By early December last year (2017), I’d moved through the motions and I was ready for round 2. I had read about treating the first IVF cycle as a “trial and error” round and that you shouldn’t be too disheartened (if you can ever say that to a woman desperate for a child).
The consultant made adjustments to my drug cocktail recipe (we upped the dose to 450iu Menopur) and the protocol (we needed ICSI – see lessons from my first IVF cycle here). The clinic was closing over Christmas for a few days, so we would only be able to start the second round if my period arrived by 3 December – and lo and behold, it arrived on that very day. Aunt Flo had never been this compliant. This had to be a sign that it was our turn, surely…
The timing was perfect, we were staying in London over Christmas, I was off work for two weeks so I would have plenty of time to relax after transfer. Not that I’m religious, but this had to be our very own baby Jesus?! Another sign, surely…
Almost exactly a year ago, in early September 2017, H and I were super egg-cited [sorry bad yoke 😂] to start our first IVF cycle. After a traumatic 11 months of the miscarriage (read my letter to my angel here), the discovery that I had Asherman’s Syndrome (more here), the uterus surgeries and the various hormone therapy treatments (HRTs), we were ready. It had to be our turn now, surely…
I’d received the drug delivery a week earlier. Not knowing what to expect, I ordered it to work. My office used to be located in one of London’s largest shopping centres, so the delivery guy got lost. He called me (from a withheld number) in the middle of the afternoon and asked that I meet him down a dark alley outside Zara Kids. (Shady AF, if you ask me.) I rushed out of the office, not knowing what he looked like. As it turned out, he wasn’t hard to spot – there was one guy standing next to a HUGE box (see picture on my Instagram). Et voilà, my first drug exchange was completed.
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…
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.