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Day 4 Update (a.k.a. what have I done?)

02/15/2012

Belle

I started conferring with Dr. Google yesterday. How do my embryos compare? All I found were people who had better embryos, bigger embryos, more embryos than we do. I found a woman who froze 19 blastocysts. I found women who did not have half the number of stragglers we have. I found information on how difficult it is for embryos to make it to blastocyst stage in vitro.

  • Today only 4 of our embryos are strong morulas.
  • 3 are early-stage morulas.
  • 3 look like they might be considering becoming morulas.
  • The rest are slowing down and ultimately ceasing to exist.
  • That’s a lot of dying embryos.

I’m not religious. I have never believed in heaven, hell or a higher being. I believe we are here today and we do the best we can. How are we rewarded for this? Our kind legacy lives on after we cease. These beliefs serve me well about 90% of the time. Then something like IVF happens and I start wondering – is this what I’m supposed to do? What if there IS a higher power. What if there is something that is going to punish me for doing this to 27 embryos? How will people remember me when I’m gone? She who killed 20+ embryos in one fell swoop.

I don’t kill bugs. I cry every time I hit an animal while on the highway. I can’t stand the thought of people hurting people.

What the hell have I done?

I started down this journey with such a level, scientific head on my shoulders. Not all embryos thrive. Not all make it even if they implant in the uterus. These are just the facts. I never, ever, ever thought I would be this horrified and disturbed when my embryos die. What have I done?

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23 Comments

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  1. February 15, 2012

    You are giving these embryos the BEST POSSIBLE CHANCE. If they were going to make it, they would make it now. Their chances of surviving and thriving do not get better than what you are doing for them right now. Before, they wouldn’t have even had the *opportunity* to try! And some of them really are making the best of that opportunity. These embryos are so lucky, you already love them so much and they are only clusters of cells. ❤

  2. February 15, 2012

    Belle BREATHE. As a person who is religious and who has gone through IVF I can tell you that you are NOT doing anything to stop these embryos from growing and you are NOT doing anything wrong. I can direct you to another blog of a friend of mine who is deeply religious and who has gone through IVF multiple times- she just got her BFP last week (Lori does md).

    My point is that you tried getting pregnant without IVF.. it didn’t work. So now you have turned to science not to harvest and destroy embryos but to TRY and see if you can bring forth life from these growing embies. I promise you that it is normal for embryos to arrest in this process.. but I will also say that MANY times they will surprise you. By freezing day we had an embryo labeled as arrested that suddenly burst forth and made it to a 4AB grade! That is crazy.. and it happens. You love these embies and I know that you will give them any shot that you can.. so feel good about that my friend, and don’t lose hope.

    One of my RE’s has a sign in his office.. this is what it says:

    Never
    Ever
    Ever
    Ever
    Ever
    Give up

    Hugs….

    • February 15, 2012

      Thank you Leslie. I love that I can find kind people with different beliefs than mine here. Such a rare thing that I’m so thankful for. Just a few more hours till our final freeze report and then I can breathe a little easier.

  3. February 15, 2012

    You haven’t done anything. Think of it as 2 years worth of cycles. Only so many eggs of yours would get fertilized, only so many would make it to a certain stage, and a very very few (if any) would become your babies. We’ve just upped the anti and timing a bit. The day 3 to 4 is supposed to be the biggest hardest struggle. Many embryos who make it to day 4 continue to day 5. Fingers crosses for you.

    • February 15, 2012

      Oh I hope you are right about the day 4 thing… One more sleep till freeze day.

  4. February 15, 2012

    Is all I want to say is Please step away from Google! I’ve never done IVF so I can’t share any personal experience but I can imagine the emotional turmoil you’re going through as your eggs have suddenly become embryos and you have to accept that many of them probably won’t make it. Try to think of it this way, every month you pop one of those suckers out anyway and usually it’s just expelled along with your period, here you are giving them all a shot to actually become babies.

    Find something away from your computer today and good luck!

    • February 15, 2012

      Well I guess if I think about that it makes it a lot less dramatic… I don’t ovulate on my own! As far as I know, these are the first eggs to EVER have had a chance. So maybe I don’t feel quite so bad…

      • February 16, 2012

        I think that’s a really good way to look at it. I know this is hard. (((Hugs)))

  5. February 15, 2012

    So sorry you are feeling this way. I feel like giving you a big hug and tell you that you are not doing anything wrong! You are not killing embryos!!
    I don’t know if it’s any comfort at all, because I think you know it already, but this is just nature’s way. Even in the best of circumstances only 25% of all fertilized eggs make it on average. Without reproductive technology we just don’t know about it. We don’t have this detailed knowledge about what goes on in these very early stages. I think it’s the knowledge of what is happening, combined with the bonding with your embryos that IVF makes possible, which is creating the feelings you have. If this part of the process was going on invisibly inside you every month, you would not get these feelings. I think you are experiencing one of the challenges of going through fertility treatment – namely how to handle, deal with and make sense of a level of knowing and opportunity for bonding which goes far beyond what we would have to deal with and make sense of under normal circumstances.

    Thinking back at my own reaction in this part of the process, I realize that it was quite different from yours – maybe precisely because my clinic gave us very very little information. We still had a much higher level of knowing than people who get pregnant naturally of course, but they did not give us status reports for instance. We were just told on day 2 that a transfer was scheduled on day 3. All we knew was that out of the 8 eggs retrieved at least one was apparently looking good enough for transfer. At transfer the next day they told us that 6 eggs had fertilized and that they would transfer the best one which had reached 8 cells. No information about the remaining 5. Only that they would leave them one more day and then decide how many of them were good enough to freeze. We would receive a letter about it later. Around a week and half later we got the letter just telling us that 5 embryos had been frozen. To this day I still know nothing else about them. Your post is making me realize that I never really got the chance to feel the same kind of bond with them as you have because I knew and still don’t know anything about them. I bonded only with the one day they transferred and only from that point on. And even then I tried to hold myself back – tried to remind myself it’s only 8 cells at this point. Only the seed of life and not a life yet.

