Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Egg transfer

Well after a very stressful couple of days we made it back to Dundee for transfer day. We had had the call from the embryologist on day 3 and it wasn’t the news we had been hoping for. Of the seven that fertilised, four had not developed any further than 2-3 cells so were discarded and it was gutting. Of the other three, only one was graded as good with the other two being okay but not as good as they would like on day 3. It was like being kicked in the stomach, telling my husband was devastating. Would we even have one left on transfer day? Dundee culture all embryos to day 5 in the hope that they get to blastocyst stage which is the top quality embryo. This is good as hopefully you will get a great looking embryo at the end but it also means you run a very high chance of losing a lot of embryos that don’t manage to make it to day 5 and that’s what happened to us.

IMG_8531.JPGImage Credit

The day before transfer and waiting to meet with the embryologist was one of the most nerve wracking times I’ve had. I kept repeating to myself we would have one to transfer and one was enough, it was all in my power to get rid of the bad thoughts that maybe we had none….it wasn’t helped by the embryologist being slightly delayed to do our consultation. Every negative thought I had was creeping back in then.

Finally after what felt like weeks to us but was in fact only 20mins we went to meet with the embryologist to discuss how the embryos were looking and to find it if we had any to transfer. To hear the words as the door closed ‘it’s okay, it’s good news’ was more than a relief. I could have cried there and then with the relief. We only had one worth discussing for transfer but it was looking good. Embryos are graded and we had one good looking grade 4ab little blastocyst! The others really weren’t good enough to transfer back and he really didn’t think they would increase our chances of getting pregnant so it was recommended that we just put our one blasto back, which we agreed.

Thankfully I didn’t need to wait to long to go into the transfer room as the full bladder needed was starting to get a little uncomfortable. My husband did a good job of taking my mind of it, even if it meant giggling at him in his scrubs and hat for transfer. Everyone in the transfer room were lovely and put me at ease. I hadn’t read to much about transfer point so wasn’t sure what to expect. It was more uncomfortable than I thought it would be and must have been pulling some faces as my husband was telling me to squeeze is arm as much as I needed to. Oops.

Thankfully transfer doesn’t take to long and we got to watch it all on the ultrasound. Not that there is much to see, the embryo is that tiny that the only visible part is when it is released from the catheter and a small white speck appears on the screen then quickly disappears. If you weren’t watching and didn’t believe the consultant when he pointed it out you could be forgiven in thinking everyone had lost the plot.

However as it’s the first ultrasound of what will hopefully be our first baby I’m going to share with you our tiny little speck.

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It was an emotional time, I think it was everything coming together, knowing that you have this fertilised little egg back on board, that we managed to get here, that we were in with a chance, it was all overwhelming and when we got back to the room we both hugged each other so tightly and both cried. It’s such a surreal feeling, we did joke that this is the most pregnant I have ever been and I’m now PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) * infertility speak* Now we wait……

Snuggle in tight blasto baby.

C xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Egg Collection

My second progress scan showed a good improvement in my follies from the scan 3 days before. I still only had the two on my left ovary but they were now up to 16mm each and my right had 1 x 20mm, 3 x 18mm, 1 x 17mm, 1 x 16mm, 1 x 14, 1 x 13mm & 2 x 10mm which was a great improvement on the Friday.

I had to wait on a call back from the clinic after my results were reviewed and that came around lunchtime. We were good to go for collection and it was booked in for Wednesday morning.

IMG_8631.JPG I was instructed to take my trigger shot at 11pm which was 35.5 hours before the planned collection and told to fast from the midnight before. All of my other Injections were to stop which meant that I got an Injection free day the day before collection.

We had to be on the ward at 8.15am so it was a very early start to do the 1 1/4 hour journey up there. No food from midnight the night before and I was only allowed up to 250ml of clear fluid before 7am.

We got to the ward at 8.10am and were quickly shown to our bed space. It was a hive of activity then, getting booked in, meeting the consultant, getting prepped for theatre and meeting with the embryologist. Everyone was so nice and put us at ease from the minute we walked in. I was third on the list so we had a little bit of a wait but not too long, luckily I had brought some magazines so we read those to pass the time.

