For those of you who follow my blog you will know that after five years of various fertility treatments we had been given an amazing and generous offer from my father to help us to afford to go privately for IVF. It was such an overwhelming offer and I can’t begin to explain how amazing it is to suddenly be in a position where hope springs back in to your life. It was an emotional few days where I felt like someone needed to pinch me! Once we talked about it and researched various places my husband and I finally booked our consultation with a hospital in Glasgow.
Our initial consultation included blood samples from myself and my husband (as well as other samples required for fertility assessments) and we were to return a couple of weeks later for results and discussions on what this meant for the protocol we would be following. Some people will think that IVF is just a process that will be very much the same from beginning to end for each person but, based on what your issues are or hormones levels are this can be completely different for each patient/couple.
Previously my AMH had been 52 – this result is reflective of egg reserve and is extremely high for a woman of my age however, it means I have lots of eggs which is something positive but it also means I am at risk of over responding to the drugs and this can be dangerous and in some cases life threatening so I need to be careful with drug dosage and being monitored closely etc. This time my AMH was 64, so same problem but the blood tests mean we know this and I could be monitored closely, it would just mean more trips to the hospital than other patients. Everything else was pretty much good to go and the hospital were also offering a process called ICSI (pronounced iksee) in with the price as they are currently trialling this for research purposes. ICSI is the process where by an individual sperm is injected into each of the eggs collected, by an embryologist to assist with fertilisation. We were delighted that this was on offer as it’s normally a more costly procedure. All the paperwork was signed and I was given the first set of drugs (Norethisterone) to take for 7 days. This was it; we were finally on the road to IVF!
I returned on day 3 for a scan but unfortunately they found a 4.5cm cyst inside my left ovary that wasn’t there a few months ago. They asked if I had been diagnosed with endometriosis as well as polycystic ovaries before now. I told them….,”No I don’t have that, you must be wrong, I don’t have that….” As if I was in any way a medical professional! I was told sorry but this is a solid cyst and is a symptom of endometriosis and they may want to cancel my cycle to try to shrink the cyst. This would be discussed by the specialists that day and they would phone me if we were to cancel. Tears instantly started to burn my eyes…..I had gone to the apt alone because I hadn’t expected for there to be anything else wrong. How could there be more wrong….have I not jumped enough hurdles???? I put a brave face on and asked what this meant. I was so lucky because the nurse I had was amazing and she quickly calmed me and reassured me it was unlikely they would cancel. She gave me all my injections away and told me to stop worrying. So on the plus side I had my hormones away with me to start the following day but on the negative side I kept crying because I couldn’t believe there was something else standing in my way. No one called me…..I was elated that no one called me….it meant we could keep going! I woke up the next morning and started my injections……phew….one step closer!!!
I was injecting 150ml Menopur every morning and 0.25mg Cetrotide in the evenings (at set times for both). They appeared to get the dosage pretty spot on for me and slowly but surely by ovaries started to respond. I was back and forward every two or three days to be scanned to see what was happening. Amazingly my left ovary with the cyst inside it was actually responding the best. The drugs help the ovaries create follicles; these are basically little sacs of fluid that should contain an egg inside once they reach a certain size. As the ovaries begin to respond they swell and you feel really full up and swollen inside and out. I did get quite uncomfortable but it was totally worth it as we had never got this far before and feeling swollen meant something was working! I injected for a total of 13 days and was advised to trigger shot (a final injection you take to help mature the eggs inside the follicles before egg collection) on Saturday 15th October at 11:30pm as it was the exact number of hours before egg collection that it needed to be. I was so excited and as I took that final shot my heart was beating so fast! I couldn’t believe I had got to egg collection stage!
On Monday 17th I went in for egg collection. I was terrified and kept shaking. I was scared firstly of being put to sleep (as I have never had this done before) and secondly of there being no eggs. I said to my husband if we have five or more eggs I will be delighted but really deep down I was scared there would be none so even one would be good! He had to leave (and do his part) and I was taken into theatre. I had to carry a card with my details on it and walk into the theatre over to a hatch, hand over my card (like I was a member of some super fancy club), say my details to the person in the lab and lie down on the bed and put my legs into what can only be described as half snow boots. The anaesthetist, who I had already met briefly to put my cannula in said, “Ok you should already be starting to feel drowsy”……a moment of sheer panic came over me as I thought no no….I’m wide awake……oh no I’m going to feel everything……I looked up at the lights and then I remember nothing else until I woke up!
