January 2018 – Our IVF Story

Dear future babies,

I don’t even know where to start, the past two months have been a whirlwind. I really wanted to write to you during the whole process, but it didn’t happen and now I know the outcome from the first cycle it’s going to be difficult for me to put myself back at the beginning, but I’ll try, so grab a cup of tea and a biscuit;

We started injections on 2nd November and believe it or not it was one of the most special days of my whole life and I’ll never forget it, it sounds silly but it was magical. We did the injection first thing in the morning, it was early but I was awake before my alarm. Your dad took care of the injections to make sure it was done properly. I was shaking as I pushed the needle in but it was painless and over so quickly it was all a bit of an anti-climax. Your dad bought me flowers, a pineapple and two lovely cards which made me cry, then your dad cried and we had a massive hug. I don’t think I’ve ever loved him more than I did in that moment.

We had decided not to tell anyone the specifics of our first cycle. I didn’t want the pressure of everyone knowing and asking. I would be putting enough stress on myself as it was without that. we just said we were hoping to start before Christmas but we wouldn’t know the outcome until after.

We continued injections for another 3 weeks, then we had to go back to the clinic for a scan to make sure those injections had done what they were supposed to. I was nervous that they would tell me it hadn’t worked but it was good news, everything looked ‘quiet’ and we were ready to start our next set of injections. These ones were more exciting as they were going to help grow lots of eggs to (hopefully) make lots of babies. From the next day onwards, we started having to do 2 injections each day.

We had our first monitoring scan on the 30th November, again my nerves kicked in and I was worrying about what they’d see. The nurse told us that we had about 3 follicles on the left ovary and about 6 on the right, they were a bit smaller than they’d like, so they decided to increase one of my doses. I was so upset, I cried the whole car journey home, it was the first time I’d felt sad since we started the whole cycle and I started to let the negative thoughts creep in. I saw so many people have around 15-20 follicles at that stage and I was just disheartened that my body was failing yet again. It also meant we had to have some more injection pens delivered so I had enough. They had to be signed for so I got them delivered to work and it caused a bit of a commotion!

I had another scan on Monday 4th December, unfortunately your Dad couldn’t go with me and I felt apprehensive going on my own, especially if it was more bad news. Luckily it wasn’t, the increased dose had done the job and all the follicles had grown, we now had around 10 decent sized and we were given the go ahead to trigger that night. We had a one-off injection to do that night at exactly 9.30pm called the trigger shot, and meant that we were officially booked in for egg collection on December 6th. So we pulled the trigger and with that injections were over. Again, it felt a bit like our first injection where after was a bit of a anti-climax and nothing really felt different.

So finally egg collection day came around, the day I’d been waiting for so long was finally here. We had to get to the hospital super early. I was a mixture of nervous about the procedure, apprehensive about how many eggs we’d get and grateful just to have got to that stage. Our doctor was so lovely he helped put us at ease and he held my hand to calm me down before the surgery (poor him, I expect it was really clammy!)

I felt ok after the procedure a bit sleepy after the anaesthetic, but I wasn’t in too much pain.  All I really wanted to know was how many eggs we’d got, and we had to wait ages! The embryologist finally came to talk to us and he told us that we had 7 mature eggs. I have to admit I was a little disappointed, I was really hoping for more. The doctor told us that he struggled to get some of the eggs from the right ovary as it was tucked awkwardly behind my womb. We tried to stay positive and left to go home. It felt weird to be leaving my eggs behind, they’d been safe with me. The clinic were going to leave them overnight see how many, if any, fertilised.

I didn’t sleep well that night, I was quite uncomfortable after the procedure and I was so nervous about what news the morning would bring. 8am rolled around and my heart was pounding, the phone rang and I tried to prepare myself for bad news, I thought if we could have 4 fertilise that would be amazing, I could barely believe it when the lovely embryologist said it was good news, all 7 had fertilised overnight, I mouthed ‘all of them’ to your Dad, holding back the tears. Finally, some good news on this journey when we normally only faced bad news and setbacks.

