Today is big, like really big. If you are new here let me catch you up quickly. I’ve struggled with infertility for about 4.5 years. I’ve had six miscarriages, all from natural conception. I’ve done two egg retrievals and only had one embryo. Our embryo has been cryopreserved for a while. After nearly two years of medical and other issues come up (see Our Timeline), I am finally able to do this transfer. It’s been such a long, exhausting road but I am finally, finally here.
Entry written prior to posted date.
Catch up on my previous FET prep posts here.
What was it like to do an embryo transfer during COVID-19?
My husband was unable to take time off work to be with me. Even if he was here, he wouldn’t be allowed in the procedure room due to my clinic’s COVID-19 policy, that only allows the patient in the waiting room and procedure room. Plus I’m not here to do any sightseeing while COVID-19 is going on, and the numbers are much higher in Seattle compared to back home in Anchorage. I’m only staying inside the hotel other than going to my procedure. Essentially I’m self-isolating while in Seattle. My clinic requires all patients and staff to wear masks to that is reassuring.
I bought a plastic face shield from Amazon not too long ago and wore it on my flights. I felt a little safer wearing it, especially when I heard a lot of sneezing and some coughing coming from all parts of the plane. I wanted to take extra precautions if I become pregnant and to also protect my family members who are immunocompromised. My state requires a negative COVID test and/or 14-day quarantine once residents and visitors arrive in Alaska. I’m actually surprised that Seattle doesn’t have this in place, I’ve heard this is due to their recent decline in cases. But their overall numbers are a lot higher than back home. So when I go back home I will need to do a COVID test right there at the airport.
The Deathbed Test
Several years ago when I was conflicted on what to do about my infertility diagnosis, when my head and my heart were at odds, I decided to do the “deathbed” test. You’ve probably already heard of this, but if not, it essentially is a question you ask yourself. Imagine you are on your deathbed, thinking back on your choices in life. Ask yourself, “Will I regret not doing _______?” You can fill in the blank with whatever scenario you are currently debating. For me personally, I find that this is a great question to ask to get clarity.
I asked myself years ago, “Will I regret not trying to get reproductive assistance to have a baby?” For me, it was a lightning bolt of realization, a strong and resounding, “Yes, I will regret not trying.” Even if I try and try and I reach the point where I decide to stop, at least I can look back on my life and know I did everything possible to make it happen. So here I am now, doing all I can. There have been times where I’ve experienced extreme exhaustion physically and mentally form all of this, to the point where I question whether I will be able to continue if this doesn’t work. The outcome and timeline may not be what I want, but as long as I am making my best effort, I will be content.
Good Luck Charm
If you’ve been around the infertility block, you’ll know that embryo transfers are a time for hopeful traditions. It’s all in an effort to embrace the possibility that maybe your embryo will implant and you will become pregnant. Some of those include wearing colorful lucky socks with pineapples (symbol of fertility). Some socks say “IVF got this,” which doubles as a self-empowering statement, as well as telling others you are going through IVF with a hopeful heart. My personal favorite is the one that says “Sticky Vibes” with a smiling pineapple. There are also T-shirts made specifically for transfer day. People have seriously carved out an entire niche business around transfer day products.
With everything going on I’ve been so busy planning for my transfer that I forgot to order lucky socks or a shirt. But despite the plethora of socks and shirts to choose from, I decided to do a quicker and, as it turns out, a much more affordable option. I went to my local craft store, Michael’s, picked out a pineapple charm and attached it to a matching gold chain. Only three bucks, not too shabby. I decided to wear it on my transfer day, which you can see in my pictures further below.
Just Before the Transfer
I decided to take a couple pictures just before I left my hotel for my transfer. In these pictures it captures my gratitude for having made it this far as well as my hopefulness, that just maybe this will work. It’s a long shot, but I need to take it. I’m happy to have this opportunity. These pictures are of pure joy, despite not knowing what the future holds. I know I am doing all I can, with all I have.
After I downed 24 ounces of water between 1:00pm-1:30pm for my 2:00pm procedure, I was good to go. For your transfer most doctors recommend you come in with a full bladder which I’ve heard helps them see what’s going on better during the ultrasound when they do the transfer. I put on my necklace, snapped those quick photos to capture the moment, then I was on my way to the clinic.
