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Sae

Bonus Blastocyst

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August 2015.

We found out today that our embryologist wasn’t willing to call it at 2 blastocysts, so he gave a slow one an extra to day to catch up and see if it would form into a blastocyst and IT DID! They sampled it, it responded beautifully (as in, it survived) and was frozen.

We have an extra blastocyst, which brings us up to five! Five little frozen embryos. Oh embryos! We’ve worked so hard for you and the odds are so phenomenally against us. I’m scared to hope, but can’t do anything but. 

Two of Twelve… a sad 16%

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Three of our embryos made it to blastocyst stage, but one of the didn’t survive the biopsy. I’m heartbroken… two embryos. I worry, because we’re only half way through this marathon. From here our little embryos still have to survive thawing, a PGS chromosone screen and implantation. 

It’s an uphill battle, and epic uphill battle. I’m so scared that we’ll never make it to the end, that we’ll never have a family. That I’ll genuinely never be able to have children. I do a lot of day dreaming, about the kind of life we’ll lead if we’re childless. Lots of travel, side hustles, fancy things. I’m trying to bring myself to place where it isn’t scary or sad.

We’ll see. I’m trying both to be hopeful, and realistic. The cognitive dissonance is hard. Needless to say, with every blastocyst we get our chances go up by several magnitudes.

I’m trying to wrap my head around doing another round. For the dieting, and the supplements, and the crazy no BPA, no phathlates, no inorganic, no diary or carbs or sugar. None of that. It makes me tired and want to cry a little bit. 

In the mean time, I’m well off the diet. Mac and cheese. Wine. Chocolate. I think I need to just sit for a while before we launch into the next round.

Please survive, little embryos!

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August 2015.

I definitely still feel like I’m recovering. My body doesn’t feel like my own, it’s bloated and cramping and quite horrid. I’m in a lot of pain, but all of that is secondary. I’m waiting for the daily call as to how our embryos are going. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion: the nervous anticipation, the worry. The tense two minutes on the phone as you try figure out exactly what it means, trying to squeeze as much information out of an embryologist as you can.

I feel bad for them, they have to make these calls everyday to people as tense as I am – trying to understand each every little nuance, because the stakes are high – this is our future we’re talking about. The chance to have a family. It’s tense. 

Our embryos are coming along, three are ahead (11 cells and 2x 10 cells) and two are bang on with eight cells. I worry. I worry I worry I worry. Having embryos develop quickly is not typically a sign of success. They’re over achievers that will burn themselves out before getting to blastocyst level. Please so down, little embryos. I want to you to survive.

It’s hard to hope. There’s nothing more I can do, I’ve done my bit. I’m trusting in a clinic and science and embryologists. I worry though – this is only their day job, but this is my life. 

I’m scared to hope

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August 2015.

Well, fuck. Five of 12 eggs fertilised. Only five… I know they say it’s all up to chance, but last time we had three of three fertalise. To only have five come through this initial gate is heartbreaking. 

I’m so down, and I know Zee is too. I’m scared about how many will come through this next week. Of the five, they definitely won’t all make it. This bit is the worst, watching and waiting for our little embryos, our little beacons of hope for a family to wink out and die. 

Having 12 eggs, to finally be considered a normal responder was amazing. I felt like we’d beaten all the odds, only to arrive here, the very next day, brought back to earth with a sudden and painful bump.

Oh five little embryos, please live. Please grow in to healthy little blastocysts. Please be chromosonally normal. Please survive! 

Egg Collection

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August 2015.

Egg collection. It all comes down to this moment – the quality is all on me, and at this point I feel like I’ve done the very best I can. It’s been four months of ridiculous dieting and supplements, avoiding plastic and phathlates and BPA like it was a my job. I wouldn’t eat or drink from plaster, I wouldn’t touch paper receipts, I just… the crazy all comes down to this moment.

I’m grateful for the familiar faces. The embryologist behind the window, my RE and the nurse who always jokes with me in the waiting room. They did a lot to put me at ease. 

The anesthesiologist give me something to make sure I wasn’t ill after (I never respond well to anaesthesia), and then the anaesthesia. It was white and milky. I felt it flow up my arm, there was a horrid taste in my mouth and I was blessedly out after that. 

When I came to, the first thing I did was look at my hand. I had the nurses write on my hand how many eggs we got, because I know last time I was nuisance and asked every few seconds. It was the first thing I looked for when I woke up, and I almost immediately burst into tears. 12! I’m so grateful, and relieved and amazed. I am feeling all the feels.

In this moment the diet and all the crazy and the extra meds were absolutely worth it … I recovered faster from the anaesthetic, and was much more pulled together, and of course, many more eggs. Having my body in optimum condition had a massive difference! I’m blown away. You guys, I’m over the moon! 3 eggs last round, TWELVE this round!

Grateful to the powers that be don’t even cover it. Blown away, 12!

Getting through the shots

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There comes a point when you need to remind yourself why you’re doing it. Looking down at three syringes full of hormones, I empathetically did not want to inject them into my belly today. I feel wretched. Annoyed at Zee for not being able to work out the doses himself, despite us doing the stims every day for the last week. Annoyed at myself for being so wretched and grumpy, and even more at him for being gracious and kind to me.

Tonight was the first tears. I hate this bit. The emotional all over the place, in control of nothing feelings. My body, it doesn’t feel like my own at this point. And I know, looking down a the syringes that these hormones are only going to make it worse. That it will hurt. That I will feel tender and sore and will cry, as I hold tightly on to Zee, willing it to be over.

It burns after. A tight, hot burn around the injection site. It’ll burn a while, while I’m trying to sleep.

