Two Little Lines

We have been MIA for a month since our egg transfer – everybody needs their space to breathe whilst going through something as heavy as IVF. I’m going to bring you up to speed with our ups and downs since our last blog post mind November, where we were about to start down regulation injections… that seems so long ago!!!

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After 5 weeks of daily injections to temporarily stop periods, we were instructed by the clinic to start our down regulation drugs as well. This meant a daily injection of Menopur, alternating between 150 and 225, which will stimulate ovaries and make them grow to release more eggs. The needle was a fair bit bigger than the tiny one we were used to, and caused a lot of pain and sudden panic at around 18:58 every day. This continued for 9 days – two injections in any spot on Keren’s stomach that wasn’t already bruised and tender.
After a week, her follicles were the right size, and we were instructed to do our ‘trigger shot’ – this would prompt both ovaries to release as many eggs as possible.
Gonasi was the one we were most nervous for – this has to be administered exactly 36 hours before egg collection, and if done incorrectly, would result in a totally failed cycle. Luckily, we found ourselves booked in for collection a day and a half later.

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On the morning of egg collection we got up and drove over to the clinic, where we got settled into a private room in the newly refurbished basement of Care Fertility Manchester. After a quick visit from Patient Liaison Manager Lauren (who has been a complete rock for us throughout this whole journey!) to wish us luck, and a few doctors and nurses, Keren was wheeled away and put under a heavy sedation. The procedure only took 20 minutes – I didn’t even have time to drink my morning coffee before she was back! Both ovaries were drained, taking along as many eggs as possible.
Once she had a chance to come back round and have some water and a biscuit, we were given the wonderful news that we retrieved a wonderful haul of 19 quality eggs!!
When we started this journey back in March, we always knew we wanted to donate eggs to help another family, which meant we had to say goodbye to 9. We haven’t yet found out if the recipient has been successful, but we can do at any point.
As we left the clinic, our eggs were being fertilised – the next time we come here will be for transfer!

We were called by the clinics nurses with updates on how our eggs were multiplying and surviving their little petri-dish habitat, which was both terrifying and stressful.

  • 1 day after transfer – 6/10 eggs successfully fertilised.
    Shit. Almost half of them are gone.
  • 2 days after transfer – 6/6 have multiplied as expected. Advised to do a 5-day transfer – at an additional £425. 
    Okay, that’s better news, but now I need to find even more money I don’t have.

To add to the stress of this, at the same time Keren spent two days at the local hospital after suffering serious symptoms of OHSS – where her ovaries had over-stimulated. This can be incredibly dangerous if not diagnosed before pregnancy, with extreme cases causing difficulties with embryos, and mothers losing ovaries. Luckily for us, we noticed the symptoms and got it sorted before transfer, so narrowly avoided an absolute disaster.

We got to day 5, where we returned to the clinic to meet and transfer our strongest little embryo. We were both beyond nervous, but at least I got to go in this time to hold Keren’s hand and be there for support. No sedation needed – just legs in stirrups and we watched the whole thing happen on a screen via ultrasound! Tears streamed down my face, it was honestly the most beautiful sight, seeing this tiny micro-human being planted inside your wife to be nurtured and grow!

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This might not look like much, but is the embryo we transferred. You can see two cell masses which would eventually become the embryo and it’s placenta – and at the top right you can see where it has started to hatch!

We were sent away from the clinic – baby on board – with a pregnancy test and explicit instructions to not test until 27th December.
We read and read and read so many different things, and decided we would test on day 9 (23rd December). Nights were the worst – we would both lay awake worrying, having zero indication if it had worked. Had we just wasted months doing injections? Had we just wasted our entire life savings? Was eggo in there doing okay? What if something is wrong and we have no way of telling?
At 3am on Wednesday 20th, we both caved and decided to do a test. We sat in the bathroom, with pee on a stick developing the result, and we couldn’t bear to look for fear of crushing disappointment. We weren’t sure either of us could really deal with it if it was negative.

It was positive.
It was POSITIVE!
Two little lines.
One extremely faint, but as the days went on, the line grew stronger and we were more and more confident in saying to each other – “we are pregnant!!”

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At the time of posting this, we are 8 weeks and 1 day, have had two scans and seen a strong heartbeat.

IVF is hard, but it’s the greatest adventure I’ve had yet.

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Pricks & Periods

We have spent the last month detoxing Keren’s body – she has made the ultimate sacrifice and consumed no caffeine or alcohol, and has popped more pills than the local retirement home. This has been our preparation in the run up to starting our daily Buserelin injections, which officially marks the start of our treatment. These injections have caused a whole heap on anxieties within the household – Keren is nervous about the hormones and possible changes in behavior/mood , whilst I am absolutely petrified of needles and administering the jabs. All puns aside, I’m really not great with pricks.

