Retrieval, fertilization, & blastocysts, Oh My!

Last Tuesday morning, September 20th, I woke up around 4am, unable to sleep and anxious for the what was to come that day. See, this is my fourth time having an IVF retrieval done, but a lot is riding on the results we get at this clinic. I was slated to arrive at the CCRM surgery center at 6:30am for a 7:30am procedure. I woke Jay up, took the dogs out and got ready.

I knitted the whole way to CCRM. Jay says I am going to be the old lady knitting while waiting for surgery, I didn’t disagree.

We arrive and head up the the waiting area until the nurse comes to get us. My nurse for the procedure is ironically my original IVF nurse. When we had our initial consult, she was the one to walk us through everything we needed to do. Shortly after that, I found out she moved to the surgery center to be more hands on, and I don’t blame her. I am the same way. Anyways, she remembered us and we discussed life since we last saw her. It is such an incredible feeling when people remember you at such a high profile clinic with a large patient population.

Next, I got changed into my homely hospital gown and surgical cap. I was offered socks but I had my own that I felt may possess some good luck.. it’s a thing in the infertility world to have good luck socks! I got hooked up to all the monitors and an IV was placed, with one try!


I met the anesthesiologist, who was incredibly nice and made me feel very secure. She explained that although this procedure is done under general anesthesia, they don’t typically use any breathing tubes at CCRM, which has been my least favorite part in the past. Waking up with a sore throat is never fun.

I kept an eye on the clock. It was 7:28am when Dr Gustofson (the physician performing retrievals for that day) came in to discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure. He ended with a question he has to ask all patients, “Do you want to change your mind?”…..

OF COURSE NOT! No way I would put myself through everything I just did, just to change my mind. I am certain he has never heard ‘yes’ to that question before! He smiled and told me he would see me a while later. I never did end up seeing him later, but that is okay.

At 7:35am (and yes, I was getting anxious when the clock started ticking past 7:30am), the anesthesiologist came in and gave me some medication to relax me (fentanyl, maybe?) and rolled me into the surgical suite. The last thing I remember is the anesthesiologist pointing to a window on the other side of the room and telling me that this was where the lab is that my eggs would be passed off to. And then I was out…

I woke up to an itchy nose, like always. The best thing for this is chapstick! Easy application and makes the itching go away. I was still pretty loopy at this point but the embryologist came to talk to us.

The news she gave us had me in tears. THIRTY TWO eggs retrieved!


In my three retrievals in Jacksonville, I had a total of 22 retrieved. This was such a big improvement and way more that the 17 and 15 that Jay and I had predicted, respectively.

So that was it for the day. We wouldn’t get an update until the next day. So I got dressed and off to breakfast we went.

If you are ever in a city with a Snooze, do me a favor and please just go! You will not regret it..

We ordered the two plates on the left but our waitress gave us a free blueberry cheesecake pancake on her. It was as amazing as it sounds.

I kept it pretty low key the rest of the day. I actually was in quite a bit of pain which may have been partially attributed to OHSS or Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. Either way, I got through it without needing to be hospitalized, so I guess I did well in the end.


The next day, Wednesday the 21st, I woke up around 8:30am to my phone ringing. It was CCRM! I didn’t expect to hear an update so early, but I’m not complaining 🙂

We got good news at this point as well. Out of the 32 eggs retrieved, 20 of them were mature and able to have ICSI performed on them. ICSI is also known as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This procedure is done when there are any male factor issues that may be contributing to infertility, such as low sperm count. During this procedure, one sperm cell is injected into each egg cell. This procedure is performed around 4 hours after retrieval.


So as I was saying, the embryologist was able to perform ICSI on 20 eggs. Out of these, 17 of them fertilized normally and were beginning to grow into embryos! WOW was all I could think. That is an 85% fertilization rate which is stellar! We were thrilled but that was the easiest wait.

The next update would be how many of the fertilized eggs made it to the blastocyst stage by day 6 after retrieval. A blastocyst is defined as an embryo with differentiation of cells into two main parts: the inner cell mass that would eventually become the baby and the trophectoderm which would eventually become the placenta.

In our three prior IVF cycles, we have never seen a blastocyst. We always transferred embryos on day 3, when they are 4-8 cell structures. Whatever we had leftover after the transfer was watched but they never grew.

So we knew we had quite the wait ahead of us. We tried to stay extremely busy.

We went to the zoo…


The Hammonds Candy Factory…

Yes I wore my hat the ENTIRE time and embarrassed Jay. And my MIL did too 😉

We went Mini-Golfing, and I lost by 2 points (but Jay was keeping score so I’m not sure how accurate that is).

We went to a corn maze in Littleton, and discovered how much we like that area… hmm.

And I knitted. A lot. I actually finished a scarf in a week after quickly learning how to knit.



FINALLY, after what seemed like an eternity, I received a call from the embryologist just before noon on Monday morning, September 26th. I had prepared myself for the worst, we have never made blastocysts in the past so what made this different?

Needless to say, the supplements I took must have helped. We currently have TEN embryos that made it to this critical stage, were biopsied for chromosome testing, and were frozen with no complications. We have 10 frosty babies!

The embryologist told me the grading for them but I was too excited to write them all down. I do know that we have four day 5 embryos and six day 6 embryos. Once I speak with my nurse again, I will make sure to get the grades of each and every one of them!


Even though this is amazing news to us, we still have obstacles to cross in this journey. But for now I will cling on to the hope that at least one of these embryos is my future baby.


I just can’t help but smile when I type that.

We flew home yesterday. It felt weird leaving those 10 little pieces of Jay and I in Colorado. But, it won’t be for long.

Until my next post.. <3<3<3





A simple four letter word with so much meaning packed inside. It is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. 

But it means sooooo much more than that at the moment. 

It means a change in my life. A new adventure. New excitement. New memories. 

As most of you may know, my dearest husband is in the Navy. It is a nice lifestyle. But with the nice comes the not so nice. This month, my husband had to put in his choices for his next duty station. We are currently (and for the last 5.5 years) based at NAS Jacksonville. But, that option was limited this go around. 

This time, we had to choose from…

NAS North Island in San Diego, CA



NAS Pax River in Patuxent River, MD



or NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virgina 


(No aeriel picture? It’s that bad…)


We won’t know where we are going for at least another month, but here is to hoping that we stay put at NAS Jacksonville in the beautiful Jacksonville, FL.





On another note, I finished my OB rotation and class and realized how absolutely amazing this field is. So many emotions ran through me every clinical day. And I would not change my experience at all. I got an A (98.4%) in the class and have decided to pursue a career in midwifery!! I am beyond excited for my journey ahead.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my Pediatrics rotation and class. I have worked with kids in EVERY SINGLE one of my jobs prior to beginning nursing school and I am definitely excited for this. Kids are kind of my thing! 

And on that note, I must head to bed to begin the next crazy 8 weeks of my life!


But before I do, allow me to share one more photo of HOPE…



This little box right here showed up on my doorstep a few weeks ago. And although it may be small, It contains the most HOPE ever imaginable. Believe it! 😉


Night folks ❤