The next day I woke up early ready for the call to tell us how many had made it overnight, we’d also find out if we were going in for transfer that day (Friday 8th December) or Monday 11th. With every day that passed it become more nerve-wracking. The clinic rang just before 9am and told us that all 7 embryos divided however only 5 were looking where they’d expect them to be. I was so happy, with 5 embryos still in the running the clinic told us we would be moving on to a day 5 transfer, so we still had another 3 days to wait. The clinic was shut over the weekend, so we wouldn’t hear anything until then. It was torture. It was a weird thought to know that the gender of our embryos had already been decided. It was decided as soon as fertilisation had taken place and I couldn’t help but wonder if those 5 were boys or girls.

Everyone says the two-week wait after transfer is agony but I found those 5 days between egg collection and transfer the hardest part. All you can do is wait, and hope that our embryos were doing what they should be. I hated not knowing. On the Sunday I met up with some of the Instagram ladies, it was a great distraction and they are all such a fantastic support system, they had faith that we’d get good news even when I didn’t. I couldn’t help but imagine the clinic calling on Monday morning to say no embryos survived over the weekend. All we needed was one, I’d have been happy with that and any more would be a huge bonus.

On Monday I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep, I had to wait until 9.20am to get the call, it was agonising. Your Dad had to go to work in the morning, so I was on my own waiting for the call – half excitement, half dread. The lady instantly said it’s good news and I was so relieved. They had one perfect embryo ready for us to transfer later that afternoon, one more to freeze that morning and another three they were keeping an eye on. Once I hung up the phone I bawled my eyes out, I cried so much because I was just so happy, all the waiting and worrying was finally over, the relief was huge and I just sat in bed and sobbed for about five minutes before I could phone your dad. We had at least two great embryos, it was better than I ever dreamed of and we were over the moon.

The rest of the morning felt surreal, just waiting for it to be time to leave for the clinic. I kept just crying on and off. When your Dad got home from work and hugged me that set me off again for about the fouth time. It felt like Christmas eve. I had to made sure I had a full bladder in time for the transfer, so we set off to the clinic with a massive bottle of water. We sat in the waiting room and I felt all jittery, everything we’d done over the last few weeks and months came down to this moment.

We met with our consultant and embryologist again, we were told about the embryo we were transferring that day as well as another two they were hoping to freeze. They would call us the following day to confirm exactly how many. We agreed that we were happy to just transfer one embryo this time. They left to go and get the room set up for us. It was in the same room I’d had all my scans in but it was different, there was Dr Fountain, one of the nurses Deborah and Mark the embryologist who was hanging out of a hatch which connected the scan room to the lab. The atmosphere was buzzing! I got changed and into position, it was a little uncomfortable but there was a photo of our little embryo up on the screen and I couldn’t stop staring at it in disbelief that we’d made that beautiful ball of cells. The nurse got the ultrasound screen set up so we could see when the transfer happened. Dr Fountain had the bond theme soundtrack playing it was funny and helped us feel at ease.

I didn’t expect to feel emotional, I thought I’d got all that out of my system in the morning at home. When they were ready they did a countdown from three and transferred our embryo, we saw a little white speck appear on the screen, as soon as I saw it I burst into tears. That tiny little white dot on the screen was the closest I’d ever been to pregnant in the three years of trying. The nurse printed out a photo of the screen for us with that precious little white speck, I later put it on the Christmas tree next to my decoration that said ‘all I want for Christmas is you’.

