As a lot of you know (especially if you follow me on snapchat and Instagram) Ben and I have been preparing for our next IVF frozen embryo transfer lately. It's been a loooooooonggggg freaking time coming unfortunately. Our last frozen embryo transfer was all the way back in May of 2016... and we've hit a few road blocks and speed bumps since then unfortunately (you can read more about those here and here). But finally, we're back where we want to be and just praying to high heaven that I get pregnant once again... and this time, stay pregnant.
As we prepare and I share our "journey" with you, a ton of you have been reaching out to me asking me tips and tricks and what I do to prepare for IVF. So today, I thought I might write down and share with you what I do to prepare for our frozen embryo transfer. But before I dive in, I just have to note that obviously if you're going through IVF as well, I highly recommend speaking with your doctor, who knows your body, about what they recommend as well.
How to prepare for your frozen embryo transfer
If someone said wearing a paper bag over my head everyday for a month would help my chances of getting pregnant post frozen embryo transfer, I would totally do it in a heartbeat haha. I will honestly do whatever it takes to increase my chances of a successful implantation. Thankfully, my doctor didn't recommend that haha, but here is what they have suggested to me:
Take Your Vitamins
Every morning, I take my pre-natals (with DHA), folic acid supplement (Folgard) and 200mg of CoQ10 (a vitamin-like substance that is suggested to enhance both female and male fertility). As we age, naturally occurring levels of CoQ10 diminish and taking a supplement is said to help to decrease the damaging effects of free radicals on our reproductive systems. It acts as an antioxidant and helps support the healthy and efficient growth of a baby.
Get your Uterine Lining Nice and Thick
Who would have imagined that one day I would be jumping for joy at the fact that I have a "nice, thick uterine lining," haha?! But we women going through IVF know it's something to celebrate! With something seemingly going wrong at every turn and living our lives one hurdle to the next on our path to becoming parents, we have to celebrate the small things. So when I found out that my uterine lining was at a 12.5 thickness I cried. I literally cried you guys (and not like the cute kind... but like the out of control bawling kind). I called Ben to tell him the good news as soon as I got to the car but he was in a meeting and couldn't talk... I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I didn't know where else to turn and shared my good news with all of you over on Instagram and Snapchat haha. It took me a good 20 minutes to stop crying haha. I had honestly been so worried about it though for weeks - because if your lining is too thin (or even too thick), your transfer can be cancelled and you have to start. all. over. again. This can set you back a few months and ain't nothin' getting in my way of having this baby THIS YEAR! This is OUR year!
Anyway, so how did we get there? I ate a healthy diet rich in iron (beets, spinach and beef (bring on the tacos)) and my doctor performed THREE endometrial "scratchings." If this sounds like some type of medieval torture, you're right, it is haha. It's pretty much where my doctor goes in, on three separate occasions mind you, and scratches the heck out of my uterine lining to pretty much create scar tissue and thus promote growth. They basically shove a catheter up your uterus and count backwards from 10 as they "scrape" your insides. I am not gonna lie, it hurts haha. But in 10 seconds it's over (thank goodness) and all I am left with is a little mild cramping and, hopefully, a thicker uterine lining. So, totally worth it!
In the end, all our efforts worked and I had that beautiful "three stripe" pattern and a nice, thick uterine lining! Woohoo! Best news ever haha (well, until I pass the next hurdle on the road to becoming parents, that is).
Another thing I do to promote a healthy uterine lining is that I take 500mg of L-Arginine twice a day (morning and night) in preparation for the transfer (and up until a pregnancy is confirmed). It helps to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries and also promotes a healthy environment for little baby L to implant.
Reduce Your Chances of Endometrial Fluid
Who knew that was a thing? But nearly exactly one year ago, Ben I spent months preparing for a frozen embryo transfer only to have it cancelled the morning of due to endometrial fluid (you can read about our experience here). Endometrial fluid can result, I believe, from some of the estrogen supplements they have you on during a frozen embryo transfer cycle. And unfortunately, they have to cancel the transfer because they don't want to place your embryo(s) into a swimming pool or they could "slide right out." And obviously, we don't want that. We worked unbelievably hard to make those little embabies (blood, sweat and tears) so we want the best chances possible for them to implant.
Anyway, so ever since that happened, I have been terrified it's going to happen again. At the time it happened my doctor had recommended that I take 400iu twice a day of Vitamin E to help clear it up. So now, each transfer cycle, I take that amount, just in case. My doctor said it can't hurt to take it, so why not. Thankfully, this frozen embryo transfer cycle, I had no fluid. PHEW! What a freaking relief. I think the Vitamin E might have helped too.
