Frozen Embryo Transfer (#7)
November 13, 2018 3 CommentsCategory: IVF Journey, Motherhood
Tags: FET, Fertility problems, Frozen Embryo Transfer, IVF, IVF Journey, Infertility, MS, endometrium lining, multiple sclerosis
Ahhhhhh, this is the exciting part of the IVF journey. One that gives you hope that the end could be near… time to prep your body for a frozen embryo transfer – AKA put that embryo in your uterus and hope for a positive pregnancy!
Since learning the results of our PGS testing (we had 3 healthy embryos – AKA 3 possible babies!), we started the FET (frozen embryo transfer) protocol this past July.
I began taking estrogen 3x a day to get my body prepared to accept the embryo. The goal is for the estrogen to build your endometrium lining – this is the most critical part of the process as your lining needs to be thick enough for the embryo to implant and stick for a pregnancy to be viable. So, every few days – for two+ weeks – I went into the doctor to do blood work and ultrasound to see how I was progressing.
Once we learned that we had 3 embryos, I felt as if my mindset had shifted and it all became more real. I was optimistic and more eager than ever. Our baby didn’t feel so far off. We had 3 healthy embryos, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to give each one of them a shot to make it. Bill and I have always talked about having 2 children but this process – this whole journey – makes you re-think your plans and what could be. One step at a time, I know.
As I went in for monitoring, they noticed that my lining wasn’t progressing fast enough. Ugh, another problem. Unfortunately, this was something that I already knew but hoped the estrogen would be able to solve for.
They increased my dosage to 12mg, so 6 pills of estrogen a day – and every few days I went back in. The good news was that at every check-in my numbers had increased, although my lining was still only 7.2mm on the day I was supposed to be completed. (They want you to be between 8-10mm to do the transfer).
To give me the best odds of implantation success, my doctor advised me to continue estrogen for one more week. He felt confident that my number would increase and I would get above 8mm. I agreed – and continued.
That’s when things went downhill.
Two days later I woke up to a throbbing headache. It was so bad…I hadn’t felt anything like it before. Even with Extra Strength Tylenol (which is all you’re allowed to take with IVF), it was debilitating and I was in a lot of pain. My back and neck hurt, and I felt chills like I had the flu. That night my stomach started to hurt – severe abdominal pain and nausea began.
These symptoms continued for 3 more days. I called both my primary doctor and my IVF doctor but no one really knew why this was happening. It was all a bit of a mystery.
But on day 4, I woke up in the middle of the night with pain in my stomach that was so severe I went to the hospital while Bill stayed with Chloe. I couldn’t take it anymore and knew something was wrong.
The ER doctor deemed it an “estrogen overdose” – too many days of estrogen and subsequently, I had every single symptom on the warning label of Estrace: severe headache, abdominal pain, chills, fever, and the never-ending nausea.
But the worst news of all was that I had an ultrasound and found out my lining had dropped to 6mm and my estrogen number had actually plummeted to 100. I knew then that my cycle had failed.
We are still trying to wrap our heads around what happened and how things went wrong. It seems like my body hit a threshold of how much estrogen it could take and then began rejecting it, causing my numbers to drop so quickly. I have a very sensitive system, so none of that surprises me. I just feel so defeated – so sad – I was so close…. so, so, so close. And now I have to start over again.
Ugh. I can’t explain the disappointment I feel. Yes, I know that it was only 3 weeks of time, that I still have my embryos and that I will be able to do it again but to go that far – to take all of those meds and to get your hopes up – only to realize it didn’t work honestly sucks. Taking that much estrogen makes you feel awful, too. I’m so bloated, uncomfortable and hormonal.
I’m now also scared that this will happen again and that I won’t be able to get my lining to a good place for the transfer to be successful. I need to figure out how to get my lining thicker in a shorter period of time.
I’ve talked to my doctor and came up with a solid plan that I feel confident about. I am going to share this personal (and a bit embarrassing) protocol because this is a very very common problem in the fertility world and one that you need to overcome in order for any embryo to implant and for anyone to get pregnant!)
Here’s how I am strengthening my endometrium lining to accept the embryo.
- Don’t laugh when I tell you this but I am going to start taking vaginal viagra every day. I’ve heard from both my doctor and women in my fertility support group that it’s supposed to help (and no it doesn’t increase your sex drive like it does for men!).
- I’m also going to begin the new cycle taking 6 pills of estrogen a day both orally and vaginally. 3 of each, morning, noon and night. Yes, that’s a lot of estrogen so I’m nervous I’ll get sick again but what choice do I have?!
- Drinking real cranberry juice – not the stuff from concentrate – twice a day both morning and night (I found the real stuff at Whole Foods). This is one of those old wives tales that women swear by so… I’ll try it. Why not??
- Vitamin E and Açaí berry supplements – this specifically trigger blow flow
- And if that’s not enough, I’m doing twice weekly accupuncture. I’m telling you guys, whatever I need to do, I’m doing! I’m ready for this to work.
Due to the sensitivity of the topic, these blogs are not being posted in real-time. However, I wanted to share this experience and my continued journey with MS for others who may be struggling or are in a similar position. This problem is relatable for many and something that needs to be vocalized. I know how helpful it can be to learn and hear from others.