Understanding IVF

We have learned that I have a typical cycle and the big problem is the eggs are not being fertilized, making us infertile. We learned that K’s semen are slow to get to the eggs and there are few sperm attempting to get there. We need ART to help with the baby making process. Enter IVF, who is our potential infertile hero. Our doctor recommended this form of ART.

There are many types of reproduction technologies that can assist people in getting pregnant. Our doctors have recommended our best chance to be with IVF, In Vetro Fertilization. A process where eggs and sperm are combined outside of the body and then implanted.

Here is my understanding of IVF.

K and I received our IVF calendar and have plans to start with my next cycle. It is becoming very real and very exciting and I have so many feels as we get closer and closer to our start date. Our process will begin when AF (aunt flow) makes her next appearance, which should be the beginning of November. When CD1 (cycle day 1) hits, I will call the doctor and proudly announce, “I am on my period!” On CD2, I will begin taking birth control pills. I know, I was surprised too. The pill? How can you get pregnant on the pill? Well, for two weeks I want my body and hormones to be a neutral as possible before I start pumping my body full of huge doses of hormones. This two-week birth control phase is called the Suppression Stage and it is rightfully names. My body’s natural producing hormones will be suppressed by the pill. Following the Suppression, we then enter the Stimulating Stage.

During the Stimulating phase, I will have daily injections of hormones to stimulate the process of inducing the ovaries to produce eggs, many eggs, but not too many eggs. The medication being injected will help to stimulate follicle growth and estrogen levels prior to ovulation. I plan on sharing these injections daily on our Infertile_Fix Instragram, so head on over to follow along with us. Unless you have a problem with needles, in which case, look away; look far, far away. I wish I could look away…

Following 8-12 days of stimulating this egg growth, a shot is given to trigger ovulation. It is referred to as the trigger shot, or “pulling the trigger.” The timing of this shot is incredibly important, and doctor directed. 36 hours after this shot, we move into the Retrieval and Fertilization stage.

We will head to the doctor and have the eggs carefully removed. Ideally, we will have 5-10 eggs to be retrieved. K will provide a sample to be used to fertilize these eggs. I will go under general anesthesia for this egg collection procedure. While I am under, K will be asked to provide a sample. It’s happened that some men have trouble producing a sample while under the stress of their wife being under general anesthesia and this huge moment in the infertile journey having to take place, like RIGHT NOW. With this barrier in mind, K has a frozen sample, just in case. But ideally, he produces a fresh sample while the eggs are being retrieved. Then the eggs and sperm will be taken away to be fertilized.

There are two forms of fertilizing with IVF, conventional and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Conventional is putting an egg in sperm and having a sperm fertilize the egg. ICSI includes a lab technician choosing a sperm and injecting it into an egg. Because of the sperm quality in our case, we will be doing ICSI.

Over the next couple days, the eggs will be examined for signs of fertilization and the embryo growth will be tracked. Apparently, there is a grading scale for embryos, and as a teacher I have mixed feelings about this. I believe every student wants to succeed, hopefully every one of our embryos will feel my support and belief in them and do their very best to mature nicely. I would say grades don’t matter, love of learning and participation is most important, but in this case grades really do matter. I plan to share more about the embryos and their growth and development while I have ours to share. So again, follow along on our Instragram to (fingers crossed) watch our embryo(s) grow.

The final step is the embryo transfer, where the embryo is placed back inside the uterus to attach and grow. This is a quick procedure and I will be awake and talking and watching and relaxing and totally not freaking out. Deep breath. Positive thoughts.

After the embryo is placed, we will be considered PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise), which is hands-down my favorite acronym. 9-11 days after the transfer, we will head back to determine if the hCG level (pregnancy hormone) is rising at the right amount to confirm a pregnancy. I know myself pretty well and envision this 2WW will be challenging. I am currently making a list of activities to fill my time and keep calm.

So, friends, here we go! I am excited, but terrified. I am delighted, yet so fearful. We are infertile, but gosh darn it, we plan on having a baby.