As we pulled up to the clinic something unusual happened. There was a pedestrian trying to cross in front of my Uber. He was pushing a cart with a fully assembled office chair inside. Instead of slowly moving from the sidewalk to the road itself he pushed the cart hard and the office chair flew out of the cart and across the street. He started cursing as my driver had to completely drive into the other lane to get around him as he picked up his chair. The driver had to do this because there were cars quickly piling up behind us. My driver pulled further up beyond the man, who managed to get the chair back into his cart. Stay with me here, because all of this comes together with something that happens later.
I got out of my Uber, thanked the driver, and walked across the street to my clinic. The man with the cart is now yelling loudly, and although he is yelling I cannot understand anything he is saying. It sounds like fast-paced gibberish. I don’t know if he’s yelling at my driver, or me, or at the situation. I can’t make out anything he is saying. But he’s got his cart, the chair inside the cart again, and he made it across the street without getting hurt. No a big deal, other than maybe a slight blow to his ego. I open up the door to my clinic and make my way to the surgery center.
The way this building is set up there is a big open lobby area where no matter what floor you are on you can look down onto the lobby. So after I got off the elevator I was walking towards the surgery center. Just before I got to the surgery center door I heard a loud slam come from downstairs in the lobby. I glanced down and saw the man that had been on the street with the cart was now pushing the cart into the entrance door, struggling to get into the building while he was yelling. I could hear him all the way up on the fourth floor, across the whole building. In all honesty, I felt like it was none of my business, plus I had my procedure I had to get to on time.
I quickly signed a few papers in the surgery center and sat down in the waiting room. I could feel myself smiling and sighing with relief. I’m here, I’m finally here. After everything I’ve been through, this could actually work. I’m minutes away from my long awaited embryo transfer. I’ve waited almost two years for this moment.
A few seconds after I sat down another patient came in, a guy. At first I thought he was here to support his partner. But I heard the receptionist say something about his surgery to him. Ball surgery I thought to myself. Ouch. This surgery center strictly deals with reproductive issues. Granted I am woefully informed on male reproductive surgery options, other than testicular surgery where they can actually extract sperm if the man has problems producing sperm the good old fashioned way. I’m making assumptions about this guy, and I could be totally wrong. If you are reading this and you were that guy in the office I apologize if my assumptions were wrong.
Fire Alarm Goes off Just Before Transfer
Both he and I sat there quietly for about two minutes. Then I thought I saw a quick flash of light. Maybe the fluorescent light above us flickered briefly. A few seconds later I saw the bright flash again. This time I noticed the guy sitting across from me was looking up at the ceiling. I looked up to see what he was looking at. I realized he was looking at the silent fire alarm flashing for the third time now. No sound, maybe it’s a test. Then…waaaaaah, waaaaaah, waaaaa– “Are you for real?!” I shouted at the alarm. Here I was about to finally do my embryo transfer, and then of the all the moments for the fire alarm to go off it goes off now. What the actual f**k?!
Not knowing the circumstances I got up and evacuated with everyone else. We all filed down the emergency stairs and out of the building. I’m not sure how many people evacuated but there looked to be at least 50 people that evacuated. Initially I was feeling angry about the situation, but as soon as I stepped into the alleyway, I started to feel stress shoot through my body. I decided to call my husband and it helped to hear his voice as he tried to reassure me that it was probably a false alarm. But now I had so many questions come to me all at once. I posted about it on Instagram:
“Is my embryo sitting thawed out already? How long will it survive sitting there if it is thawed? Is this a false alarm or is the building really on fire somewhere?
I was stressed to the max.
My bladder was very full (needed for transfer).
I had no clue what would happen to my embryo.
Thirty minutes later the fireman gave the all clear. I overheard the staff say that it turns out someone pulled the fire alarm…” (Instagram @hopingforbabyblog)
I’m no detective, but I’m thinking the man who was yelling gibberish and slamming his shopping cart into the front door may have been the culprit. But I don’t know for sure, that’s my best guess though. What a fantastic day this is turning out to be. It’s truly the exact opposite experience someone should be having before their embryo transfer. You are supposed to be reducing your stress level, meditating, thinking happy thoughts, and all that s**t. All of that was out the window for me now.
