Cycle Day 21: Monday, February 21, 2011
Introducing Bert and Ernie Marksberry – our new, bouncing blastocycsts. We named them Bert and Ernie because we thought they looked like Muppet googly eyes next to each other like that. Also we love Bert and Ernie and identify with them quite a bit (Randy is Bert, I am Ernie – it works on so many levels.)
See the “pupils” of the googly eyes? The dark spots? Those are what will become the fetuses if we are so lucky! The outer cells will become the placenta. We’ve only ever transferred blastocysts (as opposed to 8-cell stage embryos) once, and they had been cryopreserved (frozen), whereas these are fresh from the hatchery, giving them slightly better odds of making it. Keeping our fingers, toes, hair, arms, and legs crossed.
Now that you’ve met Bert and Ernie, let me tell you how they came to reside inside my uterus- it was a bit of a rocky start.
Our transfer was scheduled for 9:15 a.m. so I was on the edge of my seat until we left for the clinic, listening for a call from them which could only be bad news. I figured if none of our embryos made it to today they would call us before we left and tell us not to bother coming in. No one called so I felt pretty confident that we had at least one left to transfer. That fact, combined with our quickest wait yet before a transfer made for the least stressful pre-transfer time we’ve ever had.
Transfer day is quite a bit different than retrieval day. I’m allowed to eat and drink before hand (hence my granola bar on the way to the clinic) and I’m not sedated at all. Once they call us back, they take us to a little dressing room with lockers where Randy puts on scrubs, a hat, and booties and I put on my old favorite – a hospital gown, hat, and booties, and we leave all of our belongings in a locker. Then we walk back to a transfer room. Its bigger than a regular exam room but not as big as the retrieval room. The ceiling is painted blue with white clouds and it is always kept very warm – better for the embryos. I assume my post on the table and Randy takes up residence on a spinny stool and we chill out for the better part of a half hour while everyone gets all the moving parts in sync. This is the part that can get really dicey. Because you are asked to arrive with your bladder partially full – it makes the uterus easier to see on ultrasound. The problem is knowing how much to drink to strike that balance between partially full and ready to explode. Our first transfer I completely overdid it and had to go to the bathroom TWICE before the procedure, leading to some comical incidents that I may write about at a later date.
So for this – our 6th transfer – I didn’t worry too much about getting my bladder full. I figure its pretty full most of the time anyway, I’ll just behave normally and by the time the doctor is ready I’ll have a partially full bladder. Lying on the table waiting for the doc, my bladder didn’t feel too uncomfortable, but I didn’t really worry about it. Later I wish I had, because everything that usually goes smoothly during a transfer for us was all wonky, and I think it all ties back to the not-full-enough bladder.
Enter the nurse and….who’s that guy pretending to be my RE? A man I’ve never met before – a third RE who has just joined the practice is going to do my transfer. This throws me off my game. I tell myself it will be fine – that if they invited him into the practice he must be highly skilled and its okay that its different. But he is SO different. He doesn’t explain as much and his voice is hard for me to hear – it sounds muffled and I think he’s using a lot more technical terms than I’m used to. But he does say we have two great looking blastocysts to transfer and four more that can be frozen if they make it til tomorrow. Yay! He has the nurse start the ultrasound to find my uterus and it does not go well. It is no where to be found. He asks how full my bladder is. I say: “….somewhat?” Because really, how do you answer that question? The nurse pushes down on my abdomen with the ultrasound wand. The doctor adjusts the speculum. Still nothing. Did I ruin everything with my only somewhat full bladder? The nurse pushes down harder (she’s practically doing a handstand on my belly) and shifts a little and bam! There it is. The RE says its curved. What??? Curved??? Is this going to be a problem? I don’t ask because things seem tense.
In light of my curved and very sneaky uterus, the RE decides to do a practice transfer before doing the real thing. This is when he inserts an empty catheter into my uterus to practice the angle and depth he needs to use for the real thing – its important to get that right on the first try when you have little embryos in the cath. This has never happened before. I try not to panic. The RE has some troubles getting the right angle on the catheter the first time and has to try again. Did I mention that the exam table is steeply tilted so that my head is lower and that I am in stirrups and the entire bottom end of the exam table is dropped from beneath me (I can’t remember why – they always do this) AND that the nurse is still trying to flatten my stomach with the ultrasound? He gets it right and goes to the little window that connects the transfer room to the lab to ask for my embryos. We wait. Nothing happens. The nurse explains that they are having a hard time getting both embryos into the same pipette at the same time, because they were on opposite ends of the dish. I laugh because they are being difficult. The lab finally wrangles Bert and Ernie into the pipette and into the catheter they go. They are visible as a tiny point of light on the ultrasound right in the top center of my uterus. I think I even hear the nurse breathe a sigh of relief. They give the catheter to the lab so it can be checked under the microscope to make sure no naughty little embryos are still hanging out in there. Its clear.
Now in rapid succession the speculum comes out, the ultrasound is put away, the stirrups are lowered, the bottom end of the exam table raises back up to support my bottom end, the doctor is washing up, and the nurse tells me to rest here for a while. And then we are alone. And then the cramps start. I’ve never had cramping on transfer day. I think its from the handstand the nurse did on my abdomen. Its pretty severe. I’m shaking. I feel slightly nauseous. This has never happened before. I panic that the transfer didn’t go well – that my insides are all contracting and angry and its not a good place for the embryos. Randy thinks it went fine and tries to soothe me. After about a half hour the nurse comes back in and I tell her about my cramps. She says its normal – that we went in there and aggravated things that are already aggravated from the ovarian stimulation and the retrieval. She helps me up and leads us back to the dressing room where we change back into our “civies”. I’m moving at about 2 miles per hour because my abdomen is SO angry at me.
We return home with some burritos from Chipotle to nourish the little guys. I settle in on the couch for some hard core “quiet bed rest”. My insides are still seizing and the Chipotle brings on some wicked heartburn but I’m too chicken to take anything for either. I combat the ailments with sleep – and lots of it! Settle in, little B and E, and make yourselves at home. Please – this is your mother asking you nicely. 🙂