22752067_10159656888370045_1225483247_nWe went to our injection lesson at Care Fertility in Manchester last week, and as always we were blown away with the quality of care given. The Donations Team could tell that I was particularly uneasy, and really took their time to explain everything thoroughly and answered all of my stupid questions (“what will happen if I inject air??”). We both did some practice jabs into a fake piece of skin – just ‘pinch an inch and pop it in at a 90 degree angle’ – easy right? Right…

Protocol

  • Buserelin will essentially start menopause – the clinic needs complete control over what Keren’s body is doing and when it is doing it, so both her and the recipient of our donor eggs will be doing this at the same time.
  • After approx 21 days, we will be called in for a ‘downreg’ scan to see if her body has successfully stopped natural cycle.
  • Once confirmed, we will have to inject Menopur in addition to the daily Buserelin. This is a stimulating drug that will prompt the ovaries to produce more eggs (the more we get, the better chance we have!)
  • Once this starts, everything is closely monitored, and we are given an exact time to administer one dose of Gonasi – this is the GO signal for the ovaries to start pumping those eggs out!!
  • 36 hours after this, Keren will be sedated and her eggs collected. Fertilization will be almost straight away, and transfer usually three days after.

We have been counting down to this weekend, where the injections start and after months of appointments, blood tests, internal scans and intense document signing, the process for making our baby actually starts! So, you can understand our frustration at not actually being able to start this weekend at all. Without wanting to discuss my wife’s body functions in too much detail, we have to start injecting on day one of her “cycle” – the first full day she is bleeding. Her periods are always so regimental – we could set our watches by when it starts and finishes – so the one time we actually want it on time, it is now three days late! ARRGH!

Who’s The Daddy?

When I first tell people my wife and I are going through IVF, they always ask the same three questions.

Who is carrying?

Are you using your eggs?

Do you know the sperm donor?

People often don’t know how to react when I tell them I’m not biologically involved – like I will be some sort of pseudo-parent. Let’s get one thing straight (ha) – DNA has very little to do with parenting!

At 18 years of age, any child conceived by IVF/IUI/ICSI will have the ability to trace the donor which made their very existence possible. When you donate, your details are put on a database with a unique ID – a system we can also use to trace the success of eggs we donate, and discover potential half-siblings. Should the need to use this database ever arise, I will fully support it, and it would never make me less of a Mother. After all, wouldn’t you be curious? I sure as hell would be!!

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The truth is, it scares me a little but it’s not something I will ever regret doing. I will be that child’s parent from the moment Keren’s egg is fertilized, and I am lucky that now I also have the law on my side to legalize that fact. I have signed documents to secure in the event of my death post insemination but pre-birth, I will still be the legally named parent.
Both Keren and I will get to sign the birth certificate.
I don’t have to adopt or fight for my right to call myself my own child’s mother, and that is a real 2017 win.

After all, I will be there at their birth (potentially passed out – big wimp here), their first day of school, and their graduation… how could I not qualify for that title!? Parenting is in the relationship and upbringing, not just genetics.

Sam Warren-Close

And so it begins…

I have wanted a family ever since I can remember and i’m lucky enough to have found a beautiful girl who wants the same thing. After discussing, researching, crying and thinking…A LOT, we finally have a meeting with a fertility clinic tomorrow that we are both excited and terrified about. But let’s start from the beginning.

Sam and I met around two and a half years ago, we live in a cute cottage together with our two cats: Tallulah and Pete and we are getting married in June!!! But what we both want more than anything right now is a family – the cats just ain’t enough.

When we first started looking into how this was possible our minds were pretty much blown! So much terminology, so many options – it was overwhelming to say the least. The first point of call was the NHS. Which after a A LOT of reading made me feel sad, frustrated and helpless. The thing with the NHS is that for lesbian couples to qualify for IVF treatment they need to prove that they have been trying to start and family. While this is all well and good for heterosexual couples with infertility problems, for a homosexual couple the only way to prove this is by first paying for private treatment. The inequality here makes me feel vile. I’m frustrated at myself that I was born gay and i’m frustrated at society for not seeing this as a major flaw in the NHS.

So…what next? After this initial setback I trawled the trusty internet. This again was horribly confusing, with so many different options to consider: IVF, IUI, egg donation, sperm selection…and don’t even get me started on the prices! So, tomorrow we are embarking on our first journey to talk to professionals at a fertility clinic, where hopefully we will leave with a little more understanding and a plan of action.

We will keep you posted!