IVF round two – eggs, eggs, eggs… and throwing up

Starting a second round of IVF was always going to involve a comparison to our first round. The first time around we’d had around 26 eggs, 23 fertilised, and 13 tested by PGS. Knowing we only came out with 2 normal embryos made me anxious.

My first scan (with what another IVF sufferer has hilariously referred to as “dildo cam”) revealed that we were looking at around 15 eggs. Had I been told that on our first round I would have been over the moon. But with the knowledge of our previous round fresh in my mind, 15 didn’t seem many. 15 seemed too few. I went and saw the nurse and couldn’t help becoming upset. The nurse tried to reassure me but she didn’t know what I knew.

My second scan was more positive. My gynaecologist did it himself. We were looking at around 20 follicles. He said he felt positive about our progress and so did I. I took my trigger injection the next evening at 11.30pm and my egg collection was scheduled exactly 36 hours later.

I was nervous heading into the egg collection. Last time it had hurt quite a lot, and I’d keeled over in the car park afterwards amongst dead leaves and cigarette butts. I really hoped that this time would be better. I became teary going into the surgery. It’s bloody hard going through this stuff sometimes. In my gown my legs were popped into the horrendously unattractive stirrups. I was given oxygen and an intravenous line of drugs. Sweet sedatives. I relaxed.

It hurt a lot. Each time my gynaecologist inserted the needle through the vaginal wall and extracted the eggs from my ovary was like having a very painful injection. The worst pain only lasted momentarily though, and it was bearable. We’d come away with 23 eggs. I felt really happy with that number. To me, that was about what we needed to get one or two embryos at the end of all of this.

I recovered for an hour or so and was sent on my way. My abdomen was really tender and I felt a bit dizzy, but OK. About half way home I knew that we had to pull over and fast. My husband nipped down a side street and I basically jumped out onto the berm while the car was still coming to a stop. One quick spew on the grass. A lot of sweat. But instantly I felt a lot better. OK, let’s keep going.

Within minutes back in the car I realised I wasn’t OK. I grabbed a handbag ready to spew again and shrieked at my husband to please pull into a side street. I jumped out again, straight to the berm. Spewed on the grass. Spewed again. Hot, sweaty, dizzy… It was not my finest moment. A concerned looking cable guy asked if I needed some water. I said I was fine. Hopefully my hospital tag on my wrist and sticky plaster over my IV site was enough to let him know I had been admitted in the clinic.

We finally made it home on the third attempt, although again I needed to crawl and lay on the grass for a while. Phew. I spent the rest of the day in bed, in and out of sleep, with a sore tummy but glad it was all over. When I finally got up I wondered briefly why there was so much grass in my bed.

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IVF round two – dingy petrol stations and forgetting to inject

It was 8pm on Friday night. Time for my first injection of Puregon, the follicle stimulating hormone. I was sitting in the car, in a petrol station in a dingy town. People mingled outside. My husband awkwardly circled the car with our son, waiting for me to let him back in so that we could continue our three hour drive to our weekend destination. It was about as unglamorous as it gets.

I was anxious. Could I remember how to do this? Which way did the capsule go into the injecting pen? Shit. The light in the car was barely strong enough. The brochure sat on my lap. OK, the capsule was in and now I had to dial up the dose to 200. I put the needle on and squinted to see whether a droplet formed at the tip. Holding my tummy I injected the needle, I realised that my hand was shaking slightly. I slowly pulled the needle out again and then, SHIT! A massive geyser of blood started shooting out of the injection site. What the?! This had never happened to me before. I had nothing to stop the bleeding so I just used my hand. My husband and son peered in the window and I tried to shoo them away whilst also demanding a tissue, or something, to try clean myself up. What a disaster!

I wondered whether the blood would have pushed the medicine back out again, so I called the clinic and left a message. Thankfully the bleeding stopped quickly and all I was left with was a bruise, a worried looking husband and questions from my son about what had happened. The next day a sympathetic nurse rang me and we had a good laugh about the previous night’s episode, apparently everything would be OK and I’d probably just hit a blood vessel. I joked that I was worried I’d hit my liver or worse, but she reassured me that the needles are only long enough to fit under your fat layer.

