The conversation at post-IVF debriefs with the doctor is basically "what did we learn and what will we do differently?" This time our doctor wanted to use higher doses of stimulation medications and do a 5-day transfer instead of a 3-day transfer. The 5-day transfer felt particularly hopeful to me. On IVF boards this debate can get pretty heated, but the basic idea is this: by spending more time in the lab and giving the embryos the chance to develop into blastocysts, you're increasing the odds that what you transfer back inside the uterus is as viable as possible. Some people also like to point out that the uterus is the natural home of blastocysts, whereas embryos are still in fallopian tubes at Day 3 during natural conception, so you're making a more biologically sound choice with a 5-day blastocyst transfer. Here's the downside: waiting five days in the lab means more of your embryos will die off, embryos that you might have otherwise implanted if you weren't doing a 5-day transfer. Now I'd argue that I'd rather know up front that these embryos weren't going to make it before transferring them, but others think each one has a shot, so you should give them a shot. To each her own. The bottom line with 5-day transfers is that you need more eggs to begin with, because fewer will make it to the blastocyst stage than they would the embryo stage.
Blastocyst or exotic flower?
Despite the huge amount of dread I felt going into this cycle, the stimulation drugs in February (even with the mega-high doses) didn't grind life to a halt. Sure, I had a huge belly ringed with bruises. Sure, I collapsed at the end of each day... hard. Sure, I was sick to death of needles. But like everything, you get through it. For me personally, being busy in times like these is a blessing. I worked a million hours and ran a huge public meeting while looking like I was pregnant and took the elevator a lot, but I made it. I looked up and it was March 1. Retrieval day. I donated twelve eggs to a really good cause. We breathlessly awaited lab reports, and by March 6, we had two perfect blastocysts ready to transfer and one left to freeze.
Some funny things about our March 6 transfer day: DC had a freak snowstorm that morning - gorgeous, hard-falling winter snow to make our way through to get to the hospital. We were placed in a different part of the clinic than ever before - something felt new and positive about that. We were both laughing a lot that morning. I remember that I was wearing green. The transfer was a breeze (always so simple compared with retrieval), and before I knew it, we were on our way home. The blood test was in nine days.
I don't know that I felt different that time. Symptom-wise, I felt the same as always - still bloated, still sore, still not quite myself. I held out as long as I could to take a home pregnancy test. On March 11, just five days after the blastocyst transfer, I saw something. Not a line, mind you, but a shadow of a line. By the next day there was no denying it - we had something real cookin'.
That's "6 days past 5-day transfer," for those of you who don't speak IVF
We got our blood test results Friday morning. By that afternoon we were en route to the Outer Banks to see my family, calling T's family on the way. It was completely, insanely surreal - we were three months shy of a full three years since we'd hoped to hear that news. We were giddy.