As I mentioned in my last blog post our egg retrieval was unexpectedly brought forward to last Friday instead of yesterday (Monday), so after a pretty decent night’s sleep considering what was in front of us, we went along to the fertility clinic for our big day.
We got checked in, changed into our hospital wear and listened to the usual briefings from the medical team. We were pleased to discover that it was our favourite doctor from the clinic who would be doing the procedure. That immediately put me at ease and of course when the nurse came along with those 2 little magic pills I felt even more at ease! Some people feel no effect at all, for others it is minimal but I can safely say that Temazepam is my best friend on egg retrieval day. Within minutes I am sent off into cloud cuckoo land and I can assure you that is exactly where you want to be when you’re about to get a very long needle inserted into your lady parts.
After receiving another painkiller and an intravenous antibiotic we set off for theatre, Dave once again looking like an extra from Scrubs and me having no idea what day of the week it was.
The great thing about the egg retrieval is how quickly it is over. I guess the more eggs you have the longer it takes but it always amazes me how quickly they can get those eggs extracted. After all the prep it was done within 10 minutes and I was grateful to get wheeled back to my hospital bed where I pretty much conked out for the next half an hour. I must admit this time I felt more pain than I did last time, but it may be that I had just forgotten about the pain in the time that has elapsed since our first round. Ironically people say that about childbirth too.
The embryologist came to see us and said they had extracted 6 maybe 7 eggs. They were still cleaning one up and were not sure at that moment whether it would be viable. Despite my semi-induced state and the prior knowledge from our scan that we would not have as much as last time, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit disappointed. In our first cycle they had recovered 12 eggs and I guess it’s only natural to compare, however I kept reminding myself that it was quality not quantity that mattered, and hopefully our 6 would be top quality.
After a recovery period we were sent home where I spent the rest of the day either in bed or collapsed on the sofa. Funnily enough I never felt much pain in my stomach immediately after the procedure, probably because of the effects of the drugs, however when I woke up on Saturday morning the pain was in full force and I spent Saturday and Sunday walking around bent over like an old woman. I described it to someone as like having broken ribs, but a bit further down! Sitting was sore, standing was sore, the only way I really felt comfortable was lying down with a hot water bottle over my stomach. It’s funny when you’re in a situation like that, and I guess it’s true when you have an operation of any kind too, you feel so bad that you can’t possibly imagine feeling better. On Saturday I had a secret little cry to myself as I felt so awful and I just felt as though everything was getting on top of me; I hadn’t produced the same number of eggs as last time, the pain in my stomach was overwhelming, I was scared and nervous about what would happen to our eggs, I couldn’t really do anything about the house so poor Dave had to do everything and generally my emotions were just all over the place.
On Saturday morning one of the embryologists phoned to let us know that out of the 6/7 they had recovered only 5 had ended up being viable and overnight 3 of those had fertilised. There wasn’t much more they could tell us at that stage, just that they would phone back on Monday with an update and to discuss possible transfer.
Again, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed and down about the whole thing. Generally I would say I have been finding it difficult to feel upbeat about this cycle. I think when you’re doing your first cycle everything is new and exciting, you have nothing to compare it to and you have every reason to think you might end up pregnant. However when you’ve been through a failed cycle despite your best efforts all you can think about is it failing again. You are aware of the potential heartbreak that is to come and finding positivity can be hard. As usual though my fantastic husband saw how I was feeling and started telling me ways in which 3 was our lucky number. We had been married 3 years, I had the number 3 in my date of birth (13), there were 3 of us (Dave, me and Roman), he was brought up at number 13 – I mean really he was pushing it with some of the links to the number 3, but he made me laugh and that was all he was really trying to accomplish.
We enjoyed the rest of the weekend at home doing very little just the THREE of us and then on Monday morning the clinic phoned with another update. Our embryos were still progressing well and they advised leaving them to Wednesday to try and achieve blastocyst status (for anyone who doesn’t remember what a blastocyst is from my previous posts, I will leave a description at the bottom of this post). I immediately refused. In our first cycle we had completely followed the recommendations from the embryologists and therefore had a day 3 transfer and then left the remaining 5 embryos for them to cultivate and try to achieve blastocyst status. I remember so clearly the embryologist had said she was “very confident” there would be at least 1 or 2 that would get to this stage that we would then be able to freeze for future use. So we were completely shocked and saddened when they had phoned to tell us that none of the 5 had made it. I was adamant that I wasn’t going to let that happen again, particularly before I’d even had the chance to have one implanted. I explained our reasons to the embryologist and insisted on transfer that very day. She tried to push back and explain why it was better to have a blastocyst implanted and of course I am perfectly aware of that, and obviously in an ideal world we would be putting a blastocyst back in but we had completely lost all confidence since last time and I couldn’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak we would feel if we got to Wednesday and all our embryos had died. To me, that would be much worse than having one implanted and the cycle failing anyway – at least I would have been given the chance to try and keep it safe and let it grow within me.
The Embryologist said she understood our concerns so agreed to let us go ahead with our transfer yesterday. Ultimately it is our cycle and whilst they are there to advise us, nothing they say is guaranteed so unless they could give us a written promise that our embryos would have survived until Wednesday, we just weren’t prepared to take that chance.
On a side note you may remember from a previous post that we had signed up for the E-Freeze trial, whereby you wait 4-6 weeks after egg retrieval before you have your transfer. This is simply to allow your body to recover before transfer takes place. Unfortunately we were not selected for the programme as to be entered into it in the first place you need at least 3 good quality embryos with 9 cells or less. We had the embryos but one of ours had more than 9 cells so that ruled us out. I was a little disappointed not to be given the chance but at least we signed up for it and that was all we could do and on the plus side it meant our cycle wouldn’t be strung out for another couple of months.
We went to the clinic yesterday afternoon and whilst I couldn’t imagine anything worse than someone poking around downstairs again, I was keen to get it over with. You will also be able to imagine my delight when I discovered the doctor doing the transfer procedure was my absolute favourite – the one who had previously called me fat! Great. This was not a good start. However, Dave reminded me that she was the best doctor at the clinic, was a recognised expert in IVF and had published some world renowned articles and papers on the subject, so I grit my teeth and tried to feel honoured that she was performing our transfer.
Prior to the procedure we spoke to the Embryologist who asked us if we would like to implant 2 embryos back in. Obviously the risk of doing this is that both attach and you could end up with twins (or if they attach and then split you could end up with even more than twins!), however there was still just as much chance that we could end up with nothing and we were keen to take the best chance available to us, so we agreed to go ahead with the 2.
As I’ve said before I get motion sickness when I look at the monitor however this time I was determined to look. If one or both of these little shining stars were going to end up being our children, I wanted to see the moment they were implanted. So once the doctor faffed about for ages (she is certainly not as gentle as other doctors, why doesn’t that surprise me?), she counted 1,2,3 and we saw them gently fall into my womb. Immediately after they landed one of them shifted itself along – we could see the bright light moving on the screen to another part of my womb. The doctor laughed at this and said it must be a lively one. Here’s hoping that is a good sign.
So once again now all we can do is wait. My plan for the next while is to just relax, do things that make me happy, listen to my meditation every day and generally try my best to hold on tight to our 2 little embabies. That’s the best I can do.
Blastocyst – A blastocyst is an embryo that has been left to develop until day 5 or 6 and presents a complex cellular structure formed by approximately 200 cells. This basically means it has developed further and has overcome certain hurdles that day 3 embryos may not yet have achieved. It is thought that implanting a blastocyst embryo gives you a higher chance of achieving pregnancy.