Chapter Ten: IVF Snapshot (Part 1)

After The Great Pause of the Coronavirus Pandemic, we finally got a call to return to the fertility clinic, six months after our failed first cycle.

This time, thanks to our little gang of frozen embryos in storage, we would be embarking on a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). I thought this would be easier, quicker, simpler than the fresh transfer cycle we did at the start of 2020. There was no surgery needed for a frozen cycle; no stimulation drugs, or harvesting of eggs. Our embryos were waiting on ice, ready and raring to go.

Pop them in, I thought!

What a naive fool I was.

This FET dementor’d the shit out of me.

I’ve not been able to face writing about it until now, and even then I’m cheating. My memory is foggy and no doubt biased with a seething rage towards those fertility drugs, so I’m using the instagram posts I wrote on my secret insta account (god bless the infertility community online!) to create a diary of sorts. A snapshot into the life of a FET cycle (from the perspective of a very hormonally sensitive, side-effect-prone patient).

Please note: This is my own personal experience of a frozen embryo transfer cycle and all views are my own. Not everyone becomes as moody as me on the drugs and many have no side effects at all! Good for them.

FET Day 1 (27th September 2020)

I’m not saying I’m a pathetic, hormonal mess who’s over sensitive to fertility drugs, but I did my first Buserelin injection at 8pm tonight and by 10.30pm I had a headache, had drunk 1 litre of water, was falling asleep on the sofa, and had already cried 3 times.

Looks like we’ve got a fun few weeks in store…

A collection of IVF medications sprawled on the floor.
Buserelin injections, Cyclogest pessaries, Progynova tablets, Sharps box.

FET Day 5 (1st October 2020)

Yesterday I felt so exhausted and engulfed by these new IVF meds; the stress of feeling so outside my own body overwhelmed me and I couldn’t muster the energy to get anything done, which only stressed me out more. But I listened to the advice of the #InfertilityCommunity (thank you), and I listened to my body which was crying out for rest. Sometimes doing nothing is the most productive thing we can do. It’s how we repair, recover, rejuvinate.

Since completing ‘Couch to 5k’ I had subconsciously made a rule to never run less than 5 kilometres. But that meant on days like yesterday when my body felt heavy and my emotions fragile, I didn’t run at all.

Today I woke up feeling refreshed, in body, mind and attitude: I didn’t need to run 5k, I just needed to run. So I got my trainers on, blasted my #rainbowrunningclub playlist, and let my body lead the way; pounding my stresses and hot flushes and exhaustions into the road. I finally felt in control of my own body again. I ran a speedy and heartfelt 3k and then I saw a sign (a literal sign) outside someone’s house, advertising some free plant cuttings, colourful pots of sprigs lined up atop the flower bed.

A very happy Jade with her new-found plant.

This felt like the perfect cue to stop. I picked up the smallest plant pot, the one I thought no one else would choose, gave a wave to the empty window, and walked the rest of the way home with a smile on my face.

And this kind gift from a stranger is more than just some spindly leaves to look after; it’s a lesson learnt – I am in control of my body, no matter how out of whack and exhausted these drugs make me feel; and a reminder to not put too much pressure on myself.

A run’s a run however small, the big thing is to run at all.

FET Day 6 (2nd October 2020)

Chunks of cut-up pineapple. Yum!

My Mum came home this evening proudly brandishing a pineapple, so chuffed that she had done a “fertility thing”, my heart is fit to burst.

She shouted out, “It represents! Did I get it right?!” as she waved it in the air, before chopping it up for a scrummy pre-dinner (fertility-friendly) snack.

So right. So so right.

FET Day 11 (7th October 2020)

The FET FURY is real!

FET Day 12 (8th October 2020)

Finding pockets of joy.


FET Day 26 (22nd October 2020)

The Infertile’s Advent Calendar: Progynova.

This FET can get moving now – been on these mood-slashing drugs for WEEKS. I’m exhausted.

FET Day 31 (27th October 2020)

FET lining scan day.

A date with Wanda after 7 months away (and 4.5 weeks on these bastard drugs!) to see if I’m ready for transfer.

Why am I filled with dread?

Is this some weird PTSD cropping up from our miscarriage in 2018, or fear after our failed cycle in March, or am I just out of practice as I’ve not been to our clinic since our transfer 7 months ago?

I don’t know, but I’m not feeling good.

Send positive vibes please.

A field of clover.
Here’s a pic of some clover from our summer country walks.
I really fucking hope there’s a four-leaf mingling in there somewhere.


FET Day 33 (29th October 2020)

Tuesday was a very stressful morning of pre-appointment anxiety (thank you IBS), a very painful date with Wanda (love being punched in the ovaries by bastard Dildocam!), and then lots of waiting to speak to the Doctor who was quite frankly pretty fucking patronising.

A cyclogest pessary.
Cyclogest Pessary

But we finally managed to talk to someone about upping my progesterone (thanks to Tommy’s PRISM trial), and though he acted like I was some naive little girl obsessed with Dr Google (which isn’t the case; this is my body and I’ve done my research and deserve to advocate for myself!) he eventually gave me some extra Cyclogest with some side sass of, “though I doubt it will make much difference.”

Thanks for your patience and understanding, doctor. Thanks for appreciating that when a woman feels absolutely helpless and drowning in an emotionally gruelling, physically invasive treatment plan that she has no control over, she might be seeking a bit of reassurance. Thanks for making me feel like little more than a statistic (with a 70% chance of failure, he liked to add).

But hey, we have our transfer booked for next Wednesday and I can’t wait to go there all on my own, half naked and vulnerable with my legs in stirrups, whilst I’m poked and prodded by a room full of strangers.

Fuck, I hope it works and we don’t have to go through this again.

FET Day 38 (3rd November 2020)

A box full of goodies which had been gifted.
Goodies!

Feeling super lucky and loved right now (which is a welcome change to the usual FET brain fog and fear).

Had TWO lovely surprises from my two best friends sending me the most thoughtful and lovely little packages this week.

And just in time for tomorrow’s transfer! This is going to be the cosiest and most pampered TWW (two week wait) yet!

FET Day 39 (4th November 2020)

I’ve been full of dread and anxiety this entire cycle.

I’ve suffered constant headaches, nausea, exhaustion and extreme low mood throughout.

There have been days spent curled up in a ball on the floor listening to rain playlists to quiet the fury and sadness.

This morning I had 3 anxiety-induced IBS attacks before our morning transfer.

Yet the moment our little embryo flashed at me on the monitor, all the stress and sadness that’s been weighing me down whooshed away.

Maybe it was separation anxiety all along.

Maybe I just needed you home.

Maybe this time you’ll stay.

Please?

An ultrasound scan of our embryo when it was transferred, circled with a hand-drawn heart.

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