My imperfect first IVF cycle

“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).

Three candles from Barren Betty

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.’

Dozen eggs.

I was officially a chicken.

Chicken pool table gif

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.

What now?

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.

Yana Art

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.

x

Ps. We even wore amazing happy super socks throughout this IVF – they sort of worked. Maybe they need to be longer.

Super socks

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I opened Pandora's box and infertility entered my life.

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Posted in IVF
42 comments on “My imperfect first IVF cycle
  1. Emz says:

    Love love love the socks!

  2. The socks are hella cool. XO

  3. marwil says:

    What a journey. I have been thinking of you and wondering how far you have come in treatment. I’m so sorry the numbers weren’t higher for fertilisation. Such a gamble and you don’t know until you see how the body reacts and all the steps are done. Still, you do have a chance at this cycle working, otherwise they wouldn’t have put any back. Will be sending many positive vibes your way. Be gentle with yourself now.
    Those socks rock by the way!

    • I watched you go through a few rounds of this and now I finally can understand what you were going through. I guess in a way this round has tested us and shown our strength as a unit. I feel strong enough to do this again and not scared anymore.

      I didn’t ask them about grading for these embryos, otherwise I’d obsess. I’m just going with what you said, good enough to go back in.

      Now all I can do is love them and pray. Thank you for the positive vibes x

  4. Lisette says:

    Hang in there love. You are so brave. You’ve been so reserved, going through all this craziness so quietly while tending to the emotional needs of others. So kind. Sending you a million happy sticky thoughts. Come on J&I you can do it!!!! xxx

  5. newtoivf says:

    I’m so sorry it’s been such a tough journey but welcome to the 2ww crazy club. I have everything crossed for you xxx and you’re right B is pretty awesome, and first cycle is about learning. I’ve felt a lot more relaxed this time xx

    • I think the life changes that are ahead to make cycle 2 happen is what’s stressing me out the most. I stupidly banked on having an egg for FET. Doh!

      Trying to figure out whether to continue on at Guy’s too.

      Anyhow – for now I’ll just focus on these two and healing up. Crossing my fingers for you too xx

      • newtoivf says:

        I’m sorry you didn’t have any frosties. The way forward is so difficult to know. I’m not sure if I’d stay at Guy’s next time either. In some ways they are great, but do think there are other centres that are more innovative. wishing you so much luck hon x

  6. KS says:

    Blaming yourself is so natural and dangerous. Your day 1 sounds like me (last cycle). Sounds like you are doing well though. I am hoping for you and crossing everything!! And I love the tango picture…and the socks!

  7. damelapin says:

    That’s a rocky start – but that’s ivf. Icsi would be nice if you should need another ivf but i hope not. Some ivf mothers say that their child resulted in the worts embryo transfer so keep faith. Xx

  8. kiftsgate says:

    I just realised my comment posted from the phone wasn’t published. Just wanted to say that I’m thinking of you and hoping for the best. Sending you a huge hug!xx

  9. barrenbetty says:

    You have really been through the mill. It sucks, but Jibrail and Israfeel are obviously tough little cookies. In some ways it’s good that you have a reason why you haven’t conceived before – at least now you know the problem and that there is an answer to it. I am going to keep feeling hopeful for you that another round won’t be necessary though 🙂 I love the socks by the way too!!

    • I thought you’d love the socks. I saw them in a store called Scribbler. I can’t remember what station we were in now, otherwise I’d go back and get you some! Good stocking filler for Mr.Betty too.

  10. dogsarentkids says:

    The socks are awesome.

    I really need to read more about IVF because I understood about half of this.

    I think it’s actually a sort of good thing how the cycle went, because if a miracle were to occur, you wouldn’t be stressing, obsessing or freaking the fuck out for 2 weeks. Well.. you will, a little bit. Like little tiny fucks. Not big ones.

    Do I say good luck? Do I pretend to hug you? I’m not sure. Here, want some of my pumpkin pie? You can have it.

    • I know you’re busy crowdfunding but should you want to buy the socks they’re on Amazon.

      You’re right, I’m not obsessing. Obv, I wish I’d have a miracle but I’m too busy feel ill from the progesterone and ultimately I just want to feel better again 😦 I was so naive to think I’d be able to roam London museums and do some cool stuff this week. Feel rubbish.

      Oh and I keep on spelling fill as feel and vice versa. I’ve lost some brain cells.

