In my last post I described the part of the my IVF cycle known as The Retrieval. This post will pick up from there and describe the next step: Embryo Transfer.
After retrieval, the eggs and sperm start doing their “thing” in the lab and hopefully embryos start developing via fertilization. Developing means the embryo cells are dividing many times to a point where it is nearly ready to implant on the walls of the uterus. This division takes place post-retrieval, typically between days one to two, and then transfer is scheduled for either day three or day five. In my case, I was always scheduled for a day three transfer.
During these few days between retrieval and transfer, my only job was to try to relax and to hope and pray that my eggs would fertilize into healthy embryos that were ready for transfer. Note that not all eggs fertilize and not all fertilize well. Like every stage of IVF, you need to have the right mix of amazing science and luck. So I spent those few days trying to chill, taking my medication and mentally preparing for the transfer.
My transfer was scheduled in the morning, and I arrived at CHR about thirty minutes before the procedure. This time allowed me to complete the necessary paperwork, change into that glorious hospital robe, hair cap and booties, and, most importantly, review my embryo status with the embryologist. The embryologist and I discussed what my little embryos had been up to the past few days. We reviewed how many embryos I had, which ones we would transfer and how many, if any, we would freeze. The embryologist also reviewed the level and grade of my embryos, so I was armed with the information to make decisions about what to do with each embryo. At this time I also spoke with my doctor so I could decide how many embryos to transfer. This is a decision that is unique to each person based on personal health factors such as age, number of attempts of IVF, quality of embryos etc.
Once we reached our decision, it was time to head over to the transfer room. I laid back on the exam table, which is almost like a “Craftmatic” bed, and my legs and feet went up, my back reclined, and I was in “position.” The doctor arrived and the embryologist once again confirmed who I was and the number of embryos I was transferring. Then, just like that, the embryos, which are mixed with a nutrient fluid, were transferred via a catheter into my uterus. The whole procedure was guided through ultrasound so I could actually see my embryos enter my uterus. How cool is that? Luckily, there were no issues and, voila, I was ready to go home with a few good prizes: a few embryos and an ultrasound photo of the big moment! I spent the next two weeks— TWO WHOLE WEEKS – holding onto that photo with hope and worry as I awaited the next stage of the IVF process: the pregnancy test.
Stay tuned for the next part of my IVF story in an upcoming post.