Suddenly it was my turn and I was wheeled of to the theatre and hubby was sent to the men’s room to do his bit. I can’t remember much of this part, Dundee use deep sedation which I was told was a level down from a general anaesthetic, before I went in I was told that I would answer questions if I was asked them but wouldn’t recall any of it and boy is that true! I can remember a slight pain then the next thing was I was in the corridor being wheeled back with them telling me I had talked throughout and told them all about the blog! It’s as well I’ve not said any bad things.

Once back on the ward area my stats were checked and we were told we got nine eggs, we were really happy with that as the consultant in the morning had estimated it at 7. I was a little uncomfortable, like a bad period pain, I had been given some pain relief in theatre but did eventually ask for some paracetamol as well which helped ease the cramps.

IMG_8645.JPG After some tea and toast (much needed) and a couple of glasses of water I felt good enough to get up and moving about. Before discharge I just needed to make sure I could go to the bathroom with no issues, which was fine and we were good to go, along with a big bag of progesterone pessaries…..nice! I was instructed to use one that night then one every day up until our official test day. And we were on our way home to await the call from the embryologist the next day to let us know how many fertilised.

I was uncomfortable for the rest of the night so I spent most of it dosing on the sofa with a hot water bottle attached to my tummy which really did help. My husband was great looking after me and making sure I still kept up with my water intake. I was still very bloated and that continued on the day after but thankfully 2 days post egg collection I don’t feel the size of a house. Thankfully I have no signs of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome which was always in the back of my mind and I feel back to myself today.

We got a call nice and early the day after egg collection to say that 7 out of our 9 eggs have fertilised so we were both very happy about that. They will check them again on day 3 and give us a call to let us know how many are continuing to grow and to give us a time for egg transfer on day 5. The clinic aim to do all transfers on day 5 and will discuss with us on that day how they are looking again. They aim to do a single embryo transfer only if any have managed to get to the top level but if they haven’t then we may need to be discussing if we want to return more than one. This of course would increase the risk of twins so I think we have some discussing to do incase this is what happens!

Claire xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Stimming

IMG_8533.JPGImage Credit

Yay we made it onto stimming, baseline scan at the end of down regulating went well, both ovaries were inactive and lining was thin so we did some injection training for the stimming drugs. It comes in an auto injector pen which I had never used before but after a quick demo by the nurse I felt confident enough. This is where my nurse training really comes in, yes giving myself the injections has been odd but the actually medical side of it all means I’m taking that part in my stride.

IMG_6347.JPG. I have been started on 150 of Gonal F. I’m not sure if this is the norm or not but from what I’ve seen it might be classed as a lower dose which I think is probably due to my high AMH. My clinic advise you to take your stimming medications in the evening so I’ve decided on 7.30pm, it seems to be when will fit in better for me and gives me a nice 12 hour gap between the two injections.

I had read so much about stims helping people feel better from the side effects of Down Regulating and I’d hoped it would for me too. It did, for the first day or two at least, even letting me have some motivation to plan things for the two week wait but it hasn’t lasted and day 4 of stimming was awful. I really struggled at work, constantly not feeling with it which is not good when trying to recall things and sort out other peoples problems, feeling exhausted, tearful and agitated. Not a good mix! And the bloat, let’s not forget the bloat, my tummy feels as hard as a rock and I look about 3 months pregnant every night. It does get worse at night and is mostly away in the morning so it’s definitely bloating. Am I selling it to you yet? Now is the time that you repeat the mantra *it’s all for a good reason **repeats all day.

Water and isotonic drinks are now my new best friend

IMG_0977.JPG Every one on twitter and the fertility forums are all for the drinking lots and lots of water and isotonic drinks, not just through stimming but through Down Regulating as well. It seems to be recommended for the fluid nourishing the eggs, for rehydration, helping headaches and it has been reported to help prevent Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome I’m trying to drink at least 2litres of water a day and one isotonic drink so along with bloating, I’m constantly running to the loo too, the price we pay for stimming!

