Since I posted about my excitement of getting nine eggs, after I had thought I would be lucky to get seven, my IVF cycle has been moving forward. Like many things in life, IVF has a terrible habit of plodding on whether you are ready for it or not. You might think you are all prepared and set to get going but, quite often at the last moment, you realise you are not. Is anyone ever ready to be permanently attached to their phone whilst they go through the tightrope walking terror that is waiting for a daily embryo report?
On Saturday, the day after the egg retrieval, I nearly threw every last shred of sanity I possessed out the window when I missed the call from the embryologist, simply because I hadn't taken my phone to the toilet with me. I haven't made that mistake again. Honestly, what a stupendous blunder! The missed call led to several minutes of sheer horror when I realised that firstly, I wasn't holding a pen to write down the embryologists number and secondly, I had no idea how to save the message into my phone. The panic reached dizzying heights when the crackly voice of the embryologist was thoughtless enough to announce that she "would like to speak" with me. Arrggghhh....far too formal and far too scary. Surely it would have been much better for her to say "please call me back I have good news for you".
After much hopping round the living room, some deep breathing and muttering "think clearly woman", I did manage to sufficiently figure out my phone, retrieve the message, although I am not sure I could do it again, and call the good embryologist lady back. I held my breath as she told me all nine eggs had fertilised. Yes, all nine! I thanked her at least ten times, if not more, and smiled solidly for, oh I don't know, an hour or maybe even longer.
Then the madness started.
Once that phone call, which contained the first update of our potential babies, was over very little has entered my brain, except thoughts of embryos. Where they are? How they are doing? Are they are still growing? Did they mind being imaged every five minutes?
We had further embryo reports on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Every time there was a sigh of relief as I was told that all nine were still going strong.
Then came transfer.
The embryo transfer isn't difficult or painful, at least no more so than your average smear test, but it is odd. First you need to get used to being half naked, with your legs in stirrups, in a room full of people. Unsurprisingly, this can be awkward, not least because you are positioned directly in front of the embryology lab door. I am getting proficient at making being publicly bottomless look like the most natural thing in the world; I can now chat away happily as if we were all enjoying nibbles at particularly good Christmas do.
The best part about the transfer is you get to see the embryos; it's amazing, almost life changing and it blows my mind every time. It is life in its rawest form. Life just five days old. I look at those embryos and I can't help but gaze at my husband and marvel that they are made from a little piece of him and a little piece of me. Like I said, totally mind-blowing stuff.
This time, prior to our embryo transfer, whilst by legs were uncomfortably hoisted in the air, the doctor, Mr F, who was performing our transfer, told us that the blasts we were about to place into my uterus were of extremely high quality and asked if we really wanted to go ahead with two.
Ummmm.....arrggggh....ooohhh. Did we really?
We thought we did. Mr F, who is Mr T's boss, cautioned about the risks of multiples and we all exchanged glances. My husband and I nodded; we were going to stick with two.
Not long after the decision was made, those two beautiful blastocysts were sliding down the catheter, all snugly wrapped in a good dose of EmbryoGlue, into my well prepared cushiony uterus and, as usual, I whispered a silent prayer.
The madness has continued. There is a constant soundtrack running through my mind: Am I pregnant yet? Will I get pregnant? When shall I test? It never stops. Sometimes my subconscious plays the "I hope I get pregnant" track over and over again. If you have suffered from any kind of fertility problems, or even if you are just trying to get pregnant a little longer than most, you may have heard the "I hope I get pregnant track" yourself.
I can't believe this is my third transfer. I struggle to comprehend that I am getting used to going through IVF. How can it be that my uterus has now been host to six different embryos and my apartment isn't over run with baby clothes, I haven't got sick in my hair and the dark circles under my eyes aren't from gently rocking a crying baby back to sleep in the early hours of the morning? I am choosing to have faith that it just hasn't happened yet. Not yet, but please God soon.
We are now two days past the transfer and too early for a pregnancy test to be useful. I know from my first cycle that a good, and extremely expensive, test will detect a pregnancy at four days past transfer. Now, only a crazy fool would test when the embryos have only had four days to get themselves comfy and start pumping out the pregnancy hormone. Hey! Who are you calling a fool? Okay, I admit it, I am not good at the holding out part. This time, and I know I will look back at this in shame, I am planning to wait until Friday 14
I have also been hiding because one of my friends gave birth to her baby girl almost exactly on my twin girls due date. The announcement was accompanied by an email full of photos and a trip, thankfully without said baby, to the local Mamas and Papas shop to buy the tiny girl a gift. Let's just say it wasn't easy but it's done now.
Ugghh....infertility is some mean shit.
So for those of your who haven't worked it out from my post, yes, we included the Eeva and the EmbryoGlue in our cycle. In the end, even though I don't really think it makes any difference, I couldn't say no to the Eeva. My mind was really made up by the nurse informing me, when I called to find out when we had to decide, that I may have already have left it too late and it was possible that there wouldn't be available space in the Eeva incubator. It is funny how, as soon as you think that you might not be able to have something, it suddenly becomes a whole load more attractive.
In the end Eeva rated six of embryos high (the top score) and, of those six perfect embryos, two were transferred into my uterus and three others were lucky enough to have the privilege of hanging out in liquid nitrogen for a while. The ones that got to have the first go at being babies were chosen because they made it to blast slightly faster than the others and, sadly, not because Eeva had indicated that they were any better. I hate to say it but I think I just spent £800 on slightly easing my mind for five days.
As for the EmbryoGlue, well that decision turned out to be a little easier. There is real clinic evidence presented in a meta-analysis performed as part of a Cochrane Review that EmbryoGlue, or any transfer medium that contains hyaluronan, will significantly increase clinical pregnancy rates. That was good enough for me. There have been conflicting studies since the review was published but, overall, it seems like the EmbryoGlue really does work.
Well, this post is very me, me, me, isn't is? There is another person going through all this too. My lovely husband, or Mr H as I just decided to call him, has also been struck down with the crazy fever. Today he has asked me: Are you pregnant? Can you feel anything? Do you want to take a test today? Are sure you are taking your progesterone? and, my favourite: When will you know if you are pregnant? Poor, dear Mr H. He certainly wasn't like this during out first IVF cycle; I suspect the crazy is contagious or, maybe, it just gets a harder each time we haul our miserable selves through it.
Sorry this post is a bit scrappy but I hope I can redeem myself by leaving you with a picture of our miraculous, and I do think development of IVF has been a miracle, embryos.
They are both sitting in a bubble of EmbryoGlue; the top one has begun hatching out of its shell and the bottom one is almost ready to start hatching.
Good luck little embryos.