IVF stands for in-vitro fertilization. In this process, the egg is fertilized outside of the body in a lab. Then, an embryo is transferred back into the uterus. IVF bypasses the fallopian tube piece of conception.
For IVF, I took birth control pills (no placebo pills) for a couple months to prepare my body. Ironic, right? Here I was trying to get pregnant, and the doctor prescribed birth control! In June, I stopped the birth control and started daily hormone injections of Follistim and Menopur. Interesting fact – Menopur is made from the urine of menopausal women. Both of these drugs stimulated follicle growth by giving my body some extra FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). The Menopur added some LH (lutenizing hormone) which is said to improve egg quality. By the way, it burns!
Halfway through the “stimming” I started taking Ganirelix which basically held those eggs in their follicles. Here’s the way I understand it. Your follicles grow and help the eggs within them mature. There is a lead follicle that grows faster than the others and is ready to release before the rest of the bunch. When it gets ready to release the egg (and initiate ovulation), the body releases LH which shuts the other follicles down. It’s like the lead follicle says, “I won. You others might as well give up.” And they do. Because we needed a good crop of eggs, the Ganirelix was administered to hold those eggs in place. Ganirelix is a tricky little shot. My reaction 5 seconds after the injection was, “That wasn’t bad at all.” My reaction after 30 seconds…well, the picture is pretty self-explanatory.
Like with IUI, I had to take a trigger shot of hCG. Since this was our first hip injection and because it had to be administered at a certain time, we got some help from my Aunt Kim, a nurse.
Ten eggs were retrieved from my ovaries. I was under anesthesia for the retrieval. I won’t go into detail about how the eggs are retrieved. Just know it involves a needle and stirrups. Later that day, three eggs were fertilized conventionally and seven using ICSI. The conventional method involves putting the troops in a petri dish with the egg and letting what happens in the body naturally happen in the dish. ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. That means one lucky, good-looking troop member is injected into the egg. Nine of the eggs successfully fertilized.
After the retrieval, I started taking PIO (Progesterone in oil) injections…in the hip. The progesterone helps get your uterine lining ready for implantation. The first shot was pretty rough, but I think it was because we were both nervous. Plus I’m pretty sure Brennen nicked a nerve! After that, he got the hang of it, and was administering PIO like a pro.
The lab continued to monitor the embryos as they grew and their cells divided. Five days after the retrieval, one embryo (technically a blastocyst) was transferred into my uterus via catheter. A blastocyst consists of more cells than you can count. When the lump of cells breaks out of the blastocyst’s shell, the outer cells become the placenta, and the inner cells become the baby. It’s truly amazing to think about.
Unfortunately, our blastocyst didn’t become the baby we were hoping for, and our other eight embryos didn’t grow and divide well enough to survive.