What to expect when you’re not expecting XX: The stress and the excitement of it all

On Monday we went in for egg harvesting. Last time we did that we managed to get 5 eggs out which isn’t a great result but we were very happy because we’d been expecting 3 max. This time we tried not to have expectations because of the 5 they got out last time, precisely zero fertilised. Which sucked.

So we went in again in the morning. As is the deal with these things, I have to do very little. Kim bears the brunt of it. She got all suited up in the pretty hospital gown and we settled in to wait. Our last scan had shown 8 follicles of reasonable size so if we got 8 we’d be happy with that outcome.

The nurses struggled to find a vein to pump the anaesthetic in so we had to wait for the doctor to do it and it had to go straight into her hand. We go into the theatre and the doctor gets the needle in first time. Good job doctor. Kim starts to ask whether the anaesthetic should work straight away then tails off as the anaesthetic starts to work straight away. She goes from lucid to space cadet in seconds. Remarkable.

The procedure sounds horrible. A needle goes up inside the vagina, pierces the vaginal walls and then pierces the ovaries to hoover up the eggs. I tense just thinking about it. I tense even more writing about it. Last time we’d gone through this with the 5 eggs, Kim hadn’t really felt a thing. This time was quite different. For whatever reason this time hurt a lot more. She’d buck. She’d squeeze my hand, she’d swear. And each time this happened the doctor would ask her not to do that as he needed her to stay still. Yeah nice one buddy, you try staying still if you’re having needles stuck into your bifkin.

After 20 minutes through which Kim looked like she was suffering a lot, and the assistants kept handing vials filled with god-knows-what through a hole-in-the-wall and numbers kept being yelled out to us we settled on 12. Twelve eggs! We were pretty chuffed with that. That was way better than 5. And with us injecting the sperm straight into the egg instead of relying on it to happen “naturally”, we should be guaranteed of some fertilisation. So off I toddled into the masturbatorium to do my bit which was dutifully done in one of the grimmest rooms you can imagine, if Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, he went and stole it all from this room.

We went home and just hung out. Doing nothing in particular, but enough to try and distract us. We’d got to this stage before and that had ended in fucking disaster. Kim had asked the embryologist to call my phone instead of hers. I dunno, maybe she’s bad luck? You try everything.

At 8.37am the next morning we got the call. Fortunately the embryologist understood our need for info and very quickly told us it was a good result. Of the twelve eggs they’d harvested, ten had been mature enough to attempt to fertilise and of those ten, 9 had taken. We had 9 fertilised eggs! For the first time in this whole fucking rollercoaster we were actually above average. This was good news. And because of that number they’d leave them to try and get a day 5 transfer.

The other fascinating thing to come out of that phone-call was that I got my wish. I was finally able to bear some of the burden. Throughout this whole thing it’s always seemed like the problem in our conceiving has been at Kim’s end but the embyrologist was able to tell us that actually some of my jizz was lacking acrosome which is used to break down the outside of the egg and allow the little warm dudes inside the egg. Though not present in my whole sample it was still there and could represent a barrier to conception. Combined with the clusterfuckery that was everything else.

With IVF embryos, you either do a day 3 or day 5 transfer. Day 3 transfers are done if you don’t have many fertilised eggs, so a day 5 transfer is preferable – gives you a better look at what’s likely to stick. So this week has been all about waiting, and people have kept asking me if it was an agonising wait. And it hasn’t been. It’s been a nice wait. Because we were doing well and so it was feeling good. That hope that had vanished so long ago was back and I was feeling positive again.

So that brings us to today, Friday, day 4. We’ve been waiting to hear how we did, and if any embryos had made it to this stage for us to go back in and have one transferred back into Kim. And all the positivity vanished and I’ve been nervous and anxious as hell all morning.

Kim rang before, and she didn’t share the same insight as the embryologist and started talking about other things and I interrupted her to ask if she had news because I can be an impatient jerk. And she did have news.

Of the 9 that fertilised, we had been told on day one that four or five looked more viable than the rest. And now we were told that there was 1, probably 2, that were viable for transfer back. There were more that may catch up between now and tomorrow but that we’d have one or two. Probably. Because they may all die off before tomorrow. Or we might get more. So really not a whole lot of useful information.

This to me is acceptable news without being jump for joy news. I suppose I’d hoped we’d get 4 or 5 that were viable so that if we were lucky enough to be successful, we could freeze the remainders and go back and get another one if and when we were ready for a second child. Or if this one didn’t stick then we’d have back-ups. But we don’t have as much of a luxury as I’d hoped. So I’m a little bit disappointed. But also relieved that this isn’t over. But also anxious that this isn’t over. Because even when it ends in a shitty result at least there’s some sense of relief at the closure. I’m assured that this is a very normal result for IVF treatment so my disappointment may be misplaced, but when we got told we had 9 fertilised I may have got a little ahead of myself. This is a shitty rollercoaster.

So tomorrow morning we’ll venture back to that bloody clinic where we’ve spent so much of our life this year and Kim will go through yet another procedure as we hope there are what are now called “blastocysts” – fertilised embryos – are ready to go back into the host and hopefully develop into a mini-me.

I’m nervous. Disappointed. Excited. Stressed. It’s a lot of emotions to try and process and so I’ll just focus on my work.

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