Ok, little embryos... you've been hanging out in that dark, special-medium soup for three days now. If we were doing a three-day transfer you'd already be in my uterus, and I'd be that once-wonderful, now-terrifying Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise state.
But, we're holding out for blasts, so you're still in the dark.
And so are we.
It's like a practice run on the two-week-wait--will I be able to keep sane and busy and not drive myself crazy? Because right now, I have not received word on our little embryos since Saturday, when we got our fertilization report. As of then, 15 fertilized eggs were starting to divide and work their magic, 4 of Bryce's and 11 of the donor's. Are there still 15 in there? I doubt it. How many are left, still dividing and making their way from 8-celled to morula? For reference, here is a cool chart I lifted from www.maxhealthcare.in/newsletter/2010/january. I hope I cited it ok, because it is really awesome and if I drew it myself it would be a hot, hot mess.
Previously, we have done all of our fresh transfers at the other clinic at the 3-day point, when most of them were 8 celled (but we occasionally had a 6 or 7 celled embryo in the mix as well). Then the rest were left to keep dividing to the 5-day mark and frozen at the 6-day mark. When we did our DE cycle, we actually had fresh blastocysts, which was novel! Then we had three to freeze at the 6-day mark, but only one looked good upon thaw.
Newer research shows that blastocyst transfers are the best way to go. We heard it over and over from our second opinions and all the internet research I did for other clinics that are well-known. On the flip side, I know people who transferred one lonely 2-day embryo for fear it wouldn't make it to Day Three and that embryo is now a toddler. So, it doesn't mean that earlier transfers are a waste of time. However, overwhelmingly, the research shows that making it to blast is a chromosomal hurdle. If an embryo can make it to blast, it has more going for it in terms of normality and possibility of implanting. CCRM actually said that they don't consider embryos who don't make it to blast as likely to do anything, so they only do blast transfers. Success rates are apparently higher with blast transfers, too.
Here's the downside though -- you lose a fair number of embryos when you wait for blasts. You can start out with 15, and end up with 2-4. We are hoping for a 40-60% blast production, which would leave us with up to 10, but somehow I think that's hoping for too much. I would be ecstatic with 6, because that would give us two FETs after our fresh transfer. But it could very well be less.
The biggest fear is that we don't end up with anything from the Bryce Batch. We're only starting out with 4, and historically speaking we have quite the attrition rate with our own materials. While I'm feeling great that a full 75% of my eggs fertilized (GO EGGS!), I feel guilty because we don't have a whole lot of faith left in our sperm. After 5 fresh transfers using our own sperm, the attrition rate plummets and we don't know if a new lab will make up for whatever it is that's going on. The last SA that we have showed higher numbers than ever, which is fantastic! Except our morphology was <1% normal. Which is not fantastic. I am not a morphology expert, so if you are and can explain this better please leave a detailed comment below, but I'm pretty sure the wonky-shaped sperm have a higher rate of being chromosomally abnormal. But, I'm not sure if they can even fertilize, so maybe our Fantastic Four are in the clear on that score. I could look up all our old numbers, either in my trusty notebook or my old blogs, but I am refusing to do that. What possible good could it do to know our historical rates of crappiness, when we have so many changed variables? I am really attempting to be more in the present with this cycle.
And so I am sitting on my hands and refusing to call the clinic to find out what's up with our little dividing babylings. When I spoke to the doctor who did the retrieval on Saturday, he said that they really don't like to look at them hardly at all because it can disrupt things. So no news is good news. We may not get any updates until Wednesday morning, the morning of transfer, which is REALLY HARD TO WRAP MY HEAD AROUND. I am used to getting an update on a more regular basis, but maybe all that peeking meant my embryos weren't as robust as they should have been. I am going to let it lie. Even though that is REALLY HARD. I want to know. But, what good has knowing done in the past? Still no baby... so maybe embracing the not knowing is to embrace the mystery of this whole process. Even with everything we do know about how to help babies come to be, there is still so much we don't know and may never know about the mysteries of implantation. So we wait. Until we have the REAL wait.
