Part 7 – A Frozen Transfer, a miscarriage, and another nephew on route…

I had finally gotten over the fresh round of IVF that we undertook in the January and I felt like Emma again, so by mid March, we called the clinic and arranged for the first transfer of our London 12 to take place in the April. I had a regular cycle, so went ahead and booked London hotels for the day 12 scan and the frozen embryo transfer itself (aka FET). However, sods law, I was 4 days late!!! Typical. It did stress me out a bit, but we managed to change the dates for the hotel stays easily enough, because when I explained the situation, everyone was extremely accommodating! Phew.

I felt it important to prep for the FET as I would do a fresh IVF cycle, so I maintained my low carb, high protein, Mediterranean style diet, cut out coffee (waaaa) and wine (double waaaa). I bought some lovely Pom Pom juice as it is jam packed with antioxidants and helps with blood flow to the uterus. Same goes for beetroot, thanks to its ability to create a healthy uterus and support with implantation. I also kept taking inositol, as well as the other supplements I talked about in post number 6. Inositol is great for egg quality, but as I’ve mentioned before, it is equally good for insulin resistance, and being a type 1 diabetic, it made sense to keep going with it. Every little helps, right?!

My protocol for the FET was 3 x progynova (estradiol) and 1 x baby asprin from day 1 of my cycle, a round of intralipids between day 1-4 and then another two weeks later. I would commence cyclogest from day 15 and from the day of transfer, I would begin clexane injections.

April arrives and off we go to London for the day 12 scan, actually, it was day 11 in this case. It was a quick one night-er, so my mother came with me instead of Lyn, to avoid taking time off work. We booked into a lovely hotel near Tower Bridge and caught the national express bus up and back, which is significantly cheaper than any other mode of transport, and every single penny counts when you are self-funding multiple rounds of IVF!!

Me and Mammy at The Tower of London

The scan went extremely well, my lining was triple patterned and measuring in at 8mm. Dr Simone decided to increase my progynova to 4 pills a day, and I was booked in for an embryo transfer on day 19. On day 15, I commenced the dreaded cyclogest pessaries. Uch a fi, I can’t say that I was thrilled to see them again mind. Horrible little blighters.

Day 18 arrives, and Lyn and I head to London. Never before in any previous transfers had I felt so calm. I had a feeling of such serenity, happiness and excitement. I guess that that was partly down to the Zita West approach and partly down to the knowledge that we had 12 top quality blastocysts in the freezer. I knew that I would never have to go through a fresh IVF cycle again, and after 7 years of hell, I can’t even begin to explain how that made me feel. Utterly liberating and so so powerful. Me and Lyn were feeling very optimistic that this FET was going to work, and even if it didn’t, the whole process was so easy now. We felt very lucky to be in this position.

The Zita West Clinic. The most beautiful door in Marylebone

Embryo transfer day arrives and I had progesterone and estradiol tests undertaken first thing. My progesterone was on the low side, so Dr George wanted me on Prontogest intramuscular injections immediately. It was a mad rush to the pharmacy for Lyn, as I headed off to my first acupuncture appointment of the day. It is recommended to have it just before and immediately after a transfer.

We arrive at Care London, where ET takes place, and I honestly thought I was as cool as a cucumber, until they took my blood pressure and it was 178/120!!! My usual reading is about 110/75, so I had heck of a shock. The nurse said that it was extremely common, but I was more shocked about the fact that I genuinely felt ok. What did this mean? Have I put on a front of being ‘ok’ for so many years, that I have actually begun to believe it, when I am obviously not? I suspected so, and I didn’t like it. Not one bit. But hey ho, I wasn’t going to dwell on it, this was a positive day after all.

Embryo transfer itself went well and I loved the differences in how Dr George did it, compared to other clinics. He left the ‘embryo tube’ in for about 10 minutes, after he had ‘released the blast’. When I asked why, he simply said that when we walk into a park for a picnic, we don’t just sit at the first patch of grass that we find, we walk around, looking for the best place to sit. Well, an embryo does the same, and he doesn’t want to pull out the tube and disturb it on its quest for the perfect spot!! Lyn and I were weak with laughter, but totally understood what he meant. This is why we love Dr George so much, that and how he always tells us that we make beautiful embryos!! I’m in no doubt that he says that to all of his patients, but I don’t care. It’s so awesome to hear. Probably a similar feeling to when someone coo’s at the beauty of your baby in the pram. Yep, exactly the same!