      Pumpkin pie is your way of hugging – I’ll accept it 😀 x

  11. There’s no reason to think that one or both of those embryos won’t stick. You have just as much chance as anyone else at this point.

    I admire you for not obsessing and blogging during the whole experience. I tried to keep my blogging to a minimal during my cycle and it really helped. We both could have posted what was happening every day and the results of every blood test and ultrasound, but this does nothing but lead to excessive worrying and more obsessing.

    My husband had the same issue with sperm. He has a great volume, but only 2% are mature. Unfortunately, it took us three and a half years to get the diagnosis. ICSI solves that problem, though!

    Awesome socks!

    • Hey! It’s so nice to hear from you. How are you keeping?

      Is the fertilisation issue sperm side or egg side? I’m going to email Stupid Stork to learn more about it because I wasn’t sure whether it’s an issue with my eggs (here goes the self blame). I can understand the frustration with it taking 3.5yrs. I wish I’d done this so much sooner – could have avoided all that time trying naturally and the sadness that came with it.

      I’m feeling so rough that the thought of doing this all again makes me silently weep but I know eventually I’ll be ready to face it again.

      Thanks for being so positive for me.

      Ps Socks available on Amazon for when you need them. x

  12. You’re a total sneak! And the total opposite of me… I reach out to the virtual community for support because no one in my real life knows we’re going through IVF… or even fertility issues. So you’re really lucky to have great friends writing letters to your follicles and doing fertility dances.

    My brother once randomly gave me a Ghanian fertility icon – which was as ugly as it was weird…

    You might not be feeling great about the chances with the little guys you have on board… but if there was no chance, they wouldn’t have bothered transferring them. I’m going to be wishing extra hard those little fellas stick – and stick for good xxx

    It was a little easier for us the first time because we knew the Handsome Husband has swimmers that were a little defective, so ICSI was always on the cards for us. Apart from throwing a few more dollars their way, it doesn’t change anything for the cycle – and you KNOW the sperm are going to get in there.

    Your cycle may not have been perfect, but you have lots of reasons to be hopeful.

    If I got 12 eggs I would seriously be humping my Doctor’s leg. I definitely have ova envy!!

    xxx

    • So sorry my reply is late on this – been feeling off and playing dead on my sofa. Finally loaded up laptop to reply to everyone. I am a sneak but I needed to draw all my energy in and centre it. I’m also lucky to have amazing friends but I’m sure they’ll be bored of me moaning soon about this all but at least they’ll be around if I fall apart.

      Also, I know I had 12 eggs but remember it’s about quality not quantity. That’s why I didn’t get excited when I got told numbers. You just want a few super quality eggs and I’m really praying that your follies start growing.

      Sending you so much luck ❤ x

  13. Oh man, what a lot of ups and downs for you. I had a similar experience my first cycle, and Betty is right–the first cycle is a learning cycle. And ICSI definitely helps. Hold on and keep breathing! We are all rooting for you, Super Man, and Jibrail and Israfeel! xoxo

  14. tinadayo says:

    the happy socks are made of awesome!!!
    I know it’s sooooo difficult but try to keep up the hope!! You seem like one strong lady to me and I hope so much that these up and downs are soon coming to a happy-ending for you!!!

  15. Sadie says:

    I think it is the sweetest thing ever that you named those little embies. Beautiful names, too 🙂 May they grow and prosper (or at least one of them…not sure how you feel about twins!) and this just be the beginning of your pregnancy journey. Go Jibrail and Israfeel!

    Also, I am so glad that you reached out to your friends in real life and got such a supportive, positive response. It sounds like they rock.

    Love your socks! And keeping everything, really everything crossed for you as I send so many hopeful thoughts your way.

    • I’d be happy with one! Thank you for leaving them a wish and keeping hope for us. I hope they do too but I guess we’ll see.

      Hope you’re feeling good and well – not long til the second trimester mark!! 🙂 x

  16. I’m just a couple steps behind in the two embie club. Let’s hope that two is the magic number!

  17. barrenbetty says:

    I just want to gently remind you that WordPress is very boring for me without your posts. Just saying.

    • Noted! Oh the pressure. The words just won’t come. I’m all sad and so very tired inside. I promise to catch up this week.

      • barrenbetty says:

        Ok, good. It’s much more important that I am bored than you are sad and tired… Waaaait, jokes, course it isn’t. I am sad and tired too. Just post some pictures of your walk to work or something. We miss you in blogland! 😉 xxx

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A potent spell. All women alike
Fight fiercely for a child.

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