January 31st 2020
Egg collection no.3
But before I start, let me take you back. In December 2019 we changed clinics after our previous one sadly closed and we embarked on a new journey for baby no.2 and in hope of another IVF miracle. Secondary Infertility had taken me to the darkest places. Changed me in so many ways. Add in a cancer diagnosis for Phil and I think we felt like the world was conspiring against us.
After conceiving Austin on our first IVF attempt I was talking myself into accepting that we just weren’t worthy of another healthy baby. Too many other deserving couples still desperately waiting, so why should we be blessed with another?
After three miscarriages last year in May, September and November we decided to try and enjoy Christmas, then re-start the process in the new year. We seemingly got all our ducks in a row, had all the recurrent miscarriage checks and a full reproductive immunology report so we knew what could be treated. An ERA cycle was on the cards too.
One of the first things our new consultant told us, on our first meeting after going through our history was this:
“You can’t keep doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome”
The definition of insanity: Albert Einstein.
Wow, that really hit us both. We had transferred 9 embryos since having Austin. I had miscarried them all. Some were double embryo transfers, some single. None of our precious babies made it past the 6 week point. These words were so encouraging and we both sensed an air of excitement about IVF again. It was quite a light bulb moment for us.
After our 6th miscarriage in November 2019 I am not ashamed to say I was completely broken.
So armed with all this new excitement and knowledge we were back at egg collection day. I have PCOS and a very high AMH. It was 59 at my last check and I was 38 years old. The Dr’s had done a brilliant job of safely stimulating me then coasting me for a few days to help control any OHSS and as I went into theatre that day, I was feeling happy and well.
We collected 20 eggs, they were fertilised with Phil’s frozen sperm and very similar to my previous collections, I recovered well. They monitored my levels and I pushed to have a fresh transfer. A previous ERA cycle had shown a receptive uterus after 5 days on progesterone and the clinic suggested we freeze all and follow that plan. But I wanted a fresh transfer. Austin our son, was the result of our only fresh embryo transfer and after all the painful FET losses I had psychologically built a wall up against them. As I was well, the clinic agreed to ahead with a fresh transfer on day 5.
Along with the progesterone, I was to start a drug called Tacrolimus. My reproductive immunology report showed high Cytokines and this could be an explanation for all the early losses. Instead of being treated with Humira injections we discussed taking Tacrolimus as they had seen some good results with this drug. I think it is relatively new to the fertility world. An immunosuppressive drug that is given to patients to help them from rejecting new organs and essentially suppresses your immune system.
5th February 2020.
After the initial 20 eggs collected, 16 were mature and 12 fertilised. The embryologist informed us that on day 5 we had 4 good quality blastocysts. We also had some remaining in the freezer at our previous clinic too.
We made the decision to transfer two and freeze the other two.
One grade 4AB and one 3BB embryos were put back home.
The TWW commenced. I am a serial early tester but this time I didn’t have the energy for the emotional rollercoaster of peeing on a stick every hour of the day. Maybe even part of me didn’t want to see a positive test.
But I knew I was pregnant early doors. Those all too familiar feelings and twinges of seven previous pregnancies were hard to ignore. I started gagging around 3 days past transfer ( a very obvious sign for me) but I knew I had to hold out until day 9 when I was going to the clinic for a blood test. Valentines day to be precise.
The day before test day, I panicked and decided I wanted to know for sure and gave in. The test was positive and my heart sunk. Here we go again. I actually felt sick. I didn’t think I had the strength to loose another baby.
The clinic confirmed a positive result through bloods the next day and the nurse excitedly rung me to say congratulations. I snuffled a weak thank you and retreated into myself. A repeat blood test on day 12 (3 days later) would be the next step. I didn’t test in that time. I actually think I have PTSD from watching pregnancy test lines starting to fade. It’s a torturous process and I couldn’t do it anymore.
Day 12 and a simple email from the clinic telling me that my levels were rising well. Holy Shit. I was asked to book an early pregnancy scan in two weeks time. It was the first time I smiled.
March 3rd 2020
Nervousness didn’t even cover how we felt. We’ve sat through too many silent empty scans to have any excitement. I just prepared myself for the worst and thought about how to try and make the Dr feel better at delivering us bad news.
But to our surprise, there she was. One embryo measuring 6 weeks 1 Day. A flicker of a heartbeat too. Is this real life? I asked the Dr to keep showing me. He repeated about 5 times that every looked OK. I asked. “Can I look again”
The tiniest blog at the top of the sack. How he could confirm all looked OK from what we saw is mind blowing.
At this point only our parents knew we had completed a transfer and I still didn’t feel confident telling anyone else. None of my best friends knew and it was hard to keep the worry to myself. Quite frankly I was fed up with telling people we were pregnant only to tell them a week or so later that sadly we weren’t anymore. I asked the clinic if I come back in a weeks time and check how things were progressing.
I also started intralipids infusion that week too. I had stopped the Tacrolimus at 6 weeks so we moved on to the next step.
7 week Scan
To our amazement we saw a beautifully growing embryo. Measuring 7 weeks and 1 day and with such an obvious heartbeat. Our consultant was thrilled for us. He knew we hadn’t got this far since pregnant with Austin.
I opened up to some close friends, proudly sent them pictures of our little Bub.
I daren’t believe we would actually meet this baby but I fell head over heels in love. Our consultant offered weekly scans if they offered me reassurance but this time I wanted to hold out a couple of weeks.
9 week scan
Like every scan I was nervous, this was a big one for me and I knew probably the last at my clinic as lockdown has been enforced due to the coronavirus. There she was. Measuring 9 weeks and 2 days. Wriggling around with little arms and legs. Cheekily with her back to us. Hope starting to build. Negativity still winning majority vote though.
We decided to do the Harmony testing at 11 weeks, another millstone to get through. I was still having infusions too. Due to the coronavirus outbreak my NHS dating scan was delayed until I would be well over 13 weeks so I booked a private scan (my clinic had closed at this point too) to offer some reassurance. I had to go on my own which was so frightening and the longest time between scans.
To my absolute amazement there she was again dancing about on the screen. The longest legs I have seen and laying upside down! I was now measuring 12 weeks and 6 days and the relief was so up lifting.
The following day we received the news that the results showed low risk for any chromosome abnormalities and that we were having a GIRL. One of nurses phoned with the news and I cried with relief.
We wanted to share our news at this point as I hit the 13 week mark and I desperately wanted to start believing in her. I felt guilty that I didn’t believe. Although that sounds silly I know. I was just protecting my heart.
This little girl who was conceived with frozen sperm from the week her dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and growing during a pandemic just confirms how much of a fighter she is. Already defying the odds and as I approach week 15 and my belly grows more, I want to believe that all will be OK. I also like to think that the other embryo we transferred on that day played a huge part in helping their sibling grow. That in order for her to develop maybe they sacrificed themselves.
Please keep growing little one. I will always keep the hope that we get to bring our rainbow home. Our 8th IVF transfer, our 8th pregnancy.