Wednesday morning came bright and earlier, and I woke up 30 minutes prior to my alarm set for 5:30 am. I had such an overwhelming sensation that today was just the beginning of the next chapter for us. What a surreal moment, that even for a brief, ecstatic moment I would be carrying our em-baby and “technically,” although only for a short period be PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise).
At this point we had already done three IUI’s but it was a completely different feeling. It was just an insemination and hoping that somewhere along the travels, egg would meet sperm and implant. But this time, it would be an embryo. A embryo transferred in, and all I had to do was hope and pray this sweet little embryo would make itself a home in my warm, plush uterus.
This could really be the defining moment we were waiting for.
I was also just eager to know how my embryos were. Had I lost one or two and they just never called because I have one to transfer anyways? Would all three be good enough quality? Would I be able to freeze the two embryos I don’t transfer? So many questions that had plagued my mind the past five days.
I drank a liter of water along the drive to Ottawa and was essentially bouncing off walls, my bladder was so full and uncomfortable. I went into the same waiting area I was for the egg retrieval and I had the same nurse, who lovingly referred to me as “14 eggs girl.” She said she had never seen someone so excited for just 14 eggs.
I changed back into the comfort of a well-worn hospital gown, one gown in the front tied in the front, one in the back so the rear side was covered. Shortly after, I met with an RE to go over my three embryos and their grading. All embryos are assigned a “grading score” that basically shows how it’s cells multiplied and how its grown/ matured. A poor score doesn’t indicate genetic problems, just that that particular embryo might not have developed properly and will have a higher chance of not surviving the thawing process for future transfers (aka future babies), ending in miscarriage, or just not implanting properly.
The grading system is something that is a little far behind my expertise, as its highly complicated. But essentially, embryo grades have two components. The first is its graded from 5 to 0. 5 being perfect and not humanly possible, and 0 being the absolute worst quality. The second part, is a letter grading, something similar to AA, A, BB, B, CC, etc but could also have a grading of BC, or something of a similar context. Similar to grading in school, A is amazing, C or D, are slightly more poor quality.
A chart was presented to me. It had three columns under which my embryos were classified. The three classifications were as followed – best quality, good quality, and fair quality (non-freezable).
All three of my embryos had made it to day five. Each embryo however, under a different column.
I was told that my best quality embryo was graded B4-BB. This B4-BB embryo would be the embryo they would transfer today (they always transfer the best in case there is a chance that best embryo doesn’t thaw properly in the future). Always transfer your best embryo, to give you the best chance of success. I was told this embryo quality is one of the best embryo gradings humanly possible.
But after all that good news I was told, that my embryo had the cell DNA fragmentation of an embryo of a 38 year old. Basically meaning that the younger the egg, the more the cells divide and multiply. “Older” quality embryos divide slower, don’t multiple as they should. Its like running a race when you are younger – you have endurance, and you can run farther without feeling sore or out of breath. But when you are older, you are slower, and don’t quite recover like you did when you were younger.
For all you who enjoy a few drinks on the weekend, its like noticing your recovery time as you age become more tedious and you can’t do things like you did in your younger days.
And I know, I know. 38 year old women have babies ALL the time. In fact, my Mother-in-Law got pregnant with Robbie when she was 37 years old, and had him at 38. I know women can have babies at that age, and even into their 40’s.
But the difference is because they are naturally still fertile and their body (or reproductive system rather) is still functioning as it should.
My absolute best quality embryo is showing the DNA composition of a 38 year old quality egg. That’s my best. What are my other two embryo fragmentation at if 38 is my best?
That 38 year old quality embryo was also me, a healthy 27 year old women, maxed out on the highest doses of follicle (egg) stimulating hormones. It was my body and the hormones doing ALL it could to get that embryo. So it is quite the difference between my 38 year old embryo and that of a naturally fertile 38 year old egg.
Our second embryo was placed under the good column. This is where my knowledge of grading stops because my grading was B2-3 and none of those numbers correspond to the previous grading scale. But somehow this was considered a good quality embryo and I would possibly be able to freeze this embryo. So I was happy with that.