Make your Acupuncture Appointments
Honestly, before we started trying to have a baby nearly five years ago, I would have looked at you like you were crazy if you suggested that I go to acupuncture. I am beyond terrified of needles and see enough of them on a daily basis while going through IVF. However, I have done acupuncture every single time we have a frozen embryo transfer, and obviously it's worked every time for me so far... so I won't be stopping anytime soon. (Mind you, that's my personality - I am kind of superstitious. In law school I got the high grade on a final exam and I happened to be wearing my neon lace panties that day - from then on they were deemed my "lucky panties" and I wore them to every exam I could from then on out haha).
Anyway, back to the point... I usually do acupuncture the day of our transfer (both immediately before and again immediately after they transfer our embryo(s) back to me). The appointment before the transfer is said to help your body overcome imbalances it may have and also support healthy reproductive circulation, while the appointment after your transfer is meant to help keep everything calm. Your uterus is like a giant moving ocean to your little embaby(ies) and you want those seas to be nice and calm so he and/or she can find their way to your endometrium to implant. I usually follow up our transfer with one or two more acupuncture appointments during my two week wait to find out if our little embaby attached. It just helps to keep me (and my oceans) calm.
I like to schedule these well in advance to make sure I don't have anything to stress about leading up to the transfer. It's important to me that I feel stress-free and completely ready before our frozen embryo transfer.
Get all your grocery shopping done in advance
Speaking of getting everything done in advance, I really hate feeling stressed leading up to my frozen embryo transfer. I like to get my work done beforehand (or take a blogging break if I need to, hence my recent hiatus). That includes getting my grocery shopping done. There are certain things that I like to eat and do post-transfer so it's important that I make a list and run to the store with my husband to get everything ready.
First and foremost, there are a lot of articles and blogs out there saying eat this or that, and, like I said, I don't know if they work or not... but my rule of thumb is that if I am going to stress or worry if I don't do it, then it's just better that I do. It can't hurt, so why not.
I usually get a pineapple and eat a ton both before and after our frozen embryo transfer. I also always get a lot of pomegranate juice and drink a large, warm glass every day. One of my favorite things to drink every morning (and especially during and after a transfer) is hot honey lemon water. So I usually also stock up on some yummy lemons and honey (I go through it quickly because I drink so much haha).
They say that eating warm foods is best because when you eat or drink cold items all of the blood rushes to your tummy to help digest - and you really want all your blood circulating around your uterus at this time. So I usually also stock up on soup and if I am going to eat something cold, like a salad, then I follow it with something warm, like soup, hot honey-lemon water or warm pomegranate juice etc.
Set out your "princess status"
clothes pajamas beforehand
After every transfer, my doctor puts me on "princess status" for 3 days to allow the embryo(s) a chance to attach. This is basically a glorified couch potato status with a pretend crown on my head so I can ask my hubby for anything and everything and it shall be brought haha. I am not supposed to use the stairs except once in the morning and once at night and I am supposed to limit my standing - so I like to set out my clothes beforehand on my nightstand so I can just grab a fresh pair of pajamas in the morning and head straight down to the couch. I also like to set out a couple fluffy pair of socks. A cold body means a cold uterus, so I like to always keep my toes warm!
Keep your computer off your belly
I work from home, and a lot of the time I am working from the couch with some mindless TV playing in the background. And as terrible as it is for me (and my back), I do it more often than I should. At this point, it's just kind of habit. So I have to consciously keep my computer away from my lap. When you put heat on your belly it draws the blood upwards, but as I mentioned earlier, it's important to keep your blood circulating around your uterus, so I try and keep my computer away from me and work from somewhere else if I have to. But quite honestly, I like to have no distractions and remain stress-free around the time of a frozen embryo transfer. So whatever you have to do to just chill and relax and be happy, I highly recommend it. For me, that usually involves a lot of Disney movies and Shrek marathons.
Anyway, this is just what I do to prepare before a frozen embryo transfer. I hope this helps some of you who are also going through IVF, and maybe gives the rest of you a little insight into what my life is like right now and how much careful planning and thought goes into this very special day.
And thank you so much for taking the time to read this, my friends. I love and appreciate you ALL!
If someone said that wearing a paper bag over my head every day for a month straight would help our chances of getting pregnant, I would do it in a heartbeat. But thankfully, that hasn't (yet) been recommended to me haha. But a lot of you have been emailing asking me what I do to prepare for a frozen embryo transfer, so today...