So that begin my latest egg collection cycle. It was largely uneventful save for a few hormone infused arguments with my poor husband, and one night where I was watching Stranger Things on the telly and totally forgot to inject myself. Thankfully I was only an hour late. I felt awful though, how could I be so careless about something so important?!

 

Another round of IVF – do we even want to go there?

As I had expected, my latest pregnancy came to an end shortly after it began. My period brought both sadness and relief. Sadness that it wasn’t to be, again. But relief that I wouldn’t have to sit through weeks of not knowing whether this baby was chromosomally normal. Relief that there was no chance that I would have to go through that phone call again where I was told our baby had 100% trisomy chromosomes. It’s a pity that my thinking has changed so much over the years to automatically taking on negative slant on these things. But it is what it is, they say.

Despite barely having an opportunity to reflect on a failed embryo transfer due to parvovirus (a fucking virus!!), having the illness associated with parvovirus, and a second failed pregnancy all within six weeks, we believed that it was a good time to undertake a second round of IVF because I was off work until the end of the month. If we didn’t do the egg collection in November, we had to wait until January at least, perhaps February, given the Christmas holidays and our existing travel plans. So, November it was.

Until it wasn’t. I got my period and rang the clinic. They wanted my to take a blood test to ensure that the HcG was out of my system. I came back with a reading of six, and they wanted five or less. So I wasn’t allowed to start. I was not looking forward to the egg collection cycle but, equally, I was upset at the idea of having to wait and do the cycle while I was back at work. We talked to my gynaecologist and pressed our case, but at the same time stressing that we didn’t want to be pigheaded about it if it would impact on the number or quality of eggs.

So there we were, with permission to start our second round of IVF a day later than normal.

Pregnant again, spotting again

We have talked at length about whether we should even attempt to conceive naturally after only one of our six pregnancies has ended with a healthy, live baby and only two out of 13 of our fertilised IVF embryos were found to have the correct number of chromosomes.

Following the failure of our latest IVF round, we thought “fuck it”. We didn’t have any normal embryos left, only three that were “inconclusive”. It was as good as trying naturally.

So today I discovered that I am pregnant, again. And I am already spotting, again. Naturally, I feel a mixture of positivity and negativity but, let’s be honest, largely negativity. Every miscarriage I have had has started with light spotting from an early date. With my son, nothing. I’m convinced my boobs already hurt less than they did yesterday. I expect that this might be another chemical pregnancy.

I have cried a bit today with disappointment, but I am certainly becoming more accepting of the idea that we may well not have a second child. And it won’t be for lack of trying!

Post-miscarriage rock bottom

I starting writing these posts as a way of trying to process my thoughts and get through the worst of times with minimum damage. As I sit here now, three years after we started trying to get pregnant a second time, I wonder if it’s working or not. You see, this week I hit rock bottom (again).

It’s a familiar place for me, having terminated a pregnancy at 16 weeks for medical reasons, having lost five other babies including failed IVF (most recently and inexplicably to a virus), and having multiple surgeries including for Asherman’s Syndrome. All this has been in the last three years.

Rock bottom happened to me four nights ago. I was feeling better. The cloud of bewilderment and sadness from losing our little guy to a virus was starting to lift. I was at the movies and when the lights came up I saw a text. My heart sunk as I read beyond the first line. My sister-in-law had some news and she had trouble deciding when to tell us. I knew even before I read on. She was pregnant. I didn’t really read the rest of the message. My heart instantly clenched, as did my whole body and the tears flowed. I couldn’t breathe. I started to shake and tried to tell my friends what was wrong. But I was having an out of body experience. I couldn’t talk.

My friends held my arm and walked me to my car. I would never have found my way back to the car park without them. I realised at the car they were probably concerned I would crash the car and we’d end up in a fiery ball of flames and front page news, so I forced myself to calm down. I asked my friend to talk about herself. It helped.

