IVF in Barbados: Egg Retrieval

Prior to my egg retrieval, I was on ovarian stimulation injections for 10 days trying to get my ovaries to understand the assignment. Let’s hope those 4 follicles give us 4 good-quality eggs.

Fast forward!

I arrived at the clinic a few hours before my retrieval to do my blood draw for my protein-rich plasma treatment. After my blood draw, I hung out on the beach watching lots of crabs and enjoying the serenity and beauty of the nature that surrounded me.

Hubman met me at the clinic with our laundry so we found a local laundry shop and then I hustled back to the clinic as fast as I could to make it in time for my retrieval. I went back to the procedure area and changed clothes, then I went back to the procedure room, got comfortable, got my IV, and they started the egg retrieval. I wasn’t able to fully fall asleep during the retrieval. To say it was uncomfortable was an understatement, but at least it was over quickly.

They found 1 egg in each follicle, so 4 total. They started the fertilization process right away using ICSI.

We hired a taxi driver to pick up our laundry and take us back to the hotel. Once there, I was a little too sore to do anything except lay down, so I rested and stayed on top of my pain medications. I started feeling much better after a nap so Hubman and I walked down the boardwalk and met a few new awesome friends at Chill Bar. We hung out there for a while and grabbed a bite to eat before my pain meds wore off and it was time to head back to the hotel to get some more rest.

We found out this day that of the 4 eggs retrieved, only 3 were mature. Of those 3, 1 didn’t make it past the fertilization stage. The next day we found out 1 other hadn’t made it past day 1, which left us with 1 single embryo that was trying its hardest to develop and grow. This would be the single embryo that we transferred.

The next day I was feeling sore and swollen so I opted to stay inside and rest as much as I could. On the 3rd day, I was still very swollen but I was feeling good enough to head to the beach and meet some new friends from England. I got to see some baby sea turtles hatching from their nest and making their way to the ocean. I cried… a lot. (There’s a video on my tiktok if you want to experience it along with me!) It was the most amazing thing to witness and you guys know I have always had such a huge spot in my heart for sea turtles. After what seemed like an amazing day where everything was going well, I had a bit of a scare.

I’m so used to my body revolting against me that I thought for sure everything we had worked so hard for up to this point had been for nothing. We made plans to go to Oistin’s Fish Fry on Friday night with some new friends that we had just met. I left the beach and ran back up to the room to shower and get ready for dinner so we would be ready to meet our friends back in the lobby by 6:30. I took the fastest shower and when I stepped out to dry off, that’s when the panic set in. The amount of blood on my towel was more than alarming. I thought for sure I had started my period and seeing how our embryo transfer was scheduled for the next morning, you can imagine how upset I was.

I called the emergency line to my clinic and was connected to Dr. Skinner. She asked exactly what was happening and when I explained the situation, she assured me that this was likely a vaginal bleeding wound from the egg retrieval, since I was on blood thinners, rather than uterine bleeding caused by my menstrual cycle. She tried so hard to put my mind at ease, however, that’s much easier said than done. I tried so hard to move past it and enjoy the evening at the fish fry. The food was amazing and the company was awesome. I enjoyed visiting with new friends and experiencing more of Barbados’ traditions.

Sadly, all I could think about was how defeated I felt by my body, how I was just certain that I would show up for my embryo transfer the next morning to be told that it wasn’t going to happen. I was terrified. I didn’t get any sleep Friday night. As soon as Hubman fell asleep, I hid on the balcony and cried because the fear was so real. I finally fell asleep around 3, just to wake at 6 and head to the clinic for our transfer. Stay tuned to find out how our transfer day went.

I truly appreciate all of you guys taking the time to read our story.

Until next time, be humble and stay kind.

IVF in Barbados: 2nd clinic visit and some island fun

Oh hey, pretties! I’m glad to see you came back. I certainly missed your face around here. I suppose you wanna know what’s up since the last time I posted? Well, I’m here to tell you. This is a fun one! (Sorta)

Saturday was the most relaxing day ever. Hubman and I sat on the beach all day and had a relaxing yet, still frustratingly slow dinner at Blakey’s on the boardwalk. We got there and waited until 30 minutes before curfew before requesting that our food, yet again, be boxed in to-go containers so that we could get back to our hotel in time for curfew.

Now for the fun part! Sunday was Hubman’s birthday. We got up early and had breakfast at the hotel, where they gave him a chocolate birthday cake surprise.

Then we hopped on a bus and over to the docks to join in on a catamaran cruise. We went snorkeling and saw loads of gorgeous fish and stingrays. We got to swim with sea turtles and here in Barbados, we are allowed to touch them. Those of you who know me, know I basically was in heaven. They had to call me back to the boat because I didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t my top bucket list of meeting RuPaul, but it was certainly a second to see and touch sea turtles in their natural habitat. Hubman was being handed birthday cocktails and shots every time he turned around. We were served a delicious lunch on the boat right in front of Rihanna’s house.

