'Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit.'
From my last post up until 8:45am on Wednesday 9 April 2014 everything had been going tickety-boo. I've actually got three blog drafts saved that I'll never publish - they're going to remain drafts. In these drafts I've babbled on about The Lister hospital experience and compared it to a stay in a 5* hotel, with room service, great food, Molton Brown goodies and Sky TV. The only difference is you do actually have to go down to theatre and have a general anaesthetic and the nurses check in on you every 30 minutes afterwards. Below is a photo of me a few hours after egg collection, my blood pressure was very low at that point but I was overcome with joy when the food arrived - I was very hungry and I inhaled the lot. It was delicious!
Egg collection via general is FAR more civilised and I thoroughly recommend it. They managed to get 13 eggs, 10 were mature, six fertilised. Yep - we had six mini-mes and apparently fertilisation was easy - to quote the embryologist I spoke to three days post egg collection: 'Very easy fertilisation, in fact so easy I'm surprised you went for IMSI, from what I could see you would have been fine with straightforward IVF - the sample was grade 1 sperm. Your eggs were also top quality.'
All six of our mini-mes were going strong on day three so we enthusiastically agreed to go for a day five / blastocyst transfer. We got a call on Tuesday from one of the embryologists telling us that four of our mini-mes hadn't reached blastocyst stage - they were what they called morulas - the other two were a wee bit behind but we should give it another day and give them a chance to develop a wee bit more. Again this was fine, day six transfers are perfectly normal. So when I got a No Caller ID phone call at 8:45am on Wednesday morning I answered the phone with dread - I knew instantly that it wasn't going to be good news. Four had arrested in development and two were developing slowly but were showing signs of becoming blastocysts, they were at the cavitating morula stage of development. We were advised that we may have to cancel the cycle.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
HOW CAN THIS BE?
OUR EGGS AND SWIMMERS ARE GOOD? TOP QUALITY YOU SAID.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
The room started spinning and I felt sick. I immediately got on the phone to my Bessie who is travelling in Europe (what would we do without Apple and FaceTime/Viber/WhatsApp? We are in the age of the smart phone and I would be 100% lost without mine).
My Bessie calmed me down, so I could calm my wonderful Hubster down. We were going to go to the clinic, talk to Dr Wren, and I was positive that we were going to transfer. Just because our mini-mes were a bit slow doesn't mean they won't stick. But the journey there was the longest its ever been and it was the most quiet we've ever been. We were supposed to be excited but we were scared.
I was hoping to see my consultant James Nicopoullos but he was on holiday so we saw Dr Wren instead. She was in the main nice but my god she was also VERY blunt. To cut a long story short she said: 'you didn't get pregnant with a 5AA blastocyst so you're not going to get pregnant with these.'
BOOOOOOM - kick me us both in the teeth when we're down why don't you? Up until that morning as far as we were concerned we were on track for a single embryo transfer and hoping to be able to freeze two or three embies for later, but now you tell us four have died and we will need a miracle for the others to progress. A little sensitivity wouldn't go a miss eh? I appreciate that you are a scientist and see everything in black and white but look after your patient's emotions, you work in the field of infertility - by the time ladies have come to you they have been through years of trying for a baby - they're desperate - you're their last hope - your patients have invested EVERYTHING into this process so be mindful of their hearts. You should know better than to say something like that, especially someone in your position. Our mini-mes weren't dead, they were slow, so whilst they are still growing (albeit slowly), there is still hope (even if it is only a glimmer and a miracle is needed).
We took five minutes, we went outside, I called my Bessie on Viber. I didn't know what to do. I felt like I was drowning. On the one hand I have this doctor who I had never met before telling me in no uncertain terms that there is no point in transferring our last two mini-mes (but she'd do it if I wanted her to, the choice was mine), on the other hand I wanted my mini-mes in my womb. I wanted them with me, they'd be better with me than in a petri dish, they belong with me.
To be told that the only way forward was to abandon your cycle is a million times worse than getting to test day and having a negative. Trust me - I know. I've had a cycle not even let me get to test day and end in a very heavy, painful bleed. I've gotten to test day and got a negative and now I've been told that my cycle is being abandoned and there's not much hope in your remaining embryos progressing - in fact there's no point in transferring. Out of the three scenarios the third is the worst - take my word for it, it sucks.
I felt winded.
My legs felt weak.
I was confused.
I cried and cried and cried. My Bessie cried. My Hubster cried. We all cried.
But you know what? My mini-mes were still going. They might be slow but they are still growing so what did we have to lose? So we transferred them and they are now with me where they belong. Here they are - the one on the left is a bit more developed than the one on the right. They are called cavitating morulas - the stage right before blastocyst.
I've read of day five and day six cavitating morulas resulting in pregnancy. Apparently they usually result in girls? I'm not getting ahead of myself and believing that next week I'll have a positive pregnancy test and I'll be carrying a baby girl - I'm not that silly. I know I need to be positive but not at the expense of dealing with the here and now and the range of emotions that comes with that. I'm being realistic. The opportunity to be cautiously optimistic was taken away from me the moment I was told there's not much point in transferring as I won't get pregnant. They took away my hope. Ladies on the Fertility Friends forum have helped give me a bit of hope, whilst you have an embryo there is always hope (but let's keep that hope in check shall we and not run away with ourselves).
Today my boobs are like rockets, they are swollen and they hurt, so much so I had to wear a sports top to bed with an in-built bra to try and stop them hurting as much. Today I have mild cramping. The hopeful part of my brain tells me that this is a good sign - my embryos would be eight days old (if they are still going), as they were a little slow off the mark the mild cramping could be implantation cramps. But I doubt it. It's the cyclogest pessaries Johanna - YOU KNOW THIS - it's the progesterone, nothing else so stop imagining you're pregnant.
We have a lot of questions.
Why in our cycle at Kings were we able to get five blastocysts but not at The Lister? Why when we were focusing on quality and not quantity were we unable to get the quality we got in our previous cycle? You told us we didn't need IMSI so why did our embryos not develop? What about sperm DNA fragmentation? Did the awful family bust-up a few weeks ago affect the quality of my eggs? Was the stress partly to blame? What went wrong in the lab? How could this happen?
Questions. Questions. Questions.
We need a miracle. Please let our mini-mes fight and stick and prove everyone wrong.
I started this post with a quote and I'm ending with a different quote. Repressing your emotions is bad for you, and imposing positivity when you are sad is bad. Don't get me wrong - I am a positive kinda girl, but even people who are naturally positive and reject negativity have their sad days. Being sad and being negative are very different things. I'm finding the strength to acknowledge how the past few days have made me feel and I'm dealing with the tough emotions - I'm allowing myself to feel happy believe it or not. In my acknowledgment of my sorrow I can truly be happy as happiness and sorrow are two sides of the same coin. To be truly happy you must be at one with all of your emotions and you must have the strength to live in the here and now. I may be feeling sad, but I'm ok with that - as it's our emotions that makes us human.
'Joy and sorrow are inseparable…together they come and when one sits alone with you…remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.'