What’s Next for Us with IVF
After struggling with infertility and ultimately conceiving through IVF, we still have 6 embryos (icicle babies, snow babies… there are lots of cute names) that are frozen and waiting. Back in July 2016 when Rowan was just 9 months old, we started talking about having another child. Knowing it likely won’t just happen for us means growing our family is something we need to plan for and schedule. After all, there is testing and appointments that must be done in advance of every cycle, you can’t just call them up one day and say you want to get pregnant tomorrow.
In December 2015, the Ontario government started funding fertility treatments and it’s a program we are taking advantage of. The problem is that so many couples who previously ruled out IVF as an option due to the high cost have now lined up to apply for funding, making the wait lists up to 3 years at some clinics. A friend mentioned this to me and I got scared, knowing that we want to add to our family sooner than that. So I called our clinic and setup an appointment to meet with our new doctor and discuss the options.
Getting lucky (again)
Fortunately our clinic is one of many participating in the program and because we are planning a frozen cycle, the wait time is not as long as a fresh cycle. During our appointment in November, we met our new doctor (the previous one had retired) and discussed our plans. He informed us that the wait list for a frozen cycle was only 6 months – woo woo! – which coincided with our plans.
(For those who don’t know, a fresh cycle is what I went through to conceive Rowan. It involves daily injections, ultrasounds and blood work which lead up to an egg retrieval followed by an embryo transfer. If you’re fortunate enough to produce several healthy embryos, the remainder are frozen for use in future cycles. A frozen cycle is one where an embryo is thawed and transferred into the uterus, without the follicle stimulating hormones and egg retrieval process described above.)
Questions and more tests
Along with signing consent forms and filling out an application for the government funding, we had to go through a round of testing again. It was explained to us that since it’s been more than a year since we had it done last (yeah duh, because I had a kid!), everything needed to be done again. This meant a blood work panel for both of us, including infectious disease screening and extra checks on my thyroid function (because the clinic uncovered that I have Hypothyroidism during my last IVF cycle). Rich laughed at why on earth they needed anything from him because he has already “done his thing” and really wasn’t providing any more samples this time around. I also had to complete another Sonohysterogram which I was not looking forward to since last time it was quite painful for me (although I was happy to find out that apparently having a child vaginally “loosens up” your cervix which meant it was painless this time around!).
Planning a date
All of our results came back normal, our funding was approved, and we were given approval to go ahead and plan our next cycle. The clinic books only a certain number of cycles each month, and so you have to wait for them to tell you when you can start trying to have a baby – it’s a really weird place to be. The first option that came up was March which just felt a little too soon for us and besides, we wanted to get in a trip to Disney again! So we asked for May 2017 and that’s what we got!
Scheduling your child
Since December we’ve known that we were going to go back for our next round at the end of this month. I must say it’s strange to schedule your pregnancy like we have to do when using fertility treatments. It’s another way that infertility has taken control away from us and put into the hands of someone else. So since December, we have been telling people “oh we’re getting pregnant in May”. Super weird.
So this time around there are no injections, thank goodness! I have already picked up my prescription for Estradiol and have been instructed to take 8mg (4 pills) each day once my next period starts. Essentially this is an estrogen hormone pill that will help prepare my body for the embryo transfer. I’m not sure what to expect so I’ve been reading some articles and while the side effects aren’t nearly as crazy as what I’ve experienced before, they still don’t sound like fun. I’ve already warned Rich to expect me to be grumpy starting around the end of May.
On day 10 of my cycle, I’ll go into the clinic for an ultrasound and blood work that will determine if I’m ready to be booked for the transfer. If we get the green light, I’ll start my *favourite* Endometrin vaginal suppositories (ughhhhhhh) and the transfer will be scheduled for five days later.
Since our embryos were frozen on day 5 last time, thawing will happen the morning of our transfer. If the embryo they select survives the thaw (some do not), assisted hatching will be done to help ensure that it can embed itself in the uterine lining and grow. If it does not survive the thawing process, we will get a call that morning to ask if we want to thaw another one.
I’m supposed to skip breakfast and arrive at the clinic with a full bladder on transfer day (one of the joys many pregnant women know it being poked with an ultrasound wand while you’re about to pee your pants). The transfer will be done after they ask me a zillion times to verify my name and birth date (so they put the right stuff in there!) and we’ll watch on the screen as the embryo is placed into my uterus, we’ll get a picture, and be done. Then a two week wait until we know whether it stuck.
It’s not a sure thing
One thing I am continually reminded of is that even though we were very lucky last time and I became pregnant on the first round, that may not happen the same way this time around. This is a hard message to hear because I believe your mind controls a lot of things in your body and I want to keep a positive mindset. I worry that being reminded of this harsh reality might taint my body’s ability to become (and stay) pregnant. I’m also a believer in “everything happens for a reason” so it’s a tough place to be. I know that I have to be realistic because it might not work on the first try. We may have to do this a few times, or we may suffer a loss. Either way, I’m trying to stay hopeful and believe we will be successful.
Stick with me
So that’s what’s next for us and I hope you’ll stick around to follow us through this cycle. I’ll blog about it regularly and post updates and photos of the process (although thanks to the estrogen pills I may not be as cheery 😝).
Have you done a frozen IVF cycle and have some tips or words of encouragement for me? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!