“And if you ever have to go away
Nothing in my world could ever be the same
Nothing lasts forever, but together til the end
I’ll give you everything I have again and again”
– Yeah, I’m listening to Kylie. Don’t judge me.
Prior to IVF I decided I wouldn’t blog about the journey because I didn’t want to obsess, over discuss or compare my cycle to others. It’s been a rollercoaster and far from perfect, that’s why I need to write to get this all out.
Off to a rocky start with down regulation
Before starting I found out my sister was pregnant, it hit me so hard that I cried until I felt like my chest was going to crack open. I think the stress got to me and I bled 2 days before my IVF start date (Day 21). They still told me to go ahead and I pushed aside the bad start.
I remember that the first Buserelin injection felt like fire in my thigh. I was good for a week, only suffering from thirst but when week two hit so did the headaches. I was so tired and could barely concentrate at work. Not to mention feeling irritable and wanting to punch everyone. This was all happening while we were running IFPumpkinsmackdown. Betty was amazing and took on most of the work for it.
Usually your period arrives before you start stimming. Mine didn’t but my lining was thin so they got me on the Gonal F. Maybe it was due to the mid-cycle bleeding. Anyhow, hope was reborn that this cycle was going to be ok.
Feeling like a stimming Frankenstein
I was noted as one to watch for potential hyperstimulation. They started me off on a low dose but when I went in for a blood test I was told my hormones were too high and I needed to coast for a day. After that I was in every other day for blood tests. At around day 8 they were concerned that my follicles weren’t growing. The drugs were upped, the blood tests and scans continued for another 3 days. I got to know dildo cam too well for my liking!
When I watched them mark the number of follicles on the sheet, the numbers kept switching. I looked at the scan puzzled and asked them why one big follicle suddenly appeared as two or three follicles. Apparently it’s only an estimate and the more follicles you have the harder it gets. I think my largest was at 15mm when they told me to trigger – I thought usually they want you to be at 18mm but maybe the trigger injection gives everything a final push. I spent my days singing to my follicles (Mucho Mumba Sway by Shaft – me and my ovaries dance to it), having extra acupuncture sessions, downing protein and listening religiously to a hypnotherapy CD.
For the first time, I reached out to my real life network and was honest with them. I needed them to pray for me, to feel their support and for them all to be there if things went wrong. Within 1 minute of contacting them on Facebook, they all responded and in the week to follow I was far from alone. My bestfriend talked to my follicles and wrote a letter to them, another did what she thought was a fertility dance in my living room and another made sure all Gods were covered so a prayer wasn’t missed. Good to know Fertilebook is good for some things!
In the virtual world, Barren Betty has been my IVF oracle. It means a lot, especially because she’s been through so much and yet still has the strength to be there for others. She even sent me rainbow candles, apparently the orange one is super powerful. BB rocks (but you all knew that already).
How many eggs?
Like anyone I was nervous about egg retrieval/collection. Even more so when they told me I needed to take a suppository before the procedure. I was like ‘You want me to put that where???’
I was terrified that they wouldn’t retrieve any mature eggs. The embryologist looked at me like I was stupid when I asked her if there was a possibility there wouldn’t be any eggs. She told me there were lots of follicles so there’s a very good chance eggs existed. She also told Super Man that he indeed had super sperm.
After that, all I remember was having an oxygen mask over my mouth, my legs in stirrups and the feeling of cold pain injected into my hand. When I woke up, my eyes were teary and apparently the first thing I mumbled in my sleep was ‘How many eggs?’ When the nurse didn’t give me a number, I asked her again and then fell asleep.
The answer is 12.
Suddenly hope came flooding back in. I remember gazing out of the hospital window at St.Paul’s cathedral and thinking ‘Maybe just maybe this is going to be ok.’
I was officially a chicken.
Even on a puking high (the retrieval drugs made me sick), I never felt so great.
