Posts Tagged ‘FET’

The Wide World of Frozen Embryo Transfers


Oooo, I know! I know the benefits of transferring a 5 day blastocyst!

A few months ago, some of you may have read my post, “IVF 101.” As my husband and I are getting ready to embark on a FET (or Frozen Embryo Transfer), the questions have again started to surface. 

So, what is a FET? Many people wonder if it is related to In Vitro Fertilization, how the embryos are frozen, and why anyone would do something so weird in the first place. So here is your answer – the fertilized eggs are kept in your freezer. I keep mine in an old popsicle box. When you are ready to use them, you thaw them for 24 hours and……yes, I am totally kidding. 

Frozen Embryo Transfer can be the result of a couple things. First, and in my case, you have gone through an IVF cycle but were unable to transfer the fertilized egg or blastocyst. This is usually due to ovarian overstimulation. If you cannot transfer right away, you need to freeze the eggs so you can use them at a later time when you have a better chance of success. You may also have to do a FET if your last transfer was unsuccessful, or you are using a donor egg. There are other reasons, but you get the picture. 

The Freezing 

When it comes time to freeze, you will have either fertilized eggs (embryos) or blastocysts. A blastocyst is a five-day or older embryo that has started to experience cell division. Should they need to be frozen, they are paired up in twos – like at the Ark – and placed in a little cryopreservation tube. This process will cost you a good amount of cash, so go ahead and ask to see the pictures of your embryos before freezing if possible. Also make sure you know how many you have and what each one is graded (meaning quality). It’s nothing weird like naming them or anything, it is just being an informed patient. You worked really hard to get these embryos, so make sure you are comfortable with what is happening. 

When it is time to freeze, the tubes are placed in cyclinders of liquid nitrogen, which keeps them in a static state. They remain alive, but the cells will not continue to divide until they are thawed. It does take some time to get used to the concept, because theorectically you could freeze some eggs tomorrow and thaw them out in ten years time to implant. 

This is NOT how you will freeze your embryos.

 Your mind will start to think about all sorts of philosophical, scientific, religious, spiritual, hypothetical circumstances and scenarios at this time. It’s normal. After all, you are most likely still pumped with drugs. So to clarify, these are embryos. Yes, they are amazing and beautiful, but they are not little humanoid creatures. Just saying. Some people are not sure. WE ARE NOT FREEZING BABIES HERE, PEOPLE. This is not that out there. 

OK. Moving on. 

The Transfer 

Once you are ready to attempt conception, you will begin preparing your body for implantation. For some people that mate normally this consists of a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris and one too many cocktails. In your case, its time to dust off your trusty dusty needle kit. Yep – you are back to about 4 weeks of shots and pills and shots and pills and blood work and ultrasounds and shots. Oh yeah, and pills. Basically what you are doing is allowing your uterine lining to grow thick and healthy. Without this, and without sufficient progesterone, your embryo will be unable to implant and sustain itself after transfer. And that would just be sad. So you go through a much easier yet still needley version of what you did when you grew all the eggs in the first place. 

Once your uterine lining looks good and your blood work looks good, you are a go! By the way, the normal “compliments” that you used to revel in are not so coveted now. Instead of “cute shoes” (you will be living in flip flops and slippers) or “have you lost weight” (you are going to get some chunk, so just go with it), you now light up when you hear “Your lining looks great!”  

I love you, healthy uterine lining!

At this stage the embryologist will review the egg’s quality with you and choose which tube to thaw. I am actually not sure how they do this, I imagine they just set it out on the counter and head to Starbuck’s, but I have not asked. The morning that you come in for your transfer you will decide how many babies-t0-possibly-be you will transfer. Single Embryo Transfer is becoming quite popular, and if we have a very healthy one we may go this route. Regardless of how many you have decided to use, you will come in that day on valium. This is not so that you agree to go ahead and put 6 back because, hell, they’ll be adorable. This is so that when the embryo is being introduced into the womb you will not cramp. If you cramp, you may actually hurt the chances that the embryo can implant and begin to grow. Think about it – when you are settling down to go to sleep at night, exhausted, and then your spouse hugs you REAL TIGHT you cannot get comfy, right? He may even push you out of the bed. With valium, your body just responds better to a skinny straw being threaded into your itty bitty cervix. 

The Wait 

By this point, you have gone through a lot. In my case, it  took about 6 months to grow the eggs, get them out and fertilized, get them frozen, and prepare my body for our upcoming transfer. Once the embryo / embryos are in, you just have to chill out and take it easy for a couple weeks. I think that AVOIDING the home pregnancy tests would be wise in this case. Often times they take intially, but just as in nature, don’t last more than a few days. So it is better to just bite the bullet and wait for the blod test at the doctor’s office. You can avoid possible heartbreak this way. Either way, having it not work is hard regardless. Nothing about this process is emotionally easy. 

I hope that clarifies what FET is. There is no scary little man in a florescent, sterile lab. Oh wait, yes there is. Sorry. But he’s there to help your embryos grow, so if people ask you about this weird Frozen Embryo process, let them know the deal. 

Peace and Love, 

Sarah

Selective memory is my red bull!


Well hello there, Stranger! I feel as if I am coming out of a deep and contemplative hibernation, and am now seeking to rejoin the ranks of society.  

Is my hair OK?

I hope people still read this – if you are reading this I love you! I think I got tired of waiting for new developments and realized that, if the inspiration does not strike, don’t post anything. And since no one pays me to do this, I can do what I want. Fabulous.  

