This post will detail our 1st FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycle from the start of medications to the long-awaited transfer day, and subsequent 2WW.
We hope that it will give insight to those who are embarking on the IVF journey, especially a frozen cycle.
We do not claim to be doctors, everything is based solely on our experience.
- Lupron-5 units daily, injection into stomach (this is the easiest injection I’ve ever done…honestly, the needle is so tiny you barely feel it). The purpose of Lupron is to stop the ovaries from producing eggs (the complete opposite of what was happening in a fresh cycle!). We did Lupron injections for a total of about a month up until the week prior to transfer. Yes, that’s correct you will be injecting yourself everyday for a month.
- Estrace (estrogen)-1 tab 2x per day orally. We continued taking Estrace until the pregnancy test, and if positive, up to 12 weeks.
- Vivelle (estrogen) patches-2 patches applied to stomach, apply new patches every other day. We continued the patches until the pregnancy test & if positive, up to 12 weeks. The purpose of all the estrogen is to thicken the uterine lining. I hated the patches-they left what looked like little dirt rings on my stomach which were so hard to get off. And the estrogen is what makes you cray-cray!!!
- Prental vitamin/Folic Acid/Baby Aspirin-1 pill each per day.
- Crinone (progesterone)-vaginal 2x per day starting 6 days before the transfer, and if positive, up to 12 weeks. A lot of women choose to do progesterone in oil shots during a FET instead of Crinone.
- Prometrium (more progesterone)-3x per day orally starting 6 days before the transfer, and is positive up to 12 weeks.
- Medrol-1 pill orally every 6 hours starting 4 days before the transfer, and none thereafter.
- Doxycycline-orally 2x per day for the 2 days prior to transfer.
Monitoring (blood and ultras):
For this FET, I only went into the office 3 times for blood work and ultrasounds before the actual transfer. This is typical protocol at most practices, which is why people say a FET is way easier than a fresh.
The ultrasound monitoring during a FET is focused solely on the thickness of the uterine lining, which grows from the estrogen being taken. It makes sense then that the blood work is monitoring the estrogen levels. Doctors like to see the lining measuring at least an 8. During our fresh cycle, my lining was only a 7 on transfer day. Not a huge deal at the time, but in hindsight, it could have been a red flag that my lining would be an issue down the road.
The first ultrasound, about 2 weeks before the transfer, showed my lining measuring only a 5. This was OK since I had just started the estrogen and had my period. We assumed by the following week it would be up to about an 8 or so like it should be.
The second ultrasound, a week later, showed that my lining was only measuring a 6. The worst part was that the transfer was just a week away now. I know you might be thinking, “so it still has a week to thicken then!” False. Once the progesterone is added in, the lining no longer thickens; it actually compacts. And remember, the progesterone needs to be added in a week prior to the transfer.
This was a BIG problem. The nurse informed me that she thought we would have to push the transfer date back with my lining being so thin, but the final call would be the doctors. We were not happy with this. Not only was I mad that it was thin and not growing as it was supposed to be in response to the estrogen, I was mad I even had to know what my lining measured at all. I was jealous of the women who never even thought about their uterine lining, let alone what it flipping measured.
The doctor called us later that night. I still recall the conversation as clear as day. She put the ball in our court. We had two options: move forward, or cancel the cycle. I was not interested in postponing it at the time; our date was set for the Friday before school started. I could not miss the first few days of school! Looking back, I see how foolish that was of me to even worry about.
The doctor told us there was a 50% chance (here we go with the percentages again!) of the transfer working with my lining measuring what it was. She also said the fact that I got pregnant on the first transfer was on our side, even though it resulted in a loss.
Then I asked her if she had any other patients who were successful at achieving a pregnancy with a thinner lining like mine. She told me a story about an IVF patient who had a lining of only a 5 and how she went on to deliver a healthy baby. In the moment, this gave us hope. I feel like at times you are really just grasping at straws and will take what you can get.
The last question I asked was probably the most important one of all-would my lining, in any way, cause me to miscarry again. Negative.
Shane & I slept on it, prayed about it, and in the morning decided to move forward with the transfer later that week. Instead of doing acupuncture only once that week, I went 3 times.
I really can’t put into words the way you feel the morning of a transfer; if you have been through it, you know what I’m talking about. It’s surreal to say the least. You are nervous & excited, and part of you feels relief, even if it’s just for that 1 day.
Shane & I had just celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary 2 weeks earlier, and now we were starting our family together… FINALLY! Before we left the house, we read our daily devotionals together, took Rocket for a walk, & ate a breakfast high in protein just like the doctor ordered.
I learned from IVF #1 how miserable it is to have a full bladder before and during the transfer. This could be because I have been diagnosed with a tiny bladder to begin with, as I have heard other infertiles say it wasn’t that bad at all for them. Either way, I knew there had to be a better way. I spoke with the nurse, and she said they could fill my bladder immediately before they did the transfer. Sounds much better right?! So that is exactly what we did.
The embryologist brought in the picture of the 2 embies (they survived the thaw!!!) and discussed their grade again with us (both 6AA’s, the best they could be). These were the only 6AA’s we had left; we transferred the other 1 on our fresh cycle.
Shane held my hand, the lights were dimmed, with the music was playing (as I said before, my doctor enjoys tunes during transfers). We watched on the screen as my bladder was filled & the doctor gently inserted the catheter.
As soon as it was placed in the right spot, she called for the embryologist to bring our 2 embies in. Remember, this is the longest part, even though in all reality it is maybe 20 seconds. Again, we saw the little white dots, which we prayed were our future babies, being released into my uterus. They looked like shooting stars. And just like a heartbeat, you won’t ever forget it.
The bell rang that Monday morning, and the 2014-2015 school year had begun! If you teach, or have taught, or know someone closely who has, you know that the beginning of the year is just plain BUSY. I couldn’t complain this time, it kept my mind off whether or not our embryos were burrowing into my (thin) lining like so desperately prayed they were. Shane was still super busy at his job too, August in Florida means 60 hour work weeks in the HVAC field.
I think when you are pregnant, you just know you are (especially if you have been trying). At least that’s been my experience. It’s hard to put your finger on it and explain it, it’s just a complete head to toe change that occurs within the body quickly.
That being said, exactly a week after the transfer, I knew I was pregnant again before I even took a test.