Project:Fertility

Well that plan went well! I’m gonna start a new blog and I’m going to update it every day! Or maybe every week. Defo every month or so.

Turns out I meant every year by the looks of things.

When I started the blog initially it was going to be all about the IVF because at the time all I thought about was IVF. At the start, I woke up and it was the first thing I thought of, and the last thing I thought of at night. And not in a good way.

And then something changed, I realised that I was relieved. No more wondering, when will it happen, why isn’t it happening? News of other pregnancies had been like a kick to the stomach. Why not us?

But then I felt relief. At least now we know! The worst was the not knowing. Now we can make a plan, we know where we stand. I started to relax, and enjoy life again. I was no longer consumed by it all.

The first big decision we had to make was which clinic to go to. The main clinics in and around Dublin all have very good recommendations. So we based it on how it could work around my job and the hours I do. Then a news headline came along telling us that one clinic in particular had some new technology which hugely improved the success rates, so our decision was made. We chose the Beacon CARE clinic in Sandyford.

At this point I was almost excited about the whole thing. Off we went to meet the doctor and get the show on the road at last.

That meeting was a bit of a shock. I had naively thought it was a straightforward process – get the ingredients and mix them together for us basically! I was shocked to hear that the success rate  of ‘taking home a baby’ as the doctor put it – getting pregnant, staying pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby –  was about 30-40%. My jaw actually dropped. I wouldn’t bet on those odds. The doctor looked at me as if I was a bit mad. Apparently those odds are excellent. She then told me that a normal couple without any issues have about an 18% chance a month of conceiving. It made me wonder how any of us are here at all.

From the start I didn’t care if people knew we needed to do IVF and neither did Gavin. Close family already knew so at that point we started telling our close friends. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t posting all about it on Facebook and ‘checking in’ to the clinic whenever we went, but we just didn’t hide it. The response was interesting, people started telling us about their own personal stories, their struggles getting pregnant, their failures and of course their success stories. Infertility affects so many people and a lot of us never know.

I was glad that we were open about it, I was able to tell people my side of things, how I deal with it and Gavin was able to do the same. People seemed happy to talk to us about it. It helps to talk. It helps me anyway. I noticed that most of the time it was me people were approaching or talking to about it. Ok, so I obviously have 99.9% of the physical work to do, but Gavin is affected by it all just as much.

The more I started to learn about the IVF process the more interested I became in it. It’s fascinating. We did all the pre-tests and scans and all that jazz, and we were going to start the process at the end of October. They decided on what plan to put me on, we bought the drugs, I had to go to the clinic and learn how to inject myself with the drugs. Starting off on one injection a day for a while, then moving on to two.

I was a bit nervous getting the first injection ready on the first night. I lined up the stuff, watched the video on you tube of how to make sure I measure correctly, pick a nice spot on my tummy (they say the fattier the area the better – not a problem!). Gavin being the sweetheart that he is was there with me and had brought me home a little present for the first night of injections. Aww.

So we were off. I felt like a walking pin cushion, but mainly I didn’t feel any big side effects. I had to go to the clinic every other day or so for a scan to check how things were going.  The first day seemed fine, the second day the nurse warned me that things weren’t going as good as they should be. Wait a couple more days and see if there’s any improvement. By the 3rd scan, it was confirmed that I wasn’t responding to the injections and so the cycle was cancelled.

They warned us at the very first meeting that this could happen, but I didn’t think it would. I was really upset, it hit me hard. I’m not sure why – it was better to have it cancelled at this stage rather than go through the whole process and then have a failed cycle, but I had let myself get my hopes up. They were so high that the crash just hurt more I think.

We had to wait for another couple of months then to give my body a chance to rest in between cycles. The waiting is the worst bit. Wait for an appointment, wait for your cycle to start, wait for scans, wait for everything. After a few days I got over it, and looked at the chance of a break from it all as a welcome thing. Normal life could resume again for a few weeks.

Of course, when we started our second attempt, I was a lot more wary. There was no question of my hopes going up this time. Constantly having them raised and dashed is a hard thing to get used to, but I felt sort of steeled against it this time.

This time I broke it down into stages in my mind. Stage one – start the drugs. Go for scans, hope for good news. What if the new dosage still didn’t work? This was the first hurdle. However, it did this time. It was going great, in fact it was going too great and I over responded. They said there could be a chance of not doing an embryo transfer until a few weeks later. Thanks to my new outlook, I didn’t care. I was just happy to have passed stage one.

Egg collection day came, hurdle 2. The next thing to hope for is that there are actually eggs in the follicles that the drugs stimulated. This was a great success – they collected 18 eggs! The downside was that I developed something called OHSS which meant that it would be dangerous for me if they did an embryo transfer, so they were going to freeze any embryos instead. Of course this was disappointing, but at that point I was just relieved they got the eggs at all – it was progress.

Hurdle 3 – hoping the eggs fertilise and develop as they should. The clinic ring you up every morning and update you with progress. It was good news all the way, in fact, it was a huge success. Out of our 18 eggs, 12 fertilised. We were told that we should expect roughly a 50% drop off at each stage. By the 5th day we had 7 top grade embryos eligible for freezing. 7!! An absolutely fantastic result and more than I had even hoped for. We were over the moon. I was already proud of them, clearly the smartest little embryos in the whole lab!

So because of the timing of that cycle and with Christmas approaching it was looking likely that any transfer would be in the New Year. At first I was full of impatience –  another wait. But then I was happy about it. 2013 was not our year, I was happy to put it behind us and start fresh.  We were happy to forget about it again for a while, it’s like a little holiday. We were free to enjoy Christmas, I was free to enjoy as many bottles of wine as I wanted! It was the right decision.

2014 is here and the rollercoaster is about to start again. We are due to start our FET soon enough… lets see where this road takes us.

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