I could still feel my heart pounding with anxiety when I got back into the office. I asked the receptionist right away, “Is my embryo okay? Was it sitting there thawed out?” She reassured me that it was not thawed out because they hadn’t called me back yet. Phew! Oh my God, I was literally minutes away from that scenario. When I got called back to the procedure room I saw my doctor in the hallway, she smiled and said, “Hey it could have been worse,” which is true I suppose.
I changed quickly in the procedure room and got into position in the super awkward exam table. This one is different from your typical table. This one splays out your legs so far that if you aren’t flexible it feels like you are going to break in half. No one told me I needed to be flexible for this procedure. “I don’t think I can bend that way” I jokingly told the sonographer. But I managed to make it work. “Are you okay?”she asked me. I laughed again and said, “Not really.” She adjusted the leg holders a bit inward. It was better, but not comfortable by any means. I guess it’s supposed to be that way for this particular procedure, not like with your annual exam.
The sonographer checked my bladder briefly to see if it was full enough. After this friggin’ fire alarm and waiting nearly an hour with a full bladder I felt super uncomfortable. But my bladder had to be full for the procedure. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram account later:
“Despite someone pulling the fire alarm right before my embryo transfer (see previous post), I was still able to do my transfer. And yes, I had to hold from going pee with a full bladder (required for transfer) while the fireman were inside for about 30 minutes.
When I was finally able to go back inside I only had one thing on my mind while they were inserting my embryo…”please don’t pee, please don’t pee, PLEEEASE!” I had to go so badly now that we were running late for my transfer.
Near the last few minutes I could feel my heart rate going down. They told me that because I hadn’t been called back when the alarm went off, they hadn’t thawed the embryo yet. So my embryo was perfectly fine just chillin’ in cryopreservation while I was nearly having a panic attack outside on the sidewalk.
The embryologist said my embryo looks “beautiful” and that it was hatching, which I’ve heard is a good sign. I was able to go to the bathroom right after the transfer, THANK YOU JESUS!
I cannot believe this happened today, but I’m even more surprised I was still able to do the transfer despite the situation. What a rollercoaster of emotions! Phew! Right now I’m just relaxing in my hotel.” (Instagram @hopingforbabyblog)
Before they transferred my embryo they handed me a card with a close-up photo of my embryo. They let me know my embryo was hatching and that it looked really good. I was so flustered from the fire alarm I didn’t think to ask what grade it was. But I figured it was good since they said it looked like a high quality embryo. It was amazing to see this embryo not only in the photo but also in real time. They let me know the embryo survived the thaw and they let me watch on the screen as the embryologist carefully sucked my embryo into the thin catheter. The embryologist walked over to my doctor, who then inserted the embryo inside me. Afterwards the embryologist examines the catheter to make sure the embryo is no longer inside and that it was successfully transfered. It only took a few minutes and it was over. I was looking at the photo of my embryo on the drive back to my hotel. Maybe this little embryo will turn into a pregnancy, that will turn into a live-birth. Maybe I will finally have a baby. I felt like my hope had been renewed.
I decided to hop on the bandwagon and participate in the fun tradition of eating McDonald’s French fries right after embryo transfer. If you ever wonder why women from the infertility community are happily posing on Instagram or Facebook with french fries after their transfer, the belief is that it may help with the embryo implanting. I don’t really buy into this theory. I just like french fries. I was most of the way through my fries and then I remembered I wanted to take a picture, just for funsies. I feel like I evened it out with a healthy salad later that night. It was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. If you are ever in Seattle, go to Joey Restaurant and order the Farmers Market Salmon Salad. Friggin’ amazing! Super healthy.
Will my Embryo Implant?
I’m happy that I was still able to do my transfer, but it was so stressful. I don’t know whether the high stress will impact the embryo implanting. You always hear fertility doctors saying that we need to do everything to be as relaxed as possible, so what will come of this situation. The only thing I can do is try to chill out at the hotel tonight and tomorrow morning. I leave on my plane tomorrow afternoon. Now I need to wait to see if my embryo implants or not. I’ll need to do a quantitative hCG blood test here soon. I’ll be posting more photos of my trip on Instagram here later.