Yesterday, something amazing happened: I got my period! Forty-eight hours after stopping the birth control pill — as part of my fertility treatment — good old Aunt Flow arrived. (Does anyone really even use that term?) My reproductive endocrinologist (RE) said that my period would likely return anywhere from two days to two weeks after stopping the pill. I was glad when my period decided to arrive as soon as possible, because now I can begin my frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle — which means I’m thiiiiiis much closer to getting pregnant again!
I’ve learned over the past year during my fertility journey that there’s a roller coaster of emotions involved in this process, and I know I should curb my excitement a bit in order to guard by heart some. But I’m just too darn excited to be able to be moving forward!
So, what’s actually involved in “moving forward” at this point? Click through to find out!
Please note: The information provided here has been provided to me from my fertility center regarding my fertility treatments. FET cycles vary from woman to woman. This is not intended to be used as medical advice.
1. Natural Cycle or Hormone and Drug Cycle-
Some women opt to do the natural cycle, in which the frozen embryos are thawed and placed in the uterus four days after natural ovulation occurs. This is not what I’m doing. I’ve decided to do my FET cycle with hormones because it increases the chances of success. I’ll be taking estrogen pills and progesterone suppositories.
2. Less costly than ‘fresh’ IVF cycle-
Because there is no costly egg retrieval procedure, and because there are far fewer drugs to take, an FET cycle costs significantly less than an IVF cycle that uses “fresh” embryos. But to be clear, an FET cycle is part of IVF. The embryos used have been fertilized the day they were retrieved, as part of the fresh IVF cycle.
3. Easier prep stage-
Fewer drugs + no egg retrieval = a much easier and less stressful preparation stage. The egg retrieval, for me, was by far the worst part of the IVF cycle. And I’m glad to be avoiding it this go-round!
4. 75% of frozen embryos survive “the thaw”-
My reproductive endocrinologist told me that 75% of all frozen embryos make it through “the thaw.” I have five currently frozen, and we plan to only transfer one back into me, so we’ll likely thaw two or three. Once thawed, they can’t be refrozen.
5. Thawed embryos get washed-
The embryos that survive the thawing process (they’re left to slowly reach room temperature on their own) are then washed in a solution that removes the cryoprotectant, which is a solution that protects them during the freezing process. I like to think that my little embabies are getting their first bath!
6. Procedure takes a few minutes-
This will be my third transfer. The first was unsuccessful. The second was successful, but then I lost my twins at 17-weeks pregnant. We’re hoping the third time will be successful, too! The procedure itself is a sinch. My RE will place a thin catheter through my cervix and into my uterus. He’ll then attach to the catheter a syringe that holds the embryo, and inject the embryo into the catheter. With any luck, the embryo will successfully deposit into my uterus and attach to my lining.
7. Remain lying down for 30 minutes after-
They ask that I remain lying down for roughly a half an hour. My fertility center is amazing it offers a free acupuncture session at its spa on the second floor the day of your transfer. So, I’ll head up there afterward for some relaxation.
This is a picture of me from my first acupuncture treatment.
8. Continue meds after-
After I’m sent home, I’ll continue my meds: estrogen and progesterone. The progesterone is a messy vaginal suppository, but the estrogen is a simple oral pill. Gotta do whatcha gotta do!
9. Take pregnancy blood test 10-14 days later-
Then, the waiting game begins. I’ll have to wait 10 to 14 days before going back to my fertility center for a pregnancy blood test. And then I have to wait for about three hours for the results. If this fertility journey has taught me anything, it’s patience.
10. Pray the 40% success rate is on my side-
During the two-week wait, I’ll be praying that the 40% success rate of frozen embryo transfers is on my side.