One of the other things that is meant to help is a hot water bottle on your tummy to gently heat the area and encourage the follicles to grow. Now whether this works or not I don’t know but my pink furry friend is now joining me on the sofa for a while every night after my injection.

IMG_0979.JPG Even if it doesn’t encourage follicles to grow it does help with feeling that bit more comfortable in the evening. I can’t actually find any evidence to support using heat to encourage follicles to grow but it doesn’t appear to hurt either.

One of the things I wasn’t expecting so I thought it would be good to mention it here was getting EWCM and boy did I get it. Enough to send me into a bit of a panic that I was going to ovulate before I even managed to get to my scan. After a quick panic stop tour of Dr Google it appears that this is very normal and people even experience more than they would usually do on an unmedicated cycle. My clinic want you to stim for around 9-10 days on average with a progress scan booked in for day 8.

IMG_8603.JPG I had hoped for a good response at my first scan but was disappointed. The clinic though did tell me things were fine but I needed to stim for another couple of days and get rescanned in a further two days. I only had two follies on my Left ovary at 10mm & 12mm and 2 small and five on my Right ovary, 3 x 13mm & 2 x 12mm along with 4 small. The clinic need them to be around the 18mm mark before they want to trigger but they were hopeful that at my next scan they would be ready and egg collection could get booked in. It will be the full 10 days stimming for me then!

Claire xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Down Regulating Part 2

You can read about the first 10 days of down regulating here.

Day 11 ~

Working today, no real change in my ear, suppose I had hoped it would suddenly just clear up but it hasn’t. I had a bit of a melt down last night, just felt so overwhelmed and emotional about everything. I’m scared this is all going to be in vain and I’ll end up with this hearing problem & tinnitus forever. Have been having some cramping on and off so would be expecting AF to turn up soon. Second injection went well today to but boy am I exhausted and my head is killing me

Day 12 ~

Bad headache all day not lifting with water, really don’t want to take paracetamol. Very strong cramps overnight and AF arrived late last night. Glad it’s arrived in a way though as I had been worried as the clinic had said it should arrive within a week of starting. Struggled with injection this morning, think it was because I was so tired and feeling like I’d been hit by a bus when I got up. Even managed to accidentally stab myself in the finger…ooops.

Day 14 ~

Today has not been a good day, started off with a really bad headache which I relented and took paracetamol for which did help. I’m still really pushing myself to drink at least 2 litres of water a day which I think does really help. I’ve just felt so exhausted today, like overwhelmed by it. I had to have a rest in the car at lunch time, I didn’t manage to sleep but it did feel better to rest for a while. Though over the afternoon I felt really nauseous and the headache came back. I ended up coming home from work a bit early and slept for 1.5 hours, even after that I still felt exhausted. Really hoping for a better day tomorrow! Only slight change in my ear, I was really hoping it would be back to normal by now but I suppose when I think about it why would it be when it’s a listed side effect of Buserelin not just the nasal spray.

Despite the side effects I’m still trying to be positive, to focus on the good things and to continue to choose hope.

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Day 17

I’m starting to count down to stims now. Hopefully when I get my baseline scan in a few days we can get a plan in place to start the stimulation phase and get an estimated date for egg collection. I’ve not really allowed myself to think too much about this part and I’m still trying not too as there is so much that can go wrong in this part in terms of cancelled cycles, not responding etc. It’s all a little to much for my fluffy side effect of Down regulating brain to take in! I’m just hoping that stims helps take away some of this exhaustion.

