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!

IVF in Barbados

It seems like the past few months have flown by and as I write this on the plane ride to Barbados, all I can think about is all the things I’ve been though to get to this point in our journey.

~ Whatever happens, happens. It’s all going to be fine. ~

Countless labs, never ending exams, DNA and genetic testing, more vitamins and supplements than ever in my life, failed treatments, procedures, prescriptions, diagnoses, a surgery, 3 months of cycle suppression, and now FINALLY our fertility injections and other IVF medications. All this in just 11 months? It’s certainly been mad chaos.

~ Leaving San Antonio for Miami. ~

Today, November 10th, 2021, is the 6th day of our 1st IVF cycle. It’s also travel day. We woke up in San Antonio at 3am. We made it to the airport for our first flight by 4:30am. After a layover in Miami, we are currently somewhere over the Bahamas quickly approaching Barbados.

~ We are not awake, but we made it on the plane! ~

A question I get often is, “Where is Barbados?” Barbados is located in the Caribbean Region of the North Atlantic Ocean. As an island in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is a country in the West Indies.

~ Barbados is north of South America near the equator. ~

The island country is in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, and shares the east side of the coast with the Atlantic Ocean. Roughly triangular in shape, the island measures some 20 miles from northwest to southeast and about 15 miles from east to west at its widest point.

Ooooo – American Airlines is serving Biscoff cookies and cranberry cocktails. YES PLEASE!

~ Mile High Writer’s Club ~

Thank you all for the love and support you have shown us thus far. The calls, messages, prayers, gifts, donations, and constant positive reminders to stay positive are so appreciated.

I’m going to try to post updates here throughout our trip. I’m also going to be sharing photos to my Instagram and vlogs to TikTok. Stay tuned to see how our first round goes!

Hugs & love & stuff,