And that REAL wait is a bit longer here. They don't count from retrieval. They count from transfer. And it's a longer number than I'm used to. So I will be waiting a really, really, really long time for my beta. Like, a how-can-I-resist-peeing-on-that-stick-I-have-hidden-in-the-back-of-the-bathroom-cabinet long time. I am going to need some strategies. Plus school is out after next Thursday, and so I won't have as much to keep me busy. Maybe I can just sleep through the what feels like THREE weeks of waiting. Maybe they can put me in a little coma so I can wake up and find out if I'm pregnant or not. I dreamed I was last night, and while that's encouraging by a smidgen, it's just a dream. That I hope becomes reality, but it was a lovely dream while it lasted.
The last piece to today's post is my new addition to my protocol. Speaking of being in a coma throughout my wait, I am apparently to take 25 mg of Bena.dryl THREE TIMES A DAY starting tomorrow. Apparently, this is a protocol that came out of Colorado and then was swiped by a New Jersey clinic and now has been appropriated by my doctor to try on me. The thought is that with patients with recurrent implantation failure (me, me, me), maybe there is an inflammatory response that can be mitigated with the antihistimine. And in the cases where they've done the weird allergy med treatment, there have been increased pregnancy success rates. Very strange, not gonna lie. BUT, it kind of makes sense. I am ridiculously allergic when it comes to my skin. I have broken out into hives that covered my entire body with just the wrong detergent. When my cat's claws get me, no matter how superficial, I get this raised bubble around the scratch. I am allergic to Bryce's beard. That's right, as awkward as it is to imagine how this might come to pass, when his beard touches my skin I break out immediately into big, puffy, angry hives. Sometimes I get hives and I have no idea what I've touched. Air? Could I be allergic to air? My first acupuncturist said I had "very high histimines," so I guess that makes sense. Plus, not to overshare or anything, but I have that really gross Geographic Tongue thing. Go look it up, it's not horribly gross but not the most beautiful thing in the world either. I find that when my body is under stress, my tongue acts up and gets all uneven and sensitive. The "raw" patches FEEL raw and like I've eaten about 5 atomic sourballs in a row. I can't tolerate acidic foods like orange juice. When I stim and I'm on all the fertility meds, my tongue acts up. When I'm sick, my tongue acts up. When I'm stressed, my tongue acts up. I've always wondered but have been unable to find any correlation between my tongue and allergy or autoimmune responses. Because, I've got that whole Celiac thing, too. Inflammatory is my middle name. So yeah, sure--pump me up with Bena.dryl until 6.5 weeks of pregnancy, why not? If it gets me pregnant, I will be thrilled.
And conversely, if it's the BENAD.RYL THAT GETS ME PREGNANT, I may shit myself. That would be so crazy that one of the fixes could be an over the counter drug that helps Bryce to get to sleep on insomniac nights.
And it makes me nervous. Will I be Sleeping Beauty for these couple of weeks? How am I going to DRIVE? It doesn't affect me as hardcore as it does Bryce, but I do still get sleepy. Will I get used to it? I have to start the regimen tomorrow, and tomorrow is my first day back to school AND a marathon day -- full day of school plus the 8th grade awards ceremony from 7:30 to as late as 9. I AM IN TROUBLE. I figure I can take my first dose after I get to school, so I don't have to worry about sleepy morning driving. Then though I'm screwed for the afternoon. Tomorrow I'm crashing at a friend's house between school and ceremony, but what will I do Friday? Or all the days next week when I have to be in school, cleaning up/ closing up shop/ prepping for next year??? SO CRAZY. I will let you know how it goes. Hopefully I don't end up the narcoleptic teacher who gets drawn on with sharpies the last day of school.
Wish me peace to make it through these days with my sanity intact. Wish me the serenity to NOT bomb the phone lines of my clinic with calls begging for info on our miniature progeny's progress. Wish me the ability to stay awake while I'm bombarded with massive amounts of benad.ryl. I'm going to try my best, but in the meantime, I'm going to nap. Because it makes the waiting time less.