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Day 19 ~

Today is the first day I can really hold my hands up and say that I am a hormonal wreck. Angry, irritable, tearful, you name it. Not a pleasant day and I must hold my hands up to my husband not reacting to me being a snippy cow. I have been worried about the scan coming up, I had my AF around day 10 for 4 days but since then I have had breakthrough spotting/bleeding on and off. I hope this doesn’t mean my lining isn’t thin enough to start Stims

Day 21 ~

Baseline scan day. Both ovaries inactive, lining of womb thin enough to start. No issues! Did speak with nurse about the spotting after my period and it’s quite common, she said it meant things were working well and the scan showed that.
So we got our next set of injections, a prefilled injector pen this time so we had a quick demo and got the instructions for dosage written down along with booking in my action scan for next week to see how my
Follicles are growing. Tomorrow will be just continuing on the Buserelin injections and then on Day 23 I will start adding in stimulation injections using 150mg Gonal F. Keeping positive.

Claire xx

Random acts of kindness in a world of a lot of pain

People never cease to amaze me and since being open about our fertility struggles the way that people have supported us and willed us on has been amazing! The support from my twitter & forum friends have been second to none, yes I have never met them but they are my friends none the less, these girls get me more than I can imagine and I have been so lucky/overwhelmed/appreciative of the little things that they have done for me over these last few years.

I wanted to do this post to show how random acts of kindness are the best and to show you how these lovely ladies surprise me time and time again and of course to thank each and every one of you who have supported/willed us on and continue to do so. I’m so happy that I decided to share our infertility issues. It’s good to share!

IMG_8526.JPG A hug in a card from the lovely Kirsty arrived just when I needed it the most.

IMG_8527.JPG A sign of hope from the amazing Janine, this now hangs from my fridge where I look at it every morning and remember to have hope.

IMG_8529.JPG Daring to believe book filled full of positive quotes from my amazing Sister. This sits on my desk at work giving me a gentle reminder each day.

IMG_8528.JPG This arrived in the post one day totally taking me by surprise, it’s from a very old friend who I discovered was in a very similar boat to me. Infertility is a very small world and only by being open about it have I found out there are so many people that I know going through this.

IMG_8520.JPG The amazing Jo, a girl I met on Babyandbump right back when we were waiting to try and have become firm friends ever since sent me some real life ‘baby dust’ and a lovely card to put in my IVF positive corner.

IMG_8543.JPG These gorgeous ear rings were sent to me by my sister.

I want to thank each and every one of you, for every tweet, every virtual hug, for every blog comment, for thinking of me when I needed it the most and I want to thank you all just for being you! It is helping me more than you can imagine.

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Claire xx

It’s the small things ~ August Edition

Some of the small things that have made me happy over the last month.
IMG_8221.JPG There has been a week spent in the South of Ireland

IMG_8234.JPG Seaside visits

IMG_8242.JPG Quality time spent together.

IMG_8265.JPG Visits to wildlife parks for first birthdays.

IMG_8273.JPG First birthday celebrated and cakes eaten.

IMG_8325.JPG Old fashioned sweet shops visited.

IMG_8339-0.JPG Irish house blessings bought for the hallway.

IMG_8352.JPG Schnauzer loom bands given.

IMG_8349-0.JPG Picnics at the beach.

IMG_8355.JPG Seafront dog walks.

IMG_8379.JPG Football stadiums toured.

IMG_8381.JPG Dinners out and wine enjoyed.

IMG_8388.JPG Blow out pizza and movie night to finish our holidays.

IMG_8389.JPG Shaggy dogs appearing.

IMG_8426.JPG Peaceful coffees enjoyed.

IMG_8432.JPG Medication started

IMG_8446.JPG Disney movies watched.

IMG_8474.JPG Loch’s walked around.

IMG_8476.JPG Non shaggy dog reappeared!

What are the small things you have enjoyed this month?

Claire xx

Our IVF journey at Ninewells Dundee ~ Down Regulating – Part 1

I decided when I started down regulating to keep a diary of my thoughts and feelings, this post is a change from my normal style and is written in a diary style. I also figured that this part might be long so I have spilt it up so not to bore you all completly.

Day 1 ~

It’s 7 am on Thursday morning and today is the day that down regulating begins. I set all the alarms on my phone last night. It took me a while and a little internet delving to figure out good times to take it. The instructions only say spilt evenly during wakened hours. I decided to go with

IMG_8427.PNG these are the best times for me as I’ll be at home for at least three doses normally which makes it so much easier.

