A frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle doesn’t end with the embryo transfer procedure.
For one you continue on the medication, albeit some drugs are swapped for others after transfer and the doses tend to change. But you still have a phone full of reminders which buzz five times a day.
You also have to get through the Two Week Wait. By this point you’ve clocked up your life’s share of waiting, but IVF is the gift that keeps on giving. Some love this two week wait; technically PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise), they delight in the limbo of hope, floating in the abyss of possibility.
There is absolutely nothing we can do to know whether this embryo has even implanted let alone is going to stick around. I shuffle around the house with soft, bent knees like a toddler in a sodden nappy, trying to create extra suspension to prevent the bounce of my steps from dislodging our “precious cargo”. And that’s not even a thing.
I’m on high alert to every ache and twinge. I don’t usually get itchy toes, is this itchy toe a PREGNANCY SYMPTOM??! Honestly, I drive myself mad. Whilst also trying to hide all of these irrational thoughts and behaviours from the world. Private Browsing.
I lasted seven days into our eleven day “TWW”.
The line on the first response was so faint I was sure I was imagining things. Anyone who’s been trying to conceive for a prolonged amount of time will know all about “line eyes”.
But no, it was there.
I spent the next three weeks pissing on sticks every single day, squinting at the lines that were surely darker than the previous test.
Our line progression was slow, but it did progress. Professionals will say the darkness and thickness of the line doesn’t matter: “a line is a line”, but us IVF-ers have done enough deep-sea googling to know there is a correlation between HCG levels and pregnancy test results, just don’t ask us for the science. We’re scrappling for any little clue/insight/reassurance we can find, okay!
So we were pregnant, but not really believing it or letting ourselves celebrate. We know all too well by now that a pink line doesn’t mean we’re bringing home a baby. Plus we still had our “viability scan” before we could graduate from the fertility clinic and be handed over to midwife care.
But graduate, we did, when our seven week scan showed everything was where it should be and a little heartbeat was flickering on the screen. Oh my, how it had grown from that spec of light on the transfer ultrasound.
“It’s taken a couple of weeks post-Official Test Day, but I think we’re finally letting the joy sprinkle in and settle amongst the fear.
I don’t think the worry or anxiety of infertility and pregnancy-after-loss will ever dissipate, but at least now it’s speckled with the glitter of excitement. We’re allowed to feel both.”
It wasn’t until this point that I felt brave enough to download any pregnancy apps.
The language in pregnancy after loss is always shrouded in uncertainty; everything is for now. I’m not sure at what point you actually begin to trust the pregnancy enough to plan for the arrival of a real life baby. I wish I knew.
We floated through the days clinging tightly onto every tiny victory – every milestone reached, and appointment scheduled, every bout of nausea and bloating and headache. I spent weeks tentatively nibbling on dry crackers with a tired smile at the constant exclamations of, “this is a good sign!” lest I dare even think about complaining.
We danced our way through Christmas and New Year, reveling, for once, in the celebrations rather than buckling under the triggers of infertility and loss. Our turn. But still we did not allow baby gifts on our wish list. We did not book any scans for fear of ruining the holidays. Niggling, always, at the back of our minds.
At eleven weeks my nausea suddenly vanished and was replaced by desperate hunger. All. The. Time. No longer reliant on carbs as my only food source, I was craving fruit and vegetables and fresh home-cooked meals akin to over-filtered instagram posts. After weeks restricted to oven chips and boiled pasta, Will could finally flourish in the kitchen. This was his time to shine!
My bloated belly (encouraged by the IVF drugs) was now bulging out of my skinny jeans and I resorted to trackies and baggy tops, still too scared and untrusting to invest in maternity clothes.
In 2018 we had the booking-in appointment just days away and the 12-week scan in the diary when it was all taken from us with a missed miscarriage at 7-weeks.
“Safe to say the 12 weeks of pregnancy this time around have been full of anxiety and trepidation; an eagerness to reach milestones before they’re snatched away.”
I had my booking-in appointment with my midwife and finally received the much longed for maternity folder (a definite upgrade from the IVF folder). We had never got this far before.
“Excitement + fear = hope.
Hope disperses the clouds and splashes the sky with colour.” 🌈
But with the holidays over we were desperate to know that this was real, that our baby was sticking around. Our NHS 12-week scan and screening tests weren’t until 14-weeks and there was no way we could wait that long.
To help keep the anxiety at bay I booked us into an (extortionately priced) private scan.
“I finally have THE folder, which I suppose feels like proof of a “normal” pregnancy, and tonight we have our 12-week scan.
I’m keeping the fear at bay and trusting that our little one is okay. We can’t wait to see you.”
Gosh. What an incredibly expensive way to have our hearts broken.