After 2 fresh cycles both resulting in OHSS with no transfer and 4 frozen embryo transfers all resulting in Big Fat Negatives I was done with the clinic. We had made the decision after the 4th failure that it was time for a new approach. It was the summer of 2013 when we made a self referral to a new clinic. I’d read lots of good things about them and they did extra tests to see if there were immune issues causing the implantation failures. The on-line forums were seemingly full of stories of people who had multiple failures but had pursued extra tests and had found the golden answer to the question that no-one seemed to be able to answer for us, why wasn’t this working? So, that was the new plan. It didn’t come cheap but we had decided that it would be worth it.
Our last failure was in the March and by July we were under the guidance of a new clinic. It was hardly enough time to have recovered but we needed just to get on with this. Time was slipping away and it was getting harder and harder to live with not having a family. We had 4 embryos frozen so we still had a chance. At the same time as the IVF stuff we also started the second phase of our house renovation. We had completed phase one during our first embryo transfer and now here we were a number of years later about to start that again too. We received our 1st appointment at the new clinic for September 2013. At least it meant no treatment during the next part of the renovation. By the time we went to the new clinic we were living in a building site, the house we were turning into a family home. We just didn’t have the family yet.
We went to the appointment, did the usual basic tests so blood test of me, scan for me and hubby had to give a sample. Here we go again. We talked through our history with the consultant. At last it seemed that someone was listening. We talked about the immune tests that the clinic provided and whether it would be worth us looking into at this point. The consultant agreed but they came with a warning, to tread with caution and a definite these may not be the answer. We were given lots of information to read, both for and against the tests. Immune testing in IVF is very controversial but I had read lots about it and was convinced that there would lie some answers in it for us. We walked away £400 lighter and booked in for the blood tests that we had discussed with the consultant. It was November when we had the tests, a couple for hubby and a lot more for me. We came away from that appointment £2,700 lighter. Some of the samples were sent away so it would be a few weeks before we had the full set of results. So that was just over £3,000 in 2 months just to try and get some answers.
It was November by this point, the house was nearly finished. Proud of our efforts on the house and with a renewed hope that 2014 would finally be the year where IVF worked for us, we headed towards Christmas with the usual sense of dread. We worked hard over the next few weeks finishing the house. Two weeks before Christmas we were done, it was finished. I uttered the words, I’m never moving again. We had transformed a complete wreck into a gorgeous home.
That night we went out to, we came home and the house was plunged into darkness. A power cut? No, the houses in the distance had power. I said to hubby, we haven’t been burgled have we, half panicked, half joking. That is exactly what had happened. Some fucking piece of scum had smashed their way into the house, left mud all over my new carpets and robbed us of lots of valuables. My world was rocked. How much shit could we go through? They never caught the person that did it. I couldn’t settle in the house, I didn’t want to be in it but I didn’t want to leave. I was a nervous wreck. Christmas came and went, I don’t remember anything about it. January came, the house went up for sale. I couldn’t stay there.
So, the New Year came and we continued with treatment. A few issues were detected which meant that next time we had a transfer I would take a lot more drugs. All in the hope that we could defeat this thing called infertility that was now plaguing our lives. Supposedly we had a DQ Alpha match which could mean that there was an incompatibility between us in terms of the embryos that we created. I had negative LAD & hubby had C4/M2 mutation. The consultant went through the results and explained what each meant. He did a fab job in his explanation (or so we thought at the time) and we came away with a new approach and new information. Of course, no promises were made that it would make any difference but we were willing to go with it.
We arranged for the embryos to be moved to the new clinic. It really was that straightforward, we got a company that specialises in moving embryos to move them for us. No problems there, lots of paperwork but no issues. It was April 2014 and we were ready to go again. I had intralipids, so a nurse came to the house to administer them and I sat patiently for an hour of so whilst the mix of egg and soya entered my system. It was a less medicated frozen transfer so I had no switching off of my system, it was a breeze compared to the other frozen cycles. I was taking aspirin, steroids and an oestrogen tablet that was upped over the first 2 weeks of my cycle. I also had to take calcium tablets because of some of the other drugs. Progesterone was added in the form of waxy pessaries.
The day of transfer came, I got the phone call. They had thawed 2 embryos, one was ok the other had arrested, it was gone. What did we want to do? Luckily hubby and I had already had the discussion. We wouldn’t be able to leave one frozen so we asked them to thaw the remaining 2 and put back the best 2 of the remaining 3. It would mean one embryo wouldn’t be used & would have to be discarded. I felt a strange sense of loss at that point. I was supposed to be happy that we were going for embryo replacement number 5 and I just felt sad. We got to the clinic, there was no one else waiting so we went straight in. One more of the embryos had perished, so we were left with two. We had made the right choice about defrosting them. One was looking very good, the other looked OK. Waiting for the transfer and the fire alarm went off, just a practice apparently. Not great timing given I was half undressed and laying legs apart for the world to see.
