We arrived home after our disappointment with the IVF to the inevitable questions ‘did it work’, ‘how did it go?’, ‘are you pregnant’?
Of course telling people that we didn’t even have a shot at getting pregnant because of a cracked syringe wasn’t the news we wanted to impart and it was difficult to have to share such frustrating news. Given my teaching commitments, the next time we could realistically plan to go to Denmark was likely to be in six months time which was also hard to cope with, given we weren’t sure if it was worth having a go at home in the meantime with all the faffing that is involved.
I still had a few more weeks before I had to be back at work, and resolved to enjoy the summer a bit, since there was some good weather for a change, and the week in Denmark had been a nice break away from life. Little did I know but the meds I had taken for my cycle were again to speed up the process, and I got my period after a 19 day cycle – a full 11 days less than my normal cycle, and 30 days less than my longest cycle!
I had a look at my calendar and got a jolt of hope when I realised I didn’t have to be at work for over a further month, and that there was nothing stopping me from having another attempt this cycle. I needed to start taking my meds straight away and book a last minute trip to Denmark, barely two weeks after I’d left, but it was possible! The other advantage this time is that no one expected us to go away so soon and I could keep this try a secret, the only downside when I looked at the calendar was that A didn’t have holiday, and would only be able to spend a few days with me, at the most.
We decided it was worth the hassle and possibility of Abs missing the insemination, and I immediately went about organising getting the medication, and booking the trip over to Denmark. Looking at dates, Abby could come over with me for the weekend and hopefully the egg retrieval, but had to go back home for Monday at work so would miss the implantation.
The next couple of weeks flew by as I took the meds to grow the follies, organised for the dogs to be minded and prayed this trip was more successful than the last. Thankfully we had sold a property we had which paid for all the travel, and IVF, otherwise we wouldn’t have the money to try again so soon.
The scan I had at day 8 of my cycle showed the eggs were growing well, but there were fewer than last time, and they weren’t as big. That didn’t matter in itself, but I inevitably worried they wouldn’t get enough to retrieve a sufficient number.
Day 13 rolled around, the day before we were due to leave for Denmark. The doctor at home counts each follicle and its size, and the clinic in Denmark then tells me the plan of action. Slightly unfortunately they didn’t think the follicles were quite big enough for retrieval yet, and wanted me to wait a few more days. We decided to still go to Denmark as I would be there when it was the right time, and be able to take the final injection in a more comfortable environment. It meant Abs might miss the whole process, but decided it was more important for her to be there for the rest of our potential baby’s life than the start of it.
We had a day or so to explore the city again, after having had a week wandering around a couple of weeks previously. Copenhagen in summer is wonderful. The weather was warm, the days long and sunny and the people friendly. We also brought Eric the bear over. He’s going to be the baby’s first toy and we wanted to take some pics of him where hopefully the baby begins his/her life and we can include in a photo album later.
Going back to the clinic barely two weeks after first going was a little strange, but at least we knew what to expect. We had a different doctor than the last time and I had another ultrasound to check out the growth of my follies.The news was promising in that there were at least 11 follicles (I had 16 last time) but they were now almost ready, and I could go in two days later for them to be extracted. We left the clinic more optimistic than last time, hoping this time it would mean a proper attempt at IVF.
The downside to having to travel to a different country for the procedure is that Abs had to leave the next day to go home while I stayed on an extra week or so, in a city where I didn’t know anyone, having far too much time to obsess over whether this effort would work. I was prepared with work to do but wasn’t sure realistically how much I would feel like doing. I caught the bus to the airport to say goodbye to my wife, going back to the hotel for a lonely day ahead, apprehensive about what was to come but also hopeful.
Two days later found me back in the chair, dignity on the floor with my clothes. One of the nurses came in and started chatting away to me which was slightly awkward since there was only one end she could see, and it wasn’t my face!
“Sorry we had to meet like this” she says, and I cringe, having to remind myself they are used to doing this day in, day out, and that her seeing that angle
This time I had a female doctor, as professional as all the others I’d had. I told them I wanted to try a 5 day transfer if possible as this means you get only the best embryos, kind of a ‘survival of the fittest’, and that I wanted two embies implanted to maximise my chances of success. Abs and I have discussed twins and even though we know it would be hard, that’s a price we’re willing to pay to get the family we want.
I once again have the local anaesthetic to try to numb some of the pain, before the doctor inserts a needle inside to locate the follicles. I am so nervous after what happened last time. Did the injection work? are the follicles big enough? Will the eggs fertilise? I hold my breath, trying to block out the pain of the procedure as one by one I see the follicles sucked out and put on a petri dish. It feels like someone is scraping my womb out and I don’t remember it being this painful last time, although knowing I only have to wait ten or so minutes makes it easier. In the end 13 follicles are retrieved, although the doctor immediately tells me two of them at least are probably too small and won’t fertilise. She cleans me up and I’m surprised at the amount of blood there is, not remembering nearly as much last time, and hoping that meant everything worked OK. I wait apprehensively while the doctor goes to check if the eggs are present, the vital bit that was missing last time.
‘Is everything OK?” I eventually ask, my eyes fixed on the doctor who is concentrating. She straightens and looks at me.
“Yes.” I release my breath, excited that now hopefully at least some of the eggs will fertilise, and we’ll finally get our first proper chance at IVF!
I go to lie down for half an hour or so before leaving to go back to the hotel, surprised at the amount of cramping I had, having none of it last time. I wanted to ring Abs earlier but unfortunately had dropped my phone in a pond the day before and it was now hardly working – what timing!!!!! I sent her an email telling her the good news and she nipped home at lunch for a skype so we could have a chat. 13 follicles and yes, there were eggs present! I have to ring the clinic in two days so they can determine how many eggs have fertilised, and whether I’m a candidate for the 5 day transfer and happier than I’ve been for weeks I catch the bus back to the hotel, lying down for the rest of the day as I dream about our ‘maybe baby’, praying with everything I am that this time it works.