It’s hard at this point to not feel resentful. Of people who can have children without IVF, and the £30k price tag. Of my body, for being so very broken. Of the entire world, because this is HARD and it HURTS. I’m trying to remember that my body is being injected full of hormones every night, and so perhaps I’m not on the most even of keels right now. 

This is hard. It hurts, and I’m super emotional. My chance at a family are worth this, I’m sure of it. I’m fuelled with hope, but I’m not very good at suffering graciously or in silence. Its hard, and it hurts.

FSH levels – 8.1!

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July 2015.

I was nervous, so nervous. I didn’t want a repeat of last month – but what if this was the end? What if my body was done, and that was my fertility season? That my reproductive system had closed up shop and nothing, not even invasive and expensive procedures with wildly ridiculous odds could help?

I got the call at work, and hid down a side corridor. The nurse had no idea I was even nervous, she made small talk and organised my next appointment, and delightfully mentioned my FSH levels were 8.1 as an aside. The second I was off the phone I cried. Great wracking sobs of relief. My body wasn’t too old, I still might be able to have children. Oh God, thank you thank you thank you. 

I’m so relieved, like I have something concrete to hold on to. A few weeks of shots, I can do that. I just need to make it egg collection.

Oh life, I miss you, I feel like you’re just around the corner. I can do this. Just a few weeks.

We’re not doing IVF this month. My FSH is too high.

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June 2015.

I cried. I’m devastated – I was so ready to kick off another round. I felt silly being upset though but it meant that I pottered about the apartment and cried.  I was meant to do a girls brunch, but cancelled. The girls ended up coming over after and we cried some more.

I feel guilty. Like I haven’t followed the strictly diet enough, I dropped the ball on touching receipts and got all stressed out over work and now I can’t do IVF. I feel like I’m all over the place, it’s a bit of disaster.  If my FSH levels don’t come down next month, this could be it.  It could be over before it’s even started. That’s my fear.

The flip side is that I know I can do more. So – this next month I’ll be on the super strict diet. I won’t touch any receipts. I’ll take all the supplements, rather than just the little ones. 

Edit – I realised yesterday that all the pans I’ve been cooking with are covered in a non-stick, likely BPA coating. I’m freaking out – anything even remotely bad for me is being binned. To make up for it, I’ve bought super nice, really expensive stainless steel pans. 

Please go down FSH, you’re making me paranoid and crazy.

Back at the Clinic

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June 2015

I’m back at the clinic again. It’s both familiar and reassuring. I’m glad it’s finally kicking off and grateful that I know what to expect. There are a few new nurses this time – a few familiar faces too. I think I shocked a few ladies waiting in reception when I had a rather gossipy, in depth conversation about the receptionists holiday. She’s always been nice to me and catching up after several months seemed like a polite thing to do. I was breaking the unspoken waiting in reception rules though – same as riding the tube: no eye contact, no talking. 

Still, I feel like an old hat at this. It’s reassuring to know what comes next, to know what to expect. I do feel a but prickly about it – IVF is hard and never fun. I’m hopeful though, hopeful for more eggs, and good quality. Possible future babies. I’m so hopeful.

We’re doing bloods, and then we’ll get started with the round! 

The end of round two (an anti-climax)

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March 2015.

I got an email from my embryologist:

Treatment: IVF – Blastocyst culture with PGS for embryo banking.
Number of eggs collected: 3
Number of eggs inseminated: 3
Number of eggs fertilised: 3
Embryos cryopreserved: 2 X Day 5 (3BB & 3BB)

Awaiting PGS result.

Thanks! Have a great day.

Uhm. Okay. So that was a fun way to discover one our blastocysts arrested. We are left with two. Two little blastocysts of okay quality (not great quality, just okay) who have both been sampled and frozen. It feels like a very abrupt way to end what has so far been an insane round of IVF.

I knew this already though – intellectually. I’m heartbroken that we only got two (though my IVF positivity kicks in with ‘we only need one!’ It’s a bit chirpy and is living on hope). We’ll do another round, once my body has had time to recover. I’ll start taking DHEA to improve the number of eggs we get next time and hopefully, hopefully we’ll only need to do this once more. We’ll have many more eggs, and hopefully better quality eggs. And hopefully, hopefully some of them will be chromosonally normal.

And then, I can stop. I can stop the drugs, and the diets and all of the crazy in the details. I will have done as much as I can, I would have done the best I can. No compromise. And that’s as best as I can hope for Plan B, right?

I read that it’s easier to focus on the difficult things, the things that worry you. It’s much more difficult to focus on the positive, but if you practice, you’ll get better at it. So, here’s my small list, focusing on the positive:

Grace in small things:

  1. We’re done with all the invasive horrible things. No almost daily scans up my vajayjay. No more bloods, or injections. No more teams of people looking at all my intimate details. My body has become my own again.
  2. I feel a bit more like me. I have more energy, the bruises are fading and the bloating and tenderness is going. I didn’t realise I’d lost me, but I had. I’m glad to be recovering.
  3. We know now. What it’s like, how a cycle goes and what egg collection is like. The results speak pretty clearly, my diagnosis of low ovarian reserve was not wrong. Power in knowledge, and we have had a good round to learn from.
  4. I can do more. We’re not finished yet, this isn’t the end of the story. I’m grateful that I’m in a position where I still have the funds, and the support and the time to figure out what else I can do. I still have options. I still have hope, and it isn’t bound up in just the two little frozen blastocysts we have.
  5. I have Zee. I worried for a long time that because I wasn’t fun… I couldn’t drink, or eat normal foods, and didn’t have the energy to go out that perhaps Zee and I would go downhill. We didn’t, I’d say it pulled us together more than it pulled us apart. I love him.