Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Calling All Storks

The day of transfer was exciting. I got up before my alarm and basically jumped out of bed. I was exhausted, but mostly because I was so excited to do the transfer the following day that I couldn't get to sleep. When I finally did drift off, I had dreams that we were late for the transfer and we lost our embryo, which then woke me up terrified and scrambling for my phone to check the time - only another 5 hours till I have to wake up, then 4, then 3, and on and on, dream after dream until I finally got up for real.

I stumbled into the shower to wash up, but really was only allowed to rinse off. We were told that perfume or cologne can damage the embryo, so to be safe, I passed on the shampoo, the body wash, the deodorant and the cologne - I was determined not to screw this up. Kay also got ready, which included downing a jug of water (they wanted her bladder to be full to allow for a smooth transfer of the embryo into her uterus). I was concerned by this because I know what Kay is like when she has to pee (ragey), and I know how much liquid is required to make her pee (a teaspoon), neither of which were working in my favor. Nevertheless, she drank the obligatory water and we were on our way. We made a stop for caffeine, but wanting to be as cautious as possible, ended up calling the clinic to ask if caffeine was okay on the day of transfer - it wasn't, and Kay watched me drink my coffee with resentment while her tea got cold.


Kay in the "ready room"
In no time, we were sitting in the front room of the clinic waiting for the nurse to come and get us, and staring at all the separate pieces of d├ęcor that resembled embryos. I'm not kidding, the area rug had white polka dots, the light fixture was a giant white egg, and the wall behind the reception desk was covered in what looked like splitting cells - it's hard for me to say whether this was comforting or a slap in the face, but it was definitely a fitting theme. The nurse finally came and got us and the receptionist wished us luck. We were brought into the same room that the retrieval took place and Kay was given clothes to change into again, but this time, so was I. I dutifully pulled the booties over my feet, put the hairnet over my head, and put the gown on, this time doing a much better job than when I had my "balltrasound". Then I proceeded to do a photo shoot of myself and Kay in our sterile clothes, the whole time thinking of the future conversation I'd have with my kids explaining my own version of "the birds and the bees" (seriously though, if someone could explain the birds and the bees thing to me that would be great, because I never understood the relationship of birds and bees to the act of procreation).

Our Embryo
Following our photo shoot the embryologist came in to tell us what we had waited all week to hear - we had lost our outlier overnight and our final embryo count was down from six embryos to five. We were disappointed but too excited to be bummed out for too long and we made the decision to be happy that we ended up with five. The embryologist reinforced this attitude by telling us that with the number we started with falling from sixteen to seven on the first day, she only expected two or three to make it to the last day, so we actually did quite well! She told us she had selected the highest grade embryo for transfer that day and she would be happy to let us take a picture of it when we moved into the procedure room. The procedure room was the standard room with the table and stirrups, but with a big T.V. screen on the wall already showing a huge picture of our tiny little embryo. I snapped a couple photos of it while the excitement and stress, which reminded me of watching the Oilers playoff games, built up in my chest and Kay's bladder got ready to burst. The doctor had a quick look, but then sent Kay to the bathroom to "let a little bit out" since her bladder was actually too full - there she goes again; over-achieving.

The procedure after that was super fast, and much like the natural act, took literally 10 minutes; they inserted the catheter, squeezed through the embryo, checked the line to make sure it went in, and then printed us out this nifty little picture of Kay's uterus. The doctor, the nurse, and the embryologist all wished us luck before sending us on our way - Kay was worried for a few minutes that it might fall out if she got up, but the doctor assured us that wasn't a thing, although from the way she was walking for the first few minutes I have my doubts that she was entirely convinced - but it also could have been that her bladder was extremely full and the bathroom was occupied by another patient when we came out of the procedure room.

The little white spot just right of center is where the embryo is.
Once we had completed the transfer, our next task was to somehow make it nine days till Kay's blood test to check if she was pregnant without losing our minds. The first two days were a breeze, we were full of excitement, anticipation, and positivity. The next two days brought on some intense cramping for Kay but she endured, not really able to take much of anything for the pain. She was worried and made two or three phone calls to the clinic but was assured it was all normal. She, of course, became a Google warrior at this time and made sure she read the opinions and symptoms listed by people on virtually every fertility forum on the internet, in one minute reassuring herself that things were working, and the next minute worrying that it wasn't going to work.

I banned Kay from taking any pregnancy tests because I knew that taking one so early was essentially meaningless - especially since the earlier it was, the more likely it was that it would show up with a false positive because of all the HCG (pregnancy hormone) still in her body from IVF. On day 6, however, Kay convinced me to let her take one, and it showed up negative - which basically brought on a meltdown while I tried to console her and reassure her that there was still a possibility she was pregnant since it was still too early. Eventually she was okay, but was pretty much convinced that there was no way she was pregnant. Kay does what she wants (she gets that from me), and against my advice, she took another on day 7, which that morning showed as negative. Later in the day, however, a very faint line showed up on both the day 6 & 7 tests (Kay keeps them for comparison) - and she got excited again - but then day 8's test was entirely and completely negative - leading Kay to the conclusion that the transfer didn't stick.

These ups and downs are probably the toughest part of the entire process - except for hearing the word "negative" in relation to a pregnancy test, which is what happened on day 9 when Kay went in for her official blood test. When you're trying to get pregnant naturally, anything could have happened, but knowing that you've done every possible thing that can be done, makes it so much more difficult. We know there was a good quality egg, we know it fertilized, and we know it was where it needed to be, it just didn't happen. It wasn't just anti-climactic, it was heartbreaking, but all we can really do is pick ourselves up, muster up a little more hope, and try again.

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