Friday, January 24, 2014

IVF Olympics

I get a bunch of questions about the games involved in the IVF Olympics, but I don't think I've actually ever explained them properly.  In order for you to understand what we're dealing with... I guess that's kind of important.  So here I will give you a brief as possible description of MY take on the whole thing :).

First off... when deciding to participate in the IVF Olympics you must train!  You have to prepare your body to meet the challenges of each game.  In my case, I had to monitor my thyroid for several months and take a pill to get it back under control.  Luckily, during this years extreme training, I lost several pounds and the thyroid medication wasn't even needed for the Winter Games!!!  Training and preparing your body are super important!  2 years ago, I entered the IVF Olympics with an untrained body and unfortunately we lost that year :(.  3 things I did during training... removed the hindering tube that was leaking yucky fluid into the uterus, lost a bunch of weight, got my thyroid back under control!  I hope that means we are ready to play!!!

Onto the warmup!  This was only option and not all participants do it.  But we decided having the uterine lining scratched to help the embryos stick would be beneficial.  We've already done this but won't know if it was successful, obviously unless we win the overall games.  But I think it went well!

The first sport is a doozy!  Of course we must wait for our very famous Aunt Flo to join us, but once she's here... we can begin the production of eggs with the use of FSH (follicle stimulating hormones).  This is the shot I give myself every day.  On a normal cycle the ovaries will release only 1 egg.  But with the help of FSH, you can produce 10-20-30!!!!  This process takes about 2 weeks.  The object is to make as many eggs as possible within that 2 weeks but also hope for good quality!  Rule of thumb... quality over quantity.  It is a little disheartening though when you find out you have a small quantity.  But as everyone keeps telling me, you only need ONE to win the overall games!  The eggs grow inside fluid filled sacs called follicles.  Since the eggs can't be seen on an ultrasound, we will monitor the growth of the follicles instead.  Each follicle should contain 1 egg (but sometimes it may not have any at all).  As of our last appointment we saw 4 follicles on each ovary.  We go back in today to see if they've multiplied and grown bigger!  We measure them until they are big enough to release the eggs.  In the meantime, the FSH causes bloating, ovary pains, and mood swings.  You can see this is really not one of my favorite sports in the game :/.

When the follicles are finally big enough, we can move on to the next sport!!!!  Harvesting the eggs!  We will schedule a surgery for the doctor to go in with a long skinny needle to suck out the fluid from each follicle hoping to catch several eggs.  They should let us know that same day how many eggs were retrieved.  The same morning, the husband makes his contribution and while I am sleeping, the eggs and sperm will be combined.  In our case, we go the extra mile and have each egg injected with an individual sperm to heighten our chances of success.  Otherwise they are just put together in a dish and left to "have at it".  The surgery doesn't take too long and we can go home a few hours later.  There is some discomfort and swelling, but it'll hopefully be all worth it!

And with that, we have the next sport... embryo creation!  This is mainly a spectators sport.  Since the eggs and sperm have already been collected, we just get to watch and wait.  And the waiting can be painful too.  Over the next few days they will be monitored until they 1. fertilize, and 2. divide.  Some eggs won't fertilize and we'll lose them.  Others will fertilize but not divide so we lose those too.  It's all in chance I guess.  We just hope for the best and wait for the phone call telling us how many GOOD quality embryos we have remaining.

Once we know how many embryos we have, we'll plan for the next sport... TRANSFER!  This sport is super exciting!  We get to decide how many embryos we want to put back in.  We will choose 3 if we have that many.  If we have extras, they will be frozen for future games if we don't win this round.  We go back into the arena and the doctor gently places the embryos into the uterus.  That's it.  It's up to the embryos now to swim around and find a cozy spot along the wall to bury.  This is why our friends say "sticky embryos.. or sticky baby dust wishes".  Stick babies... stick!!!!!  This is probably the funnest cheer we do throughout the games :).

That was the last sport really, unless you consider the 2 weeks of waiting for your results.  During those 2 weeks, we try to relax and not do anything too strenuous.  I usually have it in my head that I could cause the embryos to fall out, but I don't think that really happens.  They just die I guess... and stop dividing :(.  But hopefully we make some strong quality embryos this year!  If so... we get to move on to the IVF Pregnancy Olympics!!!!

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