    I know it’s hard to do, but I think to remain sane through this process and not create even more suffering for ourselves we have to try to let go, try not to bond too much with the potentials for life we have laying in a lab or a freezer. Try to let nature take it’s course and accept that it’s completely beyond our control and therefore also not our responsibility.

    • February 15, 2012

      Irene, you always leave such wonderful comments. You know, I didn’t really realize that some clinics don’t give daily calls. I really think that might be better for me. I am so painfully attached to these guys now. Had I been in the dark I might not be in this place. If I have to do another cycle, I think I might request they don’t update me until freeze day. Thank you for taking time to leave me such a kind, well thought out comment. *hugs*

  6. Rachel @ Eggs In A Row #
    February 15, 2012

    Oh, honey. IF screws with our emotions so much!

    You aren’t doing anything wrong. Like Robin said, these little cells are so loved by you, it’s amazing. You are already an amazing mommy!

    Hang in there. xoxoxxo

    • February 15, 2012

      Thank you. Your xoxoxoxs made me tear up… again. I’m a hormonal wreck! 🙂

  7. February 15, 2012

    You didn’t do anything! You are giving these little guys the best possible chance you can and loving them at the same time. If that isn’t a good person, I don’t know who is. You are doing great Belle, just step away from Google. It only causes pain.

    • February 15, 2012

      You are too right, Trisha. Google and I are not getting along right now. I’m grounded from Google.

  8. February 15, 2012

    I’m not sure I have anything wonderfully insightful to contribute, because you have such amazing commenters. I will say, as another non-religious person that didn’t think too much about these issues before embarking on IVF, that these things have caught me a bit off guard too. It’s not that I’m mourning the 9 eggs that didn’t fertilize successfully, or the 7 embryos that “weren’t good enough to freeze,” but there is something a little sad about the process that I can’t put my finger on.

    Or, maybe it’s all these hormones!

    How are you and how is your bloating? Mine is finally easing up, and I’ve lost 4 lbs and 2 inches in the past 2 days!

    • February 15, 2012

      Thanks for the kind words. It is sad and just… I don’t know. I don’t like to see things fail to thrive and to know that so many of my maybe babies are not making it… well, it is heart breaking.

      The bloat of doom is FINALLY starting to retreat. I did not weigh myself or measure, but I think it is safe to say that it now only looks like I had one Thanksgiving dinner rather than two 🙂 I am still having some discomfort, though. I’m getting these sharp stabbing pains in my ovaries. If they still hurt come Friday morning I think I will call to have them looked at…

  9. February 15, 2012

    Hang in there lady. I know how difficult it is to get these reports. Though we know that stats, it’s still a very personal time. I have no words to advice other than to do what you need to do to cope. In the meantime, I’m sending your embies much love and growing vibes.

  10. February 15, 2012

    Belle, this is exactly how I felt. Stew was delighted any had made it , I was horrified at the ones that did not. I felt like a murderer.

    Rationally: ivf recruits eggs that would have died off that month anyway. NATURALLy. Embryos not making the grade is WHY it has the success rates it has. The numbers WILL fall.

    Emotionally: this IS an intangible loss . I am lapsed catholic, and each embryo report ripped my heart out, and I made time to sit in a church after each embryo report, and light a candle for each one, and cry. Find a way to commemorate them. Later, I drew faces On Eggs then made cakes & quiches as they ‘dropped off’. Do what you need to do when rationally , you know it will happen, but emotionally you feel like your heart is being ripped out. There’s also this “how have I failed?” feeling, even though you haven’t .

    Practically: my attitude to the embie update calls became “unless you’re telling me they’re already done, this news is not relevant. The only relevant news is which embryos are left standing on transfer / freeze day. Everything else is just noise. ”

    I completely understand how you’re feeling .

  11. February 16, 2012

    Oh, sweet Belle. I want to give you a big hug. Just the fact that you think about these things speaks to what a wonderful person you are. You are doing absolutely nothing wrong. You haven’t harmed any living creatures. You gave life potential and now it’s just out of your hands. There is nothing but goodness and love in that.

    Thinking good thoughts for you!

  12. February 16, 2012

    Could not agree more. I was always totally conflicted when going through IVF. A good friend of mine was smart enough to remind me one day that the process we are privy to with our embryos through IVF is generally a process that occurs behind closed doors so to speak. Who knows maybe in the natural environment way more conceptions occur and slow down essentially “dying off”and we would just never know about it. I finally came to term with it because I believe IVF is just as much a miracle as natural conception, and maybe even more so. My husband liked to say that God created the people who created IVF and by default it was ok by him – whatever that means. My husband was born and bred catholic by the way and you know how they hate to waste a good egg and sperm 🙂

  13. February 16, 2012

    You have done what you can to make sure that the embryos can thrive in the best possible situation. It is terrifying regardless… I am scared to find out what is going to happen to ours when we get to this point. I’m sorry for your news and I’ll be thinking of you. Hugs.

  14. February 17, 2012

    I am just catching up. I’m sorry I have been a bad reader.

    You have done everything you can do for them. I know I do not completely understand exactly what you are feeling having never been through it, but my Hubby always says to me when I question if we should do ART, if God didn’t want us to try the option would not be there. Hang in there. Hugz!

  15. February 19, 2012

    Rather than judging you, what if there is a higher power helping those little embabies? Like Emily & her husband, we always say God gave us the medical marvels to bring babies into the world. That sentiment comforts me when we have to make difficult IF decisions. Hugs!

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