Endo and Embryos

Note: Embryo pictured is not ours…it’s a random bunch of cells that could potentially have turned into a person that I pulled from Google.

Did you know you can have writer’s block even when you’re writing about your own life? Maybe it’s work being insane right now, maybe I’ve been dealing with a bit of anxiety/mild-to-moderate depression about all things IVF, or maybe any creative juices I ever had in my body have dried up like my ovaries are…I dunno!  It’s taken me a bit to finish this post, but here you go!

Oh, also…”Endo” is what the women in the endometriosis community call it. At first, I felt like a bit of a fraud talking about endometriosis because I’ve never had the pain many women with Endo suffer from, buuuuut my endometrium going all Spider-Man in my lower abdomen is making it hard for us to have a child so I no longer feel that way.  So, #EndoStrong, y’all!

Friday, January 18th

At last check-in many moons ago, I had just had an egg retrieval on January 17th and we were waiting to find out how many of my five eggs were successfully fertilized and then waiting to see if they mature into six-or-more-formed-cell embryos. IVF is *a lot* of waiting. Dr. TT told us we would receive a call the next day to hear how many of my eggs successfully GOT IT ON with Scott’s sperm (sorry, immaturity). A lot of people are present when their potential future child is conceived, but not Scott and me! We like to go to work and carry on with our days while our potential future child grows in a lab across town in Redondo Beach.

Before I knew my egg retrieval was going to be on January 17th, I signed up for a volunteer opportunity at work on Friday, January 18th…the day I’d receive the call on the successful/unsuccessful egg-to-sperm pairing. The even better part? The volunteer opportunity was reading stories written by children and writing them notes of encouragement for their storytelling.  Yeaaaaa…I’m not the smartest emotional cookie sometimes. I’m chilling with a bunch of coworkers, reading adorable nonsensical stories written by 3rd graders, and holding back all my emotions as I wait for the call from the lab. Smack in the middle of the volunteering, I get the call and run out of the room to take it.

Friday, January 18th – Day 1 of Potential Baby Martin Forming in a Lab in Redondo Beach:

Three eggs showing positive signs of fertilization! YAY! The lab is monitoring a fourth egg which is showing initial signs of fertilization but isn’t as far along as the other three. The fifth egg is just a dud. 

Whew! It was much easier to continue reading little kids’ stories around coworkers knowing we had positive signs of fertilization. I never really know when to take off from work or not during all of this IVF stuff.  I don’t want to waste a ton of PTO days on tests and scary phone calls because what if I do get pregnant and need those days later this year for, like, pregnancy things? I know we still have a long way to go just for maternity leave and all things being a lady entails here in the U.S., but I’ll vote for any candidate who proposes Infertility Leave in the future! It’s a lot of tests, a lot of emotions, and a lot of times you do not feel like being at work while you wait to hear if you’re ever going to have a child or not! But, ob-la-di, ob-la-da…life goes on…

The next call would be on Day 3, Sunday, January 20th, when we would find out how many of the fertilized eggs turned into little six-or-more-celled embryos. I don’t really remember what we did that Saturday except I know FOR SURE alcohol and sushi was probably involved. I’m not even a big drinker but I wanted wine to relax during this weekend wait. AND on Sunday – the day of THE CALL, we made plans with friends to watch the Rams vs. Saints game which would decide which team would be Super Bowl bound. Again, me…not the smartest emotional cookie.  I think as we enter into any next stages of IVF that I’m going to just disappear from all social anything. I’d love to just disappear from life completely and ride all this out in a lovely condo on a beach in Maui, but…bills, rent, food, work, blah blah blah. We *finally* got the call as we were walking out the door to go watch the game.

Sunday, January 20th – Day 3 of Potential Baby Martin Forming in a Lab in Redondo Beach:

We have TWO frozen embryos! One embryo turned into an eight-celled embryo and one turned into a seven-celled embryo. The third is currently at five cells and will be monitored until Day 5 to see if it develops more. The fourth egg joined the fifth egg in being a dud.

We were over a hurdle! We officially had two frozen embryos no matter what so I took a GIANT breath and let myself chill for a bit.  I also decided I was going to learn how to make my own margaritas at home and now I need a backyard with a lime tree to keep up with my habit. (Everything’s cool…I am not diving into a drinking problem! I DO have a sushi problem though!)  One more call on Day 5 to see how far the third fertilized egg was going to develop…

Tuesday, January 22nd – Day 5 of Potential Baby Martin Forming in a Lab in Redondo Beach:

We have three frozen embryos!!!!  Third egg turned into a seven-celled little embryo but is a bit fragmented. 

To Google! Embryo fragmentation is a fairly common occurrence. These fragments are of no use to the embryo and are considered “junk” pieces of cytoplasm. The higher the degree of fragmentation, the lower the likelihood of pregnancy. Embryo fragmentation can occur with both natural conception and in the IVF process.

Scott and I were riding pretty high on the news of three frozen potential Baby Martins. Due to my endometriosis, Dr. TT suggested doing an Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA) test and mock cycle before going into an embryo transfer.  The clinic calls them “embryo transfers” but it’s implanting the embryo into my, hopefully, welcoming uterus. Quick review from Google:  Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. My Endo has manifested itself as a giant Pelvic Death Star trying to obliterate my right ovary.  On top of the ovary strangling, endometriosis can often make the endometrium, that’s still staying in its lane and growing in your uterus, an “unwelcoming environment” for an embryo.  The ERA test, which is done in Spain, will test whether my endometrium is going to accept an embryo with open arms or kick it to the curb. I’ve made this joke a thousand times but I’ll say it again here…I hope my endometrium takes pics of Spain because I’ve never been!

All sounds like pretty good news, right? Everything had been going pretty smoothly in our fertility adventure up until this point, but that was all about to change. IVF is completely emotionally exhausting which is why it’s taken me so long to even finish this post. It may take me a while to write about the struggles we’ve experienced lately. I’m trying so hard to keep a calm head and my sense of humor but…it’s increasingly crazy hard, y’all.  IVF also halts your life.  I don’t know what our next week, month, six months looks like at all.  I’d like to go home and visit my family, but I can’t plan that far ahead.  I’d like to know what shots or potential meds I’m going to be on for upcoming work trips, but there’s just no telling. I know others go through much more intense health issues and I admire them for being so strong during all of it.  I’m trying, but I feel beaten down a bit more every day. Hopefully, I’ll bounce back soon…for now, there’s always sushi.

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