On October 2nd we went to see our fertility specialist to have our final follow up appointment and discuss what we can do next.
We sat and spoke about our previous cycles, and she told us there are many things that could be causing our cycles to fail and that we may never find that ’cause‘. However, she seems to think it’s most likely down to Will’s poor sperm quality and high DNA fragmentation which can cause chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo causing IVF failure. We did also discuss the fact that there may be nothing clinically going wrong other than it’s just not working.
Our fertility specialist advised that Will should take antioxident medication to reduce the amount of fragmented sperms for at least 3 months. Then to have his sperm surgically removed, which is supposed to further reduce the amount of fragmented sperms collected. Then once eggs are collected and fertilised, to have their genetics tested. This involves having a biopsy from all successfully fertilised embryos and then freezing them. Any embryos that come back abnormal will be discarded, and all genetically normal embryos will be suitable for transfer. We have found a somewhat reasonable price plan through access fertility, I will talk more in depth about what this involves and prices on my next post.
September 3rd, we woke up super early again, around 5:30am ish. SO nervous! My heart began racing the second I opened my eyes. I just don’t know if I can take another fail, and I don’t know what we will do about affording treatment if this hasn’t worked.
I went to the bathroom and done the pregnancy test, then took it back to bed with me, put it on the bedside cabinet and lay down to try and catch my breath and prepare myself for the result. Prepare myself for another negative.
Me and Will cuddled for a minute, and told eachother that if we have been unlucky again then we will find a way and we will try again. If we need to save for years then that is what we will do.
After about 5 minutes, I leant over to read the test.
My heart sank.
Me and Will cuddled for a while and talked about what our next steps would be. But we were both truly gutted. Life can just be so unfair sometimes. I can’t imagine how those people must feel, who have gone through many many failed cycles and are still battling with infertility. I am so so scared for that to be me, I don’t feel ‘strong’ anymore. I don’t feel like I can take anymore setbacks. I’m well and truly drained of all my positivity, hope and faith. Just drained of everything.
We phoned the clinic and told them the result, now we just had to wait for our last follow up with our fertility specialist.
This part never gets any easier! It honestly feels like torture, that is the best way I can decribe it. You go through every single emotion through this time. I could go from feeling really positive, excited and happy to negative, anxious, upset and angry in a few hours. Feeling vulnerable, because your happiness depends on what the end result will be. IVF is so consuming, it literally controls your emotions. The medications don’t help of course, they play a big part in exaggerating the way you feel. Times where you would normally feel a little sad, you are sobbing your heart out. Or times when things wouldn’t normally annoy you are making you feel your own blood begin to boil inside your veins and a rage that you can’t seem to control.
The urge to get online and read forums on IVF is real! Yet for me, I know that this will only make me feel 10x worse. Comparing other peoples experiences and symptoms is a waste of time, because everyone is different. There are people who have had every symptom and had a negative result, and there are people who have had no symptoms and had a positive result. The best thing to do is just keep busy, live your life as you normally would and wait for test day. But it’s so hard to have that mindset at the time. I don’t know how I coped during the 2ww. Well I suppose I didn’t really, not very well anyway. I was born an anxious Annie, so if there is a situation that I could worry about, I will. I am an expert at worrying and overthinking. So me and IVF don’t make the best pair.
I know that all I can do now is try and keep my mind occupied, and just be patient.
We had our second scan on August 16th which comfirmed the lining of my womb was thick enough for transfer.
August 23rd, we arrived at the clinic for around 11am. Yet again, I had gone over the top with the water and my bladder was full. to. the. brim. I just can’t seem to get the amount of water I need to drink right! They called us through, the embryologist came in and told us that our embryo was doing really well and is continuing to multiply and divide following the thaw. So that was really reassuring to hear! I won’t bore you again with the graphic details of the procedure, if you wan’t to know all the graphics then you can read them on my previous embryo transfer posts.
By 12:30 it was all done. That was it, if this doesn’t work then I better start playing the lottery!
Bloody hell. This is scary stuff. If it doesn’t work this time around, we have to pay. A LOT of money. Don’t get me wrong, we both feel incredibly lucky to of had 3 cycles funded to us, seeing as it all depends on where you live as to how many cycles are funded to you, if any! But, as with many people, we are no where near having the funds to be able to afford to pay for IVF, so all of our hope is going on our 3rd cycle. God knows what we will do and how we will afford IVF if it doesn’t work this time. We’ll just have to cross that bridge when/if it comes to it.
