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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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

Progress report so far

I know that I haven’t written anything for a while, but I have been pretty damn busy with life. Sam and I are getting married in 45 days (not that we’re counting or anything) and i’m working on not morphing into a bridezilla! Alongside all of this we have been slowly chipping away at the IVF process and are finally in a place where things are starting to happen. I say finally like this has been going on a while – it’s only been a few months, but we are both very eager to get started…and very anxious.

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My head seems to be all over the place right now, I cannot wait to get married and start IVF, but planning it all simultaneously is a tad overwhelming. I wouldn’t change anything for the world though. Let me fill you in on all of the happenings since our appointment at Care.

After our information session, we were sent out all the information about me becoming an egg donor – a process that not only helps infertile couples, but also reduces the cost of our IVF treatment. We both are so grateful that we have the opportunity to use donated sperm to try and conceive a child, so it seems only right that we return the favour.

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It’s also been fascinating learning all about how egg and sperm donation is no longer anonymous. And any child that is brought into the world using my eggs will be able to contact me once they are 18. When we fill in all the forms we will be given the option to know whether any children have been conceived using my eggs, and i’m currently torn about whether I would want to know – but I guess there’s still time to think it over. I also love the idea that you can leave a letter or note of some sort, should my eggs create a child, which they can read at 16 and it’s nice to know that if we do have a child, they will have the option to learn a little about their father too.

The donation forms included paperwork to fill in all about my health and fitness, as well as an investigation into my family’s health. To complete this I had to find out the medical history of my dad and my mum and then both of their parents – including their age, any medical issues they had and if they had passed away, their age and cause of death. All rather morbid stuff, but that’s all filled in and fingers crossed everything is going well so far.

A week or so after I received a phone-call inviting Sam and I to an appointment with the donation team. During this appointment I will meeting the donation nurse to fill in legal parenthood consent forms, discuss donor sperm and egg donor protocol and fill in welfare of the child forms.

followed by a trans-vaginal ultrasound (daunting) to assess my pelvic anatomy, this will also include an antral follicle count of my ovaries – it’s all technical stuff! After this I will have blood tests and I guess, await the results.unnamed

All of the information we have received has been incredibly useful – and we both feel a lot more in the know about IVF, sperm and follicles. I know that Sam was feeling particularly anxious about her relationship to our (potential) baby. And it’s been relieving to know that, as we will be married when we begin the whole process, Sam will legally be the child’s parent and her name can go on the birth certificate. It’s so amazing that non-conventional families can now be accepted to a degree, as we both have so much love to give.

My appointment is in about three weeks. So i’ll keep you posted!