The week leading up to our first embryo transfer was filled with excitement and stress, the latter of which is not ideal. Everyone tells you to reduce stress before a transfer, which makes feeling stressed all the more anxiety-producing. Let me explain.
We were excited about our transfer and, quite honestly, very hopeful that it would work. I was focused on eating healthy, making sure I don’t mess up the timing of the medications and simply mentally preparing myself for potentially entering into a new phase of life: pregnancy!
All was going well until Saturday night when our dog, Ivy, got sick. My dad was watching her and she was vomiting for two hours right before we picked her up. She has a history of stomach issues but has not had a flare up in well over a year, so this was awful timing. We had no idea if she ate something she shouldn’t have and was dealing with her normal issues or if she had a blockage. We took her home and she stopped vomiting, so we gave her some Gas-X, which has helped her in the past, and pulled out all our tricks to help her feel better.
Our dog is a 2 ½ year old wheaten terrier and this breed is notorious for getting the gulpies. It’s essentially extreme nausea and acid reflux that presents as frantically gulping anything in sight. We call it hoovering the floor and it’s truly awful to watch because she looks like she’s panicking. The only thing that calms her down is a car ride or being in her crate. Anyway, this isn’t a dog blog post so I’ll just say it was an incredibly stressful week with two separate vet visits, lots of new meds and trying anything to help her feel better.
I was not in the best mindset and knowing that I shouldn’t be stressed made it worse. Luckily, by Wednesday, the day before our transfer, she was starting to feel better. She wasn’t 100% but was well enough that I could relax a little and we could focus on the upcoming embryo transfer.
Ilan was able to be with me for the procedure, which I was incredibly grateful for. There’s no anesthesia required for an embryo transfer, just a relatively full bladder and a Valium. It’s a quick procedure and felt a lot like when I got my IUD put in. It was my doctor who performed the transfer and we got to watch on the screen as he placed the embryo inside my uterus.
They checked to make sure it was not accidentally still in the catheter and was actually placed where it should have been and confirmed my name multiple times to ensure it was the right embryo and the right patient. It was a little anticlimactic but we did get a photo of our embryo which made it feel a little more real. We also got Mcdonald’s fries after the transfer, per IVF tradition, and I hadn’t had those in many, many years.
After the transfer, there is the dreaded two-week wait before you are able to get the blood test to see if the embryo implanted and if you’re pregnant. Many women do multiple at-home pregnancy tests prior to the blood test, simply because the waiting is too stressful, but the doctors don’t recommend it and I wanted to try to wait.
I lasted 9 days without testing, just hoping I was pregnant. On day 9, the Saturday before our Monday blood test, I decided to test at home. If it was negative, I wanted to be able to prepare for the outcome from the blood test and if it was positive, I wanted the first time experience of seeing it on an at-home pregnancy test before having the nurse tell me.
Well, we used two different at-home pregnancy tests and both were a very clear negative. Not even a semblance of a line. I had absolutely no symptoms so I would have been surprised if I was actually pregnant but that doesn’t change the disappointment. While technically it could have still turned into a positive over the next couple days, it was unlikely, and we accepted that reality.
Our first blood test was that Monday morning and by the early afternoon, we received the call from my nurse confirming that it was negative. My HCG was 0, which meant that the embryo didn’t implant at all. We wanted to understand the situation better, as our doctor had given the transfer an estimated 80% success rate, so we set up a consultation with him the following day.
It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and we had our virtual consultation with our doctor. He explained that because the embryo didn’t implant at all, it means that there was something wrong with the embryo and my body did what it was supposed to do. He said there is no indication that I won’t be able to carry a pregnancy so he’s confident that we should try again with the same protocol and another embryo. While that was good news, I still felt sad that the first transfer didn’t work and quite frankly, tired. We decided to think it over and let him know when we’re ready to try again.