Wednesday 29th June - Embryo Transfer Day!
Mr Waiting had managed to get the day off from work and I was so pleased and I am so glad he didn't miss this. We had a little bit of a lie in than what would be normal for a work day and had a leisurely start to the day before making our way to the hospital for 10:15. We arrived early (it's funny that Mr Waiting can be on time for really important things!) and the lady that let us in asked how I was and, thinking that she was a nurse, I started rambling about my constipation. She wasn't a nurse, but a sympathetic receptionist. I was a little embarrassed after that! There was a couple opposite us. They were the couple that had been in the bay next to us that had got 19 eggs. I was in first for embryo transfer and there was one couple before us.
After filling out some paperwork that I'd filled out wrong last time (it was an admittance form and I'd assumed one was for me and one for Mr Waiting, rather than both being for me seeing as I was getting admitted twice...) we were led to our bay and asked to put on gowns. I put my usual two gowns on and Mr Waiting had some surgeons scrubs to put on and some surgical clogs. He was very (very!) excited about this and pranced about in them asking me to take photos of him "looking like a surgeon". What he was really after was a clipboard but settled for a couple of poses, one with the disinfectant hand-gel dispenser. We had to wait a little while and in that time the embryologist came to speak to us and show us drawings of our embryos. At this point 9 had reached the four cell cleavage stage which was where they should be. The embryologist told us that because of my age, this being our first treatment and the quality of the embryos with so many to freeze that they would do a single embryo transfer (SET). I was really disappointed. She didn't seem to understand why but, to me, we weren't allowed to go to blastocyst because of the clinic's working days and we couldn't be sure we were putting in a really good embryo, despite it being the best of the four-celled embryos.
When we had our initial consultation the consultant had explained that we were eligible for a SET and that usually only 10% of patients had one. I didn't actually realise that this could be 'forced' upon us and I still thought it could be recommended though ultimately it is our choice. She spoke to the consultant who echoed what she had said. She said that we had enough to freeze for another go with this cycle so it wasn't worth putting two back. And so they didn't. I did get over my initial disappointment later but it does keep coming back to me. What if?
We were led through to surgery and Mr Waiting was surprised that it was just through a normal door from the ward. He got his own chair next to the monitors and had taken in my phone to take some pictures of the embryo. Before we got started the nurse squirted some gel on my tummy to have a good look at my ovaries and uterus. This was the first time that I've had this done and straight away it reminded me of the 12 week pregnancy scanning that must go on, that I've only seen on TV and dreamt about. The consultant showed me my swollen ovaries and their now empty follicles. Well, I say empty, he said they were battered and bruised and full of fluid and blood! And then they showed me my womb. It was fascinating to be able to see you own insides. They also showed me my bladder which had to be full for them to do the transfer!
They got me in position and the embryologist showed us our embryo underneath the microscope. Here it is:
The lines are the lines from the monitor and, unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of it without the lines. But you can see it there, perfectly formed. Our possible baby-to-be. Our possible Stanley or Lucy (though we think Stanley). It was amazing and we couldn't stop staring at the screen until it disappeared.
The consultant placed the embryo in my womb through a catheter that I didn't even feel! It was strange because every other time I've had a catheter or smear I've really felt it but I felt nothing! In the catheter tube they put a tiny air bubble behind the embryo so that they know that they have placed it in the right place. We could see the air bubble on the screen:
It's the little concentrated white circle inside the apricot-shaped blob. See it? That's our embryo, somewhere in there, inside its mummy. Mr Waiting was fascinated by the whole process and it was so lovely having him in there, stroking my hair throughout. I know he's going to be an a amazing comfort to me in any subsequent labour and birth. I hope we get there.
Test day is officially the 15th July 2011. I will not be testing before then like some people do. The longer I hold off, the longer I can believe it's worked and have hope. We have about a 1 in 3 chance. I keep forgetting that that's a 1 in 3 chance of a live birth, that the pregnancy test isn't the end. Please let us be that one in three. There were three ladies in the hospital on embryo transfer day. I want to be the one out of us three.
After the transfer I got straight up off the table and went for a wee (my bladder could hold no more) and then it was home! We decided to stop off at a little cafe and garden centre on the the way home where we lowered the average age by about 20 years or more. Then we went home and I rested up, staring at our embryo in the photo and sending it to my dad saying "hello Grandad". I know it's premature but to us that little four-celled blob is a baby, one that we will grieve if he doesn't make it. Dad's response was "wow!". I am never failed to be amazed at what technology and modern medicine can do and so for someone of the older generations this must seem miraculous. And it is miraculous.
We had a phone call that afternoon saying that 12 had made it to four cells and were all frozen. So as well as our 'on board' embryo we have 12 snow babies which is amazing as many people don't even have 12 eggs to start off with. In the evening we went for tea at the pub with my dad and his girlfriend and excitedly showed them more pictures. I can't wait to be showing them pictures of a scan that has an actual baby in it.
The next couple of days have been a bit difficult. After the initial positivity we felt on Wednesday I started to wonder by Thursday if our chances had been reduced by only having one embryo and it being only four cells put back. I have since learned (through internet/book research) that the success rates for a SET + a subsequent frozen embryo transfer (FET) equal the success rates of a fresh double embryo transfer (DET). Which is promising I suppose for our subsequent embryos. But I cannot give up on the embryo inside me so I'm fighting to stay positive. Mummy has talked to the embryo, Daddy has talked to the embryo and we have told him to stay comfy where he is and get all nice and snuggled in. Daddy frequently kisses the embryo through mummy's tummy and tells him to give mummy "inside cuddles". I hope you're listening little embryo!
Both on Thursday and yesterday I have felt weak and sick and have actually been sick too, which is rubbish (but a good practice for morning sickness I suppose...). I haven't been back to work and indeed I have a sicknote til at least next Thursday. The doctor was lovely and said that if I need more time after just phone up and they will extend it. I wasn't going to get a sicknote but as the teaching strike loomed it seemed that I would need one to prove I wasn't striking. I do feel guilty about being off but my embryo needs me at the moment.
I have felt slightly better today though still feel not quite right and am very constipated. I can't do a lot without feeling weak and light headed. I ended up phoning the nurses last night and she said that if I started to feel worse or stopped weeing normally then I was to go up to the ward to be assessed and possibly have intravenous fluids. This scared me so much but made me realise just what a trauma my body is going through (and maybe will continue to go through for 9 months).
So, if you're reading, keep everything crossed that we are one of the lucky ones. That we will have our miracle baby.