We’ve come to the final step in our journey. The step that makes the last few weeks worthwhile and gives me a chance to become pregnant. That step is the embryo transfer.
After egg collection when the eggs have been fertilized they develop into embryos. As I mentioned before, seven of my fertilized eggs developed into embryos. In a normal IVF cycle embryos are transferred to the uterus three days after egg collection. In some cases the patient can choose to wait until five days after egg collection when the embryos have had a chance to reach the blastocyst stage. This stage allows the embryos to develop more fully and for the embryologists to choose the best embryos for transfer. An embryo has to develop into a blastocyst in order to implant into the uterus and continue developing. Only about 25-60% of embryos will progress to the blastocyst stage.
If you’ve been following along you might remember that the council I pay taxes to is in charge of funding my IVF cycles. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where the council will fund up to three cycles for woman aged 39 or younger. The only thing they won’t fund is blastocyst transfer. The cost to wait the extra days for the embryos to develop more fully is £550 ($845). Although not a small sum of money, we decided that after going through all that we had we wanted the best possible chance of conceiving so we paid the £550. After letting the embryos develop for two extra days three of the seven had developed into blastocysts and we were ready for the transfer.
The morning of the transfer we chatted with an embryologist about the quality of the embryos and how many we wanted to transfer. In the UK doctors are only allowed to transfer up to two embryos for women aged 39 or younger and up to three for women 40+. We had lots of questions about the chances of getting pregnant with only one embryo vs. two and the chances of conceiving twins or a singleton with two embryos. Many factors play a part in a woman’s chance of conceiving via IVF like age, general health, quality of embryos, normal cycles, etc. We were given a bunch of stats (of which most I can’t remember now because I was very nervous) but the most important was that I have about a 35% chance of conceiving. We took a few minutes by ourselves to discuss how many we wanted to transfer (which I’m keeping a secret), I got a little emotional, we told the embryologists our decision and then I got ready for the transfer.
Embryo transfer is very much like a smear test (my female readers will know what this is) and it only takes a few minutes. I had to change into a hospital gown, Charles into a lovely paper bodysuit. We walked into the room where the deed was done, Charles got to see the embryos appear in my uterus on the scan monitor and then I was wheeled into the recovery area where I had to lay on my back for 20 minutes. The only part of the procedure that was uncomfortable was that I had to have a VERY full bladder in order for the doctor to correctly place the embryo in my uterus. After the 20 minutes were up we were sent home with a pregnancy test and instructions on when to take it. Simple as that.
So… we have a few more days left before we can take the test to see if it worked. The waiting is horrible! Will I be or won’t I be has been an all-consuming thought for the last several days. I can’t wait to find out, but I am also dreading the results. As one friend has said, please send me all the good mojo you can, because I sure as heck need it right now.
To read the whole IVF story go here.