Day 1: Fast forward 24 hours
I get hit with news that pushes me off cloud nine and sends me flying to reality. This really is a don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Only 3 eggs fertilised and 1 looked like it was on its way out. Some eggs were immature and the others just weren’t fertilising. How couldn’t they be fertilising? I called Super Man sobbing and asked him to come home from work. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The pain from retrieval kicked in and I was sat wondering if any of the embryos would make it to a day 3 transfer.
I spent most the day blaming myself. Maybe I didn’t eat enough greens or protein, maybe I didn’t pray or believe enough. Eventually I snapped out of it. I did all I could.
Day 2: Excruciating waiting
It was the slowest two days and I felt empty. Empty because my eggs weren’t with me. Empty because I couldn’t do anything but pray to fix this situation. The egg retrieval pain kicked in real bad. I slept to escape everything. I just felt so on edge.
Day 3: Please don’t let me fall apart
The embryologists only give updates on Day 3 and 5, it’s protocol and I think it’s because they don’t want to take the embryos out of the incubators. I only found out my fate this morning. By day 3 you expect 6-8 cell embryos. I had 1 with 3 cells and 1 with 5 cells. I didn’t even have a chance of a future FET (Betty comforted me by saying it’s actually really hard to get a high quality embryo for FET).
I cried a bit – shock – disappointment – pain but the real emotional pain hit when we met with the embryologist. He told us that they noticed that the eggs and sperm weren’t ‘talking to each other’. That’s why our other mature eggs didn’t fertilise. He recommended ICSI if we need to do this again. I guess that explains years of infertility but it kicked us both. Super sperm and half decent eggs didn’t matter.
Egg transfer was painful but I tried to find humour in small moments like when the Dr said ‘Now I’m just going to wipe you with this warm water… ‘ I was dying inside as I thought of her wiping me down there. I also wanted to smack Super Man upside the head when I could hear him breathing heavily to the side of me. It took everything in me not to say “Dude.. you’re not having a baby!” But maybe given the circumstances it wasn’t quite the right line.
After this whole experience, my vagina does not feel sexy. I might treat it some silk and lace.
So right now… I have two badass embryos back on the mothership. They’re badass because they really fought to exist. Somehow the sperm stumbled on the egg. We don’t know how. They may be slow jams but I plan to cherish them throughout the next two weeks because I know that this is the closest we’ve ever been to conceiving. I’ve named them Jibrail and Israfeel after angels.
My acupuncturist lifted my spirits today. She’s been a rock for me this cycle. Super Man wasn’t in a good state after the transfer, by chance we arrived at hers early and her husband ended up making him coffee and inviting him to watch rugby. They’re a brilliant zesty couple, she’s an artist too and her husband does TCM as well as teaching tango. When I left she gave me a card with one of her paintings on it, she said to look at it and tell the embryo cells that they need to dance and talk. It’s funny because we took tango classes earlier this year and I’ve been desperate to start up again. I think my eggs need tango.
I was saying to Betty that I’m not sure how I’m going to settle back into everyday life once this is all over. I don’t know what I’ll do about another cycle or adoption. She says the first cycle is about learning and that the next will be better. I can’t imagine going through this whilst working full time again. For one, I don’t think my bosses will give me more time off.
But for now as Super Man says, all we can do is tell Jibrail and Israfeel to ‘divide and conquer’. I believe in you Jibrail and Israfeel. I believe in you.
Will I obsess with the 2ww? No. I know the chances are slim and that stops me. I’m just going to do my best to enjoy the time off work and being pregnant – however long it lasts or doesn’t last. Plus I need to finally post out those IFPumpkinsmackdown prizes to Betty (yeah.. sorry about that delay :x). I want to make a list of things to focus on next week including visiting Royal Greenwich Museum to see the astronomy exhibition. I need to start getting back on track slowly.
Ps. We even wore amazing happy super socks throughout this IVF – they sort of worked. Maybe they need to be longer.