The Surrogacy Series (Part Two) :: Shout Out to the IVF Mamas and Transfer Day

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This is the second post in this surrogacy series. If you want to get caught up, read the first post where I announced my decision to become a gestational carrier. 

A few days ago, I returned home from a short trip to San Diego Fertility Center where the embryo transfer took place. That’s right folks, there is officially a little hitchhiker on board. In case you’re wondering about the image attached to this post that you clicked on, the turtle is a Chinese symbol for fertility, vitality and patience. And the intended parents (IP’s) of this little hitchhiker? They’re Chinese. So it seemed fitting. 

On the morning of the transfer, I took a long walk along the beach to process my thoughts. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t excited…I was just ready. I’ve always been a very decisive person so once I make a decision to do something I just want forward progress to take place. And after several months of steps, it was finally the big day! 

“Let’s do this.”

A week earlier, I had been cleared for the transfer to take place after a third ultrasound showed that my endometrium lining had reached the desired thickness for implantation. This was accomplished by popping estrogen pills twice a day for two weeks. It was sort of funny going to these weekly ultrasounds, knowing what the “goal” was but having no real way to control that other than to take my medication as directed.

So I guess an “Atta girl!” is deserved for my uterus. I certainly can’t take the credit.

Lack of control is really the theme at this point in the process. I’ve done what I can do and now I just have to let science, and my body, take the reins. 

This is a good time to pause and give a SHOUT OUT to all the IVF mamas out there. You are stronger, braver and more resilient than you get credit for! These last few months, I’ve had my eyes opened to how much of an ordeal it is to go through IVF and I’m only experiencing the physical part of it, never mind the financial and emotional aspects which, surely, are much larger factors. 

I’ve been put on birth control – stay with me here, I know this part confuses a lot of people and it did me too, at first – to suppress my ovaries (remember, I’m not trying to conceive with my own eggs) and also to help time my cycle. Then when the transfer date was set, I was taken back off of birth control and put on estrogen and folic acid twice daily, along with daily prenatals and low dose aspirin.

And five days before the transfer, the real fun began with the progesterone injections. This is the part I’ve been dreading since the day I started out on this journey…

As I sit here typing this, the upper sides of my butt are aching from the daily injections and I’ve only been at it for 10 days! So that’s five shots so far on each side. I don’t even want to think about how it will feel another month from now as I run out of “new” territory to poke.

I am a human pin cushion.

The shot itself actually doesn’t hurt, contrary to what the gigantic needle suggests. Though it is daunting. But the soreness it leaves behind is no fun, even with all the little tips and tricks I’ve found on the internet to help lessen it.

It’s much easier to have someone else give you the shot, whenever possible, simply due to the angle. However, I gave it to myself the night after the transfer since I was alone, so I know I can do it and that’s pretty empowering. But I prefer to have my husband give the shots. Plus I’m sure he secretly enjoys getting to stab me with a needle…

I was worried about how all the hormones raging through my body would affect me, mainly my mood, as I have to deal with a lot of people (and a toddler) on a daily basis. Thankfully, the only side effect I’ve noticed, other than a little bit of cramping, has come from the progesterone injections.

Fatigue.

I felt the exhaustion set in the day after my first injection and I was confused at first, because I’d been getting enough sleep. It was that heavy, it-takes-too-much-energy-to-even-talk feeling that I haven’t felt since I was in the early stages of pregnancy with my son. It’s a different kind of exhaustion than sleep deprivation (I know that kind well) because your mind is still sharp. It’s just your body that feels completely sapped.

Honestly, I prefer the physical exhaustion to sleep deprivation. So all in all, I’m doing fine. 

Back to San Diego and transfer day…

The procedure was quick and painless. There were two screens on the wall facing me that allowed me to watch as the embryo was brought into the catheter (in another room) and then, after the embryologist brought it in, transferred into my uterus. I took a video of everything happening on the screens so that the intended parents could feel like they were there for what could possibly be the start of their family.

Once it was done, they had me remain lying down for ten minutes (good time to send a few post transfer selfies to my peeps) and I was free to go. Simple as that! Prior to the procedure, the doctor had reviewed with me all my instructions going forward from continuing the medications to bed rest. As soon as I got back to my hotel room, I was to lie down except for getting up to go to the bathroom and for meals. These instructions were music to my ears as a busy working mother of a two year old! 

Now that the first 24 hours have passed, all I need to do is take it easy and not do any strenuous exercise or lift anything over 20 pounds. That last part is a little easier said than done when you have a 27-pound toddler at home but let’s just say I’m doing my best. I’ll be missing the weight room routine that I’ve gotten into over the summer but as soon as I’m cleared, I plan to get back in there. 

So what’s next? 

A week from today I go in to the local clinic for a blood test to see if I’m pregnant! I have the option of taking home pregnancy tests if I choose to (I just wouldn’t be allowed to share the results with the IP’s as they could be inaccurate especially if it’s taken too early). But I think I’m going to hold out and wait for the official test.

So far, I’m feeling at peace and am keeping plenty busy. I often catch myself “forgetting” until someone brings it up. Again, a luxury I have as the gestational carrier that a hopeful parent going through the IVF process doesn’t have. 

I sent the IP’s the video of the transfer procedure as soon as I got back to the hotel. I heard back from them the next morning just as I was about to board the plane home (since they’re international, our correspondence isn’t always immediate). They were feeling relieved, hopeful and grateful.

For me, it would mostly be an inconvenience if we have to do another transfer – another round of hormones, another trip and more time away from work and my family. My emotions are pretty far removed from the results which I think is healthy.

But for the sake of the IP’s, I am really hoping this first try will be a successful one and that they will be that much closer to holding their baby boy! Yep, they chose to transfer a male embryo. They said it was because they like our son, Beau, so much – whether that’s the real reason or not, it was very sweet of them to say!  

Wish us luck and stay tuned! #thinkturtle

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Stephanie is a fitness professional on a mission to undo the damage done by much of her industry when it comes to body image, confidence and self-worth. She enjoys sharing her journey as she sheds the “fit chick” label and embraces authentic living from the inside out! A Mankato native, Stephanie is currently the Director of Healthy Living at the Mankato Family YMCA. She lives with her husband, Nick, and their 18-month old son, Beau. He is the light of their life! She enjoys finally sleeping through the night again, teaching and taking group fitness classes, and sharing her love for Restorative Yoga with all the other tired moms!