On July 30th, I started on the injections and tablets again and we had a scan booked for August 9th to check the lining of my womb was thickening ready for transfer. Those progynova tablets make me feel horrendous! I just feel like I need to be near a toilet at all times because I feel I might be sick at any moment! Even though I never was sick, I was on the verge ALL the time! The most horrible feeling.
So August 9th we had our scan which showed I wasn’t ready for transfer yet because the lining of my womb wasn’t thick enough, so they doubled those bloody progynova tablets again like they did last time and booked us another scan for August 16th.
On July 3rd we went to Oxford fertility clinic for a 1 hour counselling session. I wasn’t sure I would come out a positive Penelope, but it was worth a try! We were invited into a private room with our counseller, I can’t remember her name but we’ll just call her Sue. She was really friendly and welcoming, kind of a must when you’re a counseller I suppose. She went on to ask us why we were here and what she could do for us. I was like “ummmm, well our 2nd IVF cycle has just failed and we’re feeling negative so we were advised by our fertility specialist to come and see you because we’re told we need to think positive.” We went on to explain everything that had happened within our 2 cycles and got onto the DNA fragmentation thing and how we were really disappointed that we hadn’t been told this before starting our 2nd cycle, seeing as we’ve now been advised to do a whole fresh cycle and discard our remaining embryo. If we were told about this then it would have saved wasting a cycle when they knew it would fail. Sue explained that the way we were feeling, which was negative, was completely normal after what’s happened and said she didn’t have much to work on with us because the way we were feeling was a good way of protecting ourselves, as she said if you feel positive that it will work, then it doesn’t, the heartache will be worse because you weren’t prepared for that to happen. Whereas if you’re already expecting it not to work, then you’re not as disappointed when you find out that you didn’t get the outcome you wanted. However, she did say that we could speak to an embryologist to get some answers about the DNA fragmentation!
Will and I sat and had a coffee whilst Sue went to find an embryologist for us to talk to. We were looking through an ‘Access Fertility’ leaflet, intrigued about the pricing of treatment should we ever need to pay. And although any treatment is extremely expensive, they actually do some fairly good deals! Ones where you can pay around £16,000 (incase being infertile isn’t enough of a strain, you have to pay thousands for something that for the majority of people is free) but you get 2 years UNLIMITED cycles and if you don’t have a baby within those 2 years you get a FULL refund! I know it’s a LOT of money, but you get it all back if you don’t have a baby! And if you do have a baby, you’ll be in debt for a lifetime but it’ll be SO worth it!
ANYWAY… An embyologist comes in and we explain the situation, that we were told by the guy in the lab that Wills sperm was highly fragmented and therefore we should discard our remaining embryo, start Will on antioxident therapy for 3 months, have his sperm surgically removed and start a whole fresh cycle using the PICSI method. She said that there was clearly some miscommunication going on, as there was nothing on our notes stating that we had this conversation with anybody in the clinic, also the advise from the guy in the lab was wrong. She couldn’t answer why we weren’t told about this before and why we had to call for the results. I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible… So the embryologist explained that 55% of Will’s sperms were fragmented, meaning that 45% of his sperm were not. Although over half in considered ‘high’, there are still just under half that are ok. Our 3 embryo’s that made it to blastocyst were grade A, perfect quality embryos. So there would be no reason to discard the remaining embryo as it still has potential to give us a baby. She also said that they would usually only recommend the PICSI method when the quality of the embryos are poor. She told us that so long as we still have a good quality embryo to use, then the NHS would not fund us for a fresh cycle. So the embryo that is frozen is the one we have to use for our final cycle.
Well in a way, we felt reassured. To hear that 45% of Will’s sperm was still ok made us feel so much better! Hopefully our last embryo was made with a good sperm! At least we knew what we were doing now, and all our questions were answered. We really hope that our last embryo will work!
The day after our negative pregnancy test result, it suddeny dawned on me and Will that we never had his results for the DNA fragmentation test on his sperm. We both assumed that no news is good news so we weren’t worried, but decided to phone Oxford fertility and just confirm that everything was fine. Seeing as now we’ve had 2 failed cycles and couldn’t work out what could be going wrong.
Will had a call back from one of the spermologists, I know that’s not a term, but I don’t know what he’s called, who went on to tell him that he had some bad news.