Embryo transfer complete, second acupuncture appointment done, and there began the dreaded two week wait!!! Although, I didn’t struggle with this one much at all. I was confident and happy. I went back to work at 6 days post 5 day transfer and just got on with everything. By 8dp5dt, I was starting to get a little twitchy though, so at 9dp5dt I tested, and it was positive. We were elated, but very very cautious with our feelings. We were only too aware of how easily it could all go wrong.

At 11dp5dt, I had a beta hcg test and it was 86. I was disappointed, I’m not going to lie. Even though I knew that the number meant nothing as long as it doubles in 48hours, I was still concerned for the pregnancy. At 13dp5dt my beta hcg came in at 148, which was an increase of 72%, and the clinic were happy with it. I was not convinced though, I just had a bad feeling, so had one more test 2 days later and that one came back with a doubling time of 50%. Much lower than average. Another 2 days after that, I had another and the doubling time was 30%, another 2 days and it was 35%. We went for a couple of scans during this time and at the first, we saw 2 small gestational sacs, and at the second we saw one very small sac and 1 larger with a fetal pole and yolk sac. The pregnancy had progressed, but not at the expected rate. I was 6w5d by this point and knew deep down where this was all heading as we saw a heartbeat at that stage last time. My GP had signed me off work during all of this, which I was grateful for. There was no way I could concentrate on anything else and the pregnancy was so incredibly fragile, I was too scared to move.

We booked in to see the Dr’s and to have a scan at Zita West when I was 7w6d and it was there that we had confirmation that it was an identical twin pregnancy. The embryo had split. However, one stopped growing very early on and the other at 6weeks. I’d had another missed miscarriage.

We didn’t cry, we felt fine. We believed that we had prepared ourselves for it and that having been through this before, it would be easier. We went for lunch at Café Caldesi just around the corner from the clinic and I had a glass of wine, Lyn had a couple of pints. We then headed back to our hotel, and stopped in a few pubs along the way. I think we were just numb to our feelings at this point, and very much pretending that we were ok with the whole horrible mess. We were so relieved that it was all over, because the waiting and uncertainty was unbearable, that I think it masked our true feelings.

We returned home and tried to get on with life, I was still off work, because I was now waiting to miscarry naturally. I was reluctant to have another ERPC, as it had not worked last time, but I was also petrified of having to do this naturally. I remembered, only too well, the pain from the last time.

It was the beginning of June, and I remember it clearly, I had started to lose. The pain got worse and worse over the hours and by the following day, I was writhing in agony. Something wasn’t quite right, I was losing far too much blood and I was very dizzy and lightheaded, so I went to the GP. The GP called 999 and I was rushed to Singleton hospital, where I spent the night. I had a scan the following day and it was confirmed that I had lost naturally, there were no retained products of pregnancy (I absolutely hate that term!!!), so I was able to go home and rest. I should physically recover in a couple of weeks.

At this point, I felt really quite happy that my body finally did something right and managed to miscarry naturally. I was controlling my feelings well and felt fine. I was sad, but fine. Over the years, I’ve managed to control my emotions & manage them quite well via a combo of counselling, CBT & other mindful activities. I’m very proud & grateful for that. Even so, after the first 2 miscarriages, I remember going through hell & blaming myself for the losses, but this time I finally knew that this was not my fault. Anyone reading this now, who is in a similar situation to me, or has been previously, I want you to know that it’s not your fault either. That small bag of chips did not cause me to lose my babies, that chocolate bar didn’t cause it, that stressful day at work did not cause it to happen & neither did that evening out with friends. This happened & it’s so painfully sad, but it wasn’t my fault & it’s not your fault either. I dealt with this third loss so much better than the previous two, and I truly believe that knowing that it was not my fault and taking the time to grieve properly, look after myself and my marriage and being open and honest about it is what helped me most. Miscarriage is so painful and the loss will never leave your soul, but being kind to yourself immediately afterwards definitely helps you through that little bit easier.

That being said, it still hit me hard, of course it did. I lost identical twins for goodness sake. As much as I knew that it wasn’t my fault, I was absolutely petrified that I would never carry a baby to term. Was this it for me? Was I going to be the woman who couldn’t stay pregnant? Was I going to forever feel like I didn’t belong anywhere other than the Instagram IVF community? I was scared and although I was swarming with loving family and friends, I felt so alone.

Fortunately, I had something lovely and positive to focus on and that was that Katy was expecting another baby. I was super excited to have another little nephew to love and I’ll tell you all about him and the next Frozen Embryo Transfer in Part 8.

Adios, for now.

Em x

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