Let me warn you, this is a long blog! But if you are interested, seat down with a cup of tea while I explain the procedures as well as my experience going through Egg Collection, Embryo Transfer and the dreadful 2 weeks wait.
Its an emotional journey for sure full of ups and downs, but also a fascinating one from a scientific point of view (at least the geek in me thinks so)!
Egg Collection (EC) - Friday 10th February
The EC Procedure
Egg collection involves a small surgical procedure where you have to be sedated and therefore must be done fasted. I was sedated enough to sleep through the whole procedure, but I have read other blogs where they were lightly sedated but still awake during procedure. I am glad I wasn’t!
The Embryologist collects the eggs with an instrument similar to the dildo cam (the scan tool - Please don't google it!!!), but this time with a long needle attached to it. It goes into the vaginal canal and through the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries, one at the time and gently retrieve all eggs available. The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes but gladly, I don’t remember a thing!
Eggs are fertilizes soon after the collection so James had to give his sperm sample around the same time as EC. Embryos are then transferred at 3 or 5 days old.
The EC Experience
I was so excited about EC, I’ve been looking forward to it all week!
The nigh before hubby cooked homemade pasta with ragu sauce in anticipation of my 7 hours fast. He never said it, but I could feel he was also very excited about EC day.
The procedure was booked for 9.30am on the 10th of February and I was asked to be at the hospital for 8am. I decided not to cancel my first client before going to hospital. Yes, it did involve waking up super early at 4.45am, but I figured it wouldn’t be long before I was asleep again, ha! It also helps me keep my mind occupied.
I don’t remember much of the procedure as I was sedated. I only remember going in and coming around on the way back to my cubicle where James was waiting for me. It took around 15-20min max.
The first thing I remember was asking the nurse: ‘how many eggs?”! Patience is a virtue, eh?! I was barely awake, but wake enough to express my inability to be patient. Off course the nurse couldn’t tell me, I had to wait for the doctor.
A few minutes later when I was fully awake, the nurse brought some water, biscuits and a cup of coffee for me and James. My experience with St. Thomas and Guys Hospital has been nothing but positive. All the staff were super helpful and friendly!
The doctor finally came around after about what felt like an eternity, to tell us that they had collected 17 eggs! WOW thats excellent news, I thought! But we had to wait till the next day to know how many of these were mature and how many of those mature eggs had fertilized… another LONG wait!!
Before being discharged I was given instructions to start with my progesterone pessaries (Oh joy!) and to be aware of bleeding. It’s normal to experience ‘spotting’ after EC, but not full on bleeding. If you experience heavy bleeding, contact your doctor!
I got home, Hubby made pizza and I slept pretty much all day… I guess it’s the effects of the sedative. I didn’t feel much pain, just tenderness around the uterus area and light spotting.
The Day After EC
I woke up pretty early, anxiety I think! But feeling pretty well, still no pain, just bloating, so I went to work as planned. I also went to a 2 hrs tango class and only at the end of it, after being on my feet for the whole day, that I could feel a little pain in my uterus/ovaries area. But nothing that some good rest and a good night of sleep wouldn't solve!
I got a call in the middle of the day and the results were in:
17 Eggs Retrieved
14 Eggs Mature
Implantation day was to be on day 5, Wednesday the 15th of February!
OMG I can’t express how happy I was with the news! I know that not every fertilized egg will develop into a good quality embryo, but with that many fertilized eggs, the chances are pretty high!
I was so happy that even the progesterone pessaries didn't bother me that much, neither did the bloating which I am getting pretty accustomed to by now.
*(Warning TMI coming up) Just a heads up if you need to take Progesterone Pessaries…Its just like a little tampon (so at least it goes in the right whole) but it is very, very messy! Panty liners are a must!
Embryo Transfer (ET) - 15th February
The day was finally here! We were going to take our embaby home. It was the day after Valentines day so we decided to make this our Valentines. Pretty special, I thought!