Best sleep of my life…..I woke up and was trying to pull the heart rate monitor from my finger as I was dreaming my husband had put a peg on my hand (as you do!), however, I felt fine and couldn’t believe it was over. Once I woke up a little more they brought me tea and toast and then I was told that they had collected six eggs! It wasn’t the highest number but I was more than happy with six!! My husband was allowed to come in and get me when I felt ready (which was only about twenty mins later) and he was also really pleased we had six. Next step was to go home and recover and the embryologist would phone the following day to let us know if any had fertilised.
I went home and slept most of the day, I was quite uncomfortable and sore but it was bearable as I knew I had six eggs….at this point I had done everything I could so now it was a waiting game. Next day the phone call couldn’t have come quick enough….The embryologist explained that of the 6 eggs, 5 were mature enough to be used (5 is good) and of the 5, 3 had fertilised. They were developing well and had decided we would aim for a day 5 transfer (which has a higher success rate). I was thrilled….3 little embryos in a lab an hour away that were ours! It might sound crazy but this is the closest we had come to making a baby!! I was so proud of them for making it through the night! Only a day old and already making me proud!! So Saturday was transfer day and they said they would only contact me if there was a problem…..every day with no phone call was more and more exciting! Each day I would send my husband a picture of what an embryo looked like on day 2 and day 3 etc. and say “Hi daddy this is what I look like today!”
We made it to transfer day!! My husband was unable to come along but that was ok, at this point I was not going to sweat the small stuff and instead my sister in law came with me. To be honest having her there really helped, she is a nurse and so kept me very calm and it was a pretty amazing thing to be able to share with her. When I got there I was informed of the 3 embryos only 2 had kept developing, one was a little slower than the other so they were going to give it one more day and then hopefully freeze it but the third one was doing fantastic it was the best grade it could be and had everything they would be looking for. When we went into the theatre room I was able to see our embryo on a big screen, it was amazing and they were even able to show us what part would develop into the baby and what part was the placenta. It was just cells still, but there was a clear difference between each part. It was very overwhelming and my sister in law held my hand the whole time. They put in a catheter and watched an ultrasound screen as they put the embryo in. Straight away they told me I could stand up and go. Logically you know it’s not going to fall out but you can’t help freaking out a little! We were in and out within half an hour and kept laughing at the prospect that within half an hour I had had a baby put in my tummy! I was now officially PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise!) and I was going to do everything I could to protect my little embryo and encourage it to hold on. Two days later I was told the other embryo didn’t make it and had stopped developing so this one inside of me was the only one, but it was a great one and as they say….it only takes one so I needed to stay positive!
I was given a test date which was sooner than I thought but felt like a year to come around! I was also on progesterone to help elevate my levels and create a better environment for the embryo to embed into. The hard/cruel thing about progesterone is it gives you lots of symptoms of early pregnancy so you spend the whole time thinking “am I or am I not?” based on the changes you are experiencing. I kept checking things online and checking with people I was closest to if this was something they had experienced etc. but a few days before test day there were definitely some changes, some that the progesterone hadn’t been given me the whole time and now I was really beginning to let myself believe that maybe, just maybe this was it! I kept talking to it like a crazy person telling it to burrow in and telling it all about the people that were waiting for them to be in their lives who would love them so much, all it needed to do was hold on!
Test day came……I didn’t sleep a wink, I had the shakes all night long this was going to be one of the biggest things I had ever had to do and it only involved peeing on a stick! We had come through so much in the past few weeks and it had been one hurdle after another. My brother and sister in law gifted me a clear blue digital test for my birthday days before…the one that would tell us how many weeks along we were. I went to the bathroom, did what I needed to do and brought it through and we both sat on the bed staring at the egg timer on the screen. I was shaking from my feet up. We waited for what felt like forever….willing the words pregnant to appear on the screen. Then…in one full kick to the chest….the words….Not Pregnant appeared…..and just like that it was all over……
It’s still early days and we are still very much in the early stages of getting over it. But, we have each other and people who love us, we have two wonderful nephews who we adore and people who have really gone out their way to show us they are there for us when it’s been tough….this has meant the world to us and is a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for. This is not the end…..this is only the end of this chapter before the start of another…..I don’t know how or when the next chapter will begin..…but I know we are not ready to give up just yet!