As I sit here typing the words, “I am pregnant!” it’s words we have been dreaming about for almost a full year now. Literally working toward each month. For a year. My heart can’t stop smiling thinking about it, and I can’t wipe the smile off my face as the tears continue to fall down my face. Tears of happiness. Tears of joy. Tears of past heartbreak. All of it. I have shared a lot of my past infertility journey that brought us to Otis (which you can read about here) and I am committed to sharing our story with you as we experience it. These posts for me have been therapeutic to be able to diary as I have experienced it. Also, please be kind if I go in and out of tense as some of this was written in the moment and some of it after the fact. BEAR WITH ME.
This Frozen Embryo Transfer was likely the most important of all of them. It was our last frozen embryo we had in storage. And our last try for a baby. The weight of that was suffocating. After previously going through 3 egg retrievals, after Otis I was left with 3 frozen embabies. Our precious little babies. Of course there are always options to keep going but I am of course already 37 years old and I STRUGGLED to get healthy embryos from my retrievals since my egg quality was pretty poor. I was also unsure if I was willing to undergo the whole egg retrieval process again but this now brought all those thoughts up. What if my last transfer doesn’t work? There was ALOT on our minds. Alot. So looking into our last chance with our last embryo had a lot of weight to it. After looking at our past failed cycles with our doctor, she had an idea to do something completely different. This both excited me and completely TERRIFIED me. But at this point, we really needed to throw it all on the line to put our best foot forward. I trust my doctor so I was willing to go down a new path. I think it’s always important to mix things up because you never know what your recipe for success will be. She wanted to try a “Natural FET cycle” meaning that we would supplement less with synthetic hormones and instead, let my body lead the way naturally and then only supplement with less hormones closer to embryo transfer. Since I have had issues getting a thicker lining with all the synthetic hormones, we were curious to see how my body does completely on it’s own. So the goal would be, track my natural cycle in a “mock” cycle where we were only doing bloodwork and ultrasounds to gather information and track my cycle. No embryo transfer. Just tracking for research. I was IN.
Tracking my Natural Cycle
The process would be, wait till cycle day 3 of my period and come in for a baseline ultrasound and bloodwork at my fertility clinic. Then for me to do at home ovulation kits to track my ovulation at home as well as come in for multiple scans to see how my eggs were growing and tracking it with kits, bloodwork and ultrasound. In doing this, we found that my lining naturally looked FREAKING AMAZING. WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN. Basically my lining looked the best it ever had and I was almost upset this was a mock cycle and not a real one. That is how good my lining looked. After we confirmed ovulation with both my at home kits, and ultrasound and blood work, doctor also confirmed that my estrogen tends to dip a little low after ovulation so that is where we want to supplement a little more in our real cycle. Good to know! Also, we were excited to decide we would lock into a natural FET cycle and we were doing this!!! Of course we also tried naturally that month to get pregnant and of course it didn’t happen. So we were on our way to our Natural FET cycle with my next period.
Natural Cycle FET
I started my cycle on the 3rd day of my period and came in for a baseline check. The did an ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have any cysts on my ovaries and did blood work to check my hormone levels. The plan was to do at home ovulation kits and wait for high and peak results. The kits I use first tell you when your levels are HIGH and then tell you when it’s PEAK which is right before ovulation. So it was about 2 weeks until I went in again just for a check. Things were actually looking farther along than last cycle so we did more blood work and she suspected I would be getting close so I would come back in 2 days. In 2 days, my body was READY! Those eggs were growing perfectly and when we checked my hormones I was ready to go!! IT WAS INSANITY. I was expecting to have a much longer cycle again but this was flying by holy crap. I waited for blood work to confirm but that night I did my trigger shot! The trigger shot would confirm my exact embryo transfer timing. My lining was the best it’s ever looked! It looked “lush and juicy” in the words of my doctor and she was so excited about how great it looked that she printed me out a photo. I had that good trilaminar appearance to it as well which is all very positive. Things were looking amazing for my natural cycle and I was excited the doctor was as hyped as I was about it. I knew that if things didn’t look great, we could always cancel and try again but we were doing this!!
One week before I did my trigger injection which would trigger ovulation and set the wheels into motion for my embryo transfer. I started my progesterone 5 days before transfer and my other meds 3 days before. Progesterone this time was 1 injection and 1 suppository at night. I literally forgot how horrible those suppositories are. Basically it’s a compounded version of progesterone that looks like an oversized pill that you shove up your lady parts at night. But the aftermath is that is oozes out kind of slowly over time. Sorry TMI but damn they are GROSS. They just really end up making me feel very uncomfortable and I much prefer the injections which I know sounds INSANE. I started WAY less other hormones 3 days before. 2 estrogen patches and then my normal protocol of antibiotics, claritin, pepcid, baby aspirin, and medrol. After the medrol was finished I would start my prednisone. So all the meds were mostly the same as my medicated cycles in the past but just a lot less of them since we were working with my own body’s goods.
We did one last appointment on Friday before my Monday transfer to make sure all my hormones were looking good and that lining was also looking good. I think my nerves were running high. The appointment went great and everything looked ready. Hormones and lining looked good. I got to the checkout desk and was scheduling my pregnancy blood drawl test and 2 of my nurses came over to wish me luck at my transfer. I lost it. I feel awful to have been crying at the desk as I am sure anyone in the waiting room could hear me. But wow. The gravity of everything was hitting me. I desperately needed this to work. It was our last precious embryo and I was a hot mess of emotion. I thought I had it all together, I was feeling so good and positive, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t FEELING. Just such a vulnerable moment. Losing your shit. In public. But damn, infertility is hard as fuck. It’s really fucking hard. And going to battle and being knocked down every time takes its toll. I left the office tissues in hand. When I got to my car, I decided to change the script. Yes we had 1 more chance but that 1 chance is a blessing.
EMBRYO TRANSFER DAY
Of all my transfers, this one was one for the books. My smile was bigger waking up. I was more hopeful. I laid out my rainbow shirt, my cozy warrior socks, and I sat excited to start my day and move a step closer to expanding our family. I blow dried my hair, which in Covid times, is a big deal. I wanted to feel good. Look good. Be the light I needed this day.
Blake, Otis and I packed up to leave. Because of Covid-19, he was not allowed in for my transfer but he would drop me off and be there waiting. As I was getting in the car, I noticed 3 morning doves walking through our garden. It was the sign I needed that morning. Third time’s the charm. I couldn’t knock the smile off my face after that. Despite the fact that destructive fires were raging through my part of Southern California, my sister was evacuated from her home and it smelled horribly of smoke even outside of our own home, I was positive. Nothing was going to ruin this day for me.
When I got to the clinic, it was business as usual. Take my valium and I filled out all my forms etc and before I knew it I was back in the room getting ready. I always play music on my phone and this time I put on my Summer Salt playlist for some good vibes. The embryologist came in, shared good news about our thawed 4AB embryo and confirmed it was our last normal embryo. My doctor came in shortly after. A speculum, a catheter and a few quick minutes later and the embryo was in! Watching it on the screen happen via ultrasound is truly a sureal experience. And just like that, we did it. I had my lucky socks on keeping me cozy and I also brought a few ribbons with me from a gift as a good luck charm. Channeling hope and love through every moment. I had asked Blake if he could give me an affirmation each day after my transfer to keep my spirits high and keep my hopeful heart in the right direction. I didn’t know he was going to give me something on the day of my transfer but before I had walked in, he gave me my first affirmation from him and Otis. I got to open it as I sat alone waiting for the doctors and nurses to come in. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming”