We expected the embryologist to call with an update around 9-10am this morning. I was glued to the phone, ringer on the highest volume. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Why is it that when you’re waiting for a call those hours, minutes seem so long? I’ve never been particularly patient – but if there is one thing this fertility process
has taught me is trying to teach me, it’s to be patient.
To distract myself I met a dear friend and her toddler for coffee and a walk in the park. And, of course, as soon as I stepped out of the house at 11.30am the lovely embryologist called. All six embryos are still in the race. We have five embryos with 6-12 cells, and out of those three beautiful front-runners (perfectly formed with little to no fragmentation). The sixth little runner is struggling and the embryologist doubts it make it to the finish line, but said she wouldn’t disqualify it from the race yet.
On my NHS rounds, I never got a day 3 update, which I fully appreciate is due to lack of resource. After The Disaster Round, I requested a copy of my file so that I could give the history and the data to my new clinic. We had to pay an administration fee of £50 to obtain the notes and it took 21 days – and of course when H turned up on the 22nd day, they still hadn’t copied the notes. Anyway, bygones…
The lovely embryologist called this morning with an update. One of the eggs collected had been immature, so the embryologist had performed ICSI on eight and six of them fertilized. That’s a 75% fertilization rate – above average – and the embryologist called this an EXCELLENT fertilization rate. BOOM! I am happy. H is happy. We are back in the game, baby!
Now, we just need these little chicks to keep developing into beautiful blastocysts. When I was little kid, I had a vivid imagination. I had some cool imaginary friends (in addition to my human similarly-aged friends, I should add) called Mingan and Mangan. My grandmother will recount endless stories of me (age 2) chatting away to these friends. At that young age, I (obviously) didn’t know that talking to Mingan and Mangan would be great training for my future self (age 38) when connecting with my little chicks in a petri dish. Currently, I’m whispering the following in a soft, motherly voice:
“Hello my six little chicks. You’re in the best possible place to develop into strong and healthy embryos and go on to be beautiful babies. You focus on dividing your cells at a normal rate and enjoy yourselves while you’re at the lovely lab. I’m ready to receive you when the time is right.”
I’ve been repeating this little pep talk a few times today and will continue repeating it. I believe in positive affirmations, and I’ve used them on and off during my fertility journey (and I’ll write more about that another day). They don’t work for everyone – and I do think it takes practice (whether or not you’ve had imaginary friends!) – but they work for me. They help me refocus and look forward, which has an extraordinary effect of calming me when I feel anxious. When I was pregnant I felt connected to my embryo because it was growing inside me. It’s hard to feel connected to your embryos when you’re doing IVF because sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions, going from appointment to appointment, from injection to injection… So, chatting to my embryos makes me feel connected to them. And, it reminds me of the end game: to chat to my [real life] baby.
Good night my six little chicks 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣,
I’m sitting in the garden in the sunshine. I am loving this (atypical) British Summer. Despite being born in the very north of Sweden, close to the Arctic Circle, on a cold (-30 Celsius) January day, I am a summer child. I’m soaking up the rays and the vitamin D spray is firmly placed in a drawer (a very risky move when it comes to British Summer).
We got nine eggs this morning and although I was gunning for a dozen (read here), I am very happy with nine little beauties. WHOOP!! Egg collection was a smooth process – I feel a little slow and woozy from the anaesthesia but on the whole I am in no pain and I feel calm and relaxed. In The Disaster Round when we got five eggs and my lining was dire, I woke up after egg collection crying uncontrollably. Today, I feel good.
Although the consultant doesn’t normally work for the IVF clinic on Wednesdays, he popped down especially (from his private clinic) to do my egg collection this morning. Just before the anaesthetist gave me the “G&T” and sent me off to la-la land, the consultant appeared wearing a frog-clad bandana, which put a BIG smile on my face. By the way, is it only me or do you also find that every single anaesthetist says “and here comes the G&T….” before giving you the anaesthetic? I’ve been put to sleep 12 times over the past three years (!!) and every single one of them said the same thing, I swear. The head nurse who has been our primary contact during stimulation also popped down minutes before egg collection, just to wish me luck. It’s those little things that make you feel supported.
Today is day 11 of stimulation and I had an ultrasound scan this morning. There are seven follicles on the right ovary measuring between 15-22mm in diameter and four follicles on the right measuring between 19-26mm in diameter. There is also one more on the right ovary which is measuring 13mm in diameter and could possibly have a growth-spurt and reach 15mm by egg collection.
That’s a dozen in total, so I’m singing [in my head] my own version of The Pointer Sisters: “I’m so eggcited, I just can’t hide it…”
The blood work came back showing that the estrogen levels are up too, so we’re ready to go: double-trigger LH shots (Gonasi 5000 IU and Suprecur 1 mg) this evening – bam! – and collection scheduled for Wednesday, 8.30am. In my previous three rounds, I triggered with a single shot of Ovitrelle 250 mcg but in this round our consultant wants to try a double LH trigger in the hope that more eggs mature. Lucky egg collection is not on Friday because: “what’s the eggs worst day?”….. “fry-day”. (I just realised that I had egg collection on a Friday in The Disaster Round. That explains a lot.)
I had an ultrasound scan this morning to check how the follicles are developing. On Friday at the baseline scan, the nurse could see 15 follicles in total (six on the right and nine on the left ovary). As with previous cycles I respond quickly to the meds. My eggs grow quickly, but they aren’t all growing at the same speed. We had 15 at the marathon starting line. Out of those, it looks like we have ten that are still contenders and out of those we have a group of six front runners and a second group of four stragglers. The group of six are running side-by-side at great speed. The worry is that the four slower ones might not catch up, and then we would need to do egg collection “early” to avoid having over-ripe eggs*. We don’t want exhausted runners to crash out of the race before the finish line. So, we need the group of four to pick up the pace and the group of six to go steady. And, we certainly don’t want any injuries along the way…. C’mon you four!!
I don’t have any comparable stats from my first three egg races because I never had a day 5 scan on the NHS. On the NHS, they scan you for the first time on day 10. In my second
round race, I asked for a day 8 scan because I respond quickly to the stimulation drugs. Because the biggies are running full steam ahead, I have to start my Cetrotide today, a day earlier than expected. I forgot to bring one with me, but luckily the lovelyy nurse gave me one soI didn’t have to dash home…. Phew, and thank you.
Today is the start of new beginnings: the start of my fourth egg collection. I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of months mentally resetting. Right now, I feel positive, hopeful and excited. I saw the lovely nurse at the clinic this morning for an ultrasound scan and the lining looks thin enough (1.7mm) to start . For an Asherman’s survivor having a thin lining fills you with FEAR, but today I’ll take it. Current IVF score after three rounds is: IVF 3 – Me 0. BRING ON ROUND 4.
I began stimulating this evening. For my first three rounds, I took Menopur (300iu in the first round and 450iu in the second and third rounds). This time we are going for the Rolls Royce of stimulation drugs: Bemfola. I will be taking the max dose: 450iu.
I am not squeamish and I’ve never had an issue with needles, so I don’t mind the injection phase – hats off to those of you who have fear of needles and still do this!! I was just thinking about all the odd places in which I have been “shooting up” throughout this process: work loo, random office medical room, a Pilates studio, a wedding (mid-speeches), hotels on work trips and the classiest place must have been the public toilet at Natural Kitchen (somehow it felt more virtuous than doing “it” at Gourmet Burger Kitchen). Sometimes I wonder if I could add to the “Other” section of my CV (or perhaps the dreaded “Interests” section): Highly skilled at self-administering subcutaneous injections in a calm, motivated and efficacious manner.
I started this blog back in January shortly after our second IVF-round had failed. As I’m sure you know if you’re reading this, the infertility journey has its ups and downs and some days, weeks, months are harder than others. After the second round, my heart was shattered and I couldn’t muster up the energy to write. Quite a lot has happened since January: I have had a few more tests done and completed our third IVF-round (a fresh cycle) in March and it was brutal for many reasons. That too failed and, truth be told, my heart was heavier than ever before. We are doing a second ERA now in May and a fourth egg collection round in June. I have no idea how that will go, but I’m ready to write again. So, here we go…