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More than Just Words


a blog by S.I.F. October 5, 2010


It’s what happens when your baby to be snuggles up into your uterine lining and decides to stick around. It’s also what the vast majority of people instinctively call the final stage of IVF.

The “transfer” stage.

Because that is all that’s happening. A transfer. That’s it. The rest is left up to fate.

I’ll admit; I’ve made this terminology error myself. As I was nearing my own transfer and writing about it, I referred to the procedure by calling it an implantation; i.e., “I’m having my embryo implanted tomorrow morning at 11.”

I made this error over and over again. Genuinely not knowing any better. And even more importantly, genuinely not caring.

This was my big moment after all! Proper terminology meant nothing to me. I wasn’t trying to educate the masses. I was just trying to make it through.

So when I received an e-mail from a reader gently reminding me of the correct terminology, it’s possible I snapped back at her.

To be fair; I was hopped up on all kinds of hormones and I had been living in a hotel for three weeks. I was preparing to walk into a clinic and put my life, my future and my fate in their hands. To say that I was stressed would be an understatement.

Somehow, though, (despite my bratty attitude) she managed to respond back with kindness — with understanding and grace.

Getting my mood, as only a fellow infertile could.

It wasn’t until after my negative beta that I really began to think about how wholly inappropriate it was to use the implantation terminology in that context. After all, there is no procedure that forces those embryos to implant. No way of guaranteeing they’ll snuggle up safely the way they’re supposed to. No way to coerce them into staying put.

Instead, those embryos are simply dropped off. Like valuable packages left on your doorstep when you’re out of town. All you can do is hope that they stay there. It’s a gamble though — and you know it.

If it was as simple as implanting those embryos and calling it a day, we would all be pregnant.

But it’s not that simple. Those embryos are transferred from the Petri dish to your uterus, and that’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Using any other word (implying in any way that implantation is imminent) for what takes place on that table while you have your legs spread wide in the air is just ... wrong.

Because it’s more than just a word, it’s the goal. The dream. The final outcome we all hope for, and only half of us get.

It’s the reason we do this.

So while calling that final step “implantation” may make sense to those who simply don’t understand what’s involved, to those of us who know better, it can sting. It becomes the reminder that maybe we didn’t do it right. Maybe we somehow missed a step.

Maybe it was even our fault.

It’s just a slip-up of terminology. No one would ever mean any harm in making this very common error, and many don’t even realize they’ve made it. But once you’ve been there, once you’ve realized that implantation doesn’t always occur?

Calling it anything other than a transfer…


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Comments (2)

Thank you for the correction. I did notice this too, but knew, at the time you were going through a lot and figured there would be a better time to mention the correct terminology. It's great that you corrected it and came out and told people the right terminology. That's what this experience is: a learning one.
And for what it's worth, I've had doctors use the term "how many did you implant". I DO correct them because, really, they are doctors! So you are definitely not the only one to make this boo boo:) AND there is a well known pregnancy book out there which calls transferring "implanting".
You are very brave to make this correction in front of your viewers and I have so much respect for you because of it!

I honestly cringe now to think of how many may have been reading what I was writing and thinking how very wrong it was! You're right though; it's a learning experience, and at least there is always something to be taken from that!

And I do feel better knowing doctors and fertility authors have made the same error! Thank you so much for at least letting me know I'm in good company! ;)

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