I loved our embryo already. I’d already worked out my due date (29th August) and when my scans might be. I was trying to decide whether to tell the family at Christmas if we got a positive or not. We decided to name it Noel as it was Christmas time. On the way home I updated all the girls who were eagerly waiting for the news. It felt weird to have him back inside me, I’m not sure what I was expecting to feel but I didn’t feel any different, I told your Dad I was worried we weren’t ‘bonding’, that gives you an insight into how a hormonal woman’s mind works! Of course, we had to have the traditional McDonalds fries. I had a lie down when we got home, it was so sweet your dad was very attentive and protective, he told me I couldn’t drink my sprite because it was too cold. That night before bed, I made him say goodnight to Noel and give my tummy a rub.

Unfortunately, because of the time off I’d had for egg collection and with our cruise coming up I wasn’t able to take as much time off work as I’d have liked, so I went back the day after transfer. It felt weird going in, knowing little Noel was inside me, it was a little secret only I knew about. Luckily work was steady, and I had enough to do to keep me distracted although it wasn’t far from my mind. I felt every twinge and pull and wondered what it all meant. I have to admit I did spend a fair bit of time that week on google looking at other people’s symptoms from the same day.

The next day the embryologist called me to tell me we had 2 frozen embryos, one had been frozen the day before and one that morning. I was so happy, it was such a weight off my shoulders. Even if our little Noel didn’t make it we would have funding to cover a frozen transfer with one of our little frosties. It was the best outcome I could have hoped for so it felt like a dream when he called back a few hours later to tell me a THIRD had caught up and made it to freeze, the quality wasn’t as high as the other two but they have very strict criteria so it was still very much a respectable embryo. I love them (you) all so much.

On the Friday any symptoms I did have due to the hormones had gone, I started to worry a little as I felt like I normally would before my period. I started to panic that the hormone support was no longer working. I tried to push the thoughts from my mind and just trust my body and the process. It also marked exactly three years since we started trying. If only I knew then what I know now, it’s funny to think that this was the closest we’d been in those three years. Three years of waiting, hoping and wishing. The me three years ago would have been horrified to know that we are still three years on, however the me today is proud of how far we’ve come and the strength we’ve gained along the way. I know that whatever the outcome we can get through it and we will keep fighting.

The following morning, the morning we left for our cruise, I was woken up at 6am with pressure and pain in my bum which is a tell tail sign that my period is on the way. I was very upset and just felt numb, maybe it was nothing I thought, some ladies get similar symptoms but still go on to have a positive test at the end of the two weeks. We stopped at Sainsburys to stock up on sanitary towels just in case the worst happened.

We got to the ship terminal to meet everyone, but I felt like I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than the pain I was having. I decided to go to the loo and that’s when it happened, I’d had some bleeding. I froze in fear. Even if Noel wasn’t going to stick around it was way too early to start bleeding at 5dp5dt. I had to compose myself before going back out to all the family who were waiting for me. I just had to concentrate on getting to our cabin then I could process it properly, I quietly whispered to your dad that I’d had some bleeding and quickly made an Instagram post, while I still had internet, a lot of people started reassuring me saying it happened to them and still a positive pregnancy test. I got to our cabin after what felt like an eternity, in reality it must have been no more than an hour from when I went to the toilet. When I checked again it was still light, your dad helped to reassure me and we went back to try and find the others. I felt guilty as I was snappy with people, I didn’t really feel like myself and my thoughts were elsewhere.

By that evening the bleeding had become heavier and the cramps were becoming painful. I just knew it was over. We tried to put a brave face on it but that night in bed I broke down and just sobbed. I didn’t even get a chance to experience the whole two week wait, I had no internet signal to get in touch with my support group when I needed them the most, I couldn’t even call the clinic to let them know. It’s really hard thinking back to that time, there was just a constant ball of sadness at the bottom of my stomach and I hate that it put a downer on our special cruise. We still managed to have a good time though and maybe the distraction was a good thing after all, it meant I couldn’t mope around for days in bed, which is what I really felt like doing.

