Viability Ultrasound and Post-IVF Follow Up

Once you get that first positive pregnancy test, it’s always a bit of a wait until the next step. The first few weeks are tedious. You want to be so proactive but all you can do is wait and take your vitamins in the mean time. It’s far too early to meet with your doctor. Usually around 8-12 weeks you will have your dating ultrasound. Basically an ultrasound to calculate your estimated due date, measure the baby and to see your babies heart beat. As it’s far too early to actually hear the heart beat.

In the infertility world, your first ultrasound is usually called a viability scan (or ultrasound). A little more intimidating of a term then your traditional term of a dating ultrasound. Basically, it’s to check if your embryo has led to a viable pregnancy.

With infertility treatments and all the scientific impositions made, there comes an increase in risk factors. Chromosomal errors are far more common in fertility treatments because you are forcing the body to produce eggs at an inhumanely rate. As a result, it’s more common for chromosomal issues to come into play.

A vast majority of the time, these chromosomal issues result in miscarriage simply because the embryo doesn’t have the correct chromosomal composition to survive past first trimester. Hence, why the rate of miscarriages are far more common in fertility treatments on average as opposed to most natural conceptions. Although everyone and every scenario is different.

We had our viability ultrasound scheduled within that 8 to 12 week window. I had scheduled it on a day that Robbie would be able to take off to come down to Ottawa with as well.

I knew I wanted to opt for as few ultrasounds as possible so I really wanted to make sure Robbie could come for this one. As you never know what his schedule would be coming up would consist of.

I was anticipating this phase of my life to be ridden with anxiety. I had fought so hard to get here, what if I lost my baby now? But I can’t express how at peace I finally felt. I think naturally there is always a slight fear but it never really dominated my thoughts.

My pregnancy up until this point has been good and entirely something that I am so grateful for. I felt tired, hungry, and my breasts are tender but that’s completely normal and to be expected.

My schedule for a few weeks including getting home at 11:30 pm (I work 3-11 pm), eat, then sleep. Wake up around 4 for more food because I would be starving. Sleep, wake up around 8 for breakfast. Back to bed, up for lunch then would set an alarm for 1:45, to get up, make supper for work, shower, get ready for work, and leave at 2:30. Repeat that schedule for a month.

I hardly talked to anyone or did anything. I thought if my body needs to rest, let it. If you can, don’t resist it. I thoroughly made sure to enjoy it all, knowing with a second baby I wont have time to nap with a toddler running about.

By week 8 my exhaustion eased up and I had more energy. I didn’t have any worries. My mentality was “I feel pregnant therefore I am.” Simple as that.

I didn’t feel the need to stress if my baby was still growing or if it had stopped.

A few days before our ultrasound, I had someone say to me at the grocery store “you feel way to good to still be pregnant.”

The days leading up to my ultrasound I started to naturally get more nervous, wondering would there be a heart beat? But I kept assuring myself that all was okay. But when that person said that it really made me a bit anxious.

You should never make anyone feel like they should question whether their baby is still growing or not. I started to think to myself, “what if I feel this good because my baby stopped growing and I have a missed miscarriage?”

Luckily my ultrasound was only a few days away and I said to myself “there is no point in worrying about anything until there is something to worry about.”

So I tried to bury that thought until my viability ultrasound. The morning of our ultrasound came around and I was so excited. The whole drive to Ottawa I kept hoping to see twins. If my embryo was of such a high grading (4B-BB) it would be good enough to survive if it decided to split.

Twins just seem nice, especially after infertility. Two birds with one stone, right. Or as I read once and thought was hilarious, feed two birds with one scone.

We arrived at the clinic and the regular secretary that I’ve been dealing with the last year and a bit, saw that I was here for this scan. She was so excited for me.

“Oh my, really!? Good luck, I hope it all is good!” she exclaimed from behind the desk.

We took a seat in the clinic. A spot I have sat many times before, waiting and wishing for good things to come my way.

What a surreal feeling to be here today. Waiting for the green light for our viability scan.

We got called back, and I got ready for the ultrasound. Draped in a cloth, not quite large enough for fully wrap around my waist, I hoped up onto the bed.

As the ultrasound started, the technician said “there’s your yolk sac. That’s a good sign. And there is your baby.”

Finally on the screen, appeared our tiny little baby. Not twins but instead a single baby. Our baby. Which at this point resembles more of a crayfish than a baby. I held my breath.

had an overwhelming need to cry but I held it in. I needed to know things. Was our baby growing fine? On schedule? Would there be a heartbeat?

Finally the technician said your baby is measuring a few days a head of schedule. Next up was the heartbeat. I felt my heart in my chest. The technician said “we are going to check for the heartbeat now.” And nothing happened. In my mind, I knew we weren’t going to hear anything but in that moment I had a little glimpse of panic. Its far to early to hear a heartbeat. There was no sound. Did our baby not have a heart beat? Then the technician said “your baby has a strong heartbeat of 167 bpm.”

I started to cry. I reached out to squeeze Robbie’s hand. We had a baby. This was real.

How many times have I laid on this exact bed, countless ultrasounds of my empty uterus, being told “your uterus lining is too thin” or “your follicles aren’t growing as they should.” Being delivered bad news after bad news.

And here I am laying here now, in this version of reality that we had dreamed of. I kept glimpsing at Robbie throughout the ultrasound, who continuously had the biggest smile swept across his face. My heart kept melting looking at him, just beaming. We ended the ultrasound and were given our estimated due date.

A February baby would be coming our way.

At this point our ultrasound concluded and we had an hour until our follow up IVF appointment with our Doctor. Who at this point, after our initial diagnosis, three IUIs, and a round of IVF, we had only seen and talked to our RE a handful of times.