They can’t confirm what can be frozen because they have to wait until later in the day to freeze and anything can happen at this point.
My third embryo sadly was placed under the fair quality column, that in brackets said “non-freezable” at B4-BC. Basically I was told that if that embryo grading had been a B instead of a C, it would be the best quality. Sadly all I was told was “this is considered a fair or poor quality. We don’t freeze those here.” That was all.
So I had a best quality to transfer today, a good quality to freeze, and sadly my third baby wasn’t good enough quality to freeze. With the funded IVF you can only transfer one embryo at a time at my age, so it’s not even like I could toss it on in as well and hope for twins.
I was sad about the third because for the last few days I thought I might actually have three embryos and if they all take, I will have three children. I always wanted ideally 3-4 so this was it. This gave me my dream family if all went well. So I was a bit disheartened by it all, but instead focused on the fact that I have two embryos, one to freeze, and one to transfer today.
I was told “you are one of the lucky ones, only 1/3 couples that do IVF have an extra embryo to freeze.” I had a hard time believing it for some reason. Call me a forever skeptic or someone with a really good instinct.
I was told I would be called later to be updated with which of our embryos were able to be frozen and what to do next at this point with them.
I went back into the waiting room, and at this point my bladder was so full I felt like I was going crazy. I was offered a dixie cup (you know those cups at the dentist for mouth wash) but to relieve myself until I filled the cup. This way my bladder was still full enough for the transfer procedure.
Shortly after, with a still full, but slightly less obnoxiously full bladder, I was brought into the operating room, the same room I was in for the egg retrieval. This time, I was fully conscious and not heavily medicated, thank goodness.
There were four additional women in the room alongside myself. An RN, an ultrasound technician, a Reproductive Endocrinologist, and the Embryologist. I laid there in the stirrups thinking how incredible this is that I was possibly going to be impregnated and there were no men in sight.
Talk about female empowerment.
The ultrasound technician set up an abdominal ultrasound and displayed my uterus on the screen. She created two “goal posts,” aka two small target points of where they wanted the embryo to land in my uterus.
The RE placed the spectrum (the same one used for pap smears), and another TMI, but the RE had to clear out any remaining suppository so that it would interfere with the transfer.
When the all clear was given to the embryologist, she flashed a picture of my embryo on the screen. I said, “it already looks so much like my husband” at the blob of cells that made up our hopefully future baby. All the women laughed.
The embryologist loaded the embryo into a small air bubble, into a small catheter. A large catheter was placed through my cervix into my uterus and the smaller catheter containing my embryo was inserted into the larger catheter.
When the catheter on the screen was lined up with the “goal posts,” the embryo was injected into my uterus and we saw a small flash of white on the screen. The reason the embryo is placed in an air bubble is because the embryo is so microscopic, it can’t be seen on the ultrasound. The air bubble is used so that you have a vague idea of where the embryo landed.
The air bubble landed right on target. The small catheter was retracted, and the embryologist took the small catheter back to the right side of the lab to examine it under the microscope. This is to ensure that the embryo didn’t accidentally get stuck in the catheter. All was clear.
I told myself you are fertile, you are worthy as I fiddled with my husbands wedding ring on my necklace.
The same thing was done to the larger catheter. The embryo wasn’t in the large catheter either, meaning only one thing. The embryo was actually in my uterus!
Apparently, in about 1 % of IVF transfers, the embryo might get stuck in the catheter. All that happens is the embryo is reinserted into the uterus again and it doesn’t impact the odds of the embryo not implanting.
After the procedure I was handed a photo of the air bubble with our beautiful embryo in my uterus. The first ever picture I had received of our future baby. Positive thinking at this point.
Our success rate at this point was 40%. Although I rounded it up to 50 and told everyone that. This way my odds were as good as flipping a coin this way.
Heads for success, tails for another failure.
I left the clinic after waiting for 15 minutes, feelings so excited, so humbled by this experience. I had an embryo, our child inside of me. All that was left was to hope that this sweet little baby of ours would implant and stick. That this tiny embryo would grow big and strong, and come to give Robbie and I the largest blessing of our life.
