Hello and welcome to the next post in my IVF series!
Do you know what’s a weird thing about infertility? You cannot wait to start your period. In a “normal” setting this is the exact opposite of how you feel, because you hope your period never comes. That is not the case with IVF. I was expected to start my period between 5-7 days after my egg retrieval and as bizarre as it is, I could not wait. Because that meant we could begin the next part of the process and prepare for our Frozen Embryo Transfer or FET.
Some clinics do fresh transfers, which is when an embryo is transferred into the uterus 3-5 days after egg retrieval. Chris and I decided to do a frozen transfer (FET) for several reasons. One: This is what our doctor recommended. We trust him completely and he wanted to give my body a chance to return to normal after all of the hormone injections and egg retrieval. Two: It takes between one and two weeks to receive PGS testing results, which automatically rules out a fresh transfer. Chris and I were happy with our decision to do a frozen transfer, but we were anxious for things to get started.
A few days after my egg retrieval, aunt flow came and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see her. I notified our fertility nurse and she started me on birth control pills again. I elaborated on how important birth control is to the IVF process in THIS post, but in case you missed it, basically timing is crucial with IVF and birth control allows everything to be timed. It also shuts down the ovaries because at this point in the process, we didn’t want my ovaries doing anything. We are completely focused on my uterus and making sure everything looks great there so my ovaries just need to be quiet in the background.
I was scheduled to be on birth control for 3 weeks then start more injections. A few days later another fun medication package arrived.
After I finished my birth control pills, I did one injection per day in my stomach over the next 4 weeks. That medication basically continued to keep my ovaries quiet. A frozen embryo transfer is definitely a marathon, not a sprint so if you are going through this process, don’t be shocked if your FET calendar looks way more involved than your egg retrieval calendar. I was pretty surprised when I got mine!
After doing injections for two weeks, I was scheduled to go to the doctor to see how things were looking. At this appointment, they want to see quiet ovaries and a quiet uterus. Thankfully, everything looked good for me! I had a small ovarian cyst but that’s normal after IVF. A needle goes into each follicle which can cause some to fill up with blood afterward, forming a cyst. Since my cyst was small it was nothing to be concerned about and we could continue with our cycle as planned.
The next day I started taking estrogen pills, along with my daily injection. I took 1 pill two times a day at first, then increased it to 3 times a day. Estrogen is used to grow the uterine lining to a healthy thickness so an embryo can (hopefully) implant! I went back to the doctor after 10 days of estrogen for a check-in. My doctor wanted my uterine lining to be at 8mm and it was at 7.2mm, which was too low. He wasn’t concerned because he started me on a low dose of estrogen. Our doctor doesn’t want to over-medicate if it’s not necessary so basically this told him that I needed more than the minimum amount of estrogen. He prescribed estrogen patches, in addition to the estrogen pills I was taking, and wanted me to come back in 3 days for another lining check. He mentioned possibly having to push back our transfer, which caused an emotional breakdown on my part. I’m sure I’m not the first person to cry in the exam room at the fertility clinic. This process is just SO hard. It’s such a roller coaster.
I started estrogen patches that day and researched every natural remedy for thickening uterine lining I could find. The main one that kept popping up was drinking pure pomegranate juice (POM) so of course I bought some and drank 1 cup a day as the internet told me to do. It might sound ridiculous, but I was desperate, and trust me, you would be too in this situation. All of your hopes are hanging on a healthy uterine lining that your embryo can implant into.
Chris and I went back to the doctor 3 days later and crossed our fingers. We got the great news that my lining was at 8.2mm and we could continue with our transfer as planned! We were both very relieved. Chris also got instructed on how to do my next round of shots because he would be giving them to me. I was scheduled to start Progesterone in Oil injections the next day and I had been nervous about those shots for months. They are intramuscular shots which means they are given with a long, 1.5 inch needle directly into muscle. Any guesses which muscle these have to be injected into? If you guessed that area between my hip and my butt, then you are correct. Since that is an awkward angle for me to try and inject them myself, Chris had to do my PIO shots. Husband of the year!
The next day was my last Lupron injection and my first Progesterone in Oil shot. Would you be surprised if I told you I cried before this one too? I was SO nervous. That is a big needle and I was scared it was going to hurt. I put a lidocaine patch on my hip/butt about 30 minutes before we had to do the injection, hoping it would numb things up just a little bit. And I think it did. Chris was such a pro. He was calm, cool, and collected and gave me my shot without flinching. He is seriously the best! I’m not going to lie, it did hurt a little bit, but it honestly wasn’t terrible. And I was so happy to have the first one done!
We started PIO shots exactly 5 days before our transfer which was scheduled for Wednesday, August 22nd. And if everything went as we hoped it would, Chris would be giving me a shot in the butt every day for the next 2.5 months. Our fingers were crossed!
Stay tuned to find out how our frozen embryo transfer went!