We decided to leave and get lunch in the mean time. We hoped into the car again, just gushing that all was well. I started to tear up again, “we really are going to become parents.”

So overcome by emotions that this is our reality.

We went for lunch. A place I specifically picked just to get a strawberry daiquiri, my craving at the time. Have no worries, it was virgin. The whole lunch was so surreal. Robbie and I felt giddy, and the conversations of baby talk flowed. How good it finally felt to start talking about having a kid, and not from the perspective of when will this happen?

When you are submerged in the infertility world, you dream in the world of “if” this happens for us. If we get pregnant… if we have a baby… If. It’s saddening to think in terms of if. It’s almost as if you are just trying to keep a dream alive, knowing all too well, it might not happen.

We finished up our lunch and went back to the clinic to meet with our RE to go over our viability ultrasound results, and go over how the whole IVF experience went. I was nervous because I knew I would have to talk about them discarding our embryo. We met with our RE and she said all looked well with our ultrasound and our baby was off to a good, healthy start.

Then we went over our IVF experience. How I didn’t produce a lot of follicles, but that I produced a significant amount for my diagnosis. That we had two viable embryos. Our baby and one in storage. Which we are currently paying $500 yearly for rent for a tiny little complex in a squished storage unit downtown Ottawa. Or however they actually store the embryos.


Our Doctor repeated to us that “you should consider yourself lucky. Only 1 of 3 couples have something to freeze.” No matter how many times I hear that, it still doesn’t settle right. To me, so many couples end up with extra embryos. They might not all implant, but they still have them.

I nervously asked about the embryo they discarded and stated that I was not properly informed of my choices or that I even had options. I explained that we (as in anyone seeking infertility treatments) have no knowledge of embryo grading so we have to heavily rely on the RE’s to inform us of our choices and thoroughly walk us through everything.

She went back into our chart to discover that the embryo they did freeze was actually our poor quality embryo that we thought was discarded. Apparently later in the day after my embryo transfer, the embryo cells developed and went from 4B-BC to 4B-BB. The exact same quality of the embryo I am currently pregnant with.

But what about the other embryo that we were told was good quality? Why didn’t it make it to the freeze?

Apparently, the cells stopped developing and resulted in them having to discard it as it wasn’t developing properly. But the real question is, why couldn’t anyone actually have taken the time the day I got called saying they discarded it? Where was the communication?

But our RE was telling us the discarded embryo stopped developing and the nurse told us that the embryo discarded was not good enough quality to make it through the unfreeze? Two different stories.

And of course me, having watched and read so much about IVF asked “so what’s the process for transferring our second embryo?”

Robbie looks at me as if to say how about we just worry about the first child, well, first. But I wanted to know so that we could be prepared.

Basically from this appointment in June, we would have one year to call and transfer (and still be on the patient list). Which would mean we would have to transfer our embryo when our first baby is only 5 months? I mean I want kids close together but that seems a bit too much. After June 2020, we have to get another requisition to come back to the clinic to do our transfer.

A process that took 6 months (from date of request to our first appointment which was the earliest they could get us in) when we got our initial referral for the clinic.How stupid that they know we both have infertility problems AND have an embryo in storage at their clinic and those are the two options.

Transfer at 5 months OR get a referral and possibly wait another 6 months. I feel like the only reason they do that is so they have more referrals because they get more government funding from referrals.Another scam of that infertility clinic.

Our RE printed off all our information that the care providers would need for our pregnancy. Our blood work, my TSH levels, my current prescription for synthroid, and the information from our ultrasound. I left still feeling unsettled about that other embryo but instead I focused my attention on the good.

I was pregnant. Our baby was healthy, measuring ahead, and had a strong heartbeat. And our frozen embryo was of the best quality. We decided that based on the good news, we would go celebrate the good news and buy a dresser for the nursery.

Our first baby item purchased knowing we actually had a baby on the way.

I have waited so long to love my body, to feel that my body had a purpose and that it was serving the purpose it was always intended to have.

This new feeling of purpose is so wonderful. A feeling that I hope I can reign in and focus on for a while. There is nothing as magical as fully encapsulating as self-love.

I hope you are radiating with self-love and if you aren’t, I hope that one day you will.

Rebecca

6 thoughts on “Viability Ultrasound and Post-IVF Follow Up

  1. I am so happy and excited for you both♥️ Rebecca you are truly an inspiration to many who will read your blog… it has informed me of many things I didn’t know. You will make an amazing Mom…your heart is huge and your love overflowing that is the best any baby could ask for ♥️♥️

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    1. Thank you Bev for all the kind words and just taking the time to read along. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to talk about infertility and the struggles that come with it so that people have a little bit more insight on the topic ❤️ hope you are doing well!

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  2. KATHY COUSINEAU August 6, 2019 — 3:56 pm

    Rebecca and Robbie.
    I am beyond happy for both of you. My heart broke as I followed along on your blog. Even this one had me in tears( happy ones this time of course). I am in awe of your strength and resilience. Congrats to both of you. You two are going to make the most amazing parents.

    Kathy

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    1. Thank you Kathy 💕 it’s been quite the journey but something that has helped our relationship flourish and grow. I truly believe we are able to enjoy this next step of our life that much more after everything that it took to get here. We certainly hope to be amazing parents 🥰

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  3. This is a beautiful story. I am sorry about the miscommunication and confusion from the clinic with your other embryo. I hope you have a smooth and uneventful pregnancy. Good luck!

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    1. Me too. The miscommunication from the clinic was certainly one of the hardest parts. I just wish they fully understood what it feels like to be on the opposing side of the table. Maybe then they would value the importance of communication but at the same time, I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone. Thanks for the well wishes for my pregnancy and for following along 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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