I’m about to write another post about what I think of as the slightly boring (for you) minutiae of appointments and numbers and stuff, and I’m not really sure if this is for you or for me, or just for the sake of completeness because I’m a bit obsessive like that. If I were you, I’d be more interested in the emotional fuckwittery, but maybe you’re interested — anyway, consider yourself duly warned.
So, before the cycle started, I had my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels checked and they were down to 1.5, which is apparently good. Good enough to start an IVF cycle anyway, and that’s what counts. Then my consultant wanted me to have a scan on day 2 of my cycle — mostly to check that there was nothing on my ovaries or anything else untoward. And there wasn’t. Not only that, it all looked good — there were a decent number of follicles in each ovary, the blood flow to the ovaries was good — to be honest, given that I’m using frozen eggs, it’s all a bit irrelevant, but it’s good to know that stuff is functioning as it should.
The next appointment — a day 9 scan — had to be fitted in around a work trip abroad and a funeral — because amongst all this, life, and death, go on. My womb lining, aka the endometrium, measured 6mm, which was apparently good for that point in the cycle, and she decided to scan me again on day 12, but before if I ovulated.
Because since day 6 I’d been using ovulation sticks — basically sticks that you wee on to tell you if you’re ovulating. The clinic wanted me to use them morning and evening but, as I pointed out to my consultant, I’d been testing my cycle for the last three months and invariably ovulating on day 12, so she said, fine, just do once a day until day 9, then twice.
As expected, I got a positive-ish result on the evening of day 11, and a positive result on the morning of day 12, when I was going for my scan. Then the endometrium measured 8mm, which they seemed happy with, and blood tests confirmed that, as I suspected, I was ovulating.
This makes what you would have thought would be day 13 actually day 0. Yes, I was confused too, but it seems that once I had ovulated, we no longer cared about my cycle, we cared about the eggs and the sperm and the (here’s hoping) embryos. So day 0 is when they defrost the eggs (I’d discussed with the embryologist how many eggs to defrost and we agreed that we’d start by defrosting seven of the 14 I had frozen), and if they look OK, the sperm, and if they look OK, they pick a good sperm and inject it into an egg, and repeat with any remaining eggs and then they incubate them. In the meantime, I had to start “luteal support” — aka drugs that will hopefully improve the lining of the womb and make it more hospitable for the embryo they will hopefully put in — aka progesterone hormones in the form of a vaginal pessary. Twice a day. Nobody said this was going to be dignified.
So Day 0 dawned and I waited for the call that would tell me how many eggs had successfully been defrosted. It eventually came at around lunchtime. Six out of seven. As a hit rate, I can’t be anything but delighted with that. I know you shouldn’t put figures on these things, it totally sets you up for a fall, but if I’m being honest, I was hoping to get 5 out of 7. Then it was just about waiting (again) until the next day when they’d tell me how the fertilisation had gone. Ah, the romance of babymaking….
And so, the next day dawned, and when I was actually not thinking about it at all, they called me. I swear they speak in the slowest way possible — I mean obviously they don’t ACTUALLY, but it feels like the longest sentence in the world when they’re saying “So…yesterday….my…colleague….called…you….and….said…etc etc.” Upshot, four of the six eggs look like they’ve been fertilised correctly. Which means that 48 hours later, I have to turn up with a full bladder (apparently that makes it easier to put the embryo in), hope that at least one of them looks good enough to put in, and ummm, well, yes…
That gives me 48 hours to eat all the things preg women can’t eat… (I’m thinking best case scenario here rather than the fact that in two weeks I might be able to eat anything I want) – I think it’s very little coincidence that in the last week I’ve eaten steak tartare, lamb’s liver, sushi, stinky cheese etc etc…
“It’s a marathon not a sprint”, “It’s the war that counts not the battles” — these are the clichés that keep running through my head when there’s good news. But for all that I need to keep in mind that these are tiny steps along a long path, I also want to celebrate, or maybe just acknowledge, the little victories along the way. So I have to keep reminding myself, no matter what happens next, six surviving eggs from seven defrosted is a good thing, four correctly fertilised eggs from six is a good thing. It only takes one… But one day at a time…