Waiting to Fall Pregnant

The last seven days have felt much longer than a week. I can’t believe that it was only last Sunday that I was awaiting egg collection, full of fears and anticipation. I knew it would be a tough week, that there were a lot of hurdles to overcome and potential pitfalls hiding in each new day. I knew there would be waiting that I needed to try to handle patiently. I just didn’t realise it would be quite such a roller coaster, with so much not knowing until the very last minute.

Of our dozen eggs, nine were suitable for ICSI. Of these six fertilised, but one did so abnormally, which left us with five embryos.

So that was Tuesday morning. So far, so good.

Then I got the news that taking Thursday off work was going to be a bit of a no-go, because we had a surprise inspection to contend with. And that kicked off my first proper melt down.

During IVF embryos are transferred back to the womb on either day 2, day 3 or day 5. By day 5 they have typically developed in to what is known as a blastocyst. The advantage of waiting until this stage to transfer them back is that it “weeds out” any embryos that simply aren’t going to make it that far and makes it easier for the embryologists to select the very best embryo. The flip side of that, of course, is the query of whether embryos that arrest in the lab on day 4 might have made it in the womb. In general clinics advise a 3 day transfer if you either have a very obvious front runner from your embryos, or if you don’t have a lot of embryos to choose from. If you have a greater number, the drop off between days 3 and 5 is less likely to leave you with nothing to transfer, so the question of whether they would have made it becomes less relevant.

My embryologist was frank with me. With only five, we were more than likely heading for a three day transfer. She was willing to bet on it happening. On Thursday.

My original work plan had been to call in sick on the morning of transfer. But suddenly that was not an option. Ideally I needed to be there. But if I couldn’t be there then I needed to commit to that on Tuesday to allow arrangements to be made. But committing to anything with IVF is really, really hard.

Several tearful phone calls to the clinic later, we had a plan. They agreed to schedule the embryo transfer at a different time to normal, so that I could work half the day, encompassing the inspection. So I cancelled the afternoon at work, calmed myself back down and set about preparing my paperwork for the inspection.
 
I woke up on Thursday morning mentally ready for my three day transfer. And physically I got myself prepped… lucky knickers, bikini line checked, that kind of thing.

The phone call from the embryologist came as a bit of a surprise. Four of our embryos were “top grade” with nothing to choose between them. The fifth was also good, although it had behaved a little oddly so they were keeping an eye on it. Bottom line: they advised going to blastocyst. On Saturday.

Should have been a relief right? Well yes, obviously I was ecstatic that our little embies were doing so well. And it meant no dashing from work to the clinic in fifteen minutes flat. The only problem was that I was also supposed to be working on Saturday. Wouldn’t you know it? I work one in six. One in SIX and it had to be my Saturday. Obviously I always knew it was a possibility that it could fall on that day, but the call in sick plan had extended to the Saturday. But now, I’d cancelled out a whole afternoon on Thursday, including moving people from that day to… you guessed it… Saturday.

Thursday morning was my major pinch point. I was dealing with the normal stresses of work, plus an inspection, plus trying to liaise with the clinic about what I wanted to do.

And to be honest, what I wanted to do was just get an embryo back inside me. I’d been geared up for it, as well as organised for it and the change of plans somehow hit me hard. Suddenly I was facing the fear of none of my embryos making it to day 5 and being left with nothing to transfer. And I couldn’t for the life of me see how I was going to get through it and still keep my job. It’s easy now to say I was being a little irrational (it is highly unlikely I’d have lost my job!) but between the hormones and the emotions and everything riding on this, I was probably entitled to a bit of a crash.

So Thursday saw several more tearful phone calls to the clinic trying to work out what to do. They were dead set against transferring an embryo “just because”. Initially we discussed an early transfer on Saturday morning which would enable me to head straight to work afterwards, but somehow I couldn’t see myself being able to cope with it. So finally they agreed to do an afternoon transfer, which is not usual for a Saturday. I’m very grateful for all their help and flexibility in sorting it out (although a tiny bit of me also thinks this is what we are paying SO MUCH money for!).

Saturday morning dawned. I got myself geared up again for transfer, but this time with a small amount of trepidation that we’d be getting the bad news that there was nothing left to transfer. 

The phone rang as I was putting on mascara (for work, you ideally need to be make up free for transfer) and I jumped about a foot in the air, smearing mascara across my forehead. Good look.