As per IVF transfer tradition, I went and got fries. But I treated myself to my New York Fries though, instead of McDonalds. Rumor has it that sodium helps with implantation.
And what has more sodium than salty fries!?
After my transfer, I was talking to my friend (who did embryo donation) and I told her the quality of my embryos. She had said that based on her clinic, her donor family’s clinic, and based on a few successful IVF transfers with the exact same embryo quality (all embryo adoption profiles have to state which grade their embryos were for their children), all three of my embabies were of good quality.
I decided when the clinic called back I would tell them to freeze all my embryos. I would rather give it a chance and have it not survive the thaw, rather than discard it and never give it a chance.
I was so excited. I had three embryo’s that were apparently all of good, usable quality.
I was exhausted and wanted to nap once I got home, but I was so worried that I would miss the clinic calling. I had heard nothing, so at 3:30, I called my IVF nursing team Jackie and Heather just in case to tell them I wanted to freeze all my embryos because I still hadn’t heard anything yet. They didn’t pick up so I left a message.
At 5:30 Heather called me back with regretfully sorrow news. By the time she had received my message, she ran downstairs to tell the embryologist to freeze my third embryo.
Sadly, they had discarded it at 2:00 pm. I was too late.
I got off the phone and I felt so devastated. I sobbed so hard, I could hardly breathe. They “discarded” my chance at another child. They actually used the word “discarded” as if it was a piece of garbage that needed to be tossed in the trash.
Honestly, the pain I felt in this moment was crippling. They just took my child from me. All this time I was advocating for myself and this one time, I let myself down. The clinic let me down. Why would they tell me it was poor quality and non-freezable when so many people had successful babies using the same embryo grading?
They took my child, my hopes and dreams about our future.
I was told by Heather they discarded it because apparently it wouldn’t survive the thawing process. But there were all these other stories about success with frozen transfers with this embryo grading? How come no one ever gave me the chance or the option to know I had choices. Where was my choice? Did I not have a say in this? So much for calling me to let me know the final decisions?
What ever happened to saying, “we don’t recommend freezing them because of these reasons…. but its completely your choice” instead of “that’s poor quality, we don’t freeze those here.”
For yet another time, this clinic has failed us yet again.
I cried the whole night. I was so completely devastated by this.
What if this embryo doesn’t take? Or the second one?
I cried to Robbie on the phone, who was still out of province for another month. I demanded so many times to him “I need to know now, how will we get our third child. I NEED TO KNOW NOW. I need a plan.”
I needed to know how would we grow our family. What if only one of our two transfers take? I can’t be the family that only has one child. I can’t. I know I needed more.
I gave myself the rest of the night to cry inconsolably, then tomorrow I would wake up and face a new day.
Tomorrow, would be a new day, and I would focus tomorrow on the positive that this little embryo could bring to us.
I ended the day feeling defeated. How could so much change since this morning when I felt so excited beyond all measures?
I woke up that night, to slight twinges in my abdomen. They continued on wards for the next day. I thought to myself this doesn’t feel like the typical cramps that I had in the past with the cramping afterwards from the procedures of my IUIs.
Could this be implantation cramping?
I fell back asleep so excited for what was to come. This could be working. I didn’t tell anyone this, aside from Robbie, just in case things didn’t work out. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
The day after transfer, I went to acupuncture for a holding treatment that Lesley so generously accommodated me for. Basically, a very simple routine that encourages the blood flow to increase, works the immune system, and help create a better environment for implantation to occur.
For the first time, I laid there, holding my stomach, and said “hi there baby. I know you’re in there and growing. Something tells me in nine months I’ll be getting to see you.” I never felt this sure. The twinges continued throughout the day.
I took it easy, as I was supposed to be on modified bed rest for two days. But I went out to the nursery and bought a small little white rose bush.
I planted it, as a symbol that maybe my little bud may grow into something so beautiful. Just like a rose.
The twinges tapered off. I was anticipating testing early because I was just so excited. We did our transfer on Wednesday, so I was planning on testing on Wednesday. To give my body the time to implant and have strong hCG levels.
At this time, my friend was due anytime with her daughter, Robbie and mine’s God daughter.
