So, I went to the clinic, and I talked to my consultant and I had a scan, and it mostly looked fine, and so we discussed a few things, like whether we’d try IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination – or what I like to think of as PTB — Posh Turkey Baster — where you get the sperm and stick it in and hope for the best…) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation — where the egg and sperm meet in a test tube (actually a dish rather than a tube I think) and mix there to make the embryo which is then put inside you.

(I’m explaining these things because I think everyone assumes that they know what they mean and I realised that I actually didn’t and if I didn’t then there’s no reason why everyone else should….)

Then we talked about if we did IVF whether we would use fresh eggs — which would mean me doing basically the same thing I did when I froze my eggs, only actually fertilising them this time — or my frozen eggs — which couldn’t just be left to mingle with the sperm in a dish because, when they’re frozen the outer membrane gets tougher, so it’s harder for sperm to get through so they need to use another a process with another acronym, naturally — ICSI — Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection — which basically means they have to inject a single sperm into the egg.

How amazing is that? I just looked it up and a human sperm is about 0.05 millimetres long, a human egg is about 1.5 millimetres and someone can actually inject one into the other. WTAF? Honestly, modern life blows my mind sometimes.

And thank fuck that I didn’t have to make any of these decisions on my own — because really where would you start? — and instead I have a brilliant consultant who knows this stuff, and — crucially — knows how to explain it to me so it makes perfect sense.

“The difference between IVF and IUI is like gambling and being able to see what you’re doing,” she told me. “With IVF we can see how your eggs defrost, what they look like, whether they fertilise, how the embryos develop, whether they implant. With IUI we are completely in the dark.”

So IVF it was. Fresh? Frozen?

“Even though your ovarian reserve is good, we’re going to use the frozen eggs,” she said. “The older you are, the more likely your eggs are to be chromosomally abnormal.”

“Great,” I said, choosing to gloss over words like “chromosomally abnormal”, because that — the idea that my hypothetical baby might not be conventionally perfect — is another of those things that I’m maturely dealing with by not thinking about at all.

And then she talked me through the process, which basically goes something like this (where Day 1 is the first day of my period):

Day 2: a scan to check that everything looks OK.

Day 7 or 8: a scan to check how the follicles are progressing. That’s the day they’ll defrost the eggs — they say we should probably defrost five of them — and the sperm, and inject the latter into the former in a bid to fertilise my eggs, and start giving me progesterone.

Day 10 or 11: assuming the eggs and sperm have played nicely together and started to become embryos, they’ll pick the best looking embryo and implant it. [As someone who knows way more than me has pointed out, humans don’t actually implant embryos, they transfer them from dish to womb and then hope that they will implant themselves in the lining of it.]

“And you could be pregnant by the end of January.”

Er gosh, wow, umm, yeah. I mean I know that was the plan but it seems a bit quick.

Although, to be honest, in all likelihood I won’t be pregnant by the end of January because nothing is ever that straightforward, and also although nobody ever says this, I kind of get the feeling that the first round of IVF is basically totally experimental…

Anyway, the good news is that if any of the other embryos that they’ve made still look good, they will continue to be grown a bit more, and can be refrozen and used in another cycle. As I say modern life blows my mind: you can defrost an egg, defrost sperm, fertilise the egg, create an embryo and REFREEZE it. You can’t even refreeze chicken FFS, how is this even possible?

This post has gone on a bit but the tl;dr version is that in 2017, I’m going to defrost my eggs and try to get pregnant with them. 😱 (Sorry, only an emoji could truly sum up that particular emotion….)



10 thoughts on “Defrosting…

  1. So! Big Plans! and um. this sperm… has it been chosen/ordered already? is it anonymous or will any possible living offspring be able to get some info later? I know the rules vary per country, wondering what your situation is.

    Also on the step at day 11: embryos can be transferred by humans (from dish to somewhere more human) but the whole implanting is something the embryo will have to do itself.

    Did the consultant give you gambling odds? have you talked about transferring a single embryo or more?
    (My secret dream was twins, so we chose 2 embryos. that dream lived for 8 weeks)

    And yes on the experimental part of IVF. Not so sure it gets any less so in later rounds. I mean, if they really knew what they were doing shouldn’t the odds be better?!
    wishing you both luck and wisdom .

    • Valery, you’re so impatient!! Donor sperm posts to come – also details on number of embryos etc. (But basically as I was saying about experimental IVF, particularly in someone with no diagnosed fertility issues who isn’t there because they have not managed to conceive naturally, I think they’re relatively conservative so although if they suggested two embryos, I’d go with it, as I’m doing this on my own, much as I’d love twins for many reasons, I’m kind of OK with them suggesting we only go for one in the first cycle!)
      And thank you for picking me up on my vocabulary re transferring / implanting – will amend the wording so it’s actually correct!
      Thanks as always for your good wishes xxx

  2. It’s actually very hard on embryos to be frozen and refrozen, very few clinics will actually do that because they can lose embryos that way. Having been through this before along with many other women it’s important to remember that the odds of IUI and IVF are very low, the first only increasing your odds by about 2 – 5% and IVF with your own eggs is about 10 to 20%. The odds only really go up if you’re using donor eggs and that’s about 50%. Not trying to sound like a Debbie Downer at all, I just know that fertility clinics always focus on the best possible outcome and aren’t always realistic about how hard it really can be… no matter how old or young your eggs are.

    • What’s the alternative if you have excess embryos? I’m genuinely interested. Because if I’ve defrosted 5 eggs, manage to get 3 embryos from them and only want to put 1 back, if the alternative to freezing them and hoping they might work for another cycle is to throw them away, then I’m going to go with freezing and seeing what happens.
      And re the stats, I appreciate that you’re trying to offer a balanced perspective, but I think looking at the odds for IVF “with your own eggs” is slightly misleading because most of the time those statistics relate to people who have diagnosed fertility problems. I’ve never, ever tried to get pregnant before. It’s entirely possible that the eggs that I’ve frozen will be duds, but it’s also possible that they may be on a par with donor eggs. I’m effectively my own donor. And until I know different, I’m going to hope that I was a healthy mid-30s donor, now donating to someone in their late 30s who doesn’t have diagnosed fertility issues.
      I am the first to look to evidence and data but when you’re talking about this sort of thing, the information simply isn’t there because, relative to the number of people who undergo IVF for completely different reasons, there are so few people who have done it.

      • I’d really like to see that data, but I’d also like more information on when the eggs were frozen etc etc, as the use of flash freezing is relatively recent and that seems to have an impact on many outcomes

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