In 2012, we learned we would need IVF to stand any chance of having a family. We naively thought that we’d have treatment and nine months later we’d have a baby in our arms.
That’s not quite how it worked.
December 2009: Get married and decide to start trying for a family
January 2011: Realise that it doesn’t seem to be happening, begin process of testing to figure out what’s going on (or isn’t going on). There are a few hiccups in the following months and we have to put the process on hold for a while.
October 2011: Restart the official trying process and get the blood tests completed. All seems fine.
March 2012: Lap & Dye op reveals both my Fallopian Tubes are blocked and having a baby naturally just won’t happen.
April 2012: Go on the NHS waiting list. Discover we’ve got a two year wait for treatment and decide to investigate going private.
2013: Get funds together and have our first round of IVF privately, hoping to egg share. I take drugs to overstimulate my ovaries, which work way too well. I produce over 70 follicles (in your average cycle you’ll produce one or two; in an IVF cycle you’d like to get between 10-20). This is a dangerous number and the cycle has to be cancelled before egg collection. I end up very poorly in hospital all the same.
We take a long break to decide whether we want to risk another round of IVF and consider our options.
October 2014: Discover we’d actually been removed from the NHS waiting list.
January 2015: Get put back on the waiting list.
April/May/June 2015: Second round of IVF, this time on the NHS. I make it to egg collection (two eggs away from being classed as hyperstimulated). We get 19 eggs, 7 ICSI’d eggs fertilise (half are treated as traditional IVF, i.e. put in a petri dish with some sperm and left to do their thing; half are treated as ICSI, i.e. the individual sperm is selected and injected directly into the egg); none of the IVF’d eggs fertilise (looks like we’re dealing with something more than just the blocked Fallopian Tubes here). After five days of growing in the lab we have four embryos at the ‘blastocyst’ stage.
Our first transfer is of a single embryo we name 5BB (its grade). It fails the day before I’m due to take a pregnancy test.
September/October/November 2015: We have a frozen round of IVF, known as a FET (frozen embryo transfer), transferring two of our embryos who we nicknamed Olaf and Elsa (because they were frozen). They stick for a little while and then I have an early miscarriage. I had spotting from the day of the pregnancy test and we begin to wonder if my progesterone levels might be causing a problem.
April/May/June/July 2016: We use our final frozen embryo. There is a delay because my period is late. Then my uterine lining doesn’t thin enough. Eventually we make it to transfer and use a different type of progesterone (Crinone gel instead of Cyclogest pessaries). This cycle is an unmitigated failure. Five days after transfer I get my period.
September 2016: We have a follow up to the failed cycle and decide that with our next fresh round we’ll throw everything at it. We establish I need extra progesterone support (which I’ll receive in the form of Lubion injections alongside the Cyclogest pessaries) and treatment for a clotting factor issue (a blood thinner called Clexane).
January/February 2017: We start our final round of treatment. We know this is it. If this doesn’t work, we’re done. It’s a scary thought and neither I nor the Spousal Unit really discuss it, it’s just something we know and accept.
I begin to hyperstimulate again but this time I’m allowed to coast (in other words I take a break from the stimulating drugs for a couple of days) and use a different sort of trigger shot to prepare my eggs for collection and the cycle becomes known as a ‘freeze all’ meaning any embryos we get will be frozen for use later. I get 19 (I’m nothing if not consistent), 12 are mature enough for ICSI, 10 fertilise and by Day 5 we have 9 left to go in the freezer; double our chances and all better quality than the embryos from the previous round.
April/May 2017: We begin our frozen round of treatment and transfer two perfect, top quality embryos. We nickname them Bo and Luke and they are beautiful.
June 2017: I get a positive pregnancy test!