Saturday night, I dreamt that I had to work when my friend went into labor, so Robbie ended up going into the birth room in my place. After my shift, I went to met my God daughter and Robbie was gushing about how incredible the birth experience was and how wonderful women are for being able to give birth.
In my dreams, I said to Robbie “why would you go in? I’m pregnant and I wanted the birth of our baby to be your first birth experience.”
I woke up Sunday morning and thought, am I pregnant?
In all my life, I had never dreamed that I was pregnant. I decided that morning, I was going to take a test. Why not? It was a beautiful sunny day, and Sunday’s have always been my favourite day.
There is such a simple way of life on Sunday’s. Its own pace, so slow, so dreamy, and so euphoric.
I went into the washroom, took the test and placed it upside down on the counter. I set an alarm for 3 minutes and went to sit down.
My heart was racing out of my chest. I couldn’t help but think could I possibly, actually be pregnant?
My alarm went off, and the ring startled me. My heart was beating in my chest. I have never been so anxious and so sure that this was going to be it.
I walked into the washroom, feeling like my legs were so weak that they couldn’t possibly carry me the rest of the way. I brought the test to the living room to sit down. I couldn’t possibly stand there and look at it.
I took a deep breath and flipped over the pregnancy test.
There, for the first time in the entirety of my life, was the faintest second pink line next to the control line.
My hands were shaking as I held it into the sun light. Where my eyes playing tricks on me? Was there really a second line?
And there it was again. In new lighting.
A second line.
I instantly burst into tears, saying out loud “am I actually pregnant? Am I really finally going to be a Mama? Oh my gosh, Robbie is going to be a Dad. And I’m going to be a Mama. We are having a baby!”
I was so overcome by the feeling of gratefulness and I have never cried such happy tears before in my life.
I sat there for minutes just sobbing, allowing the reality to sink in.
I ran into the washroom and took a second test. This time, a digital test that simply stated YES or NO.
In a few seconds, I saw YES popup onto the screen.
I got my first positive pregnancy test 4dp5dt (4 days post 5 day [embryo] transfer). That was implantation cramping I felt. I just knew it. I KNEW IT.
I continued to essentially hyperventilate and cry on the couch for at least 30 minutes until I forced myself to get it together. I had to call Robbie, who at this point was still sleeping and under the impression I would test early – but in another three days.
I held it together so that my eyes didn’t look like I had been crying.
Robbie at this point, had rented an Air BnB with a bunch of the guys on his course to go to a beer fest for the weekend.
I took a deep breath and face-timed him.
He answered my call, not impressed that I had woken him up. He had his guy friend asleep next to him in bed.
Nothing like calling your husband to tell him you’re pregnant and he is in bed with another man, am I right?
The first minute of the call was Robbie saying:
- “You woke up my roommate”
- “Can’t I just call you instead of facetime?“
- “I’m over my data already“
- “There’s people everywhere here, I can’t talk now“
And me, on the other side of the call, was just begging him to stay on face-time and that I won’t take up much time. That who cares if he is already over in data. And laughing to myself that he has no idea what I am about to tell him.
Finally he sits down so I tell him.
“Guess What?…” as I hold up the positive pregnancy test and start crying again.
“You are going to be a Dad.”
In all my years with Robbie, never have I seen him so speechless. He clasped his hands over his mouth, his eyes just wide with excitement. He looked like he was glowing so strongly that the glow was coming from him internally.
We both cried, in so much shock that this was actually happening. Robbie asked again to see the test. After staring at negative after negative test for the better part of two years, there was something so special and surreal about finally seeing our first positive test.
We daydreamed about our new reality, we were going to be parents. I am pregnant. I’m carrying a child. I was so overcome with emotions, so incredibly grateful that my body had allowed me this to have this experience.
For the first time in so long, my body didn’t betray me. All the hard work I had put in had paid off. And damn it, I worked so hard for this. I felt grateful for my body, for all that it has done for me in this moment.
I couldn’t believe this was actually our reality. Every time on that face-time call I looked at Robbie, tears began to swell in my eyes.