Will’s results showed that the majority of his sperms DNA was framgented, which leaves us at high risk for IVF failure and miscarriage. He advised that we discard our 1 remaining embryo, for Will to go on antioxident therapy to help decrease the amount of fragmented sperms, and do a fresh cycle using a new method called PICSI. It’s basically the same as ICSI where the sperm is injected into the egg, but with PICSI, they first place the sperm into a dish with hyaluronan enzyme, which acts like a magnet to attract the strongest healthiest sperm. This enzyme allows for the sperm to bind to this layer, and by the sperm binding to it allows the lab to have more than just a visual choice of selection. Sperm that binds to the hyaluronan show improved DNA integrity and fewer DNA mistakes than those that do not bind. So of course they would choose these sperms to fertilise our eggs. He also recommended have Wills sperm surgically removed, as this can also reduce the risk of fragmented sperms. Wow. What a lot to take in right? We wasn’t expecting there to be anything wrong, seeing as we weren’t contacted!
So we then phoned the clinic, who suggested we speak to our fertility specialist at our follow up appointment about future treatment plans. She also strongly advised that we attend a counselling session, as we were quite negative about the whole situation. Especially after finding out we’d been left in the dark about Will’s DNA results! So we decided to take the counselling session, we got 1 hour free with our funding. Maybe it would make us somehow feel more positive about the whole situation. We shall see……
June 24th, our official test day! God we were sooo nervous to test this time. I hadn’t done an early test so had no idea what to expect. We just wished for 2 clear lines on the pregnancy test! I felt as though it would be positive, I couldn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be pregnant, so I was somewhat expecting the test to be positive. Which just made my anxiety worse because I knew I could be setting myself up for heartache!
Will woke me up around 5:30am, and as soon as I opened my eyes I could feel my heart beginning to race from the nerves. Pregnancy test done, and we waited for 3 minutes. Nothing. We thought it might take a while like the last one did, so we kept checking every couple of minutes, but the test remained negative. A very bright, clear negative.
I cried a little, and Will cuddled me. I don’t know how he stays so strong through it all! But actually, I think we took it really well this time. Better than expected, especially as I was secretly expecting to be pregnant! We just reassured each other and had the mindset of maybe we’ll get it third time lucky. Of course it was a really upsetting day for us, we felt so deflated and just couldn’t understand what could have gone wrong this time. I began to think of things that may have caused our failure, maybe that day I slipped down the stairs caused implantation to fail? Maybe I was worrying too much? What if it’s just my body rejecting the embryo?
This time around I was feeling much more relaxed! I had the mindset of, what will be will be and there is nothing I can say or do that can change what the outcome will be. We just need to wait and see, and I didn’t want to feel anxious and stressed throughout the whole 2 week wait (actually 11 days) like I did last time. So I did really well without researching anything online, which REALLY helped! Inevitably, I was still having thoughts like I wonder if I’m pregnant, I’m having cramps! Is this a good sign? Are frozen embryo transfers more likely to be successful? But I did feel like I was thinking about it much less than last time. That is until we got to around 8 days post transfer…
I couldn’t resist! I began googling and felt just as I did the first time around. Really anxious and nervous and I desperately wanted to test early and put myself out of my misery! I didn’t, but I really wanted to!
I wasn’t really having any symptoms as such either. I know they say not to take any notice of symptoms you might have as the medications can cause you to experience pregnancy symptoms without being pregnant, but you just can’t help but symptom spot when you’re in the 2ww! It’s impossible not to notice when you have cramping and then begin wondering what the embryo is up to, and if the cramps are a result of the embryo getting snug! The 2ww is definitely the hardest part for me mentally! I feel like I can deal with anything as long as I know what’s going on. But when you have no idea, I just feel like I’m all over the place and just don’t know what to think.
June 13th came around and we were sat waiting to be called through to have a frozen embryo transfered. It was much easier for me to have a full bladder this time without the pain from stimulating and egg collection, however I think I was a bit toooooo keen on having a full bladder because I was bursting!
They called us through, I got naked from the waist down and hopped on the bed. The fertility nurse began using the ultrasound scanner on my lower stomach to find my uterus, just the pressure of the scanner made me feel like I might wet myself! The other fertility nurse who would be transferring the embryo inserted the speculum and began transforming my vagina into a cave, which is SO uncomfortable when you’re bladder is full! I really had to concentrate not to wee! As she began passing the catheter through my cervix into my uterus, the nurse scanning my said how full my bladder looked and was showing me and Will the trickles on the screen where it was still filling up! How I was still holding it is a miracle!
Anyway, the catheter was now in my uterus and they brought through our little embie baby! Then we watched on the screen as the fluid which contained the embryo, popped out of the catheter and was in my womb! COME ON LITTLE FROSTY EMBIE!!!