IMG_8432-0.JPG First sniff done, it’s not as vile as I was expecting, not nice either but I ate something quite quickly after it and the taste went away fairly fast.

Day 3 & 4 ~

Exhaustion beyond anything I’ve felt before, feels like a hangover without the alcohol x 20! Mild headaches all weekend that just won’t shift. Hoping this is my body getting used to it. Struggling to do much around the house, hard to motivate myself. Kept having to sit down on dog walk like I was an old woman. Twitter army all suggested ensuring in drinking at least two litres of water a day which really helped with the headaches.

Have been having ear trouble since day 2, thought it was wax or congestion but nothing clearing it. Wondering if it could be related to the nasal spray?

Day 5 ~

First day at work since the side effects hit, felt spaced out, no concentration and nana naps are now the order of the day. Can only partially hear out of right ear, constant buzzing. Really worried if it’s a side effect they will stop cycle, not sure whether to contact the clinic or not?

Day 6

First mini melt down, thankfully was in the privacy of my own car. Just feel emotionally drained, fed up we are in this situation and worried about my ear. Need to read up on the side effects.

IMG_8466.JPG Ouch what a nice list of side effects. Interesting to see that hearing disturbances are listed as a side effect. Wonder though if I should just put up with it or report it?

Day 8 ~

Called the clinic this morning even if this is just a side effect I need to report it. It’s really starting to affect everyday life, work has been so difficult, especially if there is background noise at all. Clinic don’t seem to think it is but have agreed if I go to the GP to check no infection that they will switch me to injections to see if it makes a difference.
Still feeling exhausted, managing to get through work though afternoons are tough, feel like I have no concentration and have no interest in things I normally enjoy. One of the things I’m pleased about is the twitter suggestion of drinking lots of water as since starting the nasal spray I’ve been so thirsty! It’s also helping to keep away the headaches, I’m trying to take a bottle of water if I even feel a twinge which seems to be making a huge difference.

Day 9 ~

GP found nothing wrong with my ear yesterday, called the clinic back and again they don’t think that it is the nasal spray causing it but have agreed that I can switch to the injection form. This is not something I’ve taken a decision on lightly, I mean who would want to inject if they didn’t need to? Not me that’s for sure! I feel though that this problem only started when I took the nasal spray, I may be wrong and if it doesn’t clear up then we will have clear evidence that it wasn’t that but I have to try to do something!

IMG_8485.JPG So this is my new medication, same as the nasal spray but in injection form. We did brief injection training, I’m fine with drawing up and giving injections to others so it didn’t take long, it will just be a matter of learning to give them to myself! Which will be happening early tomorrow morning.

IMG_8486.PNG And a new alarm has been set. I was told to do this injection in the morning as when I start Stimming I will need to do that one at night time. So from now on it will be early morning rises for injections and I doubt I’ll get back to sleep after that. Lol

Day 10 ~

I set up my injecting area before I went to bed last night, I wanted it to be a positive place so I have my little book of strength sitting out in front of it. I love this little book, it is full of pretty designed quotes and always gives me a boost when I look at it. I also have my ‘believe’ bracelet sitting on the side. This was sent to me by an old friend who has been through this process too and I love it.

IMG_8487.JPG. So it’s time to do the injection, drawing it up was fine, suppose the bonus of my nurse training is I’m well used to drawing up injections and that part didn’t bother me. I wasn’t going to allow myself to dwell on it to much as I knew the longer I delayed the harder it would be. I put on some background music to distract myself a little, pinched an inch, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and put it in. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be either. I opened my eyes again obviously to see the plunger to put it in and that was it over and done with as quick as that.