After the cruise, we came home to get cleaned up for dinner. We walked down the boardwalk again to a lovely place called Tapas. The food was exceptional and the view was stunning. We watched the sunset over the ocean and enjoyed our dinner. They surprised Hubman with some ice cream complete with sparklers. For the first time since we’ve been here, we weren’t rushed back to our room for curfew so we strolled the boardwalk and watched the moon shine over the water while the waves crashed the shore until we finally got back to our room to settle down for the night.

It was a truly wonderful weekend, and more needed than anyone could imagine for so many reasons.

Our 2nd appointment with the clinic was Monday morning. Again, it went as well as to be expected. Still only 4 follicles, but all 4 had grown and were progressing nicely. I was told to trigger at 10 on Monday night and scheduled our egg retrieval for 10 on Wednesday morning. Seeing how I am a low responder to the stim injections due to many factors, my nurse suggested something called a Protein Rich Plasma treatment during my retrieval to help with a second cycle, should this cycle be a complete flop. I’m going to do a post specifically on PRP treatment, so if you’re interested to know what that is, stay tuned!

After our appointment, we went back to ArtSplash. Seriously, their breakfast is simply delicious.

We came back to the hotel and immediately jumped into our regular 9-5’s. We are both still working while we’re here, though we try to use our off time to enjoy the island as much as possible.

After work, we went to dinner and at 10 that night I did my 2 trigger injections. Trigger shots are a high dose of HCG that causes the eggs to mature and release from the ovaries. Within 36 hours of triggering, my body will be ready for my team to collect the eggs that I stimmed for the previous ten days.

Today, November 16th, we spent the day working in the room and then went to dinner. Dinner tonight was at a LOVELY place called Buzo. We met an adorable waiter who I have a feeling will be my new BFF before the end of this trip. The food was phenomenal and the service was even better.

We’re currently watching some Netflix before bed and I’m writing this post to take my mind off of the anxiety I feel for tomorrow’s results.

It’s pretty late and I have my blood draw early in the morning before the procedure. I’m going to try to lay my anxious self down and dream about RuPaul, Michelle Visage, and sea turtles and think happy dragqueen-filled thoughts. I’ll be back tomorrow for an update on how the retrieval went and how I’m feeling.

Much love and hugs and stuff,

IVF in Barbados: Egg Retrieval Day (Science is awesome)

Whoooo hoooooo! We did it! We finally made it egg retrieval day. Egg retrieval is a surgical procedure done to remove the egg from a woman’s ovaries for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The procedure is done in a minimally invasive way and has a short recovery time.

3 Potential Risks Associated with Egg Retrieval | Assessing the Medical  Risks of Human Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research: Workshop Report |  The National Academies Press

When I got to the clinic at 7 in the morning, I had my blood drawn for my PRP treatment. Protein Rich Plasma (PRP) is done during ovarian rejuvenation. During ovarian rejuvenation PRP is directly injected into a patient’s ovaries with her own platelet-rich plasma (PRP), infusing the ovaries with proteins rich in growth factors and stem-cell chemoattractants. We opted for this treatment due to my poor response to the ovarian stim cycle. I have what is called diminished ovarian reserve which means I don’t have many eggs left in my ovaries for science to play with.

Evidence from in vitro studies shows that PRP supports the viability and growth of human early preantral follicles. Direct injection of PRP into the stroma of poor responder ovaries leads to an increase in the number of follicles and eggs retrieved. In short, we chose this treatment to help our odds at another cycle have a greater egg count. Of course, we are still hopeful that we won’t need a second cycle, but should we need one, we’ll have this as a sort of “safety net” so to speak. You can read more about PRP treatments here.

After my blood was drawn, we walked over to the laundry mat and did laundry so we could have some fresh clothes for the rest of the trip. At 9:30, we returned back to the clinic for my egg retrieval, which I have to admit was not the most pleasant day so far. I was supposed to be put under for the procedure, however, the anesthesia didn’t work and I was wide awake and alert the entire time. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.

Once it was over, the team let me know that they were able to collect 4 eggs. I won’t know until tomorrow if they were mature and fertilized or not. Our eggs were fertilized using a method called ICSI, rather than traditional IVF. Here is my attempt at trying to explain this the best I can.

Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a modification of the in vitro fertilization (“Test-tube baby”) technique where the egg is fertilized outside the body by injecting the sperm directly into it. The embryo(s) are then introduced back into the woman’s uterus in the same way as for IVF. You can read more on ICSI here.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common procedures for infertility. IVF when translated means fertilization “in glass” and refers to the process where a woman’s eggs are fertilized with male sperm outside of her body in a laboratory to produce embryos. IVF is an option for many couples who struggle to conceive naturally. Once these embryos are created they are transferred to the woman’s uterus after 3 to 5 days and it is here that nature takes over for the embryo/s to implant and progress to a successful pregnancy. You can read more on IVF here.

