Our IVF Journey: Part 5: Round 2.
And so we headed off back to the fertility clinic for our follow-up review meeting. We discussed all elements of our failed cycle with a doctor and a lead nurse. At this point I remember feeling like I just wanted a reason. I wanted something to have gone wrong, something to blame; other than just myself and my body. However, apart from the obvious (negative result) it was viewed as a near perfect cycle. My body had responded well to the drugs, I hadn’t produced too many eggs to cause OHSS and most eggs had fertilised in the first instance. I decided to take this positively. It meant that my body had worked the way it should and most importantly, it COULD. I was so scared that I couldn’t actually carry a baby due to my PCOS and my accident. I thought this was God’s way of saying it wasn’t going to happen for me. Yet, I decided to look at it like it was just nature’s way of saying that this embryo wasn’t right. This wasn’t the right time for us.
The doctors told me that if we were to go for a second cycle that they would slightly increase my medication, in the hope that, I would produce more eggs. They gave us the go ahead to start straight away. We decided to go away and think about it. We were so nervous and worried. We had been through so much and I suppose we didn’t expect them to say, “Yes everything’s okay; off you go for round 2.” I think even though we’d been through IVF and knew how it worked now this was our first failed cycle, so we were unsure as to how it worked in terms of what happened next and how soon. Was my body really ready to be pumped full of hormones again so soon? Could we go through that again emotionally?
After a lot of deliberating and letting everything sink in, I contacted the clinic a few days later (this felt like weeks later ha!) to ask if we could see another doctor for a consultation. I was told that the review meeting we’d had was the only consultation we would receive. If we wanted to see a doctor again, we had to pay £200! Considering the costs we knew that were involved in going through with our second cycle, we decided this wasn’t something we could afford to do. The nurse reassured me that if the doctor had said to go ahead, everything should be okay. We were still dubious…
So after contacting the clinic several more times (which seemed like my entire summer holidays), we decided to go ahead. We took out a £10,000 loan as we decided we couldn’t wait any longer for a family and we had to put our faith in the doctors once again.
In preparation for this cycle I had continued to follow the previous advice from the doctor and had not been going to the gym. My body had had a full 3 months off from the gym by the end and I felt better for it. I stuck to attending gentle yoga classes (for my mind) and lots of walking. I was also had acupuncture recommended to me, by a friend who had also had IVF. It was quite pricey but we decided that if it would aid our chances by relaxing my body and preparing it for receiving an embryo, then it would be money well spent! I went for hourly sessions once every one-two weeks for 6 weeks before we began the injections. I also had a session on the day of egg collection to relax my body and one after transfer to also ‘welcome’ the embryo. I then had just one session during my 2ww where I was treated as pregnant in order to not harm the baby.
Acupuncture itself is not something I enjoyed as such. It’s not that I would say I didn’t enjoy either. It was just a rather strange experience for me. I think the reason behind this is because I’m not used to having time on my own to relax and think. It was a little uncomfortable (having a needle in your ankle is somewhat a little painful!) but my therapist was lovely and it was so nice to speak to somebody different about the whole thing. She was fully qualified in infertility acupuncture and had fantastic understanding.
So we booked in for our nurse’s consultation and baseline scan. I was dreading all of the paperwork again and being timed again. In my head I’d be told we could start straight away so that’s what I expected. Thankfully, due to the close timing, we were able to use most of the previous paperwork and just had some signing over to do. The baseline scan came back all fine. My ovaries had settled back down and my body was back to normal (well my normal anyway). I’d not had a second period after losing the embryo but my lining had continued to stay thin which meant we could start again with no provera. I was due to go on a hen do but the date we were given was the day I was actually due to go. After some thought, we decided that we could no longer put our life on hold; we needed to put ourselves first for once. And so we had our date to start. 28th August.
This time round we felt much more confident with the injections and just knowing what was coming up really helped ease our minds. I felt like during my scans (which I had on day 8 and 11 this time) were much more detailed as I was given more explanations and able to ask the questions I needed to. I couldn’t help but think was this because we were now paying? I’m not here to slag the NHS at all. We were so lucky to have had a free cycle on the NHS as some people don’t get any at all and I feel for them so much (working in the public sector myself) the pay cuts and staffing issues are just insane!
I injected for a total of 9 days and I had my egg collection day estimated at the nurse’s consultation (between Mon-Sat of the second week of injections). It ended up being booked for Monday. Eek!
At the egg collection we received 9 eggs and 7 of these fertilised. We were a little disheartened as this result wasn’t even as good as last time and we were under the impression that due to the increase of medication that I would hopefully produce more. However we took this on the chin and remained positive. When I received the phone call, 6 out of the 7 eggs were of high grading. Due to our age we were only allowed one transferred and so the best one was. It got the highest grading of a 5AA. We were told that most successful transfer were performed using grade 4 embryos. We were over the moon! It couldn’t get any better than that! This time round we paid for something extra called ‘embryo glue.’
“Hyaluronan occurs naturally in your womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Studies have shown that it makes secretions from these organs stickier, aiding fertilisation and implantation. Embryo glue mimics those uterine secretions. On your embryo transfer day, your embryos are dipped into the ‘glue’” (NHS, 2017).
After the transfer I received a call to say that 2 of the other embryos were 4AB and 4BA and were suitable for freezing. (Hello siblings!) We were delighted! We now have to pay for these freezing along with Rob’s sperm yearly so it’s safe to say I won’t be waiting around to use these. It’s quite difficult to accept that Rob and I will always have to essentially PAY to have our children. This has only made us appreciate the things you always take for granted more.
And so I returned to work for the full 2 weeks. It kept my mind occupied and to my relief, I wasn’t in ANY pain whatsoever. I’m not sure if this time was just different all round; my mind set, the acupuncture, knowing what to expect…who knows but whatever it was…it worked!!!!! We are pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I know most of my friends and family will already know this due to Facebook!)
I had worked out the day to match the day I bled from our previous cycle. I had in my head throughout that if I could get passed this day, we could be in with a fighting chance of being successful. At 3am that morning (Yes neither of us could sleep) we woke up, to our relief, to find no blood. Rob said, “We need to do a test!” He was so excited! And so hopeful! We were due to test on Sunday 29th September. We had always said we would test on 27th as that was my birthday. However, I agreed and we got a BFP (Big Fat Positive!) It was the best pre-birthday present ever!!!! We tested every day 27th, 28th, and 29th just to make sure (he he) and then phoned the fertility clinic with our news.
We were then booked in for our week 7 scan. If we made it that far…I cannot describe how nervous we both were. Every twinge, every ache, I felt it and we both worried. But we made it! We had done this! Every tear, the desperation, the heartache, the longing for a child, it was ALL worth the wait.
I just want to say how lucky we are. Words cannot describe how we are feeling right now. We have some very close friends who have also been on an IVF journey and are still on this journey 10 years later. I cannot imagine how this feels but this is something we definitely discussed after our failed cycle. During the second round 2ww, I asked Rob ‘Where is the cut off line?’ ‘How do you say we cannot afford to do this anymore?’ ‘How do we keep putting ourselves through this?’ We discussed that it would mean saving each year for one round of IVF per year. We thought about how this would mean no more holidays and this would be what we looked forward to each year.
The reason I wanted to write this blog was not only to share my journey but to help others going through IVF, letting people know you are not alone in this and that there are people out there who are more than willing to support you. I often felt like Rob and I were alone. Friends and family could listen but unless you’re going through it, it’s something you’ll never fully understand (I don’t mean this disrespectfully in any way at all). I also want to give some advice for friends and family supporting loved ones through IVF, please DO NOT tell them “It will happen if you just relax.” These words I heard far too many times throughout our journey and to be brutally honest, they really do not help!!
I also want to take this opportunity to give a huge shout out to Seacroft Fertility Clinic in Leeds. This gift you have given us is beyond amazing. You guys work absolute miracles, we are eternally grateful and will be forever in your debt!