The man I loved so endlessly and wholesomely finally got the chance to be the Dad we so desperately wished for.
Eventually Robbie had to leave but by the end of the day we had told some of our immediate family and a few friends.
I began to get nervous, that maybe the faint positive was the remainder of my trigger injection. What if it really wasn’t a positive, but instead left of trigger shot in my body?
You see, the trigger shot to force my body to ovulate, 36 hours prior to my egg retrieval was 10, 000 units of hCG. The exact hormone created in the beginning of your pregnancy that those store bought pregnancy tests pick up on.
I looked it up online.
How long does it take for hCG trigger shots to leave the body?
For every 1,000 units, it takes one day to leave the system. Therefore ten days to leave my body with 10,000 units.
I looked on the calendar and counted 10 days after. Day 10 was today. On Sunday.
I began to worry slightly, although part of me really didn’t. I just knew this was a successful pregnancy. I just had that instinct.
The only way to tell is if you test again in two days. If that second line gets darker, its your body producing hCG on its own and not left over trigger. If it gets lighter, its the the remainder of the trigger shot leaving your body.
I tested Tuesday morning. That second line was twice as dark as it was the day before.
I AM ACTUALLY PREGNANT.
I knew it. Cue the tears again. As if I haven’t already been crying happy tears for the last two days straight.
What a surreal feeling. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I was pregnant to everyone I saw, but instead I just confided in my sugaring lady at my appointment. I had to tell someone.
It reminded me of how when Robbie and I got engaged, that night at supper the waiter asked how our day was and I just aggressively blurted out that we got engaged today.
My beta testing (blood work to determine if I was pregnant) wasn’t scheduled until June 3.
The morning of June 2, our Goddaughter was born. After leaving the hospital that morning after holding her, I couldn’t help but feel so excited that soon I was going to have our own baby to hold.
On my way home from the hospital, I stopped to pick up another test. Just to make sure I was still positive. I had to make sure this was all real that I would have a baby of my own.
That second line was even darker. Still positive.
June 3rd, I drove to Ottawa to get my blood work taken and get the official results.
I got the call later around 12 pm and I was pregnant. My beta number was 837 hCG, and at this point they wanted my numbers to be at least between 100-200. I was definitely pregnant.
Usually you go back two days later to get retested to make sure your hCG numbers double. But since mine were so high and I was out of town, they suggested it wasn’t necessary.
Jackie said that I could stop taking my progesterone because my progesterone levels were good at 87.
I didn’t feel comfortable with this. All of the youtubers, blogs, stories of other people I follow that did IVF, all clinics had a mandatory progesterone prescription until at least 10 – 12 weeks. Since progesterone is to support a viable pregnancy, I asked if I could stay on it. There is no harm to staying on it, other than its another added small finance I am willingly adding to my plate.
But it didn’t matter. I would feel more comfortable, if God forbid something were to happen, that I knew, I did everything to keep this pregnancy. So I got my order of progesterone in for the remainder of my first trimester.
Here we are. Dancing with the reality of a life we fought so hard for. For a dream that seemed so unattainable at times. At this moment of time, it felt that all was well in the world. That finally the universe was on our side. That good things do happen to good people.
There aren’t even enough glorious words in the dictionary to even touch the surface of the wide range of emotions and feelings that we felt and are still currently feeling.
For the first time in a long time – I felt truly alive.
I hope that all the good things you want for in life, come your way. I hope you don’t meet struggle or resistence, but God forbid you do, I hope you look it right in the eyes and fight it head on. That even though you might feel defeated internally, I hope externally you fight your fight, in a way that encourages others and shows the world, that you won’t give up. Know that maybe your struggle, will make the end result that much more sweet.
While I may be pregnant now, I didn’t beat infertility. You never really win, until you have the family you always envisioned. Our future children will all have their own battle story.
But for now, this one victory is sweet. And it will be cherished, praised, and valued for the wonderful blessing that it is.
For so long, I felt that the world was against me. But after this, knowing that I am growing our future. I would spend every penny, inject myself hundreds of times, drive hours daily, go through more failed fertility treatments, if it all ended like this.
This is worth it all and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.