The news wasn’t bad. All the embryos were still hanging in there. But… none of them were blastocysts yet. So no transfer today. We needed to give them another day.

If only I’d known at the beginning that we would end up with a transfer on Sunday, I’d probably have been a lot less stressed. But this is how it plays out during IVF: you never really know quite what is going to happen. You can plan, but you’d better be prepared to change those plans and then change them again.

I answered the phone to the familiar voice of the embryologist this morning. She asked how I was. “Nervous” I replied.

“It’s OK, I’ve got good news” she said immediately. I felt my neck and shoulders relax as I let out the breath I was holding. “You’ve got one top quality blastocyst, so we’re definitely on for transfer.”

Finally. Finally. Six days after egg collection, my embryo was going back where it belonged and I’d be the closest thing to pregnant I’ve been in a long time.

Where I am concerned, however, there is always a “but”. The less good news was that none of the remaining four had made it to blastocyst. Six days to get to blast is slow, but normal. Longer than that is starting to get unusual. Although I’ve come across some studies that say 7 day blasts can still lead to a good outcome, the stats are no where near as good as for 5 and 6 days blasts. And our clinic policy is not to take them beyond 6 days. Which also means they couldn’t be frozen.

One top quality blastocyst is fantastic. No frosties is a bit of a downer.

But then the embryologist threw out a curve ball. Ordinarily in a woman of my age they would only transfer a single blastocyst, to minimise the chances and risks of a multiple pregnancy. But because the other embryos weren’t actually blastocysts and didn’t have a great prognosis, we had the option to have a second one transferred. And we had about an hour between the phone call and the transfer to make the decision. 

I feel that I need to make it clear that I am not one of these women who dreams of twins. I think parents of multiples are amazing and of course, if we had twins, we would cope and it would be wonderful. But it’s never been something that I’ve wanted to actively seek from our IVF cycle. I wasn’t expecting to have the option of a second embryo, as all along it has been made clear that at my age an elective single embryo transfer is advised. But suddenly we were faced with the option to transfer an extra embryo or let it perish. Knowing that we’ll have no frozen embryos as plan B if I don’t end up pregnant makes us want to do absolutely everything we can to maximise the chances of success. The chances of twins remains small, but it does give us a small increase in the chances of pregnancy too. And the bottom line is that I don’t want to look back from behind a negative pregnancy test and wonder “what if…?”

So we elected to transfer the two.

The transfer itself was straightforward. The procedure was equivalent to a smear test, and certainly less uncomfortable than having a coil inserted. Ian sat to my right and we held hands as a consultant whom I met for the first time this morning squirted our six-day-old embryos in to my uterus.

So that is that. The end of the cycle as far as actual treatment goes. There is nothing left to do but wait, some more, to do a pregnancy test in a couple of weeks. 

I’m not quite pregnant yet, but I very soon could be. Go little embryos, go!

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10 Replies to “Waiting to Fall Pregnant”

  1. The scheduling for the transfer sounds so incredibly stressful. Having to arrange time of work for any reason is stressful at the best of times, but with the added emotional stress of everything you’ve invested to get to this stage? No wonder you were at breaking point. Hope your two week wait goes quickly, and so, so hoping that it’s good news.

    1. Thank you Chloe. To be honest the scheduling and childcare has probably been the single most stressful part of the whole journey so far, especially given the nature of what I do! Need to keep occupied now!

    1. Thank you so much. I’ve been reading through your blog as there really isn’t much about doing IVF with diabetes out there! So glad things are going well for you. You’ll find lots of type 1 pregnancy stuff in the archives 🙂

  2. I remember this rollercoaster so well. I was very lucky because I’d been open with work right from the start and they were amazingly flexible. I was able to go with whatever schedule my embryos decided to work to.
    I’m keeping everything crossed for you hun xxx

    1. Thanks hun. The problem with my work is more the number of people I’m inconveniencing by cancelling their appointments, and the fact that I’m so busy and so booked up at the moment that I have no where else to rebook them, which just ends up creating even more pressure and stress for me and my team! All worked out in the end. Just waiting now 🙂

  3. Keeping everything crossed for you, and thinking of you every day. Not long to go now until TD although I’m sure it seems like an eternity. xx

    1. Thanks Amy. If all the positive wishes from so many people could determine the outcome, I’m sure it would definitely work! I’m kind of counting down the days, but scared to find out at the same time! X

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