IVF Cycle Part Five: Frozen Embryo Transfer

On August 8th, 2019, we had our frozen embryo transfer. On August 8th, I became pregnant. And although we didn't know if this baby would implant and grow to be carried full term, we knew that, if even for a short time, I was pregnant.

We didn't tell anyone that we were doing a transfer. We didn't tell our family or friends, not even our parents. Alex and I were the only ones that knew and it was so nice to have it as our little secret.

In late July, after my body calmed down from egg retrieval and STIMS, we got the go ahead from the clinic for me to start taking my transfer medications. The start day for these medications was based off of when my cycle began that month. As we got the go ahead, I began taking my estrogen pills two times a day and applying my estrogen patch to my hip which was switched out every three days. These helped get my lining ready for transfer, AKA to receive a BABY!

Shortly thereafter, we began PIO shots (progesterone in oil) and instead of these going in my belly like the STIMS shots, they went in my bottom. And boy oh boy, were they a pain in my BUTT! The PIO shots were a once a day shot that we did every morning. Every morning, we woke up just a little earlier and every morning, Alex gave me an ice pack to chill my bottom and every morning, he gave me a *somewhat* painful shot in my bum. It wasn't all that bad, but some mornings if we didn't give it enough time to be iced, it would BURN! So, heads up- if you're going to need to do PIO shots, grab an ice pack. After we did the shot, Alex would massage that part on my bottom for a few seconds and we'd carry on with the rest of our day.


One day, in the midst of it all, I finally counted it all up. In the few weeks leading up to transfer, I was taking- one PIO shot, one patch, and 20 pills daily. The pills were a random assortment of vitamin, medications, and an aspirin. Crazy, huh? But every little vitamin or medication did what it needed to do to prepare my body for that beloved embryo and I'm thankful that they did their job well. In order to keep up with everything, I kept a check list on our bathroom mirror. I'd check it off daily when I took my medication, but more importantly, I wrote down next to each medicine what it was doing for my body and for transfer. It was much easier to take these medications when I knew what they were for and when I was constantly reminded of the "why."


While I was on all of these medications, we were having multiple ultrasounds every week to make sure my body was responding well to the medicines and doing what it needed to do for transfer. All of our ultrasounds went really well, except for one of the final ones we had right before our scheduled embryo transfer.


Our nurse did the ultrasound and checked the blood flow in my uterine arteries, but the levels were coming back high. Uh-oh. She said that our doctor was the only doctor in the surrounding area (that she knew of) that checked this closely at the uterine arteries. It was another fine tooth comb to make sure that everything would be perfect for transfer. They put me on one more prescription, in hopes that the levels would go down before transfer and we were told to continue on as scheduled.

On August 8th, we got to our clinic at 8am for our final ultrasound to re-check the levels of the uterine arteries. The medication worked successfully and we could continue on with transfer! If the medication hadn't worked and my levels were still high, we would've had to postpone our transfer to another day. I was SO thankful everything worked out perfectly.


Also, lemme just say that it does make sense as to why it needed to be this way. You're paying so much money and want everything to go so well, the last thing anyone wants to do is risk having it not work when something could've been avoided.


Our transfer was scheduled for 10am that same morning so we had a little bit of free time to grab some breakfast. We went to Cracker Barrel and enjoyed a tasty breakfast just the two of us. All I kept thinking was, "this will be my last breakfast before I'm pregnant!"


A big instruction for transfer was that I had to have a full bladder. Transfer is guided by an ultrasound and when you have a full bladder, it creates a dark space so that the doctors have a clear view into your uterus. So at breakfast, I was chugging water like there's no tomorrow and then I started to think, "what if my bladder isn't full enough?" and I drank even more.

We got back to the clinic and I sat chugging my water until it was time to go back. And then it hit me- the BIGGEST urge to pee EVER. And I thought, surely I can't hold this. But I did and oh man, that was hard.

