Embryo updates – the pain is in the waiting

After your egg retrieval, depending on the clinic you are working with, you will receive updates the day after egg retrieval. The day after egg retrieval is considered Day 1, about 24 hours after the eggs and sperm have been examined, and after they have, fingers crossed, done their dance with each other and fertilized. So, Day 1 update is also called “Day 1: Fertilization Update.” Some labs will call you. Others will email. Some may do some combination of both of the above. My lab sends a secure email message, likely because they probably cannot deal with an emotional, hysterical post-oocyte retrieval woman hearing what could potentially be bad news and then balling her eyes out.

Day 3 Update is next: that is considered “Day 3: Embryo Update.” Three days later, these fertilized… things will become actual embryos. The development here matters because if they are not multiplying into at least 6+ cells by day 3, they are very unlikely to survive to become blastocysts, which is the stage they need to reach by day 5 or 6 in order to be potentially successful candidates for implantation.

It’s Day 3, and I already feel like it will be a miracle if we even have one single embryo that reaches blastocyst. On Day 1, we were told that of the 12 eggs retrieved, three were far too infant (read: JUST DEVELOPING!) to be fertilized; these were discarded immediately. Of the remaining nine, only 5 were mature oocytes that fertilized normally. Four were one level below mature (so …. immature), but they fertilized anyway. Two of these fertilized normally, while two fertilized abnormally. They warned us that immature oocytes were highly unlikely to progress through the stages, but they would still keep them in culture to see how they’d progress.

My takeaway from the above Day 1 update: I took nearly three weeks of daily injections and that only yielded FIVE MATURE EGGS???????

Why didn’t my RE just have me continue with the daily injections and push the retrieval out by a few more days to allow those immature oocytes to… MATURE MORE?


Day 3 update: only three have progressed well with 6-7+ cells. That is three out of a total of nine embryos. And I believe I read that only about 20-30% of all embryos make it to Day 5/6, or blastocyst.

I feel defeated and like my body has completely failed me. And maybe, I have committed great sins at some point in this life to deserve this type of mental and emotional torture.

In full honesty, the stimulation period of daily injections, of nearly every other day doctor’s visits, was the calm of this whole period in my mind. I managed it well, and so did my body given my lack of side effects. It was the easiest part to endure because all I had to do was do exactly what I was told at the times I had to do it. I was completely focused during my daily meditations. I was focused at work. I was able to compartmentalize everything. I was so full of hope every single day during that period that this would work out for us.

But this period of receiving the updates of what seems like my dwindling chances of becoming a mother every other day — this is the most brutal and excruciating. In some ways, I wished they just would forgo the day 1 and 3 updates and just provide a final update on day 5/6 of how many made it to the blastocyst stage, just to spare me of the anguish of this every-other-day waiting game.

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