IVF: Our Frozen Embryo Story

I really wanted to call this post ‘Our babies are the same age, one has just been frozen in time’ but I thought I’d be sensible and go with our IVF Frozen Embryo Cycle. Slightly less sci-fi, but both of them are true!  So, without further ado, here is our amazing journey to getting pregnant with Baby Peaches #2. She has been cooking away nicely for 17 weeks now and is due in August 2018. I’ve had a fair amount of questions about this so here is the next update of our IVF story – enjoy!

OUR IVF JOURNEY SO FAR….

So firstly, let’s go right back to 2016. With Violet I had a full IVF cycle in May/June 2016. Five days after egg collection, I had 7 surviving embryos which had reached the ‘optimal’ blastocyst stage. I had one transferred back to me and became pregnant with Violet. We decided we wanted to keep the rest of the embryos for a later date, so six embryos have been frozen at the clinic (at -197 degrees!) since then. (If you haven’t read it yet, take a look at our IVF story Part 1 & Part 2 here before you read on)

Violet was born in February 2017 and knowing we always wanted to two children close together, around October when Violet was 8 months old we decided to head back to the fertility clinic. At this point, it was to just enquire about how we could access our frozen embryos and the kind of treatment I’d require. I didn’t actually plan to go ahead with anything until the New Year as I wanted to spend Christmas not-pregnant so I could enjoy mulled wine, brie and all the things you can’t eat before taking the plunge in January 2018. However, being back at the clinic brought back all the excitement and memories of going through IVF with Violet and before I knew it, I’d had a consultation, a nurse appointment and ordered all my medication due to start our Frozen Embryo Cycle on the first day of my next cycle – which was only about 10 days away! 😨

LET’S JUST DO IT!

At this point, I did wonder if we were slightly crazy doing all this so soon but looking back, I’m SO pleased we went ahead with it – I have been able to attend all the appointments whilst on maternity leave and get the worst bit of pregnancy over with in my own time too. Yes, I’ve had Violet to look after but I’m sure it would have been even harder trying to get her to nursery and myself to work too.

Before I knew it, a big box of medication was delivered to my front door and it was time to start our journey once again. Sudden last minute thoughts about going through pregnancy, birth and coping with ‘two under two’ went through my mind, but we decided to take the plunge. It might not work first time, after all! Eeek!

MEDICATION

Luckily with a Frozen Embryo Transfer (or FET as they it’s often called) there is much less medication to take than a full round of IVF. To start with, I had to just take 3 Progynova tablets a day – these are Oestrogen tablets to help the uterus lining to thicken and create the right ‘environment’ for conception. Before my embryo transfer, I then had to start the dreaded Progesterone injections. I had to take these with Violet’s cycle too, they are a slightly stronger form of Progesterone which I’m prescribed as I had a history of chemical pregnancies. They aren’t pleasant – a giant needle into the backside every day, but they work a treat so they are worth it to me. I had to take my tablets for around 16 weeks and the injections I did daily for 13 weeks – a total of 91 injections this time, so much less than with Violet!

THE PROCEDURE

A frozen embryo transfer is exactly the same procedure as I had with Violet, although in the morning before the procedure I had a call from the embryologist to confirm I was still happy for one of my embryos to be removed from the ‘freezer’. She then called a couple of hours later to report back on the thawing process, as sometimes embryos struggle to survive this bit, so I was mega nervous to hear if ours had worked. I’d signed a form to confirm I was happy for them to keep trying until they managed to get one that had survived so I eagerly awaited their call to hear our embryos fate. Luckily the first one they had tried had thawed and survived. They confirmed it was in great condition and was ready for me in the lab for that afternoon. PHEW! (This also means we still have FIVE embryos waiting for us in storage, eek! Thats a lot of children…)

Wearing my lucky Rainbow socks from Peru – I wore the same with Violet’s embryo transfer too!

The procedure only takes about 5 minutes or so. It’s similar to a smear test, although slightly more intrusive as they insert a tube right into your uterus to place the embryo. This doesn’t hurt at all but I found it a bit uncomfortable, especially as I had another nurse pressing on my tummy with an ultrasound so the Dr could see what she was doing! You have to have a full bladder which is also a bit uncomfy and I spent the whole time thinking ‘please don’t wee!’ as they pushed hard on my tummy. We literally watched the tube was passed in and the embryo placed with a little air bubble to mark the position. The embryologist then places the tube under the microscope to check the embryo has successfully been placed and is no longer in the tubing. As soon as we got the all clear, we were done! There is nothing else to do, I got up from the table, got dressed and life carried on as normal.

Left: Scan of the embryo being placed, you can see the tube and the white bubble. The black area is my bladder – told you I needed a wee! Right: Our 5 day frozen blastocyst – thawed and ready to go.

TEST DAY!

As I’m impatient (as you might already know!) I caved in and tested on just the FOURTH day after our embryo transfer. This is very early, they recommend waiting around 9 days at least, but I just had to know. A faint positive appeared. It had WORKED! I couldn’t quite believe it – I thought our IVF fresh cycle was amazing, but now our little snow-baby is on their way too. How could a little embryo that was created on the same day as Violet, but has been frozen for around 16 months have come alive and be growing inside me? It blows my mind. Science is just WONDERFUL and I couldn’t be more excited. Baby Peaches #2 is officially on their way!

 

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4 Comments

  1. Lydia
    2 March, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    This makes me tear up a little bit! I also can’t get my head around that if they’d picked a different egg first time then you wouldn’t have Violet or this baby, they’d be a different one from the bunch. Definitely have them all 🙂 xx

  2. 2 March, 2018 / 3:46 pm

    This is fascinating and wonderful all at once! What a fantastic story to tell your little one when they’re older! Congratulations to you all again! Xx

  3. 2 March, 2018 / 8:01 pm

    Absolutely amazing and completely fascinating to read this post! It’s so so astonishing how it all works and the magic of science… how on earth did we discover this works?!

    Good luck girl, baby number two is lucky to have you! Can’t wait for more pregnancy posts!

    Much love, Caitylis x x
    caitylis.co.uk

  4. AUDREY JESTIN
    1 May, 2018 / 9:12 pm

    I went through IVF too and I’m due at the end of the month. It was a stressful experience, we only had 3 eggs extracted but 2 are top quality and like you we froze one just in case we want a third child one day. 🙂

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