They called us back and we went into the same waiting room we were in for egg retrieval- talk about speical, right? They gave us these super stylish scrubs (pictured above) to change into and again...we had to wait.

We waited for what felt like forever and I just sat there, trying so hard not to pee all over myself. I guess I did okay on having a full bladder, huh? Then our embryologist brought in a picture of our beautiful and perfect embryo. The picture of our embryo was a beautiful circle with part of one side starting to open and expand. The expansion was such a good thing to see because it showed that as the embryo was thawing, it was looking for something to stick to. Which was great news for us because I had a uterus that was ready to be implanted! And finally, I understood why so many women said, "full bladder and hopeful heart."

We sat in that room for almost an hour before it was time for us to have our transfer. Which again, felt like FOREVER. We took turns talking to our embryo- Phoebe Buffay style."When you get in there, really grab on! Oh, and the next time you see me, I may be screaming...don't worry that's what's supposed to happen!" 

We talked about the possible gender of our embryo and what our possible names could be.

 I'd also like to pause here for a second to talk about genetic testing. We didn't do any type of genetic testing on our embryos after retrieval and here's why: it did not seem necessary for our particular situation. We had not previously been pregnant, we had not had a miscarriage, my age was not a threatening factor, and my body reacted well to the medications. It would've been an additional $3,000.00 if we wanted to push for the genetic testing and since our doctor wasn't recommending it, we didn't feel the need to do it. We were advised that it could be more harmful to a healthy embryo to reach in and take matter to test if it wasn't absolutely necessary.

Of course, every situation is different. We know couples that have needed to do the genetic testing because their journey looked different that ours. And if this is something that your doctor recommends that you do, then I say absolutley go for it. I really can't stress this enough- you HAVE to do what is best for you and for your spouse. Listen to your doctor and really figure out what it is that you need to do on your path because your situation is not going to look like ours and ours won't look like yours. AND THAT IS OKAY. We are different people and it's okay to have differing experiences. People will judge you and try to give their opinion. Especially when they haven't had to do this themselves. Take that with a grain of salt. Seriously, let it come in one ear and wave at it as it goes out the other. I highly recommend that you have conversations with your spouse about what you both feel comfortable with and then discuss it with your doctor and go from there.
Okay, continuing on . . . after awhile, we both became silent. There wasn't much to talk about anymore and I think the seriousness of what we were about to do settled in. And then those dreaded "what ifs" started to seep in too. Personally, I just kept thinking "I really hope this works." I started to get irritated because we had been waiting so long, our appointment was at 10am and it was almost 11am! What if the time had passed and it wouldn't work anymore? Plus, I still REALLY have to go to the bathroom!

I stood up and started to pace back and forth in our tiny, little room. Pacing helped a little, but it was just a distraction. I tried to listen to the music that played over the speaker. Instrumental pop music, oh joy.

Pacing, pacing, pacing.

Would it ever be our turn? A question that I've asked myself a lot in the last three years. Would it ever be our turn? Our turn to be pregnant? To have a baby? To be parents? And now we are here, so stinking close! And yet, I can't seem to get OUT of this waiting room!

Wait, what's that song that just came on? Over the speaker, a worship song started to play. Let me make myself clear- the ONLY worship song to play came over the speaker. How did we go from instrumental pop to instrumental worship?


And it wasn't just any worship song, it was a worship song that I sang over my empty womb and our baby for years. A pivotal song that hits home for me and our story. "What a Beautiful Name it is. The name of JESUS!" Immediately, I began singing and crying and just mouthing the words to calm my soul. And it all went away. The worries, the fear, the pushing urge to pee...I was at peace and just alone in that crowded clinic with my Savior.

That's what Jesus does. He comes into your mess, when you're absolutely terrified and at your end and He calms you. My perspective went from "what if" to LET'S DO THIS in a matter of a few minutes. And shortly after the song ended, it was finally our turn.

We went across the hall again, into the same room where I had egg retrieval. I got comfortable on the table and Alex grabbed my hand. The doctor got me prepped and did what he needed to do while the nurse took a jelly on the belly ultrasound doppler and pressed on my tummy.