IMG_8490.JPG the clinic told me I could either inject in the tummy or in my thighs. I choose my thighs this morning as I figured there is plenty of excess there and I shouldn’t feel it as much. I need to rotate the injection site each day which I think will be easier on my thighs. I’m just hoping that now the nasal spray is finished I’ll get rid of the ear problem.
All this ear problem and nerves about switching to the injection have made me not think too much about the other side effects which I suppose is good. I wanted to make sure they are written down though so I have a record of them. The tiredness still remains, it comes out of the blue at times as well, like yesterday in the car when I just had to close my eyes as I felt so tired, headachy and sick. My boobs also feel so heavy and about to burst if I don’t have my bra on. I lay on my front on the bed yesterday and that lasted all of two minutes! You do get a period at some point on DR so I’m figuring that this is the build up to that.

Claire xx

Reading about IVF

As I’ve said before I am a person who craves knowledge, I’m often found with my nose in a book researching things so naturally IVF has been no different.,

I started by ordering The Complete guide to IVF by Kate Brian

IMG_0967.JPG It got very good reviews on Amazon and it sounded like something I would benefit from and it hasn’t let me down. It’s easy to read and I find I have been able to dip in and out of it, only reading parts that were of interest to me at that time. Kate writes in a relaxed but informative manner and takes you right through the IVF process having been there twice herself she is more than experienced to share what IVF really entails. I would recommend it to anyone about to undertake IVF for the first time.

Jessica Hepburn’s The pursuit of Motherhood is a memoir of Jessica’s journey through infertility and treatment.

IMG_0965-0.JPG it is a heart breaking honest account of the ups and downs of infertility. It made me feel I wasn’t alone in this journey and at times like someone was reading my mind. Jessica has managed to capture all the thoughts and feelings of infertility in such a moving but sensitive way.

More recently I seen a newspaper article which linked to the books of Anne-Marie Scully so I downloaded them to my kindle.

IMG_0964.JPG Her first book Mother Hoodwinked is her infertility memoir. With heartbreaking honesty Anne-Marie takes you on her journey from her initial optimism and excitement at finally trying for a baby, through to her increasingly complex pregnancy plan. The book is funny and sad and again it was like someone was reading my mind at times. Anne-Marie manages to describe the process of IVF in great detail and got me to think about things totally differently than I had done.

She has also recently released another book Five Million Born A companion guide to IVF, this book aims to guide you through the steps of IVF. It explains everything you need to know about the different options available in a very clear and factual way, from getting funding (if needed) to ways to deal with the emotional & physical aspects of IVF. It’s very well written and again I have been able to dip in and out of it as I’ve felt the need. I would recommend it to anyone struggling with the trauma that is infertility.

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Do you have any other recommendations?

Claire xx

Weight Loss Wednesday

Hello,

My name is Claire and it’s been 6 weeks since my last weigh in…

And as predicted I’ve been bad! I weighed myself on Saturday after two weeks holiday and had gained 7lbs, a half a blooming stone. You would have thought I would have learned my lesson by now but I haven’t, I need to realise that I need to be following some kind of healthy eating plan at least in my head anyway or it all goes to pot.

I did get the kick up the ass I needed though and spent Saturday getting back into Slimming World mindset and menu planning for the rest of the week and I’m over the moon to report that today there was a loss on the scales!

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So hopefully that’s me back on track, now I need to keep it going whilst going through IVF.

From what I have read, lots of people seem to put on a good few pounds during IVF with the drug regime so I’m hoping with following slimming world I can do some damage limitation.

Claire xx

One Pan Salmon ~ Slimming World

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I found this recipe in one of my old slimming world magazines and adapted it a little for what I had at home.

Serves 2
Extra Easy ~ Free

Ingredients
250g baby potatoes, halved
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 yellow & 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into bite sized chunks
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 butternut squash, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 skinless salmon fillets
2 Tsp Italian herb seasoning
200ml vegetable stock
Fry light
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 220c. Put the potatoes, onions, carrots, butternut squash, peppers and garlic into a roasting tray. Pour in the stock and bake for 15minutes.

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Place the salmon on top, spray with fry light and sprinkle with the herb seasoning and pepper. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15minutes.

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Easy to make and even easier on the washing up!

Enjoy

Claire x

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