Anna and I set out on our baby making journey in September of last year. We had chosen our clinic based on what we had heard from other people and what we had already come to know about them from a couple of years earlier.. What we didn’t stop to consider was that perhaps they weren’t as good as they used to be!
We decided to book our first appointment with Fertility First in Hurstville even though it was quite a drive from our home and felt comfortable with that choice. The grounds that the clinic sat on were quite beautiful and it had a very homely feel.. It was far from clinical.
We were very well prepared for our first appointment and had even had all of our blood tests and scans done prior to the day, we wanted to get stuck into it straight away. We met with the fertility specialist and discussed our medical histories and the way in which we wanted to try and conceive. Anna and I had already talked about egg sharing and agreed that it would be wonderful to carry each other’s baby so that is what we told the doctor. She gave us the great news that it would indeed be possible through IVF. We also discussed the use of donor sperm as Anna and I were adamant that we wanted to use the same donor for all of our children. It’s definitely a personal preference and we know that it’s not something that is important to everyone but it’s something that would mean a lot to us so it is not something we were willing to negotiate on. Well didn’t that make the process expensive! We were told that NSW legislation does not allow the clinic to store sperm for partners to use for sibling children and the only way that we could guarantee the same donor would be to go through IVF at the same time. Yep, you read that right! We both needed to be on meds at the same time, we both needed to stimulate our ovaries at the same time and we both needed to have our eggs retrieved at the same time! On the upside, it did not mean that we both needed to get pregnant at the same time – little did we know neither of us would be getting pregnant in a hurry!
We had our counselling appointment straight after our appointment with the fertility specialist and talked through everything we were feeling leading up to the moment and also how we would handle our journey. The counsellor also asked how we would explain everything to our kids and what we would tell them about their donor. We had a really long chat about everything and she signed us off as being ready to commence treatment. We were given a donor list and we were told we could finalise our choices closer to the time that that we needed the sperm.
A few weeks passed by and before we knew it we were starting our meds.. Synarel to begin, then some Puregon, followed by some Luveris and then good old Pregnyl to trigger ovulation 36 hours before our egg collections. Anna had her egg pick up scheduled 3 days before mine because her PCO saw her follicles coming along sooner than mine. It was an exciting time and I was keen to see how we would both go after weeks of nose sprays and needles. The time had finally come to collect those little eggs – our future babies!
The next part of our stories started off similarly, Anna had 12 eggs collected and I had 12 eggs collected. 11 of her eggs were mature and 11 of mine were also mature. Anna had 10 of her eggs fertilise and well here’s where my story changes… I had 4 fertilise! Yep. 4. The rest of my poor little eggs were shattered during the ICSI process. That’s where they inject the sperm into the egg rather than leaving it to make its own way in – apparently it’s their preferred method but not my eggs preferred method! Anna ended up with 9 gorgeous embryos that grew to day 3 and were then frozen to be used when I was ready to carry them. Of my 4 fertilised eggs, only 1 went on to form an embryo but it was where they wanted it to be by day 3 so they froze it for Anna to use one day.
Now because Anna had her pick up before me, it meant that her cycle day was too far ahead to use my embryo for a transfer in that same cycle. You see her uterus was at day 6 by the time that my embryo was at day 3 and that meant it wouldn’t be an ideal environment for it to grow and implant. I, on the other hand, reached day 3 post ovulation (egg pick up) and Anna’s embryos had been frozen at that day so they took one out of the freezer and transferred it back to me. The dreaded two week wait started. Little did we know, we would soon get used to those two week waits!
Our first embryo was named ‘Poppy’, mainly because I felt very poppy (gassy) after my egg pick up and transfer. Sadly Poppy didn’t stick around but we know that it tried to stay because my progesterone levels were quite elevated which showed that something tried to happen. That was good news and we hoped my body was trying to say it knew what it was doing and maybe that embryo just wasn’t strong enough.
After our shock in my pitiful results, we decided to switch over to Anna and to try with my one and only embryo – Nemo. We named it Nemo because “he” was the only one that survived. We grew attached to the little guy and talked about him every day in the lead up to the transfer day. We knew we would get a call from the clinic if our little Nemo didn’t survive in the thaw process. We had been told that embryos have approx. 60% chance of surviving the thaw so we hoped it would be okay. That morning was a tough one, I checked the time regularly and by 7:45am, I figured we were safe. I got up to go to the bathroom saying to Anna that it was good that we hadn’t received a call and for some reason I took my phone to the bathroom with me. The phone rang. It was the clinic telling me that Nemo did not make it. I cried down the phone and went into the bedroom to tell Anna. I had no words – only tears.
