Infertility Update: Day 5 Blastocyst

A common complaint I hear from my female friends is about their parents pushing them to have kids. That was never me. My parents knew I’d have problems with fertility since I survived cancer at the age of six. The doctors weren’t even sure if my reproductive system would ever turn on at all.

Instead of “when you’re a mother”, it was more or less “if you do have kids”. My parents hoped I could have children if I wanted them, but feared setting my expectations too high. After all, it wasn’t my fault if I couldn’t.

There was a sigh of relief among my parents and doctors when my reproductive system turned on at age 12 and worked perfectly through my early twenties. It seemed like maybe I’d defeat the odds.

Sadly, the odds caught up to me by my mid-twenties.

Before I married my husband I told him honestly that if he married me he might never have biological children. I could not promise that to him, but I would try my best. He understood and said, “Children or no children, I want to be with you. I’m okay if we are childless.”

I replied, “But you’re family line will die out.”

He shrugged. “That’s okay. My family didn’t have the best DNA anyway.”

That answer still makes me chuckle. There was something sweet and endearing in how he said it.

My amh is almost undetectable and I had one fsh that was over 47. My fsh stays at between 15-20 these days. I’ve heard “I’m sorry” from our doctor more times than I care to count.

Last March, after yet another devastating result and going six months without getting a single egg, I demanded my husband find an excellent acupuncturist, the best he could find in Tokyo. I also demanded we pay for me to restart hot yoga. We’d go all in for one final year of trying. We’d try our best and then, if things didn’t work out, we’d move on with our lives.

He agreed.

We found an excellent acupuncturist, like none I’d ever tried before. His treatment was painful, but highly effective. We also went in on his Chinese medicine treatment that required me drinking a disgusting-tasting liquid twice a day.

I had to wonder, were we going all in on a crackpot treatment? Was desperation blinding us? But my husband felt confident in this method. We agreed to stay with it for a year even though it was costly.

For the first three months there was no big change other than I had a lot more energy and I had no back aches anymore. Reproductive-wise, our results worsened. We started in March and by June I got my worst FSH reading: a 47! We retrieved no eggs, didn’t even get a chance.

However, my acne has started to clear up. I no longer had anything more than slight breakout. My shoulder pains vanished. I had tons of energy. I dreamed vividly again and slept peacefully. Something was changing.

At the end of July I hit rock bottom. Sure, I felt better than I had in years and I felt younger somehow, but nothing seemed to be changing in the infertility front. I was supposed to go on a Saturday to check the follicle, but I told my husband to cancel it. The follicle was posting a mediocre E2 and struggled to crack a 100. It seemed doomed.

I was sure I wouldn’t even ovulate.

We cancelled.

A week later I had the clinic check if I had ovulated. To my surprise, I did. Despite bad numbers, I ovulated on day 16.

That was a curiously healthy ovulation day. The luteal phase lasted 15 days. Things were improving.

August Attempt

Along came August, and there were signs that things were definitely turning around.

On day 6 of that cycle my E2 was 115 and a 14 mm follicle was growing. On day 8 it was still 14 and E2 was 142. After I went to acupuncture and returned on day 10 the follicle’s E2 jumped to 288.

It had been a year since any follicle of mine produced an E2 that high. The follicle also had a great shape and well built cell walls that were visible on the ultrasound. It was 16 and the LH surge had begun.

Unfortunately, the timing was against us. Due to clinic hours we had a choice of take out what seemed like a lucky egg after 24 hours or wait 40 hours. I was afraid of ovulating too soon and missing our chance so we opted for 40 hours.

I used the nasal spray that matures the egg and starts meiosis, then headed home.

And to our surprise, for the first time in months, we got a M1 egg, one that fertilized and grew to morula stage. Sadly, it stopped growing right before day 5 blastocyst.

But we were more hopeful. At least we were getting eggs again.

September Attempt

In September they found another follicle growing at a healthy clip. E2 was okay. By day 12 the follicle was 18mm with an E2 of 246. LH was 26 and the doctor said, “We need to take it out”.

At 2am I used the nasal spray to mature the egg. (There were actually two follicles, but only the E2 for one mature egg.)

I was lucky enough to be able to crash a at a wonderful friend’s place the night before. After our goodbyes, I head to the clinic. This time, they got a MATURE egg. Now that hasn’t happened in over a year. I had high hopes for this egg.

However, like the August Attempt, the embryo divided and stopped growing at the same point, just on the cusp of a day 5 blastocyst. Twice now they had failed at the same point.

We were doing much better now, but would we get three in row when before we struggled to get any egg at all. The acupuncture, Chinese medicine, yoga, and new diet seemed to be finally paying off.

I was consistently getting mature eggs now. Each month had improved results.

October Attempt

On day 4 my FSH was 15 (very good for me) and E2 was 27. By day 9 my E2 was 144. Unfortunately, the doctor couldn’t see the follicle because it was in the right ovary that had drifted behind the large fibroid in my uterus. It was there, they were sure, but blocked from sight on the ultrasound.

I was happy to hear my right ovary was still producing follicles. The follicles in August and September both came from the left. I read once that 75% of all pregnancies come from follicles produced on the right. Apparently that ovary gets the superior blood supply due to the way the arteries flower in the body. Too bad for me that my right is the damaged one.

On day 11 my E2 was 256 and LH was 29. The follicle looked about 15 mm, yet they could not be sure since it was still obscured by the fibroid.

Once again I used the nasal spray to mature the egg and medicine to suppress ovulation.

I felt sure I had ovulated the morning of “Take Out”. I was positive it would be another “I’m sorry”. However, it was there. It was still there.

The needle was painful and the doctor missed on his first try. I almost cried from the pain. They got the egg. In fact, they told me on the operating table, “we got an egg”. Usually they struggle to find it. Even I saw it come out into the petri dish on the screen. It was so obvious it might as well have been shining.

To our delight it was another mature egg. Two in a row is a first for us. We’ve never retrieved two mature eggs in a row. Ever.

While we left for Texas, our embryo was left to divide and grow. As soon as my husband returned to Japan he called the clinic for the result. To our delight, our October Surprise was a success.

It went to day 5 blast!

It was even better and bigger than our only other Blast. But we finally have another and more hope for our odds of becoming parents.

Let’s see if we get a November Surprise as well. Wish us luck ~

art backlit dark dawn

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

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