So what’s the difference between ICSI and IVF?

The main difference is in how the egg is fertilized. With IVF, the egg is there for many sperm to fight over and the winner takes the egg. No pun intended. With ICSI, the embryologist selects 1 single sperm per egg and injects the sperm into the egg for fertilization. It’s much more controlled and is better for those with male factor fertility issues, which we have as well.

I did my best. If you guys have any questions at all, I’d love to spread awareness on this topic, so please ask them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

For now, I’m exhausted. It’s been a rough day and I think I need a nap.

I’ll be in touch soon when we find out what happens with those 4 eggs they collected.

Much love and hugs and stuff,

IVF in Barbados – Our 1st appointment with the clinic

We arrived on the beautiful island of Barbados on Wednesday, November. 10th. We arrived at our hotel just in time to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. We unpacked and immediately went in search for food. After traveling all day and having nothing but some cookies, cheesecake crackers, and gummy bears, we were ready for full bellies and a good night’s sleep.

~ Barbados from the plane ~

We walked down to a place called BACKYAAD and had dinner on the ocean. So far, everywhere we’ve been has done temperature checks and login information to track for COVID. Hand sanitizer is about as common and easily found as the rum punch, and trust me, that shit is EVERY WHERE! It was dark, as it gets dark around 5pm, but you could still see the beautiful waves crashing on the shore. We relaxed and waited for our dinner, but this island TRULY is on “island time.” No body here is in a hurry for anything, and while I respect and understand that, I do have fertility injections that have to be done at a very specific time.

Unfortunately I had to leave Hubman to wait for the food after an hour and a half, walk back to the hotel and give myself my injections. He requested the food be packaged for to go, and brought it up to me so we could eat in the room. I’m fairly certain within an hour after eating, we both passed out for roughly 10 hours, as we were completely exhausted due to the previous few days of preparation, anxiety, and traveling.

~ The moon over the ocean at 6pm ~

When we woke up on Thursday, I had to jump right into work. I’m very lucky to be able to work while I’m here on our fertility journey. So I stayed in the room until it was time for dinner. We went downstairs to the fish fry, where I had a wonderful chicken cordon bleu dish, but again, dinner was over 3 hours. Literally nobody is in a hurry here. It’s nice, but for the second time in a row I had to leave dinner to go give myself my injections.

Lesson learned, if we have to do this again, choose an early morning time or a very late evening time. 8pm isn’t late enough…

~ The last stab before we find out how I’m responding to these fertility drugs! Hoping my body isn’t hating me too much right now! ~

We came back to the room and settled down for the night since our first appointment was at 8:00 on Friday morning. Renting a car on the island is a bit pricey, so we are walking everywhere for the time being. We do plan to rent a car later and travel around to see more of the island when we have time.

~ The beach is right across the street from the Fertility Center! ~

Friday morning I hopped out of bed, super excited to finally go meet my team that is responsible for our journey this far. It’s a very short walk, maybe 10 minutes from where we are staying to the Barbados Fertility Centre. Once we arrived, we had our temperatures checked and we were signed in. We finally met Dr. Skinner who is simply lovely. She explained what the visit was for and what we were looking for. She’s so welcoming and warm and it was so hard not to hug her sweet neck. I really hate COVID.

~ I felt like I was the only patient there, though I know I wasn’t, as I met so many beautiful women that made this trip with us while we were at the clinic! ~

We proceeded with the ultrasound and they only found 4 follicles. Due to stage 4 endometriosis and a low AMH, I was expecting exactly what happened to happen. They only found 2 follicles on each ovary. 4 total.

This means we aren’t out of the game yet, we are just playing on a much harder difficulty level.

~ It’s not the best news, but it’s exactly what I was expecting. ~

The rest of Friday was spent having breakfast at ArtSplash, which has some phenomenal smoothies and breakfast/lunch options. Then we came back to the hotel and I worked until way too late while snacking on some awesome pizza that Hubman brought back so I wouldn’t have to leave my computer for the night.

~ Pancake Breakfast at ArtSplash ~

For now, It’s Saturday and we plan on having the most amazing week end enjoying this beautiful island. As I type this post, I’m currently sitting under a tree on the beach waiting for a rum punch refill and some lunch. Sunday is Hubman’s birthday, so we have an eventful day planned full of fun adventures.

~ Vitamin Sea and Relaxation. Doctor’s Order! ~
~ Naps on the beach are the best naps. ~

I’ll keep you posted on our adventures around the island this weekend and our results from our next scan on Monday.

Until then, enjoy yourself and remember not to take life so seriously!