Friday afternoon we walked up to the front doors of the clinic not knowing whether we would be able to go through with the transfer or not. We were down to one remaining (frozen) embryo and had been warned that its survival through the thaw was not guaranteed, but there was nothing we could do other than show up for our appointment at 2pm to hear the news.
Thankfully we weren’t left waiting long and our nurse quickly met us in the waiting room to take Elle (our gestational carrier) and, her husband, Dave back to change for the transfer. We had a viable embryo! My heart, apparently late to get the memo that all was okay for now, continued to pound for several minutes while Kyle and I waited for our turn. Eventually we followed our nurse back to the dressing room to put on our paper jumpsuits before rejoining Elle & Dave, who were already set up outside of the transfer room.
Everything felt the same but different. Again, I sat by Elle’s head with Kyle and Dave behind me. They checked Elle’s wristband and asked us both to confirm our names and birth dates multiple times (I guess you can never be too careful in a situation like this). A screen mounted on the wall showed a video feed into the embryology lab next door. After the mock transfer (during which our doctor inserted an empty catheter to make sure the procedure would go smoothly), the screen zoomed in on a petri dish with two labels on it: one with Elle’s name and birthday and one with mine. Zooming in even further, we were able to see the embryo before the embryologist loaded it into a new catheter, which was then brought back into the room and given to the doctor.
Again I was riveted by what was happening on the ultrasound screen even though there isn’t much to look at other than a little white line (the catheter) moving slowly forward. Suddenly we watched as a tiny little circle burst forward from the line. Since we had not seen much of anything during the first transfer, it was such a shock that we all kind of gasped at the sight. Our embryologist explained that while the embryo itself was too small to see, we had just witnessed the fluid encasing it leave the catheter. It appeared as though our embryo knew exactly where it was meant to go and was more than ready to be there!
Before we left the embryologist handed me a photo our embryo. A piece of me and Kyle. Receiving it is my favorite part of the whole transfer. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the closest we would ever come to being parents, but I tried not to let that thought mar the feelings of love and pride I already felt for this little group of cells.
He showed us that the center part of the embryo is what would become the baby. The somewhat scalloped edge around it would become the spine. Ours had already started to hatch, which you can see by the little bubble on the left. Hopefully its next step will be to implant itself in Elle’s uterus, which should happen within a few days following the transfer. Each embryo is graded, once for the center part and once for the edging (receiving A for excellent, B for good, or C for fair). Ours was given an AB grading, and while a good grade doesn’t guarantee success, we are working with a good embryo.
As we changed and gathered our stuff to meet the boys in the waiting room, Elle and I both breathed a huge sigh of relief at the same time before laughing at ourselves over all the stress we’d been under. Once we reached the doorway to leave she pulled me in for a giddy hug. “I am so glad that happened!” she exclaimed, while I beamed with the first bit of joy I’d felt in a very long time.
Our late lunch afterward felt like a celebration. We settled on The Cheesecake Factory, which was where we had eaten the day we first met in December. Strangely enough, the hostess lead us through a largely empty restaurant to the booth we’d shared 6 months ago, all the way in the back of the restaurant. I like to think of it as a sign that this part of our journey has come full circle and will now end so we can move on to the next chapter.
We are very thankful to Elsa for keeping our little embryo on ice until we were ready and able to use it! We even got a picture of her holding it up:
We got back late Saturday night after spending much of the day with Elle & Dave and stopping back at my parents’ house on the way home to see my youngest sister off to prom. I was so exhausted from the emotion of the past few days that my body crashed for the rest of the weekend. We now have a tough two weeks ahead of us before we’ll know whether or not we are expecting. It is hard to go even more than a few seconds without thinking about it, but Sunday night my heart skipped a beat when I found this in my fortune cookie: