Big Fat…

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Negative. Sadly it wasn’t to be this time. We went back to the clinic after our two week wait and were given the bad news in the little room which has previously been the setting to our happy pregnancy news. I am really disappointed it hasn’t worked as after the whole ordeal of the pills, injections, scans, appointments, egg collection, embryo transfer and painful wait we are left with nothing. No frozen embryos and worst of all no pregnancy. It is very deflating. It feels like a waste of time, money and emotions. The real frustration is that it all came to an end before it ever really begun.

That being said if there ever was a time for it not to work then this was it. Before our son arrived we were so desperate for a baby that we would have been crushed by a negative result. This time we are disappointed but by no means heartbroken. We have a beautiful son to enjoy and we will try again in a few months. We knew it was going to be a long bumpy road ahead and we are pleased we have begun the process now rather look back with regret that we left it too long to start the journey.

It’ll take more than that to knock us down. Project Baby Number 2 continues…

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Brain Overload

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So much has been going on. Gahhhhh. Our embryo was transferred on Saturday. It was an uncomfortable but bearable procedure. But now my mind is swirling with possibilities, daydreams, hopes, fears… the works!

The good news was that the embryo was really good quality and received a high grading. It was already starting to hatch and the embryologist was very pleased with it. However that doesn’t mean it will work so isn’t particularly reassuring. The bad news is that none of the other embryos were worth freezing which means this is our only shot from this cycle. I’m really disappointed about this as I had hoped we would have a few to freeze so that we had a few chances. Now the pressure is really on. It had all been so promising when we collected 18 eggs but turns out this cycle wasn’t wasn’t very successful.

I keep having to stop myself from thinking about the outcome. Could I be pregnant? After the previous two embryo transfers I remember being certain that I wasn’t pregnant. I felt totally normal. I don’t know what will happen and I will have to wait another week until we return to the clinic to find out the outcome. All I know is that if this doesn’t work I will be gutted. I would absolutely love to have another little one. But at least I am fortunate to have a beautiful baby already. His lovely face will cheer me up and make me feel incredibly blessed if things don’t go how I hope.

Egg Collection

a follicle.jpgToday was my egg collection and suddenly the whole thing felt very real. To my surprise the nurse, anesthetist and embryologist remembered us and greeted us warmly. The procedure was a fairly unremarkable experience since I was under general anesthetic. One minute I was having a chat with the doctor, the next I woke up in the recovery room and it was all done!

The egg collection was a success and they retrieved 18 eggs. Now we must wait to hear how many fertilised. It is hard not to compare everything to last time. But since our eggs and sperm are 2 years older I don’t suppose the outcome is comparable. However last time I had 16 eggs so already we are in a better position. However it’s all to play for now as there are a multitude of variables which will dictate the outcome.

Tomorrow, and for the next 5 days, I will receive a phone call with updates on the progress of the embryos. All being well we will have a few that make it to blastocyst stage, one of which we can transfer in 5 days time. The waiting begins.

Happy Gay Pride

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This weekend the streets of London were filled with fun and excitement as Gay Pride was held in the capital. I realised that I am yet to post a single post that acknowledges that gay couples also struggle to create their families. They undergo IVF to conceive and have for decades. So how does it work?

  • Lesbian couples often “share” the cycle. One partner undergoes stimulation of the ovaries and egg retrieval and the other carries the pregnancy. It is also possible for lesbian couples to undergo simultaneous embryo transfers and carry concurrently with the same due date. Subsequent pregnancies using frozen embryos can be carried by either woman.
  • Gay men need the help of either one or two women to complete an IVF cycle. The same woman may be the egg donor and the surrogate carrier, or different women may fulfill each role.
  • There are currently no procedures that permit a same-sex couple to conceive in a way that combines their own genes. The closest approximation is when a lesbian couple uses a brother’s sperm for insemination of his sister’s partner’s/wife’s eggs or when two men use a sister’s eggs, fertilized by her brother’s partner’s / husband’s sperm in a surrogacy cycle. This is also done by heterosexual couples in IVF who need donor eggs or sperm.

Ugh IVF is both a stressful ordeal and an absolute miracle. If you are going through IVF at the moment, whether you are straight or gay, good luck!

No Laughing Matter

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Last week I happened to catch an interview on This Morning with TV presenter Julia Bradbury. She talked about her grueling IVF experience which happily resulted in the birth of her twins. She discussed the disappointment and failures she experienced during the five cycles she undertook and the added obstacle of her age (44).

Most fascinating was her reference to an Israeli study about the importance of remaining positive during embryo transfer. The research found that women who were made to laugh during IVF by bringing clowns into the surgery were statistically more likely to conceive than those who weren’t entertained.

This is not the first I have heard of this. My husband excitedly regaled this to me following our embryo transfer, during which, for reasons unknown to me, I got the giggles. Proper tear inducing giggles. I was laughing so much my husband had to turn away from me in an effort to stop the laughter. Perhaps it was nerves, or embarrassment at having my legs wide open, but that laughter clearly didn’t hurt as the outcome was a positive pregnancy. So have some jokes at the ready!

Right Place, Right Time

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For the first time a new test has been developed that tailors the timing of IVF treatment to a woman’s individual cycle. The scientists behind the technique believe that IVF frequently fails because the embryo is transferred at the wrong time, missing a crucial fertility window. The new test pinpoints a woman’s optimum time for treatment and in pilot studies the approach significantly boosted success rates.

There are more than 60,000 IVF cycles in Britain each year, but just 24% of these treatments lead to live births. Clinics currently check the visual appearance of the womb lining using ultrasound, giving a general indication of health. In the pilot study, the test was given to 85 women who had each experienced on average five rounds of IVF that had failed at the implantation stage. When the gene analysis was used as a guide, 33% of those treated had a successful implantation simply by just changing the day.

Nick Macklon, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Southampton, believes that issues linked to the womb lining explain around two-thirds of cases of recurrent implantation failure, with around one-third of cases being due to embryo abnormalities. He asserts that these tests could significantly improve success rates.

Fresh or Frozen?

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Having had a fresh embryo transfer in my first pregnancy and a frozen embryo transfer in my second I am interested in whether one is preferential to the other. Traditionally, women undergoing IVF have a fresh embryo transfer for their first attempt and then, if there are a surplus of embryos left, then those can be frozen. This allows the woman a chance to use the frozen embryos for a second pregnancy, like in my case, and also a second attempt at the first pregnancy if unsuccessful with the fresh ET. Additionally, women who are at high risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) during the fresh IVF cycle can freeze all their embryos and do a frozen embryo transfer at a later date.

Previously, many centres had FET success rates that were about 10% less successful than their fresh ET. That has changed due to:

  • The frozen embryo transfer pregnancy success rates being influenced by the method of freezing embryos which is far quicker than it used to be.
  • Fast freezing that leads to approximately 90% of embryos surviving the thaw process.  The survival is because there are minimal ice crystals forming with vitrification and minimal cellular degeneration to the embryo.
  • The frozen embryo transfer success rate being influenced by the quality of the embryos frozen. Some IVF centers freeze all the remaining embryos while others will only freeze those of good quality.  The better the quality of the embryos at the time of freezing, the better the freeze-thaw success.
  • Some IVF centers are doing embryo banking cycles with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS).  They biopsy the embryos and test them for genetic abnormalities, and freeze them.  Once they have enough genetically normal embryos then they transfer these.  This is good for woman with recurrent pregnancy loss or advanced maternal age.

So the evidence suggests that like peas fresh is as good as frozen!

Big Fat Positive

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We had our blood test on Friday. The days preceding it were a blur of anxiety, over analysis and momentary excitement. I had had intermittent symptoms, but I was so unsure about whether they were a result of a pregnancy or the progesterone. I was 50-50. It could have gone either way.

At the clinic they took my blood and then we sat and waited for what felt like an eternity. Actually my husband sat and waited and I did laps of the waiting room. Eventually the nurse returned to say that it had been worth the wait and we were pregnant! I was shocked. Maybe I had tried to prepare myself for (more) bad news.

I am so relieved, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Inevitably I don’t feel the same as last time. Gone is the naive joy and giddy excitement. I am entering this pregnancy with my eyes wide open. I am all too aware of all the things that can, and do, go wrong. It is a long road ahead, but at least we are on the right track now. This time I will not daydream of the future or make any plans. I will focus on the 7 week scan and then take it from there. Please g-d things will have a happy ending this time. Maybe there could be sunshine and blue skies ahead.

Get On Your Bike!

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Waiting until our second IVF attempt seemed like a prison sentence. To pass the time I took up some new hobbies. One of which was cycling. Turns out bikes are a bit like IVF, you have to wait for them to be ready, and they are more expensive than you thought. However I love my new wheels, matching helmet, star-print bell and pink gloves (as shown above).

I ride to work (well before the embryo transfer I did) and with my husband and friends. Mostly I ride to St. John’s Wood for frozen yogurt! Keeping fit and active was just a bonus really.

If you see me cycling past please try not to hit me with your car.

 

Going Insane

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I keep groping my boobs to see if they feel tender. Then I wonder if my cramps feel like period cramps or pregnancy cramps.  I think my back aches, but maybe I slept funny. I don’t feel nauseous, I don’t have a head ache. My appetite is normal. I feel tired, but who doesn’t feel fatigued after all the IVF stress?

Pregnancy “symptoms” can be attributed to the side effects of Cyclogest, a suppository I use daily (lucky me) to increase my  progesterone levels.

Last time I don’t remember feeling anything during the Two Week Wait and I was pregnant.

Driving my husband mad.

This. Is. Torture.

Premenstrual Twinge or Pregnancy Twinge?

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And so it begins. Am I pregnant? Am I not pregnant? PUPO (Pregnant until proven otherwise) is a term I have seen on blogs. The worst part is that pregnancy symptoms are pretty similar to those experienced before a period. During my last pregnancy I felt nothing at this point. I was convinced that I was not pregnant because I felt completely normal. My nausea didn’t start until about 6 weeks in. That and a heightened sense of smell that resulted in me telling my poor husband how bad he smelt. Consequently I have had moments of absolute certainty that I am pregnant, followed, often minutes later, with total conviction that I am not pregnant and my period is coming. It’s a roller coaster! I experience cramps at various points in my cycle so I have to remind myself that it may mean diddly squat.

The wait until the blood test is going to be unbearable.

(FYI that is not my stomach. Sadly.)