I was so excited that I didn’t give much thought to the actual procedure. Again I went to work before going to the hospital, but decided to take the day off just to celebrate with Hubby and also avoid any necessary stress for my body.
Just before ET, the embryologist told us that we had a very high quality Embryo (grade 6AB) and because I am relatively young and they want to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy, they would only transfer the 1 embryo. I’m ok with that, I don’t think I’m prepared for 2 babies just yet!
She also said that there was 1 more embryo which was ready to be frozen and the rest they would give another day to see if they would develop into good enough quality embryos to freeze. I wont lie, I was slightly disappointed. From all those fertilized eggs, only 2 were good enough by day 5…. what if it doesn’t work first or second time? Will I have to go through the whole cycle again?! I tried to shake off those negative thoughts and focus on what was happening now! We do have a VERY good quality embryo to take home and that’s excellent news, I should be happy!
The procedure itself is not that nice or comfortable. It is very much like a smear test that last twice as long. You also need to have a full bladder for these one which makes it even more uncomfortable. To see what’s going on, they press he scan knob down onto your full bladder.
The whole procedure takes about 5-10min. I was fully awake for this one and could see where our little embryo was, although if you ask me i’d rather have been asleep! All I could think about was ‘Ouch’ and ‘I really need to pee’!
All the discomfort was gone as soon as the procedure was done and my bladder was emptied. The nurse gave us 2 home pregnancy tests with some instructions of what to do when to test and I was discharged to go home. The nurse did say my ovaries were still looking very busy so I was to drink 3L of water a day to flush out the ‘trigger injection’ hormones and avoid OHSS (ovary hyper stimulation syndrome). If that occurs, the IVF cycle must be stopped so I made sure I was drinking 3+ litters a day.
The weather was quite good that morning and I was feeling absolutely fine after ET so Hubby and I went for a lovely long walk in Greenwich Park.
The day after ET we got a call to let us know that a total of 5 embryos had been frozen! I felt a little better about it. But I was hoping for a higher percentage of viable embryos. 6 out of 11 doesn't make me jump up and down, but the reality is that we are very blessed to have 1 very good quality fresh embryo and a further 5 good quality frozen embryos to use if needed. If we don’t need it this time around, the clinic will keep the frozen embryos for up to 5 years so we can use them for a second child later.
The 2 Weeks Wait (2WW)
Right, I knew the 2WW would be hard! I’m too impatient! I don’t even know if I am pregnant yet and I already want to know what the sex of the baby is!
The doctors just told me to live life as normal, just to avoid strenuous exercise….errr doctor, you do know what I do for a job, right? Is liftings heavy things all day long considered strenuous?
Well, I figured that what is ‘normal’ depends on each individual. That is my normal, so I just went back to my clients the day after ET and also back to my workouts. I know some people take off 1-2 weeks after ET. But I just think it would send me crazy! All I can think about (and dream about) is the pregnancy test… work is a welcome distraction and my workouts just make me feel and sleep better. I also read somewhere (no idea if its true so please don’t quote me on it) that being active, moving around, walking, going to work, exercising, increases overall blood flow, but also to the uterine area which can help with implantation and embryo development. But again, depends what your normal is, off course.
I think one of the worse things about the 2WW is that there is nothing you can do but wait! At least with the injections you feel like you are doing something. There was also lots of docs appointment during that phase so it felt like lots was happening… now its just waiting and obsessing over every little thing that I feel. Cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, tiredness, feeling more out of breath than usual, feeling hot and cold… At times I didn’t know if the symptoms I feel are real or just in my head!
Google has been my best friend and my worse enemy this week. Everything is a sign of pregnancy, but also seems to match the side effects of Cyclogest (progesterone pessaries) and also the symptoms of PMT. Easy to go crazy!
One thing is for sure, stress is the one thing to avoid so I keep myself busy and try not to worry about it! What will be will be and if its not this time, we will try again!
P.S: D-day is tomorrow so watch this space!