The consultant asked if we wanted a picture of the embryos, a jolt of pain rushed through me, I said No. I didn’t even think about it, I couldn’t bare to see them and have a photo if they didn’t implant. It felt like it would have been torturous. I didn’t want to become attached to a bunch of cells on a photo, I was attached to them without seeing them, they were our precious bunch of cells, our embryos, our potential future children. He said he would keep a copy on file in case I changed my mind.
Transfer done, I went home to rest. I was supposed to work mornings and have afternoons off. Two days into the two week wait and I couldn’t cope. I was a wreck at work because of the high pressure in the job. I was addicted to Dr Google and I was back in a state of limbo, just waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping. I prayed that the new drugs would make the difference. I was also injecting Clexane each evening, a blood thinner which stings like hell and leaves the most horrendous bruises. It would all be worth it, wouldn’t it?
For the first 5 days I felt really good, I was relaxed, not in work and I actually felt good. Day 6 came and I felt really unwell. I lay on the settee watching trash on TV and cried, my ovaries felt like they were going to pop and I just felt really sick and groggy. I knew this was going wrong again. Day 7 post transfer and I was watching a programme on TV about someone who went to Greece for treatment and had quads, I later took this to be some kind of sign! An hour later I was bleeding. Much earlier than ever before. I felt like crap, I just wanted this to be over. I wasn’t due to test for another 5 days but I knew it was over. I drifted through the next few days, carried on with the drugs but I knew it was done. I was done. I wanted to cling on to hope, to my precious embryos, but I knew they were gone and there was nothing I could do. I was broken in every sense of the word.
Test day came, I didn’t test. I called the clinic, I had to leave a message on an answerphone with my name, phone number and the result. It felt humiliating. A few hours later and a nurse called me back. Was I ok she asked? No I wasn’t. Did I want to see a counsellor? No, I’ve been through this 5 times now and I know I will get through it. I don’t need a counsellor, they cant change the outcome or make this work. She listened while I told her how shit it all was. Did we want a follow up? No, I didn’t. I wanted nothing, wanted no-one. There was no point. The following morning, I sat on the end of our bed looking out at the amazing view and I cried. I cried and cried some more. I told hubby I was never doing it again. I couldn’t do it again. It had destroyed me. We had spent over £5,000 and had nothing but broken hearts to show for it. The bruises that the Clexane left took weeks and weeks to go, a constant reminder of what I had done to my body. The rest of me took even longer to recover, although I don’t think that you do ever fully recover when a piece of you is stripped away over and over again.
This was the cycle that plunged me further into a depression. I just wanted the world to stop and let me off. I had no idea what we would do next, no idea when this nightmare would end. Everyone around us now had or were about to have their families, and there we were with nothing to show for 4 years of treatment. We were both exhausted and both broken. No family for us in 2014. We would have to start again if we could ever find the strength to go again. I doubted that we would but at this point in our journey, we weren’t enough for me, if there was no baby, no family then there was no point in us.
I didn’t care what was going on around us, I didn’t want to be part of anything, I didn’t want to hear about the families that were growing around us or who was having a baby next. I couldn’t get excited about anything or get involved with anything. I had isolated myself so that I could protect myself, its the only thing I knew how to do. I just wanted to curl up into a ball and most of all I wanted this hell to be over, one way or another. I had done everything that had been asked of me, taken all of the drugs that I could have to combat these so called immune issues and still I had failed. I was a nervous, anxious wreck who struggled to get from one day to the next. Infertility and IVF had destroyed me to my core. I felt like I was broken and that I was beyond repair.
Feeling like we had no future, we booked a holiday to Spain in September and another one for January, the Maldives and Dubai, a special holiday for our 10th anniversary. Everyone around us seemingly had an opinion of our love of holidays, for me it was a means to survive the coming months. It would give us something to look forward to, or so I thought. But nothing is ever that simple.
I will leave it there for now. It has reminded me just how low this process sent me. I seemingly looked ok to everyone around us but with each blow I struggled to get up and move forward. I do wonder if I will cope any differently as we move forward towards our next cycle. Even thinking about another cycle fills me with all kinds of emotions but deep down I know I will be ok, I always am.