When I wrote a post called Thinking About Another Baby nearly four years ago, I had no idea that I would end up here, telling you the story of our first IVF cycle. Back in 2012, we started on a motorway of hope to grow our family, which downgraded to a dual carriageway when I worried that I might not be able to have another homebirth after a Lletz treatment.
The dual carriageway turned into a national road when a question over whether I’d be able to carry a baby to full term arose and we took steps that meant any future babies would be born by C-section.
The smooth tarmac became a winding back road when months of mileage were clocked up but no positive pregnancy test materialised.
The speed bumps appeared when we finally submitted to the fact that maybe some help might be required.
And finally we entered the narrow laneway of IVF after our preference to go the less invasive route of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) was scuppered by my troublesome cervix. A cervix which made one doctor storm out of a room in frustration and created more than a bead of sweat on the forehead of others.
So there we stood at the edge of the path, looking up at the signpost that said “this way for IVF” and together – Mr Mind the Baby and me – we decided that now that we were here, we might as well…
Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger was ringing in our ears. The IVF was happening. The money was paid, the drugs were in the fridge and by Jaysus were we going to make a go of this, if it was the last thing we did.
We were like a mini squad of cheerleaders. Healthy diets all round. Bye bye caffeine, bye bye alcohol, bye bye cold foods. Hello fresh, natural,
expensive, wholefoods. Artificial anything begone!
I wrote and repeated affirmations of positivity and success for every sniff, swallow and vial of medication. I used three different hypnosis programmes. By concidence, I had recently completed a mindfulness course so every day I made it my business to carve out 15 minutes of mindfulness practice.
I went to bed early.
I embarked on a course of acupuncture treatments.
I read many encouraging books.
I only ate warm food (more on this later…).
We talked about it with excitement and anticipation.
Mr Mind The Baby was a rock of enthusiasm, positivity and support. We just had to get through this and it would be all worth it in the end.
I was a steely superhero of courage for the almost daily blood tests, even though I have a lifelong fear. Himself gave me my daily injections because there’s only so much a gal can take. But it was great that we were doing it together.
On a Friday morning, when it looked like my uterine lining mightn’t be thick enough, I made these:
…and repeated them over and over, visualising intensely with all my heart. By Monday, it had thickened more than enough and egg collection got the green light.
After a few nail biting days of waiting – oh god, the waiting – we were over the moon when we discovered that not only did we have three embryos, but that they’d made it to blastocyst stage*, so we had one to transfer this IVF cycle and two to freeze for the future.
On transfer day we were like super-optimistic enthusiasm bunnies. This was it. We’d get a baby out of this one and then when we were ready in a couple of years, we’d have baby number 3 and then 4. Our family complete. Amazing! And so exciting! It had all been worth it for this moment. We even took a sneaky selfie of the two of us in our surgical caps and gowns before we went in, secretly thinking that we could show this photo to our kids and tell them the happy story.
My troublesome cervix again threatened to bring down the buzz when it took 90 minutes to get the catheter in position for the embryo to pass through.
It usually takes 5 to 10 minutes.
Bullets were sweat in that room. Looks were exchanged over surgical masks and the clock was watched. All the way through, I remained perfectly calm, repeating my affirmations silently, encouraging my cervix to soften, relax and open like a flower. I breathed deeply and relaxed my body.
When we saw the flash of the embryo moving from the catheter into my uterus on the ultrasound screen, my whole body shook with relief and the uncontrollable sobbing started. It was over, we had done it. We even went out for a nice lunch to celebrate and relax.
We had given it all. We tried so hard. The bits that we could control, we took them by the balls – figuratively and literally, in this case – and knocked them out of the park. We had done all we could do.
Now we just had to wait…
COMING NEXT: Unpleasant presence
ALSO IN THIS SERIES:
*I won’t get into the technicalities of IVF if the terms aren’t familiar to you. There’s loads of other blogs that do that and a quick google will get you a more accurate definition than anything I can cobble together. But to give you context, getting to blastocyst stage can be a positive thing.