Today I actually did have a rendezvous scheduled at my fertility clinic. We are finally (insert song of the angels here) ready to transfer one or two of our magnificent little frozen people-to-be into the womb! I have these little imaginings that inside me there is perfect and pristine mini-human apartment decked out with a comfy sofa, a year’s worth of formula, and a bad ass rocking swing, but no inhabitants. Kind of like when that guy woke up from a coma in 28 days later, but much less creepy and without the flesh-eating zombies. So I was really jazzed to go to my appointment today because I thought it would go something like this:  

Nurse Lady: Hello, it has been so long……Sarah, you look incredible!  

Me: Oh, aren’t you sweet!  

Nurse Lady: Everything looks great for transfer, let’s do it first thing tomorrow! And by the way, don’t worry about those sly little charges that come up. It’s just a joy to have you in the office. Now let’s get you pregnant!   

Of course, it was pretty much the opposite. A long protocal of lots of pills, more shots, confusion over which needles and syringes I need, and an ETA of LATE SEPTEMBER OR EARLY OCTOBER for transfer. Am I on that Bloopers show?  How did I forget all these steps?  

So, this gets me thinking….do we subconsciously elect to have selective memory? And if we do, do women do it more than men? Here is why I ask: My friends that have been pregnant tell me about “baby brain” during pregnancy – they sometimes lose the capacity to talk, walk without falling, tie their shoe, or count change.  One of my friends was so entertaining to her husband that he contemplated keeping her pregnant into possible perpetuity. (No, he’s not a sexist asshole, he was just kidding. Calm down.) These friends of mine have mentioned to me that this happens so that women do not remember the whole of the pregnancy experience – swollen feet, things you need Preparation H for, cravings for food that Andrew Zimmern would not eat, and so on and so forth. (Pretty smart thinking, God.) So what if this instinctual and automatic little memory glitch is something we learn to hone, like early man with his evolving stone tools? They just kept getting bigger and crazier and now they’re machine guns. Do we do this so that we can keep on enjoying the awesomeness of being a woman without focusing on the undesirable parts? But wait, men do it, too! Maybe somewhere along the line we all possess the ability to harness this temporary lack of recollection. Like Memento, but selective. You keep going to work every day, because the reward of a paycheck pushes away the fact that your desk chair has been broken since January. So I am going to proactively use selective memory to keep me going. Which is great because you shouldn’t drink Red Bull when your trying to procreate. 

And so I am done being crabby (well, for today anyhow) and am once again getting excited.  I hope all of your journeys are progressing well….keep me posted!  

Peace & Love, 

S

Cryopreservation – The Final Frontier


Today was transfer day. The day that they put one or more embryos back into the uterus. This day feels special for IVF couples because it is the day that you are possibly welcoming your new baby into your family. But we knew in the back of our minds, due to my OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome), that we might have to postpone. And we did. And it was sad.

My doctor told me that, with the enlargement of my ovaries and the amount of free fluid squirming around my pelvis region (which is just TMI, I know) that he could pretty much guarantee a long and possibly dangerous hospital stay should I become pregnant. When he mentioned patients who needed to be drained or intubated, we had pretty much resigned ourselves. I do not want to begin a pregnancy on life support, because if I am put in a ward like I was last week I might pull my own plug. Of course I teared up when I realized today was not The Day, but apparently this is not uncommon and we can move forward in a month or so when things have cleared up. But….. I saw pictures of the blastocysts! And I’m not getting all weird, I know they are not little humans yet, but we have 6 to 9 really pretty blastocysts hanging around. If you are not familiar with what a blastocyst is, you used to be one, so I shall explain.

A Blastocyst is a fertilized egg about 5 days after the fertilization. The cells have divided and other things have happened that will allow it to implant into the uterus once it is released from the fallopian tube. (Or in my case, the scary long catheter.) I know that is not very scientific, but Wikipedia called it a “parasite” before it rambled into something that would bore you and make you stop reading my blog. And we can’t have that.

So, we had to have our little bundles of hopes and dreams frozen. As in cyropreserved. Very Deep Space Nine, very Austin Powers talking about all things “quasi-futuristic.” And there is a little Russian Roulette involved in that, because they do not all make it out of thaw. It also makes me wonder if my kids will have a natural predisposition towards things like the Polar Bear Club, ice hockey, snow cones, the Ice Capades or igloos. But mostly it just makes me feel like I was forced to decrease my chances just a bit this round. I still feel in my heart one of those blastocysts will one day be waking me up at 3:47 am, but sometimes patience sucks. Even though patience and I have had to become BFFs.

So, I am curious to know what other folks do when you want to pamper yourself and tend to your wounds for the day. I still had to stay home from work in recovery, and I nursed mine by laying on my tookus all day and catching up on two seasons of Weeds I have missed. Watching the story of a woman whose 14 year old son has orgies and delivers fatal blows to folks with a croquet mallet of some sort made my issues look real, real small. Still, my mom is out of the country and I can’t call her, so I did not have the motherly words of comfort I so desired. I turned to slothlike laziness and emotional eating.

Now tomorrow, as a result from the nasty OHSS, I will return to work looking like I have a fat baby in my belly without having a baby in my belly and I am just going to have to deal.

Hope you guys are ready to learn about Frozen Embryo Transfer in the weeks to come…..

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