterus.

 I will never forget the 28th of November 2016. I was helpless. I knew in my gut things didn’t happen as they should. But it was all completely out of my control.

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