Once I had signal again I called the clinic, they just said to keep taking the progesterone support and come in as agreed for the blood test on Thursday 21st. I decided I would test on the Wednesday at home just so I could get it over and done with and so there wouldn’t be any doubt about whether it had worked or not. As the days passed it became easier but I really just wanted to get home so I could be sad properly. On the Wednesday morning I woke and went to take my test which I knew would be negative, it was inevitable and I just wanted it to be over so I could get some closure. I dipped my test and waited…negative as I suspected, however when I glanced back after about a minute I thought I saw a faint line, I’ve done so many tests over the years each time squinting, holding it up to the light until I think I can see something that isn’t there. I left it a bit longer and it got a little darker, it was definitely there and I wasn’t imagining it. I burst into tears, such a faint positive was worse than a negative. It was far lighter than any other tests I’d seen from 9dp5dt so I knew it wasn’t viable. It also made me think if I hadn’t had the bleed little Noel might well have been able to stick around. I took it in to show your Dad and explain between sobs that I thought I’d had what they call a chemical pregnancy.

I couldn’t stop staring at the test, it’s the first time I’d ever seen two pink lines in my life but it wasn’t something I could celebrate. I spent the rest of the day being sad and googling photos of other people’s tests and stories. This wasn’t part of the plan, I wasn’t prepared, all along we thought it would be a simple positive or negative.  I hoped that it would show up on my blood test, if only so it could be recorded on my notes and could hopefully be prevented from happening next time.

The next morning, we decided to head to the clinic early to get the blood test out of the way. The car ride to the hospital felt different to before. It felt longer and neither of us said a word the whole time. Normally I would feel excited and jittery, taking selfies and chatting the whole time or listening to a funny podcast but this time there wasn’t anything to say and it was a matter of trying to keep the tears at bay. We didn’t have to wait long for the blood test luckily and it was over quickly. We drove home and went to run a few errands. Before we’d even got home the nurse from the clinic called, she said ‘congratulations, it’s positive’, I felt angry that she was happy about it when I knew it wasn’t good news. I told her my concerns about the bleed and the very faint pregnancy test so she told me to come back in the following week for a repeat test, but in the meantime she gave me a date for my first scan, arranged for some more progesterone support to be sent and told me to carry on as if I were pregnant so no drinking over Christmas etc. As soon as I hung up I broke down, why wasn’t this nightmare over, why didn’t they believe me when I said this isn’t a viable pregnancy, why is she giving me the tiniest glimmer of hope. I just wanted it to be over but instead I was stuck in limbo.

After that, it was just a case of waiting until the 27th for our second blood test. We had Grandma’s 60th birthday, Frances’s 18th birthday party and Christmas to get through first. It was tough but we still managed to have fun and at times forget the rollercoaster of the previous few weeks. It was good to be around family and remember what’s important. I couldn’t bear the thought of telling them over Christmas and I wanted to wait until after our next blood test.

The same nurse that called the first time called the next morning, she said ‘I’m so sorry it was negative’. Although it was sad I felt relieved that this chapter was now over and we could start to move on. The hardest part was having to tell our family and friends the bad news, I wasn’t strong enough to tell people face to face so I sent a message explaining what happened but that we also had good news because 3 little frosties were waiting for us.

We booked in a follow up appointment with our consultant for 25th January and that pretty much brings us up to today. We are currently just waiting for the appointment to see what our next steps will be. I hope and truly believe that you are one of those 3 frozen embryos. I will do everything in my power to try and keep you safe next time, I feel sad and guilty that my body let you down the first time. Noel will always hold a special place in my heart and it’s hard not to wonder ‘what if’ but this cycle paved the way for the next chapter and put the steps in place for you to come into the world. So for now more waiting, I should be used to it by now really, that’s what infertility is in reality. What I do know is I couldn’t do any of it without your dad, he’s been there the whole way through helping me see the positives, comforting me and wiping away my tears and always my rock through it all.

This isn’t the end my darlings, this is just the beginning. Hope you aren’t too cold in the freezer. We love you so much and can’t wait to meet you, whenever that might be.

Love, Mum xx

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