IVF part 4: the transfer and the wait

The day before we found out the result of our frozen egg transfer was one of the most anxious days I can remember. It was as if my heart rate had dialled up to 140bpm. Like I’d had ten coffees, no food and watched a horror movie, only I hadn’t. t couldn’t concentrate. I was so worried.

That was around eight days after our transfer. On the day of our transfer I’d have seven blood tests in the build up. I was convinced I had a UTI, but a test suggested otherwise. I was so nervous. The procedure itself went well enough, apart from my bladder nearly exploding. We’d had to wait an extra fifteen minutes or so than expected. By the time we got into the transfer room I had to wriggle my feet to stop myself from bursting. It wasn’t ideal. The staff double checked our details on the test tube. That made sense. It was rather important. And the transfer itself went well, it seemed. We went home with a little photo of our guy, a blastocyst, “hatching” out of his shell and ready to stick. We hoped.

I felt a certain relief after the transfer was successful. I had hugged the gynaecologist in tears, and he didn’t know how to react. But soon the stress flooded back. I was sure I had a UTI. I went to my GP who diagnosed it immediately. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a UTI diagnosed. It could affect the embryo. I flipped out. Then our three year old started vomiting in the early hours of the morning, for the first time probably in a year. If I caught a tummy bug it could affect the embryo. WTF. Why was this happening?! The more I tried to calm myself down, the more stressed I seemed to become.

It was the day we found out the result that I reached a tipping point. I had barely slept. I woke early and stared at the ceiling. I was sure I should be able to get a result on a pregnancy test. Maybe I should just do one. But I only had another two days to wait. My boobs didn’t feel sore any more. That always happens right before I get a period. That was the final straw. I bawled. I couldn’t go to work. I bawled some more.

My gut feeling was right. The next morning, the day before our official test, I got my period. The anxiety fell away almost instantly and in its place a blanket of numbness and sadness shrouded me. I was transported back to some of my darkest days in this process. I didn’t want to see anyone. I was no longer hungry. I didn’t want to talk. I had my first beer in ages and it was good and bad – all the pain came gushing out and I sobbed on the couch by myself. While I felt like an utter failure as a woman I was at least thankful that the anxiety had left me.

It’s now a couple of days later. I don’t really know where to from here. We have one more chance. I am terrified of what it means if we don’t succeed. I’ve adjusted my expectations so many times that I feel we may be reaching the end of all of this.

IVF part 1: the human pin cushion

We started IVF a little over two weeks ago. It was Mothers Day (the irony of this is was not lost on me). I sat nervously on the couch, dialled up 200 on the Puregon pen, screwed a needle into the end and just sat there. It’s not something that came naturally to me, stabbing yourself in your abdomen. Perhaps that is a good thing.

I think I administered the first injection a bit too fast, some residue was left on my skin. It left me feeling worried and anxious – what if I had just stuffed up our entire cycle, all on the first night?! I called my gynaecologist, he wasn’t bothered but wanted me to talk to the nurses the next day. It turns out that injecting yourself can take a bit of practice and patience.

In addition to injecting myself every evening with Puregon, to stimulate follicle (and hopefully egg) development, from day six of my cycle I also had to inject myself in the mornings with another drug called Orgalutran to prevent ovulation. Initially, the only real side effect was a heinous lump of uncomfortable breast tissue sprung up almost overnight. An ultrasound later and thankfully it was confirmed as drugs and hormones messing with me rather than anything too sinister. Probably could have done without that additional stress though.

My first scan and blood test was on the following Saturday. I went in with the expectation that we would see maybe five or so follicles. The gynaecologist used an ultrasound to start measuring the follicles she could see. “Sixteen” she’d call out to the nurse sitting at the computer. The nurse typed the measurement into the computer. “Fourteen”. “Ten”. “Ten”. “Fourteen” and so it went. I counted in my head with my heart in my mouth, “one, two, three, four, five, six…”

“OK”, said the gynaecologist, “now we’re going to move onto the other ovary”. The OTHER ovary? It seems obvious that this would be the case in hindsight, but at the time I thought that only one ovary would be producing follicles. I stopped counting after that, content that we must be on the right track.

My results showed that we had 22 follicles and I was scheduled to have another blood test and scan on the Monday morning. Things were definitely progressing, and fast. On the Monday, we went through the same follicle counting process as before. 26 follicles!! The nurses seemed nervous about the number of follicles and advised me that I would have to take an injection of Buserelin at 12.30am the following morning to “trigger” the ovulation process.

My egg collection was scheduled for 12.30pm on Wednesday, no food that morning, no water after 10.30am, bring your used needles, instruction after instruction after instruction. It was only day 10 of my cycle and it felt like I suddenly lost control over what was happening.