After receiving that devastating news, we made the decision to take one of Anna’s embryos out of the freezer for her to use. It was a hard decision because we wanted to follow our original plan of egg sharing but I couldn’t possibly cancel the cycle after all the needles she had leading up to it. Everything she had been put through would have been for nothing so on we went. Our second little embryo was called Bean. Sadly Bean didn’t stick around either but it was a bittersweet moment because although we were sad that another embryo was gone, we were relieved to be going back to our original plan. It was my turn again.
Our third time (which was my second transfer) was a little embryo by the name of Ninja. We named all of our embryos by what they looked like except for our first of course which was based on how I felt. Ninja had no more fight and also left us to join the other embryos in a place far away from here.
By the fourth transfer we were becoming a little more frustrated because we had signs that our little embryos were trying to hang around but something was going wrong. We decided to do a double transfer, we had a little Panda and a little Bear on board. Together they were simply Panda Bear! To think we were seriously nervous at the idea that we might fall with twins! Who were we kidding? It would be a miracle to fall with one and well.. We didn’t get that miracle.
We were suddenly down to the last two embryo’s that we could use because sadly we had lost a couple of Anna’s in the thaw process as well. We also had to leave one in the freezer for Anna to still have the donor secured for her in future too seeing as she no longer had any embryos from me left to hold the donor. Sadly we would be sacrificing an embryo because the clinic could not let us use it and still reserve our donor. If we used it and it worked that would be great but our kids would never be biologically connected. We decided to use our last 2 embryos and I had a dreaded feeling that one had not survived. Much like the feeling I had during the previous cycle where I told Anna one had not made it only to walk in and find out that one had not made it. I called the clinic on the morning of this transfer and explained that I had a horrible feeling and asked them to see if both survived. They placed me on hold.. When she came back her tone had changed and my heart sunk. I knew it. One didn’t make it. I told myself that one was better than none… Our final embryo, our final chance.
We went in for the transfer and it felt good to know that either way that would be the last time I would be sitting in that transfer chair at that clinic. It hurt every time I had a transfer done. I would cry from the pain of what felt like my insides being torn – I really don’t think it should hurt like that. No other scan or check-up that I had ever had hurt like that. It was over quite quickly and we left with the hope that this would be it. Lucky last! We named our final embryo ‘Ducky’. Someone on a forum made a comment saying it would be a lucky duck and I thought that was cute. Maybe it would be our lucky duck! Could we be that lucky? Sadly, no. It all came to an end just yesterday when I had bloods to confirm that it was indeed a negative.
We had lost pretty much all hope when we realised that something may have been going wrong only to be told it was all a roll of the dice and that it was a numbers game. We were told there was no point in changing anything up and it would eventually happen. We did nothing different to get a different outcome and it just felt hopeless. We made the decision in December that if we used our final embryos and had no success, we would be changing clinics. We were so annoyed to find out that other clinics allow you to reserve sperm for partners to carry siblings – we felt lied to. We spent all that money to both have the same donor. We both went through all those meds and all those hormonal changes together to both have the same donor. If only we knew it would be as easy as filling out a piece of paper with another clinic and we could have also had the same donor without needing to go through the rest of that.
Luckily I acted on my lack of faith with our clinic and called to make an appointment with another clinic. They had great reviews (that were actually recent) and they made me feel at ease when I spoke with them. We were able to book in an appointment with the Professor who is also the MD of the company. His wait time was over 3 months which was fine as we had the other embryos to use in the meantime. I figured if we got lucky, I could cancel our appointment. Well guess what, the appointment never got cancelled and is tomorrow! Talk about timing that well!
I guess all in all, we have had a bumpy ride up until this point, there have been tears shed, frustration and anger felt because of our lack of answers and because of a lack of care for what we felt were things that could have been looked into but now we have made peace with the fact that we will soon be able to get some answers on what might be going wrong and hopefully we can then move forward.