They showed us a current picture of our embryo on the monitor in the room and I began to cry. There it was- our BABY! The side had opened and was reallyyyyy starting to expand...again, a VERY good sign. They announced over the intercom, "Booe embryo ready" and here it freaking came.

The embryologist brought our embryo in on the tip of a catheter and handed it to our doctor. We watched on the ultrasound monitor as the catheter went into my body and released our embryo. A little ball of light amidst the darkness.

At 11:20am, I was officially pregnant with our baby. We held hands and we cried and I thanked God over and over and over. The doctor told us to stay put for about 15 minutes and then we could go. Everyone left and we sat there, still and quiet for a second. I laid on the table and Alex sat in the chair beside me. We prayed together and we prayed for our baby. We prayed for it to finally be our turn. 

When the 15 minutes was up, we got up and went back to our waiting room so that I could change and we could take off the scrubs. I FINALLY got to go to the bathroom before we left and when we left the doctor's office, I was on cloud freaking nine. I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't stop looking at the ultrasound picture of our embryo transfer. Our doctor took a three-step photo series and printed it out for us to have.

We went up the street to a nearby Target to grab a few things, I sat in the cart and Alex pushed me around the store. We allowed ourselves to be completely vulnerable and submissive as we walked up and down the aisles of the baby section aimlessly. This was huge. We haven't allowed ourselves to walk down these aisles, let alone look at them, for years. It was too hard.

But today, we had hope. So we wandered down the aisles as if the pain and hurt from the last three years didn't exist and I can't tell you how freeing that was.

We went back home for the day and we didn't do much. I wanted to do minimal activity and just let my body rest so it could focus on welcoming our baby into my body- hopefully to stay for nine months! An old wives tale says that eating the core of a pineapple after embryo transfer is helpful. Supposedly, the nutrients in the core help the embryo attach better to the uterus and that's why the pineapple is the symbol of IVF.

Well, you better believe that we got some pineapple and I munched on that core and ate more pineapple than I had in months! The core was actually super tasty and something I'd eat again. I think I ate about two whole pineapples that week. Our doctor gave me minimal restrictions. Nothing to overexert myself and nothing too stressful. We went on a lot of walks, I drank a lot of water, and I ate the best that I could to nurture our embryo.

Again, this is where some stories differ. I've had friends who have been on bedrest for a few days after transfer and I have had friends who had minimal to no restrictions. Listen to your doctor on this one, for sure! And don't drive yourself crazy. I was given minimal restriction, but it still felt better to sit and rest as much as possible.

Considering that I had our embryo in my body, I was considered pregnant. Therefore, I treated my body as such. Which means I cut out alcohol altogether and I ate with the restrictions of being pregnant. I downloaded an app to my phone called Ovia and it saved my sanity. It has a food safety lookup and I was so thankful that I could look up foods that were safe for me to eat, but I could also avoid what could be potentially harmful. Like I said before, I was pregnant. Whether it would be a full term pregnancy or just a blip of a few days, I was pregnant and that was all that mattered.

We had to wait 8 days until we could go back for our pregnancy test.

8. really. long. days.

The day that I found out I was pregnant was the happiest day of my life and I can't wait to share that story with you soon. We will be sharing that portion of our story after the New Year as I continue to post and share with you everything I have learned with pregnancy.

I hope this gives you hope. Hope to keep fighting. Hope to never let go of your dream. Hope for your baby. We fought like hell to get to where we are today. The pain is friggin' intense and sometimes it just takes you down. It's the hardest journey we've ever been on in our lives.

But I'm here to tell you that it is all worth it. It was so totally worth it. Watching our baby grow from tiny dividing cells to an embryo to a baby has been the most unforgettable experience of my life and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Thank you God for the pain, I finally understand why it's needed. Thank you God for these babies. Thank you God for choosing us.

Photo Credits: All photos are personal.