It’s March – how did that happen? I just had my 31st birthday, and celebrated by running a half marathon. It went really well – I smashed my goal time of under 2:20 with 2:08.31, and a friend started a blog about our running goal of one race per month. Which reminded me about this blog…
A lot has happened in the 9 months since my last post, when we were navigating through the NHS Fertility referral system. In June/July we had our NHS fertility referral appointment and did our Day 2 and 20 bloods. We then had to wait to hear that we would be accepted for treatment… we waited, and waited… The Olympics and Paralympics came and went. We started a semi-DIY kitchen renovation in October. We were super busy, and didn’t know what was happening with the referral. But come November, we were ready to start. I started looking up private clinics in the area, and found one nearby that seemed small and friendly. We had an initial consultation to discuss our options, and we both felt really comfortable there and got a good vibe from the clinic. After that we decided to start our treatment with them.
We planned to travel to the states for 3 weeks over Christmas, so decided to start straight away when we returned. Although there was about a half a day in November when the clinic had nearly convinced us to get Lou pregnant a couple of days before she boarded the plane. As tempting as it was to get the show on the road, with her severe flying anxiety we decided to be patient and wait until January.
I won’t go into detail about the fertility treatment for two reasons. First, because even though it was only 2 months ago, I can’t really remember all the details & timeline of what happened! Hence I am keen to keep this blog, because I really want to remember the details about this period of our lives. Secondly, (and more importantly) because many of our friends know that we had been toying around with the idea of whose eggs to use. We always knew that Lou would be pregnant, and we want to do it the same way for all our children. The sad fact is that only one of us would be genetically related to our children. We are not in denial of this fact, but we also want to live our lives feeling that we are both equally related to them. We feel that other people knowing who is the genetic parent would make this more of an issue than we want. Whether consciously or subconsciously, 90% of people who know will make that link and be more likely to say insensitive things like “They look like/acts like/take after you, Genetic Parent!” than to the non-genetic parent. If people don’t know, then they can make these comments to both of us, and we will both happily accept them! Once we decided whose eggs we would use, we went to great lengths to ensure the anonymous sperm donor we chose physically resembled the other, especially at childhood. We were lucky to find a very close match. So this is what we thought was the best decision for us, and for our children when they are old enough to understand. We are also realistic enough to know that it may come out in the wash, but that is how we plan to handle it for now.
So – you see – if I go into much detail about the medications, injections, side effects, scans, procedures, and other funny/scary anecdotes, it will become clear whose eggs we used. So suffice it to say, throughout the month of January, there were plenty of the above. The down regulation and stimulation went along without any major scares (i.e. we saw enough follicles and everything progressed on time with standard levels of meds). We got 10 eggs in the end, 7 were mature, and on these the clinic did ICSI (used a needle to insert 1 sperm into 1 egg). By February 4th, 3 days post-retrieval, we had 5 embryos and 2 clear front runners (top grade, 8 cells). The clinic decided to bring us in for egg transfer, as it wasn’t worth the risk of waiting to 5 days and losing the two. The best place for an embryo is a comfy uterus! So we transferred both embryos, after a brief discussion of the risks and benefits. It’s worth mentioning that the egg transfer was a very painful procedure for Lou, not like a smear test as some say. She cried throughout, but stayed strong resisting every urge to scream at the doctor to stop. I would recommend paracetamol beforehand to anyone else.
After egg transfer, we took the day off to rest and after that went about our lives like normal! Lou was on progesterone pessaries and oestrogen tablets, so was getting all sorts of bloating and twinges, but it is impossible to tell whether it was the embryo implanting or side effects from the hormones! Our clinic scheduled a pregnancy blood test for 15th February, exactly 2 weeks after conception. We decided to do a home pregnancy test that morning. If it was bad news, we wanted to deal with it privately. Well, it was a sleepless night but Lou got up about 7:30am, went to the toilet and brought the test back to bed. In the dim light, we stared and stared at the little window. The control line came up straight away. Three minutes felt like three hours. Lou stopped looking because she was too anxious. Finally, I saw a shadow of a line. And over the next few minutes, it got darker. It was still a lot lighter than the control, but a line was a line! We were so excited, but tried to stay cautiously optimistic, pending the blood test results. We got to the clinic, and Lou had her blood taken and then they put us in the waiting room for 30 minutes. Pure torture. It felt like forever but they finally called us back. Before she could even close the door our nurse blurted out “YOU’RE PREGNANT!”. It was one of the best moments of my life. Lou and I just hugged and laughed hysterically. We felt so lucky it worked the first time. A couple of the clinic staff we had got to know came by and gave us hugs and seemed genuinely over the moon for us, even though they must see this every day!
That day we were already 4 weeks pregnant – they count from the first day of your last period, who knew? Two bonus weeks!!! Our first scan is booked for 14th March at 7 weeks 6 days, when we will find out if we are still progressing, and how many we have! Lou keeps taking the progesterone & oestrogen until 12 weeks, much to her delight. She has become a pro at putting in the pessaries, 2 in the morning, 2 in the evening. And 3 oestrogen tablets in the day. And an aspirin at night. And her prenatal vitamin. She has never taken so many meds in her life, and she hates medicating herself in any way. OK, this is getting long so I’ll stop here & continue with stories post-positive pregnancy test later….