We thought they had. Which is part of the fun of IVF. One day is great, the next is shit. And then great. And then shit. And then it either ends great! Or it ends shit. *Spoiler alert* this one ends shit.
Heading into yesterday’s egg harvest we were not confident. After we’d only been able to see three mature-looking follicles at our last scan we were not-quite-but-close-to resigned to failure. It felt like we were dragging our feet to an execution chamber. So in we went. The staff at our IVF clinic were just amazing. Supportive, informative, fun, it was as good an experience as we could have had.
Then my amazing, brave and powerful wife had to go through the steps before we went into theatre for her collection. They gave her a pretty powerful sedative which started to take effect within about 3 minutes.
“Are you supposed to look all fuzzy?” she asked the staff.
Apparently they were.
I was on a stool next to Kim as she lay back and had all manner of things put inside her, she didn’t flinch. She didn’t cry. She didn’t fight it. She was amazing. She was also high as a kite. At one stage she asked what the needle was for the doctor was using .
The doctor told her it was local anaesthetic. “Oh” said Kim. “I love needles”.
High Kim is hilarious Kim.
I’m going to explain the process now. The squirmish among us may want to avert your eyes.
They put a sharp thingy-me-bob (pretty sure that’s the technical term for it) into the vagina, then pierce the vaginal wall and keep going before entering the ovaries. I have none of the parts I mention in this paragraph but even I hurt just thinking about it. One again confirming how shit this process is for the woman compared to the man.
They then take the sharp thing and pierce the follicles. On the ultrasound you can see this happen. Then the sharp thing turns out to be a mini vacuum cleaner (haunting me from the last post!) and it hoovers up a bunch of fluid from inside the follicle. This comes down a tube and fills a test tube that is precariously placed next to where I sit. Then a nurse picks them up and gingerly walks to a hole in the wall and passes the test tube through to the embryologist who is a disembodied voice on the other side of the wall. The embryologist then looks at the fluid collected and calls out whether there’s an egg.
“ONE!” she shouted after the first one went through. Then “TWO”. Then “THREE”. Goodness we were doing well. And this was just the first ovary.
Also you’ll be pleased to know it only took me to the second egg before I realised I could be Count von Count. So after “TWO” I replied “TWO. AH HA HA” back at the hole in the wall.
Into the second ovary and suddenly the hole in the wall went quiet. The tubes kept a’fillin, and being passed through but no more noises came out. Then when they’d finished and everything was pulled out of Kim and we thought we were done suddenly a voice rang out, “FIVE”.
Five! That’s two more than we even thought possible. We were elated. Five! We high fived. Five! It’s not great in the grand scheme of IVF but from our position it was a miracle. We were fucking chuffed. Then we went back to the recovery room where Kim sat back in the lazy-boy like the fucking champion she is. Kim’s mum was with us and we were all just so elated. We had a win! We’d had so few wins that we grabbed this one and held it close to us and wouldn’t let it go. More high fives.
Then the nurse said it was my turn. Now “my turn” is a lot easier than “Kim’s turn”. My turn is just jizzing in another jar. I’m not going to lie, there was an extra layer of awkwardness walking off to do this knowing that my mother-in-law was with my wife and they both knew exactly what I was doing. And it wasn’t a thought I could easily shake. But I was still on cloud nine from the result so I didn’t care.
I did my bit. And returned to wife and mother-in-law and then Kim said said those words you never want to hear from your wife. “Jesus that was quick.”
Then I realised I hadn’t taken a photo of the room and I desperately wanted to because it’s so bleak I wanted to share it with everyone. So I went back to the nurses’ station.
“Is there anyone in the room?” I asked. “Why?” said the nurse. “Do you want ANOTHER go?!”
Very funny nurse. But no, I told her I just wanted a photo because I wanted to show everyone how bleak it is.
“We’re open to any suggestions to improve it” she said. “The wifi password” I replied.
Anyway here’s the photo if y’all want to think about where I did my bit.
So with my bit done, and Kim’s bit done we were off. We’d finished. It was out of our hands. What happens next is that my sperm is chucked into a petri dish with Kim’s eggs and then sperm has to figure its way into Kim’s eggs. That happens over a period of 17ish hours so they ring you the next morning. We went home cock-a-hoop. We were sharing the good news with everyone who had been supporting us over this rollercoaster of a beast. Twitter posts, Facebook posts. Yay. Even in the infertility subreddit we’re a part of – people are excellent there by the way. Some parts of Reddit are good you know.
Everyone was wonderfully happy and supportive. So many nice messages across so many different media. Wooh. We had a win. A win.
Kim’s mum stayed at our place for a while, my parents came over. We were all basking in the glory of it all. Five eggs!
Last night I couldn’t sleep very well. I was on such a high, but I was mindful how low it could get. So I lay awake and read Doctor Google on a lot of stuff around fertilisation rates. Apparently it’s around 75 per cent of eggs harvested get fertilised. 75! That’s heaps. 75% of 5 would mean at least 3 eggs to hopefully grow into blastocysts and give us the child we so desperately wanted.
At 830 this morning the positive messages were still pouring in from people so happy for us. But then we also got the phone call from the clinic. We had the phone on speaker phone. We could hear the embryologist’s voice wasn’t happy. We could hear all the words she was saying that were filler. We could tell that things hadn’t gone well. And then she confirmed it. No eggs fertilised overnight. None. Zero.
I felt for that embryologist. She had to ring people to deliver shit news.
All the high of yesterday was replaced by a crushing low. All the breath in me escaped when she said that. All the positivity and warmth and excitement gone too. Instead there was a numbness. Weirdly there was also a sense of relief. This was easier to deal with than the shitty scans because while this meant we weren’t having a baby right now, it was at least finality. It was some kind of closure. The shitty scans were shit but they still had hope, so you mixed sadness with hope. Now we had no hope. Which is awful. But it also brings this chapter to a close.
We’re both fucking devastated. But we’ll be ok. And I know we’ll be ok because we have such good friends and such lovely family and because we love each other so much. And we have a great fireplace that’s currently burning and two cats who are keeping us company right now. None of these things are a baby but they’ll do.
All of our friends have struggled to find the words and I’m sorry for that. It’s shit for us. It’s shit for everyone. We’ve put a post on Facebook and I’m pleased that there’s more than just a “Like” button to click because otherwise that’d be awkward huh? But playing this out in public so that others who were struggling wouldn’t feel alone has had the benefit that when it gets shit for us we also have some wonderful people we don’t even know sending us messages of love.
So fuck it aye? What a shit result. Now we’ll be sad together, then we’ll talk to the clinic and find out as much as we can, why did it not work? Is it a surmountable problem? Where will we find the money for more rounds (well the clinic probably won’t help there)?
But we’ll be ok. We’ll dust ourselves off and keep going. Life doesn’t stop because you have a setback. Life keeps going. Life…uh…finds a way.