How did this news cause such a reaction from me? I was well used to hearing of pregnancies, and within the family. I think there were two things. The first is obvious, I had miscarried 10 days earlier. The grief was so raw and I hadn’t dealt with it properly (nor had time to do so) beyond tears, reflection and a building sense of anger.

The second is that I always believed we would get pregnant well before my sister-in-law. She hadn’t known her partner for long, about a year and a half, and I had expected that we would first at least get the warning shot of an engagement before a pregnancy announcement.

The shock was immense and it destroyed in seconds whatever tenuous structure I had built for myself to lean upon and get through this. It has forced open a wound that I am not sure how to sew back together. I feel a permanent pain in my chest, a squeezed heart. My head is fuzzy.

In hindsight though, I knew that children were a priority for her. I love my sister-in-law heaps and she deserves every happiness, but I will find it hard seeing her pregnant. It’s shit that these things just impose themselves on you and make you a person you don’t really want to be. The positive about feeling like you’re at a real low point is that surely the the only way is up!

 

 

Another miscarriage: surviving the plane crash

I miscarried last night. Our sixth loss in a row. As I looked at the blood in the toilet I wondered which little speck was our guy, and felt sorry for him having to end things in such an undignified way. I had cramps, but they weren’t too bad. I was glad that we had miscarried now, at 5w2d and not later into the pregnancy. I’m glad I didn’t need medical intervention, especially surgery after all the trouble I’ve had with my lining from my previous surgeries.

I can still barely believe what happened. After my son was diagnosed as having a virus, perhaps slap cheek, I was unwell for days. Dizzy, headachy, nauseated, fatigued. I put it down to early pregnancy hormones. But then, at 4w6d, I got a hot, red, itchy rash over almost my entire body. My worst nightmare had come true. I had a serious illness. I saw my doctor and she said that the embryo would have had, “no chance”. She said she’d have diagnosed me with German measles if I didn’t show good immunity to it from previous blood tests. Honestly, WTF. I haven’t had a virus like that since I was a kid.

I feel as though I have been in a plane crash and have realised that I have survived, but have no idea what to do next. I am a bit paralysed by what has transpired over the last couple of weeks. I think I will have to take some steps to seek out a counsellor, even though the last counsellor I spoke to was like a brick wall and left me feeling no better than before.

We have some big decisions to make. When we first began thinking about having our second child, I imagined and expected that we would have a two year age gap. I was so upset when that gap became two and a half years, then three years, but each time I gradually came around to it. When the gap was two years people asked my constantly about when and whether we would have a second child. Now they don’t say anything.

We are staring down the barrel of a gap of around four and a half to five years if we try again and succeed. I feel as though the gap is getting out of control. Perhaps I am being unfair to everyone who had a close relationship with their siblings growing up with a large age gap, but to me it is starting to feel pointless having two children with quite different childhoods. And putting ourselves through all the sleeplessness again when our lives feel so easy now.

But then I think about the rest of my son’s life. Once you’re in your twenties, that five year gap becomes smaller and smaller. It would eventually become insignificant – surely. Thinking about my son having a sibling for the rest of his life gives me the resolve to consider doing another round of IVF.

The alternative is quite scary. There must be so many couples out there that decide enough is enough, we have given it our best but our relationship and family and sanity must prevail over more attempts. We are so close to this point. I just don’t know if I have quite reached it yet. We wanted this so much, and when I saw that positive pregnancy test a week ago the age gap issue floated out of my thinking completely. I was just happy that we were pregnant.

Broken hearted

I knew as soon as I answered the phone. The nurse’s voice was solemn, she asked if it was OK to talk. I braced myself. “Your HcG has actually dropped since the last reading. It was 206 and now it’s 196. I’m so sorry.” When she didn’t explain that it was possible that things could still be OK I realised that I was having a miscarriage. Again. I’ve actually lost count what number we are up to. I started sobbing on the phone almost immediately. The nurse asked if I was OK. “Of course I’m not OK!” We agreed that I would do another blood test on Monday but it barely mattered. Embryo number six will not make it.

I text my husband even though he was at lunch. I figured he should know. And then I completely broke down. I lay on my bed and I cried so much. And I’m crying again now as I write this through my tears. My heart is broken again.